Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eco Beauty: Nail Polish and Remover

Nail polish is an amazing beauty product. I justify having every color, maybe two of some, because I paint nails on set, but to be honest, I'm selfish and I like to save my favorites for myself. It's one of the first beauty products I was introduced to as a young girl at slumber parties and on special occasions. 

Adorning our nails has been customary for hundreds of years beginning with ancient Egyptians dying their nails with henna, and as of recently it's been getting bolder with nail art becoming mainstream. Check out my Pinterest nail art album to see what I mean.
Galaxy nail art, image from
But what is in nail polish is concerning for many of us. Nail polish, nail treatments and polish remover formulas have changed a great deal from their original natural formats to one of the most toxic beauty products we use. While plenty of brands have switched their formulas to omit some dangerous chemicals, you can still readily pick up a polish containing toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate (DBP). These noxious ingredients are linked to cancer, birth defects, asthma, other breathing problems and are aggravating to allergy sufferers. Did you know nail polish with these ingredients are supposed to be disposed of by the city's hazardous waste collection department along with house paint and batteries? 

These chemicals may not be a concern for you personally. If you're in good health, not pregnant, and allergy-free you may decide the risk of harm is low. Others with more serious health concerns, with children in the home or who work with these chemicals on a daily basis may already be using one of the readily accessible 'three free' (that means no toluene, formaldehyde, or DBP) brands. Whatever your situation, it's advisable to do your nails in a well-ventilated room so you can avoid the nasty fumes.
Rose nail art with Essie, a Three-Free brand. Image from:

Salons and drugstores usually stock three free brands so you should never have a shortage of color selection. Some three free options to look for; American Apparel, MACNarsbutter London,  ZoyaHard Candy, EssieSally Hansen and most of the OPI color collections (flip the bottle over to see if the name sticker is black or green. The green is, you guessed it, three free). This is just a selection, so double check your favorite brand formula label if it's not here. 
OPI retro nails, image from

Three free brands still advertise this even if they contain formaldehyde or toluene resin, so be sure to check the ingredients if you're concerned. Brands that have taken healthier polish a step further by removing camphor and the two resins include Deborah LippmannDashing Divaand ChanelFor pregnant women, people with allergies, young children or cancer patients, you may feel more comfortable playing it even safer with brands designed for you such as Knocked Up NailsSpaRituals, or Priti NYC (also camphor and resin free). You'll still get great quality and a ton of fun colors to choose from. Or skip the polish and try nail stickers or simply buffing your nails.  

Priti NYC Soy Polish Remover and Knocked Up Nails Polish in 'Mint Chip at Midnight' and '18k Gold Crown(ing)' See, there are still safer, cool colored polishes out there!

If you're concerned about your polish ingredients, I would encourage you to look into your polish remover you use as well.  Ingredients to avoid include methanol, acetone, and petroleum. Priti Soy Nail Polish remover is my favorite polish remover. It's very effective, contains non-carcinogenic, non-toxic ingredients and it has a fabulous lemon grass aroma. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Inspiration: Album Art

It's not just pop stars wearing heavy makeup in videos and on their album covers. From punks to heavy rockers to androgynous females to legendary eighties performers, makeup helps musicians transform into a character, and entertain. Many of these album covers are so well known their concepts have been used as Halloween costumes, magazine editorials or by other musicians. David Bowie's Aladdin Sane is a perfect example.

Recreate the looks with bold lip colors, false lashes or heavy cream shadows. If rock and roll makeup is too dramatic for you, how about album covers as nail art? Or just check out the worst album covers ever here.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Inspiration: Alex Box

                         Alex Box is a visual artist who's medium of choice is the human face. Simply calling her a makeup artist does not seem like enough of a description for her work. Her innovative use of texture, color and development of character sets her apart from many others in her field. Models take note: Alex makes it clear that she chooses to work with models who are excited about the process and who really transform into the character she is creating.

In 2009, Rankin and Alex collaborated in a book titled 'Alex Box' full of many more inspirational images of her work that show makeup artistry from an artist point of view.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Inspiration: Color Blocking in Makeup

Color blocking in makeup is fun and bold, and gives us a lot of opportunity to break away from the neutral shades we often fall into using over and over. It's been around awhile, color blocking was seen at Christian Dior Fall 2010 to name just one place and it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Currently, it's the biggest trend for nails this season.

Looking forward to spring 2012, color blocking for nails has new variations taking the spotlight, like the gradation color block seen at Jen Kao Spring/Summer 2012.

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs has been painting bold blocks of color on her stage face since she started performing. More recently she got a whole class of students and professional dancers into makeup. Check out the video "Bizness"

Lindsey Degan's spring/summer collection at New York Fashion Week showcased some cheerful, youthful color blocking.

Here's a more wearable color blocking example from the Faster by Mark Fast presentation. The lilac eye shadow color is taken up from the lash line to the brow bone. The color is sheer so it's not too dramatic, but pretty. Match up this eye with a neutral gloss for an everyday look.

And if you're feeling bold, try it on your lips. Choose a shade or two darker for the center of the bottom lip or for more drama choose a different hue all together, as seen below, one lip pink and one orange.

Ebony, tan and chocolate skin tones and can pull off color blocking with ease! Colors are often more flattering to these skin tones than neutrals. Rihanna is frequently seen sporting bold jewel tones and bright reds and pinks in various combinations. Porcelain skin types may benefit from matching your color blocking to your skin undertone. If you're more olive, go for warmer colours like burnt orange, gold, hot pink, spring greens. Cool skin types look stunning with cobalt blue, plum and silvers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Portfolio: Lindsay

I love summer and I always feel a little depressed when it starts getting cooler out. I want to look back to a very summery outdoor shoot in Bushwick in July. Lindsay of MSA Models. Yes, we were being severely attacked by mosquitos, and yes, it was extremely hot in the sun, but against the elements, Redner Salonga still got some pretty photos.

Monday, October 3, 2011

On Set: Jian

A little while back Redner Salonga was inspired to do a Japan tribute with Jian Yee of Colby Models. It was a big transformation for Jian, he's a quiet, shy guy and we really pushed him to take on a new character for the shoot. He did an amazing job and we were all happy with the dramatic outcome.