November 29, 2018

What Not To Do – PART I – Interchanging Daytime & Evening Products

Hello Friends!

I'll be publishing a series of posts addressing some basic information on how to correctly and safely get the most out of your skin care products.

Not to scare you but...

making one simple yet uninformed mistake can damage your skin permanently! I hope these short and sweet articles will equip you with the basic knowledge to help you avoid these simple yet irreversible blunders.


Would you ever put on sunscreen in the evening, just before going to bed? That would be silly, right?

There are good and specific reasons for why some products are recommended for either morning or evening application. And, you may have noticed that many skin care companies will offer a separate daytime moisturizer/serum and evening set. Even for products that aren't specifically labeled for morning or evening wear, it might be good to decipher for yourself [with wisdom gained from reliable external sources] into which category your product falls. 

For instance, some daytime products are formulated specifically to lay down a protective barrier to shield your skin from harmful environmental agents like sun and pollution. While some evening products are composed of ingredients that are not compatible with the sun – this is where it becomes dangerous. 

Generally speaking, anything with citrus, juices of certain plants, and several essential oils should be avoided in the morning because of its potential to harm the skin with sun exposure.

"Phytophotodermatitis is a phototoxic reaction which is caused by contact with photosensitizing substances (e.g., psoralens, furocoumarins) present in plants and subsequent exposure to sunlight. Among many plants that can cause phytophotodermatitis, celery is known as the most common causative plant followed by citrus fruits, such as lime, lemon and grapefruit." [The Korean Dermatological Association and The Korean Society for Investigative Dermatology]


DON'T PANIC but do make the proper changes to your skin care routine.

KNOW AND RESEARCH YOUR INGREDIENTS – Even if a skin care company markets something as "clean" or "safe," really know what you're putting on your face, by checking for yourself the safety of your skin care products.

DON'T MIX SUN & CITRUS – Avoid all products with citrus oils in them if you know you'll be exposed to any kind of sunlight [sunlight streaming through windows counts too] and set those products aside for your evening routine.

WEAR SPF – prevent further damage by wearing sunscreen everyday – even on cloudy days and for all seasons, Winter and Spring included.


Citrus oils are an essential part of my everyday evening routine. They're a great, natural resource for skin brightening and a source of antioxidants to slow down signs of aging. "Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can neutralise and remove oxidants, such as those found in environmental pollutants and after exposure to ultraviolet radiation." [] But these powerfully potent tools need to be used with wisdom and with a grain of salt.

If you've never thought of this before, I hope this article piques your curiosity to know what's in your skin care products and to help you think about the protection and longevity of your skin's health.

Check back soon to read PART II – All About Facial Oils – of the"What Not To Do" series!

Wishing you a BEAUTY-Full Day!



Here are a couple interesting reads on the relationship between citrus fruits and sun sensitivity:

What You Need to Know About Phototoxic Essential Oils – There's An EO For That Blog

Asymptomatic Hyperpigmentation without Preceding Inflammation as a Clinical Feature of Citrus Fruits-Induced Phytophotodermatitis – 2018 The Korean Dermatological Association and The Korean Society for Investigative Dermatology

Lime-Induced Phytophotodermatitis – Dr. Andrew Hankinson, article from NCBI

Phytophotodermatitis: When plants and light affect the skin – Medical News Today

Ouch! Lemons and other plants can cause a special sunburn: They contain chemicals that, when activated by the sun, kill skin cells – Science News for Students

All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography

November 23, 2018

A'del Natural Cosmetics – Lipstick and Eyeshadow Swatches

Hi Friends!

Sharing A'del Natural Cosmetic's Loose Eyeshadows and Lipsticks today that I've been playing around with since early Autumn. All of their cosmetic products are formulated with safe and clean ingredients, created by hand in small batches, and apply silky smooth for a beautiful eye and lip enhancing effect.


My Favorite Color: Dusk– "Soft Shimmery Light Tan" – is my everyday eyeshadow. It applies on my skin, color wise, as a barely there, peachy tan. I especially love mixing this in with my foundation and blush for a radiant glow. This one works well as an all–over–the–eyelid base.

All of A'dels eyeshadows are beautiful when on and highly pigmented. A tiny bit goes a long way. If you've tried Alima Pure's Luminous Shimmer Eyeshadows, these from A'del are very similar in application experience. It applies silky, blends well with little fallout. Also, [if you're adventurous like me] to evoke a punk–like, almost metallic effect, you can mix these eyeshadows with a little water for a fun punch of color! 

Ingredients: Mica, Iron Oxides

from left to right – Brown Sugar, Autumn, Butterscotch, Dusk


These shades from A'del's lipstick collection make me think of jewels for the lips. These colors are so pretty and whimsical, I wish I could wear all six everyday! 

from left to right – Nude, Barely There, Raisin, Deep, Berry, Cherry Pop

My Favorite Color: Cherry Pop and Nude – Nude is definitely the most utilized lipstick out of the bunch, on a day–to–day basis. It's very similar to the natural color of my lips but slightly more pigmented – a "nude pink"– perfect for everyday. Cherry Pop [the one at the far right in the swatch above] is such a dazzling color. I pair this with subtle eyebrows and black liquid eyeliner for a runway look.

Ingredients: Certified Organic Castor Oil, Certified Organic Jojoba Oil, Certified Organic Beeswax, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Certified Organic Carnauba Wax, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Vitamin E Oil (gluten free), May Contain: Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Carmine, Iron Oxides 77491, 77492 or 77499.


I recently added some lovely cream blushers to my A'del makeup collection! These are essential for wintertime when your cheeks could use a hint of rose without the powdery/dry finish you might get from powder products. These are also toxic–free, talc–free and moisturizing for the skin! I'll be sharing about these very soon so come on back and check them out in the next couple weeks.

Wishing you a BEAUTY-FULL Day!


Also, If you're curious about A'del's 100% natural skin care collection – 

All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography


November 21, 2018

Drawn from Nature – Book Detail

Where do you draw your inspiration? 

Artist, Joseph Prestele [1796–1867], has preserved flora in a way that captures his delight of them for us to enjoy – even 200 years since his work's inception. 

I was immediately attracted to Prestele's delicate care for each illustration and the excellence and expertise of his lithography. He gives each plant dignity and new life – the beauty shines through.

Each engraved illustration is as striking and beautiful as the next. As I flip through, page by page, I imagine the sweet fragrance of flowers, sunlight piercing though branches and illuminating the leaves, the cool air of spring, and the textures – soft, delicate petals and barely there buds – it overwhelms my senses and gives me pleasure. 

"...the flowers, fruits, and trees they portrayed with such loving care will always give pleasure, for they recall the fresh beauty of America's springtime." – Charles Van Ravenswaay

Photographs of pages captured from
 Drawn from Nature: The Botanical Art of Joseph Prestele and His Sons
Curated by Charles Van Ravenswaay 
Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington , D.C., 1984


November 18, 2018

L'uvalla's 100% Natural & Holistic Skin Care – "Sustainable from Seed to Shelf"

Hi Friends!

I'm excited to introduce to you a skin care brand that is holistic from the ground up – L'uvalla!

Pronounced loo–VA– la, a name that includes the phrase "love luv all," L'uvalla takes seriously their contribution and role of responsible entrepreneurship on a global scale –

INGREDIENTS WITH INTEGRITY – products formulated with 100% natural, pure, and wholesome ingredients & their transparency and integrity in labeling

ECONOMY & SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY – conscious of the impact of the brand's economic choices by practicing fair trade in developing countries and providing fair wages for their workers

ENVIRONMENTALISM – making decisions that protect and benefit mother nature and her creatures, great and small – through organic farming, using recyclable materials, being vegan and cruelty free, and toxin–free.

CERTIFIED NATURAL/ORGANIC – certified by CosmeBIO, 99% of the plant ingredients of L'uvalla's products are derived from organic agriculture, and 12–13% of the total product organic "with water and mineral or mineral-based ingredients considered as non-organic because they are not derived from a life form"[CosmoBIO].

Not only is L'uvalla making changes for the better, globally, they offer a skin care routine that encourages holistic health and well–being for the individual. I've had the pleasure of trying out two products from their collection – the Balancing Day/Night Cream & the Milk Cleanser. Let's take a look!

"...we are dedicated to ensuring that every step of the process has a big impact on the improvement of social and economic status and a minimal impact on our environment. Small decisions we make, such as using soy-based ink, water-soluble corn-based peanuts, recycled paper and printing only when necessary, may seem insignificant, but it is the sum of the whole that truly matters. When we all do our part, the good of the collective is magnified. This is the only planet we have and it’s up to us to lead by example, make responsible choices and pass along the values to the next generation."  L'uvalla


The Balancing Day/Night Cream is a lightweight face lotion intended to be suitable for all skin types – normal, combination, and oily. It's a simple and fuss-free way to moisturize the face. Once rubbed in, this emulsion leaves my face feeling moist and moisturized, yet still a bit matte – a perfect primer for sunscreen and makeup in the morning and to apply before facial oil in the evenings.

Several other brands I've tried either are clean [non–toxic] but not green [100% natural], or the all–natural emulsions seem a bit too thick for daily/everyday use. This one – thinking of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – is "just right" – rich enough to nourish but lightweight and absorbs quickly for everyday use.

ACNE – I have pretty hardy and happy skin. And I don't usually deal with many breakouts. But in the rare occasion that I do have a pesky pimple or two, I immediately switch over to using L'uvalla's Balancing Cream. Why? Because I'm finding that I can rely on this lotion to help re–balance my skin quickly – providing the right amount of oils to nourish my naturally dry skin, without overbearing it with too much heaviness or oiliness – and to naturally heal and disinfect those breakout abrasions with the antiseptic ingredients in its formula.

ANTI–AGING – Also, if you are around my age or older and are looking for products that will help prevent or reduce signs of aging, the carrier oils in this emulsion [hazel seed oil, palm oil, and argan oil] are packed with fatty acids and vitamin E, and are excellent at retaining moisture on your skin – important components in effective anti–aging treatments.

AROMATHERAPY – The natural fragrance and its therapeutic effects alone will set this cream apart from many face lotions you'll find in the marketplace. It smells herbal–y and woodsy, with notes of something citrus–y, and thyme, rosemary and lavender. Using this cream as a means of aromatherapy – "the therapeutic use of essential oils extracted from plants" [Mayo Clinic] – might even be beneficial for physical and mental health. Personally, for me, the distinctive woodsy aroma of the Balancing Cream helps me feel mentally grounded yet a slightly camphorous element revives me physically and makes me feel refreshed and awakened – like a morning walk though a forest of pine trees. [Here's a quick and informative article on aromatherapy if you're interested]

Ingredients: Water, Cetearyl Alcohol (plant fatty natural) Lavender Flower Water*, Hazel Seed Oil*, Palm Kernel Oil*, Argan Kernel Oil*, Cetearyl Glucoside, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Thyme Flower/Leaf Oil*, Lotus Flower Extract, Lavender Herb Oil*, Lavender Oil*, Lemon Peel Oil*, Rosemary Leaf Oil*, Sweet Marjoram Flower Oil*, Clove Bud Oil*, Cypress Oil*, Bitter Orange Leaf/Twig Oil*, Cinnamon Bark Oil*, Olibanum Resin Extract, Palmarosa Oil*, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid.


DO MILK CLEANSERS ACTUALLY WORK? – In the very beginning of my journey to clean beauty I had two consecutive bad experiences with milk cleansers. Instead of leaving my face clean and prepped for moisturizing, those two [ahem] left my face feeling oilier than I had started with. In the end, I had to wash the milk cleanser off with a foaming one and was convinced that milk cleaners would never be a good fit for me.

Until … I met L’uvalla’s Milk Cleanser!

GENTLE & EFFECTIVE – This cleanser completely removes makeup and impurities gently and effectively in one shot without leaving an oily residue – leaving my face clean, soft, prepped after each wash. No need for harsh make–up remover wipes, synthetic cold creams, or even all–natural cleansing oils – this product is a hassle free, one–stop–shop for all of your cleansing needs.

MY ADVICE TO YOU – If I could leave you with a tip on how to get the most out of this cleanser, I'd say, this one requires a little bit of massaging. The circular rubbing action of this creamy, lotion–like cleanser on a dry face will help dislodge dirt and makeup from your pores while the further massaging while rinsing it off with water will also help wash the cleanser off completely.

If you'd like to learn how to use a milk cleanser and how a milk cleanser compares to a cleansing oil as a part of the double cleansing method, check out my Idiot's Guide to Cleansers – HERE!

LET'S TALK INGREDIENTS – When a product works this well, and especially if it's all–natural, the first thought that usually comes to my mind is – "what is in this thing?!" Well, it turns out that not only does this product work to remove the bad stuff [like dirt and excess sebum] from your skin , it also infuses and benefits your skin with nourishing ingredients – all at the same time! It's got a couple oils [sunflower, coconut, palm kernel] to help dislodge the impurities, some plant based emulsifiers and thickening agents [Cetearyl Alcohol Cetearyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum] for texture, and finally a blend of powerful botanical extracts and oils [lotus flower extract, orange peel oil, lavandin oil, ginseng root extract, etc].

Ingredients: Water, Sunflower Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol (plant fatty natural), Cocamidopropyl Betaine (Coconut Oil & Palm Kernel Oil), Hazel Seed Oil, Cetearyl Glucoside, Xanthan Gum, Lotus Flower Extract, Orange Peel Oil, Lavandin Oil, Palmarosa Oil, Matricaria Flower Extract, Meadowsweet Flower Extract, Passionflower Flower Extract, Ginseng Root Extract.


As we close, I'll briefly mention the cost for both these products. The Balancing Cream retails for $49 for a 1.4 oz. tube and the Milk Cleanser for $28 for a 3.4 oz. tube. I'm guessing your reaction might be something like "ouch," thinking of the dent this purchase will leave in your wallet. But take it from me, if you're looking for an entirely natural face cream or cleanser that actually works, these are at a reasonable price point in the current marketplace, and they might just be my favorite all–natural moisturizer and milk cleansers that I've yet had a chance to try.

So, if you are a Keep–It–Simple kind of person and only use a cleanser and moisturizer as your skin care regimen, this all–natural duo might be worth looking into.

Happy Thanksgiving and have a BEAUTY-FULL Day!


*The Balancing Cream and Milk Cleanser were gifted by L'uvalla for an honest review.

All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography

November 14, 2018

Goodbeing's November Natural Beauty Box Reveal

“life [is] like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.” – Forrest Gump, 1994

UPDATE [5.29.2019] – The Goodbeing Box as a monthly subscription has been discontinued since April 2019. Although this subscription box is no longer being offered, the products from this month's box are still available in the clean beauty marketplace. I hope you enjoy these photos and reviews!

Hi Friends!

I thought I would share something lighthearted and fun with ya'll – a beauty subscription box reveal! I don't know if you enjoy the experience of subscription boxes as I do but there's something special about getting something in the snail-mail with a box full of curious goodies.

What sets Goodbeing apart from other subscription boxes is that, one, you get a chance to personalize and select a couple items that you want in your upcoming box, and second, you can trust that all the items you receive are mainly clean, green, and eco–friendly. Inside each box, you receive 4–5 items [some are full sizes, and most are sample sizes] with a retail value of $45–$65. But the good news is that for us it only costs $25 per box to experience a wide range of indie to established brands with a good variety of beauty products and tools. 

Sounds like a deal, right? But is it worth it- you ask? Hopefully, through this post, you'll get a sense of the kinds of products that you might be signing up for. 

*BTW, my box arrived a couple weeks late so Goodbeing threw in a bonus item and my box had 6 products this month – just in case you were wondering. [wink]

Here are the products that came in my box this month! 

Boho Gold's Hydrating Cacao Mocha Mask

Such a pretty label design, don't you think? 

I love masks. In all of skin care, masking for me feels the most pampering. Mainly because most other products and skin care steps I feel are mandatory – things I have to use and do to maintain my skin's health – whereas masks are [in my mind] supplementary. It's a treat to be able to set aside 15–20min for a calming and soothing masking session – like lighting a candle and sipping on wine during a relaxing bath. 

I'd hate to start off on a not–so–bright note, but this mask by Boho Gold was... okay. I have yet to experience its "Hydrating" benefits as it's named but I was able to use it to clarify and exfoliate my skin though the masking process. 

I do like the way that it smells – like a mellow, freshly brewed coffee with a sweet chocolate finish. But I think Boho Gold could have gone a step further to make the experience of masking a bit more pleasant. What I mean is – it simply did its job and performed its task without much elegance or finesse.

Most of the masks that I'm currently enjoying in my skin care routine – those with similar ingredients to this one – mask [or help hide] the fact that when you're masking, you're pretty much putting glorified dirt on the face for its many benefits. This one made me feel like I was literally putting globs of mud on my face. I tried it with different ratios of water to thin it out, with honey and yogurt, to no avail.

Ingredients: Bentonite Clay, Cacao Powder, Coffee Grounds

Wyld's French Pink Clay Konjac Sponge

Moving along to something very prettily pink and helpful for clear skin – Wyld's French Pink Clay Konjac Sponge. If you've never used a konjac sponge before, you might be thinking - what is this thing?! These have been a big hit in the beauty community and once you know what they are, you might recognize them in many of your local stores – they're everywhere. 

Made with 100% natural Konjac root [a porous plant found in Asia], this one by Wyld is infused with French pink clay to gently cleanse your pores and exfoliate off dry/dead/flaky skin. A konjac sponge is not the only method to exfoliate out there, but it is one of many ways that may help prevent acne and breakouts. We all know acne is dependent on variety of things [environment, stress, hormone levels, diet, genetics, mismatched skin care products etc etc] but when there's a buildup of dead skin on your epidermis, it can cause oil and dirt to get caught underneath that layer and become red and inflamed – a pimple.

I use this pink one for my face and a larger charcoal one for my body from Puresol! A konjac sponge needs to be replaced after about 6 weeks so I'm using this every evening to try to get the most out of it before it expires!

Juice Beauty's Luminous Lip Crayon in Malibu

You all know that I enjoy having fun with lip color and, to no surprise, I was most excited about discovering this item in this month's Goodbeing box! This Lip Crayon by Juice Beauty has been living in my purse and going everywhere with me on my lips to finish my everyday, natural, no makeup–makeup look.

Something I appreciate about this Lip Crayon its unique concept and design. The tip is designed to be the perfect marriage between a conventional lipstick head and lip–liner, allowing you to apply the color with precision especially around the edges. I'm finding that I don't ever need a lip–liner when using this Lip Crayon. And also this formula is a bit more dry than creamy, which lends itself to a more adhesive and smudge–proof lip application. Since it finishes matte, I'd recommend applying lip–gloss or even lip balm if you want to give your lips a more lush and plumped finish.

Malibu is a nude pink/barely there kind of color – a good balanced shade to suit both warm and cool skin undertones. Juice Beauty's Lip Crayons come in eight other beautiful shades and I hope I'll get a chance to try and swatch them for you in the future!

Juice Beauty's Green Apple Cleansing Bar

Can you tell that I've been getting a lot of use out of this little guy by how small the bar's gotten in just 2 weeks?

Juice Beauty's Green Apple Cleansing Bar is made from almost all natural and safe ingredients [only exception being sodium hydroxide – EWG rating of 3–4]. It's an effective cleanser that gets the job done without leaving you feeling gunky [like there's a layer of surfactant or detergent left on your skin]. This bar resides in my shower as I use this primary for washing my body. It suds surprisingly well and smells pleasantly like subtle citrus. Fingers crossed that this sample size will hopefully last me another two weeks or so!

Simplified List of Ingredients: organic extra virgin olive oil*, organic aloe juice*, organic coconut oil*, sustainably sourced organic palm oil*, sodium hydroxide, organic apple juice*, organic lemon juice*, organic white grape juice*, orange oil, mandarin oil, may chang oil, ho wood oil, Vitamin E, grape seed extract  [* = certified organic ingredient]

Sade Baron's Pro-Vitamin B5 lotion 

Similarly to Juice Beauty's Cleansing Bar, Sade Baron's Body Lotion is made almost all from natural and safe ingredients [only exception being sodium hydroxide – EWG rating of 3–4]. These days, I'm transitioning to using 100% natural, pure oils to nourish and moisturize my body rather than using lotion emulsions, but this sample size has been super handy to carry around to moisturize my hands throughout the day. And I love that I was sent the lotion without any essential oils or fragrances added – I appreciate the simplicity of the ingredients in this formula.

As photographer and dog owner, I'm constantly needing to wash my hands and then lotion them, but also needing to work with photo equipment without my hands feeling overly greasy. This one has a good balance of keeping my hands soft and supple throughout the day without leaving oily residues behind.

This body lotion is similar in tactile experience and the barely–there smell of Aveeno's unscented body lotion [but without Aveeno's mysterious list of synthetic ingredients]. If you're transitioning to cleaner beauty and are looking for a body moisturizer – this one might be worth a try.

Simplified List of Ingredients: Distilled Water, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Cocoa Seed Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Coconut

Bella Aura Skincare's Night Cellular Renewal 

To end on a good note, I also received a mini size of Bella Aura's Night Cellular Renewal in this month's Goodbeing box. And I can say that this was my favorite skincare product in the whole box. This creamy evening cream is packed with exotic botanical extracts with healing properties and antioxidants to nourish and protect the skin. This emulsion is lightweight – not thick or overbearing like some night creams – and quickly absorbs into the skin. It smells lightly woodsy with hints of florals.

The sample tube was too small to be able to say whether it showed any visible improvements on my skin, but I was impressed by how my face felt in the morning after having applied this moisturizer the evening before. It's good at sealing in the moisture from my serums and keeping my face hydrated and supple overnight. Hopefully, I'll get a chance to try some more products from Bella Aura for a longer period of time to be able to give you an update on its long–term benefits on my skin!

I just wanted to show you the perspective of how the sample size compared to my hand and a photo demonstration of how easily the cream absorbs into my skin.
Simplified List of Ingredients:Water, Argan Kernel Oil, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Jojoba Esters, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Propanediol, Prickly Pear Oil, Black Cumin)Seed Oil, Bitter Orange Flower Oil, Glutamine, Decyl Glucoside, Phenethyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Rock Rose Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Jiaogulan Leaf/Stem Extract, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, 1,2 Hexanediol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose, Citral, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool

So my final thoughts,

As you may have gathered from my reviews, there were mainly hits – products that I thought were wonderful – and a miss as well. But the hits definitely outweighed the miss. And overall, I thought, the Goodbeing subscription box was a fun way to be introduced to several new skin care companies and a great way to discover more safe and nontoxic options for my Beauty Cleanse journey. I hope that this box will be one of many!

Wishing you a BEAUTY-FULL day!


*The October Beauty Box was gifted by Goodbeing for an honest review.

All images © 2018 Grace Song Photography
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