Friday, April 12, 2013

Cartography in a Shopping Mall

I work in a 3-level mall just off the Beltway (which may give you an idea of how massive and often crowded it is).  In our small corridor of this shopping world, I often forget just how large Tyson's Corner Center is ("corner center" - I really hate that).  Thus I am grateful to know Lora, my mall cartographer friend.

"Lora, where is the Panera?"

"Is there a bathroom there?"

...I'm a little freaked out by Mr. Toilet, to be honest...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Harm and Shame

I am not going to offer any scientific proof or quotes from experts in this post.  I am just going to put something out there today, just to get it out of my head.

Let me start by saying that I have been very fortunate to not only have been raised by strong women (my mom and Nana), but by two very strong and different men (my dad and stepdad).  Men whom I respect and love and am grateful for.  They are just about as different as two men could be (for example: one is a retired scientist, the other is a retired cop), while still be amazing and kind and inspiring to a woman like me.  They know that I am stubborn and capable and strong and they encourage all of it.  They want me to be safe and secure, but they believe that I can do it on my own.  They believe in me.

Recently I was in a discussion with a man I know (have known, for years), and I was trying to make a point about something I am actually somewhat familiar with.  This man raised his voice (just so) and told me to calm down, cutting me off and treating me like a "hysterical female."

The worst part is that I allowed it.  I shut up.  I didn't defend myself.  I felt that I was in a position where I couldn't fight back because of the type of relationship I have with this man (which is to say feeling that I owe him). 

And I regret allowing this behavior.  I will always regret not standing up for myself, to anyone.  I have been taught by everyone who raised me that I am worth more than that.  I have no excuse, really.  And I am very familiar with the kind of men who attempt to put women "in their place" because of their own insecurities.  I generally don't have anything to do with men who behave that way.  I certainly have no respect for them, no admiration, and I find it hard to come up with redeeming qualities because it is so harmful, what they do.  It is something I find very hard to forgive.

But what is more important is that I forgive myself, and not ever allow it again.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Know Your Bunny

Lush Handmade Cosmetics posts a lot of videos for their customers on YouTube, most of which walk the line between dopey and creepy (a line I'm quite fond of, really).  And this video from the campaign to stop animal testing in the cosmetics industry (in the U.S., it's already been done in the U.K.) is no exception:

Of course, anyone walking into a Lush store will find out very quickly that they do not test their products on animals, at any stage.  But the other day I had a discussion with someone and realized that I may be using brands that do test on animals and am just not aware of it.  My own special combination of ignorance and laziness revealed, I decided to get a little more proactive and go to the source of the leaping bunny, PETA.  Their site has some easy search functions for finding out who is testing, not testing, or transitioning to end testing within their company.  There are also PDFs of the lists for easy sharing and printing, as well as explanations as to how they compile the lists.  While not every brand I looked up was on one of the PETA lists, I did manage to find information on most of their sites to confirm that they do not test on animals.

Urban Decay impressed me the most, being not only listed on the PETA site as cruelty-free, but having a page on their own site dedicated to  their animal testing policy:

Urban Decay is a cruelty-free brand and is committed to ending animal testing. We do not test our finished products on animals, nor do we allow others to test on our behalf. Additionally, we require our suppliers to certify that the raw materials used in the manufacture of our products are not tested on animals. Our practices are certified by both PETA and The Leaping Bunny Program (CCIC) as cruelty-free.
NARS is not listed on the PETA site, but their animal testing policy is available on the Customer Care section of their site:

NARS does not test on animals, nor do we have any other parties, such as suppliers, conduct any animal testing on our behalf. NARS uses only the highest quality ingredients which have a proven safety record and are widely used in the cosmetics industry.

Benefit wasn't listed on the PETA site, but their own FAQ answered my question.  However, stating that it is "nearly impossible for any cosmetic company" to guarantee they don't test on animals seems a bit off to me.  I can only assume that the lawyers at their parent company, LVMH, require them to be a bit squirrely about making such big claims.  It makes me respect companies like NARS, Urban Decay and Lush that much more.

Benefit does not test our cosmetic products on animals and we require our raw material suppliers to provide safety information based on scientifically accepted alternative testing methods. It is nearly impossible for any cosmetic company to certify that all new and existing ingredients incorporated into products have never been tested on animals as part of the safety research and certification process. Benefit selects high quality raw materials with well-established safety records and uses an extensive ingredient database. Benefit is committed to maintaining the highest standards of human safety while eliminating the need for testing on animals.

Fresh wasn't listed on the PETA site, and they make no comment about testing on their own site (at least none that I could find), but I did find a blog in which a rep from Fresh responded that they do not test on animals.  Hopefully that's true, but it begs further research.

Dear Kim,
Thank you for your email. You will be happy to know that Fresh uses only natural ingredients and we do not test any of our products on animals, nor do we use animal-tested ingredients.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best Regards,

Melissa Drouin
Web Sales Coordinator
f r e s h Inc.

I was also under the impression that companies like The Body Shop (which is owned by L'Oreal) would not be able to claim they are cruelty-free, as their parent company is not.  The PETA site mentions that turning on those smaller "compassionate" companies is a mistake.  Having rejected animal testing from the beginning is a good thing and will hopefully inspire the larger companies to do the same.

One thing that complicates this argument is that companies that large often do a lot of business with China, a country that requires cosmetics to be tested on animals.  So how do we help those conglomerates choose "principles over profits?"   A simple start is to buy from companies who are not engaging in what is truly an unnecessary process.  And there are plenty of companies who do not test on animals to choose from.

One last note - Years ago I stopped using Gillette products because I knew they tested on animals.  What I failed to do was research other brands thoroughly.  I ended up using Schick, not realizing that Pfizer also tests on animals.  So does Bic.  It's rather frustrating to see that the list of cruelty-free razors is so small, but it does exist.  Another option, which I'm going to be pursuing, is running to your local Whole Foods for a Preserve razor (they also sell toothbrushes, for those of you on the hunt for a cruelty-free option).  Preserve sells a variety of items, all made with plastic from recycled yogurt cups.  Now you can reduce, reuse, recycle and know that no bunnies were harmed in the making of your beauty routine.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Chosen Few

While packing for my trip to Seattle, I got to thinking about the products I have to have at home that aren't really necessary on the road.  I realized that I could slim down my toiletry bag and still be happy with the contents.  Of course, there are certain things I like to have with me in certain places, depending on climate or the like.  I wouldn't last a day in Park City (Utah) without some serious moisturizers - we're talking about a place where it's so dry that fleas can't survive.  And the hard water at Mary's place in Genoa (Italy) drives my skin crazy, so I have to bring every calming, soothing item I can think of.

Inspired by this internal discussion, I decided to put it out there to some of the Lost tribe.  Here are the three (or a bit more) beauty items we can't live without:

Dove Soap Gentle Exfoliating! smells so fresh and leaves my skin super soft.
Burt's Bees Original Lip Balm.  Tingly.  Perfect.  I use it all day, even under gloss or lipstick and at night, before bed.  My lips are hella kissable.  

Lubriderm Sensitive Skin Lotion.  Obviously moisturizing is a priority in my life.


Philosophy Lip Gloss: a ton of great colors, scents and flavors! I am a lip gloss junkie, but have at least one (sometimes more) in my bag,
Makeup drawer and makeup bag at all times. 

LUSH Whoosh Shower Jelly: I know most people do not get it, but this is the PERFECT morning shower pick me up! 

Miss Jessie's Quick Curl: I first got this in a Birchbox and am so happy I did This styling cream sets and holds my curls perfectly.  I get tons of compliments when I use it! 

Wow! That was really hard!!! It was fun too, though!  


Jessica I.:

Fresh Sugar Lip Tint in Honey - A nude tint that is moisturizing and long lasting.  I also love the way it feels. 

I also love Burt's Bees Lip Balm, I think it's the "revitalizing" one, for when my lips really get out of control.  

I've been using the ShiKai shampoos and conditioners for a while now and I love them - they really do add highlights to your color.  

I also like Tarte's Amazonian line, but I cut it with a moisturizer.

And then there's me, the Jess who has two lists for you (all the products on this list are featured in the YouTube playlist, above).  First, the at home must-haves:

LUSH Blousey Shampoo It wasn't intended as a 2-in-1, but that's how I use it and it has made my scalp and curls equally happy.

LUSH Imperialis Facial Moisturizer: Just the right amount of hydration for my skin and takes all the red out.  I have a whole sensitive skin routine, but I've discovered that taking this out is a huge mistake.

LUSH Honey Trap Lip Balm: I love the honey/vanilla flavor, but you have to try it on to discover the light mint finish.  I am also a huge fan of Fresh Sugar Lip Tint in Honey, but if I had to choose only one lip product, it would be Honey Trap.  Nothing I've tried moisturizes as well, not to mention that it has some serious staying power without involving too much science (only safe synthetics here!).
But I have a whole different set of must-haves for travel:

Then the travel must-haves (I could survive anywhere with just these four items):

LUSH Full of Grace Serum Bar:  Soothing, preservative-free, solid moisturizing bar for my super sensitive facial skin.  I also used it as a wash when dealing with hard water and it was fantastic (though that is certainly not its intended use).  I keep one on hand to put under face masks, but in a pinch I could use it as moisturizer, cleanser, and even lip balm.
LUSH Honey I Washed the Kids Hand and Body Soap:  The soap that turned me away from shower gels!  HIWtK (as I will now call it) glides over skin, provides plenty of lather without drying skin out, and smells divine.  I also shave with it (though, again, not its intended use).

LUSH Ocean Salt Face and Body ScrubLUSH has a lot of wonderful products for exfoliating, but Ocean Salt does it all.  This flexible scrub can be softened with a bit of warm water (for sensitive skins) and smells like a margarita.  I use it on my face a few times a week and on the rest of me daily.  

LUSH Chou Chou...I Love You Toothy Tabs:  Although it isn't on my must-have list, the Ro's Argan Body Conditioner is one of my favorite life.  The lemon in it keeps the rose from smelling too floral, instead it smells like a rosy-lemony confection.  When I travel, I take Chou Chou Toothy Tabs with me because they have that rose and lemon confection flavor goin' on and they're solid so I don't have to worry about putting them in my plastic baggie o' liquids.  

Does anyone out there have some favorites you'd like to share?  We'd love to hear from you!

Monday, April 1, 2013

High Risk Fresh Start

Even though I've been absolutely lousy at posting daily for NaBloPoMo on BlogHer the last couple of months, and will continue to spend a lot of my computer time job hunting and trying to get to Seattle, I decided to sign up for the April edition.  And I was happy to find that the theme, fresh, goes well not only with the start of Spring, but with the choices I've made recently.  After all, moving to a new city is a damn fresh start.  I'm also left with no choice but to do some Spring cleaning while I pack.   From the April 2013 Blogroll on BlogHer:
Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere, which brings with it a fresh start for nature. Many people use this time to create a fresh start for themselves too, taking on new projects and cleaning up old spaces. How are you going to make the things in your life -- including blogging -- fresh and interesting this year?
I took a brief hiatus from packing last month.  The month of April will see me packing up everything I can.  It also means going into the garage and reorganizing what I've already packed - there may be a whole anal-retentive post about that.  In the meantime...

It's official, there are not enough Utilikilts roaming around where I currently live.