7 February 2018

Mid-Winter Favorites (ft. Apoterra Skincare, POLYN, Mabrook & Co., Brija Cosmetics + More!)

Winter’s more than half over, so I wanted to share some of the products I’ve been loving the last few months, ever since the weather turned colder.  If you keep up with me on Instagram, some of these may look familiar...

Apoterra Skincare Neroli Clarifying Toner
Part of Apoterra’s Clarifying line for oily/acne-prone skin, the Neroli Toner is made with vitamin C, green tea, niacinamide, and willow bark extract, housed in a base of aloe vera and neroli, helichrysum, rock rose, and thyme hydrosols.  It’s a beautiful product and one I’ve fallen back in love with over the last few weeks.  The toner smells fantastic -- mostly like neroli -- and is gently clarifying.  It’s hydrating as well, with ingredients that target redness and inflammation, increase cell turnover, and boost overall skin luminosity.  It leaves my skin looking healthy and glowy and, in combination with the next product, has made my face super smooth and even, with virtually no skin texture issues remaining.  The toner also helps regulate oil production and I feel less need to blot throughout the day since reincorporating this product into my routine.  

Consonant Skincare Maximum Glycolic Meta Serum
I reviewed Consonant’s Natural Skin Renewal Kit at the beginning of January, and while I liked all three products in the kit, the Maximum Glycolic Meta Serum has become my hands-down favorite.   I gradually built up to using the serum every night and my skin looks fantastic -- which, like I said, I fully credit to a combination of this product and the Apoterra toner.  Acid products can often feel harsh or drying, but the Meta Serum is truly non-irritating, despite being formulated with a full 10% glycolic acid.  In fact, made with sodium PCA, niacinamide, and soothing botanicals, it even functions as a light hydrating serum too!  I’m still working on the mini from the kit, but I’m fairly certain I’ll be buying the full size as soon as it runs out.  

Mabrook & Co. Sensitive Deodorant
I go back and forth on the whole baking soda/no baking soda thing, but wherever you stand on the issue, Mabrook & Co.’s new Sensitive Deodorant is one worth trying.  The formula is unscented and baking soda free, but still ultra effective.  It relies on a combination of magnesium and kaolin clay for odor protection, and also includes shea butter to soothe and calm sensitive skin.  As well as being a good deodorant, the formula has also cleared up a lot of the shaving-related irritation I tend to get in my pits.  I used an entire mini stick already and was quick to replace it with a full size tube.

Duckish Lotion Sticks
Winter dry skin is the worst!  When I started seeing flakes of skin on the inside of my black pants at the end of the day (sidebar: eww!), I knew I needed to get a lot more diligent with my moisturizing.  Enter Duckish’s Lotion Sticks, which I’ve raved about many times before.  The sticks are solid in the tube, but they glide on like butter and melt into the skin beautifully.  A mix of grapeseed, coconut, olive, almond, and jojoba oils deeply moisturize, while beeswax and shea butter create a protective barrier to seal that moisture in.  The result?  Happy skin and no more yucky shedding.

Brija Cosmetics You Know Who Face Highlight
You Know Who, part of Brija’s Harry Potter collection, is another rediscovered favorite: a beautiful pale cream highlight with gold, silver and blue iridescence.  It’s perfect for fair skin and works as both a subtle glow and an in-your-face highlight, depending on how heavily you apply it.  I love using it for a targeted glow, especially with the more matte foundations I’ve been favoring over the last few months.

POLYN Purifying Face Mask
Although it’s called a mask, the Purifying Face Mask is really a dual product that can be used as a powdered cleanser/scrub and either rinsed off or left on to dry as a mask.  Mixed with just water, it offers pretty intense exfoliation.  I like to use the product this way about once a week, carefully exfoliating and then leaving it on for 5-10 minutes as a mask.  A mix of, among other things, bentonite clay, rice flour, adzuki beans, rosehip, and green tea do a fantastic job sloughing off dead skin, leaving everything smooth and soft to the touch.  The clay, when left on as a mask, also sucks up excess dirt and oil.  When not using it as a mask, I also like mixing a small amount of the powder into a creamy cleanser for a more gentle scrub.  

Homemade Bar Soap
I attended a cold process soap making workshop at The Cure Apothecary in December and came home with a loaf of soap to cure, use, and share.  The scent, which started out as bergamot and spearmint, didn't last very well through the curing process, but it's still a lovely, if mostly unscented, soap -- mild and non-drying with a good creamy lather.  Further soap experiments probably won't happen any time soon, but I had a lot of fun making these and it's a craft I definitely want to explore more at some point in the future.

What products have you been loving this winter?

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24 January 2018

Savvy Minerals by Young Living: Reviewing (Almost) the Entire Line!

Young Living is my favourite essential oil company, so when they debuted a small makeup line, Savvy Minerals, last year, I was pretty excited to check it out. The line consists mainly of loose mineral powders, plus lip products, a mascara, and a setting spray. Everything is free of the regular nasties and made without synthetic fillers or mineral irritants like bismuth oxychloride. My mom is a big Young Living oiler, and she kindly gifted me several of these products. The remainder I was able to borrow and test out from her stash for the sake of including them in the review.

Before we get into the products themselves, I do want to address the elephant in the room. Yes, Young Living is a multi-level marketing company. Yes, I am a distributor, and yes, I’d be happy to help you get their products. BUT, I’ve never been a shill, nor do I sugarcoat my opinions because of brand affiliations. Today’s review is no different.  It’s an honest look at the new Savvy Minerals line -- some products I really like, some I’m a little less sure of, and one that I didn’t get on with at all. Keep reading for all the details...

Foundation Powder - Cool No. 1
The Savvy Minerals Foundation is marketed as a long-wearing mineral foundation with a buildable formula that can go from sheer to full coverage. It’s a solid foundation, but I don’t think it fully lives up to those claims. To me, it’s a nice lightweight, natural, low-coverage mineral foundation. It has a beautiful finish -- satin with a slight luminosity -- but only offers light to low-medium coverage. I’ve tried it with a few different brushes and I don’t think there’s any way to build this foundation up to a full coverage.

The colour range is also somewhat limited, with six light to medium shades (three cool and three warm), and four darker.  As I always say, hopefully the shade range will be extended in the future.  I chose the color Cool No. 1, the lightest cool shade, which is pretty pink in comparison to my usual more neutral foundation colours, but it does match me and blend into my skin nicely. Cool No. 1 is light enough that I could probably go up a shade in the summer. 

Diamond Dust Veil
The Diamond Dust is advertised as a lightweight and sheer setting powder/mineral veil intended to extend makeup wear time, absorb excess oil, and add luminosity to the skin while blurring fine lines and imperfections. I love a good luminous setting powder, and while the Diamond Dust has a pretty finish on the skin, it also has plenty of actual glitter particles. I just can’t do glitter all over my face, so it’s a big no from me on this one.

Blush -- Smashing
Smashing is a super pretty blush and is one of the more unique colors I’ve seen in the Savvy Minerals lineup. On first glance, it’s a pretty standard coral/peachy-pink, but it has a hint of cool silver/blue iridescence that brings a lot of extra interest to the shade. The blush blends easily and looks super pretty on the cheeks. Smashing is quite glowy and can definitely function as a 2-in-1 blush and highlight.

(L to R) Crushin' Eye Shadow, Residual Eye Shadow, Multitasker (blended), Multitasker (heavy), Smashing Blush, Cool No. 1 Foundation, Diamond Dust (heavy), Diamond Dust (blended)

Eye Shadow -- Crushin’ + Residual
The Savvy Minerals eye shadow range consists of ten colours, with a pretty even split between neutrals and purples and pinks, plus one random green shade. I, not surprisingly, chose two peachy colours: Crushin’, a shimmery medium peach, and Residual, a pale peach/beige shimmer.  The shadows are pigmented, apply smoothly, and blend nicely too. Both colors are shimmers, but they’re on the more subtle side, so perfectly suitable for everyday, work, or any other occasion. 

The MultiTasker is a matte brown intended for use as an eyeliner, eyebrow color, and eye shadow. The colour is far too dark for my brows, so I haven't I tested it for that purpose, but it works well as both an eyeliner and eye shadow. As you can see in the swatch, it’s quite pigmented, particularly when applied with an eyeliner brush, but it also blends out nicely if you want to use it as an eye shadow. The MultiTasker can also be applied wet for a more dramatic look. 

Lipstick - Daydream + Wish
The lipsticks have a lovely formula, but I’m not crazy about how shimmery the colors run. My mom has gotten a lot of wear out both Daydream (peachy-nude) and Wish (mauve/pink) and they look great on her, but the finish just isn't something I'd wear regularly.  If you like a more shimmery lip, the lipsticks are buttery, moisturizing, and feel very comfortable on the lips. They’re not ultra-saturated with color, need a couple swipes for full opacity, and almost feel like a halfway point between a tinted balm and a lipstick.

Lip Gloss - Embrace + Abundant
The glosses are fantastic! They’re thick and beautifully shiny on the lips, with just a hint of stickiness to keep them hanging on. Flavoured with peppermint essential oil, they smell fresh and have a slight minty tingle when first applied. The camera picked up some micro-shimmer in the swatches, but I’ve never noticed it on the lips. Both Embrace, a peachy-nude, and Abundant, a medium pink, give beautiful glossy color and a nice fullness to the lips. There are also two other shades -- a bronze and a deeper plum/mauve.  I think the lip glosses are my favorite from the entire Savvy Minerals range.

(L to R) Wish Lipstick, Daydream Lipstick, Embrace Lip Gloss, Abundant Lip Gloss
Misting Spray
The Misting Spray, which somehow missed the photos, is a water, aloe, glycerin, and essential oil spray that can be used before makeup, as a skin hydrator, or after, as a makeup setting spray. The spray is lightweight and lovely and I like using it both ways. It’s, not surprisingly, loaded with essential oils and smells gorgeous -- a mix of light florals and vanilla, with just a hint of citrus. I think the mist makes a great hydrating toner, when used as more of a skincare step, and it also does a good job post-makeup, to reduce any powderyness and to help everything meld into the skin better.

The Bottom Line

With the exception of the Diamond Dust Veil, which disappointed me, I think Savvy Minerals has some great products! The price point is quite high for some items, in my opinion, but I have few complaints about the products themselves, which are solid. My top picks? Definitely the lip glosses, plus the Misting Spray and Smashing Blush. I’m also curious to try the Savvy Minerals mascara that's currently out of stock/being reformulated!

16 January 2018

Ilike Organic Skincare Lemon Cleansing Milk

I was first introduced to Ilike Organic Skincare almost three years ago and it's a line that continues to impress me.  Ilike flies a little under the radar in the green blogging world, but the company, which has been around since the 1950's, has quite an extensive product range and numerous unique and interesting offerings.  The entire line is BDIH Certified Natural and made in Hungary without gluten, nuts, GMO's, or synthetic chemicals.  Everything is also cruelty-free and packaged in recycled and BPA-free packaging.

Most recently I've been trialing the Lemon Cleansing Milk*  ($55 for 8.4 ounces), described as a "gentle soft texture cleansing milk for normal/combination to dehydrated skin types that removes makeup and impurities and hydrates skin."  I received the cleanser during the summer months, but it wasn't until the weather turned colder in the fall that I really came to fully appreciate this product.  For that reason, I'm glad that my semi-hiatus from blogging left me testing this item out over multiple seasons, since it gave me a chance to get a really great feel for it!

The Cleansing Milk is a non-lathering cleanser with a light lotion consistency.  Ilike recommends using it in much the same way as you would an oil cleanser or cold cream -- that is, massaging the product onto dry skin and wiping it off with a cotton pad or damp wash cloth.  I've used the product this way and also on moistened skin like a more standard cleanser, and I've enjoyed it both ways.  The cleanser wipes away easily and doesn't leave behind any noticeable residue on the skin.  It also does a good job removing face makeup and light eye makeup too, although I typically prefer to use an oil or separate makeup remover around the eyes before going in with the Lemon Cleansing Milk. 

In the fall and winter, when my skin tends towards more dry and sensitive, this is a fantastic gentle cleanser that softly glides over the skin removing dirt and impurities without stripping the skin or disturbing moisture levels.  It leaves my face feeling hydrated and soft to the touch.  I also enjoyed the Cleansing Milk during the summer, however I found it a little too rich for daily use at that time of year, when my skin produces a little more oil. 

Some Ilike products are quite fragrant, but the Lemon Cleansing Milk has only a light lemon scent.  It's mild, fresh, and pleasant.  

The Bottom Line
The Lemon Cleansing Milk is a great gentle and non-drying cleanser, especially perfect for dryer skin types and during the cold winter months.  It has a light scent, removes makeup, and rinses off easily. 

If you're interested in trying the Cleansing Milk -- or anything else from Ilike! -- the brand is running a New Years sale through January 31.  Get 20.18% off sitewide with the code Happy2018.

*Press sample.  Contains affiliate links.

12 January 2018

Green People Neutral Scent Free Shampoo + Conditioner

I'm what I consider to be moderately scent sensitive.  Sensitive because I enjoy most natural scents but struggle with a few, and also because I have occasional days when I wish all my products had zero scent.   One such day is what led me to ordering the Green People Scent Free Shampoo and Conditioner. The Scent Free Shampoo and Conditioner are particularly marketed towards sensitive scalps, but, since they include no added fragrance or essential oils, they're obviously fantastic for sensitive noses too.

The duo is basic and effective.  The Scent Free Shampoo is SLS free, lathers nicely, rinses out easily, and leaves both the hair and scalp feeling clean and refreshed.  It’s a gentle wash that gets everything clean on the daily, although I do find myself needing to use something a bit more clarifying every few weeks to get rid of extra product build up that the Green People doesn't quite seem able to tackle on its own.

The shampoo also includes pineapple extract and salicylic acid to gently exfoliate and remove any flakes on the scalp. I don't deal with flakes or dandruff, so I can't speak to those benefits specifically, but the shampoo gets my scalp nice and clean without feeling harsh or irritating.

The Scent Free Conditioner is a great lightweight option. It's extra gentle and moisturizes enough for regular use, but again, for my curly hair moisture needs, I find myself periodically reaching for something a little richer as a more intense moisture treatment. (Green People's own Intensive Repair Conditioner for coloured and damaged hair, which I've used multiple samples of, works great for this purpose!) The conditioner includes hydrolyzed quinoa and vitamin B to strengthen hair, and green tea for added shine.  Because it's so light, the conditioner never leaves hair feeling weighed down or heavy.

Coming full circle back to scent, although the Scent Free duo has no added scent ingredients, both products have very slight herbal aromas, presumably from the other ingredients.  It's nothing major and nothing that's noticeable after the products are washed out.  Personally, I prefer a mild scent like these to a completely bland unscented version, since those are, ironically, often only achieved with added scent ingredients to mask the natural ingredient aromas.  

The Bottom Line
Neutral is a fitting name for this sensitive duo.  Both the Scent Free Shampoo and Conditioner are strong everyday products and I like them both, but I find myself mixing in other items every so often to complement the Green People products.  I find the shampoo needs a clarifying boost every couple of weeks to completely remove product build up, and the conditioner does best when I incorporate something a little richer every so often too.  

Contatins affiliate links.

9 January 2018

Winter Hand Heroes (ft. Trilogy, Leaves of Trees, Satya + Paula's Choice)

The weather’s rebounded nicely the last couple days, but before that we were stuck in a record breaking cold spell for quite some time.  Cold weather, for me anyways, immediately translates to dry hand problems, since it seems like the moisture gets sucked out of my hands as soon as I step outside.  Needless to say, I’ve learned a few tricks to surviving Canadian winter over the years.

First, the biggest thing for me is consistency.  I can slather on rich occlusive balms before bed and they do a great temporary job, but I also need products that I can reapply and work with throughout the day.  That means: nothing too greasy, oily, or overly fragranced.  My current lineup includes four stellar products to suit all my daytime hand needs.  If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll likely have already seen some of these mentioned over the last couple months.  

I recently cracked into my second tube of the Ultra Hydrating Hand Cream, which I discovered in the middle of my blogging lull last winter, and it just might be the very best hand cream I’ve used to date.  The cream is made with hydrating aloe vera, humectant honey and glycerin, moisturizing coconut, marula, and rosehip oils, and soothing oat kernel, chamomile, and calendula extracts.  It packs a serious moisturizing punch and also creates a non-greasy, dry-to-the-touch protective barrier on the skin.  I notice a big difference when I remember to slap this on immediately before venturing out into the cold.  The scent, described as a blend of sweet orange, amber, and vanilla, is sweet but mild and not overbearing or sickly.  

Technically the Moisture Renewal Booster is a face oil, but, as I've discovered over the last couple months, it’s also pretty magical as a cuticle treatment.  The unscented Booster is made with a blend of nine plant oils including favourites like jojoba, argan, and cranberry seed, and it also includes added ceramides and cholesterol.  These two C’s, the building blocks of a healthy skin barrier, are fantastic for repairing and rebuilding damaged skin, so it only makes sense that they would work equally well to heal dry and dehydrated cuticles.  In addition to healthy cuticles, the plant oils also help keep the nails flexible and supple, and therefore less prone to brittleness and breaking in the cold.

Frankincense-infused argan oil and cocoa butter create a deeply nourishing base for Leaves of Trees’ Frankincense Argan Lotion, made locally here in Toronto with just eight simple ingredients.  The lotion, which is waterless, offers the rich benefits of a balm but skips over the greasy, can’t-touch-anything phase.  The lotion sinks in quickly, does a great job reviving dry winter hands, and offers some anti-aging benefits from the argan and frankincense oils too. Plus, it smells lovely -- mild, earthy and calming.  

I received this mini Organic Eczema Relief from Social Nature in the fall and it’s basically lived in my purse ever since.  It’s a solid salve/balm made from just five organic ingredients: beeswax, sweet almond and jojoba oils, colloidal oatmeal, and calendula, and it works for a lot more than just eczema.  I wouldn't consider it a moisturizer as much as a healing salve, so it's best for fixing chapped or irritated skin.  Basically, it’s a great heavy hitter if my hands are in especially rough shape or if I’ve not kept up with the other products for a day or two.

The Bottom Line
Clearly I take hand care pretty seriously in the winter and these four have been doing the trick for me through our recent cold spell.  Honourable mentions go to warm gloves, non-drying hand soaps (Ground Soap and Everyday Shea have been my go-to's) and to drinking lots of water and consistently taking omegas (these are my favorite).

What do you do to combat dry hands in the winter months?  
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