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I have EVERYTHING from skin care to how to feed cats, and my thoughts on a variety of subjects.
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"Don't take things personally." (and other topics... like these "Syringe Clinics" masquerading as "Medi-Spas" - and more.)
I was just writing in my diary about an incident that happened yesterday between myself and a client. It was developing into a monologue about how the industry I have spent HALF MY LIFE in has changed over the years - dramatically changed - so I thought I'd pull it out of private diary status and blog about it. You're welcome. ;D
What happened was, a client came in for a facial, and as soon as I felt her chin I knew she had gone somewhere else for some other kind of 'treatment' because it was raw and red and I typically frown on 'treatments' that cause that kind of damage to skin, so I avoid them. So I inquired, sort of hoping my instincts were wrong and that maybe her husband was growing a beard and that's what was causing the irritation!
Nope. Right again. Shoot. She excitedly told me about how she did what a friend of hers did and went to a "Medi-Spa" for glycolic peels and was using Retinol at home. Ok, right away I need to clear something up. There is NOTHING SPA about a "Medi-Spa". What they 'should' be called is "Syringe Clinic for the Greedy and Gullible". That's truth in advertising.
Unfortunately, because I am human with an ego and experiences that lead me down the wrong path sometimes, instead of hearing what she was saying, "Nancy, I haven't had the time to take care of myself in a very long time, and now I am finally doing something for myself and I want to excitedly tell you all about it.", what I heard was "Nancy, you aren't good enough to give me RESULTS so I go elsewhere for that - but I LOVE your warm bed and "fluff and buff" frivolous facials - but you are not a serious professional in skin care."
WHOOPS. So I kind of went off on her a bit. My ego was bruised - PLUS I don't actually think strong peels and retinol are the best things for your skin long-term - which is WHY I DON'T OFFER THEM! If I thought microdermabrasion was the fountain of youth, I would have bought the machine way back in the 1990's when the craze first started, but I DON'T! I don't believe STRIP MINING your SKIN is the way to healthy, beautiful skin! It's popular, but so is McDonald's. Just because it's out there and people offer it doesn't mean it's what is best for your skin.
And that's when my ego gets riled up.
WHY ARE YOU COMING TO ME IF YOU AREN'T TAKING/HEEDING MY ADVICE?
I have spent HALF MY LIFE in this industry. I have a bookcase FULL of trade magazines that I read like the Bible; and countless books and videos. I've spent weekends watching webinars on skin biology, trying to keep up with the latest REAL scientific breakthroughs - not the ones Cindy Crawford found in a melon! I drove ELEVEN HOURS ONE WAY to take a weekend class on skin care! And you know what the lady who WORKS ACROSS THE STREET from the school said to me when I said "I bet you've taken EVERY CLASS they offer?" She said, "I DON'T HAVE THE TIME."!!!
I have poured my heart and soul into my work.
So, yes, I "take it personally." Wish I didn't, but at least I care enough to get upset.
One client (and friend), who I had a row with because she stopped using my serum - which was BRINGING HER GREAT RESULTS - in favor of some horrible multi-level marketing gimmick that her 'friend' recommended she use; as we were "passionately discussing" my horror at her new choice, I reminded her of how much I do to make each decision the right decision - the studying I do, the travelling I've done, the time and energy I've put into this career. She said, "Of course you do, that's what ALL professionals have to do in their career - that's nothing special." WELL, honey, yes it IS special! I'm also a client and have gone to countless places for facials and you know what? Most every therapist/cosmetologist/esthetician I've met has not one clue there is anything beyond showing up for work, putting in their hours, and getting their paycheck. Then when the paycheck goes down because no one markets the business, they jump ship and look for another 'job' at another salon. Repeat. 99.99% of all licensed grads STOP LEARNING as soon as they graduate. THAT IS WHY I TAKE THIS SO PERSONALLY.
It's so frustrating to have poured so much of yourself into something you are passionate about only to continue to find so many uphill struggles.
Back when I opened Vanities in the early 1990's the "professional" aspect of this industry was in it's infancy. There have always been skin care products, and a multitude of people selling them. So what made the educated and licensed skin care graduate different from the Mary Kay ladies or the clerk behind the counter? THAT has been our battle from the beginning. And, sadly, we're losing. Frankly, one could say "We've LOST the battle - and the war."
Back then you couldn't get in the door to even speak to a dermatologist about skin care products. Now they are trying to put us out of business because they realized that there is money to be made schlepping products and they are DOCTORS so they should rule everything. WRONG. Derms don't take ONE HOUR of skin care training. ZERO product knowledge. ZERO ingredient knowledge. Just simple greed.
So let's say you went to beauty school, graduated, tested and got your license ... then opened a skin care salon where you needed to not just do services, but offer professional grade products for your clients to keep up their treatment results at home. So you research and scour all your options and settle on what you deem is the best for your clients and their skin. Now you have to sell it. Great. No, not so great. You are now in a sea of skin care products riding the currents along side Estee Lauder, Lancome, L'Oreal, and that's not all ... now there ARE DERMS who are selling skin care products, Dr. Murad, Obagi, etc. ... but wait, there's MORE ... EVERY celebrity wants to sell skin care products, too ... so add Cindy Crawford and Jessica Alba and MADONNA to the list ... but wait, we're not done yet. Don't forget about all the multi-level-marketing mashers like Mary Kay, NERIUM, Nu Skin, Arbonne, that list gets so long I can't even keep up. You think we'd be done, but you'd be wrong. In the 2000's the organic trend came on the scene so now every heath store has skin care. The internet has skin care coming out it's ears (if the internet had ears!). IT'S ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE.
So, that leaves me with a question. After spending half my life as "Nancy at Vanities", WHO AM I? Am I the professional I've been trained to be? Or am I just a "facial lady" who slathers creams on people in a dimly lit, soothing environment?
Another question: can you be a professional when even your own industry can't keep it's standards afloat? The company I started with even before I opened my salon, so we're talking late 1980's, was dermalogica. When I first started I didn't have the courage or confidence to launch my own line, but I knew what I would have wanted it to be if I could have: results focused products that worked gently, with plant-based ingredients, and the latest scientific breakthroughs. In the late 80's that line was dermalogica. So instead of standing in front, I chose to stand behind a line and let them lead. It was still an uphill battle because NO ONE had ever heard of this line and still no one understood skin care could be a PROFESSION. In Europe professional skin care was highly thought of, but in the US, it was still a world of cold creams and nothing more.
For nearly 20-years dermalogica and I were, by all accounts except by legal definition, PARTNERS. Jane, it's founder, I held in high esteem and valued her as a mentor. I rode the wave as this small company grew and grew and advanced and advanced. dermalogica's parent company was the IDI - or International Dermal Institute, and as one aspect grew, both parts grew. In the 80's there was only one IDI - it was in Southern California, where Jane was. Then by the time I joined in, there were two: one more in Reston, VA just outside D.C. (and the site of the 22-hour round trip I made just to attend classes there.).
For a long while the ride was exciting and fun. I felt empowered to represent what was truly FOR PROFESSIONALS ONLY. An exclusive line just for us Estheticians and as they are known elsewhere in the world, Beauty Therapists.
THEN THE INTERNET CAME.
The internet ruined everything.
Now instead of a client coming in to see me and taking home the correct products they could just 'go online' and source their "professional" products themselves - and often at such a discounted price I could barely BUY it at those internet prices. So America's love of the quick fix ruled the day - and put most of us out of business.
Jane would always teach that our businesses should be 50% service dollars and 50% RETAIL dollars. So if you paid $100 for a facial, you should buy $100 in products. That's great for business - and great for Jane who sold her products to us! So if you were able to run your business that way and suddenly all your clients who had never heard of a line before you educated them on it were now just 'buying online' - you just lost HALF YOUR BUSINESS INCOME! Not so nice.
Never mind all the while we were preaching the benefits of real PROFESSIONAL skin care, we were still competing with ALL those other lines and the constant hustle of "this is why you need my line and not their line" was quite draining.
Fast forward $200 MILLION DOLLARS later, and sweet Jane (and husband) SOLD their "professional" skin care line to - get this - UNILEVER! "Thanks Jane for stabbing us in the back by allowing internet sales, and now thanks very much for absolutely KILLING any "professional" connotation to your precious dermalogica line." So, the lady who spent HER entire life trying to educate people against using SOAP on their skin sold her company to a SOAP COMPANY. Ah, the irony. Big bucks does strange things to people. Or maybe, she just got tired of the uphill fight, too? That knife still hurts my back, by the way.
Now here I am nearing the final stages of my career and the fight continues. I'm not struggling against the loyal Mary Kay followers as much anymore, and I've given up on trying to outsell the internet. No now my challenge is the syringe clinic (falsely marketed as "Medi-Spa") and the harsh "treatments" they are selling a gullible audience. I get to see the strange bumps a bad filler injection is causing, and listen to the lady who will suffer for months because there is nothing to fix a bad injection. I get to witness a client of mine seeking outside services and see the red irritated face she brings to my table but with no knowledge that what she just did to her skin has created long term damage. She didn't think to ask me first, she trusted a "friend" instead and followed her to the syringe and strip mining clinic. It's beyond frustrating.
In conclusion - if there ever is going to be a conclusion - 26 years ... HALF MY LIFE ... and what has it all meant? That's a question I'm in the process of figuring out.
Thanks for listening.
Dear Customers From My Email List:
This may be the last email you receive from me.
Marketing a spa is a lot like online dating ... you watch the commercials and you believe that if you are not on Match.com then you are missing out ... the perfect man is right there waiting for you, get on the ball lady and JOIN! Same with marketing emails ... you are told by business professionals that your clients WANT to hear from you - and they want to hear from you REGULARLY! If you don't, you are missing out and you will lose clients; so get out there and start those email blasts ... ask them to review your business, ask them to facebook fan you, beg them to keep buying from you - weekly if possible like everyone else does.
But do you want to know what the reality is? Well, I have tried online dating and I didn't meet wonderfully successful and attractive men, I met weirdos ... LOTS of weirdos, to the point that I finally had to give up. And here is the reality of email blasts:
Before I even get to the speed I'm up to now in getting these things out, I have already spent my "free time" on the computer Google researching which companies offer the service, how much they charge, can I find any for free, etc. Then I have to test drive the one's I've chosen as possible candidates and see if they are easy to use or so complicated I can barely figure out how to set them up. I finally decide on MailChimp. I'm happy with MailChimp - it's FREE for one, and now that I know how to use it, I can whip an email out faster than I ever could before.
But I remember the days when I would work so hard making an email beautiful with carefully chosen photos, effective links so clients could quickly click to the website, and think I was ready to "send" only to realize that I hadn't downloaded my client list correctly, and instead of hitting "send" and getting out the door, I was stuck on the computer trying to figure out what I had done wrong. TIP: I have to select clients from the online booking system; download to the computer; upload to an excel spreadsheet - then remove the placeholder information the next place doesn't want like your phone number only leaving your name and email address (and correctly named for the new platform - no "email 1" here, it has to say "Email Address" or the new platform won't recognize it!); then upload to MailChimp ... THEN select list and FINALLY triple check everything is ready to go and T-H-E-N press "send". A fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon, for sure. (Not.)
So now that I have spent years battling the email platforms, I have settled in with my favorite and am ready to enlighten and entertain my viewing public.
(Yes you can start laughing now!)
NOW, we're finally at the story of the last email I sent out ... Mother's Day 2017. I worked up a very pretty "Buy your Mother a Gift Certificate for Mother's Day" email, with the obligatory pictures (which, by the way, no one will see unless they allow their email provider to "display pictures"! That has been yet another battle!).
I sent out nearly 400 emails.
"Yeah!" MailChimp says to me and gives me a "high-five" congratulations on my beautiful work!
My first response back from one of those nearly 400 customers ... "UNSUBSCRIBE".
Well, maybe she doesn't have a mother anymore.
And again: "Drats, you have another UNSUBSCRIBE."
Well, guess what folks, Mother's Day is OVER. It's Monday morning and NOT ONE PERSON BOUGHT A MOTHER'S DAY GIFT CERTIFICATE THIS YEAR!!!!!!!
I look into my MailChimp reports and it's depressing: 68 Opened; 8 people clicked the links I had set up to take them to the GC buying portal; 4 emails bounced, meaning MailChimp couldn't find the person, so the email is old or full; and lastly we have our 2 unsubscribes.
Well, MailChimp where's my "high-five" now?
So you can see that this is not as fun or effective as advertised.
After over 25-years of self-employment, where it's my responsibility and mine alone to shake the bushes and round up inactive customers, I'm TIRED. I think I will spend my mornings and Sunday afternoons playing with my animals or seeking a new course for my life.
I'd say "thanks for reading", but I know I'm probably the only one who will ever read this blog post. Good luck to the 20-somethings as they live their life online. I'll be outside enjoying the day!
Those who need to read this the most won't, while those who already are healthy will. That's how it goes, isn't it? Part one of what I assume will be lots more on this topic ....
If you've been wondering why my online booking calendar has been full for a while, I've just returned from a VEGAN CRUISE!!! "Oh, you poor dear", you say, "Did they STARVE you to death?" On the contrary, I've never eaten so much food in my life! And really good food, at that (well except for the pitiful tofu and the sad broccoli and sliced carrots that they put on top of white rice and served to us on a white plate on our "fancy dress" night). Had to skip that one and order me some shrimp! (not vegan). It was a very interesting experience and one I would like to share with you so you may benefit and perhaps learn, as I did.
For those of you who don't know, a "Vegan" is someone who doesn't eat any animals - not even honey since it comes from bees. I would prefer they change their name to "animal-free" since vegan sounds so foreign to most people. In fact, you have been eating vegan all your life, but just didn't know it! Carrot baby food ... vegan. Apples ... vegan. RUM ... vegan. (Thank goodness! I am on a cruise, after all!)
I learned about the cruise from a magazine I pick up on occasion when I'm shopping at the Good Foods Co-op: VEG NEWS. After seeing the ads time and again, one day I got a wild hair and booked it! But I thought I was getting on an ONLY vegan ship - not a partially vegan ship. I was thinking of this as a spa week - one where I wouldn't be tempted by the gelato on our Italian ship! But we had to share with "meat-eaters" on this one. I was a bit disappointed.
I also had some pretty common preconceived notions about who my fellow vegan passengers would be: the hippy-dippy crowd with their dreadlocks, tattoos, Birkenstocks and patchouli wafting through the air - or perhaps skeletons who were too frail to stand, or the "whiny-asses" who say in their whiny voices, "I can't eat that, it's not VEGAN." "Hey pal, drop that water it's not vegan - there's a gnat in it!" And I was sure to get into a fight with anyone who announced that they fed their cat a vegan diet and the cat was fine. (Yep, met one of those, too. Had to get up and leave the lecture before I punched her.)
Before I left, my friend said, "I think you will be surprised.", and I was. Of the 1700 vegans on board, there was every type of person imaginable: old ones, young ones, skinny ones, fat ones, male ones, female ones, single ones, married ones, gay ones, hippy dippy andpreppy ones; healthy looking ones and skeletal looking ones - especially in their eyes. Some were 100% vegan with no exceptions, others were in a range. Some were just in their first year or so as a vegan; while others had eaten that way for decades. Some were on the cruise to learn; and some were hoping to bring new motivation home and try to get their husbands to eat better - especially those who's husbands had already had heart attacks. Lots of vegans became vegan AFTER they had a health crisis: everything from cancer to digestive disorders to heart problems. One lady was diagnosed with cancer and was told she had only months to live - that was 30 years ago! While some were simply health conscious and wanted to learn new recipes.
We also had on board the top researchers and leaders of the vegan movement: Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Co-Author of The China Study); Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (and his wife and daughter - the former firefighter son was not on our ship, but all the family is vegan); Dr. Neal Barnard (promoting his newest book "The Cheese Trap"); Dr. Michael A. Klaper who lectured on the "leaky gut"; Dr. Michael Greger (his latest book is called, "How Not to DIE" - should sell with that title!); PBS TV chef, Christina Pirello who did some great cooking demos; and several top-level competition athletes who are vegan (and big and STRONG!): Robert Cheeke, a two-time natural bodybuilding champion; Derek Tresize (and he was "TREE SIZED"!), a World Natural Bodybuilding Federation [WNBF] Pro bodybuilder; and his wife, Marcella Torres, a mother of two vegan children, a dancer and competitive bodybuilder, who together run the website veganmuscleandfitness.comand operate a fitness gym; and a "local-ish" man from Asheville, Matt Frazier, author and ultra-marathon runner, who's athletic goals and requirements differ from the body builder's, but who keeps up his fitness and stamina with a purely vegan diet of "greens, beans, and grains" ... and fruits and seeds and nuts and other vegetables, too!
Even amongst these top leaders there was a variety in "how" to eat. All agree on not eating animals (for health reasons but also for cruelty reasons and how eating and supporting the cow industries is RUINING our lovely planet --- that is the truth. Even the world-renown chef Ferran Adrià, who began the critically acclaimed restaurant "El Bulli" said in an interview, "I'm telling you, vegetables are the future. It's simple - I love meat so much but every time we eat a steak acres of trees are cut down in Brazil. Veggies have the power to change the world." Couple that with what Albert Einstein said (who was NOT on the cruise!), "Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." and you start to understand why so many people are choosing to not eat animals. But what the lecturers differed on was whether to include salt and/or oils in your diet. Christina is Italian, so you will never pry the Extra Virgin Olive Oil out of HER hands! But the heart doctors were vehement that salt - and added oils - would KILL YOU. Then there were the Gluten-Free crowd. So, yes there are people walking this planet right now who don't eat any animal products, do not season with salt, do not cook in oil, and don't eat gluten. I met one of them and she seemed healthy and happy, and she was "over 60". The married fitness couple were in a round table discussion where they took questions from the audience and gave in minute detail how they ate down to the calories per day, the percentage of protein (around 10%), and the XXX-disciplined way in which they time their meals! So if you would like to ask one of these mega-men "But where do you get your PROTEIN?", be my guest. My guess is that they would say, "FROM PLANTS." Google it. Robert Cheeke actually documented on his website EVERYTHING he ate:
I guess it all boils down (pun intended?) that you eat the way you need to eat with whatever genetic pre-disposition or health issues you are having - or want toavoid having.
One lady, who had a heart attack that nearly killed her, went vegan-no salt-no-oil, and it saved her life! She lives near Chicago, and she would not mind at all if you contacted her: Sherry Shrallow firstname.lastname@example.org
People would ask me, "If you're not vegan, why are you on this cruise?", and my typical answer was, "Because I like FOOD." I expected the food to be healthy, and I hoped it would taste great. Wish granted! I'm not a morning person so I missed their too-early-for-me breakfast seating, but I made it for nearly all of the noon vegan 5-course lunches and the 5-course 6:00 dinners! We would have a starter: fresh guacamole with tortilla chips; or smoked shiitakes with balsamic reduction drizzle served with crispy garlic toast (gluten free and oil free version available); a soup course: rich broccoli soup with garlic and lemon; or perhaps smoky sweet potato soup; or Asian coconut curry soup with baby spinach leaves (oil-free version available); then a salad (which one would assume they would excel at): Provençal potato salad with fresh tarragon and capers; and my FAVORITE, shredded kale and citrus salad with pumpkin seed vinaigrette (ooh, wow, that was good!); then we'd move on to the main entree ... if you could find room for more ... cauliflower mushroom tacos with seasoned pinto beans; baked tempeh reuben with side salad; and FINALLY came dessert! Being a chocolate/caramel lover, for me their "sugar-free, only sweetened with maple syrup" desserts missed the mark on a number of occasions, but I did enjoy some terrific citrus-scented brown rice pudding - which I would love to eat for breakfast - and some pretty decent fruit compote/oat/nut mixtures that were good enough to swallow (and frankly speaking, um, my plate went back empty!). Tiramisu it ain't, but hey, we saved the life of a cow and her soon to be veal male offspring, and that's enough to make you be appreciative. The man who created this cruise, Sandy Pukel, also has a book of the recipes from the past 14-cruises called, "Grains and Greens on the Deep Blue Sea" (yep, you can find it on smile.amazon.com. Why smile first? It will donate .50% of your purchases to the charitable organization of your choice! I highly recommend it.) They are celebrating their 15th YEAR next year, and if you are interested, all the details can be found here:
One thing I did get angry about while on this "vegan" cruise, was that the vegans were segregated ... to the back of the bus, as it were. One could only get "vegan" food for a limited amount of time, and only in specific places. I REALLY wanted to eat at a "finer dining" restaurant onboard, called "Eataly". I think it's the same "Eataly" that the celebrity chef Mario Batali is associated with. I LOVE food and always have dining at a celebrity chef's restaurant on my "bucket list". But as I read the menu, I got sadder and sadder: meat, meat and cheese, cheese and meat. I could barely find one dish a "vegan" could eat. "WHY?" I asked myself. Why can't "vegan" food just be food? Why does it need to be segregated from the other food? Why can't I get good tasting healthy food in EVERY restaurant in the world? Why does it need to be such a struggle to get GOOD FOOD??? There is more to life than PIZZA AND BURGERS, PEOPLE! The menus on this cruise proved it.
Do I think there is a HORRIBLE IMBALANCE in how the greedy cow industry is tilting nature away from our favor and toward a place of disaster, YES I DO. One of my first thoughts after getting on board the vegan ship and talking to practicing vegans was that I see why the Earth NEEDS extreme veganism - it's to counter the extreme cow (beef/milk) industries. Do I think extreme is the right way for ME? No, I don't. I believe the middle way is the best way, but even finding your way to the middle is extremely hard in today's fast food - convenience food - JUNK FOOD - world.
It doesn't matter what city or town or dot on the map you're in, you can count on there being a "McJunk food" restaurant there. Sadly, this American trend is taking hold world-wide now. The Chinese want to be like us and WELCOME restaurants like McD's, Wendy's, Arby's - gosh the list is endless. When I went to London, England the imports that I talked to had no idea KFC stood for "Kentucky Fried Chicken", they just like the taste of the SALTY, FRIED food (and I use the term "food" as loosely as it can get). Which also means that they had no idea that the chicken they were eating were from ginormous factory farms where the chickens NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY; where the chickens HAVE THEIR BEAKS CHOPPED OFF; where the chickens are shitting all over each other ... and they are bred to be unnaturally huge, so your chicken breast at Kroger will look like a good deal. To quote our new President, "WRONG!".
I ask you to "Google" factory farmed chicken ... or cow ... or pig ... or even fish. Brace yourself, the days of our grand-parent's farm life are O.V.E.R. It's GROSS, INHUMANE, AND DOWN RIGHT WRONG.
Here's one tiny example, of zillions (and it's the "nice version" - not nearly as putrefying as the visual reality):
Thank you Tyson, Perdue, and KFC for taking what was once a life-giving family farm animal and turning it into a disgusting, immoral, profit-producing nightmare for humanity. (And I didn't need a vegan cruise to learn about this.)
The vegan body-builder mom was talking about how she breast-fed her children, and then weaned them off milk and on to water. She reminded us that no other species of mammal weans it's baby off mother's milk only to transition them to A DIFFERENT MAMMAL'S MILK. Think about it, the cow doesn't say (that is if it's given a natural life and is not on a farm where it's baby is taken away well before it's weaned), "Now little Bessie no more mamma's milk for you, it's time for you to start drinking HUMAN milk." That would be weird.
So how should most of us "normal" people eat? (I use that term since one of the non-vegans onboard used it.) The vegan just laughed it off. She said it's funny how when you tell someone you're vegan, the first thing they say is, "Oh, I could NEVER be a VEGAN." and she replies, "We're not asking you to." It's a choice for the individual to make. But it's also our responsibility as pet-owners, animal lovers, and mammals ourselves to KNOW more about what has happened to OUR food.
I won't ask any of my readers to become vegan. That's not why I went on the cruise and not what this post is about. Nor do I want to turn you off food with some of the books and websites that showcase the reality of what's going on in our nation's meat and milk industries - and it's bloody gross. But I am going to ask you to do one thing:THINK FIRST. Educate yourself. Go to the library and find some of those truth telling books. I dare you to get through one of them, I couldn't. Find some vegan blogs and learn more about eating WHOLE, GOOD, FOOD. Nutritious food. TASTY food. CRUELTY FREE FOOD.
Thankfully, the health-conscience have spoken and cow milk sales are dropping in favor of plant-based milks. Thankfully, the vegan restaurants that began life in California and NYC are finally making their way to us "normal" people. Maybe one day instead of there being a McCrap Burger on every corner, we'll have just one animal-free option???
You can turn your head to the truth about the food - and supposed 'nourishment' - you are putting into your mouth - and the mouths of your children - on a daily basis - and many choose to do just that - but I am THANKFUL that there are those who THINK first, who use their CONSCIENCE when deciding how to feed their families, and not the coupon circular. I'm grateful to those who can - and do - stay diligent and follow a strictly vegan diet. We NEED those people. Our food chain is desperately out of balance. Unnecessary cruelty is happening every day we breathe. More cow farms is not the answer to our children's future - or health.
Did I board the ship as a vegan? No. Did I disembark the ship as a vegan? No. But what I did do was realize that it's all about doing the best you can. I'm lucky in that I don't have (and don't hope to have) any life-threatening health problems. For those who are at a place of crisis, then a vegan, or even macrobiotic diet could be life saving.
I come away from this vegan cruise perhaps maybe not determined to "BE VEGAN" 100% of the time, but I come away with the strength and support to think more about how to get the best nutrients into my daily meals (all 3 to 5 of them!) and how to make some changes that can benefit my health, well-being, and happiness, as well as the gorgeous place I call home: Planet Earth.
I believe I will be writing more about this topic, so stay tuned.
BRIE CHEESE ... VEGAN BRIE CHEESE!!!
I have found a company that makes REAL brie cheese ... with ALMOND MILK ... so Nancy can indulge and not have "nose problems" the next day. I am SO HAPPY!
KITE HILL SOFT RIPENED
Soft Ripened is velvety and aged with a white, fluffy rind. It has a tangy mushroom-y flavor profile with a rich, silky texture and pungent aromatics.
Currently only found in Whole Foods (but I will work on the Co-Op to see if they can get it).
PLEASE SUPPORT THIS AMAZING MAGICAL CHEESE MAKER!
This is my second Tempur-Pedic mattress and it will be my last. I fell for the commercials - twice - and twice now the bed has not lived up to it's advertised standards.
I bought my last Tempur-Pedic August 2015, I was D.O.N.E. with it December 2016. This Goliath that is nearly impossible to move is temporarily replaced with the mattress I had on my guest bed - a cheap, old "extra-firm" mattress with a 3" foam pad over it, and a slightly quilted cotton mattress cover - while I wait for my new mattress to arrive. And I will tell you what I noticed IMMEDIATELY after one night on my latest setup: NO HIP OR LEG PAIN! NONE! It's been a few nights now, and not once have I woken up with my hands and arms ASLEEP - totally dead.
I hope my new mattress is just as good as my setup now, or even better. I'll let you know.
I was visiting a new dentist recently for a crown and she asked if I wanted to schedule a cleaning, "We recommend that if you haven't had a cleaning in the past six months, then you should get one." to which I replied, "And we recommend that you get a facial every month!"
Did you know that little fact? That facials aren't just for special days, or only when you are on vacation, or when you have a gift certificate?
Later that week, I was talking to a lady who when asked if she gets regular facials she answered, "I do those at home." I didn't want to be rude, but what I wanted to say to her was, "No, you don't. What you are doing at home with your scrub and masks is called MAINTENANCE! Unless you have professional strength products in your bathroom (and you REALLY shouldn't), and you have a steam machine, a light therapy device (which runs about $15,000!), therapeutic-grade essential oils, Vitamins & serums - then, NO, you aren't doing "facials" in your home. What you ARE doing is CORRECT and you get major bonus points for keeping up with Vantastic skin care at home, so applause for that. But just like a visit to your dentist for a professional cleaning will get - and keep - your teeth in their healthiest state possible, facials are the deep cleaning and correctives to your home care maintenance.
Maybe it's the word, facial, that needs updating? Perhaps we should rename them: Professional Skin Care Treatments. Would that get the point across better?
You know, it's been a LONG, HARD ROAD forging professional skin care in America. For the longest time we (those gals and guys who have actually gone to school for this - and keep up-to-date with continuing education - and renew their state licenses every year ...) were thought of as "snake oil salesmen" (the younger generation will have to Google that one!). And for a long time skin care was just about Ponds cold cream, and "pampering" (gosh, we pros detest that word - it really devalues all the work we put into our profession) - and I suppose to many people it's still thought of that way today.
It's hard to believe how incredibly things have changed. 25-years ago, we DIDN'T have a separate Esthetics licence - or even a massage therapy license yet. The Day Spa concept hadn't occurred, nor had Physicians realized how much more profitable hawking skin care products would be compared to the hard work of actually being a physician! No, in fact, a licensed Cosmetologist couldn't even get her foot in the door of a dermatologist's office. We were thought of as those silly girls slapping cream on people. Definitely not smart. Definitely frivolous. Definitely not worth their time or attention.
Then things changed.
The Day Spa market BLOOMED - hair salons were cleaning out their broom closets and sticking a massage table in them - all ready to become a "spa". Doctors not only saw value in selling skin care products, but even tried to push us out of our own profession - you'd believe a DOCTOR, right? He must know EVERYTHING since he went to medical school. HA! Fun fact - they don't actually study skin care, or take any product knowledge classes - ahem, they are supposed to be studying to cure DISEASES - NOT SELL SKIN CARE PRODUCTS! Incredible.
Early in my career - after my excursion to L.A. to pursue being a "Hollywood Makeup Artist", I learned about a company who was doing things the right way: they positioned themselves as "Professional Skin Care Therapists" and chose the specific channel of licensed salons to sell their products. THIS was exactly as it should be. Who else knows your skin best but the person who is actually touching your skin, and learns about it as the months progress, but your licensed skin care professional? Not a nurse, or doctor, or Cindy Crawford, or Elizabeth Arden or Estée Lauder ('cause they're dead!) - but the person who sees you every month for professional skin treatments. OF COURSE they would have the insiders knowledge to the best products for YOUR skin. They aren't trying to sell their way to the big pink Cadillac, or decided to leave their job selling cell phones in favor of the glamorous world of At-The-Mall-Big-Corporate-Skin-Care-Companies. No, they chose this profession of skin care - a mission - a calling - to HELP PEOPLE. I chose this profession to help people! You can't imagine the satisfaction gained when someone comes in to see me with a problem, be it skin care, emotional stress, you name it, and during the time we spend together things gently slide back to a healthy balance and they leave with a big smile on their face. Job well done!
So if you've never had a facial, or only think of it as a special treat, or even if you think you're doing enough on your own at home, give me a call, or email, and let's talk. Professional skin care has come such a long way from the cold cream days. It's astonishing sometimes when I delve deep into the science behind things today. Quite overwhelming at times, but so beneficial to you and your skin care needs. We really do have the tools to reduce wrinkles, improve firmness, clear acne, support a sensitive skin, and so much more! I can't promise you a quick fix, like sticking a poisonous toxin in your face might, but what I can promise is that with consistent care, you will have the best skin of your life!
Book your professional skin treatment today and experience it for yourself! I think you'll be amazed!
Goji Berry (lycium barbarum) is a rich source of skin-protecting antioxidants - contains more vitamin C than oranges and more beta-carotene than carrots!
Over 3000 years ago, the father of Chinese medicine, Shen Nong, praised the humble goji berry for it's miraculous properties. Today this delicious fruit has the highest antioxidant count of all the superfruits!
You can find goji berries in your local health food store ... and also featured in my contour treatment mask! Eat them & wear them!
I am a "professional" Google researcher, and I'm frequently googling other skin care lines just to see what's out there - since I know you are, too! Mind you, I've sold one form of product line or another since I was a wee teenager - I think even before I was of driving age, so like around 13 or so. I've either used, sold, or known everything from the Mary Kay's and NuSkin crowd, to the department store brands, to what was referred to as "Professional's Only" back in the 1990's when we actually had a profession - a time before the internet came along and watered down and destroyed everything we had worked so hard to build. (But isn't that for another blog post?) As I was "googling" the other day I came across yet ANOTHER skin care line who's claims just stopped me in my tracks!
On their beautiful website, next to the lady who looks very excited to be free of whatever ailment this product has "cured", they claim: "The secret to our dramatic results lies in this holographic energy conductor"!!!
They put a metallic silver graphic on their plastic bottle and THAT'S the reason why the product works so miraculously - not the INGREDIENTS???
I then went on to read what the actual working ingredients were and found that not only was this product "vegan and gluten free", but it was also free of NEGATIVITY!!!
I thought green-washing had hit it's limit by now, but I see I was wrong.
The marketing ploys continue.
P.S. - I don't know if there is any "negativity" in my products or not, I only know that they WORK because of the SCIENCE of skin biology & INGREDIENTS that create RESULTS!
Can I get an "OH-BOY" for that one!
Do you shop on Amazon.com? Did you know that they have a separate site which allows you to put some of your shopping dollars to work for the charity of your choice? Simply go to “Smile.Amazon.com” and choose your charity. Then .5% of your purchase goes to that charity!
The one I’ve chosen is a local charity that helps spay and neuter feral cats!
SOS :: Spay Our Strays
And for anyone who wants some Good Karma points, SOS needs helping hands! They need man (or woman) power to help place cages and then nurture for one night after spay or neuter surgery.
Don't you wish you were prepped and ready for every question that came your way? It's like in school when you got thrown off-guard and your zinger comes to you - not then - but when you're well on your way home? That sort of thing just happened today.
I had a new client who found me by Googling "best facial". So she came in with the expectation that I am an expert at treatments.
She had her expert facial and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I asked if she would like to see the products I would recommend for her. She did. Oh, did I forget to mention that she is coming from the 'natural' world ... "non-toxic" ... that sort of vibe. Well, I showed her what I thought her skin needed, including a scrub to exfoliate and help with her congestion, but she passed on it because ... wait for it ... "THERE WERE TOO MANY INGREDIENTS".
This is where I got thrown off course.
Of course it's now, several hours later that I have come up with my come-back ...
It's FOOD that should have fewer ingredients - and ones you can pronounce, not your SCRUB.
I don't mind an inquiry, but I do mind comparing my products to whatever multi-level-mayhem is currently on the market trying to compete with mine.
Where is the disconnect from treatment room to product shelf?
Wouldn't logic dictate that if I am an expert in skin care treatments wouldn't my selection of skin care products be on the same level - or higher - since this is something clients are using every day, not just once a month or during their spa treatments???
May 13, 2015
Facts to consider, please:
FROM THE ESTHETICIAN'S PERSPECTIVE:
Many of our clients are surprised when they find out that we don’t love Cetaphil. I mean, it can’t be all bad if your dermatologist recommended it, right?
Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients in the cleanser that claims to be “gentle and non-irritating.”
Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser:
So, besides WATER and THREE parabens to destroy bacteria that could grow IN THE PRODUCT (not for any bacteria on your skin) and keep it shelf stable, what's left? Some humectants and a wax for texture. The worst ingredient by far is
the sodium lauryl sulfate. SLS is a surfactant, meaning it releases oil and dirt from the skin and creates that foamy texture we love so much. The problem is that SLS can be stripping for dry skins(which may explain the inclusion of cetyl and stearyl alcohol to neutralize the stripping effects), and it can also be an irritant. Why would you include this in a product that claims to be gentle?
The SLS detergent alone is over-cleansing, but the conditioner added (which is, in fact, the first ingredient after water) leaves a film, so that on one hand the detergent can irritate, while on the other the conditioner renders the wash strangely ineffective.
Every skin needs some cleansing, even the driest, but a harsh detergent with a film-creating emollient isn't the answer.
The truth about Cetaphil is that dermatologists recommend it for two reasons. The first reason is that it doesn’t have any of the obvious irritants in it like synthetic fragrances or dyes. But the primary reason your derm may have told you to use Cetaphil is that the makers of Cetaphil ship thousands of samples to dermatologists across the land, making that recommendation easy. MDs have a big Pharma love affair with the manufacturer, Galderma, the offspring of Nestlé and L’Oréal, which also makes acne drugs like Differin!
Dermatologists know about disorders of the skin NOT about products (generally speaking of course - there could possibly be a few exceptions - I've never met any exceptions, however), and they often have neither the time or the desire to shop the shelves to figure out what cleanser is best for every skin type and concern you may have. Also, most dermatologists (especially male derms) don’t consider a cleanser’s ability to remove makeup in their recommendation.
The problem with Cetaphil from an Esthetician's point of view: we take issue with any line claiming to be gentle while using the harshest surfactant out there
[SLS]. Additionally, it does a terrible job of removing makeup If you are curious about what skin cleanser you should be using, please contact me - your State Licensed Esthetician/Cosmetologist (and Massage Therapist) with OVER 30-years in this field.
If you've noticed me getting SMARTER ... THIS is why:
This is an answer to the question "Why are there different types of hyperpigmentation (what we used to call "age spots"):
The yellow-brown pigment I was referencing is called lipofuscin, and is the result of cellular detoxification systems declining in their activity or being damaged. Our cells are equipped with their own "cleansing & detox" mechanisms whose role is to get rid of cellular waste. Some of that cellular waste represents oxidized cellular organelles such as mitochondria, for example, or other proteins and lipids within the cell that undergo damage and oxidation. Our cells utilize two main detox mechanisms - proteasomes and autophagy to dispose of these cellular oxidized mechanisms, but even proteasomes and autophagy (which employs lysosomes) slows down with age and oxidative damage. In that case, cellular waste (*AKA oxidized proteins and lipids) clog up the cell, contribute to yellow-brown pigment formation and eventually cellular senescence (cell becoming non-productive, damaging 'zombie-cells".) Addressing pigmentation today is so much more different than before, simply because we know more about what's involved and we have more at our disposal to address all of this.
We are SO FAR AWAY from Mom's Cold Cream days!!!!!!!
So, now you know why my face goes screwy when someone asks me: "Do you have anything for brown spots?" OH, if it were only that simple!
I have been seeing more and more clients who have full-face acne. When I inquire about their diets, they all say how much they LOVE milk and dairy products.
After reading about milk and acne when I was researching the vegan diet (Alicia Silverstone's book "The Kind Diet"), I sort of let that information slip by me as my diet became no longer pure vegan.
But now I'm back to reading about the link between milk and acne. I wanted to post this link as it is an easy to read and understand article about how getting dairy out of your system for several months CAN clear up your acne.
Makes sense since acne is hormonal in most cases, and milk is filled with hormones!
If you suffer from acne, or know someone who does, try the experiment and see if it helps - then write me with your results!
All Vantastic SKIN products are FREE of these controversial but still commonly used ingredients:
· sodium laurel and laureth sulfates
a very common way to bring the bubble to your gel. can strip the protective layer of the skin, causing dryness and dehydration. can exacerbate winter ‘after shower’ dryness if it’s in your bath & shower gel.
· mineral oil
controversial in that it’s been accused of clogging the skin. can come from a variety of sources - some not so purified.
· bovine-sourced ingredients
seriously, do you want pig lard on your face? I didn’t think so.
· propylene glycol
can be irritating to the skin in higher percentages.
the fat from sheep’s wool - need I say more? clogging, allergenic & potentially irritating.
· solvent alcohols
stripping and drying to the protective outer layer of the skin.
· synthetic color and synthetic fragrance
artificial colors are unnecessary and potentially dangerous. fragrance ranks as the most common cause of allergic dermatitis. can you tolerate a Yankee candle store? I cannot.
in fragrances - helps to make fragrance more soluble - Phthalates have been shown to have a negative effect on liver and kidney function as well as abnormalities in male and female reproductive systems.
is thought to be an endocrine disruptor (affecting hormones. weakly estrogenic). although parabens have been tested as safe for decades, an internet scare caused conscious chemists to reformulate. they are among the 10 most used ingredients in drugs and cosmetics (but you don’t see the drug companies touting “paraben-free”!). we are concerned about the long-term effect this quantity of parabens would have on our environment. waste water the reason you won’t find it in Vantastic SKIN is more because of the run-off into our streams, lakes, and rivers. better safe than sorry!
None of these emulsifiers because they make dry and sensitive skin more irritable:
Check the moisturizer you are using now, and see if this is why your skin is still dry.
· stearic acid, stearyl alcohol, glyceryl stearate
· NO comedogenic ingredients
meaning none of the formulas will CAUSE breakouts. remember, my job is to help heal & beautify your skin!
Below is a list of common preservatives that are allergenic, and can release formaldehyde, which itself releases toxic off-gasses, and is thought to cause cancer.
· imidazolidinyl urea
· diazolidinyl urea
· DMDM hydantoin
We don’t use any of those. Only safe & gentle preservatives are chosen to protect Vantastic SKIN products!
But I do have to admit to one thing: we test on animals - live humans! Of course, if you’ve ever met me you know I would NEVER allow animal testing. It’s barbaric, and completely unnecessary.
And, because science has now proven chronic inflammation is the bottom-line of aging (and practically everything else), we add soothing ingredients to every product - making all Vantastic SKIN products both gentle and effective!
Filtering through truth and marketing schemes is tough for me,too, and I've been at this a LONG TIME!
When it comes time to choose a product, say, like a sunscreen, if you're like me, you will read the labels just like you do in the grocery store. You "hope" what you are reading is true and trustworthy. Because if it isn't, then where do you go to find what IS true and trustworthy? Having sources you can count on is super-important, but so many groups, companies, and websites aren't reliable - even when, at first glance, it "seems" legit.
[Once I started researching for this post, it very quickly became VERY LONG. So grab a comfy seat, and a beverage, and enjoy!]
I've taken issue with the cosmetic industry's "bending the truth" for quite some time - probably starting when I was in a training session at Elizabeth Arden (I was a guest make-up artist of theirs). The lady 'teaching' the class had no professional skin care background at all - she was probably a marketing major, if that. When she passed around a new moisturizer I naturally said what I thought, "This is GREASY!", which was rebutted by her. She "corrected" me by saying, "No, dear, that's EMOLLIENT." Meaning, you don't tell the customer it's greasy, you say "emollient" - it sounds nicer and will sell more products that way. I was not impressed.
Over the years, I left the cosmetic counter and went behind the scenes of the real beauty industry - the one where we are licensed and trained by actual specialists - and held to a higher standard. During my process of learning as much as I can about how products are made, I've come across some amazing cosmetic chemists and formulators who continue to teach me the actual truth. But, I am still as susceptible as the well-meaning consumer who is doing her best to wade through the cosmetics jungle: in other words, I can still be fooled by slick marketing and scare tactics.
Case in point: EWG.org and their "Campaign for Safe Cosmetics".
While studying, I came across this message from a trusted source. He writes:
If you work in the cosmetic industry, then you should know about the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their off-shoot group the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The EWG focuses on providing information while the CFSC attempts to get legislation passed. Ostensibly, they are consumer advocacy groups who endeavor to ensure that cosmetic manufacturers produce only safe products. A laudable goal and one that all cosmetic chemists can get behind. However, cosmetic chemists, formulators and the cosmetic industry already support this goal so the cosmetic products we produce are already safe. The EWG & CFSC are unnecessary.
But I’m certain that the good folks at these groups would disagree. From their perspective cosmetics are not safe. And cosmetic chemists can not be trusted to create safe formulas. They seem to believe that there are cosmetic chemists who want to create formulas that will poison their families and cause widespread cases of cancer. They don’t think very much of cosmetic chemists or formulators.
The problems with these groups
The primary place that consumers (and beauty bloggers) find out about the EWG is through their online ingredient resource called the Skin Deep database. It’s an interesting concept and they’ve clearly put a lot of work into it. Unfortunately, it is full of misleading information & many things that are just wrong.
Skin Deep database Flaws
There are a few obvious flaws in the database that have been pointed out to the EWG but they don’t seem interested in changing them.
There is false information in the database but they don’t seem interested in fixing it. For example, they have a listing for Polyparaben. They even give it a chemical rating and call it an endocrine disruptor. Unfortunately, there is no chemical called polyparaben. It doesn’t exist. How they managed to come up with a toxicity score and links to studies about a non-existent chemical is baffling and it certainly doesn’t build faith in the reliability of their data. If they had a cosmetic chemist review the information they were putting up before entering it into the database, perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem. Clearly, they don’t. And they don’t care to fix it because this has been pointed out to them directly.
Creating a hazard score is a dubious activity anyway (since it is the dose that makes the poison) but they aren’t even consistent within their own scoring system. For example, they have listings for both Sodium Coceth Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate. Cosmetic chemists know that these compounds are essentially identical with minimal differences. But somehow the Sodium Coceth Sulfate gets a 0 hazard score, while Sodium Laureth Sulfate gets a 4 hazard. This makes no sense.
Belief not science
Perhaps the worst thing about the EWG Skin Deep database is that they are unwilling to modify their conclusions when new evidence comes to light. They base their actions on a belief and use science only when it supports what they want to believe. Since they are a politically motivated group, they are unable to accept new science which might indicate an ingredient is more safe than previously thought. There is not a single instance of them changing their stance on any cosmetic ingredient.
No courage of their convictions
But the most galling thing about the EWG is that they are hypocrites who either don’t believe what they say or are more interested in making money off people than protecting them from “dangerous” products. For example, they list a Hall of Shame for sunscreens. In it they list specific products that are typical of “…what’s wrong with the sun protection business.” Of course, this does not stop them from making money through their Amazon Affiliate program by selling those same products. For example, they list Aveeno Baby Protection Sunblock as a Hall of Shame sunscreen because it is dangerous for babies but they’ll happily take your money if you want to buy the product.
This means they either do not care that they are making money off of products that they believe are dangerous…or…they don’t believe the products are really dangerous. Either way, it’s shifty.
EWG and cosmetic chemists
If the EWG & the CFSC is to be believed, cosmetic chemists are evil people who do not care about the safety of the formulas they create. I think this is BS.
Read more at http://chemistscorner.com/3-reasons-the-ewg-is-dubious-resource/#dPVwpliSCrT5Di2P.99
EWG.org (part 2)
Still learning ...
This is from the 'Honest Company' website - even they are getting frustrated with EWG.
"We’d like to take a moment to point out what we’ve learned since the release of their latest guide.
1. It’s data aggregation – NOT product testing.
EWG’s assessment is chemical-by-chemical. They don’t take into consideration ingredient concentration or test final product formulation. Their site even has this disclaimer: “The ratings below indicate the relative level of concern posed by exposure to the ingredients in this product – not the product itself.”
Imagine if you tried using a recipe database that only assessed the flavors of individual ingredients at full strength. You wouldn’t want to eat a mouthful of salt, or raw egg, or flour, or probably any other ingredient that goes into a cupcake. But mixed in just the right amounts, baked just the right way, a cupcake is divine. That’s the magic of chemistry!
Product formulations work the same way.
For example, we use a preservative in our dish soap called methylisothiazolinone. Some people have expressed concern over this ingredient due to studies based on full-strength or high-exposure levels. In real life, exposures are quite small. In this situation, methylisothiazolinone is used at very low levels—parts per million (one part per million = one drop in a 55 gallon drum).
To give you an even deeper understanding of our use of this preservative, you should know that in 2004, the European Scientific Committee on Cosmetic Products and Non-Food Products Intended for Consumers (SCCNFP) suggested that companies limit the maximum concentration to 0.01% (100 ppm). The concentration in our dish soap is well below these standards at .00003% (just enough to battle the microbials that will eventually grow in a liquid product and cause a whole host of other health risks). Yes, concentration counts!
Another aspect of product formulation overlooked in a chemical-by-chemical assessment is the chemistry of acids and bases. Sometimes ingredients balance or neutralize one another resulting in a final product that’s safer than the individual ingredients. (We’ll get to that science lesson another day.)
2. A Catch-22 for companies.
In our efforts to help EWG better understand the safety of our formulations, as well as our efforts to better understand their methodology, we spoke with several top staff – repeatedly – at every level. Fulfilling our commitment to transparency and consumer education, we wanted to find a way to collaborate and help EWG not only assess our Honest products in a more legitimate manner, but ALL the products they rated.
The Honest Company offered to share our complete product formulations—that means 100% transparency of concentrations of each individual ingredient. This offer was received with mixed feelings from EWG. We were told that if we shared our formulation, they would be compelled to share that information with the public. We’re happy to let the world know what ingredients we use, and we even thought about disclosing the ranges of percentages, but to share the exact formulation…c’mon EWG, you know that needs to remain proprietary.
On top of this Catch-22, we were later told that even if they did see our exact formulations, they didn’t have the capacity, resources, or robust scientific understanding to fully assess them.
But, wait…if they don’t have the capacity to assess product formulations, why are they rating products?
Which leads us to perhaps the biggest problem with the endeavor. They state that the main goal of the guide is to compel transparency and a large part of the grading system is based on ingredient disclosure. But by trying to weigh how transparent a company is while trying to rate the toxicity of the ingredients used ends up creating a confusing algorithm and misleading results. It’s like trying to grade a student on a music performance and a book report simultaneously. The final grade doesn’t really tell me how the student fared on either effort in any useful way.
EWG does an impressive job of pulling a ton of information together into one searchable database. But the system is far from infallible and cannot be substituted for actual product testing. It’s a starting point for better understanding the chemicals in your products, but definitely not an ending point for understanding specific products. We’re hoping our conversations and thoughtful assessments of EWG’s guide can help them, industry, and regulators find ways improve how products are assessed and how they communicate that to the public."
I'm on a roll here!
Found a super-duper website devoted to cosmetic chemistry. I won't post all the goodies here, as this post is way long by now, but here is a quick link to get you started reading. Click all of his articles - they are fascinating!
NO NEEDLES NECESSARY!
Is there a fountain of youth? YES! Vanities Spa has one and it's poured into a bottle that you take home and drink from every day! [No, you don't actually DRINK it!] It's called:
Vantastic Skin | YOUTH SERUM
FOR :: Aging, Mature and Menopausal Skin |
Skin lacking firmness | Sun-Damaged Skin |
Dull, tired, devitalized skin | Dehydrated and flaking skin | Red, Sensitive, Rosacea-prone Skin
Re-energize your cells at their foundation and see visible results in days!
As you age, skin cells die, youthful proteins decline and moisture-holding lipids decrease.
Waiting to receive the molecular message to take the place of dying cells are reservoirs of adult stem cells hidden in microscopic niches within your skin.
Recently, scientists discovered messengers in a North Atlantic alga that reactivates dormant stem cells found in mature skin. Within days, skin is energized. Within weeks, skin appears regenerated. Contours become more defined, firmness returns, lines smooth and wrinkles are less noticeable!
Vital for life-giving hydration, aquaporins are newly discovered cell membrane proteins known to channel water into cells. Unfortunately, these water channels decline with age. Skin may be hydrated, but little water is actually delivered inside the cells. Skin looks flat, dull, lackluster. Remarkably, molecules from the Brazilian tree Piptadenia colubrina increases the presence of aquaporins up to 11 times. Within hours, a radiant plumpness is restored to cells - while signs of unwanted puffiness are minimized!
Repair the cellular blueprint
Damage to DNA increases dramatically after the age of 30. Purified enzymes from the Mediterranean Arabidopsis plant repair the most common form of DNA damage within 2 hours of exposure to these corrective enzymes. Skin begins to act younger almost instantly!
Turn on cellular enzymes
Known as the “Guardian of the Cell”, cellular enzymes called sirtuins are thought to protect against DNA damage and cell death, boost cellular antioxidant defenses and increase the lifespan of cells. Resveratrol, the powerful antioxidant and sirtuin-booster famously found in red wine, is even more potent in Japanese Knotweed. Within two weeks, skin sensitivity is reduced, elasticity improves and deeper signs of aging begin to disappear!
With age, cellular energy – the moving force of life – declines. After the age of 60 your cells have 50% less fuel to operate than at 30. Ergothioneine, the cell’s principal energizing antioxidant, restores power to cells, quenching age-producing radicals and supporting cellular activities from detoxification to the production of youthful proteins. Within days, visible redness is calmed, signs of repair are enhanced, and an even tone and clarity begin to return to skin!
YOUTH Serum contains 5-powerhouses to correct all signs of aging!
YOUTH Serum MUST be used twice a day to get the results you expect. And, trust me, you are going to LOVE the results!
Here is the point-of-view of "organic" skin care from me - a 30 years+ professional skin care veteran - who buys organic food, but does not sell organic skin care products, and why she doesn't.
Hyperpigmentation is one of the most frustrating skin conditions not only for the client, but for me to treat as well.
Currently, there is only one FDA approved "solution" and it's called "hydroquinone". The following article will explain why this "solution" isn't the greatest and that we need to look for others. (And why it's in "quotes".) PS - I am "anti" hydroquinone, and you will read why.
This was written by Dr. Diana Howard. I know her personally and can vouch for her expertise and trustworthiness in this area.
This is a LONG one, so settle back and enjoy the ride! You will feel SO SMART afterward!
Hydroquinone: Is the Cure Worse Than the Problem?
By: Diana Howard, PhD
March 27, 2009
With any aging population comes the manifestation of skin that includes not only wrinkles, but also hyperpigmentation. Along with this, consider an increased incidence of adult acne often leading to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and the newest baby-boom, which accounts for more melasma among women, and the result is an increased demand for skin-lightening products in the United States.
For many years, hydroquinone has been considered one of the most effective skin-lightening agents for treatment of sun-induced pigmentation, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, melasma and other forms of hyperpigmentation often associated with aging skin. In the United States, hydroquinone is classified as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that may be used in concentrations of up to 2%. Most prescription-strength hydroquinone formulations contain 3–4%, but concentrations as high as 10% may be available through compounding pharmacies. When prescribed by a physician, it is often combined with other actives, such as tretinoin, retinol, vitamin C or glycolic acid.
How does hydroquinone work?
There are various theories about how hydroquinone works to affect hyperpigmentation. Some researchers claim that it denatures the melanin-protein complex, causing a decoloration of the skin. Others claim it inhibits the tyrosinase enzyme, as well as the synthesis of the protein associated with melanin. Because of its cytotoxic impact on the melanocyte, it is said to disrupt basic cellular processes, including DNA and RNA synthesis. Regardless of the mechanism used to lighten skin, the focus these days should really be on the more important concerns regarding the safety of hydroquinone.
Is it safe?
There is no doubt about it, hydroquinone is an effective pigment-lightener; however, much attention is now focused on its safety. Not only is safety an issue, but concerns also stem from its designation as “an extreme sensitizer;”. Many individuals are allergic to hydroquinone, and others experience serious contact dermatitis with repeated use, leading, unfortunately, to a prescription for a steroid cream to counter the associated irritation. In extreme cases, a condition known as onchronosis can occur, resulting in blue-black macules or hyperpigmentation accompanied by acne-like lesions. Onchronosis generally requires higher concentrations of hydroquinone and is more prevalent in darker skin. However, lower concentrations may also illicit a poor response, too, which has led many dermatologists to a prescriptive cycling of hydroquinone involving using hydroquinone-containing products for four months, stopping for four months and resuming again for four months, and so on. During the off months, a hydroquinone-free brightener is recommended. At the other end of the spectrum are concerns that hydroquinone causes hypopigmentation, or white spots.
Being a metabolite of benzene, hydroquinone has potential mutagenic properties. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States claims “hydroquinone is mutagenic and has cancer-causing potential.” In 1994, the Journal of the American College of Toxicology (now known as the International Journal of Toxicology) published “The Addendum to the Final Report on the Safety Assessment of Hydroquinone.” Its conclusion stated that “hydroquinone is a potent cytotoxic agent that causes mutations and alterations to DNA, and that it should not be used in any leave-on type of product; it is safe for rinse-off products when used in concentrations less than 1%.”When this was published, many cosmetic manufacturers opted to discontinue their hydroquinone lighteners and some countries went so far as to ban hydroquinone from skin-whiteners. For example, hydroquinone is strictly regulated in many African and Asian countries, and its use is prohibited in the European Union (EU) and Japan. Unfortunately, many hydroquinone-containing whiteners remain on the market to this day. As a matter of fact, most skin-whitening serums and creams currently available contain 2% hydroquinone.
For whatever reason, hydroquinone still remains the only ingredient recognized as a “lightening agent” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and its use falls under the regulations as stated in the monograph on skin lightening, which designates hydroquinone as the sole acceptable lightening agent. This means that the use of other ingredients for treating hyperpigmentation cannot be called skin-lighteners or whiteners, so the industry has coined the term “brightener” for these nonhydroquinone alternatives. As recently as 2007, the FDA reported its intent toward banning the use of hydroquinone in nonprescription products due to safety issues, but as of yet has not implemented any new regulations. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Board has agreed to revisit the safety of hydroquinone and report back by March 2009. Perhaps the FDA is awaiting the new report before passing any new regulations or amending the monograph on lightening.
Alternatives to hydroquinone
Most of the safe alternatives to hydroquinone impact the key enzyme, tyrosinase, that mediates two key steps in melanogenesis.
Tyrosinase inhibitors. Tyrosinase inhibitors, such as hydroxycinnamic acid, gluconic acid, zinc glycinate, kojic acid, aspergillus ferment, rumex extract and ergothioneine, that chelate or bind copper. Binding the copper inhibits this reaction from occurring and controls melanin formation.
Hydroxy acids. Although the use of hydroxy acids—lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid—in skin-brightening products has generally been utilized to accelerate desquamation and removal of melanin-containing corneocytes, it has recently been shown that a 5% concentration of lactic acid will inhibit the formation of the tyrosinase enzyme, thereby slowing the process of melanin synthesis. Other exfoliating agents used in brightening products include pumpkin enzyme, sutilains (a protease enzyme), lactobacillus ferment and galactoarabian, a molecule that stimulates natural desquamation in the skin.
Controlling inflammation. Controlling inflammation is another strategy for treating hyperpigmentation. The use of anti-inflammatory agents, such as white tea, licorice and green tea, helps address the connection between inflammation and pigment formation. These extracts also may act as antioxidants, slowing many of the oxidation steps involved in melanin formation.
Melanin formation. Of particular interest are ingredients that impact melanin formation in multiple ways. An example is zinc glycinate, which stimulates synthesis of an antioxidant protein called metallothionein that binds the copper and reduces tyrosinase synthesis and activity; in addition, it suppresses melanocyte growth factors that stimulate melanin synthesis. Niacinamide has been shown to stop the transfer of melanosomes to neighboring keratinocytes. Glucosamine and dithiooctanediol stop the activation of the tyrosinase enzyme, a step that involves glycosylation, or the addition of a sugar molecule to the inactive proenzyme structure, converting it to the activated enzyme. Obviously, if the enzyme remains inactive, melanin formation ceases.
New studies indicate that melanin formation can also be controlled by affecting the signaling process involved in melanin biosynthesis. Sunscreens and anti-inflammatory agents work by turning off the messengers that signal melanin synthesis to commence. A brown seaweed called Ascophyllum nodosum has been shown to inhibit endothelin-1 (ET-1), a molecule synthesized and released from the keratinocytes after UV exposure. ET-1 stimulates the melanocyte and triggers tyrosinase activity. When the signal molecule ET-1 is inhibited, melanin formation is likewise inhibited. In a similar role, the use of Palmaria palmata, a red algae, has been shown to inhibit the release of stem cell factor (SCF), another signaling molecule released by keratinocytes upon exposure to UVB radiation; SCF activates the melanocyte to make melanin. Palmaria palmata inhibits the release of SCF and therefore inhibits melanocyte activation.
In the past decade, ascorbic acid (vitamin C) has been used to control melanin synthesis. Newer stabilized derivatives of vitamin C include magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP), ascorbyl glucoside andtetrahexyldecyl ascorbate. These derivatives scavenge free radicals that cause erratic melanocyte activity, as well as act as antioxidants inhibiting oxidation steps along the biosynthetic pathway of melanin. They have also been shown to inhibit tyrosinase synthesis and activity.
Finally, the newest and perhaps most exciting agents to fight melanin formation are the peptides. Oligopeptide-34 is a state-of-the-art synthesized peptide that has been shown to decrease alpha-MSH activity and inhibit tyrosinase activity. Although the mechanism is not clearly understood, results indicate that it brightens skin, especially sun-induced hyperpigmentation, in half the time when compared to other brightening complexes. The use of peptides, such as oligopeptide-34 to control pigmentation, may very well be the newest and most effective approach to treating hyperpigmentation. And if safety studies are a good indicator, they are a lot safer for the end user.
Dealing with issues of pigmentation will undoubtedly continue to be a focus in the skin care arena, and there is certainly no shortage of products designed to address these issues. But the most important question is: Which are effective and safe to use? Although hydroquinone continues to be the only authorized OTC whitening agent in the United States, there are numerous studies that question its safety, which accounts for its being banned in most countries throughout the world. Fortunately, the pressure remains on pharmaceutical houses, cosmetic companies and even raw material suppliers to find safe and legal alternatives to hydroquinone. This past decade has seen a myriad of new brightening agents, all promising to reduce hyperpigmentation while enhancing skin luminosity and, although most have fallen short of hydroquinone’s ability to whiten skin, new cocktails of brighteners are now available that are close in performance and a lot safer to use.
~Told you, you'd be smarter by the end of this! (Yes, this is what I do for FUN!)
Now, what does Vanities Spa do to help her clients with hyperpigmentation?
I recommend a weekly series of LED facials, along with a specific home care regimen - AND DAILY SPF 30 USE - which will not only lighten your spots, but clarify your skin leaving it clearer, firmer, and healthier! And we ALL want that!
See you in the spa!
It seems like I am always searching for the best ways to eat so I can then share that information with the people I meet with a health crisis.
Today, I am on the blog, "Mark's Daily Apple". He is a "Primal" eater. (You'll have to do your own Googling on that one!). His site has TONS of information, and contrary to some blogs, his data actually seems to be researched and factual!
How you choose to eat is entirely up to you, but have a look at this page about inflammatory foods. I am more than convinced that MOST of our health issues are a result of eating poorly. And, I have many more posts on that very subject ... have a look.
Grab yourself some blueberries and enjoy a good read!
This is a story that will make you think twice about who does your nails.
My Beauty Salon Inspector told me of a nail salon who, instead of having Barbicide (that funny blue-green liquid required to sanitize implements), she inspected a nail salon that thought they could pass off MIRACLE GROW as sterilizer!!! (Same color - but does NOT kill fungus, hepatitis, and all the nasties you can get from FEET!)
This is SO SCARY. There are so many frightening things crawling around in the world, MRSA being one of the scariest ... well, along with Hep-C, or AIDS, too many to count really.
If you are having nail services, P-L-E-A-S-E triple-check that the person is legitimately licensed, AND that they properly STERILIZE all of their implements BEFORE touching YOU!
Implements need to soak in that blue liquid (NOT miracle grow!) for at least 10-minutes to kill all the nasties.
On another point of contention, can someone please tell me how the 'nail girls' are getting their license when they can't even speak English??? I'm really beginning to doubt the system. What are the schools teaching, and how are these people getting licensed in the first place?
That leads me to another point, those chair massage guys in the mall ... they also don't speak a word of English, and I've never seen a massage therapy license hanging anywhere near their space.
What's going on? How are these people allowed to do what I am not? I have to take HOURS of continuing education and pay to renew my licenses in order to practice both cosmetology and massage. And knowing how hard Dr. Eric's class in anatomy is, there is NO WAY someone without a solid grasp of our language could pass his tests.
"LAKANTO" - All natural & Non-GMO
I'm also happy with:
"Coconut Secret" Raw Coconut Crystals - a low glycemic sugar alternative.
"Jarrow Formulas" Xyli Pure Xylitol - ideal for sugar-free and low carb diets
And this isn't low glycemic, but I like it as an alternative to white sugar - I am under the impression that it is less processed (hope I'm right!) "Wholesome Sweeteners" Raw Cane Sugar - from Malawi.
I was a huge fan of their agave syrup, but after more internet reading, it seems that it's high in fructose, and apparently too much fructose is also bad for you. (This search gets very frustrating sometimes.)
Dr. Eric is my friend from Louisville. He is a brilliant chiropractor and teaches anatomy and physiology at the Louisville School of Massage.
I call him "The Encyclopedia". If there is ANYTHING you want to know about the body, he's the guy to ask. But be ready for a 20-minute lecture on the subject! ;-)
According to Dr. E, this works best when you're first coming down with flu!
Go to any health food store and get Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy by Boiron/Bourneman for flu. Take a whole vial 30 minutes before or after eating. Then 4x per day, just fill the small cap on one vial and take that.
Also, get some grapefruit seed extract--"GSE" (he recommends the Nutribiotic brand) and take 30 drops in juice 4x per day. The stuff is really, really bitter, but you don't taste it so much in grapefruit or orange juice. You can take it with or without food.
You will be over the flu in 2 days at the most! Also be sure to drink loads of water, like 3 quarts per day.
GSE is antimicrobial...it will kill viruses, bacteria and fungi. You can put 100 drops in a spray bottle with water to sanitize countertops, etc. Unless you take cholesterol lowering medication, it is perfectly safe to take at all ages - even infants!
[Dr. Eric "The Encyclopedia" Epstein: 1.502.894.0804 ... He knows A LOT!]
UPDATE JULY 2016
In addition to the following, I have now found what I thought I wanted to create myself: feed cats MICE! LUCKILY, we don’t have to buy mice (which I did ONCE as an experiment and will NEVER do again … it’s just TOO GROSS!). Now a very bright lady has created a POWDER that when mixed with raw meat has the same nutritional profile as a whole mouse!
Her website is FILLED with great information. http://tcfeline.com/
You can purchase her products here: http://www.thetotalcat.com/
(I don't make any money when you buy from these sites - I just like to pass on what I've learned.)
MY ORIGINAL POST – 3/9/2012
As many of you know, I am a "cat person". Bon-a-fide! And as steward to many cats, over the years, I have studied and researched how to feed them so they, A.) don't puke it up all over the carpet, and B.) feel good, look good, and live healthy happy long lives.
One thing struck me as I was delving into how "I" should eat, "If the factory farms are doing such intensely gross and cruel things to the food they see as fit for humans, what on Earth are they doing to the food they chuck at the pets in our family?". And it dawned on me, perhaps I shouldn't feed my cats the stuff scrapped off the slaughterhouse floor.
My internet researching began and I found a very good site that explains why cats SHOULDN'T eat dry food. http://www.catinfo.org/
I switched them to canned. I've played around with different brands, some organic ones that I found at Good Foods Co-op and Whole Foods, and have currently settled on a canned cat food that isn't organic, but does list meat as it's primary ingredient. It's called "Before Grain". I order it from pet food direct.
So, if you are steward to the care of kitties in your home, please give careful consideration to what they eat. MEAT must be their primary food source. Avoid the hype of the current marketing trend of selling cat food to humans as if they needed things like potatoes in their diet. They don't.
I've found some very good brands of canned cat food that I could recommend such as "Newman's Own", and "Organix", and the one I'm feeding now, "Before Grain".
I choose chicken as their protein because it is easier to digest. You can also supplement their diet with a chicken I found at Meijer, "Smart Chicken" - http://www.smartchicken.com. Also "Bell and Evans", found at Whole Foods - http://www.bellandevans.com.
Some people say feed real chicken to them raw, I prefer to cook it a little. But feeding this way avoids the salt that canned chicken contains. I have also taken an organic canned chicken and rinsed it several times - even soaking the salt out, then fed that to them - or mixed it into their canned food. It's a special treat for my cuddly family.
When I first started writing blogs, I mentioned that I would keep it on the subjects of skin and spa and would keep my other interests, like preventing animal cruelty, to a minimum.
But now as I again read about how to eat and where our food really comes from, I think it's only right to talk about that here. The spa is your place of health and well-being first and foremost, and the fastest way to optimal health lies in what we put INTO our bodies, as well as how we treat the exterior. I've always been interested in health, good eating, and choosing the best that I can when I shop (given what I know at the time).
Join my new food adventures blog: http://mainlygreens.blogspot.com/
This most recent journey began when I was bored with food and needed some inspiration. I picked up Alicia Silverstone's book, "The Kind Diet" from the library and fell in love with it. She is a vegan - a person who doesn't eat anything animal ... including honey. She actually lives a vegan lifestyle and won't buy leather goods, and does her best to live consciously. I didn't know if I could be vegan or not, since I LOVE my cheese and ice cream, but I needed a new adventure and some new ideas. So, as of this post, I am giving it a try.
Being "nearly vegetarian" already, this wasn't too tough. I needed a milk replacement for my morning coffee and found Silk Almond Milk to work just fine (the unsweetened version). I had already been down that road looking for the healthiest milk since I knew what they did to the average milk (added hormones, antibiotics, etc.). I first chose organic low fat milk and thought I was doing a good thing. Then I read that cows need to be fed grass, not grain, so I searched for a grass-fed cow milk and found one at Meijer. After reading her book she taught me one more thing. The protein in milk, casein, isn't so good for us humans. THIS could very well be the cause of my now year-long runny nose. So I found my milk replacement, and found some delicious (but in no way low cal) ice creams that are dairy-free. One is called "Purely Decadent" and it IS! Rice Dream is also very good, as is the one made with almonds. Watch the sugar in those, though.
I went back to the library to continue this path. I was familiar with the work of PETA and had known what atrocities occur in the American production of food, but as we do, I let it slip from my mind --- or succumbed to the onslaught of commercials and didn't give the truth much thought. WELL, these books brought it all back to me. "Eating Animals" nearly made me throw up. I don't even want to tell you what they do, but I would encourage you to read the book and see for yourself. It's GROSS. And beyond that, we wouldn't treat the worst criminals the way these guys working in slaughterhouses treat those animals: cows, pigs, and chickens. One guy said he "liked to stomp on the chickens to HEAR THEM POP"!!! (Yep, I still want to puke.)
So, what can we do? We can STOP. Stop eating animals. Or stop buying from the people who treat the animals in that way, and take your money elsewhere. I found TWO suppliers of chicken who let the animals have grass to play on, they don't cut their beaks or keep them in cages so tight they can't strech their wings, and when it's time to die, they do that as humanely as we know how right now.
If you must eat beef, go to a local producer and learn their process. Who slaughters the animal? How horrific is it? You want to eat healthy by choosing cow that was grass fed and allowed to pasture, but you don't want it viciously murdered right before you dig in.
So what SHOULD we eat? First, throw out every chart and diet book you've ever bought, because this is so simple, we have overlooked it. EAT REAL FOOD --- ORGANIC FOOD --- WHOLE FOOD. Apples? Yes. Arby's Roast Beef? No. Oatmeal? Yes. McMuffin? No.
If you avoid the processed foods, you are ten steps ahead of the game. Eat food that is as close to it's natural state as possible.
In my week of exploration I have eaten better than ever! Warm oatmeal for breakfast, with some almond milk and a sweetener (I'm trying several). Lunch at work was an apple with real peanut butter (just peanuts, no salt, sugar, or other additives). Dinner has been a yummy rice blend with mushrooms, chard, and garlic! THAT was so good I could feel my cells rejoicing!
I have also chosen to go wheat-free since I am trying to reduce any allergens and get my nose in shape. So I choose a gluten-free bread. UDI's is so good. (Not technically vegan, since it's made with eggs.)
What else? Beans, lots of greens and vegetables, and of course, at night when I need a little comfort, those non-dairy ice creams are wonderful.
I'm going to do my best to eat as many vegan meals as possible. But what about eggs? Even if you don't fry them up in the morning, aren't they very useful to cook with? So I will deviate from the 110% vegans and allow eggs ... BUT, they must be PASTURED eggs. Happy chickens living a normal chicken life.
I do a lot of shopping at Whole Foods and The Good Foods Co-op, but the larger grocers are stocking more and more organic items. But be careful you don't fall into the processed food trap. Stick to the foods that are least processed. And if you find a great supplier worthy of our dollars, tell Krogers to stock their items!
www.smartchicken.com - at Meijer
The Kind Diet
Happy Chickens. Healthy Family.
Please Think About Your Food.