22 May 2018

Curly Girl Review: Phillip Adam Curly Hair Shampoo

It’s been a while since my last curly girl post, but I’m excited to bring them back this spring, starting with today’s review of the Phillip Adam Curly Hair Shampoo*.  Phillip Adam is a Canadian hairdresser who’s worked in the hair industry for nearly 50 years. His desire for clean and high-performance hair products led to the creation of his own eponymous line of safe and effective hair care and body products.  The entire range is biodegradable, cruelty-free, and made without dyes, parabens, SLS, petroleum by-products, GMO’s, or gluten. The majority of products, including the Curly Hair Shampoo, are also entirely plant-based and vegan.

The Curly Hair Shampoo ($15 CAD for 12 oz), specifically created for us curly folks, is intended to leave hair cleansed but also sufficiently conditioned to define and control curls.  It’s a spin on the company’s bestselling Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, only in this one, the apple cider vinegar has been replaced by an extra dose of pea protein and guar to add a little weight and help control frizz.  In addition to curls, the Curly Hair Shampoo is also recommended for colour treated, dry, or damaged hair.

I really like it.  My hair needs moisture, like all curls, but it also has a tendency to get greasy at the roots and can be easily weighed down by heavy products.  The Curly Hair Shampoo strikes that perfect balance for me: it cleanses the scalp thoroughly and does a great job cutting through any product buildup, but doesn’t leave the actual strands feeling dry or stripped.  The shampoo lathers extremely easily as well -- definitely top tier of all the natural shampoos I’ve used -- and as a result, I need less product to get my hair clean.

The Curly Hair Shampoo also gives my hair a good amount of volume.  I’m long overdue for a trim, and the longer my hair gets, the more the weight of it pulls down volume at the roots, but the Curly Hair Shampoo adds back a surprising amount of bounce and volume.  I haven’t had a Philip Adams conditioner to use with the shampoo (although the matching Thirsty Hair Conditioner may just be my next purchase!), so I’ve played around with a couple different ones that were already in my shower, and no matter what I pair the shampoo with, I consistently end up with defined and bouncy curls, minimal frizz and flyaways, and really excellent volume.  

The shampoo also smells fantastic.  Made with two of my favorite essential oils, peppermint and eucalyptus, the scent is bright, fresh and minty.  I don’t notice any fragrance lingering on my hair once the shampoo is rinsed out, but I thoroughly enjoy it while I’m using the product.  

The Bottom Line
The Curly Hair Shampoo is a fantastic product for curly hair.  It smells great, lathers well, cleanses thoroughly, and does a fantastic job volumizing and defining curls.  

*Press Sample

14 May 2018

New at the Drugstore: Nude By Nature

I’ve always advocated for more accessible natural products, so as soon as I heard that Nude By Nature, a well-known Australian natural mineral makeup line, was launching exclusively in Shoppers Drug Mart this year, I was pretty excited.  Up to this point, our only widespread healthy “drugstore” makeup options in Canada have been Burt’s Bees and a select few Physician’s Formula Organic Wear products, so this is a huge step forward. Nude by Nature markets itself as high performing natural formulas free from synthetics, silicones, talc, and parabens.  The entire line is 100% naturally derived.

I’ve been trying out four products over the last several months -- three purchased by me and one that I received free from ChickAdvisor -- and I’m excited to share my thoughts on this new Canadian launch.  Keep reading for my take on everything...

Perfecting Primer ($32 for 1oz)
I don't typically use a face primer, so if I hadn't received this mini from ChickAdvisor, I doubt I would have tried it on my own.  The Perfecting Primer is silicone-free and has a similar consistency to a light lotion or moisturizer. It's invisible on the skin and creates a good, hydrated base for makeup application, but I haven't found it does anything more than my normal skincare routine.  I did a side-by-side comparison one day with the primer on one half of my face and just my regular skincare on the other and both sides looked and wore exactly the same throughout the day. Without the silicones, the primer doesn't do any intense pore-filling or smoothing and I haven't found it prolongs the wear of my makeup either. I don't think it's a bad product, but, for me, it just feels like an unnecessary extra step. I've also read a lot of comments about the primer's strong fragrance, but I've noticed very little scent at all.

Perfecting Concealer ($24 for 0.2oz)
Dark under eye circles are one of my biggest skin woes, so I’m always up for trying concealers that promise lightweight and luminous coverage.  The Perfecting Concealer is a squeeze tube liquid concealer that checks both those boxes, but I have somewhat mixed feelings about it on the whole. Overall, I like it a lot. Coverage is fantastic and it does a great job brightening the under eye area without looking heavy or cakey.  I’ve also used the concealer to cover blemishes and redness and it works well for those purposes too.

What I don’t love is the way that it sets...or I should say, the way that it doesn’t set. On its own, the Perfecting Concealer stays quite wet and sticky and it takes a generous two or three dustings of powder to fully get rid of that tackiness.  It took some trial and error to find a powder that could handle multiple layers without looking cakey, but ultimately I had the best results from a lightweight, silica-based loose powder. I’ve been using a lightly tinted one from the now defunct Ashley Morgan Cosmetics, but something like the RMS Tinted Un-Powder or Silk Naturals Tinted Blur Powder should perform similarly.

In terms of colors, Nude By Nature seems to do really well for light and medium shades, but not quite as well for darker skin tones. I chose the second lightest shade, Porcelain Beige (02), for its peachier undertones, and it works very well at covering the bluer tones under my eyes.  

(Top to Bottom) Brown Eye Pencil, Champagne Highlight Stick, Porcelain Beige Perfecting Concealer, Perfecting Primer

I bought the Highlight Stick mainly to use as a cream eye shadow and I love it!  It's incredibly quick to dab onto the eyes and Champagne (01), a golden champagne shade, is beautiful all over the lid for an easy one-and-done eye look.  Being a highlighter, the colour isn’t completely opaque, but it’s buildable and has the prettiest luminosity.

The texture is creamy but not greasy. It’s not crease proof on the eyes -- but then, what natural cream shadow is? -- but it wears naturally and genuinely looks good for the entire day, in spite of any wear or minor creasing.  The consistency and feel is also lovely for its intended function as a face highlight, but Champagne is a little too dark and golden for my fair, neutral-to-cool skin. I wouldn’t say no to some kind of cream/pearl shade though, if Nude By Nature ever decides to expand the range.

Contour Eye Pencil ($18 for 0.03oz)
Brown pencil liner is an everyday go-to for me, and for such a basic product, I’m pretty picky about the particulars.  Happily, the Contour Eye Pencil in Brown (02) meets all my eye liner needs. It’s a great dark brown colour -- not too warm! -- that glides on easily and stays put all day long.  It’s soft enough that you can smudge the colour out with the attached smudger and also pigmented and creamy enough to wear in the waterline. The pencil also stays sharp for a good amount of time, so you’re not burning through your pencil (and $$) at the speed of light.  For both its quality and ease of accessibility, this is definitely an item I can see myself re-buying in the future. (And, if you’re a fan of colored liners, Rainforest, a gorgeous golden/olive green, is one of the prettiest eyeliners I’ve ever swatched. I don’t wear coloured pencils often, but I’m still tempted to pick it up every time I’m in Shoppers!)

The Bottom Line
The Perfecting Primer didn’t impress me, but I’m really enjoying the other three products.  I’m always excited to see more healthy options available in big mainstream stores like Shoppers Drug Mart and I think Nude By Nature is, on the whole, a solid makeup line.  The price point is a little high for a drugstore line, but it's considerably lower than many other comparable natural lines and still falls within what I'd consider an affordable range. The quality, from what I've tried, is good and I'm also completely smitten with the shiny rose gold packaging.

Contains affiliate links.

2 May 2018

Sample Stash #20: Deluxe Mini Edition

It’s been a long time since my last sample stash post, but I’ve been using a fair number of minis recently, so it seemed like a good time to bring the series back.  There’s only so much information you can gain from a small sample sachet, but deluxe samples and trial size minis can give you a great impression of a product without a big commitment.  

When I first received the Purity Skin Tonic (in my October Goodbeing Box), I disliked the scent enough that I could barely bring myself to try it, but six months later, either the scent has mellowed or my nose has, as it’s no longer an issue.  I still get a hint of pool water, but it’s not acrid or offensive, and the product now smells mainly fresh and a little herbal/minty. It works incredibly well on my skin too! The tonic combines soothing, anti-inflammatory, and clarifying ingredients and I notice my skin is smoother and my pores look a little more refined since using it regularly.  It’s safe to say that Good Medicine Beauty Lab is firmly back on my wishlist and I’ll certainly consider a full size of Purity once I’m done with the mini.

Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream
I’ve written about how disappointing some of Andalou’s reformulations have been for me, and unfortunately this is another product to add to that list.  The old version of the Probiotic + C Renewal Cream was one of my favorite moisturizers -- I’ve gone through at least two or three full pots of it -- so when I needed a new moisturizer, I thought I’d give the new incarnation a try.  In terms of scent and feel, the two are very similar, however the ingredients have changed considerably and so has the effect of the new cream on my skin. One of the most significant changes is that sunflower oil, which used to be the second ingredient, is now lumped in at the end, amongst small percent ingredients like hyaluronic acid and calendula extract.  The new formula uses a higher amount of glycerin and lists its first oil, jojoba, as the fifth ingredient. Ultimately, the new version left me with minor congestion on my cheeks and seemed to have my skin producing more oil throughout the day. Definitely not something I’ll be purchasing again.

Aurelia Miracle Cleanser
I’ve used several samples and minis of the Miracle Cleanser over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever written about it on the blog before.  The Miracle Cleanser is a rich cream cleanser that thoroughly and deeply cleans the skin. It’s thick enough to get a good massage going as you cleanse and feels moisturizing without leaving behind any kind of residue.  It also smells deliciously herbal -- a mix of eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, and bergamot. Despite not buying the full size yet, I’d feel confident including this amongst my favorite cleansers.

John Masters Scalp Spearmint & Meadowsweet Scalp Stimulating Shampoo
I’m a big fan of John Masters hair care and I think the Spearmint & Meadowsweet is my new favorite shampoo from the line.  It lathers decently well -- not the easiest or richest lather, but far from the worst -- and I enjoy the fresh minty scent of peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus.  Meadowsweet extract is intended to gently clarify, while soy protein strengthens and sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid lock in moisture. I don’t find the shampoo especially clarifying (or moisturizing, for that matter), but it’s a fantastic and balanced everyday shampoo.  

Bite Beauty Sugarcane Amuse Bouche Lipstick
I picked up Bite’s The Perfect Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick set in the fall and I've been reaching for Sugarcane, a pretty light/medium pink, a lot over the last several weeks. (Check out the rest of the colours on my Instagram.)  The Amuse Bouche formula is good -- richly pigmented and creamy -- but it’s not the most moisturizing, so I like to wear a thin layer of lip balm underneath to keep my lips happy. Bite’s products do contain dyes, but the Amuse Bouche ingredients are pretty clean otherwise.  

Contains affiliate links.

21 April 2018

CLOVE + HALLOW: A Trio of Fantastic Lip Products

CLOVE + HALLOW burst onto the green beauty scene last year and I’ve been swooning over their gorgeous products and classy branding ever since.  I had the opportunity to test out some of the company’s best selling lip items recently and I’m excited to share my thoughts on everything. (Spoiler: they’re all pretty amazing!)

Brand Background

CLOVE + HALLOW was founded by professional makeup artist Sarah Biggers after her own health challenges convinced her to eliminate conventional makeup and personal care products in lieu of healthier, clean alternatives.  When she ultimately wasn’t able to find makeup products or shade ranges that she was completely happy with, the idea for CLOVE + HALLOW was born. As the brand's website states, “Clove + Hallow was founded to marry clean cosmetics with the swoon-worthy aesthetic, performance, and shade range of your favorite conventional brands at a price-point that doesn’t cause sticker shock.”  What more can you ask for? The line is 100% cruelty-free and vegan and combines natural ingredients with minimal safe and well-researched synthetics. [Find out more about C + H’s Clean15 formulation and ingredient guarantee HERE.]

Let's get right into the products…

Angelic Lip Glaze
The lip glazes are non-sticky lip glosses that pack a pretty serious amount of pigment.  The glosses come in a twist-up pen with a brush applicator and are rich, creamy, and moisturizing.  The formula is thicker and more substantial than many glosses and, as such, the color lasts longer on the lips -- I get a good three hours before I need to think about reapplying.  The lip glazes also offer moderate shine -- they're not the shiniest gloss out there, but nothing to scoff at in that regard either.

Ultimately, to me, this isn't the type of gloss that I'd reach for to layer over a lipstick -- although you certainly could -- but rather a great lip product in its own right, perfect for when I want a lighter, more sheer or glossy lip.  The Lip Glazes have a light citrus scent that’s mild and unobtrusive.

Angelic is a lovely neutral light pink -- very pretty and very wearable for just about any skin tone.

Desert Rose Lip Crème
The Lip Crèmes are your standard bullet lipstick and I think they’re, overall, my favourite of CLOVE + HALLOW’s three lip options.  Beautiful rich pigmentation and a lush and moisturizing formula that feels incredibly comfortable on the lips. They last well, wear naturally, and are an all-around fantastic product.  The Lip Crèmes never look dry on the lips, something I often struggle with with other full-pigment lipsticks, and they really do leave my lips well moisturized.

I also love the look of the clean white tubes, and they have a magnetic closure that adds a little something extra too!  Like the Lip Glazes, the Lip Crèmes have a mild citrus scent.

Desert Rose is a beautiful dusky pink nude with a satin finish. It's a great everyday shade and one that I've been getting a lot of wear out of.  

The Lip Velvets are CLOVE + HALLOW’s take on a matte liquid lipstick and they're unlike anything else I've used in the green beauty realm.  They come with a traditional doe-foot applicator and quickly dry down after application. If you need your lipstick to last or are worried about bolder colours moving around or smudging, these are just the thing!

The Lip Velvets are intensely pigmented and, once set, completely matte.  They're a product where you definitely want to take your time with application and quickly clean up any mistakes as, at least in the case of Uptown, they have a tendency to stain. They’re also incredibly longwearing. The colour starts to wear off first on the inside of the lips -- the wettest spot -- and the Lip Velvet needs to be touched up/reapplied after about six hours.  My one caveat with the Lip Velvets is that, while the first reapplication is great, any more than that can have them starting to look a little dry, cakey, or crusty. At that point, I'd suggest removing the product and starting fresh rather than multiple reapplications on top of itself. (And, speaking of removal, you do need a good makeup remover or oil to get these off your lips -- dry tissue or even just water won't cut it.)

In terms of comfort, the Lip Velvets aren’t an especially hydrating formula, but they're not drying either.  They’re comfortable and I don’t really feel them on the lips -- kind of comparable to wearing nothing all day.  My lips sometimes start to look a little dry a few hours in, but they still feel fine. I like to top them off with a lip balm for the look alone, but I haven't found my lips any worse for wear either way.

Uptown is a dark neutral berry/mauve and on my fair skin, it’s a reasonably bold colour.  I feel pretty vampy wearing it -- partly just a comfort level thing, I'm sure -- but I've seen it look a lot more natural on other ladies, dependent on skin tone.

Note: The Lip Velvet ingredients are mostly natural, but they do contain isododecane and two silicones.  Per CLOVE + HALLOW’s policy, these are safe synthetics that are necessary to achieve the performance of the product and they aren't anything I'm personally too worried about.  

Top to Bottom: Uptown Lip Velvet, Desert Rose Lip Crème, Angelic Lip Glaze
The Bottom Line
CLOVE + HALLOW has knocked it out of the park for me! All three of these products fully live up to the brand’s claims of healthy, high performance makeup with a beautiful aesthetic and a reasonable price tag.  I'm usually more of a sheer lip girl, but, surprisingly, this time it's the two more pigmented items that have me especially hooked.   The Lip Crèmes offer a perfect balance between comfort, wear, and colour, and the Lip Velvets are a unique liquid lipstick formula that's unlike any other green beauty product I've used.  I’m definitely interested in picking up more shades in the future and am also super curious about the company’s Conceal + Correct Concealer, which also garners great reviews.

If you're looking to make a purchase, the code"Affiliate15" will save you 15% off your next order!
Have you tried CLOVE + HALLOW? What are your thoughts on this young brand?

Press sample. Contains affiliate links.

31 March 2018

Alaffia Everyday Shea Hand Soap: A True Holy Grail

Hand soap may not be the most glamorous product out there, but, it’s a staple that most of us use multiple times a day and, as anyone with severe dry hands or eczema can attest, finding the right one can be pretty vital.  I featured Alaffia's Everyday Shea Hand Soaps in January’s Cheap Products Worth Splurging On post and I’ve mentioned them a few more times on Instagram, but, as I was getting ready to swap out my latest empty bottle for a new one, I felt like I was doing a disservice to one of my favourite products by not giving it the dedicated blog post that it so deserves.   

The Everyday Shea Hand Soaps ($5.39 USD for 12 ounces) have a pretty traditional gel consistency and they easily produce a rich lather.  And, most importantly, they do a fantastic job cleansing without over-drying or stripping the skin. My biggest hand soap challenge is the kitchen, since cooking can have me washing my hands upwards of six or eight times within a 30-45 minute period.  With other soaps, this has sometimes ravaged my hands, particularly during the winter, but the Everyday Shea Soaps are a glorious wonder product that delivers on both the cleaning AND hand care fronts.

The soap uses a mix of cocamidopropyl betaine, a mild coconut-derived surfactant, and naturally saponified shea butter soap.  The formula is also rounded out with moringa leaf extract and argan oil, plus essential oils that vary by scent.  The soaps are vegan, biodegradable, and free of synthetic fragrance, harsh preservatives, and other nasties.

The fruity Mandarin Mango is my favourite, but I have also repurchased the Peppermint Tingle, a mild and fresh mint scent.  The Lemon Verbena is nice too, but it smells more like a spicy lemongrass than the fresh citrus I typically associate with lemon verbena.  All three of these are noticeably scented but the aromas are not super strong or overpowering and they don't linger very long on the skin. There are also Honeysuckle, Vanilla Passion, and Lavender Spice options, none of which I’ve tried.  

I’m on bottle five or six at this point, and I can honestly say that I haven’t purchased another liquid hand soap since I discovered these.  I also have a couple backup bottles on hand, as they do have a tendency to go out of stock on iHerb, where I most frequently buy them. [One slight downside for Canadian readers: I’m not actually sure if these are in Canada at this point.  We have other Alaffia and Everyday Shea products, but I’ve not seen the hand soaps in stores here or from Canadian retailers like Well.ca.]

The Bottom Line
I recommend these for anyone with hands that need washing.  More seriously, the Everyday Shea Hand Soaps are a winner for me in all ways -- great ingredients, both highly functional and non-drying, mildly scented, and inexpensive.  Alaffia, also makes a point of giving back to the African communities from which they source many of their ingredients and I feel positive about supporting a company with so many ongoing charitable projects.

Contains affiliate links.
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