Got Bad Skin? I’ve Got Bad News.

If you have a skin condition like rosacea and/or acne, you may know there are lots of ingredients you should avoid in your facial products.  Anything that says “oil” is generally advisable to avoid if you have acne.  Any known irritant should be avoided if you have rosacea or otherwise sensitive skin.  But how much do you know about bismuth? 

What is It?  Bismuth is an element on the periodic table.  By itself, it’s not safe.  At all. It’s actually commonly found as a byproduct of mineral refining!  However, when combined with other elements, it becomes a “safe” product additive.  The most common ingredient you’ll see in makeup products is bismuth oxychloride.


Why is It in Makeup?  Bismuth (oxycholride, usually) is added as a filler.  Also, it’s a “pearlizing” agent that gives a natural glow to makeup products.  It’s smooth texture improves the feel of makeup, and can help with adhesion.

Why Would I Want to Avoid It? 

1.  It can be an irritant.  It’s been identified as a possible cause of worsening acne and rosacea.

2. Heavy metal toxicity.  There are – of course – limits to how many parts per million are allowed by the United States Food & Drug Administration, but in the event that the ingredient contained all of the allowable amounts and you were using multiple products with the maximum amounts, it could add up to health problems.

3.  Many of the suppliers of this ingredient are based in China.  China has a bad record when it comes to product safety and often refuses/resists allowing in outside inspections by foreign entities like the U.S. FDA.

The Good News:  Many companies have determined that bismuth is a less-than-ideal additive for their products and you can find stuff that doesn’t contain it.

FYI:  Brands that I know don’t contain bismuth as a wide-ranging policy:   Ferro Cosmetics, Australian-based Naked Cosmetics, Purely Cosmetics, Beauty Bliss Cosmetics, and others.  There are plenty of companies out there.  Unfortunately, you’re not going to find any all-bismuth-free product lines at your local drugstore – probably not even at your favorite beauty store.

Up to You:  It’s long been my contention that it’s impossible to avoid everything that might be bad for you.  However, if you have sensitive, irritated, or acne-prone skin, you might start checking the ingredients list and avoid products that contain bismuth.


Review (Love This!): Ferro Cosmetics Blush

I’ve been needing to find some new blushes.  I have some that I’ve been holding onto for WAY too long and they’re getting a little “cakey”.  Some of the others I don’t even like, but I’ve kept them because they’re a color I need/want.  So, I was glad to get these in my sample collection of products from… 

Pros:  100% natural.  Vegan.  Made in USA.  Dermatologist-tested.  Cruelty-free (PETA). Paraben-free. Finely milled.  Smooth texture.  Several shades available.  Company supports charitable organizations.

Cons:  Expensive.  Loose/mineral powder can be a little messy.  Limited availability. Website doesn’t list how much product comes in the container.

In Summary:  I think this is very good blush.  I like the texture more than all of the “drugstore brand” blushes I’ve used.  Add to the fact that it’s paraben and cruelty-free, and it’s definitely at the top of my list of blushes I would buy.  If budget weren’t an issue, I’d buy it in every color.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $17

Available at:

ferro cosmetics

Review: Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer

I’ve started using these as a go-to product for when I don’t want a “made-up” look on my lips.   Decide for yourself if they’re right for you…

Pros:  100% natural. Cruelty-free. (Leaping Bunny approved, although the parent company isn’t.)  Made in USA.   Comes in a great selection of colors.

Cons:  A little expensive for what they are.  Not very good at moisturizing. (I usually put lip balm on before using these.) Can have a “heavy” look if you don’t apply the least amount possible. Not long-lasting color.

In Summary:  I like these as long as I can get them on sale.   (I got a bunch of different colors for under $2 each a while back at a discount store.)  They’re a happy medium between lipstick and lip gloss, which makes them good for everyday use.

Shopping Tip: If you love these, the best deal is to try to get the “kits” or “sets” that are often available at stores that carry full lines of Burt’s Bees products.  Of course, if you’re a discount store shopper, you may be able to find them at stores like TJ Maxx, Marshall’s, Ross, and Big Lots, too.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars  3-stars

Price: approx. $5 each (have seen them priced up to $7)

Available at:  Target, Ulta, sometimes at discount stores

BB lip shimmer

Love This! Urban Decay Urban Defense (tinted moisturizer)

I got a sample of this product a loooong time ago and just recently had a reason to try it.  Reason:  I was out of other tinted moisturizers, too lazy to put on full makeup, but had an errand to run.  (No, I don’t leave my house without SOME makeup.)  After trying it, I decided to go online and see the price (bracing myself) and was happy (and sad – keep reading) to find it was 70% off the original price.  So I bought two.  One for my “year-round” color and one for my hopeful “maybe I’ll get some sun” color…

Pros:  Paraben-free.  SPF 20.  Fragrance-free.  Cruelty-free (PETA and Leaping Bunny approved – also helps contribute to PETA efforts.)  No glycerin. Has ingredients that fight free radicals (aging).  Light-diffusing ingredients give skin a healthy “glow” and minimize the appearance of flaws.  Light, smooth coverage.  Great for makeup “down days” when you want to improve your appearance without a huge time commitment.  If you want a little more coverage, you can put some powder on over it.

Cons:  Parent company – L’Oreal – isn’t cruelty-free.  Can’t tell if it’s oil-free.  (I’m not an ingredients expert, but there isn’t anything listed with “petroleum” or “oil” in the name…)  Only available in 4 shades. Color swatches on the container make it hard to tell the actual color.  Although I ordered 2 different ones,  the swatches are almost identical, although the colors aren’t.  Observe:

"Halo" on left, "Bodyguard" on right.

“Halo” on left, “Bodyguard” on right.

Note:  I’m pretty sure this has been discontinued, based on its lack of availability at Sephora and Ulta, as well as its very low price at  It got great reviews, but I’m guessing they’re phasing it out to market the “BB” and “CC” creams that seem to be so popular.

In Summary:  I really, really like this product.  It definitely solves a problem/need I have on a regular basis.  No, it’s not the only tinted moisturizer on the market, but I love that this one is paraben-free and cruelty-free.  I’m secretly hoping Urban Decay is just revamping the packaging (which they’ve done with lots of their products recently, including some of the ones they put on clearance) and the product will come back.  Not that I’m complaining about getting 70% off, mind you…

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars  4.5-stars

Price:  $9 at, $30 at, prices vary elsewhere

Note: shipping is a little expensive (and slow!) at $8.

Available at:,, some other online retailers

urban decay urban defense


Review: Boscia Luminizing Black Mask

This is another of the products I received in my Total Beauty Collection “mystery box”.  I’ll admit, I normally wouldn’t be inclined to try a “peel off mask”.  It sounds messy.  But since I have it…

Pros:  Contains beneficial vitamins and herbal extracts. Preservative-free. (No parabens).  Sulfate-free.  Feels refreshing as soon as you put it on.

Cons:  Contains glycerin. (may clog pores, but since it’s a “peel off” product, that might not be an issue.)  Expensive.  Takes a lot of product to do the job right.  “Pasty” and a little difficult to deal with (hard to rinse excess off hands.)   Have to be careful with application.  Not as easy to remove as it sounds.  A little uncomfortable to remove (kind of like taking off a Band-Aid!)  If you have dry patches (or blemishes in the process of healing), the product will stick to those areas more and be harder/more uncomfortable to remove.

In Summary:  While it made my skin feel great, this product isn’t for me.  I was unable to complete the “peel” process in one step, leaving me with areas that were more “scrape off” than “peel off”.  (I can exfoliate my skin without the mess, thank you!) The resulting shreds of black, plastic-y stuff all over my counter (and clothes) was an undesirable side effect.  Worrying about leaving little dots of black gunk somewhere on my face I couldn’t see was annoying.    I guess this product is designed for people who are used to having a spa peel, but want to do it at home.  I’m not one of those people.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars  2.5-stars

Price:  $34 for 2.8 oz.

Available at:  Sephora,,

boscia luminizing black mask