Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Is Your Makeup Brand Really Cruelty-Free? You May Want To Take A Second Look.

Animal Testing

When I read this question on the FDA Cosmetics quiz, I knew it would be a good one to cover. It’s not as if we’re blowing this one open or uncovering any myths, but we do want to talk about animal testing.

Last month we talked about how much our skin absorbs. This time we’re covering the FDA question, True or False; “Cruelty Free” or “Not tested in Animals” means that no animal testing was done on the product and its ingredients.

Here’s their answer:

False; Even if a product never was tested in animals, there’s a very good chance its ingredients were. A company might call its products “cruelty free” because it isn’t doing any animal testing on these ingredients now, although the ingredients may have been tested on animals in the past. In some cases, “no new animal testing” might be a more accurate claim.

What Does ‘Animal Testing’ Mean?

Maybe this is an obvious question but I’m an optimist and when I think about animal testing I envision a little monkey with a shower cap playing with some lipstick. It’s cute and it seems like it could be a harmless little thing. Boy was I wrong (wrong, wrong).

I won’t include photos, and don’t google it if you’ve got a mind to because what animal testing is, is cruel. Have you ever had an allergic reaction that covered your body with an itchy rash? It’s miserable. That’s just one of the common tests animals in a lab go through to answer the question, “how much of this substance can we feed/apply to its body before it has a terrible reaction.”

Rabbits, mice and guinea pigs are most often used by scientists to test what happens when living beings are exposed to the most hazardous chemicals we know of. They go through patch testing, forced toxic inhalation, dissection, cancer screenings (because a lot of the chemicals that are tested are carcinogens), concentrated eye irritation, in-vitro birth defect assessments, and a whole slew of other tests. Further, animal testing doesn’t even offer up a full picture of what could happen with an ingredient because human body chemistry is different than a mouse, bunny, or guinea pig.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we’re all for scientific discovery and we wouldn’t want to hinder any life-saving techniques or products out there but I want to level with you. The cosmetics industry is appearance based. How much does your beauty matter if your favorite makeup brands are backed by cruelty? Not to mention that the types of ingredients commonly used in chemically produced skin care products are typically detrimental to your skin over time. It seems asinine to use products that are tested on animals just to look good, especially when those products can contribute to the appearance of aging over time.

The FDA agrees that animal testing isn’t necessary and coupled with the National Toxicology Program to create two aptly named interdisciplinary agencies — the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) and the Interagency Center for the Evaluation of Alternative Toxicological Methods (NICEATM) — to ensure that new chemical testing procedures are found to protect human and animal health.

How to Spot Animal Testing

Learning that your favorite ‘cruelty free’ brands may have ingredients that are tested on animals can be pretty upsetting. In some ways, testing an ingredient is even worse than a finished product because ingredient testing is often focused on how concentrated the dosing can get before it causes harm. Yikes!

Here are some guidelines to seeing through the words ‘cruelty free’ on the pretty labels:

Chemical ingredients. If an ingredient is made in a lab, you can almost bet that it’s been tested on animals.

New ingredients. If you’ve been using a product for a while and you suddenly see on the packaging that the brand upgraded or added new ingredients, there’s a great chance it’s gone through animal testing to be on the shelf, especially if it’s man made. Look for extra information on the ingredient in the products that has changed, most actual cruelty free companies are excited to talk about their ingredient changes.

Read through the claims. If your favorite cleanser has a claim on it that says something like, “we don’t test our products on animals unless it’s for legal reasons” look closely at what they aren’t saying. These cosmetic companies may not be testing their products on animals, but they’re probably using ingredients that have been tested.

Look to other countries. Animal testing isn’t off the table in the US but the EU has totally banned animal testing on products. So if the company that you’re purchasing your products from also sells in the EU, there’s a pretty good chance they’re one of the cruelty-free brands. On the other hand, China requires that all internationally imported or exported cosmetic products are animal tested so if you’re buying products from China, you can be sure of the testing.

Vet the company yourself. If you suspect that your favorite brand might use ingredients tested on animals, do a bit of research. You might be able to search their blog for the answers, most companies that are truly cruelty free talk about it. If you can’t find anything on their site, write to them and ask directly about their policies on animal testing.

What This Means For Us

Well, truthfully, we knew this when ASC started. This is one of the things that actually drove Annmarie and Kevin to start Annmarie Skin Care. Working directly with our formulator and our vendors lets us feel comfortable with the creation of our products from start to finish because we thoroughly vet any new vendor for our ingredients and we’re able to say that all aspects of our skincare and makeup products are in integrity with our focus: Honest. Wild. Beautiful.

We have shared our cruelty free promise with you for years and we’ve recently undergone the testing to be Leaping Bunny certified alongside our Made Safe certification because we use ingredients that are straight from nature, that have been used safely for generations. We think that if animal testing is necessary for a product to be brought to market, it most likely has the potential to cause harm to the user. We’re morally opposed to causing harm, even potential harm, when there are such effective, sustainable options available.

What are your thoughts on animal testing? Let us know below.

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “Product Testing – Animal Testing & Cosmetics.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

“Cosmetics Tests That Use Animals.” The Humane Society of the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

“Fact Sheet: Cosmetic Testing.” The Humane Society of the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

The following post Is Your Makeup Brand Really Cruelty-Free? You May Want To Take A Second Look. was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Best Foundation For Oily Skin: Minerals Multi-Purpose Foundation

Best make foundation for extremely oily skinWhen we were creating our Minerals by Annmarie Multi-Purpose Foundation we wanted to make sure to keep every skin type in mind. We asked, “what is the best foundation for oily skin?” and “how can we make one makeup that works for oily skin while still being the best foundation for other skin types?”

We think we have figured out the perfect solution to natural makeup for oily skin.

What Does Oily Skin Look Like?

If you’re oily you probably know it, but just in case you’re not sure, this is how we think about it.

The oil slick. A couple of hours after you wash your face, your skin is downright dewy. Your forehead is shiny and your cheeks are tacky to the touch.

Activity increases that shine. You feel sticky, not sweaty, after working out and you have to wash your face right away.

You need to exfoliate regularly. Sometimes skin that’s actually oily can seem dry if there’s too much buildup and the extra sebum gets trapped.

You’re blemish prone. Excess oils can trap and hold gunk that can cause build up and create impurities in the blemish prone skin.

Are you nodding your head right now? Congratulations, you probably have oily skin. You might be working with some impurities now, but you’ll be grateful when you start to show wrinkles much later than your dry skinned friends.

How to Find a Natural Foundation for Oily Skin

If you’re experiencing oily skin it can be really difficult to find the perfect beauty routine, let alone the best foundation. It seems like it either cakes on or slides off. Oil based makeups can make you look even shinier but the wrong kind of powder can highlight large pores or worse, get stuck in them. Here are a few general guidelines to search for in an organic makeup for oily skin.

Light consistency. A heavy foundation, even one made for oiliest of us, can look unnatural and cakey. It can puddle on the skin and wreak havoc with your flawless finish.

Matte finish. Oily skinned people live a life of shine. You don’t want to add to it so finding a foundation that stays matte is crucial for flawless coverage.

Non-clogging. For some people this means oil-free and for others, it means checking out the ingredient list for things that you know might cause a blemish if the natural oils hold onto it for too long.

Targeted ingredients. Look for ingredients that aren’t going to make you oilier over time like natural minerals, hydrators, and herbal infusions that are targeted towards cleansing and balancing.

Enough coverage. This is the real challenge, right? How to get the full coverage you need without having a foundation that’s too heavy.

Minerals Multi-Purpose Foundation

Remember how I said that we wanted to create a product that works for all skin types? Well, we did it! The Minerals by Annmarie Multi-Purpose Foundation is a versatile organic mineral makeup that comes in 8 different shades and makes a beautiful nude palette. It’s fine enough to be mixed with your moisturizer and goes on smooth enough to be used as dry.

For oily skin, we like to suggest using the Mineral Foundation as a dry powder! You can watch a video of Carly brushing it on for full coverage here, but there are a couple of great ways to use it as a dry powder rather than a liquid foundation.

After your moisturizer. It might seem counter-intuitive but a lot of people with oily skin do really well with a moisturizer. We suggest working with a moisturizer that helps balance out oiliness over time like our Herbal Facial Oil for Oily Skin. Apply your regular moisturizer and then brush the Minerals on over top!

After a serum. If you find that you’re just fine without a moisturizer, it’s still good to use a hydrating product because adding more water to your skin will help it be able to absorb your oils better and the consistency of a good serum is perfect for helping you achieve the coverage you’re looking for with our Minerals Multi-Purpose Foundation.

Try a setting powder. For people with oily skin that can be difficult to maintain throughout the day, a setting powder helps to reduce the shine and help foundation last longer.

Do you have oily skin? Let us know how you use our Minerals below!

The following post The Best Foundation For Oily Skin: Minerals Multi-Purpose Foundation was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Choose Your Stress Response

Choose your stress responseby Aviva Romm, MD

You’re probably familiar with the term fight-or-flight. It’s the system of survival responses that automatically kicks in when we’re exposed to a threat. Your heart races, your breathing gets shallow, and you become hyperaware of everything that’s going on around you, your brain scanning for danger, our body waiting to run or pounce. On an evolutionary scale, this is meant to be a short-lived reaction that occurs, say, when you’re running away from a predatory.

What you might not realize is that it’s the same response your brain and body kick into when you’re under chronic stress and overload. In fact a lot of us spend a lot of time in chronic overload, going from one mini-crisis to the next, one never ending to do list item to another, with too little time for rest and repair. We keep up, we push though with coffee, sugar, or other habits, and we try to adapt to the demands of our lives.

There’s some bad news here: over time, we pay the price with our health. Being in chronic survival mode can lead to serious chronic symptoms such as fatigue, poor sleep, stubborn weigh (especially muffin tops and belly fat), poor focus, memory, or work accomplished (“brain fog”), and hormonal imbalances, as well chronic medical problems including metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and autoimmune conditions (for example, Hashimoto’s).

The good news is that the fight or flight mode is not the only one we can use to respond to stress. With a little practice, you can use these techniques to consciously shift your body’s stress response instead into a state that’s calm, secure, and replenished.


We aren’t meant to spend most of our time in overdrive. Part of life necessarily involves replenishing ourselves by getting into a parasympathetic response — what you experience when you nap, get a massage, or lie in shavasana at the end of yoga. This restorative mode helps us recover from the wear and tear of daily life and times of stress.

The problem is that most of us don’t take time to hit the pause button, because we think we can’t — or shouldn’t. But intentionally taking time to recuperate after an unexpected stressful event will lessen its effects. Better yet, we should regularly build this time into our schedules.

Here are a few other ways to shift into “rest and digest” that you can try anytime:

  • Breathe slowly and deeply for three minutes before you jump out of bed in the morning, and before sleep at night.
  • Spend 30 minutes a day in nature.
  • Take a relaxing hot bath in the evening.
  • Attend a yoga class.


There’s a physiological reason it feels so good to call a friend when you’re feeling anxious or down. UCLA researcher Shelley Taylor, PhD, has identified this as the “tend and befriend” stress response.

Along with adrenaline and cortisol, the body produces a small amount of oxytocin in response to a threat. Sometimes called “the cuddle hormone,” oxytocin triggers us to bond with others, which helps us feel safe and settle down.

Shifting into this mode isn’t hard:

  • Do something social — anything that allows you to bond with others. You don’t need to discuss problems to get the benefit of social bonding.
  • Connect with a good friend on the phone or take a walk and talk it out. Studies show that verbalizing our concerns automatically turns off the sympathetic nervous system.


You don’t have to shut down when you feel pressure. It’s possible to open up and use the energy of stress to become more interested in what’s going on. This is called the “excite and delight” response. Because it also involves cortisol and adrenaline, you feel the same level of alertness and awareness as you do in fight or flight. But rather than narrowing your focus, you choose to open up, to be curious.

Marilee Adams, PhD, calls this a “learner mindset.” If you adopt a learner mindset, a challenging situation can become an opportunity to learn or experience something new. If you’re ill, for example, you can view your symptoms as a chance to listen to your body instead of as signs of your demise. Or if someone is being aggressive toward you, you could ask yourself what’s going on with that person, rather than reacting defensively. This might lead to compassion instead of more anger. Curiosity expands your options for how to solve problems — and often resolves them more quickly and easily.

Asking yourself these questions can help you shift into excite-and-delight mode:

  • What’s really happening here?
  • What else might be going on that I’m not seeing?
  • What’s interesting about this situation?

Too often we assume that how we’re “wired” to respond to stress is just “who we are.” But you can actually rewire your brain and with it not only your stress response, but your happiness, success, health, and longevity. You can respond differently to stress, and in this holiday season, and facing the New Year, now’s a great time to start.

About Dr. Aviva Romm

Referred to as “the face of natural medicine in the 21st century” by Prevention Magazine and one of the 100 Women to Watch in Wellness by Mind Body Green, and founding board member of Yale Integrative Medicine, Aviva Romm is a Yale-trained, board-certified MD, midwife, and herbalist with a specialty in women’s health. Her new book, The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution provides a groundbreaking blueprint for women to take back their health by understanding the Root Causes of imbalance.

Click Here to Get Aviva Romm’s new book The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution.

Do you have a great way to deal with life stressors? Let us know in the comment below. 

The following post Choose Your Stress Response was first published on Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.