Entries Tagged as 'skin'

January 19, 2015

beauty scoop | arya essentials face oil

“Ayurveda intrigues and inspires me; the simplicity of it and how you can draw everything you need from nature. This natural healing science — over 5,000 years old — is native to India and full of recipes passed on from generation to generation.”

— Shadoh Punnapuzha, founder, Arya Essentials

One of my favorite pampering memories is visiting an Ayurvedic Center at an island spa.

Though I haven’t exactly been able to replicate that experience here in the Midwest, I can come pretty close in theory when I use Arya Essentials’ Face Oil.

arya essentials face oil

{Arya Essentials sent me a sample of its Face Oil. It costs $92 for a 30 ml bottle. Photo Courtesy Arya Essentials}

With a potent blend of essential oils and high-performance natural ingredients such as amla, brahmi and tulsi, Arya Essentials’ Face Oil is formulated to boost collagen production, prevent aging and reduce visible signs of wrinkles.

The scent is different than what you may typically expect from an Ayurvedic line. Instead of the heavy spices and savory scents that you’ve come to associate with Ayurveda, Arya Essentials’ Face Oil dresses your skin in a powdery soft, floral scent thanks to sandalwood, ylang ylang and geranium.

This is a bit of a big deal to me, as Ayurvedic skincare is commonly characterized by heavy-duty scents (think neem and basil), but Arya Essentials’ Face Oil manages to deliver both the standout, traditional ingredients while offering a light, feminine scent that’s pleasant enough to pass for a soft perfume.

The texture is what we’ve all come to expect from luxury facial oils: Lightweight, fast-drying and soft to the touch.

I can get by with 3-4 drops applied to a properly toned / misted face. The thoughtful ingredient blend allows for an even application and slip, making this face oil one that you don’t have to pile on to get that well-hydrated feel.

arya essentials face oil

Speaking of incredible ingredients, let’s get down to it:

Amla, also known as Indian gooseberry, is known for its high vitamin C content and powerful rejuvenating properties. There’s even been talks of amla berries having potential cancer-fighting benefits (though more likely when eaten, not slathered on the face).

Amla also has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, making it an ideal ingredient for Pitta skin like mine.

In addition to amla, Arya Essentials Face Oil contains brahmi, another widely respected Ayurvedic herb celebrated for its ability to brighten and soothe the skin. Brahmi also boasts detoxifying properties, gently toning and calming troubled skin.

Tulsi, or Holy Basil, is yet another popular plant rich in skin-saving antioxidants that purify and add radiance to dull skin. It’s highly regarded as a heavyhitter when it comes to antioxidant content and antibacterial, anti-viral and immune-enhancing properties.

With these three superstar Ayurvedic ingredients going to work in a base of argan, jojoba and sweet almond oils, my highly hormonal, Pitta skin could not be happier drinking up the years-old promise of Ayurvedic skincare.

Here’s the full ingredients list:

Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Centella Asiatica (Brahmi) Oil, Rosa Rubiginosa (Rose Hip Seed) Oil, Santalum Album (Sandalwood) Oil, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Ocimum Sanctum (Tulsi) Oil, Azadirachta Indica (Neem) Oil, Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Oil

I will point out, though, that none of these ingredients are listed as certified organic, which is disappointing given the high cost of this face oil.

While I respect the thoughtful blend, I always wonder what it would take to source organics — and how that affects price. I would love to see Arya Essentials reformulate to add more certified organic ingredients!

Besides that detail, I’d say Arya Essentials Face Oil is a winner. It’s got all the good-for-Pitta-skin ingredients packed away in a lightweight, mixed carrier oil base that’s easy on the nose for those who don’t like spicy or herbal scents on their faces.

What’s been your experience with Ayurveda? Have you tried Arya Essentials? What are your favorite Eastern herbs and ingredients? Tell me in the comments section!


January 14, 2015

beauty scoop | tatcha luminous deep hydration firming serum

In the green beauty world, we throw around the world “serum” to encompass anything from sticky, tacky-feeling serum-gels to bona fide face oils cleverly called “super serums.”

According to the beauty encyclopedia in my head, serums are lightweight, gel-like substances packed with highly active ingredients designed to address particular skin issues.

The feel of TATCHA’s Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum fits the encyclopedia definition above, with a perfect, non-sticky, gel consistency that’s featherlight and quick-drying, making it easy to layer your creams or plant oils atop if you so choose.

All of the active ingredients, though, are up for debate.

tatcha luminous deep hydration firming serum

{TATCHA sent me a sample of its Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum to review. It costs $95 for a 1-ounce plastic pump jar. Photo Courtesy TATCHA}

TATCHA describes its Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum as a deeply hydrating blend of Okinawa red algae and hyaluronic acid designed to nourish skin that needs a shot of moisture and a bit of glow.

In true TATCHA fashion, this serum is packed with 23-karat gold flecks that gives skin a lit-from-within look without adding heavy shimmer or glitter to the face. You can see the light flecks and shimmer in the photo below.

I enjoy using TATCHA’s Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum as a base layer in my skincare (after washing and toning) and then layering on oils and creams if necessary. If you have oily skin like me, you will find that this serum slicks on very easily and dries almost instantly.

It won’t goo up the way some sticky serums do, and you can easily blend it with your favorite facial oils if you don’t want apply layer by layer of beauty products. It just takes one pump to cover the whole face. Try one and a half pumps to include your neck.

If you’re able to, TATCHA’s Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum is an absolute gem to blend with the brand’s Gold Camellia Beauty Oil. Can you just imagine the gold glow you will have with these two products combined?!

It also blends well with other beautiful, lightweight oils, and the scent is somewhat neutral so it won’t compete. It smells a bit like rice and a flower petal, but isn’t exactly floral. It’s just a very baby-soft scent.

tatcha luminous deep hydration firming serum

As part of the “Water” collection, TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum harnesses the power of Okinawan red algae and hyaluronic acid to soothe and firm skin while injecting moisture.

TATCHA also takes advantage of green beauty favorites such as silk extract, olive squalene, camellia extract and royal jelly extract, all known for their ability to soften and soothe skin.

My concern with this product, though, is that a lot of that good stuff is further down on the ingredients list.

Here’s the full ingredients list:

Water, Glycerin, Propanediol, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Alcohol, Methyl Gluceth-20, Polyglyceryl-10 Eicosanedioate/Tetradecanedioate, Carrageenan (Algae Extract), Fragrance (All Natural), Inositol (Rice Extract), Polyglyceryl-10 Myristate, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sericin (Silk Extract), Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (Licorice Extract), Silica, Hydrogenated Lecithin (Soy Origin), Squalane (Olive Origin), Sodium Dilauramidoglutamide Lysine, Camellia Sinensis Leaf (Green Tea) Extract, Royal Jelly Extract, Algae Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Gold, Sodium Bicarbonate, Xanthan Gum Crosspolymer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Butelyne Glycol, HDI/Trimethylol, Hexyllactone Crosspolymere, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite

I will be the first to note that the ingredients list looks intimidating, but a quick run through the EWG Skin Deep Database reveals that most of these ingredients score in the 0-2 range, with the exception of phenoxyethanol (4), which a lot of you avoid anyway.

And, as you can see, TATCHA is formulated without parabens, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances, sulfate detergents, urea, DEA, TEA or phthalates.

I’ve mentioned this in previous reviews of products that contain it, but the inclusion of alcohol (ingredient No. 5) is what gives me the most pause, as it’s known to be very drying to the skin — and the inclusion of it is higher up on the list.

With that said, my skin has never felt tight, itchy or dry using TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum. It’s the long-term effects of using alcohol-laden skincare that’s always up for discussion.

I would love to hear more from you (and from TATCHA!) about the reasoning behind using and/or avoiding alcohol in your beauty routines. Is it absolutely necessary when it comes to formulating? What are the alternatives?

Because of these hesitations, TATCHA Luminous Deep Hydration Firming Serum isn’t on my repurchase list. I’ll definitely be watching this brand to see how it develops even more and if any reformulation is in the works.

You can also check out more of my TATCHA reviews here.

In the meantime, I invite you to tell me more about alcohol in skincare and active ingredients in skincare. What are your totally off-limits ingredients? What’s your POV on alcohol in serums and other skincare treatment products? Tell me in the comments section!


January 9, 2015

natural beauty buff | kirsten kjaer weis, kjaer weis

One of my big goals this year is to embrace simplicity in beauty more, and I can’t think of a better muse for this than Scandinavian culture.

With a sleek yet minimal design aesthetic, the Scandinavian culture is known for beautiful, breathtaking creations that have us all yearning for a more streamlined, soothing palette in life.

In the green beauty world, nobody brings this to your vanity better than Danish-born makeup artist Kirsten Kjaer Weis, creator of organic makeup line Kjaer Weis.

kirsten kjaer weis natural beauty buff

When it comes to well-edited, smartly packaged beauty collections, Kjaer Weis is ahead of the game.

Kirsten designed her line to be beautiful both inside and out, with high-performance organic and natural ingredients on the inside and heavyweight, sleek, refillable packaging on the outside.

Anyone who has ever held a Kjaer Weis product knows how substantial and glamorous they look and feel!

In addition to her approach to the Kjaer Weis line, Kirsten also exemplifies this streamlined, minimal-yet-luxurious approach in her green beauty routine.

Her sampling of favorites below — just five items! — is a breath of fresh air, demonstrating how investing in fewer, better products can make you look and feel amazing.

Buy what you love. Use what you buy. Support kind businesses.

As usual, I’ve starred the products I also use and love.

Tata Harper Love Potion

Love the scent. I will put it on several times a day, almost as a ritual of centering myself.

*May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon Beauty Balm Concentrate

I find it super soothing and love to wear at night. I feel my skin looks nourished and glowing in the morning. (Editor’s Note: Read my review here!)

*Kahina Giving Beauty “Fez” Body Serum

I love the scent and I love how it absorbs really quickly. It makes my skin feel nourished and moisturized without feeling greasy.

DDF Polishing System

I use this every other day with a mild scrub, and I can really see the difference in the silky texture of my skin.

*Kjaer Weis “Just Sheer” Foundation

It covers so lightly that it makes me look like me — but a better version. (Editor’s Note: Read my review here!)


January 7, 2015

beauty scoop | meow meow tweet organic soap

Though I go back and forth between stocking bar soaps and body washes, there’s just something about an artfully crafted and well-designed bar soap that edges out even the most beautiful body washes.

The right combination of packaging, scent and aesthetic of a bar soap dictates where they’ll be displayed and used, and for Meow Meow Tweet’s Organic Soap, I chose to take them home with me to my mom’s house in Arkansas to use in the guest bathroom.

meow meow tweet organic soap

{Meow Meow Tweet sent me samples of its Black Walnut Sage, Grapefruit Mint and Tangerine, Basil & Poppy Seed bar soaps for review. Individual soaps cost between $10 and $12 each.}

First of all, my mom, God love her, sticks to buying bright green, conventional soaps at home. When I travel back and forget to take a bar or gel with me, I’m reminded of this, and my skin is zapped of moisture in the bath.

This past holiday season, I got smart and remembered to take my three samples of Meow Meow Tweet Organic Soap home to store in the highly trafficked guest bathroom, where the fun, cheery packaging got the attention of brothers, wives, girlfriends and a young nephew.

I love the idea of keeping Meow Meow Tweet soaps stocked in every wash room, but a guest room that’s not frou frou and used by animal lovers and fellow cat ladies and cat men just gets laughs and attention.

meow meow tweet organic soap

Beyond getting laughs and attention, it gets used!

I was grateful to have them stored at home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas so I could use them during my long stays at home, and it made me feel good to know that my nephew’s evening showers involved using some fun, scrubby, smell-good soaps on his 10-year-old skin.

meow meow tweet organic soap

Because I had generous samples of the soaps, I was able to open all three to use during my stays and enjoyed each one of them, from texture and scent to the fine lather they created.

Below are my thoughts on the three scents I tried:

Meow Meow Tweet Grapefruit Mint Organic Soap

A classic scent combination, Meow Meow Tweet’s Grapefruit Mint Organic Soap dons a cool cat on the packaging to complement the cool, refreshing scent and feel on the inside. Mint leaves offer gentle exfoliation and help produce a great lather.

This soap belongs in my shower this summer! Or hell, right now, to remind me that summer awaits through this brutally cold winter.

Ingredients: aqua (water), *olea europaea (olive) oil, *cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, *helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil, *ricinus communis (castor) oil, +sodium hydroxide, *mentha piperita (peppermint) leaves, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) essential oil, mentha piperita (peppermint) essential oil

Meow Meow Tweet Black Walnut Sage Organic Soap

Earth-sexy Black Walnut Sage Organic Soap commands attention in the shower with its deep coloring and funky bird atop New York City brownstones on the packaging. Naturally astringent and antibacterial, this soap is wonderful for oily skin (yeap, oily from head to toe over here) and also offers a nice, natural massage feel.

This soap offers a great base for layering woodsy perfumes and body oils, so if that’s your favorite scent profile, get this soap!

Ingredients: aqua (water), *olea europaea (olive) oil, *cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, *butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, *helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil, *juglans regia (walnut) oil, +sodium hydroxide, *juglans nigra (black walnut hull) powder, salvia sclarea (clary sage) essential oil

Meow Meow Tweet Tangerine, Basil & Poppy Seed Organic Soap

My favorite of the three, Meow Meow Tweet’s Tangerine, Basil & Poppy Seed Organic Soap invigorates without overhyping your senses thanks to bright, cheery tangerine and spicy yet grounding basil.

Basil has been a secret obsession for mine for several months now thanks to a life-changing basil steam shower at my local spa, and I was ecstatic to have this soap as base scent in my own basil-infused home shower before layering on a homemade basil-spiked body oil. See, it’s a small obsession of mine. (And you thought I was a jasmine-only geek!)

The poppy seeds really set this soap over the top for me, as the little soft, round seeds gently exfoliated and offered a mini massage with every bit of pressure. Cannot get enough of this soap, and it’s a great year-round scent.

Ingredients: *olive oil, *coconut oil, *sunflower oil, *castor oil, *shea butter, +sodium hydroxide, *poppy seeds, essential oils of tangerine and basil

If you’ve got some shopping to do, pick up Meow Meow Tweet Organic Soaps in your next #pemjo haul (that’s the Pemberley Jones online natural beauty boutique for those of you who haven’t been), or get it straight from the folks at MMT on their website.

Also — not pictured because I got too excited and used it way too quickly — I need to give a shoutout to Meow Meow Tweet’s Cinnamon Coffee Organic Soap, a wonderful morning soap to indulge in for those of you who choose to shower first, caffeinate later (like me).

It was inspired by MMT founders Jeff and Tara’s favorite morning brew — Mexican coffee — and is bursting with the energy of an annoying morning person who doesn’t need coffee but then caffeinates anyway and is even more cheerful in the morning.

This is a wonderful organic soap to use in the shower and then follow with your favorite coffee body scrub (tried this one?) for an all-out volt of energy…in the nude. If you’ve got a coffee body oil or lotion, too, well, you know what to do.

While I’m still working my way through many soaps and body washes to sample and review, when it’s time to restock and gift to others, Meow Meow Tweet Organic Soaps are definitely on my repurchase list. The packaging is too cute, and the scent and texture combinations are pleasing and thoughtful. I’d love to see MMT soaps in every guest bathroom (and maybe a boyfriend’s bathroom?!).

Have you tried Meow Meow Tweet’s Organic Soaps? What are your favorite organic soaps? If you have a home with multiple bathrooms, how do you choose soaps to stock in the guest bathrooms? Tell me in the comments section!


January 5, 2015

beauty scoop | province apothecary moisturizing cleanser + makeup remover

I really, really want to just say “forget about ‘em” when it comes to luxury cleansing oils.

The minimalist in me says, “Girl, just use jojoba oil. Quit being fancy. You’re tired. Go to sleep.”

The beauty addict in me counters with, “Girl, you spent all that time applying that makeup. Spend some time massaging your face with a gorgeous oil and take in the whole experience. A cleansing oil is just as important as the wash that comes after.”

While both parts of me are absolutely correct, the beauty addict in me has a slight edge. I thoroughly enjoy using thoughtful oil blends to cleanse, massage and wind down at night.

One that I went through super quickly is Province Apothecary’s Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover.

province apothecary moisturizing cleanser + makeup remover

{Province Apothecary sent me a sample of its Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover to review. It costs $16 for a 30 ml glass pump jar. Photo Courtesy Province Apothecary}

This sweet Canadian line, created by certified holistic esthetician and aromatherapist Julie Clark, is committed to creating nourishing, balancing skincare that takes advantage of organic, biodynamic and wildcrafted ingredients.

For someone like me who craves balance in both life and skincare, this appeals to me, and especially in winter. My skin craves balance, yet needs the right boost of moisture and nourishment. It’s quite an art to achieve, and very few brands can get the formulations right.

Made with my ever-so-cherished organic jojoba oil, Province Apothecary’s Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover slips in organic sunflower seed oil, organic avocado oil and organic evening primrose oil, some of my absolute favorite oils for acne-prone skin that provide that slip-n-soothe that you need when your skin is feeling finicky.

While I imagine we’ve all been reading up more on the value of linoleic and oleic acids for acne-prone skin (THE blog post to read if your skin is troublesome like mine), I do see value in using some heavier oils, such as avocado oil, on the skin in winter.

You just need something that’s heavier to get in there and quench your skin’s thirst without throwing it into overdrive.

Even greaseballs like me get flaky and dry in extremely cold weather, and these extra-nourishing oils, coupled with an evening facial massage, can provide great, gentle exfoliation and softness to the skin.

What I love about Province Apothecary’s specific formulation is just how hydrating it feels during the makeup-removing massage, yet it’s not overly thick or gooey. If you’ve ever cleansed with a castor oil mix, you know that gooey feeling I’m talking about!

Here’s everything inside Province Apothecary Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover:

Sunflower Seed Oil*,  Jojoba oil*, Avocado oil*, Evening Primrose oil*, Raspberry Seed oil*, GMO-free Vitamin E, Rosemary leaf extract, and therapeutic essential oils of: Bergamot, Lavender*, Frankincense* and Petit grain. *Certified organic ingredient. Our Bergamot is Bergamotene-free (not photo-toxic)

In addition to the effective carrier oils, the thoughtful inclusion of bergamot, frankincense and lavender leaves skin feeling deeply cleansed, toned and calmed. Bergamot is known for cutting through congestion while frankincense tones.

I think by now we all have come to appreciate the wonders of lavender as a blemish-healer and skin soother, and it’s no different in blend, besides the fact that it has an amazing posse of oils to fight finicky skin!

As I continue to streamline my beauty routine, I will without a doubt continue to stock a huge bottle of un-sexy, un-fancy organic jojoba oil for all my everyday needs.

But that won’t keep me from having a nice oil cleanser in stock for those nights I want to wind down in style and truly get a big picture of benefits from various carrier oils and essential oils that I don’t always keep on hand.

Province Apothecary’s Moisturizing Cleanser + Makeup Remover is one I would restock. The scent is light and clean — not overly perfumed at all, but if you’re sensitive, is available in an unscented version — and doesn’t compete with my various skin oils and serums that I layer on after cleansing.

In fact, it complements most of them quite nicely, as bergamot, lavender and frankincense provide the base for many of my favorite skincare treats!

Have you tried anything from Province Apothecary? What’s your philosophy when it comes to skin cleansing oils? Do you choose blends? DIY it? Use a straight carrier? Tell me in the comments!


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