Posts Tagged ‘cosmetics’

In defense of parabens

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

By Ada Polla user c.a. muller

It seems one of my missions in the beauty industry has become to defend parabens and set the record straight. Perhaps it is because I unapologetically use them in my skin care products Alchimie Forever. Perhaps it is because I enjoy reading the scientific data on the topic. Or perhaps it is because I don’t mind taking the politically incorrect and unpopular view on the topic, as paraben free is a popular buzz word and trend in cosmetics today. In any case, I have written a number of scientific papers on parabens, and am writing my first blog post about it exclusively for Beautyfix.

Parabens are the preservatives most commonly used in cosmetics, foods, and drugs. These molecules are used in over 22,000 cosmetics as preservatives in concentrations up to 0.8% (mixtures of parabens) or up to 0.4% (single paraben). The group includes Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, and Benzylparaben. Parabens have been the subject of numerous studies that have established not only their broad spectrum of action against numerous micro-organisms, but also their efficacy, stability, and their lack of side effects.

In the late 1990s, several studies suggested that parabens had an oestrogenic activity. Then, in 2004, English researchers detected traces of parabens in breast tumour tissue samples. The media seized the subject and widely diffused the news: parabens used in cosmetics, most notably in deodorants, could cause breast cancer. Hence the paraben controversy began. As a result, numerous cosmetic companies have altered their product formulae, replacing parabens with alternate preservative systems. Parabens were the ingredient that began the trend of fear marketing in beauty products, or “free of” marketing.

Let’s look at the facts and set the record straight:

1. As stated above, the paraben controversy and the idea they cause breast cancer rests on one single medical study that was published in 2004. The methodology of that study, however, was flawed: parabens were indeed detected in cancerous breast tissue samples; however parabens were also detected in the control group (organic matter with no trace of cancer). As there were parabens in both the cancer tissue and the control, it is not accurate to conclude that parabens cause breast cancer. The American Cancer Society claims that the “studies have not shown any direct link between parabens and any health problems, including breast cancer.”

2. There has been no further published study in the 5 years since that initial study confirming parabens’ role in breast cancer.

3. Parabens are approved by all of the cosmetic regulatory bodies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is not the case, for example, with hydroquinone, which is banned by the European equivalent of FDA.

4. Parabens have an extremely low skin sensitivity factor, meaning that very few people are allergic or have skin irritation to parabens. This is not the case with some of the paraben alternatives, including essential oils, which are very sensitizing and appear on the European list of top allergens.

5. Finally parabens have the broadest spectrum of action on bacteria, yeast, and mold, meaning they are effective on almost all. This again is not the case of paraben alternatives, whether natural or synthetic.

Of course from a commercial perspective, manufacturers may wish to replace parabens because consumers are demanding products without parabens (even if for the wrong reasons). Products without parabens enable manufacturers to avoid consumer questions and avoid having to set the record straight. But commercial decisions should not be made under the false pretense of making products safer when parabens are safe to begin with.

Furthermore, when removing parabens from products it is important to consider what we are replacing parabens with. Indeed, I believe we can all agree that preservatives and anti-bacterial agents play an important role in cosmetics. After all, who wants bacteria in their creams?

Finally, I urge the industry to reconsider the “free of” marketing craze we seem to have embarked on in the last few years. “Paraben-free” claims naturally although inaccurately lead consumers to believe that parabens are “bad.” Same with all of the other “free of” claims we see today.


Ada Polla of Alchimie Forever

Ada is the co-creator of skin care brand Alchimie Forever, and a member of the Beautyfix Panel. An expert in cosmetics development, Ada contributes to numerous magazines, and is a frequent guest speaker at leading universities and beauty industry conferences.

Picking the Perfect Foundation for your Skin Type

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Picking the perfect foundation can be rough, especially if you’re an internet shopper like I am. Luckily, there are ways to get around this difficulty, by getting to know your brands and your skin. Once you get the basics down, foundation can be the staple of your beauty routine and work wonders for your look.

When picking out a foundation there are a few things you should consider before making a choice. Your skin tone and skin type play a huge role in the selection process. Choosing a foundation that’s not suited for your skin type can cause difficulty applying, skin irritation and bad performance from the product. Not only will it feel wrong but it won’t mesh well with your skin causing it to look unnatural.

Here’s what you should consider:

  • Skin tone
  • Skin type
    • Normal
    • Oily
    • Combination
    • Sensitive
    • Dry
    • Proper formula of foundation
      • Liquid
      • Cream
      • Pressed powder
      • Mineral
      • Tinted moisturizer

Celebrity makeup and Beautyfix panelist Shiyena gave us some of her professional insight to finding the right foundation.

First, figure out if you have pink undertones or olive undertones in your skin. If you use darker shades, check to see if you have red, blue or yellow undertones.

Second, when choosing your foundation, check to see if the foundation you chose has your undertones in them.

Third, test the foundation color on both your  neck/chest area as well as your cheek/jaw line area. If possible, step outside to get the most natural light. It’s hard to see in departments store lights and it may give you false impressions of the foundation color. The right foundation should literally blend right into your skin. If you can see the streaks of color, you have the wrong color on. Try another color.

If a certain brand is not working and you can’t seem to get the right color, try another brand. Just remember, the right foundation should blend right into your skin. It’s about evening out your skin to make it look flawless, not masking it! If you have great skin but a have just a few blemishes, you could even just spot conceal and skip the foundation overall. Less is definitely more!


Flickr user: Eire Sarah

The right formula can be hard to find, but the best way to find what you like is by testing out a few samples after choosing the category that is recommended.

Liquid foundation can be used for all skin types and is especially great for dry or mature skin. Usually, liquid foundations have light to medium coverage and come in many different finishes for the type of look you want to go for.(matte, satin, dewy) Liquid is great for smoothing out any discoloration, flaws or unevenness. Liquid foundation is also moisturizing, and can be applied with a foundation brush, sponge or fingers. I swear by Smashbox High Definition Healthy FX Foundation and MAKE UP FOR EVER’S HD Foundation. These feel like you’re wearing nothing at all after applying and silk when you put it on.

Cream foundation is generally used for heavier coverage and has a heavier consistency. This is great for covering discolorations, uneven texture and imperfections. This has medium to full coverage and can be applied with a sponge, foundation brush or your fingers and is best suited for normal, combination or dry skin.

Pressed powder is what I like to call a wonder product. It can be used for coverage, quick fixes or take the place of a liquid foundation. It evens out your skin tone and soaks up excess oil. A pressed powder foundation is ideal for someone with oily skin and gives light to medium matte coverage.

There’s been a huge hype recently about mineral makeup and I can say that I’m very much a fan of it, especially mineral foundation. Mineral foundation is light, moisturizing and absorbing. It’s perfectly suited for people with sensitive skin and offers light to medium coverage depending on the brand. Mineral foundation can be applied sparingly, or used more heavily for better coverage with a powder brush or kabuki brush.

Tinted Moisturizer is good for dry to normal skin and can be worn to protect and add a little glow to your skin without caking it on. Tinted moisturizer adds hydration to dry skin while lightly evening out your skin tone. My favorite tinted moisturizer is dermalogica’s Sheer Tint Moisture SPF 15. It provides coverage and SPF protection without feeling heavy on my skin.

If you’re buying online and aren’t sure about a couple products, user reviews and looking at product info can be a huge help. If you’re a beauty junkie and recognize ingredients, taking a look at the ingredient list is helpful too. Remember makeup should be fun and part of a luxury. Take your time in applying and enjoy the benefits of creating a smooth complexion.

Colored Mascara: Fun Fad or Fashion Don’t?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

By Liz W

Colored mascara user dreamglow

The other day my friend was shocked as she opened her brand new mascara and it was the wrong color. But it wasn’t just brown instead of black, it was electric blue! Colored mascara has gotten little pops of attention over the recent years, but they seem to be lighting up the run ways and red carpets more and more these days. There are many ways you can go with colored mascara, ranging from an eye color enhancing hint of pigment to straight day glow lashes. This trend is definitely one that needs to be followed carefully, as there is a very fine line between looking foxy and looking freaky.

If you are thinking of trying a mascara that enhances your eye color, there are a few out there that look black at first glance, but when they are hit by sunlight, you can see the hint of purple, green, or blue. They claim to make your natural eye color more vibrant using a contrasting color to your iris.

For green eyes, purple is a good choice to make eyes pop, as it has a red base, which is green’s complementary color. If you have blue eyes, a mascara with a hint of gold or amber will turn your eyes from dull to dazzling, as yellow is the opposite of blue. If your eyes are brown, then you are in luck, because you can get away with any color, (besides maybe white or bright yellow) but those colors don’t really go with any complexion.

One trick makeup artists use is to apply a coat of regular black or brown mascara, and then add a color to only the tips of your lashes. This way, your eyes are still well defined, and the look is not as severe.

If you are feeling daring and want to try some florescent hues, then just make sure you do it with a purpose. Colored mascara with no other makeup, stringy hair and a sweat shirt is never a good look. People will think you just stepped out of the loony bin. Instead, dress up and wear it to a party, where crazy makeup is expected, like Rhianna. In my opinion, the eye color that looks really fantastic in bright blue or green is brown eyes, like these beautiful brown eyes, and all other eye colors look best in purple.

After deciding to take the plunge, it’s time to decide on one of the many brands out there offering multi-hued mascaras. This best mascara blog has reviewed some of the most popular, expensive, and affordable, so you can narrow down your options before you hit the stores.

Holiday beauty tips: Keeping your makeup fresh for the holiday parties

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Oh ‘tis the season to celebrate and yes you have to look good and put your best foot forward (gotta impress that boss you know). Looking fresh and keeping your makeup updated for the holidays can be sometimes a little tough to keep up with. Holiday beauty can be trendy or classic, but either way you may end up eating, drinking and staying out until the wee hours of the morning. How can we keep your makeup fresh you ask? There are a few simple holiday beauty tricks and tips to keep your look beautiful all night long.

Use a lip stain to keep your lips plump and perfect. Benefit has a solid stain for your lips and cheeks, called Benetint and comes in a seductive rose or poppy pink. You can have a drink and not worry about anything on the glass and it’s totally kiss-proof. This rosey jar of liquid gives you a perfect flushed color to accompany you through the parties without any worry of fading or fumbling. Not only is it a good lip stain but you can use it on your cheeks too. Feel free to find one that suits you the best Urban Decay’s Lip Envy is another good one to use.

Lip Stain

Flickr user: Vincent Boiteau

I’m a firm believer of Skindinavia’s makeup finishing spray and have fallen in love with their No More Shine Makeup Finishing spray. This spray gives a matte finish to your look, helps control shine and excess oil (for when you overheat a little bit), helps reduce the appearance of smudging, creasing and makeup slippage and also saves up to 50% of makeup usage. No re-applying! I can’t leave the house without putting on these sprays and not to forget about the rest of the finishing sprays they have to offer for any event or occasion. Not having to check my makeup constantly is a win-win situation.

For your eyes, you can use liquid eyeliner or a cream eyeliner that’ll stay for hours and hours. It’s very easy to apply a classic cat-eye look or just line the basics. Paired with the finishing spray you’re good to go through the night and you don’t ever have to worry about re-applying or touch ups.

There you have it, some eyes, lips and face tips that’ll get stuck on you for the duration of the party. Just don’t indulge too much you’ll still have to carry yourself like the classy lady you are.

How to Use Makeup Brushes

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

By Liz W
I will never forget my first makeup brush set I received Christmas morning when I was 15. I was thrilled beyond words that I had a full set of brushes and could finally attempt to look like my idols at the department store cosmetic counters. Having all the right tools made applying makeup flawlessly easy as pie. The one thing that would have made my complete makeup brush set actually complete is an instruction manual on how to use makeup brushes, but I have yet to come across a good one. To ensure your marvelous brushes all get equal love and attention, I am going to address some of the stranger looking specimens that may come in your set, so they don’t just sit there collecting dust.

makeup brushes

One that usually perplexes the non-makeup guru is the fan brush. It might look strange but it can be really useful for a few tasks. Because of the sparseness (and almost airy quality) of the bristles, fan brushes are great for applying a light application of shimmer, bronzer, or blush to the cheek bones. It’s also an awesome brush for sweeping away extra shadow that falls beneath the eyes, avoiding those horrible streaks that your fingers will leave.

Another brush that isn’t as foreign to most people, but is one of the most important brushes to own is the crease brush. This is a round fluffy brush with a slightly pointed tip that is used to get that expertly blended crease just perfect. Apply shadow to the tip of the brush, place the tip of the brush in your crease and move the brush back and forth in your crease like a windshield wiper. This motion assures an even application and gives you complete control for a sheer or dramatic look.

The last brush that has majorly increased in popularity is the kabuki brush which can be pretty puzzling to those who are not mineral foundation wearers. Kabuki brushes tend to be very dense, making them a great tool for applying mineral foundations and other powders to the face. Just dip it in your favorite product and buff those flaws away using a swirling method. The denser the bristles on the brush, the more coverage you’ll get. Kabuki brushes are also fantastic for applying bronzer.

If you are truly a makeup newbie, it is best to have one of those divine makeup counter goddesses show you how to use your brushes, but if you are just curious about those funny looking ones in your kit, then this should set you on your way to a perfectly polished face.

Find Your Fragrance: A Guide to Picking the Perfect Perfume

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

By Jenna

Ah perfume, the chemistry of a scent and a body can make you smell good, feel good and attract others, which makes it very important to us. What would we do without it? For some and most, purchasing a perfume for a loved one or friend can be difficult yet pleasing. The holiday season consists of tons of shopping and it happens online, department stores, beauty stores etc. As much as we want to save time doing our shopping sometimes we’re missing out on some vital aspects of actual experiencing what we should. It’s also good to understand what makes a fragrance a fragrance. There are more than thousands of scents to choose from and it can be very overwhelming, so here’s a perfume guide to help when choosing the perfect perfume for you or for someone else.

Source: flicker user *Katch*

Source: flicker user *Katch*

Smell around: Trying different fragrances can be fun and it can be a headache (literally). The best thing to do is use the tester sticks if you can and find one that smells appealing to you. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, then you can start to actually try it on yourself. Use your wrist or arm and give the fragrance time to settle on your skin. This is the most important part, because the fragrance notes in it will react to your natural body chemicals and give off a different smell than your initial test. The first time you smell a perfume, you’re smelling the top notes, which wears off the quickest and usually when it reacts to your body chemistry. (I’m sure everyone has experienced buying a scent that you loved then when you actually wore it around, you hated it.) Sometimes scents will smell good on you and sometimes they work out best on others. When the top notes dissipate, then you start smelling the middle notes which is the main body of the perfume or the “heart”. About 30 minutes after applying your fragrance you’ll start to smell the deeper notes which are the base notes. These scents are usually much more rich and potent and are masked by the top and middle notes.

When you love a fragrance, take a look at what it’s comprised of to get a better knowledge of what scents work best on you. There are different families that classify the fragrance. For example, a fragrance that works great on me is Aquolina’s Pink Sugar which is an oriental fragrance notes are: bergamot, Sicilian orange, raspberry, fig leaves, lily of the valley, licorice, strawberry, red fruit, cotton candy, vanilla, caramel, musk, wood, and powder. Once you know what you like you can look into bottles that have the notes in it, as most venders have a directory of notes for each fragrance. There are also different classifications based on percentages of actual perfume oil in the fragrance versus how much alcohol/water content present.  Eau de parfum, eau de toilette, cologne, extrait de parfum, and straight perfume oil. My fave is Apothia’s Velvet Rope Roll on Oil.

Online shopping:  When you’re shopping online, having note knowledge takes a challenging situation and makes it much easier, especially when you have websites that lists a note guide and info about it. Use your best judgment and trust the info on the fragrance. If it’s for someone in particular, get to know their taste of smell and even what they are currently wearing. Most importantly, have fun!

When you’re choosing a perfume stick to what you know and what you like. Always go with your basic intuition and make sure that you’re happy with it. You’re the one going to be smelling it all day, keep that in mind, and don’t be afraid to follow your nose.

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

It’s almost that time again, and being the pretentious shopper I am, even I’m in need of a holiday gift giving guide.  It creeps up on us every year, and before you know it, the holiday season is gone.  Not everyone is so easy to buy for and it’s hard with a busy schedule to actually come up with something mind-blowing as a gift. Fear not Beautyfix readers, I’ve scoured the planet for these amazing gift ideas just to make life easier on you. Not to mention, these hot items can also help you with your wish list from Santa. :)

Holiday gift

Flickr user: WTL Photos

For your girlfriends – Tarte cosmetics not only has cute and amazing beauty products but they are also: petro chemical free, paraben free, phthalate free, gluten free, glycol free, GMO free, preservative free, and talc free, which I know your girlfriends will appreciate. Tarte’s Crown Jewels lip gloss multi gift set can be given as a deluxe gift or broken apart and used as 3 gifts, which just so happens to be easy and perfect for your circle of friends. Or you can always give 2 away and keep one for yourself like the diva you are.

For the Techie – Barnes and Noble has just come out with an amazing eBook called nook. This caught attention because so far it has everything to offer. Barnes and Noble offers over 1 million titles from eMagazines to best-selling titles.  You can store up to 1,500 books, eNewspapers, and eMagazines and with adding a micro SD card, you can expand your library to music, pictures and PDF files. All of this is included (love the touch screen), plus you can change the font size to read more clearly.

beauty bagFor the Traveler – I’m so in love with Give Accessories especially their travel items because of their convenience and how unbelievable stylish they are.  Every girl always has room for a multifunctional item and this elegant cosmetic bag is a dream. This luxurious cosmetic bag is detailed with gorgeous cabochons, and can also double as an evening clutch for a night out. Another plus, it’s on sale! I’ll take the plum please!

Makeup brushesAnother great gift idea for a traveling queen is Global Goddess’s Jet Setter Mini Tool Case. This little brush case is the perfect item for someone on the go and in need of a convenient set of pro-level brushes to accompany her cosmetics. These brushes are nestled in a beautiful sari-material case and keep the brushes clean and safe during travel. This fabulous beauty set comes in pink and yellow.

Decleor Shave SerumFor the guy in your life – Chances are that in these upcoming months, whatever man in your life whether it be your boyfriend, brother, father, friend, husband, etc, he’s probably trying to look his best during this time of year. Let’s face it and give them some slack ladies, shaving is tough and hard on their skin. Thankfully we can help resolve this problem by giving them the gift of easier shaving and good wishes. Decleor’s  Aromessence Triple Action Shave Protector Serum is a 100% natural, preservative free treatment serum that will help prepare and protect his skin from shaving, and help to inhibit hair growth. Its sleek design is appealing, and it has hydrating and softening benefits to help the razor glide better while clove essential oil helps slow hair re-growth for a longer lasting shave. We can all be nice to the guys in our lives and give the best gift of all: non-irritation.

No need to be stressed this holiday season, luckily the internet and guides like these are here to help holiday shopping.  Remember, the holidays are for family time, giving, thanks and celebration and every minute no matter where you are should be enjoyed. Look at it this way, if you can’t find the perfect gift for someone, there’s always a gift card that settles everything.  ‘Tis the season to be jolly.

What holiday gift ideas do you have?