Winter Essentials Tag: Osmia Organics and Flight Skincare

Last winter, I was tearing my hair out trying to keep my face from feeling dry and tight. I was layering oils on oils, oils on creams, creams on oils, the whole shebang (which, fun fact, I just learned refers to #! in the computer science world). I was spritzing my face constantly throughout the day but feeling dry again within 15 minutes.

This winter, even when it dropped to negative degrees, I only felt that way once or twice. Once or twice vs. the entire winter? Huge improvement.

The lovely Ru from Short Small Sweet tagged me for my winter essentials, and here they are: Osmia Organics’ Active Gel Toner and Flight Skincare’s Floating Hydration Serum.

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly small size of AGT–the first time I used it, I pumped all the way down, getting a handful of gel, and later on in my routine when I put on foundation, it pilled (making those gross eraser-like marks). I sent out an SOS to Osmia Organics’ founder Sarah on Twitter, and she said she only uses a dab each time. The amount shown in the picture below requires like 1/5 of the pump, and that + a damp face/toner is more than enough.

AGT goes on after I cleanse and before I moisturize. I give it 30-60 seconds to set (per bottle instructions), and then proceed with my oil + serum concoction of the day. When fall started to kick in, I didn’t feel the drying effects at all, except for the one day I neglected to apply this. When winter started to kick in, I still wasn’t feeling it, until that one negative degree day, but then again, at that point, you should just start wearing ski masks because weather is weather.

First on the ingredients list is aloe, followed by a beautiful list of extracts, a preservative that’s NOT phenoxyethanol (it can be done!)niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid has been getting a lot of love for its hydration superpowers–it’s featured in Tata Harper’s well-loved toner, it was even used as a selling point in a conventional setting powder. It’s naturally produced in the deepest layers of our skin, and supplementing with more hyaluronic acid encourages the skin to retain moisture and to stay supple.

Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, while less popular than hylaluronic acid but by no means less cool, has been reported to improve barrier function and decrease the signs of photoaging (hyperpigmentation, fine lines). It is, quote, effective at alleviating dry skin conditions, and indeed it has been for me. Score!

The extracts include rose of jericho, white tea, and oat beta glucan. Rose of jericho is super, super cool because its plant is able to survive extreme dehydration through a process only found in two plants (itself being one) called trehalose accumulation. So it knows how to keep itself hydrated. On top of these hydrating ingredients are the calming white teaaloe, calendula, and smoothing oat beta glucan (sorry gluten-free folks).

I picked and started using Flight Skincare’s Floating Hydration Serum on a whim and then fell full in love with it. I am so into oils–I love the texture, I love the colors, I love how my skin loves it. But when I need an extra boost of hydration, an aloe-rich serum has been my favorite cherry on top. To supplement AGT, I began mixing half a dropper of FHS with an oil.

Technically, the directions say to use a full dropper for your entire face and neck, which I did try, and while it kept my face feeling hydrated throughout a day of cross-country flying (can’t use enough exclamation points to express that this never happens!!!), it can feel like a lot of serum for not enough face in my opinion, and it takes time for it to sink in all the way, and I love oils, so I preferred mixing with oil to get the best of both worlds.

In the winter of either California or Baltimore, this gave my face a serious glow of hydration. Not a grease glow, but a healthy glow and my face just felt marvelously hydrated.

What drew me initially wasn’t the aloe (which is well known for its hydrating, anti-inflammatory, burn-healing properties), but the various extracts: pomegranate, wild yam (um, YUM), and green tea.

Pomegranate extract is antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, and has strong free radical scavenging activity, which is great for strengthening the skin and fighting off the signs of aging by protecting from cellular damage. There was even a study done on Asian males where it was shown pomegranate extract can have pretty good control over melanin activity (hyperpigmentation, begone!).

Wild yam extract excited me because I’ve never seen it in a product before–it’s apparently like ascorbic acid (basically the very effective vitamin C which sometimes can be irritating)’s little sister. In a study done comparing free radical scavenging activity, wild yam extract trails ascorbic acid on the efficacy chart by an average of 20%. Not a huge deal for me, because it contains phytosterols which has been effective in blocking the reduced synthesis of collagen after exposure to UV rays as well as stimulating further collagen production (yay!).

I mentioned green tea extract in my review of the #ED4OLO Vitamin C Serum (here), so I will briefly recap here: it boosts vitamin C in being more effective and it itself is a great source of antioxidants.

After giving this a shoutout in my #GreenSurvivor Challenge video (watch it here if you haven’t yet!), the lovely Kym from Flight Skincare posted about the vitamin C-rich lilly pilly extract on Instagram (see it here), and I couldn’t believe I had glossed over it on the ingredients list initially (probably blinded by hearts in eyes by the time I got to the middle of the list). Turns out this Aussie plant is really high in vitamin C (so woot–that green tea’s got something to boost)–one study cites the number as high as 174mg AAE/g (ascorbic acid equivalents per gram) in lilly pilly extract. For comparison, Google says there’s about 55mg in a small orange.

Now the crazy hydration–I’m guessing it’s coming from the combination of humectants (aloe, vegetable glycerine, honey, floral waters) and squalene, an occlusive. Vegetable glycerine is a humectant, so it binds/attracts moisture to the the skin. It’s also tacky, so I’m thinking it’s partially what gives the serum it’s main tacky texture. Honey is also a well-known humectant that is often used as a moisturizing mask or even a cleanser (reminds me of my old DIY days). Add to that the occlusive squalene, which forms a barrier on the skin preventing water loss, and you get seriously hydrated skin.

Special mention goes to mimosa oil (which just reminds me of that scene in The Incredibles where he’s on the plane and is sipping a mimosa), which besides having the effect of making everyone thirsty for brunch, smells floral + woody and may have calming properties on the skin.

tl;dr Hydration heroes: a gel toner after cleansing and before moisturizing delivering hydration to the deepest levels of the skin + a milky serum with a great combination of humectants and and an occlusive. Absolute winter essentials.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts? If not, what were your winter essentials been?

Also, since we are in an awkward time transitioning over to spring (finally!), I want to hear either your winter essentials or tell me in couple weeks (or months) what your spring essentials are Naturally Marcy, Plein Vanity, Green Beauty Babe, and Let’s Talk about Green.

Disclaimer: I purchased AGT from Osmia Organics and was sent the Floating Hydration Serum graciously from Flight Skincare along with my order of their cleansers after a shipping mishap. I am not being compensated in any way for my words. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Osmia AGT ingredients: aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin*, camellia sinensis (white tea) extract*, calendula officinalis extract*, lactobacillus/oat ferment extract filtrate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), lactobacillus ferment, selaginella lepidophylla (rose of jericho) extract, hyaluronic acid, sclerotium rolfsii gum, [gluconolactone (and) sodium benzoate], sodium bicarbonate, proprietary blend of organic and wild-harvested essential oils

*=CERTIFIED ORGANIC, 81.2% certified organic ingredients

Flight FHS ingredients: Aqua, Aloe Barbadensis( Aloe Vera) Leaf Gel,Vegetable Glycerine,* Citrus aurantium (Neroli ) Water,Jasminum nudiflorum (Jasmine) Water, Sorbitol, Squalene (Olives)*(Honey),*Punica granatum (Pomegranate) extract, Dioscorea villosa (Wild Yam) extract, Syzigium australe (Lilly Pilly) extract,* Camelia synensis (Green Tea) extract, Citrus aurantium (Orange) Water, Limnanthes alba (Meadowfoam),Zanthomonas campestris (Xanthan) Gum, Hydroxyethylcellulose( Plant derived amino acid), Parfum (Vanilla & Almond), Albizia julibrissin Durazz (Mimosa) Oil,

* Certified Organic ** Wild Harvested

Additional Sources:

Bissett, D. L., et al. “Topical Niacinamide Reduces Yellowing, Wrinkling, Red Blotchiness, And Hyperpigmented Spots In Aging Facial Skin.” International Journal Of Cosmetic Science 26.5 (2004): 231-238. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Dweck, Anthony C. “The Wild Yam – Review of Dioscorea Species.” Personal Care Magazine 3.3 (2002): 7-9. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Grether-Beck, S., K. Mühlberg, H. Brenden, and J. Krutmann. “Topische Applikation Von Vitaminen, Phytosterolen Und Ceramiden.” Der Hautarzt 59.7 (2008): 557-62. Web.

Mohammed, D., P. J. Matts, J. Hadgraft, and M. E. Lane. “In Vitro-In Vivo Correlation in Skin Permeation.” Pharmaceutical Research 31.2 (2014): 394-400. ProQuest Central. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Mohammed, D., J.m. Crowther, P.j. Matts, J. Hadgraft, and M.e. Lane. “Influence of Niacinamide Containing Formulations on the Molecular and Biophysical Properties of the Stratum Corneum.” International Journal of Pharmaceutics 441.1-2 (2013): 192-201. Web.

Parveen, Rashida, Naveed Akhtar, and Tariq Mahmood. “Topical Microemulsion Containing Punica Granatum Extract: Its Control Over Skin Erythema And Melanin In Healthy Asian Subjects.” Advances In Dermatology & Allergology / Postepy Dermatologii I Alergologii 31.6 (2014): 351-355. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Roy, Anitha, et al. “In Vitro Antioxidant And Free Radical Scavenging Activity Of The Ethanolic Extract Of Dioscorea Villosa (Wild Yam) Tubers.” Drug Invention Today 3.9 (2011): 214-215. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Scott Danos, C. “Bruise Amelioration And Skin Benefits From Glycerin And Natural Triglyceride.” Cosmetics & Toiletries 129.6 (2014): 50-56. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Vázquez-Ortíz, F. A., and E. M. Vatenzuela-Soto. “HPLC Determination Of Trehalose In Selaginella Lepidophylla Plants.” Journal Of Liquid Chromatography & Related Technologies 27.12 (2004): 1937-1946. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Vuong, Quan V., Sathira Hirun, Tiffany L.K. Chuen, Chloe D. Goldsmith, Michael C. Bowyer, Anita C. Chalmers, Phoebe A. Phillips, and Christopher J. Scarlett. “Physicochemical Composition, Antioxidant and Anti-proliferative Capacity of a Lilly Pilly (Syzygium Paniculatum) Extract.” Journal of Herbal Medicine 4.3 (2014): 134-40. Web.

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#GreenSurvivor Challenge Empties

You may have noticed something sneaky pop up on my Twitter feed the other day. That’s right: Nephriticus is on YouTube! I didn’t ask for your video suggestions during my Birthday Giveaway all for nothing–I am eager to expand on the YouTube space so I can show #greenbeauty products in action, and I’m kicking it off with a recap of my empties from Tamara’s #GreenSurvivor Challenge. Hop on over here to check it out, and please let me know your thoughts and suggestions!

YÜLI Cell Perfecto PM

After two months of YÜLI Cell Perfecto PM and summer break, a classmate said to me, “Your skin is so much better.” (August 2013)

After three months, I had gone three weeks without foundation. (September 2013)

After five months, there was no question I was purchasing my second bottle. (December 2013)

After a year, I was pouring out the last drops of my second bottle and was so happy with how much this serum has healed my skin. (July 2014)

Rewinding backwards, my skin had gone from extreme pimply mess to scarred mess after finally realizing straight coconut oil, with all of its beautiful nourishing and anti-bacterial properties, was just not my friend (January 2013). Fabiana (Beauty Idealist) gave this the holy grail sticker after seeing icepick scars rehabilitate into normal tissue–cue the start of a steady, two-bottle long, I’ll-see-you-every-night affair.

Left to right: after 1 month of use – after 2 months of use.

Cell Perfecto PM + three months = three weeks without foundation. In the hot, humid summers of Taiwan and Baltimore my makeup routine consisted only of my eye makeup routine despite all tomato-face tendencies. Plus a new cheek makeup routine–I had previously sworn off any blush or bronzer because my acne scars were rosy enough, but at this point, my scars had faded to the point where I was comfortable adding in a healthy flush à la Kjaer Weis Cream Blush in Suntouched.

During this sweaty time, a face mist + three drops of Cell Perfecto PM was enough to moisturize my face at night. To be fair, given hormonal fluctuations, varied diet, varied stress (hey multiple midterms and finals), and varied products, I plopped back on the foundation weeks later in the name of hide-and-seek with the pimples.

Left to right: after 2 months of use –  after 5 months of use.

Cell Perfecto PM + five months = second bottle, purchased, done. While I was of course nowhere near airbrushed, perfectly Photoshopped, model skin, I was so satisfied with the results of my first bottle that it was a no-brainer for me to continue into a second bottle. While my deeper scars were still a bit deep and newer pimples had cropped up, whatever pimples I had five months ago were long gone and the rosy scars had lightened to a plushy pink. For some reason (probably starting with h and ending with -oliday eating), my right cheek was mad flush but it’s definitely not CPP’s fault–this never has aggravated my acne.

With colder weather (negative degrees in Baltimore! A revelation for this California girl!), a face mist + three drops were no longer enough to moisturize overnight–I typically layered another oil over it (usually M.E. Skin Fuel) or a cream moisturizer over/under (couldn’t decide, usually Graydon Green Cream) to make sure I wasn’t waking up feeling like I had worn a clay mask overnight.

Left to right: after 0 months of use – 10 months of use.

Cell Perfecto PM + ~a year = satisfaction. I am so happy with how far my skin has come in a year. While still my skin is nowhere near close to perfect (please read Marcella’s beautiful post on this topic), instead of my mom staring at my skin and shaking her head, “Wow Jade…what did you do to your skin…”, she’s been giving me the nod, “Your skin is so much better.” (#ChineseMumsBeBlunt)

While in January my left cheek kind of looked like a little shark went omnomnom’ing through my skin, now, it looks more like a little mouse did a bit of gentle gnawing here and there, and then a bit of hyper fang in others. So yes, still have pitted scars, but while before the texture of my scarred left cheek was actually seriously uneven, now you can tell the difference between pitted scar and healed/normal cheek. Some pitted scars have filled up, others need a bit more time and love.

Looking at my right cheek, there are literally scars from month 5 that I cannot find present day. There is also a very red scar from month 5 that is normal skin color now with just one little scar dot reminding me: don’t pick it. Just don’t.

As far as redness goes, there are a lot of things that can contribute to it (temperature, diet, stress), but it was hitting 100 degrees on a daily basis this past summer and I was the least rosy I’ve been since the epic breakout (and it’s just been getting better and better since).

To be honest, since I was always applying this at night in the near dark, I never noticed the sediments until looking at other people’s reviews and then one morning when I sleepily and accidentally reached for this instead of M.E. Skin Fuel, I was like whoa hello. Don’t be alarmed–the sediments (which I didn’t feel at all in my first bottle and barely felt in my second) are time released into the serum to maintain the potency over time.

If the price is tripping you up, consider this: this is actually one of the more affordable brightening, scar-healing serums on the green beauty market especially considering its impressive roster. Looking at the ingredients list, I can’t even. Its fellow coworkers nowadays run from $95 for 0.64oz to $155 for 1oz.
A look at some of the delicious ingredients…
Scar-healers: Tamanu oil (visually decreased scar appearance in 6-week study), Sea Buckthorn oil, Helichrysum extract (scientifically validated to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory), Rooibos extract (good antibacterial and antioxidant activity, so also a good defense against acne…and it’s a tea!!! I love tea!)
Mark-lighteners: Bearberry extract (containing arbutin, which depigments in a less melanotoxic way than hydroquinone), Liquorice extract (inhibits the actors of skin pigmentation and depigments), L-ascorbic acid (interrupts the pigmentation process)
Anti-aging: Gotu Kola extract (fights off sugar-induced wrinkles), Reishi extract (good antioxidant activity)

 

Top: quick healing in 2010 – 2011, pre-green
Bottom: slower healing from nasty breakout, August – October 2012, post-green and pre-CPP

The question must be asked: could my skin have healed just as fast without Cell Perfecto PM? Looking back at a less-severe breakout in 2010 before I had gone green, my skin took about year to heal from breakouts, to very red post-acne marks, to pink post-acne marks. So I know my skin does have pretty good regenerative powers.

But after my nasty breakout, the difference spanning three months without Cell Perfecto PM was definitely less than the difference spanning three months using Cell Perfecto PM (looking back, the Dr. Alkaitis regimen also put me in a good place acne-wise and scar-wise before I started using Cell Perfecto PM).

A final word: this is not a product with overnight results (as evidenced by my use of two bottles and I would totally go for a third). Cell Perfecto PM helped take my damaged skin to an exponentially better place in terms of red scars and physical scars over time. So, depending on your initial skin condition, patience may be required.

Have you tried this product? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what do you use to heal post-acne marks?

Ingredients: Bioregenerating Botanical Infusion (Botanical Glycosides, Sea Minerals Complex), S. chinensis (Jojoba) oil*, M. integrifolia (Macadamia) oil*, O. ficus-indica (Indian Fig) seed oil*, C. inophyllum (Tamanu) oil*, H. rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) oil*, A. uva-ursi (Bearberry) extract*, H. italicum (Helichrysum)* extract, G. glabra (Liquorice) extract*, C. asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Renew Minerals Complex (Methysulfonylmethane (MSM)* Derived from Pine Lignin, Phytosterols derived from Flax), A. linearis (Rooibos) extract*, B. carterii (Frankincense) extract*, D. carota (Carrot) seed extract^^, G. lucidum (Reishi) extract*, L-arginine, L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), L-Gluconic Acid (Derived from Kombucha Tea Ferment)

* Organic
^^ Wildcrafted

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased this product myself from YÜLI Skincare–twice. Nowadays, it’s also available on Spirit Beauty Lounge. I am not being compensated in any way for my words. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Photos have not been retouched in any sort of way and were all taken with a Canon PowerShot SD 1100 on a macro setting in order to capture more detail. The only editing I have done is cropping and collaging in order to save space. Let this also be sort of a PSA to listen to your skin and be kind to it. It took a long time for me to heal my skin and I never want to put my skin in such a state again.

Additional Sources:

Davis, Erica C., and Valerie D. Callender. “Postinflammatory Hyperpigmentation A Review Of The Epidemiology, Clinical Features, And Treatment Options In Skin Of Color.” Journal Of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology 3.7 (2010): 20-31. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.

Dweck, A. C., and T. Meadows. “Tamanu (Calophyllum Inophyllum ) – The African, Asian, Polynesian And Pacific Panacea.” International Journal Of Cosmetic Science 24.6 (2002): 341-348. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.

Greene, M.d. Richard S., Ph.d. Donald T. Downing, M.d. Peter E. Pochi, and M.d. John S. Strauss. “Anatomical Variation In The Amount And Composition Of Human Skin Surface Lipid.” Journal of Investigative Dermatology 54.3 (1970): 240-47. Web.

Kozarski, Maja S., Anita S. Klaus, and Miomir P. Nikšić. “Extract From Wild Strain Of Mushroom Ganoderma Lucidum As Natural Antioxidant.” Matica Srpska Proceedings For Natural Sciences / Zbornik Matice Srpske Za Prirodne Nauke 121.(2011): 289-297. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.

Maguire, L. S., et al. “Fatty Acid Profile, Tocopherol, Squalene And Phytosterol Content Of Walnuts, Almonds, Peanuts, Hazelnuts And The Macadamia Nut.” International Journal Of Food Sciences & Nutrition 55.3 (2004): 171-178. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Maramaldi, Giada, et al. “Anti-Inflammaging And Antiglycation Activity Of A Novel Botanical Ingredient From African Biodiversity (Centevita).” Clinical, Cosmetic & Investigational Dermatology 7.(2014): 1-8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 6 Jan. 2015.

Sharma, Richa1, and Namrita1, namrita.lall@up.ac.za Lall. “Antibacterial, Antioxidant Activities And Cytotoxicity Of Plants Against Propionibacterium Acnes.” South African Journal Of Science 110.11/12 (2014): 58-65. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 6 Jan. 2015.

Upadhyay, N.k., R. Kumar, S.k. Mandotra, R.n. Meena, M.s. Siddiqui, R.c. Sawhney, and A. Gupta. “Safety and Healing Efficacy of Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides L.) Seed Oil on Burn Wounds in Rats.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 47.6 (2009): 1146-153. Web.

Viegas, Daniel Antunes, Ana Palmeira-De-Oliveira, Lígia Salgueiro, José Martinez-De-Oliveira, and Rita Palmeira-De-Oliveira. “Helichrysum Italicum: From Traditional Use to Scientific Data.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology 151.1 (2014): 54-65. Web.

Wertz, P. W. “Human Synthetic Sebum Formulation And Stability Under Conditions Of Use And Storage.” International Journal Of Cosmetic Science 31.1 (2009): 21-25. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Sept. 2014.

Wille, J J, and A. Kydonieus. “Palmitoleic Acid Isomer (C16:1delta6) in Human Skin Sebum Is Effective against Gram-positive Bacteria.” Skin Pharmacology and Physiology 16.3 (2003): 176-87. Web.

14 Favorites from 2014

Happy 2015, all! While there were some favorites from 2013 that remained stapes throughout 2014 (YÜLI Halcyon and #ED4OLO Cleansing Oil, looking at you, reviews here and here), there were also many delightful new discoveries in 2014, including new friends, new shops, and new products. Let’s take a look:


Oils that keep my skin healthy and hydrated – tie between YÜLI and Roiel
YÜLI’s Liquid Courage is like a healthy shot of vitamins for my face. There is at least a month straight in the fall where I was using this that is legendarily burned into my mind where I had exceptionally clear and healthy skin. Roiel Cosmetics’ Marula Oil has been wonderful as a heavier oil as the weather has sunk into winter. (YÜLI: Spirit Beauty Lounge, YÜLI; Roiel: Roiel Cosmetics)

Quick and delightful treatment for post-acne marks – Odacite
Here is another legendary several weeks burned into my mind where one day, I had some pretty red post-acne marks (popping may have been involved) and a week or two later, I was squinting in the mirror wondering, “Where did they go?” Pa+G Serum Concentrate, you rock. (The Detox Market, Odacite)

Extraordinary eye-depuffing gel – SkinOwl
I yearned for Eye+ months after this was applied on me during skin prep at the W3ll People Launch at Beauty Cirque (recap here). When I finally got my hands on it (birthday present from mum, as requested from me, thanks mum!), I thought, “Why did I wait so long?!” The cooling sensation feels incroyable and these puffy eyes that see many a late night are nearly instantly depuffed upon application. (Pemberley Jones, SkinOwl)

Intoxicating perfumes that won’t alter my hormones – tie between Strange Invisible Perfumes and Lotus Wei
This was the year I got into perfumes. On a whim, I asked the fellows at the SIP table at #ANFG to perfume match me to something jasmine-y (May Lindstrom’s Jasmine Garden got me hooked)–they sprayed Fair Verona on me and I walked around for the rest of the night telling people to smell me and then bought the perfume (my visit to their flagship store recapped here). Another one that’s really grown on me (just as it’s run out, too) is Lotus Wei’s Infinite Love Perfume. Small but mighty, I never fail to get comments on it whenever I wear it out, from girls and guys. Intoxicating, I tell you. (SIP: Spirit Beauty Lounge, Integrity Botanicals, SIP; LW: The Detox Market)

Highlighters that give my eyes a glow and make my cheekbones pop – tie between Kjaer Weis and La Bella Figura
Move over, Living Luminizer, there’s new boys in town. Kjaer Weis’s Radiance highlighter is gorgeous. It’s the most obviously sparkly highlighter I’ve used, but it makes my eyes sparkle and cheekbones pop like no other. For something a little more subtler (think twinkles when lights shine) plus a little sensory experience, I’ve enjoyed La Bella Figura’s Brazilian Denise highlighter, whose rose flower wax sometimes has been dabbing it on my wrists as a perfume. (KW: The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Eco Diva Beauty; LBF: The Detox Market, La Bella Figura, Eco Diva Beauty)

Softest kabuki brush that makes putting on foundation a joy – W3ll People
After Shirley Pinkson applied the Altruist mineral foundation using this brush at the W3ll People Launch at Beauty Cirque, I was like, boom, need to have this. I semi-liked Altruist before, but after this I really liked Altruist. Awesome brushes, i.e. incredibly soft kabuki brushes, make a difference. (The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Eco Diva Beauty, Integrity Botanicals)

The nail polish I won’t take off – Aila x BeauTeaBar
I’m not allowed to wear nail polish on my fingernails because of piano. Or rather, if I wear nail polish, other pianists will severely judge me for being flippant/not-serious/ridiculously whimsical. So after lessons finished for the semester, I doused my fingernails and toenails in this. Now, several weeks later, it’s slowly chipping off but I don’t want to take it off completely…the rose gold is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. And I shine like a diamond. (BeauTeaBar)

Revolutionary serum foundation that dries to a powdery finish – Gressa Skin
I’ve had this annoying problem with foundations where after application, my skin looks dry–like it seems like there are flakes on my skin but I’m not always feeling as dry as I look. (Now that I think about it, sounds like pilling.) I don’t get that with Gressa’s Corrective Serum Foundation. Also I don’t break out with this, which before only happened with mineral foundations. And it dries to a powdery finish even though it starts out like a serum. What? Yeah. For reference, I wear shade 03. (Gressa Skin)

Go-to blemish eradicator – Indie Lee
Go to bed looking like you have pink chicken pox, wake up, wash it off, and blemishes will have shrunken down. I ran out of the Blemish Lotion before #ANFGB, bantered with the delightful Indie Lee at #ANFGB, thought about buying it there, didn’t, severely regretted it, and caved in and bought another several months later with no regrets. (Follain, Indie Lee)

Delicious, buttery cleansing balm with a sensory experience – de Mamiel
Softer than butter, smells like a bouquet of flowers, works perfectly with a massage to wipe away makeup, and makes my skin happy. Restorative Cleansing Balm: wins all around. (Seed to Serum)

Best-smelling and volume-inducing dry shampoo – One Love Organics
Because second-day hair actually smells pretty bad. Healthy Locks dry shampoo gives my gravity-loving Asian hair some grit and volume while also a nice smell. (Integrity Botanicals, Eco Diva Beauty, One Love Organics)

The gel that scares away dry skin – Osmia
Active Gel Toner is, I think, exactly what my skin needed last winter, instead of futile different layering combinations of oils and moisturizers. The skin feels miles more hydrated this year. (The Detox Market, Osmia Organics)

Favorite as an SPF AND a day cream – Josh Rosebrook
This has got me hooked with its amazing scent (a common factor for all of Josh’s skincare products), its complete lack of white cast and all that makes sunscreen abominable, and its really awesome performance as a cream moisturizer. I don’t typically like cream moisturizers, but I love the Nutrient Day Cream with SPF 30. (The Detox Market, Follain, Josh Rosebrook)

What changed my mind about setting powders – Ilia
I am a sweaty person and I used to let my oil run free. Then I dotted Fade Into You over my T-zone and realized what a mistake that was. The very convenient application doesn’t hurt either. (The Detox Market, Spirit Beauty Lounge, Follain)
What were some of your favorites from 2014? See any here?

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included. All thoughts and opinions are my own. All products were purchased by myself except for YÜLI Liquid Courage and Roiel Cosmetics Marula Oil, which were both kindly sent to me.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales

Where: The Detox Market
Deals with codes: $10 off $100, code: THANKS10
$30 off $200, code: THANKS30
$60 off $300 + gift w/ purchase, code: THANKS60
When: Now until Friday, November 28, 11:59pm PST
My picks: Some old favorites include Lina Hanson Global Body Serum ($63) for its vanilla-citrusy scent that made my limbs super soft; Hurraw! lip balm ($4.99) for its fun oval-y shape, dependable texture (no funky melting), and solid performance; Ilia Beauty’s lipgloss in The Butterfly and I ($24), which I think has a beautiful non-sticky, oily, moisturizing texture in a my-lips-but-better shade; Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation ($25) because I always notice an improvement in my skin’s texture when I use this buildable mineral foundation; and Kjaer Weis cream blush in Sun Touched ($54) which gives me a healthy flush and makes my acne-scarred cheeks look even better.

Some newer favorites include Josh Rosebrook’s Active Enzyme Exfoliator ($60) which I love using as a 45-min mask and leaves my skin feeling uber soft afterwards; Odacité’s Pa+G Pure Elements serum ($37) which lightens my post-acne marks record-time fast; One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo ($12) which smells so lovely (geranium) and gives my oily, second-day hair a texturized and non-greasy finish; Kjaer Weis highlighter in Radiance ($56) which is absolutely gorgeous if you’re looking for a more obvious highlighter; and LURK’s PRJV1 perfume ($55) because I am a sucker for a spicy jasmine scent.
Where: Integrity Botanicals
Deals with codes: 20% off orders over $100, code: BLACK20
15% off orders under $100, code: BLACK15
When: Now until Monday, December 1, 11:59pm PST
My picks: The absolutely luxurious and gorgeous Fair Verona by Strange Invisible Perfumes, a sultry jasmine plus mimosas; Schmidt’s Deodorant whose texture I’m not so fond of (can be a bit dry and flaky sometimes), but it performs reliably and makes my sweaty clothing smell good; Konjac Sponge Co’s French Pink Clay sponge because sometimes it is just nice to gentle scrub off cleanser with this little guy (also very low maintenance to take care of it); ED4OLO Cleansing Oil–I have repurchased it probably over 5 times and I’m still not tired of it–it smells like pineapples, takes off all of my makeup, and washes off with water; and Kahina Giving Beauty’s Night Cream which is fantastically moisturizing yet light–and I don’t mean moisturizing lightly–since I got back into cream moisturizers after falling in love with oils, I found many creams left my skin feeling tight but this one not so much.
Where: BeauTeaBar
Deal: 15% off orders over $50 + free shipping + custom-made Rose and Cardamom candle (some brands excluded)
When: Friday, November 28, 9am-11:59pm EST
Code: PINKFRIDAY
My picks: I confess that I have not shopped many of the brands carried at BeauTeaBar before, so this is half products I’ve tried and loved before, half a wishlist. I have heard beautiful things about Kypris, and at #ANFGB Marissa sung praises for the Moonlight Catalyst ($70), an overnight exfoliating serum with pumpkin (yum!). While Ilia Beauty has been the reigning queen of green lippies, Nudus seems to be the new cool kid on the block–I’ve got a soft spot for Precious ($32), which seems to be a bright pink. I really enjoyed the sample I ordered of Province Apothecary’s exfoliator ($38), which is super, super gentle and effective, with lavender and green tea. I really want to gift my mother the Cake Anti-Aging Hair Serum by Reverie ($72) –kind of dying over the ingredients list (rose, rosemary, bourbon vanilla, apple stem cells!!!).

Where: Meow Meow Tweet
Deal: 15% OFF SITE-WIDE
When: Now – Sunday, November 30 at 11:59pm EST
Code: TURTLEDOVES
My picks: The Deodorant Cream ($13) which is a particular favorite of mine because it has a soft texture throughout any season and keeps a typically very smelly me very smelly-free. This one includes baking soda, so if you are sensitive, be wary (and check out the new baking-soda version which sadly does not work for me), otherwise, no worries.

Where: Olie Biologique
Deal: 30% off Site-Wide
When: Now – Monday December 1 at 11:59pm EST
Code: THANKS30
My picks: “Considering the price, I am incredibly happy with the whisker oil. Not only did it convince me the usefulness of a pre-shave oil, it worked fantastically as a post shave oil leaving my skin feel hydrated without feeling oily. On top of that, the smell is exactly what I am looking for: piney without being overwhelming and with a slight hint of whiskey.” – the man on the Whisker Oil ($48) (Ed. note: It does smell fantastic. I want to steal it.)

Where: W3ll People
Deal: 20% off Site-Wide
When: Monday, December 1, 12am-11pm CST (Friday, November 28 10am-6pm if you can make it in person to their studio in Austin!)
Code: (none needed)
My picks: Since I’m a sweaty, blemish-y gal, my skin and I love my Altruist Satin Mineral Foundation ($31.50) + the ultra-soft Kabuki Brush ($41), which can also used with their Bio Bronzer, which I also have a soft spot for (see the full look here). With the minerals, I can achieve a glowy, dewy finish with no blemish marks peeking through. Also notable are the Nudist Colorbalm Sticks ($19.50) which are like chic, minty tinted lip balms–I love 2 (the Violet) and 8 (the Poppy).

Where: Organic Bath Co.
Deal:  20% off entire purchase
When: Now until Monday, December 1, 12:00am EST
Code: THANKFUL14
My picks: I am partial to their body scrubs, Java Jolt in particular, which now come in travel size for $10 vs. $27 for full size. It’s made with certified organic fair trade sugar and coffee as well as lovely moisturizing oils that altogether give my limbs a good scrub and leave me feeling very soft and moisturized after a shower.

Where: Cap Beauty
Deal: 10% off any order
When: Now until Monday, December 1, 11:59pm EST
Code: #GIFTCAP
My picks: This is another half wishlist, half products I’ve already loved collection. I have loved-loved-loved the de Mamiel cleansing balm (full review here, $86) and I have a new one waiting for me once I finish my current makeup removers. It’s a floral cleansing balm that is just luscious, beautiful, delicious, luxurious, and packed full of probiotics and manuka honey. I’ve also loved Tata Harper’s Resurfacing Mask–I always request this as my sample-with-order from Spirit Beauty Lounge and I finished an entire pot of the Wild Plum limited edition version. It’s a lovely exfoliating mask that keeps my face clear and happy of blemishes caused by dead skin buildup. Now on the wishlist side–I have been lusting after In Fiore for a couple months now. The cleansing routine sounds absolutely luxe (maybe a bit over the top), but I love the sound of the Lustra Exfoliating Floral Compound ($76), which is meant to be an exfoliating treatment balm packed full of flowers. I’m usually a sucker for complex blends, but Tara from Shop Follain highly recommended the Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil ($32) as a great no-frill oil with a host of benefits, so I’m curious. And lastly, I’m so curious about Four Sigma Foods’ Instant Reishi–I love Chinese tea, so I know I can take the bitter, and I’m always looking to de-stress. Lola from Hermes Hippie said this instantly calmed her down, so I’m listening.

Where: Pratima Skincare
Deal: Free UPS Ground shipping on all orders over $50
When: Friday, November 28 12:01am – Saturday, November 29 11:59pm EST
Code: FREESHIP14
My picks: The fantastically light yet protective Neem Rose Face Sunscreen SPF 30, of course, recently reviewed here.

Where: Osmia Organics
Deal: 15% off orders + free US shipping (OO Necklaces not included)
When: Monday, December 1 only
Code: OOHOLIDAYS
My picks: Osmia Organics’ body oils changed how I apply body oils for forever–now I only lightly towel off so I can use the remaining moisture to mix with my body oil as sort of a custom lotion. My two favorite scents are Flower and Sunset (both reviewed here): basically the perfect floral and then a sultrier vanilla. I’ve ordered repeat mini perfume samples of Bria, which I don’t exactly remember the smell of, but again, repeat samples. The Spot Treatment  (reviewed here) was never an overnight miracle for me, but the two bottles I went through helped my spots heal faster than if they were alone. The Active Gel Toner is a new favorite–I’ve noticed that my skin feels much more hydrated during the day even though it’s the winter–and this was something I struggled with nearly all winter. Osmia’s soaps are basically works of art and I loved my Zucca Spice down to the very last bit–it cleansed me without leaving any stereotypically dry feelings. And as for the Black Clay Facial Soap–“The black clay soap lasts forever, has a neutral smell, looks badass, and does not leave my face dry” – from the man.

Where: One Love Organics
Deal: 25% entire purchase
When: Sunday, November 30 8pm EST – Monday, December 1 midnight EST
Code: MERRY25
My picks: Of course, as mentioned above, the ED4OLO Cleansing Oil, but this new Tropical Getaway Gift Set ($129) seems like a good ‘un to snatch up for the holidays as a gift for someone else (or yourself). Love the body oil (reviewed here) and I loved my little sample of the Vitamin C Body Polish I picked up at #ANFGB and then sadly left on the other side of the country (one more month until I’ll be back to pick it up!) #LoveSmellsLikePineapples

Where: EcoDivaBeauty
Deals: Spend $200 and receive a $20 gift card
Spend $300 and receive a surprise limited edition gift (over $50 value)
Spend $500 and receive a $75 gift card
When: Now through Sunday, November 30, 11:59pm PST
My picks: Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel is another product I always request as a sample from Spirit Beauty Lounge–this is what I go to whenever I make a mess of a blemish or am particularly afraid of ingrown hairs. It helps a broken blemish heal a bit faster and I never have ingrown hairs after using this. I loved sitting around 45 minutes in my May Lindstrom Problem Solver while this thick, jet-black mask sucked out nasties. Yarok shampoo is definitely pricier than my go-to Acure shampoo, but it is chocked full of really gorgeous ingredients and leaves my hair soft and wonderful.

 

Where: YÜLI Skincare
Deal: 8% off entire order over $75 (orders over 200 will receive a code for 10% off on the next order).
Also, Halcyon Cleanser will be available in a travel sized variant.
When: Now until Monday, December 1 EST
Code: GRATITUDE8
My picks: Now is a better time than ever to pick up Halcyon Cleanser in a travel size ($24)–my favorite gel cleanser that is gentle yet effective enough to massage out surface whiteheads (full review here). Another super favorite is the Cocoon Elixir ($68), which I have repurchased at least twice for how well it soothes any redness (full review here). Another two-time repurchase is Cell Perfecto PM ($98), whose review should be up before the end of the year because it seriously changed and healed my skin. A newer favorite is Liquid Courage ($125), which I’ve come to love even more than M.E. Skin Fuel for how clear it kept my skin before the weather turned cold. And lastly of course, the Pure mask ($65) which is a clay mask with matcha green tea, fruit enzymes, and rice powder, all in all forming a mask that detoxifies, heals, and doesn’t dry me out after a use.

Anything catch your eye? You shopping this weekend?

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included. Images have come from their respective sites either in their original form or have been edited by me. I will update this post as more deals are revealed. All thoughts and opinions are my own (and the man’s).

Pratima Neem Rose Sunscreen SPF 30

Consider this post as one giant #FBF (#FlashBackFriday, if you will) to a sunny Labor Day Weekend.

People seem to think that the non-chalky, non-white-cast-leaving, non-thick, non-greasy sunscreen is like a mythical creature. A unicorn. I was doing some finger-wagging over the summer, scolding some very browned Asian teenage boys for not wearing sunscreen during water polo practice, and they complained that sunscreen was too thick, too greasy, and they’d rather tan than wear it. Besides, laziness/they can’t think far ahead enough to even comprehend what sun damage can do/boys will be boys.

But guys, this unicorn has been tamed! The days of white-cast-leaving, thick, greasy sunscreen have long been over! The summer before this last summer, I was ready to call it quits with Consonant’s Perfect Sunscreen. Indeed, according to its name, I thought it was perfect. I thought it was light, unoffensive, and provided sun protection without making my face a shade lighter or adding an extra layer of thickness.

And then this past summer, I took a stab at Pratima’s Neem Rose Sunscreen with SPF 30 without sampling beforehand, it having been long on my wish list since it was incepted into my mind how good it was (could have sworn I saw it from NMDL, but can’t find the source) and seeing it recommended by other #greenbbloggers like Sarita of Edible Facial and Nancy of Glossed in Brooklyn. And unfortunately I have to revise my previous statement. After emptying this bottle, I went back to a fresh bottle of Perfect Sunscreen and realized actually how much lighter Pratima’s Neem Rose Sunscreen was. This sunscreen is truly the perfect, perfect sunscreen.

There are several winning points.

First, towards the end of the summer, my mother began borrowing my sunscreen and eventually requested I help her purchase her own + backups and additionally the body sunscreen. My mother has graciously and lovingly hopped aboard the #greenbeauty train to the realm of green skincare. She is a picky, picky woman with high expectations who still has not liked any green foundation I have given her to try and yet, she requested this sunscreen. #MomApproved

Second, this sunscreen has an extremely light texture that even rivals the texture of some moisturizers. This was the first thing I realized after going back to Consonant’s sunscreen–Consonant’s sunscreen made Pratima’s feel like a cloud! Pratima’s sunscreen does not feel like the stereotypical, villainous sunscreen–it feels like a moisturizer. And even lighter than cream moisturizers like Pai’s Geranium and Thistle Cream. A pump and a half over my moisturizing routine patted in with my fingers feels unnoticeable. Also I never got any weird pilling effects after applying foundation or breakouts while using this sunscreen.

Stunning moisturizer-like texture aside, while this never left me feeling any drier or tighter (ironically have had this tendency with some moisturizers), I always used an oil or oil + cream under this to provide my face with ample moisture. Also to be noted is that the sunscreen comes in a food grade container + a pump which conveniently dispenses the product up until the very end, where you may need to unscrew the cap to get out the last bits.

Third, a non-offensive scent. I have tried some of Pratima’s other skincare (Pearl Cream) and bodycare (Vata Body Oil) offerings through sample with orders and noticed the scents of those products came off pretty strong. The sunscreen, however, smells lightly of rose–which is a twofold benefit, I think: a therapeutic scent with regenerative and harmonizing effects. Also you’d never guess that the stinky yet powerfully antibacterial/fungal/everything bad and healing neem would be hiding in the folds.

Fourth, the complete absence of any white cast. None. Nada. You’ll forget that you’ve applied it.

Lastly, I’ve never sunburned where I have applied it and once–just once–I sunburned in the one place where I forgot to apply it. On a typical day, I will apply sunscreen under my makeup once, and then cautiously measure my time out in the sun and take preventative measures (hiding in the shade, wearing a hat, etc.) On said Labor Day weekend, I dutifully skipped makeup in order to reapply every two hours on my face and body. Except I forgot my lower legs, which I carelessly dangled outside the protective shady sphere of the umbrella. The result: sad sunburned calves and an otherwise impeccably unsunburned body. The lesson: practice safe sun!

A+ performance aside, a look at the surprisingly simple list of ingredients that make this sunscreen a winner. Water, okay. Non-nano zinc oxide–a physical sun blocker. Organic extracts of neem (anti-bad, anti-acne), brahmi (aka gotu kola aka vitamin C, anti-inflammatoryantioxidant land), shatavari (antioxidants, antidepressant, antibacterial, toning) and licorice (healing, anti-inflammatory)–very nice. And add rose, also therapeutic and healing.

All in all, a soothing, inflammatory, anti-bad, and antioxidant-ful combination of ingredients that result in a silky sunscreen that given blind, you would never guess to be a sunscreen due to its wonderfully light texture that also performs.

tl;dr Truly a perfect sunscreen with a texture lighter than even some moisturizers, non-offensive scent, no white cast, and no sunburns. Also, mom-approved.

Have you tried this sunscreen? What are your thoughts? Even though the weather is getting chillier, are you still slathering up the SPF? (I am). If so, what have you been using?

Ingredients: IONIZED WATER, NON-NANO MICRONIZED ZINC OXIDE 18.6%, ORGANIC EXTRACTS OF NEEM, BRAHMI, SHATAVARI, LICORICE, VITAMIN E, LECITHIN, ORGANIC ESSENTIAL OIL OF ROSE, XANTHAN GUM.

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased this sunscreen myself at least once or twice, and I helped my mom purchase several for herself and my sister all from pratimaskincare.com. Shipping costs will make you sad. But they worth the product, so stock up.

Additional Sources: 

Singla, Ramit, and Vikas Jaitak. “Shatavari (Asparagus Racemosus Wild): A Review On Its Cultivation, Morphology, Phytochemistry And Pharmacological Importance.” International Journal Of Pharmacy & Life Sciences 5.3 (2014): 742-757. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Takhshid, M. A., Mehrabani, D., Ai, J., & Zarepoor, M. (2012). The healing effect of licorice extract in acetic acid-induced ulcerative colitis in rat model. Comparative Clinical Pathology, 21(6), 1139-1144. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00580-011-1249-9

NSF Organic Products from Saint Francis Organics

In a world where the terms “natural” and “organic” are tossed around like hacky sacks, I’ll applaud those who go through organic certification. It’s not an easy process. There’s apparently no process in place that is appropriate for color cosmetics (see rms beauty’s FAQ). It can be costly for smaller businesses, and while an “organically certified” product doesn’t automatically mean “purest product ever that will absolutely work with my skin”, it can be, in my opinion, a pretty good heuristic when looking for a healthy, green product.

That being said, Saint Francis Organics is in the process of being certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and have launched several new products in line with the NSF Organic regulations. This means if the phrase “contains organic ingredients” is used, then the product must contain at least 70% organic content.

A word that summarizes all of the products I tried: non-stripping. Two words: incredibly non-stripping.

The shampoo, body wash, and hand soap are all incredibly non-stripping and foam very gently. My hair, body, and hands never feel dry after a wash–rather, they are always left feeling very soft. That being said, it’s almost the kind of soft where you are not sure if you have rinsed anything off. I end up using more of the body wash than I do with my Dr. Bronner’s because even though the texture of the wash is quite thick, a little does not go too far. As for the shampoo, my hair has been well-nourished for the past month, though my roots tends to look and feel slightly greasy the morning after a shower. I do sweat very easily and thus can have a pretty oily scalp–so perhaps this shampoo is better geared towards those with very dry scalps (my hair loves the Acure shampoo geared towards drier hair, so perhaps this is for those who think that even that shampoo is not moisturizing enough). The body lotion is solid–it sinks in fast and lightly moisturizes my hands, not on the same level as Weleda’s intensely moisturizing Skin Food but light enough where I can moisturize my hands without worrying about having greasy hands for the next several minutes.

The star ingredient replacing the villainous foaming sulfates in the shampoo and body/hand soaps? Soapberry fruit extract. It’s a saponin, a natural surfactant, i.e. a naturally occurring compound that doesn’t undergo any chemical modification to get its scrubby-scrubby on. Indeed, there is a bit of foaming action, but again, it is very gentle–nothing like the huge bubbles you will get from conventional hand washes, and that is fine. In a study investigating soapberry’s foaming properties in comparison with SLS, it was found that while SLS removed 90% of sebum, crude saponins removed 60% (shows how stripping SLS can be!). Overall, the saponins from soapberries were concluded to have excellent foaming properties and to be an effective preservative against the bacteria that causes staph infection.

In addition to this alternative foamy character, there is a nice array of extracts and moisturizing ingredients in each product, including rice, green tea, cucumber, avocado, and mango extract as well as shea butter, olive oil, sunflower seed oil, and sweet almond oil. That’ll be antioxidants, cooling effects, and extra moisture on the side, thank you very much. And at the top of each list: aloe vera. This makes sense–altogether, the moisturizing ingredients in combination with the gently foaming soapberry extract result in very gently foaming formulations that moisturize as they clean.

It should be noted that the preservative in the Body Lotion is honeysuckle extract–so for those of you concerned with the potentially paraben-like effects of honeysuckle, beware. As for scents, all of the formulations are very non-offensive and the scents come from oils, such as lemon oil or peppermint oil, which is great (it kills me when candle makers say that you can’t possibly scent a product with essential oils alone–lies!).

The prices for each product are projected to be quite affordable, with the shampoo (12oz) in the $15-17 range, body wash $11-13 (12oz), and hand soap $8-10 (8oz), to name a few. For reference, that places the shampoo as more expensive than your average Acure shampoo, but less expensive than your Yarok or beloved Rahua.
tl;dr Not foregoing my Acure shampoo or Dr. Bronner’s soap, but will applaud SFO for seeking organic certification and utilizing an SLS-alternative in very gentle and non-stripping formulations.

What are your thoughts on organic certification? Do you feel it is necessary? If so, in the spirit of brotherhood, check out SFO’s IndieGoGo campaign page, should you so please: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/saint-francis-organics

Disclaimer: I typically review products that are nearly empty. However, this is a time-sensitive review as Saint Francis Organics’ IndieGoGo campaign to support the launch of their new NSF Organic products ends on November 8, 2014. SFO kindly provided these samples to me for review. I am not being compensated in any way for my words. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The image of the shampoo label and pricing were kindly provided.

Ingredients:
Peppermint/Vanilla Body Lotion: *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera Gel), Water, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate SE, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Sodium Stearyl Lactylate, *Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, *Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract (and) *Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (and) *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract (and) *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Tapioca Starch, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), *Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, *Vanilla (Botanical), Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract (and) Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Guar Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid.

Peppermint/Vanilla Hand/Body Wash: *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera Gel), Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil,*Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract,*Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract (and) *Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (and) *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract (and) *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, *Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, *Vanilla (Botanical), Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glyceryl Undecylenate, Citric Acid.

Lemon Shampoo: *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera Gel), Decyl Glucoside, Coco Glucoside, *Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract, *Oryza Sativa (Rice) Extract, *Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract (and) *Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (and) *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract (and) *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Glycerin, Panthenol (Vitamin B-5), *Citrus Limonum (Lemon) Oil, GuarHydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glyceryl Undecylenate, Citric Acid.

Lavender Hand/Body Wash: *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera Gel), Decyl Glucoside, Glycerin, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Sapindus Mukorossi Fruit Extract,*Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Extract (and)  *Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract (and) *Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract (and) *Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, *Citrus Sinensis (Orange) Oil, *Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Oil, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Potassium Sorbate, Glyceryl Caprylate (and) Glyceryl Undecylenate, Citric Acid.

* Certified Organic

Additional Sources:

Chao-Hsun, Yang, et al. “Foam Properties, Detergent Abilities And Long-Term Preservative Efficacy Of The Saponins From Saoindus Mukorossi.” Journal Of Food & Drug Analysis 18.3 (2010): 155-160. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Fevola, Michael J.1, ct•author@allured.com, et al. “Sustainability: Trends In Polymers And Surfactants For Hair Care.” Cosmetics & Toiletries 127.1 (2012): 34-40. Applied Science & Technology Full Text (H.W. Wilson). Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

Montgomery, Katherine. “All In A Lather: Herbal Soap Plants.” Herbarist 76 (2010): 34-38. Academic Search Complete. Web. 28 Oct. 2014.

A Birthday Giveaway of Fave #GreenBeauty Skincare

Today is my birthday, and I want to take a brief break from problem sets and feeling slightly sick from strong kombucha to share a gift with one of you.

I resolved in 2014 to curb my impulsive habits by sampling before jumping into full-size. No regrets. Lots of sampling, but no regrets. I spared myself from throwing money at things that were nice but not fantastic, and I threw my money at things I knew worked well with my skin and were gold. So I’ve compiled a set of sample and travel-size skincare products that I’ve enjoyed for you to try. If you don’t like any, well, then you know. And if you like them, you can take the plunge.

Here are the goods:

S.W. Basics Vegan Cocoa Lip Balm
I obsessively hoard lip balm and have one in every room and bag because if my lips are dry, my whole body is dry/I am dying/can’t handle. Admittedly, this is not the best lip balm in the world (that goes to Tata Harper Lip Treatments, swoon), but it’s a solid. And every now and then they have $1 sales so I get them in bulk for me and to share.

A sample sachet of Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum
This is something I discovered via a sample-with-order from Pemberley Jones and it is good. It’s light, it’s cooling, I bought the full-size for my mom and should’ve gotten another one for myself–cue *hearts in eyes.

YÜLI Jet Set Kit
I spent my Spirit Beauty Lounge points on you! Included is a bag made exclusively for SBL and YÜLI by fashion designer and Project Runway star Melissa Fleis, a travel size Halcyon Cleanser and sample sizes of M.E. Skin Fuel and Cocoon Elixir. First of all, the bag. Guys, it’s chic. I want to keep it. If I had to choose between Panacea and Cocoon, Cocoon is my favorite. Back when I was interning over the summer in a dehydrated office, this visibly calmed down redness and hydrated my skin for hours (full review here). While M.E. Skin Fuel couldn’t prevent my hormonal breakouts (understandable), it worked well with my skin, left my skin feeling soft with every application, and has a really delicious list of ingredients (full review here). Halcyon–oh Halcyon. I recently repurchased the full size and I don’t regret it–it’s my favorite second-step cleanser after removing makeup. Those gently foaming peptides, how soft it leaves my skin, how good my skin looks when I use it–yep. It’s a winner (full review here).

A sample tube of Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel
Every time I make an order from SBL, I always include this. It’s my go-to whenever I’m naughty and pop a pimple or need an aftershave and don’t want ingrown hairs. In the pimple case, I usually squeeze some onto a Q-tip and hold it over the broken skin until liquid stops seeping out in to make sure bacteria doesn’t spread and to encourage healing (always works). In the aftershave case, I just massage a little into where I’ve shaved and 1) it soothes any tenderness, 2) I haven’t had an ingrown hair after using this (full review here).

Two sample sachets of Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
I love this mask. I purchased and used up the full-size version of the limited edition Resurfacing Mask with Wild Plum. After my first facial earlier this year, my esthetician informed me that the cause of some of my pimples was not enough exfoliation. With regular use (once a week), I noticed less pimples and increasingly softer skin. Bonus: it’s a clear mask, so feel free to answer the door wearing this or slap it on during a flight.

A USDA Organic lollipop
Once of these comes with every SBL order and I’ve racked up a collection. Girl can’t eat all the lollipops, so here’s one for you. And it’s USDA Organic.

This giveaway starts now and ends 12:00am October 16, 2014, Pacific time. It is open to the U.S. only–I apologize, my lovely international friends, but this is an unsponsored giveaway, shipping is my responsibility (unless you are willing to negotiate), and I am a poor undergraduate student applying to be a poor graduate student.

Go wild and good luck!

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Disclaimer: As noted above, this is an unsponsored giveaway. Everything mentioned above has been either purchased with SBL points or selected as a sample-with-order with previous SBL orders. I want to keep everything mentioned above for myself. Affiliate links are included in this post.

One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo

I can split my hair-washing relationship so far into 3 disjoint phases:

  1. When I was younger, I hated washing my hair and tried various ways to trick my parents into thinking that I did wash my hair when in fact I didn’t (there was a similar theme going on at the time with brushing my teeth–I must have been a stinky kid)
  2. When I was in middle school-mid-high school and realized my hair can make some serious grease, I loved washing my hair daily.
  3. Since mid-high school, I’ve realized that hair oils aren’t the devil and that washing my hair every other day keeps it healthy and me creative with 2nd-day hair (yay braids and buns and ponytails and more braids). Also, every other night, I can be in and out of the shower before the mirror even starts to fog up (win!).


During phase 3, I discovered the wondrous (and at first, seemingly contradicting) thing that is dry shampoo. I’ve used Acure Organics’ reliable dry shampoo, been on the fence about Lulu Organics’ dry shampoo, but I’ve loved, loved, loved One Love Organics’ Healthy Locks dry shampoo, which is part of OLO’s Limited Summer Skim Collection.

So, how can you shampoo your hair but not get it wet??? On the mornings after the nights I haven’t washed my hair, I sprinkle and rub the powder throughout sections of my hair, leave it for a couple of minutes, brush it out, and style my hair for the day (check out an Insta-video I did with Acure’s dry shampoo). The powder absorbs the grease–maybe not to the point where it looks like 1st-day hair, but enough to where my roots aren’t super greasy.

Why I love Healthy Locks the most:

  • It absorbs grease exceptionally
  • It lightly perfumes my hair with a gardenia scent (delicious)
  • Even though the powder is white, it blends in with my black hair. Sometimes I just rub in the powder and walk out without thoroughly brushing the powder out of my hair and so far, no one has told me that my dandruff has been exceptionally bad (or maybe this shows people are nice/uncomfortable with awkwardness)
  • It leaves behind a textured feeling that lends easily to styling
  • It gives a tiny bit of oomph and doesn’t weigh down my hair. As a straight-haired gal, when my hair is greasy, it sticks to my head like a helmet. This prevents that.

The magic = starches + clay + baking soda + bamboo extract + hyaluronic acid + their proprietary gardenia scent. Starches, clays, and baking soda in dry shampoos is pretty standard, but whoa hello bamboo and hyaluronic acid. Bamboo extract is rich in silica (I’m assuming the extract has more than the general bamboo plant, which generally is composed to 9% silica), which is silicon + oxygen (stay with me)–
1) Hair is one of the most abundant sources of silicon in the body
2) Silicon is important for bone formation, collagen synthesis

All that to say, I am thinking the bamboo extract is the “strengthens” part of the “softens, strengthens, and nourishes hair” description. Now, the hyaluronic acid–something much more commonly seen in skincare these days as the ultimate hydrator penetrating deep into the skin and plumping up wrinkles. This is probably the “softens” and “nourishes” part of the description–after all, I am rubbing it into my roots and my scalp.

tl;dr My fave dry shampoo, and it has to be limited edition. Makes my hair smell really good, look way less greasy, and a teeny bit of oomph to my straight hair. Get it before it’s gone!! (Will be on sale until September 15 at OLO but you can also get it at Integrity Botanicals and Eco Diva Beauty, I’m assuming, until they stay in stock!) Let’s also just say I have 2 of these on hand for when I run out of my current little bottle.

Have you tried this dry shampoo? If not, what do you use to extend your hair wash? 

Ingredients: oryza sativa (rice) starch, organic zea mays (corn) starch, kaolin, sodium bicarbonate, tapioca starch, bambusa (bamboo) arundinacea stem extract, silica (and) sodium hyaluronate, proprietary natural and organic fragrance compounds

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased this product at least 3 times from OLO’s website (once in person at #ANFGB). All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not being compensated for my words in any shape or form.

Additional Sources:
Ding, T.p., J.x. Zhou, D.f. Wan, Z.y. Chen, C.y. Wang, and F. Zhang. “Silicon Isotope Fractionation in Bamboo and Its Significance to the Biogeochemical Cycle of Silicon.” Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta 72.5 (2008): 1381-395. Web.

Price, Charles T., Kenneth J. Koval, and Joshua R. Langford. “Silicon: A Review of Its Potential Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis.” International Journal of Endocrinology 2013 (2013): 1-6. Web.

My Signature Summer Look Tag

The gorgeous Pemberley Jones tagged me to do Beautycalypse’s Signature Summer Look Tag (check out their beautiful eye looks!)–the rules are as follows:

  1. Link back to this post so I can include you + and title your post as I have.
  2. Only use make-up products that you own for 6 months minimum. No exceptions! And have a lot of fun creating, as though you were introducing your own collection.
  3. Please tag other 5 to 10 green beauty bloggers, making sure they notice 😉
  4. And the best part: if you’re not a green beauty blogger but like to join the fun, just do it following the rules 1-3!

Before proceeding, I must confess. I have not only used make-up products that I’ve owned for 6 months minimum. This is for several reasons.

  1. I only keep mascaras for 3 months top because I am not a fan of bacteria growing in mascara tubes.
  2. I’ve tossed several products that expired recently and replaced them.
  3. I fell in love with the bronzy look Shirley Pinkson gave me at W3ll People’s Beauty Cirque launch (read more about that here) and have been recreating it almost every day since with my own collection (plus several that I purchased at the event).

Onto the look:

1. I start off with a cleansed and moisturized (and depending on the day, sunscreened) face.

2. I even out my complexion with a tapping of W3ll People Altruist Mineral Foundation in 15 + W3ll People Kabuki Brush + confident downward strokes. I usually go for 1-2 layers of the mineral foundation depending on how much coverage I want–one for when I’m feeling pretty good about my skin or #YOLO about blemishes that peek through, two for when I have a little more blemishes or redness and want a fuller coverage. Here I opted for a lighter coverage.

Despite the hassle of loose powder and brushes, mineral foundation provides me with the best coverage with the lightest feel and the least fear of breakouts. When I sweat (which is a lot in the summer), I feel like my foundation looks even better as the minerals mix with my skin oils.

3. I bronze and blush up my face with a tapping of W3ll People Bio Bronzer + W3ll People Kabuki Brush held like a “kabuki taco” (Shirley, you genius) + brushing from ears to cheek apples along cheek bones + dusting on temples. I am pretty pasty and don’t have much intention of tanning. Bronzer is a nice way for me to add more dimension into my face.
That’s the complexion sans concealer done. The foundation nicely evens out my skintone, and the bronzer adds warmth to my skin without bringing back my ruddy cheeks.

 

4. I curl my eyelashes with my Shiseido eyelash curler to prep for mascara.

5. I apply W3ll People Expressionist Mascara by wiggling the wand at the roots and twirling through the rest of my lashes. My mascara’d lashes usually wilt back to their straight state within a minute after application, so I usually wait 5-15 minutes before re-curling them with my eyelash curler.

6. I conceal with W3ll People Narcissist 3 by warming the stick with my finger + tapping to blend + on the dark outlines of my undereyes + on my eyelids as a primer/conceal redness. I’m not in love with how this looks when I use it all over my face, but it is gold for these sorts of non-blemish spot concealing.

7. I turn myself into a cat with Benecos Natural Eyeliner in Black. Meow.

8. I illuminate my inner corners with Kjaer Weis Highlighter in Radiance which is amazingly and beautifully radiant. Quickly comparing it to rms beauty living luminizer and La Bella Figura Highlighter in Brazilian Denise–this is the most obviously sparkly of these highlighters. I can use less product for more shine, and yet it does not look artificial or tacky at all. I also sometimes take it on the bridge of my nose, under my eyebrows, and on the tops of my cheekbones, but I love it best for my eyes.

9. Even though Altruist is a mineral foundation, I find it gives me a pretty dewy look, so I powder up my T-zone with rms ‘un’ powder because I am a sweaty beast.

10. Every other day when I don’t wash my hair, I tap One Love Organic’s Healthy Locks dry shampoo into my roots, massage it in, wait 5-10 min, and then brush it out. This is probably my favorite product from OLO’s summer collection (get it before September 15th!)–I find it absorbs my grease to the point where I look acceptable in public and it lightly perfumes my hair.

tl;dr And that’s the finished look. A bit bronzey, a bit catty, and very simple. A summary of products used:

I’m tagging:

And anyone else who would like to do the tag. What has been your signature summer look? Let me know in the comments!

Disclaimer: I purchased all of the makeup used in this post. I have not retouched any of the pictures except for the flat lay in order to give a true representation of color. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links are included in this post.