13 February 2008

Bare Chemicals

Bare Minerals offers a range of foundations, in the form of powders, based only on minerals, free of preservatives, talc, oil and fragrance which is genuinely an achievement, as even organic make-up brands like Sante and Couleur Caramel can't get there - they both contain talc and fragrance in their compact powder range.
The minerals used are the ones you find in most of existing foundations and tinted creams: mostly iron oxydes (like CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), zinc (CI 77947, CI 77950) and mica (CI 77019) except that they make in the case of Bare Minerals the only ingredients in the composition and the core of their marketing communication.
Yet, when you make the step to buy the product, you're strongly advised if not enticed to buy a kit that will contain on top of the powder you're looking to get, a cream base, an extra shade of the foundation, a terracotta, a translucent finishing touch powder, 3 different brushes and a how-to DVD. If you buy only the powder it costs you 22€, add one of the brushes and it's another 22€ but if you buy the kit, it's 65€ - it's difficult to argue. You can use only the foundation of course, but the guide mentions that perfect make-up is achieved when you follow all the steps: the base, the foundation, the terracotta, the final touch (the "Mineral Veil"). Each of the 3 brushes has a purpose in that process, that turns out to be quite fun to go through. I also appreciate that it doesn't feel like the other heavy and sticky foundations that grim your face and that I avoided using, going rather for the lighter sensation of tinted moisturizers.
But out of the kit, I'm leaving out for sure the base, that strangely the company avoids to mention in their chemicals-free discourse, even though it will "smooth your skin's surface prior to the foundation application".
In this base, you'll find PPG-14 Butyl ether (chemical emulsifier bad for the environment), Methyl Gluceth-20, Cetyl Dimethicone (very bad for the environment), Peg-100 Stereate, Diazolidinyl Urea (a highly toxic preservative releasing formaldehyde), Tetrasodium EDTA (toxic and polluting preservative), Propylene Glycol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben (controversial preservatives), Phenoxyethanol (controversial ether glycol). Incidentally, their powder "Mineral Veil" also contains Methylparaben and Propylparaben.
I find it a pity that Bare Minerals spoil their credibility by carrying these products and by avoiding to address their compositions in their perfect marketing plan.
In the current market of cosmetics, it's a perfect example of the confused discourses that surround us . It's not an organic brand but they use "bare minerals", it's "bare minerals" but 2 of their main products bear chemicals. It reminds me of the situation The Body Shop is in, or L'Occitane. And now L'Oréal just bought Sanoflore, so I think we're heading for even more confusion. The more popular organic ingredients will be getting, the more we'll be facing such contradictions. All the better reason to read carefully the notice on the packaging. "La vérité sur les cosmétiques" (the truth about cosmetics) was one of the 1st books to list, explain and range all the ingredients that can come into the composition of cosmetics. It's followed now by "La vérité sur les cosmétiques naturels" (the truth about natural cosmetics), which shows a public concern about being able to make better choices as the organic market expands.


10 February 2008

Are we dumb!

The Story of Stuff is a wonderful 20 minutes animation movie about the chain of links behind our modes of production and consumption, and its impact on the environment. It explains clearly some economic and marketing concepts, like "externalized costs", "planned obsolescence" and "perceived obsolescence", that keep this chain going by way of our gullibility and our self-depreciation.
Every time I buy something, even if it costs 50 cents, I wonder who I buy it from, where it was made, at what costs, if I really need it, why I buy it, for how long I will use it and how I will dispose of it. Some times, I do buy things on a whim, or because I do need to feel better about myself for few minutes and it's easy to do so with shopping or just because it's fun. But I try to always question my purchases and never take them for granted. It brings a stronger awareness each time, and eventually I get to ask the same questions to the people I buy the stuff from, even if they don't have the answer - at least, it puts me back in the active part of the chain - where I can consciously exert my "consumption power".
I like the idea of buying second hand goods, of recycling jam pots for my cooking spices and herbs, of giving, lending and borrowing books, of renting DVDs, of downloading music, of sending ecards, of looking for unique handmade crafts around the world, of not caring to get the latest plasma screen (or any TV for that matter) and of staying away as much as possible from plastic, processed food, waste-generating products and chain stores / major brands items. It's not always easy, but it's actually a lot of fun because I get to play around with my habits, my temptations and my imagination.
I read an interview of Starck today in Le Monde where he addresses harsh criticism against [product] design and defines it as "useless". I don't think we should understand that point in a very literal way but I agree with him when he says "We don't need more. We need less and better." It's probably one of the greatest task designers will ever have to undertake. We have so much already, how do we think creation, production and use when we don't need more and we shouldn't make more?


01 February 2008


I love this video that Jonah sent me. This improv group reminds of me the excellent Prangstgrüp already mentioned in that blog.