Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...and those of us holding the mascara wand.

After two decades of covering the beauty industry, I've come to learn what makes it so alluring. Finding the perfect shade of makeup to match your skin tone, adding a swipe of eyeliner to give your tired eyes a lift, discovering an innovative new product line, or indulging in a totally luxurious spa treatment. My experiences have been documented in magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide. I've tested newly formulated products in the lab, explored hair removal options, shopped for lipstick, added shine to my hair and succumbed to massage marathons--all in the name of beauty. I've written press releases, hosted makeover events and co-authored a Do-It-Yourself Beauty book (Alloy). On this blog, I write about products and services that I come across every day as well as those that have been provided by publicists or the companies that make them. Either way, I write what I think. I hope to share some of my insights--and bring you the latest, greatest beauty news right here. Join me in the quest to find all things pretty.

Friday, June 4, 2010

expert advice: bath basics, from Patricia Pol of Weleda

Too warm? Too sudsy? Too slippery? Giving infants a bath may sounds easy but it can get pretty tricky at times. Weleda holistic skin care expert Patricia Pol, a certified doula and an infant massage practitioner, offers her tips for a safe, peaceful bath for your baby.

Once your baby’s umbilical cord falls away, he or she is ready for a bath in your brand new baby bath tub. You can have all the baby bath toys and baby bath accessories you like, but if the temperature's not right, it won't be fun for your little one. The right water temperature is key. Use only a little water at about 98 degrees, the temperature that closely matches that of a baby’s body and the secure environment of the womb. Since baby’s skin is sensitive, use a soft, organic cotton or flannel cloth in lieu of a rough washcloth. Add a few drops of Weleda Calendula Cream Bath ($17) to gently sponge bathe your little one and add a layer of protection to the skin.After bathing your baby, dry the skin well and use Weleda Calendula Baby Cream to prevent irritation in the skin’s sensitive folds. Both the Weleda Baby Cream and Weleda Calendula Oil (often easier to rub in than lotion), provide an extra layer of warmth and protection while keeping your baby’s skin moisturized and protected from environmental factors. Although keeping an infant’s skin clean is important, bathing a baby every two or three days issufficient, since daily bathing can destroy the skin’s natural pH level. Just wash your infant’s hands and face daily with plain, clean water. Stick to products made with 100% natural, plant-based ingredients and avoid mineral oils, which disturb your baby’s natural skin function. For more great info on making your kid's bath a great experience and to view other great Weleda products (like my favorite Calendula Diaper Care cream), visit

Thursday, June 3, 2010

interview: Marissa Shipman, the brains behind theBalm

Hopefully, many of you tuned in tonight to watch theBalm Cosmetics CEO/Founder Marissa Shipman on MTV’s latest docu-series, “MTV Hired”. The episode followed the cult-favorite beauty brand as they searched for a new office assistant. In the callback interviews, the three final applicants were asked to pitch a new product idea to the staff of theBalm.
What's so great about theBalm that makes it MTV-worthy? It's a cool concept created by a really smart, makeup-loving gal--CEO/Founder Marissa Shipman. I love the chic, 1950-esque packaging (Bahama Mama), the cute comments in the compacts (Cabana Boy), the easily blendable tinted moisturizer (Balm Shelter) and the creamy feel of Read My Lips lipstick (especially in Classified, a very nude, natural-looking shade). I asked Marissa a few questions about her famous line...

Prettyisprettydoes: How did you come up with the concept and names for the line/products?
Marissa Shipman:
"I bought 11 books on Amazon about how to make makeup. I could not read any of the recipes because they were all hard core chemistry – except one, lip balm – shea butter, beeswax and castor oil—hence, theBalm was born."

PIPD: Which is your favorite product and why?
"This is like asking which child you like better. I love them all for different reasons. I can’t leave the house without timeBalm, though."

PIPD: Which one of your products is the most technically advanced or has the most unique formula and why?
"What’s great about our For Keeps Watercolor Lip Stains is that you just wet your lip brush with a little water, dip it into the pressed-powder, and presto! You have a long-lasting stain that you paint onto your lips. Like watercolor paints, you can mix and match to create your perfect shade, and depending on how much water you use, you control how bold or subtle your look."

PIPD: What's the biggest bty blunder you've ever made personally?
MS: "Before we invented Stainiac, I used a cheek stain that didn’t give me enough time to blend before the stain set, and was left walking around with big dots on my cheeks. I don’t mind clowning around, but I do mind looking like one."

PIPD: What’s next for theBalm?
"Lots of new products – but can’t get specific or everyone will do them." :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

expert advice: tips for choosing a sunscreen, from Rhea Grous, La Suite Skin Care

When it comes to the sun, protection is key. Rhea Grous, beauty guru and owner of La Suite Skin Care, offers this advice for choosing the right sunscreen and using it correctly.

1. USE A BROAD SPECTRUM SUNSCREEN WITH A MINIMUM SPF of 15. It covers all the spectrum of sun rays. Look for a product that has ingredients such as transparent zinc oxide or titanium dioxide which are best for sensitive skin. (This is a physical sunscreen that reflects the sun). Some key chemical ingredients found in broad spectrum sunscreens are oxybenzone, avobenzone, and mexoryl (ecamsule). People with sensitive skin should avoid too many chemicals as they may cause irritation.

2. APPLY SUNSCREEN 30 MINUTES BEFORE AND REAPPLY EVERY TWO HOURS TO GET THE PROPER COVERAGE. In order to maintain the proper strength and coverage, sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours. Also, heat will deteriorate the efficacy of sunscreen, therefore reapplying is a MUST. To avoid compromising the potency of protection, don’t leave your sunscreen in hot places!

3. LOOK FOR ANTI-OXIDANTS (Vitamin C and E) - they increase protection! Many sunscreens today contain anti-oxidants to strengthen their effectiveness and to offer added protection against free radicals preserving the anti-aging process. When it comes to the face and neck areas, I recommend applying vitamin C serum separately (Skinceuticals is our favorite at La Suite), then apply sunscreen. It strengthens the immune system of the skin while making it twinkle. This layering process maximizes protection against aging, burning, and skin cancer.

4. LOOK OUT FOR ADDED INGREDIENTS THAT MAY IRRITATE SKIN - Some sunscreens may include too many chemicals (to achieve broad spectrum), fragrances, preservatives and other ingredients that may cause skin reactions, particularly for sensitive skin types.

5. WATCH FOR LABELS – Read carefully and be aware, all labels are NOT always factual! Look for water resistant products; if it says waterproof, it's not accurate as it can it can be washed off. Look for sunscreen, not sunblock – no product blocks uv sun rays, it screens harmful rays. (There is no bullet proof vest!) Watch out for all day protection. No sunscreen lasts all day – see #2 and reapply every 2 hours! (*Note - Physical sunscreen works by reflecting the sun and has less chemicals that may irritate sensitive skin; chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun and transferring it into heat.)

No matter which sunscreen you choose, follow these tips to sun safely for a healthy, happy summer. For more info on Rhea Grous or La Suite, go to