24 July 2013

Nourish Almond Vanilla Body Wash

I've got yet another body wash to talk about, and this time, it's an old favorite.  I love Nourish's body washes and as natural liquid soaps go, they're also pretty unique.  The actual soap element is castile-based, made from organic oils and potassium hydroxide, but Nourish also incorporates shea butter, coconut milk, and other nourishing (hah!) ingredients to create a luxurious, creamy body wash that's not drying in the slightest.  They're also USDA certified organic and lather easily, either on a loofah or just your hands.

Unfortunately, certain Nourish scents seemed to have disappeared in Canada, and as I mentioned in my May empties, when I finished a bottle of the fresh fig body wash, I've been having trouble tracking down the almond vanilla.  Nourish happened upon that post and offered to send me a bottle to review.  After trying it, all I have to say is that this scent needs to make its way back to Canada ASAP.

The almond vanilla smells divine and is the perfect mix of the two fragrances.  I've heard the scent described as predominantly vanilla, but to me, the almond is definitely very present too.  I have an amazing recipe for plum torte that uses almond extract and Nourish's body wash smells exactly like the batter.  And, while the scent is noticeable, it's never overpowering.  It lingers on your skin a little throughout the day, but not enough that it would interfere with any other scents  you may choose to wear.  Nourish also has other vanilla almond products you can layer, if you want to enhance the fragrance.  It's a scent I can't imagine getting sick of, and as expected, the body wash itself is just as lovely as all the other variations I've used.

Let's summarize: smells like you're showering in cake batter, lathers easily, and is highly moisturizing.  I'm quick to recommend any of Nourish's body washes, but if you enjoy sweet, decadent, foodie scents, it's definitely worth the extra effort of tracking down the almond vanilla.  

Where to Buy: $9.99 from Nourish




Disclosure: 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.

18 July 2013

KYI Whipped Shea Butter Mask & Argan Oil Serum with Vitamin C

KYI (Know Your Ingredients) is a brand that continues to impress me.  The company makes high performance products with clean, simple ingredients that really speak to what I look for in skincare products.  I already wrote about how much I've been enjoying the company's Sweet Almond Softening Oil and now I want to talk about the brand's other two products: the Whipped Shea Butter Mask and Argan Oil Serum with Vitamin C.  Both are intended for the face but have multiple other uses too, should you feel so inclined.

Whipped Shea Butter Mask
KYI describes this mask as "spackle for your face" and recommends using it as a night mask to minimize lines and keep skin supple.  It isn't a mask in the traditional, wash-off sense, but rather a leave-on treatment intended for dry or aging skin or for those times when your skin just needs extra nourishment.  Used at night, I'll wash my face and do the rest of my skincare routine (toner, serum, eye cream), before applying the mask in place of my regular moisturizer.  It takes some time to fully sink in, but I wake up in the morning with baby soft skin that feels hydrated and healthy.  I also like using the mask in the morning if my skin is feeling sensitive or in need of an extra moisture boost.  The only difference, here, is that I'll apply the mask, wait about 30 minutes, and then blot off any excess that hasn't absorbed so I can apply makeup and go about the rest of my day.  

The mask works great both ways, and as an added bonus, it's also awesome used like any other whipped shea butter - either as an all-over body moisturizer or reserved for those extra dry spots.  I've been trying out the unscented one, but like the Sweet Almond Softening Oil, there are also three scented versions: chamomile lavender, orange mandarin, and litsea cubeba.  

Ingredients: Refined shea butter, jojoba oil.  May contain essential oils of orange, mandarin, ginger grass, litsea cubeba, chamomile and/or lavender. 


Argan Oil Serum with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a hot skincare ingredient these days, and it's for good reason.  It's a powerful antioxidant that's been shown to improve hyperpigmentation and UV-related damage, while also reducing inflammation and promoting collagen production.  Vitamin C is most commonly found in skincare as water-soluble L-ascorbic acid, which although effective, is also unstable when exposed to light, heat, and air.  The danger, aside from wasted products, is that you can't always tell when the vitamin C in a given product has started to degrade.  Oxidized L-ascorbic acid is not only ineffective, but also potentially harmful, since it can increase the formation of free radicals in the skin.  KYI's Argan Oil Serum with Vitamin C circumvents this issue by using tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, an oil-soluble form of Vitamin C that offers the same benefits, in a much more stable form.  

Combined with argan oil, which is high in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, these two ingredients create a powerhouse of a serum.  I was previously using plain argan oil on my skin, but I noticed a visible improvement when I switched to KYI's Argan Oil Serum with Vitamin C.    Within the first week, my skin looked brighter and more vibrant and after about three weeks of use, it's also noticeably plumper and more supple to the touch.  My face also drinks up the serum quicker than it ever did the straight argan oil and I'm left with no oily residue on my skin.   It's available in both unscented and orange grapefruit options and is definitely a winner all around!  

This was the product that first sparked my interest in KYI and if you only try one thing, it's what I would urge you towards.  And, lest you think this serum is a single use product, you can also use it on your body and I imagine it would be great as a hair oil too.  That said, as much as I love argan oil for my hair and body, I'm saving KYI's gorgeous serum just for my face! 

Ingredients: Argan oil, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.  May contain essential oils of orange and grapefruit.




Disclosure: Products 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.


14 July 2013

Pure + Simple Eye Brightening Cream

When I picked up the Face Colour in Taupe, the ladies at the Yorkville Pure + Simple store were nice enough to give me a sample of Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream to try out as well.  I've reworked most of my skincare routine over the last several months and I'd venture to say my skin is looking better than ever, but one thing I've yet to settle on is an eye cream or eye treatment.  I don't have fine lines or wrinkles in the eye area, but I do have dark circles and some puffiness, so those are the concerns I'm looking to target with an eye product.  My eyes are also on the sensitive side and more than one eye cream has left me with sore, swollen eyes.  Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream, which claims to revitalize the eye area while combating puffiness and dark circles," sounded like a good fit.  The cream combines natural botanicals like borage seed oil and shea butter with more active ingredients like peptides, and it also claims to nourish sensitive skin while firming and toning the surrounding area.

How did I fare with it?  First off, the cream is extremely hydrating and takes only the slightest amount to leave my entire eye area well moisturized.  In spite of this, it's in no way a heavy cream.  It absorbs well and creates a good base for any makeup you may want to put on top.  With this underneath, my concealer goes on smoother and lasts longer without creasing or becoming cakey.  It's also completely scent-free, which is great for more sensitive eyes like mine.

The Eye Brightening Cream also works really well on dark circles.  I noticed a difference in just a couple days and the results only got better as I used it for longer!  I've also used the cream to take down redness around my nose, and it was great for that too.  Unfortunately, the one area where the cream falls short, for me, is in reducing puffiness.  I haven't noticed any difference in that regard.

The Bottom Line
Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream hit 2/3 boxes for me, but because it didn't check that last one, I won't be purchasing the full size at this point.  That said, if your main eye concerns are dark circles and/or hydration, or if you're looking for a good base to apply makeup on top of, this eye cream would likely work really well for you!  It's great in those areas, and it's a super gentle formula too.  If you're looking to target puffiness, I'd recommend trying a sample before investing in the full size.

Have you used Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream?  What are your favorite eye creams/treatments?


Ingredients: Water, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol+ Glucoside (Plant emollients), Xylitylglucoside + Anhydroxylitol + Xylitol (Natural sugar derived humectants), Hydrolyzed Avena Sative (Oat) Protein, Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Algae Extract, Arachidyl (Peanut) +Behenyl (Vegetal) Alcohols, Vegetable Glycerin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Nut Butter, Borago Officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil, Hesperidin Methyl Chalcone (Citrus bioflavinoid), Phospholipids, Panthenol (Provit. B5),Phosphorus, Magnesium, Ascorbyl (Vit. C) Phosphate, Calcium Pantothenate, Magnesium Salicylate, Zinc Gluconate, P-anisic Acid (Anise derivative), Xanthan Gum,   Steareth-20-N - hydroxysuccinimide (Plant flavinoid), Dipeptide-2 (Combined amino acids), Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-3/7 (Amino acid peptide), Chrysin (Plant flavinoid), Palmitoyl Oligopeptide (Amino acid peptide), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic acid)



11 July 2013

Pure + Simple Face Colour in Taupe

Pure + Simple is a small Toronto chain of holistic spas that also manufactures their own skincare and makeup lines.  I've worked literally down the street from one of their spas for over a year now and it's taken me all that time to actually make it into the store.  When I finally did, I knew I wanted to try something from their makeup line and was leaning towards the blushes, which Nicole from EcoChicBeautyDiva has raved about many times, but by that point, I felt like I'd already rounded out my blush collection pretty well with my DIY blush experiments.  Instead, what ended up making it's way home with me was their Face Colour in Taupe, in the hopes it would end up being that ever illusive, perfectly natural-looking contour color.  


I love that it's pressed and Taupe has that perfect balance of being nicely pigmented, while also blending very easily on the face, so you aren't constantly at risk of overdoing it.  In terms of the actual color, however, I'm a little more conflicted.  In the store, I was convinced it was a cool brown, which is why I thought it would make a good contour shade for my pale, slightly cool-toned skin, but on the face, it actually ends up leaning more warm.  The base color is definitely cool-toned, but it also has a warm golden shimmer/sheen running through it.  While the shimmer isn't visible once it's on the face, it is enough to noticeably warm up the color.

Pure + Simple Face Color in Taupe, swatched heavily and blended out.
Did Taupe end up being the perfect contour shade for me?  Unfortunately not.  BUT it does make a lovely all over bronzer, even on my fair skin.  As an added bonus, the face colours are multi-use powders, intended for eyes, lips, and face, and while I've yet to try it on the lips, Taupe also makes a great mid-toned neutral eye shadow. 

So, even though it didn't work out quite as planned, I'm not sorry I picked this up.  It's always nice to support a local company and as someone who does most of her makeup shopping online, it's also refreshing to be able to do some in-person swatching for a change.  If you're looking for quality pressed makeup, without the silicones or other nasties, Pure + Simple is definitely worth a look.   My interest is certainly piqued and I fully intend to try more of the brand's products in the future.


Ingredients: Mica, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil, Zinc Stearate, Lavendula Angustifolia Flower Wax, Limnanthes Alba Seed Oil, Butyrospermium Parkii extract, Bismuth Oxychloride, Tocopheryl Acetate.  May contain: Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides.


8 July 2013

KYI Sweet Almond Softening Oil

I love simplicity in skincare and KYI, short for Know Your Ingredients, is a brand that delivers just that.  The company prides itself on making minimally processed, whole food skin products with wholesome, natural ingredients and no unnecessary additives.  I featured KYI's Argan + Vitamin C Serum in a wishlist post way back in March and when I reached out to the company, they were extremely generous and sent me their whole line to test out!  I'll be reviewing all three products over the next few weeks, but first up, I bring you the Sweet Almond Softening Oil.  


This is an unassuming body oil formulated with just sweet almond oil and essential oils.  It's available in unscented and three scents - orange mandarin, litsea cubeba, and chamomile lavender.  I was able to try the unscented, litsea cubeba and chamomile lavender, and while all three are beautiful, the chamomile lavender was the clear winner for me.  I find lavender scents to be very hit or miss, but KYI definitely hits it out of the park.  Chamomile is the predominant scent here, with a softer lavender complement.  I often shower at night and it's the perfect scent to slather yourself in right before bed.  On the other side of the spectrum, there's the litsea cubeba body oil, which has a bright, uplifting sweet, citrus scent, great for perking you up earlier in the day.  The unscented is lovely as well, whether you have extremely sensitive skin or just want an unfragranced product that won't interfere with any other scents you  may be wearing.  I've even used it to take off makeup and it works great for that too!

All three types are alike in that they are fast-absorbing, non-greasy and supremely hydrating.  The oil sinks in best when applied straight out of the shower, but even on completely dry skin, it absorbs well and doesn't leave you feeling like an oil slick.  It's also worth noting that softening really is a fitting word here.  The body oil is fantastic all over, but where it really stands out for me is on those extra dry patches.  I've been battling rough, dry feet since the winter (which sandal season has not been helping!) and KYI's oil has worked like a dream.  My feet are soft and more supple than they've been in months.  

Going along with the brand's ethos, KYI's packaging is also simple and effective.  Everything is packaged in glass, which I love, and the Softening Oil comes in a handy pump bottle, making it a breeze to dispense.  The pump also conveniently locks, should you ever want to travel with it.  

The Sweet Almond Softening Oil lives up to its name and is a great multi-purpose moisturizer that will be enjoyed by body oil newbies and afficionados alike.


Where to Buy: $20 from Know Your Ingredients 


Ingredients: Sweet Almond (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) Oil.  May contain: essential oils of lavender, chamomile, orange, mandarin, bergamot, ginger, and/or litsea cubeba.




Disclosure: 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.

5 July 2013

South of France Refreshing Lemon Mint Liquid Soap



Body wash might not be the most glamorous product, but it's one of my favorites nonetheless.  As I see it, it's a low-risk product - inexpensive and very rarely unusable - so while I have my favorites that I keep coming back to, I'm also constantly trying new ones.  My most recent find is South of France's Liquid Soap in Lemon Mint.  It's a castile-based soap - made from vegetable oils and potassium hydroxide, rather than surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate or decyl glucoside - which I prefer, and while it's technically more of a hand soap, I've been using it in the shower.  South of France does make shower gels, but across both the shower gels and the liquid soaps, this one seems to be the only one that contains only essential oils, without any synthetic fragrance.

As the name suggests, the smell is bright and refreshing - clean and lemony with just a touch of mint peeking through.  The soap lathers well, doesn't dry out my skin, and I love the convenience of the pump bottle.  It's definitely on the more liquid side - thinner and runnier than a lot of other body washes - which seems to make the bottle go down a little quicker, but at just over $5, I really can't bring myself to care too much.  

I hope South of France will come out with more essential-oil based fragrances, but in the meantime, I can see the lemon mint becoming a regular in my body wash rotation.  If you're in the market for a budget friendly body wash or hand soap, it's definitely worth checking out!

Where to Buy: $5.24 from iherb



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

2 July 2013

June Empties / Products I've Used Up

Just a few things used up this month, but it's nice to give some empties the toss nonetheless!  Here's what I finished up in June:


Organic Essentials Organic Cotton Balls
Not a whole lot to say about these, but I use them to apply my DIY witch hazel/glycerin toner.  Organic cotton balls don't tend to cost much more than the standard kind, so they're generally what I pick up.  These were jumbo sized, so I broke them in half and used a half each time, which was great since it made them last twice as long.
Repurchase? Yes.

Badger Moroccan Mint Face & Body Soap   [Review]
I used this both as a face wash and a hand soap and enjoyed it both ways.  It smelled minty and refreshing and did a great job cleansing, without drying out my skin.  
Repurchase? Yes.

Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil   [Review]
I run a few drops of this through my damp hair after every shower and I find it helps reduce any static and frizz, while slightly defining my curls.  I also used it on my face throughout the winter.  I've already picked up another bottle, but the new one is bit odd and seems to have peppermint oil in it.  It's labelled as pure argan, same as this one, but given how it smells, there's definitely something else in there.  It's unfortunate, since whatever it is covers up that lovely, nutty argan scent I'd gotten used to.  I'm still using it on my hair, but I'm not so sure about using it on my face, since I don't know what else is in there!
Repurchase? Yes, I already have.

Osmia Organics Active Gel Nutrient Serum (sample)   [Review]
I loved this serum so so much and the sample really did go a long way!  It lasted me about two months, with nearly nightly use.  I noticed a big difference in the suppleness of my skin with the serum and it also helped with the two wrinkles I struggle with on my forehead.  I have a couple other serums I'm trying out now, but I could definitely see myself returning to this in the future.
Repurchase? Yes, though not right away.

Suti Facial Cleansing Balm (sample)
On days when I wear makeup, I like to cleanse with oil before using a regular cleanser, but when I rediscovered this sample in my stash, I decided to try it in place of the oil step.  It was my first time using a balm cleanser and even though it worked well at breaking down makeup, I prefer a liquid oil, especially for removing eye makeup.  Also, while in the pot this cleanser had a lovely, bright citrus scent, on my face, it reminded me of lemon-scented cleaning products, so not the most appealing!
Repurchase? No.

Balm Balm Super Light Coconut Cleanser (sample)
This is literally just fractionated coconut oil, which you can find for a fraction of Balm Balm's price elsewhere. Beyond that, while coconut oil is effective at removing makeup, it isn't my favorite oil to use as I find it stings my eyes.
Repurchase? No.

Face Naturals Acai Berry & Lime Organic Body Cleanser   [Review]
If you'd asked me last month what my favorite body wash was, I would likely have answered with this product, but this particular bottle was a disappointment.  It worked well, but it had a thick, goopy, gelatinous consistency that just wasn't a joy to use.  The acai berry was also in clumps, as opposed to evenly incorporated as it usually is.  I did store this for a couple months after buying it, but I don't see how that would change the product.  I'm thinking I just got a dud bottle this time around.  
Repurchase? Maybe.

And that's all for June - some hits, some misses, and a couple oddities too!  What have you used up recently?  


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