30 June 2015

Tough to Transition: Medicated Lip Balm

In the four years (!!) since I started this blog, I've gotten a lot of emails and questions about product recommendations, and more specifically, about natural replacements for certain types of products.  With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts encompassing some common questions I've received, as well as some of the products I personally found most difficult to transition to natural and nontoxic options.  Starting us off, let's talk about a product that doesn't get mentioned very much: medicated lip balm.

What's so wrong with medicated lip balm?
In addition to the regular nasties found in conventional lip balm - things like petroleum, silicones, parabens, and synthetic fragrance - medicated lip balms contain ingredients like phenol, an antibacterial and analgesic ingredient linked to neurotoxicity and respiratory, kidney, and cardiovascular problems, docosanol, a topical drug that's been linked to headaches and has not yet been tested for safety with pregnant and breastfeeding women, and chemical sunscreens, linked to free radical damage, cancer, and endocrine and hormone imbalances.  And consider this - the labels on both ChapStick and Blistex Medicated Lip Balms include warnings to "Keep out of reach of children.  If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away."  Now, I'm sure they're referring to swallowing larger quantities than a couple swipes across your lips, but do you really want to be putting something with a poison control warning on your mouth??
I'll be totally honest: I've never used a conventional medicated lip balm.  But, from what I've seen, people opt for these choices over regular lip balm for one of three basic reasons: i) to treat cold sores, ii) for sun protection (SPF), or iii) because they like the tingle and/or numbing sensation from phenol, menthol, eucalyptus, camphor, and/or mint.  

So, with that in mind, I've got replacement options to suit all three uses.  I've tried most of them personally, but a couple I've included just based on ingredients and positive hearsay.   

I  also want to mention that I came across more than one article on the habit-forming nature of ingredients like phenol in lip balm, so if you're making the switch, keep in mind that it may take some time to break your lips of that dependency.

Lip Balms for Cold Sores
There's a ton of anecdotal evidence about treating cold sores with the amino acid lysine.  Lysine won't cure the actual herpes virus behind the cold sore, but it's a popular holistic treatment for outbreaks and can both prevent the onset of a sore, if caught early enough, and speed up healing time of any sores that do erupt.  (Along with applying it topically, lysine is great to take internally for cold sores too.)  Other good ingredients to watch for when targeting cold sores are tamanu oil, melissa/lemon balm, and tea tree.  

I don't recommend the popular Quantum lysine lip balms due to their chemical sunscreen content, but MyChelle makes a great alternative.  The Love Your Lips Lip Balms come in four flavors and are made with both lysine and lemon balm.  They don't have any listed SPF content, but they do contain titanium dioxide, so there's a good chance you're getting at least minimal sun protection.

Badger's new Tea Tree & Lemon Balm Herbal Lip Care is another great choice and certified organic as well.  Along with tea tree and lemon balm, it also contains tamanu oil and peppermint oil and menthol crystals for a refreshing minty tingle.  The Herbal Lip Care is available in both Badger's classic lip balm and cocoa butter lip balm formulas.  

Lastly, the Sierra Bees Organic Tamanu & Tea Tree Lip Balm is another good one, although bear in mind that this one does have a pretty strong tea tree oil taste.  It also doesn't seem to be sold on its own right now, just in the Sierra Bees Variety Pack.  

Lip Balms with SPF
As I said before, chemical sunscreens are not ingredients I favor, so these two picks both offer mineral-based sun protection.  My top choice is the Hurraw! Sun Protection Balm with SPF 15, which smells great and is made with non-nano zinc oxide.  It goes on clear, without any whitecast, and is also made with red raspberry seed, sea buckthorn, and pomegranate seed oils, which have SPF and antioxidant properties of their own.

Badger is the first company I think of when it comes to safe sunscreen and their Sunscreen Lip Balm Stick (SPF 15), made with non-nano uncoated zinc oxide, is another good option.  It's unscented and more longwearing than the Hurraw!, but it can leave a whitecast on your lips.  For that reason, this is a great one for layering under a colored lip product.

Lip Balms with a Minty Tingle
The Hurraw! Mint Lip Balm is not for the faint of heart!  I finished my tube a while back, but I remember not wanting to venture outside in the winter with this on because of just how cold and minty it felt on my lips.

For slightly less punch, but still a decent minty tingle, Portland Bee Balm's Oregon Mint Lip Balm is an excellent choice.  With only four ingredients, the peppermint is noticeably tingly, but not as strong as in the Hurraw!  

On the more mild end of the spectrum, Epic Blend's Mint Hemp Lip Balm is fantastic.  It gives just the slightest tingle, but moisturizes like a dream and has a wonderful fresh peppermint/spearmint scent that reminds me of chewing gum. 

Burt's Bees Soothing Lip Balm with Eucalyptus and Menthol also sounds promising, though I haven't used it myself to gauge how strong the cooling sensation actually is. 

And that's a wrap!  Let me know if there are any particular kinds of products you'd like to see featured in upcoming posts for this series.   

Contains affiliate links

29 June 2015

A Sunny Pedicure for Summer

I'm not one for professional pedicures, but I do enjoy taking a little extra time to do my own, at home version.  I don't think we appreciate just how much of a beating our feet take until sandal season is upon us, but those tootsies definitely deserve some TLC too!  I've gotten into a bit of a routine with my feet pampering products recently, so I thought I'd share those with you, as well as a new nail polish find that's perfect for summer.  


Priti NYC Soy Nail Polish Remover
Switching from conventional nail polish remover is a challenge, but Priti makes it a little easier.  Along with the toxins, you can say goodbye to dried out nails and that horrible acetone smell.  The Soy Nail Polish Remover actually leaves your nails feeling moisturized and cared for, and rather than smelling like chemical solvents, it has a subtle lemongrass scent.   (There's also an unscented version available.)  And, yes, it actually works too.  You'll want to allow a little extra time for glitter polishes, but everything else comes off pretty darn easily.

Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polish*
I love a good DIY scrub, but there's something extra special about the Rachel's Plan Bee Body Polishes.  Aside from smelling great - this one is the company's signature vanilla/citrus scent - they also have the most perfect consistency.  There's no separating, and with ingredients like shea butter and Moroccan lava clay, the texture is buttery rather than oily, like you find with a lot of other scrubs.  The sugar crystals are gentle enough for your entire body, but with a little extra buffing, they easily take on rough, seasoned feet too. 

Ellovi Mint Chocolate Butter
I've been savoring this small sample that came in a Petit Vour box several months back and happily a small amount goes a long way with this product, so it's still hanging on.  With only six ingredients - macadamia oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, non-GMO corn starch, and peppermint essential oil - Ellovi Butter is a smooth, rich moisturizer that actually has the consistency of soft butter.  It's an intense moisturizer that melts into the skin beautifully and is perfect for feet or other extra dry spots, though you could, of course, use it on the rest of your body too.  I also can't get enough of the Mint Chocolate scent.  It's reminiscent of Thin Mints or mint chocolate chip ice cream: minty and chocolatey, but not overly sweet or cloying.  

Sheswai Lacquer in Good Vibes
Early this spring, I got a random yearning for a particular shade of yellow nail polish - something bright (but not neon) and with a cream finish - and ever since then, I've been on the hunt for what's turned out to be a surprisingly illusive shade.  So, when I spotted Good Vibes on sale from Clementine Fields, I quickly snagged a bottle.  I will say, while the color is on point, the formula isn't the best.  This is the only Sheswai polish I've used, so I don't know if it's the individual color or the entire line, but Good Vibes needs a little more work than your average nail polish.  I wasn't at all impressed the first time I wore it, but after redoing my nails, I've realized the key is multiple thin coats and plenty of drying time in between.  It's certainly a fussier polish, as yellow polishes tend to be, but the color really is beautiful for this time of year.

Pacifica 7 Free Gloss Top & Base Coat
I bought this a couple months ago and I have nothing bad to say about it.  It's great as a base coat to prevent staining and also as a top coat, lending a great, glossy finish.  And, it also works well to smooth out rougher glitter polishes and dries pretty quickly too.  I'll definitely be trying more Pacifica polishes in the future!

The nail polishes may change, but the rest of the products stay pretty constant.  What are your mani/pedi essentials?

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links


20 June 2015

All About Brows (Zuzu Luxe, Lily Lolo, Bare Minerals, Silk Naturals + More!)

It's fair to say, aside from plucking the occasional stray hair, I hardly touched my eyebrows before about six months ago.  I didn't know what I was doing, plus I'm lucky enough to have pretty decently shaped brows naturally, so I just never felt the need.  That's gradually changed and while I still like a natural looking brow, I've discovered how much of a difference a little filling in can make.  I've experimented with a number of different products over the last few months and today I want to run you through the gamut of what I've tried...


THE PENCILS

Zuzu Luxe Cream Brow Pencil in Russet

The best part of Zuzu Luxe's Cream Brow Pencil is its consistency.  It's not so creamy that it slides around, but also not so firm that you feel like you're scratching your face to deposit any color.  It lasts all day and the spoolie on the back end also comes in handy.  Russet is a light taupe shade and a pretty good match, though I feel like it could be slightly ashier.  

Bare Minerals Frame & Define Brow Styler in Universal Light

This is the only retractable brow pencil I've found with good ingredients and I love it!  With a spoolie on one end, plus a small tip and no sharpening required, it's very quick to use and Universal Light is a surprisingly perfect color for me.  It's a soft taupe that looks the most natural out of everything I've tried.  A lot of the reviews on the Bare Minerals website mention the lead breaking easily, but I twist up just enough product so I can apply it, and I haven't had any problems.  

Beauty Without Cruelty Eye Defining Pencil in Soft Brown

This is a terrible eyeliner with a hard, waxy consistency, but it delivers enough color to work surprisingly well as an eyebrow pencil.  It has great staying power and I love how cool-toned of a brown it is, although it's a little too dark of a shade for me.  I passed this on to my mom, who has slightly darker hair and she seems to like it.

THE CREAMS, POWDERS & WAXES

Cheeky Cosmetics Brow Powder in Blonde and Light Brunette

These powders were my very first foray into filling in my eyebrows a couple years back and, to put it bluntly, it didn't go very well.  They're very pigmented, to the point where it's difficult to sheer the colors out enough to appear natural, and I find a loose powder challenging to work with in this capacity.  I also didn't find a color match.  Blonde is too light for me and Light Brunette has some odd, greenish undertones that didn't work either.  

Lily Lolo Eyebrow Duo in Medium

By far my favorite of the non-pencil options, Lily Lolo's Eyebrow Duo includes both a pressed powder and a wax.  The powder gives a very soft, buildable color and the wax is creamy, goes on clear, and does a good job holding stray hairs in place without feeling crunchy.    Medium is a mid-toned brown.  It's not overly warm, but I wouldn't complain if it was a little more ashy. (Are you sensing a pattern here?)

I also have the Lily Lolo Angled Brow Spoolie Brush*, which I've used in conjunction with the duo.  Because I don't have a lot to fill in, I wish the angled side was a little thinner for more precision, but it's still a very functional brush.  


Silk Naturals Brow Cream in Medium Brown

Silk Naturals' Brow Creams provide color and hold, plus offer some conditioning benefits for your brows.  The texture is that of a solid cream, almost like a lipstick, and once it's in your brows, the cream sets and does a good job keeping both the color and your brow hairs in place.  These are popular in the green beauty community and I can see why, as the cream is an easy product to work with and the color is nicely buildable.  I don't, however, love how it feels in my brows: heavy and a little stiff.  Medium Brown leans pretty warm, so I imagine Medium Ash, its cooler counterpart, might also have been a better color choice for me.    

The All Natural Face Vegan Eye Brow Wax

A clear wax, this has a much drier texture than the Lily Lolo wax and feels very comparable to an extra waxy lip balm.  It's a light hold product and while fine to hold a few stray hairs in place, I'm not sure it would do the trick for really wild, all over the map brows.  I also don't find the hold lasts all day, though it's easy enough to reapply, if you're so inclined.


The Bottom Line
I haven't filled in my eyebrows for very long, but I feel like I've tried a good number of products in a short time! On an everyday basis, my favorite is the Bare Minerals Frame & Define, as I find a pencil is the quickest and easiest method and the Bare Minerals is the most natural looking color I've found.  The Zuzu Luxe is a pretty close second and when I have a little more time, I also really like the way my brows look with the Lily Lolo duo.  The rest are products I would be unlikely to buy again, either for color reasons or just because I wasn't overly wowed.

What are your favorite eyebrow products?


*Press Sample
Contains affiliate links

17 June 2015

Pure Daily Essentials Pure Necessities Set

When it comes to trying new skincare brands, there isn't a lot I love more than a good trial set.  After all, who wants to invest in expensive, full size products only to find out they don't work for you?  Trial sets are a great way to sample a number of products and get a feel for a line without a big financial investment.  Pure Daily Essentials, a small handcrafted skincare company based in British Columbia, kindly sent me their Pure Necessities Set* - minus the facial bar, which contains palm oil - and I've been enjoying trying everything out over the last couple months.  The Pure Necessities set retails for $39.99 and includes mini sizes of seven products.  Keep reading for my take on the set and the individual products: 

Pure Necessities Set (Full size Facial Cream pictured)
Make-Up Remover
The Make-Up Remover is an oil-based makeup remover made with sweet almond and olive oils, plus comfrey root, calendula and chamomile extracts.  As you would expect from the ingredients, it feels very gentle on the skin, but still does a fantastic job removing makeup.  The oil is scented with lavender essential oil, making it a great product to wind down with at the end of the day.  I generally follow the Make-Up Remover with another cleanser, but I wouldn't say it's absolutely necessary.  It's not a product that will splash away with water like an emulsifying cleanser, but it does wipe off fully with a damp washcloth.

Revive Hydration Mist in Sandalwood
The Hydration Mists are blends of water and essential oils intended to bring hydration and balance to the skin.  The Sandalwood Mist is made with sandalwood, as well as geranium, palmarosa, vetiver and ylang ylang.  The 10 ml size is a little too small to form a full opinion, but I enjoyed it - it feels refreshing and has a grounding, earthy scent from the sandalwood and vetiver.  I also appreciated that the tiny spray bottle is glass rather than plastic.

Age Defense Facial Cream
This cream is an interesting midway point between a traditional cream, an oil, and a balm.  Dipping into the jar, it feels like a soft balm, but the product melts into a light oil consistency as you work it into the skin.  With a base of coconut and sunflower oils, unfortunately my skin did end up reacting a little after a few days, so if coconut oil tends to be an issue for you, I wouldn't recommend it.  It did initially leave my skin feeling nicely moisturized and very soft.

Ageless Eyes Advanced Eye Treatment
The Advanced Eye Treatment has a lot of overlapping ingredients with the Age Defense Facial Cream, but used just in the eye area, I didn't experience any problems.  In fact, this ended up being my favorite product of the bunch, and since I tend to be especially hard on eye products, that's not something I say lightly.

Again, this has a soft, balm-like consistency and melts into an oil with the heat of your skin.  I've mostly stuck to using this product in the evenings as it takes a few minutes to completely sink in, and in the morning my eyes are noticeably less puffy and dark circles seem a little lighter too.  

Peppermint Lip Balm
The Peppermint Lip Balm is a nice basic lip balm with a minty tingle.  It has a light, non-waxy feel and really sinks into the lips.  Because of how fully it absorbs, the balm feels very healing and nourishing.  It's not the kind of protective product I'd reach for before venturing out into a snow storm, but it's great for indoors or during the warmer months.

Lavish Hydration Calendula
The Lavish Hydration lotions are body lotions intended to deeply nourish and hydrate the skin.  The Calendula lotion is extra soothing with calendula, comfrey and chamomile and has a thin consistency and a feel that reminds me a little of some body oils, in that while it rubs in easily, it takes several minutes to absorb and also leaves the skin with a slight dewy, glossy appearance.  I don't love the scent, a floral-smelling mix of ylang ylang, sweet orange and benzoin, but I do enjoy how soft and hydrated the lotion leaves my skin.  

The Bottom Line
Pure Daily Essentials has some lovely products and the Pure Necessities Set is a good way to try several at once.  With the exception of the Age Defense Facial Cream, which didn't agree with my skin, I enjoyed trying everything, though the standout products for me were the Make-Up Remover and Eye Treatment.

*Press sample

12 June 2015

5 New Things (Isabella's Clearly, Yosh Konjac, Silk Naturals + More!)

In spite of not spending much on beauty products these last several months, I've still managed to get my hands on a few new items.  Here are five new things I've been trying out recently, both from new-to-me brands and old favorites:


Isabella's Clearly Wave*
Wave blends together Himalayan sea salt crystals and a base of jojoba and olive oils, creating a unique texturizing oil that's a hybrid between a sea salt spray and a regular hair oil.  I don't recommend dousing your hair in the oil - like you might with a watery texturizing spray - but a conservative amount run through the lengths of the hair helps define curls and minimizes frizz without weighing down hair.  The scent - a mix of jasmine and basil essential oils - is sweet and floral, with just a hint of earthiness from the basil.

Silk Naturals Brightening Concealer
A recent release, the Brightening Concealers are loose powder concealers with a soft focus, subtly radiant finish.  I've used Silk Naturals Sleep in a Jar for years and these seem similar, only amped up a little.  They're still sheer, but offer a little more coverage than Sleep in a Jar and do a great job softening and blurring fine lines and small blemishes.  Made with silica and ceramic microspheres, they also feel buttery and blend into the skin very easily.  

I've been testing out a sample of #2 - advertised as a dupe for Anastasia's Banana Powder - which is a little too dark for me, though it still works okay.  Priced at $6.50, the concealers are crazy affordable and I'm already planning to order full sizes of both #1 and #2, as I suspect the two mixed together will make my perfect shade.  

Young Living Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is extracted from the dried seeds of the wild carrot plant, also known as Queen Anne's lace.  It's most often recommended for mature skin and anti-aging, but with a high antioxidant content, natural SPF, antiseptic properties, and radiance boosting effects, carrot seed oil should appeal to virtually everyone.  I've only mixed it into face masks so far, but I'm curious to try it other ways too and I'll report back once I've done a little more experimenting.

Andalou Naturals Lime Blossom and Clementine Hand Creams
After seeing Andalou's hand creams recommended by both Mary (Makeup by Mary B) and Nicole (Live It, Love It, Green It), I ordered the Lime Blossom and Clementine varieties from iherb, where they're currently on super sale for $3.99.  The two have slightly different ingredients, but both feel nourishing and absorb quickly without any greasy or oily residue.  The scents are pretty light, though I'm still surprised how much I love the sweet, tropical scent of the coconut water-infused Lime Blossom.  It's not at all a sunscreeny coconut, but it does smell like summer in a bottle with a mix of coconut, lime, and mint.   The Clementine is a bright citrus scent and a little more subtle than the Lime Blossom.  

Yosh Konjac Cherry Blossom Konjac Sponge*
As soon as I return to cleansing with a konjac sponge, I always wonder what took me so long!  The biggest change I notice is just how clean these vegetable fiber sponges keep my pores.  Yosh Konjac is a new company to me, but I like that they're Canadian and that the sponges are completely natural, cruelty-free, and free of artificial coloring and preservatives.  The Cherry Blossom Sponge is handmade in Japan with 100% pure konjac fibers infused with cherry blossom leaf essence and pink clay and is suitable for all skin types and said to encourage skin revitalization and luminosity.  

What new products have you tried recently?


*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

4 June 2015

Balanced Guru Toners: Tone It Lightly, Tone It Smoothly + Tone It Deeply

Balanced Guru is a brand I'm becoming increasingly fond of.  The Calming Masque has become one of my favorite skincare items and a staple in my routine, and when I last needed to replenish my supply, I decided to give the company's toners a try as well.  Like all Balanced Guru products, the toners are cruelty free, USDA certified organic, and are made with natural, raw, and sustainably harvested ingredients.



My favorite of the three is Tone It Lightly, a purifying toner intended for oily and congested skin.  With ingredients like witch hazel, thyme, tea tree, lemon verbena, nettle and arnica, the toner is lightly astringent and is intended to balance excess oil production without drying out the skin.  My skin isn't overly oily, but I am prone to clogged pores and congestion on my cheeks and Tone It Lightly did a great job keeping that at bay.  I also liked its herbally-citrus scent and that, as promised, it didn't dry out my skin in the slightest.

I've also enjoyed using Tone It Smoothly, which is intended to calm and maintain sensitive or mature skin.  With a gentle formula and plenty of soothing ingredients like rose, chamomile, lavender and geranium, I found myself reaching for this one less on a daily basis and more often as a gentle mist to re-hydrate face masks or keep them from drying too quickly on my skin.  Tone It Smoothly contains a lot of floral ingredients, but the scent is actually very mild and not overpowering in the least.

Last in the range is Tone It Deeply, the weightiest of the three.  Made with aloe vera, green tea, kelp and spirulina, this toner is made for dry and combination skin and is intended keep pores clean while simultaneously hydrating and encouraging skin renewal.  It's possible I would enjoy this one more in the colder months, but at least right now, I find it sits a little heavy on the skin.  It's not sticky, but it feels more substantial than the other two.  I'm not totally enamored with the scent either, a blend of sweet orange, patchouli, rosemary, benzoin, cedarwood, and carrot seed essential oils.  I'm not a big patchouli fan and to my nose, that's by far the dominant scent.

The Bottom Line
I've most enjoyed using Tone It Lightly and Tone It Smoothly, but I think all three are great, depending on preference and individual skin needs.  The toners are all gentle and are made with fantastic, natural and organic ingredients.  It's also worth mentioning that these toners - even in the trial size - give a wonderful, light, easily-controlled, even mist: the best of any spray toner I've tried.  

Have you used anything from Balanced Guru?


2 June 2015

May 2015 Empties / Products I've Used Up

It's time for more empties!  These are the products I finished up during the month of May:



Badger Seabuckthorn Face Cleansing Oil*   [Review]
This is a great cleansing oil, although because it contains menthol, I didn't find it comfortable to use around the eyes.  The oil easily removed every speck of makeup, and I liked the fresh feeling the menthol left on the rest of my face.  I've read reviews from people who has no issues, so depending how sensitive you are, it might be fine around the eyes.
Repurchase? Maybe.  I'd probably opt for one of the menthol-free varieties before buying this particular one again.

Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Skin Tonic*   [Review]
The Skin Tonic ended up being my favorite product from Nonie of Beverly Hills.  Contrary to the name, it's not an exfoliating toner with AHA's, but rather a gentle witch hazel-based tonic.  My skin does well with witch hazel and I noticed my pores looked smaller and more refined while I was using this.  Even the scent - which I described in my original review as lemon/celery - grew on me by the end of the bottle.
Repurchase? I'm definitely considering it.

Honest Co. Shampoo & Body Wash   [Review]
The Honest Co.'s Sweet Orange Vanilla scent is common across several products in the line, but it smells slightly different in each one and the Shampoo & Body Wash is by far my favorite.  It's a perfect, fruity, juicy creamsicle scent.  The product itself is great too, but what keeps me coming back is the scent.  I don't generally use it as a shampoo, but it works in a pinch.
Repurchase? Yes!  I still have one more bottle, but I could see myself buying more after I finish that one.

Nourish Organic Lemon Thyme Moisturizing Cream Body Wash
Nourish's Body Washes are some of my favorites, but I didn't much care for this particular scent.  It smelled very herbal and almost medicinal.  I ended up going a little heavy handed in the shower in order to get through it quicker.
Repurchase? Yes, but not this particular scent.

Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream
I think this would be a good eye cream for someone without a lot of problems in the eye area, but I need something that targets both dark circles and puffiness and it didn't cut it.  It moisturizes well and makes a good, lightweight base for makeup, but I didn't notice any real difference beyond that.
Repurchase? Very unlikely.

Andalou Naturals Chia + Omega Radiant Skin Polish
I love scrubs, but usually as soon as I finish one up, I'm ready to move on to something new.  Not at all the case with this one!  It has the perfect amount of grit to effectively slough off dead skin, housed in a gentle, creamy base.  It's part of Andalou's Brightening line, and I really did notice my skin looked extra bright and healthy on days when I used this product.  It also never left my skin red or irritated and it smelled like peach pie!  I can see myself coming back to this scrub again and again.    
Repurchase? Definitely!  I have a couple other scrubs I'd like to use up first, but I'm already missing this one!

Curelle Build-Up Remover
Customers used to rave about this product when I worked at the health food store, but it made zero difference on my hair.  The directions say to work it into wet hair, add your regular shampoo, and then rinse both out together.  Maybe it works better on chlorine or mineral build up - which is what it was originally designed for - but it does nothing for product build up or even regular scalp oils.  It did, however, still manage to dry out the lengths of my hair.
Repurchase? No.

Balanced Guru Scrub Me (sample)
I pretty much love everything I've tried from Balanced Guru and this scrub was no exception.  Made with a mix of coffee and raw sugar, it gives a thorough exfoliation, but doesn't feel harsh on the skin.  The texture was a lot drier than most other scrubs I've used, so it washes away cleaner and doesn't leave much of a moisturizing film behind on the skin.  I always moisturize post-shower anyways, so that was fine, and I loved that it didn't muck up the bathtub like a lot of oilier scrubs.  The scent is also lovely: a mix of fresh coffee and spearmint.
Repurchase? I make my own scrubs most of the time, but maybe one day.

Meow Meow Tweet Lavender Deodorant Cream
As long as you aren't overly sensitive to baking soda, this is a great deodorant.  With a softer consistency than many other cream deodorants, it's easy to apply and I found the odor protection lasted all day long.  The baking soda did cause some irritation if I used it too many days in a row, but nowhere near as bad as I've experienced from other deodorants. 
Repurchase? Probably not.  Since finishing this, I've found another baking soda deodorant I like more (more on that soon!) and I'm still curious to try Meow Meow Tweet's Baking Soda Free version too.  

Sante Nail Polish Remover   [Review]
This was a never-ending bottle of nail polish remover!  I bought it over two years ago and aside from a brief dalliance with Priti NYC's remover wipes, this is all I've used in that time.  It works well on cream formulas, but any amount of glitter - or sometimes even a metallic finish - will have you scrubbing your nails for ages to get the polish off.  Aside from its efficacy, my main issue was with how the remover smelled.  Sante advertises an orange scent, but all I smelled was a mix of chemicals and sour milk.  Which wouldn't be so terrible if it didn't linger.  I had to store the bottle triple-bagged just so I wouldn't smell it in the room and any cotton balls I used had to immediately be taken out to the trash.  
Repurchase? No!  I bought Priti's remover way back in November - when I first thought this was going to run out - and I'm happy to finally move on to that.

Urban Minerals Light Mode & Real Vitality Mineral Foundation* (samples)   [Review]
I really like the Urban Minerals foundation, which is made locally here in Toronto.  It has great coverage, wears well throughout the day, and comes in a good range of shades.  The price point is a little higher than some other mineral foundations, but with ingredients like nettle, aloe, chamomile, calendula, marshmallow, sea buckthorn, and white willow bark, it also offers some potential skincare benefits.  Missus Multicultural - which I used up a long time ago - was the best color for my skin, but Light Mode and Real Vitality were both okay matches as well.  
Repurchase? Maybe.  I'm trying to work through all my foundation samples before buying anything new.

Crazy Rumors Leaping Bunny Plum Apricot Lip Balm
Crazy Rumors are one of my favorite lip balm formulas, but I do find the tubes don't last as long as other lip balms.  All Crazy Rumors balms are vegan, cruelty-free, and Leaping Bunny approved and proceeds from this particular flavor go to the Leaping Bunny Program.  It bugs me a little that Crazy Rumors charges $0.50 more to account for the charity donation rather than just donating their own, regular profits, but the Plum Apricot is nice and fruity and I enjoyed using it.
Repurchase? Yes!

The All Natural Face Wedding Day Glow (sample)
I used this as a setting powder but I wasn't crazy about it.  I didn't notice much of a glow and it didn't do much to blur fine lines or imperfections, which is what I mainly look for in a product like this.   
Repurchase? No.

Young Living Sacred Frankincense Essential Oil
So expensive, but so good!  Frankincense has a multitude of uses and can be helpful for skin issues, pain, endocrine and hormone balancing, and mood boosting.  
Repurchase? Yes! I'm currently using regular frankincense, but I would buy this one again in the future.

Physician's Formula 100% Natural Origin Lash Boosting Mascara
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with this mascara.  When I first opened it, I hated it.  It smeared all over my glasses and never seemed to set, but once the tube dried out a little, it worked much better.  Then, when it got even drier towards the end of the tube, it started smearing again.  It never irritated my eyes and I really liked how it performed in the middle period, but I only got about a month of decent wear.  
Repurchase? Maybe.  I only paid $3 at Winners and if I found it again at that price point, I would give it another try.  I probably wouldn't pay much more.  

Logona Natural Look Mascara
I won this in an Instagram giveaway, otherwise it's not a product I think I ever would have been drawn to.  One of the biggest failings of natural mascaras is that they look too natural, so I'm kind of baffled that anyone would purposely set out to design a product like this, which is the most subtle mascara I've ever used.  It tints the lashes, but doesn't add anything in terms of length or volume.  It also has a strong floral/rose scent that I'd notice on application and removal, as well as periodically throughout the day.
Repurchase? No.



Moisturizer Samples
Kind of a mixed bag.  My favorite of the bunch was the Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer, although I wasn't crazy about how grassy it smelled.  The Lavera Calendula and Ginger Mattifying Balancing Cream, on the other end of the spectrum, had a sweet and delicious marshmallow scent, but the cream itself was unimpressive.  I've used samples of the Suki Balancing Day Lotion before and while I imagine it would be a nice product for oilier skin, it's just too light for my needs.  I didn't like the Melvita Nectar Bright Brightening Cream, which just never seemed to absorb fully - to the point that I could see white cream coming off when I washed my face the next morning.  The AromaCrystal Morning Dew Moisturizer and Lavera Mint and Burdock Pore Refining Moisturizing Fluid were both okay, but not anything I would go out of my way to use again.  
Repurchase? The Juice Beauty, maybe.  Probably not any of the others.  

Total Products Used Up in May
Skincare: 5 (Lip Balms: 1 )
Bodycare: 5

Haircare:  1
Makeup: 2
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 7
Makeup Samples: 3

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 18 (Lip Balms: 6)
Bodycare: 20

Haircare:  5
Makeup: 9
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 36 

Makeup Samples: 11

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