Book Review: "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter ..."

If there has ever been a book that is as significant as "Gray's Anatomy" was to us as freshman dental students, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," by Paula Begoun (6th Edition, Beginning Press, Seattle, Wash.), is it.

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If there has ever been a book that is as significant as "Gray's Anatomy" was to us as freshman dental students, "Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me," by Paula Begoun (6th Edition, Beginning Press, Seattle, Wash.), is it. Seriously. It is of similar size as Gray's in thickness and weight, and it carries a wealth of information about how to look healthy and beautiful while saving time and money.

Cosmetics and beauty products are all very mysterious. Unless you are a chemist, you truly do not know the combinations of potions included in the products you use on a daily basis. As consumers, we are usually brand-loyal. As human beings, we do sometimes buy products on a whim or from a friend's recommendation. Print advertising is also a heavy inducement to purchase new products. All in all, we spend billions of dollars per year on cosmetics. For the most part, many of us are unarmed with knowledge about what we are actually buying, the efficacy of the product, or the real value of our purchase. This is where we, the educated consumer, fit in.

"Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me" offers a product-by-product review. More than 200 companies are listed, with 35,000 products evaluated. Each product is listed with the retail price, along with a rating symbol that indicates the author's approval or disapproval. Ms. Begoun makes recommendations for the best products and also lists specific products within the group that excel. Amazingly, she owns her own line of cosmetics, but her products are not necessarily the "best of the best." She also offers suggestions for healthy skin care, what steps to follow, and what is real for skin care and what is hype, especially with regard to wrinkles and blemishes. Men's and baby products are also evaluated. The author includes information on the newest skin-care research and a cosmetics dictionary to help us wade through the assorted chemicals and additives that are present in the products we buy.

This book has been enlightening to me. It is in my dental office's lending library and is constantly in circulation. As we are all creatures of habit, we may be using the same or similar products for years. I have become more aware about checking out my next purchase before running to the cosmetics counter. After all, we want our products to live up to their claims. So far, there is no miracle cure, no fountain of youth. But we can feel more comfortable in our own skin using cosmetics that are both good and good for us. For the neophyte or the seasoned purchaser, this book will both shock and save you. Check it out before your next trip to the local mall.

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Sheri B. Doniger, DDS
Dr. Doniger has been in private practice of family and preventive dentistry for 20 years. She is currently focusing on women's health and well-being issues. She can be contacted at (847) 677-1101 or donigerdental@ aol.com.

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