30 September 2018

Sensitive Skin Picks from Batty's Bath

Long time no blog, I know, but I’m excited to be back today with a review of two new-to-me Batty’s Bath products.  Batty’s Bath, a Canadian company based in London, Ontario, has quite the extensive product range and is quickly becoming one of my favourite Canadian skincare brands.  The company focuses on creating effective natural and cruelty-free products that really deliver on their promises.   Batty’s Bath first became known to me through their successes working with acne-prone skin, but I was especially intrigued to see what the company could do for sensitive skin when they launched their new Calendula Line last year.  The Calendula range was specifically developed for an employee with challenging reactive skin and rosacea, and a lot of time and care went into formulating these products.

I’ve been trialing two of the three main products in the Calendula Line and, after incorporating them into my routine over the last 2+ months, I feel confident saying that both are uber-gentle, soothing products, perfect not only for delicate, reactive, and sensitive skin, but also for just about anyone during this transitional time of year heading into the colder, dryer fall/winter months.  Keep reading for more details…


Calendula & Cucumber Cleanser ($34.95 for 5 oz)
The Calendula & Cucumber Cleanser* is a cream cleanser with a true lotion consistency.  It feels luxe and is extra soft to massage onto the skin.  Batty’s Bath describes the cleanser as a one-step double cleanse, combining an oil cleanser and cream cleanser into one cohesive step.  I agree, in that you can definitely use this product as your only cleanser – no double cleansing necessary – but since I legitimately enjoy the process of double cleansing, it hasn’t completely eliminated that from my life.  For no makeup days or days when I’m only wearing face makeup, I will often cleanse with just the once with the Calendula & Cucumber Facial Cleanser, but for eye makeup, I do still prefer pairing it with an oil cleanse step or dedicated makeup remover.

The cleanser is truly one of the gentlest and least invasive cleansers I’ve used on my skin.  Which isn’t to say it doesn’t get your face clean – it definitely does, just without even a hint of stripping or irritation.  The cleanser is unscented and does not emulsify, so it leaves behind a thin layer of soft moisture on the skin.  Skin is left clean, but also plump, moisturized, and soothed, courtesy of anti-inflammatory turmeric and calendula, soothing oat powder and cucumber extract, and moisturizing and balancing jojoba, sunflower, avocado, and argan oils.

Calendula & Oat Moisturizer ($34.95 for 2 oz)
The Calendula & Oat Moisturizer*, specifically formulated to minimize redness and inflammation and maximize skin radiance, is loaded with antioxidants and botanicals proven to lessen irritation, calm sensitive and reactive skin, and speed up the skin’s natural healing process.  These same calming properties also make it a good choice for those dealing with active acne breakouts. 

The moisturizer has a unique consistency.  It looks lusciously thick and rich in the jar, and while it is that, it also manages to feel quite lightweight on the skin.  My skin drinks it right up and the cream is absorbed almost immediately, leaving behind moisturized, happy skin, without any residue or greasiness.  I also like mixing in a drop of a face oil for an extra moisturizing kick when my skin is feeling dryer.  

The cream uses cucumber, rose, and calendula extracts to target inflammation below the skin’s surface and turmeric to improve circulation.  It also includes zinc, best known for fighting free radicals by blocking UV rays, which also acts as a potent anti-inflammatory.  The zinc, in combination with oat powder and oil balancing jojoba oil, also works to mattify the skin while simultaneously locking in moisture.  

The Calendula & Oat Moisturizer does a good job moisturizing skin and taking down redness and irritation, and it pairs well with a variety of other products in my routine too.  With no added essential oils, the moisturizer just has a very faint oat scent.  
  

The Bottom Line
Batty’s Bath has a great understanding of problem skin and I’m really happy to see them turn their focus towards ultra-sensitive and reactive skin with the new(ish) Calendula range.  I’m especially smitten with the Calendula & Cucumber Facial Cleanser, which cleanses with zero irritation, and the Calendula & Oat Moisturizer is a great gentle moisturizing product too.


 *Press Sample

1 August 2018

Oneka: Conscious Canadian Hair + Body Products

After hearing rumblings about Oneka on and off for the last several years, I was very excited to connect with the company at this year’s Toronto Holistic Beauty Expo.  Oneka, whose name comes from the Mohawk word for water, is a Canadian personal care company based in Frelighsburg, Québec.  The line, founded by Philippe Choiniere and Stacey Lecuyer, prides itself on creating natural, sustainable, and biodegradable personal care products that work with the environment rather than damaging or polluting it.  Oneka operates their own organic farm where they focus on permaculture -- creating systems and methods that are permanently beneficial to the environment and society -- and sustainable production.

I’ve been testing out some minis over the last several weeks, and I’ve got to say, I’m pretty smitten with what Oneka has to offer!  Keep reading for all the details…


Shampoo ($14.99 for 500ml)
Oneka’s shampoos and conditioners all contain a blend of organic burdock root, clary sage, nettle, rosemary, dandelion, and horsetail -- herbs that support strong hair and a healthy scalp.  The shampoo is gentle, lathers easily, and cleans well without stripping the hair. Day-to-day it works fantastic as a one-and-done wash, but if I’ve used a lot of hair products, I will go back and shampoo a second time to make sure everything comes clean.    

Conditioner ($14.99 for 500ml)
Of the trio, the conditioner has probably been the biggest standout for me.  Rich and lush without feeling heavy or greasy, it does a fantastic job moisturizing and defining my curls without weighing anything down.  If anything, I’d say it even seems to ever-so-slightly boost volume and bounce, all while imparting a nice slip. A small amount goes a long way too!

Shower Gel ($14.99 for 500ml)
With a similar herbal infusion to the hair products, plus the addition of soothing calendula extract, Oneka’s shower gels are specifically designed to be extra gentle on the skin.  Like the shampoo, the shower gel creates a foamy lather that rinses away easily. It leaves my skin feeling soft and clean without any dryness or irritation.

Photo Credit
The Scents
Oneka's hair and body products are available in four core varieties.  Ingredients vary only slightly between the different types, so, at least for me, scent is the main determiner here.  All scents are completely essential oil-based and I haven't found any of them to linger much outside the shower.

Angelica & Lavender -- smells like straight up lavender.  This is the strongest of the three scents and I do find it a little overpowering for my nose some days.

Cedar & Sage -- beautiful, earthy and foresty, the Cedar & Sage contains a lush blend of cedar, spruce, tea tree, and mandarin essential oils.  I’m not usually one for sprucy scents, but I love how fresh and airy this one is, and I can’t get enough!
Goldenseal & Citrus -- Despite the inclusion of both grapefruit and tangerine essential oils, I don’t get a lot of citrus from the Goldenseal & Citrus.  Ylang ylang takes front and centre, and it offers more of a mild floral aroma. If you don’t want to go all the way unscented, I think this one is the most neutral of the three scents.  

Unscented -- I haven’t used any of the unscented products yet, but as someone who always likes to keep unscented options on hand, I'm very tempted!  From giving the shampoo and conditioner a quick sniff in store, they do seem legitimately scent free.

The Bottom Line
I love finding new Canadian brands to recommend, and Oneka definitely fits the bill! With great products, an affordable price point, full ingredient transparency, and top-notch environmental policies and ethics, Oneka is a happy discovery and a company I'm sure I'll continue to buy from in the future.

*Press sample. Contains affiliate links.

18 July 2018

Inika Makeup: Certified Organic, Vegan, Cruelty Free + Halal

Inika is a popular Australian natural makeup brand that’s been on the green scene since 2006.  The entire line is mineral-based and certified cruelty free, vegan, and halal. Many products also hold Organic Food Chain Australia certification, indicating that they contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients.  I’ve been testing out the Light Trial Pack, which includes samples sizes of the Inika’s most popular base products (in shades suitable for light skin), and I want to share my thoughts on those items, along with a a couple other Inika products I’ve been using for quite some time.  



Certified Organic Pure Primer
I’m not a big face primer user and the Pure Primer hasn’t radically changed my mind.  A hydrating primer made with hyaluronic acid and organic oils, it moisturizes and does create a nice base for makeup, but, much like the Nude by Nature primer I reviewed in the spring, I don’t notice it doing anything more than my regular skincare, so, for me, it seems like an unnecessary extra step.  If you’re someone that enjoys a hydrating primer under makeup, I expect the Pure Primer would be a bigger hit. I’ve dabbled with using it as an under eye primer and I do like it for that purpose.  The extra moisture the primer provides helps concealer blend out a little easier, especially if some time has passed between applying eye cream and doing my makeup.


Certified Organic Liquid Foundation (Cream)
The Liquid Foundation is the surprise star of the kit -- I just love it!  I tried Inika’s liquid foundation several years ago, before they reformulated it, and the current iteration is a major improvement in my opinion.  The new foundation has very little scent and, while straight out of the tube, Cream (NL3), the second lightest shade in the range, looks like it would be way too dark for my skin, it does a surprisingly good job blending in and just leaves my face looking radiant and slightly sun kissed.  I’d be curious to try the next shade down for comparison, but I’ve had no problem matching Cream to my skin. My favorite way to apply the foundation is with my fingers as I find it gives the most natural and seamless application. I only get a light-to-medium coverage this way, but I’m confident that coverage could be built up with a brush or beauty sponge to a good medium or medium-to-full.  With a light dusting of powder on top, the foundation wears nicely for a full day -- at least 10 or so hours -- and, of the entire trial kit, is probably the item I’m most likely to repurchase in full size.

(top to bottom) Grace P1 Mineral Foundation, Strength N3 Mineral Foundation, Cream NL3 Liquid Foundation
Loose Mineral Foundation (Grace P1 + Strength N3)
As someone who wears powder foundation almost every day that I wear makeup, it’s fair to say I’ve tried a fair few over the last several years, and Inika’s Loose Mineral Foundation is really lovely.  It offers a medium coverage, has a natural, skin-like finish, and feels very lightweight on the face.  The finish is not fully matte, but it's also not overly glowy and it does a reasonably good job keeping any oilies at bay too. The foundation has also been tested at SPF 25, something I really appreciate since trying to be more diligent with sun protection these last few months.  My only gripe is that while the foundation looks beautiful when first applied, it definitely doesn't wear as long as some other powder foundations in my stash. I notice the coverage wearing off in certain areas, particularly on and around my nose, after just about 5 hours, so it isn’t a product I’d wear on long days when I’m unable to touch up.   

On first opening the kit, I again wasn’t confident that I’d find a colour match in either of the included shades, but Grace (P1) ended up matching me well.  Grace is fairly warm/yellow-toned, whereas I generally tend towards more neutral foundations, but it looks pretty natural once blended. I do slightly prefer the peachy-neutral undertones of Strength (N3), but the colour is too dark for my skin.  

(L to R) Cream NL3 Liquid Foundation, Strength N3 Loose Mineral Foundation, Grace P1 Loose Mineral Foundation, Eye Shadow Duo, Candy Lip Tint
Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow Duo (Gold Oyster*)
I’ve had the Eye Shadow Duo on my desk for over a year now and I still feel somewhat conflicted about it.  The darker bronze shade is phenomenal and I love wearing it as a one shadow look. I’m able to preserve all the shine by patting it onto the lid, and can also add definition by buffing it out a little in the crease.  It’s a super functional shadow that gives great dimension to any look, even when it’s the only colour on my eyes. On the other hand, I find the gold shade a little lackluster. It’s very soft in colour (the swatch, above, is super built up) and I haven’t ultimately been able to get the pigmentation I want out of it on the eyes, making it something that I don’t reach for very frequently.

The pressed shadows are talc and silicone free and I could argue that the duo is worth it for how beautiful the bronze is alone -- I really do love it -- but I can’t help wishing the gold was an equal standout.

Ultimate Lip Tint (Candy*)
I included the Ultimate Lip Tint in a roundup of sheer lip products last year and I still love it just as much as when I first wrote that post.  Basically an elevated tinted balm, the Lip Tints offer sheer colour in a creamy and buttery formula that legitimately does a fantastic job keeping lips healthy and moisturized.  The scent, a soft mix of cocoa butter and peppermint essential oil, is refreshing, and Candy is a pretty and shimmery pale pink. I definitely want to pick up another shade or two in the future!


The Bottom Line
Inika has some great products and, based off the updated foundation formula, is clearly a company willing to improve on itself, which I love!  The Ultimate Lip Tint and Organic Liquid Foundation have been my two favorites from the brand thus far, but I also really enjoy the bronze Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow and Loose Mineral Foundation.  The Organic Pure Primer isn’t something I really have a place for in my routine, but those who enjoy a moisturizing primer might enjoy using it. If you’re interested in Inika’s base products, the Trial Packs are a great way to try multiple products for a low cost investment and I’d definitely recommend going that route.

Have you tried anything from Inika?  What are your favourite products from the line?
*Press sample. Contains affiliate links.

2 July 2018

Lightweight, Skin-Quenching Hydration with One Love Organics Skin Dew

One Love Organics, to me, is one of the long haul, OG natural skincare brands.  They’ve been around for years, but they continue to innovate and create new and fantastic products all the time.  I’d had my eye on the Skin Dew Coconut Water Cream ever since it launched in 2016, so when I saw it as one of two featured products in the April Art of Organics box -- selling for less than the cream's retail price alone -- I was quick to grab it.  


Skin Dew ($58 USD for 2.1oz) is an EcoCert certified organic lightweight moisturizer made with more than 50% pure organic coconut water.  In addition to hydration, coconut water offers a high mineral, amino acid, enzyme, and antioxidant content to nourish skin.  It does not have the same comedogenic properties as coconut oil, so even those sensitive to the oil -- myself included -- can often benefit from products containing coconut water or juice.  

The cream also contains:

Cupuacu butter, rich in polyphenols to condition skin.

Sunflower, acacia, watermelon seed, and jojoba oils for lightweight, protective, sebum-balancing moisture and defense against environmental stresses.

Phytic acid sourced from rice to reduce dryness and help soften the appearance of fine lines.  



Even though I’d read multiple reviews of Skin Dew, the cream wasn’t at all what I expected -- but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!  With such a high coconut water content, I had envisioned more of a gel moisturizer, or at least a gel-cream hybrid, and Skin Dew has a definite thick cream consistency.  That said, it feels silky and surprisingly lightweight on the skin and absorbs fully almost instantly, leaving skin soft and moisturized without even a hint of grease or oiliness. I’ve talked about skin's water vs. oil needs many times before and I'm a huge proponent of including both water and oil-based products in one's routine, so I love that Skin Dew does a fantastic job straddling the line between the two.  It’s a great moisturizer on its own, layered with other products, or mixed with face oils, and it sits nicely under makeup too.

Skin Dew has a very mild coconut scent -- reminiscent of good quality coconut oil as opposed to fragrance -- but I don’t notice any scent on my skin after the product is rubbed in.  

The Bottom Line
Skin Dew is a unique cream moisturizer that offers a lot in the way of hydration.  Lightweight, moisturizing, and gentle, it's suitable for many skin types including sensitive and acne-prone.  

Contains affiliate links.

11 June 2018

A European Hand Cream Edit ft. Aurelia, Benecos, Alva + Lavera

There are few things I love as much as a good hand cream, and while I’ve found some solid favourites over the years, the product junkie in me is always up for seeing what’s out there and trying new things.  I’ve been testing out several new-to-me hand creams over the last few months and, while none of them have quite overtaken my longtime favorite -- the Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Hand Cream -- I have discovered some good ones, including a new lightweight favourite that’s perfect for the warmer months or for those times when you just don’t need as intense of a lotion.  

Keep reading for a full breakdown on the six European hand creams I’ve been experimenting with recently...


Alva Hand Cream + Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream
These two hand creams are my first products from German-made Alva and I like them both a lot. The richer Sea Buckthorn formula is my favorite of the two, mainly for its fresh lemony scent, but also because, made with shea and cocoa butters, it feels a little more nourishing.  The original hand cream smells mostly like tea tree oil to me, with just a hint of citrus coming through underneath.  Both creams moisturize very well and absorb reasonably quickly too.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream
The Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream promises to hydrate and nourish skin while helping diminish dark spots and pigmentation.  I don’t have dark spots or pigmentation on my hands so I can’t speak to those claims, but as a moisturizing product, it’s pretty fantastic.  The hand cream is thick but not heavy, and feels very healing on dry, dehydrated, or chapped skin. It’s also great on dry cuticles.  The cream isn’t oily or greasy, but it does take a minute or two to fully sink in. The scent -- a blend of vetiver, ylang ylang, lavender, patchouli, bergamot, juniper, rosemary, and lemon -- is herbal, floral and just generally lovely.  This is definitely one of the more strongly fragranced natural hand creams I’ve used and the scent does linger on the skin. At £28/$52 USD for 75 ml, it's a pricey hand cream, but if you have the money and want to splurge, it's a beautiful product.  

Benecos Sea Buckthorn & Orange Hand & Nail Cream
Way at the other end of the price spectrum, we have the Benecos Sea Buckthorn & Orange Hand & Nail Cream, retailing for a mere £2.08 -- or, a little higher in North America at ±$9 CAD -- for the same 75 ml.  After mixed experiences with Benecos products, I purchased this cream without high expectations, but it is undoubtedly my favourite discovery of the bunch.  The Hand & Nail Cream is lightweight and quick to absorb, and it leaves skin silky soft and deeply hydrated.  I also adore the product’s light and fruity scent, which comes from a mix of essential oils and natural fragrance. I know the cream is supposed to smell like oranges, but it also smells a little peachy and a little green/herbal to my nose.  The scent is beautiful, but also light and inoffensive. Seriously, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this guy!

Lavera Basis Sensitiv Hand Cream + 2-in-1 Hand & Cuticle Cream
Lavera makes some fantastic products, but the hand creams were pretty unimpressive to me.  Both versions have alcohol as the fourth ingredient and they just don’t offer any kind of long lasting moisturization.  The creams feel nice enough in the moment, but within an hour or two, my hands are dry again, almost as if I hadn’t used anything at all.  In terms of scent, the Basis line is pretty unobtrusive to my nose, but the Hand & Cuticle Cream wasn’t a favourite -- to me, it smells a little old-fashioned and a little like sunscreen.  

The Bottom Line
Lavera’s two hand creams did not impress me, but the other four are all solid products in my book.  I’m especially smitten with the budget-friendly Benecos Sea Buckthorn Hand & Nail Cream and I also wouldn’t hesitate to rebuy the Alva Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream.

Contains affiliate links.
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