18 July 2018

Inika Makeup: Certified Organic, Vegan, Cruelty Free + Halal

Inika is a popular Australian natural makeup brand that’s been on the green scene since 2006.  The entire line is mineral-based and certified cruelty free, vegan, and halal. Many products also hold Organic Food Chain Australia certification, indicating that they contain a minimum of 70% certified organic ingredients.  I’ve been testing out the Light Trial Pack, which includes samples sizes of the Inika’s most popular base products (in shades suitable for light skin), and I want to share my thoughts on those items, along with a a couple other Inika products I’ve been using for quite some time.  



Certified Organic Pure Primer
I’m not a big face primer user and the Pure Primer hasn’t radically changed my mind.  A hydrating primer made with hyaluronic acid and organic oils, it moisturizes and does create a nice base for makeup, but, much like the Nude by Nature primer I reviewed in the spring, I don’t notice it doing anything more than my regular skincare, so, for me, it seems like an unnecessary extra step.  If you’re someone that enjoys a hydrating primer under makeup, I expect the Pure Primer would be a bigger hit. I’ve dabbled with using it as an under eye primer and I do like it for that purpose.  The extra moisture the primer provides helps concealer blend out a little easier, especially if some time has passed between applying eye cream and doing my makeup.


Certified Organic Liquid Foundation (Cream)
The Liquid Foundation is the surprise star of the kit -- I just love it!  I tried Inika’s liquid foundation several years ago, before they reformulated it, and the current iteration is a major improvement in my opinion.  The new foundation has very little scent and, while straight out of the tube, Cream (NL3), the second lightest shade in the range, looks like it would be way too dark for my skin, it does a surprisingly good job blending in and just leaves my face looking radiant and slightly sun kissed.  I’d be curious to try the next shade down for comparison, but I’ve had no problem matching Cream to my skin. My favorite way to apply the foundation is with my fingers as I find it gives the most natural and seamless application. I only get a light-to-medium coverage this way, but I’m confident that coverage could be built up with a brush or beauty sponge to a good medium or medium-to-full.  With a light dusting of powder on top, the foundation wears nicely for a full day -- at least 10 or so hours -- and, of the entire trial kit, is probably the item I’m most likely to repurchase in full size.

(top to bottom) Grace P1 Mineral Foundation, Strength N3 Mineral Foundation, Cream NL3 Liquid Foundation
Loose Mineral Foundation (Grace P1 + Strength N3)
As someone who wears powder foundation almost every day that I wear makeup, it’s fair to say I’ve tried a fair few over the last several years, and Inika’s Loose Mineral Foundation is really lovely.  It offers a medium coverage, has a natural, skin-like finish, and feels very lightweight on the face.  The finish is not fully matte, but it's also not overly glowy and it does a reasonably good job keeping any oilies at bay too. The foundation has also been tested at SPF 25, something I really appreciate since trying to be more diligent with sun protection these last few months.  My only gripe is that while the foundation looks beautiful when first applied, it definitely doesn't wear as long as some other powder foundations in my stash. I notice the coverage wearing off in certain areas, particularly on and around my nose, after just about 5 hours, so it isn’t a product I’d wear on long days when I’m unable to touch up.   

On first opening the kit, I again wasn’t confident that I’d find a colour match in either of the included shades, but Grace (P1) ended up matching me well.  Grace is fairly warm/yellow-toned, whereas I generally tend towards more neutral foundations, but it looks pretty natural once blended. I do slightly prefer the peachy-neutral undertones of Strength (N3), but the colour is too dark for my skin.  

(L to R) Cream NL3 Liquid Foundation, Strength N3 Loose Mineral Foundation, Grace P1 Loose Mineral Foundation, Eye Shadow Duo, Candy Lip Tint
Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow Duo (Gold Oyster*)
I’ve had the Eye Shadow Duo on my desk for over a year now and I still feel somewhat conflicted about it.  The darker bronze shade is phenomenal and I love wearing it as a one shadow look. I’m able to preserve all the shine by patting it onto the lid, and can also add definition by buffing it out a little in the crease.  It’s a super functional shadow that gives great dimension to any look, even when it’s the only colour on my eyes. On the other hand, I find the gold shade a little lackluster. It’s very soft in colour (the swatch, above, is super built up) and I haven’t ultimately been able to get the pigmentation I want out of it on the eyes, making it something that I don’t reach for very frequently.

The pressed shadows are talc and silicone free and I could argue that the duo is worth it for how beautiful the bronze is alone -- I really do love it -- but I can’t help wishing the gold was an equal standout.

Ultimate Lip Tint (Candy*)
I included the Ultimate Lip Tint in a roundup of sheer lip products last year and I still love it just as much as when I first wrote that post.  Basically an elevated tinted balm, the Lip Tints offer sheer colour in a creamy and buttery formula that legitimately does a fantastic job keeping lips healthy and moisturized.  The scent, a soft mix of cocoa butter and peppermint essential oil, is refreshing, and Candy is a pretty and shimmery pale pink. I definitely want to pick up another shade or two in the future!


The Bottom Line
Inika has some great products and, based off the updated foundation formula, is clearly a company willing to improve on itself, which I love!  The Ultimate Lip Tint and Organic Liquid Foundation have been my two favorites from the brand thus far, but I also really enjoy the bronze Pressed Mineral Eye Shadow and Loose Mineral Foundation.  The Organic Pure Primer isn’t something I really have a place for in my routine, but those who enjoy a moisturizing primer might enjoy using it. If you’re interested in Inika’s base products, the Trial Packs are a great way to try multiple products for a low cost investment and I’d definitely recommend going that route.

Have you tried anything from Inika?  What are your favourite products from the line?
*Press sample. Contains affiliate links.

2 July 2018

Lightweight, Skin-Quenching Hydration with One Love Organics Skin Dew

One Love Organics, to me, is one of the long haul, OG natural skincare brands.  They’ve been around for years, but they continue to innovate and create new and fantastic products all the time.  I’d had my eye on the Skin Dew Coconut Water Cream ever since it launched in 2016, so when I saw it as one of two featured products in the April Art of Organics box -- selling for less than the cream's retail price alone -- I was quick to grab it.  


Skin Dew ($58 USD for 2.1oz) is an EcoCert certified organic lightweight moisturizer made with more than 50% pure organic coconut water.  In addition to hydration, coconut water offers a high mineral, amino acid, enzyme, and antioxidant content to nourish skin.  It does not have the same comedogenic properties as coconut oil, so even those sensitive to the oil -- myself included -- can often benefit from products containing coconut water or juice.  

The cream also contains:

Cupuacu butter, rich in polyphenols to condition skin.

Sunflower, acacia, watermelon seed, and jojoba oils for lightweight, protective, sebum-balancing moisture and defense against environmental stresses.

Phytic acid sourced from rice to reduce dryness and help soften the appearance of fine lines.  



Even though I’d read multiple reviews of Skin Dew, the cream wasn’t at all what I expected -- but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!  With such a high coconut water content, I had envisioned more of a gel moisturizer, or at least a gel-cream hybrid, and Skin Dew has a definite thick cream consistency.  That said, it feels silky and surprisingly lightweight on the skin and absorbs fully almost instantly, leaving skin soft and moisturized without even a hint of grease or oiliness. I’ve talked about skin's water vs. oil needs many times before and I'm a huge proponent of including both water and oil-based products in one's routine, so I love that Skin Dew does a fantastic job straddling the line between the two.  It’s a great moisturizer on its own, layered with other products, or mixed with face oils, and it sits nicely under makeup too.

Skin Dew has a very mild coconut scent -- reminiscent of good quality coconut oil as opposed to fragrance -- but I don’t notice any scent on my skin after the product is rubbed in.  

The Bottom Line
Skin Dew is a unique cream moisturizer that offers a lot in the way of hydration.  Lightweight, moisturizing, and gentle, it's suitable for many skin types including sensitive and acne-prone.  

Contains affiliate links.

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
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