29 Days of Blogging

This past week aside, you may have noticed a lot more posts than usual this last month.  I didn't announce it publicly - mostly because I wasn't sure I could do it - but late in November, I challenged myself to blog everyday for 30 days.  As the title suggests, I only ended up making it to day 29.  The final post would have fallen on Christmas Eve, but because of picking up a last minute holiday retail job and a couple other factors, I ended up deciding to call it quits a day early.  Even one day short, I'd still consider it a success.  I've never blogged so frequently, and I learned a good few things about this blogging thing we do.  

Actually posting everyday is hard.

Life stuff gets in the way.  The internet doesn't always work perfectly.  Photos sometimes don't come out how you want them to.  Usually setbacks like this will make me delay a post an extra day, but with daily blogging none of this matters - you still have to push through and get your post up somehow.  

Creating this much extra content also forced me to branch out from the usual kinds of posts I do.  I even did a makeup look!

Other favorite posts from the past month:
Best of 2014: Curly Girl Hair Products (Budget + High End)
The Honest Co. Brand Focus + Discovery Kit Review
Make It Work: The Deodorant That Burns Your Pits
Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polish + Body Oil Review
Why I Limit Palm Oil + A Palm Oil Free Soap Edit
SkinnySkinny The Cleanser Review
Easy DIY Cuticle Oil with Argan, Marula + Tamanu Oils
Splurge vs. Save: In Search of a Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser

What to Expect for 2015
Going forward, daily blogging isn't feasible for me at this point, but I do want to stick to a regular three blog posts per week.  In the past I've struggled to stay consistent with even that, but after a month of blogging everyday, it seems much more manageable.  I also have a couple ideas for videos I'd like to film in the next couple months, though I'm not going to commit to a definite timeline on those.

I'd love to know what kinds of posts you like best and if there's anything specific you'd like to see in the new year.  Also, today's the last day of my Odylique giveaway, so if you haven't done so already, make sure to head over to that post and enter.  

Boxing Day Green Beauty Sales

I hope you guys had an amazing holiday!  The sale post I did last month for Black Friday ended up being one of my most viewed ever, so I thought I'd put together another one for Boxing Day.  I'll be on the other side of all the shopping today - working retail for the holidays - so unlike Black Friday, I likely won't be able to update this throughout the day as more sales are announced.  I'm not seeing nearly as many many sales this time around, so if I missed any fabulous ones, please leave them in the comments so everyone else can check them out too!

Abe's Market
Up to 60% Off Select Items + Free US Shipping

The Detox Market
15% Off Purchases of $100+ (Coupon Code: JOYFUL)

Foxy Mango
35% Off Closing Sale 

Genfiore Cosmetics
Free Shipping (Coupon Code: FREESHIP)

La Mav Skincare
10% Off Purchases of $99+ (Coupon Code: Boxingday99)
 20% Off Purchases of $199+ (Coupon Code: Boxingday199)

Lippy Girl Makeup
25% Off (Coupon Code: BOXDAY)

Love Lula
Up to 75% Off Select Items + Free Worldwide Shipping

$15 Off Purchases of $100+ 
Extra $7.50 Off Each Additional $50 ($30 Off $200) (Coupon Code: BOXING)

Province Apothecary
20% Off + Free North American Shipping on Purchases of $100+ (Coupon Code: BOXING)

Scentuals Bodycare
50% Off (Coupon Code: BOXINGDAY)

Vapour Organic Beauty
24% Off (Coupon Code: V2424)

$11 Off Purchases of $100+ (Coupon Code: BOXING11D)

White Rabbit Beauty
10% Off (Coupon Code: 2015)

Young Living
20% Off Select Items (including the DewDrop Home Diffuser!)

Contains affiliate links

Petit Vour Merry & Bright (December 2014)

With Christmas just a couple days away, apparently even the post office has kicked it into high gear.  I was very happily surprised when the mailman turned up with the latest Petit Vour box on a Sunday!  December's box, Merry & Bright*, was co-curated with Sunny of Vegan Beauty Review and is packed full of goodies to get you through the holiday season, and back into the everyday.    

Check out what was included this month:

Meow Meow Tweet Lavender Deodorant Cream  ($8)
Deodorant is such a tricky one, so I'm always excited to be able to test out new ones without a huge investment.  I've heard really good things about Meow Meow Tweet's too, so I'm looking forward to this.  I'll update you all once I've given it a good trial.

Trust Fund Beauty Just Call My Lawyer Nail Lacquer ($16)

I'm not sure how I feel about Trust Fund Beauty's branding (polishes intended to "bring out the inner rich bitch in everyone, no matter what your financial situation"), but their bottles are cute and the nail lacquers are 5-free.  The company describes Just Call My Lawyer as a "dark brown with a hint of red," though it looks to me more like a straight up deep red/burgundy/oxblood metallic.  I love dark polishes, so this color looks perfect.  

Everyday Minerals All Smiles Matte Blush (Sample Value ±$5)

Everyday Minerals is a company that everyone speaks highly of, but I've never actually tried anything from them.  All Smiles is a lovely peachy-pink/coral blush.  It's matte, but it doesn't have any of that dreaded chalky look or feel.  Peachy blushes are my favorite and I don't have many mattes, so again, this is a great fit for me.

Blissoma Pure Sensitive Skin Soothing Complex (Sample Value ±$13)

I've used a few products from Blissoma in the past and I think they're a great company.  Pure is an unscented moisturizer that's specifically designed for sensitive skin and picky complexions.  The dropper bottle doesn't seem like the best packaging for this - I can't seem to get the dropper to pick up any product - but I'm excited to try it nonetheless.  The 0.5 ounce sample is a great size too!

The Bottom Line
Petit Vour is certainly ending the year with a bang!  I love that this box included both brands I'm familiar with and new-to-me companies, and I'm genuinely excited to use all four of these items.  

Petit Vour boxes retail for $15 (US) / $23 (Canada) and individual products can also be bought in the Petit Vour shop  

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

Holiday Swap with Inga of Organic Beauty Blogger

For the second year in a row, Ria from NatuRia Beauty organized a Holiday Green Beauty Swap.   I remember ogling everyone's packages last year, so I was eager to sign up this time around!  I was paired with Inga from Organic Beauty Blogger, a great Lithuanian green beauty blog.   

I don't have a lot of people in my real, in-person life who share my obsession with green beauty products, which made it that much more fun choosing what to include for a fellow green beauty lover.  (You can see what I sent Inga here.) 

And when Inga's package showed up at my door, I could barely contain my excitement!  

Here's what she included:

Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash
Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara (01 Black)
Organic Honeybush Tea

I haven't used many Dr. Hauschka products before, but I've read a lot of good things about the Volume Mascara and citrus scents are a favorite, so I'm happy to have the chance to try these out.

Tea is also always welcome here, particularly in the winter.  I know I tried Honeybush tea once, a long time ago, but I don't remember it that well.  I'm excited to give it another taste!

Thank you, Inga!  

Disappointing Products #3

It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts - apparently June 2013 was my last one - so I figured it was past time I wrote about some of the products that have not been making the cut in my beauty cabinet.  I want to preface this by saying that none of these are bad products - well, with the exception of one that kinda, maybe is - but they're items that haven't worked for me.

Nubian Heritage Repair & Extend Shine Gel
If you saw my recent Best of Curly Girl Hair Products, you'll know that this gel did not make it onto that list.  I've heard a lot of good things about Nubian Heritage, but this gel was my first time trying anything from the brand.  I've ended up only using it a couple times due to how strong and perfumey it smells.  Super disappointing because it's one of the few Nubian Heritage products that's made without either Japanese honeysuckle extract or palm oil.  It also did seem to work really well, with a good hold that was neither overly crunchy or sticky.  The smell - courtesy of a "proprietary essential oil blend" - is pretty overpowering though, and it tends to hang around all day, so I'm not sure it's worth it.

Sukin Aloe Vera Gel
The thing that I said was maybe just a bad product?  That would be this one here.  Aside from the company's fondness for phenoxyethanol, I really like Sukin products, so when I was given a spare tester from the health food store I was working in at the time, I expected good things.  It's hard to find aloe gels without a ton of fillers, and although Sukin's has only three ingredients - aloe leaf juice, alcohol, and hydroxyethylcellulose - it's awful.  Using alcohol as a preservative requires a moderately large amount, and with so few other ingredients to buffer it, the aloe gel is left smelling like straight up rubbing alcohol.  The alcohol also seems to negate any of the moisturizing properties inherent in the aloe, making the gel pretty useless.  I'm really not sure what anyone was thinking when they made this product.

Pure Anada Fresh Mandarin Pressed Mineral Cheek Color
I featured this Pure Anada blush in a roundup of new blush favorites early in the fall, but since then, it's mostly fallen out of my good books.  Pure Anada's pressed products have a weird, plastic or putty-like scent that the company attributes to the raw, unrefined jojoba oil they use to bind them, and whether or not that's what the smell is, I'm just not a fan.  I like the experience of putting makeup on to be enjoyable, and even luxurious at times, so something that makes me feel like I need to hold my breath while applying it, just isn't what I'm looking for.  It's a shame too, because the color is really pretty.  

Schmidt's Lavender-Sage Deodorant
I already let the cat out of the bag on this one when I wrote about how I transformed my Schmidt's into a deodorant that didn't sting or irritate my armpits, but I thought I'd stick it in here too, in case you missed that post.  The deodorant, in its original state, kept me stink-free, but it completely tore up my armpits.  And apparently I'm far from alone on this, as a lot of you described similar experiences with Schmidt's, both in the comments on that post and on Instagram and Twitter.  

EOS Sweet Mint Lip Balm
As one of the few all natural lip balms that's easily accessible in stores here, I'd wanted to try EOS for years, but I only actually got around to it last month when my mom bought me this one.  The ingredients are good, the egg shape is cute, and I love the Sweet Mint flavour/scent, but the balm itself is just not as hydrating as I would like.  I even sometimes feel like it has the opposite effect and actually dries out my lips.  

[EOS Fans: Do the balms vary by scent?  I also have an unopened strawberry one, but I may end up passing it on if it's going to be equally lackluster in terms of moisture.]

The All Natural Face Midas Cream Concealer 
I'm always looking for products that will conceal my dark circles, and the yellow-toned Midas has garnered a lot of positive attention.  Sadly, it doesn't work for me.  The concealer is illuminating, but it gives hardly any coverage, so instead of achieving the bright and awake under eye look I'm going for, I end up with a layer of shine that may even make my dark circles look more prominent.    Needless to say I'm not a fan.

Have you used any of these?  Are there other underwhelming products that have left you disappointed recently?

Contains affiliate links

Holiday Nails with Peacekeeper Cause-metics, Sinful Colors & Gabriel Cosmetics

It's a rare day that I paint my fingernails, but the holiday season, plus this gorgeous polish combination I discovered when painting my toes earlier in the week made me go for it.  And once it was done, I wanted to show off all the pretty sparklies, which brings us to today's post.

All the polishes I used are at least 3-free (no toluene, DBP, or formaldehyde) and the Gabriel topcoat is also free of camphor and other phthalates.  

The Polishes
As a base, I used Peacekeeper Cause-metics Soulful, a metallic navy.  Sinful Colors Nail Junkie, a turquoise jelly with blue, green and gold sparkles, went on next.  Nail Junkie is a pretty thick, viscous polish, but since that makes it easier to build up a semi-opaque glitter layer, I don't mind.  Last, I used Gabriel Cosmetics' Top Coat, which is great for smoothing out any roughness from the glitter and gives a great shine.  I will say - 5-free or not - the Gabriel polishes are some of the strongest and worst smelling nail polishes I've used.

It all came together with a kind of galaxy feel that I'm very much digging!  It can come across a little lighter/darker depending on lighting, but basically it looks like turquoise and gold glitter on a black base.  I love that it's got a bit of a festive feel, even though it doesn't fall under a more traditional red, green or gold color scheme.    

Sinful Colors Nail Junkie, up close

Odylique Launches in North America! (+ a Holiday Giveaway) (Closed)

After years of seeing UK bloggers rave about Odylique products, I was ecstatic to learn this fall that the company was launching in North America.  Odylique - formerly called Essential Care - is an award-winning, certified organic, 100% natural skin and hair care line that's designed to be compatible with the most sensitive skin.  Created by a mother-daughter team, the line is based on organic herbs, plant oils, and natural active ingredients and is free of parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates, and artificial additives, as well as common allergens like tree nuts, soy, wheat, and dairy.

I've been trying out a few products from the line and I've also got a fantastic giveaway from Odylique, so make sure you read to the bottom and enter!

Lemon Butter Hand Smoothie*

My favorite of what I tried, the Hand Smoothie is a recent addition to Odylique's line and has a great lightweight feel and a cheery yellow color from sea buckthorn extract and avocado oil.  Other great ingredients include aloe vera, cocoa butter, sunflower and coconut oils, and calendula.   It feels very nourishing on the skin, but also absorbs quickly, so you can continue on with your day without having to wait for your hand cream to sink in before you can touch anything.  The scent is a mix of zesty lemon and lemongrass with sweet, floral geranium.

Calming Rose Super Tonic* + Timeless Rose Moisturizer*

The Calming Rose Super Tonic, a blend of rosewater, rose essential oil, and calendula extract, works very well at calming the skin and reducing redness.  The glass bottle is elegant and I appreciate that it disperses a good, even mist.  The Timeless Rose Moisturizer is a lightweight lotion that includes anti-aging sea buckthorn and rosehip extracts.  It does contain coconut oil, but I haven't had any issues.

The rose scents are a little overpowering for me - you guys know I'm not a big fan - but if you like rose, I think you would get along well with either of these products.  

Odylique is generously giving away their brand new Selection Box to two of you lovely readers!  The box includes trial sizes of seven of Odylique's most popular products: the Coconut Cleanser, Calming Rose Super Tonic, Timeless Rose Moisturizer, Superfruit Concentrate, Coconut Candy Scrub, Gentle Herb Shampoo, and Ultra Rich Balm. 

If you haven't tried Odylique yet, this looks like a fantastic way to get a feel for the line.

The giveaway is open internationally, and only requirement is to leave a comment telling us which product in the box you'd be most excited to try.  You can get extra entries by following me and Odylique on social media and tweeting about the giveaway.  Fill in the Rafflecopter widget to make sure all your entries are counted!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Press sample

Best of 2014: Curly Girl Hair Products (Budget + High End)

I've struggled for years to tame my curly mane, but I think I've finally figured out what really works.  For a point of reference, my hair does really well air drying, but it needs the right products or else controlled curls can quickly turn into a frizzy mess.  I've tried a lot of products - and I especially feel like I've tried a lot this past year - so I think it's about time I put together my "best of" list for curly hair products.  I've included both a budget and high end option for each category.

Shampoo and Conditioner
I always keep Acure's  Argan + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo and Conditioner well stocked, and if money was no object, I would definitely rotate in John Masters Honey & Hibiscus Shampoo and Reconstructor.  Both duos provide a lot of moisture, but they don't weigh down my hair.  

Hair Oil
I've tried a lot of different oils, both singles and blends, but I always come back to using a pure, 100% argan oil.  I use a few drops on damp hair after washing - mainly focused on the ends - to control frizz and keep hair strong and healthy.  I'm a big fan of Acure's Argan Oil - it's certified organic, sustainably harvested, affordable, and good quality - but if you're open to spending a little more, Olie Biologique's Argan Oil - again organic, and also cold pressed - has a richer, nuttier scent and feels that little bit more luxurious.  

Hair Gel
I've probably tried more gels than any other hair product and it's the one category where I still feel like I'm searching for that ever elusive perfect product.  I like a product with hold, but I can't stand anything that leaves my hair feeling crunchy or sticky.  My favorite to date is Intelligent Nutrients' Organic Styling Gel, which smells fresh and minty and doesn't require a lot of product to get the light hold I'm after.  On the more budget-friendly side, I also really like Kinky Curly's Spiral Spritz.  It's a lighter hold product than the Intelligent Nutrients, but it nicely defines curls without leaving any kind of coating on the hair.  

Curl Refresher / Leave-in Conditioner
On days when I don't wash my hair, I like to use something to freshen up my curls and make them look bouncy and (almost) new again.  Beautiful Curls' Curl Reviving Tonic is the first natural product I've found that's actually intended for this purpose and it's pretty amazing.  Yarok's Feed Your Ends also works well, and it can do double duty as a heat protectant on the rare occasions that I heat style my hair.

Honorable Mentions
Yarok's Feed Your Roots was the first natural hair product I fell in love with, so I couldn't make this list without including it!  Some days I'll use the mousse in place of a gel, and it also works well to add volume at the roots.  

Intelligent Nutrients' Hair Shine is a bit of a cheat, as I haven't quite worked out how to best use it with curls, but it's amazing on those rare days that I straighten my hair.  It's not greasy at all and it tames frizz and flyaways like nothing else, all while leaving behind the most gorgeous, glossy, hair commercial-worthy shine.

Clearly I like trying hair products, so if there are any great ones I've missed, let me know in the comments.  I'd love to know your favorites!

Contains affiliate links

Pure + Simple Face Colours

I did a full review of Pure + Simple's Taupe Face Colour shortly after I got it, but I don't think I've mentioned it since, or ever talked about the two other shades I ended up picking up shortly after.  The Face Colours are powder products, pressed without talc or silicones.  Depending on the shade, they can function as blush, bronzer, eye shadow, and perhaps even lip color.  

I have three shades, and while I've never tried any of them on the lips, I can readily attest to how well they work on both the face and eyes.

Glow - is a bright, watermelon pink, with a noticeable sheen.  I barely even need to touch my brush into this color to get enough product to use as a blush.  

Rose Gold - is a bronzy peach, also with a pretty heavy sheen.  I like to use this one on the cheeks - again, with a light hand - and since I also love doing peachy eye looks, I regularly use it as an eye shadow too.

Taupe - is an interesting medium brown shade.  It looks like a cool-toned brown in the pan, but on the skin it has a golden glow that warms the colour up a good deal.  Of the three shades, I've definitely used this one the most.  It's a very versatile, medium crease shade  and works great to blend out almost any eye look.  I find myself reaching for it all the time.  

Pure + Simple's Face Colours are some of the most pigmented pressed makeup items in my collection.  If you're fair like me - and maybe even if you're not - you really need to be careful not to pick up too much product when using them on the face.  Otherwise, you can very easily end up in clown cheek territory.  In all three shades I've used, the shimmer is very finely milled, so while the colours give off a beautiful sheen, there's no actual sparkles or glitter on your face.  They're also buttery soft and blend easily, so even being so pigmented, they aren't a difficult product to work with. 

Have you used anything from Pure + Simple?

La Mav Anti Dark-Circle & Ultra-Firm Eye Gel + Cranberry Bio Exfoliating Scrub

Have you heard of La Mav yet?  This Australian skincare line has been around for several years, but it seems like they've really exploded onto the international green beauty scene just this past year.  La Mav's entire line is certified organic, certified cruelty free, Australian made, and guaranteed to be free from harsh chemicals, fillers, talc, sulphates, GMO ingredients, parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, and artificial colours and fragrances.  La Mav uses a three-tier system of active constituents, specialty oils, and essential base ingredients to ensure every product is packed full of as much natural goodness as possible.  The entire product line focuses on age-defense, with eight different ranges that each target other skin concerns as well as anti-aging.  La Mav is very clear on wanting to combine science and nature and they make a point of using plant-based active ingredients whose efficacy has been researched and proven in independent clinical studies.  

La Mav offered to send me a couple products to try and after a thorough browse, I chose the Anti Dark-Circle & Ultra-Firm Eye Gel* and Cranberry Bio Exfoliating Scrub.* 

Anti-Dark-Circle & Ultra-Firm Eye Gel
My under eye area is probably my single most persistent skin concern, so a product like this that promises to reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness always makes me sit up and take notice.  Vitamin C, chlorella, and licorice root are included for their brightening effects, while hyaluronic acid seals in moisture and helps to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.  The formula also includes anti-aging and antioxidant-rich rosehip, sea buckthorn, and bilberry seed oils.  

I tend to have pretty prominent dark circles, as well as some puffiness, and sadly the eye gel hasn't done anything too dramatic to reduce either one.  I've used it morning and night for nearly a month now, and while I've noticed a slight brightening effect, I was hoping for a bit more.  That said, the eye gel really shines in terms of hydration.  I'm not sure how La Mav manages to pack so much moisture into such a light gel, but I'm impressed.  The eye gel feels light, cool and lovely going on - never heavy or tacky - and it leaves my eye area plumper and better hydrated than several other, much heavier eye creams I've previously used.  I also only need to use half a pump for both eyes.

Cranberry Bio Exfoliating Scrub
The Cranberry Bio Exfoliating Scrub includes both manual and chemical exfoliants.  Bamboo stem and cranberry seed powders gently buff away dead skin, while natural fruit acids from bilberry, sugar maple, lemon, orange, and sugar cane penetrate deep into the pores to remove excess oil, dirt, and impurities.  The scrub is part of La Mav's Purify & Clean range, designed for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin, but it's also been great on my skin which leans more combination/dry.  The texture is that of a thick, gritty paste, but it spreads easily on damp skin and does a good job exfoliating without ever feeling too harsh or abrasive.  

One thing to note is that the scrub can separate a little in the tube, so you need to give it a good shake before squeezing the product out.  I also recommend storing it upside down (top up), as I did have a small amount of liquid leak out of the tube when it was stored top down.


The Bottom Line
The eye gel may not have worked magic on my dark circles (and really, what does?), but it's a good, solid product and I really do like how much hydration it offers, and the way it leaves my eye area feeling.  The scrub was a hit too: gritty, but not scratchy or overly abrasive.  

As a first experience with La Mav, I'd say this went really well.  I'm definitely left curious to try more from the line, which I think says it all!

* Press sample

Natural Skincare at Sephora: An Imaginary Routine

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me tweet a couple weeks ago asking for natural product recommendations at Sephora.  It's not somewhere I've shopped for quite a while now, but I still get their emails and they had a Bare Minerals eye shadow gift with purchase that had me just about ready to pull out my wallet.  In the end I decided against buying anything - it's not as though I needed the eye shadow anyways - but that darn GWP almost had me!

I know for a lot of people Sephora is an easy place to shop, so after my thorough browsing experience, I thought I'd challenge myself to see if it would be possible to create a completely non-toxic skincare routine using only products sold at Sephora. Here's what I came up with!

Keep in mind that I haven't actually tried most of these, so I can only speak to their ingredients, not their efficacy.  Everything is free of the regular nasties like parabens, phthalates, silicones, petroleum, PEGs, and dyes, and is also free of phenoxyethanol - which presented quite a challenge, let me tell you!

Makeup Remover: Ole Henriksen Pure Truth Melting Cleanser
Cleanser: REN ClearCalm Clarifying Clay Cleanser
Toner/Face Mist: Caudalie Grape Water
Face Oils: Lea Journo Revive French Plum Oil / Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil
Eye Cream: Tata Harper Restorative Eye Creme
Face Scrub: Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser
Mask: REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial

So, is it possible to create a full non-toxic, natural skincare routine at Sephora? Yes.  Is it easy? No.  And it's also pretty costly.  

These eight items came to a whopping $497!  I think you could do a lot better for your money shopping somewhere else, but in a pinch, Sephora could have you covered.  Which is always good to know.  

What do you think of Sephora?  And - since I'm always up for some window shopping - let me know if you'd be interested in seeing something similar for makeup.