Thursday, March 20, 2014

Labels and What Do They Really Mean?

Once upon a time, in a land where rivers flow with perfectly formulated foundations, the sky the beautiful colors of Chanel's Fascination Eye Shadow Quad and the sea as aqua green as MAC's Aquadisiac, there was a decision made by the land's rulers to make labels so all the sensitive skinned Goddesses and the acne prone kittens would know what luxurious lotions and potions could be placed upon their skin. So the rulers requested that the sweet smelling lotions and flower hued blushes that were created in this magical land be labeled hypoallergenic or noncomedogenic to guide the afflicted in their beauty quest. However, the rulers also decided they were not going to keep an eye on the ingredients that went into these specifically labeled goodies and pretty much turned a blind eye. And then a gorgeous (smart, honest and funny too!) Goddess showed up to school the masses so they can truly be informed!

That's right peeps, while I am on a label bender, I figured I should give you a quick lesson about the labels that are placed on some products and what they really mean. I am here to bust up your fairy tale, while educating you in the process. 

Some of you have probably noticed when you are shopping for products, they are sometimes labeled Hypoallergenic, Noncomedogenic, Natural or Organic. Here is a quick lesson on all 4. 

Hypoallergenic: Basically means that the product should cause less allergic reactions than other products. There is no standard as to what makes a product hypoallergenic. The label "hypoallergenic" is not regulated by the FDA (or anyone for that matter) and the manufacturers do not have to test any ingredients to prove they will not cause an allergic reaction. It is impossible to know if a product is going to cause a reaction so your best bet is to do your own skin patch test to determine if it's good for your skin. 

Noncomedogenic: means that the product will not clog pores. Again, another term that is not regulated. I feel the best way to determine if something is going to break you out is to become familiar with ingredients that do not agree with your skin. Even though  a company may be using products that are truly noncomedogenic, it is still best to rely on your judgement of what works and doesn't work for your skin, than relying on a label that is not regulated.

Natural: This one is my favorite. First, natural is not always better. Lavender is natural, lemon is natural, both can be very irritating on your skin. Natural means the ingredients are derived from natural sources with no synthetic compounds. Guess what? Natural is NOT REGULATED! Again, read the ingredients and run for the hills if there is lavender or feverfew or any other naturally irritating crap involved. I had read somewhere that a company can call their product natural if there is a certain percentage of natural ingredients in it. Spit is natural. Can I spit in my foundation and call it natural regardless of any other ingredients? Doesn't matter because no one is watching. 

Finally, Organic: Again, organic is not regulated. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and ECOCERT has a system that regulates organic plant claims. If you can meet their very strict standards you can put their USDA Organic label on your product. There are a whole bunch of other private companies that will certify your product organic, however they all have different standards for what they consider organic. So what is truly organic? Who's standards are correct? From what I've read, they will also certify you for the right price. Shocking. 

Ok so that should do it for my label ranting lately and I will be back next week with some new products for you to read about :-)
I'm also on the hunt again for a new foundation. Again. It will be a never ending quest.   

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Ingredients List-Where Did All the Ingredients Go?

I think I have established that I am an ingredients reader. Besides reading the ingredients in my skin care, I also read the ingredients in the foods I am going to eat (it takes me an hour to get through the bread section with all the toxins I avoid). Funny enough, I very rarely read the ingredients on my color cosmetics. I don't know why I choose to ignore the cosmetic ingredients but I am a little obsessive about reading my skincare ingredients list. I, by no means, claim to understand every ingredient included in these list. I am mostly reading them to avoid the ones that may be harmful or just do not work for me. I will research the whole list if the mood strikes me. 

This leads me to how misleading the cosmetics industry can be with their marketing. With all the photoshopping and false claims, I already do not trust a word they say. Something that really gets my goat, is when a company seems to be hiding something, such as their ingredients list. Some companies only list partial ingredients list. What is the deal people, list it all-what is all the secrecy. 

Let's discuss the information in an ingredients list. First, there are Active Ingredients. Active Ingredients are ingredients that must adhere to specific regulations mandated by the FDA. They must be listed first and must be approved by the FDA. Inactive Ingredients are the ingredients that are not regulated by the FDA, they are listed by quantity. The more of it, the higher it is on the ingredients list. This is where you will find the unregulated fillers in a product. 

I decided to write this post due to an email that I had recently received from Aveda. I have been in the market for a new toner and a serum. I was looking through Aveda's website and naturally wanted to research the ingredients. Imagine my surprise when I clicked on the ingredients list and 1 ingredient showed up. I thought the site was broken. Let me repeat, 1 ingredient and they seemed to highlight the ingredient that seemed natural, such as jojoba or lavender (which can be quite irritating in skincare products). Their tag line is "the art and science of pure flower and plant essences" so of course they would list a plant. 

So I decided to ask them where the rest of their ingredients are, this was their response:

Hello Jessica:

Thank you for your inquiry to Aveda Online. My name is Alicia and I am happy to assist you today!  I understand that you are looking for a full list of ingredients on our products. Regrettably, this information is not listed on our website as we want to ensure our guests are getting the most up-to-date ingredient information. This is housed with our corporate Consumer Team and they would be happy to provide you a detailed list on any of our products. This team is the true ingredient experts!

Is there a specific product you are inquiring about? I  would be happy to forward that information to our Consumer Team and they can respond to you directly with a list. This team can also be reached at: 1.800.328.0849 M-F between 8am-5:00pm Central Standard Time or via email at

Have a great day!
For a greener planet,

Aveda Online Advisor

I smell bullshit. I have no idea why they would not just post the damn list but I am sure not everyone would go through the trouble of emailing them to see it and I am guessing they are banking on that. Also, from what I have read, the FDA does not double check these list so I am sure some companies are not including ALL of their ingredients on their labels so what does it matter because we may never know what we are actually putting on our skin. There is no one watching so again, as I have said many times in this blog, research as much as you possibly can. 


This was my response to Alica from Aveda:
Hi Alicia,

Thank you for your timely response. I have been in the market for a good serum, as well as a toner. 
I am an ingredient reader, as I like to know what I am putting on my face. Your company's policy of not including the full ingredient list on their website makes it quite inconvenient for your customers to be well informed. I really do not have the time to make a list of all of your products I am interested in, email them to you and then have to wait for a response. Because of this, I will not be purchasing your products. I hope your corporate office reconsiders their policy. Seriously, how often are they changing the formulations that the information would not be able to be kept up to date? It sounds like an excuse to me.

Thank you so much for your time,

Jessica Savino

You will never know if you do not ask questions. It doesn't mean you are going to get the answers you expect but you should still question everything! 

So I received another response from Aveda. We are going to have to agree to disagree. A lot of people purchase online. If Aveda is ok with inconveniencing their online customers, who am I to argue? Here is Aveda's response:

Dear Jessica,

Thank you for taking the time to contact Aveda Consumer Relations.

We are happy to clarify your concern regarding our website not displaying full ingredient listings. Primarily, our website is a marketing tool which we highlight organic ingredients and key aromas. We do not disclose of the full ingredients as they are already listed on the packaging. 

Additionally, as Aveda is committed to providing our customers with the best in products and services, we continually strive to improve ingredients offered in our formulations.  Ingredient listings on the website may not reflect the most current ingredients in a formulation.  It is always recommended to use the ingredient listing on the package that will reflect the formulation found within.

At Aveda, we are committed to providing our customers with the best in products and services.  Please be assured your comments will be forwarded to our executives so that they may be taken into consideration during future planning.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns.

We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. We hope you will continue to look to Aveda with confidence and satisfaction for all of your beauty care needs. Should you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know. We invite you to contact our Consumer Relations team at800.328.0849 between 8am-5:30pm Central Standard Time to speak with a Customer Service Representative.

For a greener planet,

Tricia C
Aveda Consumer Experience Representative

Click here if you are interested in learning about Aveda's products or questioning them about their ingredients policy.
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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spoiler Alert- March Birchbox

Another month, another Birchbox. Lately, I am feeling as if me and Birchbox are having a bad romance. I am so addicted to it but have not been happy in quite a few months. Maybe I am setting my expectations too high, maybe I should reevaluate what I expect from a $10 per month subscription box. My loyalty to Birchbox is strong, however I know there are other monthly subscriptions available, maybe I will start looking into those. 

What makes a great Birchbox for me is a fabulous makeup product from a company I've been dying to try, or from a company I've never heard of, plus a nice skin care product. That makes me a happy Goddess. The rest is just filler. I feel like I'm mostly getting filler lately. Birchbox, where are my concealers, eyeliners, foundations and lipglosses? These boxes were very makeup heavy when I first subscribed and now they are trying to include a little bit of everything to make everyone happy. Stop that shit and just make me happy!

So this month's box included a Coola Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face (full size $36). I feel like I receive a lot of Coola samples and I am always confusing them with Goop. This product is ok, I always like trying new SPF. The fact that it is tinted makes no difference to me, as I will most likely apply foundation over it. 

Next up DDF Ultra-Lite Oil-Free Moisturizing Dew (full size $42) This is ok as well. It's a very light, oil free moisturizer that has a gel like consistency. I would be excited about this if it weren't for the multiple parabans included in the ingredients. The parabans always ruin the party for me. If parabans are not a concern for you, then maybe you may want to look into this. 

I also received a Gilchrist and Soames London Collection Body Lotion (full size $16) I have not used this yet and generally do not get excited about body lotion unless it smells tropical like mangoes or coconuts. I do love the Brits and this sounds so English so that's a plus. If this is very perfume-y, I will hate it no matter how British it is. 

Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment + Restorative Hair Treatment Plus (full size $33) Basically two hair restorative treatments, just like the name suggest. I seem to receive a ton of hair samples from BB. 

Lastly, English Laundry No.7 for Her (full size $90) No interest. I have no idea what it smells like or even care that it has the word "English" in the name, it is most likely going into the trash. 

Oh they also included an additional gift of Ghirardelli  Cherry Tango Square-dark chocolate and cherry. Hell yeah! I always appreciate chocolate!

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