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Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

Reviewed by SarahK April 13, 2012 24 Comments

As an extreme minimalist, I keep my makeup usage down to maybe five days per week, and even that is generous. But when I do put on makeup, my one staple is Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer. I’ve been using it for about six years now and without it, I am extremely self-conscious of the dark circles that seem to be permanent fixtures under my eyes.

Bobbi Brown is the one cosmetics company I splurge on, simply because I’m so happy with its products. The concealer does not wear off throughout the day, never looks caked on and rarely creases.

Because I just started writing for Truth in Aging last week, I thought it would be appropriate to research and review my favorite cosmetics brand. Though I must say, I was pretty anxious about what I might uncover; while I have only been working for TIA for a short period of time, I am well aware of how quickly a favorite product can fall from grace after a brief look at its list of ingredients. Still, given the reputation of this particular cosmetics company, I was pretty sure that my anxiety would prove to be unnecessary.

The woman behind the company, Bobbi Brown, is quite impressive; not only does she have an incredibly successful makeup line, but also she is The Today Show’s beauty editor and author of several beauty-oriented books, including Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty and Bobbi Brown Makeup Manual. iFashion Network listed the renowned beauty expert as one of the “Top 7 makeup artists you should know.”

When it comes to Bobbi Brown products, the plethora of availability coupled with outstanding reviews definitely sways me toward the “I love Bobbi!” direction. And further swaying me is the company’s FAQ section on its website. It addresses the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals European Union regulation that pertains to consumer and environmental safety issues, and claims that Bobbi Brown is “committed to selling only safe products.” The FAQ section also addresses and answers the question: “What do the symbols on your packaging mean?” It is responsible and rare for a company to explain what certain markings on a product mean, though it is important to do so – information like the expiration date (which is often surprisingly unclear) and the “Period After Opening” symbol are crucial to cosmetic safety.

So far, so good for Bobbi Brown. But the true test for any cosmetic product is the ingredients it is made up of, and how helpful and harmful those ingredients are. Unfortunately, it was near impossible to find a list of ingredients for any Bobbi Brown products, anywhere on the web. The company’s website proved unhelpful, as did the Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Macy’s sites, all of which sell Bobbi Brown products. Red flags went up immediately after noting this suspicious lack of information. And I’m not the only one who had a hard time finding ingredients, either. There are plenty of people complaining on message boards and commenting on blogs about how difficult it is to find a precise list of ingredients. In her rating of Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base, one person claims that being unable to find ingredients for the product  “is another common problem with Bobbi Brown cosmetics and skin care products.” Yet another person writes on her blog, “I have no idea what’s in her other products. It’s scary to think I could be putting harmful things on my face…” after reviewing Bobbi Brown SPF 50 UV Protective Face Base – which, according to the blogger, contains oxybenzone (a chemical linked to free radicals, melanoma, and breast cancer).

So while Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and related stores and companies failed to provide ingredient information, certain blogs and message boards helped fill some gaps. One website lists talc, an agent that has been linked to ovarian and lung tumors, as the main ingredient in Bobbi Brown Bronze Shimmer Brick, and lists silica, a mineral that may be dangerous depending on its form, as another component of the product. Another site also lists talc as the first ingredient and silica as the third, as well as zinc stearate (an irritant), the controversial BHT and Propylparaben in another product – Bobbi Brown Sheer Finish Pressed Powder. Finally, another site lists the potentially dangerous phenoxyethanol, methylparaben, propylparaben, ethylparaben, and butylparaben as some ingredients in Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Cream.

On top of all that bad news, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database listed the Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream and the Bobbi Brown Lathering Tube Soap as moderate hazards, and the Bobbi Brown Blush as a high hazard. However, it is important to note that there are substantial data gaps for all of these ratings.

Also important to note is the fact that there are a few sites that list Bobbi Brown products with seemingly safe ingredients, including Bobbi Brown Hydrating Gel and Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics is highly reputable and I can vouch for how well they can work. But, as I’ve learned from my experience at TIA, just because something makes your skin look nice doesn’t mean it’s being nice to your skin. I am still open to using Bobbi Brown products, but I will certainly be more weary and cautious about ingredients while doing so.

  • April 22, 2017

    by Louise

    Hello, Thank you so much for this article, although I'm a bit disappointed. I was hoping that the research of the writer would reveal good news about Bobbi Brown's skincare line. I work very hard at keeping what I eat and where are free of parabens- highly toxic and typically found in cosmetics.

    I was amazed when the writer stated that she would continue using these products at all! There are so many options out there that are truly healthy for your skin. Longtime cosmetics line Borghesi is paraben free! And there are more.
    One thing people/women should know about parabens: research shows that the impact of using paraben filled products is that it effects babies!! In fact it has caused cancer in babies based on the toxins in cosmetics worn by their mothers and other women they come into contact with!!

    I truly hope that others get to read this if they don't have this info.

  • June 6, 2016

    by Vickie Arellanes

    Thank you for posting this, I need something new for my skin and I had considered Bobbi Brown cosmetics. I put enough chemicals in my body with meds!

  • January 18, 2016

    by Heather

    I just started making my own makeup. It is hard to find ingredients that work as well as chemical laden cosmetics. I would rather look naturally beautiful, than toxically beautiful!!!

  • December 17, 2015

    by Claire

    I threw out all my cosmetics and skin/hair products that didn't have a rating less than 2 on website. I was surprised to find out even my most exspensive products were the most toxic and may be a contibuting factor to why I'm not getting pregnant. We've already ruled out my husband and myself and the doctors are calling it undiagnosed infertility. However, I think all these chemicals in cosmetics and hair/skin products may have caused some type of reproductive problems. After educating myself on EWG's website I was shocked with everyday household products that I 've bought for years that were the most toxic. I went to my nearest beauty store and bought a lot of jane iredale products because she received a rating of 1 on for the least amount of chemicals and toxins. I do like her products, I really never bought them before because I thought it was only for older ladies since my mother-in law wears her. I found a few products that were similar to bobbi brown. I'll just have to apply them in the same fashion that bobbi brown does. It's a shame bobbi brown doesn't want full disclosure of her products, it's definitely because she has lots to hide. America is so behind the UK and Australia with their regulations on the makeup industry. It befuddles me to think the FDA regulates food which we eat but not products we breath or gets soaked inside our bodies through our skin. Go to to sign the petition to change the regulations so that companies have to fully disclose all ingredients in their products. And let us consumers choose to poison ourselves or not to.

  • November 6, 2015

    by Marie Guzman

    I also want to thank you for writing this because I have been searching for ingredient information for a while on her products and can't find much. I am happy to find others who feel the same way I do! Just two years ago I gave away /threw away much of my makeup in an effort to minimize what I needed and chose Bobbi Brown for two reasons 1. she had the most matte options (I have babies and hate to see glittery makeup transfer onto them) and 2. her products can easily be compiled into a palette/ case (super convenient for busy mornings and travel). However, having children raised my awareness of harsh chemicals and we cleared out our home of toxic cleaners. Now I feel it is time to clear out my make up and body/hair care. Sad part is losing out on all the money I invested in Bobbi Brown makeup, which lets face it, isn't inexpensive at all.

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