26 July 2016

Purely You Minerals Review + Swatches

Natural and nontoxic makeup has come a long way in the last few years, but it can still be challenging to find clean pressed powder products, particularly at an inexpensive price point.  I was introduced to Purely You Minerals a few months ago and was excited to discover a makeup range filling precisely that gap.  Purely You makes small batch handmade mineral cosmetics without talc, bismuth oxychloride, silicones, or nanoparticles.  They offer a selection of both pressed and loose products and everything is very reasonably priced too!

Purely Rose Blush
Purely Rose* is a gorgeous rosey-peach shade with a satin finish.  In the pan, the color has a slight sheen, but it's barely noticeable on the skin and the blush has a very natural finish.  It has great pigmentation and also blends really beautifully.  With fair skin, I always worry about blushes looking stark or like a harsh stripe of color, but Purely Rose blends so easily that it hasn't been an issue at all.  The color is also quite long-lasting.   

Bright Eyes + Dark Chocolate Eye Shadows
I love a good neutral eye shadow and these two are just the thing!  Bright Eyes* is a richly pigmented shimmery warm tan with both gold and silver shimmer.  It feels almost creamy to the touch and I've been loving it as an all-over lid shade.  

Dark Chocolate* is a mid-toned matte brown with a somewhat drier feel.  It starts out sheer and takes a little more effort to pick up color, but it can be layered and built up for better color payoff.  And, I've actually been enjoying taking advantage of the sheerness for quick makeup days when I'm aiming for a more softly defined crease.   

The Bottom Line
Purely You Minerals has some great offerings!  Purely Rose blush is a fantastic everyday peachy-pink shade and I have nothing but good things to say about it.  The eye shadows are really pretty too, although pigmentation does seem to vary across shimmer and matte shades. 

You can also catch the end of Purely You's Moving Sale this week!  20-30% off all products through July 28, 2016.  

*Press sample

29 June 2016

5 Questions with Samantha Addonizio from Know Your Ingredients (+ a Giveaway!)

Know Your Ingredients - KYI for short - is a wonderful skincare line offering minimally processed and whole food skincare made from nutrient-rich ingredients like argan oil and shea butter.  I was first introduced to the line in 2013 (see my reviews here and here) and it's a brand that continues to impress me.  KYI's founder, Samantha Addonizio, is passionate about creating simple skincare that really works -- something that truly comes through in each of the company's three multi-functional products.  

I asked Sam to answer a few questions and give us a peek behind the brand today.  Plus, make sure you stay tuned till the end and enter our giveaway for a chance to try KYI for yourself!
1) Can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to create Know Your Ingredients?
 I'm a working mom with two active, sports loving boys.  I take good care of myself and my family.  I go out of my way to make sure we eat healthy, whole food but delicious meals.  I make sure we all regularly get outdoors to enjoy nature, fresh air and exercise together.  In all aspects of our life, I make sure we make thoughtful decisions and informed choices.  As a woman who loves skin products, one day my husband asked, “Do you even know what’s in that stuff you slather on your skin all the time?”  I stopped in my tracks because it never occurred to me before to look!  And when I read the ingredient label I was surprised to find that I did not even know what more than half of the ingredients were.  I started to do research (the Environmental Working Group’s database is a great place to start).

I learned that many products labeled “natural” had emulsifiers to combine water-soluble ingredients with oil-soluble ingredients and also added a preservative to prevent bacteria growth.  And, I learned that all oil-soluble products do not need emulsifiers and preservatives.  So I developed my products from natural oils and butters.  I discovered along the way that my skin reacted much better to the oils and butters: it started looking and feeling healthier, softer and more elastic….old scars started to fade.  I shared my products with family and friends who experienced the same results. I wanted to share my revelation with others: that what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it.  That is why I founded KYI.  
2) What sets KYI apart from other natural brands?
 Simplicity. Take a look at the ingredients on other products called “natural” and then look at KYI’s ingredient labels.  KYI’s ingredients are just oils and butters with or without added essential oils for their luscious scents!  We also happen to be vegan!
3) What has been the most challenging thing since starting KYI?  And the most rewarding?
 The most challenging thing has been getting KYI’s message out.  Even though it’s IN the name!  People do not seem to pay attention to the ingredients in the products that they use on their skin.  The most rewarding aspect is getting feedback from customers once they have used our products for a few months.  It is gratifying to have people agree that their skin has never looked or felt healthier!
4) Do you have any tips or tricks to offer someone just starting to transition to natural products?
 Yes, always test out a new product on a tiny patch of skin.  Even natural products can cause allergies.   KYI”s products are nut oils and butters and while emollient, nutritious and protective on the skin, they would not be for anyone with a tree nut allergy.  Also, sometimes certain essential oils can cause sensitivity in certain people.  ALWAYS test patch new products.
5) Outside KYI, do you have any favorite natural/nontoxic skincare or beauty essentials?
I only use KYI’s products for skin care.  I do wear mineral makeup and favor make-up companies that have the same philosophy as KYI, such as Au Natural Cosmetics.

Thanks Sam for taking the time to answer my questions!  

We've also teamed up to give three readers a chance to try KYI.  Each winner will win a KYI product in their choice of scent!  Open to US and Canada.  To enter, just leave a comment with the KYI product you'd most like to try + fill in the Rafflecopter widget (below) to record your entry.  As always, you can snag extra entries for following me or KYI on social media.

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All photos courtesy of KYI

26 June 2016

Bargain Bests: Alba Botanica Fast Fix for Puffy Eyes + Undereye Circles

Green beauty can be an expensive realm to navigate, but it doesn't have to be.  Case in point: Alba Botanica's Fast Fix products.  Launched last year, these targeted treatments address common skin concerns and, depending where you buy them, cost less than $5 a piece.  I've tested two of the four Fixes -- the Fast Fix for Puffy Eyes and the Fast Fix for Undereye Circles and I really like both.

Fast Fix for Puffy Eyes
I spent a lot of years thinking my biggest eye concern was dark circles, but since finally discovering a concealer that works, I realize that puffiness can be even more insidious.  Color can be covered up, but puffiness is either there or it's not.  The Fast Fix for Puffy Eyes is marketed as an "eye-revive cooling gel," and I think that sums it up pretty well.  Made with aloe, hyaluronic acid, green tea extract, cucumber, caffeine, and menthol, the Fast Fix is a gentle unscented eye gel that feels slightly cool going on and visibly depuffs the eye area.  It doesn't completely eliminate puffiness -- and I'm not convinced anything topical could -- but I do notice a difference within a minute or two of application.  The product is very gentle and while I can feel a slight tightening effect, it's never uncomfortable or overwhelming.  The idea of menthol around the eyes gave me pause at first, but, again, the cooling effect is minimal and I've not experienced any discomfort.

For me, the Fast Fix hasn't replaced eye cream -- I still use a separate one most days with my skincare -- but it's become a regular step in my makeup routine.  I apply it immediately before doing my makeup and the gel sinks in almost instantly.  In addition to depuffing, it also delivers a light boost of hydration to the eye area, helping concealer apply easier and wear a little better throughout the day.

Fast Fix for Undereye Circles
I bought the Fast Fix for Undereye Circles last summer and I've had lots of time to play around with it this last year.  Alba describes the product as a vanishing concealer that simultaneously neutralizes darkness and brightens with apple fruit, white lily, and caffeine, and while I do like it, I'm not convinced it lives up to all those claims.

Personally, I've never noticed any skincare benefits or reduced dark circles from the Fast Fix.  I also consider it more of a color corrector or under eye brightener than a concealer.  It's thin, lightweight, and, quite frankly, doesn't have a lot of coverage.  A thin application sits really beautifully on the skin, but it's not a product that can be layered or built up very much before the cream starts to ball up on itself.

What it DOES do very well, however, is brighten up the under eye area, and the yellow color -- swatched in this post -- neutralizes some of the blue and purple found tones in dark circles.  Depending on your skin tone and how severe your dark circles are, the Fast Fix for Undereye Circles can be used by itself or underneath another concealer.

The Bottom Line

Super inexpensive eye products that actually work!  While I haven't noticed any long term corrective benefits from the Fast Fix for Undereye Circles, it's a nice lightweight yellow-toned corrector that works well both on its own and under a heavier duty concealer.  The Fast Fix for Puffy Eyes is a gentle eye gel that noticeably tightens and depuffs the skin around the eyes.

Have you tried any of Alba's Fast Fix products?  What are your favorite bargain green beauty finds?

Contains affiliate links

22 June 2016

New from Holiskin: Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser + Cacao Seaweed Facial Mask

I was first introduced to Holiskin last year and, more than a year later, I still can't say enough good things about this brand!  With simple formulations, affordable prices, and a focus on sourcing the BEST quality organic and wild crafted ingredients, Holiskin is a line that really resonates with me.  

The company launched a few new products this spring and I've happily been trialing the Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser* and Holiskin's first mask creation, the Cacao Seaweed Facial Mask*, and, once again, I'm impressed!

Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser
Oil cleansers are my favorite way to remove makeup and the Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser is a real gem.  With a base of organic apricot kernel, camellia, meadowfoam, and castor seed oils, it's gentle and suitable for all skin types.  I prefer traditional oil cleansing (dry skin and a wet washcloth), but it also works well for dry oil cleansing, which I've seen talked about a lot recently.  

The key to good oil cleansing, for me, is to take a couple minutes to really massage the oil into the skin before taking it off, and the Sensitive Skin Cleanser has the perfect slip and viscosity for that.  It glides over the skin easily, but it's not so thin that it just runs off your face.  It removes every last trace of makeup and grime and leaves skin feeling soft and hydrated.  

I usually double cleanse with a second cleanser after any oil, but I wouldn't say it's an absolute necessity with this one, as it wipes away cleanly and doesn't leave a noticeable film behind on the skin.  The chamomile lavender scent -- heavy on the chamomile and light on the lavender -- is also beautiful, and perfect for winding down at the end of the day.  

Cacao Seaweed Facial Mask
With only three ingredients, this blend of organic raw cacao, organic wildcrafted seaweed powder, and kaolin clay is simplicity done just right.  Kaolin is a gentle white clay that detoxifies and purifies the skin, while raw cacao and seaweed are both packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that nourish the skin and fight against free radicals and other environmental stresses.

Holiskin suggests mixing the mask with honey or coconut milk, but I'll admit, I haven't actually tried it with either of those.  Instead, I've mixed it with plain water and hydrosols.  Both worked great, and I'm sure honey and coconut milk would too.

Because kaolin is such a gentle clay, I don't find the Cacao Seaweed Mask to be supremely detoxifying, but it definitely pulls some junk out of your pores and I can visibly see that they look cleaner after using it.  This would be a great option for sensitive skin or anyone that finds most clay masks overly stripping or drying.  

A final thing to note is that the seaweed smell is quite pronounced, even when mixed with hydrosols and essential oils.  I love what seaweed can do for your skin, but it's admittedly not my favorite smell in the world.

The Bottom Line
Two great new additions to Holiskin's line!  The Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser is an all around winner and the Cacao Seaweed Facial Mask is great too, as long as you aren't overly sensitive to the smell of seaweed.  

I also spotted a great deal on Holiskin's Instagram just as I was putting the final touches on this post -- $15 off any purchase of $20+ on the main Holiskin site with the code SPECIAL15.  Good for 3 days only.  I'm not seeing the Sensitive Cleanser on there, but I'm sure Holiskin can hook you up if you get in touch!  

*Press sample

14 June 2016

Sola Skincare Brand Feature, Review + Giveaway

Sola Skincare is a family-run Canadian skin and body care company, inspired by the idea that what you put on your skin, you put IN your body.  Everything is handmade in small batches in Vancouver, B.C. using pure, natural, and food grade ingredients, and is free of preservatives, synthetics and fillers.

In a booming green beauty market, what most sets Sola Skincare apart, to me, is that their products incorporate not only Western plants and herbs, but also less common traditional Chinese herbs and ingredients.  One of Sola's founders is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and that extensive knowledge base is evident in a lot of the company's formulations.  

I've been trying out two of Sola's products over the last couple months and I'm eager to share my thoughts on them.  Also, make sure you read to the end to enter to win some Sola Skincare goodies for yourself!

Balancing Face Oil
Sola's Balancing Face Oil* blends together healing plant oils and Chinese herbs to balance and nourish the skin.  Argan, tamanu, camelina, sweet almond, jojoba, and meadowfoam seed oils serve as a hydrating and healing base for zhen zhu mu (mother of pearl), dang gui (Chinese angelica root), zhi mu (anemarrhena root), sheng di huang (Chinese foxglove root), and ru xiang (frankincense resin) -- ingredients known in Chinese medicine to improve micro-circulation, clear heat and inflammation, and provide important vitamins and nutrients to the skin.  The blend also includes antioxidant vitamin E and soothing and regenerative carrot seed, lavender, and sandalwood essential oils.  The oil absorbs well and sinks in pretty quickly, making it great for both morning and night use.

To my nose, the herbs are definitely noticeable and the oil is a little pungent.  If you've used Chinese herbs before, or even just walked into a Chinese medicine or herb shop, the oil smells, to me, like a concentrated version of that.  It's earthy, herbal, and just a little bitter.  Not necessarily my favorite scent in the world, but it doesn't linger beyond the first couple minutes, and the performance of the oil is definitely worth getting used to the scent.  

My cheeks are prone to clogged pores and congestion - something I've talked about many times before - and I saw a noticeable difference in that area right from the first use.  I applied the oil before bed and woke up with cleaner-looking, less noticeable pores on my cheeks, and all over glowing skin.  An oil, obviously, can't actually change your pore size, but this blend keeps them least looking tighter and more refined.  Over time, I've also noticed my skin becoming more even in tone, and started seeing less redness after several weeks of using the Balancing Oil too!  

I've tried a lot of oils in these last five years blogging and the Balancing Face Oil would rank right up there in my top 5.

Lavender & Adzuki Cleansing Grains
The Lavender & Adzuki Cleansing Grains* are also a solid product, though they didn't quite incite the immediate swooning reaction of the oil.  Made with only oats, adzuki beans, and lavender, the Cleansing Grains offer gentle cleansing and exfoliation without being harsh or overly abrasive, or effecting the moisture balance of the skin.  

Dry, the grains have a delicate lavender scent, but once moistened, I more so notice the earthiness of the adzuki beans coming through.  The grains work well on their own, just mixed with a little water, and I also like mixing them into another cleanser for an added boost.  Either way, my skin is left feeling calm, clean, and super soft!  


I've teamed up with Sola Skincare to give one of you a Sola Sampler Set!  The set includes mini sizes of almost all of Sola's products -- the Balancing Face Oil and Lavender & Adzuki Cleansing Grains that I tried, as well as Sola's Rose Hydrosol, Calendula & Rose Cleansing Grains, Coconut Deodorant, Bare Bum Balm, and Soft Skin Balm

Photo Credit
Giveaway is open to the US and Canada.  Follow the Rafflecopter widget (below) to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Press sample
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