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The Beauty Connoisseurs

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lip Service


So, lip gloss makes me happy and I'm not ashamed :-)I have about 5 glosses in my purse at the moment and I still feel like that's not enough. Don't worry, I'll be adding to my arsenal soon with a couple brands I'm working on and one that my good friend Kim Riley has developed. I digress...

The real purpose of this post is to discuss the properties of the lips and why all lip products are not created equal. Like the rest of our body, our lips are covered with 3 layers of skin: stratum corneum, epidermis and dermis. The stratum corneum is the outer most layer of skin that protects the epidermis. The stratum corneum on the lips is much thinner than that on the rest of our bodies. Thus, the stratum corneum of our lips is much more delicate and requires more specialized care. Another significant difference in the skin on our lips and our bodies is that our lips do not have sebaceous glands. Since our lips don't excrete any necessary oils or moisture, lip care products are a must. Also, the amount of melanin in our lips is considerably less than that of the rest of our skin. Sun damage is real and devastating to our beauty, our lips need and deserve a good sunscreen.

One major problem I have had with several lip products on the market is that they cause my lips to peel. I think that is extremely gross and unsightly. The reason behind this peeling phenomenon is actually pretty simple and easy to avoid. Some lip care products are heavy in occlusive ingredients. Occlusive products, also known as barriers,are characterized as products meant to lock in moisture. Knowing that our lips don't produce moisture, what is an occlusive product actually doing? Trapping dryness and making your lips even more dry!

So what ingredients should you avoid? Primarily mineral oil and petrolatum. Other natural occlusive agents may be used in lip balm products which is what gives them their stiff/dense consistency. Ingredients like beeswax, candelilla wax and carnauba wax are not too bad when other skin softening, emollient ingredients are used. Some good ingredients to look for are jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil and olive oil. These oils will easily absorb in your skin and provide some much needed nutrients and moisture.

So back to my love of lip gloss... because of the typical consistency of lip gloss, it can easily avoid overusing occlusive agents and can maximize all kinds of amazing oils and extracts.

So now that I've given you the skinny... do the glam thing and give yourself a little lip service :-)
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Update: Parabens

This past February, I did a post discussing parabens-- what they are, what the rumors are and whether or not the rumors were true. You can find that post here: Parabens

New research has been released that shows parabens don't cause any hormonal activity in the body. Florian Schellauf of Colipa (The European Cosmetics Association) recently presented research regarding propyl- and butylparabens that were introduced both orally and topically in laboratory rats. The study showed that the parabens are significantly absorbed orally, but only partially through the skin. Although there is some absorption through the skin, the research shows that the parabens are fully metabolized BEFORE they reach the blood stream. As proof of this finding, blood plasma tests were conducted that showed only the presence of the paraben metabolite p-hydroxybenzoic acid (pHBA) not the parabens themselves. These findings held true whether the parabens were introduced orally, dermally or subcutaneously (by injection just beneath the skin's surface). Thus far, pHBA is not known to have any estrogenic effects and can be found in our food and plant life naturally. That means, you are already ingesting the paraben metabolite more than likely on a daily basis. IF pHBA is causing trouble via your cosmetics, then it would be causing problems via the food you eat too. Think about it...

So the final word on this research study as put forth by Colipa is:

“The study confirms the results of a number of research studies, which concluded from their work that parabens are metabolised rapidly and to a large extent in living organisms and therefore cannot exhibit any adverse effects,” --Colipa.

Based on the science, I still see no harm in the use of parabens-- especially in the extremely low concentrations that are used in cosmetic preparations. We shall continue to see how the story unfolds. For now, if you are a consumer that has chosen to steer clear of parabens, there's no harm in caution. Just know, the science is on their side.

For more information on this study, view the original article here: New data on parabens
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mineral Oil

Mineral oil is a standard ingredient in many skin care applications including lotions, baby care products and cold creams. The verdict is still out on whether or not mineral oil is a natural ingredient. Mineral oil is the by-product of petroleum distillation for the process of making gasoline. Vaseline is also a by-product of this process. In skin care, mineral oil is said to work as a thin coating on the skin to help trap moisture. It does NOT draw moisture to the skin from the atmosphere. Mineral oil is not easily absorbed by the skin and thus is possibly comedogenic meaning it can clog the pores. Clogged pores slow the skin's ability to eliminate toxins which is never a good thing.

Aside from the cosmetic problems mineral oil can cause, there are some more serious implications. Once mineral oil is absorbed by the skin, it is metabolized and travels through the intestinal tract. Mineral oil will absorb fat soluble vitamins from the body and carries them out with it in bodily waste. Essentially, mineral oil has the potential to steal vital nutrients from our bodies. There have actually been some cases of [lipoid] pneumonia that were found to be caused by mineral oil.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Unscented vs Fragrance Free

With so many allergies, sensitive skin problems and the growing desire to "go green", consumers are opting for products that don't contain any added fragrance-- or so they think. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of ambiguity on the part of the FDA regarding appropriate wording for products that contain no added fragrance.

My twitter friend, Krissy90220, noticed that one of her personal care products was labeled "unscented" but had "fragrance" listed in the ingredients. Krissy, like most consumers felt that the label was misleading and illegal even... but, according to the FDA, this is quite alright.

There is no documented FDA definition for "unscented" or "fragrance free" which means the terms can be used freely on product labels. The FDA does, however, require that if fragrance is used in a product it be listed in the ingredients. Generally speaking, unscented is used when a product contains fragrance only to mask the chemical smell of other ingredients in the formula. Fragrance free is most often used when no fragrance exists in the formula at all. It's not likely that leading brands will have truly fragrance free products due to the number of synthetic ingredients that are typically used. Small handmade product lines that are labeled unscented or fragrance free are more likely to be authentic. If you find a product that is labeled unscented or fragrance free, does not list fragrance in the list, but still smells scented, it is probably misbranded. Misbranding is subject to penalty by the FDA and should be reported due to the possible implications.

If you have sensitivities to fragrant chemicals and seek a product that undoubtedly contains no fragrance, the front label will not give you all the assurances you need. Always read the ingredients list on the back label of a product to be sure that what you perceive is what you will receive.

Until next time... Here's to the glam life!
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Hope for the Dry Skin Woes

I rarely toot my own horn on my blog. I like to take a different approach to advertising. But, the last blog I posted happens to be the perfect set up for me to rave about Envie (on-vee-ay).

Two key points I touched on in the "Dry, Itchy, Flaky Skin" post were:

1. Dry skin needs to be slathered in a very thick moisturizer while the skin is still moist to improve the performance of the moisturizer and to help the skin retain as much moisture as possible.

2. Dry skin is better served if it is massaged rather than scrubbed. Abrasive bath accessories and scrubbing action damage the very fragile, dry skin.

And now for the pitch:



The Envie Bath and Body Conditioning Body Butter Creme is a super thick moisturizer packed with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. It certainly passes the thick moisturizer test-- Put some in the palm of your hand then turn it upside down... this thick creme won't budge! Heavy duty moisturizing ingredients include shea butter, avocado oil, marajuca oil and pumpkin seed oil. It is highly emollient, yet non-greasy which means you can apply it right before you get dressed in the morning, or before you go to bed at night. The Envie Conditioning Body Butter Creme gets my seal of approval, but of course I'm biased. ;-) Visit our website to purchase a jar for yourself and a friend. http://envielabs.com

Massaging the skin helps to improve circulation and cell regeneration. Ultimately, it is a very gentle way to exfoliate and you already know how much I heart exfoliation. Envie will be selling handmade chenille bath mitts to add another touch of luxury to your bathing experience. The chenille fabric is soft, plush and luxurious and is perfect to buff your skin to perfection. These bath mitts will be available in limited quantities, so be on the lookout-- you don't want to miss this treat!

Thanks to the dry skin post, I have a few grand ideas for new products. I LOVE what I do! Here's to the glam life!
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Dry, Itchy, Flaky Skin

So... I realized today that I hadn't posted a blog in almost two months. That is totally unacceptable! I'm back with a vengeance. I thought it was an appropriate time to tackle the problem of dry skin. During the fall and winter months more people begin to experience the discomforts of dry skin. I'd like to discuss a few of the causes of dry skin and also some treatments. Let me warn you, some are unconventional and they go against a lot of what I've been doing to treat me own dry skin all these years, but they are all certainly worth a shot. After all, dry skin really sucks!

Unfortunately, some of us have a genetic predisposition for dry skin also known as xerosis. Others of us have dry skin as the result of external factors. Ideally, our skin is coated with a thin layer of natural lipids and fatty substances which are meant to help us retain moisture. Dry skin occurs when the sebaceous glands don't produce enough oil to protect our skin or when the oils are stripped from our skin by external factors. Those external factors could be dry air, harsh winds, abrasive bathing accessories like bath poofs and loofa sponges, harsh soaps and hot water. Regardless of the cause, the treatment options are generally the same. The following are tips to help soothe and eliminate your dry skin.

1. Avoid hot water and long showers or baths. Hot water strips the natural oils from the skin. It is better to shower in lukewarm water and keep it short. Shower for just 3 minutes to prevent loss of moisture. If you can't keep it short, make it long. After about 15 minutes your skin starts to retain moisture from the shower. You can tell your skin is absorbing the water by the appearance of your fingertips. If they are wrinkly, the water has made its way in.

2. Many of us really give ourselves a good scrub in the shower. I know I'm guilty of keeping a trusty bath poof hanging in the shower. I think they are great for exfoliation, but they may be causing more harm than good. Dry skin is much more sensitive than normal skin. A good comparison would be the difference between leaves in the spring and leaves in the fall. Spring leaves are smooth, pliable, flexible, not easily broken. Fall leaves, however, are brittle, dry, fragile and crumble easily. Dry skin is like fall leaves. So instead of scrubbing your dry skin, use a plush washcloth or another soft, luxurious bath accessory to massage your body. The soap does the cleaning, the massage will stimulate blood flow and oil production.

3. Avoid harsh soaps. We LOVE to see a good lather from our soap, body wash, or shower gel. Unfortunately, all those bubbles rinse away and take those precious natural oils with them. So, don't overdo it with the soap products. Whether you see a good lather or not, the soap will do its job. Unsavory, but true: Soap is really only a daily necessity for the "hot spots". The arms, legs and abdomen can really be well served by a good rinse daily--lather maybe once or twice a week. Have I done this? Yes and no. My son suffers from severe eczema. I use soap on him once a week. Every other day, he gets a quick soak in the tub. I think his skin thanks me for that. :-)

4. Immediately following the shower PAT dry. DO NOT RUB YOUR SKIN DRY. You want to leave your skin hydrated to improve the performance of the moisturizer you choose. For dry skin, the thicker the moisturizer the better. You want to use a heavy, highly emollient moisturizer to replenish the skin and have long term effects. Bonus tip: Use a "barrier" to lock in moisture. Good barriers are oil based products that may also be considered ointments. A popular and effective barrier product is Aquafor. A less common, yet more effective barrier product is Crisco Vegetable Shortening. Yes, I am recommending cooking oil for your skin! That's just another trick I picked up caring for my son's skin. It does an excellent job of keeping the skin moisturized, soft and supple.

5. In the cold winter months, a little extra coverage could go a long way in protecting your skin from the elements. Of course you want to wear coats, hats, scarves, gloves etc. But, your legs could benefit from a little extra coverage too. Opt for those unsightly tall tube socks that men wear. They will keep your legs protected from the cold air which can creep up your pants legs. I personally love the tall socks. True, they're ugly, but they are warm and they keep your legs from sweating in your knee boots. ;-)

6. Changes in your diet could also have a positive impact on the condition of your skin. Drink plenty of water. Half your body weight in ounces is the recommended daily amount. So if you're 100 lbs, you need to drink atleast 50 oz of water a day. Avoid alcohol and caffeine which cause the body to eliminate water. Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and essential fatty acids. That means plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables and fatty fish like salmon. Flax seed oil is also a great source of essential fatty acids.

Dry, flaky skin is not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination. Take care of your skin, it will thank you for it.
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Monday, September 7, 2009

Scent Inspiration: Alexander McQueen


I have a thing for fashion... I love clothes, shoes, handbags and accessories. I do an awful lot of window shopping on the web planning my next purchase or daydreaming about the day when I can afford the item I want. This time the most coveted item was a pair of Alexander McQueen booties-- Faithful Booties to be exact. Oh, how these shoes made my heart skip a beat! Finely crafted black leather, peep toe, zippers, buttons, skulls... in a word HOT!!!! So daydreaming of the day I could purchase a pair of $1155 shoes without guilt evolved into a scent inspiration. After all, cosmetics and fragrance development is my black card.

The Alexander McQueen Faithful Booties inspire a scent that is representative of every good girl's inner bad girl. We all have one, whether we let her out or not. She's the rebel, the girl that doesn't want to play by the rules, wants to be sexy not just beautiful, would love to hang out all night and call off work in the morning. This scent is for her! I envision an intoxicating scent reminiscent of the smell of a new leather jacket and fresh tobacco. Crisp notes of cognac, lime and grapefruit add character to the scent. Of course there's more to the fragrance, but I can't give away ALL my secrets, right?!

More scent inspirations coming soon. :-)

**Picture taken from http://alexandermcqueen.com
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

All Things Accutane

At the request of my dear twitter friend Justmiaiam, this post will cover the good, the bad and the ugly of accutane. Unfortunately its mostly bad and ugly... let's dive in. Please note, I couldn't possibly cover all the side effects of this drug, seriously its just that bad.

Accutane is one of 4 brand names for the acne drug generically known as isotretinoin. The remaining 3 brand names are Amnesteem, Claravis and Sotret. So what is it exactly? Accutane is a form of Vitamin A that works by minimizing the amount of natural oil produced by the skin. It is usually prescribed for severe nodular acne after other treatments have proven uneffective. However, a 2 year congressional study found that doctors have prescribed the drug to teens and women with only mild acne symptoms. Accutane is much too powerful for that.

The "bad" side effects:

Some users of Accutane have attributed hair loss (sometimes permanent)to the drug. Because this drug works by altering the oil production and cell regeneration it causes the hair and skin to become extremely dry and fragile which leads to thinning and loss. The hair loss can be anywhere including the eyebrows, eyelashes and scalp. Other users claim that the drug has caused severe back and joint pain that has persisted even after use of the drug has been discontinued. Other "bad" side effects include poor vision, sensitivity to light, dry mucous membranes (nose, lungs, bladder, anus) and depression which could of course lead to more serious problems like psychosis and suicidal thoughts.

Now for the "ugly":

Accutane has been known to cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. This is more than just a notion. In fact, the warning is so strong that the FDA requires patients to be enrolled in iPledge a program that ensures individuals taking the drug are not pregnant and will not become pregnant while on the drug. The iPledge programs requires that patients must be on (2) forms of birth control and must receive regular pregnancy tests before, during and after treatment as any amount of Accutane (no matter how miniscule) can cause severe birth defects. Common birth defects are of baby's ears, eyes, face, skull, brain and heart. So why does Accutane effect the reproductive system so severely? The drug contains parabens which demonstrate estrogenic activity, imbalances of human sexual hormones wreak havoc on the reproductive system. Other "ugly" side effects include stroke, seizures, low white blood count (susceptibility to fungal and bacterial infections)and liver damage... just to name a few.

The moral of the story is... while Accutane may prove effective in treating and clearing acne symptoms long term, the side effects are common and far too severe to risk.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Acne: Treating the Culprit

Now that we've discussed factors that cause acne, we can explore the treatments. The two most common acne treatments are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid.

Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria that causes acne. This bacteria (Propionibacteria acne)cannot live in an oxygen rich environment. The structure of benzoyl peroxide actually contains 4 Oxygen atoms per molecule (that's a lot). In essence this ingredient floods the pores with oxygen thereby killing the acne causing bacteria. Benzoyl peroxide also works to keep the pores clear of dead skin cells. Thus, not only does it treat acne, but it helps to prevent future breakouts. This treatment is most effective on mild to moderate acne and can be used with other acne treatments. Because there is no real cure for acne, treatment must be ongoing to ensure clear skin. Benzoyl peroxide is overwhelmingly popular in part because there are no known side effects that come with prolonged use.

Benzoyl peroxide is available in many forms including liquid, cream and bar cleansers, toner, concentrated cream, shaving cream, gel etc. The general consensus is to start treatments in a concentration of 2.5% for at least three weeks and track the results. Benzoyl peroxide is available in stronger concentrations, however, they are a lot more irritating to the skin so the side effects may outweigh the benefits in some situations. The goal is to use the lowest and most effective concentration possible. It is important to note benzoyl peroxide is not to be used as a spot treatment. This ingredient is known to be drying, so it is important to use a good non-comedogenic (doesn't clog pores) moisturizer. Also, peroxides are bleaching agents so avoid getting them in your hair, or on clothes and towels.


Unlike benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid does not treat acne bacteria. It is used to treat acne caused by clogged pores that appear in the form of white and blackheads. Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid that sloughs away dead skin cells that could possibly clog the pores. It is able to penetrate the pores keeping them clear and preventing future breakouts.

Salicylic acid is available over the counter in lotion, cream, cleanser, toner, and pre-soaked application pads. Most treatment concentrations range from 0.5% to 2%. Proper use of salicylic acid as an acne treatment would be to start with either the application pads or lotion/cream to get acne under control. Once your skin has cleared it is safe to graduate to a once a week wash or scrub. The use of more than one form of the treatment is highly discouraged as salicylic acid can be very drying and irritating. Similar to benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid treatments must be ongoing to continue to see positive results. Possible side effects are stinging, burning and excessive dryness. As always be sure to use a good moisturizer.

In the next post of this series will discuss a few less common acne treatments, spot acne treatments and Accutane by request. Until then...
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eeek! Where did this Acne Come From?!

A few of you have asked me beauty questions regarding acne and acne treatments. I like to be thorough with my answers so now is the perfect time for a blog series on acne. We will start with the causes, after all, if you don't know why it happens how can you treat it?

The source of acne lies far beneath the skin's surface in the sebaceous hair follicles (also known as pores). The sebaceous glands produce an oil called sebum which is your skin's natural "moisture" supply. If all goes well then when your skin cells die, they are sloughed off in your sebum supply. Sometimes, things go awry and your skin cells don't slough evenly. Whatever is left of dead skin cells and bacteria etc gets sticky and clogs the sebaceous hair follicle(s). Overtime, there is a build up of sebum, dead cells and bacteria which presents itself in the form of a pimple or acne. In addition to the gookey stuff, the body will respond by sending an army of white blood cells to fight the bacteria-- those get stuck too and while in battle increase pressure in the bump and cause it to hurt. Ultimately the factors that affect acne are your body's rate of skin cell regeneration and sebum production.

The above is fact. The following is my educated opinion. I welcome my esthy friends to weigh in.

The consensus in the medical/scientific world is that dirt, food and most cosmetics do not cause or even affect the severity of acne. I beg to differ. Keeping in mind that acne is generally caused by dead skin cells and bacteria becoming sticky and clogging the pores, I can't imagine how dirt wouldn't get stuck in there too. I have the same theory for makeup that is applied in excess and not properly removed. In regards to food (junk food) our bodies get rid of toxins the best way they know how-- secreting toxins through the pores is not a far cry. Consider this: How many of us have been able to smell garlic on a person's body. I mean, they didn't even have to speak and you just knew they had Italian food for lunch. Or how about the odor of alcohol radiating off of a person that has had entirely too much to drink... Its seeping out of their pores! My point is-- all the chemical preservatives, fat and cholesterol that is ingested from junk food has to get out somehow and the normal exit is not always the most efficient.

So that's acne in a nutshell. There is no real cure for acne, but there are treatments. Once successfully treated, prevention is key. We will discuss courses of action in the next post of the series.

Until then... Stay Glamorous, acne and all!
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Scent Inspirations

Its been quite awhile since I've shared my scent inspirations with you all. The first was inspired by the feather fashion trend. That scent actually made it to my product line as Arabesque. I was later inspired by a funky piece of furniture. Today I called on my Twitter friends for inspiration from their favorite songs. Thanks to @_JenniferElaine, @Relax_Naturally and @Krissy90220 for playing along.

Purple Rain (Prince)

The music and the melody of this song inspire a deep, heavy, sultry blend. In my mind I see (smell)a heavy floral top note anchored by a touch of spice and rounded off with a hint of musk or vanilla. My florals of choice would be rose, tuberose and/or lavender. For a spicey note I'm leaning toward carnation. A leather note would be kind of sexy in this blend too but minus the vanilla or musk.

Money Honey (Lady GaGa)

This song is fun, but its hot too. I think a citrus blend is fitting. I imagine a combination of grapefruit and lime top notes, ylang ylang to add something sweet to the blend with ginger and balsam peru at the base.

Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon and Garfunkel)

What a lovely song! I drew inspiration from the lyrics of this song because while listening to it I seemed to totally ignore the music. For me this song is the epitome of a mother's love; constant, free and unconditional. This scent has to be warm, inviting and comforting. My vision is a benzoin and/or vanilla base, a nutmeg and clove heart and a touch of jasmine to make it complete.

I plan to experiment with each of these fragrances in the near future. I enjoy the creative process of turning my vision into reality.

Thanks ladies for the inspiration!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Teach Yourself to Crawl

Its been quite awhile since I've done a self-esteem post. One of my main goals in life and business is to help women learn to love themselves completely. A big part of loving yourself is celebrating the things you are good at and the things you have accomplished. Just as significant is creating new reasons to be proud of yourself. Humans are the most intelligent life forms. We have the ability to constantly learn, grow and change; meaning we have infinite opportunities to strive toward being our best selves. That means we should always set goals, accomplish them and set more.

I was watching my son move around a couple days ago, fascinated by his development, when I had a very intriguing thought. We teach babies how to walk, but we never teach them to crawl. How relevant that is to everyday life! Crawling is the first step to a person's independent mobility. After we master crawling, we are ready to walk so we look to someone to teach us. Here's my point: Do all that you can to help yourself achieve great things BEFORE you reach out for help. When you have first learned to crawl, you have increased confidence and experience the feeling of accomplishment which gives you the drive to achieve even more. It is inevitable that we will need some help getting to where we want to be, but we should never rely on someone else to get us started.

Its ok to get your knees a little dusty before you slip on those stilettos.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Lead... Is It In You?



Lead is not really a new fear factor. We have known for at least 2 decades that lead based paint is a "no-no", especially if you have small children. In more recent years scientists and health professionals have begun to point out lead content in other items that are typically ingested. The FDA currently regulates lead content in candy and food/cosmetic dyes. Unfortunately, no level of lead is deemed safe for ingestion, so even with regulation, there is still the possibility of ill-effects. The real purpose of this post is to discuss the dangers of lead because it can be ingested from your use of lipstick.

It is estimated that over a lifetime, the average woman ingests 4-10 lbs of lipstick. That is an awful lot when you consider how little you put on at a time. Imagine for a second eating lipstick by the tube... each is probably about a half ounce (I don't really know, just roll with me.) There are 16 oz in a lb... so 1 lb of lipstick is 32 sticks... times 10... that's 320 tubes of lipstick!!! Enough of the numbers, my point is, eating that much lipstick with a lead content of any amount is playing with fire.

Lead is harmful in that it has been found to be a neurotoxin that hinders learning, language and behavioral development, lowers IQ, and can cause increased aggression in some individuals. The problem is so major because the body cannot process and eliminate lead, so what is ingested over time will remain built up inside you.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics conducted an in depth study of lead levels 33 popular lipsticks on the market. What they found is only 39% of the lipsticks they tested showed no detectable levels of lead. This means chances are, your favorite lipstick is toxic-- Buyer BEWARE!

There are some natural alternatives that are lead free, but they are a little harder to find. My suggestion is to scour the internet and support your handmade cosmetic companies. Click here to view the full report A Poison Kiss: The Problem of Lead in Lipstick.

Intelligence is the ultimate glam accessory... don't ruin it with lead exposure!
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Treat Your Feet... Its a Requirement!!!!



This blog post is the result of numerous twitpics, tweets and comments regarding BAD FEET. While we are not all fortunate enough to treat ourselves to periodic spa pedi's, there are plenty of cheap and easy ways to manage the condition of the skin on your feet. Here are just a few simple home remedies that will make even the most difficult feet presentable. Men, you can benefit from these tips as well!

The first step to decent feet is a good soak. Soaks are necessary to soften the cuticles, dead skin and callouses that form on the feet. You can find plenty of ingredients for a good soak right in your kitchen cabinet. Although I've never tried it myself, I've been told a mix of apple cider vinegar and warm water does an excellent job of priming the skin. Mix the vinegar and water in equal parts and soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. Be sure the water is warm, not hot. Hot water is drying to the skin. This soak has also been known to cure athlete's foot.

Following the soak, use a loofa sponge, pumice stone or foot rasp to scrub the dead skin from your feet. Now would be a good time to also use a homemade salt or sugar scrub. Try brown sugar or sea salt with olive oil. I think a good ratio is 3:1 sugar/salt:oil but feel free to play around with the ratio until you get a texture that you like (or need). Here's a tip: Never use a or let anyone else use a credo blade to remove the dead skin from your feet. It removes far too many layers of skin both healthy and dead. As with any healing process, the skin will come back more tough and thicker than before. The result is similar to the development of a scab when a cut or scrape is healing.

After a good scrubbing, your feet could benefit from a mask and a great moisturizer. A mixture of oatmeal, honey and olive oil makes a great mask to soothe and moisturize the skin. The key is to make it thick so that it sticks to your feet for awhile. Rinse feet with warm water and follow with your favorite lotion. Wear a pair of white cotton socks for awhile to lock in the moisture.

A little daily TLC for your tootsies will go a long way in preventing those embarassing "kicking flour" moments. My best advice is to keep a pumice stone and/or foot rasp in the shower right next to your razor.

Bad feet can ruin the hottest strappy stilettos and that's not glamorous at all!

Here's to the glam life!
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Case For Exfoliation



As I am sure you know by now, my skin is very important to me. Its also rather temperamental! I have extremely dry skin which tends to flake and gets worse depending on the weather. I don't just mean a change in season... I mean if its 75 degrees today and then tomorrow its 52 degrees my skin will instantly be a flaky, dry mess! Living in Michigan I have plenty of sucky skin days. I have always used an exfoliant for my face, but just began daily full body exfoliation within the last six months. Here's my case for exfoliation for any skin type.

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Skin cells regenerate every day in the lower layer of the skin (dermis). In order for the young skin cells to show there brilliance the old skin cells that make our skin rough, dry and dull need to be removed. For dry skin types, dead skin cells accumulate and make the skin look and feel even more dry. They also prevent moisture from penetrating the pores. For oily skin types, dead skin cells get trapped in the oil naturally produced by your skin and clog the pores. This causes the skin to not only appear dull but also results in breakouts. Exfoliation becomes more important as we age because the natural process of cell turnover slows down.

There are two types of exfoliation: Mechanical and Chemical. Mechanical exfoliation uses various abrasives to physically remove dead skin cells from the skin's surface. Daily mechanical exfoliation should be limited to gentle exfoliants like finely ground fruit seeds, fine sugar/salt, etc. A more abrasive exfoliant like medium to coarse salt/sugar, jojoba beads and whole fruit seeds (like grape and strawberry seeds) can be used 1-2 times per week to really refresh the skin.

Chemical exfoliation employs alphahydroxy acids (AHA's), betahydroxy acids (BHA's)and enzymes to loosen the "glue" that holds dead skin cells together and sloughs them away. Citrus fruits such as lemons, tomatoes, grapefruit, oranges and lime contain natural chemicals (AHA's and BHA's, etc) that exfoliate without the need for rubbing or scrubbing. Chemical exfoliation should be used sparingly and in safe concentrations. Even natural chemicals can be way too strong for use on the skin (especially sensitive skin).

Most natural exfoliants are also rich in vitamins and minerals which is great for healthy skin. Any exfoliating treatment should be followed by a good moisturizer. After proper exfoliation, the skin can more easily absorb a moisturizer because it has been wiped clean of debris and the pores are open.

The second step in the Envie Body Care Systeme is our Silkening Body Polish which is a combination of exfoliants and a moisturizer. Our body polish is suitable for daily use as it contains a fine mechanical exfoliant (crushed walnut shells) and a gentle chemical exfoliant (Bamboo extract). The body polish is followed by our Luxury Shower Gel which is infused with Jojoba Oil and our Conditioning Body Butter Creme with Shea butter, Cocoa Butter, Marajuca, Avocado, Pumpkin Seed and Jojoba Oils.

Exfoliation is key for healthy, glowing, radiant skin... and what's more glam than that?!

Learn more about Envie and buy our products HERE
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Evolution of a Woman; Growth of a Brand



Not too long ago I was having a conversation with my mom that really put some things in perspective. Just looking back at my life; the things I've done, what I've learned and what I've always wanted to do, I realized that I have been moving towards my life purpose everyday. Sometimes crawling, sometimes walking and other times running. When you're living in your purpose, everything comes together and you begin to see that the cliche "Everything happens for a reason" is really true.

I fell in love with chemistry in high school and took all the chemistry classes I could fit in my schedule. I'm a nerd, I know! But I'm also a glam girl. So I paired my love of chemistry and my infatuation with healthy skin and hair to choose the perfect career.

Envie began to take shape in my freshman year of college. There was a really basic assignment to give a quick speech about your career choice. I kept it short, but it was thorough... I made posters with pictures of my imaginary products, wrote product descriptions and an ad campaign. When I look back that was probably a really dorky thing to do, but that was me-- putting my dreams on paper and sharing them with everyone who was [forced] to listen.

I built the Envie brand to represent me. Everything from the name to the fundamental mission of Envie is about who I am. Envie (on-vee-ay) is the french translation for desire-- a spin off of my name Desiree. I believe in vanity. When women care for their outer selves it makes a difference in the way they feel on the inside. Their confidence builds and they are thus able to achieve more. I believe in health. Our bodies need more than a quick fix or concealer; our skin needs nutrition to reach its greatest potential. I believe in luxury. Everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy the finer things-- Envie is among them. I believe in personal growth and development thus Envie seeks out women's organizations to aid in their missions. I believe in giving back via my time, efforts, money and love.

I don't represent my brand. My brand represents me. Get to know Envie.
Visit our Pre-Launch site HERE
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Envie Pre-Launch


As you all know, I have been working tirelessly on launching my line of bath and body products. As with any venture I have faced some road blocks, but I trudge on! So today I am pleased to share that we have positioned ourselves for a Pre-Launch. We still have a short way to go before the official launch of Envie Bath and Body, but we saw no reason why we couldn't offer you just a little bit of the good stuff.

The Pre-Launch was inspired by the overwhelming feedback that we received after hosting a few sampling events. You were ready to buy and who are we to deny you the chance! So this Pre-Launch is nothing fancy; just a temporary site for you to buy our products before their official release. And to show our appreciation, we're offering some pretty deep discounts.

There are 3 campaigns scheduled for the Pre-Launch, maybe more. Your response will determine how long we keep the good stuff coming!

The first campaign begins at midnight Monday, June 15, 2009 and will run for ONE WEEK ONLY!

Here's what we're offering:

The Envie Body Care Systeme-- Our unique product grouping was specially designed to nourish, condition and soften your skin. This system consists of four products that are all natural and naturally scented with our own essential oil blends. The featured products are: Luxury Bubble Bath, Silkening Body Polish, Luxury Shower Gel and Conditioning Body Butter Creme. Purchase the entire systeme or individual items. By using the complete Body Care Systeme your skin will absorb all of these wonderful nutrients:

Linoleic acid

Oleic acid

Palmitic acid

Stearic acid

Linolenic acid

Vitamins A, B1, B2, B5 (Panthothenic acid), D, E, C and K

Minerals

Silica

Protein

Lecithin

We can't wait to serve you! Here's to the Glam Life!
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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Natural vs Synthetic: A Chemist's Perspective





The craze to "go green" and buy "organic" and "natural" is growing exponentially. The proponents of "natural" speak highly of the benefits and tend to leave out the possible risks, while the big name cosmetic chemists will tell you there is no harm in using synthetics. So, I'm offering my unbiased perspective as a cosmetic chemist that has developed a natural bath and body product line. I'll keep it short.

If you flip through the previous posts you'll find that I have defined quite a few of the typical ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products. As a chemist, I have a healthy respect for chemicals; they serve their purpose and most are harmless in the concentrations used. What synthetics lack is the nutritive benefits that "natural" ingredients have. I refer to natural in quotations for two reasons. 1) There is no FDA standard for what is considered natural. Anyone can make the claim whether its true or not. 2) Chemicals are "natural" too! Every element in the periodic table comes from the earth. Those elements come together to make both natural and synthetic ingredients alike.

There are two problems with synthetics that I consider significant. The first problem relates more to vanity than anything else. Synthetic ingredients (silicone oils for example) cannot be absorbed by the skin. They sit on top of the skin forming a protective barrier (good), but don't provide any health benefits. The second problem I find with synthetics is that the chemicals end up in our water supply and reek havoc on our environment and ecosystem. They also increase air pollution. With natural ingredients, you give your skin vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, alpha hydroxy acids, etc; a lot of which your body cannot produce on its own. Going natural means less pollution, better air quality (indoor and outdoor), less chemicals in the water run-off and higher profitability to farmers-- local, nationwide and global.

Synthetic ingredients are often noted for "dermal irritation" especially when being discussed by natural product developers. However, it is important to note that natural ingredients can cause just as much if not more dermal irritation and allergic reactions. The truth is, allergies exist no matter how we try to eliminate them. Actually quite a few essential oils are known to cause skin sensitization and there are others that are toxic as well.

The moral of the story is synthetics and naturals have an equal list of pros and cons. It is up to the consumer to decide what is important and make purchases based on that decision. I have used synthetic personal care products up until now and they served me well. But at this point in my life, I feel a responsibility to protect my environment and to give my body more benefit than harm.

Whatever you choose, glam it up!
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair: The Technique


In order to maximize your personal hair growth cycle, you should implement a consistent hair care routine. This post is just my suggestion; the technique I use to ensure my hair is as healthy as possible. Remember healthy hair is key to getting your hair to its longest length. Alter this technique so that it suits your particular needs.

Wash your hair often (at least once a week) with a good quality moisturizing shampoo followed by moisturizing conditioner. Remember to steer clear of alcohols which are very drying to the scalp and hair. Greasy hair needs to be washed more often than dryer, curly hair. **Dirty hair does not grow faster than clean hair. That's just nasty! Avoid 2 in 1 products; their conditioning is rarely as effective as a stand alone conditioner. For softer hair, do not rinse away all the conditioner. Leaving a trace of conditioner on the hair helps to smooth the cuticle layer and provides a layer of protection until the next wash. Once a month, I recommend a deep conditioner. Leave it on for no less than 10-15 minutes, but really what's the rush? Relax, watch a movie, read a book.

As previously discussed, regular trims are essential to ensure the hair on your hair is its healthiest. I usually get my ends trimmed with every relaxer treatment. For me that is every 4 weeks. Most stylists recommend a trim every six to eight weeks. Just be mindful of how your ends look. If they are frizzy, dry or transparent, its definitely time for a trim.

Since heat is not a friend to our hair, keep heat styling to a minimum. Blow dry your hair and then heat style as desired ONCE A WEEK. Use a light hair oil or a thermal styling product to help protect your hair from heat damage. Do not pick up a flat iron, curling iron, crimping iron, etc again until the next wash. You'll be surprised how much you reduce split ends and breakage just following this one rule.

There is a lot of pressure to go natural these days. If you feel the urge, look for products with botanicals, herbs and minerals in the ingredients. Such products will provide many nutrients that the body does not produce on its own. You can get the same benefits of natural hair care by altering your diet to include the foods discussed in "The Friend". When making the switch from mainstream hair products to all natural hair products, the condition of your hair may appear to get worse before it gets better. This phenomenon is similar to an addict in recovery, the hair goes through a withdrawal period.

One last note, chemically treated hair needs extra TLC. If your hair is permanently colored, bleached, permed or relaxed, you should consider using a deep conditioner with each wash and adding a hot oil treatment once a month. You may also find that you need to get your ends trimmed more regularly. To one and all-- go easy on the styling products. Product buildup is definitely "The Enemy".

Here's to the Glam Life and Long, Luxurious Hair!
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Monday, May 4, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair: The Friend

In the previous posts for the Long, Luxurious Hair Series, we discussed the science behind hair growth and factors that negatively affect the growth process. Armed with that information, we are now able to investigate ways to optimize individual hair growth cycles. The key is to protect the hair from extensive damage and breakage.

The very best way to promote healthy hair growth is from the inside out. Incorporating foods that aid in hair growth and strength is a healthy and safe way to reach the ultimate goal. Hair is made primarily of a strong protein called keratin which is also found in skin and nails. Variations in the amino acids found in keratin account for the differences in texture with some being soft and/flexible and some being hard. Since hair is made of protein, eating foods that are high in protein will be beneficial to the condition of the hair. Iron, B Vitamins, Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin E and sulfur are also good additions to a healthy hair diet. Adding more of the following foods will be a good start: fish, eggs, leafy green vegetables, yogurt and nuts. Experimenting with different recipes that include these foods is a fun way to change your diet. Stear clear of hair growth supplements, they are potentially dangerous and unnecessary.

Aside from altering your eating habits, there are some topical hair treatments that will help to repair and prevent damage. Moisture is a must for healthy hair. Dry hair is often brittle and easily broken. It is important to note that hair oil products are not moisturizing products. Good moisturizing products will infuse moisture (water) in the hair shaft which hydrates the cuticle layer helping to create shine and prevent breakage and/or split ends. Use shampoos and conditioners that have humectants in the ingredients list. Humectants draw moisture to the hair and hold it there. Some humectants are glycerin, honey, sugar cane, hydrolyzed wheat starch, sodium PCA, panthenol, sorbitol, propylene glycol, butylene glycol and acetamide MEA. Also be sure to avoid of sulfates and alcohol which strip the hair of its natural oils.

Heat styling can cause damage to the hair shaft when used in excess. In addition to minimizing the use of heat, you should invest in thermal styling hair products which help to protect the hair from permanent damage and usually have other nutritive properties.

Finally, having your ends trimmed on a regular basis is your hair's very best friend. Split ends are not only unsightly, but they spread. Ragged ends easily get tangled with other strands of hair and cause breakage when the hair is combed or brushed. Uncontrolled split ends continue to split, higher and higher up the hair shaft causing frizzy, dry, damaged looking hair. When this sort of damage is finally addressed, the hair has to be cut much more than it would had it been dealt with early. Most stylists recommend a scheduled trim every six weeks.

In the final post of the series, we will discuss a technique to maintaining healthy hair for optimal hair growth.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair : The Enemy


Before I begin discussing "The Enemy", I'd like to give a brief and blunt recap of Part I. Simply put, a person's hair will grow only to the length that their individual growth cycle allows. There is no product or technique that will extend your unique hair growth cycle. That being said, healthy hair should be the ultimate goal. The result of improperly cared for hair is breakage. Naturally breakage abbreviates the potential length of your hair. There are several culprits which negatively affect the hair growth cycle. Included are heat, chemicals and styling products. Here's why:

The most key fact in understanding "The Enemy" is knowing that by the time the hair emerges from the scalp, it is no longer alive. Consider a fresh flower arrangement. Once the flowers are cut, they are no longer receiving a continual supply of the nutrients needed to survive. As the recipient of the flowers, we do all we can to keep the flowers in bloom for as long as possible. We clip the stems at just the right angle, put them in water, add plant food, prune the leaves, etc. Similarly, our hair needs just as much TLC.

Heat styling can be both beneficial and counter-productive. The benefits will be discussed in Part III. When heat is applied to the hair, it breaks the hydrogen bonds (water molecules) found on the cuticle layer. The cuticle layer is then opened and the hair is able to be reshaped and maintains this new shape upon cooling. When water, in liquid or steam form, is introduced, the hydrogen bonds reform and the hair returns to its natural state. Excessive use of heat causes severe damage to the cuticle layer which will eventually lose its ability to "bounce back", thus breakage results.

The majority of American women have chemically altered their hair at some point. This includes permanent waves (perms/jerry curls), relaxers and permanent color treatments. Each involves the use of strong acids or bases which just aren't pretty for anything dead or alive. I'm sure I don't need to prove that, each of those treatments will cause chemical burns on the scalp if left on too long. Damage to the cuticle layer from these processes is inevitable. In the case of permanent color treatments, the product is meant to literally strip the cuticle layer until the desired color is acheived. Sounds painful!

Styling products are not such harsh villains, but they can cause significant damage nonetheless. Typically, mousse, styling/sculpting gel, holding spray, etc contain alcohol which can be very drying to the hair. Paired with the heat from a blow dryer, curling or flat iron, the hair shaft suffers a great deal of damage apparent by split ends and breakage.

Look for Part III where I will discuss how to fight the enemy yet still enjoy the styling we love.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Long, Luxurious Hair: The Science


The Science is Part I of a 4 part series geared at dispelling the myths, providing the facts and suggesting techniques for optimal hair growth. The topics to be discussed later are The Enemy, The Friend and The Technique.

Fact or Fiction? Anybody can grow long hair with proper care. FICTION-- Here's why:

Each individual has a unique hair cycle which accounts for the length of their hair. A complete hair cycle consists of 3 phases: anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the active growth phase of the hair cycle. The duration of the anagen phase is 3-7 years depending on the individual. In contrast, the rate of hair growth is generally the same for everyone. Hair usually grows at a rate of one centimeter a month; although there are factors that can affect the rate of growth ie season and health. The anagen phase is initiated in the follicle embedded deep in the scalp. Over time, the follicle gradually rises to the surface presenting the hair shaft.

The catagen phase is the rest period for the hair lasting approximately 2-4 weeks. During the catagen phase, the hair is no longer actively growing, however; the follicle is still moving towards the surface of the scalp. The follicle also begins to shrink in size marking its near demise.

The final phase of the hair cycle is the telogen phase. This is the period of time in which the follicle sheds mature hair. The shedding period lasts about 3-4 months. In the telogen phase, hair is either shed naturally or pulled out painlessly in the typical grooming process of shampooing, combing, brushing, etc. With the shedding of old hair, the follicle is ready to cultivate the growth of new hair; thus marking both the ending and beginning of the hair cycle. At any given time, 90% of hair on the scalp is in the anagen phase while the remaining 10% is in the telogen phase.

The anagen phase is the segment of the hair cycle that is responsible for length. Unfortunately the duration of an individual's anagen phase is genetically determined. In other words, there is no way to alter the length of one's anagen phase nor the natural length of one's hair. Hormones play a significant role in the anagen phase and provide an explanation for the variances in hair growth between men and women. Androgen, the male hormone present in both males and females, has the greatest affect on hair growth and thickness. Oestrogen, the female hormone also present in both sexes, decrease the rate of hair growth, yet extend the growth period. In pregnancy, the oestrogen levels are much higher which is why hair tends to grow longer in those 9 months. Ultimately, the balance between androgen and oestrogen in individuals regulates hair growth.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Personal Branding

We are all familiar with the cliche-- "First impressions are lasting impressions." It seems that today this couldn't be more true. Personal Branding is the concept of packaging yourself in a way that makes you marketable in your career, allows you to command attention when you enter a room and leads to an overall increase in self esteem. The goal is to present yourself in the manner in which you want to be perceived. For many of us, this is simply a matter of playing up existing attributes; for others its a 'fake it til you make it' undertaking.

For the purposes of this post, let's focus on the superficial packaging; the 'you' people perceive at first sight. As much as I despise it, the way you present yourself has great bearing on the opinions formed by others. Excess facial hair gives the idea that you have something to hide. A slovenly appearance indicates laziness and lack of ambition... and so on. The clothes you wear, style of your hair, your makeup routine all say something about who you are as a person or better yet how others view you.

Less considered but no less important is the fragrance you wear. It is a little known fact that smell is the sense most closely related to memory. The scent you wear can invoke thoughts, impressions and memories in others as well as in yourself. Oftentimes, people wear fragrances that are a mismatch to their personality and/or goals. For this reason, I recommend adding a custom fragrance to your personal branding package. A fragrance made to suit your unique persona can not only improve your first impressions, it can also induce confidence, self assurance and assertiveness.

Contact Envie Bath and Body to inquire about custom fragrance services. Introductory pricing applies for a limited time only!
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Lip Plumpers



Every woman wants luscious lips, but not all of us are so blessed. I've become an avid reader of beauty blogs and i can't help but notice that lip plumpers are everywhere! There are plumping glosses, balms, lipsticks, stains-- the list just goes on and on. So of course, my intrigue is how do they work? I've never used a plumper so I didn't have the luxury of flipping it over and reading the ingredients list, but of course I found the active ingredient!

So I've read that these plumpers tingle when applied which leads you to believe they work. Good news, you're right! The tingle sensation is attributed to menthoxypropanediol, a derivative of menthol. The way it works is by causing irritation of the skin resulting in swelling. So why doesn't regular old menthol have the same affect? Well, it can slightly, but menthoxypropanediol is made synthetically in a lab and it is twice as strong as menthol which results in greater irritation.

Because of the way these plumpers work, it is recommended that they are not used daily to prevent damage to the delicate skin on the lips. My suggestion: use sparingly for nights out as a part of your glam look.
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Crazy Week!

Hello All! This week has been like a roller coaster; plenty of ups and downs. I've been coping with the inevitable. Regretfully, my official launch which was originally scheduled for April 1, 2009 must be postponed. There are some loose ends that cannot be tied right now and I just can't reconcile a raggedy launch. My line means too much to me not to be perfect. I am, however, able to offer my custom services. I'm in the process of setting up a temporary website where the services are explained in detail. As soon as it is up and running I will post the URL.

I want to thank everyone who has been a support to me in this venture. Doors and windows are being opened for me everyday. Success is right around the corner!

Now, I owe you all a techie post and an um, what?! post. I'm throwing out the daily post assignments. Life is getting increasingly hectic so I may not be able to post everyday, but you will still get the same substance. Please continue to visit daily and tell your friends about the site.

Thanks!
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Maintenance Monday: You Can Do Anything!

Almost everyone has a dream that seems unattainable. You alone may not think you can pull it off, then you make the mistake of sharing your dream with someone totally undeserving of hearing it and you get the "now what makes you think you can do that?" look. Unfortunately, we can be our own worst enemy and friends and family are our resident goon squad. No wonder the dream seems impossible, there is no faith and positivity behind it.

If there is a dream in your heart, you have the responsibility to work towards it. All things are possible, especially those things you have a strong desire to achieve. The first step to living your dreams is to tell yourself you can do it. Start your mornings by speaking to yourself in the mirror; allowing only positive affirmations to leave your mouth. Example monologue: "Good morning Desiree! The start of this day brings you closer to your dream. You are hardworking, steadfast and dedicated to your goals. The ball is in your court and you're destined to win. Don't allow the negativity of others ruin your day. You are positive and will reap the benefits of your disposition. Have a very productive day! I love you!"

You may find it helpful to write a script to memorize and recite every morning. Having a standard conversation with yourself every morning will prevent you from saying anything negative by accident. Lets face it, some days we just don't feel positive, but positive affirmations can make all the difference on those days. I emphasize the mirror because it is important that you see you telling you great things. You have to believe yourself in order to combat the negativity of others.

Although I would prefer not to hear anyone say what I want can't be done, I accept it as a challenge. I get a kick out of showing Mr. and Mrs. Negative that I can indeed do the impossible. I believe that is a great approach to reversing the negativity-- Oh you don't think I can? Just watch me!!! Prime example--- I'm starting a company during a recession that hasn't even peaked yet, but I can guarantee you I will succeed!

In closing, you know who the nay sayers are. They don't deserve the privilege of knowing your dreams. They'll know soon enough when you're living it!

Be unstoppable!
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Um, What?! Glycolic Acid

A couple years ago, while in the midst of a battle with my temperamental skin, a friend of mine recommended I try a chemical peel. The title alone was enough to keep me from trying it. I have very dry skin, opting for a chemical peel just screams "Dry me out some more!!!!" Thankfully I saved myself the heartache.

Glycolic acid is the active ingredient in chemical peels. While it has a host of benefits, they do not come without a cost. Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane. It can be used industrially for rust removal and degreasing, but is more commonly used in skin care products as an exfoliator, moisturizer and wrinkle reducer. It is only classified as safe at less than 10%; however, is most effective at concentrations of 10% and higher. Generally only smaller cosmetic companies are willing to take the risk of liability for higher concentrations of glycolic acid in their formulas.

When used in an exfoliating cream, this highly acidic ingredient penetrates damaged skin and burns it off chemically. Other ingredients in the cream carry away residual dead skin flakes. The acid in the cream is neutralized by water when it is rinsed off. Following exfoliation, glycolic acid has the ability to act as a humectant by drawing moisture to the skin. Using products with glycolic acid can cause increased sensitivity to the sun ; thus, a high spf sunscreen is recommended. If that isn't scary enough, the chemical peel process is just horrendous! After a good scrub of the skin, a highly concentrated alpha hydroxy acid (usually glycolic acid) is applied. Allow me to classify highly concentrated. Recall glycolic acid can be used to remove rust, this at a concentration not to exceed 70%. The concentration of glycolic acid in chemical peels begins at 50%! So what you're applying to your face just may be strong enough to remove the rust from your car! NOT GOOD.

It is likely that for a few days following a chemical peel treatment, the skin will appear red and irritated, sort of like a burn... I wonder why! The skin on the face is so delicate, I can't imagine why anyone would want to use such a potent acid on it. I could better relate to the use of a chemical peel on much rougher/tougher skin like that on the feet. While I do not oppose the use of alpha hydroxy acids in skin care treatments, I do think it is important to have some discretion.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Techie Tuesday: The Caffeine Trend


Caffeine is used in a multitude of cosmetic products, but is it just a popular trend that will eventually pass? or is it really effective? The function of caffeine in cosmetic applications is to reduce the appearance of cellulite and puffiness under the eyes. I am rather suspicious of these claims of caffeine in a topical application considering so many women drink coffee, tea and soda pop daily yet still have the cellulite/puffy eye dilemma. Here's an example to help put this into perspective. My 4 month old son has a nasty case of eczema which led to a skin infection, while the dermatologist prescribed a topical antibiotic, the allergist said that wouldn't be enough. He is currently taking an oral antibiotic to clear the infection from his blood stream, not just on his skin. My point is ingesting caffeine on a daily basis should seemingly be more effective than applying it topically. Also consider the difference in concentration. Eye creams come in the smallest little pots imaginable, how much caffeine do you think you're getting in one application? Certainly not as much as you would ingest from a cup of coffee or a 16 oz Coke! Lets further investigate the claims.

In connection with cellulite creams, caffeine can have a tightening effect on the skin. This is actually a sign of skin irritation, but if it works... why not? right? Cellulite (which is not a medical term) is the body's natural store system for fat. What makes it so unsightly is when it begins to bulge under pressure of the connective tissue. Connective tissue in women lacks the flexibility that it has in the male body. In eye creams, caffeine can increase blood flow which probably won't reduce puffiness, but it may have a dramatic affect on redness and dark circles. Caffeine is also a proven antioxidant.

The moral of the story is, while caffeine may not actually perform according to its advertised claims, it still has the ability to enhance most cosmetic applications.
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Maintenace Monday: Beauty All Around You

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

As spring peeks around the corner, so do endless opportunities to experience beauty at its finest. As the snow melts, the grass "greens" and flowers begin to bloom. The transition alone is breathtaking. There is a light, fresh scent in the atmosphere, a gentle breeze in the air and the sun peaks with a delicate glow. All the changes in the environment refresh the mind, body and soul of women everywhere and there is a sort of trickle down affect that induces a change in our own appearances.

I've noticed that everything about a woman becomes more feminine as the weather breaks. The make-up gets lighter-- softer colors, shimmer foundation and lip gloss instead of opaque lipstick. Much of the red nail lacquer is replaced with sweet pinks, lavenders and ice blues. And we trade in the gray and navy blue sweaters for funky green and spunky pink blazers and airy dresses.

I've always been able to recognize beauty in other women. I notice great hair and skin, a woman's sense of style and the way she carries herself with confidence and grace. Although I don't always express a compliment, I have a great respect and appreciation for the beauty of a woman. As an exercise in self esteem, take the time to enjoy all of the springtime scenery; the weather, the plant life and the beauty of the human race. The ability to recognize the beauty of another woman without feeling threatened or intimidated is a sure signed of inner security.

Take it all in!
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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Updates...

I haven't posted anything since Wednesday for good reason. Primarily, as April 1 draws near, I have quite a few loose ends to tie. I've been making final touches on the scents for the signature series. I'm rather pleased with the results so far. I was also working on a project for a client which is now awaiting her approval. Lastly, I have developed preliminary formulas for the next set of products to roll out. I would like to make them available in mid-April. Let me tell you they are divine! I'll wait awhile before I tell you what they are in case I change the order of product release.

About the blog posts... I think Timeless Treasure Thursday has come close to running its course. I may write about a company from time to time, but ultimately the subject matter for Thursday will be replaced. I may begin to cover trends in hair, skin, makeup and nail care and periodically tie Thursday's posts in with Fresh Idea Friday. Another thought is to add another self esteem day. Sort of a "touch up" to follow Maintenance Monday. We'll play it by ear for now.

Be glamorous!
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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Um, What?! Urea

When you hear the word 'urea' what is the first thing that comes to mind? If you thought about urine, you're not alone and you're certainly not wrong! Although urea is not literally urine, it is a component in the urine produced by mammals. The urea concentration in animal waste is much higher than that of humans. Fortunately, the urea used is not derived from animals or humans, it is produced synthetically. That is great for vegans but of no use to the au naturale beauties.

Urea, also known as carbamide, was first synthesized from inorganic materials in 1828 by Friedrich Wohler who was attempting to make something totally different. Urea was in fact the hands down proof that nature could be recreated in the lab using non-natural starting materials. Urea is mainly produced commercially/industrially as a fertilizer; however, it has significant applications in cosmetics and personal care products.

As an ingredient in cosmetics, urea is used as a preservative and also as a buffer, humectant and skin conditioning agent. A buffer controls the ratio of acids and bases. Typically, personal care products should have a pH close to that of water which is neutral (pH of 7). Humectants draw water to the skin which aids in hydration/moisturization. Urea is an active ingredient in products used to treat dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema and keratosis pilaris (chicken skin).

After review by the CIR urea showed low adverse affects. Dermal irritation was found to be insignificant. There were no reproductive or developmental issues. Urea was also cleared from any carcinogenic risks.
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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Techie Tuesday: Beauty Slime



I'm sure we are all familiar with snails and the slimy little trail they leave behind. I once had an intimate relationship with a few snails in middle school. They were unwilling participants in a science project I developed regarding second hand smoke. FYI-- I no longer use animal testing. The slime was gross to say the least, but snails were the lesser of evils. I worked with mealworms first--extra gross!-- and I can't even bear the sight of slugs. Much to my surprise, snail trails have a profound application in cosmetics and skin care treatments.

The use of snail extract in beauty treatments was discovered accidentally by snail farmers in Chile. They noticed that cuts healed rather quickly and that all of the workers on the snail farm had unusually soft, supple hands. Typically, hard work with your hands equals hard, calloused hands, but that certainly was not the case. After taking the time to really think about it, it should be no surprise that snail slime has these properties. Critically thinking, snail's soft bellies travel over some very rough surfaces, yet they keep going and never appear to get injured. Scientists discovered that the snail extract--Helix Aspersa Muller Glycoconjugates-- contains collagen, allantoin, glycolic acid, elastin and antibiotics. Allantoin is responsible for skin regeneration. It is the anti-oxidant that allows a snail to repair/rebuild its shell if necessary. Glycolic acid is useful in hydrating and exfoliating the skin as well as assisting natural collagen production. The antibiotics in snail extract are a combination of peptides and Vitamins A, C and EA which work together to fight bacteria.

This is not 'new' science. The first snail cream was patented in 1995. It was used to fight wrinkles, acne, and age spots and to treat minor burns, cuts, stretch marks, warts, ingrown hairs, etc. The snails used to make various snail trail cosmetics are raised in a controlled environment to ensure they produce optimal extract. But how is the slime extracted?

One patented method is to agitate the snails in warm water. The water is then filtered to collect only the snail extract. I've read of other methods that were much more harsh than this. One involved removing the shell and cutting the fatty parts of the snail. Now is that really necessary? There is also concern about how effective the extract is after being stolen from the snail. Son of the Chilean farmer who originally discovered this miracle slime has developed a process to extract the slime and preserve its qualities. He claims his method does not harm the snails but that is definitely under suspicion since the method is top secret.

While it is a known fact that the snail trail has all these magnificent properties, there is no guarantee that they actually make it into your jar of cream or vial of serum. Additionally, the synthetic ingredients typically found in our beauty products may greatly alter the effectiveness of such a concoction.
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Monday, March 9, 2009

Maintenance Monday: Strength and Compassion

I had the pleasure of attending a very honorable event this past Thursday evening. The Vanguard Awards produced by the Detroit Young Professionals organization recognized 10 very deserving individuals who are making a significant impact on Metropolitan Detroit. One of the honorees, Kalyn Risker, stood out to me more than any of the others. The minute this woman began to speak, I could see her inner beauty shining bright like a beacon of light. Kalyn Risker is the founder of S.A.F.E (Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment) a non-profit organization dedicated to helping domestic violence survivors overcome the economical pains of leaving an unhealthy relationship.

Ms. Risker spoke with such passion, determination, strength and compassion about her cause. I made a point to introduce myself to her and extend my resources to her organization for more reasons than one. I truly believe that her mission will reach a multitude of suffering women which is reason enough to want to help. But more than that, this woman exudes the type of inner beauty that I have spoken so much about on Maintenance Mondays. Having overcome her own hardships, Risker seeks to empower other women to do the same. I applaud her efforts and look forward to working with her in the very near future.

Kalyn Risker is an example to us all. Continue striving to be your very best self--- inside and out. And don't forget to fight for a cause you believe in. Everybody needs some sort of help, why not be the one to offer it?

Click on SAFE to visit the website to learn more about Kalyn Risker's organization. Remember, nonprofits can always benefit from monetary support. Large or small, your donation will make a difference.
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Friday, March 6, 2009

Timeless Treasure: Aveda Corporation


Aveda Corporation was born in 1978 from a homemade clove shampoo made by successful cosmetologist Horst Rechelbacher. Horst spent six months in India studying the use of plants and herbs for the purposes of promoting good health and increased lifespan. Thus Aveda products incorparated all that he learned. In the early 1980's Horst began marketing his shampoos and conditioners to hair salons where he earned great success. He eventually began a distribution system for his products in which distributers sold Aveda exclusively in their stores.

Aveda's body care products were set apart from the others because they employed the use of aromatherapy and because they were all natural. Horst was always opposed to the use of synthetics, petroleum bases and animal testing. The Aveda Corporation expanded its business by introducing Aveda Esthetique in the 90's. The Esthetique consisted of over 75 original fragrances that could be used to custom scent already existing Aveda products.

Over time, more and more big name cosmetic companies began marketing natural product lines. Because those companies offered their products to a larger population of vendors, they had more earning potential. It appeared that the Aveda Corporation may have restricted its profits by having a collection of too many different products. As part of its committment to protecting the environment, the company owned a collection of salons, esthetiques and even environmentally friendly clothing lines.

In 1996, Horst decided to take a step back from the everyday hustle and bustle of his growing company. By 1997, the company had been sold to Estee Lauder where, as chairman of the Estee Lauder business unit, he was able to continue to develop products. Today, the company remains profitable and has experienced an increase in growth as Estee Lauder has marketing reach overseas.
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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Um, What?! Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is a cosmetic ingredient that has long intrigued me. It first caught my interest when I learned it has outstanding moisturizing/hydration properties and is also produced naturally. The human body has a natural supply of hyaluronic acid (as do all mammals). It is part of the connective tissue beneath the top layer of skin along with collagen and elastin.

Hyaluroic acid is such a great hydrant because it has sponge-like qualities which allows it to hold 1000 times its weight in water. The result is well hydrated skin with a more plump, smooth appearance. Overtime, the body's production of hyaluronic acid begins to decline. The end effect is dull, dry skin that begins to show signs of fine lines and wrinkles. In today's society, women over thirty are on a quest to look ten years younger. Enter hyaluronic acid in anti-aging serums, cellulite creams, skin and lip plumpers, and even skin injections (similar to BOTOX). It can also be introduced in food or as an oral supplement.

Used topically, hyaluronic acid is said to act as a 'protective film' to trap moisture and reduce/prevent evaporation over time. It is not a permanent solution because the molecules are much too large to be absorbed by the skin. In essence, as soon as you bathe, you wash away the desired properties. This is typical of most topical applications which is why you must continue to use a product for 'lasting' results.

One of my concerns about this ingredient is how it is obtained. Because hyaluronic acid is only produced by mammals, you could imagine how many vegans and animal rights activists oppose its use. I was not yet able to pinpoint the exact method of extracting hyaluronic acid from animals, nor am I knowledgeable on what animals are typically used. I did however find a study (research) conducted by a team of japanese scientists that were looking for a way to promote hyaluronic acid synthesis. In other words they wanted to try to force the skin to produce more hyaluronic acid to counter the natural affects of aging. They were successful in making a cosmetic with egg white enzyme hydrolysate (from chicken eggs) that was deemed very safe in its use. I look forward to learning about further advancements in this science.

Learn more about the japanese study
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Techie Tuesday: Toner

There is an on-going debate in the world of beauty about the use of toner. There are some experts that say it is a necessary step in your everyday beauty regimen. Others disagree and of course some are on the fence. Historically toner was used as a secondary cleanser to remove residue from the first cleanser and any makeup left behind. With the advances made in cosmetic science over the years, many experts feel cleansers rinse clear enough to skip the toner step. Quite a few women disagree! After cleansing their faces, they still get dirt on the cotton ball when they swab with a toner. Why would that be? The experts against toner say "Get a better cleanser."

The ingredients in a typical toner are the main source of concern for many experts. Included are astringents and alcohols which are rather irritating to the skin. Because of the drying effect of astringent and alcohol, toner is often only recommended for people with excessively oily skin. Also important to note, quite a few women enjoy the 'tightening' sensation they feel in their skin after the use of a toner; however, this is not really a good thing as it is clearly an indication of drying.

I, for one, am an avid user of toner. I have extremely dry skin and am prone to dry patches (aargh!). I'm constantly fighting with my skin to exfoliate, cleanse and moisturize in a way that isn't overly drying and doesn't cause random breakouts. Its a never ending battle! I use moisturizing toner, which I find is easy on my skin and helps to remove the nasty little flakes left behind after I've cleansed or scrubbed. I don't recommend astringents or alcohol in the use of any personal care products, especially not on the face. To me, the skin on the face is just much to precious!

There is clearly no right or wrong in this issue. Do what is best for your skin. Only you know what that is.
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Monday, March 2, 2009

Maintenance Monday: Its OK to be Vain

Vanity is such a controversial subject. I know it was for me for quite awhile. I have always been accused of being vain by family members and I always thought it was such a negative characteristic. With age and understanding, I have learned to embrace this quality.

By definition vanity is excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities and achievements. How could someone ever be too proud of who they are?! Vanity is only negative when it seeks to downplay another... but at that point I don't think it's vanity at all, that's insecurity. I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful model and esteem coach about a year ago. She always emphasized not to feel threatened by or compare yourself to anyone else because no one can be you like you can. I've always lived by this philosophy, but it was amazing to me how her coaching changed the attitudes of so many women in that room. They began to exude a confidence that they didn't have when they walked in because it was not hard to believe that she was right.

I believe that when you care about your appearance, qualities, abilities and achievements, it encourages you to always do more to be better. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! So today I challenge you to be vain and embrace it wholeheartedly. Be who you are and do it well... and while you're at it, show someone else how to do it too.
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Saturday, February 28, 2009

I have a confession...

Monday I proposed that we dedicate 21 days to establish new habits/behavior that would have a positive affect on our inner beauty. If you recall, I emphasized that one slip up resets the 21 days. I chose to make 4 changes. Unfortunately, I have slipped up on 2 of them. The other two haven't been tested yet. They are pretty much a package deal so I'm back to Day 1 of my 21 day challenge!

The key to this challenge is to make a conscious effort. The only way I'm going to be successful at this is if I become more mindful of my behavior. I must be proactive not reactive (if that's a word). This exercise is applicable to all areas of life, making it personal is just practice for applying it to more critical situations.

Today is my last Day 1! No excuses!
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Friday, February 27, 2009

Fresh Idea: Frankincense


I went on a "sniff trip" Monday morning in search of some oils to complete a client's project. While I was sniffing-- trying to make a decision on what combination I thought would be best to suit her needs-- I came across a bottle of frankincense oil. I must admit, I never smelled frankincense before that day. I was always turned off by its description, thinking that it would make my creations smell like incense. I can't stand that spicy/earthy smell that I think all incense have! So just out of pure curiosity I took a whiff... and oh let me tell you I was soooooo pleasantly surprised! One sniff made me smell it again.... and again... and again. It didn't smell like incense at all!!!

Its a known fact that smell is the sense most closely linked to memory. Frankincense brought back memories of my childhood summers spent at bible camp. How ironic! Frankincense was used to adorn baby Jesus at birth and it reminds me of the times in my childhood when I felt closest to Him. My fondest memories are from bible camp. I made friends there to last a lifetime... in fact that's where I met my honey :-).

At camp there was no television, no radio, cell phones or pagers... just a bunch of kids running free on the grounds participating in fun activities and having bible study. It was a week of bliss where you forgot about sirens and smog and whatever problems you had at home. There was nothing for your little heart to worry about. Camp made such an impact on all of us that we would anticipate that one week in the summer all year long.

In honor of this priceless memory, I'm going to make myself a fragrance centered around the wonderful smell of frankincense. Maybe in my creative journey I'll happen upon some other scents that remind me of that sacred place. [sigh]
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Timeless Treasure: Shiseido

Shiseido Company, Limited is a 137 year old timeless treasure founded in Tokyo by Yushin Fukuhara (a former pharmacist). The original objective of this family owned company was to be Japan's first western-style pharmacy. The company began to dabble in cosmetics during the transition of the japanese feminine appearance; while some women still wore the ancient makeup (white faces and stylized eyebrows) many were making the transition to the look of western women (the way we wear makeup as Americans).

Shiseido expanded the scope of its business by offering franchise opportunities outside of the normal reach of the company. Its early success was due largely to customer loyalty which was encouraged by high quality products and personalized service. Similar to the way the Tokyo store was tailored to a specific market, the franchises were also. The franchise stores also began to offer mail-order services. The company had such a solid foundation that it was not rocked by World Wars or Depression.

Overtime, of course, the company image became dated. The loyal customers grew old and the new youthful generation of consumers were not wowed by the Shiseido brand. The response was to diversify the brand and its stores. While some stores carried cosmetics, other stores carried youth fashions, home goods, or fitness aids. The company also introduced a line tailored to the needs of its older customers. Diversification has proven to be the key to this company's staying power because it can target several markets simultaneously.

This multi-faceted company has been global for decades and continues to hold a top spot among international cosmetic companies. I'm sure this company will survive for centuries to come.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Um, What?! Panthenol

I've often seen panthenol in the ingredients of shampoos, conditioners and moisturizing facial products. Panthenol can be classified as a humectant, emollient and moisturizer. A humectant draws water to a surface (for our purposes hair and skin) thus increasing hydration. An emollient makes skin soft and supple and generally results in a soothing sensation.

Panthenol easily binds to the hair follicle and seals the surface which increases shine (Remember the post about shine and scatter?). This is the ingredient that Pantene capitalizes on... I've seen it in every one of their products that I've tried (thats almost all of them! I love Pantene). In hair treatments it is used in a concentration of 0.1-1%. The skin can absorb panthenol rather easily and effectively. It can be used to treat sunburn, minor burns and certain skin conditions. I found it in my moisturizing toner (I swear by toner!).

I guess after all that I should tell you guys exactly what it is. Panthenol is the alcohol analog of pantothenic acid (also known as vitamin B5!). In lay-man's terms, a piece of the B5 chemistry has been replaced with an alcohol. So they're kind of like cousins. Panthenol has passed the CIR (Cosmetic Ingredient Review) for safety in concentrations up to 25%. I haven't read any negative press about this ingredient, but if I find any, rest assured I'll report it.
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