31 March 2014

Brand Focus: Ora's Amazing Herbal

Photo by David Zimand
Like a lot of natural formulators, Ora Assayag started making natural products for her family.  When her youngest daughter developed severe eczema and was prescribed steroids and antibiotics, Ora was confident there had to be a more natural, holistic route they could take and began researching alternatives.  In addition to diet, she looked to herbal medicine and developed a healing herbal blend to use in a salve.  After the first batch, she quickly learned that the salve worked not only on her daughter's eczema, but also on dry skin, cuts and scratches, and small kitchen burns.  One thing led to another and developed into Ora's Amazing Herbal, a family business that now sells salves, lip balms, and body powders.  Everything is 100% natural, made with only organic and fair trade herbs, and the business is committed to being run ethically and with social responsibility.  

I was happy to be sent a few products from the line to try out.  Keep reading for what I thought of everything...



All Purpose Salve
Since salves are what started it all for this company, I was most excited to see what this little  glass jar could offer.  It contains a powerful blend of herbs - organic calendula, comfrey, plaintain, chickweed, St. John's wort, burdock and thyme - infused in non-GMO grapeseed oil and blended with organic coconut oil, beeswax, vitamin E, and essential oils of rosemary, thuja, and tea tree.  

The very top layer was a little more firm, but once you break through that, it's the creamiest, butteriest salve I've had the pleasure of using.  It's also suprisingly non-greasy - unless you use a ton - and sinks in really easily.  And, it works super well too!  Dry, chapped hands were no match for the salve and itchy skin quickly fled as well.  It smells great too - fresh and herbal, but also a little sweet - and in a pinch, it even works as a lip balm.

Basically, just a good, all-around functional product to keep on hand!  The smaller, one ounce jar is the perfect purse size to carry with you too.



Ingredients: Grapeseed Oil (non-GMO) Infused With Organic Calendula, Organic Comfrey, Organic Plantain, Organic Chickweed, Organic St. John’s Wort, Organic Burdock And Organic Thyme, Organic Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E And Essential Oils Of Rosemary, Thuja, And Tea Tree.

Chai Spice Lip Balm
I can't imagine a better fall/winter lip balm flavor than this Chai Spice, which is a yummy blend of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and ginger.  The lip balm formula is ideal for winter too, as it's a thicker balm that does a great job protecting your lips against the elements.   And, if your lips are already chapped, it's a good choice too.  It contains the same herbal infusion as the salve and I've noticed it really speeds up the healing process, leaving my lips feeling soft and supple.  I will say that, personal preference, I wish the balm had a little more slip to it.  On the flip side, the thicker, waxier consistency is what helps it last so well on your lips, and it also means it's completely matte and shine-free, which will certainly appeal to some.  

Ingredients: Beeswax, Grapeseed Oil Infused With Organic Calendula, Organic Comfrey, Organic Plantain, Organic Chickweed, Organic St. John’s Wort, Organic Burdock And Organic Thyme, Organic Coconut Oil, Vitamin E, Essential Oils and Spices Of Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, and Ginger.

Ora's Amazing Herbal's body powders leave out talc (which can be contaminated with asbestos), grains and corn starch (which have been shown to exacerbate some skin problems) and any synthetics.  Instead, they contain a gentle blend of kaolin clay, baking soda, arrowroot, and plaintain leaf powder.   The Vanilla one that I received also contains vanilla bean powder.  

One of the last "dirty" products I held on to was a vanilla body powder from The Body Shop, so I was extra excited to receive the vanilla-scented option here.  Perhaps because I had TBS one in the back of my mind, I was a little gutted to discover how lightly scented Ora's version is.  The vanilla really is barely detectable here. 

Scent aside, it's a great silky soft, finely milled powder with a multitude of uses.  I've enjoyed dusting it on top of other deodorants and I've used it as a dry shampoo too.  I imagine it would also work well for diapering, chafing, and anything else you'd use conventional baby and dusting powders for.

Ingredients: Kaolin Clay Powder, Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Maranta arundinacea (Arrowroot) Powder, Plantago major (Plantain) leaf Powder, Organic Raw Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) Bean Powder. 

The Bottom Line
Ora's Amazing Herbal uses high quality, natural ingredients and sustainable, ethical business practices and is a company I'd feel confident recommending.  The salve was the star of the show for me, but I've enjoyed using the lip balm and body powder as well.   I do wish the powder had a bit more scent to it, but it isn't anything that will stop me from enjoying the product as is.  

The price point, across the entire line, is also very reasonable, with lip balms ringing in at $3.99, powders at $10.99, and salves at $8.99 (1 oz.) and $18.99 (4 oz.)



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. 


26 March 2014

Nürish Organics Washed Away Cream Cleanser & Makeup Obliterator


Towards the end of last year, I was sent a few products from Nürish Organics and after being thoroughly impressed by everything, I knew I had to try their cleanser.  A well-timed Saffron Rouge sale was all it took for me to take the plunge with Washed Away...
"A gentle yet very effective cream cleanser enriched with quinoa protein and rich tropical butters. Leaves the skin feeling clean and vibrant. Wet face and massage a pea-sized amount to remove makeup or just to cleanse the face at the end of a long day. Can be used to obliterate even the toughest waterproof eye makeup."
As a cleanser, I like it.  It's a little runny - more of a milk consistency than a cream - but it's gentle and leaves my skin feeling clean, if maybe the slightest bit drier than I'd like.  As a makeup remover, I'm less impressed.  It does a good job removing face makeup, but it struggles to take off mascara and eye liner.  Yes, it gets it off in the end, but it takes 2-3 applications and more rubbing than I'd like for such a delicate area.  (I'm not talking about anything waterproof either!)  The scent was also just okay.  A blend of bergamot, petitgrain, lemon, orange, rosemary, neroli, and ylang ylang, it smells very sharp to me.  Not at all citrusy, like one might expect from the ingredients, but instead, more of a floral/herbal cross.  


Using Washed Away to remove swatches from this post
 

All clean!

The Bottom Line
More succinct than usual, but I think that covers everything.  Washed Away was a so-so product for me, though I'd still recommend other products from Nürish's line.  Best Scrub Ever is my favorite scrub at the moment and Daily Glow is a great oil that's stayed in rotation these last few months as well.  

Have you tried anything from Nürish?  What's your favorite makeup remover?  

Where to Buy: $23 from Nürish Organics, Saffron Rouge

Ingredients: Purified Water, Decyl Glucoside, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oleosomes*, Glycerin, Coco-Glucoside*, Glyceryl Oleate*, Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein, Leptospermum Scoparium (Active Manuka) Honey*, Mango Butter (Mangifera Indica) Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Tocopherols (Full Spectrum Naturally Sourced Vitamin E), Cetyl Alcohol, Bentonite, Sclerotium Gum, Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Oil*, Citrus Bigarade (Petitgrain) Oil*, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Oil*, Citrus Sinesis (Blood Orange) Oil*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Oil*, Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Oil*, Ylang Ylang (Cananga Odorata) Oil*, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid.  [*Denotes Organic]




23 March 2014

Brand Focus: The Mystic Masala (+ Giveaway!)

The Mystic Masala is a great Canadian brand that brings together a unique combination of Ayurveda and aromatherapy.  Ayurveda is an ancient wisdom and healing practice born in India more than 5000 years ago.  To simplify a complicated philosophy, Ayurveda is about finding and maintaining balance in the body, mind, and spirit.  The approach identifies three life energies or doshas - pitta, vata, and kapha - which are all present, to varying degrees, in everyone.  Once a person identifies their main dosha(s), they can use that information to better identify practices to guide their physical, spiritual, and mental health.

The Mystic Masala combines these Ayurvedic principles with natural and nontoxic ingredients and sells a diverse range of products.  The line was started by Glynnis Osher, a teacher, practioner and author with a strong background in both Ayurvedic study and aromatherapy, and currently includes candles, soaps, massage oils, and aromatic malas.  Products are available on the company's website, but will soon also be available in their first retail store, opening in Vancouver in April.

I was sent a few things to try, so keep reading for my thoughts on those.  (There's also a giveaway at the end!)

Tridoshic Tealight Tower*
"A pure Ayurvedic aromatherapy candle with 100% essential oils and lead-free cotton wicks. Hand poured in Canada.  Anytime you need the tranquility of nature, inhale this amazing scent, sprinkled with rose petals, you will welcome such beauty. "
Finding candles that are both gorgeous and nontoxic can sometimes be a challenge, but The Mystic Masala has really nailed it with these!  Unlike traditional paraffin candles, soy wax candles do not create harmful, carcinogenic fumes or exhaust and the soy used to make them is a renewable resource.  The candles are also biodegradable and burn slower and cooler than paraffin, which means your candles will have a longer burn time.  

The Mystic Masala's Tealight Towers are sets of 12 tealights housed in an elegant, cardboard tube.  The Tridoshic dosha is intended for those who recognize an equal balance of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.  The candles are scented with geranium, spikenard, and bergamot essential oils, and they've won over even my generally non-floral loving self!  It's a bright scent that smells floral, but also quite light and refreshing, and the sprinkling of rose petals on top of each candle is a beautiful touch as well.

Tealight Towers are also available for the other three doshas, and Tridoshic candles are also available as votives, travel tins, and in glass jars.  

Massage/Body Oils*
"Our naturally exquisite Ayurvedic body oils are made at a womens’ fair trade cooperative in Nepal. The herbs are sustainably wildcrafted assuring the highest quality ingredients and care. These contain only highest vibrational oils without any additives or preservatives. Beautifully gentle for daily massage of body and face. A routine of daily self-massage is an essential part of an Ayurvedic practice to restore and balance your unique skin type."
I received samples of all four oils, plus the scalp and hair elixir, and I've been enjoying trying them all out over the last couple weeks.  I'm curious to learn more about Ayurvedic massage, but for now I've just been using the samples as I would other body oils.  What I think is especially unique about these is that each formula differs not just in the essential oils and herbs, but right down to the base/carrier oils, which have also been carefully selected to best suit each dosha.  

I've enjoyed using all of them, with the exception of the Pitta blend, whose scent I did not get on with at all.  My favorite is the Kapha oil, an energizing blend of lemongrass, ginger, and black pepper essential oils in a base of olive, mustard, grapeseed, and Vitamin E oils.  It's also infused with wildcrafted lemongrass, haritaki, and neem.  I haven't had a chance to use the Thousand Petals Scalp Elixir and Hair Oil yet, but I'm excited to give myself a scalp massage on my next at home spa day!

SpiceLove Aromatic Love Oil*
"An exquisite and ridiculously sexy new love oil created from our just-arrived essential oils from France, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and India. Just wait until you sniff this gorgeous blend!This exquisite 100% pure essential oil blend boldly expresses the beauty and sensuality of the white lotus flowernelumbo nusefera, known as ‘sacred lotus’—masterfully melding with French ylang ylang, Indian rosewood, African myrrh and a drop of Indonesian patchouli, all in a carrier blend of organic almond/sunflower oil."
The Mystic Masala's new SpiceLove Perfume Oil is the final item I was sent.  It's a sweet floral scent with a hint of woodsy spice that I think would appeal to a lot of people, but I'm concerned it's a little too much for my scent-sensitive self.  Instead, with The Mystic Masala's go-ahead, I'm going to be giving it away to one of you lovely readers.  (It's brand new, of course!)
  
The giveaway is international and will run until next Monday, March 31 at midnight.  To enter, just complete the Rafflecopter widget.  Enter once or as many ways as you'd like!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


*PR sample


20 March 2014

Sample Stash #5: Suki

We sell Suki products at my work and between that and Saffron Rouge orders, I managed to accumulate a fair number of samples to try.  Suki is one of the better established natural skincare companies out there and the line blends together pure, natural ingredients and innovative science.  Everything is 100% natural, free of the regular nasties, and cruelty free.  Formulas are made with high potency botanicals and everything is developed to work with the skin's natural cycle.

 Most of these products have a lovely bright, fresh, citrusy scent that I see as something of a Suki signature, so rather than dwell on scent for each product, I've only mentioned it when it veers away from this.  I've got a good few samples to get through, so let's jump right in!


Creamy Foaming Cleanser
I don't usually go for foaming cleansers, but I really liked this one!  It's a great hybrid between a cream and foaming cleanser - it seems like a light cream/milk cleanser straight out of the bottle (or packet), but with a little water, it also lathers.  Not the best at removing makeup, but I could see myself buying it to use in the mornings or on no makeup days.

Moisture Rich Cleansing Lotion
This, on the other hand, was more of a middle-of-the-road product for me.  It seemed gentle but I didn't find it especially hydrating.  My skin was left feeling a little tight after using it.

Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser
Probably Suki's most famous product, this one gets a lot of well-deserved praise!  It's a sugar-based scrub that's elevated to new levels with a super gentle, coconut oil-based soap that foams up as you use it.  The lather isn't drying and the sugar does a great job exfoliating without being harsh.

Pure Facial Moisture - Balancing Oil
Probably my favorite of everything I've tried from Suki!  I'm not acne-prone, EXCEPT for the week or so leading up to my period when my skin can go a little wonky.  I'd accumulated a number of these samples and decided to pour them all into a bottle and give them a trial run during that time.  On its own, the oil is a little too light for my skin, but it was fantastic when mixed with either jojoba or goji seed oil.  I usually get one or two blemishes during that time of the month, but in the two months I've been using this (just during that one week), my skin has been problem free.  I'm not sure it's suited to my skin for the rest of the month, but I'm considering picking up a bottle all the same!  It also smells lovely and relaxing from the blue chamomile.

Balancing Day Lotion
A nice, light moisturizer.  Again, not enough moisture for my skin on it's own, but it was nice layered on top of an oil.

Intensive Nourishing Cream
I wasn't too taken with this one.  It seemed only slightly more hydrating than the Balancing Day Lotion and it left my pores looking a little congested.  I also didn't love the smell, which was pretty floral.

Suki Transformative Cleansing Clay
Suki markets this as a 3-in-1 cleanser mask, and spot treatment, but I only used it as a mask.  The consistency is a little runny for a mask, but once it's on, it feels lovely.  It's cooling and dries firm, but it's a lot gentler than a plain clay mask.  I also found, compared to other clays, that it wasn't quite as good at cleaning out my pores, but it did leave my skin looking bright and glowy.  I really liked this one, but the price - $49 for 1 ounce - is a sticking point for me right now.

Bio-Resurfacing Facial Peel
I don't have much experience with chemical exfoliants and reading the directions, I was a little nervous to give this one a try.  The packet said "leave on as long as skin will allow.  Initial stinging will subside," which seemed a little troubling.  In spite of the warning, it didn't sting at all.  Instead, it felt a little cool, but that's it.  I also didn't notice any improvement in my skin, although I did discover couple small blemishes when I washed the mask off.  Not sure if they were a negative reaction or just the mask bringing things to the surface, but I was not impressed.

Exfoliate Foaming Body Scrub
A really lovely body version of the iconic face scrub.  I usually make my own scrubs, but I wouldn't say no to this as a gift or an occasional splurge.

Butter Cream Salve
This salve has an impressive ingredients list with arnica, cocoa butter, calendula, and comfrey - to name just a few - but it left me pretty underwhelmed.  I tried it on both my feet and winter-weary hands, but I didn't notice much difference with either.

The Bottom Line
These were just small sample sachets, but in trying so many, I feel like I got a good impression of Suki's line.  I had hits, misses, and a few in between, but overall I think it's a great, high quality line.  Factoring everything in - including price - the only ones I'm confident saying I would purchase are the the Creamy Foaming Cleanser, Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser, and Balancing Oil.  I also think the Balancing Day Lotion is a great product, just not the best suited for my skin.

Have you tried anything from Suki?  What are your favorites?

Contains affiliate links

17 March 2014

Mineral Fusion Bronzer Duo in Luster



I always get drawn in by the Mineral Fusion makeup display at my Whole Foods, but sadly, a large part of the line contains phenoxyethanol which I make a point of avoiding.  I love that they make pressed products (still something of a rarity in natural makeup), but as far as I can tell, there's phenoxyethanol in every single pressed item EXCEPT this bronzer duo.  So, while I usually go for lighter highlighters, I figured I'd chance it with the Bronzer Duo in Luster.

I'm glad I did.

The bronzer side is a light/medium warm brown, but it's not orangey, so all is well.  It's also on the sheer side (a plus in my bronzer-shy book) and very blendable.  And, it's matte, making it super versatile since it works as both a contour and an all over bronzer.

I'm slightly less taken with the highlight, but it's just a matter of color preference.  It's golden and has a lovely sheen (no sparkle!), which I like, but as I feared, the color is too dark for my pale complexion and just ends up looking unnatural.   I will say, even though it's also a little sheer, with a good, sticky primer underneath, it works nicely as an eye shadow.  (Pop the bronzer in the crease and you've got an effortless neutral eye.)



The Bottom Line
I'm a little confused as to who this duo is intended for, since while the bronzer is fantastic for fair skin, the highlight seems like it would be much better suited to darker complexions.  All the same, I really like the bronzer side, so I'm happy to have it in my collection.  I hope it'll be the start of more phenoxyethanol-free products from Mineral Fusion!

Ingredients: Mica, zinc stearate, octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate, titanium dioxide (ci 77891), caprylic/capric triglyceride, tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C), camellia sinensis (white tea) leaf extract, aspalathus linearis (rooibos red tea) leaf extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf extract, retinyl palmitate (vitamin A), sambucus nigra fruit extract, lauroyl lysine. May contain (+/-): iron oxide (ci 77491, 77492, 77499).




Contains affiliate links

10 March 2014

A Selection of Non-Hairspray Hair Sprays

I generally wash my hair every other day, and while I don't have problems with my hair getting greasy, it can be a challenge keeping my curls looking fresh and bouncy after they've been slept on.  I've been searching for something that will refresh second day curls with minimal effort, and believe me, I've tried a good bunch of things!  This is the most recent batch - I think of these as non-hairspray hair sprays (thus the title) since they're spray-type hair products, but none of them provide the hold of a traditional hairspray.  Instead, they're light, leave-in products that give variable amounts of hydration.  None of them are heavy or greasy.  


Acure Organics Argan Oil + Argan Stem Cell Leave-In Conditioner
I did a full review of this product a few months ago, and my opinion has basically stayed the same.  I love the way it works, but I struggle with how it smells.  It smells like lemongrass, but it's heavier and more herbal than the lemongrass scents I'm used to, and unfortunately, the scent is one that really sticks in your hair.  If Acure were to come out with another scent, I'd be all over it, but as it is now, the smell wears on me enough throughout the day that I won't be buying this one again, regardless of how well it works.

Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner
Yarok's Feed Your Roots Mousse has been a firm favorite of mine, so naturally I had to try their leave-in.  It smells the same as the mousse - sweet, fresh, and lemony - and it does a great job too.  It's one of the lightest of the bunch, so I can really go to town spraying this one and not have to worry about my hair ending up greasy or sticky.  As an added bonus, it also does double duty as a heat protectant.  

Rahua Voluminous Hairspray
Rahua's is the only one of the bunch that's sold as an actual hairspray - soft, flexible hold - but I really thing it would be better marketed as a leave-in conditioner.  As a curl refresher, it works fine initially, but after just an hour or two everything falls flat again and I'm back where I started.  If I'd bought it intending to use it as a regular hairspray, I think I would have been even more disappointed.  I've read positive reviews, but on my hair, it gives virtually no hold.  

Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Reviving Tonic
It shouldn't come as any great surprise that the sole product of the bunch that's actually marketed as a curl reviving product does the best job reviving my curls.  I was initially concerned about how I'd fare with the mango-vanilla scent and eyed this product for months before finally taking the plunge and buying it.  I was worried it would be overly sweet or fake smelling, but it's actually fairly light and not overpowering or sickly.  The product itself performs exactly how I want it to.  Several sprays and some scrunching easily take my deflated curls from sad and slept on to bouncy and fresh once again.

The Bottom Line
All things considered, the Beautiful Curls is the clear winner here and the only one that I'm confident I'll be repurchasing.  (In fact, I kind of already have.  I let my mom try it and ended up having to buy her her own bottle just so I could get mine back!)  The Yarok is also quite lovely and I could see myself buying it as an occasional splurge, but for an everyday product that gets used up fairly quickly, I can't justify spending more when the Beautiful Curls is equally or more effective and a third of the price.  I think the Rahua and Acure could potentially suit different hair types and noses, respectively, but neither were winners for me.

Am I the only one who struggles with second day hair?  Have you tried any of these?



Contains affiliate links


4 March 2014

Blue Orchid Botanicals Renewal Mask

I've become pretty passionate about face masks during the last few months, but I think it's an obsession that's fully justified.  I can't tell you how much the overall appearance and condition of my skin has improved since I've been religiously masking twice a week.  Today I want to introduce you to one of the newer masks in my rotation: Blue Orchid Botanicals' Renewal Mask.  




"The Renewal Mask is a wonderful detoxifying mask formulated with moroccan rhassoul and kaolin clay.  Rhassoul clay contains high levels of silica, potassium and calcium, and kaolin clay helps stimulate circulation while gently cleansing the skin.  We also added rosehip extract, green tea, and lemon peel for the extra boost in bringing your skin back to new."

As I see it, while the Renewal Mask certainly falls under the clay mask heading, it's a souped up version of your traditional clay mask.  Two kinds of clay gently but effectively pull all the dirt and gunk out of your pores, while you're simultaneously benefiting from the addition of several other, nourishing ingredients.

Rosehip extract is highly anti-inflammatory and full of Vitamin C, leaving your skin soothed and bright.  

Green tea extract is packed with Vitamin E and other antioxidants and is a fantastic anti-aging ingredient.  

Lemon peel contains Vitamin C and natural AHA's that exfoliate, tone, and brighten.  

The combination of the two clays and these three power ingredients leaves the skin feeling clean and detoxified, but also plump and radiant.  I've definitely noticed an added brightness to my skin following a treatment with this mask.

I also love the versatility of dry powder masks, since they're so simple to customize to suit your individual skin needs.  My favorite mixing combination for the Renewal Mask has been water with just a few drops of jojoba oil.  The jojoba oil prevents the mask from drying quite as solidly - making it that little bit more gentle - which is something my skin has appreciated this winter.  Blue Orchid Botanicals also suggests mixing it with aloe vera, yogurt, or avocado, which all sound like great options as well.



The Bottom Line
Blue Orchid Botanicals' Renewal Mask is a great mask to have in your arsenal!  Clay masks are some of my favorites and this one does a great job deep cleaning the pores without ever feeling overly harsh or stripping.  The added benefits from the rosehip, green tea, and lemon peel are fantastic and my skin is noticeably brighter and more luminous after using this product.

Have you tried anything from Blue Orchid Botanicals?



Disclosure: Product provided for 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.

1 March 2014

January + February Empties / Products I've Used Up

I wasn't able to put together an empties post for January, so this one's going to be a bit of a doozie!  Even though #NoBuyJanuary is over, I've still been focusing on using what I have throughout February and it's always more than a little validating to be able to see some progress with these posts!



Hair
This batch is probably what I'm most excited about using up, since it really streamlined the products that are left in my shower.  The Acure Argan + Argan Stem Cell (review) are still my favorite shampoo/conditioner duo for my curly hair.  I'm currently trying the mint ones, which are also nice, but I expect I'll go back to the Argan again afterwards.  The Organic Excellent Wild Mint Shampoo and Conditioner (review) were what I was using before discovering Acure, but about a year ago, there was a bit of an ingredients hooplah over whether the company was accurately disclosing ingredients and they've just been languishing in my shower ever since.  I wouldn't recommend these anymore, but I wanted to move them out, so I used the shampoo up as body wash.  I tried to use the conditioner as a shaving cream, but my skin was no longer a fan and reacted badly.  A search for alternate conditioner uses found many claims that conditioner will clean your drains, so that's what I tried to do with the bottom half of the bottle.  I'm not convinced it did anything, but I'm happy to finally have these out of my shower (and my life) all the same!

I used Desert Essence's Fragrance Free Conditioner maybe two times on my hair, but I loved it as a shaving cream.  I was all set to buy it again for that purpose, but the bottom of the tube was strangely congealed and lumpy and has turned me off it for the moment.  I'm exploring other options, but I'm sure I'll return to it at some point.  Intelligent Nutrients' Styling Gel (review) is a fantastic hair gel, but prices recently went up and at $14 for 2 oz. ($31 for 5 oz.), I'm not sure I can continue to justify the cost for a product I use up at a decently quick rate.  I'm trying out a couple less expensive options right now.



Body/Skincare
I've written about Earthpaste Toothpaste (review) and Acure's Unscented Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 Lotion (review) many times before.  Both are firm favorites and I've already started on new tubes of both.  I love Weleda, but I'm a little conflicted on the Sea Buckthorn Hand Cream.  I adore the scent, but I do think the Pomegranate Hand Cream is a bit more effective.  Both absorb incredibly fast, but the Pomegranate keeps my hands feeling moisturized for longer.  

This is my second sample of Weleda's One Step Cleanser & Toner and I'm still a fan for morning cleansing.  It's great for refreshing the skin, without being harsh or drying.  Pai's Rosehip Bioregenerate Oil is a bit of a cult favourite, and while I wasn't 100% convinced at first, by the second half of the bottle, I was sold.  It wasn't enough hydration for my skin this winter on its own, but I enjoyed mixing it with other oils, most recently jojoba and goji seed.  This is the only rosehip oil I've used, and while I do believe the combination of fruit and seed oils makes it better than your average rosehip seed oil, the frugal part of me wants to try another, less expensive one before recommitting to Pai's.  



Makeup/Samples
At the beginning of #NoBuyJanuary, I mentioned wanting to use up a bunch of lipstick samples, but so far, Zuzu Luxe's Indulgence is the only one to bite the dust.  It was a pretty color - a plummy-red with gold shimmer - but I'm not a huge fan of shimmer on the lips, so I doubt I'll be buying the full size.  The black rimmed pot was an older homemade lip balm that had been forgotten, but it was something I quite enjoyed once I rediscovered it.  
Lucy Minerals' Juicy Peach Blush is a gorgeous pale peach that might just be my all-time favorite blush color.  I'm not sure how it would suit darker skin tones, but on my fair skin, it looked very glowy and natural.  The sample alone lasted me months, but I'll definitely be ordering the full size at some point.  Another thing I'll be picking up soon is Silk Natural's Splendid Perfecting Glow.  The Perfecting Glows fall somewhere between finishing powders and highlighters and I liked using the Splendid to brighten up under the eyes.  It was slightly yellow-toned and worked really well at boosting other concealers and making everything look more fresh and awake.  

I managed to accumulate a number of Ella's Botanicals soap samples, but these are the last of them.  Skin Soother is very gentle and great for sensitive skin, or for dry, winter weary hands, which is how I used these last two.  I can't believe how many lip balms I've been burning through this winter, but at least I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed that process with these two.  Young Living's Vanillamint Lip Balm was a limited edition holiday flavour, but my favorite is still the lavender one, which is available year round.  Hurraw!'s Mint Lip Balm (review), while fantastic for indoor application, still isn't what I reach for before going outside and braving the elements.  The mint scent is very fresh and tingly.

And that's it!  My usually packed shower is so uncluttered right now, I can't even believe it.  I guess the combination of focusing on finishing things up and not bringing in any new product for January helped me get through a bunch more stuff than usual!

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