Thursday, June 30, 2011

B.Koi's 4th of July Sale!

To celebrate Independence Day we are having a sale from now until the 4th! Use promo code STARSANDSTRIPES to get 20% off of every order. This coupon cannot be combined with other coupons and can be applied to all B.Koi products currently on the site, even sale items!

Enjoy your independence ladies! Enjoy the freedom to wear whatever fabulous colors you like ;)

Orders placed over 4th of July weekend will go out the week of the 5th. Start shopping NOW! Visit B.Koi's site at www.bkoicosmetics.com

Have a fabulous 4th!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sorry for being MIA!

I'm so sorry I haven't posted in a bit, I've been super busy trying to get things in order for a few new products (including Liplure) to launch. If you don't follow B.Koi (@bkoi_cosmetics) on twitter then you probably haven't caught wind of some of the craziness we've been dealing with trying to launch these products. We've agonized over packaging for our products every time we've had to launch a new product. We want the packaging to be functional, attractive, eco-friendly (when possible), etc. We decided about a month ago on some packaging for several new products, which we could only order from a new manufacturer we'd looked into for the last year or so (but never purchased from). We made our first official purchase with them and eagerly awaited our shipment. To make a long story short, it took a bit longer than expected, but when the package finally arrived to our great disappointment it came completely smashed. Every single article inside was smashed or cracked. Clearly this was an issue with the shipper (UPS) and possibly with their packing methods. I sent a letter with pictures of the mess we received and thankfully the company has worked to replace the order (we expect the replacements today), but it was definitely heartbreaking to have to wait even longer for something we've been working so long towards releasing.

As if that wasn't enough, we had to order some new labels for some of the products we'll soon be releasing and when we tried them on some of our packaging we realized that for some reason they wouldn't adhere properly and the edges kept pealing up. This is just not how we want to send out products! So there we were, headed back to yet another supplier to try to figure out what was going wrong. We had to reorder different labels and have yet to receive them (hopefully by Monday).

So there you have it; aside from just working to create some amazing products, we seem to keep crashing into wall after wall with things that should be going more smoothly! Just wanted to let you know why I've been too consumed to post anything lately. I'm hoping to start back up again as soon as Liplure launches, which should be (fingers-crossed) by Monday!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's OK and what's not?

It seems as though there is some hot and heavy debating going on regarding what is and is not okay to put in makeup, especially when it comes to indies. Rather than relying on other people to tell you or assuming that just because you've never heard of anyone losing an eye as a result of using makeup done by companies in question that it must be all hype and hate, view the FDA chart yourself that says what can and cannot be used on your eyes.

I never take important information like this second-hand. Read it yourself and make your own decision! ;)


Click Here to see the FDA chart on cosmetics ingredients!

You know I'm a big ingredients label reader. I wanted to make sure you all have access to this information as well so you can compare products you have or are considering.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cosmetics Q&A: Sunscreen - What to look for & what to run from!

This sun is blazing out there in full force and you probably already know it's important you protect your skin from the harsh rays of the sun. Who wants wrinkles or perhaps something worse later on? Sunscreen isn't normally something you'd worry about, in fact it's meant to keep you safe! Yet here we are hearing more and more about how the chemicals in sunscreen can actually cause negative long-term effects.

First let's look at the two different kinds of active ingredients in sunscreens. There are the chemical ingredients like oxybenzone, adminobenzoic acid, and avobenzone (to name a few) and there are the physical barrier ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc.

Here's how they work:

Chemical ingredients absorb the energy of UV rays before it affects your skin

Physical barriers reflect or scatter UV rays before they hit your skin

Right off the bat when researching this and coming upon this info I thought to myself--So the chemical ingredients rubbed into my skin absorb the UV rays? 

What are some of the negative effects of the chemical sunscreen ingredients?

While there are many negative effects associated with the chemical ingredients used in sunscreen, it seems the most common include the generation of free radicals in the body and affect on estrogen in the body. Looking at the common sunscreen ingredient Benzophenone, it may come as a surprise that it is actually used in industrial processes as a free radical generator to initiate chemical reactions. It also happens to be one of the biggest culprits in regards to free radicals in the body as a result of using sunscreen that contains it. And since up to 35% of the sunscreen you rub into your skin can end up in your bloodstream, it doesn't seem like something you want to slather all over your body. Also, the fact that some chemicals in sunscreen have an estrogen-like affect on the body can increase the risk of cancer and cause a number of other fairly severe issues.

Comparing chemical ingredients side by side with physical barriers:

So maybe you think the information floating around about the chemical in sunscreen and how awful they are is a lot of hype. I think everyone needs to read and weigh the information themselves and perhaps while I'd rather err on the side of caution, you feel that something that's been in use for so many decades can't possibly be that bad of a culprit. All of that aside, let's look at a super basic, super objective comparison of the two when it comes to protection from the sun. After all, that's why we smear it all over our bodies anyway, right?

You are probably already aware that there is a broad UV spectrum broken down to UVA and UVB more or less. Now you may not believe it, but chemical sunscreen ingredients only cover portions of the spectrum which is why you usually see 3 or 4 active ingredients on your sunscreen. Adding these chemical ingredients together causes the sunscreen to have a bit more protection against different portions of the spectrum. At the same time, titanium dioxide as well as zinc provide broad spectrum UVA AND UVB protection. 

Here's an awesome chart I can across that shows the protection offered by both chemicals and physical barriers:  (Scroll to bottom of page) http://www.dermatology.ucsf.edu/skincancer/general/prevention/sunscreen.aspx

This chart was created by University of California San Francisco's School of Medicine in relation to skin cancer, dermatology, etc. They didn't create a rant-y piece, this was information they collected and organized for a section of the school's website for the Department of Dermatology. Looking at the information above alone, I'd feel better about using something that not only covers me well, but offers the added piece of mind that both zinc and titanium dioxide in sunscreen is gentle enough for daily use without possible side-effects like the chemical ingredients. If you don't feel there's any harm in using most of the sunscreens out there, that's totally up to you. I know plenty of people that don't think twice about it. 

On the other hand, if you've decided it's not such a huge deal to switch just to be safe I can recommend two different sunscreens that I put on myself, my husband, and my kids. I like Badger Balm's Suncreen and Goddess Garden Kids Natural Suncreen.  I'll tell you upfront that they are more expensive than Banana Boat and Neutrogena sunscreens. To me it's worth it, but it may not be to you. However, if you are interested in switching the cheapest Badger Balm I found was HERE and you can use the promo code FATHERSDAY (until June 10 at midnight) to get an extra 10% off plus free shipping for orders over $49 and the cheapest Goddess Garden I found was HERE

Hope that helps! Keep that skin sun-safe and fabulous ;)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How to Best Match Your Foundation to Your Complexion

Sorry that posts have been a little sparse lately. I've been working (I'm a copywriter as well) a lot lately and haven't had the energy at 2am when going to bed to post anything intelligible.

Now that summer in full swing I thought it might be a good idea to do a brief post on one of my biggest pet peeves. This is awful, but I can't stand when people don't match their foundations to their skin tones. Actually, it's not so much irritating as just something I always notice. Granted I'm hyper analytical, I think this issue is pretty easy to spot!

The problem is, there are a million different foundations out there and half of them don't have a color that is close enough to your own skin tone. My suggestion, keep trying them til you find one that is!

Here are a few tips on finding a foundation that matches your actual skin tone.

1. This is the first and most important tip, though the next is almost as important: Check prospective foundations against your skin tone in sunlight! Do not fall prey to neon lighting. Nothing looks like what it is under neon lights. How many times have you snagged an eyeshadow or lipstick in a store and when you got it home you realized it was an entirely different shade? Do yourself a favor, it may not be a big deal to get a teal instead of green eyeshadow, but make sure you check the actual color of the foundation you want to buy against your complexion under good lighting. I have gone so far as to pat some foundation on then walk to the nearest entrance before making a decision. Most malls have huge skylight-covered ceilings so if it's daytime you may only need to walk just outside the entrance of a smaller store and it's worth finding the nearest exit at a department store to have your foundation be exactly what you want it to be. Regardless of where you purchase your foundation, check it in good lighting!

2. I see sooooo many people do this and it makes no sense to me: Don't check foundation against your skin tone by rubbing it into your hand! Here's why, your face is probably going to be lighter than your hand or darker than your hand. Usually your face is lighter simply because so many facial cosmetics include SPF, and most people put sunscreen on at least their faces. Your hands get exposed to more sunlight most likely--think driving in the car and having one arm end up darker than the other. Try foundations on part of your face. If you know you're going out with the purpose of finding a new holy grail foundation, bring a makeup removing towelette if you're worried about not being able to remove prospective foundations with a simple tissue.

3. Buy one foundation for summer and one for winter if you're not completely pail as a ghost and don't intend to stay that way. I have an olive complexion so even though I wear high SPF natural sunscreen and minimize my sun exposure now (I could kick myself for being such a sun-lover in my teens) I still see a drastic change in the tone of my face between Summer and Winter. I don't tend to wear foundation daily simply because I work from home and have a clear complexion for the most part, but when I do wear foundation I want it to look right. Odds are if you walk around with the same foundation shade on year round you either never go out in the sun or you're wearing one that's too dark or too light depending on the time of year.

4. Check the ingredients. You all know by now that I prefer natural ingredients by far to chemicals. Unfortunately, there are so many nasty chemicals in so many brands--including some of the most popular ones. Consider companies that are a bit more conscientious about what they put in their products. Mineral makeup companies like Pur Minerals and Bare Minerals and naturally-focused companies like Origins have great facial products when it comes to foundations. If you're really health-conscious, stay clear of foundations that use chemical sunscreen ingredients like octinoxate. Even conscientious companies like Fresh sometimes use these :( Look for foundations that use either zinc or titanium dioxide to create a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. If you haven't read up on chemical sunscreen ingredients, they can actually be allergens, are sometimes considered moderate skin sensitizers (even making skin more sensitive to light over time), can effect hormone levels and/or your thyroid, etc.

Those are the basics! And if all else fails, get a really good moisturizer and a really good cleansing mask or scrub and go nude! Facially nude that is, I can't really advocate public nudity, but to each his/her own! I love fresh-faced looks. I don't care if someone doesn't have porcelain-perfect skin, sometimes it's just nice to see real faces rather than a sea of Barbie-like mugs. But hey, I love makeup, too. Figure out what makes you most comfortable and go with it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New products, new ideas.

There are quite a few new products in the works for B.Koi. Obviously Liplure is a priority, packaging is just causing some irritation but soon enough! I've been thinking about putting samples of soon-to-be-released products on the site prior to launching the full-size versions. This would allow you guys to try products out without having to wait long and then determine whether or not you're interested in purchasing the full size later. Liplure will not be one of the sample products as it's so close to being released, but there are several other products that would be released in the next month as samples prior to going up full-size.

What do you think?

Monday, June 6, 2011

A little peak ;)

After that heavy post on "greenwashing" I thought I'd add a little something lighter and more fun!

I wore Liplure today in Fuschia Love and took a quick pic with my DROID. Thought I'd share ;) I've been sick so I needed some serious color on my face haha! I know it's a bit of a tease since Liplure isn't on the site yet, but the reason I haven't been able to put it up yet is because I may change the final packaging and I'm waiting on my shipment from the new packaging manufacturer. They're taking forever! I think you may prefer the overall appearance and function of this new packaging. Hopefully Liplure will be on the site ASAP!

Liplure in Fuschia Love is a lovely fuschia color with a medium to high sheen. It is meant to be applied with a brush for the best application--for some reason it just applies with more pigmentation this way! This was applied without liner or lip primer on bare lips with a brush (mine!). You can layer Liplure to get a deeper overall effect, but it tends to be very pigmented when applied with a brush anyway. Also, when you apply Liplure to your lip if you allow it a minute it will even itself out to a glass-like finish as the oils, butters, and waxes smooth themselves out! Ironically, I just noticed that the lovely beauty blogger and makeup lover Mandy of Prettymaking blog just posted a review on this same color here! She has some fabulous eye looks so it's definitely worth subscribing to her blog. Love her style!

You can kind of tell the difference in the end result between the two application methods, though she did a lovely job applying it with her finger! I have this really weird thing about applying anything but chapstick in a tube to my lips with a brush. I even apply lipstick from the tube with a brush. The thought of putting it straight on my lips kind of makes me unjustifiably nutty haha. We all have our quirks!

Here it is!

 
Liplure in Fuschia Love




Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cosmetics Q&A: Greenwashing - What is it and what should you watch for?

Be warned, this is a super long post because it's a topic I feel very strongly about. I've worked as a copywriter for a number of different eco-friendly organizations and all natural companies in addition to my more traditional clients. Greenwashing is a big issue that not everyone is really aware of and I want to do my part to spread awareness because it keeps popping up in my professional and personal life! Hope you find this informative ;)


Have you heard the term Greenwashing? If not, you're probably wondering what it is and why I'm warning you about it!

Greenwashing is the term used to describe the marketing tactic in which companies use certain catch-phrases, terms, etc. or convey the message that products are green, eco-friendly, natural, etc. in order to move consumers to purchase those products. You may be surprised to find that just because a product says it is eco-friendly or all natural on its packaging that it doesn't mean it is. False advertisement? Yes, in my book.

The problem is, a green movement has been spreading for years now. Consumers are becoming more informed and more conscientious when it comes to purchasing. As a result, major companies that product everyday products and sell those products in major chains are feeling the pressure and seizing the opportunity to sell to a broader audience by offering green products. The problem is, just because companies offer green or natural products (according to them) it doesn't mean they really are what they say they are.

Why go through all the trouble to claim to be green or natural? I've seen many surveys in which consumers were asked how often they purchase green or natural products. The options were:

1. I go out of my way and would pay more to purchase green.
2. If a product is comparably priced and readily available I will purchase green.
3. I don't care whether or not I purchase green.

Most people fall into the second answer. Many people don't want to or can't spend more on organic, green, or all natural products, especially in this economy and housing marketing. If they go to Target for shampoo and see that the brand they normally purchase or another recognizable brand has a new natural shampoo sitting next to the one they normally buy, priced at about the same rate, many people would grab the natural one thinking they're making a healthier purchase choice. Unfortunately, this may not be the case.

For example, there is one company that claims to be all natural and has a baby line. In their shampoo/baby wash they list Sodium Benzoate (most likely as the preservative). Unfortunately, sodium benzoate (while it does occur naturally in some fruits and other items) in commercial use is generally synthetic. Whenever I see a company using Sodium Benzoate rather than other natural preservatives (grapefruit seed oil, rosemary oil, lemongrass oil, sweet orange oil, etc.) I immediately suspect that it is synthetic because while Sodium Benzoate does occur in nature, it occurs in much smaller amounts than what is necessary to preserve cosmetic products. Or what about all of the lathering products that contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate? While there is debate on exactly what harm it causes (some same it's a carcinogen and causes blindness and cancer while others simply say it's too strong a detergent for use on skin), it is clear that SLS is not something you want in your products. Unfortunately, it's synthetic and cheap so it's used in most of them. Even natural products will use SLS because it's derived from coconut oil. Sounds harmless right? Wrong! Unfortunately, SLS is typically synthetic and not something you want in your products.

How do you avoid Greenwashing? Go through ingredient labels with a fine tooth comb. If you don't know what an ingredient is, google it. I've become very familiar with a lot of ingredients (synthetic and natural) as a result of working in the cosmetics industry and trying to purchase as natural as possible for most of my life. However, I come across ingredients all the time that I'm not familiar with. Thank goodness for my DROID! I also look up ingredients online prior to purchasing if it's a brand new company I'm unfamiliar with. More often than not, if you don't know what an ingredient is (and the "common" name isn't listed in parentheses after the INCI term) it's probably synthetic. My rule for the ingredients for products for my kids is: If I can't buy it at the grocery store or natural food store as an individual ingredient, don't buy it. Meaning, if each individual ingredient isn't something that I can buy myself at a grocery store or natural food store, it's probably not something I want on their bodies! Now, that's just me. I'm not saying everyone has to choose to do this. It's really up to you and your preference, beliefs, etc. I tend to lean on the natural side more than the average person.

This is actually one of the reasons I go to such great lengths to make B.Koi products as natural as possible. While some synthetic ingredients have been unavoidable, in general I've been able to find natural alternatives. The biggest issue I run into is preservatives. Synthetic preservatives have a longer shelf-life in general. For some things that you won't use super quickly or that you don't spread in large amounts all over your body I've had to make compromises, but for the rest I've stuck to my guns. Liplure, where it goes on your lips, is one product I've refused to compromise on. I don't want to eat synthetic preservatives or ingredients, so Liplure is all natural right down to the preservatives.

Are you concerned about what you put on your body? Do a little test and grab your favorite shampoo, lotion, etc. Read the ingredients labels and look up a few of the ingredients you don't recognize. You may be surprised by what you find.

I know some sites can be super fanatical and claim there's antifreeze and motor oil in everything (not really, though I have heard similar claims), so it's important to do the research yourself if you're really concerned. I have one friend that is super, super "crunchy". She doesn't believe in any vaccination, uses completely natural products, believes in alternative medicines, etc. and she had some literature that claimed that different products contained super bizarre things. After going through the literature, I realized that some of it was true and then what the author did was claim that because the product was made of an ingredient that was also used to make something super toxic, they claimed it "contained the same ingredients as xyz toxic product". Well yes, they did include the same ingredient, but that ingredient in itself wasn't actually toxic and was super common. So while greenwashing is an issue, it's also important not to be snowed by people with the right motivations in mind but wrong information.

It's a constant process to weed through information and I spend a lot of time doing just that. Not everyone is as concerned and some people are even more concerned. I think it's best to find your balance, stay informed, and make an educated decision as to what risks you feel are legitimate and which you feel are all hype.

But just remember, marketing specialists are clever. Lots of time, money, and studies go into marketing. Just because it says "All Natural" or "Eco-friendly" doesn't mean it is!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Delayed, but thankful!

So not only is this thank-you delayed, but apparently I am a bit, too! I don't know how I missed this, but I received an incredibly sweet stylish blogger award at the beginning of May from Beth of http://blog-allthingsbeautiful.blogspot.com/.

Thank you so much, Beth! That was so incredibly sweet of you! I just went through the email associated with this blog looking for something and realized I'd never responded to this. I am SO sorry!

Love your blog by the way!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pre-made Base Frustration!!!! (Vent Session)

B.Koi Cosmetics NEVER, EVER uses pre-made bases for anything. Not for our eyeshadows, not for "Sure Thing", not for Liplure, and not for any of the other products I'm working on. I'm proud of the fact that I don't use dyes and steer clear of things like chromium green oxide (heavily uses in cosmetics). Yet every time I turn around I see a new indie pumping out product after product made from pre-made bases, using dyes, etc.

Not that they aren't creative in their own right, but how much work went into something that could be mixed and whipped up in 20 minutes without any research? It discourages me when I put months into each product type while other indies load collection after collection of products made from pre-made ingredients.  I am a perfectionist, so part of the length of time it takes to finalize a product recipe has to do with my desire to create the best possible product I can. The rest has to do with learning the chemistry of each product, determining the best ingredients for the product and for you, researching what I can use instead of dyes, finding the right packaging, etc.

I'm proud of what B.Koi has accomplished so far and I am so excited to release Liplure because it is truly fabulous. I'm just having a grumpy moment :(

At the end of the day, I would rather pour myself and my love of makeup into each of my products rather than create a massive inventory of products from unhealthy components, pre-made ingredients, etc.

Sorry, had to vent for a minute :) Feeling better now!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

All About Liplure (to be released June 2011)

Liplure is one of the new products that B.Koi will be releasing in June 2011. Liplure is a soft-solid lip product that is COMPLETELY natural, super pigmented, applies with a brush, and has a medium- to high-sheen finish! Liplure is not currently on the site, but will go up in the near future.  

Liplure comes in a pot/jar and is applies with a brush. It goes on super smooth and lasts for a decent amount of time as long as you're not eating. I find all lip products that aren't cemented to your lips come off while eating so I always wipe mine off because I HATE uneven lipstick/gloss, etc. 

Liplure has been a work in progress since 2010 and it has taken many, many hours of research, trial and error, and testing to get it the way it is. I am proud to say it is dye-free, fragrance-free, silicon-free, chromium green oxide-free, chemical-free, and free of any synthetic ingredients! 

Not that you know what Liplure does NOT include, here's what it does include:
  • Ingredients that have been refined/processed as little as possible
  • Super high quality oils, waxes, and vegetable butters
  • Essential oils for preservatives

Liplures will come in a wide variety of shades that we will add to over time. We have some gorgeous shades picked out to launch with that I'm sure you'll all absolutely fall in love with!

Check back soon, I'll be announcing the official release date ;)

Winners for B.Koi's Read My Lips Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone that entered our Read My Lips Giveaway! The winners for this giveaway have been chosen using Random.org and are:

First Prize - Chelsey Bishop
Second Prize - Foxxyb80

Congratulations, ladies!!!!

Now that we've revealed the winners, here are the prizes:
First Prize!

First Prize -
Sample of Liplure in Fuchsia Love
Sample of Liplure in Perky Melon
Sample of Octopus Sushi eyeshadow of the Sushi Boat Collection
Sample of Do Not Disturb eyeshadow from the All's Fair in Love & War collection
1 gram of Disco Dust Sparks
Full size "Sure Thing" eyeshadow adhesion serum


Second Prize -
Second Prize!
Sample of Liplure in Fuschia Love
Sample of Too Hot to Handle eyeshadow of the All's Fair in Love & War collection
Sample of Bubble Tea eyeshadow of the Sushi Boat collection
1 gram Top Hat Sparks
Sample of "Sure Thing" eyeshadow adhesion serum

Liplure is one of the new products that B.Koi will be releasing in June 2011. Liplure is a soft-solid lip product that is COMPLETELY natural, super pigmented, applies with a brush, and has a medium- to high-sheen finish! Liplure is not currently on the site, but will go up in the near future.  

Thank you again for entering the Read My Lips giveaway. We'll be emailing out 10% off promo codes to all that entered in the next few days!
We will have a few other new products this summer, so check back! We love to hold giveaways right before new products are released.

Have a fabulous day makeup lovers ;)

Quick update on the giveaway!

Hello makeup lovers! No, I'm not announcing the winners yet, sorry ;) People may enter until tomorrow morning at 10am. The two winners will be chosen after 10am and revealed through the blog and directly through their emails. I just wanted to update everyone so that you're not all wondering when you wake up when you should expect the announcement!

Thanks for the support and I am so excite to reveal the winners and prizes tomorrow!