And we’re back with another edition of Morning Routines Exposed! This one is from Virginia Sole-Smith, an excellent journalist and beauty blogger over at Beauty Schooled Project. She’s written for us in the past, and we count her among our friends. She went to beauty school so you don’t have to (ha!) and she wrote about her old routine and her beauty school adventures here, here, here and here. If you’re dying to know how she starts her day, and we know you are, read on, lovelies.
Hair: Long, brown, wavy and off the wagon (see below)
Before the shower…
Wait, people do beauty things before the shower?
Depending on the day, I’m either: Out running first thing in the morning (because if I don’t go first thing, I won’t go ever), then hopping in the shower mad sweaty. Showering later in the day after work + yoga class. So, still hopping in mad sweaty. Sleeping until it’s time to shower. Shall we call that beauty sleep? If you like.
In the shower…
Now I get down to beauty business. I wash my face with Annemarie Borlind Combination Skin Cleansing Gel, which is German, super gentle and very clean. I clean the rest of me with either Doc Bronner’s or (less clean, I know, but it was on sale!) Alba Botanica Very Emollient French Lavender Bath & Shower Gel.
When I wash my hair (about four times a week, after sweaty workouts), I admit, things have taken a cleanliness nosedive as of late. I have tried a variety of clean shampoos and conditioners and even went on a major apple cider vinegar kick for most of 2010… but there was a lot of trial and error to find stuff that worked. And the stuff that works tends to be more expensive. And the thing about being a licensed beauty tech? You can shop at beauty supply stores, where they sell huge bottles of (very unclean) salon brands for dirt cheap. (Way cheaper than say, John Masters hair products, which I would otherwise be delighted to use forever and ever.)
So right now, I’m using Living Proof No Frizz shampoo and conditioner in the biggest bottles you have ever seen. My hair…seems to like it a lot. (Sorry!)
My justification is that I haven’t dyed (or chemically straightened or permed) my hair since 2004—which is a lot of chemical savings. But yeah. I’m open to your suggestions for affordable/effective clean products to try (when I run out of these ginormous bottles in oh, 2013…).
Outside the shower…
I continue the non-green theme by, quick like a bunny, slathering on a quick coat of prescription Retin-A. Sorry, but this one is non-negotiable. If you had my beauty school skin, you’d be using it too.
But then I atone with my Annemarie Borlind Combination Skin Light Day Essence (love!) and Alba Botanica Very Emollient Unscented Original Body Lotion.
And you really cannot get cleaner than my daily deodorant, which Beacon Bird Bath body spray in Lemon and Lime Forest, made—just six miles from my house!— by my friend Steve. (Ahem: There might be a stick of Old Spice knocking around the bathroom too… for high sweat-potential days. But it’s running low and I’m fully intending to try Soapwalla next!)
Oh and then we’re off the wagon again on hair. I usually do a dab of curl cream (no brand loyalty, just whatever is cheap at the beauty supply store: Bumble & Bumble, Matrix Biolage, etc) and let everything air dry. (Sometimes I braid it or put it up in a bun while it’s still wet, if I want more controlled waves later.) This would actually be such an easy swap — next time I’m out of curl cream, I should just buy some argan oil, right? Right. Okay then.
On the makeup front, most days I do nothing because I work from home. If I am going somewhere mascara-worthy, I do a little of that plus eyeliner (I usually use Korres. Kinda green? Not really? Sigh… this is hard!) and maybe I play around with some of my mineral eye shadows—I love Afterglow and Sumbody (both so green! ha!) and Naked (pretty good too!).
Um, so this was a blast to read. We love her candor! And we want to try Borlind now! You?
Image of VSS’s favorite Audrey movie via
A couple of weeks ago we asked you what your fountain of youth was. I made the maybe-annoying (but totally sincere!) point that for me it’s all about smiling, exercise, diet, sleep, sex and…argan oil. In other words, I don’t put much stock in products that claim to be anti-agers, because I understand the science of how our skin changes as we get older, and because I know women of all ages with lines and freckles and whatnot who absolutely embody grace and beauty—and their husbands and boyfriends and girlfriends think so too.
But we still like to keep tabs on what’s going on in the anti-aging market, and as it turns out, so does the FDA. Say what?
From Beauty Schooled:
Over 80 companies — including big girl brands like L’Oreal, Avon and Revlon! — are on a special FDA watch list because the agency believes they may be importing, manufacturing or shipping skin care creams that make “drug claims,” like that said skin cream can alter the structure or function of your body (cellulite and wrinkle erasers, anyone?) or treat or prevent disease. This is a violation of pretty much the only cosmetics law we have in this country. And the beauty industry can’t even follow that one.
We talk a little in the book about confusing “cosmeceuticals”—this is a made up marketing term that means nothing but implies a lot. Specifically: a performance that could be almost drug-like, and the sense that it may be doctor-recommended, probably because so many of these lines are actually by doctors. These are essentially products that make drug-like claims, but are regulated (which is to say, are not really regulated at all) as cosmetics.
By definition, cosmetics are supposed to be, well, cosmetic. According to the FDA, cosmetics are defined by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.”
If it were true that all cosmetics do is alter appearance and “promote attractiveness” (LOL), then we wouldn’t have had a book to write. We’d also have really dirty clothes, because that would mean our skin is impermeable and so everything we put on ourselves would just rub off onto anything else that touched it, which is obviously not what happens.
The bottom line is it’s simply not true that cosmetics behave in a way that is purely cosmetic. So shouldn’t some of them be treated like drugs? Yes, say many experts—even some conservative ones who probably disagree with almost everything else we say. Tthe FDA even has a section of its site devoted to the matter.
Through the trusty channels of skin absorption and inhalation, some—though not all—ingredients do make their way into our bodies, where all kinds of undesirable things can happen. So the problem, as we see it, is the way cosmetics are defined in the first place. The science has outpaced the definitions and the regulations, and based on what we now know about some ingredients—from the ones that promise to plump up our smile lines to the ones that promise nothing but can sneak into our bodies and mess with our hormones—it’s time for the FDA to hop out of its time machine and do something.
Every time someone new comes over, I wonder if they’ll be alarmed by the magnum of apple cider vinegar that sits next to my tub. The salad-dressing staple, most of us know, is amazing for use on our hair, in part because its pH is similar to that of most conditioners—making it an easy nontoxic way to get smooth strands without forking over the big bucks for a fancy conditioner.
What’s fun about ACV is that there seems to be no end to the different ways people will use it. I’ve tried it as a stand-alone conditioner, and as a treatment—heck I also used to drink the stuff every night before bed—but here’s what works best for me:
About once a week, after I shampoo (with shampoo, not ACV), I pour a little of the stuff on the top of my head. Then I put conditioner on my ends, and wait a few minutes. Maybe I shave my legs, or exfoliate with a washcloth or something. After a few minutes, I rinse it all off, and voila! Silky shiny tresses. Mmmmm. Well, sort of.
There’s a slight issue of smell.
A couple of months ago, Virginia from Beauty Schooled and I met for a glass of wine at Eataly and she relayed a very funny story about going for a hair cut and having her stylist catch a whiff of vinegar on her still-damp hair. (Read her laugh-out-loud post about it here.) I’ve had this problem too, and I’m big on smell, so it bugs me.
So the other day, when Tricia from Yourjoyologist.com tweeted at us about using ACV as her shampoo, I had to ask her: What do you do about the smell??
Well, Tricia wrote us a letter:
I have been washing my hair with just the water and Apple Cider Vinegar for almost a month now and loving it. I was wary at first, but since none of the shampoos I have been trying lately have been to my liking I figured why not?
I am quite active and sweat a lot. I did notice that in some of the hot yoga classes I take I can smell vinegar, but its not too bad. One time, my sweat went into my eyes, and stung a bit, but that only happened once.
I have been putting Argan oil on the ends while it is still damp and that is it. I have not needed any styling products at all.
Two days ago out of laziness, I used my Kiss my Face shampoo and conditioner, which I bought because Alicia Silverstone and her site recommended it, and I had to seriously load on the products after and it still didn’t look as good as it has been with just the ACV and argan oil. Also, I have always battled dry scalp dandruff and using the ACV I have not had any scalp issues. The day I washed with shampoo last week my scalp Immediately started to itch like crazy.
Quite the endorsement! So we want to know: Have you used ACV on your hair? If so, how? Conditioner? Shampoo? And what on earth do you do (or think about) the smell?
Looks like all the fuss over the Brazilian Blowout might be paying off: The Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR) is apparently taking a second look at formaldehyde since its use in hair straightening treatments has never been assessed (shocker!).
If you’ve read the book you probably know that the CIR is the Expert Panel (caps theirs) of scientists and doctors that was established by the PCPC (industry trade group) to do the science and assess the safety of cosmetics ingredients.
Will this change anything? Hard to say. If formaldehyde were completely banned for use in cosmetics, then yes. But as long as there are acceptable levels, no matter how low, we suspect it will continue to appear in our products.
To understand this better, and to have a good laugh, check out Virginia’s great post on Beauty Schooled about it. And let’s all keep making noise, yeah? It’s clearly stirring things up.
I can’t say I had much of a body beauty routine before Beauty U, but I did use shower gel and body lotion daily, especially in winter when my skin gets pretty dry. Once we got into body treatments, that all changed, as again, we played guinea pig and gave each other salt scrubs, mud wraps, and other get-naked-slather-stuff-on-yourself treatments at least once a week. But, twist! At Beauty U, the body treatments were the cleanest spa services on the menu, chemically speaking. Our salt scrub contained only grapeseed oil and sea salt. Our mud wrap used a vat of Dead Sea Mud, which if the ingredient label — and extremely pungent smell — could be believed, really was basically just that. We also had a shelf of pure essential oils that we would use to make treatments smell nice and add aromatherapy benefits to our facials. Even the Cellulite Detox Wrap — where we slathered you up, wrapped you in heated blankets, and let you sweat until you lost an inch or more around your waist, hips, thighs and arms — was made with just essential oils mixed into a carrier oil.
Now, sweating in heated blankets for half an hour is pretty much my idea of hell. You get uncomfortable and lightheaded and start to see through time. And I have major concerns about the idea of doing that as any kind of weight loss strategy. So. Flawed.
But with all of this stuff, my skin did feel butter soft and smooth after I finished. Of course, you can give yourself a heck of a good salt scrub right at home in your own shower. Which is what I do now.
For more on how my beauty routine changed during beauty school, check out my four-partBeauty Labor Series. Have you ever had to overdose on toxic beauty treatments? Are you recovering from any hair or skin product panic attacks? Tell us all about it in the comments.