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.