Women who are determined to achieve that bee-stung Angelina Jolie look may want to avoid buying over-the-counter products that claim to provide fuller, poutier mouths. Results of a new study suggest those claims may be little more than lip service.

Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle found no observable enhancement in a small group of women who used "lip enhancer" products for one to four months. The team used digital before-and-after photographs, but found no statistically significant change in lip size.

While no adverse effects were noted, only 14% of the patients said they would use the product again, says study co-author Dr. Sam Most, an assistant professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

"Many manufacturers have attempted to take advantage of the public's desire for quick and painless methods of cosmetic enhancement with the promise of results similar to time-tested surgical and non-surgical methods. In many cases, these products are marketed).. as effective without any scientific study, and consumers should be wary of them," says study coauthor Dr. Sam Most, an assistant professor of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Before You Botox®

Botox injections, which smooth frown lines by prohibiting the contraction of facial muscles, are the fastest-growing procedure in the cosmetics industry, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

But Botox® is made from a weakened form of the same botulinum bacteria that causes botulism, and can cause problems, such as droopy eyelids, bruising and weakness in facial muscles, if administered incorrectly. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery suggests you take these precautions…

  • Make sure the doctor who performs the procedure is qualified in facial cos. metic skin surgery.
  • Make sure the physician's office has the equipment necessary to respond to potential emergencies.
  • Ask questions and be informed about the benefits and risks of the procedure.
  • Avoid alcohol and remain upright for several hours following the procedure.

Cosmetic Safety

Eye injuries are the most common mishaps when applying cosmetics—especially scratching the eye with a mascara wand, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA),

Advice: Never try to apply mascara while in motion, including as a passenger in a vehicle.

Here are some other suggestions from the American Academy of Dermatology to reduce the risk of skin irritation when using cosmetics…

  • Choose powder-based makeup when possible. It usually has few preservatives and other ingredients that can cause skin irritation.
  • Avoid waterproof cosmetics, which require solvents to remove them. These solvents also remove the oily substance produced by the skin's sebaceous glands, leaving skin exposed to potential irritants that can cause a breakout.
  • Throw out old cosmetics. The lifespan for lipstick and foundation is one year; for mascara, three to four months; and two years for powder and shadows.
  • Use products with fewer ingredients. The fewer ingredients, the less likely they are to cause a problem.

What Is 'Hypoallergenic?

Manufacturers of hypoallergenic cosmetics IV claim their products produce fewer allergic reactions than standard ones, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

However, there are no federal standards or guidelines that govern the use of the term hypoallergenic, and manufacturers are not required to substantiate their claims to the FDA.

The term may have considerable market value in promoting cosmetic products, but the FDA cites dermatologists who say the word has very little meaning in the real world.

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