Commitment to the Consumer

“The cosmetic industry is in the perception business. The environmental industry is in the reality business,” said Bob Lilienfeld, editor of the Use Less Stuff Report. “It’s perception versus reality.” Understanding how commitment to sustainability can be communicated as part of the overall quality commitment is key.

The personal care and cosmetic market is one of the leading categories making green claims on products. The products in the cosmetics industry are intimate, causing consumers to have a heightened sensitivity and awareness of products that are going to be safe for their use, but consumers also expect results. However, most claims are based on a single attribute, usually raw material sourcing (organic or natural) or the lack of animal testing. Green Seal developed specific standards for the personal care industry with rigorous criteria that comprehensively address the lifecyle impact of a product—from manufacturing through packaging disposal. The GS-50 standard provides a tool for companies to improve the sustainability of their products and to earn certification and a way for consumers to know that their personal care products are safer for their families and the environment, while delivering the performance they expect.

The standard comes in response to the FTC’s finalization of its “Green Guides,” which provides marketers guidelines for labeling and promoting their sustainable products. Basically, the FTC was looking to do away with greenwashing, whereby companies and industries awarded themselves certification. The new guidelines call for transparency and urges certification from independent third party sources such as Green Seal.

Green Seal’s mission as a nonprofit is to increase sustainability in products and services. “We write the standards, but if the market doesn’t pick them up because it can’t make a decent product by following them, companies won’t get their products certified and we won’t have achieved our mission,” said Linda Chipperfield, Green Seal’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Green Seal spent a lot of time researching the impact of packaging and the ripple effect once it’s exposed in order to develop the GS-50 standard and conducts audits to provide independent confirmation that criteria are being met.
It’s all for a very specific reason: consumer confidence. “If the consumers do not have certainty that the product that they are buying is indeed going to enhance not only protection of the environment but the health and safety of themselves and their family, they are not going to buy it,” said Chipperfield.

Read more about green packaging in the July/August issue of GCI magazine.

Packaging for your manly man

bulldogModern men are much more sophisticated than some brands think they are and will ultimately see through a superficial, cookie-cutter approach.

“Most brands ‘for men’ are not connecting with men,” said Ben Grace, Bulldog marketing director. “Men are put off by imagery and language that is too elaborate.” Instead, Bulldog, the third largest men’s skin care brand in the UK, steers away from “pseudoscientific” terms that overcomplicate an uncomplicated category. The language used is simple and to the point. “We talk to men the way they talk to each other,” explained Grace.

Bulldog packages feature a short description along with what the product does and the key ingredients. “Some men’s brands seem to struggle with arranging their messaging, so they throw all the information on the package,” said Grace. On the back of each product, the brand encourages people to find out more about the listed ingredients by visiting the web site for full information. The brand lists every single ingredient that it uses. Not only that, it outlines the source of the ingredient and its primary function in its formulations. “We try to be as transparent as we can,” said Grace. “We want people to care about what they put on their skin as much as the food that they eat.”

Competing with huge global companies with significant marketing budgets, the brand knew it had to use the shelf as its billboard. “The packaging deliberately disrupts the category, by being different,” Grace continued. “When we looked at the category as a whole, we found a sea of sameness.” Bulldog packaging inverts the usual visuals, featuring an over-sized dark logo on white packaging.

Brands that are light-hearted also resonate with the consumer, especially men. Like using humor in marketing campaigns, such as Benefit’s tongue-in-cheek vidoes and Lynx’ and use of a double entendre, packaging that doesn’t take itself too seriously breaks down a barrier created by some men’s continued discomfort in discussing personal hygiene.

This is reflected in all Bulldog’s communication and on the packaging, where the brand injects a bit of humor that shares its personality with the consumer. While competitors use good-looking models with chiseled jaws and six-packs, Bulldog, primarily uses its namesake mascot. “It’s not nature’s prettiest beast but he’s man’s best friend,” said Grace.

Avoiding the cookie-cutter approach by purpose-building the brand for men, Bulldog was able to expand to 13 different countries worldwide since its launch in 2007.

Read more about packaging for men in the March 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.

Dear 16-year-old Me,

God is watching out for you. I know things aren’t really going the way you’d like them to, but God has a (better) plan for you and He cares for you, every little tiny detail, not just the big things. He’ll provide what your heart desires, you just have to be patient.

In the meantime, talk to your mom. She understands more than you think. And talk to your sister, she does, too. Talk to your friends. Talk to anyone! Tell others what you REALLY think and what you feel. Your opinion and your feelings matter. And sharing will deepen the connection with friends and family, which is what you really desire. Even if your thoughts are silly or “wrong” or illogical or immature. Or make you vulnerable. Having feelings you know aren’t right doesn’t make you a bad person, just human. It’s okay, you’ll learn and grow from it. Keeping everything to yourself will allow doubt and negativity to fester. And the sooner you learn to process and share your feelings, the easier it will be to avoid some mistakes when you are older.

I know you think it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and prove it. But you aren’t a fool. You aren’t perfect! Nobody is. You don’t have to be perfect for people to like you. And once people know you, they will know you aren’t perfect, but they will like you anyway even more! You love to make people laugh and eventually will learn it doesn’t mean they are making fun of you (never mind the time your friend laughed at your shoes, you liked them so who cares what he thinks). You’ll discover how much people actually embrace quirks and think perfection is boring! Embrace who you are, and if you don’t know, start the process of figuring it out. You are so much more than just a “pretty face” or a “silly girl.” You don’t have to take calculus or physics to prove you are smart! You are just going to get frustrated. Math is not your thing, but that’s okay, you’ll marry a guy who can do that for you. It’s okay to let others do things for you. Of course, you’ll learn that when you are struggling in computer science classes in college, and that’s not quite what I’m talking about. But you’ll get it. Let people see your weaknesses so they can support you. Be vulnerable. And not knowing something doesn’t make you stupid, so admit you don’t know everything and ask lots of questions.

It’s okay to be shy, but it’s not okay to be impolite. Think about how you come across to other people when you think they don’t like you, when in fact they think you don’t like them. If you didn’t worry so much about what other people thought, you would see that everyone was worried about themselves, too. There are so many people who are lonely and could use a friend. Smile. Say hi. You won’t be shunned for being nice. I know it would devastate you to find out people thought you were stuck up. People like you more than you think. That college boy doesn’t ride his bike to your house before you leave for prom because he wants the exercise …

You are creative! Maybe not in the way you usually think about it. Use your creativity to express yourself, not as a means to finding perfection. And you love to run. It’s a part of who you are so don’t stop because your friends don’t understand it. Find some friends who can relate to that part of you after high school. But don’t let it consume you either. I don’t want you to miss out on other good things God has for you. You are so passionate, if you could just find what you want to pour your energy into.

You are loved! Not because you are beautiful (though you are. seriously. puh-leaze you are NOT fat.), not because you are creative (though you are), not because you are fast (though you are) or smart (you are!) or because you TRY SO HARD (even though you do). You are loved because GOD loves you, you are His precious daughter. There’s nothing you can do to make Him love you more and nothing you can do to make Him love you less! Soak in that grace and then pass it on to others.

–38-year-old you

2014 Color Must Haves

2015+ Impact Colors by Future Touch Faux Nature

2015+ Impact Colors by Future Touch Faux Nature

Women have permission to explore color in 2014, particularly with nails providing a safe canvas to start experimenting with vibrant combinations–a playful attitude that has now been adopted for beauty, according to color consultant Roseanna Roberts. “Overall, we see a decrease in the use of black in cosmetics, replaced by subtle neutrals and/or saturated brights as consumers take a more light-hearted approach to beauty,” she said. For 2014, color is featured on the eyes, with brilliant liners and shadows commanding attention—and a more matte version on lips.

Many colors from Pantone’s spring palette are commonly seen as nature’s background. Placid Blue, Violet Tulip and Hemlock are versatile pastels that can be creatively combined with any other color in the spectrum or paired with a bolder hue for a modern look. “These Pantone colors reflect the softer side of womanhood, combining a fresh feel of pastels and blooming flower tones,” said makeup artist Rachel Wood. The blue, purple and beige tones in this new palette pair with many of the designers collections she witnessed from New York fashion Week. At Jenny Packhams runway show, for example, her chiffon fabric dresses colors were straight from this color chart, according to Wood. “The late 60s boho mixed with Edwardian style inspirations would pair beautifully with a Placid Blue or gentle muted grey eye shadow applied subtly and smoky on the eye lid,” she explained. Wood recommends more satin or velvet textured shadows.

This year is going to bring a lot of muted tones that go into neutrals. Sand and muted gray are quintessential, while Pantone’s high-pitched red and blazing yellow adds spicy heat to neutrals, for example, and colors with warmth and energy such as Celosia Orange also set the stage for a look that is chic and sophisticated. Read more about 2014 color trends in the January issue of GCI magazine.

Based on the Pantone palette, Wood shares her must-haves for 2014:

NYX Cosmetics
Matte Lipstick in Bloody Mary
“I’d top this with a dab of my fav lip treatment Rosebud Lip Salve.”

Cream Blusher in Libido
“To imitate the Celosia Orange from the color palette.”

Cheek Stain in Tipsy
“Great color for the cheeks!”

Beauty Flash Balm
“An oldie but a goody. I’ve been using this on top of my clients makeup, patting it over the cheek bone and forehead area to create dewy fresh skin.”

Velour Lashes
“The plushest lashes on the market, cruelty-free made of mink hairs, a celebrity favorite!”


While extrinsic factors such as UV exposure, chemicals and environmental pollution play a major role in the aging process, inflammation is now recognized as a major cause of intrinsic aging.

With age, the immune system becomes less effective and inflammatory activity increases. This can lead to chronic inflammation characterized by a slow but continuous production of free radicals causing wrinkles and sagging skin. “Inflammation is a vicious cycle that leads to wrinkles and other signs of aging,” said Mibelle Biochemistry’s Beata Hurst.

Inflammatory enzymes initiate the process that causes skin aging. These enzymes normally destroy old or damaged skin tissues to make way for new ones. With chronic or recurring inflammation, however, the immune system continues to produce low levels of inflammatory chemicals including free radicals, leading to the continuous damage of the surrounding tissues.

Mibelle is looking to inhibit the inflammatory reaction with MAXnolia, a water-dispersible active powder based on magnolia bark extract, a natural inhibitor of the po-inflammatory transcription factor NF-KB. Soon Mibelle also will introduce CM-Naringenin-Chalcone, a single molecule derived from naringenin, a flavanone naturally occurring in the peel of citrus fruit. In a clinical study performed on volunteers with rosacea skin, CM-Naringenin-Chalcone, clearly diminishes capillary blood flow and thereby the appearance of facial redness for consumers at almost any age.

Glycation, the binding of a protein molecule to a glucose molecule, causes many aging symptoms as well. Proteins such as collagen and elastin can get damaged by reducing sugars under harsh conditions. This leads to the formation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGE), which then react with cellular receptors to produce inflammatory reactions. The accumulation of AGEs eventually leads to a gradual stiffening and loss of firmness and elasticity of the skin. Anti-glycation and anti-aging compounds, such as the much-hyped theraglycan-3, to reduce actual AGE content in the skin will be an emerging trend moving forward.

The proof is in the science. According to Hurst, backing up claims with real science to validate efficacy builds consumer and client trust and keeps the market growing. Mibelle proves its claims with in vivo testing, showing the results on live skin. With further understanding of the underlying causes of aging, such new claims such as anti-inflammation, as well as anti-glycation, anti-redness and growth factors will allow products to specifically target various needs. “The anti-aging market is going to be much more specific moving forward,” explained Hurst. “We now need to treat the specific needs of customers with precise applications.”

It’s not your grandma’s wrinkle cream anymore. No longer do products only assure a reduction in lines and wrinkles, but the aim is also to offer an improvement of skin structure, an even skin, diminution of pigmentation disorders, and increase of elastin production, for a firmer, supple and healthier appearance of the skin.

Read more about Anti-Aging Solutions in the December 2013 issue of GCI magazine.

My first “Rebeca project”

My friend Rebeca is the Creative Dominican. She is super talented (you can buy her stuff on facebook for a limited time). I told her if I ever tackled a project inspired by her, I would post pictures, so here it is! I finally came across a wood item that would work for a project.

My son’s bed is lofted so he collects books in his bed (and they fall down on the floor with a THUMP in the middle of the night). I was going to buy some IKEA spice racks, ala Pinterest. But, I came across this apple box at Goodwill for $3. I sanded it to soften the edges.


Following Creative Dominican‘s instructions, I painted the edges with a brown craft paint.


After it dried, I painted a middle stripe with wall paint (Pittsburgh Constellation), a reverse of my son’s room which is light blue with a dark blue stripe. I forgot to add Vaseline as a distressor, so I dry-brushed brown on top of it on the edges.


Then, I applied Vaseline on the edges before I applied the dark blue wall paint (Pittsburgh Star Spangled). Once it was thoroughly dried, I sanded it all over.


Finally, it needed some support. I sent my husband to Menards for $.99 L brackets and he came home with $3 fancy brackets that were a bit bigger and much nicer. More than I wanted to spend, but it was probably for the best since it was a big enough box to hold some heavy books and I was thankful he did this errand for me. Then, he helped me make sure it was anchored into the wall securely. See, Snowball is safe (my son put the books in there so it’s okay that they are upside down).


See how proud he is? Once I started this project, he asked every day when I was going to put it up. There’s no better reward for a project like this than a happy smile. Love you, Charlie Bear.


A Post about Poop

I don’t own a dog. Not yet anyway. We are on the fast track to doggie ownership and I don’t see any way around it. I mean, how can we resist when my daughter has not only been begging for years but also tells me, while having a discussion about the types of dogs she likes best and those doesn’t like as well (for the record, beagles and shih tzus top the list): “Mom, I want to get a sad dog and make him happy.” Still makes me tear up just thinking about it.

The problem is that dogs poop. They also smell, try to lick my face, chew my precious things and bark. But none of this compares to my disgust of dog poop. Don’t get me wrong, even I think dogs—and especially puppies—are cute. But I’m talking about poop here. Poop. It’s gross. You know this, I know this, everyone knows this. I don’t even like to talk about it much less deal with it. My parents remind me almost every time we visit (we just spent 5 glorious sun-filled days in Arizona) about how mad I would get when every night at the dinner table, there would be some discussion about the dog’s business. Really? Now? Can we at least wait until after I finish my Hamburger Helper please? Thankyouverymuch.

If there was some way to make the dog clean up after himself, I’d be all for that. But dogs are blissfully unaware of how gross it is to have their waste in my yard. Instead, I will definitely do my best attempt to make puppy poopy pick-up the kids’ jobs. There has to be some “responsibility” to bring down the excitement of a new pet, right? And the only thing worse than cleaning up the poop is leaving it, turning the yard into a mine zone of excrement. No, thanks. I also like the idea of making the dog carry the little baggies needed for walks in the neighborhood (yes, dogs poop in other people’s yards, too!). I think he can at least do that much after the “master” has cleaned up after him. I don’t think there’s much less disgusting task than swinging around the dog’s poop bag as I walk down my street (there’s really no way to be discreet about it either).

But, in the end, I know how this works out. It will be me. I’ll be picking up poop. And carrying poop bags. And bathing the dog. And getting licked in the face. And I’m sure it will be all worth it. At least the economy will get a boost with the upswing in sales of Softsoap and hand sanitizer. But most of all, my little girl (who seems less little every day) will get to make a sad puppy, happy.

PS By the way, this post is the result of a challenge from a friend to write about poop. So, please rate me 1-10 to let me know how I did. Of course, I’ll consider any rating at all a success because it meant you read to the end of this post.