Monday, March 23, 2009

Reader Question: Disposing of Paraben Products

I had a reader ask what she should do with all of the Paraben-filled products she was cleaning out of her life. I think this is a question that leaves most of us scratching our heads. We definitely don't want to use any more of them, but what are you going to do with all this stuff?

Here are a few suggestions and recommendations. While we have made our own informed decisions not to use products with Parabens, most people really don't care what is in their products.

Sell: I had several new, very nice gift sets from Bath & Body Works and The Body Shop. I sold them on Craig's List to someone who was thrilled to get them. She was happy and I used the money to buy new Paraben Free products.

Donate: The Red Cross, Homeless Shelters, Women's Shelters, etc. They are always glad to receive health and beauty products.

Swap: I wouldn't recommend donating used makeup (it will probably be thrown out), but you can trade out for what you want on Makeup Alley.

Discard: If you have an item that you can't donate or swap and it is in a bottle that can be recycled, empty out the contents into some newspaper and put in the trash. Don't put anything down the sink, the chemicals will go into drinking water and out into the ocean. Keep the impact as small as possible.

Mascara Find: Maybelline Stiletto

It was a day of Paraben Free discovery for me. Saw the new Maybelline Stiletto mascara hanging on a display at Walgreens. Around $8, so a bit pricey for drugstore mascara, but still a big surprise. Could Maybelline finally be seeing the Paraben Free light?

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Paraffin, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Cera Carnauba (Carnauba Wax), Acacia Senegal, Gum, Acrylates Copolymer, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, PEG/PPG 17/18 Dimethicone, Steareth 20, Phenethyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Sodium Polymethacrylate, Hydrogenated Jojoba Oil, Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Simethicone, Rayon, Disodium EDTA, Silica, Panthenol, Hydrolyzed Silk, May Contain (+/-): CI 77499, CI 77491, CI 77492 (Iron Oxides), CI 77891 (Titanium Dioxide), Mica, CI 75470 (Carmine), CI 77288 (Chromium Oxide Greens), CI 77289 (Chromium Hydroxide Green), Titanium Dioxide, CI 77742 (Manganese Violet), CI 77007 (Ultramarines), CI 77510 (Ferric Ferrocyanide)

Walgreens Find: Esencia Shampoo & Conditioner

I swung by Walgreens on my way home after work to see if they had anything new. I ran across the Esencia line of products by Samy. I can't find the ingredients listing online, but what I read on the bottle looked good. Walgreen's in-store has the shampoo and conditioner for $7.99 with a 'Try Me Free' rebate attached. It will be around $1 after taxes and stamp. Worth a shot.

• sulfate free
• paraben free
• phthalate Free
• no artificial colors
• natural extracts
• 100% vegan
• certified organic ingredients
• no animal testing
• salon performance

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Reader Question: Why do I itch when using mineral makeup?

This one came in as a comment post. Itchy skin and mineral makeup - Everyday Minerals & Bare Minerals.

I have been using e.m. samples for a while now and they just started itching last week. My face only itches for the first hour or two after I put them on. The only thing that has changed is that I got new samples. I had never tried original glo. That's what I'm trying now and I think that is what's itching. I tried Bare Mineral samples a month ago and had no trouble at all, however when I tried my sister's b.e. a year ago it really made me itch. I'm combo/acne prone and sensitive. Any ideas?

The same thing happened to me with Everyday Minerals. I would put on Everyday Minerals and then itch for about an hour. It was worse if I sweated a bit - awful, prickly feeling. I'm convinced it was because earlier versions of the EM products contained Bismuth. The Bismuth is used to give mineral makeup it's 'glow' or sheen. I have a feeling the same is true in your case as well. Some people have a very bad reaction to Bismuth in makeup products, especially those of us who have sensitive skin.

Bare Minerals contains Bismuth and their finishing powder contains Zea Mays (corn starch), another irritant for sensitive skin. Everyday Minerals contains Zea Mays. I would recommend looking for products without these ingredients.

Everyday Minerals Ingredients
Bare Minerals Ingredients

  • Always wash your makeup brushes at least once a week using mild castille soap.
  • Always wash your brushes when you change makeup brands.
  • Evaluate the brushes you are using. Are they soft or do they scratch when you apply makeup? There are many quality, low cost brushes out there. Try some.

Almay Pure Blends Bonus Packs

Here is a pic I took while at Tarjet from an earlier post. This is an end cap display. Almay Pure Blends are on sale and every product has a bonus product attached. Foundation is $9.99 and comes with a free lip gloss attached. Good time to give these a try.

Previous Almay post.

Haul: Sonia Kashuk Brush

I was in Tarjet Friday specifically to buy Sonia Kashuk's version of the MAC #187 skunk brush. I ended up walking out with a synthetic flat blusher brush. I couldn't help it! I had the skunk brush ($12.99) in my hand but Target has a display where you can touch samples of some of the other brushes and I kept petting them.

The flat blusher brush ($14.99) is intended for cream blush but I want to use it for my mineral makeup. The head is small and dense and incredibly soft. I couldn't believe anything synthetic could be so soft. I took it out of the plastic case and petted on it during the drive home. So soft. I washed it with my castille soap cleanser and am waiting for it to dry to so I can use and review. It didn't shed a whisker during washing. It is extremely thick and will take longer to dry than your other brushes.

All Sonia's brushes appear to be 10% this week at Target, so now would be a good time to drop by and pet a few for yourself. Here is the selection available online; skunk brush and some others are available instore only. Sonia Kashuk brushes.

Bare Minerals - Free Sample + Brush

Bare Escentuals - Bare Minerals is 'giving away' a 10-day sampler of their product with brush. Free in store or $3.95 shipping online.

Online link

Friday, March 6, 2009

Haul: MAC Brush Collection

{photo courtesy of Musings of a Muse}

I bet you never thought you would ever hear me utter the words 'MAC Haul' now, did you? Now, I would never buy their makeup because it is full of Parabens, but I have heard such good things about their brushes over the years, I figured I would give them a shot.

I purchased the Adoring Carmine Face set (no longer available) at Dillard's after Christmas sale for $18. They retail for around $50, so I thought it was a steal.

These are special smaller versions of regular sized MAC brushes that are only available during the holidays. I have to say that I was impressed with the packaging, carrying case and the overall beauty of the brush handles. It's a lovely color.

Included are Special Edition versions of the 187 (duo fiber), 190 (foundation brush), 168 (angled contour) and 194 (concealer).

I washed them and starting using them a couple weeks ago (yes, I'm slow). I was surprised at how many hairs came out of the 187 (known as the skunk brush) when I washed it. The rest had little to no shedding.

I've been using Loew Cornell Maxine's Mop artists brushes for about six months now and am really impressed with the quality. I wash them every week and my eyeshadow brush daily. No shedding and they look new. I wanted to put that out there so you know the quality level I am accustomed to using.

I can't believe a company as lauded as MAC would sell customers such a collection of crap brushes. I wish I could get my $18 back. The 187 is a huge disappointment and not a fan of the 168 either. The others are meh, I've bought similar quality brushes at Big Lots.

The first time I used the 187 was to stipple wet foundation. I kept pulling brush hairs off my face and onto my sink - 23 hairs in total. Every time the brush touched my face, it left a hair behind. The next time I used it with mineral foundation - got 6 that time. Then a wash, another 9 hairs. I used the 168 for blush. No shedding but I was not impressed with the performance or it's ability to keep it's shape.

I know these brushes can't be compared side-by-side with the full sizes brushes. These are machine made while the others are hand made. But, that 187 is the worst shedding brush I have ever used.

Here is a review along with other photos from Musings of a Muse. She liked them.

Reviews from Makeup Alley. Most had my experience.

Reader Questions: Is There a Safe Self-Tanner?

I caught this reader question as a comment that was posted. The reader had been using a Neutrogena self-tanner (Neutrogena is an AWFUL brand if you are trying to avoid chemicals), but since it is full of Parabens, switched to their new one called 'Sun Fresh'. It IS Paraben-Free, but still has other harmful ingredients. The reader had a reaction to the Witch Hazel.

I am a fair-skinned redhead and used Estee Lauder tanner and later one made by Jergens back in the day. I just remember them smelling horrible and they always made me orange and not tan. I eventually stopped and embraced the pale.

Much like with sunscreens, it is just about impossible to find a self-tanner that isn't full of harmful chemicals. Even if you can dodge the Parabens, there are still plenty of other chemicals that they are banned in other countries outside the US. See some sunless tanners ranked by danger level.

  • Embrace the pale. Those nicely baked co-eds that make us so jealous will be paying for it when they look like leather wallets in a few years - plus the additional skin cancer risk.
  • Try using a slightly darker paraben-free foundation. Remember to keep an eye on your neck, you don't want mismatched body parts.
  • Try using a mineral bronzer.
  • Eat less processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition will increase the blood flow and health of your skin. Mine has changed two shades from very pale to rosy glow since January by eating right.
If I still can't convince you to forgo the chemical dye job, here is a list the products least likely to make you drop dead.

Coppertone Endless Summer

Short list, ain't it?

Smoky Mountain Minerals - 25% Off

Just had a new code for Smoky Mountain Minerals hit my box. They have some greats kits and no bismuth. Free shipping.

Sale Code:

Previous SMM Posts.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Paraben Free SPF Products

A reader from the UK asked me to recommend a Paraben Free moisturizer with SPF. Using SPF products is always a difficult decision. You either suck it up and use a product with harmful chemicals or you take your chances with skin cancer. I vote to find a compromise. The best bet for finding a Paraben Free SPF moisturizer is to find a good sunscreen that can double as that.

I'm not familiar with products sold in the UK or EU, but knowing what to look for is the best place to start. Below is an important study conducted by the Cosmetics Safety Database. It's a MUST READ!

Sunscreen Investigation

Bottom line is that Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide are two of your least harmful ingredients for blocking UVA and UVB rays. Bad news is that many products use 'nano' (tiny!) versions of these ingredients which can possibly cause cell and nerve damange. There is confusion in the cosmetics industry (there's a shock) over the definition of 'nano' and 'micro' particles. Read.

used to use Burt's Bees sunscreen until I read that it contains nano particles. So, I'm in the market for a new sunscreen as well.

Soleo - $25

Cosmetic Safety Database Listing

Marie Veronique Skin Serum SPF 30 - $35+

Cosmetic Safety Database Listing

Lavera Organic SPF 20+ - $20+

Cosmetic Safety Database Listing

Zoya Nail Polish Exchange

This just goes to show how overworked I have been. I completely missed this the first time through. Zoya Nail Polish is running an exchange program. You send them your old bottles of any brand of fingernail cancer, and they will send you shiny new bottles of their products which don't contain harmful chemicals. Zoya does have a large variety of great shades. I have a shoebox full of OPI I have been holding, waiting for a good way to dispose of them. I think some Zoya would make good stocking stuffers.

  • You pay to ship your old polish to them.
  • You pay shipping and processing for each of their products which is $3 per bottle shipped. Their regular price is $6 a bottle plus shipping.
  • You must select exactly the same number of Zoya Polishes as the number of polishes you are returning. Ex: If you send in 6, you have to buy 6.
  • You must exchange a minimum of 6 bottles of polish, and no more than a maximum of 200 bottles.
  • Offer expires April 28, 2009.

If you miss the deadline, they are doing it again for Earth Day.

- - - - - - - -

We are writting to let all our customers know that the
Zoya Nail Polish Exchange has been an amazing hit. We have had over 70,000 bottles of old nail polish exchanged for new Zoya Polish.

As a result of this succes, the word has spread quickly and more and more people want to participate. Even many of the people who tried the program once (loved it), realized that they had more polish that they wanted to exchange. For these reasons we have extended the Zoya Nail Polish Exchange program through 4/28/2009.

For more information on the Zoya Polish Exchange visit
Please tell your freinds and family about this promotion. To save shipping costs on sending your old
nail polishes to us, many people have been grouping their exchanges with friends, family and co-workers.

Spell Cosmetics - Get Your VIP Discount Before You Buy

These guys are wearing me out. MORE great Spell deals!

If I understand the e-mail correctly, all three of these collections come with the Spell VIP Card (25% off and free shipping - $10 value).

If you contact Spell at their customer service address below, they will send you your VIP card info BEFORE you buy the collection so you save 25% right off the top!

Think Spring! Huge discounts on the "All 40 Shadow Kit", "Im a Spell Girl Kit", and the full "Gloss kit". All three come with VIP, but for a limited time you can receive your 25% of VIP membership IN ADVANCE! So, if you've been eyeing these send us an email at and get your VIP via email before you buy!!!!

I'm a Spell Girl Kit: Link
40 Shadow Kit: Link
Full Gloss Kit (I think): Link

Spell Cosmetics: Speciality Collections

WOW. Spell is really stepping up their game! They now have guest artists and all kinds of nifty new products and a Specialty category.

All Specialty Collections: Link

Gothic Vogue Collection by Tiffany Diamond.

The Radiance Collection by Lauren Christopher.

AllthatGlitrz21 Gloss Trio

Elegant Minerals Pressed Compact

Elegant Minerals is now selling a pressed compact for $19.95. The size is not listed but it's supposed to last 5-6 months. When I purchased samples from there last year, the products contained quite a bit of clay, so this would useful if you have oily skin.

The site is kind of busy, so keep looking, you will find it.

You will need to see the color chart to pick your shade: Color Chart

GDA: Sale Codes

Here are a few sales for March:

Lure is having a 30-50% off Winter clearance sale. No codes needed.

J. Lynne Cosmetics is having a 15% off sale through March 8. Code:MARCH15.

Ocean Mist Cosmetics is having a 20% off sale items through ??. Code:

Always read the ingredients lists and if a site doesn't list the ingredients, don't buy!