A Skincare Update: All Green Beauty July 2020

Lately the idea of semantics has been weighing on my mind. The term Green Beauty, which to me started as a movement for empowerment in knowledge of the ingredients we were buying in our personal care products, has shifted into becoming the equivalent an eye roll synonymous with Gwyneth Paltrow jade vagina eggs and frou-frou rituals of the rich and bored. If you came here through my Instagram, I go into it a bit more on just how the industry is actually quite toxic from the people behind it to how it got this way.

While I think our green beauty community now has all but dispersed, I do believe in many of the products we championed. Here is my all green routine.

I know it’s odd to see an oil cleanser as a morning cleanse, but these days I’ve just been at home and it’s hard to justify a full cleansing experience sometimes when I barely want to even do a morning routine. I tried to go through with just water but notice it does a terrible job of penetrating the film of oils my skin seems to secrete overnight. One morning I reached for Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil out of sheer laziness, and found this to do a good job of getting rid of that oil film as oil binds oil (some of you with drier skin might like the film and refuse to cleanse in the morning, but you should especially if you use serums as they need to actually penetrate). It’s gentle and works in a breeze without any fuss, and because I only use half a pump, it rinses off quickly (*yes it does emulsify with water, hurrah!) and my skin feels clean and ready for the next steps without feeling like I had to do a whole production with my cleansing.  I first got into cleansing oils with Shu Uemura but the ingredients kind of turned me off (in addition to the fact that it doesn’t rinse off with water very well), it wasn’t until One Love Organics came along with their oil cleanser that I absolutely loved it. But the Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil in my opinion, has better ingredients (a lot more plant oils) and feels nicer.

I follow with Yuli’s Panacea Elixir. If I do a full cleansing routine, I like to mist it on my skin as I feel that hydrates my skin more (this is what I tend to do at night), but if I do an oil cleanse, I like to apply this like a traditional toner with a cotton round. When used this way, it works like an organic Biologique P50 without the harsh acids that seemed to make everyone’s skin red, blotchy and angry. Panacea uses enzymes and ionized minerals instead that break away dead skin, oxidized pore clogging sebum, etc., and keeps my skin clear of congestion and any general griminess. It’s described as a juice fast for the skin, and feels to me like the skincare version of a herbal tonic you’d drink from a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to leave skin fresh, hydrated, and clear of breakouts or congestion.


Next I use Agent Nateur’s Holi(oil) as my face oil. I loved this oil from first use. The texture is beautifully plush as it uses rice bran which is nourishing but also easily absorbed. There are only 7 ingredients in here, which isn’t bad because some of the most beautiful creations only have a handful of ingredients, and these ingredients are all top of the line in quality as we know Jena prides herself on sourcing. Standouts include a French patented Calcium Ketogluconate, and Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate) which work with each other to increase the efficacy of Vitamin C in building collagen and brightening the skin. Now.. the smell. It’s beautiful and was something that stuck with me from first use. The more I used it, the more I thought “wow this is divine but also.. familiar?” It was only after reading the Garcon’s World review of Saint Jane Beauty’s CBD Face Oil where they compared the smell of rose and sandalwood as being extremely similar to Agent Nateur AND Ila that I figured it out. Remember Ila? I forgot until I read that review from GW who always manages to be on the mark and are friggin beauty archivists. I remember using their oil YEARS ago, and thats when the lightbulb went off that the Agent Nateur oil isn’t just similar in smell, upon some digging (going to their websites lol) their formulas are like copies. Where Agent Nateur uses a base of rice bran, Ila uses argan, and Agent uses the calcium+vitamin c, but other than that you can see for yourself:

Ila Formula
Wild-Grown Argan Oil (Argania Spinosa Kernal), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Sandalwood (Santalam Spicatum), Rose Otto Oil (Rose Damascena Flower Oil), Vitamin E Oil (Tocopherol Extract)

Agent Nateur Formula
organic oryza sativa (rice bran), organic rosa mosqueta (rosehip) oil, calcium ketogluconate, wildcrafted rosa damascena oil, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, organic helichrysum gymnocephalum oil, wildcrafted santalum album (sandalwood) oil.

Not to take away from the brilliance of the Agent Nateur face oil which is one of the nicest I’ve used, I just have to wonder how much Ila’s oil that came before might have informed the formulation of the Agent Nateur oil. **As an aside, I’ve been reticent to talk about Agent Nateur on my blog because as many of you may be aware, the founder has some fringe beliefs that I think are harmful. She’s also treated a fellow blogger (who I consider to be a genuine friend in the space) in a very ugly and hurtful manner. I stand by my review of this product, but I don’t think I will be purchasing from the Agent Nateur line in the future.**

Following face oil, I make sure I get my eye serum in. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a favorite. I’ve used many, and it’s a category I obsess over. What I’ve learned is that creams are for dry skin (if your skin is more oily, it could lead to milia which has to be extracted via surgical instruments), serums with a lighter gel texture tend to be more for active benefits, which is the camp I’m in right now. Kahina’s Eye Serum is a gel texture but it doesn’t have alcohol and doesn’t have that “evaporating” feel that dries your skin out. There are peptides and good plant extracts that are brightening and boost microcirculation. I think of it as my anti-aging serum for the eyes.

So in the serum step we’ve done the face and the eyes, I finish with my lips. I’m very hot and cold when it comes to my lips. Sometimes I fall behind on taking care of them and they easily get chapped. But I was watching Blackpink on Youtube and noticed how ALL the girls are religious about applying their lip products before every interview, performance and photoshoot. Like they didn’t care about touching up lipstick, but if their lips were chapped, oh no! I also know that not taking care of the lips can really mess up the plumpness and lose volume as we get older. My main problem is that I like to drink my wellness tonics, eat food, etc. and I know half the ingredients in most lip products are not ones I want to ingest so it’s hard to space it out. This is why I use Yuli’s Cellular Lip Conditioner which is 100% food grade. It’s not a balm, think of it like a face oil but for your lips. How is it different? The lips don’t have sebum glands, there is more collagen, and they’re more exposed (that’s also why the lips are more pigmented).  The Cellular Lip Conditioner helps to nourish the skin, and their plants offer a degree of protection from exposure, and it helps to keep lips plumped. I consider this an insurance to keep my lips as healthy as voluminous as I can.

The Indie Lee Daily Skin Nutrition is the moisturizer I’ve been using daily. It is light enough that it can be dispensed from a pump and is not too flashy. But it contains all the right ingredients that a dream moisturizer should have like squalane, avocado oil, hyaluronic acid, and even rosemary extract (good for environmental stressors) and Vitamin C. It melts into skin without any heaviness or greasiness, yet is substantial enough that you’ll miss it if you forgot to apply it. I think of moisturizers as more of the defensive line meant to keep the moisture from escaping, adding some of that creamier heft, and if good active ingredients are there, all the better, and this ticks all the boxes.


Before we’re done there’s one more thing I do in the morning. My wellness tonic! Let’s be honest here, everything we can perceive from our skin and hair, to our digestion, and how we feel is rooted within our inner wellness. I’m not going to do elaborate multi-step skincare routines, invest in expensive products, and then ignore what’s going on inside where everything is actually going on. MIJA Superstar is one that I talked about before. I love that it’s made by a board certified nutritionist and dietitian who is very acclaimed, as most are not. And I love their approach of filling the universal gaps we all have with one comprehensive supplement that can align all of our systems. Their approach is to balance and optimize the body where it needs it, rather than other brand approaches where you’re asked to take something for your mood, something else for your immune system, another thing for your digestion, without any clinical evidence what taking them together will do, and no concern for what individual supplements might imbalance in other areas. Beyond their approach, this just works for me on all fronts (for me it is most noticeable in my digestive regularity, metabolism, and energy level, but it will be different for everyone, my sister who is usually sick about 2-3 times a year has not been sick since she started taking it in October 2019). Unlike skincare that has steps, you don’t need bundles of supplements to be healthy, Mija’s Superstar has replaced jars of other stuff I was taking before, effectively cutting down on both time and cost, as well as always feeling like I wasn’t getting everything out of my supplements. I’ve never been more satisfied.


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New Release: Tata Harper Lip Treatments

I know, it seems I’m obsessed with Tata Harper recently! But I just started playing with her new releases and I have to say, it makes me excited for the future of the natural beauty industry.

I really like that Tata is not just stopping at her current lineup of products and is instead diversifying, which is what she should be doing if she wants to compete with the big, established luxury brands that have products in every category.

The lip treatments take a step away from skincare and veer more towards the beauty side of things. Although there are a lot of wonderful anti-aging technology and conditioning properties in the products, I believe people will buy them more for the fact that they’re a beauty product with beneficial skin qualities rather than a skincare product with some beauty qualities. 

The products first of all purport to plump lips with a triple collagen technology. If you’re unsure of which one is right for you, this is how I would break them down:

Be fierce: is the sheerest lip treatment that conditions lips with antioxidants, this is suitable for those who might not need a lot of anti-aging treatments and is the cheapest at $24

Be true: is also a sheer lip treatment but this one is a little thicker and geared more for mature users and has anti-aging benefits 

Be adored: is pretty much “Be True” loaded with pigments

They’re produced in really sleek metal casing that screams luxury and I love seeing them in my handbag. As lip balms, I feel like they’re too expensive for the results but as lip tints (a la Ilia Lip tints) the Be Adored product is really good and worth considering for its skin pleasing benefits and wonderful pigmentation.

Shop here

The Lips Have It: Luxury Lip Product Favorites

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I just turned in my last paper and started packing up my beauty products for my trip home, which I always save for last! I realized that especially in winter, lip products become more important to me. Not only will we need the perfect color for the numerous winter holidays, but the dry, cool air will also render lips rough and chapped if left uncared for, so I’ve edited down the products I’ll be taking home with me to survive the numerous demands of the winter Holiday season. 

For my base and overall lip treatment, I’ve been using YULI’s Cellular Lip Conditioner which reminds me of Aesop’s Lip Heal which has been a favorite of mine (featured in my July Must Haves post, here). After using both, I have to flat out say, I prefer Cellular Lip Conditioner. The formula is cleaner (all pure plant technology, food-grade, edible, safe for pregnant women), the botanical actives are more high-end and loaded with antioxidants, and the texture is more serum-gel like so it is more nourishing (Aesops is a thinner watery consistency which sometimes tended to dry my lips). The scent uses vanilla as a base and has a exotic ginger lily which is really nice and addicting. It also retails for less than Aesop’s Lip Heal, so I’ve decided to repurchase this when it runs out. You might be wondering why I would bring this over a lip balm – other than the fact that it looks chicer. 

Up until recently I believed only lip balms could offer that level of nourishment and hydration but Cellular Lip Conditioner is performing really well. I usually wake up with chapped, bleeding lips if I do not apply a lip balm before I go to bed, but Cellular Lip Conditioner has left my lip very soft and plump each time I used it, and it doesn’t have the heavy feel of a balm. The conditioner also really “heals” and replenishes my skin which I find lip balms don’t really do, they tend to just sit at the surface to prevent more damage due to dehydration but don’t really address the damage already done.

This is particularly important because I find that I am unable to layer products over lip balms since they’re very heavy and greasy and don’t get rid of damaged, rough skin. With Cellular Lip Conditioner, you can tell YULI truly worked with Make-up artists and stylists on this product because it absorbs fast and makes lips conditioned for flawless application of lip stains and lipsticks that often might accentuate vulnerable dry/rough areas. Anyone who has applied Tom Ford’s pigment heavy lipstick knows what I’m talking about, the rich colors often dry out the skin, so having this conditioner as a base is so important. I’m really in love with YULI’s thoughtfully made products and Cellular Lip Conditioner has me hooked.

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If I’m not going to a party and just want to add some color, I’ve been in love with Juice Beauty’s reflecting lip glosses. They have some sheen but ultimately are very subtle (contrary to the name, this isn’t a super-shiny gloss). There is a very lovely scent – similar to how some lip glosses on the market have a candy/fruity scent, but because this is a very cleanly formulated product I feel safer enjoying this since I know it is nontoxic. The lip glosses come in 4 colors: Champagne, Pink, Fig, and Guava, I have used Pink and Guava. Pink really helps the colors stand out which is cool if you want to brighten up your look, the rest of the colors are more subtle and skin-toned which is what I prefer. 

Beside just the colors, because it is all natural – a lot of the actives are also good for your lips! For example this contains grape seed oil, strawberry oil, etc. which really nourish skin. And the sweetness to this gloss is added by natural agave leaf extract.

One note: for people sensitive to Titanium Dioxide and Citrus oils, you may want to pass this up since it is in the ingredients. However, I really enjoyed using this and did not have any sensitivities.  

At just $15, I truly believe this is a wonderfully priced product that offers a safer alternative to more expensive glosses from Hourglass and YSL. The YSL gloss in particular sometimes gets me with the smell and gives me a headache. 

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Finally, if I’m going to an event, my current favorite lipstick is Dior’s Rouge Dior Lip Color. In the world of lipsticks, you either have creamy, nourishing lip colors that are subtle and light or you have drying, striking lip colors that are pigment heavy. The Rouge Dior line offers a “manageable” medium for me between color saturation, wear time, and drying capacity. 

On the driest lips, this will accentuate roughness, edges, chapped skin. But on well moisturized and conditioned skin, the colors look gorgeous and creamy. You can increase wear time by making sure your lips are perfectly hydrated before, which YULI’s Cellular Lip Conditioner really helps with. I really love this combo as I am now able to pull off the heaviest pigmented lip colors/stains with their conditioner. 

Despite the description, don’t rely on this lipcolor to actually nourish lips, you really need to make sure your lips are doing fine to get the most performance. The staying power is decent and the fade is very even which I loved.

The colors themselves are brilliant. Not only do they look incredibly high-end, but they manage to find the balance between being striking without being garrish. The last time I was at Barneys, I noticed a girl shop for lipstick with really gorgeous lips and this beautiful red-orange color, so I had to ask her what she was using. And her answer? Rouge Dior Andalouse. That really affirmed for me that this line is superb. Sometimes you have to see products on someone else before you realize how it works on you. 

I currently have this in Rare Amber (pictured), and Ara Red. The two colors could not be more different representations of the line: Rare Amber is subtle and has some sheen, very much representing the nourishing soft colors of this line. The Ara Red is the lipstick equivalent of the little red dress: vibrant, striking, and with color saturation for miles. At times it feels like these two colors should be different lines but I love both of them. 

I know the formula is clean at all, but honestly I love the performance and I don’t wear makeup THAT much so it’s about everything in moderation. I like the performance which is think is more important for makeup products especially since I don’t really live in them and will only wear for about 2-3 hours.

What are your favorite products?