22 January 2017

DIY Lavender Chamomile Cleansing Oil / Makeup Remover

Oil cleansers are one of my favorite products to DIY because they're just so darn easy to make!  I concocted this particular blend about two months ago and after whipping up a new batch this morning, it seemed like a good time to share the recipe here.  

Almond oil makes up the bulk of the cleansing oil, chosen because it's supremely gentle and nourishing, and wonderful for sensitive and reactive skin.  Castor oil is an oil cleansing classic that's fantastic for balancing oil production and really deeply penetrating into the pores and removing any debris or build up.  Rosehip oil adds an extra boost of vitamins and antioxidants and is excellent for evening out skin tone and fading scars.  

Chamomile and lavender essential oils give the cleansing oil a beautiful and relaxing scent, perfect for winding down at the end of the day.  Both are also fantastic all-round skin oils and, again, great for sensitive skin.  Carrot seed oil is an anti-aging superstar with strong regenerative properties.  [As always, I'd stress that you make sure you're using high quality, unadulterated essential oils -- I have an old post covering some of the most important things to look out for HERE.]



I use cleansing oils to remove my makeup and as a first cleanse, and that's exactly how I use this one.  You could absolutely use it by itself to.  It's a non-emulsifying oil, so whether or not you use a second cleanser, you'll need some kind of face cloth or sponge to properly wipe the oil off your skin.  

You'll Need:
2 oz. Almond Oil
1/2 oz. Castor Oil
1/4 oz. Rosehip Seed Oil
6 drops Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
6 drops Lavender Essential Oil
3 drops Carrot Seed Essential Oil

Combine all ingredients in a (preferably glass) jar and shake gently to combine.

To Use: Massage oil onto a dry face and softly work into skin for 1-2 minutes.  Gently wipe oil off with a warm damp washcloth, konjac sponge, or face wipe.  Follow with another cleanser if desired.

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18 January 2017

2X Thicker Castile Soap from Dr. Jacobs Naturals

Historically, castile soap referred exclusively to the olive oil soap made in the Castile region of Spain, but today it's a term more broadly used to describe any soap made through the traditional saponification process that turns natural plant oils into soap.  Castile soap is an everyday staple in my home for both body care and cleaning purposes and I've recently been trying out the soaps from a new-to-me brand, Dr.  Jacobs Naturals.  Dr. Jacobs is a cruelty free company making liquid castile soap in the USA without palm oil, synthetic fragrance, colors, preservatives, or GMO's.



People often complain that liquid castile soaps are either too thin and runny or don't lather sufficiently, and quite honestly, these two factors frequently have me reaching for a different product in the shower too.  Dr. Jacobs soaps, however, circumvent both these issues by thickening their coconut and olive oil based castile soap with a small amount of the gentle, non-toxic surfactant coco-glucoside.   The result is a hybrid soap that's substantially thicker than your average castile offering.  It won't pour out of your hands or run down the drain, and the coco-glucoside helps it to lather more easily too.

I've been testing Dr. Jacobs' soaps out for all my usual household cleaning tasks -- laundry, makeup brush washing, and more -- and also as a shower gel and hand soap, and I'm pretty sold on them for all of the above!  The thicker viscosity makes it the perfect consistency to use as either a body wash or hand soap and its gentle and non-drying on the skin.  (And the 16 oz. pump bottles are extra convenient in the shower too!)  The thickness also means that you don't need to use as much product, particularly for cleaning, so a smaller amount of soap goes farther too.  I'm not personally a fan of castile soap for the face, but if that's something that usually works for you, I see no reason why Dr. Jacobs wouldn't as well.  

In terms of scents, Dr. Jacobs offers a good variety of both essential oil-based and natural fragrance options and I've been testing out three, plus the unscented.  The Citrus, currently residing in my shower, has a very mild scent.  It smells good and citrusy, but I also smell a little of the natural oils coming through.  The Eucalyptus and Peppermint are much stronger scents and have some serious scent power.  I used the Eucalyptus to clean my makeup brushes this week, while suffering through the tail end of a cold, and had the added bonus of clearer sinuses when I was finished.  The Peppermint has been hanging out by my washing machine, and a small amount in the wash leaves clothes smelling minty and fresh.  And the Unscented is, of course, great for when you don't want a scent, or for creating your own.

The Bottom Line
I always keep castile soap on hand and Dr. Jacobs is a great option!  The liquid soaps are thick and skin-friendly, and create a rich, versatile lather to suit a multitude of uses -- both for the body and household/cleaning.  


* Press sample

7 January 2017

Thera Wise Ointments: Targeted Skin Treatments That Work!

Thera Wise is a family business making natural and plant-based medicinal ointments in Vancouver, B.C.  Warren Brander, Thera Wise's founder, recognized a need to improve conventional over-the-counter ointments, most of which are still petroleum and petrochemical-based, and combined his cosmetic science training and background in Traditional Chinese Medicine to develop Thera Wise's line of ointments. 

Photo Credit
The line consists of five ointments: SHO Skin Healing, Ac+ Acne, VpR Vaporizing, DpR Diaper, and HmR Hemorrhoidal, all of which are vegan and cruelty free, Health Canada NHP approved, and made in Canada from pure plant-based extracts, prebiotics, and natural oils.  

I had the opportunity to test out two of the ointments and I'm excited to share my thoughts on them.  I've also teamed up with Thera Wise to give some ointments away on Instagram, so make sure you head over there after the review to enter.  


SHO Bio-Active Skin Healing Ointment
Of Thera Wise's five ointments, SHO is probably the most multi-functional.  Intended to treat multiple skin ailments, it helps heal wounds, reduces skin irritation and inflammation, and works on everything from cuts and scrapes to rashes, bruises, sunburns, and eczema and dermatitis.  

There are a lot of skin balms and ointments out there, but the ingredients in the Bio-Active Skin Healing Ointment really stood out to me.  SHO features concentrated calendula, chamomile, and burdock root -- potent anti-inflammatory botanical extracts that target irritated and itchy skin, minimize scarring, and reduce swelling.  The ointment also includes oat beta glucan, aloe vera, olive squalane, shea butter, and rosehip, sea buckthorn, and argan oils to improve skin immune function, soothe and repair compromised tissue, and generally speed up the healing process.  Tea tree oil also adds antibacterial and anti-microbial properties to the mix.  

I've been using the Skin Healing Ointment for about a month and half now and while I -- happily -- haven't had much opportunity to test it on cuts or wounds, I can say that it works very well on dry, itchy, and irritated skin.  We've had a few serious cold spells here and the Skin Healing Ointment is what I've been reaching for to treat my poor wind chapped face after walking the dog on those -10°C or colder nights.  It does a fantastic job both soothing and reviving the skin.  I've also used it numerous times on dry cuticles and it's wonderful there too.  The ointment sinks in right away, instantly smoothing and softening the skin, and it doesn't leave behind any kind of film or oily residue.  The ingredients list is what first caught my eye, but the actual performance is what has had me coming back to the ointment over and over these last several weeks.



Ac+ Bio-Active Acne Ointment
I don't deal with a ton of acne or breakouts anymore, but I do still get the occasional pimple.  Plus, I'm pretty sure everyone can benefit from having a great spot treatment on hand!  

The Bio-Active Acne Ointment is a supportive ointment that helps reduce swelling and inflammation caused by acne or blemishes and provides gentle but effective antibacterial benefits without compromising the skin's natural defenses.  It uses a low dose of salicylic acid (0.5% compared to the 2% found in most acne treatments), naturally sourced from willow bark extract, and an olive wax base that allows the skin to breathe and function normally under the ointment.   The ingredients also feature popular acne fighting witch hazel and tea tree oil,  cooling peppermint oil, soothing aloe vera and oat beta-glucan, and reparative tamanu oil -- a particular favorite of mine.  The ointment also includes alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that actually suppresses inflammation on a cellular level to minimize scarring and prevent collagen breakdown, and alpha glucan oligosaccharide, a prebiotic that stimulates the "good" bacteria on the skin to improve the skin's natural defenses and barrier function, leaving it less susceptible to the "bad" bacteria and pathogens that contribute to acne. 

A lot of acne treatments can be overly harsh and aggressive, but Ac+ opts for a noticeably gentler approach.  When using the Acne Ointment, I found that swelling and redness was visibly reduced and pimples healed quicker.  It's not an instant miracle worker, but in helping blemishes heal more effectively, it leaves you less likely to end up with long term effects like hyperpigmentation and scarring.  Pimples and blemishes do heal a little faster and, if caught early enough, the ointment can stop them from forming entirely, or at least help keep them small.  I noticed that any leftover marks post-breakout faded a lot quicker too.  I like the more holistic approach that gently addresses active blemishes, while also offering skin-healing and nourishing ingredients that help improve overall skin function, hopefully minimizing future breakouts before they even occur.  Ac+ feels a little more emollient than the Skin Healing Ointment, but it rubs in easily too.  I haven't had any problems using it during the day or wearing it underneath makeup.  



The Bottom Line
Thera Wise's ointments have stellar ingredients and the products work incredibly well too.  The SHO Skin Healing Ointment is multi-functional and would be a great addition to any medicine cabinet or first aid kit and Ac+ is wonderful for treating acne and blemishes in a kinder, gentler, more holistic and skin-friendly way.  

Enter the giveaway to try them for yourself! I've teamed up with Thera Wise to give away two ointments -- winner's choice! -- to three lucky Instagram winners. 


*Press sample

3 January 2017

2016 Best in Green Beauty

Ideally this post would have gone up a few days ago, but better late than never, right?  I'm fortunate to have tried lots of fantastic products in 2016, but for the purposes of this post, I'm highlighting just the very top -- the best of the best.  These are the 8 products that, out of everything I used, truly stood out to me the most over the course of the last year.  I'm pretty sure I've mentioned all these items at least once, but if I've done a more in depth review, I'll make sure to link it below, in case you'd like more information.



Rocky Mountain Soap Vanilla Mint Hand Cream
I loved Rocky Mountain Soap's hand cream when I first used it in 2015, but the new Vanilla Mint scent that launched mid-2016 fully cemented my adoration.  The hand cream hits that perfect balance of richness and quick absorption and is loaded with nourishing plant oils, shea butter, antioxidants, and other emollients.  The Vanilla Mint scent is both fresh and sweet, and it's a lighter scent, so while it smells wonderful as you apply it, it doesn't fragrance the entire room or smack you over the head all day long.

Sola Skincare Balancing Face Oil   [Review]

I've tried a lot of oils over the years and Sola's Balancing Face Oil, which incorporates traditional Chinese herbs, brings a little something extra to the table.  The blend includes some of my favorite hydrating and healing oils -- argan, tamanu, and jojoba, to name just a few -- alongside Chinese herbs that reduce inflammation and improve circulation.  It works incredibly well at targeting not only obvious acne and breakouts, but also more subtle skin congestion and clogged pores.  It's a beautiful product and one I'd recommend to anyone struggling with these kinds of skin issues.



Kari Gran Lip Whips
I go through phases with more full-on lipstick, but the reality is that, for everyday, I prefer more sheer lip colors and glosses.  Kari Gran's Lip Whips offer exactly that -- sheer, glossy color -- and they feel like a hydrating treatment for your lips.  Potted lip products aren't usually my favorite, but these are worth it.  They're comfortable and easy to wear, and come in an ever-growing range of beautiful shades.

Holiskin Sensitive Skin Facial Cleanser   [Review]
Oil cleansers are my favorite way to remove makeup and Holiskin's super affordable Sensitive Skin Cleanser is one of the best I've used at any price point.  The simple but thoughtful ingredients list includes organic apricot kernel, camellia, meadowfoam, and castor seed oils, as well as vitamin E and chamomile and lavender essential oils, and it's a real gem of a product.  It smells awesome, glides over the skin easily, and effortlessly removes every last trace of makeup.  It doesn't sting around the eyes and wipes away easily with a washcloth or face wipe.

Batty's Bath Whipped Cream Foundation   [Review]
My skin usually reacts to cream and liquid foundations when worn for more than a day or two in a row, but the Whipped Cream Foundation from Batty's Bath, formulated especially for acne and rosacea-prone skin, is the one exception.  The ingredients are free of often problematic coconut oil and the Whipped Cream Foundation offers medium/buildable coverage with a unique cream-to-almost-powder finish.  It feels lightweight on the skin, isn't drying at all, and sets to a pretty and natural looking semi-matte finish.  It also doubles as a concealer -- I especially love using it to cover up dark circles.

Argillaceous Naturals Detox Facial Masque   [Review]
I tried two masks from Argillaceous Naturals last year and I was not expecting to fall nearly as hard as I did for the Detox Facial Masque.  On first glance, the ingredients read like many other detox masks, but performance-wise, it stands apart.  In addition to detox mask classics like clay and activated charcoal, the formula also includes colloidal oatmeal to soothe and citric acid to gently resurface the skin.  The citric acid also balances the extreme alkalinity of the clay, which means the mask can work without negatively impacting the skin's natural acid mantle and barrier function.  The Detox Masque is particularly awesome for clearing blackheads and clogged pores and it never leaves the skin feeling raw or stripped.  For me, someone without very oily or problematic skin, I like it best as an occasional refresher once or twice a month, but depending on your skin, you could definitely incorporate it more often.



Mineral Fusion Sheer Moisture Lip Tint

Along with the Kari Gran, the Sheer Moisture Lip Tints from Mineral Fusion are my other favorite tinted lip product.  They come in a fun crayon form and again provide sheer color with a balmy, nourishing feel.  Glisten, a warm caramelly-nude, is my absolute favorite from the range, but all the shades are pretty.

Duckish Body Butter   [Review]
Some of you will remember that I was a little heartbroken when Nourish discontinued their Body Butter about a year ago, but I've got to say, Duckish's Body Butter, which I've since replaced it with, is even better.  An emollient blend of shea butter and plant oils, the Body Butter is phenomenal on dry and irritated skin.  It's super rich and is the kind of product I reserve for those extra dry spots like feet and elbows as opposed to all over (although Duckish's Lotion Sticks, which go on like solid oils, are fantastic for everywhere!)  I've even used the Body Butter as an intense lip treatment this winter and it worked great in that capacity too.  

What were your biggest green beauty standouts in 2016?


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