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:

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Day at IMATS

After the fantastic time I had at The Makeup Show, I was really looking forward to attending this year's IMATS (International Makeup Artists Trade Show) show. It was quite a bit different than I had imagined it would be.

My first clue should probably have been the date of the 2 day long show: Father's Day weekend. Immediately, it became a one day show for me, even though I had a two day pass. Somehow, I didn't think my father-in-law nor my husband would understand me ditching their day for yet more makeup. Check the calendar: my daughter has a swim meet that morning. Bump this 2 day event down to a half day jaunt even before I can blink. The meet ends late, and now I've got just a couple of hours to whiz through the whole show, and have missed a bunch of people I was hoping to finally get to meet.

Since the swim meet ran late, I missed Eve Pearl's presentation. Sigh. I did catch her at the Naime's booth, and she's hysterical! That poor woman was doing mini-makeovers non-stop!

One of my mistakes in my expectations was that this was a makeup artist show. I attend these shows to gleam information, see what the trends will be, meet people I Twitter with in person, and to see what the buzz is about some of the more trendy brands. Makeup artist don't focus on everyday folk - they use all sorts of different stuff to make people look like you and I could only dream about. A lot of them are in the special effects side of things. Which makes for some cool photos:

As far as makeup that you and I would use, what did I see? The usual helacious line at the MUFE booth, the MAC Pro counter (that I couldn't buy anything at even if I saw something I wanted), several small companies selling trying to capitalize on the term "pigment" that MAC popularized - but were really no more than colored micas purchased in bulk and repacked into small jars - with no base powders to add adhesion, and a few brush companies that didn't have anything new I hadn't already seen.

But... all was not lost! I did get to catch a couple of other bloggers I wanted to meet, and didn't go home completely empty handed (oh yeah - another downside to arriving late: no swag bags left, boo hoo). I bought a crap-ton of Parian Spirit wipes. Although I wash my brushes religiously, these wipes are great for my stippler brush. I've got this thing about seeing dirty white tips, and washing duo-fiber brushes is always a challenge to keep the black dye from running from the goat hair part into the fiber optic part.
I bought more of those puppies than everyone else combined! My "big" haul. Oh well - Cosmoprof is next month :)

Friday, June 05, 2009

No Mr. UPS Man Means You Still Have Time To Save!

As I wait impatiently for Mr. UPS Man to show up with my ingredients for the Diamond Perfect Finish (which better come today!), that means you still have an opportunity to register for our newsletter to get your super secret discount code to save 20% on your purchase of our latest and greatest product!

I did have enough of the sample ingredients used to be able to at least fill a jar to photograph and weigh so that I can have a price! The Diamond Perfect Finish finishing powder once available, will be $17.50 for a 20 gram jar (net weight of 6 grams). I will not be sending out the newsletter with the discount code until I actually have something to sell. Everything is set and ready to go once Mr. UPS Man rings my doorbell.

I don't send out tons of newsletters (I've yet to do it even once), so you're not going to be spammed a whole bunch by us. But if you sign up for an account (or make sure that if you already have an account, you're subsribed to the newsletter), you'll be sent a coupon code to be able to purchase this great product for only $14.00. This introductory offer will be good for one week only, beginning whenever Mr. UPS Man blesses me.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Shhhh... Just Between You and Me (almost)

Woo Hoo! For those of you who follow me on Twitter, or read a couple of posts down about the review from Melissa Street of In My Professional Opinion, you know that I've been hintly lately about a new product coming in. Mostly, I've been referring to it as the "Super Secret Diamond Stuff" (yes, it has diamonds). Now it's finally got a real name: Diamond Perfect Finish. It should be here by the end of the week. You know, they don't say "diamonds are a girl's best friend" for nothing...

What is it? It's long and complicated as far as chemical structure, etc, but the bottom line is that it's composed of a microfine diamond powder and a man-made diamond copolymer. The Diamond Perfect Finish settles into your fine lines and pores, bending and reflecting light waves to drastically reduce their appearance. It can be used similar to silk powder: under your foundation, mixed with your foundation, or as a finishing powder. When wearing it, it gives off a certain "je ne sais pas". It's not a glow like dewey look, it's more of a subtle glow from within. If you're a Makeup Forever High Definition fan, then you'll love our Diamond Perfect Finish.

I'll be offering a special introductory discount for one week only, and only to those who subscribe to my newsletter. So if you haven't already subscribed, log in to your account (or create an account) here, and set your preferences to being subscribed to the newsletter. No worries, you won't get a bunch of spammy emails or tons of newsletters from me. As a matter of fact, the newsletter I send out with the discount coupon code will be my ummm.... first newsletter ever. In 2 years. So make sure you've signed up by Thursday, 'cuz that's when I'm expecting to send out the coupon code! I can't tell you the full price yet, because until it arrives, I don't know how much will fit in a jar. BUT... you'll be getting 20% off that mystery price of the Super Secret Diamond Stuff, lol!

So what are you waiting for? Scoot and go make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Want To Feel Really Good Inside?

You might remember a post I made at the beginning of May that the blog A Girl's Gotta Spa was hosting a "Mom Get Glamorous" sweepstakes for one lucky and deserving mom. That winner of nearly $2300 worth of girlie stuff was announced last Friday. Trina Davidson was absolutely shocked to hear that her husband had entered her in the contest, and more floored to find out she had won! Check out her tweets when the winner was announced:

That alone was enough to give me the warm fuzzies. Surprise someone, and surprise them with a crap ton of stuff. It can't help but make anyone who reads those tweets smile.

Of course, she immediately blogged about it on her blog, A Daily Blessing. Her excitement just oozes all over the place - read her blog post here, and see if it doesn't make you smile too - no matter what kind of day you had. Today, she received our Face & Foundation Kit in the mail.

Now imagine this: you've just won so much stuff you'll never know what to do with it all. Chances are pretty likely that you'll love some stuff, like some stuff, and giveaway other stuff. Where did we fall? Love, of course! (I say humbly, with my chest bursting with pride) Trina was so excited that she immediately made up her tweenage daughter with everything she received, and look at the difference it makes:

I highly recommend going over to Trina's blog and reading her enthusiasm! While you're there, keep the excitement alive for her by leaving her a congrats comment!


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