Posts Tagged ‘ingredients’

The Perfect Post-Holiday Nail Lacquer

Friday, July 5th, 2013

These days, prepping your nails for the 4th of July is more of an ordeal than prepping them for your own wedding – thanks to Pinterest posts, glitter stars and the oh-so-trendy firework nail wraps. However, the brutal pain I endured from scrubbing off my festive red, white and blue sparkles left me wanting a simple, summer shade to kick off the post-holiday weekend! SpaRitual has a gorgeous lacquer called I Am The Light which is just what I was looking for… and luckily I found it in this season of BeautyFix!

The bottle looked like a soft baby pink shade with a hint of blue undertones, but when it dried on my nails (in no time at all, might I add) the shade actually deepened to more of a lilac and lavender hue. It painted smooth in each controlled sweep as the patented Plum Cap™ has a non-slip grip to allow for the best mani/pedi possible. One coat wasn’t too transparent; however, I used two since I like my lacquer to be a little more obvious. I almost forgot to finish with a clear top coat due to the polish’s own shine and luster!

I always find myself doing some homework on a brand after deciding how much I really like one of its products, in hopes of falling in love with its mantra and more products from its collection. To my surprise, I learned that SpaRitual is actually a vegan-based brand with nail lacquer bottles made from Italian-crafted and recycled glass. Healthy and green? My attention had been caught! Free of synthetic dyes, parabens, toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor and DBP, (and probably other nasty ingredients I can’t pronounce) the entire SpaRitual line is the epitome of a top-grade beauty brand.

I’m sure I’ll be adding some more SpaRitual items to my cart sometime soon! Did you add SpaRitual’s Nail Lacquer to your summer BeautyFix bag?!

EMANI Cosmetics Made My Catalina Trip Amazing

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

It’s almost summer which means it’s time to plan mini getaways, warm trips, and long vacations! Personally, I spent my weekend on the gorgeous island of Catalina; Avalon to be exact. Of course, I did my homework ahead of time to determine what I needed to bring per weather restrictions, the verdict you ask? Sunny in the mid-70’s! Sounded like perfect sun bathing weather, however I remembered that Catalina weather is always iffy. A beautiful sunshine-filled afternoon can have a wind chill leaving me freezing cold!

I decided to bring my new eco-friendly EMANI cosmetics with me, not only because the colors are brilliantly tropical (and healthy – 100% vegan!), but also because they have breathable products which are designed to perform in all kinds of elements; extreme heat, humidity or cold temperatures. They seemed like a perfect fit for my Catalina getaway!

EMANI is a rare breed: 100% vegan, 100% gluten free, 100% American made, cruelty free, PETA certified and award winning, paraben/talc/mineral oil/etc. etc. FREE! These stats made me think the company must create great green products, however I questioned if they would provide good enough coverage or rich enough shades. They actually wear very light but provide deep coverage just like our favorite, expensive, luxury brands. I was shocked.

A few of my favorite products I used this weekend were the Crushed Blush in Cancun Heat, the Flawless Matte Foundation in Nude Beige, and the Mosaic Eye Shadow in Feeling Mischievous. I was really glad I brought my EMANI round-up because Saturday was gorgeous and hot (mid-80’s), but Sunday was sunny and freezing (the wind made it feel like low 60’s!). Regardless, my makeup looked flawless throughout. Aside from the high-performing pigmented shadows like the gorgeous Crushed Mineral Color Dust in Bamboo, the best item I brought was the Vegan Travel Brush Set. This set should actually be incorporated into my daily beauty regimen, not just for travel. Unbelievably soft, the brushes allow for an even and easy application for all kinds of product. They even have a top secret way of affixing each individual bristle to the wand to ensure they never leave stray hairs on your face!

Thanks EMANI for making my Catalina trip full of luminous color, coverage, and all around excitement!

Revitalizing My Mane with Moses

Friday, May 10th, 2013

There aren’t many skin care products I can try without causing some sort of flare up on my sensitive skin, so I have to rely on testing all sorts of new hair care products to get my beauty fix! (Pun intended!) I used to highlight my hair every other month or so, until one day when my stylist went on maternity leave and I was referred to someone new in the interim. To put it nicely, this salon newbie gave me a terrible, brassy, hair highlight disaster which forced me to give up on bleach all together. I stupidly stormed to the drugstore, purchased a box of black hair dye, and quickly turned my brown mane with brassy streaks into a blackish purple mop of darkness.

Even though my family hated the dark, drastic color – my hair has never felt as soft and strong as it did when it was black since I wasn’t constantly terrorizing it with harsh bleach! The black color lasted forever, but unfortunately I got sick of it after a few short seasons. Take it from me: there is no easy way to remove permanent black dye except to let it grow out naturally.

I started highlighting my hair again after a year or so to add some dimension and depth to my hair styles. Currently, my hair is in a good state of color that I am happy with – natural brown on top with an ombre style lightening up the bottom. The bad part about this ‘do is the constant detrimental process I keep putting my ends through again with the added bleach! The ends are the most damaged part of my hair already, and now I’m afraid I’m just willingly adding to the issue.

I am happy to report that my issue of damaged ends has subsided thanks to Moses’ line of salon quality hair care! I started using the BeautyFix samples of Moses Smoothing Elixir Shampoo and Hair Mask to try and get the shine and healthy feeling I once had with my black locks back to my new ombre. The shampoo surprised me when I read that Argan oil was one of the main ingredients because it didn’t weigh my hair down like normal products infused with oil. It really locked in the moisture my hair had been deprived of for so long!

Next step was the Moses Hair Mask. I was a little wary to try the mask because I anticipated it to leave my hair heavy and greasy like other ones I have used. Even though I have a lot of long hair, each strand is very thin which doesn’t allow the product to completely absorb. Usually I am left with a waxy feeling following a hair mask; however this product actually did the complete opposite! It relieved my hair of any added weight, maintained a very sheen look, and brought softness to my ends that have been missing for all my days of treacherous bleaching.

I am definitely going to add Moses’ Smoothing Elixir Conditioner into my new routine, as I am sure my already positive results with the shampoo and mask will just keep skyrocketing! Thanks, Moses!

Like 4 Products in 1: ARCONA Cranberry Gommage

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

There are a lot of products out there that claim to cover all bases: cleanse, protect, tone, define, etc. etc. etc. But in all honesty, is there really only ONE product that goes the whole 9 yards? Until recently – I didn’t think so. I always had 4 separate products: my favorite cleanser which was mild enough to use every morning and night, my best toner which completely clarified my skin, a weekly mask to exfoliate, and a moisturizer I couldn’t keep in the bottle to save my life.

Thanks to BeautyFix I was recently introduced to the luxury skin care brand ARCONA,  which is a personal favorite of Zoe Saldana, Emmy Rossum, Rachel Zoe, Julia Roberts and Anna Kendrick – just to name drop a tad. With a roster like that and Allure’s Best of Beauty Award seal of approval, I knew there had to be something special about ARCONA’s products so I decided to try the Cranberry Gommage. I kid you not when I say this single item has eliminated my need for the 4 aforementioned products in my beauty regimen. It has cleansing properties to smooth, purify, and tone skin. It has tough ingredients including salicylic acid and volcanic minerals (which are actually finely crushed to be 1/1,000th of an inch – the perfect, mild exfoliant!) to keep your skin free of bacteria. It has cranberry and raspberry enzymes which not only gives the product a pretty purple hue but also unclogs and shrinks pores. Last but not least, it has anti-aging antioxidants that kick free radicals and environmental damage to the curb.

The Gommage is for use on normal or oily skin, which is perfect for me since I tend to be on the oily side. I diluted the product with water for the first week of use because I didn’t want to overwhelm my problem skin with a heavy mixture, but I was surprised to see how well my skin handled the change. I only use it three times a week – but it’s perfect for the face, neck and décolleté! This product has left my skin softer, smoother, and healthier than it has ever been, so I will be sure to add my name to the list of important ARCONA ambassadors!

Have you received your own ARCONA Cranberry Gommage from BeautyFix yet?

A big hair day is never a bad hair day

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Dolly Parton’s was platinum, Nicki Minaj’s was a rainbow, Pam Anderson’s was bouncing on the beach and Snooki’s was wilder than an untamed gorilla… but what did they all have in common? Their big bouffant hair of course! Well, toss your teasing combs ladies because Nick Chavez is back in the upcoming season of BeautyFix to bring us all up to this ever-desired bombshell hair level (literally, sky scraper heights)!

After years and years of bleach, dye, heat, distress, snags, weathering, teasing, etc. my poor mane is lifeless, thin and boring. This is why I am ecstatic to hear that Hollywood hair stylist, Nick Chavez is bringing one of his best products in the Advanced Plump ‘N Thick Collection to BeautyFix. These Advanced Plump ‘N Thick products are the absolute answer to our dilemma of lifeless locks in desperate need of high performance products. There are three products in the collection, the Advanced Plump ‘N Thick Shampoo, Conditioner and Styling Mist. Let me tell you – after using them all, my strands have been as thick and voluminous as Carrie Bradshaw’s pony that basically swallows up the streets of NYC as a snack.

The Advanced Plump ‘N Thick Thickening Styling Mist is probably the most effective and efficient product in the collection, as it can be used on wet or dry hair. As long as you follow up with a little heat from the blow dryer, your hair is going to look extremely full and healthy – almost as if the past ten years of damage and thinning has been completely erased. The Mist is light and fresh so it doesn’t weigh your hair down making you compromise volume for thickness.  It is actually formulated with an ingredient called Ampli-filler which strengthens strands and plumps them up with collagen! (Kind of like the aforementioned female celebrities? Just kidding. Sort of.)

Get ready to swing your own Nick Chavez Advanced Plump ‘N Thick Thickening Styling Mist in your BeautyFix bag to achieve the thickness of Nicki’s coif or plumpness of Snooki’s pouf! I am pretty excited about it… can you tell? FIST PUMP! Or should I say PLUMP?!

Beautyfix Pick: SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

By now, I’m sure you ALL know the number-one rule for healthy skin that looks as young as possible: daily sunscreen. But did you know that regular use of a vitamin A derivative—assuming your skin is not super sensitive and can comfortably tolerate it—is not too far behind? Seldom are skin care ingredients proven time and time again to be effective at creating change and improvement, but vitamin A in all its anti-aging forms—retinol, Retin-A, etc—is. NOTHING not involving scalpels, needles or lasers that comes in a tube will actually reduce the look of the wrinkles you experience as you age quite like these wonder ingredients. Most dermatologists and estheticians will emphatically confirm this truth, too.


If you’ve never tried any kind of anti-aging product containing retinol, you are in luck, as this season’s Beautyfix kit features a travel-size version of SkinMedica’s Tri-Retinol Complex, which is, in my opinion, one of the best non-prescription retinoids out there. Used a couple times a week, ever other night, or even every night depending on how your skin handles it, this formulation speeds up cell regeneration, a vital process that slows with age. The result? Simply put, better skin. Commit to using this regularly and over time you will notice fewer wrinkles, fewer spots, an improvement in texture and an increase in firmness.

Did you receive SkinMedica Tri-Retinol Complex in your Beautyfix kit? What did you think about it?

In defense of parabens

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

By Ada Polla

Flickr.com 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.

ABOUT ADA POLLA:

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.