Why Are Lipsticks Like Marie Antoinette


We knew it, you confirmed it - the most important quality that you seek for in a lipstick is -
Color
Then as well - consistency, texture, coverage, long lasting, moisturizing, no smell, no irritating ingredients, "lightness", cost , packaging, company reputation...
In this blog, i would add definitions so as to make sure we are talking of the same shit.  I know there is the risk that I might sound like one of those preacher/academics clutching an aspirin between their ass cheeks, but please bear with me as I noticed that some terms are used when another is meant -
As I have read your comments, I was pretty sure that most of you have had your share of disappointments, some self-inflicted but most are marketing induced.

With this blog, even if it is a little on the tight-ass academic side, I hope to somehow give you info that will help either manage your expectations or detect a bullshit to stop further unnecessary disappointments.

Lipstick 101 Lesson One:   Lipstick 1,2,3

This is the lipsticks composition-
formula     +      pigments    +    fragrance 
The formula is made of  (base texture + actives) which was discussed in a previous blog and the same principle applies for lipsticks.
  • Pigments are those that impart either color (dyes) or sparkle (ie, pearls, minerals...)
  • And of course, fragrance added which you all agreed to hate.   BUT-  Lipsticks being made of wax, SMELL of wax - some more rancid than others.   Oftentimes, we have no choice but to add fragrance because the option is much worse. We just have to deal with it.
Lipstick 101 Lesson Two:  More to the texture than meets the eye

You normally equate a texture for its finish as we like distinguishing them- matte, shiny, sheer, pearl- but in fact a texture is more than that.

A formula will intrinsically have the following characteristics:
  • glide - how smoothly the lipstick slides on your lips upon application. So a lipstick will either have a good glide or by your terminology, gritty - poor glide.
  • comfort - if it feels like you are wearing nothing when you apply the lipstick, it is said to be comfortable. The more you feel that you are wearing something, the less comfortable it is.
  • payoff - if the color intensity when applied is less that that you see in the bullet, the lipstick is said to have less/low color payoff. 
  • coverage
  • wear - how long it will last
  • and yes - finish. (matte, semi matte, sheer...)
And our task is to make sure that these characteristics respond to those of your expectations.  And we base your expectations to the brands that you can afford.

Evil, but true.  I will not give you Chanel qualities if your point of comparison is Avon.

Lipstick 101 Lesson Three:  Actives "enhance" the formula's performance properties - (or do they really?)

These are the usual claims that you will hear from the likes of me:
1)  moisturizing - we add more emollients or vitamins or plant extracts and we hell make sure to claim.  Everyone is just compelled to have this.
2) long lasting - to really increase the wear of the lipstick, we add what we call volatiles in the formula.  Ingredients that, evaporate as you apply the lipstick to fix the formula to your lips.  With continued usage, this is guaranteed to dry up your lips.  No ifs, buts about it.
To see which lipsticks have this, just look at the packaging they come with.  Are they air tight? (you know those longer proportioned slimsticks? Most of them are in these packaging and they have this distinct "click" when you close them).    
3) no transfer - works in the same principle as long lasting lipsticks.   What is good for your married man lover to hide you from his wife, is bad for your lips.  Both cases, you lose.
4) sun protection factor, SPF -  Ok, here is the deal with sun protection.  Because all lipsticks contain pigments,  the pigments in itself act as a shield - so in effect, all lipsticks will have a certain protection value to them, the darker and more pigmented, the higher.   
The thing is- if I want to claim to have SPF , there are two things i need to do- 
  • First - is to subject it to an independent SPF testing that costs money (which is nothing  for a big brand).  Side note :  i can claim SPF 5, 8, 10, 12, 15... nothing in between like 11, 6.  If my lipstick tests 14, I have to claim 12.  That's the regulation.
  • Second, I have to add an active SPF ingredient to it.  (I am not allowed to claim SPF based just on the natural protection of the pigments.) 
 Most common active SPF ingredient is titanium dioxide which is a white pigment.  
This is a bummer.   
Because first, as an active ingredient, it may affect the stability/performance of my formula.  So sometimes, a formula is already beautiful but with its addition, the properties are affected.   
Second, the white pigment affects how the color registers - so particularly tricky in color matching!
There ends our lesson on basics of Lipsticks.  Whew!  (Nosebleed)
With this working knowledge, I now unleash the the bitches.

As far as lipsticks go, there are two things that you should know.

 Bullshit N°1  The curse of Marie Antoinette
"You cannot have your cake and eat it too.  (But as we are marketing biatches, we will make it appear you can.)"  
OR paraphrasing-
You cannot have something without sacrificing another thing.
  • If you want it creamier, then it will be softer and bullet will be weaker, less comfort
  • If you want it moisturizing, then it will not last as long. If long lasting, then it is drying
  • If you want better glide then you have to lighten the formula ie, pigment, sparkle, cream
  • and so on...

    Sure we can balance qualities somewhat- but if you want more of something, you are bound to get less of something else- you studied that in Science, action-reaction - that is just how nature works.

    And yet- we will never say it that way- you will always feel you are getting every freaking thing your heart desires! That is also why you have come to demand more from your lipstick- because we would like to pretend to be giving you more.






So, the moral of this lesson is -  

If your true NEED is to really have a beautiful color, do not ask for everything from your lipstick formula or you will end up with mediocre qualities.
  • If you must have moisturizing, then accept to reapply lipstick more frequently.
  • If you refuse to reapply frequently, then apply a lip balm/moisturizer first before you apply your long lasting lipstick.
  • If you must have a high SPF protection, then apply an SPF balm as an extra layer 
Sorry, there is NOT one product that will have all the superlatives.   NONE.  NADA. RIEN. NIENTE.

You either accept that, or keep on buying bullshitful of products and keep on being disappointed over and over and over again.

 Bullshit N°2  It's never only about the "color".


What determines the color is not just the pigments but the combination of formula+pigments.
You know this really. 
If I go to my lab with a color swatch and ask them to match it on the existing formula that we use, not unless the formula is similar, I will not have the same result.
It is like applying paint on plastic against applying it on a concrete wall.  The color will take on the characteristic of the material that it is applied to.  
The matte, semi matte, sheer as you know are more a function of formula and not pigment.   
If you want the pearl/shiny lipstick- this is now based on adding shiny pigments like pearls, minerals... A shiny ingredient i like is called metashine, they're really fine particles of brilliance which, the last time i checked is not allowed in latin america but is ok with the rest of the world.  
If you add sparkles/pearls, the color perception will not be the same- but most of the time, we throw the request to our labs- that goes- oh i want this but with sparkles.  The lab will have to adjust the pigments with the sparkles.  It is not that straightforward.  But that is their problem.
Now some formula can take in a lot of color pigments and some cannot.
Some can take in sparkles and pearls and some don't.
So If i pick a certain formula for my line, I will have a range of colors, pigmentation, sparkle limitations.

Now you might wonder (like I did) why I just don't use different formulas to have as varied an offering as possible?

Aha!  You have forgotten that my main point here is to make money.

If I have a common formula for one whole line, it is cheaper to have tons of one common formula made and then just add pigments afterwards rather than having several kilos of formula for each shade.

That is also the main thinking that goes to separating a line of mattes, semi mattes, sheers, frosted, creamy... so I can optimize use of a formula to many shades.

Plus, for every formula used, I have to make a series of tests and then register to each and every country I sell to.  That process of registration costs me a lot of energy and money.

So less formula i have, less i spend, more the Council of the Clueless earn.

Bullshit N°2 The Carmine Corollary
Something on pigments.  There is this certain type of crimson red lipstick which is so vivid and beautiful that no self respecting brand will not have this color.  I personally call it Rowena Red but you can more relate to it as China Red (you can see it in one of my colour matching example).  All the women in my family wear this color for occasions when we mean business.   
This type of red is near impossible to create without using a pigment called Carmine.
And guess where carmine comes from?  Crushed beetles.     
Everyone has it-  yes, even the company B.S. the first to boast of natural everything!   
No animal testing?  Sure!
Animal slaughtering? Definitely!    
Look I am comfortable in my place in the food chain and I will trade my ex-boyfriend for barbecue.   I wear leather and have a few mink stoles.  And, if there is a real possibility of dying of starvation, it is plausible that I will eat a vegan, so I will not be casting a stone here.

But what I think is, go ahead if you feel like killing em beetles in the name of beauty, but do not go beating your chest with self righteousness about not harming/testing the animals and all that BS.  Just own to it! I will respect you more for that.  (Natalie Portman may not agree - but then again, what is this she's wearing?!)

Prelude to the Lipstick


Prior to make my next blog post on lipsticks,  I would like to ask for audience participation from you, dear readers.

It is quite simple what I ask - in your own words, can you please tell me the qualities that affect your decision for the purchase of a lipstick?

It will help if you enumerate it from 1 onwards, 1 being the most important criteria.  But if you feel that simple enumeration is not enough and you need to explain more in a sentence, a paragraph, an ode, a haiku, a sonnet, a novel- please feel free!

Answers in english are preferred but if you have difficulty in English, you may write in your own language- Deutsch, Vlaams, Nederlands, Français, Italiano, Espagnol, Português, Dansk, Norsk, русский язык, Tagalog, हिन्दी, 日本語, 汉语/漢語, 한국어/조선말, ภาษาไทย, العربية .. heck any language catered to by google translate.

This will help me write the article in a way that best addresses your main concerns.
Thank you in advance and have fun!

The French Cleavage Club

(Photo Credit: Miss Piggy)

I find that for me to better explain what happens in cosmetics, it helps to give you a glimpse as well of its behind the scenes even if writing it causes me nights of profuse nosebleeding.  (And you will know it when i try to throw you a bunch of Rowenaism crap)

Anyway, when you enter the world of cosmetics, my word of warning will be something that is nicked from the dead Italian poet Dante, 
"Lasciate ogni speranza, vol ch'entrate."  
translating to queen's english -
"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
that  I further translate for Snoop Doggy Dog,
"WTF?"
***

 And the very first thing you learn on the very first day you work with cosmetic is this -
"Thou shalt not look impressed!"   
And by this, I mean that when you see a parade of 7 million eyeshadows before you, you must restrain yourself from all forms of gasping, swooning, salivating, giggling, drooling, clapping, jumping, begging for samples and all forms of girly-giddy-up behavior.

When you look too impressed, that screams "amateur".  You DON'T want that!
To illustrate, imagine that you are a tourist in Paris walking all smiles, wide - eyed  in Champs-Elysée, not daring to blink an eye for fear of  missing a second of this Parisian splendor.  I mean- man- this IS fucking Paris, the fucking city of lights, fashion, fragrance and all that dog crap!
But wait-  look at the locals - they look miserable in such an awesome place.   And, what is this?  They smirk at tourists!  They feel like they have more right being in Paris and that these tourists, the same ones giving them income, are pestering nuisances!
So, going back to my cosmetics analogy, Paris is the cosmetics, tourists are the amateurs and the beauty insider - will be the arrogant Parisian strutting and owning the place.

***

To work in cosmetics, it is not necessary that you can tell the difference between a foundation brush and a blush brush or that you can execute a perfect smudged eye.

What matters are- you can input data in an excel sheet, make musical powerpoint presentations,  take clippings from magazines to express your "feelings"  about a collection and show potential of being a class A bullshitter (aka, marketing skills).

If you can talk make up texture layering, that is a plus, but it will only come handy after you have proven your bullshitting mettle.
Think of it as a beauty pageant.  First you have to be pretty enough to be in the top 10 semi finalists, before you can WOW them at the Q&A portion.  Without passing the qualifying beauty round, your intellect, alas, is not worth shit.  
There are a lot of jobs in the cosmetic industry- but you probably would aspire to be where the shades are named - the global central -where all the wondrous, magical bullshit happens.  And you would like to be that person who names the shades- the  product manager, or who i call from here on, the baby-mamas.  (but I, of course get to direct and approve them- I once named a shade after our CEO- VanDiesel , and I expected it to sell jillions, but the CEO chickened out and I had to name the shade Brad instead)

I have worked with many a baby-mama, and from my experience, I can classify them into two.  (Yes, I make a sweeping generalization with a sample group of  8- but heck, that is how we do it in cosmetics, so do not expect me to reinvent the wheel here)

There are, for me, the good baby mamas -

They are good natured and with real talent,  If I were to cast one to play them in a movie, I will cast Zooey Dechanel (in my part of the world, it makes more sense to call her Zoë, but I suppose she couldn't be bothered with the umlaut).    Zooey can look at a woman, tell what make up products she is wearing, identify which brand-  and if she is on fire, can even name the shade- (amongst other more useful talents, of course)
This is a trick of not only knowing the products but as well having a knack for stereotyping the woman and linking a brand that responds to that stereotype.  (I know it is evil, but yeah, we do that)
  • Does she work at the post office? Then she must be using Nivea
  • Does she have a chihuahua and a rhinestone tiara? Chances are she is wearing Dior.
  • Does she look stuck in a time space warp? Then, it must be Revlon
  • Is she working two jobs? Then it must be Avon
  • Is she going out with a boy young enough to be her son? Then it could be Helena Rubinstein.
The downside to Zooey's is that she has a low PQ (political quotient).  In a big company (if, she can enter there at all), she will eventually get disillusioned and retire to a more fulfilling endeavor or just rot away overpassed by one promotion to another.   

THEN, oh then, there will be the second type -  the evil incarnates, proof that Rosemary's baby is alive, has grown up and is living amongst us.

It is perhaps by sheer chance that most of them that I have met are French and walk the corridors with a whole lot of cleavage carried like some badassitude.

They are circus ring masters who work the headquarters from the lunch delivery boy (i love you!), to the council of the clueless.  They got politicking down to a science and do not have time (nor the talent)  for creative endeavors - which is ok because they are very adept in grabbing the credit from others who produce the ideas (the Zoës, the suppliers, the lunch boy...)

They tend to be very successful in the organization and they are promoted easily to the next level.  A good landing ground for them is the fragrance category as this is the eeeeeeeeeasiest category amongst cosmetics with hell of a lot of pomp and pageantry and almost nil requirement for talent.

And, btw, did i mention that fragrance is easy?
Proof is that I have launched more than a dozen fragrances whilst I cannot smell shit (i ruined my sense of smell as a child from excessive nose bleeding  fighting off school bullies).  I am known to eat spoiled food because I cannot smell that they have turned rancid.  I swear!   (But now, that I have made this stupid admission, for the sake of this blog, my market value for fragrances must now gone down by 2 notches.)

If I were to cast the french cleavage club, I would cast Miss Piggy for the budding baby mama (i know, Miss Piggy is somehow nice, but the resemblance is just so striking!) and that mega talented french actress, Mimie Mathie - as the fragrance evil overlord.

Ok, I know I am bitching, and I must confess I am really, really enjoying it, but watch me now as i try to weasel my way into making a point out of all of this ...

The company's structure will have an effect on the brand image.  Which ones will have the soul of Zoë and which ones are the dull by-product of the machinery of extensive research *aherm*nivea* borne of the French Cleavage Club?

I am sure you can guess which is which!

The bigger the company, the more politicking you will have, the more of the French Cleavage Club you will get and the less inspired, dull and distilled your brands will be. (And what did we say about sweeping generalizations?)

But aside from this- there are of course other things to consider.  Does that make these products, these children of a lesser god, inferior?   Not necessarily...

The plot thickens ... and it will be unravelled in the next blogs...

Coming up on the next blog- "Why are lipsticks like Marie Antoinette?"

Rowenaism #10


Saying I do not know is a convenient excuse. 
You live, therefore you should learn- whatever age or subject matter. 

This Rowenaism has been with me since I was a puppy until now that I am a full-grown biatch.  I adopted it since I read this blurb about learning, which I share below (i did not write it, i wish i did).  

I think it might have come from the book Excalibur as there is some old fart called Merlin who is doing the lecturing.   Hope it can help you as much as it did me- it really saved my sanity from my darkest moments when instead of self-destructing, I chose to learn.

I didn't dare change anything, here goes:
"The best thing for being sad, " replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something.  That is the only thing that never fails.
You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world around you trampled in the sewers of baser minds.  There is only one thing for it then- to learn.
Learn why the world wags and what wags it.
That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust and never dream of regretting.
Learning is the thing for you.
Look at what a lot of things there are to learn- pure science, the only purity there is.  You can learn astronomy in a lifetime, natural history on three, literature in six.
And then, after you have exhausted a million lifetimes in biology and medicine and theocriticism and geography and history and economics, why, you can start making a cartwheel out of the appropriate wood and spend fifty years learning to begin to learn to beat your adversary at fencing.
After that, you can start again on mathematics until it is time to learn to plough."

Color match like a pro


This is a special tiny blog in response to a query by one of my fabulous followers, Vonzi who asks for a brand of the really black liners.

First, when we use "carbon black"  we tend to brag about it (if it is still news, that is).  So you can just pinpoint those who say black in so many superlatives.

Second, I have seen a lot of great reviews of beauty bloggers out there who are more hands-on and more into brands (If I can, I try not to name brands here).  And I believe you will be in good hands with their recommendations, you just have to sniff the real McCoys from the paid bloggers.


Third, since this blog aims to teach you how to fish and not to give you fish-  I have included here a little practical tip for you.


Here it goes with a very marketing blurb intro:
 Will your life never be the same without your discontinued shade of lipstick ?
Have you ever had the perfect shade of foundation in an old texture and would like to find the same color in a better formulation?
Or have you ever bought what you thought are identical shades of green eyeshadow only to find upon application a gargantuan difference (which is - the original makes you simmeringly* sexy, and the other one, makes you Shrek, the sequel)?
In these instances, it helps to learn a nifty little trick used by the pros.

How to counter color match!  Yes, Virginia- there is a proper way!

Since this is instructional, it is best to demonstrate with a video which i enclosed below.  Sorry, there is no voice for now.  I am not yet ready to cross over to audio.
  1. First, you smear the original color on your arm in two diagonally opposing bars.  You mark that "control" with a check.
  2. Then, you smear the color you are considering, opposite the two bars.
  3. This way, you can compare the two colors better.
    Easy, but powerful trick that could save you millions!
Note, this works with emulsions (liquid liners, mascaras, foundations), powders, pencils and lipsticks.  Unless you are sadomaso, try not to try on your arms with nailpolishes!

Go forth and color match!

video

*yes, i do invent words every now and then, if i do not find the one that i need in the dictionary.

PS

Another tip- you do not need to spend a lot with those make up removers.  
One of the best that we use are- drumroll please.....
....
....
Baby Wipes!

Rowenaism #5


This is to all my awesome followers- special mention to Daily Nail who said it so herself.  :-)
Ok, so I am buying time before my next big posting with these Rowenaisms.  Please bear with me, damn facebook is such a time waster!


Rowenaism #3



(Photo credit: Elizabeth Taylor)

Rowenaism #1



It is not because I do not want to help you-  it is because I do.

(Photo Credit:  Vilma Santos in Mars Ravelo's Darna)

Rowenaism N°2



Am I right or am I right?


Clint's Rules + Rowenaism N°4

(Photo credit: Rita Hayworth)

In spite of the fact that I swear like a shoemaker- (and yes, shoemakers,  for I do not know what reason, are the swearingest people that ever walked this civilized earth),  I would like to believe and assure you that I am a positive person.  
Speaking of shoemakers, let me tell you a little more about me -  I grew up in a town that makes shoes.  The people are hardworking but are also easygoing- so we make shoes 6 days a week and on the 7th day, we spend all that we earned and then some.  (At least we do not need to buy shoes- which is where most women go bankrupt on.)
We greet each other with "Hey you son of a b*tch, I haven't seen you a long time, what the f*ck have you been doing with your life?"  Which is our way of expressing our most sincere love, respect and appreciation of each other. 
I wish I was making this up, but this is all true.   Unfortunately,  you cannot verify my statement at wikipedia - but, perhaps I can ask our town mayor to write a certification of some sort on this matter.  Needless to say, I love my small town and its people very dearly.
So to those who are  offended with my filthy shoemaker mouth,  I offer you my sincerest apologies from the bottom of my heart - and I f*cking mean it.  Really.  I swear on all the shoes that our town has ever made.

Anyway, as I couldn't wrack my brains all the time with all this cosmetic bullshit (heck, blogs are supposed to be fun for both you and me!),  I interject it every now and then with thoughts of positivity- and believe it or not, this is one of them.

So, if the love of my life, Clint Eastwood, can have his Clint's Rules, which I enclose here- specially formatted by me in his honor, then I also have my Rowenaisms starting with Rowenaism N° 4 here.


(Photo credit: Clint Eastwood)


Deciphering Mascara Claims




In spite of the inconveniences of the mascara, most of us just cannot live without this biatch - and i perfectly feel your pain.

In retrospect, I think my life would have turned out better if I had thick, long, voluminous lashes - i could have argued convincingly and albeit charmingly to my teachers into having straight A grades; I could as well have given the right mating signal to the perfect guy without being mistaken to have mislocated contact lenses;  I could have woken up and just be instantly fabulous- heck!

Speaking of the perfect man, I heard a good joke lately- 
Why are men like parking spaces?  
Because all the good ones are taken, and the available ones are either too small or handicapped. 
So, in the camaraderie of our common pain, here is to help with your mascara quest - some tips to help sniff out the bullshit out of 'em good 'ol mascara claims.

PLASTIC MOLDED BRUSH
The plastic molded brush is an "innovation" as far as production technique is concerned - but NOT repeat, NOT performance.

This is just because they found a way to mold plastic to take on this complex form and thus, does not have the limitations of the hair wound on wire. 

So theoretically, they can have any form, any color they want that the mold design limitations allow.  Yeah- plastic brushes are sssssexy (if like me, plastics are your kind of thang, and I can explain that).

Now the thing is, before they can see if a new plastic brush can perform well for real, they have to invest millions in a mold or an expensive prototype which works in "theory".
And if it doesnt work in practice, you think we will throw the million mold away?
Hell no! That is where the magic of the priestesses of bullshit comes in.

CURLING
The hope for droopy lashes, common with, for example - Asian lashes, are curling mascaras. They have a resin in the formula that makes lashes sort of curb up - but it can only do so much.
The fact that curling mascaras have a curved brush is just plain marketing BS. It is but a mnemonic that doesn't add to its performance.

WATERPROOF
This is bad shit. As in really!*
Our lab techs wear a full radioactive proof gear when they handle this (Ok, i exaggerate but you get the idea). These are harmful to your lashes and with continued use makes them wither and die. As well, the formula has nothing to do with its non-waterproof version. We only say it is the water proof version of our best selling mascara so that the good sales and brand equity rubs off on it. (And it works!)

But of course, as marketing-know-all-geniuses, we do not listen to our lab people's warnings and we make a killing on waterproof mascara during the summer months - especially on those who want to look fabulous at all costs in land and in water. We figure, if you use it only during the summer months, chances are you will not trace the demise of your lashes to this product- so everyone, that means mainly us - are happy.

WATER RESISTANT
Water resistant is the industry's alternative to the waterproof mascara. They are never 100% smudge-proof- just smudge resistant but we have our way of putting that into words that make you believe that they are- try -weather proof, life proof, city proof- depends how devious the copywriter is.  Well, at least it is not as toxic.

CARBON BLACK
This is a black pigment which is blacker than most. But this is banned in the US and Latin America- so you only get this in Europe. Well at least, that is so, the last time I checked. So Americans, take the chance to buy your mascaras, sparkly eyeshadows when you next go to Europe- as regulations there are more lenient with what you put on the eye as you have in America.

LASH GROWTH
Now, there is a very important technicality in naming products that we, bullshitters play up all the time.
I can call  my mascara Rowena's Lash Growth mascara without having to give proof that it does make your lash grow.  Why?  Because the "Lash Growth" is considered a product name, NOT a product claim.  It is like calling the daughter "Bella" (that is, "Beautiful" in Italian- for those living in the New World) when the mother should rather be called "Delusionada".

It may be called the lash growth mascara but never will it appear in the claims that it makes your lashes grow.   And as far as lash growth mascaras are concerned, they are pure BS.  But I am sure you know that!

This is as well a trick used with "Lifting" skin care products.  You will see that the product name has some "lift" in one way or another figured into it but never will it say "lifting" in the claims.  Slimy eh?  Just slightly.  There is more to it in my next blogs.


* This initially said, "toxic" shit.  But since the word can be misconstrued to mean "teenage mutant ninja toxic" and not "britney spears toxic" and since i do not aspire to inspire havoc a la Annie Leonard, I have since modified the word "toxic". 

The Tyranny of Ingredients


When I meet make up artists or self confessed beauty addicts, the "serious" ones normally try to establish their high ground by throwing me their knowledge of ingredients.

I find it quite amusing ...  yet so utterly futile!

If only they knew how we get to decide on ingredients, they would have spent their time in more fulfilling endeavors like sorting the trash, organizing their itunes folder or heck, even watching the Phat Gay Kid do some riffing.  (who, btw  i found initially amusing, but has gotten old soon as he started to think he can actually make money from his "talent")

Ingredients can be classified into 2 components-
  1. base ingredients - those that determine how the texture will behave (in the "biz", we call this the base texture or plainly, texture)
  2. actives - those are the ingredients added to the base texture and that allow us to claim that it does things or suggest that it can.  Like make your complexion look so radiant that you will bellow with so much self confidence that will give less attention to your saggy ass that will make you attract your very own Mr. Big, that will land you a job in a fashion magazine and make you have a fabulous wardrobe, travel around the world and just f*cking have it all!
What gets to be used in base ingredients will be totally dependent on our lab but they have to respect two things -
first is the Regulations,
second is the product brief which comes from the marketing department.
Regulations define amongst other things, what ingredients are allowed.  And regulations differ from one country to another.  But basically, one country patterns its regulations from 3 known standards as follow-
  1. the FDA standard (United States Food and Drug Administration) - applicable in the US and Latin America, some other parts of the world
  2. the EU standard - applicable in EU, parts of middle east and of recent, most of Asia (except for Japan) has patterned its regulations after this
  3. and the strictest, Japan regulations  (If you wonder, this is one way for Japan to control influx of  foreign competition- by being such pernickety biatches)
You will find for example that your eye products (mascara, eyeshadow, eyeliner) in the US will have less sparkles or that your black nail polish or mascara to be less black than that in Europe.  This is due to the difference of which ingredient each regulation will allow or not.

Anyway, my concern is that so long as our labs comply with all the regulations of countries we are distributing to (which is the lab's problem) -  I only need to be concerned that the texture behaves the way I want it to as stated in the product brief.  For example -  lipstick doesn't drag, is not drying, wears long ... i simplify my requirements for this blog's purpose, but my product briefs are in real life- blue blood bitches.

Oh, as well, the labs additional headache is in making sure the texture is stable.  Have you ever seen a foundation, a nail polish separating into layers?  That is texture being an unstable bitch to you.

So, that covered- as far as base ingredients go, I could not give a shit really.

Now, how actives are decided, it is best to give you here an excerpt of our normal conversations with our lab people:
Moi    :   I want to be able to claim that my lipstick is moisturizing, what do you have?
Lab    :   Well, i can give you Vitamin E or A
Moi    :  I want something plant sounding.
Lab    :   You can cite rather the plant origin like aloe vera
Moi   :   Aloe vera is old news, what else do you have?
Lab    :   Well, the texture can take  Dogwood or Marigold...
Moi    :   I don't  like the "dog" in that name, this Marigold, what is its color?
Lab    :   It's yellow...
Moi   :   Dang! Yellow will not go well with the color of my packaging.  Do you have white marigolds? Oh, wait- i can just take a nice picture of marigold buds, so it doesn't have to be too yellow.  I'm a genius!
Lab   :  BUT If you use aloe vera, then we can put enough percentage there so it is really moisturizing.  With marigold, we can only put in quarter of a lepton - not enough to make your lipstick moisturizing.
Moi   :  But I can say "contains marigold with moisturizing properties"
Lab   :  Yes, but you cannot say "moisturizing lipstick".
Moi   : So you can put both aloe vera and marigold and i can say "Moisturizing lipstick with marigold"?
Lab : Yes.
Moi : How much more will it cost for me to have both?
Lab  : You will just be 1/1000th of a cent over budget.
Moi :  No way!  Just put marigold and i will stick with the claim "contains marigold that has moisturizing properties". 
And (addresses product babymamas)please find me a good story on marigold that the copywriters can wax poetry over and have this as central story in our press communiques to beauty editors, and product review bloggers.  Be sure to have a goodie bag that is marigold inspired.  And remember- picture of just marigold buds- i don't want a yellow campaign.
So, if you would recall talking to me at some point about ingredients and me nodding my head profusely,   you know what I was thinking at that point - sorting the garbage.

Now- let us blue sky this and say, I start really caring about ingredients.  So here I am, Rowena, talking passionately about aloe vera and marigold to the Council of the Clueless...
Council :  "Rowena, will you stop being an amateur, cut through this ingredient bullshit and give us the bottom line.   By how much is this bitch going to make us richer?"
Morale of the story -  if you really are passionate about ingredients, being a chemist might be for you.
But that will be an existence worse than spending eternity in an underground parking as you will have to satisfy the whims of ignoramuses like me in the marketing department who in turn have to deal with even bigger ignoramuses like the Council of the Clueless.

And the Council lives richer ever after.

Those outrageous, outrageous claims!


(Photo Credit: Vilma Santos in Mars Ravelo's Darna)


You know why mascaras are coming up with outrageous claims nowadays? 


It is because the industry has found ways to test and quantify test results - that is all. It is not necessarily because we develop better products.


I once developed a baby called 5000% volume mascara. Somebody sued us for making outrageous claims. 



Our defense was easy - yes, we claim to increase lash volume 5000% - but to attain that, you have to stroke your lashes 5000 times. 
And did you? I don't think so. Your honor, i rest my case.


And really, no use suing cosmetic companies.  Do we HAVE lawyers!  
One very evil juggernaut of a company's side business is actually to trademark, register and patent everything- (even those technology not belonging to them!) , then sues everyone who vaguely resembles these patents and- wins!  How I pity the supplier that cross their paths.  
Why, I suspect that their main source of income is actually from litigation.
This mascara is still a bestseller.  
Doesn’t matter if majority who tried it are disappointed. The way I have this bold claim makes them buy. Then in 3 years, I will launch another sexier bolder mascara and the evil cycle begins.   
Mwahahahaha!

Mascara Me Not


The mascara is the cosmetic industry's big kahuna.

Just see how much money we spend on mascara ads, tests, patents- and you will realize how important it is to us.  If the 24 shades of lipsticks sell say 6 Billion euros, the one black volumizing mascara sells more than half of that. It is the single product, or,  more precisely - sku (stock keeping unit- learn this if you have aspirations of going into cosmetic development) that brings in the most number of sales.

As a professional, we are judged by the number of successful mascara launches we have had, they are much like our oscar trophies - as the mascara's success pretty much depends on our talent to bullshit.

So, if i were to write a thriller about cosmetics, it will not be about the lipstick but it will be about the mascara. Maybe the plot will be about some Bionic Mascara developed by a geeky but sexy lab genius (Clive Owen would be good) that is stolen by an evil cosmetic juggernaut (yes, i would cast Sharon Stone again here as she did the role in catwoman, even if she is not French- for box office reasons). And then he is framed for death of his trusted colleague that actually betrayed him though he will find this out in the end .. blah, blah, blah...
Speaking of movies, ... 
it is a major source of irritation for me that for every movie adaptation of a book - there is always a smart arse saying- "the book is better".   I do not know if their point is to impress us that they read or that they are too anal to recognize the blaring reality that - haller!!!! they are different media, you cannot compare them.

Reading arouses all the 5 senses and takes day/s to complete (for you average readers anyway) while the film contends with just the two senses and has to be compressed in 2 hours- and yes, the director injects his own interpretation, otherwise, we will let the book author direct the film interpretation- and how many authors are as well directors- eh?
If you insist on the comparison- then watch your book in 2 hours and i will read the freaking movie!

But, i digress.

Inspite of the mascara's importance in the industry and in many a woman's life, I was never chummy with the mascara - I tell you why.

1) It is only effective on certain types of lashes- and that is not my type of lashes.
Yes, there is such a thing as not having the right lashes for a mascara. In fact, back in the lab, we screen mascara testers according to their lash quality
 Too short, too stubby, too straight, too sparse and you are disqualified.You will not give us the satisfaction of seeing the effect of our mascara and you will affect the claims that we want to get. So out you go.
Yes Virginia, we control all factors so we get the best test results. That makes me look good to the Council of the Clueless. Not that it gives me a better bonus- just allows me to keep my job longer until I save enough for a year hiatus.
 2) They will eventually smudge and in the worst possible moment
How many of you have made the mistake of going out, meeting a great guy, feeling everything right and then eventually spending the night at his place only to find that he doesn't have a proper make up remover and then so you try to wash your mascara with soap and water thinking that you have eliminated the last traces of them only to wake up the day after with who could have been your potential lifemate's scaredshit incoherence of your zombie-like racoon eye morning after revelation. Amen.
And so, the solution for lashes like mine is this- to learn to put on false eyelashes. Any occassion worthy putting on mascara is worth putting on full-on-in-your-face falsies. Think about it.

And do not bother buying those branded falsies. You can buy them at 1/1000th of the price in any Asian beauty supply store. Take note of that the next time you visit Asia.

If inspite of these reasons, you think that you still cannot live without the mascara, then at least learn to decipher the bullshit behind the mascara claims - coming up in the next blogs...

 ridiculous claims... plastic brush... waterproof, weatherproof, water resistant...carbon black...