Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top 5 Most Popular Posts in July

It's hard to imagine that the month of July for 2011 is already over. This month was jam packed for me with all kinds of fun things, some not so fun things and exciting news. I started off the month of July with a nasty sunburn that I acquired over the 4th of July weekend. That took a couple weeks to recover from. I was the Guest Blogger for SkinAgain's July 2011 newsletter. SkinAgain was also kind enough to donate a full-sized bottle of the nEu-tone Balancing Serum for my first ever giveaway. The SkinAgain giveaway winner will be announced tomorrow on my blog so stay tuned! I also received a ton of gratis at work this month. We were lucky to have trainings from Dior, Josie Maran and Hourglass...just to name a few. The best part about this month was receiving my new promotion at work. I'm living proof that when you always say yes to the opportunities that come your way, your dreams will come true.

As always, I love hearing from my readers. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful emails, blog comments, posts on Facebook and RTs on Twitter. You guys are always inspiring me to write new posts on my blog.

Here's a look back at My Life As An Esthetician's top five most popular posts for July 2011:

#5: What does "natural" mean?

This month, I got on the whole natural vs organic kick. Natural and organic products are all the rage right now in the industry. The two terms are constantly used interchangeably, which provides a lot of confusion for consumers because they are two completely different things. The main difference between these two terms is that producs labeled "organic" are regulated somewhat by the government. Natural products are not. So what does it mean when a product is labeled "natural" anyway? You might be surprised when you read the real answer.

#4: 10 Awesome @iFabbo Posts (Leave A Comment, Get A Comment!)

The iFabbo post comes in again at #4, two months in a row. If you are a beauty blogger and still haven't signed up to be a member, do yourself a favor and visit the iFabbo website now. Membership is free. The information and advice you will receive as a member is invaluable. iFabbo is the first organization of its kind that brings beauty and fashion bloggers together into one group, acting not only as an advocate, but also as an incredible resource. The iFabbo parties are amazing The ladies behind the organization are very inspiring, well known and respected individuals within the industry. What an amazing group. I can't say enough good things about iFabbo. I am so honored to be a member.

#3: Awesome Tool: MAC Foundation Finder

It's nice to see that my readers love MAC Cosmetics just as much as I do. MAC was the first high-end cosmetic line I wore when I started going to college. The annual school pictures my mom still has hanging up on her living room wall are a constant reminder of my makeup experimenting days. Oh the memories. MAC has so many wonderful products that do specific things for every skin type and condition out there. How do you choose which MAC foundation is right for you? The MAC Foundation Finder will narrow down the choices and help lead you in the right direction.

#2: Should I go to Beauty School?

I love this post. I originally wrote this post because I remember when I first made the decision to go to beauty school like it was yesterday. It was one of the most difficult decisions I had to make. I would have to leave an industry that I had been working in for years for a new industry that I had to start from the bottom and work my way up in again. I realized by going to beauty school that I would be taking a chance, a BIG chance. Not only would my take home pay decrease temporarily while I was in school, but I'd also be racking up a student loan bill that I would have to pay back after graduation. I figured if I had all of these thoughts and concerns about going to beauty school, someone else out there would too.

I'm glad I wrote this post because my own experience seems to have inspired many of you out there. Thanks for all of the comments and questions you've been sending me. I will be turning this post into a mini series because this topic is so important.

#1: My First Giveaway: SkinAgain's nEu-tone Balancing Serum

My first giveaway ever! Thank you to everyone who posted a comment about their favorite acne remedy and/or acne treatment. A huge thank you to SkinAgain for featuring me as their Guest Blogger for their July 2011 newsletter. Big hugs to SkinAgain for donating the full-size nEu-tone Balancing Serum for me to giveaway to one lucky reader tomorrow. I love this stuff. Not only does it have a lot amazing ingredients that instantly soothe acneic skin and occasional breakouts, but it also works as an incredibly soothing and aid in the healing process for sunburns. I will post the winner of my first giveaway on my blog tomorrow.

July was incredibly exciting around here. I can't wait to see what August brings. Thanks for reading everyone!

Do Your Homework Before You Decide on a Beauty School

I did not want to be a Beauty School dropout
After I made the decision to go to beauty school, the next big decision I had to make was which beauty school was I going to go to. In San Francisco, there are a bunch of  different options to choose from. There's San Francisco Institute (SFIEC) on Folsom, Marinello Beauty School on Mission, the Aveda Institute on Kearny, International College of Cosmetology on Polk, San Francisco College of Cosmetology on Mission and Zensi's Beauty Academy on Van Ness. With so many options, how was I going to choose which school was the RIGHT school for me?

Beauty school is a major time commitment and hefty monetary obligation. I knew that I would have to work less in order to go to school full-time. If I had to cut back on the amount of shifts I worked each week, that meant that my income would decrease. Was I willing to accept that financial risk? I knew that no matter what, I would have to work my way through beauty school. Would I still be able to work enough to survive financially while being able to attend all of my classes, have enough time to study between my classes and get enough sleep between going to work and school? I also had to accept the fact that I wasn't going to have any sort of social life while I was in school.

The esthetics program in the state of California is currently 600 hours. I could stretch that out through a part-time program or I could buckle down and get it done in a full-time program. Either way, whichever school I would choose to attend, I wanted to make sure that I was going to enjoy being there for all of those 600 hours. One of my fears was that I would make the decision to go to school and then end up hate being there and want to quit. If I was going to take such a big financial risk, I wanted to be sure that I picked a school that I'd be happy attending.

Before making a decision on which beauty school to go to, it's important to do your homework. Even before you visit a beauty school in-person, do a little research on your own. The better you prepare yourself, the more likely you are the ask the right questions and when the time comes, be armed to make a well informed decision.

Ask for Recommendations

I started off my beauty school research by asking my friends who were already working in the industry for beauty school recommendations. I asked them which school they went to, if they were happy or not with the school they chose and why. I also asked them if they had to do it all over again, which school would they go to and why. Everyone I asked had a different answer. What was really valuable was hearing why they made the choices they did and why their choices worked for them.

Make a List

Next, I made a list of everything my perfect school would have to offer. I was in the market for an accelerated course. I wanted to get in and out of school as fast as possible. I didn't want to waste anymore time switching careers. I was ready to jump into my new career feet first. I also didn't have the luxury of spending a whole lot of time in school because I couldn't afford the time off from work or the extra energy. I knew that I would have to work while going to school. A nine month program wasn't a desirable option for me. I couldn't see myself working nights and going to school days, five days a week for that long period of time. A 17-week course sounded more reasonable, logical and ideal.

I wanted my school to be close to where I lived and easily accessible on Muni. I don't have a car so I needed to make sure whichever school I decided to attend, I would be able to get there easily and on time everyday.

Another consideration that was important to me was the amount of time I would have to spend working on real clients during my program.  I wanted to attend a school that had clean facilities and plenty of clients to perform services on. The beauty industry is such a hands-on industry. I didn't want most of my learning to take place in the classroom. I wanted a majority of that time to be in the treatment room.

It was also important to me that financial aid be available. In fact, financial aid was a necessity for me. Without it, I wouldn't be able to attend beauty school. I didn't have a chunk of change sitting around to use for tuition. I was more than willing to invest in my future, but I needed to be sure that Uncle Sam would be able to help me out.

Visit Schools Online

After making my list of beauty school wants and deal breakers, I then visited the local beauty schools, online. I found a lot of information on the various school websites. A couple of the sites were well put together and provided lots of information about attending the school, the esthetics program and what I could expect by attending an esthetics program. Some of the school websites had minimal information and just left me with more questions. One school didn't even have a working phone number. After finishing my online research, I compiled a list of questions along with a list of beauty schools I wanted to check out in-person.

Visit Schools In-Person

When I visited the beauty schools on my list in-person, I purposely visited the schools WITHOUT making an appointment. I wanted to see what the facilities looked like and how the staff would act if I showed up to the school unannounced. I wanted to get as real of a feel for the schools on my list as possible.

The first school I visited brought me up to meet with an Admissions Leader right away. I took a tour of the school, met current students and faculty and even had a chance to sit with the Admissions Leader in her office. In the back of my mind I expected the Admissions Leader to be pushy and want to quickly sign me up for the school's program. Instead, she took the time to really answer all of my questions. She encouraged me to visit other beauty schools in the area and to get an actual service from each of the schools that I visited. She also wanted me to make a list of salons or spas that I respected in the area and visit them, asking the spa or salon manager which beauty school in the area they think produces the most qualified and best prepared students. I was impressed. I got the feeling that the Admissions Leader really cared about me making the best decision for myself. I really respected that.

The second school I visited was not nearly as appetizing or impressive as the first school. On my first visit to this school, the front desk staff member was abrupt and disorganized. Granted, I didn't have an appointment to meet with anyone, but I couldn't help but feel like I was interrupting her day. She briskly told me that I would have to make an appointment to see someone and that she could not answer any questions about the school. She barely was able to scramble up an appointment request sheet for me to fill out. As I sat in the lobby of the school, I looked around. The front lobby was a mess. The salon floor looked rough around the edges. I couldn't stop thinking about the first school I had visited and the wonderful experience I had there. I finished filling out the form and left with it with the woman at the front desk. Even though my first experience at this school was less than ideal, I still wanted to give it a shot. Maybe I would have better luck when I came back for my appointment.

Fast forward four months after filling out and dropping off the appointment request sheet, I finally got a call from the school's Admissions Leader, asking if I was still interested in attending the school. I couldn't help but laugh when I told her that not only had I filled out the form over four months ago, but had already enrolled and started my esthetics program at another school. Talk about dropping the ball!

The third school I visited was really nice. I loved the location. It was right downtown and was extremely easy to get to on public transportation. It was also pretty close to work. When I dropped in unannounced at this school, they didn't have anyone available to see me right away. They did however schedule a time for me to come back and talk to an Admissions Leader.

When I came back to meet with the Admissions Leader, I was really impressed with the layout of the school. The school had only been open for the past couple of years. The facilities were young, hip, near new and very clean. I also liked that there were a day options, night options, part-time and full-time schedules available for the program. The cost of the overall program was considerably lower than the first school I had visited.

One major red flag that worried me was the passing rate for the State Board Exam was considerably lower than the first school I had visited. In the grand scheme of things, I didn't really care how nice the school looked. It wouldn't do me any good going to a school that couldn't prepare me well enough to pass the State Board Exam. If I couldn't pass the exam, I wouldn't get my license. Not having a license means that I wouldn't be able to work. What would the point of going to school if I couldn't get my license?

I also felt a bit pressured by the Admissions Leader to sign up for the next program session and leave a deposit to save my spot in the class. The first school had not pressured me and had even encouraged me to visit other schools. This school, even though it was really nice, was the exact opposite. I could tell that the Admissions Leader was a bit frustrated that I wanted to take my time and do more research before making my decision. Her frustration really made me feel uncomfortable. It made me question why I would choose to go to a school like this in the first place, even if the tuition was much cheaper than the first school. Sure the location was ideal and the facilities were new, but the low State Board Exam passing rate, the pressure to sign up and even the low tuition all made me second guess the school's program all together.

After I had fully done my own homework and thoroughly researched all of the beauty schools on my list, did I make the decision on which beauty school would be the BEST beauty school for ME. In order to make that decision, I had to go through all of the notes I had taken on each of the schools I had visited and compared them to the list I had created of everything my perfect school would have to offer.

Hourglass Combines High Quality Makeup With Skin Care Technology

Last week, Hourglass Cosmetics stopped by the office for product training on their entire line of products and gifted us all with a little gratis. I scored a Veil Mineral Primer with SPF 15, the Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara and the brand new Film Noir Lash Lacquer.

Hourglass is a Venice, California-based makeup brand that was founded in 2004 by Carisa Jones. Jones has proven herself to be quite the go-getter in the makeup and skin care industry throughout her career. In 1999, Glamour Magazine deemed Jones "the world's youngest beauty-biz veteran." After attending Parsons School of Design, she became one of the original members of Urban Decay's creative team. She quickly discovered that she had a knack for developing beauty products from concept to market.

Carisa Jones eventually realized that there wasn't any sort of high-end, luxury cosmetic brand that was successfully fusing skin care technology with high-quality makeup. Jones wanted to develop a makeup brand that consisted of products that, when used, would allow her to still look like herself, only better. If an hourglass was used to measure the passage of time, wearing Hourglass Cosmetics would help ease the signs of time passing. In 2004, Hourglass Cosmetics was born.

The products in the Hourglass Cosmetics brand are not only beautiful and functional, but have advanced skin care technology within them. Powerful ingredients such as the wrinkle-treating active peptide, Matrixyl, Titanium Dioxide, ProVitamin B5 and Vitamin E inside Hourglass Cosmetics give the skin a luminous glow while helping to fight off the visible signs of aging. Hourglass products not only work to make the skin look good, but they are also good for the skin by being paraben-free, fragrance-free and loaded with antioxidants.

Veil Mineral Primer SPF 15
This is one of Hourglass's best selling products in the entire product line. It's the little primer that could. Not only does this primer prep the skin for a soft and smooth foundation application, but it can also withstand sweat, increases the staying and wearing power of the makeup you wear on top of the primer and provides sun protection. This primer is a mineral-based product that contains naturally derived titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which allows the primer to act as a physical sunscreen. Perfect for sensitive skin types! There's good news for all of us combo and oily skin types out there. The Veil Mineral Primer absorbs excess oil and cuts down shine on the skin, leaving the skin with a nice, matte finish. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way with this product. One pump is more than plenty of product to cover the entire face. This primer is also gluten-free.

Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara
No need to be shy if you are notorious for using two coats of mascara for each application. Thanks to the ProVitamin B5 in the formula, this mascara volumizes, thickens, lengthens, lifts and separates the lashes. Say bye bye to clumping lashes. Dread the inevitable smudging or flaking? The Acacia Senegal Gum inside the mascara's rich formula works to keep the mascara on your lashes instead of on the skin along the lower lash line. Lashes are left feeling conditioned and soft with the use of beeswax and natural vegetable oils. This mascara is also gluten-free.

Film Noir Lash Lacquer
Need to kick up your mascara a notch? Quickly turn your daytime, work-friendly lashes into lashes suited for a happy hour or a night out on the town. The Film Noir Lash Lacquer allows you to fake the false eyelash look without ever having to apply fake eyelashes. Think of Lash Lacquer as a top coat for your lashes. This ultra glossy, deep black formula is designed to be used in ADDITION to your mascara. After applying your mascara, paint on the Lash Lacquer on your lashes for even more length, volume and shine. The Vitamin E in the product's formula leaves the lashes soft. This product does require a bit of finesse and practice when applying so be patient on the first few tries. It can be a little tricky, but the pay off is high.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Beautisol and Beauty Company Facebook Fan Appreciation Party

This past Tuesday, all of the Beauty Company and Beautisol's Facebook fans were invited to the exclusive Fan Appreciation Party at the Beauty Company, located at 2325 Polk Street in San Francisco. Attendees received a complimentary spray tan by the Self Tanning Queen herself, Sinead Norenius along with tons of how-to tips and tricks of sunless tanning. Beauty Company was also kind enough to gift all of us atendees with a goodie bag full of hair care samples.

L-R: Me, Sinead, Jasmine, Krishna & Sara
I opted to not receive a spray tan because I made the mistake of wearing inappropriate sunless tanning clothing-tight jeans. Plus, I already had quite a bit of color on my skin thanks to the extreme sunburn I received over 4th of July weekend. Instead, I sipped on some bubbly and chatted with my beauty blogging ladies Nancy-Lee from fashionCHICsta, Sara from The Makeup Snob, Tashina from Logical Harmony, Jasmine from Beautylish (aka jazziebabycakes on YouTube), Krishna (aka eyeXluvmakeup on YouTube) and of course Sinead, in-between her spray tanning sessions.

Beautylish was also present, handing out the super cute pink Beautylish tee shirts. I took full advantage of the 15% retail discount being offered during the event to all the Facebook Fans by stocking up on OPI nail polish. Beauty Company always has an amazing selection of OPI nail polishes. Who can resist the vibrant colors and sassy names? Beauty Company also has a healthy supply of salon-quality hair products, tools and accessories. Beauty Company even carries the full Dermalogica skin care line for all of you ladies who love Dermalogica just as much as I do!

Me and Nancy-L
I can't wait to go back to Beauty Company with my new OPI polishes and take advantage of their Before 3PM Special Prices. For a limited time, early birds can receive a $30 mani/pedi combo. The early bird special also includes $30 blowouts, $35 men and women's haircut, 30% off of all waxing services and half off a single tanning bed session. When using the Before 3PM Special Prices offer, be sure to mention the Beauty Company blog during checkout. Services must be complete by 3PM, Monday through Friday.

Contact the Beauty Company for further details:

Beauty Company
2325 Polk Street, SF

Visit Beauty Company's website
"Like" Beauty Company on Facebook
Follow Beauty Company on Twitter @beautycompanysf

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's the Last Day to Enter the nEu-tone Giveaway!

TODAY, Friday July 29th is the last day to enter for your chance at winning the full-size SkinAgain's nEu-tone Balancing Serum. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is click HERE to leave a comment, telling me what your favorite acne remedy and/or acne treatment product is and why.
I will post a video on my blog (and on YouTube) hosting the raffle and drawing one lucky entrant's name out of a hat. Today is your LAST CHANCE to enter. Deadline to enter the contest is Friday, July 29th.

The video raffle and announcement of the lucky winner will be posted on my blog (and YouTube) on Monday, August 1st.

Good luck everyone. A huge thank you to SkinAgain for featuring me in their July 2011 Newsletter and for donating such an awesome prize for my first giveaway!!

Get Rich Quick Tip: Always Say Yes!

Yes is always the right answer when you're climbing your way to the top.
One of the most important lessons I learned in Beauty School last year was to always say yes to opportunities that come your way. I remember the day my Learning Leader gave us this Get Rich Quick Tip. It was our second day of school and we were going through our program's itinerary, discussing our classes and the school's policies. Our Learning Leader was very wise to remind us that whatever we put into our time at school is what we would get back. You could do the minimum amount of work and get by or you could do a little extra and get more benefit out of your time and experience in the program. I agreed with her. Shoot, I was already in school. I might as well make the best of it and get the most I could get out of the program while I was there.

The entire time I was in school, I took my Learning Leader's advice to heart and said yes to every single opportunity that came my way. Sign up for the extracurricular makeup class on my two days of the week off from school? Yes, I did that twice. Sign up for the one day Sunday seminar with a skin care company offering training on their entire product line? Yes, I did that. Apply for the Design Team even though I was working two jobs and only had a month left in school? Yes, I did that and was the only estie to make the team. Volunteer to stay for night school once a week just to see more clients and get extra hand-on experience? Yes, I did that for the last two months of my program. Brazillian certification? I went for it. You get the idea.

During the last couple of weeks at school, a placement agency visited our school, recruiting students for a full-time position with a local beauty retailer looking to hire Beauty Product Specialists for the holiday season. It was half way through my program that I discovered how much I loved products and wanted to work towards being a product trainer for a brand. When I heard the recruiters reading off the job description for this position, I told myself, "I can do that." The position was with a company that I loved and respected. Even though it was a temporary position, I knew that there was a chance that I could get in there and work my way up. All I needed was an "in." I applied for the position.

I found out that I had landed the job only an hour after passing my State Board Exam and getting my esthetician license. I started my new job two weeks after getting my license. That was in October of 2010.

During the holiday season, I said yes whenever I was asked to work overtime or stay later than my normally scheduled shift. I ended up sailing through the holiday season with flying colors. I managed to win top sales in the month of December, outshining many of other people who had been working in my department long before I had gotten there. I also had a perfect attendance record, minus the two days I was out due to having surgery.

In April, the company snatched me away from the Temp Agency and made me a bonafide, full-time employee with benefits. In June, my supervisors asked me if I would consider being a part of a special, new program. They considered me a perfect candidate because I was responsible and reliable. The catch was that my start time would be at 5 am, meaning I would have to wake up for work at 3am. I said yes without batting an eyelash.

In July, my supervisors asked me if I would be interested in being promoted to a Team Lead position. This new position would take me off of the phones and put me into a managerial role with more responsibilities. They told me that even though I was the new kid on the block, I was being considered for the promotion because I 1) had continued to do a good job since I started back in October as a temp,  2) was already working the uber early shift that the new Team Lead would be required to work and 3) my perfect attendance record proved that I was responsible and mature enough to take on the position. Of course I told them a big fat YES.

Today, they offered me the Team Lead position and I accepted.

My professional experience is proof that saying yes to opportunities that come your way in life does pay off. This past year has been no easy feat for me. I've had to work extremeley hard every inch along the way. There were times that I wanted to give up. There were times when I cried. There were times when I questioned if what I was doing was going to take me down the right career path. As you can see, all of that hard work IS paying off. I haven't had my esthetician license for a whole year yet and I am already climbing the corporate ladder.

I only hope that my professional experience will inspire you to continue to work hard and say yes to opportunities that come your way. Those opportunities might not fit so perfectly into your schedule or even be glamorous, but you never know where one of those opportunities might take you. All you have to do is say yes.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Meet Hollywood's Brow and Eye Expert, Anastasia Soares

Whenever I think of Hollywood brows, the first name that comes to mind is Anastasia. Anastasia Soares, pronounced as On-A-Stah-See-Ah, has managed to become Hollywood's Brow and Eye Expert. Her technical and artistic ability to shape brows and enhance the eye area has helped her to earn an iconic status within the beauty industry.

Anastasia began her professional career as a licensed esthetician in Romania. Early on in her career, Anastasia developed her precise brow shaping technique coupled with her artistic streak. The Romanian esthetician moved with her family to California where she worked as an esthetician in many well-respected beauty salons in Beverly Hills. Her hard work and dedication to her craft allowed her to develop a loyal clientele along the way. In 1997, Anastasia opened her first, full service beauty salon in Beverly Hills on Bedford Drive. In 2010, she opened her second salon in Brentwood, California.

During this time, Anastasia's clientele grew into something similar to a Hollywood A-List party invitation that included many popular celebrities such as Oprah, Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, Jada Pinkett Smith, Lara Flynn Boyle, Penelope Cruz and Sharon Stone. Anastasia also branched out her brow services outside of her own salons and into the form of Anastasia Brow Studios which now exist at select Nordstroms and two New York City Sephora retail store locations, as well as a few locations internationally. The Hollywood Brow and Eye Expert has even developed her own exclusive brow, skin care and makeup product line that is available for purchase at her salons, on her website and in select retailers such as Sephora, Nordstroms and Ulta.

Anastasia is dedicated to the pursuit of balanced natural beauty through the use of innovative ingredients and techniques.

"Beauty Express" brow-kit instructional video from Anastasia Beverly Hills on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Target's Skin Care Advisor

Target is hands-down one of my favorite stores on the planet. What's there not to love about Target? They have EVERYTHING! I can walk into Target for cat food and come out with a cute pair of flats, nail polish and a super cute shower curtain.

When I originally wandered into Target over the weekend, I decided against grabbing a cart. I was in town visiting for the weekend. All I had with me was a backpack. I didn't have room in my carry-home luggage to let myself get crazy. By the time I had reached the register, I had three pairs of shoes (granted, one of those pairs was for my sister), two pairs of shoe inserts, a pumice stone and face wash. So much for holding myself back. The shoes were all on sale. I couldn't help myself.

Megan giving the Skin Care Advisor a whirl
In the Beauty Department, my sister and I stumbled upon the Skin Care Advisor.  The Skin Care Advisor is an electronic touch-screen computer that makes customized product suggestions from five different brands. Product suggestions are based off of the information the user provides during their electronic skin care consultation.

The five brands to choose from are: Aveeno, Garnier, Loreal, Olay and Neutrogena. Obviously these brands have paid Target a little something-something to be a part of the Skin Care Advisor program. If you use any of these brands or are looking to use products from any of these brands, the Skin Care Advisor can help you narrow down your selection of products based on your own skin type and skin concerns. It's a great marketing tool. This program probably helps generate interest of new consumers who have never used these brands before. It's also a pretty nifty, self-help tool for consumers who already are familiar with and use these particular brands as well.

Here is how it works:

1. Choose one of the following brands: Aveeno, Garnier, Loreal, Olay or Neutrogena.
2. Choose your age range.
3. Rate your own skin care routine. It can be your current routine or the new one you want to develop.
4. Rate the likeliness or unlikeliness of your skin being irritated by a product.
5. Choose your primary skin concern.
6. Choose your secondary skin concern.
7. Brand specific product recommendations are then shown based on your electronic skin care consultation.

Don't have a Target store near you? No problem. The Target Skin Care Advisor system is online and is free to use. Check it out here:

Target's Beauty-Skin Care Advisor

Monday, July 25, 2011

Naturally Sephora: What Natural Means to Sephora

When it comes to skin care and makeup products, the word natural is subject to interpretation. How one brand defines natural can be something completely different for another brand. Unlike the term organic, natural is not regulated in any way. Product marketing campaigns have gotten pretty clever in how they use the word natural on product labels, ingredients listings and in the product names themselves. As you can imagine, this could be quite confusing for consumers.

What does it mean when something is labeled natural anyway? Unfortunately because there isn't any sort of regulation around the use of the term, it doesn't really mean anything. This is mainly due to the fact that the skin care and beauty industry as a whole hasn't clearly defined what natural means. Natural means something different to everybody.

Even though there isn't any sort of regulation for the use of the word natural, consumers are finding it extremely helpful when big corporations clearly define what a natural product means to them and categorizes their products as such. Naturally Sephora is a special category of products that consist of Sephora-approved natural products available both online at and in Sephora retail store locations.

How does Sephora define natural? Natural products are defined by certain ingredients the products are formulated with or without. Sephora-approved natural products are formulated with high concentrations of antioxidants, botanicals, essential oils, fruit extracts, marine bioactives, minerals and vitamins. Sephora-approved natural products are also formulated to exclude six out of the following eight ingredients: GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), parabens, petrochemicals, phthalates, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes and triclosan. The reason why Sephora claims that only six out of these eight ingredients are excluded in order to be considered natural is because there isn't an equally, effective, natural alternative ingredient available for replacement.

Keep in mind that the term natural is not regulated in any sort of way. Every single brand and corporation has its own definition of what they consider to be natural product. Naturally Sephora labeled products are a great starting point for consumer research, but they are certainly not the only definition of what natural products should be. The Sephora green label is just one company's interpretation.

Without any sort of regulation on the term, it's ultimately up to you, the consumer, to define what being natural means to you. Also, it's important to remember that just because something is labeled as natural or organic, doesn't necessarily mean it's any better for your skin or any more effective at addressing your specific skin conditions. To make an educated decision on which products are best for you, always do your homework. Research. Consult with your Dermatologist and Esthetician. Know your ingredients. Ask questions. Read product labels.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Ingredients: What is Titanium Dioxide?

image courtesy of
When we think of titanium dioxide, we usually think of being out in the sunshine. Have you ever seen a lifeguard sporting an all-white nose? That's titanium dioxide. According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, titanium dioxide is defined as being a covering and tinting powder of any white pigment used in bath powders, nail whites, depilatories, eye liners, white eye shadows, antiperspirants, face powders, protective creams, liquid powders, lipsticks, hand lotions and nail polish.

Technically, titanium dioxide is what gives cosmetics a white color. It's used in a wide variety of makeup products, daytime moisturizers and sunscreen. Titanium dioxide is the non-chemical ingredient that blocks or deflects UV rays. A lot of people associate titanium dioxide with sunblock because it sits on the skin's surface and "blocks" out UV rays. Keep in mind that there isn't a product on the market that can block out 100% of all UVA and UVB rays. In reality, sunblock doesn't really exist. The closest thing to a sunblock would be a physical sunscreen that has titanium dioxide in it.

Physical sunscreens that contain titanium dioxide are great for sensitive skin types. These types of products aren't absorbed into the skin like chemical sunscreens are. This is why physical sunscreens aren't as irritating as chemical sunscreens can be.

The drawbacks to physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide is that they are harder to blend onto the surface of the skin, often leaving a white hue on the surface of the skin. They can also be responsible for mild breakouts. If you are prone to breaking out using mineral makeup, physical sunscreen with titanium dioxide may break out your skin.

There are a wide variety of sunscreen products, in many different price ranges, that contain titanium dioxide. In the drugstore looking for something under the $15 price range? Look for Aveeno's Natural Protection Sunblock Lotion with SPF 30 or Neutrogena's Sensitive Skin Sunblock Lotion SPF 60+. If you are looking for something with a higher percentage of titanium dioxide, higher quality ingredients such as Aloe Vera Extract, Green Tea Extract or hyaluronic acid and don't mind spending a few extra dollars, look for Bare Escentuals SPF 30 Natural Sunscreen (comes in a convenient powder form) and LaVanila The Healthy Sun Screen SPF 40 Face Cream.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gratis: Brazilian Peel

I could hardly contain my excitement this morning when I came into the office for work. There, sitting on my desk was a bright, sealed gift bag. Inside was a full-size Brazilian Peel Clear Acne Peel Kit along with one application of the original Brazilian Peel. The kit contains four weekly acne peels along with 30 daily acne control booster pads. The pads are designed to be used as a daily treatment on the days you don't use the peel. This is the first time I have ever said this, but I am kind of looking forward to my next breakout.

Thanks Brazilian Peel! I've heard nothing but amazing reviews on these products. I can't wait to try them out for myself.

Happy Birthday Blog!

Photo: Jessica Diamond
July marks the one-year anniversary of the creation of my blog, It's hard to imagine that one year ago I was right smack in the middle of my full-time esthetician program at SFIEC during the day and working two bartending jobs at night.

When I first created my blog, I imagined it to be a way for me to chronicle all of my school experiences in detail and then have it follow me into my professional life after graduation and getting my license. I didn't realize how intense my 600-hour esthetic program would be. My schedule consisted of being in school Tuesday through Friday, 8:30am until 4:30pm. Then on Saturday from 9am-5pm. Three of those weekdays, I would literally punch out my time card from school, run out the door to catch a cab and be working behind the bar at 4:45pm. On Friday night, I would work at the other bar from 7pm until 2am. On Saturdays, I would work from 10pm until 5am. Needless to say, I was pretty much a zombie on Sunday and Monday, but those were the only days I had to do my homework.

I didn't always have my Sundays and Mondays free either. Anytime there was an extra makeup class or skin care line training that came to school, I was there. Plus, on Thursday nights, I volunteered to come into night school just so I could get extra practice working on more clients. Thinking back on my crazy, hectic schedule, it amazes me that I made it through it one piece. That isn't of course without a minor meltdown here or there, but I still made it to the end.

With all the time I was spending at school and work, I had very little time to post anything in my blog. It's a good thing that I am such a detailed note taker. I have a thick binder dedicated to all of my class lectures as well as all of the visits to IDI we made during the program. I'm constantly referring back to my notes and lectures whenever I research anything for my blog.

I originally thought my life would slow down after I graduated. It didn't. Lucky for me, an opportunity presented itself to me a month before graduation. On the day I received my license was the same day I got hired for the job I am still working at today. I still work two jobs. I have my full-time, day job working as a Beauty Product Specialist in the skin care/makeup industry. I also have my part-time night job at the restaurant I've been working at for the past two and a half years. I still manage to squeeze time out of the day to write in my blog.

This blog marks the transition I've been making from the restaurant and bar industry to the skin care industry. As you can see, it's been no easy feat. There is a lot of hard work that goes into working your way up in an industry that you have to start out from scratch in. Nothing worth having is ever easy. Besides, a little hard work never hurt anybody either. It just makes us stronger and appreciates the things we do have.

Happy birthday blog. As I continue to grow in my new industry, so will my blog. I hope you guys are along for the ride. Here's to many more years!

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What does "organic" mean?

USDA Organic label means it's the real deal
Terms like organic and natural are popular buzzwords in the skin care industry. Everywhere you look these days, skin care companies are developing natural lines or claiming that they use organic ingredients. Now more than ever, consumers are searching for products that contain less chemicals and have more natural or organic ingredients. But just what does it mean when something is considered natural or organic? The biggest difference between natural and organic is government regulation. Natural product are not regulated in any sort of way. If a product is labeled organic, there are specific government regulations on how the ingredients are grown and processed, where the term organic can be placed on the label and how it's presented on the product.

Organic refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic ingredients are grown and processed according to strict standards governed by a third-party certifier who annually inspects the farms and facilities in which the ingredients are grown and processed. In order for an ingredient to be considered organic, the farm growing the ingredients must maintain a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic materials, pesticides or fertilizers.

The National Organic Program regulates organic ingredients used for personal care products. According to the NOP, products containing the USDA organic seal must be in compliance with US organic law. This means that you can see USDA organic certified products labeled in four different levels of USDA Organic certification:

100% Organic- This is the real deal. This means that 100% of the product is considered and labeled organic by the USDA. The use of the USDA Organic label is optional, but it's more than likely proudly displayed on the front of the product's label.

Organic-This means that 95% of the ingredients in the product are considered and labeled organic by the USDA. Just like with 100% Organic products, the use of the USDA Organic label is optional, but it's more than likely proudly displayed on the front of the product's label.

Made With Organic Ingredients-This means that at least 70% of the ingredients in the product are considered and labeled organic. These products cannot bear the USDA Organic label, but they can proudly state on the front of the label that the product is made with organic ingredients.

Less Than 70% Organic Ingredients-The only place on the label that can state that ingredients are organic are on the back of the label in the product's ingredients listing. These products cannot bear the USDA Organic label.

If you don't see any of the four different levels of USDA Organic certification as listed above on a product label, then you can safely assume that the product in question is not recognized by the United States government as a certified organic product.

Even though the NOP can legally impose fines on products that are dishonestly labeled organic up to $11,000 per violation, there are still plenty of companies out there who incorrectly label their products organic. It's a Buyer Beware market. Don't assume that just because a product is labeled organic or the name of the product contains the word "organic" that the product is going to be a certified organic product using certified organic ingredients. Do your homework and research before purchasing organic products. Read product labels. Read ingredients listings. Check with groups such as the Organic Trade Association for a list of certified organic brands and companies.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What does "natural" mean?

What does natural mean to you?
The beauty industry can be a fun and exciting place for many consumers. Unfortunately, it can also be confusing and misleading. With companies throwing around so many buzzwords these days, it's now harder than ever for consumers to be able to decipher which products and ingredients are going to be effective and which products are just over hyped garbage. Many brands are doing a better job these days providing consumers with information on what exactly is in their products and what their products will do for consumers. Sometimes too much information can be just as bad as not having enough information. At the end of the day, it's still ultimately up to the consumer to read through all of the information that is provided and make informed choices based on their own needs, concerns and conditions.

Natural is a buzzword that is constantly being thrown around the beauty industry and slapped on product labels. Many consumers see the word "natural" and assume that the product must be better in quality and healthier to use than its synthetic counterparts. Better than what exactly? What does natural really mean in terms of beauty, makeup or skin care products?

The first question consumers should be asking themselves is "What does natural mean to you?" When many consumers think of natural, they think of herbs, roots, plants, botanicals, flowers, essentials oils-any sort of product that was created in nature and not superficially made in a lab. Some people assume that if something is made in a lab then it's full of chemicals and therefore not healthy to use on their skin. There are a lot of natural ingredients that are amazing for the skin. There are also lots of other natural ingredients like poisonous plants, mold, oil, petroleum and anything animal-based, which are all considered natural. Just because an ingredient is natural doesn't mean that it's healthy or even safe enough to rub all over the skin.

In the beauty industry, there isn't a true definition as to what natural really means. There isn't any sort of regulation on products that are labeled natural. What natural means to one brand, might mean something completely different to another. The word natural is really meaningless when it comes to product labels.

Just because a product is labeled natural, doesn't necessarily mean that it's better or good for your specific beauty needs, concerns or skin condition. The more detailed definition you have for what natural means to you, the better your chances for finding the right product. If there is a specific skin condition you are trying to treat or a particular ingredient you are looking to have in the products you use or even an ingredient you want to avoid, it's important to do your homework ahead of time. Research. Consult with your Dermatologist and Esthetician. Know your ingredients. Ask questions. Read product labels.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bangin Beauty Bargain Programs

Being beautiful isn't cheap. Don't I know it! It's expensive and time consuming. I wish I could roll out of bed and head out for the day. Unfortunately, I can't leave the house with at least a minimal amount of prepping-a shower, slather on a few skin care products here and there, a touch of makeup and a quick brush of the hair-at the very least. Normally, it's at least an hour process of primping and prepping before I can get myself out of the door. I don't even want to know the number of products I use during that time frame.

All of these products come with a price. Whether you're shopping for your beauty products at a drug store, department store makeup counter, high end retailer or from the brand itself, the prices for these products add up quick. One way or another, we all have to shop for the products we each use in our own beautification process. Wouldn't it be nice if we could be rewarded to do so? Discounts, free samples or special promotions anyone?

This week's cheap beauty tip of the week is for all of my beauty babes and boys out there who are looking for ways to save a few dollars and score free beauty products while fueling your makeup and/or skin care product addiction:

Cheap Beauty Tip of the Week: Bangin Beauty Bargain Programs

If you take advantage of any one of these free Beauty Bargain Programs, the retail therapy hangover might not end up being so bad. Your wallet might even thank me.

Patented in Japan, Exclusive in the US: Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara

Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara
My crazy work schedule consists of a full-time day job that requires me to get up at 3am and a part-time night job that doesn't get me home and into bed until after 10pm. With an insane schedule like that, who has time to fuss with makeup throughout the day? I have to be sure that whatever makeup I put on in the morning is going to withstand my entire, busy workday and night.

I came into the office one morning to find a brand new tube of Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara sitting on my desk. Yay for gratis!! I have been a Diorshow ride-or-die mascara user for years now. Up until last year, Diorshow mascara was the only thing I went into Sephora to buy. So it's hard for me to give up my daily go-to mascara and try something new because I know that it works for me and I love the results. This is the exact reason why the Fairydrops mascara sat in my personal gratis box for a couple of months after receiving it. I was scared to take a chance on a new mascara.

I am religious about changing my mascara every three months. When the time came for me to replace my old tube, I realized that I was out. I forgot about how I had given my backup tube of Diorshow to my little sister the last time she was over. Even though I was without a new tube of Diorshow, I did have a brand new tube of Fairydrops sitting in my gratis box. I figured if there was ever a good time to take a chance on a new mascara, this was it.

The unique mascara wand is patented in Japan
The Fairydrops Scandal Queen Mascara has a formula blended with fiber that makes it volumizing and water and sweat resistant. The unique brush applicator is patented in Japan and is designed for an easy application of those small, hard-to-reach lashes. It sounded good in theory, but would it work for me?

Turns out that the unique mascara wand really did make for an easy application. I am notorious for getting mascara all over the place whenever I am applying it to my lashes. The curved brush applicator made it really easy to apply the mascara to both my top and bottom lashes without making a mess. I also loved the mascara's thick formula. I could have easily gotten away with one coat, but two coats really did the trick. Lots of volume. Lots of length.

The real test would be how my lashes looked at the end of the night. I was pretty happy with how my lashes looked when I left for work in the morning, but I would I still be just as happy once I got home that evening? I didn't experience any type of smudging or flaking throughout the day. The mascara did a great job of staying on my lashes and did not flake or wear off on the skin underneath my lower lash line. In fact, the Fairydrops mascara had done such a good job of staying on my lashes that getting the product off at the end of the night REQUIRED a double cleanse. How's that for staying power?

I found the more I used Fairydrops, the more I liked it. I really loved how easy it was to put the mascara on thanks to the patented brush. I really appreciated the product's staying power the entire time it was on my lashes. Even though I am now stocked up once again with Diorshow thanks to the brand's recent visit to our office, I wouldn't mind stocking up on Fairydrops mascara in the future, once my Diorshow mascara runs out.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trying a New Nighttime Routine With Miracle Worker

I've been sitting with Philosophy's Miracle Worker Set in my gratis box for awhile now. I have been wanting to use it, but just didn't know how I wanted to go about using it. The Miracle Worker Set contains the Miracle Worker Anti-Aging Retinoid Solution, Retinoid Pads, Anti-Aging Concentrate and the Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer. The Retinoid Solution and Pads really caught my attention because I have been wanting to introduce a retinoid nighttime treatment to my routine. Retinoids are known to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and also address the issue of skin discoloration (I have hyperpigmentation thanks to sun damage) and minimize pore size.

Tonight is Day One of me using the Philosophy Miracle Worker set. First step, a double cleanse. For the first cleanse, I used the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil to breakup all of the makeup off of my face. On the second cleanse, I used my all-time favorite foaming cleanser, Dermalogica's Special Cleansing Gel. Second step, I applied a thin layer of the Anti-Aging Concentrate all over my freshly cleansed skin. I gave the concentrate a few moments to sink in. Third step, I applied the Miracle Worker Anti-Aging Retinoid Solution soaked pad all over my face. I let the product sit on my skin for a good five minutes. I wanted to make sure that the product had enough time to absorb into my skin before applying a moisturizer. For the final step, instead of using the Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer, I opted for something different. I used Dior's Skin Perfect Pore Refining Perfecting Moisturizer because it's a lightweight formula, rich in hyaluronic acid and is extremely hydrating. I didn't want something really heavy sitting on my face over night.

Anytime you use a form of retinol, it can be very drying on the face. Even though the Miraculous Anti-Aging Moisturizer is designed to be used with the other items in the Miracle Worker set, I wanted to bump up the hydration levels on my skin. The Dior Moisturizer is lightweight and is quite the beast when it comes to hydrating the skin. Plus, call me crazy, but I love cherry picking my products. Who says you have to use all of the same products made by one brand? Customizing your own skin care routine based on your own skin needs is half the beauty fun.

I'm excited to try something new. I'll be sure to keep you updated on my progress with this new nighttime skin care routine.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm the Guest Blogger for SkinAgain's July 2011 Newsletter

I was very excited when SkinAgain contacted me last month, asking me to be a guest blogger for the SkinAgain July 2011 newsletter. For this feature, the focus was acne. My article featured in the newsletter, The Real Deal With Acne, defines what acne is, talks about what really causes acne, acne triggers, offers advice on how prevent acne before it has a chance to reach the surface of the skin and suggests ingredients to look for in acne spot treatments.

As a way to celebrate my feature in the SkinAgain July 2011 newsletter, SkinAgain has been extremely generous by donating a full-size (3.3 oz) nEu-tone Balancing Serum for me to give away to one lucky reader. Deadline to enter the giveaway is Friday, July 29th. Be sure to visit the My First Giveaway: SkinAgain's nEu-tone Balancing Serum post for details regarding the giveaway.

Thanks for all of the continued support you guys. I look forward to doing many more features like this in the near future. I'll be sure to keep you updated on all of my progress.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 15, 2011

What's the BEST (insert cosmetic or skin care item here) ?
As a Beauty Product Specialist by day, I receive countless calls each day regarding a wide variety of beauty concerns. Some clients can't find what they are looking for on our website and need a little guidance navigating the site. Other clients might have questions about how to use the products they've already purchased. Then there are plenty of clients who call in seeking advice on which products they should purchase.

When clients call in asking for product recommendations, they generally start off the conversation by asking what's best. "What's the best foundation that you carry?" "What's the best concealer to use?" "What is the best sunless tanner available?" While these are all very valid questions, one important thing should be established before answering any one of these questions. What makes any given product the best for the CLIENT?

The term "best" is relative. I know what I like. I know what I don't like. What makes one product the best to one person might make it the worse thing ever to another. Clients sometimes ask for product recommendations based on what the top selling products are. It's kind of like a majority rules mentality. For these clients, I refer them to individual product reviews that have been written by other clients and posted on our website. For clients not necessarily looking for a product that outsells all of the others, I find that I have to always ask them to define what "best" means to them. It could be price, color availability, specific ingredients in or not in the product, whether its specifically designed for their skin tone/condition/type, the sky's the limit. But how am I going to know that I am truly taking care of that customer without seeking this information first? This is why I find it so incredibly important to ask a client what exactly it is that they are looking for and what they are hoping to achieve with the product before making any recommendations.

It's perfectly natural and acceptable to ask someone for advice on which products or brands to use before buying a product, whether we ask our own friends and family or if we call to speak to a Beauty Product Specialist. Before you ask for advice, ask yourself first what makes a product "the best" for you. Once you can clearly define what you think makes a product the perfect product for you, you will not only narrow down your search, but you will get better advice and product recommendations from the person you seek advice from.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My First Giveaway: SkinAgain's nEu-tone Balancing Serum

I am so excited to announce my first-ever giveaway on my blog. This month, I am being featured as SkinAgain's first guest blogger for their July Newsletter. As soon as the newsletter is out, I will post a link to the newsletter here in my blog for all of you to check out.

To celebrate my feature, SkinAgain has been kind enough to donate a FULL-SIZE (3.3 oz) nEu-tone Balancing Serum. To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment here telling me what your favorite acne remedy and/or acne treatment product is and why.

I will post a video on my blog (and on YouTube) hostessing the raffle and drawing one lucky entrant's name out of a hat. Deadline to enter the contest is Friday, July 29th. The video raffle and announcement of the lucky winner will be posted on my blog (and YouTube) on Monday, August 1st.

The nEu-tone Balancing Serum bumps up hydration levels on the skin in a fast absorbing formula that doesn't leave the skin feeling oily or greasy. It's a perfect, all-natural treatment specifically designed for skin types that suffer from acne, eczema, psoriasis or rosacea. Apply this product after cleansing the skin to help treat acne and soothe irritating, itchy patches of skin caused by eczema and psoriasis. This product helps to heal the skin by using natural ingredients like Calendula Flower Extract (helps reduce inflammation), Burdock Root (is a natural pain reliever and blood purifier), Chamomile Flower Extract (acts as a antibacterial and antiseptic treatment) and Green Tea Leaf Extract (helps to neutralize the spread of free radicals.)

Click HERE to enter the SkinAgain nEu-tone Healing Serum giveaway.

Good luck!!

Josie Maran: Not Just a Pretty Face

Actress. Supermodel. A luxury skin care and makeup line with a conscience. Is there anything that Josie Maran can't do? I remember seeing Josie Maran in various Maybelline ads featured in Seventeen Magazine, back in high school. When I heard that Josie Maran had her own makeup and skin care line, I couldn't help but ask myself what does a supermodel and actress know about having her own skin care or makeup line? Turns out Josie isn't just a pretty face after all.

Josie started modeling at an early age. Even though people told her that it couldn't be done, she always knew in the back of her mind that there was a better way to make pigment-rich, sophisticated cosmetics and effective, natural skin care products that were not only safe for the earth, but beneficial and nourishing for the skin. Her can-do attitude eventually lead Josie to develop her own line of makeup and skin care products: a luxury product line that is also eco-friendly and features natural and organic ingredients.

All of Josie Maran's products are famous for being infused with 100% natural argan oil. My personal favorite product so far in the Josie Maran line is the Argan Cleansing Oil. It's a 100% natural Argan-infused cleansing oil that not only cleanses the skin, but also removes makeup and acts as an anti-aging moisturizing treatment. What I love about the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil is that it is gentle, moisturizing and effectively removes the toughest of the tough long-wearing makeup.

Just add three to four pumps of the Argan Cleansing Oil to the palm of your hand and apply to dry skin. Add a little lukewarm water to create a rich, milky paste and rinse completely. Gently pat dry with a towel. Not only does the Argan Cleansing Oil smell heavenly with its light, natural citrus scent, but it also thoroughly cleanses the skin without leaving a tight feeling behind. If you are a firm believer in the double-cleanse, Josie Maran's Argan Cleansing Oil is the perfect choice for a first cleanse because it breaks up makeup and removes debris from the face so effectively. If you opt to include a double cleanse in your skin care routine, you can follow up the Cleansing Oil with a facial cleanser that is designed specifically for your own skin type and/or skin condition. The Argan Cleansing Oil is good for all skin types. You can even use the Argan Cleansing Oil with your Clarisonic Skin Care Brush for extra cleansing and exfoliation action.

I also love that this product is free of artificial fragrances, parabens, petrochemicals and toxic ingredients. It's not tested on animals. Josie Maran's Cleansing Oil is also a certified vegan product because it does not contain beeswax.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Merci Beaucoup Dior!

Dior gratis for days!!
There are quite a few things that rock about my day job. One of them are the brand trainings. Brand trainings give us a chance to learn about a specific brand inside and out, explore the entire product line and see sneak previews of new products to come for the upcoming seasons. With most brand trainings (and thanks to the uber generosity of the brands), it also means that we receive gratis. The philosophy behind gratis is how can you sell a product if you've never even tried it? I drink to that philosophy!
So today was a pretty amazing day at work. Dior paid our office a visit for an hour-long brand training. Dior also left us all massive amounts of gratis. It was like Christmas in July. For a beauty/makeup/skin care junkie like me, gratis is the next best thing to a catered lunch. I should also mention that we even got one of those too. I am so excited to try all of the wonderful and amazing Dior products I received in my gratis bag today.
Merci Beaucoup Dior!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What's the Deal with Talc?

Talc in its purest form, Magnesium Silicate Hydroxide
A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients defines talc, in its purest form, as being Magnesium Silicate Hydroxide, otherwise known as French Chalk. Cosmetic-grade talc is finely powdered Magnesium Silicate Hydroxide. There are sometimes small traces of other powders like boric acid or zinc oxide added with talc when its used as a coloring ingredient.

Talc can be found in many different types of cosmetics and beauty products. It can be used as an absorbant, an anti-caking agent, to improve the feel of a product, a color additive or as an inactive, filler ingredient in a product. Talc can also be found in baby and bath powders, face powders, eye shadows, liquid powders, protective creams, face masks, foundation cake makeup, skin freshners, foot powders and face creams. The most common use for Talc in cosmetic products such as powders and creams is to give the product a slippery sensation.

Cosmetic-grade talc can be found in loose powders
What's the deal with talc? If it's so common in may of the cosmetic and beauty products on the market, why are some consumers concerned when they see talc in the product's ingredients listing? Some consumers believe that talc contains asbestos, which is a known carcinogenic that causes cancer. Some also believe that talc has negative effects on the respiratory system when its inhaled.

Does talc contain asbestos fibers? is the trade association founded in 1894 that represents over 600 cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance manufacturers, distributors and suppliers in the United States and globally. This council works with the FDA to help standardize ingredient labeling on products. They share their main goal with the FDA, consumer safety. According to, cosmetic-grade talc does not contain asbestos of any sort. The proof? Producers of cosmetic-grade talc have established purity specifications using x-ray diffraction and optical and electron microscopy to test their results. This specialized testing system helps to ensure that their product, no matter how small of an amount, does not contain any sort of abestos.

Does talc have a negative effect on the respiratory system when inhaled?

Not with cosmetic-grade talc it doesn't. Why? Cosmetic-grade talc that is found in loose powder products within the United States is milled to a relatively large, non-respirable particle size. According to, studies have shown that the lungs suffer more of a particle overload from other factors in the environment than they do from inhaling talc directly.

Even though studies and tests show that cosmetic-grade talc has not been proven to contain asbestos and perfectly is safe to use in cosmetic and beauty products, some consumers are still concerned or have even expressed a sensitivity to the ingredient. Many cosmetic and beauty companies have recognized the consumers concern for having talc in their products and have responded to that concern by offering a number of different products on the market that are free of talc.

Many different brands on like Peter Thomas Roth, Philosophy, Cover FX, Make Up For Ever, Smashbox, TheBalm, Laura Mercier, Clinique, Hourglass, Cake Beauty, Ultraflesh and the Sephora Collection offer a wide variety of mineral loose and pressed powders, bronzers, mineral powder sunscreen, loose setting powders and body powders that are talc-free.