kimberlyloc x Rachel’s Plan Bee Jasmine Body Oil Review

A couple of observations:

  • Body Oils are such a treat. Something about applying what could be a face oil to the body just makes one feel luxuriated far more than any lotion.
  • Finding the right jasmine can be tricky, some are too cloying, too spicy, too sweet. It’s the ultimate goldilocks scent, so once you find one that sits right with you, treasure it.
  • Kimberlyloc, a fellow blogger turned friend over the years, knows her jasmine.

So when Kim asked if I would like to try her Jasmine Body Oil collaboration with Rachel’s Plan Bee, there was no way that I was going to say no.

I’ll be honest, my aesthetic is very much on the decidedly non-flowery side, so I did not think I’d love the packaging. Yet, I have to say the bottle looked pretty good standing amongst my collection of minimally designed bottles and grew on me with each glance. It just looks like a delight and I love the weighty feel in my hands.

Enough about the exterior, let’s move onto the good stuff that’s inside:

Ingredients: prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, tocopherol (mixed)**, jasminum grandiflorum (jasmine grande) flower oil, jasminum sambac (jasmine sambac) flower oil, rosa damascena (rose) absolute, vanilla planifolia, citrus sinensis (sweet orange) oil*, caprylic capric triglycerides.

*certified organic **non-gmo

The first thing I noticed and appreciated was the good mix of solid carrier oils like Apricot Kernel, Grape Seed (the main base in Vintner’s Daughter’s very expensive serum) along with my favorite essential oils like Jasmine and Rose. Second, there are two different types of Jasmine oil, Jasmine Grande Flower Oil from the Jasmine Grandiflorum species of Jasmine which has the sweeter, floral scent and the rarer Jasmine Sambac Oil from the Jasmine Sambac species of Jasmine which has a greener, tea like scent. I find this to be really well balanced and really brings out the best in the Jasmine fragrance profile, leaving us with a scent that is clean, floral, and smooth.

The addition of rose, vanilla, and sweet orange oil added even more depth to the fragrance. Now here’s an update: originally, I was concerned that the sweet orange oil would be photosensitizing but Kim actually provided educational materials that showed sweet orange oil is one of the rare citrus oils that is *not* photosensitizing, so win-win!

When testing body oil performance, I always check that my skin feels hydrated without the oil itself being too heavy, a balancing act that can be different to manage, yet this does the job. The oil pumps out on the weightier side but absorbs quite quickly into skin so you get the best of both worlds: moisture without feeling like you’re doused in oil. I’ve really taken to applying this on arms and legs on days where I just shaved as it just feels like next level comfort.

I’m not surprised that the kimberlyloc x Rachel’s Plan B Jasmine Body Oil was a hit, while I don’t know the Rachel’s Plan B brand very well, I do know that Kim knows her jasmine scents and also have a breadth of experience when it comes to body oils, so given her reference, it makes sense that the execution on those main fronts in this product were flawless. What I am surprised about is learning that the retail price for this hefty 3.8 oz bottle is only $39.00. Yes, you can also grab a 1 oz mini for $12.00 in dropper form, but seriously just get the full size. If you love body oils, you should get this one for the reasons listed above, and if you don’t usually go for body oils $39 isn’t a big leap to give it a try. As for me, I still have over half a bottle left but when it runs low and Winter rolls around, I’ll be sure to have a bottle of this jasmine goodness ready to go.

Dear Green Beauty Brands, You’re Better Than This

I may not be the most consistent with my posting schedule but I’ve always kept it honest. Lately, I have felt a little burned out. Where I used to be so enthusiastic and optimistic about high-end green beauty brands, I’m now worn by seeing repetitions of the same stories, packaging, and ideas. Brands are all jumping onto one wagon, overloading (and eventually toppling) it. To be clear, this has nothing to do with “who came first” – companies such as Aurelia, Indie Lee and Agent Nateur came much later in the game than pioneers like In Fiore and Tata Harper yet they are original and bring something new to the conversation. So I’m a very big proponent of options and love supporting unique, innovative, NEW ideas and concepts.

What I don’t like are the brands that piggyback off others ideas and concepts such as the endless brand founders who happen to speak in May Lindstrom-lingo, or how the packaging is all basically iterations of the same concept. This is a post I shared on Instagram that I would like to share on here as well:

“Today I’m sharing this photo posted by @spiritbeauty, one of the pioneers of the #greenbeauty movement who’s website Spirit Beauty Lounge was once the most beautiful web shop that had THE green beauty brands. For many, she was the one who discovered lines like Tata Harper, May Lindstrom and Yuli. What set her apart was her vision of luxurious green beauty that were every bit as high-end as the brands seen in high-end department stores and niche concept stores (which all three aforementioned lines now happen to be in). She had an eye for going above to find authentic visionaries who would have a future and advocated for them. This photo is a snapshot of the brands she championed. Unfortunately this community rewards copycats, and despite everyone saying they want the luxury experience, the truth is that everyone wants luxury on a budget which I can’t blame them for but what happens is that retailers without this eye for luxury end up stocking those same brands, then branch out and get more brands becoming bigger in the process and then throw more discounts to move customers – and in the words of Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amorouso, the copy-cats came to the table and stole our lunch. Spirit Beauty Lounge as far as I know, is no more. Whether it is an extended hiatus or a permanent shut down remains to be seen, but her voice – the part that made green beauty all the more special and luxurious has been silent for a while. In it’s place, are retailers and new green beauty brands espousing the same origin stories, the same why we’re special, the same iterations on formulas and packaging. “Our line doesn’t use essential oils”, “Our line’s specialty is essential oils that are TESTED and that is why they’re special”,”Our line uses entire whole plants”, “Our line uses no colloidal silver”, “Our line focuses on colloidal silver, gold, etc!” and the countless iterations on founders who single white female May Lindstrom and Etsy-esque lines that resemble Herbivore Botanicals. Some also imitate their formulas, have the same naming convention and sizes and then undercut them on pricing. But here’s the thing, they all universally claim originality, a need to create that sprung from a void, yet ironically taking from the very brands that they’re manipulatively erasing from the narrative. 

Our community rewards it by continuing to fall for it, thinking a new iteration with a random new ingredient or another impassioned talking head who started playing with oils in 2014 is going to be better than the next – FOMO. This is why you do not see me introducing new lines that often. I won’t accept a free sample from another copycat brand to share with you guys if I don’t think they’ve legitimately going something new to add to the conversation. Spirit may be gone for now, but I ask each of you to learn the lesson from that – reward originality, vision and authenticity not “me-too” brands who piggy-back off the work of others.”

I know in our “community” there is still a decorum from “going there” – people will talk about a problem but not actually tell you exactly who the offenders are and it doesn’t do any good. I believe in using my writing to express my honest voice so I will shed some examples in hopes that it both educates and discourages offending brands from continuing this unethical practice. I won’t even share the subtle slights of which there are nearly countless examples but here are three very recent and unarguable cases:

Lil Fox Miami Eucalipto dupes Kahina Giving Beauty Moroccan Beldi Soap with Eucalyptus

A fellow blogger friend of mine DM’d me when she saw LilFox introduce a new product that was *very similar* to one that Kahina has had on the market for a while already. In fact it is the same thing – this product uses the same two ingredients:

Saponified Olive Oil

Eucalyptus Oil

Is this illegal? No. A two ingredient product is not illegal, but I think you will agree this is not a good look especially as the titles both reference Morocco, which is an essential part of Kahina’s brand DNA. Regardless of whether this matters to you, it’s evident that the LilFox product is not original.

Romilly Wilde passes off In Fiore photos as their own

Romilly Wilde is a UK line that based on conversations with another friend of mine in the know has serious financing and PR muscle. The founder is also the one behind Plum Baby, a very successful line of baby food. All this is to say, they should know better than to:

1. Take another brand’s photo
2. Act like it’s their own work

In the photo above Romilly Wilde took a photo from In Fiore’s Instagram stream all the way back form 2014 and acted like they were “busy creating” these “new balms and oils.” Lies on so many levels.

The above proves it isn’t a fluke. Romilly Wilde takes a photo from In Fiore’s instagram stream and acts like they’re making batches for one of their products. Can we say dishonest advertising? That photo isn’t even their product!

Upon being called out, Romilly Wilde wrote a very half-hearted (in my opinion) apology that didn’t even tag In Fiore’s instagram that was essentially “In Fiore, we think you’re great. sorry for the whoopsies! We’ll be careful!” – that entire post/apology is now gone from their Instagram.

Recherche Beaute plagiarize YÜLI Skincare

Recherche Beaute is a line that just came out (their first digital presence was beginning of 2017). The founder is a “USC law school graduate.” Remember these two facts because the entire Recherche Beaute website is littered with plagiarized content from YÜLI.

Top: Recherche Beaute (2017)
Bottom: YÜLI (2012)

Literal word for word.

Top: Recherche Beaute 2017
Bottom: YÜLI 2012

Again, word for word from the question to the two paragraph answer. What’s absurd about this one is that Recherche Beaute is also claiming the same exact background, team, and development/testing process as YÜLI? It must be the case since they’re literally ripped them word for word, which makes their claim dubious and equally makes me doubt their authenticity of actual testing/development. Your description of the testing/development process isn’t even your own! Seriously if a brand can’t even come up with how they develop/test their products, what is the likelihood that they’re actually using those chemists and doing market testing? It seems they’re trying to create an illusion for something they don’t actually have based off of another brand’s content that impressed them.

Top: Recherche Beaute 2017
Bottom: YÜLI 2012

This isn’t word for word, more like Recherche Beaute copied and revised YÜLI’s content, leaving it mostly intact. Again when you copy another brand’s statement on their production methods, and take it as your own – it makes me doubt you’re doing any of the things you claim.

 

Left: Recherche Beaute 2017
Right: YÜLI 2012

I mean… come on… at least change the order?

The reason I am giving the dates is because the YÜLI website can be traced and archive engines verify this content was on their site in 2012, meaning it’s inarguable that the original intellectual property belongs to YÜLI. What is also inarguable is the fact that Recherche Beaute plagiarized YÜLI’s content, taking someone else’s work as their own. Given that the founder is a USC Law School graduate, it’s really inexcusable for them to feign ignorance at their offense. You can’t say you graduated from that program and not understand plagiarizing and intellectual property violations. They knew the unethical move they were committing and decided to go ahead and rip off another brand’s work.

*UPDATE*
Shortly after posting this, I discovered on Instagram that other bloggers had discovered Recherche Beaute also plagiarized from African Botanics as well. Such a strange coincidence considering my most recent post on Instagram after the one I shared above was about the originality and vision of African Botanics.

The middle screen is an interview that Peter Nguyen, the founder of Recherche Beaute did with Jenni Kayne. The highlights in yellow are the plagiarized parts, and the screens on the left and right are the original content from African Botanics website.

This shows that it is not an isolated incident and that Peter Nguyen has made a habit of “Melania Trumping” other brands.

*UPDATE*
Since this post went live, I have been hearing from other bloggers and instagrammers about how Recherche Beaute has been deleting comments asking about their plagiarism and basically pretending this didn’t happen. They’re also Direct Messaging people telling them there was a “misunderstanding” which there is not (also how am I supposed to trust a company that DM’s people different stories – cause us bloggers compare notes- in private and hide from it publicly) and have tried to place blame on everyone from the “jealous competitor” narrative (as though they were coerced into plagiarizing by the brands they stole from? who are all more established than they are?) to setting the blame on a hypothetical employee as a scapegoat – basically not taking any responsibility and choosing to continue the dishonest and unethical behavior. Below are screen grabs from when they DM’d me last night, completely unedited:


So the thing about lying and crafting an inauthentic story is that holes exist that do not hold up to questioning as is evident in this case. Also, buddy if you had a content creator and writer, then it just establishes that inauthentic nature of  your message and makes it even more alarming and despicable that your brand would be plagiarizing other brands work. Recherche Beaute is literally writing on their Instagram that their content is “co-composed” and “co-crafted” sooooo in other words, the founder couldn’t even write his own content or use his own voice….and “The interview is 100% authentic minus the segments that were disrespectfully taken without his knowledge. ” – So you’re claiming to be 100% authentic with exception to the heaps of plagiarized material? You know this is bullshit right?!

I think I speak for most of us when I say, no one expects perfection in this industry but we do expect honesty and respect in terms of not being lied to and deceived. It seems that Peter/Recherche Beaute thinks we’re dumb and can’t figure this out. Even with an opportunity to right their wrongs, this non-apology and inability to actually own and take responsibility for plagiarizing and stealing content is very telling of the unethical nature of the brand.


As my other blogger friends have said, it’s indefensible and egregious. I am making it public because this behavoir needs to be called out, offenders need to take accountability and be exposed for their dubious practices, unethical behavior and face the consequences. If you see something, say something. Not addressing these issues is doing no one any favors so I am speaking loudly.

Holiday Weekend Essentials: May 2017

Greetings from the first official summer holiday weekend! I’m writing this post while curled up in bed with a multiple masks on my skin – testing out Josh Rosebrook’s new Advanced Hydration Mask on dry patches and a mask I finally added to my collection: Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel, on oilier/more congested areas.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve provided an update on the products in my rotation and as many of you have told me through e-mail and on social media, I agree that individual product review posts do not really provide a comprehensive window into how exactly the products work or are being used together. So without further ado, these are the products I’ve been using regularly for the past month or have introduced recently.


Sun: Spring and Summer is all about committing to sun protection. Mustela Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+ has become one of my all time favorites and I have repurchased this about 5 times which is super rare as I love to try new products. For starters, this is a broad spectrum sunscreen that uses only mineral based sun protection (Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide) rather than chemicals which can be unstable and irritating. I’m not speaking from an analytical standpoint on chemical sunscreens, I speak from experience as someone whose eyes burn with any combination of chemical sunscreens. I also prefer the way my skin looks and feels with a physical block, yes it leaves a white cast and feels heavier than a chemical screen, but if you put it on just right it works like a highlighter and your skin just looks more luminous while being protected. And yes Zinc Oxide physical blockers may feel weighty, but they’re also anti-inflammatory and can be mixed with foundation for tinted coverage. Comparatively, chemical screens always add an oily shine, require more frequent applications, and don’t hide any imperfections (in fact I’m pretty sure the shininess accentuates them).

The SPF 50+ rating for Mustela is very rare for a non-chemical sunscreen so that is a huge bonus. There is a lot of evidence that many sunscreens on the market do not hold up to their sun protection claims, but Mustela is a brand that is developed from it’s French Lab origins which has higher compliance markers than the US (they have the seal of approval from the Melanoma International Foundation) and their line is specially made for the delicate skin of babies which makes this sunscreen even better for sensitive skin. They are categorized as a natural sunscreen but this isn’t really a botanical sunscreen and the ingredients are clean enough for me although some might not like that there are iffy ingredients like silicone. The kicker: a 3.4 oz tube costs only $16, which is INSANE for the quality you get, which may be why it’s sold out everywhere (Dermstore currently has 20% off but if they’re not allowing back ordering, try Sephora).

Fragrance: My former Neiman Marcus co-worker says there are two types of women, those who invest in perfume and lip stick, and those who invest in skincare, I fall firmly into the latter group.  I love sampling fragrances but cannot wear any because the synthetics are nauseating to me. I remember trying natural perfumes from Whole Foods and feeling like I was just throwing on essential oils from an aromatherapy class which felt too crunchy for my taste. Enter Kahina with their concentrated roll-on oil perfumes. Essaouira is a seaside Moroccan village, and their namesake fragrance is a fresh and crisp homage with notes of floral rose, sweet woodsy sandalwood, uplifting lavender, and a very pristine top-note of citrusy petitgrain. The perfume is 100% steam distilled essential oils which means it is powerful and concentrated yet never cloying as there are no artificial fragrances. The staying power is just right where you can catch it wafting with the summer breeze. And best of all, it actually smells like something I’d be able to get at a department store.

Moisture: Weleda’s Soothing Almond Facial Lotion is basic, and that’s the point. This lotion is meant for sensitive skin and is hypoallergenic, and fragrance-free. With all the active serums, masks, toners in my rotation, I really wanted a moisturizer that just moisturized really well. This is that product. Sweet Almond Oil and Plum Kernal Oil both fight dryness, enhance softness and soothing properties that makes this lotion a pacifier for when you overdo it with the retinol or acid-toning. Too much action from acids and serums can lead to inflammation that ages skin and makes it more delicate, this lotion is my trick for avoiding that fate whenever I start seeing redness or feeling tightness and excess tingling and it has always come through for me.

Acid Toner: Speaking of… I finally jumped on the Drunk Elephant bandwagon by taking the plunge on Drunk Elephant’s T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. I’m not a huge proponent of regular acid-toning, but during the summer with the sweat+excess oil production plus heavier sunscreen usage, pores are way more prone to clogging so I acid tone to basically let my skin breathe every few days especially if I feel a breakout developing. This is a transparent brownish gel that works best under a moisturizer and reminds me of Arcona’s The Solution. I just started using this night serum (which is really an acid toner), and like all glycolic acid based acid-toners, my skin tingled/burned a bit when first used but is now adjusting.

That is one of the things I feel needs to be said: I know this brand made a splash by intimating that due to a lack of essential oils, their products will not cause irritation and be a sensitive skin’s best friend, which is a hefty promise that is unfortunately not realistic. All ingredients have the potential to cause irritation based on individual allergies and it is therefore not possible to have an ingredient much less a formulation that will work for everyone without triggering any sensitivities given that no two people are alike. Drunk Elephant may not use essential oils but they do use other active ingredients, in this case a 12% Glycolic Acid in addition to Tartaric and Lactic Acid which is very powerful and should be approached with some caution. I think there will be more people with sensitivities to this acid than a dilution of an essential oil like rose oil. It all depends on your personal skin sensitivity and how a product is formulated (concentration, other ingredients, other products used) that will determine how your skin gets on with the product so don’t blindly think this will work for you and don’t automatically assume anything with essential oils is going to be bad for you if you don’t have those sensitivities. This is not a critique on the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum, in fact I quite like the formula so far but I just wanted to provide clarity to what I felt was a problematic message by their founder regarding skin sensitivity. As for the actual product, I’ll be able to give more insight after I’ve used it a while longer.

Mask: I’ve really been obsessed with masks lately. Beyond the two mentioned at the beginning, I finally got around to opening my Tata Harper Purifying Mask which is. oh. so. good. Truth be told, I like this more than her original Resurfacing Mask which is already one of my favorites. This is one of those cases where Tata’s tendency to stay in her own lane in terms of developing products that primarily suit her own skin type (mature – drier skin) is beneficial. This purifying mask is deep cleansing, removes “environmental toxins” and great for “eliminating surface build up” which is much needed in the summer, and because it’s a Tata Harper product – even the purifying mask is buttery and non-stripping. It spreads so easily and rinses clean, and is a total pleasure to use (the scent is very fresh and spa like, I’d describe it as crisp lemongrass meets zingy ginger)- only con is that it only comes in that one size which really doesn’t last long enough given how addictive this will be throughout summer. Seriously though, please – someone at Tata Harper, I’m glad you got the pricing under $60 but these masks HAVE to be offered in a size that is bigger than 1 oz.

Serum: I think anyone who invests in skincare asks the question: “is this the best that money can buy?” With YÜLI, the answer is a resounding yes. Liquid Courage is their antioxidant serum which I use year round but especially for environmental protection and repair during summer. This serum is special, here’s why: mainstream lines throw in superstar ingredients next to an ingredients list of fillers that are cheap and don’t do too much, while green/organic lines just throw together a bunch of plant oils and call it an “antioxidant” serum or a super active serum. With YÜLI, each product feels like a realization of a dream product the same way that companies like BMW and Mercedes Benz design concept vehicles to realize purist visions outside of prohibitive production costs or other business considerations.

Case in point: YÜLI designed Liquid Courage to be the antioxidant powerhouse with a base made of a botanical seed complex which is the densest natural source of nutrients and has the highest levels of antioxidant activity. Then there is the advanced form of Vitamin C that even a line like Sunday Riley has JUST incorporated as the star ingredient in her newly released Vitamin C serum, heralded as a cutting edge discovery. This just shows the level that YULI is on, as the same form of Vitamin C is just one of the many notable ingredients for this serum, when with any other brand’s product, much less Sunday Riley, it is treated as the singular superstar. YÜLI also put in Ferulic Acid and Vitamin E, which means, yup this is a cleanly formulated CE Ferulic serum with an organic antioxidant botanical seed oil base – basically all the best things for your skin in one bottle. Oh we’re not done: then there are peptides and their exclusive – biofermentation of black garlic which increases its antioxidant potency by 6 times. The serum sinks in effortlessly and has a crisp, bright scent of neroli, which like most of their ingredients, are grown right on their own farm which brings fresh to a new level as well. And while a “super oil” these days will often mean a blend of 11-20+ oils if that, at around the $200 mark, this one has 20+ of the most beneficial ingredients, including powerful ones that are not harnessed in this synergy anywhere else for $125. So yes, this is the best that money can buy and the fact that it comes in at the price it does shows they design the best products and really deliver on value, this is why YÜLI has earned such a cult following where their products are continuously sold out and it is also why I’m currently on bottle number 8 of this antioxidant serum.

That’ll do it for this round-up, any products you have questions about? Drop a comment!

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.

1180-the_formula_milk_1
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
into-the-gloss-new-york-4
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?