Archive for category Moisturizers

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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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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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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Green Beauty Regime, Take One – Pai & Stark Skincare

So it’s been almost a month since I started using nearly all green / organic beauty products and guys – it’s been sort of KICKASS.

This could get really rambly, really quick – so I’m gonna jump right in because otherwise we’ll both be here all night.  First, let’s start with the cleansers that have been keeping my skin fresh and clear over the past little while.

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Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm ($40CAD) was the first full-on green purchase I made back in September.  I ordered directly from the brand’s site, as they were having a promo I think, and also picked up my konjac sponge at the same time (though, I don’t use the sponge with the balm because I worry that the thickness of the balm will gunk it up <– obviously not a scientific determination).  I was nervous at first because it smells REALLY GOOD, kinda citrusy (but not in a fake way, in a MMMMMMMmmmm way), and you know how scared I am of fragrance – but, awesomely, I’ve had ZERO problems with this product.  I even took it on a trip to Newfoundland a few weeks ago as both my cleanser and moisturizer (as it is designed to handle both tasks) and was pleasantly surprized at how great my skin was the entire time, which is a feat in itself (travel can be rough on my touchy skin).

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The balm itself is quite lovely – it has a smooth, buttery texture, with little bits of raw cocoa butter that sort of get massaged in with everything else.  Truth be told, I don’t love these little bits, only because they don’t dissolve as fast as I’d like, and sometimes fall in and around my sink – but that’s just me being nitpicky.  In fact, they’re the ONLY thing I don’t love about the balm – everything else is fan-freakin’-tastic 🙂  You just massage a small amount into the skin, wash it away with a soft cloth, and voila!  Clean skin (that truly does feel clean) which also feels hydrated and cared for.  I use it mainly for this purpose – as a cleanser – and I am exceptionally impressed that this creamy balm removes all traces of makeup, dirt and oil AND hasn’t caused one breakout or reaction.  SOLD.

Ingredients of Stark Cleanse + Hydrate Balm: Shea fruit butter, virgin coconut oil, cocoa seed butter, soybean butter, candelilla wax, camellia seed oil, sweet almond oil, arrowroot powder, orange peel wax, vitamin E, pure essential oils.

Pai’s Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser ($50CAD) was a freebie I received when I put in my Fresh Faced order for a few other Pai goodies late last month.  I wasn’t interested in it as my skin isn’t really dry (as this seemed best suited for), but figured I’d try it out nonetheless.  Winter is coming, after all.  Surprizingly, I quite enjoy it, and similarly to the Stark balm, it’s thick, creamy texture – that feels a bit heavy, like it might not cleanse and then wash away properly – is actually quite effective.  I have been using this as my second cleanse after the Stark balm (also wiping it away with a washcloth), and again, I’ve had no breakouts whatsoever – and in fact my pores are more cleaned out than ever!  Interestingly, it contains castor oil, which in my research I’ve discovered is anti-bacterial and a great humectant (binding water to the skin), and despite being a thicker oil is almost entirely non-comedogenic.  So that’s probably why I haven’t experienced any breakouts!

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Overall, it’s a great gentle cleanser that great for all skin types, even despite it’s thickness.  The only drawback I’ve found is that it doesn’t quite remove tenacious eye makeup – but for that, we have removers, right?

Oh, and it smells divine too – faintly like lemons (I think that’s the geranium in there!) 🙂

Ingredients of Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser: Organic rose water, water, organic camellia oil, organic castor oil, organic sweet almond oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic shea butter, organic vegetable glycerin, natural vitamin E, corn extract, basil extract, organic lavender oil, organic geranium oil, organic may chang oil, organic rose oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Next up, we have the hydrators.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I still have a few non-organic items I need to get through, but overall these are my go-to items that I have been wearing daily.

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Pai’s Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream ($48CAD) was seriously designed for me.  It’s formulated to clear and rebalance oily and combination skin, and my goodness does it ever do it well!!  This is the perfect day cream for my often ‘glistening’ skin – it absorbs quickly, leaving a velvet-like finish, and I don’t see any shine until nearly the end of the work day (when normally I’d need to blot by about 11am).  It contains Borage oil, a dry oil loaded with antioxidants that is one of the best oils for barrier repair, and which also helps reduce collagen destruction (woot!).

IMG_0496IMG_04972nd picture – after being rubbed in.  No shiny!

It also seems to give me that elusive glow that I’ve been trying to achieve all summer in vain (glowing goes quickly to greasy when you’re an oilier skin type), which is awesome.  Again, I’ve had absolutely NO adverse reactions to this moisturizer – it hydrates perfectly without being too heavy for day, and I haven’t had a single bout of eczema since I started using it.  BAM.   The scent of this one doesn’t blow my socks off – it’s kind of earthy with a slight lemony twist (again, the geranium)- but it’s not offensive in the least so there’s no problem there.  I would (and will) repurchase this in a heartbeat.  That is a rarity ’round these here parts – even great products usually get replaced for shiny new ones – so that’s saying something!

Ingredients of Pai Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream: Purified water, organic jojoba oil, coconut- and corn-derived emulsifier, organic thistle oil, organic borage oil, natural vitamin E, organic vegetable glycerin, corn extract, manuka oil, basil extract, organic geranium oil, organic juniper oil, organic lavender oil, natural lactic acid (from sugar beet).

Another product that is HIGHLY worth the repurchase is Pai’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil ($35CAD).  Rosehip oil is a dry oil notorious for its ability to heal and repair the skin; it also contains trans-retinoic acid, which is converted to vitamin A in the skin to boost the healing process.  The function is similar to retinol, but with less irritation.  The oil is supposed to help improve the appearance of scars, sun damage, and fine lines.

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Now let me tell you.  I had two rather large pimples sprout up on my right cheek a few weeks back – they started as tiny clogged pores, and I stupidly tried to squeeze them ~d’oh~.  I was bummed that they were going to leave a scar (as acne usually does for me), especially as I was going to a wedding in a couple weeks.  Well lo and behold, no word of a lie, but not only did those full-on pimples run their course in record time (I’m talking like, three days MAX), but the scars also significantly faded before the day of the wedding – so much so that all I needed to cover them was a bit of foundation.  Truly, I was shocked at how quickly the turnover was, as it usually takes months before my acne scars disappear.  Miracle product?  I’m thinking YES.

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On top of all that fabulosity, I find that this oil is, again, perfect for my oilier skin, and I can use this as my sole hydrator each evening without requiring an additional moisturizer.  It sinks in fairly quickly, and the scent – which to me smells sort of like green tea – dissipates within minutes as well.  And again, no breakouts, only great skin!  What’s not to love?  I haven’t noticed any anti-aging effects yet, but I mean…I don’t really have a lot of ‘aging’ to fix just yet, so…yea.  But overall, I absolutely love this oil and will repurchase in a heartbeat.  And at $35??  Ummmm it’s kinda the cheapest one around guys!

Ingredients of Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil: Organic rosa canina (rosehip) seed extract, organic rosa canina (rosehip) fruit extract, mixed tocopherols (natural vitamin E).

So Pai is sort of knocking it out of the park for me.  Both the moisturizer and the oil were also Beauty Award Winners according to Bazaar magazine in 2011.  I usually take those ‘award’ thingys with less than a grain of salt (editors are basically paid to talk up certain products), but turns out in this case the awards were well justified!

As you can order samples from Fresh Faced for $0.75 each, I put in an order a couple weeks ago to try out most of May Lindstrom’s line (quick synopsis: meh on The Youth Dew {which is great – saves me $125!!!}, enjoyed The Cleansing Dirt and The Problem-Solver…but not enough to purchase at the moment), as well as a couple products from One Love Organics (the Easy Does It cleanser is lovely and a multi-tasker for face, body, and hair – I MUST buy for travel; and the Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum is quite nice!).  I love this option, as I can decide just what I want items from my massive list I want to spend my money on….though truth be told I’d kinda like to own one of everything! 😀

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I’ve been having such a great time experimenting and trying out new products, more so than I ever have in the past.  It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to just jump right in with something new and not have to worry about how my skin will react.  So far, I haven’t had one set back in all the items I’ve tried, and my skin has honestly never looked or felt better.  Even in circumstances like traveling where I’m not in my usual surroundings (which means, bedsheets washed with fragrance free/dye-free-everything-free detergent; no pets; etc), I’ve found my skin’s resilience has improved ten-fold, and I have hardly had a blip on the radar in terms of skin’s reactivity.  I’m not knocking ‘regular’ products in the least – I think they have some great technology out there, and in some cases are more effective than organic skincare products – but for me, the reduction in inflammation (which additionally can speed up aging) and the freedom to try anything without fear, is an absolute dream.  Plus, I have been having more fun with my skincare rituals that I ever have, and washing and treating my face has never been so enjoyable 🙂

Aside from the brands I’ve mentioned, are their any other green/organic lines I should be investigating??

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