Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Trip to Georgetown Part 1: LUSH Cosmetics

Continuing Saga of the Search for Better Beauty Products...
Written by Katy Kincade
Photos by Andy Visoso

As part of our investigation of more sustainable cosmetic options, Andy and I took a trip to Georgetown to visit the LUSH cosmetics store on M Street.  LUSH is a brand that was started in England by a couple of people who are passionate about crafting fresh, handmade cosmetics that are not tested on animals.  LUSH products are 100% vegetarian, 84% vegan, and 60% preservative-free.  LUSH is  especially known for their bath products, but they have a full range of cosmetics as well, including a new line of vegan cosmetics with bright, bold colors.  

The store is a lot of fun to browse in.  There are sections  that look like a bakery or candy store and another that looks like a salad bar with fresh facial concoctions in serving  bowls over crushed ice.  The very knowledgeable staff is on hand to make recommendations and to help you sample various products.  The company also tries to include organic and fair trade ingredients.  Their products are not all-natural, or organic.  Their principal focus is on making animal-friendly products, but a more sustainable ethos is evident throughout.  There is less packaging, and more biodegradable packaging.  The plastic tubs that some of the products come in can be returned in batches of 5 for a free facial mask.  They also use some nifty scarves made from recycled bottles for gift wrapping.   

I bought some hair moisturizer for curly hair (Revive and Balance Hair Moisturizer:  $22.95 for a 3.5oz pot) and was given a sample tub of their shampoo for curly hair (Curly Wurly) as well.  The store manager showed me how to massage the shampoo into my palm with water to make it lather up.  At home I was not able to get it to lather up as much the shampoo I am used to .  The shampoo had bits of coconut in it, which was interesting (scalp scrub?).  These are big enough to wash out, but I wondered if they would get caught in the drain trap. I'll do a detailed review of the hair moisturizer in my next post and analyze its ingredient list in-depth, as I did for Moroccan Oil.   In general, I did not love the products'  fragrances as much as those from Herban Lifestyle,  and the scent of all the products seemed to compete in the store in a way that was unpleasant for  me.  Andy got a velvety-soft moisturizer with a lovely scent (Vanishing Cream $42.95) and toner (Breath of Fresh Air Toner $9.95). 

LUSH has locations in Georgetown (3066 M St., NW), the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 South Hayes St., in Arlington, VA), and Tysons (1961 Chain Bridge Rd.,  McLean, VA) Do stop in for a really great shopping experience and check out their many pre-wrapped samplers, which would make great gifts.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Continuing Saga of the Search for Better Beauty Products- Moroccan Oil

I love my Moroccan Oil and what it does for my curly, often dry hair.  It makes it soft and shiny but not greasy.  So it was with some trepidation that I began to investigate what's in it.  I had been told it contains argan oil which is derived from the kernel of a fruit similar to an olive.  Natural.  Check.  Its glass bottle comes in a small recyclable box,  and the label has a bunny rabbit on the back, which suggests it's not tested on animals.  OK so far.  The label and website do not say all-natural, however.  The ingredients are as follows:

cyclomethicone, dimethicone, argan oil, fragrance, linseed extract, butylphenyl methylpropional, benzyl benzoate, alpha-isomethyl ionone, and red No. 17 and yellow No. 11.

I took some time following google links to wikipedia, TruthInAging, Environmental Working Group and other places, and this is what I found.  The first  two (and therefore most abundant) ingredients are forms of silicone, which is synthetically produced, but not petroleum-based.  The argan oil and linseed extract are natural and seem good.  Unspecified fragrance is a question mark, of course.  Butylphenyl  methylpropional.  That doesn't sound so good.  'turns out it's a synthetic fragrance ingredient.  Benzyl benzoate and alpha-isomethyl ionone are fragrance compounds that occur in nature and are also synthetically -produced. They may cause allergen hazards according to the Environmental Working Group.  The red and yellow dye ingredients are not recommended by PETA because they are made from  coal tar, and its carcinogenic properties are often tested on animals.  Overall, Moroccan Oil did not stand up very well to a close examination of its ingredients.  I doubt it is poisonous, but I could probably do better, and I will look for an alternative....

(For more information on why I am looking for natural/organic/non-toxic beauty products see my October 2012 post "Why Buy Organic and Natural Cosmetics?")

Saturday, November 24, 2012

List of Sustainable Designers

Happy Thanksgiving all!  I'm in San Fran in, of course, a LEED-certified GOLD hotel with lots of waterfowl in the central lagoon. (I really hope they haven't clipped the wings of those swans....).  I was just searching for local sustainable fashion boutiques when I came across this excellent list of some of the biggest/best sustainable designers.  Enjoy browsing!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The world of Andy ViZoZo
I am fortunate to have a really wonderful intern just now-- Andy Visoso.  She is from here from Queretaro, Mexico for a few months doing a work/study program through The Washington Center.  She is doing some very interesting design work combined with a project to revive traditional plant dyes in Mexico.   I wanted her to tell you about her work in her own words:

My experience in Washington DC has been amazing. I am gaining a  different perspective on the world and I have found passionate people that inspire me to be better and to enjoy life. 
Everything started a year ago when I created my fashion brand ViZoZo, it is about sustainable fashion. I always have this in mind, “Do something useful doing fashion.” I am exploring natural dying techniques and their applications; For now I will be working with natural fabrics like cotton and wool. I will create a small and exclusive clothing line (soon I will tell you where you can buy it here in Washington DC). Also I have been launching an exclusive line of accessories with natural stones in a mix of  eclectic styles. 
I think that fashion (including clothes, accessories, life style, etc.) Is one of the most important ways to express your personality and aesthetic sense.  That´s why I also created my blog (www.vizozoblog.com) because human expression is essential in our living.   It is how our interior world expresses itself in the exterior world.  The purpose of the blog is to communicate ideas, sensations, design, fashion and moments that makes a difference in life.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Have to Kvetch about Beloved Google

I am very unhappy to see Google changing its culture and INCONVENIENCING ME.  They are making it more and more difficult for me to share my blogposts directly to facebook.  Instead "sharing" gives me all sorts of "opportunities" to share on Google + with my Google circles.  I don't want to create a parallel facebook world.  For them to make a profit off of.  I like facebook and the current level of complexity in my life.  Cut it out google!  There.  I told them.

Hello? Are there campaigns about this?  Can I join?  Can I jam up their phones or something delightfully retro like that?  Occupy google!  Turn back the tide!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

ArtSpring: A Boutique Full of Magic

By Guest Reporter Andy Visoso

ArtSpring is a boutique at  7014B Westmoreland Ave. in Takoma Park.  It features handmade products from local independent designers. It is a project of Pyramid Atlantic Art Center and contains many of their artists' work.

The first time that I saw ArtSpring I knew that was full of magic and great designers.  I had an interesting talk with Marcelle Fozard, a volunteer artist who works in the store.  Owners Valerie and Chris dreamed up the idea of a store dedicated to the works of local artists and took the store from pop-up locations in downtown Silver Spring to its current location in lovely, walkable Takoma Park.

Walking around the store I discovered so much talent and so many interesting designs.  Besides being local, almost everything is sustainable and handmade. It is a perfect place to shop for gifts.  I think people will love to shop in this store because they'll find beautifully crafted unique products.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ugli Tie Wallhanging

I have just finished a couple of fun commissions.  They seemed to me a bit like Project Runway challenges-- in each case someone came to me with a box of unconventional materials and said, "Can you make something from this on a deadline?" Fortunately the deadline was much more than 24 hours, and the clients much more helpful than Heidi Klum.  I'll share the interesting challenge of one of these today:  The Ugli Tie challenge.  (I'll show off the TYVEK ruffle wedding pillow another time....)  

A woman who had seen my Artomatic installation thought I might be just the person to make something from her husband's ugly tie collection.  Her husband gets a kick out of outlandish ties and had a box of well over 100 labeled UGLY TIES.  He had collected them over many years from thrift stores and helpful friends.  It was an exquisite collection.   

One person's ugly is, of course, another person's FABULOUS, which is why I have changed the word to "ugli."  There were some skinny silk 50's ties, wide polyester 70's ties, Oleg Cassini luxury looks and heartfelt but ill-advised crafty projects.  They were each wonderful in their own way.

The task was to create a large (3-foot wide by 4-foot high) piece to hang above the stairs to the 2nd floor, where it would be seen when someone descended.  I was instructed not to make anything too "Kountry Kraft" in spirit and to be more 2-dimensional than 3-dimensional.  We also agreed to keep some "Tieness" rather then cut all into tiny pieces. Here's the finished wallhanging.

The problem that presented itself was how to make something that was not just a dizzying swim of patterns and colors.  I took some of the more outlandish and detailed prints and put them in a lower corner where they could be viewed at closer range.   

Then to give the eye places to rest I introduced a few plain ties.  From the MANY remaining ties, I chose a grouping that repeated blues, browns, oranges and whites and also stripes and polka dots.  My hope was to use these repeating themes to give the eye a way to travel around and make connections.  

I did most of the sewing by hand, affixing all to a stretched painter's canvas, which served as a huge embroidery hoop.  Then I covered the back, finished the edges and added a rod pocket.  I enjoyed working with the ties and was able to finish the gift in time for the couple's anniversary.  Happy 20th Gina and Kevin!