There Are Dead Bugs in Your Lipstick!

There Are Dead Bugs in Your Lipstick!  Do you think I’m kidding?  I am not and I have the scientific research to prove it.

I Read the Ingredients on Labels:  Okay, I know I’m a bit of a freak when it comes to the science and chemistry of cosmetics.  I actually do read every label of every product and study the ingredients before I put them on my face.  I’m allergic to so many things that it is a necessity.  Also, I want to know what I am putting on my clients.  I feel a responsibility to them to be sure the products are safe.

Do the Ingredients Matter to You?  I have always been fascinated by the myriad of ingredients that comprise most cosmetics.  I’m sure many of you: a) don’t read the ingredients; b) aren’t interested as long as the stuff works; and c) think that because you can’t pronounce them, the ingredients really aren’t important.  Even so, don’t you want to know what is in the products you are putting on your lips?  After all, you are going to be licking this stuff off, essentially eating it.

What Are the Dead Bugs?  There is one ingredient that I find particularly startling, Carmine or Cochineal Extract.  Carmine and Cochineal are the same thing… the ground up bodies of dead bugs known as Dactylopius Coccus.  Cochineal are found in Arizona, Mexico and South America.  Contrary to popular belief, the Cochineal is a scaled insect as opposed to a beetle.

Cochineal Insects Cluster Photo by Frank Vincentz

Cochineal Insects Cluster
Photo by Frank Vincentz

How Are they Harvested?  The Cochineals live on prickly pear a.k.a. nopal cacti.  Small nests are placed on the cacti, the bugs crawl into them, and then they are brushed off of the cacti or collected from the nest.

Cochineal Insect Nests Photo by Oscar Carrizosa

Cochineal Insect Nests
Photo by Oscar Carrizosa

How Long Have Cochineal Bugs Been Used in Makeup?  The practice dates back to ancient Egyptian times.  It is estimated that these bugs have been used for approximately 5,000 years.

How Many Bugs Are in a Tube of Lipstick?  It takes 40,000 to 70,000 Cochineals to yield a pound of Carmine dye.  The number depends on the size of the insect.  The most desirable insects are pregnant females with expanded abdomens.  It is impossible to say how many would be used in a formula, but it would be more than a few.

One Crushed Cochineal Insect

One Crushed Cochineal Insect

Labeling Practices / What to Look for: (This is how Carmine will be listed on a label.)

  • B Rose Liquid;
  • Carmine 5297;
  • Carmine Lake;
  • Carmine Ultra-Fine;
  • Carminic Acid;
  • Carminic Acid Lake;
  • C.I. 75470;
  • Coccus Cacti L.;
  • Cochineal Extract;
  • Crimson Lake;
  • E 120;
  • Natural Red 4;
  • Red 40.

If a Product Is Labeled Organic Is It Free from Carmine?  No, since Cochineal is an insect occurring in nature and not synthetically created, it still fits within the definition of an organic product.

Are So-Called “Natural Brands” Free from Carmine?  No, even brands like Burt’s Bees use Carmine in their lip balm.

Burts Bees Replenishing Lip Balm Pomegranate Flavor Contains Cochineal Carmine

Burts Bees Replenishing Lip Balm Pomegranate Flavor Contains Cochineal Carmine

Do Expensive or Cheap Brands Contain Carmine?  Almost every brand in every price range uses some form of Carmine to color their products.  It can be found in everything from e.l.f. to Chantecaille.

There Are Dead Bugs In Your M-A-C Lipstick

There Are Dead Bugs In Your M-A-C Lipstick

If a Product Is Labeled Cruelty Free Is It Free from Carmine?  No, that simply means that the product did not undergo animal testing at the time the product was packaged.  Cruelty free does not apply to insects.  Cruelty free also does not tell you whether or not the company previously participated in animal testing.  Also, many companies designate themselves as cruelty free when in fact they are not.  Any company that sells their product in China is not cruelty free because the Chinese government actually requires animal testing before a product can be sold there even if it was not manufactured there.

What Else Is Carmine Used In?  Basically, anything that has a red color might contain Carmine.  This is just a small sampling of products (there are thousands).  EWG (The Environmental Working Group) currently has 2,199 products in their cosmetics database alone that contain Carmine.

  • Candy
  • Cosmetics (Blush, Eyeliner, Eye Shadow, Face Powder, Lipstick, Mascara, Nail Polish)
  • Cough Syrup
  • Food (Dannon and Oiko yogurts)
  • Fruit Juices (Long list)
  • Prescription Medications
There Are Also Dead Bugs in Your NYX Blush

There Are Also Dead Bugs in Your NYX Blush

Is Carmine Dangerous?  No, for the great majority of people there is absolutely no evidence that Carmine presents any type of health hazard.  I have used many products that contain Carmine for many years with no ill effects whatsoever.  It is next to impossible to be a makeup artist and not use products that contain some form of Carmine.  Like any substance on Earth, anyone can have an allergic reaction to a substance.  There are people who claim to be allergic to water.  While extremely rare, there have been reports of serious allergic reactions to Carmine.

If Carmine Isn’t Dangerous Why Should You Care?  I don’t have a problem with companies using Carmine.  I do have a problem with companies naming and listing a coloring agent that misleads people as to what is actually in it.  I think Carmine should be listed as “Cochineal Insects” because that is indeed what it is.  By coming up with all of the different misleading names, it is impossible for a consumer to differentiate an insect-based colorant from a fruit or vegetable-based colorant.

If You Want to Avoid Carmine, How Do You Do That?  The only way to avoid Carmine completely is to read every ingredient of every label and only buy products that are certified “Vegan”.  As Carmine is derived from an insect, it cannot be used in vegan products.

What Do the Vegan Companies Use for Coloring Agents Instead of Bugs?  They primarily use:

  • Beets;
  • Carrots;
  • Cranberries;
  • Grape Skins;
  • Pomegranates; and
  • Tomatoes.

If Companies Can Use Fruits and Vegetables Instead of Bugs Why Don’t They?  I have no idea.  I assume because the bugs are cheaper.  Doesn’t it usually come down to the bottom line and profits for most companies?  I researched the cost and one pound of ground up Cochineal bugs is selling for $26 versus $38 for a pound of beet root powder.

What Can Be Done to Get the Bugs Out of Cosmetics?  Tell them.  Voice your opinions to the companies whose products you purchase.  If enough people start asking for fruits and vegetables to replace bugs, it will happen.

Conclusion:  Whether you do or don’t care if there are dead bugs in your lipstick, at least now you know how to watch out for them on the ingredients labels.  I hope you found this post informative.  Please let me know if you would like to see more of these types of research posts.  Thanks!

Research Sources:

AOEC (Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics). 2009. AEOC exposures codes and asthmagen designation.

CTFA (Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association). 2006. International Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary and Handbook, 11th Edition. Color Additive Information. Washington, DC.

EC (Environment Canada). 2008. Domestic Substances List Categorization. Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) Environmental Registry.

FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) 2006. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Color Additive Status List. September 2006.

FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). 2008. EAFUS [Everything Added to Food]: A Food Additive Database. FDA Office of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

NLM (National Library of Medicine). 2012. PubMed online scientific bibliography data.

Do Makeup Finishing Fixing Setting Sprays Actually Work?

Do Makeup Finishing Fixing Setting Sprays Actually Work?  Are these just expensive water or will they keep your makeup looking good for hours?

Rather than just review one brand of product, I thought I would discuss a type of product that I receive a lot of questions about.  In future posts, I’ll go into detail for some different brands of setting sprays and their positive and negative features.

Are makeup finishing, fixing or setting sprays new?  No, absolutely not.  I have been using them my entire career.  Makeup artists used to simply make them from distilled water, witch hazel, and glycerin.  I guess that is one of the major changes in makeup artistry from decades ago to today.  Makeup artists used to make a lot of their own products.  Now, everything is for sale already made, and in a plastic bottle.  Another change is that mainstream consumers are using the same products that were once only for sale to professionals.

What is a makeup finishing, fixing or setting spray?  The intent of the product is to help makeup last longer.  Some sprays also have waterproofing agents.  Some products do double duty, such as MAC Prep + Prime Fix +.  The MAC spray is intended to be sprayed on both before foundation and then again after you are completely finished with all of the powdered makeup products.  The MAC Prep + Prime works very well but I had to stop using it because I’m allergic to the fragrance in it.  Most setting or finishing sprays are only designed to be used once the makeup is completed and not as a primer, too.

Do they really make a difference or are they just a waste of money?  Yes, they do make a difference, especially for those with oily skin.  Makeup just doesn’t stay put very long on oily skin.  A setting spray can help the makeup to not fade, cake, run or settle into fine lines and wrinkles.

What is in a makeup finishing, fixing or setting spray?  That really depends upon the brand.  There are huge differences from one brand to another.  Some of them are essentially watered down hair spray.  (Yes, hair spray will keep your makeup on longer, but it is not healthy for your skin and I would never advise using it on your face.)

Makeup finishing, fixing or setting sprays for oily skin typically contain alcohol along with some acrylates and copolymers.  (These more closely resemble hair sprays.)

Makeup finishing, fixing or setting sprays for dry skin tend to be free of alcohol and they have some skin-friendly hydration ingredients.  (These more closely resemble toners.)

Is there a difference between a finishing, fixing or setting spray?  Once upon a time, yes.  But now, no there is not.  As more and more companies try to come up with names for their products that haven’t already been used or taken, the terms have become interchangeable.  The only way to really determine what a spray is good for is to read the ingredients.  Most sprays come down to basically being either spray toners or hairspray-type setting liquids.

Are they good or bad for your skin?  That depends upon the product you are using and how you are using it.  If you are only using the spray once your makeup is complete, it is not going to be absorbed by your skin due to the layers of makeup that are acting as a buffer.  If you are also using the spray as a primer, it is important that the ingredients are healthy for your skin.

Are they expensive?  The ones I’m discussing today range in price from $3.00 for 2.02 ounces to $31.00 for 4 ounces.

What is the best way to use a makeup finishing, fixing or setting spray?

  • If you have oily skin, spray some onto your beauty blender sponge instead of water.  This will help foundation to last longer.
  • To keep eye shadow from having so much fallout, spray an eye shadow brush prior to application.  (Note, doing this will intensify the color of the eye shadow, so don’t do this if you are going for a very light, soft or natural look.)
  • Once the makeup is complete with everything except lipstick, hold the bottle approximately eight to ten inches from the face.  Spray two sprays in an “X” pattern.  Spray a third spray on the center of the face to get the “T” zone.
  • When your makeup starts to fade and needs to be touched up, first blot any oily areas with a blotting paper.  Next, lightly powder the areas you blotted.  Finally, spray one or two sprays on the areas that were powdered.  Your makeup will last for another couple of hours this way.
  • Don’t hold the bottle too close to the face.
  • Don’t saturate the face; the idea is to apply the spray lightly.

What are some good and bad makeup finishing, fixing or setting sprays?  I wouldn’t say that any of them are all good or all bad.  They have different qualities and you have to select the appropriate product for your particular needs and skin type.  Personally, I can’t use any of the products that contain fragrance on myself or my clients due to my severe fragrance allergy.  Some people like products that are perfume-filled.  Here are some of the ones I have tried and which skin types they will work best for.  (Please note that as opposed to “Normal”, I use the term “Consistent” for skin that is neither dry nor oily.)

Description Size Price Alcohol Free Fragrance Free Recommended Skin Type(s) Claims
e.l.f. Makeup Mist & Set 2.02 fl. oz. $3.00 Yes Yes Combination, Consistent, Dry, Sensitive Keeps makeup in place, moisturizes and soothes
e.l.f. Matte Magic Mist & Set 2.02 fl. oz. $4.00 No Yes Consistent, Oily Controls shine, vitamin infused
L. A. Girl Pro HD Setting Spray 1.0 fl. oz. $7.00 No Yes Consistent, Oily Matte finish, lightweight, non-sticky formula
M-A-C Prep + Prime + Fix + 3.4 fl. oz. $24.00 Yes No Combination, Consistent, Dry Water mist gently soothes and refreshes skin and finishes makeup
NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray 2.02 fl. oz. $7.99 No Yes Combination, Consistent, Oily Long lasting, dewy finish
NYX Matte Finish Setting Spray 2.02 fl. oz. $7.99 No Yes Consistent, Oily Long lasting, matte finish
Physicians Formula InstaReady Setting Spray 3.4 fl. oz. $12.99 No Yes Combination, Consistent, Oily, Sensitive High-tech formula works to instantly mattify, blur, and visibly retexturize skin
Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray 4.00 fl. oz. $31.00 No No, has LOTS of fragrance Consistent, Oily Keeps makeup looking gorgeously just-applied for up to 16 hours
Urban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray 4.00 fl. oz. $31.00 No No Oily Prevents makeup meltdown, controls oil, deflects surface shine and keeps skin matte


e.l.f. Studio Makeup Mist & Sete.l.f. Studio Matte Magic Mist & SetL. A. Girl Pro High Definition Setting SprayMAC Prep + Prime Fix +NYX Cosmetics Dewy Finish Setting SprayNYX Cosmetics Matte Finish Setting SprayPhysicians Formula InstaReady Setting SprayUrban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting SprayUrban Decay De-Slick Makeup Setting Spray

Where can I get more information on a particular product?  I’m going to review some of my favorites in depth in the coming weeks.  If there is a particular spray you have questions about, I’ll be happy to address those if you write to me.

Which ones work/don’t work for you?  Do you have a lot of experience with a particular brand?  Please let me know what works for you so I can share the results.  Thanks!

How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters

How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters:

I previously discussed a lot of skin care products and that brought forth questions, mostly about not WHAT to use, but HOW to use them.  One of the questions I am most frequently asked involves the order in which products should be applied.  This seems to be universally confusing to most users.  People seem to wonder about how to apply skin care cosmetics in the correct order and why it matters.  The sequence in which you apply skin care products actually does make a difference and there is a right way and wrong way.

Too Many Products, Too Many Choices:

There are so many products to choose from nowadays, it is no wonder that how to use them all correctly is mind boggling for most.  After all, there used to just be cleanser, toner, day cream and night cream.  Then came eye cream, serum, moisturizer with sunscreen, moisturizer without sunscreen, sunscreen by itself, face primer, eye primer, lip primer, facial oil, micellar water, facial essence and the list just keeps growing.  (As I’ve been typing this, ten new things have probably been invented!)

Develop An Order:

To achieve the maximum benefit from your products, develop an order to your routine and it will be easy to follow.  What follows is a simple breakdown on how to properly coordinate your skin care products.  After all, why spend the money and go to the trouble to use them if you are not going to get the optimum benefit from the products, right?

Do You Need All of This Stuff?

Now, I’m not telling you that you need to use all of these products every day.  I don’t.  But, you can take a look at the list and you can see where your products fall in line with other products.

Skin Care Cosmetics Application Tips and Tricks:

  • Always begin with clean skin. Nothing is going to work well unless you are starting with a clean, fresh surface.
  • Exfoliate regularly. The products cannot penetrate through a layer of dead skin cells.  There is no point in putting skin care products on if they can’t be absorbed well.
  • Begin with the products that are the thinnest like water and then progress to the next thickest, and so on. Why?  Because if you start with a thick product, the thin one won’t be able to penetrate through it, won’t do any good, and you are basically wasting it.
  • Give each product a chance to be absorbed before you move on to the next product. (Depending upon the product this may be 20 seconds or two minutes.)
How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters Cleanse First

Always Begin By Thoroughly Cleansing First

Thinner or Thicker?

Can’t figure out which ones feel thinner or thicker?  Here is a simple trick—Apply a dab of each product along your forearm, then turn your arm sideways and see which ones run or drip down first.  Make a note of that and apply them in that order.  If they all feel the same or don’t drip, then apply them according to how quickly and easily absorbed they are.  Rub  them in one at a time and count how long it takes for them to be absorbed.  Begin with the one that is absorbed the fastest and then progress to the next.  (You can also put them on a plate if you don’t want to put them on your arm, but that won’t tell you anything about the absorption rate.)

How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters Begin With The Thinnest Products

Begin With The Thinnest Products And Work Up To The Thickest Products

How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters Cream Thin Or Thick

Does The Cream Feel Thin Or Thick? How Long Does It Take To Be Absorbed?

Your order may be slightly different than what is listed below because your products may differ in viscosity from what I am using.  The order below is a general guideline, only.

Skin Care Products Application Order:


  • Oil Cleanser
  • Foam Cleanser
  • Micellar Water
  • Toner
  • Facial Essence (Like a watered-down moisturizer-good for dry skin)
  • Serum
  • Acne Spot Treatment
  • Eye Cream (If your eye cream is heavy, put it on after moisturizer or facial oil.)
  • Moisturizer
  • Facial Oil
  • Sunscreen
  • Primer
  • Lip Protection
  • Makeup (A future post will discuss the proper order for makeup.)


  • Eye Makeup Remover
  • Oil Cleanser
  • Foam Cleanser
  • Exfoliation or Facial scrub
  • Treatment Mask
  • Micellar Water
  • Toner
  • Facial Essence
  • Serum
  • Acne Spot Treatment
  • Eye Cream (If your eye cream is heavy, put it on after moisturizer or facial oil.)
  • Moisturizer
  • Facial Oil
  • Night Cream
  • Lip Protection
How To Apply Skin Care Cosmetics In The Correct Order And Why It Matters Give The Products Time

Give The Products Time To Be Absorbed Before Applying The Next One

Still Confused?  We Can Help.

Still confused?  Don’t know how to how to apply skin care cosmetics in the correct order and why it matters?  Message me with what you are using and I can quickly sort through the products to put them in order for you.

Coming… The Best Order for Applying Makeup:

I’m going to write another post that will demonstrate the best order to apply your makeup products.

Sign Up:

Want to be notified when the makeup application order posts?  Let us know in the Comments section below and we’ll send it to you.


Step By Step Instructions On How to Apply False Eyelashes (Fake Lashes) Like A Pro

Step By Step Instructions On How to  Apply False Eyelashes (Fake Lashes) Like A Pro — I previously reviewed my favorite brand of strip eyelashes, Kiss.  I received lots of messages from people telling me that they had never been successful in getting them on, so I decided to try and help with some easy application tips and tricks.  Also, all of the false eyelash application tutorials on other sites and YouTube provide information that is just plain wrong, and even dangerous.  I would say that I have seen more incorrect and harmful information related to false eyelashes than any other beauty product.

I love false lashes because nothing can add drama and definition to your eyes like beautiful flirty lashes. Whether you have no lashes or yours just need a little help, there is the perfect pair out there for you.  I don’t know what else can make you look so much better for under $5.00.

Some people are intimidated by the application process, but it really is quite simple once you get the hang of it.  I can actually apply false eyelashes in the same amount of time as two coats of mascara, so if you are new to the world of fake lashes, give it a few tries and in no time, they’ll be quick and easy for you.  Also, if you put them on correctly, they will stay on without any worries.  (I don’t recommend this, but I have even fallen asleep with them on and worn them for a couple of days without them coming off.)

These application tips, tricks and instructions are for removable strip upper lashes, not eyelash extensions or individual lashes.


  • If you have never worn false eyelashes before, please be advised that some lash adhesives contain latex. If you have a latex allergy, make sure you buy only latex-free glue.  (You can message me and I’ll recommend some good brands for you.)
  • If you are sensitive to dyes, buy the white or clear adhesive and not the black. I use the white because of my hypersensitivity.

Step By Step Instructions On How to  Apply False Eyelashes (Fake Lashes) Like A Pro:

  • Sterilize your hands before beginning the eyelash application.  Eye infections are not only ugly, but extremely dangerous.  Your eyes are precious and priceless, so take caution when applying eye makeup.
  • Begin by curling your natural lashes with an eyelash curler.  (If you heat the curler slightly with a blow dryer it will work even better but be careful and don’t get it too hot.)
  • Keep your eyelash curler clean, sterilized, and replace the rubber strip every few months.
  • Apply all of your other eye makeup first–primer, eye shadows, eyeliner, and apply mascara to your lower lashes only.
  • If you apply the false lashes before your other eye makeup, you’re likely to get eye shadow on them and then you may knock them off when trying to clean the fallout.
  • If you are a first-time user, synthetic lashes are stiffer than natural human-hair lashes and they will be easier for you to practice with, but they won’t look as natural. A cheap, thick, dramatic synthetic pair is the best thing to practice with until you get the hang of it.
  • Remove the eyelash from the tray from the outer corner moving inward.
  • Measure the eyelash to see if it is too wide for the width of your eye and needs to be trimmed.
  • If it needs to be trimmed, trim from the outer edge, not the inner edge.  (The outer edge will be closer to your temple and the inner edge will be closer to your nose.)
  • If the lashes need to be trimmed, sterilize the scissors first that you are going to use.  (I like to use a very small pair of cuticle or embroidery scissors that I keep sterilized and only use for lashes.)  If you don’t have any scissors, you can sterilize some nail clippers.
  • Bend the eyelash to match the curvature of your eye. (Move them back and forth like a Slinky to get them to bend.)  Eliminating this step is what gets most people in trouble and the lashes don’t look right or the ends pop up because they are too straight.
  • If the lashes are synthetic, feel stiff and won’t bend to match your eye shape, place them back onto the tray and gently heat them with a hair dryer on low heat for about 30 seconds.  This will make them much more flexible.
  • Apply glue with a sterile toothpick, not from the tube.
  • If you apply glue from the tube, you will get too much glue on the eyelash.
  • Use as little glue as possible.
  • Let the glue dry for about 15-30 seconds before applying. (depends upon brand and thickness)
  • Don’t blow on the lash to dry it; your breath contains bacteria.
  • It is easier if you look down in a mirror and place the false lashes on your eyelid in a downward motion rather than coming straight in to your eyelid.
  • Apply the lash from the inner corner where your lashes begin to the outer corner.
  • Don’t get the lashes too close to your tear ducts.
  • Place the false lashes on the edge of the eyelid next to your natural lashes.
  • Don’t glue the fake lashes onto your natural lashes.  Doing so may pull out some of your own natural lashes when you remove the false lashes and you want to avoid that at all costs.
  • If your eyes are downturned, you can place the outer edge of the lash just above your natural lash line to give the eyes more of an upturned look.
  • After application gently press the lash onto the skin to secure the adhesion.
  • You can sterilize the blunt end of a pair of tweezers to press the lashes to your eyelid.
  • If you don’t have any tweezers, you can use the stick of a clean cotton swab to press the false lashes to your lid.  Make sure to remove the cotton ball at the end first or you will end up with cotton fibers stuck to your lashes. (That won’t look or feel good.)
  • Blend your lashes into your own with a dry spoolie or a mascara made for false lashes. (I like Ardell Lash Magic and I wrote an in-depth review of it if you want to learn more.)
  • Preferably, don’t use regular mascara on your false eyelashes.
  • If you do use regular mascara on your false lashes, make sure it is a water-based formula.
  • If you use waterproof mascara on your false lashes they will only be good for one use.
  • Once the lashes are on and the glue has dried, you may need to touch up your eyeliner.
  • When it is time to remove them, carefully lift up the outer edge and peel them off in the direction from your temple to your nose.
  • Store them on the tray and in the package that they came in for re-use.
  • Carefully remove the old adhesive before applying new adhesive.

If you have never tried false eyelashes and don’t wear a lot of makeup, begin with a natural look and don’t get frustrated.  It takes a few tries to get the routine down.  I can now apply them start to finish in about a minute each.

I hope you found these Step By Step Instructions On How to  Apply False Eyelashes (Fake Lashes) Like A Pro helpfulIf you are still having trouble, message me and I can help.

Give it a try and go get glamorous!

Step By Step Instructions On How to Apply False Eyelashes (Fake Lashes) Like A Pro

Eyes Before and After False Eyelashes

How To Choose The Best Mascara For Your Eyelashes

How To Choose The Best Mascara For Your Eyelashes – Mascara is one of those cosmetics that is the most confusing for most wearers.  Why?  Because there are so many different kinds, types and variables.  The below photograph shows just some of the mascaras I currently own.  As a professional makeup artist, I keep many different kinds on hand for different uses with clients.

Mascara 101 Best Formula Help Guide

What makes a good mascara?

  • Ease of application
  • A formula that provides length and/or volume (depending upon your needs)
  • No clumps
  • No flakes
  • No smudging
  • No running
  • No irritation

That doesn’t seem like too much to expect, right?  Why can’t they all do that?

Before you begin shopping for mascara, you need to know exactly what type of eyelashes you have.

Eyelash Characteristics:

  • Length – Are your lashes short, medium or long?
  • Thickness – Are your lashes thin or thick?
  • Density – Do you have sparse lashes or a lot of lashes?
  • Straight or Curly – Do your lashes have natural curl to them or do they stick straight out?
  • Suppleness – Do your lashes tend to get dry, brittle or break?
  • Delicate – Do a lot of them fall out when you rub your eyes?

Examine Your Hair:

If you are having trouble answering the above questions, typically your eyelashes will mimic your hair.  If the hair on your head is curly and thick, you probably have thicker lashes.  If your hair is fine and thin, your eyelashes are probably on the thinner side, too.  Regarding the length of your eyelashes, this trait does not correspond to any particular quality of your hair.  If your hair is very dry, chances are your eyelashes are, too and you may experience dryness or brittleness in your lashes.

Additional Concerns and Questions:

  • Do you wear contacts? (Stay away from mascaras with fibers.)
  • Do you have allergies and other sensitivities?  (Read the ingredients and make sure they are fragrance free.)
  • Do your eyes tend to water a lot?
  • Do you have oily skin? (Yes, your skin type will affect what type of mascara will work best for you.)
  • Are your eyes so deep set that your eyelashes touch your upper eyelids? (If so, a smudge-free formula is very important.)

Once you have answered all of the above questions, then you can begin to determine what type of mascara will perform the best for you.

Mascaras come in the following types of formulas:

  • Water based – These mascaras will run if you cry or your eyes water. These have a light density.  They are easily removed with any normal facial cleanser and do not require a separate eye makeup remover.  They are the gentlest to your lashes.  If you have a lot of chemical sensitivities, these formulas may be the best for you.
  • Natural – These are water-based mascaras that are made from minerals, beeswax and other naturally-occurring ingredients.  This type will always be free of fragrance and other irritants.  These are the best mascaras for anyone with allergies, sensitive eyes and those who wear contacts.
  • Water resistant – These mascaras, although water based, also contain ingredients that prevent the mascara from running if your eyes tear. These have a medium density. Some of them are easily removed with regular facial cleanser and some require an eye makeup remover.  These are good for deep set eyes and are good for people with dry, brittle lashes.
  • Waterproof – These mascaras are oil based, will not run when exposed to tears or water, but many are not smudge proof. These will have a medium or thick density depending upon the formula.  These must be removed with a dedicated eye makeup remover.  These stay on the longest and the best, but because they are oil based, they may actually smudge worse on users with very oily eyelids.  Think about this… What do you use to remove waterproof makeup?  Oil-based cleansers.  If your eyelids are extremely oily, your body is producing its own remover.  Those with oily skin will have to experiment the most to find a brand that works for them.  Waterproof mascaras can also have a drying effect on the eyelashes over time so they may not be good for those with brittle lashes.

Mascaras also have different objectives:

  • Some are designed to enhance a natural look.
  • Some will volumize or add thickness to sparse or thin lashes.
  • Some will add length.
  • Some have wands that claim to curl the lashes (They don’t work very well.)
  • Some have added fibers (These are not good for contact lens wearers.)

Mascaras have different types of applicators (wands):

  • Wands with straight brushes (These make it difficult to get into the corners.)
  • Wands with tapered brushes (These work the best.)
  • Wands with curved brushes (Most of them are too big.)
  • Wands with plastic bristles (These work okay if they are small.)
  • Wands with tiny combs (These are good for separating upper lashes but don’t work very well on lower lashes.)
  • Wands that vibrate (These are a silly gimmick.)
  • Wands that rotate (These can be very dangerous.)
  • Wands with adjustable brushes (These usually break after a few uses.)
  • Wands that are tiny just for the lower lashes (Some of these are very good.)

Most of the applicator brushes that come with mascaras are too large.  The smaller the brush, the greater the level of control.  Also, many of the brands with curved wands are way too large and the curve is wrong for the average-sized eye.  Mascaras with battery-operated rotating or vibrating wands are a marketing gimmick and I’d prefer to wiggle my own wand.  Also, there have been reports of people getting their eyelashes caught in the rotating ones and pulling them out.  Ouch!

Everyone just wants long, full, dramatic eyelashes.  So which formula do you need?

  • If you have enough lashes but they are short, look for a lengthening mascara.
  • If your lashes are a good length but you don’t have enough of them, look for a volumizing mascara. A separate eyelash primer will also add to the thickness.
  • If you have so few eyelashes that you can barely find them, look for a fiber-filled mascara. Using a separate eyelash primer will also greatly enhance your lashes.
  • If you are blessed with long, thick eyelashes, a simple water-based formula or even a clear gel mascara will add definition. (If this is you, please know that the rest of the world is envious.)

Tips and Tricks for Successful Mascara Application:

  • Always begin with clean lashes.  If you apply today’s mascara on top of yesterday’s leftovers, you are starting out with an invitation to clumping and flaking.
  • Always scrape some of the mascara back into the tube before applying. When you first pull the wand out of the tube there will be too much product on the wand.
  • If you need more product on the wand, don’t pump the wand in and out as this will infuse air into the tube, which will cause the mascara to dry out faster.  Instead, twirl the wand while fully inserted to get more mascara on the wand.
  • If your mascara came with a separate outer cap, replace the cap while the wand is out of the tube and it will last longer.  (Don’t throw away those outer caps the first time you place the wand into the tube.)  Air is the enemy of a tube of mascara.
  • Begin by coating the top of your upper eyelashes first with your mascara or primer. Let the first coat work from the top down.
  • Always move the wand in a wiggling side-to-side fashion from the lash roots to the tips rather than one sweeping motion.
  • Twirling the wand while applying to the upper lashes will help to keep the lashes separated.
  • If you are using a mascara primer, make sure to wait 30-60 seconds for it to dry, then apply your mascara on top of the primer. This will keep it from looking diluted or gray as opposed to black.
  • Use a separate clean mascara wand to separate your lashes in between coats. If you try to use the applicator brush that is already coated in mascara, you’ll end up with way too much product on them which leads to very clumpy lashes.
  • Mascara needs to thoroughly dry in between coats to avoid clumping and flaking. When applying multiple coats of mascara, avoid putting several coats on one eye at a time. Instead, switch from one eye to the next before applying a second coat in order to let your lashes dry between coats.
  • Don’t apply more than 2 coats.  More than that will lead to clumping and flaking.
  • Don’t ever share your mascara or you are inviting an eye infection.
  • Don’t add water to your mascara if it is too thick. (If you add water to a waterproof mascara, it will just bead up, not blend and that tube will need to be trashed.)
  • If it gets too thick, it is time for a new tube.

I will be adding a list of the best brands for each type of formula.

I hope you found How To Choose The Best Mascara For Your Eyelashes helpful.  Mascara is an important tool for adding accent and drama to your eyes.  Perhaps determining the best type of mascara for you will be a little less confusing now.  Please let us know your favorite mascaras and why.  We’d love to hear from you!

How To Determine Your Skin Type

How To Determine Your Skin Type.  Today we are not discussing a product, but offering a tutorial.  I hope you find this helpful.

Here you will find how to identify what type of skin you have.  If you don’t have a magnifying mirror, I suggest you invest in one and really examine your skin. If, after you review these characteristics you still don’t know what type of skin you have, a brief visit to an esthetician or dermatologist can make that determination.  (Or, you can message me and I’ll try to help you.)

Knowing what type of skin you have is important. You can’t buy the right type of product if you don’t know your skin type. Every day I interview clients and most of them tell me they have “normal” skin when in fact, their skin is combination or some other type. Instead of normal, I prefer the term “consistent”.

Begin by washing your face with a normal facial cleansing bar and then do not apply any type of products to your face.  After one hour, read the below descriptions to determine which one best describes your skin.

Consistent (Commonly Referred to as Normal) Everyone’s skin is “normal” to them because they live in it every day. That doesn’t help to describe a type of skin. Therefore, I’ve decided to use the term “consistent” instead of normal.

  • Skin feels comfortable, rarely dry, tight or oily.
  • Skin is the same all over the face without some areas drier or oilier than others.
  • Skin has a soft, even texture without flakiness from dryness or shine from oiliness.
  • Breakouts are rare.
  • Pores are visible but not black or enlarged.
  • Makeup will stay on for several hours without the need for touch ups.

Combination (I have found this type to be the most common.)

  • Some areas (usually nose but possibly also forehead or chin) are oily and shiny.
  • Other areas (usually cheeks) feel dry, rough or tight. Dry areas may or may not have flaky spots.
  • May experience occasional breakouts, usually in isolated areas.
  • Pores may be enlarged in the oily areas and may contain black heads or white heads. Pores in the dry areas are smaller and may be visible but not black or enlarged.
  • Makeup will stay on well on the dry areas but may need to be touched up every couple of hours on the oily areas, especially the nose.

Dry (Becomes more common as we age)

  • Skin can feel tight, chapped or rough, especially after cleansing with surfactant products such as soap.
  • May experience dullness, patchiness, itchiness or flakiness.
  • Almost never breaks out.
  • Pores are small and nearly invisible. Pores rarely have black heads or white heads.
  • Makeup will stay on for many hours until it is washed away.

Oily (Very common in teenagers)

  • The skin usually feels supple and never feels tight or dry unless a drying product has been applied.
  • Skin looks oily and shiny all over, especially as the day goes on.
  • Breakouts are a regular part of life.
  • Pores tend to be very visible, especially around the nose, and there may be black heads, white heads or both.
  • Makeup tends to melt away after a couple of hours and needs frequent touch ups.

Sensitive (Can occur at any age and in conjunction with other types)

  • Skin becomes easily irritated or inflamed, especially by fragrances, allergens or climate.
  • Skin gets red, itchy, or stings when trying most new skincare products.
  • May have a diagnosis of Rosacea, eczema or dermatitis.
  • May experience breakouts from any number of irritants.
  • May burn easily and requires sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Makeup may irritate your skin.
  • Makeup will stay on for several hours without the need for touch ups.
  • Sensitive skin can also be Consistent, Combination, Dry, or Oily! (Yes, you may have any type of skin and also experience allergies or sensitivity issues.)

Your skin can change as you age.  For women this is especially true as you experience menopause or even peri-menopause. Hormones can cause major shifts in many areas of your body, including your basic chemistry.

If after reading this you still can’t figure out your skin type, you can message me and after answering a few simple questions, I’ll be able to tell you.