Homemade makeup growing online trend

FDA regulates kitchen cosmetics; Consumers warned to choose carefully

By Eryka Washington - Investigative Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - Mixing and selling handmade cosmetics is a new and growing trend, with vegan, mineral-based or even custom-blended cosmetics.

[WEB EXTRA: Kitchen Cosmetics]

The colors are bright, bold and custom-blended for Marta Countess -- not in a lab or manufacturing plant, but right in someone's home.

A local makeup artist offered to create cosmetics that wouldn't irritate her sensitive skin.

"When I heard that somebody was actually mixing and matching and using all natural ingredients in their home setting, I thought that was fabulous," said Countess.

In her spare bedroom, Kim Snyder carefully concocts eye shadows and blush, and then sells them online. 

Snyder says her mineral makeup contains no preservatives, talc or chemicals and is not tested on animals.

"My typical customers are young. I'm finding that they're in their 30s," said Snyder of her customer base.

Our online search found dozens of "do-it-yourself" Internet entrepreneurs, with a range of products, pitches and prices.

The product -- which arrives in plastic or glass containers, packaged in baggies, even newspaper -- could leave you skeptical, though.

While the same federal rules that apply to big companies also apply to people who produce makeup in their homes, cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson says consumers should exercise caution.

"In general, the FDA is not inspecting these places unless there is a big or a large number of consumer complaints," said Robinson.

Snyder says she takes extensive safety precautions in her home by wearing gloves, tying her hair back, cleaning her mixing table with alcohol and staying away from her kitchen to avoid food cross-contamination.

"If you are as sanitary as you can be, it makes a difference. If you're just sitting on your kitchen table, you slop it all together, that's a problem," said Snyder.

A few tips to protect yourself when buying cosmetics online:

  • Ask around for recommendations.
  • Ask sellers how they prepare their makeup and what precautions they take.
  • Request a sample and test it on a small area of your arm, which is a good way to detect problems.

"There are all sorts of issues that could happen with buying homemade products, including allergic reactions, possible irritations. They also may not be preserved adequately in order to prevent bacteria growth and mold growth," said Robinson.

Countess says she's had no problems with her homemade makeup and she also likes the reasonable prices.

"I really love that idea. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and it's all making us all beautiful so, you know, great combo," she said.

On its website, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns homemade-cosmetic makers that they have a legal responsibility for the safety of their products, and the packaging and labeling must not be deceptive. 

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