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!