Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

Boy, it sure feels weird to type 2010! Especially when you're typing things like 1/01/10 or 1/10/2010; it feels like it should be a typo. About this time of year, I always like to take stock of my life and the things for which I am grateful. Some do this during Thanksgiving, some now, but I think most of us have a tendency to do it at one point or another.

All too often I get lost in the minutiae of the day, and forget to look at the big picture. I've been very blessed during 2009, and for this I am very grateful. My business is continuing to grow and thrive, my customers make me feel valued and loved, and I truly enjoy what I do for a living. Not too many people can say this, and I realize how lucky I am to wake up in the morning looking forward to the day's journey. I've made some great new friends on Twitter, reconnected with some very old ones on Facebook, and though I spend most of my waking hours staring at a monitor, I truly cherish these online friendships as much as those in my "3D" life. I'm also thankful for the aliens that came quietly one night during the summer and replaced my rolling-eyed teenage daughter with a newer version who is focused on school, working hard both in her academic life and her swimming, and can talk hockey even with any Canadian. She's my pride and joy. I have a wonderful man who has been by my side for 20 years, who I love more than words can ever tell.

What's in store for 2010?

Great things, both personally and professionally. I'm looking forward to a well earned vacation to ring in the New Year, chock full of ziplining, white water rafting, and if I can convince anyone in my family to go with me, bungee jumping.

By the time I return from vacation, I should have all sorts of things in store for you:

  • Slick new packaging - but you'll have to wait to see the details;
  • Diamond Perfect Finish in the tinted version hopefully will once again be available (I'm told the backorder is until mid-January); and
  • Cool new cosmetic bags for my kits

I'm sure that 2010 will bring lots more than that. This is just what's expected to be live in January.

From my heart to yours, thank you. I wish that 2010 brings health, happiness, laughter, and personal peace to each and every one of you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Holiday Shipping Update/January Hours

During the holiday season, we are shipping orders several times a day including weekends to get the most orders possible out and delivered in time for the holidays. Unless you are ordering something that is out of stock, all orders are shipped same day (unless, of course, your order is placed too late in the evening - then it will ship the following morning). However, the lines at the post office - heck, the line just to get into the parking lot - is indicitive of how slow mail service may currently be. It's highly suggested that any US orders you want delivered before Christmas be shipped Priority Mail. At this point in time, we cannot guarantee ontime delivery anywhere outside of the United States.


For the first time in what feels like 100 years, we will be closing to take a much needed vacation. The office will be closed between January 1st, 2010 and January 10th, 2010. Orders placed by noon PST on December 31st will be shipped before we leave. All other orders will begin shipping on January 11th. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding while we're closed to rejuvenate and regenerate!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Campaign For "Safe" Cosmetics = FAIL

Does this logo look familiar to you? Bet you've probably researched cosmetics companies and/or ingredients by perusing through the Skin Deep database. Many moons ago, I signed the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. I don't do any animal product testing, I use neither micronized ingredients, nor nanoparticles in any of my products. All was well and good with the world.

About a year ago, things drastically changed over there. Products that were once rated as "0's" or "1's" were suddenly in the "6's and 7's" for hazard safety warnings. If the ingredient didn't change, why did the rating change so drastically? Most of it became the interpretations of the studies - dire warning of dreaded diseases one might contract when coming in contact with the particular ingredient of note. If you're working in a lab, surrounded 8 hours (or more) a day, 5 days a week by flying powders, these warnings are worth heeding. That's why we wear gloves and face masks. But since non-micronized minerals do not pass through the skin, how can the amount the average woman is exposed to daily when applying her makeup possibly equate to high doses given to rats - even if they use one of those dispensing brushes that puff powder everywhere but your face? Coal Miner's Disease is from inhalation of coal tar over a period of years; it's not gotten by throwing charcoal briquettes on your BBQ everday during the summer. Personally, I'm more concerned about what I inhale daily in my shower when I spray Shower Saver all over my tile and glass in a small, inclosed area.

Not long after that, the organization became pretty militant with respect to the cosmetic companies. In March of last year, I received a very threatening letter from these folks, threatening that if I didn't upload all of my products and their ingredients, I would be listed as non-compliant.

No longer wanting to be associated with this milita, I fired back an email that I wanted my company and all information removed from their database. Not surprisingly, they never removed me. Since I never uploaded my ingredients, I'm deemed as non-compliant (see the circled area above). Do a search for Purely Cosmetics, and they make me look like the bad boy:

Rather, all of my products are voluntarily listed with the FDA in accordance with their Voluntary Cosmetic Registration Program. You know, the people who though don't regulate the industry directly on a product-by-product basis, do regulate what materials are approved for use in cosmetics - and then further break down what's approved as safe for eyes, lips, face and nails. Let's take a look at a very common ingredient used in color cosmetics: ultramarines. Though named many things, such as ultramarine blue, chromium oxide green, etc, they are still all ultramarines. Doing a search on the Skin Deep database will make you think these are very harmless ingredients - just look at all those nice, pretty green circles! Did you know that ultramarines are not safe for use on the lips? Do you see ANY indication of that here?

It appears that not as many people are putting as much stock into Skin Deep as they used to. Maybe they've figured out that this is a self-policed organization who rates ingredients on a whim, because now they're hitting visitors up hard for donations. Their old splash page is what's shown on top. If you visit their website now, here's their splash page:

So what was once started as a grassroots campaign against large manufacturers has turned into a vehicle to scare of any consumer from using any product. Buyer beware: just because it's on the internet, doesn't make it the gospel truth. Do your research, but read carefully and between the lines as well.

Friday, November 27, 2009

But Miss Scarlet, I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no turkeys!

Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays. I'm not a fan of turkey, and the holiday usually involves fitting too many people in too small of an area. Since my husband's side of the family is divorced and remarried, we rotate every 3 years with which side we celebrate. This year was my mom's turn.

Now my side of the family is rather small: two sisters (one of which is the black sheep no one likes) and my mother and her caregiver du jour (she has Alzheimer's and 24/7 care). Having OD'd on family gatherings for awhile, my husband, daughter and I were really, really tempted to tell all 3 sides it was one of the other's turn - who would know? Being threatened by my good sister that she'd kill me if I left her just with my mom and other sister, we caved in. Thanksgiving is set to be at my house, and all the dishes are divvied up between us 3 sisters. I'm in charge of salad, side dishes, appetizers, Black Sheep has dessert duty, and good sister will be bringing over her turkey fryer and will deep fry the turkey and make the dressing. Flash forward to 4:00pm the Wednesday before. My niece calls me to tell me that Good Sister went to the ER with food poisoning the night before, and won't be attending. This is the sister who had turkey duty!I've never, ever made a turkey in my life - I'm now totally panicked at the thought that I have to cook a successful turkey, and endure an evening of just my Black Sheep sister, my husband and daughter, and my mother who is incapable of following a conversation. Remember how I just said Thanksgiving was never one of my favorite holidays to begin with? I said to myself (after an hour of panicked tweets), "Self, calm down. You can do this." In the meantime, my daughter is imploring me to dontate the turkey to the homeless and go back to Plan A of running away. It's sounding very tempting, but I've commited myself, and can't back out now. It occurs to me that my mother wouldn't really know the difference, I don't really care how Black Sheep would feel, so this is all pretty much for my mother's caregiver, whom we really like. But onward I will march.

Most of my friends on Twitter are sympathetic and tossing out ideas for me: call Vons and get a pre-cooked turkey, heat it for 2 hours. Run to Boston Market. Thank heavens my sister had no room in her fridge for a turkey, so I already had that. Have any idea how hard it would have been to find an unfrozen small turkey at 5:00pm the Wednesday before?

A friend of mine had posted on Facebook that he was smoking his turkey this year. Hmmm... a turkey is just basically a large chicken, right? I can smoke a chicken on the bbq! I furiously text Joel, and ask him the details. How long do I smoke it? What kind of chips should I use? I immediately dash off to Barbeques Galore to buy a hefty 25 pound bag of lump charcoal, some pecan rub, and apple chips before they close in 30 minutes. I'm wondering if it doesn't look crispy enough when done if I can't add a little of my bronzer on it to make it at least look good. Maybe some eyeshadow and liner to lighten up the evening. If it doesn't come out, there's always frozen pizzas.

Here's the turkey an hour and a half into cooking it. I forgot that you don't need all 3 hours worth of lump charcoal added all at once. It's cooking just a wee bit too fast. Thanksgiving lunch anyone? The turkey was done in a mere 2 1/2 hours (Joel's, btw, took 5 1/2 for the same size turkey). Fortunately, the gathering is relatively small in size, and a few quick calls and the start time got moved up.

The brie cheese with apples, almonds and cranberries came out wonderfully as an appetizer (sorry, no pic on that one). Not that I cared much by then, as I had broken into the cranberry margaritas while panicking watching my turkey cook too fast. And I don't drink! But when all was said and done, the turkey tasted delicious - and I had gotten over the hurdle of feeling like a newlywed faced with her first Thanksgiving meal. The family all got along without any squabbles, and short of starting early and ending early (why is it that 7:00pm on Thanksgiving feels like 11:00?), it all went off without a hitch. For this, I am thankful.

And how was YOUR Thanksgiving celebration?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Every 15 Minutes...

OK, this post has absolutely nothing to do with beauty. It's about something even more near and dear to my heart than anything else in the world: my about-to-be 16 year old daughter. Today and tomorrow, her school is doing a program called "Every 15 Minutes". Every 15 minutes, a person is killed in the US as a result of an alcohol related accident. The dangers of drinking and driving is graphically illustrated through dramatizations on campus, put together by our local sheriff and fire departments. I remember when I was 16. I was invincible. I truly believed that nothing could hurt me; you were supposed to live until some ripe old age; you didn't die at 16 or 18.

Here's how the program is played out: Every 15 minutes throughout the school day, randomly selected students will be removed from their class. After being escorted out by the grim reaper, a Sheriff's Deputy will arrive on the scene and read the now dead student's obituary to the class. That obituary is posted in the classroom as a reminder to all of what was and might have been for that student. The student will be gone for the rest of the day, and is sequestered in a local hotel tonight with no cell phone and no communication with anyone. By 8:30am, my daughter texted me that she had already lost two of her friends. The girl who sits in front of her had already lost 4 of her best friends, and was sobbing uncontrollably. I replied to her that I hope the message being delivered hits home for her - she gets her drivers license in less than two weeks, so this could not have been timed better.

Tomorrow, there will be a memorial service held for all the students who lost their lives on campus today. Hopefully, the kids will reflect upon what was and could have been. More emotional and real for the kids (since all they hear from adults is "blah blah blah") will be from the students who participated. They will be sharing their thoughts and emotions of the previous 24 hours through letters written by them to their parents and family.

I think that this is a wonderful program that will emotionally touch the kids, and hopefully will remain with them deep down inside for many years to come. I don't want to lose my daughter before she has had the chance to live to her full potential.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Oy, the Drama...

I've written and re-written this blog post countless times. I'm torn between posting and not, as it is my personal belief that it's unbecoming for a brand to poke fingers or disparage other companies. But then again, I haven't posted an update to this blog in nearly a month (somewhat intentionally, so that I can keep the Breast Cancer post on top).

In the last few days, there has been quite a bit of drama has surrounded things much closer to my heart: independent mineral makeup companies, and the issue of repacking micas and calling them eyeshadows (or pigments, ya da ya da ya da). Companies that package micas and sell as shadows isn't new - there are several well known companies that practice this. I saw one particular company when I was attending IMATS selling an 8 stack of straight up mica for some ungodly amount like $65 (maybe it was $85). I saw that and said to myself, "Self, you're in the wrong part of the business. It takes no capital and no time to scoop mica from a bag to a jar, and look at those profit margins!" And many a beauty blogger were oogling over them (sigh). For that kinda profit, I can afford a booth at IMATS and do that and still come home rolling in the dough - there's no costs of carrying eleventy-seven base ingredients, no time or effort in coming up a medium that blends well, stays put, and with cool colors. And no "oopsies" that become my "Mystery Colors". There's another company doing much the same thing in many kiosks in shopping centers all over the country: selling straight up mica and at a grossly overinflated price. I've always wondered how much these joints get in return customers. I'm guessing not many, so they take their money up front and are happy with a one-shot deal.

The "mutiny" that's been buzzing around the last week isn't aimed at these larger companies who probably buy their micas in China, have them packaged there for pennies, and shipped here. It's been aimed at smaller Indies such as myself, which then hits a spot near and dear to my heart, for fear that it will cast a pallor on the entire industry, including those who work hard to create their products. The broo-ha-ha that has been surrounding the issue is that of people who purchase micas in bulk from either the manufacturer or from an intermediary wholesaler, then repackage them in smaller jars and call them shadows or pigments, created by them after hours of searching for inspiration and trial and error until they came up with just the perfect shades. Even more disturbing is that they are gettng the runaround and less than honest answers (if answers at all) from many of these repackers. The customers are naturally upset at this because they're paying good money ordering what they think is a novel shade of shadow, only to find that it's exactly as something else that they own. This differs slightly from the larger companies mentioned above because all of this is online. You're not looking/touching/seeing the actual product, but ordering based on your best guess from your monitor.

I have no issues with repackers; everyone has a right to run their business any way they choose. However, it is like nails on a chalkboard to hear that they use "nothing but pure pigments" (very true, actually) for the most intense color, and don't "water them down with fillers". Ummm... excuse me? Would you like that shadow to last all day without having to apply it wet? Then other ingredients need to be added that provide properties for adhesion, perhaps oil absorption, water repellency, etc.

Having read many of the blog posts and comments, looked at the websites in question (I am not mentioning which blogs or mineral makeup companies as I will not break my personal standard of ethics), I thought I'd do a bit of education and tips.

To begin with, if you're a customer of mine, you're probably reading this whole thing wondering "WTF?" Although most (if not all) of my customers are young at heart, but many of us are not young by the calendar. That's why I started this line to begin with: I couldn't find any darn minerals that didn't have tons of shimmer, sparkle or sheen. However, there are tons of women out there who love (and can carry off) dramatic color that would make me look worse than Bozo The Clown. These women are the ones who are most affected by the mica repackaging issue. They like dramtic looks, not the subtle neutrals many of us wear daily.

What's the difference between a mica and an eyeshadow? Actually, a mica is a thin, usually transparent sheet by itself. These micas are coated/bonded/blended with iron oxides, tin oxide, titanium dioxide, carmine, all sorts of things to make them colorful and shimmery. How much shimmer will depend on the micron size of the actual mica - but I'm not going to go chemist on you, so just trust me on that part. By itself, colored micas have little adhesion and staying power. Those who wear straight micas (and knowing that they are doing so), will add something to keep it on their lids. Usually a shadow primer, followed by applying the colorants with a wet brush, and perhaps even a sealant on top of that. THEN you can get a bright, bold color. If you take it straight out of the bag, rub it on your hand and blend it in a bit, you'll see that there's little color payoff. Now run that hand under water - bye bye color!

It irks me to no end to see companies state that they use only pure colorants/micas/pigments (fill in the blank as to how it's phrased; it's still basically saying the same thing) with no "fillers", making "fillers" sound like a bad thing. Most ingredients added to a colored mica serves a purpose beyond bulking up the product to make it spread farther. You can't add straight iron oxides to your eyes - they won't blend, they won't apply smoothly, and they will stain your lids! A filler could be something like plain sericite - it doesn't really do much in the case of an eyeshadow other than to add some fluffiness, and by itself, doesn't have much in the way of adhesive properties. Although, when added to iron oxides, you'll be helping the spreadability issue, so even then, it's not a useless filler. Zinc oxide, Zinc Stearate, Titanium Dioxide (other than the titanium dioxide that has been pre-blended to the mica colorant by the manufacturer), Carnauba coated mica, magnesium myristate, magnesium stearate, kaolin clay, silica, boron (and many more) - all of these ingredients will aid in adhesion, water resistance, oil resistance, spreadability (aka slip) and staying power. If you don't see at least one or two of these in an ingredient listing, you're probably not looking at an eyeshadow that will remain on your lids without creasing or wearing off unless you use a shadow primer, foil (appy wet) on the color, and really work with it.

Some tips to look for:

  • When perusing the website, look at their product line as a whole. Most savy Indies want you to have a one-stop shopping experience, so you'll see a whole slew of types of products, including foundations, blushes, finishing powders, primers, lipsticks (which, btw, I doubt you'll ever see from me - I've yet to successfully make a lip product and not spill it everywhere; one of the downsides of being a 2nd generation klutz), and brushes. If you don't see a fully developed product line, you may be looking at a repacker who has no ability to develop a product line.
  • Look for a listing of ingredients. Those who are reputable have nothing to hide, and usually will post their ingredients either all on one page, or with each individual item. We do that on purpose - we want you to know what the ingredients are so that God forbid you have an allergy to a particular ingredient, you don't buy it and sue the pants off us for not disclosing the ingredients. Make sure that the ingredients listed are real ingredients, as recognized by the FDA, and not "glitter, shimmer, sparkle, Fairy Dust, or secret ingredient". We're not Coca-Cola; we can't use secret ingredients as a listing.
  • If you see "pure, crushed minerals straight from the Earth", run. You're looking at someone who really hasn't a clue. Iron oxides need to be lab processed to remove the heavy metal content that is toxic if used as mined from the Earth. Colored micas don't come from the mine that way - they're made in a lab. Can you see some guy in Africa sitting with a mortar and pestle crushing up minerals and think they're safe for use as cosmetics?
  • Google the company. Google more than their name, but Google something like "XYZ reviews", and see what's been written about the company elsewhere.
  • Feel free to contact the company. Ask how long they've been in business. Question the ingredients if you're unsure. I've had many a customer call wanting ingredient information - even though it's listed on every product page, people don't always see it. If they don't get back to you in a timely manner, ask yourself if this is indicitive of their customer service and whether that matters to you.

When you walk away from this post, I hope you take one thing with you: if it's too good to be true, then it probably isn't.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Purely Cosmetics Supports Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness runs all through October. In support of this very important cause, Purely Cosmetics will be donating 10% of all sales during the month of October to breast cancer research. Instead of asking me when I may be running my next sale (which are not often anyway to keep them special), please use this month to place any orders and help someone else in need.

While you're at it, help give someone a free mammogram. It's easy. Just visit the Breast Cancer Site and click on the big, pink button that says "click to give". You won't be donating personally, but each click will add to the donations given by their sponsor companies. Click daily, please.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

OMG OMG - This is better than being on Oprah!

Anyone who's into makeup knows who YouTube Guru EnKore Makeup is. I'm not going to say another word (mostly because I'm speechless!) - watch on!

Now if you don't have the time to watch the whole video, you can read up on it on Koren's blog.

Just to show you how nice of a guy he his, he made me a special brush roll for my birthday. I'm determined to make it a best seller, so go check out Robyn's Blue Temple Brush Roll!

Monday, September 14, 2009

How I $pent my weekend...

Most of my beauty blogger pals have been attending New York Fashion Week, making me envious of the hob-nobbing and parties with every well known brand on the planet, getting treated like royalty (one even winning a necklace from Tiffanys!), while I toil away.

OK, I can't feel too sorry for myself. I spent (literally, as in moolah) Saturday attending a Spa & Esthetics show. By the time I left, I looked like a bag lady - I'm not one to pass up a deal; who cares if I don't need it? This is a crappy pic taken with my cell while trying to juggle car keys, water bottle, purse and Lord knows what else of just some of the haul I walked away with at the end of the day:

I bought Zoya nail polish when I rarely do my nails, but it was only $18/6 bottles! If you wanted the overstock shades, you could get those for only $12 for 6 bottles. Picked up some Fake Bake in eleventy-seven different forms (spray, mousse, lotion....) because my daughter can't stand it when her tan lines from being a swimmer prevents her from wearing spaghetti straps or low backed dresses. One small bottle would have done just fine, but noooooo.... let's buy the kit with one of everything! I now have more samples of different moisturizers, anti-aging creams, masks, etc that I'll never have to buy a full sized jar for months! Let's not even talk about the Clarisonic brushes and their face washes in Back Bar (big, half gallon jugs with pumps in 'em) sizes. Let's just say I'm well stocked for the next year or ten.

I bought these great microfiber towels, made with bamboo charcoal from Hollywood Face. OMG, these are to die for! They are the fluffiest, softest, most absorbent towels I've ever seen in my life. I purchased them to use to dry the inside of my blender jars (gotta get those puppies super dry immediately after washing them), and trust me, I'm going right over to their website and buying them in the washcloth and bath towel sizes. If they'd make sweat pants out of them, I'd buy those too. Here's what they say about bamboo charcoal: "Bamboo charcoal is made by heating bamboo at a temperature of more than 1,000oC, then grinding them into nano-particles to combine with filament yarn. The bamboo charcoal component of this textile gives it absorption properties that reduce moisture, inhibit bacteria, and eliminate odor." They also claim that bamboo charcoal releases negative ions, shown to relieve stress and boost energy levels, improve circulation, and facilitate relaxation. I don't know how true that is, but makes another good reason for them to make sweat pants and sweatshirts from this stuff. I can tell you that I was able to dry out my blender jars in one fowl swoop; there was absolutely no mooshing water around. Just sucked it right up.

And since I had all this new nail polish lying around, had to do my tootsies today too. I was so focused on the great deals and trying to choose 6 shades from 300 options, I didn't really pay very close attention to Zoya's products at the time. But I did when I pulled them out this morning. The gal had been talking about how Zoya is the only nail polish made for natural nails. Which meant nothing to me, so I listened with half an ear. This stuff is good stuff! It's free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor. Now go look at your nail polishes - bet you can't say the same thing about them! Even their nail polish remover doesn't have any of those ingredients (that's the purple stuff in the bottom right corner). According to the Zoya website, their polish "has been awarded as the longest wearing natural nail polish by an independent panel in Women’s Health Magazine". Ok, mine's only been on for a few hours, so can't tell you about that. But I really, really like how it's formaldehyde, phthalate and toluene free.

So there ya have it. Go check out both the Zoya polish and the Bamboo Charcoal towels! You will not be disappointed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Ingredients: What's beneficial for your skin type?

Yesterday, BionicBeauty did an excellent post about Acne Tips for Teens. Having a teenage daughter who suffers from bad acne, I was immediately drawn to her well researched information. If you suffer from acne, whether you're a teen or an adult, I highly recommend reading it.

It also got me to thinking. Consumers are getting more savvy everyday about the ingredients in their makeup products, but how many know what the actual purpose of common ingredients? Many know that sulfates, phthalates, and parabens aren't preferable choices in our makeup and skin care products. Even with natural ingredients, not every ingredient is necessarily beneficial to every skin type - if you have oily skin, you're going to want a higher concentration of certain ingredients, while if you have dry skin, these will preferably be lower on the list.

Minerals that have high absorption properties, more suitable for oily skin than dry:

  • Silica - the sole ingredient in the ever popular Makeup Forever High Def Finishing Powder, can give a soft focus, has great slip (tactile feel), and is translucent. On the flip side, it can be very drying. If you already have dry skin, you wouldn't want to see silica in a concentration of higher than about 3%, which would put it very far back in the ingredient listing.

  • Bentonite Clay - of all the clay minerals, this one has probably the highest absorption ratio. it's so absorbent, it's often used to clean oil spills. Works fabulously in our Oil Absorb primer, but dry skin should avoid at all costs. Even those with slightly oily skin should only use on extra oily days, or just in areas of your face that are oil-prone (such as your T-Zone).

  • Kaolin Clay - is one of those most common clays used in makeup. It's lightweight and has great adhesion. If used in small amounts, it's safe for all skin types. It's great in eye shadows to help prevent creasing, and makes a wonderful mask. Too much in an all-over face product (foundations, primers, finishing powders) will be too drying for those without oily skin.

  • Calcium Carbonate - another highly absorbent ingredient, found in chalk and limestone. Good for oily skin, bad for dry skin.

  • Calcium Silicate - found in Bare Escentuals new matte foundation formula, this is basically a combination of calcium and silica. If calcium carbonate and silica are both drying ingredients, you do the math.

Ingredients safe for all skin types:

  • Silk Powder - what I call a "smart powder", silk has dual properties of both pulling moisture from the air to keep your skin hydrated, while simultaneously absorbing excess oils from your skin. Perfect for combination skin! It provides essential amino acids for the skin. Silk also reflects light most closely to natural skin.

  • Pearl Powder - long known as an "Ancient Chinese Secret", pearl powder (made from crushed Mother of Pearl) also helps keep skin hydrated and evens skin tone. It also provides nutrients for the skin.

  • Jojoba Oil - although called an oil, technically, Jojoba is a wax. It mimics the skins sebum. For those with oily skin, you're not stripping yourself of natural oils, causing your body to produce even more oil. It's non-comedogenic, absorbed quickly by the skin, and is moisturizing.

  • Carnauba wax - not to be confused with the car wax! Carnauba has water resistant properties, helping keep your makeup on even through sweating on those hot days. It also helps keep your colors true throughout the day (ever notice that some makeup tends to change colors on you?).

  • Boron Nitride - originating from the mineral borax, boron improves adhesion and yields a smooth application. Depending on the particle size, boron can be nearly invisible to giving that "dewy glow" without using irritating bismuth oxychloride.

Scary sounding ingredients that aren't:

  • Tocopheryl Acetate - aka Vitamin E

  • Bisabolol - known to have anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties

Stuff to be leery of:

  • Food grade powders, such as rice powder and cornstarch - gives soft, silky feel to products, but usually must be used in conjunction with preservatives, as they are a haven for bacterial growth if exposed to moisture (like steamy bathrooms or wet cosmetic brushes), and many have limited shelf lives.

  • Micronized particles - this differs from nanoparticles, which are known to cross the blood-brain barrier. However, the long term safety of micronized ingredients is still debatable. Use with caution.

  • Silicones - many love the feel of primers made with silicone. To me, it feels like I'm applying a thin layer of Vaseline to my face, and can't stand it. More importantly, you're creating a barrier between your skin and the air, not letting your skin be able to breathe. It's like wrapping your face in Saran Wrap.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but some of the more common ingredients found in cosmetics.

Monday, August 31, 2009

My Last Birthday Post - I Promise!

OK, I know the last gazillion posts have been about my 50th Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon. You're probably sick of hearing about it by now. Just to show that it wasn't all work and no play, I decided to do this personal post about how I also celebrated my birthday offline.

Since I was so busy on the actual day of my birthday, most of the celebrating was over the weekend. Keeping things low key, we just had a few friends and family over for the evening Saturday. OK, mostly family, and just a couple of friends - my husband's side of the family is so big we ran out of room for little things like friends. Good food, good company, I was happy.

I wasn't allowed to do a thing. Marc (my husband) and Jamie (my daughter) took care of everything from start to finish - a gift in and of itself! Traditionally, my husband is the "go to" guy for every family occasion to write a limmerick. He's witty, and pops those things out in mere minutes. He's not particularly demonstrative, and isn't one who readily expresses his feelings, but I've never in my life questioned his love for me. I'm pretty sure he didn't just whip my birthday limmerick out like he normally does. You could really see his feelings for me, and see the thought that went into it. He's gonna kill me for posting it here for all the world to see, but it touched me so deeply, how could I not share it?

So... here's my birthday limmerick, written with love:
Just because Robyn’s 50, don’t expect her to mope.
Cuz she looks and acts young and is able to cope.

She’s like a spry puppy with a smile on her face.
With dog butts to sniff all over the place.

And dogs are her passion, they know she’s a sucker.
They kiss her and nudge her but she won’t let anything else.

There is no single dog that doesn’t wag when he sees her.
When she scratches their tummies they often have seizures.

And she loves them all equally, you know that it’s true.
Except for that rat dog that peed on her shoe.

However, no one is perfect so I must say this rhyme:
Why’s it so difficult to be ready on time?

I know what you’ll say. You must water the dog.
And you’ll do it as soon as you finish your blog.

Lateness is something she just can’t quite fix
We’ve tried adjusting the clock and other cute tricks.

But no matter our ruse she still finds a way
To cause us to suffer some kind of delay.

An example of this will happen most nights
Luckily we’ve been able to avoid family fights.

Jamie yells from her room: "Mom, is it dinner yet?"
"In a few minutes. I’m on the Internet."

But when 10 o’clock strikes I know where to find her
Disrupting my shows with the damn coffee grinder.

Okay. It’s unfair to gripe after all that you do.
So I’ll move on to good stuff–there’s lots of that too.

She does all the cooking including the grill.
And, while the menu is small, it still fits the bill.

Her enchiladas are heaven, chicken parm’s divine
But they’d probably taste better if we ate before nine.

As a mom she’s supportive, always ready to clap.
Whether it’s swimming or skating or soccer or tap.

Whether schlepping our daughter or shopping for food,
She gets it all done and maintains a good mood.

She tweets and she blogs and she e-mails all day.
While her cell phone plays Jeopardy not too far away.

She really works hard to make her businesses grow.
But three bucks an hour is just a little bit low.

With what’s on her plate she still gets it all done
And somehow finds time to relax and have fun.

She goes through her life with nary a complaint
And takes care of us all like an angelic saint.

We don’t say "I love you" quite nearly enough
Cuz we get too caught up with the trivial stuff.

But know that it’s true, that we love you so much.
Even when we don’t say it with words or a touch.

When their honey hits 50 some husbands would whine
But in my heart and my eyes you’re still 29.

I'm married to one of the best men in the world.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank heavens I only turn 50 once!

Just a quick Thank You to everyone who participated in yesterday's Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon. It was an overwhelming success! This is just the orders packed last night (ok, more like until the wee hours of this morning) sitting on my husband's cubby to take to the post office this morning on his way to basketball. I shoulda left a rolling cart next to the pile for him!

I had so much fun putting together that Woot-Off style sale, and it sounds like everyone else enjoyed it as well. Or at least I hope so :) It was so crazy, I didn't even get to put up all of the specials I had planned! My inventory is now bone dry, and I'll be spending most of the day today formulating just so that I have product once again.

I'm not so sure I'll be able to top this next year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Skinny on Thursday's Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon

I've spent all day today putting together the how to's and what to's for Thursday's Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon (Woot-Off Style). The trickiest thing was trying to figure out how to keep you from having to place multiple orders, resulting in my issuing multiple refunds for excess shipping. And not knowing whether you're done shopping or not, leaving a bunch of semi-ready orders sitting there waiting to go. Not fun options for either one of us.

Then it hit me - Eureka! Make a Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon page! That link will take you right to the page, by the way. OK, it's blank now (or so you think - everything is there, it's just hidden), but bookmark it, 'cuz that's the only page you'll be able to get the Birthday Bash pricing on. I tested it by putting a few items in my cart, disabled the sale price on them, and went back later. Yep, items are still in my cart, still with the sale price. So you can continue to fill up your cart as the day goes on, then checkout when you're a) all spent up; or b) got everything you're going to want or need. Easy, peasy. While some sale items will be offered for a certain amount of time (unknown to you), others are only in limited quantities - even as few as one or two. Once it's purchased, that item comes off sale and the next one goes up. There's just one wee little hitch. I have no idea what you have sitting in your cart until you finalize your order. So if you bought something in limited quantities as well as someone else, the first to finalize their order will be the recipient of the item. Any others will get emailed a "so sorry" notification.

Just so that you have an idea of what you might want to be looking out for, and to help you know when you're done (it occured to me I may be filling orders into the wee hours on my birthday if I don't clue you in), I'll let you in on some of the highlights. Not the prices, but the highlights. If you count the various shades I've got 36 different products going on sale throughout the day! Here's some of what you can expect:

  • All foundations
  • Diamond Perfect Finish
  • Select brushes
  • Special Edition Brush Set (this is a good one!)
  • Waterproof Gel Eyeliners
  • Select blushes and bronzers
  • Pure Silk Powder
  • Silk & Pearl Powder Primer
  • Special sets (eyeshadows and Blinc products)
  • Gifts with purchase (with special thanks to jeune d'age Organics & Garden Girl Skincare)

But wait, that's not all! A free ginsu knife with every order! OK - that part was a joke; I don't have any Ginsu knives lying around. BUT if you miss out on an item you really wanted, that doesn't mean you might not get anything as a little surprise in your package. I'll be randomly throwing in freebies into orders as the mood strikes me. Just be nice and wish me a Happy Birthday in the notes section - I might just Happy Birthday you right back!

So let's do a little recap, shall we? You can find out what's going on sale one of three ways:

  1. Become a Purely Cosmetics Facebook Fan;
  2. Follow me on Twitter;
  3. Bookmark the Birthday Bash Sale-A-Thon webpage and keep hitting F5 like a good Wooter does.

Sale will begin sometime after I wake up and get my first cup of java in me (between 6:30-7:30am PST). Since I have no idea what we're doing to celebrate, other than I'm not cooking, sale ends when we leave for dinner (guessing around 6:00pm PST).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Save The Date: Aug 27 Birthday Bash!

Go figure this: I'm not a fan of celebrating my birthday with parties and such - take me out to dinner so that I don't have to cook, and I'm happy. But every year, I do something special on the site to celebrate. As you know, my birthday is coming up next Thursday, when I'll be having one of those birthdays that end in "0" - and a number that when doubled, I'm pretty much assured of not being alive. So that kicks out my 30th and 40th.

Trying to come up with something new and different, I'm stealing from Woot, and having a sale similar to a Woot-Off. I'll randomly put things on sale - they will all have something to do with 50 (50% off, buy something, get something else free, etc). How long that item will remain on sale will be totally at my whim. Could be 50 minutes, could be a few hours, maybe 50 seconds. Then that sale item is no longer available at the special price, and something else will be.

How to participate? Make sure you join my Facebook Fan Page, and follow me on Twitter. I'll be posting the item du jour moment on both of those two places, and nowhere else. Not to worry if you buy multiple items from multiple specials - if it gets shipped all together, you'll be refunded any extra shipping charges you were billed for.
Hmmm... what should I do for my 50th Facebook fan??? 150th???

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Makeup Tip: How to maximize your coverage without looking like it

With my 50th errrr, ummm, 29th birthday birthday looming next week, I've been examining my face closely. Let's face it; at 50 29, you're no longer a spring chicken, and unless you're a frequent flyer at the plastic surgeon, it shows on your skin.

I remember the days when all I hated about my looks were my stomach and elephant legs. That was an easy solution: I wear lots of long dresses, and there isn't a full length mirror to be found anywhere in my home (what you don't know, won't hurt you, lol). Nowadays, my face is chock full of fine lines, age spots, uneven color (aka blotchiness)... the list is endless. How do I cover all those signs of having lead a "full life"? Actually, it's quite easy. Here's what you do:

  1. If you have pretty oily skin, apply Oil Absorb all over your face, or in oily areas such as your T-Zone. This is best applied using a kabuki or a fluffy powder brush. (Skip this step and move on to step two if you have either dry, normal, combination or slightly oily skin).

  2. Apply Silk & Pearl Powder primer. I use a flat top brush, but you can use a kabuki or powder brush as well. Helpful hint: I even wear this primer to bed after washing and moisturizing my face. The pearl powder in it helps even your skin tone, and the product makes your face oh so soft!

  3. This is one of the most important steps. Put a drop of moisturizer (about the size of a pea) into the palm of your hand. Use a lightweight daytime moisturizer; one that is too emollient will not spread evenly. Tap out 2-3 taps of loose powder foundation on top of the moisturizer, and blend with your palms. Now apply that to your face and let sit for a minute or so. That's usually when I go stand in my closet and ponder what the heck I'm going to wear.

  4. Even though the title of this post is about maximizing coverage, if you want just a light coverage, you can stop here. It will give similar coverage to a tinted moisturizer, but you didn't have to go buy another product to get the look.

  5. Once that first layer has set (isn't tacky to the touch), buff on dry layers on top as needed.

  6. Spritz your face using a facial atomizer (I use Evian's facial spray). Hold the atomizer at arm's length and spray a light circle over your face. Be careful not to get your face too wet. Now pick up that same brush you used to buff on your foundation, and buff once more. The facial spray will set the foundation and avoid any cakey look.

  7. Add a layer of Diamond Perfect Finish using a Duo Fiber (aka stippler or skunk) brush to give an airbrushed look and blur fine lines and pores.

Side note: Many seem to think that Diamond Perfect Finish only works for those who have fair to light skin. It can be used for all skin colors. For those with darker skin, apply it between steps 4 and 5 and/or mix it with your foundation.

Here's the end result (one of these days, I'll get someone ELSE to take the picture):

Monday, August 17, 2009

PRODUCT REVIEW: Korres Natural Products

Awhile back, I was contacted by Korres, who liked the fact that I was concerned with my cosmetics being natural. I guess they missed the fact that I mostly blog about my own products, but they wanted to know if I was willing to receive some of their natural skin products, and to perhaps post a review, if I so chose. "Sure", I said, why not get some free stuff? It made me feel like a "real blogger", lol. And, here's my first "real" product review!

I received several products: their toning cleansing foam, Wild Rose moisturizer, tinted lip balm, Pomegranate cleansing wipes (those went to my daughter, as they're for normal-oily skin), Mascara infused with ProVitamin B and rice bran, and their silicone free face primer. I still haven't quite figured out the Toning Cleansing Foam. Is it toner or a cleanser? It went on thin like a toner would, but foamed like a cleanser (without the glide). It didn't cleanse my face, as makeup still came off on my wipes. But since it foams up, rinsing off is needed. Would you rinse off a toner? That one has me a little confused.

I was very intrigued by their silicone free face primer. One of the main reasons I created my Silk & Pearl Powder primer is because I absolutely hate primers with silicone - it feels like I'm wrapping my face in Saran Wrap before applying foundation. 99% of this primer is made from natural ingredients (yay). It goes on lightly and smoothly, and dries pretty quickly. As promised, it does help diminish pore size. It doesn't help aid in coverage, but that's ok. I've worn it in damp, foggy weather at the beach, as well as on a hot day today, and didn't feel like my skin was unable to breathe. All in all, it's a good primer, though at $28 for a one ounce tube, it may be a bit on the pricey side. Read on though, for how you can get it for just under $20.

I'm also sporting their Pro-vitamin B and Rice Bran mascara ($18). I couldn't wear it yesterday - going to the beach means wearing my Blinc; I'm not going body surfing sporting racoon eyes - but it's held up really well today. It didn't give my lashes a lot of length, but it did give them a lot of volume, and with no flaking.

I'd like to give everything a full test run before publishing a review, but time is also of the essence, as I can save you 30% off of any order you place online through September 15th. If I tried everything for a week or more, then a few days to write the post, you'd have about 2 minutes to take advantage of the savings!

To receive your 30% discount off your entire purchase (cannot be combined with any other offer), simply use the coupon code SHOPAHOLIC during your checkout.

So... how'd I do for a first product review that wasn't my own products?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How great is this?

I just received one of the best emails ever from a new customer. It's the little things like this that make all the hours I put in worth every second. Rather than say anything more, I'll let Stacy's email speak for itself:

I just ordered and started using your mineral makeup last week and i wanted to send an email telling you how great your products are! I used Bare Minerals for about 7 years and was never very satisfied with it, but at the time mineral makeup was new and there weren't many options on the market. A few months ago a switched to Lancome's mineral powder (which i think is just a normal powder foundation with the word "mineral" thrown in to get them on the bandwagon) and I liked much more but was really looking for something more natural. I spent a lot of time researching mineral makeups trying to find one that didn't contain ANY potentially harmful or irritating or pore clogging ingredients and it was only by luck that I stumbled across a review for your line. When I read your ingredients list I was sold...not only had I found makeup with everything I wanted (and more importantly without everything I didn't want) but it was also way less expensive.

I was sure there was a catch somewhere. When I made my order I resigned myself to getting it weeks later, but I received it within 3 days with free shipping on my $60 order. While I was a little frustrated at having to order products online and wait for them rather than have the instant gratification of picking them up at the store, with such fast shipping I actually prefer the ease of a few mouse clicks to driving across the city to fight the masses at the mall. I tried it out and while I am still getting used to some application differences I absolutely love the products. I ordered a starter kit so I could try out a few things and I like them all. I am so happy with how well the pure mineral foundation matches my skin tone on the first try. I had ordered Peaches 'n Cream, but got a sample of Fair Maiden just in case it was too dark. As it turns out PNC was perfect and I have used the slightly lighter FM as a concealer. I also tried the blush in Blushing and the Diamond Perfect Finish powder which I admit I am not sure I am using correctly (I use it underneath instead of on top of the foundation) but I still like. The blush brush left something to be desired but the synthetic kabuki brush is the nicest, softest most luxurious brush i have ever felt...I am definitely going to add another one to my next order.

My only slight complaint is that the sifter jars make quite a mess and a jar with a lid that you can twist to close off the holes would be nice. For the time being I have dumped my Lancome makeup out of the container (that has a twist-close lid) and have filled it with your makeup to make it more portable and less messy. It is a small inconvenience and by no means has diminished my satisfaction with your products. I can't wait to order more.

Keep up the awesome work!!!

Just to let everyone else know, as I told Stacy, I've been searching high and low for those twisty sifters. There is only one company that I've found, and the sifters don't fit my jars. Not that that's much of an issue, since you have to order 25,000 pieces/size. A way to keep the mess down when using for travel or your purse is to order a couple of empty 5 gram jars. The holes are smaller, and not as much comes spilling out. Besides, they take up far less room - leave the full sized jar in your bathroom, take the little ones with you.

Once again, thank you Stacy. You just gave be a much needed grin!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Won't You Be My Friend?

Purely Cosmetics Facebook Fan Page Ugh - who knew there was a difference between a product page, a "store", and lord knows what else on Facebook fan pages? Here I've had the wrong type of page all along (I was a "store" instead of a "product"). And I had so many fans too! After hours of clicking around, I finally discovered that you can't just switch the type of page you are; you have to create a whole new page. What a PITA. Anyway, I lost the whole day recreating our Fan page, but it's looking awfully lonely over there. Won'tcha come and join? Maybe post a "hi" on the wall so that it doesn't look like I'm just talking to myself?

Here's the link: See ya there :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oops - Our mistake is your savings!

OK, I admit it. I screwed up. I thought I was ordering the waterproof gel eyeliners in 2 really cool new shades. Turns out, in my excitement, I didn't read things very carefully, and ended up buying Waterproof Creme Eye Shadows instead. These are NOT my Cream to Powder Shadow Singles, and I'm afraid that y'all will get confused between these creme shadows and my Cream to Powders.

Slate Waterproof Creme ShadowHeather Green Waterproof Creme Eye Shadow

So.... I need to dump them. I've knocked them down to a firesale price of $8.95 each. These shadows remind me sort of like UDPP - it goes on as a cream, but dries rapidly to become smudgeproof, crease-proof, and waterproof. The Slate is a charcoal grey, while the Heather Green reminds me of an army green with gold highlights. Buy them now, because once they're gone, they'll be gone for-evah!

Find them listed under "Eyes -> Closeouts" on the website, or click here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Last 24(ish) Hours Left for Bionic Beauty's Giveaway

OMG, this giveaway hosted by Moi is taking off like gangbusters! At last count, there were over 225 comments on Bionic Beauty's 2nd Anniversary Celebration. The contest ends tomorrow (Saturday) night at midnight, EST. Have you gotten your entry in? Enter to win $100 of products in her All About The Eyes giveaway including:
  • 3 full sized loose powder shadows in your choice of colors;
  • 1 waterproof gel eyeliner in your choice of shade;
  • 2 Cream to Powder Singles in Nude and Black Opal
  • 5 piece shadow brush set, including a liner, shadow, foiling, blending, and small detail brush

AND... for those of you who have entered (or those who plan to in the next 24 hours), guess what? I just added 2 new Waterproof Gel Eyeliner colors: Electric Blue and Royal Purple. They are bee-u-tiful! If you've already entered and want to change your liner shade to one of the new colors, not to worry; I'll be recontacting the lucky random winner to confirm your color choices.

Remember: Tweets mentioning both @BionicBeauty and @PurelyCosmetics about the giveaway gets double entries, and posts on this blog (here) about how many reviews Jami has done of Purely Cosmetics products along with your favorite gets an extra $10 credit for use on any purchase!

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's all about the eyes - and it's FREE!

Know that "Bionic Beauty" badge I have over there ? That's because I'm a huge fan of the beauty blog, Bionic Beauty. OK, yes, she loves my products, but all bias aside, Bionic Beauty is a great blog for the everyday kinda gal. Jami is always sleuthing and posting about freebies she's found, great deals, and products that are readily available to everyone. And one of the few bloggers that isn't a MAC-aholic!

Jami's blog has been celebrating all through the month of July the anniversary of her second year. In just a mere two years, she's managed to get not only a huge readership (if you aren't subscribed to Bionic Beauty, get over there now and do it), but has been reblogged in Reuters, appeared in Ladie's Home Journal, OnMakeup Magazine, and countless other newspapers and magazines.

To help celebrate her 2 year milestone with such huge accomplishments, we are sponsoring a giveaway on her blog. Called "It's All About The Eyes", you can enter to win a prize package from me that consists of:

  • 3 full sized mineral eye shadows in your choice of shades;

  • Full sized Cream to Powder shadows in both Nude and Black Opal to act as a perfect shadow primer (read her review on how the Black Opal works as a primer here);

  • 1 Waterproof Gel Liner in your choice of colors; and a

  • 5 piece shadow brush set

Want to enter? Mosey on over to BionicBeauty and get all the details! This promotion is for readers worldwide (with a couple of exceptions). AND... if you read it carefully, you'll also see a bonus option for a $10 certificate by posting your answer and links on this post. Double entries for Twitter tweets mentioning the giveaway :) The entry deadline is midnight EST on August 6th.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

I'm Baaaack!

I had a fantastic time in Vegas at Cosmoprof. My feet were killing me from all the walking, and the heat hit as high as 122 degrees while driving there, but it was well worth it! I actually got to meet the owners of some of the companies I use as vendors (waves hi to Karen), scouted out some potential new items (I'm testing them now), and finally got to meet some of my favorite beauty bloggers (waves another hi to Jen, Lianne, Michael, and Shannon).

I never noticed how badly I needed some time off until after I got to Vegas and actually relaxed! It was so cool to be able to sit by the pool sipping a pina colada. Of course, attending the show cost next to nothing compared to the cost of everything else! Pina Coladas: $10 each. Large mocha in the am to get me kick started: $6.25 each (averaging at least two each morning). Average price of a steak: $36 (a la carte, of course). Tickets to Blue Man Group: $105 each with the Costco discount. Daily charge for internet access: $14.95 per day. Total spent: I don't want to know!

How many of you waited and said to yourself, "Heck, I'll hold off ordering since it's not going to ship for a week anyway"? I lied on the website, not knowing how bad the pile of waiting orders may have been, and would have rather have quoted a later shipping date and delivered early than the other way around. All orders placed have been shipped out today. Go me! For those of you who chose to wait, making it a little less of a nightmare to return to, I'll reward you for it. From now until Sunday night at midnight, I'm offering a FREE SHIPPING special. On any order of at least $20 placed before midnight CST, enter the code patience in the "redeem code" box upon checkout, and I'll ship anywhere in the world FIRST CLASS MAIL on my dime. The software has it's limitations, and will give you free shipping with the correct code regardless of the method you choose. NOTE: should you choose Priority Mail and use the coupon code, it's going to still get shipped First Class mail.

This isn't a very long time offer (I wasn't gone all that long either), so get your order of $20 or more placed before midnight CST on Sunday, July 26th!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What Goes On In Vegas...

Betcha thought I was up to something fishy, huh? Actually, I'm up to something good!

Cosmoprof is the largest industry trade show for the beauty, spa, and hair industries. It's all happening beginning this weekend in Las Vegas, and I'll be attending. It's a wonderful chance for me to source some potential new vendors, see what's up and coming that looks cool, and meet in "3D" some of the great bloggers I've yapped with on Twitter. OK, and to take a bit of a much needed vacation.

And you care about this, why? Most of you know I usually ship orders faster than the speed of light, even if it means a mad rush to the main distribution center of the post office. I don't want you ordering while I'm out of town, then wondering why you haven't received your usual shipping notification two hours later. All orders placed prior to 3:00pm PST on Friday (tomorrow) will be shipped on time. After that, orders will not be shipped until July 23rd.

I will have access to my email (who could go anywhere and survive without internet access these days?), and plan to respond to inquiries, but will not be able to retrieve any voicemail messages or ship any orders. And I might be a little slow on the email response time - I'll be checking my email at least twice a day, but will hopefully be laying by the pool with an umbrella drink or donating my hard earned money to the casinos the rest of the time.

So check your stuff now and if you're running low on something, order before tomorrow afternoon! Otherwise, see ya when I get back.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Good Habits: Brush Care 101

As many of you well know, I'm a self-proclaimed brush whore - and I know I'm not alone. How many of you have invested hundreds of dollars (if you're brave enough to total up what you've spent over the years) on brushes, but don't take proper care of them? Properly cared for, brushes can last forever. I remember the first time I washed one of my makeup brushes. It had never even occured to me that they should be washed regularly. The same brush was used for years with different products, different shades - you name it. When I washed it, it was absolutely gross! I think I had to wash it for close to half an hour before that sucker came clean.

I've been reading a lot of blogs lately that talk about washing makeup brushes. Rather than commenting all over the place, I thought I'd post my own two cents here. Caring for your makeup brushes isn't difficult, and isn't time consuming, providing you do it on a regular basis. Here's some quick and important tips:

  • If you change shadow, liner or blush colors daily, wash those brushes daily. You don't want to cross the colors over, or you'll end up with all new shades you didn't intend. I keep a jar of Parian Spirit on my bathroom counter. It's in a glass jar with a mesh screen near the bottom - use the brush, dip it in the jar and run across the mesh screen, and rinse. The color will sink to the bottom of the jar, below the screen. Hang them or lay them on their sides with hairs hanging over the edge of your sink to dry.

  • Foundation brushes, sponges, Beauty Blenders, powder brushes should be washed weekly. I set Sunday mornings aside for deep brush cleaning day. Every brush I've used that week (even the brushes already cleaned with Parian Spirit) get washed after I've put on my makeup on Sunday and hung out to dry.

If you suffer from acne or have any kind of open sores on your skin, wash those brushes daily to prevent cross contamination.

Dry your brushes by hanging them to dry (wrap a rubberband around the handle and hang from a towel hook), or cover your brush with our brush protectors and stand them hair side down in a cup. This will keep the water from getting into the ferrule of your brush, loosening the glue. If not, you'll end up with a brush in 2 pieces before you know it!

  • Save money - of all the brush cleaners, shampoos and soaps that I've tried, I find that the absolute best product is Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille Soap. It's inexpensive, readily found at chain drugstores, Target, health food stores, and of course, on my website. This product cleans so well, I use it to clean my equipment!

Fluffy brushes or those that aren't big and dense - such as shadow brushes, concealer brushes, and blush brushes dry pretty quickly - often in 30 min or less. By the time I'm done getting dressed, my brushes are dry and ready to go back into their cup. Dense ones will take longer - several hours isn't unusual. Expect even longer if your brushes are made of dense, synthetic hair. If you use synthetic brushes, pick a day of the week where you have plenty of time from washing to next use - or have 2 of those brushes so that you can use one while the other dries. I've had some synthetic brushes actually take over a day to dry.

Slightly off topic, but do you know which type of brush works best for which type of product? Natural hair brushes work best for loose powders - they trap and release the powders much easier and smoothly than synthetic. Liquid and/or cream based products should be used with synthetic hairs, which won't absorb the product, and allow it to sit on the edge of the hairs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

TotalBeauty Saga Continues

After over 12 hours of promising a response to his TotalBeauty blunder, Emrah finally posted a response on YouTube that is completely lacking. Interestingly, his video has comments disabled. Here's the video:

I've watched this video several times. First off, Mr. CEO has yet to apologize to beauty bloggers for being unprofessional, unedukatd uneducated, non-journalists. Kovacoglu states that Total Beauty was started to "democratize" the market, and that Sneak Peek provides this service. He tries to justify his position because he has spent the last 5 weeks talking to the "top beauty brands" across the country, who want to work with bloggers, but need help in reaching the correct bloggers.

Let's think about this for a second. What are some of the products members of Total Beauty have received recently? Q-Tips, Chapstick, Venus Razors, and L'Oreal products. All drugstore brands, all well-known, large conglomerations. Big business who thinks that the latest craze is blogging, and have decided (or are following their ad agencies recommendations) that they want to start tapping this "new" method of promotion/advertising, who don't have the "resources to really vet the thousands of bloggers out there." Hello? What's up with throw as much spaghetti against the wall and see if anything sticks approach?

Every blog has a personality behind it and there is no "one size fits all" approach. BionicBeauty focuses a lot on both drugstore steals and deals, as well as independent, smaller brands. BeautifulMakeupSearch is a QVC-aholic, in addition to writing about high-end brands such as La Mer (who's Creme de la Mer at $130/1oz jar doesn't sound like it would be a Sneak Peek item). I couldn't even begin to count the number of blogs that adore Sephora and MAC. At least when brands approach bloggers directly, they are targeting a match between their product and the blogger's readership: a potential win-win situation for both, and a reduction of wasted costs and product by sending to an inappropriate audience.

It is painfully obvious that the CEO of a blogging network has no idea whatsoever what blogging is about. Bloggers and their readers are like extended families with open lines of communication going both ways. Add to the mix the brands or PR agencies that deal directly with bloggers, and there is yet another layer of communication. Just by the mere fact that Emrah has closed his YouTube video to comments demonstrates this point. Yes, he does give an email address and telephone number on the video because he is "open and accessable." Another dumb move on his part. Would ya like to give the world your home address as well? I'm sure that in the hours since that video was posted, the number is surely no longer valid. I don't recommend that anyone try to call or to email - the very fact that his comments are disabled is enough to tell you he really doesn't want to hear from you. Hopefully, the man has realized by now that posting that information was blunder #3 - he's on a roll.

He threatens that the FTC will go after bloggers, insinuating that he is the buffer that will protect you. And this would happen how? Are Sneak Peek bloggers going to have to pay for that Chapstick, or will they get a boatload of it showing up one day, expecting them to try and review in 30 days or less like it currently works? Free is free is free. It doesn't matter if it comes from the brand directly, or from a buffoon - it's still free. Which means it will still fall under the FTC's watchful eye - assuming that legislation comes to pass. If it does, it isn't the worse thing to happen to bloggers. I'm willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that their readers don't really expect that they purchased everything they reviewed. A notation saying that some products have been supplied for review purposes isn't going to scare anyone off. On the flip side, I've seen many a blogger get nasty comments from readers when they publish "haul" posts about spending so much money on themselves in this economy.

So, Mr. Kovacoglu, you've asked for our solutions. Here's mine: stay out of it, and let bloggers and brands conduct themselves the way they see fit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blogger Product Review Uproar

The blogging world has been a focus of major controversy in the last couple of days. It began on Sunday, with an article published by the AP Newswire that the FTC plans to monitor blogs for claims and payments. The opinion held by the FTC is that "Many bloggers have accepted perks such as free laptops, trips to Europe, $500 gift cards or even thousands of dollars for a 200-word post. Bloggers vary in how they disclose such freebies, if they do so at all." They are considering regulating that bloggers must disclose whether they have received free products or compensation for their product review, and that they are misleading the average consumer by posting a review of a product without specifying that they did not have to pay for the product they are writing about. I've yet to meet a blogger who got the real nifty perks worth thousands of dollars; more like a handful of samples. One would think that the average person already knows that those display ads running on blogs are affiliate links, for which the blogger gets a few pennies if the reader clicks on them.

Since I'm in the beauty industry (oh, by the way, I don't purchase any of my products when I post about them here, but I think that's kind of obvious), I'd like to focus strictly on beauty blog reviews. I get a lot of customers from reviews of my products on other blogs; they are essential to my business. I am a small, independent company; I do not have thousands of dollars to spend on ad campaigns like the drugstore brands. Let me tell you a secret: a lot of people who blog about my products didn't pay for the samples they tried. I've had people purchase products from me and review them without my knowing that they were purchasing for that purpose, and I've done the opposite where I've sent free stuff out for bloggers to test. Do I do that to assure a good review? No, I do it so that they have something to try and perhaps write about. I've had glowing reviews and I've had lukewarm reviews. I've sent products to people and never been reviewed. Just because someone gets something for free doesn't equate to an automatic positive, gushing promotion for the products. But let me get to that part later in this post.

The fire was further fueled today by Emrah Kovacoglu, founder and CEO of Total Beauty Media. I woke up to find everyone I knew on Twitter up in arms about an article he wrote claiming that "Beauty Brands Should Not Be Working With Bloggers".

I am so frustrated with the self-serving, self promoting piece of (expletive deleted) that I'm having a hard time even writing this post. Let's begin with his arrogant view of bloggers (including his own members) who are less polished and cannot spell correctly, and shouldn't trade free products for integrity. Excuse me? People read blogs because they have personality and are not dry, boring newspapers. Carleen Pruess, author of Beauty and Fashion Tech is an attorney. Meredith Edwards-Cornwall, who writes Daily Dose of Coffee used to be a journalist. Guess what, guys? I have an MBA and can write with the best of them, should I so choose!

To add insult to injury, Emrah goes on to say that bloggers should not deal with beauty brands directly, they should do so with his "Sneek Peek" program. Guess what his bloggers got (free, by the way) as their last sneek peek?

A lifetime supply of Q-Tips!!! Do you really need to read a review on Q-Tips? Total Beauty's sneek peek program is composed of sponsored items that are primarily drugstore brands. I queried Total Beauty about this Sneek Peek program. Though they have not responded, I'm willing to bet that those items are not purchased by Total Beauty for their bloggers review; they are sponsored by the manufacturer who either pays for placement or provides the product in mass quantities for free - most likely both. According to this yahoo, "We can ensure a buffer between their blog and brands, so that they are not penalized by a negative review, if that is what they truly feel." Beauty bloggers are not 10 year olds who need to have their hands held. Nor do they live in fear of retribution for writing an unflattering review. Companies, large and small, know that their cannot be all things to all people. We understand this concept. If bloggers should only write about products obtained through a middleman like Kovacoglu, the review world would be severely narrowed down, in addition to being repetitive. It's bad enough as it is - there's no missing whenever MAC introduces a new limited edition something, as a dozen blogs will all be discussing it at the same time. Kovacoglu started out trying to talk ethics and standards, fell into his own trap and lost his credibility by pitching his own program.

OK, back to the "free part" stuff and the FTC.
This was a major topic of discussion when I was on the bloggers panel at The Makeup Show. I have an unusal perspective because I am more or less on both sides of the coin. Let's take this in steps, and tell me if it doesn't make sense. Bloggers with loyal readership blog frequently - usually at least several posts a week, and significant proportion update their blogs daily. If you don't update, you won't maintain readers because you've said nothing new in recent memory.

If you write about a different product everyday, and had to purchase all the products you blogged about, you'd only be able to do so if you were a) independently wealthy, or b) charged a membership fee to cover your costs. Most likely, it's a mix of the two - freebies and your latest haul from (insert store name/website here). I get requests for samples from bloggers on a daily basis. Do I send everyone stuff? Nope. Your prices would go up to cover the costs of sending goodies to everybody and their brother who claim to be a blogger.

Who gets stuff? First, I look at the posts made on the blog to determine if it's even the right audience. My customers tend to be umm... not teenagers (to put it nicely). Most of them are not into bold, bright colors. I'm also not the cheapest product around, so if I see that the blogger writes towards those demographics, I will thank them for their interest, and respectfully tell them that my products are most likely not a match for their readership. I look at how many followers the blog has, whether many of the posts have comments to indicate that people are reading and responding to the author, frequency of posts, etc. When I do send out products for review, most of it is sample sizes. Not knowing what they may or may not like, I'd rather send a little bit of a variety of products than a full size of one or two items. From a business standpoint, it increases the likelihood that there might be something that they really do like.

Does knowing that the reviewer may not have paid for some of product XYZ that they're gushing about change your view of the author? What if they're writing about a product that they got a free sample of at the cosmetic counter at Macy's? Do they have to disclose that too? You can only gain the trust of your readership if they feel that you are honest - not whether the product was free or not. I've seen many blogs that will post the pluses and minuses of the product they're reviewing. Others may not have many negative posts at all, with perhaps a sentence here or there that they wished (fill in the blank). It all depends on their writing style and the approach with which they are comfortable. Some are believers in the saying, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all". Those are the products that they still received for free, but didn't say a peep about it anywhere.

I'd love to hear your opinions and comments. It's taken me all day to sit still long enough to try to write this cohesively!

Here's a list (which will be updated as I find 'em) regarding both Total Beauty's fiasco (now coined TB-Gate) and the FTC issue:


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