Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

Over Tweezed Your Brows? Don’t Worry! August 29, 2011

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 6:15 am
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Simple Tricks for Perfect Looking Brows

I am slightly obsessed with eyebrows.  I am constantly looking at people’s eyebrows, and I can’t look at a model in an ad or a fashion magazine without examining her eyebrows.  I am not sure from where all this eyebrow obsession stems, but I don’t see if going away any time soon.

For me one of the more difficult things that I do as an esthetician is sculpt eyebrows.  While there are some people (Anastasia and Damone Roberts immediately come to mind) who have built their careers on eyebrow design I’m more of a skincare esthetician.  For me it comes down to this – brows are so personal.  What I may think is the right look for someone’s brows isn’t at all what they want.  People also can have expectations of how their brows should look that isn’t always possible to achieve.  But here’s the good thing about brows – even if you don’t like the way your brows look now they will grow and change, letting you create a new brow design.

I am in a constant battle with my own brows.  I stare at them every morning and evening and contemplate what I should do with them.  Now brows are rarely perfectly symmetrical, but I cause myself numerous problems by trying to make mine look the same.  I tweeze my brows rather regularly.  I need to clean up stray hairs on a twice daily basis and then every few weeks I have to do a major design overhaul of my brows.  But then the problem is this – once I take out my tweezers to do a major overhaul I usually go overboard.  Just two weeks ago I had to tell myself “do not take out your tweezers again – leave your brows alone”.  I had ended up over tweezing.  Now each morning I fill in my brows (I fill in my brows in general every day since my brow hair is sparse) so that my brows look even and fuller – aka not so over plucked.  Though some people swear by eyebrow pencils to fill in sparse brows I prefer brow powder (try bareMinerals or GloMinerals) that I apply with a very small slanted brush.  Using a small slanted brush gives me control over where and how much of the product I apply.  Since I have curly brows I then set everything with clear brow gel (I use e.l.f. – only a $1!).   I will leave the house without make-up, but I will not leave the house anymore without making sure my brows look tiptop (or at least trying to make them look good).

Never under-estimate how great a well-groomed brow can make you look great.  If you want to do only one thing in order to look good invest in how your brows look.  I wrote a long post called Change Your Eyebrows, Change Your Life that gave an exhaustive number of tips on how to take care of your brows, but I only briefed touched on filling in sparse or over plucked brows.  But prompted by an article I saw in Self magazine I wanted to right that wrong.

The article, Quick Eyebrow Makeovers, does a great job of both explaining and showing  how you can make your over plucked brows look fabulous with a few simple tricks.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you are using a brow pencil to fill in sparse brows do not draw a straight line with the pencil.  Instead make small strokes with the eyebrow pencil that mimic the look of real hairs.
  • Use a slanted brow brush (or any small slanted brush) to apply your brow powder.  Tap the powder off the brush before applying to your eyebrows so that you don’t apply too much powder at once.  It is always best to be able to add brow powder instead of trying to subtract.
  • Try Latisse or Rogaine on your brows in order to speed up regrowing them.
  • If your brow hair is curly like mine trim your hair.  Take a spoolie brush and brush your brow hair below your brows.  Trim a little bit off the ends of the hairs that fall below the brow line.  Brush the hair back in place to see how it looks.  Then brush your brow hair up above the brow line to and trim again if necessary.
  • Hide your tweezers!  Put your tweezers down for a few days to see how your brows start growing in on their own.


For great, step by step instructions with illustrations on how to fill in over tweezed brows see the article Here and Brow from Beauty,etc.


Don’t give up!  A few minutes (or even less) in the morning filling your brows will make a huge and positive difference in your appearance.


Are You a Skincare Product Hoarder? August 25, 2011

Filed under: Skin and Skincare — askanesthetician @ 5:54 am
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I have a confession to make – I have too many skincare products.  As a matter of fact my issue goes beyond having too many skincare products.  I’ll admit it – I’m a skincare product hoarder.  Not only do I always want to try something new, I am willing to try almost any skincare product that someone gives me.

At the moment my small bathroom holds the following products:  two full size bottles of two different skincare cleansers (daytime and nighttime cleansers), a salicylic acid toner, two different body moisturizers (one with spf, one without spf), a benzoyl peroxide lotion, three different antioxidant serums, two different facial sunscreens (a lotion and a powder),  an exfoliating foot lotion, two different facial moisturizers, one eye cream, jojoba oil to remove eye make-up and another eye make-up remover, a skin cleansing oil to remove make-up, and six or seven different sample sizes of skincare products including facial cleansers, facial scrubs, sunscreens, and a facial lotion.

I bet what I have just admitted to having in my bathroom sounds familiar to many of my readers.  It is quite normal for me to have clients who tell me that they change their skincare products as often as they change their clothes.  As an esthetician I do get offered samples of skincare lines, and since I’ll try pretty much try anything once on my face I take them home and try them.

But is it right to have so many products?  Or is it overkill?  In my case I am willing to admit that it is a bit of an overkill to have as many products as I have.  In my defense, I have duplicates of a lot of products (like my two facial moisturizers) because I was able to get a really good price on them and didn’t want to miss the discount.  I know that any unopened product I have will be fine for a year or more as long as I keep the product sealed.  A lot of the samples I receive I don’t use in the end.  I guess sometimes it is just best to give samples away to someone who will actually use them.  And in my quest to find the best exfoliating product I’ve waylaid a product that cost me plenty of money and now should be thrown out (I noticed that it had changed colors).  That was simply money down the drain.

There are some risks involved with changing your skincare products frequently.  First, one of the biggest risk is actually to your wallet since you might end up discarding a product after only a few uses.  If you switch products a lot you are spending a lot of money without probably getting real results.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try new skincare products if you feel like it, but I suggest researching and taking time to really consider before you purchase the newest skincare product on the market.  Newest doesn’t mean best.  The gold standard for topical anti-aging products is Retin-A and that has been for about 30 years.  No one has yet to find an anti-aging product that works as effectively as Retin-A so why chase after every new product that claims to work as well as Retin-A?  It would take years of research and trials to really see if any new product works as well as Retin-A.  So if a skincare product claims to do what Retin-A does I would definitely say to stay clear and save your money.  See what the feedback on the product is a year after it comes on the market.  Look for feedback both from consumers (on websites like Sephora and Allure) and from doctors or other informed individuals as well (Dr. Leslie Baumann’s Skin Type Solutions website has a ton of information on it or look it up on Beautypedia).

So let’s say money is no object and you can afford to try (and have the space to store) every skincare product your heart desires be sure to err on the side of caution nonetheless.  If you pile on your skincare products or combine them recklessly you can irritate your skin and cause yourself more harm than good.  That’s not to say that you shouldn’t or can’t change your skincare products but be sure to look at your entire skincare routine before adding new products.  Just because a celebrity recommended skincare product doesn’t mean that the product is right for you.  A little bit of self-control and research can help you find the right products for you in the end.

Lastly, please remember that using a new skincare product for a week and expecting great changes and results in how your skin looks is futile.  You need to give a new skincare regime or product approximately three months of daily use before you can determine if the products work as they claim to.  If you constantly run after the newest products and switch products repeatedly you will never see a real difference in how your skin looks.

Now having said all of the above about skincare products I have to admit that I am also a make-up product hoarder.  The number of eye shadows that I own is simply ridiculous.  But unlike with skincare products I absolutely encourage experimentation when it comes to make-up products.  Whenever I want to try a new lip gloss or eye shadow color I head over to my neighborhood Target or Ulta and buy the color I want to try from one of the cheap make-up lines (for example NYX, NYC, or E.l.f.).  That way I fulfill my desire to try something new or to see how the trendiest colors look on me with minimal investment.  This is how I found out, for example, that I should never, ever wear deep purple eyeshadow (I looked like someone punched me) but that lilac eye shadow looks nice on me.

So I guess the moral of this post is as follows:  think before you leap.  Before you invest your money in skincare products invest some thought as well, and once you invest in new products give them time to work before moving on to the next big thing.


Anti-Aging Ingredients in Make-up – Are They Really Doing Something? August 22, 2011

Filed under: beauty,make-up — askanesthetician @ 6:12 am
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Can your make-up really help you fight the signs of aging?  Please allow me to be both cynical and straight forward with my answer and that answer is: no.  In my opinion make-up that claims to be anti-aging is simply nothing more than marketing hype.  The most effective anti-aging products you can use are not make-up products.  Looking for your anti-aging solution in a container of foundation will get you nowhere.  Having said that, make-up can certainly help enhance and even maintain the results you get from both topical anti-aging products (Retin-A for example) or office/spa treatments (such as chemical peels, laser resurfacing, etc.).

The most effective anti-aging ingredients work on many levels, but two things need to consistent in order for any anti-aging product to work:  you need to have the correct concentration of the effective ingredients and you need to use the product over an extended period of time (three months or more usually before you see real results).  This is the issue with almost all make-up that claims to be anti-aging – it doesn’t have the correct concentrations of anti-aging ingredients in the make-up in order to change your skin at all.

The one ingredient contained in some make-up that truly can be considered anti-aging is sunscreen.  If you see that your make-up has an actual spf rating then you can trust that the product is protecting you from sun exposure since a manufacturer cannot slap a spf rating on a protect without FDA consent.  But please remember – just because you use make-up with a spf rating does not mean that you can skip using your sunscreen or your moisturizer with sunscreen.  I have yet to met a person who uses enough foundation (mineral, liquid, etc.) to get effective sun protection.

So should you just skip buying make-up that claims to be fighting wrinkles?  If you like the make-up that claims to have anti-aging benefits then buy the make-up for that reason – that you like how to looks on your skin.  And it can’t hurt your skin by any means.  Using make-up with sunscreen and antioxidants in it will, of course, benefit your skin in the long run but that doesn’t mean that you should put away your Retin-A, moisturizer, antioxidant serum, and favorite sunscreen.

According to the article Makeup That Does More from Good Housekeeping, keep a few things in mind when looking at anti-aging make-up:

When makeup is loaded with proven wrinkle-reducing ingredients like retinol and peptides, it can be effective, says Patricia Farris, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. But to see an improvement over time, these ingredients must be present above certain concentrations. For vitamin C, it’s 5 to 10 percent, says Dr. Farris. For retinol, it’s at least 0.1 percent. Two products that have that 0.1 percent: GloMinerals GloCream Blush in Fig or Guava ($25 each, Beauty companies don’t often tell you these percentages, though you can hedge your bets by checking that active ingredients like vitamins and retinol are higher up on the ingredient list — and by choosing creamy formulas over powders. Retinol and vitamin E, for example, are oily materials. “They’re difficult to blend in powder at high levels because they make the particles stick together,” says Perry Romanowski, an independent cosmetics chemist. Instead, try a liquid such as L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift Line-Minimizing & Tone-Enhancing Makeup ($14.25, drugstores) with pro-retinol and SPF 17.

Also look closely at the claims. Few anti-aging cosmetics explicitly promise to eliminate wrinkles or sun damage, says Brandith Irwin, M.D., a Seattle dermatologist and author of The Surgery-Free Makeover. Instead, they “minimize the appearance of wrinkles” or “visibly reduce fine lines.” As for those studies showing a reduction in wrinkle depth, dermatologists often credit the moisture in makeup, not the anti-aging ingredients, for doing most of the heavy lifting. “The quickest way to make a wrinkle look better is to smear moisturizer on it,” Dr. Farris says. Skin is like a sponge, wrinkled and rough when dry, soft and smooth once you add water. Infusing it with hydrators is faster (and cheaper) than adding enough retinol or peptides to makeup to smooth skin long-term.

And don’t forget that it is perfectly legal for a manufacturer to claim that their make-up is anti-aging even if it only has a tiny amount of retinol or antioxidants or just contains sunscreen.  So remember to look at the actual ingredient list before purchasing a product if you are hoping to see real changes in your skin after using your make-up (and by that I mean your skin looks different after you remove your make-up not just while you are wearing the make-up).

The bottom line is this:  stick to skincare products with a proven track record in order to get real anti-aging results.  Buy your cosmetics based on how they feel and look on your skin and not based on marketing claims.

Sources and Further Reading:


Book Review: Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 August 18, 2011

Staging Your Comeback:  A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 by Christopher Hopkins is not a book about skincare so you might wonder why I wanted to review it for my blog.  I wanted to review this book and own this book since I found that it was a great guide for helping women look and feel their best as they age.  I especially wanted to own the book for the chapter about make-up application since the majority of my clients at my job are over 45.  Applying make-up to someone over the age of 45 is a completely different ballgame than applying make-up to someone in their 20s.  Chapter 6:Make-up as Art and Spirit has proved invaluable to me for my job.

Clearly this book is meant for women of a certain age, but I did find that a lot of the tips would suit women of all ages – finding a flattering hair style, figuring out which clothes best suit your figure, and creating a make-up routine that enhances your appearance.  Though Hopkins has a specific segment of the population in mind when writing this book his tips can be used by everyone.  Hopkins really wrote this book for women who seem to have “given up” as they have aged.  So many of the make-over stories in the book focus on women who once took pride in their appearance and now invest little to no time in how they look.  This is not a book about being vain or superficial; this is a book that helps you match how you feel on the inside with how you look on the outside.  Furthermore, Hopkins repeatedly explains how devising and then maintaining a flattering hairstyle, wardrobe, and make-up look can boost your self-esteem and help the rest of the world see the real you thus helping you feel both more confident and happier.

I thought Hopkins clearly explained some of the key reasons why everyone should put some thought and care into their appearance:

I grew up in the rural Midwest, where belief systems are designed to keep you grounded.  If you were told “Don’t get too big for your britches,” “Remember where you came from,” or “Don’t reach for the moon,” you know the power of early belief-system training.  A belief system is a mindset that controls your behavior, and it can feel very uncomfortable to challenge some of those old ingrained beliefs.  If you want to blast those belief systems, you must first feel that you deserve the “self-indulgence” of looking great every day.  You have the power to express yourself not as expected but as amazing.  Voices of the past must be put out with the trash.  You can change your belief systems, and indeed you must, to move forward.  (page 11)

Excuses hinder.  In my business I’ve heard every excuse for why someone won’t make an effort to look better.  We look exactly how we look because of the choices we’ve made.  How we will look in the future comes from the choices we make today.  Once we reevaluate our belief systems, the next step is to expose the excuses that hold us back.  (page 12)

We all want to express our individuality.  When we are young, it is easier to be an individual because we experiment more with our look and get away with it.  We can give our messages about who we are by our choices of clothes and how we wer our hair and makeup.  We have more color.  We have more definition.  Our individuality shines through naturally.  As we age, we begin to see signs of change.  We begin to redefine ourselves as we mature.  We’re more experienced and seasoned, and hopefully our image reflects that.  We don’t want to go back.  We also don’t want to look outdated or “out of that loop.”  I often hear women say, “I like who I am, just as I am.”  Okay, great but do people see who you are when you walk into a room?  Being who you are is one thing, but letting others see who you are takes a little more thought.  If I took a photo of you right now and passed it around, asking for words that describe you, would they be adjectives you’d want to hear?  If you could list five qualities you’d want someone to know about you, what would they be?  If you want to be appreciated for who you are, it helps to present those qualities in how you look.  (pages 29 – 30)

When you feel good, you exude confidence.  I often hear people say that they have nothing to dress up for – they work in the home and they never really go out.  I don’t know what has happened to us.  Seriously.  Why can’t you just look good for you?!  The minute you walk out the door of your house you are in the public eye.  When you’re in your house, you are in the eye of yourself and your family.  Be an inspiration, not a warning.  …  Create life events.  Whether it’s a dinner with your spouse, church, a meeting, work, play, a picnic, holiday, a wedding, or a party, it is the opportunity and motivation to make your entrance.  You’re the star in your show; look and feel like one!  (page 239)

So how exactly does one go about staging their comeback?  Hopkins has a process that one needs to go through in order to chang their appearance and their outlook.  That process involves more than just finding a hair stylist (though he shares tips on how to do that as well).  The process begins with some internal work – you need to take Hopkins’ quizzes and ask yourself some questions as well. Luckily the book makes the entire process very clear and concise, but it does take some time and effort on your part.  All the tips and tricks are great – from how to dress for your body type, to finding the right hair style, to make-up application.  And as I mentioned above many, many of these tips are good for women of all ages.  And if you aren’t convinced that Hopkins’ tips will work for you just skip ahead to the makeovers at the end of the book.  Amazing doesn’t even begin to describe some of the makeovers or all of them really.  Check out my favorite makeover below.

I definitely recommend looking at and then following the ideas and instructions in this book if you have started to feel like you are not looking and feeling your best.  It isn’t superficial or vain to want to look pretty and feel attractive.  When you look good you feel good so why not try?  Really you’ve got nothing to lose.  And now having said all that I am going to go put on a little eye make-up.  That always lifts my spirits.

Check out Hopkins’ website for more information and be sure to look at the stunning before and after photos from the book.


Younger Looking Hands August 15, 2011

If you really want to tell someone’s age don’t look at their face – look at their hands.  So often people forget to care for their hands and simply concentrate all their anti-aging efforts on their faces.

Over a year ago I wrote a blog post called Give Your Hands Some TLC, but I thought I would revisit the subject of caring for your hands with a few new tips and product recommendations.

Just as there is a solution for every skin issue that you have with your facial skin there is also a solution for the skin issues on your hands as well.  First off, you can use the anti-aging products you use on your face on your hands too.  Retinols, either prescription or OTC, will help smooth your hands and stimulate collagen production so that your hands will eventually look younger.

If you spend a lot of time outside either working, playing sports, or driving consider wearing gloves.  During the summer you can wear fingerless gloves like these gloves from Coolibar.

If your hands have lost a lot of their volume consider injections like Radiesse or Restylane to restore volume and help build collagen.  This procedure can also help hide prominent veins.  Or consider laser treatments which can get rid of sun damage, age spots, crepiness, and help build collagen as well.  Just as you can have a chemical peel performed on your face in order to treat hyperpigmentation and fine lines the same thing can be done on your hands.  As always with chemical peels – a series of peels usually yields the best results.

If you aren’t ready for treatments that only a doctor can provide like the injections or the laser treatments be sure to keep your hands well moisturized and to use spf on your hands.  Moisturizer temporarily plumps the skin leading to a smoother appearance.  You could even apply a moisturizing hand mask like this mask from OPI.  Using spf daily, and reapplying before you go outside, helps prevent sun spots and collagen loss over time.


Sources and Further Reading:


August is Psoriasis Awareness Month August 11, 2011

August is Psoriasis Awareness Month so I wanted to use this post to highlight some resources for those suffering from this skin disease.


What Is Psoriasis?

According to Dr. Ellen Marmur in her book Simple Skin Beauty (pages 230-231) psoriasis is a condition that is:

 … characterized by thick, red plaque with a white, silvery (micaceous) scale on top.  It’s itchy and painful and can create big fissures on the skin.  It tends to be on extensor surfaces, such as the elbows, knees, and scalp.  There are several types of psoriasis, and some can be quite severe, affecting the joints and causing something called “psoriatic arthritis”.  It can also be mild, manifesting itself as one patch of plaque on the body, such as dry, cracked elbows that don’t soften no matter how much moisturizer you put on.

Psoriasis is a genetic, chronic inflammatory disease where for some reason lymphocytes (immune cells) are attaching the skin, causing cell turnover to accelerate.  Therefore, the dead skin cells aren’t shedding as fast as the maturing cells are rising to the surface.  This pile-up creates a silvery scale on the surface.

Psoriasis Treatments

If you do suffer from psoriasis there are some things you can do at home to help prevent your condition from getting worse.   Once again, according to Dr. Marmur:

Don’t scratch or try to scrub off the scaly skin.  Instead, moisturize with a thick, occlusive cream or ointment twice a day.  Sweat will irritate the skin, as will fragranced products or perfume.  Psoriasis sufferers have to be careful about everything they put on their skin – even sunscreen can sting.  Even one patch of plaque should lead you to see a dermatologist, especially since it’s likely that you will develop others in the future.  It’s important to get a good treatment program to prevent a more extensive outbreak.

So what other treatment options are out?  According to Dr. Amy Taub, as quoted in the article August is Psoriasis Awareness Month; Is Your Spa Ready? online at Skin Inc. :

  • Laser. A 308nm laser provides targeted phototherapy treatment for psoriasis offering safe, effective and lasting results. This laser uses a focused beam of ultraviolet light on the affected skin area avoiding exposure to healthy skin.
  • Topical agents. In mild psoriasis, where less than 10% of the body surface is affected, topical creams, ointments, gels and lotions are often applied first. These usually consist of steroids, vitamin D derivatives, retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) and tar-based topical treatments. The most common is a steroid because of its anti-inflammatory properties and because it also decreases the redness and scaling relatively quickly.
  • Oral or injectables. When psoriasis is more severe or light treatments or topicals have failed, oral or injectable solutions may be considered. They work by decreasing the metabolism in overactive cells thereby decreasing the rapidity with which psoriatic skin is made helping to normalize it. In addition, sufferers now have biologic medications available, also known as “designer” drugs, which attack specific molecular targets in the immune system.

Dr. Taub tells exclusively about possible psoriasis treatments that are currently in the works.

Awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, new biologic agents are being investigated at a very rapid pace. New receptor molecules have been identified as targets (called IL-23 receptors) that may be even more specific than the agents that are known about today. The older biologics have undergone many years of study, and the dermatologic community is finally feeling more confident about the long-term safety of these agents as a result of this data. In fact, there may even be some negative consequences of not treating psoriasis. More data is pointing to the fact that having unchecked psoriasis could lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, leading many dermatologists to push more toward treatment as being more conservative.

If you think that you may have psoriasis see a dermatologist immediately in order to start a treatment plan before your condition worsens.  Please see below for lots of online resources for even more information about psoriasis.


Other online resources for information about psoriasis and treatment options:


Mineral Make-up: The Best Make-up Out There? August 8, 2011

Is mineral make-up the best make-up out there or is mineral make-up just a lot of hype?  In my opinion, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The Case Against Mineral Make-up

In the August, 2011 issue of Allure five cosmetic chemists were interviewed for their opinions on which beauty products they admire, which products they think are overrated, beauty dilemmas they would like to solve, and what they think will be the next big beauty breakthrough.  Ni’Kita Wilson, vice president of research and innovation at Englewood Lab, listed mineral make-up as the beauty product she thought was the most overrated.  According to Wilson:

It seems strange to me to label colored cosmetics as ‘mineral’ when really they all contain minerals.  It makes it seem as if the product is made entirely of minerals, when many actually have the same mineral content as traditional makeup.

Paula Begoun has the following to say against mineral make-up:

When all is said and done, after you’ve cut through the hype, misleading information, and lies, mineral makeup is truly nothing more then powder (though now most companies are calling every product they make “mineral” regardless of what it is). It is not revolutionary, safe, or unique in any way. By any name, technically speaking, mineral makeup is simply a type of powder foundation. If you apply a light layer it serves as a finishing powder. Apply a little more and it works more like a layer of foundation providing light to medium (and, depending on the product, nearly full) coverage. In essence, mineral makeup is merely loose or pressed powder created from a blend of “powdery” substances. The hype behind it being different or special for skin is just that: hype.

Another thing to watch out for is the claim or misunderstanding that mineral make-up is “natural” and thus better for your skin.  Be sure to check out the make-up’s ingredients before falling for that claim.  As Paula Begoun explains:

Ironically the original lines to launch “mineral” makeup were about as natural as polyester. Companies like Youngblood, Bare Escentuals,and Jane Iredale used bismuth oxychloride as the main “mineral” ingredient, yet bismuth oxychloride is not found in nature! Bismuth oxychloride is manufactured by combining bismuth, a by-product of lead and copper metal refining (dregs of smelting if you will) mixed with chloride (a compound from chlorine), and water. Its use in cosmetics is due to its distinct shimmery, pearlescent appearance and its fine white powder texture that adheres well to skin. That doesn’t make it bad for skin, it just makes the marketing claims utterly false and ludicrous.

On the downside, bismuth oxychloride is heavier than talc and can look cakey on skin. For some people, the bismuth and chloride combination can be irritating. All the claims revolving around how mineral makeups are better for skin or are somehow equivalent to skin care is nothing more than clever marketing.

Ironically, mineral make-up got its start as a natural alternative to conventional cosmetics.  According to the WebMD article, What’s Up with Mineral Makeup?, the use of natural ingredients to create cosmetics is an ancient tradition – think Egyptian kohl or prehistoric warrior decked out in body paint.  The modern development of mineral make-up came in the 1970s:

So who first successfully marketed the concept? One pioneer was Diane Ranger, the cosmetic chemist who founded Bare Escentuals in 1976 and later started Colorescience Pro, another mineral line. She developed her first mineral cosmetics because she felt there was a need and market for natural ingredients and a natural look and feel.

“In 1976, cosmetics firms were required to list ingredients on their products for the first time, and I was shocked at what we were putting on our skin,” says Ranger, who had grown up wearing heavy, traditional makeup.

Then I went through my ‘hippy girl’ phase and discarded makeup along with my bra,” she says.

So while the initial desire was to create a natural and safe alternative to traditional make-up the present collection of mineral products can be anything but.  As mineral make-up took off every cosmetic company, large and small, high-end or drugstore, added mineral products to their inventory.  This phenomenon is a product of marketing and consumer demand as opposed to an endorsement of mineral make-up as a superior cosmetic product.

Is There Something Special in Mineral Make-up?

According to the WebMD article mentioned above:

To make your makeup, minerals such as iron oxides, talc, zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide are micronized, or ground and milled, into increasingly tiny particles. “Different products micronize to different levels,” says Ranger. “A product micronized to six times leaves minerals larger so they go on the skin with light to medium coverage. Products micronized 12 times create fine-size particles that sit closer together and offer more coverage.”

Are pulverized pebbles all that are in your mineral makeup, really? The true difference from conventional makeup is what’s not in mineral makeup.

“It generally does not contain the emollient oils and waxes, fragrance, and preservative ingredients found in conventional formulations,” Hammer says. “Mineral products are usually preservative-free, and since they have very low odor, they are often also fragrance-free,” he says, noting that preservatives and fragrance are frequently what cause irritation.

To ensure you’re buying a quality mineral makeup product, he says, read the label. You are probably getting more than just ground-up rocks if the label reads “mineral-enriched” or if the formulation is liquid or mousse; these products may contain ingredients such as paraben preservatives or dimethicone added for a smooth texture. Nonpowders might also contain moisturizers, antioxidant vitamins, or other ingredients that your skin can use, so it’s up to you to weigh the benefits against your needs.

Mineral Make-up Pros

So what are the pros about mineral make-up?  In my opinion there are quite a few:

  1. Mineral make-up powders give sheer coverage that is buidable and blendable.  You do not feel as if you are wearing a lot of make-up and you don’t look like you are either.  The powders can give you skin perfecting coverage.
  2. Mineral make-up powders will not clog your pores so they are a good option for those who have acne or who are acne-prone.  Apparently there is a belief that mineral make-up can clear up acne and this is false, but it certainly will not contribute to acne.
  3. Mineral make-up has a high concentration of zinc oxide and titanium oxide which means it is anti-inflammatory and good for sensitive skin.  Though both of these ingredients are anti-sun ingredients, aka they are physical sunscreen ingredients, if your mineral make-up does not have an actual spf rating do not assume that your make-up will give you sun protection.  Mineral make-up can contribute to sun protection, but if it does not have a spf rating be sure to apply a sunscreen first before applying your make-up.  (I always advocate having a separate sunscreen and not relying on your make-up to give you sun protection)
  4. Mineral make-up naturally has antioxidants in it so that means you are getting protection from free radicals with every make-up application.  Our skin only benefits from the topical use of antioxidants so that is an added bonus when you use mineral make-up.
  5. Minerals are inert so true mineral make-up cannot hold bacteria which means your mineral pressed powder can be safe to use for years after you first open the package.  Keep in mind though if an outside substance like water mixes with your make-up bacteria most certainly has gotten into your make-up.

Mineral Make-up Tip:

All powder foundations can sink into wrinkles and fine lines so if you like using a mineral make-up be sure to apply a primer first so that won’t happen.


While there is plenty to like about mineral make-up be sure not to be caught up in the hype that comes along with this make-up.  If your favorite brand of make-up happens to be mineral make-up then keep using it.  If you have acne, rosacea, or have sensitive skin and have not tried mineral make-up consider giving it a try.

Sources and Further Reading:


No Lie: Why You Really Do Need Your Beauty Sleep August 4, 2011


Is beauty sleep a myth or a reality?  If you chronically do not get enough sleep will that affect your looks?  Here’s what the experts have to say on the subject.

Getting enough sleep is an integral part of Dr. Amy Wechsler’s 9 day plan to destress and look good as she outlines it in her book The Mind-Beauty ConnectionAccording to Wechsler (page 69):

Sleep is free cosmetic medicine, pure and simple.  When people ask me what’s the one thing that will make the biggest improvement in how a stressed-out person looks, I say sleep.  Nothing exacerbates stress and a haggard appearance like exhaustion.  As you may be able to attest from experience, sleep deprivation can make you cranky, depressed, and negative  It can make you overeat, over-caffeinate, and ditch workouts because you’re just too tired.  How much sleep should you get?  Although seven to eight hours a night is the average goal, don’t ever assume you’re average.  If you don’t wake up refreshed or you feel sleepy during the day, you probably need more pillow time, even if you’re getting seven hours or more. 

Lack of sleep will directly affect your looks.  According to the April 2011 issue of Allure:

What women doesn’t fantasize about getting enough sleep every night?  Getting seven to nine hours (the average number an adult needs) helps prevent the following:

Sagging Skin

“Blood pressure is hight when you’re awake, and this causes fluids from your blood vessels to leach into your skin and stretch slightly,” says Darrell S. Rigel, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.  “Over time, skin stays stretched.  When you sleep, fluids in your face are absorbed into the body, but if you never get enough sleep, the fluids never fully reabsorb.”  The effects are especially noticeable around the eyes, where skin is thinner.

Permanent dark circles

The same fluids that cause puffiness also deposit red blood cells in skin, which stay there “and show through skin as permanent circles,” Rigel says.


“Skimping on sleep stresses the body, which triggers activation of the proopiomelanocortin gene,” says dermatologist Leslie Baumann.  “It causes the body to produce excess pigment that can appear as light brown speckles or spots on your face.”


For tips on how to help yourself get a good night’s rest look up the following:


Lip Balm Lessons August 1, 2011

Can’t live without your lip balm?  Turns out there is a scientific reason for that.  And what exactly is lip balm made of that makes it do what it does?  This post will attempt to answer those questions.


Lip Balm Basics


First created at the turn of the 20th century by Dr. Charles Fleet, all lip balms share the same purpose – to moisturize and protect the lips.  Lip balms vary in formulation but typical ingredients include petroleum, shea butter, lanolin, and natural oils in order to prevent water loss from the lips.  Some lip balms contain ingredients like menthol and camphor which feel tingly when applied; these ingredients are actually mildly antiseptic and help soothe chapped and irritated lips.

One little tip – according to Dr. Amy Wechsler in her book The Mind-Beauty Connection (page 116) you should avoid lip balms with the ingredient phenol (Blistex, for example, has that ingredient) since phenol strips the top layer off your lips which then just dries your lips out instead of protecting them.

Lastly, during the day you want to make sure that your lip balm has spf in it.  Our lips do not naturally have any sun protection in them so you always need to protect your lips from the sun with spf protection.

Two of my favorite lip balms are:  Glo Mint Balm (with spf 15) and Dermalogica’s Renewal Lip Complex.  My go to nighttime lip moisturizer is Aquaphor Healing Ointment – it’s cheap and really works.


Is Lip Balm Really Addictive?


Ever feel like you can’t live without your lip product?  Do you feel the overwhelming need to reapply your lip balm continually throughout the day?  It turns out that there is a scientific reason behind this feeling.  The website The Beauty Brains does a great job at explaining this issue:

Skin signals for new cells

Skin is a very complicated organ with multiple layers. The top layer, the stratum corneum, consists mainly of dead, dried up cells. As those cells die and flake off, they send a signal to a deeper layer skin (called the basal layer) to produce fresh skin cells. This is a very simplified description of the process called cellular turnover. (Contrary to what you might have thought, “cellular turnover” does NOT refer to switching your mobile phone plan.)

Lip balm slows down the signal

When you apply lip balm, you’re creating a barrier layer that prevents, or at least retards, the evaporation of moisture from the inner layers of skin. Since the top layer isn’t drying and flaking off as much, the basal layer never gets the signal to produce new cells.

Your skin has to catch up

But when you stop using the lip balm, all of a sudden your lips dry out and your basal layer has to hurry up and start producing new cells. But since your lips already feel dry again, you add more lip balm which once again tells the basal layer “hey, everything’s fine up here on the surface – we don’t need any more new skin cells.”

The cycle repeats

But of course, once that application of lip balm has worn off and there are no new plump, moist skin cells to replace the ones that are drying out, your lips feel dry again and you have to add more lip balm. Etc. etc. etc. Get the picture? That’s why you feel addicted to lip balm – you’ve “trained” you body to rely on it!


Sources and Further Reading:




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