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Category Archives: cosmetics and makeup

Find Mascara For Your Eye Shape

Even though mascara is a staple for many makeup wearers, it’s one of the more misunderstood products in your kit. Mascara opens the eye to help you look more awake. Most think there is nothing to applying mascara—they swipe it on the lashes the same way, every time. But there are methods to apply it based on your eye shape that will transform your makeup into something that looks more polished and professional.

Every mascara application should start with these two easy steps:

Curl the lashes

Always begin with an eyelash curler. I like one with a silicone strip, like Kevyn Aucoin or Billy B Beauty. Gently press the band against the root of the lash and turn the curler until the curve is parallel to the crease of your eye. Press gently, release, and presto! This will give even the most stubborn lash a beautiful curl.

Basic mascara application

The next step is to apply your mascara at the root of the lash. My favorite trick is to bend the wand slightly to get right in to the base of the lash. Next, comb through the top lash, wiggling the wand gently as you work your way through. You want to brush through the top of the lash from root to tip, brush through the bottom of the lash from root to tip, and then weave the wand across back and forth through the lash until every individual hair is liberally coated on all sides. I recommend using both a lengthening and a thickening or volumizing mascara. I also prefer to use one mascara with a smaller brush and one with larger bristles—the combination of the two makes any lash look longer and more full.

Now let’s talk about eye shape and placement.

Wide-set eyes

Start with your curler and the basic application mentioned above, and be sure to coat all of your lashes. For wide-set eyes, I recommend working from the inner corner of the eye out towards the middle of the lid. You want the darkest area to be at the inner corner to create the illusion that the eyes are closer together.

Close-set eyes

For close-set eyes, we want to pull the eyes apart so the darkest part of the application needs to be at the outer corner. Curl and apply your first coat with a focus at the outer corner of the eye. Apply a second coat from the middle of the lash and work your way out. For more drama, add a liquid liner along the lash line or really pack the mascara in at the root to ensure that the darkest part of your mascara application is at the outer corner. This will give lift and the illusion that the eyes are further apart.

Smaller eyes

For for those with smaller eyes, the trick is to make them appear much larger and rounder with your mascara application. My suggestion is to use one coat of thickening mascara on the full lash. Next, use a lengthening mascara and brush it only in the center of the lid. This will draw focus toward the center of the eye and it will appear more open, wider and larger.

Almond-shaped

To enhance or create an almond-shaped eye, focus your mascara at the outer corner of the lashes on top and bottom. Try using a thickening mascara on the top lash with a second application from the center of the lid toward the outer corner. Then use the tip of your mascara brush or a smaller brush and liberally apply mascara to the bottom lash as well—but only at the outer corner. This will enhance or create an almond shape.

Round eyes

For round eyes the most prominent part of the application should be on the top lash line and the outer corner. Keep the bottom lash very minimal or leave untouched. Use a thickening mascara along the lash line, and if you want to play up the round shape, keep it focused towards the middle of your eye. If you want to make a round eye appear more cat-like apply more mascara to the outer corner.

Uneven eyes

For uneven eyes we want to pull focus away from the lid and the unbalanced shape. A smoky eyeshadow application and a heavy coating of mascara along the lash line will make this eye look its best. Stay away from light colors or color mascara which can accentuate unevenness.

Downturned eyes

For downturned eyes, use two colors of mascara to achieve the most impact. Brown mascara is just as beautiful as black and has the same presence. It also doesn’t pull all of the focus allowing you to feature a lip or cheek color. Add brown mascara along the bottom lash and black mascara onto the top lash focusing all of the color in the center of the lash and keeping the outer corner the most minimal mascara application to lift the eye.

Mascara can be worn alone or used to finish any application. The trick is to find the formulation and brush that work best for you. Something as simple as where you place the wand makes a huge difference in the finished look of your makeup.

3 Ways To Make Lip Liner Work For You

Everybody, and we mean everybody can benefit from a little lip liner. While lining your lips runs the danger of creating an outdated, overdrawn, unblended pout, it’s time to stop shying away from lip liner for fear it may leave you looking like a Real Housewife. Here are the real 3 ways to make lip liner work for you.

Nude: The Shaping Liner

Why use a lip liner that matches your skintone? Flesh toned liners can help shape your lips before lip products are applied by filling in parts of the lip area to match your face. This is a great technique for achieving dramatic looks such as a cupid’s bow shape, but it also works wonders for reshaping uneven lips—especially when finishing with a sheer lipstick or gloss that wouldn’t so easily mask the characteristic.

Matched: The Sharpening Liner

When you’re on the go, you don’t have time to fumble with a lip brush to get those sharp artist-esque lines every time you reach for a reapplication. Save energy by lining your lips first with a liner that matches as close as possible with your lipstick. You’ll get a crisp, creamy line that can be filled in with a smudge of lipstick. The center of your lip shade wears the fastest throughout the day while your liner is likely to stay put, so enjoy faster touch-ups that only require a swipe of lipstick with no edge lining drama.

Dark: The Contour Liner

Dark lip liner doesn’t have the greatest reputation, but a well-blended choice can work wonders for those who wish for fuller lips. Try lining lips in a dark shade and filling in with a creamy lipstick in a lighter shade. Using a lip brush, blend the shades together where they meet and you’ll end up with ombre results that look injection-worthy. Don’t want to step out looking like you’re auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race? The closer the shades are in the color family, the more subtle the results will be.

3 Ways to Play with Color Mascara

So you’ve been wanting to try color mascara, eh? Maybe you just bought some, or maybe you’re eyeing that cute green, cobalt, or burgundy shade online. But…how do you wear color mascara without having it be such a Look? Is there a way to wear color mascara for a subtle pop of color without having everyone for 300 feet know you are WEARING BLUE MASCARA?

Why, yes. Yes there is. You can combine a color mascara with your regular black or brown mascara, making your lashes look different and interesting without getting too bright. Color mascara in class or an office? Definitely! Color mascara for a meet-the-parents dinner? Why the heck not?

Just the tips

Grab your normal, everyday black mascara (we used Inglot Cosmetics Perfect Length Define Mascara, $13), and sweep it on your top and bottom lashes. Next, try a crazy color! We went with Inglot Cosmetics Colour Play Mascara in 02 Green, which is a highly pigmented, almost electric green, and applied it just to the tips of the top and bottom lashes. Presto! A subtle-yet-still-visible color on the tips of your still-proper eyelashes. You can’t even see it unless you get pretty close, but when you do, it’s like your entire soul suddenly gets how awesome this is.

Halfsies

For a more obvious look that is still not in “Rainbow Brite” territory, try swiping your top lashes with black mascara and putting color mascara on just your bottom lashes. This can be fun to try with gently varying shades, say, black on top and navy on bottom, or add a cobalt on the bottom for a little more oomph. This works especially well with blue shades, because they’ll make the whites of your eyes look brighter, the same way blue-based red lipsticks will make your skin tone look cooler. “You look different! But…why?” – Everyone at work.

Let’s Blend

Your black mascara is about to get a facelift. Sweep on a coat of black mascara, and then do a second coat of a vibrant color mascara of your choice (what about purple? or burgundy?) Look at that! Is it black mascara? No. Is it color mascara? No….or is it? Adding a coat of color mascara to black makes the black appear multifaceted and a bit more interesting, without making you commit to Krazy Kolor Lashes all the way.

Find the Best Eyeliner for You

Eyeliner is bigger than ever this summer, and it looks like the trend is headed straight into the next few seasons. But with so many different options of liner out there, choosing the right one can be overwhelming — which is best for a smokey eye? What do you use for a sophisticated, lashy style? What about that crazy look you are cooking up for a night out?

It all makes sense once you know the various formulations of liner and what each can accomplish. Here is a look at the products available and how each one can help you create the looks that will have everyone talking. Let’s get you educated!

Pencil eyeliner
Pencils are a must-have for every makeup bag. Used to achieve any look from soft and smudgy to deep and dramatic, pencils are easy to use and great for beginners and pros alike. Pencil liners allow you to line inside the eye, around the lash line, and can even be used as a base to intensify any eye shadow. They come in a variety of formulations ranging from typical wax formulas to traditional Kohl’s and, now, even long-wear waterproof options. The trick with pencils is to be sure you are choosing the formula that works in your environment and its placement in your makeup design. For inside the eye, my preference is Kohl or waterproof because both tend to be longer-wearing and more densely packed with pigment. Always be sure your pencil is sharpened and sanitary. Hold it like a writing pencil and use the whole tip, not just the point, to draw in your desired shape.

Liquid liners
Liquid eyeliners are a classic cosmetic product. First developed for use in film, they were integral in the  iconic makeup looks of the fifties and sixties. Liquid eyeliners are great for applying sophisticated cat eye looks, soft kitten kicks of color, or any of the sharp lines or graphic shapes we are seeing this season. Highly pigmented, these liners can look less dimensional then other types and come off a little flat, but they can be combined with other formulations to achieve more dimensional looks. Liquid eyeliners require a more steady hand and precise application. For more control, try the options in a more modern pen style applicator. Another tip to make applying a bit easier; create the shape with taupe eye shadow first and trace right over it with your liquid.

Gel eyeliner
There is heated debate in the beauty world when it comes to gel eyeliner vs traditional liquid eyeliner, but I believe they are not interchangeable. Each has very different properties and finishes. Liquid eyeliner lovers can’t get enough of the immediately sharp line that liquid will make. Gel eyeliner tends to be more generous and pliable, allowing you to build your line to the desired amount of drama. Gel eyeliner can also be easier for those that are not as skilled in liner application. It allows for more versatility, and can be used to create crisp hard lines or less dramatic, smokey effects. I also love dotting gel eyeliner along the lash line to create the illusion of a thicker lash. Gels tend to be longer lasting and waterproof, but unlike a liquid, they require the use of an additional brush.

Cream liner
Cream liners are the close cousin of the gel liners. They tend not to have the durability or wear of the gel formula, but many artists consider cream liner and gel liner to be interchangeable.

Powder eyeliner
Powder eyeliners offer endless possibilities and come in a variety of packages. They can be applied by choosing your favorite eye shadow and applying with a stiff angled brush the way you would use any other liner. This allows you to employ an endless array of colors and textures to achieve any makeup you might wish to design. Powders are ideal for a smokey eye and tend to be long-lasting. They can also be combined with other liner formulations to achieve the red carpet looks of your favorite celebrities.

People have been wearing pigment on their eyes since the time of ancient Egypt, and there may be no makeup more powerful in creating an impactful look. In one immediate swoop, eyeliner can reshape an eye, adding depth and dimension. While every formula has its own identity and advantages, my recommendation is to combine a few formulations for a look that is not only longer-lasting, but has presence and placement that is unforgettable.

Tips to Find Right Blush for You?

We like to think of blush as pretty foolproof. There’s no detail work to master, no lines to stay inside of, and it looks great on everyone. But we also think that there’s a little more to applying blush than just dusting it on. Carefully placed blush can manipulate the appearance of your face shape in sneaky ways, and without much effort (we’re not talking about those trendy seven layer step systems). Play around with the looks below to find what application meets your own beauty needs. The results may surprise you!

Center Blush

For those who wish to soften their bone structure or have a square-shaped jawline, this can be a game changer. Apply rounded bursts of blush to center of the cheek– right on the apple. It will have a rounding effect on your entire face. What’s more, center blush can have a widening effect on the eyes. Done correctly, you’ll look like a doll.

Lower Blush

If your face features a long or prominent chin, you can even things out by placing your blush just below the apples of your cheeks– over the bone. This creates the subtle illusion that the apples of your cheeks rest a bit lower, and will elongate the upper part of the face to keep you looking balanced.

Upper Blush

Popular in Japan, blushing underneath the eyes can create an either sickly, or youthful appearance that might be seen as an extreme for some. However, applying your blush up high can make a short face appear extra long. For those with small or round faces, it’s worth a try– keeping the blush just above the apples is a happy medium to blending it into your eye makeup.

Outer Blush

Contour blush (shading around the cheekbones and temples) can draw focus to the center of the face– a plus if your face is on the wider side. Do too much and you’ll look like a Ziggy Stardust revivalist (no complaints here!), but do a little and you’ll find it to be a subtle way to add structure without joining the contour club.

Full cheeks

It’s not for everybody, but BIG BLUSH can work magic on those with large or long faces. Coloring outside the typical blush lines can shorten the face significantly and even shape it, depending on whether you apply rounded pats or sweeping strokes. Try it with a subtle shade and skip the heavy eye and lip looks. That will keep your cheeks the major statement.

Tips to Getting The Right Eye Shadow

When it comes to choosing which eye shadow to buy, I am huge advocate of one simple truth: get the shade that makes you feel amazing. But to feel amazing, you need to feel confident. And when it comes to makeup, nothing gives you more confidence than a good understanding of color theory and how it applies to your natural eye color, hair color, and skin tone.

So, let’s give you some color theory basics so you can purchase with power. Below are some factors to consider when buying an eye shadow — whether you want an everyday look or instant drama.

Skin Tone  

Today, skin tones tend to be categorized into two columns, warm and cool. It doesn’t help that some makeup brands will categorize pink tones as warm and yellow tones as cool while others will do just the opposite, because the color wheel is divided down the center and yellow can be considered cool or warm.

But if you are aware of your undertone, you can navigate through all this product with decisiveness. To find out your undertone, check your veins. Our veins are naturally blue, so a yellow skin tone will have veins that appear more green. A pink skin tone’s veins will appear more violet.

If you have a warm skin tone, any warm eye shadow color will look more natural; if you are cool toned, any cool color will look more natural. Selecting shades further to the opposite sides of the color wheel will give you more drama.

Warm skin tones should try colors like bronze, vanilla, ivory, taupe, light and dark brown, pink, and coral. If you have a cool skin tone, play with pale blue, lilac, teal, gray and turquoise.

Eye Color

Using your own eye color to choose your shadow palette is a perfect way to put the focus exactly where you want it. Using an eye shadow shade that is complimentary to your eye color (one that is opposite on the color wheel) is an easy way to draw attention and make the eye pop or look more prominent. Choosing a shadow that lies close to your eye color (we call this analogous) will give a soft and easy effect that looks beautiful. Here is a simple breakdown.

Blue eyes – We know that orange is opposite blue, so anything in that color family or on either side of orange will create a lovely, dramatic effect. Try shades and tints of orange, red and yellow to get a ‘wow.’ Think copper, gold, peach, coral, pinks, and warm browns. For a more subtle look, something that is next to blue on the color wheel like violets, purples, or greens can create an unexpectedly natural look. Lilac, lavender, deep purple, plum, khaki, and olive are all excellent choices.

Green eyes – Eye shadow with red undertones like burgundy, maroon, and pink, or close colors like violet, lavender, peach, plum, and red are ideal complements to the green of the eyes. Warm metallics like red-based copper and bronze tend to bring out not only the green, but often accentuate the beautiful grey and brown flecks that green-eyed people tend to have.

Brown Hazel eyes – Brown is not boring. In fact, brown-eyed people are able to experiment with the widest variety of colors. Brown-eyed makeup wearers are lucky to have their pick of the lot — from warm, rich amber, copper, and gold tones to cool, slate-grey, charcoal, and lavender hues.

Remember that the three primary shades (red, yellow and blue) combine to make brown, so essentially the world is your oyster. Decide what effect you want to achieve and be creative.

Hair Color

Black/ Brown – Brunettes have more fun when it comes to choosing makeup as many eye shadow colors suit them well. Deep, dark colors like black, browns, and purples are perfect. And for a more natural look, neutrals like gold, beige, cream as well as lighter, softer shades of green, red and yellow all work well with dark hair.

Blonde – Blondes traditionally tend to have a fairer skin tone, meaning a softer palette will be more flattering. Color tints work well for fair skin, so try tints of your favorite reds (pink), oranges (peach) and violets (lilac) for a look that is sure to work.

Red – For a long time, red heads were limited in their options because of fashion norms, but these days, anything goes. Neutral shades will give a more natural look, but strong and bold greens are gorgeous for drama. Let your personality be your guide here and make your own rules.

Bold Color – In this “anything goes” age for hair color, people are wearing bright shades and mermaid-inspired looks. An easy tip to choosing eye shadow: complementary shades are for drama and similar colors are for a softer look.

Still feel a little nervous? If you are a beginner, you may want to buy a color wheel from your favorite art supply store — a great way to feel more secure with color theory.

Finally, one overall rule: matching your eye shadow with the color of your eyes will look dull and diminish the impact of both colors. This does not mean that blue-eyed people should not try blue shadow, or that brown-eyed individuals shouldn’t brush on a rust color. It just requires blending in complimentary colors to make the appearance more captivating.

Matching your shadow choice to your outfit can look a little outdated as well, but, then again, there are no strict rules to follow with today’s makeup ethos of individuality. Don’t be afraid to experiment! The nice thing about makeup is you can just wash it right off.

Minimize Those Lip Lines

For some women, especially smokers and sun worshippers, lip lines can become a bother and a reason they desire plastic surgery. Years of cigarettes and UV exposure can cause dozens of fine lines to collect around the lips.

“The best treatment for lip lines is prevention; protect the skin from sun and avoid tobacco products,” advises Clinton Humphrey, MD, a facial plastic surgery fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Once lip lines are present, hyaluronic acid fillers may provide a small amount of improvement. Substantial improvement can be gained from dermabrasion, which is more effective for the upper lip than the lower lip.”

Treatment options depend in part on how many lines you have, says Michael Olding, MD, chief of plastic surgery at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Many fine lines would require dermabrasion, whereas a few deep lines could be addressed with a filler, he says, adding that the choice comes down to filling the lines or flattening

Plastic Surgery: Minimizing Lip Lines

Options for minimizing lip lines include fillers (also known as soft tissue augmentation), dermabrasion, and laser skin resurfacing.

  • Fillers for lip lines. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance that can be injected into the skin to improve the look of fine lines. Hyaluronic acid adds volume between skin fibers that have lost it over time. Your doctor may offer several other filler options — your own fat, for example. Swelling from a pharmaceutical filler decreases over a few days; fat injections may take one to two weeks. Results from both are temporary and may diminish over time.
  • Dermabrasion for lip lines.Dermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure in which a dermatologist scrapes away the surface of skin, evening out the look of fine lines. A chemical peel achieves a similar effect with the use of a caustic chemical that burns away the top layers of skin, revealing the smoother surface underneath. These procedures may require downtime of up to two weeks depending on the intensity of the treatment.
  • Laser skin resurfacing for lip lines. Laser skin resurfacing uses a targeted beam of light (a skin laser) to even out the skin’s surface. For laser resurfacing and dermabrasion, you may have flaking for five to 10 days and notice results in 10 to 14 days; the skin may remain pink or flushed for one to six months.

Plastic Surgery for Lip Lines: What Procedure Is Right for You?

You and your plastic surgeon will discuss the options. Your skin type, desired result, and the amount of downtime you can manage will affect your choice.

Budget is also a concern, since most cosmetic surgeries are not covered by health insurance plans. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgery, average plastic surgeon fees for these procedures in 2007 were:

  • Chemical peel: $744
  • Laser skin resurfacing: $2,222
  • Dermabrasion: $283
  • Hyaluronic acid filler: $598

You will also have to budget for costs such as medication, ointments, staff, and facility use. Discuss with your plastic surgeon whether you will need to repeat the treatment in months or years.

Plastic Surgery: Not All Fillers Are Equal

The majority of facial fillers have an excellent safety profile, but some fillers may have unintended side effects. According to a study of 25 women who received polyalkylimide implant injections (implants which are essentially gel and water), researchers found that in the year after the procedure, some women experienced swelling, hardening, or pain at the injection site, and they also experienced body-wide reactions such as fevers and arthritis.

Remember, all cosmetic surgery has possible side effects. Find out about the side effects before deciding, but once you do, you can make a safe choice.

Behind the Botox Alert

Many of my patients were concerned and called my office when they heard news reports that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it was reviewing the safety of Botox, Botox Cosmetic, and Myobloc. Because Botox has become such a popular cosmetic treatment, often used to soften wrinkles in the face and forehead, I’d like to explain the basis for this investigation and how it might or might not affect you.

The FDA is reviewing cases of individuals treated with Botox between 1996 and 2007 who developed adverse reactions. While the inquiry relates primarily to children withcerebral palsy who were given Botox to relax severe muscle spasms in their legs, the FDA is considering all reports of harmful side effects. Although the use of botulinum toxin for cerebral palsy is not approved in the United States, doctors have prescribed this treatment as a successful alternative to painful surgery. This is therefore known as an “off label” use of Botox, which means that it’s used to treat a condition outside of the FDA-approved labeling for the drug. The FDA does permit physicians to use an approved medication off label, but urges doctors to be well informed about the drug, to use it based on firm scientific evidence, and to maintain records on the medication’s use and effects. Since the muscles in the legs are so much larger than the facial muscles that cause frown lines in your forehead and crow’s-feet around your eyes, it takes 20 to 100 times the amount of Botox used in a typical wrinkle treatment to treat leg spasms. It is possible for some of the Botox to seep out beyond the intended muscle group and cause a potentially life-threatening reaction, such as the weakening of respiratory and digestive muscles, which could lead to difficulty breathing and/or swallowing. Several children with cerebral palsy who were treated with Botox required feeding tubes and/or intubation to help them breathe.

While there are no new reports of adverse reactions related to the cosmetic use of Botox, there are possible side effects that can range in severity from dizziness to chest pain. But it’s important to know that there has never been a reported death attributed to Botox Cosmetic. As a dermatologist, I use Botox Cosmetic to treat patients who want to smooth out their facial wrinkles and frown lines, as well as to treat excessive perspiration. If used correctly, and in the appropriate doses, it’s very safe and effective. I have personally used Botox Cosmetic and have treated patients with it since 1996, so I hope this will reassure those of you who have used Botox for cosmetic reasons.

Nevertheless, this recent FDA alert is a reminder that Botox is still a medical procedure and should be performed by an experienced, board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon in a medical setting. While you may be tempted to get a “deal” at a spa or salon that offers discount Botox, the person doing your injection in this type of setting may not have much experience (you might be the first client!). As with any elective procedure, be sure to find out who will be doing your injections and how long the person has been using Botox. A good place to start is to ask your family physician or internist to recommend an experienced physician who can make sure this treatment is the right one for you.

The Risks of Manicures and Artificial Nails

A manicure may look beautiful, but some chemicals involved in the process of getting one, especially the application of artificial nails, can affect the health of your nails, the surrounding skin, and other parts of the body.

Manicures and Allergic Reactions

“The development of an allergy to chemicals in nail products is the same mechanism that occurs with skin allergy to an allergen like poison ivy,” says Phoebe Rich, MD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland.

These reactions may include:

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Burning

These are symptoms of what’s called a contact allergy. Although they may be limited to the area around and underneath the nail, they can also occur around the face and neck. This type of reaction might be difficult to diagnose because you may not immediately connect a recent manicure with a reaction elsewhere on the body, and you may not think to mention it to your doctor when seeking treatment.

If you develop an allergic reaction, you need to avoid using that product again. “Once the allergy develops,” says Dr. Rich, “you will always be allergic to that substance and your skin will react with itching and burning when it is re-exposed.” And symptoms may occur with subsequent exposure to different chemicals; one chemical can make you allergic to others in a reaction called cross-reactivity.

What Can Cause an Allergic Reaction During a Manicure

Allergic reactions may occur with:

  • Artificial nails
  • Base coat
  • Top coat
  • Hardener
  • Nail polish

These reactions could be harmful to the customer and the technician. Says Rich, “Solvents may cause asthma to flare, and it is not clear if there is an effect on the baby if a woman is pregnant.”

Manicure and Artificial Nail Allergen Alert

Ingredients in artificial nails to watch out for include:

  • Ethyl methacrylate in sculptured nails
  • Benzophenone in nail gels
  • Ethyl cyanoacrylate and butylphenol formaldehyde in adhesive
  • Tricresyl ethyl phthalate in plasticizer

Ingredients in base coats, top coats, hardeners, and nail polishes to watch out for include:

  • Toluene sulfonamide formaldehyde resin (TSFR) in polish
  • Nickel in mixing beads in polish
  • Thermoplastic resin in polish
  • Formaldehyde resin in hardeners

To avoid problems with allergies, ask your manicurist or dermatologist to do a patch test (normally on the underside of the forearm) or to attach just one artificial nail to see if you have a reaction.

Try using TSFR-free polishes, which are less allergenic. However, polishes without this ingredient don’t last as long and still contain chemicals such as methyl acrylate, which can cause irritation.

Manicure Chemicals That Can Irritate Your Skin

While some chemicals are notorious for causing contact allergies, other ingredients can simply irritate the nail, both around and underneath it, sometimes causing the nail to separate from the nail bed.

This may occur with:

  • Methacrylic acid in primers
  • Formaldehyde, toluene, xylene, butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl alcohol in nail hardeners
  • Sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide in cuticle removal creams and liquids
  • Acetone, alcohol, ethyl acetate, butyl acetate, and methyl ethyl acetone in nail polish remover

To avoid irritant issues, don’t use chemicals to remove cuticles. For best nail health, simply soak your nails in warm water, then gently push the cuticles back. Also, cut back on how often you remove and reapply nail polish.

Other Manicure Health Concerns

Some chemicals can dry out the nail and can cause brittle nails, or make existing problems worse, Rich says.

Also, if nail polish contains a yellow dye, as many reds and pinks do, it can stain the nail. This does not necessarily damage it, but if you try scraping off the stain, you will thin the nails and possibly split or break them.

And then there’s infection. Any damage to the skin around and under the nails can open up small wounds. Infection is a virtual given if tissue around the nail or cuticle is injured during the manicure, and could result in your losing the nail. “Be sure that implements are clean and that you are careful not to cut the cuticle when grooming nails,” advises Rich.

Manicure Safety Measures

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates only some chemicals used in cosmetic nail products. “They regulate the concentration of formaldehyde [up to 3 percent] allowed in nail cosmetics,” says Rich. Also, the FDA recommends that a formaldehyde-containing product not touch the skin “to minimize the problem with allergic sensitization on the skin,” adds Rich.

The use of one chemical in particular, methyl methacrylate (MMA), has been severely restricted in the United States since the 1970s as it can cause nail deformities and fungal infections, but some salons have been found using it. The American Academy of Dermatology says MMA can be recognized by an unfamiliar smell, and by artificial nails that are very hard, difficult to shape, and almost impossible to remove. Contact your state cosmetology board or the FDA if you suspect a salon is using this product.

When You Need to See a Doctor

If a product stings or itches, stop using it, Rich advises. If that doesn’t fix the problem, see your doctor. In mild cases, a hydrocortisone cream is usually recommended. With a severe case, oral prednisone or a cortisone shot may be prescribed.

If you develop an allergy, a visit to a dermatologist may be a good idea. A dermatologist can test you for your reactions to a variety of known allergens to see what specifically you are allergic to.

The Beauty of Mineral Makeup

Mineral makeup has become popular for many reasons: It’s eco-friendly, looks good, and feels light on the face. And because TV infomercials and the celebrities who use and recommend it, mineral makeup has gotten a lot of media attention.

“Mineral makeup has been around for 30 years or more, but has recently regained popularity in the cosmetics industry,” says Scott Gerrish, MD, of Gerrish and Associates, PC, a nonsurgical skin care specialist with offices in Virginia and Maryland. “Mineral makeup was originally used by plastic surgeons and dermatologists on patients after cosmetic procedures to cover the redness and soreness.”

Is mineral makeup right for you? Read on to find out.

The Magic Behind Mineral Makeup

Mineral makeup is made from pure, crushed minerals and will not cake on the skin: It allows the skin to breathe and gives you a lighter, more natural look than traditionalmakeup. “Mineral makeup comes in powdered, pressed, and liquid forms and has beneficial properties for your skin,” says Helga Surratt, President of About Faces Day Spa & Salon, in Towson, Md.

It is ideal for all skin types, all skin tones, and women of all ages. Mineral makeup looks great, feels great, and helps to bring out your natural glow. “But take care to read the labels and make sure you’re getting pure mineral makeup,” Surratt says.

Why Mineral Makeup May Be Better

  • Mineral makeup won’t clog pores or irritate. As Pam Messy of Mary Kay Cosmetics in Owings Mills, Md., says, “Regular makeup contains artificial chemicals or preservatives, whereas true mineral makeup does not. Mineral makeup is hypoallergenic and usually safe to use on any skin.” It’s also free of oil, talc, perfume, dyes, alcohol, and other potentially irritating and comedogenic, or pore-clogging, ingredients, Surratt says.
  • Mineral makeup ingredients can soothe skin. What it does contain are natural anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as zinc and titanium oxides, which help calm the skin when it’s irritated. These ingredients also offer protection from UVA, UVB, and infrared sun rays. “Read the label, as you want at least an SPF of 15,” Surratt says.
  • Mineral makeup acts as a great concealer. Need to hide imperfections? Mineral makeup is lightweight and conceals, corrects, and covers pigmentations and lines on your face while still allowing your skin to breathe. “It offers skin-enhancing benefits. It smoothes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, conceals blotchiness, and improves the appearance of skin with acne or rosacea,” Gerrish says. Mineral makeup doesn’t need many touch-ups because it has water-resistant qualities that provide long-lasting coverage, another plus.

“Pure mineral makeup is so harmless you can almost sleep in it,” says Messy, “though I always recommend removing all makeup before going to bed, and applying a good moisturizer.”

While no form of makeup is perfect, mineral makeup products can help you avoid harsh preservatives and chemicals while hiding those fine lines and little flaws. You may never go back to regular makeup because of the way mineral makeup looks and feels on your face.