Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Beauty Buzz Word: Hypoallergenic

Hypoallergenic is a word that's been floating around the beauty scene for decades; it's meant to impart a feeling of confidence to the consumer. The word origin, from the Greek hypo- meaning "under" or "below normal" and allergenic meaning "having the effect of an allergen" would imply that something that is hypoallergenic is less likely to produce an allergic reaction. The problem is, hypoallergenic is actually just a marketing term.

There is no regulation, FDA or otherwise, on what makes a specific product "hypoallergenic." Basically, any company can claim any product with any combination of ingredients is hypoallergenic. In short, the use of the word means nothing. The only true way to know if a product is likely to produce an allergic reaction is to know what the formula's ingredients are, and whether you're allergic to something in it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Ask OutInAPout:
Why Do Some Shades of Lipstick Make My Lips Look Small?

So being the Twitter addict that I am (oh, you're not following me?) I finally caved and started up a Formspring account, really just so that I could ask others questions & let them know it was me, but whatever...For those of you that aren't familiar, is a website where you go to ask people questions. Really, that's it. You can do it anonymously, or you can create an account like I did, so that people know who's asking what.

This new format has prompted me to do something I've been meaning to do for quite a while; an "Ask OutInAPout" feature. I'm usually the go-to person in my social circle when it comes to anything beauty related, so it's not uncommon for me to get random calls or texts from friends, acquaintances, family members, etc...asking me my opinion on something. Sometimes it warrants an in-depth post, and I love drawing inspiration from these experiences. Often though, the answer is just a quick tip or blurb, not enough to do a full blown essay on, but still interesting nonetheless. The "Ask OutInAPout" feature will cover a range of topics, with not much holding them together as a series other than the fact that someone thought me enough of an authority to ask.

I should also caution, if you choose to visit me on Formspring, not all questions are beauty related, and some have already gotten quite personal. I am an honest person, and wouldn't have opened up myself to such a forum if I'd not intended to answer openly. Thus, if you're likely to be offended, skip Formspring and instead, click here to ask your question. it too late to say "without any further ado"...

Today's Question:
Why do some lipsticks that are not very dark make lips seem smaller?

My Answer:
Typically, dark lipsticks make lips look smaller, while lighter ones make them look larger. This is because dark colors absorb more light, while light shades reflect it, which highlights and makes the lip appear larger. Light reflection can also be effected by things like the finish of the lipstick. Since matte shades don't reflect light, even medium tones mattes may make lips look smaller. If there's a particular shade you love, try it with a dab of clear gloss placed in the center of the top and bottom lip & see if that helps!

There it is. Please feel free to ask away. Of course, I can't promise every question will make the blog (I'm going to try to stick to questions that I feel a lot of readers may have) but I will do my best to answer your question regardless, if not on the site, then via email. Talk soon!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Product Review:
Lush Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask

My skin has been a disaster lately. At turns raw, red, broken out, flaky; you name it, I've had it all. The reason is not completely a mystery to me; my skin has always had a tendency to freak out whenever I change my routine, and as a beauty blogger the frequency of change is high, since I'm constantly testing new products. Like the addict I am, rather than settle down into product monogamy, I instead decided to search out a wonder product to soothe my skin back into submission.

I'd been curious about Lush forever, so when I found out there was a Lush outpost at my local Macy's store, I beelined right for it. First trip in I was way to overwhelmed to buy anything- all the pretty colors, shapes and scents, all set out market-style, in bins & on tables- with no packaging between me and them. It was all or nothing, and I knew "all" wasn't an option, so I grabbed one of their handy newsprint catalogs and left. (I did net a couple nice freebies, a perk I've been treated to regularly at Lush.) After pouring over the catalog with a pen in hand, checking all of the goodies I had to try, I decided that Lush's Catastrophe Cosmetic Fresh Face Mask was just what my cranky skin needed.

Lush Fresh Face Masks are an entirely different concept in prestige masks. As the name would imply, they're made fresh from natural ingredients, and come in a variety of recipes for different skin conditions. Since the main ingredients in the masks are perishable (and in many cases, edible) in-store they're kept in a mini-fridge, and every little black jar has an expiration date on it (though I'll admit to having used my masks past the marked date.) At home, they're meant to be kept chilled to keep the ingredients viable, though the cold pulls double duty since it soothes and helps to de-puff the skin as well.

Catastrophe Cosmetic was my first choice after reading the description "when disaster looms, Catastrophe Cosmetic calms and cleanses the skin". Sounded perfect to me, and looking at it's formulation, which includes a hefty dose of blueberries (which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties) I figured, what did I have to lose? When I opened my jar, I found a sweet-tart, grayish blue paste, with visible chunks of blueberry skin mixed in. I'm guessing my mask may have already been several days old when I took it home, because by all accounts the mask was supposed to be a pale shade of blue-purple, but I was still within the expiration date stickered onto to back, so I knew I was good to go.

The mask applied like a typical old-school mask; it was a thick paste that, aside from the nice chill from the fridge and the errant chunks of fruit, didn't feel much different than any other mask I'd used. The scent of the mask is quite strong, and fortunately I loved it. It smells quite like a pack of Smarties; powdery blueberry with a tinge of lemon. It reminded me a bit of the old Bath and Body Works scent, Sun Ripened Raspberry, but whereas Bath & Body's scent always gave me a headache instantly, I could have inhaled this all day long. (Which is good, because I noticed the scent lingered on the hand towel I used to dry off after I rinsed the mask off!)

As I applied the mask, I did have some stinging in the chapped areas around my nose, but it was nothing unbearable, so I kept the mask on for the prescribed 10 minutes. The mask does dry down completely, but somehow still feels cool in some areas. After rinsing, the skin on my face was soft and it felt as if the mask had actually left a bit of moisture behind, but not in a greasy, filmy or waxy way. This effect is short lived, however, I found my skin as tight as usual after allowing it to dry for a few minutes, though my skin still retained it's softness.

At this point I continued, unawares, with the rest of my night-time beauty routine, which includes Mario Badescu's Glycolic Acid Toner. Thinking nothing of it, I swipe it over my skin, and instantly feel as if I'm on fire. The burn continues as I put my moisturizer on, and continues as I get into I read my book...after an hour, still burning. This is not normal. Now, any sane person would have run to the sink and immediately washed their face, but I, in the interest of science, decided to keep it on to see how long the burn would persist. I should note, I would not recommend this method to you, dear reader, but after I checked my face for signs of hives or redness (of which there were none) I decided to suck it up. After an hour and a half, the burn began to cool and my skin once again felt normal. While I was burning, I decided to do a little research, to find out: why the crazy chemical reaction?

Turns out, the top two ingredients in Catastrophe Cosmetic, Calamine Powder and Talc, are astringents and oil-absorbers. Which is not inherently bad, but on my already overly dry, irritated skin, they stripped too much my skin's precious natural oils. Oddly, while I was researching, I discovered that the FDA doesn't even allow calamine to be listed as an active ingredient as it once was. Calamine, in fact, is classified as a "counter-irritant", which means that (follow me here) it actually induces local (or surface) inflammation for the purpose of relieving deeper inflammation. So what, exactly happens if there is no "deeper" inflammation? My guess? Burn. Having said that, the mask didn't burn all by itself- it wasn't until I introduced glycolic acid to the party that things went south. In subsequent uses of the mask, I simply didn't tone afterwards, and never had the issue again.

So what did I think overall? The mask was a great sensory experience, the chill was soothing, and I absolutely loved the smell. I did feel like I noticed a short-lived reduction in the redness that my face can sometimes have, but I can't testify to any long term benefits. I should point out that according to Lush's Australian website, (for some reason the US and UK sites don't have the fresh products on them) Catastrophe Cosmetic is specifically described as a preventative treatment, and perhaps it performs better as such.

I'd give this product a 5 out of 10.

-smells great
-has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients
-calamine and talc help to absorb excess oil (that is, if you have excess...)
-chilled mask helps to soothe and reduce puffiness
-seemed to provide temporary reduction in redness- I'd suggest using this right before going out, if this is your desired effect.
-nicely priced for a prestige skin care product. I paid $5.95 for a 2.1oz jar of the mask, which was enough for about 6 applications.

-Calamine and Talc may strip dry skin, causing further irritation (and burning!)
-redness reduction is short lived. I used this mask at night and it did seem to reduce redness, however, the redness would return by morning.
-I couldn't use all of the product before the product's expiration date. (Personally, I was able to continue using it well after the expiration date with no problem, but this may not be the case with everybody. In addition to risk of potential irritation, the effectiveness of the ingredients probably decreases as they age.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

This Week's Sales:
Eve Pearl, Lipstick Queen, Caudalie and, of course, more...

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend and, if you celebrated it, a very lovely Valentine's Day. This week brings plenty of sales, including a few exciting ones that I have never seen on the sale circuit. If all goes well, this could be an expensive week here in the OutInAPout household!

We start over at Ideeli this Monday, February 15th with Pop Beauty. Oh, and though as a rule I keep these posts strictly about beauty, I just have to mention that on Tuesday, the folks at Ideeli will be featuring Betsey Johnson handbags and small leather goods. Just saying.

Also Monday, HauteLook presents SK1N Probiotic Systems (it's skincare, not yogurt, in case you were confused) followed by Laura Mercier on Tuesday, Pharmagel on Thursday, February 18th.
and Global Goddess on Friday.

Editor's Closet has one of this week's biggest attractions on Tuesday when they present Eve Pearl. I've not yet tried anything from the Emmy award winning artist's line, but have heard tons of praise about her foundations and signature salmon under eye concealer. The site ends the week with Lotus Pure Organics on Friday, February 19th. If you're not a member of Editor's Closet yet, click here for a personal invite.

Over at Rue La La, Dr. Michelle Copeland Skin Care debuts this Wednesday, with Smashbox on Friday. Also on Wednesday, RowNine pulls together a post Valentine's Day Women's Fragrance Boutique (just in case he didn't get all of those carefully plotted hints!) The graphic on the site shows a beautiful bottle of one of my all time favorites, my signature scent, Lolita Lempicka. I'm crossing my fingers that they'll actually have it, but even so, you can't get it, cause it's mine! Don't worry, I'm sure they'll have some other goodies for you!

Gilt Groupe plays a light game this week, but where they lack in quantity, they make up in quality by featuring 2 great lines seldom seen in the sale universe. Wednesday showcases Lipstick Queen, and Go Smile, then Thursday's sale features Paris skincare powerhouse Caudalie.

So, there you have it. Anyone have any musts or lusts for this week?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quick Tip: Hair Conditioning-
How to Have a Deeper Experience!

Shower caps do more than keep water out- they can help keep moisture in! To get more bang out of your daily conditioning routine, wash your hair early on in your shower. Slather your hair with your favorite conditioner. Remember, your roots don't need a lot of conditioning, so I just do the the part that would hang down in a ponytail. Pile up your hair (sometimes I gently twist it into a bun & secure it with an elastic) and slap on a shower cap. The cap will keep the conditioner on your head as you go about the rest of your shower routine, and the heat from the shower will help to open your hair's cuticle so that the conditioner can penetrate better.

You can go cheap, with plain disposable processing caps (30 for $3.50) or you can search out a more attractive (not to mention eco-friendly) option. I found some super cute ones from Retro Revival, and at one point, Benefit was even making one in their Bathina line, so I know they exist. Either way, your hair will thank you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Drugstore Dupe:
Estée Lauder Perfectionist [CP+]
Wrinkle Lifting Serum Vs.
Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

Everyone likes a deal, though many of us hesitate when it comes to bargaining with our skin and makeup. While I'll admit to some benefits prestige beauty holds over mass-market, you shouldn't assume that you get what you pay for. There are tons of great deals to be had out there, and because of this, I'm introducing a feature I call Drugstore Dupe.

Today's dupe: Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum -vs-

Here's the lineup:

Estée Lauder's Perfectionist [CP+] Wrinkle Lifting Serum: 1.7oz for $80.

The company claims this product: "dramatically reduces the appearance of lines, wrinkles and age spots"

According to Estée Lauder, key ingredients include:

Acetyl hexapeptide (aka. Argireline): Marketed as a topical alternative to Botox, this peptide, in injectable form, has been found to prevent muscles from contracting, which gives the skin a smoother appearance. This effect, however, is only applicable when the ingredient is injected- topically applied it can't penetrate the skin deep enough to reach nerve receptors. This peptide is helpful in that, like other peptides, it stimulates collagen production in the skin.

Palmitoyl oligopeptide: Like other peptides, this ingredient stimulates the skin's ability to produce collagen. Collagen helps the skin retain moisture, and, along with elastin, it creates the skin's major support system. Thus, more collagen production means firmer skin. A possible down side to palmitoyl oligopeptide is that it has been found to slow the growth of elastin in the skin.

Mulberry (morus nigra) extract: Used to inhibit the production of melanin in the skin. Melanin is the pigment that colors our skin, it is what makes the skin tone deepen in the sun, and it is also what causes the brown spots known as age, sun, or liver spots. Mulberry root stops the chemical reaction that exacerbates dark spots, enabling the skin's natural exfoliation process to fade them over time.

Grape (vitis vinifera) extract: An anti-oxidant.

Scutellaria baicalensis extract (aka. Chinese skullcap extract): An anti-oxidant with soothing, anti-inflammatory properties.

This is what I see when I take a closer look:

The first five ingredients in Perfectionist, aside from water, are all various types of silicones. This is what gives Perfectionist it's silky, slippery feeling. Silicones act as moisture binders and skin protectants, forming a barrier to hold in moisture and keep out irritants. While they provide a nice feel and some benefits, they are by no means rare or expensive ingredients- you can find silicone in everything from shampoo to generic, store brand body lotion.

The claim that this serum will "dramatically" reduce age spots seems a little sketchy to me. The main ingredients addressing this concern, according to Estée Lauder, are mulberry, grape and skullcap extracts. While mullberry extract may be effective in inhibiting melanin production, the science behind the other 2 ingredients is limited. Skullcap extract does nothing to inhibit pigment production, but since hyperpigmentation can be exacerbated by inflammation, skullcap's effects as an anti-inflammatory may be helpful. Lauder also lists grape extract as a spot-reducing ingredient, but I couldn't find reference to it as anything but an anti-oxidant. On the plus side, the addition of licorice root extract (another anti-inflammatory) may provide some help in addition to the other extracts. Another plus is that all four ingredients appear rather high up on the ingredient list, along with other humectants, skin conditioners and moisture binding ingredients.

The anti-wrinkle ingredients in the formula (the two peptides) actually appear pretty far down on the ingredient list (the acetyl hexapeptide-8 is 43rd if my count is correct, pamitoyl oligopeptide is 51st.) The higher up an ingredient is on the list, the more of it there is in the product. Once the amount is under 1%, the ingredients can be listed in any order. Obviously I'm not a cosmetic chemist or dermatologist, I have no way of knowing the concentration of peptides in Perfectionist and even if I did, it's not clear what level is necessary for effectiveness. This is just something to keep in mind when comparison shopping. I should mention, there are quite a few ingredients listed (grape and chamomile extracts, and linoleic acid for instance) that act as anti-oxidants; while these ingredients will not correct damage that has already been done, they may help to prevent new wrinkles and dark spots.

Now let's see how our Drugstore Dupe measures up:

Olay's Regenerist Regenerating Serum: 1.7oz for around $15-$19. (depending on the retailer, coupons are also sometimes available)

The company claims this product: "Hydrates for firmer, visibly lifted, younger-looking skin without drastic measures. Instantly the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is softened and skin's texture is improved. Over time your skin will be visibly firmer and more elastic."

According to Olay, the key ingredients include:

amino-peptide (aka. palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, palmitoyl pentapeptide-3, Matrixyl): Stimulates the skin's collagen production, which decreases wrinkles and has been shown to speed wound healing. It also helps the skin to produce hyaluronic acid, which moisturizes the skin and helps it retain moisture.

B3 complex (aka. niacinamide): This ingredient could be, in part, why Olay's Regenerating Serum's ingredient list is so much shorter than Lauder's Perfectionist; niacinamide is a multi-threat! There is strong scientific support showing that it increases the skin's elasticity, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, sun spots, redness, and skin sallowness. It also helps to repair and maintain the skin's natural protective barrier by increasing the ceramide content in the skin. This helps make sensitive skin more tolerant and also helps alleviate some symptoms of rosacea, such as redness and inflammation. On top of all of this, niacinamide has anti-oxidant properties, and is an excellent hydrator that may even help treat acne!

Olay Moisture: Exactly what "Olay Moisture" is may be a trade secret, but this formula includes glycerin, which helps skin retain moisture, panthenol (aka. vitamin B-5) which may be effective for both moisurization and wound healing, and vitamin E which, in addition it's highly proven antioxidant properties, reduces water loss from the skin and strengthens it's protective barrier.

And a closer look shows...

As with Lauder's Perfectionist, most of the top ingredients in Olay's Regenerating Serum are silicone, however, many of Olay's active ingredients appear higher up on the ingredient list. The formula also contains carnosine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that may slow the production of AGEs (short for "advanced glycation endproduct".) AGEs are abnormal structures that cause damage to the skin's elasticity, resulting in progressive aging. By stopping the production of AGEs, it may be possible to slow the aging process. Olay's formula also contains powerful antioxidants in the form of Vitamin E and Green Tea extract.

The Verdict:

Save your money, try the Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum.

I was actually surprised at how much better the Olay product seems. At first glance, Lauder's ingredient list is so long, you'd assume it has to have more of the good stuff in it. When I did the research, however, I found that many of Perfectionist's ingredients (especially the botanicals) had little substantial science behind them. Then, there's always the fact that, if you're sensitive like I am, more ingredients simply means more to react to.

In my opinion, Olay's formula has a leg up on Lauder's. The anti-aging ingredients contained in Regenerist seem to have stronger scientific backing and fewer potential pitfalls that those in Perfectionist. It also seems as if Olay's active ingredients may be present in higher concentrations that Lauder's. Like I said, I'm not a chemist, but all of Olay's key ingredients fall in the first half of the formula's list- the same can't be said for Lauder's.

When it comes down to it, the science behind Olay's Regenerating Serum seems more sound, and the price can't be beat. Keep an eye out for coupons and sales (which, btw, you'll never find at an Estée Lauder counter) and let me know what you think!

Monday, February 1, 2010

This Week's Sales
Goldfaden, RapidLash, Rosie Jane
and more..

With Valentine's Day coming up, beauty sales are pretty sure bet this week and next. If I haven't mentioned lately, these sites are "members only" and require an invite to create a free account. How do you get invited? Lucky you, you already are- just click the link attached to the website's name, and you're all set. The only exception is Editor's Closet, which doesn't provide a handy-dandy invite link, so if you want to check out their goods, click here for a personal invite. Now, on with the show.

Since I feel like I'm kind of giving The Fairest the shaft by always listing them last, we'll start of there this week. On the roster: Primal Elements, Fenix Cosmetics, Rosie Jane, and Elave Dermo-Cosmetic.

Starting Monday over at Billion Dollar Babes, check out the Last Chance Blowout Sale, featuring (among other non-beauty goodies) MD Skincare and MOR Cosmetics.

Then it's Tuesday! Tuesday!! Tuesday!!! On February 2nd, when Ideeli features Aveeno, Beyond the Rack has Body & Soul Cosmetics, and Row Nine offers up their Valentine's Day Boutique of luxury fragrance gift sets.

Gilt Groupe has Jouer on Monday, and another V-day themed boutique on Wednesday: Be Mine Beauty Essentials, which promises brands like Annick Goutal, Mario Badescu and Jemma Kidd. Burberry Fragrances pop up on Thursday the 25th.

Editor's Closet offers up two double features this week, first it's Goldfaden and Enzo Milano on Tuesday and then on Friday February 5th check out Lizette Cosmetics and Morris Organics.

As if all of this wasn't enough, HauteLook has enough this week to keep us busy all by themselves! Freeze 24-7 starts on Monday. Baby Quasar follows on Tuesday, RapidLash on Wednesday, and Tammy Fender on Thursday. Cover FX rounds out the week on Friday February 5th.

So, busy week, and not many majors- I'm really hoping to see the #160 Foundation Brush on sale at Cover FX, and if the price is right, I may try some Goldfaden as well. I'd love to know if anyone has used any of the lesser known brands- what are your must haves?
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