The Real Girl


More milk of magnesia miracles

Danielle Bisbano - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

In my last article, I hailed the wonders of Milk of Magnesia as a deodorant. Those of you who have tried it have already confirmed how remarkably effective it is. The fun doesn’t stop there, though!

Did you know that Milk of Magnesia also does some fantastic things for oily skin? It’s true! Milk of Magnesia is a very simple, natural product. Technically comprised of sodium hydroxide and water, it has a naturally drying quality. This is what makes it great for oily skin. There are oodles of articles online about using it as a cleanser, a facial mask, a spot treatment and/or a primer. Its effects on acne were even reported on over 30 years ago. Check out this Archives of Dermatology article from 1975 on the JAMA website:

As a primer, Milk of Magnesia instantly mattifies the skin and subtly blurs imperfections. Simply apply a thin layer with your fingertips or a cotton ball or pad and let dry. This should be your last step before applying makeup so you will want to apply your usual skincare products first. For those of you with oily skin, you are really going to see a big difference.

There are plenty of primers out there to choose from if you have oily skin. Before you invest a small fortune on one that is probably loaded with chemicals, why not give this one a try. For less than five dollars and a proven track record, what do you have to lose?

(photo credit:

The Real Girl

Milk of magnesia is a medicine cabinet miracle worker

Danielle Bisbano - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Stroll through the Whole Body section of your local Whole Foods and you will find boatloads of hair, skin and beauty products. Do you know why? Because these are the more natural versions of the products that you probably use every day. The fact that they are showing up at Whole Foods should at least make you pay attention. The reason they are there is because the drugstore and salon brands are often loaded with chemicals of various natures and other undesirables. Deodorant is no exception.

Most anti-perspirant/deodorants contain aluminum. Without getting into all the details and exploring a plethora of undoubtedly conflicting reports on the safety of such an ingredient, let’s just assume that we don’t want to be putting aluminum on our skin, especially so very close to our lymph nodes. But if we eliminate aluminum, we are basically taking the anti-perspirant out of the equation all together so try a talc-free baby powder or cornstarch instead. So now we need to find an effective, all natural deodorant. There are dozens to choose from, that’s for sure. Let me know if you ever find one that actually works! There is a solution, though. One you would probably never guess.

The star of part one of the medicine cabinet miracle worker is Milk of Magnesia. Yes, Milk of Magnesia. As in the laxative. Surprise! This stuff works incredibly well for women AND men. One bottle will cost you about five dollars and will last you for at least six months. Try to find a generic brand as the Phillips brand contains an additional ingredient which is a form of bleach; the generic brands are even more natural. Simply pour out a small amount in your hand and massage in with your fingers or a cotton pad. If you prefer a thicker consistency, you can pour some in a separate container and leave the lid off to let it dry out a little and therefore thicken slightly to make it easier to apply.
Milk of Magnesia is colorless and odorless and works perfectly on its own but it also makes a great base for your own homemade deodorant concoction. You could add some baking soda, essential oils of tea tree or lavender and some apple cider vinegar to name a few. Do a little research and make your own master mix.

Amazed? Just wait until you try it. Oh, and we’re not done with M.O.M. just yet. She’s got a few other tricks up her sleeve. Stay tuned …

The Real Girl

A different kind of morning brew

Danielle Bisbano - Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Drinking water first thing in the morning is a wonderful habit to get into if you’re not doing it already. Believe it or not, when you wake up in the morning you are starting your day slightly dehydrated. Drinking a glass of water helps to rehydrate you and is said to aid in eliminating toxins that have accumulated during the night as well as help to regulate your bowels and jump start your metabolism. Assuming you are drinking filtered, spring or mineral water (never unfiltered tap water), this habit alone is very beneficial. How about making it even better by substituting tea for plain water?
The health benefits of tea are widely documented. Here is an easy way to get more tea in your repertoire and start reaping the health benefits right away. It’s called the cold brew and it couldn’t be easier. Before you go to bed, place two tea bags in a large glass jar and fill with cool or room temperature water. Leave it out overnight and when you get up you will have a jar of healthy, cold-brewed tea. Drink this instead of water and you will be rehydrating yourself while enjoying all of the beneficial properties of the tea. Research suggests that cold brewed teas retain even more health-promoting properties than their hot-brewed counterparts. Here is an article that goes into greater detail about some of these benefits.
Do you have a specific health issue that you want to address? Choose a tea specifically for that concern. Stomach issues? Try some ginger tea. If you want to fight the free radicals that contribute to aging, try cold brewing some green tea. If stress is getting to you, how about chamomile?
One bonus is that it tastes better than plain water. You can even save some to use in place of milk or water for your morning smoothie. Double bonus? Use the teabags as wonderful, completely natural, antioxidant-rich toner pads for your face; no cotton balls needed. Just gently squeeze out the excess tea and swipe the bag across your skin and let it dry naturally. How easy is that?
So get up and get drinking … tea, of course!

The Real Girl

How to find your favorite makeup-part three

Danielle Bisbano - Monday, October 01, 2012

 We’ve already discussed two ways to find your favorite beauty products: online reviews and makeup tutorials. For the third and final installment we will discuss the tried and true avenue of magazines. Flip through any fashion magazine and you are going to find something about cosmetics and skin care in it. With Allure, however, it’s really what they do. Every month this magazine is jam-packed with makeup tips and reviews leading up to their yearly Best of Beauty issue. This is a special issue that they have been doing for 15 years and features editor and reader reviews on hundreds of products. They review everything; foundations, eye shadows, nail polishes, moisturizers, sunscreens and everything in between. Granted, just because someone else likes a product (or even a certain shade of it) doesn’t mean that you will, or should, like it too. However, this yearly list can be a great starting point to research some products that you may be interested in. We learned how to do that in part one, remember?

Hopefully, you have found these tips informative. It’s not easy navigating through the mass of products and promises that bombard us at every turn. You have to do your homework and use your common sense to make educated decisions. Online reviews, makeup tutorials and beauty magazines can help you along the way. In the end, though, all that matters is what you like and what works for you.

Just remember that when you find your can’t-live-without beauty product, by all means tell me about it!

The Real Girl

How to find your favorite makeup-part two

Danielle Bisbano - Saturday, September 01, 2012

In part two of how to find your favorite makeup, we are going to explore the benefits of video tutorials. Videos can be a wonderful way to learn of new products and techniques that you may not have known about before. They tend to merge with products reviews simply because it comes naturally to rave about an item that you really like, especially while you are using it. Since anyone, literally anyone, can post a makeup tutorial video, common sense comes in handy here. Don’t listen to someone who obviously knows nothing about makeup. Stick with the professionals and/or the more well-known artists and enthusiasts because, chances are, they are popular for a reason.

The Makeup Geek, Marlena, really knows her stuff. Here is a sample video about how to conceal under eye circles. These videos are great because they are professional quality and she always lists the products she uses so you can see them in action. The tutorials are grouped topically which makes it easier to find what you are looking for. She focuses almost entirely one makeup with some hair tutorials here and there. Just by browsing through some of the videos you may learn about a new product to do further research on. This is how I first heard of INGLOT which is a line I don’t know how I ever lived without! The Makeup Geek eye shadows are also excellent. Thanks, Marlena!

I’m sure there are plenty of other videos out there that can teach you a thing or two so feel free to browse but please, proceed with caution. Not every makeup enthusiast with a video camera and a YouTube account is an expert.

In part three of the series we’ll weigh the pros and cons of yet another avenue of evaluating makeup purchases. Magazines.

The Real Girl

(photo credit: St. Pierre Photography)

How to find your favorite makeup: Part one

Danielle Bisbano - Thursday, August 09, 2012

How many cosmetics brands can you name off the top of your head? You’re already mentally rattling off Maybelline, Cover Girl, L’Oreal. Those are easy! How about a few more? Lancome, Estee Lauder, Clinique? Of course you have heard of them. But what about INGLOT, KohGenDo or Jordana? Maybe not. Why is that? One word: advertising.


Try to flip though a fashion magazine without finding an ad for one or even all of these companies. Most of these brands use mega celebrities to represent their brands. Lancome has Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet and Emma Watson to name a few. Revlon has Emma Stone, Halle Berry and Olivia Wilde and the list could go on and on. These are huge corporations with really big budgets but there are literally hundreds of other brands out there that you have probably never heard of simply because you have never seen an advertisement. Some may be expensive but lots of them are not. This is where some industry-specific tools can really come in handy.


If you are interested in makeup, or obsessed with it like I am, you should know about a few great ways to wade through the endless choices of products and find the ones that are really worth your time and money. The cosmetics industry is a multi-billion dollar business. Don’t be a casualty with an empty wallet and only your makeup graveyard to show for it (you have one and you know it). We’re going to explore three great methods, one at a time, that you can use to make smart decisions about your makeup and skin care purchases.


First, we will consider online reviews. Let’s say you already know the product you are thinking of buying. Google any product name and you will find the vendors that sell it and, likely, a 1-5-star rating. This might be enough to get you started and help you decide if it is still worth looking into. When you see a product on Sephora with a thousand reviews and just about five stars, chances are it is probably pretty good! If that’s enough for you to justify your purchase, you’re all set. If you want more detail or want to learn about great products that you never have even heard of, then Makeup Alley is the place. This is a really helpful site. You can look up just about any product (makeup, skin care, hair care, etc.) and you will get detailed reviews and ratings from real people that have actually used it. One important thing to keep in mind: pay attention to the number of reviews for the item you are researching. An obscure product with just one review and 5-star rating probably won’t hold up against a product with 500 reviews and a 4-star rating. It's a numbers game and this is a place where quantity matters. Makeup Alley is a wonderful resource for learning how products work (and don't work!) in the real world. Valuable details like “this color actually comes out more red than brown” can be your deciding factor when trying to pick out a new lipstick.


In the next article we will explore another tool with valuable insights. Video tutorials.



Love the Skin You're In!

Danielle Bisbano - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

You are what you eat.  How long has that phrase been around? A long time.  You know why?  Because it’s true!  The same reasoning goes for what we put on our skin.  Our skin is our largest organ and what we put on it goes directly into our bloodstream minus the benefits and protection of our digestive system.  We really need to be aware of this and cooperate by making sure we are using safe, natural products whenever possible.   

Have you ever heard this one:  “Don’t put it on your body unless you can eat it.”  Great advice and a noble venture but it’s not entirely practical for a lot of women.  I like to pick my battles and here is how I do it.

As I started writing this, I realized that there are several factors that I consider every time I make a skin care, body care and/or cosmetics purchase whether I am aware of it or not.  The basic considerations are: surface area, duration and permeability.  Let’s go through them one at a time, shall we?


 Surface area:  are we comparing a body lotion to a cuticle cream?  Let’s be realistic; it is much more important that what you are slathering over your WHOLE BODY be natural than something that covers three square inches.  I’m no math whiz but this is basic stuff.  This is the reasoning behind why I am more likely to use whatever eye shadow without obsessing but I probably won’t use a “junk” moisturizer on my whole face.

Duration: are we comparing something that you are going to be using every day or only once in a while.  How about how long you will have it on your skin?  Like the difference between a face mask that you wash off in 20 minutes versus a serum that you have on for 16 hours.  To me, it matters. 

Permeability: this one is really important to me.  It’s the products that I use in the shower that I am the most discerning about.  When you are in the shower or taking a bath, your pores are open and every square inch of you is getting washed with something (hopefully).  You really want to be careful here with soaps, body washes, shampoo and conditioner.  You’re like a little sponge soaking everything up and when you are taking a bath, it’s like your own private marinade.  Don’t use this opportunity to drown yourself in chemicals!  There are so many other options and they are all easily accessible.  No excuses!

With all of these factors, there is one more to consider.  It is what you do on a daily basis that really matters.  You don’t have to go crazy worrying about every little thing.  It’s all about balance.  On that note, do yourself a favor.  Buy yourself one bottle of natural body wash, shampoo and conditioner and you will give yourself months of chemical-free cleansing.  Want to do one better?  Do the same for a friend.  How easy is that?

Here are just a few products that I have tried and love.  No, I do not work for these people.  I’m just a happy customer.

Savannah Essentials:

Free shipping if you spend $75.  Treat yourself to deliciously scented body washes, soaps, lotions, bath salts and more.  These products are amazing!

John Masters Organics:

Salon quality natural hair and skin care products.  I have not tried the skin care products but I love the shampoos, conditioners and pomades. 


Okay, I actually DO work for these people now but only because I fell in love with the products first.  The most amazing, clean skin care line I have found.  The results are just phenomenal!

Oh, and tell your skin I said “you’re welcome” ;-)

The Real Girl

The Best Skin Care Products You Have Never Heard of and Probably Never Will (unless you read this)

Danielle Bisbano - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I was trying to figure out how long I have been experimenting with cleansers, toners, moisturizers and the like.  I remember my mom buying me my first eye cream when I was 12 because she had heard that it was the age that your eye area stopped producing moisture.  I have no idea if that is true but I have no complaints about my mom getting me started with taking care of my skin at an early age.  To this day, I have never gone to bed with makeup on and I am sure I have tried hundreds of products in my life so far.  At this point I feel like I am at least a little qualified to offer an educated opinion.  Oh, and I’m picky, remember?

Let me start off by saying that I am not immune to advertising.  There is a reason why it is so effective and expensive; those people know what they are doing!   I have fallen for my share of gimmicky products over the years, trying my darnedest to convince myself that I really liked something because of what the label SAID it was supposed to do.  I don’t want to waste time thinking for too long about useless purchases lest my brain decides to do some quick calculations and blindsides me with some obscene dollar amount of wasted concoctions.  Instead, I want to let you know about some products that I truly adore and have repeatedly gone back to too many times to count.  I finally decided that the grass really is NOT greener on the other side and to just stick with them for good. 




Why do I feel  so compelled to tell you about this line?  Mostly for the reason that unless I did, I am pretty sure you would never even know it existed.  The products are manufactured by a company whose main product is supplements.  There is not much to choose from for the skin care.  Once cleanser, one toner and a few treatments.  This is a no frills kind of deal.  I want to tell you what my picky self uses and loves and where you can find them because I can pretty much guarantee you will never see them in a store.

The name of the line is Premier Research Labs.  They are located in Austin, Texas and, in case you are wondering, I have no affiliation with them whatsoever.  They happen to manufacture some of the best quality supplements that you can find anywhere; free of fillers and preservatives.  I have a lot of respect for this company which is why I was anxious to try the skin care products in the first place.  All I can say is that my skin loves this stuff.  I have never had perfect skin so to find something that really works and improves it is exciting for me.  The best part is that these products are CLEAN.  You can’t find more natural skin care products anywhere so you can feel good about using them (I’ll rant more about this later).  Everything is unscented so there is no strong perfume smell to anything.  They are simply effective.  Here is what I use:

Facial Cleanser (self-explanatory, I think)

Facial Tonic (toner)

Skin Serum (antioxidant “lotion” that has the consistency of water)

Lipid Complex (moisturizing oil; I have oily skin and I love this stuff so anyone can use it.  It has an “earthy” smell due to the sandalwood oil)

To get everything would probably cost you somewhere around $60.  Not bad, huh?  I like to mix 3-4 drops of the Lipid Complex with 5-6 drops of the Skin Serum and apply it all at once.  It feels (and smells) soooooo good.

Now, how to get this stuff if you are still reading … this is the hard part.  Even just trying to look up the products to clarify the names was much more difficult than it should be!  My friend Erica Hockley is a certified nutritional consultant and has been selling PRLabs (Premier Research Labs) products for over six years.  Though the PRLabs products are not listed on her website (see link below), if you email her directly she will be more than happy to take care of you (at up to a 25% discount).

I want to share these products with you especially because they are so natural.  If you use this regimen, you will have completely eliminated chemicals in four personal care products alone.  Things that you use every day.  That is huge!  I’ll talk more about body care and hair care some other time.  So use up all your Dove body wash and Pantene shampoo now!  By the time I’m done you’ll be throwing it all away (I hope!)

Feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer!  And if you do decide to try these products, let me know what you think!

Over and out.

The Real Girl

To reach Erica to place an order: or

Beauty and the Budget

Danielle Bisbano - Saturday, January 01, 2011

In my daily struggle to NOT buy more makeup that I don’t really need, I have stumbled across some really great buys.

I’m a sucker for quality and I have expensive taste.  That being said, money does not grow on trees so I am always on the lookout for effective, high-quality cosmetics that are reasonably priced.  This is a venture that, in and of itself, can be pricey because of the very trial and error nature of it.  But I ask you, why should you have to go through all of that?  Knowledge should be shared and I love to share!  Here are just a few products that I think you’ll really like and that won’t make you go broke!

First things first.  Inglot.  I have not bought a thing from them that I did not absolutely love.  The quality is amazing, the colors are brilliant and the price point is remarkably low.  My favorites are the Freedom System items that I can pop into an empty magnetic Z Palette.  With prices like $5.00 for an eye shadow and $4.00 for a lipstick, how can you go wrong?  My biggest gripe with them is the lack of descriptions of ANYTHING on their site.  It’s a little maddening.  Despite that, I have managed to make several purchases that I am very happy with.  I have since “met” Hayden from the Chelsea store.  He is in charge of all the social media for Inglot and is a wealth of information and just a pleasure to talk to.  He is happy to provide any information that you need about the products on the site.  You can reach him by phone at 212.672.7124, email at or ask him via Twitter or Facebook.  I just love this line!





NYX is all or nothing for me.  Some of their products I adore and some are total junk (sorry, but true!)  One item that is a consistent performer is their Slim Lip Pencil.  I love the consistency and there are a ton of colors to choose from.  They are long-wearing and, especially if you get them from Beauty Joint, are dirt cheap at $2.39 a pop.    

Okay, one more (for now).  Crown Brush.  Yes, they sell mostly makeup brushes but tools are important and theirs are cruelty-free, high quality and very reasonable.  They also sell makeup palettes.  I have to confess, I bought a few eye shadow palettes and a lipstick palette from Haute Look with the intention of just using them just to “play” with but I was pleasantly surprised with the pigment concentration and staying power.  Again, very reasonably priced items.

So there you have it.  Now go have some fun.

Well, hello there!

Danielle Bisbano - Friday, December 31, 2010

Is this thing on … ?

Okay, first things first.  My name is Danielle and this is my first blog post so go easy on me!  I’d love to give you a mission statement but I don’t really have one yet so we’re just going to have to forget about that for now.  I’d like to think I have a plan, though.  Simply put, I love makeup and beauty and skincare and everything else that comes with the territory and I always have.  I love to read about it and play with it and learn about it whenever I can.  After years of obsessing, I finally decided to pursue makeup artistry as a career and my only wish is that I did it sooner.  So now I have a fresh new perspective and purpose for all my lipstick lust and cosmetic coveting and fashion magazine reading.  It’s all market research (and a write off!).  Pinch me.

I plan to share what I know, what I learn and what I like for the benefit of whomever wants to “listen.”  Here and there I’ll probably throw in a little something about health and nutrition or the kind of beauty that really matters because, at the end of the day, that’s the stuff that really matters.

My goal is to create a blog that I would want to read.  I’m kinda picky so the stakes are high.  Here goes nothing!

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