Welcome to Those Graces

Thank you so much for stumbling upon my blog, Those Graces. This blog is a continuation of my previous blog, which was hosted on BlogSpot.com. I decided it was time to get more serious about blogging and thought it would be better late than never. As always, it is written by me, Courtney.

The new subscription feed is located here. Please read and subscribe! I also have a new email you may reach me at: courtney[@]thosegraces.com.

I look forward to all of what’s to come. Thank you for your continued patience in this move.

Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think of my new digs!

My Best Friend’s Wedding in Pittsburgh

This past weekend, I was up in Pittsburgh for my childhood best friend’s wedding. It was held in a quaint bed and breakfast located across the river from the University of Pittsburgh.  Did you know that city has some 1,300 bridges?  Second only two Venice, Italy?  I did not fact check this, the bride’s father told me.

Me and My Husband

I carried my makeup, camera and license in a little clutch I picked up at TJ Maxx.  I also had gray suede pumps on, which I also found at TJ Maxx. I didn’t take a picture of my whole outfit, but my shoes looked kind of like these except lighter.

We had a great time. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of Pittsburgh since there was a Steelers game on Sunday and I did not want to be stuck in game day traffic.  We’ll have to catch the 1,300 bridges next time!

How I Started Blogging

How has your blog changed over the months/years you’ve been blogging?

Though I’ve only had my fashion blog up and running since mid-July, I’ve been blogging for about 10 years through LiveJournal (LJ) as well as a hosted website I used to run. I started blogging because I love journaling and it just made sense to take it online. In my teens, I was very candid and unguarded with my feelings, especially since LJ offers you the option to make your posts “friends only.” However, over the years, I grew more guarded though I am still pretty open and honest on my LJ.

Since I started Those Graces my blogging has changed but not radically. I started with the idea that I wanted to talk about fashion and makeup and how I didn’t have much money for either. I think my blog started off as a strictly budget blog, but has since evolved to talk about important topics to me such as makeup safety.

What was one thing you did wrong in the beginning and how have you changed that?

When I first started with this fashion/beauty blog, I read a lot of articles and blogs to find out what was most popular. I saw blogs doing Outfit of the Day (OOTD) posts had huge followings, so I tried to do that. My heart wasn’t in it and I think the lack of comments on those entries proved my readers sensed that, too.

I also paid a lot of attention to my statistics in the beginning and worried I wasn’t getting enough views. I still look at them, but now it’s more of an “Oh, that’s interesting” type feeling.

When you visit a blog what’s the greatest turn off? The thing that makes you close the tab?

I personally do not enjoy blog entries that feature runway and celebrity photos. If I can see it in a professional magazine, why do I need to read it on a blog?

How did you find your voice?

Since I’ve always liked writing, I didn’t find this to be too difficult. I’m still struggling to balance my voice with my “how-to” posts. In these, I want to retain my own voice and yet be informative.

For me it was hard going from my community on LJ, where I’ve had a journal since 2001. So many people know how I speak, what I like to write about and about my life. Starting over here has been interesting as I constantly have to remind myself to tell my readers and community who I am.

If you had three pieces of advice to give to a new blogger what would those be?

Don’t read blogging how-to articles when you first start. Find your voice and worry about the rest later.

Don’t be afraid to change your layout. Allow yourself to be inspired by the layouts of other bloggers.

Find ways to connect with those who read your blog. This is my most favorite part of blogging–getting to know people. Find ways to share about yourself.

How Safe is Mineral Makeup?

“Is it Safe?”

It’s not uncommon to hear that more people believe that mineral makeup is less toxic and less harmful than regular makeup. As part of an ongoing discussion about makeup toxicity, we’ll answer general questions and concerns about the safety of mineral makeup by examining popular brands that are easily found in the drugstore.

Laws of the Land

Since the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) does not strictly regulate makeup or beauty products in the United States, millions of women are at risk of health problems related to toxic byproducts found in makeup since there are no health screenings of makeup or personal care products. Instead, the industry is self regulated by the Cosmetics Ingredient Review (CIR) Panel, which doesn’t sound that bad except that research has shown that the CIR only evaluated 11% of products.  That leaves all consumers vulnerable to purchasing products that contain chemicals known to be harmful to your health.

Source of Information

The following information comes from the Cosmetics Database, a free resource established by the Environmental Working Group. Please note that this database does not include an analysis of all items produced by a brand and therefore some information may be incomplete.

How are Products Rated?

Scores range from Low Hazard, Moderate Hazard, and High Hazard.  Scores are given with this rationale:

“The hazard score represents a synthesis of known and suspected hazards from more than 50 definitive databases. The hazard rating of a product can be higher than for its individual ingredients — it adds up the hazards of all ingredients, and is scaled higher if the product has penetration enhancers or other ingredients that increase skin absorption. This score is similar to the rating previously shown in Skin Deep, but now accounts for more safety references and we show it on a 0-10 scale (with no decimals, 10 corresponding to highest concern).”

Scaled for rankings are as follows:
0-2 Low Hazard
3-6 Moderate Hazard
7-10 High Hazard

Break Down by Brand

Rated Moderate Hazard to High Hazard

Nineteen Revlon products are listed with the Cosmetics Database that boast “Mineral” as part of their name. Products chosen for review represent  products from 3 out of the 5 categories including blush and bronzer, foundation and lip glaze in their mineral makeup line. Products not reviewed include finishing powder and concealer.

The 19 mineral products tested ranged from 5 to 9, from moderate hazard to high hazard.

7/19 rated 5, or moderate hazard (all lip glazes)
3/19 rated 6, or moderate hazard
2/19 rated 7, or high hazard hazard
6/ 19 rated 9, or high hazard

Of its safest products, the lipglazes all come in at 5s, in the middle of the moderate hazard category.  It most hazardous products that ranked 9 included foundation, blush, and eye shadow.

Rated Low Hazard to Moderate Hazard

Almay’s mineral line is named “Pure Blends,” which carries eye shadow, foundation and loose powder, according to their website.  The Cosmetics Database analyzed 15 products including  blush and pressed powder, items  that have been discontinued.  This review appears to be a very accurate picture of the Pure Blends line.
The 15 products tested range from low to moderate hazard from rating 2 to 5.

4/15 rated 2, or low hazard
9/15 rated 3, or moderate hazard
2/15 rated 5, or moderate hazard

The safest products include 2 eye shadows and 2 pressed powders, which are discontinued according to Almay’s website.  It most hazardous products ranked at 5 are loose powders.

Revlon and Almay are produced by the same company. While Revlon’s products scored moderate to high hazard, Almay appears to be the safer alternative.

Physicians Formula
Rated Moderate Hazard to High Hazard

While this brand carries several skin-friendly and environmentally-friendly lines, I am examining only makeup labeled as “Mineral Wear” makeup.  For a full listing of all lines produced by Physicians Formula (PF), please visit their website.

PF carries 11 categories of products in its mineral line including mascara and eyeliner, which Almay and Revlon do not produce as part of their mineral lines.  The Cosmetics Database reviewed 34 products representing 8/11 categories produced by PF.

The 34 products reviewed ranged from 4 to 7, from the moderate hazard to high hazard range:

7/34 rated 4, or moderate hazard
17/34 ranked 5, or moderate hazard
9/34 rated 6, or moderate hazard
1/34 ranked 7, high hazard

The safest products were several eyeliners and a brow liner ranked at 4.  The product rated high hazard was a bronzer, which was the only item to rank 7.

What Does It All Mean?

This was just a brief review of three brands. If you use other brands, I recommend that you visit the Cosmetics Database and find out what’s in your mineral makeup.  I chose to review readily available mineral makeups that do not cost more than $20 per product.  There are certainly other more expensive lines out there that you may be interested in researching.

This article was not to scare you! I wanted to shed light on an important issue and help to start answer the question, “Is Mineral Makeup Safe?”

*Please note that this entry was compiled using information free and available to the public.  All sources are cited and any conclusions made are based on research conducted. As per my disclosure policy, this blog does not feature products that are tested on animals, so if you are wondering why certain brands were left out, this may be the reason why.

Animal Testing Hypocrisy

I do not purchase makeup made by companies that test on animals. My dilemma lately isn’t over what’s bought by who, but rather how effective and rational my ideology is.  I have begun to realize that I am a hypocrite. 

Background first: I went vegetarian when I was 13-years-old until almost age 21, when I stopped because I was sick every month and malnourished. I began eating meat for about a year, then cut back to only fish until this past May when I returned to being a full-fledged vegetarian.  I originally started because my older sister didn’t eat meat. I continued on because it became habit.  Since quitting meat again in May, my reasons for being a vegetarian have changed: I care about animals and do not want to eat them.

I’ve been incorporating my beliefs over what goes into my body to what goes on my skin.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to purchase cosmetics made by companies that test on animals.

A word on this before you say “BUT!”: I do own Maybelline products. I bought them based on mis-information provided in the book Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, which listed them as a company that does not test finished products on animals.  With some very quick research, I realized that Maybelline is actually one of the biggest animal testing offenders.  I will continue to use them but will not repurchase. Secondly: If I am given by friends and families products from companies that test on animals, I do use these products but will not purchase them myself.

How useful is this strategy? That’s what I’ve been asking myself lately.  Let’s take Procter and Gamble (P&G), a huge company that makes everything from diapers to mascara. P&G is the parent company for many brands including CoverGirl, one of the bestselling makeup lines in the drugstore.

As you can guess, I haven’t purchased any CoverGirl products in well over a year due to the fact that P&G tests on animals.  However, I have bought Dawn dish soap, Bounty paper towels and Charmin toilet paper.  So while I’ve been actively boycotting one brand, CoverGirl, I’ve been throwing money into other P&G brands.

Tell me: Is it okay if the right hand knows not what the left hand does?