Posts Tagged green

Summer Polish Combo: Mint and Red

It’s really and truly summer, guys! Yesterday was gorgeously sunny and in the mid-20’s, and for the next week the forecast is showing sun, sun, sun and more of the same. Today will be close to 30 degrees! HOO-FRICKIN-RAY!!!!!  I took Monday off so that I have a four-day weekend (because of Canada Day on Tuesday). I can’t wait!

Summer Polish Combo Red & Mint

It’s not quite 7:30am here, but when you can see sunlight peeking in through the blinds, you can’t really waste time in bed, now can you? I took photos a couple weeks ago of a red and mint mani/pedi combo that I really loved! It sounds a bit strange, but if you think of the pairing in clothing terms, it’s actually a no-brainer. Often when I choose my pairings I think of what works in fashion – or when all else fails, resort to the colour wheel!

Summer Polish Combo Red & Mint

I normally opt for shades that are of equal depth and brightness, but I don’t mind the boldness of the red (which is American Apparel Downtown LA) matched with the more pastel hues of the mint (MAC’s Mischievous Mint). I wore an emerald dress the week I did this combo and everything came together really awesomely. I will definitely wear this combo again!

Summer Polish Combo Red & Mint

In other news, I’ve listed my condo for sale! My boyfriend and I are planning to buy a house – his dog Ally is a chocolate lab, and she’s too big to live in the condo according to their rules, so it’s been challenging for him going back and forth between where Ally has been staying and home. We need a space for her, too! It’s a bit nerve-wracking, especially in this buyers-market – it’ll work out well for when we buy, but in terms of selling you just never know what you’re going to get for your place….at this point I’m just hoping we break even and don’t LOSE money. Fingers crossed!

What do you think of this combo? And do you have any words of wisdom about selling/buying a home?

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Refresh Botanicals: Your One-Stop Shop for ‘Green’ Skincare!

As many of you are aware, I overhauled my skincare routine about a year ago to focus on more organic, or ‘green’ products. I’ve had a good deal of success making the switch, which probably has more to do with using products that do not use synthetic fragrance, and seeking out items with fewer ingredients overall (less chance for irritation of my eczema-prone skin), than them necessarily being ‘clean,’ as I’ve seen non-organic etc. products work wonders for others as well. However, I do feel good about what I put on my skin now, regardless of their efficacy, and that ease of mind goes a long way for someone who constantly worries when she tries a new product. That tendency to err on the side of caution hasn’t left me yet, but as I try more and more ‘green’ products without experiencing any reactions, I become more and more confident that this was the right path for me.

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Refresh Botanicals skincare, a natural and organic line from Canadian company Taiga BioActives Inc., which I was immensely excited about. However, as usual I still added the products to my routine slowly to ensure the least chance of irritation. Almost from the start, I could tell that this step wouldn’t likely be necessary – I can say with full confidence that every single item I’ve used has been exceedingly gentle yet effective, and quite simply has been a dream to use!

Refresh Botanicals

The line centres their products around a proprietary blend of cucumber extract (high in antioxidants and vitamin C) and cornflower water, both highly soothing and calming to the skin. The products do not contain Parabens, Gluten, Petroleum By-Products, Animal By-Products, Artificial Oils, Artificial Oils or Artificial Fragrances. Essentially, sensitive skin types like mine are pretty much set!

I was sent 5 of the 7 products from the line: a Foaming Facial Cleanser, a Facial Toner, a Daily Facial Moisturizer, a Night Restore Complex, and a BB Cream. These products couldn’t have been more perfect for me, as they fit themselves into my current regime perfectly.

Refresh Botanicals

In the morning, I cleanse with the Foaming Facial Cleanser ($18.99CAD), which has a texture very similar to Cetaphil or CeraVe if you’ve tried it – sort of a thin jelly. One pump massaged on slightly damp skin gently foams and thoroughly cleanses though I never feel stripped of oils or tight afterward. I wondered if this would be enough once the weather got warmer, but due to the inclusion of coconut oil it sufficiently cleanses to remove any extra oiliness and prepare my skin for the day. I haven’t tried to use to this remove makeup, but they have a separate Eye + Face Makeup Remover in the line, which I expect is to be used first before using this – I don’t think its sufficient enough to remove makeup on it’s own.

Refresh BotanicalsFoaming Facial Cleanser

After washing, I apply a few pumps of the soothing Facial Toner ($18.99CADon a cotton pad (it’s got one of those great systems where you just place the cotton pad on top of the pump and push down to get product), and swipe it all over. It’s a bit of a strange formula in that it foams slightly, but it doesn’t leave my skin irritated and it’s exceptionally gentle – I think it’s more of a pH balancing and hydrating step, with light exfoliation, rather than an astringent to rid your skin of oils. It takes a bit of getting used to if you usually use toners with alcohol, which make the skin feel squeaky clean, but I find that my skin gets less oily when I use more gentle products, this being no exception.  Like the other products in the line, it smells like cucumbers, though this one has a slightly earthy yet flowery scent which I don’t love but am not offended by, either.

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Depending on the day and what my skin needs, I alternate between a facial oil and the Daily Facial Moisturizer ($18.99CAD) after toning. The antioxidant-rich moisturizer is the perfect consistency for all skin types – it’s not too thin, so drier skin types won’t feel parched, but it’s not too thick and absorbs quickly, so oilier types like mine are pleased as well. It’s a basic, soothing moisturizer with not a lot of bells and whistles, but I prefer to get my ‘treatment’ in the form of a serum or oil, anyway. The only caveat I have with this product is that it feels a touch sticky once applied – this goes away after about a minute or two, but it does feel a bit strange. Another point of interest that may or may not be of concern is that one pump is far more than you need for your whole face – a half a pump is plenty, but if you tend to put moisturizer on your face, neck, and décolletage, then you’re good to go for the full pump.

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Refresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer  rubbed in (no greasy residue)

Unfortunately, the BB Cream ($23.99CADhas not made it into my daily rotation as the shade is quite light on me. From the feel of it, I think it has a texture similar to a physical sunscreen – so it’s a bit thicker, but not too difficult to spread, and would probably offer some light coverage. It’s designed like your typical BB cream to even skin tone and blur imperfections, as well as hydrate the skin. This formula also helps combat excessive sebum production and improve skin texture, and like the other products in the line is soothing to skin and offers antioxidant protection.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

In the evenings, after I’ve oil-cleansed I might use the Foaming Facial Cleanser as a second cleanse if I need it, then apply a treatment toner and oil. Once the oil has absorbed, I apply the Night Restore Complex ($23.99CADon top to add a little extra hydration and boost my treatments – in contains antioxidants and natural exfoliants which help lighten the appearance of dark spots and help brighten the skin, which is what my treatment facial oil does as well, so I’m getting a double-whammy of goodness :)  I find this extra layer does not clog my pores but in fact makes my skin feel that much more soft and supple by morning. I do avoid applying much of the Complex to my forehead, as I end up being a little greasy in that area in the morning otherwise.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

I am really and truly beyond pleased with my experience with Refresh Botanicals – every single product is easy to use, non-irritating, and gently effective. For someone with sensitive but generally easy skin to deal with, it’s the perfect choice, whether or not you like ‘green’ skincare or not. It even passes the packaging test for me (I am SUPER snobby when it comes to packaging, I’ll readily admit it), as it’s clean-looking, functional and hygienic (everything is in a pump).  On top of all that, it’s AFFORDABLE – something I do struggle with in the organic world, as everything is quite pricey. You can actually buy the whole shot for $147.93CAD (which includes the Eye + Face Makeup Remover, as well as an Intensive Serum)!  Even more exciting for me, is that the line is actually available in Nova Scotia – unheard of! They’ve recently introduced it in the Pharmasave/Pharmachoice stores across the province (which is where you’ll find them in the other provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick as well), and I’m pretty stoked.  You can also buy them online, though I’m unsure whether they ship outside of Canada (I suspect they do).

Refresh Botanicals

Affordable, available, effective ‘green’ skincare? I am SO totally getting my friends on board :D

Would you try a ‘green’ skincare brand if it were affordable and effective, or do you prefer traditional skincare products? Have you seen Refresh Botanicals in pharmacies yet?

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

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Holiday Wish List: Organic Skincare

Ok.  So I’ve been going a little crazy with this whole organic beauty thing.  Or maybe a lot crazy.  I guess it depends on your perspective.  For me, I FEEL a little crazy, which is probably the most important opinion, right?  Eeep.  Oh well.  Stockings with coal in them for everyone this year!

Obviously, I can explain my behavior in a variety of TOTALLY justifiable ways.  As I noted in my green beauty Part I post, I’ve been using up old stuff and making way for the new.  That includes a new facial mist (Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist) and a new exfoliant (Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask - 20% off this past weekend, hel-LO!) to replace the ones I’ve finished.  Then, I HAD to buy the Ellovi Butter that both Taylor and Megan raved about, because I was given a $5 coupon for the site.  And with the change in weather, my skin has been unusually dry and I needed a booster product on top of my Pai Rosehip oil, so I bought Soapwalla’s Restorative Face Serum – CLEARLY I can’t be walking around with dry skin.  The only purchase I can’t justify is Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum, which I bought last month – $64 of pure CRAZY there, yep…but I will say, it’s actually kind of a miracle on my eczema.  I’ve had persistent patches on my legs for months, and a few drops of this mixed with my Haus of Gloi pumpkin butter has fixed them right up.  Could I have tried a basic carrier oil like avocado mixed with my cream for a much cheaper and likely similarly effective result?   ….Let’s not go there, shall we?

Anyway.  Like I said, I’ve been a little CRAZY lately, it’s true.  What makes me even more crazy, is that I’ve still got a list a mile long of other products I want to try…but thankfully for the moment I’ve put a stop to the madness and am exercising restraint for the rest of the month (and yes…I realize I’ve done most of this damage in 4 days  O_o).  For the time being, I’m just going to ogle my *little* list here and lie in patiently wait until my wallet cools off it seems reasonable to purchase something.  Which of course is up for interpretation ;)

Organic Wish List

1) Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum $78CAD – A light eye treatment rich in peptides and antioxidants, designed to alleviate dark circles as well as address fine lines and wrinkles.  I had a sample of this that lasted almost two weeks, and in that time my eyes looked brighter and felt HELLA smooth.  Sign me up, please.

2) One Love Organics Vitamin B Active Moisture Cleansing Oil $39CAD – Another product I had a sample of, I found this oil cleanser worked well to remove my makeup at the end of the day and rinse away cleanly without needing a cloth to wipe it off, like many other organic oil cleansers.  It also contains papain, a fruit enzyme that helps exfoliate the skin – I love me a good dual product.  Though I am not a huge fan of the super-sweet, tropical scent, it’s manageable for a product that’s effective.

3) La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask (may buy soon as there is a 15% off coupon code till Nov 15th) $65CAD – With my skin on the drier side these days, I’m in need of a nice restorative, hydrating mask.  I’m currently finishing up the derma-e one I purchased last year (thank god…that heavy floral smell, gah!), and this one sounds just about perfect.  It contains honey, which is kind of the be-all in skincare lately, and it both balances, moisturizes, and exfoliates the skin (again with the multi-functional produts!).  It’s also chock-full of antioxidants…me likey.

4) Graydon The Balm $29CAD – Here I am again, trying to stock up on the heavy-hitters that will keep my skin hydrated throughout the cold days and the moisture-sucking central heating we deal with during wintertime.  I had a sample of Pai’s Chamomile and Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream which I thought may work, but it was a bit heavy and my skin felt a bit reactive after using it.  The Graydon Balm (a Canadian brand!) has super-light hydrators that I should be able to apply over oils at night without fear of clogging my pores, and it’s supposed to be ideal for eczema.  Perfect!

5) Aster & Bay Glow Facial Serum $32 – Nourishing and moisturizing oil with essential fatty acids and antioxidants to repair the moisture barrier and protect the skin from environmental aggressors.  It’s supposed to give skin a great glow and contains a slew of ‘dry’ oils (like hazelnut and macadamia nut) that are great for day use on my combo-oily skin.  I plan on wearing this under my Pai Geranium & Thistle moisturizer to get that dewy look I’m losing with the cold weather.

6) Marie Veronique Organics Treatment Oil $82CAD – I’ve only read a few things about the MVO line, but as I like to be well-rounded I started looking into each of the products to see if anything would suit me. Lo and behold, I read the details and the ingredient list on this oil and wow!  It’s not terribly suitable for my skin right now where I’m not experiencing any breakouts – more so dry patches – but in the warmer months I think this will be amazing.  It’s got a handful of wonderful oils and extracts that are considered especially effective for acne-prone and/or oily skin, such as willow bark (a natural salicylic acid) and watermelon seed oil (which helps dissolve excess sebum), plus gentle ingredients to reduce inflammation.

7) Consonant Intensive Therapy Organic Hand Cream $20CAD – I’m currently using an organic hand cream that contains Borage oil, which is super-high in Gamma Linoleic Acid and hence awesome at repairing the skin’s barrier function (a must for my eczema-prone hands).  However, it smells like rotting meat.  I’m not even kidding guys, it is the WORST smelling product I’ve ever used in my life!!  Its effective enough and the smell dissipates after 5 minutes, so I’m going to struggle though it, but after that I’m gonna get me some of THIS stuff – a lovely rich hand cream that is made by a Canadian brand.  You can’t get much better than that (although you can get MUCH worse with this Borage oil cream…blech!).

8) Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner $23CAD – I haven’t been using a leave-in since last winter, and its come time to get on the wagon again.  This has jojoba and olive oils as it’s two primary ingredients, both excellent for hair, so I’m giving it a go.  Hair care with really basic ingredients is equally important to me as it is in skincare, as most contain a whack of artificial fragrance that kills my scalp and can irritate my face if I’m wearing my hair down.  I don’t like to spend too much on hair care but I’ll give anything a shot once.  If it lasts for a few months it’ll be worth it.

Innersense Organic Beauty Quiet Calm Curl Control $20 – Designed to eliminate frizz and smooth textured hair, this is one of the few organic styling creams I’ve found on the market so far specifically targeted toward curly hair.  Again, it’s a bit more than I like to spend on my hair, but I use very little product, and the TIGI curl cream I’ve been using I’ve had for a good 6 months and am just nearing the end, so I can deal with it.  I haven’t gotten my hair professionally cut in over 3 years now, so spending a little extra on my hair is not really all that bad!

May Lindstrom The Honey Mud *not yet released* – I don’t know much about this soon-to-be-released product, but it looks and sounds amazing from what I do know!  It’s described as a lush, velvety cleanser that can also be used as a masque (dual-purpose, hurrah!).  And just yesterday I heard that there is another new release coming out this month as well, called The Blue Cocoon (a balm)…oh May, I have yet to own anything of yours, and I wasn’t wowed by The Youth Dew (thank GOD…$125 is the height of crazy), but I will get my hands on something of yours yet!

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You may notice the title of this post – indicative of a series of wishlists, perhaps??  And…you would be right :)  Though skincare is my primary focus these days, I still ogle makeup and polish on the regular too. Keep your eyes peeled for those wish lists in the coming weeks! (I’m a lost cause, I know)

What’s on your wishlists lately??  

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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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Going Green: Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without

I’m in a mood guys.  Or rather, a mode – a research mode.  I have spent that past several days doing MUCHO investigation into different ‘green’ brands and the products they offer, trying to weed through them all (they all sound FABULOUS) to find the right ones for my skin needs and type.  In doing so, I realized a few things: 1) I don’t make enough money to fund this new-found obsession, and 2) I better start using up what I currently have that doesn’t ‘fit the bill’ so to speak, before I go all shopaholic and buy every last amazing organic product out there.  Thankfully, as mentioned before, that pile is not TOO large.  Let’s take a look!

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CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser: This cleanser is really lovely – non-foaming (which also means non-stripping) and gentle and leaves me skin feeling soft and supple due to the ceramides and hyaluronic acid.  I don’t feel too bad about using this as it doesn’t cause any issues for me and its a relatively basic product.  I’m in no hurry to finish it.  Note to oily gals that I used this in the summer every AM and found it entirely effective – I really believe that trying to dry out the skin in an effort to ‘reduce oiliness’ is NOT the way to go; my skin has been better behaved and less greasy when I keep it hydrated the right way.  Just sayin’.

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Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Night:  I’ve used this off and on for several years, and I always find it quite effective and keeping my skin clear, soft, and smooth.  As you can see its on it’s last legs, and I won’t be repurchasing as I’m hoping my Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil will be it’s replacement, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective anti-aging/anti-acne moisturizer with retinol, this is a good bet for most all skintypes (I find it quite moisturizing, but it isn’t greasy).

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Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Clearing Masque, and Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector: Good ol’ free Clinique products.  The clay-based masque is pretty decent, it helps to deep clean the skin but doesn’t leave me feeling completely sucked dry of moisture afterward.  The serum is really kinda useless to me, as I don’t have any dark spots, but it has antioxidants so I’m using it up just for that.  I also get the occasionally pimple scar (which are dark on me) so it helps with that too.  Needless to say, when these are done I’ll be moving on to other, organic replacements (Stark’s Green Tea Detox Mask, as well as about a BILLION other oil/serum-type products, come to mind).

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La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF60, Clinique Super City Block SPF40, Shiseido Ultra Sun Protection Cream for Face SPF50: I ended up not using the LRP sunscreen as much as I thought I would, as I found it didn’t play well with other skincare products unless I had the time to let them really sink in and absorb first (time which I rarely leave myself).  The Clinique was my go-to, and is nearing the end – I have used the City Block products more times than I can count now, and I will turn to it again if I can’t find a suitable organic replacement.  The Shiseido I received as a 500 pt perk at Sephora, and oddly enough I’ve deemed it my ‘running’ sunscreen – I think because it has quite a strong scent, and I worry about wearing it for very long.  Since I shower after my runs, I can throw this on and then wash it off no more than an hour or two later.  Then it gets used and not wasted!  Bizarre possibly, but effective :)

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Avene Cicalfate and First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream: These are my two ‘emergency’ products for when my eczema gets wacky.  The Avene is more of a protectant so if I’m really rashy, its like a barrier to the outside world so my skin gets a chance to heal.  It’s also very soothing.   The F.A.B. product on the other hand, is fickle – sometimes its just what my skin needs, other times it actually makes my skin burn and itch – so bizarre!  Due to that aspect, I don’t use it much.  I may relegate it to a hand cream or something just to use it up.  Neither product I would repurchase – even though the Avene is somewhat helpful, it gets used relatively infrequently.

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Aveda Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist, Indeed Labs Hydraluon, Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF15, derma-e Hydrating Mask w/Hyaluronic Acid: These are the suspect ‘green’ products in my arsenal, that aren’t really organic but contain more basic, ‘natural’ ingredients.  I don’t trust ‘em.  The Aveda toner has a horrible spray mechanism which requires me to use a cotton pad to apply – for that reason alone I can’t wait ’till this is gone.  The Hydraluron only contains one ingredient so on principle its very basic, but it’s really to be used with other hydrators that contain water – which many organic products do not have.  So once it’s gone, despite the fact that it’s fairly effective, I won’t repurchase.  The Boscia moisturizer is actually really nice.  It balances my skin to make it less oily during the day, and the sunscreens are physical so they don’t irritate my skin.  I’m tempted to buy this again in the summertime when I won’t want to be layering a bunch of moisturizers and sunscreen…we’ll see how it goes.  At least there is no preservatives!  The derma-e mask is a puzzling beast.  It hydrates, softens and smooths my skin like a charm, but OMFG the scent on this thing is outrageous!!  It’s floral and uber-strong, even though the scent is natural and is the last ingredient.  It’s unreal.  I will find some kind of replacement for this, because when it’s done, I WILL BE SO HAPPY.

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Clinique Dramatically Different Lotion +, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus, Clinique Moisture Surge Intense, Murad Instant Radiance Eye Cream, Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Eye Cream, Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream, Clinique Take the Day Off, Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF15, Kate Somerville Ret-Asphere 2-in-1 Retinol Nigh Cream, La Roche-Posay Derm AOX Multi-Corrective Day Care, NUDE ProGenius Treatment Oil: Samples!  Please excuse the Boscia in here again, I changed my mind about where it should be afterward.  I feel like I’m never going to get through those eye creams – they are generous samples that will probably last forever!!! ~sigh~  The rest shouldn’t be too hard to finish up – the Moisture Surge and the TTDO are nearly done, and the others for the most part will just be a few uses.  I’ll be glad to see the end of them all.

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…and more samples!  I won’t list ‘em – suffice to say, these gotta go.  I’ll probably use one a week just so my skin doesn’t totally freak out.  None of these nor the ones above really intrigue me now that I know I won’t be repurchasing any, anyway.  But I’ll soldier through nonetheless :)

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The last of the samples.  Kniepp is a sneaky brand that kind of portrays themselves like they are natural and ‘green’, but they contain synthetic fragrance in heavy doses in all of their products.  I won a basket full of ‘em from my spa last year, and have hardly used a thing.  I tried to use some bath salts and my skin paid a dear price for it.  I should just give ‘em all away…

Ok, so there you have it.  All the skincare I gotta use up before going whole-hog and buying all the pretty organic beauties out there!  Some of these will be easy, and some not so much (the masques in particular will take a while).  Its helpful to have these all laid out though to see where I stand and keep my trigger finger from pushing the ‘order now!’ button… it’s tough though.  Especially because I’ve really found that my skin has changed even in the past week or so from altering my routine.  My pores are significantly smaller, and my skin hasn’t felt itchy, irritated or inflamed once – and I committed a cardinal sin and started all three of my Pai products in one day! (I usually try to incorporate new products in slowly so as to minimize any potential flare-ups)  But, you guys know me and excess – stresses me out too much, so I’m determined to employ a hard one-in, one-out rule here until I’ve literally *cleaned up my act*  Lets hope the process moves quickly, huh?

IMG_0298My organic super-team plus a few extras and samples to try!

Do you have any organic / grean beauty products you just love and can recommend?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Switching It Up: Clean Beauty and a New Laptop!

So last night I got a little crazy and bought myself a new MacBook Air.  Yep, sure did!  Impulse purchase, ho! :P  To be fair, I’d been saving for it for a while, and was planning to buy it in the next month or so anyway – but perhaps with a bit more planning in mind.  Needless to say, ITS FRICKIN’ AWESOME.  Light as a feather, and super-fast.  If you recall, my old laptop crashed last year shortly after I came back from NZ.  Even though I had the hard drive replaced, it was still sluggish due to it’s 5+ year lifespan.  Time for an upgrade, yea???

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There are also other things I’m switching up lately, namely my skincare routine.  Slowly but surely, I’ve been finding myself more and more drawn  to organic cosmetics – and over the past month, I’ve decided to fully make the switch. I’ve been using up my current arsenal of products and bit by bit have been purchasing new items to replace the old.  The reason for the switch was – literally – pretty simple.  With my eczema and skin care sensitivities, I started researching products that had fewer ingredients and were free of artificial fragrances – essentially, items that were as pared down and basic as you could get.  The less going on, the less chance for irritation, right?  So, as I’m nit-picking my way through ingredients lists on just about anything and everything, naturally organic products kept coming up in my search due to their beautifully simple nature.  On top of that, I happened to stumble upon two blogs that essentially made me start lemming every organic and green beauty product on the market: No More Dirty Looks, which is a chic and fun blog that showcases readers skincare routines, and reviews some of the more well-known organic brands such as Kahina Giving Beauty, RMS, and One Love Organics; and Seed to Serum, which I found through another blog (can’t remember which one!) but which has a TON of information about a variety of green brands, popular to lesser-known (Aster & Bay products sound amazing – and you can order samples first!), as well as posts highlighting different organic ingredients and their benefits.  She’s pretty much tried all it all it seems, and my list of ‘to buy’ items has expanded exponentially since coming across her blog a mere month ago.

Atlanta Photographer | LeahAndMark & Co. | Aster & BayAster & Bay…how can you not love that visual!?

Revamping your whole skincare routine can be a big task, and while the research that goes into choosing products is exhaustive, I’m fortunate that I don’t have a whole lot of ‘excess’ product to get through first, so that I’m able to replace as I go without having a stockpile of soon-to-be-unloved items cluttering up my bathroom.  However, I will say that because there are just SO MANY lovely sounding products to try, my streamlined routine could get backlogged real quick.  However, as it stands now, I’m not doing too bad.  I started with Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm (which is fab and an amazing multitasker – review forthcoming), and last week I added a trio of Pai products: the Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream, Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend + Vitamin E, and Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (the latter which was a freebie thrown in when you buy a Pai skincare cream from Fresh Faced).  So far so good on all three, but it’s too early to tell just yet.  I have high hopes!  Oh yea, and I also picked up a Konjac sponge to try out – I can’t tell if it’s doing much of anything really, but its a cute little thing and it works well to massage my cleanser into my skin every morning so hey – rituals like that are kinda nice! :)

The massive wish list I’ve been compiling while I’ve been doing a ton of research probably needs to be shared.  That’ll be in my next post though, as it’s gonna be a doozy!  Prepare thyself.

Have you dabbled in green beauty products yet?  Are you jumping right in like I am, or more of a slow starter?  Or do you think organic beauty is a bunch of hooey?

Oh yea, and you only have two more days to enter our Beauty Envy Bag giveaway!!

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Disney Ariel Collection by Sephora: Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum Review

Funny things can happen when you get a new roommate and you move all your things aside to make room for their stuff….back in May when my now ‘old’ roommate moved in, I had to make space for all the things a 50+ woman might bring with her.  While she didn’t have a ton of stuff, in an effort to make her feel comfortable and at home, I rearranged and shifted many of my own things to give her space and a place to put her extra bits and bobs.  Now that she’s gone, I’m slowly spreading my things out again and putting them ‘where they belong’ so to speak.  Lo and behold, I found a product I had meant to review ages ago! – and which happily is still available on Sephora, so, I shall review with abandon :)

Disney Ariel Collection Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum

Let me make it clear that I am in no way a fragrance blogger.  While I wear perfume every day (the only real ‘scent’ in my fastidious anti-eczema routine), and I know what I like, my ability to recognize certain notes is limited, and I find it difficult to judge a fragrance on it’s merit without letting my personal views get in the way.  Having said that, I am going to attempt to fairly review Kiss the Girl ($70CAD), the limited edition fragrance that is part of the Disney Ariel collection by Sephora.  Bear with me, folks!

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First of all, one thing I can state with confidence is, this bottle is GORGEOUS!!  Truly, I feel like keeping this displayed on my dresser simply for it’s stunning aesthetic.  Beautifully cut glass that catches the light just so, with a small, unobtrusive ‘A’ for Ariel on the front, and a pretty aqua metallic band around the base of the topper.  This kind of simple yet classically elegant design will get me every time!  Even the box it came it was lovely, with silver designs upon a deep sea green background.  It’s the little details, right?

Disney Ariel Collection Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum (4)

The notes of the fragrance even at first spritz are very soft and clean.  The top notes of bergamot and wet cucumber are refreshing and uplifting, which is boosted by the addition of an ‘ozonic accord;’ a concept I know nothing about yet can somehow agree with when I sniff my wrist – somehow like being high up on a mountain breathing the cold air.  The middle notes boast water notes, wild lilac and starfruit, and while I can get a hint of the lilac, the starfruit completely alludes me.  Finally, the base notes of white musk, warm sandalwood and velvet ambergris (which apparently is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, and as it ages it loses its fecal odor {awesome} and turns into a sweet, earthy scent) ground the scent and give it a touch of sensuality, so as it dries down it loses it’s sparkling quality and feels a bit more romantic rather than squeaky clean.

Though the soft, gentle quality of the scent (which lasts and last, by the way, due to the sperm whale concoction) ensures its easy wearability, the scent is still not my kind of jam.  Though I actually had no problems in testing it – which can be a trial when a fragrance you don’t favor is overbearing, as can often be the case – and even came to appreciate its clean yet alluring ‘prettiness’, it’s too bright and oceanic for my tastes.  Give me a good vanilla-heavy, gourmand scent any day and I’ll wear the crap out of it.  Green, feminine scents make me somehow feel like I shouldn’t be wearing white on my wedding day…I dunno if that makes any sense but that’s just the way of it!

Disney Ariel Collection Kiss the Girl Eau de Parfum (2)

What sort of fragrance do you gravitate toward? 

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