10 February 2016

Batty's Bath Whipped Cream Foundation

I'm usually a year round powder foundation wearer, but once the colder temperatures hit this winter, my regular mineral foundations just weren't doing the trick anymore.  Right around the same time, I was offered the chance to try out a couple products from Batty's Bath, a London, Ontario company I'd seen raved about before and had followed on Instagram for several months previously, and I knew right away I wanted to try out the company's Whipped Cream Foundation*.

The Whipped Cream Foundation ($34 CAD for 0.5 oz) is both vegan and gluten free, and, as the name would suggest, has a creamy, moussy consistency.  The ingredients are super clean and natural, and the formula is free of common allergens and skin sensitizers. 

My skin has reacted negatively to a lot of cream and liquid foundations in the past, so I was cautiously optimistic to try the Whipped Cream Foundation.  My problem with most cream and liquid formulas is twofold: 
1) they often feel heavy, or, at a minimum, noticeable on the skin
2) they leave me with clogged/congested pores if I wear them for more than a couple days in a row.

Happily, I haven't had either problem with the Batty's Bath foundation!  

The foundation is very creamy, but at the same time, it has a drier feel on the skin than other cream products I've used.  It doesn't quite set to a full powder finish, but once it's applied and blended, skin feels basically dry to the touch and not tacky, greasy, or coated in makeup.  This finish also means that - at least in the winter - it isn't a product I absolutely need to set with powder, although I do find that a light dusting helps the foundation wear a few hours longer.  The foundation also feels very lightweight on the skin and isn't makeup that I can feel sitting heavily on my face throughout the day.  

As for the second point, I've been wearing this foundation pretty much exclusively since early January and haven't experienced any skin issues.  I don't wear makeup every single day, but there have been weeks when I've worn it five or six consecutive days and I still haven't had any problems with clogged pores or congested skin, something I credit to the foundation's simple and skin-friendly ingredients.

Instead of the coconut oil frequently found in natural cream products, Batty's Bath relies on a base of organic jojoba and apricot kernel oils and organic shea butter.  All three rank considerably lower on the comedogenic scale than coconut oil, and are suitable for both sensitive and acne-prone skin types.  The formula also includes lavender and rosewood essential oils, great for multiple skin concerns.  The essential oils also give the foundation a delicate herbal scent.  The remainder of the ingredients list is short and excludes unnecessary bulking agents and fillers.

The foundation has a good, solid medium/buildable coverage.  A light application evens out skin tone and makes skin look pretty and perfected, but still natural, while fuller coverage can be achieved with a heavier application.  The finish is very natural and skin-like.  It's not overly dewy or glowy, but it's also not a flat matte on the skin.  

The foundation also easily doubles as a concealer.  My undereyes tend to be pretty dark and most days I'll opt just to use a second thin layer of foundation topped with a brightening powder, rather than adding in a separate cream concealer.

Check out the before and after photos! (Click to enlarge.)  Relying on natural sunlight in the middle of winter means the lighting changed a little between photos, but hopefully you can still get a good representation of the foundation.  The first photo is bare faced, second is with just the Whipped Cream Foundation, and the third is the foundation + a setting powder, blush, brow pencil, and lipstick.  I've also posted a couple photos of me wearing the foundation on Instagram this past month.

My favorite way to apply this foundation is with my fingers.  A little bit goes a long way and fingers help the product spread and sheer out easily for a lighter makeup look -- my preference day-to-day.  Because of the foundation's thicker, cream consistency, I find it difficult to get a light application with a brush, but if you're aiming for fuller coverage, a buffing brush and a little more product will easily accomplish that. 

As with any foundation, well-prepped skin is essential.  My skin leans a little dry, and if I haven't moisturized quite enough, the Whipped Cream Foundation can cling to drier patches on my face.  Patting over it with a damp sponge usually does the trick when this happens, so it's not been a big deal.  Batty's Bath also suggests mixing the foundation with a small amount of a hydrating product like their Hydra Healing Rescue Gel for dry skin, but that's not something I've experimented with so far.  

Color Range
The Whipped Cream Foundation comes in seven shades.  I chose Fawn - the second lightest shade in the range - because of its pinker undertones.  My skin is very neutral, but happily Fawn isn't super pink - it's more peachy than anything - so it matches my skin very well. The seven shades offer a good range of both cool and warm shades for light and medium skin tones, but I'd love to see Batty's Bath add a couple darker shades in the future as currently there's only one color suitable for deeper skin tones.  

The Bottom Line
Definitely a big hit!  With wonderful ingredients and great buildable coverage, I think the Whipped Cream Foundation would work well for a lot of people.  The foundation never feels slippery or greasy on the skin, and it wears well throughout the day.  Despite being a cream formula, my skin has been very okay with it - truly, I don't think my skin has ever been this happy with cream or liquid makeup before - and it's a product I see myself using and enjoying for a long time.  If you're in the market for a new foundation, I highly recommend giving this one a try!

*Press sample

29 January 2016

iHerb Haul + First Impressions (+ Birthday Giveaway #4!)

For my actual birthday today, I've teamed up with one of my favorite online stores, iHerb, for my final giveaway of the month.  iHerb is an online retailer selling all kinds of healthy products: supplements, food, cosmetics, household supplies, and more!   Basically they sell the same kinds of things you'd find in a health food store, but at a substantially lower cost.

I've been ordering from iHerb since 2011 (I even documented very first order here) and I've always had a great experience.  From a Canadian viewpoint, I get access to brands that we don't have here, as well as lower prices on the ones we do.  Even with the exchange and the Canadian dollar doing so poorly, most things still work out to lower, or at least comparable, prices to what I'd pay locally.  iHerb lets you check out in Canadian dollars (or other currencies) and they've also recently added a new DHL shipping option that collects tax on Canadian orders, so you don't have to worry about being charged tax or fees at the door.  I also received this most recent order in 1 day with the new DHL shipping, which is crazy impressive!

Customer service is also great.  I haven't had any major issues in the more than 30 orders (!!) I've placed, but any problems have always been taken care of easily and appropriately. iHerb also has a simple rewards program if you want to refer friends, as well as new loyalty credits that reward everyone with 10% of all purchases back in store credit.

Clearly I've done my share of shopping with iHerb on my own dime , so when they offered to sponsor this post, I was excited to work with a company I already think highly of AND to have the chance to give two of you a chance to try iHerb for yourselves (more on that later!)  All opinions are, as always, fully my own.

Keep reading for a peek at my latest iHerb order and first impressions on the things I picked up.  

Stick around until the end to enter the giveaway, or if you don't want to wait, use my referral code ITI429 for $5 off your first order now!

Andalou Naturals Chia + Omega Radiant Skin Polish + Blemish Vanishing Gel
The Chia + Omega Skin Polish was featured as one of my Top 15 of 2015 and is a firm favorite of mine.  This will be my third tube of the scrub, which offers a perfect balance between gentleness and thorough exfoliation.

The Blemish Vanishing Gel is a salicylic acid spot treatment.  I didn't actually pick this up for pimples, but instead for use on a single millia-like blemish that I've had on my cheek for a few months now.  Nothing else has worked on it, and after seeing multiple recommendations for salicylic acid, I thought I'd give it a try.  Usually a higher content than the 2% in this spot treatment is recommended, but I haven't seen any higher ones with clean ingredients, so I thought, since salicylic acid hasn't touched my skin in more than 10 years, the lower percentage MIGHT still do the trick.  And it has, sort of.  The bump got noticeably smaller within the first couple days using the Vanishing Gel, but it hasn't gone away completely yet.  The Blemish Gel also works great on regular breakouts/pimples.  

Both products also came with free minis of other Andalou products.  I received the Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream, which I've actually been using for the past few months, and the new to me Kombucha Enzyme Exfoliating Peel, which I'm excited to try.  I love when Andalou includes freebies like this!

DeVita Revitalizing Eye Lift Creme

I was debating between DeVita's Eye Creme and Eye Serum, but this review on kimberlyloc.com pushed me over the edge on the creme.  In addition to the affordable price point, what intrigued me about both eye products was the inclusion of Vitamin K, a circulation booster that can be very effective on dark circles.  The Eye Creme is a rich cream that also includes hyaluronic acid, shea butter, oat beta glucan, and Tetrapeptide-3.  I've been using it for almost two weeks now and I can't say I've noticed much difference beyond moisturization, but I'm hopeful for more visible results with longer use.

Pacifica Camellia Blushious Coconut & Rose Infused Cheek Color

I've had my eye on these Pacifica blushes ever since they launched a few months ago, and I finally picked up Camellia, a light pink/peach with slight gold sparkle.  I really like it!  The Blushious blushes are described as sheer mineral cheek colors, and as the description suggests, Camellia isn't highly pigmented.  It's a pretty color, but I do find I need to layer quite a bit on even my fair skin, so I doubt this color would show up very well on deeper skin tones.

Mineral Fusion Ruby Lipstick
After falling in love with Mineral Fusion's Sheer Moisture Lip Tints last year, I thought I'd try one of their regular lipsticks.  Happily, it's been an all around hit as well!  The copper tube is beautiful, the formula is great, and I love the color I chose as well.  Ruby is basically my perfect red: a bit deeper than a classic red, with very slight berry tones.  It's a gorgeous shade that reminds me a lot of the much spendier Aux Rouge Lip Boost from Gressa, only a hair darker and housed in a traditional lipstick bullet.

Emani Plush Hydrating Lip Color

My love for sheer lip colors is no secret, so when I spotted Emani's Hydrating Lip Colors, I thought they'd be right up my alley.  After looking at swatches, I chose Plush, a medium/bright pink.  The formula is sheer but buildable and although it's not extremely hydrating, it feels comfortable on the lips.  My only issue is that the lipstick has a sweet, almost vanilla-like scent and there's nothing in the ingredients list to account for that smell.  I've contacted Emani for more information, but I haven't heard back so far.

Everyday Minerals Sugared Mauve Tinted Lip Butter

The Tinted Lip Butter in Nearly Nude is one of my favorite everyday lip products, so I decided to pick up another color.  The formula on these is wonderful and Sugared Mauve is a pretty, sheer mauvey-nude - very wearable and also great for everyday!

Hurraw! Sun Balm
Sun Balm is my favorite SPF lip balm and it's a product I'm happy to have it back in my life.  SPF 15 from non-nano uncoated zinc oxide and no real whitecast make this a fantastic product to keep in your sun protection arsenal.  It also smells yummy - like a vanilla-orange creamsicle.  The Sun Balm has a thicker/creamier formula than the regular Hurraw! balms and I prefer both the feel and how it lasts considerably longer on the lips.

Blum Naturals Oil Absorbing Facial Tissues
I feel like you should be able to just pick up blotting tissues at the drugstore, but it's amazing how many additional ingredients sneak into those things!  The Blum Oil Absorbing Tissues are basic powderless blotting papers and they work well at removing oil/shine without disturbing makeup.  They're a staple in my purse.

Mineral Fusion Northern Lights Mini Nail Polish Kit

Mineral Fusion nail polishes are 5-free and one of my favorite formulas.  If I could buy all my nail polishes as minis, I totally would, which is also why I love these kits so much.  The Northern Lights Kit, specifically, was a 2015 holiday release and includes Coal Mine (black with silver shimmer), Cascade (shimmery silver), and Blue Nile (metallic dark teal).  I can't wait to use these!

I'm excited to give away two $50 shopping sprees to iHerb!  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.  

The giveaway is open to anywhere iHerb ships.  Winner must have an iHerb account (or register with iHerb) to claim the prize.  Shipping will be taken care of by iHerb, but the winners, if outside the US, are responsible for any additional taxes/duties/brokerage fees levied to them by their Customs Agency and/or Postal Service.

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25 January 2016

Disappointing Products #4

How do you feel about less-than-stellar reviews?  It seems like there's an ongoing debate amongst bloggers as to whether or not one should share less favorable opinions of products or just stick to talking about the things we love.  Negative reviews aren't nearly as fun to write, it's true, but I've always felt it was important to share less glowing opinions as well, which is why I do these Disappointing Products posts every so often.  

As always, this isn't intended to bash any of these brands - most of whom actually make other products I love - only to share why these particular items haven't worked for me.  

Nubian Heritage EVOO & Moringa Repair & Extend Shine Gel
I actually included this in my last disappointing products post (oops!) but I forgot I'd ever written about it when I gathered up this latest batch to photograph.  Clearly I've held onto it for way too long at this point!  To reiterate that first post, the gel itself actually performed really well the few times I used it, but I struggle with the scent.  It's strong and perfumey, and lasts all day in my hair.  The ingredients list only a "proprietary essential oil blend," and while it may only be essential oils, the scent is quite reminiscent of synthetic fragrance and isn't something I can tolerate.  I haven't tried anything else from Nubian Heritage, so I don't know if it's just this one product or the entire line, but I'd advise caution if you're someone sensitive to scents.  I can't find this exact product on the Nubian Heritage website anymore and it's out of stock from a lot of other retailers, so it may have been discontinued.

Benecos Natural Creamy Makeup
This foundation baffles me, as I just can't imagine how anyone could make it work.  It's a liquid foundation with a thick creamy consistency, but it sets almost as soon as it touches the skin, making it nearly impossible to work with.  Because of how quickly it dries, it's a struggle to spread or sheer out, and tends to look heavy and cakey.  It also has a sickly sweet honey-like scent and - something I didn't initially realize - contains talc. 

Balanced Guru Antioxidant Masque
Balanced Guru's Calming Masque is one of my all-time favorite skincare items, but the Antioxidant Masque did not leave my skin happy.  The mask contains a blend of antioxidant-rich berries and spices, and it smells delicious: like cinnamon and cloves.  I've noticed a pattern recently whereby my skin doesn't do well with these warm spices in products that stay on the skin, and this mask - much like May Lindstrom's Problem Solver - left my skin red, hot, and burning.  I really do love Balanced Guru as a brand, so if you're usually okay with these spices, it might still be worth a try.  

Everyday Minerals Soft Peach Color Corrector Stick
The color of this corrector/concealer is a fantastic pale peach, but unfortunately, it blends away to nothing.  There's virtually no coverage, even with multiple layers, and any brightening or color correcting properties are very minimal as well.  The ingredients are great and it's a hydrating formula, so I may give it one more try as a sheer foundation.

Juice Beauty Nutrient Moisturizer    
This moisturizer is advertised as a nutrient-rich cream suitable for all skin types, but I found it way too heavy on my normal-to-dry skin, so I question if it would suit anyone other than the ultra-dry.  It never seemed to absorb and instead just sat on top of my skin.  As a result, it didn't work well under makeup, and even when used at night, I'd wake up with a film from the cream still on my face.  I also found my face got shiny/oily throughout the day while using it, which isn't something I normally deal with.

Have you used any of these products?  I'd love to know if you were similarly underwhelmed or if they worked differently for you!

Contains affiliate links

22 January 2016

Lovacado Extra Virgin Avocado Oil + Avocado Face & Body Mask (+ Birthday Giveaway #3!)

Avocado: it's not just for eating anymore.  The same combo of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and antioxidants that makes avocado such a healthy food, are also wonderful used topically on both skin and hair.

And that's where Lovacado, a Toronto company based around the humble avocado, comes in.

Lovacado believes in going back to basics and wants people to rediscover the effectiveness of simple natural ingredients.  Everything is simply formulated with minimal, high quality ingredients and is free of synthetic preservatives, additives, and colors.  Currently the line consists of two key products: Extra Virgin Avocado Oil* and an Avocado Powder Face & Body Mask*.

Extra Virgin Avocado Oil
Like many other oils, Lovacado's Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is a fantastic multi-use product that can be used on the face, body, and hair.  Avocado oil, extracted from the green flesh of the avocado, is a great emollient oil high in vitamins A, D, and E, lecithin, potassium, beta carotene, chlorophyll, and unsaturated fatty acids.  Lovacado's oil is cold-pressed, extra virgin, and mixed only with essential oils.

Avocado oil is a richer oil, often recommended for dry or mature skin, but - assuming you aren't using unnecessarily copious amounts - it absorbs well and won't leave skin greasy or slippery.  I find it a little too heavy to use alone on the face, but a drop or two mixed in with lighter oils or a cream moisturizer is great for an intense shot of moisture.  I also love using it as a body oil and in my hair.

In fact, while prior to this I was an argan oil devotee, I think I like Lovacado's oil as a leave-in even more!  I run a few drops through the damp ends of my hair after showering and it leaves them smooth and ultra soft.  It can also be used pre-wash as a nourishing deep conditioning treatment.

Lovacado's oil is available unscented and in three scents: sweet orange, lemon, and lavender.  I've tried the three scented versions and they're all lovely.  Fresh smelling and scented enough to be noticeable as you use them, but never overpowering.  Every bottle of oil also comes with a Lovacado refillable travel bottle that makes it super easy to carry the oil with you.  

Avocado Powder Face & Body Mask
Despite knowing the skin and hair benefits, avocados never actually make it out of my kitchen, which is why this avocado powder has been so fantastic.  Made of 100% dehydrated avocado powder, it's easy to work with and makes a great mask, both on its own and in combination with other ingredients.  The powder, which smells just like avocado, starts out a little chunky, but it smooths out as you mix it with water.  

My favorite way to use it has been combining equal parts avocado powder and bentonite clay to make a gentler clay mask, perfect for more sensitive or delicate skin.  This combo gives the best of both worlds: detox and exfoliation from the clay, and moisture and collagen-boosting nutrients from the avocado powder.  The avocado powder also makes a wonderful moisturizing mask, either on its own or mixed with a little honey.  I'm curious to try incorporating it into a hair mask next!

The Bottom Line
I love the simplicity of Lovacado's ingredients and, clearly, I'm a fan of how the products perform as well.  The oil is great for a multitude of uses, and the powder is a unique mask ingredient I haven't seen anywhere else.  I think both will be great year round, but they've been especially fantastic for keeping my skin hydrated through this latest cold spell.

I've also teamed up with Lovacado to give TWO of you the chance to try these avocado delights for yourselves.  Each winner will receive a bottle of Extra Virgin Avocado Oil in the scent of their choice, the Avocado Face & Body Mask, and a refillable travel bottle.  

The giveaway is limited to US/Canada.  You must follow Lovacado on at least one platform to enter.  All other entries are optional.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.

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*Press sample

15 January 2016

Ursa Major Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant (+ Birthday Giveaway #2!)

Deodorant is undoubtedly one of the most difficult products to green in your routine, but it's also one of the most vital.   Conventional deodorants and antiperspirant are loaded with chemicals, heavy metals, and synthetic fragrance, and lymph nodes in the armpits readily absorb and hold onto these toxins.

Thankfully there are plenty of healthier options out there today, including Ursa Major's new-to-the-scene Hoppin' Fresh Deodorant*.  I've been using Hoppin' Fresh for upwards of a month now and I'm happy to report that it's quickly become one of my favorite deodorants.

It wasn't, however,  a completely smooth road to love for me and this odor fighter.  My testing experience went something like this:

Days 1-3: The honeymoon stage.  I smell fresh and clean all day and love everything about the deodorant.

Days 4-8: Trouble in paradise.  Odor protection starts to last only 4-5 hours before wearing off.  Reapplying helps for a short time, but the deodorant wears off again in another 2-3 hours.

Days 9+: Back on track.  Hoppin' Fresh starts lasting again and I'm back to smelling good the entire day, sans reapplications.

Which just goes to show that, even for someone who's been exclusively using natural deodorant for years, there can still be an adjustment period when switching to something new.

Setting aside odor protection for a moment, the most unique thing about Hoppin' Fresh is just how comparable it is to conventional deodorant in both feel and application.  The deodorant is a smooth, firm stick (not even a hint of crumbling here!) that glides on super easily.  This perfect, almost gel-like consistency is pretty standard in mainstream deodorants, but it's something I haven't found in other natural ones - and goodness knows I've tried more than a few!  It goes on clear, dries quickly, and won't stain clothes either.  

The smooth texture is courtesy of a base of soothing aloe vera juice and the often vilified propanediol.  Without going off on too much of a tangent, propanediol is often linked to propylene glycol due to similarities in chemical structure, but there are some notable differences.  Where PG is petrochemical-based, propanediol is mainly derived from corn sugar fermentation.  Manufacturing doesn't have the same environmental impact as that of a petrochemical, nor does the end product carry the same allergy or toxicity concerns.  

Hoppin' Fresh isn't an antiperspirant - and really, you wouldn't want it to be! - but kaolin clay does its part absorbing moisture.  I've never felt excessively wet or sweaty while using it.

When it comes to odor protection, Ursa Major has you covered with a powerful trifecta of anti-microbial and anti-bacterial hops extract, baking soda, and essential oils.  I know baking soda is an issue for an increasing number of people, but even if the thought has you cringing in anticipated agony, I wouldn't write this deodorant off just yet.  I've had problems using "simple" baking soda formulas for the last six months or so, but I haven't experienced any irritation from Hoppin' Fresh.  I've even tested it immediately after shaving without any issues.

As I mentioned, it took a little over a week for the odor protection to fully level out for me, but since then, it's been top-notch.  I only apply the deodorant once a day and I still find myself smelling fresh the following morning.  Granted, it's winter here now, but judging by how well it holds up to a sweaty workout, I'm pretty confident Hoppin' Fresh will fare well in the warmer months too.  Out of the tube and freshly applied, the deodorant smells minty and herbal thanks to a blend of plant extracts and peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and grapefruit essential oils, but while the odor protection lasts, the scent wears off pretty quickly, so even if herbal scents aren't your thing, it's unlikely to bother you much or interfere with any other scents you may want to wear.

The Bottom Line
Whether you're a natural deodorant pro, or you're new and struggling, I think Hoppin' Fresh is worth a try!  It applies very similarly to conventional deodorant and is simultaneously gentle on the skin and offers some of the strongest odor protection I've found in a natural deodorant.

I've also teamed up with Ursa Major to give one of you the chance to try Hoppin' Fresh, as well as Ursa Major's two other new releases: the Citrus Riot Body Wash and Perfect Zen Body Lotion.

The giveaway is limited to US/Canada.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget, below, to enter.

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*Press sample
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