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.


I love hearing from you, whether in the comments section here or on my Instagram. Reach out!

The Detox Market: Best of Green Beauty Box 2019 – REVIEW

Every year, The Detox Market puts together a box of their best of green beauty products. It’s a curated selection of their best selling products usually across categories so there is something for everyone/ every interest. My favorite aspect is the price because they manage to pack full-sized products at really great savings. This year, the box retails at $159 while the total value of the products is actually $249.

Here is what’s in the box and my quick take on each product!

What’s In the Box?

KOSAS
Kosasport LipFuel in Pulse
 | full size 0.17 oz | $18 value

I’ve wanted to try KOSAS for the longest time. They’re known for being the new hip kids on the green makeup block and their lip balm in the color Pulse is such a good universal pick and introduction to the brand. Not only is the lip balm something that is universally needed, but the color gives you a good idea of the formula sophistication when it comes to color intensity and wear, both of which are surprisingly good for a lip balm. It’s more exciting than the plain colorless variant but offers enough sheerness for those who don’t want to be too colorful. I love it because it gives just the right amount of pop that makes lips just look ever-so-slightly more defined without being obvious. And the texture is incredibly “balmy” which is good for a lip balm, as it provides sufficient nourishment and protection.

PAI SKINCARE
Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil
– Mini | full size 10 ml | $28 value

This is one of the classics of green beauty and I’m glad it was included even in the cute mini size. Pai’s Rosehip oil really started the whole rosehip craze a couple of years back, and their rosehip oil has reached iconic status at this point. Rosehips are high in beta-carotene, omegas, and antioxidants so they’re just overall great skin protectors. What makes this oil different from others is that it’s a blend of rosehip seed and rosehip fruit oils of the highest purity. I think this is a very clean, simple yet effective product that can do so much from both nourishing skin to rejuvenating it. My deepest impression of this product came from an event in NYC where I met a 60-plus investment banker with beautiful skin who swore up and down that this was her entire anti-aging regimen, “rosehips are the new retinols” she declared.

MAYA CHIA
The Eye Achiever | full size 0.3 oz | $70 value

I’ve been curious about Maya Chia for the longest time, so when the Eye Achiever was included in this box, I was beyond excited to try it. Unfortunately, it made my eyes water and itch. And upon checking the ingredients, I was quite surprised to see spices like Black Cumin, Sea Fennel and Fennel, and Sweet Lupine (which can be an allergen for those with nut allergies). As many of you know, I’m not a fan of spices in facial care products in general, and I feel that many such active ingredients need to especially be used with caution around the eyes. This just irritated my eyes, and as I tried it on my partner and friends, I realized that it wasn’t just me. I wanted desperately to love this because the cooling rollerball is a great idea for stimulating circulation around the stagnant eye area, and some reviews were very glowing in how this can even temporary fill fine lines, but it just wasn’t a match for me. Nonetheless, that’s why these boxes are great, because it lets you try new products with lower risk than paying outright at full price.

RMS BEAUTY
Signature Set in Mod Collection
| full size | $44 value

I actually wanted this the moment I saw it launch on RMS Beauty’s instagram. The signature set is available in two colors but Mod is perfect because it’s so versatile. The set functions as a cross between a “best of” sampler set and an on-the-go everything-in-one sort of thing, giving you blush, lipstick, lip balm, highlighter – specifically, there are two lip2cheek colors, a lip and skin balm, master mixer and the signature living luminizer all in one palette. Super convenient and useful, I’d pretty much purchase this box just to get this below normal price.

ODACITE
Blue Aura Cleansing Water
 | full size 120 ml | $39 value

This is a micellar water, but oh my goodness it’s so much more. There are ayurvedic herbs that fight pollution, aloe vera water to soothe skin, and French micellar water to remove the day. The scent is quite unwinding and I love using it at the end of a long day to remove make-up and sunscreen, especially applied on a cotton pad to remove eye makeup. You don’t need to rinse this off, it just wipes off but as a creature of habit, I just like to go over with a wash afterward as well. Definitely an upgrade to normal micellar waters and a must try. For the full bottle at 120ml for $39 retail, I think the price is really good for how much product you get and how long lasting it is, so it’s an even better value in the box.

W3LL PEOPLE
Expressionist Volumizing Mascara
 | full size | $23 value

Have not opened this yet just because I’m still using another mascara, but W3LL People is a great brand and I’ll update once I finish my current mascara.

INNERSENSE BEAUTY
Pure Travel Trio
|  travel size | $27 value

I recently traveled with the conditioner and shampoo, and have to say my hair felt the most lustrous that it has in a long long time. I’m a huge convert to this brand now, and sometimes will use their leave-in conditioner just for fun because it feels like a vitamin for my hair.

DETOX MODE
Happening Scrub
| full size 120 ml | $35 value

I didn’t love this at first because the scrub has a kind of oil/balmy texture that I thought would not rinse well. But as I kept using it, I noticed that while the refined granules did their job in smoothening out my skin texture, the oils (all from plants) really helped to soften and condition my skin such that my skin was both clean and well-nourished that I did not even need to use a body oil after stepping out of the shower. The smell is very herbal but in a meditative way that I appreciate. I’ve really grown to enjoy this both as an experience and as a really effective product.



Overall, I think the Best in Beauty boxes that The Detox Market comes out with are among the annual highlights in terms of products and value. It’s always been a great opportunity to try out the new products that I’ve seen but never experienced, or classics such as the Pai Rosehip Oil that is universally beloved and can always fit somewhere into anyone’s routine. These boxes are available seasonally, so if you want to grab one, order yours here.

Op-Ed The British Invasion: 4 Clean English Brands

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When it comes to the clean skincare game, the brands across the pond kind of have us Americans beat. This isn’t to say we’re not competitive, arguably Intelligent Nutrients is becoming a behemoth, while Tata Harper & Kahina are carving an established base for themselves atop the luxury green skincare game, and newcomers are building a solid identity that resonates with customers: i.e. May Lindstrom, the poster-child for artisanal beauties and YULI, the quiet storm of coolness for the modern crowd. But the movement kind of started across the pond, not only are the skincare requirements more stringent (thanks to a government that isn’t so tied to big-money corporations like ours), but the audience is also much more knowledgeable as well in general. I think the demand for these clean products definitely is the contributing factor for why these brands got the jump start, so without further ado, let’s look at what makes these brands great:

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Pai Skincare

What it is: A line started by Sarah Brown for those who have sensitive skin using the cleanest plant-based skincare. 

My Impression
: This is the line I’d point you to if you love Ren (a fellow British born line, see the trend here?) but wanted something even cleaner. Their aesthetic is similar down to the pastel labeling for the products. While they have a full line that is continually expanding, they’re most known for their oils and creams with audiences here.

Products to try: Pai’s Bioregenerate face oil is a pure rosehip complex that regards itself as an all-natural retinol treatment. The Chamomile & Rosehip Organic Sensitive skin cream is a good product to try for those with ultra-sensitive skin, it is a light cream that I consider one of the best made comparable to Tata Harper’s Rebuilding Moisturizer.

Price: Similar to Ren, might be slightly more expensive on a product by product basis, but the cleaner ingredients and higher quality formulation justifies that. 

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SUTI

What it is: A line created by Suzannah Jenkins & Tina Steadman, who are collectively homeopaths, aromatherapists, and medicine practitioners. The concept was to develop a line that was pure enough to eat.

My Impression: Suti’s products focus as much on the senses as it does on the skin benefits so even products like facial oils are aromatically scented to provide the emotional response the founders intended. This artisanal quality reminds me a little of our very own May Lindstrom. Similar to May Lindstrom, this line is very edited: three balms (one is a cleanser, one is a moisturizer, and the last one is for feet), two toners, two facial oils.

Products to try: The facial cleansing balm is a wonderfully scented cleanser + moisturizer that cleans off makeup and leaves skin soft. A wonderful alternative for those looking for a natural version of Eve Lom’s (another British brand) Cleansing balm. The Rejuvenating Facial Oil smells glorious with citrus notes in a rich golden hue, kept in a gorgeous bottle. However, it did break me out after 3 days of continuous use, the base oils were too heavy for me and while the scents were lovely, the over reliance on citrus oils made me hesitant to use this during the day for photosensitivity. 

Price: Very reasonable. DIYers will probably not buy this, but those who love high end clean beauty will not break the bank trying their stuff. 

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Ila

What it is: A spa grade line that uses only plant or mineral ingredients. Their focus is on creating an ‘experience’ to restore, nurture, and balance. 

My Impression: Probably the most premium brand on this list, Ila’s focus is on the spa experience so its advertising and message is a little less commercial than the other brands. Unlike other skincare lines, the majority of Ila’s products are geared toward body care, with lots of products for baths, body washes, body lotions, body oils, etc. The facial products they do have are still a complete line. Branding wise, I love the feminine, minimalist aesthetic and everything is in a neat dual-color plastic cylinder which looks so chic when you have a row of their products together.

Products to try: Spirit Demerson raves about their Glowing Radiance treatment oil but it is too heavy for me (though I acknowledge that it is lovely). My favorite product from them is the Body Balm for Glowing Skin which smells of Rose and Tuberose, and is perfect for the driest winter months. Although scent plays a strong part in the products formation, I have to say that they all smelled so strong that you absolutely have to make sure you enjoy the scent before buying because some are just HORRIBLE.

Price: This is the confusing part, their products are either incredibly high or surprising cheap, there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground. For instance, at $109, their facial oil will set you back a bit, and their daytime and nighttime lotions each cost over $100 as well. But the body wash and body lotion comes in at $12.80. It almost feels like two lines with different intended audiences merged into one.

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The Organic Pharmacy

What it is: started by a homeopathic pharmacist and her husband, the line has now spawned a seriously massive collection featuring several lines: skincare, body, bath, hair, sun care, baby, health, supplements, men, makeup, candles, etc. This isn’t just a skincare brand, it truly is its own empire.

My Impressions: The Organic Pharmacy is most similar to our Origins stores. They’re massive in their own right and feature a plethora of various products. The difference is that they’re cleaner formulated and the ingredient quality is top notch. There are so many products that it might be intimidating to figure out what to get, so it’s a good thing they have experts to help you decide. 

Products to try: The Rose & Bilberry Toning Gel reminds me of the Dr.Alkaitis Soothing Gel but is more about healing whereas the soothing gel is more about anti-bacterial action. The Blemish gel isn’t powerful or strong but it is good at alleviating breakouts through gentle repair without the use of anything too harmful which is something most American brands haven’t been hip to yet.

Price: This line isn’t as expensive as some others on this list but for what it is- a larger scale company, the prices are a little more expensive than I am used to. I’m fine paying the prices for the products I picked because the formulation is good but don’t expect $20-$30 products as you might at Origins. The Rose & Bilberry toning Gel set me back almost $100 after shipping while the Dr.Alkaitis Gel is only $60 for more product. So you really have to do your homework to figure out if what they have is worth the price compared to other higher end brands.