ESSENTIALS

ETHOS

 \  ˈē-ˌthäs \ 
1. the fundamental character or spirit of a culture; theunderlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices ofa group or society; dominant assumptions of a people or period: in the Greek ethos the individual was highly valued.
2. the character or disposition of a community, group, person, etc.

I'd like to use this space to share a little about myself, my career, my ethos. Most of my clients know me very well, but you may not (so, hello new friends!) 

Being a teenager dealing with problematic skin was probably the time where my interest in all things skin+beauty had started to develop. In 2001 I went to esthetics school to train and receive my license from the Aveda Institute in downtown Manhattan. While I was fortunate to get a job at a well known spa right away, I continued my education in esthetics - and after a few years of experience and multiple certifications in advanced skin treatments I was able to start working with some of the best plastic surgeons and dermatologists in New York City. It was at each of these different spas and medical practices where I've trained with many different skin care lines; learning extensively about products, ingredients, facial techniques and protocols. Over time you get to see firsthand what works and what doesn't and that, is a big part of how I customize effective treatment plans for my clients. In addition to performing treatments at the office, a big part of my job is knowing whats on the shelves at Sephora, continuing education, staying current with new trends and technology at our industry trade shows, and giving my clients email access to me anytime for their skincare needs aside from their visits. I'm busy, but also very grateful to be in a career I deeply enjoy.  

It took a while for me to get involved in social media, it just wasn't a priority for me. I didn't even have a website until about 2 years ago. After having friends, family, and clients always asking about my thoughts on a specific product or needing treatment recommendations - I finally figured that social media could be a great way to 'save' information and share it with them. It's also been a really fun way to connect with other estheticians and skin care aficionados around the world! I'm not a blogger with a great camera, or a gifted writer, I'm just an esthetician who cares a lot about people and helping them with their skin. 

Whether writing about a treatment or a product line in this blog area or on my instagram, I'd like to share how that works. Most products I review are because I want to use and try them, so I purchase them myself at full retail price. If theres a lot of items from a specific brand I'm interested in, I'll ask if they will let me buy a few things wholesale. Some products I get complementary at trade shows or events, and sometimes a brand will reach out and ask me if I'm interested in trying anything. I subscribe to almost all the beauty and skin sampler subscription boxes too! First and foremost I read and analyze the ingredient list before anything else. Then I take into consideration the packaging components and product claims. Finally, I have my own little system of how I will test products on my own skin which usually starts with only half my face so I can compare what I'm testing to products I know work really well for me. And then it eventually makes it to a blog post or my social feed and sometimes my treatment room. 

I have never been paid to review or endorse any product on my social media or blog.  I have never been paid for my quotes or comments in press or when I'm on other brands social media channels. I don't use affiliate links, I don't use a PR company, nor do I have an agent or manager. I'm not against any of those things whatsoever, but if and when that ever happens, it will of course be with a brand, company or product I really love - and I will be transparent about it. 

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Aside from all things skincare, I'm an amateur birdwatcher, ambitious traveler, and wear a 7 1/2 in flats, but an 8 in heels.

 :)  

Thank you for reading! xx

GREEN BEAUTY: The Best Natural Exfoliants

Regular exfoliation is essential- and whether it's a manual scrub or a leave on acid, the days of your St Ives apricot scrub should be long gone. I've put together my favorites in all exfoliation categories, focusing on eco-friendly and clean beauty. 

You can read the full article on Garden Collage here!

Garden Collage curates stories about the aesthetic value of gardens, plant-based beauty products, environmental policy, the farm to table movement, DIY gardening tips, travel journals, and other fresh takes on the value of gardening in our modern world. Their mission is to bring back the garden into peoples’ lives and inspire readers to incorporate a new, dynamic concept of “gardening” based on perspectives from a global community of gardeners. From the farm to the fire escape, they cover it all. Prepare to be INSPIRED.

 

Column w/GARDENCOLLAGE

I am so excited to share that I'll be doing a column with one of my favorite online sites, Garden Collage! Each month or so will be an informative skincare story along with how to's, tips, and product recommendations; focusing on eco-friendly and clean beauty. 

You can read my first post here!

Garden Collage curates stories about the aesthetic value of gardens, plant-based beauty products, environmental policy, the farm to table movement, DIY gardening tips, travel journals, and other fresh takes on the value of gardening in our modern world. Their mission is to bring back the garden into peoples’ lives and inspire readers to incorporate a new, dynamic concept of “gardening” based on perspectives from a global community of gardeners. From the farm to the fire escape, they cover it all. Prepare to be INSPIRED.

The FDA & Organic Beauty Products, & Some Thoughts

Here is a copy of what the FDA says about organic cosmetics, taken from their website

Does FDA have a definition for the term “organic”?

photo by donna trope

photo by donna trope

No. FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The term “organic” is not defined in either of these laws or the regulations that FDA enforces under their authority.

How is the term “organic” regulated?

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the National Organic Program (NOP). The NOP regulations include a definition of “organic” and provide for certification that agricultural ingredients have been produced under conditions that would meet the definition. They also include labeling standards based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product. For more information on "organic" labeling for cosmetics, see the NOP publication, "Cosmetics, Body Care Products, and Personal Care Products." 

If a cosmetic is labeled “organic” according to the USDA, is it still subject to the laws and regulations enforced by FDA?

Yes. The USDA requirements for the use of the term “organic” are separate from the laws and regulations that FDA enforces for cosmetics. Cosmetic products labeled with organic claims must comply with both USDA regulations for the organic claim and FDA regulations for labeling and safety requirements for cosmetics. Information on FDA’s regulation of cosmetics is available on our Cosmetics website.

Are cosmetics made with “organic” ingredients safer for consumers than those made with ingredients from other sources?

No. An ingredient’s source does not determine its safety. For example, many plants, whether or not they are organically grown, contain substances that may be toxic or allergenic. For more on this subject, see FDA Poisonous Plant Database. Under the FD&C Act, all cosmetic products and ingredients are subject to the same safety requirement: They must be safe for consumers under labeled or customary conditions of use (FD&C Act, section 601(a). Companies and individuals who market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure that their products and ingredients are safe for the intended use. 

Life is all about balance, and I think that also applies to our skincare and beauty routines. If you prefer to use all organic or green beauty brands, that great! If you don't, thats great too! I think in regards to the brands and products we buy and support, a lot of it comes down to preference. Is organic jojoba oil better, safer, or more effective then non-organic jojoba oil? All signs point to no. Once a plant or flower is harvested, cleaned, processed and ready to be included in a skincare or makeup product, the sterilization process ensures no pesticides remain. There is still no proven research stating that an organic ingredient in skincare is superior. With the demand of clean ingredients, and brands being more transparent, that will probably change soon and I look forward to learning more about all of this. 

There are so many exceptional plant and flower based ingredients that have solid data showing how beneficial they are to the skin and some of these can be found in green and clean beauty brands, amongst others. However, just with all products, there are many naturally sourced ingredients that are common irritants, which can cause irritation, allergies, and sensitivity in your skin. Repeated rritation and inflammation causes collagen breakdown, and can slow your skin's ability to heal. Just because you aren't having a red splotch or rash, doesn't mean inflammation isn't still happening below the surface. Think of it the same way our bodies handle sugar or processed food that trigger internal inflammation; you may not see the long term effects right away but that doesn't mean its not happening. You don't want to see these types of ingredients high up on your products ingredient list. To learn about some common ingredients you may want to avoid, check out https://www.futurederm.com/five-natural-ingredients-that-can-irritate-your-skin/  

Another really great article to check out: http://www.racked.com/2016/5/5/11591300/natural-skincare-clean-beauty-toxins

For those that want to delve into this deeper, I use these resources a LOT: 

  • http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-ethnopharmacology
  • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  • http://www.karger.com

If you are looking for organic beauty products, there are some terms to know when reading labels. Here in the United States, the FDA doesn't regulate organic claims for cosmetics, skincare and personal care products. However the the USDA and ECOCERT have some regulations and systems for standards on organic plant claims in skincare/beauty. On the packaging of your product, you may find a few seals or labels of different certification agencies. They vary in standards so it is best to just look up the agency and see if their standards match what you are looking for in terms of organic. If the product has the USDA seal, these are the guidelines that are followed: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Labeling%20Organic%20Products.pdf

The following is an excerpt from an article written by beauty expert, Paula Begoun, that I think is worth mentioning..
Dr. Linda M. Katz, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors stated in 2007 that "Consumers should not necessarily assume that an 'organic' or 'natural' ingredient or product would possess greater inherent safety than another chemically identical version of the same ingredient. In fact, 'natural' ingredients may be harder to preserve against microbial contamination and growth than synthetic raw materials" (Source: New York Times, November 1, 2007).

Joan Shaffer, USDA spokeswoman stated that "…people should not interpret even the USDA Organic seal or any organic seal of approval on cosmetics as proof of health benefits or of efficacy," said. The National Organic Program is a marketing program, not a safety program. [Chocolate cake] may be [natural or organic] but that has no bearing on whether it is safe or nutritious to eat" (Source: www.ams.usda.gov/nop/FactSheets/Backgrounder.html).

I'm not trying to deter anyone away from buying organic skincare and supporting green beauty brands, as I purchase and support a lot of these myself. I just think its important when forming opinions to try to get as much information as possible and decide what is important to you. And finally, as for my personal opinion (if you are still even reading lol)...If I am presented with two products with exactly the same ingredient list, and one is organic while the other one isn't, I will probably choose the organic. Not because I think the organic versions of the ingredients are going to work better, but because I want to support a brand that is environmentally conscious.