BeautyCounter: The Future of Green?

BeautyCounter was introduced in 2013 and focused on spearheading the movement for safer cosmetics through legislation and offering greener products. Their philosophy of advocating for legislative change for safer cosmetics while introducing these safe cosmetics were made simple through products that looked beautiful with a price point that was unexpectedly fair – although their prices have systematically increased through the years.

Despite my initial interest, I never pulled the trigger in purchasing any products due in large part to their sales strategy that focused on growing a network of independent consultants which instantly drew comparisons in my mind to pyramid operations such as Amway and Herbalife that leave a bad taste.

Then in late 2016, one of their independent consultants sent me an e-mail to try their products and I thought, why not? Especially as at the time, BeautyCounter was being carried in Target stores which I only later realized was a temporary engagement.

I received sample packs of their Countertime Rejuvenating Collection which includes:
Soothing Face Wash
Radiance Firming Complex
Uplifting Day Cream
Restorative Night Cream
Vibrant Eye Perfector

If you click the links, you’ll see that the names of the products I linked to have all changed, and I actually could not find Soothing Face Wash nor it’s current iteration on their site. I’m not sure why this is, but it is pretty confusing. As I only received small 4ml sample tubes, I also don’t know the ingredients, so if the ingredients or formula has changed as well, my insight on the products may be obsolete.

The first thing I noticed was how all of the 5 products were so similar in texture, consistency, weight, and fragrance. They’re all white-ish creams with a lighter more gel like feel and fragranced ever so subtly with natural essential oils. To the immediate senses, despite the uniformity across what should be 5 different categories, the products all pass the initial impressions test.

Here are my mini run downs of each product:


Soothing Face Wash: a good cleanser very similar to many cream/milk cleansers on the market. It’s good if you’re not wearing a lot of make-up and just want a time saving, simple cleanse, ideally in the morning or when you’re tired in the evening. I like that there is no foaming and the cleanser washes off clean. With that said, I preferred to use this with another cleanser: an oil/balm make-up remover if I wore full make-up during the day as my first cleanse then followed by this, or this as my first cleanser followed by a more in-depth cleanser if I went more bare faced.

I think those with drier skin will especially find this cleanser agreeable, if it even currently exists in the line?

Radiance Firming Complex: This is the serum of the collection. It combines Vitamin C, fruit acids, algae and marine extract to tackle wrinkles, skin tone and improve hydration. Looking at the ingredients list which includes lots of plant oils that provide antioxidants and good amounts of algae (first ingredient), I definitely think that it is a pretty solid all-around serum. I don’t know if it has the high concentration corrective ingredients to really turn over wrinkles and skin tone, but I think for someone in their 20s to 40s, this will be a solid standard serum at a very reasonable $63 for 1 oz. The only caveat is that there are citrus oils so I recommend it for night time use. This would be my top pick of the collection.

Uplifting Day Cream: First thing to note is that the uplifting day cream doesn’t contain any ingredients that make it especially advantageous for day time use other than a lighter weight than the night cream. The good news is that it also doesn’t contain anything that makes it unsuitable for night time use either. I’d recommend picking between the two day/night moisturizers based on your skin type (choose the heavier night cream if you’re dry, or the lighter day cream if you’re oily, and try out both if you can’t decide). I’m not taking any points away for not including things like SPF which I actually prefer as a separate product, but what I will call to attention is that many of the beneficial ingredients are listed after phenoxyethanol, which as a preservative is either too concentrated in here or the beneficial ingredients are not concentrated enough to actually do any “uplifting”. I think that at $73, for a ‘meh’ ingredients list, there are better moisturizer options out there.

Restorative Night Cream: See note on day cream above. The Night Cream is thicker, and contains more emollients such as shea butter and heavier plant oils. For a restorative product, there aren’t actually that many anti-aging ingredients as one might assume given the very promising marketing language. You’re pretty much getting a heavier moisturizer that has good antioxidants, which isn’t bad but in a similar vein to the aforementioned products, probably won’t deliver top performance for the fanciful “lifting/firming/restoring” results that are promised.

A strike against this cream is the jar packaging which I wouldn’t mind (especially as it looks beautiful in the photos), but will accelerate the antioxidant breakdown which is unfortunate since that is the main source of the “restoration”. Again, as a general moisturizer, I’m not sure that I’d spend $75 on it but if you can score one of the day/night creams for around $40-$50, it might be worth it to try as long as your expectations of performance are aligned because they are good, solid moisturizers, just don’t count of them for too much anti-aging performance.

Vibrant Eye Perfector: This is a great eye cream that feels very emollient and disperses quite beautifully. Similar to the night cream, the jar packaging is problematic which may explain why the phenoxyethanol preservative is listed so uncomfortably high in the ingredients list again *sigh*. I probably sound like a broken record but the truth is that the limitations of the products are all very similar since the products themselves as I explained at the beginning are so similar to one another. I still enjoy using this eye cream but I know that there are better options out there both in terms of efficacy and formula.

For some of you, the fact that Beautycounter advocates for safe cosmetics but uses phenoxyethanol in their formulas might be a turn off. I try to steer away from phenoxyethanol in my products but do not consider it a deal breaker. For others, the independent consultant sales strategy might be a detractor for you as it was for me, which can easily be mitigated through purchasing directly through their website.

I found the samples a pleasure to use, and while I do not think there are enough good ingredients to back up the proposed benefits of many of the products, I do think that if you’re currently spending your money on products like Origins/REN, it would be worthwhile to give this line a try as well.

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Lina Hanson Global Face Trio – REVIEW


Last year, Lina Hanson relaunched her skincare line with a redesign and brand new products, and I immediately gravitated toward her Global Treasures Balm (which I wrote a bit about here). The other product she released alongside the scene stealing balm was the Global Face Trio, a 3-in-1 multipurpose powder that can be used as a cleanser, exfoliator and mask. Now I know what some of you are thinking “I do not need another powder in my life,” I felt the same way between the 3 cleansing powders, 5 powder masks, and 2 exfoliant powders all sitting in my bathroom. But Lina thought ahead and knew we were essentially cluttering our lives with products, so she instead took another approach by simplifying all these products into one multi-use product – a powder versatile enough to be a cleansing powder, an exfoliant, and a mask based on what our skin needs. Now, sometimes when a product promises hybrid functionality, it ends up doing each thing in a mediocre way but every now and then you get something like the chopstick – a purist tool that is high-functioning and valuable. So where does Global Face Trio stand?

Let’s start with learning more about the product:

“This 3-in-1 multi-purpose solution is a gentle yet effective powder that purifies, brightens, clarifies, and balances the skin. This unique product is not only customizable depending on your skin’s needs, it saves space on your counter, in your luggage, and in your mind, because it multi-functions.”

So this powder is basically the konmari version of your skincare. It’s formula is:


kaolin (white clay), limonia acidissima (thanaka) wood powder,** citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel powder* oryza sativa (rice) bran powder, acanthopanax senticosus (ginseng) stem extract, bambusa vulgaris (bamboo) stem powder, citric acid, curcuma longa (turmeric) root, glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root powder, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass) oil,* citrus nobilis (mandarin) peel oil,* limonene***, citronellol*** geraniol,***

*Organic
**Ethically Harvested
***Naturally occurring in essential oils

The powder is clay based, and Kaolin Clay is very adaptable for most skin types as it is deeply cleansing yet also mild. The 2nd ingredient is the key: Thanaka Wood Powder, which falls into Lina Hanson’s Global Beauty philosophy of sourcing effective ingredients from her travels. Thanaka Wood Powder comes from the Thanaka Wood in Myanmar and it gives the powder it’s golden tint. Burmese women apply Thanaka Powder to their skin for its multiple skin benefits which include tightening pores, clarifying skin and decreasing breakouts. Orange Peel and Mandarin Peel are going to be clarifying powerhouses and while I would not use citrus in a face oil, I do not have issues with using them in a product that is rinsed off at home. The Ginseng, Licorice, and Turmeric are highly anti-inflammatory, brightening ingredients that boost circulation. Rice Bran Powder and Bamboo Powder are traditionally used in Asia to refine skin. Finally lemongrass gives this powder it’s refreshing scent and also has anti-septic properties. And if you’re keeping count, I’ve called out virtually each ingredient, which just shows that there really is no filler in this product, everything is in there for a very good reason.

How it Performs:


If you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know that I take my time to really get to know a product. In this case, I realized that while the Global Face Trio can indeed by used as a cleanser, exfoliator, mask – it works best in two ways:

1. Add a few drops of water then mixed with a cleanser as a base (my favorite pairing is with YULI Halcyon) to simultaneously cleanse and exfoliate skin. The powerful mixture gives a deep clean and exfoliation that must be experienced. I do this about 2 or 3 times a week when my skin feels a little congested or in need of a “resurfacing” treatment, it feels like you’re soaking your skin in the best ingredients, almost like a mini-mask treatment as you cleanse. As an exfoliating powder, the finely milled nature of this powder means that it is much more gentle on skin and won’t feel rough or scratch at your skin.Take a good 5 minutes to just slowly cleanse and relax, adding more water if it dries before rinsing off. My skin immediately looks like there’s a soft filter, to a degree where I did not know skin tone could change so drastically in such a short amount of time.

2. As a mask, mix with water and add a few drops of a face oil if you need more moisture (Lina’s own Global Facial Serum is quite a good pick and the ingredients work really well together). I almost immediately feel a tingle where you know an ingredient is working. It’s not uncomfortable and there is no heat/burning sensation, I think it is from the tonic nature of the herbs including the thanaka, citrus peels, ginseng, licorice, and turmeric.  I leave it on for 15-20 minutes and when I wash it off, my skin really does look 2-3 shades lighter.

Final Thoughts


I think the Global Face Trio is an amazing product that packs so much performance as each ingredient is so powerful and purposeful. This is why my skin ALWAYS looks brighter and clearer almost immediately after using it. I know that I probably made it sound like it is solely a brightening product but it really goes beyond that, the brightening is the most visible result but it’s really an entirely stimulating procedure due to super-toning herbs that evens skin tone, calms inflammation, erase irritation, reverse skin damage (many of the herbs actually fight UV damage) and boost overall radiance due to improved health. Perhaps a better word for the result would be that it is rejuvenating but the most visible/immediate result is definitely the brightening – either way, there is no question that Global Face Trio is the real deal. Beyond that, I also commend the Global Face Trio as unlike most powders on the market, it does NOT contain Baking Soda – a major rarity and a huge bonus.

At $70 for 3.4 oz + a beautiful bamboo spoon for scooping, I feel that everyone using a powder with baking soda needs to make the switch and those who don’t have any powders, need to make The Global Face Trio, their first powder as it’s so hard to go wrong with how multifaceted and results-driven the formula is.

Available at:
Credo Beauty
The Detox Market

The Spring Beauty Edit

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As seasons change, so too does our skin needs making Spring the perfect time to update our skincare top shelf! Gone are the thick moisturizers and anything that can be described as “heavy,” and in are fresh, enlivening products that awaken skin. The above are some products that I’d like to share with you as part of my Spring Beauty Edit:

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser: As a first step, this cleanser smells lovely and gets rid of make-up/sunscreen build up. It washes off as a milky fluid making removal easy. Good for a quick removal or extended massage. Use in place of a balm which might prove too heavy for Spring/Summer.

Pro-tip: Apply on dry skin and cleanse before washing. The times I used this in the shower resulted in cleanser washing immediately into my eyes as I believe this cleanser is designed to break down with continued water exposure.

Kypris Moonlight CatalystA gentle resurfacing treatment that sloughs away dead skin cells and exfoliates dead skin cells that perhaps have been trapped under all the oils and moisturizers from winter. A night-time only serum, apply before face oil for best results.

Pro-tip: The older version which is more of a brownish-orange hue seemed to work better for me and the new version which is clear seems much more mild. Both versions seem to work best when slightly heated in hands first. Dry/delicate skin should use this 1-2 times a week as too much exfoliation can be counter productive and reveal thin/crepy skin. I’ll provide a more in-depth review comparing the two soon.

YÜLI M.E. Skin FuelSpring is a season of change, meaning skin may be in flux. This face oil from YÜLI is incredibly high quality being made on site from really incredible ingredients that are beneficial for problematic or compromised skin – black cumin, broccoli seed, sea buckthorn, red raspberry, prickly pear and the formula is focused on balancing and optimizing skin. Deemed a multivitamin for skin and topped with a refined fragrant jasmine note, few will find anything to complain about with this versatile oil.

Pro-tip: Apply to skin that is dewy. Oily and acne prone skins can actually put this anti-inflammatory oil on breakouts to speed up healing. Red/irritated/sensitive skins will like this gentle formula as it contains actual anti-irritant extracts. Use the press/pull technique for maximum absorption.

Kari Gran Lip WhipAvailable in a variety of colors, the naked Lip Whip is a beautifully packaged, green lip balm that gives a viable option for us girls looking for an alternative from the Rodin and Omorovicza balms. The buttery texture is melt on your lips soft while providing a solid base to apply lip stains (or just opt for one of their lip tints). Wonderful to heal chapped lips from chronic winter dryness for supple Spring kissers.

Pro-tip: layer under or dab and mix with heavily pigmented lip products (i.e. W3ll People, RMS, etc) to create a natural, moisturizing tint.

Sunday Riley Good Genes: Good Genes perhaps has Sunday Riley’s biggest cult following, any IT girl from Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss to Alexandra Pakzad will swear by this stuff. Good Genes Treatment is a multitasking lactic acid lotion that is perfect for Spring Cleaning skin. The lactic acid is pretty strong at first (with a very acidic 2.4 pH) and helps to brighten dull, tired winter skin. The first time I used it, my skin felt the tingle and once the sensation subsided, it appeared that all the trapped sebum from winter were released onto my skin as I looked absolutely shiny (TMI?)

Pro-tip: As lactic acid is an AHA, do not layer with oils or actives that can be easily broken down such as Vitamin C and Retinol. Use as either a 20 minute mask (2-3 full pumps) or alone in the evening with an inactive moisturizer.

Kate Somerville Cytocell Eye CreamMy eyes are SENSITIVE. Origins/REN eye products make it red, oils always end up in my eyes and many of the luxury (non-natural) products can really irritate my eyes so when I find one that works, I stick with it, especially through Spring when pollen and allergens are at an all time high. This eye cream from Kate Somerville has been on my wish list for years before I could afford to spend $75 on an eye cream. The ingredients include Vitamin C, a milk peptide complex and Peptide P-199 that renews skin. It relieves, soothes and gives me confidence that somehow my eyes look awake even if I am not.

Pro-tip: Stock in the fridge for added cooling benefits which helps with dark circles and firming. This cream glides onto skin so it can also be used as an eye make-up primer.

YÜLI Halcyon: This cleanser is an all time favorite and is in the Spring Beauty Edit because 1) with a flower water base, it smells like spring in a bottle 2) Spring is the best season for bare skin and this cleanser is perfect for that quick, one-step cleanse to keep skin beautiful. Every wash leaves my skin naked but never stripped just super comfortable and plush.

Pro-tip: The most luxurious cleanse I’ve had was by wetting skin with rose-water or face mist first before applying 3 full pumps of Halcyon and massaging skin. I do this every Sunday and my skin is baby soft, glowing, and pampered afterward. This gel cleanser is also superb when mixed with powder-to-cream masks.

In Fiore Encens Vetivert Body Oil: Unfortunately not yet in stock from In Fiore, this seasonal body oil is one I am well and truly obsessed over. The body oil comes out in a green hue due to the grapeseed oil base and sinks into skin beautifully that it can be applied to dry or wet skin. In Fiore’s scents are phenomenal and their body oils almost double as perfume oils, each transporting the wearer. This one is perhaps my favorite: Vetiver, Neroli, Jasmine, Mandarin all shine. It’s a floral heaven with some edge due to the grassey Vetiver note.

Pro-tip: Apply as a hair oil and do a weekly scalp massage with this oil. Not only do I find it beneficial for my hair and scalp, but it helps keep the scent ruminating all around.

What products have you put on the back burner and what are your staples for Spring? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

My Journey into Korean Beauty, An Education

Recently I’ve been swept into the K-Beauty trend or Korean Beauty trend. “Is this were you use a gajillion products in your routine?”/ “Isn’t that the same trend that’s pushing snail slime?” You ask? To which I say – yes, all true. The Korean Beauty trend has gained a lot of attention from the now ubiquitous serial-killer looking sheet masks seen all over Instagram to the focus on a disciplined, multiple product regimen.

I decided to explore this trend more in depth because I wanted to see for myself where the truth stood between hype and results. Would using such uncommon ingredients be more beneficial? Is the multiple product approach better than one that is streamlined?

It was a little daunting at first when hearing about 10-step routines and just the categories (cleansers, toners, essences, serums, pressed serums, oils, ampules, moisturizers, sheet masks, rubber masks, splash masks – OH MY!) alone are enough to intimidate any beginner or novice. I enlisted the help of natural K-beauty purveyor Glow Recipe which provides handy , informative guides and insights on latest trends as well as Sokoglam‘s Charlotte Cho who is a wonderful source for all things K-Beauty.

It was through watching their videos, reaching out on Instagram and a couple of e-mails back and forth that I was able to form my insights which is that like any beauty regimen, the Korean Beauty regimen is all about what works for you. For the most part, the reason for so many steps is because the K-Beauty philosophy is comprehensive rather than tedious and purposefully overwhelming. After researching the products and categories, I believe it’s really important to think about everything holistically in terms of how products will interact with each other and what they bring to the table independently.

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One of the first things I noticed was that despite those uniquely out-there ingredients, most of the ingredients list tend to be fairly common and not that different from what one might easily find in a Sephora store. Take for example the snail goo sleeping mask from Missha (Cell Renew Snail Sleeping Mask) shown above. Sounds pretty cool right? The actual product is really just a rich creamy lotion, no hint of goo but an abundance of synthetic fragrance. In my experience, there wasn’t anything that distinguished it from other moisturizers despite being called a sleeping mask. I suppose in this regard overnight moisturizers might as well all be called sleeping masks and day time moisturizers, activity masks?

What I did gravitate toward was Glow Recipe, a site where products are really celebrated from being uniquely different. While the brand curates “natural” offerings, the green beauties out there may notice some iffy ingredients such as PEG’s but in general I didn’t see too many bad ingredients. Think of this purveyor as carrying brands akin to Origins, REN, Grown Alchemist, where they’re not entirely ‘green’ but a daliance isn’t going to be ideology shattering either. I love how enthusiastic the ladies at Glow Recipe are with sharing their latest finds in which each product is given a chance to shine – their latest discovery is the Aqua Peel which is an acid treatment applied through a soaked over sized Q-Tip, pretty cool right?

With Glow Recipe, I found that the Whamisa line really spoke to me and I purchased their Organic Flowers Toner [Deep Rich] which is described as a bouncy essence like hydrating step and Organic Flowers Facial Oil which I purchased purely to see how Korean oils may differ from ones we purchase here. The Organic Flowers Facial Oil reminded me of the Acure Oil in terms of packaging and was noticeably light and quick absorbing. As a fan of face oils and being spoiled by brands like Odacite and Yuli that just can’t be beat when it comes to freshness, nothing about the Whamisa Oil stood out to me per se although it proved competent as a night time oil (it contains citrus oils which automatically classes it as an evening only product for me).

Still, the toner immediately found its way into my routine, nestled between cleansing and a fine botanical mist. I found the emollient texture to add a certain bit of moisture cushion which is much welcomed during the winter. I also like that it relies on Aloe Vera, botanical extracts and natural fermentation which is something we see in green beauty as well.

In fact, I recognized that a lot of things that worked for me with Korean Beauty also worked in line with green beauty from the reliance of high quality ingredients, plant based actives and designing a comprehensive system focused upon individual skin conditions. I was able to take the teachings of K-Beauty and apply it to my fairly green top shelf:

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My evening K-Beauty inspired Green routine starts with double cleansing. In Korea and Japan, women believe that to take off the layers of the day requires a multi-step process starting with the make-up, sunscreen and water-proof products. This is usually an oil based cleanser and in my case on light days, I use an oil-based cream cleanser like In Fiore’s Treate. After the surface is cleared, it’s time to really cleanse and freshen the skin and Korean beauty usually incorporates a light foaming, pH balanced cleanser that is usually SLS and alcohol free. Of course, for this step I use my beloved Yuli Halcyon Cleanser, which I find to use much higher quality and advanced ingredients – I really do consider it to be THE gift to us green beauty fans.

Now that skin is bare and fresh, I acid tone with First Aid Beauty’s Radiance Pads to give a gentle resurfacing which only helps skin absorb more moisture to follow. This is the most gentle acid toner I’ve used and it was recommended by a reader (thank you!). Next I use 3 drop-fuls of Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Toner and press into my skin in upward circular motions. This gives my skin a good moisture base to build from. Then I follow with Tatcha’s Luminous Deep Hydration Serum to really amp up the hydration factor with hyaluronic acid and Okinawa red algae which is very deeply moisturizing as the name suggests and gives skin some bounce. Next, with my skin loaded up from the water, glycerin, hydrating actives and hyaluronic acid, I mist it with MUN’s No.11 Rejuvenating Rose toner which is based on water and rose water (which the aforementioned actives will bind to skin) and also contains hyaluronic acid. In Korean Beauty, this is the pressed oil/ampoule stage so I press 1.5 to 2 pumps of Yuli’s Liquid Courage antioxidant serum to my skin as it is the most concentrated product and I want to give time for my skin to absorb all of the good stuff. Liquid Courage itself contains a unique ingredient in the form of a bio-ferment of black garlic which kicks up the antioxidant capacity, and don’t worry I can confirm that there is no unpleasant garlic odor, only a soft neroli fragrance. With serums, I allow one to two minutes for it to absorb before continuing.

During this time I diligently apply my Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum which is one of my favorite as it contains peptides, antioxidants and hyaluronic acid as well. I do a dot on each ring finger and dab across my under eye. This Eye Serum relieves that bit of tightness that I sometimes feel and sinks in quickly. I press any leftover product to my smile lines and around my lips.

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As the final step I use Tatcha’s Soothing Triple Recovery Cream which locks in all that hydration and itself is formulated with the highest concentration of colloidal oatmeal which is a very powerful anti-inflammatory. This anti-aging moisturizer also contains Indigo extract and is based on water and olive based squalane. The Soothing Triple Recovery Cream also does not contain essential oils and coupled with the colloidal oatmeal has won the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

So while I know this might look like a lot immediately, once each step is broken down everything starts making sense in their place. So what began as an exploration of a new trend really just showed me that it was a different take on the tried and true: do what works for you! I’ll likely continue to incorporate some things from Korean beauty because they’re quite playful and out of the box with product ideas and a lot of things actually work very well, however I’ve come away with a deeper appreciation for high quality ingredients that us green beauty fans have treasured all along.

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser

 

IMG_0447Tata Harper has been on a kick with releasing new products! When the Purifying Cleanser was announced, I immediately added it to my list of products to purchase. Her line already had two cleansers: Refreshing and Regenerating. I found both to be too waxy which led to build up in my pores that I never had with a cleanser before so when the Purifying Cleanser came out – I had high hopes for a slam dunk.

The Purifying Cleanser is targeted for those of us who have acne prone and oilier skin. I’ve seen on Periscope that Melissa, the owner of Citrine Beauty who describes her skin as on the drier side, only uses this cleanser as a once a week power clean.

I played with a tester in store at Neiman Marcus and immediately recalled the classic Tata Harper aroma that I love, although the herbal fragrance has a decided stronger citrus aroma here. I noticed that upon wetting, the cream-gel textured cleanser emulsified and washed off, which gave me high hopes that this would finally be the Tata Harper cleanser that would work for me so I immediately bought a bottle home.

Here’s all the information gleaned from the product description:


What it is:

A hydrating cleanser that combats the daily wear and tear of environmental exposure and pollution by effectively clearing pores of excess oil, dead skin, and buildup.

What it is formulated to do:
A powerfully purifying cocktail of sugars, broccoli extract, and fruit enzymes thoroughly cleanses the skin and refines the appearance of pores. While maintaining the skin’s moisture balance, an invigorating blend of essential oils helps flush away impurities for a deeply refreshed look and feel. This soap-free cleanser has a cooling effect on the skin and helps to combat the appearance of oiliness. When emulsified with cool water, foaming sugars create a micro foam that further detoxifies the skin.

The formulation is powered by 10 high-performance ingredients, including purple clay, which supports natural cell renewal and protects against absorption of impurities; sugar based surfactants, which provide topical cleansing without stripping the skin of hydration; broccoli extract and bioflavanoids, which provide a long-lasting cleansing effect and decrease visible shine on the skin’s surface; and essential oils from clove, fennel, and ginger, which help flush away surface impurities.

Ingredients
Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Capric/Caprylic/Triglycerides, Water, Glycerine, Propanediol, Glyceryl undecylenate, Aroma, Sucrose Stearate, Decyl Glucoside, Oryza sativa (Rice) Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Lactobacillus/Punica granatum Fruit Ferment Extract, Papain, Curcuma Zedoaria Root Oil, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Sucrose Palmitate, Zingiber Officinale Root Oil, Salix alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Eugenia Caryophyllus Flower Oil, Sucrose Laurate, Abies PectinateLeaf Oil, Foeniculum Vulgare Oil, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extracts, Kaolin, Bioflavanoids, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate, Montmorillonite, Mica, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Superoxide Dismutase, Soybean Peroxidase, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene.

The keyword to note here is that despite being called the purifying cleanser, Tata Harper would still like it to be noted that this is a hydrating cleanser. There does appear to be quite a bit of an oil dominated base here that I didn’t fully realize until I read the ingredients list closely when I got home.

What all this means is that the cleanser kind of worked like a gel-to-oil cleanser for me. I was let down because I imagined a gel cleanser like Ren or Grown Alchemist (see Cleansing Game Changers), or the green gel cleansing champion Yuli Halcyon. It dispenses as a rather pleasant and rich gel which can be applied to dry or wet skin. Once it’s moved around, it breaks down into almost an oil texture. Now this doesn’t mean it’s a bad cleanser, but rather I just don’t see the point of adding this to two already very similar cleansers in the line, not to mention a nourishing oil cleanser released at the same time that is a straight forward oil cleanser.

I read that Caroline Hiron’s compared this to Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip which makes me think either we got completely different products or there’s a reformulation in one of the two products because the truth is that Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip was a strong, foaming cleanser that dried out my skin if I used it more than 3 times consecutively while Tata Harper’s Purifying Cleanser is what I have reluctantly relegated to a 1st cleanse. They’re both dispensed as gels that you can massage but the breakdown and reaction with water is completely different.

I think this is a decent product in the sense that it feels luxurious and pleasurable however I just don’t feel Tata Harper has truly provided a standalone cleanser separate from the Refreshing Cleanser and that the moniker of “purifying” is a misnomer for this product. In fact, after washing with this I never felt that my skin was clean so I reserve it for when its really dry and I don’t have a lot of makeup if I want to use it alone or most of the time I’ll use it as the first part of double cleansing.

For those with oily or acne prone skin I might recommend this in place of an oil or balm for the first cleanse but not as a solo cleanser. The price is $58 for 4.1 oz which is not too bad but you do need quite a bit of product for each use since the gel disperses into an oil. If used daily, I imagine a bottle lasting me between 30 and 50 days so in that sense, it may not be as economic. If you use the Refreshing Cleanser and just want it to be slightly better at washing (it’s also about $20 cheaper than the Refreshing Cleanser for the same amount) or if you like oil/balm cleansers but want them to actually rinse off cleanly – this might actually work out well for you.

Purchase from:
Neiman Marcus
Sephora

*Strangely this product is not available at time of writing from Tata Harper’s website.

Review: Aurelia Miracle Cleanser

aurelia

 

aurelia2Aurelia is a brand that just hits all the marks for everything this blog stands for: green luxury beauty. I love it’s very refined, feminine appeal, the soft and thoughtful packaging with touches of gold and pink, and I just like the ‘feel’ and presence of the brand. Without question, their breakthrough product is their acclaimed Miracle Cleanser, and with a name like that, it definitely commands attention.

Now where to begin with this cleanser? Well, for those of you who are acquainted with Eve Lom’s cleanser, Liz Earle’s cleanser, or even the Pond’s Cold Cream, this is very similar. This cleanser is a remarkably gorgeous scented lotion-type cream that has the consistency of Pond’s cold cream but an ingredients list and fragrance that is sophisticated, clean and dare-I-say: divine?

 

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As with most jar products, I prefer to use my own scooper to get just the right amount of product without contaminating the rest (tip: you don’t need to go out and buy a scooper, they’re available at the sample station of most beauty counters and most sales associates will let you take a couple especially if you’re nice about it). I use about a quarter sized amount which may be a bit more than is usual because I like feeling the lotion moving on my skin and using less than a dollop tended to dry quickly into my skin (kind of like applying a moisturizer that sinks into skin which makes me feel weird as this is a cleanser). I split the dollop of cream evenly in four places: forehead, left cheek, right cheek, nose-t zone, moving the excess cream down to my chin to cover all areas.

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The first thing you’ll notice is just how fantastic you feel, literally the beautiful mix of essential oils will lift your spirits and gently put your mind at ease. I don’t hesitate to throw this out there that of all cleansing balms – this is the most well made fragrance I have encountered yet, so kudos to the team. The fragrance is a mix of chamomile, rosemary, bergamot, and eucalyptus – a simple but sophisticated blend which happens to be scents that I enjoy. Rosemary may be a little on the green side but I think it is balanced nicely with the dominant scent of chamomile and the minty top note of eucalyptus. As the cream begins to break down as it is moved around , my advice to you is to cup your hands over your nose for a deep inhale of pure plant goodness to aromatically unwind. If you couldn’t tell, I believe this cleanser excels in delivering “an experience”.

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I like to massage my face as I use this for two reasons: 1) I love the scent 2) As a girl with not-dry skin, I want to be sure I’m really dislodging all the gunk from my skin. I find that I usually massage my skin until my sunscreen and moisturizers come off around the 5 minute mark (or when whatever I’m watching on tv goes to commercial break) so this may not be the product you reach for when you have some place to be. When the makeup and sunscreen come off, you’ll know (at least I did) – mine clumped because this is like a lotion and it’s not a big surprise that when lotions layer over other lotions and get massaged around they tend to clump (kind of like how oil attracts oil). I wash this off my skin with the included muslin cloth (which makes the packaging all that more charming) after soaking it a little in hot steaming water as recommended. I find that using hot water is a must in order to get this cleanser to wash off fully as there aren’t any foaming agents or water-soluble emulsifiers that allow this to rinse cleanly on its own. I think using hot water is a necessary step especially for those of you who are blemish prone because it helps get the cream off your skin. Or you can do another once-over for safe measure with an emulsifying cleanser.
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I really enjoy using this cleanser because not only does it deliver an experience, but the ingredients are so good that I don’t see how anyone using a non-clean cleansing balm, especially at the luxury price point that Eve Lom is at, can turn away from this greener, higher quality option. The Aurelia Miracle Cleanser uses plant oils and vitamins, you can read the full ingredients list on their website to see why I think it is top notch. This line is also known for using probiotics which is the thing we supposedly eat yogurt for. The idea is that probiotics also have antioxidant property and help keep skin cells healthy as well. Whether you believe it or not (I can’t say definitely), it can’t be argued that the entire ingredients list is full of things that will benefit skin such as Baobab (an omega rich super fruit), Hibiscus (antioxidant rich), Mongongo Oil (Vitamin E), and milk protein. Divine, I tell you, divine!

In terms of performance, I would say this product is more “luxury experience” over “cleansing effectiveness”. It isn’t my regular cleanser because usage isn’t convenient for every-day purposes and my skin is prone to breaking out or being congested if I don’t use something more along the lines of a traditional cleanser regularly. As much as I enjoyed this cleanser for how it made me feel, I was not able to use it consecutively without my skin becoming noticeably more dull/congested like I had neglected to clean my skin and although I didn’t let it get to that point, I think if this were my only cleanser, I would start breaking out after continued use. With that said, I don’t believe the cleanser itself will cause breakouts (unless you’re sensitive to one of the essential oils or your skin cannot tolerate balms or cleansers with an oil base) and I do not think it reflects that this cleanser is not good, as I’ve said before for some people’s skin types, cleansing balms and oils just don’t work as the solo cleanser in a regular routine. I think those with dry and mature skin that are not prone to breaking out may find much to love here. For myself, when I need that time to unwind and just tune out – I find this a good treat for myself and I have come to appreciate it for this weekly purpose.

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At $53 for $120ml, I am comfortable in saying that Aurelia’s Miracle Cleanser is a strong green offering in a sea of luxury cleansing balms that should be definitely be considered. The formula is high quality and thoughtful, while the results are in line with most good cleansing balms. If you love ‘experiences’ this is especially one to bookmark, on the other hand for someone like my boyfriend who is still confused why I spent over $50 on a “thick lotion” to rub across my face, the utilitarians out there who look for function over form may find themselves perplexed if they’re expecting a cleanser-cleanser. The truth is, if cleansing balms or luxury beauty items aren’t your thing and you’re really just looking for a cleanser, this one won’t knock it out of the park for you and there isn’t really any way I imagine this will make you come around but if you’ve been using cleansing balms as your main source of cleansing and you don’t mind the luxury price point – perhaps I’ve just introduced you to your new staple. For me, I would not consider it a suitable regular or daily cleanser though it has become a very very welcomed once or twice a week indulgence for my skin for when I have time to unwind, massage my skin, inhale the rich aromas, and enjoy “me time”.

Now I know many of you have this at home, what are your thoughts? Leave them in the comments!

 

Review: YÜLI Halcyon

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Well it’s been a long time coming and I know you, loyal readers, have been awaiting this review with every new post I write as seen in all of the comments section requesting more information on this cleanser! I totally understand why, cleansers are such a delicate product.

I had this review written up a week ago and I thought I’d post a little teaser about it before I post it since I received so many requests to review this cleanser. Little did I know that I would end up receiving literally 62 emails asking specific questions about Halcyon. I have never received this level of interest or curiosity before. It made me go back to add bits here and there to the review I had written, so despite the delay – please enjoy!

When I first started this blog, I wrote that my search for the holy grail of cleansers was never-ending, having found many good ones but not “the one”. The issue is even more complex because of my personal belief that while green products are indeed capable of matching and exceeding the performance of their mainstream counterparts, they do need to work around a lot of chemicals that give cleansers and moisturizers their functionality. As such green beauties have a myriad of options to choose from for cleansers: balms, oils, powders – but few dare I say “traditional” cleansers, the creams and gels that are used in mainstream skincare. Green beauty companies have found ways around this “watch this powder fizz” “wipe off with a beautiful muslin cloth!” – but to me it was all sacrifice for the experience of an actual legitimate cleanser. As exciting as it is to give life to a powder, or as tranquil as it is to massage a balm or oil around skin, these products aren’t suitable replacements for ever day cleansing – no matter what marketing would suggest.

Gimmicks aside there are good quality green cleansers yet there has always been something to keep me from repurchasing, such as Tracie Martyn’s amla cleanser which offers quite a performance but at the cost of being exceptionally drying or Tata Harper’s Cleansers which smell delightful but are made with waxes and butters that don’t really cleanse properly and instead clog pores, or Intelligent Nutrients anti-aging cleanser which is a vitamin for skin but doesn’t actually cleanse at all (it’s literally a lotion that you massage into skin)! I feel like I’ve had more than enough experience to give a qualified assessment of cleansers at this point.

When I purchased YÜLI’s Halcyon cleanser, I was determined not to write a review right away because I really wanted to see how my skin would respond after long term use. Although I have been a fan of YULI’s in the past, filling this void in my skincare checklist was a task that I wasn’t sure if any product could handle. Cleanser was the first skincare product I ever bought, before I knew the concept of moisturizing and what not, so in many ways I’m most critical of cleansers. Enough background.

The quick and easy if you want to skip the rest (cause I know some of you have been patiently waiting for a long time): after months of testing, I’m pleased to say that with it’s winning combination of a green formula that purists will love, amazing cutting edge ingredients, really stellar all around performance, gentle demeanor and stellar results,  YÜLI’s Halcyon has accomplished the feat of not only being an effective green cleanser that can compete with mainstream rivals, but of essentially ending my search for the cleanser that I can use every day and not be left wanting.

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Halcyon is described as a high-tech bioactive cleansing gel that is gentle enough for daily use and effective enough to rid skin of impurities. The ingredients back up this claim, as it is one of the only cleansers (green or not) that contain peptides, hybridized enzymes, organic herbal infusions, ferments, and floral waters. All of the ingredients are chirally correct which basically means the ingredients are completely active and stable. Halcyon also stands out for what it does not include: harsh detergents, sulfates, soap bases, alcohol – all of which can be drying and strip skin or irritating to sensitive skin. This is quite a feat in formulating and really showcases YULI’s mastery of ‘green technology’ as even other green brands like Dr. Alkaitis are known to have cleansers that use soaps or alcohols.

All of this is pointless if it only looks good on paper. The gel has a great fluid consistency that applies easily to skin. It’s clear and has a slight golden tinge, and smells a refreshing floral which is quite surprising as YULI is not one of those lines in my mind that tries to make things smell good for the sake of smelling good. I use about 3 pumps and apply it in a circular upward motion around my face to lather it up a little. As it is very gentle and made without chemical surfactants, don’t expect a lot of foam but it will lather. I think this allows it to remove surface debris without drying skin which really foaming cleansers such as Tracie Martyn’s often do.

The scent and performance of Halcyon really was soothing and tranquility inducing, making me feel like I was for a brief moment at a beach side villa in Greece overlooking the crystal clear blue waters befitting of the name Halcyon. I actually looked forward to my morning and night time ritual because this cleanser was so delightful and was instantly uplifting.

The first time I used it, I noticed how exceptionally light it was compared to every cleanser I had used before. I kept touching my skin afterward because it just felt so “normal” never tight or stripped. To my delight, my skin felt completely clean yet was so pampered and soft. As for the performance, while I would describe the cleanser as gentle, it absolutely provided the level of cleansing necessary to remove my day time products as well as the excess impurities from the night. I feel like I’ve seen improvements to my skin as well which I didn’t expect since cleansers don’t usually do that. It’s probably the chiral (!) Vitamin C, skin toning herbal infusion, anti-aging peptides, retexturizing enzymes,  which make this perhaps more half serum half cleanser. I feel like my skin is softer, less prone to breakouts (in fact, even after testing a myriad of facial oils and the stress of finals papers/exams, not a single breakout), and less prone to redness. For those who wear a lot of makeup, I would probably suggest oil cleansing before this so that the cleanser can work more on your skin and not just removing the makeup. In fact this cleanser contains so many beneficial ingredients that you’re actually recommended to leave this on your skin for a little while to soak up some of the beneficial actives before washing off the impurities.

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Halcyon is an exceptional cleanser that is quite unlike anything else out there. The ingredients list is proof of this lines innovative and technological prowess that separates them from the field, the results are performance driven, the scent and feel are heavenly, I am in love. Through out this extensive testing even when I was testing out other cleansers, I looked forward to coming back to this as my skin seemed to come to life. I’m not one of those beauty bloggers who throws around the term holy grail product, but this has found its place as my daily cleanser, a spot that has no small feat to fill.

To answer some of your questions that I couldn’t fit into this review:

  • I found makeup removal competent. I’m not a heavy makeup kind of girl but I also don’t use a lot of green makeup brands so the products I use are probably more difficult to remove than RMS/Kjaer Weis. I use a lot of Tom Ford, Chantecaille, Shiseido, Tarte, and Koh Gen Do products including blush/bronzer/luminizer, but no heavy mascara and I found that Halcyon did a good job of removing everything from my face. I personally like to remove makeup with something like an oil first before because otherwise I feel like I’m wasting the Halcyon since a lot of the ingredients are actually beneficial for skin rather than normal cleansers which just wash things off.
  • Which brings the next point, some of you ask if all these good ingredients are wasted in a cleanser since you wash it off. According to Yuli’s instruction, they’re aware that the cleanser contains a lot of beneficial ingredients (I even refer to it as almost a serum/cleanser) and they say you can leave it on skin a little after it is activated prior to washing off. It seems to work because I do feel like it helps to feed my skin even though it rinses very cleanly off my skin.
  • This did not make me break out, it actually helped to keep my skin clear because it was balancing as it cleansed off impurities. The gel rinses off really clean without leaving residue but it also didn’t make my skin feel “dry/tight”. 
  • I think this is good for sensitive skin, it is REALLY gentle and in fact because it smelled so good, my curiosity got the best of me and when I got a little on my lips, I did taste it, to my surprise it was very neutral which makes me think sensitive skin would probably really like this. And it isn’t exfoliating or drying so you can use it every day.
  • This works really well as the 2nd step of a double cleanse because it doesn’t irritate skin but it will help to remove the leftover residue from oil cleansing.
  • Why did I feel it was important to give this cleanser an extended test run? Because I’m super particular about cleansers and I’m not afraid of being critical. There was a review I did a while back on Sunday Riley’s Ceramic Slip cleanser that I thought was amazing. But then I started noticing that when my skin was fine, continued use of that cleanser would break me out most likely due to the drawing clays which stripped my skin  so I can’t really use that unless my skin is particularly oily otherwise it is too much and can actually make me imbalanced/break out/dry. So I kind of learned my lesson and decided to REALLY give this a test, and I feel like all of my observations in this review are more meaningful as a result.
  • “My skin is really dry and I generally use cleansing balms to keep my skin hydrated, can I still use this” – I don’t see any reason why you can’t. But this is a cleansing gel, not a cleansing balm they’re different products and work differently – I would say if you’re looking for a cleansing gel and you buy a balm, you won’t be happy and if you’re looking for a cleansing balm and you buy a gel you won’t be happy. I do though that whereas a cleansing balm/oils probably shouldn’t be used daily especially for acne prone and combination and oily skins, this gel one of the most universal I’ve used.
  • “My skin is really oily and I break out a lot! Can I use this?” – Again, I don’t see why not. I describe Halcyon as gentle but it belies the fact that the gel itself is quite a performer in removing the little somethin’-somethin’s we all get on our skin at the end of the day and will refresh skin in the morning. I think this is the cleanser I would have recommended to myself years ago when I was using the really harsh cleansers for acne prone skin that just stripped my skin and led to more breakouts.
  • “What cleansers would you say Halcyon is most similar to?” – Probably Tracie Martyn amla Purifying Cleanser, the discontinued Ren Rosa Centifolia Cleanser in terms of gentleness and lightness which was one of my classic faves until they changed the ingredients and took out everything expensive, Sonya Dakar Ultraluxe Nourishing Wash, Aesop Parsely Seed Cleanser  Although Halcyon is more green than the listed cleansers, they’re all what I consider to be refreshing, high quality gels. (I really AM a cleanser junky aren’t I?)

Have other questions you don’t see answered? Drop it in the comments!