Yet Another Ingredient to Worry About

Triclosan.  I’d heard of it, mostly from products advertising that they DON’T contain it, but I hadn’t ever really paid attention – until I saw a blurb in one of my magazines about how I should avoid it.  Here’s what I found out…

Purpose:  It helps to slow or stop the growth of mildew, fungi, and bacteria.  When you see “anti-microbial” in advertising, that’s what they’re talking about. It was originally developed for surgical procedures and use in pesticides.  But now it’s made its way into many everyday-use products.

Products:  Hand soaps, dish soaps, and hand sanitizers.  (Probably what you expected, right?) But also:  toothpaste, shave gel, cosmetics, clothes, bedding, and much more.  The “Microban” brand name uses triclosan to achieve its results.  For example, my kitchen and master bath countertops (Silestone) contain Microban.  (Ugh – I cut food on those countertops!)

Concerns:  In 2012, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration said the research indicated “valid concerns” about the use of triclosan in consumer products.  Some studies on animals found that exposure to triclosan caused reduced heart function and overall muscular strength, as well as skeletal weakness. Another study found disruption of immune systems and an increase in the likelihood of allergy-related problems.

The Good News:  There are lots of sanitizing products that don’t contain triclosan.  My intial reaction to the “avoid triclosan!” warning was “Oh no – I use hand sanitizer ALL THE TIME!”  When I checked the ingredients, I found that none of the hand sanitizers I’ve purchased recently (including Bath & Body Works and Purell) contain triclosan.  However, the older Bath & Body Works products do contain triclosan, including some of the “pocket bac” items.  (I sometimes use the older, larger bottles to refill my newer, little ones – guess I won’t be doing that anymore!)

Suggestion:  Check your products.  You probably can’t afford to throw out your mattress, countertops, and entire workout wardrobe if it contains triclosan, but you can (affordably) avoid using the products that come into direct contact with your skin.

In Summary:  I guess I’m going to have to spend more time reading labels.  I already avoid high fructose corn syrup, parabens, and made in China stuff – if it’s going on my skin.  Now I have to add triclosan to the list.  Great.  I really wish I knew all this before I spent thousands of dollars on those countertops…


Review: Sonia Kashuk Eyeshadow Duo

I picked this up during a recent trip to Target because it was pretty inexpensive.  I liked the colors and am always willing to try something new – since I can use it for a blog post :-).  Lots of the Sonia Kashuk stuff was on clearance (sadly, not my favorite makeup brushes), but this is the item I was most interested in…

Pros: Made in USA.  Paraben-free.  Good color selections. Not too glittery. Inexpensive.

Cons: Color is pretty sheer.  After several hours, the eye shadow “creased”.

In Summary:  These are decent eye shadows.  Nothing to write home about, but not bad.  I might buy them again if I were looking for an affordable eye shadow, since they’re better than many of the “drugstore brand” products I’ve tried. (except L’Oreal H.I.P. – those are the best, by far) I also really like that they don’t contain parabens, because even many of the “prestige” brands do.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars  3-stars

Price:  Approx $7.50 when not on sale

Available at: Target,

sonia kashuk eye shadow duo

Thumbs-Down: L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion Mascara (Waterproof)

I stopped buying L’Oreal mascaras years ago, because I had 2 different ones that irritated my eyes. I don’t have particularly sensitive eyes, but mascara seems to be the one thing that causes me issues. (Only the aforementioned L’Oreal products and one by Buxom.) Despite my history, I bought this mascara. I was intrigued by the unique brush, and you know the rest: I had a coupon AND it was on clearance.  Plus, I needed a waterproof mascara…

Pros: It seems to have been discontinued, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally buying it.  Made in USA.  “Suitable for sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers”, according to the manufacturer. Inexpensive.  Stays on pretty well.

Cons:  Contains parabens.  The wand part is horrible.  They were going for a “telescopic” look, so they didn’t pay attention to the fact that it’s too flexible to do its job properly.  The round brush is just weird.  It’s only convenient for outer eyelashes and pretty difficult to use on the rest – unless you like poking yourself in the eye. Mascara is just run-of-the-mill stuff, nothing special.

In Summary:  I’m not surprised this product has been discontinued.  If you happen to see it in a discount store and are tempted to buy it – don’t.  Seriously, save your money or spend it on a bottle of nail polish or something.  If you’re looking for a budget-friendly waterproof mascara, try Maybelline’s Colossal Volum’Express.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars  1.5-stars

Price: approx $9 (originally)

Available at:, maybe some discount stores and clearance aisles

l'oreal telescopic explosion mascara



Think You Want to Be Perfect?

They say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and that’s true – to some extent.  However, scientists have proven that what our brains tend to perceive as “beautiful” (at least when it comes to people) is a combination of things – a big part of which is symmetry.  So, if your face is fairly symmetrical, you’re more likely to be able to be a model than the non-symmetrical people.  You might already know this and obsess over trying to get as much “balance” in your look as you can. (I do it with my eyebrows.)  But I would like to submit that without our “flaws” and asymmetries, we wouldn’t be the same people.  Here are some badly Photoshopped pictures to prove my point.


Here’s a famous songstress who is certainly a “teenage dream” for lots of people. If you take only the left side or only the right side of her face and “mirror” it to make a whole person, she doesn’t look quite the same, does she?  (ignore the weirdness caused by my lazy Photoshopping…)


Sienna Miller – arguably one of the most beautiful women on the planet – looks like two different people when made up of only some of her face…

sienna-miller-symmetry-expeAnd let’s not just pick on the ladies.  There are “Sexiest Men Alive” who don’t look the same when “mirrored”, either.  Bradley Cooper is probably most easily recognizable for his uber-blue eyes, but with only one side of his nose to make up both sides of his face, he looks pretty different…

bradley-cooper-symmetry-expAnother “Sexiest Man Alive” winner.  OK, so there’s NOTHING you can do to make Ryan Reynolds look bad – but look at how the shape of his forehead completely changes from one side to the other…


Lesson Learned:  Of course, most of us would like to look perfect.  The more vain (and wealthy) among us may even seek out perfection via plastic surgery.  But we are who we are, flaws and all.    Without that, we’d all look like mannequins.  A little asymmetry makes us unique and makes us recognizable to our friends and family. So embrace your uniqueness and stop obsessing over perfection.


Review: Rimmel Glam’Eyes HD Eye Shadow

On a recent trip to CVS, I had a coupon for a Rimmel product, and this one happened to be on sale.  Since I haven’t tried Rimmel eye shadows but have been happy with their other products, I thought I’d give it a try…

Pros: Good variety of colors available.  Applicator isn’t as cheaply-made as some others in this price range.  Shadows go on smoothly.  Nice shimmer without too much “sparkle”.  Good coverage.  Lasts longer than some other inexpensive shadows.

Cons: Made in China.  Ingredients not listed on packaging (not even under a label – and I couldn’t find them anywhere online, either. Not cool, Rimmel.).  Ridiculous packaging.  Some of the shadows are so small they’re almost impossible to use.

In Summary:  I would love this eye shadow if not for all of the “cons” listed above.  I can deal with the tiny eye shadow portions, but not being able to find out what ingredients are in the product is pretty much a deal-breaker for me.  “Made in China” is also usually on my “do not buy” list, but I forgot to check this particular item before I bought it.  (Glad I only spent $1.50…)  So, if you aren’t as picky as me, these would probably be good eye shadows for you!  If you want something that’s the same quality but without all the “cons”, try Almay’s Intense i-Color shadows, available in a variety of colors and sheens. (Read my review of them here.)

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (only because of the unavailable ingredients list and made-in-China thing!)  2.5-stars

Note: I think this particular version of the Glam’Eyes eye shadows is being discontinued in favor of a some with more practical packaging.

Price:  approx $5.50

Available at: Drug stores, mass merchandisers, Ulta

rimmel glam eyes

Review: Aveda Hand Relief

The trial size of this product was given to me as a free gift when I attended the local Aveda Institute holiday open house.  It was a pretty cool event, but I mostly went for the free stuff (and the BOGO deal on their gift certificates!).  I was glad to get this item, because I really like having little bottles of lotion to throw into my purse(s)…

Pros:  Paraben and petroleum free.  Smells nice (kind of fruity/sweet, even though it contains licorice…) Made in USA.  Cruelty-free (PETA approved).  Good texture.

Cons: Expensive.  Not available many places. Not as long-lasting as some lotions.

In Summary:  This might be a suitable replacement for the paraben-containing Bath & Body Works “Look Ma, New Hands” lotion that I like so much, if it weren’t for the price!  I wash my hands a lot, so it doesn’t make sense for me to pay a lot for hand lotion.  However, this is a pretty good one.

Rating:  4 out of 5 stars   4-stars

Price: $8.50 for .85 oz., $21 for 4.2 oz.

Available at:, Aveda stores, Aveda Institute locations, Nordstrom

aveda hand relief

A Flaw in My Plan

A while back, I vowed to stop using products containing parabens.  Although I have no family history of breast cancer, even the slightest increase in my risk of getting it kind of freaks me out.  Better safe than sorry, right?  OK, maybe I’m being a little overly-cautious.  However, I think if there’s any indication that something even MIGHT cause cancer, it’s probably not something that’s good for you anyway.  So, no more products with parabens.  Easy, right?  Yeah, not so much…

A Few of My Favorite Things:  Stuff I really, really love contains parabens.  These are items I consider almost irreplaceable in my beauty regimen, including:  Aveeno Positively Radiant Facial Mositurizer, Too Faced Absolutely Invisible Pressed Powder, Benefit Erase Paste, Maybelline “Colossal” waterproof mascara, and Jack Black Lip Balm.  To be fair, the Jack Black products are technically designed for men, so there’s probably not a big concern over the possibility of ingredients causing breast cancer.  However, this is the product I’m most upset about.  Mainly, because the Sephora website listed it as NOT containing parabens, and I based my review (and continued use) of it partially on this information.  When I received my most recent tube of the lip balm for Christmas, I noticed the parabens in the ingredients.  I updated my review and noticed the Sephora website has been corrected as well.


There’s Still Hope:  I’ve noticed more and more companies seem to be offering “paraben-free” products.  Some are even re-formulating products to remove the parabens.   On Urban Decay’s website, many items are clearly labeled “Paraben-Free” as soon as they’re shown on the site.  (I wish all companies would do this and save me the hassle of clicking on each item and finding the ingredients list!)

At a Loss:  I’m still not sure what to do about these items.  In every case, finding items I liked as much as these was a very difficult, rather expensive process.  I have absolutely no desire to go through that process again.  So, can I justify using a few items that contain parabens?  Well, I’m probably going to have to – at least until they’re re-formulated or I happen to stumble across a replacement item that I love just as much.

Review: Natural Instincts (“Creme”) Hair Color

Natural Instincts hair color is the only kind I’ve ever used on my hair.  I first used it about 10 years ago and haven’t tried anything else, because I’ve been happy with the results every time I’ve used it.  I bought a box of the “creme” version on clearance with a coupon at Ulta.  The selections for colors I like were limited, so I got this version instead of the original, even though I thought I might not be as happy with it…

Pros:  Same benefits as regular Natural Instincts hair color.  Good variety of colors.  Doesn’t smell awful.  Comes with “Color Fresh!” packet to “boost” color after a couple weeks.  Comes with extra conditioner.  “Creme” type stays in place better, so you get less in places you don’t want it.

Cons:  Somewhat thick and pasty.  I usually comb the color through my very thick, fairly long hair to make sure it’s distributed.  This formula makes that almost impossible.  The “color” part of the mix is a cream, so it doesn’t blend into the activator stuff very well.

In Summary:  I will be sticking to the original formula. (I hope they haven’t discontinued it!)  Getting this stuff through my hair was horrible.  The end result was hair color that got left in too long (because I was trying to distribute the color for so long) and uneven color (because I gave up after a while).  I’m really glad it isn’t permanent color.  And that I only paid $2 for it…

Note: Natural Instincts now makes permanent color (“Vibrant”).  Be careful if you’re trying to get non-permanent stuff!

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars (only for people with thick hair like mine…)  2.5-stars

Price: approx $9 (often on sale with drug store weekly promotions)

Available at: Ulta,, drug stores, mass merchandisers

This is the actual color I bought.  It looks a little "extreme" on the areas of my hair with natural highlights.

This is the actual color I bought. It looks a little “extreme” on the areas of my hair with natural highlights.


Review: Burt’s Bees “Soothing” Lip Balm

This is one of the several items I got for Christmas.  I like most of Burt’s Bees products, including their lip balms.  I especially like the newer versions that offer some “extra” benefits. Here’s what I thought of this one…

Pros:  Inexpensive. Paraben-free. 100% natural.

Cons: Very menthol-y. (Like cough drops or Vick’s Vapo-Rub).  Doesn’t last as long as some others.  A little waxy.

In Summary:  If you have severely dry lips, this might be a better product for you than some others, but the formula doesn’t absorb in as well as you’d need for a serious dryness problem. (You should probably be looking for something in a squeeze tube for that…) My main issue with this lip balm is the too-strong menthol.  I think there are other lip balm products (including Burt’s Bees Açaí Berry and Pomegranate varieties) that work as well as this one, but smell (taste) better.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars  3-stars

Price:  approx $3

Available at: drug stores,, mass merchandisers

burts bees soothing lip balm

Goodbye, 2012!

Thank you all for your support of my humble little blog.  If you’re curious about the amount of “traffic” it’s gotten, here’s a look at the annual report: Click here to see the complete report.

As we ring in the new year, I’d like to share my sincere wish for all of you – that 2013 be full of joy and opportunity.  As for me – I’ve decided to start the new year with a new hair color.  (fingers crossed for a good outcome!)