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Bobbi Brown Cosmetics

Reviewed by SarahK April 13, 2012 23 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.

  • 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!


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