24 March 2015

My Favorite Unscented Delights

I regularly receive emails from readers looking for unscented product recommendations, so I figured it was past time I did a dedicated post.  As many of you know, I'm sensitive to scents, so while there are many scented products I enjoy, I like to keep unscented options around as well.

An important thing to keep in mind is that unscented does not automatically mean there are no scent components added.  Many ingredients have a scent, so some companies add fragrance components or essential oils to mask that and help the product to smell less.  On the flip side, unscented products that don't have added scent will often have a smell, just by nature of the other ingredients.  Neither is inherently a bad thing, but I do recommend - as always - reading ingredients so that you know exactly what you're getting.  

Now, without further ado, I bring you my favorite unscented products:

Acure Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 Ultra-Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion
This lotion strikes the perfect balance between moisture and easy application and absorption.  With great ingredients and an affordable price tag, it's pretty much an automatic re-buy as soon as I start running low.  

Lina Hanson Global Baby Serum
Lina Hanson is a master of scents, but she also knocked it out of the park last year with the unscented Global Baby Serum.  Kalahari watermelon seed oil lends a light - or even dry - feel to the oil, which nonetheless hydrates the skin very well.  Originally intended for babies, maybe, but it's equally awesome for grown ups too.  

Graydon Face Food Mineral Mist
Face Food is a mineral mist made only of water and ionic copper, zinc, and silver.  The minerals, which help stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, kill bacteria, and reduce redness and irritation, are scent-free and the mist offers light, soothing hydration.   I especially enjoy this product when my skin is more acne-prone or reactive.

Weleda Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion
I'm a big fan of Weleda's entire almond line, but if I had to pick one standout product, it would be the Cleansing Lotion.  With only seven ingredients, it's a super basic cream cleanser that very gently cleanses the skin without anything harsh or stripping.  This isn't part of my day-to-day routine anymore, but when my skin is more sensitive or reactive, it's one of the first things I turn to.

Nourish Organic Pure Unscented Body Butter
If you're looking for something richer than a body lotion, Nourish's body butters are a great choice.  They're USDA certified organic, super hydrating and just melt into the skin beautifully.  I don't use this all over my body very often, but it is the best for those extra dry spots like elbows or the bottoms of your feet.  Nourish's Pure Unscented line also includes their body wash, hand soap and deodorant - all three of which I love, although I've only tried their scented counterparts thus far.  (I'd recommend steering clear of the body lotion though, which I didn't find moisturized enough and which has a strong alcohol scent.)

Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby-Mild Castile Liquid Soap
I'm pretty sure everyone knows Dr. Bronner's soaps by now, but if for some reason you haven't tried them yet, you really should.  Truly a multi-purpose product, I've used Dr. B as body wash, hand soap, makeup brush cleaner, dog shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, and even in a few DIY's.  I always buy the unscented one, which gives you the option to use it as is or to add your own scents.

Epic Blend Unflavoured More Moisture Lip Balm
It's hard to find good unscented/unflavoured lip balms, because without a scent or flavour, I often notice the natural oils and butters leaving an icky taste in my mouth.  Not the case with Epic Blend.  If I stick my nose right up to the tube, it has a very slight sweet smell, but it's very neutral and with regular application, I hardly notice it.  Epic Blend's More Moisture lip balms are one of my favorites and they do a great job keeping your lips soft and well moisturized.

Blissoma Pure Sensitive Skin Soothing Complex
Packed with amazing ingredients like marshmallow root, plantain and self heal, Pure is an exceptional moisturizer for sensitive skin and for soothing any skin irritation or redness.  The formula contains no added scent, but it's the one product on this list that does have a fairly noticeable herbal smell from the other ingredients.  

Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz Natural Styling Serum

The place where I notice smells lingering on me the most is in my hair, so leave-in products with strong scents are often a no-go.  I featured the Spiral Spritz in my Best Curly Girl Hair Products of 2014 for how well it works as a light-hold, curl defining gel, but the scent (or lack thereof) is also noteworthy.  It smells lightly of aloe vera on application, but that dissipates almost immediately and I - refreshingly - don't smell anything on my hair throughout the day.  

Do you look for unscented products?  What are your favorites?

Contains affiliate links.

19 March 2015

Skincare Routine Part #2: Evening Skincare

Where my morning skincare is all about quick and easy products, night is when I like to invest a little more time in my skin.  Just a few years ago, skincare felt like a chore, but these days, I really enjoy the whole process.  One of the biggest changes I've made - and one I'd recommend if you struggle at all with nighttime skincare - is doing the majority of your routine earlier in the evening.  For me, sometimes that means as early as six or seven at night, but at a minimum, it's a couple hours before bed.  The benefits are twofold: if you're using heavier products that take time to sink in, you're less likely to lose them on your pillowcase, and you're also less apt to go to sleep without washing your face due to sheer exhaustion.

In terms of products, the skin does a lot of regenerating when we sleep, so I like to use products with nourishing, reparative ingredients that aid in those processes.  Here's my current lineup:

Badger Seabuckthorn Face Cleansing Oil* / Weleda Soothing Almond Facial Oil*
My favorite way of removing makeup is with an oil, since I've not found anything else as effective at breaking everything down.  I take a couple minutes to thoroughly massage it onto my dry face and then wipe it away with a warm, damp facecloth.  I love the clean, fresh feeling Badger's Seabuckthorn Cleansing Oil gives my face, but because the menthol in it sometimes irritates my eyes, I prefer to use a separate oil to remove eye makeup.  Usually I'd just use almond or jojoba oil, but since running out of all my plain oils, I've been using the Weleda Soothing Almond Facial Oil.  It's a gentle blend of almond and plum kernel oils with blackthorn extract and it works just as well to remove makeup as it does to soothe and moisturize the skin.

Andalou Naturals Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel
I like to follow the oil cleansing step with a gel cleanser.  The Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel is part of Andalou's Clarifying line for oily and acne prone skin, but it also works well on my normal and generally non-acne prone skin.  The smell reminds me of cutting into a fresh grapefruit, and although the cleanser foams up a moderate amount, it doesn't dry out my face.

On days when I'm not wearing makeup, I skip the oil cleanse and just use either the Cleansing Gel or Andalou's Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk, which I talked about in my morning skincare routine.

Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Skin Tonic*
Toners aren't a skincare item that really gets me excited, but I do like the AHA! Skin Tonic, which is one of the few products I use both morning and night.  It's gentle and non-drying and I've noticed a visible difference in the appearance of the pores on my nose and cheeks since adding this into my routine.

Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Brilliant Moisturizer*
With 5% alpha hydroxy acids from natural fruit sources, Brilliant serves as both a moisturizer and a gentle chemical exfoliant.  In the beginning, I experienced minor tingling from the acids, but after using it on and off for several months, my skin has gotten more used to it and I don't feel anything on application.  This is a great formula because while the acids are pretty gentle, they are still quite effective at resurfacing the skin.  I haven't noticed much difference in terms of fine lines, but my overall skin texture has improved and my skin is the softest I can remember it being in a long time.  

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream / Holiskin Revitalize Eye Serum*
Like I mentioned, I like to do bulk of my nighttime skincare a couple hours before bed, at which point I'll use the Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream.  I find, no matter how conservatively I apply them, eye oils always manage to seep into my eyes if given the time, so I wait to apply the Revitalize Eye Serum until right before going to sleep.  Holiskin's serum is a light-textured blend of organic apricot kernel, camellia, rosehip seed, and evening primrose oils, plus non-GMO vitamin E, organic calendula extract, and essential oils.  I haven't been using it long enough to remark on its effect on dark circles or fine lines, but it feels very nourishing and does a great job moisturizing the eye area.  I'll update once I've used it for longer.

Rachel's Plan Bee Facial Oil*
Similar to in the morning, I haven't been using face oils every night recently, but on nights when I want a little extra moisture, I'll add in a few drops of Rachel's Plan Bee Facial Oil.  The oil, which smells like a warm vanilla cookie, has just enough weight to it to thoroughly moisturize the skin without any heaviness or greasy feeling.  It works well either applied alone as an additional step or mixed into my moisturizer.

And there you have it!  I've got one more post coming with masks, treatments and occasional products, but day-to-day, this is what I use.  What are your favorite nighttime skincare products?

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

13 March 2015

Sale Alert: Josie Maran Mini Argan Liner Pencils

Josie Maran products have better ingredients than a lot of conventional brands, but the company does a lot of greenwashing and their products are rarely what I consider completely natural.  Nonetheless, I tend to keep one eye on the line for the occasional product with fully clean ingredients.  The eye liner pencils fit the bill for me, so when I noticed a set of 5 Mini Argan Liner Pencils marked down to $9 a few weeks ago, my curiosity was piqued and I quickly placed an order.  While I haven't had the pencils long, I didn't want to delay writing about them, in case anyone else wanted to jump on the sale, which is still ongoing as of the time I'm posting this.

The Argan Liner Pencils are, as the name suggests, formulated with argan oil, but what interested me even more is that they contain no palm oil.  I did an entire post on limiting my consumption of palm oil, and while I've basically done away with it in my skin and body care products, it seems impossible to completely eliminate it in makeup, while still using natural products.  So, finding makeup products like this - that are both natural and palm oil free - is always exciting.  

The set comes with five mini pencils: your basic black and brown, plus a mostly matte purple, a metallic green, and a metallic antique gold.  The pencils look pretty small, but I know it takes me just shy of forever to actually use up an entire liner, so I'm okay with that.  Ounce-for-ounce each pencil is a little more than half the size of a standard liner pencil.  

After using them, I can easily divide the colors into two groups in terms of feel and pigmentation.  None of them are the absolute creamiest pencils, but Violet (purple) and Tropical (green) are noticeably firmer than the other three.  These two colors apply a little sheerer and need to be gone over a few times to get full pigmentation and opacity.  Treasure (antique gold), Chocolate (brown) and Black Raven (black) are a little softer and apply fine on the first pass.  

(L to R) Violet, Tropical, Treasure, Chocolate, Black Raven
The Bottom Line
I'm not sure I'd rush out to buy the set for the original $30, but I definitely think it's well worth the $9 price tag on sale!  I'm especially pleased with the three colors as they're unique to anything else in my stash, and black and brown liners always come in handy, so I'm happy to have those too.  Two of the pencils are a little firm, but they're all very workable, so I know I'll be getting my use out of the entire set.  

Have you tried anything from Josie Maran?

11 March 2015

Sample Stash #16: Deluxe Size Samples

Foil packets have their moment, but deluxe samples are the best.  With re-closable packaging and enough product to really get a feel for an item, these are one of my favorite ways to try out new products.   My tendency is always to hold onto them on the vague notion of of using them when I travel, but with no travel plans in sight, I decided it was time to give these a whirl.  Keep reading to see what I thought of these four items from Evolvh, The Body Deli, F. Miller Skincare, and Nourish Organic.

Evolvh SmartStart Leave-in Conditioner
Leave-in conditioners always function as second-day curl refreshers for me, so when I got this in the January Petit Vour box, I was cautiously excited even though the scent didn't seem like my cup of tea.  Evolvh's products list only essential oils in the ingredients, but they smell very perfumey to me, and even - dare I say it - synthetic.  Nonetheless, I saw a lot of good feedback on this product - and I'd already taken the photo for this post - so I decided to give it a try.  As a leave-in conditioner, it worked fine, but I should have gone with my gut on the scent.  I used it in my upstairs bedroom and it still managed to make half my house smell like perfume.  The scent was also crazy strong in my hair, to the point where my mom - who is possibly even more scent-sensitive than me - could barely stand to be in the same room as me!  I ended up having to take a mid-day shower to wash it out, and even after triple-shampooing, the smell was still noticeable in my hair.  I'm not interested in calling anyone out, but I've never had such a difficult time getting rid of a 100% essential oil-based scent, which, combined with the scent itself, makes me a little skeptical.  Take that for what you will.  

The Body Deli Melon Foaming Cleanser
I always get sucked in by skincare products that promise to brighten and the combination of turmeric, licorice root and vitamin B-12 sounded great.  After using the cleanser, I'm sort of on the fence.  I don't hate it, but I don't love it either.  I like the fresh melon scent and it works fine, but I haven't noticed any brightening or other improvements in my skin while using it.  

F. Miller Skincare Body Oil
F. Miller is a fairly new Toronto company and one I wasn't familiar with before attending a press event at The Cure Apothecary.  Made with a blend of argan, jojoba, fractionated coconut, borage, sweet almond, sunflower, and apricot kernel oils, the oil feels deceptively light in texture for something that's actually very nourishing to the skin.  The scent is an earthy/citrus blend with neroli, bergamot, frankincense, grapefruit, and palmarose essential oils.  I enjoyed the sample, but if I were to splurge on a $60+ body oil, it would still be Lina Hanson's Global Body Serum.  

Nourish Organic Coconut & Argan Body Lotion with Hibiscus
I've never been too impressed by Nourish's body lotions, but the Coconut & Argan has a slightly different formula that I like a lot more.  It's both thicker and richer, and doesn't have the strong alcohol scent I'm used to from Nourish's lotions.  I've mostly used it as a hand cream, as the mini size is perfect for carrying with you, and it's worked great.  The coconut scent isn't my favorite, but it's not an overly strong or fake coconut like a lot of others.  It reminds me of a cross between a fresh, young coconut and sunscreen.  Unfortunately, it looks like Nourish has replaced this variety with a Tropical Coconut scent, but that one doesn't have the argan oil or hibiscus extract, so I don't know how similar it is.  If you can find this version and you like coconut scents, I think it's worth picking up.

So, all in all, nothing I'm fully convinced to buy this time around, but I'm still glad to have had the chance to try these four items out.  If you've used any of them, I'd love to know what you thought!

Contains affiliate links

6 March 2015

Skincare Routine Part #1: Morning Skincare

My relationship with skincare has come a long way in the last few years.  When I first started blogging, I was much more interested in makeup and my skincare routine basically consisted of soap, moisturizer, and an occasional scrub.  I'm not sure exactly when things changed, but I've become quite the skincare enthusiast and my routine is a good bit more involved these days.  

That said, mornings are still all about quick and effective skincare for me.  Whether I'm heading out early or spending the day working from home, I generally don't want to mess with anything too slow or complicated in the morning.  If my skin is acting up, I'll add in an extra product or two, but I'm going to save talking about those for a dedicated post.  On an average day, my morning routine consists of three basic steps: cleanse, tone, and moisturize.   

I do tend to change things up fairly frequently, but - with the exception of one product that you'll see in my night routine - I've used everything in my current rotation for a minimum of three weeks.  

Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk
As part of Andalou's Age Defying line, the Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk is a gentle cleanser designed for dry and sensitive skin.  It's more of a thick cream cleanser than a cleansing milk, but it rinses away clean and doesn't feel overly heavy on my skin.  It leaves my skin feeling clean and extra soft, and it also smells yummy - like peach yogurt.  

Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Skin Tonic*
Contrary to the name, the AHA! Skin Tonic is not an exfoliating toner with AHA's, but instead a gentle, witch hazel-based tonic that serves to refresh the skin and prepare it for the next step.  It feels very light and non-sticky on the skin and I love that it doesn't contain any glycerin, as my skin sometimes reacts badly to toners with high amounts of glycerin.

Trilogy Line Smoothing Day Cream
My skin has been doing a lot better with cream moisturizers than oils this winter, so after repeatedly coming across this Trilogy moisturizer on super discount at Winners, I had to try it.  As the name suggests, the Line Smoothing Day Cream is intended to restore hydration and smooth lines.  With a blend of hyaluronic acid and avocado, olive, acai, and evening primrose oils to hydrate and nourish, and botanical hydroxypoline (an amino acid) to stimulate collagen production, improve elasticity and fight free radical damage, it sounds like a moisturizer with a lot going on.  After using it for about a month now, I haven't  noticed any dramatic line smoothing (not that I have a ton of lines/wrinkles to begin with!), but it's a good moisturizer.  The scent is light, it feels very gentle, and it does a good job hydrating the skin.  I don't know where to buy Trilogy products in Canada regularly, but if I come across it at Winners again, I'll definitely pick up a backup.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream / La Mav Anti Dark-Circle & Ultra-Firm Eye Gel*
I use these two interchangeably and out of everything in my routine, this is the one area where I'll be happy to switch to something else once these are finished.  Neither are bad products, they just haven't given me the results I was hoping for.  If you're very dry around the eyes, the La Mav - in spite of its seemingly light, gel consistency - is fantastic for hydration, and if you want an eye cream that you can immediately apply makeup on top of, the Balance Me is great in that regard.  Both do also help with minor puffiness, I just wish one of them had been able to do more for my dark circles. 

Badger Sea Buckthorn Face Oil* / Karooch Hazelnut Oil
Most mornings I use the Trilogy moisturizer and call it a day, but if my skin is feeling extra dry, I'll top the moisturizer with a couple drops of these two oils mixed together.  The Badger is super hydrating and the hazelnut oil - my absolute favorite face oil - lightens it up slightly and helps to speed up absorption.  

And there you have it: my current morning skincare routine.  I'll have posts on my nighttime skincare and occasional products and treatments I use coming up in the next couple weeks too, so stay tuned for those!

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links
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