Dr Oz recently did a segment on three “beauty mistakes” that will make you look older. They turned out to be: using under eye cream; washing your face before your hair; failing to use a retinol-based neck cream. I found all three of them curious choices - at best random and at worst slightly off kilter. No wonder that the three audience members participating in the segment looked a little nonplussed. So I dug a little deeper into all three and into some of the other content on the Dr Oz website.

Let's start with the first beauty blunder according to Oz, using under eye cream.  Specifically, he said that under eye cream could be giving you under eye bags and went on to say that this is because eye creams that contain quaternium-15 and or fragrance could be causing irritation to the delicate under eye skin. O-kay….

Quaternium-15 15 is a quaternary ammonium salt that is used as a preservative. The unpleasant aspect to it is that it releases formaldehyde and this, in turn, can cause contact dermatitis, In a study on 86 patients allergic to formaldehyde, 73% co-reacted to quaternium-15.. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen (although Dr Oz didn’t mention formaldehyde is carcinogenic).

Now, although I agree that Dr Oz is probably right to warn you off quaternium-15, it should be noted that the CIR (the cosmetics industry body) says “the weight of evidence suggested that a 0.2% concentration is not a sensitizer”. This is the level at which it is permitted by the EU.

But mostly, I’m perplexed as to why Dr Oz would raise quaternium-15 rather than other preservatives that are also dangerous irritants and are much more ubiquitous – such as phenoxyethanol. Quaternium-15 just isn’t in all that many things. If you Google “quaternium-15 and eye cream” the first thing that pops up is Dr Oz. A search on Truth In Aging revealed that quaternium-15 is some products, typically wash off ones such as Peter Thomas Roth’s cleansing gel or Nutra-Lift’s goat milk shampoo.

Perhaps this is behind Dr Oz’s beauty mistake #2 – washing your face before you shampoo. This is what Dr Oz had to say about this hazardous practice: if you wash your face before your hair in the shower, then the shampoo and conditioner can actually help oils from your hair get onto your face, which can give you breakouts and issues along your hair line. So instead, wash your face at the very end of your shower.

Of all the beauty blunders that many of us might be guilty of – not removing makeup before going to bed, using a cream with parabens and phenoxyethanols, or wasting our money on the lastest department store potion advertised in our favorite magazines – why on earth pick on this one. Isn’t the oil going to be rinsed away under the shower? How oily would your hair have to be to drip on your face, bury itself in your skin and refuse to be rinsed away?  If your shower routine is giving your breakouts, then it might be more to do with shampoos that contain silicones or irritating chemicals (not to mention quaternium-15).

The third beauty blunder that Dr Oz warns against is not using a retinol cream on your neck. He rightly points out that we often neglect our necks when, in fact, we should give the thinner skin there even more attention than our faces. But I do think it’s a little irresponsible to blithely dole out retinol creams without pointing out the contraindications. Sensitive skins – like mine – can’t take retinols at all. They make you much more sensitive to the sun. They exfoliate but don’t build up the collagen in thinning skin (unless with other ingredients that expressly do, such as some kinds of peptides). And he didn't mention that the retinoid family(to which retinol belongs) is vitamin A and there are some controversial issues and concerns about toxicity that at least consumers should be aware of.

Finally, I have to mention that my view of Dr Oz went down a notch when I found, whilst roaming his website, an article by Arthur Perry MD entitled “are eyelash growers safe?”.  Dr Perry is a plastic surgeon in New Jersey and his article is mostly about the prescription eyelash growth product, Latisse.

This is what he says:

“Because Latisse is a prescription drug, it is expensive and requires a visit to your doctor. That has prompted a bunch of cosmetics companies to make competing products that also claim to grow eyelashes. These different cosmetics contain chemicals like prostaglandins, vitamins, and other things that claim to make your eyelashes grow.”

He concludes by saying: “Latisse has passed the scrutiny of the FDA and is safe and effective. The same cannot be said for the over the counter versions.”

Not once does Dr Perry say that Latisse contains a prostaglandin and that it can have serious side effects. Nor does he mention that this FDA approved product comes with considerable warnings to the consumer that were imposed by the FDA after the product launched. T

Truth In Aging has detailed information on Latisse and on the FDA warnings.

Related: Also read Dr. Oz's (and my) take on vitamin C.