Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Checkin in! NMDL post!

Hello lovely readers, hope you're all doing well! Just checking in to say I hope anyone affected by the storms is fairing well--I got the last flight out of Boston on Monday around noon and it was getting blustery then!

I also wanted to mention that I was honored to have my new natural beauty routine posted to a favorite natural beauty blog, No More Dirty Looks. You can find my regimen here! :)

Stay safe and have a happy Halloween everyone!

Friday, 19 October 2012

October 2012 Regrets/Replacements

In the blogging world, people tend to play up everything as happy, positive, and perfect. I rarely see posts on things that haven't worked out or failures. While I tend to be a 'glass half full' type of person, I don't think this aspect of blogging gives a realistic portrayal of life. I also tend to learn as much or more from my mistakes/failures than from my successes. So I'm starting a new feature on the blog!

It's called Regrets/Replacements. The "Regrets" portion will consist of products, books, movies, clothes, media, etc that I dislike or was disappointed in. And since I don't believe in bitching about things and not doing anything to solve the problem, the "Replacements"portion will be alternatives to my regrets that I do like or appreciate.

Hopefully this series will help you avoid mistakes I've encountered and introduce you to stuff that's worked well for me, while giving you a glimpse into my life--I always like learning more about the bloggers behind the blog! :)


October 2012 Regret/Replace

1. Korres Evening Primrose Eye Cream/Juice Beauty Eye Cream
Korres eye care

Korres eye care (see more korres)

Regret: I bought the Korres Evening Primrose Eye Cream as part of a set at the recommendation of (suprise, surprise) a Sephora rep when she heard that I was interested in transitioning to natural makeup. Not only does the product not really do anything special, the Korres line uses many controversial ingredients! I haven't noticed any difference in my eye area after 2 weeks of use, and now that I know more about natural products and what to avoid I can see that Korres, while perhaps a good stepping-stone to natural, is not the best company out there (many of their products contain silica, talc, etc--this one contains the controversial ingredient Japanese honeysuckle). (I will share that I bought this set for $15 at TJMaxx like 2 weeks case someone else likes these products :)
Eye care

Eye care (clipped to

Replacement: Luckily I've found another company that's better, and I like the product a bit more. The Juice Beauty eye cream not only moisturizes but has beneficial effects like helping with hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Word of warning, not all of their ingredients are controversy-free either (their brightening moisturizer has phenoxyethanol, for example), but I feel that they are better than Korres and the eye cream works more efficiently for me. If you're not worried about products that include ingredients that have uncertain (not known one way or another) effects, this may be a great line of skin and beauty care for you. It's not my holy-grail product yet but it's a fairly cheap stand-in until I find something better. 

2. John Masters SPF and Mineral Fusion SPF/Burn Out SPF

Face moisturizer

FREE SHIPPING - John Masters Organics - Skincare - SPF 30 Natural...

Regret: Both the John Masters and Mineral Fusion sunscreens felt exactly the same to me--heavy on the skin, stayed greasy feeling all day, and made my normally dry face shine like an oil slick! However, I've heard great things about these products from other people, so if they work for your skin tone I'd go for it. Even though the Mineral Fusion feels the same as John Masters, has higher SPF, and is cheaper, it does contain dimethicone and phenoxyethanol and John Masters doesn't (these are two ingredients that are controversial in their supposed harm but I avoid just in case).

Replacement: Burn Out SPF is a product I love and hate. On its own, the product stays very tacky and feels a bit rough on my skin. I would never recommend this to anyone had I not played around with it a bit. Now I always moisturize with a layer of coconut oil underneath (I love Dr. Bronner's organic coconut oil), let it sink in a couple minutes, then apply the Burn Out SPF. Somehow the combo of the two products makes my skin feel silky smooth, it doesn't get greasy, and it eliminates the tacky feeling I get with Burn Out alone. In fact, the two products together remind me a lot of Josie Maran's Daily Moisturizing SPF, which I loooooove but am avoiding since it has phenoxyethanol and dimethicone  If Burn Out alone doesn't work for you, I highly recommend trying a moisturizer underneath before giving up on it!

3. Pinkwashing/Acure Organics Bright Pink program

2011 (clipped to

Regret: Companies that market themselves as supporters of breast cancer research, use the Pink Ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness month as a marketing/money-making ploy, yet continue to use known carcinogens in their products. Hypocrisy much?? I just watched Pink Ribbons Inc., which is a documentary based on the book by Samantha King, and learned a lot of interesting information about 'pinkwashing.' 

Face care

Face care (clipped to
Replacement: I mentioned in a past post that Acure Organics was founded by the granddaughter of a woman who lived with breast cancer for 10 years. A significant portion of their proceeds go to support Bright Pink (including 100% of proceeds of their chocolate and mint lip balm!). The products are very clean, cheap, work well, and seem to be 'natural' on every front, including their product ingredients, fair trade conditions, packaging, cruelty-free stance, and support of a very worthy cause. I'm actually loving many of their products right now so I'll review them soon.

4. Getting my bike stolen/Green Earth Books replacing my book for free
I'm Glad I Exist Weekend Wishlist Nursing my Wounds edition

Regret: I've already talked about how my bike was stolen and how I still feel bitter and shitty about it. Enough said. Karma's a bitch, really, so I hope the thief watches out. 
Replacement: I recently ordered The Art of Raising a Puppy through the Barnes and Noble used book seller Green Earth Books. It never showed up so I emailed GEB, only to discover that the wrong address had auto-populated my order. They not only very politely informed me of the problem, but also sent me a new copy free of charge. I really appreciate customer service like that--they could easily have blamed the error on me and refused to send a copy or refund my purchase, but because of the way they handled it I am happy to support them with my business and to pass on their name to my readers! Speaking of Karma...thanks for the good faith, Green Earth Books! :)

5. Vote Yes Minnesota/Clever pro-gay-marriage signs
Minnesota for Marriage Unveils 'Vote Yes' Billboards

Regret: Support for the Minnesota amendment that will define marriage in the state constitution as between a man and woman. Since this isn't a political forum, I won't delve into why this is offensive to me, but I feel strongly about it so it has made my 'regrets' list. I find the "Myths and Facts" tab is particularly one-sided.


Signs (clipped to
Replacement: Clever pro-gay-marriage signs. Clear, to-the-point declarations of their stance on gay marriage. I realize that this is not the 'gay' counterpoint to the Minnesota for Marriage page but I enjoyed the wit displayed here. 

6. How I Met Your Mother season 8/New Girl Season 2
How I Met Your Mother

Regret: How I Met Your Mother Season 8. I'm a long-term fan of this show (I've seen every episode multiple times), but so far this season I feel like it's fading into craphood. The most recent episode redeemed itself a little though so I'll continue watching.

New Girl

New Girl (clipped to

Replacement: New Girl, season 2 (well, and season 1). This shit is hilarious. Even my boyfriend and male roommates like it. I watched the first 2 episodes of season 2 the day my bike was stolen and it cheered me up more than anything else! That's a glowing endorsement if I ever gave one :)

So there you have it--things I've regretted in October, plus things that I feel help make up for the regrets! :)

Friday, 12 October 2012

Going Green! Spirit Beauty Lounge

In diving headfirst into the green beauty world, I've become overwhelmed with the multitude of things you should consider when selecting your products. For a truly green product you need to look at the ingredients list (duh--but harder than you may think!), but also consider what went into making that product (working conditions, type of factory, whether products are locally sourced, etc etc). I found myself wishing there was a place I could turn to where all this research was magically already done and I could just peruse pretty packaging without the burden of thought (my life is rough...)

Enter Spirit Beauty Lounge. This online mecca of natural beauty products is basically as store version of "Natural Cosmetics for Dummies." Spirit Demerson, founder of SBL, does all of the above and more in selecting their stock. In fact, she wrote a really interesting blog post on the topic, discussing the various factors she considers in choosing her merchandise. Suffice it to say that I feel safe in using any of the products she's selected.

SBL also offers a really fantastic sampler, wherein you select any nine products and receive samples of them for $25. This was my first (but surely not last!) foray into SBL. My sampler included:

Spirit Beauty Lounge goodies

So far, I've tried out the Acure Organics Brightening Face Scrub, Acure Organics Argan Oil, RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek, and RMS Beauty Un-Coverup, the Alima Pure Matte Foundation, Vapour Aura Blush Multi Use, and Vapour Soft Focus Foundation. Here are my thoughts on those products:

1. AO Face scrub: LOVE. My dry skin gets irritate easily with (much-needed) exfoliation, but this product made it feel clean and smooth without feeling tight or dry. I drove directly to Whole Foods and bought this after trying it.
2. AO Argan Oil: I've never used argan oil, aka 'liquid gold' before, so I can't compare how this 100% argan oil may compare to other pure argan oils, but I love this for spot-treating dry spots. Other people swear by dabbing this on the ends of their hair and using as a cuticle oil. A little goes a long way, but once I'm out of my sample I'll likely purchase.
3. Living Luminizer: I'm not a big fan of most luminizers, but this was nice--not too sparkly, glittery, or white. I put it in the inner corners of my eyes, on my cheekbones, and on my cupid's bow. It creased slightly on my eyes and was too subtle to notice on my cheekbones. But I still liked the product--I'd love it as a gift but am unlikely to shell out my own cash for it.
4. Lip2Cheek: I'm going to buy this. I loooove it. Blends easily, has great staying power, makes you look naturally flushed. I got it in Smile and thought it was a bit dry as a lip color but maybe with a balm under it? I'll use it as a blush for sure. Love.
5. UnCoverup: I'm split on this. It blends really nicely, changes to your skin tone, and has great staying power...but on my dry patches it really clumped up and made them stand out. For people who are well-moisturized this would be fantastic! For me, I think I can find a product better suite to my skin.
6. Alima Foundation: I keep trying mineral powder foundations and never like the results. I want to try mixing this in my moisturizer to make a tinted moisturizer. I will say that I loved the feel of it--very light but great coverage--so for people who enjoy powder foundation I highly recommend this as I like it much better than Bare Minerals. Not for me, unfortunately.
7. Multi Use Blush: Drier than the RMS Lip2Cheek, but really pretty sheer color. It comes in stick form, so the sample I had may not be the best version of it (it was a bit hard to get enough color from my finger to my cheek) but if you got the full size I'm sure it would be fantastic.
8. Soft Focus Foundation: I understand exactly what they mean by 'soft focus'--it makes your skin look petal-y soft, almost airbrushed. Unfortunately this product, like the UnCoverup, emphasized my dry patches, so it doesn't work for me. But I loved the feel and look of it on my not-so-dry skin, so people with better-moisturized skin would probably love this. I'd highly recommend this to my friends but not use myself.

With three free samples with any order and free shipping over $50, I can see that Spirit Beauty Lounge will quickly become the bane of my paycheck (in the prettiest, cleanest way! :) I've already added the RMS Lip2Cheek to my online Spirit Beauty Lounge shopping cart with, have the Acure Scrub in my medicine closet already, and put the Living Luminizer and Vapour Blush on my (too early to be be called a Christmas list) Christmas list!

Going Green! Acure Organics

For those of you who took the time to read my last post, thank you so much! For those who didn't...I don't blame you. Thems were lotsa words. The gist of it is this: I'm transitioning my skincare and beauty products from conventional cosmetics to green/organic/natural products. If you'd like to learn more about this topic, you may wish to click the links from my last post.

The first 'green' brand that I want to highlight is called Acure Organics. I've chosen them as my first subject for a variety of reasons.

  1. They are easily accessible for many people since Whole Foods stocks them.
  2. In the realm of organics they are relatively affordable while not compromising on quality. In fact, my Whole Foods has them on sale until the end of the month (and on Tuesdays they're another 15% off!).
  3. From all accounts I've read they are a reputable company, meaning that they really take this whole 'organic' thing to heart. They aren't a brand that claims to be organic but really only has one organic ingredient amongst of slew of toxins. 
  4. Best of all, they support a cause that I'm really passionate about. The founder of Acure Organics created the company in tribute to her grandmother who fought breast cancer for 10 years. When you purchase most (if not all) of their products, proceeds go towards Bright Pink, a fantastic support resource that I refer a lot of my cancer patients to. Since I respect the work of Bright Pink a lot, I'm happy to put my hard-earned dollars towards a beauty company that also supports them.
  5. Lastly, they work! I literally haven't read a negative review of this company's products yet, and I've done a LOT of diggin!

Here's a collection of Acure Organics products that I've specifically heard great things about:

Acure Organics

I stopped by Whole Foods today and picked up the night cream, facial cleaners (the gel-based one, not the creme showed here), the brightening facial scrub, and the shampoo. I've used the night cream already and it feels really moisturizing without being overly greasy or heavy. I also used the brightening scrub, which made my face baby-smooth without drying it out. I'll update with reviews once I use the products more!

PS: That Acure Organics Argan Oil is $11 at Whole Foods right now! I don't know what makes it better or worse than any other 100% argan oil (probably the extraction process, like cold-pressing), but reviews of the product are great--seems like it may be a great place for a 'save' instead of a 'splurge'!

PPS: For an interesting interview with the founder of Acure Organics please read this article by Fig + Sage.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

No Pretty Pictures but Important to Me

A little-known fact about me is that I grew up on an organic farm. My parents taught me to respect our land (my brother will be the fourth generation to farm it), and for our family part of respecting the land that literally fed me is taking care of its nutrition. You may not know that soil, much like people, depends on a delicate balance of nutrients to perform optimally. Certain plants leech nutrients like calcium and potassium from the soil, while others add it back in. For this reason, organic farmers rotate which crops they plant in which field each year--to maintain the delicate balance. Organic farmers like my dad also have to abide by very strict standards for crop control--my high school summers were spent 'walking beans' aka literally walking up and down rows of beans in 100+ acre fields, hand-picking weeds since conventional, chemical-based weed control is not allowed with organic farming.

So what does this all have to do with my blog? Well today I'd like to talk about my transition from conventional cosmetics and skincare products to natural/organic/green/'clean' beauty. You might think that, given how my family makes a living, I eat only organic products, never wash my hair, and am extremely conscious of my environmental impact. Unfortunately, until just recently, you'd be wrong. Much like many people, I eat what's at the grocery store, shower regularly, and while I am an avid recycler and take public transit everywhere (I don't own a car), my education/awareness regarding the impact my lifestyle has on the environment is embarassingly scant.

Lately I've had a series of blemish outbreaks on my skin, which got me studying up on what may be breaking me out and what I can do to stop it. In my research, I started to realize: I try to eat healthy (although not organic), exercise, and generally take care of myself. Why, then, am I exposing myself to all sorts of chemicals, whether it be in my shampoo, mascara, face wash, lettuce, or shower cleaner? My search for cleaner, purer products started with my desire to simplify my routine and my exposures to harmful chemicals.

So, looooong story short, I'm transitioning my skincare and beauty products to much more natural/green/organic/'clean' products. And since I've had to do a lot of research to even start this process, I thought I'd share some of the best of what I've learned. If you are interested, please click the links below for some amazing education from people much smarter and more eco-friendly than I.

Useful Information for Judging your Products:

Lists of Ingredients in Cosmetics to Avoid:

Current Favorite Organic Beauty Blogs:

I hope that you enjoy learning about this topic as much as I do. In the upcoming weeks I plan to keep you updated to my journey to cleaner beauty. Since I know this is not everyone's cup of tea, it won't be the sole topic of my blog. But because I started this blog to document things I'm interested in at any given point in my life, I think it's important to document my process. Hope you'll enjoy the ride!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Weekend Wishlist: Nursing my Wounds edition

Do you ever have one of those days where you wish you could hit the rewind button on virtually every second of the day? Yeah? I had one of those weeks.

It all started off when my beautiful brand new road bike got stolen out of my hospital's parking lot.

Here she is.....I was actually surprised by how extremely sad this theft has made me. I've had nice things stolen before and it sucks but usually I just chalk it up to 'live and learn'...but this was a really sentimental gift, given to me by my boyfriend for graduating grad school. And the fact that it was stolen from a hospital really makes you question your faith in humanity. 

Anyway, my week rapidly devolved from that point. So now all I want from this weekend is the ability to nurse my wounds, get cozy in the rapidly cooling fall weather, and maybe go do something fun with my man. My Weekend Wishlist, therefore, looks a little something like this:

Weekend WIshlist October 5, 2012

Sometimes all you need is a little Sex in the City marathon with a giant mug of ice cream. I'd love to do it while being chic and cozy in this comfy wrap cardigan and Pixie pants from JCrew. If my spirits lift enough, maybe I'll even throw on some jaunty lipstick and hot booties and hit the town!

Here's wishing you a much better weekend than my week ;)