En Vogue…. In Vogue??

Some generous soul mistakenly sent me a Vogue magazine. It’s never been one of my go-to periodicals – I usually opt for Real Simple or Texas Monthly on those rare occasions I have time to sit and flip through the pages. Anyway, fashionista I am not. Ads like this don’t really speak to me. 

Why would I want to buy your clothes/accessories? Y’all look kinda miserable! And you dragged a poor calf onto your boat and who is the captain and why all the gasoline tanks errywhere and for goodness’ sake your $$$$ purse is getting wet! Do you even care?!

At least the models are smiling in this one, but still: I ain’t buying what you’re selling.

Now that I’m all kinds of hyper-aware about what ingredients are going into our products, I found this ad rather interesting:

Page 1:blah blah Natalie Portman you’re gorgeous blah blah sure I’d like skin like yours blah blah OH FANCY! “with skin-caring hydration**” – that sounds… caring! What do those asterisks mean? Kinda REALLY hard to read the shimmery shirt and mirror overlaid by white print, but some of what it says is:

“Dior Forever: The new 24 Hour* wear foundation” (fine print: “*instrument test on 20 women” TWENTY?! My lame high school science experiments and even worse college research projects had more subjects than 20! I’d just take a guess that if I wore this for 24 hours straight my skin would hate me.)

“For the 1st time, longwear full protection with skin-caring hydration**” (“fine print: **at Dior, hydration measured by instrument test, 20 women, Dior Forever Skin Glow.” Ok, you’re just making up things at this point. I need more info, please.)

And the second page:

  • “97% of women who tested it love and recommended Dior Forever***
  • 97% of women who tested it attest to Dior Forever’s longwear result***
  • 98% of women who tested it affirm that Dior Forever improves complexion quality***”

For goodness’ sake, what does *** mean? The fine print: “*** test on 66 women, after 1 week of use, on Dior Forever / “Love” refers to satisfaction level.”

Ok whatever that’s a stretch to define love like that, but let’s go to dior.com to get the ingredients of this foundation that’s caring and will make me look like Natalie Portman:


I’ll just take four of these because my eyes are glazing over. I’ve cross-referenced these four ingredients with Beautycounter’s Never List and have added Beautycounter’s comments for each ingredient.

  1. TETRASODIUM EDTA = Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) is achelating (binding) agent added to cosmetics to improve stability. May be toxic to organs.
  2. METHYL TRIMETHICONE = (paraben) A class of preservatives commonly used to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Parabens are endocrine (or hormone) disruptors, which may alter important hormone mechanisms in our bodies.
  3. PEG-9 POLYDIMETHYLSILOXYETHYL DIMETHICONE = PEGs are widely used in cosmetics as thickeners, solvents, softeners, and moisture-carriers. Depending on manufacturing processes, PEGs may be contaminated with measurable amounts of ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, which are both carcinogens.
  4. PARFUM (FRAGRANCE) = An engineered scent or flavoring agent that may contain any combination of 3,000-plus stock chemical ingredients, including hormone disruptors and allergens. Fragrance formulas are protected under federal law’s classification of trade secrets and therefore can remain undisclosed. Found in: all types of cosmetics.

You do you – you go buy the Dior foundation and look all cute like Natalie Portman and more power to you. That might be great for you. But I can’t unlearn what I’m learning over here, and it is ALARMING that companies that we’ve grown to trust (because why – because they’re there? Because they pay big bucks to have celebrities in their nice ads that make us think they care about us and our skin?) ….sell us products that have known carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and allergens.


I’m a mom of small children. When I’m at the store with the aforementioned ticking time bombs, I don’t have the luxury of taking the time to review the ingredients on whatever products I need to purchase. I trust that the companies selling the products, the stores housing these products, aren’t feeding me junk. Well, that’s not the case. I need to do my research before I’m even at the store. And that research time is a luxury, too, but dangit if my family isn’t worth it.


More to come on this.

Knowing Better….

In the latest installment of Things I Didn’t Know But Now Know And You Should, Too….. y’all. The skincare and cosmetics industry is regulated at the federal level by 1.5 pages of legislation that was passed back in ye olde 1938.

That might be all well and good, rah rah low regulation and pro business and whatnot, but you can see the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (read it here) and clearly it could use some updating.  Allow me to summarize: there’s lots of FDA regulation authority in various chapters that often end with a cute little clause noting that the chapter doesn’t apply to cosmetics. On the aforementioned 1.5 pages, the FDA kind of has authority on some adulterated and mis-branded cosmetics issues and exempts some things. The FDA can’t even authorize a recall of a product. They leave that to the companies at their leisure. This is Special Interest Abuse 101.

(We interrupt this blog post to alert you that in the Ease of Navigating Statutes competition between Texas and the Feds, Texas wins again. One of my favorite parts of working at the Texas Capitol was diving into statute, but this federal stuff is insane! So hard to understand and navigate! #whyarewenotsurprisedbythis)


In 1938, this was undoubtedly awesome – I don’t know, they didn’t have Instagram so how can we be sure? The FD&C Act came on the heels of a pharmaceutical drug that went on the market and killed a bunch of people because it hadn’t been properly vetted. They realized they needed to rein in companies in this market. Fast forward to present day. The United States regulates or bans a whopping 30 chemicals in the cosmetics industry. Thirty. Canada bans around 600+. The European Union bans 1,400. Shout out to Beautycounter for voluntarily banning over 1,500 potentially harmful chemicals: see more about our Never List here.



A crazy exemption allows companies to mask THOUSANDS of chemicals – many potentially harmful – behind the word “fragrance.” They’ll say it’s a proprietary concoction that’s a trade secret. Others could easily argue that it’s a concoction of harmful chemicals that are not safe for consumers, but allow companies to use subpar ingredients on the cheap. So if you really want to see what’s up, go check your makeup, skincare, and household products for “fragrance” listed in the ingredients, then do a massive purge, for the love.

And it’s hard enough to know what chemicals to look out for on the ingredients they DO share! I do try to be an informed buyer, but my eyes glaze over when I start reading all the ingredients in many household products. I took Chemistry in high school. The teacher was a male, so we called him “Coach” even though he wasn’t a coach. Because Shiner, Texas. And I broke the beaker several times when I tried to move the experiment so then I didn’t get to do experiments with hot liquids anymore.


Here’s the deal, folks. The goal is not to eliminate the competition. The goal is that all skincare and makeup companies would have higher standards for the products they promote. Life’s too short. The exponential increase in developmental disorders, infertility, cancer, hormone disruptors… it’s nuts.

So what do we do? Thankfully, there are organizations like the Environmental Working Group who are dedicated to helping move the needle toward safer products. They have a Cosmetics Database that goes in depth and ranks many products for safety – check it out! They also have an app. They also have a Children’s Health Initiative that’ll get you all kinds of fired up – I hope to post more on this another time. There are companies like Beautycounter that work hard to get safer products into the hands of everyone – so check us out. And you can swap products that are questionable and use harsh chemicals for products that are safe for you and your family – I’m currently loving Young Living’s Thieves line of cleaning products, not to mention their amazing essential oils… a post for another day, but here’s the link to my site with YL.

We have choices, but it’s not always clear what the right choice is. This is something I’m hoping to help with as I sit at home and do nothing all day as a SAHM ;). Thanks for reading.


Homemade Mascara…or, Know Better, Do Better.

Y’all. You don’t have to go far before you learn some fascinating things about household items and cosmetics. Hearken back to my last post about homemade laundry detergent. I was so fed up with all the unnecessary junk that’s put in products, longing for those pioneer day camp days. I threw out the Meyer’s liquid dish/hand soap that’s supposedly all natural (whatever that means) but shreds my digits after I do dishes or wash my hands. Got Zum Bar goat’s milk soap. Bar soap, y’all. Every bathroom. Know better, do better.

Next up: makeup and skin. I’ve made a concerted effort to appear low-maintenance over the years, having purchased most of cosmetic products at Target – nothing fancy…. then will occasionally treat ma-self at Nordstrom, only to have my skin break out, dry up, and my eyes get all irritated regardless of where I shop. What the what.

Enter the googling of things like homemade/DIY mascara. I’d link for you, but naw. It requires things like simmering your ingredients on the stove. And I think drugstore mascara is clumpy? This is going to be a REAL treat.

Cue my What. Is. The. Point. Of. It. All. moment. No makeup! No skin care! Fight the man!

Good for me and you and for pretty much the rest of humanity, I discovered Beautycounter.  They say beauty should be good for you.


Pull up a chair and get this: there are over 80,000 chemicals on the cosmetics market today, many of which don’t have any safety data. In the past 20 years, the EU has banned nearly 1,400 chemicals in the product formulas of personal care products and have restricted the levels of over 250 more in such products. Guess how many have been banned in the good ol’ US of A? Thirty. How droll.

Beautycounter is the leader in the clean and safe cosmetic category. Their mission is to get safe products into the hands of everyone. They are committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what’s required by US law and have prohibited over 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals through their never list, all while ensuring the products actually perform and are actually fabulous (ie: legit mascara that works better than what I used from Target and infinitely better than my sauteed DIY mascara would…).

I’m personally more excited about their advocacy efforts, but what a bonus that they don’t just advocate – they’ve actually created products that are awesome. Like I am HOOKED. (and my past skin care regimen consisted of washing my face with hand/dish soap and maybe using coconut oil now and then…)

Here’s a short video you can watch to explain more of what Beautycounter is all about:

I’ll still be posting the usual tomfoolery here and on Instagram at @whatemilyposts, and I’ll also be over at @thecolliercompany posting about health and wellness because I’m all sorts of fired up these days. My middle name is Collier and I’ll be sharing more about choosing that name for my company in later posts, but for now, please follow me at @thecolliercompany if you’re interested, and reach out if you’d like to learn more about Beautycounter! (For you guys out there, fear not: there’s a line of men’s products – this new venture won’t all be about girly makeup and crash diets. Puhlease. And Sherpa Tim (the husband) is on board and eagerly awaiting this next shipment. I know, right!?)

El Naturale

(Easy there. I know it’s au naturale – I had a sweet friend in college who would proclaim she was going “el naturale” (“AY-ull NATCHER-ahyl”) all drawled out, when she wasn’t wearing makeup. Funny memory.)

After years of fighting the incessant Austin hippie magnetic force, I’m caving. In small ways. (And I’m talking about the old school Austin magnetic force, not the newer, more obnoxious “OMG I caved and bought the YSL bag when my Barre3 class was over before brunching with my tribe at this new gourmet restaurant you’ve never heard of. So ghetto” hogwash.)

While I love the idea of going all pioneer woman (the legit kind, what with the making of lard soap and churning of butter and casting of our own bullets for muskets – yes, this and more I learned how to do when I was at Pioneer Day Camp in Houston…) … I do greatly appreciate and enjoy things like dishwashers and climate controlled homes and non-dirt-floors and not having to sew my own clothes…so there’s some compromise here.

(There’s a photo of me circa 1993 living my best life at Pioneer Day Camp. I’ll dig for it and share it in a later post.)

If you just think about it, it’s pretty strange: all the random ingredients that are added to products that serve purposes that are already easily covered by other, more simple, things. We make things more complicated, for what? Increased shelf life? Convenience? Mass production? Case in point: laundry detergent. What is even in it? Companies aren’t required to disclose what all they put on the bottle. Tide lists these ingredients on their website but helllooooo I didn’t pay attention in high school Chemistry (honors, thankyouverymuch) and why male models, there are so many ingredients! And some of them could be responsible for things like skin rashes, respiratory irritants, oh and it contains carcinogens, no big deal.

Enter the googling of “homemade clothes detergent” and voila! You can make your own, using borax and essential oil and baking soda and some other stuff and (cue Paula Cole’s fist in the air)…. girl, yes I did. I just made my own laundry detergent.

‘Cept it’s not really in powder form. It looks more like poorly chopped cauliflower in an overstuffed snowglobe. The instructions say to just add some hot water to it before putting it in the machine to help dissolve the soap (oh boy this is getting complicated… making a note to make this about saving gobs of money to keep Tim from marching over to Costco and (becoming a member and) buying a car-sized container of Tide. Back to the food processor. Whew. We’re good.

And don’t worry. Lots of lavender essential oil added and first two loads of laundry have been a success and we still smell nice. I’m probably saving like $9,384 a year or something awesome like that, using legit pioneer ingredients like 20 mule team borax, because that’s a thing and every fledgling pioneer needs the strength of a 20 mule team in her arsenal. I’m practically using a washboard and a bar of lye soap outside my log cabin. Yeehaw! I need a battle cry for these pioneer ways. Suggestions??

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑