Tuesday, November 9, 2010

About face

We've had a few interesting debates on here lately, from dealing with skin care woes to whether or not to wear animal skins. I love hearing all of you weigh in! Now I want to take a moment to further discuss these issues.

No moisturizer? Results!

A few weeks ago, I wrote about visiting a new dermatologist who told me I could defeat acne by simply cutting out moisturizer. As in completely. As in... Sahara Desert Face? Some of you shared that - surprise! - you agree, and never touch the stuff yourself. Others felt, like me, that they would simply shrivel up and die without it. So what's the verdict? My results have been mixed.

After my first day of skipping lotion, my face felt predictably dry and itchy. But instead of panicking and reaching for the nearest tube, I decided to wait it out. Eventually, my skin got a bit of a dewy, not oily, sheen, but overall looked pretty matte. When I added makeup, it stayed fairly matte, but only if I stuck to just concealer and mineral powder (the brand I use may contain some oil; I'm researching so I can swap it out). If I used foundation, my skin got dry and scaly. After moisturizing one particularly dry spot (I had to!), a pimple appeared the next day. This one was stubborn and stuck around for nearly a week! But I toughed it out and stopped moisturizing again. Now I've taken to exfoliating any dry skin gently with warm washcloth. I've switched to Cetaphil cleanser, and it seems to be working because it's super gentle (it drives me crazy that it doesn't foam, though!).

So for those of you afraid of foregoing lotion, like me... if you have oily skin, I recommend that you give it a shot. I thought that I had combination, not oily, skin, but skipping moisturizer has allowed the dry and oily zones on my face to even out. My complexion isn't perfect, but I feel confident with less makeup now. We'll see how things go in winter months, when I will probably need a dab of lotion here and there to avoid Desert Face. Otherwise, I'm sticking with the no-lotion plan!

When I do use moisturizer (naughty, naughty), I find that Neutrogena's oil-free formula for combination skin works best for me. I've tried other "oil-free" formulas from more high-end brands, but this one seems to be the least pore-clogging, most moisturizing lotion of them all. And it doesn't make my face too shiny! Win.

Leathering frights?

Sorry, lame attempt at a pun. Anyway, last week I posted a few faux-leather bags that are chic enough to pass for the real thing but at budget-friendly prices. You chimed in that you while you like to snap up a bargain from time to time, for the most part you prefer leathergoods for their durability.

Years back, I would have said the same thing (I would have also made a wisecrack about enjoying steak). I used to prize my collection of Fossil bags and my mom's eighties-era tan bomber jacket. And actually, I still own a few (vintage) leather items in my wardrobe: tan Frye boots bought for a song ($10 thrift find!) and an evergreen Oscar de la Renta purse. These are timeless, cherished pieces.

But they were purchased in my pre-vegetarian days. Now that I eschew animal products in my diet, I feel it would be hypocritical for me to wear animals on my person. I know that not everyone out there shares my views, obviously, or there would be no leather or fur in fashion (eco-conscious designers like Stella McCartney are working on that, however!). And of course, I would love to own a Chanel bag as much as the next fashion blogger. But I can't ignore my convictions, and how queasy it makes me feel to think of animals being electrocuted and ripped apart for their skins. Once upon a time, people needed animal skins and furs to keep warm; in the modern era, it's just unnecessary, and I can't justify animals suffering for the sake of fashion. These convictions are part of who I am, and the main reason I plan to eventually study and practice animal law. That might just be my special mission in life. I'm not asking you to do the same, but I am asking you to consider these things when you shop.

"Moo!" = "I love you."

Some of you have astutely pointed out that PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a chemically-produced thermoplastic material often used as a leather alternative, is arguably more harmful to the earth than leather, as the latter will naturally break down over time. And I agree; PVC is much more destructive for the planet. Obviously leather is more harmful to the animals. And obviously, I would have to choose the lesser of two evils here. But a true environmentalist would probably say no to both, and simply go vintage. A lot of my fellow fashion bloggers have a mean talent for thrifting, and I admire that!

What we need in the fashion marketplace are stylish, cruelty-free bags that will please even the most discerning shoppers, not just eco-fashionistas. Believe it or not, there are plenty of great up and coming designers who offer just that. To create bags that are fashion-forward, animal-friendly, and with leather's durability, these handbag crafters often reach for recycled materials. Here are a few of my favorite brands:

Matt & Nat

I'm sure you've heard of this stellar company by now. Trailblazers in the eco-fashion movement, Matt & Nat's "vegan leather" bags are made from some surprising recycled materials (paper! plastic water bottles?). And they look amazing! They are very high-fashion, and the prices are a little steep, but no more than you'd pay for, say, a purse from a good department store. The company's most recent endeavor is a partnership with Apple, creating stylish laptop bags.

Susan Nichole

Endorsed by vegan superwoman Alicia Silverstone, who features only the most eco-friendly products on her blog, these bags are crafted from recyclable materials, so no worries about them one day rotting in a landfill. And, oh, they're pretty! This is my favorite:

Maxine Dillon

Now here's a cool concept: got a jacket you never wear anymore but can't bear to part with? L.A. designer Maxine Dillon will upcycle it into a slouchy-chic bag. The bucket shape was a huge bag trend this year, so you'll look like you nabbed a cool new it-bag... sourced from your own closet! What an ingenious way to give that boyfriend jean jacket a second life.

You're all savvy shoppers, so if you can think of any other great brands or designers that deserve to be spotlighted, do share! As always, thanks for speaking your mind!


Raquel said...

love to read your thoguths on all the subjects dear, and agreed especially on the vintage part! also my recent resolution of buying less, looking for quality and durability is eco-friendly and guiltless ;)

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

Leathering frights. You crack me up! I'm definitely a fan of Matt & Nat. A responsible company making super stylish products... can't go wrong there! I've seen some of their bags in person and my-oh-my! And now a collaboration with Apple? Very cool.

I'm glad to hear you're liking the Cetaphil cleanser and that the no lotion regimen has been working in your favor!

jhon said...

Nice post. Keep it up.

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Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

Happy birthday!!!! how funny to share 1/2 birthdays- kinda? lol

Jen said...

Look at that fabulous black purse... GORGEOUS!! And so my style ;-)

Emily Saltzberg said...

I'm going to stop moisturizing asap after reading this (and your last post on the subject). My skin has been looking heinous the past few weeks and I think this may help. I'll let you know the results :)

Emily, Ruby Slipper Traveller said...

Oooh, the debates continue!

Well, I'm almost out of moisturizer, so in the interest of saving money also I'll give that route a whirl.

As for the leathering frights, I do by and large agree with you (though not vegetarian, etc. etc.) Currently my only handbags are second hand from my mom, and while I've bought some leather shoes in the last year, I'll have them for years and wear them into the ground, and I don't tend to overdo it on things like that too much. I guess I'm not as ethical as you, but I do think about these things. Actually, was thinking of this, and you, and Stella McCartney, randomly while browsing around today!

Emily, Ruby Slipper Traveller said...

By the way, I love it that one of your commentators has left a link to "leather jackets online." One of the crew of idiots who doesn't read before they comment I guess. I hate those people. ; D

Erin Cathleen said...

Thank you for all of your insightful comments! I don't normally comment on my own posts, but let me just say, I hope this post didn't come across as condescending or denigrating in any way. I have my opinions about things and you have yours, and that's what makes the world go 'round, after all. :) I pose these issues because I like to write material that is, hopefully, thought-provoking and a bit different from the usual fashion musings (though, believe, I could probably also formulate an entire essay about why I love wearing pink). But the last thing I want to do is come across as holier-than-thou. Ethical fashion is my beat, mainly because I write for an eco-fashion company and work at an environmental agency for my day job. I also hope to study and practice environmental and animal law. Ethics and sustainability are always on the forefront of my mind. I am happy if you consider these things when you shop, too, but know that I do so not only from personal conviction, but because I don't want to be a hypocrite; I can't preach organic and fair trade on one site and tell another story on the other. I am following my heart, and also my vocational interests, and I do appreciate others taking interest in these things. But please, don't beat yourself up for those H&M trips! We all seem to agree that less is more and could all do with shopping less (and as I've mentioned before, many of you are stellar thrift seekers!). But I did notice that H&M was selling coats made out of recycled wool... just saying... ;)

MissNeira said...

I love the idea for those bags..def makes me want to buy one even more!

<a href="http://www.missneira.com>Miss Neira</a>