Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cosmetics Q&A: Big, Bad Parabens

Paraben-awareness has been spreading for quite a while, and as a result many companies are refraining from using them. Makeup lovers may know they should avoid parabens, but does the average consumer know why?

I can't remember where I first became aware of parabens in cosmetics, but I do remember researching what they were shortly after. I was shopping today through one of my favorite beauty websites and just before I went to add an item to my cart I double-checked the ingredients. I'm glad I did! There in black and white were big, bad parabens. My heart dropped because this beauty product was one I'd been wanting for some time and it was finally on sale. I was so bummed I actually checked the manufacturer's site, which only confirmed that the product included parabens. So frustrating! But, silver lining, it inspired this post.

What are parabens?

Parabens are defined as esters, which are compounds formed from alcohol and p-hydroxybenzoic acid. 

What types of products contain parabens? 

Just about everything! Here's a short list of just a FEW of the many products we use daily that contain parabens:
  • Cosmetics: moisturizer, lipstick, foundation, "anti-wrinkle" creams, toothpaste, concealer, eye makeup, and makeup removers
  • Hygienic products: shampoo,  sunscreen, bandages, topical ointments, deodorant, and eye drops
  • Household or industrial products: textiles and glues
  • Food products: mustard, processed vegetables, frozen dairy products, salad dressing, mayonnaise, jelly, soft drinks, and baked goods
What are they used for in cosmetics?

Parabens are used in cosmetics as preservatives.


Why do some people consider them a health risk?

Parabens are considered  xenoestrogens, which means they have a similar shape to estrogen and can act as a sort of pseudo estrogen. What's the problem with too much estrogen? You never want to mess with the hormonal balance of your body. You may be thinking--does this mean my makeup can give me PMS? That's not the issue. The concern is increased cancer rates as a result of paraben exposure. 


Is their proof parabens may be a health hazard?

Yes, studies have been conducted specifically to determine the affects of parabens on the body and the results have shown they can be a health concern. Here are just 2 of the many studies: 

  • A study that was published in the 2004 Journal of Applied Toxicology, Darbre, detected parabens in breast tumors. The study also discussed data regarding the estrogen-like properties of parabens and the role estrogen plays in breast cancer. The study did not prove that parabens cause cancer, but it did prove that parabens are found in breast cancer tumors and that estrogen (which parabens can act as) plays a part in the development of cancer in individuals.
  • Dr. S. Oishi of the Department of Toxicology, Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health reported that exposure of newborn male mammals to butylparaben “adversely affects the secretion of testosterone and the function of the male reproductive system"--July 2002 issue of the Archives of Toxicology.
Why does the FDA allow the use of parabens in cosmetics if there are possible risks?

According to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the FDA does not regulate ingredients in cosmetics with the exception of dyes (except coal-tar hair dyes). So as a result, the FDA does not oversee the use of parabens in cosmetics. The FDA acknowledges that parabens can ask as estrogen in the body and the FDA acknowledges that estrogen is associated with certain forms of cancer, however, the FDA believes that parabens act as a weaker form of estrogen.

If the FDA isn't worried, why should I avoid parabens?

For starters, the FDA determined that parabens were not enough of a health risk to avoid when the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reviewed the safety of methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben in 1984. The CIR concluded they were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%. Parabens are typically used at levels from .1%-.3%.

My questions regarding this information are:
  • First of all, 1984? Almost 3 decades later we're still relying on that information?
  • It's well and good to say we use levels in each product lower than the maximum level, but it is also acknowledged that because parabens are in almost everything these days that our levels of exposure are high and unknown.
What's the bottom line on parabens?

Until the FDA determines parabens are hazard enough for people to avoid them, they will continued to be used. As a result, it is up to individual makeup lovers to determine if they're willing to wait and take a risk. Parabens really are in just about everything so it may take some changes of habit and products to avoid them, but the good news is that so many companies are aware of the possible health effects that there are many paraben-free products readily available. I personally have chosen to avoid them whenever possible. I like to err on the side of caution (as you've probably already gathered if you read my blog regularly), but I really believe the choice is up to each individual. Do the research, take a minute to think it through, and make a choice you're confident and comfortable with.

How do I find paraben-free products?

There are so many natural companies out there that avoid parabens and even traditional companies often offer paraben-free products. If you're looking for something in particular either look up the ingredients yourself on the company site or you can always go to your local beauty store and look at the product packaging. The more you try to avoid parabens, the more you'll become aware of companies you can stick to. If you like to shop at Sephora they often notate if a product does not include parabens among other things. 

Final Thoughts

Just because you avoid parabens does not mean you have to give up beauty! Some of your favorite companies may already be paraben-free or offer paraben-free products. If not, you can always ask a beauty professional such as a natural-minded makeup artist or professional at a store like Sephora. Remember to always check ingredients for yourself, but these beauty professionals may be able to point you in the right direction towards some really great products!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

EOTD: Blue Nostalgia

The reason I named this look Blue Nostalgia is because these are all colors I wore on my first official date with hubs. Our anniversary is in exactly 2 months and with 2 kids we have to start planning what we'll do now or we'll end up ordering delivery and watching Netflix, which is fine, but if being married almost 6 years has taught us anything, it's that we need to put an effort into spending some time together in a more romantic setting if/when we have the chance!

So here's the look:

Blue Nostalgia EOTD
I'm not quite sure why it looks a little overexposed, tonight was just one of those nights where no matter how many times I tried and how much I messed around with settings and lighting, I just wasn't getting exactly what I wanted out of my camera. I love wearing any vivid color and I think these blues are fabulous. The inner blue is actually more of a blue with green shimmer and then the other two blues used are varying shades of dark blue.

And yes, I am wearing falsies because I needed a night off from my mascara drama! Still looking for the right one, still haven't found it.

Here's what I used:
If for some reason the link for the Fyrinnae shadow doesn't work I'm not quite sure why. I know that's the correct link, but even when I googled Fyrinnae I couldn't bring up the company site. Is it down?

I really think this is a wearable look even if it is all blue. At least I'd wear it on a regular day ;)

Fall Beauty is Just Around the Corner & I'm Dying to Get There!

I love the fall! I love everything about it, but this year I'm super excited because the trends this fall (in my opinion) are amazing! The colors alone are so fabulous, especially when it comes to beauty. I love how deep they are, the varying finishes (shimmery, creamy, matte), and I have this really crazy thing for silver makeup on eyes. Loving everything!

I've been trying to keep up on all of the products being released by my favorite beauty companies and so far, my list of must-haves is growing far too long ;) Here are just a few of the products I'm dying to get my hands on:
  • Too Faced's Smokey Eye Palette (newest one)
  • MUFE Aqua Liners (all of them)
  • Ultraflesh Black Magic
  • Dior Blue Tie Palette
  • MAC Runway Red lipstick (Mac Me Over collection)
  • The list goes on and on...
I haven't done a giveaway in a while, so I've been contemplating having one soon. I have a few ideas for themes, products, etc.

We'll see!

Oh also, I've been waiting to announce this just in case anything happens (Murphy's Law and all), but I should be posting an interview soon with an individual from a popular cosmetics company regarding a VERY popular product. Sorry, I know that's super vague. This post is going to have a little bit of an interesting twist, so stay tuned!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Maybelline Falsies Flared Waterproof Mascara

While I'm not a huge fan of most drugstore makeup, mascara is one area I'm completely open to any product regardless of whether it's high-end or drugstore. Still on the hunt for the perfect mascara, I grabbed Maybelline's newer Falsies Flared mascara in waterproof "blackest black". I gave this mascara a week of trial and think I have a fairly good idea of how it works. Here we go...

At First Glance
Packaging: The packaging is pretty much identical to all of the other Maybelline falsies, with the exception of the silver wing graphic and text. It was actually the wings that caught my eye first. I have this weird thing for wings and feathers, not sure why!

Maybelline spoon curler brush
Brush: Unlike some of the other Falsies spoolie brushes, Maybelline refers to this brush as a "spoon curler brush". As you can sort of see in the picture, the underside of the spoolie actually dips down and the entire brush is curved like a spoon. It is a real mascara brush with bristles, too, not one of the rubbery or plastic ones.

Claim v. Reality
Claim (according the product page on Maybelline's site):
  • 300% more visible lashes
  • Fanned out lashes as a result of spoon curler brush
  • Volume without clumping because of pro-keratin formula
Here's the reality:
After trying this mascara for about a week, I've found that it does actually give lashes length and some volume. There was the tiniest bit of clumping, but lashes really did flare out and were mostly separated. I've included images from the two coats I did (it didn't require more than that to get noticeable results).

Pathetic naked lashes that have been curled. So sad :(

1st Coat: As you can see, the mascara not only defined and lengthened my lashes, it actually curled them as well.

2nd Coat: Here's the second coat. More length, more curl, more volume! The only tip I have is don't take pics between coats (Maybelline suggestion not to apply more once it's dry) as it causes a tiny bit of clumping.
Closed Eye View: Look, I have lashes!!! Here you can see that while there is some clumping, it really isn't that bad. It's also mostly due to the fact that I had to wait to take the pic between coats which allowed the first coat to dry.

Major Pros or Cons:
  • Con - Mascara ingredients are seriously anything but natural, so if you want drama (from what I've found so far) you have to relent and use whatever works best regardless of the ingredients for the most part.
  • Pro - It's waterproof! Major pro!
  • Pro - It's drugstore so it's cheap! I think I paid $6.50 or so? Major pro!
  • Pro - It dries to a very dry-feeling consistency. I didn't notice it breaking off when I wore it, but it makes me wonder if I had a long day or less than ideal weather if it would get super brittle. I prefer mascaras that leave my lashes with a nice rubbery feel to them. I was kind of surprised how dry this felt when I touched my lashes because other Maybelline Falsies didn't dry this way.
Overall Impression:
I'm a little torn on this one. On the one hand, it did give me a noticeable effect. On the other hand, the dry texture of the mascara on my lashes isn't something I like and I almost feel like the mascara is a bit less "shiny black" than other mascaras--though this is certainly a dark black mascara.

Price: $6.50 from what I have seen.

Would I recommend it or use it again?
Is this my Holy Grail mascara? No

Would I use this mascara again? Definitely. I'll probably alternate this in to my lineup of mascaras. I usually have 4 or 5 different mascaras in rotation at any one time ;)

Would I recommend this? I'd definitely suggest this to someone looking for curl and length, but I would also mention what I feel are downsides--dryness mostly.

If you'd like to purchase Maybelline Falsies Flared mascara, you can go to Maybelline's site HERE or try visitingTarget, CVS, or any other drugstore that carries Maybelline products.''

This product was purchased by me. All opinions stated above are my own.

Finally Took the Dinair Plunge!

I have wanted an airbrush system to apply my foundation FOREVER! I hate most foundations in general. I find them too thick, too thin, too drying, too ineffective coverage-wise, etc. The list goes on and on. I've always had a very even complexion, but the closer I get to 30, the more I notice my once compliment-worthy complexion is looking a bit ... in need of a little help. I blame hubs and the boys ;) Just kidding, it's mostly work and age in all seriousness. I drink lots of water (it's actually my favorite thing to drink throughout the day), moisturize with fabulous natural products, cleanse my skin with gentle, natural cleansers, etc. It seems as though I've finally got to just accept the fact that on days that I want to look my best, I probably need a little help!



I have been makeup-lusting after a Dinair for so long, but just couldn't justify the expense. Yesterday I finally took the plunge! And believe it or not, hubs actually encouraged it haha. Should I kind of take that as an insult that he thinks I need it? Just kidding, it's not that at all. He knows how much I've wanted one. He's even been so kind as to sit through me showing him one YouTube video after another of real makeup lovers using them. The before and afters always blow me away haha. Even he couldn't pretend it wasn't impressive.

Enter Dinair Personal-Pro! 

Why a Dinair?

Other than the reviews, one of the things I like about Dinair airbrush systems is the fact that they're meant for use with water-based foundations. While they set quickly, you all know how I feel about silicon/silicone!

Will I use it every day?

I very much doubt that. I don't hate my skin at all and I still have clear skin (once a month it might give me a little trouble in a spot or two). I do think that I will use it fairly regularly though, and I intend to experiment with using it others, too!

Will I use it for more than foundation?

Obviously I won't be using it as my personal in-home spray tanner haha (that's not what it's meant for). I'll use it for contouring and blush, but I doubt very much that I will delve much into the world of airbrush eye looks. I could be wrong, but as of right now I really love working with traditional shadows (loose, pressed, baked, etc.).

What's the cost?

The personal-pro kid starts at $199 and includes a lot of different things such as:
  • 4 foundation shades (pick from fair, medium, tan, or dark)
  • 4 bonus shades 
  • Moist and Dewy spray-on moisturizer
  • Airtan facial tanner
  • beauty airbrush
  • airbrush case
  • how-to DVD
  • airbrush cleaner
  • caps and cleaning band
  • 6' hose
  • AC adapter
  • free gift
  • and a few things to help you perfect using the airbrush system!
It comes in your choice of champagne, white pearl, red sparkle or black onyx for the price of $199, but for an additional fee you can choose from a number of other colors.

I am so eager to get this and review it! I think it'll be here within a week or so. Fingers crossed I love it haha.

You can view the kits here and even purchase it directly from Dinair if you just can't help yourself! http://www.airbrushmakeup.com/personal/kit-includes/

If you already have a Dinair, what do you think of it?