Archive for category Cleanser

Collective reviews: new skincare goodies!

Though my makeup wearing days have been minimal of late (and when I do wear it, its a quick slap-dash affair – concealer, mascara, blush, gloss), and as such, my makeup buying is next-to-none, I have been indulging in some skincare splurges to keep my beauty habit alive. The benefits are two-fold: having great products to look forward to using means I make the (often challenging) effort to keep good skincare habits; and maintaining a routine means my skin needs less makeup anyway (thankfully!). Last month I stumbled across e-tailer Integrity Botanicals – which has several brands with products on my wishlist – and as I needed replenishment on a few things, I went all in. *I’ve included links below (non-affiliate) to each brand’s website if you’re interested in learning more, as these may be brands you’ve not heard of before!

Organic skincare

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst ($70USD) is a refining and exfoliating serum that is designed to ‘deliver all the cosmetic benefits of retinoid preparations without any harsh chemicals, redness, peeling, or thinning of skin’. It boasts fermented pumpkin enzymes to exfoliate, Hawaiian sea algae and Xylitylglucosides to hydrate, and supercritical extractions of rosehip seed and sea buckthorn to repair irritated or chapped skin.

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

The evening-only serum is very lightweight and spreads easily over the skin, and is completely non-greasy (though it does leave it a touch tacky). The scent is lightly fruity and pleasant. I apply about a half-dropper full (they recommend 1-2 but I don’t find I need quite that much) all over my face & neck and let it absorb for about 5 minutes before applying a treatment oil on top (Pai’s rosehip oil). Guys, this stuff is GOOD. After using it just once, my skin felt so smooth in the morning, and subsequent uses has helped clear up the bit of hormonal acne I’ve had (likely due to the inclusion of willowback extract, which acts similarly to salicylic acid) and refine the areas where I’ve got scarring from said spots. I am particularly pleased that it contains no essential oils, which I tend to avoid – despite their ‘natural-ness,’ they still have the potential for skin irritation. I am LOVING this product and it will be a definite repurchase for me (very rare)!

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

For the past six months, I’ve been using either plain, organic grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil to remove my makeup, and they’ve worked well, but lately I’ve been feeling like picking up something a little more…interesting. African Botanics Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ($60USD) is an emulsifying cleansing oil (meaning you can just wash it off with water) that gently exfoliates while removing makeup and purifying the skin. Marula oil’s antioxidant properties help cells renew and resist damage, aid in stimulating microcirculation and minimizes redness and irritation.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil

The cleanser has a thicker viscosity (compared to say, One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil), and requires 3-4 pumps to enable you to massage it into the skin. The scent (this DOES contain essential oils, but since its a rinse-off product I’m not as concerned) is a fruity-vanilla blend that is quite nice if not a touch sweet. Though you can just add water to emulsify after massaging it in for 1 minute, I still prefer to remove it with a microfiber cloth, though for traveling and whatnot I do appreciate that this can be rinsed away easily.

As I haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, I haven’t used this too much yet, but from what I’ve seen so far its a nice option for makeup removal/as a first cleanse. I have used it a couple times on its own with no issues, but I’m not sure I would make a habit of it with my clog-prone skin.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ingredients

I’ve been reading raves about Josh Rosebrook products for a while now, particularly for his Deep Nourishing Shampoo and the Active Enzyme Exfoliator ($60USD), the latter which I added to my online basket at the last minute. I’d been wanting to get an exfoliating mask, as I have a good purifying one (Yüli’s Pure) and a nice hydrating option (Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask) and I like a good trifecta.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

The mask is designed to ‘stimulate skin cell growth; ignite collagen and elastin production; reduce fine lines, age spots and sun damage; tighten, tone and shrink pores; and improve overall radiance.’ Seems like tall claims, but I think any exfoliating product essentially will have these results – thats why exfoliation is so key ;)  Its the method of exfoliation that lured me in – the mask uses both ‘chemical’ (plant, herb and fruit enzymes) and manual (via very finely ground walnut shells) exfoliants to get the job done.

I put this mask on one day when my mom was over and holding the baby (gotta capitalize on those opportunities when you can!) and she said it looked like I wiped the baby’s poop all over my face, hence this post on Instagram:

A diaper change gone wrong, or @joshrosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator? ;)

A photo posted by @xbeautyobsessed on

I like this mask – its non-irritating, and you can leave it on from 10 minutes up to an hour – the kind people at Integrity Botanicals suggested 45 mins in a sweet personalized note they left in my package. After I rinsed off my mom said that I was looking pretty glowing, so sounds like it works! The exfoliating effect is gentle but thorough.

I somehow misplaced the box this came in, but here is the ingredient list for reference:

Ingredients: Organic honey, organic vegetable glycerin, organic lecithin, organic herbal extracts of neem leaf, yucca root, sage, stevia leaf, eyebright, coneflower (echinacea), fennel powder, horsetail, bilberry, chickweed, comfrey, slippery elm, peppermint, bladderwrack, lavender flowers, calendula flowers, white willow bark, skullcap, ginkgo leaf, green tea, alfalfa, hawthorne berry, gotu kola, marshmallow root, st. john’s wort, yerba mate, solomon’s seal root, rosemary leaf, papaya enzyme, walnut shells, certified organic xanthan gum, organic essential oils of lemon, cypress, fennel.

Finally, I needed a new facial mist/toner and though I was very tempted to buy yet another bottle of one of Yüli’s Elixirs, I noticed the new MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ($68USD) on the site, and decided to try it instead (same price & size as the Yüli too). It also does not contain essential oils (only a hydrosol and a few extracts), and the overall ingredient list is lovely: rose blossoms to hydrate and soothe; antioxidant-rich prickly pear (opuntia ficus-indica) and goji berry for environmental protection and anti-aging; hyaluronic acid to bind water to skin; and willow bark extract to smooth and refine.

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner

I’m really enjoying this toner – I can actually feel it soothing and softening my skin, and the rose scent is beautiful and calming. I’m also a sucker for anything in a miron bottle. Though my bottle requires the use of a cotton pad to apply, it’s since available with a spray-nozzle attachment, which I would prefer. Definitely a contender against the Yüli!

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ingredients

I’m super-pleased with all my purchases, and excited to have found a few gems that I’ll actually add to my permanent stock (the Kypris serum and MUN toner are must-haves); I’m also really impressed with Integrity Botanicals as an online retailer and I intend to purchase again from them very soon! I still have a few more products on my list that I plan to buy in the next little while ~wallet backs away screaming~  and I have three products from affordable Canadian eco-brand Graydon to still show you as well (yes, I have gone a bit crazy since being on maternity leave)….so though posts are infrequent, I promise they’ll be worth the wait ;)

Have you come across any standout skincare products lately?

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Trialing a few more goodies from Amie Skincare

I meant to write this post much sooner but alas, I have been delinquent. As mentioned, straight review posts don’t DO it much for me lately, and sometimes I’m hard-pressed to come up with a unique way to showcase a product. I haven’t been struck by inspiration for this post, either (sorry), but these two products deserve a mention so let’s get to it!

Amie Skincare

If you recall, I wrote a review on a handful of Amie products already – a gentle skincare line available at Shoppers (yay!) that focuses on high-quality, naturally-derived plant and botanical extracts in their formulas. This time around, I was sent their Bright Eyes Very Gentle Eye Make Up Remover, and the Morning Clear Purifying Facial Wash.

The Eye Make Up Remover contains cornflower water and chamomile to gently remove eye makeup without irritation. There is something about these cornflower-based makeup removers that I really enjoy – it’s the basis of the MaxxEffects Naturals Eye & Face Makeup Remover that I’ve been using for months now, and it’s so effective yet gentle on my eye area. I found this version to behave in the same way, so when the MaxxEffects runs out, this will be my next go-to.

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There is only one thing funny about the remover that I noticed when taking photos of the ingredients:

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Uhh….WHAT? So, you want to avoid contact with the eyes when using this EYE MAKEUP REMOVER???? I don’t get it, dudes. Nonetheless, this doesn’t cause me any irritation or issues, so maybe don’t worry about this bit too much? Still, it IS kinda strange…

Next, we have the Purifying Facial Wash. This pH balanced cleaner is soap-free and is designed to remove all dirt, oil and makeup without stripping or drying the skin. You can use it day or night, and it claims to leave your skin feeling soft, deeply cleansed and refreshed.

Here’s the ingredient list:

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Erm, so the first issue I have with this cleanser is that it’s creamy – like, REALLY creamy, guys. Not at all what I was expecting from a ‘purifying’ cleanser, though with cocoa seed butter listed as the 3rd ingredient, I’m not surprised. This reminds me a lot of Clinique’s Comforting Cream Cleanser, but maybe even a bit thicker. Clinique’s cleanser is ideal for drier skins, and is actually quite nice – it leaves the skin feeling comfortable which is imperative if you’re very dry. This gives me the same feeling – it doesn’t rinse off squeaky-clean, and leaves a hint of moisture behind after rinsing. That’s all well and good if you DO have a drier skin, but for my combination-oily skin, this is a no-go. I think this cleanser would be well-suited for drier skins with congestion or maybe suffering from breakouts – the fruit extracts are supposed to assist with purifying and decongesting the skin, as well as help tone pores and refresh skin. For me, this cleanser was just too heavy – I didn’t feel refreshed but rather a bit over-moisturized, truth be told.

The second issue I have with this is the fragrance, which is the biggest complaint I had with the products I tried in my original review. For a scent-phobe like myself, this is just too much – and ‘parfum’ is listed quite high on the ingredient list, so it’s no surprise. I didn’t use this consistently enough to notice if it would cause irritation, so I can’t say for sure if it would be a problem or not, but if you’re sensitive to fragrance in product, I would just keep that in mind. It didn’t seem to be an issue with the eye makeup remover (which also contains fragrance), but you just never know.

So – we have a hit and a miss (for me, anyway). I really wish that brands would stop putting fragrance in their products, at least to such a high degree – it really is a drawback in my eyes. I know it’s part of the enjoyment when using skincare, but I just think it needs to be used with more discretion. ~shrugs~

Have you tried Amie Skincare yet? What are your thoughts on fragrance in skincare?

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Amie *Naturally Kind* Skincare – Now at Shoppers Drug Mart!

I know Tracy just reviewed this brand, but that’s what happens when you’re a blogger in Canada – there is bound to be overlap! And I always feel that each person can offer a different take on products, due to different skin types etc. A well-rounded view of a product is always a bonus :)

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In this neck of the woods, I’m loving all these new skincare brands landing at Shoppers these days! Launched in Canada on August 11th, the newest kid on the block is Amie Naturally Kind Skincare, which is an award-winning, gentle skincare line that uses high-quality, naturally-derived plant and botanical extracts in their formulas. They have a range of products, from cleansers, to masks, to moisturizers – and a few things in between (toners, exfoliants, and even a makeup remover!).

I received a nice array of products to test out, and unsurprisingly I got right to it! Here’s what I received, with it’s description along with a few of my thoughts:

IMG_3608Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash and Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash

“Gentle enough to use every day. Contains green apple, lemon and exfoliating blueberry seeds. Soap-free, oil-free.”   This daily wash is exceptionally gentle on the skin. I’m not sure how truly ‘exfoliating’ it is through the blueberry seeds so just a heads up if you’re looking for a nice scrubby feeling – but I guess the inclusion of green apple offers some chemical exfoliation through it’s acids. It foams up quite a bit, but I found that it left my skin feeling really nice – clean but not stripped in the least. The only real issue I had was that it didn’t rinse away too easily; the gel sort of stuck to the skin a bit so it took a bit of elbow grease to wash it all off.

IMG_3597Itty bitty scrubbies

IMG_3611Ingredients

Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

“A wonderfully refreshing deep-cleansing treatment that draws out dirt, oiliness and impurities leaving skin feeling clear, clean and smooth.”  The first time I tried this mask, I was terrified – a minute after application, there is this SERIOUS cooling sensation that bordered on burny-tingly, and I worried I was going to have a terrible reaction. However, after a few more minutes, the sensation dulls considerably and it’s just nice and refreshing. When I rinsed it away after 10 minutes, my skin felt lovely – fresh and smooth. I didn’t experience any adverse reaction to it at all, despite the scary-intense feeling at the beginning.

IMG_3600Thick clay texture

IMG_3612Ingredients

Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturiser

“Controls oiliness and shine, while hydrating and keeping skin soft. With rosehip, bilberry and Vitamin E.”  A beautifully light moisturizer, that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky or greasy. I found that this minimally controlled oiliness and shine on my combo-oily skin, but honestly – nothing has been working on my skin to keep the oiliness at bay on my t-zone, so I wasn’t surprised. If nothing else, it’s a great light hydrator that would work particularly well with combination to normal skins. And I gotta say, I love that rosehip is included in the ingredients!

IMG_3593Texture was somewhat gel-like – and beside the swatch, I rubbed some in; you can see how it didn’t leave my skin shiny or greasy

IMG_3614Ingredients

Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturiser

“Keeps skin soft, smooth and nourished all day long. Rich in rose extract, rosehip seed oil and mallow.”  As this sounded a bit heavier than the Morning Dew moisturizer, I used this in the evening. Again, it was nice and moisturizing without being heavy at all. It didn’t dry as ‘matte’ on my skin as the Matte-Finish moisturizer, but I still think it would be ideal on combo-normal to even slightly dry skins.

IMG_3595Slightly richer texture – and you can see it has a bit of sheen on my skin where I rubbed it in

IMG_3613Ingredients

I’m going to be up front with you: these products are all quite scented. It’s a wonderful scent – clean and fresh and quite pleasant, truly – but for this scent-adverse gal, it freaked me out A LOT and made my testing of these products somewhat limited. With the exfoliating wash and deep cleansing mask, I didn’t mind too much because they washed off, but I felt very uncomfortable wearing the two moisturizers, the scent of which I could smell on my skin all day long.  I only tested them a couple times each, because I just could NOT get past how scented they were. If you’re into scent in your skincare, or if it doesn’t bother you, I’d say these are great products to check out – affordable and free of paragons, sulphates, mineral oils and animal extracts. I don’t know if I’d recommend them for sensitive skins, as they say, due to the fragrance – but not all sensitive skin is sensitive to fragrance, so if scent doesn’t seem to irritate you, you should be fine.

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Have you seen Amie Skincare in Shoppers yet? How do you feel about scented products?

*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Clean up your act with One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil

Though not necessary for everyone, I personally prefer to use a different cleanser for day vs night – opting for a gentle wash in the morning and something more targeted to makeup removal in the evening. For a while I was doing the double-cleanse at night, using whatever two cleansers were in my arsenal, but I’ve been able to stop that practice recently when I purchase Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil, $39CAD (what a mouthful!!). It cleanses the skin so effectively that unless I’m wearing a full face of makeup (which is rare these days), I don’t require a second go-around. Anything that simplifies the ritual is a winner in my book!

One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil

Though I like the idea of using a cleansing balm or oil and wiping away the day with a soft cloth, I really LOVE the feeling of splashing my face clean at the end of the day – and going through so many face cloths was starting to drive me nuts. This cleanser does not require a cloth for removal (one of the few that offer that luxury); simply massage a pump or two of the medium-thick textured oil all over dry skin, splash a little water in there to emulsify, then rinse clean. DONE! The ease of use is what really sells me on this cleanser and all but ensures that I’ll be repurchasing once I run out.

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You may recall that I sampled this back at the end of last year, and I wasn’t a fan of the smell – tropical with a heavy dose of pineapple in there (due to the papain and papaya enzymes). Though I’m still not in love with the scent, it fails to bother me at all now, and some days breathing in the tropics isn’t such a bad thing (Calgon, take me away!). The rest of the ingredients are somewhat plain but nonetheless effective: caprylic/capric triglyceride is just another name for fractionated coconut oil, which is coconut oil that is made more stable, more disinfecting, and has a bigger boost of antioxidants all while having a much longer shelf life than regular coconut oil; and sunflower see oil is an excellent anti-inflammatory and full of vitamin E.

One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil ingredients

Though I have heard some say that oil cleansing dries their skin out a bit, for my skin type (slightly oily) this formula is just perfect – it thoroughly cleanses yet leaves skin feeling comfortable, soft and smooth. An all-around staple for me, I must say! Sometimes it’s not just what’s IN a product that appeals to you, but how the product will be used and if it suits your purposes. The OLO Cleansing Oil is perfect for me, both efficient and effective – what more could a gal ask for?

What is your makeup removal process? Do you use a cleansing oil?

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Green Beauty Regime, Take One – Pai & Stark Skincare

So it’s been almost a month since I started using nearly all green / organic beauty products and guys – it’s been sort of KICKASS.

This could get really rambly, really quick – so I’m gonna jump right in because otherwise we’ll both be here all night.  First, let’s start with the cleansers that have been keeping my skin fresh and clear over the past little while.

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Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm ($40CAD) was the first full-on green purchase I made back in September.  I ordered directly from the brand’s site, as they were having a promo I think, and also picked up my konjac sponge at the same time (though, I don’t use the sponge with the balm because I worry that the thickness of the balm will gunk it up <– obviously not a scientific determination).  I was nervous at first because it smells REALLY GOOD, kinda citrusy (but not in a fake way, in a MMMMMMMmmmm way), and you know how scared I am of fragrance – but, awesomely, I’ve had ZERO problems with this product.  I even took it on a trip to Newfoundland a few weeks ago as both my cleanser and moisturizer (as it is designed to handle both tasks) and was pleasantly surprized at how great my skin was the entire time, which is a feat in itself (travel can be rough on my touchy skin).

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The balm itself is quite lovely – it has a smooth, buttery texture, with little bits of raw cocoa butter that sort of get massaged in with everything else.  Truth be told, I don’t love these little bits, only because they don’t dissolve as fast as I’d like, and sometimes fall in and around my sink – but that’s just me being nitpicky.  In fact, they’re the ONLY thing I don’t love about the balm – everything else is fan-freakin’-tastic :)  You just massage a small amount into the skin, wash it away with a soft cloth, and voila!  Clean skin (that truly does feel clean) which also feels hydrated and cared for.  I use it mainly for this purpose – as a cleanser – and I am exceptionally impressed that this creamy balm removes all traces of makeup, dirt and oil AND hasn’t caused one breakout or reaction.  SOLD.

Ingredients of Stark Cleanse + Hydrate Balm: Shea fruit butter, virgin coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, soybean butter, candelilla wax, camellia seed oil, sweet almond oil, arrowroot powder, orange peel wax, vitamin E, pure essential oils.

Pai’s Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50CAD) was a freebie I received when I put in my Fresh Faced order for a few other Pai goodies late last month.  I wasn’t interested in it as my skin isn’t really dry (as this seemed best suited for), but figured I’d try it out nonetheless.  Winter is coming, after all.  Surprizingly, I quite enjoy it, and similarly to the Stark balm, it’s thick, creamy texture – that feels a bit heavy, like it might not cleanse and then wash away properly – is actually quite effective.  I have been using this as my second cleanse after the Stark balm (also wiping it away with a washcloth), and again, I’ve had no breakouts whatsoever – and in fact my pores are more cleaned out than ever!  Interestingly, it contains castor oil, which in my research I’ve discovered is anti-bacterial and a great humectant (binding water to the skin), and despite being a thicker oil is almost entirely non-comedogenic.  So that’s probably why I haven’t experienced any breakouts!

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Overall, it’s a great gentle cleanser that great for all skin types, even despite it’s thickness.  The only drawback I’ve found is that it doesn’t quite remove tenacious eye makeup – but for that, we have removers, right?

Oh, and it smells divine too – faintly like lemons (I think that’s the geranium in there!) :)

Ingredients of Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser: Organic rose water, water, organic camellia oil, organic castor oil, organic sweet almond oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic shea butter, organic vegetable glycerin, natural vitamin E, corn extract, basil extract, organic lavender oil, organic geranium oil, organic may chang oil, organic rose oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Next up, we have the hydrators.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I still have a few non-organic items I need to get through, but overall these are my go-to items that I have been wearing daily.

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Pai’s Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream ($48CAD) was seriously designed for me.  It’s formulated to clear and rebalance oily and combination skin, and my goodness does it ever do it well!!  This is the perfect day cream for my often ‘glistening’ skin – it absorbs quickly, leaving a velvet-like finish, and I don’t see any shine until nearly the end of the work day (when normally I’d need to blot by about 11am).  It contains Borage oil, a dry oil loaded with antioxidants that is one of the best oils for barrier repair, and which also helps reduce collagen destruction (woot!).

IMG_0496IMG_04972nd picture – after being rubbed in.  No shiny!

It also seems to give me that elusive glow that I’ve been trying to achieve all summer in vain (glowing goes quickly to greasy when you’re an oilier skin type), which is awesome.  Again, I’ve had absolutely NO adverse reactions to this moisturizer – it hydrates perfectly without being too heavy for day, and I haven’t had a single bout of eczema since I started using it.  BAM.   The scent of this one doesn’t blow my socks off – it’s kind of earthy with a slight lemony twist (again, the geranium)- but it’s not offensive in the least so there’s no problem there.  I would (and will) repurchase this in a heartbeat.  That is a rarity ’round these here parts – even great products usually get replaced for shiny new ones – so that’s saying something!

Ingredients of Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream: Purified water, organic jojoba oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic thistle oil, organic borage oil, natural vitamin E, organic vegetable glycerin, corn extract, manuka oil, basil extract, organic geranium oil, organic juniper oil, organic lavender oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Another product that is HIGHLY worth the repurchase is Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($35CAD).  Rosehip oil is a dry oil notorious for its ability to heal and repair the skin; it also contains trans-retinoic acid, which is converted to vitamin A in the skin to boost the healing process.  The function is similar to retinol, but with less irritation.  The oil is supposed to help improve the appearance of scars, sun damage, and fine lines.

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Now let me tell you.  I had two rather large pimples sprout up on my right cheek a few weeks back – they started as tiny clogged pores, and I stupidly tried to squeeze them ~d’oh~.  I was bummed that they were going to leave a scar (as acne usually does for me), especially as I was going to a wedding in a couple weeks.  Well lo and behold, no word of a lie, but not only did those full-on pimples run their course in record time (I’m talking like, three days MAX), but the scars also significantly faded before the day of the wedding – so much so that all I needed to cover them was a bit of foundation.  Truly, I was shocked at how quickly the turnover was, as it usually takes months before my acne scars disappear.  Miracle product?  I’m thinking YES.

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On top of all that fabulosity, I find that this oil is, again, perfect for my oilier skin, and I can use this as my sole hydrator each evening without requiring an additional moisturizer.  It sinks in fairly quickly, and the scent – which to me smells sort of like green tea – dissipates within minutes as well.  And again, no breakouts, only great skin!  What’s not to love?  I haven’t noticed any anti-aging effects yet, but I mean…I don’t really have a lot of ‘aging’ to fix just yet, so…yea.  But overall, I absolutely love this oil and will repurchase in a heartbeat.  And at $35??  Ummmm it’s kinda the cheapest one around guys!

Ingredients of Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil: Organic rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, organic rosa canina (rosehip) fruit extract, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).

So Pai is sort of knocking it out of the park for me.  Both the moisturizer and the oil were also Beauty Award Winners according to Bazaar magazine in 2011.  I usually take those ‘award’ thingys with less than a grain of salt (editors are basically paid to talk up certain products), but turns out in this case the awards were well justified!

As you can order samples from Fresh Faced for $0.75 each, I put in an order a couple weeks ago to try out most of May Lindstrom’s line (quick synopsis: meh on The Youth Dew {which is great – saves me $125!!!}, enjoyed The Cleansing Dirt and The Problem-Solver…but not enough to purchase at the moment), as well as a couple products from One Love Organics (the Easy Does It cleanser is lovely and a multi-tasker for face, body, and hair – I MUST buy for travel; and the Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum is quite nice!).  I love this option, as I can decide just what I want items from my massive list I want to spend my money on….though truth be told I’d kinda like to own one of everything! :D

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I’ve been having such a great time experimenting and trying out new products, more so than I ever have in the past.  It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to just jump right in with something new and not have to worry about how my skin will react.  So far, I haven’t had one set back in all the items I’ve tried, and my skin has honestly never looked or felt better.  Even in circumstances like traveling where I’m not in my usual surroundings (which means, bedsheets washed with fragrance free/dye-free-everything-free detergent; no pets; etc), I’ve found my skin’s resilience has improved ten-fold, and I have hardly had a blip on the radar in terms of skin’s reactivity.  I’m not knocking ‘regular’ products in the least – I think they have some great technology out there, and in some cases are more effective than organic skincare products – but for me, the reduction in inflammation (which additionally can speed up aging) and the freedom to try anything without fear, is an absolute dream.  Plus, I have been having more fun with my skincare rituals that I ever have, and washing and treating my face has never been so enjoyable :)

Aside from the brands I’ve mentioned, are their any other green/organic lines I should be investigating??

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A Stupidly Large Empties Post (Prepare Thyself)

I’m just going to start by letting out a huge ~GROAN~ before beginning this post.  OMG dudes.  I’ve been putting this off for AGES and it’s going to get crazy.  I suggest getting comfortable with multiple snacks and a beverage of your choice.  Let’s get ‘er done.

Empties #1 2013 (2)Bustin’ out my empties bag!

Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to post this is because I have had so many products thisclose to being finished, and just when its used up, another takes it’s place.  I’ve got a handful sitting on my counter that are probably going to be done in a week or so, but I can’t wait any longer – and honestly, I’m in the business of entertaining you, not wasting all of your time and punishing your eyes and scrolling fingers.  So here we are!

Empties #1 2013

I’ve said this far too many times and not held my word, but seriously – I’m going to keep the wordiness to a minimum.  Let’s start with makeup this time, since that’s always what I find most difficult to finish:

Empties #1 2013 - Makeup

OK.  The good: I finished 4 eyeliners!  UD’s 24/7 in Crash (shimmering eggplant), Lise Watier’s Gold Eyeshine (which is so old that it kept smushing down into the pencil so I’m turfing it), and two black shades (Tarte Starry Night and MUFE 0L, both which were fine, but smudged more than I’d like).  I’ve since bought Chanel’s Noir Intense waterproof liner to replace the two blacks, and so far so good.  Also good is Clinique’s Bottom Lash mascara, which seems SO gimmicky but which is actually awesome.  The Chanel bi-phase remover is a sample and was good but nothing crazy.

The bad (or just OK): MUFE’s Star Collection gloss in S4 – smooth and not too sticky, but it has this weird cast to it that could make me look dead if worn to heavily.  The Revlon lip butter in Peach Parfait still has enough that I could eke out a few more uses, but I won’t.  HATED the gritty shimmer in this!  The white tube is a primer by Jay Manuel’s line (which I have no idea if it exists anymore or not), that I never used at all.  Toss!  Lastly, the MAC Haute & Naughty mascara I bought while en route to NZ.  For the first month, this was great, albeit a little clumpy due to so much product on the brush.  I found as time passed, it got worse, and ended up that the brush looked like this:

MAC Haute & Naughty (2)

ICK.  Pass!

Anyway, not bad as far as things go, eh?  Next, let’s look at facial skincare:

Empties #1 2013 - Facial Skincare

I’ve reviewed the 100% Pure eye cream, Pangea Organics masque, and Shiseido toner previously and my thoughts still stand on those (which is to say, overall good impressions), but I won’t repurchase.  The Clarins Sun SPF30 eye cream is my 2nd or 3rd tube, and as always I think it’s great.  I don’t know if I’ll repurchase, just because I might just start using sunscreen around my eye area (I use only physical sunscreens, like the ones in the Clarins, which cause less irritation I find), but you never know!  Speaking of physical sunscreens, this is also my 2nd or 3rd tube of the Clinique City Block Sheer SPF25, and I’ll continue to use it unless I can find something similar that doesn’t make oily in summer – I find this still *slightly* heavy.  The Clinique Super Rescue cream for combo-to-dry skin is a nice moisturizer, but I find it only gives hydration (and antioxidants – can’t beat that!), and I like something that will aid in smoothing my skin as well, as I tend to have slight roughness from my eczema. I have another tube but probably won’t open that till next winter.  The Boscia Make Up Break Up remover is nice enough and effective, but I probably wouldn’t get a full size, as I still use a cleanser afterward because I find it can irritate my skin a little otherwise.  The Clinique Even Better Lotion SPF20 is actually a lot nicer than I gave it credit for before I tried it.  It’s hydrating but not oily and it made my skin look really good while I was using it.  My skin is still doing well but I don’t think it’s AS nice as it was since using this up.  I might order this on my next gratis.

Some samples:

Empties #1 2013 - Samples

I bought a handful of these MaskerAide masques before Christmas and used one per week.  I really liked them – they were easy to use and gave great hydration without breaking me out or being too heavy.  I’d definitely buy them again.  The Elizabeth Grant Eye Power Pads were one of those random beauty items I get from my aunt, and I’ve had them for ages.  One day I decided to use them, and it was nice!  I didn’t notice a big difference in anything, as I don’t have much in the way of wrinkles yet, but it was a treat and they were hydrating.  The Kniepp muscle gel was great for tired legs after working a shift at Clinique or a hard run, and if I was feeling spendy one day I’d probably buy it to have on hand.

Almost done, are you still with me!?  Let’s move on to body products:

Empties #1 2013 - Body Cream

This is my most triumphant success in terms of empties.  The Hawaiian Tropic Aftersun and the B&BW Vanilla Bean Noel lotions I’ve had for SO EFFING LONG – the B&BW lotion was my very first swap EVER (back in 2008).  Because they’re so scented, I didn’t wear them often, or in very specific, less sensitive areas like my feet and chest (which isn’t sensitive somehow!).  I finally finished them both last month and I’m so stoked – I now have NO scented lotions kicking around, and I don’t plan to ever again!  I’ll just go the much safer route and just wear perfume.  Sweet :)

The iconic Kiehl’s Creme de Corps lotion is always a nice luxury to have, and it was effective as ever, though FAR too pricey for my needy body.  I would repurchase is my budget allowed it though!  Although in saying that, I’ve found my holy grail body moisturizer in Haus of Gloi’s pumpkin butter in Aether – honestly, I can’t see myself buying anything else.  It smells good for being non-scented, and it works like a dream on my finicky skin.  I love it with all my heart.  Aveeno’s Moisturizing Lotion used to be my go-to, but I’m SO over it now.  It just doesn’t work as well!  The Clinique Deep Comfort hand cream is quite nice and if you’re looking for a great moisturizer to tote around, this is a great option – hydrating, absorbs well after a few minutes, and lasts.   And it’s unscented :)

Empties #1 2013 - Shower

The last time I ordered a few Aether pumpkin butters, I also picked up a couple 2oz jars of Haus of Gloi’s Bubbling Scrubs.  This one in Satyr was lovely!  Its a sweet, warm, edible scent which some may not like but is right up my alley.  And it gives a nice light exfoliation on my sensitive skin, which I usually avoid, but which I can indulge in with these scrubs.  Yay!  The Hugo Naturals body wash smelled lovely (natural scents) but something about it I didn’t like, so I wouldn’t repurchase.  The star here is the Organix Macadamia Oil conditioner, which is absolutely PERFECT for my crazy-curly, mega-dry hair.  I hate that it comes in a smaller container, as I went through it pretty quickly, but I would repurchase even though it’s $8 and lasts only a month or so for me.  I usually buy jumbo sizes of conditioner because I need so much, but this is worth the cost, as it really hydrates, and is a bit heavy (so, those with fine hair steer clear) which is just what my hair needs.  LOVE.

Ok.  Wrapping things up, I have a couple fragrance samples!

Empties #1 2013 - perfume samples

I got Angel as a sample when I got my mom’s bottle refilled for her birthday last year.  I know it’s a hate it or love it scent for most, but for me I actually am in the middle.  I don’t think it’s ‘my’ scent, but I do like it – I think because of the associations with my mother.  It really works on her and when I smell it I feel cozy :)  The Lancome fragrance however, La Vie Est Belle, IS ‘my’ fragrance – it’s got the same tones with vanilla being predominant (I’m definitely a Gourmand fragrance wearer), and smells FANTASTIC on me.  Initially I wasn’t sure if I liked it enough to buy a bottle, but over the past couple weeks I had three men tell me I smelled good (in an almost surprized way, like “You smell really good” and looking sort of shocked like, ‘oh wow, yum’) so I’m taking that as a sign.  Its the first fragrance I’ve found in a while that really does it for me.  FYI the notes are: black currant & pear (top); iris, jasmine, & orange blossom (middle); tonka bean, vanilla, praline, and patchouli (base).  I think the reason I was initially unsure is that I’m not a huge fan of orange blossom in fragrance, but the inclusion of vanilla and iris (iris being in 3 of my favorite scents, interestingly) end up making it a winner.  I’m just finishing up my second sample of this and will buy a bottle as soon as I’m able.

So there you have it!  In the past three months, those are the products I managed to finish.  Not too shabby, huh?  My skincare for face and body particularly has been seriously streamlined, and I don’t have anything ‘extra’ in either.  Makeup of course is an ongoing battle to use up products I’m not madly in love with, but I’m getting there!  It’s an ongoing process, and you are all probably familiar with.  Moving forward I hope to post these monthly to keep on top of things!

Empties #1 2013 (3)

Have you tried any of these products?  What are your thoughts?  Any skincare products you’ve found to be absolute winners?

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My Skin Saviors: Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil & Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

So I mentioned in my previous skincare post that my skin has been kicking some serious ass lately.  I think aside from finally figuring out the tricks to dealing with eczema (also mentioned in that post), the two star products in the line-up are my facial cleanser, Consonant’s Organic Foaming Face Wash, and my nighttime facial oil, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil.

Super Skincare (2)

I was gifted the face wash by my aunt, who often buys big blockbuster skincare and makeup bags with a bunch of various products by various brands, via The Shopping Channel :P  Sometimes there are standout items, and sometimes…not so much.  I didn’t end up using the Consonant wash until about 6 months after receiving it, when I ran out of my previous face wash.  Initially, I didn’t think too much of it.  Its a foaming…soap…for the face.  But there is no denying the fact that somehow this product both gently cleanses while absolutely NOT stripping the skin of moisture (due to nourishing botanicals like grapeseed oil), and leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth, and blemish-free (it also contains teatree oil!).

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash (2)

It feels really silky once you rub it into your skin, and dissolves within seconds, which initially made me think it wasn’t cleaning properly.  However, 1-2 pumps of product really does remove all the dirt, oil, and makeup I abuse it with wear daily.  If your makeup is particularly tenacious, it may require a separate makeup remover (I used Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm), but in a pinch this will wash away almost everything without the added step.  It’s even designed to help eliminate uneven skin tone, which is a problem I suffer with, and it’s pH balanced (so no need for toner).  I’m not one to usually stick with one type of product after it’s used up, but I actually will repurchase this – it works and it’s relatively inexpensive at $18CAD.

Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Decyl Glucoside, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Calophyllum Tacamahaca, Melaleuca Alternifolia, Allantoin, Algae, Camellia Sinensis, Salix Alba, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Zingiber Officinale, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera, Comfrey, Chamomilla Recutita, Symphytum Officinale, Cucumis Sativa, Vaccinium Myrtillus, Saccharum Officinarum, Acer Saccharum, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis, Citrus Medica Limonum, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid.


Does not contain: Phthalates, Petroleum Ingredients, Sulphates, Silicone, Synthetic Colour, Synthetic Fragrance or Paraben Preservatives.

Tarte Maracuja Oil

The other superstar in my skincare routine has GOT to be, Tarte’s Pure Maracuja Oil ($55CAD).  This was one of the rare impulse buys I make every few months.  I was in Sephora, and as the staff know me there, I asked what was one of the standout must-have products I should try.  No less than THREE SA’s turned me toward the Maracuja Oil (between the ages of 20-50), insisting it had totally changed their skin.  I wasn’t in the market for a moisture product, but what the heck!  I had a $20 coupon to burn in which I needed to spend $50 or more.  DONE.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (2)

I usually steer clear of skincare via brands that are more known for makeup, and especially gimmicky-type products in general.  But honestly, I have been shocked at how much this has improved my skin!  It’s smoother, more even-toned, less oily, more hydrated, and I swear it’s made my pores less noticeable and all but eliminated the small fine lines around my eyes.  Apparently, maracuja oil is chockful of Vitamin C – which aids in brightening and radiance – and essential fatty acids, which are necessary for healthy skin to rebuild and repair itself  It’s also anti-inflammatory, which is ideal for someone like myself with eczema (or if you have sun damage!).  How I use it, is right after washing my face, a put a dropperful in my hand, rub them together to disperse, and then press it into my skin all over my face and neck (this product replaces my nighttime moisturizer).  I don’t know where I got the ‘pressing’ part but I think I heard somewhere that it helps oils penetrate the skin better (and probably a lot more gentle than vigorous rubbing!).  It absorbs a bit slowly, about half an hour to fully penetrate, at which time my skin just feels plump and hydrated and not at all greasy, filmy or sticky (which was a big reason why I did not like argan oil – too heavy!).  Some people have noted a slight smell to the product, but I detect next to none – at least nothing discernible, even if I stick my nose right up to the bottle opening.

Tarte Maracuja Oil (3)See…it’s so thin that it started spreading just from the small droplet on my hand!

The only ingredient in this product is maracuja oil, which contains none of the baddies like parabens or fragrance.

And now for a very revealing photo (after cleansing and applying the oil, sans makeup, with plenty of freckles/moles for your viewing pleasure):

Clean, Bare SkinI’m no model, by any means – but I’m pretty darn happy with how clear my skin is, and how well my pigmentation damage has faded on my forehead!  Too bad about those dark circles…

If you’re in the market for either (or both) a cleanser or hydrator, I highly recommend both of these products, for essentially all skin types except serious problem skin.  Both products are gentle and effective, truly have made such a huge improvement in my skin that I didn’t even realize I was lacking.

What is your absolute must-have skincare product?

You can purchase the Consonant Organic Foaming Face Wash here, and the Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil here.

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