One thing that’s really fun about being a makeup artist is talking with clients, fellow artists, and friends about skin care.  At times I think that my next step will be to formally enter professional skin care, perhaps as an esthetician/facialist.

I always remind clients that the basic steps are the most important — cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, and protect (with sunscreen).  You take care of your skin, and your skin will take care of you.

I certainly have my favorite products which I will certainly talk about on this blog from time to time.  But I’m also not afraid to try new things, to see what’s new and trendy in skincare, what works, and what may satisfy my clients.  Some products I may choose to keep in my kit, others I’ll suggest for personal use.

Even before I started my own freelance business in the makeup industry, I’ve had friends and colleagues talk about “natural” or “chemical-free” products, and they would ask me, their makeup maven, for suggestions.  This is not a surprise to me, especially as we hear about studies linking the chemicals we are exposed to in our daily life having negative effects on our body.  Could exposure to pollution and chemicals (from BPA to PFCs) be affecting our immune systems and contributing to higher rates of cancer, asthma, and perhaps even diabetes and lower fertility?  I won’t get into a debate here on that subject, but I will say a recent study on the possible negative effect of PFC’s (perfluorinated compounds) on the efficacy of vaccines in children did get me thinking more about the pervasiveness of these materials (PFC’s are used in everything from pizza boxes to stain resistant clothing and carpet) and how they might be affecting our bodies.  In addition, I’ve noticed an increasing trend among my friends and clients to seek “botanicals,” “natural,” and “chemical-free” products.

A friend of mine introduced me to Erin Herman, a Chicago-area mother whose interest in keeping her and her family’s life as healthy as possible led her to Ava Anderson Products (she is now an independent consultant for the line).  I’ve been slowly trying nearly everything in the skin care line and overall I feel I can recommend the line to anyone who is looking for something without preservatives, without artificial fragrance, and without parabens, mineral oil, silicone, petrolatum, or sulfates.

What sets this line apart from other “botanical” or “natural” lines is that the products don’t just contain botanical and natural ingredients, they are just about the only things in the products!  One of the first things that struck me when I was looking over Erin’s website and on the product bottles when I received them is how few ingredients there are in each product, and only once did I have to look something up to know what it was.   The fact that they list all their ingredients on the website is so rare, and to test my theory I checked out Yves Rocher (an economical “botanically-based” line of skin care) and Arbonne International (a higher-end line of products that just a year or two ago hired the top researcher/product developer at Aveda to boost its “natural” credentials and improve the line), and in neither case could I find a complete list of the product ingredients on the site.

What also makes Ava Anderson products interesting is the small entrepeneur story — the line was created in 2009 by Ava Anderson and her family, inspired by Ava’s concern about ingredients in personal care products.  According to the company, Ava threw out most of her mother’s and grandmother’s products in her quest for makeup and skin care that would be “safe” for her and her family — something I would not recommend that teens or children do to their elders! — but from that passion the company was born.  The line is sold by independent sales consultants and therefore is not available in any store.

My shopping experience:  I was introduced to the line, as I mentioned earlier, by a friend who hosted an online party.  I admit at first that I was skeptical — I’ve been introduced to “all-natural” lines before, and every time, once I looked at the ingredient list, I would find that the only “all-natural” thing in the product was a bit of shea butter or sesame oil.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that these products do indeed contain essential oils, shea butter, etc., but that’s about it.  The only “non-natural” ingredients are certain emulsiers and emollients such as glyceryl stearate (FDA approved wax-like solid used in lotions, cleansers, foundations, and more) in the face cleanser and face moisturizer.  So, I decided to try a few items (see my reviews below).

The website is easy to use but not flashy.  You select your products and add them to the shopping cart, enter your purchasing information and register your name and email address to start an account.  If you are not working with a consultant, as I was, you can/will be directed to consultants in your area.  I did get a phone call from Erin after I placed my order since I was a new customer, but since then we’ve been communicating almost exclusively via email as I’ve been asking questions and she has been following up with me about the products I’ve tried.  I’ve ordered a total of three times now (once was for a gift for a co-worker’s baby), and every time the products have been delivered via UPS quickly.  Some of the products are available with a simple tissue gift wrap if you choose that option on the site.

The products:

NOTE:  Allergy sufferers and those with skin disorders should check the ingredients of any skin care product before use.  In this line, the ingredients include organic and natural botanicals, but that doesn’t guarantee that you won’t have a reaction.  Spot test first if you think a product in any skin care line may be an issue for you.

Diaper Cream — I do not have children, but this particular product is proving to be my favorite in the line to use on my own skin.  The ingredients are simple: organic olive oil, organic calendula extract, shea butter, lavender and chamomile essential oils, and jojoba oil.  It’s a heavier moisturizer and therefore is not recommended for the face (although I’ve been told that some customers of the line do use a very, very small amount on any super-dry or rashy areas), but as a body moisturizer it’s great.  Just be sure to use a small amount (it’s thick, so a little goes a long way) and rub it in gently but thoroughly.  It’s not at all sticky.  My favorite place to use it?  My neck and decolletage at night before bed.  I could swear that the skin on my neck especially has much better texture and the lines that I’ve developed on my neck now that I’m over 40 are softer.  Lavender and chamomile soothe sensitive skin, and calendula extract is an anti-inflammatory. Very mild, sweet fragrance from the essential oils that is not at all cloying or lingering.   $18.95 for an 8 oz. jar.

Toner —  Before trying this toner, I wouldn’t have recommended one to my clients due to the alcohol in the majority of toners.  When you are a teenager with overactive oil glands, the drying effects of an alcohol-based toner may be acceptable (I’m skeptical even of this), but as we age, alcohol in our skin care is a big, big no-no.  I’ve always told clients that if they feel they must use a toner, to do so very sparingly and follow with a really good moisturizer.  A natural alternative is witch hazel, which is the main active ingredient in the Ava Anderson toner, but it’s second after water so it’s definitely not going be over-drying.  The Ava Anderson toner also includes yucca glauca extract, which is an anti-irritant that also encourages cell turnover.  I also found one study online that claimed that the yucca glauca plant’s leaves may contain steroidal (anti-inflammatory) properties.   I have found that I can use this toner even when I’ve got a little eczema flare-up on my face.  After cleansing your face, use the spray pump and spray 2 or 3 times onto the skin, or put a little of the product on a cotton pad and apply gently to skin.  And, of course, follow with moisturizer!  $19.95 for 3.4 oz.

Side note:  I did have problems with the pump on the toner bottle, but the company was happy to send me a new one at new charge.

Moisturizer — After sunscreen, moisturizer is the most important tool in our skincare toolbox.  And yes, you still should use moisturizer every single day, morning and night, even if your skin is oily.  Moisturizer is critical to maintaining the lipid barrier which helps protect our skin from damage, infection, and the signs of aging.  One of the things I’ve found as an eczema sufferer is that keeping the skin hydrated really help stave off/lessen the breakouts — dry skin is more easily irritated, thereby triggering the immune response.

The Ava Anderson moisturizer is a good everyday moisturizer that contains some shea butter (not the first ingredient), pomegranate seed oil and lemon oil essence, and trehalose, a desert plant that aids in retaining moisture in the skin.  If you have super oily skin, use this as your nighttime moisturizer.  I have found the product to be very smooth, quickly absorbed, and keeps my skin soft. $20.95 for 2 oz.

Face Moisturizer with SPF 15 — As a person seriously lacking in melanin (thanks to my Irish heritage!), sunscreen has always been important.  Research has shown, however, that EVERYONE, regardless of skin tone, gets long-term benefits from daily use of sunscreen.  Unfortunately for me, although I must use it, sunscreen tends to result in mild eczema breakouts.  I’m always on the lookout for lightweight but effective sunscreens for use on my face and body that won’t give my skin trouble.  Ava Anderson’s facial moisturizer with SPF 15 contains zinc oxide for sun protection, grapeseed and rosehip oil for antioxidant properties, and shea butter and sesame seed oil.  I found the product to be non-irritating with little to zero eczema breakout, but I do have a beef with the oiliness of the product (too much for oily skin; I ended up mixing it with my Clinique Dramatically Different Gel Moisturizer to cut some of the oil), and the fact that it’s not a pump delivery system or other system where I don’t have to dip my finger in a jar to retrieve the product.  $20.95 for 1.5 oz.

Exfoliator — Daily or weekly gentle exfoliation encourages cell turnover and reveals new skin.  Exfoliating also allows our serums and moisturizers to penetrate better so we get better results.  I tried the Ava Anderson exfoliator, which is made with crushed apricot kernels, yucca plant extract, and punica grantum seed oil (derived from pomegranates).  The product definitely didn’t dry or injure my skin thanks to the yucca plant extract (an anti-inflammatory that also aids in moisture retention), but I feel the particles are too large and scratchy.  As much as I advocate exfoliation in skincare, it needs to be gentle, and the smaller the particles the better — in my opinion, smaller particles deliver more even exfoliation without scratching.  $21.95 for 2.7 oz.

Eye Cream — The skin around our eyes is thinner and drier and highly susceptible to free radicals and the sun.  It’s usually around the eyes that we begin to see the first signs of aging.  I use an eye cream with SPF in the morning (Dermalogica Eye Care with SPF 15), and a more moisturizing eye cream at night.  I can report that Ava Anderson’s cream fits the bill for my nighttime regimen.  Ingredients include bulgarian rose oil (antibacterial and antiviral properties), rose hip oil (vitamin C antioxidant), evening primrose oil to soften, calendula extract (anti-inflammatory), shea butter, and lavender oil to soothe.  A tiny amount goes a long way, but don’t worry if you get too much on — blend it down onto the face and it works well as a moisturizer there too!

I have also tried Ava Anderson’s hand soap and hand and body lotion, and their hand sanitizer from their body care line.  The no-soap hand soap doesn’t dry out the skin and is therefore great for frequent hand-washers like me, and the hand and body lotion is lightweight lotion that can be used as often as needed to keep skin soft.  Both contain aloe vera gel, which is great for sensitive skin and has healing properties.  The hand sanitizer is alcohol-free, using orange/citrus oil and tea tree oil extract as an antiseptic.  There is a light citrus scent in the product, but the best part is how it doesn’t dry out the skin the way alcohol does.  Just be sure to use a small amount (pea-size is enough) and rub your hands together until the product is absorbed.

Visit Erin Herman’s website at to check out the product line or like her Facebook page, or email her at for more information about Ava Anderson products.


The Powder Group is a professional organization for makeup artists, with a magazine On Makeup, networking events, artist summits and conferences/shows.

This year, The Powder Group brought The Makeup Show to Chicago, making a big impression on the Chicagoland beauty industry.  I have attended the show in NYC in the past, and was thrilled to see the show in Chicago, albeit on a smaller scale.  With the large number of people in attendance, it was obvious that Chicago is full of vibrant, talented, and passionate makeup artists!

In addition to the vendor booths and the hands-on educational workshops, there were keynote speakers and seminars galore on two floors at Venue One, a meeting/conference center across from Harpo Studios.  Vendors included professional and consumer brands — Smashbox, Makeup Forever, MAC, Kryolan, Mehron, and more!  And the deals … I’ve been eyeing Red Carpet Kolour Luminous Body Glow and was thrilled to be able to pick some up at a discount at the show.  Inglot, currently only available in Chicago at Makeup First School, was mobbed by MUAs excited to take a look at their products up-close.  I admit to being a big fan of their illuminating liquids, and the large selection of colors for their Freedom Palettes is awe-inspiring.

The Makeup Show was also a place to see new products launch — Reggie Wells, famed makeup artist for Oprah, debuted his new cosmetics line, HissyFit, at the Makeup Show in New York and in Chicago.  His foundation Clockpots contain foundation, concealer, highlighter, contour, and setting powder all in one compact.  Eye shadow and blush are also in Clockpots that are matched to your skin tone.  With Wells’ reputation in the industry, I predict HissyFit will soon find a following in the consumer market.  And Wells was there, in person, showing MUAs and makeup mavens how to use his product.  Amazing and humbling to see him interact with attendees and putting all his passion for makeup into his new line.

One of my favorite things at The Makeup Show was the free seminars, which took place all day on both floors of Venue One.  It was impossible to see them all, but to watch leaders in the industry show their skills, inspire, and create while you watch is something you just aren’t going to find anywhere else — seminars presented by makeup masters on wedding makeup, airbrush, theatrical/avant garde makeup, trend and red carpet makeup, the business of makeup, basic and advanced makeup skills, and more!  My only regret is that I couldn’t attend them all …!  One thing I picked up from the several seminars I attended is that there are all kinds of makeup artists — beauty, theatrical, avant garde — and that every makeup artist has their own preferences and tools, from Jon Hennessey’s preference to use a buffing brush to apply moisturizer to the skin to Candace Corey’s use of a small brush to apply setting powder for more control.  I tend to focus on beauty makeup in my own work, so watching master artists like Floriane David put a bald cap on a model’s head and paint and blend makeup as if the model were a canvas was fantastic to see up close. 

And the keynote and business forum speakers … Maurice Stein, Reggie Wells, Sam Fine, Crystal Wright … these are long-time, respected professionals that I was honored to see in person at the show.

Sam Fine’s keynote, in which he talked about his long career working on famous faces like Naomi Campbell, Patti LaBelle, Tyra Banks, Iman, Jennifer Hudson, and more, was among the most inspiring.  He opened his talk with the words, “We are all servants.”  The fact that a makeup artist to celebrities, and a celebrity in his own right, can say that — and MEAN it — brought cheers from the standing-room only crowd.  Fine talked about his mentors Fran Cooper and Kevyn Aucoin and “virtual mentors” — pictures of other artists’ work that he admires.  His other bit of advice to us as makeup artists was to not focus on the competition or what we don’t have, since that is paralyzing to the creative spirit.  His addressing our souls as artists was unexpected, and most welcome to this particular soul.

I cannot wait for The Makeup Show to return to Chicago in 2012 — for, as makeup artist Candace Corey told us in her seminar, education is key for all of us to grow and become true professionals.  To that I would add that INSPIRATION is also key, and The Makeup Show definitely did that for me!


Stila Cosmetics is a prestige consumer brand founded by celebrity makeup artist Jeanine Lobell in 1994.  The company has had its share of rocky times, but since being sold to Lynn Tilton of Patriarch Partners in 2009, the brand seems to have achieved some stability and has been adding new products to its line.

Stila is probably best known for its eyeshadow Kitten, a sparkly, warm, neutral light beige/peach shade that is now available in its original powder form and in a long-wearing cream.  I admit to using the cream Smudge Pot in this shade when I’m in a hurry and just want a quick swipe of a neutral color on my lids.

My new fave product from Stila is its Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, available in black, indigo blue, and brown.  I bought it on a whim while perusing products at my local Ulta store, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is near-perfect, particularly in black. 

Black, my favorite shade, is a rich, dark shade with great coverage power — have you ever used a liquid eyeliner that you felt you had to apply multiple “layers” of the pen to get the dark line you want?  Not with this product!  I am so pleased that they got it right with the delivery pen — shake it gently, pop off the cap, and apply.  TIP:  for a thicker line, tilt the pen so you’re using the side of the applicator; for thinner lines, angle the pen so you’re using just the tip.   If you’re like me and don’t have the steadiest of hands, apply your line in smaller strips or dots and then join them together.

I’ve had zero problems with the eyeliner and my sensitive eyes.  Best of all, it lives up to its promise to “stay all day” — just note that you will need eye makeup remover to get it all off when you’re ready to do so. 

The Indigo shade in this eyeliner is a pretty, dark turquoise color that is great as a layer color — apply a thick line and then follow with a thin line of the black at the base of your lashes.  I will say the blue does give the same “coverage” as the black so you may find you need to apply more to get the intensity you want.  This eyeliner is also available in Dark Brown, which would work on medium-toned skin but is not really dark enough for my taste.

For a quick summer look that will hold up in the heat and humidity, try a shimmery neutral eyeshadow like Kitten, followed by a line of liquid eyeliner starting extra-thin at your tear duct and getting thicker as you go to the end of your eye, with lots of waterproof mascara on the top lashes only.  Then go to town with a bright lip or gloss and some bronzer or peachy blush!


Linda Mason is an icon in makeup artistry, at the forefront of a revolution in makeup for fashion shows, working with top designers like Helena Rubenstein, Gaultier and Steven Meisel.  She worked with many of the top models in the industry, including Carol Alt and Cindy Crawford, and celebrities from Cameron Diaz to Joan Jett.  Mason brought incredible creativity, a sense of the theatrical, and a love of color that remains a major influence in the industry today.

In more recent years, Linda Mason has dedicated herself to her own cosmetics line (Linda Mason Elements), educating future artists, and publishing books on makeup and makeup application, including the very popular Eye Candy.  I won’t go into a long review of the book here, but it is certainly one of my favorites — with 55 eye looks featured, it’s a consistent source of inspiration.  What makes Linda Mason so special is her use of color … combinations and techniques that are pretty, evocative, and daring.

I had the honor to participate in a workshop in Chicago with Linda Mason at Makeup First School this week.  I was able to watch her work on two fellow participants while she talked about her career and gave us some tips for thinking about color and working with various eye shapes.  Next, we got to work on each other, applying eye looks inspired by one of the designs featured in Eye Candy.  We were asked to challenge ourselves, so I chose a theatrical eye look with a mod-60’s vibe called “Odyssey.” Jackie, my fellow workshop participant, graciously allowed me to do this dramatic look on her eyes, and even posed with the original look from the book for me!  The eye makeup was applied with cream Flash Color in black and white from Makeup Forever, then set with corresponding white and black eyeshadow and translucent powder.  A light application of Lancome’s Electric Pink long-wear gloss was applied to lips to complete the look.

The workshop really got me inspired, and meeting Linda Mason in person was wonderful.  She wrote in my copy of Eye Candy, “Keep experimenting.”   I promise, I will, Linda Mason, I will!!


It was time to renew my MUA discount privileges with Makeup Forever (MUFE), the brand founded by French makeup artist and painter/sculptor Dany Sanz which was recently purchased by Lancome/L’Oreal and is on its way to becoming a major consumer as well as professional-preferred makeup brand in the U.S..  Fortunately, I was going to be in New York City with enough time to stop by the MUFE PRO Store on 12th Street, so I collected my credentials and spent a brief afternoon doing a little shopping!

The store is not fancy or overly frou-frou, as if to say “we’re serious about the art of makeup; we don’t need big fancy banners or marketing in our store.”  And no, they don’t — I have consistently found Makeup Forever products to be highly pigmented, long-lasting, and of excellent quality.  Their history is based in the theatre and in face/body painting — Dany Sanz’s career as a makeup artist started with face/body painting for nightclubs, and she is especially committed to the art form of body painting at her Makeup Academy in Paris.  I have also heard that the brand is preferred by the performers with Cirque du Soleil for the high pigmentation and staying power.

The items I took a moment to peruse (and purchase!) included the Metal Powder (gold), Uplight liquid highlighters, and, for myself, a bottle of the HD Liquid Foundation.  Oh yes, I love them all. 

The HD Liquid Foundation has been on my list for some time, but with all the media swirling around their “Unretouched” campaign featuring the foundation, I had to wear it myself for a couple of weeks and give my own brief review.  For those that haven’t seen the “Unretouched” ad campaign, the ads feature models wearing MUFE makeup, including the HD Foundation.  The ads state that the pictures are not Photoshopped, something which made the entire beauty industry gasp when the ads appeared, as if Photoshop has been used to erase perceived flaws in a person or photo since the first color photograph (it hasn’t, although airbrushing photographs certainly has been around since the 1930’s for movie stars and other celebrities).  I will say that for the face, I definitely prefer the HD Liquid Foundation to their liquid foundation for face and body, which I find tends to separate and needs a good hearty shaking before each use.  The coverage of the HD Foundation is light to medium but totally buildable — I have a lot of broken capillaries and redness, especially on my cheeks, nose, and chin, and with this foundation I find I only need to use concealer on only the most offensive spots.  I can’t believe I’m actually using less concealer than before!  It feels light and comfortable on the skin.  I also noticed that it doesn’t “separate” suddenly or appear have a different texture to it after using powder to set.  You will definitely want to powder it lightly (their HD Finishing Powder is also fantastic) after application to set it.  I also find the foundation durable — once set with powder, it has good staying power.  My oily skin doesn’t seem to break it up/oxidize it too much as the day progresses.  Since you don’t need a lot of the product to get decent coverage, it’s not settling into fine lines (just remember to powder lightly, you only need a tiny bit to set this makeup!);  you are simply left with good-looking skin that doesn’t look cakey, flakey, creasy, or dull.  For a really long day, pack some blotting papers and pressed powder in your purse to touch up oily areas like the nose and chin.  Overall, I highly recommend this foundation.  I believe I count 26 shades in this foundation line, which gives MUAs and makeup junkies alike a near-guarantee of a perfect match to their skin tone.

Dewy skin is still very in, and Makeup Forever has recently released a liquid luminizer called Uplight.  The company says on its website that the product contains 70% water and can used alone, on top of foundation, or mixed with liquid or light cream foundation.  Its reflective pigments are available in “pearly”, “silky” and “sparkling,” depending on the shade you choose.  These descriptors are pretty accurate — the “sparkling” shades will have more reflection with a crushed diamond look, whereas the other shades or more subtle.  To me, even the “sparkling” shades are not glittery.  But what I love most about these is the variety of shades available — from the usual pearl/white highlighter to a golden peach, a light copper bronze, and even a pink.  I’ve been experimenting with a few of these and overall I’m extremely satisfied with this product and may eventually get all the shades.  It blends easily, and the selection of shades is excellent for makeup artists and makeup consumers who want more than just the usual pearly white or glittery white highlighter in their kit.  My only caveat — this is more gel-like in texture than some liquid highlighters out there and therefore is not suggested for use with an airbrush unless you can thin it first.

Finally, I just had to pick up some gold Metal Powder.  After all, summer will even come to Chicago eventually, and my clients and models will love these!  Many makeup lines only have one metallic gold powder or pigment, but not MUFE.  This collection has FOUR distinct gold shades in a silky mineral powder (a touch of silica gives the powder a soft feel and look).  The colors include Shade 1/Sunflower Gold (yellow gold), Shade 2/Maize Gold (coopery brown), Shade 3/Honey Gold (darker, burnished antique gold), and Shade 4/Olive Gold.  The powders can be used anywhere — eyes, lips, cheeks — and have a true metal feel without being disco-ball shiny.  Oooo, sooooo pretty.

Due to budget and space constraints in my suitcase, I had to leave some Uplight shade, Metal Powders, and more behind in NYC, but as MUFE remains one of my favorite brands, I’m sure to be getting more very soon!

Author’s Note:  It IS unfortunate that MUFE does not have a PRO store in the Midwest – in order to take advantage of my discount, I have to call the store in NYC and have them ship to me.  I’m a tactile person when it comes to makeup generally — I like to feel  the product packaging in my hand, and test the makeup on my skin to see the pigmentation level and feel the texture.  Plus, there’s that immediacy when you see something you want and just pick it up on the spot.  I can only hope that the brand expands to the point where they feel it’s viable to open up a PRO store in Chicago!


(Note: if you are easily offended by language, take heed!)

One great thing about the annual America’s Beauty Show in Chicago (formerly called the Midwest Beauty Show) is the opportunity to check out products you haven’t seen in your usual haunts.  For me, one of these was Cheeky Monkey Cosmetics, a Canadian-based company that creates and distributes nail polish.

The polishes are 3 Free — meaning, no formaldehyde, toluene, or DBP.  The finishes are shiny, and they stay on as well as any good polish.  I found them easy to apply, and the brush applicator is good.

But what makes this brand different is the bottle, the color names, and some of the colors themselves.  The philosophy of Cheeky Monkey is “centered on the belief that all women should be free to express their personal edginess in a fun and empowering way.”  When I saw the polishes, I was attracted first to the colors, but what got me to buy a couple bottles were the names — I just couldn’t help but smile at polish names like “Cougar”, “Brazen Hussy,” “Party Whore,” “Martini Daze,” and “Raunchy Bitch.”  Each bottle comes with a black tag that opens a bit like a Chinese fortune, with messages that range from “Be Edgy Today – Wear Black” to “They never said inner beauty would get you laid.”   As they say on their website, it’s quality cosmetics “with a giggle.”  And yes, I giggled!

I’ve worn three of their colors, and love them all — “Martini Daze”, a pearly grey-silver that’s totally adult; “Raunchy Bitch”, a beautiful inky blue with a bit of purple to give it dimension; and “Brazen Huzzy”, a great shiny purple just a bit lighter/brighter than a ripe eggplant.  

Unfortunately, the line is only available online for those of us in the United States, but if you’re looking for fun gifts for friends (or for yourself), I definitely recommend this line for something a bit different and definitely “Cheeky!”


As evidenced by my earlier post comparing mascaras, I am a bit obsessed with this beauty product.  Black mascara makes the white of the eye whiter, enhances eye color, and is the perfect finishing touch to any eye makeup look.

Mascara is not immune from the “natural” trend in makeup that has resulted in a surge in makeup lines and products that are advertised as containing natural ingredients,or no preservatives or chemical additives.  I decided to take a look at two mascaras that contain natural oils  from the nuts of two different trees.

Josie Maran, a former model, brought Argan oil to the mainstream cosmetics market a few years ago.  Her entire makeup line is infused with this oil, which is harvested from Argan trees in Morocco.  Another oil that has become very popular in haircare is Ojon oil, harvested from the Ojon tree in Central America.   Besides the benefits of the oils to the skin and hair, consumers like the idea of using a product that feels a little exotic (these oils are available from specific trees that grow in specific locations), are natural and/or organic, and help create jobs in poorer countries.

(NOTE:  anyone allergic to nuts should avoid these products, as the oils used in these cosmetics is from the nuts of trees)

First, I tried the Ojon Restorative Lash Treatment and Mascara, which comes as a double-ended wand.  The treatment end almost looks like eyelash primer, but thinner — it’s a thin white liquid that conditions the lashes.  After using the product for three weeks I found the treatment did not thicken, and it never clumps on the lashes like traditional primers sometimes can.  The black mascara is thinner than most mascara products, but I found that it goes on evenly and easily.  Once coat is all you need, but you can put on two coats if you wish and there will be no clumping.  The mascara doesn’t provide significant volume, but it does give a beautiful dark black color and brings out natural lashes very well.  The conditioning benefits are noticeable and I would recommend it to anyone whose lashes feel dry and/or are breaking off due to brittleness.  Two cons with this mascara:  first, it is not waterproof or water-resistant (but is long-wearing), and second, it will smudge, especially after long wear.  It does come off easily with soap and water or gentle eye makeup remover.   As a contact lens wearer with sensitive eyes, I had no problems with this mascara.  Overall, I found the product to be a good everyday mascara for anyone who wishes to use a conditioning product and wants their lashes to look/feel natural.

Presently, Ojon Lash Treatment and Mascara is only available on QVC.

Josie Maran Cosmetics Mascara is infused with Argan oil (and, I discovered, olive oil as well) claims to help add volume to lashes with a patent-pending “triple V” mascara wand.  The wand almost has a “bushy” look to it and it did catch every lash.  But as much as I wanted to like this mascara, I just didn’t.  The first couple of days of its use was like using any other mascara, but I didn’t notice any conditioning properties like I did with the Ojon product.   Within two weeks the mascara got thick and clumpy in the tube and didn’t apply cleanly to my lashes and I became concerned about flaking.  This mascara is not smudge-proof or waterproof, either.  I did find that removal was fairly easy and I had no allergic reactions to it.  On the plus side, if you purchase this mascara via the Josie Maran Cosmetics website, you can feel good about contributing to cancer patients, survivors, and research — for each mascara tube bought under the GOGO program, a second tube is donated to a City of Hope cancer patient/survivor (up to 5,000 units); after 5,000 tubes of mascara have been distributed, $1.00 from each mascara purchase will be donated to City of Hope cancer treatment and research.

THE WINNER:  Ojon Lash Treatment and Mascara for me was the clear winner.  Hopefully it will be available via more outlets than QVC soon.  But, it should be noted that neither mascara reviewed here is waterproof and both did smudge, especially at the end of a long day.



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  • lilmakeuptips: Thanks for your comment! I got your note on the smoky eye and will do a post on the topic soon!
  • Wicked Red: You look REALLY good in those Lil. Thanks for sharing.
  • lilmakeuptips: Thank you so much Emil! I hope to have a New Year's makeup blog entry posted tomorrow ... maybe even a webcam if I can get it done ...