Saturday, October 23, 2010

Product Review; "EOS Sphere Lip Balm"


I used to like to eat Chapstick. No seriously. I'd roll the cherry flavored tube up and lick it off. Subconsciously, I'm sure I just wanted a sweet snack and didn't really care for candy. Or couldn't afford it.

How did I afford Chapstick?

Anyway, that's not such a good idea. Most lip balms are packed full of emollients like Petrolatum, Carnauba Wax, Mineral Oil or other things you really shouldn't put IN your mouth. ON it is fine, but, other than being kind of weird, ingesting the stuff isn't really so wise. It's been done, but still.

Very often, brands will market themselves as being "natural" or "organic" but there really is no clear definition of these terms under the law. And many times those brands will use imagery of leaves, clouds and a wind-blown model to invoke their "natural" features, but are clearly deceptive when the ingredients listing includes items that are too hard to pronounce, let alone be found in nature. But, who can resist clever packaging, really?

EOS Products boast themselves as;

"created to be pretty remarkable...and remarkably pretty".

But low and behold, there on the label reads the adage;

"100% natural, 95% organic"

Can you feel me rolling my eyes? Here we have another brand using the same marketing to incur sales by using vernacular that doesn't even need to be substantiated. So, being the cosmetic-pessimist I am, I turn the product over and look over the ingredients listing- Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Beeswax, Jojoba Seed Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil... No sign of Petrolatum. Period.

And they have them displayed on the candy rack! Was that a hint?

Made from the majority of good kinds of waxes, this balm comes in a small round tub the size of a golf ball and fits easily into your palm. When opened, it has a surprisingly, perfectly, rounded tip that glides onto both lips in one full swipe leaving no melted or squishy texture behind. The formula feels very stiff in the tub but soft and sweet on the lips. They come in 5 distinct flavors but my favorite is "Summer Fruit"; a blend that invokes Hawaiian Punch without the synthetic aftertaste.

The container is pretty unique as well. The small ball type style has a snap enclosure that completely locks the cap on so there's no fear of it opening in your pocket. And there's a small flat surface making the twist off motion that much easier when fumbling for a quick lip-fix.

Staying power is pretty long as well. My lips are staying super hydrated without any greasy sensation. And I find myself not needing to reapply more than a few hours apart. But I think that's because I just like licking my lips so much. Must be time for a snack.


EOS Sphere Lip Balm; $3.99



Saturday, October 16, 2010

Product Review; "FACE Stockholm Mineral Foundation SPF 15"



An "Anglophile" is someone who greatly admires those from England and all things English. Is there such a thing as a "Swedo-phile"?

Cosmetics company FACE Stockholm has carved a niche for itself among very specific clientele who can't seem to get enough of this Swedish line. It's almost as if once you're into it, you can't quite seem to let go. Although many a makeup artist will sing it's praises they also tend to include the retort; "but I can never find it!".

Established in the 1980's, owners Gun Nowak and Martina Arfwidson made sure to maintain controlling interest in the brand; marketing it to select locations around the world including metropolitans like Dubai, New York City and, of course, Stockholm. But you won't find it Starbucks-style on every street corner. Instead, they've managed to maintain the integrity and quality of the brand by limiting locations and operating them according to their personal specifications. The products offered in the line of skincare, color products and essential tools reflect that kind of attention to detail including it's minimal exposure.

Like a trade secret, FACE Stockholm brings us it's latest release, Mineral Foundation Powder SPF 15. Like other mineral-based foundation powders, this product comes in a flip-top compact for easy portability and storage but where it really stands out is the formula.

Boasting most mineral elements like Mica, Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide this versatile foundation powder uses emollients like Aluminum Hydroxide and the benefits of Retinyl Palmitate. Essential oils are used as a binding agent keeping the product pressed firmly but is still released easily with the swipe of a powder brush.

I have an affinity towards mineral foundations and for the longest time would reach for another brand but found it a bit dry at times. When given the opportunity to play with even another brand I was a little perturbed by the packaging which seemed excessive even though there wasn't much product actually in it. And FACE does make another mineral foundation but it comes in loose form and I tend to be on the clumsy side and don't trust them in my kit. I much prefer the convenience of a pressed mineral foundation as they make travel particularly easy.

If you are ever in Sweden you'll notice a rather largely fair skinned population. But the color options for this product are varied between very light and medium dark and are excellent even for just a bit of touch up or in conjunction with other coverage products for almost any skin tone. Of course, I do keep other color options in my kit for those who have deeper complexions but usually find myself wanting to reach for this formula specifically. Almost subconsciously even. Like I really REALLY want this product even if it's not the right color.

Maybe I should contact the dictionary people? Starting to think "Swedo-phile" should be a word.



FACE Stockholm Mineral Powder Foundation SPF 15; $38

Product Review; "Revlon Contour Shadow Brush"



I have anywhere from 3 to 12 of each style of brush I own and , believe me, that can get a little expensive. Call it greed? Call it compulsive shopping? Call it a fetish?

Nope, just call it clean.

If you have ever been backstage at New York Fashion Week you know the kind of chaos that is customary when trying to attend to multiple models in a limited amount of time. I've heard that "success comes when preparation meets opportunity" and I don't think that includes a bad case of "pink-eye". So prepared I shall be!

I know it sounds gross (because it is) but backstage you will see many a makeup artist using the same brush time and time again on model after model after model with no regard for even wiping down the bristles in between uses.

See, told you it was gross.

But not me, NO SIR! I am always sure to switch out tools in between uses to insure that there is no sharing of bacteria what so ever. And I know a few models who agree with me. Seeing as how I've got a little following of girls circling me as I finish each look.

I have always relied on a good fluff brush for buffing out edges and sweeping on highlights and, generally, I reach for one of two; either the 224 or the #27. Both are excellent with large round fluffy bristles but tend to flare out a little too much when I want to be a bit more specific.

Enter Revlon Contour Shadow Brush with it's soft, fluffy yet rounded smooth tip for blending smaller, more intricate areas around the eye. It's only slightly tapered at the edges but the more intriguing quality is that it's bristles are long enough to get into the crease of the eye, but short enough to maintain some more control over product application. The handle is light-weight and moderately tapered toward the end so it sits pretty comfortable in your grip. On top of that, the bristles are made of natural hair like my other favorites so they come clean easily in a little brush cleaner or shampoo with water.

Unlike my other favorites, buying a few of these won't break the bank. For $6.99 at my local Duane Reade I can afford to load up on these great fluff brushes. I'll certainly be keeping a good stock of them backstage that's for sure!

It's the cheapest way to stay clean.



Revlon Countour Shadow Brush; $6.99

Product Review; "Milani Crystal Eyez Sparkling Eye Shadow"



Billboards and advertisements in large scale publications with gorgeous supermodels looking immaculately groomed inspires the kind of envy in a consumer that will make them open their wallets and pay just about anything to be part of the dream. Then comes the realization; "Uhmmm... I'm hungry."

What to do when you realize you've spent the grocery money on the most lavish cosmetics? Well, now you know how models stay so thin.

In response to this dilemma, Milani Cosmetics prides itself on offering luxury quality makeup at prices anyone can afford. For only $6.99 you too can own glittering, shimmering, colorful eyes to invoke a little envy yourself.

While stalking the aisles at my local CVS Pharmacy, I came across these fun little tubes of glitter creme with the intention of passing them by thinking they were just another form of gloss with a tacky texture I'd have a hard time removing. So I gave them no other thought and went back to looking for cotton swabs.

After walking back and forth for a bit I ended up asking a store clerk where he was hiding the Q-Tips as there were none on the display, and he gladly let me know that they were in the middle of restocking and would grab a box for me once the hand truck came out. So I stood there for a bit milling around waiting patiently... noticing those same fancy tubes of glitter dancing in the fluorescent light directly above... teasing me... tantalizing me.

I MUST HAVE THEM!!!

By the time the clerk came back I now had my hands full of Crystal Eyez Eyeshadow in 6 gorgeous shades.

"Do you need a basket?", he asked.

Obviously.

At the checkout counter I was a bit shocked to realize that I hadn't even spent $50. Not too bad when you consider an equivalent product will run you about $20 for just one. And that doesn't even include the mixing medium, which is the most important part of the formula to get the product to stay well.

In Milani's case the solution the refined glitter resides in is water based with a bit of a gel-like texture that is non-irritating and has no tendency to crease or budge once it dries down. Definitely not "tacky" at all. I even went as far as to layer it over other eye-shadows just to test it's staying power and was pleased to find that, not only did it last, the colors showed even truer, reflected even more sparkle, and held without drying out. Adding to that, there was really no tremendous density to the product and it remained pretty light-weight. And I've still got some cash left!

That reminds me; I'm hungry.



Milani Crystal Eyez Sparkling Eye Shadow; $6.99

Monday, October 11, 2010

Product Review; "Amore Pacific Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System"



Hydration is truly the key when trying to maintain a healthy looking complexion complete with radiant, youthful glow. But apparently, water isn't part of that equation.

Skincare and cosmetics company Amore Pacific relies instead on bamboo extract for it's moisturizing and emollient capabilities but also for it's antioxidant and detoxifying characteristics. The majority of the formulas found in the Amore Pacific arsenal contain bamboo extract and not one of them has water. Which, oddly enough, is not so great for your skin as it seems.

Aqua Purificata(water) is generally the first ingredient to be listed on the majority of skincare products because it makes for an easy emollient, but there is only really a slight need for water in the first few layers of skin. Any more than the needed amount can disrupt the skin's intercellular matrix; the components that bind the cells and maintain the structural integrity. Who would have thought you could drown in face cream?

No one.

You ever taken too long of a shower or bath and your hands get all pruney? That's the effect. So you don't actually NEED water in your moisturizer, but it don't hurt. You just don't want to go overboard.

Which is exactly what I will NOT be doing with this product. To be honest, I was a little put off when I did a slight mist over my arm as the spray has the slightest bit of fragrance. When I flipped over the box and looked at the ingredients, there at the bottom of the list was the culprit- Fragrance.

I have a pretty sensitive nose and anything that has even the remotest synthetic smell will send it into overdrive. This is why I never reach for cologne, no matter how fancy it may be. And that's all I could get the sense of when I did the first couple of trial runs with this "hydrating mist".

Now, not to be all gloom and stinky-doom, the skin on my arm certainly did show a bit of soft texture and the formula does dissipate right away leaving no residue. And since it also boasts glycerin in the mix, it did lay very well over a bit of concealor and powder when blended on my forearm, so this would be ideal for setting makeup.

But, I couldn't bring myself to do a shot in the face. The scent is just far too strong and I know I'd be keeling over after a few moments. On top of that, there's a bit of concern when I see the word "fragrance" on any label as the term is one that has absolutely no regulation under FDA Guidelines or cosmetic labeling procedures. Which means, it can have pretty much anything in the compound. ANYTHING.

Thanks, but I'll just stick with water.




Amore Pacific Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System; $35

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Product Review; "Superman Justice League Eau De Toilette"



I am currently boycotting Target Stores in response to politics that have nothing to do with makeup or skincare so I will not go into details. Fortunately I shall not go without toilet paper as there is a Rite Aid Store a few blocks from my apartment. And as an added bonus, they have a fairly expansive health and beauty center showcasing multiple cosmetics and fragrance brands.

Varieties of which to include Superman Justice League Eau De Toilette; . Want to leap buildings in a single bound? Be faster than a speeding locomotive? Yea, that's not going to happen. But now you can smell like the Man of Steel. I guess. How do we know what Superman smells like?

Well according to fragrance company Marmol and Son Superman smells like a combination of aldehydes, alchohol bases, and synthetic compounds that linger even after a handwashing. You know how after you shower at the gym and you still don't quite feel clean because the surrounding area is fermenting in sweat and Speed Stick? Now you can have that sensation in a bottle.

I'll be straight with ya'll, I totally bought this as a joke. Oddly enough, I was a bit surprised to find that this product was packaged rather well in shrink wrap with a dense padded box. I figured the product itself was a goof, but right there on the side label read,

"this is not a toy"

And to further reiterate that point was also written,

"Warning; glass bottle. Caution: Flammable until dry. Avoid spraying in eyes"

So, there seems to be a bit of hyperbole in marketing this "fragrance" with a famous cartoon character on the packaging. Who else (besides me) would be interested in purchasing this product with the sole intent on actually using it? Apparently anyone else shopping at Rite Aid who's got a spare $13.50 on their bank card.

Or maybe you want to spend a little more? How about around $20+ ? There seems to be a little bidding war going on at eBay for something that's starting to give me a bit of a headache. But, the novelty seems to be worth more than expected as the prices are fluxing across the hours.

How much would you pay to smell like a guy who bounces bullets off his chest?



Superman Justice League Eau De Toilette; $13.50

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Product Review; "MAC Venomous Villains, Magically Cool Liquid Powder"



In the mid 80's a little known makeup brand from Toronto, the brainchild of makeup artist Frank Toskan and businessman Frank Angelo, started making waves in the fashion industry when it developed a following among makeup artists in the surrounding areas. Soon it was appearing on runways, photoshoots and even the lips of a burgeoning burlesque performer during her "Blonde Ambition Tour".

By the early 90's, it was official..., MAC had arrived.

Giving rise to innovation and creative mixes of pigments, textures and finishes Makeup-Art Cosmetics (MAC) has established itself as a forerunner in cosmetics as we know it today, setting the standard for all companies to come. I have never met a professional makeup artist without Studio Fix in their kit, a pop diva who doesn't rely on Russian Red Lipstick or a teenage girl who isn't swooning after her first tube of Lipglass.

Best known for it's innovative formulas and rebellious attitude, MAC stays true to it's heritage while collaborating with the Walt Disney Company to release the Venomous Villains Collection; a gathering of products with themes suiting various "bad guys" in the Disney repertoire of childrens films.

Where most companies would prefer the fluffy, pretty girly characters like those from the Disney Princesses, MAC went the opposite direction and focused on the villains. Ask Senior Vice President of MAC Worldwide, James Gager "why villains?" and he'll respond;

"Come on — aren't the nastier ones more fun? "

Indeed they are.

The corporate motto "all ages, all races, all sexes" is supremely evident as we see one of those nasty characters, Dr. Facilier from the famed fable remake, "The Princess and the Frog" emblazened atop a magical potion-like powder that melts onto your skin.

The formula is composed of a method that encapsulates water in a finely milled powder that is then released via body temperature. Dusted lightly over foundation or bare skin this luxurious powder invigorates the skin with a cooling sensation. The tiniest bit of shimmer is apparent and emulates a soft glow making this product ideal for a complexion in need of a little magic.

When I first opened the tub of the fairer color "Truth and Light", I noticed that it had a silky texture and the slightest bit of weight. Yes, I meant "weight". But the moment I draped it over my hand, it literally melted away leaving a soft finish that suggested I had just cast a spell. With no further consideration, I also picked up the deeper tone "Cajun", a reddish brown tone ideal for darker complexions or perhaps for bronzing.

Using a soft powder brush to dust a fine layer over skin can prove to be addicting. The sensation is one you'll have to experience to believe as it does feel quite intriguing. And even after a few swipes, you'd think it would start building up more girth, but not at all. The density remained consistent as the satin-like finish continued to reflect back flawless skin.

It has proven to be a treat for my clients as well, as I have committed this product to my set-kit. Each time I do a little dusting, I get the same incredulous reaction from the girls in the chair. It's made very clear that this was a product no one has ever experienced before. A quizzical look always beams out of their eyes after the first swipe and you can see the reasoning begin to flourish their minds. Questions such as "who could make such an intriguing, distinct product?". But before I can even offer an explanation, they've already begun asking;

"Is it MAC?"




Magically Cool Liquid Powder; $29.50

Monday, October 4, 2010

Friend or Foe?; Parabens



My kit weighs a whopping 40+lbs... and it's growing. Among the items are the usual suspects like mascara, foundations, powder blushes and shadows, moisturizers, etc... But seeing as how I am constantly in need of multiple colors and textures I keep various varieties of these items. And then I am sure to have mutliple formulas to compensate for different skin types. And then multiple colors and coverage options in those formulas. And then cleansers, toners, wipes, blah, blah, blah and blah. And then various forms of blah blah in case anyone is allergic to those blahs.

And, of course all those products come in ampules, capsules, bottles, tubes, jars or other forms of containers to keep light, air and debris from getting in. But regardless of the amount of product I have, once a product has been opened, it starts on it route to decay. This can be upsetting to find that half my options are no longer able to be used and need to be replaced immediately making my frustration grow as I have now been lugging around stuff I can't even use. Oh, my aching back!

As with food products, some kinds of preservatives are needed to keep spoilage from occuring and stretch the life of an item so it can be tasked for an appropriate amount of time. This insures that your lipstick will be good until the last of it has been swiped on.

The most common form of preservative for cosmetics are called parabens, of which are getting a tremedous amount of poor press lately. Parabens are thought to mimic the hormone estrogen and when absorbed into the system are unofficially linked to the development of breast cancer. Freaky, right?

But where do parabens even come from? Some are actually naturally occurring. Yep, "natural".

Methylparaben, in fact, is an antimicrobial found in blueberries as part of the acidic chemistry. However, when ingested and metabolized, it loses it's "esther" grouping and passes through the system without causing harm. But how many of us are eating our makeup?

Applied topically, cosmetics are absorbed through your skin and salivatious glands (eyes, nostrils, mouth). And at very minimal levels... I hope. Of course, if you add up your moisturizer, foundation, mascara, body cream, toothpaste, deodorant, hair gel, lip balm, .... Okay, maybe not so little.

When you really think about it, is it worth using some products if it means they could cause, not only certain cancers, but neurological disorders? If parabens are truly mimicing estrogen, they are bonding with receptors of your endocrine system which regulates information signaling throughout your body, and should those signals get disrupted, many problems can occur. We call these miscreants Endocrine Disruptors, and they are bad. Causing all kinds of issues with motor function, this can also lead to development disorders.

So how could such an evil character like Parabens even be allowed for public usage?! Well, quite frankly, there's really no remarkable evidence of their misdeeds or legislation to monitor studies on them. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only gone so far to enact the FD&C Act in 2004. But since then, it has gone widely unopposed when new products come into development. Which means, when new technologies in cosmetics come into play, no one is really watching.

The main argument for proponents of parabens stay on the mode that no one is thought to use products "loaded" with them and very little can actually permeate the skin deep enough to cause any real harm. Skin, being the largest organ of our bodies, is exceptionally resilient and heals automatically. Or with very little aide. Parabens are no match for our skins biological healing function. But tell that to a cancer survivor.

Parabens are among the top ingredients to avoid at Cinco Vidas, a blog dedicated to well-being advice for those going through or recovering from cancer treatments. Which makes sense since those with suppressed immune systems are slower to heal from exposure to elements the average person might have no problem with.

For those with this kind of concern, other kinds of preservatives exist like Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) for it's antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Mostly found in organic products you'll be able avoid the potential detriment of parabens. But whether or not GSE is as effective as parabens is yet to be seen.

Until more affirmative research is done, hopefully with the passing of the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 we may keep from having to create our own cosmetics.

The best way to steer clear of parabens, if you should so choose, is to flip over the container of your products to the ingredient listing and look for the key words Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben or Ethylparaben. I'll be doing the same, of course.

Maybe my kit will finally be able to drop some weight.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Grooming with the Stars



On very rare occasions, I will be tasked with many kinds of grooming. Again, RARE occasions. I would prefer to leave it to people who have specialized such skills as there are few places I am willing to go... take that as you will.

But every now and again, I'll be on a shoot for underwear/lingerie/bathing suits and it will become very obvious that the model didn't take the time to "prepare" for wardrobe. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and rather than leave the task up to post production airbrushing, I'll have a small kit on hand to tackle such situations. But this, again, is very rare.

The odd thing is, it's the kind of thing most people can't quite seem to decide on, so there tends to be a bit of debate as to whether or not anything should be done/could be done/wants to be done/is willing to be done.

Mostly with men, it's a pretty sensitive area. Pun intended. Which is why preparation is really key.

In his recent book Survival Guide to the Apocalypse, MMA Champion Forrest Griffin keeps that in mind when discussing personal hygene in anticipation of our impending doom. Recognizing the loss of Bed Bath and Beyond, Griffin will also go without the,

"...sweet smelling perfumes and home wax kits [and] everyone's situation down there will get a lot more unruly. Instead of resembling a neatly manicured lawn, the post-apocalyptic bush will actually resemble a bush... If you do not take advantage of all the benefits a clean body supplies, you will regret it down the road. "

Gentlemen... be prepared. If you really like, you could even take a tutorial for maintaining certain parts of your body whether it's your groin, armpits, or chest.

Griffin's advice lends not only to the inevitable destruction of society as a whole, but possibly to alleviate scrutiny as well. Women, after all are tasked with more body grooming than their male counterparts. And the attention paid to it can be pretty controversial.

Adult film star Sasha Grey recently made recurring appearances on the hit HBO series Entourage as the new girlfriend to it's lead character. At the end of the episode entitled "Hair", Grey, who is no stranger to frontal nudity, was tastefully filmed completely nude walking into a pool. As with all episodes of the show, it was filmed with fantastic lighting from non-invasive angles and was integral to the plot and character development. But after the episode aired, the blogosphere and mainstream entertainment press was buzzing with speculation. Of the scene? Of the main characters spiral into decline? Grey's performance?

Nope.

The only subject raising eyebrows had the unofficial moniker of "bush-gate". Apparently, the majority of reporters have no acceptance of the "natural" look.

Inspiring this kind of media attention has done nothing to motivate the actress to take any particular measures, which is supremely admirable, as it warrants none. Personal grooming is, of course, a personal choice. But when grooming is integral to a performance, the choice is pretty clear.

The "natural" look has no place in the world of drag queen beauty pageants and the queen of all competitive gender illusionists,Carrie Fairfield, is not one to skimp on preparation. Bridging the gap between male and female, Fairfield relies on her Norelco 2040/34 Body Groomer to keep stubble at bay and give the look of a smooth, feminine facade. From all angles of view.

After all, those stage lights are not forgiving and the judgment of other queens can be brutal. Putting her best leg forward garners the kind of attention necessary when playing host to the largest online community honoring the art form of female impersonation and drag pageantry, CarrieFairfield.com.

So whether it's the end of the world, time to film a nude scene, or strutting on the catwalk, the advice is clear; be prepared. I may not be there to help.
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