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

March – April 2015 #GreenBeauty Haul

GreenBeauty Haul


I ran out of all of my second cleansers, so I went shopping and bought more than just cleansers. Head on over to the ‘tube (search “Nephriticus”) or watch it right here for a chatty summary and some mini-reviews. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of the products I picked up or if there is anything you’d like to see featured on the blog!

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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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Summer Cocoon

YÜLI Skincare Cocoon Elixir in Taiwan

I spent a long, lovely summer interning in the Land of Cubes*, California which was a great learning experience–very insightful, very fun, but also very drying for my skin. (I also got a nice driving tan from the commute.) As a result, a glass of lemon water and YÜLI Skincare’s Cocoon Elixir were permanent fixtures to my desk (see Instagram pic). I started out the summer using a Heritage Rosewater spray (note: budget buy), but I found myself wanting to spritz my face every 15 minutes, because every 15 minutes, I would feel dry again. When I went on my hourly bathroom break–hydrating from the inside out ftw–I found myself still looking dry and rosy (read: flakes. Gross).

The Cocoon Elixir, however, kept my face hydrated for hours. I was spritzing maybe 3 or 4 times a day, instead of 20. Less weird looks from my male coworkers, and no more rosy, flaky face staring back at me in the bathroom mirror. When I went to humid Taiwan for a week as part of my internship, the Cocoon Elixir kept my skin hydrated on the 12-hour plane ride and refreshed from the pollution and heat on land. In my daily morning and night routine, it added an extra boost of calm and moisture post-cleansing and pre-moisturizing.

Now that summer is over and my bottle is empty, I can definitely say that the Cocoon Elixir saved my skin this summer. Dry environments like California and planes make my face rosy (i.e. inflamed), flaky, and blemishy, but Cocoon helped so much to calm my skin down and prevent dryness-related breakouts. If you’re in a pinch, rosewater will give you quick relief, but the Cocoon Elixir is like rosewater on steroids: calming calendula, anti-inflammatory chamomile, destressing rose otto, protecting acerola, and more in a base of healing aloe. For fab ingredients and happy skin, I 100% would repurchase.

*Not an actual location.

Vered Organic Botanicals for Problematic Skin

from my personal Instagram

Vered Organic Botanicals hails from New York City. Its namesake comes from creator, founder, and master esthetician Vered Back, who blends her magical aromatherapy into a base of therapeutic herb-infused oils. Her private clients begged her to bottle up her customized facial oil blends, and the rest is history…

Vered Organic Botanicals had me at therapeutic and balancing–the beautiful glass packaging and magnificent scents were welcome bonuses. In Vered’s interview with Fig+Sage, she deemed the Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil and the Herb-Infused Toner as “incredibly beneficial for problematic skin,” and my improved skin tone and diminishing trend of breakouts serves as evidence.

I have already waxed poetic about the Herb-Infused Toner for its cleansing-toning powers, so I will turn the spotlight on the Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil. TBFO is a lightweight oil blend of organic, ethically sourced, therapeutic-grade essential oils and herbs. The dreamy ingredients list includes antimicrobial lemongrass, antiseptic myrrh, healing calendula, and cooling chickweed in a base of jojoba oil and sweet almond oil, giving the oil a spicy kick and golden color.

It’s not just all spice and nice, though; this oil gives the boot to breakouts. Even when hormones are being hormones and oh hello crazy under-the-jaw breakout, this oil heals and soothes, helping my skin with the healing process. Two to three drops after toning and cleansing leaves my skin feeling moisturized with no irritation. I can’t say I am suddenly breakout-free and my skin tone is perfect, but this duo has greatly healed my skin and put me farther on the path to happy, clear skin.

With great power comes great responsibility, so a word of caution to those with sensitivities to any of the essential oils–know your allergies, patch test, and ease your way in. HIT emptied out at the 3-month mark with day and night use and sometimes a bit extra if I worked out during the day. TBFO, however, may hit even the fourth or even fifth month, thanks to initially every other day and morning use for the first weeks easing into everyday and night use–with great self-control. 

Have you tried any Vered? What have your experiences been like?

(Sources: About Veredlemongrass, myrrh, chickweed, calendula)

June Empties

Counterclockwise,

Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands
My post-shower, hand and foot massage balm while winding down for bed with some Sherlock Holmes. It may seem greasy at first, but the moisture settles in and smooths away any rough, wintered patches.


Heritage Rosewater & Glycerin
This has been my inexpensive tone-when-I-don’t-have-a-toner (great), set-mineral-makeup-or-any-makeup (great), and my-face-is-so-dry-in-my-cubicle-help-me spray (not so great). I’m working on another bottle of this that I discovered in my bathroom (bless you, past Jade, for leaving behind goods), and while I won’t rush out to repurchase it, I’d pick this up in a pinch.

Vered Botanicals Herb-Infused Toner
I’ve missed this so much since I shook out the last drop. It’s sexy-smelling, it’s refreshing, it has loads of beneficial herbs, and its counterpart, the Therapeutic Balancing Face Oil, feels lost without it. I’m taking a break from the cotton round ritual for spray toners, but I’ll come back to this one for its balancing, blemish-banishing powers for sure.

Devita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+
It’s a sunscreen but with the texture of a moisturizer? Brilliant. My qualms with it? Sometimes it leaves behind strange white flakes (Lonely Kiwee has witnessed it as well) and my face feeling a bit too matte and dry. I’ve massaged it in, patted it in, worn nothing underneath, worn oils underneath, same results. The white flakes are no big deal–you can just wipe them away–but being dry is no fun. If you’re not too dry and don’t mind random white flakes, this is your wonder I-can’t-believe-it-doesn’t-leave-a-white-cast sunscreen.

Have you tried any of these products? What are your thoughts?

Inflight Pamper

The season of school has finally given way to summer, so yesterday I sat all day on an plane taking me home from the East Coast to the West Coast. In the middle of reading an Elle magazine, passing out, and reading Sherlock Holmes (amazing, by the way), I did a bit of face pampering at my seat.

Amala Hydrating Yogurt Mask sample (came with an SBL order), Vered Herb-Infused Toner, and cup of ice all in my trusty fedora

1. Moving out and airplane flying called for a naked face (with sunscreen, of course), so there was no need for makeup removal. To cleanse and tone, I poured 5-7 drops of the Vered Herb-Infused Toner onto a cotton pad and swiped it all over my face and neck, avoiding the eye area. The toner is non-drying and has a refreshing, spicy scent. (As an aside, this toner can remove makeup, but I find I need much more of it, and I don’t like going through so many cotton pads and product as once especially this one is so nice!)


2. I patted down the remaining moisture left by the toner, and then massaged a light layer (aka half of the packet) of the Amala Hydrating Yogurt Mask into my face and neck. This mask can be washed off in 10 minutes or used as a leave-on treatment, but since I was one hour into a nine hour trek, I opted to leave it on. This has pleasant macadamia nut-jasmine-rose scent. I usually get a few dry patches inflight, but this time I didn’t have a single one by the time I reached home.

Skincando Combat-Ready Balm (sample size)
3. My hands were chapped and swollen from moving and packing, so I massaged Skincando‘s Combat-Ready Balm into my hands. I had already applied this along with Badger Balm For Hardworking Hands (appropriate for the occasion) at least twice earlier in the day, and I massaged this in again before going to sleep in my own bed. Today, the poor hands are still a bit dry, but much less red and dry than yesterday.

 

Feeding my skin with Dr. Alkaitis

When it comes to green skincare, I had my start with a balm.

I rubbed that balm of pure plant oils in between my fingers and onto my face, watched my makeup melt away, and I was like, “Wow…awesome…” And then I wiped the residue away with a warm washcloth and I was like, “Wow…even more awesome…” And then I moisturized with it. My mom and my sister were incredulous, “How can you moisturize and cleanse with the same product?!” With the power of organic plant oils, that’s how…

Unfortunately while I liked the balm, my face didn’t get along with it. (My mom and my sister blamed it on the double-duty cleansing and moisturizing–false!!) The same thing happened with coconut oil (though I’m sure I didn’t get a pure enough form), and at this point my face was screaming unhappiness in the form of face-wide breakouts.

That was when I began cleansing with pure, raw honey, after removing makeup with jojoba oil and a warm washcloth. I followed with argan oil for moisturizing. My face calmed down within the next couple months, but it was still a bit traumatized, breaking out, and starting to get drier from the winter weather. After coming back from this last winter break, I decided it was time to put away my DIY fairy and put my face in the hands of Dr. Alkaitis.

 

I was drawn to Dr. Alkaitis for several reasons. Did you know he was a prodigy violinist before going into science? Hello, fellow musician! And how he did not set out to create an organic skincare line, but in order to create the best skincare line, he had to make it organic? Win! And talk about winning, they’ve won various awards, many of which concerning problematic/acneic skin? Also their motto:
If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin™
It is now three months since purchasing the Trial and Travel kit, and first of all, this lasted me much longer than 7-12 days. The trial-size Cleanser and Soothing Gel ran out after about 2 months with constant use, and I’m still going on the Treatment Oil. Second, I have already purchased some of the full sizes. This should give you an idea of what is about to follow.

Before diving into the products, I emailed the Alkaitis team for recommendations for my combo, acne-prone skin, and I will interweave their suggestions (indented) along with my experience.

1). In the morning and at night use our Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser. It cleans the skin gently, deeply and thoroughly. It removes old skin cells and leaves the skin moist, soft and refreshed.

Put a little on your middle finger, scoop up some water and gently massage your face until foam avoiding the eye area, rinse with lukewarm water and dab dry.

The smell. The smell. I fell in love at first sniff. And then with the cleansing power. Two pumps dispenses just enough for a gentle foaming massage, and my face feels clean but not dry after rinsing. The foaming does not come from the usual, harsh sulfates that are used in conventional foamy face washes, but from an organic castile base including olive, shea, and coconut oil. Some reviews on Spirit Beauty Lounge claim this can remove makeup (excluding eye makeup). I’ve tried it, and while I find it removes some makeup, there is definitely leftover residue, so I prefer removing makeup with sweet almond oil beforehand at night.
I was also drawn to this cleanser because of something Spirit Demerson (of SBL) said herself in a comment on Anna’s Morning Routine on No More Dirty Looks:
After my summer breakout fiasco, I was not sure if my skin could tolerate the coconut oil in RMS Beauty. This comment gave me a little hope, and ever since I’ve been using this cleanser in tandem with RMS, I have had no makeup-related breakouts.
While usage is recommended for day and night, I prefer using this only at night, as my skin has been on the drier side since winter hit. (For morning, I was using my Konjac sponge until it tore, *tear. Now, I splash with water and wipe with Vered Botanicals Herb-Infused Toner.)

2). In the morning and evening after cleansing, apply our Organic Soothing Gel, it is a moisturizing gel that leaves your skin soft, supple and refreshed. It is an antibacterial tonic, good for sensitive skin and inflammatory conditions such as acne, eczema and rosacea.

In the palm of your hand dispense a dime-size amount apply over entire face, using only your fingertips. Massage gently for full absorption.

This product replaced the tea tree or lavender essential oil I had been previously using to spot-treat acne. The Soothing Gel is, as its name suggests, soothing and cooling, as it is comprised of various herbs in a base of aloe and witch hazel, both of which are anti-inflammatory and moisturizing.  Thus, the Soothing Gel can function as a moisturizer for oiler skin types, which will be me this summer, but we will see if I can part with my beloved facial oils. Since I am currently drier, I enjoy it more as a gentle, light, moisturizing acne treatment, upon which I layer a facial oil. One pump is enough for my face and is quietly effective without the irritation I sometimes get from tea tree and lavender.
The Soothing Gel is also recommended for use on just-shaven areas, and let me tell you, I’ve had nights where I’ve forgotten my shaving cream (aka my hair conditioner) but I had to shave, and then I shaved but it wasn’t the best job. Normally, I just suck it up and deal with the tenderness that follows, but the Soothing Gel eliminates any necessary woman-ing up. After a light application upon the just-shaven area, I’m good to go and I’ve already forgotten that I forgot my shaving cream.

3). Before bed  after the cleansing and the gel you did earlier, apply our Organic Nourishing Treatment Oil. As the day wears on your face gets oily and we apply the Ayurvedic philosophy “Oil cuts Oil.” But that’s not the only reason you have to use the treatment oil, there are other ones, This oil will have both a therapeutic effect on your skin and will bring unbalanced skin into balance, it absorbs quickly and holds moisture which is very important and I’ll tell you why, it will soften the sebum that causes the acne and in the morning you will be able to wash some of it off.

This oil. I love this oil. I had only played with single ingredient facial oils like jojoba and argan before, so this was my first blend. It is so beautiful. It’s a rich golden color, and smells like a dream when I’m patting it onto my face. This is a bit of a heavier oil in comparison to argan, so I give it a little more time to sink in before heading to bed or putting on sunscreen during the daytime. This makes my face feel so moisturized, plump, and soft. And the ingredients are awesome, including Rosehip oil, St. Johns Wort, turmeric, otherwise known as healing, also healing, and extra healing.

Results

Using these products together have resulted in really wonderful results for my face. The small bumpy patches of irritation on my cheeks–diminished. The acne scars littered across my cheeks–lightened and healed significantly.  My forehead barely breaks out. While I can still count on hormonal acne visitors each month, they heal within a week. My skin texture is smoother and my redness has decreased. I am more confident about only spot-concealing instead of going for full coverage. I’ve even had a couple no-makeup days! Only a couple months ago, I was too embarrassed to go outside my room after removing my makeup, so I cannot tell you how glad this makes me.

Of course, I must mention that these results did not happen overnight and my skin is still far from perfect. This was a gradual process and of course what you put on your face only goes so far–diet plays a role as well (I admit…I still eat bacon). I also had a month of dabbling where I tried adding in some of the creams for extra moisture, but I came to the conclusion that my skin does not yet require the power packed in those lovelies (but maybe I will in 10 years or so). The eye creme, also very powerful, is also very lovely, and I know I don’t need it, but I will use it until I run out of the sample. I will just say that my eyes are practically never puffy anymore, and I often opt out of under-eye concealer because my dark circles are not as dark anymore.

As far as full-size purchasing goes, I am gradually decanting the full-size Cleanser and Soothing Gel into my trial-size bottles for convenience. The only reason I have not purchased the full-size Nourishing Treatment Oil is because there are so many great oils out there that I want to try…however, I know what to come back to if my face misbehaves again.

As a footnote, I must also mention that the prices are very deceiving. The sizes for all of these products are actually very generous. The Cleanser is $65 for 4oz ($16.25/oz), Soothing Gel for $60 for 4oz ($15/oz), and the Nourishing Treatment Oil $80 for 4 oz ($20/oz). Just looking at the oil–twenty dollars per ounce for that powerful blend is a great deal! There are oils out there that are $100+ per ounce!

As a second footnote, while I am obsessed with the smell of these products, it may not be for everyone, as are the various herbs and essential oils, which is exactly why I started with the Trial and Travel Kit, which is also a great value and really gives you a good taste of Dr. Alkaitis.

Have you tried any Dr. Alkaitis? What are your thoughts and experiences?

Winter Empties ft. Soapwalla, Yuli, Mad Hippie

read: I have run out of a few of my favorite things and I am sad.

Soapwalla Kitchen Deodorant Cream ($12): I’ve been rotating this with Weleda’s Deodorant spray since the summer, and this is my go-to for reliably no-smell and less wet-armpit-look days. I am a really sweaty person, so believe me, it works.
Yulï Skincare Panacea Elixir ($36): I adore this. I love the smell, it’s refreshing when you hit that midday slump or you’re traveling 9 hours straight on a plane, it feels calming on my blemish-prone skin post-cleansing–nothing bad I can say about this except that I went through this in a month. *cry.
Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($33.99): I am eagerly waiting my repurchase of this because this stuff is awesome. It’s an antioxidant punch bowl that, in conjunction with my argan-tamanu moisturizing, has lightened up my acne scars from my crazy summer breakout to the point that, while I’m not ready to go concealer-less everyday, I was okay with going skiing barefaced last week (on the basis that I needed to be able to reapply sunscreen. And yet I still got burned. *owned by life).

Night Routine in Recap

So thus ends my current nighttime skincare routine. You know what they say: don’t go to bed without cleaning your face! And moisturizing! And enjoying it! They don’t say all of that but just go with it. You have one face for your life and might as well take the best care of it. If this 4-step process is too much for you, at least stick to the cleaning and moisturizing. Your face will thank you for it.

Did you miss any part of the cleansing, toning, treating, or moisturizing? No fear! Here are all the links below:

ft. jojoba oil, pure raw honey
ft. apple cider vinegar
ft. tea tree oil and lavender oil
ft. vitamin C serum, argan oil, tamanu oil, jojoba oil