31 October 2012

Wishlist Wednesday: Makeup Edition

I don't know about you, but for me, one of the dangerous things about reading beauty blogs and hearing about so many fantastic-sounding products is that it can make me want to spend spend spend.  Instead of just giving in to this, I try mull things over by keeping lists of things that catch my eye.  That way, I can come back to them in a bit and see what I actually want to buy and what was more of just a fleeting whim.

I thought it might be fun to share a few things that are currently on my makeup wishlist. 






Andalou Naturals All in One Beauty Balm 
(Sheer Tint with SPF 30)
BB Creams are all the rage these days, and while I've come across a couple others from more natural brands, Andalou's is the first I've found with an ingredient list I'd be comfortable using.  This promises to renew and brighten the skin while providing sheer coverage and SPF 30 sun protection.  Priced at only $19.95, it's pretty affordable too!











Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer and Elixir Plumping Lip Gloss
Vapour is one of those brands that I've heard amazing things about for years and yet somehow I've never managed to try.  Generally I'm really happy with how my Silk Naturals Sleep in a Jar performs, but there are days when I'd like a little more coverage, which is where this concealer would come in.  As for the lip gloss, I don't think I've ever used a plumping gloss before and I'm intrigued.  Not gonna lie, most of Vapour's line is pretty tempting!








Mineral Fusion Bronzer/Highlighter in Luster
I don't see Mineral Fusion's products talked about much, but I played around with their eyeshadows the last time I was at Whole Foods and I was happily surprised - they're smooth, creamy and nicely pigmented.  Unfortunately, on closer ingredient examination, the eyeshadows contain phenoxyethanol, which I prefer to avoid, so I've switched my fixation to this gorgeous bronzer/highlighter duo, which,  delightfully, is phenoxyethanol free.







   




Sheswai Nail Laquer
I've been all about browsing nail polishes lately, and these two from Sheswai have perked my interest.  Fersure is a deeper red, perfect for fall, and Stoned is a beautiful pebble gray/mauvey nude shade.  Both are colours I could see myself reaching for a good deal.











What products have caught your eye lately?  And am I the only one who keeps lists of things to potentially buy at a later date?  I'd love to know if you do this too! 



        

29 October 2012

And the Winner is...



 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dana M. of Mother Nature's Snuggery Congratulations!  I've sent you an email, so please get back to me with your address and I'll get your prize sent off to you ASAP.

If you didn't win, not to worry...there's always next time!  I've got a couple other giveaways up my sleeve yet:)

And, for some random puppy cuteness, I'll leave you with these photos of Spencer and Rowan (my puppy niece) having a cuddle.  As you can see, they're good friends!








        

27 October 2012

DIY Witch Hazel Deodorant

I still like the DIY cream deodorant recipe I posted back in August, but I wanted to try something new, which is where this one comes in.  I was browsing deodorants one day and kept coming across liquid roll-on formulas that had witch hazel fairly high up in the ingredients.  Eying my almost-full bottle of Humphrey's Witch Hazel Astringent, I came up with this recipe.  It uses only two ingredients and just might be the easiest DIY you'll ever find.  It literally takes all of 20 seconds to mix up.  

Recipe
1 ounce witch hazel astringent
4 drops lavender essential oil (or other essential oil(s) of your choice)

Pour ingredients into a bottle and shake to combine.

  


Love at First Swipe
This is basically the same thing I use as a toner on my face and I'll admit I was skeptical of how well it would would perform as a deodorant, but right from the first application, I was smitten.  I saturated a cotton ball with the mixture, swiped it on, gave it a minute to dry, then got dressed and went about my day.  That night, I checked back, and even with some up-close and personal sniffing, I couldn't smell anything.  Like a good blogger, I diligently tested this, checking every day for stinkyness.  It worked great - no irritation, no unsightly white marks on my clothes, and absolutely no sweaty smells to be found!

A Short-Lived Affair
Unfortunately, after about a month of using it, the deodorant stopped working.  There were no hints, no gradual lessening of effectiveness, just an abrupt 180 - one day we were great and the next, it was over.  I was stinky again.  I tried using different essential oils, adding more essential oils, and even reapplying throughout the day, but to no avail.  I'm so disappointed!  After a month of working perfectly, I can't seem to get this deodorant to work at all anymore.

The Bottom Line
While it worked, this was probably my favorite deodorant I've ever used.  Long term is another story, and for whatever reason, it stopped being effective for me.  Still, deodorant can be a funny thing and tends to interact differently with different people's body chemistry, so just because it stopped working for me, doesn't mean it won't work for you.  I'd still recommend giving it a try.  Besides being ridiculously easy to make, these are inexpensive ingredients that I expect many of us already have lying around.  Really, what have you got to lose?

I'm back to using my cream deodorant again, but I have to ask: store bought or homemade, what's your favorite deodorant?  Are there any wacky DIY concoctions on your vanity?


Also, you've still got one more day to enter my SoapStix Giveaway.  If you haven't entered yet, make sure you head on over before time's up!

  

         

25 October 2012

Review: Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil

By now, I'm sure everyone and their grandmother has heard of argan oil.  It's touted as a "key ingredient" in loads of mainstream products, and the more naturally inclined rave about using it straight for skincare, haircare, and everything in between.  I'm a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but after using it the last couple months, I'm firmly aboard and here to stay!
 


Product Description: Argan oil contains high levels of skin rejuvenating essential fatty acids. This rare and remarkable oil has traditionally been processed by hand from nuts collected in protected stands of native trees and has been used for centuries to moisturize and nourish the skin in the arid North African climate.

Aura Cacia’s Moroccan Argan Oil provides hair therapy when you need it most. Whether you prefer products for natural hair, a hair treatment or curly hair products, argan oil can be used in a variety of ways that will improve your hair’s strength, combat dryness and scalp issues as well as increase shine and softness.

Apply as a general body oil, a nourishing hair and scalp massage or to soften and rejuvenate dry skin.


Ingredients:  Organic argan (argania spinosa) kernel oil

Price: 1 fl oz for $14.99 from Aura Cacia or $10.19 from Vitacost 

My Thoughts: I've been applying this to my damp hair after showering for about two months now.  I take one pump, rub it between my hands and apply to my hair, starting at the ends.  I work it up the hair too, stopping just shy of my scalp.  My hair routine is quite simple - basically I just apply this, scrunch my hair and let it air dry.  Since adding the argan oil, my curls are more defined and my hair is overall more tidy and healthy looking, with less frizz and fly aways.

I've heard some people talk about not liking the smell of argan oil, but I have no complaints.  In fact, I actually really like the smell.  It's nutty and a little sweet, but overall, the scent is very mild.  It also disappears within a couple minutes of application.   

I haven't experimented much with using this for skincare yet, although I did try patting a small amount under my eyes last night, in the hopes of helping diminish dark circles.  My undereye area seems brighter today, but I also got extra sleep last night, so it's hard to say if the argan oil is responsible or not.  I'll have to report back once I've had the chance to test it out some more. 

Lastly, I'm also completely sold on Aura Cacia's packaging.  It comes in a lovely amber glass bottle, with a handy pump top.  Both the coloured glass and the pump help your oil to last longer.  The dark glass keeps out light and the pump keeps the oil sanitary and minimizes how much air it is exposed to.  It also dispenses just the right amount of oil and prevents any oily messes. 

The Bottom Line: Even though I'm just starting to experiment with argan oil, I think it's safe to say that it's a great multi-use product to have in your arsenal.  There are tons of different brands out there, at various price points, but as long as you're using a pure, 100% argan oil, I imagine you can expect similar results from any of them.  I've been really happy with this specific argan oil from Aura Cacia - it works well, is affordable and organic, and I'm quite taken with the packaging too.  A little goes a long way, but when I eventually run out, I can definitely see myself repurchasing it.

Have you tried argan oil?  If so, what's your favorite way to use it?

Once again, here's my referral link, in case you're new to Vitacost and want to save $10 off your first order.  No obligations, of course!

And, if you haven't entered yet, there's still time to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a free SoapStix portable handwash!  


        

18 October 2012

Review: SoapStix Portable Hand Wash (+ a Small Giveaway!)

A few months back, I blogged about my hand washing dilemma when using the public restrooms at work, and several of you talked about similar challenges you had experienced.  I loved the suggestions I got, and I recently discovered a product that's perfect for anyone with this issue: SoapStix.  These are your basic liquid castile soap, packaged in a portable, refillable spray tube.  Sounds pretty great, no?



Product Description: Introducing SoapStix, a portable liquid soap spray.  Wash your hands with confidence wherever you go!  Avoid using harmful public soap dispensers or alcohol sanitizers.  Ideal for those times when soap is not available.  SoapStix is eco-friendly and uses Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Essential Oils to help repair dry skin.  It purifies skin by removing dirt, leaving hands soft and moisturized.  Fits in pocket, purse, back-pack, medical bag, briefcase, golf or travel bag...anywhere!

Ingredients: Water, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Lavandula Officinalis (Lavender) Oil

Price: $2.99 for 10mL/0.33 fl. oz

My Thoughts: Assuming you're not using a chemical-filled, triclosan-laden version, I have nothing against hand sanitizer, which you're also likely to find in my bag, but sometimes you just want to wash your hands with actual soap and water.  SoapStix are a great option for those times.  They're available in three colours -  blue, pink, and clear - but the only difference is the packaging.  The actual soap is identical in all three colours.  They're super portable and fit easily in your bag, although I would say, at about the same size as a hi-liter, it's a little large for a pocket.  You can't get much easier than the spray top, and the soap itself does a great job too.  My one caveat is that I don't love smell.  It's a faint, almost muddy, lavender scent that I wish was either different or stronger - I'm not sure which.  Nothing that a couple extra drops of essential oil won't fix, I'm sure!


Size Comparison

Close-up of spray nozzle

The Bottom Line: SoapStix are a great option if you're looking for a portable liquid soap to carry with you.  The company also sells a larger, 500mL size of the soap, which you can use to refill the spray bottle, but I'm not sure if that's something I will purchase in the future.  I love the packaging of the travel size and the fact that it's refillable, but the soap itself wasn't a huge standout for me, so I'm more likely to just refill it with whatever other liquid soap or body wash I happen to already have on the go.     



GIVEAWAY

I've been wanting to do more small giveaways, so when I bought mine, I also picked up an extra SoapStix to give away to one of you lovely readers.  If you're interested, all you have to do is wait for the Rafflecopter widget to load below and fill in as many or as few of the entries as you like.  The giveaway will be open for about a week and a half, until Sunday October 28th at midnight.  I'll announce the winner on October 29th.  Good luck!




a Rafflecopter giveaway


        

15 October 2012

Vitacost Goodies

I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: Vitacost is one of my favorite places to shop online.  They carry a ton of products, their prices are great, and I've recently experienced just how good their customer service is too!  If you follow me on twitter, you might remember me tweeting a couple weeks ago about finding my Vitacost order outside my house with the box cut open and missing almost everything I ordered.  What did Vitacost do?  They shipped me out a brand new box the very next day!  Pretty fantastic, no?

I've placed a couple orders recently and I thought it would be fun to show you what I got.  First we have the cosmetics:



Nourish Exfoliating Body Polish
I usually make my own scrubs, but that means that when I get busy, I often end up not exfoliating.  Plus, I've been eying Nourish's products ever since hearing about them from Dawn of Turby and John.  I can't wait to try this out!

Blum Naturals Unscented All-Purpose Cleansing Wipes

I've never really been a makeup wipes kind of girl, but they are a good thing to have on hand for those nights when you just can't manage to wash your face.  I should mention that these aren't specifically face wipes, but I chose them since Blum's actual face wipes don't have an unscented option.  

Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil
I'm a bit late jumping on the argan oil bandwagon, but I'm officially there now!  I got this a couple weeks ago and have been using it as a leave-in when I scrunch my hair and let it air dry.  (Lets be honest here, that means most days.)  It helps define my curls and control frizz, and has also made my hair seem healthier overall.

Honeybee Gardens Luscious Lip Gloss in Innocence
I haven't tried this yet, but I really like Honeybee Gardens' lipsticks, so I'm hopeful that this will be equally awesome!

I couldn't resist picking up a couple snacks either:



Vitaspelt Pretzels
These are wheat-free, yeast-free pretzels and they're tasty too!  I used to be able to find them in local health food stores, but I haven't seen them in years, so I was glad to find them from Vitacost.

Yummy Earth Wild Peppermint Refresh Mints
I really like Yummy Earth's other candies, though this will be my first time trying their mints.  I'm sure they'll be great.

Barbara's Bakery Oatmeal Snackimals
I used to snack on these as a kid and for $0.91, I threw them in my cart, just for nostalgia's sake.  If I remember correctly, they're quite delightful.


I'm sure I'll review at least some of these things in the future, once I've had more of a chance to test them out, but that's all for now!  Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like to hear more about.

And, don't forget, if you've never ordered from Vitacost, you can get $10 off your first purchase by signing up using my referral link.


        

3 October 2012

Suncoat Nail Polish Remover Gel Review

Nail polish is one of those iffier products for the naturally-inclined consumer.  There are healthier choices - water-based or without the worst chemicals (formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP) - but none are completely natural or chemical-free.  True confession time:  Nail polish remover is one area where I've yet to find a healthier option I'm fully satisfied with.  I only paint my toenails and I've been known to just let the polish chip off or shamelessly paint over it with a new colour.  When browsing iherb one day, I came across Suncoat's Nail Polish Remover Gel and I was intrigued enough to order it, fingers crossed, and give it a try!



Product Description: The first natural nail polish remover gel in the market. A one-of-a-kind product made from corn & soy, this gentle gel is earth friendly, nontoxic, non-drying to the nails. Free of petrochemicals, alcohol, acetone, and acetates. Biodegradable. Ideal for home use, great for travel.  Safe and effective. Works with all nail polishes, water-based and conventional.
Suggested Use: Squeeze a dab of gel onto each nail.  Spread around nail surface with a tissue or cotton ball.  Leave on for two minutes.  Rub off.  Wash hands with soap and water.  Repeat as necessary.

Ingredients: ethyl lactate, methyl soyate, glycerine, silica, vitamin A, biotin

Price: $9.99 from Suncoat, $6.11 from iherb, or $6.17 from Vitacost

My Opinion: Suncoat's own line of nail polishes are water-based, but since the company claims the remover will work on both water-based and conventional polishes, I decided it was worth trying, even though I don't have any water-based nail polishes.  I was also convinced after watching this video, where it seems to effortlessly remove regular, solvent-based nail polish.  I followed the same technique as in the video, but unfortunately, my results were not as positive.  I used this to remove a No Miss nail polish I had on my toes, and I had to reapply at least five or six times on each nail to get the polish off, which, all told, took over an hour of concentrated scrubbing.  It also left the skin around my toenails dyed pink (the colour of the nail polish) until my next shower.  On the bright side, it's completely non-drying to the nails, as the company claims, and, unless you stick your nose right up to it, it's odorless as well.


Trying to show the thick gel texture
The Bottom Line: The ingredients are much better than a regular acetone nail polish remover and I love the idea of the gel consistency.  It did eventually get my nail polish off, but the amount of time and effort involved just isn't something I'm willing to put in to remove my nail polish.   That said, I haven't tried it with water-based polishes, so perhaps it would work beautifully with them.  

For now, I'm still on the lookout for an effective healthier nail polish remover.  Do you have any to suggest?  I'd love to hear what you use :)


         

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