1 October 2014

Small But Mighty: Skincare Minis from Kaia, Hush & Dotti + Earthbody

You know what they say about good things coming in small packages?  Never more true than with these skincare minis.  They may not be the biggest, but all three are pretty darn fantastic.  

Hush & Dotti Original Balm Cleanser

Hush & Dotti is a vegan, cruelty free skincare line committed to making high quality, natural and organic small batch products.  As I understand it, the Balm Cleanser was the company's inaugural creation and what started it all.  Cleansing with a balm always feels a bit strange to me, but I've enjoyed using this one nonetheless, particularly during the transition to drier fall weather.  The balm is rich and buttery, but not at all waxy, so it wipes off easily and doesn't leave your face feeling coated.  Instead, you're left with soft, hydrated, touchable skin.  Hush & Dotti's formula is also coconut oil free, great for those of us who can't tolerate coconut oil on the face.  The cleanser also has a really pleasant, slightly spicey, herbal scent.  

Kaia Bamboo Tapioca Beads*
Kaia's Bamboo Tapioca Beads are a dry powder that - once activated with the liquid of your choice - can be used as either an exfoliating cleanser or a face mask.  Composed mainly of bamboo, tapioca, and kaolin clay, the powder is gentle, but also very effective.  The powder form may seem like extra effort, but I really love how it allows you to easily customize it, just by switching up the liquid component.  You can use anything from water to tea, an oil, honey, yogurt, or even a liquid face cleanser.  Whatever you choose to use, the beads leave your face feeling smooth and refreshed and they smell great too - fresh and citrusy!

Earthbody Brighten Cleanser + Mask
Brighten is a rhassoul clay-based cleanser/mask that came in the August Petit Vour box and has quickly become a favorite.  It's packed with thirteen plant and fruit powders, including acai, papaya, guava, mangosteen, and pineapple to "firm, lift, and hydrate without depleting essential moisture."  I've only used it as a mask thus far, but it can also be used as a rinse off cleanser.  

Have you tried any of these?

*Press sample

27 September 2014

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar + Rooibos Tea Clarifying Hair Rinse

I've mentioned struggling with buildup several times before, so I'm happy to report that I think I've finally found a fantastic, long term solution that works better than any clarifying shampoo or other store bought option I've tried.  Plus, not only does this work, it's also inexpensive and incredibly easy to make.

The scalp - like the rest of our skin - has a natural pH of 4.5 - 5.5 and is protected by an acid mantle that provides a natural defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and environmental hazards.  Soaps and shampoos - which often have a very basic pH - can disrupt this acid mantle, leaving your scalp more vulnerable.  Because of vinegar's acidity, vinegar rinses can help to bring your scalp back to a healthy pH and restore the acid mantle.  They're also great for killing bacteria and fungus, smoothing the hair cuticle, and reducing dandruff.

I added rooibos (or African redbush) to minimize the strong vinegar smell, but this tea also brings a whole host of other benefits.  Rooibos is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help prevent free radical damage.  It's also high in flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to reduce allergic responses and histamine release, making it excellent for anyone with scalp irritation or sensitivity.

The two combined make a very versatile rinse, which can be used every time you wash your hair, or just as an occasional clarifying treatment.  I notice the best results when I limit use to once every week or two, and when I do use it, I make sure to really saturate the scalp and hair - using somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of the batch each time.  I also follow with a conditioner, but depending on your hair, you may find that step unnecessary.  

I haven't found any accounts of rooibos dying hair and I haven't noticed any change in my own hair color, but if you have light hair, you may want to replace it with a different, lighter colored tea.

Now, on to the (super simple) recipe!

1 teaspoon rooibos tea leaves 
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

Steep tea in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.  Let cool and strain.  Add in apple cider vinegar and mix well to combine.  

To use, shampoo hair normally, then apply rinse, making sure to really work it into the scalp.  Let sit on hair for at least 5 minutes, then rinse out.  Follow with conditioner, as needed.  

Store any leftover rinse in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Have you tried ACV hair rinses before?

24 September 2014

Sample Stash #11: Eye Products

I've used Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream for most of the last year, but when it ran out in August, I decided to dig out all my eye product samples and give them a whirl before replacing it. 

Here's what I had hanging around my stash and brief opinions on each:

Weleda Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream
I liked how lightweight this was during the hotter weather.  It gives a slight tightening feeling as it goes on, but it didn't do much of anything for my dark circles or puffiness.  Smelled fruity but not overpoweringly so.

Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Eye Cream
Still pretty light, but a little heavier than the Pomegranate, this was definitely my favorite of the two Weleda eye creams.  Again, I didn't notice drastic results, but it helped a little with puffiness and was great under makeup.  The scent was also mild and completely non-offensive, even for a non-rose lover like me.

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum
I love other Kahina products, but this one just didn't do it for me.  I didn't notice any difference in my eye area, and I wasn't impressed with the slight tacky film that the serum leaves behind after it dries.  Layering another cream on top gets rid of the tackiness, but I'm still not completely sold.

Consonant Ultra Moisturizing + Ultra Firming Organic Eye Creams
I'm grouping these together because, honestly, I didn't notice a big difference between the two.  They're both thick, rich, unscented creams that work really well for puffyness.  If puffy eyes are your main concern, they're fabulous - they work better in that regard than anything else I've tried - but they didn't do much for dark circles.  I also find them a little too heavy for mornings, if I don't have time to wait before applying makeup.

Young Living Wolfberry Eye Cream (not pictured)
When my mom heard I was testing eye creams, she gave me a sample of her eye cream to try too.  I used to use this as a teenager, and I do notice it makes my dark circles a little bit lighter.  It's good at night, but like the Consonant, I don't love it in the morning, since it needs that little extra time to soak in before I can comfortably apply concealer on top.

The Bottom Line
My under eye area is probably my biggest skin concern these days, so I can be a bit fussy with eye products.  I know you can't always adequately judge something like this from just using a sample, but nonetheless, none of these sold me enough that I'll be buying the full size.  I'm still on the fence about what I want to use.  I really like the Pure + Simple, but after almost a year, I'm up for using something different....

What are your favorite eye products?  I'm totally open to recommendations!

Contains affiliate links.

20 September 2014

The Cure Apothecary (Toronto)

Thursday night, I was able to attend a media meet and greet at Toronto's newest green beauty shop: The Cure Apothecary.  

I hear a lot of complaints about how difficult it is to find actual brick and mortar stores that sell natural products, so I'm grateful for the growing selection we have here in Toronto.  Joining fixtures like The Detox Market, Husk, and The Big Carrot, and literally steps from Logan & Finley, The Cure Apothecary is a welcome addition to Queen West.  

The store carries a curated selection of brands including John Masters, Skin Essence Organics, CV Skinlabs, One Love Organics, EvanHealy, and Antipodes.  

And now, a few photos to whet your appetite...

It's a great space and definitely worth popping into if you find yourself in Queen West!

18 September 2014

Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt

If you saw my End of Summer Favorites, it won't come as a great shock that I've got a fantastic new cleanser to talk about today.  Evolve is a British skincare line I've had my eye one for quite some time now.  The entire line is certified organic by Ecocert and every product contains at least 99.5% natural ingredients.  All the packaging is made of 100% recycled plastic and is fully recyclable, and the company makes a point of using fair trade ingredients whenever possible.  In addition, Evolve was founded on ideas of "affordable luxury," so the price point is pretty reasonable too.  As you might imagine, when I spotted the Gentle Cleansing Melt on sale back in July, I was quick to snatch it up.  

The Gentle Cleansing Melt is a unique hybrid between a traditional balm cleanser and a cleansing milk.  When you first squeeze it out of the tube, it has a thick, gel consistency, but as you massage it onto your (dry) face, the heat from your skin helps it melt into a soft, oily, balm consistency that easily spreads across your skin.  With the addition of water, it transforms again - this time, into a light, milky lather.

Like any non-emulsifying cleansing balm, the Cleansing Melt does a fantastic job breaking down face makeup and deep cleaning your pores.  The fact that it emulsifies is just icing on an already delightful cake.  If oil or balm cleansers make you nervous, you'll love the way that the final, milky texture rinses away clean with just a few splashes of water, although I usually do use a washcloth just to make sure everything is fully washed off.  In general, I like to double cleanse with another product following a balm cleanser, but I don't find it necessary with this one, since it washes away so clean.  I do like to use a separate eye makeup remover though, as it can be a struggle to take off tougher things like mascara and eyeliner with only the Cleansing Melt.

Evolve recommends the Gentle Cleansing Melt for sensitive and normal to dry skin, but I really think it could work for most skin types.  As cleansing balms go, it's on the lighter end - hydrating, yes, but not overly rich or heavy.  It also rinses away clean and doesn't leave behind any residue that might be problematic for oilier skin.  

The scent is also very neutral.  It's a soft vanilla that's noticeable as I'm massaging the balm into my skin, but it doesn't linger beyond that.

The Bottom Line
Evolve's Gentle Cleansing Melt feels like a great lazy girl's balm cleanser.  You get all the benefits of a traditional cleansing balm, without the struggle of trying to get it off your skin or the extra hassle of needing a second cleanse.  I like how simple the ingredients are and how it leaves my skin feeling very soft and comfortable.   

As far as I know, Evolve is not currently sold in North America, but I bought mine from Naturisimo who offers free (and incredibly quick!) worldwide shipping.

Ingredients: caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, aqua (water), sucrose laurate, sucrose palmitate, parfum (natural fragrance), tocopherol.

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