Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weekend Rant and Beauty Baloney - May 15

I'm kind of opinionated - can you tell? Sometimes, I go on a roll, as I'm about to do on a variety of subjects, and there's no stopping me. I hope I don't lose 100 followers today, but I can no longer hold back some of my rage.

On current events, I feel as devastated as my Cajun friends in Louisiana about the purposeful flooding in Louisiana, the first in 40 years, which will devastate some so others can avoid the wrath of Mother Nature. I don't think it's fair that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided with officials from Louisiana and other states to open the flood gates on which people counted, to "save" cities down-river. I am fully aware of the suffering in New Orleans from Katrina - and my empathy is unbounded - but I can't condone what's being done to the farmers who barely make a living off the land and poor people in the Cajun countryside of Louisiana. Many of those about to be flooded - or already flooded - had no flood insurance because of the levees. Perhaps they should have, but they didn't. Will the government compensate for their monetary losses? Nope. Who will help them? I will financially, but I'm a drop in a huge bucket. I cry for them and the abandoned pets, farm animals, and wildlife in the states being flooded.

One incredibly generous and heartwarming tweet came from Bourne Natural Beauty in Australia, who offered to donate for those being harmed. I tear up when I think of her generosity and that of others who are helping and will help the folks who are about to lose everything. I'll be looking to help people, but also an animal rescue organization on the ground helping abandoned animals - the silent sufferers who are sometimes forgotten by society at large.

Then there is the world of beauty, which should be beautiful, but is filled sometimes with crazy ideas and crazy women craving attention. Just a few of many examples follow. See, I can return to topic. I call this beauty baloney.

I am a voracious reader. I read magazines, blogs, online sites, newsletters, e-mails - everything I can find related to beauty. I have learned so much by reading, and I love tips about fabulous products. I also like to talk to experts, so I take every opportunity that comes my way to attend special events at the stores.

Twitter is a wonderful thing! I have grown to love it as a source of information, a community, and great entertainment. I wonder why I was originally reluctant to join. I love others' beauty blogs - I have so much fun reading them.

In social media land, I love to follow people and companies in the beauty industry, including lots of other bloggers. The beauty "tips" you read range from helpful to tread-worn to sheer nonsense. One of my most recent laughs was the recommendation that you match your mascara to your clothing each day. That came from a "beauty expert" with almost 6,000 Twitter followers. Scary - but if you see any lemmings running around your office wearing green mascara to go with their green spring outfits, you'll know why. The expert went on to recommend - all in 140 characters - that you dust your mascara with powder before you leave home. Yikes!

Seeing that tweet made me think about all the bad or useless beauty advice I've read on Twitter, in magazines (top offenders for overselling skin care), and even on blogs. The experts (I don't include myself in that expert category) often get it wrong.

I finally figured out, after many years of reading magazines, that the editors' monthly choices for the "best makeup" are really new products they couldn't have used for a long time. They are usually brand new products, and sometimes they aren't even available. There is nothing more frustrating than going to every store in town looking for something that you finally learn hasn't even shipped to the stores. There's nothing wrong with alerting us to fabulous makeup (or any beauty products) that will be arriving in stores; that's a great service. Just don't make us think we can buy it now!

Eye creams have many virtues, but they can't remove under-eye bags that are caused by fat that has shifted downward with time. Removing bags cannot be achieved with cosmetics. It takes surgery. The appearance of under-eye bags can be lessened with injectables (facial fillers) around them to plump the skin where it is sunken around the fat. You'll need a physician for that. Eye creams can tighten the skin slightly, with caffeine and other ingredients, but they will never make fat melt. The same principle is true for creams that are supposed to dissolve the cellulite on your legs. Don't spend a lot of money on those creams. A temporary firming is all you will achieve.

Now, to the subject of beauty bloggers. There may be thousands of us, and my feeling is the more the merrier. I love reading blogs, and some of my favorites are relatively new. Unfortunately, there are a few beauty bloggers - fortunately not many - who trade on their "blog power" in a self-serving way. They feel entitled by their perceptions of power. Some examples? You tell me if this is acceptable behavior.
  • Slam individuals who depend on their jobs in the industry because you were unhappy with your treatment, not caring or trying to understand why things might have happened the way they did.
  • Purchase products to blog about them, with swatches and glowing reviews, only to return them once you have profited from them. Do these few bloggers not realize they are harming the sales people who help them - or worse that they are unethical?
  • Break U.S. federal regulations by not sufficiently disclosing in a feature that the product reviewed was provided gratis. It's not OK, in my opinion, to put a general disclosure statement on a blog that from time to time companies send products for review - and consider that a disclosure. Many bloggers object to the federal requirement - I'm not sure why. Yes, we are singled out for unusual treatment, when magazines aren't. Oh well. I disclose gratis products in every feature I write - and I don't mind at all.
  • Pester beauty companies and/or stores for gratis products. I'm enormously grateful for what is sent/given me for free, but I've got good reason to believe (and proof) that some bloggers take advantage of the generosity.
  • Copy other bloggers' features in their entirety and publish the content on their own sites without permission. During the last six months, I have found my complete blog posts on four other "blogs"! Charlie is there, my arm is there, my opinions are there - in one case without any attribution. Gaia and Kari have also suffered the same fate. It's frustrating because many of those blogs are beyond reach in countries that will not enforce U.S. copyright laws. Grrr!
That's what's been on my mind. What's on yours?


Leigh said...

I'm with you on the flood thing - - but I say, remove all dams and gates and LET THE RIVER FLOW! (Probably not gonna happen!)

Anonymous said...

You go! Agree with you on everything you said, from start to finish!

Charlestongirl said...

Absolutely, yes, Leigh! We need to stop tinkering with nature.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I was a little afraid to write it. I appreciate your comment.

Charlestongirl said...

Well, lost a subscriber from July of last year. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not. Sorry to lose her!

anibananie said...

You are absolutely entitled to your opinion, and if someone can't handle that, then you're probably better of without them!

You GO girl! (I just happen to agree, but I would still of respected your opinion, even if I didn't...)

Ava said...

That these farmers won't be compensated for their losses is beyond comprehension. What is the federal government's role in this? Is it solely a state decision?

Copying other's posts really burns me. My blog is primarily about knitting (or was, I haven't figured out how to write about both seamlessly), but when I won the NM shopping spree I wrote about a few things, including the LMdB Flawless Face Kaleidoscope. An Australian blogger, on whose blog I had posted comments previously, wrote nearly the very same post a day or two later and sent it to LMdB, who Tweeted about what a good post it was! I didn't want to believe it, but there were very few differences: the order in which I wrote about the components, the evaluation of each, and the layout of the photos were too similar for it to be a coincidence. Really, to say it burns me is an understatement. I felt incredibly cheated. It put me off blogging about beauty things for a while. I've blogged about knitting for years and have yet to discover anyone copying those posts, though I know it happens.

I found reputable beauty blogs more informative than the magazines these days. And I've begun to question the expertise of some of the beauty "experts." I hasten to add that I've had some wonderful makeovers, but frankly I can do my face better than most of them. I've begun to suspect that because I've a woman of a "certain age," they make assumptions about what "looks" I might be interested in. They should ask. The best of them do.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Anibananie!

I agree - everyone is entitled to his/her own opinions (tee hee, except the wing nuts who still believe the earth is flat). :)

Love ya!

Charlestongirl said...

Hey there, Ava, we need to talk. I would love for you to come to the Fresh party we are having in June at NM.

Yesterday, a representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, architects of some of the most environmentally disastrous alterations of nature in the history of our country, was asked if they would compensate the farmers being flooded. His answer was basically no - but in bureau-speak.

You can bet that was your work, copied and uncredited. It is so frustrating - feels like a violation! You should have written to LMdB. They are such a wonderful, caring group of people; I think they would have wanted to know. Not that they could have done anything.

Wow...that's a challenge! Integrating knitting and beauty. How about a color theme?

Most of us can do our own faces better than 80% of the artists working today. Fortunately, the 20% of them who are talented-beyond-belief are out there. I love my time with them - and love learning from them. Dustin is one. He's sheer joy in a human body. :)

I find that a lot of makeup artists want to cover the inside crease of my eyelid with shadow, even though it accentuates the crepiness I have there. It's so easy to avoid (Loyd always does). It's their paint-by-numbers formula, and it works beautifully for women under 40. Fortunately, it all washes off when I get home.

Back to content thieves, I believe that many of them put up our posts to make a few bucks on Google ads. The first one I discovered (actually a beauty company discovered) had copied almost every one of my features for five months! Google slammed them b/c they used Blogger, so Google could remove my posts - but only the URLs I sent Google in my complaint as examples. They wanted me to send all 100, and I didn't have time when I was recovering from surgery. The guilty blogging party was, apparently, put on notice. They stopped using my posts. I still need to send Google the other 95 to get them removed. Sigh!

PerilouslyPale said...

Yes Yes and Yes! Thank you for this post. You echo the thoughts of many. I don't think you should ever fear speaking your mind. Those of us that follow your blog religiously do it because we love your beautiful posts and the intelligent, opinionated woman behind them. I'll continue to keep up the watch ;-)

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks much, PerilouslyPale! I really appreciate the compliment - and from another beauty blogger too!

Ava said...

Charlestongirl- I’d love to attend the Fresh party. I have to go to Baltimore for a few days in June for business, but otherwise will be in town. I'll check the dates tomorrow when I'm in the office.

Yes, I love Dustin! He's a great makeup artist and is so personable. I wish he lived here, but I know we'll never get him out of New York. Lisa Lingis is great too, but will be less available now that she's taken the regional rep position. Good for her, but so sad for us! Despite the rather scathing critique of Bobbi Brown someone recently posted, I had an excellent makeover by a national BB makeup artist a couple of years ago. I started getting makeovers a few years ago after a long break, when I got one from Jeffrey Tasker, Global Trainer for Laura Mercier. He was working for YSL at the time and was in town for a Pentagon City Nordstrom event. I had expected to go to the ladies room to wash half the product off after he finished, but was very pleasantly surprised by his application. Now I wish I’d paid more attention to his technique. I should go see Lloyd – didn’t you say he was in a Montgomery County store now? My primary gripe is that the paint-by-numbers technique leads many MU artists to apply blusher so far down the face that it accentuates the fold from the edge to the nose down to the mouth that forms after the age of 45+. Not attractive. I’ve actually made some artists reapply if they’ve placed it there after I’ve asked them not to.

My idea is to gradually turn my blog into a style blog. Kari at Fab Over 40 said recently that many women over 40 have given up on makeup. I’ve found that many of us have given up on style generally for a host of reasons. My knitting has slowed to a near halt because many of the patterns are boxy and generally unflattering. I’m interested in knitwear design and style for our age range, but I still have a demanding full-time job (that I still enjoy), so the blog will evolve a little more slowly than I’d like. I don’t know how you do it – I know you work full-time too. I admire your discipline! So having posts stolen when you’ve used your precious time to create them is particularly irksome. By the way, I did tell LMdB, but they didn’t respond. As you said, what can they do? Glad to hear that Google is responsive, but given the number of posts stolen, it seems like you’re the one being punished by having to supply the proof. 95 to go – ugh!

Pam said...

Charlestongirl, you rock!!! I have a great deal of admiration for anyone who "rants" from the heart. I know sometimes I feel my one tiny voice wouldn't make any difference but, when you put it with others, it becomes a song that needs be heard. Your thoughts and opinions are respected and valued in this community and we trust you to "call a spade a spade" whether it's dirty or not.
As far as the beauty blogs are concerned, I read several of them daily. They were carefully chosen from hundreds. I think once you read ones like yours, Kari's and Gaia's you develope your gift of discernment. You know who to trust. Unfortunately, the "bad apples" in the barrel are better at stealing an idea or opinion than forming one.

Charlestongirl said...

Interesting, Ava! There was an article in the NY Times yesterday about marketing to the post-45 set. One of the categories in which we are exceeding the younger gals is cosmetics. We are now becoming the favored target market!

I love Lisa! She will be around, though. She has been at NM Tysons for the last two Wednesdays. :) Write her for her schedule.

Blogging does become a second job. I'll keep doing it as along as I love it. :) Even with the content thieves.

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks, Pam. My rant over bloggers was building inside for some time. Then the flooding event sent me over the edge.

Most of those stealing my content are not real bloggers. They just put up sites with entirely stolen content. I swear they are doing it for the peanuts paid by Google Ads. In one year, I think I've made something like $100. I have actually thought of dropping Google Ads. :) Waste of space that is not paying for makeup, which was the initial intention - making enough to buy a blusher. :)

"Bloggers Behaving Badly," a term I think Gaia's coined, could be a book. They walk into stores and announce they are beauty bloggers, like "Look out, you better be really nice to me." It devolves from there. I think I want to be Gaia's co-author. We might make some money. The next chick lit hit!

Pam said...

Charlestongirl...I know advertising is necessary BUT, your reply got me to thinking (uh-oh) might be interesting to do a poll and see just how many readers actually SEE the ads on a blog, much less read them. I know I don't. In fact, I can never recall reading an ad on a blog. I don't know the ins and outs of blog advertising but, if they aren't doing what they are intended for...well.

lovethescents said...

Well, Charlestongirl, I hadn't heard about the floods coming to Louisiana again. I'm not sure how the gov't can justify doing what they are doing. Just to be clear, is this the federal gov't or the state gov't? I'm not very clear on American political jurisdictions.

Regarding your issues as a blogger, I was really surprised to read what you've been experiencing and witnessing. Oddly enough, I had been researching that beautiful Le Metier de Beaute's Penelope palette, when I came across swatches. These were your swatches but on a different blog! I just checked again and it looks like the entire post was removed. I'm very sorry you're having to deal with this. There seems to be a lack of regulation on the net....or absence of....

I love reading your blog and appreciate your hard work and efforts. Thank you for not being too discouraged by the actions of others. Blog on!

Charlestongirl said...

LOL, Pam. All those text and photos (even on my blog) are ads. The Google ads on my site have a title that says Google Advertisements. :)

Just as I thought, no one pays any attention to them - even though sometimes they offer a good deal.

Charlestongirl said...


It was/is the federal government, with the full consensus of the states. If I lived in those areas, I know who I wouldn't be voting for next time.

My Penelope post was stolen by a handbag site! I will go see if I can find it today. I left a comment that was direct, but their comments are moderated. I told them to take down my feature. :)

lovethescents said...

The Penelope post I saw was on a beauty site called Sexy something.

Good for you for being direct!

Eileen said...

I was saddened beyond words when I learned about the plan to open the Morganza Spillway. Although the affected residents know that they live in a flood plain and have, by all reports, been taking the mass evacuation in as good a stride as can be expected when faced with devastating loss, they need assurance that the government and the citizenry is there to help them get through this. They're losing their homes and livelihoods so that others may keep theirs. That kind of sacrifice is a hallmark of bravery and selflessness. It should not go unrewarded. I know this year we have been called upon repeatedly to lend assistance as disaster after disaster has plagued our fellow man. As long as we have shelter over our own heads, though, I hope we'll be able to rally to the cause once again and do right by those who have been forced to give up their homes to spare others the loss of theirs.

On the subject of blogs and abusive bloggers, you go, girl! Bloggers like you, Amy, Sabrina, Gaia, and so many other generous ladies in the blogosphere are out there posting like crazy because you want to share your love and passion for things that make us feel beautiful. Just because you blog, doesn't mean you have relinquished your right to have opinions. We all know that there are "haters" out there and that there are people who have never learned to accept an opinion that differs from their own. If a reader feels threatened by that, that person can read something else.

Dlori said...

Wow, there must be a full moon coming because I've never seen a group of beauty lovers so riled up over issues of government corruption and I have to say, I couldn't be happier. Now before I expLAIN THAT STATEMENT, I MUST THANK YOU for all the wonderful reviews, your wit, intelligence, the time it must take to do all those swatches, for giving all your fans the facts, good, bad and indifferent , about the products you test. Your honesty is greatly appreciated. Your readers , or at least i rely on your reviews and your honesty in accessing them as to whether to purchase them or not. Since we have the same skin coloring, I know that if a product looked great on you it would look pretty good on me as well. I read all the Beauty blogs or at least it seems that way, and I'm sure this statement will offend some, I enjoy reading your blog the best.

I also want to thank you for giving so many of us who normally couldn't afford to purchase all the wonderful beauty products you review, the opportunity to win them in your terrific giveaways. While I love reading your daily blogs, which is the first email I look for when I get online daily, I do look forward to your weekly giveaways knowing that whatever you have selected is top notch. Which brings us to this past week's giveaway, the Nars illuminator, you have begun my week on a very happy note by informing me that I m this week's winner. This product is one of those products I keep on reminding myself to purchase and try but for some reason, usually the lack of finances, never get around to purchasing it. My skin is so white and the sun is poison to my skin, that I know I will get constant use from this prize this spring and summer. I can't tell you how many beauty brands and products you have educated me about, subsequently falling in love with their lines including Chantecaille, Le Metier, Cle de peau Beaute and many more, too numerous to list. Your reviews are so original that they are easily recognizable if copied and I have seen your comments on other beauty blogs where the blogger pretends to be the author. Something should be done about that. Plagarism really ticks me off.
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Dlori said...

As for the government purposefully opening up the dams and flooding the land of many citizens, destroying their homes, their land, their crops and livelihoods and ruining their lives, there is a law called Emminent Domain where th government is allowed to take the land of private citizens without their consent if it's absolutely necessary for the public good. The law should only be implemented as a last resort and the government is supposed to pay the landowner the value of the property at that time. However, this law has been abused by the government on many occasions and they generally pay the landowner almost nothing. Although this particular incident has been reported by the media bringing it to the attention of the citizens of this country,sadly, the government has done and will continue to do the exact same thing to many others until they are forced to stop.

For those who think the government can't break the law, they are sadly mistaken. As a former prosecutor and Special Agent with the Treasury Department, I can tell you that the government commits illegal acts quite often. I hope that this incident concerning the dams will open up the eyes of the American people that the word Democracy won't have much meaning in the near future unless the citizens start becoming more vocal about issues such as healthcare, or rather the lack thereof, loss of jobs and homes, out of control illegal immigration, prosecution of corrupt politicians with no exceptions, demand accountability from our political leaders for the state of affairs in this country at this time, prohibit our politicians from hiding behind the "patriot act" , a doctrine that directly challenges all the freedoms our founding fathers clearly delineated in our Constitution.People have to stop complaining and start doing. One person really can make a difference! Have a great day everyone!

kleimanlaw at aol dot com

Charlestongirl said...

You are absolutely right, Dlori. In fact, last night I was thinking about this "taking," which is against the law. I think this is a great Supreme Court takings case. As I'm sure you know, the Supreme Court recently weighed in on takings for private economic development. As a land use activist, I follow that stuff pretty closely. Many of you don't know that I am the president of a land trust.

Thanks for the sweet compliment!

Charlestongirl said...

Thanks much, Eileen.

I see the brave ones on the news, but I also see those who are dying inside. I just saw a clip on a couple who had built their own berm around their house - but all is still gone.

We can help the people rebuild, but who will help the animals? We are still helping the tornado victims in our area, and now this?

Charlestongirl said... Penelope post stolen by Sexy Beauty Make Up is gone!

Maybe the fact that I tweeted their full name gave them a wake-up call? I am grateful and may try that again the next time I find a new content thief.

lovethescents said...

Looks like your tactic was effective, Charlestongirl! Good for you!

Not sure if anyone will read this now since this post is older, but I did some research on the flooding and the dam. Perhaps I might be a bit confused here, but from my understanding, the point of the dams is to prevent millions of people being hurt (in the New Orleans area), as opposed to several thousand (in the rural areas). Lesser of two evils, maybe?