Archive for category Green/Organic Beauty

Two more hits from Kypris Beauty: the Antioxidant Dew & the Beauty Elixir III

Several months ago, the lovely Chase Polan and her team sent along 2 products from her outstanding organic skincare line Kypris as a gift for me to enjoy. I was beyond excited to try more products from the brand, as I’d already fallen in love with the retinol alternative, Moonlight Catalyst (review here) and the newest addition to the family, the Body Elixir: Inflorescence (review here). However, I had skincare coming out of my ears at that point, and I didn’t want to open the bottles until I was ready to use them. In December, I finally had an ‘opening’ in my morning skincare routine, so I cracked open the Antioxidant Dew eagerly. Then, this month after finishing up another oil, I started applying the Beauty Elixir III in the evening as my final step, so now can talk about these products and share with you my experiences!

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The Antioxidant Dew ($67US for 47mL) is an extremely lightweight, milky serum that is designed to restore strength, vitality and radiance to skin. As the name suggests, it’s loaded with antioxidants such as ferulic acid to fight free radicals, while also soothing inflammation and hydrating the skin.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

There are many things to love about this serum: the beautifully light texture (SO perfect for layering!); how supple, calm and healthy my skin looks after use; how incredibly hydrated my skin feels with absolutely NO greasiness whatsoever. Though I generally use this sandwiched between a Vitamin C serum and a sunscreen, I’ve used alone on occasion and have felt no need for an additional layer of moisture. I also enjoy that this is free of essential oils so that all skins, reactive or otherwise, can use it without worry. Below is the ingredient list:

Water/Aqua, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Xylitylglucoside, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Algae, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Phospholipids, Phragmites Communis (Reed) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Leaf Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Poria Cocos Extract, Xylitol, Anhydroxylitol, Waltheria Indica Leaf Extract, Panthenol, Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Calophyllum Inophylum (Tamanu) Seed Oil, Lecithin, Tocopherol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Superoxide Dismutase, Ferulic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Mannitol, Dextrin, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Levulinate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Gluconate, Xanthan Gum.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew

I think the biggest selling point for me is that I can wear this serum in the day – as many organic treatment products are oil-heavy, I find they can leave my skin a touch too shiny (though I suspect for the more dry-skinned out there that this isn’t a problem). I love that I can pair this with other products without feeling weighed down or suffocated. So beautiful!

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

The Beauty Elixir III – Prismatic Array ($150US for 47mL) is a face oil that is filled with actives like CoQ10 (antioxidant) and Vitamin C ester (boosts collagen), as well as phytonutrients and essential fatty acids, all without essential oils to accommodate especially sensitive complexions (like mine!). It’s designed to help repair signs of environmental stressors as well as softening, nourishing and moisturizing skin so it looks more luminous.

This oil is extremely nourishing – you can tell as soon as you press it into the skin that you’re getting a treat. It’s rich amber color gives it away, anyway! This is packed with awesome oils like grape seed, baobab, kukui nut, tamanu, pumpkin seed and prickly pear (aka barbary fig seed), as well as black raspberry seed and cranberry seed. So much goodness! I apply this at night as my last step over a peptide serum and it gives me the best glow. In the morning, I wake up with plump-looking, soft skin that doesn’t feel greasy (though I do avoid using this around my nose where I get the most oily). While I love oils, I don’t always find I notice their effects in the same way as a serum – the biggest factors in whether or not I will repurchase one are: Does it irritate my skin? (Nope.)  Does it have long-lasting hydration? (Yep.)  If it’s a blend, does it contain many of my favourite skincare oils? (Yep!). Check, check and CHECK.

Even though there are no essential oils in this mixture, I also love the way it smells! Like the best blend of natural oils with a hint of sweetness. It’s not your typical ‘earthy’ scent; you know, the kind that isn’t offensive exactly but it smells like dirt and trees and herbs? This is nothing like that – maybe it’s the inclusion of coconut oil. Which, while we’re on the topic, I was very nervous about (it’s why I hadn’t ordered this myself previously), but this serum hasn’t been a problem for my skin in the least, happily!

Les ingrédients:

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower Seed) Oil, Cocos nucifera (Virgin Coconut) Oil, Vitis vinifera (Grape Seed) Oil, Adansonia digitata (baobab) Oil, Aleurites moloccans (Kukui) Oil, Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil, Curcubita pepo (Pumpkin Seed) Oil, Ubiquinone (CoQ10), Opuntia engelmannii (Prickly Pear Seed) Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Extract, Hippophae rhamonides (Seabuckthorn Bearry) Extract, Punica granatum (Pomegranate Seed) Extract, Rubus occidentalis (Black Raspberry Seed) Oil, Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry Seed) Oil, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate (From Licorice), Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (Vitamin C Ester), Non- GMO Mixed Tocopherols.

Kypris Beauty Elixir III

Clearly, I need to add these 2 fantastic products to my regular roster. There are just so many things to like about them, and about Kypris in general – Chase seems to be one of the loveliest people (she always sends hand-written, personalized notes with her packages); they consistently use one of my favourite oils, tamanu, in their formulations; and I appreciate their ethos on so many levels (some of which I talked about here). And, a newly important factor for me is that they’re cruelty free!

Though I do try and avoid essential oils when I can, the other 2 Beauty Elixirs (versions I & II) sound so appealing; I’ve never really tried any products where rose oil was a predominant feature (as it is in the Beauty Elixir I) so I think that’s next on my list! I will mention that though the Elixirs feel a bit cost prohibitive (upwards of $150US), you do get more bang for your buck as general oil blends are only 30mL – and I just discovered that they offer seasonal pairings on the site which give you a discounted price (for example, right now you can get the full sizes of the Beauty Elixir I and the Antioxidant Dew for $265US, which would normally cost you $292US). And recently I heard a tip from Sugar Mamma that resonated with me – if you truly love something, you won’t mind paying full price. I have a habit of sometimes trying to find alternatives for items that I love, and always feeling dissatisfied (and sometimes spending more in the process!). Don’t do it! Of course, you don’t know if you love something before trying it, so Kypris kindly offers ‘mini’ sizes of their products for a fraction of the price 🙂

Have you tried Kypris products before? 

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Skincare Heros: My current routine and fave products

Do you remember when Elena was first born and I complained about barely being able to shower, let alone take care of my skin? It feels like forever ago that I was struggling to take care of myself in any way, shape or form; thankfully, those days are (mostly) past and though I don’t have much time for myself, I have made a point to dedicate some time every morning and evening toward my skin. In fact, I think I’ve never treated my skin better! I think the combination of products along with maintaining a solid routine has made all the difference. Lately I’ve been placing a heavy emphasis on brightening products that help even out the skin tone, and tailoring my application according to what my skin needs in specific areas. This AM I looked in the mirror and was like ‘DA-AMN girl, your skin looks good!’ …So I figured I should share with you my skincare ‘secrets’ 🙂 Here’s what my routine looks like, morning and night:

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MORNING

Cleanse with NUDE Perfect Cleanse Clarifying Cleansing Oil ($45CAD). The reason I picked up this cleanser in the first place was because it contains grapeseed oil as the 2nd ingredient, which is great for oilier / clog-prone skin as it’s high in linoleic acid (see my post on skincare oils and their compositions here). I’ve been searching for a grapeseed oil-heavy oil cleanser but they’re hard to come by for some reason, so when this came on the market a few months ago I snapped it up ASAP. Happily, it was a great purchase as I absolutely love it. It doesn’t contain a host of fragrance or essential oils to potentially irritate my skin (which it doesn’t), and it cleanses beautifully without drying my skin out at all. Though you can use it as a first cleanse to remove makeup etc., I actually use it as my morning cleanser on it’s own as I want my skin to benefit from the good oils and ingredients, rather than washing them away in a second cleanse. It’s a perfect beginning step to prep and protect my skin for the colder weather outside. I’ll be repurchasing it without hesitation.

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Tone with Algenist Hydrating Essence Toner ($30CAD). Because I am a beauty junkie, I’m susceptible to any new fad on the market, and I became determined to find and use an ‘essence – essentially a hybrid between a toner and serum, and which is used in between those two steps. Algenist’s Essence Toner has high rating on both Sephora and Paula’s Choice (though I don’t think she knows it ALL, I do appreciate the research done on that site and use it to cross-reference product research often), AND it’s affordable for a high-end brand, so I picked it up back in October. I can’t tell for sure how hydrating it is, as my skin isn’t particularly parched, but I do prefer to keep my skin as moist as I can anyway (seems to keep me from over-producing sebum) with lightweight products, and this can be used all over my face, even in my sensitive areas like around my mouth, without any issues at all. That in itself makes this a total winner in my books!

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Treating Mist. I was kindly sent the Normalizing Travel Kit ($42CAD), among a couple other products, from G.M. Collin and I was so keen to try them out once they arrived. Having mostly normal skin with some oiliness in the t-zone, the Normalizing kit is perfect for me as helps keep skin balanced. The Treating Mist is designed to enhance the effectiveness of your other skincare, much like other facial mists, and leaves skin with a matte finish. I spray this on my t-zone only after using the Algenist Toner and it really does keep that area less shiny throughout the day. The nozzle is a bit powerful so I make sure to spray it about a foot away from my face to get a more even misting.

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour ($96CAD). I was most eager to try out this eye treatment from G.M. Collin as it’s been on my wishlist for years now, but I could never bring myself to buy it. It gets amazing reviews and is purported to reduce the appearance of dark circles, expression lines and wrinkles, and is de-puffing. I’ve only been using it for about 2-3 weeks now, so I can’t report major changes to my undereye area just yet, but I do find that it looks smoother and incredibly hydrated, and I feel like I’m less concerned about my perpetual darkness. The texture is PERFECT, thick enough to be hydrating but not at all greasy or heavy, and it absorbs extremely well and quickly so it works fantastically under eye makeup. My concealer has never looked better or more natural.

derma e Evenly Radiant Brightening Serum w/Vitamin C (see full review) ($39.99CADnow on sale at Well.ca for $29.99!). Still totally digging this serum! It is the perfect consistency – more like a gel than a silicone-heavy serum, so it feels lovely and lightweight and I am entirely comfortable layering additional product over it. It really does help lighten any dark spots and even out my skintone, and as a bonus it contains niacinamide to also protect my skin from environmental aggressors. I love this stuff!

Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion SPF 30 ($15.49CAD). After searching high and low all summer for the Neutrogena Pure & Free liquid that sound right up my alley, I scoured the drugstore aisles at Shoppers for another facial sunscreen alternative that wouldn’t break the bank (the higher the cost, the more I want to skimp on application, and that’s counter-productive, no?). I ended up choosing this SPF lotion from Eucerin as it contained physical ‘screens (my preference) as well as chemical. I was a bit wary as some chemical sunscreens aren’t friendly to my sensitive skin, but I’ve had zero issues with this – in fact, I actually think it might be the best facial sunscreen I’ve ever used on my skin! It leaves my skin looking moisturized and with a lovely, healthy glow, minus ANY shine or greasy effect. Though it’s of medium viscosity, it blends in easily and absorbs quickly. Fragrance free with an SPF of 30, at a totally great price point…you kind of can’t go wrong with this.

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EVENING

G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Mild Cleansing Gel. Another step in the Normalizing Kit, I use this gel as my second cleanse after oil cleansing (currently I’m trying to finish a bottle of pure Pumpkin Seed oil). I am surprised at how much I enjoy using this – I’m not one for gel and/or foaming cleansers, as they often leave me feeling drier than I’d like; this, however, truly IS mild as I feel absolutely NO tightness after use and my skin feels incredibly soft. Definitely the nicest gel cleanser I’ve tried!

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Joe Fresh Refresh Facial Toner ($12CAD). I picked this up on a whim when I needed a new facial mist/toner-type product, and I fell for the clean, classic packaging of the Joe Fresh skincare line. Honestly, I’m not a total beauty snob, I just like great packaging – if something is cheap but looks luxe, I’m all for it! On top of the fabulous bottle, the product itself is great – the ingredients are simple (such as glycerin, aloe and green tea & cucumber extracts) and it’s effective at toning my skin in an incredibly soothing way. I will be buying this again and again, no question.

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G.M. Collin Oxygen Puractive+ Cream. The final step in the Normalizing Kit, this cream is formulated to purify and hydrate the skin while also refining it’s texture. As it’s essentially winter now, I only use this in my t-zone as that is my ‘trouble’ area, and so far it’s been doing a great job at refining the pores on my nose and inner cheeks. This would make an excellent moisturizer for someone looking for a product to mattify and keep any oiliness or large pores in check.

Kahina Giving Beauty Brightening Serum ($95CAD). I’d read a review on No More Dirty Looks awhile back saying this was excellent at evening out the skintone and ever since it’s been on my radar. When it popped up on Petal & Post months ago at a  considerable sale discount – down to something like $54! – I scooped it up, even though I was flush with other brightening products (I’m kind of obsessed). After using up another serum, it was time to give this a shot, and I am beyond pleased at the results – aside from making my skin feel baby soft upon waking in the AM, it truly has evened out my skin significantly; it’s the best it’s looked in years. I rarely wear foundation now as it’s just an extra, unnecessary step and I feel I look a lot better without it, truth be told. This is another *repurchase* product for sure (buuuuut…maybe when it’s on sale, yea?).

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G.M. Collin Bota-Peptide Eye Contour. Lather, rinse, repeat. I use this day and night 🙂

There are a few other products I didn’t mention (namely, a face oil that I add to my sunscreen if it’s particularly chilly out; a hydrating mask and a purifying mask I use when needed; and two different exfoliants, one manual, one chemical) – mostly because, as much as they seem to be working for me, they’re aren’t game-changers in my books and I’ll probably replace them with something new when the time comes. Otherwise though, this is it – and I gotta say, I can’t remember a time when there were so many products in my arsenal that I plan to repurchase (and with so many of them reasonably affordable too)! I’m a fickle beast and even if I like something, I usually am keen to try something else out of boredom – but these products are working so well for me that I’m not sure if making a switch is wise! Maybe I’m just getting too old (erm, or not OLD but just lacking an excess of time in which to spend the energy researching new products to try)…either way, I’m really happy with my routine, and if it means I’m boring – so be it!

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A luxurious body oil to add to your wishlist: Kypris Inflorescence

[This post contains press samples] Ever since I tried Lina Hanson’s delectable Global Body Oil, I’ve been quietly lusting after heavenly-scented oil mixes for the body. Though I deem them more a luxury than a necessity when it comes to skincare (due to their price…and if you apply these as you would any other body product, they can disappear quickly!), I’ve come to have a small yet satisfying array of body oils that I use when the mood is right (date night, an evening pamper session, to boost my mood after a long day, just because I CAN). The most recent addition to my collection is organic wunderbrand Kypris’ newest product, Body Elixir: Inflorescence ($95US).

Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence

Kypris is a relatively new brand (created by Chase Polan in 2012) that offers holistic, high performance skincare that is both organic and wild-crafted. Believing sustainability is both an environmental and social imperative, the line uses sustainably grown botanicals and all formulations are 100% natural and nature-derived. Though I don’t believe ‘all “chemicals” are bad‘ and I do use a few non-organic skincare products, if I’m going to go ‘green,’ I want my brand to be up front and transparent about just how eco-concious they are, so I appreciate Kypris’ philosophy. In a previous post I wrote a brief review on the brand’s Moonlight Catalyst serum, which is absolutely lovely. Expectations high, I was eager to try out the body elixir.

Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence

Thoughtfully created, Inflorescence is not just your basic body oil; containing moringa, tamanu, sunflower and prickly pear oils, it soothes and protects dry skin while also touting antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. Tamanu oil in particular has been noted to be effective at treating eczema, so you know I’m on board! Not only does this elixir contain a host of nourishing oils, it also contains sweet iris leaf stem cells and vitamin C ester, included for their ability to target and repair the visible effects of sun and environmental damage and encourage the production of collagen.

Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence ingredients

Ok, so basically we have a superstar body product on our hands, yes? But there’s something we haven’t yet discussed: the scent. I’m all about amazing ingredients, but no matter how good the formulation, I won’t bother using something that doesn’t please my delicate nose (re: woefully uncultured nose, but I like what I like!). May Lindstrom’s The Good Stuff might be a gorgeously crafted body oil, but MAN I am not down with that obnoxiously cocoa scent. Nope, not for me. And I’ll admit, when I saw that Inflorescence boasts organic neroli flower and sweet orange essential oils, used for their uplifting and energizing qualities (not to mention their lack of photo-toxicity nor evidence of irritation), I was pretty leery – some iterations of orange blossom does NOT float my boat, as it can shift into floral overload quite quickly. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Inflorescence does not offend my olfactory palette; the scent is light, soft, and a touch romantic, and it brings out the better qualities of orange blossom (and neroli…coincidentally, one of my long-standing fragrance lemmings has been Prada’s Infusion d’Iris, it’s top notes being both neroli and orange blossom!…and now it’s definitely time to buy that fragrance already ;)). Oh, and if you’re curious – the zero irritation bit so far has rang true for me and my touchy skin, hurrah!

Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence

The cherry on top of this wonderfully created cake is that this oil is so, so light – though it hydrates my skin beautifully, it’s not greasy in the least, making it perfect for rushed mornings or pre-bed routines where you don’t want to feel sticky once you slip under the sheets. It’s easily the lightest oil I’ve tried, and a little goes a long way (which you appreciate when spending this amount on a product!).

Kypris Body Elixir Inflorescence

I’m sure you’re unsurprised to hear that Inflorescence’ pretty, lace-adorned green bottle has joined the ranks of my small (yet fabulous) body oil collection. It was kind of a no-brainer! With a second homerun product for me, you can bet your ass I’ll be trying more products from the brand (I’ve got my eye on the Beauty Elixir III and the Antioxidant Dew next).

Check out the whole line at www.kyprisbeauty.com.

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In honour of Earth Day: A skincare trio by affordable (and Canadian!) eco-brand Graydon

So…I’ve been going a little bit skincare crazy since being on maternity leave. Yep. What can I say? I get bored and I need to indulge my beauty habit somehow, and hoards of makeup just doesn’t make sense right now (though I did pick up a few things during the Sephora sale…purchases to be revealed once I receive them all [I made a last minute 3rd order late last night :S]). I actually purchased the products in this post before the ones I wrote about last week; I was trying to get my fix in a more economical way…clearly that didn’t work. But what, ho! – the brand Graydon is a sweet little homegrown eco-conscious brand (based out of T.O.!) that I think deserves some attention, and what better day to do it than on Earth Day?!

Graydon skincare

First, a quick primer. Graydon’s tag line is Clinical Luxury by Nature – quoted as such because: 1) their products contain bioactive ingredients that work to nourish the skin, such as antioxidants, linoleic acids, and vitamins and minerals; 2) they aim to create products that not only work but feel lovely to use and look great on your vanity; and 3) they utilize ‘plant powered’ ingredients and ‘choose to source organic plant based ingredients from Canadian growers and manufacturers such as broccoli and berry seeds oil.’ They do not use any nut-derived ingredients due to the potential of allergies, and do not use any mineral oils, chemicals, parabens, sulfates, artificial dyes or synthetic fragrance. They’re also gluten-free!

Ok, now that you’ve got the background scoop, here we go. I picked up 3 products so I could form a somewhat well-rounded idea of the brand – a facial mist, a moisturizer, and a facial oil. To begin, let’s start with the Face Food Mineral Mist.

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The Face Food Mineral Mist ($29CADis an elemental mineral mist that boosts hydration in the skin via minerals copper, silver and zinc. Copper is purported to help the production of collagen and elastin, while silver is said to kill bacteria and help neutralize the harsh sodium-fluoride in our tap water. The 3rd mineral, zinc, has been noted to decrease inflammation by helping stop bacterial infection which can make one’s face look red and blotchy.

It’s hard to say much about the effectiveness of this mist I’m used to using facial mists with aloe or glycerin, which leave a trace on the skin – but I do appreciate its simplicity. I don’t have a lot of redness which would be the one way I could judge its efficacy, so I just have to trust that this is in fact doing something! If you’re looking for a no-frills mist however, this is a good option.

Ingredients: ionic copper, silver and zinc infused in purified water and nothing else!

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The Super Sensitive Skin Stuff ($29CAD) moisturizer was created for ‘people with skin that reacts to everything’. Though this hasn’t been an issue for me lately, my skin can be finicky at times so I wanted to have an option for when that situation arises. It has a high aloe content so it is very soothing; it has a medium-heavy consistency (likely due to the plethora of oils such as evening primrose, pomegranate seed and rosehip seed) which sinks in fairly well, but which might be a tad heavy for oilier skins. If I have time, I’ll put this on and let it sink in before doing my makeup so I don’t have a problem with greasiness. I actually love the texture for body though, and often apply a touch to my hands as well.

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Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice (aloe barbadenis), cetyl alcohol (coconut product), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), black currant seed oil (ribes nigrum), evening primrose seed oil (oenothera biennis), pomegranate seed oil (punica granatum), rose hip seed oil (rosa rubiginosa), vegetable glycerin, sodium chloride (mixed plant), vitamin e (mixed tocopherols), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

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Finally, we have The Serum ($46CAD). Graydon states that ’50 pounds of fresh Canadian berries go into this [serum],’ and the array is what drew me to the product (and actually the brand itself) in the first place. Cold-pressed blueberry, cranberry, and red raspberry seed oils (the latter which contains natural SPF and is also great at combating blemishes) are mega-antioxidant powerhouses, and are high in linoleic acid (which if you recall, my skin favours) and alpha-linolenic acid. A serious source of Vitamin E by the way of tocopherol, as well as Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, rounds out the blend nicely.

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The color of this oil should tell you just how concentrated and pure it is – it smells faintly of blueberries. The viscosity is a touch thick but not too much so, though the oil spreads much more easy with a damp face. Though the brand suggests mist the skin after application (?), I recommend misting first then applying the oil straight away. Sometimes I will mix the oil with the ‘Skin Stuff’ for a lighter application (though either way, I like to leave it to soak in for a bit before applying makeup). It leaves my skin feeling plump and well-protected. I tend to use this oil in the daytime to take advantage of the natural SPF benefits of the red raspberry seed oil. EDIT: I forgot to mention that this has a pump dispenser that gives you the perfect amount to apply to your face. Droppers are all well and good, but give me a pump that keeps me from over-applying any day of the week! GENIUS.

Ingredients: cold pressed blueberry seed oil (vaccinum myrtillus), cold pressed cranberry seed oil (vaccinium macrocarpon), cold pressed red raspberry seed oil (rubus idaeus), meadowfoam seed oil (limnanthes alba), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

Overall, my foray into the Graydon brand has been quite fruitful – though the products are quite simple in design, they still feel well thought out and are a nice addition to my routine. I like that they don’t compete with my more aggressive treatment products but rather support them without being too plain. If you’re looking to try some eco-conscious products but don’t want to break the bank, this is an excellent brand with which to start!!

FYI I bought the trio from Clementine Fields.

Have you tried Graydon products? Is your skincare routine more basic or very involved?

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Collective reviews: new skincare goodies!

Though my makeup wearing days have been minimal of late (and when I do wear it, its a quick slap-dash affair – concealer, mascara, blush, gloss), and as such, my makeup buying is next-to-none, I have been indulging in some skincare splurges to keep my beauty habit alive. The benefits are two-fold: having great products to look forward to using means I make the (often challenging) effort to keep good skincare habits; and maintaining a routine means my skin needs less makeup anyway (thankfully!). Last month I stumbled across e-tailer Integrity Botanicals – which has several brands with products on my wishlist – and as I needed replenishment on a few things, I went all in. *I’ve included links below (non-affiliate) to each brand’s website if you’re interested in learning more, as these may be brands you’ve not heard of before!

Organic skincare

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst ($70USD) is a refining and exfoliating serum that is designed to ‘deliver all the cosmetic benefits of retinoid preparations without any harsh chemicals, redness, peeling, or thinning of skin’. It boasts fermented pumpkin enzymes to exfoliate, Hawaiian sea algae and Xylitylglucosides to hydrate, and supercritical extractions of rosehip seed and sea buckthorn to repair irritated or chapped skin.

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

The evening-only serum is very lightweight and spreads easily over the skin, and is completely non-greasy (though it does leave it a touch tacky). The scent is lightly fruity and pleasant. I apply about a half-dropper full (they recommend 1-2 but I don’t find I need quite that much) all over my face & neck and let it absorb for about 5 minutes before applying a treatment oil on top (Pai’s rosehip oil). Guys, this stuff is GOOD. After using it just once, my skin felt so smooth in the morning, and subsequent uses has helped clear up the bit of hormonal acne I’ve had (likely due to the inclusion of willowbark extract, which acts similarly to salicylic acid) and refine the areas where I’ve got scarring from said spots. I am particularly pleased that it contains no essential oils, which I tend to avoid – despite their ‘natural-ness,’ they still have the potential for skin irritation. I am LOVING this product and it will be a definite repurchase for me (very rare)!

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst Kypris Moonlight Catalyst

For the past six months, I’ve been using either plain, organic grapeseed or pumpkin seed oil to remove my makeup, and they’ve worked well, but lately I’ve been feeling like picking up something a little more…interesting. African Botanics Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ($60USD) is an emulsifying cleansing oil (meaning you can just wash it off with water) that gently exfoliates while removing makeup and purifying the skin. Marula oil’s antioxidant properties help cells renew and resist damage, aid in stimulating microcirculation and minimizes redness and irritation.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil

The cleanser has a thicker viscosity (compared to say, One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil), and requires 3-4 pumps to enable you to massage it into the skin. The scent (this DOES contain essential oils, but since its a rinse-off product I’m not as concerned) is a fruity-vanilla blend that is quite nice if not a touch sweet. Though you can just add water to emulsify after massaging it in for 1 minute, I still prefer to remove it with a microfiber cloth, though for traveling and whatnot I do appreciate that this can be rinsed away easily.

As I haven’t been wearing much makeup lately, I haven’t used this too much yet, but from what I’ve seen so far its a nice option for makeup removal/as a first cleanse. I have used it a couple times on its own with no issues, but I’m not sure I would make a habit of it with my clog-prone skin.

African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil African Botanicals Pure Marula Cleansing Oil ingredients

I’ve been reading raves about Josh Rosebrook products for a while now, particularly for his Deep Nourishing Shampoo and the Active Enzyme Exfoliator ($60USD), the latter which I added to my online basket at the last minute. I’d been wanting to get an exfoliating mask, as I have a good purifying one (Yüli’s Pure) and a nice hydrating option (Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Rapid Radiance Mask) and I like a good trifecta.

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

The mask is designed to ‘stimulate skin cell growth; ignite collagen and elastin production; reduce fine lines, age spots and sun damage; tighten, tone and shrink pores; and improve overall radiance.’ Seems like tall claims, but I think any exfoliating product essentially will have these results – thats why exfoliation is so key 😉  Its the method of exfoliation that lured me in – the mask uses both ‘chemical’ (plant, herb and fruit enzymes) and manual (via very finely ground walnut shells) exfoliants to get the job done.

I put this mask on one day when my mom was over and holding the baby (gotta capitalize on those opportunities when you can!) and she said it looked like I wiped the baby’s poop all over my face, hence this post on Instagram:

A diaper change gone wrong, or @joshrosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator? 😉

A post shared by Latoya Rose (@xbeautyobsessed) on

I like this mask – its non-irritating, and you can leave it on from 10 minutes up to an hour – the kind people at Integrity Botanicals suggested 45 mins in a sweet personalized note they left in my package. After I rinsed off my mom said that I was looking pretty glowing, so sounds like it works! The exfoliating effect is gentle but thorough.

I somehow misplaced the box this came in, but here is the ingredient list for reference:

Ingredients: Organic honey, organic vegetable glycerin, organic lecithin, organic herbal extracts of neem leaf, yucca root, sage, stevia leaf, eyebright, coneflower (echinacea), fennel powder, horsetail, bilberry, chickweed, comfrey, slippery elm, peppermint, bladderwrack, lavender flowers, calendula flowers, white willow bark, skullcap, ginkgo leaf, green tea, alfalfa, hawthorne berry, gotu kola, marshmallow root, st. john’s wort, yerba mate, solomon’s seal root, rosemary leaf, papaya enzyme, walnut shells, certified organic xanthan gum, organic essential oils of lemon, cypress, fennel.

Finally, I needed a new facial mist/toner and though I was very tempted to buy yet another bottle of one of Yüli’s Elixirs, I noticed the new MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ($68USD) on the site, and decided to try it instead (same price & size as the Yüli too). It also does not contain essential oils (only a hydrosol and a few extracts), and the overall ingredient list is lovely: rose blossoms to hydrate and soothe; antioxidant-rich prickly pear (opuntia ficus-indica) and goji berry for environmental protection and anti-aging; hyaluronic acid to bind water to skin; and willow bark extract to smooth and refine.

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner

I’m really enjoying this toner – I can actually feel it soothing and softening my skin, and the rose scent is beautiful and calming. I’m also a sucker for anything in a miron bottle. Though my bottle requires the use of a cotton pad to apply, it’s since available with a spray-nozzle attachment, which I would prefer. Definitely a contender against the Yüli!

MUN No.11 Anarose Toner ingredients

I’m super-pleased with all my purchases, and excited to have found a few gems that I’ll actually add to my permanent stock (the Kypris serum and MUN toner are must-haves); I’m also really impressed with Integrity Botanicals as an online retailer and I intend to purchase again from them very soon! I still have a few more products on my list that I plan to buy in the next little while ~wallet backs away screaming~  and I have three products from affordable Canadian eco-brand Graydon to still show you as well (yes, I have gone a bit crazy since being on maternity leave)….so though posts are infrequent, I promise they’ll be worth the wait 😉

Have you come across any standout skincare products lately?

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Miniature masks (and miniature reviews!)

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Somehow, I find myself in possession of a number of miniature-sized masks, and it came to me that perhaps before I blow through them all (their bitty sizes allow for quick empties), I should give them each a brief review. The masks in question? Peter Thomas Roth’s Cucumber Gel, Rose Stem Cell, and Pumpkin Enzyme masks (from the ‘Mini Mask Magic’ holiday set, $25CAD); Juice Beauty’s Green Apple Peel Sensitive (a sample my aunt put in my Christmas goodies, full size is $39US), and the Odacité Hydration Mask* (full size is $55CAD).

Mini Masks

The PTR masks offer three diverse treatments – the Cucumber Gel Mask is designed to soothe, hydrate, and detoxify dry, irritated skin; the Rose Stem Cell Bio-Repair Gel Mask is anti-aging, and assists in repair of dehydrated, dull and sagging skin; and the Pumpkin Enzyme Mask is a powerful exfoliating treatment that boosts dull, aging and congested skin.

PTR Mini Mask MagicPTR Cucumber Gel, Rose Stem Cell, and Pumpkin Enzyme Masks

I like the gel texture of the Cucumber and Rose masks, as they seem to hydrate my combo-oily skin without feeling greasy or heavy. However, I’m not sure I notice a difference between the two – could be that I don’t require much anti-aging yet, but I use them interchangeably and with similar results. My skin after use feels soft, soothed and comfortable; I don’t notice any major radiance boost, but my skin certainly doesn’t look worse for wear either. Though I probably wouldn’t purchase full-sizes of these since I’m not sure of their true effectiveness, I like that I can use these without fear of irritation, and I would consider buying maybe another round of these minis just so I have them on hand in a pinch. It’s certainly made me want to try other gel masks at the very least!

The Pumpkin mask, on the other hand, seems to have much more ‘actives’ in it (pumpkin enzymes, AHAs, and aluminum oxide – all exfoliants), and there’s no mistake it’s doing *something* while it’s on there. When I first put the Pumpkin mask on cleansed skin, my face FEELS it. I hesitate to say it burns because that sounds scary, but it does – intensely, though somehow at the same time it doesn’t feel like it’s truly irritating the skin. My skin is fairly sensitive, but it manages to handle the burn like a champ and it doesn’t cause any lasting issue at all. The ‘burn’ only lingers for about 30 seconds before it fades away – and the mask is only to be worn for 3-8 minutes, so it doesn’t sit too long in any case. Once removed, my face looks a bit red, but that too seems to dissipate within a short while, and then I’m just left with smooth, radiant skin. I quite like this mask – it really feels like it’s deeply exfoliating my skin, and though it’s probably the most hardcore mask I’ve ever worn, it still seems to not go TOO far, even for my finnicky skin.

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel

Speaking of exfoliating masks, I was keen to try this Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel mask finally, and I was happy to see it was the ‘Sensitive‘ version, as I AM usually careful to watch out for chemically exfoliating masks like these, as it can go downhill more often than not. On the whole, this refining mask felt extremely gentle – I had no reaction whatsoever, no burning sensation – and when rinsed away my skin felt smoother, though nothing crazy. It’s also designed to brighten, though I haven’t used this often enough to witness those effects just yet. I’m not fully sold, but I was happy at least that it wasn’t too intense, and I’m looking forward to trying it a few more times to see what kind of results I get.

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Finally, we have the Odacité Hydration Masque*, which I received along with some other skincare items from one of the brands ‘Fresh Collection’ sample sets. This treatment aims to rejuvenate the skin and help it look younger, healthier and more hydrated after just one use. The texture of this reminds me a lot of the Limited Edition Pai Bioregenerate Rapid Radiance Mask (review forthcoming), which is a creamy hydrating mask that feels like a thick lotion when applied. The Odacité mask is a bit different though in that once applied, it quickly turns to a liquid rather than retaining it’s cream texture, and looks quite greasy. Thankfully, it didn’t seem to clog my pores or cause any breakouts after using it, but I think this is best suited for drier skin types than mine – it contains coconut oil as one of the main ingredients, and personally coconut oil on my face is just asking for trouble. I will say though that many of the Odacité products I was sent contain coconut oil, and so far I haven’t had any breakouts anywhere, so perhaps they use a more refined type? Nonetheless, if you are an oilier skin type, I think there are probably other masks better suited to you than this one. My skin certainly felt hydrated after use, but maybe a touch more than is necessary.

So, though none of these masks have truly ‘wowed’ me, it’s been fun having a lot of options to choose from when I do a treatment, and I find because of that I’ve been doing a mask several times a week (versus usually only once or twice). I liked that the PTR Pumpkin Mask really seemed to be doing something, but the rest were more elusive in their results. One thing to note, is that my skin is in quite good condition, and so it’s often hard for me to see results from most treatments, so I may not be the best judge of what’s effective or not. I certainly think each of these masks are worth a look in any case, depending on what your skin’s needs are!

Do you have a mask that you really love? 

*Product was provided by the PR Company/Brand for my unbiased consideration.

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6 Comments

Ilia Beauty Bonanza: Lippies Galore!

A few weeks ago, I noticed Fresh Faced was having a sale on select makeup items, 20-30% off (pssst…it’s still on-going! Some brands aren’t for sale anymore, but there are still some items at this serious discount!). As I’ve been keeping my beauty purchases to a minimum, I decided now was the time to splurge on a few of their lip products, as I’d never tried them before. In order to be well-rounded (OBVIOUSLY a totally justifiable reason to buy more makeup), I ordered three items – their Lipstick in the shade Femme Fatale, a deep red (normally $29CAD, I scored this for $23CAD); a Lipstick Crayon in Call Me, a pretty, cool pink (marked down to $21CAD from $27); and one of their Lip Glosses in The Butterfly and I, a universally flattering neutral peach (also priced at $21 from $27CAD).

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I have tried samples of the Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioners, but I didn’t really like them for some reason – at least, as a sample they felt kinda gritty and the shades I picked were a little garish and light for my skintone. But that’s the past! I decided to give the brand a proper chance to WOW me, and I have to say – it totally did!

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I really wanted to cover a spectrum of shades, and I think I did pretty well. The gloss is a lovely warm neutral, the lipstick crayon a fun, in-your-face cool pink, and the lipstick is a classic, wearable red. Below, some swatches:

IMG_3805 IMG_3827Left to right: The Butterfly and I Lipgloss, Call Me Lipstick Crayon, and one swipe and three swips of Femme Fatale Lipstick.

I was (pleasantly) surprized to see just how neutral The Butterfly and I is – I don’t own a really fool-proof, go-with-anything gloss, but definitely fits the bill! On my lips it looks almost clear, but it has just a hint of warmth and color so it enhances my liptone. The gloss formula itself is smooth, not at all sticky, and lasts for about 1-2 hours – not incredibly long-wearing, but you won’t get that without some stickiness. It IS nicely moisturizing though, and a pleasure to reapply, so there’s that.

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Call Me is especially cool-toned and light on me, which I used to be against, but I’m starting to like the contrast against my darker skin. The texture is sort of creamy-matte – it takes a little effort to put on (it doesn’t have much slip) but it’s not an issue, and it wears well and feels very comfortable on, for a matte finish. I quite like this!

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I thought this might be similar to Revlon’s Matte Balm in Showy, and in the swatches below it looks like it is a bit, but IRL it’s actually much lighter, while Showy is more bold. They give completely different looks overall.

IMG_3908Left to right: Revlon Showy, Ilia Beauty Call Me

Last but certainly not least is Femme Fatale, which I think looks quite nice against my skin tone; it’s just the right shade of red and not too bold, but not boring in the least – it’s so darn wearable! And I think it would be one of those shades to work in all seasons as well. The texture of this is great, creamy and smooth and so, so comfortable to wear (and hydrating!). And it lasts! This shade wore on me easily for like, 5 hours – even through eating. And even after that time, it left the prettiest stain on the skin. I love all three shades I bought, but I think this *might* be my favorite.

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I suspected Femme Fatale would be quite close in colour to MAC Dare You, another deep red. In swatches, it looks incredibly similar, but like Call Me, when worn it shows a different story. Dare You has more pigment, or perhaps not more but is a thicker formula – therefore it results in a bolder, richer look. That makes it *sound* better, but I actually think Femme Fatale holds its own – the formula’s thinner formula means it wears closer to the lips, and it looks more natural. I love both shades, truthfully, as deep reds are more subtle yet easy to wear, and I think both will get worn equally as often. I do feel that Femme Fatale translates across more seasons because of it’s slight translucency, however.

IMG_3906Left to Right: MAC Dare You, Ilia Femme Fatale

I don’t really need to tell you that I love all three of these lippies, do I? I think my love for each comes through loud and clear. For once, ordering sight unseen (which I try to avoid with makeup shades) paid off well. Granted, I did quite a bit of research beforehand, but it was well worth it to have three new shades that aren’t already wholly represented in my collection. Add that to the lovely formula on each of these Ilia lippies, and you can be sure I’ll be ordering more colours down the road!

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Have you tried any Ilia Beauty makeup before? Do you own any green/organic makeup products?

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20 Comments

Amie *Naturally Kind* Skincare – Now at Shoppers Drug Mart!

I know Tracy just reviewed this brand, but that’s what happens when you’re a blogger in Canada – there is bound to be overlap! And I always feel that each person can offer a different take on products, due to different skin types etc. A well-rounded view of a product is always a bonus 🙂

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In this neck of the woods, I’m loving all these new skincare brands landing at Shoppers these days! Launched in Canada on August 11th, the newest kid on the block is Amie Naturally Kind Skincare, which is an award-winning, gentle skincare line that uses high-quality, naturally-derived plant and botanical extracts in their formulas. They have a range of products, from cleansers, to masks, to moisturizers – and a few things in between (toners, exfoliants, and even a makeup remover!).

I received a nice array of products to test out, and unsurprisingly I got right to it! Here’s what I received, with it’s description along with a few of my thoughts:

IMG_3608Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash and Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

Radiant Dawn Exfoliating Daily Wash

“Gentle enough to use every day. Contains green apple, lemon and exfoliating blueberry seeds. Soap-free, oil-free.”   This daily wash is exceptionally gentle on the skin. I’m not sure how truly ‘exfoliating’ it is through the blueberry seeds so just a heads up if you’re looking for a nice scrubby feeling – but I guess the inclusion of green apple offers some chemical exfoliation through it’s acids. It foams up quite a bit, but I found that it left my skin feeling really nice – clean but not stripped in the least. The only real issue I had was that it didn’t rinse away too easily; the gel sort of stuck to the skin a bit so it took a bit of elbow grease to wash it all off.

IMG_3597Itty bitty scrubbies

IMG_3611Ingredients

Spring Clean Deep Cleansing Mask

“A wonderfully refreshing deep-cleansing treatment that draws out dirt, oiliness and impurities leaving skin feeling clear, clean and smooth.”  The first time I tried this mask, I was terrified – a minute after application, there is this SERIOUS cooling sensation that bordered on burny-tingly, and I worried I was going to have a terrible reaction. However, after a few more minutes, the sensation dulls considerably and it’s just nice and refreshing. When I rinsed it away after 10 minutes, my skin felt lovely – fresh and smooth. I didn’t experience any adverse reaction to it at all, despite the scary-intense feeling at the beginning.

IMG_3600Thick clay texture

IMG_3612Ingredients

Morning Dew Matte-Finish Moisturiser

“Controls oiliness and shine, while hydrating and keeping skin soft. With rosehip, bilberry and Vitamin E.”  A beautifully light moisturizer, that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave the skin feeling sticky or greasy. I found that this minimally controlled oiliness and shine on my combo-oily skin, but honestly – nothing has been working on my skin to keep the oiliness at bay on my t-zone, so I wasn’t surprised. If nothing else, it’s a great light hydrator that would work particularly well with combination to normal skins. And I gotta say, I love that rosehip is included in the ingredients!

IMG_3593Texture was somewhat gel-like – and beside the swatch, I rubbed some in; you can see how it didn’t leave my skin shiny or greasy

IMG_3614Ingredients

Morning Light Hydrating Daily Moisturiser

“Keeps skin soft, smooth and nourished all day long. Rich in rose extract, rosehip seed oil and mallow.”  As this sounded a bit heavier than the Morning Dew moisturizer, I used this in the evening. Again, it was nice and moisturizing without being heavy at all. It didn’t dry as ‘matte’ on my skin as the Matte-Finish moisturizer, but I still think it would be ideal on combo-normal to even slightly dry skins.

IMG_3595Slightly richer texture – and you can see it has a bit of sheen on my skin where I rubbed it in

IMG_3613Ingredients

I’m going to be up front with you: these products are all quite scented. It’s a wonderful scent – clean and fresh and quite pleasant, truly – but for this scent-adverse gal, it freaked me out A LOT and made my testing of these products somewhat limited. With the exfoliating wash and deep cleansing mask, I didn’t mind too much because they washed off, but I felt very uncomfortable wearing the two moisturizers, the scent of which I could smell on my skin all day long.  I only tested them a couple times each, because I just could NOT get past how scented they were. If you’re into scent in your skincare, or if it doesn’t bother you, I’d say these are great products to check out – affordable and free of paragons, sulphates, mineral oils and animal extracts. I don’t know if I’d recommend them for sensitive skins, as they say, due to the fragrance – but not all sensitive skin is sensitive to fragrance, so if scent doesn’t seem to irritate you, you should be fine.

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Have you seen Amie Skincare in Shoppers yet? How do you feel about scented products?

*Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration.

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Things I do in my spare time: Research skincare oils

Alright guys, prepare yourselves for a MASSIVE post! I know that I haven’t been posting as much over the summer, but trust me when I say that just because I’m not talking about cosmetics here does not mean that they’re not on my mind 24/7 (sad but true). Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time doing research on various things, and one of the biggest time consuming endeavours was reading up on skincare oils. Over the weeks, I’ve been compiling information on various aspects of oils, trying to figure out what’s best for my skin. The green/organic beauty world is just so FULL of new products and things to try that it can get a little overwhelming. I decided to take matters into my own hands and trust in my own research to decide which products are worth my time. There are two main components that I look at when choosing a skincare oil: it’s comedogenic rating, and it’s fatty acid profile, both of which I get into detail below.

If you’re at all interested in this kind of stuff, I suggest to grab your bevvie of choice and get comfy, because this is a DOOZY.

1400355998527Photo source

Comedogenicity

The first criteria I have when choosing a facial oil is it’s comedogenicity. Though my skin is not very acneic (usually), it is on the oily side and does get congested fairly easily, so I try to avoid any oils that may clog my pores and exacerbate the situation. I think this point is extremely important for everyone to note, because while facial oils are becoming more and more accepted in skincare, there are still some who get nervous at the thought of wearing oils on their skin, especially if they are acneic or feel their skin is already oily. So, it’s important to know that there are some oils that are better suited for particular skin types – some oils have no or low comedogenicity, and can likely be used without fear of breakouts or clogged pores. A final point to note on this topic is that clogged pores and acne are not a concern for everyone, so to those with perhaps drier skin or skin that never breaks out and pores are a myth (I know a gal that literally has ZERO pores that I can see – bitch!), you can likely use oils with a higher comedogenicity without fear. I also use this list to determine which oils might be well suited for my body skin, as it’s much drier due to my eczema and can handle an oil that’s more comedogenic because it rarely breaks out.

Below, I have a list of oils and a few other common skincare ingredients with their corresponding comedogenic scores out of 5 (I found this information through researching several different articles on comedogenicity).

Non-comedogenic:
Hemp seed oil (0/5)
Mineral oil* (0/5)
Petrolatum* (0/5)
Shea butter (0/5)
Sunflower oil (0/5)
Safflower oil (0/5) *high linoleic acid variety only
 
Low Comedogenic Properties:
Castor oil (1/5)
Jojoba oil (1/5)
Pomegranate oil (1/5)
Rosehip oil (1/5)
Calendula oil (1/5)
Emu oil (1/5)
Squalene (1/5)
Grape seed oil (1/5)
Sea buckthorn oil (1/5)
 
Med. Comedogenic Properties:
Almond oil (2/5)
Apricot kernel oil (2/5)
Avocado oil (2/5)
Baobab seed oil (2/5)
Borage oil (2/5)
Pumpkin seed oil (2/5)
Olive oil (2/5)
Hazelnut oil (2/5)
Tamanu oil (2/5)
Sesame oil (2/5)
Beeswax (2/5)
Vitamin E (tocopherol) (2/5)
Vitamin A palmitate (2/5)
 
Comedogenic:
Corn oil (3/5)
Evening primrose oil (3/5)
Soybean oil (3/5)
Cotton seed oil (3/5)
Cocoa butter (4/5)
Coconut oil (4/5)
Wheat germ oil (5/5)
 
*Some of you may be surprised to see mineral oil and petroleum as non-comedogenic – I was! There are a ton of articles out there for and against mineral oil, so I suggest doing some of your own reading and coming to your own conclusions on it. But it looks like if you were avoiding it because you felt it clogged your pores – that might not be the case! As I said, do a little reading on it to get the full picture.
 
Aroma Therapy

Fatty Acid Profiles

This is a topic to which I’ve only recently been doing extensive research on. After coming across Minimalism Beauty Dawn’s post on using carrier oils to cleanse the face and her finding that oils higher in linoleic acids may be better suited to acneic or clog-prone skin, I started looking up the fatty acid profiles of a number of oils that I see listed in a lot of my skincare. Without getting too technical, different oils contain different types of fatty acids, and each acid type behaves differently on the skin. Below is a list of the most common fatty acids I’ve noted, along with a brief profile.

Oleic acid – very moisturizing, absorbs well, regenerative, anti-inflammatory
Linoleic acid – improves skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, anti-inflammatory
Linolenic acid – helps reduce acne, retains moisture, strengthens skin’s barrier function, anti-inflammatory
Gamma linolenic acid – exceptional at improving skin’s barrier function, soothes itchy, dry skin, retains moisture, helps with acne-prone skin, absorbs quickly, improves skin suppleness and flexibility, anti-inflammatory
Palmitic acid – forms occlusive barrier on skin and protects it
Palmitoleic acid – prevents burns, wounds, scratches; anti-microbial, heals damaged skin
Stearic acid – improves moisture retention, increases skin flexibility, repairs skin damage

In her research, Dawn found that sebum in oily, congested and acne-prone skin tends to be made up of mostly oleic acid, and they need a balance of linoleic and oleic acids to avoid or lessen breakouts and congestion. So, by applying predominantly linoleic acid-based oils to these skin types, you can achieve this balance. Though she doesn’t mention it in her post, I would think the flip side would also be true – drier skins probably lack oleic acid in their sebum (conversely having more linoleic acid in their natural oils), and therefore using oils high in these fatty acids would help balance them out and make them less dry over time.

Of course, being the nerd I am, I put together yet ANOTHER list that notes the fatty acid profiles of many of the oils we see in skincare today (note that I omitted some of the fatty acids that had extremely low values or which were not part of the common list of acids I noted above).

Higher in Linoleic Acid:
Black Cumin Seed oil – 56% linoleic, 23% oleic, 12% palmitic
Borage oil – 39% linoleic, 20% GLA, 18% oleic, 10% palmitic
Evening Primrose oil – 73% linoleic, 9% GLA, 8% oleic, 6% palmitic
Grapeseed oil – 71% linoleic, 16% oleic, 7% palmitic
Hemp Seed oil – 52% linoleic, 10% linolenic, 10% oleic, 6% palmitic
Kukui Nut oil – 40% linoleic, 26% alpha-linolenic, 25% oleic, 6% palmitic
Pumpkin oil – 57% linoleic, 23% oleic, 13% palmitic
Rosehip oil – 44% linoleic, 34% linolenic, 14% oleic
Safflower oil – 68-85% linoleic, 8-30% oleic, 4-10% palmitic
Soybean oil – 53% linoleic, 23% oleic, 11% palmitic, 7% linolenic
Wheat Germ oil – 58% linoleic, 17% palmitic, 12% oleic, 9% linolenic
 
Balanced:
Argan oil – 42-48% oleic, 30-38% linoleic
Baobab oil – 30-40% oleic, 24-34% linoleic, 18-30% palmitic
Cranberry oil – 30-38% linoleic, 22-26% oleic, 20-38% linolenic
Sesame oil – 46% linoleic, 39% oleic, 9% palmitic
Tamanu oil – 41% oleic, 30% linoleic, 15% palmitic, 13% stearic
 
Higher in Oleic Acid:
Apricot kernel oil – 69% oleic, 22% linoleic
Avocado oil – 63% oleic, 16% palmitic, 10% linoleic
Camellia oil – 79% oleic, 7% linoleic
Carrot Seed oil – 68% oleic, 11% linoleic
Hazelnut oil – 79% oleic, 12% linoleic
Macadamia Nut oil – 54% oleic, 21% palmitoleic, 8% palmitic
Olive oil – 55% oleic, 20% palmitic, 18% linoleic
Palm Fruit oil – 43% palmitic, 41% oleic, 10% linoleic
Shea Nut oil – 73% oleic, 14% linoleic, 9% stearic
Sunflower oil – 70-88% oleic, 3-20% linoleic, 3-6% palmitic
Sweet Almond oil – 67% oleic, 25% linoleic, 6% palmitic

As I have been using facial oils now almost exclusively for several years, I can say with confidence that I believe this theory of using linoleic acid-rich oils on oilier skin does work! At least for my skin, I’ve found that by using oils with lower oleic acid profiles, I’ve had much more success in keeping my skin less congested and less oily overall. It’s certainly been trial and error, especially when a lot of the oils that are being marketed to death right now are also often high in oleic acid (camellia and argan come to mind). My skin reacted VERY poorly to camellia oil, and argan, which is a more balanced oil, hasn’t been the miracle cure-all that it’s touted to be in my experience. I can use it sparingly when I feel a bit on the drier side (at this time of year its mostly after I’ve done a clay mask or something of that sort), but regularly use has not been very fruitful, as it leaves my skin feeling very oily and not as soft and smooth as other oils have done.

So far, I’ve had great success with several linoleic acid-rich oils, such as rosehip (probably my favourite to date, with a low comedogenicty rating) and currently organic grapeseed (another one with low comedogenicty), with which I’m using to oil cleanse my face at night. In fact, after I cleanse with the grapeseed oil, my skin is left feeling so comfortable that I’ve been skipping applying anything else at all, and I wake up with baby-soft skin. Seriously, it’s been absolutely amazing! (If you’re curious, I purchased the oil from Mountain Rose Herbs for $17.50US for an 8.5oz bottle) Eventually, I’d like to try something with hemp seed oil in it too (a drier-feeling oil with zero comedogenicity and a low oleic acid profile).

There are a number of other facial oils that do not have the average acid profiles of those above – these I like to think of as ‘speciality oils.’ A lot of these oils have exceptional qualities not found in the oils above, and my plan is to incorporate some of them into my routine as well to reap their unique benefits. Here are a few on my radar.

Other Acids:
Pomegranate seed oil – 78% punicic, 7% linoleic, 6% oleic (cell regenerating, helps repair sun damage, helps reduce collagen damage)
Castor oil – ricinoleic 88%, 4% oleic, 4% linoleic (alcohol soluble, humectant, analgesic)
Unrefined coconut oil – 49% lauric, 19% myristic, 9% palmitic, 8% caprylic, 7% capric, 7% oleic (anti-oxidant, helps with sun damaged skin, penetrates hair shaft)
Sea Buckthorn oil – 31% palmitic, 29% palmitoleic, 28% oleic, 7% linoleic  (very healing, anti-microbial)
Jojoba oil – 71% gadoleic, 14% erucic, 11% oleic (astringent, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)C
Meadowfoam Seed oil – 62% gadoleic, 18% bras sic, 13% erucic (similar to jojoba, forms non-occlusive barrier on skin, easily penetrates)
Palm Kernel oil – 48% lauric, 16% oleic, 16% myristic, 8% palmitic (anti-bacterial)

You can bet that I’ll be getting my hands on some pomegranate seed oil, stat! I currently use unrefined coconut oil as my sole body moisturizer and have been for well over a year, to great success. I have a facial oil now that contains jojoba oil as one of the main ingredients, and I’ve found it very satisfactory in it’s efficacy – not greasy and penetrates quickly.

After doing all this research, I have a good list of oils that I always keep a lookout for when making a purchase. Just to make this post EVEN LONGER, I’ve noted them below:

Face
 any time; non-comedogenic and low in oleic acid: rosehip, grape seed, hemp seed, kukui nut, safflower, jojoba, pomegranate
– night; med. comedogenicity, but low oleic acid or balanced acid profile: pumpkin, argan, cranberry, sesame, baobab, tamanu
day, winter; med. comedogenicity but very protective: baobab, pumpkin, tamanu

Body
– baobab (balanced, occlusive)
– tamanu (balanced, occlusive)
– avocado (moisturizing, occlusive)
– argan (balanced)
– sesame (balanced, occlusive)
– macadamia nut (moisturizing, healing, occlusive)
– olive (moisturizing, occlusive)
– palm fruit (occlusive, moisturizing)

Marketplace-palm-oil-largePhoto source

Final Word

With all these considerations in mind, learning the basics of these oils has made choosing skincare products much easier overall. If I see a product that sounds appealing, I scan the ingredient list first, and if the oil content is composed of a mix I think that will not benefit my skin type, I pass it over. It’s reduced my wish list considerably (which really needed to happen anyway), and I love feeling informed and confident in my purchases.

I know that using oils in skincare may not be for everyone, and that this post might not be as helpful to you. But my hope is that it IS useful for some, and I figured that since I literally have spent hours doing this research for myself, I may as well share it with you guys too! I really do always have beauty on the brain, even if I’m not posting about it as frequently at the moment.

Do you use facial oils? What do you look for when purchasing an oil or other skincare item?

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Refresh Botanicals: Your One-Stop Shop for ‘Green’ Skincare!

As many of you are aware, I overhauled my skincare routine about a year ago to focus on more organic, or ‘green’ products. I’ve had a good deal of success making the switch, which probably has more to do with using products that do not use synthetic fragrance, and seeking out items with fewer ingredients overall (less chance for irritation of my eczema-prone skin), than them necessarily being ‘clean,’ as I’ve seen non-organic etc. products work wonders for others as well. However, I do feel good about what I put on my skin now, regardless of their efficacy, and that ease of mind goes a long way for someone who constantly worries when she tries a new product. That tendency to err on the side of caution hasn’t left me yet, but as I try more and more ‘green’ products without experiencing any reactions, I become more and more confident that this was the right path for me.

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Refresh Botanicals skincare, a natural and organic line from Canadian company Taiga BioActives Inc., which I was immensely excited about. However, as usual I still added the products to my routine slowly to ensure the least chance of irritation. Almost from the start, I could tell that this step wouldn’t likely be necessary – I can say with full confidence that every single item I’ve used has been exceedingly gentle yet effective, and quite simply has been a dream to use!

Refresh Botanicals

The line centres their products around a proprietary blend of cucumber extract (high in antioxidants and vitamin C) and cornflower water, both highly soothing and calming to the skin. The products do not contain Parabens, Gluten, Petroleum By-Products, Animal By-Products, Artificial Oils, Artificial Oils or Artificial Fragrances. Essentially, sensitive skin types like mine are pretty much set!

I was sent 5 of the 7 products from the line: a Foaming Facial Cleanser, a Facial Toner, a Daily Facial Moisturizer, a Night Restore Complex, and a BB Cream. These products couldn’t have been more perfect for me, as they fit themselves into my current regime perfectly.

Refresh Botanicals

In the morning, I cleanse with the Foaming Facial Cleanser ($18.99CAD), which has a texture very similar to Cetaphil or CeraVe if you’ve tried it – sort of a thin jelly. One pump massaged on slightly damp skin gently foams and thoroughly cleanses though I never feel stripped of oils or tight afterward. I wondered if this would be enough once the weather got warmer, but due to the inclusion of coconut oil it sufficiently cleanses to remove any extra oiliness and prepare my skin for the day. I haven’t tried to use to this remove makeup, but they have a separate Eye + Face Makeup Remover in the line, which I expect is to be used first before using this – I don’t think its sufficient enough to remove makeup on it’s own.

Refresh BotanicalsFoaming Facial Cleanser

After washing, I apply a few pumps of the soothing Facial Toner ($18.99CADon a cotton pad (it’s got one of those great systems where you just place the cotton pad on top of the pump and push down to get product), and swipe it all over. It’s a bit of a strange formula in that it foams slightly, but it doesn’t leave my skin irritated and it’s exceptionally gentle – I think it’s more of a pH balancing and hydrating step, with light exfoliation, rather than an astringent to rid your skin of oils. It takes a bit of getting used to if you usually use toners with alcohol, which make the skin feel squeaky clean, but I find that my skin gets less oily when I use more gentle products, this being no exception.  Like the other products in the line, it smells like cucumbers, though this one has a slightly earthy yet flowery scent which I don’t love but am not offended by, either.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

Depending on the day and what my skin needs, I alternate between a facial oil and the Daily Facial Moisturizer ($18.99CAD) after toning. The antioxidant-rich moisturizer is the perfect consistency for all skin types – it’s not too thin, so drier skin types won’t feel parched, but it’s not too thick and absorbs quickly, so oilier types like mine are pleased as well. It’s a basic, soothing moisturizer with not a lot of bells and whistles, but I prefer to get my ‘treatment’ in the form of a serum or oil, anyway. The only caveat I have with this product is that it feels a touch sticky once applied – this goes away after about a minute or two, but it does feel a bit strange. Another point of interest that may or may not be of concern is that one pump is far more than you need for your whole face – a half a pump is plenty, but if you tend to put moisturizer on your face, neck, and décolletage, then you’re good to go for the full pump.

Refresh BotanicalsRefresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer

Refresh BotanicalsDaily Facial Moisturizer  rubbed in (no greasy residue)

Unfortunately, the BB Cream ($23.99CADhas not made it into my daily rotation as the shade is quite light on me. From the feel of it, I think it has a texture similar to a physical sunscreen – so it’s a bit thicker, but not too difficult to spread, and would probably offer some light coverage. It’s designed like your typical BB cream to even skin tone and blur imperfections, as well as hydrate the skin. This formula also helps combat excessive sebum production and improve skin texture, and like the other products in the line is soothing to skin and offers antioxidant protection.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

In the evenings, after I’ve oil-cleansed I might use the Foaming Facial Cleanser as a second cleanse if I need it, then apply a treatment toner and oil. Once the oil has absorbed, I apply the Night Restore Complex ($23.99CADon top to add a little extra hydration and boost my treatments – in contains antioxidants and natural exfoliants which help lighten the appearance of dark spots and help brighten the skin, which is what my treatment facial oil does as well, so I’m getting a double-whammy of goodness 🙂  I find this extra layer does not clog my pores but in fact makes my skin feel that much more soft and supple by morning. I do avoid applying much of the Complex to my forehead, as I end up being a little greasy in that area in the morning otherwise.

Refresh Botanicals Refresh Botanicals

I am really and truly beyond pleased with my experience with Refresh Botanicals – every single product is easy to use, non-irritating, and gently effective. For someone with sensitive but generally easy skin to deal with, it’s the perfect choice, whether or not you like ‘green’ skincare or not. It even passes the packaging test for me (I am SUPER snobby when it comes to packaging, I’ll readily admit it), as it’s clean-looking, functional and hygienic (everything is in a pump).  On top of all that, it’s AFFORDABLE – something I do struggle with in the organic world, as everything is quite pricey. You can actually buy the whole shot for $147.93CAD (which includes the Eye + Face Makeup Remover, as well as an Intensive Serum)!  Even more exciting for me, is that the line is actually available in Nova Scotia – unheard of! They’ve recently introduced it in the Pharmasave/Pharmachoice stores across the province (which is where you’ll find them in the other provinces except Quebec and New Brunswick as well), and I’m pretty stoked.  You can also buy them online, though I’m unsure whether they ship outside of Canada (I suspect they do).

Refresh Botanicals

Affordable, available, effective ‘green’ skincare? I am SO totally getting my friends on board 😀

Would you try a ‘green’ skincare brand if it were affordable and effective, or do you prefer traditional skincare products? Have you seen Refresh Botanicals in pharmacies yet?

 *Products were provided by the PR company/brand for my unbiased consideration. 

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