3 July 2015

Easy DIY Witch Hazel Aftershave (No More Razor Bumps!)

Come summer, many of us are a little more vigilant about hair removal.  I love the warmer temperatures, but one thing I could do without is the ongoing struggle with irritation, razor bumps and ingrown hairs.  I've tried a few different home remedies in the past, but nothing's has worked as well as I'd hoped.  This year, after consulting the ingredients of a few hyped up conventional products, I decided to try my hand at a DIY version using only clean, natural ingredients.  And I'm happy to say, it worked out splendidly.

Ingredients varied across products on the store shelf, but what they all had in common was that they were astringent formulas generally containing some combination of alcohol, witch hazel, and/or salicylic acid.  For the base of my DIY version, I used a witch hazel astringent with 14% alcohol.  (It's important to use a traditional, alcohol-based witch hazel here.  Alcohol free options will not be as effective.)  I chose not to add any additional alcohol, though doing so would probably put your formula closer to the on-the-shelf varieties.  I added lavender essential oil and zinc oxide for their skin soothing properties and glycerin to compensate for any drying effects of the witch hazel.  The menthol content of eucalyptus essential oil imparts a mild, cooling sensation.  

Witch Hazel Aftershave
4 ounces witch hazel astringent
1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin
6 drops eucalyptus essential oil
6 drops lavender essential oil
1/8 teaspoon zinc oxide

It really is one of the simplest DIY's ever.  Just add everything into a (preferably glass) bottle and shake to combine.  For simplicity's sake, as well as ingredient purity, I didn't include an emulsifier, so both the essential oils and zinc oxide do separate.  Give it a good shake before each use and you're good to go.  I recommend using it right after shaving or waxing and for at least one or two consecutive days after.  

Let me know if you give it a try!
Contains affiliate links

2 July 2015

Juice Organics PomWash Exfoliating Facial Cleanser

I debated whether or not it was worth posting this review since you may or may not actually be able to get your hands on this product, but I'm so taken with this cleanser that I decided to chance it!  Juice Organics is a more affordable subset of Juice Beauty, and while the Juice Organics hair care line has recently been expanded, the skincare range looks to have been discontinued.  Nonetheless, I continue to see this cleanser - and the company's other skincare items - at Winners (with expiry dates several years in the future), and I'd venture to guess they make appearances at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls in the U.S. too.

The PomWash Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is a lathering face wash that's intended to gently refine and exfoliate the skin with papaya and pineapple enzymes.  Like a foaming hand soap, the cleanser has a thin, watery consistency in the bottle, that's then aerated through the pump into a light foam.  

In place of water, the cleanser is made with aloe vera and antioxidant-rich white grape and pomegranate juices.  The foaming action comes from decyl glucoside, a gentle sugar-derived surfactant that's often found in baby shampoos and sensitive skin products.  The ingredients also list peach extract and the cleanser has a fairly strong peach-berry scent.  Initially, I found it a little overpowering, but it's grown on me over the last couple weeks and now I actually really like it.  The scent reminds me a lot of Celestial Seasonings Country Peach Passion tea, if you've ever smelled that.

When I'm able, I like to take a good couple minutes to thoroughly massage the PomWash onto my face, giving the enzymes a little extra time to work their magic.  The foam has great slip and rinses away easily and without leaving behind any residue.  As I've said before, my skin is normal-to-dry, though I'm also prone to clogged pores and congestion.  Allantoin and vitamin B5 in the PomWash help the skin retain moisture, so unlike a lot of other foaming cleansers, it isn't drying.  I've also noticed my pores have started looking smaller and cleaner since I've been using it.  In terms of makeup removal, the PomWash does fine with face makeup, but because of the enzymes, I wouldn't suggest using it around the eyes.  

The Bottom Line
The PomWash Exfoliating Facial Cleanser is an excellent product that I wish was still readily available.  It's the gentlest foaming cleanser I've used to date and it does a great job lightly exfoliating and thoroughly cleansing without drying or stripping the skin.  If you can find it, I highly recommend giving this cleanser a try!

*Contains affiliate links.

1 July 2015

June 2015 Empties / Products I've Used Up

I feel like I just posted my May empties, but it's that time again!  This month I finished up a good mix of skincare and body care, as well as a couple hair and makeup items.  

Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk
I've tried a number of Andalou Naturals products over the last few months and the Apricot Cleansing Milk is one of my favorite discoveries from the brand.  With a rich cream consistency, it feels very gentle and hydrating and glides over the skin effortlessly.  It's not the best for removing makeup, but I like it a lot as a morning cleanse or following another makeup remover.  
Repurchase? I haven't so far, but I can certainly see myself coming back to this cleanser in the future.

Holiskin Citrus Passion Body Oil*   [Review]
A great body oil that absorbs quickly and leaves skin feeling super silky and soft.  Very moisturizing, but still lightweight - enough so that I even used it on dry skin some of the time.  The Citrus Passion scent mostly smelled like lime to me and I loved it for the spring/summertime.  
Repurchase? I'm seriously considering it.

Green Beaver Frosty Mint Extra Gentle Castile Sunflower Soap
I've gone through a number of these bars and I like them.  The blend of coconut, sunflower, and castor seed oils is non-drying and makes a great creamy lather.  This particular bar did suffer from a mild case of Dreaded Orange Spots, which while usually just an aesthetic problem, is something I'm not sure how I feel about in a commercial soap.  
Repurchase? I don't know.

Carina Daily Moisturizing Shampoo
Not my favorite shampoo, although it did smell great.  I used maybe a third of the bottle on my hair and delegated the rest to makeup brush washing duty.  It did well in that capacity, but with palm oil as the second ingredient - after water - it isn't something I'd buy again.
Repurchase? No.

Balanced Guru Tone It Deeply, Smoothly and Lightly   [Review]
I'm really happy I tried these trial size toners from Balanced Guru.  My favorite of the three was Tone It Lightly, a purifying toner that did a fantastic job refreshing the skin and keeping pores clean.  I also enjoyed using Tone It Smoothly, mainly in combination with different face masks.  Tone It Deeply was less of a hit for me, but still an okay product.  
Repurchase? Possibly.  I've especially missed using Tone It Lightly since finishing these.

Black Rose Minerals Zealous Eye Shadow (sample)   [Review]
Black Rose Minerals eye shadows are great quality: smooth, pigmented, and easy to blend.  Zealous was a pearly cream/pale gold color that made an excellent inner corner highlight. 
Repurchase? Maybe.  I wouldn't place an order just for this color, but if I was ordering already...

Silk Naturals Cucumber Peptide Eye Cream (sample)
I've never really ventured into Silk Naturals skincare, but I was curious about this eye cream for the peptides, which usually only appear in much more costly lines.  The sample lasted about a week and a half with twice daily use and I didn't notice much difference during that time.  Perhaps using it for longer would yield better results, but I wasn't impressed enough to buy more right away.
Repurchase? Probably not.  

Weleda Citrus Deodorant   [Review]
I like the Weleda deodorants, particularly for combining with other deodorants that might need a little extra boost.  They're a little expensive for what they are - water, alcohol and essential oils - but they work well and a bottle lasts ages, so I do think they're worth the price.  
Repurchase? I haven't so far, but I'm sure I will at some point.  

Karooch Hazelnut Oil
Hazelnut oil is one of my skin's favorite oils.  It's an ingredient in a number of my favorite face oil blends and I loved using the single oil as well.   I used it on its own and also enjoyed mixing a few drops into different oils and creams.  
Repurchase? Definitely will buy again, although Karooch doesn't seem to sell it anymore.

Earthpaste Wintergreen Toothpaste   [Review]
This was probably my tenth tube of Earthpaste.   Obviously I like it, but I wish there were more flavors as I'm getting a little tired of the current options.  Nonetheless, I'll continue to buy it until I find another affordable glycerin-free toothpaste that I like just as much.
Repurchase? Yes, I already have.

Rocky Mountain Soap Vanilla Candy Cane Lip Butter   [Review]
This lip butter came as part of a limited edition holiday set and I really enjoyed it.  I liked it in the winter, but I've enjoyed it even more since the weather has warmed up.  With warmer temperatures, the texture became just a bit softer and butterier which resulted in a slightly thicker application onto the lips that I preferred.  
Repurchase? Yes!  I'd buy this again come winter, or maybe sooner in a different scent.

One Love Organics Vitamin E Eye Balm and Morning Glory Serum (samples)
There's been a lot of blogger love for the Vitamin E Eye Balm, but it didn't do it for me.  It's a pretty solid balm that needs to be softened between your fingers before applying onto the face.  Not a dealbreaker in and of itself, but I didn't notice any great results, so it doesn't seem worth the extra effort.  I did enjoy Morning Glory, though it's been significantly reformulated since this sample.  I haven't tried the current version to compare.
Repurchase? No.  

Dr. Alkaitis Eye Creme (sample)
With great reviews and wonderful ingredients, I really wanted to like this eye cream, but it stung the heck out of my eyes!  I ended up using most of the sample on my body.
Repurchase? No.

Total Products Used Up in June
Skincare:  3 (Lip Balms: 1 )
Bodycare: 4

Haircare:  1
Makeup: 0
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 7
Makeup Samples: 1

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 21 (Lip Balms: 7)
Bodycare: 24

Haircare:  6
Makeup: 9
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 49 

Makeup Samples: 12

*Press sample
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30 June 2015

Tough to Transition: Medicated Lip Balm

In the four years (!!) since I started this blog, I've gotten a lot of emails and questions about product recommendations, and more specifically, about natural replacements for certain types of products.  With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts encompassing some common questions I've received, as well as some of the products I personally found most difficult to transition to natural and nontoxic options.  Starting us off, let's talk about a product that doesn't get mentioned very much: medicated lip balm.

What's so wrong with medicated lip balm?
In addition to the regular nasties found in conventional lip balm - things like petroleum, silicones, parabens, and synthetic fragrance - medicated lip balms contain ingredients like phenol, an antibacterial and analgesic ingredient linked to neurotoxicity and respiratory, kidney, and cardiovascular problems, docosanol, a topical drug that's been linked to headaches and has not yet been tested for safety with pregnant and breastfeeding women, and chemical sunscreens, linked to free radical damage, cancer, and endocrine and hormone imbalances.  And consider this - the labels on both ChapStick and Blistex Medicated Lip Balms include warnings to "Keep out of reach of children.  If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away."  Now, I'm sure they're referring to swallowing larger quantities than a couple swipes across your lips, but do you really want to be putting something with a poison control warning on your mouth??
I'll be totally honest: I've never used a conventional medicated lip balm.  But, from what I've seen, people opt for these choices over regular lip balm for one of three basic reasons: i) to treat cold sores, ii) for sun protection (SPF), or iii) because they like the tingle and/or numbing sensation from phenol, menthol, eucalyptus, camphor, and/or mint.  

So, with that in mind, I've got replacement options to suit all three uses.  I've tried most of them personally, but a couple I've included just based on ingredients and positive hearsay.   

I  also want to mention that I came across more than one article on the habit-forming nature of ingredients like phenol in lip balm, so if you're making the switch, keep in mind that it may take some time to break your lips of that dependency.

Lip Balms for Cold Sores
There's a ton of anecdotal evidence about treating cold sores with the amino acid lysine.  Lysine won't cure the actual herpes virus behind the cold sore, but it's a popular holistic treatment for outbreaks and can both prevent the onset of a sore, if caught early enough, and speed up healing time of any sores that do erupt.  (Along with applying it topically, lysine is great to take internally for cold sores too.)  Other good ingredients to watch for when targeting cold sores are tamanu oil, melissa/lemon balm, and tea tree.  

I don't recommend the popular Quantum lysine lip balms due to their chemical sunscreen content, but MyChelle makes a great alternative.  The Love Your Lips Lip Balms come in four flavors and are made with both lysine and lemon balm.  They don't have any listed SPF content, but they do contain titanium dioxide, so there's a good chance you're getting at least minimal sun protection.

Badger's new Tea Tree & Lemon Balm Herbal Lip Care is another great choice and certified organic as well.  Along with tea tree and lemon balm, it also contains tamanu oil and peppermint oil and menthol crystals for a refreshing minty tingle.  The Herbal Lip Care is available in both Badger's classic lip balm and cocoa butter lip balm formulas.  

Lastly, the Sierra Bees Organic Tamanu & Tea Tree Lip Balm is another good one, although bear in mind that this one does have a pretty strong tea tree oil taste.  It also doesn't seem to be sold on its own right now, just in the Sierra Bees Variety Pack.  

Lip Balms with SPF
As I said before, chemical sunscreens are not ingredients I favor, so these two picks both offer mineral-based sun protection.  My top choice is the Hurraw! Sun Protection Balm with SPF 15, which smells great and is made with non-nano zinc oxide.  It goes on clear, without any whitecast, and is also made with red raspberry seed, sea buckthorn, and pomegranate seed oils, which have SPF and antioxidant properties of their own.

Badger is the first company I think of when it comes to safe sunscreen and their Sunscreen Lip Balm Stick (SPF 15), made with non-nano uncoated zinc oxide, is another good option.  It's unscented and more longwearing than the Hurraw!, but it can leave a whitecast on your lips.  For that reason, this is a great one for layering under a colored lip product.

Lip Balms with a Minty Tingle
The Hurraw! Mint Lip Balm is not for the faint of heart!  I finished my tube a while back, but I remember not wanting to venture outside in the winter with this on because of just how cold and minty it felt on my lips.

For slightly less punch, but still a decent minty tingle, Portland Bee Balm's Oregon Mint Lip Balm is an excellent choice.  With only four ingredients, the peppermint is noticeably tingly, but not as strong as in the Hurraw!  

On the more mild end of the spectrum, Epic Blend's Mint Hemp Lip Balm is fantastic.  It gives just the slightest tingle, but moisturizes like a dream and has a wonderful fresh peppermint/spearmint scent that reminds me of chewing gum. 

Burt's Bees Soothing Lip Balm with Eucalyptus and Menthol also sounds promising, though I haven't used it myself to gauge how strong the cooling sensation actually is. 

And that's a wrap!  Let me know if there are any particular kinds of products you'd like to see featured in upcoming posts for this series.   

Contains affiliate links

29 June 2015

A Sunny Pedicure for Summer

I'm not one for professional pedicures, but I do enjoy taking a little extra time to do my own, at home version.  I don't think we appreciate just how much of a beating our feet take until sandal season is upon us, but those tootsies definitely deserve some TLC too!  I've gotten into a bit of a routine with my feet pampering products recently, so I thought I'd share those with you, as well as a new nail polish find that's perfect for summer.  

Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover
Switching from conventional nail polish remover is a challenge, but Priti makes it a little easier.  Along with the toxins, you can say goodbye to dried out nails and that horrible acetone smell.  The Soy Nail Polish Remover actually leaves your nails feeling moisturized and cared for, and rather than smelling like chemical solvents, it has a subtle lemongrass scent.   (There's also an unscented version available.)  And, yes, it actually works too.  You'll want to allow a little extra time for glitter polishes, but everything else comes off pretty darn easily.

Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polish*
I love a good DIY scrub, but there's something extra special about the Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polishes.  Aside from smelling great - this one is the company's signature vanilla/citrus scent - they also have the most perfect consistency.  There's no separating, and with ingredients like shea butter and Moroccan lava clay, the texture is buttery rather than oily, like you find with a lot of other scrubs.  The sugar crystals are gentle enough for your entire body, but with a little extra buffing, they easily take on rough, seasoned feet too. 

Ellovi Mint Chocolate Butter
I've been savoring this small sample that came in a Petit Vour box several months back and happily a small amount goes a long way with this product, so it's still hanging on.  With only six ingredients - macadamia oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, non-GMO corn starch, and peppermint essential oil - Ellovi Butter is a smooth, rich moisturizer that actually has the consistency of soft butter.  It's an intense moisturizer that melts into the skin beautifully and is perfect for feet or other extra dry spots, though you could, of course, use it on the rest of your body too.  I also can't get enough of the Mint Chocolate scent.  It's reminiscent of Thin Mints or mint chocolate chip ice cream: minty and chocolatey, but not overly sweet or cloying.  

Sheswai Lacquer in Good Vibes
Early this spring, I got a random yearning for a particular shade of yellow nail polish - something bright (but not neon) and with a cream finish - and ever since then, I've been on the hunt for what's turned out to be a surprisingly illusive shade.  So, when I spotted Good Vibes on sale from Clementine Fields, I quickly snagged a bottle.  I will say, while the color is on point, the formula isn't the best.  This is the only Sheswai polish I've used, so I don't know if it's the individual color or the entire line, but Good Vibes needs a little more work than your average nail polish.  I wasn't at all impressed the first time I wore it, but after redoing my nails, I've realized the key is multiple thin coats and plenty of drying time in between.  It's certainly a fussier polish, as yellow polishes tend to be, but the color really is beautiful for this time of year.

Pacifica 7 Free Gloss Top & Base Coat
I bought this a couple months ago and I have nothing bad to say about it.  It's great as a base coat to prevent staining and also as a top coat, lending a great, glossy finish.  And, it also works well to smooth out rougher glitter polishes and dries pretty quickly too.  I'll definitely be trying more Pacifica polishes in the future!

The nail polishes may change, but the rest of the products stay pretty constant.  What are your mani/pedi essentials?

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

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