JULY 4TH WEEKEND BEAUTY ESSENTIALS


I hope everyone is having a good summer! This year’s July 4th was on Wednesday so I ended up making a very long weekend out of it and made the trip from NYC to the Hamptons.

My skincare isn’t really based on set routines because I believe in changing things based on what my skin needs, so I’m sharing a couple of the products I brought with me for my long weekend trip.

Kahina Giving Beauty Oil Cleanser

I’ve been consulting with estheticians and figured out that it doesn’t matter if you only wear sunscreen and “light makeup,” especially in summer, everyone needs to double cleanse to get that surface stuff off before going in for that actual cleanse. It is apparently one of the core tenants of Asian Beauty Rituals so I’ve committed to oil cleansing every night before going over my skin with my trusty Halcyon Cleanser which is like…. the most necessary staple in my routine and key for good skin during summer when everything feels grittier and sweatier, it leaves my naked skin soft and baby-like.

As mentioned in my previous post on oil cleansers, Kahina’s Oil Cleanser is my favorite oil cleanser. It has a subtle yet pleasant aroma, possesses a nice weighty texture for massage without tugging at the skin and rinses cleanly. Beyond good organic ingredients, it’s also anti-inflammatory which is a major plus for heat prone summer skin. I like to massage it and feel the impurities glide off my skin. Since using this in conjunction with Halcyon, my skin has been totally clear and pores look clean and tiny, even those around my nose.

African Botanics Rose Treatment Essence

Many people assume that summer means going lighter on moisturizing products but that’s a mistake. The water content in the skin can be even more prone to TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss) due to the sun, air conditioning and high temperatures.

The Rose Treatment Essence is a nice weighty translucent gel that is far from the fluid textures of Asian essences. I gently rub this around my skin and it disappears immediately like a succulent serum. And the rose, oh my, the rose scent is such a pretty thing, so full and elegant, that the first few times I used it, I was so taken that I barely even paid attention to any results. Armed with botanical emollients, humectants, hyaluronic acid, and oligosaccharides, the results are worthy of the price tag: it’s very hydrating but not heavy or clogging which is exactly what you want from an essence, and the ingredients make skin feel firmer and pores look smaller.

Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask

A classic as far as green beauty goes, this has been in my beauty ritual for years. I always purchase a new jar at the beginning of every summer because I know how beautifully it works to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and all that leftover residue that accumulates during summer. This leaves my summer skin feeling light, fresh and happy and the instant-ready jelly texture is convenient to apply and wash off. The refreshing aqueous-herbaceous, fruity scent is one of my favorites.

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream

Have you ever sat in an air-conditioned room and then felt your hands? For some reason, they always feel a little… rough, right? I first used Tatcha’s Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream years ago and continue to love it. This hand cream disappears so quickly that it feels like your skin just drinks it up like water. And my hands are always left so smooth and nice.

Truth be told, I love a chic, sophisticated tube of hand cream since I’m always taking it out of my handbag in public and Tatcha is a brand that I associate with elegant beauty. Unlike a lot of other brands that make chic, sophisticated hand creams like Byredo or Le Labo, Tatcha uses only natural fragrances so my hands (and the things they touch e.g. FOOD) do not carry any cloying scents. This is very important to me as strong, synthetic scents really get to me and make me feel sick after continued exposure.

YÜLI Cellular Lip Conditioner

I’m more laid back about lip balm usage during the summer, it just feels counter-intuitive to me to cover my lips in a layer of balm while my face is melting off. Cellular Lip Conditioner is a lip serum that is 100% food grade (yay!), but also serious business as there is a powerful antioxidant chemistry that strengthens against UV exposure. It has great, nourishing plant oils like avocado, sesame seed, and green tea.

The texture is light, yet you feel nourished and hydrated. I like applying this also as a base layer before lipsticks and stains which can be drying (especially organic selections).

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation

This has been my go-to foundation since I first started using it (see Kjaer Weis review). I love how versatile it is, it can be worn as a “naked your skin but better” foundation or a fuller coverage depending on how you blend and layer. For daytime, I do three swipes: one on each cheek and forehead, then blend in for a very minimal face that still evens and lightens my skin.

What I love about this cream foundation is how it soaks up oils that skin produces throughout the day so even by the end of the day, I’m left with a very natural dewy complexion with a highlighter-esque sheen rather than a greasy face.

YÜLI Metamorphic Elixir

It’s funny how long I’ve been using this line. When I first started, my skin was ridiculously out of balance, oily and acne prone. I was using Panacea Elixir (which is like an organic P50 without the acids) and now, I all about that tall drink of Metamorphic Elixir which is a very rejuvenating (translation: anti-aging) and hydrating face mist. One thing I’ve learned is that a non-water based mist is much better than water-based mists that can evaporate and leave skin even more dehydrated and Metamorphic Elixir uses botanical hydrosols and aloe vera which are more hydrating and do not have that evaporation problem.

In addition to that base, Metamorphic has serum-level ingredients with an instant-mist delivery so you’re loading up on things like hyaluronic acid, carrot seed, and immortelle flower (the star ingredient of Madonna’s MDNA line). This has helped my skin feel more plumped and satiated. I have been using it for 2 weeks straight, spraying anytime I felt like it and my skin analyzer indicated that my hydration went up by 26% – the real deal.


Let me know if you’ve been trying anything new for summer!

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Cleansing Oils 101


I remember my first foray into cleansing oils. I was a college student staying with a friend during the summer at her grad student co-op. TSA had lost my bag with all my skincare products so when night time came, my friend shared her products with me and I was immediately drawn to the chic bottle of Shu Uemura Cleansing Beauty Oil. “Wait, what is this? An oil… to cleanse your face?” I asked – keep in mind this was a time before people were putting face oils on their skin much less cleansing with them – “Yes, it’s an oil but trust me, it’s really good and cleans well just try it!” my friend reassured.

To my surprise, the oil felt soothing and not greasy, cleansing and not messy. I became a convert and upon returning to work at Neiman Marcus, I immediately got a bottle for myself.

I imagine this is an experience that many who have discovered cleansing oils may share. Now, it seems that every brand has a cleansing oil and for those of you not acquainted with cleansing oils, I put together this little guide to help.


Cleansing Oils: What are they?

Let’s start at the beginning. Cleansing oils are not new, they’ve been around. In Fiore (who has their own LUSTRA Cleansing Essence) purports that oil cleansing is steeped in practices traced to antiquity, as chronicled in beauty rituals in ancient East Asian, Egyptian, and Greek civilizations.

In modern times, it was first prominently used as a dutiful makeup remover by makeup artists on fashion shoots and for performances. The oils are able to dislodge water-proof makeup including mascara and stains that water-based cleansers have a hard time removing and where strong soap-based cleansers may agitate skin. The oil’s powerful performance in removing makeup yet gentle nature (as only mild gliding on the skin is necessary), resulted in them becoming the go-to medium for makeup removal.

However, in the 90’s and early 00’s, the skincare game was dominated by “oil-free” products and any oil based product brought to mind a product that would be heavy, greasy, and skin-clogging, so cleansing oils remained an industry secret. Micellar Water, a suspension of oils in water was introduced as it was thought to be more easily accepted by the mainstream oil-phobic shopper, despite their performance being a literal watered down version of pure cleansing oils.

Although we now place them in their own category of cleansers, functionally it’s more accurate to class cleansing oils as makeup removers. Cleansing oils dislodge surface level impurities and are great for removing makeup and sunscreen. The oils can also be massaged around bare skin to help dislodge trapped and oxidized sebum on the skin surface, including pore-clogging blackheads.

Can any skin type using cleansing oils?

Yes, with caveats. As I stated before, cleansing oils should be thought of as make-up removers or what some people like to call the “first step cleanser”. It’s not a product that I recommend using as the sole cleansing step because it works on a surface level so you aren’t giving your skin that deeper level of daily cleansing maintenance.

As a first step cleanser/makeup remover, even those with acne prone skin and sensitive skin will benefit because cleansing oils work very gently, are good at removing surface level impurities that can contribute to irritating skin, and the oils do not strip skin which is really ideal for the skin barrier. Bonus: if the oils come from good plant oils, skin receives a wonderful addition of antioxidants and vitamins.

Do follow through with an actual cleanser, which can be a cream or gel, that cleans deeper and you’ve got a great system in place.


What types of cleansing oils are there?

I categorize cleansing oils as those that emulsify with water and those that do not. There is no clear-cut winner because there is a trade-off: purists may prefer straight oil blends that are filled only with the good stuff (see May Lindstrom Pendulum Potion) even if they’re harder to wash off, while the performance-minded may prefer cleansing oils (like One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil) that have emulsifiers that rinse cleanly.

I prefer cleansing oils that emulsify with water for an easy rinse to make sure no residue is left on my skin. I do not want there to be an excess layer of oils that can block the penetration of essences and serums that follow cleansing. Pure oil blends also require muslin cloth, steaming and/or hot water to wash off, a process that I believe to be too abrasive for daily cleansing that it could actually sensitize skin. With that said, if you have a great 2nd cleanser (I swear by YÜLI Halcyon Cleanser), you can do a casual rinse and follow with your second cleanser to get everything off.

How do you determine if a cleansing oil is good or not?

Always read the ingredients list. I like my cleansing oils to be made from high-quality plant oils, so if I see a cleansing oil made from mineral oil or plant oils that are not organic, it’s a no go. You might as well buy a bottle of organic Sweet Almond Oil or Olive Oil instead.

Also, if you have a preference between emulsifying cleansing oils versus pure cleansing oils, check the ingredients to make sure the product is the type you like by looking for emulsifiers which typically have a non-botanical name. It also helps to read the “how to” to see if things like muslin clothes are required to get an idea of how easy the oil is to rinse.

If you are able to sample the cleansing oil, find an oil that has a nice “bouncy” texture where you can glide it around your skin without it pulling or tugging. That weighty texture also helps nourish skin and is a good indicator that the oils have a larger molecular size so they stay on the skin surface which is good in an oil cleanser as you do not want the oils to sink into your skin.

 

What are your favorites?

Similar to face oils and juicing, for cleansing oils, I will only buy clean formulas made from organic plant oils.

Jose Rosebrook, May Lindstrom, In Fiore oils are where I’d steer you toward if you want a pure oil that does not emulsify. You can’t go wrong with any of their formulas which use high-quality organic plant oils, just play around and see which texture or scent suits you.

Now, onto the emulsifying oils that I prefer to use: the green community long-standing favorite, One Love Organic’s Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil is one that I’ve tried, loved and repurchased. It’s a nice hefty weight, made from sunflower and papaya seed oil, smells like pina colada, and emulsifies for easy and fuss-free removal.

I’ve purchased Tata Harper’s Nourishing Oil Cleanser which I honestly thought was going to blow all other oil cleansers out of the water but it left me surprisingly disappointed. The oil is great, it smells wonderful, feels fabulous, and even has this ability to soften skin. Where it falls short is how it emulsifies, upon contact with water, the cleanser congeals with the surface impurities (sunscreen and makeup) into a sticky almost rubbery white film on the skin surface that is nearly impossible to rinse off without the help of a cloth and second cleanser that foams. I don’t think this is a case of a product not working with my skin or individual preference, the formula falls short in delivering the cleansing experience because I can’t imagine anyone would find the stubborn rubbery film desirable.

A new release from Kahina Giving Beauty, the Oil Cleanser, is one I’ve been testing for the last two weeks and it’s been an absolutely flawless experience. The oil’s subtle fragrance reminds me of the Kahina Giving Beauty Essaouira Perfume Oil which is one of my favorite oil perfumes (bright, fresh and crisp). I used 3 pumps and it cushioned my skin with soothing sunflower, argan, carrot seed and calendula oils. Although I was done, I kept massaging the oil on my skin as it just felt so good. Upon rinsing off, the entire formula just melted off with water. The packaging is also gorgeous as you get to see the beautiful oils. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, Kahina Giving Beauty’s Oil Cleanser is hands down, my favorite cleansing oil.


If I left anything out or if you have a question about cleansing oils/any of the products I mentioned, please leave a comment!


What I’m Using: Spring 2018

Spring is my favorite season. It’s when I have a pep in my step and really come out of my hibernation. In the past, it was also a time when I least took care of my skin as I am not dealing with the extremes of winter or summer. The products that I use now tend to be lighter than my winter routine and generally just bring me much enjoyment. So I bring to you a couple of the products I’ve been using regularly this Spring.

Odacite Green Ceremony Cleanser

I’ve used water-activated powder products before, like May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt and deMamiel’s Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate, but this one is really unique. I’ve talked about the Green Ceremony Cleanser before when I received it in The Detox Market Best of Green Beauty Box but it wasn’t until further use that I noticed how absolutely incredible the cleanser works to clear away the stubborn congestion of blackheads and whiteheads. This cleanser turns into a foam so it works quite gently, but I find that just letting the matcha and spirulina infused cleanser sit on skin for around 2 minutes and then rinsing off totally clears out any blackheads from my pores. I use Odacite’s Green Ceremony Cleanser every week and estimate that it will last me until Fall/Winter at this rate (even with ramping up usage come summer), which I consider being a great investment.

In Fiore Vitale Toning Floral Essence

I basically love everything In Fiore but Vitale, in particular, I’ve had on my wishlist for almost 5 years. This was the first In Fiore product that I read about, and I remember just being in awe of the mix of old-world botanical education in the line notes of medicinal plants and regenerative tinctures. The spray is quite powerful and 2-3 pumps can easily douse my skin. The immediate scent is herbal with a top note of orange blossom though you can tell there is much more going on. While gentle and hydrating, I notice this also quite astringent which is fantastic for toning pores and enhancing the penetration of oils. So it has become my “go to” before oiling up my skin.

African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil 

Right now I’m in a very minimalist phase with my oils and I just want to feed my skin a good high-quality oil rather than over-complicate things. It’s decidedly a “less is more” approach which I think gives skin a welcomed break and I also really wanted to give the much-lauded marula oil it’s time to shine. The African Botanic’s Marula Oil quality really is second to none and the infusion of neroli gives it that sophisticated edge in sensory experience. It is the perfect weight for my skin in that it’s light, fast absorbing yet satiating.

Kahina Eye Serum 

One of the things I don’t skimp on is a good eye serum. I’ve been leaning into serums over creams as serums deliver the actual goods in terms of anti-aging benefits while creams mainly serve a barrier function. I know Kahina Giving Beauty is a line that is serious about the eye area and their eye serum is no joke. It includes peptides, antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and nourishing plant extracts that combat fine lines, puffiness and dark circles. Its texture penetrates quickly and I like to do a mini massage as the serum enhances lymphatic drainage to minimize dark circles and puffiness.

Rahua Voluminous Conditioner

After going organic with my haircare, my strands just felt persistently dry. I tried going back to less clean hair products but would immediately start breaking out along my hairline when using them (not to mention the strong synthetic fragrance). This conditioner is the product that really saved my hair from this predicament. It’s an organic conditioner that deeply nourishes hair, using really incredibly ingredients (green tea is the 2nd ingredient). My hair has a lot more bounce, texture and luster to it now. This isn’t just a “good organic product”, I don’t think any other product has made my hair feel as healthy as this one, it’s a keeper.


Please drop me a comment below if you’ve used any of these products or have questions, suggestions!

My Current Routine: Winter 2018

There’s something about the winter season that inspires what I deem “hibernative self-care”, which I loosely define as cozy evenings/weekends of take-out, and skin pampering while a Netflix marathon plays. To me, there is no better time to explore products; playing with their textures and exploring their intricacies in layering and mixing them with other potions.

As we all know, I’m unable to keep to a pared down routine. I didn’t think it made sense to talk about a single cleanser, or lone face oil that I’m using because by the time you read this, I’m already experimenting with another product. So I’m going about this more through the steps and processes in my routine to achieve plumped, radiant, well moisturized winter skin and the products I’ve been use regularly.


Cleanse

Cleansing is so important regardless of your skin type. I’m actually very turned off when I see a skincare brand founder say that they don’t cleanse their skin for whatever reason. There are impurities expelled through basically every orifice of our body including the pores of the sponge-like epidermis. Pollutants, smoke, oxidized residue from stale sebum and protein deposits, proliferation of microscopic mites and parasites, accumulation of dead skin cells, etc. are all reasons why every skin type should take cleansing seriously.  

During the winter, I like to rotate in the creamy cleansers. For a deep skin pampering session, I use Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser, a very luxurious creamy cleanser that I massage for a good 5 minutes and remove with muslin. This has a familiar cold cream-esque texture and an uplifting, fresh scent that feels very spa-like.

If I’m looking for a quicker or less involved cleanse, the cream cleansers I go between are In Fiore’s Treate Gentle Cleansing Emulsion and Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser. For make-up removal and deep cleansing, I apply around 4-5 quick pumps and massage onto dry skin. This allows the cream to create a nice emollient texture so you’re never pulling or tugging at skin. As a daily cleansing step, I massage 2-3 pumps on wet skin and re-wet if it dries during massage. These creams both rinse off cleanly with water. While I love both cleansers and would repurchase them both, I really think everyone should try the Kahina Cleanser as it has really been an under-the-radar product which is a shame because it has one of my favorite cream textures, has an ever-so-subtle luxurious scent, and is a great price for the quantity. There really aren’t any negatives and I highly recommend it.


Tone/Mist

It may seem like I’m on a Kahina kick, but I first used the Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve wanted to revisit it, despite the fact that there are already so many beautiful organic mists out there. What I really vibe with from Kahina is their gentle, sophisticated nature. This mist uses soothing and hydrating aloe vera leaf juice, rose water, and anti-inflammatory argan and white tea leaf extract. It’s lightly scented with Moroccan desert rose (very similar to MŪN Anarose Toner) which makes this hydrating mist impeccably luscious.



Serum

Serums are the power players of any routine. My MVP serum since it’s release in late 2017 has been YÜLI’s Ambrosia Beauty Nectar, a highly impressive hydration/anti-aging serum that is the topic of 80% of the e-mails I receive. On that note: I hear you, I’ll post an in-depth review for Ambrosia Beauty Nectar. I have to admit that receiving all the requests just makes it harder for me to start putting together a review as I feel like the expectations are at a point where anything short of writing a book will not be enough.

Ambrosia Beauty Nectar is a beast, it blows hyaluronic acid serums out of the water, it raises the bar for how anti-aging serums can work, and I’ve even seen others say it has the benefits of all of the immensely popular Kristina Honey+Marie Veronique serums combined.

The oil-free texture is engineered to be identical to skin’s natural moisture reservoir, a layer of cushion that depletes with time. It’s active but unlike active serums with ingredients like Vitamin C, Retinols or Acids, it works WITH skin rather than trying to overturn it, so there is a lot of support for things like restoring the barrier, strengthening cell immunity, rather than creating irritation or inflammation. Though YÜLI is smart enough to know their customers are probably also using actives like Vitamin C (a notoriously difficult active that can have side-effects when in contact with the wrong preservatives, pH, etc.), so the formula is one of the rare ones that not only plays well with others but also boosts functionality, making it wonderful as the essential serum that can be the base of any cocktail.

Depending on how I feel, I either pump enough Ambrosia to create a thin layer before mist or mist and then apply a cocktail of Ambrosia + Face Oil. Ambrosia does for hydration, what face oils do for nourishment, so you want to use both. This is why one of the most common complaints I hear from readers who use primarily oils and balms, is this feeling of chronic depletion that is often mistaken for dryness but is really due to incorrectly relying on oil-based products to target hydration and reverse trans-epidermal water loss. If you are using a face oil by itself or only with a mist, Ambrosia is not only going to quench that underlying thirst for moisture but it’s also going to really elevate the way the entire system of products comes together.

When I want to go heavy hitting, my face oil of choice to pair with Ambrosia is YÜLI Liquid Courage Antioxidant Serum. Spirit Demerson refers to this more as a serum in oil form rather than a face oil because it’s not a straight blend of oils, there is pure Vitamin C (for glowing skin), Ferulic Acid, biofermented plant extracts that make it kind of a super-oil. I like to mix it or layer it after Ambrosia because they both contain concentrated, potent antioxidant complexes. Liquid Courage contains an antioxidant seed complex derived from the most nutrient dense seeds of superfoods while Ambrosia contains pharmaceutical grade antioxidants like Astaxanthin, so their concoction delivers the richest antioxidant cocktail. These two products combined are skincare nirvana and delivers such a radiant glow.

If I’m going more minimalist, I pair Ambrosia with African Botanics Neroli Infused Marula Oil which is a very pure Marula oil topped with Neroli for a very crisp, refreshing fragrance. African Botanics has the best Marula oil that is organic and comes from protected South African reserves. It’s so beautiful to just massage and lightly press into my skin. It’s really lightweight and sinks in quickly while feeding skin with all the necessary omega-rich goodness that comes with marula oil. Just very simple, high quality and beautiful.


Moisturizer

I’ve been all about textures lately and the African Botanics Cloudburst Micro-emulsion Balancing Moisturizer is this ingenious creation that is light as a serum but tops up perfectly after applying face oil. My skin is never left dry or thirsty. Thicker creams can clog pores, or dull the complexion, this one is quite different. The ingredients include marine algae, copper and plant peptides, and skin loving minerals like magnesium and zinc. The green gel is also immediately cooling and calming, thanks to wonderful anti-inflammatories like green rooibos tea, resurrection plant, and chamomile. It really is a serum level product, but intelligently utilizes molecular science to act as a moisturizer.

If I want something heavier or just crave that rich “slather on” feeling, I reach for the MV Skincare Rose Soothing & Protection Face Moisturizer, which is full bodied and indulgent without making skin feel suffocated. There are times where I get a little lazy and skip face oil, and this is that rescue product that really works well even by itself. When used alone, my skin is soft and comfortable. When layered after serums, my skin is glowing and has that extra oomph.

For daytime, I finish with Suntegrity Natural Face Sunscreen & Primer SPF 30. It’s a great, green sunscreen that uses only Zinc Oxide as it’s active sunblock. I like the texture compared to other physical sunblocks in that it’s easier to apply without leaving white streaks over my skin. I actually use this almost like a highlighter to take advantage of the white Zinc Oxide cast.  One tip is that the initial white cast does fade within 2 minutes, so don’t let that scare you. In fact, it wears incredibly well to the point that it “blurs” imperfections.


That’ll do it! Please leave a comment if you want to share your experiences with any of these products, your winter skincare tips or have any questions!

Best of Green Beauty Box 2017 – The Detox Market: REVIEW

The Detox Market is one of the leading purveyors of organic, clean beauty and every year they’ve been introducing a limited edition year-end box that features only their customer favorites. The 2017 Best of Green Beauty Box features 9 of their top-selling, customer favorites: 6 full sizes and 3 travel sizes. This is one of my favorite assortment of products that have a collective retail value over $310 – when you purchase these in The Best of Green Beauty Box, it is only $149 which is basically 50% off (and The Detox Market gives you free shipping). Here’s a breakdown of exactly what you get:

  • Odacité Green Ceremony Cleanser (Full Size | $55 value): The new Odacité cleanser was the first product I used from the box. It’s a powder to foam matcha cleanser that calms my skin while removing all impurities. The foam comes from an ingredient called baby foam derived from coconuts and is a very gentle cleansing agent. The instructions say to use a full dropper (that comes with the cleanser) but I only need half a dropper full of powder and it’s more than enough for my face. I like to leave the cleanser on and feel my skin soaking in this beautiful green tea matcha which is really anti-inflammatory. The cleanser washes off clean with water and also comes with a cool muslin cloth if that’s your preference. Super fun, lovely concept and totally enjoyable product.
  • Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator (Travel Size | $22 value): What more needs to be said about this mist that virtually everyone loves from UK beauty girls including Caroline Hirons to other brand founders who swear by this including May Lindstrom and Rose-Marie Swift? I love the Ylang Ylang -Marshmallow scent, the gentle lightness of the mist and the wonderful herbal ingredients.
  • MV Skincare Rose Soothing and Protective Moisturizer (Full Size | $135 value): The fact that a $100+ moisturizer is currently out of stock should tell you how good it is. I love luxe beauty but very rarely spend that much on moisturizer, yet this Australian brand totally nailed it. The smell is just gorgeous thanks to Bulgarian Rose Otto. It’s excellent for sensitive skin and for skin that becomes sensitive due to dryness as the moisturizer soothes and protects. What makes this more than marketing is that the founder is actually a licensed holistic skin therapist. The texture is on the heavier side that feels comforting especially during winter yet it is never greasy. As the $149 Box features the full size of this $135 moisturizer, I really consider it a steal.
  • The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost (Travel Size | $16 value): The Beauty Chef makes my favorite ingestible products. They always feature very vibrant, nutrient dense plant based superfoods that taste great. The promotion of collagen helps increase skin firmness and elasticity that is lost with age and this booster features probiotics, maqui berries, acai berries, blueberries, papaya, and antioxidant rich grape-seed extract for beauty from the inside out. I consider this the bonus “treat-yo-self” product to an already jam packed Beauty Box of goodness.
  • RMS Beauty Vintage Cake Liner (Full Size | $24 value): Let me be honest, I’m not the buyer for this product. I’m not a huge make-up girl and for me, it’s all about skin care. But that’s the beauty of these boxes, letting you try something you’d ordinarily not buy. RMS Beauty is one of the top organic make-up lines out there and I was really happy this was included. I use this as eye shadow and as my sister says in her Amy Schumer voice, “it’s amazing for the smokey eye”. The pigment is unreal considering it’s an organic product and I’m absolutely delighted to have this for evenings when I have an event to attend.
  • LILY LOLO Natural Vegan Mascara (Full Size | $20 value): The first natural mascara I tried was the original Ilia Mascara and it left me unsatisfied, so I went back to my tried and true Dior. Upon trying Lily Lolo’s natural AND vegan mascara, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it really enhanced my lashes. It’s wearability is similar to the mainstream high-end brands, and I did not run into any problems with smudging or flaking. At the same time, it came off easily with a gentle cleanser unlike traditional mascaras that are notoriously tough to remove. Total winner, super grateful it was included in the box.
  • Soapwalla Sensitive Skin Cream Deodorant (Full Size | $16 value): Soapwalla is kind of OG status in the world of green deodorants so I really looked forward to trying their baking-soda free formula on an original. I’m one of the many who cannot tolerate baking-soda deodorants which has kept me away from natural deodorants. After a week of use including holiday travels (and all the stress and anxiety that produces), I can say that this deodorant works. The ingredients absorb excess sweat and whisk away moisture, while the lovely essential oils keep you feeling fresh. The cream jar formula makes reapplication a bit weird but is nothing that a private bathroom stall can’t fix.
  • Rahua Shampoo + Conditioner (Travel Set | $16.70 value): I reviewed the Rahua Shampoo a while back (check it out here). I loved everything about it except I found it a little drying, which makes this set with the conditioner perfect.  The Rahua Conditioner really enhances the entire experience and gives hair luster. My strands feel so much stronger and healthier. The set is a really good intro for those who are new to organic haircare, and are a really chic option to pack for travels.
  • Davids Natural Toothpaste (Full Size | $7.95): I did not even know that luxury, organic toothpaste existed. This is a marvel. A dental product that is cleaner than brands like Tom’s with a packaging that looks even more premium (in my opinion) than Marvis. Not only are the ingredients clean, they’re organic and sourced from the US. It is fluoride-free, and also does not contain the nasties that can cause dermatitis around the mouth. The toothpaste leaves my mouth feeling really clean and fresh far longer than other natural toothpastes I’ve used. I feel that it has also helped with my enamel as traditional toothpastes are too corrosive. A very luxe bonus is the inclusion of a roller to squeeze every last bit of toothpaste out of the mint-green tube. This was quite a welcomed discovery to me.

The Best of Green Beauty 2017 Box is so well put together with really exceptional products that cover every category from skin, makeup, hair, deodorant to oral hygiene and ingestibles. I know only a limited number of these boxes are made every year so I highly recommend ordering one if any of these products draw your interest as the pricing is truly exceptional.

As the value is already offered at around 50% off, there are no discount codes. But if you’d like to purchase any individual products (linked above), you can use the code TREAT for the next 48 hours to take 10% off your order.

SHOP: The Detox Market

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.

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