Acure Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 Ultra-Hydrating Unscented Body Lotion

I've never been someone who uses much body lotion, but I've gotten into more of a routine with it over the last couple months.  Straight out of the shower, I'll quickly apply lotion all over and it really does make a difference!  (Who knew?)  I never had problems not using lotion, but a little lotion every day or two has made my skin incredibly soft.  I'm totally hooked now!

Lately I've been using Acure's Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 Ultra-Hydrating Body Lotion, which is a fantastic all-purpose moisturizer.  It rubs in easily and absorbs quickly too, so your skin isn't left feeling tacky.  With this lotion, there's no 'drying time,' so I have no problems getting dressed immediately after using it.  I don't feel like it gives quite enough hydration for those extra dry spots, like heels and elbows, but for everywhere else, the Acure does a wonderful job.  

We don't have Acure products in Canada to "sniff test," so I played it safe with the unscented one.  It has no added ingredients for fragrance, but it does have a slight smell from the natural oils.  It's subtle and really only noticeable as you're applying the product, which is great if you're sensitive to scents or even if you're just looking for something that won't interfere with any other fragrances you may be wearing.  If unscented isn't your thing, the lotion is also available in three scents - mandarin, lemongrass and lavender.

I've been loving Acure's products recently and this one is no exception!  If you're looking for an effective and affordable body lotion with pure ingredients, I'd definitely recommend checking these out.  

Ingredients: Organic Curoxidant Blend (Organic Euterpe oleracea (Acai) Berry, Organic Rubus fruticosus (Blackberry), Organic Rosa canina (Rosehips), Organic Punica granatum (Pome- granate), Organic Calendula officinalis (Calendula), Organic Matricaria recutita (Chamomile), Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Aspalanthus linearis (Rooibos), Organic Camelia sinensis (Mango Ceylon), Organic Aloe Barbensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Organic Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate SE (vegetable derived), Vegetable Glycerin, Organic Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Infusion of Organic Calendula Officinalis Flower in Fair Trade Certified™ Organic Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Organic Argania spinosa (Argan) Oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Glucono Delta Lactone (fermented Sugar), D-Alpha Tocoperyl Acetate (Vitamin E), Marrubium vulgare (white horehound) stem cell culture, Echinacea angustifolia stem cell culture, Fermented Resveratrol Extract (Probiotic), CoQ10, Olea europea (Olive) Leaf extract, Organic Chlorella pyrenoidosa (Chlorella Growth Factor), Organic Oenothera biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil, Potassium Sorbate (food grade preservative)

Disclosure: Post Contains affiliate links.

May Makeup Basket / Current Rotation

I really enjoy these kinds of posts and videos when other people do them, so I wanted to do one of my own.  I've been pretty consistent with my makeup this month, so I figured it was as good a time as any to show you what I've been reaching for!

This is one of my favorite foundations and you can see in the photo that it's on its last legs.  I dropped it towards the end of 2012 and it shattered.  I've already bought a refill, but I'm determined to use this up before starting on that one.  I'd definitely recommend the powder, but not the compact, as it's not even close to air tight.  Even before I shattered it, the foundation tends to kick up some dust, which ends up constantly leaking out of the back of the compact.

I know I've mentioned this concealer over and over, but I still use it literally every day.  Recently I've been using it to set my UNE Skin Glow Pencil.

Homemade Pale Pink Blush   [DIY]
For blush, I've really only been wearing my homemade blushes this month, and the light pink has gotten the most use out of them all.  It's a really soft color, but I love how it looks on my fair skin and that I don't have to be worried about overdoing it.  I want to play around with pressing some more, as this color's developed a bit of a bumpy texture as I've used it.  It doesn't affect how it applies at all, but still something that could be improved on.

I'm planning to do a natural eye shadow primer comparison, but I want to wait until the weather really heats up, since that's when a lot of primers start struggling.  I guess this a sneak peek - the Faerie Organic primer is what I've been using pretty much every day.

Darling Girl Cosmetics Blitzen Eye Shadow   [Review]
Blitzen was a limited edition color from the 2011 Christmas collection.  It's a lovely, pale peach with some glitter and makes a great "barely there" color for light skin.

A gorgeous bronzey-gold color.  Mine is a sample I've repotted into a jar, but I'll definitely consider the full size when I run out.  It's great for making blue eyes pop!

A pretty shimmery cream that I've been using to highlight the inner corners of my eyes.  It's been renamed Whiteout, but the color remains the same.

Probably my favorite SweetPea & Fay color, British Accent is a beautiful shimmery navy/indigo shade.  I've been loving wearing it as a liner.

I picked this up months ago, but I hadn't used it much until recently.  These liners are creamy enough that they go on easily, but they aren't so creamy that they smudge all over the place.  Smoking Gun is described as a charcoal grey, but I'd say it's more of a cool, taupey-brown.  I've seen it compared to MAC's Moth Brown, but since I don't have the MAC, I'm not sure how accurate the comparison is.

The Diva Stix are basically natural versions of NYX jumbo pencils.  Milk is your basic matte white and a very versatile color.  The Faerie Organic primer is also white, so I don't tend to use this much as a base, but I like it a lot as a brow highlight.  I wear mostly shimmery shadows, so the matte highlight makes a nice contrast.

I originally bought this to use on my waterline, but I've been loving it as an all-over concealer too.  The only downside is the size of the pencil - it's pretty tiny.  I feel like I'm going through it quickly, but then it's relatively inexpensive, so I'm not too upset.

Have you tried any of these?  What have you been reaching for this month?

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links to iherb.  Get $5/$10 off your first purchase with coupon code ITI429.


Revisiting Acure's Moroccan Argan + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner

Have you ever used a product and deemed it just okay, only to be completely wowed by it later on?  That's pretty much how my experience with Acure's Moroccan Argan + Argan Stem Cell shampoo and conditioner has gone.  When I first reviewed these, although I liked them, I found them too heavily moisturizing to use as my regular shampoo and conditioner, but after about six months of use, I've come full circle and have come to love them as just that.  They're the main shampoo and conditioner I've been using for the last several months, so I figure I'm past due for an updated review.

Yes, they're supremely hydrating, but once I worked out the right balance for my curly, frizz-prone hair, it's not too much.  I use roughly a loonie-sized amount of shampoo (that's about one and a half quarters for you non-Canucks) but only a dime-sized amount of conditioner. I generally use more conditioner than shampoo, which I think is why it took me so long to puzzle this ratio out, but these amounts definitely works best here.  This way, the shampoo and conditioner help define my curls and minimize frizz but they don't weigh my hair down or leave it feeling heavy or greasy.  The result: soft hair and bouncy, shiny curls.  I like to use a more clarifying shampoo every 2-3 weeks, just to make sure I'm getting rid of any product build up, but Acure is what I reach for on an everyday basis.   I've even come to really like the almond smell, which initially wasn't a favorite.  

If you've got dry, wavy, curly, or frizzy hair, Acure's Moroccan Argan + Argan Stem Cell products are for you!  And if not, Acure also makes two other shampoos/conditioners for different hair types.  I'm curious how the other varieties compare, but since these have been working so well, I'm sticking with them for now.  In fact, I just bought my second bottles, which goes to show how much I like them!

Have you tried Acure's shampoos and conditioners?

Where to Buy: $9.49 from Vitacost, $8.62 from iherb, $9.99 from Acure

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.

Badger Moroccan Mint Face & Body Soap

Reading more about the palm oil industry has left me wanting to switch away from products containing this ingredient, or at a minimum, to use only ones that contain palm oil that is sustainably sourced.  First on the list to change: bar soap.

I like to use bar soap both as hand soap and to wash my face.  I know a lot of people are concerned about using bar soap on their face, but it's what I've used for the last several years without issue.  Sure, it's not super luxe, but it gets the job done and it's incredibly affordable to boot!  I was excited to stumble across Badger's bar soaps, since before that, I didn't realize the company even made soap.  The line is made up of six kinds: three body, one baby, and two face and body.  The soaps are made with mainly organic ingredients, and although they do contain palm oil, it is sustainably sourced.  

I suspect most of the line could be used on your face, but I wanted to try one of the designated face and body bars.  I chose Moroccan Mint, which contains kaolin clay and mint and citrus essential oils to help control oil production, and is recommended for normal to slightly oily skin.  Mint is usually a pretty safe scent for me and this one is no exception.  It smells mostly like spearmint - kind of toothpastey - but it's not an overpowering scent.  I haven't noticed any difference in terms of oil production, but then I don't have very oily skin to begin with.

At night, I do an oil cleanse first to make sure all my makeup is removed, and then I use the soap, and in the morning, I just cleanse with the bar.  It easily creates a rich, creamy lather and leaves my face feeling cleansed but not stripped.  After the first couple days I did notice a couple small pimples on my forehead and I almost gave up on the soap entirely, before remembering that kaolin clay is known for drawing out toxins and impurities.  My skin has since cleared up and looks better than ever, so I think this was just a brief adjustment period.

The bar soaps are pretty unsung compared to Badger's balms and sunscreens, but they're equally great.  If you're looking for soap, either for your face, hands, or body, they're definitely worth checking out.  I kind of want to try all the other scents now! 

Where to Buy: $5.59 from Vitacost$5.84 from iherb$6.49 from Badger

Ingredients: Saponified oils of *cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil, *elaeis guineensis (palm) fruit oil, *elaeis guineensis (palm) kernel oil, *ricinus communis (castor) oil, *cera alba (beeswax), kaolinite (white clay), *butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, and essential oils of *mentha viridis (spearmint), *citrus aurantium dulcis (sweet orange) and *mentha piperita (peppermint).  * = Certified Organic

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links.

DIY Pressed Blush

Even more exciting than my experiments with pressing eye shadow are the two blush palettes I recently made.  These were the main reason I ordered from TKB Trading and I'm so excited about them!  I've only started getting more into blush over the last few months and in this case, I really prefer pressed over loose.  I'm quite fair and I find pressed easier to apply and less prone to over-application or streaking.    

There are, of course, companies that sell healthy pressed blushes, but needless to say, I was still inspired to make my own.  Unlike the shadows, these are colors I mixed up myself, which makes the end result that much more satisfying.

To make these, I used approximately a 2:1 ratio of pigment to base.  The base improves adhesion and slip and also helps prevent streaky colors.  Keep in mind that the base ingredients will lighten your colors, as well as determine how pigmented the final product will be, but you can control this by playing with the ratio of base to pigment, depending on your desired result.  For my base, I used TKB's Matte Texture Base for Eyes, which is a combination of titanium dioxide, mica, and magnesium stearate.  I like my blushes to have a sheen, but nothing too overpowering or shimmery, so I was hoping the Matte Texture Base would help tone down the shimmer without making them completely matte.  I also added a small amount of kaolin clay, which helps with wear and oil control, and I'm quite happy with how the combination turned out.

Once you've mixed up your dry ingredients, the process is identical to pressing eye shadows.  I used 36mm pans and about 6 drops of fractionated coconut oil per blush.  Then I added 99% rubbing alcohol until I got my desired texture.  You'll be able to see in the above photos that many of the edges of the pans don't look perfect.  I find it easier to press with a crumbly, wet sand texture, as opposed to anything wetter, but it does make it more difficult to get a perfectly smooth edge on your pans.

The Colours

Dusky Pink
This was the first one I made and it's literally just TKB's Be My Valentine mica (plus the base ingredients.)  Be My Valentine is a super pretty, dusky, rosey pink with gold shimmer.

Pale Pink
Again, not my most creative colour, but one of my favorites nonetheless.  For color, I used only Apple Blossom mica, which is a soft pink with a low sheen.  It looks incredibly pale both in the pan and swatched, but on my fair skin, it gives a lovely, natural flush.  For me, it's definitely not one of those blushes that are so pale as to be invisible, but I'm not sure how it would fare on darker skin tones.  

Orange/Terracotta #1
Peach and coral blushes are usually my favorites, but I guess I didn't buy the right micas for those, as all I can seem to come up with are these orangey/terracotta shades.  Still pretty, don't get me wrong, just not exactly what I was aiming for.  This one was made with a combination of Bolera and Cloisonne Red micas.

Bronze/Gold Highlight
I wanted to make a highlighter shade, but again, I don't think I picked up the ideal micas for what I was going for.  Even sheered out, this is a little too dark for a highlight on my fair skin, though it does makes a pretty eye shadow.  I used a combination of Apricot and Bronze Fine micas.

Bright Pink
I don't think any blush palette is complete without a bright pink and this one certainly delivers.  I used Cloisonne Red mica combined with a sample of Shiro Cosmetics' Because We Can eye shadow.  The result is a hot pink with a small amount of silver shimmer.  This is one of the more pigmented blushes I made and it's one I make sure to apply with a lighter hand!

Pale Violet
I love pink lip colors that have just a hint of purple, and I was going for the same thing with this blush.  I used Pink - Red/Blue mica, which is a pink with a blue/purple duochromey glow, and toned it down a little with some Apple Blossom mica.  The result is gorgeous, if I do say so myself.  At first it looks like your average light pink, but when the light catches it, it gives off the prettiest violet glow.  

In trying to make a well-rounded array of blushes, it seemed only natural to make a red-toned shade.  I used Cloisonne Red combined with a sample of Detrivore Cosmetics' Hemoglobin eye shadow.  I love how this turned out, though I haven't quite worked up the nerve to wear it on my cheeks yet.

Orange/Terracotta #2
For my second attempt at making a coral shade, I went about things differently, but still ended up with a pretty similar color.  I used a very small amount of Bolera mica with a sample of Shiro's Mew eye shadow and a smidge of Concrete Minerals' Napalm eye shadow.  I like this one more than the first try - it's a little more orange and a little less pink - but they end up looking pretty similar on the cheeks.  

And that's all the pressing I've done so far!  Overall, both were a success, but I definitely reach for the blushes a lot more than the eye shadows.  They're pigmented, but not overly so and they blend nicely without any streaking.  I do find some colors have better longevity than others, but all of them last pretty much the whole day.  

I still want to make a highlighter that's more suited to my light skin and that illusive peach blush, as well as maybe a bronzer shade or two, so I wouldn't say my pressing experiments are over just yet.  Perhaps halted though, since I think I'll need to pick up some different ingredients before attempting those.

If it wasn't obvious already, I'm on a bit of a blush kick, so I have to ask - what are your favorite blushes?  All the better if they're pressed, but I'm open to any and all suggestions!

DIY Experiments in Pressing Eye Shadow

A few weeks ago I set out to try my hand at pressing eye shadows.  Using loose shadows isn't a problem for me, but there are definitely times when having a compact palette of pressed shadows is much more convenient.  Plus, there's something really aesthetically pleasing about looking at the colors all together in a palette.  

The Basics
Pressing eye shadow is awesome because you only need three ingredients: loose shadow, fractionated coconut oil, and rubbing alcohol.  Fractionated coconut oil is coconut oil that's been expeller pressed and refined.  It's food grade, but it has a longer shelf life than unrefined coconut oil and it stays liquid, even in colder temperatures.  You could definitely use another oil, but FCO is great since, with its indefinite shelf life, you don't need to worry about it going rancid.  I used 99% isopropyl alcohol to press these, but anything over 70% should be fine.  You don't want to introduce too much water into your shadow, so I wouldn't recommend going below 70%. 

I bought most of my supplies from TKB Trading, though the alcohol is from the drugstore and the loose shadows I already had in my stash.  In the two palettes I made - one neutral and one with brighter, more fun colors - most of the shades are colors I created by combining multiple shadows, but I didn't make any completely from scratch.

Since a lot of the shadows I was working with were samples, I used small, 15mm pans.  They're roughly the size of a dime, so pretty tiny, though you'll still need a good amount of shadow to fill them - between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoon.  The amount varies because shadows from different companies will have different ratios of pigment to base ingredients, which makes them compact differently.  In loose shadow terms, a 3-gram jar holds roughly 1/4 tsp, and a 5-gram, 3/4 tsp, so you'll need, at minimum, the equivalent of a 3-gram jar.

Getting Creative
I think the best part of the whole endeavor was taking colors from my collection that I don't use much and turning them into new favorites.  For example, I mixed Noella Beauty Works Milk & Honey, which I find a little too yellow and Silk Naturals Cloudberry, which I've always wanted to have a little more pizzazz and created a warmer, more metallic peach shade.  Neither of these shadows were big hits on their own, but I really like how they turned out blended together!

Does Pressing Change Colors?
When I first started talking about pressing shadows, a couple people asked me if it altered the colors, but I haven't found that to be true.  I didn't have loose leftovers from all the colors, but I've compared those I had, and while the pressed ones are perhaps slightly darker, I don't think it's enough of a difference to be noticeable on the eye.  The pressed also adhere a little better without a primer, as you can see in the below photo (all swatched over bare skin.)  The top row is the shadows after being pressed and the bottom is in their original, loose form.

(L to R) The Starshine Company Sea Foam, Madd Style Cosmetics Hold Fast, Cheeky Cosmetics Sun Goddess, Shiro Cosmetics Master Sword, Shiro Cosmetics Vileplume

The Bottom Line
I'm really happy with how this experiment turned out!  The whole process was a lot easier than I expected and the shadows are smooth and creamy with awesome color payoff.  They do tend to kick up a bit more powder than your regular, silicone-filled pressed eye shadows, but I've found the same thing to be true of natural pressed eye shadows I've bought. 

I'd originally hoped to include some kind of photo tutorial of the process with this, but I didn't manage to get it together in time and I didn't want to delay the post any longer.  Let me know if you'd be interested in seeing a more in-depth tutorial in the future.  In the meantime, Oxana124 has a video on pressing with fractionated coconut oil that you can check out.  I followed the same process, but I used much less oil - only 2-3 drops per shadow, compared to the 12-14 she uses in the video.  

Mixing colors was fun and I have this compulsion to press all my shadows now!  I love looking at the finished palettes, but aside from that and the obvious ease for travel, in a lot of ways I prefer using loose shadows.  What do you think of pressed vs. loose shadows?  Have you ever tried pressing your own?  

Favorite Spring/Summer Lip Colors

I've seen a bunch of these posts pop up on different blogs over the last few weeks, and I figured I'd join in and share my top lip picks for spring and summer.  In the warmer months, I'm more drawn to brighter lip colors, but at the same time, I prefer lighter products that are a little bit sheer.  I've narrowed it down to these six favorites.

(L to R) Silk Naturals Crazy Love Vegan Lipstick, Silk Naturals Twirl Kissable Cream Lip Gloss, LUVU Beauty Peppy Lip Gloss, Revolution Organics Freedom Lip Gloss, My Beauty Addiction Party Girl Pretty Lil' Puckers Lip Gloss, Osmia Organics Lip Luster
Silk Naturals Organic Vegan Lipstick in Crazy Love
Shrieking Violet is one of Silk Naturals' more popular lip glosses and Crazy Love is what they came up with when a lot of people, myself included, requested a more opaque, lipstick version of that gloss.  It's perfect for when you want a bright, stand-out pink lip, but it also has a slight bit of purple/berry to it as well, which I find makes it a lot more wearable than a straight up hot pink.  

Silk Naturals Kissable Cream Lip Gloss in Twirl   [Review]
I was reminded shortly after I'd taken these photos that Silk Naturals has discontinued their Kissable Cream glosses, so this one is, unfortunately, not available anymore.  These were a lovely formula, but hopefully Silk Naturals will release a similar color in one of their other lines as Twirl really is the perfect milky coral.  

LUVU Beauty Lip Gloss in Peppy 
LUVU Beauty's lip glosses are one of my favorite products from the brand, and Peppy really is the perfect color for spring.  It's a bright coral/poppy color with a small amount of shimmer, though the shimmer is not very noticeable on the lips.  LUVU's glosses are scented with tangerine essential oil, so they smell delicious.  They're also on the thicker side, which means they last really well on your lips too.

Revolution Organics Freedom Lip Gloss in Freedom
Revolution Organics' glosses are super hydrating and feel incredible on the lips.  Freedom is perfect if, like me, you're a little shy of wearing full-on red lips.  It's a gorgeous classic red, but it's sheer and has a bit of pink to it too.  

My Beauty Addiction Pretty Lil' Puckers Lip Gloss in Party Girl   [Review]
The Pretty Lil' Puckers glosses are super shiny and Party Girl is a great bright, mauvey-pink.  My only complaint with these glosses is that, as you can see in the swatch of Party Girl, they've started to separate.  I love the squeeze tube, but I may end up just dumping it into a pot so I can stir it back together!

Osmia Organics Lip Luster   [Review]
In the swatch, this looks darker than Freedom, but on your lips, it's a lot more subtle.  The formula is intensely hydrating and melts into your lips, leaving you with just a slight, hint of color.  

Do any of these catch your eye?  What are your favorite lip products for spring and summer?

Osmia Organics Active Gel Nutrient Serum

Makeup has been a favorite of mine for quite some time, but it's only in the last six months or so that I've become more interested in skincare.  It's amazing how much of a difference a slightly more involved routine can make!  A couple months ago, I won an Osmia Organics lip gloss in a Facebook giveaway and Sarah, Osmia's owner/formulator, kindly included a sample of the Active Gel Nutrient Serum as well. 

"This gentle face serum provides an extra layer of soothing moisture, with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to help maintain intracellular water in the skin cells.  White tea and aloe comfort the skin, and rice protein acts to smooth and support the collagen structure of the skin.  This gel serum is meant to be used as a middle layer, between washing and applying a moisturizer or an oil serum.  Think of it as a multivitamin for your face."

Osmia recommends applying the serum to moist skin, so after cleansing, I mist my face with George's Aloe and make sure to rub the serum in while my skin is damp.  It absorbs quickly and unlike a lot of other gel serums, it leaves no film or tacky feeling on your skin.  I prefer my morning skincare to be quick and with fewer steps, so I usually only use the serum at night, but it does work well under makeup too, should you want to use it during the day.

The first night I used it, I did a double take over how much more plumped and firm my skin felt only a few minutes after application.  At 25, I think I still have fairly young skin, but I can't remember my skin ever feeling as firm, plump, and lifted as it's become since I started using this product.  In the beginning, this feeling would last until the morning and then my skin would seem back to normal, but once I hit about the 3 week mark, I noticed that my skin seemed to be retaining the extra moisture better and feels this way all day long.

The serum is also fantastic for fine lines.  Some of you may recall my struggle with the two small lines between my eyebrows, and Osmia's serum has made a real difference with them.  I've tried a few different products in the hopes of targeting this area, and this is the first one that's given real, visible results.  I know hyaluronic acid can sometimes reduce the appearance of lines just by plumping the surrounding area, but I think it goes beyond that, as the lines definitely seem shallower and less pronounced, even up to 24 hours after using the serum.  Makeup also sits better on this area and I've had less problems with it settling into the lines throughout the day.  

I've been using the sample once a day for about a month and I've still got a little left.  A full size retails for $55, and considering how potent the serum is and how far the sample alone has gone, it's something I do think I'll be purchasing in the future.  I'm so impressed with the results I've gotten from this product!  Osmia's Active Gel Nutrient Serum is a light serum that's equal parts gentle and effective, and I think it would suit a lot of different skin types.  

Ingredients: aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, glycerin*, camellia sinensis (white tea) extract*, calendula officinalis extract*, hydrolyzed rice protein, oat beta glucan, leuconostoc/arundinaria gigantea ferment filtrate, niacinamide (vitamin B3), sclerotium rolfsii gum, hydrolyzed oats, hyaluronic acid, proprietary blend of essential oils*.  
[*certified organic ingredient]