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Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

April 13, 2012 Reviewed by admin 25 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.

  • September 5, 2017

    by Cheryl

    Thank you for this information. I have tried to look this up in the past. I just received a R&F regiment for the first time and in the very long list of ingredients is BHT! They are the #1 selling right now and this is scary to me. I am returning the products, unused. This prompted me to search again to find the ingredients in products I have been using for so long. Bobbi Brown has always been one of them and I am so disappointed. I too, liked her bio and felt I could feel safe thinking she stood behind her products just the same. I have recently watched a docuseries GMO'sRevealed. So enlightening. So much information and fact finding info. I was blown away and the amount of items that have glycophate and what it is doing to our environment, kids, water, soil, medical conditions - causing children on spectrum all the way to cancer, diabetics, heart conditions, infertility, obesity, depression - it's unreal). It is is SO many things that we are unaware of (vaccines, food, water, prescriptions, household products etc). It's so upsetting and goes unchallenged. The only thing we can do is share this information and when enough people stop buying these products the companies will be forced to change. We cannot wait of the FDA - that is a joke really….. but thank you for providing this information and my search for new, healthy products begins!

  • 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 www.EWG.org 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 EWG.org 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 safecosmetics.org 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.

  • September 5, 2015

    by Julie

    Thank you very much for writing this article. I actually Googled 'Bobbi Brown unhealthy ingredients,' and a link to this site and article appeared at the top. I have been a Bobbi fan ever since her ten original lipsticks and then her stick foundation. I was so intrigued with her makeup philosophies, and after the horrendous makeup trends of the 80s, I was thrilled with the new makeup concept of looking pretty, natural, yet polished. While I still am a huge fan and I regularly search her web site to see her new products, I stopped wearing them completely about five years ago.

    Long story short, after the economy turned a few years back and after working in human resources for many years, I did a 180 and now and am a licensed master esthetician, and I'm also certified in oncology esthetics. Through this time I learned and researched a ton about ingredients, what they do, what is safe, which are stable, where the sources come from, and which are unhealthy, and toxic. Very eye opening, very frustrating, and disturbing, to say the least. Being my entire makeup collection was and has always been Bobbi Brown, I was so disheartened to learn Bobbi's products contained many unsafe and toxic ingredients.

    I also found it extremely frustrating Bobbi's site does not list ingredients, and I just don't understand why. Several times I have emailed and politely suggested ingredients to be fully listed, only to receive a reponse telling me I can call customer service and someone will be happy to assist me. This is different from calling to speak to a makeup artsist, which I have done, and the artists I spoke to did not know the ingredient listing either! They just gave me the number for customer service. I explained how this is not only an extra step for the customer, but not having the ingredients listed is a huge inconvenience. Also, if it's outside of business hours, the customer will have to wait. Makes absolutley no sense to me.
    I still love Bobbi Brown, the looks of her makeup (minus the too glittery and the neon colors she had a few years back), I own three of her books, and the Pretty Powerful campaign is brilliant! However, I still won't use her products.
    I still really hope so much she and her team will do something by taking actiona and promising to eliminate the toxic ingredients, and after reading how much she is into healthy and clean living I really am surpsised her brand has not been proactive in doing so. With social media and the spreading and sharing of information, many companies are realizing they will have no choice but to accomodate the customer. Vani, the Food Babe, is a fabulous example!


  • April 29, 2015

    by Rose

    I've been using bobbi brown undereye corrector and love it, but wish I could also find safety information on it. Because it works so well, I apply a layer of sunscreen between my skin and the corrector to reduce absorption. I tried the Tarte undereye corrector and it was really thick and cakey and it made fine lines appear when I didn't have any.

  • April 24, 2014

    by PSB

    I recently had all of these problems and was appalled that my expensive make up and skincare still contained parabens and mineral oils,and I have now switched to a high end premium brand, that is free of parabens , minerals oils, animal fats etc. My skin has never looked better, so now I tell everyone about it and earn an income from it.

  • August 7, 2013

    by Marta

    Hi Karen
    You are right about the beautyproductscompared.com. It is clearly a faux blog and I have deleted that reference. I'm not sure I should edit information regarding the EWG, which still gives Bobbi Brown an overall 6 rating

  • August 7, 2013

    by Karen

    The BeautyProductscompared.com, that you cite above, sells Nu Science Cell revival products. Their reviews are bogus. I only found one Bobbi Brown product listed at the
    Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database it was listed as low hazard in most categories including cancer causing ingredients. Though it is funded by cosmetic trade associations, cosmeticsinfo.org provides good information and balances information provided by the EWG's Skin Deep database. I think that "Truth in Aging" reviews get many hits and that your information is no longer applicable or accurate. Perhaps you can edit/amend it.

  • August 7, 2013

    by Polina

    Thank you for your review. I use MAC cosmetics, and I know they use some chimicals I would preferebly spare my skin for. I started reasurching for other companies, to find a company that have good make while not being too damaging, on my hunt I discovered that it is quite hard.

  • May 11, 2013

    by Gina

    It's disheartening to discover that so many brands use these chemicals and other ingredients of questionable merit. At least BB never claimed to be a natural line. I've found phenoxyethanol in several Tarte products, and this is a company that uses the tagline "high performance naturals".

    I'm currently on the hunt for a cleansing oil to replace the BB one I use.

  • January 3, 2013

    by spaceface

    Thanks fort this post, now I know I won't further venture into searching ingredients online. I wanted to know the ingredients of BB eye liner gel but couldn't find it on their own website/web shop. Personally, I think every cosmetic item that is sold online, should have their ingredients listed as part of the product description.

    @Jaime, I live somewhere where BB is not readily available, so can't easily do a quick ingredients check on the actual packaging. As I've switched to as natural as can be cosmetics I like to look up the ingredients online first before even consdering a product.

  • October 10, 2012

    by Jaime

    I am a bit confused. All BB products have an complete ingredient list on the packaging, are paraben free and contain no synthetic oils. Even their preservatives are "naturally" occurring compounds...

  • August 20, 2012

    by Liz

    Hi! I understand that you wrote this a while ago, but wanted to let you know that the ingredients are listed on the back of all my bobbi brown products - maybe this is a new thing, or just a uk thing? Found this article really interesting :)

  • June 11, 2011

    by Heather

    I contacted the folks at BB and was told that I'd have to submit a written request for the ingredient list. What are they hiding? I'm returning all of my Bobbi Brown products today. Don't know what I'll end up using, but one step at a time, I guess.

  • November 7, 2010

    by Taun

    Hello People!!!
    If you can't eat it, don't use it.
    The best concealer ever, is Couleur Caramel.
    Pure, organic plant based products, are all they use.

  • October 21, 2010

    by Laura

    I've always battled dark circles and Bobbi Brown is the one that works best for me. I'm not up on exactly what ingredients to avoid but nothing stood out in the ingredient list as alarming to me, except for the powder that comes with the concealer (talc is the first ingredient) so I use a different one that does not contain talc. The first ingredient in corrector and concealer is petrolatum, which is probably not great, but there are no parabens, and it does contain Vit E, A.
    Jane Iredale has wonderful ingredients and I did use it, however it did not last as well as BB.
    My second favorite is one Marta recommended (Redpoint) , works and is inexpensive and I still use on occasion, but nothing works for me like Bobbi Brown. Benefit Erase paste dried out my eyes and made them red so I returned it.

  • October 20, 2010

    by Oksana

    Ladies,
    I've used Benefit Erase Paste - it works, but the ingredients are pretty horrid. Just as with BB, they are "undisclosed".
    think about the future of your under-eye area!

  • October 19, 2010

    by SarahK

    Oksana and Trish -

    Thank you both for the suggestions - I am absolutely switching concealers this week. I've heard and researched great things regarding Jane Iredale. And even though I haven't heard of Benefit Erase Paste, after reading your review, I'm definitely going to look into it!

  • October 19, 2010

    by Trish

    Sarah,

    I understand your love for BB Corrector. I found an alternative that I like as much if not more, that is Benefit Erase Paste. Now, I don't know what is the rating on this with EWG. However, performance wise, they are very comparable and the Erase Paste is even more blendable. I have a review of it here.

    http://beautifulcanvas.blogspot.com/2010/05/review-benefit-erase-paste-concealer.html

  • October 14, 2010

    by Oksana

    dear Sarah,
    you can't be "more weary and cautious", while using potentially dangerous skin products on your skin - you should not use them.
    a reputable company is always "transparent" - the reputation comes from honesty.
    BB is not the only fish in the pond - you may want to check out Jane Iredale (Circle Delete concealer is the best!), Tarte, Nvey.
    good luck and be smart!

  • October 14, 2010

    by Susan

    Elyse is quite correct to say Estee Lauder is now the name behind the name Bobbi Brown.
    Estee Lauder buying a smaller company is like Proctor and Gamble buying the small, excellent dog food company, which I've fed to my dog for 3 yrs now: I'm shopping for a new dog food.

  • October 13, 2010

    by Elyse

    Bobbi Brown is one of the brands of the Estée Lauder Companies. So far, it has refused to sign the Compact for Safe Cosmetics which advocates for safer products and greater transparency to consumers regarding the ingredients in the products.

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