Category Archives: education

$5 DIY Cleanser for Skin As Soft 'n Smooth As a Baby's Butt

Yesterday I ran out of my mediocre foaming facial cleanser — I use it because it was expensive and it removes my makeup pretty well, but frankly, it’s pretty much so-so. Well, in a pinch I used a little olive oil and a warm washcloth to remove my eye makeup last night. Aside from the obvious oiliness, I was quite pleased that my makeup came off completely and lickety-split, plus my skin stayed soft and supple around my eyes.

Today, instead of heading off to the department store in search of another high dollar, mediocre facial cleanser, I decided to make my own.

Based on the oil cleansing method — the gist of which insists that the best way to remove dirt and oil from your skin is to use oil (sort of like fight fire with fire?) — I grabbed some ingredients from my kitchen cupboard and bathroom medicine cabinet and got to work.

The result of my efforts was a cleanser than not only cleansed my face without stripping it but one that also made my skin super-smooth and soft.

Here’s the recipe and what I did:

In a kitchen mixing bowl, I threw in about 1/2 cup of olive oil, two tablespoons of liquid bath soap (castile or whatever you have is fine) two tablespoons of water, one tablespoon of plain glycerin (available at your local drugstore) and 1/2 teaspoon of Optiphen, a paraben-and-formaldehyde free preservative. Then I whisked everything together and poured it into my old facial cleanser bottle. That’s it.

I applied about a quarter-sized portion to my face and neck, massaged in circular motions for a minute and rinsed. Ah, clean, soft, smooth skin.

Total cost for my new fabulous facial cleanser? Because I typically buy organic stuff, my version may be a little pricier than yours’ll be. All told, I made 4 oz. of safe, pure, effective, anti-aging, skin-softening cleanser for about $6.

Optional ingredients:

Also quite inexpensive, these ingredients can be found at bulk soap-making/skin care ingredient suppliers, health food stores or handicraft stores. Warning: If you add any of these to your recipe, be careful around your eyes as they could irritate and sting.

  • Alpha hydroxy acid – I always have some lactic acid in my bathroom cabinet (I know, I’m weird that way). Used regularly and in the proper amount, AHAs are gentle and effective anti-aging exfoliants. Add a teaspoon or so to this recipe.
  • White willow bark extract – a great source of salycin or beta hydroxy acid, WWBE is one of the best, most gentle exfoliants available. Plus it helps keep pores clean and blemishes at bay. 1/2 to one tablespoon is ample.
  • Essential oil – I like lavender because it’s good for your skin for countless reasons, and it smells divine. Other good ones include heliochrysum, lemongrass, tea tree, Clary sage, rosemary, sandalwood, rose or chamomile. Add a few drops up to 1/4 teaspoon to suit. Start with just a little to be sure it doesn’t irritate your skin — you can always add more later if you want.

Acne Myths and A Recipe to Clear It All Up

Acne in plain English …

  • Myth: Washing your face more often will help clear up acne

Reality:  Zits aren’t caused by dirt. Contrary to what you may have seen in advertising, pores don’t get blocked from the top down due to “impurities”. Rather, the walls of a pore stick together deep within the skin, starting acne formation. Far from keeping acne at bay, frequent washing may actually irritate pores and cause them to become more clogged. A washcloth can add even more irritation. The best bet is to wash your face gently with clean, bare hands, and only wash twice a day.

  • Myth: Stress causes acne

Reality: Stress may have an effect on hormones and theoretically can promote acne. However, an effective anti-acne system is more powerful than a bout of stress any day. Some medications may cause acne as a side effect, but stress itself is no big deal (for your skin, that is). Your time is better spent determining the right course of acne treatment rather than feeling stressed about stress.

  • Myth: Masturbation or sex causes acne

Reality: This totally antiquated notion, originating primarily to dissuade young people from having premarital sex, is just plain wrong. Don’t believe the hype. ‘Nuf said.

  • Myth: The sun will help get rid of acne

Reality: The sun may work in the short-term to hasten the clearing of existing acne while reddening your skin, thus blending your skin tone with red acne marks. However, a sun burn is actually skin damage. It’s important to prevent damage to your skin while trying to get rid of acne. Sun exposure causes irritation which can make acne worse. People will often notice their skin breaking out as it heals from sun damage. The sun is a short-term band-aid which will often bite back with more acne in the weeks following exposure. Having said that, I don’t want to give the impression that the sun is evil. It’s not. We get our vitamin D from the sun. Limiting sun exposure on acne prone areas of your body is prudent, but some exposure from time to time is not only unavoidable, but is perfectly okay. Just wear a good sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

Acne Cream Recipe

  • 1 ounce of Sea Kelp Bioferment
  • 1/4 tsp. of White Willow Bark extract (Salicylic Acid)*
  • 1/2 tsp Rosehip Seed Oil**

Dissolve willow bark extract in sea kelp, add rosehip seed oil and mix well. Leaves skin velvety soft! Best of all: it’s soooo inexpensive and effective.

*Do not use this recipe if you’re allergic to aspirin.

**If you’re afraid of the oil, FEAR NOT. Rosehip seed oil is one of the best things you can put on your face, oily skin or no. If for whatever reason you experience breakouts as a result of using this cream, mix up another batch without the oil.

all ingredients can be purchased from Bulk Actives ( and NCN Professional Skincare (

Cut Your Own Hair? Only As Long As You Follow This Guide!

I’ve cut my own hair for years. To be clear, I earned my barber’s license way back when. So, I don’t necessarily recommend you follow suit. I mean, I have good, solid professional training and experience, and I even manage to screw up from time to time…and when you screw up a hair-cut, there’s no undoing that ‘do. You just have to wait for it to grow out. And most of us have to go out in public–at least every once in a while…without a scarf.

That said, we have to balance the pricey cost of hair-cuts with the need to get a quick trim every 3-4 weeks. So, I was glad to find the following video that offers an easy step-by-step guide to trimming your own hair. If you decide to try this, follow these steps to a “T;” otherwise, leave it to a pro.

NOTE: If you have short hair, you’ll need some bobbi pins to pull your hair back as described in the video.

Beauty Q&A with GirlPaint: Free Advice for A More Beautiful You

Q&ARecently I became a member of MakeupTalk forum. I LOVE posting on forums, and not because I want to promote myself or my blog (although that’s a nice benefit if other members like my posts), but because I really, honestly like giving advice, tips, tricks and product reviews. It’s the reason I started blogging in the first place. I was working in an industry that cut me off from the beauty world, and I desparately needed to connect to my makeup-loving sister (and brothers).

Following is a condensed Q&A excerpted from my MakeupTalk forum posts.

Q. I’m African American and have desert hair that desparately needs moisture. Recommendations?
A. Coconut oil, definitely. And use a deep conditioner (recommended: Mizani Fufyl) when you shampoo.

Q. Should I tip beauty school students?
A. You should tip 10%. If they do an especially good job, you can tip more than 10%, and be sure to find out where they’ll be working when they fiinish school. If you split the tip, tip 10% of the TOTAL, and split it between the students based on the work they did.

Q. I’ve heard Bio Oil is good for your skin, but I don’t like the feeling of oils on my face. Can you recommend on something to put under my mineral makeup that will not clogs pores or cause break outs?
A. Try Korres Pomegranate Moisturizer. It’s light formula is made for people with oily/acne-prone skin, plus it contains SPF (bonus!).

Q. How do I get rid of dark circles under my eyes?
A. Lessening (NOT getting rid of) dark circles can happen, but it takes time. Many good products are out there to address the issue, but you’ll need to use them consistently (that means at least once a day…twice is better) for 3-4 months. I’ve been using Skin Actives Scientifics Bright Eye cream for over two years. It contains the best active ingredients known to help fix the problem, plus it’s only $17.50 and the .5 oz. jar lasts forever (for me anyway). I believe in SAS Bright Eye 100%, but realize that dark circles are, in large part, hereditary and you may still have to use undereye concealers if you want to camouflage them.

Q. Does anyone believe the Clarisonic Brush is worth it?
A. I’ve used a Clarisonic Brush myself, and on top of my own “thumbs-up,” I’ve also heard rave reviews from just about everyone who’s used one. But $200 is a lot to shell out for a face cleaning appliance. QVC offers a payment plan ($40/payment) that might be the way to go. Either that or purchase one locally and that way, if you don’t like it, you can return it (be sure you check out your retailer’s return policy).

Q. (Non-beauty related) When sending out resumes, should i put my cover letter and my resume all in the body of the email? Or should I send the cover letter in the body and attach the resume?
A. Send ONE email with the cover letter at the top and then copy and paste your resume underneath the letter. NO ATTACHMENTS unless the company specifically asks for them. Always send your resume in the body of the e-mail message, not as an attachment. Put the resume right in the message so the recipient will see it as soon as he or she opens the message. This technique also helps you get through e-mail systems that reject all attachments in this day of rampant computer viruses.

Q. Optical Illusion Dresses – Yea or Nea?

A. Optical Illusion Dresses look perfect….if you have a PERFECT body. Consider yourself warned.

Q. Did anyone else absolutely hate Bare Minerals?
A. I’ve never been a fan of BE/BM — too orange-y for me, plus it’s cakey on me. I make my own mineral foundation. It’s soooooo easy and sooooo inexpensive. I literally mix a little titanium dioxide w/ red oxide mineral powder with a mortar and pestle. You’d think it would be too pink, but those two ingredients work perfectly for me, plus the titanium dioxide gives me added sun protection.

Q. (Follow-up question) Where do you buy the ingredients to make your own mineral makeup? Does it provide any better coverage when you make your own?
A. Do a Google search for “mineral makeup ingredients” and “mineral makeup recipe.” You’ll find tons of info. And the mmu coverage can be customized, so you can make yours with light, medium or full coverage…or one of each!

Botox Follow-Up: WTF

Virginia BotoxSince my last post, I’ve all of a sudden become keenly aware of the new(est) Botox TV ads. The one that’s particularly bothersome, annoying and OMG-are-you-kidding-me features Virginia Madsen smiling dumbly, hanging out at the beach with her real life son, and blathering on about Botox.

I used to respect this actress…thought she had amazing talent…and was all about aging gracefully. I’m beginning to wonder.

The clincher Ms. Madsen closes with is, “Botox. It’s all about freedom of expression.”

And that’s where I go, “WTF?!” Did she honestly say that?

I can only imagine they’re paying her loads of dough because the entire goal of Botox (which is botulin toxin…the nasty germ that gives you killer food poisoning) is to freeze your face, preventing expression. Hello! I know lots of advertising distorts the truth (Extenze?), especially in the beauty industry. But come on. Botox takes the cake. Good luck “expressing yourself” with a face full of injected poison.

Is it just me, or is this really fucked up? Discuss.

GirlPaint here. I'm taking a momentary break from beauty to focus on success and inspiration. Here goes…

Image by Svilen MushkatovWhat is success? What is marketing? How do you make money on the internet?

All good questions (thanks, I thought so). I’ve been attempting to answer these questions for myself. And there are plenty of “experts” out there, both real and not-so-much. In fact, my yahoo reader is littered with lists of posts from top bloggers who write about these very topics every day. And, damn them, they make it all seem so easy.

Who are my favorites bloggers, you ask? Okay, well, you didn’t ask, but I’m going to tell you ‘cuz that’s just the kind of blogger I am.

One of my all-time favorites is Naomi Dunford over at Ittybiz. She’s my favorite writer. Her common-sense, plain-spoken approach to marketing and business is refreshing. Her personal story is compelling, and I wish I had her a fraction of her expertise (I’ll get there). Also, she writes in explicatives (sometimes). I like that.

Clay Collins, another fave, started The Growing Life, became blog-famous overnight then shifted directions with Finance Your Freedom. Clay speaks to me with his “quit your day job, get up late and work when you’re at your peak” message. Bless you, Clay, for giving me permission to sleep in. One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself is that I am NOT a morning person—I’ve accepted it, I’m okay with it, and it’s largely because of Clay. He’s the epitome of success in my book. He found something he’s REALLY good at, something that no one else has figured out nearly as well as him, and he actually likes what he does. He works for the clients he wants to and pretty much works the hours he wants. Plus, he makes a good living. He’s left himself plenty of breathing (and sleeping) room. I admire that.

Copyblogger (where incidentally Clay and Naomi have both contributed) is another favorite. I do a lot of things well, but writing copy isn’t one of them. I’ve been a top sales person, winning awards in every industry I’ve worked, but I’ve come to find out that sales success doesn’t necessarily translate into marketing and writing success. Granted, I have a few blogs and I enjoy writing posts well enough, but I struggle. Coming up with ideas for posts, writing them succinctly without a lot of sales jargon, and sounding like a human being when I write …frankly, it doesn’t come easy to a former sales goddess like me. So I turn to the best blog writers on Copyblogger for help. Their expert contributors give sound advice and tried-and-true techniques, and they do it all in a consistently smart and simple language I hope to emulate in my own writing. I want that.

Finally, there’s my husband and life-partner, Joe Ed White. He’s been an artist his entire life. And over the past five years, he’s become a screenwriter. Fact is he’s a born storyteller. His writing is fun to read, exciting…his screenplays are page-turners. He knows how to keep the action moving, develop character arcs — and his stories always contain an unexpected twist. I love that.

I could go on about writers and bloggers I enjoy, but there’s still those nagging questions I posed at the beginning of this post. Guess what? I still don’t have those answers. What I do know is that there are many answers. Reading blogs has yet to make me rich, successful or a marketer a la Donnie Deutsch (dammit). But, what it does do is give me encouragement through stories, information, writing styles and advice. And someday I will find my success… my favorite blogs and writers keep me inspired to keep digging for the answers to those nagging questions.

Image by Svilen Mushkatov

Got the Economy Blues? Beat 'Em with These Beauty Values

Economy got you down? Have you — like most everyone else — had to pare back your beauty regimen to just the basics? I’m here to tell you that just because there’s less money in the coffers (or in your pocketbook) you don’t have to give up on having the latest cosmetic finds.

Here are a few AMAZING values for your beauty box that won’t break the bank.

Smashbox Try Me collection
Smashbox Try Me collection, $29

Smashbox gives us sooooooo many options when it comes to looking for a great bargain. One of their best is the Try Me collection featuring best-selling signature items, all in portable trial sizes to give you a flawless face at home or on-the-go. For $29 (!!!), Smashbox generously includes Photo Finish Primer, Photo Op Under Eye Brightener, Brow Tech & Cream Eye Liner Pallette, Double-Ended Eye Liner & Brow Brush, Lip Enhancing Gloss in Crystal (sheer), and a special instructional DVD.

Sephora Deluxe Palette
Sephora Deluxe Palette, $32

Sephora’s Deluxe Palette (only $32 but valued at $200) is a sleek, triple-tiered compact that opens to reveal eyeshadow, blush, lip gloss, and powder on stackable, sliding trays. A selection of applicators and a mirror embedded under the lid give you all the tools to create a polished, impeccable look anytime, anywhere. This savvy, multitasking set has it all: 18 eyeshadows, two cream eyeshadows, two blushes, two compact powders, 24 lip glosses, two double-sided sponge applicators, a double-sided blush/powder brush, two lip gloss brushes, all in a chic black case.

Bare Escentuals Go Bare Kit $32
Bare Escentuals Go Bare Kit, $32

Bare Escentuals helps us beat the bear with its Go Bare Kit, a six-piece set of mini BareMinerals must-haves. This set features a miniature versions of Eyecolor in Joy, Blush in Golden Gate, Mineral Veil, Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish in Eva, a Contour Shadow brush, and a Flawless Application brush, all housed in a portable box with a built-in mirror.

So there you have it. It really doesn’t cost a fortune to look beautiful, or have the latest and greatest beauty buys from some of the best around….

Stila Shine On Gift of Glaze: another great value collection!

The Two Magic Ingredients for Lighter, Brighter Face

The latest studies show…

How many times have we heard that? Countless, I imagine. But guess what? Those “latest studies” are actually pointing to some real, actual results (this time).

So, I assume you’re here to hear ’bout the good-results studies on the two magic ingredients. Okay, here goes…

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, real, actual results from honest-to-goodness studies — Harvard, even — point to the effectiveness of glucosamine combined with niacinamide to reduce hyperpigmentation of the skin, especially in those with UV damage.

What’s this mean? In laymen’s (or laywomen’s) terms, using a topical combo of  glucosamine and niacinamide in the right amounts and, in time, you should see lighter, brighter skin.

Hey! That’s great!

But wait. Where do you find these magic ingredients? What is the “right” amount? And how long will it take before you get the glow?

Hold still, I’m not finished.

1. You can get glucosamine (in the effective form of N-acetyl-glucosamine, best known for helping treat arthitis prior to the skin care studies) and niacinamide (a vitamin B derivative) at most any bulk skincare actives retailer: Bulk Actives, Garden of Wisdom, The Herbarie or LotionCrafter. Just mix them into your favorite (non-active) facial moisturizer for a custom blend.

If you’d rather not DIY (do-it-yourself) your skincare, you can also find them together (ah, how sweet) in Olay’s Definity line.

2. The amount of each active, at least the amounts noted in the “studies,” suggest that 2% glucosamine and 4% niacinamide should do the trick.

3. How long must you wait to experience the magic? Try four to eight weeks.

Not bad, eh?

And guess what? The news gets even better. How, you ask? Glucosamine and niacinamide are both shown to be effective for all skin types (hear that, Sensitive Sally?), plus they’re inexpensive. Expect to spend about $6 (or less) for each active if you buy in bulk — doing so, you should have enough to last several weeks or more. And Olay is asking about $25 for their Definity complex.

Bottom line: light on your pocket book, bright on your face. Gee, sometimes those studies ARE right … and bright.

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