Entries Tagged as 'beauty secrets'

June 29, 2016

beauty secrets | flower therapy for the skin & mind

A reflection of overall health, our skin often reacts to heightened stress levels. This can result in exacerbated conditions — both physical and emotional.

But what if there were a natural solution that could help calm both mind and body?

Beautiful and healing, flowers offer a bouquet of benefits to our skin and psyche. Florals — and their extracts — have been staples in homemade medicine cabinets for millennia.


This is the topic of my July / August 2016 article for Mother Earth Living, on newsstands now. The piece features a few insights from flower essence and aromatherapy experts Katie Hess of Lotus Wei and Hope Gillerman of Hope Gillerman Organics.

Check out the full piece online (and don’t forget to read this and this, which is all packaged together in print but broken apart online) or pick up the beautiful magazine for the full experience!

How do you use flower essences and aromatherapy in your everyday routine? What have you tried from Lotus Wei and Hope Gillerman Organics? Anybody still read print magazines? If so, which ones? Tell me in the comments!

March 18, 2016

my approach to evening skincare products

As a follow-up to my post about morning skincare products, I thought it’d be useful to see the slight differences in how I treat my skin at night.

My evening skincare routine is a little more indulgent than the morning routine (though I’m sure many of you are thinking holy shit that’s a lot of products for both times of day!). Please humor me. There’s a method to my madness.

For evening skincare, I use a mix of products designed to hydrate, nourish, moisturize and plump my skin as I drift off to sleep. I believe nighttime moisture leads to supple morning skin, and I’m not afraid to layer skincare treatments to target anything I’m trying to address (usually acne and flakes, fun huh?).

While this post isn’t meant to deliver product reviews, you can easily see some picks from these categories on my favorites page.

evening skincare routine products

My Evening Skincare Routine

Oil or Balm Cleansers

For makeup removal and an indulgent facial massage, look no further than a single carrier oil or simple balm. There’s a billion to choose from, so it depends on your preference and skin sensitivity, but the point is that you don’t need fancy, overly marketing makeup removers to get the job done.

Secret: Before I went clean beauty, I used simple baby oil (mineral oil) to remove my makeup. I made the switch to jojoba oil (same effect, only cleaner) and never looked back.

When it comes to balms vs. cleansers, it’s a matter of preference in texture. I like them both, but balms travel better. Oils tend to have a better slip for a great facial massage, but balms feel cushiony and comforting, especially when you’re feeling dry and flaky. You can easily alternate balms and oils by season, or keep a little bit of each on hand to satisfy your changing cravings.

The point is, you don’t need anything fancy here, but for aromatherapeutic effects, you can try more complex cleansing balms that incorporate more scents and interesting ingredients. I remove my balm or oil with a hot, black (the color is important!) wash cloth and move on to the next step.

Find my cleansing oil and multipurpose cleansing balm reviews in the archives.

Gel Cleansers

While in the morning I prefer a gentle cream cleanser to wash away light sweat and oil, at night, I prefer a gentle gel cleanser with a light foam to remove any remaining traces of makeup post-oil cleanse.

At times, I rotate in a gel cleanser with glycolic or salicylic acid if my skin is being fussy (think: PMS week). But, for the most part, I stick with a simple gel cleanser that’s light on scents and lather so my skin doesn’t feel irritated or stripped of moisture.

It’s not often, but sometimes I like to use a skincare brush with my gel cleansers, but more often than not, it’s just my hands, cleanser and water.

Need recommendations? See my “Ultimate Guide to Face Cleansers” for mini-reviews.

Acid Toners (Optional)

My acneic skin responds really, really well to acid toners, especially those made with salicylic or lactic acids. They help decongest my skin and make it more receptive to targeted treatments, serums and oils.

However, my skin can get a little annoyed if I use acid toners too frequently (think irritation and redness), so I have to be very tuned-in to how my skin is reacting. That means some nights, I may only use acid toners on my problem areas (chin and jawline — thanks, hormones) and other nights, I may skip acid altogether.

I save my stronger acids for evening use (yes, there’s such a thing as mild acid toners!), and if my skin is feeling a bit sensitive but not irritated, I’ll use a mild acid toner in its place. Options, options, options.

Find my acid toner reviews in the archives.

Hydrating Toners / Mists

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: hydrating toning mists are non-negotiable! I cannot be without this comforting ritual, and I love the way a fine, hydrating mist gets my skin ready for the moisture to come.

At night, in between moisturizing treatments (like balms and oils), I may indulge my skin in another layer of hydrating mist. The addiction is real.

Find my toner picks on my “faves” page.

Targeted Face Serums

This is where it gets fun. My definition of serum is pretty traditional, so here goes: An oil is not a serum. Gonna cause some drama here, I’m sure.

What some may call a “face serum,” I call a “face oil.” Face oils are wonderful, but they are not serums. A serum, to me, is a targeted, fast-drying, water-based treatment that can truly penetrate skin without blocking layers of skincare to come. While many face oils have targeted benefits, let’s just call an oil (no matter how beautiful the blend) an oil.

Rant over.

I like to incorporate evening face serums that have vitamin A, exfoliating enzymes or lush hydrating ingredients, depending on what I’m targeting. It’s important to not overdo it in the exfoliating enzyme department, especially if you acid tone, so that’s why serums with gentle moisture from hyaluronic acid and ceramides always get a spot in the collection, too.

Find my face serum reviews in the archives.

Creams or Balms

A great, cushiony balm is always welcome on my face at night — but I’ve also warmed up to creams quite a bit lately. I’ll choose a cream if my skin feels tight and dehydrated, and I may even layer a little bit of balm over flaky areas.

I’ll go straight balm if I want to feel cushioned and cocooned in thick goodness (and have a little time to let everything settle in). Balms tend to get more play in colder weather and targeted use in warmer weather.

Creams are seeing more play overall recently, as I’m rediscovering their magical, lightweight hydrating ways during warmer weather. Sometimes I skip creams and balms altogether and go straight from serum to facial oil. Options, I say!

Find my reviews of creams and balms in the archives.

Face Oils

At night, anything goes. I love simple, one-ingredient face oils when layering over creams or balms. It’s also important to have a high quality, one-ingredient face oil on hand when your skin is experiencing irritation. Gotta tone it all down and keep it simple.

If I’m skipping the layering step, I choose more complex ingredient blends to get the biggest bang — think facial oils that include a variety of actives, vitamins and antioxidants. I love finding interesting blends that include potent extracts. Vitamin C isn’t as important to me at night because of the lack of sun exposure (though it doesn’t hurt to use at night!).

Find my reviews of face oils in the archives.

Eye Treatments

At night, I like to indulge in eye balms and eye oils. Eye balms come into play in cold weather, and eye oils treat my peepers when it’s warm. I’m pretty consistent about using eye treatments at night (again, I’m obsessed with evening moisture and hydration), and patting in product around my eyes doesn’t feel like it’s adding too much additional time to my leisurely evening routine.

See my reviews of eye balms, eye creams and eye oils & serums in the archives.

Acne Treatments

Now here comes the glamorous part. Acne. In my 30s. Sigh. Because my breakouts tend to be hormonal (chin and jawline), I spot-treat with targeted acne balms and treatments instead of spreading unnecessary product all over my face.

My hope is that my overall routine is preventative, but when zits happen, I spot treat as much as possible to keep myself from going in for the squeeze.

See my reviews of acne-fighting products in the archives.

Lip Balms

A lip balm is a lip balm, right? Well, kind of. Except, at night, I like thicker lip balms to coat my lips so I don’t wake up dry and cracked in the morning. There’s a few lip balms that I like for both day and night, and only one or two that I absolutely must have for nighttime only.

Regardless, I keep lip balms everywhere and have a dedicated space for one on my bedside table.

Find my lip balm picks on my “faves” page.

What product categories are in your evening skincare routine? Do you acid tone at night? Tell me in the comments!

March 16, 2016

my approach to morning skincare products

Though I’ve tested hundreds (thousands?) of products since 2010, one thing I try to keep consistent is the types of products in my skincare routine.

For morning skincare, I use a mix of products designed to keep oiliness at a minimum and protect my skin from the elements. While this post isn’t meant to deliver product reviews, you can easily see some picks from these categories on my favorites page.

morning skincare routine products

My Morning Skincare Routine

Cream Cleansers

During my morning shower, I like to wash with a gentle cream cleanser. Sometimes I use only my hands to massage in the cleanser. Other times I will apply to a konjac sponge to get a little extra exfoliation.

My morning cream cleansing routine assumes that I was diligent about my evening routine the night before (yeap, there are still occasions when I am too tired to wash my face — the horror!). If I was bad, then I’ll use a quick cleansing balm and then follow up with a gentle gel cleanser instead.

Need recommendations? See my “Ultimate Guide to Face Cleansers” for mini-reviews.

Exfoliators (Optional)

No one ever gives you a simple answer about exfoliation. And I’m not about to start. How often you exfoliate is absolutely up to you — and it should be driven by a deep understanding and recognition in your skin’s condition.

If you tend to get flaky like I do in the winter and early spring, you may want to exfoliate more. How much more? Well, again … it depends. Overdo it and risk irritation. Underdo it and risk flakies that won’t budge. Every other day, I’ll use a physical exfoliant (think scrubs) and adjust as needed.

The other way to exfoliate, of course, is with acid toners. I save strong acids for my evening routine and very rarely use mild acids in the morning. That said, I have alternated physical exfoliants with mild acid toners in the morning if I feel like my skin is lacking in the radiance department (and I have extra time to let the acid toner dry before applying more products). Look for a guide to acid toners soon.

Need recommendations? See my “Ultimate Guide to Face Scrubs for mini-reviews.

Hydrating Toners / Mists

This is a non-negotiable in my morning skincare routine. Hydrating toning sprays prep my skin for the moisture that comes next, and I love the ritual of misting my face. I prefer mists with very fine, large sprays that deliver an even distribution to my face — no target-toning, please!

Hydrating toners are also critical to my daily skincare check-ins (yes, I keep a bottle of mist on my work desk) to keep my skin looking and feeling fresh.

Find my toner picks on my “faves” page.

Vitamin C Oils

Finding the perfect vitamin C-based oil treatment has been my obsession. In the spirit of attempted minimalism in my skincare (ha, I’m doing so well, eh?), I’m searching for a clean facial oil that contains vitamins C and E plus ferulic acid for maximum antioxidant benefits. The combination of C, E and ferulic increases photoprotection to the skin, meaning less oxidative stress and more protection from the elements.

I’m searching for a wonderful oil (vs. watery or gel-like serums) in an effort to minimize product layering and chance for product pilling once my routine is complete and it’s on to makeup. However, for colder weather, I’d like a vitamin C serum that layers well under a thicker cream or balm that I may use during the day.

Find my vitamin C skincare reviews in the archives.

Creams, Balms or SPF

I rotate (and oftentimes omit) creams, balms and dedicated sunscreens in my morning routine. During colder or transition weather, my skin usually needs moisture from a cream or balm. I’ll apply the cream or balm after toning and then layer a light vitamin C oil on top to seal it all in.

During warmer weather, I sometimes prefer a single cream for my skin-hydrating needs. No oils necessary (and now you see where that thin layer of vitamin C serum — underneath a cream — fits into the picture).

When it comes to SPF, I wish I could say that I’m religious about it. I’m simply not. Instead, I avoid sun exposure as much as possible (easy when you work inside an office all day!) and am cautious about using sun protection when I will be in direct sunlight more often.

And I know you aren’t supposed to use this as an excuse, but my foundation of choice is SPF 25. On days when I’m wearing mineral (or minimal) makeup, I’ll choose a dedicated SPF lotion to protect my skin.

Find my reviews of creams and balms in the archives. See my sunscreen picks in “The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sunscreens.”

Eye Treatments

I’m equally not as diligent about using a separate eye product in the morning, but if I feel like my eye area is parched, I’ll tap in some serum or cream. During warmer weather and most of the year, I prefer a fast-drying, gel-like serum. For colder weather, I can sometimes get away with a cream or balm, but I typically like to save those (and oils) for the evening.

If you’ve got a great face oil or cream, you may not really need an eye treatment. It’s all about preference and skin sensitivity. In the past, I’ve developed milia around my eyes from using too-rich facial creams (and eye creams!) in that area. Again, it’s all about some smart experimentation an attention to how your skin is reacting.

See my reviews of eye balms, eye creams and eye oil serums in the archives.

Lip Balms

Who else is addicted to lip balm? While this isn’t a crazy product category to labor over, I do have preferences around the consistency of lip balms that I use during the day.

When prepping my lips for color, I prefer a creamy yet light lip balm that isn’t slippery and doesn’t overly coat my lips. It needs to deliver moisture but stay put; many lip balms I’ve tried feel shiny and oily, which leads to lipstick messes.

The perfect lip balm also has to be soft and easy to glide. Some lip balms go to the extreme of feeling too dense and chalky, making them difficult and almost painful to apply.

Find my lip balm picks on my “faves” page.

What product categories are in your morning skincare routine? What’s your take on vitamin C oils, creams, balms and SPF? Tell me in the comments!

November 24, 2015

the ultimate guide to natural face cleansers

When it comes to natural face cleansers, I have a pretty straightforward philosophy. To complete my daily and weekly routines, I need:

  • A non-foaming/cream for gentle morning cleanses (usually with a konjac sponge) or for when my skin is extremely dry or irritated
  • A light gel cleanser for double cleansing after oil cleansing at night
  • A thick gel cleanser to use with my Clarisonic 1-2 times a week or as needed

While I tend to splurge on facial oils and antioxidant treatments, my budget for face cleansers is much more conservative. Spending more than $25 on a cleanser (which doesn’t stay on your face very long) simply pains me.

So, it’s out of line for my skincare philosophy (and budget) to spend more than that on a cleanser. While I have marked a few repurchases below that cost more than my $25 preference, you’ll see that many of my tried-and-true favorites cost way less than $25 (and are easily accessible at your local health food store or even Target!).

These are the ones I constantly recommend to friends, family and readers who are interested in cleaning up their beauty routines, and these are the ones I purchase for myself.

*Indicates press sample. Yes, I do buy my own products, and yes, free stuff gets the same level of criticism as stuff I paid for myself!

(Bookmark for later reading: The Ultimate Guide to Natural Deodorants; The Ultimate Guide to Natural Hand Creams; The Ultimate Guide to Natural MascarasThe Ultimate Guide to Natural Shampoos ; The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sunscreens)

ultimate guide to natural face cleansers

Non-Foaming / Cream Cleansers I Will Repurchase & Recommend

*Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser ($9.99 for 4 ounces)

Designed for dry and sensitive skin, Acure Organics Sensitive Facial Cleanser delivers a relaxing, soothing blend of organic argan oil, coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin E  and pumpkin seed oil to hydrate and gently cleanse the skin. Probiotics give fussy skin additional nutrients and balance.

Acure Organics pretty much always blows me away with its affordable, certified organic, cruelty-free products. This cream cleanser is also scent-free, which makes it perfect for those who have truly sensitive skin or are experiencing reactions or irritation from switching up their products too much (ahem). The texture is of medium creaminess — very easy to spread, but not runny at all. I love using this with a konjac sponge in the morning.

*Blissoma Solutions Fresh Mild Rice Facial Cleanser ($31.99 for 4 ounces)

Need hydration and blemish-blasting? This cleanser is for you. Blissoma Solutions Mild Rice Facial Cleanser’s smart combination of moisturizing oils (sunflower oil, coconut oil, apricot kernal oil, hemp oil) and acne-busting ingredients (willowbark extract, lavender, frankincense and rosemary) makes it ideal for transition skin — or skin that just can’t decide its classification. Litsea cubeba and palmarosa tone the skin while providing additional antiseptic to keep your pores clean.

This cleanser has exfoliating power thanks to little brown rice “scrubbers,” but is gentle enough to use everyday. I’d definitely classify this as a cleanser (versus an exfoliator) because it’s at a lower intensity.

Read the original review for full ingredients and additional information.

*Brittanie’s Thyme Organic Citrus Facial Cleanser ($14.95 for 4 ounces)

This gentle, soap-free formula cleanses and treats skin with nourishing aloe and vegetable glycerin to help maintain the skin’s acid mantle. Jojoba oil adds additional moisture while witch hazel, grapefruit and rosemary deep clean and prevent breakouts. I love that this cleanser is certified USDA organic yet extremely affordable and, bottom line, effective. That’s green beauty done right.

*Cultivar Organic Turmeric & Vitamin C Cleanser ($40 for 2 ounces)

A slippery skin treat, Cultivar’s gentle cleanser feels like an oil but rinses clean like a gel. It doesn’t lather or soap up, but instead dances around your skin, removing dirt, oil and makeup along the way. At first use, I wasn’t sold on it — until post-cleanse, when I experienced how soft, balanced and clean my skin felt. If you have combo / oily skin, you could easily wash and be done after using this cleanser because of how balanced it leaves you feeling. My only issue with this cleanser is just how slippery it is. You have to make a concerted effort to pump the cleanser into your hands and immediately get it onto your face without spilling any.

*frank body Creamy Face Cleanser ($19.95 for 6.08 ounces)

Everything about the Frank Body line is so well-done — and that includes this Creamy Face Cleanser. This creamy cleanser is made with charcoal and targets impurities while nourishing your skin with coconut, grapeseed and sweet almond oils. I love that it’s fragrance-free, yet full of wonderful oils, butters and extracts that cocoon the skin with every little cleansing massage. That includes herbs such as marshmallow root and echinacea, which help cool, soothe, and softening the skin while.

*Josh Rosebrook Moisturizing Cleanser ($50 for 4 ounces)

This is the ultimate sensitive skin cleanser. Josh Rosebrook’s Moisturizing Cleanser is slippery and gentle, keeping your skin’s acid mantle balanced while kindly cleansing away the day. The aloe base makes this cleanser extremely moisturizing, while ingredients such as African black soap, honey and white willow bark work to keep acne at bay. Organic oils of olive, jojoba, evening primrose, sunflower, sea buckthorn and offer a powerhouse of hydration.

This is one of those cleansers that’s out of my typical price range, but I love it so much and reserve it for when my skin needs some extra TLC. I like to massage this into my skin — using it with a konjac sponge will cause you to lose too much product to absorption.

*In Fiore Treate Cleansing Emulsion ($58 for 4.2 ounces)

In Fiore’s Treate Cleansing Emulsion is just that — a treat — to use. This decadent, milky emulsion is made with always-soothing aloe vera, rose water and nine herbal infusions. It has the subtlest hint of jasmine blossoms. It’s absolutely divine layered atop your favorite cleansing oil for a deep, moisturizing cleanse (In Fiore makes an amazing oil cleanser that smells heavily of heavenly jasmine!).

Echinacea, dandelion and burdock root get down to business on your face — the business of detoxifying skin of impurities and preventing breakouts. This cleanser is way more expensive than what I prefer to pay, but like I said, it’s definitely a treat to use and feels oh-so-soft on the skin. I’d repurchase this with the In Fiore cleansing oil for a very luxurious few months of cleansing with the 4-2-4 method.

Juice Beauty Cleansing Milk ($22 for 6.75 ounces)

I’m drawn to Juice Beauty’s Cleansing Milk during my morning shower. It’s creamy and feels almost like a moisturizer as I massage it onto my face, and it rinses away easily while leaving a light balmy layer of protection on my skin.

I’ve used it at night before — just to test it against a layer of everyday makeup — and while it could cut through a bit of it, I wouldn’t recommend it as your sole cleanser for makeup removal. However, for that easy morning cleanse, this is a lovely, affordable option in a functional plastic pump container. This is another one that I enjoy using with a konjac sponge.

Read the full review for full ingredients and additional information.

*Lyeska Facial Cleanser ($42 for 4.4 ounces)

This gentle, milky, creamy facial cleanser combines Siberian cedar nut oil with a blend of apple, burdock root and calendula to cleanse without stripping, all while tackling inflammation and healing fussy skin. The texture of this cleanser is a dream: not too thick and lotion like; not too runny. It’s like a souped-up serum that’s easy to spread and massage into the skin, leaving it soft, smooth and radiant.

I like that it uses cold-pressed Siberian cedar nut, which is rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and essential fatty acids. The entire formulation of Lyeska’s Facial Cleanser is spot-on for fussy skin types: there’s enough moisture to keep it from leaving your skin feeling tight, but packed with beneficial extracts to keep skin breakout-free. The key one that gets my attention? Burdock root extract. Its antiseptic properties are excellent at taming acneic skin. It also helps treat skin issues such as rosacea and eczema, inhibits the growth of bacteria, reduces inflammation and heals wounds.

*Mad Hippie Cream Cleanser ($15.99 for 4 ounces)

Mad Hippie is one of those brands that constantly blows my mind. Awesome packaging. Awesome ingredients. Awesome pricepoint. I am constantly recommending this line and this cleanser to those looking for an easy transition into nontoxic beauty, and for good reason: Mad Hippie is the real deal!

The Cream Cleanser is lovely to use with a konjac sponge in the morning. The formula is thick and creamy, but easy to spread and feels almost like a light lotion on the skin (thicker than Acure Organics mentioned above). This is thanks to sesame oil, coconut oil derivatives and shea butter — not too heavy, not too creamy, but just right. Mad Hippie’s Cream Cleanser is housed in a glass pump bottle, making it easy to recycle or reuse (major bonus points!).

*m-61 Brilliant Cleanse ($32 for 8.4 ounces)

Free of parabens, synthetic fragrances and gluten, M-61’s Brilliant Cleanse is dense, creamy and oh-so dreamy to massage into your face in the morning. Grapefruit extract provides natural sources of brightening vitamin C, while mandarin orange peel extract tones and soothes. It also contains some skin-beneficial acids, such as glycolic, salicylic, malic and lactic, to further refresh and renew the complexion.

*MPWR Go Wash Your Face Gentle Cleanser ($22 for 4 ounces)

Certified USDA organic and designed for “teen skin” (I hate that language, by the way — I’m in my 30s and experience breakouts), MPWR’s Gentle Cleanser lightly exfoliates thanks to papaya and lemon peel while softening with argan and sunflower seed oils. A base of aloe spiked with chamomile and arnica provide a healing touch. I like the light, refreshing, citrus scent of this cleanser and just how gentle it really is.

*Naturally Lindy Facial Wash ($20 for 8.6 ounces)

One of the most interesting textures I’ve experienced, Naturally Lindy’s Facial Wash drapes my skin in a dense cloud of cream to break down makeup, dirt and oils without stripping the skin. It’s texture is somewhat gel-like, while staying within the milky, creamy category. It’s just got this density to it that many creams do not. It almost mimics what a balm or wax could feel like without being that heavy — which makes it lovely as a cream cleanser.

Naturally Lindy has been around for something like 20 years, but does have some catching up to do in the ingredients labeling department: you won’t find a full list of ingredients by product on the website, so I’d like to see that update soon. This is what I’d deem a “clean beauty” brand that may not rise to various levels of green expectations, though. (For example, this cleanser contains phenoxyethanol and lists “fragrance” as an ingredient.)

*River Veda Carefree Cleansing Milk ($34 NZD for 3.4 ounces)

Thick, creamy and comforting, this cleansing milk pairs perfectly with a konjac sponge for a fresh morning cleanse. Organic evening primrose and jojoba oils replenish the skin  while orange essential oil lifts the spirits. I love the feeling of this cleanser on my skin — it’s the perfect balance of creamy and indulgent, yet moves about very easily and rinses off like a dream.

*True Nature Botanicals Pacific Exfoliating Cleanser ($48 for 4 ounces)

One of the most gentle daily exfoliating cleansers on the market, True Nature Botanicals’ Pacific Exfoliating Cleanser takes advantage of Actifolate, a patented fungal extract that combines peptides with polysaccharides derived from cell wall components of the Mucor Miehei mushroom. This creates this cleanser’s signature irritation-free, intense exfoliation that feels finer than sand and leaves your skin feeling buffed and clean. Chamomile powder and manuka honey aid in calming and smoothing the skin with every wash.

This is another one that’s on the pricey side, but if your skin needs regular, gentle exfoliation, you can easily just use this and skip the separate exfoliator.

Violets Are Blue Facial Cleanser
$48 for 100 ml

This dreamy cleanser keeps the skin’s protective acid mantle intact while carefully washing away impurities with white tea, argan and evening primrose oils. I love the perfect, creamy texture and delicate scents of lavender and carrot. Two or three pumps of cleanser is more than enough to massage in for a mini spa-at-home experience.

*The Wonder Seed Hemp Facial Cleanser, English Daisy ($14.95 for 3.4 ounces)

You know that sweet compliment I gave Mad Hippie and Acure Organics ? Same goes for The Wonder Seed. This is yet another line that sources high-quality ingredients yet keeps its prices within reach, making it perfect for those new to green and figuring out their favorites as well as those who are budget-conscious or have different philosophies when it comes to what they will spend on certain skincare items.

The Wonder Seed’s star ingredient is hemp seed oil (yes, hemp seed is the wonder seed!), which means that this everything in this line is incredibly moisturizing, including its facial cleanser. The texture of this face wash is a bit more dense compared to Mad Hippie; I would say it’s a similar texture to that of Acure Organics’ Cream Cleanser, though a bit slicker. It works well with a konjac sponge and leaves skin feeling hydrated without any films or residue.

If you’re sensitive to scents, do know that the English Daisy scent in this cleanser is present — though to my significant other and me, it smells more like a minty scent (I spy peppermint extract toward the end of the formulat). It’s not overpowering, but it’s definitely detectable.

Non-Foaming / Cream Cleansers I Will Not Repurchase

Eminence Coconut Milk Cleanser ($36 for 8.4 ounces)

This is a great summertime cleanser thanks to the healing coconut milk (and that summertime coconut smell that most of us love!) and calendula oil. However, I’m not sold on it for year-round mostly because of the coconut scent. Everything else about it is just fine — the ingredients are clean (it even includes salicylic acid for us acne-prone types) and the pump packaging is ideal. I just can’t do this particular scent on my face every day of the year.

Read the full review for full ingredients and additional information.

*Fig + Yarrow Cleansing Nectar ($30 for 4 ounces)

A change in its marketing would put Fig + Yarrow’s Cleansing Nectar into the positive for me. Presented as a washless cleanser and toner for gentle exfoliation, the Cleansing Nectar is under-performs in the cleansing department but excels in the toning department. Call me old-fashioned, but when I think cleanser, I think gel/foam/cream + water. I get the multipurpose idea behind this product, but just didn’t feel very clean using it as a cleanser.

After cleansing with a different product and using the Cleansing Nectar as a toner, my skin and I felt happy. Perhaps look for this on an ultimate guide to toners instead.

*Marula Pure Marula Cleansing Lotion ($38 for 4.23 ounces)

From a formulation standpoint, this cleansing lotion was just fine. It was the delivery that put Marula Pure Marula Cleansing Lotion on my “no thanks” list.

I had to use several pumps of this cleansing lotion to get a quarter-sized amount on my palm. Perhaps I’m overdoing it, but we’re talking about 6-7 pumps; the spout of the pump is a bit puny, so I have to be aware of how much product I actually use. I’ve already explained to you that I’m conservative when it comes to the price of my cleansers, so I’m not sure this one is worth the $38 price tag. It’s a fine product and isn’t excessively expensive by any means, but I think there are some better buys out there that are loaded with even more exciting ingredients.

Read the full review for full ingredients and additional information.

*Meow Meow Tweet Face Cleanser ($25 for 3.8 ounces)

Though it’s described as a cream cleanser, Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Cleanser is more watery and slippery, making it very difficult to effectively apply and massage into the skin. It’s better described as “an oil cleanser that rinses off” but without the oily consistency because of the witch hazel (ingredient No. 2).

The thinness of it makes the essential oils in the formula a bit too strong for my skin. I would love to see this cleanser bulked up a bit for a better consistency to use either in my hands or with a konjac sponge. When I used it, I lost a lot of product because of the watery texture.

*Narynda Skincare Cleanser (£12.50 (~$18.90) for 3.38 ounces)

Though extremely gentle and soothing, Narynda’s Skincare Cleanser’s milky, runny texture wasn’t quite to my liking. When applied to a konjac sponge and then massage over my face, I could keep the formula from running, but if I cleansed just with hands, the cleanser liked to run down my arm. The formula itself, as I said, is very gentle, and would be lovely for someone with dry skin or as the morning cleanse, but it just didn’t sit well with me in the texture department.

*Nonie of Beverly Hills AHA! Skin Cleanser ($25.99 for 7 ounces)

With a mix of citrus oils, grapefruit seed extract and apple cider vinegar, Nonie of Beveryly Hills’ cleanser was a bit too tingly for my skin. Though it’s in a base of coconut and almond oil and has a lovely, lotion-like texture, I found the citrus oils a bit too irritating on my facial skin. I’d use this with a konjac sponge to get a good morning cleanse, but decided to instead focus more of the cleanse on my T-zone and under the chin, which seems to be able to handle the natural alpha hydroxy acids a little better than my cheeks.

Foaming Cleansers / Gels I Will Repurchase & Recommend

Acure Organics Superfruit + Chlorella Growth Factor Facial Cleansing Gel ($9.99 for 4 ounces)

Designed for combination to oily skin, Acure Organics’ Facial Cleansing Gel gently washes away the day’s grime and helps remove any additional makeup that your first cleanse left behind. Antioxidant-rich acai, blackberry, rosehips and pomegranate make this affordable cleanser an obvious repurchase — there’s a lot of clean, botanical ingredients packed into these four ounces! I love that this is a true gel formula (not slippery or watery), and if you’re a cleansing brush kind of person, you can easily use this with your device of choice.

*Dr. Alkaitis Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser ($65 for 4 ounces)

Inside a base of castile soap, Dr. Alkaitis’ Organic Purifying Facial Cleanser packs a complex blend of organic oils, herbs and extracts to refresh, repair and treat the skin. Though the price is way higher than the amount I typically like to spend on cleansers, it’s one that I like to treat myself to from time to time.

Read the full review for a full list of ingredients and additional information.

*Hum Honey Face Wash ($20 for 4.5 ounces)

Handcrafted in Minnesota from raw clover honey, vegetable glycerin and organic castile soap, Hum’s Honey Face Wash is one that I have been reaching for again and again. Remember that whole “be careful with castile soap” thing?

Hum gets it right by balancing sudsy, cleansing castile soap with a generous amount of raw honey to keep this cleanser equal parts moisturizing and cleansing. Dare I say it may be one of my favorite affordable cleansers to date. Be on the lookout for a full standalone review to come.

*Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser ($22 for 6.75 ounces)

Anything that’s labeled as a blemish-clearing product gets attention from me, and Juice Beauty’s Blemish Clearing Cleanser delivers. Extremely affordable and easily accessible, this cleanser deep cleans thanks to organic lemon, cherry and aloe juices. Your skin is never left feeling stripped or tight, and your breakouts calm a bit with regular use. The pump top bottle is also extremely convenient.

*Kelly Teegarden The Secret Anti Aging Facial Cleanser
$22 for 6 ounces

This scentless, weightless cleanser combines organic aloe vera juice, fruit extracts, and plant oils for a gentle, moisturizing wash that lightly foams and leaves the skin feeling soft and clean. The formula includes medicinal herbs such as spikenard, Spanish marjoram and meadowsweet flower to help combat inflammation and deep clean the skin. I’m taken by just how gentle yet effective this formula is. It’s easy to use both morning and night if you just want one cleanser.

*m-61 Power Cleanse Pore-Purifying Glycolic Face Cleanser ($34 for 8.4 ounces)

While it’s not the most botanically based cleanser on the list, m-61’s Power Cleanse Pore-Purifying Glycolic Face Cleanser gets a spot on my repurchase list because of how relatively clean it is (no ingredient scores higher than “4” on the EWG Skin Deep Database) and how fantastically effective it is at deep cleaning acne-prone skin.

This intense glycolic-based face cleanser is free of synthetic fragrances and includes tea tree and vitamin B5 to help treat acne and soothe irritation. The star ingredient, glycolic acid, works well my my combo-oily acne-prone skin to remove dead surface skin cells and deep clean, both treating and preventing breakouts. I like to use this cleanser the week before and week of my period to keep my hormonal acne in check.

*Mukti Balancing Foaming Cleanser ($36.62 for 200 ml)

With just two pumps, Mukti’s Balancing Foaming Cleanser, a gel that creates a very gentle lather, cleanses your skin and keeps it in balance. After a wash, the skin is never tight, thanks to an extremely hydrating base of aloe leaf juice and calming ingredients such as calendula and chamomile. This cleanser is lovely to use both morning and night. It’s gentle enough for a quick morning cleanse in the shower (which I usually reserve for cream cleansers), and strong enough to use after makeup removal at night (which is when I usually use my foaming or gel cleansers).

This is the perfect hybrid cleanser for combination/oily skin, and it has a slight citrus smell thanks to pink grapefruit and mandarin.

*MyChelle Dermaceuticals Refining Sugar Cleanser ($25 for 3.5 ounces)

I almost didn’t include this exfoliating cleanser in this roundup because it plays such a dual skincare role, but it does fit within the “cleanser” category quite well. At first massage into the skin, the Refining Sugar Cleanser feels 100 percent like an exfoliating scrub. Tiny sugar particles get to work sloughing away dead skin cells as the cleanser begins to lightly foam up for a deeper clean. As this happens, the sugar basically disintegrates and you’re left with what feels like a traditional foam cleanser. A light, sweet, vanilla scent makes the multitasking cleansing experience absolutely scrumptious.

*skinnyskinny The Cleanser Organic Face Wash ($25 for 4 ounces)

I absolutely adore this cleanser. Its scent, packaging, cleansing action and price make it a home run in my book. Seriously, when I heard that my spa may not carry it anymore, I nearly had a cow (I hate having to order a bunch of stuff online if I can easily pop into a local store and buy it there instead!). The Cleanser’s beautiful blend of active, certified organic ingredients cleanse, calm and nourish the skin. The chamomile is extremely soothing, and I like that this formula contains extra virgin olive oil (an ingredient that tends to go in and out of vogue in green skincare, but to me, is a classic).

*SMB Essentials Lotus Moon Amaranth Gentle Cleanse ($34.95 for 6 ounces)

I finished the travel size of this cleanser so quickly thanks to its perfect gel texture and easy squeeze-tube packaging. The full size is packaged in a pump, and SMB Essentials is a perfect example of what’s on the inside really counting. I don’t find the packaging and design to be anything quite beautiful, but the ingredients and performance are fantastic for getting that nice, gel lather that’s compatible with a konjac sponge or fingers.

Though Amaranth Gentle Cleanse is formulated for normal to dry skin, I found that my combo/oily skin responded very well to it and did not feel stripped or unclean with regular use.

Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser ($45 for 4.2 ounces)

This gel-based, gently foaming clay cleanser purifies and tones without leaving my skin feeling tight or dry. The texture is very interesting — a bit jelly, but thicker thanks to French green clay. It’s scented with jasmine, frankincense and sandalwood for a deeply comforting, grounded floral that’s a tad herbacious and 100 percent beautiful. I like to use this cleanser at night, but think it’s gentle enough for a quick morning cleanse, too.

*Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash ($28 for 8 ounces)

This foaming gel cleanser gives my skin a thorough cleanse and my senses a happy, brightening effect. Yes, my senses. Made with cedar, spearmint and lime, Ursa Major’s Fantastic Face Wash makes you feel invigorated without overly stimulating your skin or your mind. The spearmint top notes of this wash give a bit of tingle without setting your face on fire the way many minty washes can. The inclusion of rosemary, vetiver and lavender gives this face wash amazing depth in both scent and treatment.

There’s some fantastic skin-brightening, deep-cleansing and mind-calming effects in this cleanser that I recommend for both men and women. Also, because the gel is nice and dense, a dime-sized amount is all you need for a perfect wash.

*Yours Truly Organics Take It Away Gel Cleanser (£29.99 for 3.38 ounces)

This was my go-to cleanser for use with my Clarisonic Mia. Yours Truly Organics’ Take it Away Gel Cleanser had a dense gel texture that took well to the brush head, keeping a nice, thick layer of protection between the sonic speed bristles and my skin. When used with just hands and water, it’s difficult to really massage this cleanser in, so I recommend using it with a brush head or a konjac sponge.

Foaming Cleansers / Gels I Will Not Repurchase

100% Pure Jasmine Green Tea Cleanser ($28 for 6 ounces)

With its instant burst of foaming goodness, 100% Pure’s Jasmine Green Tea Cleanser gently washes away the day without drying the skin — a tough feat for a true foaming cleanser. This is because 100% Pure’s cleanser leaves out harsh detergents and instead uses a mild coconut cleanser infused with lavender honey, green tea, berries and jasmine.

For a jasmine addict like me, though, this cleanser really doesn’t smell like anything at all. But that can be good for those of you with sensitive noses and skin! Instead, it’s basically scentless save for a mild green tea scent. Though this is made for normal to dry skin, it’s basically fine for any skin type (including my combo/oily skin). It’s not on my repurchase list because, well, I kinda bought it because I wanted a jasmine cleanser. Also, it contains Japanese Honeysuckle extract as a preservative, so if you’re avoiding that ingredient, be aware.

*derma e Purifying Gel Cleanser ($15.50 for 6 ounces)

Fragrance- and sulfate-free, this gel cleanser would be perfect if it had a few more moisturizing ingredients. Post-cleanse, my face is a little bit dry (but not completely tight and uncomfortable). The base of aloe vera helps with this, but the formulation is missing key oils (like olive or sunflower) that can help keep skin feeling soft.

Desert Essence Thoroughly Clean Face Wash ($6.50 for 8.5 ounces)

Designed for oily and acne-prone skin, Desert Essence’s Thoroughly Clean Face Wash contains old faithful tea tree and lavender to treat and prevent breakouts while offering a nice lather in a base of castile soap. Be very mindful of how your skin feels with this wash, as the castile soap can be a bit stripping without additional moisturizing ingredients (your skin should not feel tight after cleansing!).

I like to use this cleanser during hotter, more humid months when my combo/oily face is a bit more on the oily side. I haven’t repurchased this in years, so I’ve moved it to this section to reflect my updated thoughts.

Read the full review for a full list of ingredients and additional information.

Om Aroma Champagne Cleanser ($52 for 4 ounces)

This triple-action organic face cleanser is designed to remove makeup, exfoliate and purify the skin. While it’s good at all three of those (my skin felt super-clean after using it!), it’s too stripping, even for my combination-oily skin. I’m not quite sure why that is, as the ingredients list is packed full of nourishing oils, but my skin just did not agree with this cleanser. Can’t win ’em all, I guess.

*Sara Ross Blemish Therapy Cleanser ($15 for 4 ounces)

Made with raw honey, glycerin and an infusion of cherry oil with calendula, ginger, roses and enzymes, this gentle gel cleanser targets acne but keeps the skin from feeling stripped. I wanted to love this cleanser — the low foam was extremely gentle and deep-cleaning — but the herbs and other ingredients left a bit of an after-scent and after-taste if I got it on my lips. Call it user error if you will, but I just couldn’t handle the herbal after effects.

*Yes To Bluberries Age Refresh Foaming Facial Cleanser ($9.99 for 5 ounces)

This is a great budget buy and extremely accessible (think drugstores and mass retailers). I like that the pump releases an instant burst of foam — but this cleanser ended up being a little too drying for my skin. In the beginning, it seemed to be compatible with my skin, but after continued use, my face felt tight and itchy after use. Bummer.

*Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Detoxifying Charcoal Cleanser ($9.99 for 5 ounces)

This paraben-free detoxifying cleanser is formulated with charcoal to draw out impurities and has a dose of tomato extract for a shot of antioxidants. Jojoba spheres help gently exfoliate, and salicylic acid deep cleans pores and prevents future breakouts. However, it’s not on my repurchase list for two reasons: 1) I’m not a fan of the slippery texture and 2) I can’t handle the scent, which is somewhat perfumed (fragrance is on the ingredients list). This could be a real winner if the scent were more subtle.

November 23, 2015

dedicated | an introduction to beauty heroes subscription box

This post is kindly brought to you by Beauty Heroes, who compensated me for this sponsored post. All opinions are my own!

While I’m no stranger to beauty subscription box services, there’s something different about Beauty Heroes, the monthly nontoxic beauty subscription box service founded by longtime spa director Jeannie Jarnot.

What’s different? Well, besides containing some of the most-coveted healthy beauty brands on the market today, the Beauty Heroes box delivers a full size “hero” product (for skin, body, sun or hair) as well as a fun, sample size “sidekick” product from the same line.

This means that green beauty junkies and clean-curious converts alike get a chance each month to slow down and fully experience the goodness of some of the most sought-after healthy beauty brands each month.

beauty heroes subscription

{Beauty Heroes sent me a 3-month trial subscription to sample and review.}

Been curious about Josh Rosebrook’s haircare? If you got the November Beauty Heroes box, you got to experience the new full size Balance Shampoo and Conditioner plus the sidekick Hairspray.

Wondering about the whole 4-2-4 cleansing method? I shrieked with delight when I opened my October Beauty Heroes box to find the full size In Fiore Treat Gentle Cleansing Emulsion and Lustra Illuminating Cleansing Essence.

Thinking about trying Kahina Giving Beauty, but don’t know where to start? The September Beauty Heroes box included the often-raved about Eye Serum as well as the lightweight Facial Lotion.

As a beauty blogger, I’d tried two out of three of these brands (and count Josh and Kahina as staples in my beauty routine). While it was great to have some extras in my stash, I was still unsure about the whole full-size subscription service for someone like me. You know, who gets a ton of products each week and feels a little overwhelmed by it all #bbloggerproblems

Yes, I know I am an anomaly here. But stick with me.

When I got my October box and saw In Fiore, a line I’d seen before but had never tried, I truly “got” what it meant to have a Beauty Heroes subscription. What an amazing surprise to see that, in a $39 subscription box, I got products valued at nearly $100 to thoroughly test before deciding whether I wanted to repurchase.

In Fiore is one of those lines that has sort of a cult status. To me, it’s been difficult to find a lot of in-depth reviews on the line. That means I’m less likely (and you probably are, too) to take the plunge on a purchase. And where I live, there aren’t places I can go to for sampling in person.

That’s the problem Beauty Heroes solves.

But, what if my Beauty Heroes products of the month just don’t do it for me? Beauty Heroes addresses that problem, too. If a customer doesn’t love a product, Beauty Heroes refunds the purchase. Jeannie tells me that she gets maybe one customer a month who emails her about a product not working out.

That number is so low because Beauty Heroes works with each brand’s top-selling product, so it’s usually something that the brand knows to be one of its best. In addition, Beauty Heroes documents client concerns and allergies. Before the monthly renewal, emails customers that have a concern that relates to the upcoming product so they can skip a month if necessary.

The attention to trends, efficacy and client detail is absolutely superb and why I’m excited to share more about Beauty Heroes with you.

This is a subscription box that I’d recommend to anyone who’s after the latest and greatest in natural skincare, but who wants to take time truly testing and experiencing a product and brand.

beauty heroes gift subscription

It would make a fantastic gift to yourself or someone you love who has been dabbling in clean beauty and is ready to go to the next level. Speaking of levels, Beauty Heroes offers many subscription tiers:

If you choose to give the gift of Beauty Heroes, all you need is the recipient’s email address — it’s that easy! You can also include a personal message and set the exact date you want the recipient to receive their gift email.

And … inside scoop … if you’re giving a subscription to a facial serum addict who must have the best of the best this holiday season, you’re going to want to sign her up for the December Beauty Heroes box.


It’s one of the most-talked about facial serums of the year, and its Beauty Heroes release is probably going to break the green beauty Internet. And flood your Instagram feed. Get in on it!

I’m excited to see what’s in store for Beauty Heroes in 2016. This is a subscription box with a truly intriguing business plan behind it — from the fun superhero branding, stellar pricing and thoughtful brand and product curation.

Have you gotten your subscription? What do you think of it? What are you gifting for the holidays this year?

In the words of Jeannie and Beauty Heroes — Hero On!

This post is kindly brought to you by Beauty Heroes, who compensated me for this sponsored post. All opinions are my own!

September 30, 2015

what green beauty ‘scopes do you want to see?

It’s quite clear that our Instagram addiction is seeing some fierce competition thanks to everyone’s favorite new no-editing-allowed, video-based social media platform, Periscope.

follow kimberlyloc on periscope

I’m dedicating today’s post to crowdsourcing two things:

  1. What’s your Periscope name? Leave it in the comments! (As usual, I’m @kimberlyloc)
  2. What topics do you want to see ‘scopes on from me and the rest of the green beauty community?

Here’s some thought starters:

  • What are your favorite self-care rituals?
  • What made you transition to green beauty?
  • How do you treat your biggest skincare concern?

I’ve only done one ‘scope so far (an unboxing that took place more than a month ago!) because, as you may be able to tell, I’m more of a writer than an on-camera kinda gal.


However, I am intrigued by the authenticity that Periscope commands — no editing, and I get to hear how you actually talk! — and think this is an amazing way to better connect with our community.

So, go on, tell everyone: What do you want to see more ‘scopes about (not just from me, but from everybody you follow on Periscope!)?

What ‘scopes keep you interested, and which ones have you ready to close out of the app and go back to Instagram?

Tell me your username and favorite topics in the comments section!

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