The Worst Critic

I had an experience last week that drove home a point that I have spent a lot of time thinking about in the last few months.

Tulips near Central Park, I needed some nice shots for this website. So I went out to the park and had a little photo shoot with myself. I posted one of these pictures on my Facebook profile. My friends all loved my picture, and I was flattered to receive several compliments. But even after seeing my friends’ responses, I looked at the photo and realized that I still see only my flaws. I see that I took over 250 pictures that day and deleted over half of them immediately. I photoshopped the three or four that I felt were passable. I also see that I walked into the bathroom the next morning to see that I had a big pimple on my chin and a sheet mark on my face.

I am telling this story, not to fish for compliments or to complain about what I perceive as my Violets near Madison Avenueflaws. I am telling this story because I know I am not the only woman who does this. I notice this all the time in my treatment room. Women come in and immediately start listing all the bad things they see on their skin. And maybe their list is longer because I start off by asking what their concerns are. It’s an invitation to mention every flaw you see when you look in the mirror. But often, I don’t see the flaws they mention- the huge pores or the wrinkles. And I never really know how to respond. I don’t want to belittle my client’s feelings, but I also don’t want to give her more reasons not to see how beautiful she already is. Ultimately, I want to help her feel good about her appearance, and through that, to feel better in general.


In Fort Tryon Park, near the CloistersYears ago, I read an interview with Uma Thurman in People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue. I think they had asked her something inane, like “What’s it like to be so beautiful?” She stated that when she gets up in the morning, all she sees is her face. Partly I find that humble response refreshing. Someone as beautiful as Uma Thurman would be insufferable if she was always aware of her appearance. But partly, I found it sad. Does she think she’s beautiful at all? Does she look in the mirror and only see the lines around her eyes, or the pimple on her chin?

As someone who works in the beauty industry, I struggle with my role. I got into this business because I loved the transformative power of makeup. I loved it when someone walked a little taller when they felt better about how they looked. But I hate that I also play into a business that can women feel worse about themselves. I want people to believe in themselves, and sometimes I’m afraid I just validate their feelings that they aren’t as beautiful as they want to be.

Join me on my soapbox. What do you think? Are you seeing flaws in the mirror that aren’t noticeable to the rest of the world? Do you see your own beauty, or do you always compare it to someone else’s? Are you your own worst critic?

Speak your mind! Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook and tell me what you think!


All photography in this post is mine. All rights reserved.


Truth in Advertising: A Look At Natural Skin Care Claims

I’ve been talking about natural skin care recently, and on Monday, I talked about how to tell if a product is really natural. Since natural skin care claims aren’t regulated, it’s up to us to decide what natural means. As I was walking around my local drugstore, buying my 3 million count bottle of allergy medicine, I looked at a few products that made natural claims. Here I’m going to share with you my thought process when I review a skin care product for myself or recommend it for a client.

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing LotionI looked at some Aveeno products first. Aveeno can be hit-or-miss to me. Sometimes their ingredient choice disappoints me, so I make sure to check before I buy. The first product was a body moisturizer, the Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, which claims to moisturize for 24 hours and protect and prevent dry skin. It also claims a unique oatmeal formula, which sounds like natural skin care to me.

The first ingredient I see listed is dimethicone, listed as an active ingredient in the Drug Facts panel. Dimethicone is an ingredient found in many moisturizers, foundation primers, and prescriptions. It Aveeno Daily Moisturizer ingredientsprovides barrier protection and slip. It’s a great ingredient, but I don’t consider it natural. Looking at the inactive ingredients, I see oat flour listed (avena sativa kernel flour). So here is evidence of the unique oatmeal complex.

The next four ingredients could be derived naturally, but they are usually synthetic ingredients. Glycerin can be natural or synthesized as well. We don’t know which it is. Petrolatum is a great ingredient for repairing the barrier function of the skin, but also not something I’d consider natural (even though it does technically come from the earth).

Overall, this product doesn’t meet my standards for natural skin care. A closer look at their packaging only claims active naturals, not entire product naturals, and the oatmeal complex is definitely there. Sneaky, sneaky. The product will be effective as a moisturizer for super dry and potentially irritated skin, but this is a perfect example of a regular product masquerading as a natural skin care product.


Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerThe next product I looked at was a newer product from Neutrogena, the Neutrogena Naturals Multivitamin Nourishing Moisturizer. I’ll admit that Neutrogena got one big eye roll from me when I heard about their natural skin care line. I don’t have a problem with Neutrogena in general, but it’s my least favorite of the drug store lines. Clients always tell me that they use Neutrogena for their sensitive skin, and I don’t think it’s all that friendly for sensitive skin. So I had my eye roll ready when I flipped this box over to inspect what Neutrogena Naturals Multi-Vitamin Nourishing MoisturizerNeutrogena was calling “natural.”

I have to admit when I’m wrong. I was impressed with this Neutrogena moisturizer and the integrity of the ingredients. I like that they include the source for all their ingredients, letting us know that they’ve been naturally derived. I do have a couple of complaints though. I wish that they hadn’t included fragrance, which can be seen clearly listed down towards the bottom. Fragrance isn’t a great thing for sensitive skin. This product has taken great lengths to formulate without a bunch of unpopular ingredients (parabens, phthalates, dyes), so I don’t know why you’d then add a fragrance. I also hesitate to call this a “multivitamin” moisturizer, since the only real vitamin I see listed is vitamin E (tocopherol) and some extra botanicals, mostly as the very last ingredients.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Wrinkle MoisturizerThe final product I looked at was a product from Garnier, which I’ve always thought of as a natural skin care line. I use a lot of Garnier hair care, but I hadn’t looked at of one of their skin care products recently. I see the ads for this pro-retinol from nature all the time, so I picked up the Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisturizer with SPF 15 to see what it was all about.

I flipped over the back of the box and the first thing I noticed was the Drug Facts panel with theGarnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, sunscreens sunscreens listed. The three sunscreens listed are all chemical filters. I have mixed feelings about chemical sunscreens, and current research is also mixed. For a natural skin care product, I think that a mineral filter is a better option, since it is both natural and effective.

Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra Lift Anti Aging Moisturizer, ingredientsNext I looked at the inactive ingredients section to see what else is in here. I got about a third of the way down before I spotted my first botanical, argan oil (argania spinosa kernel extract). Since ingredients are listed from the highest percentage to the lowest, this isn’t looking good for a “natural” product. I see some rice protein and some natural fragrance components (linalool). The pro-retinol from nature is the fifth ingredient from the end, which makes me doubt its efficacy. In order to get the benefits of retinol, you need a more significant percentage.

I was surprised and disappointed as I looked at these ingredients. I thought Garnier was supposed to be natural skin care. I mean, all the packaging is green? Yes, I fell for the marketing as well! Another look at the front of the package cleared up my questions. Garnier only claims that the retinol is from nature… not the entire product. We find another normal product capitalizing on a natural trend.

What do you think? Have you ever bought a product expecting it to be natural, only to find out that it was just clever marketing?



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