18 January 2017

2X Thicker Castile Soap from Dr. Jacobs Naturals

Historically, castile soap referred exclusively to the olive oil soap made in the Castile region of Spain, but today it's a term more broadly used to describe any soap made through the traditional saponification process that turns natural plant oils into soap.  Castile soap is an everyday staple in my home for both body care and cleaning purposes and I've recently been trying out the soaps from a new-to-me brand, Dr.  Jacobs Naturals.  Dr. Jacobs is a cruelty free company making liquid castile soap in the USA without palm oil, synthetic fragrance, colors, preservatives, or GMO's.

People often complain that liquid castile soaps are either too thin and runny or don't lather sufficiently, and quite honestly, these two factors frequently have me reaching for a different product in the shower too.  Dr. Jacobs soaps, however, circumvent both these issues by thickening their coconut and olive oil based castile soap with a small amount of the gentle, non-toxic surfactant coco-glucoside.   The result is a hybrid soap that's substantially thicker than your average castile offering.  It won't pour out of your hands or run down the drain, and the coco-glucoside helps it to lather more easily too.

I've been testing Dr. Jacobs' soaps out for all my usual household cleaning tasks -- laundry, makeup brush washing, and more -- and also as a shower gel and hand soap, and I'm pretty sold on them for all of the above!  The thicker viscosity makes it the perfect consistency to use as either a body wash or hand soap and its gentle and non-drying on the skin.  (And the 16 oz. pump bottles are extra convenient in the shower too!)  The thickness also means that you don't need to use as much product, particularly for cleaning, so a smaller amount of soap goes farther too.  I'm not personally a fan of castile soap for the face, but if that's something that usually works for you, I see no reason why Dr. Jacobs wouldn't as well.  

In terms of scents, Dr. Jacobs offers a good variety of both essential oil-based and natural fragrance options and I've been testing out three, plus the unscented.  The Citrus, currently residing in my shower, has a very mild scent.  It smells good and citrusy, but I also smell a little of the natural oils coming through.  The Eucalyptus and Peppermint are much stronger scents and have some serious scent power.  I used the Eucalyptus to clean my makeup brushes this week, while suffering through the tail end of a cold, and had the added bonus of clearer sinuses when I was finished.  The Peppermint has been hanging out by my washing machine, and a small amount in the wash leaves clothes smelling minty and fresh.  And the Unscented is, of course, great for when you don't want a scent, or for creating your own.

The Bottom Line
I always keep castile soap on hand and Dr. Jacobs is a great option!  The liquid soaps are thick and skin-friendly, and create a rich, versatile lather to suit a multitude of uses -- both for the body and household/cleaning.  

* Press sample

7 January 2017

Thera Wise Ointments: Targeted Skin Treatments That Work!

Thera Wise is a family business making natural and plant-based medicinal ointments in Vancouver, B.C.  Warren Brander, Thera Wise's founder, recognized a need to improve conventional over-the-counter ointments, most of which are still petroleum and petrochemical-based, and combined his cosmetic science training and background in Traditional Chinese Medicine to develop Thera Wise's line of ointments. 

Photo Credit
The line consists of five ointments: SHO Skin Healing, Ac+ Acne, VpR Vaporizing, DpR Diaper, and HmR Hemorrhoidal, all of which are vegan and cruelty free, Health Canada NHP approved, and made in Canada from pure plant-based extracts, prebiotics, and natural oils.  

I had the opportunity to test out two of the ointments and I'm excited to share my thoughts on them.  I've also teamed up with Thera Wise to give some ointments away on Instagram, so make sure you head over there after the review to enter.  

SHO Bio-Active Skin Healing Ointment
Of Thera Wise's five ointments, SHO is probably the most multi-functional.  Intended to treat multiple skin ailments, it helps heal wounds, reduces skin irritation and inflammation, and works on everything from cuts and scrapes to rashes, bruises, sunburns, and eczema and dermatitis.  

There are a lot of skin balms and ointments out there, but the ingredients in the Bio-Active Skin Healing Ointment really stood out to me.  SHO features concentrated calendula, chamomile, and burdock root -- potent anti-inflammatory botanical extracts that target irritated and itchy skin, minimize scarring, and reduce swelling.  The ointment also includes oat beta glucan, aloe vera, olive squalane, shea butter, and rosehip, sea buckthorn, and argan oils to improve skin immune function, soothe and repair compromised tissue, and generally speed up the healing process.  Tea tree oil also adds antibacterial and anti-microbial properties to the mix.  

I've been using the Skin Healing Ointment for about a month and half now and while I -- happily -- haven't had much opportunity to test it on cuts or wounds, I can say that it works very well on dry, itchy, and irritated skin.  We've had a few serious cold spells here and the Skin Healing Ointment is what I've been reaching for to treat my poor wind chapped face after walking the dog on those -10°C or colder nights.  It does a fantastic job both soothing and reviving the skin.  I've also used it numerous times on dry cuticles and it's wonderful there too.  The ointment sinks in right away, instantly smoothing and softening the skin, and it doesn't leave behind any kind of film or oily residue.  The ingredients list is what first caught my eye, but the actual performance is what has had me coming back to the ointment over and over these last several weeks.

Ac+ Bio-Active Acne Ointment
I don't deal with a ton of acne or breakouts anymore, but I do still get the occasional pimple.  Plus, I'm pretty sure everyone can benefit from having a great spot treatment on hand!  

The Bio-Active Acne Ointment is a supportive ointment that helps reduce swelling and inflammation caused by acne or blemishes and provides gentle but effective antibacterial benefits without compromising the skin's natural defenses.  It uses a low dose of salicylic acid (0.5% compared to the 2% found in most acne treatments), naturally sourced from willow bark extract, and an olive wax base that allows the skin to breathe and function normally under the ointment.   The ingredients also feature popular acne fighting witch hazel and tea tree oil,  cooling peppermint oil, soothing aloe vera and oat beta-glucan, and reparative tamanu oil -- a particular favorite of mine.  The ointment also includes alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that actually suppresses inflammation on a cellular level to minimize scarring and prevent collagen breakdown, and alpha glucan oligosaccharide, a prebiotic that stimulates the "good" bacteria on the skin to improve the skin's natural defenses and barrier function, leaving it less susceptible to the "bad" bacteria and pathogens that contribute to acne. 

A lot of acne treatments can be overly harsh and aggressive, but Ac+ opts for a noticeably gentler approach.  When using the Acne Ointment, I found that swelling and redness was visibly reduced and pimples healed quicker.  It's not an instant miracle worker, but in helping blemishes heal more effectively, it leaves you less likely to end up with long term effects like hyperpigmentation and scarring.  Pimples and blemishes do heal a little faster and, if caught early enough, the ointment can stop them from forming entirely, or at least help keep them small.  I noticed that any leftover marks post-breakout faded a lot quicker too.  I like the more holistic approach that gently addresses active blemishes, while also offering skin-healing and nourishing ingredients that help improve overall skin function, hopefully minimizing future breakouts before they even occur.  Ac+ feels a little more emollient than the Skin Healing Ointment, but it rubs in easily too.  I haven't had any problems using it during the day or wearing it underneath makeup.  

The Bottom Line
Thera Wise's ointments have stellar ingredients and the products work incredibly well too.  The SHO Skin Healing Ointment is multi-functional and would be a great addition to any medicine cabinet or first aid kit and Ac+ is wonderful for treating acne and blemishes in a kinder, gentler, more holistic and skin-friendly way.  

Enter the giveaway to try them for yourself! I've teamed up with Thera Wise to give away two ointments -- winner's choice! -- to three lucky Instagram winners. 

*Press sample

3 January 2017

2016 Best in Green Beauty

Ideally this post would have gone up a few days ago, but better late than never, right?  I'm fortunate to have tried lots of fantastic products in 2016, but for the purposes of this post, I'm highlighting just the very top -- the best of the best.  These are the 8 products that, out of everything I used, truly stood out to me the most over the course of the last year.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned all these items at least once, but if I've done a more in depth review, I'll make sure to link it below, in case you'd like more information.

Rocky Mountain Soap Vanilla Mint Hand Cream
I loved Rocky Mountain Soap's hand cream when I first used it in 2015, but the new Vanilla Mint scent that launched mid-2016 fully cemented my adoration.  The hand cream hits that perfect balance of richness and quick absorption and is loaded with nourishing plant oils, shea butter, antioxidants, and other emollients.  The Vanilla Mint scent is both fresh and sweet, and it's a lighter scent, so while it smells wonderful as you apply it, it doesn't fragrance the entire room or smack you over the head all day long.

Sola Skincare Balancing Face Oil   [Review]

I've tried a lot of oils over the years and Sola's Balancing Face Oil, which incorporates traditional Chinese herbs, brings a little something extra to the table.  The blend includes some of my favorite hydrating and healing oils -- argan, tamanu, and jojoba, to name just a few -- alongside Chinese herbs that reduce inflammation and improve circulation.  It works incredibly well at targeting not only obvious acne and breakouts, but also more subtle skin congestion and clogged pores.  It's a beautiful product and one I'd recommend to anyone struggling with these kinds of skin issues.

Kari Gran Lip Whips
I go through phases with more full-on lipstick, but the reality is that, for everyday, I prefer more sheer lip colors and glosses.  Kari Gran's Lip Whips offer exactly that -- sheer, glossy color -- and they feel like a hydrating treatment for your lips.  Potted lip products aren't usually my favorite, but these are worth it.  They're comfortable and easy to wear, and come in an ever-growing range of beautiful shades.

Holiskin Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser   [Review]
Oil cleansers are my favorite way to remove makeup and Holiskin's super affordable Sensitive Skin Cleanser is one of the best I've used at any price point.  The simple but thoughtful ingredients list includes organic apricot kernel, camellia, meadowfoam, and castor seed oils, as well as vitamin E and chamomile and lavender essential oils, and it's a real gem of a product.  It smells awesome, glides over the skin easily, and effortlessly removes every last trace of makeup.  It doesn't sting around the eyes and wipes away easily with a washcloth or face wipe.

Batty's Bath Whipped Cream Foundation   [Review]
My skin usually reacts to cream and liquid foundations when worn for more than a day or two in a row, but the Whipped Cream Foundation from Batty's Bath, formulated especially for acne and rosacea-prone skin, is the one exception.  The ingredients are free of often problematic coconut oil and the Whipped Cream Foundation offers medium/buildable coverage with a unique cream-to-almost-powder finish.  It feels lightweight on the skin, isn't drying at all, and sets to a pretty and natural looking semi-matte finish.  It also doubles as a concealer -- I especially love using it to cover up dark circles.

Argillaceous Naturals Detox Facial Masque   [Review]
I tried two masks from Argillaceous Naturals last year and I was not expecting to fall nearly as hard as I did for the Detox Facial Masque.  On first glance, the ingredients read like many other detox masks, but performance-wise, it stands apart.  In addition to detox mask classics like clay and activated charcoal, the formula also includes colloidal oatmeal to soothe and citric acid to gently resurface the skin.  The citric acid also balances the extreme alkalinity of the clay, which means the mask can work without negatively impacting the skin's natural acid mantle and barrier function.  The Detox Masque is particularly awesome for clearing blackheads and clogged pores and it never leaves the skin feeling raw or stripped.  For me, someone without very oily or problematic skin, I like it best as an occasional refresher once or twice a month, but depending on your skin, you could definitely incorporate it more often.

Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tint

Along with the Kari Gran, the Sheer Moisture Lip Tints from Mineral Fusion are my other favorite tinted lip product.  They come in a fun crayon form and again provide sheer color with a balmy, nourishing feel.  Glisten, a warm caramelly-nude, is my absolute favorite from the range, but all the shades are pretty.

Duckish Body Butter   [Review]
Some of you will remember that I was a little heartbroken when Nourish discontinued their Body Butter about a year ago, but I've got to say, Duckish's Body Butter, which I've since replaced it with, is even better.  An emollient blend of shea butter and plant oils, the Body Butter is phenomenal on dry and irritated skin.  It's super rich and is the kind of product I reserve for those extra dry spots like feet and elbows as opposed to all over (although Duckish's Lotion Sticks, which go on like solid oils, are fantastic for everywhere!)  I've even used the Body Butter as an intense lip treatment this winter and it worked great in that capacity too.  

What were your biggest green beauty standouts in 2016?

Contains affiliate links.

23 December 2016

Nayelle Probiotic Skincare: Nature's Best Kept Secret?

Most of us are familiar with dietary probiotics, but did you know that these same friendly bacteria also offer topical benefits for your skin?  In the same way that maintaining healthy flora in the intestine is key for good health, maintaining healthy levels of good bacteria on the skin is important for effective barrier function and overall skin resilience, and can help with numerous skin conditions including acne, eczema and rosacea.

Nayelle Probiotic Skincare is a brand new Canadian skincare company that just launched this past November.  The line, created by experienced biochemist Peter Jurkemik, focuses on melding scientific research and natural ingredients.  In particular, Nayelle highlights four core ingredients: probiotic goat milk kefir, sea kelp, snow mushroom, and glacial clay.  These four are combined with other great ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil, sunflower seed oil, and bamboo to create products that are both natural and effective.  Nayelle is also Leaping Bunny approved cruelty free, gluten free, and 100% Canadian owned and operated.

I had the chance to test out Nayelle's complete line over the last couple months, so I'm going to run through each of the products and my thoughts and experiences.

Cleanse: Gentle Exfoliating Glacial Cleanser
Described as a mild cleansing cream enhanced with gentle exfoliating bamboo and glacial oceanic clay, the Exfoliating Cleanser feels very soft to the touch, but in fact offers a pretty thorough exfoliation.   I actually find the exfoliation to be a little too intense for my skin on a daily basis, but I enjoy using it as an occasional product once or twice a week.  The combination of purifying clay and finely milled bamboo adds a delicate grit to an otherwise creamy cleanser.  It foams up slightly with water, rinses away cleanly and doesn't dry out the skin.  

FYI the cleanser does contain phenoxyethanol, if that's a concern for you.  The remaining three Nayelle products are phenoxyethanol-free.

Hydrate: Probiotic Moisturizing Day Cream // Rejuvenate: Probiotic Anti-Aging Night Cream
The two moisturizers are, in my opinion, the real stars of Nayelle's range.  Both are creamy, moisturizing, and all around lovely, and combine the full fusion of Nayelle's four core ingredients.

Tremella or snow mushroom is one of the richest plant sources of vitamin D and is an ingredient commonly used in Asian skincare.  It draws water into the skin in much the same way as hyaluronic acid, but, with a smaller particle size, it's able to hold onto even more water and is also able to penetrate the skin more easily.

Probiotic goat milk kefir contains beneficial bacteria that help strengthen the skin's natural barrier function, thereby helping skin hold onto moisture more effectively.  Lactic acid and vitamin A found in goat milk also gently slough off dead skin and increase cell turnover.  

Sea Kelp is rich in antioxidants that stimulate collagen production and skin regeneration on the cellular level.  Nayelle uses a fermentation process that concentrates the nutrients in the kelp and increases their bioavailibility so they can readily be absorbed by the skin.  

Glacial Oceanic Clay is a clay originally formed by the movements of glaciers over 14,000 years ago.  It's harvested from the remote northern shores of British Columbia and is rich in over 60 minerals including iron, calcium, and magnesium.  Clay not only exfoliates and purifies the skin, but also delivers nutrients and helps regulate oil production.

Hydrate, Nayelle's day cream, is lightweight and sinks into the skin quickly.  It contains additional lactic acid, beneficial for acne and hyperpigmentation, as well as anti-aging concerns like fine lines and wrinkles.  Hydrate creates a fantastic moisturizing base that works well by itself and wears well under makeup too.

Rejuvenate, Hydrate's supercharged night counterpart, is richer, but still silky smooth.  It's intensely moisturizing but doesn't feel heavy on the skin.  Both creams have a mild orange scent and leave my skin looking bright, plump and hydrated.  I struggle with visible pores on my nose and cheeks and I noticed a difference within the first three or four days of incorporating this moisturizer duo.  The pores were less noticeable and I found my skin looking just a little more perfected overall.  I also love the airless pump bottles these two come in -- they look sleek on a vanity and also do a great job protecting the ingredients and keeping the products fresh.

Purify: Glacial Oceanic Clay Facial Mask
Most of my face masks are dry powders that require mixing, so Purify, which is ready-to-go in a tube, is fantastic for when I'm a little shorter on time.  The main ingredient is, of course, glacial oceanic clay, with a few other additives to keep it moist and creamy.  It goes on easily, dries within eight or ten minutes, and does a good job detoxifying the skin and pulling any unnecessary junk out of your pores.  The mask leaves my face looking bright and healthy and doesn't overly strip or dry out the skin.  Like the rest of the Nayelle line, it features orange essential oil and smells lightly citrusy, though my nose also picks up some earthy/oceany notes from the glacial clay.

The Bottom Line
The two probiotic moisturizers, both made with all four of Nayelle's core ingredients, were the main standouts for me, but I do like the line as a whole too.  Cleanse is a nice exfoliating cleanser, although I prefer it more as an occasional scrub than an everyday face wash, and Purify is a good gentle detox mask.  

If you're interested in making a purchase, definitely take advantage of Nayelle's end of the year sale, on now through December 31.  Everything is discounted (individual products + the complete regime), plus get free shipping within Canada and the US. 

And, because this is my final post before the holidays, I want to wish everyone a fantastic Christmas, Chanukkah, New Years, and any other holiday you may celebrate this time of year.  Thanks for reading Naturalla Beauty in 2016!  I hope 2017 brings us all lots of health, prosperity, and happiness :)

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

6 December 2016

Etsy Gems: Maman Sucre Bath + Body

Etsy is teeming with brands promising natural Lush-type dupes, and while there are definitely some great finds, there's also a lot of greenwashing to keep an eye out for.  Which is why I'm so happy I discovered Maman Sucre bath and body products earlier this fall.  Maman Sucre's handcrafted products are all vegan and cruelty free and are also free of GMO's and synthetic color and fragrance.  Everything is made with clean and natural ingredients and is scented only with pure essential oils.  

The Etsy shop is full of bath and body treats -- definitely give it a browse! -- but I'll run you through the specifics of the four items I've been trying out + my thoughts on everything.

Photo Credit

Pumpkin Spice Bath Bomb*
We're on the tail end of Pumpkin Spice season -- my fault for not publishing this sooner! -- but I'm all for stretching spicy fall scents as long as possible and Maman Sucre's Pumpkin Spice Bath Bomb is just the thing.  It isn't a sugared up or headache-inducing fake pumpkin scent, but rather a warm blend of sweet spices reminiscent of quality homemade pumpkin pie.  

The bath bomb bubbled really nicely and created a great bath.  Alongside standard fizzing ingredients like baking soda and citric acid, Maman Sucre's bath bombs also feature nourishing grapeseed and coconut oils that lend moisture and leave the water feeling a little softer.  The bath bombs are colored with natural clays and mica, and the Pumpkin Spice Bomb is a pretty pale orange color with some gold shimmer running through it.  

If the Pumpkin Spice window has already closed for you, Maman Sucre has plenty of other options too.  How good do Avocado Butter & Citrus and Sandalwood Vanilla sound??

Sparkle + Bronzing Body Butters*
The body butters are whipped moisturizers made from organic shea butter and grapeseed and coconut oils.  Both varieties have a light moussy texture in the pot that melts into the skin easily.  They moisturize without any heavy, greasy feeling and leave behind a pretty shimmer.    

Of the two, I definitely prefer the Sparkle Body Butter, both for it's lighter color and more subtle scent.  The Bronzing Butter has a stronger floral fragrance and the color is more noticeable on my fair skin.  Both are equally good moisturizers, so it really comes down to scent/color preference.  

Sugar Scrub*
I only used a small scrub sample, but I really liked it.  I'm not entirely sure which scent I tried -- I think the Lemon Jasmine -- but it smelled fresh and delightfully citrusy.  The sugar has a pretty fine grain, so while gentle, it also does a thorough job exfoliating the skin.  The ingredients include grapeseed and coconut oils, but the consistency is drier than that of a lot of other scrubs.  For anyone who tends to find natural scrubs overly oily, or who just doesn't want to deal with a slippery shower floor, these scrubs would be a great option.  

The Bottom Line
Maman Sucre's bath bombs, made without synthetic fragrance or dyes, are the real standout for me.  The other bath and body products are great too and I quite enjoyed the sugar scrub, which has a drier and less slippery texture than a lot of other natural scrubs.  

If you're in or around Austin, Texas, you can also find Maman Sucre at a few different markets this month -- more details are available on the company's Facebook page.

*Press sample
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