27 September 2014

DIY Apple Cider Vinegar + Rooibos Tea Clarifying Hair Rinse

I've mentioned struggling with buildup several times before, so I'm happy to report that I think I've finally found a fantastic, long term solution that works better than any clarifying shampoo or other store bought option I've tried.  Not only does this work, it's also inexpensive and incredibly easy to make.



The scalp - like the rest of our skin - has a natural pH of 4.5 - 5.5 and is protected by an acid mantle that provides a natural defense against harmful bacteria, viruses, and environmental hazards.  Soaps and shampoos - which often have a very basic pH - can disrupt this acid mantle, leaving your scalp more vulnerable.  Because of vinegar's acidity, vinegar rinses can help to bring your scalp back to a healthy pH and restore the acid mantle.  They're also great for killing bacteria and fungus, smoothing the hair cuticle, and reducing dandruff.

I add rooibos (or African redbush) mainly to temper the strong vinegar smell, but the tea also brings a whole host of other benefits.  Rooibos is high in Vitamin C and antioxidants, which help prevent free radical damage.  It's also high in flavonoids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and to reduce allergic responses and histamine release, making it excellent for anyone with scalp irritation or sensitivity.

The two combined make a versatile rinse that you can use every time you wash your hair or as a more occasional clarifying treatment.  I notice the best results when I use it occasionally - once every few weeks - and when I really saturate the hair and scalp with about 1/2 of this recipe each time.  I also follow with a conditioner, but you may or may not need that step, as the vinegar's conditioning and detangling properties may be sufficient for some people.

I haven't found any accounts of rooibos dying hair and I haven't noticed any change in my own hair color, but if you have light hair and want to err on the side of caution, I recommend replacing the rooibos with with a lighter colored tea like chamomile.

Now, on to the (super simple) recipe!

Ingredients
1 teaspoon rooibos tea leaves 
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 

Method
Steep tea in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.  Let cool and strain.  Add in apple cider vinegar and mix well to combine.  

To use, shampoo hair normally, then apply rinse, making sure to really work it into the scalp.  Let sit on hair for at least 5 minutes, then rinse out.  Follow with conditioner, as needed.  

Store any leftover rinse in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Have you tried ACV hair rinses before?


24 September 2014

Sample Stash #11: Eye Products

I've used Pure + Simple's Eye Brightening Cream for most of the last year, but when it ran out in August, I decided to dig out all my eye product samples and give them a whirl before replacing it. 

Here's what I had hanging around my stash and brief opinions on each:



Weleda Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream
I liked how lightweight this was during the hotter weather.  It gives a slight tightening feeling as it goes on, but it didn't do much of anything for my dark circles or puffiness.  Smelled fruity but not overpoweringly so.

Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Eye Cream
Still pretty light, but a little heavier than the Pomegranate, this was definitely my favorite of the two Weleda eye creams.  Again, I didn't notice drastic results, but it helped a little with puffiness and was great under makeup.  The scent was also mild and completely non-offensive, even for a non-rose lover like me.

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum
I love other Kahina products, but this one just didn't do it for me.  I didn't notice any difference in my eye area, and I wasn't impressed with the slight tacky film that the serum leaves behind after it dries.  Layering another cream on top gets rid of the tackiness, but I'm still not completely sold.

Consonant Ultra Moisturizing + Ultra Firming Organic Eye Creams
I'm grouping these together because, honestly, I didn't notice a big difference between the two.  They're both thick, rich, unscented creams that work really well for puffyness.  If puffy eyes are your main concern, they're fabulous - they work better in that regard than anything else I've tried - but they didn't do much for dark circles.  I also find them a little too heavy for mornings, if I don't have time to wait before applying makeup.

Young Living Wolfberry Eye Cream (not pictured)
When my mom heard I was testing eye creams, she gave me a sample of her eye cream to try too.  I used to use this as a teenager, and I do notice it makes my dark circles a little bit lighter.  It's good at night, but like the Consonant, I don't love it in the morning, since it needs that little extra time to soak in before I can comfortably apply concealer on top.

The Bottom Line
My under eye area is probably my biggest skin concern these days, so I can be a bit fussy with eye products.  I know you can't always adequately judge something like this from just using a sample, but nonetheless, none of these sold me enough that I'll be buying the full size.  I'm still on the fence about what I want to use.  I really like the Pure + Simple, but after almost a year, I'm up for using something different....

What are your favorite eye products?  I'm totally open to recommendations!


Contains affiliate links.

20 September 2014

The Cure Apothecary (Toronto)

Thursday night, I was able to attend a media meet and greet at Toronto's newest green beauty shop: The Cure Apothecary.  

I hear a lot of complaints about how difficult it is to find actual brick and mortar stores that sell natural products, so I'm grateful for the growing selection we have here in Toronto.  Joining fixtures like The Detox Market, Husk, and The Big Carrot, and literally steps from Logan & Finley, The Cure Apothecary is a welcome addition to Queen West.  

The store carries a curated selection of brands including John Masters, Skin Essence Organics, CV Skinlabs, One Love Organics, EvanHealy, and Antipodes.  

And now, a few photos to whet your appetite...







It's a great space and definitely worth popping into if you find yourself in Queen West!


18 September 2014

Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt


If you saw my End of Summer Favorites, it won't come as a great shock that I've got a fantastic new cleanser to talk about today.  Evolve is a British skincare line I've had my eye one for quite some time now.  The entire line is certified organic by Ecocert and every product contains at least 99.5% natural ingredients.  All the packaging is made of 100% recycled plastic and is fully recyclable, and the company makes a point of using fair trade ingredients whenever possible.  In addition, Evolve was founded on ideas of "affordable luxury," so the price point is pretty reasonable too.  As you might imagine, when I spotted the Gentle Cleansing Melt on sale back in July, I was quick to snatch it up.  

The Gentle Cleansing Melt is a unique hybrid between a traditional balm cleanser and a cleansing milk.  When you first squeeze it out of the tube, it has a thick, gel consistency, but as you massage it onto your (dry) face, the heat from your skin helps it melt into a soft, oily, balm consistency that easily spreads across your skin.  With the addition of water, it transforms again - this time, into a light, milky lather.

Like any non-emulsifying cleansing balm, the Cleansing Melt does a fantastic job breaking down face makeup and deep cleaning your pores.  The fact that it emulsifies is just icing on an already delightful cake.  If oil or balm cleansers make you nervous, you'll love the way that the final, milky texture rinses away clean with just a few splashes of water, although I usually do use a washcloth just to make sure everything is fully washed off.  In general, I like to double cleanse with another product following a balm cleanser, but I don't find it necessary with this one, since it washes away so clean.  I do like to use a separate eye makeup remover though, as it can be a struggle to take off tougher things like mascara and eyeliner with only the Cleansing Melt.

Evolve recommends the Gentle Cleansing Melt for sensitive and normal to dry skin, but I really think it could work for most skin types.  As cleansing balms go, it's on the lighter end - hydrating, yes, but not overly rich or heavy.  It also rinses away clean and doesn't leave behind any residue that might be problematic for oilier skin.  

The scent is also very neutral.  It's a soft vanilla that's noticeable as I'm massaging the balm into my skin, but it doesn't linger beyond that.



The Bottom Line
Evolve's Gentle Cleansing Melt feels like a great lazy girl's balm cleanser.  You get all the benefits of a traditional cleansing balm, without the struggle of trying to get it off your skin or the extra hassle of needing a second cleanse.  I like how simple the ingredients are and how it leaves my skin feeling very soft and comfortable.   

As far as I know, Evolve is not currently sold in North America, but I bought mine from Naturisimo who offers free (and incredibly quick!) worldwide shipping.

Ingredients: caprylic/capric triglyceride, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, aqua (water), sucrose laurate, sucrose palmitate, parfum (natural fragrance), tocopherol.


15 September 2014

The Starting Over Tag (I Filmed a Video!)

Sarah from Sugarpuffish tagged me to do the Starting Over Tag, and since I first saw this tag on Youtube, I decided to try something different and film a video, rather than doing an ordinary blog post.  

Actually hitting publish on this post is a lot more nerve wracking than normal, because it's me + the internet in a new way, but what the heck!  Please excuse the choppy editing and general awkwardness.



If you don't want to watch the video, here's a quick rundown of what I chose.  Where applicable, I've included a link to my full review.

Skin
1. Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser   [Review]
2. Karooch Hazelnut Oil
3. EvanHealy French Rose Clay Mask   [Review]
4. Epic Blend More Moisture Lip Balm (Unflavored)

Hair

5. Acure Organics Moroccan Argan + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo & Conditioner   [Review]
6. Kinky Curly Spiral Spritz   [Review]
7. Beautiful Curls Shea Butter Curl Reviving Tonic   [Review]

Body

8. Nourish Organics Body Wash   [Review]
9. Acure Organics Unscented Cocoa Butter + CoQ10 Body Lotion   [Review]

Makeup

10. Honeybee Gardens Pressed Powder Foundation (Geisha)   [Review]
11. Silk Naturals Sleep in a Jar (Light Peach)   [Review]
12. Faerie Organic Forty Winks Eye Shadow Primer   [Review]
13. Darling Girl Cosmetics Eye Shadow (Blitzen + Harvest Moon)   [Review]
14. Honeybee Gardens Eyeliner (Smoking Gun)
15. Zuzu Luxe The Mascara (Onyx)   [Review]
16. Mineral Fusion Nail Polish (Amethyst)

Contains affiliate links

6 September 2014

Burt's Bees Matte Lip Crayons in Carolina Coast & Hawaiian Smolder

I haven't kept up with Burt's Bees last few releases, but when I saw the brand was launching matte lip crayons, I knew I needed to get my hands on them.  I've yet to spot these in Canada, but I tracked them down early in August at a Walgreens in Niagara Falls, literally minutes from the border.

The crayons are available in six shades and I picked up the two pink ones.  There are also a couple reds,  a peachy one, and a pinky nude.


I like the twist up packaging - no sharpening required - and the embossed honeycombs on the lids are super cute.  The chubby crayons have no added scent or flavour, which depending on your preference, could be either a plus or a minus.  They're completely unscented and tasteless, without any of that natural oil taste/smell that you sometimes get, so even if you're someone who generally prefers flavored lips products, I don't think you'd be bothered by these.

The marketing for these crayons has put a lot of emphasis on their creaminess, and that's the one thing I'm not sure is entirely fitting.  The crayons aren't dry (or drying), but they aren't especially creamy either.  My favorite way to wear them is actually over top of a thin layer of lip balm.  It makes the colors go on a little less matte and you don't get quite as bold a color payoff, but its a worthwhile trade-off to me, since my lips feel that much better.

How about the colors I picked?

Carolina Coast is a cool-toned, mauvey pink.  It's like the color of my lips, only a little lighter and cooler.  A very wearable shade.

Hawaiian Smolder is a more vibrant, deep pink.  It goes on a little sheer, but you can still build it up for some serious color.  You can seen in the swatches that this one also has a tiny bit of a shine, compared to Carolina Coast.  Not glossy, but not 100% matte either.



The Bottom Line
I'm glad I managed to track these down.  Like with most Burt's Bees, the price point is good, and I'm happy with how the crayons perform.  I'm especially taken with Carolina Coast - it was probably my most worn lip color in August - and I'd even consider picking up another color or two, should they finally make their way to Canada.

2 September 2014

August Empties / Products I've Used Up

Not a ton of empties this month, but nearly everything is something I've either already repurchased or something I anticipate buying again in the not too distant future.  Here's what's headed to the bin this time around:



Suki Concentrated Balancing Toner (now the Concentrated Clarifying Toner)
I like the signature, lemony scent that most of Suki's line has, and the Balancing Toner was no exception.  It had a good, even spray and felt light and non-sticky going on - perfect for summer.  The trial size only lasted me about two weeks, but even in that short time, I noticed my pores looked cleaner and less visible.
Repurchase? Yes.

Vice1960 Facial Oil*   [Review]
Vice1960 was one of my favorite discoveries of this year and I particularly enjoyed this oil.  It's a gorgeous blend that includes hazelnut, radish, meadowfoam, and jojoba oils, and it consistently left my skin hydrated, glowy, and very clear.  The company is going to be launching five (!) new oils soon too, which is super exciting.   
Repurchase? Yes.

Aura Cacia Organic Argan Oil   [Review]
Argan was the first oil I really fell for and it's a still a staple in my haircare routine.  I use it on the ends  of my hair and also sometimes on my face too.  Aura Cacia's organic argan oil is affordable and the quality is generally great.  I've gone through multiple bottles without issue, but this particular one smelled strangely minty, even though it's labelled as 100% argan oil.  
Repurchase? Possibly.  I ordered Acure's argan oil this time, but I'd likely buy Aura Cacia's again too. I'm hesitant to order it online though, after the peppermint scent of this bottle.

Pure + Simple Eye Brightening Cream   [Review]
I wasn't completely sold on this eye cream when I wrote my original review, but I ended up picking up a full size jar anyways and slowly came to love it.  It doesn't do a lot for puffiness, but it's amazing on dark circles.  It's also gentle and very moisturizing without being heavy.
Repurchase? Yes.

Pretty Pure Radiance Day Cream   [Review]
I've enjoyed many of Pretty's products, but I think the Pure Radiance Cream is my favorite to date.  It's a rich cream, but it sinks in quickly and never leaves my face greasy or shiny, no matter how generously I slather it on.  It has a soft, neutral scent and is also the best base I've found for applying makeup.  It won't get rid of pores or fine lines like a silicone-based primer, but it does soften both, plus I think my makeup lasts better on top of this than anything else I've tried.
Repurchase? Definitely.

Peppy Galore Diva Face Moisturizer (sample)
I liked everything about this moisturizer except the vanilla scent.  Because of the smell, I actually ended up using most of my sample as a body moisturizer.  Peppy Galore has recently shut down, so I'm just as happy this didn't turn out to be a perfect product for me.
Repurchase? No.

Balm Balm Hibiscus Face Mask (sample)
Balm Balm's Hibiscus mask is a simple formulation made of just brown rice powder, hibisicus flowers, and rose geranium essential oil.  I think it'd be great for super sensitive skin that might not be able to tolerate other masks, but personally, I found it was so gentle that it didn't really do much at all.  The second time I used it, I boosted it with some green clay and I enjoyed the combination a lot more than I did this mask by itself.
Repurchase? Probably not.

EvanHealy Blue Rosehip Treatment Serum (sample)
I like EvanHealy's Rosehip serums, but in terms of what they do for my skin, I don't notice any difference compared to using a much less expensive, plain rosehip seed oil.  The Blue Serum is my favorite of the two though, purely because of the chamomile/lavender scent.  
Repurchase? No.

ZuzuLuxe The Mascara in Onyx   [Review]
Another tube bites the dust!  No matter how many other mascaras I try, I always come back to Zuzu.  It's gentle and doesn't irritate my eyes, plus it doesn't smudge or flake on me at all.
Repurchase? Yes, I already have.

And that was it for August.  I'm happy to use things up, as always, but I'm a little sad to see some of these products go!


*Press Sample
Contains affiliate links
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