BeautyCounter: The Future of Green?

BeautyCounter was introduced in 2013 and focused on spearheading the movement for safer cosmetics through legislation and offering greener products. Their philosophy of advocating for legislative change for safer cosmetics while introducing these safe cosmetics were made simple through products that looked beautiful with a price point that was unexpectedly fair – although their prices have systematically increased through the years.

Despite my initial interest, I never pulled the trigger in purchasing any products due in large part to their sales strategy that focused on growing a network of independent consultants which instantly drew comparisons in my mind to pyramid operations such as Amway and Herbalife that leave a bad taste.

Then in late 2016, one of their independent consultants sent me an e-mail to try their products and I thought, why not? Especially as at the time, BeautyCounter was being carried in Target stores which I only later realized was a temporary engagement.

I received sample packs of their Countertime Rejuvenating Collection which includes:
Soothing Face Wash
Radiance Firming Complex
Uplifting Day Cream
Restorative Night Cream
Vibrant Eye Perfector

If you click the links, you’ll see that the names of the products I linked to have all changed, and I actually could not find Soothing Face Wash nor it’s current iteration on their site. I’m not sure why this is, but it is pretty confusing. As I only received small 4ml sample tubes, I also don’t know the ingredients, so if the ingredients or formula has changed as well, my insight on the products may be obsolete.

The first thing I noticed was how all of the 5 products were so similar in texture, consistency, weight, and fragrance. They’re all white-ish creams with a lighter more gel like feel and fragranced ever so subtly with natural essential oils. To the immediate senses, despite the uniformity across what should be 5 different categories, the products all pass the initial impressions test.

Here are my mini run downs of each product:


Soothing Face Wash: a good cleanser very similar to many cream/milk cleansers on the market. It’s good if you’re not wearing a lot of make-up and just want a time saving, simple cleanse, ideally in the morning or when you’re tired in the evening. I like that there is no foaming and the cleanser washes off clean. With that said, I preferred to use this with another cleanser: an oil/balm make-up remover if I wore full make-up during the day as my first cleanse then followed by this, or this as my first cleanser followed by a more in-depth cleanser if I went more bare faced.

I think those with drier skin will especially find this cleanser agreeable, if it even currently exists in the line?

Radiance Firming Complex: This is the serum of the collection. It combines Vitamin C, fruit acids, algae and marine extract to tackle wrinkles, skin tone and improve hydration. Looking at the ingredients list which includes lots of plant oils that provide antioxidants and good amounts of algae (first ingredient), I definitely think that it is a pretty solid all-around serum. I don’t know if it has the high concentration corrective ingredients to really turn over wrinkles and skin tone, but I think for someone in their 20s to 40s, this will be a solid standard serum at a very reasonable $63 for 1 oz. The only caveat is that there are citrus oils so I recommend it for night time use. This would be my top pick of the collection.

Uplifting Day Cream: First thing to note is that the uplifting day cream doesn’t contain any ingredients that make it especially advantageous for day time use other than a lighter weight than the night cream. The good news is that it also doesn’t contain anything that makes it unsuitable for night time use either. I’d recommend picking between the two day/night moisturizers based on your skin type (choose the heavier night cream if you’re dry, or the lighter day cream if you’re oily, and try out both if you can’t decide). I’m not taking any points away for not including things like SPF which I actually prefer as a separate product, but what I will call to attention is that many of the beneficial ingredients are listed after phenoxyethanol, which as a preservative is either too concentrated in here or the beneficial ingredients are not concentrated enough to actually do any “uplifting”. I think that at $73, for a ‘meh’ ingredients list, there are better moisturizer options out there.

Restorative Night Cream: See note on day cream above. The Night Cream is thicker, and contains more emollients such as shea butter and heavier plant oils. For a restorative product, there aren’t actually that many anti-aging ingredients as one might assume given the very promising marketing language. You’re pretty much getting a heavier moisturizer that has good antioxidants, which isn’t bad but in a similar vein to the aforementioned products, probably won’t deliver top performance for the fanciful “lifting/firming/restoring” results that are promised.

A strike against this cream is the jar packaging which I wouldn’t mind (especially as it looks beautiful in the photos), but will accelerate the antioxidant breakdown which is unfortunate since that is the main source of the “restoration”. Again, as a general moisturizer, I’m not sure that I’d spend $75 on it but if you can score one of the day/night creams for around $40-$50, it might be worth it to try as long as your expectations of performance are aligned because they are good, solid moisturizers, just don’t count of them for too much anti-aging performance.

Vibrant Eye Perfector: This is a great eye cream that feels very emollient and disperses quite beautifully. Similar to the night cream, the jar packaging is problematic which may explain why the phenoxyethanol preservative is listed so uncomfortably high in the ingredients list again *sigh*. I probably sound like a broken record but the truth is that the limitations of the products are all very similar since the products themselves as I explained at the beginning are so similar to one another. I still enjoy using this eye cream but I know that there are better options out there both in terms of efficacy and formula.

For some of you, the fact that Beautycounter advocates for safe cosmetics but uses phenoxyethanol in their formulas might be a turn off. I try to steer away from phenoxyethanol in my products but do not consider it a deal breaker. For others, the independent consultant sales strategy might be a detractor for you as it was for me, which can easily be mitigated through purchasing directly through their website.

I found the samples a pleasure to use, and while I do not think there are enough good ingredients to back up the proposed benefits of many of the products, I do think that if you’re currently spending your money on products like Origins/REN, it would be worthwhile to give this line a try as well.

African Botanics FLEURS D’AFRIQUE – INTENSIVE RECOVERY OIL REVIEW


African Botanics has been nailing it lately. When I first wrote about them (see review for their mask), I did not foresee that they’d go on to release a steady stream of hit after hits with an impeccable eye on design & packaging (the new Neroli Infused Marulia Oil calls my name). Today, African Botanics is beloved by the ultra-luxe Violet Grey editors and is frequently seen on Instagram in the photo editorials of the chicest influencers. I believe what catapulted African Botanics really started with one product – the Fleus D’Afrique – Intensive Recovery Oil. The striking black frosted semi-translucent glass bottle combined with the most high powered, sought after ingredients in the skincare game became the skincare version of capturing lightning in a bottle, and soon everyone was mesmerized by the $250 face oil.

I know – you’re probably thinking “$250!? What? Why!” – so let’s get to it:

What it is

Night-blooming flowers are merged with powerful anti-aging actives in this restorative face oil. Indigenous plants from the most remote regions of South Africa have adapted to survive the harsh challenges of their environment, making them ideal for skin exposed to urban stress, UV damage, and pollution. Utializing advanced anti-aging technology, this light oil reduces fine lines and wrinkles, blemishes, dark spots, redness, and dryness in all skin types.

The African Oil Complex, including extracts of baobab, damask rose, immortelle flower, and jasmine grandiflorum, provide omegas 3, 6, 7, and 9 to fight signs of aging. Marine micro-algae, retinol, vitamin c, and CoQ10 are anti-wrinkle actives that refine, calm, and provide antioxidant protection. Formulated without parabens, silicones, or synthetic fragrances. Calms inflammation, redness and irritation from breakouts, sun damage and environmental exposure. The skin is left luminous, more youthful with increased firmness, elasticity and clarity.

What’s in the bottle?

Citrillus Lanatus (Kalahari Melon)* Seed Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula)* Seed Oil, Jasmine Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Oil, Adansonia Digitata*, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil, Rosa Moschata (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Caprylic Capric Triglyseride, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis (Microalgae) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Helichrysum Angustifolium (Immortelle) Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Myrothamnus Flabellifolius (Resurrection) Extract, Aspalathus Linearis (Rooibos)* Extract, Bulbinella Nutens (Bulbinella) Extract, Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo)* Oil, Cyclopia (Honeybush) Extract, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Calendula Officinalis (Marigold) Flower Oil, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Retinol (Vitamin A), Rosmarinus Officinalis Extract. *Wild-Harvested.

What struck me most was the high concentration of Jasmine and Rose essential oils, as well as the very unique ingredients including microalgae extract, CoQ10, Vitamin C, and Retinol. And if you’ll notice, they’re not “plant derived” either, we’re talking full-on Vitamin C and Retinol. The top two ingredients form the base which is Kalahari Melon Seed Oil and Marula Seed Oil which are signatures of the South African inspired and produced line.  Beyond these call outs, it’s important to note the roster of ingredients including baobab, rosehip, and immortelle which would be stars in their own right in any other formula. The fact is, there is no other oil on the market that has ALL of these ingredients blended in a singular formula. The result is a face oil unlike any other, super concentrated and powerful with the most luxurious fragrance. Once you use it, you’ll understand that the $250 comes with value, as no expenses were sparred in getting only the best ingredients into the bottle.

Impressions


It is no exaggeration to say that African Botanic’s Fleurs D’Afrique was love at first drop. The pump dropper is a luxurious choice and equally as addictive, the golden oil teasing through the black frosted glass is a divine sight to behold, and the immediate floral aroma emanating from the bottle before a drop is even dispensed is sensory heaven. I knew from day one that it would be hard to go back to life without it.

I use about 5 drops for my entire face and I only use it at night due to all the active ingredients. My boyfriend would ask if I was wearing perfume because that is how potent and beautiful the scent profile is. Because of the high level of actives, and the relatively lightweight base oils, this blend is definitely on the lighter side which is why anyone can use it. I consider this an oil-based serum rather than a “face oil as moisturizer” as it is meant to be active rather than simply moisturizing. All of the ingredients are meant to do something rather than sit on your skin, which is the goal when you’re spending $250.

With that said, the results of Fleurs D’Afrique are immediate and long lasting. The superpowers of Vitamin C, Retinol, CoQ10, Microalgae work alongside high quality oils to tackle every issue from anti-aging concerns and pigmentation, to acne and sun damage. It’s powerful in that way where you know it’s just reworking your entire skin, simultaneously working out fine lines and breakouts. In fact the first few times I used it, my skin was flushed and tingly afterward as it really is a powerhouse that let’s you know that the ingredients are working. When I used this oil throughout winter, my skin consistently looked glowing and rested. To be honest, I’m not surprised, this is literally a merger of a high quality skin pampering face oil with an anti-aging treatment, so in one step you get your retinol, Vitamin C, CoQ10 treatments and a face oil. $250 for a multi-treatment doesn’t seem so bad now, right?

Final Thoughts

I know face oils are a dime a dozen these days, but this one broke the mold. This is one of the all time greats as far as I am concerned. Fleurs d’Afrique is as powerful as it is beautiful. Your senses will be taken by the beautiful frosted black glass bottle and the golden oil that peaks through, then when you open the dropper you’ll immediately be floored by the most exquisite aroma of jasmine and rose oils. Your skin will be in for quite a ride with a combination of retinol, vitamin c, coq10, marine algae. This just might be the most powerful oil in existence. Yes, at $250 it is quite an investment but anyone who buys skincare has the question in the back of their mind “is the best money can buy?” and I have to say, when it comes to face oils, this is it.

African Botanics’ Fleurs D’Afrique is available at:
Credo Beauty
Cult Beauty
Violet Grey

Lina Hanson Global Face Trio – REVIEW


Last year, Lina Hanson relaunched her skincare line with a redesign and brand new products, and I immediately gravitated toward her Global Treasures Balm (which I wrote a bit about here). The other product she released alongside the scene stealing balm was the Global Face Trio, a 3-in-1 multipurpose powder that can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator and mask. Now I know what some of you are thinking “I do not need another powder in my life,” I felt the same way between the 3 cleansing powders, 5 powder masks, and 2 exfoliant powders all sitting in my bathroom. But Lina thought ahead and knew we were essentially cluttering our lives with products, so she instead took another approach by simplifying all these products into one multi-use product – a powder versatile enough to be a cleansing powder, an exfoliant, and a mask based on what our skin needs. Now, sometimes when a product promises hybrid functionality, it ends up doing each thing in a mediocre way but every now and then you get something like the chopstick – a purist tool that is high-functioning and valuable. So where does Global Face Trio stand?

Let’s start with learning more about the product:

“This 3-in-1 multi-purpose solution is a gentle yet effective powder that purifies, brightens, clarifies, and balances the skin. This unique product is not only customizable depending on your skin’s needs, it saves space on your counter, in your luggage, and in your mind, because it multi-functions.”

So this powder is basically the konmari version of your skincare. It’s formula is:


kaolin (white clay), limonia acidissima (thanaka) wood powder,** citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel powder* oryza sativa (rice) bran powder, acanthopanax senticosus (ginseng) stem extract, bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem powder, citric acid, curcuma longa (turmeric) root, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root powder, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,* citrus nobilis (mandarin) peel oil,* limonene***, citronellol*** geraniol,***

*Organic
**Ethically Harvested
***Naturally occurring in essential oils

The powder is clay based, and Kaolin Clay is very adaptable for most skin types as it is deeply cleansing yet also mild. The 2nd ingredient is the key: Thanaka Wood Powder, which falls into Lina Hanson’s Global Beauty philosophy of sourcing effective ingredients from her travels. Thanaka Wood Powder comes from the Thanaka Wood in Myanmar and it gives the powder it’s golden tint. Burmese women apply Thanaka Powder to their skin for its multiple skin benefits which include tightening pores, clarifying skin and decreasing breakouts. Orange Peel and Mandarin Peel are going to be clarifying powerhouses and while I would not use citrus in a face oil, I do not have issues with using them in a product that is rinsed off at home. The Ginseng, Licorice, and Turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory, brightening ingredients that boost circulation. Rice Bran Powder and Bamboo Powder are traditionally used in Asia to refine skin. Finally lemongrass gives this powder it’s refreshing scent and also has anti-septic properties. And if you’re keeping count, I’ve called out virtually each ingredient, which just shows that there really is no filler in this product, everything is in there for a very good reason.

How it Performs:


If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know that I take my time to really get to know a product. In this case, I realized that while the Global Face Trio can indeed by used as a cleanser, exfoliator, mask – it works best in two ways:

1. Add a few drops of water then mixed with a cleanser as a base (my favorite pairing is with YULI Halcyon) to simultaneously cleanse and exfoliate skin. The powerful mixture gives a deep clean and exfoliation that must be experienced. I do this about 2 or 3 times a week when my skin feels a little congested or in need of a “resurfacing” treatment, it feels like you’re soaking your skin in the best ingredients, almost like a mini-mask treatment as you cleanse. As an exfoliating powder, the finely milled nature of this powder means that it is much more gentle on skin and won’t feel rough or scratch at your skin.Take a good 5 minutes to just slowly cleanse and relax, adding more water if it dries before rinsing off. My skin immediately looks like there’s a soft filter, to a degree where I did not know skin tone could change so drastically in such a short amount of time.

2. As a mask, mix with water and add a few drops of a face oil if you need more moisture (Lina’s own Global Facial Serum is quite a good pick and the ingredients work really well together). I almost immediately feel a tingle where you know an ingredient is working. It’s not uncomfortable and there is no heat/burning sensation, I think it is from the tonic nature of the herbs including the thanaka, citrus peels, ginseng, licorice, and turmeric.  I leave it on for 15-20 minutes and when I wash it off, my skin really does look 2-3 shades lighter.

Final Thoughts


I think the Global Face Trio is an amazing product that packs so much performance as each ingredient is so powerful and purposeful. This is why my skin ALWAYS looks brighter and clearer almost immediately after using it. I know that I probably made it sound like it is solely a brightening product but it really goes beyond that, the brightening is the most visible result but it’s really an entirely stimulating procedure due to super-toning herbs that evens skin tone, calms inflammation, erase irritation, reverse skin damage (many of the herbs actually fight UV damage) and boost overall radiance due to improved health. Perhaps a better word for the result would be that it is rejuvenating but the most visible/immediate result is definitely the brightening – either way, there is no question that Global Face Trio is the real deal. Beyond that, I also commend the Global Face Trio as unlike most powders on the market, it does NOT contain Baking Soda – a major rarity and a huge bonus.

At $70 for 3.4 oz + a beautiful bamboo spoon for scooping, I feel that everyone using a powder with baking soda needs to make the switch and those who don’t have any powders, need to make The Global Face Trio, their first powder as it’s so hard to go wrong with how multifaceted and results-driven the formula is.

Available at:
Credo Beauty
The Detox Market

What I’m Reading

We’ve had this discussion before on where everyone is going to for their beauty scoop but in the evolving landscape of beauty publications, I thought that this time I would just share my list beyond the blogs you see in my re:

Gone
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NoMoreDirtyLooks
Sophie Amoruso of #GIRLBOSS fame recently stepped down from her position at Nasty Gal and in an Instagram Story captioned something along the lines of: “We killed it until all the copy cats came to our table and ate our lunch.” That is where I feel green beauty is currently. Bastions like No More Dirty Looks and Spirit Beauty Lounge who worked to establish the concept of “green” and “beaut is wellness” have become obsolete. In the case of No More Dirty Looks, the original founders got busy and brought on contributors who cozied up so much to the industry, it felt disingenuous (there was one time where 8 posts in a row were about one line). Editorial integrity was called out which was never sufficiently addressed. That’s where the downfall, for me, started but they still kept it going… until even that floundered when said writers struck out with their own lines and outside editorial jobs in the same industry which made the site lose a lot of the appeal that drew readers in the first place as a community to share rather than a place to sell. Now the site is all but dead with the founders acknowledging that the site “has fallen by the wayside”. Maybe one day it will be back, hopefully with the intent and tone realigned with the founder’s original purpose. But if that can’t be done, perhaps it is best left in the past.

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The Formula Blog: This personal blog was one of my favorites. I love Aimee’s self produced content from the photos to her brief reviews. There was a lot of insider content thanks in part to Aimee’s relationship with editors. However the last post was more than 5 months ago. Her Instagram is still good although the beauty feature is very scarce.

Burn Out
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Into The Gloss
back in the day Emily Weiss would share her routines and that is actually where I learned about lines like Sunday Riley, Aesop, and even more mainstream lines like Jurlique. Her insider knowledge and access to people like Eva Chen and every beauty editor and fashion model was the draw. Now it has become the self-styled “editorial arm” of Glossier. Good for Emily, for maximizing her opportunity but let’s face it – the site is sooo not what it used to be back when we learned about Rodin Olio Lusso, or how jewelry designer Eddie Borgo went from La Mer to vegan products. Now the site fluctuates between sharing TOPSHELFIES of “on brand” girls from social media and writing their own posts in that cutesy, fae, “Broad City is MY life” type of way that I find to be too much. It is irritating to see the brand forcefully commit to communicating their almost stereotypically offensive take on “millennial speak.”  Now I skim through the main page and just go “this will be about glossier… this will have more products but they’ll be low key raving about the 2-3 glossier products they have in there… this one will be annoying AF…” and the posts just don’t carry the addictive quality that made me go back and re-read posts of yesteryears. It also doesn’t help that their products (which already don’t promise much) have consistently felt like a cosmetic version of holding a limp dick, I’m always left feeling like “this is a sad product, are we supposed to find the crap quality ironic in a hipster way and love it for that reason?” is the appeal “OMG this is so basic and opposite of good, HOW REFRESHING & BAD ASS!”?

So anyway, the churning of eye-roll inducing articles mixed with self-promotion means this-

TL;DR ITG started slipping when Emily Weiss stepped away from the editorial/content side, and since Glossier’s launch has become increasingly unbearable transforming from an insider look behind the scenes of the most aspirational, into an SNL parody on millennial marketing. Like many relationships, change is inevitable and it’s time we cut the bullshit and acknowledge this is just not working anymore.

The Rise of the Clones

These are the “holistic health” sites like mindbodygreen, Well+Good, Chalkboard Mag that have great content yet absolutely no spark nor personality; making them difficult to differentiate. The combination of never critical beauty round ups, smoothie recipes, 5 foods for stress/immunity/ so on so on, gluten free EVERYTHING is a bit tedious and while the majority of articles are informative, everything just feels very… blogging by the numbers and formulaic… there is no engagement. Honestly, I can only take so many articles about avocados on toast. Whereas ITG doubled down so much on developing a personality as contrived as it may be, at least they arrived at a personality.. these sites need to find an identity that doesn’t all blend in together.

Men’s Sites

Recently, I’ve found myself signing up for feeds from two men’s sites that could not be more different from one another. Very Good Light is written for “generation z” and has articles on products next to pieces geared toward redefining masculinity. The product pieces are written in a way where it’s almost a journey of discovery and exploration as though the reader is figuring out a BB cream or new cleanser with the writer.

yoga1
Garçon’s World goes in from the other direction, with the express purpose of providing an edit for the modern man. The tone reads like GOOP x ITG (from their heydays), where the writers – themselves experts in the industry (including my favorite – Green Derm), talk shop with copies befitting of advanced magazine editors. More than that, they really cut through “trends” and deliver focus on products that are simply strong performers, including raving about a retinol serum from a purely clinical line (harder to get than Biologique Recherche) that I’ve never seen anywhere else before. There’s also really juicy stuff on their social media, their last Instagram story on the Kypris cleanser contamination was the first of two times my jaw dropped on Oscar weekend.

Personal Blogs 

While not a small-time operation by any means, I will go ahead and place Garance Dore in here as the site was started as her personal space. Since then, she’s done so well for herself. Garance Dore‘s Beauty category has expanded quite significantly and is probably the closest thing to old ITG that I’ve found. I think it is because while her team has grown over the years, Garance retains her voice as the site is still her “business focus”. Check out their post: Objects of Beauty and you’ll see why this site is one of few that still makes articles that I come back to read.

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Caroline Hiron’s is the beauty bible for many people and I love her cutting yet honest reviews (check out her visit to Violet Grey). Admittedly our perspective on some things are not the same: I think the amount of acid toning and retinols she recommends is bordering on counter productive, and some of her reviews esp on cleansers leave me confused i.e. Tata Harper’s Purifying Cleanser to her is a strong cleanser and should be a 2nd cleanse but in my experience it turns into oil on skin and is pretty much a 1st cleanser as it leaves a film behind but can remove make-up (my review here), she also says Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip is a similar cleanser that is low foaming but in my experience, it was pretty foamy and one of the cleansers that would dry out my skin so I saved it as a once a week cleanser for when skin was extra oily. All this is to say, everyone’s skin is so different as are our perspectives when it comes to products and just because we don’t always align does not mean the other person is not valid. I think Caroline is blunt, no-nonsense and so witty and will continue to read her site as both an informative source and for juicy tidbits.

I think that does it for my reading list, does yours look like this too? Are there others I should be adding to the list?

My 2016 Beauty Favorites

I was honored to be invited by Garçon’s World to share my 2016 Beauty Favorites alongside some of my favorite beauty bloggers. If you haven’t heard of Garçon’s World, I highly recommend checking them out. They’re perhaps best described as a cross of Into The Gloss and GOOP for guys written by really knowledgeable people including the founder of a 5-free nail polish line and Green Derm.

Below is my portion from their feature, you can check out the full feature on their website.

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My 2016 has been less about discovery and more about selectivity. I took a step back from hoarding the next new thing that was being hyped and really paid attention to spending time with items that were thoughtfully made and high quality. My favorites in order from left to right are:

The Beauty Chef’s GLOW Inner Beauty Powder: This year, I really tried to get on the internal wellness trend and I’m someone who can’t stomach a wheatgrass shot so a lot of the super-herbal supplements were a no-go for me. The Beauty Chef’s GLOW Inner Beauty Powder is different, it’s a delicious, flavorful berry drink that I would consume willingly and the fact that it has 23 very nutrition packed ingredients is the major icing on the cake. This is a next level beauty supplement with a great taste that can ACTUALLY be enjoyed.

Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum: I really love everything about the Tatcha line from the gorgeous packaging to the beautiful products. This eye serum is no different, starting from the de-puffing ceramic applicator to the relaxing and hydrating gel-serum infused with caffeine and gold, everything worked for me. I am a hoarder of eye serums and go through them quickly, then move onto the next. I knew this was a keeper when I ran out and went to Barneys the next day to stock up. It didn’t matter that I had other eye serums, I needed this one.

YÜLI Harmony Body Oil: It wasn’t until I watched Kim Kardashian rave about body oils on her Snapchat and how she marinates in them ALL DAY, that I realized I had to step up my game. YÜLI is a line that has consistently produced insane & gorgeous formulations and their organic body oil is best in class: their base is flower extracts of Immortelle, Blue Lotus, Water Lily infused in the most prized and beautifying oils including prickly pear, camellia, rosehips, buriti, acai, watermelon and sea buckthorn. The performance strikes the perfect balance of deeply moisturizing with a satin light texture. Harmony also provides UV protection, is gluten-free and nut-allergy friendly. The level of care and thought for this sophisticated body oil is mind blowing.

Glossier Super Bounce: When Glossier introduced their Supers, I was immediately drawn to Super Bounce with its promise of  hydration and plumping because let’s face it, moisture is the main area of weakness for those of us who use green products. Since adding Super Bounce to my routine, my skin just feels less thirsty and I’m convinced it is the one thing my otherwise pristine routine was missing. This cute and rather unassuming serum more than pulls its weight in delivering that dose of skin cushioning hydration that my skin was so sorely lacking.

African Botanics Fleurs d’Afrique: This is monumental as far as face oils go. Not only do I think this is the masterpiece of the African Botanics line, I think this broke the mold for face oils. The inclusion of South African Kalahari Melon and Marula oil dances with the most luxurious fragrance of Jasmine, Rose and nocturnal African flowers and is then topped off  by a 0.1% retinol, Vitamin C, and CoQ10 for over the top performance. This oil does everything well whether you’re in the market for anti-aging, anti-acne, or something for dull skin. I just put it on and know that all of the best actives are overtime to improve any imperfection. I do not care how many face oils you’ve used, this is one that must be experienced.

What I’ve Been Using: Nov/Dec

Hello readers! It’s been a longer time than I expected since I last wrote a post. There have been a lot going on in my personal life that I do not share on here or anywhere really. But some things do not change and that is my love of beauty products.

I have been working my way through products and based on your e-mails of “what should I use?” I realize the importance of providing product feedback in a more cohesive routine manner rather than leave them in an individual bubble.

So here is what I’m loving:

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African Botanics Fleurs D’Afrique

Holy crap you guys, this is a face oil on steroids! African Botanics was not kidding when they released this “intensive recovery oil” which contains marine micro-algae, retinol, vitamin c and CoQ10 in ONE SINGULAR BLEND! The scent is incredible and it’s not a surprise considering Jasmine Essential Oil and Rose Essential Oil are ingredients 3 and 5! This is over achieving. For anyone who has ever questioned the effectiveness of a face oil, try this and let me know if you still feel the same way. I seriously think this stuff is divine and savor each drop that comes out of the beautiful bottle. Pictures do not do it justice, just bring this up to a light to see the golden oil through the black frosted glass, it’s a thing of beauty. I could only use this 2-3 times a week at the beginning because it was so strong, which is another thing, sensitive skin might want to look at a calmer option like their Pure Marula Oil. But for those of you who just want to put a high quality buffet of actives on your skin in a face oil form, look no further. Buy this, enjoy, you’ve met your perfect match.

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Lina Hanson Global Treasures Balm

The first time I saw this balm on Lina Hanson’s Instagram, I knew I had to have it. Sure we’ve seen balms by many a green brand at this point but I was captivated by the gorgeous color and gold specks! Then I looked at the ingredients list and discovered the green color came from matcha, the gold from real 24K gold, and the inclusion of pearl powder. Gaahhh.. what a creation! When it arrived, I excitedly opened the jar and it was the beauty junkie version of what I imagine it would be like to meet a hot guy off of Tinder. “Ohhh that’s how the color looks in person and omg there are those gold specks!” I took a deep inhale and was welcomed with a warm, chocolaty note. I wrote Lina basically saying “Yeah it looks just as amazing in person but how are you not telling people how good this stuff smells?!” I’ve been saving this balm for winter to use on dry spots. But the real secret is how well this works as an eye balm. It doesn’t tug or pull, and gives the perfect emollient feel that lets you know that it’s working to get your skin buttery soft. My eye serums have been replaced by this gem.

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Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

This embodies the innovative and quirky aspects of Asian skincare with a bouncy memory serum texture. Overnight Memory Serum is an ultra-concentrated form of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist which means it is very very hydrating and absolutely packed with the rejuvenating powers of the mist. It is recommended for overnight recovery and I consider it to be extremely effective in combating dry winter air. Tatcha is made in Japan and I think of this as a very luxurious pressed serum/essence, as it is a very concentrated and nutrient packed product that delivers results like a serum. A little does go a long way with this and I use the gold scooper that comes with the jar which measures out the perfect amount. It kind of feels like breaking the super soft Japanese tofu over your skin and I say that in the most fun way. If your skin doesn’t handle moisturizers well (hello acne prone ladies) but needs that surge of moisture in the winter, this is the product you need. On a final note, check out how bouncy it is!

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Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo

I’m making my way through green shampoos and the latest stop is at Yarok which I have heard so much about. I believe it was Spirit who praised the way this smelled and although I enjoyed Rahua, I wasn’t completely in love with the palo santo scent so I had my eye on this for a while. I was pleasantly surprised by the gentle and light aroma of the shampoo. The way it smelled and felt reminded me of a fruity syrup. This shampoo was not drying at all, and made my hair feel and look great. I do not think it is really strong enough for my scalp though because it gets oilier quicker. With that said, I still really like this shampoo, my hair seems healthier and it just feels good. I find myself running my hands through my hair often because it just seems healthier. Many organic shampoos lack those chemical ingredients that give hair that “sheen” and “luster” but this brings it back with good ingredients which is incredible. I’m going to continue forward and see if my scalp situation sorts itself out – if it does, this will be a keeper.

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Yuli Metamorphic Elixir

When winter arrives, Metamorphic Elixir comes into play in a big way. If any green brand is going to pack in performance alongside the highest quality ingredients, it is Yuli and Metamorphic means business when it comes to hydration in the form of a botanically derived hyaluronic acid that is most compatible to the form of natural present hyaluronic acid in our skin, plant powered retinol alternatives (immortelle flower and frankincense which are both highly rejuvenating are literally ingredients 3 & 4), as well as the humectant glycerin which is a common ingredient however theirs is derived from fatty acids found in coconuts. Also if you love roses, this is flowing with a complex of roses with damask rose as the 2nd most abundant ingredient and also including a very rare white rose which smells soft and delicate. I think it was Chalkboard Mag that called this rose water on steroids for this reason. I first took the plunge to Metamorphic Elixir after hearing The Hermes Hippie and Rebecca Bailey of NMDL both  rave about it and it was love at first mist for me as well. A good face mist is like crack (I assume.. not speaking from experience), you just can’t get enough and already start dreading running out before you’re half way through  – that is exactly the relationship I have with this elixir. Add this to your winter regimen, it’s the tall drink of water your skin has craved.

Kari Gran Review: 3 Step System

In an industry where everyone is boasting, it’s refreshing to meet a line that places its philosophy as delivering what amounts to as “the little black dress” version of skincare. Kari Gran, based out of Seattle is a green brand focused on the less is more approach of simple yet elegant solutions centered around plant oils.

I know there are many choices when it comes to purchases, and Kari Gran makes it quite easy and compelling with a Starter Kit of the essentials: Cleansing Oil, Lavender or Rose hydrating Tonic, Essential Serum & new Three Sixty Five SPF 28 in really chic UV bottled travel sizes.

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So here’s a quick rundown:

Kari Gran Cleansing Oil: This is a non-emulsifying cleansing oil, meaning it’s best to follow with a 2nd cleanser or with a washcloth. As with all cleansing oils, apply to dry skin and massage away. The texture of this oil is the perfect thickness that doesn’t leave skin greasy but also isn’t like a dry oil that just disappears into skin after a few seconds. I like cleansing oils to be viscous enough that there is some cushion and this delivers on that effect.

The simple ingredient list of only 5 ingredients is very high quality, unlike other cleansing oils where beneficial plant oils are toward the middle of the ingredients list.

Ingredients: Sunflower Oil, Avocado Oil, Castor Oil, Lavender Oil, Tocopherol
All oils are organic

Kari Gran Lavender Hydrating Tonic: This tonic is available is in lavender or rose. Since the cleansing oil and essential serum have a dominant lavender fragrance, this tonic was a fantastic middle step. I actually really enjoyed this tonic and felt it was excellent as a setting spray and layered well with the essential serum.

The ingredients list for this is even simpler: 3 ingredients – distilled aloe vera leaf, organic glycerin and organic lavender. But unlike other lines where simple compositions can feel incomplete or a little too DIY-ish, this feels well done.

Kari Gran Essential Serum: The essential serum is Kari Gran’s answer to face oils. In here there are actually 15 plant oils, among them, my favorites are camellia oil, rosehip oil, calendula oil, and essential oils of lavender, rose, jasmine, ylang ylang. The scent works with the rest of the line and I’d describe it as more of a blend between lavender and ylang ylang, though on the floral fragrant side in a good way.

Ingredients list: Organic Camellia Oleifera (Camellia Seed) Oil, Organic Rosa Canina Fruit (Rosehip Seed) Oil, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Organic Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Organic Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Organic Olea Europaea (Olive), Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) & Organic Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Oil, Organic Olea Europaea (Olive) & Organic Arnica Montana (Arnica) Oil, Organic Lavandula Hybrida (Lavender) Oil, Wildharvested Boswellia Sacra (Frankincense) Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Oil, Jasminum Sambac (Jasmine) Oil, Organic Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn Seed) Oil, Organic Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Tocopherol (Non-GMO Vitamin E from Sunflower).

Summary:

What I’ve found is that Kari Gran really nails the texture, whether they’re using 3 ingredients or 15, the products go on the skin and feel just right. You never feel lacking, as the products provide a polish and elegance that belies that often times sparse ingredients list. The compositions really do work like minimalist little black dresses and for that reason, I’m inclined to recommend them for everyone as they would just fit so effortlessly especially at their fairly reasonable price points.