Economy have you feeling blue? Try some red lipstick.

•October 23, 2008 • 1 Comment

You don’t need a scientist to prove that there is truth behind the idea of retail therapy. When you’re feeling down, there’s just something about shopping that makes it better. Even if the so-called “shopper’s high” is only temporary, during that shopping spree you are filling in your emotional void with a new shirt, DVD or — in my case –makeup.

The economy is hell right now, and the last thing any woman needs is to look like hell, too; It adds unnecessary insult to injury. When times are tight, people simply can’t justify throwing away thousands of dollars on a breast lift or tummy tuck. In 2007 and 2008, many cosmetic surgeons watched their businesses plummet as a result of the economy, some by as much as 30 percent. Although some women would prefer to pay for their lipo instead of their mortgage, most women are more finacially pragmatic.

So what’s a girl to do? Apparently, go shopping. Although sales for invasive plastic surgery procedures have fallen in the past year, revenue from makeup sales and less invasive cosmetic enhancements, such as dermal filler, has actually increased. According to Huffington Post blogger Kira Craft, Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estee Lauder, actually has a “lipstick theory,” which suggests the economy can be read by the rise and fall of lipstick sales. 

To me, it makes sense. If we can’t afford more lavish extravangances, why not pamper ourselves with more affordable indulgences? That being said, I’m going to take the bus to the mall now. I might not be able to fill my car up with gas, but I refuse to go lipstick-less.

Mascara? Check. Lip gloss? Check. Breast cancer? Check.

•October 20, 2008 • Leave a Comment

When I put on my makeup in the morning, as I sip my coffee and jam out to my iPod, the last thing I’m thinking about is whether or not I’m giving myself cancer. Some things, like smoking and tanning, definitely cause cancer.  Other practices have a more ambiguous link, such as using artificial sweeteners or talking on your cell phone. Radiation kills! Er, maybe. But putting on makeup?

According to the Environmental Working Group, 80 percent of 7,500 beauty products tested contained 146 chemicals linked to cancer. Some of the chemicals top the lists of main ingredients found in beauty products — parabens, fragrance and foaming agent dioxane, for example, can all lead to tumors. Beauty comes with a pricetag, but cancer is a bit too steep of a price for me.

Should we be worried? Yes and no. The research is tentative — if everything scientists said causes cancer (french fries?!) actually did cause cancer, we’d all be dead. But we can take steps to become more aware as shoppers. Always read makeup labels, and read them thoroughly. Even products labeled “organic” can legally contain synthetic chemicals. The National Organic Program has yet to decide whether or not so-called organic beauty products should be held to the same standards as organic foods. Just because an organic product is more expensive than the item it is next to on the shelf doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safer. 

Bottom line: Watch out for these chemicals when reading what’s in your makeup. If you don’t eat junk food, you shouldn’t put junk on your skin, either. You can thank me in a decade, when you’re cancer-free and sittin’ pretty.

Boys are beautiful, too

•October 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Why are men who care about their appearance looked down upon, or, at the very least, labeled as feminine? I think men should indulge in the occasional facial or manicure; It’s healthy, relaxing and gives them an aura of classiness and sophistication. No one wants to buy, say, a car from the man with a jungle-like unibrow and three weeks of grime caked under his toenails. If men maintain their cars with such fervent dedication, then they can maintain their appearance with similar gusto. 

So where do we draw the line between general upkeep and inexcusable girliness? I winced when I found out that my prom date in high school was wearing concealer on the big night. Even if it was to cover up a zit, it was nevertheless difficult for me to accept that I wasn’t the only person matching my skin tone to a foundation. Pete Wentz, Jared Leto and Brandon Flowers are all rockstars, and they also share the distinction of proudly wearing eyeliner, or “guyliner.”  The trend of men wearing foundation, eyeliner and even mascara is apparently catching on overseas as well.

Today’s New York Times called the use of Botox by men “hardly mainstream.” But that is far from the truth, at least in South Florida. That’s where I worked for a dermatologist who specialized in Botox, and guess what? Almost half of the people who came in for Botox were men. I’d go so far as to say that as far as cosmetic enhancements go, Botox is the most poplar among men. 

Our society is in a state of perpetual transformation. This past year was the first time we’ve seen a non-white man run for, and possibly even win, the presidency. A woman could potentially become our vice president. Britney Spears put out another CD, for God’s sake.  So I just don’t think it’s that big of a deal for a guy to wear makeup.

This October, forget pumpkin pie

•October 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Every time I see a jack-o’-lantern, I have the sudden urge to rub its innards all over my face — for good reason.  It’s officially fall, Halloween is around the corner and pumpkins are everywhere.  Starbucks is now featuring seasonal pumpkin spice lattes, Edy’s is selling a pumpkin ice cream, and Dairy Queen just launched a pumpkin pie Blizzard.  As tasty as these treats may be — I’ve already tried them all, mind you — indulging won’t do anything for your looks.  So if you want to fit into your Halloween costume, take advantage of pumpkin’s beauty benefits.

Have you ever wondered why a pumpkin is orange?  Me neither.  But it just so happens that pumpkins get their orange color from carotenoids, which neutralize free radicals and thereby prevent wrinkles.  Pumpkins are packed with antioxidants and skin-nourishing vitamins A, C and E.  But, wait, there’s more.  Pumpkin pulp also contains powerful enzymes that naturally exfoliate the skin, much like papaya.  But in my opinion, the scent of pumpkin is far more pleasant than papaya, which smells somewhat pungent.  So the next time you reach for a slice of pumpkin pie, try reaching for a pumpkin face mask instead. 

If you’re still craving something to get you in a festive mood, there are a bunch of Halloween-inspired beauty products on the market.  One of my favorites is the Philosophy’s Haunted House kit, an adorable package I recently purchased.  Trick or treat!

Bimatoprost eyelash treatment will drop next summer

•October 9, 2008 • Leave a Comment

The FDA pulled growth-stimulating eyelash treatments earlier this year, worried that the prescription-grade drugs contained in the products would cause safety issues.  Since then, Allergan has conducted successful clinical trials on a prescription cosmetic drug that actually makes your eyelashes longer and thicker.  FDA approval is pending, but the currently unnamed product is expected to be available sometime next summer.

This product is unlike Jan Marini’s Marini Lash, an over-the-counter product that contains vitamins, peptides, moisturizers and plant extracts.  Allergan’s product contains bimatoprost, an active ingredient contained in Lumigan — the company’s glaucoma medication.  When Lumigan came out, doctors noticed that patients who were applying the medication with an eye dropper were beginning to develop longer, thicker and darker eyelashes as a side effect.  Allergan then decided to bottle the bimatoprost for cosmetic uses.  The product comes in a tube, identical to a mascara tube, and is applied with a wand like liquid eyeliner.

Many similar products exist on the market, such as Revitalash and Jan Marini’s Age Intervention Eyelash Conditioner.  DermaLash recently launched its eyelash conditioner in black, cocoa, indigo and plum so that the product can be worn during the day like makeup.  None of these products, however, actually makes eyelashes grow.  They work by conditioning the lashes and making them healthier.  If you’re willing to shell out about $150 for any of these products, they’re definitely worth it.  Someone gave me a tube of Revitalash about six months ago, and my eyelashes appeared longer in about two weeks. 

Some people remain worried about potential side effects.  But I can’t wait to get Allergan’s product next summer.  If it’s good enough for the FDA, it’s good enough for me.

First came high-definition TVs. Then came high-definition faces.

•October 2, 2008 • Leave a Comment

According to the Associated Press, people who want to look perfect can turn to high-definition makeup.  People who are familair with HD on TV love how it makes colors (and people) seemingly pop off the screen, making them feel like they are actually at the baseball game, or alongside their favorite celebrity.  Few people, however, know about the pitfalls of high-definition. 

In this case, its primary advantage and disadvantage are one in the same: HD makes everything, and I do mean everyhting, crystal-clear.  That’s a little too clear for television personalities who want to hide wrinkles or blemishes.  Because traditional television broadcasts were fuzzier, imperfections were blurred.  The camera may add 10 pounds, but it sure makes your skin look clearer.  But with HD, one can practically count the host’s pores. 

Not surprisignly, the introduction of high-definition makeup came shortly after HD started booming.  Stars who panicked after seeing what they actually looked like (eek!) could attain physical perfection once more with airbrushed makeup, which is basically the process of applying liquid foundation with a spray can.  The composition of the makeup used is crafted to reflect rather than absorb light, visibly scattering imperfections.  Several brands have come out with HD lines, including Smashbox, Makeup Forever and Cargo.  Cargo took it a step further by naming its line Blu_Ray, with an underscore rather than a dash.  Cute.

Is high-definition makeup really necessary for the masses, though?  I’ll admit that special occasions call for spectacular makeup.  I’ve seen brides-to-be get the “blushing bride” look with the help of airbrushing.  Airbrushed tans are a safe alternative toa real tan for girls wishing to look darker for prom.  But is HD makeup for the everyday grind really necessary?  If I need to run to Publix, I’m going to pass on the airbrush.  But that’s me.

What it comes down to is competition, in addition to our society’s need for physical perfection.  If your next door neighbor’s skin looks better than yours because she’s wearing HD makeup, you’ll be more likely to run out and buy some to “keep up with the Jones,'” as they say.  People see their favorite celebutantes getting airbrushed before awards shows, and shows like Sunset Tan only perpetuate the spray-tan craze.  But what’s so wrong with looking like a living, breathing human being?  Relax, guys.  Freckles give personality, and zits happen.  I say we leave the HD to our TVs.

Goodbye, tan-demonium

•October 2, 2008 • 1 Comment

For years doctors have been warning us about the dangers of the sun.  “Wear protective clothing,” they cautioned.  We wore short-shorts and tank tops.  “Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.,” they pleaded.  That’s feasible, if you’re a vampire.  “Wear sunscreen,” they begged.  Well, sunscreen takes too long to apply  for people who don’t even have time for breakfast.  Plus, it’s sticky.  Yuck.  But something tells me people are going to start listening, not because there’s a skin cancer epidemic or because those crow’s feet are beginning to show, but because the fashion industry says so.  White is the new black. 

The Huffington Post’s Verena von Pfetten says it best: Tan is the New Tacky.  Unfortunately, I don’t know how long this counter-trend will last.  Tanning trends, like all fashion crazes, seem to move in all-too-predictable cycles; in the fall and winter, pale skin accentuates the richer burgundies, ceruleans and jades that dominate the clothing industry, whereas in the spring, tans make lighter colors pop.  I’m sure that come March, every magazine will once again be touting the faux glow. 

Back in the olden days, I’m talking medieval times, pale was the way to be.  Look at Queen Elizabeth I, she took pale to a whole new level.  Whiteness was a way of saying to the world, “I haven’t been working the fields with the boorish serfs, just look at how creamy my skin is.”  Back then it was also attractive to be fat, for the same reasons.  Beauty was much easier then, imagine how happy starved tanorexics would be if they could just let loose and be fat and white.

In many countries, like Africa and Asia, it is still en vogue to be fair.  Some of the most popular beauty products abroad contain skin-lightening agents.  One such agent is hydroquinone, a skin-whitening product that is used in the U.S. for melasma.  It’s also good for freckles and acne scars, by the way.  So why does it seem like every country except the U.S. is embracing the natural?  Because other countries have caught on to the fact that fair skin looks delicate and elegant, and you don’t die from being pale.

White is a’ight.