5 New Things: The Summer Edit ft. PiperWai, Acure, Beauty Bay, Alba Botanica + Graydon

As August draws to a close, I thought it was a good time to share my thoughts on some new products I tried over the summer.  I've got makeup to talk about, skincare, and even a new deodorant... 

PiperWai Natural Deodorant*
PiperWai's deodorant is another potted cream deodorant but the formula is a little more complex than your standard coconut oil and baking soda recipe.  Notable ingredients include magnesium, an essential element that we lose through our sweat - significant because a magnesium deficiency causes us to sweat more - witch hazel, which has proven antibacterial properties, and activated charcoal, which can absorb up to 1000 times its weight in moisture.  Baking soda features much lower on the ingredients list than in many other deodorants, which in combination with skin conditioning ingredients like coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, rose water, and vitamin E makes for a super gentle formula.  I can even use it right after shaving without any irritation - something that's pretty much unheard of with baking soda deodorants.  The deodorant has a fresh minty/herbal scent from a proprietary blend of 11 essential oils and one application in the morning keeps me smelling super fresh all day long.

Courtesy of the charcoal, the deodorant is grey, but it rubs in clear and won't discolor the skin.  I did find it left a bit of white residue on dark clothes the first couple times I used it, but I think it was more an issue of over-application than anything else as since I've scaled back the amount of product I use, I haven't noticed any further marks on my clothes.

One thing I initially missed in the ingredients list is Japanese honeysuckle extract.  According to BeauTeaBar, it's a CO2-extracted honeysuckle made in the US without any added synthetics, which is certainly better than other forms of Japanese honeysuckle that have been shown to be contaminated with synthetic ingredients and other preservatives, but it's still not something I'm completely comfortable using.  In terms of performance, this is, without a doubt, one of the best natural deodorants I've used, but I won't repurchase it unless it's reformulated without the honeysuckle.

Beauty Bay SPF20 Mineral Foundation
I like glowier foundations and that's exactly what Beauty Bay's Mineral Foundation is.  Tiny microshimmers are visible in the jar, but once lightly buffed onto the skin, they translate to just a pretty, luminous finish with no sparkles in sight.  The only major downside is a limited shade selection, with only eight colors to choose from.  I tried the two lightest shades and neither one is a perfect match for me.  Vanilla (01) doesn't look all that yellow in the photos below, especially compared to Alba's Fast Fix for Undereye Circles, but it really is very yellow-toned.  The color is far too warm for my skin and leaves me looking slightly jaundiced.  I can work with Peach Silk (02), but it's really a bit too dark for my skin.
If you can find a color match, I think it's a great inexpensive mineral foundation.  The coverage is a buildable light to medium - depending on both the brush you use and how much you build it up - and like I said, I really do like the glowy finish it gives the skin.    The foundation also has SPF20 and is free of bismuth oxychloride.

Alba Botanica Fast Fix for Undereye Circles
Alba released four Fast Fix products early in the spring and as soon as I saw them, I knew I had to try this one on my troublesome under eyes.  Marketed as a "vanishing yellow concealer [that] neutralizes darkness to brighten tired eyes, while apple fruit, white lily, and caffeine help maintain even tone below the surface," it's basically a hybrid between an eye cream and a concealer or color corrector.  For that reason, my opinions are somewhat split.  

As a skincare product, I'm not impressed.  I haven't noticed any improvement in my dark circles in the five weeks I've been using the Fast Fix.  

As a color corrector, however, I think it works pretty great.  Straight out of the tube, the yellow color is intense - and a little scary if you're fair-skinned like me - but it blends easily and really does visibly brighten and reduce darkness under the eyes.  

Is it full coverage?  Absolutely not.  But, it's extremely lightweight, doesn't settle into fine lines, and makes an excellent first step that you can easily layer another product on top of.  I usually top it with a powder concealer like Silk Naturals' Sleep in a Jar or Brightening Concealer, which both sets it and adds extra coverage, but you could certainly go over it with another cream product if that's more your preference.  Depending on the severity of your dark circles, you might not even need to layer anything else on top.

Acure Cell Stimulating Facial Mask

Made with French green clay, argan stem cells, chlorella growth factor, CoQ10, and sea buckthorn oil, the Cell Stimulating Facial Mask is intended to draw out impurities while simultaneously infusing the skin with moisture and nutrients.  I don't typically find pre-mixed masks as potent or effective as powdered ones that you activate yourself and that's true here too, but I don't think it's a bad product by any means.  It won't revolutionize your skin in a single use, but if you aren't one to mess around with powders or you just want a quick and gentle product, it's a good option.  The mask is ready to go straight out of the tube and is a breeze to apply, plus it foams up slightly with water, helping it to rinse off easily too.

Graydon Superfood Mask + Scrub*
Speaking of powdered products, Graydon's new Superfood Mask + Scrub is a two-in-one powder that can be used and quickly washed off as a scrub or left on as a mask.  It comes in pre-portioned capsules, minimizing the risk of waste and spillage.  Each small capsule contains just enough product for one use and is packed with 19 superfoods intended to gently exfoliate and brighten the skin.  The impressive ingredients list includes a probiotic blend, vitamin C, white willow bark, green tea, zeolite, coconut water, licorice root, and activated charcoal - to name only a few. (Check out the entire list here.) 

Although you can use just water, Graydon recommends mixing the contents of a capsule with a milk or cream cleanser for a scrub, and that's been my favorite way to use this product.  A creamy base "gentles" the scrub, making it feel less abrasive than when it's mixed it with plain water, but it doesn't impact the effectiveness of the exfoliation. I've also enjoyed mixing a capsule into about an equal amount of clay to super-boost an otherwise ordinary clay face mask.

Have you used any of these products?  What new things have you been liking this summer?

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links.

Juice Organics Brightening Shampoo + Conditioner

It's no secret I've been loyal to Acure's Argan + Argan Stem Cell shampoo and conditioner these last couple years, but this summer brought with it an urge to switch things up, so I've been trying out a few new hair products.  First up, Juice Organics' Brightening Shampoo and Conditioner ($17 together, $10 each individually).  The Brightening hair products are marketed for clarifying and refreshing normal, oily, fine, and lackluster hair, but I picked them up purely based on the orange scent, which was my favorite of the brand's four hair care lines.  

My hair doesn't need clarifying products, but as it turns out, this shampoo was still a good choice as the Brightening Shampoo isn't actually all that clarifying.  It gets the hair clean, but I don't think it does a more thorough job than your average non-clarifying shampoo.  It's pretty gentle and I even find I need to double wash when I've used a lot of hair products or if my hair feels extra dirty that day.  

So, it doesn't live up to its clarifying claims, but what's really great about this shampoo is that it lathers easily and doesn't strip either the hair or scalp of moisture.  It also smells like a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and I really enjoy the scent.  

The Brightening Conditioner, however, was much less impressive.  First off, it's not at all what I'd expect from a clarifying line and is actually a very thick, heavy conditioner.  My hair is curly and can handle a good amount of moisture and richness, but I can only use the smallest amount of this conditioner or it leaves my hair feeling dirty, greasy, and weighed down.  And, despite the weight of the conditioner, I don't find it does a good job detangling and necessitates an additional leave-in conditioner or detangler in order to comb through my wet hair.  I also don't like how it smells.  While the shampoo has a refreshing orange scent, the conditioner smells to me like citrus crossed with rubber, which just isn't appealing in any way.  

The one thing the conditioner does have going for it is that it really does leave the hair looking beautifully shiny and glossy.  I can see a difference in the shine of my hair when I use this versus other conditioners, although to me, it's not significant enough to counter the other negatives this product has working against it.

The Bottom Line
The Brightening Shampoo smells great and makes an excellent day-to-day shampoo, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone looking for a truly clarifying product.   I did not enjoy the matching conditioner, which has a pronounced rubber-like scent, doesn't detangle very well, and often left my hair feeling greasy.  
Contains affiliate links

Brija Cosmetics Haul + Mini Reviews

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen that I placed an order with Brija Cosmetics during their two year anniversary sale.  Started by natural/nontoxic Youtuber Brianna (iluvjesse444), Brija Cosmetics makes natural mineral makeup that's vegan and cruelty free, as well as free of gluten and synthetic dyes and additives.  I received my order almost two months ago, so I've had lots of time to try these things out and am overdue to give you my thoughts on them!

Mean Girls Blush Collection
Despite not actually being a big fan of Mean Girls, the launch of this collection in the spring was what convinced me I needed to finally place an order with Brija.  I bought mini jars of three of the six shades in the collection and all three are lovely.  The colors are vibrant and pigmented - but not overly so to the point where they're hard to work with - blend easily, and have just the right amount of shimmer.  

Regulation Hottie is my favorite of out of everything I purchased.  A beautiful neutral pink, it's that effortless blush that you never have to think about because it goes perfectly with everything.  

Beware of Plastics looks very orange both in the pot and when swatched, but it has pink tones that become visible on the cheeks, turning it into more of a bright coral.  Especially gorgeous for summer!

Jungle Madness is the only color I'm a little disappointed with.  I wanted it to be a more vibrant version of Silk Naturals Abstract blush, one of my all-time favorite blushes, but on me, the magenta/purple tones aren't very noticeable and it leans mostly pink.  Still a pretty color, just not quite what I'd been hoping for.  

You Know Who Highlighter
You Know Who is gorgeous.  Part of Brija's Harry Potter collection, it has a pale cream/white base with multicolored sparks throughout, but no chunky glitter.  I was happily surprised by how wearable this is.  It's buildable, so a light dusting lends a beautiful natural glow and luminosity to the skin, while a more generous application works for a more intense highlight or strobing.  Either way, it looks beautiful and doesn't settle into or enhance pores, which is often my problem with highlighters.  It also works great as an inner corner highlight.

Jelly Balms
The Jelly Balms are described as having a smooth, silky lip balm-like feel and sheer color, which, as a tinted lip balm lover, sounded right up my alley. 

Yvonne is a sheer purple.  It looks dark and intimidating in the tube, but it applies as a sheer plum that's very easy to wear.  It's pigmented enough that I wouldn't be comfortable swiping it on blind, without a mirror, but it's nowhere close to full opacity.  

Sprinkles was a limited edition gift with purchase during the sale, but I hope Brianna will consider adding it to the permanent line.  It's a beautiful, barely there peach shade with gold shimmer.  Sprinkles also has added cocoa butter - which isn't in the permanent collection Jelly Balms - so it smells delicious, although I think I slightly prefer the feel of Yvonne on the lips over this one.  

(Top to Bottom) Sprinkles, Yvonne, You Know Who, Jungle Madness, Beware of Plastics, Regulation Hottie

I also picked up a couple samples (Hoola Hoop bronzer and Bachelor Watson eye shadow) and got a couple others free in my order, but I haven't used them much yet, so I'll have to update on those later.  

Have you tried Brija Cosmetics? 

Dr. Hauschka Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash

Dr. Hauschka has something of a cult following, but my own experiences with the brand have included a lot more misses than hits.  So, I'm excited to have discovered something from the line I can happily recommend.  I received the Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash in the December holiday swap I did with Inga from Organic Beauty Blogger, but because of my propensity for hoarding shower products, it's taken me all these months to actually crack it open and give it a try.

I'm a big fan of creamy, moisturizing body washes, and this one is no exception.  With a consistency similar to a thin lotion, it reminds me a lot of the Weleda Creamy Body Washes - in fact, it even smells similar to their citrus one - but the Dr. Hauschka is perhaps a slightly more rich and indulgent version.  The wash doesn't suds up a whole lot, so don't expect crazy bubbles, but it has good slip, spreads easily on the skin, and does lather up a little with water.  

The Lemon Lemongrass scent is bright and refreshing.  I don't smell a lot of lemongrass or really any of the ginger Dr. Hauschka's website describes, but I enjoy the citrus elements and that the scent is pretty mild and not overpowering.  As for the toning and firming properties,  I can't say I've noticed a difference in the weeks I've been using the body wash, nor am I convinced that a wash off product like this can accomplish much, but I'm never opposed to the potential for firmer skin.

For me, the best thing about this product is just how touchably soft it leaves the skin.  I've even skipped moisturizing a couple times during the time I've been using this and, to be completely honest, I haven't noticed much difference in the hydration of my skin on those days versus the ones when I have taken the time to apply a lotion or body oil.  

The Bottom Line
The Lemon Lemongrass Vitalising Body Wash has a great creamy and non-drying formula and I enjoy its light citrus scent as well.  It's been a great body wash during the summer and I think it would be excellent through the colder months too.  Particularly if you tend towards dry skin, or maybe just aren't an avid moisturizer, I think this is a great product to look into.

Tough to Transition: Mascara (+ My Top 3 Natural Mascara Recommendations)

Mascara preferences are a pretty individual thing, but what everyone can agree on is that it's one of the most challenging items to switch when transitioning to natural products.  Like a lot of other mainstream makeup, mascara is loaded with carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and other toxins, including parabens, coal tar dyes, talc, petroleum, propylene glycol, aluminum, synthetic fragrance, and formaldehyde releasers.  Mascara also often contains shellac, a bug-derived resin frequently linked to contact allergies, and thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that's been banned in children's vaccines, but is still permitted in cosmetics.

Making the Switch
I've gotten several emails recently asking for mascara recommendations, so I thought it was about time to share my favorites.  Before jumping into the specifics, I do want to say that if you're used to conventional waterproof mascara, it may not be possible to find a completely comparable clean replacement, since the waterproofing ingredients and plasticizers are the very ingredients you probably want to avoid.   If you can't completely rule out waterproof, maybe look for a gateway semi-clean formula, or limit it to just special occasions.  

My Eyes + Eyelashes
Since it's such a big determining factor in what makes a mascara work for one person and not another, let's talk about eyelashes.   My lashes are pretty healthy and have a natural curl and my eyes can be sensitive and are prone to watering.  So, what I look for in a mascara is something that adds volume, maybe a little length, and won't smudge, smear, or irritate my eyes. 

With that in mind, here are my top three recommendations:

Zuzu Luxe The Mascara
I've gone through 10-15 tubes of this over the years, no exaggeration, and it remains my fallback "safe" mascara.  I know it won't irritate my eyes and I'm confident it isn't going to give me raccoon eyes or flake off throughout the day either.  Seriously, me and this mascara have made it through some tough days together - snowstorms, dog baths, emotional drama, and 14-hour days sweating outside as a camp counselor - and it consistently holds up well.  The formula is on the drier side and it does a good job coating every lash and adding (subtle) volume.  It dries slightly firm on the lashes - though not horrible and crunchy - which I think would help hold a curl as well.

Lily Lolo Vegan Mascara
A much more recent discovery, the Lily Lolo mascara gives truly impressive volume and length.  One coat looks soft and natural, but add one or two more for seriously amped up, voluminous lashes.  The consistency is a little wetter than the Zuzu Luxe, but it's still on the thicker side.  The color is a very dark black and the mascara lasts just about all day without issue.  I get about 12 hours of perfect wear and then it starts to flake a tiny bit.

Physician's Formula OrganicWear Lash Boosting Mascara
I couldn't not list Physician's Formula, both because of its easy availability and inexpensive price point.  It's not nearly as smudge-resistant as the other two - in fact I struggled a bit in the winter with watery eyes - but as long as you stay relatively dry-eyed, it works well and it does give a beautiful, dark, fluttery lash.  I don't know that it necessarily made my lashes grow any more than normal, but they did seem full and healthy, and even slightly conditioned while I was using it.  I haven't tried all the OrganicWear mascaras, but this one is without a doubt my favorite of the three or four I have tested.

What's your favorite natural mascara?

Contains affiliate links.

July 2015 Empties / Products I've Used Up

This post is so far overdue that I considered just waiting until next month, but I really don't want to hang onto all this stuff any longer, so let's get to it!  This month's empties are a good mix of everything - skincare, hair care and body care, as well as some makeup samples I've been making an effort to try and clear out.

Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo
I bought this when I was having issues with buildup and an oily scalp and alternated between it and another non-clarifying shampoo.  The combination worked well without over-stripping or drying out my hair.  I figured out a few months ago that my scalp problems were more likely a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis, rather than just oilyness, and started treating that internally with oregano oil, and since then, my scalp issues have stopped, so I don't have any need for a clarifying shampoo anymore.  
Repurchase? For the time being, no.

Rachel's Plan Bee Original Body Polish*   [Review]
I've raved about the Rachel's Plan Bee body polishes several times now, so I won't go into too much detail here. These are one of my favorite scrubs.  The texture is perfect, they don't separate, and they're highly moisturizing, but not overly greasy or oily.
Repurchase? Yes.  There are a couple different scents I want to try in the future.

Meow Meow Tweet Grapefruit Mint Soap
I have problems with some bar soaps drying out my hands in the winter and unfortunately this was one of them.  The soap smelled nice and has worked great during the summer, but I had to put it away in the colder months when my hands became dry and cracked.
Repurchase?  Probably not.

Desert Essence Italian Lemon Hand and Body Lotion
I really enjoyed this lotion.  It was scented with only essential oils and had a much milder fragrance than most Desert Essence products.  My big nitpick is with the packaging.  The label started wearing off early and quickly began shedding blue flakes.  In and of itself, not terrible, but the flakes would magnetize and stick to anywhere I applied lotion, which became a big nuisance.  
Repurchase? Maybe.  The lotion itself was great, but I'm not sure I want to deal with the hassle of the label again.

Nourish Organic Wild Berries Body Wash
I featured this in my most recent favorites post, which is a pretty good hint about how I feel about this product.  Nourish's body washes are a longtime favorite of mine and the berry scent is really lovely.  It's sweet and fruity but also has an herbal/fresh note that keeps it from being overly saccharine or sickly.  
Repurchase? Yes.

Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Oil*   [Review]
This is a great multi-purpose oil to have on hand.  Made with just almond and plum kernel oils, it has a light marzipan-y scent and is very soothing and gentle on the skin.  I liked it a lot as both a regular face oil and to remove eye makeup, and I even used the last inch or so of the bottle as an allover body oil.  I'm actually very tempted to buy it again specifically to use on my body, as it left me with the softest skin ever.
Repurchase? Maybe.

Weleda Rosemary Conditioning Hair Oil*   [Review]
I mostly used this oil as a leave-in on my ends, but I also used it as a pre-shower treatment a couple times too.  Honestly, my hair is easygoing when it comes to oils, so I don't notice a huge difference between different ones, but this one worked well.  It smelled like rosemary and did a good job taming minor frizz and flyaway hairs. 
Repurchase? I'm not sure

Acure Marula Oil
I'm a little conflicted on this marula oil.  I loved it at first, but partway through the bottle, it stopped agreeing with me.  It stopped absorbing into my skin at all and would just sit on top and feel greasy.  I used the last half as a body oil and while it was fine in that capacity, it wasn't anything spectacular.
Repurchase? Probably not.

Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner
I used another mini Feed Your Ends a couple years ago, and while the first one didn't impress me all that much, I really loved it this time around.  On my hair, it feels very lightweight and non-greasy and I also enjoy Yarok's signature lemon scent.  I used the spray mainly as a refresher on dry second-day hair, but it's also marketed as a heat protectant.  
Repurchase? Yes.  I have a couple other hair products to use up first, but I think this will be my next purchase after those.

Triumph & Disaster Old Fashioned Shave Cream (samples)
Triumph & Disaster is marketed as a men's line, but the Shave Cream certainly works for women too.  With a lotiony consistency and a great cushiony feel, it worked really well and, though definitely more of a masculine scent, I thought it smelled great too.  That said, as much as I enjoyed it, as someone who doesn't even buy shave cream half the time - that's what failed conditioners are for! - I can't see myself spending the extra money on a higher end shave cream.  tl;dr: Great product, but a little pricey for what it is.
Repurchase? I doubt it.  

Weleda White Mallow and Calendula Face Creams (samples)
I've used samples of both of these creams before, and they're okay.  The White Mallow contains coconut oil, which doesn't tend to agree with my face, and I don't love the scent of Weleda's Calendula line, so I actually used these sachets on my body, not my face.
Repurchase? No.

Studio 78 Off We Go Concealer in At Dawn (01) (sample)
I'm going to do a full review of this concealer once I get around to ordering the full size, so I'll save the details for that post.  Needless to say, I like it.  It's a much-talked about product amongst green bloggers, but I'd say it's worth the hype.
Repurchase? Yes, I plan to very soon.

Ilia Vivid Concealer in Cassava (C1) (sample)
The concealer itself was okay - light to medium coverage and nothing extraordinary - but what tipped this product over for me was the smell.  I don't even know what it smelled like, but it was fairly strong and I was not a fan.  I know I swatched this in The Detox Market a few months ago and I don't remember noticing a smell then, so I'm wondering if this sample just went off or something.
Repurchase? Definitely not.

Mineral Foundation Samples
I've been working through an accumulation of mineral foundation samples the last couple months.  I ran out of ones that actually matched me, so this batch is a mix of ones that, by themselves, did not, but I was able to mix and tinker between the lot to make them work.  Lucy Minerals is still the biggest standout for me and unmatched by any other mineral foundation I've tried in terms of both coverage and lasting power.  I also like Urban Minerals a lot and The All Natural Face foundation is okay too, though pretty light coverage.  As I've said before, I'm not a big fan of the Alima Pure foundation, which I find disappears off my face by halfway through the day.
Repurchase? I'm leaning towards going back to Lucy Minerals when I next need foundation, but I'd also consider purchasing Urban Minerals.

Real Purity Desert Rose Blush (sample)
Desert Rose is a very pigmented matte mauvey-rose shade.  I liked it, but it needed extra care and blending to not look ridiculous and clown-like on my fair skin.  I enjoyed using the sample, but considering the number of blushes I have and the little bit of extra work this one required, I'm not sure I liked it enough for a full size purchase.
Repurchase? Probably not.

Total Products Used Up in July
Skincare: 2  (Lip Balms: 0)
Bodycare: 4

Haircare:  3
Makeup: 0
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 5
Makeup Samples: 7

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 23 (Lip Balms: 7)
Bodycare: 28

Haircare:  9
Makeup: 9
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 54 

Makeup Samples: 19

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links