Posts Tagged skincare

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.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

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.

Refresh BotanicalsRefresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer

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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Super-Quick Empties Post (from February – oops!)

Ok….so I took photos of some empties in February and then didn’t post about them – oopsie! Let’s get to it, because I want to also post my most recent empties soon – I have a big goal for myself this year in terms of reducing so I want to start entirely fresh!

Skincare

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Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Hand Therapy – I’ve had this seriously for like, 10 years, sitting in a cupboard because it’s scented and ya’ll know I DON’T DO THAT. But then, I wanted to get rid of some stuff so I used it as a foot lotion. Perfect!

Shikai Borage Therapy Hand Cream – ARGH that awful, awful smell of FEET and BO and DEAD MEAT. Thankfully this hand cream wasn’t all that fabulous, because if it were the most amazing thing ever I might have to buy it again and suffer the odour just to have healed hands. THE GODS HAVE SPARED ME.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – It was fine. Just like Cetaphil, really. Which is MEH for someone who wears makeup or who wants a more substantial second cleanser. Even if I wasn’t sporting a ‘green’ skincare routine now I probably wouldn’t get this again, unless my skin was going absolutely batshit (in that case, it’s pretty darn gentle and not too bad at all).

Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner – This was also just OK. I didn’t love the smell nor that formula. It was my first organic conditioner and on the whole, it would probably be nice for someone with thin, fine hair that doesn’t need much moisturization like my bone-dry hair does.

Organix Coconut Milk Hibiscus Nourishing Body Wash – This was my second bottle for a reason – it SMELLS SO GOOD. I won’t buy it again because of the ingredients (still has fake fragrance, and is not really ‘organic’ – shame on the name!) but if you don’t care about this stuff, I enjoyed it overall.

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Ellovi Butter – I’m going to be the dissenting voice here and state that I didn’t love this. My eczema did not like this at all, which is surprising given the clean ingredients, but I found I needed more moisture, and my eczema was consistently present while using this, so it didn’t really do much at all. Full-price at $26 (I had a $5 coupon), this would have needed to blow my socks off for a repurchase.

Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butter - I still have a soft spot for this! I stopped buying it, but I might order a few of the smaller sizes to use as hand cream and such – I really liked the smell and it moisturized well. I feel like the ingredients are pretty decent, and while not totally clean…I just like it anyway.

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Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser – Though I think this might be a bit heavy for me during the summer, I did like this cleanser and I think anyone with normal to dry skin should definitely try it out! So gentle and leaves skin feeling very comfortable.

Stark Grapefruit Cleanse & Hydrate Balm – Minus the little balls of shea butter in this, I liked this balm fairly well. It didn’t cause any irritation – but the scent being so delicious constantly had me on alert for something, so I never used it with ease. I wouldn’t repurchase, but mostly just for that reason! I like using things that I know without a doubt will never eff with my fickle skin.

Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil - Honestly, still one of the best oils I’ve tried to date (and I’ve tried a fair number by now!). Affordable, great for most skin types, absorbs quickly – there’s really not much else to say. I went through two bottles, which saying a lot since I usually try something different every time. I might even come back to this at some point!

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Eumovate Eczema & Dermatitis Cream – I picked up this cream while in NZ, and though it was AMAZING at clearing my the eczema I got while away (like, the best product I’ve ever used for that purpose), apparently my doc tells me this shit is kinda dangerous. At least, it’s not to be used on the regular. O-KAY, then. I powered through it while I was away, and had just a bit left which I used here and there afterward. I was kinda sad to see it go (I really DID work wonders), but it’s probably for the best.

XLash Eyelash EnhancerJust updated you guys on how much ASS this kicks when compared to another lash growth serum…I WILL buy this one again, mark my words. So, SO good.

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Holy smokes, the samples. Let’s do this by notables, and not-worth-it’s:

Notables:

- OLO Brand New Day – Nice, gentle enzyme scrub that does have some manual exfoliating qualities as well; leaves the skin nice and soft but not ravaged.

- Kahina Eye Serum – Second time with a sample of this bad boy, and I still like it quite a bit. Sinks in quickly and isn’t greasy at all. But sometimes with stuff like this I think – do I really need a separate serum for eye? Nah, probably not.

- Babor Calm & Relax Cream – lovely cream thats not too heavy for my normal-to-oily skin, and really does ‘calm & relax’! I plan to buy this one day, but it’s $76CAD so maybe when I have a little bit more disposable funds, hmm?

- Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus – Not ‘clean’ but I had it in my samples stash and I though I’d use it up. And really, it works. Highly recommend for non-’green” skincare buffs.

- Lancome La Vie Est Belle (sample) – I still love this scent, and one day I’ll give in and buy a bottle. I just wish it was cheaper! 1oz (30mL) is $72CAD. Atrocious.

Not-worth-it’s:

- Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask – Honestly, the first sample I had I found this did NOTHING to my face, and the second time I tried it, I felt a little bit of irritation. I know a lot of people love it but I’m not one of ‘em.

- OLO Vitamin C Serum – Again, another ‘gem’ that gets raves, but I found it was a little heavy for my skin – it would be PERFECT for drier skin, and it gives the skin a glowy sheen (which turned a bit greasy on me).

- Vapour Illusionist Concealer - YIKES! All of these shades were so gray!! Even the darkest shade was ashy and awful. And the coverage as well was crappy. Probably if you’re super fair and have hardly anything to conceal, this would be great. Clearly not for me.

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The MAKEUPS:

Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara – I’ve had a sample of this before, and my opinion is the same – great for giving lashes curl (makes mine even CURLIER) and for separation and length. One day I might even buy the full size.

MAC Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner in Petrol Blue – I wish I had this in an eyeshadow, or perhaps just a better eyeliner formula. This ALWAYS smudged on the outer corners no matter what I did, and I didn’t love the more glittery-sparkly quality of it either. It’s old and starting to separate from the sides of the pencil, so I decided to toss it. Whoop!

Clinique Cream Shaper in Egyptian – I loved this shade (blackened olive) and the liner didn’t budge, but it’s also a billion years old (or maybe 7) and was doing the same shrinking thing, so out it goes.

Clinique High Impact Mascara – how many samples of this have I used in my life!? Too many. Still a great formula but I’m kinda bored of it now after years and years.

Clinique Lash Power Mascara – Still digging this formula (it’s newer) and I have a backup in my stash. Gets all the bitty little lashes and doesn’t budge. Awesome.

Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Extravagant - Hated. It. Tried to love it. Still Hated. It. TOSS.

YSL Touche Eclat 5.5 – I know Wayne Goss has showed us the error of our ways in using this pen, but I’d just rather have an illuminating wand do all that and not cost $50+. Next time I’ll buy the cheapy version if its not gonna make my dark circles disappear.

Benefit Watt’s Up - This was an OK cream highlighter, but I’ve found plenty others I like far more (Becca, to name one!). I was so glad when I finished this sample!

BAM. Empties #1 for 2014 DONE. #2 to come shortly!

Have you tried any of the products above? What are your thoughts?

 

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These are {13} of my favourite things (of 2013)

The New Year is almost upon us!  Even though the number 13 conjures up some unsettling feelings, 2013 was kind of a great year for me!  Though it started out a bit rough, with a lot of talking and support it turned around for me (a big thanks to all of you who sent kind words – and a care package! – my way!).  As always, the hardships make the good times feel that much sweeter.  I had the immense pleasure of standing in my friend’s most amazing wedding; I started dating a guy who makes me feel loved and truly content in a way I never have before; I’ve had the opportunity to work in several different positions at my work and found my niche; and I finally got to go to New York City, a long-standing dream of mine!  Not too shabby 2013, not too shabby :)

Over the month of December I’ve been pondering what beauty products in my collection really stand-out and get the most use.  Though I could probably add one or two more, the 13 items below really have rocked my world this year and have been very well-loved.  I would even go so far to say that I would repurchase most of them (and that’s saying something!).

Beauty Favorites of 2013

And so I present to you, my favourite (beauty) things of 2013:

1. Osha Mae Calendula Salve ($15CAD).  On it’s own, without any cortisone products, this can clear up the chronic eczema on my hands overnight – absolutely unheard of!  I first got hooked on a sample of M.J. Herbals Calendula Salve ($15CAD), but when I saw this very similar version at our local market I picked it up, as I always like to support local!

Osha Mae Calendula Salve

2. La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask ($65CAD).  When LBF was introduced on the Clementine Fields website, they had a promotion for 15% off it’s pre-sale.  I ordered this mask as I was looking for something hydrating that could replace the uber-scented derma-e mask that I’d been using for a while (uncomfortably).  I didn’t know what to expect, and was completely bowled over once I tried it – its truly amazing!  It hydrates, it heals, it calms, it brightens…I honestly feel like it’s almost a one-stop shop as a mask, because my skin just looks SO DAMN GOOD after using it.  I attribute it’s awesomeness to it’s inclusion of raw manuka honey (it’s the first ingredient) which is noted for it’s therapeutic, antibacterial and nourishing qualities.  Other ingredients include kaolin clay, rosehip seed oil and calendula extract – be still my heart!  Oh, and it’s also BRIGHT PURPLE (due to the aronia berry).  I want to get my hands on the Purifying ($65CAD) version next.

La Bella Figura Bio Active Healing Mask

3. Lina Hanson Global Body Serum ($64CAD).  I really wish this didn’t cost so damn much because I just want to drown in this fantastically scented body oil for the rest of my life.  As it stands, I’m still trying to ration it, but I still fear it won’t last long as I keep using it every few days because it’s so addictive!

Lina Hanson Global Body Serum

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille ($130US).  Yum.  And YUM.  You all know my penchant for vanilla-based scents, so my love for this probably comes as no surprise.  With notes like sandalwood, coconut milk, musk, vanilla and tonk a bean, it’s a gourmand fragrance-lovers paradise.  I was surprised however that it also contains notes like black liquorice (which I hate) and bitter almond – but I suspect they help round out the scent and keep it from being too OTT vanilla, which can get headache-inducing fast.  I have worn this and only this since purchasing it in NYC; the only gripe I have with the fragrance is that I don’t find it lasts on my skin – but I guess that just gives me an excuse to spritz, spritz, spritz!

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille

Make Up For Ever Medium Highlighting Brush in #152 ($43CAD).  I didn’t quite understand just how much I would love this brush until I really put it into practice and had a while to play with it.  This brush is absolutely integral in my makeup application – aside from applying cream or powder highlighters like a dream, it also blends all formulas of blush or bronzer perfectly.  I don’t quite know how it does it, but somehow the fibers of the brush, its density, and it’s softness all contribute to a beautifully seamless complexion.  LOVE.

Make Up For Ever Brush #152

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal (full-size, $50CAD).  Though I only have a deluxe sample size of this product, you only need the slightest amount to get amazing, glowing skin, so it’s lasted me ages!  I usually pull this out when I am either going for a really ‘natural’ look that focuses on the skin, or if I’m looking to amp up the glow factor for an event.  Though the full-size would probably last me a lifetime – something that doesn’t appeal to a fickle beauty fiend like myself – I still think I’ll repurchase this when I DO run out, because it’s truly the most beautiful yet natural-looking illuminator I’ve ever used.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal (5)

Buxom Full-Bodied Lipsticks (full-size, $26CAD).  My love for this lipstick formula is still going strong.  I use the little sample bullets I’ve got more than any other lipstick I own, and I’m looking forward to the day when they run out – so I can justifiably buy some full sizes!  Just so, so creamy and comfortable to wear, with awesome full pigment.  For the price especially, you really can’t beat ‘em!

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Chanel Le Blush Creme de Chanel in Revelation ($43CAD).  I have been on a cream blush kick for a while now, as I find it just looks so darn natural, which fits my makeup M.O. these days.  The newish Blush Cremes dry to an almost powder-like finish, so they don’t have quite the same effect; nevertheless, this natural-looking apricot shade gets a lot of regular use because it goes with just about every makeup look I wear.  The only downside is that its a touch too light when my skin is tanned – but at the moment it’s just right :)

Chanel Blush Creme in Revelation

MAC Eyeshadow in All That Glitters (pro-pan, $12CAD).  Though I have lessened my use of this shadow recently due to switching up my makeup routine, this baby got some SERIOUS love for months after I bought it early last spring.  It gives my eyes the most subtle yet beautiful sparkle I’ve ever seen, and accompanies a bright lip look beautifully.  The hype is TRUE, you guys.  BUY IT.

MAC All That Glitters

Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow in Trench ($30CAD).  Even after owning this shadow for a year and a half, I’m still amazed at how perfectly it blends and melds on the brow bone to give the perfect level of highlight to the eye.  As I have a lot of shimmering shadows, it keeps them grounded without making me look too ‘show dancer,’ but also isn’t so flat that it looks dull.  On top of all that, it’s HELLA soft.

Burberry Sheer Eye Shadow in Trench (2)

Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof in Noir Intense ($29CAD).  I wasn’t big on black pencil eyeliner until I purchased this early in the year – I didn’t have one and thought I should at least have one in my arsenal.  I don’t use it as a traditional liner, but rather as a tightliner on my upper lash line.  It a nice, dark black that gives great definition when I’m doing a more natural look (see a theme here?) and doesn’t budge – in fact, it’s difficult to remove at the end of the day, so keep that in mind.  But as I find a long-wearing liner hard to come by, it’s far from a deal-breaker!

Chanel Eyeliner Noir Intense

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack ($19CAD).  Black pencil liner may never have been my thing, but I can’t say the same for black cream/gel/liquid formulas, which have always been a staple in my arsenal.  When I ran out of my last black liquid liner, I decided it was about time I tried the cult fave Blacktrack.  It’s nice and dark, and its creamy texture makes creating a winged look (a regular go-to for me) incredibly easy.  I’m not convinced I would repurchase, only because there are several black cream/gel liners that I’d like to try, but it’s been a faithful staple for me since I purchased it.

MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack

XLash Eyelash Enhancer ($59).  You’re all probably sick and tired of hearing me trumpet on and on about my love for this lash serum, but seriously, just get some and then get back to me – I promise you’ll be converted!  I won’t repeat my gushings yet again, but I will say that I am actually planning to buy more of this when I run out (still haven’t!).  SO. GOOD.

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That just about rounds up my year in beauty in a nutshell!  I’ve tried many things, some duds, some *pretty good*, but this collection here have been raised to the level of HG status for me.  As I learn and grow I find my selections have become more and more curated to the point where I rarely have a miss (at least if they’re purchased by me) and I’ve grown quite fond of my collection, to which I’ve whittled and culled to include *almost* only products that are a pleasure to use.  I still have a bit of work to do (which I plan on laying out for you in a future post), but overall I’m quite pleased and have passed the ‘GAH! My-stash-is-overwhelming-OMG-the-anxiety!‘ stage that I was in for a long time since starting the blog.  Which I deem a HUGE success :)

So say farewell to 2013 and welcome in the New Year with a bang!  I appreciate each and every reader of my little beauty haven, whether you’ve been with me or a while, or stumbled upon my ramblings by accident.  You’re the only reason I keep on writing!  I wish all of you a very excellent finale to the year soon past and hope that the very best is yet to come in 2014!!!  Let’s make it all sorts of great, yea? :D

happy-new-year-2014-wishes-2880x1800Image credit: ilovehdwallpapers.com

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Final Empties Post of 2013!

Woohoo!  My last empties post of the year.  As these are always lengthy (because I am too damn chatty) (and even though I just did one last month…how do I use up products so quickly?), I’m going to get right to it.

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Organix Nourishing Coconut Milk Conditioner – I do like the Organix conditioners, and this worked quite well to hydrate and detangle, but I preferred the heaviness of the Macadamia Oil version to this.  Smelled DELICIOUS in the summer though!

Earth Science Deep Conditioning Masque – 2nd tube of this, and I still feel the same as I did when I first tried it.  It’s really good shit, dudes.  For $13CAD, it’s one of the best deep conditioners I’ve ever used, and to top it off – all natural!  If I were so fickle I’d buy another tube, and I still may…I’m just too curious to settle *just  yet* ;)

Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil – I really liked this oil a lot, much better than the Ojon Restorative oil that preceded it.  It just had a great consistency and smell, and it never irritated my scalp or caused any breakouts around my forehead, which can happen with products like this.  Good stuff, and lasted AGES.

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Haus of Gloi Komodo Pumpkin Butter – don’t mistake mangosteen for mango, my friends – NOT THE SAME.  I found the scent of this quite intrusive and it has this slightly rotten fruit smell…so ya, just not diggin’ it.  So, I used it as a foot cream!  Problem solved.

Nutiva Coconut Oil – great stuff.  I used this as my primary body moisturizer throughout last spring/summer and it was awesome – it really kept my skin in great condition, prevented eczema flare-ups and helped heal old scars that I sometimes get from past eczema patches, which tend to result in the absence of pigmentation.  However, once the weather cooled it wasn’t quite enough, so I would either layer it with a moisturizer, or use it in my hair periodically as a deep treatment.  I’ll definitely be picking up another tub of this – so many uses! However, keep in mind that coconut oil is highly comedogenic – except when it’s in the form below:

Fractionated Coconut Oil – fractionated oil is non-comedogenic, perhaps due to having had all it’s triglycerides removed.  It has a super-long shelf life and increased stability, and it’s antioxidant potential is more jacked up than regular coconut oil.  It’s also in a TON of things and usually listed as ‘caprylic/capric triglyceride.’  My roommate had left this behind when she moved so I used it up – it was a lot easier to use than the solid coconut oil (though a bit messier at times) but I found it slightly less moisturizing on my body.

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Getting through my non-organic products!  I’ve only got a few last products and a couple straggler samples to get through and I’ll be essentially fully ‘green’, woot!

eos Lip Sphere - this balm works really well and was exceptional under lipstick, offering just enough hydration without much slip, but honestly the size of it sometimes felt very cumbersome.  It’s a cute novelty, but not the most practical – though I do maintain that they’re terribly easy to find in your purse!

Indeed Labs Hydraluron – I’m sure this does have a purpose, but I don’t think I have dry or dehydrated enough skin to see a difference.  I don’t miss it.

Clinique Even Better Clinical Dark Spot Corrector – this stuff does work well, for those of you not concerned about using non-organic products.  I really do like serums because you can pile them on and they generally don’t have heavy moisture to the skin which can make you greasy as the day wears on.

RoC Soft Smoothing Scrub – too gentle for my liking, though this is a good choice for a morning cleanser just to wash the night’s oils off, or as a second cleanse.  But as a ‘scrub’?  No thanks.  One more non-organic product down!

Avene Thermal Spring Water – I love misting my face before applying any serums or oils, as it just feels good to seal the moisture in…but paying for water in a can kinda irks me.  I far prefer the facial mists with a little bit extra in them, like hydrosols etc. that add something more.  Right now I’m using Kahina Giving Beauty’s Facial Mist and I quite like it (though its just so darn SMALL at 1.6oz for $46CAD…ouch!).

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Samples!  Lots of good organic stuff here.  The Marie Veronique Organics Treatment Oil is excellent for keeping oily, pore-clogged, acne-prone skin in check.  I don’t have the latter, but I do get clogged pores on my nose and cheek area, and I found the sample really refined my skin nicely.  I actually just purchased the full-size last week!  I tried the new Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum this past weekend, and while it worked nicely on my skin, the scent it NOT for me – far too spicy and heady for me.  I’ll stick with my Lina Hanson Global Body Serum, thanks.  The Soapwalla Deodorant sample lasted ages, and I enjoyed it so much I purchased it last week as well – it smells awesome and actually works a treat, even on wetness!  It’s not entirely as effective as traditional antiperspirants, but for every day wear its perfect and I really like it a lot.  I thought the Pai Chamomile & Rosehip Sensitive Skin Cream was gonna be my JAM for the dry patches I get sometimes from my eczema, but it sometimes made my skin itch a bit rather than soothe it, so I’ll have to keep looking for a nice nighttime hydrating cream.  M.J.’s Calendula Cream on the other hand, was a freakin’ miracle product – this honestly cleared up my eczema overnight on my hands, which tends to be a persistent problem for me.  I ended up buying a similar product from the local market, but I’m not sure it’s *quite* as effective, though I do like to support local.    The Eminence Blueberry Soy Exfoliating Cleanser was a strange product.  I used it as either a morning or second cleanse and I didn’t notice any exfoliating, and it left a slight film on my skin so I’d recommend using a washcloth to remove it.  Not something I’d spend my money on, overall.  The Rahua Shampoo was fine, but I didn’t enjoy the smell at all, and to spend $$ on a shampoo that I don’t love is just not gonna happen.  One of our local high-end department stores here, Mills, will soon be stocking the organic brand Babor, and the SA’s gave me a few samples of this Calm & Relax Cream to try.  It was pretty great, truth be told!  I used it after doing an intense masque treatment, and it was soothing and hydrating without being heavy at all.  I just may purchase a full-size when the line becomes fully available.  Finally, another Eminence sample I snagged was this Red Currant Rapid Infusion Masque…suffice to say it was a total dud.  I have no idea what it was supposed to do, but I wasn’t wowed.  PASS.

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Le makeup.

Sephora She Sparkles Gloss – decent gloss formula, decent shade.  Despite the fact that I didn’t love it, I actually used this up fairly quickly in the grand gloss scheme of things.  Huh.

NARS Gold Digger Gloss sample – HATE the brush on these Larger Than Life glosses, uh.  So. Tiny!  I liked the shade well enough, but the formula isn’t my favourite – similar to MAC lipglasses, which means they wear fairly well, but I’m not a fan of the stickiness.  It still looks quite full here but I wasn’t getting any more product, so out it goes.

Marc Jacobs Blacquer Mascara – this was such a weird product, like webbing for the eyes!  I loved that it had this kind of patent-leather shine, but it applied horribly and made a total mess of my lashes every time.  Yuk.

MUFE Eyeshadow #17 Espresso – I thought I’d use this a ton and then hardly did.  Then I dropped it and it crumbled, and then honestly, I just was OVER IT.  Plus, I now have a similar shade in my Laura Mercier palette, so I don’t NEED YOU ANYMORE.  *I really hate broken makeup!*

NARS Pro Prime Pore-Refining Primer – this was just meh.  I used it regularly for a couple weeks to use it up, and I wasn’t wowed – I still got shine after a few hours, and though my makeup wore a bit longer, it wasn’t anything to write home about.  Plus, non-organic…I’m not totally converted to organic makeup (or at all, really) but primer is like skincare, so I don’t think I’d buy this even if it did work well.

Marie Veronique Organics Everyday Coverage – the darkest shade offered is still too light for me, so this was a no-go.  Bummer, as I’ve ready a lot of great things about it!  Can’t beat coverage plus SPF in one.

I’m now finished my empties for the year!  I was going to do a tally in each category, but honestly that’s just too much damn work LOL.  Suffice to say, I feel really good about how many non-organic products I’ve used up, and I’m pretty stoked that I used up a whole gloss (and a half!) – I’ve been trying really hard to use up any lip products that are at least half-gone, because they’re much more feasible to finish (as opposed to blush…let’s not go there).  I’m going to make a real effort next year to cull my stash to only products I really love – I know I’ve said this before, and I continue to make progress, but I think next year will be THE year.  I’m loosening my grip on keeping things because they ‘should’ work or because they were expensive and therefore I have to use them.  I just want to pull out any shade of any product and be like ‘Yep, looks great’ with minimal effort.  I learn more and more what looks good on me and what doesn’t.  And also, it’s a lot easier to reduce the stash when you focus all your effort / money on skincare!!  I certainly haven’t saved a dime not buying makeup, because organic skincare costs a pretty penny in many cases, but the whole ritual of applying oils etc. is really up my alley, so I don’t mind.  And less makeup means less anxiety in that area – I never overbuy skincare so I never have to worry about having too much of that!

So, out with the old (thinking) and in with the new (skincare, not makeup).  Now I need to put my 2014 resolutions to paper!

How did your empties go this year?  Do you think your reducing or expanding?  

 

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Empties, Empties, Everywhere!

I am terrible at keeping up with these posts…honestly, I should probably just give up!  But NO.  I will persevere, because SOMEONE has to see that I am not only continuously exercising my strong consumerist muscle, but also actually using shit up (and possibly at a faster rate than I’m buying, which is the ultimate goal).  And so here we go again.

Many products means we’ll jump right in lest we be here all night.  To begin, let’s start at the exciting end – the makeup.

IMG_0703Left to right: Clinique Lash Doubling mascara (sample), Fresh Sugar Honey Lip Treatment, Clinique High Impact mascara (sample), Make Up For Ever Star Gloss Diamond Collection in S0, Clinique High Impact + Bottom Lash mascara (sample), Make Up For Ever Smoky Lash Extravagant mascara, Guerlain Maxi Lash D’Enfer (sample).

I actually quite like all of Clinique’s mascaras and it has nothing to do with me working for the brand.  I just find they go on nicely, don’t dry out too fast, and stay on all day while washing off easily at night.  I always seem to have a lot of samples because I get a free gift every time I work a GWP.  I don’t mind one bit ;)

After I determined that the fragrance in the Fresh lip balms cause my lips to be perpetually chapped, I hardly used this for close to a year.  Then I decided I just wanted to get rid of it, so I used it like crazy down to a nub and then tossed it.  Not sorry to see it go, even though the shade was a nice nude that looked good with a variety of looks.  The MUFE gloss seemed to finish extremely quickly so I question it’s size, but I’m not complaining – another lip pie down!  The MUFE mascara ended up not being so bad as I thought it might be in my original review, but I still didn’t love it and was happy to see that it was drying up.  The Guerlain mascara was CRAZY clumpy and annoying and scented and just NO.  Buh bye.

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Above are two concealers I’ve had for well over 3 years a piece (possibly 4 for one) that I was tired of trying to ‘use up.’  The NYX Concealer in a Jar was decent but the shade wasn’t great except when I was tanned and could use it under eye.  The other pot there is theBalm Time Balm, and it was OK but too pink.  I checked both shades recently in natural light and was like ‘NO MORE’ so out they go!  The other two little pots there were samples of foundation – the one with ‘MJ’ on it was the Marc Jacobs foundation, which I actually liked a fair bit and would possibly purchase.  Not right now though, not until I use up at least 3 of the 5 or 6 I have kicking around :S  There are some Becca foundation samples in the back there that were just too dark for me – toss.  Finally, we have the pièce de résistance - the NARS Loose Powder I bought back in 2010 that JUST WON’T DIE.  So very, very done with this!

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There’s still some dregs in there but I don’t care, I’m OVER IT.  Also finished is the MUFE HD Powder that I got in a kit probably two years ago – POOF!  Hence why I was justified in buying the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette :)

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Ok. that’s it for the makeup.  I’m trying to slog through a few other makeup items that I’m hoping will be done in the next couple months.  Wish me luck!

Next, we have skincare.  Oodles and oodles!

IMG_0715Clockwise from top left: Clinique Moisture Surge Intense (sample), MD Formulations Moisture Defence Antioxidant Hydrating Gel, Clinique Even Better Eyes, Boscia Oil-Free Daily Hydration SPF15 (sample), Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream, Clinique Moisture Surge (sample)

The Clinique Moisture Surge original is a great aloe-based hydrator that just feels good on the skin.  It doesn’t treat dry skin long-term but it’s great for oilier skins like mine that just need a little somethin’ somethin’.  However, I DO NOT LIKE the Intense version, and I actually think it does funny things with my skin.  If I get any more samples of it I’ll be passing it along.  The MD product was great, as previously mentioned; the Even Better Eyes product was OK but didn’t blow my mind so I’d never spend my own money on it.  I think I liked the Boscia lotion, but my skin was getting irritated for some reason by something (I think it might be the sample I had of the UD foundation but not sure) and I was using this at the time so I’m hesitant to buy the full size. Lastly, I always like the Neutrogena cream and it’s a cheap and effective retinol product (albeit quite gentle).

Then we have the cleansers and exfoliants:

IMG_0718Clockwise from top: Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Balm, Vichy Purete Thermale (sample), Clinique Take the Day Off Makeup Remover (sample), REN Glycol Lactic Masque (sample), Kiehl’s Epidermal Re-Texturizing Micro-Dermabrasion

Another Clinique product line that I enjoy is the Take the Day Off (TTDO) products. Every time I get a sample of the TTDO eye makeup remover I’m glad to have it on hand, as it’s effective and gentle. The cleansing balm is great at getting off all makeup and sunscreen, and rinses off well without drying out the skin.  I probably wouldn’t use my own money to buy either, but that’s mostly because I sort of feel like all Clinique products should be free for me LOL.  The Vichy cleanser was OK for makeup-less skin, but otherwise meh.  The REN masque that everyone loves?  Not for me, really…it’s kinda scary on my sensitive skin, and I’ve since used other masques that blow my mind and work much better without any irritation at all (hint: La Bella Figura’s Bio Active Healing Mask.  Get it.  SOO GOOD.  Review forthcoming).  Lastly, the Kiehl’s scrub I got in a swap, and it was right around the time that I was over-exfoliating my skin in a bad way, which took a good year and a half to recover from.  Once I did, this was a nice product to buff the skin smooth but it is quite intensive, so I’d never repurchase and would caution against it for less hardy skin.

Now for my pile of organic samples and one full-sized organic product!

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I’ll start with the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Eye Treatment.  This was one big MEH from me.  Didn’t do any harm, but it didn’t do anything that wowed me either.  It didn’t feel nearly as lovely as the Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum sample I tried (above) which lasted me long enough to know that its GREAT and I will be buying it as soon as I use up my 10238 eye creams (or…5.  Still.  TOO MANY).

As for the other samples…lets divide them according to ‘awesome and will buy’ status or ‘save your money’ piles.  In the latter, we have May Lindstrom’s Youth Dew and the Problem Solver (too heavy / too messy), Lina Hanson’s Global Face Serum (odd smell, too heavy), Rahua Conditioner (odd smell, not heavy enough, and full-size is PRICEY at $34!), and the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (didn’t feel it did much of anything).  In the ‘awesome’ pile, the Babor body cream felt lovely on my dry body skin, with zero reactions; the One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin B Cleansing Oil takes off all traces of makeup, and rinses clean away without a cloth or left-over residue (though I still don’t love the strong fruity smell); the Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum felt great going on, with no reactions, and though I didn’t have enough to get a full test, will likely be purchased in the near future; the aforementioned Eye Serum by Kahina; and Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum (which I DID purchase and wrote about here).

You may notice I skipped a few samples….those would be in the ‘what the heck do I feel about these?’ pile – I just haven’t made a full decision on them yet and more samples may be required.  I only got one use out of the Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser so I can’t make any kind of judgement on it at all, sadly.  I really want to love May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt and I don’t feel like I got a good trial run with it, so I might try it out again and see how I feel the second time around.  The OLO Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum seemed great in some ways (it gives a FABULOUS glow), but it was another product I was using while my skin was getting a little irritated a while ago, so it’s possible this was the culprit.  Finally, OLO’s Easy Does It cleanser is a nice price at $29 for a big bottle, and can be used on face, body and hair (yay dual-purpose!), but I felt it might have been irritating to my skin (also using during that funny time period).  Probably all of those things I was using then I’ll have to re-try separately to weed out which was the baddie.

Wowza!  Thats a lot ‘o samples, yes.  We’re almost done folks, I hope you’re still with me!  We now come to body products.

IMG_0726Clockwise from top left: Clinique After Sun Rescue Balm, Organix Coconut Milk Hibiscus Creamy Body Wash, Kniepp Lavender Herbal Bath Soak, A-Derma Exomega Body Cream (sample), Haus of Gloi Aether Pumpkin Butters (x3), and Burt’s Bees Lemon Cuticle Balm 

Alrighty.  Clinique’s After Sun is a fave of mine that I just enjoy using in the summer after being out in the sun.  Soothing, cooling, and repairing.  The Organix body wash I liked so much I bought a second which I’m just finishing up now.  I probably won’t repurchase though where it’s still quite scented.  It didn’t seem to irritate but I should still watch what I’m using carefully.  The Kniepp soak I could never actually SOAK in (fragrance is right up with the first ingredients), but I used this for soaking my feet and its was lovely.

More evidence of my Haus of Gloi love with 3 jars gone; the A-Derma cream was actually quite nice, very hydrating and one of the few fragrance-free products from a line that designed for sensitive skin (WTF?!  You’d be surprised how often that happens, actually); lastly, my final jar of the Burts Bees cuticle balm, which I always enjoy.

Right, so let’s wrap this up eh?  The grand finale – hair products:

IMG_0725Left to right: Living Proof Satin Hair Serum (sample), Bumble & Bumble Texture styling cream, Desert Essence Coconut Conditioner, TIGI Bedhead Catwalk Curls Collection Curls Rock Amplifier (longest name of life!), Schwartzkopf Extra Care Deep Nutrition Shampoo, OJON Restorative Hair Treatment

The serum – meh.  Not notable to me.  The conditioner – smelled AMAZING and worked fairly well on my curly mop.  The fragrance seemed to be naturally sourced.  The TIGI product was actually really great – just a small pea size was needed and it controlled my hair well without being crunchy.  Lasted AGES too.  But I’m in the process of looking for an organic replacement, so…  The Schwartzkopf shampoo was a left behind product by a friend while in NZ.  Yes I’ve had it that long and just finished it!  What, I don’t shampoo often lol.  It was OK but I don’t think they sell it around here even if I wanted to repurchase (I don’t).  And lastly, the OJON treatment.  I remember getting a full size of this crap back in the day when it was a big deal and thinking it was just great.  I am SO over this brand now it’s not even funny, and my aunt keeps giving me more and more of it, ugh.  At least this was just a sample!

~nudges self awake~ OK So we’re done, yes!?  Woot!  Not only are these hard to get through, I know, but they’re hard to write! (at 10pm on a Sunday night, no less!).  Nonetheless, I’m glad I got ‘er done.  I hope it was *somewhat* helpful/interesting??  If not…well, maybe it will serve as a sleeping aid ;)

And with that, I bid you adieu!  Till next time, my friends.

How are your empties coming along???

 

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The Most Expensive and Glorious Body Product I Own: Lina Hanson Global Body Serum (Review)

Last month I lost my mind and ordered a $64CAD body oil.

!!!!!!!!!

I mean, OK, so I am a bit obsessed with cosmetics and maybe this doesn’t seem all that crazy to you.  But I mean, $64 for a 100mL bottle of Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum was a little bit steep, even for me.  If used regularly, it’d probably last me a month, tops.  And I do NOT make enough money to spend $768 a year on a body moisturizer (that’s $64 x 12 for those of you paying attention) – especially with my needy, dry, eczema-prone skin.  Nuh-uh, no way.

…But godDAMN if it isn’t the most luxurious, wonderful, $64 I’ve spent in a while!!!! :D

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Ok, so here’s the deal.  I kept reading over and over about how awesome this oil was, seeing photos of the sleek and classy black bottle, and how delicious it smelled (the rumors are true – JUST like an orange creamsicle, except in the most chic, sophisticated way possible), and I kept stalking it on Fresh Faced, waiting for it to come back in stock just to torture myself.  I mean, the product is hand-blended in small batches and is free parabens, artificial fragrance (yay!), silicone and other baddies – how could I resist?  Finally, one day while going through my routine ‘click on product, see it’s out of stock, regain sanity, repeat’ cycle, it happened – it was in stock and waiting for me to throw my wallet at it.

So I did.

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Oh happy day :)

Designed to relieve dryness and improve elasticity and skin circulation, the oil is slightly thicker than say, jojoba oil, but spreads relatively easily.  However, I can’t make the claim that a little goes a long way – I need a good 3-4 pumps to cover one arm, hence how I could go through this bottle in a mere month.  How I’ve been enjoying it without powering through it is adding a pump or two to my usual Haus of Gloi pumpkin butter, reaping the benefits of it’s amazing scent and nourishing ingredients (more on that in a minute).  On special days I’ll use it alone, mostly on my arms and shins, to bask in it’s glorious fragrance and really treat myself.  I find that used alone, it offers adequate hydration though I could use just a touch of something more in drier areas.  Paired with a moisturizer is really the best way to go for my skin anyway, at least during the colder months, and I don’t find I lose much of it’s efficacy that way so it’s a win-win.

Ingredients, for your perusal!

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If you’re at all familiar with various oils that are common to organic products, you’ll know that the line-up here is relatively basic but still full of superstar ingredients.  As I’ve been in the habit of reading labels for what seems like forever, upon reading this list I was pleased to see oils such as avocado, camellia, pumpkin seed, and rice bran, all of which are occlusive and protective to the skin – which is imperative for eczema sufferers like myself, as it keeps environmental triggers from coming in direct contact with the skin.  Additionally, most of these oils are anti-inflammatory, and there is a good mix of oleic and linoleic acids to both moisturize the skin and provide barrier support to retain that moisture as well.  Cool beans.

My only beef (aside from the painful price!) – and it’s not with the brand, but rather with the e-tailer – is that the ingredients listed on the Fresh Faced site are not the same as what is listed on the box.  It appears that they have replicated the Global Face Serum ingredients for the body serum, which may be a small error, true, but I purchased the oil based on the fact that I was intrigued by the marula and baobab oils, of which there are none in the actual product ~shrugs~  Happily, the product is still great and effective, so no harm no foul…but it’s something to be noted, to be sure!

If you’re feeling spend-y (as I have been lately) and are looking to tie in both hydration as well as a fabulous scent, look no further than this serum.  It’s definitely not a necessity, but the added touch of luxury has certainly made both my bathroom counter as well as my bod look just that much better ;)

What is the most expensive skincare product you’ve purchased before?

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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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