Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Carmine-Killing for Pinks and Reds

I recently had the honor of being a guest speaker at a C.A.R.E (Compassion for Animals, Respect for the Earth) conference in Ukiah, CA. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful experience. We met many amazing people with common green living beliefs and got to enjoy a vegan family style lunch at Jyun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The restaurant has quickly become one of my favorites and I urge you to try it. It is truly fabulous. Jyan Kang means “To your Health” which is a great description of their dishes which have so much flavor, pizzazz and variety that you will want to come back again and again.

I’m glad everyone was done with their fabulous food though before my talk which can be found at The research for my talk brought me even closer to the truth of killing for pink and reds (and even some purples) used for coloring products. The truth was much worse then I imagined for the harvesting of the cochineal beetle to make pigments widely used in cosmetic and food products. The name is most commonly called Carmine. The name Carmine is also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, and Natural Red #40 and very commonly used in all cosmetics including “healthy”, “natural”, and “mineral”.

What I am going to share about obtaining and using Carmine is very disturbing and my hopes are to encourage your label reading and to stay away from these products in support of this inhumane business.

The Cochineal beetles grow on cactus plants or are attached to cactus plants by baskets filled with the females. Only the females are used in the production or slaughter for the pigment. In fact, most literature says only the pregnant females are harvested due to the most amount of red carminic acid for making pigments and the eggs are used as well. The male beetle doesn’t live long after mating and are not used. The pregnant females are first inhumanely collected by being brushed or knocked off the cacti. This is followed by killing them through immersion in hot water with sun drying, or by being baked directly in the sun. The pigment is then crushed, dissolved in a solvent and filtered. For this process, it takes ~70,000 female insects to produce just one pound of cochineal. The population of insects required for the annual consumption amounts to six times the world’s human population.

This cruelty is not needed as there are many cruelty-free substitutes such as iron oxide minerals and plant based pigments such as red grapes. In cosmetics, ingredient lists are required and should be available online and in their literature although many do not follow this. Since January 2011 food products are now required to say if they contain Carmine as well.

Help stop this cruelty by purchasing products free of Carmine!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Black Friday and Bacteria

I can’t believe its November because the weather in Northern California has been so warm! But, I am counting the days until Black Friday and the great local shopping. The flu season is also on my mind from a recent shot. I got my flu shot on my Dr’s order for protection and it made me think of protection when shopping for makeup on a busy Black Friday. Makeup is such a great and easy gift, but when shopping with all those mirrors, I always end up questioning what I am wearing to my lip gloss or eye shadow of the day. So, yes, I do mean shopping for ourselves as much as for loved ones on this great day of sales. Now back to protection: There is a very popular east coast study showing how illness can come from trying makeup samples or getting a make-over at a high end department store. The results were at first shocking but then much more understandable when looking further into it. Ready?

Up to 100% of sample counter products, even from high end department stores, were tainted on a busy day similar to a weekend or the extremely popular Black Friday. Staph was expected, but fungus, mold, other bacteria, and even E. Coli, which comes from fecal contamination, were found. The E. Coli is very difficult to stomach for me but can easily happen when poor hygiene and a finger dip are combined. These products can lead to a multitude of problems including acne, colds to serious health problems like staph or strep infections, herpes, and pink eye. I feel a little like Ben Stiller in “Along Came Polly”, but I truly care and want to help with solutions and lack of illness in the name of beauty. The makeup counter you are at may look fancy but it could be the reason you got sick and not just on a busy day. Please take care as even slow days have almost a 50% chance of products being contaminated.

How is this possible? They found that although many counter assistants work as they were taught by spraying products and brushes with alcohol between customers there is no stopping or knowing whether someone has done their own dirty testing, especially during busy days. As well, a pressed product requires removing top layers that may be tainted and also dipping only once with each brush or applicator used for keeping sanitation. I also just recently read that counter assistants are not to apply makeup on those with a skin condition. How could they be trained in a skin condition such as herpes or staph which can be present before showing any symptoms? In fact, a simple looking blemish can easily be confused with community MRSA (a form of staph that is very antibiotic resistant)? With respect to this, can you imagine being turned away from a makeup counter in public for having a blemish? In all my days of being at department store cosmetic booths, I have never seen anyone turned down for a make-over.

And very sorry to make it worse, but on top of dirty finger problems, many of the samples such as shadows and powders are open to air all day (and night?) rather than being stored properly which cause a decrease in the efficacy of the preservatives used. This also causes a reduction in protection from contamination. I am also not a fan of harsh preservatives as many of them are very toxic but in this case it is a no win situation. Which is worse?

Counter assistants are not required to be a cosmetologist, esthetician or have any type of board certification; all of these board certified specialists go through countless hours of sanitary training.

What can I as a Doctor of Chemistry, recommend? Use caution. Infections such as staph, E. Coli poisoning and herpes are not a joke. With openings like your mouth, eyes and nose, tainted makeup can be particularly dangerous. Do you remember Ben Stiller preaching about peanuts at your local watering hole being filled with danger from those who don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom? Well, I think of makeup samples as your tainted peanuts. But, there is healthy ways to try makeup before purchasing. Here are some tips:

  1. Look for smaller venues such as salons/spas where many even keep sample kits behind locked doors.
  2. If you prefer mall products, test them on paper and hold up to your skin.
  3. Look for trained specialists as in salons/spas that have been through countless hours of sanitation. Ask them questions about their policies and if the makeup has ever touched someone else. If product has touched someone else, do not feel bad to say no. This is more than vanity.
  4. Loose products that are dispensed on sanitary surfaces are a great way to test samples. Loose products are easily used sanitarily. If the top is used, make sure excess product does not go back in the container, and that the top is sanitized before and after your use.
  5. Pressed products are more difficult but can work. The top should be scraped in front of you and also sprayed with alcohol. They should only be touched once so for sanitation and getting enough makeup for your face, for example, usually requires them scraping onto something sanitary to use.
  6. Ask how the brush was cleaned. Brushes need more than a spray with alcohol. They should also be washed with soap and water and dried before each use.
  7. Go for disposable when in doubt. They might not work as good as real brushes, but it is better than waking up the day after your wedding makeup with a herpes outbreak….eeek.
  8. Look for how the products are stored. Are they uncovered to show the colors? If so, ask for a new sample.
With the stilettos I walk in it feels strange to say, but, there is certainly a price to beauty. And once you get your makeup home, it is up to you to keep the sanitation which has rules as well. Have a great and healthy Black Friday and Thanksgiving.

Dr. Berrettini

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I was sitting at my computer in my vegan cowboy boots when I looked at two packages that arrived that day: one which was sky high platform stilettos and the other being eco-friendly, healthy refill packages for the hand washes in our house. It looks like a paradox in some ways but really involves much more. This is when I pondered about many of my completely fabulous female friends and business associates who remain under the radar, despite being completely eco-conscious, or aka, eco-fabulous. Anyone who knows me will find “fabulous” a word very integrated in my speech, making me laugh just for using it here, but no other word could describe these amazing females.

Most of the women I am talking about have parents of the Baby Boomer time. From the words of a chic, eco-friendly woman of this time, “we burned our bras and didn’t wear makeup as a protest against the establishment”. These words really hit home
as we now seem to be creating our own establishment with the same eco-consciousness, but now can wear healthy makeup and most of us wear bras.

A great example of eco-fabulous is my friend who is a successful business owner of a Wellness Center, massage therapist, AND book-keeper- wow, right. Well, she took time out of her very busy schedule to take part in a professional photo shoot for saving old growth redwoods that entailed no clothing while posing with the trees. This powerful mission is called the Tree Spirit Project and anyone who sees this will love the beauty of the mission which is part of the photo shown. Shortly after the shoot, she graced her presence in my home with style that would make any fashionista proud, with a short textured skirt, black tights, and tall biker-chic boots - completely eco-fabulous!

This would be a very long blog if I talked about all eco-fabulous women I know. The women I am talking about are all very hard working, and sometimes very time crunched being incredible business owners, web-site designers, cosmetologists, teachers, photographers, mothers and much more. We are so lucky to now have wonderful green options and choose them- although deodorant and nail polish is still a topic. We talk to each other about our eco-finds, wheat-grass when feeling down, eating organic, yoga, acupuncture as well as great new Citizen’s Skinnies, Free People anything, or our silly pets at the same sitting. We didn’t start out our lives with these fabulous green options which leave me with so much faith for what’s to come.

I am so proud we are following in the footsteps of women like my mother and what her generation started for women and our environment.

I would personally like to thank Jack Gescheidt, TreeSpirit Project founder and photographer for use of the photo and strongly encourage all to look at his beautiful site, and the many ways you can help in this important mission to protect our trees and more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Scared About Ordering Cosmetics Online?

I know it can be scary to purchase cosmetics online. For me, the worst was ordering foundation and concealer. Before I started Mendocino Minerals, I honestly ONLY ordered online if I had already tried the products. No matter where you live, we have many great ways to overcome any fears you have purchasing our products. We are currently in many salons and day spas where you can sample the products and get professional product and application advice. Our BIG news is that we have even more options!!

We now have an Online Consultation Program to relieve your online worries, with an introductory rate of $50 which may be applied to your purchase. Plus, there is a 14-day money back guarantee or exchange for another foundation color if you are unsatisfied with the color you receive. You simply fill out a short online questionnaire and send us some photos, and within 24 hours you will receive an email for the best products, colors, and application techniques specifically designed for you. This was my dream when I wanted to try certain products and was far away from any places that carried them. In addition, you can visit our model page to guide you in finding the best colors for your foundation and concealer, and it also gives fun looks and application tips. If you are just interested in finding your foundation match, we offer a generous foundation sample for only a penny.

And more consultation fun: we now have a wonderful Sonoma County Personal Consultant. Leslie Camarri can be reached at, and is currently offering free personal consults and makeup lessons in the Santa Rosa area. She is also available for hosting MM parties in the Sonoma County area. Interested in becoming a consultant like Leslie? Please contact us at .

Leslie is also our gorgeous model demonstrating a great daytime look. One of my favorite new ideas about this look is the layering of the lip gloss colors for an entire new color. Please see our model page and color guide for more information on her colors. Makeup by Marianella Brey, Mantras. Photography by Tammie Gilchrist.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dr. Berrettini's Summer Obsessions

My favorite season in CA is summer! This summer has involved traveling for business to some areas with hot temperatures such as Cloverdale and Willits in CA. Thankfully, our makeup beats the heat. My VERY favorite summer obsessions for looking and feeling freshly done in the heat (and everyday Fort Bragg temperatures) are the Complexion Perfection Veil and our MendoTherapy Mists. I put on Foundation in the morning and just pack my Veil and Mist for throughout the day and into the evening. I used to have to put on a new face for an evening out. The time and money saving are great, plus the aromatherapy of the Mists gives a mood enhanced refreshing experience. My other makeup summer obsessions are glowing cheeks (Westport Glow is my current personal favorite) and the resurrection of blue shades on the eyes for all ages, skin tones, and eye colors. Don’t worry about looking like you are from the eighties with our sheer yet dazzling, versatile Eye Dusters. We have a great sophisticated slate blue called Top of the World and you can make any shade from Teal to Periwinkle, layered or mixed with Glass Beach Green or Wild Iris. It is so much fun to find new colors and looks each day.

Away from makeup, my summer obsessions include: La Petite Rive in Little River, shopping at La Tre (all three of their locations), the new Company Store Bar in Fort Bragg, yoga, True Blood, doing photo shoots, our new website, and having the chance to work with good friends. Before I sign off, I want to elaborate a little more on the last three. Below is a picture from the Cloverdale Market, where my new Sonoma County Consultant, Leslie Camarri, and I did makeovers at Tranquility Massage and Spa, owned by Stephanie Reitzell. Leslie Camarri, is not only a great consultant currently giving free makeovers in the Santa Rosa area, but runs Hot Fire Design and is my web designer. I have been able to do multiple photo shoots with professional photographer, Tammie Gilchrist including ones with Stephanie, Leslie and Marianella Brey which can all be seen on our models page. All of these women have made my summer a blast and there is more to come.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Welcome to Dr. Berrettini's Mendocino Minerals Blog

Welcome to the first Blog of Dr. Berrettini’s Mendocino Minerals! We are so excited to be able to share what is going on in the personal world of our business. Myself, Mia (or commonly known as Dr. Mia or Dr. Berrettini) is thrilled to share a recent and very special photo shoot. We are redoing our website (just launched by Hot Fire Design), brochures and more, so photography has been a top priority. The professional photographer we have been working with is Tammie Gilchrist. You can find her AMAZING work at Tammie Gilchrist Photography. I went to High School with Tammie and my model, Stephanie Reitzall. These two fabulous women made this day absolutely full of laughter and fun. Stephanie and I go back many, many years and she now owns Tranquility Massage and Spa in Cloverdale and sells Mendocino Minerals at her shop. Getting back to the shoot and makeup we used to make Steph’s eyes as green as possible, which was her only request. Well, you can see the three of us pulled it off. Her skin created a perfect flawless canvas with Coastal Light-Medium Foundation and Big River Bronze to make her eyes the center of attention. Her lids, crease and inner corners were brought out with light, iridescent shades of Trillium and California blonde. The center of attention was her eye liner. We pulled off an Emerald Green liner all around her lashes by layering Glass Beach Green Eye Duster over Black Bear Eye Liner (both used damp) which was the color that was the centerpiece of her request. This is a HUGE part of what makes our business different. With a couple colors, you can create new colors, blend to create rainbows, layer, use your cheek color on your eyes and lips. So much fun. Yes, fun!!! We love hearing from you about your own creations, so please keep them coming.