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</P> What's in your cosmetics? You may be getting more than you bargained for--dangerous chemicals--according to a report on name brand off-the-shelf beauty products.

Cosmetics Report Not Pretty

What's in your cosmetics? You may be getting more than you bargained for--dangerous chemicals--according to a report on name brand off-the-shelf beauty products. Last May, a coalition of environmental and public health groups had 72 products tested at a major American laboratory--the largest sampling of its kind, believe the researchers. It was discovered that almost three-quarters of products (52 of 72) contained phthalates, a group of industrial chemicals associated with birth defects in the male reproductive system. What's more, none of the labels indicated the presence of phthalates--a loophole in both American and Canadian regulations that permits inadequate testing and labelling requirements.

Popular hairsprays, deodorants and fragrances, as well as name brands such as Revlon, Calvin Klein and Christian Dior, were some of the products tested. The full 20-page report is available free at nottoopretty.org.

Apple Cheeks

How can you get a real, healthy glow in your cheeks without painting it on with blusher? Try the old standby, an apple a day. Apples are rich in phytonutrients, including flavonoids, which, studies show, help reduce cholesterol and promote cardiovascular health--and improved circulation means glowing skin. Their vitamin C content helps keep skin supple and elastic and their high fibre content sweeps away toxins to promote clear, unblemished skin. Eat your daily apple with the skin on as it contains five times more antioxidant power than the flesh. Always choose organic so that you get only the goodness and not waxes or pesticides.

Tips for a Million Dollar Smile

It's difficult to maintain a sparkling smile when sugary snacks and tooth-staining brew beckon everywhere you turn. Smoking is also a culprit--not only does it stain teeth, but smokers are twice as likely as non-smokers to develop gum disease, says David Kennedy, DDS, author of How to Save Your Teeth (Health Action Press, 1993).

Next time you visit your dentist, ask what's most important: flossing or brushing. Chances are good the answer will be flossing. Most tooth decay happens between teeth, where food particles are trapped and missed by regular brushing. Floss at least once daily, making sure you get right up in the gumline where plaque builds up.

Conventional tooth whiteners may reduce staining, but they can actually wear away tooth enamel, says Dr. Kennedy. Look for natural toothpastes in health food stores or make your own natural toothpaste by mixing a pinch of baking soda with just enough water to form a paste. You can also add a drop of peppermint essential oil for fresh breath or a drop of myrrh to heal inflamed gums.

Fake 'n Bakes Unsafe

Many believe that tanning beds are a safe alternative to the sun, but research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has found that people who use tanning devices are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to develop common types of skin cancer compared to those who use none. And it doesn't matter if you don't burn. In fact, it's actually worse to go to the tanning salon and get a little bit each day than it is to get an infrequent sunburn, says Dr. James Spencer, vice chairman of the department of dermatology at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. To banish winter pallor, head out for some fresh air on the ski slopes or go for a walk in the winter sunshine.

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