Sunday, July 29, 2012

A mascara update and a rant about cosmetic sales people

Thanks to everyone who made suggestions helping me not get mascara all over my eye lids! I tried a few things, but nothing seemed to work. I tried putting the mascara in the fridge - this kind of worked, but it still remained really wet. I've tried a ton of different brands. I even tried looking for a shield I could use, but no one carried it in town. But I think I've found something that works...

Earlier this week, I bought a new mascara and applied it in the car with reckless abandon (I was parked!). I didn't get it all over my eye lids. I was wearing mascara I had applied that morning, and I wondered if that was the answer. Perhaps my eye lashes are a bit weirdly shaped, and having the other mascara in it helped them be in a different shape, one that was more conducive to not having black all over my eye lids. I think that's the answer because I only get the mascara on my eye lids in two specific places, both of which are where my eye lashes curve up a little.

The last few days I've tried using a white/clear mascara first, then I apply the black when that dries. Bingo! Is that the answer? I've had three days of awesome success with this method, so I'm calling this my new way of applying mascara.

Thank you so much for all your help to find a solution to this problem! I wore white eyeshadow yesterday and no black marks at all! (As an aside, I don't have a problem with the eye shadow or mascara smudging through the day, just when I'm applying it in the morning!)

As an aside, searching for answers led me to talk to make-up ladies in various shops around town...and I really am astonished by the lack of information and the spreading of misinformation that is going on at the make-up counter.

I visited a well known Canadian drug store chain to ask if the clerk if she had any ideas about the mascara problems. She came to the conclusion that my skin was too oily and that I needed to change my entire skin care regimen. She's not wrong about my skin - I swear I'm oilier than when I was a teenager some days - but I don't think that's the issue. I wash my face before applying my mascara, and I make a point of going over my eyes with the foam before rinsing. (The joys of pH balancing a cleanser!) She introduced me to a skin care line that was only available by prescription until recently,   and suggested that I use this. (The skin care line is also apparently 200 years old. Prescriptions from 200 years ago tended to be for a course of leeches, a good bleeding, or snake oil...) She recommended a cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer despite the fact that I told I made my own products and really couldn't use moisturizer.

An aside...apparently you can't mix and match skin care lines. It will cause break outs. And other bad things. She couldn't explain why this would happen, but it happens. It happened to her. There's no valid reason why this should happen from a biological or chemical perspective, but it's something I've heard so many times...sigh...

I took a look at the ingredients in the skin care line she suggested. The sensitive and acne prone skin moisturizer contains shea butter. A good ingredient and a good moisturizer, but very comedogenic. The oil free moisturizer contains fractionated coconut oil as the second ingredient (INCI: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride). As I read the ingredients, I grew more and more frustrated. Why is this called organic when it contains dimethicone? (Love silicones, but I don't consider them organic!) What in the name of all that is good and holy is a micelle cleanser? (More soon...)

"If my husband and best friend knew you were standing so close to me as I read ingredients off these boxes, they'd consider you very brave." I said to her, half jokingly, hoping she would leave me alone. She didn't. She wanted to tell me all about this skin care line and the other one, making claims that it would cure eczema (which I didn't bring up) and other skin problems. She told me they didn't contain parabens, but she didn't know what parabens are and why I'd want to avoid them. I finally said - very nicely, I hope - that it was unlikely that I would be buying anything and she might want to help another customer.

I won't forget the time I went to the Vichy consultant and asked her to take a closer look at my skin with her magnifying machine. I had been spending money on Vichy products for the past year, and I was curious to see what she'd say.
"Oh no, you have so many skin problems," she exclaimed, "but Vichy products will make it better!" "But I've been using your products for the last year."
"Which ones?" I showed her the line. It was the acne prevention line. "You don't have acne, so these products are all wrong for you! You should be using the anti-aging line." (I was about 23 at the time. A few months later I would start the Retin-A for acne). And so on...

Another time, a clerk in the same store told us to use a night cream at night and a day cream during the day because your skin is biologically different at is it different? She couldn't tell me. But it is.

I know I should be nicer to make-up counter clerks, but I get so frustrated about the misinformation they're spreading! Even before I started being Swift, obsessive chemistry girl, I had to know why and how things worked, and I ask a lot of questions. If you don't know, say you don't know. Don't tell me things like my skin is different at night or I should use shea butter on acne prone skin. How does a normal, non-chemistry obsessed person get good information? 

Thus endeth the rant...


Sarah {The Student Knitter} said...

the answer is we don't get good information. I've been living with bad skin since I was 14 (now 30) and I still can't get good information.

melian1 said...

i adore your blog! how many times have i been in a similar situation, knowing the information was bogus.

you rock!

Makeup Harlot said...

Regarding your mascara, have you tried waterproof? I have oily lids and I find my mascara will travel to the top and bottom of my lids when I don't wear a waterproof formula. I'm not sure if that will make a difference but it's worth a try. :)

I don't even have to worry about the people working at a drugstore counter steering me in the wrong direction because usually when I go to Shoppers they ignore me anyways! lol. Although one time, a woman working there got really frustrated at me because I did not agree with her about where a certain product was made at. She was trying to tell me that this specific Canadian company was based out of Montreal and that's where ALL of their products were made at. I explained to her that although they are based in Montreal, some of their products are manufactured in China. Her jaw dropped like I said something sinful and her response was "no!!! they are from Montreal dear!!! while she proceeded to look at me with a grumpy face. Then I turned over the eye shadow and it said made in China....

Beth said...

Hi! couple of things ... What else do you wear, but the mascara? Do you wear foundation and powder around the eye area - if you do, you can just wait a bit for the mascara on your lids (where you messed) to dry COMPLETELY and then remove it very effortlessly with a cosmetic bud (the ones with the pointy ends work well) it should flake off easily if its properly dry and you have primed the eye area (foundation and powder.

To avoid the messing part, try the following: when you put the mascara on the lower lashes, lower your chin, in other words, look down. Now with you head bent down look up in the mirror. This will make the space between your lower lashes and the skin (eyelid ) under them bigger. Also - open your mouth. If ever you wondered about why women do this (that stupid male joke) it is because you pull the skin taught under your eye and open your eye wider if you do. (some people, including men also do this when inserting contact lenses.)First do the one eye and then the other. (so you do the bottom first)If your mascara is new(or very wet) do something else now before you do the top lashes - like putting on lipstick or blush or brushing your hair... what ever is also in your morning regime.

Now do the top lashes. The bottom ones should be much drier by this time. Raise your chin (as if looking up at the ceiling)then keeping your head in this position, look down back into the mirror. Your eyes should be more 'closed' and you will see that the lashes are far away from the upper eyelids. Now apply some mascara only to the roots (don't pull the want through to the tips) just place the wand at the roots and wiggle it left and right a bit.
Then do the other eye. Then go back to the first eye and pull the wand through from the roots to the tips, then the 'back' of the lashes, root to tips and then from the bottom (inside) again root to tip. Wiggle the brush as you do. Now do the other eye.

Hope this helps.. :S

Nancy Liedel said...

I made you a mascara video on my You Tube personal channel, "over forty princess." You may have it licked, so feel free to ignore it :)

As for sales people. Ugh, no education at all. My hair stylist is constantly telling me Pert will perm my hair and how much better, you name the line they are pushing that month. So I spent money on a bottle of Pert (make my own) and sat with her and compared the incis top to bottom. I get that higher end products have nice packaging and smell great, but they are often apples to apples. Her latest, "MUST BUY PRO PRODUCT" had sls listed first, after water. I have no issues with 15% sls, but don't put it in products. She also went on and on about the horrors of Parabens. However, the last few incis? Parabens. She had no idea she was lying because she could not read an inci list. I don't blame her. I blame the school that taught her complete with agenda and the shoppe she worked in.

Her manager was not around and we discussed a lot of what I learned here. Like her chosen conditioner did have Centronium Chloride in it, so it would help with build up, but build up is not as big a problem as some people make it out to be. Had her manager been there, she would have ignored me, because selling the stuff is more her job than cutting my hair. Sigh

Sam said...

I paint milk of magensia on my lids, and in the crease line under the eyes with a makeup brush. Let it dry and apply makeup, including mascara. Really helps.

anja said...

The kind of misinformation you mentioned is one of my biggest peeves--plus it's comically naive to think a cosmetic salesperson could take one look at my skin and somehow have a deeper understanding of it than either I or my doctors have. And like Nancy mentioned, they often have no idea what's even in the product they're pushing. I just hope that companies will realize we're not fooled and start spending some time and dollars on actually educating their salespeople on their products beyond just "Sell more of these."

Anonymous said...

*frustrated sigh* Wow. Thats all I can say.

On another note, what is the product in last picture you posted? The thick lotion looking one in the bottle. That looks like fun!

MissMercurial said...

I sometimes think I should get a job as one of those cosmetics salespeople (at a drugstore or something so I wouldn't be married to one brand, preferably) if only to perhaps slightly counteract some of the massive misinformation. But my good conscience won't let me sell things I don't believe my options would be quite limited, haha.

How does a normal, non-chemistry obsessed person get good information?
By having said people like ourselves make info easily accessible and as dumbed down for the masses as possible (harsh, but true). Even then, there's no guarantee it'll help any - I've only managed to inform and subsequently "convert" two or three of my friends :/

Maryse said...

Sorry I can't help you with the mascara thing since I don't use any...
But on the subject of salesclerks, cosmetic companies and misleading, I could write a book!

There is this new trend in marketing food and "natural" products that drives me nut.They claim you won't find unpronounceable ingredients in their list. Bah!
Lead is natural and easily pronounceable; do you want some in your cereals or facecream??!!!

Anyway, like Melian wrote, you rock!

Anonymous said...

It's all bull cake, all everybody wants is to sell their product and get our money into their account.I agree that is not the salesperson fault because that's what they were told, to tell us whatever they heard from their bosses.
You are a blessing Swift,

Heather said...

Hi there,

Well, I'm one of those annoying cosmetics "girls" lol! I've worked in the industry for a decade for various cosmetic and skincare lines. It really isn't always the counter girls fault. They usually only make about $12 an hour and are only repeating things that their educational directors and managers tell them. I for one am not an annoying counter girl and have taken time to learn the basics, because I hate spreading misinformation. I don't buy into product hype and rarely think any of the stuff I see in stores is worth he price, which makes it difficult to work in the industry still, but I pick a few products that have awesome ingredients and those are the ones I talk about and promote. I'm always honest with clients and often I will even recommend inexpensive drug store brands that I think will work well for them. My personal philosophy with skincare is the gentler the better, which doesn't fit most products. Anyhow, sounds like you figured out the mascara dilemma, but just in case- have you tried dusting loose powder over your lids and lashes before mascara application? Also, does this happen with all brands- perhaps, a less gooey formula would be better. One other tip that I give people that have a really hard time with mascara application is to pull the wand out and wrap a tissue around it and pull the wand out- gently removing excess product. It does waste the product a little, but most mascaras dry out before you finish them up anyway and in general you can often get a much cleaner application.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thanks to everyone for your comments and suggestions.

Hi Sarah! This is one of the reasons I started making my own products! Even when I thought I was getting good information about products, I was told that was wrong. (I think I told the Vichy story in a previous post...I'm using their products, but I'm using the wrong version of them! What???)

I have used waterproof mascara, and it doesn't make a difference. I really think the problem is that my eye lashes are curved weirdly in two places, and that's where the mascara gets on my eye lids. I am holding my head back for a bit longer these days, and that seems to be working as well. I did try curling my lashes to make them a different shape, but that just hurt my eyes and made me annoyed.

These are the mascaras I've tried: L'Oreal telescoping (lengthening), LashBlast (volumizing), New York Colour City Curls (curling), Big Curls Don't Cry (waterproof, curling), Maybelline Great Lash (volumizing), Revlon CustomEyes (waterproof, volumizing), and Maybelline XXL (volumizing with an interesting brush).

I don't use mascara on my lower lashes - it's too dressy for work or groups - and I don't use anything else on my face. I sometimes use an eye primer that I made, but most times I don't. I don't wear foundation or powder or anything else, and I don't really want to as it's just so much work. And I don't have mascara coming off or flaking off my lashes during the day. The only problem I have is getting mascara on my upper lid when I'm applying it.

I've been using the primer from the Maybelline XXL mascara, and it's working, but I'm finding it hard to get a primer on its own that isn't very expensive. If I have to throw it out after three months, I don't want to spend $20 on some Lancome product.

I make sure I have only the lightest coating of mascara on the wand when I use it. (I think I mentioned I saw Tyra Banks on Oprah talking about pumping the mascara and loading the brush and how that was pointless, so I stopped doing it that day many years ago!)

Thanks for all the suggestions. I really appreciate that you took the time to offer some help. I'm listening and trying everything!

As for the shop clerks, I don't blame them! I went to the drug store in question the other day, and I talked to her manager. I made it very clear that the clerk can only share the information she has been given, and that I worried she was given poor information. I loved her enthusiasm, but I don't like that she was offering unsolicited skin care consultations while ignoring my original request for help with mascara, and that she was making claims about cosmetic products. Again, I made it very clear that she was a lovely sales clerk, but she needed some information on what she was selling and how she was selling it.

And where we live, the minimum wage was raised to $10.25 recently, and I think most newbie clerks would be lucky to have received $10 before that change!

Heather said...

I was referring to department store cosmetic sales girls in the US. $12 per hour plus commission seems to be the average and the minimum wage is like $7.50 per hour or something ridiculously low in most states. They are paid higher, because of the amount of training and also half of theur salary is paid by the department store while half is paid by the cosmetic company- but I'm sure it's different in a drug store cosmetic aisle and who knows what it's like in Canada. Cosmetics sales girls in department stores in the US can earn up to about $20 and hour plus their commission. If they work directly for the brand/vendor they can earn $20-$30 an hour on average. Anyhow, I will say, it is the sales associate's goal to link products. Coming to a counter with the mascara issue you mentioned- I can completely understand why she jumped to oily eyelids. However, her recommendations were off, considerably, but she was actually attempting to link cosmetics to skincare- which is very favorable in the industry.

I use L'Oreal Voluminous in Carbon Black- the waterproof one starts off more gooey, but the regular one isn't as bad. I actually get mascara on my top lids as well, I guess because my lashes are a little bit long, but it has never bothered me too much as once the mascara dries the problem goes away and I just wipe the excess with a q-tip. Some brands really make it bad though. I've noticed Maybellene (spelling?) (the pink tube) does it, Christian Dior, Estee Lauder and Paula Dorf... anything too wet and sticky textured. I just stick to my tried and true L'Oreal Voluminous- plus it's much less expensive. Good luck!

Oh, and you know what's interesting. You might have a laugh. While you gripe about cosmetic girls telling you a bunch of hooey, I have a hard time selling skincare when I tell people facts and talks about active ingredients. It drives me nuts. It seems customers would rather believe that pomegranate extract is going to make a wrinkle disappear rather than hear about things like retinoids, AHAs, cell communicating ingredients and various anti-oxidants. People like hype or want to believe shea butter and coconut oil will cure them of aging ailments. It drives me nuts! Just yesterday I had a lady tell me how retinol doesn't do anything but that she bought a $100 tube of face cream that some guy invented from noticing how nice his hands looked after cleaning out his fish tank. She didn't know what made it so wonderful, but she called it a miracle product. Who am I to argue?

Emily NA said...

LMAO! Way too funny! I giggle to myself when I hear people make claims about something when it's not biologically proven. The day cream and night cream things is something I hear ALL THE TIME and I just shake my head.

I love the Clinique girl that told me the Dramatically Different Lotion doesn't work unless you use all the skincare steps, she gave real reasons for the toner/lotion prepping the skin and "melding" with the lotion. And the Lancome specialist informing me that chronically dry skin was found to be missing a lipid with ease and technical terms.

Anne-Marie said...

There is so much misinformation out there about cosmetic products and I think you are absolutely right to feel this way. Thanks for sharing your story.

Penny Lane Organics said...

LOVE your rant :-)

LS said...

This is great! I love science. And I love making skincare. Sifting the wheat from the chaff really takes time--and for a non-chemist like me, it's really tough.

Liz Tóth said...

Love that rant and I so hear you!!! My problem was allergies; I couldn't use the commercial mascara because of the preservatives. And I got ALL kinds of advice from the salespeople (probably including a few bits of "snake oil" here and there)! My solution: I tried making my own mascara (real mascara with preservatives, of course - not the egg-yolk kind of stuff). That was my first project, and the start of one of the greatest - and most educational - hobbies ever.

Got the basic formula for the mascara from - that formula is pretty good right out of the gate, and it is tweakable.

I had no idea at the time where to get ingredients, containers, tools, nothing. And then I found Swift, and things got a whole lot easier (and more fun!), and now I get to say I make all my own skin care products AND I don't have to listen to anyone shilling for Clinique!

Love ya, Susan... you rock!!!

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Thank you so much, Liz! You are lovely! I'm having a really awful day, and your comment made me smile so much.