As a make-up artist, hair dresser, educator and once-upon-a-time scientist (among many other qualifications too boring to list), I have spent the last two decades and some change, working with cosmetics and beauty products as a personal user and applier of many, to many. I have even dabbled in making my own and sold some of my products to clients and film productions.
The manufacturing of my own products led me to look into the formulations of others. I loved learning about beneficial ingredients and what really worked. I tried and tested formulas for myself and developed my own. Along the way I discovered poorly constructed formulas and ingredients that were less than great, some ingredients didn’t do much or what they claimed, given their pH or concentration, others were downright detrimental to the health of the skin.
Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE make-up and beauty products. What woman doesn’t? I love playing with them trying them out, discovering new products and seeing what others are loving. What I don’t like, in fact what boils my proverbial blood, are spurious claims about products, misleading marketing and advertising, ‘paid’ reviews, old wives tales with zero truths and mis-education being spread like wildfire amongst the beauty community at large.
A huge influence on my journey to creating The Beauty Heretic was formed many years ago back in 1995. While in make-up college, I discovered a book called Blue Eyeshadow Should be Illegal by Paula Begoun first published back in 1984. The title immediately tickled my sense of humour and mirrored my own sense of style. I discovered her next book, Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me which birthed a 20+ year love affair for Paula Begoun and her work. At a later date I will publish a story on Paula and her products. This book demystified cosmetic and beauty products. It allowed me to research a product for it’s efficacy and suitability before I bought it. No more suck it and see. No more wasting money. No more disappointment.
As a young woman having suffered incredibly oily skin, acne and pimples covered my face, neck, arms and back from around puberty through until I discovered her products. I felt for others who suffered the same ignominy. I was bullied in and out of school for my ‘pizza face’. I lathered my face in my mothers poorly matched foundation at the age of 12 to cover my unsightly skin. I tried every pill and product a doctor, chemist or dermatologist would throw my way. Nothing worked. Until Paula.
Over that period, I had spent countless money and caused further damage to my already very irritated skin. I could not fathom, why these ‘recommended’ products contained such harsh, harmful and irritating ingredients and on top of that did not fix my skin, and in some cases increased pimples and blackheads. Why would they lie to me? I was enraged. I still am.
I was delighted to discover The Beauty Brains back in 2006. Cosmetic chemists Perry Romanowski and Randy Schueller began debunking myths about beauty products and disputing misleading marketing claims. I couldn’t get enough. These guys were a huge influence on me. They were my beauty sceptics. They wrote a couple of books which were great The Beauty Brains and Is It Ok To Have Lead in Your Lipstick? Their blog is still available, however, they have sadly ceased their podcast.
So to sum this all up in nutshell, why did I create The Beauty Heretic to critique the beauty industry? Why not just keep it to my own happy world and educating my students? Because I want to share what I know more broadly. I want more people to get results from the products they buy. I want more people to be curious and sceptical about the products they consume. Not just revel in pretty packaging and outrageous unfulfilled claims. I want to make people’s lives better. And hell, if even one company listens to savvy demands from educated consumers and improves their products/ethics to reflect this, I’ll be a happy girl.
My aim for this blog is not to poo poo products, although harsh critique may occasionally slip through where warranted. I want to educate your curious beautiful brains out there. I want to help people improve their knowledge and themselves. The ‘whys’ of how something works are often more important than what works. If you know why something works, you can apply that knowledge by and large to other products.
I intend to cover hair care, skin care, and make-up with a palatable smattering of science, facts and research with references and occasionally my humble, possibly irate opinion on industry trends. I may not always say what you want to hear, but by golly, I’ll be truthful with you!
I hope you’ll continue to journey with me, dispelling the BS in our beauty.