27 April 2016

5 New Things: Spring Makeup Hits + Misses ft. Ere Perez, Kari Gran, Pacifica + Lily Lolo

My last 5 New Things post was way back in the fall and I've certainly tried more than a couple new products since then!  If you're new to this series, this is where I share mini reviews - both positive and negative - of new products I've been trying out.  Today's is topic specific and all about makeup.



Ere Perez Oat Milk Foundation*
I really like this foundation!  It's described on the box as sheer, lightweight, and buildable, which I think is all very true.  A lot depends on your application method: you can get a very sheer coverage with a damp beauty blender, or work your way up to a good, medium coverage with a denser brush.  Finger application will give you somewhere in the middle.  Regardless of how you apply it, the foundation sets really nicely on the skin, making powder optional.  In fact, I think the Oat Milk Foundation looks best on its own, as powdering on top can sometimes make it look a little heavy.  The finish is very natural -- not overly glowy, but not 100% matte either.  The ingredients are also really simple and gentle, and the product, which has no added fragrance or essential oils, legitimately has virtually no scent: a surprisingly rare find with liquid and cream foundations.

The one major downside of this product is its limited shade range, which, with only four color choices, is far from all-encompassing.  I took a chance on Light, the palest shade, and while I like how neutral and peachy the color is, it is a little dark for my skin.  Because the undertones are right, it's not completely unwearable, and I've still been enjoying using it, but it definitely makes me look more tanned that I am.  

Kari Gran Mineral Setting Powder
Setting powder is a staple whenever I wear makeup, whether it's to set cream or liquid products, or as an extra step to blur a couple fine lines that have cropped up on my forehead.  Kari Gran's Mineral Setting Powder is a matte finishing powder with only two ingredients: mica and aloe vera powder.  It's very lightweight and silky, and works well for both my purposes.  It sets creamy products without looking cakey or overly powdery, and it also lends a soft focus effect that slightly minimizes the appearance of pores, fine lines, and other imperfections.  The powder is a stark white in the jar, but it's translucent and doesn't impart any color, at least not on my fair skin.  

The Setting Powder sells for $20 from Kari Gran, but -- *deal alert* -- I picked mine up for $10 from Safe & Chic.  

Kari Gran Marsala Lip Whip*
The Lip Whips are very hyped in the green beauty community and judging by my experience with Marsala, I'd say it's well deserved.  With a soft, moussy texture that's smooth and comfortable on the lips, gorgeous glass jar packaging, and a delicate scent, the Lip Whips really are a great find.  Marsala is also surprisingly long-wearing for such a creamy product.  Barring eating or copious drinking, both the color and the supple, moisturized feel are still noticeable on my lips several hours after application. 

There are more typical spring and summer shades in the line - and I've got my eye on one or two! - but, despite the season, I'm loving Marsala, a soft marsala/wine shade.  There's noticeable red shimmer in the jar, but on the lips, the color is just shiny, without any obvious sparkle or frost.  Super pretty!

Pacifica Stunning Brows Golden Brown Eye Brow Gloss and Set
Pacifica has some great makeup products, but I really wonder what they were thinking with this one.  I couldn't find many pictures of the Golden Brown shade and ordering online from iHerb, it was something of a blind purchase.  The color itself is fine, but what confuses me is how shimmery it is.  I swatched the product on my hand when it first arrived, and on skin, on a sunny day, it has so many gold micro-glitters running through it that it looks like an almost metallic golden copper shade.  I don't notice the shimmer when it's in my brows, but I'm slightly paranoid that wearing it and setting foot in the sun one day will result in Twilight-esque sparkly brows.  

The actual gel itself is nice though.  It sets well and holds brows in place all day long.  I'd just suggest picking up the untinted, clear version over the funky sparkle of the Golden Brown.

Lily Lolo Brown Natural Eye Pencil
When Honeybee Gardens changed their eye liner ingredients last year, I wasn't expecting it to be difficult to replace the brown one, but as it turns out, I'm pretty picky about my brown pencils!  After trying several that were either too light, too warm-toned, or a dastardly combination of the two, I stumbled onto Lily Lolo's fantastic Natural Eye Pencil.  The color is a rich dark chocolate brown and I love the formula too.  This liner is pretty perfect actually -- pigmented and creamy, but not so creamy or slippery that it moves around or smears throughout the day.  I'm crossing my fingers Lily Lolo will come out with a few fun, non-neutral liner colors soon too!



Have you tried any new makeup recently?


*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

21 April 2016

Three Months of Empties -- Part #2: Skincare // Makeup

Tuesday I covered all the body and hair products I've used up in the last three months, but I've still got skincare and makeup to discuss today.  There's a lot to talk about, so I'll try to keep it short, but if there's anything you'd like more information on, I'm happy to answer in the comments!



Holiskin Chamomile ACV Facial Toner*
Holiskin really emphasizes simple formulas made from high quality ingredients, and this toner, a blend of Roman chamomile hydrosol and raw organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar is exactly that.  Apple cider vinegar toners are a bit much for my skin every day, but I enjoyed using this a couple times a week.  Repurchase? Maybe.  I'm on a homemade toner kick at present.

Province Apothecary Invigorating + Balancing Toner with Rose & Geranium
Neither rose or geranium are favorites of mine, so I was surprised how much I liked this toner!  To me, it smelled more like patchouli than anything else, but it wasn't an overpowering patchouli scent either.  Overall, just a pretty blend and my skin seemed to like it too.  
Repurchase? Maybe.

Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream // Purple Carrot + C Luminous Night Cream
Andalou Naturals makes great basic and affordable moisturizers and these two, both part of the brightening line, are my favorites to date.  The Probiotic + C Renewal Cream is lightweight and absorbs super quickly, while the Purple Carrot + C Night Cream is significantly richer, but still not heavy.  The Night Cream truly did have me waking up the next morning with more luminous skin, but its grape juice-like scent took a little getting used to.  Repurchase? Yes.  I've still got mini tubes of both of these, but I would rebuy one or both in the future.  

Face Wipes
I'm not a fan of using face wipes on the daily for environmental reasons, but sometimes needs will.  The drain in my bathroom sink has been having issues the last few months (clearly it's all glamour, all the time here!) and since it does better without a lot of oils or makeup going down, I'm reluctantly using wipes for the time being.  I still use a separate oil cleanser/makeup remover to make sure everything comes off, but instead of using a washcloth, I wipe it all away with a disposable wipe.  Then, I follow up with water and a second cleanser as usual.  

Both the Kaia Juicy Bamboo Natural Facial Cleansing Cloths and the Boo Bamboo Skin Balancing Makeup Remover Wipes are made of bamboo, which from everything I've read biodegrades within a few months, so there's that at least.  The Kaia cloths smell better and feel a little more luxurious, plus I love the fully closeable container, but they're also more expensive and sting my eyes.  Otherwise, the two are fairly comparable - both remove makeup decently well, don't irritate my skin, and are Canadian-owned companies.  Repurchase? Boo Bamboo, yes.  These are probably my favorite wipes and, as a bonus, I can usually find them discounted at Winners.  Kaia, I'm not sure.  

Young Living Lavender, Peppermint + Frankincense Essential Oils
MLM's get a lot of flack in the green community, but I've only had positive experiences with Young Living and will continue to purchase from them.  Whatever your thoughts on the business model, my bottom line has always been quality and I believe YL sells some of the highest quality oils available.

I use all three of these on a regular basis.  Lavender and frankincense are two of my favorites for just about any skin concern, and I also use lavender for headaches, de-stressing, and relaxation.  Peppermint is great for digestive upsets, congestion, muscle pain, and again, headaches.  Repurchase? Yes.  These are staples for me and I've already replaced all three.

Lip Balms
Finishing lip balms is never an issue for me!  I loved the Rachel's Plan Bee Peppermint Lip Balm, which Rachel kindly sent me when I mentioned I was having issues keeping my lips protected in the cold weather this winter.  It strikes that perfect balance between a healing balm that treats any damage already there and a more occlusive, protective formula that blankets your lips in such a way as to prevent further chapping.  

The Sierra Bees Tamanu & Tea Tree Lip Balm tasted awful - like straight up tea tree oil - but I did get used to it, and I have no complaints in terms of how it worked.  The Sierra Bees lip balms are generally a great formula and, taste aside, if you're someone who deals with cold sores, I think this is a great option as both tamanu and tea tree oils are great preventatives.  I don't personally get cold sores, so I'll likely stick to the other, yummier flavors in future.  

I like Epic Blend's lip balms a lot too, although the Pineapple- Mint* is not my favorite from them.  Part of the vegan line, it's a little thinner and more slippery than the company's other two formulas, and although the pineapple and mint pairing worked, it wasn't a flavor I'd necessarily rush back to.
Repurchase? Rachel's Plan Bee, definitely!  Both the Sierra Bees and Epic Blend I'd buy again in different flavors.  



Tinted Lip Balms
I've been making an effort to use more colored lip products and have managed to finish off several tinted balms as a result!  Ellovi's Tinted Lip Butter came in a Petit Vour box a while back.  It has the same great formula as their original lip butter and gives a nice subtle red color to the lips, courtesy of an alkanet root infusion.  

Brija Cosmetics' Jelly Balms are a moisturizing, softer lip formula, so they get used up pretty quickly, but I enjoyed this one while it lasted.  Sparkles, a shimmery peach, was a limited edition color with added cocoa butter, and I'm not sure if it was the slightly different formula or the more subtle/nude color, but it worked a lot better than, Yvonne, the other Jelly Balm I have, which tends to go on a little patchy.  

The Yes to Carrots Colorbalms are long discontinued, but I do like them.  Peachy Keen was a pretty orange/peach, but Soft Plum leaned a little more brown than I like one me, so I used it mainly when I was at home.  I finished Peachy Keen completely, but started getting a slight reaction from Soft Plum and gave up on it with about a third still left.  
Repurchase? Yes to the Ellovi.  Neither this particular Brija color or the Yes to Carrots are sold anymore.

Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara
This was a good mascara! It was very black, provided good volume, and didn't give me any problems with irritation, smudging, or flaking.  I don't have anything negative to say about it, but at the same time there are other mascaras I like more.  Repurchase? Probably not.

Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Finishing Powder
I got this as a freebie from Lauren Brooke a long time ago and I loved it!  The tiniest bit did a great job diffusing fine lines and never left skin looking dry or makeup cakey.  Repurchase? Maybe.  I'm using a different finishing powder now, but I'd definitely consider buying this again in the future.

Silk Naturals Tchotchke Sheer Blush
I love the Silk Naturals blushes!  Tchotchke was a pretty nude-pink, but it had a bit too much shimmer for me.  Some days it was okay, and others, my cheeks had a slightly metallic sheen that I wasn't crazy about.  Repurchase? Not this particular shade.

Eye Shadow Samples
My loose eye shadow stash is ridiculous, so I'm still actively trying to work through some colors.  Thing is, even samples tend to last 10-20 uses, so it's taking a bit of time!  I love Cheeky Cosmetics eye shadows, and all three shades - Moroccan Sunset, Sugarplum, and Mauvelous - were beautiful.   The other three, from Pollen Cosmetics, Persephone Minerals, and Sassy Minerals, were also great, but none of the three companies are in business anymore from what I can tell.  Repurchase? No, but only because I have still have so many eye shadows!  I'd come back to Cheeky Cosmetics when I do need more.

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links.


19 April 2016

Three Months of Empties -- Part #1: Hair // Body

I've been diligent about writing monthly empties posts for the last couple years, but I've recently fallen out of the habit and have yet to post a single one in 2016!  Needless to say, that's left me with a whole bunch of products to talk about, so I'm going to split this into two posts.  Today, I'll cover the hair and body products, and the second part will include all the skincare and makeup empties.  I've also opted not to include samples -- with a couple makeup exceptions in Part 2 -- as I already posted mini-reviews of most of them while doing a sample challenge on Instagram.  



Dr. Bronner's Unscented Baby-Mild Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner's is one of the most talked about products in the green community and for good reason. This soap has a million and one uses and is basically just a great item to keep on hand.  I mostly use it for cleaning purposes -- makeup brushes, laundry, and more -- but it's also great as a body wash or hand soap.  I like the Unscented best, since it can be used as is or easily scented yourself with essential oils.  Repurchase? Definitely!

Aura Cacia Sweet Almond + Blueberry Seed Oil
This is a great oil!  Judging by the price, I'm sure it's somewhere around 90% almond oil, but the blueberry seed oil, however minimal, still manages to lend a delicate blueberry scent, and also offers additional antioxidant benefits.  It's a great multipurpose blend that I used for a variety of things: as a makeup remover, oil cleanser, body oil, and even hair oil.  My one gripe is that I can't stand Aura Cacia's bottles -- the squeeze mechanism always dispenses either too little or too much -- but it's simple enough to decant into another bottle, which is what I ended up doing here.  Repurchase? Yes.

Intelligent Nutrients Organic Styling Gel
Intelligent Nutrients is one of my favorite hair care brands and the Styling Gel is a nice product.  I like the minty scent and it has great hold, though it can leave hair feeling crunchy if you use a lot of product.  For that reason alone, I prefer my old standby, Kinky-Curly's Spiral Spritz, for day-to-day light-hold styling, but the Styling Gel is great for when you need a bit more hold.  Repurchase? Maybe.

Nourish Organic Fresh Fig Hand Wash
I love Nourish products and the hand wash is no exception.  Fresh Fig is a great sweet and fruity scent and the hand washes are creamy and moisturizing.  Unfortunately, Nourish recently discontinued them, but I really think the body washes are, if not exactly the same, very comparable.  I'll probably hang onto this bottle and refill it with those in the future.  Repurchase? Not possible.

Young Living Thieves Foaming Hand Soap
I like this hand soap for the kitchen.  It smells fresh and YL's Thieves blend contains a lot of purifying essential oils, so it's great to use while you're cooking.  The one negative is that I do find it can dry out your hands when used repeatedly within a shorter time frame.  Repurchase? Maybe.



Earthpaste Peppermint Toothpaste
I've gone through many a tube of Earthpaste and I keep going back to it for the simple fact that it's the most accessible glycerin-free toothpaste I've found.  I prefer the Wintergreen, but the Peppermint is fine too.  Repurchase? Yes, I already have.

Acure Moroccan Argan + Argan Oil Shampoo
I've used this shampoo for years and have repurchased numerous bottles, but I think this may well be my last. I'm not sure whether my scalp has changed, or if it's just gotten too used to this product after such a long time, but I started having issues with buildup a couple months ago and eventually traced them back to this.  I used to love it, but it just doesn't get my scalp clean anymore.  The last quarter or so of the bottle was finished off as a laundry soap.  Repurchase? It's unlikely.

Rocky Mountain Soap Apricot Hand Cream
Rocky Mountain's hand creams are loaded with nourishing oils and rich butters, but they still manage to absorb really nicely, without any kind of greasy residue.  Sadly, the apricot scent was less of a hit than the actual hand cream formula.  It smelled great in the tube, but quickly turned both sickly sweet and slightly sour as soon as it touched my skin.  Repurchase? Yes, but not in this scent.

Andalou Naturals Lime Blossom Shea Butter + Coconut Water Hand Cream
Again, a great hand cream formula, but not my favorite scent.  I don't find Andalou's hand creams ultra-nourishing, but they're great to reach for throughout the day, when you might not have time to wait for a richer cream to sink in.  I think this particular one would be a big hit for fans of coconutty and tropical scents, but, personally, I prefer the Clementine.  Repurchase? Yes, but probably not in this scent.

The Parkdale Butter Co. Peppermint Lip Butter
I received this lip butter in an event goody bag in the fall and although it had a beautiful chocolate mint scent, I wasn't a fan of it for its intended purpose.  Made with just four organic ingredients -- shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and peppermint extract -- and no waxes, the texture was closer to a whipped shea butter than a traditional lip balm.  On the lips, it melted away very quickly and didn't seem to really do much, but I did like it as a body butter.  There are other Parkdale Butter products I like more, but I wouldn't recommend this particular one unless you're looking for a purse-friendly body butter.  Repurchase? No.

Acure Ultra-Hydrating Body Lotion
I've made it pretty clear that I'm not a fan of this lotion in its current iteration.  I'd love Acure to return to the old formula, but as it stands now, the lotion is a lot thinner and waterier than I like and does a truly sub par job of keeping my skin moisturized.  Repurchase? No.

Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week for all my skincare and makeup empties!

Contains affiliate links.

13 April 2016

Ellovi Butter Review + Giveaway

Who says you need a long and complicated ingredient list to make a gorgeous product?  Certainly not Ellovi, a brand that embodies simple elegance with body and lip butters made of just six ethically sourced and wild harvested ingredients.  Ellovi products are vegan and cruelty-free, made in California, and free of water, preservatives, and fillers.

Ellovi's butters aren't new to me, but I've been trying out two new-to-me varieties:  the Blossom Butter* and Mint Chocolate Lip Butter*.  Keep reading for more on these two, plus stay tuned till the end to enter for a chance to try them yourself!  



Chamomile Blossom Butter
Chamomile and citrus are two of my favorite scents, so picking this butter was a no-brainer.  Delicately scented with mandarin and Italian chamomile essential oils, it's a beautiful floral and fruity mix that's perfect for this time of year.  There's also an underlying sweetness that comes through from the coconut oil.

The other three ingredients (in case you were keeping count!) are mango seed oil, shea butter, and non-GMO corn starch.  All this goodness blends together to create a rich body butter that's extremely nourishing to the skin, but not greasy.  Mango seed oil often gives products an amazing dry oil feel and I do find Blossom absorbs a little better and leaves a slightly drier finish on the skin compared to Ellovi's Original Butter - without mango seed oil - which I've used previously.  It's no less hydrating than the original, but, because it absorbs so well, it's a product I'm happy to slather all over my body, whereas I often find myself reserving richer butters like this for just extra dry spots like feet and elbows.  

The butter is beautifully packaged in a heavy glass jar and, because it's so rich and concentrated, a little bit really does go a long way.  

Mint Chocolate Lip Butter
With similar ingredients, it should come as no surprise that Ellovi's lip butters are just as fabulous as the body butters!  The Mint Chocolate, specifically, is a blend of mango seed oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, cocoa oil, and peppermint.  Without any waxes, it's a little softer than many other lip balm formulas, but extremely smooth and buttery.  

The Mint Chocolate scent, reminiscent of mint chocolate chip ice cream and After Eight bars, is just delicious.   It's sweet and yummy, but in a very "real" way -- not at all fake or candy-like.  The mint gives just the slightest tingle to the lips when first applied, and the balm does a great job keeping my lips feeling soft and smooth all day long. 

Giveaway
Ellovi is generously offering up this same pair for one of you to try!  Follow the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Press sample

2 April 2016

Standout Skincare for Spring

The last couple months have been quieter than usual here on the blog, but there are lots of good things coming up, I promise!  Today, I want to talk about a few stellar skincare items that I've been using recently.  Here in Toronto, where the weather has yet to make up its mind between winter and spring, these five items have been keeping my skin healthy and happy despite all the back and forth temperatures.  

If you'd be interested in seeing a full skincare routine too, let me know in the comments and I can definitely put that together soon!




Batty's Bath Soothing Cleanser*
The Soothing Cleanser is a gentle, soap-free cleanser designed for sensitive, inflamed, and rosacea-prone skin.  It's packed full of nourishing oils, along with soothing aloe vera and chamomile flower water, and is a real treat to use.  Witch hazel and burdock root also offer anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial benefits, making it suitable for those prone to acne, eczema, and psoriasis too.  The cleanser itself is a bright yellowy-orange cream, courtesy of sea buckthorn oil, and is laced with red jojoba beads, making it quite fun from a purely aesthetic perspective too.  It also has a lovely fresh citrus and mint scent that I can't get enough of!

An exfoliating cleanser isn't normally what I'd think of first for sensitive or reactive skin, but the jojoba beads are smooth and rounded and glide over the skin very gently, offering just a hint of delicate exfoliation.  I don't have rosacea, but my skin is prone to redness and the Soothing Cleanser legitimately eliminates any color or irritation.  It's not uncommon for my skin to be pink and flushed for a few minutes after cleansing, but with the Soothing Cleanser, my skin is left milky, white, and above all else, calm.  When I have time, I like to leave the cleanser on my face for an extra minute or two before rinsing to let the great ingredients work their magic even more.  




Homemade Witch Hazel Toner
 As much as I appreciate the difference a good toner can make in my skin, toners aren't a product that generally inspires me to spend a ton of money, so I often resort to DIY-ing my own.  Witch hazel is great for keeping pores clean, and with just a few added ingredients, you've got yourself a great toner.  I shared this recipe on the blog several years ago and this variation more recently on Instagram, and I still come back to it, though I vary the essential oils depending on mood and skin needs.  I've also started adding a small amount of zinc oxide, which is great for calming down redness and minimizing skin sensitivity.  If you want to amp it up even more, you can also pre-infuse the witch hazel with herbs.



Niora Naturals Silk Basic Makeup Remover*
Niora Naturals' Makeup Remover has an emollient texture that falls somewhere between a cream cleanser and an oil.  It works best when massaged onto dry skin and removed with a damp washcloth or face wipe, much like you would an oil cleanser.  It's a light emulsion that removes makeup with the same ease as an oil, but wipes - or even rinses away - much easier.  With a base of organic jojoba oil and glycerin, the Makeup Remover is very gentle on the skin, but still manages to remove every speck of makeup -- even tricky things like eyeliner and mascara!  It does sting if you get the product directly in your eyes, but as long as I keep my eyes tightly shut while using it, I don't generally have any problems.

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel

I've raved about the multi-functional Soothing Gel before and I've discovered yet another use for it!  I already love using it on active blemishes and pimples, but I've recently learned it works great at stopping breakouts before they strike too.  Overall, my skin isn't very acne-prone, but, strange as it sounds, my eyebrows have a tendency to react to any brow makeup.  With an aloe vera base and tons of great herbs, the Soothing Gel has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and as soon as I started running a couple drops of it through the hairs before applying makeup, I noticed a big difference.  As I've said before, I find the gel a bit drying when used all over the face, but it's fantastic as a targeted treatment on smaller areas.

Nourish Organic Unscented Body Butter

My under eyes, along with a couple other small areas, have gotten extra dry the last couple weeks and, on a whim, I started using Nourish's Unscented Body Butter to treat them.  A longtime favorite of mine for dry patches on the body, I was happy to discover that it works just as well on the face.  The butter, made of mainly organic shea butter and sunflower seed oil, does contain coconut oil, but it's one of the last ingredients and, used conservatively on just small areas, my skin has not reacted negatively at all.



Have you tried any of these?  What skincare products have been helping you transition to spring?


*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

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