December 27, 2012

Abbey St. Clare Pomegranate Protection Hydrating Mist


Despite being in the middle of a midwest winter, my skin hasn't been needing the heavy duty moisturizers that I had purchased in preparation for the cold. Instead, I've really been loving light moisture sprays like this Pomegranate Protection Hydrating Mist from Abbey St. Clare (see also: my post on Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin). This mist is an extra step up from a basic moisturizer because it is filled with a cocktail of known good-for-skin natural ingredients. To name a few, this spray has MSM, DMAE, Green Tea, Rooibos Tea and Hyaluronate Acid. These are known to treat everything from wrinkles to acne to eczema to scarring. Pretty much any skin issue you can think of, this spray has an ingredient to help. It also happens to be a great makeup setting spray. It prevents makeup from looking too cakey, but leaves an extra smooth and finish that looks and feels natural.

Out of the bottle it smells really nice, like the pomegranate and rose hydrosols it contains. A faint hint of sulfur from the MSM can linger, which isn't ideal, but is never is too bothersome or strong. The product also has a really fast spray pump that takes some practice to get used to. I think it disperses the product into a fine mist, because I've noticed that despite using the product frequently, I haven't gone through that much of it. I also really love the metal bottle. Its sleek and a great alternative to plastic packaging.


Overall, this is a great multitasking product that is perfect to spray on before bed or when setting makeup. It's also nice to have around when I don't feel like putting any effort into skincare; just a couple quick sprays refreshes and treats my skin.

On a sidenote  in my last post, A Beginner's Guide to Healthy Cosmetics, I wrote that one of the advantages of choosing natural brands is that it often means supporting small, female-owned businesses. Abbey St. Clare is a perfect example a small cosmetics company by women, for women! They sell a huge range skincare and makeup items, and you can also check my beauty products Pinterest board for some of the other items I've had my eye on!

Ingredients: Rosa damascena, Santalum album, Lavandula angustifolia, Pelargonium roseum, and Melissa officinalis hydrosols; Extracts of Punica granata (Pomegranate), Camellia sinensis (Green Tea), Aspalathus lineans (Organic Rooibos Tea) Extract, Camellia sinensis (White Tea) Extract, Salix nigra (Black Willowbark); Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Dimethlaminoethanol (DMAE Bitartrate), Hyaluronate Acid, Vitamin E Tocopherol, Potassium sorbate, Sodium citrate, Rosemary verbenon essential oil, Pelargonium graveolens essential oil.

Where to buy: $16.50 at abbeystclare.com

Disclosure: Product provided by Abbey St. Clare. Opinions are my own. 

December 22, 2012

A Beginner's Guide to Healthy Cosmetics

Tips for buying and transitioning to safer products
I know this is a text heavy post, so for the Cliff Notes version, check the green portion.

I haven't done a post like this in quite a long time, and I wanted to provide some helpful tips for those who are beginners in the healthy and natural beauty world. I have been using natural products for about two and a half years, and and happen to have a little addiction to makeup. I know that making the switch can be very overwhelming at first, but it is also fun and exciting to discover all the great safer brands out there. I wanted to share some of my experiences, and some tips on what to expect for anyone who is just starting out.

First off, when you choose to select products with better ingredients, you won't be buying much from the drugstore or Sephora anymore. There are some exceptions to this, such as select products from Organic Wear by Physicians Formula from the drugstore, and some of the Bare Escentuals products. An important rule of thumb is that just because a company makes some products with acceptable ingredients, does not mean that everything they make does. This holds true for every brand and every website I mention in this post!

So you've cut out your drugstore/Sephora habit. Then where do you go? In general, there are a couple routes. One of the more affordable ways to go is to seek out independent handmade brands that are often sold directly through their own websites or local boutiques and markets. These brands are often sell skincare formulated with natural ingredients and mineral based makeup. This is a wonderful route to go because purchasing from such companies means supporting small, often female owned businesses. Examples of these brands are Silk Naturals, Nessa's Naturals, By Nieves, The All Natural Face, Madison Street BeautyPriia, and Bubble and Bee to name a few. I guarantee there are hundreds more, and I am always discovering new ones.

Now, a second route is to check out some of the many vitamin sites online. From what I gather, vitamins must be a big industry, and many sites that specialize in supplements also carry a large array of more natural products. I'm talking about websites like Vitacost (my favorite), Lucky Vitamin, iHerb and Vitaglo. These sites carry a large variety of products, some truly natural and some more "greenwashed." When shopping on these sites you will need to be discriminating, and also check with the manufacturer, because ingredients lists are not always up to date. However, if you can find the good products, you will score some great deals. These sites carry many of the same products that are sold at Whole Foods, but are almost always at a significant discount. Examples of brands you might find on these sites are Dr. Bronner's, Badger Balm, Acure Organics, Ecco Bella, Heritage Store, Weleda, Dessert Essence, Blum Naturals and Honeybee Gardens.

For skincare, you can also simplify with many of the products sold on these sites. Tons of great natural skincare lines exist, but some of the easiest and most affordable ways to go natural are to use basic ingredients and to make DIY items. Want examples? You can use honey to wash your face. There are a billion and one uses for unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Essential oils can be added to skincare for almost any skin condition imaginable. There is a wide array of carrier oils that are fantastic to moisturize with, and many often work well for particular needs. In fact, there is a blog called Beauty Huile completely devoted to the joys of using oil for skincare. And for more DIY inspiration, check out Crunchy Betty.

Another niche of the natural beauty market are the more luxurious brands sold on high end websites, such as Spirit Beauty Lounge, Charleston Naturally, Nobu Nau, Nature of Beauty and the naturals section of Dermstore.comThese stores carry many brands that have beautiful packaging and a higher price tag. This often corresponds to great ingredients and performance, but is absolutely not always true. Some of the brands you will find on these sites are Vapour Beauty, rms beauty, Ilia, Intelligent Nutrients, Revolution Organics, 100% Pure, Alima Pure, Jane Iredale, Juice Beauty and Dr. Hauschka.

Now, you have some ideas of where to look for products, but the work is not done yet. How do you select what products are the cleanest within these stores? My basic tip is this: learning the ingredients you want in your products is just as important, if not more important than learning what you don't want. For example, many people decided to avoid parabens, and seek out paraben free products. The issue with this is that there are many ingredients just as questionable, and often times brands replace parabens with other preservatives that are no better. Can you see how it is problematic when you are only scanning ingredients list for what to avoid? 

Instead of only checking lists for you don't want in your products, look at what is there and see if its something you want to use. Some of the things you will want to see are natural oils and waxes, plant extracts, and minerals (iron oxides, for example). Remember that INCI ingredients listed in their Latin names, so while simmondsia chinensis or olea europaea might sound a bit scary, this is the way jojoba oil or olive oil will be written on a label. Also, ingredients are listed on labels in order of their composition in the product (most to least), so you especially want the first ones you read to be beneficial.

The EWG Skin Deep database is a great way to start learning about ingredients, but you will soon find that finding healthy products is more nuanced than any numbering system can explain. Many have pointed out how some ingredients will get very high scores despite being relatively safe, while other chemicals that are concerning can get very low scores. As with many things in life, black and white thinking will not lead you in the right direction

Toxicity is related to dose and exposure, so you want to take this into account when selecting what products to buy and use and which ones to discard of. Consider how frequently you use a product  or are "exposed" to it.  Is it more important to chuck that bold eyeshadow you save for special occasions, or a moisturizer you apply all over your face twice a day? Make ingredients a high priority for the products you use heavily, and also consider what makes you happy. If you are really in love with that drugstore or high end lipstick you save for special occasions, don't throw it out — I certainly didn't.

Lastly, remember that every person has their own standards that they hold products to. What's not clean enough for one person may be fine for another. As long as people are making informed decisions, I am happy. We also have a great supportive community on blogs, twitter, YouTube and Facebook that are full of information, and are always willing to answer questions.

So that brings me to the end of this post. Switching to healthier products can be daunting, but it is absolutely doable. I absolutely love hunting around for products that have great ingredients and work well. I am a firm believer that you do not have to sacrifice performance of products when you make the switch.

With that said, if you are a veteran healthy beauty aficionado, what types of tips do you have for beginners? If you are new to healthy cosmetics, what questions do you have?

Disclosure: Some links are be affiliate. (Bubble and Bee, Vitacost, iHerb, Lucky Vitamin, Dermstore.com, Spirit Beauty Lounge)

November 24, 2012

Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin


Right now I am mildly obsessed with products that come in spray bottles. This sounds quite silly, but I love the convenience and ease of use of products that can be spritzed. For the face, they can easily be used for even coverage, and can be sprayed on top of foundation without messing up your makeup. That makes them a lot more versatile that things in squirt bottles, okay?

With that said, I am loving Heritage Store's Rosewater & Glycerin at the moment! It is a classic, inexpensive product that contains three simple ingredients: water, vegetable glycerin and hydroessential rose oil. Glycerin is a humectant that attracts moisture to your skin, and rose oil provides a crisp, girly scent.

I posted a popular toner recipe that has these ingredients plus witch hazel, but you can also skip the witch hazel with this product and it becomes less of a toner and smells much better! This is a super versatile and refreshing spray that I find myself reaching for all of the time. It's a nice "pick-me-up" and has a rose scent that isn't too strong or irritating. Here are some of the uses I've found for it:

  • Great as a setting spray over makeup. This is especially nice if you face feels too dry from powder, and gives a nice finish.
  • A light moisturizer and refresher for thirsty skin. This would also be really nice in the summer when you don't want to put anything heavy on your face.
  • Spritz on after cleansing and before moisturizing to make thick moisturizers spread a bit easier.
  • As a light perfume on your pulse points.
  • Anywhere on your body that needs a little moisture boost.

Do you use Rosewater & Glycerin? What uses have you found for it?

Ingredients: Vor-Mag Water (water that has been vortexed and magnetized to raise the energy to a higher vibration that we believe to be more beneficial), natural vegetable glycerine and hydroessential rose oil. (That Vor-Mag info sounds a bit nutty, doesn't it? Anyone have any real evidence of it's effectiveness?)

Where to buy: $6.69 for 8 oz on Vitacost. A smaller, more travel friendly 4 oz size is also available for $4.09.

Disclosure: Contains affiliate links.

November 15, 2012

Silk Naturals Bronzers

It's practically winter now, but that doesn't mean you can't have a summery bronze glow! Today I am bringing you, as promised, a review of the Silk Naturals bronzers. I am on the constant hunt for the best natural bronzing products, and since I'm a huge fan of the brand's eyeshadows, I decided to give their bronzers a try. The shades I got are Malibu Miss, Beach Bunny, Hula Honey and Tahiti Sweetie, and these are all of the ones they offer.

I have a lot of good things to say about these bronzers, I really think a lot of thought got put into formulating the color range. Each shade is very wearable and comes off naturally. None are too orange, and have a very sheer finish that blends right in with your skin. There is also a great range of colors that can work for many different skin tones. I also love that some are dupes for mainstream products.

Malibu Miss is their lightest color, and has a matte finish. I think the color is slightly lighter and more yellow toned that it looks in the picture on the website. I shied away from this color for a long time after I ordered it because I thought it would be too golden for my cool skin tone, and so matte it might look flat. I was wrong on both counts. It easily blends in with my skin tone, and I would describe the finish as semi-matte. It has a sheen to it that looks more natural than a flat matte color, but definitely no shimmer. Those who are so pale that they can't normally wear bronzer will probably really like this shade. I think it would also be great for lighter Asian skin tones. I have not seen any other brands with a color like this, so I highly recommend it.

Beach Bunny is another color that is good for fair skin tones. It is called a companion color for Malibu Miss on the website, and the two look great together. But Beach Bunny is also darker and less golden. I am fair with freckles, not ultra porcelain, and this is my perfect shade. It has some shimmer to it, but it is not too apparent on the face. I can use this for all over color, as a blush, or for contouring even though it is not matte. This is a really great shade for perking up your complexion and adding a subtle glow. I recommend this one for those of you on the fairer side.

Hula Honey is a shade that is supposed to be similar to Bare Minerals Faux Tan but less red. Faux Tan is probably the best bronzer I've ever used, so I was excited about this one. The color is deeper than Beach Bunny but also slightly shimmery. I do really like it, but probably not quite as much as Faux Tan, because that red undertone is what made it look so much like a natural tan. This is still a great option for  fair skin tones that want some extra color,  or for medium and tan complexions.

Tahiti Sweetie is Silk Naturals' dupe for Benefit's Hoola. I used to own that bronzer and really enjoyed it, it's a classic shade that a lot of people love. As far as I can remember, this is a very similar color. It is a real brown shade with no orange at all. It is very matte, so I think this is the ultimate contouring shade. This would be great for all over color for medium and tan skin tones, but don't be afraid of it if you are fairer. With a light hand and some blending this could look great on most complexions.

I do have a couple comments about the size of the product. I think it should come in a bigger container than the 10 gram jars because people tend to need a larger quantity of face product. I have been going through this stuff fairly fast because of the size. For comparison, these containers are actually the same size as Alima Pure and Everyday Minerals eyeshadows. The other issue with this size is that the lid is too small to fit a face brush into, so I have to use an old Everyday Minerals lid. Neither of these issues is a deal breaker for me because the price reflects the small size, and using another lid is just not the biggest deal in the word. But it would be nice if the company came out with a larger size.

Besides my issue with size, Silk Naturals has some more winning products here! If you are looking for an affordable bronzer that both looks and is natural, I suggest giving these a try.

Ingredients: Mica, Silica, Iron Oxides. Beach Bunny and Tahiti Sweetie also contain silk powder. 

Where to buy: $6.50 at silknaturals.com. Samples are also available for $1.25.

**And P.S. if you use your bronzer all over, you NEED this brush.

November 5, 2012

Real Purity Health Glow Foundation Review



I was recently offered the chance to try a product from Joy of Natural Joy Beauty. I'd come across her site before, and had been admiring the handpicked selection of natural products, most of which can't be found on the usual vitamin and high end natural sites. As soon as Joy contacted me I knew I wanted to try one of the foundations she offers. Since going natural, I haven't been too into foundation because many liquid products don't meet my ingredients standards, and I just was never into loose mineral powders. 

I am super impressed with both the performance and ingredients of this product. Because it goes all over your face, foundation is one of those items that you want to trust every ingredient in, and this one has a very short, clean ingredients list. The idea behind it is simple yet refreshing: instead of cramming a product full of preservatives so that it can last for years on your shelf, the foundation contains basic natural ingredients and needs to use it up in a a reasonable amount of time. The website recommends 6-9 months, easily enough time to go through the container. 


As for performance, the foundation gives a nice natural looking finish. When applied correctly, it does not look like you are wearing anything at all. I would describe the coverage as light to medium, depending on how much you use. It easily covers redness and unevenness. One of the things that sold me on this foundation is that it really absorbs into your skin and dries to a soft finish. That makes it easy to layer, and also means that it sets on its own without powder. That's one less step and one less layer on your skin! 


Here are some tips that make this product really work its best:

-A dense synthetic kabuki brush is essential for applying this foundation in my opinion. This makes the coverage much more even than a paddle foundation brush or with fingers. This foundation can get streaky if it's not applied correctly or if too much is used.
-If you have dry skin, I recommend moisturizing or spritzing a toner over your face before applying. A little toner or setting spray on top can also help if your skin is dry. It's not a foundation that will dry out your skin, but it can feel a bit dry.
-This product sets nicely and lasts a long time on it's own without a powder. If you want the fuller coverage or extra wear, a powder can be applied over, but the finish won't be quite as natural.

The foundation is fragrance free and has a really mild neutral smell. The simple ingredients also make it less likely to react with your skin. It contains non-nano Zinc Oxide and is SPF 15, a nice added benefit. The packaging is a convenient squirt top, making it easy to apply directly to the face or to put on the back of your hand to buff into a brush first.

Here's what the texture looks like. It's pretty liquidy.


If you are in need of a foundation with exceptional ingredients and don't need too much coverage, this is a great option!

Where to buy: $23.99 from Natural Joy Beauty. Samples are also available for 99 cents.

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Kaolin Clay, Rice Bran Oil, Iron Oxides, Zinc Oxide. No nanoparticles and SPF 15!

*press sample

October 21, 2012

New product! Honeybee Gardens Lipstick in Aztec



It's been awhile since I've talked about lipstick on this blog! If you've been reading for awhile, you know that Honeybee Gardens makes my absolute favorite natural lipsticks. I love that they offer actual full color lipsticks that are super moisturizing and have great ingredients. Now the company has stepped up its game with three new on-trend lip colors. Besides Aztec, the color I am writing about, Honeybee Gardens has released Bombshell, which looks to be a mauveish "your lips but better" type shade, and Superstitious, a super deep purpley black cherry color that is so, so huge right now if you've been watching beauty trends. But the one I fell in love with is Aztec, a color that sits somewhere between light orange and nude. 


And let me tell you, I'm obsessed with this lipstick. I'm a big fan of a light lip; baby pinks and flesh toned nudes are my favorite shades. I have to admit I often turn to mainstream lipsticks because I don't think enough natural companies make good nudes and pinks, but this color has quickly become one of my favorites. Aztec has a different effect depending on how you apply it. If you have a deeper skin tone this will read more nude, and if you're very fair, it's going to look more like a light orange. When I apply it very lightly, it gives my lips a peachy hue and looks slightly nude. If I build it up to full opacity, it looks like a light orange lip color. From these skin and lip swatches, you can see how its hue varies:

My favorite way to wear Aztec is to play up the color with a monochromatic peach toned makeup. It sounds a bit odd in writing but is actually very subtle and pretty. I bronze up a bit, add some peachy blush, use some peach and brown toned eyeshadows and then top it off with this lipstick. It's a perfect, warm everyday face.

What I love most about this color is that it's so unique. I'm pretty sure no other natural company makes a color like this. For any former mainstream beauty addicts, it's in the same family as MAC Peachstock or NYX Orange Soda, but it looks less dark than Peachstock and less pinkish than Orange Soda. Aztec is truly its own color!


Ingredients: canola oil, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, beeswax, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, tocopherol (vitamin e), origanum vulgare (oregano) leaf extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) bark extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) root extract. May Contain: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, ultramarine blue, carmine, manganese violet.


Where to buy: $11.99 at honeybeegardens.com


Disclosure: This product was sent to me for review consideration. Opinons are 100% my own. I'm a big fan of Honeybee Garden's lipstick line!

September 25, 2012

Jane Iredale Eye Steppes in goBrown

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to try Jane Iredale's Eye Steppes, a unique collection of shadows tailored to suit your eye color. Though I have bluish green eyes, I was drawn to the colors in the goBrown shades. Very few pressed products pass my ingredients standards, but these sets have jojoba oil, pine bark extract and pomegranate extract for binders instead of dimethicone. 

EcoTools Bamboo Bronzer Brush


Though I'm a bit dissatisfied with the bronzer I wrote about in my last post, I'm a huge fan of the brush I use it with. I'm convinced that EcoTools' Bronzer Brush is the absolute best beauty product you can find at the drugstore. Why?

September 11, 2012

Ecco Bella FlowerColor Bronzing Powder




Though fall is approaching, I'm still totally stuck on bronzers. I want the glow year round, so even in the dead of winter you'll find me reviewing them. So with that said, here's another bronzer review!

I've had my eye on these Ecco Bella FlowerColor Bronzing powders for quite some time. Ecco Bella is one of the few companies that makes pressed powders without any dimethicone, and their products are available on many natural websites including Vitacost and iHerb.

After I went through two entire containers of Everyday Minerals bronzers, I was excited to order the two Ecco Bella bronzers, Hibiscus and Sunflower. They both come in textured square paper/cardboard compacts that are actually very sturdy. They have a nice sized mirror inside, and close securely with an elastic band. I love this packaging, it is unique and practical. The powder itself comes stamped with "EB," which I think classy touch. In my picture, I've worn away the stamp on the Hibiscus color, but you can still see it on the Sunflower color.

Though I was quite excited about the presentation, I'm actually pretty disappointed the colors of the bronzers. Neither are quite the right tone to mimic a natural tan. The Hibiscus color isn't quite deep enough, even for my pale skin, and lacks the reddish tone that looks like a natural tan. It's almost a bit peachy. Sunflower is much deeper and orangey. Perhaps they'd work on some skin tones, but I think there are better colors out there. Because the shades aren't quite right for me, I probably won't repurchase these, unless they came out with some new colors.


Since I'm not so pleased with this product, I actually just ordered each color of the Silk Naturals bronzers. I have high hopes for these; they make dupes for two of my favorite mainstream products: Benefit Hoola and bareMinerals Faux Tan!

Price: I got mine for $14.27 on Vitaglo. This isn't my usual site for buying products, but Vitacost recently raised their prices on Ecco Bella products, and the bronzer costs $17.18 for Sunflower and $21.48 for Hibiscus. (Note to Vitacost: bring the price back down!)

IngredientsMica, kaolin, cornstarch, magnesium carbonate, zinc oxide, sweet almond oil, lecithin, flower wax coated iron oxides, vitamin E, aloe vera extract, green tea extract.

Disclosure: Contains affiliate link for Vitacost.

August 20, 2012

Waxelene


Vaseline is a beauty cabinet essential for many women (click the link  I just couldn't resist). However, many of us natural beauty enthusiasts choose to eschew the petroleum derived ingredient in favor of wax and oil based balms.

August 1, 2012

Extended travel packing redux

I'm all moved out of my apartment, and for the next month I will be on the go. The majority of my makeup collection is packed away in boxes, so I wanted to share with you my essentials for an extended travel without my full makeup set.

Makeup
Ecco Bella Flowercolor blushes in a Z PaletteEcco Bella Flowercolor bronzing powder in HibiscusEveryday Minerals Happiness bronzerSilk Naturals Stick 'Em eyeshadow enhancerHoneybee Gardens JobaColors Eyeliner in Jet SetLauren Brooke Cosmetiques concealerRMS cream eyeshadow in Lunar, Nessa's Naturals eyeshadows in Vapor and DashCoastal Classic Creations eyeshadow in Coastal Evenings, Silk Naturals eyeshadows in SierraEu-Taupe-ia and Nudge NudgeReviva Labs mascara in brownPhysicians Formula Organic Wear Lash Boosting mascara in black















The only reason I am traveling with my entire Z Palette of blushes is because I am afraid of them breaking if I pack them. The Ecco Bella pressed blushes are great, but more fragile than their mainstream counterparts. Besides that, I brought all my usual essentials, including my two new favorite mascaras to layer. The combination of the Reviva Labs formula and the Organic Wear brush make super dramatic and full lashes, as good as any drugstore variety I've tried. I brought two bronzers; Ecco Bella Hibiscus for a wash of color all over the face, and the darker Everyday Minerals Happiness bronzer for contouring. I also brought eyeshadows for two of my favorite eye looks. The first combination is Nessa's Naturals Dash on the lid, with Silk Naturals Sierra in the crease and the bottom lash line. The second is Nessa's Naturals Vapor on the lid, with Silk Naturals Eu-Taupe-ia in the crease and Silk Naturals Nudge Nudge smudged on the bottom lash line. But maybe I will try mixing it up a little.

Brushes
EcoTools blush brushSigma F82 round kabukiReal Techniques buffing brushEveryday Minerals eye kabuki, Essence of Beauty wide eyeshadow & smokey brush (available at CVS), MAC 224 tapered blending brushSigma E35 tapered blending brushmark. eye shadow brushBdellium Tools 780 pencil brushSigma E30 pencilEcoTools angled eyeliner brushReal Techniques pixel-poing eyeliner brush



If you saw my last travel kit, you'd see I downsized with brushes a bit. Here's a few notes on some of the brushes. The Essence of Beauty double sided smokey brush is one of the best you will find at the drugstore (available at CVS). It alone can be used to create a simple defined look. The mark. brush is an old, cheap item from my collection, but it is my absolute favorite eyeshadow brush. It's great because it's small and a bit pointed, so you can lay down shadow very precisely, or even use it to put color in the crease. I'm tempted to buy another one because I love it so much! The Bdellium bamboo brushes are absolutely fabulous and the size make them perfect to travel with. I wish I had a whole set of them. The Sigma E30 Pencil is a brush I use this differently than I thought I would. When I bought it, I thought it would be a firm, true pencil brush, but it is actually pretty soft and flexible. It can't be used for lining, but is actually really great for placing color precisely in the crease, and blending it out a bit. Surprisingly, this is hands down my most used brush.

Skincare






I'm not that into skincare, so I really just bought the basics and sun protection - the absolute most important thing for these August days. I like using the Badger sunscreen for my face, and the True Naturals sunscreen for body. I like the True Naturals sunblock because it goes on sheerer than other natural versions I've tried, and it's nano free. I'm also loving the Nessa's Naturals Champagne Pear roll on perfume. The scent is fruity but still adult, and very clean. Also, it's a great price at $5! I'll be ordering more of these.

A couple of ingredients notes: I don't like the preservative combination of sodium benzoate and citric acid used in Blum wipes, but they are very convenient, if only for travel. For normal times I prefer a cleanser without sodium benzoate so theres no chance of getting any benzene in your products. I've also heard that the mineral crystal deodorants are not that safe after all, but haven't seen many sources. I'll probably use this up than switch back to something I 100% trust, like Soapwalla

So that's everything I'm carrying around. What are your summer essentials?

Disclosure: Everything shown was purchased by me, except the Waxelene. Post contains some affiliate links.

July 22, 2012

Badger Damascus Rose SPF 16 Face Sunscreen Lotion


Let's keep things simple. You know why you should use sunscreen, and you know most mainstream sunscreens have some nasty chemicals in them. The downside with many truly natural and safe sunscreens is that they can be thick and heavy  which is alright for the sake of function, but not so much fun to put on your face.

July 4, 2012

100% Pure Powdered Eye Shadow in Vanilla Sugar

It is incredibly difficult to find pressed eyeshadows with truly good ingredients. Many contain dimethicone – or other chemical binders and emollients . Although I love the intensity of my loose mineral shadows, I do find myself sometimes missing the convenience of pressed products. So when Mia from Alex + Von offered to send me a product from 100% Pure, I was excited to try one of their powdered shadows. Not only are these shadows free of synthetics, they are pigmented with fruit instead of iron oxides.   

This is the first natural pressed shadow I have ever used, and I am quite pleased with it. It has a very smooth creamy texture, but when swatched is a little sheerer and less pigmented than other shadows I have worked with. However, when it is patted on the lid with a dense base shadow brush, it goes on perfectly and looks more pigmented. It also blends easily with my loose mineral shadows. This color is great added under the eyebrow and in the inner corner for a subtle highlight, or as a base color with a slightly darker color in the crease for a subtle sculpted looked.

I am so excited to finally have a pressed natural shadow in my collection. This is perfect for throwing in my purse, or traveling with. I will definitely be trying more colors from 100% Pure's selection of neutral, wearable shades.

Ingredients: Organic Rice Starch, Pigments of Organic Carrot, Organic Cocoa, Organic Apricot, Organic Peach, Papaya and Organic Tomato, Vitamin E (a-tocopherol), Organic Lavender, Organic Rosehip Oil, Organic Avocado Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, Vitamin C (ascorbyl palmitate), Silica, Mica. Note: A couple of the colors from this line have Vitamin A as an ingredient, which I recommend avoiding. Make sure to check the ingredients for each individual color before you purchase. 

Price: $15 Alex + Von or 100% Pure

Disclosure: This product was sent to me as a press sample from Alex + Von consultant Mia Bell. Opinions are 100% my own and I am under no obligation to review anything.

May 6, 2012

Nessa's Naturals Mineral Eye Shadows












I've been especially into eyeshadow in the past couple months, and these ones from Nessa's Naturals have quickly become some of my favorites from my collection. Nessa's Naturals is a little handmade company that I found through Healthy Beauty Social, and have had my eye on for a while. I finally decided to make a purchase after I saw all the gorgeous shadow colors.

I will say the website is a little difficult to navigate, so I recommend checking out facebook albums to see what colors you like. I thought all of the ones I picked out looked pretty in the pictures, but all were so much more impressive in person.

After lots of consideration, I picked out Frolic, Dash, Vapor and Visitor. Frolic is the best warmed toned shadow I own; it is reddish but somehow does not make me look tired. Dash is my go-to lid color, and might be my very favorite eyeshadow, period. It doesn't look particularly exciting swatched, but on the lid it is incredibly flattering. I've gotten lots of compliments wearing it, and it looks especially great with a neutral brown eyeshadow in the crease. Vapor is a great cool toned lid color that blends well with taupe shadows. Visitor is a really fun green color that I use as a liner on my lower lash line on days that I feel like adding a little color.























I highly recommend taking the time to check out the minerals from Nessa's Naturals; the colors are a gorgeous and last all day with a primer (I currently use this one from Silk Naturals). The company also carries all sorts of other makeup and skin care, and usually includes some extra goodies with your order. I absolutely will be making more purchases in the future.

Ingredients: Micas, Sericite.  May contain:  Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxide, Tin Oxide, Magnesium Stearate, Carmine and Silk Sericite Mica. All shadows are nanoparticle free.

Price: $6 each at nessasnaturals.com

March 28, 2012

Alima Pure Let Them Eat Cake collection


First off, I apologize for my long hiatus from blogging! I am finishing up my last semester of school, and life has been pretty much non-stop these past couple months. To add to that, I've had limited access to a camera, so I've had several barriers in getting up new posts.

That said, I'm excited to share with you a recently released collection from Alima Pure. Cutely titled Let Them Eat Cake, this dessert-inspired eyeshadow collection contains Devil's Food, a dark shimmery cool to neutral brown, Red Velvet, a warm brown with a reddish undertones, Strawberry Shortcake, a light pink that appears more frosted on the skin, and Angel Food, a golden champange shimmer. 

At first glance, I thought the colors were pretty, but not very suitable for me. I like cool toned neutrals, and I don't tend to wear pink. But I was all wrong, I wear these all the time and have gotten lots of compliments. The light colors, Strawberry Shortcake and Angel Food, are super pigmented and add a ton of sheen and shimmer to your lid. On me, Strawberry Shortcake looks more cool and flesh-toned than pink, which I really like. The darker colors are great because they can easily be sheered out and blended, which makes them very wearable for day use, or piled on darker for smokey night looks. I pair Red Velvet with many of my other tan and warm shadows, and unlike many warm shades, it does not make my eyes look red or tired. Devil's Food is even more versatile, and I often pair it with cooler shades. I also use both of them smudged along the lower lashline all the time.

If you're interested in swatches, I posted a picture on my twitter here. This blog also has an intense amount of photos!

IngredientsMica (CI 77019). May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides ( CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Ferric Ferrocyanide (CI 77510). Note: I always prefer products without ferric ferrocyanide, but am making an exception because I really love these shades. I am guessing the only ones that have it are Strawberry Shortcake and possibly Devil's Food

Price: $32 at alimapure.com. The actual kit contains full sized eyeshadows, the ones shown above are sample sized.

Disclosure: The products in this post were provided from Alima Pure as PR samples. This does not affect my views of the product, and opinions are 100% my own.

February 8, 2012

Silk Naturals swatches: taupe city!


I think I can credit Catie for first introducing me to Silk Naturals. It took a while for me to actually commit to buying anything from the brand, but then I had an epiphany with eyeshadows. Cool and neutral colors tend to work better on me than warm ones. That made me want to try a variety of shades, and at $4 a shadow, Silk Naturals was a brand I could afford a bunch of colors from.

January 24, 2012

Review: Sibu Beauty Cleanse & Detox Sea Buckthorn Facial Soap

You may recall seeing a box from Sibu Beauty in my haul from VitaCost last month. I had heard about this natural company through a YouTube guru who uses mainstream products, and was surprised to see that their items really did have good ingredients. I loved that the facial cleansing bar was so affordable, so I decided to pick one up.

I've been using the soap at night for about a month now, and I've really been loving it. I know a lot of people don't like it when you wash your face and your skin feels tight after, and this does not do that. It has a very mild scent, and it feels very gentle. I liked the scent at first, and it has grown on me the more I get used to it.


The best part is its effect on my skin. Ever since I incorporated this cleanser into my routine, my skin is calmer. It's just not freaking out. I have gotten a breakout or two, but much milder and less often then normal, and they go away quickly. I have an oily forehead that just never seems to get clear, but this has made it far more even and smooth. I've even gone more days with less makeup.


I really look forward to using this every night, along with my
homemade toner and a moisturizer. It's a simple, clean, affordable and effective product. What's not to love?

EWG Rating (preliminary): 0

IngredientsCoconut oil, palm oil, safflower oil, glycerin, purified water, oatmeal, sodium hydroxide (not in end product), sea buckthorn puree, sorbitol, sorbitan oleate, fragrance orange/lemon*, soybean protein, sea buckthorn leaves, titanium dioxide. 
*I called the company and they said that the fragrance is from essential oils of orange and lemon. I love that they had a phone number where I could just talk to someone directly about ingredients. No waiting for an email response!

Price
: I got mine off of Vitacost for $5.91. You can also get a pack of three on their website for $16.95. Whatever you choose, this is an affordable product!

January 22, 2012

Homemade rosewater & witch hazel toner


Lately I've had a fascination with homemade beauty products. I've been bookmarking websites left and right that have recipes and ideas. I was thinking about making a toner out of rosewater, witch hazel and glycerin, because why not combine three ingredients you like?

I searched for recipes to get an idea for proportions, and found this one with the exact ingredients I wanted to use. I adjusted a little bit, because I wanted a slightly higher proportion of witch hazel. I think you can really alter the proportions however you want, but I wouldn't add too much more glycerin. 

It is extremely simple to make, you just put everything into a bottle, shake up, and voila. I used a glass bottle that my kombucha came in, because I am trying to reduce my plastic usage. Unfortunately, all of the ingredients did come in plastic bottles.

So far, I am loving this toner. I use it right after washing my face, and it removes makeup my cleanser missed. My face feels clean after, but it is gentle and does not sting. I like it better than the witch hazel alone, because it  is milder and the glycerin is a humectant that helps the skin retain moisture.

I do not like the smell of witch hazel, and I was hoping the rosewater would overpower it. Instead, it combined with it, so the toner does have a bit of a strange scent. It won't be for everybody, especially if you don't like the smell of roses. If you're sensitive about scents this is probably not the right the right thing for you. However, I've noticed that after I put it on, I can slightly smell the rosewater, but the witch hazel scent is gone. 
Rosewater and Witch Hazel Toner 
1.25 cups rosewater*
1 cup witch hazel
8 small squirts of vegetable glycerin
*If you want to add another DIY element to this, you can make your own rosewater, but then it will need to be stored in the refrigerator. 
Recommended Brands

Witch Hazel: Humphrey's Homepathic Remedies
$3.60 at iherb.com

Rosewater: Heritage Store
$6.52 at iherb.com

NOW Foods Vegetable Glycerine
$6.87 at iherb.com

Coupons!!
*Use code JOB127 at iherb.com for $5 off your first order or $10 off your first order of $40 or more.

Contains affiliate links.

January 10, 2012

TKB Trading micas

Here's a great option for those of you who like bargains and super pigmented eyeshadows. Try buying mica in its unmixed form from a company such as TKB Trading. After watching YouTube videos and checking out blogs, I decided to order some micas from them. They have a huge array of super gorgeous colors, including many neutrals. A sample size costs $1.50, but it's not a "sample" by any means! One sample baggie has more than enough to fill a blush container to the brim. 

These are micas, not eyeshadows, and you may be asking how they can be used. In fact this is the most asked question on TKB's FAQs:
Question: Can the colored mica be used as pigment eye shadows or do you have to do anything special to them to be able to use them as eyeshadow? 
Answer: There is no particular harm in using our eye-permitted micas and pigments directly as an eye shadow. The problem is that the results will probably not satisfy you. The mica will fall off too easily. 
As they note, the mica alone is loose alone and will fall off too much. However, there are several ways to remedy this. My favorite way is to mix it with a medium or foil it and then apply to the lid. Another way to do it is to apply some type of base with a little bit of creaminess or stickiness to the lid first and then applying the shadow. Then, it is easy to use and the results are great! I've worn these pigments plenty of times, and you can also find tutorials all over YouTube of how to work with them.

Here's some swatches of the ones I got:

Though they all look glittery in the direct sunlight, Honey Mica and Antique silver are the only ones that actually are in normal light. The rest are more shimmery or frosted. My absolute favorite is Chameleon, a warm reddish brown that has a blue duochrome. It's warm in some lights, cool in others: it's just so neat and sophisticated! I'm also a big fan of Bronze Fine and  Moonstone Mica. I use all of the warm toned ones on the face for blush, bronzer or highlight, or mixed in with my mineral products to add extra shimmer and pigment. They are so versatile!

Ingredients: Varies for each pigment. Most contain a combination of mica, titanium dioxide and iron oxides. Some also contain carmine, tin oxide, bismuth oxychloride, ferric ferrocyanide or FD&C dyes. When purchasing pigments I recommend avoiding colors with FD&C dyes, ferric ferrocyanide, or bismuth oxychloride. Ingredients are available for each individual color on the website. All pigments are sold uncoated and do not contain nanoparticles.

Price: $1.50 each at tkbtrading.com

January 4, 2012

Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Creme Concealer

I recently ran out of my favorite Vapour concealer, and even though I was happy with it, I wanted to test drive one from another natural beauty brand. Originally I was looking at rms "Un" Cover-Up, but then I found this concealer from Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques for literally a third of the price. It has a great list of ingredients, including jojoba oil, rosehip oil, green tea and raspberry extract. It even has carrot seed oil and eyebright extract to help heal blemishes. All of the brand's products are free of nanoparticles, chemical preservatives, synthetic dyes, and all those other nasties you wouldn't want in your makeup.

Here's natural light and flash swatches of the light neutral concealer I bought, along with swatches of the samples of light warm concealer and guava lip glaze that were included with my order:
Both of the colors match me pretty well, but I think the neutral one does better - so I made the right choice. And I have to say I love the performance of this stuff. It is very creamy and gives a nice amount of coverage. It also looks very natural. When I think of many full coverage products, I think of cakeyness, but this product applied looks like skin. You could even use this as a thick foundation if you have larger problem areas. The concealer is available in 6 colors: light medium and dark in both warm and neutral undertones. 

As for the guava lip glaze, the swatch on the right is much more true to color. This is not my kind of color for the lips, but it actually has worked nicely on me as a cream blush. 

Another great thing about this brand is that it participates on Healthy Beauty Social. So if you want, you can actually talk to Lauren herself about her products through the network. I also love that my order came with two samples in a nice little organza bag.

Overall I'm highly satisfied with this product, I think I may even like it a bit better than the Vapour concealer. For $10 less, I definitely like the price better! Lauren Brooke makes a lot of other nice looking foundations, including a pressed one that I really have my eye on. So this is definitely a company you will be hearing more from me about in the future!

EWG Rating: 1

IngredientsCaprylic/Capric Triglyceride (edible plant-based oil), zinc oxide, certified organic beeswax, certified organic jojoba oil, silica, certified organic rosehip oil, neem oil, certified organic green tea extract, certified organic olive extract, eyebright extract, carrot seed essential oil, certified organic raspberry extract, natural vitamin e oil, certified organic lime extract, certified organic tangerine extract (+/- Iron Oxides, Ultramarine, Mica).

January 3, 2012

Móa, The Green Balm

Here's a post special for my U.K. readers. 

Have you guys read about balms and salves enough on this blog yet? I personally won't ever get sick of them, they are a natural beauty addict's best friend. So here I go with another one to share with you. This one is called Móa, or The Green Balm.

This little balm is made of great ingredients like coconut oil, sweet almond oil and tea tree oil. Because the coconut oil is the base, it is softer and smoother than other balms. What I enjoy the most about it is that it is very mildly aromatic. This isn't like Mentholatum or anything - it's just cooling in a subtle way. It also has a great clean smell to it. 

The balm is great relief for chapped skin, such as around your nose during a cold or dry winter hands. I also love this to remove eye makeup, relive itchy eczema skin, and to put over bug bites and cuts. Their website also has whole lists of things you can use it for first aid and beauty.

The price point is affordable, and I love that they have a smaller size available to try. I recommend checking this out if you need an all purpose balm, especially if you live in the U.K.! This is the perfect little balm to carry around in your bag.

IngredientsCoconut oil, sweet almond oil, soybean oil, beeswax, yarrow extract, water, tea tree leaf oil, limonene (from tea tree oil). Note: yarrow extract has an EWG rating of 3 for allergies/immunotoxicity.

Price£9.99 at thegreenbalm.com, and they ship internationally. Smaller sizes are also available for 
£4.99. In the U.S. it is available for $13.08 with free shipping at feelunique.com.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me to try as a PR sample. Opinions are 100% mine and I do not feature products I do not like. 

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