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.

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The Alternative: Eve Lom Cleanser feat Omorovicza & Ren

Cleansing balms are renowned for their ability to gently remove all makeup, especially waterproof makeup while imparting moisture to skin. Cleansing balms are also good for all skin types as the oils decongest pores, and hydrate skin.

Eve Lom’s signature namesake Cleanser ($80) is a staple in most beauty editors’ regimen. It is often regarded as one of the first high-end bi-phase cleansers and Intothegloss calls the process “an experience”. The Cleanser is actually a cleansing balm with chamomile, clove, and eucalyptus oil and cocoa butter. Like all cleansing balms, it is applied to dry skin after being heated through rubbing your hands together with the balm to turn it into a loose oil. 

Its cult following sings the praises of how skin just glows and feels soft after the first use. However green beauty fans shy away due to it’s less than stellar formula which includes: a base of mineral oil, PEGs, Phenoxyethanol, Parabens, and Aluminum.

Thankfully there are now cleaner options for cleansing balms.

Omorovicza’s Thermal Cleansing Balm ($102) is quickly winning over beauty editors and clean fans alike. The dark hue is created by Hungarian Moor Mud and the base of the balm uses Apricot Seed Oil and Jojoba Oil instead of pore-clogging mineral oil, and is free from parabens and PEGs. Although significantly cleaner, this formula does contain iffy ingredients including Phenoxyethanol. 

The balm breaks up quite easily and rapidly once heated in hands and quickly goes to work in much the same way as the Eve Lom Cleanser. However the cleaner ingredients leave skin feeling fresher and glowing for longer. Definitely upgrade!

For beauty on a more limited budget, try Ren’s No.1 Purity Cleansing Balm ($48) which is actually a tri-phase balm as it forms a milky emulsion once in contact with water (no need for muslin cloth like the first two). It uses similarly luxurious ingredients as the other two products on this list at a fraction of the price: the luxurious rose scent and chamomile sooth skin while Sweet Almond Oil and Shea butter pull out pore cloggers and moisturize skin. 

As a bonus, you do not need a muslin cloth to remove extra product because the formula is designed to rinse off clearly. For some this is a convenience however, I must admit part of me is not at ease with the feeling that I am letting my skin absorb emulsifiers all day by leaving a bit sitting on my face with the oils. 

Sunday Pampering Routine

Sunday is usually the day I spend longest on my skin. I like to think of it as the opportunity to rest and repair from the previous week, and then get my skin ready for the coming week. 


The first step is I usually do a gently moisturizing but deeply cleansing routine. To do the trick, I prefer using a balm. My current favorite is the Skin Savior Multi Balm from One Love Organics ($68) which is a waterless balm that cleanses, moisturizes, and conditions the skin. I love it because the plant oils and butters really get the extra oils and grime that accumulates throughout the week so when I rinse off with a muslin cloth, my face feels really soft and light. The formula is really rich and dry skin will love this especially during the winter while those with oily skin will appreciate the pore-clearing effects of the plant oils (like attracts like in this case). With skin clear and ready for more pampering my next step..

I use the Metamorphic Elixir from YULI ($50) which delivers the extra pampering and conditioning my skin is looking for between the skin-plumping moisture binding hyaluronic acid, soothing anti-aging Eternal Rose complex that infuses 3 different kinds of rose extractions, and the rich natural antioxidant retinols that repair and renew skin. This just feels comforting as skin becomes soft and plump while it is primed for treatment from a powerful mask..

If I’m in the mood for some exfoliation, I turn to Tammy Fender’s Epi-Peel ($80), which is a balancing, invigorating scrub/peel that will clear all of your pores and get rid of dead skin and debris that have accumulated on your face. What is really amazing is that there is no stinging or redness but my skin felt clarified and looked glowing when I washed off the mask. I wouldn’t ever go back to abrasive chemical peels after this. If I’m more in the mood for a pore refining antioxidant kick though, I turn to:

Kahina’s Antioxidant Mask ($62), which I have reviewed here. The clay mask boasts a healthy dose of antioxidants from the vitamin e rich Argan Oil and a lot of other high-quality botanicals such as Pomegranate, Rosemary, and Acai. It is a soft, gentle mask that actively clears out the pores and draws out cloggers which leaves my skin with a minty, clean feeling but never stripped. 

I give the mask about 20-30 minutes to do their thing, after which, I gently rinse with warm water. Then I reapply the Elixir to ready my skin for the onslaught of nutrients to my now fresh, clean, blank slate:

Then I slather on the antioxidant cocktail known as Liquid Courage from YULI ($125) which gives me a potent dose of antioxidants between the powerhouse of odorless bioferment of black garlic, acai derived Ferulic acid, peptides, and an antioxidant seed complex. There is something about this liquid that manages to just fix everything wrong with skin, if I put it on at night before bed, my skin always seems tighter and brighter in the morning like the lighting is just hitting your face perfectly the next day, it is like photoshop in a bottle, thats how good the repairitive effects of the product are. So once I quench my tired skin with this baby, I diligently apply..

Kahina Eye Serum ($78) – one of my favorite eye products that I’ve rediscovered. It’s lighter than the eye cream and perfect for those of us who are more concerned with preventing the signs of aging. I find that tired eyes that tend to have dark circles, some puffiness, and overall fatigue are healed. Unlike some eye products that can make the eye area tight and taut or dried out to remove puffiness, this hydrates my under eye area and makes it feel really rejuvenated. 

After I’m done applying the eye serum, the Liquid Courage would already sink into my hungry skin. So now that I have put in all the good nutrients and skin food for my skin, I focus on hydration

For the last step of my weekly pampering routine, I massage my skin with some Antioxidant Creme $95 which is the epitome of a solid moisturizer, described as a “multi-vitamin in a jar”. Oily skin types will love the quick sinking, light-weight of the moisturizer while dehydrated skin will appreciate the truly moisturizing benefits of this product that seemed to make my skin supple and build up the moisture barrier. Your skin won’t have an oily shine nor dry patches, it’ll just look primed and ready for the week.