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Standing in line at a local coffee shop in San Francisco; my mind was wondering a bit thinking of a show that would start shooting in a few months. There would be a host of characters in the series that represent everything San Francisco. Tattoos are at the top of the list. I noticed a woman in front of me with elaborate, reddish toned designs wrapped around her fingers, palms, continuing up her arms. The swirls and patterns were hypnotizing. These were without a doubt is Henna designs or Mehndi.
Mehndi or Henna is painting of hands or feet. Henna is a ritual that goes way back to early Middle Eastern and Northern Africa.
There have been several concerns by the FDA over the last few years about the use of Henna. So who in the Bay Area could I trust to use safe ingredients? Who is an outstanding Henna artist? How could I go about getting a design? One name keeps popping up in my search, Darcy Vasudev.
Hennalounge, an appointment only studio for all things henna, is the brainchild of Darcy Vasudev. Darcy started working in henna back in 1995 after she decided to quit her day job and pursue her more artistic passions full time. Darcy told me, “Who knew that henna was going to be such a focal point of my career. But it’s fun so I’ll continue as long as my vision and dexterity continue.” “Most of my customers are brides of Indian of Pakistani descent who request henna or “Mehndi” for weddings.” Darcy continued by telling me that her Clients can also include Middle Eastern and North African brides, pregnant women, and patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or alopecia”. Some of her clients just want to have fun celebrating a holiday or birthday. “I also work with multi faith and LGBT customers. We are all so lucky to live and work in such a diverse area,” she said.
Darcy explains the nuances for anybody interested in getting henna. “There are a lot of operations out there that cater to tourists often found in areas near the beach. The products they use could be deemed unsafe. Always inquire about henna ingredients before using. One of the known unsafe additives is PPD, para-phenylenediamine, also known as “black henna”. It can cause severe allergic reactions. Your henna artist should always be able to tell you ingredients in their mix. Natural henna is greenish or brownish in color and smells earthy. Henna paste with PPD is black, leaves a jet black stain, and smells like ammonia. Stay away from that.
Darcy says he only uses safe ingredients, “My henna mix contains only organically cultivated henna, water, sugar, and essential oils. I mix my own paste specifically for each person. That way I know exactly what was used and it’s fresh. Also, each client is asked about any known plant allergies. It’s important to educate each customer about safe and natural henna so they can in turn recognize and avoid chemical products in the future.
Darcy has a few tips if you are interested in making an appointment for henna or need to preserve one you already have.
TIP: Protect your henna design with a coating of vegetable based oil like; coconut oil or shea butter before swimming. Also beeswax based lotions work great. Avoid petroleum products like Vaseline or baby oil.
Fun Fact: Henna acts as a natural sunscreen, so if you expose your henna to the sun for a few days watch what happens when the henna starts to fade. A reverse tan! Or as I call it “ghost henna”.
Darcy will make house calls for smaller events, but also travels internationally for clients. Mexico’s Mayan Riviera is often requested as a location for Indian weddings. She offers henna for teens within the public library system in San Francisco and San Mateo County. Darcy not only teaches henna around the world, she’s VP of online community’s HennaTribe. An organization dedicated to the preservation and continuation of traditional henna patterns and products. You’ll also find her as a guest speaker on the henna podcast “Caught Red Handed “available on ITunes.

For more information visit:
http://www.hennalounge.com
http://www.mehndiparadise.com Blog
http://www.hennaguru.com Web Shop

For information on PPD , tattoo transfers, and henna visit:
http://www.fda.gov

Article written for :
http://www.examiner.com under makeup/Gretchen Davis Motroni

Photography credits:
Black&white Head Design , Sarah Berkovich photographer
Darcy Vasudev

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Comic Con and Cosplay what are they? This is the question I asked myself while observing several well costumed individuals walking across the street at a stop light. My first thought was typical San Francisco; then “wow” what incredible makeup, hair, and costumes!
There are many makeup artists, hair stylists and costume designers involved with putting those looks together. Often personals are called in to work with celebrities promoting films, books, or television shows.
Makeup artist Dawn Banks has a passion for all things Comic Con or Cosplay. She explains “Cosplay is the creation and wearing of costumes based on anime, manga, video games, and comics. Sometimes you even take on the characters persona. Comic Con is a term used for the largest comic book convention. Fans gather to celebrate pop culture, Sci fi, and comic books, plus much more. Comic Con is an event where fans can wear their Cosplay.

Dawn started to do comic book makeup after she found herself drawn to all things comic book. Since the age of twelve Dawn needed to find a way to express her devotion to the characters she loved. Those characters inspired makeup designs with the eyes a focal point.

Dawn explains” Often I’ll see unique colors within a character. How the artist has drawn color combinations. These influences will help me design the makeup. Products tend to be bold, bright, and highly pigmented. The colors represent the same “wow” factor as the Illustrations themselves.

Makeup Tip: Dawn uses brands like Sugarpill,Urban Decay, Ingot, and Lit Cosmetics for glitter. Lit has an array of glitter in different colors and sizes. Also try using nail dotting tools. You can create that super power effect.

The last few years Dawn has seen an upswing in requests for her makeup skills. She now free lances as a makeup artist recreating comic book characters on clients. You can find her working in a number of places such a Comic Con, photo shoots, and the web series, “Batgirl:Spoiled”.
Dawn sums it up “I love working on geek projects”
Article from http://www.examiner.com under makeup Gretchen Davis motroni

For more information visit
http://www.makeupbysiryn.com

Comic- Con International is held in San Diego July 18-21, 2013.
In San Francisco “APE” Alternative Press Expo, a comic book event that highlights the best comic book writers, artists, books and workshops. You can sign up for “APE” held in October, 12&13th 2013.

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In the not too distant past, after decades of being told to scrub and tone our faces for a squeaky clean feel the majority of people were still experiencing acne and dry skin. Many women, during that time, were perfectly happy to use cold cream for cleansing. Cutting edge products from Japan were not available. But in 1969, cosmetic line Shu Uemura brought cleansing oils to Japanese markets and a new way to cleanse skin was born. Soon other cosmetic companies brought their own versions to market.

Murad has recently launched their cleansing oil called Renewing Cleansing Oil. The product made with pomegranate seed, sunflower seed and almond oil. It’s geared towards revitalizing aging skin of women of all ages.

Another cosmetic line, DHC, has a “Deep Cleansing Oil” cleanser made with olive oil. Makeup Tip: DHC cleansing oil can be used to remove stubborn makeup products from your brushes. The cleanser will even remove stubborn glues or latex, products you’ll use in effects work.

Want to go a step further? There is no reason you cannot mix your own oils at home. But test what you mix on a small area of your skin first. Use only the best ingredients you can find. Keep in mind not everything that says organic is organic. Buy your ingredients from a reputable business and not necessarily the neighborhood health, vitamin, or herbal store. Always research the side effects of individual ingredients. Pay attention to essential oils and how the work or mix with other products and medications you may be taking.

Oils can be mixed together with usually one of the oils being used as a carrier oil, which is explained later. Massage therapists already know this because they often mix their own secret concoctions for massage work. You can use a carrier all by itself or mix with other ingredients.
Carrier oils, when mixed with other oils, will be measured in the larger amount. For example: 20% /80%. Carrier oils can be found in a variety of choices like Jojoba, Almond, Grape Seed, Olive, and Apricot oils.The right combination is up to you.
Try adding a few drops of essentials oils like Tea Tree Oil known to have antiseptic qualities.

One thing you can count on, cleansing oils may remove the most stubborn of makeup giving new meaning to squeaky clean.

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article written for: http://www.examiner.com

http://www.murad.com

http://www.dhccare.com

http://www.shuuemura-usa.com

Buying lipsticks can be a bewildering experience all into itself. There are so many choices. Lipstick colors grab your attention almost beckoning you to open your wallet. Your eyes widen over tubes of shiny or sparkling yumminess. If you are anything like me, packaging is a big draw all on its own. Manufacturers hire experts to design packaging to entice you to buy.
The choices are almost endless. There are lipsticks and lip conditioners, lip treatments, lip glosses, so on and so on. Why buy one over the other? Really, it comes down to personal choice. Do you like the style, the color, or the product’s public image in video or print advertisements? Some buyers pick a lip product that fit their personal belief. For example, there are organic, vegan, recyclable, and fair trade just to name a few.
Organic Lipsticks: The word organic is a term used loosely. If you want to buy strictly organic read the ingredients. Organic lipsticks use natural oils, seeds, plants and nuts to create their waxes and pigments. Organic also means insects, like bees for waxes and Cochineal beetles for red tints. Organic can also use oils derived from animals.
Vegan Lipsticks use only extracts derived from plants, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds or minerals. Be aware there can be instances an ingredient found in vegan lipsticks, like certain minerals, could irritate your skin.
You may want to buy a product from a company who recycles their packaging. More brands have programs for consumers to drop off or send back used packaging to be recycled. Others use packaging that is bio-degradable.
Fair Trade Lipsticks have ingredients that have been manufactured in places with humane working conditions, and rigorous oversight by U.S. companies who subscribe to the Fair Trade code.
That’s why it’s important to research the product before you buy. A good method is to find a company that has been established and practices are transparent and look them up online.
We are very lucky in Northern California to have several companies who work with natural products. “Juice Beauty”, founded by Karen Behnke, is one popular brand. Juice Beauty lipsticks, tints and conditioners are made with fruits. There is also “Wine Country Organics” which uses grape seed oil for their lip tints and balms.
So have while you’re having fun hunting down that perfect bubble gum pink or blazing in your face red lipstick, make sure you check out what’s in the cool packaging.

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Devon Keene Photography

Devon Keene Photography

Summer is here , which means sunscreen choices that are too complicated to decipher and choices that boarder on madness. Its been in the making, but the FDA has sent out a new set of guidelines to help consumers make the right choices by requiring clearer labeling and better testing of products.
If you see the word water-proof or prevents cancer , it may not be true. And don’t assume that one or two applications give you all day protection. Reapply often, especially after being in the water. Also do not use spray sunscreens. They are popular on set but spray into your palms and apply by hand.
In Northern California we tend to think there is no sun. This is not true of course. Just ask any surfer out there and they will all have a favorite sunscreen.
So what do you use? Pick out sunscreens with UVA and UVB and SPF 30 or above. Here are a few recommendations from Northern California surfers, men and women who spend their lives in the water.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch
http://www.Neutrogena.com

Lancôme Bienfait UV SPF 50 Broad Spectrum
http://www.lancome-usa.com

Ella Bache Great 50+ Sportsbloc active

You can find this article and more at http://www.examiner.com under Makeup/ Gretchen Davis

When you work hard for productions there is never any expectations for pats on the back. You are there to deliver for the director, producers and crew.
But when James Gandolfini wrote personal thank you notes to individual crew members on Hemingway and Gellhorn for a job well done that said a lot for his character. This makeup artist won’t forget his generosity .

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