Labor Day Weekend Essentials

When I was a kid, the end of summer was the saddest time of the year for me as it meant going from carefree days filled with travel to going back to school. Now, as a grown-up, I relish in this time of year when I know the weather is going to hit that sweet spot between hot and cold, and New York feels “alive” again. This Labor Day weekend, I’m gleefully bringing the sweaters and coats out from storage while eyeing moisturizers that will soon come back into the rotation (hi, MV Organics Rose Moisturizer!).

In the meantime, here’s what I’m using – split into two categories:

HYDRATION

Tatcha Indigo Soothing Silk Hand Cream: a buttery lotion in a very durable tube that will travel well in your handbag. Somehow this tube holds so much cream that I’ve been using it for months without really making too much of a dent. It could also be that it’s so effective that you don’t need a huge glob. The indigo colored cream melts into hands, leaving a watery sheen that feels so soothing and hydrating. And I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, this is one of the few hand creams out there that isn’t fragranced with synthetic perfume so the beautiful scent is enjoyable, not cloying.

Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator: the spray on this is so fine, it feels like tickling your skin with a feather. Because of this, I often overspray my skin which isn’t bad because there are tons of wonderful organic ingredients. The scent is also really nice, I can’t really describe it other than it’s refreshing, clean, but delicious at the same time? Similar to the Tatcha hand cream, this is really light and durable, which means it is ALWAYS in my handbag. Beyond the convenience factor, this is important because it helps me increase my skin hydration since it’s easier for me to mist throughout the day no matter where I am.

African Botanic’s Cloudburst Micro Emulsion: if you’re looking for a light moisturizer that won’t suffocate your skin but is packing plenty of active nutrients, look no further! What I love about this moisturizer is that it’s essentially a serum masquerading as a moisturizer. The ingredients are a who’s who list of anti-aging, hydration superstars, and as it’s African Botanics, you can trust that they did not leave out any of the good stuff, from hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, to peptides and algae and minerals. Part of the reason why the moisturizer is so powerful but light is due to what’s called a “water in oil” technology that helps the gel-like moisturizer to sink into the skin and then plump and hydrate.

GLOW-GETTERS

Lina Hanson Global Treasures: I love, love, love this balm. Have I tried Blue Cocoon? Yes. Have I tried In Fiore? Yes. But Global Treasures from the ingredients (coffee, matcha, gold leaf, pearl) to the presentation, to the silky melt-on-your skin texture, is just unrivaled to me. I love putting this on as an eye balm, it tightens, firms and nourishes so well. Have persistent dry spots? Press this balm in, it will disappear quickly leaving only a subtle glow behind. If you’re worried about balms being too heavy, I can say that this is probably the lightest that I have used, in fact, I use a separate balm for my lips because the active ingredients make this function more like a super nourishing serum.

YÜLI Liquid Courage Antioxidant Serum: We can’t really have a discussion on glow-getters without talking about this gem. A good face oil can give skin that resplendent glow, but this one takes it to another level with brightening Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid (the combination is known to even undo pigmentation caused by sun damage), and a concentrated antioxidant cocktail that evens skin tone and instills radiance. The composition is really perfect where the oils soak right into the skin and wake up the complexion, due to actives like CoQ10 that really get to work on energizing skin. I like to put this on as an oil, antioxidant serum and primer before sunscreen and makeup because it’s so protective (boosts SPF) and functional, and in the night it’s a full-on anti-aging repair serum that leaves skin looking brighter, and more pristine the next day.

Kjaer Weis Highlighter: If you want that goddess glow, Kjaer Weis’ Highlighter is a must-have. One swipe per cheek delivers that radiant sun-kissed touch. If you want that Bella Hadid contoured glow, just apply the cream highlighter with a brush onto the under-eyes (to immediately vanish any darkness and bags), down the nose (for sculpting), and a dash on the cupid’s bow. It’s so simple to look good with this highlighter because the formula is so universally flattering and blendable. Any notice will look like a pro, because of how versatile this product is. This is that single product that can produce the perfect filter in real life, you know the one that your favorite Instagram influencer has where the sunlight hits at just the right angle and intensity.


Drop me a comment if you have questions about any of these products, or let me know what you’re using as we move from summer to fall! 

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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!

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!

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

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.

The Review: African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask

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When it comes to masks in the green beauty and luxury field, we’ve got it pretty good. There are a lot of options: powders that turn to creams, gels, clays, etc. African Botanics Marula Mineral Cleansing Mask is the latter, a ready-to-go clay mask reminiscent of the tube of Origins Clear Improvement Mask most of us may remember from high school/college days. Think of this as a luxury upgrade to the clay masks from yesteryears, a antioxidant-rich, nourishing clay mask that features pretty green ingredients.

I’ve been interested in the African Botanics line for a while and here’s why: they have pretty clean ingredients, they source many of their ingredients from South Africa (such as the Marula Oil) and they’re relatively under the radar yet have great presence at many of the upscale boutiques such as Space N.K., B-Glowing and CAP Beauty.

Here’s what this mask promises:

Clay-based treatment mask that deeply cleanses and refreshes fatigued skin while providing hydration, vitamins, and energy to your skin.
Replenishes skin with minerals rich in iron, zinc, magnesium and amino acids to boost circulation and stimulate cell renewal. The antioxidant and omega-rich fusion of Marula, Baobab and Africa’s legendary botanicals purify, clear congested pores, brighten, firm and smooth the skin. Enhanced with the latest plant stem cell technology, this mask deeply rejuvenates while addressing facial blemishes, breakouts, discoloration and oxidative stress. Resores a healthy glow without drying or leaving your skin feeling taut.
Skin Concerns:
• Congested
• Stressed skin
• Loss of firmness and youthful density
• Uneven skin tone and texture
• All Skin Types subjected to urban stress and city life

Pretty impressive right?

Here are the full ingredients:

AQUA (WATER), KAOLIN (WHITE CLAY), SCLEROCARYA BIRREA (MARULA) SEED OIL**, ADANSOANIA DIGITATA (BAOBAB) OIL**, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL, GLYCERIN, GLYCERYL STEARATE, SODIUM LEVULINATE, SODIUM ANISATE, CETYL ALCOHOL, MYROTHAMNUS FLABELLIFOLIUS (RESURRECTION PLANT) EXTRACT, ASPARLATHUS LINEARIS (ROOIBOS) EXTRACT, SMITHSONITE EXTRACT, HEMATITE EXTRACT, RHODODENDRON FERRUGINEUM (ALPINE ROSE) LEAF CELL CULTURE EXTRACT, ROSA DAMACENA (ROSE) ESSENTIAL OIL, PELARGONIUM GRAVEOLENS ROSEUM (ROSE GERANIUM) ESSENTIAL OIL, CITRUS CLEMENTINA (CLEMENTINE) PEEL OIL, ISOMALT, LECITHIN, SODIUM BENZOATE, LACTIC ACID, GLYCERYL CAPRYLATE, TOCOPERHOL ACETATE (VITAMIN E), MAGNESIUM ALUMINUM SILICATE, XANTHAN GUM, DISODIUM EDTA, DEHYDROACETIC ACID, BENZYL ALCOHOL, IRON OXIDES, CITRAL*, CITRONELLOL*, EUGENOL*, GERANIOL*, LIMONENE*, LINALOOL, *METHYL EUGENOL*, NERAL* MAY CONTAIN ± [CI 77499] *CONSTITUENTS OF 100% NATURAL ESSENTIAL OILS USED. **CERTIFIED ORGANIC INGREDIENTS. 100% VEGAN. GLUTEN-FREE. FORMULATED WITHOUT MINERAL OIL, TOXIC PRESERVATIVES, COLORANTS, SILICONE, SYNTHETIC FRAGRANCES, SULFATES, TRICLOSAN, PARABENS, PEGS, PPGS, DEA, TEA, UREA OR PHTHALATES.

What I like is that white clay which is purifying and drawing is balanced with rich plant oils from Marula, Baobab, Acocado which all are renowned as superb oils that keep skin plumped. There is also Alpine Rose Leaf cell culture extract which supposedly increases cell longevity, and lactic acid which exfoliates and plumps skin.

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Essentially this mask promises the purifying properties of a clay with the anti-aging properties of what they can ‘essential’ extracts or plant oils that balance out the drawing properties of clay allowing the mask to remain rather soft, applying as a paste and staying consistent throughout.

My Experience

Right off the bat, I loved the little, subtleties from the way the box opened to the mirrored cap on the frosted glass. It reminds me a lot of the Omorovicza Thermal Balm in terms of appearance.

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Once you open the jar, you’ll notice a natural scent of clays mixed with citrus which is a good balancing act. The texture of the clay mask is substantial yet also light enough to easily scoop. I’d compare it to a light, fluffy peanut butter. It also spreads pretty easily and evenly on skin which makes application a breeze. Due to the presence of oils, this mask will also not harden too much during application which is great for keeping moisture in your skin.

I find that if I apply too much around my laugh lines, there is a tingle sensation that can feel a little unpleasant but that’s my own skin sensitivity that tends to happen with a significant number of products. I leave this mask on for the recommended 5-15 minutes (usually going for 15 minutes to get my money’s worth) and wash off as a cleanser which supposedly also helps to exfoliate skin. The wash off is quite simple and the mask removes fairly easily without the need for excess scrubbing.

What I like about this mask is how easy and simple it is to use. No self-mixing (which is great for when you have time and want to fine tune, but sometimes you just want to get a quick mask session in- feelme?? ), soft texture so no tugging at skin for uneven application, and easy to rinse off.

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In terms of results, I felt that this was a very useful and convenient mask. Despite initial tingling which is normal for me, it’s actually very gentle overall especially for a clay based product which makes it good for those with sensitive skin. In full honesty, I’m not sure if this mask did anything to address the anti-aging claims such as increasing firmness or density, though I wouldn’t rely on this mask as the primary source of my anti-aging skincare needs anyway. With that said I did find the clays to be quite resourceful at tackling congestion in a non-irritating manner and thereby also taking care of my skin when stressed (which tends to manifest in excess oil production and slow turnover). Those with more problematic skin might want to apply a hearty layer and leave the mask on for longer than the recommended 15 minute allotment.

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At $75 for 1.7 fl oz, this is pricey especially as it is ready made which tends to run out quicker. This mask can be used 2-3 times per week and while I’ve only stuck to using it once per week, I would imagine increasing usage would make it run out easily within 2 months. The closest mask similar to this would be the Kahina Giving Beauty Antioxidant Mask which is also a ready-made clay mask that retails for $62 for the same amount of product. Because I enjoy these masks for their dual use: clays to draw out and oils to nourish principal, I always keep one stocked for when my skin needs something quick yet gentle.

This mask can be purchased at the following locations:
African Botanics 
CREDO Beauty
Space N.K.

Have you tried anything from this line? Any good clay masks you keep in your top shelf? Leave a note in the comments section!