30 September 2015

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo + Conditioner

Intelligent Nutrients hair care often sails under the radar in the green beauty blogosphere, but their products are truly some of the best!  If Rahua and Yarok are the current darlings of the mid- to high-end green hair world, then Intelligent Nutrients is their steady, classic counterpart that never goes out of style.  Started in 1995 by Horst Rechelbacher (who first founded Aveda in the 70's), Intelligent Nutrients has weathered all the ups and downs of the last 20 years of the green beauty movement and they're still going strong with exciting new product launches all the time.

Many will remember when the video of Horst drinking Intelligent Nutrients hair spray circulated a few years ago, and indeed the company was founded on the principle that no ingredient should be used unless it's completely non-toxic and edible.  As such, the line, which includes hair care, skincare, body products, perfumes, and even supplements, holds itself to pretty strict ingredient standards.  And, all levels - from raw ingredients to finished products, manufacturing, storage, and shipping - are regularly third part audited to ensure everything stays up to par.  Many products are certified organic and everything is cruelty free (Leaping Bunny certified) and manufactured using 100% renewable energy.  



The Harmonic Shampoo and Conditioner are described as "anti-aging, antioxidant rich, volumizing, super smooth, non-frizzy, scalp and hair nourishing shampoo [and] conditioner with color protection."  That's a lot of big claims, but I think the duo does pretty well on all accounts!

The shampoo has a creamy consistency straight out of the bottle, but it lathers surprisingly well and does a good job cleansing without stripping the hair.  It has a gorgeous minty-herbal scent and feels quite tingly and invigorating on the scalp.  According to the bottle, you can use this everywhere - head to toe - potentially making it a great multi-use product too.

The conditioner isn't overly thick, but it's thick enough that it can be a little challenging to squeeze out of the hard plastic bottle.  Packaging aside, I really have nothing bad to say.  The conditioner feels very hydrating, tames frizz, does a good job detangling, and leaves my hair soft and easy to comb through.  It smells a little different from the shampoo, though still predominantly minty and herbal. 

Both the shampoo and conditioner are made with Intelligent Nutrients' Intellimune Complex, a super-antioxidant blend found in many of the company's products.  Intellimune is a blend of cold-pressed fruit and vegetable seed oils designed to fight free radicals, reduce inflammation, protect healthy cellular activity and growth, and help slow premature aging and disease.  I have no way to gauge most of those, but I certainly appreciate the inclusion of so many nourishing, luxurious and organic oils, including buriti, pumpkin seed, black cumin seed, red raspberry seed, red grape seed, and cranberry seed, which don't often feature in hair products.  

Whether it's the Intellimune Complex or the formula as a whole, the duo leaves my scalp healthy and my hair nicely nourished without weighing it down.  

The Bottom Line
At $25 and $27 respectively ($33.50 and $36.99 in Canada), the Harmonic Shampoo and Conditioner are pricier than my usual hair care staples, but you do get giant 444 ml bottles that'll last you quite some time.  For me, these are more of an occasional treat than an everyday repurchase, but I'm always happy to have them in my shower when I do pick them up.  Both the shampoo and conditioner have top notch ingredients and work very well. I'd highly recommend both.

Have you used anything from Intelligent Nutrients?  I'd love to know your favorites!


22 September 2015

End of Summer Favorites (Gabriel, Ursa Major, Brija, Balanced Guru + More!)

Tomorrow marks the official start of fall, so it seems appropriate to wrap up summer today with a favorites post.  These are the standout products I've especially enjoyed using over the last few months.  As many of you know, I've been focused on using the products I already have this year, rather than mindlessly buy-buy-buying, so while there are a couple new things here, most are products I've written about before, although not super recently. 



Gabriel Cosmetics Vibrant Pink Blush*
I used to be terrified of wearing too much blush and looking like a clown, but I've gradually worked up to being comfortable with brighter and more pigmented blushes.  Vibrant Pink is a matte cool hot pink and I loved it this summer.  It gives the prettiest pop of pink without looking overdone.  The Gabriel blushes are quite pigmented -  so a light hand is key - but they're blendable and easy to work with, even if you're fair skinned like me.  

Balanced Guru Calming Masque
I've raved about this mask several times before and it really is a consistent favorite of mine.  Made with a blend of detoxifying bentonite clay and sea kelp, soothing calendula, marshmallow root, echinacea, and aloe vera, and nutrient dense rosehip, sea buckthorn fruit, and gingko, it strikes a perfect balance between drawing out impurities and nourishing the skin with healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  The mask is actually quite detoxifying, but it comes as a powder, which allows you to easily tailor the liquid(s) you mix in to best suit your skin.  I like to use water, in combination with a few drops of a face oil to prevent the mask from drying as firmly as it does with water alone.  I also often mix in a drop or two of carrot seed or frankincense essential oil as an extra anti-aging boost.  My skin is always left looking visibly clearer and brighter after using the Calming Masque and I feel like it's something I'll always keep stocked on my skincare shelf.  

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash*
I really enjoy a lathering cleanser, but my skin can't tolerate how drying some of them are.  Happily there are products like the Fantastic Face Wash, which foams up nicely, rinses easily, and doesn't leave my skin feeling at all dry.  I first used it about six months ago but gradually drifted onto new things, as we do, only to rediscover it mid-August and fall head over heels all over again.  The scent is an invigorating unisex blend of spearmint and evergreen trees that's lovely and refreshing without being over the top.  The cleanser offers gentle exfoliation from sugar cane and fruit extracts, and a slight tingly sensation from the mint leaves skin feeling extra clean, though never dry or stripped.  

Pacifica Red Red Wine
I first saw this nail polish color in a Youtube video last fall and immediately set my sights on it.  It's taken me until the summer to actually get my hands on it, as even though a nearby health food store stocks the Pacifica polishes, they've been sold out of Red Red Wine every time I've been in.  The color is pretty much just what the name suggests: a classic dark red/wine color with a creme finish.  I wore it in the summer, but it's really a more traditionally fall/winter shade, so I don't foresee putting it away anytime soon.  The Pacifica polishes are 7-free and vegan, with a great, long-wearing formula.  

Brija Cosmetics You Know Who Highlighter
I used to prefer a matte complexion, but these days I really think glowing, luminous skin is the way to go.  To me, it just looks fresher, healthier, and more natural.  That said, I have some larger pores on my nose and cheeks and I've struggled to find a highlighter that provides the radiance I'm looking for without emphasizing or drawing extra attention to them.  But, I think I've finally found it in You Know Who, which gives a beautiful ethereal glow without any piecey shimmer or glitter.  It's a light, white/cream shade, but it doesn't look chalky or frosty on the skin.  It's also versatile in that it can be worn lightly for a subtle everyday look or built up to a more serious gleam for a dramatic highlight.  

Ora's Amazing Herbal All Purpose Salve*
This salve is great for lots of things, but my favorite use is on bug bites.  It works like nothing else on both swelling and itching.  We've got a good number of spruce trees in the backyard and plenty of mosquitos as a result, so whenever I'm out there with the dog, there's a decent chance of bites.  Just last week, I managed to get a bite right in the middle of my forehead, which, being in such an obvious spot, of course swelled up huge and looked like a goose egg.  I used the salve twice that night and it worked like a charm.  The formula has a grapeseed and coconut oil base and is packed with anti-inflammatory herbs like calendula, comfrey, chickweed, plantain, burdock, thyme, and St. John's wort.  It visibly starts to take down swollen bug bites within minutes of application, and within a couple hours, even the biggest bites are nearly gone.  With summer winding down, bug bites aren't as big of an issue, but I know I'll still keep this guy handy for its multitude of other uses.  It works well on other skin irritations and soothes everything from cuts and scrapes to pimples, chapped lips, dry cuticles, and rashes.  

Hope you had a fabulous summer and are looking forward to fall!

*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

15 September 2015

Sensitive Skin Savior: Blissoma Lavish Loving Recovery Beta-Glucan Mask

I generally only write about skincare products once I've had a chance to use them over a prolonged period, but I'm so blown away by this small pot of goodness that I didn't want to wait any longer to spread the word!  Think of this as more of a first impressions post than a full review.  

Over the weekend, I had an unpleasant experience with a new face mask that left my skin burning, red, and bumpy, and whilst scrounging around for something gentle and soothing to combat the reaction, I came across this sample of Blissoma Lavish Loving Recovery Beta-Glucan Mask that I'd picked up a few weeks earlier.  It seemed like the perfect time to put it to the test!    


Lavish is a rich hydrating treatment specifically formulated for dry, stressed, sensitive, reactive, inflamed, irritated, and/or mature skin.  With 18 active ingredients, it blends together anti-reactive herbs, restorative oils, and moisturizing butters.  Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide with strong anti-anflammatory and antiaging properties and a proven track record for reducing skin irritation and redness, and Lavish takes full advantage with three sources: organic oatmilk and reishi and maitake mushrooms.   To complement these three, the mask also contains cupuacu butter, rich in antioxidants and great for moisture retention, as well as organic oils of baobab, pomegranate, perilla, and pumpkin to soothe irritated skin.  Blissoma products are also always packed with beautiful herbal infusions and Lavish is no different.  Organic St. John's wort, astralagus, self heal, and passionflower are included, all great for soothing sensitive skin and promoting healing.  

The mask has a thick cream consistency, but it doesn't immediately sink into the skin like a moisturizer would.  And, though rich and hydrating, it doesn't feel heavy or occlusive on the skin.  Lavish doesn't have any added ingredients for scent and the scent is just mildly herbal from its other ingredients.  

Circling back around to my skin reaction from this past weekend, Lavish worked like a charm.  My skin had stopped burning after washing off the original offending product, but I was left with splotchy red spots, scattered bumps across my cheeks, and generally irritated, unhappy skin.  Lavish felt cool and soothing as I applied it and my skin absorbed most of the product in the 20 minutes I had it on, leaving just a thin layer to wash off.  After rinsing, I was left with plump and hydrated skin, and both the redness and bumps were gone.  After using Lavish, I think anyone would have been hard-pressed to tell that I'd had any kind of skin reaction that day.  

The Bottom Line
I've only used it the one time so far, but I foresee Lavish becoming a "must have" product in my skincare stash.  As anyone with sensitive or reactive skin can attest, skin reactions are awful, awful things, so a product like this that's able to quickly tone down irritation and bring skin back to a calm, healthy place can be pretty indispensable.  

I'm looking forward to using the mask for more regular maintenance-type uses too.  Blissoma talks about using Lavish regularly to build up skin resilience and I'm curious to see how it'll fare in that regard.  I also think it will make an excellent hydrating treatment through the upcoming winter months.  

Have you used Lavish before?  What are your favorite products for sensitive skin?


9 September 2015

Everyday / Most Used Makeup: Products + Storage

It's been several years since I switched over to natural makeup and I've tried out a lot of different products in that time.  After a recent decluttering and organization spree, I thought it'd be fun to show my most used, everyday essentials, as well as a quick look at how I store them.  Some products change, obviously, but a lot are consistent, long term favorites.  

Many of these items may be familiar from previous posts, but if you have questions or if there are specific products you want to know more about, I'm happy to answer in the comments or follow up in future posts.



I use sterilite drawers to hold the remainder of my makeup - mainly lip products and more loose eye shadows - but I like my everyday items to be accessible and easy to grab.  I found this tray for $1.99 in the kitchen section of Value Village and it works perfectly.  It's a sturdy, thick acrylic and the divided sections make it super easy to keep everything visible without turning into one huge messy heap.  

Section #1: Blush


It was only a couple years ago that I owned maybe two blushes, but I'm gotten more into blush recently and this section has filled out quite a bit!  

Pure + Simple Glow + Gabriel Color Vibrant Pink* - My two favorites over the summer.  Both are highly pigmented and give a beautiful vibrant pop of color, but can also be toned down for a more subdued look.  Glow is a bright watermelon pink with the prettiest sheen and Vibrant Pink is, as the name suggests, a matte hot pink.  

Lippy Girl Wall Flower - A matte pale pink.  I'm not sure how it would work on darker skin tones, but it's beautiful on fair skin.

Bare Minerals The Adrenaline Rush - Technically this is an All-Over Color Boost, but I can't imagine using it as anything other than a blush.  With the three colors swirled together, it's a light peach with a satin finish.

Ecco Bella Hibiscus* - The lighter of Ecco Bella's two bronzers, Hibiscus leans very peachy/orange, which I didn't love as a bronzer, but it makes a beautiful bronzy blush!

Silk Naturals Abstract + Lovelace - Silk Naturals blushes are some of the most blendable and easy to wear I've found and I love both these colors.  Lovelace is a bright coral and Abstract is a unique light plummy-pink.  

The All Natural Face Tequila Sunrise - A pretty pinky-coral.  It's not the most longwearing blush - the cream version is much better in that regard - but it's a great everyday shade.  

Gressa Aux RougeAux Rouge makes for a beautiful red lip and I like it a lot on the cheeks too.

Section #2: Everyday Powder Face Products + New Blush Overflow

This section houses all my everyday powder essentials like mineral foundation, finishing powder, and powder concealers, as well as some Brija Cosmetics products that I bought over the summer and am still trying out.  

Everyday Minerals Foundation - I've been working through a sample pack from Everyday Minerals and trying to figure out which color and formula I like best on my skin.  I plan to purchase a full size of the Semi-Matte in the future.

Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques Finishing Powder - A good basic, translucent finishing powder.  I like dusting something like this over my forehead as a last makeup step to blur any fine lines I have up there.

Silk Naturals Light Peach Sleep in a Jar + #2 Brightening Concealer + ELF Mineral Eye Brightener - I use one of these everyday that I wear makeup.  All three are great to set a cream or liquid concealer under the eyes and I like them all.  ELF's Mineral Eye Brightener brightens without any real coverage, Sleep in a Jar brightens with a tiny bit of coverage, and the #2 Brightening Concealer, which is supposed to be a dupe for Anastasia's Banana Powder, is a little less brightening than the other two, but offers more coverage.  

Brija Cosmetics Mean Girls Blushes + You Know Who Highlighter - You Know Who and Regulation Hottie blush, a beautiful nude pink, have been getting a lot of love recently.  I'm not quite as smitten with the other two blushes, though they're both pretty colors, and I've yet to try the sample of Hoola Hoop Bronzer.   

Section #3: Loose Eye Shadows

I went a little crazy buying eye shadow samples when I first discovered indie makeup and several years later, I'm still swimming in them.  As a result, this section holds a combination of my ride-or-die favorites and random others that I shuffle in and out periodically, usually ones that I either want to use up or just show a little love.  

Favorites - Darling Girl Blitzen + Moondust, Pollen Cosmetics Future Sunrise + Saddle Up, The Chequered Lily Apothecary Neverwhere, and Madd Style Cosmetics Mune Glow.  (I'm realzing now how many of these are either discontinued colors or from companies that are no longer around.  Sorry!)

Random Others - SweetPea & Fay British Accent (makes the prettiest indigo blue eyeliner), Shiro Cosmetics Master Sword, Concrete Minerals Blitzkrieg, Sassy Minerals Dry Martini, Noella Beauty Works Mango Berry, Persephone Minerals Pegasus, and Cheeky Cosmetics Blonde Brow Powder (works great as a matte crease/transition shade).

Silk Naturals Splendid Perfecting Glow - I keep this in with the eye shadows because I like using it to blend out other shadows.  It's sheer to begin with and blends away to nothing, but in the process, it helps soften other, hard to blend colors.  

Section #4: Pressed Eye Shadows

Pressed shadows without silicones or talc used to seem like the green beauty holy grail, so it's awesome to have so many choices these days!  

Pure + Simple Taupe - Probably my most used pressed eye shadow.  It's a fantastic medium brown crease shade that works with virtually any eye look.

Jane Iredale Eye Steppes in goWarm* - This palette has everything you need for a peachy/neutral eye.  Most Jane Iredale pressed products are made with silicones, but the Eye Steppes are not.

Bare Minerals Ready Palettes - I like the Ready eye shadows a lot, especially the matte and satin finish colors.  The ingredients aren't the absolute cleanest, but they don't have anything I'm particularly worried about.  The formula is also sturdier and less fragile than a lot of other natural pressed shadows, making these great for travel.  

Lily Lolo Laid Bare Palette* - This is basically a natural alternative to the Naked palettes and I love it for how compact and portable it is.  These aren't the absolute most pigmented shadows ever, but they do the trick, especially with a good primer underneath.  

Red Apple Lipstick Palette* - This holds my four Red Apple Lipstick shadows, as well as my one Honeybee Gardens shadow.  The eye shadows from both brands are great: pigmented and very easy to blend.  

Section #5: BB/CC Creams/Tinted Moisturizers, Bronzers + Highlighters


Most days I just wear mineral foundation, as my skin tends to prefer powder products over liquids and creams, but periodically I like using a BB or CC Cream, which is where this section comes in.


Andalou Naturals Sheer Tint Beauty Balm - I love how healthy and glowy this makes my skin look, but the color is a little dark for me.  It's workable with a lighter powder on top, but probably not something I will buy again.

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream in Natural Glow - A better color match than the Andalou, but everything else about this CC Cream leaves me a little underwhelmed.  It has super light, barely there coverage and smells pretty strongly of petitgrain.  

Suntegrity 5-in-1 Tinted Sunscreen in Fair and Light - I've held onto these samples because of the many great reviews I've read for this product, but I'm still on the fence about whether I'm actually going to try them or not.  Suntegrity contains cetyl dimethicone, a silicone which I usually avoid. 

Mineral Fusion Bronzer Duo in Luster - I don't wear bronzer anywhere near daily, but when I do, I really like the matte shade in this duo.  It looks dark in the pan, but it's not heavily pigmented and blends out easily.  The highlight side is very golden and doesn't get much love from me.  The bronzer duos are one of the few Mineral Fusion pressed powder products made without phenoxyethanol.  

Lily Lolo Rose Glow Shimmer Strips - The Shimmer Strips were limited edition and while Rose Glow is a pretty pink highlight, I only feel like I can pull it off on perfect skin days as the shimmer can tend to emphasize pores.  

Zuzu Luxe Mosaic Illuminator in Light* - I really love this product, both as a setting powder over cream or liquid products and by itself as more of an invisible allover skin perfecter on days when I'm not wearing other face makeup.  It doesn't have any real coverage, but it mutes redness and has a pretty, slightly luminous finish that leaves skin looking natural and glowy.  

Center: Mascara, Eye Liner, Eye Brow Products + Miscellaneous


I use a re-purposed candle holder in the center compartment to hold mascara, eyeliner, brow products, and a few miscellaneous extras.    


Physician's Formula Organic Wear CC Curl + Care Mascara - My only open mascara at the moment and frankly it kind of sucks.  It darkens the lashes, but it doesn't do much for either lengthening or thickening.  My lashes have a natural curl, so I'm not sure how it does in that area.  

Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara - This is unopened, but I'm looking forward to trying it next.

Pacifica Bare + Jet Eye Liners - Some of the creamiest natural liners I've found.  Bare is a wonderful nude for the waterline and Jet is a great rich black.  

LUVU Beauty Black Eye Liner - I like using this when I want black liner, but not something as rich and ultra-pigmented as the Pacifica.

Honeybee Gardens Blue Jeans Jobacolor Eye Liner - A super beautiful blue/teal shade.  It looks like these have been reformulated recently and I don't like the new ingredients, so I won't be buying them in the future.

Benecos Brown Eye Liner - Another great creamy liner, but I'm not a big fan of the color.  It's a warm, almost orangey-brown that I'm just trying hard to use up before buying a different brown liner.  

Bare Minerals Frame & Define Brow Styler in Universal Light - My go-to for quick, everyday brows.  The twist-up pencil doesn't need sharpening and the light, ashy brown is the best shade match I've found for my eyebrows.  

Lily Lolo Eyebrow Duo in Medium* - A powder and wax brow duo that I also like, although I only really use this when I have a little more time to devote to doing my makeup, since using powder brow products is a slower, more involved process for me.
  
The All Natural Face Diva Stix in Milk - A matte white chubby pencil that I like using as a brown bone highlight.

Alba Botanica Fast Fix for Undereye Circles -  A somewhat sheer yellow-toned concealer/color corrector.  It's not a full coverage product, but it does visibly brighten and it has a great lightweight texture that layers well with other products.

Lavera Eye Shadow Base - Overall, I like this, but I'm not sure I'd buy it again.  It works well at keeping eye shadows on and preventing creasing, but I do find that colors continue to blend and mix together over the course of the day, so it isn't the best for more complex eye looks.

Mini Tweezerman Tweezers + Sephora Pencil Sharpener - Just a couple basic tools that it's always good to have handy.  

Makeup minimalist, I'm not, but everything here has a place in my routine and gets used regularly.  I hope you enjoyed this peek into my everyday/most used makeup!


*Press sample
Contains affiliate links

5 September 2015

Green Beauty Sales for Labor Day

Labor Day isn't a holiday I typically associate with shopping, but we're certainly rolling in green beauty sales this long weekend!  I'm all about sharing the deals, plus my yearly Black Friday sales post is one of my popular, so I decided to take a few minutes to compile a list of the best deals I've spotted taking place over the next few days.  Check them out:

Abe's Market (US only)

Up to 25% off select green beauty items (through Monday)

Aurora Beauty

$15 off $100+ with code: LABOR15
$25 off $150+ with code: LABOR25
$40 off $200+ with code: LABOR40
+ free US/Canada shipping over $50

Balanced Guru
25% off with code: laborday25

Bubble & Bee Organic

All products 10-20% off (through Monday)

Clementine Fields

15% off all body oils with code: labour-15 (through Monday)
+ free Graydon Cleanser with $200+ (all month)

Conscious Beauty

10% off + free US shipping with code: thanks10 (through Monday)

Dermstore (US only)

20% off with code: LABORDAY (through Monday)

The Detox Market

$10 off $100+ with code: WEEKEND10
$30 off $200+ with code: WEEKEND30
$60 off $300+ with code: WEEKEND60













Eco Diva Beauty

Free shipping on US and Canadian orders (through Monday)

Everyday Minerals
$10 off $30+ with code: 10off30

Fresh Faced
$10 off $100+ with code: LABOURDAY10
$30 off $200+ with code: LABOURDAY30
$60 off $300+ with code: LABOURDAY60

Pharmaca (US only)
25% off with code: LABORDAY

Red Apple Lipstick
25% off with code: RALLABORDAY (through Monday)
+ Use these links for BOGO Lipstick and Eye Shadow (the code works on top of the 2-for-1!)





















Spirit Beauty Lounge

20% off $100+ with code: LDAYLOVE (through Monday)

Vitacost

$5 off $55+ + free US shipping with code: LDSALE5 (through Monday)
$15 off $100+ + free US shipping with code: LDSALE15 (through Monday)
$30 off $180+ + free US shipping with code: LDSALE30 (through Monday)
+ get $10 off your first order with this link










Did I miss any other great deals?



Contains affiliate links

1 September 2015

August 2015 Empties / Products I've Used Up

Every so often it hits me just how strange of a habit saving empties is.  I mean, really,  how did it start?  Did someone just wake up one morning and decide that saving beauty trash was a sensible idea?  Nonetheless, it's pretty ingrained in me now and I can't even imagine throwing these things in the garbage right away!  

This month's batch of empties is oddly free of any body care, but I've got a good bit of skincare, some makeup, and one hair product.  Keep reading for mini reviews and my thoughts on whether these items are worth buying again or not.



Kinky-Curly Spiral Spritz
The Spiral Spritz is a basically a cross between a gel and a serum.  With lavender water and aloe vera as the main ingredients, it gives the hair oil-free moisture and also serves as a lightweight soft-hold gel, courtesy of the remaining ingredients.  It's a repeat empty for me, so you know I love it!
Repurchase? Definitely.  I'm currently using the Intelligent Nutrients Styling Gel, but I'm sure I'll buy this again in the future.

Blûm Naturals Pro Age Daily Cleansing and Makeup Remover Towelettes
I don't use wipes for daily cleansing or makeup removal, but I like keeping a couple individually wrapped ones in my purse for spur of the moment makeup fails or other unexpected situations.  The Blûm ones aren't my favorite wipes, but there aren't a lot of companies that offer individually wrapped ones with clean ingredients and Blûm's are cheap and do the trick.  I only use them occasionally - a box of ten lasts me six months or so - so I'm not overly fussy about which ones I buy.  
Repurchase? Yes.  I bought Blûm's Sensitive wipes to try next, but I'm sure I'll buy these Pro Age ones again too.

Andalou Naturals Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel
I've tried a lot of Andalou Naturals products this year and I really think they're one of the best affordable skincare lines out there.  I've dabbled in all four different ranges now and to me, most products seem quite mild and not super "active," which is kind of a double-edged sword.  I'm not convinced they're potent enough to achieve great, transformative skin results, but the upside is that the majority of products are gentle and generally work for virtually any skin type.  The Citrus Kombucha Cleansing Gel, for instance, is part of the Clarifying Line, intended for active, oily, and acne-prone skin, but it worked great on my sensitive normal-to-dry skin too.  The cleanser has great ingredients, smells awesome - like a fresh-cut grapefruit - and lathers without overly drying the skin.  
Repurchase? Yes.



Evolve Gentle Cleansing Melt   [Review]
The Gentle Cleansing Melt is a unique emulsifying balm cleanser.  It starts out as a thick gel, but quickly melts into a thinner balm consistency with the heat of your skin.  Once you add water, it transforms into a milky cleanser that easily rinses away.  Evolve has reformulated this product since I bought it, so I can't speak to the current version, but the one I used was great.  I haven't used anything quite like it before, but I'm curious what else is out there.  If there are similar emulsifying balm-type cleansers that you'd recommend, please leave a comment and let me know!
Repurchase? This version is no longer sold.  I'm not sure if I'll try the new one or not.

Andalou Naturals Super Goji Perfecting Cream
My skin has been preferring cream moisturizers over oils recently and the Super Goji Perfecting Cream is a nice one.  It's sold as part of the Age Defy line and is intended for dry and very dry skin, but I'm not sure I'd agree with that recommendation.  The cream is hydrating but also pretty lightweight, so I don't know if it would be sufficient for super dry skin.  Either way, I really enjoyed it.  It sinks in quickly and never leaves skin feeling tacky or greasy.  Noteworthy ingredients include hyaluronic acid, goji glycopeptides and antioxidants that claim to "deliver collagen and elastin building actives deep into dermal layers, boosting cellular renewal and dramatically transforming tone and texture for younger-looking skin with fewer fine lines and wrinkles."  At 27, I'm no prune face just yet, but I also haven't noticed any difference in the fine lines I do have while using the cream.  It's a great basic moisturizer, but I don't suggest buying it with the highest hopes for wrinkle or fine line reduction.
Repurchase? It's very likely.

Badger Seabuckthorn Face Oil*   [Review]
Like I said, I've temporarily moved away from using most face oils recently, but I did really enjoy the Badger Seabuckthorn Oil while I was using it.  Badger is a great company and the face oils are packed full of great nourishing plant oils and extracts.  The Seabuckthorn, specifically, contains sea buckthorn oil and fruit extract, as well as jojoba, baobab, apricot, and pomegranate oils, rosehip fruit extract, and lavender, geranium, and sweet orange essential oils.  Badger currently sells four different oils to suit various skin types, and for the price - under $20! - I really don't think you can do any better than these USDA certified organic blends!
Repurchase? Not right away, but possibly in the future.

Madara Deep Moisture Fluid (sample)
The Deep Moisture Fluid is an interesting product.  As the name suggests, it has a very fluid, liquidy consistency, but it also does provide a lot of moisture.  I actually found it to sit a little heavy on the skin this time of year.  The scent was pretty grassy - like every other Madara product I've tried - but not offensive.
Repurchase? Probably not.

Trilogy Very Gentle Calming Serum (sample)
This is the first Trilogy product I haven't liked at all.  Both the Cleanser and Moisturizer from the same Calming range are great, but the Serum doesn't absorb well and stays very sticky and tacky on the skin.  It did initially tone down redness on application, but I think it also made me break out.  Not a fan!
Repurchase? No.

Ilike Carotene Essentials Moisturizer* (sample)
Ilike's Carotene Essentials range is specifically targeted at summer skin and I really enjoyed using the moisturizer over the last couple weeks.  It has the same scent as the Carotene Essentials Gel Mask (reviewed here), but while I sometimes find the smell of the mask a little too sweet and even sickly, it didn't bother me in the moisturizer at all, perhaps because it's absorbed more quickly into the skin and doesn't just sit on top for a prolonged period.  The cream itself was really lovely too: hydrating, lightweight and perfect for summer.
Repurchase? Maybe.  I'm not sure it gives enough moisture for my skin in the winter, but I'd consider buying it next summer.



Honeybee Gardens Belgian Chocolate JobaColor Eye Liner
Honeybee Gardens liners are some of my favorites - both for their affordable price point and great performance - but it looks like the company has made some major ingredient changes since I last purchased them.  The biggest difference is that the old formula contained lanolin, while the new one looks to be vegan.  Nothing wrong with that, but I don't like some of the other ingredients that have been added - butylene glycol, for one! - so I won't be buying these any more.
Repurchase? No.  I'll probably replace this with Pacifica's brown liner instead.

Sassy Minerals Rumor Mill and Pixie Sprinkles Eye Shadows (samples)
Sassy Minerals used to be one of the best companies for shimmery and sparkly eye shadows, but they were bought out by LaurEss Mineral Cosmetics a few years ago.  LaurEss carried the same colors, but it looks like they're shutting down as of this summer too.  I initially pulled these samples out just to use them up, but I actually ended up loving both colors and even though I don't need eye shadow, I'm considering ordering one or both from LaurEss before they fully shut down. 
Repurchase? Maybe.

Gabriel Color Black Mascara
The Zuzu Luxe mascara is in my top two mascaras, so I'm always baffled by why the Gabriel Color one, which has the same ingredients and a very similar wand, just doesn't do it for me.  It's an okay mascara, but nothing amazing.
Repurchase? I don't think so.

Pollen Cosmetics Ready Set Go Finishing Powder (sample)
Pollen Cosmetics is another indie makeup company that's no longer in business.  The finishing powder was okay, but nothing spectacular.
Repurchase? Not possible.

Everyday Minerals Ivory (1N) Semi Matte and Matte Base (samples)
Everyday Minerals is the latest company I've been testing in my attempts to pick a new mineral foundation.  Ivory (1N) seems like a good color match for my skin and both the Semi Matte and Matte formulas are nice, depending how you like your skin to look.  The Semi Matte has a slightly more natural finish, which I prefer, but the coverage on both is great.
Repurchase? Probably the Semi Matte.  I still have a sample of the Jojoba Base to try before I decide.

Crazy Rumors Pear & Peppermint Lip Balm
Crazy Rumors has become one of my favorite lip balm companies, but I didn't love this particular one.  It smelled more like a semi-artificial honey scent than either pear or peppermint to me.
Repurchase? Yes, but not this particular flavor.


Total Products Used Up in August
Skincare: 6  (Lip Balms: 1)
Bodycare: 0

Haircare:  1
Makeup: 2
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 3
Makeup Samples: 5

Total Products Used Up in 2015
Skincare: 29 (Lip Balms: 8)
Bodycare: 28

Haircare:  10
Makeup: 11
Skin/Body/Hair Samples: 59 

Makeup Samples: 24

I can't believe I'm edging towards 100 samples used up this year!  Crazy!


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