Five face creams as a base, then a couple layers of make-up…

A couple weeks ago I dragged my sister-in-law to the Lancome counter at Nordstrom in downtown Seattle. I had scheduled it about a month before when I had let myself be dragged from the main aisle to the Lancome counter, where an exuberant woman put make-up on my face and invited me to pay $15 to sign up for when their world-class make-up artist was going to be doing faces in a special event at the store. I was spending $60 of Nordstrom notes (ie. free money), so I didn’t think anything of the sign-up price and loved the little baggie of freebies.

It turns out the artists that did our faces only had the vaguest of supervision by the well-known artist (whose name escapes me, so he’s well-known somewhere, right?) It started with me telling them my skin-problems and ended with being coated with five different face creams and ointments, a “light” coverage of make-up (which was heavier than my daily make-up), and in the end, being asked if I wanted to put on more. There was some hard-selling involved, and my $15 credit towards the purchase of some of the products didn’t go very far when a lip gloss costs $25 by itself. I walked out with paying more than I wanted to spend for product that I only kinda wanted.

I realized a couple weeks ago that I’ve done this before, and actually left with a little more satisfaction than I walked out with at Lancome. My previous experience was at a chic little boutique in Wicker Park, Chicago that had Sue Devitt cosmetics. Unlike the zoo that was Nordstrom, this was a bit more sedate and felt a little less frantic. The artist didn’t quite give me exactly what I wanted as far as the make-up job, and my $30 sitting fee that was credited to purchase didn’t go far either, but I did end up walking out with a few products that I still feel are the best eyeliners I’ve ever had. I just wish I could find them so easily in Seattle!

I can’t say I’m so impressed with Lancome, though I do love their mascaras. (Though seriously, vibrating mascara? That’s just silly.)

So remember, when they ask you if you want to sign up for a low price for 30-60 min of make-over fun – say no, unless you want to spend at least $50 on stuff you probably don’t need. I found myself overwhelmed just with the face wash and cream regimen. It may promise eternally youthful skin, but at a cost of 15 extra minutes per morning that I could spend, I don’t know, blogging about face creams. 🙂 It’s also a good time to remember – youthful looking skin won’t help you cheat death. It won’t stop a car from crashing into you or prevent cancer (not even with a high SPF). I’m going to work on learning to love this long line stretching across my forehead. Now to work on loving my grey hairs.

Update on a Consumer Post from Last Year

Back in December I posted about three products that I had issues with, and had contacted those responsible. I thought I would update on those items.

First, and most disappointing – Evan Healy. I had purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit from Whole Foods Market in White Plains, NY. The stuff is NOT easy to find on the shelves in Seattle! I had loved it before, and I loved it shortly after I bought it. That was, until, I discovered mold growing in the bottle of Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk. I promptly contacted the company, using the info available on the website. I never heard anything back. Such a shame, too. I was willing to spend the $24.95 for a 4oz bottle of a mostly, if not all, natural face cleanser. Not any more. Customer service means a lot, and I didn’t get any from Evan Healy.

What have I done to replace this? I’ve been using the old stand-by of Clinique Face Soap for Oily Skin . It seems to last forever, and though some will warn about using soap on your face, I find it works quite well for me. For moisture, I’ve been using Aveda All Sensitive Moisturizer.

Second – Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. They’re a regional, vegan, frozen dessert company, and make some delicious stuff. However, on three occasions of buying the Cherry Amaretto, the pint was sometimes as much as a quarter cup empty! It was like the machine that filled it crapped out at the last bit. I let them know what happened, and received a perfectly pleasant email in return, apologizing and offering a gift certificate for my next pint. The certificate never arrived, and I haven’t heard anything since. Thankfully, I’ve found some coconutty alternatives, though not local. So sad!

What have I done to replace this? Purely Decadent Mint Chip is pretty awesome.

Third – the big biz, Marie Claire. I love my trashy women’s fashion mags. I really do. Marie Claire is one of the better ones, in my opinion. However, they failed to deliver my last two issues on time, and only gave me my second to last issue after the next issue was due. No word on what happened with my final issue, and I was so ticked off I didn’t bother renewing. Well, the economy must be hitting them (or something) because I got a mailing from them last week promising two years for less than the discounted cost of one year. Seriously, it’s stupidly cheap and worth my while since it’s the cost of three magazines in an airport for two years worth. I’m still debating signing up, though. It’s a lot of dead trees.

What have I done about this? Well, I attempted to re-up my subscription online, but that didn’t go so well. I have to wait a week to deal with the problems with them due to the time it takes to get it in the system, so – we’ll see. Allegedly, I’ve got issues waiting for me, they just need a good address (I guess my current one was “undeliverable” for some reason. Oh well… we’ll find out soon enough, right?

See previously: Today in Spending.

Today in Spending

A few posts back I talked about how much time and money I spent longing for my favorite face cleanser, the false economy of trying to find suitable replacements, and my new vow to just buy the stuff online when I run out.

Well, now it appears I might still be searching for something else I like as much.

mold in my cleanserYou see, I was towards the end of my little trial sized bottle of Evan Healy’s Blue face cleanser (from the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit), and just days away from ordering more, when I saw on the white cleanser a growth of green mold. I did a double and triple take. Yes, green mold. Growing like a little forest on a blanket of snow.

I’m familiar with this kind of thing happening with natural skin and hair care products. When I worked at Whole Foods Market in the Whole Body Department, we were allowed to basically open any product up for a customer as a “tester” if one didn’t already exist. With some of the products, we did this just so the customer could sniff the product, as that the product had a foil seal for freshness. Those that were left open as testers, sitting on the shelves, would sometimes get a little funky, to say the least.

Natural things degrade, whereas the petro-chemical and other synthetically produced products don’t have to worry about natural oils going rancid, or mold growth because the natural preservatives didn’t do their job. I realize that this is a hazard of natural products, and I can’t fault Evan Healy totally for it, as that expecting a natural thing to NOT degrade is ridiculous. However, I now have product that I’m not going to use, and I’m not sure I want to invest what would be around $100 for the entire cleansing/moisturizing set for a larger bottle of something I know can grow mold.

I sent an email to their customer service night before last, and I hope to hear back from them on what they can offer for piece of mind. I’ve gotten into the habit of letting especially smaller companies know when something unsatisfactory has happened with their product, especially because 1) I like the product and 2) want it to succeed.

Two cases so far have at least gotten a response. The first was from Clear Creek Distillery based in Portland, OR. One of the corks from one of their fine, distilled spirits had broken when we tried to initially open it. I wrote them, and they promptly responded, sending us two corks in the mail. The second was Coconut Bliss, a vegan, coconut based frozen desert also made in Oregon. I emailed them about one of their cartons being only 3/4 full upon purchase. They apologized, and promised a gift certificate for another pint. That never showed up, unfortunately. Also, it happened two times after that, with the same flavor (Cherry Amaretto). The other flavors that Jon picked up at the same time were fine. To say the least, I was disappointed.

Here’s hoping I’ll get a response. Also, Marie Claire, I’m waiting for my missing issues, kthxbai.

See previously: Personal Economy

Personal Economy: Buy what you want/need, don’t buy it if you don’t like it.

Throughout my life I’ve gone through being a minimalist as far as the standard beauty products, and paying the mid-range, aspirational prices of department store counters. I’ve never been able to successfully toss aside my chains of oppression by the fashion and beauty industries, and my feelings between guilt and celebration have waxed and waned.

Oh boy, but now I’m looking at 31, and I’ve got a deep line across my forehead. I started a little mini-panic when I realized it wasn’t going away. I instantly thought, maybe I can get a cream that will arrest it, or make it go away – and maybe I wouldn’t have to spend $50 to do it! I saw a lot of reviews and a lot of promises, and I came to the conclusion that none of the claims could be trusted, and I couldn’t stomach $50+ for a face cream that wouldn’t ultimately do what I want it to do, which is permanently stop my face from creasing.

So what do I do? When I was in a Whole Foods in White Plains, NY, I found that they had my, to this point, most favorite face cleanser and cream ever. Why have I not been using it? Because I first bought it at a small store in Chicago, and couldn’t find it locally in Seattle. I thought to myself – it IS pricey, and couldn’t I find an alternative that was just as good? The answer, after about 3 years, was no. I purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit, and have been happy ever since. Even Dr. Hauschka, which makes holistic skin care in the same vein as Evan Healy, doesn’t have all that I love about Evan Healy’s products.

The lesson learned is that, in the time I’ve played with all these other products (and used up most of them), the product I’ve been most enthusiastic about is one I could have bought online, and likely saved more time and money just by doing so than trying to find less expensive alternatives.

Evan Healy’s products don’t promise to do anything special, other than clean the skin, not strip it too much of the oils you need, and that it be allowed to breathe. It doesn’t promise to make these deep creases go away, but maybe they don’t need to. And maybe I go back to purchasing my favorite make up, Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals, which I keep going back to after trying cheaper or more flashy options.

None of these things are what I need – but it is just something I want and makes me feel good. The less I spend on other crap I truly don’t need, the better – esp. if that means I’m not trying out the new best thing and deciding I’m hating it.

Toner, part 2

A couple of weeks after I swore off purchasing toner, and a week after I ran out of my trusty Aveda toner, my skin broke out. Was it the cause of no-toning? I highly doubt this, and instead attribute it to a hormonal flux. However, my skin felt greasy and unhappy, and going for the emotional need vs. physical need, I bought Earth Science Clarifying Herbal Astringent. I chose this toner after looking at a whole host of options, with price being a concern, and recognition of ingredients being the other. Drug store options were right out (aside from the standard Witch Hazel, which is available not in the cosmetic section, but in first aid.) I ended up going into PCC (a local food coop) and looking at the familiar bottles of “natural” potions. I wanted to avoid alcohol in my toner/astringent, so that put some of the more natural of the natural right out. I remembered liking Earth Science in the past, and I found it included vinegar, which a previous commenter had recommended. I was sold with these ingredients:

Purified Water, Witch Hazel Extract, Glycerin (vegetable), Apple Cider Vinegar, Sage Extract, Rosemary Extract, Horsetail Extract, Cucumber Extract, Sea Kelp Extract, Peppermint Extract, Panthenol, Sulfur, Camphor, Sodium PCA, Zinc Sulfate. Sorbic Acid, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Allantoin, Hyaluronic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Fragrance, Cellulose Gum, Annatto Extract.

I find the toner to be refreshing – which is just NICE sometimes. Also, it doesn’t seem to have done my skin any harm, which is also a plus.

In my brief Google searches, I haven’t found where Earth Sciences (or it’s parent, Earth Essentials, Inc) come from, other than perhaps California. Perhaps it is in the same category as Kiss My Face — relatively harmless face and body care, small company, American based, etc. I’ll continue to look.