Cosmetics: the price of being beautiful

By Sabina Idayatova

Being always beautiful is a dream of every woman. Though beauty mostly comes naturally, cosmetics are helpful to accomplish this "eternal task" by stressing every exquisite feature of femininity. However, the quality of such helpmates of women sometimes dashes their hopes; perfumes not withholding a proper smell, low quality rouge, powder, eye shadows or forged produce sold even in well-known cosmetics boutiques can be a problem.

The quality of cosmetic products and an increase in fake merchandise sold in cosmetic shops recently raised questions in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the Technical Council on Standardization and Technical Regulation under Azerbaijan's State Agency on Standardization, Metrology and Patents has stepped up quality control measures over cosmetics imported and sold in the country.

In the first quarter of 2013, state control measures were implemented in seven business entities dealing with the import and sale of such products. In the process the compliance of the quality of decorative cosmetics, nail polishes, skin creams and perfumes with regulatory requirements in force in Azerbaijan was tested.

As a result, defects were found in six entities, and their import of cosmetics was prohibited.

The State Committee on Standardization, Metrology and Patents will conduct check-ups over the quality of the perfume products sold in the country in the coming days, head of the Committee's State Control Service Abulfat Imanov has said.

"This area is one of those which are under strict control, and in the coming days control raids will be conducted, the results of which will be brought to public attention," Imanov told journalists on Monday.

In case products which do not meet the quality standards are detected, first the sale of the produce will be banned and then its utilization will follow.

The entrepreneurs and citizens involved in the sale of low quality products will face penalties and punitive action in accordance with the Code of Administrative Offences.

Spokesman for the state committee for standardization, Fazil Talibli, told Azernews that quality products can be determined only with the certificate of conformity that is issued by the committee`s accredited certification bodies for the product before its sale in the domestic market.

The Conformity Certificate is provided for cosmetics only when the standards of the product are compliant with the relevant legal document which is in effect in Azerbaijan. If the product meets respective requirements, passing laboratory tests in terms of its composition, safety for the consumer, etc., a certificate is granted for sale for a year-long period in case the product is made in the country, and for six months if it is imported from abroad. Otherwise -- if non-compliance with the Azerbaijani standards is revealed -- marketing of the product is not allowed.

According to Talibli, before importing cosmetic products, importers provide samples for laboratory testing after which safety of the product is proven and permission is given for imports.

Usually, the criteria on all cosmetic products are checked firstly. The product`s safety, chemical and microbiological properties, heavy metal content, labeling, color and even scent are reflected in these requirements.

Talibli said fake and low quality products are encountered in all countries, however, defining the difference and quality of cosmetics depends on the intellect and consciousness of a consumer; there is ground for suspicion over the product's quality that is sold for a price many times below that of the original product.

Considering the given facts, the Committee calls on consumers to be cautious while buying perfume and cosmetics, to request a Certificate of Conformity from the seller, and in case of encountering poor-quality products, use the Committee`s 963 hotline.

Talibli also noted that sale of low-quality products has not been revealed in any brand stores so far, as entrepreneurs working in this field surely will avoid any kind of activity casting a shadow on the fame achieved over many years.

Meanwhile, using too much make-up on a daily basis inundates a woman's body with as much as 5 pounds of chemicals a year, leaving the skin in poor condition, according to researches. Some of the compounds of cosmetics and toiletry have side effects such as skin problems, premature aging and even cancer.

Moreover, cosmetics and makeup can inhibit human skin from breathing and can harbor bacteria and help external impurities causing skin problems.

Azerbaijan's State Service for Antimonopoly Policy and Consumer Protection under the Ministry of Economic Development recommends consumers to read the component list of the product very carefully when buying it. If there is no information on the composition of the product people should avoid buying such cosmetics. However, in most cases the producers hide the complete list of components or change the titles of the hazardous substances, indicating only natural supplements.

According to the World Health Organization, the most dangerous cosmetics are face creams causing allergies. In particular, the consumers should be careful when buying cosmetics containing aluminum, butane, diethanolamine, propane, mineral cosmetics, etc.

Another important point to be paid attention to by consumers is the product's shelf life and storage conditions. The people who are prone to allergies should avoid using cosmetics with a long shelf life, as the preservatives in cosmetics enabling long-term storage can spur a riskier allergic reaction.

Moreover, the shelf life of cosmetic products is determined by the manufacturer and during a given period of time the quality of the product is ensured. For example, the storage period of mascara is on average 3-6 months, while that of antimony is 6-12 months; eye shadows, eye and eyebrow pencils, lipstick, rouge and powder can be stored for 12 to 18 months.

Cosmetologists recommend using cosmetic products of major firms as their products are properly tested before sale, however, they are not completely secure either, as dangerous synthetic additives and toxic supplements are not excluded in their composition. In particular, collagen that is used in the preparation of cosmetic products closes the pores of the skin hindering evaporation of water.

Furthermore, the collagen used in the manufacturing of cosmetics is derived from cattle skin and birds, which does not match human skin.

Another dangerous substance in cosmetics is elastin, a component in many advertised skin and hair care products. With aging elastin molecules in a human body collapse, resulting in wrinkles on the skin and in order to restore the previous freshness of the skin elastin of animal origin is added to the composition of the product.

One more dangerous substance in the composition of cosmetic products is lanolin known as an emollient. Lanolin is believed to engulf to the skin, increasing its sensitivity and even making the person prone to allergies.

Cosmetics can bring about a huge change and build confidence in women. However, caution needs to be exercised while using such products. Before buying any cosmetic product, make sure that it is meant for your skin type, is not harmful for your body and will not bring you any discomfort in the future. Rely on the products of well-known brands, which have excelled in making high quality cosmetic products.