Know Your Ingredients: Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)


What it is
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) is an amino alcohol that naturally occurs in fish.

What it does
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) can increase the thickness of the skin. This helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Side effects
We don’t know how Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) works yet. There is some research that hints its thickening properties are a result of the skin cell death and the reduction in the proliferation of fibroblasts (the cells that make collagen) it causes. When skin is damaged, it thickens.

(Sources: British Journal of Dermatology, March 2007)
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Book Review: Gorgeous For Good By Sophie Uliano

gorgeous for good sophie uliano

Title: Gorgeous For Good
Author: Sophie Uliano
Pages: 424
Price: 11.40$ (paperback) and 10.63$ (kindle)

It’s fair to say that the beauty business is booming—as is the anti-aging industry. Each year, Americans spend more than $30 billion on cosmetics, and, globally, we spend about $260 billion on services and products to enhance our youth. Accompanying the decisions we make around our beauty comes the ever important question of whether to go fake or natural. Do we resort to the latest commercial chemical or surgical quick fix or go completely organic but possibly get less stunning results? Clean beauty guru and New York Times best-selling author of Gorgeously Green, Sophie Uliano offers a solution to this latest beauty dilemma and says you don’t have to choose, and when you look at her, you can tell she has more than a few good secrets.
Unlike other books, Gorgeous for Good takes the middle ground between natural and fake. Rather than focusing on these extremes, Sophie looks at what truly healthy options actually work—and it isn’t necessarily what people might think. In addition, she lays out a beauty perspective that focuses on helping readers create their own unique beauty—inside and out. With her exceptional combination of passionate research and everywoman commonsense, she puts forth a revolutionary, holistic program that covers everything from nutrition to self-care to spiritual connection and includes:
Well-researched, myth-busting information about commercial and natural beauty products
Simple guidelines for buying the best skin care products, and easy recipes for cost-saving beauty products to make at home
Healthy, budget-friendly recipes for food to kick start the new you
Exciting ways to get spiritually connected
In her girl-next-door voice, Sophie brings all of this together in an innovative 30-day Gorgeous for Good program, offering readers tools for a body-and-soul beauty regimen that will help them stay gorgeous—not for six months or a year—but for good!

Sophie Uliano grew up in the bucolic English countryside, picking berries, building camps in the woods with her brother, and breathing sweet, clean air. Fast-forward 30 odd years. Sophie is pregnant and living in Los Angeles. The gardens there were sprayed with pesticides. She was told that the tuna she craved contained a high amount of mercury, and that lots of toxins lurked in her beauty products.


Sophie wanted a return to a more natural life, but without spending all her money on expensive organic foods and air-filters. Determined to make her life less toxic, she became an internationally renowned Green and Healthy Living expert, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and a Certified Yoga teacher, started making her own beauty products, and penned several books on green living.

Her latest work is Gorgeous For Good, where Sophie shares all her beauty secrets. Now, if you know me, you know I am sceptical of green beauty. Too often its experts ask us to sacrifice effective and safe synthetic products for natural alternatives that provide less than stellar results at a stellar price tag. But Sophie’s book attracted me because she claims to be a “Beauty Flexitarian, with a foot in both the ‘enhancement’ camp and the one Nature intended”.

I find that’s true. To an extent. It was refreshing to hear Sophie say that not not all man made chemicals are bad for you, and that some can improve your life. She points out how the vitamin c and retinol in natural creams and serums are made in a lab and yet are very good for you. She also tries to reassure her readers that it’s the quantity that makes the poison. Just because a substance is toxic in high doses it doesn’t mean it’ll kill you if you use a tiny amount of it. It won’t.


However, she does throw the word toxic around way too often. Although she recommends balance and tells her readers not to worry too much if they’ve been using products that contain one of the ingredients in her banned list, she clearly leans a lot more in the natural than “enhancement” synthetic camp. If that’s your thing, you’ll find her tips very useful (just don’t try to make your own sunscreen like she recommends. That can be dangerous!).

Her dieting advice is even more radical. She bans not just meat, alcohol, and gluten, but also fish (too much mercury in it). I don’t doubt that her organic diet has lots of benefits for both health and skin, but I personally find it way too drastic.

I’m a big believer that your body needs all kinds of foods, including red meat and sweets, to function properly. It’s just that we need to consume lots of veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds, every day, and little of anything else. Besides, there is no way this Italian girl is ever going to give up pizza and ham. It’d make me too cranky, and that’s not healthy either, is it?

But if you’re interested in this diet, Sophie provides lots of recipes that you can try. Again, while she encourages you to follow her diet strictly, she also understands that some people will struggle a lot with that, and lets you know that it’s ok to stray and start small, one step at a time.


That’s my favourite thing about this book. Although I don’t agree with every tip, I appreciate her compassion. Uliano wants you to make what she thinks are the best choices for you, but doesn’t make you feel guilty or bad if you choose to still use some skincare products made with synthetic ingredients or prefer to follow a less strict diet. She may lean heavily towards the natural camp, but she’s not a fanatic.

This book doesn’t feature just skincare and diet tips. Uliano also talks about the importance of exercise, meditation, and self-care. Her focus is both on outer and inner beauty, and in helping women age as healthily and gracefully as they can. It’s not about getting rid of wrinkles forever (of course that’s impossible), but in living a healthy, beautiful life.

To help you get started, she has created a 30 days programme that you can find at the end of the book. For each day, she shares the beauty routine you should follow, what foods you should eat, the workouts that you should do, and a morning me time routine to help you start the day in the right way. I haven’t followed the programme to a T (again, too drastic for me), but I have tried a few of her meditations and food recipes, and enjoyed them.

Gorgeous For Good didn’t prompt me to change all my habits. I’m all about balance too, but I still lean more towards the middle of the natural vs synthetic spectrum. But, if you’d like to try a more natural approach, this is not a bad place to start at all.

Available at: Amazon UK and Amazon US

Although Sophie Uliano’s tips are too drastic and natural biased for my taste, her approach is balanced and compassionate enough to make Gorgeous For Good a good starting point for those who want to start leading a more green lifestyle.

Rating: 4/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration.In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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On the Importance Of Cleanliness


I’m often asked if I’d love to live in the past. As much as it fascinates me, truth is, I don’t. Going back to the 18th or 19th centuries for a couple of days, yes. But live there? I don’t think I could ever live in a place with no toilet and private bathrooms. Just think of the dirt and stink! No thank you!

The habit of washing daily (or at least often), so loved by the Romans, had long been lost by then. But, thankfully, bathing still had its champions. The author of the The Toilette Of Health, Beauty, And Fashion: Embracing The Economy Of the Beard, published in 1834, was one of them. The chapter on cleanliness is the first in the book. Here’s what it says:


As a preservative of health the value of cleanliness must be obvious to every sensitive mind, whether indeed it be considered in a medical, a moral, or a cosmetical point.

Personal cleanliness, and every thing connected therewith, is a principal duty of man: an unclean and dirty person is never in health, and, at best, is always a loathsome and disgusting sight. It is better to wash twenty times a-day, than to allow a dirty spot to remain on any part of the skin.

On places where impurities are suffered to obstruct the pores of the skin, the insensible perspiration is not only suppressed, but the absorption by the skin also; and if the whole body be, as it were, covered with a crusted coat of perspirated matter, it is impossible under such disgusting circumstances to possess sound blood, or enjoy good health.

The body, and particularly the joints, ought to be frequently washed with pure water, especially in summer, when the perspirable matter, being of an unctuous, clammy nature, obstructs the excretion by the pores. The face, neck, and hands, being most exposed to the air, dust, and the like, ought to be daily washed, morning and evening.

Attention should also be paid to the ears, by occasionally cleaning them out, that the sense of hearing may not be impaired by the accumulation of indurated wax, which, from its acrid nature, may prove unpleasant as well as injurious.

The whole head ought to be frequently washed and cleaned, as it perspires much, and is, besides, exposed to the dust and other particles in the atmosphere. Washing opens the pores, while the comb, by its close application to the skin, removes the viscid humors and renders them fluid.

The use of baths, too much neglected, ought to be more generally introduced. It is not sufficient for the great purposes of cleanliness and health, that a few or more wealthy families repair every season to watering places, or that they even make use of other modes of bathing, either for health or amusement.

A very different method must be pursued, if we sincerely wish to restore the vigor of a degenerated race: we mean here to inculcate the indispensable necessity of domestic baths, so well known among the ancients, and so universally established all over Europe a few centuries ago.

Would you have followed this advice?

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Product Review: Urban Decay De Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray

urban decay de slick oil control makeup setting spray

Name: De Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray
Brand: Urban Decay
Size: 1 oz and 4 oz
Price: $14.00 and $30.00

From Urban Decay’s website:
Oily skin has met its match! Mist on this weightless spray to control oil, deflect surface shine and help makeup stay put. Meet your most powerful oil-control ally. De-Slick mists on weightlessly to control oil, deflect surface shine and keep skin looking beautifully matte. High-tech ingredients help keep foundation, shadow and blush from smudging, sliding or fading – so you hardly ever need to touch up.
Developed in an exclusive partnership with SKINDINÄVIA, this groundbreaking, clinically tested formula features patented Temperature Control Technology. Yep, this baby actually lowers the temperature of your makeup to help it stay put and keep skin looking smooth (but never shiny).

What I liked:
– helps control oil production and makeup stay put for a bit longer
– feels slightly sticky for a few minutes, until it is fully dried
– doesn’t mess up your makeup
– available in a full size and a travel size

What I didn’t like:
– contains alcohol, which can be drying
– if you have oily skin, this alone won’t be enough to keep oil production under control for long

I’m not a big fan of makeup sprays. It feels weird to spray something on my face, after I’ve just finished doing my makeup. I’m a bit afraid it’ll ruin everything, and that I’ll have to start again, but will less time to do everything properly. And won’t some of the product end up in my eyes and mouth, even if I keep them super shut?

Yet, as a combination skinned gal, I can hardly resist anything that promises to absorb excess sebum and control shine on my t-zone. Soi, when I had the chance to try a small sample of Urban Decay De Slick Oil-Control Makeup Setting Spray, I went for it. Did I regret it?

Well, I regret not reading the ingredient list first because the formula is so underwhelming! Urban Decay De Slick Oil Control Makeup Setting Spray is pretty much a hairspray for skin. Like hairsprays, it contains a high amount of alcohol that makes it dry quickly, and film-forming agents (PVP and Menthyl Methacrylate Cross Polymer) that form a protective layer on the skin that seals makeup, preventing it from fading throughout the day.

But just because they work similarly, don’t think you can use your hairspray and save $30 bucks. There are a couple of key differences between makeup setting sprays and hairsprays. First of all, makeup setting sprays have a less fluid, more lightweight texture. This helps them create an uniform layer on your face.

Another difference is the ratio of ingredients. Hairsprays tend to contain a higher amount of film-forming agents to create a rigid barrier that keeps hair in place. But that would just be too uncomfortable on the skin. Instead, makeup setting sprays contain less firm-forming agents and more emollients (like Polyhydroxystearic Acid) that help condition skin and make it soft and smooth. Butthey can still feel slightly tacky on the skin. Urban Decay De Slick unfortunately does for a little while, until it’s fully dried.

Not to mention that products formulated for hair may contain something that doesn’t agree with your skin. Better not risk it. But you can still save $30 bucks (or $14.00 if you go for the travel size). Makeup setting sprays aren’t a necessity, and this one doesn’t do much to justify the price tag. Yes, it creates an uniform film on the skin, but that doesn’t extend the lasting power of my makeup that much (but hey, at least it doesn’t ruin it like I feared).

This setting spray kept my t-zone sebum and shine free for two hours longer than usual. Not bad, but my t.-zone is only slightly shiny so De Slick didn’t have much work to do. My fear is that if your skin is very oily this won’t do much at all. You would need to use it together with other oil-controlling products, which is quite disappointing.

I’d rather much stick to a primer like Smashbox Photo Finish More Than Primer Blemish Control, which can keep your oil production under control and your makeup stay put for longer, and also contains salicylic acid, which helps keep the pores unclogged and prevent breakouts.

But you know what’s the most disappointing thing of all? The much touted temperature-control technology is nonsense. There’s nothing in here that can lower the temperature of your makeup. Unless that’s just a fancy way of saying that the water in the product provides a refreshing feeling when you apply it. I guess that’d be quite nice in the summer, so I’ll wait till then to finish my sample.

Aqua (Water/Eau), Alcohol Denat, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, PVP, Methyl Perfluorobutyl Ether, Methyl Perflouroisobutyl Ether, Dimethicone PEG-7 Phosphate, PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate, Caprylyl Gylcol, Menthyl Methacrylate Cross Polymer, Poloxamer 407, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Cocamidopropyl PG Dimonium Chloride Phosphate, Glycereth-5 Lactate, N,2,3-Trimethyl-2-Isopropyl Butamide, Ethylhexyl Isononanoate, Isononyl Isononanoate, Fragrance, Aloe Barbandensis Leaf Extract

Available at: Feel Unique and Sephora

Urban Decay De-Slick Make-Up Setting Spray helps keep oil production under control and makeup stay put for a big longer. But, if your skin is very oil it won’t be enough on its own.

Rating: 3/5

Disclosure: the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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Can You Use Serum As Makeup Primer?

serum as makeup primer

A few weeks ago, we talked about how a serum can double up as a moisturiser (if you have oily skin). But can it do the job of a makeup primer as well?

That’s something I wondered when I came across this video by Paula’s Choice Skincare Team. The lovely Desiree assures us we can, but I am not so sure. I admit the idea makes sense in theory. But problems start when you try to put it in practice. Here’s why:

Why using a serum as makeup primer makes sense

Makeup primers contain ingredients (usually silicones) that create a protective layer on the skin. This layer prevents the oils in your skin to come in contact with your makeup, allowing it to last longer. It also provides a smooth base for foundation to glide on more smoothly. Silicones can also fill in fine lines and wrinkles, thus helping them look temporarily smaller.

A lot of serums, like Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum and Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum, are infused with silicones too, so they provide the same benefits.

And more. Serums are also chockfull of anti-ageing ingredients, like antioxidants and retinol, that can help keep new wrinkles at bay. Some are rich in skin-lightening agents that can help reduce the appearance of dark spots too. Primers usually lack these goodies, or contain them in minuscule amounts that don’t benefit skin much.

So using a serum as a primer seems to make a lot of sense. You’re saving money, and time in the morning, but getting double benefits, right? Not so fast.

The Problem With Using Serum As Makeup Primer

In the video, Desiree says that you should apply your skincare routine as normal, and then, at the end add a thin layer of primer. I took this to mean you should apply serum after moisturizer, which is why I have doubts about this method. Then, she says that, if you are using a separate sunscreen rather than a foundation with SPF (you should be using both anyway!), primer goes before that.

Again, I find this order of application odd. The general rule is to apply skincare products with a thinner consistency, like serums, first, and those with a thicker texture, like moisturizers and sunscreens, later. That’s because they contain occlusive ingredients, like petrolatum and shea butter, that moisturize skin by creating a protective barrier that prevents water loss.

But this protective barrier can prevent whatever you are applying next from penetrating into the skin. As we already know, makeup primers rarely contain active ingredients that benefit skin. They just form a nice base for makeup, so you can safely apply them after moisturizer and sunscreen.

But the goodies in a serum may not be able to penetrate skin as well if you apply it last. If you, instead, apply it before moisturizer or sunscreen, then you’ll get its anti-ageing and/or skin-lightening benefits and, if they contain silicones, your wrinkles will look smaller too. But your foundation and sunscreen may not provide as smooth or longlasting base for makeup.

Even if your skin doesn’t need moisturizer, sunscreen isn’t optional. And a primer, as Desiree said, should always be applied before that. So, according to its place in your skincare routine, a serum can usually act only as a serum or as a primer. If you try to use it as both, it is likely you won’t get its full benefits.

The Bottom Line

Although I usually agree with the advice dished out by Paula Begoun and her team, I don’t think that using serum as a primer is as beneficial as they make it out to be. Applying skincare products in the right order is essential if you want to reap their maximum benefits. If you apply primer too soon, it won’t make a great base. Too late and you may compromise its anti-ageing properties. Better stick to a separate makeup primer, if you really need one.

Have you ever used a serum as makeup primer?

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Product Review: Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow In No Pressure!

benefit creaseless cream shadow 02

Name: Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure!
Brand: Benefit
Size: 4.5g
Price: $20.00

From Benefit’s website:
Our award-winning cream shadows are as crease-proof & budge-proof as ever! The 10 incredibly wearable shades glide on easily and last all day long. It’s fresh & fabulous color for all.

What I liked:
– creamy texture, glides on smoothly
– sheer but easily buildable
– infused with subtle shimmers that brighten up the eyes
– creaseless and longlasting

What I didn’t like:
– can dry out if you leave the jar open

I think I am getting old growing up. Even just a couple of years ago, I would have paid no attention to No Pressure!, one of the ten shades of Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow. “A warm tannish brown? Ok, it’s got gold shimmers, but still, it’s brown! It’s sooooo boring!,” the old me would have said.

Back then, I was all about bright and bold shades. The brighter and bolder, the better. Looking back at some of my old photos, I look like I wore two neon safety vests on my eyes. You’d think I was afraid of getting run over or something, like my mom often commented. But oh, it was so much fun!

benefit creaseless cream shadow 04

I still rock super bright looks sometimes (I’m probably gonna be one of those crazy old ladies with a sparkling blue dress and eyeshadow to match), but I now appreciate the versatility and elegance of a nice tannish brown shade. It flatters the complexion, complements any look, and never goes out of a style.

It’s even more convenient when it comes in cream form. That’s something else I never would have said a few years ago. For ages, I carefully avoided cream eyeshadows. They just creased like crazy within a couple of hours on me. I would carefully apply them, hoping and praying they would behave and stay put until I came back home a few hours later, but they never did. I needed to constantly retouch them, and so I never used them.

benefit creaseless cream shadow 03

But, in recent years, things have changed. Several brands have come up with cream formulas that stand the test of time even on oily lids, like Michael Todd Long Wear Cream Shadows, Maybelline Color Tattoo 24hr Cream Eyeshadows, and Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadows.

You know what else they have in common? I would never have tried them if they hadn’t been sent to me by either PRs or friends (this Benefit eyeshadow, in sample form, is a present from my enabler and makeup dealer friend Janessa. Thanks hun!).

stila stay all day vinyl lipgloss nude 03

I think it’s high time I get over my aversion of cream eyeshadows, and try out a few more on my own. Or even just buy a few more shades of Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow. Although it has a tough name to live up to, it doesn’t disappoint. I tested it without a primer and, for the next eight hours, I watched in awe as my eyeshadow refused to budge.

Only after the eight hour mark I experienced some creasing and fading, but only minimal. If I need it to last longer than that (I usually don’t, as I’m home by then), then I just prep my slightly oily lids with primer beforehand. Either way, I am really impressed with the staying power.

benefit creaseless cream shadow 01

The texture is lovely too. It’s creamy, buttery, and glides on the lids so smoothly. It’s quite sheer, but easily buildable. One layer provides a nice wash of colour that, thanks to the not too obvious shimmers, brightens up the eyes. But if you want a more intense look, you can layer it, using either your fingers or a brush. It blends like a dream either way.

Although Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow is one of the best cream eyeshadow I have tried so far, it still suffers the same fate as all other cream eyeshadows, both good and bad, when you leave the lid open for too long: it dries out. So, apply it quickly and close the lid tightly after every use.

Available at: Debenhams, Sephora, and Ulta

Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in No Pressure! is really creaseless (even when you don’t use a primer!). Creamy and sheer, it glides on like a dream and can be easily built up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Disclosure: this item was sent by PR for consideration.In addition, the review contains an affiliate link. For more information, please see my disclaimer.
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