long time no see…

Life here in Vancouver continues. There has been the bad: heavy workload, work stress, and recent events in the outside world; that is, The Big Bad World that lies beyond my work-place, and indeed Vancouver, and well beyond the little bubble of pulchritudinous morosophy, such as the world of MakeupAlley. Some of the Bad Shit Going Down made me stop reading MUA altogether, because I just wanted to shake and spank MUAers for being vapid vacuous ****s.

“Spanking,” metaphorically-speaking–obviously one can’t actually go around and physically personally assault every irritating individual–and besides, however bad Things get, I absolutely must remain anti-violence. Also, it would be impossible in practice. Metaphorical spanking means expressing anger and home truths, calling a foolish spade a foolish spade. But I would be kidding myself if I thought for a minute that’s not violent too: it can hurt people. Like it or lump it, one’s own intentions are partly a selfish urge to express anger: to expel it from oneself, get it off you, no matter what the consequences are, not caring if anyone else is affected. That’s selfish. It’s uncaring: no care for others, and I think that I (and we all) have a duty of care towards others. It’s unthinking and reckless, not giving any consideration to consequences and to other people. All of these things make metaphorical spanking Bad, Immoral, and Unethical. So it is a thing that one should not do.

Also, in the online version, it’s one of the classic forms of trolling. It may start out as sincere trolling, but damn it, it’s still trolling and there’s the additional danger that one might get Into It. Keep doing it for the sake of doing it. Become more involved with goading other people and interested in their reactions (thus also: less angry, losing that original raging serious edge), invested in trolling itself (rather than one’s message). It could be enjoyable and addictive. As with certain very heavy and very illegal drugs, it may be a cowardly move, but better not to start at all… You all know my relationship with chocolate. I could be one of those addictive-personality types, I’d rather not risk finding out the hard way.

Furthermore, saying mean things to other people is mean. No matter what your intentions are, and no matter they have said and done. And meanness is something to be avoided. (Critical comment is different, but if and only if it is constructive and with the intention of opening, engaging, and continuing conversation.) Just like it’s wrong to murder satirical cartoonists. And that is all, on here anyway, that I’m going to say about that recent event in The Big Bad World outside.

And finally: it’s actually really nice and good to see everyday life continue, in its simple and often sweet way. One of the finest things about the online beautyverse, including fora like MakeupAlley, is that simplicity, continuity, and humanity. It’s peaceful. That peace is precious. Vapid and vacuous can be–usually is–wonderful.

On MakeupAlley, I often don’t have anything to contribute for good reasons (besides sitting back and enjoying normal human peaceful interactions). It’s great to just read what other people say, instead of blabbering on yourself. Sometimes I have nothing to say because the conversation is about something I know little or nothing about, and on which I have no personal experience: I can listen and learn. Sometimes I could say something useful, but by the time I read a thread–several hours later, or a day, or a week, or even longer–the moment has passed, and nearly every time someone else has said exactly what I would have said. Often better and in fewer words. Silence can be positive.

So I’m more at peace with myself, and the world, and the online world; however godawful yoga-selfie-Vancouverite that sounds.

There has also, as ever, been The Good of living in Vancouver and the happy positive uplifting aspects of my work. As ever, I don’t want to talk about work-stuff on here–I prefer to keep it and at identity separate, also it’s not really that relevant. It’s nice to have other places to talk about other things, relaxing, and helping to maintain perspective. Life in Vancouver is always brilliant, and the non-work stuff helps: simple things like going out the door and enjoying a pleasant walk in woods or along the beach, these too help with perspective, mood, thanking one’s lucky stars for the good things one has in life, going “OMG isn’t life brilliant!” at least once a day, and other aspects of basic good mental health and hygiene. Even if, as recently, it can be very foggy for days on end and it looks like our lovely mountains have disappeared.

So what’s up on the Products front?

Well, there’s been some Perspective in action. Much as I would like to be using all-squeaky-clean/ethically-perfect stuff, as you know I’m also deeply suspicious of a lot of the greenwashing around, with the worst offenders sadly including some of the greenest-looking indies. As a feminist and a human being / an intelligent sentient being, I’m unhappy about ethically-bad marketeering: abusing customers, playing emotional blackmail games with them, preying on their insecurities, patronising them, depending on their ignorance (often with company ignorance too), and being anti-science. As an anti-consumerist environmentalist, I dislike waste, superfluity, unnecessary products, cosmetic pseudo-improvements (I’m particularly thinking mascara here), and all things fashion and fad.

I’m also somewhere between concerned and more-distantly-interested in what is happening in and with our next-door neighbours, China. Especially as concerns rights: those of humans, animals, and ecosystem and planet. I’ve been very interested to watch from afar what’s been going on in negotiations and delicate diplomacy at assorted levels, including by companies in the cosmetics sector.

My current conclusions have also been affected by what I can and can’t use, given skin and other health conditions. Basically I will continue to try to use the most ethical option available, but there are limits. There already were limits in place for non-cosmetic products.

The limit I’m adding is a conservative (small “c”) one: not wasting money trying out new stuff, resisting temptations to buy more stuff, sticking where possible to products that I have tried and tested and that have withstood the test of time. Most of those I mean have been on the market for quite a long time, are purely cosmetic (not medical) products from companies that did not test them on animals at the time of development, and as both factors are from before the China business, there is a very low probability of their being tested by the Chinese authorities. (Please note, for the record, that it has never been the case that all foreign products sold on the Chinese market had to be tested in China, nor that that testing had to be on animals; this was even the case for those products with a higher probability-to-certainty of being tested, because they were new products and/or concepts/designs/formulations.)

So this is a kind of personal Fixed Cut-Off Date of R&D having taken place (and, ideally, first formal public appearance on the marketplace) before March 2012.

I’m more open that I was in the last three years to buying from companies like the Estee Lauder group, because they are trying to deal, in intelligent and complicated ways, with a complicated ethical and political situation. They (and certain other companies, like L’Oréal) ae investing time, money, people, and brain-power in dealing with the Chinese government, authorities, and whole idea-systems. Dealing with China actively, proactively, and interactively. Building research labs in China and working with people there on testing techniques. Developing techniques and processes that are satisfactory to all parties. Engaging in diplomacy, on negotation at every level from individual lab technicians and scientists to corporate and government representatives. There’s a lot of discussion and education going on, hopefully on all sides: on cultural difference, tolerance, and mutual respect and understanding.

These things are many, and complicated, and will take time. It is very easy–too easy–for us Western consumers to dictate quick-fix solutions from the comfort of our armchairs. To order something else from someone else, online, from our armchairs. To make grand claims about total boycots, and sign pledges, and comment on blogs, and wave virtual fists around… online, whilst in our armchairs.

I would like think that I am intelligent enough to appreciate that this is a complicated situation. It is not simple or easy. There are no simple and easy solutions. People–experts, professionals–working on the ground, in difficult (and sometimes dangerous) circumstances, in conditions that we armchair-bound Western consumers can barely start to imagine? They deserve some respect and understanding, and space, and time. So I’ve moved from a more black-and-white and static position to a more grey and flexible one; not any old flexibility, but a position permitting subtlety, elasticity, and movement. Above all, a position that allows discussion and the continuation of negotiation.

A more fluid position permits me, in practical terms, to continue to write to certain companies (trolling them, if you will, but very nicely and politely) about their problematic position vis à vis the Chinese market and authorities, and reminding them about this little old thing called Ethics. I would not be able to do this if I were simply attacking them for being evil.

And whenever I buy something from a “dodgier” company–even if it is a product that I know has never been tested on animals previously, and has a low risk of being tested now because it’s old–I make a charitable donation of the same sum of money to the BUAV.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. There’s been a lot of stone-throwing. Often wanton and willy-nilly. I do not know the stone-throwers personally, nor their whole histories as consumers, and am in no position to comment on their sinlessness. I am with sin. I will cast no stones. I also happen to dislike aggression and violence, so I guess my sinning gives me extra reason to avoid throwing stones.

DODGIER-BUT-OLDER THINGS I’M USING OR HAVE USED IN THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS

Clinique
Naturally Glossy Mascara
Lash Power Mascara

—because they are great and good, and formulated before my FCOD; I have issues with mascara, and sometimes other ones either irritate somewhat or flake off horribly or, in the case of Bobbi Brown, both.

Bobbi Brown
Tinted eye brightener in Porcelain Bisque I
Long-lasting cream eye shadow in Bone (most of the time, the brightener is really the main thing)

—I need decent neutral eye stuff for work (for the presentational part of it), it has to be stuff that is the right colour for me, does not irritate my eyes, doesn’t come off onto my glasses or into my eyes, brightens a little but subtly (this is where my earlier solution of Silk Naturals concealers and so on failed), isn’t so wet it never dries but smudges, isn’t so dry it dries out the skin around my eyes, is reliable and dependable, and fast and easy to apply in the morning.

Yes, that is fussy. I’ve tested out lots of attempted solutions, this one works, and I propose to continue using it until it stops working or is discontinued, at which time I will then search for a replacement.

I didn’t like the Tinted eye brightener at one point, as I thought it was irritating eyes; but so as to ascertain the source of the irritation (or at least, to reduce the number of possibilities) I tested it with the Bobbi Brown mascara I was using (the long-lasting tubing one) on one eye, and with the totally 100% harmless (on me) Clinique Naturally Glossy mascara on the other. The irritation was from the Bobbi Brown mascara, and not from the eye brightener. So I ditched that mascara and kept the eye brightener.

Aveda
Smooth Infusion hair stuff:
shampoo, conditioner, style prep

—makes life easier and faster in the morning, applies so easily it saves me time and (environmentally-importantly) water in the morning, and some of the few scented things I can use without allergy but with enhanced mood-lifting. Which is vital at 6 a.m.

VIRTUOUS THINGS

Herban Luxe
vegan waterproof mascara

—I can’t always wear it, but it is my main waterproof mascara and super-squeaky-clean on all my own ethical boxes. From Etsy.

Garden of Wisdom
Oat serum

—marvellous moisturising stuff, using it mixed with Aubrey aloe vera juice and Garden of Wisdom witch-hazel hydrosol (2:1:1), on damp skin, before moisturiser

Garden of Wisdom
Majik eye cream with CoQ10 (and peptides and all sorts of other stuff)

—eye cream, testing stages. No irritation, skin feels moist, doesn’t impede makeup, if it does migrate into eyes I’ve not noticed (ex. at night)

Silk Naturals
HD cream foundation, in C10

—finally, a foundation. After years. Decades. A search that has continued across two centuries and indeed that started in the previous millennium.
Not needed often, but if being videoed (work) it makes a difference. This stuff is the right colour, feels like nothing on skin, not greasy or drying, no irritation, easy to apply (even just with fingertips), great stuff. The little flat plastic containers actually work out slightly cheaper (when I got the stuff anyway) than the stick, and are more convenient to use. If you’ve liked SN’s colour range and general colour-working skills, but have found their mineral powder foundation too dry/-ing, give this stuff a try. (Oilier breakouty skin, sorry, I can’t help; not my skin, not something that’s relevant to it, over to you and tour own testing.)

+ stuff I’ve used for ages, like oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, Badger unscented balm, Silk Naturals lippies, Primal Pit Paste unscented deodorant, Vanicream mineral SPF 50.

+ another older one: In colder weather in December, I’d used Weleda Weather balm on any dry patches or areas prone to dryness. I also used it around the eyes, and that was good: the only thing is that it is slightly scented, but just I think calendula and chamomile. Fine on my skin. Oils, waxes, lanolin (so not veggie; discussed previously on this blog). Given the Weleda unscented ointment that used to be a bit like an unscented version of it has either been discontinued or reformulated as some homeopathic nonsense with St John’s Wort, this is the nearest remaining approximation. Great for very dry skin around the eyes, including eczema outbreaks (I also use plain beeswax and, in dire straights, Vaseline or equivalent).

The bad: I cannot use shea butter, even the refined sort, any longer on most skin. It’s still OK on lips. Any friends (that is, real live ones such as here in Vancouver) who would appreciate some, let me know next time we’re seeing each other… I have most of a huge tin from L’Occitane… UPDATE 2015-01-30: nope, shea butter is fine on lips and around eyes: sorry, I’m keeping that tin!

[I may add images and links above at some point. Or another post. For now, back to weekend stuff: my allocated Folly-Praising time having come to and end. Happy afternoon, evening, and Monday to all!]

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