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July 28, 2014

natural beauty buff | barbara jacques, jacq’s organics

When you declare something the “must-have” product of the summer, it only makes sense to go a bit deeper and explore the beauty routine behind the person who created said it-item of the summer.

And that’s what brings Barbara Jacques, founder of Jacq’s Organics and creator of my favorite summertime face oil, onto the blog today.

barbara jacques jacqs organics natural beauty buff

Beautiful Barbara founded Jacq’s Organics the same year that she gave birth to her first child — and after learning she had an ovarian tumor.

Like many green beauty founders who followed a similar path to green beauty after a health issue, Barbara wanted to take control of her own skincare and soon fell in love with the process of creating eco-chic, socially responsible and family-friendly skincare.

As evidenced in her various products (and scrumptious scents!), Barbara fuses her creative energy into Jacq’s Organics, leaving us with choices such as Lemongrass Shea Butter soap, Sweet Orange toner, Carrot Con Leche face serum and Green Tea and Acai Berries lip balm.

Learn more about how Barbara captures this creativity to bring it to Jacq’s Organics as she shares what green beauty and lifestyle products she keeps on her nightstand.

barbara jacques jacqs organics natural beauty buff

I’ve decided to share the items on my nightstand. I am not a morning person and my 3-year-old toddler has not gotten the memo yet.

On any given night, I’m in bed by 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., but over the past couple of years, I’ve been known to suffer from insomnia from time to time.

So the collection of items on my nightstand either helps to induce sleep or aids my insomnia problem. Let’s get started with my new favorite find.

Maya Water Facial Mist – Energizing Norwegian Thermal Water

I just discovered this amazing face mist that’s made with just water and nitrogen. Not to sound like a walking spokesperson, but it’s packed with active ingredients including calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and more. It’s non-scented but it’s something about the cool, hard spray that makes you feel like you just washed your face with the freshest, cleanest water from Norway.

I use it on my face and even in my hair right before heading to bed or on the way out. I’ve also starting carrying this in my yoga bag and for a quick face misting after. And it’s perfect on hot summer beach days.

Jacq’s Organics Lavender Love Body Oil/Shea Cream

I use these not just to help induce sleep and wind down, but when my 3-year-old decides to take over my bed when it’s her bedtime. It’s the perfect remedy for getting her to sleep quickly. I just rub a little bit oil or cream on her feet and tummy, read her a story and she’s out.

True Grace Candles in Stem Ginger

I discovered True Grace candles at the cutest apothecary/art gallery boutique in South Miami called The Archive-Gallery. I was looking for a Father’s Day gift for my husband and stumbled upon this delightfully intoxicating candle that has notes of ginger, lemongrass, citrus, pepper and more. I seriously carry this candle everywhere around the house because the scent is so soothing.

I told myself I was buying the candle for him, but I loved it so much I kept it for myself. As a frequent headache and migraine sufferer, the light scent of the ginger and lemongrass is extremely soothing. I’m obsessed with the blend and the cute tin container.

Jacq’s Organics Green Tea & Acai Berries Lip Balm

I have dry, chapped lips and the humidity in South Florida doesn’t help. So, I have a stash of lip balms almost everywhere including in my purse, in my car, in random jackets, little change purses, the back pocket of jeans and even in my daughter’s baby bag. The cocoa butter also helps with the hyper-pigmentation for my lips.

21 Drops #06 Passion

This little gem is also one of my fave new finds. The scent is #06 Passion; it’s a masculine blend and I don’t use it often, but I when I do use it, I like to put the oil on my wrist, behind my knees, on my neck and behind my ears.

Glass of water

For staying hydrated — and I enjoy the taste of water.

My Nexus phone

My phone is attached to my hip.

My Samsung Tablet

This little device is perfect for insomnia, including, but not limited to: Reading, checking emails, tweeting, strolling on Instagram, catching up on blog posts, note-taking, creating a music list and even the occasional kids’ games to distract the kiddo for a couple minutes.

Notebook

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with an idea, or realized you forget to do a task from the day before? And then go back to sleep, wake up the next morning and forget the idea or whatever it was that woke you up in the middle of the night? The nightstand notebook is for random thoughts, creative recipe ideas, forgotten to-do list items and even the ideas and quotes that come to mind.

Traditional Japanese Morning Star Vanilla Incense

I discovered this brand of incense a few of years ago on a visit to Epcot at Disney. The sweet vanilla scent makes for a seriously soothing, therapeutic wind down after a long day. I like to burn the incense while taking a bath, cleaning, unplugging from social media or even just listening to R&B or jazz playing in the background while doing nothing.

July 23, 2014

beauty scoop | dr. alkaitis organic beautifying mask

With a quick scan through my beauty cabinet, you’ll find that my treatment masks are divided into three sections: Exfoliating masks; strong clay-based acne-busting masks; and soothing, healing masks.

The first two sections are heavily populated while the third — the soothing, healing masks section — has just a handful in it. The latest addition? Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask.

dr alkaitis organic beautifying mask

{Dr. Alkaitis sent me a sample of its new Organic Beautifying Mask to review. It costs $65 for a 1.7-ounce jar, which is enough for 25 mask applications. Photo Courtesy Dr. Alkaitis}

Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask marks my first experience with the popular organic skin care line made with edible living ingredients.

I’ve been in awe of the brand for quite a while and jumped at the chance to experience the Organic Beautifying Mask, the newest offering and fifth mask in the collection.

(There’s also the Universal Mask; Flower Mask; Exfoliating Enzyme Mask; and Cellular Repair Mask.)

Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask has a top spot in my “soothing, healing masks” section thanks to the fact that even though this mask harnesses the power of organic, wildcrafted Montmorillonite clay, it’s not drying and doesn’t tighten the skin in an uncomfortable way as it dries or after it’s washed off the way that some clay masks do.

dr alkaitis organic beautifying mask

With that said, it’s important to remember to keep Dr. Alkaitis’ masks moist as the ingredients work their magic; this means spritzing your face with a hydrosol or using an additional liquid, such as honey or yogurt, after blending the dry powder mask with water.

I’ve tried Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask mixed with just water (as seen in the selfie below — sorry for the poor indoor lighting, but it was and evening treatment!) as well as with manuka honey, and I’ve enjoyed both treatments.

Mixed with manuka honey, the mask feels as though it’s getting deeper into my pores and flushing everything out, but still without drying anything out.

Mixed with just water, the mask is lightweight and never tight, and upon rinsing off, it makes my skin feel so incredibly soft that I could almost get away without a mist and moisturizer.

dr alkaitis organic beautifying mask

I choose to use this mask (and my other “soothing, healing masks”) during weeks when my skin is coming off of crazy breakouts yet may not be in absolutely perfect condition; for me, that’s usually toward the beginning or middle of my cycle, after the PMS zits have somewhat subsided yet I’m still prone to a few spots here and there.

Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask is a perfect choice during this time of the month in hot, humid months, as “healing and soothing” doesn’t always means “epic hydration” — I don’t need a heavy, moisturizing mask in Kansas City humidity, but I do need something to calm my skin and restore some balance.

So, what’s inside Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask that manages to calm, hydrate and free the skin of impurities?

Organic Oat Buds*, Magical Forest Mushroom Complex (consisting of Snow *, Tuckahoe*, Hedgehog*, and Immortality* Mushrooms), Raw Cacao*, Camu Camu*, Coconut Extract*, Montmorillonite** | *Signifies certified organically grown; **Signifies ethically wild-crafted

According to Dr. Alkaitis, Chinese women have used snow mushroom as a beauty treatment for centuries (I’m not sure my Chinese grandfather was really into beauty treatments, or else I’d want to ask him about this).

It’s because snow mushroom is said to increase moisture retention in the skin and help smooth the appearance of fine lines.

I would imagine that snow mushroom, combined with soothing, antioxidant-rich raw cacao, accounts of a lot of the healing powers in this mask while Montmorillonite clay does a bit of work to draw out impurities — just the balance I need for finicky, hormonal skin!

And because I’m always after a bit of balance, Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Beautifying Mask is one I’ll keep stocked — it’s an understated treat to use at about $2.60 per mask (seriously, a little goes a long way and you can get 25 masks out of this jar!).

I’m looking forward to sharing more about Dr. Alkaitis with you soon. It’s a stellar brand with some pretty smart ingredients.

Have you tried anything from Dr. Alkaitis? What categories do your masks fall into? Tell me in the comments section!

 

July 16, 2014

beauty scoop | odacite divine rose & neroli balancing toner mist

While I don’t typically do “empties” posts, I will tell you that I just finished my bottle of Odacite Divine Rose & Neroli Balancing Toner Mist and am quite sad that it’s empty.

odacite divine rose & neroli balancing toner mist

{Odacite sent me a sample of its Divine Rose & Neroli Toner Mist. It costs $45 for a 4-ounce spray bottle.}

Back in March, I shared with Sarita’s readers that I liked to use Odacite’s Divine Rose & Neroli Balancing Toner Mist at night before applying Stark Skincare’s Neroli Midnight Oil.

It’s been such a heavenly combination for those weeks when my skin is behaving (which, ahem, currently, it’s not), and I’m hoping to restock the toner mist next month when I’m in Los Angeles for A Night for Green Beauty.

When it comes to toners, I have two separate needs, thus two separate collections: Moisturizing and Acne-Fighting (and sometimes there’s a toner that meets both of those needs!).

Odacite’s Divine Rose & Neroli Balancing Mist falls into the “moisturizing” category, as I don’t really find it to do much for acne, though it does contain Aspen bark extract, which is supposed to have astringent-like properties to keep pores small and clean.

Seeing how I use this during good skin times, I suppose it helps with keeping my pores small and clean, but really, it’s all about the soothing, softening powers of this toner mist for me. Thank you, aloe and rose!

Here’s the full ingredients list:

Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Organic Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Populus Tremuloides (Aspen) Bark Extract, Pancratium Maritimum Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Caprylyl/Capryl Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Fusel Wheat Bran/Straw Glycosides, Polyglyceryl-5 Oleate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Organic Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, Organic Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, Phenethyl Alcohol

This toner also does do a lot for my mood. For starters, I find the scent absolutely gorgeous — if Odacite made this into a perfume, I’d buy it!

Each spritz brings a bouquet of roses and fresh-squeezed oranges to your senses, and there’s almost a touch of sweet honey as the mist dries and the scent rounds out.

It’s perfect for spring and summer, because hello freshness, but it’s also one to keep during the cooler fall and winter months to remind yourself that roses and oranges are just around the corner.

So, final verdict: I think I already told you. I’m buying this next month (and may have to sample the other two facial mists in the collection).

Odacite is just one of those brands that seems to nail it with almost every product.

What’s been your experience with Odacite? Do you have separate toners for separate needs? What scents do you like? Tell me in the comments section!

 

July 14, 2014

beauty secrets | the ultimate guide to natural sunscreens

No matter where you are in the “Should I Be Wearing Sunscreen?” green beauty discussion, I think everyone can agree that protecting your skin is imperative to keeping it youthful and soft, be it through mineral sun protection, shade, clothing or avoiding the sun at high-exposure times.

I’m in the “use natural sunscreen” camp, and I’ve tried several natural face sunscreens over the years.

I will admit that I haven’t found a natural body sunscreen that I love and do use conventional sunscreen sprays on my body to keep it burn-free.

However, I’ve found several wonderful natural sunscreen options for my face and neck and am excited to share my faves (and the duds) with you in this ever-growing post!

Keep this bookmarked to see what other natural sunscreens I add to the lists, and don’t forget to check out my other guides to natural deodorants and natural mascaras.

A Note About My Skin: I’m half-Asian, so I have olive / yellow undertones and can easily look very Casper-ish with natural sunscreens that don’t blend well.

Another Note: This little asterisk* indicates I received the natural sunscreen as a PR sample. So, yes, free stuff as well as paid-for-on-my-own stuff gets honest feedback around here!

best natural sunscreens

Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase

*Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish

New to me in summer 2014, Coola’s Mineral Face SPF 30 Cucumber Matte Finish has everything you’d want in a makeup primer — including a high SPF! Dimethicone gives it that slip, though, so if you’re avoiding this ingredient, you’ll want to pass on this natural sunscreen. I use this as a base if I’m wearing heavier-than-normal makeup so that my skin doesn’t feel like it has a billion layers of product on it.

Pratima Neem Rose Face Sunscreen

Pratima’s Neem Rose Face Sunscreen is my absolute favorite that I recommend over and over again. I discovered this natural sunscreen in 2011 and have been a fan of its silky formula and subtly scent of rose, neem and licorice ever since. I can’t rave more and more about this sunscreen — it’s a deserted island staple for sure.

*Suntegrity Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer

Though it feels a bit sticky at first application, Suntegrity’s Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen and Primer blends beautifully into your skin and smells of fresh citrus. It’s perfect for those with oily skin that want a sunscreen whose texture feels like it’s “mopping up” excess oil. It’s also one of those fabulous multipurpose products thanks to its primer properties; no shine here!

Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase But Only Wear in the Winter

Badger Damascus Rose SPF 16 Face Sunscreen Lotion

Badger’s Damascus Rose SPF 16 Face Sunscreen Lotion is clearly a winner, but it stays in this conditional, in-between category because of its lower SPF rating. If your sunscreen’s not SPF 30, it’s kind of pointless to wear unless it’s not really sunny and you’re inside all day. Badger is reformulating all of its sunscreens for release in early 2015, so I’m crossing my fingers for this one to re-debut as an SPF 30.

*Consonant 100% Natural Matte Finish Sunscreen

I fell in love with the creamy, smooth texture of Consonant’s 100% Natural Matte Finish Sunscreen, but it suffers the same fate as Badger above. SPF 15 just won’t cut it. Consonant does, however, make a “Perfect Sunscreen” that’s SPF 30, so onto the wish list it goes!

Natural Sunscreens I Will Repurchase But Only Wear At the Pool or Beach

*California Naturel Sunscreen SPF 30

California Naturel’s Sunscreen SPF 30 took a bit to rub into my skin (and I feared the white cast for a bit until I really massage it in), but after one application and several hours in the sun, this natural sunscreen performed! I didn’t redden or burn, and though re-application was a bit of a pain (again, massaging it in), I didn’t feel like it immediately slid off my face when I sweat or took a dip in the water.

With that said, I reserve this for outdoor activities only because it feels kind of thick and does take that extra time to apply to the skin.

*California Baby No Fragrance SPF 30 Sunblock Stick

I’ve noted how cute California Baby’s No Fragrance SPF 30 Sunblock Stick is in my previous review, but for me, this cuteness is designated for summer beach bags only. It’s not an absolutely necessary product for year-round use. Instead, it’s a great addition to your beach bag that encourages you to remember to cover your ears, exposed moles and other random body parts with SPF.

Natural Sunscreens I Will Not Repurchase

*DeVita Solar Protective Moisturizer SPF 30+

After this post went live, a lot of you asked about DeVita, and I totally forgot that yes, I have tried it, and no, unfortunately, it’s not a repurchase for me.

The texture was fine, and it didn’t leave that white cast, but I found that as I massaged it into my skin, the formula would “ball up” and these little white particles, similar in texture when you use a pencil eraser and the little nubby things would deposit onto the paper, would appear on my skin.

I do not like little white nubby things on my face. It kind of cramps my style and makes makeup application a nightmare.

*Eminence Tomato Sun Cream SPF 16

Besides the SPF being lower than my preference, I’m just not a fan of the packaging of Eminence’s Tomato Sun Cream SPF 16. A jar? No, no, no. When I’m outside, sweaty and reapplying sunscreen, the last thing I want to do is stick my fingers into a jar of sunscreen. Pumps, squeeze bottles or sprays only, please. If Eminence could re-evaluate the packaging, this one could move up to the “natural sunscreens I will repurchase but only wear in the winter” category.

*Sunday Riley Cashmere Mist SPF 30

I truly adored this sunscreen (read my review), but to be blunt, it’s just too damn expensive at $125 for 50 ml. My beloved Pratima sunscreen costs $28 for 60 ml, if that gives you some context.

July 9, 2014

beauty scoop | laurel whole plant organics facial elixir oily to combination skin

When it comes to toning mists, I’m typically drawn to two types.

The first type is a no-nonsense, acne-preventing mist that keeps my pores clean and helps open them up to allow my spot treatments to penetrate a bit deeper.

The second type is a luxurious, moisturizing mist that re-hydrates, calms and makes my skin feel deeply nourished before even applying my oils and serums.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics’ Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin is some sort of hybrid of my two types, which basically means it’s a dream come true.

laurel whole plant organics facial elixir for oily to combination skin

{Laurel Whole Plant Organics sent me a sample of its Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin. It costs $44 for a 100 ml Miron glass spray bottle.}

Natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and astringent-like ingredients blend with calming, soothing and antioxidant-rich ingredients to give Laurel Whole Plant Organics’ Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin a balanced, refreshing texture.

As you spray your face, the juicy-fresh elixir (that kind of smells like grapes to me?!) envelopes your skin in a nutrient-dense wetness that’s obviously saturated, yet not dripping or awkwardly wet. It’s definitely not a fine mist, but it’s not too targeted that it goes on in odd blotches.

Instead, I’ve found that because Laurel Whole Plant Organics’ Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin goes on so wet (after just 2-3 sprays!), it allows me to use less of my daytime and evening oils, as it helps the oil slip around a bit better on my skin.

Also, of course, because the elixir itself has potent moisturizing properties.

laurel whole plant organics facial elixir for oily to combination skin

Here are the ingredients that make up this slippery elixir:

Organic Chamomile Hydrosol, Organic Witch Hazel Hydrosol, Organic Calendula Hydrosol, Neroli Hydrosol, Organic Rose Geranium Hydrosol, Organic Helichrysum Hydrosol, Organic Lemon Balm Hydrosol, Organic Frankincense Hydrosol, Organic Lavender Hydrosol, Extracts of Organic Calendula, Organic Self Heal, Organic Echinacea, Organic Licorice, Organic Meadowsweet, Organic Cleaver, Organic Chickweed; Microorganism Ferment, Organic Proprietary Flower Essence, Organic Essential Oil Blend of Lavender, Organic Neroli, Organic Lemon Balm, Organic Helichrysum, and Organic Roman Chamomile

I think my skin responded so well to Laurel Whole Plant Organics Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin because of the inclusion of acne-fighting ingredients such as organic witch hazel, organic frankincense hydrosol and lavender; my spotty skin reacts well to those core ingredients, not to mention the other mess of good stuff Laurel packs into this mist.

I’m particularly interested in the healing powers of chamomile, meadowsweet and lemon balm; I know my girl Lilly has been raving about chamomile lately, specifically for sensitive skin.

Acne-prone skin is likely in the “sensitive skin” category, too, so it makes sense to see chamomile, which is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, included in a toner for oily and combination skin.

Meadowsweet is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties but is also astringent, which could be another component of the skin-clearing properties of this toner.

Same goes for lemon balm, but it’s also rich in antioxidants that protect skin from further damage and distress.

Because of all that — and the beautiful packaging that looks fantastic on my bathroom vanity — Laurel Whole Plant Organics Facial Elixir for Oily to Combination Skin is a repurchase for me.

I think the $44 pricing is fair for a luxury, well-packaged, thoughtful ingredient-full toner that gives you the best of both worlds: acne prevention and hydration.

Have you tried anything from Laurel Whole Plant Organics? What do you look for in a toner?

If you’re acne-prone, what ingredients does your skin react well to, and do toners typically work for your holistic prevention plan? Tell me in the comments section!



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