Fox29’s Jennaphr Frederick pays a visit to my studio

On November 12th, the feisty and hilarious Jennaphr Frederick of Fox29’s Good Day stopped by the studio to help me promote my recycling event and to get my opinion on make-up (uh oh) – the necessary and the not-so-necessary.

We also had a special guest with us, Bryan Barron, who was in town promoting the latest edition of “Don’t Go to the Beauty Counter Without Me,” a book he co-authors with Paula Begoun (“The Cosmetics Cop”).   Bryan talked with Jennaphr about beauty “dupes,” that is, inexpensive products that can be substituted for wicked expensive ones.  So that’s good.

I always tell my clients and  workshop participants about Beautypedia, the online version of the book – it’s a much more comprehensive and current resource for thousands of products reviews.  Begoun’s research team base their reviews on claims made by the manufacturers, about efficacy, for example, and the ability to turn you into Jennifer Lopez.

Video of my two spots coming soon…..

Bryan Barron, moi, Jennaphr the Great

Bryan Barron, moi, Jennaphr the Great

Friday, Nov. 14: “Give Up Your Trash, Get Some Lash”

11-15 invite final

Anyone who has had a make-up lesson at my studio knows about the Naughty Basket.  It’s the dark place where used, inappropriate, or just plain unloved make-up goes.  The fact that I fill it so quickly says a lot about how successful women are at purchasing products that work for them, but that’s another blog post.

When the Naughty Basket is full, the contents get packaged up and sent off to Terracycle®, a recycling company that facilitates, among many other waste collection programs, a Personal Care and Beauty Brigade® in partnership with cosmetic giant Garnier®.

In an ongoing effort to keep all of this packaging and chemical waste from reaching a landfill or an ocean, I’m hosting the first annual “Give Up Your Trash, Get Some Lash” event on Friday, November 14th.  We’ll be collecting your beauty trash from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at my studio, which is located at 892 County Line Road, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.  Parking in back and on streets surrounding the studio.

Take this opportunity to clean up and clean out your drawers and cabinets for the good. Drop off your used, empty or unwanted make-up and cosmetic containers, and as our thanks, we’ll put false lashes on you  that you can rock on your Friday night out (or in). We will accept the following items:

  • Cosmetics packaging such as cases, bottles and tubes from lipstick, gloss, mascara tubes, eye shadow, bronzer, foundation, powder cases, eyeliner as well as eye and lip pencils.
  • Hair care packaging such as bottles/jars and caps from shampoo, conditioner and styling products
  • Skin care packaging such as tubes, bottles and jars from face and body soaps and lotions

You can RSVP on Facebook and if you want more information, you can send e-mail to or call 610-220-0042.

And for more information about starting your own recycling brigade, visit

Your bar soap is calling …. and it wants you back….

You may not be old enough to remember Irish Spring soap commercials (“Manly yes, but I like it too!”) or know that Ivory soap floats, or that each bar of Dove contains “one-quarter cleansing cream.“  In those days, upscale bar soaps—those you wouldn’t find in a grocery store—were made by apothecarial types and American companies that were named after British people. The raciest body cleanser available was Vitabath, a heady green gelee that manly-men wouldn’t be caught dead using.

Soap went liquid in a big way in the 1980’s, when a company named Minnetonka introduced Softsoap. Almost 30 years later, bar soap has been sidelined in favor of every conceivable form of liquid cleanser, specialized by body part, and scented in all manner of flora, food and philosophies. Drugstores, supermarkets and big box stores stock aisles with dozens of brands that promise to calm, invigorate and exfoliate. Product junkies have field days in department stores and specialty retailers like Bath and Body Works and Sephora, where hundreds of shower and bath gels smell like breakfast, dessert and Starbuckian beverages.

Soap that is soft doesn’t get wrapped in paper; it gets bottled, usually in plastic, with a pump dispenser, the assumption being that to pump is to enjoy body cleansing in its most convenient form. But, as usual, convenience has a price; according to data from the Container Recycling Institute, about 25% of the bottles that are used for all this fancy washing are recycled (not the pumps, mind you, there’s no hope for them) – the rest go to landfills. No wonder that the lowly, lonely soap bar is standing on the outside looking in, wondering what the eco-hell has gotten into us.

In case you’re thinking of slinking back to the bar, but are concerned about harmful additives and the like, you can visit the Skin Deep database, which rates product safety on a scale from 1 to10, based on ingredients (not on how dangerous it is to pick up a bar of soap in the shower). Of the 1,252 bar soaps reviewed, over half rate a “2” (low hazard). Mainstream brands like Dove and Caress tend to score higher, and ironically, The Body Shop, a brand that promotes itself as “natural,” is one of the few with soaps that rate a whopping “7” on the hazard scale.

You can find Philly-made soaps in Reading Terminal Market at Terralyn, where eccentric-looking bars come in the shapes of things like goddesses and birds, or visit Terrain at Styres (Glen Mills) to sample their preciously packaged offerings.

Cleanliness being next to godliness, or whatever your motivation to Not Be Stinky, think about revisiting your basic and not-so-basic bar soaps – you might help to turn the plastic tide.

Introducing Amal Oils 100% Organic Argan Oil

        I now have a brilliant response to the oft-asked question “what should I use to moisturize my skin?”  That response is: “argan oil.”  Not because it’s the latest thing (which it kind of is) but because this pure, multi-tasking moisture is lovely to use, effective and reasonably priced.

   Amal Oils 100% Organic Argan Oil isn’t tested on animals (really) and is preservative, paraben, fragrance and toxin free. It is also very high in essential fatty acids (for moisture retention), sterols (compounds that have softening and anti-inflammatory properties), tocopherols (vitamin E) and polyphenols (another antioxidant).  This is good stuff.

    In addition to offering argan oil of the very highest quality, Amal Oils is a woman-owned company whose production of a beauty product actually supports the economic independence of Berber women in Morocco.  In a labor-intensive process, these women extract oil from the nut of the endangered but now protected argan tree.  Truly a tree worth hugging.

    Argan oil has a mild nutty fragrance that doesn’t linger and can be applied morning and evening as a  facial moisturizer.  Use it on the body, particularly on hands and to moisturize nails and cuticles, or on your hair, to add moisture and shine.

    I’m so excited to be the only resource in the Philadelphia area for this product – contact me to schedule time to come in and give it a try.  $35 for 2 ounces.

Brilliant Bride: Carrie Ann Theisen

 Most of the brides that I work with are looking for a classic, natural look.  But then, most brides I work with are not Carrie Ann Theisen, the beautiful Ph.D. candidate who wafted into my studio one fine day…

The first time that I was contacted by Carrie, who was referred by friend and photographer Jenna Stamm, we determined that I wouldn’t be available because of another wedding I was doing earlier on that October day.    She contacted me again a few months later, asking if I could teach her how to do her own make-up for the wedding (Saints, preserve us!), and she also mentioned that her ceremony time had changed.  Hallelujah! I could now make it to Bechtelsville in time to save her from herself.  And I was so thrilled to be working with Jenna again, who was the perfect photographer for Carrie; quirky with an edge, and an eye for all of the rustic and whimsical details that made this wedding the stuff of editorial spreads.   

Carrie, a tall, waifish beauty, is also a talented cognitive scientist who earned her doctorate from the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh.  Her dissertation was on “arbitrariness and systematicity in emergent communication systems” (Light reading?  I think not….).   She is a master of the German language and has studied Japanese, and was the recipient of a prestigious Marshall Scholarship to study in UK, an award that’s given to only 40 graduate students yearly.  Now that’s what I call a “brilliant bride.”

So… back to more weighty things.  On the day of her trial run, Carrie explained that she wanted to look ethereal, and that she wanted tons of clumpy….yes, “clumpy”….lashes.  She also wanted a nude, matte lip.  Bringing her unconventional hopes and dreams to reality was a blast for me.  I combined a purple-based neutral  (Jane Iredale Taupe) and gunmetal (MAC Club) shadows with diffused black liner to produce her wide-eyed bohemian look, then added the boatload of mascara and long, spikey false lashes required to achieve the desired clumpiness.  The nude matte lip was courtesy of Jane Iredale Lip Fixation in Craving – just perfect and I color I have a hard time keeping in stock.  Cheeks to match using MAC Lilicent Cream Blush.
The drive to Bechtelsville on that October day was spectacular – I only wish that I’d had more time to explore, but Carrie’s wedding was #2 of my three-wedding-in-one-day extravaganza, so no luck with the antiquing, etc.  The wedding was held at Carrie and fiance Jeremiah’s home in the middle of the woods.  The early fall sun filtering through the trees was magical. 


My favorite wedding ceremony shot of all time, because of the very well-behaved “Best Dog.”

And of course, my favorite of the lot:

 Thank you, Jenna Stamm, for introducing me to Carrie, and thank you, Carrie, for letting me be a part of your charming, woodland fantasy wedding!

Clean and Green: Harmony Cleaners

I love it when one of my jobs has an eco-conscious angle, and this feature in Bucks Life Magazine (July/August 2009) is no exception.  Sisters Debi Sarandrea and Vicki Brown founded Harmony Clean in 2003 and the products they use in their home cleaning services are non-toxic and safer for inhabitants and the environment.

I had a lot of fun doing make-up for these two eco-entrepreneurs.  You can visit their website at

Tierra Mia Organic Nail Spa

Getting “nailed” has a whole new meaning in Philadelphia, now home to an innovative spa that, according to co-owner Justin Mitchell, is the first of its kind in the country.

Mitchell, an architectural lighting designer by training, and his partner Karina Restrepo, a former engineering student who previously ran the nail services at Rescue Rittenhouse, spent one year renovating a space on South 17th Street that “no one wanted to touch.”  The result is Tierra Mia Organic Nail Spa.

Walk into this space and the first thing that you may (or may not) notice is that the flower-lined room is utterly devoid of the fumes normally associated with a nail salon.  And it’s not just because of the Columbian-style clay wall treatment that works to improve the spa’s air quality.  The polishes used are all water-based, and the remover, made in Germany, is 96.7% natural.

The name of the spa (“my land”) is a nod to Restrepo’s South American roots.  Her journey has taken her from a salon in her native Columbia, where doing nails was “a hobby,” to owning a business that is breaking new ground in the beauty industry. 

Mitchell designed and renovated the entire space, incorporating moody lighting elements that lend to the overall soothing and earthy-but-not-crunchy atmosphere.  The back of the spa houses the “Rolls Royce” of pedicure chairs, a quiet room for reflexology and hair removal, and a courtyard where herbs used in the spa rituals are grown.  The only original element they kept was the kitschy linoleum floor in the bathroom.

Nail services with names like “Tilling the Soil” and “Bagazo del Coconut” incorporate edibles such as organic rice and fresh coconut meat shredded on the spot.  What one normally thinks of as “waxing” is done with a soy-based, non-wax, non-sugar, antibacterial and antimicrobial system—a mouthful, but the result is an uncomplicated and skin-friendly way to be smooth.   The spa also offers mineral make-up applications using Honeybee, a natural cosmetic company based in Pennsylvania.

Mitchell and Restrepo are both dedicated soldiers in the green movement.  They have two blogs: “Pioneers in Organic Nail Care keeps readers up-to-date on innovations like their “polish free” manicure, while “Nail Industry Exposed” dwells on the darker side of the nail industry.  Mitchell points out, for example, that “3-free”—the buzz phrase for the recent shift on the part of larger nail polish manufacturers like OPI and Avon to remove the chemicals dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene from their formulas—doesn’t ensure a safe product.  But it does allow these companies to market the polishes as “natural” without much further scrutiny.

No such scrutiny needed at Tierra Mia: the spa is, above all, a business with a conscience and a mission to inform women about environmentally-sound grooming choices.  As manicurist Rosie puts it, “the flowers stay alive at Tierra Mia.”

Tierra Mia Organic Nail Spa, winner of this year’s “Best of Philly” title for manicures, is located on 328 South 17th Street and is open seven days a week.  Call 215-735-7980 for more information.