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· Beauty Notes: EcoLips
· Beauty Notes: I Like This
· The Weekend Blogger: Bit of hauling
· Beauty Notes: I Like This
· The Weekend Blogger: Mixed bag
· Beauty Notes: Mists & Hydrosols - Part I
· Beauty Notes: Lip Rejuvenation?
· Beauty Notes: I Like This
· Beauty Notes: Auric Blends
· The Weekend Blogger: A bit of randomness
· Beauty Notes: Pressed Mineral Makeup
· The Weekend Blogger: Foot Petals preliminary review
· Beauty Notes: Balm Hunt
· The Weekend Blogger: Back to work

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· June 29, 2008 12:08 AM by Blogger Dain
· June 29, 2008 2:20 PM by Blogger Colleen Shirazi
· June 24, 2008 7:43 AM by Blogger Perfumeshrine
· June 22, 2008 8:38 PM by Blogger Dain
· June 17, 2008 4:36 PM by Blogger Dain
· June 17, 2008 4:47 PM by Blogger Joy Rothke
· June 15, 2008 11:23 PM by Blogger Dain
· June 16, 2008 1:12 PM by Blogger Joy Rothke
· June 8, 2008 6:41 PM by Blogger Dain
· June 9, 2008 12:13 PM by Blogger Perfumeshrine
· June 7, 2008 3:12 AM by Blogger Dain
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The Lipstick Page Forums Beauty & Fashion Blog: June 2008

Beauty Notes: EcoLips
Posted by Joy Rothke, Monday, June 30, 2008 2:02 PM (Eastern)

A lifetime of lip balm use has made me an expert, and I'm very particular about the balms I use. They have to be non-waxy, organic, soothing and preferably, moderately priced. I keep tubes and tins of lip balm all over the place [desk, car, bathroom, purse, etc.] so I prefer to keep the cost under $5, since inevitably, some will disappear or get misplaced.

I started using EcoLips last year, after reading about them in someone's blog. I liked the fact that they're an American, family-owned company based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. They offer a wide variety of balms, including vegan and vegetarian. Their prices are reasonable, with most balms between $1.99 - 3.99.

I ordered a selection and they're all excellent. My favorite is their Organic Eco Lips Gold ($3.49). It's 99% organic and exceptionally soothing (Ingredients: Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Sunflower Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax, Vitamin E, Organic Calendula Flower Extract, Vitamin A. Cruelty,Gluten and Petrolatum free. No Hydrogenated Oils.) This lip balm addict considers Eco Lips one of the top three lip balms on the market (the other two are Badger Balm and Aroma Borealis.)

If you're looking for a light colored balm/lipstick substitute for summer, try Eco Tints ($3.99 ea; set of 3, $9.99), a 99% organic gluten/carmine/lanolin free lip moisturizer in Rose Quartz, Plush Red and Mocha Velvet.

Along with hundreds of other Cedar Rapids business owners, Eco Lips has been hit hard by flood damage. They're back in business and offering a free Eco Lips Organic Gold Lip Balm with any order over $10.00, and free shipping to the U.S. for orders over $15.00. Use the coupon code: FLOOD. This offer is good through August. This is a good time to try some excellent products and help an indie business get back on its feet.

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Beauty Notes: I Like This
Posted by Joy Rothke, Sunday, June 29, 2008 12:04 PM (Eastern)

Sensatia Botanicals

A primary benefit of using natural and organic products is the opportunity to sample things from from all over the world, and encounter product lines I'd never know about if I bought everything at Nordstrom, CVS or even Whole Foods.

Sensatia Botanicals is a small line of 100% natural products from the island of Bali. I'm hooked on their essential oil blends and body oils, especially the
Balinese Herbal Lulur Body Oil ($17.95/100 ml.) It's a Balinese home remedy, and made of a traditional blend of oils, including sandalwood, fennel, star anise, eaglewood, fenugreek, gandepure and laurel leaf. It's a very soothing and earthy fragrance. I like to add a few drops to an unscented body lotion or cream.


I can't decide if naming a hair product "Product" is a good idea or a way to get caught in an endless Abbott and Costello "what's its name" loop. It's a basic, little organic hair product with five organic ingredients: shea butter, aloe vera, vitamin E (tocopherol), beeswax, and fragrance ($14.00/1.5 oz.)

I use just the tiniest amount, emulsify between my palms, and work it into wet or dry hair. I'm happy with the simplicity of a simple, all purpose hair product, and also appreciate the convenience of a single jar. This is a great product for traveling.

Love Potion Magickal Perfumerie

Even though they're in my backyard, I only recently learned about Hollywood-based Love Potion Magickal Perfumerie. They've been around since 1986, mixing up quite a selection of "hand-crafted, micro-brewed" fragrances, almost all of which are limited editions--other than their signature "Love Potion" line. They were doing the BPAL thing long before BPAL.

Perfumer Mara Fox sent me a bunch of varied samples, and I've been trying them for the past few months. Her line is large and varied, ranging from pheromone-enhanced scents like Super for Men, Super for Women, PheroGirl Cuddle Bunny and Synchonicity ($24.95/1/4 oz.)

My favorite is Allegro, an ode to the Goddess of Joy. Allegro is a light but long-lasting green/fruity blend, and includes a bit of the pheromone Alpha-Androstenol, which is a mood elevator ($24.95/1/3 oz.)

Yoga Toes

My family's first reaction to my YogaToes was puzzlement over the "big old pink plastic things" on my feet. I politely explained that they're my YogaToes ($49.95) and that I'm stretching my feet.

There's no a stiletto in sight in my shoe closet; it's mostly flip-flops, Tevas, Birks and sneakers, so my feet are in fairly good condition. Nevertheless, I've found YogaToes helps my good feet feel even better.

They're simple to use. Slide/wiggle your toes into the flexible gel YogaToes, and wear for 15 minutes or so. I find the first 30 seconds or so slightly uncomfortable as my feet adjust to the stretch, but after that, I barely feel them, and can wear them for an hour or more. (They're not designed for walking, but you can stumble around the house if need be.) They come in two sizes and a number of colors, and have a 90-day unconditional guarantee. If you're a runner, dancer or someone who sacrifices foot comfort for high-heeled fabulousness, give these a try.

Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate

Liz Earle is one of the biggest names in natural skincare in the UK, and her products are now available in North America. Superskin Concentrate ($34.00/0.3 fl. oz) has everything I like in a skincare product: portability (it's in a wee rollerball bottle), organic and filled with a variety of soothing, light and quick-absorbing oils like hazelnut, argan, rosehip and avocado.

I've been using this a few nights a week. It's simple, easy to use, and I wake up with smooth, glowing skin.

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The Weekend Blogger: Bit of hauling
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, June 28, 2008 11:47 PM (Eastern)

I shop rather strategically now; long gone are the days of carefree middle-class browsing. An item is either astronomically expensive, requiring months, even years, of planning to acquire, or else it tends to be junk, worth less than the space it occupies. It's truly an art to figure out where to shop, and to emerge with something of value, without blowing half a week's paycheck over it.

This time I went to a b & m bead shop, something I don't do often anymore. But sometimes it's worth the markup to be able to choose individual beads, particularly for earrings. I got some carnelian and some jade beads. I had this odd impulse to make red earrings, and I've wanted for some time to use green jade for something.

On to our local health food store, where I repurchased Dr. Hauschka Cleansing Cream. Normally the price would have been a tad appalling, but I tried this out first as a sample, loved it, bought a full sized tube, found it lasted five months and noticeably improved my acne-prone skin. I felt it was a good purchase.

On a bit of an impulse, I also bought a Zia pressed powder compact. I'm almost out of my traditional MAC Blot pressed, and was planning on the trek out to the MAC counter to repurchase it, but if this stuff works, I'd rather buy it instead. I've long fallen out of love with MAC in general, so the Back to MAC isn't much of an incentive to me anymore, plus the customer service at our local MAC Counter isn't much of an encouragement to go there. The first two ingredients listed are mica and cornstarch. I've used Zia liquid foundation for years, to make tinted sunscreen, so I'm fairly optimistic about the powder prospect.

Finally, I picked up Avalon Organics Lavender shampoo, since I had run out of their Lemon Clarifying one. The Lavender is more moisturizing, but then I often use two shampoos anyway--a little tea tree oil shampoo on my scalp (Giovanni, but I'm thinking of trying the Paul Mitchell one when that runs out), and a different one on the rest of my hair (it's not as complicated as it sounds, just slap on a bit of one and a bit of the other, and lather).

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June 29, 2008 12:08 AM, Blogger Dain said...

I want to try those Avalon Organics now. I really need to get myself to a Whole Foods soon, and root around the products section.

June 29, 2008 2:20 PM, Blogger Colleen Shirazi said...

There's a lot of bath & body at health food stores...and some of it is really good. Some of it is bad--Jason shampoos are terrible, imo, and Kiss My Face is only eh.

Avalon, Alba Hawaiian, Giovanni, Nature's Gate Organics...all good. There's one I always look at called Desert Essence. It costs a bit more but it smells stupendous.

I rotate shampoos, since I wash my hair every day. Otherwise there's no way to prevent buildup. I like to have three shampoos in the shower at a given time, and two conditioners. :D

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Beauty Notes: I Like This
Posted by Joy Rothke, Sunday, June 22, 2008 12:38 PM (Eastern)

I'm not a hot weather person. This summer, I've promised myself to have a Zen-like attitude towards the heat. I'm accepting the weather as it is--and this being Southern California, that means a lot of dry heat. We've had our first heat wave of the year, and the temps the last several days have been over 100.

In this sort of heat, I like to use light, cooling and minimalist products--just enough to keep my skin clean and hydrated. A number of the new products I've been testing are heatwave-worthy.

Solavedi Hibiscus Daily Cleansing Milk

Carollanne Crichton runs Solavedi, an organic/Ayurvedic-based skincare and bodywork company. She sent me several samples last week of products she thought appropriate for my
Vata-Kapha skin. Ayurveda is India's 5000-year-old traditional herbal medicine, and puts people into three doshas or categories: Vata, Kapha or Pita. Vata (also spelled Vatta) skin like mine is frequently dry, mature and may have hyper-pigmentation.

The Hibiscus Cleansing Milk ($12, 8 oz.) is a light, mildly fragrant mix of organic light sesame oil, purified water, organic carrot seed oil, organic rosa mosqueta oil, rose absolute essential oil, hibiscus distillate, French lavender essential oil, juniper distillate and French white clay. It got the dirt and muck of a 95 degree day off my face without stripping it or making my skin feel tight.

A light and cooling toner is a must in this weather, especially when the heat is causing a mild rosacea flare. I've been using Kimberly Sayer of London Organic Lavender Toner ($29, 5 oz.) Sayer is a famous London facialist/esthetician whose skincare products are now available in the USA. This toner is especially soothing for dry, red and rosacea-prone complexions, and I particularly like the way the bottle delivers an exceptionally gentle mist.

I have dark, undereye circles most of the time, but the combination of summer heat, allergies and LA pollution makes them particularly evident this time of year. About six weeks ago, I started using Derma e Organic Expressions Brighter Eye Creme ($19.50, 1/2 oz.) I'd seen their products in Whole Foods, and wanted to try some of their newer organic products. I've been using Brighter Eye Creme as a treatment under my regular eye cream, and I like the light texture and quick absorption. There's no hydroquinone (a possible carcinogen) in any of Derma e's brightening products--a product best avoided. Instead, it uses Pycnogenol®, organic Almond and Safflower oils and Shea Butter, among other ingredients.

And it's working. I've been using it twice daily since May 12, and I can see some definite lightening of the dark circles.

Allergies also bring out the eye bags, so I've been using Simply Divine Botanicals Pack Your Bags They're Leaving Instant Gratification Eye Gel ($39.95, 1 oz.) Simply Divine's a super-crunchy company run by Master Herbalist in, of all places, Las Vegas. This gel, with its ingredients of "Unconditional Love and Gratitude, Cucumber, 24 kt Gold, Seaweed, Sea Buckthorn oil, Watermelon seed oil, Essential oils of Frankincense, Myrrh, Tangerine and Lemongrass and Vitamin E" works, they say, by activating the kidney's acupuncture meridians.

It's a very light and cooling gel that did tighten under my eyes, without the tight, cement-like effect of other products I've tried. Sample sizes available.

I've had mild rosacea for about 10 years, and until this summer, it was only very cold weather that exacerbated it. rosacea has decided that it doesn't like hot weather as well. I don't want to take Rx antibiotics or topical gels, the usual treatment for rosacea, so I did some research on available products.

Rosacea Care Products in Rhode Island sells an extensive line of rosacea treatments. These aren't glamorous or elegantly packaged, but they sounded effective, so I've been giving them a try. Rosacea Care sent me a sample of six of their products, and I've been slowly introducing them into my skincare regimen, as suggested. My favorite so far is the Willowherb Serum With Vitamin K ($52, 1 oz.) When I saw that the primary ingredient is Willowherb from the Yukon Territory (my favorite place on earth) I had a feeling this was made for me. I've been alternating it with Strontium Calming Lotion ($38, 2 oz.) that can be used both as a localized treatment or a fragrance-free moisturizer. The Calming Lotion contains COSMEDERM-7, a strontium compound developed at the University of California, San Diego. According to them, this compound "electively blocks the irritation-producing nerve endings (type C nociceptors) that become activated when itching, burning and stinging occur from any cause." Sample sizes available.

If I want a simple moisturizer, I've been reaching for Lily Organic's Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Cream ($29.90, 2 oz.) Like all of Lily's products, it's 100 percent vegetarian, and full of soothing ingredients like sweet almond oil, shea butter, kosher vegetable glycerin, tincture of lily flower, soy protein, hectorite mineral, citrus seed extract. All the Lily products are made in small weekly batches, so the products she ships from Boulder, Colorado are always fresh. Sample sizes

When it's so hot, the only kind of scent I consider is something light and cool--usually something lemon. Pacifica Candles now has an aerosol and solid perfume line, and their Malibu Lemon Blossom (aerosol $19.95, 1.2 oz; solid $8.95, 0.3. oz) is the sort of light and refreshing citrus/herbal scent that works on triple digit days.

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June 24, 2008 7:43 AM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

I admire your Zen acceptance. I get irritated myself and break the trance!
Thanks for the recs though :-)

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The Weekend Blogger: Mixed bag
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, 2:38 AM (Eastern)

A photo tour of Iran...the music is killer

I suspect I have nothing cohesive to say, so have elected to use a bullet list.

  • Skin. Finally used the last squeeze of Dr. Hauschka's Cleansing Cream. The tube lasted about five months, used once per day (I use the Cleansing Milk at night). I tried going without it for several days to see what would happen, and have decided my skin was better off with it. I was going to repurchase it today, then got caught up finishing some earrings I'd been fiddling around with for weeks, so I'll probably shoot for tomorrow, but it's a keeper.

  • Clothes. Here's a tip I got from the administrative assistant at my job. You can get rid of static cling by spinning your clothes in the dryer--no heat--with a dryer sheet. These are clothes you have to line dry, so line-dry them first, but it really does work.

    While I was at it, I tossed in some clothes I'd normally have to iron. If they're not super wrinkly, you may not need to iron them.

  • Perfume. Debating between Patou's Joy and Sublime as my next perfume (after I've used up Etro's Heliotrope). I've been wearing Sublime as a's a tad too sweet worn alone, but so what, so is Montale's Aoud Blossom. It's a sentimental choice, as would be Joy, but Sublime is the more significant of the two to me.

    Sublime is about Washington State in the early 1990's, when Kurt Cobain was still alive, and Nordstrom still had superior customer service (okay, they probably still do in Washington State, but it's lousy here). I was a starving student and loved passing by the perfume counter at Nordies, and this was one of the fragrances I coveted most.

  • Shoes. I've been okay with the shoes I got. They're not my dream shoes, which would be Cydwoq, Jim Barnier or Taryn Rose (in that order). Something more beautiful, more durable.

    I'm not really against high heels, I just don't wear them. I can see the point; they are a sculpture. For something like a party or occasion, I would consider wearing them...I had some when I was fifteen or so, that were genuine stiletto heels (not super high, but actual heel-heels).

    My gripe is finding shoes that look the way I want them to look, yet allow me to walk eight city blocks in half an hour, or break into a run to catch a bus, and the like. I hate feeling constrained in shoes. In that regard, the ones I have are not it either. "It" starts at $300, so, my shoes should last until I feel like paying that much. :D

    I can admit I like them all the same. The strappy ones are good for hot weather; your feet don't get sweaty. I'm still stretching out the pump toeboxes, off and on, when I have nothing better to do.

  • Jewelry. I've made some good earrings lately. I keep hoping to take pictures, but jewelry is one of the hardest things to photograph. You'd need a small area reserved just for taking pictures of it, or a whole lotta time.

    I can describe them, but, eh. One is three lengths of oxidized textured silver chain, with the shortest length on the outside and the longest on the inside. I hung three colors of tourmaline faceted "hearts" (the "pear" is the flat teardrop shape, while the "heart" is the fat bottomed flat teardrop)--deep pink, green, and lavender, one at the end of each chain.

    The next was my first attempt at a theme: a simulation of falling rain. So I used lengths of silver flat cable chain (the flat surfaces catch the light when they move), small green amethyst faceted pears, and small aquamarine faceted drops. (It's funny, you always think to buy the bigger stones, but earrings often require small ones).

    The third pair I finished today. Were they a pain to make! I'm already planning to solder soon...I've heard you can buy a soldering iron at the dollar shop; the real cost is the solder and flux, both of which I now own.

    These are hammered golden hoops, and I wanted to hang a bar across the center. Hanging the bar is relatively easy, but without soldering, you have to devise a means of keeping the bar stable. Squashing or hammering the bar on the hoop doesn't do it.

    I came up with two ideas. One is to use a crimp bead--a tiny round seamless metal bead--you thread two beads on the hoop when you're making it. You use crimping pliers (as they sound, special pliers to neatly press and fold the crimps) to crimp a bead under each end of your horizontal bar. I've done this with crimp tubes because I had no crimp beads on hand, and it works well, but the crimp beads would look nicer than the tubes.

    The other involves wrapping fine-gauge wire on the sides of the hoops above either end of the horizontal bar. The idea is to block either end of the bar from moving up the side of the hoop. This also works, and the fineness of the wire makes it unobtrusive. on each horizontal bar, I have a metal fringe, made of pieces of make a loop on one end of each piece of wire, hammer out the other end flat, then file the edges of the hammered end to make them smooth and rounded.

    I'm trying out some wire-intensive ideas, because I'm thinking of getting karat gold wire. You have to be sure of your design because you can't make mistakes with the spendy stuff. Not sure if this design is "karat-worthy" yet. It's nice...the swinging golden fringe sparkles like fanciful sun rays. But the construction turned out to be more involved than I'd thought. I like the fringe and hoop; perhaps I could come up with a simpler version, or even just start out with a plain heavy hammered hoop.

  • Reading. Technical manuals, such as "Lasso for Dummies" (just kidding, I think the only book written on Lasso is the manual the Lasso people publish). Lasso is a scripting language. I don't think I'll ever read anything but technical manuals until Dain publishes her book, then I'll be happy to read that. I haven't heard of anything tempting to read lately, at any rate.

Have a good one!

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June 22, 2008 8:38 PM, Blogger Dain said...

That's sweet. I haven't really started work on it yet, though. Shhhh. The blogging gets in the way, so I guess I'll just have to stop once we do CoC.

That video's pretty awesome. Iran seems sad, though.

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Beauty Notes: Mists & Hydrosols - Part I
Posted by Joy Rothke, Wednesday, June 18, 2008 11:56 PM (Eastern)

My favorite skin treatments are mists and hydrosols, and I use them year round. During the hot days of summer, they're essential. From the simple DIY versions I sometimes cook up to the sublime versions offered by green/organic skincare mavens, misting your face with a cooling stream of herbal goodness can make the hottest afternoon bearable. I like to store some of mine in the fridge, and spritz myself when I come in from walking the dog or an errand.

Daybreak Lavender Farm Only Rose Petal Toner

Jody Byrne and her husband operate Daybreak Lavender Farm in Streetsboro, Ohio. Self-described "old hippies," everything they make is fresh and hand-crafted. The Only Rose Petal Toner ($22.95, 6 oz.) is a simple and refreshing mix of white willow (witch hazel distillate), rose floral water, rose hydrosol and rose petal tea. It's also used in some of Daybreak's skin care regimens (I'm on one and will be reviewing it soon) and works well as a stand-alone product.

Healing Anthropology Rejuvenating Face & Body Mist

If you're traveling this summer, include this in your purse or daypack. The Face & Body Mist ($30.00, 2 oz.) is a blend of essential oils and aloe that are particularly soothing to sun-exposed skin. This would be an excellent product to use during airplane flights. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, HA is an woman-owned company, and all its products are 100% natural.

Owner Sabrina Posillico has pledged 15% of company proceeds in June to Gabriel's Angels, an Arizona non-profit that provides pet therapy to abused and at-risk children. So order this month and combine skincare and good deeds.

Garden Of Eve Clearly Lovely Toner

I like to introduce LP readers to the many small, artisan skincare lines. Garden of Eve is a small company in Afton, Virginia, operated by an herbalist named Eve, who creates products made with aromatic essential oils and no troublesome ingredients like parabens or synthetic dyes.

Her Clearly Lovely Toner ($39.00, 2 oz.) is designed for combination, acenic or rosacea-prone skin, and is made of organic and wild-crafted hydrosols, including Lavender, Rose Geranium, Rose and Roman Chamomile. Eve creates toners for other skin types, as well as providing a custom-blending service for clients.

Manor Hall Lavender & Chamomile Facial Toner

Susan Mann's Manor Hall Soap Company in Springfield, Mass., makes wonderful olive oil-based soaps. I've been a fan for a while. After trying her Lavender & Chamomile Facial Toner ($7.85, 2 oz.), I also love her skincare products. All Manor Hall products are natural and vegetarian, and made with natural colors and botanical essences. They're also very affordable, so you can use this alcohol-free toner with impunity all summer.

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Beauty Notes: Lip Rejuvenation?
Posted by Joy Rothke, Tuesday, June 17, 2008 3:04 PM (Eastern)

Several months ago, I began following an extensive (81 pages and still going) thread on the EDS (Essential Day Spa) forum about a product named Lips2Kiss that "rejuvenates" your lips. I've always been satisfied with my lips, though I admit to a serious lip balm habit. I've always had very dry lips, no matter the season.

is a line operated by a woman in Orem, Utah named Kandis, and her products were getting some serious raves on EDS--and they're not an easy group to impress.

According to Kandis, the aging process of one's lips can be interrupted by using her regimen. It's neither simple nor cheap, and requires a significant investment of time and the exclusive use of her products. Could I give up my beloved balms and pencils and enormous collection of (pretty much the same nude shade) lipsticks and glosses?

Of course, I was skeptical, but the reviews and results photos on EDS and Kandis' site showed some dramatic improvements.

I decided to give it a try, and Kandis set me up with some products about five weeks ago. The core of her regimen is four-part Spa LipCare System, ($79) consisting of an exfoliating creme, a lip creme, a lip hydrator and a lip glaze. (It sounds a bit complicated but you can get with the system pretty quickly.)

You send a closeup of your lips to Kandis, and she recommends a regimen. Since I have dry lips, I exfoliate once weekly. For the first couple of weeks, you're supposed to use the other three products all day long--optimally re-applying every half hour or so. Additionally, you're supposed to heat your lips lips with a blow dryer every morning and evening for 90 seconds. According to Kandis, this aids in the absorption of the products. Though I've been a very compliant lip rejuvenator, I must admit that I sometimes skip the heat portion of my program. Sometimes it's just too hot to do it, and I've also found that it can exacerbate my rosacea.

Some people experience severe peeling of the lips, but mine has been light. I also haven't had too many problems remembering to apply my products all day, every day--but as a lip balm addict, I'm used to that. The products are unscented and very soothing, so I like using them.

From my own experience, and what I've read on EDS, the women using these products are interested in returning their lips to a natural, healthy state. I have no interest in having huge trout lips or the fakey Lisa Rinna/Juverderm/Restylane horrors. I'll be happy if my lips look and feel moist and healthy. (If the marionette lines above my lips are reduced, that'll be nice as well.)

After a few weeks, depending on one's progress, users can advance to Time2Heal, a three-in-one product that applies like lip gloss, as well as a colored glaze. You still do the three-part system with heat every AM and PM. For most users, full rejuvenation is a process that takes three to six months. Kandis' philosophy is similar to the Dr Hauschka, in that overuse of chemical and artificial products ruins the ability of your skin and lips to self-regulate. In other words, once you get on the chapstick train, ain't no getting off.

Has it worked for me? I think so. My lips are fuller and smoother, and the color is better. I think the upper line is more defined and some of the small lines above my upper lip are reduced. My before (top) and after (bottom) photos show my progress after 30 days. (I took both pictures and they haven't been Photoshopped in any way.) I'm going to keep rejuvenating.

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June 17, 2008 4:36 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Wow, that's really intense. You find some cool stuff! Are those your lips? Looks like it actually does something...

June 17, 2008 4:47 PM, Blogger Joy Rothke said...

They are my own lips, without any product.

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Beauty Notes: I Like This
Posted by Joy Rothke, Sunday, June 15, 2008 2:49 PM (Eastern)

The UPS, FedEx, DHL and USPS couriers are frequent visitors to my door, and I'm always happy to see them. My name is Joy and I love getting mail.

I receive all manner of items every week. Some are great; others abject failures. I've decided to post weekly about items that I especially like and would recommend to my friends.

Nectar Essences

San Franciscan Jenny Pao has come up with an ingenious new way to use flower essences. I've been using them for years, but always in the traditional drops under the tongue or diluted in a glass of water. Jenny's developed a collection of organic essences that users mist into the air, then breathe in deeply.

Do they work? I've been having some problems sleeping, so I tried her Sleep Aromatic Spray ($28, 1.69 oz.) It worked, and I slept through the night for the first time in weeks. It includes organic lavender, neroli and sweet jasmine, and is appropriate for use in children ages 3 and up, as well as adults.

The collection also includes the self-explanatory Awake and Destress. I plan to test those soon.

Terra Cotta Pendants

I'm sniffing my new terra cotta pendant as I type this. The Gosselin family in New Brunswick, Canada came up with a new way to take your aromatherapy with you. They sell 54 round, oval and rectangular pendants with a wide variety of designs, including totem animals, religious symbols, runic characters, leaves, flowers and Zodiac (CDN $10-$14).

The smooth, kiln-fired pendants hang from an adjustable waxed cotton cord. To make it a traveling aromatherapy diffuser you can wear, place one drop of your favorite essential oil on the pendant and let it absorb. That takes an hour or two, and the subtle scent lasts for a couple of days. Once it dissipates, you can add more of the same essential oil or another type.

In addition to wearing these around your neck, you can hang them in a workplace, in a car, in a window, etc. It will make your environment a calmer and more fragrant place. Also, if you're looking for a unique and affordable gift, I recommend these.

Pencil Me in Cosmetics Eyeliner Pencil

I never mastered liquid liner, but I'm pretty good with an eyeliner pencil, and use one almost every day of the week. Though there are hundreds on the market, finding a good one can be a challenge. They're either too soft or too hard, too smudgy or hard to blend, insufficiently pigmented, too expensive. A number of the high-end lines have animal testing policies I don't support, so they're out.

I read about Pencil Me In in a salon industry publication, and contacted Linda Eisner, the Long Island-based developer, and she sent me a couple of pencils to try. That was in May, and I've been using them about 90% of the time. Sure they're made of natural ingredients, include anti-oxidants and each cap comes with its own sharpener. There are also dozens of colors, categorized by skin tone, warm and cool tones, glitter, metallic, etc. That's good, but as someone who sticks to black, brown or grey eyeliner most of the time, what I like is how easy these are to apply and how long they last. I can apply them in a few seconds, and the color last all day. And at a very reasonable $6.95, you can take experiment with a variety of looks. I also like that each pencil's barrel is painted the same shade as the core, making it easy to find the right color in the bottom of a messy makeup bag.

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June 15, 2008 11:23 PM, Blogger Dain said...

Those Terra Cotta pendants are a good idea--I wonder if they can be used with perfume? It'd be one way to make them last. Usually, there's lots of things that smell good, but few that last.

June 16, 2008 1:12 PM, Blogger Joy Rothke said...

I don't see why not. I'll do a test.

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Beauty Notes: Auric Blends
Posted by Joy Rothke, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:09 AM (Eastern)

I was reading a thread on Basenotes earlier today on "what I've learned." There were lots of diverse answers, and it got me thinking about what I've learned about fragrances in the last few years. A number of things, but the most important is that expensive doesn't equal good, nor does good have to be expensive. I mean, I already knew this about a lot of things, but I guess I still thought that inexpensive perfumes were, and couldn't be very good.

Auric Blends disabused me of that idea. I first encountered the brand at Longs Drugs and Whole Foods, and bought two of their perfume oils--Jasmine and Black Coconut--for the princely sum of $5.95. (They're usually $7, but Longs was having a sale.) I've worn both of them a lot (sometimes layering) and have got more compliments on these scents than other fragrances ten or twenty times the cost. The Auric oils are deep and very long-lasting on my skin, and if you want to reapply, the 1/3 oz. roller ball bottles are small enough to carry in the smallest purse.

If you're a musk lover, Auric has a number of musk fragrances, and you can't go wrong with their best seller, Egyptian Goddess, a soft floral/powder musk, and a bit of a cult favorite.

They've been making these perfume oils since 1993, headquartered in the tiny Northern California town of Grafton, near Bodega Bay. The oil list is now up to 30 scents, and earlier this year, Auric released a new, four fragrance line called Auric Blends Naturals ($16.95).

The new line is made of one hundred percent natural and essential oils, in a jojoba and Vitamin E oil base. I've sampled all four in the past month. My definite favorite was Tara, with top notes of my favorite rose and jasmine. It's a soft and fruity floral, with a base note of sandalwood that lingers.

All four Auric Naturals have an "inspiration" and a region they're linked to. Tara is the female embodiment of the Buddha, introduced in 7th century Tibet. I'm not a huge fan of spicy scents, but sometimes I'm in the mood for Pele, inspired by the Polynesian goddess of fire. It's got a strong opening cinnamon note, and the drydown on me was patchouli--a note I used to avoid (bad 60s experiences) but I'm learning to love.

Layla, with jasmine, orange flower and Bulgarian rose notes, is a rich and romantic scent. This is a scent for cool evenings, and is inspired by the 12th century Persian love story of Layla and Majnun.

Despite its name, Siren is a fresh and herby fragrance, and good choice for steamy summer days, with notes of lemongrass, sage and thyme.

Samples of all Auric Blends scents are available at their web site.

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The Weekend Blogger: A bit of randomness
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Sunday, June 08, 2008 11:55 PM (Eastern)

Sitting here in my newly Foot Petal'd shoes--the model at the bottom:


I ended up using both the Heavenly Heelz and Haute Heelz for this pair (the other two didn't need 'Petaling nearly as much). I'm glad I didn't stick the Haute Heelz, because for one shoe (apparently my feet aren't exactly the same), the Heavenly Heelz wouldn't have done it. The Haute Heel lifts your heel up a bit, which is good when you have a rubbing-at-back-of-heel thing...but I pushed the Haute Heel back more in this shoe, so it not only lifts slightly, but also covers the entire back-of-heel area (I jacked the Haute Heel up right under the Heavenly Heel).

I'm saving the Tip Toes...I could cut them up and use them for the other shoes--there's a slight heel issue with those...but the issue is not bandaid-worthy, so I have it in mind to try higher heels later on, and use the Tip Toes then.

Got to make some earrings and a pendant. The pendant is a carved lotus in a light green, slightly yellow stone (I don't remember now if it's prehnite or "green gold"). I made a bail for it on the jump-ring principle--jump rings use tension to work--my next phase will definitely involve soldering.

The earrings...I had the notion of making earrings to look like falling rain. So these use lengths of silver chain, watery green amethyst briolettes, and small faceted aquamarine drops.

Otherwise...mmm...I added another snap to my dress that had shrunk in the wash. The idea was to have at least two snaps placed horizontally, so the inner snap could take most of the stress, while the outer one functioned to cover the inner one. Still it's not a perfect solution, you're still working on an area where there isn't enough fabric (there isn't much extra in the side seams either, so that's out). Eventually it occurred to me to find the most minimizing bra in the closet and go with that. It looks to work, i.e., having a minimizing bra on hand isn't a bad idea.

I'll try to take photos of some of these things later on (I haven't photographed any of my newer jewelry).

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Beauty Notes: Pressed Mineral Makeup
Posted by Joy Rothke, 1:46 PM (Eastern)

I got on the mineral makeup train a long time ago, and have no intention of ever getting off. Most of the time, I can deal with the shortcomings of MMU (Mineral Makeup), primarily application time and potential messiness. Sometimes, I wish I could simply pull out a single compact, brush on my foundation and go. Apparently I'm not the only one thinking this way, since MMU companies big and small are releasing pressed mineral compacts. With hot weather here and a more outdoor lifestyle, pressed is a good bet for summer.

I've been testing three brands--two big-name, high-end MMUs; the third a newcomer to the MMU market. All came with sponge applicators, but I used a dense kabuki brush. In my experience, that's the best way to apply MMU.

Cosminology is a dermatologist-developed brand out of Washington, D.C. Dima Ali, MD developed a mineral makeup and skincare line to deal with her own sensitive skin issues, including adult acne and hyperpigmentation. Her "Minicles" foundation makeup (minerals + miracles) line comes in six shades. You Rock My Cosmos Mineral Complexion Compact ($38). comes in a hefty 11g, round mirrored compact with black slipcase, along with a thin (and virtually useless) sponge applicator. Active Ingredients: Micronized Titanium Oxide, Micronized Zinc Oxide. Ingredients: Kaolin, Magnesium Carbonate, Zinc Stearate, Jojoba Esters, Palm Oil Esters, and Tocopherol (Vitamin E). May contain: Mica, Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, Chromium Oxides. UV protection is claimed, but no SPF is given.

The kabuki brush that came with my compact was scratchy and worthless; I applied "AstroDana" with my own soft, synthetic kabuki. Application is essentially the same "swirl/tap/buff" technique I use with loose minerals. Tapping is especially important, since drawing the brush across the compact--even with a light hand--will pick up too much product. It goes on smoothly, but here's the failing with all pressed MMU: it's very difficult to get anything but light coverage, even with multiple applications. If you've got a lot to cover up and camouflage, that's easier to achieve with loose minerals.

Another shortcoming of pressed minerals is the inability to mix colors. With three to five loose minerals, one can mix an virtually endless array of shades to fit the seasons and one's skin condition. With pressed minerals, you've only one, and it can get pricey to invest in multiple compacts.

Jane Iredale is one of the pioneers in mineral makeup, and its pricey and elegant formulations are considered the gold standard by many. Her PurePressed Base ($48) has an SPF of 18 or 20. (The compact says 20; the box 18.) Active Ingredients: Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide. Other Ingredients: Mica, Boron Nitride, Dimethicone, Hydrated Silica, Stearic Acid, Plankton Extract, Algae Extract, Pine Bark Extract, Pomegranate Extract. May contain: Iron Oxides, Ultramarines, Carmine.

The round, mirrored matte gold Iredale compact in a black slipcase is 9.9 g, and includes another useless foam sponge. The inclusion of Dimethicone may be problematic for some users, but it does result in a very smooth application. Again, stick to loose minerals if you're seeking heavy coverage, but for a light "brush-and-go" day, this is an excellent choice. It also comes in a very wide range of shades, and Iredale promotes this product as "concealer, foundation, powder and sunscreen all in one." That's true, but equally true for just about all pressed and loose MMUs.

Youngblood Pressed Mineral Foundation ($41), comes in eight shades, includes Rice Powder (a plus) but also methyl- and propyl- parabens (a big minus for many health-conscious consumers who try to avoid this preservative in their cosmetics and skincare.)

The company was founded by Pauline Youngblood Soli, a medical aesthetician, back in 1996. Her years of cystic acne, combined with her experience treating patients with rosacea, acne and the side-effects of laser treatments, led her to develop a gentle makeup suitable for people with all types of skin, and which would allow skin to heal and "breathe."

The 8g black compact comes with a better quality cosmetic sponge that suitable for touch-ups. For application, I still recommend a kabuki. If you're checking ingredients, Youngblood can be a bit tricky. The list on the compact, its box and the Youngblood web site vary. The site says it may contain Bismuth Oxychloride; the compact says it does; the box doesn't mention it. If you're a person who reacts to Bismuth, as many do, be sure to do a patch test. (Bismuth, a filler, can cause itching, redness and skin sensitivity in some consumers.) Ingredients (per compact): Mica, Zinc Stearate, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Bismuth Oxychloride, Silica, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Water, Methylparaben, Propylparaben. May Contain: Titanium Dioxide Iron Oxide , Carmine.

I don't have sensitive skin and have used products with Bismuth Oxychloride for years. Bare Escentuals, the market leader in MMU, includes it in almost all if their foundations, blushes and shadows. It can give a shine to the complexion that many user dislike, but I didn't find this to be the case with Youngblood. Using a kabuki, I got a light, smooth and matte finish.

For travel or touchups or minimal coverage in hot weather, pressed minerals are quick and easy. I got the heaviest coverage from Cosminology and the lightest from Jane Iredale, with Youngblood somewhere in the middle.

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June 8, 2008 6:41 PM, Blogger Dain said...

If you apply a layer, mist your face, and apply a second layer, you could probably build up more coverage.

June 9, 2008 12:13 PM, Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

You're amazingly thorough in your laying forth the minerals. So thanks!

I am a beginner in this field, but have found out Bismuth Oxychloride makes me itch like mad.
I like the very subtle coverage of minerals, though, very much.

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The Weekend Blogger: Foot Petals preliminary review
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Saturday, June 07, 2008 1:54 AM (Eastern)

My Foot Petals arrived in the mail today. It's best to buy them from the Foot Petals site itself since there are several coupons about (coughretailmenot.comcough). I didn't have time to truly trick out my hurtin' pumps, but I did attach the Heavenly Heelz, and started to play with the Haute Heelz and Tip Toez, erm, Toes (all in Buttercup, as I'm wary of the 'Petals potentially discoloring my stockings).

So far: the Heavenly Heelz have no doubt already paid for themselves. Mind you, these were pumps from hell when I first wore them. I have to walk two city blocks in the morning, the same at the end of my shift; and, in these shoes, this brief walk totaled my heels. Once the Heavenly Heelz were in was like a different pair of shoes.

I'd bought the Haute Heelz on the idea I could cut them up and 'Petal some other shoes, but I tried them out as the bottom-of-heel pads they are, without sticking them...these feel really good. I mean they're only these thin pads, but somehow they genuinely cushion.

Still toying with the Tip Toes. These were the least dramatic of the three for me, because I've had more heel than ball-of-foot issues. The Tip Toes seem a bit trickier to position; with the two Heelz, there's only one way to put them in. I'd advise trying them without sticking for a while to see what works.

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June 7, 2008 3:12 AM, Blogger Dain said...

They sound good. I could use something like that.

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Beauty Notes: Balm Hunt
Posted by Joy Rothke, Tuesday, June 03, 2008 7:05 PM (Eastern)

I'm a sucker for balms--always looking for something to deal with my chronically dry cuticles, or the scrapes and cuts and bug bites that seem to find me. I like to use organic/herbal and essential oil-based products, which means I use stuff you won't find in CVS or Target.

I bought my first Aroma Borealis Herb Shop balm when I spent a winter week in Whitehorse, Yukon. If I lived in Whitehorse, I'd be running up major bills in this sweet little shop run by herbalist/aromatherapist Bev Gray. They sell a variety of medicinal skin preparations, skincare, lotions, herbal teas and (some of the world's best) lip balm.

My favorite is the Green Aid Ointment (CAD$14.95 for a 60 ml tin), recommended to me by a longtime Yukoner as the best all-purpose skin fix-it she'd ever used. It's made of a variety of local herbs, including Yukon wild fireweed, organic goldenseal, echinacea, burdock root, calendula, chamomile and chickweed; lavender, tea tree, thyme and other essential oils; in a base of vitamin E, sunflower, olive, grapeseed and St. John's wort oils , shea butter and beeswax. The small tin is the perfect size to carry in your purse or pocket. If you're not lucky enough to find yourself in Whitehorse, you can order at Aroma Borealis' site.

Prairieland Herbs is a small woman-run family business in the central Iowa town of Woodward. Donna Julseth and Maggie Julseth Howe, mother and daughter, have been operating Prairieland for almost 10 years; I've been ordering from the ladies for the past couple of years. They grow all their herbs and flowers on their farm. I like many of their products, and a particularly good one for this time of year is their Healing Wand. The all-purpose salve relieves all sorts of scrapes and rashes, and works especially well on mild sunburns. It comes in .15 oz (lip balm size, $2.50) and .5 oz. ($7.00).

The wand is made of St. John's Wort, calendula, lavender and tea tree oils in a base of olive and vitamin E oil and local beeswax. According to Maggie, it works on dogs as well.

If you're planning to do any active outings this summer, I recommend investing in a bottle of Dremu Extra Strength Pain Relief. It's part of the product line of Dremu, an emu oil-based line that's received a ton a attention from magazines (as well as an Oprah imprimatur) for their anti-aging skincare. I have a couple of those products that I'll be reviewing in the future. Dremu also sent me a bottle of their Extra Strength Pain Instant Reliever ($38 for 4 fl. oz).

It's a lot pricier than Aspercreme or Ben-Gay. Is it worth it? It's received endorsements from the AARP of Florida and Arthritis Update magazine, among others. It's a simple and elegant formulation with one active ingredient--0.03% Capsicum--in a base of 40% triple refined emu oil, sweet almond oil, arnica, methyl salicylate, menthol and camphor, eucalyptus, rosemary, clove and lavender oils. It has a mild, mostly menthol-y scents, and the light emu oil absorbs quickly when massaged into joints. I tried it on my aching lower back and it did relieve the ache, if not instantly, within five to eight minutes.

I'm surprised but Egyptian Magic ("The Ancient Kamitians' Secret, Magical Skin Cream") actually works! I've seen this stuff in Whole Foods and read about it in innumerable sites and women's magazines. Apparently Madonna won't leave home without it, but I was still unwilling to spend $34 for product made of prosaic ingredients like olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, royal jelly and propolis extract.

And there's the whole story of how the CEO of Egyptian Magic, who calls himself Lord-Pharaoh ImHotep-AmonRa, discovered this ancient formula (etc., etc.) According to Egyptian Magic and its fans, you can use this product for everything from diaper rash to third-degree burns. It's a moisturizer, hair balm, lip gloss, personal lubricant, eczema and psoriasis treatment, lip balm for both humans and animals. Kind of a Middle Eastern Dr. Bronner's.

I've been testing Egyptian Magic for the past week and I am hooked. It healed a scrape on my upper lip in 36 hours; controlled the "frizzies"; helped reduce a small pimple in a matter of hours. I've used it as and cream and cuticle treatment, and on my heels. Egyptian Magic kept delivering. My jar is still about 99% full, so I expect this jar to last a long, long time.

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June 4, 2008 3:40 PM, Blogger Reese said...

Next time you are at Kiehl's try some of their new Superbly Restorative Argan Skin Salve; I just got some this week and it is wonderful. Great on cuticles, feet, shins, knees, elbows and hair. A new holy grail product for me.

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The Weekend Blogger: Back to work
Posted by Colleen Shirazi, Monday, June 02, 2008 2:04 AM (Eastern)

I fixed the dress which had shrunk enough to gap at the bust; the hook and eye didn't work (impossible to place horizontally without showing, didn't bother trying it vertically). What's better, are snaps. I got some beautiful snaps at Michaels...and nearly got sucked into the "wallet's black hole" of their beading section. Not top drawer beads, but many and varied; almost bought a strand of amazonite (an inexpensive light blue-green Chinese stone residing on my beading wish list). But impulsive bead-buying usually doesn't work nearly as well as planned; you can buy much better amazonite at bead shows, so I passed.

And they had things like German scissors which screamed "Buy me!" I have a pair of German haircutting shears I bought while still in Virginia, in the early 80's, that remained haircutting-sharp for at least twenty years. German scissor-buying impulse purchases can be better than planned ones, but I didn't really need scissors, so...

I can't make much in the way of jewelry until my room gets cleaned out (it's currently functioning as a sort of storage). So I took some tools out, and some stones and wire. Made a couple of bails for two pendants my grandmother had given me. One was Mexican sterling silver and turquoise. When I was a kid, this type of jewelry--sterling silver with a few stones such as the turquoise, coral, or abalone, was always made in Mexico. The other pendant frankly looks like fake turquoise to me, and indeed fake turquoise was pretty common before, but the design is nice.

Also starting fiddling around with earrings--oxidized chain with tourmalines. At first I went for the prosaic combo of blue sapphires and green tourmalines, but it occurred to me...color, is expensive.

By this I don't mean literally; it's not that certain colors cost more to produce. But they can cost more to sell. I was thinking of Dain's American Apparel shirt comment, about the wide range of colors for basic tee shirts, and contrasting with, say, Target's Mossimo shirts. The latter have good quality, but the color choice is so bad. The last time I bought Mossimo tee shirts, I didn't like any of the colors and ended up with white, black, and brown tee shirts.

But Target had probably picked colors that were so generic, they could sell them all, and not have to produce new colors next year (why bother, when this year's hues were so forgettable?). It does make sense in a mass-marketing way.

So...I thought, let's do something different. Let's not do the Mossimo thing, let's be more American Apparel. I ended up with some pink tourmalines...not the hot pink you usually see, but more of a pink with a little orange...and blue-green tourmalines. Not colors I'd normally pair, but somehow they look good together.


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