Friday, November 29, 2013

Spa Sonic Black Friday Giveaway!

If you forgot to get yourself a little something special in all of this year's shopping hubbub, never fear! My friends over at Spa Sonic have us covered, and they've offered my lucky readers a chance to win their choice of a pink, lavender or classic white Spa Sonic.

This waterproof device can be used on both the face and body to deeply cleanse, exfoliate and remove impurities. Enter below, and if you haven't peeked at my MONSTER list of cyber week deals, make sure you check it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2013 Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals!

Hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing day of thanks! Now, on to the shopping! Feel free to add any deals I didn't list in the comments!

Adventuress Skin Care 
50% off the Adventuress Skin Care Intro Collection kit (limit 2). Use coupon code BLACKFRIDAY at checkout. Offer valid 11/28-11/30.

Use code 40KARATS to get 40% off site wide from Wednesday, November 27th, 2013 through Monday, December 2nd.

alba Botanica
Buy 2 get 1 free from Friday, 11/29 through Monday, 12/2 with code ALBATHANKYOU (unconfirmed)

Alpha Hydrox 
Now through 12/16, Buy 1 product and get a second product (the same product) for 1.99 online only. Excludes kits, includes Batiste products.

Friday, 11/29 only, get 20% off, excluding special packs.

Deluxe Skin Care Set for $39.95, along with 25% off the entire website with coupon code 25DISC. Offer valid until December 2nd at midnight.

30% off orders of $15 or more from 11/28 until 11:59pm, PST on 12/4. Excludes Thursday Deal items, but Clearance items are included.

Avalon Organics
Cyber Monday: 20% off online with code AVALONTHANKS.

Bath & Body Works
2013 VIP bag, valued at over $100, just $20 with a $40 purchase, use code VIP13 at checkout.

from 10AM 12/2 to 10AM 12/3, enjoy 40% off site wide.

Becca Cosmetics
20% off on orders of $50 or more with code FAMILY13. Ends 12/2.

BFTE Cosmetics
Cyber Monday: $20 grab bags

Black Rose Minerals
Use code BF2013 to get 50% off full size jars. Offer valid at and at

bliss spa
20% discount on full-sized bliss, Elemis and Remede products on Friday, 11/29 and Monday, 12/2

Bobbi Brown
11/28 - 11/30, get a free full-size Extreme Party Mascara, a travel-size Makeup Remover, and free shipping with any online order. Use code TGIBF.

Butter London
20% off online orders, excluding “last-call” items, which are 50% off. Use code CYBER13.

Carol's Daughter
Free Almond Cookie Hand Cream and free shipping with any purchase of $25 or more. Ends 11/30.

25% off with code EBONY

November 26th through December 1st, get 20% off store wide with code TKG2013.

Cirque Nail Lacquer
20% off with code HOLIDAY2013 Now through 12/5, 11:59pm EST

Concrete Minerals
Black Friday: 30% off with code BLACK30
Sat. 12/30-12/2: 25% off with code BLACK25
Free Wanderlust eyeshadow with orders of $50 or more, discount excludes "I Want it All" Collection and Beauty Blogger sets.

Cult Nails
Black Friday – save 40% off all lacquers (including limited editions) and treatments with a purchase of $36 or more. Use code THANKYOU13 at checkout.

Mia First for $99

Coastal Scents
50% off all purchases at Coastal Scents, now through Monday, December 2nd. No code required.

C.O. Bigelow
25% off all Bigelow brand products. Online only, expires 12/2.

20% Friends and Family discount on all online purchases through 11:59 PM EST on December 1st.

Darling Girl Cosmetics
20% off all orders with code GOBBLEGOBBLE. Orders over $20 before shipping and discounts will get a limited edition mini of “Who Cares, It’s on Sale” eyeshadow.  Samples will not be available during this sale.

40% site wide discount on Friday, 11/29 from 9am-12 pm EST only, 30% through Monday, 12/12. Use code SPECIAL30.

Desert Essence
25% off all orders with free shipping on all orders $25 and up with code CYBER

Dream World Minerals
Black Friday: 20% off orders $10 or more with code BF20
Cyber Monday: 25% off orders $30 or more with code CM2530

Ellen Lange
Cyber Monday 12/2 only: 50% off all Ellen Lange skin care, online only.

Geek Chic Cosmetics
30% off everything, excludes samples and The Collective. Ends 12/2 at midnight, or until supplies last.

Dr. Brandt 
40% off your entire purchase with free shipping.  Expires 11/29.
15% off site wide, plus free shipping on orders over $25, now through 11:59 pm, PT on 11/30.

Black Friday, 11/29: Buy one get one 50% off, plus a FREE $10 Gift Card, on orders over $30. Use code BLKFRI at checkout.

Sunday 12/1 through 12/3: 50% off all orders of $30 or more with code CYBER50.

em Michelle Phan
Black Friday savings:
spend $30, get $10 off
spend $50, get $20 off
spend $100, get $50 off

Giorgio Armani Beauty 
Friends and Family 20% off purchases of $75 or more on the website, no code required. Ends 12/5.

Glamour Doll Eyes
Use code BLACKFRIDAY13 for 35% off everything in the shop with a $16 purchase. At buy two get one free on all eye shadows.

Haughty  Cosmetics
40% off your entire purchase with code BF2013. Expires 11/29.

Online: 20% off all products (excluding Freedom System palettes and accessories) plus a free 77 Gel Eyeliner with purchases over $80. Offer valid from 3AM EST 11/28 to 3AM EST on 12/4.

In stores: 11/29 through 12/1 get 20% off all products (excluding Freedom System palettes and accessories).

Jindie Nails
25% off with code BLACKFRIDAY25 with free shipping on orders over $50. Ends Monday 12/2.

50% off must-have sets, plus free shipping on orders over $50.

Kate Somerville
Friends and Family now through December 2nd. Use code HOLIDAY2013 for 30% off one single order. Online only, some items have maximum purchase limits and some kits are excluded.

Kiss my Sass
Black Friday: 25% on any $15.00 purchase with code blackfri13
Cyber Monday: 30% on any $15.00 purchase with code cybermon13

Laura Geller
20% off all online order on Cyber Monday only, with free standard shipping on all orders placed within the 24 hour window.

$5 off $25 with code 5HOLIDAY
$10 off $50 with code 10HOLIDAY
$20 off $100 with code 20HOLIDAY
$50 off $200 with code 50HOLIDAY

Lime Crime
30% off 11/29-30 with code LOVE30. Not valid on Pink Velvet.

35% off all orders with code BLACK35. Valid through Sunday 12/1.

If you haven't heard yet, M.A.C. will be releasing a limited edition matte black lippie,
Hautecore, available online on Black Friday only. You know this won't last more than an hour or two online, so if you want it, better hurry!

Manna Kadar Cosmetics 
50% off on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Use coupon code MANNABF50 at checkout.

Melt Cosmetics
Black Friday: 25% off with code PAINTITBLACK

Meow Cosmetics
20% off with code GOBBLE (no minimum order) OR
20% and free shipping on orders of $40 or more with code LIGHTUP

Miracle Skin Transformer
30% discount on purchases of $50 or more on Monday, 12/2.

All items 40% off, now through December 25th, 2013

Blck Friday: 20% off with the code NARSFRIENDS

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics
Free "Little Black Dress" Stained Gloss on all orders over $75.00 (limit one per customer). Free shipping on all orders $50 or more.

Ofra Cosmetic Laboratories
Black Friday: 50% off site wide, can not be combined with free shipping.

70% off site wide. 11/29-12/3. Use code NUME70

Paula's Choice
15% off everything, now through December 3rd.

20% off with code PERLIERTHANKS20. Ends 12/1, 11:59PM EST).

Peter Thomas Roth
20% discount site wide on Friday, 11/29.

30% discount site wide on Monday, 12/2.

Purely Cosmetics 
11/30, Small Business Saturday only, get 25% off everything with min $15 order. Use code SBS13 at checkout. Orders containing full sized products will also include a free gift, while supplies last.

Rain cosmetics 
On Black Friday, get 50% off all products and 25% off classes and services. Cyber Monday 40% off all products.

$10 Dealtopia sets, Black Friday only.

Shiro Cosmetics 
15% off with code FRIDAY

Shu Uemura
Orders over $50 get 20% off and free shipping.
Orders over $100 get 25% off and free shipping.
Enter  code SHUJOY at checkout, offer ends on 12/2 at 11:59 PM EST.

Skinn Cosmetics 
Use code BFCM1320 at checkout to get 20% off all products. Valid 11/29 - 12/2.

25% off Friends and Family discount on orders of $50 or more.

Spa Sonic
After you check out the deals, make sure you enter my weekend giveaway to WIN YOUR OWN SPA SONIC!!!

Visit on Black Friday to purchase the Spa Sonic system for $33 and Cyber Monday through Cyber Week for $32.

Through December 30th, is offering the Spa Sonic system for $39.99. will have the new DermaLight on sale for $119.99 and the Spa Sonic system for $35.99 November 24th through December 7th.

Black Friday: get a free Pro-Artist brush set with $50 purchase, use code BLACKFRIDAY.

Cyber Monday: Warehouse sale, up to 80% off.

Studio Gear 
Black Friday Deals and on Cyber Monday get 30% off all complexion products.

Sugarpill Cosmetics
Pink Weekend sale! All items 20% to 50% off Thursday 11/28 though Monday, 12/2.

Tarte Cosmetics
Through 12/1, get 25% off your purchase with the code TURKEY.

Tokyo Milk
Free Tokyo Milk Waltz No. 14 travel candle with any purchase $50 or more. Exp. Midnight EST 11/29.

Cyber Monday: Free shipping and Gift with Purchase for each order of $50 or more.

Urban Decay
Badass Lip Set for $50 (Value: $132)
NYE Arsenal $35 (Value: $72)

Vapour Beauty
30% off your order with code BLACKFRIDAY13 Ends 12/2.

VMV Hypoallergenics
Cyber Monday sale, up to 70% off

Whitening Lightening
Use code BLACKFRIDAY to receive a Holiday Gift Pack (a $633 value) for only $89.

Yes To
40% off all online orders with code Y2BLACKFRIDAY.

20% off Friends and Family. Valid on online orders of $75+ or more, ends 12/1.

Z Palette
Ends 12AM PST,  11/29. Get 20% off site wide on the Z Palette website (excludes Crocodile Collection).

Black Friday: use code DREAMBIG to get a free "Cheers to All" 12-piece Dream Box, plus a Mini Color Lock System and free shipping with a $72 purchase!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Must Have Item:
Graham Professional HandsDown Ultra
Nail and Cosmetic Pads

Pack away those puffs and check out these genius little do-dads! HandsDown Pads ($5.69 for 240) are a must-have for your makeup kit. They are, of course, ideal for polish removal- the super absorbent pad somehow holds remover without allowing it to dry out, and they're tough enough that even my chunkiest glitters don't shred them! Today I finally got around to removing my Julie G Gumdrops pedi, and one pad did the job. ONE PAD. Unheard of, especially considering the hefty texture of the polish I was disposing of.

So, what's my favorite thing about these? Well, tell me: is there anyone out there who has *ever* successfully removed polish from one nail without completely destroying your mani on the fingers that are holding the remover-soaked cotton? If you have developed that skill set, you may not be as impressed by this nifty little feature as I am, but I adore the flexible plastic tab that completely covers the back of HandsDown pads. The tab is easy to hold, and even pure acetone won't soak through, so I can now remove goofs at-will while keeping my perfect, unruined fingers un-botched!

HandsDown Pads aren't a one trick pony, either. They're lint-free, so they work well for applying makeup. They make great disposable powder puffs, and I've been known to pre-load a bit of blush onto the pad and throw it into my purse for late-night touch-ups. I've even moistened the pad with a bit of micellar solution (if you don't know what that is, keep your eyes out for my upcoming post) and used it as an impromptu exfoliator! Grainy scrubs, and even my Clarisonic, irritate my skin, but these have just the right amount of texture.

So, what do you think- is it worth a trip to the beauty supply store? Have you tried HandsDown pads? What's your favorite way to use them?

Monday, July 15, 2013

This Week's Sales (Are Back!)
Bdellium Tools, Hanskin, Panier des Sens
...and more!

Here's the deals in the pop-up-saleosphere! If you know of any too good to pass up deals going on this week, let us know!

Belle and Clive
Ends Wednesday: Scent of Bvlgari

If you're not a member yet, and would like to give me credit for referral, click here for an invite (and thanks!)

Beyond the Rack
Monday July 15th: Makeup Organizers
Thursday: ProLift MD Skincare

ends Wednesday: Cosmo Skin Solutions

If you're not a member yet, click here for an invite and we can both earn a £10 voucher!

Proactiv Solution (30%), Wen Haircare (25%), Skinstore (14%), Sephora (8%), Ulta (4%)

Choose Health and Beauty in the Women's section of the outlet to peruse goods from brands like Bdellium Tools, Coola, and Imaginary Animal (a must if you're having a tough time finding creepy doll hand soaps!)

Check the "Health & Beauty" tab for deals on tons of stuff from Ahava, Deborah Lippmann, Nuxe, Red Carpet Manicure, and tons more!

Ends Tuesday: Whitening Lightning and Dr. Brandt Skincare
Starts Monday: L'OCCITANE & Conair
Tuesday: blinc
Wednesday: Napoleon Perdis
Thursday: Amir Argan Oil, Cortex Hair Tools
Friday: Clarins
Saturday: BH Cosmetics, Remington Epilator
Sunday: Neo Hair Tools, SUPER by Perricone Skincare

Modnique (formerly Totsy)
Ends Wednesday: EF Studio Cosmetics, Beauty Products Sale feat. Bobbi Brown, Edward Bess, Hanskin, MAC, and more.
Starts Monday: Rain Cosmetics

My Habit
Ends Tuesday: Skincare by 29 Cosmetics Ends Wednesday: Keranique Hair Care
Ends Thursday: Panier des Sens French Skincare

If you're not a member yet and would like an invitation, click here.

Ends Tuesday: My Beauty Spot Summery Nail Polish
Ends Wednesday: Retinol and Moodmatcher

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Fastest, Easiest, Cheapest (?) Up-Do Ever!

It would not be totally unfair to call me "hair challenged". I have lived in pony tails for most of my life, but as we all know, sometimes a pony just doesn't cut it. Still, I rarely have the time (or patience, or attention span) to spend much more than a few minutes on my hair. Enter the mesh chignon (aka. "hair donut"). Walk into any beauty supply store, and for under $5, you can pick one of these up and be well on your way to a sleek, finished up-do. Here's what you'll need:

1. A hair donut*. Available in several colors and sizes, you'll want the color that most closely matches your own (the match doesn't need to be exact, your hair will hide the mesh when you're done). Size will vary based on the thickness and length of your hair. The black chignon pictured above is the "standard" size. If you have short or very fine hair, you may prefer the "petite" (like the blonde donut in the center of the pic, which is the one I'll be using on my daughter in the tutorial).

2. Hair elastics. I'm using clear ones here.

3. Hair pins. Again, choose the color that best matches your hair. Note that hair pins are NOT the same as bobby pins. There will be a close up in the how-to below.

4. *Optional* A Bun/Chignon sized hair net, in a color to match your hair. This will help to hold hair in place and eliminate flyaways, giving the bun a very sleek, formal appearance.

So, now that you know what to do, how do you do it? Super simple.

1. Pull hair into a pony tail. The pony will be the center of the bun, so place accordingly. Secure with an elastic, then slip the pony tail through your hair donut.

2. and 3. Spread out hair, "Cousin Itt"style, over the donut. You can use a comb or a densely bristled brush to smooth hair over, or just your hands. Make sure your coverage is even and there's no mesh showing through.

4. and 5. Secure another hair elastic around the base of the bun.

6. Begin wrapping the dangling ends of the hair around the base of the bun. If you have thick or long hair, you'll probably want to pin as you go, so read on.

7. This is a hair pin, also called a u pin or even a bun pin. They're much easier to handle, and tend to stay hidden better in the hair.

8. To correctly insert a hair pin, first put the pin down into the bun (hair and a bit of mesh) vertically. The tongs of the pin should come down into the hair on the outside of the hair wrapped around the base.

9. Next, keeping the base of the pin in your hair, move the top of the pin so that it's almost horizontal, going into the bun sideways at the base. Push the pin all of the way in.

10. (Optional: not pictured) To further secure your bun, and smooth down any stray hairs poking out, pick up an "invisible" fine mesh hair net in your hair color. Wrap it around the base of the bun, crisscrossing and looping it over the bun just as you would a hair elastic. Secure the end of the net under the bun with a pin.

That's it! Though my beautiful baby girl modeled for these pics, I just did this on myself- without a mirror I might add- and it only took me 1 minute, 90 seconds!

My favorite part is, you can accessorize your bun tons of different ways. Add a head band, stick in a few rhinestone hair pins (I got the ones below on eBay) or pin a flower- or ring of flowers- at the base (fresh would be lovely). You could even wrap a bit of fabric or lace around the base of the bun. Let your imagination go wild!

* I am 100% aware that doughnut is usually spelled "doughnut". 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Illamasqua Gives Thanks
...and 50% Off!

I've already tweeted about it and posted about it on my Facebook page, but for a deal like this, I need to touch all of my bases! To celebrate hitting 50,000 twitter followers, Illamasqua is having a 50% off EVERYTHING flash sale. And flash it is- those who saw my updates earlier know the original sale was planned for this morning from 12pm-5pm GMT and from 12am-5am GMT this evening. Due to an overwhelming response, Illamasqua has had to shorten the second slot to only an hour.

Use code TWITTER50 from 12am-1am BST (that's 7-8pm for those of you in Eastern Daylight Time) and stock up on your favorite alternate-ego must haves! For those of you who just can't decide what to get, here are a few of my favorites:

Satin Primer
Great for drier skin, or anyone that needs to add a bit of a luminous glow to their skin. There's no shimmer or pearl in here, just a nice hydrating primer. Use it all over before applying makeup, or A mix a drop in to your foundation for a more sheer, dewy finish.

Skin Base Foundation
One of my favorite foundations, bar none. Flawless coverage, seamless blending, long wearing, and a shade range to beat all others. Check out my full review for more details and color swatches!

Nail Varnish in Speckle
Illamasqua's nail lacquers are highly coveted; one look at this dappled lilac and you can see why! I've even seen one particular high-end polish maven dupe these, so Illamasqua must be on to something...

So, did anyone out there take advantage of this morning's sale? What did you get?

Monday, April 22, 2013

In Search of Smudge:
My Quest For the Perfect Eye Liner!

Is there no longer such a things as a smudge-then-set eyeliner pencil? 150 years ago (or perhaps somewhat more recently) my holy-grail eyeliner, a Victoria's Secret shade called Black Berry, was reformulated. Ever since then, I've been on the hunt for a replacement- to no good avail.

The list of attributes that I require for success on this mission:

  • The Correct Color. Black Berry was the *perfect* shade. Definitely a plum-not-brown, but earthy enough that it doesn't quite read as "purple". Leans red, so it brings out the green in my eyes, but it's not so red that it made my eyes look tired or bloodshot. Deep enough for good definition. Just. Perfect.
  • Smudgeable. It is essential to me that a pencil liner be smudgeable. Softening the harsh lines of a pencil is great for more natural looks, but it also lends a hand in creating dramatic, sultry, smokey eyes. A diffused line is also friendlier to those of us that have small or hooded lids- a thick, heavy line weighs the eye down and makes it appear closed and small. Not to mention, a little smudgery can virtually erase the flaws of a hastily drawn (and perhaps not quite, exactly, perfect) line. 
  • Non-transferrable. As previously mentioned, I have hooded lids. That means that when my eye is open, my top lash line touches my upper lid. Too many liners stamp their imprint, leaving an arc of color just above my crease, where the two parts of my lid touch. Not sexy.
  • Decent Wear. Does anyone out there touch up their eyeliner mid-day? I know I'm not going to. Just stay on there, eyeliner. 
So, really, I'm not asking for much (or am I?) Yet the perfect replacement for my old-faithful has eluded me for years now. Here are just a few I've come across in my search, and why they won't be taking that place of honor in my makeup kit.

From top left to bottom right:
  1. Victoria's Secret Eyeliner in Black Berry (Discontinued): If they still made it, I'd wear it every day. I adore the color, and, as I believe the above swatches prove, the superior smudgeability. All of these strokes began as a 1/4 inch mark in the center of the swatch, which I then smudged out on both sides with my trusty Lancome #10. You can actually see that the original 1/4 inch on some refused to blend out, leaving an unsightly "line of origin", but not my Black Berry. It smudges out evenly, without disappearing, skipping over creases, or flaking. And this sample was taken with a stub that's (I'm guessing) 7 years old. 
  2. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in 1999 (Discontinued): This has been my go-to lately, but it's far from my favorite. The color isn't bad, but the shimmer tends to migrate when you smudge the liner. That is, *if* you can smudge it. There is a very small window of opportunity with 24/7 pencils: try too soon and you'll wipe it all away, too late and it won't budge (as evidenced by the blotch of unblended color in the center of the swatch). Oh, and when I went to add the link to this, I found out this shade has been discontinued, so I guess it's good that I didn't love it! 
  3. Tarte skinny smolderEYES™ Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner in Golden Tiger's Eye: This is one of my newest acquisitions. The color is a little less vibrant/more brown than I like (which may have prevented my purchase, if the Ulta I visited had had a tester available). Of course, this isn't a strike against the pencil itself, it's just my personal preference. The liner itself smudges fairly well- evenly spreading the color without sheering out too much. My biggest gripe about this pencil is how damn soft it is. The tip broke off the first time I used it, and even after sharpening and reapplying with very little pressure, the lead was still smushed in to one side. Not totally a deal-breaker, but it definitely takes some adjusting.
  4. NYX Retractable Eye Liner in Deep Purple: as you can see, this doesn't smudge at all, it simply wipes away. Color wise, I liked it, and the price is definitely nice, but if it fails the smudge test, it's not my holy grail.
  5. Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes in Matte Black: This one is obviously not in my desired color range, but I felt it deserved comparison as such a coveted and well-known product. It's definitely intense pigmentation wise, and smudges relatively well. I recently ordered two of the plummier shades in the line, Shimmering Plum (4L) and Burgundy (18L), and I'm excited to see how they stack up!
  6. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Lionfish: Again, the shade isn't at all close to what I'm looking for, nor is there really one any closer in the range. But, since this is actually called SMUDGE stick, I had to try it. As you can see from the swatch above, the name is a bit of a fib. Yes, the pencil smudges, but not at all evenly- the original line will stay in place, and blending can get flaky and patchy where color pulls away from the skin completely. Boo.
So, that's it for now. Of course, I have others that I've tried, but these were the notables. I will definitely post an update when I get my new Make Up For Ever liners, and my internet search has told tale of a Cover Girl liner that may fit the bill- that's going on my list too!

What's your favorite pencil liner? Is smudgeability a factor for you, or is something else your make-it-or-break-it trait?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Missha 2013 Friends & Family

The title and the graphic say it all: Missha is having a huge Friends and Family Sale. All items are at least 30% off, including my favorite BB cream of all time, Missha's Perfect Cover. Figure in a sizeable 50-70% off clearance section, free gifts with larger purchases, and free shipping on orders over $40, and it's a full-fledged event.

If you haven't taken the BB plunge, or have yet to try an authentic Asian BB cream (a totally different animal from the over-hyped US versions), I can't suggest Missha enough!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Julie G Frosted Gumdrops on Groupon!

I have been lemming these polishes since my friend Courtney (aka. Phyrra) introduced me to them.  These textured varnishes are a Rite Aid exclusive and are so reasonably priced a 3rd grader could grab one with her weekly allowance ($3.99/ea)! They've been sold-out online almost since they launched, and since the only Rite Aids I know of are 230 miles away, I was totally preparing to send my loving out-of-town Mama on a wild goose chase to get my hands (talons?) on these babies!

Then Phyrra came to my rescue with the alert that the entire collection of 6 shades is available on Groupon- for just $12.99!!! If you've been wanting to try the glittered-sand, textured polish trend, you really can't go wrong here- even with shipping (a couple bucks unless you spend $15, then it's free) you're looking at less than $3 a bottle! Needless to say, I snatched one up, so you'll be seeing my swatches & thoughts on the collection as soon as my fleet-footed mail person can get these to my door.

What are your thoughts? Are you a fan of the new gritty craze?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Quick Tip: Re-purpose Your Rejects!

Anyone else have a shelf in your linen closet (a basket under the sink or a drawer in your room counts too) of lotions and potions sitting around that just didn't make the grade? I know I'm never going to put *that* stuff on my face again, but somehow I just can't bring myself to throw out a perfectly good (maybe, possibly, for someone else, not me) product.

If you're in the same boat, don't just let those bottles and jars sit around wasting space. Just because a product didn't work for its prescribed use doesn't mean you can't use it at all. Give new life to your castoffs: use facial cleansers, body washes or shampoos as hand soap (decant them into a pretty pump bottle and no one will ever know). Hair Conditioner makes a great hydrating shave cream, and believe it or not, that dud of a makeup primer might work better at smoothing down spilt-ends. Oh, and that $60 jar of moisturizer that turned out to be not quite for you? Stick the jar next to your kitchen sink or on your bed stand and use it as hand cream. In the end, you'll feel pretty and pampered while actually saving money and helping the environment- you might possibly even have a neater house when all is said and done!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Do It Yourself...Safely!

Mold growth on unpreserved body cream. Photo courtesy of Soap Queen.

Those of you that follow me on Facebook may have noticed a post recently, in which a friend shared this link to blogger Cara's recipe for DIY eye shadow primer. I checked it out, because I'm all about Do-It-Yourself lately (blame Pinterest). I am, however, also very concerned with safety and sanitation, especially where the eyes are concerned, so when I read the recipe (a mixture of Chapstick, liquid foundation and cornstarch) a warning bell went off.

As I explained on my Facebook page (and in the comments on MaskCara), cornstarch has a very high sugar content. Bacteria and fungus love sugar, so cornstarch is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet for them, which means they multiply. Of course, it did occur to me that any commercial foundation used in the recipe would have a certain amount of preservative, but I wondered: is that amount enough to preserve the entire batch and keep the eyes safe from creepy-crawlies?

Without knowing the exact foundation, preservative & concentration, my research abilities were limited, so I decided to go straight to the experts. Through the modern miracle of social media, I posed the question to a few cosmetic chemists that I know- the fabulous Kelly Dobos, Chemists Corner's Perry Romanowski (author of The Beauty Aisle Insider and Can You Get Hooked on Lip Balm?) and UK based cosmetic scientist, Colin Sanders. To say there was a consensus would be misleading, but I think it's safe to tell you that the chemists agreed that a DIY primer formula was not without its risks. While Kelly and Perry felt like the cornstarch-based formula was chancy (especially around the sensitive eye area), Colin wasn't quite so conservative, saying he felt the risk, in reality, was very low. The whole discussion prompted Colin to cover the topic on his own website, and of course, I had to share.

Now, I'm not just tooting my own horn here (OK, maybe a little). I'm sharing Colin's post and our discussion with you because the issue goes well beyond one blogger's post on eye shadow primer. For many beauty-obsessives, the temptation to DIY is strong. The popularity of mass-market "natural" cosmetics is at an all time high, and the explosion of social media has given handmade indie brands the potential to reach millions. Do a quick search on online marketplaces like Etsy or ArtFire, and you'll find literally thousands of listings, for everything from eye shadows to soaps to wrinkle serums. Many of these products are unique, effective, high-quality, and most importantly, safe- but some...aren't.

When brands use readily available ingredients, and in some cases mix them up in kitchens just like ours, the logical conclusion is "why shouldn't I just make this myself?" Often you can (I'm doing exactly that this week for my daughter's birthday party favors). It's important to understand, however, the many considerations you need to make if you're going to whip up your own formulations. Just because a product is natural doesn't mean it's without risks (or, for that matter, a better choice than synthetics) and DIYers need to be savvy before playing chemist.

As always, I want to thank Kelly, Colin and Perry for so openly sharing their knowledge, and of course, big thanks to Karen, who originally posted the primer post on my Facebook page!
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