Saturday, November 13, 2010

the end of beautyham

I've realized that no amount of cosmetic can conceal one's heart. When I look at makeup advertisements now, I understand all the tricks and photoshopping and coloring that goes into each one. They are a visual delight, but I feel that real beauty for me can never be attained with just concealer and false eyelashes. Not for me the career where such attention to appearance is necessary or even rewarded. Attorneys who wear too much makeup aren't taken seriously.

I'm giving up my beauty addiction.

Thank you for sharing my little forays and sometimes misadventure in beauty with me. You were beautiful before you stumbled on my blog, and you are beautiful now.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Brazilian Blowout Controversy

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where women around the nation bonded in the vow to end cancer.

Ironically, October was also formaldehyde in your Brazilian Blowout awareness month.

Oregon salon workers suffered from nosebleeds and dizzy spells. Turns out that up to 10% of a popular $250 straightening treatment was formaldehyde. Actually, I wasn't that surprised.

Why? Because a week before the story broke, I found out that my shampoo and body wash most likely contain formaldehyde.

Preservatives known as formaldehyde-releasing agents are commonly used in things like shampoo and body wash. These agents preserve the longevity of the product by, yes, releasing formaldehyde over time. Given that many products sit on shelves for a while before they're picked up, they have time to, uh, release the hounds.

The shampoo and bodywash that I use, made by major corporations that produce lots of personal health care products around the world, both contain DMDM Hydantoin, a formaledehyde-releasing agent. In fact, I can't think of too many shampoos that DON'T contain one formaldehyde-releasing or another. So I've been washing myself with a bit of formaldehyde since, oh, forever. I thought that if the ingredient list did not say "formaldehyde", then there wasn't any formaldehyde in it. But that is not the case.

Formaldehyde is a recognized carcinogen. The question is - will using products with formaldehyde-releasing preservatives necessarily give you cancer? How serious a threat is this to consumer health?

To answer that would require a huge longitudinal study and a control group that used products free of formaldehyde-releasing agents. But most people, for financial and personal reasons, like the good-smelling shampoo brands most people are used to. These shampoos sell in the millions of units for valid reasons.

The cosmetics and personal health industries are not regulated by the FDA, so changes in product formulation are driven by competition and consumer demand, not by so-called RULES. The exception is lead - apparently the government cares about that. That's probably a good thing, considering the long history of lead powder in cosmetics before WWII. (Then again, where would cosmetics powerhouse Shiseido be if unsuspecting women with lead poisoning did not buy the brand's famous Eudermine lotion to soften the external effects of lead powder? :/) The super-efficient cosmetics market is both awesome (from a Chicago economics perspective) and scary.

It's pretty extraordinary for the the government to step in a case involving personal care products, as in the case of the Oregan salon workers. However, people were getting injured on the job, so OSHA took it upon itself to step in. The company that makes the Brazilian blowout product in question responded quickly with its own investigation (but profits have plummeted) and many companies boast a "formaldehyde-free" alternative now to this popular treatment. Women still want their Brazilian blowouts, by gum! But the Brazilian blowout scandal is generally treated as a one-off deal; just one company making a bad product. I want to know - how did the formaldehyde get in the treatment? Most contamination is through accidental exposure; but 10% is a lot to add accidentally. Might the formaldehyde been carried through another ingredient? Is this incident really just a one-off deal in an industry that most people never get to see behind the scenes?

It's just generally assumed that women can take care of their own health, and that we as consumers have an advanced grasp of biochemistry. Thank God for ingredient lists and wikipedia, at least.

I suppose that to live in the modern world is to bear certain modern risks; pollution, crime, injustice.... but it makes me rather indignant.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tis Noble To Give: Loving Viva Glam V Lipglass

I love Viva Glam because every cent, not just profits, go to a nonprofit (the Mac AIDS Fund) dedicated to helping individuals with HIV. This holiday season, MAC is offering a gift set including a lipstick and lipglass in the shade, "Viva Glam V", along with a really adorable Tartan pattern bag.

If you haven't tried the Viva Glam V lipglass, I think it's worth checking out. It's one of my favorite shades personally. It's soft enough not to be too demanding, but very polished. And like most MAC lipglasses, the scent is yummy and the wear time is excellent.

Viva Glam V lipgloss n the lips:
On the arm:Of course, if you are interested in the cause but not so much the bag or the shades, the Viva Glam collection has a variety of shades which are all permanent.

Things I miss about summer ... Bronze

As fall rears its leafy, chilly head, I have been popping into summer mode with my makeup to feel warmer on the inside.

Three things that I depend upon religiously to get a natural, but not too Bahamas, glow:

Tarte Mineral Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess. It lasts all day, it doesn't break me out at all, is kind of rosy and glowy, and lasts a long time. I have a sample size from Sephora which has lasted me years, and now it looks like Sephora sells the same mini size with a brush for $15 (totally WORTH IT!); if I ever run out I will buy a backup. I bought Nars Laguna after watching a youtube tutorial by sassy Sherilynn Macale, but I wasn't a fan. It may not have the buttery texture of a Nars bronzer, but Park Avenue Princess feels weightless, the way a bronzer should feel on the skin.

However, I do love a good Nars glow, which I owe to the Nars Multiple in Mustique. It's a peachy champagne color that is like the inside of an orange-ish seashell. I love the iridescence of Multiples generally, even if the price stings. On my skin, it feels like lipstick at first, but it can be buffed away into a light powdery finish that doesn't feel like anything at all.

And to complete the look, I'll throw on some sheer coral lipstick. Right now, it's Blowdry from a long-ago Mac collection.

What's your favorite season? Do you rotate your colors based on the weather?

Drugstore Love - CoverGirl Eye Enhancers in Tapestry Taupe

This is a quick and dirty swatch of a big drugstore eyeshadow love, CoverGirl Eye Enhancer Eyeshadow in Tapestry Taupe on a bare arm.

Yes, it looks like a bruise on my arm. Disregard that. What you need to know: This has a super-fine dove grey shimmer over a cool brown base. It never looks overdone. It can hold up in terms of staying power to a high end. but exhibits more restraint in the glitter department. It's beautiful. It costs less than a frappucino. Should you buy it? Do you like shimmery taupes? If so, then by all means. It works for day, for night.... It just works.

I used to disregard CoverGirl after a photo of me wearing their otherwise amazing AquaSmooth Foundation revealed to me that some foundations can photograph as bright white patches on one's face. In January, I received a Rougemag in the mail and thought I wouldn't like it; it was obviously, shamelessly promoting Proctor & Gamble personal health and beauty products to the widest audience possible through a magazine format, and sometimes I just want to be anti-establishment, you know? But due to my current recessionista ways, I have been looking over CoverGirl with a more open outlook, and actually, I like what I see!

Anthropologie gets serious about fragrance with Le Labo

Wow, Anthropologie

Ironically, I used to really like Anthropologie's website because, unlike other high-end clothing retailers, it DIDN'T make a serious foray into beauty. Like, the clothes were all the cosmetic that you needed.

At that point in time, the only fragrances that I remember them selling were Crazylillybellule and Oiseau - both not very well known at the time, but very casual, easy to wear, wear-and-toss affairs for less tha $30. I am thrilled that at least CLB has gained greater following as a result. Oiseau's Flaming June is also a stunner if you love strawberries... it's a dead ringer for BBW's Candy Apple, but who doesn't love a good reference to Pre-Raphaelite painting?

But Anthropologie has heard the siren call of cosmetic markups. Still, the offerings are quirky and girly and twirly... Lollia, Satu, Mistral (eh not so much), TokyoMilk,... these are all brands that are sophisticated but not "hard core" perfume houses by any stretch...they are charming and esoteric. They are hipster because many people haven't heard of them.

But now that Le Labo is offering something at Anthropologie, the public is listening. It's the biggest cosmetic crossover since, I think, ever. Because Anthropologie is so pretty, and because Le Labo is so sexy, I think the combination just makes perfect sense. The New York Times thinks so too.

Also.... Le Labo for less than $70?? And in solid form? YES solid perfume. Count me impressed.

Lip of the Day - Milani Glitzy Glamour Gloss in Glow Girl

Lip of the Day

Have you ever gone drugstore makeup shopping with someone way gorgeous? I have! I was having lunch with a stunner whose job involves being in front of a news camera all day, and we ended up at a drugstore to pick up lipgloss, which is generally essential to women. ANYWAY, said lady picked up a tube of Neutrogena healthy lipgloss, and because of that I was almost tempted to pick up a tube of it too. Gorgeous people have that effect on me. BUT, I didn't, because I know that I hate the lemony smell and it tastes like metal.

If I had my wits about me, I would have recommended Milani Glitzy Glamour Gloss in Glow Girl, perhaps THE best drugstore gloss for those who want to look like they've got that extra something something. It's not a shy gloss - it's full on-color that you'll need a liner to contain. But like neon lights, what might be too bright for day photographs extraordinarily well. Plus, it's non-sticky. flavorless, smells like vanilla, and lasts about 2 hours. Love the sheer bright magenta color - it says - notice me.

Available at for a little less than $7.