Category: beauty and ethics

Paula’s Choice

There’s been a spate of PC stuff on MUA of late. There is some suspicion that this is a foray by said company into Social Media for the purposes of drumming up Word On The Street, Buzz, and eventually sales. Whether by company employees, or by loyal fans, or by paid social media professionals, or out of work actors. This is not a new or unusual marketeering tactic.

I’m neutral on much of this. I first bought Paula’s Choice products over a decade ago, at which time they were a godsend because it was hard to find cruelty-free fragrance-free basic bland functional skin stuff in the USA. (Being where I was at the time.) They kept costs down by being online-only, saving on storefront and staffing costs, and indeed loss of profits if selling through distributors in other shops. Their customer service was impeccable. They gave away decent-sized samples with every order, which you could choose; and they also sold sample-to-travel sizes of products; both of which allowed to you try stuff out before committing to full sizes. Otherwise I was stuck with importing stuff whenever back in Europe. And with what little I could find in drugstores, health-food stores, etc. that was appropriate to my skin. Then PC changed and got all fancy.   Continue reading

short hair

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Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Photo: Getty
Natalie Portman with a shaved head. Photo: Getty

The “manosphere” really hates short-haired girls. On “game” forums and in personal dating manifestos, the wickedness of short-haired women pops up time and time again as theme and warning – stay away from girls who’ve had their hair chopped off. They’re crazy, they’re deliberately destroying their femininity to “punish” men, but the last laugh will be on them, because the bitches will die alone. Yes, there are people who really believe this. In 2014.

This week, a writer going by the handle Tuthmosis put out a short article explaining why “Girls With Short Hair are Damaged”. The piece has now received over 200,000 interactions on Facebook, so I’m not going to link to it again here. If you scrape through the layers of trolling, though, Tuthmosis’ logical basis for declaring short-haired women “damaged” is pretty interesting.

He writes that long hair is “almost universally attractive to men, when they’re actually speaking honestly. . . Women instinctively know this, which is why every American girl who cuts, and keeps, her hair short often does it for ulterior reasons . . . Short hair is a political statement. And, invariably, a girl who has gone through with a short cut – and is pleased with the changes in her reception – is damaged in some significant way. Short hair is a near-guarantee that a girl will be more abrasive, more masculine, and more deranged.”

The essential argument is: men like long hair, and what sane woman would ever want to do anything that decreases her capacity to please men?

The advantage of articles like this, pantomimic though they be, is that they make misogyny legible. There was a time when feminists had to do that all by ourselves, but now we don’t have to point out the underlying assumptions of a lot of the bullshit we deal with every day, because there are people on the internet doing it for us.

So I’m almost grateful to Tuthmosis for writing this particular piece of recreational sexist linkbait. I thought I’d never have an even passably good reason to write about how little things like short hair change the way patriarchy responds to you.

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“The Whole Foods Banned Ingredient List is Wholly Flawed”

From Chemists’ Corner (2013-12-04) c/o “Beauty science news of the week,” The Beauty Brains (2013-12-15). Just looking at betaines, but that’s already an impressive start. The rest of the list: Whole Foods Market – Quality Standards: Unacceptable Ingredients to Premium Body Care (2013-09-30).

Your truly indulged herself in some previous griping regarding an earlier list: “Whole Foods and green-washing” (2011-08-23). And then there was “F-” (2013-04-02). She’s had plenty occasion to grumble about the place. But still shops there, as W(t)F sells some useful basics that would cost more and be less eco-friendly to order online from across the border. And they have some nice people working there (also some dangerous nutters, but that’s an anthology’s-worth of Whole other stories), and seem to provide a pleasant safe employment-haven for the hipper end of the social Spectrum Organics™.

Foal Hoods

Foal Hoods


Re. yesterday’s post, here’s a prime example of misreading… or, as I think may have happened here, not reading at all. Certainly not thinking.

The result is #accidentalinappropriatejuxtapositionoftheweek

Think before you post.

Or am I wrong? Am I the one misreading and not thinking here? Are V******’s comments in fact duly and dutifully considered thoughts in response to the post below them on affluenza? Hmmm. That would be a lot more worrying…

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(Pseudonym of the other individual disguised, no links back to original source, assuring protection of the innocent / eejits, etc.)

More on “affluenza” doubtless over the next few days, in the news; it’s already being used as a joke (a defence for silly ridiculous things; -fluenza base for constructing other syndromes), and may attain status to other internet-driven memes / human caricatures and new stock comedy figures with social, political, and ethical impact: e. gg. tiger mom, bridezilla. Interesting times.


“enjoy responsibly”

  • New addition to trollwatch: “eleoptene”
  • And something between a playful LULZing troll and a crusading anti-troll: “recurringtrollouter”
  • Images don’t link anywhere: those familiar with the source-site will recognize it; others probably won’t. All pseudonyms have been censored, except my own and those of trolls

Some material of interest for anyone out there being trolled / bullied online: have a look at the bully-trolls’ strategies, especially their perverse use of terms like “bully” against the very people they themselves are attacking. No, that’s not “irony”: it’s malicious, destructive nastiness.

Look also at what trolls accuse others of, and how:

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DIY deodorant

Three classic base recipes, tested out by “Review: Three Homemade Deodorant Recioes”, GNOWFGLINS: Raise, save and prep God’s natural, organic, whole foods, grown locally, in season (2013-08)

Another sorta-meta-approach: “All Roads Lead To The Pits: Homemade Deodorant”, Crunchy Betty (2010-09)

Sources for the first and simplest classic recipe, which may be found all over the interverse, and looks like the basis to many a deodorant sold by Etsy people, people on market-stalls, other indie etailers, etc.:

This is the most basic recipe: coconut oil, baking soda / bicarbonate of soda, arrowroot or cornstarch powder (and optional useful bactericidal fungicidal essential oil, e.g. tea tree).

The blog is one that’s full of sensible stuff; I am an avowed atheist but happy to reference, link, and support blogs of a religious persuasion if (as here) they also encourage being a good person and support old-fashioned practical stuff, common sense, and generally say and do the kinds of things my granny would have done.

blog post of the week

(OK, originally posted a year ago. But still.) This came to my attention through a link via another link on a discussion board. It’s nice. No, it’s excellent. Well-written, wise, witty, to the point, and true. I agree with everything here, even though my own buying and deploying decisions have differed.

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Oh no! Who Put ‘Sad’ and ‘Guilt’ In My Lotion?” Stuff I Put On Myself (2012-10-09)

[...] I get questions about this stuff all the time…  variations of which chemicals to avoid, how to avoid animal testing, how to find natural products, blah blah blah.  People really want to pick the right thing, so it does what they need AND doesn’t cause them guilt and/or anxiety about poisoning/abusing themselves or animals or the whole planet.

I am going to preface this by saying that my feelings on these topics aren’t going to be popular.  That’s fine!  We can all think different things and still be pals!

I’ve read a lot about cosmetic industry standards, terminology and what you have to do to be allowed to use certain terminology, and I am married to a chemical engineer who will always spend 45 minutes explaining the minutia of any little question you ask about chemicals, and also will go all Mr. Wizard on you and lay it down if you slip up and say some buzzword that is essentially bullshit marketing.  Dude can even tell you what’s in the tanker truck by looking at the little number on the back.

Unfortunately, much like with everything else in the world, it is sobering and depressing to actually know what’s up.

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“Cyber self-harm: why do people troll themselves online?”

Article by Denise Winterman, BBC News (2013-12-03). Excerpts follow below. They may sound familiar. They certainly sounded familiar to me; while we’ve all seen quite enough regular trolling, and trolling of all shapes and sizes and shades—including the good, virtuous, angrily sincere—this is a different, darker side that I’d never thought of. It does make me wonder, though, how far cyber self-harm extends. The BBC item below refers specifically to teenagers and teen issues.

But those of us who spend a lot of time online see these issues frequently and not only in teens. These issues continue into later life: adults, too, may be emotionally damaged, scarred, suffer low self-esteem. Especially, all too often, women. Continue reading

animal testing: good news

[...] announcement by China’s Food & Drug Administration that from June 2014, China plans to remove its mandatory animal test requirements for domestically manufactured cosmetic products. For the first time ever, Chinese companies producing “non-special use cosmetics” such as shampoo or perfume will have the option to substantiate product safety using existing safety data for raw ingredients, or European Union-validated non-animal tests instead of having to submit product samples to the government for testing on rabbits, mice and rats.

China to phase out mandatory cosmetics animal testing
Human Society International, 2013-11-07

See also:

To celebrate, here is three minutes’ worth of happy bouncing “binking” bunny, accompanied by appropriate uplifting triumphant music:

And a classic happy bunny-themed Christmas message from the RSPCA:

shea butter: some sources

fair trade organic nilotica shea butter, from Tahoe Mountain Soap Company

not to be confused with vanilla ice-cream

Selection criteria:

  • fair trade:
    be that by one of the formal certifying bodies, or through other equivalent equitable trade
  • preferably from women’s co-operatives

See previously and lengthily: