15 #GreenBeauty Favorites from 2015

15 Favorites of 2015

The cleanser with coconut oil that my skin lovesMV Organics Gentle Cream Cleanser

I put off trying this cleanser for years out of fear that the coconut oil would break me out. Until I had a mini MV Organic Skincare facial at a Credo Beauty. The cleanser is mega gentle, and although creamy, leaves no oily residue or breakouts, surprisingly.

The rosey facial oil calms my acneMV Organics Rose Plus Skin Booster

I also put off trying this for years not out of fear, but more out of “meh, rose? Overrated.” My Credo Beauty facialist and MV founder Sharon both recommended I give it a try for my acneic therefore sensitive skin and I have never been more loyal to a facial oil. You may have noticed my posting volume has been way down the past several months which I have been in grad school. Given my insane stress levels (group projects, ugh), my face should have broken out so much more given how sensitive my face is typically to stress. I’m not complaining.

The face mask that is good enough to sleep inTata Harper Resurfacing Mask Continue reading 15 #GreenBeauty Favorites from 2015

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.
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A Trip to Strange Invisible Perfumes

Strange Invisible Perfumes had always been one of those brands I had seen and passed over on Spirit Beauty Lounge and NuboNau because 1) I was not really into perfumes, 2) I was not really into perfumes at such a price, 3) I was not really into perfumes at such a price when I hadn’t the faintest clue what they smelled like on my skin.

So it was a blessing to banter with SIP at A Night for Green Beauty, get recommendations from a handsome Australian fellow, and walk around smelling like an intoxicating jasmine flower sipping mimosas. By the end of the night, a 15ml Fair Verona was purchased and in my bag of swag.

Having perfumed myself out the night before, I wasn’t expecting to spend too much time at their brick-and-mortar store in Venice the morning after–just to take a peek around their apothecary and gaze lovingly at their beautiful perfumes. And then my mother and I spent most of the morning and afternoon talking with Patrick, getting my mum perfume matched, and falling over their beautifully curated apothecary.

Of course I had to spritz some Fair Verona upon coming in. *swoon. Love this so much.

The beautiful perfume table. In the back is their carefully curated apothecary…

Fun fact: Patrick is a jazz pianist and Mozart greets you when you walk into the store.

Beautiful wall of giant, standard, and mini perfumes.

Truth: This is one of the very few places (probably the only!) where you can see May Lindstrom, YÜLI Skincare, AND Vered Botanicals in the same place. I mentally blew kisses at some favorites (ML Problem Solver, YÜLI Halcyon, YÜLI Cocoon, YÜLI M.E. Skin Fuel, YÜLI Pure, Vered Herb-Infused Toner, and Vered Therapeutic Balancing Oil) and peeked at a few I haven’t tried yet. I tried some of YÜLI’s Cellular Lip Conditioner on the back of my hand (have heard great things about this), looked at Vered’s masks, looked at May Lindstrom’s Honey Mud and thank goodness I was full or I could have eaten it, and tried to smell YÜLI’s Mr. Incredible but I couldn’t find a tester.

 

Hello Alexis Smart Flower Remedies in the flesh! I have only started getting into flower remedies (partly inspired by Katey Denno’s story and trip) and attempted taking Ganesh last semester in an effort to enhance confidence, but I didn’t take it as consistently as I should have (my fault).

Amala is another line I have seen and tried samples-with-orders of via Spirit Beauty Lounge, but haven’t purchased. As Patrick told me, Amala is a spa line that actually uses the essential oils that SIP extracts which makes it very easy for them to carry Amala in their store. In addition, they have great clinical results and several dedicated lines such as one to brighten, another to purify, and another to rejuvenate.
Marble & Milkweed on the other hand, as Patrick told me, are totally opposite of Amala. They are very simple, but very organic, natural, and made in small batches in NY. Patrick particularly pointed out their woodsy toner (which I tried a spritz of–it’s super woodsy) and sang praise for the cleansing grains.
I was happy to see a recent love, Odacité, in full force. I have been loving their Pure Elements line, lusting after their Private Collection, and enjoying their cleanser, exfoliant, and toners.

 

Red Flower is another brand I have heard much about for their aromatherapy but have never tried. Patrick loves the rose serum and told us a bit about the arctic berry that is featured in several of their products. It is obtained from the arctic tundra and has an abundance of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and biomedical functions due to their growing conditions (sun and frost all the time!). We tried some of the rose serum on the back of our hands, which was lovely and quite rosy, and took a peek at the arctic berry cloud milk cream–it can be used for face and body, and has a soft, light texture.

 

For fun, I asked Patrick if he could perfume-match my mum, who at first dothly protested she was not a perfume wearer, but then gracefully acquiesced (can you tell I am watching the Tudors). After listening to her general likes and dislikes (respectfully and generally, simple scents and heavy scents), Patrick had her try many of the perfumes on paper, a couple spritzes of each. They were all very strong at first, so he had her smell one first, set the paper aside, and reset her olfactories with coffee beans, before trying another one.

While my mum tried out perfumes, I romped around the store (which is very rompable) and tried out the body lotions on my parched legs (curse you, dry California!). They felt very nourishing and had more subtle scents than the perfumes–I pretty much liked them all.

Despite her initial protest, in the end, she had good fun. While she ranked her top 3 favorites, I asked Patrick, “So what does biodynamic and hydro-distilled mean anyhow?”

He told me, “Well, I’ll tell you about three things that set SIP apart, and they are the terms biodynamic, wildcrafted, and hydro-distilled.”

Biodynamic: Rotate the fields based on the season and don’t force the land to grow something that’s out of season
Wildcrafted: Don’t introduce new plants where they are not meant to grow–instead, get ingredients from the source, in their natural environment
Hydro-distilled: The plant is lightly simmered in water, forming a hydrosol and leaving an additional layer of essential oils at the top. These essential oils are then scooped up

There are three ways of typically extracting essential oils and those are: steaming, pressing, and hydro-distillation. Steaming is inexpensive, pressing is damaging to the plant, and hydro-distillation is more expensive, but the best way to go about it. It is gentle and captures the “the complete aromatic profile of the plant, including the fine aroma chemicals that cannot be captured with steam distillation”, according to SIP’s website (source and further evidence here). What’s great is that SIP uses the hydrosols leftover from the hydro-distillation process in their other products, such as their body lotions and (don’t tell anyone) their possibly upcoming toner (?!).

My mum’s favorites:
1. Aquarian Rose
2. Epic Gardenia
3. L’invisible

My favorites:
1111111111. Fair Verona (or as Patrick says it, Favorana)

My mom ended up purchasing a mini of her top #1, Aquarian Rose, a very elegant rose which I think suits her well, and Patrick graciously gave her a tiny samples of her #2 and #3 (which are slowly becoming my #2 and #3 as well). She asked Patrick a couple of questions while he rung us up.

“Is the goal to be carried in department stores? These perfumes are pretty expensive compared to the ones you find in department stores. Why is that?”

No, he told us. Department stores want a lot of markup, and that is not feasible for SIP especially if they want to preserve integrity–which is what the founder wants to do. They are not willing to stoop to inexpensive distilling processes. The perfumes are indeed expensive, but honestly there isn’t much mark-up.

While SIP is still not the most budget-friendly of products, I walked away impressed with the level of integrity in their apothecary and in their own line of perfumes, body lotions, and body washes. They are very selective with what they carry, and I have no doubt their perfumes are a top-notch product which ingredients that are not going to confuse my hormones, unlike the perfumes you can easily find for cheaper in the department stores today. Patrick was charming and a joy to chat with–if you’re ever in Venice, LA, I absolutely recommend a walk to Strange Invisible Perfumes.

If a physical visit is not feasible, Spirit Beauty Lounge offers samples of their perfumes, via samples-with-orders or in their sample pack. When I smelled all of the perfumes at ANFGB, my initial reaction was these are all beautiful (and have beautiful colors), but they are way too strong for me. The other Aussie fellow at the SIP table recommended I try it on my skin, walk around a bit, and then make my judgement. I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist (and asking other people to sniff too) that whole night. Try it on your skin and consider the processes by which it came about before turning up your nose at the price (and then begin to weep for your wallet).

tl;dr All thoughts and opinions are my own, except for paraphrased content from Patrick and my mum. I have attempted to preserve content gathered from Patrick as best as I could. I was not compensated in any manner for my words.

Have you visited Strange Invisible Perfumes in Venice? If not, would you, and what would you pick up?

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R.L. Linden & Co. Spring Releases and a Q&A

I’m sure many of you know R.L. Linden & Co. for their lovely La Balmba Rosa Healing Rose Balm (delightfully light and good-smelling moisture for the lips) and the Thousand Petal Beautifying Mist (garden of flowers for your face). Excitingly, the minis of their Travel Set (available since winter 2013-ish I think) are soon to be available for purchase in full sizes.

I will save a full review for when I get my hands on some of the full-sizes, but I thought I would at least share some quick thoughts on several of the newbies based off of my sample sizes and a short Q&A with which the founders of R.L. Linden & Co. kindly indulged me.

If you already like cleansing with honey (and if you haven’t tried, highly recommend), if you like chocolate, and if you don’t like harsh exfoliants, I think you will enjoy The Bee Charmer. It’s like chocolate honey but with a thinner consistency and with a delightful kick: gently exfoliating poppy seeds. It can also be used as a mask, but I saved it as a second cleanse after removing my makeup. What’s great is that it has the anti-bad properties of the honey combined with the antioxidants of chocolate.

Want something a little fancier than jojoba or coconut oil to remove your makeup? Your Eyes Only is coconut oil + jojoba oil + essential oil of bourbon vanilla. I used this, as per the name, to remove eye makeup leftover from oil cleansing with the de Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm or the Aurelia Miracle Cleanser. I would take a pump or two on a cotton round, hold it on an eye for a couple seconds, and then gently wipe my eye makeup away. This was the first product from their set of new releases I got hooked on, but unfortunately I have stopped using it because after some time of using this and wearing Kjaer Weis eyeshadow, my eyelids got severely dry and one eyelid developed a strange dry patch. They have since healed after abstaining from both products, but I am still hesitant to try both products again. *tear

Think you know jojoba oil? Think again with Time After Time. My small sample lasted a week, and every night after application, my face was instantly so smooth and nourished thanks to a super-infused jojoba oil combined with meadowfoam seed oil, rosehip seed oil, squalene (from olives), and tamanu oil (a healing killer punch for the long-term). The scent is also really calming and non-offensive. This is probably the first product I want to purchase in full-size, followed by The Bee Charmer.

Their Ironwood Perfume isn’t a new launch, but yo, Palo Santo is a hot scent. To me, it’s like perfect mix of spicy and sweet that works equally well in the blizzardy winter as well as on the sweltering beach.

I had a couple of questions mostly regarding ingredient choices in the new releases that Robin and Lynn were so kind to answer for me. I hope they are helpful for you!

1. The poppy seeds in the Bee Charmer are a delight and unique touch—exfoliants like walnut shells are much more common (but also criticized for potentially causing micro-tears in the skin), but I’ve never come across a brand incorporating poppy seeds before. What inspired this choice and how does the skin benefit from this?

The idea was to lightly and gently exfoliate; poppy seeds are a great choice for that purpose. Their round shape is ideal because they roll over the skin effortlessly while encouraging product to spread evenly over the face.

2. Love eating honey, love eating chocolate, and love that you included both in the Bee Charmer. There’s lots of literature on how ingesting sugar can cause inflammation in the body and thus acne, and I’ve recently read in a couple places that it can be potentially dangerous to apply sugary products to the face as it can be bad for acne (luckily, my skin has only been having happy days since using Bee Charmer, so I’m not good proof of this idea). What are your thoughts on this and how can chocolate be good for the face?

It is first good to note that we recognize that every person’s skin has its own preferences. So, its important to pay attention and know what makes yours happy versus what makes it freak out. It is also worth noting that not all chocolate is created equal. The chocolate that we use is absolutely artisan crafted with minimal processing and only two ingredients – Organic Cacao and Organic Cane Sugar. We know and love the makers, Robbie and Anna of Ritual Chocolate, and we know that the love that they have for their craft translates to us when we use It in ours. In The Bee Charmer, the use of chocolate leaves the skin feeling nourished, conditioned and really soft due to the theobromine content of the cacao and the naturally occurring cocoa butter. The theobrimine acts as a vasodilator, which means that it opens up blood vessels and encourages fresh new blood flow. The sugar content of both the honey and the chocolate offer wonderful humectant qualities, retaining the skin’s moisture and act as a pre-biotic to encourage a healthy balance of surface microbes.

3. I fell hard for Time After Time and I wasn’t expecting to. I thought I knew jojoba oil, but the blend in the jojoba (calendula, comfrey, marshmallow, licorice, elderflower, linden flower, rose petals) along with the accompanying oils and essential oils (meadow foam, rose hip, olive squalene, tamanu, frankincense, helichrysm, fir) is just beautiful. Instant face softener. How did you come up with this amazing combination?

Thank you – we are so grateful to know that it has had such a positive effect for you. This blend, like all others that we create, has come from lots of time and trial and error. We have a hard time NOT infusing oils; there are just so many incredible healing herbs to use! The addition of these plants absolutely adds to the efficacy of this serum. We felt very strongly about using meadowfoam for its highly nourishing and moisturizing content and rosehip for its antioxidant and vitamin C properties. Each oil was chosen for its specific therapeutic benefits. And the essential oil blend is not the usual floral notes, but after two or three uses, people get hooked!

4. Your Eyes Only was another unexpected love. I didn’t realize my need for it until I ran out and noticed the panda eyes that my balm cleanser constantly left behind (even after removing a full face of makeup well). I’m a little paranoid about coconut oil on my whole face so I reserve use only to my eyes, which unfortunately can’t smell the vanilla. I’ve used coconut oil and jojoba oil respectively to remove eye makeup, and they both do a good job—great idea to put them together! But what does the essential oil of bourbon vanilla do?

This is one product that is definitely a silent hero. To address your concern about the coconut oil, it is such an amazing oil for so many skin types. For some, however, it doesn’t work. In those people, it is most likely the high lauric acid content that is irritating. We use fractionated coconut oil in this formulation, which has most, if not all, of the lauric acid removed. Not to mention, its liquid at room temperature, so it’s much easier to apply than the solid stuff. Jojoba oil is great because it helps to moisturize the delicate skin around the eyes. We wanted to include a faint scent and vanilla is so warm and comforting, that’s the kind of nourishing one needs when dealing with a sensitive area.

5. Any hints for a release date for these lovelies? I can’t wait to see them in full-size!

We don’t have a set date yet, but our working hard to get them out in the next month or two. Right now we are working on finalizing new label designs, once we have a set date we will let you know! (Ed. Note: “next month or two” from March, aka around now. Word on the street is that they’ll be out in mid/late-May/soon/if you follow them on Instagram they’re working on labels!)

Are you as excited as I am? Which do you think you’ll purchase first (if not all of them)?

tl;dr The Bee Charmer: honey, chocolate, poppy seed cleanser. Your Eyes Only: coconut oil, jojoba oil, vanilla scented makeup remover. Time After Time: beautiful blend of face-smoothing ingredients. Ironwood Perfume: super hot perfume. Especially can’t wait to purchase Time After Time…

Ingredients: See the Travel Set for a list of the ingredients for the spring releases.

Disclaimer: I formatted the answers (deleted spaces, underlined products), but otherwise they are here in unadulterated form. I purchased Your Eyes Only (along with a repurchase of the Thousand Petal mist) from lindenbeauty.com but was generously provided with samples of The Bee Charmer, Time After Time, and the Ironwood perfume. All the same, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Perfumes ft. Love & Toast and EOV

I am your poor college student, and as much as I’d love to drop my nonexistent money for a beautiful perfume like Honoré Des Prés or Tsi-La, I need to save it for food for when my meal plan runs out (highly likely). Hence, here are some natural perfumes that don’t contain phthalates (commonly found in “parfum,” these mimic estrogen and confuse your body), are more budget-friendly, and still smell awesome.

(from left to right)

Love & Toast Mandarin Tea Perfume: I first tried it on in a small store called Wyler’s a couple summers ago in Brunswick, Maine (you must go there – it is a store of the most utmost cuteness) and every time I visited the store again (many times), I would dab a bit of the sample on my wrist because I loved it that much. It’s a zingy citrus tea and it is awesome. Whenever I am feeling like I need a pick-me-up in the mornings, I use this. ($9)

Essence of Vali EOV Botanical Perfume Oil: This is my sexy perfume. At first I thought it would be too spicy for me, but it has grown on me to the point where every morning I choose this (whether or not the day’s occasions call for extra sexiness). It’s spicy and as in the words of its creator, “warm floral, slightly citrus, earthy, and sensual and uplifting at the same time.” ($15)

Love & Toast Paper Flower Perfume: Feminine, floral, flirty, you get the alliteration. When I’m wearing flowery clothing, I wear this to match. Don’t laugh at me. ($9)

Note: People often find that natural perfumes don’t last as long as synthetic ones (see this article by Tsi-La), but I think that people can take the extra 5 seconds to reapply if they need to. It is a small price to pay. I usually find two dabs of either Love & Toast actually lasts me the day, but the EOV blends into me as the day goes, which I don’t mind.