Entries Tagged as 'beauty secrets'

May 29, 2014

beauty secrets | the ultimate guide to natural mascaras

Recently, I’ve had several people ask me about my favorite natural mascaras, so I figured it was time to finally reveal the notes I’ve been keeping in my Gmail drafts (yes, that’s how I roll) and share my ultimate guide to natural mascaras to date.

This will be an ever-growing post (similar to the ultimate guide to natural sunscreens and the ultimate guide to natural deodorants), so bookmark this baby to see the various natural mascaras I’ve tried, reviewed and repurchased.

A Note About My Eyes: I’ve said this before, but I have short, stick-straight, half-Asian eyelashes that point straight down. My Shu Uemura eyelash curler is my best friend, and I’m after a mascara that can 1) lengthen; 2) thicken; 3) hold a curl; and 4) not smudge on my oily skin.

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

Natural Mascaras I Will Not Repurchase

natural mascaras kimberlyloc will not repurchase

100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Mascara

While it didn’t smudge (hallelujah!), 100% Pure’s Fruit Pigmented Mascara felt too dry and flaked off on me after a few hours. It’s extremely natural looking, too, meaning no real length or thickness added. If your lashes are already beautiful, then 1) I hate you and 2) you may want to try this (who knows if it will flake on you).

*Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara

Alima Pure’s Natural Definition Mascara smudges within a few hours of applying. The lengthening power is nice, but the black spots are not.

Benecos Maximum Volume Mascara

Benecos’ Maximum Volume Mascara hass an extremely wet formula, which leads to crazy smudging within an hour of applying — even if I’m patient and let it dry completely before doing my daily acrobatics workout (this is a joke). For the hour that it’s not smudging, it lengthens my lashes but doesn’t do much to hold a curl or thicken. This is very common for Asian lashes — we need drier formulas that don’t weigh us back down. Any wet-formula mascara is going to be an epic fail for us.

*Dr. Hauschka Mascara

Another natural mascara that’s easily available at my local Whole Foods, Dr. Hauschka’s Mascara smudges on me and offers zero lift or va-va-voom factor.

*Honeybee Naturals Truly Natural Mascara

I tried Honeybee Naturals a looooong time ago (back in my magazine editor days, circa 2008-ish), so unless there’s been a new formulation since then, this baby smudged on me, too.

Ilia Beauty Mascara in Nightfall

Ilia Beauty Mascara in Nightfall is the newest mascara in my collection (see it in this Instagram), and while I’m impressed with how long-lasting it is and appreciate that it doesn’t clump or smudge, I wish it thickened my lashes and held a curl a bit better. I have to re-curl my lashes a few hours after applying this to re-lock the shape. I will say that it has a better-than-natural look about it, so this could be an option for those days when your eye makeup is a little more subtle and you’re really doing up your lips. I could see myself possibly repurchasing this, but for $26, I’d expect it to meet all my needs.

*Jing Ai Eye Paint Mascara

I can’t tell if Donna from Jing Ai still sells her Eye Paint Mascara (I saw it for sale on a different site, but not Jing Ai’s), but alas, this super-inky natural mascara smudged like crazy on me and offered very little volume.

Josie Maran GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara

I wanted to love this natural mascara because, I mean, it’s Josie Maran, just look at her, and it’s readily available at my local Sephora, but also it smudges like whoa on my oily skin.

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin FakeOut Mascara

Like its sister formula below, this natural mascara from Physician’s Fornula isn’t too bad overall, but it dries out very quickly and flakes a bit. Too bad because this could have been a winner (especially at such an affordable price). Oh the balance between being a not-too-wet and not-too-dry mascara!

Physician’s Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Jumbo Lash Mascara

You can read my in-depth review of this natural mascara, but the short version is that this budget-friendly natural mascara from Physician’s Formulas is clumpy and smudges by the end of the day. It’s not too bad overall (to last all day without smudging is quite a feat!), but it’s not a repurchase for me.

*Pür Minerals Big Blink Mascara

This natural mascara from Pür Minerals lengthens and doesn’t smudge, but it doesn’t fatten up my lashes unless it’s doing so by making them extremely clumpy.

RMS Beauty Mascara

I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to RMS Beauty’s Mascara. It didn’t flake or smudge, but it didn’t give me that “Wow!” look; it’s just a nice, clean, natural-looking mascara that’s comparable to Ilia Beauty’s. Quite honestly, I guess I could just copy and paste my Ilia review and stick it here (I mean, even the packaging is quite similar!). I just expect a bit more from a $28 natural mascara. I’m going to keep it in my arsenal and continue to play with it, perhaps even layering it over or under Ilia’s to see if I can create a texture and hold that I like.

Natural Mascaras I Will Repurchase

(Once I Learn To Quit Obsessing Over Trying to Find Something Better Than These)

*BareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara

At first application, I thought BareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara would be another “natural look” mascara. Not so. It’s extremely buildable yet doesn’t clump thanks to all the fine little lash separators in the wand. BareMinerals Flawless Definition Mascara really does lengthen and lift the lashes, and when applied in even coats, gives you that bit of thick, dramatic fullness.

Pacifica Stellar Gaze Length & Strength Mineral Mascara

To be honest, I didn’t have very high hopes for Pacifica’s Stellar Gaze Length & Strength Mineral Mascara when I got it in a recent Goodebox. However, I was pleasantly surprised. This coconut oil-infused natural mascara didn’t run or flake on me, and I found that because the formula is a bit drier, it helped hold the curl in my stick-straight lashes while defining and lengthening every last one of them. The thickness and volume of my lashes with this mascara wasn’t va-va-voom, but it wasn’t paltry, either; it’s actually pretty comparable to Tarte’s performance!

Perfekt Lash Perfection Gel

As noted in this makeup of the day post, Perfekt’s Lash Perfection Gel has a medium-sized brush that’s brilliant at coating each and every lash with the perfect amount of mascara that helps you achieve both length and thickness.

*Studio 78 Paris We Flirt Around: Double Effect Mascara

I’ve heard a lot of hype around Studio 78 Paris’ “We Flirt Around: Double Effect Mascara,” and it’s for good reason — it works! Marissa at BeauTeaBar sent me a sample to try, and while I’m always a skeptic, I was wowed by the performance of this natural mascara. It’s not too wet and not too try; this is another one that’s very comparable to Tarte and is almost a hybrid of Tarte and BareMinerals — but with way chicer packaging. It held my curl and didn’t flake or smudge on me. Hello for another win!

Tarte Lights, Cameras, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara

I’ve repurchased Tarte’s Lights, Cameras, Lashes 4-in-1 Mascara several times; it’s my go-to when I’m frustrated by the natural mascara hunt. You can see me wearing it in this makeup of the day post, but I’ll go ahead and tell you again that this is a staple because of the lengthening, curling, defining and thickening it offers.

What are some of your favorite natural mascaras? What do you look for in a great natural mascara? What picks in my “will not repurchase” list are on YOUR repurchase list? Tell me in the comments section!


May 28, 2014

beauty secrets | best pixie hair styling products, part 2

It’s been nearly a year since I chopped all my hair off into a pixie cut.

In that time, I’ve tried several styling products — some clean, some conventional — and have finally arrived upon my favorite three products for keeping my short ‘do sassy and stylish.

View what I used in the beginning and see how the pixie cut has evolved.

best pixie hair styling products

1. Pre-heat Styling Aid

I like the idea of using a heat-resistant spray, but coupled with what I actually need — a pre-heat styling aid to get my hair a bit gritty before drying and styling — I have opted to only use Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment.

Nope, it’s not “natural,” but it is free of sulfates, silicones and oils.

The oil-free thing is necessary for someone like me with fine hair, so I don’t mind that bit of marketing (and you guys know that I love my hair oils — for overnight use only).

I happened upon Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment via a swag bag I received during Kansas City Fashion Week back in March and have been using my trial size daily since then. It’s a repurchase for me (unless some clean beauty brand tells me it has something amazing that mimics this stuff!).

2. Texturizing Agent

After navigating the wonderful world of creams, pomades, pastes, waxes and so forth, I finally landed on one that has the perfect strength, consistency and performance for my fine, oily strands that tend to fly away and bend in funny ones: Aveda Control Paste.

I’ve gone through two tubs of this stuff (purchased at my local Aveda salon, Xiphium, and as my favorite natural spa, Milagro Midwestern Spa & Collective, purged its Aveda inventory in favor of cleaner hair products).

While yes, Aveda is part of big beauty now and could be a lot cleaner, I find that this sticky putty keeps my fine hair under control without weighing it down or making it look greasy.

Side note: I was inspired to try Aveda Control Paste after seeing how well it held up a faux hawk on the young man behind the counter at Miette in San Francisco. Yes, I’m that girl who asks about all your beauty products when you’re just trying to sell me a sweet treat!

3. Hairspray

In my previous post about pixie cut styling picks, I mentioned Davines N°7 Crystal Fixative Lacquer.

I still like this hairspray, but have found that Aveda’s Control Force Hairspray has a better spray mechanism; it’s more evenly distributed in a fine, wide mist.

Aveda Control Force Hairspray also has a slightly better hold (they weren’t joking with that “Control Force” naming!). Anyone with a pixie cut knows that the final spray around the head is essential to locking in a style; to have a hairspray that does this without making your hair hard / crunchy / helmet-like is an instant winner!

Do any of my readers have pixie cuts? If so, tell me what you’re using and how it works for your hair type in the comments below!


September 4, 2013

beauty secrets | guide to a night for green beauty

I’ve been looking forward to today for so many months.

To kick off New York Fashion Week in style, some of my favorite natural beauty brands are coming together to celebrate real beauty in downtown Manhattan tonight.

Major props to La Bella Figura for organizing this event all the way from Chicago. I encourage you to tweet a special “thank you” to Victoria and Karen for spearheading this effort to unite beautiful brands during one of the craziest weeks of the year — no small task!

a night for green beauty new york fashion week september 2013

If you find yourself around the Flatiron District tonight with nothing to do, please do pop in and say hello to everyone! You will leave feeling more beautiful than when you arrived.

And if you do come, prep yourself beforehand with this key knowledge about some of the founders present tonight:

La Bella Figura cofounder Victoria Fantauzzi is your go-to girl for a mixture of homemade beauty products and vitamins should you find yourself needing a boost!

Die-hard argan oil fan? Kahina Giving Beauty’s Katharine L’Heureux can probably school you a bit more in the power of this miracle oil.

Skin chef May Lindstrom will likely debut a new product tonight (you saw it here first!), and if we’re lucky, we may get to meet sweet Talia tonight, too.

S.W. Basics of Brooklyn (aka Sprout Skincare) has one of the coolest founders, Adina Grigore. She’s a no-frills, back to basics kind of girl who tells it like it is.

One Love Organics founder Suzanne LeRoux doesn’t like to get watered down with inefficiencies. Keep the pressed juice coming for Suzanne!

Got a copy of Eco-Beautiful? Bring it to the event and maybe beautiful Lina Hanson will sign it for you!

If Olie Biologique founder Linda Alixe Thompson isn’t there in person tonight, her feisty social media team better be! Her brand has one of the most upbeat personalities on Twitter. Bring your A-game and Mophies.

One of my best friends, Gina, and I will be sipping fresh organic juice (and perhaps organic wine!) while we connect with the green beauty community and the fabulous founders behind today’s most luxurious, healthy skincare and makeup brands. I hope to see you there!

Will you be at A Night for Green Beauty (#GreenBeautyNYFW)? What are you most excited about this season? Tell me in the comments, and please do tweet me @kimberlyloc if you’re in NYC — I’m here until Sunday!


August 30, 2013

beauty secrets | coconut oil for beginners

My foray into natural beauty oils started with the beloved jojoba oil.

While I recommend it to anyone who is curious about oil cleansing, it’s now joined by my other favorite multipurpose oil, coconut oil, in my recommendations for a beautiful, multipurpose oil.

If you’re new to the natural beauty space, besides reading this blog (thanks!) and the loads of other great ones out there (see my blogroll to the right), another great resource specifically for coconut oil is “Coconut Oil for Beginners.”

(Pretty straightforward name, huh?)

coconut oil for beginners

{I received a review copy of “Coconut Oil for Beginners” and read it front to back in no time! It’s a great guide to this miracle oil and includes lovely DIY hair and beauty recipes as well as foodie recipes — count me in! It retails for $9.99 paperback and $2.51 for your Kindle. Curious about my favorite coconut oil? It’s from Tropical Traditions. (Smaller size here)}

While I wouldn’t consider myself a beginner in this space (been a green beauty lover since 2007), I still enjoyed reading “Coconut Oil for Beginners” because it’s written in an easy-to-digest way.

Below, I’ll give you a taste of what’s inside of this staple book. If you love what you read, scoop it up — it’s a crazy for $2.51 for your Kindle or $9.99 paperback!

(And hey, if you subscribe to my yet-to-be-launched monthly e-newsletter, you may get another bite out of this book … I’ve got some killer coconut oil recipes to share! See the right rail of the blog for the subscribe box.)

A Shopper’s Guide to Coconut Oil

In the land of coconuts, all oil is not made the same. Just as with other nut and vegetable oils, the quality of the product depends on the extraction process and whether or not the oil is refined.

As with all produce, pesticides and other chemicals are a serious consideration that lends even more confusion to the buying process. There are several different forms of coconut oil adorning your grocer’s shelf just waiting to be chosen, but how to choose?

Coconut Oil Buying Tip

When the term organic is applied to coconut oil, it only guarantees that the coconut palm or the oil itself wasn’t treated with any fertilizers, pesticides, or solvents that aren’t organic as defined by that country’s certifying organization. It doesn’t mean that the oil hasn’t been refined or hydrogenated.

Refined Versus Unrefined Coconut Oil

Let’s start with the two broadest categories, refined and unrefined, and then break it down further from there. There’s not only a difference in the processing of refined and unrefined oil, but also a significant difference in taste.

Unrefined Coconut Oil

This type of oil is exactly what the name implies: It’s left in the natural state after it’s pressed. You may recognize this type better by its more common name: virgin coconut oil.

Virgin oils are generally going to have a richer, nuttier flavor, and they will maintain the full nutritional value because they haven’t been subjected to heat that can kill the delicate enzymes.

Unrefined coconut oil has a shelf life of up to two years and a relatively high smoke point (the point at which taste and nutritional value degrade) of 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Refined Coconut Oil

There are several reasons why coconut oil may be refined.

First and foremost, refining removes impurities or chemicals that may have been used during the extraction process.

The second reason for refining coconut oil is that it increases the smoke point so you can cook with it at higher temperatures without it burning and degrading.

Finally, refined oils don’t carry much coconut flavor, if any, so refining makes the coconut oil a more versatile product.

Refining isn’t always bad; there are modern ways to do it using steam or diatomaceous earth (a soft sedimentary rock used as a filtration aid) to cleanse and purify the oil.

Do your research before purchasing a refined coconut oil, so you know what you’re getting!

Other Processes that Affect Nutritional Values

If you’re using virgin or unrefined coconut oil, none of the following terms will be an issue, but if you want to use a refined oil for, say, frying foods without imparting a coconut flavor, then you need to be aware of the following processes in order to make an informed choice.

Refined, Bleached, and Deodorized (RBD)

Although this sounds like something that you’d do to your gym shoes after a long run, it’s actually a common practice with fats and oils. Many oils go rancid quickly or are extracted with chemicals that can be harmful.

Also, if the oil has gone rancid, a deodorizing process will be used to mask the smell. As you can probably guess, this process isn’t exactly good for you or the oil.

Hydrogenated Coconut Oil

In an attempt to increase the melting point, refined, saturated fats such as the ones found in coconut oil are combined with hydrogen particles to make them more saturated and thus more shelf stable.

Hydrogenated coconut oil is used when you need a more solid product, such as when making cake icing. This process threw coconut oil under the bus with the rest of the unhealthy fats back in the 1960s because hydrogenation causes the formation of trans fats, the bad boys that cause heart disease and other potentially deadly disorders.

Avoid hydrogenated fats, if you can.

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Sometimes the medium-chain triglycerides are separated out of coconut oil for specific purposes.

Generally, fractionation is done for medical, cosmetic, dietary, or industrial needs. The triglycerides can be used as a nutrient in specific situations, so most likely you’re not going to encounter this at the grocery store unless you’re at a specialty athletic store.

Excerpted with Permission, Rockridge Press

Do you use coconut oil? If not, what oils do you prefer? Tell me in the comments section!


August 16, 2013

beauty secrets | green beauty blogger skincare tag

Oh how I love to play tag — especially when the only running involved is me going back and forth to my bathroom vanity to scoop up my favorite products to share with you!

Thanks to Lilly of Genuine Glow for tagging me in this green beauty blogger tell-all post. What a fun way to get a little more intimate on the interwebs (and maybe answer some questions that you may have had but never asked).


Describe your skin care routine in 5 words.

kimberlyloc face oils oil up and beauty begins

{I found this photo on Flickr and layered my skin care philosophy on top of it. Feel free to share it! Original photo by Beth Day / Courtesy Flickr}

“Oil up and beauty begins.”

What’s your skin type?

kimberlyloc vml black and white photo

{This photo is from 2010, back when I worked at a digital agency in Kansas City. I love the shades of black and gray and how creamy my skin looks! Not to mention the mysterious mood it created when my hair could cover my eyes.}

  • Very oily T-zone, slightly oily cheeks. Dry feet, hands and elbows. Soft body skin.
  • Acne-prone (hairline, sides of cheeks, chin)
  • Yellow undertones thanks to Chinese and Vietnamese heritage
  • Redness around the nostrils thanks to broken capillaries and Scottish-ness (gotta blame something on my dad?)
  • Bags under eyes due to night-owl tendencies
  • Very few signs of wrinkles (thanks, Mom!)

What’s your favorite skin care product?

Plant oils! I use them to cleanse, moisturize and treat my skin from head to toe.

I have coconut oil, argan oil, marula oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, rosehip oil, tamanu oil and several beautiful blends on-hand at all times.

If I could bathe in a deep tub of exotic oils, I would. (Can somebody please set that up for me?)

Top blemish zapper?

zum rub frankincense and myrrh kimberlyloc acne treatment

Zum Rub in Frankincense & Myrrh, hands down. When a natural product that costs less than $10 at the health food store makes my cystic acne go away, I sing its praises forever. (Buy it on Amazon for a bit more.)

Face wipes: Yay or Nay?

Yay, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays after yoga class. It’s a convenience thing. I also use the wipes to scrub down my mat after class.

I know face wipes aren’t exactly environmentally friendly, but I’m not perfect. I need to be able to wash up after class in a very small bathroom filled with several yogis and not monopolize the sink.

Toner: Yay or Nay?

Yay, as long as the toner is alcohol-free!

I always use a toner or hydrosol to prep my skin before apply my face oils so that my skin is a bit damp and ready to receive the moisture.

I also like to spritz my face once I’m finished with my makeup application, and I freshen up with a toner a little bit throughout the day to stay glowing.

High-end skin care or high-end make-up?

I believe in investing in high-quality, clean skincare that allows your own natural beauty to shine through. Whether it’s a high-end, high-price brand or a budget-friendly miracle product, what matters most is that it’s beneficial for your skin and allows you to spend less time in front of the mirror covering imperfections.

I prefer to use makeup to enhance my features, and I can spend more time perfecting the glorious cat eye when I don’t have to worry about covering recurring breakouts, redness and inflammation.

I’m prone to all of these issues, but when I eat clean, do yoga, keep my stress levels low and am diligent with my skincare routine, I experience these issues less. There have even been weeks where I’ve felt confident enough to walk out of the house without foundation or concealer! That’s the power of effective skincare.

What’s the most unusual skin care product you’ve tried?

I’ve tried a bee venom mask twice. It’s in my queue for review, but I need to give it another go-round to collect my thoughts on it. It’s … interesting.

You’re in a pharmacy and can only pick up one item — what is it?

beauty blogger kimberlyloc nail polish collection

{Yes, this is my real nail polish collection. Yes, I like nail polish.}

Nail polish! (Most pharmacies don’t stock the skin care products I covet — I buy my oils at Whole Foods or online.)

We all know that there’s no such thing as a natural nail polish. I prefer 3- or 5-free polishes, and many of my favorite mainstream nail polish brands (like OPI) are up to this standard. They just don’t advertise it the way so-called “natural” brands do because it’s not a core value for their target market.

I pick and choose my battles when it comes to clean beauty. Nail polish battles cannot be won.

Tell us your top skincare tips.

1. Stay hydrated inside and out. If you aren’t constantly getting up to pee, you need to drink more! If your coworkers aren’t giving you side eyes for spraying your face and patting on oil mid-morning and mid-afternoon, you need to freak them out a little more!

2. Don’t pick! I am a constant offender in this department. I’ve prolonged a breakout for days because of this annoying little tendency. Just leave it alone! Keep your healing breakouts moisturized (Zum Rub, I’m telling ya!) to avoid the crusty feeling (yeap, I went there).

3. Treat yourself to a mask. I typically get professional facials every quarter, but I’ve been lax on it because there are so many amazing masks on the market that you can do at home. I make Sunday my spa day and treat myself, but sometimes I’ll give myself a mask mid-week if it’s been tough or if I feel like my skin needs a boost.

4. Work out. Whatever it is that you like to do — run, swim, bike, yoga, sports — do something that makes your heart beat faster and your skin sweat like crazy. Exercise is the ultimate body detox, and I can see the effects on my skin when I skip yoga for prolonged periods of time. My breakouts increase and my pores appear larger. Get moving!

5. When you find something that works, stick with it. Being a beauty blogger means that I’m constantly adding new products to my skincare rotation; however, I have my staples that I go to when my skin needs to get back to a balance (coconut oil, jojoba oil and Zum Rub are my absolutes). A minimalistic approach to skincare can really help as long as the edited selection of products you use actually do something for your skin

I’d love to know the skincare secrets of some of my favorite bloggers. 312 Beauty, Neimans Idealist and Seed to Serum, care to share?

So, do we have anything in common? Did anything I shared surprise you? Tell me in the comments section!


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