Friday, 23 October 2009

I Love Thee: Jane Iredale PurePressed Base SPF20


You all know how much I adore Jane Iredale products after having read my Letter to Jane Iredale. With this brand, it was the beauty within that had captured my heart.

This marks the first of a series of posts featuring products that I use and absolutely love. While many are from the Jane Iredale brand, products from other brands may be featured as well.

About Thee
The name is Jane Iredale PurePressed Base. It is a pressed mineral powder foundation with a choice of 24 shades, divided into four categories – neutral, warm, cool and global. The warm shades have yellow undertones, the cool have pink undertones, the neutrals are for those with very fair skin tones while the global shades are suitable for those with tanned and darker skin tones.

The make-up of this foundation is pretty simple, as evidenced by the list of ingredients:

Titanium Dioxide 14%, Zinc Oxide 3% Mica, Boron Nitride, Dimethicone, Stearic Acid, Plankton Extract, Algae Extract, Pine Bark Extract, Pomegranate Extract. May contain: Iron Oxides, Ultramarines.

The extracts are what Jane Iredale calls good-for-skin ingredients as they are antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties and serve as protection against UV radiation, just to name a few.

This foundation comes dressed in a luxurious gold round compact with a mirror under the lid and an application sponge.

How I Use Thee
I always first apply a good facial moisturiser to cleansed skin and wait till the moisturiser is fully absorbed into the skin before applying PurePressed. Otherwise, it would appear blotchy on the face.

To apply, Jane Iredale recommends using her Handi Brush (a flat-top brush) or her Kabuki Brush, the former being the preferred choice. I, though, tend to use the Kabuki Brush. I just swirl the brush in the foundation without picking up too much powder and apply it to the face with a light hand in downward strokes. It is best to apply in thin layers and gradually build it up for the desired coverage. Never apply too thickly at one go or press into the skin with a sponge, says Jane Iredale. Committing this crime would cause the individual minerals to separate and make the face shiny. The application sponge that comes in the compact is to be used only for minor touch-ups, by the way.

PurePressed may also be used as a concealer by dabbing the area/spot with a small brush. However, I think this would work only for lighter spots. For more conspicuous scars, a concealer is recommended.

Why I Love Thee
The beauty about mineral foundations is that it is possible to go two or three shades lighter or darker and you would still look fine. According to Jane Iredale, this is due to “the way the mineral foundations interact with light in ways that adjust to your skin tone”. For example, I belong to the warm category and my staple shade is Warm Sienna. I also have Latte which is a global shade and is, in my amateur estimation, about two shades darker than Warm Sienna. I’ve used Latte on its own outside of the summer months without any problems at all.

The foundation feels light on the face, so I never have the sensation of wearing a mask. Its coverage is quite sheer and matte.

It is long-lasting, even in hot and humid conditions, and it doesn't get rubbed off easily. Jane Iredale recommends reapplying after prolonged sun exposure, excessive perspiration or after towel drying. With towel drying, only pat the face dry and not wipe. Washing it off is easy and fuss-free - just use any cleanser.

It provides UVA/UVB SPF 20 broad spectrum sun protection. A foundation that is also a sunscreen.....how convenient!

To those fearful of potentially toxic evils, you'd be glad to know that this product has no colourants and parabens.

Most importantly, it doesn't break me out. I would attribute this to the absence of talc, oils and bismuth oxychloride. Perfect!

Why I May Not Love Thee
All right, let’s get real and I will say why you may not love this foundation: it doesn't come cheap. It is priced at US$49.50 for 9.9g / 0.35oz. It used to have a US$46.00 price tag, which I thought was already dear!

I believe the price increase coincided with the design revamp of the gold compact not too long ago. This revamp has resulted in a different look on the lid which now has a huge logo across, and a magnetic opening/closing has replaced the previous press-in latch (product pictured is with the old compact). However, the good thing about the new compact is that it is now refillable with refills priced at US$40.00. All one has to do is push a pin through a tiny hole at the bottom of the compact to remove the used pan.

Final Words To Thee
All said, I will stick with this foundation for as long as it maintains its inner beauty. Its superior qualities far outweigh its steep price and that’s why I still say: I love thee.

More information can be found on the Jane Iredale website and my other posts on this brand, including my Letter to Jane Iredale.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Usual Unusual Ingredients - Gemstones


Let’s face it. We are constantly surrounded by beauty products containing nourishing plant extracts and seed oils. We don’t blink when we see names like aloe vera, olive oil or wild roses. Resources from the sea and the soil such as sea salt and kaolin are nothing new. Neither are beeswax and royal jelly. Since time immemorial, natural resources have been used for healing and for beauty.

But wait. I spy something sparkly in the list of ingredients. Nestled somewhere between dimethicone and methylparaben are the words sapphire powder. Huh? Bling bling in my makeup??! That sounds really cool but I do wonder if this is all nothing but hollow marketing hype.

Well, the idea is hardly new though. Gemstones were already used by the ancient Egyptians not just for jewellery but also to make cosmetics. One of the gemstones used by them was malachite, a green ore of copper. Malachite is a mineral gemstone which is also called peacock stone because of the swirling concentric rings that look like the peacock eye. Grounded finely, it was used as green eyeshadow, known to the Egyptians as Udju. Lapis lazuli was also used for the same purpose by the wealthy upper-class.

As a slight digression from gemstones, I should add that the Egyptians also used galena, a dark grey ore of lead. Galena is actually an ore mineral and not a gemstone. It was grounded into a powder and was also used by the Egyptians as eye paint or kohl. This was given the name Mesdemet.

Back then with the eyes drawn almond-shaped and beguiling, it really wasn’t just because of pure vanity that they wore eye makeup. It was also out of spiritual belief and necessity. The Egyptians believed that by drawing a dark line around the eyes, they would be protected from the Evil Eye. Also, malachite was associated with Hathor (image left) who was a goddess of many things, one of which was Goddess of Love, Music and Beauty. She was also known as Lady of Malachite because malachite was mined in Sinai, which was Hathor’s spiritual domain. So, it was believed that anyone who applied powdered malachite would be placed under the protection of Hathor. On the practical side, galena was useful as a disinfectant and was good for deterring disease-carrying flies. The dark colour applied under the eyes also served as protection from the merciless Egyptian sun by absorbing sunlight and minimising reflection.

Fast forward a few millennia and beauty companies are now what I would call being forward-thinking-by-looking-backwards in offering consumers beauty products containing gemstones of all sorts. Take for example, Rituals Cosmetics. I mentioned before that it has an entire range of gemstone makeup, christened Pure Beauty. Under this concept, every Rituals makeup product (makeup brushes excluded, of course) contains elements of a gemstone. The face products contain amethyst, the eye makeup products have sapphire and the lip and nail products contain ruby. Physicians Formula has an exclusive blend of pink, orange and white sapphire, green tourmaline and citrine in its Mineral Wear 100% Mineral FaceBrightener. Aveda has a range of eye and facial creams containing tourmaline, this collection being aptly called Tourmaline Charged. Borghese’s nail lacquers contain what it calls micronised gemstones which include amethyst, citrine, tourmaline, rubiosa and aquamarine. I’ve also recently discovered a Dutch nail polish brand that includes topaz in its formula!

And then, there is the girl’s best friend. Sally Hansen has Diamond 12-hour Lip Treatment which literally contains microfine diamonds. Why, just last week, I purchased a nail product from the same brand, with a very mouthful name of Diamond Strength – Diamond Shine Base & Top Coat. I had to see the ‘D’ word for myself and so promptly scrutinised the ingredients list. There it was, the second last item on the list: Diamond Powder!! The image below is a snapshot of the ingredients list. Heck, even Madonna’s makeup artist used a combination of crushed diamonds and white Shu Uemura eyeshadow to give the star’s eyes extra sparkle during her Sticky and Sweet Tour. Oh, you can also take a shower with Nivea’s Diamond Touch Creme Oil Shower and wash your hair with Nivea’s Diamond Gloss Shampoo, both of which contain diamond powder (I kid you not!). I’m gobsmacked. I can actually buy a shower cream containing diamond powder for the same price as one that contains shea oil. Go figure!


So, what’s the deal? Why gemstones? Well, I suppose it depends on which gemstone you’re talking about. Sometimes, it is for their light-reflecting properties to give intense shine and radiance. The use of diamonds is a case in point, although I can’t help but wonder why one would shower with a product with diamond powder – it all gets washed down the drain pipes anyway! But according to Nivea, the fine diamond particles in its shampoo enable the hair to reflect light, thus leaving it looking glossy.

Tourmaline is often used because of its unique ionic properties. It has been scientifically proven that it can become electrically charged when heated, having positive charge on one end and negative charge on the other, and is therefore useful in hair styling tools like straighteners and hairdryers. The negative ions generated by tourmaline hairstyling tools help to remove static which causes hair to frizz and it also helps to close the layers of hair follicles, allowing the hair to look smooth and shiny. In cosmetics, tourmaline is used for its revitalising properties as it is said to be able to boost the skin’s energy and radiance.

With the other gemstones, well.....I think this is where the mysticism of gemstones comes into play. Ruby, for example, symbolises life and warmth and is therefore good for stimulating blood flow and detoxifying the body. Amethyst is good for the mind. It brings clarity of mind, calmness and soberness. Sapphire symbolises loyalty and fidelity. It is said to strengthen intuition. Topaz helps to heal wounds and can dispel anger and sadness. Etc, etc, etc.

It’s intriguing. I struggle with whether I should be a believer or a skeptic in the mystical powers of gemstones. But more importantly, how far would you believe the companies who claim to have gemstones in their products? I guess for me, it’s not a matter of “Does the product really contain gemstone?” but more a matter of “How much?”

How much gemstone does the product really have? I’ve been checking out the ingredients list of many of these products. Sometimes, the gemstone element is shown somewhere at the bottom of the list, before the preservatives and/or colour additives. With some other products, they could be item no. 7 in a list of about 40 ingredients. As convention goes, the ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance/concentration (with some exceptions). So, I suppose, in many cases, the gemstone element, while present, could be minimal. Another question: How much of a gemstone must there be in a product to bring forth its mystical benefits? Hmmm, who’s to know?

So, do these products contain only a token quantity of gemstone elements, just sufficient to qualify to be on the ingredients list? And if they are on the ingredients list, the name of the gemstone can then be flaunted on the front of the packaging. That would always help with publicity. I came across an eye-opening article the other day, entitled Are There Actually Gemstones in This Makeup?. Have a read if you have the time. Note: I’m not affiliated in any way to the writer of the article and the website.

I can’t pass judgement on the claims made by the beauty companies. I can only ask questions as I am no expert. I wouldn’t know if what I read is the truth or the twisted truth, so I would sum up my thoughts this way: I want to believe BUT I do not want to be fooled. These days, I try to take what I read with a pinch of salt. In my future reviews of beauty products containing mineral gemstones, I will review the products from the point of view of a layman. I will mention if it contains gemstones but that would be as far as it goes.

You would understand why, wouldn’t you?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

The Usual Unusual Ingredients - An Introduction



Diamonds for dazzling lips, sapphire for a glowing face, pearls for smooth youthful skin and silk for shiny hair.

It used to escape my attention when I saw beauty products with phrases like diamond gloss, silky glow and pearl shine in the names. Firstly, this was for me the pre-beauty awakening era, an era of disinterest and ignorance. I would see the products on TV or in stores and then, I would move on without batting an eyelid. Secondly, I had thought that these were just concocted names to entice customers. If a nail polish brand promises to give you nails as shiny as diamonds, I thought it was just a figure of speech. Little did I know that it’s to be taken literally for many products these days!

Pardon my naivety, but I would much sooner associate diamonds, ruby, pearls and silk with jewellery and clothing or something that is used to slice through glass or to make parachutes. So, the idea of a run-of-the-mill face cream or a shampoo containing such ingredients which connote luxury and opulence seemed lost and rather far-fetched to me.....until quite recently when I started delving into this subject.


My curiosity was aroused when I discovered Rituals Cosmetics’ range of gemstone & mineral cosmetics called Pure Beauty (see image above). If you’ve been following my blog, you would know that I’ve become very interested in this brand and have made several purchases of its products. I have written a couple of reviews on its body care products and was going to post reviews on some of its makeup items. I’ve however decided to delay that so that I can first write about what I’ve learnt of this realm of gemstone makeup. Anyway, one thing led to another and I’ve ended up also finding out about other rather unusual ingredients that are infused into our cosmetics today.

All right, perhaps the word ‘unusual’ may seem exaggerated to some of you seasoned beauty afficionados but errr, please keep in mind that the tag line of my blog is My Beauty Awakening. It's a long road and little Miss Ignorant here is still learning something new everyday.

Lately, I’ve been paying more attention to what’s written on the product packaging, in particular, the list of ingredients (which I wish were in larger print as I’m rather sight-challenged!). Never mind the talc or propylene carbonate or the parabens. I’m talking about ingredients like sapphire, tourmaline and silk. It’s becoming more common now to see such items listed as ingredients of beauty products. Take a look at the beauty products that you have in your cupboard. You just might spot the word ‘diamond’ somewhere. I know I was stumped the first time I saw that word on the ingredients list of a shampoo in a drugstore. I had to blink and read it three times to be sure!

I confess that I’m overcome with fascination but hopefully I won’t be gripped with delusion. So it would be great if you could join me further in exploring the curious world of The Usual Unusual Ingredients. Posts coming up soon!