Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I love New York..and so does Bond

Are these not the pretties collection of bottles you've ever seen? And Bond No. 9's new fragrance collection is an ode to the city where I've resided for the past 21 years... the great New York City.

Fragrances are named after landmarks such as

*Bleecker (much of my college night life was spent on Bleecker Street)

*Bryant Park (I can remember when it was overrun by drug pushers, now it's a yuppie park where I love to spend my lunch hours),

*Chelsea (lived there when I first moved here..in the middle of garment factories. Now it's one of the cutest neighborhoods in the city)

*Chinatown (why do I expect this one to smell of greasy wontons?)

*Coney Island (still never been there)

*Hamptons (who doesn't love the Hamptons?)

*Noho (No who? ;-) )

*West Side (lived there after Chelsea.. where are Astoria & Forest Hills scents?)

and the one most needed here in NYC: "The Scent of Peace".

All are available at Beauty Sack $120 - $195

(photo property & courtesy of Beauty Sack)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Products that Multi-task

Check it out...

This is truly the most outrageous list of uses for items from your kitchen, medicine cabinet or laundry room.

Maple syrup in your hair! Peanut Butter as shaving cream (do you think Soy Butter with Honey works the same?) !?! Jello or Milk of Magnesia for curls?!?

As for Downy in my hair, well, Downy comes in some heavenly scents these days...that would eliminate the need for perfume as well ;).

While you are in this website, they have a great list of uses for vinegar in your home.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

From The Land Down Under

Sephora has introduced the newest line to their stores: Napoleon Perdis, a makeup line by the Australian makeup artist by the same name. Unlike other makeup artists that keep their tips secret, Napoleon gives his pro tips on his packaging. There are also 'how-to' videos on Sephora's website.

The 3 products that intrigue me the most are:

1) Light Patrol Luminizer Palette ($60), a selection of 6 shades of highlighter..great for changing up your highlighter depending on what your mood or color scheme is.

2) Correct & Conceal Pro Palette ($40)... a selection of green, lavender & beige cremes for correcting & evening out skintone..Great to have all 3 colors in 1 compact instead of having to buy all 3 separately.

3) I also found a makeup tip I've never seen before... Napoleon offers Auto Pilot Pre-Foundation Primer (loaded with good things like chamomile, yarrow, & vitamin E) , . Apply this before your foundation. Then apply foundation only to your cheeks & spread downwards toward jaw line... he says you don't need to apply foundation to your forehead, that Auto Pilot is enough. Hmmm..must check this out at Sephora, as I've never heard of not applying foundation to your forehead.

Don't you just love an Australian accent? And check out Napoleon...isn't he a hottie?

(Photos all courtesey & property of Sephora)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Green Lipstick!

..and, no, I don't mean the kind that conjures up memories of the Wicked Witch of the West.

My (green) thumb goes up to Cargo who leads the beauty industry into new shades of green with their PlantLove Botanical Lipstick!

This revolutionary, eco-friendly lipstick is fabulous for so many various reasons:

1) The formula is botanically based & is environmentally friendly. It doesn’t use petroleum derivatives (I.e. mineral oil, etc). It is enriched with castor oil, beeswax, jojoba & shea butter and infused with trademarked Orchid Complex(fights free-radicals & reduces fine lines) & meadowfoam seed oil (silky texture, provides fatty acids your skin needs & rejuvenates).

By the way, for those of you that don’t know, Cargo makes award-winning lipgloss that’s super moisturizing (a little goopy but great colors & very moisturizing)…so, I would expect no less of their lipstick.

2) 5 of the colors were designed by celebs who find this as brilliant as we do:
-Evangeline: Evangeline Lily-Lindsay: Lindsay Lohan-Maria: Maria Menounos-Mariska: Mariska Hargitay-Sarah: Sarah Chalke

3) The tube is made of a corn derivative. Corn is the new black, by the way. Or at least it’s the new plastic J. For those of you that don’t realize, corn packaging is biodegradable , research shows that plastic does not biodegrade…every piece of plastic which has ever been made is still on this earth…unless it’s been recycled into polar fleece & the like.

4) The box the lipstick comes in has seeds imbedded in it. You can rip the box up, plant it in pot or in your flower bed and grow a variety of wildflowers.

5) And as if all that wasn’t enough, Cargo is donating $2.00 from the sale of every PlantLove lipstick to the St. Jude’s Research Hospital. This line is not only eco-friendly, but philanthropical as well, investing in our children as well as our environment.

6) You can also visit their website, http://www.cargoplantlove.com/, and plant a virtual flower yourself. For every virtual flower planted, Cargo will make a donation to Conservation International (http://www.conservation.org/). You can also attach your name & location to your virtual flower (I planted mine in honor/name of a friend).

With all the benefits to yourself, others, the planet, & the future is there any reason that you aren't on your way out the door to Sephora (or clicking on their webiste, http://www.sephora.com/browse/product.jhtml;jsessionid=5Q00SLBSESOU1LAUCJABXCQ?id=P172734&categoryId=C11630http://www.sephora.com/) to buy at least 1 (or 2 or 5)
PlantLove lipstick(s)?
(pictures courtesy & property of Cargo & Sephora)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nivea Visage Q10 Night Creme (free sample)

For a free sample of Nivea's latest anti-aging product, Nivea Visage Q10 Advanced Wrinkle Reducer Night Creme, & more 'wrinkle saving' facial exercises, check out: http://www.realsimplerewards.com/rsn/offerings/nivea/index.html

(be sure to pay attention to the exercises, folks, and don't just get blind-sighted by the freebie)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Baby, it's hot out there!

Both sides of this country are in the midst of heat waves. Here in New York, most of us do not have central a/c. I, for one, only have a/c in my bedroom. Most of us also usually walk or use public transport ation to get ourselves from point A to point B.

So, as the ‘real feel’ temp soared to 105 F or above yesterday with approx. 80% humidity (felt like 110%) and subway stations probably a minimum of 10 degrees warmer, none of us could move far without massively shvitzing.

It made me remember a product I’d once heard of… lotion which dries to powder. I definitely need powder everywhere right now, and I absolutely hate the mess that powder makes both in my bathroom & on my clothes.

So, in honor of summer’s high temps & our desire to be cool & dry, here’s a list of liquid to powder products:

1) Banana Boat Sport Dri-Block Advanced AvoTriplex UVA/UVB Sunblock SPF30: http://www.gransremedy.co.nz/11/id2.htm. This is great, as we all need the sunblock as well in this heat..even when just walking down the street or in the car. They also make a Dri-Block Kids formula: http://www.bananaboat.com/products/10944.aspx?cat=6&curBrowseBy=SPF

2) Bodywares Silky Smooth Liquid Powder: http://www.bodywares.com/solutions/body/bath/bp02.htm (This is an all natural, cruelty-free, and environmentally ‘sound’ company from their claims on their homepage. They also claim they will refill their containers at a discount…but I’m confused how this is done if they are an online business.)

3) Epoch Baby Babassu Liquid Powder: http://www.nuskin.com/corp/product/epoch/babypowder.shtml (this is a product of NuSkin. I sold their products when I was a teen & they have a good reputation). The whole family can use this one.

4) Baby Silk’s Silky Liquid Powder: http://www.whatshebuys.com/sil-2002.html (This one is formulated by MD Mothers…moms who are also pediatricians ). Again, there’s nothing to stop the whole family from using this.

5) Zeasorb–AF Lotion Powder: www.aaaskindoctor.com/zeasorbliquid.html . This one contains medicated powder, but is good for anti-fungal issues.

6) For Feet: Gran’s Remedy Foot Lotion for Smelly Feet: http://www.gransremedy.co.nz/11/id4.htm now couldn’t we all use some of that?? They also have cooling foot powder , http://www.gransremedy.co.nz/11/id2.htm, which I could use right about now. (Remember, the hands & feet are the temperature controls of the body). Drawback: they are in New Zealand. Here’s one a little closer, but it’s in the UK http://www.dooyoo.co.uk/skin-care/the-sanctuary-liquid-foot-powder/

7) Carita Powder Lotion: http://www.carita.com/prod/prod.php?ref=3271000 This one is for the face only & is good for normal to oily skin. Umm…they’re in France too, but who knows, some of you might be escaping to the EU this summer.

8) Huggies makes Liquid Powder which you can buy many places online. However, I’m wondering if it has been discontinued, as I cannot find it on their website.

9) Ladies for those feminine bits that are affected by the heat, there's Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel to help: http://www.monistat.com/soothingcare/products_chafing_gel.htm

Stay cool & dry out there folks!!

The Science of Getting Clean

How does soap clean?

Science has never been my forte. I took college chemistry during summer school so I wouldn’t have to take the full semester course. So, it befuddles me that my lackluster for the sciences is coming back to bite me where it counts most.

The more I sell (wholesale) different handmade bath lines, the more I get to know about making soap, and the more I realize this is a scientific process, not just fun & games or arts & crafts.

Soaps are always so much fun to look at, feel & sniff in the store, purchase, and use at home. I figured making them was just as easy as combining a few ingredients. But, like everything else, it’s not always as easy as it looks.

I recently received a newsletter from The Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, www.soapguild.org, (a great organization by the way) with all kinds of scientific information I just can’t seem to absorb. I completely appreciate this education, but for some reason, I can’t wrap my little brain around it. So, I’ve decided to let the rest of the world make my soaps…I’ll just be content to sell it… no mad scientist soap lab for me. (You serious soap makers out there will be happy to know I’m not one of those that thinks that because I think I can use melt & pour that I think I’m a soap maker. I know better than to insult you like that.)

However, for those of you science buffs, check out this great article explaining how soap cleans..and then, can someone please translate it to English for me ??


Maybe they should teach soap making at MIT. In fact, I think you cold & hot press soap makers should call yourselves Soap Engineers, not soapers or soap maker.

Who knew that how our skin gets clean is a very scientific process. I always just thought it was a matter of soap & water.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Anthony, my new hero!

So, I usually consult women on how to care for their skin; however, a male friend has asked me to put together a regime for him. In doing so, I’m finding that men’s products (& the philosophies behind them) are completely different from women’s lines.

1) Lines seem more image oriented over performance.
2) Anti-aging eye cream for men is next to impossible to find
3) Almost all products, including night time serums relate back to shaving
4) Active ingredients are not stressed in marketing
5) Prices are much lower than women’s products of same quality level.

I visited 3 men’s lines counters at Bloomingdales the other day. I asked each sales associate, “So, what makes this men's line special?” (I was trying to find each line’s niche). Each time I received a generic reply of, “They're good. Men like them, and they seem to work.” There were no performance claims as in, “ these are loaded with anti-oxidants & have AHA’s & salycilic acid to help them exfoliate & prevent ingrown hairs”, “they are anti-aging & use peptides” or “the line is designed for men with sensitive skin”…none of it. They were just ‘good’ & men like them. Men must be an easy sell ;). I am not so easy, however…ever ;-).

So, I popped over to Sephora. I was taken to Anthony Logistics for Men (known as Anthony) , http://www.anthony.com/ where the SA (short for Sales Associate) stated it was her favorite. When I asked why, she stated that these products were made of high-quality, mostly natural ingredients & that her son & boyfriend love this line. She also said that even women come in and buy it for themselves, because the of the quality of the products (is this the reverse of men wanting to use our Secret deodorant, ladies?) .

I have to say, as I have researched this line & checked out the ingredients of Anthony’s products, compared with the men’s lines of some of the department store lines, I felt that these products were really suited towards the serious needs/ concerns of men, as opposed to the other lines just trying to cash in on a general ‘mens’ niche.

Anthony seems to be ‘real’ skin care for men.

It is one of the only lines I found which actually puts an SPF (15) in their moisturizer (why would other lines put SPF in their women’s moisturizers & not in their men’s I’m wondering?). This line uses proven ingredients such as glycolic acid, sea algae, anti-oxidants, green tea, shea butter, caffeine (by the way, in an article I read somewhere..can’t remember where…it stated that caffeine has been proven to improve men’s skin while it does nothing for women), aloe, etc.

Anthony also has anti-aging products in their line, which are almost impossible to find in men’s skin care. I still can’t understand this, as most men I know are just as concerned about wrinkles as the women I know. In fact, Anthony has one of the only anti-aging men’s eye creams I could find. Half of men’s lines don’t even have an eye cream , & most men’s eye creams on the market only address puffiness & dark circles. Are all you men out there not sleeping at night? And why aren’t you insisting on ingredients which help prevent (more) wrinkles from showing up? Grey hair is one thing, but wrinkles are the same on men and women…they just make us look older, not more sophisticated.

All Anthony products scored less than a 4 on the Skin Deep (see my post from 7/4/07) ‘danger’ scale as well. Bravo!

Oh, and did I mention that the company donates a portion of their profits to charity to help fight against prostrate cancer? Great work, Anthony! Even more incentive to purchase from companies that give back, folks!

And check out his Little Men product so that little boys can be just like Dad: http://www.anthony.com/index.cfm/a/catalog.prodshow/vid/341/catid/195 . I'd love to see him add some kind of non-harmful, good for little boys' skin, shaving cream with a plastic, dull edge 'razor' so that little boys could 'shave' with Dad too :). Wouldn't that be a great father's day gift...a kit that had shave creams, razors , and after shave balm for both?? :-) ...maybe even a cleanser too, but I don't want to push anything ;).

Any of you men out there need more advice? I'm becoming a bonafied, self-proclaimed expert on the men's skin care industry as well..at least all of the knowledgable sales associates at Sephora & Barneys think so. As for the SAs at Bloomies, well.... they didn't seem to like it when I showed to have more men's skin care knowledge than they did.

Anthony, I salute you for addressing the real skin needs of men! And, dude, I don't know how old you are, but in your picture on your website, http://www.anthony.com/index.cfm/a/article.show/artid/4, you look like you are 20. If you are anywhere near 40, I'll start using your products myself ;-).

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Paraben Dilemma


There’s a big fuss in natural products about being ‘paraben free’. In fact, I understand from a very lovely perfumist I met yesterday at Barney's that parabens have just been banned in Europe. Most people wonder what 'paraben free' means, exactly...and I have to admit that I represent a line of products that are all natural & being 'paraben-free' is a selling point. I realized that I wasn't entirely sure why that was such a great thing. So, I did a little homework. Now we all can know.

Parabens are synthetic preservatives. They are also the most widely used preservative used in skincare products, according to the FDA. Preservatives are used in products to prevent microbial bacterial growth in products.. protecting consumers & maintaining what is known as ‘product integrity’. Basically, without parabens or some other form of preservative, your lotions, shower gels, etc would mold. Just imagine, you've taken a nice long shower; you've cleansed and scrubbed and now you feel squeeky clean & can't wait to put on your favorite yummy smelling body cream....only to open up the jar & find it molded. Yuck! And imagine how much money we would throw away. So, that should make us all pro-paraben, right?

Well, parabens have been accused of disrupting hormones & have been suggested to be linked to breast cancer & other estrogen related diseases…although testing is still inconclusive. It seems that parabens act similiarly to estrogen, but have a weaker effect than estrogen. Let me re-iterate, as there are different sources out there… parabens mimic estrogen, they are not estrogen. Estrogenic activity is linked to certain forms of breast cancer, fetal defects, & parabens have been blamed in many cases.

However, on their website (www.mayoclinic.com), the Mayo Clinic states that the link between parabens in anti-perspirants & deodorants & cancer (remember all the scary emails that every friend who cared about you sent around a few years ago?) is a myth…that there is no proven link that parabens cause or increase risk of breast cancer.

I’m no doctor or health expert, but if there were a history of breast cancer in my family, I might want to avoid parabens just to be on the safe side. Even if there is no family history of breast cancer, some people are choosing to avoid potential issues by avoiding parabens. This is up to you to decide.

The Fat Problem, www.thefatproblem.com, also claims that since estrogen helps regulate the fat cells in your body, and parabens mimic estrogen, yes, your shampoo could be making you fat! That’s all the motivation I need to stay away from parabens. They also claim (probably correctly) that when parabens are washed down our bath/shower drain they then infiltrate our drinking water. But they don’t stop there… they go as far to say that the water gets into soil & then gets into animals & causes defects in them. Wow! Who knew that washing my hair was going to cause defects in animals? This sounds like pretty serious stuff.

There are many paraben free products out there. Some use this as a marketing claim on their packaging, some do not (i.e. the couple’s line I represent, www.cmcouples.com, is paraben free, and is part of the marketing to retailers, but is not listed anywhere on the packaging other than you will not find any parabens in the list of ingredients) ..so always be sure to read the ingredients to check.

Also, never trust a sales associate to know the truth. I have to say I was at a very fancy deparment store recently & was told a line was natural 'based'. I asked if the line was paraben free & was told it was. When I was shown the packaged product, the ingredient list on the box showed 5 types of parabens in one product. I don't think anyone was trying to deceive me, I just think that some sales associates don't have all of the product knowledge they need.

So, how do you avoid parabens? Here’s what to look for in a list of ingredients: methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, or benzylparaben . If you are looking to avoid parabens, you want to keep an eye out for & avoid all of the above.

Just so you know, parabens are also used as preservatives in the food & drug industries as well…be sure to read your labels or ask your pharmacist if you are avoiding parabens. Be warned…they will turn up in the most unexpected places.

As for me, I've decided to keep an eye on them...for now, I won't 'not buy a product' because it has parabens, but I will keep an eye on where they appear in the ingredient list (preferably at the bottle of the list), & I'll try to have some paraben-free products as well. I'd like there to be a bit of balance in my products. Too much of anything can't be a good thing...unless it's chocolate.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Toner--the Misunderstood Skin Care Product

We all know that a cleanser cleanses the skin. A moisturizer, well, moisturizes the skin (amongst other things). But what does a toner do? Provide sleek defined muscle lines to your face? It seems many people don't know or have misconstrued thoughts on the function of a toner.

While searching for something else today, I came across a Q&A on a Yahoo message board that was totally inaccurate. As one dedicated to empowering people to take better care of their skin, I felt obliged to clear this matter up immediately…


Q: What does a toner do?

A: It improves the skin’s firmness…or so the beauty industry says.


This is completely incorrect.

First, let me clarify that we are not talking the black powder that fills your printer, we are talking the liquid that is applied to your face after cleansing.

While certain toners may include ingredients which they claim will help firm your skin (debatable), the real/main function of a toner is to restore the pH balance of your skin after cleansing.

Skin averages a pH balance of 4.5 - 5.5 in order to protect from outside elements (bacteria, toxins, dirt, pollution, allergies, etc.). For those of you that know your pH scale, this means that skin is a little on the acidic side (water is pH 7.0 and is considered pH neutral).

Your skin usually maintains it’s pH balance naturally through perspiration, sebum (fatty secretions), & hormones.

Most soaps (with average pH of 9.5 – 10) & water off-set the pH balance of your skin by wiping off what is known as your skin’s natural ‘acidic shield’. If you use a washcloth, the majority of laundry detergents have a pH balance of 10 – 12, which is not fully eliminated in the rinse cycle & leaves alkaline residue behind…which affects your skin as well. After cleansing, skin can take between 2 hours (for the fastest) up to 36 hours (for sensitive skin) to naturally restore its pH balance. During this time, your skin can be more vulnerable to the damaging elements previously listed above.

Another benefit of toner is that it also picks up any dirt & grime that your cleanser didn’t get. This is sometimes how I know if a new cleanser really works or not (i.e. how much dirt is on my cotton pad after I tone).

Restoring pH balance also helps your skin accept all serums & moisturizers better, meaning that they will perform better too.

This, my friends, is the job description of a skin toner. Any questions?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Skin Care Police

Check out this product safety website, Skin Deep, which I stumbled upon yesterday. It rates skincare products, including makeup, by their level of safety.

Skin Deep: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

Skin Deep is a non-profit which operates independently from the FDA (which 'regulates' all products which touch the skin) & has nothing to do with the government. They have evaluated almost 25,000 products based on toxicity & regulatory issues. I’m sure their site has some of your favorites, check it out. You might just find that your treasured Lancome anti-aging sunscreen could potentially have adverse effects on your nervous system (who would have thought about this?).

I was shocked while searching for ‘mango butter’ when I stumbled upon a listing for The Body Shop’s Mango Body Butter (this used to be one of my all time favorite body butters in the winter) which rated the product as an 7 (10 being the most dangerous, 0 being not harmful at all). Check it out:

The site also gives my precious Olay Regenerist Regenerating Collection (www.olay.com) a big, fat 10!

One of my other favorite lines, Avon Anew, www.avon.com (yes, folks, Avon makes some great anti-aging products) rates mostly 3-7 with 1 product even rating a 10.
Jane Iredale’s mineral cosmetics (www.janeiredale.com) mostly ranged from 0 to 4, most with ratings of 1-3. Her pressed powders rated an impressive 0, while a very few of her eye & lip products earned 4’s.

Skin Deep gave my beloved Bare Escentuals (www.bareescentuals.com) ratings from 2-4. A few blushes scored 2’s while the rest of the line mostly earned 3’s , including all of BE’s lip products. Many BE eye products rated 4.

Check & see what your favorite products could be doing to your body: http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/

By the way, the site also has a link on their homepage to a full summary of sunscreens...what works & what's safe! I suggest taking a look over it for the sake of your skin.

Well, while I appreciate the ratings, and think it’s important that we all are aware of what we are putting in & on our bodies, I’m not sure I’ll be giving up Regenerist (by the way, not all the products scored 10, but the “collection” did) or Anew (or any others for that matter). I still eat French fries, & I’ll still use my Regenerist..but at least I know now the potential downfalls of both; and at least I’ll still be lookin’ good when I keel over from my coronary ;).

Happy 4th of July to all my American readers! Celebrate your freedom to choose what's right for your skin!

Also, a huge thank you to those who risk their lives every day so that we can all sit back, sip a beer (or a margarita), watch the 4th of July fireworks, & participate in the daily freedoms which most of us take for granted! Bless you..today & always!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Great Info on Sunscreens

Check out this clip on U.S. News for some general info on choosing a sunscreen:


I especially like the trick of remembering UVA & UVB:

UVA are the rays that age you...think UVA - Aging

UVB are the rays that burn you ... think UVB - Burn

Kitchen Aid

Is your skin feeling a bit dry after too much sun? Reach into your cupboard and grab the bottle of Safflower oil. Yes, safflower oil. No, we aren’t going to make salad dressing, we are going to give your skin back moisture by applying it directly to our skin (sans vinegar & seasonings).

Safflower oil is high in linoleic acid which our bodies usually produce on their own to keep our skin moisturized. However, as with everything else, production slows as we get older.

Safflower oil is odorless (unless you’ve kept it in the cupboard too long & it’s gone rancid…don’t use it in this case), colorless, and best of all, cheap!

It’s great for the whole body, use it anywhere you need some moisture. Just be sure that you don’t need to rush off in a New York minute after you’ve applied, as it does take a little longer to absorb into your skin (it is an oil after all). You can even apply it (lightly) to your face (avoiding your eye area) if you feel the need for some extra moisture. Apply after cleansing, toning & serums, but before your moisturizer.

Olive oil is also high in linoleic acid, but last time I checked, most folks are not attracted to people who smell like salad. Be kind to your neighbors (& yourself) & go with safflower oil.
By the way, this works wonders in winter too when skin is in need of relief from dry, aching, flakiness…and much cheaper than all those expensive lotions.

Oh, and don’t forget to add sun protection before you go out the door... you know what oil does in the frying pan…