Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Interview with a Cosmetic Goddess!!!

Well kids, exciting news! Today Miss Melanoma has a special guest: Paula Begoun, author of numerous books such as "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me." She also runs a cosmetic company called Paula's Choice and

There's tons of good reviews out there for Paula, and one of the best things I can say about her is that her business is one of the only cosmetics companies out there that recommends products other than her own, even on her own home page. I mean, who does that?!?! That's gutsy, and speaks a lot of her and her company. She also does a great monthly "Best and Worst" Picks which I personally love. (Here's this month's, btw.)

So if you haven't heard of her (I'm talking to you there, living under that rock), now's your chance to get the scoop. My great friend Katherine, who is also a melanoma survivor and my personal consultant when it comes to make-up and skin care products, did an interview with Paula. (How cool is that?) Kat is also the one who introduced me to Too Faced (so you KNOW she's fabulous) and got me hooked on Paula's reviews. And today we have the incredible opportunity to get Katherine's interview with the amazing Paula Begoun here! Enjoy! (You can thank me later...)
K: As a makeup artist and fellow melanoma survivor, I've been reading your books and using as a resource for many years now. In your opinion, how do we get more people to use sunscreen?

PB: This is tricky because lots of people love the sun and getting tan. It is hard to discourage something that feels and looks so good. What many organizations and people like me have been doing is just reminding people what is in store for them if they aren't sun smart. That is all you can do, just like it is for cigarettes.

What do you think about the nano technology use with sunscreens?

The only two sunscreen ingredients this effects is titanium dioxide and zinc oxide because these are the only two sunscreen actives that have been broken down into nano particles. There is no benefit of nano technology as far as effectiveness is concerned, these excellent sunscreen actives are effective in either form. In terms of safety, this is a very complicated question because the risk associated with nano technology is theoretical and the benefits are also theoretical so everyone is just guessing. I tend to err on the side of taking little to no risk especially if there is no benefit.

You list many sunscreens as great in your, can you name 5 good ones for our bloggers that give broad spectrum coverage?

There are many! Here is a range:
-Estee Lauder Day Wear Plus
Multi Protection Anti-Oxidant Lotion SPF 15, for Oily Skin ($38 for 1.7 ounces)
- Good Skin
All Right Oil-Free Sunscreen SPF 30 ($12 for 1.7 ounces; available exclusively at Kohls)
Age Shield Sunblock SPF 45 ($9.99 for 4 ounces)
Sun Protector for Body SPF 30 ($8.99 for 4.2 ounces)
-Bull Frog
Sunblock Lotion, Superblock SPF 45 ($8.99 for 5 ounces)
Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30 ($14.95 for 4 ounces)
But there are many, many more than these!

How much sunscreen should a person use for their whole body for true SPF protection?

There are "measuring" rations you can use, but that is far too complicated for most anyone to deal with. Rather, what people need to remember is to apply sunscreen before they go outdoors during the day and to apply it LIBERALLY! That it is crucial to apply it generously, which is why expensive sunscreens can be dangerous (because it can discourage people from liberal application.)

There has been discussions within the medical community to changing the way sunscreen are rated, do you have any comments on that?

That’s because the SPF number is only about UVB protection, there is no rating yet for UVA and the UVA rays are more damaging than the UVB rays.

Overseas there are more options regarding sunscreens than we have in the USA, why is that?

The only difference between sunscreens overseas is they have use of two additional UVA protecting ingredients than we do which are Tinosorb and Mexoryl SX (also know as ecamsule which is available here in a few L’Oreal and Lancome products). This is a regulatory issue involving how our FDA approves sunscreen active ingredients which is more stringent than overseas.

I know that you and some scientists feel that a good mixture of antioxidents help fight free radicals which can cause damage to the the skin. Do you think a combination of sunscreen chemicals and antioxidents would be good?

Absolutely!!! They just tend to be more expensive. What is most important is using sunscreen- the antioxidants just add benefits, they aren’t crucial.

According to the Tanning Bed Association, Tanning beds are a safe, effective way of getting vitamin D, how do feel about their advertising to teens and young adults?

That is like suggesting smoking cigarettes are a good way to relax or relieve stress. Further, it is UVB rays from the sun that trigger vitamin D production. Tanning beds typically emit 95% UVA and 5% UVB so it isn’t an effective source in the least. There are far healthier and more effective ways to get vitamin D then something that has a good deal of research showing it increases your cancer risk (minimal sun exposure—sunscreen does not block vitamin D or via supplements).

Thank you so much! I'm a huge fan of yours and love your makeup line and you are always so informative.

I'm also interested in finding out what you think about the FDA trial drug Dimercine, Dr. Yaroush and AGI Dermatics. I just read his book, and I thought it was interesting. He didn't always agree with some of the other books I read or even my own dermatologist, Associate Professor of UT Southwestern school of Medicine, Dr. Farhad Niroomand, but I still thought it was interesting from a cosmetic chemist point of view about sunscreens and DNA repair. I would love to interview him also!

Dimercine is Dr. Yaroush’s ingredient so his opinion is, at best, biased. The research about Dimercine is, at best, limited and there are other ingredients that potentially have this function so Dimercine is hardly the only one, but Yaroush would have you believe his is a miracle (but then you can get a lot more investors, media attention, and consumer interest if say you are selling a miracle then just one of many ingredients with only potential functionality).

-Katherine Bates


Other articles:

Kat found these 2 of real interest-

* A story by CNN Study: Some Sunscreens overpromise on Protection

* What's the Story? Health Claims Against Cosmetics How Do They Look in the Light?

* And here's a story on Paula that I really liked: Paula Begoun: A Consumer Advocate


Anonymous said...

These are some great q's! Good job miss melly and Katherine!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this!!!

Carver said...

Good interview. I thought it was interesting that she made the comparison with educating people about cigarettes. I've thought about a show I saw where teens felt immortal so campaigns that suggested they were more likely to get lung cancer if they smoked weren't that effective but when teenagers (particularly girls) who smoked to help them lose weight (INSANE) were shown through computer simulations what their skin would look like in their 40s, if they kept smoking, it had a big impact on them. I smoked from age 15 to 44 except when I was preganant and nursing so that's an addiction I know more than I want to about, ha. Kind of ironic that 4 years after I stopped smoking I got diagnosed with melanoma. I didn't see that one coming.

After I became aware of how lethal skin cancer (especially melanoma) can be, I thought about how I wondered if a similar campaign would work. If the young people who are tanning because they think it makes them look better were shown what their skin would look like after years of abuse and shown the scars we all have from WLE, LNDs etc. if might be pretty effective.

I hope you have a great holiday weekend, Carver

Anonymous said...

I loved the interview, and I think that Carver brought up a good point in her comment about the invincibility of youth. They may try to fool themselves into thinking that there is safety in moderation but would you poison yourself everyday if you thought that you were strong enough to handle it. Thanks to Paula for her comments on the tanning industry. The tanning salons will post information about the positive effects of "sunlight" which is not what they are selling, also they want people to think that tanning beds are a good source of vitamin D. Maybe tanning beds should post how much of the RDA of vitamin D your body can get from their source.
Lori i think you are doing a wonderful thing with you website. Most people will never realize the amount of time and effort it takes to do what you do and you have had a positive impact on many peoples lives at a time when they needed it most.
I can't wait for more interviews from Katherine. You're right she is fabulous!

Andrea Hofer said...

Thank you for your interest in Paula’s Choice, and for mentioning her in your blog. My name is Andrea Hofer, I am the Social Media Manager for Paula’s Choice. I am writing to offer you and your readers a free two-day subscription to, the online version of Paula’s book. It has over 40,000 cosmetic reviews and more are constantly being added. Just enter the promotion code “blogfree” when registering on beautypedia (no credit card required).

I wanted to share with you some of the new developments at Paula’s Choice:
• We have a page on facebook that I invite you to join, ♥Paula's Choice Skincare♥ at
• I also invite you and your readers take our new survey about the blog we have in development and what it should focus on:
• If you would like to continue receiving Paula’s Choice updates via email please reply with the email address you would like to receive updates at.

Again, thanks for your blog post! If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact me at


Andrea Hofer


I'm Too Young For This!