September 30, 2018

Idiot's Guide to Cleansers - Oil Cleansers, Milk Cleansers & The Double Cleansing Method



Have you heard? Oil Cleansing is the new black these days.

Harsh make-up wipes are slowly on their way out and oils are now in vogue! Almost all skin care routines around the world - K beauty included - are recommending this double cleansing method as a way of drawing out impurities and prepping the face for optimal hydration.

In the double cleansing method, you first use an oil based cleanser to gently breakup and remove oil based impurities like excess facial oil and sun screen and makeup. There are so many options out there, but personally, I like to oil cleanse with purely natural, non-comedogenic oils [like jojoba, hemp-seed, argon, avocado, sunflower, ect] or a blend of these oils. Also, here's an instructive article on the "how to's" of oil cleansing. 

for step 1 of the double cleanse - an oil cleanser* from A'del's Luxury Skin Care Set

Then the second, a water based cleanser, will further remove air-pollutants, dirt and water based impurities like sweat and also help address specific skin concerns like acne, exfoliation, refining, and hydration. The oil cleanse dissolves and draws the impurities out of the pores while the second cleanse effectively washes them away.

for step 2 of the double cleanse - A water based, gentle foaming cleanser* by Bristol & Sussex

Also, nowadays, there are a few hybrid milk cleansers where you can consolidate both steps of the double cleansing method into one! As you may have guessed, I especially love these. With a milk cleanser, you dampen your face, still with a day's worth of dirt, grime and makeup on, and massage the cleanser into the skin in a gentle circular motion. Then you simply rinse it all off with warm water and - voila - you're clean and prepped. No need for steaming the face with a hot wash cloth for these milk cleansers which makes it especially convenient for when you're pressed for time or traveling. 

L'uvalla Milk Cleanser* [pictured at the very top] and OSEA's Ocean Cleansing Milk* are two clean and effective cleansers that I've been using and enjoying these days.

Happy Cleansing!
xoxo
Grace




*gifted


All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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September 20, 2018

Gaelle Organic - SPLASH! - "Skincare for Timeless Beauty"



Do you remember the margarine brand that tasted so similar to real butter that one would be inspired to exclaim "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!"? 

It speaks to the quality and the horse-power of a product when, astonished at how well it's working, I go back to the ingredients list wondering "what is in this thing?!" and then to exclaim, "I Can't Believe It's 100% Natural!" That is precisely what happens when using Gaelle Organic's [pronounced like "Gail"] skin care line. Their products feel so good to the skin that it's hard to believe that all of their products are formulated with only Ecocert Certified organic and natural ingredients!

I had the opportunity to test out their newest product line "LES PETITES" before its [any-day-now] launch this fall. Not only are their products organic and cruelty free, they soon will be eco-conscious as well - a triple threat in the holistic skin care world! One of the benefits of their PETITES is that you can try and test their luxurious and artisanal skin care collection at a fraction of the cost, not to mention how perfectly sized they are for travel.

Check out this artfully illustrated interactive list where you can read about the benefits of each botanical ingredient in their products.


MASQUE SUPÉRIEURE

"Rich in sea minerals, seaweed extracts and clays, Masque Supérieure is fortified with essential minerals to revitalize the complexion." - Gaelle Organic

The Masque Supérieure hydrates more than any other I've experienced thus far from the green beauty world. The creamy, lotion-like formula feels like spreading a lightweight and lush chocolate mousse over the face - just heavenly - and this rich mask leaves my face feeling moisturized and dewy, and soft. A blend of white & red clay, aloe vera, botanical extracts, and essential oils – this mask truly exemplifies “Divine Intervention for Luminious skin.”

Unlike purely clay based masks [like a charcoal mask] whose purpose is to clarify, draw impurities out of pores and to exfoliate, this one is unique in that it focuses on infusing your skin with H2O - almost like a sheet mask - but without the sheet.

It's been the perfect addition to all of my most recent masking sessions and I've been enjoying getting creative with its uses. On days when I want to target my T-zone with a charcoal mask to tighten pores and soak up the excess oils in that area, instead of leaving the rest of my face exposed to dry out, I'll spread on the Masque Supérieure for optimal hydration.

A great thing about this mask is that it goes on fairly sheer which means I can walk around the house with it on and not scare my husband or my furry pets. The directions say to leave it on for 20-30 min but this is mask is so hydrating that I've gotten into the habit of leaving it on whilst brewing up a blog post [I'm actually wearing it now! haha].

Simplified Ingredient List - Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, White Clay, Glycerin, Safflower Seed Oil and/or Sunflower Seed Oil, Red Clay, Sesame Seed Oil, Coconut Oil, Rose Flower Water, Propanediol, Saccharomyces/Sea Silt Ferment, Jojoba Oil, Bladderwrack Extract, Irish Moss Extract, Lecithin, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Cucumber Fruit Extract, Peppermint Extract, Goji Fruit Extract, Acai Fruit Extract, Green Tea Extract, Calendula Extract, Rose Geranium Oil, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Beeswax, Carnauba Wax, Vit E, Xanthan Gum, Squalene, Beta-sitosterol, Aqua, Sodium Benzoate, Calcium Gluconate


EXFOLIANT SUPÉRIEURE


The Ex­fo­liant Supérieure is a hybrid of a gentle masking peel and exfoliant all in one. It's formulated with a mixture of finely milled pink salts and french sea salts, willow bark extract, and a blend of fairly non-comedogenic oils [comedogenic level of 2- jojoba, 0- safflower seed, 0- sunflower seed , 3- sesame seed , 2-olive, 4- coconut].

A unique and active ingredient, the willow bark works as an effective botanical extract. It contains salicin, the natural form of salicylic acid, [the chemical form of salicylic acid is used for many products targeting acne and breakouts] without the drawback of the synthetic form which can cause irritation and dryness! It's known and used for its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and "is also high in tannins, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and various minerals, all of which help soothe the skin and aid in cell regeneration, allowing for a more youthful, refreshed complexion." [munskin.com] Wow. Now take the effects of the willow bark extract and marry it with the exfoliating/cleansing qualities of the sea salts and voila, the Ex­fo­liant Supérieure is born.

Now to the "how to's" - Once every four days, while my face is still a little wet from cleansing, I'll take a teaspoon of the product and spread it all over my face. Then I'll let the organic oils and the plant extracts soak in to my pores to do their magic of refining and moisturizing for about 10min. [I wouldn't leave it on for much longer than 15-20min because the salts could have a drying effect.] Then I'll bring myself back to the sink and exfoliate my skin in a gentle circular motion with the sea salts. And as a side note, as with any physical exfoliate, a gentle touch is best. Although the salts are finely ground, there's always a chance, if rubbed too enthusiastically, to damage, irritate, and redden the skin. So turn on your most calming classical music in the background and channel fluffy, feather-filled pillowcases as you massage your face with the Ex­fo­liant Supérieure.

As a heads up, perhaps because of the blend of organic oils in this formula, my face usually feels slightly oily after having used this product. I've tried a couple different methods of washing it off, from using cold to warm water to the oil cleansing method of soaking a washcloth with hot enough water to soften the pores and to wipe away the leftover oil. The latter seems to work better. On days when I'm planning to sheet mask or apply a water based serum, I'll usually go in with a gentle foaming cleanser to wash away all the residual oil.

So if you have skin [dry, oily, aging, acne prone, irritated...] this gentle peel and exfoliator will have a purpose in your weekly skin care regimen.

Simplified Ingredient List - Bolivian Pink Salt or Himalayan Salt, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, French Gray Sea Salt, Jojoba Oil, Safflower Seed Oil and/or Sunflower Seed Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Shea Butter, Virgin Coconut Oil, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Xanthan Gum, Willow Bark Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Rose Geranium Oil, Bergamot Fruit Oil


CRÈME SUPÉRIEURE & ULTRA SENSITIVE CRÈME


If you're on the lookout to try an all-natural and organic moisturizer to satisfy your skin's hydration needs - especially as the temperature/humidity levels drop for the cooler seasons - keep your eyes peeled for Gaelle's Crème Supérieure and Ultra Sensitive Crème's PETITES. Their formula uses a unique blend of plant extracts and oils to bring natural radiance and youthfulness back to your skin. A single pot of creme from their PETITES line will last about 3 weeks, with morning and evening use, as just a tiny bit of product goes a long way.

These crèmes leave an incredibly dewy finish - almost too dewy to wear under foundation. But in the morning I wear them on my neck and décol­loté [upper chest, shoulder areas] to moisturize and to highlight the areas near the collarbone. As for an evening moisturizer, the crèmes are so rich and hydrating I don't ever feel the need to apply facial oil or an overnight mask on top, yet delicate enough that I don't feel the need for the extra step of eye cream - simplifying my skincare routine and shaving down precious minutes that I could be getting some beauty sleep!

They're very similar but if I had to choose one out of the two crèmes, I would say, [hmmm...] the Ultra Sensitive Crème. It is slightly lighter in texture than the Crème Supérieure, not to mention that the Ultra Sensitive Crème contains premature-aging-preventative antioxidants from edelweiss extracts. I don't have serious wrinkles as of yet but pesky fine lines around my eyes and smile lines are starting to show and I can use all the help I can get in nipping aging at the bud.

Now let's get into the nitty-gritty of what these crèmes are made out of! Fun, right? [haha] If you're not into that, feel free to scroll down past this part. In carefully studying and comparing their ingredient lists, the base for both of these moisturizers is aloe vera juice. Both formulations include a blend of similar oils - jojoba, sesame, olive, and coconut oil, with beeswax, and shea butter - with a few differences - the Ultra Sensitive Crème has saffron and/or sunflower oil while the Crème Supérieure has apricot kernel oil. They employ varying plant based essential oils and extracts - Evening Primrose Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Chamomile Flower Oil, Rosemary Leaf Extract - for their natural benefitsSome hard-to-read ingredients you might not recognize right away [I checked for you!] are all considered safe by EWG and Paula's Choice and are linked for your reference here and also in the ingredient lists below -  Bovine [aka cattle] Colostrum PowderGluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, and Beta-sitosterol.


Simplified Ingredient List of Crème Supérieure - Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Jojoba Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Beeswax, Olive Fruit Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Bovine Colostrum Powder, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Glycerin (preservative), Ghee, Calendula Flower Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Squalene, Litsea Cubeba Fruit Oil, Rose Geranium Oil, Beta-sitosterol

Simplified Ingredient List of Ultra Sensitive Crème - Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Safflower Seed Oil and/or Sunflower Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Bovine Colostrum Powder, Beeswax, Evening Primrose Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Glycerin, Gluconolactone and Sodium Benzoate, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil, Edelweiss Flower/Leaf Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract
pictured from left to right - Masque Supérieure, Ex­fo­liant Supérieure, Crème Supérieure and Ultra Sensitive Crème

To close, I want to highlight the woman behind this skin care line - Ms. Gaelle herself. It's always a pleasure to get to know and understand the soul and heart behind a skin care collection. A former model turned esthetician, she shares her philosophy, wisdom and stories of her journey to clean beauty on her blog. Her published posts include skin care tips on how to age beautifully, simplifying a skin care routine to the essentials and how a single great moisturizer is all you need for all your skin care needs, and the story of how she discovered the best exfoliant ever. Her philosophy of skin care is mindful and encourages all of us to continue a holistic lifestyle - taking care of the skin through well-being, proper nutrition, and exercise. At 60-something years old with beautifully glowing skin, her personal skin care collection - now available to all of us - is absolutely worth looking into.

Have a BEAUTY-FULL day!
xoxo
Grace

*These products from the PETITES line were kindly gifted by Gaelle Organic for an honest review.

All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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All You Need Is Lipstick - O - V - E


Call me crazy, but this is one of my favorite makeup tricks that I save especially for the cooler seasons. With a single tube of lipstick, I color my lips, my cheeks, AND my eyelids! Did I just hear the beauty police knocking on my door? haha. I'm breaking all the rules here!

This way, I don't ever have to worry about matching my lips to my cheeks or eyes! And because of it's portability, this hack comes in handy when on the road. Just some skin care essentials, clean underwear, and a handful of lipsticks and DONE[!], I'm packed.


A perfect transition from summer to winter, this single lipstick trick might just launch you into Fall feeling all warm and cozy and dreaming of pumpkin chai lattes - if that's your thing. [wink]

And you know the feeling when you're on a super consistent routine and you're just craving something new and exciting - to mix things up a little? Well after a long hot & humid summer, to greet the cooler season properly, I'm all for switching up my cosmetic palettes to get creative and excited about makeup again.




I've been trying out an all natural makeup line by A'DEL and I am absolutely loving their Fall toned lipsticks and eyeshadows! I'll be sharing some fall looks on my Instagram stories this week so keep your eyes peeled!

A'del's fall inspiring eyeshadows (from left to right) - Butterscotch, Brown Sugar, Autumn, Dusk

Soon to come is a post on how to transition from a summer skin care routine to one optimized for cold weather, but this lipstick hack seemed like more fun so I shared it first!

Have a BEAUTY-FULL Day! 
xoxo Grace

















All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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September 16, 2018

Bristol & Sussex's Daily Radiance Set - "Clean Beauty. Uncompromised."


Hi Friends!

I'm brimming with excitement over here because this is my birthday-month! Yay! Which gives me all the more reasons for self pampering and mini-spa sessions to launch myself as refreshed as possible into my new- older- self. If you need me, I'll be soaking in my tub with cucumbers over my eyes, sipping on cool ice tea.

Speaking of pampering, my skin's had the pleasure of experiencing Bristol & Sussex's Daily Radiance Set, and so far I only have good things to say. I've been pleased with the quality of their clean products and how they've nourished my skin these past couple months. My face feels clean, balanced, and hydrated, supple and prepped for the colder seasons ahead.

Their brand aligns perfectly with my search for "clean beauty" - high performing products that are free of harmful toxins. Mindfully formulated with clinically tested and proven ingredients, Bristol & Sussex's Daily Radiance Set works with your "skin’s natural processes" to nourish and address the skin's needs.

With no fillers or water in any of their products, each ingredient has been carefully curated for a specific purpose. Also, the ingredients are organically certified by ECOcert and naturally derived from plants - which in turn means that our bodies will be able to absorb the high quality ingredients more easily than synthetic oils, vitamins, and minerals.

All of Bristol & Sussex products are made with ingredients with an EWG Score of one!

'Cleanse' - Hypoallergenic Facial Cleanser


I have normal to dry skin with aging concerns and if I follow the advice of most skin care specialists, I should probably be using a gentle milk cleanser to wash my face. I've tried several oil based cleansers from varying companies, and honestly, have not loved the results. My face never feels 100% clean and the milk cleansers always leave an oily film on my face - which I then have to wash off with another cleanser. But on the other hand, more effective facial cleansers that leave me feeling squeaky clean have been too harsh and drying for my skin! [sigh] Well, I have to say that Bristol and Sussex's facial cleanser is the perfect hybrid! 

This facial cleanser is made to foam and cleanse with decyl glucoside - a mild, and gentle, all natural surfactant - to effectively remove excess face oil, makeup, and build up of daily, environmental toxins. All the meanwhile, the blend of aloe vera, vitamin B, C and E, cold-pressed oils [argan, jojoba, castor, rosehip...] and essential oils [lavender, chamomile, and rosemary] nourishes and hydrates the skin. Now I come out of my shower with my face feeling matte and clean - without either the oily residue or the dry and stripped feeling - best of both worlds.

Ingredients - Raw Unfiltered Aloe Vera Juice, Decyl Glucoside (from coconut), Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate), MSM (Dimethyl Sulfone), Vitamin B5 (dl-Panthenol), Squalane, Sea Kelp Bioferment, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Castor Oil, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Rose Hip Seed Oil, Safflower Oil, Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Lavender Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Citric Acid (from cane sugar)


'Balance' - pH & Oil Facial Moisturizer


After I cleanse, and while my face is still slightly damp, I'll go ahead and apply a water based serum and then take a lima bean size of Bristol & Sussex Facial Moisturizer and apply it in a thin layer, all over my face, neck and chest.

Their formula uses the naturally powerful properties of sea kelp - packed with vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fatty acids - to hydrate, firm, and strengthen the skin. Sea kelp is said to help your skin retain its moisture, keeping it hydrated for longer. It additionally works as a healing agent, even helping reduce the appearance of acne scars. This moisturizer also has hyaluronic acid in its formula to plump up the skin and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles. But don't worry, the lotion doesn't actually smell like seaweed. Infused with all natural essential oils, the moisturizer smells subtly of lavender, chamomile, and rosemary - a mix of musky and woodsy florals, soothing and relaxing.

I would have to say that this is not the most lush moisturizer I've come across. I can tell that it's doing its job of hydrating because the lotion keeps my skin from getting dry and flaky, but it also leaves my skin leaning more on the spectrum of matte than dewy. If you're a bit older in age or have very dry skin, I would recommend supplementing this moisturizer with the facial oil that I'll be sharing about next! For the summer months this lotion has been working for me but I might consider switching to a slightly richer formula as the humidity and temperature drops. But for those with oily and combination skin, or those who are in the younger age range working through acne, this lotion might be a good one to try!

"Our balance daily facial moisturizer is formulated to regulate the face's delicate pH and oil levels while softening and firming without silicone or silicone derivatives! Identical to lipids found in the skin, the oil and ceramide blend has been concentrated into the cream base to provide enhanced skin moisturization and protection with a silky, never greasy, finish."


Raw Unfiltered Aloe Vera Juice, Squalane, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Castor Oil, Shea Nut Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sea Kelp Bioferment, Ceramide NP, Ceramide AP, Ceramide EOP, Phytosphingosine, Cholesterol, Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate), Hyaluronic Acid, MSM, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Rose Hip Seed Oil, Safflower Oil, Vitamin B5, Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Lavender Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Citric Acid (from cane sugar)


'Hydrate' - Deep Conditioning Facial Oil

I'm still wondering what makes the facial oil this golden amber color. So pretty, right?

After cleansing, applying serum, and lotion I'll finish off my routine with the 'Hydrate' deep conditioning facial oil. I put two generous pumps of the oil into one palm and then use the other to spread it over my face and neck, avoiding the eye area.

I would have to say that, if I had to choose, the facial oil might be my favorite product from this set. It has been helpful in prepping my skin for the cooler months ahead. This face oil easily soaks into my pores leaving my skin supple and dewy, seals in the hydrating treatment from the serum and moisturizer, works as a protective layer against environmental stresssers, and is useful for an effective overnight mask! I haven't had any issues with clogged pores or topical breakouts due to its blend of non-comedogenic natural oils.

"The oils were selected for their fatty acid profile to ensure profile diversity, nourishment, and penetration into the skin and the vitamin levels are the result of thorough research into skin sensitivity to ensure comfort while maximizing efficacy."

Squalane, Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Safflower Oil, Castor Oil, CoEnzymeQ10, Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate), Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Chamomile Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil


From all the skin care products I've used so far, Bristol & Sussex's Daily Radiance Set is by far the most unisex and male friendly. If you're looking for a reliable skin care line from the clean beauty world, I recommend trying out this trio. From their monotone and modern packaging, the simplicity of the product's application, to their subtly musky and relaxing scent, their cleanser and the moisturizer would be a perfect gift for someone who is just being introduced to a regular skin care routine, a father, brother, friend, or spouse.  I'm taking note of this for my upcoming Christmas shopping list. [wink]

Have a BEAUTY- FULL day!
xoxo
Grace


*The Daily Radiance Set was kindly gifted by Bristol & Sussex for an honest review.



All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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September 13, 2018

To All the Boys [I mean] Products I've Loved Before - 5 Clean Products NOT to Buy


Hello Friends!

I hope this blog has been encouraging and informing you of easy and practical tips to a cleaner, toxin-free life! I started with swapping out something as unromantic as sunscreen and it's taken me on a path to transforming my lifestyle in a way that has been more mindful, healthy, and rewarding. We can do it - together!

I'd love to hear your feedback, and I hope this blog is also a fun and reliable place to visit and read honest/in-depth reviews of the many clean products available to us. It's been a bit like searching in the dark for me as most of these clean/green companies [especially, in comparison to what you'd find for mainstream brands] lack reviews on their website and other social mediums.

A frustrating thing on this journey has been the uncertainty, the “not knowing” factor, of many of these products before ordering them. When you shop at a physical cosmetic store like Sephora or Ulta, it’s normal to try a product and compare it with other options before committing to buying it. And even drugstore makeup can, most of the time, be easily returned if it’s not what you’re looking for. But navigating through natural beauty companies – with no store front, with higher priced items, and with policies that don’t allow returns for opened items – has caused me to accumulate some products that I just…don’t... love. So as I curate this collection of products WORTH trying, I hope these reviews will also guide and help you to learn of some beauty products that might be best to avoid.


In most of my reviews, if a product didn't work for me personally, I'll explain why it didn't and maybe recommend it for others with a different skin type that might actually love it. But the items I'll be sharing with you today fall in the category where I just can't, with a clean conscience, recommend it. I hope these brands won't be offended. For many of these products, this single item that I don't recommend is the exception to my high opinion of these brands, their missions, and their wonderful cosmetic and skincare collections. And if these companies do happen upon this post, I hope they'll value an honest opinion of a skincare and beauty enthusiast!

Here we go. Let's take a look!

1.


BUY THIS: Alima Pure's Satin Matte Foundation [$28]
NOT THAT: bareMinerals Foundation  [$30]


I used bareMinerals pressed powder foundation for over seven years thinking that it was a safe and "clean." They sure advertise to give an appearance that their products are good-for-you and natural - "Formulated with 90% vitamins and minerals" & "Formulated without parabens, binders or fillers."

But in reading the bareMinerals ingredient list, the first one listed is "Talc" and second is "Silica" with a whole string of mysterious and hard to read compounds that I won't go into today. Talc is toxic, is linked to certain cancers with risks of being contaminated with asbestos, and exposure to silica in powder form can lead to fatal illnesses.

For the same price, and with only five ingredients - Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide, and Iron Oxides - Alima Pure's Satin Matte foundation has one of the safest ratings on EWG. 100% natural and entirely mineral based, its hypoallergenic ingredients are free of fragrance, parabens, sulfates and synthetic dyes.


2.

This shimmer oil is so pretty! but... is it worth it?


BUY THIS: Any non or semi-comedogenic oil [sesame, argon, jojoba, olive, grapeseed]
NOT THAT: Beautycounter's Glow Shimmer Oil [$35 for 1.7 fl.oz]


This recommendation is primarily for price reasons and I'm not saying that Beautycounter's Glow Shimmer Oil is a bad product. I think the Shimmer Oil is nice and does give a pretty glow. I'm not hugely fond of the fact that it rubs off and leaves a glittery substance all over my clothes but I do think it might have some hydrating qualities that would be good for your skin.

With that being said, It didn't make me look more bronzed [as it says it would on Beautycounter's website], the mix of its base oils are not organic, and they are actually very easily attainable at a much lower price point if you were to blend it yourself. It has jojoba, grape-seed and sesame oils and I can honestly say that I've been getting the same kind of "glow" with 3 separate organic bottles of those oils for half the price that the Glow Shimmer Oil sells for.

3.


BUY THIS: Bristol & Sussex facial cleanser [$25]
NOT THAT: EvenHealy Rose Cleansing Milk [$32.50 for 4 fl.oz]


I highly appreciate EvenHealy, the woman and company, for paving the way for green and all natural skin care. I've tried their Rose Face Care Set and I do enjoy elements of each product and I do think their skin care collections are worth a try. But, this milk cleanser never left my face feeling... clean! Instead it left a film of oil that would not wash off so I had to either go in with another cleanser or try to wipe the oil off with a toner.

On the other hand, Bristol & Sussex's facial cleanser uses a mild and natural surfactant - a tested safe, biodegradable, and effective cleansing chemical. But its formula also balances it with a blend of aloe vera, vitamin B, C and E, cold-pressed oils [argan, jojoba, castor, rosehip...] and essential oils [lavender, chamomile, and rosemary] to nourish the skin during the cleansing process. I'm finding that this product is a good balance of both worlds and my face feels clean and hydrated after a wash.

4.


BUY THIS: Goddess Garden Organic Everyday Sunscreen Lotion [$13 for 3.4 oz]
NOT THAT: Goddess Garden Organic Sport Sunscreen Lotion [$15 for 3.4 oz]


If you've read Part 1 & Part 2 of my review of Goddess Garden Organic, you'll know that I admire and am fond of this company and that I faithfully and exclusively used their sunscreens this past summer. I had a chance to try a spectrum of their mineral suncreens and I recommend all of them except for their Sport formula.

I do like that the Sport sunscreen has an Sun Protective Factor of 50 and that it's fragrance free, but the formula itself is not their best. For both the SPF 50 and SPF 30 Sport Lotions, the white zinc minerals tended to separate from the oily solution and settled into my skin in blotchy patches. It took more rubbing and patience and in the end didn't blend into my skin as well as their Everyday and Facial Lotions did.

Last but not least,

5.


BUY THIS: Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner [$10 for 12 fl.oz]
NOT THAT: Beautycounter's Rosewater Mist [$36 for 1.6 fl.oz]


Would you pay almost $40 for a mixture of botanically infused water and some rubbing alcohol? Beautycounter's Rosewater Mist is exactly that in a beautifully packaged glass bottle.

Alcohol has been a popular ingredient in toners because of its astringent and antibacterial properties. But it can strip your skin of the good oils, leaving the skin dry, unbalanced, and reactive. Especially for people with oily skin, using alcohol may leave you feeling clean and matte at first but your skin will overcompensate and produce more oil, making you look oilier as the day goes on, not to mention potential breakouts and enlarged pores.

I prefer Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner because it's 100% natural, uses witch hazel instead of alcohol, and is 20 times less expensive than Beautycounter's Mist. The one I have pictured doesn't have the misting top, but you can find a version of the Thayers toner that does come with a misting apparatus.















All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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September 9, 2018

An All Natural Way to Relieve Aches and Pains - High Sierra's Organic Hemp Oil Muscle Rub


If you knew me from Juilliard, you'll remember me as the dancer slathering on lotion at every free moment to massage my feet and ankles - sometimes even in the middle of academic classes. [haha] Dealing with acute back pain and ankle stiffness during my entire dancing career, topical pain relievers, trips to the acupuncturist and chiropractor has been a part of my life since as young as I can remember. Name the top 10 pain relieving muscle rubs in the mainstream market and I've probably already tried them - twice.

But in all seriousness, in 2007 during the height of MY personal topical pain reliving usage, a talented high school athlete died from overdosing on a synthetically produced anti-inflammatory found in BenGay, Icy Hot, Tiger balm, Salonpas... [the list goes on] Not to mention that even used in small, safe amounts, sports creams are still acutely toxic and not recommend for children, those who are pregnant or breastfeeding - warning signs.


Since then, I've looked for natural ways to condition my body for optimal performance, to prevent injuries, and relieve pain - from arnica gel, epsom salt baths, acupuncture and massage therapy, to mindfully stretching, and eating a healthy diet. 

Speaking of natural, High Sierra is a local company based in Lakewood, SoCal [an hour drive from where I grew up!] and they specialize in organic muscle rubs to aid aches and pains. Their Organic Hemp Oil Muscle Rub is formulated with all natural ingredients plainly listed, free of toxins and chemicals, made in small batches to ensure freshness, and packaged in the USA. They are an animal loving, cruelty-free company, donating to dog rescues each month, and their logo features Sierra, their adorably white and fuzzy Berger Blanc Suisse!

Made with Ingredients you can read - Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Shea Butter, Menthol, Beeswax, Tea Tree, Lavender, and Eucalyptus Essential Oils.

Essential oils have been long used for medicinal purposes for their anti-inflammatory properties and as a mild pain reliever. In this rub, the menthol, tea tree, lavender and eucalyptus oils are blended together to relax muscles and to bring relief to sore and tight muscles. Among all the topical creams I've used in the past, I would say that this balm - in its texture, smell, application, and performance - reminds me most of Tiger Balm, which also uses mostly natural ingredients and Chinese essential oils to bring temporary relief.

High Sierra's Organic Hemp Oil Muscle Rub, paired with strategic icing/heating, manual massaging, and using a foam roller, gave mild relief to my sore muscles.

I'm not a medical doctor and I'm not in any way saying that one particular product or therapy will miraculously bring healing - especially if you're dealing with pain that is associated with a chronic injury or with bone structure. And I wouldn't say that this balm took away my joint and back pains or healed my ailments, but it did lessen muscular aches and quickened recovery time so that I could be on my feet ready to dance the next day.

My self care routine typically involves rolling out and a good muscle rub down before and after classes/rehearsal - and this balm in tin form is super portable and easy to carry around in my dance bag. Taking a little bit of the balm and using the salve to deeply massage my particularly stiff areas - ankles, knees and back - before class gets my circulation flowing - especially helpful for early morning rehearsals. And after class - after cooling down with some stretches and rolling out with my favorite roller - the nut/seed oils in the formula make it easy to gently manipulate and massage soft tissues to reduce muscle tension, promote circulation, and maintain suppleness in my ankles, calves and knees.


With that being said, retailing at $40 for a 2oz tin, this all natural balm can seem a bit expensive in comparison to conventional muscle relievers found at your local pharmacy. So I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's worth a try. But personally, this balm has been a good aid in my daily self-therapy and I'll continue to happily use it until it runs out. Perhaps I would be interested in trying their CBD oil rub next!

*Thank you to High Sierra Brand for providing the Hemp Oil Muscle Rub for this review.



All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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