9 October 2015

iHerb Haul #2: Makeup, Skincare, Hair + Body

As many of you know, iHerb is one of my favorite places to shop online.  Whether it's brands and products we don't have easy access to in Canada, or things we do have that I can get much better prices on, I typically find myself placing an order every month or so.  The customer service is great and you can even shop in Canadian dollars now! 

I like to keep orders small to minimize the risk of being hit with tax or brokerage fees at the door, so this is technically a combination of my last two orders.  That means some things I've had for a couple weeks and others just for a couple days.    

Here's a look at what I bought:

Kiss My Face Antioxidant Toner
I've never seen anyone talk about this toner, but since I've heard plenty of good things about the cleanser and mask in Kiss My Face's Potent & Pure range, I decided to chance it.  I haven't used the toner yet, but the ingredients, which include aloe, witch hazel, hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, and a good number of botanicals and plant extracts are promising.  I will say, first impressions-wise, I'm not crazy about how it smells.  Something about the scent reminds me a lot of hairspray.

Pacifica Natural Eye Liner Pencil in Fringe
I needed a new brown eyeliner and since I love my Pacifica black and nude ones so much, this was the obvious choice.  The Pacifica liners are great because they're creamy enough to glide on easily, but not so creamy that they smear or move around on the eye throughout the day.  I haven't tried this particular color yet, but I'm pretty confident it'll be as great as the rest!

Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tint in Glow
The Sheer Moisture Lip Tints are basically tinted lip balms in a chubby stick form.  They smell slightly of vanilla and mint, feel great on the lips, and give a lovely wash of color.  Glow is the bright pink in the line, but because of how sheer it is, it gives just the slightest pop of pink in a very natural way.  I've only had it a few days, but I already bought a second color when I spotted the tints in person yesterday!

Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz
Nothing new here, this is a frequent repurchase for me.  The Spiral Spritz offers a midway between a serum and a gel and is a great light hold hair product.

Boiron Unscented Arnicare Gel
I added this to my cart on a whim when I spotted a mini 0.5 ounce size in the trial section for $0.25 right before checking out.  The ingredients aren't perfect, but there's nothing super problematic and it never hurts to have Arnica gel on hand.  Some of the different sizes of this product list dimethicone in the ingredients, but both the sample I received and the large size I've linked above look to be free of silicones.  

Crazy Rumors Lip Balms in Lemonade, Raspberry Sherbet + Ginger Ale
I don't have any problem getting through lip balms, so I decided to stock up on some new flavors of one of my favorites.  I've only cracked open the Lemonade one so far, and I'm surprised by just how much I dislike it!  Citrus scents are generally a safe bet, but this one just smells super gross to me.  I've had a few Crazy Rumors flavors that I haven't loved in the past, but this is definitely my least favorite to date.  I'm actually leaning towards just tossing it outright, as I doubt I will even use it smelling the way it does.  The Crazy Rumors formula is fantastic, but the flavors can be very hit or miss.

Andalou Naturals Age Defying Thinning Hair Treatment
I always find myself shedding more hair in the fall than any other time, so I picked this up to try and circumvent that this year.  The Hair Treatment has an aloe vera base infused with fruit and argan stem cells, a vitamin B complex, and an assortment of herbs and essential oils and is supposed to nourish hair follicles, stimulate hair growth, and strengthen hair.  All the research I've seen points to plant stem cells being a marketing ploy with little actual effect, but the rest of the ingredients look good, so I'm equal parts curious and hopeful to see how the product does as a whole.    

Goddess Garden Everyday Natural Sunscreen SPF 30
I don't wear SPF on my face everyday and I only use body sunscreen very occasionally, when I know I'm going to be outside for a prolonged period, which has left me with more than one full sized tube of sunscreen expiring on my shelf over the years.  Goddess Garden is a new brand for me, but I love the smaller 1-ounce size for those of us who are a little less diligent about wearing SPF on a regular basis.  It would also be great for travel.

Everyday Minerals Semi-Matte Base in Ivory (N1)
After working through the ridiculous number of mineral foundation samples I had hanging around (it literally took months!), this is what I ended up buying for now.  What I like about Everyday Mineral's Semi-Matte Base is just how natural it looks on the skin.  It's not outright glowy, but it looks skin-like and not overly flat or matte.  Coverage is about a medium and decently buildable, and Ivory (1N) is a good light neutral shade that matches me pretty well.  

Blûm Naturals Dry & Sensitive Skin Daily Cleansing and Makeup Remover Towelettes
Wipes aren't an everyday product for me, but I like to carry one or two in my purse for those "just in case" situations, which is where these individually wrapped ones come in handy.  I haven't tried this particular variety before, but the Blûm wipes are all pretty comparable, so I'm sure they'll be fine.   

Acure Organics Fragrance Free Ultra-Hydrating Body Lotion
I don't even want to hazard a guess as to how many tubes of Acure's Ultra-Hydrating Body Lotion I've gone through in the last couple years, but needless to say, it's more than a few.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned in my September Empties, I've been wondering since getting this order - my first time trying the lotion in its new packaging - if the formula has changed along with the packaging, as it doesn't seem nearly as moisturizing anymore.  A couple people have agreed with me since then and I also just spotted a review on iHerb saying the same thing, so I'm thinking the change is real.  Total bummer!

Do you shop on iHerb?  Have you used any of these?  

New customers can also save an extra $5 off your first order under $40 or $10 off your first order of $40+ with my code ITI429

Contains affiliate links.

4 October 2015

September 2015 Empties / Products I've Used Up

This post is going up a few days behind schedule for a number of reasons.  First, I had it in my head I was going to film an empties video this month, but that clearly never panned out.  I've also been struggling with some general camera issues recently.  I've noticed - and you may have too - that for the last several months my photos aren't as crisp as they used to be, especially the right 1/4 or 1/3 of the picture which often ends up particularly fuzzy.  I'm no photography expert, so while I've been frustrated, I've brushed it off as operator error, but I'm wondering if it's really more of a hardware issue.  Any photography/camera wizards, please feel free to weigh in :)

Getting back on topic, lets talk about September empties.  If you aren't familiar with these posts, this is where I give final impressions of products I've used all the way up.  This month's batch is mainly body care, with a few skincare and makeup items as well.

Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash   [Review]
A really lovely hydrating body wash reminiscent of a lathering cream cleanser for your face.  Straight out of the bottle, the consistency was similar to that of a thin lotion, but with the addition of water, it foamed up pretty nicely.  If you're familiar with the Weleda Creamy Body Washes, this struck me as pretty similar - not altogether surprising when you consider the shared history of the two brands - and even smelled very close to how I remember Weleda's Citrus scent.
Repurchase? Not sure.  I'd probably choose the less costly Weleda ones instead.  

Kiss My Face Pomegranate Grapefruit Moisture Shave
The Moisture Shaves are my favorite shaving product.  You really can't beat the price and they do a great job.  If you're switching from a conventional shaving foam, there may be an adjustment period, but it's totally worth taking the time to get used to using a cream.  I loved how the Pomegranate Grapefruit scent smelled in the bottle, but on the skin, it was a little too sweet for my nose.  
Repurchase? Yes, but not in this particular scent.

Acure Unscented Ultra-Hydrating Body Lotion   [Review]
This has been my favorite body lotion for several years now, but I've just started on a new tube in the new packaging and I feel like the formula has changed along with the tube.  The ingredients are almost identical - just a few additional extracts in the new one - but the consistency feels a lot more watery than the original. My sister hasn't noticed any change, so maybe I got a dud, but I'm pretty disappointed.  If anyone else has used this in both the new and old packaging, I'd love to know if you noticed any change in the formula! 
Repurchase? Not sure.  

Earthpaste Peppermint Toothpaste   [Review]
Another longtime favorite that I'm not sure I'll be buying anymore!  I went a couple days brushing with just water when I kept forgetting to move the new tube into the bathroom, and I'm convinced my teeth looked whiter during that time than when I started back using the Earthpaste.  I switched to the Peppermint flavor a couple months ago and I wonder if it's somehow - inexplicably - less brightening than the Wintergreen, which is what I've used for most of the last three years, or if Earthpaste in general has been making my teeth duller and less white without me noticing.  
Repurchase? I don't know.

Mamma Oceania Baby Clean Soap*  [Review]
The Mamma Oceania soaps are wonderful unscented soaps handmade in Toronto and the Baby Clean with chamomile, banana, kelp, and oatmeal is my favorite.  It has a slight creamy/clean scent - though there are no added scent ingredients - and is super gentle on the skin.  All the Mamma Oceania soaps are made without palm or canola oil and are very long lasting.  
Repurchase? Yes!  I'm swimming in soaps right now, but I definitely would.

Rocky Mountain Soap Co. Lemongrass Face/Body Bar
Rocky Mountain Soap is another great option for Canadian bar soap.  I love how many different options the company offers and the scents, which are noticeable but not overpowering, have never bothered me.  These are also palm oil free, but they do contain canola oil, which I don't 100% love.  The Lemongrass bar smelled super fresh and citrusy - not overly spicy - and was really lovely to use.  It's labelled for oily/combination skin, but wasn't drying at all.  
Repurchase? Very likely.  Again, not immediately, but it's one I'll keep in mind in the future.  

CleanWell All Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipe
I got this as a sample somewhere and I've carried it around in my purse for probably a year or more.  For my hands, I generally prefer a liquid/gel hand sanitizer, but these wipes are great for quick cleaning or wiping down surfaces.
Repurchase? Maybe.  

Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask (sample)   [Review]
As I've said many times before,  I don't generally find pre-mixed masks as effective as powder ones that you activate yourself, but I think they're good to have on hand for those times when you're in a hurry or just can't be bothered to mix something up yourself.  The Acure mask didn't do a lot for me in terms of cleaning pores or detoxifying the skin, but it did leave my skin looking fresh and bright.  It emulsifies with water so most of the product rinses off easily, but I found it tended to leave a slight film on the skin, so I recommend either washing it off in the shower or with a washcloth.  
Repurchase? Maybe.  I have a couple other pre-mixed masks on the go already, but I might come back to it next time I need one.

The Little Alchemist Cacao & Banana Face Glow
This mask came in a Petit Vour box towards the beginning of the year and I quite enjoyed using it.  It's a mix of raw cacao, banana, zeolite, clay, and a variety of superfoods, including acai, green papaya, spirulina, maca, and turmeric root.  As the name suggests, it left my skin fresh and glowy, but only if I spaced out my uses.  I try to mask twice a week and when I used this too close together - more than once every couple weeks - the second use didn't have much effect on my skin at all.  If you're someone with multiple masks to rotate between, it's great, but I wouldn't suggest buying it as your only mask.  
Repurchase? Maybe.

Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Brilliant Moisturizer*   [Review]
I really liked this moisturizer!  With 5% AHA from sugarcane and fruit extracts, it provides daily light resurfacing and leaves the skin baby soft.  I noticed tingling from the acids initially, but that dissipated after the first week or so.  This does contain coconut oil, but the balance with the acids meant that it didn't leave my pores congested or clogged like most coconut oil products do.  
Repurchase? Yes!  I'm using something else right now, but I would consider buying it in the future.

Karooch Meadowfoam Seed Oil
I bought this with the intention of using it in a DIY body oil (totally inspired by Stark's Meaowfoam Everybody Oil), but I ended up using it as a makeup remover instead.  It had a great light consistency that made it easy to spread across the skin, but I didn't like how it smelled - kind of seedy and salad dressing-like.  You could probably cover the smell up with essential oils, but I never tried.  
Repurchase? Doubtful.  I'm still curious to try the Stark oil though!

The Body Deli Melon Foaming Cleanser
This cleanser didn't do anything terrible to my skin, but it didn't do anything good either.  With stellar brightening ingredients like turmeric, licorice root, and vitamin B12 , I had pretty high expectations, but it consistently left my skin looking dull and tired.  I tried to use it as a body wash too, but it actually irritated the skin on my body, so I'm just tossing the last third or so of the bottle.  
Repurchase? No.

Everyday Minerals Base: Golden Fair (0W) Matte, Golden Ivory (1W) Semi-Matte + Ivory (1N) Jojoba (samples)
I'm finally nearing the end of all my mineral foundation samples!  I'm pretty confident that Ivory (1N) is my best color from Everyday Minerals and the Semi-Matte formula, with its natural finish, hint of a glow and slightly sheerer coverage than the Matte and Jojoba bases, is my favorite.  Golden Fair (0W) and Golden Ivory (1W) were both far too yellow for my skin.
Repurchase? Yes.  I'm waiting for a full size of the Semi-Matte in Ivory (1N) to arrive.

Cheeky Cosmetics Blonde + Light Brunette Brow Powder (samples)
These were a complete fail for my brows - neither color matched and they were so pigmented as to be difficult to work with - but I liked them both as matte eye shadows.  Light Brunette, in particular, made a great crease/transition shade.
Repurchase? For my brows, definitely not, but I might buy Light Brunette to use as an eye shadow.    

Total Products Used Up in September
Skincare: 3  (Lip Balms: 0)
Bodycare: 6

Haircare:  0
Makeup: 0
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 3
Makeup Samples: 5

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 32 (Lip Balms: 8)
Bodycare: 34

Haircare:  10
Makeup: 11
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 62 

Makeup Samples: 29

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

30 September 2015

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo + Conditioner

Intelligent Nutrients hair care often sails under the radar in the green beauty blogosphere, but their products are truly some of the best!  If Rahua and Yarok are the current darlings of the mid- to high-end green hair world, then Intelligent Nutrients is their steady, classic counterpart that never goes out of style.  Started in 1995 by Horst Rechelbacher (who first founded Aveda in the 70's), Intelligent Nutrients has weathered all the ups and downs of the last 20 years of the green beauty movement and they're still going strong with exciting new product launches all the time.

Many will remember when the video of Horst drinking Intelligent Nutrients hair spray circulated a few years ago, and indeed the company was founded on the principle that no ingredient should be used unless it's completely non-toxic and edible.  As such, the line, which includes hair care, skincare, body products, perfumes, and even supplements, holds itself to pretty strict ingredient standards.  And, all levels - from raw ingredients to finished products, manufacturing, storage, and shipping - are regularly third part audited to ensure everything stays up to par.  Many products are certified organic and everything is cruelty free (Leaping Bunny certified) and manufactured using 100% renewable energy.  

The Harmonic Shampoo and Conditioner are described as "anti-aging, antioxidant rich, volumizing, super smooth, non-frizzy, scalp and hair nourishing shampoo [and] conditioner with color protection."  That's a lot of big claims, but I think the duo does pretty well on all accounts!

The shampoo has a creamy consistency straight out of the bottle, but it lathers surprisingly well and does a good job cleansing without stripping the hair.  It has a gorgeous minty-herbal scent and feels quite tingly and invigorating on the scalp.  According to the bottle, you can use this everywhere - head to toe - potentially making it a great multi-use product too.

The conditioner isn't overly thick, but it's thick enough that it can be a little challenging to squeeze out of the hard plastic bottle.  Packaging aside, I really have nothing bad to say.  The conditioner feels very hydrating, tames frizz, does a good job detangling, and leaves my hair soft and easy to comb through.  It smells a little different from the shampoo, though still predominantly minty and herbal. 

Both the shampoo and conditioner are made with Intelligent Nutrients' Intellimune Complex, a super-antioxidant blend found in many of the company's products.  Intellimune is a blend of cold-pressed fruit and vegetable seed oils designed to fight free radicals, reduce inflammation, protect healthy cellular activity and growth, and help slow premature aging and disease.  I have no way to gauge most of those, but I certainly appreciate the inclusion of so many nourishing, luxurious and organic oils, including buriti, pumpkin seed, black cumin seed, red raspberry seed, red grape seed, and cranberry seed, which don't often feature in hair products.  

Whether it's the Intellimune Complex or the formula as a whole, the duo leaves my scalp healthy and my hair nicely nourished without weighing it down.  

The Bottom Line
At $25 and $27 respectively ($33.50 and $36.99 in Canada), the Harmonic Shampoo and Conditioner are pricier than my usual hair care staples, but you do get giant 444 ml bottles that'll last you quite some time.  For me, these are more of an occasional treat than an everyday repurchase, but I'm always happy to have them in my shower when I do pick them up.  Both the shampoo and conditioner have top notch ingredients and work very well. I'd highly recommend both.

Have you used anything from Intelligent Nutrients?  I'd love to know your favorites!

22 September 2015

End of Summer Favorites (Gabriel, Ursa Major, Brija, Balanced Guru + More!)

Tomorrow marks the official start of fall, so it seems appropriate to wrap up summer today with a favorites post.  These are the standout products I've especially enjoyed using over the last few months.  As many of you know, I've been focused on using the products I already have this year, rather than mindlessly buy-buy-buying, so while there are a couple new things here, most are products I've written about before, although not super recently. 

Gabriel Cosmetics Vibrant Pink Blush*
I used to be terrified of wearing too much blush and looking like a clown, but I've gradually worked up to being comfortable with brighter and more pigmented blushes.  Vibrant Pink is a matte cool hot pink and I loved it this summer.  It gives the prettiest pop of pink without looking overdone.  The Gabriel blushes are quite pigmented -  so a light hand is key - but they're blendable and easy to work with, even if you're fair skinned like me.  

Balanced Guru Calming Masque
I've raved about this mask several times before and it really is a consistent favorite of mine.  Made with a blend of detoxifying bentonite clay and sea kelp, soothing calendula, marshmallow root, echinacea, and aloe vera, and nutrient dense rosehip, sea buckthorn fruit, and gingko, it strikes a perfect balance between drawing out impurities and nourishing the skin with healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  The mask is actually quite detoxifying, but it comes as a powder, which allows you to easily tailor the liquid(s) you mix in to best suit your skin.  I like to use water, in combination with a few drops of a face oil to prevent the mask from drying as firmly as it does with water alone.  I also often mix in a drop or two of carrot seed or frankincense essential oil as an extra anti-aging boost.  My skin is always left looking visibly clearer and brighter after using the Calming Masque and I feel like it's something I'll always keep stocked on my skincare shelf.  

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash*
I really enjoy a lathering cleanser, but my skin can't tolerate how drying some of them are.  Happily there are products like the Fantastic Face Wash, which foams up nicely, rinses easily, and doesn't leave my skin feeling at all dry.  I first used it about six months ago but gradually drifted onto new things, as we do, only to rediscover it mid-August and fall head over heels all over again.  The scent is an invigorating unisex blend of spearmint and evergreen trees that's lovely and refreshing without being over the top.  The cleanser offers gentle exfoliation from sugar cane and fruit extracts, and a slight tingly sensation from the mint leaves skin feeling extra clean, though never dry or stripped.  

Pacifica Red Red Wine
I first saw this nail polish color in a Youtube video last fall and immediately set my sights on it.  It's taken me until the summer to actually get my hands on it, as even though a nearby health food store stocks the Pacifica polishes, they've been sold out of Red Red Wine every time I've been in.  The color is pretty much just what the name suggests: a classic dark red/wine color with a creme finish.  I wore it in the summer, but it's really a more traditionally fall/winter shade, so I don't foresee putting it away anytime soon.  The Pacifica polishes are 7-free and vegan, with a great, long-wearing formula.  

Brija Cosmetics You Know Who Highlighter
I used to prefer a matte complexion, but these days I really think glowing, luminous skin is the way to go.  To me, it just looks fresher, healthier, and more natural.  That said, I have some larger pores on my nose and cheeks and I've struggled to find a highlighter that provides the radiance I'm looking for without emphasizing or drawing extra attention to them.  But, I think I've finally found it in You Know Who, which gives a beautiful ethereal glow without any piecey shimmer or glitter.  It's a light, white/cream shade, but it doesn't look chalky or frosty on the skin.  It's also versatile in that it can be worn lightly for a subtle everyday look or built up to a more serious gleam for a dramatic highlight.  

Ora's Amazing Herbal All Purpose Salve*
This salve is great for lots of things, but my favorite use is on bug bites.  It works like nothing else on both swelling and itching.  We've got a good number of spruce trees in the backyard and plenty of mosquitos as a result, so whenever I'm out there with the dog, there's a decent chance of bites.  Just last week, I managed to get a bite right in the middle of my forehead, which, being in such an obvious spot, of course swelled up huge and looked like a goose egg.  I used the salve twice that night and it worked like a charm.  The formula has a grapeseed and coconut oil base and is packed with anti-inflammatory herbs like calendula, comfrey, chickweed, plantain, burdock, thyme, and St. John's wort.  It visibly starts to take down swollen bug bites within minutes of application, and within a couple hours, even the biggest bites are nearly gone.  With summer winding down, bug bites aren't as big of an issue, but I know I'll still keep this guy handy for its multitude of other uses.  It works well on other skin irritations and soothes everything from cuts and scrapes to pimples, chapped lips, dry cuticles, and rashes.  

Hope you had a fabulous summer and are looking forward to fall!

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

15 September 2015

Sensitive Skin Savior: Blissoma Lavish Loving Recovery Beta-Glucan Mask

I generally only write about skincare products once I've had a chance to use them over a prolonged period, but I'm so blown away by this small pot of goodness that I didn't want to wait any longer to spread the word!  Think of this as more of a first impressions post than a full review.  

Over the weekend, I had an unpleasant experience with a new face mask that left my skin burning, red, and bumpy, and whilst scrounging around for something gentle and soothing to combat the reaction, I came across this sample of Blissoma Lavish Loving Recovery Beta-Glucan Mask that I'd picked up a few weeks earlier.  It seemed like the perfect time to put it to the test!    

Lavish is a rich hydrating treatment specifically formulated for dry, stressed, sensitive, reactive, inflamed, irritated, and/or mature skin.  With 18 active ingredients, it blends together anti-reactive herbs, restorative oils, and moisturizing butters.  Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide with strong anti-anflammatory and antiaging properties and a proven track record for reducing skin irritation and redness, and Lavish takes full advantage with three sources: organic oatmilk and reishi and maitake mushrooms.   To complement these three, the mask also contains cupuacu butter, rich in antioxidants and great for moisture retention, as well as organic oils of baobab, pomegranate, perilla, and pumpkin to soothe irritated skin.  Blissoma products are also always packed with beautiful herbal infusions and Lavish is no different.  Organic St. John's wort, astralagus, self heal, and passionflower are included, all great for soothing sensitive skin and promoting healing.  

The mask has a thick cream consistency, but it doesn't immediately sink into the skin like a moisturizer would.  And, though rich and hydrating, it doesn't feel heavy or occlusive on the skin.  Lavish doesn't have any added ingredients for scent and the scent is just mildly herbal from its other ingredients.  

Circling back around to my skin reaction from this past weekend, Lavish worked like a charm.  My skin had stopped burning after washing off the original offending product, but I was left with splotchy red spots, scattered bumps across my cheeks, and generally irritated, unhappy skin.  Lavish felt cool and soothing as I applied it and my skin absorbed most of the product in the 20 minutes I had it on, leaving just a thin layer to wash off.  After rinsing, I was left with plump and hydrated skin, and both the redness and bumps were gone.  After using Lavish, I think anyone would have been hard-pressed to tell that I'd had any kind of skin reaction that day.  

The Bottom Line
I've only used it the one time so far, but I foresee Lavish becoming a "must have" product in my skincare stash.  As anyone with sensitive or reactive skin can attest, skin reactions are awful, awful things, so a product like this that's able to quickly tone down irritation and bring skin back to a calm, healthy place can be pretty indispensable.  

I'm looking forward to using the mask for more regular maintenance-type uses too.  Blissoma talks about using Lavish regularly to build up skin resilience and I'm curious to see how it'll fare in that regard.  I also think it will make an excellent hydrating treatment through the upcoming winter months.  

Have you used Lavish before?  What are your favorite products for sensitive skin?

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