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Cancer, animal cruelty, feminism: So why can’t I quit using makeup?

Some people cling to their guns and religion. I cling to my age-defying night cream.

Designer Betsey Johnson once proclaimed: “If I were dying, I would be in the hospital wearing lipstick.” From what I can tell, Betsey, Dita Von Teese, Hillary Clinton, Tammy Faye Bakker, Ellen DeGeneres and the Cure's Robert Smith all wear lipstick differently, and perhaps for different reasons.

Makeup belongs to the individual. It can be an artistic statement, an act of self-expression, a desperate plea for attention, a casual routine, an attempt at preserving youth, a prop, a mask. It can be an addiction and it can be fun.

I know my beauty products are largely unnecessary. Furthermore, they’re often made from toxic or unsustainable materials like palm oil. The wrappers, jars and tubes pile up in landfills and plastify the ocean. The micro-plastic exfoliation beads in soaps and scrubs wind up in otter stomachs. Chinese laboratories scald rabbit eyes with products and kill hundreds of thousands a year in testing.

Rationally, as a feminist and environmentalist, I don’t want to participate as much as I do. Even if I make an effort to buy responsibly made products, I still buy more than I should. Why is it so hard to let go?

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