Monday, February 24, 2014

Rethinking Age-Old Beauty Products

If you took a peek into your grandmother's makeup drawer, you may have found products like the Coty Loose Face Powder, Avon Here's My Heart fragrance, Yardley false lashes, or Noxzema Skin Cream.  Many of these age-old beauty products still effectively keep women looking youthful, healthy, and fashionable today.  But we've come a long way in improving the efficacy of these products as well as in phasing out some of the harmful cosmetic ingredients that were used decades ago.  

Here are some healthy substitutes for some vintage cosmetics that remain classic beauty product staples for women today:

1.  Cold Cream is a rich, creamy emulsion composed of water, fatty acids, beeswax, and mineral oil.  Thus, it is ultra hydrating and smoothing.  There is currently quite a selection of cold cream derived products (creams, lip salves, cleansers, etc.) on the market. 

Out with the old...Pond's Cold Cream Cleanser
Although ancient empires like the Greek empire used early version of cold cream, it was made popular by Pond's.  Women in the early and mid-twentieth century used to apply it before they went to bed to cleanse skin (remove makeup and dirt) and provide deep hydration.  You could rinse if off to reveal instantly soft, smooth, and radiant skin or leave it on to seal in moisture.  The more modern version of this product is the Cold Cream Cleanser, which you typically do wash off immediately.  The problem with this product is that it contains a potentially harmful paraben as well as mineral oil. 

And in with the new Avene Cold Cream Ultra Rich Soap-Free Cleansing Bar ($9 on
Although I don't know of any liquid cold cream cleansers that are toxin-free, Avene makes a cold cream bar that does all that the Pond's product does...gently cleanses, soothes irritation, and traps in moisture for supple, soft skin.

2.  Talcum Powder is finely milled talc that is used to absorb moisture and reduce shine.

Out with the old...Johnson's Baby Powder Original
When we think of talcum powder, we think of Johnson's.  We used it as a baby and then used it on our own babies.  The two ingredients in this product are talc and fragrance.  I must say that I do like the smell of it, but it can be irritating to sensitive skin.  Also, there is growing research on the potential dangers of talc in beauty products.  Talc is a mineral used in powders to help the skin with absorption and to decrease caking.  Studies on animals have shown that frequent inhalation of talc can increase your risk of respiratory issues such as lung tumors.  Although limited research has been conducted on this claim, some scientists believe that talc can increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

And in with the new...Burt's Bees Baby Bee Dusting Powder ($6 in drugstores)
To play it safe, try Burt's Bees baby powder.  It has the absorbancy that regular baby powder has, but does the job using corn starch.  It's more natural than talc and just as effective for reducing shine, preventing heat rashes, absorbing dampness, etc.

3.  Creme to Powder Foundation is a creme compact foundation to allow for easy application and buildable coverage.  It transforms into a powder when it comes in contact with your skin for a light, airy feel.  

Out with the old...Max Factor Pan-Cake Makeup
Max Factor launched its famous Pan-Cake Makeup with the positioning that it was the foundation of Hollywood.  It actually lasted until only a few years ago, when it was discontinued.  The brand even featured the glamorous Judy Garland as the ambassador for the product.  Basically, Pan-Cake Makeup was a mixture of a pigmented powder and a dehydrated cream.  You simply had to put some water on the sponge and swirl it around in the pan to loosen and apply the makeup.  Afterwards, it dried as a powder that felt light on skin.  At the time, such a concept was really innovative and suitable for women, who wanted that gorgeous Judy Garland complexion without having to pile on heavy layers of foundation.  In addition to the fact that this product no longer exists, it also contained toxins like talc.

And in with the new...Benefit Some Kind-A Gorgeous ($30 at Sephora)
Benefit makes a creme to powder foundation (goes on like a creme foundation and feels like a powder on your skin), but without the talc.  It is also oil-free and settles to a natural finish.  And it certainly blends into skin better than the original Pan-Cake makeup did.    

4.  Petroleum Jelly is essentially mineral oil in a thick jelly form that can help heal and soothe skin.

Out with the old...Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly

Most of us probably have a tub of Vaseline, the creators of petroleum jelly, in our medicine cabinets as a go to quick-fix for everything from dry hands to cracked lips to diaper rashes.  The problem with petroleum jelly is, as I mentioned, that is indeed a quick-fix and doesn't necessarily fix the problems causing dry skin.  Rather than getting absorbed by the skin to soften skin from within, petrolatum and mineral oil sit on top of skin, creating a lubricating barrier.  Rubbing some Vaseline over your dry skin will temporarily fix the problem, but won't help heal or prevent dry skin in the long-term.

And in with the new...Alba Multipurpose Un-Petroleum Jelly ($6 at Whole Body)
Alba makes a play on petroleum jelly with their un-petroleum jelly.  It has the same jelly feeling that Vaseline has, and you can use it for all the same purposes.  Instead of using mineral oil, this product is formulated with beeswax and natural oils like coconut oil and castor seed oil to go beyond hydrating to nourishing skin as well.  Plus, these ingredients can penetrate skin (unlike mineral oil) and help heal dry skin from within so that it goes away for good! 

5.  Red Lipstick is a classic, lovely lip shade.  Before HD TV, old Hollywood actresses would wear it because it was bold enough to appear on camera.  Before Crest White Strips, women used to wear red lipstick because the brightness contrasted the color of their teeth, making them appear whiter.  It was the color of choice many of our grandmothers, and it still makes an elegant statement today.

Out with the old...Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow
One of the first major color cosmetics brands, Revlon, was founded in 1931 by Charles Revson.  The brand's core competency has always been lipsticks, and their famous shade is Cherries in the Snow, a deep/bright red.  It's a very iconic Liz Taylor, Hita Hayworth type of shade that is still a best-seller today.  However, the problem with many of Revlon's products including their Super Lustrous lipsticks is that they contain BHT

And in the with the new...BITE Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Zivoli ($24 at Sephora)
These lipsticks provide the same rich color, beautiful satin finish, and hydration that the Revlon lipsticks have.  However, the BITE Beauty lipsticks are natural and free of toxic ingredients.  They are even loaded with the powerful antioxidant, resveratrol (from grapes). With 25 shades to choose from, Zivoli seems to be the one that's most similar to Cherries in the Snow.

The truth is many of these products have survived the years because they still do the trick.  So, whether we like it our not, our makeup drawers probably look similar to those of our grandmothers and mothers....but hopefully with some new and improved products. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Triple Shine Birthday Party!!

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday!  So what better way to celebrate than with a mani party?  My absolute favorite new nail polish is Sally Hansen Triple Shine ($5 at drugstores), so it was a Triple Shine b-day mani party.  I'm all about the shine, and this stuff is definitely the shiniest, non-gel formula that I've encountered.  Since the formula isn't super thick, I was surprised that my mani lasted pretty much a week with minimal chipping.  The brush is also a nice feature.  It's similar to the Sally Hansen Insta Dri ($4 at Walmart) brush.  Although it's a little thick for the precise application necessary for French manicures, nail art, etc., it allows you to coat your entire nail in one or two strokes for a fast and easy application.  And you can't forget the packaging...isn't it just adorable?

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm obsessed with pink and wear pink nail polish pretty much all of the time.  I'm in love with the "Clam Up" shade because it's a really pretty light slightly iridescent pink color.  And of course to add some excitement, I like to do an accent nail with some glitter.  "Twinkled Pink" worked perfectly here.  Don't forget to top it off with the Triple Shine Top Coat ($5 at drugstores) for the full shine effect (and it helps prevents chips too).  

Also, I must say that we didn't have nail dryers, but the Salon Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Dry & Go Drops ($7 at drugstores) worked like a charm, and they're totally non-greasy like some of those dry and go sprays. 

So thanks to manicurists, Nancy and Heather from the Nail Candy Salon, we all had beautiful nails by the end of the event and were full with wine as well as yummy red velvet cupcakes and hors d'oeuvres from Ithaca Bakery.  Plus, I managed to convert my college apartment into a festive pink party environment.  Overall, I had such a great time, so thank you to all of my friends at Cornell who attended! 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get Glowing Skin Overnight

The night is a crucial time of repair for your skin.  While you are sleeping, your skin is fighting off signs of aging as well as environmental damage from pollutants and the sun.  During this process, cell turnover occurs, and your skin is regenerating the collagen-producing cells that are responsible for skin elasticity.

All of the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. that are in your serums and other face products can help with this process and make sure that your skin gets the most out of its beauty sleep.  Some more intensive treatments that often produce overnight results in terms of improving skin appearance are sleeping masks.  

In fact, masks are getting hotter and hotter in the beauty world with 66% growth in 2013.  Why?  Well, masks definitely offer immediate benefits.  You simply rub them into your skin before you sleep (generally once or twice per week) and wash them off in the morning.  While you are sleeping, the mask will work its magic!

There are different types of sleeping masks that are designed for various skin needs.  Check out these healthy products:

For intense hydration, apply the La Neige Water Sleeping Pack ($27 on
before you hit the sack.
Water sleeping masks are a common product in Korea that have made it over to the US.  Korean beauty brands including La Neige make such a product.  It's the perfect way to add a surge of moisture to your skin as you sleep, whether the winter weather is drying out your skin or you simply want to get a healthy glow.  The invigorating gel consistency is refreshing and non-greasy.  Key ingredients like ceramides, chesnut extract, beta glucan, and hunza apricot extract help purify skin, regenerate cells, prevent moisture loss, and improve skin's texture. 

To brighten overnight, slather some Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial ($48 at Sephora)
Want to wake up to more radiant skin?  The Korres Brightening mask can do the job!  Potent wild rose and vitamin C help fade dark spots, even skin tone, moisturize, and protect skin.  One night wearing this mask will give you that radiance that you get after receiving a facial.  Perfect for women of any age or skin type!  

Improve skin elasticity with the Dr. Jart+ Premium Firming Sleeping Mask ($48 at Sephora)
Using hyaluronic acid to help skin retain moisture, kava to boost collagen production and elasticity, and Korean medicinal herbs to purify and boost cell turnover, this masks creates a protective barrier that locks nutrients and moisture into your skin as you sleep.  So, you wake up with skin that feels supple, plump, and soft.

If you want to fight blemishes when you sleep, try the Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask ($42 at Sephora)
It's tough to find sleeping masks that target oily/acne-prone skin, but Dr. Dennis Gross makes one!  In addition to minimizing pores, this mask acts as a pore strip that draws out black heads, impurities, excess oil, and bacteria as you are sleeping.  Sulfur helps fight pimples, licorice reduces acne scares and inflammation, and bentonite mattifies.  And the mask does all of that without drying out skin.  If you have a big day ahead of you, apply this mask the night before to make sure that you don't wake up unpleasantly surprised with a fresh zit that morning.

Next time you have a big event...a party, appearance, holiday...slap on one of these sleeping treatments the night before so that you can put your best face forward ;)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helpful Beauty Apps

According to Forbes, 56% of Americans have smart phones.  That's a lot!  So many great apps have been developed to help us choose products more wisely, find the lowest prices, and simply become more informed shoppers.  Other apps are just plain fun to play around with.  Here are some innovative beauty apps - fun and practical - to check out:

Healthy Beauty

1.  Skin Deep by Environmental Working Group
The EWG is a lobbyist group that advocates safe cosmetics.  They have created this free app that allows you to search various beauty and personal care products and see how hazardous the ingredients are.  You can search a product by typing in the name or scanning a bar code.  The app provides an overall health rating and gives a rating for the specific health concerns: risk for cancer, allergy, and reprotoxicity/development.  It's definitely a helpful tool that allows you to understand how healthy a product is without understanding all of the ingredients completely.  Just make sure that the ingredient list on which the rating is based is up to date.  I've found that sometimes on their website, they use outdated ones that aren't always accurate.  

2.  Think Dirty
This free app is similar to the Skin Deep app in giving products a health hazard rating and allowing you to compare them across products.  It also allows you to scan a bar code to search a product and view a description of each individual product ingredient.  One nice benefit of this app is that it recommends "cleaner" product options than the one that you searched/scanned.  So, before you purchase a product at the store, take a second to check it out on this app.

3.  GoodGuide 
GoodGuide is another free app that provides health ratings for products.  Building off the concepts of Skin Deep and Think Dirty, Good Guide also allows you to search categories like food and pet products.  You can also sort by more specific filters that are important to you like whether or not a product is fragrance-free, environmentally friendly, or organic to get more customized, relevant product information and ratings.

4.  Cosmetic Ingredients Maze
For those of you, who are really interested in learning more about cosmetic ingredients and safety, this is the app for you.  Unlike the other apps, this one is not free (costs $3.99).  It is more comprehensive than the apps because you can filter by skin conditions (allergies, acne, etc.), effects on the body (endocrine system, immune system, etc.), and where the ingredients are derived from (animals, minerals, plants, synthetic, etc.).  As someone, who finds this information really interesting, I happen to like this app a lot, but it definitely may be a little dense for those, who are looking for a quick health rating to inform their decision whether or not to buy a certain product.

Fashionable Beauty

1.  Nicole by OPI
This free app allows you to try different shades of Nicole by OPI nail polish on a virtual hand.  You can sort by collection as well as color families.  You can also save your favorites so that you remember which polishes you liked.  It's tough to envision what a nail polish shade will look like outside of the bottle.  This app will help you save cash you spend on nail polish shades that don't turn out how you hoped.

2.  Modiface Makeup 
This is probably my favorite beauty app.  First, you upload a photo.  Then, the fun begins.  You can try on different lipsticks, blushes, foundations, hair styles, eyeshadows, mascaras, and eyeliners to see what they would look like on you.  With thousands of shades to choose from, you have unlimited combinations to try and see which ones work best.  Afterwards, you can save the list of products you like and share the products with others to get their opinions.  And the best parts are that the app is free and doesn't require an Internet connection (the colors are all stored in a database).

3.  The Color Genius by L'Oreal Paris
Merging the fashion of clothing with the fashion of your makeup, this free app launched in November.  It allows you to upload a picture of you in an outfit and match products including L'Oreal nail polish, lip color, and eyeshadow with it.  You can also choose to "match," "blend," or "clash" your outfit as well as save favorite looks, create a lookboard, and virtually try on the looks.  Even if you don't feel like buying all of those L'Oreal products to go with your outfit, it will give you general color guidelines like taupe eyeshadow or red lipstick that you may already have to complete your look.
4.  Celebrity Makeup Looks
With their handy personal makeup artists, celebs always seem to have the most gorgeous makeup looks.  Now, you can more easily replicate the looks.  Choose from 27 step-by-step tutorials on popular makeup looks from celebrities including Miley Cyrus, Angelina Jolie, Hayden Panettierre, and Beyonce.  Even if you have different features than these figures, the looks can definitely inspire looks for yourself.

5.  MatchMaker by L'Oreal True Match
It is really difficult to find your perfect foundation shade.  Often drugstore brands do not have testers so it's even harder to ensure that you're buying the right shade for yourself.  This free app helps you determine your undertone, make a perfect True Match foundation shade match, and find a location that carries that particular product.  Much easier than trying on a bunch of shades or trying to match pantones to your skin color at the store.

In addition to these cool apps, most beauty brands have some type of mobile app that allows you to conveniently shop for their products and find stores locations near you.  Direct sales companies like Avon and Mary Kay have developed apps that allow for convenient communication with sales representatives.  I personally love the Sephora to Go app, which allows you to navigate all the parts of their website and order products really easily.  It also shows you their mobile offers, which I always appreciate :)

Do you have a favorite beauty app?