October 13, 2014

natural beauty buff | laurel shaffer, laurel whole plant organics

I’m always completely giddy to bring you a new “natural beauty buff” feature, but today’s post featuring Laurel Shaffer of Laurel Whole Plant Organics has my heart skipping a beat.

Laurel is just one of those founders you can instantly connect with because she’s the real deal — from the first email to the first handshake.

Warm and sweet, Laurel is chock-full of natural beauty knowledge (she’s a trained herbalist, ya know), yet explains it to you in a way that’s not sales-y, shocking or oversexed. It’s just real.

It’s also refreshing to see that not only does she use her own products in her daily rituals, but she also gets excited by other green beauty brands (and dare we say the c-word — “competitors”), which just goes to show you how deeply ingrained Laurel is in this bustling green beauty community.

Something tells me that’s that Bay Area coolness coming across in her demeanor.

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

laurel shaffer laurel whole plant organics

I love products.
I love my products.
I love other brand’s products.
If I could use 30 products everyday, I would. I might have to take time away from work to fit them all in, but it would be worth it!

I don’t wear makeup often, so I didn’t include that in my routine. I love nourishing my skin and keeping it bare whenever I can.

When I do wear makeup, though, most of my staples are from Alima Pure and Vapour Organic Beauty. Below are my “Daily Essentials” that I really do use every day! 

Laurel’s Daily Essentials

laurel shaffer laurel whole plant organics

*Josh Rosebrook Deep Nourishing Shampoo & Conditioner

OMG. I am a believer! Using “natural” hair care products has always been a struggle for me. I tried pretty much everything on the shelves of Whole Foods. Not only did they not work, but they were usually a pretty far stretch from natural to my own standards. I came across Josh’s brand, and the purity really stood out to me — in fact, a purity in shampoo and conditioner that I had never come across. So you can imagine my surprise that it WORKED. I’m a die-hard. I’ve found my go-to hair care brand. My hair is the healthiest it has ever been.

Rupam’s Tooth Soap

All about the purity for me – always! I love that Rupam’s tooth concoction is so incredibly pure and effective. My teeth are always squeaky clean. This product replaces a toothpaste for me, and my teeth actually feel cleaner than when I used a toothpaste.

*Etta & Billie Soap

Shout out to one of the many indie green brands in my Bay Area home. Alana, who makes these soaps, is such a lovely person…. her formulas are incredibly pure (again, with the purity!). I love that her formulas are mostly organic and that she uses rosemary to preserve her oils instead of vitamin E. She also uses super-cool combinations for her soaps like this locally made Earl Grey Tea.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Normal/Dry Cleanser

This is my go-to cleanser for washing my face and removing my makeup. I like to treat it like an oil cleanse and remove it with a towel. It’s super-nourishing and hydrating, starring rose, calendula, honey, rose geranium and bergamot. With 20 active beneficial plant ingredients, and no water or alcohol, this cleanser is more than a cleanser for sure.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Normal/Mature Elixir

Immediately after cleansing, I use our Elixir. It smells so lovely, and I tend to overuse. Guilty. This product is also rose-focused, accompanied by frankincense, lemon balm and sandalwood — a total of 20 beneficial plant actives actually! This product is also water- and alcohol-free, so the formula in total is 100 percent beneficial active ingredients. This is definitely more than an average toner and a must for my anti-aging regimen.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Sun Damage Serum

How I moisturize my skin changes daily. I love that about our line. Do I use a Balm today? Is my skin inflamed? Do I need an antioxidant boost? I love being able to ask myself those questions each morning and choose accordingly. But in the summer, often our Sun Damage Repair Serum wins. It contains a high amount of whole plant vitamin C, and it repairs as well as prevents sun damage. I am a huge advocate for using whole plants instead of synthetics for our antioxidants like vitamin C, and this product is an obvious reflection of that philosophy’s efficacy.

On Laurel’s “Daily Essentials” Wish List:

A good deodorant. I really need to work a good deodorant into my routine, and I am excited to try the news ones from Meow Meow Tweet, Schmidt’s and Blissoma! [Laurel, tell me you've seen my ultimate guide to natural deodorants?!]

Laurel’s “Serious Me Time” Products

laurel shaffer laurel whole plant organics

I try to take at least one day a week to really relax, take a bath and surround myself with products. That sometimes is the only time I take for myself all week when things are busy. It helps me relax like nothing else.  This always starts with a bath and some tea!

By Nieves ​Bath Salts

I have personally known Nieves for years, being one of my fellow Bay Area brands. She is always incredibly kind. I love that this bath salt has some of my favorite EO’s for relaxing, like lavender and cedar, and it also has seaweed for a great detox. My skin is always incredibly soft after.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Honey Berry Mask

On a serious pampering day, I have been known to do three masks back to back!  And use, easily, 15 products. Love it. But our Honey Mask is a staple. I never give myself a facial without it being included. One tip is to NOT mix it with powdered masks! We get asked that a lot. Honey coats the plants in the powdered mask, so then you are not getting the full benefits of the plants, only the honey.

Laurel Whole Plant Organics Brighten Mask

This is our real-deal, anti-aging mask. This is another product where we focus on using the whole plant version of our desired antioxidants, like vitamin C. Camu Camu, acerola cherry and rosehip are all packed with vitamin C to repair damaged skin, restore collagen and brighten skin tone. I should probably be using this one daily!

Herbivore Botanicals Hair Serum

I love this hair serum! I slather this all over my hair, and sometimes leave it on until the following day. It has a rich texture to it, and a soft bright floral scent. I also think the owners of Herbivore are basically the coolest hippie product-makers ever.

*Laurel Whole Plant Organics Night Balm

A real anti-age facial is not complete without our Night Balm. Our Night Balm contains more rose and more sea buckthorn than any of our other products. It is by far one of our most concentrated and results-driven formulas. I will be the first to admit it smells a little heavy — nutty, floral and musky. I love it, but I know that it smells so heavy because of all of our unrefined quality oils. Sometimes efficacy has to come before scent in my opinion. That is what perfumes are for!  Which leads me to…

Charmed Botanicals Chakra Oil

This scented roll-on scent is made only with essential oils, and it is super special. It is made of equal parts seven oils, one for each chakra. It is truly harmonious and blissful. It is very delicate, which I love. I could spend hours smelling it and trying to pick out the seven oils and how they interweave together. For me, scents aren’t necessarily something you throw on before you leave the house. They are part of me caring for myself and feeling beautiful.

On Laurel’s “Me Time” Wish List:

*May Lindstrom Skin The Jasmine Garden

Yes, I know, I know – we make Elixirs! But we actually don’t use a lot of Jasmine, and May has such a gift for making self-care so special.

La Bella Figura Aria Nighttime Cell Recovery Treatment

Even though we make plenty of serums, LBF’s Aria looks so rich in color! And as a formulator, that tells me all I need to know: The richer the color typically means the higher the antioxidant content and the higher quality the oils – sold!

October 8, 2014

beauty scoop | primal pit paste natural deodorant

You know you have a bit of an obsession with a scent when you want to smell like it from head to toe — armpits included.

As part of my search for the best of the best natural deodorants on the market, Primal Pit Paste offered to put its collection of de-stinking agents to the test.

When I saw they formulated a scent called “Jacked-up Jasmine,” my ears perked and I got a little sweaty thinking about the fact that I could seriously smell like jasmine even in places where flowers go to die.

(No flowers were harmed in my testing of Primal Pit Paste products.)

primal pit paste natural deodorant

{Primal Pit Paste sent me samples of its natural deodorants in Jacked-up Jasmine, Royal & Rogue and Thyme & Lemongrass. A 2-ounce jar costs $8.95 while a 2-ounce stick costs $10.95.}

Primal Pit Paste sent me two jars of creamy, cruelty-free natural deodorant to test as well as a sample of a similar deodorant formulation packaged in a convenient stick applicator.

(The deodorants in jars are vegan. The ones in stick form contain beeswax for stick compatibility purposes.)

As those of you who are natural deodorant veterans know, it’s a bit difficult to find a truly clean deodorant that’s available in stick form.

While Primal Pit Paste’s stick applicator is by no means perfect — the deodorant cream is still rough to apply and has to be massaged in just a bit to avoid bits of white deodorant on your clothes — it’s a step in the right direction for those of us who aren’t really in to dipping our fingers into pit paste every day.

One trick for applying the stick deodorant almost flawlessly, though, is to give the tip of the deodorant (cap off) a shot of hot air from your hair dryer. This gently melts the shea butter-based formula just a bit and allows it to glide onto your skin a little better (less flaking off).

I still have to massage it in a little to ensure there are no clumps, but consider this your natural stick deodorant tip of the day. You’re welcome.

primal pit paste natural deodorant

I found the jars of Primal Pit Paste more convenient to use — probably because I’m used to this application by now — and because again, my beloved jasmine scent was in jar form.

With the jars of Primal Pit Paste, you know the drill: Mix’er up, scoop a bit onto your fingers and rub it into your pretty little pits.

(Doesn’t it look like some sort of beautiful cake batter?!)

The texture of Primal Pit Paste is velvety and smooth. It’s not whipped and fluffy like Meow Meow Tweet’s, and definitely not hard like Schmidt’s. I’d say it’s most similar in texture to that of Lovefresh.

This is likely thanks having shea butter star as the base ingredient, followed by de-stinkifying arrowroot powder and a mix of antibacterial and moisturizing oils to round out the list.

While all three of my samples contained the regular strength of baking soda for odor-fighting goodness, Primal Pit Paste also offers “light” and “strong” versions for those of you who may need a little less or a little more depending on your body chemistry.

I found that the regular strength was just fine for my smelly self, and that Primal Pit Paste caused zero irritation and left me with zero stinky smells when put to the test for several weeks.

As you may remember from past reviews, my standard test is a typical 9-5 workday, with deodorant going on at about 8 a.m. and needing to last until closing time.

That’s the bare-bones requirement, but truly superior natural deodorants also perform through a vigorous, 85-degree heated Ashtanga yoga practice for 90 minutes.

I typically reapply around 5:30 in prep for my 6 p.m. practice, and Primal Pit Paste performed with me during my practice.

But I also put it to a couple other tests.

One was to wear it throughout my typical 9-5 workday and then go to yoga from 6-7:30 … with no reapplication. A bit of a bold move, as no one wants to be the stinky student in a small studio, but I risked it. For you. You’re welcome.

Primal Pit Paste did not let me down.

But the biggest test I put it through — just for funsies — was a 90-minute Bikram yoga class (I’ve been doing Bikram on Monday nights because I’m a masochist). For those of you unfamiliar with the practice, it’s also a 90-minute yoga class … but in 105-degree heat and 40 percent humidity.

Yeah. Good luck with that one, right?

Primal Pit Paste did not let me down.

That was not a typo.

I did reapply Primal Pit Paste in preparation for the class, but it’s true — it got me through several weeks of sweaty, ohmygoshIthinkImaydie Bikram yoga classes smelling like a blooming jasmine.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the truth is, I did not smell myself and neither did my coworker, Tonya, who also attends the class.

Needless to say, Primal Pit Paste is legit and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to those of you still searching for your one true natural deodorant love. It’s on the repurchase list for sure (because #jasminepits, y’all).

Primal Pit Paste Stick Ingredients:

Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Organic Beeswax, Aluminum Free Baking Soda, and Essential Oils

Available Scents: Lavender, Thyme & Lemongrass, Orange Creamsicle, Unscented, Royal & Rogue, and Jacked-Up Jasmine

Primal Pit Paste Jar Ingredients:

Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Arrowroot Powder, Aluminum Free Baking Soda, and Essential Oils

Available Scents: Lavender, Thyme & Lemongrass, Unscented, Royal & Rogue and Jacked-Up Jasmine

Have you heard of or tried anything from Primal Pit Paste? What do you want your armpits to smell like? Tell me in the comments section!

 

October 6, 2014

beauty scoop | meow meow tweet face oil

If I had a nickel for every time a guy asked me about the best face oils for his skin, I’d have about … fifteen cents.

But loyal lady readers, some of you have a few nice men in your lives, and if you want to ease them into green skincare with a nicely packaged, effective starter face oil, may I recommend Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil?

meow meow tweet face oil

{Meow Meow Tweet sent me a small sample of its Face Oil to review. A full size 0.9-ounce bottle costs $25.}

Though not marketed specifically for men or women, I could easily see Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil being a big hit among men.

Made with skin-soothing ingredients such as hempseed oil, jojoba oil and sesame oil, and spiked with a grounding dose of vetiver, patchouli and juniper, Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil is something of a stiff cocktail for skin that’s been a bit mistreated and could use a helping of simple, yet beautifully effective, moisturizing oils.

The scent isn’t girly at all, yet it’s not so over-the-top masculine that it would be out of place in any beauty buff’s collection.

meow meow tweet face oil

I’m a huge scent person, and while personally I’m not crazy-drawn to the scent of this oil on my face, when I catch whiffs of it after applying it on my hands or hair, it’s earthy and nutty (just like I like my men), and is quite comforting.

On the skin, it feels featherlight, thanks to a smart combination of jojoba oil (my favorite multipurpose skin / body / hair oil), sesame oil and hempseed oil.

The hempseed oil gives Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil a very pretty bold green tint to it (thanks, chlorophyll), thinned out a bit by the rich yellows of sesame and jojoba.

Hempseed oil is one of those underrated-yet-overachieving oils that delivers a shot of omega fatty acids and protein to the skin. I want to see (and feel — oh how luscious it is) hempseed oil in more concoctions.

meow meow tweet face oil

After using my Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil for a few weeks, I didn’t notice any out-of-the-ordinary breakouts, so it’s safe to say that at least on my skin, it was non-clogging and quite nourishing to the skin.

Here’s everything that’s inside Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil:

Organic hempseed oil, organic jojoba oil, organic sesame oil, essential oils of organic carrot seed, organic juniper, organic patchouli & organic vetiver

My skin drinks up jojoba oil and reacts quite well to it (it will forever be a staple in my skincare and I will forever be grateful to its powers for weening me off of ultra drying, OTC and RX acne treatments), so that earns Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil a big plus in my book.

While this isn’t a face oil that I would choose when lined up against my darling jasmine or rose concoctions, it is one that I’d reach for when I want a chilled out, simple face oil treatment with minimal yet effective ingredients to soothe inflamed skin or to just shake up a highly scented routine with something a bit more earthy.

At $25 for a full-sized bottle, Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil is easily one that you could feel good about stocking for those times when you just want something different.

It’s not a huge investment, and it’s got all the familiar ingredients that you’ve come to love, but with a scent that’s the oddball among your somewhat-predictable face oil wardrobe.

And sometimes, you just gotta love those oddball face oils. I’ll be refilling this for the cozy, earthy fall ahead.

Have you tried Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil? What scents are you drawn to, and which scents have grown on you? What plant oils do you think are underrated? Tell me in the comments section!

 

October 1, 2014

beauty scoop | fig + yarrow complexion water

Why is it that some of the best ingredients for fighting acne have to be so … smelly?

Lots of different ingredients come to mind, but one that has a distinct smell is immortelle (specifically, helichrysum italicum). It’s somewhat stale and bitter, and while it’s not absolutely horrible, it’s not exactly perfume-worthy.

Artfully blended, though, immortelle-based toners can be pleasant to use, and Fig + Yarrow has made its Immortelle Yarrow Rockrose Complexion Water just that — in addition to being effective at calming breakouts.

fig + yarrow immortelle yarrow rockrose complexion water

{Fig + Yarrow sent me a sample of its Immortelle Yarrow Rockrose toner. It’s available in trial size and full size,. A 1-ounce trial size spray bottle costs $14; a 4-ounce full-size spray bottle costs $34.}

Upon first use, even in a small trial bottle, I noticed that Fig + Yarrow’s Complexion Water delivers a lovely, fine, abundant mist that lightly covered my whole face with just two pumps.

That’s the first test a mist has to pass for me — please don’t shoot organic goodness straight into my eyeballs!

fig + yarrow immortelle yarrow rockrose complexion water

Next came the smell. A combination of rockrose (warm and sweet scent) and yarrow (sweet and floral) give this immortelle-based toner a nice balance of yin and yang; not too powerful and pungeant, yet not too sickly sweet.

I found myself misting myself a lot with this beautiful complexion water (it lasted about three weeks with regular evening skin prep), and the scent soothed me without lingering or overpowering other products in my routine.

Here’s everything inside Fig + Yarrow’s Complexion Water in Yarrow Immortelle Rockrose:

Achillea millefolium (yarrow) flower water*, Calendula officinalis (marigold) flower water*, Lactobacillus ferment, essential oils of: Achillea millefolium (yarrow), Helichrysum italicum (immortelle), Cistus ladaniferus (rockrose). *certified organic

fig + yarrow immortelle yarrow rockrose complexion water

As far as efficacy, Fig + Yarrow’s Complexion Water in Yarrow Immortelle Rockrose has made it into my arsenal of favorite toners for acneic skin.

I already knew that my skin responded well to immortelle (read: fewer breakouts, clearer complexion, less redness), but what puts this toner above my other beloved immortelle-based toner is that it just smells good.

And we all know we’re more likely to use something more often — and gain the benefits of it — if it’s actually a joy to use.

I will without a doubt repurchase this mist. At $34 for a 4-ounce spray bottle, it’s one of the more affordable organic face mists on the green beauty market today.

Have you tried anything from Fig + Yarrow? Do you like the scent of immortelle? What toner ingredients does your skin respond well to? Tell me in the comments section!

 

September 29, 2014

beauty scoop | mullein and sparrow tinted lip & cheek balm

As we ease into autumn, I’m finding myself reaching for the lighter shades in the purple drawer of my lip color wardrobe.

(Yes, I organize my lippies by color.)

A new multipurpose plum in my collection is Mullein & Sparrow’s Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm, which delivers a sheer wash of violet goodness while hydrating your lips with organic sunflower oil and shea butter.

mullein & sparrow tinted lip and cheek balm

{Mullein & Sparrow sent me a sample of its Tinted Lip and Cheek Balm. It costs $22 for a 1-ounce tin.}

mullein & sparrow tinted lip and cheek balm

Packaged in a gorgeous, vintage apothecary-style tin, Mullein & Sparrow’s Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm offers a natural flush of color that hints of purple.

I’m wearing it only on the lips in these photos, but it’s lovely on the cheeks as well, giving the skin a dewy, balmy glow and natural pinch of color.

(And in case you’re wondering, my happy yellow cat-eye sunnies are from my friends at ICU Eyewear — you know I love a good cat eye!)

mullein & sparrow tinted lip and cheek balm

Mullein & Sparrow’s gorgeous 1-ounce tin is packed full of this non-sticky, ultra-smooth balm, but its appearance in the tin is deceptive.

As you can tell, again, the color payoff isn’t this intense at all.

Instead, it’s a soft wash of “my lips but better and a bit plummer” that’s perfect for non-fussy makeup types (like me) who just don’t have time to paint on intense lips every day.

mullein & sparrow tinted lip and cheek balm

Here’s what’s inside Mullein & Sparrow’s Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm:

Helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil*, Olea europaea (extra virgin olive) oil*, Vitellaria paradoxa (shea) butter*, Cera alba (beeswax)*, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter*, Batschia canescens (alkanet root)*, Copernicia prunifera (Carnauba wax)*, essential oils of: Pogostemon cablin (patchouli)*, Citrus sinensis (orange)* (*Organic)

The light plum color originates from organic alkanet root, a plant that can deliver shades of pink, purple or blue. Alkanet root is common in lots of natural cosmetics, yet I haven’t seen this particular shade achieved in many of the natural lippies I’ve used.

As a fan of lippies in general, but especially of balms and glosses, I would repurchase Mullein & Sparrow’s Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm. The price is reasonable ($22) for the size you get (1 ounce), and the fact that it’s super multipurpose (lips, cheeks, moisture all around) makes it a nice buy.

I’m also a bit of a sucker for pretty packaging, and I just swoon over the aesthetic of the entire Mullein & Sparrow collection anyway.

There’s also something about this being in a tin that draws me in; a lot of sheer wash lippies that are in tubes mess with my mind — I somehow expect them to be deeper and more intense because they’re in bullet / tube form.

If it’s in a pot or tin, it just feels more like a lip balm or lip tint, and the idea that the color just isn’t supposed to be too intense fits better with my mind.

How’s that for some random consumer research, beauty brands?

Don’t forget! You can save 15% off of any Mullein & Sparrow purchase through September 30. Use code “KIMLOC” at checkout!

What do you look for in tinted lip and cheek balms? Have you tried anything from Mullein & Sparrow? Tell me in the comments section!

 



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