11 June 2018

A European Hand Cream Edit ft. Aurelia, Benecos, Alva + Lavera

There are few things I love as much as a good hand cream, and while I’ve found some solid favourites over the years, the product junkie in me is always up for seeing what’s out there and trying new things.  I’ve been testing out several new-to-me hand creams over the last few months and, while none of them have quite overtaken my longtime favorite -- the Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Hand Cream -- I have discovered some good ones, including a new lightweight favourite that’s perfect for the warmer months or for those times when you just don’t need as intense of a lotion.  

Keep reading for a full breakdown on the six European hand creams I’ve been experimenting with recently...


Alva Hand Cream + Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream
These two hand creams are my first products from German-made Alva and I like them both a lot. The richer Sea Buckthorn formula is my favorite of the two, mainly for its fresh lemony scent, but also because, made with shea and cocoa butters, it feels a little more nourishing.  The original hand cream smells mostly like tea tree oil to me, with just a hint of citrus coming through underneath.  Both creams moisturize very well and absorb reasonably quickly too.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream
The Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream promises to hydrate and nourish skin while helping diminish dark spots and pigmentation.  I don’t have dark spots or pigmentation on my hands so I can’t speak to those claims, but as a moisturizing product, it’s pretty fantastic.  The hand cream is thick but not heavy, and feels very healing on dry, dehydrated, or chapped skin. It’s also great on dry cuticles.  The cream isn’t oily or greasy, but it does take a minute or two to fully sink in. The scent -- a blend of vetiver, ylang ylang, lavender, patchouli, bergamot, juniper, rosemary, and lemon -- is herbal, floral and just generally lovely.  This is definitely one of the more strongly fragranced natural hand creams I’ve used and the scent does linger on the skin. At £28/$52 USD for 75 ml, it's a pricey hand cream, but if you have the money and want to splurge, it's a beautiful product.  

Benecos Sea Buckthorn & Orange Hand & Nail Cream
Way at the other end of the price spectrum, we have the Benecos Sea Buckthorn & Orange Hand & Nail Cream, retailing for a mere £2.08 -- or, a little higher in North America at ±$9 CAD -- for the same 75 ml.  After mixed experiences with Benecos products, I purchased this cream without high expectations, but it is undoubtedly my favourite discovery of the bunch.  The Hand & Nail Cream is lightweight and quick to absorb, and it leaves skin silky soft and deeply hydrated.  I also adore the product’s light and fruity scent, which comes from a mix of essential oils and natural fragrance. I know the cream is supposed to smell like oranges, but it also smells a little peachy and a little green/herbal to my nose.  The scent is beautiful, but also light and inoffensive. Seriously, I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this guy!

Lavera Basis Sensitiv Hand Cream + 2-in-1 Hand & Cuticle Cream
Lavera makes some fantastic products, but the hand creams were pretty unimpressive to me.  Both versions have alcohol as the fourth ingredient and they just don’t offer any kind of long lasting moisturization.  The creams feel nice enough in the moment, but within an hour or two, my hands are dry again, almost as if I hadn’t used anything at all.  In terms of scent, the Basis line is pretty unobtrusive to my nose, but the Hand & Cuticle Cream wasn’t a favourite -- to me, it smells a little old-fashioned and a little like sunscreen.  

The Bottom Line
Lavera’s two hand creams did not impress me, but the other four are all solid products in my book.  I’m especially smitten with the budget-friendly Benecos Sea Buckthorn Hand & Nail Cream and I also wouldn’t hesitate to rebuy the Alva Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream.

Contains affiliate links.

1 June 2018

StixBrands: Portable + Travel-Friendly Body Care

Despite carrying an oversize purse, I only allocate a small amount of space to beauty products, so anything I carry with me needs to be fairly small and compact.  I first discovered SoapStix, StixBrands' first product, several years ago -- I even blogged about them way back in 2012! -- and I still use and refill that same bottle to this day, so I was pretty excited to try the company’s newer offerings when they reached out to me earlier this spring.   Along with more SoapStix scents, StixBrands now makes a sunscreen (SunStix) and lotion (SkinStix), both, of course, in the company's signature portable stick/tube packaging. All StixBrands products are made in Canada and are designed to be portable, non-toxic, and environmentally safe.


Packaging

Lots of companies make travel-size items, but what’s unique about StixBrands products is the shape of their bottles.  The tubes are long, thin and roughly the size of a large marker or highlighter. The bottles are secure -- no leaking! -- and they all come with a spray top dispenser.  


SoapStix ($4.99 for 10ml // $11.99 for 500ml)
The SoapStix are, for me, still the highlight of StixBrands' line.  They’re a castile-based soap with minimal ingredients and are a fantastic multipurpose product to carry with you.  Made of just water, olive and coconut oils, glycerin, and essential oils or maple syrup, the ingredients are super clean and basic. The soaps are gentle and were specifically formulated with dry skin and eczema in mind.

The SoapStix are great for on-the-go hand washing, and, since castile soap is so multi-functional, also for any other cleaning needs that might arise throughout your day -- washing a dish, cleaning a counter, on the fly stain remover, and per the company's suggestion, even waterless hand sanitizer.


The SoapStix are available in four scents:
Unscented -- no added essential oils.  Has a mild scent from the other ingredients.
Grapefruit -- mild and citrusy.  I think this one is my favorite of the bunch.
Lavender --  a pretty standard lavender.  I find this one the strongest of all the scents, but it's not overpowering or offensive.
Maple -- sweet and mapley.

Larger 500ml pump bottles are also available.



SkinStix Hand & Body Lotion ($6.99 for 10ml // $12.29 for 250ml)
As you would expect from a lotion housed in a spray bottle, the SkinStix has quite a thin consistency.  It’s lightweight and absorbs very easily, and it also does a really good job moisturizing the skin.  The lotion has a light orange scent that’s mild and refreshing.

Obviously the 10ml tube won’t go far as a body lotion, but I like keeping it in my purse to use as a light hand cream, and there’s also the option of purchasing a larger bottle.  The SkinStix does contain phenoxyethanol, if that's an ingredient you choose to avoid.


SunStix Sunscreen ($8.99 for 10ml)
The SunStix is an SPF 30 mineral sunscreen made with a blend of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  The consistency is, again, quite thin, but that’s where the similarities to the SkinStix end. The sunscreen is very white and somewhat challenging to blend into the skin.  I also find it smells quite sweet and almost perfumey. It’s a fine product and convenient for SPF touch ups throughout the day, but it isn’t the first sunscreen I’d choose to reach for.


The Bottom Line

The SoapStix are fantastic and are something I've used for years, long before being sent this package. I've also enjoyed using the SkinStix, but the SPFStix was not a huge hit for me.  I love the packaging of all three -- the compact slim tubes are super handy for both everyday and travel.


*Press Sample. Contains affiliate links.

22 May 2018

Curly Girl Review: Phillip Adam Curly Hair Shampoo

It’s been a while since my last curly girl post, but I’m excited to bring them back this spring, starting with today’s review of the Phillip Adam Curly Hair Shampoo*.  Phillip Adam is a Canadian hairdresser who’s worked in the hair industry for nearly 50 years. His desire for clean and high-performance hair products led to the creation of his own eponymous line of safe and effective hair care and body products.  The entire range is biodegradable, cruelty-free, and made without dyes, parabens, SLS, petroleum by-products, GMO’s, or gluten. The majority of products, including the Curly Hair Shampoo, are also entirely plant-based and vegan.


The Curly Hair Shampoo ($15 CAD for 12 oz), specifically created for us curly folks, is intended to leave hair cleansed but also sufficiently conditioned to define and control curls.  It’s a spin on the company’s bestselling Apple Cider Vinegar Shampoo, only in this one, the apple cider vinegar has been replaced by an extra dose of pea protein and guar to add a little weight and help control frizz.  In addition to curls, the Curly Hair Shampoo is also recommended for colour treated, dry, or damaged hair.

I really like it.  My hair needs moisture, like all curls, but it also has a tendency to get greasy at the roots and can be easily weighed down by heavy products.  The Curly Hair Shampoo strikes that perfect balance for me: it cleanses the scalp thoroughly and does a great job cutting through any product buildup, but doesn’t leave the actual strands feeling dry or stripped.  The shampoo lathers extremely easily as well -- definitely top tier of all the natural shampoos I’ve used -- and as a result, I need less product to get my hair clean.

The Curly Hair Shampoo also gives my hair a good amount of volume.  I’m long overdue for a trim, and the longer my hair gets, the more the weight of it pulls down volume at the roots, but the Curly Hair Shampoo adds back a surprising amount of bounce and volume.  I haven’t had a Philip Adams conditioner to use with the shampoo (although the matching Thirsty Hair Conditioner may just be my next purchase!), so I’ve played around with a couple different ones that were already in my shower, and no matter what I pair the shampoo with, I consistently end up with defined and bouncy curls, minimal frizz and flyaways, and really excellent volume.  

The shampoo also smells fantastic.  Made with two of my favorite essential oils, peppermint and eucalyptus, the scent is bright, fresh and minty.  I don’t notice any fragrance lingering on my hair once the shampoo is rinsed out, but I thoroughly enjoy it while I’m using the product.  

The Bottom Line
The Curly Hair Shampoo is a fantastic product for curly hair.  It smells great, lathers well, cleanses thoroughly, and does a fantastic job volumizing and defining curls.  

*Press Sample

14 May 2018

New at the Drugstore: Nude By Nature

I’ve always advocated for more accessible natural products, so as soon as I heard that Nude By Nature, a well-known Australian natural mineral makeup line, was launching exclusively in Shoppers Drug Mart this year, I was pretty excited.  Up to this point, our only widespread healthy “drugstore” makeup options in Canada have been Burt’s Bees and a select few Physician’s Formula Organic Wear products, so this is a huge step forward. Nude by Nature markets itself as high performing natural formulas free from synthetics, silicones, talc, and parabens.  The entire line is 100% naturally derived.

I’ve been trying out four products over the last several months -- three purchased by me and one that I received free from ChickAdvisor -- and I’m excited to share my thoughts on this new Canadian launch.  Keep reading for my take on everything...


Perfecting Primer ($32 for 1oz)
I don't typically use a face primer, so if I hadn't received this mini from ChickAdvisor, I doubt I would have tried it on my own.  The Perfecting Primer is silicone-free and has a similar consistency to a light lotion or moisturizer. It's invisible on the skin and creates a good, hydrated base for makeup application, but I haven't found it does anything more than my normal skincare routine.  I did a side-by-side comparison one day with the primer on one half of my face and just my regular skincare on the other and both sides looked and wore exactly the same throughout the day. Without the silicones, the primer doesn't do any intense pore-filling or smoothing and I haven't found it prolongs the wear of my makeup either. I don't think it's a bad product, but, for me, it just feels like an unnecessary extra step. I've also read a lot of comments about the primer's strong fragrance, but I've noticed very little scent at all.

Perfecting Concealer ($24 for 0.2oz)
Dark under eye circles are one of my biggest skin woes, so I’m always up for trying concealers that promise lightweight and luminous coverage.  The Perfecting Concealer is a squeeze tube liquid concealer that checks both those boxes, but I have somewhat mixed feelings about it on the whole. Overall, I like it a lot. Coverage is fantastic and it does a great job brightening the under eye area without looking heavy or cakey.  I’ve also used the concealer to cover blemishes and redness and it works well for those purposes too.

What I don’t love is the way that it sets...or I should say, the way that it doesn’t set. On its own, the Perfecting Concealer stays quite wet and sticky and it takes a generous two or three dustings of powder to fully get rid of that tackiness.  It took some trial and error to find a powder that could handle multiple layers without looking cakey, but ultimately I had the best results from a lightweight, silica-based loose powder. I’ve been using a lightly tinted one from the now defunct Ashley Morgan Cosmetics, but something like the RMS Tinted Un-Powder or Silk Naturals Tinted Blur Powder should perform similarly.

In terms of colors, Nude By Nature seems to do really well for light and medium shades, but not quite as well for darker skin tones. I chose the second lightest shade, Porcelain Beige (02), for its peachier undertones, and it works very well at covering the bluer tones under my eyes.  

(Top to Bottom) Brown Eye Pencil, Champagne Highlight Stick, Porcelain Beige Perfecting Concealer, Perfecting Primer

I bought the Highlight Stick mainly to use as a cream eye shadow and I love it!  It's incredibly quick to dab onto the eyes and Champagne (01), a golden champagne shade, is beautiful all over the lid for an easy one-and-done eye look.  Being a highlighter, the colour isn’t completely opaque, but it’s buildable and has the prettiest luminosity.

The texture is creamy but not greasy. It’s not crease proof on the eyes -- but then, what natural cream shadow is? -- but it wears naturally and genuinely looks good for the entire day, in spite of any wear or minor creasing.  The consistency and feel is also lovely for its intended function as a face highlight, but Champagne is a little too dark and golden for my fair, neutral-to-cool skin. I wouldn’t say no to some kind of cream/pearl shade though, if Nude By Nature ever decides to expand the range.

Contour Eye Pencil ($18 for 0.03oz)
Brown pencil liner is an everyday go-to for me, and for such a basic product, I’m pretty picky about the particulars.  Happily, the Contour Eye Pencil in Brown (02) meets all my eye liner needs. It’s a great dark brown colour -- not too warm! -- that glides on easily and stays put all day long.  It’s soft enough that you can smudge the colour out with the attached smudger and also pigmented and creamy enough to wear in the waterline. The pencil also stays sharp for a good amount of time, so you’re not burning through your pencil (and $$) at the speed of light.  For both its quality and ease of accessibility, this is definitely an item I can see myself re-buying in the future. (And, if you’re a fan of colored liners, Rainforest, a gorgeous golden/olive green, is one of the prettiest eyeliners I’ve ever swatched. I don’t wear coloured pencils often, but I’m still tempted to pick it up every time I’m in Shoppers!)


The Bottom Line
The Perfecting Primer didn’t impress me, but I’m really enjoying the other three products.  I’m always excited to see more healthy options available in big mainstream stores like Shoppers Drug Mart and I think Nude By Nature is, on the whole, a solid makeup line.  The price point is a little high for a drugstore line, but it's considerably lower than many other comparable natural lines and still falls within what I'd consider an affordable range. The quality, from what I've tried, is good and I'm also completely smitten with the shiny rose gold packaging.


Contains affiliate links.

2 May 2018

Sample Stash #20: Deluxe Mini Edition

It’s been a long time since my last sample stash post, but I’ve been using a fair number of minis recently, so it seemed like a good time to bring the series back.  There’s only so much information you can gain from a small sample sachet, but deluxe samples and trial size minis can give you a great impression of a product without a big commitment.  


When I first received the Purity Skin Tonic (in my October Goodbeing Box), I disliked the scent enough that I could barely bring myself to try it, but six months later, either the scent has mellowed or my nose has, as it’s no longer an issue.  I still get a hint of pool water, but it’s not acrid or offensive, and the product now smells mainly fresh and a little herbal/minty. It works incredibly well on my skin too! The tonic combines soothing, anti-inflammatory, and clarifying ingredients and I notice my skin is smoother and my pores look a little more refined since using it regularly.  It’s safe to say that Good Medicine Beauty Lab is firmly back on my wishlist and I’ll certainly consider a full size of Purity once I’m done with the mini.

Andalou Naturals Probiotic + C Renewal Cream
I’ve written about how disappointing some of Andalou’s reformulations have been for me, and unfortunately this is another product to add to that list.  The old version of the Probiotic + C Renewal Cream was one of my favorite moisturizers -- I’ve gone through at least two or three full pots of it -- so when I needed a new moisturizer, I thought I’d give the new incarnation a try.  In terms of scent and feel, the two are very similar, however the ingredients have changed considerably and so has the effect of the new cream on my skin. One of the most significant changes is that sunflower oil, which used to be the second ingredient, is now lumped in at the end, amongst small percent ingredients like hyaluronic acid and calendula extract.  The new formula uses a higher amount of glycerin and lists its first oil, jojoba, as the fifth ingredient. Ultimately, the new version left me with minor congestion on my cheeks and seemed to have my skin producing more oil throughout the day. Definitely not something I’ll be purchasing again.

Aurelia Miracle Cleanser
I’ve used several samples and minis of the Miracle Cleanser over the years, but I’m not sure I’ve ever written about it on the blog before.  The Miracle Cleanser is a rich cream cleanser that thoroughly and deeply cleans the skin. It’s thick enough to get a good massage going as you cleanse and feels moisturizing without leaving behind any kind of residue.  It also smells deliciously herbal -- a mix of eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, and bergamot. Despite not buying the full size yet, I’d feel confident including this amongst my favorite cleansers.

John Masters Scalp Spearmint & Meadowsweet Scalp Stimulating Shampoo
I’m a big fan of John Masters hair care and I think the Spearmint & Meadowsweet is my new favorite shampoo from the line.  It lathers decently well -- not the easiest or richest lather, but far from the worst -- and I enjoy the fresh minty scent of peppermint, spearmint, and eucalyptus.  Meadowsweet extract is intended to gently clarify, while soy protein strengthens and sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid lock in moisture. I don’t find the shampoo especially clarifying (or moisturizing, for that matter), but it’s a fantastic and balanced everyday shampoo.  

Bite Beauty Sugarcane Amuse Bouche Lipstick
I picked up Bite’s The Perfect Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick set in the fall and I've been reaching for Sugarcane, a pretty light/medium pink, a lot over the last several weeks. (Check out the rest of the colours on my Instagram.)  The Amuse Bouche formula is good -- richly pigmented and creamy -- but it’s not the most moisturizing, so I like to wear a thin layer of lip balm underneath to keep my lips happy. Bite’s products do contain dyes, but the Amuse Bouche ingredients are pretty clean otherwise.  




Contains affiliate links.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...