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Indie Cosmetics

The majority of makeup brands you find commercially can be traced back to just a handful of umbrella companies. Makeup tends to use the same ingredients so it’s not unusual to notice similar results and ideas across brands.

An alternative to this is to seek out small independent cosmetics companies. The indies are taking off in this culture of easy online marketing and social media. They occasionally have a small presence in shop displays or sell at craft or trade fairs, but the majority of indie business is done online.

These cosmetics are often handmade—not made in mass batches—and are always cruelty-free. Small companies can’t afford the expense of animal testing anyway. Many indie companies are vegan or offer information about any animal ingredients they may contain.

It’s a requirement for all U.S. cosmetics that they have their ingredients listed somewhere—often on their website. If they don’t, beware.

It’s nice to support a small business instead of a big corporation, and the people in the indie cosmetics world tend to be a community of people who have a real passion for makeup and beauty. If you worry about the accountability and quality of these products, look up reviews. They should be easy to find on social media, blogs, and review sites. These companies are also relatively easy to personally contact with any questions through email or social media.

Often beauty blogs are a good resource to find hidden gems. Etsy can be a great place to find these businesses as are Pinterest and Instagram. Indie makeup can be a lot of fun and open up a whole new world beyond the usual cosmetics counter.

Film Makeup of the Silent Era

One of the greatest inspirations for makeup artists is film history, be it the glamorous looks of the fifties or the more natural looks of the later 20th century.

When we look back to the silent era, makeup from the 1910s and early 1920s looks intensely dramatic and often ghoulish. You might think the makeup style of pale skin and dark and almost black lips and heavily-lined eyes from the silent films of the era had to do with accentuating facial expression and creating contrast, but it had more to do with technical limitations than it did creative choices. This is because the type of film used was orthochromatic, or blue-sensitive.

Orthochromatic film was used universally until 1922 and did not fall out of use completely until the 1930s. Blue colors registered as white on orthochromatic film, and red and yellow registered as black with varying shades of gray falling between those colors rather than indicating any degree of darkness or lightness in reality.

This created a unique and difficult challenge for film industry makeup artists of the day. They used heavily layered pink and white grease paint to get a reasonable skin tone. The eyes weren’t visible with this masklike foundation and blue-eyed actors weren’t even employed because their eyes would not register at all. Makeup artists used heavily applied red shadow around the eyes to make the eyes stand out. The signature look was completed with red lipstick which registered on film as black.

It made for an intensely dramatic face on film that looked almost nothing like what it looked like in real life. The film image though is what remains and still gives inspiration today.Greta Garbo

Lip Balm History

We all use lip balm now but rarely stop to think about where it came from. Lip balm is primarily made from an emollient such as shea butter, petroleum jelly, or lanolin mixed with wax (caranuba or beeswax). The wax gives substance to the emollient and allows it to stick to the lips. Other ingredients such as colorings and flavorings are today often joined by sunscreens. Sometimes anti-aging or antioxidant ingredients are added. Camphor and menthol are classic ingredients to numb chapped lips which might be painful, but the basic emollient and wax formula hasn’t changed much through lip balm’s history.

There is a history of some form of lip protection beginning with the ancient Egyptians. They used beeswax mixed with olive oil and other natural emollients. These were all home remedies, but in the nineteenth century, the first commercial lip balm was created.

In the 1880s, doctor and pharmacist Charles Browne Fleet in Lynchburg, Virginia made lip balm in a stick form wrapped in tin foil. Though he was in the business for years, he failed to ever make it into a profitable business, selling it to John Morton in 1912 for five dollars.

Morton put his wife to work cooking it up in the kitchen and changed the packaging to tubes. He called it Chapstick, and it became wildly successful. It is still one of the top lip balms in the world today.

Many other commercial lip balms were developed as lip balm became a household item. Yojiya in Japan, LypSyl in Sweden, and Rosebud Salve in the U.S. all came out around the turn of the century. Carmex was created in the 1930s especially geared toward cold sore sufferers. Blistex was invented in the the 1940s. Bonnebell began in the 1970s and focused on fun flavors. Burt’s Bees started in the 1990s. EOS became trendy in the 2010s and focuses on organic ingredients and trendy packaging.

Beauty Sleep

You can moisturize, drink optimal amounts of water, and wear sunscreen daily. But if you aren’t getting enough sleep, you face an uphill battle.

Human growth hormone is produced at night during sleep. If we don’t get enough sleep, our cells cannot rebuild and repair themselves. Sleep deprivation also causes stress. This prevents the flow of blood and nutrients to the skin, as well as causing weight gain which also puts a strain on the skin. The quality of sleep is also important. The sleep must be optimal, alternating between REM and deep sleep to reap sleep’s anti-aging benefits.

The skin’s hydration balance is regulated during sleep. Lack of sleep can lead to the skin becoming overly dry or oily. The immune system is also weakened by lack of sleep. This can lead to skin conditions and disorders. Inflammation increases without sleep, opening up a host of aging, acne, allergy, and autoimmune problems. Inflammation can lead to the breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid, causing the skin to prematurely age and sag. Lack of sleep can even compound the effects of sun damage—your skin cannot combat it as effectively without adequate levels of sleep.

Sleep is clearly an essential part of beauty—and should be given as much importance as nutrition and a proper skin care regimen.

What if you know how essential it is, but still can’t get enough sleep? Try sticking to a regular sleep schedule, with a daily relaxing routine before bed. Avoid TV and electronic devices before bed; stick to reading before bed. When you’re ready for sleep, ensure the room is dark. Exercise earlier in the day, and avoid food, caffeine, and nicotine at night.

How many other beauty treatments are free?

The Difference between Sunblock and Sunscreen

The difference between sunblock and sunscreen is often misunderstood. Sunblock and sunscreen are considered to be synonymous terms, which is not the case. As the names imply, one blocks the sun’s rays and the other screens them. Sunscreens keep most rays out but let some in. Sunblocks physically reflect the sun’s rays from the skin.

There are chemical sunscreens and physical sunblocks. The sunblocks are generally made from more natural mineral ingredients. The FDA currently approves 17 ingredients for sun protection, some physical, and some chemical. Making an informed choice requires familiarity with the differences. To make it more confusing, some brands are blends of sunscreen and sunblock.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UVB rays. A common chemical used for this purpose is PABA: para-aminobenzoic acid. They are starting to more commonly contain UVA blocking ingredients also.

Physical sunblocks provide a physical barrier to ultraviolet radiation by reflecting that radiation away from the skin. They protect against UVB and UVA light. They are often made from titanium dioxide or zinc oxide and have an opaque color and thick consistency. This thickness does cause them to be hard to camouflage on the skin, often showing as a white, possibly streaky, residue visible on the skin. They wash off less easily than chemical sunscreens, which deter some from using them. They are the natural option though, and they are probably the best option for people with sensitive skin who may be allergic to the common ingredients in chemical sunscreens.

Either sunblock or sunscreen can be equally effective at protection from the harmful effects of sun exposure, as long as they have an SPF rating of at least 30.

The History of Exfoliation

Exfoliation is the process of removing the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin through either chemical or mechanical methods.

Mechanical exfoliation, the process of exfoliating the skin by hand by scrubbing with something abrasive, has been practiced all over the world and throughout history. American Indians used dried corncobs. The people of the Comanche tribe would use sand from the bottom of a river bed to scrub the skin. Polynesian people would use crushed sea shells.

Mechanical exfoliation was practiced in ancient Egypt where they employed a variety of methods. Pumice stones were popular abrasives as well as other minerals such as alabaster particles, and scrubs made from sand and the aloe vera plant.

Exfoliation through chemical means, as practiced today, is a science constantly updated with new technology and ingredients. But the practice itself also has a long history dating back to ancient Egypt when sour milk, which contains lactic acid, was used as a chemical exfoliant. Cleopatra is famously said to have frequently bathed in it.

In the Middle Ages, people commonly used old wine for its exfoliation properties. Old wine was effective because of its tartaric acid content. Various natural remedies of these kinds, containing naturally occurring levels of alpha hydroxyl acids, were the norm until the late 1800s. That’s when German dermatologist Paul Gerson Unna began scientifically formulating the earliest forms of chemical peels. His pioneering research with salicylic acid is still used today.

In the early 20th century, dermatologists began to experiment with phenols in chemical exfoliation. That remained popular through most of the 20th century.

Choosing an Esthetics Career for Life

Opportunities for Estheticians

After getting an education in esthetics, the next step is to begin a career. The industry is broad and the choices are numerous. Here are some options based on where your passion lies.

If you love performing facials or other skin and body treatments:

  • Spa/Salon Esthetician: This is the most common job new esthetician graduates seek. It consists primarily of performing services on clients in a spa setting.
  • Cruise Ship/Resort Esthetician: If you love performing services and want to travel, cruise ships are another option.
  • Medical Spa Esthetician: Performing services under the supervision of a physician, dermatologist, or other medical professional.

If you love makeup/products:

  • Make up Artist: You could specialize in a number of ways depending on where your interests lie, be it bridal, theatrical, television, or print.
  • Make-up line representative: This consists of building clientele for a specific brand within businesses. It requires a lot of travel and the ability to teach clients about product usage.
  • Cosmetic Buyer: This person can work in a variety of retail locations—a department store, salon or specialty store—ordering products, traveling frequently to trade shows, and evaluating products in other environments. A buyer must have extensive product knowledge and knowledge of upcoming trends.
  • Beauty writer, blogger, editor, or columnist: Writing about products for print or web publishing is another option.

If you love working with people:

  • Sales person/manager: If you have an outgoing personality and good people skills, you might want to use your skills in an environment that focuses on using training to sell products.
  • Esthetics Instructor: If you love working with people and want to share your knowledge, becoming an instructor could be a great path for you.

All of these skills of performing services, being familiar with products, and working with people are necessary in the esthetics field. But choosing to focus on the one path that most appeals to you can lead to greater career satisfaction and happiness.

Fall 2014 Makeup Trend: Gothic Beauty

Fall Makeup Trends - GothicThe current gothic trend is about creating a darkly romantic look with a glowing fresh faced porcelain complexion paired with dark lipstick, be it in red or berry, purple or burgundy. Mixing a foundation just a touch lighter than your natural color with your natural color can give a slightly pale complexion without looking overly theatrical or cartoonish. Staying with minimal foundation and concealer keeps it looking romantic. Contouring should be downplayed with slight emphasis on enhancing the cheekbones at most.

Deep colored lipstick creates an aura of mystery and drama. It is the focal point of this look. Eyes are downplayed, with light, neutral shadow and simple mascara. False eyelashes and heavy eyeliner are not part of this particular brand of gothic look. The look is more ethereal and natural with touches of intensely deep color along the line of Lorde. For added drama, the brows can be heavier and filled in darkly to play them up.

In more dramatic eye shadows, the trend this fall is metallics and a subtle metallic can be worked into this look as long as it’s kept light and the lips are the main focal point of the look.

Microbead Controversy

For years, microbeads have been touted as a great agent for scrubs and other cleansing products. Their small size and perfectly round shape allow for manual exfoliation of dead skin cells without any harsh tearing or damage that other exfoliating agents with rougher edges may cause. They also create a smoother texture in products.

Microbeads Shown in a HandBut what seemed to be a convenient and effective product is now a source of controversy. It turns out that microbeads have a significant negative effect on the environment. Microbeads are made of plastic and, because microbeads are too small to be filtered from waste water, they are becoming a major source of pollution. They are washed down the drain and flow into streams, lakes, and oceans. Once in the water supply, the microbeads are swallowed by birds, fish, and other marine life and, through the food chain, they eventually wind up in our food.

Microbeads have been especially harmful to the Great Lakes region. Studies have shown a high concentration of microbeads have collected there, especially in Lake Erie. They account for 81% of the plastic pollution in the Great Lakes. Because of this, the state of Illinois passed legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of microbead products.

Other states are following suit with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, the proposed bill to ban them in California failed to pass in August of 2014. Still, many activist groups are working to raise awareness. There is an app called “Beat the Microbead” to inform consumers of which products contain microbeads. There are many excellent alternatives out there.