powered by

powered by
The Beauty Connoisseurs

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.
[ ... ]

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.

[ ... ]

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!
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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!
[ ... ]

Sunday, March 15, 2009


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!
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]

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.
[ ... ]