A Canadian Black Friday (TONS of Green Beauty Sales!)

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who are celebrating!  For most of us in Canada, American Thanksgiving doesn't mean much beyond a new abundance of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping.  Honestly, I'm not sure how much shopping I'll be doing this weekend, but it's always fun to pull together sales for this roundup post, so I didn't want to skip it.  

This year, I've only included companies that I have personal experience with, both Canadian brands and companies who, while shipping from elsewhere, provide an excellent shopping experience to Canada.  I've also included my favourite product recommendations for each one.  I'll likely update the list once or twice throughout the weekend as more sales are announced, so you may want to keep an eye out.

Now, let's get to the deals....

#WishlistWednesday: New Green Beauty Launches (Fall-Winter 2019)

I’ve been at home with a bad cold for much of the last week, leaving me with plenty of time to online window shop and catch up on new releases in the green beauty world.  The industry has exploded since I last did one of these posts, which means there are far too many launches to make this anywhere near all-inclusive. Instead, I’ve gathered the top few releases that have caught my eye, both this past week and over the last few months.


Fall Favourites ft. Ursa Major, T•Langhans, SoulTree, Iremia + more!

I hate that I'm in a position to apologize, yet again, for how inconsistent my blogging has been this year, but there you have it. Fact is, I'm just not in a position to reasonably commit to a certain number of posts per week or month right now, but happy to be posting when I can. (I've been sharing more on Instagram, in case you don't follow me there already.)

Today, I want to share some products I've been loving recently. These might be better described as joint summer/fall favourites, but, regardless, they're items that have stood out to me over the last several months, while I've been away from the blog.  

Grounded Sage Floral Aura Skin Assessment (+ Instagram Giveaway!)

Happy Canada Day!  Grounded Sage (formerly Batty's Bath) is one of my favourite Canadian skincare brands, so today is the perfect day to share their Floral Aura Skin Assessment.  I've also teamed up with Grounded Sage for a giveaway over on Instagram, so make sure you check that out too!

In case you've missed my many previous raves, Grounded Sage, based in South-Western Ontario, features an extensive handcrafted product line that includes skincare, body care, and makeup.  The brand is constantly innovating with exciting new launches (like the dreamy-sounding Cucumber Refresh Facial Moisturizer they released just last week!) and always provides a ton of educational content in addition to their excellent products.  

Canadian Brand Spotlight: Iremia Skincare

I’ve been trying out Iremia Skincare over the last couple months and I’m super excited to share this new brand discovery today!  Iremia, which is based nearby in Mississauga, Ontario, is a capsule skincare collection specifically formulated for sensitive skin.  The line, which was born out of personal need as Iremia’s founder, Elaine Li, searched for a solution for her own highly reactive skin, consists of just three products, all 100% natural, cruelty free, and made using high quality ingredients that are proven to calm sensitive and reactive skin.  The brand’s key tenets of simplicity, quality, health, safety, and honesty appealed to me right away and I was eager to dive into the products!

Keep reading for my thoughts on everything...

Godai Elemental Clean: Soap & Shampoo Bars

I've been testing out Godai Elemental Clean's dual soap and shampoo bars, generously sent to me a couple months ago, and I'm excited to share them today!  Godai soaps, which are made with 85-92% organic ingredients, are USDA certified organic through the Montana Department of Agriculture, and are also 100% natural, vegan, GMO and cruelty free, and made in the USA.  

The name Godai comes from the Japanese terms for Five (go) and Great (dai), and refers to the five elements which serve as the inspiration for Godai's soap line.  There is a Japanese belief that each of the five elements represents a certain tendency in the world and that, while we are all born with energy from each of the five elements, negative experiences and general life stresses can cause us to lose these energies, creating an imbalance.  Godai soaps are intended to nourish the skin through the five elements in order to regain these lost energies and restore balance.

Organation: Standout Customized Facial Creams for All Skin Types (+ a Discount Code!)

Have you ever struggled to find a product with just the right blend of active ingredients to suit your skin?  That's where custom skincare formulations can come in handy!  I've noticed a definite uptick in brands offering custom products in the last couple years, which, as a picky ingredient nerd with a penchant for DIY, I think is a fantastic shift in the skincare market.

I recently had the chance to try out Organation, a vegan natural skincare brand creating customized facial creams in Portland, Oregon.  Organation uses pure, organic, and bioavailable ingredients and forgoes parabens, PEG's, synthetic fragrances, and other undesirable ingredients.  

The company's custom creams are designed with the help of a simple skin quiz and are individually made using Organation's proprietary machinery that cleanly dispenses precise amounts of each ingredient in a controlled, sanitary, and hands-free environment.  

I designed my Customized Facial Cream in February and I've been loving it ever since -- without getting too cheesy, it really does feel like a moisturizer formulated just for my skin!

Keep reading for more info on the customization process and details of my personalized cream!  

iHerb Favourites (+ extra discounts until April 30!)

It's no surprise, if you've read much of my blog, that I'm a big fan of iHerb.  I made my first order in October of 2011, and I'd estimate I've placed between two and six orders every year since!  iHerb is a great source for all kinds of healthy products at a discount -- I most often purchase cosmetics and personal care products, but they also carry a good selection of food, supplements, and household, baby, and cleaning products. 

I've had this post on my blog to-do list for a couple months, but with some extra promotions running this weekend, it seemed like a great time to finally fit it in!  Right now, most makeup on the website is currently discounted an extra 10%.  If you've never ordered before, you can also save $10 off your first order of $15 or more (up from a usual 5-10%!).  Both offers are running until the end of the month (April 30).  You can also get an extra 2.5% cashback on your purchases by shopping through Rakuten/Ebates.  

I am an iHerb affiliate, but whether you choose to shop through my links or not, I think they're a great source for affordable brands and products, especially for those of us outside the US or with more limited local access to products.  For fellow Canadians, I suggest shipping with one of the duties & taxes included options to avoid any surprise charges at the door.  I like DHL since it's often discounted for purchases over $40 and almost always arrives within 2-3 days.  

Let's get to the goodies!  I've explored a lot of iHerb's catalogue over the years, but these are the items I continue to purchase time and time again.

2018 Clean Beauty Awards: Winners Revealed!

Months of testing by a panel of more than 65 judges, hundreds of products in 15 different categories, and the results are finally in!  

The Clean Beauty Awards, organized annually by CertClean and PurPicks, celebrate excellent products in the non-toxic beauty sector.  The awards are based here in Toronto, but products submissions come from brands from all over the world.  I was asked to judge for the second time this year and it's always a thrill to see the entrants, finalists, and, of course, winners, which were just revealed yesterday.

You can check out the all the winners on the Clean Beauty Awards website, but I also want to take the chance to highlight my personal top three products from the awards -- two winners and one that, for reasons that are beyond me, must not have scored quite as high with the other judges.

New Favourites from Lafe's Bodycare

Lafe's Bodycare is an award-winning natural personal care brand that's been making healthy, sustainable, and affordable plant-based products for 25 years.  It all started with deodorant, but today the line has expanded to encompass body, baby, and hair care too.  Lafe's is a Certified B Corporation and the company also donates 1% of their profits to support breast cancer prevention and environmental awareness

I received an extra generous package from Lafe's last month and, after taking the time to test everything out, I want to talk about my favourite items.  It was a bit of a flash from the past for me as I used to sell Lafe's products back in my health food store retail days, but, while I had a working familiarity with the brand and product line, I had actually tried very few Lafe's products prior to receiving these in the mail.  (I was missing out!)

Let's get right to the products!

Flower and Spice: Luxury Modern Apothecary Skincare

If ever I was overdue to talk about a product or company, it's this duo from Flower and Spice.  I started doing some (non-blogging) work for Flower and Spice last summer and Karmen,the company's founder and formulator, kindly sent me a Discovery Set to try out at that time.  The Discovery Set retails for €69.00 and includes smaller sizes of Flower and Spice's two best-selling products: the Midnight Beauty Rich Revitalizing Serum and the Soothe and Repair Daily Moisturizer.  

Flower and Spice was created when Karmen decided to leave the stressful world of fashion, video production, and marketing in lieu of applying her longtime passions for green living, cooking, and flowers, herbs, and spices to creating a natural skincare line.  Karmen studied organic skincare science at Formula Botanica and Flower and Spice was born! 

Flower and Spice's products were formulated by Karmen in the Netherlands, but are currently produced in a leading natural skincare lab in Switzerland.  The entire line is 100% natural and all products are free of nasty ingredients, animal testing, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology.  

Before jumping into things further, I do want to stress that I've mulled over how to best approach this review -- or even to do it at all -- since I have an extra connection to the company, but after using the products on and off for several months, I really do want to share my thoughts on them.  I was not asked to write this and, as always, all opinions are honest and my own.  

Keep reading for all the details!

Winter Favourites ft. Osea, Batty's Bath, Consonant, Luk Beautifood + More

My biggest issue with blogging these days is that there's just never enough time to write about everything I want to share.  I've been more active over on Instagram the last couple months, but I know not everyone follows me on there, so I always want to keep current here on the blog too.

With that in mind, today seemed like the perfect time to talk about some recent favourites.  These 6 standouts are products that I've been loving and consistently reaching for over the last few months.  We've had some crazy cold temperatures here in Toronto, so, not surprisingly, these all ended up being products that excel in the moisture department.

REN Evercalm Stop Being So Sensitive Kit

I've always felt strongly about accessible green beauty, but my idea of what fits that label has changed a bit over the years. Initially, I saw it as almost exclusively based on price, but I think physical availability is an important factor to consider too. Not everyone can order online -- or necessarily wants to -- so with my new website reboot, I want to start a series featuring brands with wider in-store availability. Due to logistics, these are often products from larger companies, with perhaps a slightly less clean ingredient deck, but they're still a massive step up from conventional products!

Today I want to talk about REN Clean Skincare, and specifically the Evercalm line. I'd never tried REN before, but I've been testing out the Stop Being So Sensitive Kit, which includes small sizes of three Evercalm products. I picked this up a couple months ago at Winners, but the current incarnation (which comes with one additional product!) is available at Sephora.

The Evercalm line is intended for sensitive and reactive skin, so it's made up of gentle products without many actives. Keep reading for my thoughts on three of the bestselling products in the line.

Indie Brand Feature: Ellovi Revisited

I first reviewed Ellovi back in 2016, and I've been a big fan of their butters ever since.  Ellovi embodies simple elegance -- beautifully packaged, sophisticated formulas handmade from just six ethically-sourced natural ingredients.  The company recently did some rejigging of both the butter formulas and their packaging, and sent me a few of the new versions to try out.

Spoiler: they're just as luscious, moisturizing, and creamy as the originals.  Keep reading for all the details!

5 Things You Don't Know About Dyeing Your Hair With Henna

December marked two full years of colouring my hair with henna.  Henna, if you aren't already familiar with it, is a flowering plant that's been used for millenia and is basically the only completely chemical-free way to dye your hair.  Henna, by itself, generally yields an orangey-red colour, but there are different plant additives that can be mixed in to achieve different hair colours on the warm/red/auburn spectrum.

Before using henna, I'd never dyed my own hair, so it's been a wild ride: different brands, varied successes, and lots of lessons learned along the way.  Today, I want to focus on five specific things that you may not know about using henna.  I haven't seen these talked about much, but I believe they're very relevant to anyone considering using henna in their hair.

If you're interested in more practical, hands-on tips, I do have an older blog post from four months into my henna journey, or if you have specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments or catch me on Instagram!

An Affordable Vitamin C Roundup ft. Mad Hippie, Batty's Bath, InstaNatural + The Ordinary

I've been experimenting with vitamin C products recently and have found it to be an ingredient that my skin really loves.  And, it's pretty clear why -- vitamin C offers a multitude of amazing skin benefits. 

Vitamin C....
- stimulates collagen production and increases cell turnover
- has antioxidant benefits that fight free radicals and treat UV photodamage
- evens out skin tone and uneven texture
- lightens hyperpigmentation
- brightens dull skin
- reduces surface inflammation and puffiness
- helps skin defend itself from external stressors like pollution
- improves skin hydration
- offers acne benefits (certain types of vitamin C only)

It's a bit of a skin superstar!  Today I'm sharing four affordable products that I've been testing out over the last several months.

Today's lineup feature three different forms of vitamin C:

L-Ascorbic Acid: the most researched form of vitamin C.  Proven to be effective, but can cause surface skin irritation.  It also has stability issues and can oxidize both in water formulas and on the skin.

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: a stable water-soluble form of vitamin C that converts to ascorbic acid after absorption.  SAP is gentler and does not cause the same irritation as ascorbic acid, and has also been researched and shown to have acne benefits.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate: a stable fat-soluble form of vitamin C.  Because it's lipid-soluble, tetrahyxyldecyl ascorbate is able to penetrate deeper into the skin's dermis, where it can have more of an effect on collagen production.

Hello, 2019!

Happy New Year!  I hope 2019 is a happy, healthy, and all-around incredible year for us all.  I'm not big on New Years resolutions, but I'm looking forward to a year of growth -- both personal and professional -- with lots of fun and opportunities, and, of course, more time for blogging. 

Photo Credit
You may have noticed that things look a little different around here.  New year, new website design -- that's the saying, right?  In all seriousness, I was way overdue for a blog overhaul and finally had the time to do it properly over the holidays.  I wanted something clean looking this time, and I'm really happy with how it came out.  I have plans to tweak a few minor things over the next few weeks, but it's mostly finished.  I'd love to know what you think!

Thanks, as always, for visiting and supporting my small space on the internet.  Stay tuned: I have lots of products and posts I'm excited to share.  Cheers to a great 2019!