Wednesday, August 12, 2015

How Ginger Got Her Brows Back

So, I have a genetic condition called alopecia that leaves me eyebrow-less.  To top that off, all of my eyelashes fall out every couple of month.  Trust me when I say it makes life interesting for those who suffer from it.  My cousin experienced her first bout of alopecia just days before her senior pictures were to be taken.  Poor girl.  At least I am a blond and can mostly slide by with no facially defining hair. I know It’s not the worst of medical conditions, but life really is easier with eyelashes to keep dust and debris out of your eyes. You never really think about these things until you’re faced with a situation like this.
So, I just started at a new company Salonceuticals, the formulaters of  Regenepure.  I have been in the cosmetic/beauty/personal care industry for a very long time but, hair loss/restoration/regeneration is a new segue for me.  A new market means I have to dig my heels (or flip-flops in my case) and learn the industry inside and out.  As part of the process, I started using the products about a week before coming on board.  Granted, I do not have typical hair loss but I have to understand and experience anything I sell.  It’s my M.O.  I actually really enjoyed the Intense Volumizing Biotin Conditioner.  My crappy, frizzy, tangled hair loved it.  Great, right?  Well, what happened next was quite amazing.
I turned to my coworker and made the off handed remark that I had been taking our Advanced Hair Loss Supplement for a week and my eyebrows and eyelashes had started growing back.  My own words didn’t really sink in at that moment but, that night as I was washing my face I took a good hard look.  Sure enough, I had eyebrows!   Upon closer inspection, I also found little eyelash nubs.  They weren’t due to grow back for about a month.  Could it be?  Do I dare hope that the vitamin supplements are responsible?  What I found after reading article after article about hair loss in general and eyebrow/eyelash issues was that many times vitamin deficiency was to blame or significantly contributed if there was an underlying health issue like alopecia.  Light bulb on and burning bright!  My eating habits are DREADFUL and taking the supplement gave my body what it needed to manufacture hair.  Bingo!  Sold!  Who knew a hair loss supplement targeted at balding men would give me back the ability to express surprise (raised eyebrows) or anger (furrowed eyebrows).

Regenepure Essentials Advanced Hair Loss Supplement with Biotin – it’s how Ginger got her brows back.  True story.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Easy DIY Skincare that my 6 year tenure with a manufacturer that produced high end clinical skin care has ended, I am ready to pull back the curtain and give you a peek inside. Why would you want to know where your face cream comes from? Well, I believe that knowledge is power and if you only knew what really goes into making that bottle of lotion you may just want to make it yourself (and its easier than you think!). Who wouldn't want to eliminate unnecessary or harmful chemicals from your routine? How awesome would it be to save a ton of money AND improve the quality of your face products? Let me help you out with that.

Now, before you go throwing out all of your Clinique and Estee Lauder you should know that there are a few down sides to DIY skin care. If you opt to totally eliminate preservatives, you may have to resort to making small batches on a weekly basis and may need to refrigerate your concoction (depends on the ingredients used). Accuracy can also be a challenge unless you own a small scale to measure the ingredients so, willingness to accept small variances from batch to batch will be helpful. OK, that covers the "cons" category. The "pros" list is much longer - customize your products, preservative free skin care, maximum potentency, cost effective, easy, fun and you get to skip the mall!

Everything you need to make your own skin care can be purchased online - seriously. Whether you want to whip up organic baby butt balm for your newborn or have decided to reclaim the garage to start up your own line, there are websites that will provide everything you could ever want in your jar. The two that I highly recommend (based on quality of ingredients and selection): and Here you will find the same actives and ingredients you find in the highest end department store brands along with formulas, ingredient calculators, containers and even intro kits!

Does it sound too easy? It is. There is no need for a fancy lab with huge mixing kettles and filling machines. A little time, some basic math and a refrigerator are all it takes to be successful. Good luck and have fun!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Addicted to the needle - fillers and botox

 Have you been thinking about taking the plunge? Maybe just a little filler here and a little Botox there?  Maybe you just want to chase away those crow's feet or that deepening line in your forehead.  What about plumping up your pencil thin lips?  What's holding you back?  Those "celebrities gone bad" face photos you googled?  Think it is going to be wicked expensive or excruciatingly painful?  If lack of knowledge is keeping you from looking younger and feeling better about yourself, let me help.  I have had countless needles stuck into my face for the sake of beauty and I loved every minute of it.  Let me lend you some of my personal (and numerous) experiences provide you with some valuable tips to guide you on your journey:

RULE #1  Be wary of cheap prices when it comes to Botox! Ask the clinician what their dilution rate is to truly judge if your getting what you pay for. Allergan, the makers of Botox, give these guidelines:
  • 2.5ml of sterile saline for a 100 unit vial of Botox
  • 1.25ml of sterile saline for a 50 unit vial of Botox
 If you get an answer of anything less than this, your getting a watered down product and should not expect the results to be as effective/last long. You will also find that you need to go back more often for a “refill” which can end up costing more in the long run. When mixed at the recommended percentages, the effects of Botox typically last 3 months or more (depends on how many units go into one area).  You can expect to need 20-40 units per area of correction.  If the practitioner quotes in units, ask how many will be needed for each specific area.  If you are given a dollar amount per area, ask how many units that would be and break down the price per unit. You MUST know the per unit price in order to accurately know what you are paying for.  Normal price ranges are $10-$15 per unit.  Remember - if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely IS.

     There are numerous dermal fillers on the market and new ones being added every time you turn around. Do your research before going to your consultation so that you already have an idea of what you may want. Each filler has pros and cons as well as guidelines for where it should and should not be used. If someone wants to use Radiesse to fill out your tear troughs, RUN because the makers specifically state where their filler can and cannot be used.  Some are superficial while others are deep tissue and you never want to mix and match them. Some fillers last 3 months, some 2 years....some have lidocaine built in for a virtually painless injection.....and cost fluctuates in accordance to these variables. Know the variables and you can break down the cost for a more accurate comparison.

When it comes to the person holding the needle, experience is Crucial! Many publications recommend that you should only seek out a plastic surgeon or dermatologist for these treatments. This is true IF these doctors perform injections on a daily basis AND have performed a multitude of treatments. There are many practitioners, such as medical aesthetitians or aesthetic nurses/nurse practitioners, who are equally qualified and, in some instances, have a better hand. These folks are usually trained by the manufacturer and do injectables as the majority of their business. This, by no means, implies that you should let your podiatrist or cardiologist stick you in the face with Botox. Ask lots of questions - How many treatments do you do in a day? Who trained you and how many hours was the training? How long have you been working with_______ (Juviderm, Botox, Evolve, etc.).

These tips and tricks may seem like logical things to ask but, in the heat of the moment, its easy to become impulsive and “Just Do It”. Trust me when I tell you that doing your homework can save you from a lot of misery down the line!

God drives a Hyundai

Today I met God..... and she was driving a Hyundai Accent. Mind you I am not an overly religious person but, sometimes there are things you can not ignore.

I've been struggling with a decision for the last 24 hours however, on my way home I decided to go with my conscience and do something I know would not sit well with my husband or my immediate plans for the future of our family.   I just knew it was the right thing to do but, it would also complicate my life immensely come November.

I had lost one of my beloved dogs just a few short days ago.  I should preface this by saying they are like children to me and this loss was tearing up my heart and soul. I'm a foster mom to these “throwaways” and have taken in a lot of fur babies that I know don't have long on this planet. It's not an easy task but, it brings me a purpose in life (along with the sorrow).

I had just recently suffered a devastating blow with the abrupt loss of my Bimini (a stunning black and tan Pekingese whose original "mommy" threw him away once he could no longer breed). He had only been with me for a little over year. I loved him with all my heart and called him my little hippie boy. He was the most peaceful, sweet, loving animal I've ever known. My heart was broken just as it had been with the 2 losses just 4 months prior.

So, when I see this pathetic little waif of a dog in need if a savior I went into stress mode. How can I help without taking on the responsibility?  We are moving in November and it is so much easier to find a place that allows 2 dogs.  Three dogs, no matter what size, is almost impossible! But she was crying out to me through her photo that was circulating via social media and  I was being told that the rescue I work with is not going to save her. Ugg!  

Against my better judgment, I stop by the county animal control to see her after work today. The minute I lay eyes on this little angel I knew what I have to do. Phone calls are made, the plan was set and I push the button. Tomorrow I would pick her up and bring her home, get her well and most likely never let her leave my life.

As I am on my way home struggling with the decision (made without consulting my husband) and rehearsing my speech I convince myself 3 is my lucky number and all would be well. Long ago, I had made a vow to always have one special needs dog in my home to "pay it forward". I have 2 super great young pups I share my life with but, one of them had been purchased at a pet store. Only later did I learned about the horrors of puppy mills and that this is where "pet store puppies" come from. I had such guilt and needed make it right (thus the rescue work began). I make very effort to sell it to myself so my pitch to my husband is rock solid as I sit at a red light talking to myself. Next to me I hear "beep beep". I almost NEVER look over because it is almost invariably an asshole wanting to cut in front of me or some similar form rudeness. But I did, and there was God.

Next to me sat a "grandma" type woman with blonde "grandma" styled hair in an orange Hyundai Accent hatchback - exactly like the one I was driving. She looked at me, flipped me a double thumbs up and smiled.  I smiled back, then laughed, then cried as I pulled away when the light turned green. This was my sign. I was doing the right thing and the powers that be felt it was important enough to deliver the message personally. The emotion from that experience was so strong that just writing about it now, 3 hours later, is making me cry. I saw me, like a future reflection, telling myself "good job". It was dumbfounding and overwhelming and astounding. I am still scratching my head....I can't recall her face and I would not be able to recognize her again, but that smile and thumbs up brought me to my knees and changed the course of my life.  Mhysa is here safe, sound and saving me in my dark hours.

So, yes Virginia (I hate it when people ask me if Ginger is short for Virginia, but bear with me here) there is a higher power and she drives a Hyundai hatchback just like mine.

Friday, January 20, 2012

At Home Chemical Peels - Are They Safe?

Working for a manufacturer that produces and sells chemical peels on the open market, the most common question I get asked is “Are peels safe for home use?".  It's not a question of whether the peels are safe really…. it boils down to how intelligent the user is. I hate to be blunt but, so many people will jump into things head first without even doing the most basic amount of research.  

Buying and using a chemical peel is like purchasing a chainsaw to cut down a tree. If you know how to use a chainsaw, you will most likely be successful and keep all your limbs. If you have never touched a chainsaw in your life, make sure you have really good medical insurance before you start it up. And why do these folks always buy the most powerful, dangerous “chainsaw” available then try to hold the “chainsaw company” at fault when things go bad?

Of course, the majority of consumers operate at a higher level of responsibility – asking questions, following instructions, using caution, and consulting professionals.  If you have this skill set, at-home chemical peels can be perfectly safe and a great way to rejuvenate your skin without having to spend a ton of money.

There are a certain key points to make, having said that:  1) all at home chemical peels are created equal,  2) not all companies offering peel solutions are scrupulous  3) YOU MUST BE ABLE TO CALL THE COMPANY.  This is where we circle back around to due diligence, researching, asking questions, and knowing information about the company you're purchasing from.  If you're buying a "mix it yourself" chemical peel from Ebay, you can count on something going awry.  Never purchase a peel under a "free trial".  It is never free, 9 times out of 10 you cannot reach a human, GOD only knows what you are getting and you can be pretty sure they are going to hit your credit card for a hefty amount within 4 weeks.  

So what question should you ask?  What's easy!  First of all, make sure you can get a hold of them via the phone, they have an address posted on the website, and you hit the jackpot if they offer phone consultations.  Things like “do you manufacture your products?”, “what is the pH of your peel solutions”, “are your raw materials made in the US?”  are just a few to help you feel out the company.  All peels have 3 components – percent of acid, pH level, and buffered or unbuffered.  In order to compare apples to apples, you need to know those 3 components on all peels you are considering.  And if you have NO experience in peeling, have them help you select the solution to be sure you are getting the correct one.

Remember, you may be saving a ton of money but, you are losing out on the professionals expertise.  This is why doing your homework is so important.  Below are a few pointers to help guide you:

         SCALY SKIN CONDITIONS (psoriasis, sebaceous dermatitis, eczema). 

Oh, and “peeling” doesn’t mean you will always have big chunks of skin falling off your face.  Some peels show little to no visible shedding BUT that doesn’t mean they don’t work!  Good luck and happy peeling! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Skin Care - the good, the bad, and the ridiculous.

Yes, there is actually a face cream with a $10,00 price tag.  Is it the best thing you could possibly use on your face?  It's highly unlikely that ANYONE can pack enough actives into a 1oz jar that would justify that amount of money.  If the container was a jewel encrusted platinum vessel or each purchase included a specially trained monkey that applies the concoction for you, there may be cause to consider this option.  Alas, all you get is a jar of cream.

So how do you sift through the BS and get good stuff for a reasonable price?  That's the easy part.  Shop for your face products like you shop for your groceries - READ THE LABELS!  Sounds like a breeze but, you need to know what you are looking for - the good and the bad.  Cosmetic companies don't make it easy and loose government regulations for cosmetics give companys license to be shady.  Case in point - Parabens.  They have become the big, bad, boogieman of ingredients.  Most of this is based on a study were some scientist fed lab rats 5lbs of parabens over 2 years and they ended up getting cancer.  Conclusion - use parabens, get cancer.  What they don't tell you is 1) Domesticated rats live for about 2-3 years max and almost always die of tumors/cancer  2) Parabens are used as a preservative.  If you don't put a preservative in face creams, you would have little nasty things growing in there that are way more dangerous than parabens.  Even with all this swirl going on, major cosmeceutical lines still use them so.....are they really that scary or is it marketing mumbo jumbo?  Below is a list of THE GOOD (what you want to see on the label) and THE BAD (what you don't want to see).  Keep in mind, the placement on the ingredient list is important - the closer to the top, the higher the concentration.  This plays a role in pricing and efficacy.

hyaluronic    quite simply one of the best ingredients you can use on your skin.  Also known as sodium hyaluronate, this little wonder helps restore skin water levels (dehydrated skin lacks water - even oily skin can be dehydrated), heals and maintains the health of skin, and naturally plumps due to the fact is can hold 1,000 times its weight in water.  

vitamin c    plain old vitamin c, better known as L-ascorbic acid.  It helps with fine lines, discoloration, acne, and prevents free radical damage.  There are many types of Vitamin C....L-ascorbic is the one you want to use for the best results.

squalane    derived from olives and highly refined, this oil is almost identical to the sebum (oil) your skin produces.  It has anti-bacterial properties, is noncomedogenic (won't give you pimples), helps retain moisture (great for those long, cold winter months).  It can be used alone for those who want a 100% preservative free moisturizer.

So, there you have it.  3 ingredients you shouldn't be without.  Of course, there are others that help and enhance a product.  These are ACTIVES and they make a serum or cream do its "job".  Below is a list of performance ingredients that you may also want to look for and why.
      • salicylic - if you have oily skin and acne
      • argireline - (acetyl hexapeptide-3)  anti-wrinkle
      • arbutin - suppresses areas of discoloration
      • glycolic - refines skin surface for anti-aging
There are so many more and I could never list them all.  Do your research, pick the ones that are time tested, and once you find something you like/that works, STICK WITH IT.  Trust me when I tell you, until someone invents a radical new delivery system, topically applied skin care can only do so much. 
The bad is really bad.  There are ingredients that are useless but, harmless.  Thisis not what I am referring to.  There are ingredients used in cosmetics that are actually harmful to your skin.  Now, some of these are obvious like mercury, formaldehyde, and lead.  You would never think of buying a product with mercury on the label, right?  Well, that doesn't mean it's not in there.  Be wary of products manufactured in China and India.  If an ingredient is less than 1%, it doesn't HAVE to be listed in the ingredients as per the FDA guidelines.  Yes, I said 1%.  To be honest, you will never really know exactly whats in your bottle unless you send it out for advance micro testing. 

The ingredients that WILL show and you want to avoid are: hydroquinone (carcinogen), formaldeyhde (carcinogen), DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (these last 4 release formaldeyde in the body). 

You can look on the internet and find tons more but, just like the parabens - it's best to not take things on face value.  Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is on the no-no list however, there are varying grades and the lower the grade, the more irritating to the skin.  Do your homework! 

Losing a "fur-mly" member

Growing up, getting married and having a family is the universal dream for most people.  Soccer moms, dad and son day at the ballpark, family vacations….who doesn’t want that right? 

Well, there are a growing number of adults who are foregoing the “ideal” family and devoting their lives to adopting, loving, rearing, and spoiling pets just as they would a human child.  Whether they opt to remain single and fill the house with fur babies or their human children are long gone with lives of their own, this special group of people love and cherish the animals who share their lives just like genetic members.  So, when they pass away, the sorrow and grief can be just as intense.  For those who don’t understand this special bond, it may be hard to show proper sympathy or compassion during this time. 

Why shouldn’t we love Fido or Jinxy just as much as a sister, brother or offspring?  Pets give unconditional love and only ask for minimal payback – feed me, keep me warm and safe, pet me.  They forgive us when we mess up, don’t hold grudges, protect us, and clean up the crumbs we drop on the floor.  Doctors have long touted the benefits of owning pets.  They lower our blood pressure, reduce stress levels, calm a nervous mind, make us laugh and smile, and can soften even the hardest soul.  This becomes especially beneficial to those who have been traumatized, suffer from mental or physical disabilities, or are not socially integrated.  The elderly, who are often abandoned by children and isolated from friends, benefit greatly from animal companionship. 

With the loss of a much-loved pet comes pain, suffering, sense of loss, and grief.  Actually, such a strong connection can affect both the animal and the human.  There are legendary tales of dogs who have lost their owners and simply died from broken hearts.   People who have never experienced this amazing relationship should remember this devastating blow is real and the depth of despair can be deep.  Comments like “why don’t you just get another kitty/puppy?” are insulting during the recovery.  Would you tell someone who just lost their baby to “just make another one”?   They didn’t lose their favorite pair of shoes….they lost their constant companion, only friend, soulmate.  So, if you know someone who has recently lost a pet - have sympathy, show love, be understanding, and try to support them.  Let them grieve, let them cry, and let them tell you their “stories” about Fido, no matter how many times it takes.  Remember, their hearts are broken and they are looking for ways to heal.  And if you are someone who is healing from a recent loss, do not feel guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed that you weep for your fuzz child.  Be proud that you were blessed to have been loved by such as special animal.

Dedicated to Doris Strum and Gizzy.