POLYN: Plant-Based Aromatherapeutic Skincare

There are lots of new and exciting things going on in the green beauty world right now and today I'm excited to introduce POLYN, a fantastic new skincare brand I've had the pleasure of trying out.  POLYN is the latest addition to SKINourishment, a 20-year old natural skincare company best known for its climbOn and crossFIXE products designed for athletes and sports enthusiasts.  

Created by aromatherapist and Eastern medicine practitioner Polly Glasse, POLYN blends together its founder's background in science, aromatherapy, and Eastern healing modalities to create carefully crafted skincare products that are vegan and certified cruelty-free by PETA, and that also meet standards set out by the European Union's stricter regulatory bodies.  

This post is kindly sponsored by POLYN, but all thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.

POLYN's products are made in small batches in Texas from top quality, non-GMO and food grade ingredients and are free of unnecessary toxins and fillers.  Everything is completely free of synthetic ingredients, 100% natural and plant-based, and addresses skin needs while offering aromatherapeutic benefits at the same time.  

I've been trying out three of POLYN's core face products -- the Invigorating Face Wash, Regenerative Face Serum, and Cooling Under Eye Serum -- and I'm eager to share my thoughts on everything.  

Foamy cleansers that don't strip or dry out your skin can be hard to come by, but that's exactly what POLYN has achieved with the Invigorating Face Wash.  With a castile soap base and a foaming pump, the wash creates a light foam that lathers, glides over the skin easily and rinses away completely with a quick splash of water.  My favorite way to use it has been as the second step in a nighttime double cleansing routine.  I go in first with an oil cleanser to remove my makeup, followed by the Invigorating Face Wash, which gets rid of any leftover oil or makeup residue and deep cleans my skin.

The mild castile base is boosted with horsetail, coltsfoot, ashwagandha, and willow bark extracts, herbs rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and silica.  The Face Wash also contains peppermint essential oil, which gives the wash a gentle but invigorating tingle.  It leaves your face with that super fresh and clean feeling that so many people look for in a cleanser, without any of the negative stripping or drying effects of an actual squeaky clean wash.

I'm quite picky about scents and floral scents in particular, so this was the product I was a little nervous to try.  The first ingredient is tuberose wax, a new one for me, and the serum has an intoxicating, beautiful scent that's fresh, floral, and herbal all at the same time.  Despite my initial reluctance, the Regenerative Face Serum actually ended up being my favorite of the three POLYN products I tried!  

In addition to tuberose wax, the serum is power-packed with great ingredients: olive, argan, rosehip, red raspberry, and sea buckthorn oils, shea butter, willow bark, coltsfoot, ashwagandha, ginseng, and helichrysum extracts, and cedarwood, petitgrain, ylang ylang, and ginger essential oils.  All this goodness combines together to create a serum designed to stimulate collagen production, promote healthy cell turnover, and rejuvenate and refresh both the skin and mind.

The serum has a vibrant color and a creamy feel.  The first couple times I used it, it pumped out a little extra oil that wasn't fully mixed in, but after a couple applications and some vigorous shaking, everything was re-incorporated and I haven't had any separation since.  The serum is intensely hydrating and nourishing and feels very lush and creamy on the skin.  At the same time, it absorbs quickly, leaving skin plump, moisturized, super soft, and ready for makeup or additional skincare steps.

The Cooling Under Eye Serum is an aloe vera-based gel made with many of the same plant extracts and oils as the Face Wash and Regenerative Serum.  It also includes two of my favorites: meadowfoam oil and frankincense essential oil and was formulated to diminish fine lines and minimize dark circles.  Since dark circles and under eye puffiness sometimes feel like the bane of my existence, I was pretty excited to test this one out.  

The Eye Serum has a lightweight feel, but offers a generous dose of hydration nonetheless.  The serum feels cool and refreshing, even at room temperature, and really does visibly reduce eye puffiness and bags within a few minutes of application.  I haven't noticed a significant difference on my dark circles, but I generally find they're more a product of sleep and other lifestyle factors anyways.  The serum plumps the skin, reduces puffiness, and leaves a fantastic smooth canvas that's perfect for makeup application.  POLYN also suggests using it all over your face for extra moisture and rejuvenation.

The Bottom Line

POLYN has made it their mission to create 100% plant-based products that improve the quality of our lives, our animals, and our planet, and that care and attention really does come through in the company's products.  I've thoroughly enjoyed all three items, but I'm especially smitten with the Regenerative Face Serum.  Without waxing too poetic, I feel like the Face Serum, in particular, epitomizes everything I look for in healthy beauty products.  It has fantastic ingredients, feels really beautiful and luxurious to use, but doesn't have an outrageous, over the top price tag that would put it out of reach for many people.  

With top notch ingredients, recyclable and environmentally conscious packaging, generous product sizes, affordable prices, and gentle and effective products, POLYN is definitely a line I'll be keeping an eye on!     

Receive 20% off until May 31, 2017 with the coupon code "SKINLOVESPLANTS"

I also spotted the three products I tried temporarily bundled for a super bargain at $39.95 (that's just $4 more than my beloved Regenerating Face Serum on its own!)  Plus, get a free Illuminating Face Oil with the coupon code "TV

Have you tried anything from POLYN or the other SKINourishment brands?  

Sponsored post.

New for Spring: Exciting Green Beauty Launches!

Green beauty is booming these days, which means a TON of exciting new product releases.  For spring, I've put together a list of some of the best launches that have grabbed my attention recently -- most are available now, with a couple scheduled to release over the next few weeks.    

Maya Chia Highlight of the Day // Birchrose + Co Glow Serums
Technically Maya Chia's Highlight of the Day launched a few months ago, but since healthy, glowy skin is always on trend for spring and summer and I, for one, am still eyeing it, I'm adding it here anyways!  Both Highlight of the Day and Birchrose + Co's Glow Serums are nourishing oil-based serums enhanced with mineral pigments for a beautiful glow or iridescence.  Both are available in more than one shade to suit a variety of looks and skin tones.  

Stark Petrichor Toner
Stark's products, which are formulated with weather and environmental stresses in mind rather than traditional skin types, have been on my radar for quite a while, but I haven't actually tried anything yet.  I love that Jess, Stark's founder, has taken a less traditional approach to the beauty industry and is passionate about creating luxury products without insane luxury price tags.  It's, of course, right up my ally.  Along with the already available City Recalibrating Oil, I've got my eye on the new Petrichor Toner, available for presale this week.  Petrichor is described as a protective and purifying mist that's supposed to feed your skin, calm inflammation, fight free radicals, and act as an antioxidant shield from the environment.  Sounds pretty dreamy, right? 

Mabrook & Co. Clean Sprays // Clean Candles // Clean Dry Shampoo // Clean Lip Balm

[Full Disclosure: I work part-time for Mabrook & Co., but that doesn't make their new releases any less great.  I was not asked or paid to include them here.]
Mabrook & Co. started out making just deodorant, but they've recently expanded the line quite a bit with dry shampoo, multipurpose aromatherapy sprays, soy wax candles, and lip balm.  My favorite of the new products is the Glow Spray, an uplifting mist that perfectly blends together crisp mint and zesty citrus.  It makes a great cooling and tingly face mist and also works well as a room spray or body mist.  The Clean Dry Shampoo is another big standout.   

RMS Beauty Signature Sets
RMS products are pretty pricey and the pots last a long time, so I was so stoked to see the new Signature Sets, which offer a way to try out multiple products from the brand at a significantly lower cost than purchasing everything individually.  There are two sets available, each containing five of RMS's most popular products: two lip2cheeks, two highlighters/bronzer, and one lip & skin balm.  It's a lot of bang for your buck -- I've got my eye on the Mod Collection for sure! 

Alima Pure Eye Primer // Ilia Beauty On & On Eye Primer // Batty's Bath Eye Stick It To Em Eyeshadow Primer
For as long as I've been into green beauty, eye shadow primers have been hard to come by, but not any more!  I've spotted three new ones in the last couple months alone -- from Ilia Beauty, Alima Pure, and Batty's Bath.  All three promise a better surface for eye shadow application, longer wear, and no creasing.  Ilia's does contain dimethicone, if that's a concern, but the other two are silicone-free.

Inika at The Choosy Chick
I've played around with Inika, an Australian certified organic, vegan, and cruelty free makeup line, a little, but they've always been a challenging brand to get a hold of here in North America.  No longer!  The Choosy Chick, one of my favorite green beauty shops, has become the first US online retailer to carry Inika's products and I couldn't be happier to have easy access to this wonderful line.  I highly recommend the Cream Eye Shadows -- they double as beautiful subtle face highlights -- and I'm definitely eyeing up a few other things too!    

Pacifica Spring Makeup Collection

Pacifica makes great inexpensive clean makeup and their upcoming spring releases look pretty amazing!  The new makeup collection consists of four completely new products: liquid lipsticks, liquid strobe highlighters, a mattifying powder, and an opalescent highlighting powder -- and three new eye shadow palettes.  If you're in the US, the new products launch at Ulta in April, and hopefully elsewhere shortly thereafter.

Rocky Mountain Soap Wellness Bombs
Rocky Mountain Soap is one of my favorite bath and body companies and the newly launched Wellness Bombs sound fantastic!  Basically, they're the company's bath bombs taken to the next level -- enhanced with essential oils that specifically target different wellness concerns.  Whether you're looking to unwind and destress or re-energize, the Wellness Bombs have you covered!

What new products have caught your eye?

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Outstanding Body Care from Sola Skincare

Sola Skincare is a family-run Canadian business, handcrafting skin and body care products in Vancouver, B.C.  The company's products are made with fairly minimal ingredients and are enhanced with traditional Chinese herbs.  I first discovered Sola last year and immediately fell head over heels for their Balancing Oil, which, almost a year later, is still one of my very favorite face oils.  (You may have spotted it in my 2016 Best in Green Beauty or caught me raving about it on instagram!)

More recently, I've been trying out three of Sola's body care products and I'll tell you right off the bat: they don't disappoint either.  Keep reading for my detailed thoughts on the Coconut Deodorant*, Soft Skin Balm*, and Relief Balm*.

Coconut Deodorant
The Coconut Deodorant is one of Sola's best sellers and I can easily see why!  It's a great formula that ticks all my deodorant boxes.  Basically, it...
  • smells good
  • keeps you smelling good
  • has a great texture/consistency
  • applies easily 
  • doesn't stain or leave marks on clothing 
  • doesn't irritate my skin or cause rashes  
The ingredients start off pretty standard -- coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, olive or sweet almond oil, and beeswax -- but true to form, Sola also includes antibacterial Chinese herbs zhi mu and sheng di huang, both known to cool excess heat in the body, calm inflammation, and nourish the skin.  Sola doesn't add any fragrance or essential oils, so the sweet coconut scent really shines through.  I can be fussy about coconut smells -- even natural, coconut oil ones -- but the Coconut Deodorant is a winner for my nose.  It smells fresh, sweet, and delicate, and is more reminiscent of actual coconut than coconut oil, if that makes any sense at all.

The deodorant has a very smooth, buttery consistency that melts into the skin beautifully without any gritty or grainy baking soda texture.  It also doesn't feel oily or leave behind any greasy residue, so you don't have to wait or delay pulling clothes on.  With regards to irritation, baking soda deodorants are hit or miss for me, but I haven't had any problems with Sola's Coconut Deodorant.  I usually use a non-baking soda option if I've just shaved, but that's true across the board, not specific to this one.

And, perhaps most importantly, the deodorant offers great odor protection too.  I apply it once in the morning and it keeps me smelling good until the next day -- so, roughly a full 24 hours.  I don't notice the coconut scent beyond when I apply it, so it's not so much covering up bad smells as actually preventing them. I don't sweat a ton, so your mileage may vary here, but I find it keeps me pretty dry as well.

I'm looking forward to testing the deodorant more as the weather warms up, but since it's held its own through a few sweaty workouts, I'm pretty confident it'll do just fine in the summer too! 

Soft Skin Balm
The Soft Skin Balm is a wonderfully nourishing moisturizer perfect for treating ultra dry skin.  The balm is thick and rich, courtesy of shea butter, beeswax, and olive oil, and while it doesn't absorb immediately, it sinks in slowly and deeply nourishes dry skin.  The four Chinese herbs included in this one -- shu di huang, bai shao, he shou wu, and gan cao -- are all intended to nourish and bring moisture to the skin, and combine nicely with soothing lavender and patchouli essential oils.  The scent is very light and unobtrusive.  I mainly smell olive oil in the tin, and while the essential oils come out a little on the skin, it's still very mild.

I've been using the balm mostly on my feet and elbows, and it's also a great thick moisturizer to slather all over your hands before bed.   I even used it as a lip balm in a pinch one day!  I probably wouldn't repeat that experience, if only because patchouli isn't my favorite taste in the world, but it did leave my lips nicely moisturized and supple!

Relief Balm

The Relief Balm is a gentle warming treatment for aching muscles, minor sprains, strains, and arthritic pain.  I deal with occasional back and shoulder pain and the Relief Balm has helped a lot in those moments of discomfort.

The balm is a very soothing and gentle product made of only herb-infused olive oil, beeswax, vitamin E, and essential oils.  The herbs and essential oils are all chosen to not only relive pain, but also to target the source of that pain by reducing inflammation and improving circulation and blood flow in order to promote healing.

With ingredients like cinnamon (gui zhi), ginger (gan jiang), and white camphor, the balm generates a gentle warming sensation when applied.  The warmth penetrates slowly and gently eases muscle tension and relieves pain and discomfort.  It's very soft and light and not at all hot or uncomfortable like some other warming muscle products I've used in the past.  In Chinese medicine, cold accumulation is seen as a common source of pain, so from that angle too, a warming product like the Relief Balm is targeting not only the pain, but the root cause of that pain.

If you deal with aches and pains, I think this would be a great one to keep in your arsenal!

The Bottom Line
Sola Skincare is a great Canadian line and I really like everything I've tried from them!  The products work as promised and both the handcrafted nature and the way Sola brings together classic natural ingredients and components of traditional Chinese medicine really resonate with me.  I doubt you could go wrong, but I'd especially recommend the Coconut Deodorant and, of course, my favorite, the Balancing Face Oil.  If you deal with aches and pains, the Relief Balm is another fantastic pick.

*Press sample

5 New Things: Curly Girl Hair Edition

I've been test-driving a bunch of new hair products the last few months, so I figured it was well past time I sat down and started writing about them!  For those of you who don't already know, I have naturally curly hair that appreciates moisture, but also quickly gets oily from products that are too rich.  My hair also has a tendency towards frizziness, so it's definitely a fine balance!

Bröö Malted Mint Invigorating Shampoo // Conditioner
Water makes up the bulk of many products, shampoo and conditioner included, and Bröö, true to their name, replaces the water in their formulas with all-malt freshly hopped craft beer.  It's a little gimmicky, but it's not just a gimmick, since the beer brewing process releases B vitamins, minerals, and proteins that nourish and strengthen hair.  Ever heard of people using beer as a hair rinse?  The idea is the same, only the benefits are already built into Bröö's products.  

I'm already on my second tube of the Invigorating Shampoo, a gentle and somewhat creamy wash that cleanses hair without stripping away its natural oils.  The conditioner is surprisingly rich and luxurious, and I only need a small amount to sufficiently hydrate my curls.  The invigorating duo is marketed as a "daily detox for hair and scalp," and the formula, which is boosted with caffeine and peppermint essential oil, is intended to stimulate the follicles and encourage hair growth.  I can't speak to any definite effects at this point, but the conditioner in particular does generate a refreshing minty tingle on the scalp.

The company claims that Bröö products have no beer scent, but I don't find that completely true with this pair.  To my nose, the beer scent is mild but still noticeable in both products, along with a nice minty/herbal aroma.  It's completely non-offensive and any beer scent is gone by the time hair dries, so there's no chance you'll be walking around smelling like a brewery.   For me, the scent is a major improvement over the old Bröö formulas -- the ones in plastic bottles, not tubes -- which had much stronger, sweet scents that I couldn't tolerate.  

Original Sprout Natural Hair Gel
Original Sprout is a hair stylist-created line of vegan hair and body products designed to be allergen-free and safe for the whole family.  The Natural Hair Gel, labelled for "babies & up," is a great gentle hair gel that I love using for lightweight curl definition.  Made without added fragrance or essential oils, the gel has just a mild sweet scent and offers medium-hold without any gross sticky or tacky feeling.  It can get a little crunchy if you use a lot, but it's nothing that can't be scrunched out with your fingers.  I started my second tube this week and I also just picked up the company's Miracle Detangler to try out next.  

Beautiful Curls Curl Enhancing Shampoo
The Curl Enhancing Shampoo, specifically formulated to maximize waves and curls, sounded like it'd be perfect for me, and since I've enjoyed other Beautiful Curls products, I had high hopes going in.  Unfortunately, it ended up being a complete dud for me.  The shampoo is rich in shea butter and coconut oil and has a creamy consistency that you'd think would be moisturizing, but no matter what conditioner I paired it with -- both traditional rinse out options and leave-ins, it consistently left my hair dry, frizzy, and feeling stripped of moisture.  The shampoo hardly lathers and after a few washes, it started building up on my scalp, feeling gummy, and not actually getting anything clean.  I'm sure this product works for somebody, but it definitely wasn't me.  

DIY Healthy Scalp + Hair Growth Oil
I've gotten into a constant cycle of pulling my hair back into tight ponytails, loosing hair at the temples, re-growing it, and then repeating the entire awful cycle over again.  I'm back in the growth stage now and trying to speed things up with a homemade blend of hair and scalp-friendly essential oils -- namely rosemary, peppermint, lavender, cedarwood, and tea tree.  The blend does double duty -- I massage it directly into a clean scalp after washing my hair, and it can also be added into hair treatments and masks. 

Along with these five, I've also been experimenting with henna the last few months, but I think that deserves its own dedicated post.  Have you discovered any exciting hair products recently?

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