The Price We Pay To Be Pretty

 

Could your desire to feel gorgeous be costing you your health?

I missed this interesting piece in The Atlantic last week, about 1930s movie star Jean Harlow, and how she suffered for her bleached blond hair. The tragic, yet intriguing story made me wonder if women will ever stop risking their health for the sake of looking beautiful.

In the story, writer Taylor Orci describes the toxic mix of chemicals Harlow used to get her signature hair color.

Harlow, towheaded as a child, insisted she was a natural blonde, but her stylist knew differently. “I used to bleach her hair and make it ‘platinum blonde,’” Alfred Pagano, hairdresser to the stars, once said. “We used peroxide, ammonia, Clorox, and Lux flakes! Can you believe that?”

Orci goes on to suggest that there’s a chance the actress’s untimely death at age 26 could have been caused by her frequent exposure to ammonia and bleach—she might have died from dyeing.  Even if it wasn’t the homemade hair color that killed Harlow, the concoction probably had some sort of negative impact on her health. Yet she endured the painful lightening process every week because she believed her success in the film industry depended on it.

We could blame ignorance for her behavior and say that Harlow and her well-meaning stylist were just working with what they had at the time. But even now, women embrace products that are likely to be harmful. For example, they fork over good money for Brazilian Blowouts that contain cancer-causing formaldehyde, relaxers, which have been linked to fibroids and perfumes with hidden ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. I’m guilty of knowingly using iffy beauty products, too. I’ve relaxed my hair on and off for years, and I have a pretty big collection of fragrances (although I don’t spritz myself every day).

Not everyone is aware of the risks associated with some of the beauty products they use, but I bet even women who’ve been informed don’t necessarily ditch everything that’s potentially bad. The desire to feel attractive is a very powerful, complicated emotion—one that apparently causes us to do questionable things.

Is there anything in your beauty stash that could be a health hazard? Have you ever stopped using a product because you learned that it might be toxic? ‘Fess up, please.

 

The One Thing I Just Don’t Get About Adele

Adele usually sticks with the same look everywhere she goes (thick, fake lashes, big hair, red lipstick), but her makeup always looks incredible. And last night at the Oscars was, quite possibly, THE BEST she’s ever looked (see above for proof). My brain fails to understand why the woman still does not have a beauty contract. Even Carly Rae Jepsen has one, for crying out loud!

No, Adele doesn’t need a cosmetics company to validate her fabulousness, but she is just as worthy as the other stars who’ve scored deals in the past year. And, I think if a brand scooped her up, it would send a positive message to all women: You don’t have to be rail thin to be considered a beauty icon. The only other voluptuous celeb I can think of with a makeup endorsement is Queen Latifah, and she was signed to Cover Girl in 2001.

As for who should court Adele, I picture her partnering with a sophisticated, high-end brand— Burberry would be the obvious choice. On the other hand, I could also see her going the edgier route and joining Rihanna over at MAC. Only time will tell, but I have a feeling we won’t have to wait long before a big announcement is made. These companies might be slow, but they’re not stupid.

Which makeup company do you think Adele should sign with? Think she’ll land a hair or fragrance contract, too? 

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Made In My Shade: Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup

Yes, I found a color that matches my skin tone, but before we get to that, I need a moment to geek out about the texture of this product. It is fantastic.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup ($62), a foundation and skin perfector with SPF 15 and a mix of oils and pigments, is amazing because it completely disappears into the skin. Seriously, it’s like it becomes one with your face—you can’t feel it or see it once you blend it in.

The formula doesn’t contain any water, but it’s incredibly thin. In fact, it’s so lightweight that the bottle is topped off with a dropper instead of a regular cap or a pump. It seems strange at first, but the texture is so liquid-y that it makes sense.

The other ingredient that’s missing from Maestro Makeup is powder. And yet it gives a flawless matte finish. Hmmm…it’s all very mysterious and magical. Also, it took the company eight years to make it, so that might have something to do with how good it is.

OK, now let’s talk color. There are only three shades that are categorized as “dark,” but one of them, #11.5, works really well for me. Most women with a complexion similar to Naomi Campbell’s could wear it. But, I suspect that when my face gets lighter as we get deeper into winter, the makeup might start to look a teensy, tiny bit too red on me. But for now, I’m loving it.

I also tested the next lightest shade, #10, and I think it’s a good option for those with a Kerry Washington-colored complexion. I didn’t try out the deepest hue, #12, but I’m guessing it would be gorgeous on skin tones like Viola Davis’s. I wish the dark range were a little bigger so that more brown-skinned women could experience the makeup–it’s such a beautiful product. I like it even better than Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation ($59), which I mentioned as one of my favorites in a story I wrote for Glamour last year.

Have you tried Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup yet? Thoughts? 

P.S. For more Made In My Shade posts, click here.

Raising The Cost Of Confidence, One Bar At A Time

An article in The Wall Street Journal last week reported that makeup bars—boutiques where women pay about $40 to get their faces dolled up by a professional makeup artist—are becoming a trend in big cities like Los Angeles and Atlanta. But it’s not just bridesmaids and homecoming dance attendees that are booking appointments at the shops. Women who want to look good for lower-profile events like business meetings, dates and parties are also getting in on the action. As the WSJ explained, “Women, more than ever, feel the need to be camera-ready at all times, thanks mainly to cellphone cameras.” So I wonder: Has the pressure to look perfect become so intense that an at-home makeup job doesn’t cut it anymore?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of makeup. Knowing you look your best can ease some of the anxiety that comes along with giving an important presentation or working the room at an intimidating industry event. But I’ve always thought primping for something other than a wedding or major night out could be accomplished simply by applying something extra—black eyeliner or a bright new lipstick, for example, rather than trekking to a beauty studio and paying someone to do it for you. What happened to flipping through a magazine for a new look to try and calling it a day?

What the growing makeup bar trend seems to suggest is that now it takes more—more time, more money and more help—to reach that damn-I-look-good, happy place. Social media outlets like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr have convinced women that they too are brands—pseudo-celebrities who want to make sure that every photo that hits the internet is in line with their message. Even if it means shelling out a little extra dough for a flawless face.

Like the blow-dry bar junkies the New York Post wrote about recently, I worry that these next-generation makeup counters will create a new group of “addicts;” women who rely a little too much on pros to feel good about themselves in order to function in daily life.

True confidence doesn’t waver from D.I.Y. makeup or a bad hair day. And the best part? It doesn’t cost a dime.

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Made In My Shade: Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup

When I think of Urban Decay, in-your-face, edgy color immediately comes to mind. You know, the kind of makeup shades that are typically NSFW? So I was very intrigued when I heard the brand launched a foundation that’s supposed to look and feel “like wearing nothing at all.” I wondered: “Did they really get the texture right? Are the brown shades dark enough?” I requested a couple of samples so I could find out. I was a little nervous when I tried the makeup because I love Urban Decay—I did not want them to fail. So my verdict on the foundation is…

… I find Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup ($38) guilty of being fantastic. Shade 10.0 is a perfect match for my skin tone, and the oil-free formula is as sheer as promised. I wore the makeup in broad daylight and it didn’t look like I was all made up for a photo shoot or paparazzi ambush or something, which is one of my biggest fears about foundation. That, and the color being too red.  Neither are the case with this stuff. It’s pricey, but I think products that make your complexion look flawless are worth the extra dough. Agree or disagree?

P.S. Check out two other great foundations here and here.

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8 Kick-Ass Hair And Makeup Looks From Afro-Punk (These Girls Are AWESOME)

You wanna know where all the cool kids were hanging out last weekend? Afro-Punk, that’s where. The eighth annual multicultural music festival happened in my ‘hood this past Saturday and Sunday so I had no excuse not to go. I don’t know what I enjoyed more: the bands or the people-watching. Check out some of the bold beauty statements I spotted.

Love this diva’s hot pink lipstick and adorable side buns. And get a load of her eyebrows–they’re full and fabulous.

Braids were everywhere at the park, but this girl wins the award for Longest Braids Ever. I’m gonna steal her little scarf-around-the-head idea. Too cute.

Another great braided style worn with a casual tee and a beautifully bare face.

 

Pair winged-out eyeliner with edgy hair and what do you get?  Retro-punk.

 

Unexpectedly pretty: Matchy-matchy makeup and earrings.

I’m a fan of any woman with the confidence to rock black lipstick. Homegirl is killing it!

This look screams “1990s house party” and I love it.

The headband is super-girly, but the sunglasses and fuchsia lipstick add a dose of attitude. Nice!

So there you have it. And that’s just a tiny sample of the insanely stylish peeps roaming around the Afro-Punk festival. Which of these looks do you heart the most? Did you go to Afro-Punk?

All photos by Ibra Ake for Beautycism.com

 

True Story: “I became a model at age 49.”

I went to a photo shoot on Monday and I got to bond with a great lady by the name of Cindy Joseph. She’s been modeling for 12 years, but get this: She was almost 50-years-old when she got discovered. Her story is so inspiring.

Meet Cindy Joseph, silver-haired and proud!

Cindy getting prepped on set.

Before she began working in front of the camera, Cindy was making her living behind the scenes a makeup artist. After 27 years in the biz, she retired and shortly after was approached by a casting agent on the street. “I thought it was a joke. I thought someone was playing a trick on me. But the next day the agent called and asked me to be in a D&G campaign. That was in 1999.” Once the ad hit, a friend encouraged her to get an agent and Cindy signed with Ford Models. She’s still with them today. “I’m doing the same things I did as a makeup artist—travelling and going to shoots—only as a model instead,” Cindy says. How’s that for a second career?

Cindy in More magazine.

And if that’s not impressive enough, Cindy started her own line of beauty products two years ago called Boom! By Cindy Joseph. The collection includes BOOMSILK, an allover moisturizer made with organic honey, olive oil and beeswax and three BOOMSTICKS for shimmer, color and moisture. She sent them to me and I’m so into BOOMSTICK Color ($24), which is like a berry-tinted cream blush stick you can put on your lips and eyelids, too.

One thing BOOM! doesn’t do is prey on women’s fears about getting older.  As Cindy puts it: “My line is not about concealing, fixing or covering things up, it’s about bringing out the way you look naturally when you’re turned on to life and having a good time. I don’t like the words ‘anti-aging.’ I’m pro-age!”

You gotta love this woman. Are you as inspired by her as I am?

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Why This Is The Perfect Makeup Look For A 92-Degree Day

I met the fabulous 26-year-old Samantha here when I was out scouting girls for my Makeup.com column. I literally ran across the street in Soho to talk to her specifically because of her amazing red lipstick. And it turns out, her look is just right for summer, according to a very wise expert.

While I was picking makeup artist Andrew Sotomayor’s brain yesterday for some beauty tips, he said something that instantly made me think of Samantha: “Don’t be afraid to be glamorous during summer months. A red lipstick and waterproof mascara goes a long way. Try a matte texture to balance what is inevitably a more dewy complexion.”

It’s like Andrew and Samantha share a brain–her look is exactly what he described (well, except that she’s wearing false lashes, not mascara). Her picture + his tip = me rethinking all the gloss and shiny tinted lip balms I tend to wear this time of year. I love the idea of contrasting glistening skin with bright, matte lips. Maybe I’ll make that my fireworks-watching look tonight.

Inspired to copy this too? Try Samantha’s shade, NARS Semi Matte Lipstick in Shanghai Express ($24) or Andrew’s pick, Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Colour in La Somptueuse ($32.50). And BTW, Samantha has a lot of great makeup in her stash and Andrew is full summer beauty tips. Check ‘em out.

Happy 4th of July!

And The Award For The City With The Coolest, Sexiest, Most Wonderfully Diverse Fashion Week Of The Season Goes To…Sao Paulo

OK, so why haven’t I ever paid attention to Sao Paulo Fashion Week before? It’s been around since 1996, but it’s been completely off of my radar until now. Apparently, I’ve been missing out big-time.

Seriously, once I started looking at the pics, I could not stop. I got sucked in by striking, African-inspired details, ginormous statement accessories, bright colors and, of course, those models’ bodies–they’re ridic.

As for the beauty statements, they were, well…beautiful. And refreshing. We’re talking big Afro wigs, winged-out-beyond-the-brows liner and models with all different skin tones. From what I’ve seen, this season of Sao Paulo Fashion Week is what all fashion weeks should be: diverse, cultural, artistic and sexy. I really, really, really want to go to there. Here are some of the looks that got me all obsessed:

1. From ivory to dark chocolate, all complexions were represented on the Adriana Degreas catwalk.

2. At the New York and European shows, there’s often a one-weave-fits all attitude backstage. At FH for for Fause Haten, the models got faux ‘fros. Now that’s a cool twist.

3. I love the pairing of two extremes at Andre Lima: crazy-extended eyeliner and massive (and hopefully light!) earrings.

4. This model knew exactly how to work this orate mask at the Lino Villaventura show. Hot!

5. More awesomeness from Adriana Degreas. This is head-to-toe edgy perfection.

6. Um, I would kill for the butt on this model at the Movement show. Seriously, I think offing another person would be a fair trade-off. I’m not kidding. I kid, I kid.

7. Blame it on my African roots, but this headwrap worn at the Neon show is calling (very loudly) to me. So is the model’s grape lipstick. I doubt I could pull off either one in real life, but I can dream, can’t I?

Yep, I can see SPFW becoming a much bigger deal globally in the near future. I know I only showed you a snippet, but what do you think?

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A Lovely Beauty Idea To Steal From Wes Anderson’s New Movie

There are so many things to love about Moonrise Kingdom, the hilarious new film directed by Wes Anderson. But the thing that really stood out to me, besides the witty dialogue and amazing cast, is the blue eye shadow worn throughout the entire movie by Suzy Bishop, one of the lead characters.

Suzy, played by actress Kara Hayward, is a troubled twelve-year-old girl who has a habit of going “berserk” on people when she gets really mad. I won’t go into specifics because I don’t want to spoil it for you, but let’s just say the girl has a violent streak. To escape her dismal home and school life, she decides to run away with her quirky pen-pal/boyfriend and chaos ensues. Although Suzy’s life is kind of a mess, her makeup looks great–she wears bright blue eye shadow in almost every scene. The film is set in 1965 so the shadow looks really retro, kind of like something Diana Ross and the Surpremes would have worn.

I wish I had a better photo of Suzy’s lids, but you’re gonna go see the movie anyway, right? You MUST. It’s so good. And when you do, you just might be inspired to give blue eye shadow a try. I know I am! I found some pretty blue options that’ll help you copy Suzy’s look. They’re a bit brighter than hers, but I think that makes them more 2012. Check ‘em out:

Yves Saint Laurent Ombres 5 Lumières – 5 Colour Harmony For Eyes in 5 Riviera ($58)

Maybelline EyeStudio Color Tattoo 24 Hour Cream Gel Shadow in Tenacious Teal ($6.99)

NARS Duo Cream Eye Shadow in Burn It Blue ($34)

Do you like these colors? Think you’ll experiment with blue shadow soon? And if you’ve seen Moonrise Sunshine, let me know what you thought in the comments section. I can’t get the movie outta my head!