31 January 2013

My Top 3 Uses for Coconut Oil + Tropical Traditions Giveaway (Closed)

Read any green beauty (or food) blog these days and you'll find glowing recommendations and about a million and one uses for coconut oil.  I've been buying coconut oil at local health food stores for the last several years, but I was recently sent Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil to try out, which spurred me on to play around with this lovely oil even more!  I thought I'd take this time to share my three favourite uses.  Plus, keep reading for a chance to win Tropical Traditions coconut oil for yourself! 

#1: In DIY Beauty Recipes
As most of you probably already know, I love making my own healthy beauty products and coconut oil is probably one of the ingredients I reach for most often.  It makes up the base of my cream deodorant and I also recently used it to make the most delicious body scrub ever.  In addition to the hydration and other skin benefits it provides, unrefined coconut oil gives your recipe the most delightful real coconut scent.  So much better than any synthetic fragrance, it you ask me!

#2: In Cooking
Coconut oil is also a staple in my kitchen, where I use it a lot in baking, instead of butter.  It's my favourite oil to bake with, as it makes a lighter pastry than other vegetable oils.  Coconut oil works equally well for savoury cooking, but you do need to factor in the taste more than with less flavourful oils.  Refined coconut oil, which has no coconut taste, is another option, but after being refined, it doesn't offer nearly as many health benefits as virgin coconut oil.  (Tropical Traditions talks more about the difference between refined/unrefined coconut oil here)

#3: By Itself, as a Beauty Multi-tasker
Even if you don't want to take the time mixing up a recipe, there are still plenty of reasons to keep coconut oil in your beauty cupboard.  It removes makeup with very little effort and makes a great moisturizer too.  I've used it on my lips, body, and even my face!  Coconut oil is solid at room temperature but it melts on contact with your skin, making it both lovely to apply and a lot easier to work with than many liquid oils.  Finally, if you're looking for a deep conditioner for your hair, coconut oil can work for that too!  I like to use it just on the ends of my hair, as it can be a bit difficult to wash out if you saturate your entire head. 

Giveaway

Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil - 32 oz. 
Win 1 quart of Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!

Tropical Traditions is America’s source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil


Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.


To enter the giveaway, you must  subscribe to Tropical Traditions' newsletter, but all other entries are optional.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.  This post contains affiliate links.  If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you. 



         

28 January 2013

Balm Balm Multi-Purpose Lip Balm


 I've been slightly obsessive about applying and reapplying lip balm this winter, but in my defense, it was -15°C and colder pretty much all last week.  Temperatures like that can really take a toll on your lips!  One of the products I was test-driving during this cold spell was Balm Balm's Multi-Purpose Lip Balm.  Balm Balm is a UK skincare company whose products contain only organic ingredients and are especially recommended for sensitive skin.  As I mentioned in my Winter Skincare Routine, this lip balm has been on my lips a lot lately, and in the week since posting that, I've also discovered another use for this lovely product!

Product Description
Shea butter, sunflower, beeswax, jojoba & calendula, gently melted together to create a soft balm formulation to soothe, moisturise and nourish your lips or anywhere else that might need caring for.




Ingredients
Butyrospermum parkii* (shea butter), helianthus annuus* (sunflower oil), cera alba* (beeswax), calendula officinalis* (calendula oil), simmondsia chinensis* (jojoba oil)
*Organic

Price
£4.50 for 10 ounces

My Thoughts
This has become one of my favorite lip balms to use when I'm just hanging around the house.  It's a soft balm that, on contact, melts into a more liquid texture.  With a clean finger, I'll apply a small bead-sized amount and within a couple minutes, it will have almost completely soaked into my lips.  If you're looking for something that will hydrate your lips but not leave them feeling coated or waxy, this is the product for you!  It also works great as a base for lip colours, since it moisturizes but doesn't leave any kind of barrier that might prevent the colour from sticking to your lips.  I will say, with the extreme cold temperatures lately, I'll usually opt for something a little waxier and more longwearing before heading outside, but indoors, this is what I've been reaching for.

As for the multi-purpose part, I also used this on my face the other night, with great results.  For whatever reason (probably the cold!), my skin was feeling stripped, sensitive, and a tad stingy, so when I reached for this for my lips, I decided to try slathering it on the rest of my face too!  It didn't soak in as quickly on my face as it does on my lips, but my skin didn't feel greasy either.  This was right before bed, on top of my regular nighttime routine, and I woke up to incredible, babysoft skin!  It's a small tube if you do end up using it on more than just your lips, but I noticed that Balm Balm's Face Balm has identical ingredients, so I'm wondering if it's the same product, just in a larger size?  (If you've tried both or have any idea about this, please let me know in the comments!)

The Score
10/10

The Bottom Line
This is a product I can definitely see myself repurchasing!  It's super gentle and fantastic on the lips AND face.  I chose the fragrance free version, but if that's not your jam, it's also available in rose geranium and tea tree scents.


        

25 January 2013

Honeybee Gardens Lipgloss in Innocence

I've raved about Honeybee Gardens' foundation and lipsticks many times before, so I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm reviewing another one of their products! 




Product Description
Enriched with Vitamin E , cocoa butter, olive oil and shea butter, our new paraben-free lip gloss is super-moisturizing. It provides long-lasting shine without the stickiness of conventional lip glosses. Available in five luscious lip-smacking flavors and great neutral shades to enhance any skin tone.

Ingredients
Ricinus communis (castor oil) seed oil, sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, tocopheryl acetate, beeswax, copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax, tocopherol (vitamin e), origanum vulgare (oregano) leaf extract, thymus vulgaris (thyme) extract, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon) bark extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, hydrastis canadensis (golden seal) root extract, natural flavor. May contain: iron oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), titanium dioxide (CI 77891), carmine (CI 75470), mica (CI 77019), silica, manganese violet.

Price
$9.99 from Honeybee Gardens, $7.49 from iherb and $7.39 from Vitacost.

My Thoughts
Innocence is described as "pale neutral pink, slightly peach."  It's a gorgeous peachy-pink with gold sparkles - kind of in the Nars Orgasm family.  As lip glosses go, it's not the shiniest, but it's quite pigmented.  It works over a lipstick, but it's opaque enough that you really don't need to wear one

The gloss is available in five colours and each one has it's own individual flavour that corresponds, at least somewhat, to its colour.  Innocence is watermelon flavoured and it really does smell like watermelon candy.  I find the smell tends to hang around on the lips, and it can become a bit overly sweet and cloying after a while.   

In terms of wear, I'd say Honeybee Gardens' gloss is above average.  It's thick and creamy and as a result, is pretty long lasting.  I can get a good 4-5 hours wear before I need to touch up.



 

The Score 
7/10 (I'm subtracting 3 points for the scent)

The Bottom Line
I love everything else about this gloss, so it's super disappointing that I don't love how it smells!  Like everything else I've tried from Honeybee Gardens, it's great quality at an affordable price point.  If you tend to like fruity glosses or at least aren't bothered by them, I'd definitely recommend giving this gloss a try.  On the other hand, if fruity glosses aren't your thing, you'll probably want to steer clear. 



        

22 January 2013

Winter Skincare Routine

I try to keep my skincare routine pretty simple year round.  Usually it's just soap and moisturizer morning and night, plus the occasional scrub and mask.  This winter, however, I've felt like my skin's needed something more, so I ended up jazzing things up a bit.  I figured I'd share what I've been using lately.



Cleanser: Young Living Valor Bar Soap
I've written about this soap multiple times before, and this step hasn't changed.  I've used this loyally for the last couple years and it's a great basic, no frills cleanser that isn't too drying.  It also removes makeup well and doesn't leave any kind of film on your skin like a lot of bar soaps do.






Toner: Humphrey's Witch Hazel + Essential Oils
Originally I found witch hazel too drying to use all over, so I was using it irregularly and only on specific parts of my face.  When my skin started acting up around the holidays, this is what I reached for first.  I wasn't quite breaking out - it was more like congested pores - but they disappeared completely within the first couple days of using this.  I use straight witch hazel, but I do mix in essential oils to cover up the witch hazel smell, which I'm really not a fan of on its own.




Toner #2: George's Always Active Aloe Spray Mister
When I first reviewed this, I was just using it as a makeup setting spray.  With switching things around, I began using it more often as a toner, and I really like it!  I tone with witch hazel on a cotton pad and then I mist my face with 3-4 sprays of this.  It's refreshing and gives a little boost of extra hydration underneath my moisturizer.








Moisturizer: Young Living Sandalwood Moisture Cream
As I've said before, although this isn't my favourite moisturizer from Young Living, it's less expensive and you get twice the amount of product, so I do rotate between the two.  It's still a great basic moisturizer, I just don't get that "best moisturizer ever" feeling that I do from the Boswellia Wrinkle Cream.  





Facial Oil: Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil
I don't find my skin needs the extra moisture of an oil all over, but I do like to use one on more specific "problem areas."  I also only do this step at night.  I've been struggling to get rid of a couple fine lines on my forehead (frown lines?) and some redness and broken capillaries on the sides of my nose and I'm hoping this will help with both.  I know technically you can't fix broken capillaries with anything topical, but I do notice they're a lot less visible in the morning, if I apply this the night before.  It's still a bit early to tell if it's helping with the lines, but I'm hopeful!



Lip Balm: Balm Balm Unscented Multipurpose Lip Balm/Badger Creamy Cocoa Cocoa Butter Lip Balm
Both of these lip balms are pretty recent purchases, but they're what's been on my lips most often lately.  The Balm Balm is more salve-like and soaks into your lips quickly, leaving them hydrated but almost dry to the touch, while the Badger is creamier.  It smells divine and moisturizes while leaving your lips feeling coated and protected.  The Balm Balm makes a great lip treatment, but the Badger is what I reach for before braving the cold outside! 




Scrub: Nourish Exfoliating Body Polish
I've been exfoliating with Nourish's Body Polish one or two times a week.  I like it and it's definitely gentle enough for the face, but at some point I'd like to find something better.  I recently tested out a sample of Pai's Kukui & Jojoba Exfoliator, which left my skin feeling incredibly smooth, but I'm not sure I loved it enough to purchase the full size.  I'm definitely interested in trying more scrubs with jojoba beads in them though!





Mask: Homemade Clay & Honey
I posted the recipe a while back and it's still what I usually mix up when I'm in the mood for a face mask.  Honestly, this isn't something I do very regularly - probably once a month or so.






This is a lot more steps than my previous skincare routine, but it doesn't actually take very long.  Now I'm wondering...do you change up your skincare in the winter?  Are there any scrubs you love?  I'm also looking for an eye cream - particularly something that will help with dark circlesIf you have any recommendations, I'd love to hear them!



        

20 January 2013

Tag: Makeup Highlights of 2012

I already posted my favourite eye shadows and lip products of 2012, but I was tagged by Brianna (iluvjesse444) to do the Makeup Highlights of 2012 tag and I figured, why not?  There are 12 questions, but it's orginally a Youtube tag, so a couple of them don't really apply to a non-Youtuber like me.  

Let's jump right into it! 

1. Which makeup brand stood out to you most in 2012? (Drugstore and High End)
I don't buy much drugstore makeup, but if I had to pick a brand, it would be Yes to Carrots.  The ingredients across their line aren't completely clean, but they have several products with good ingredients.  I tried their Color Balms in 2012 and I really like them!  Unfortunately, Yes to Carrots is no longer cruelty free, so I can't even wholeheartedly recommend these anymore.
For high end, I'm going to go with Revolution Organics.  I've had one of their lip glosses for probably a couple years now, but I really came to love it just this year.  I also picked up another shade of the gloss and tried their Bronzed Beauty Balm towards the end of the year. 


2. Best new discovery of 2012?

I tried Vapour Beauty's Elixir Gloss towards the end of the year and it's been a huge hit!  This is the first product I've tried from Vapour, but I'm definitely eager to try more.

3. Best re-discovery -- A product that you fall in love with over and over again?
I'm going to go with the same thing as Brianna here and pick Zuzu Luxe's mascara.  I tried a couple other mascaras in 2012, but I always end up going back to my Zuzu Luxe in Onyx. 

4. Best seasonal product 2012? Winter / Spring / Summer / Fall
I don't change up my makeup very much seasonally, but I did enjoy wearing darker/bolder lips in the fall.  Some particular favourites were Silk Natural's Vegan Kisser Slicker in Figment and Revolution Organics' Lip Gloss in Freedom.  (Both of these made it into my Top Lip Products of 2012 too)


5. Best and worst limited edition collections of 2012? (Drugstore and High End)

I don't find myself following many limited edition collections.  I got a couple nice eye shadows from Madd Style Cosmetics' St. Patrick's Day collection, but that's about all I can think of!


6. Most regretted purchase of 2012?

It isn't really makeup, but I'm going to go with Suncoat's Nail Polish Remover Gel.  I did get some suggestions on my review, which I haven't had a chance to try out yet, but as of now, I haven't been able to make it work for me.

7. Youtube and beauty highlights 2012?


 What stood out for me was finding more green/natural Youtubers.  In addition to Brianna (iluvjesse444), who I've watched for a while, I'm excited that bloggers whose blogs I've read for a long time, like Hayley (The Flaxen Owl) and Mary (Pure Makeup), started making videos this year. 

8. What is your favorite / best video on your own channel?

I don't make videos!

9. Best recommendation of 2012 from someone else?
 Honeybee Gardens Pressed Mineral Foundation.  I won it in a giveaway from Britanie (Beauty By Britanie) and it's become one of my favourite foundations.  I've hit pan on it and just ordered a refill so I'd have a backup!

10. Best makeup tool 2012?

 The Sigma F80 Flat Top Kabuki.  I usually use it for mineral foundation, since that's what I wear most often, but it works equally well with liquid foundations too.

11. What are the products you are excited to try in 2013?
 2013 is looking like it'll be more about saving up for fewer, more expensive purchases, since what I've been drawn to lately has been products from more high end brands like RMS, Pure+Simple, Afterglow Cosmetics, and Vapour Beauty.

12. Will you do a Makeup Collection in 2013, or an updated version?
Possibly?  I just reorganized all my makeup and skincare/haircare stuff, so I could probably be convinced.  But, I'm not sure a blog post is the best way to show a collection, and I don't know how I feel about trying to make a video....




I hope you liked the tag!  I'm never sure who likes/doesn't like being tagged in these things - not to mention that a lot of people have already done this one - so I'm only going to tag a couple people:
Nicole of EcoChicBeautyDiva
Malin of BilboBlueEyes 
Of course, anyone else is more than welcome to do it too!  


        

17 January 2013

Yarok Feed Your Roots Mousse

Usually I can't be bothered with heat styling my hair, so I end up air drying it most days.  Luckily my hair isn't too fussy, so the only thing I have to worry about is controlling frizz.  Argan oil does a good job on the ends, but I'm reluctant to bring it up too high, since it can make my hair feel dirty faster.  This led me to Yarok Feed Your Roots, which I first learned about from The Glamorganic Goddess.  I've been wanting to try it ever since her review, but for whatever reason, I held off.  I recently picked up the trial/travel size and let me just say, I'm sorry I waited so long! 

Product Description
Now there’s a way to transform thin, limp, damaged or lifeless hair into voluminous, healthy hair. Feed it what it needs, wants and craves at the roots, and watch it flourish and lead a much fuller life.  Raise your hair to new heights with Yarok Feed Your Roots while you lower your carbon footprint with this 100% vegan, cruelty free, all-natural eco-luscious mousse for all hair types.  Use on wet hair before blow-drying to protect from heat styling and to create volume, or on dry hair to enhance volume and styling potential. Apply a golf-ball size amount of mousse to the palm of your hand or a comb and massage into the roots and throughout your hair. 



Ingredients
Nourishing vitamin water, organic aloe vera, organic non-GMO corn extract, vegetable glycerin, organic extract of black currant, beet root, kham Thai, blueberry, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2, B3, vitamin C, organic shea butter, organic avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, jojoba oil, vegetable castor oil, grapeseed oil, apricot oil, evening primrose oil, organic African black soap, wheat protein, extract of organic peppermint, wildcrafted yucca, wildcrafted horsetail, organic nettle, organic melissa, plant-source Kosher vegan xanthan gum/potassium sorbate, vitamin E, organic essential oils of rosemary and litsea cubeba. 

Price
$14 for 2 oz or $23 for 8 oz 

My Thoughts
Ironically, for a product called Feed Your Roots, I actually apply very little of this to my roots or scalp.  Instead, I like to use it to scrunch my curls.  While my hair is damp, I usually use 3-4 pumps on the length and maybe 1-2 near the scalp, if I feel like I need extra volume.  Feed Your Roots isn't the dense, thick aerosol foam you might expect from a hair mousse.  Instead, it comes in a foamer bottle and is about the same consistency as a foaming hand soap.  What I love about this product is how it adds definition to my curls without leaving them feeling at all crunchy or sticky.  My hair feels soft and doesn't feel coated with product.  Since it doesn't give a firm hold, my curls do fall a little by the second day, but the mousse also works to refresh them.  I'll add a couple more pumps to dry hair, re-scrunch and be good to go.

Probably my favourite thing about this mousse is the smell.  It has a nice lemon scent that reminds me of lemon cake, and the best part?  Once it's on my hair, I don't smell it at all!  Don't get me wrong, I genuinely like the scent, but I'm one of those people who absolutely can't stand hair products that leave you catching a whiff of them every time you move your head.  Even if it's a scent I originally like, inevitably I can't stand it after a couple days of constantly smelling it.  


Yarok Feed Your Roots Mousse

The Score
 9/10 (Subtracting one point for how my curls fall out by the second day) 

The Bottom Line
LOVE.  I initially purchased the smaller, 2 ounce size, and I can tell you right now, I'll definitely be buying the larger one.  (Also, can I just mention how fantastic it is that there are smaller sizes to test drive first!)  Feed Your Roots is exactly what I was looking for in a hair product - it controls frizz, defines my curls, and gives a light to medium hold without any sticky or crunchy feeling.  I'm curious about the rest of the line now and I can say with certainty that Yarok is a brand I'll be keeping my eye on!



        

Contains affiliate links

16 January 2013

Earthpaste Winners!


Since my Earthpaste Giveaway ended yesterday, I wanted to announce the three lucky winners! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Congratulations to Terra, Elena, and Gala!  I've emailed all of you, so please get back to me with your mailing addresses and I'll get your prizes sent out asap.  
If you didn't win, but are still interested in trying Earthpaste, it's available on Vitacost for only $4.59 - almost half off of the regular $7.99 price - and it's also on iherb for $5.12.

I'll be back soon with a regular post, but for now, I hope you're all having a fantastic Wednesday!


         



15 January 2013

Revolution Organics Beauty Balm in Bronzed

Being pretty pale, it's taken me a long time to fully embrace bronzer.  I love how it can sculpt the face, but finding the right color - something that's neither too dark or too orange - has been a challenge.  Revolution Organics' lip glosses are already favourites of mine and I'm happy to say, I think I've finally met my bronzer match in their Bronzed Beauty Balm!



Product Description
The ultimate beauty multi-tasker.  100% natural and created with 85% certified organic ingredients, this beauty multi-tasker delivers an instant healthy glow anytime, anywhere. The all-in-one balm infuses lips, cheeks, eyes, and d├ęcolletage with a natural, dewy radiance. Perfectly portable and ideal for on the go, the easy-to-use formula provides skincare and color in one for a hydrating hint of tint.  Free of chemicals, synthetics, and artificial ingredients, the balm contains only 100% pure, natural and organic ingredients. Formulated with cold-pressed organic olive oil and deeply moisturizing organic coconut oil, The All-Over Beauty Balm comes in three glowing shades to complement any skin tone.

Ingredients
Organic Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Organic Beeswax*, Organic Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Organic Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil**, Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*,Silica***, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil**, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil**, Ammonium Glycyrrhizate**, Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Tocopherol**, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract* MAY CONTAIN: Iron Oxides***, Mica***, Titanium Dioxide***, Carmine**.
* certified organic ** naturally-derived *** mineral


Price
$34 for 13g/.46oz

My Thoughts
I'm completely blown away by this product!  It's the first cream bronzer I've tried, and I love it.  It feels great on the skin and it blends easily, without leaving any harsh lines.  The colour is also just perfect for my light skin - it's brown, but it doesn't end up looking at all muddy.  Lightly applied, it makes the perfect natural contour and most days that's what I use it for, just blending a little under the cheekbones and around the temples.  It's sheer, but definitely buildable, so I think it would work on somewhat darker skintones as well.  It has a slight sheen, but it's nothing crazy - just enough to leave your face looking fresh and slightly dewy.  There's no actual glitter or sparkle.  Worn on it's own, I do find it disappears over the course of the day, but it's easy enough to reapply, or alternately, going over it with a powdered bronzer (or even a translucent powder) also helps it last longer.

Revolution Organics Bronzed Beauty Balm: Swatched heavily and blended out

The Score
10/10

The Bottom Line
Highly recommended!  Aside from being a fantastic bronzer, Revolution Organics' beauty balms are multi-purpose, so you can also use them on your eyes, lips, and body.  I especially like using it as an eye shadow base, since the bronze colour works well with almost any neutral look.  Pretty much the only deterrent I can think of is the price.  At $34, it's definitely more of a luxury item, but it is a great product with fantastic ingredients.  If you can swing the price, I do think it's well worth it.



        

13 January 2013

Preservatives in Natural Products

I can't tell you how many times I read ingredients lists and everything looks great, until, nearing the end of the list, I spot a preservative I'm not comfortable using.  I'm not anti-preservative - there are plenty of reasons why we need preservatives - but there are tons of different choices out there and it can be tricky to know which ones are best.  Pretty much everyone knows to steer clear of parabens, but what about all the other options?  Keep reading for information on what kinds of products need preservatives, the difference between preservatives and antioxidants, and my thoughts on five of the most common preservatives found in natural products.



When do you need a preservative?
A preservative is needed anytime there is water in a product.  This includes any ingredients that contain water, such as aloe vera, hydrosols, and fresh herbs.  Anything with water in it provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, yeast and fungus, and therefore requires one or more preservatives to prevent both fungal and bacterial growth.

Generally speaking anhydrous products (which contain no water) like balms and ointments do not require a preservative.  However, depending on the kind of product, formulators may choose to include a preservative anyways.  Something like a balm cleanser, for instance, may not contain any water in the actual product, but it might benefit from a preservative, since it's generally stored in a pot or tub and is likely to have water introduced into it as you scoop some out to cleanse with. 


Antioxidants as Preservatives
It's important to make the distinction between ingredients like Vitamin E and rosemary oil extract, which are antioxidants that reduce the rate of oxidation in oils, and preservatives which inhibit fungal and bacterial growth.  Vitamin E and rosemary oil extract are great for extending the shelf life of oils, but if a product contains water, it should contain another preservative in addition to any antioxidants.


Grapefruit Seed Extract
EWG Skin Deep Rating: 3
Also Known As: Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Citricidal
The main concern with grapefruit seed extract has always been the possibility that it can be contaminated with other chemicals, including parabens, triclosan, and benzethonium chloride.  However, even setting aside the possibility of contamination, turning grapefruit into grapefruit seed extract is a process that involves multiple steps of chemical processing, making it more of a synthetic ingredient than a natural extract.  I wouldn't say it's the worst preservative out there, but it's a lot less natural than the name would imply.

For more details, Stephanie Greenwood (of Bubble & Bee) has a great article that looks at the chemical makeup of GSE and how it is manufactured


Japanese Honeysuckle Extract 
EWG Skin Deep Rating: 0
Also Known As: Lonicera Japonica, Plantservative
The chemical structure of japanese honeysuckle extract is essentially identical to that of methylparaben and the debate over the safety of this ingredient has resulted in many people calling it a "natural paraben."  (Diagrams can be found here.)  More research is necessary, but studies have shown that japanese honeysuckle extract, when introduced into the human body, behaves much the same as parabens.  For that reason, I don't think it's too big of a leap to deduce that it carries many of the same health risks as synthetic parabens.  This is an ingredient I avoid.


Potassium Sorbate
EWG Skin Deep Rating:
Potassium sorbate is a naturally occurring compound first discovered in rowan berries, but the potassium sorbate used in cosmetics can be of natural or synthetic origin.  There are some concerns about skin and eye irritation, but your body is able to completely metabolize potassium sorbate, so I think it is generally a pretty safe option.  The downside is that while potassium sorbate is great for preventing fungal growth, it is somewhat less effective with bacteria, so another preservative might be needed, depending on the specific formulation.  It also breaks down faster than some other preservatives, so it doesn't give an indefinite shelf life.


Phenoxyethanol
EWG Skin Deep Rating: 4
Phenoxyethanol is found in so many natural products!!  According to the FDA, it is a preservative, primarily used in cosmetics and medications, that can depress the central nervous system and may cause vomiting or diarrhea.  This warning refers specifically to ingestion, so it should definitely not be present in anything used around the mouth.  There are also concerns about allergies and immunotoxicity, and phenoxyethanol is considered an irritant to the eyes, skin, and lungs.  It's also interesting to note that phenoxyethanol, along with parabens and petrochemicals, is not permitted in ECOCERT-certified products.  There is still a big data gap with regards to research on phenoxyethanol, but as of now, it is an ingredient I avoid.


Sodium Benzoate
EWG Skin Deep Rating: 1
Sodium benzoate is found in apples, cranberries, and plums, but again, this doesn't automatically mean the sodium benzoate in your cosmetics is naturally sourced.  Like potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate is more active against molds and has lower activity against bacteria.  In terms of safety, there's mixed research on sodium benzoate, with some studies linking it to cell damage and toxicity.  It's very important to make sure that sodium benzoate is not mixed with Vitamin C, since when combined, they create benzene, which is has been named as a known human carcinogen.  


Wrapping Things Up
I hope this was helpful!  Preservatives are somewhat of a "necessary evil" unless we want to throw out all our products within a couple days of them being made, but, as with anything else, there are safer and less safe options. 

I haven't done a lot of posts like this, so please let me know what you think.  Do you enjoy reading more information-based posts?



        

10 January 2013

Nourish Fresh Fig Body Wash Review

If you're new here or in case you haven't caught on yet, I've recently become a bit of a lunatic about testing out new shower gels.  It all started with a legitimate hunt to find a new one after the brand I'd been loyal to for years started irritating my skin, but even though I've already found some fantastic replacements, I'm still enjoying trying out new ones.  Fact is, even if I don't like a shower gel very much, it's something that gets used up fairly quickly, so I can still usually manage to finish it off without any ill results, which is more than I can say for a lot of other products!  Today I want to talk about a body wash from Nourish.  After loving their Body Polish, I wanted to try out more products from their line and since I was running low, I figured I might as well go for their body wash next.  After careful consideration, I decided on the Fresh Fig scent.



Product Description
You can feel truly good about your daily bath or shower when you cleanse your body with this organic hydrating blend of soothing aloe, nourishing coconut milk, antioxidant-rich Vitamin E, and a proprietary blend of moisturizing essential oils. It leaves skin smooth, soft, refreshed, and naturally scented with the enchanting fragrance of organic fig and apricot.

Ingredients
Organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice, organic cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, purified water, potassium hydroxide, organic helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, organic sesamum indicum (sesame) seed oil, organic cyamopsis tetragonoloba (guar) gum, organic fragrance, organic butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), organic cocos nucifera (coconut) milk, tocopherol (vitamin E), organic jasmine officinale (jasmine) extract, organic althea officinalis (marshmallow) root extract.

Price
10 fl. oz for $9.99 from Nourish or $8.29 from Vitacost

My Thoughts
First, let's talk about the scent.  According to Nourish, "organic fig and apricot mingle with notes of organic citrus, apple, and currant in this delightful fragrance that’s at once warm, refreshing, and utterly enchanting."  To me, it mainly smells like apricots or peaches.  But then, thinking about it now, I'm drawing a bit of a blank as to what figs actually smell like.  Either way, the smell is fresh and fairly light.  It isn't overpowering and it's only slightly noticeable on my skin after I shower.  If you wanted, you can also layer the scent with Nourish's other fig products.  

As body washes go, Nourish's is very hydrating.  It's a pearly/creamy colour that, silly as this sounds, just looks moisturizing, and it really is.  It cleans well, but my skin is not left feeling at all tight or stripped.  I will say, if you like a lot of lather, this body wash might be disappointing.  It does lather, but not to epic proportions.  For this reason, I need a bit more product than with something like Face Naturals and I find it works better to use it just in my hands, rather than on a loofah.

The Score *I've decided to start including ratings, since it gives a really clear idea of how much I like something.  Let me know what you think!*
8/10

Bottom Line
I recently included Nourish in a list of my favourite bath and body companies and this body wash is another hit from the brand!  I love how moisturizing it is and the fig scent is lovely too.  Because of how sensitive I am, I usually stick to products scented only with essential oils, so I'm excited to have found a line with other fragrances that I've been okay using.  I'm curious to try out Nourish's other scents now too!



        

5 January 2013

Maple Coconut Salt Scrub: Mini Batch Recipe

As much as I love mixing up my own DIY skincare products, sometimes the thought of actually taking the time to make something can be daunting.  Scrubs are one of the simplest things you can whip up, but even so, there are days when it seems like too big of a hassle.  Times like that, I'll often mix up enough for just one use.  Sure, it might end up being more work in the long run, but in the moment, it seems a lot easier!  You also don't have to worry about storage or how long a product will be good for.

This is a new recipe I came up with earlier today.  It makes just enough for one use and the combination of the coconut oil and the maple flavour is phenomenal.  I think it's the best smelling non-food item that's ever come out of my kitchen!  You can use this either before or after cleansing, depending on your preference.  I used it after, just quickly rinsing off the salt, because I wanted to maximize the amount of moisture my skin retained from the coconut oil and shea butter.  This also helped the scent last - I smelled so good, I was sniffing my arms all day long!

Recipe
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1/2 tbsp shea butter
2 tbsp sea salt
1/8 tsp natural maple flavor

Add coconut oil and shea butter to a small heatproof measuring cup or bowl.  Set measuring cup or bowl in a pot with 1-2 inches water in the bottom and bring to a low simmer.  Stirring constantly, heat until just melted together.  Remove from heat and add to sea salt, along with maple flavor.  Mix until all ingredients are well combined.

That's it! 

Melting the coconut oil and shea butter

The finished product.  My scrub was pink from the Himalayan sea salt I used


Tips
  • Make sure to use sea salt, which is full of minerals and is also a natural detoxifier for your skin.  Regular table salt lacks these beneficial properties and also contains iodine and chemical anti-clumping agents, which you don't want on your skin (or in your food for that matter!)
  • Alternately, you can replace the salt with any other exfoliant you like.  Opt for sugar if you prefer a gentler scrub.
  • The oil in the scrub may make your tub slippery...be careful!

The Bottom Line
Homemade scrubs are a great, affordable way to exfoliate your skin and I'll definitely be whipping this concoction up again!  It left my dry winter skin feeling smooth and hydrated, even without applying any additional moisturizer afterwards.  I'm so in love with the coconut maple scent too.  Seriously, if someone out there sold products that smelled exactly like this, that would be awesome.  I could definitely get behind a maple coconut lip balm or shower gel!
  

         
 

1 January 2013

Earthpaste Amazingly Natural Toothpaste Review & Giveaway (Closed)


Happy New Year!  I wanted to start 2013 off with something a little special and I'm super excited about this post - I've practically had to sit on my hands to hold off on putting it up until today!  I discovered Earthpaste while searching for glycerin free toothpastes.  For years, I've read about how glycerin in toothpaste can affect your teeth, but it's only in the last few months that I began actively looking at glycerin free options.  There's nothing wrong with glycerin in other body care products, but in toothpaste or mouthwash, it creates a film or coating that doesn't rinse off your teeth.  This coating is problematic because it prevents the teeth from remineralizing, thereby weakening them and leaving them more prone to decay.

Unfortunately, realizing that glycerin is not the best thing to have in toothpaste is the easy part.  Finding a toothpaste that's glycerin free can be much more difficult.  Generally it's used to help prevent toothpastes from drying out and I'd venture to say that virtually every toothpaste on the market today, both mainstream and natural, contains glycerin.  If you're open to using tooth soap or tooth powder, alternatives are more readily available, but for regular toothpaste, there are very few.  I reached out to Earthpaste and they were kind enough to send me some toothpaste to try out.  They even included some for a giveaway!  (More on that later.) 

In addition to being glycerin free, Earthpaste contains none of the other nasties commonly found in toothpaste.  It contains no sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or other foaming agents and no fluoride.  It also contains no titanium dioxide or artificial coloring to make the paste white.

Ingredients
Food-grade Redmond Clay - a polishing cleanser with antibacterial properties
Purified Water - to hydrate the clay into a creamy paste
Xylitol - a natural sweetener that has been shown to promote healthy teeth
Redmond Real Salt - to enhance flavour and lend antibacterial properties
Tea Tree Oil - supports oral health and has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties
Peppermint, Wintergreen and Cinnamon Essential Oils - add flavor and other health benefits
Menthol - leaves your breath fresh and mouth feeling clean (only in peppermint and wintergreen flavors)


Price
4 ounces for $7.99 from Earthpaste or $5.12 from iherb

My Thoughts
After my first time using Earthpaste, I was amazed at how smooth my teeth felt.  That smooth, polished feeling you get after a professional teeth cleaning?  With Earthpaste, I get that feeling every day in my own bathroom.  (How much did that just sound like an infomercial?)

Earthpaste comes in three flavours - peppermint, wintergreen, and cinnamon - and I was able to try them all.  In the beginning they all tasted really salty to me, but after just about three weeks of use, I don't notice the salty taste anymore.  I like all three flavours, but the peppermint and wintergreen are definitely my favourites.  The cinnamon has a much milder flavour and it doesn't leave my mouth feeling as cool and fresh after brushing, probably because it doesn't contain menthol like the other two. 

I will say, if you're used to more mainstream toothpastes, Earthpaste may take a little getting used to.  It doesn't foam and it isn't the bright white most of us have come to expect in a toothpaste.  Instead, it cleans your teeth without suds and looks a little like mud on your toothbrush.  It's lovely, tasty, and effective, but the colour and texture might be a little offputting at first. 

The Bottom Line
I'm not in the habit of giving ratings, but suffice it to say, if I were, Earthpaste would get a perfect 10/10.  Ingredient-wise, it's incredibly clean and exactly what I was looking for.  The tube even tells you to "rinse or swallow at your own discretion" - a far cry from your Crests and Colgates - which just goes to show how safe it is.  If that wasn't enough, in terms of performance, I think it's the best toothpaste I've ever used.  I'll definitely be purchasing the peppermint and wintergreen flavours once I run out.  I've never gotten that polished feeling at home before and my teeth have never felt cleaner.   

Giveaway
Now for the exciting part!  Earthpaste was generous enough to send me three extra sets of toothpaste to share with you, my lovely readers!  Apologies to international readers, but because of the weight and because I am shipping this myself, I'm going to have to limit the giveaway to Canada and the United States.  I promise I'll have more international giveaways in the future.

Good luck!  To enter, just fill in the Rafflecopter widget below.  You can enter as many or as few ways as you like.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


         

Disclaimer: Product provided for my honest review.  I was under no obligation to write a positive review in return for free product, nor was I compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.



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