Jane Iredale Giveaway--Last Chance to Enter!

Friday, September 28, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a list with my top 5 facial primers available today. Jane Iredale easily made my list.

More than a basic primer, Smooth Affair provides your skin with other great perks!  Skin will look for radiant AND pore size will appear to be reduced.  Some primers leave your skin looking flat.  Not this one.  

There is Aloe Vera in this product, one of the most soothing and nurturing skin care ingredients available.

Honeysuckle, royal jelly, as well as green and white teas are present.  This really features many skin-benefiting ingredients to make it more than a basic primer.

I love this one.

And one of my readers will, too, when she wins this product!

How to Enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It came in the mail!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My advanced copy of the Fall/Winter USA TODAY Modern Woman magazine has arrived!

Most of the magazine features health, recipes, inspiration from women, and living. There is one page for fashion and one for beauty. If you turn to the beauty page, you'll find my piece on Red Lips for fall! The other piece USA TODAY asked me to submit on hair accessories should be appearing in a future USA TODAY publication.

Here's a glimpse at pages 92-93:

SOOOO, you may be wondering what I recommended for red lips? I wanted woman-owned businesses and those who are environmentally conscious and focus on healthier ingredients. I opted for red lippies from Silk Naturals, Au Naturale, Jane Iredale, Honeybee Gardens, and Vapour.

This magazine hits newsstands on October 8th and remains on stands until December 8th.

Guest Post: Fall Fire Safety Tips

I'd like to pass along some good advice from a guest poster this afternoon about safety in the home this autumn.

Fall Fire Safety Tips

Fall is a beautiful time of year. The leaves begin to cover the ground, the landscape starts to gleam with the rich colors of the autumn foliage and the heat of summer slowly fades away. However, the risk of house fires also increases this time of year. In the interest of keeping your home safe, consider the following safety tips during the fall and winter seasons:

  • If you have a fireplace, make sure you are familiar with how the flue works. Also, make sure to have a licensed chimney sweep remove soot to reduce the threat of a chimney fire.
  • Make sure you have smoke alarms installed throughout your home. Also, check your detectors at least once per month to ensure that they are working properly. If you don’t already have a home security system, consider investing in one. You can protect your home at a reasonable price with an ADT monitored system from Select Home Security.
  • Stash a fire extinguisher in an accessible location. Ideally, you should have a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home, especially in the kitchen and close to the fireplace.
  • Keep any space heaters a minimum of three feet away from anything flammable, including walls, furniture, blankets, curtains and paper products.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended, especially around pets and young children. You should also keep candles away from holiday decorations, even if they are fire resistant.
  • Don’t leave any food unattended on the stovetop while you’re cooking.
  • Clean out any buildup of debris in your gutters and on your roof.
  • It’s also important to plan for the worst. Your family is the most valuable treasure of all, so make sure each member of your household knows how to react in the event of a fire. Teach everyone multiple escape routes and review fire safety tips annually at the beginning of fall.

Emmy Makeup 2012: Christina Hendricks

Monday, September 24, 2012

I'll be showing you some of my most favorite Emmy makeup looks this week and recommending non-toxic beauty products you can use to achieve the Red Carpet looks.

Let's start with one of my favorite makeup looks this morning -- Mad Men's Christina Hendricks:


All over the face: Jane Iredale Glow Time Full Coverage BB Cream applied with Jane Iredale Foundation Brush

On eyes: Cosmopolitan palette from Honeybee Gardens

To conceal: Au Naturale Cream Concealer

On cheeks: Noella Beauty Works blush in Bella Noella

On lips: Christopher Drummond Lip Stain in Arouse from Nature's Basin

Mascara: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Jumbo Lash

Brows: e.l.f. Eyebrow Kit

The Finishing Touch

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I really love Noella Beauty Works Finishing Touch Setting Veil.  It is made right here in Rochester and the Pearl shade is just exquisite. The texture is so silky soft and it lasts almost all day long! I find myself using this one more than my others.  If I had to choose just one, I think it would be this one. I recommend it for combination skin. It helps keep shine away, but it isn't flat and matte.  This one is a keeper! $15.49

Silk Naturals Vegan Perfecting Powder is also lovely.  It is made locally as well, just down near Ithaca in Trumansburg. There are two of Karen's powder blends that really stand out" Blur (tinted) and Ultimate Luxury Powder.  I like the Blur tinted version in the winter when my skin is quite dry.  It helps blur any fine lines and gives a soft focus look.  Ultimate Luxury Powder is another stellar powder.  It feels luxurious going on and it contains rose petals. It gives you a matte finish. $11.95-16.99

Everyday Minerals Finishing Dust is an old stand by for me. I have used it for years.  I like this one for summer time when I am more oily than dry. Even though I try (and love) new products often, this one will always be one of the best powders on the market. $12.99

Alima Pure also makes a fantastic finishing powder. The Satin Finishing Powder is ideal for setting makeup, but what I like about it is that this one really works well on its own.  I like it for the rare weekend days when I do not wear anything other than a hint of powder and some lip gloss. $20

Last but not least is my favorite high definition powder: e.l.f. This is by far the best value of the bunch and the quality doesn't suffer for the low price point. I like this one quite a bit.  It softens fine lines and really will set your makeup. The caveat--you cannot wear HD powder if you plan to have your pictures taken using a flash. It will not look good. Otherwise, this one is a great find at Target or the drugstore when you don't want to wait for an online order.

What's In It Wednesday: "Who knows?!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Would you be surprised if I told you that there are people out there selling skin care products who have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what they are doing?

No? We've talked about similar subjects. Today I am sharing some conversations I have had with Etsy sellers regarding their bath and body products. I am going to share with you 3 sellers I found on Etsy and share my interactions with you:

Lisa from Oklahoma is a soaper, tart maker, and lotion seller on Etsy.

Not long ago, I asked her about her Lavender Flower lotion because I had concerns about preservation. She sent me this response:

"I start with a premade base and add goat's milk and honey to it. I also add extra grape seed oil because it is great for the skin and makes a great preservative. I do not know what is used in the base and have looked up each term and still cannot figure out which one it is. But here are all the ingredients to the lotions.

Water, Glyceryl Stearate, Isopropyl Myristate, Caprylic/Capric Glyceride, Stearic Acid, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Soybean Oil, Shea Butter, Dimethicone, Sunflower Oil, Aloe Barbadensis, Goat Milk Extract, Hydroxypropyl Trimonium Honey, grape seed oil, Benzophenone, Methylparaben, Propylparabaen, DMDM Hydantoin, Triethanolamine Disodium EDTA."

YIKES! Holy cow. Grapeseed oil to preserve goat's milk????

Also--one cannot just add ingredients to a premade base. The preservative levels in the base are made specifically for that product. Once you introduce ANYTHING else to the mix, you are changing the proportions.  In almost every case, the preservative levels will need to be adjusted.

Let's put it in simple kitchen terms. Suppose you buy some dip. Any dip, really.  For this exercise, we'll say we're using French Onion dip (sour cream based). Now let us pour in milk and oil. Leave it for a while. Heck, leave it out of the fridge for months.  What will happen? Will you eat the dip?


When Lisa adds goat's milk to this base, she is radically changing the composition of the base.  It is not a "simple add in" the way adding a couple drops of essential oils or fragrance oil would be.

Goat's milk is notorious for being tricky to preserve. You CANNOT just pour a milk product into a bottle of lotion, add in an oil, and, VOILA! -- goat's milk lotion! In fact, this is a health risk.

This business owner admits clearly that she is unfamiliar with ingredients. She states that grapeseed oil is a "great preservative". This is false. Selling this lotion is dangerous.

Lisa used to sell scratch-made products. Here is what she said about her product before the switch:

"I see I now I did not chang my description for when I made it from Scratch. The batched keep going bad so I switched to a premade bases and DR it up." 

Unfortunately, this product is no safer that the ones she was creating that she says kept "going bad". By "doctoring it up", she is selling a product that may be even more dangerous than the bad batches available before.

I had a lengthy conversation over the course of a couple days with another Etsy business owner.  Her name is Shannon and her shop is based in Kentucky.  Her specialties include selling homemade food items, lotion, painted wine glasses, baby tutus, wreaths, and canvas sneakers painted with team logos.

After speaking with her, I do see that she has removed the lotion and homemade salsa.

Shannon was selling an "all natural" body lotion on her site.  No ingredients were listed.

I asked her what was in her lotion via Etsy convo and here is her response:

"Water, grapeseed oil, essential oils, emuls wax, witch hazel, glycerin"

I asked Shannon if she was aware that her product was not properly preserved and, therefore, a health issue.

Her response:

"I have included that it is all natural and no preservatives!"

I explained that I was concerned about the health risk of not having a preservative.

Shannon said:

"There are health risks in everything. I have not sold one lotion on etsy. All of mine have been to friends and family and have not had one problem. and I have sold close to 100 bottles. If I did sell one on etsy, I would clearly list all ingredients and potential risks to the purchaser."

By this logic, it was A-OK to sell potentially harmful, unpreserved products and AFTER someone paid for the lotion, she would make them aware that they posed a risk of staph and other diseases.

Christina from Tennessee is selling  "ALL NATURAL BUBBLE BATH...Made from scratch, by hand, with earth and YOU in mind".

First of all, I was pretty confused yesterday when I went to look at the ingredients once more.

Why?  Well, just 10 days ago, these were the ingredients meeting the item description above:

Ingredients: Water, ammonium lauryl sulfate, ammonium laureth sulfate, lauramide dea, lauryl glucoside, disodium edta, methychlorisothiazolinone, methylisothiazolinone, citric acid, sodium chloride

Yesterday, the items title and description were exactly the same, but now the ingredients are different.

Here they are as of September 10, 2012:

INGREDIENTS: "Business name's" natural moisturizing handmade bubblebath base, olive oil, coconut oil, fragrance, citric acid, sodium chloride, vitamin a, vitamin d, vitamin e

I am so confused. At the end of August, I had been communicating with the shop owner.

I asked why she called her product "all natural"  when it is loaded with toxins.

Here is her reply from August 29:

"The ingredients are necessary to create the suds people love in bubblebath. The "chemicals" prevent mold growth and bacteria from forming in the base thereby allowing us to make a batch up ahead of time and store it in airtight jars until use. Then we add the color and fragrance to our handmade from scratch base. There are necessary steps required to prevent bacteria and mold growth helping to ensure customer safety. After all if you received bubblebath and it had black mold (the most harmful version of mold) in it you would be very upset and report the seller for not following protocol and health and safety regulations. Hope this helps." 

So, why are the ingredients completely different since August 29th?

According to the seller just yesterday:

"I have formulated everything and Vitamin E is an excellent natural preservative since you were or appeared to be quite upset over the other formula I re-worked it. I use Vitamin E as a natural preservative in many products and after extensive testing done prior and during our conversations it has proven sufficient at keeping the mold from forming even in summer heat. I have done my best to accommodate everyone's wishes for a more natural product."

I am dumbfounded, to be frank.  First of all, let me assure you that a serious formulator who is taking the necessary precautions can ABSOLUTELY NOT reformulate a bath and body product and have thoroughly had it tested for safety in less than 2 weeks. It is just not possible.  When I was formulating products for sale, product development (including me having them tested) was a process involving months before I knew it was OK to safely sell to the public.

According to this seller, then, her old formula had the chemicals because it was a safety issue and we had to prevent black mold. Now, she says that after giving it thought that she is able to have created a new natural recipe and knows that vitamin E is a safe preservative. Again, this shows why I no longer feel it is safe to buy these products on Etsy. We've said this so often here--VITAMIN E IS NOT A PRESERVATIVE! IT IS AN ANTIOXIDANT. THIS IS VERY DIFFERENT!  The seller states that she was able to conduct extensive testing with the vitamin E. Wow. Let me tell you that extensive does not mean two weeks, nor does it exlude challenge testing in the lab.

The C & G Bottom Line:

A couple of years ago, I showed you what happens when you buy something that has not been appropriately preserved. This was my own purchase, which was the beginning of the end of me ordering handmade items other than bars of soap or lip balm:

This issue is only on the upswing. More and more bath and body shops seem to be popping up overnight. People still seem to think that you can just says, "It's so easy to make lotion! Let's sell it on Etsy!" 

This is very dangerous and it makes no sense. Would you go to a restaurant and order food knowing that the chef isn't sure what temperature is safe for heating poultry? Or who uses expired milk or rancid oils in his sauces?  Remember--there are people out there (even those who have been selling for years adding to premade bases and thinking it is OK to do) -- who have no knowledge of ingredients or formulation.  It is up to you, as a consumer, to be sure you're safe until sellers take more responsibility for what's out there for sale. Caveat emptor!   

Homemade Applesauce

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I share this recipe with you each and every fall. This morning, it was in the upper 40s when I got up.  Guess what I'm making today?

That's right....

I decided to make a healthy side dish/dessert: Warm Cinnamon Applesauce. It is so easy, tastes a thousand times better than store bought, and is healthy!

We went to Aman's Farm & Market, a local family-owned garden center, farmer's market and gift shop here in Irondequoit, and bought 3 pounds of apples. I prefer Granny Smith--you can use almost anything.

I thought I'd share our recipe!

3 pounds of apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup of water
1 packet of Sugar in the Raw (optional)
1 T. of ground cinnamon

Wash you apples, then peel and core then. Put a few at a time in a food processor or chop by hand into small pieces.

Put your apples in a large saucepan or pot and pour water over them. Add the packet of Sugar in the Raw (if desired, not necessary, though), and cinnamon. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

When they are done, mash up with a fork and sprinkle with more cinnamon. 

I like to eat this warm on a chilly day. The boys like it to sit in the fridge for a bit. I just had some of it and it was delicious! The boys are having it with dinner tonight.

Once you've tried homemade applesauce, you'll realize how much better it is than the jarred kind. Delicious! 


Friday, September 7, 2012

No, I am not referring to the VANILLA from Fifty Shades of Grey, but rather natural, warm and creamy vanilla--my favorite scent and one of my favorite flavors.


Back to the Grind

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Today was the boys' first day of school. Nick is in 4th grade now and Ben is in 2nd.  Can you believe that when I first started this blog, I was telling you about Nick's adventures in PRESCHOOL?  How time flies incredibly fast.  My boy turned NINE yesterday. NINE. And the baby is 7.  I wish I had the ability to freeze time, readers!

Ben (7) and Nick (9)

This time of year always is a time of reflection and change. Major things always seem to happen this time of year. My facial cream being featured in Martha Stewart Body + Soul happened in September of 2008.  The decision to close my skin care business happened in September 2009. Can you believe it has been THREE years?  This time of year also brings excitement for me, as two of my articles will debut in USA TODAY's annual women's health magazine.  It will on newsstands October 7th. Look for a piece on red lipstick and one on hair accessories.

I will be back to more activities as well.  In the summer, I scale back majorly so I can be actively involved with the boys--traveling, visiting the zoo, museums, etc.  I will be back to blogging daily.  I will be doing more in the way of volunteering as well for things I am passionate about.  Soon, I will begin volunteering at Planned Parenthood.  I also am going to devote even more time to the Obama-Biden re-election campaign.  I have started writing to Political Groove and Voice for America.  As always, I will be volunteering at school.  

I am also returning from an almost 3 month break from my jewelry business.  I have been working on new earrings and will be listing them soon.

This is an exciting time.

What are your plans for fall?

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