28 July 2014

New Finds: Earthpaste, Suki, Lauren Brooke & NCLA

Today I want to talk about a few things I've been loving lately.  All of these are new-to-me finds that I haven't used for very long, but first impressions are good and I didn't want to wait any longer to share them!

Earthpaste - Lemon Twist & Spearmint
It's crazy to think I've been using Earthpaste for close to two years now!  In a lot of ways, I still feel like this glycerin-free toothpaste is a relatively new discovery.  Alas, it does explain why, after many, many tubes, my eyes were starting to wander.  Sadly, even two years in, glycerin-free toothpaste options are pretty scarce, so I was happy to discover two new-to-me flavor offerings from Earthpaste.  The lemon - "for kids of all ages" - is great if you're looking for something sweet and different from standard toothpaste flavors.  It's zesty and refreshing, but without any mint or menthol, that cool, tingly feeling isn't there.  Spearmint is way on the other end of the spectrum.  It's unsweetened and extra strong - perfect for anyone who may have complained the original Earthpaste flavors weren't minty enough. I wouldn't mind if they sweetened it a tiny bit, but I'll go with it for all the spearminty goodness this small tube is packing. 

Suki Concentrated Balancing Toner
As much of a skincare junkie as I am, I'm still not completely sold on toners.  I know all the theoretical benefits, but for every great toner I've used, I think I've tried at least two others that either did nothing for me or actually irritated my skin. One that I would recommend, however, is Suki's Concentrated Balancing Toner (renamed the Concentrated Clarifying Toner).  I have the mini, trial size and I've only been using it for about a week and a half, but I've already noticed a difference in the appearance of the pores on my nose.  Overall, my skin seems a little more even too, although I could be imagining that part.  My skin really doesn't fit the combo-to-oily recommendation for Suki's balancing products, but I get on better with products in this range than ones in their Nourishing line.  Go figure...

 Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Finishing Powder
Whether I'm wearing a powder foundation (most days) or a liquid or cream one, I always like to use a finishing powder on top.  A good one can really make a difference, and Lauren Brooke's, which I happily received in a Facebook giveaway, checks all my boxes.   It sets your makeup, and also blurs small lines and imperfections, giving your skin a slightly airbrushed finish.  It also helps to control oil and shine throughout the day and can even be reapplied several times without looking cakey or overdone. 

NCLA Nail Lacquer in Let's Stay Forever
I usually gravitate towards dark colors and the occasional bright, so Let's Stay Forever, the pastel blue polish from June's Petit Vour box, definitely fell outside my usual nail polish color palette.  And, truth be told, application is not the best.  One coat is streaky and uneven and two is a very white, milky blue, but after three coats, you hit that sweet spot.  There's no denying that it's a pale color, but once fully opaque, the polish also has a slight, almost neon brightness that's pretty stunning, and totally worth the extra effort.  I recently switched this color out on my toes in favor of Petit Vour's July offering (LVX Lolli), but I think I'll be going back to Let's Stay Forever pretty soon. 

Have you discovered any fantastic products recently?

Contains affiliate links.

22 July 2014

Sample Stash #9: Shampoo/Conditioner

I knew I'd accumulated a lot of samples recently, but it wasn't until I was able to scrounge up enough shampoo and conditioner packets to last me the entire three weeks it took for my Acure replenishment to arrive, that I realized just how out of control this sample situation has gotten.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful I had these, but it does makes me wonder just how long I could manage off my sample box alone!  (A challenge for another time, perhaps?)

I'm not always the bravest when it comes to trying new haircare products, so this was also a good nudge for me to try some new things and get a look at what's out there.  Keep reading to see what samples I had kicking around and my first impressions of each.


Seaweed Bath Co. Unscented Argan Shampoo + Citrus Argan Conditioner
So-so.  The shampoo was pretty thick and was a little difficult to work through the hair at first.  It produced a decent lather, but left my hair feeling a bit too squeaky clean when I rinsed it out.  The citrus conditioner smelled great, but it didn't give enough moisture to my hair.  When all was said and done, my curls were left looser and frizzier than I'd like.

Bröö Frizzy to Sleek Shampoo + Conditioner
Mostly nice!  The beer in Bröö's products has always seemed a little kitschy to me, but the shampoo lathered well and wasn't drying at all.  From the feel, I thought the conditioner would be too light, but it worked well also.  The duo also smells like you're walking by a Cinnabon - a mix of cinnamon, sugar and yeast (maybe from the beer?)  It's a strong scent and it hung around for two more washes before it was completely gone, so bear that in mind if you're sensitive to smells.  Unfortunately, I got a massive pimple right on my hairline the same day I tried these, so something in them obviously didn't suit. 

Himalaya Rejuvenating Shampoo + Amla & Holy Basil Conditioner
Not impressed.  The shampoo smelled fresh and minty and it worked fine, although it had a funny, jelly-like consistency.  The conditioner was, quite frankly, horrible.  It felt like I hadn't used anything and I had to use something else immediately after.  I was also not a fan of how the conditioner smelled. 

Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender Shampoo + Conditioner
I liked this one, but I'm not sure it would work for me on an every-wash basis.  I did a double wash with the shampoo and while my hair felt okay after the first wash, after the second, it was pretty dry and straw-like.  It removed some buildup that I'd been struggling to get rid of since my 30-Day #WeledaHairDare though, so that was great.  The conditioner was nice enough, but nothing spectacular.  Also worth mentioning is that the lavender scent of both products was a win.  It smelled like real lavender, not the perfumey imitations that you sometimes get, even in natural products.  I like to keep a more clarifying shampoo on hand for occasional use and I think I'll be picking this up - or another of Avalon's shampoos - for that purpose. 

Rahua Original Shampoo + Conditioner
A total letdown!  Rahua has gotten a lot of hype, but neither product especially impressed me, and they both smelled heavily of palo santo.  Palo santo is often described as a smokey/woodsy scent similar to sandalwood or cedar, but to me it always has notes of burnt rubber as well.  Sadly, the smell lingered and was strong enough to give me a headache.  I ended up taking a second shower within a couple hours just to wash it out!

Green People Intensive Repair Conditioner
I only tried the conditioner here, but it was lovely.  The scent is pretty flowery, but not offensive - even to a non-floral lover like me - and it left my hair feeling very soft and my curls well defined.  Green People isn't the easiest to get one's hands on here, but I'd consider buying it in the future.  

John Masters Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo + Hair Reconstructor
So good!  I've tried several different John Masters shampoos and conditioners and have always been underwhelmed until this set.  These are really all around lovely.  The shampoo is slightly creamy and the conditioner is great too.  The duo is intended for dry/damaged hair and offers the perfect amount of moisture - eliminating frizz and defining my curls without weighing them down.  The scent is floral and a little perfumey, but hibiscus is a scent that usually works for me, and this one was no different.  The only thing stopping me from scooping these up immediately is the price.  At $26 for 6 ounces of shampoo and $28 for 4 ounces of conditioner, they're John Masters' most costly range.  I'm holding off for a sale! 

Green Beaver Cranberry Delight Shampoo + Conditioner
There are Green Beaver products I love, but unfortunately, the shampoo and conditioner didn't make it onto that list.  The shampoo was another one that I struggled to distribute through my hair, and perhaps for that reason, I didn't feel like it cleaned my scalp very well.  The conditioner was a little better, but ultimately too light for my hair.  The duo left my hair okay in terms of frizz, but while I initially had good curls, they ended up falling pretty flat within 2-3 hours of drying.  

The Bottom Line
So many samples!!  After testing all these, I'm still feeling pretty loyal to my Acure Argan + Argan Stem Cell duo, which I think says a lot about just how good those are.  Out of the all these samples, the only ones I can see myself buying are the John Masters (if I'm feeling flush), the Andalou Naturals (as an occasional clarifying shampoo) and maybe the Green People conditioner (if I was already placing an order from the UK).  The rest will be getting the pass from me.  

Because of my curls, I think haircare is possibly one area where I'm pickier than the average consumer, so do bear that in mind.

Have you used any of these?  What's your favorite shampoo/conditioner?
Contains affiliate links.

19 July 2014

Petit Vour Set Sail Box (July 2014)

I was super impressed by Petit Vour's June box, so was really happy to be sent the July one as well.  If you aren't already familiar with it, Petit Vour is a monthly vegan and cruelty free beauty box subscription.  For July's box*, they teamed up with Tashina from Logical Harmony, a vegan lifestyle and beauty blog, to curate a selection of ultimate summer must-haves.  I don't read a lot of vegan blogs, but I actually do read Tashina's, so I was excited to see what goodies she would choose!

LVX Nail Lacquer in Lolli ($16)
I haven't tried these 5-free nail polishes before, but I've heard good things.  Lolli is a pretty pastel pink that, again, is unlike anything else in my small nail polish collection.  I still have the NCLA polish from last month's Petit Vour on my toes, but I'll be swapping it out for this one some time over the weekend.

Pelle Beauty Luxe Face Oil (Sample Value ±$8.50)
Pelle Beauty is actually a local company for me, so it was nice to see their oil included in a US subscription box!  Again, it's a brand I'm familiar with but one I haven't used before.  I believe subscribers received one of a few different oils from Pelle's line and my box included Luxe, an anti-aging oil recommended for all skin types.  The blend contains new-to-me cucumber seed and babassu oils, as well as meadowfoam, ricebran, and fractionated coconut oils, and essential oils of neroli, jasmine, rose, ylang ylang, and sandalwood.  I love testing out new face oils, so I'm happy to see this included in the box.

Modern Minerals Eye Shadow in Cherish ($12.50)
I love mineral eye shadows!  Boxes contained one of a few different shades and I received Cherish, which is a pretty neutral shade, falling somewhere between a shimmery copper and a rose gold.  Modern Minerals leaves out unnecessary fillers like bismuth oxychloride, but this particular color does contain aluminum powder, which I'm a little iffy on.  It's definitely not the worst ingredient out there, but it is one I usually steer clear of.  Tashina posted an eye look using Cherish in the crease, if you'd like a better look at the color.   

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant in Lavender + Sage (Sample Value ±$2.25)
I've used Schmidt's deodorant before and it works really well.  The formula relies on baking soda and arrowroot powder for odor protection and moisture absorption and uses a gentle base of shea and cocoa butters.   I actually already have a full size of the Lavender + Sage, so am planning to pass this sample on to a friend.

Another great box from Petit Vour!  

Boxes retail for  $15 (US) / $23 (Canada) / $30 (International) and with an approximate value of $39.25, you're more than getting your money's worth, wherever you're purchasing from.  I'm really happy to see that Petit Vour is choosing to focus not only on vegan and cruelty free products, but also on natural ones.  Both boxes I've received have been really well curated, with a good mix of skincare, body care, and makeup and a combination of full size and sample items.  I also love that they include both well known and smaller brands.  

Have you tried Petit Vour yet?

*Press Sample

15 July 2014

The Curly Girl Edit: Hair Gel

I've written about my love of Intelligent Nutrients' Organic Styling Gel numerous times before, but after cringing over the price one repurchase too many, I decided it was time to hunt out a more budget friendly option. 

For a little background, my hair is curly, but not coarse or super thick.  Those people who talk about curly hair needing moisture and rich styling products?  So not me.  My hair does best with hydrating shampoos and conditioners, yes, but lighter leave-ins and styling products.  Anything too rich or creamy just leave my hair feeling heavy and weighed down.

Let's get to today's contenders:

Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz
I emptied my first bottle of this a couple months ago and the speed with which I rushed to replenish my supply is pretty telling.  The Spiral Spritz, which is a hybrid between a gel and a serum, feels very much like straight aloe vera gel, though it also contains lavender water, extracts of horsetail, nettle, and sage, glycerin, and Vitamin B-5.  In terms of hold, it's pretty light.  It feels soft on the hair and is not crunchy, but it still gives some control and definition.   It's by no means a strong hold and it can struggle in intense humidity, but overall I'm pretty happy with it.  It's not a scented product, but it does have a slight scent from the natural ingredients. 

Andalou Naturals Sunflower & Citrus Medium Hold Styling Gel
Like the Kinky Curly, Andalou's gel is aloe based, but that's where the similarities end.  Andalou has gotten a good amount of hype in the green blogging/vlogging world recently and I had pretty high expectations for this product.  Sadly, it did not deliver.  At all.  First off, the gel feels incredibly sticky as you apply it, which makes it a challenge to work through the hair.  Then, it dries super crunchy.  And, if that's not bad enough, after a few hours, it progresses from crunchy to just dirty.  As in, I don't want to touch my hair because it feels so disgustingly dirty and grotty.  It isn't greasy - if anything the opposite - like my hair has some kind of dusty/sooty coating.   About the only nice thing I can think of to say about this product is that it smells good - fresh and citrusy.

Innersense Quiet Calm Curl Control
I'm a lot more used to gels than curling creams, so the consistency of this one took a little getting used to.  It's a cream, but not overly heavy - basically the consistency of a light conditioner.  The scent is a mild citrus with a hint of something medicinal - it reminds me of chewable Vitamin C tablets.  The cream does a good job defining my curls and helps control frizz, but unfortunately, it was still a little heavy for my hair.

It does, however, work great as a rinse out product.  If you saw my June empties, it won't come as a surprise that I completed depleted my supply of conditioner and was left scrambling for something to use.  After remembering my first impressions of this guy (read: conditioner-like), I gave it a whirl in the shower.  Because of how light it is, I need to use more product than I would with a richer conditioner, but nonetheless, it works well.  The ingredients are actually pretty similar to a regular conditioner, so I guess it makes sense.

Silk Naturals Make Waves Curling Hair Gel
I wasn't really sure what to expect from this one, but clearly I'm a sucker for products that are specifically targeted to us curly girls.  Xantham gum gives a soft hold, while argan and avocado oils offer a touch of moisture.  On application, the gel feels a little tacky, which, after the disaster that was the Andalou, had me worrieded, but happily it dries fine, without any sticky feeling.  If you use a lot of product, it can leave your hair feeling a little crunchy, but nothing too bad.  It has no scent and really shines in humidity.  Great definition and frizz control, no matter how humid it is. 

It's happening: hair gel swatches
The Bottom Line
A bit of a mixed bag and if I'm completely honest, I'm not sure any of these quite live up to the awesomeness that is the Intelligent Nutrients gel.  I'm on my second bottle of Kinky Curly and I'm sticking with it for now, as while I probably like the Silk Naturals Curling Hair Gel slightly more, it's more expensive and less accessible.  It just isn't a big enough difference to justify the extra cost and effort of keeping it on hand.  I will, however, make a point to pick up a bottle next spring, since it works so well in humidity.  The Innersense will get used up - because who needs more so-so products just hanging around - but not repurchased.   And, I fear the Andalou is destined to gather dust until my next big declutter.

Have you used any of these?  What are your favorite styling products?

Contains affiliate links

9 July 2014

Sample Stash #8: Graydon Clinical Luxury By Nature

If you saw the interview earlier this week, you'll already know that I had the chance to meet Graydon of Graydon Clinical Luxury by Nature at the end of May.  What I failed to mention in that post is how Graydon spoiled me with product samples.  Before this, my experience with the line was limited to the Face Food Mineral Mist, so I was excited to dive into all these goodies!  Here's what I thought of everything...

Probably the product I was most excited to try!  It's a cream cleanser with a light, refreshing citrus scent that easily breaks down makeup and doesn't sting the eyes.  It actually reminded me a lot of Pai's iconic cleanser,  in terms of feel, but 10x better for those of us who don't love rosey floral scents.  

The Serum
The Serum is jam packed with tons of Canadian berry goodness - 50 pounds worth in every bottle!  It's a mix of cranberry, blueberry and raspberry seed oils, rich in antioxidants and omegas.  The oil is light in texture and for my skin, it wasn't quite enough on its own.  It layers really well under other oils or creams though, which is how I've been using it.  

Berry Rich Cream
The Berry Rich Cream takes the same gorgeous berry oils as the serum and sticks them in a cream.  I love the idea and ingredients, but I didn't end up being crazy about this one.  I felt like the cream just sat on top of my skin and never really absorbed.  Maybe it would work better for me in the winter?

The Green Cream
The star ingredient here is brocolli seed oil, which along with chlorophyll and avocado oil, gives the cream a lovely cheery mint hue.  The Green Cream gives a lighter hydration that is perfect on top of The Serum or another face oil. It smells herbal from parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, but it's a light, fresh scent.  

Super Sensitive Skin Stuff
Designed specifically for sensitive skin, this is a super gentle moisturizer without any essential oils or scent.  It's has a light consistency and is probably the quickest absorbing of Graydon's four moisturizers.  

The Putty
Another soothing option, The Putty is great for extra dry or irritated skin.  It has the thickest, heaviest texture of all the creams, but it's still not overly heavy.  It also penetrated and absorbed better for me than the Berry Rich Cream and was great on both the face and any dry patches on the body.  I know Mary of Makeup by Mary B likes using The Putty as a hand cream.

Photo Credit
All Over Soap + Shampoo
I used my sample as body wash, and it was really nice.  I didn't need much to get a great lather and it was gentle and non-drying.   

All Over Face + Body Lotion
With so many other moisturizer options, I didn't end up using this one on my face, but as a body lotion, it worked great.  

All Over Body Oil
First off, this smells so good!  It's a mix of lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood that's lovely and soothing.  It makes a fantastic body oil, either on dry or wet skin, and Graydon says you can also use it as an oil cleanser for your face.  I was fully prepared to scoop up a bottle of this until I checked the ingredients again and saw soy oil.  Now I'm conflicted.  It's a bit of a knee jerk for me and strictly personal preference, but soy oil is not something I like seeing in my products, so while I enjoyed the sample (a lot!), as it stands right now, it's probably not something I'll be purchasing.  
ETA: I've just learned that the soy oil is organic and GMO-free, which is a big step up from the alternative!

Hand + Foot Relief
I get dry feet, so I'm a huge fan of foot creams.  Hand + Foot Relief is infused with Graydon's Germs Away AromaBlend, which lends a spicy peppermint scent and provides antimicrobial action to help kill topical germs.  The cream is lighter than a lot of foot creams, but it still manages to really hydrate.  It also works well on hands.

Hair Smoothie
I don't think either Graydon or I was expecting my curly hair to get on especially well with this product, but I ended up really liking it.  It's light, but it still gave enough moisture to my hair.  It also has the same broccoli seed oil and chlorophyll that I liked so much in The Green Cream.  

Sun Cream
The Sun Cream is probably the least fussy natural sunscreen I've ever used.  It's creamy and does take a minute to work into the skin fully, but once you've done that, it's pretty well invisible.  No whitecase and no oily shine.  The sun protection comes from zinc oxide, but the cream also includes sun reflective oils like raspberry seed and cherry kernal, as well as antioxidant green tea to protect against UV damage.  

As kind of the glammed up version of the Sun Cream, Glow contains mica, which imparts a subtle, golden glow.  It's not overly shimmery, but overall, I think I preferred the invisibile Sun Cream for my face.  Glow is super pretty on the shoulders and decollete though. 

In Summary...
It was lovely meeting Graydon and learning more about both her and her product line, which embodies a lot of what I'm most drawn to in green beauty - simple, plant-based ingredients, but ones that are potent and deliver real results.  Scents across the line are essential oil-based and fairly light and there's a good variety of products to suit virtually anyone.  

The skincare definitely stood out for me more than the body products, but those are great within their own right too.  Top of my list would be The Cleanser, The Green Cream, and The Putty, but the Hair Smoothie and Sun Cream are not far behind!

Have you tried anything from Graydon?

(P.S. I've gotten a couple questions since the last post on how internationals can get their hands on Graydon products.  Clementine Fields stocks most of the line and offers worldwide shipping) 

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