My 2016 Beauty Favorites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What I’ve Been Using: Nov/Dec

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

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

So here is what I’m loving:

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African Botanics Fleurs D’Afrique

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

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Lina Hanson Global Treasures Balm

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

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Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

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

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Yarok Feed Your Volume Shampoo

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

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Yuli Metamorphic Elixir

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

Kari Gran Review: 3 Step System

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

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

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So here’s a quick rundown:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

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

The Review: de Mamiel Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate

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If you’ve been exploring the world of green beauty, you’ll know that brands are a dime a dozen with a new one seemingly cropping up each day. Yet there are the lines that have transcended the noise and de Mamiel is one of them. Admittedly, not as covered Stateside, this British brand is what I consider to be tops in gentle luxuries. Their cleansing balm remains one of my favorite products thanks to a beautiful buttery texture and seriously mood lifting aromas. In fact, I’d say this is the line where each product smells divine in the way that manages to be euphoric, captivating and totally relaxing simultaneously.

Now some real talk: I’d never been a huge proponent of powder cleansers until I experienced Tatcha. My early experience with May’s Clean Dirt left much to be desired and other green powder cleansers I had used simply made me feel as though I was using an incomplete or flawed product. But then BeautyHabit had a sale & I couldn’t quite shake the temptation of a pink powder cleanser with actual rose quartz, so I happily purchased de Mamiel’s Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate.

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So how do I put this…. this is everything a powder exfoliating cleanser should be and perhaps what I consider the gold standard for this type of cleanser. Not surprising considering de Mamiel also makes one of the best cleansing balms around. What I really love about de Mamiel is the thoughtfulness that goes into each product. With de Mamiel, the quality is to be experienced even if it’s not as talked about. Case in point, Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate is a lovely shade of pink with an other-worldly aroma that harkens to pure happiness. It almost reminds me of those cute scented erasers that we all seemed to collect in elementary school, if anyone can recollect.

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Now the performance: yes this is an exfoliator or a “polish” product so there is a physical texture that will grind around the skin surface.I tend to use this type of product on lazy mornings before slathering on a very rich, nutritious mask. My personal experience is that it is a lot more gentle and tame compared to May Lindstrom Clean Dirt so if you used that and want something similar but easier on the skin, this is a good option. As far as effectiveness goes, this does get the job done and with my once a week use (twice during summer), I’ve found it to be great for keeping my pores clear despite all the heaviness summertime can bring.

There are two ways that deMamiel’s polish can be used: alone or mixed with a cleanser. When used alone, it’s a pure exfoliating scrub, combine with a cleanser (I like the Kahina Facial Cleanser for a cream base and the Yuli Halcyon Cleanser for a gel base) and it’s a stimulating, exfoliating, deep cleanse – think of it as a suped up version of Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser (the one with the ground Apricot scrub).

The Ingredients

Moroccan rhassoul clay, Montmorillonite clay, French Pink clay, Colloidal oat powder*, Sodium bicarbonate, Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) powder, Pearl powder, Red jasper gem powder, Raw cacao powder*, Alaea Hawaiian sea salt,  Buttermilk powder, Honey powder, Cucumis sativa (cucumber) powder, Santalum album (sandalwood mysore) powder, Aloe barbadensis (aloe) powder*, Camellia sinensis (green tea) powder, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) powder Chrysantheum  indicium (chrysanththeum) powder, Rosa damasena (rose) petal powder*, Boswellia carteri (frankincense) powder, Commiphora myrrha (myrrh) powder, Cedrus deodara (himalayan cedarwood) powder, Panax ginseng (ginseng),  Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root powder*, Rose rubiginosa (rosehips) powder, Vanilla planifolia bean*.
*Organic

deMamiel describes the composition of the Brightening Cleanse & Exfoliate as follows:  healing clays, plant and gem extracts to smooth and polish skin to reveal its natural radiance and glow. A few notes: one of the reasons this works for me is the lack of spices, instead we have calming ingredients like oat powder, cucumber powder, green tea powder, and aloe powder. The ‘enlivening’ ingredient comes from ginseng which promotes circulation in place of the spices which is wonderful as it also contains lots of antioxidants. One of my favorite new ingredients, pearl powder is also in this which promotes a luster effect when applied onto skin (and is also in Lina Hanson’s new balm).

Baking soda is in this formula which I don’t love (see May Lindstrom Problem Solver review for more background on this ingredient). Now while I know that Vitamin C is supposed to mitigate the alkaline pH issue, I’ve seen beauty bloggers confirm that the pH of the Problem Solver (which also contains Vitamin C) was around a 8 pH which is definitely too far off from the ideal 5.5 pH that our skin should be at. What this means is that I always go over my skin with a acid-toner afterward just to get everything back in balance.

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Overall I find this to be a very high quality product from a line that I’ve come to love for their ability to make natural botanicals work together like a symphony. In the US, deMamiel can be purchased at the following locations:

Beauty Habit
CAP Beauty
Net A Porter 
Integrity Botanicals

The Sunday Trio

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Although everyone worries about their skin during the winter, I’ve always found summer to be more challenging. With the hot weather and scorching sun you have to not only figure out how to keep or increase moisture in your skin, but you have to account for increased sweatiness, oiliness, and increased usage of sunscreen. This leads me to sharing my Sunday trio, 3 steps that work as my weekly “restart” button to get my skin back into shape for the week ahead.

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YÜLI Pure Mask

This is one of the best powder to cream masks I’ve experienced. As is to be expected with YÜLI, there is a level of thoughtfulness and sophistication here that is quite special. The airy texture of the powder is super-fine that once activated with water turns into a silky cream that applies effortlessly onto skin. The reason this works so well for summer is because the ingredients have a cooling and soothing effect thanks to traditional Asian botanicals like mung bean, green tea and goji berries. When my skin is red, overheated, congested, or feeling gross in general from the effects of summer, this is like a cool smoothie for my skin – filter out the bad stuff, chock full of the good stuff.

Tatcha Overnight Memory Serum Concentrate

I am absolutely obsessed with this product. Like all Tatcha products, the presentation is beautiful but more so – the memory serum concentrate has such a unique formula where the texture is like a cross between a soft Japanese tofu and JELLO. Even when I scoop over some of the concentrate, the formula refills the areas I just scooped – how cool is that?!

So moving beyond that, the reason I love this is because it is essentially the ultra-concentrated form of Tatcha’s Luminous Dewy Skin Mist that is universally loved (it was even recently featured on Kylie Jenner’s snapchat). So this is THE product for getting hydration into skin and to accelerate recovery from a day out – making it the perfect pairing to the Pure Mask.

Aurelia Cell Revitalize Day Moisturizer

This is a dreamy, rich day cream that helps with dryness and dehydration, and it is the final step to seal in all of the good stuff from the first two steps. While the thickness may deter some, I love the way the creaminess just melts away into skin leaving it feeling only nourished without heaviness. This is definitely a very high quality product that is very rich with organic oils, aloe, and probiotics which keep skin surface healthy. Simply a pleasure to use.

The Review: May Lindstrom The Problem Solver

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Do you have Instagram? If you do and you follow green beauty pros then you’ll know what I mean when I say there doesn’t seem to be a single person who has not heard of or tried May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver. It’s almost an unspoken requirement that to be inducted into the green beauty club, one has a signature Problem Solver #maskselfie.

May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver is one of her core products that helped start it all. It’s a correcting mask made of powdered clays, salts, warming spices, charcoal, and “soil nutrients”. May calls this her “hero. over-achiever. superstar” and describes it as follows:

The jet-black fusion of antioxidant-rich raw cacao, healing bamboo charcoal, soil nutrients, salts and exotic warming spices goes deep, on a mission to reveal your most radiant self. This intense treatment masque effectively purifies and tightens pores, extinguishes inflammations, fights and heals blemishes, jump-starts circulation in the epidermis and detoxifies skin with delightful ease and power. The radically different powder-to-mousse formula activates on contact with water, only releasing its magic at the exact moment of use so you experience full potency every time.

I had read about how this mask provides for quite an intense, heated experience and I will never forget the first time that I used this mask. When I opened the jar, it felt grand. The hefty, weighty jar seemed like it could go on forever. The powder looked a little like ash or soot and smelled like cacao, spices and clay. I diligently followed the instructions and rejoiced in turning the mask into a jet black fusion. Immediately upon application I felt an initial sting that quickly grew into a burning sensation and my face became frozen in a state of grimace.

5 minutes in, I was sweating. My breathing grew heavy and every second tested my resolve to stick it through. But I was so afraid of seeing lobster-red irritated skin if I washed it off prematurely as I believed that this must be the reason we’re instructed to leave the mask on for 45 minutes. As the mask began to dry, my pain gradually subsided. I thought I was out of the woods. And it was then a single god forsaken drop of sweat dripped into my eyes and I discovered pain on a whole new level. I was now crying while wincing and grimacing simultaneously. 45 minutes could not come soon enough and when it did, I washed with tepid, low flowing water which was all my battered skin could take. The rinse off actually provides exfoliation which is good in theory but horrible when your skin just got destroyed. It took me about 5 minutes to wash my face as I needed to be gentle and also because this mask rinses pretty dirty. I was pleasantly astonished to see that my face wasn’t lobster red after the blistering burn I experienced. However it felt traumatized and I looked like I had just emerged from an all night bender. My pores were blackened which required toner on several cotton rounds to clean. My skin looked sullen, dull, and lifeless.
May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

If I’m being fully honest, this is the first beauty product I’ve purchased that I’ve seriously thought about returning. Given that this mask costs $90, I was determined to make it useful in some way: trying it on friends, boyfriend, family – no one really took to it. Then I read through online advice provided by May: apply this mask pre-cleansing/showering, or add some honey. But these are all just ways to keep as many things between the mask and your skin as possible, in other words creating barriers from your skin and the mask while still convincing you to use it.

Now let’s figure out why I had this experience. This is the full ingredients list for The Problem Solver:

Fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, raw cacao, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid,sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, organic vanilla, organic lavender, organic marshmallow root, wild harvested frankincense, organic gotu kola, organic angelica root, organic cinnamon,organic nutmeg, organic clove, organic turmeric, organic cayenne

Baking soda, raw cacao, cinnamon, clove, cayenne pepper. The aforementioned are not my Whole Foods shopping list for my next baking project, they’re what you’re marinating your skin in when you apply The Problem Solver. Cacao is a very popular product that’s antioxidant rich, however it’s kind of like wine – there are great properties but nothing exceptional but people laud it because it’s pleasurable. Baking Soda is something I use to scrub and clean my bathroom, it is also very alkaline which really messes up your skin’s pH and functionality so it is not something that is going to do your skin any favors long term. These are among the first 6 ingredients in the mask.

Then we have the spices, or what Tata Harper and countless other skin experts call sources of irritation and inflammation. Despite being culprits for the intense burning, their skin benefits are arguable yet what is absolutely for certain is that these spices cause inflammation. There was a short lived sitcom starring Michael J. Fox on NBC when I first got this mask where his TV character’s family makes a effort to connect with his zanny sister-in-law who always flocks to the next trendy thing. She makes them all mask together and they all going with it to accept her, and then they get burned and run to wash their skin as she says “there is cayenne pepper! They said it’s dujour!” and that summarizes the nonsensical nature of this mask.

To be fair, I understand everyone’s skin will respond differently. And you might love this mask and have no idea what I’m talking about when I share my experience. The reason I call out these ingredients is because I think they’re objectively bad for anyone’s skin.

And that spells the genius of the May Lindstrom hype machine which has convinced legions of beauty junkies and hopeful customers to not only apply these ingredients that go against one’s intuition but to idolize this time as the most delicate form of sensual self-care. As an industry, beauty is swayed more by a pretty story, visuals or ideas than actual scientific data which is irresponsible because the products we use should be more thoughtfully considered.

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Via May Lindstrom Facebook Page

Case in point: it wasn’t until May introduced a mask that used cayenne pepper that now multiple green brands also happen to have masks that use cayenne pepper despite this being highly irritating and inflammatory. It wasn’t until May educated us on the benefits of honey for skin in her Honey Mud that multiple green brands now have honey based products, despite it being essentially unviable when any other ingredient touches it. It wasn’t until May made us eye-gasm over the Blue Cocoon’s hue that other companies jumped onto the bandwagon with blue tansy oil despite the fact that with exception to its striking color, I would not use it daily or long term as it is listed as an ingredient to avoid for pregnant women and also those with endocrine or hormonal imbalances, which feels like nearly all the commenters on No More Dirty Looks, and I’ve seen multiple comments online from those who use this saying they can’t use it regularly as it leads to clogged pores and breakouts.

So many blogs will write about the importance of vetting brands while hyping up the very lines they should be questioning. Based on what I’ve researched, I cannot find sufficient evidence that shows whether May herself has any educational background in skincare or dermatology – and if I’m being honest, her title as skin chef doesn’t inspire too much confidence (again beautiful imagery, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN). Green Beauty is rife with passion, but passion and good intentions don’t translate into safe nor beneficial formulas. Given my history with her products, I question how these products are supposed to actually be good for skin (see review on Honey Mud).

Due to my very intense experience that created a very real, physically adverse reaction – I did more research on The Problem Solver in particular to see whether I was the only one. To my surprise, upon closer reading I found a handful of reviews where the bloggers acknowledge the burning but also that upon contacting May, a new jar was sent as a replacement that was free of said irritating ingredients, leading to a glowing review. This isn’t really a question on the validity of the green beauty hype machine, but rather at what point the review becomes entirely inconsequential as the product reviewed is essentially a custom-made product that is going to be different from the one that readers are being convinced to purchase? I know May is kind and gracious, but I think it is misleading to assume that your Problem Solver, will match an influential blogger’s custom made version.

May Lindstrom Beauty Idealist

This might come off preachy and judgy but I assure you it isn’t my goal – because I’m just as guilty of slathering on the said bathroom grade solvent+spices on my skin when they’re gorgeously packaged in dense black glass and gold lettering. My hope is to have this serve as a wake-up call to truly and actually reclaim your independence and trust your intuition. It’s an exercise in being active about what you put on your face rather than passively streaming in the messages you are bombarded with when you go onto social media from retailers, bloggers, brands and beauty sites. I know that May did the level of work and research that satisfied her and her retailers/customers, but I also know that the way she makes products and her choices of ingredients (& those other lines that mimic her) are just not aligned with my ideals.

If I were to summarize the line it would be this: I think May’s objective and success is that she formulates for that sensory experience. Creating products with aromatic richness or vibrant hues that are instantly photo-friendly and incredibly easy for editors to feature as they’re more concerned with marketable copies while only requiring a superficial understanding of the actual skincare. The priority then isn’t necessarily focused on ingredients that are especially great for the skin which opposes what I believe the goal should be for skincare products. This doesn’t mean in my book she can’t do anything right, it just means I’ll have to be diligent in examining future products in a vacuum away from the hype machine.

So tell me: have you had a similar experience to share or am I being too harsh? 

The REVIEW: Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

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There is nothing I love more than a new brand discovery and to have it be a green brand is an added and welcomed bonus. To me, Kypris was a brand that seemed to come out of nowhere. I had seen it around on social media and a few blogs but never really paid much attention as the flowery artwork aesthetically made me initially write it off. Then more and more press followed, and I knew I had to try the line for myself.

Moonlight Catalyst is what I consider to be the star product of the Kypris line. It’s marketed as an “herbal alternative to retinoid preparations”which sounds very enticing.

Here is the description of Moonlight Catalyst straight from Kypris:

Moonlight Catalyst gently revitalizes skin while you slumber. This herbal alternative to retinoid formulas employs a cocktail of renewing fermented pumpkin enzymes, biomimetic EGF, and hydrating botanical extracts to refine and renew your complexion without irritation or peeling.

Benefits: An herbal alternative to retinoid preparations * Enhances cellular renewal * Refines texture * Helps keep pores clear * Evens skin tone * Diminishes evidence of previous blemishes * Free from essential oils to accommodate reactive skin * Calms, soothes, and plumps to a radiant, creamy, glow

Before we delve further, I will clarify that for the purpose of being useful – this review will mainly cover the current formula with some insight of my experience with the initial formula for comparative purposes.

The first bottle of Moonlight Catalyst I purchased was the initial formula, back when Kypris listed ‘love‘ as the first ingredient:

Love, water/aqua, algae extract, glycerin, Lactobacillus/Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) fruit ferment extract, Vigna aconitifolia seed extract, sodium citrate, Salix nigra (willowbark) wood extract, Prunus persica (peach) extract, hydrolyzed fucus vesiculosus protein, yeast extract, leuconostoc (radish) root ferment filtrate, Prunus salicina (plum) extract, xylitylglucoside, anhydroxylitol, xylitol, Saccharomyces lysate extract, Rhodiola rosea (roseroot) extract, Rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, Hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn) fruit extract, sclerotium gum, p-anisic acid

IMG_5435The serum was a cloudy subtly peachy hued fluid gel with an unmistakable fruity peach scent. Although the description said this was a gentle serum, I noticed dry patches and flaking with the first week of use however as someone who has used prescription strength retinol in the past for acne, I wasn’t put off by this and instead welcomed it as a sign of effectiveness. As I do with any retinol serum, I only used Moonlight Catalyst 2-3 times a week at night as that exfoliation interval works best for my skin.

I found the serum a little bit on the sticky side where it would stick to my pillow covers if I slept on my side which shows that perhaps not all the ingredients were absorbing into my skin but it didn’t stop me from continuing to use it. After the first 2 weeks, my skin stopped having any sort of reaction to Moonlight Catalyst which I took as a sign that it had adjusted however I have seen other bloggers say that the serum loses its effectiveness due to its exposed dropper mechanism.

I also tried to mix it with an oil, creating what the founder Chase, calls a “sophisticated microemulsion”. I found that Moonlight Catalyst went well with most oil serums including Lina Hanson, Vintner’s Daughter, and Yuli. I was provided with samples of all three Kypris Beauty Elixirs (their oils) but unfortunately they are just not a match for me, leaving with me painful cystic acne after the first application. To be fair, I gave each of the oils at LEAST four/five tries and EACH TIME would result in breakouts the next day that took around 2 weeks to fully heal.

Although the microemulsion does feel pretty good and made for quicker completion of my night time routine, I noticed that it resulted in a stickier/tackier texture which indicated even more ingredients were left sitting on my skin rather than being absorbed so I preferred to apply the Moonlight Catalyst first followed by an oil.

I felt that my skin responded really well to this serum and became quite fond of this find as one of the rare green beauty gems that helped to chemically exfoliate skin. I loved Moonlight Catalyst enough to purchase another bottle before my first one ran out. This new bottle arrived with the new formula which is as follows:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Lactobacillus/Pumpkin Fruit Ferment Filtrate, Xylitylglucoside, Sclerotium Gum, Algae, Anhydroxylitol, Xylitol, sh-Oligopeptide-1,  Prunus Persica (Peach) Fruit Extract, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Flower Extract, Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Extract, Prunus Domestica (Plum) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water Extract, Hydrolyzed Fucus Vesiculosus Protein, Sodium Chloride, Trehalose,  Sodium Levulinate, Maltodextrin, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Citrate

The first thing I noticed was that love was removed as the first ingredient so technically there is no love in each bottle anymore *and I felt corny just typing that but it stays* According to the Kypris website the difference is: an added biomimetic epidermal growth factor for skin renewing benefits, a different peach extract that makes the serum more hydrating, and an added neroli flower extract to soothe skin and nerves (??). However I also noticed the order of some ingredients changed around such as algae moving from the 3rd ingredient to the 6th ingredient, along with Vigna Aconitifolia Seed Extract moving down the list as well. Instead Xylitylglucoside and Sclerotium Gum make up the remaining top 5 ingredients which means the majority of this new serum is: Water, Glycerin, fermented Pumpkin filtrate, a moisturizing sugar, and a thickening agent.

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Perhaps this explains why this now clear, thicker gel serum seemed to be like a shadow of itself. It feels like a thicker gel and not a whole lot happens. The founder, Chase did describe this as being more gentle and hydrating but when the first five ingredients include only 1 active compared to 3 in the old formula that is not a big shocker. Gentle doesn’t always mean better especially when it comes to a serum being sold as a retinol alternative which by nature should be ‘powerful’. I am able to use this serum every night without any irritation but also without any of the results I saw from the first formula. I even went overboard a few times and applied two entire dropper fulls onto my skin just TRYING to replicate some sort of retinol effect but did not experience anything that could match the first bottle.

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I think the main problem with the new formula is that what was once a focused product marketed as a natural retinol alternative that resurfaces skin is now victim to trying to accomplish too much that it all conflicts with each other: ingredients are added or moved around with the goal of making this a hydrating serum, a big investment was spent on epidermal growth factor leading to a price increase for an ingredient that doesn’t even work well with resurfacing ingredients, a reduction in the power of said resurfacing ingredients that won it acclaim in the first place. What we are left with are grand intentions that would have been better spent on the creation of separate products, perhaps a hydrating serum and a resurfacing serum, and not both in one as they are by nature quite conflicting ideas which in this case has resulted in a muddled serum that does neither things very well.

Okay – I know many of you have used this serum, what are your thoughts? Leave a note for me in the comments section!