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. 

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