Preventing wrinkles: it can be as simple as your expressions!

When I was a young art school student, studying Fine Arts and Theory at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto, I was always inspired by my professors. They were so accomplished, talented and brilliant. Intellectually strong and academically enriching able to carry on discourse deeply, engagingly. One of my professors that I really liked was a cerebral Art seminar instructor who was heavy with her ideas. She often dawned very politically charged, raw topics, and presented them to her students with a lot of open minded energy. She also re-affirmed and validated my artistic ambitions, whether in positive critiques of my essays or in actual pieces. And that’s why I adored her. But one thing I noticed about her was how when she was deep in analytical thought, she would furrow her eyebrows so deeply, they had a permanent wrinkle on her forehead. She was a handsome woman who didn’t seem to care about superficial beauty, but was after what her mind could embody and the intellectual beauty of that. I could respect that, and still do.

But I work in the fashion industy, and also have my own cosmetics line, dream e beauty, so I know that physically aesthetic beauty is valuable too. I will never teach Art at a University level, but I will have to represent daily, my more tangible skills…and that is…avoiding wrinkles by not emoting too much. It’s sad, isn’t it? That deep thinking, stress, and expressing emotions like joy, anger and fear, can cause wrinkles–but it can. When we pose our faces in certain expressions everyday, we are training our skin to crease in the same areas, and like a piece of paper, we will crease, especially as we age and our skin gets less elastic and less supple.

Is there a solution to preventing this? My advice is to be aware of when we are making certain expressions that will cause wrinkling. For example, when I get excited, suprised or angry, I often lift and furrow my eyebrows, causing my forehead skin to wrinkle. And I noticed over time, that these wrinkles are starting to stay. I use my anti-wrinkle antioxidant balm every night on my forehead to increase the skin suppleness there, but another guard is to just stop making expressions that cause wrinkles. And here’s the hard part…I have to make myself aware of which expressions, and facial muscles make these creases, and stop doing them. So hard…especially since they are natural reactions to my life and my world.

Which brings me to what a wise friend once told me. To stay young and creaseless, one cannot smile, one cannot frown, one cannot laugh, or worry, or scowl. We have to remain expressionlessand emotionless to maintain flawless unwrinkled skin. And that’s a tall order…are you willing to trade in your human personalities and expressions for the sake of flawless skin? Is being less emotive and human worth it? Maybe, maybe not…but it’s useful to know that some wrinkles can be created, and therefore can also be prevented.

The gamut of expressions a gal might make; looks cute in these manga drawings…but in reality, they could mean a whole bunch of wrinkles after a few years of emoting too fiercely!

 

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Why the hesitation to use natural/food grade ingredients in cosmetics?

I never really thought of this before. It’s kind of logical to me. In a battle of best cosmetic ingredients between natural and chemical, natural is just better. If I can eat something, like coconut oil, and then also use it on my hair to moisturize, that’s a win win situation…I have always thought that if it is safe to go into our bodies, it is safe to put on our bodies…but I recently found out not everyone thinks this way…There is a point of view that cosmetics should remain a chemical science, and that putting food on ourselves is just well, kinda dirty. Where did I get this idea from? A man working at a hair supply shop told me this, when I mentioned I used a bit of coconut oil for my dry ends. He said the problem with food grade is that it mixes with microbes and such on our bodies and can easily become rancid and/dirty.

Hmm…Dirty? I never realized this point of view before, and while I think the shop guy might be right to some degree, I still think it’s an exaggeration at best. The outsides of our bodies can take a bit of dirt and microbes. Our own bodily oils are teaming with loads of bacteria and such, it’s all over us…adding food grade ingredients does not necessarily add to the microbial community…maybe it would if we never showered…but the average person in North America probably showers at least once a day; not enough time for coconut oil or any food grade oil to become rancid, and thus dangerous to our health. Advocating for chemicals and chemical preservatives to remain the standard for quality hair care, is a bit unfounded. Many of the chemicals in cosmetics are known to be drying, irritating to the skin, cause allergic reactions, and even have traces amounts of carcinogens. Yikes.

The trend to go natural is so strong actually, that many big cosmo companies now say they have squeezed natural ingredients into their formula. I’ve seen so many times the advertising and labeling of big brand products claiming to use honey, botanicals, fruits, natural oils and butters. The ironic thing is the natural inclusions are often very denatured/altered and it’s a very minute amount that’s used. Why moisturize with a vat of silicones and trace amounts of cocoa butter, if cocoa butter is the actual desirable ingredient? I have to toot my own horn when I say I make a solid lotion at Dream E that is a third made of cocoa butter and all natural other ingredients, except for a small amount of fragrances. But 95% natural is better than 1% natural any day in my opinion.

At my local Shoppers Drugmart: look at all these chemical and chemically preserved products! Don’t get me wrong, I still use them sometimes…but if I had a natural alternative, probably not.

I think as a society, the culture is moving away from chemical dependencies as a whole in general. I do feel that people prefer food that hasn’t touched pesticides, and are organically grown without fertilizers…Society seems to want more natural things in bodies, so why not reflect this view when it comes to cosmetics, if possible? Don’t get me wrong I like my chemical stuffs too, I use at least a dozen different chemical make-ups everyday; I wrote an article singing the praises for a superstay lipcolour formula that has the lasting power of car paint enamel! But when I can, I readily choose natural: I remove make-up with coconut oil. I use olive oil to amp up my hair conditioner…Vitamin E capsules used externally for my face at night, sugar face scrub, glycerin setting spray…anything that is food for internal can be also be food for skin or hair…

So here is the food isle at my local drugmart: I have been known to use many food grade items for cosmetic purposes: sugar, honey, yogurt, olive oil, coconut oil, cornstartch…etc. just to name a few…

In the end, I don’t think food grade ingredients at their purest, simplest form can ever be harmful. Think about in the past, before industrialization…people had to resort to what was around them to take care of their skin. Shea butter from the shea nut…is still used for cooking and moisturizing skin in many places of the world, with amazing healthy results…nut shells for exfoliation…cocoa butter, aloe vera…all of these plants derived food ingredients are still widely used on the body externally…and there is no scientific study or test needed to formulate and manufacture then truth that they work well. It just makes sense they do because sometimes Nature knows more about beauty, than chemical Science does.

Why Working at L’Occitane (or any cosmetic giant) is the worst

I am not ever going to work for any corporate cosmetic giant again ever.  Why? That industry is just really, really fake.  From the fake smiles from management, to the fake unnatural ingredients and scents in products, I just never seem to like these corporate conglomerates that spew goo onto the masses and say that it’s skincare, that it’s beautifying.  What it is is actually taxing. To our minds, bodies and souls.  Not one of them is good. There is no difference between L’oreal, Body Shop, Bath and Body Works, and even the classy, upscale philanthropic L’Occitane En Provence. They are all about the bottom line, semi-decent products, and they don’t value their employees at all.  Most recently I gave L’Occitane a chance, and in the past I have also worked at Bath and Body Works, and you can hear about the gripes here in another article.

Okay, so I still have their sales apron...but I didn't snag it. It was actually because they were not clear when my last day would be, and I had optimistically taken it home thinking I'd be there again...
Okay, so I still have their sales apron…but I didn’t snag it. It was actually because they were not clear when my last day would be, and I had optimistically taken it home thinking I’d be there again…

When I got the seasonal position at the French cosmetic company L’Occitane last holiday season, I was optimistic about their business model.  I wanted to learn about the cosmetics industry on a corporate level, and compare it to what I did in my own cosmetic studios at dreamecosmetics, and well, my findings were just disillusioning.  Like I mentioned before, it doesn’t matter which corporation is running the show, but all of the cosmetics industry is about profit, and none of it is about self care, healing or learning. They all want to “seem” beautifying, but with a focus on profit, market shareholders, and too many corrupt people in management, it is impossible for them to fill that mission.

Things I learned at L’Occitane that is probably true of all Cosmetic Conglomerates:

  1. They only care about making sales, and it doesn’t matter how: When I was on the sales floor as a seasonal rep, management was always nervous about me helping customers.  Like I would negate a sale, and that their other permanent reps would do better.  Well, what about letting me learn, and earn my keep there?  No, they preferred that I defer customers to other staff rather than I learn how to sell their product. Short term gains over long term investment in educating me to be part of their team. Typical.
  2. The products were over priced, over hyped, and just idealized too much.  L’Occitane’s hair care, skin care, and perfumes were at least triple the price of most common name brands at the pharmacy, and they did little to justify the cost of them.  Instead we had to focus on the heritage of the company, how it was a beautiful region of France that it originated from, and how this magically meant that a hand cream could be $32 a tube.  Well, even if they were slightly better in quality, did we really have to believe that it was made of rainbows and centuries of heritage from the south of France?  No, obviously not.  But we had to pedal that image to customers, or face the wrath of being sent to the stock room. Which leads me to point 3…
  3. I got sent to the stockroom to do menial tasks more often than not. I was really good with customers and had knowledge about skincare and fashion, but instead of using this knowledge, they put me in the backroom to unload stock for most of the day, then sent me back to the sales floor, then sent me back to the stock.  I wasn’t treated like I was a valuable part of the team. Why hire seasonal sales staff if you are not willing to treat them well for the short time they are there? I cut my fingers deeply twice during the time that I worked there, because of the menial tasking they delegated to me…and I was not hired to be a backroom stock person, seasonal or not.
  4. Management fakery: This was the main reason of all my stress there.  Because head office only spoke with the managers and only looked at the bottom line, a crappy manager could get away with a lot, and even get a promotion (which she did during the time I was there to District Manager).  The manager for L’Occitane told me I had a good chance at getting a permanent position after serving my seasonal one, but also hired another seasonal staff that I felt I had to compete with.  Even though I felt I was the more qualified one (ie. years of retail experience) the other seasonal eventually became permanent.  In hindsight, I doubt that the manager ever wanted to put me as a permanent staff.  She just wanted to use me for the short period and then drop me the minute she could…which is what she did in the most unprofessional manner: She didn’t even tell me that they would not be renewing my contract.  I had to assume this when she sent me a staff schedule that didn’t have dates past my contract end.  That’s right…I was just supposed to shrivel away….and disappear.  As if!
  5. They had the laziest permanent staff: I never saw a more lazy sales team than that of the permanent staff at L’Occitane.  They complained about standing around with nothing to do.  They chatted and gossiped at large about nothing in particular, and the worst of their problems was who would get the early shift the next day.  Customers were annoying to them, and they often didn’t even like the products they sold and were dispassionate. They barely shared information with me about what they knew about the company, and often compensated for their professional distance with asking personal questions about my private life.  All in all, it was not cool, and I have never felt less useful as a worker in my life.  And this was at a posh store like L’Occitane.  It’s sad, really.
  6. Brand Image Hypocrisy: Because of the high prices/high end image L’Occitane held in the marketplace, they had to have a more “philanthropic” image to show to the public.  They often talked about how they donate to noble causes such as associations for the blind, and “Dress for Success”; an initiative that gave second hand clothes to marginalized women so that they can get jobs.  Now here is the irony: I’m sure L’occitane hires a lot of women in need during the holidays as seasonal sales.  And well, what would of been nice of them to do was not only to pay our temporary wages, but to instill management to treat the seasonal staff with more respect–it doesn’t cost the bottom line. If a company wants to support under-served women and community…why not start with their staff?  I am a long time retail worker, I could use a bit of respect on top of the meager wages any day.

After finding out the hard way that they didn’t renew my contract, I was obviously upset. The manager encouraged me to keep in contact with the company and the store, so that they can keep having a relationship with me as a worker.  But honestly, corporations that alienate the work force have little to no chance of a relationship with me. If I was a valuable member of their sales team last holiday, then ultimately it’s their loss, and not mine.