, It's been a rough winter so far. Job lay-offs from the recession combined with below freezing temps and inches of snow make me thankful that people haven't started "shaving their heads, climbing tall buildings and shooting people," as Anthony Bourdain would say.
Here in Chicago, a minor struggle has been battling dry, rough skin all over. Radiator heat plus a sulfate-containing shower gel that I was using (got it for free) were the culprits. Then I bought a humidifier and received a Lavanila Healthy Body Wash and Body Butter.
Pretty factor: Lavanila ("vanilla" in Madagascar) is like a more natural Jo Malone; the scents are as crisp and clean—but derived naturally from vanilla, grapefruit, lemon peel, and cedarwood essential oils. The soap- and sulfate-free washes clean skin without drying, then contain antioxidant-rich goji berry and pomegranate, nourishing oat protein, and purifying willow bark extract. Available in 4 fresh scents.
Eco factor: The butters and washes contain organic botanical extracts and no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, propylene glycol, silicones, or synthetic dyes
December 18, 2008
, It's been a rough winter so far. Job lay-offs from the recession combined with below freezing temps and inches of snow make me thankful that people haven't started "shaving their heads, climbing tall buildings and shooting people," as Anthony Bourdain would say.
December 16, 2008
Hey everyone. Just discovered that everything at SkinBotanica.com is 20% off until December 20! Their eco brands include John Masters Organics, Suki, Jane Iredale, Juice Beauty, and 100% Pure.
I'm good-to-go on skincare but am definitely stocking up on JMO's Honey & Hibiscus Shampoo and Reconstructor and Jane Iredale PureGloss.
December 15, 2008
For a while, I've wanted to write a post about the best regime for rosacea, the skin condition characterized by a flushed, ruddy face with visible blood vessels, bumps and/or pimples. (Bill Clinton is a celebrity example.) I don't have it, but a recent move to Chicago, which might as well be Antarctica during the winter—quickly prompted me to research non-comedogenic, moisturizing skin soothers. The recommendation: Evan Healy's Blue Face Kit.
The kit includes Evan Healy's gorgeous Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk, Rosehip Treatment Facial Oil, and Blue Chamomile Day Moisturizer. They contain steam-distilled blue chamomile and lavender essential oils to impressively calm redness and help regenerate damaged tissue and broken capillary veins (and smell exactly like freshly plucked chamomile and lavender flowers).
Ideal for: People with rosacea or ruddy, wind-burned or irritated skin.
Eco factor: Evan Healy products are beautifully pure—they don't contain a single synthetic ingredient, including parabens, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, filler/thickeners, sulfates, or fake colors and fragrances.
December 11, 2008
For those of you who love whole pomegranate but rarely eat it because of the hassle, head to Trader Joe's! The other night I discovered their little containers of fresh pomegranate arils (seeds). They're super convenient and taste surprisingly fresh and delicious.
By the way, isn't pomegranate the most fabulously feminine fruit—with its wealth of antioxidants and phytoestrogens, those ruby-like seeds and voluptuous shape?
December 8, 2008
It's been a pretty subdued holiday season so far. In the past two weeks, a very dear family friend passed away from bone cancer, leaving their 21-year-old daughter without parents. (Her dad died two years ago.) A best friend called to say that her grandma's cancer is spreading like wildfire. Another friend e-mailed about three members of her family breaking bones in one day. And my favorite uncle was laid off from his job at the Louisville Courier-Journal after 36 years of service.
Thank goodness for hope, which often arrives in small forms. During a down day last week, I got a huge smile from a press release from Pangea Organics. It was announcing their holiday gift sets, which are packaged in 100% biodegradable cartons that are embedded with spruce seeds and, if planted, will grow a Christmas tree! These are the people who should be running the world.
There are three different sets, from simple to elaborate, and two sets are currently 25% off at drugstore.com. They'd make a lovely gift for a mom-sister-friend who you have no idea what to get.
Eco factor: Pangea products contain handcrafted, organic and Fair Trade ingredients. They're free of petrochemicals, parabens, sulfates, and synthetic dyes and fragrances. The company's packaging really sets it apart from its competitors. Its cartons are made of 100% post-consumer recycled newspaper and are embedded with seeds—moisten, plant and up will grow a a plant!
To buy: $26 to $30 at drugstore.com and $30 to $40 at pangeaorganics.com
December 4, 2008
I had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving in Portland with my little bro, who moved to Oregon last summer. The city is often teased for teeming with hippies and street kids (which it has). But wow. It was inspiringly beautiful and the most environmentally conscious place I've ever visited. Blue recycling bins and compact, fuel-efficient cars were prolific, and nearly every restaurant we ate at served hormone-free meat from local farms. I was awestruck. Welcome home, Eco*Pretty!
In addition to fresh air, earth respectfulness, and dang cool architecture, Portland has a heavenly rose garden on a hill that overlooks the city and offers a majestic view of Mt. Hood. One evening after visiting the garden, we popped into a Whole Foods, where I bought Numi's Velvet Garden White Rose Tea as a souvenir. It's one of the loveliest teas I've tasted, with antioxidant-rich white tea and real rose buds. Perfect for having girlfriends over...or escaping to a more calm, refined place this winter.
Eco factor: The tea is certified organic and certified Fair Trade.
To buy: $6.99 at Whole Foods and numitea.com
November 26, 2008
In light of Thanksgiving and my borderline obsession with pumpkin (Starbucks is killing me by selling those pumpkin loafs...), I'm serving up my fav pumpkin-containing products this week. What are yours?
A little background: Pumpkin is high in vitamin A, which increases skin cell turnover, reducing fine lines and acne. And because it's a natural source of vitamin A, it doesn't cause the redness and irritation that Retin-A, Differin, or retinol serums often do. So here they are:
Eminence Organic Skin Care Pumpkin & Orange Masque. This hydrating and brightening mask is so deliciously scented that you'll want to gobble it up. Pumpkin extract promotes skin renewal, fresh orange juice boosts the skin with vitamin C, honey moisturizes, and vitamins A, C and E protect against free radicals. The challenge is to apply it to your face and not eat it. $48 at dermstore.com
MyChelle Dermaceuticals Incredible Pumpkin Peel. Read review here.
Desert Essence Pumpkin Hand Repair Cream. This affordable best-seller is one of the top natural hand creams. Its impressive ingredients include vitamin-packed pumpkin seed oil, licorice extract (which helps lighten age spots) and hydrating jojoba oil. $9.49 at drugstore.com and Whole Foods
November 20, 2008
Came across this slideshow on FitSugar highlighting 7 antioxidant-packed winter foods. Thought I'd pass it on for those of us who worry about eating healthily during the holidays and miss our summer berries. I was happy to see cloves on the list—here's to making a big batch of wassail!
November 13, 2008
Pardon this off-topic post. I have coal-fired plants on the brain and am feeling hopelessly frustrated.
Before going to bed last night, I read an article in Time about activists protesting the construction of a new coal-fired plant in Virginia—which will emit 5.3 million more tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year. (A 2007 report from the U.S. Department of Energy listed 151 new plants in the planning stages.) I then awoke this morning to see this awful image in the New York Times of brown smog clouds above China, which has been building two coal plants every week.
What we seem to be tortoise-slow at understanding—or we would've acted much faster; we always do when something directly affects us—is that CO2 sucks for our health. From the Times article, "U.N Sees New Pollutant Threat":
"For those who breathe the toxic mix, the impact can be deadly. Henning Rodhe, a professor of chemical meteorology at Stockholm University, estimates that 340,000 people in China and India die each year from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases that can be traced to the emissions from coal-burning factories, diesel trucks and kitchen stoves fueled by twigs."
"'The impacts on health alone is a reason to reduce these brown clouds,' he said, adding that in China, about 3.6 percent of the nation's annual gross domestic product, or $82 billion, is lost to the health effects of pollution."
Yes, the world's population is out-of-control and there's a massive demand for cheap energy. But I'm still shocked that new coal-fired plants—the dirtiest, worst polluters—continue to be built and that we've moved so slowly to mandate cleaner alternatives.
Having a new president and, hopefully, an administration, who don't pork-barrel with the energy industry should help enormously. But everyone must be a little anti-coal activist. Use natural sunlight during the day. Turn off your computer at night. Don't buy the McMansion. Turn down the thermostat a couple degrees. Incentive: You'll save money on your energy bill and will have more hydrated skin and hair this winter. Thanks for your help.
To learn more about the construction of coal plants in your area, visit here.
Tags: news and politics
November 7, 2008
It's a widely known fact in the beauty industry that Americans are obsessed with foam: foamy cleansers, foamy shampoos, foamy body washes. European and Asian women traditionally have used cleansing creams and oils, which don't strip skin like our detergent-packed washes. Not us. If it don't lather, it don't work!
I've read the articles that say that lather doesn't equal clean, it just equals lather, and that the best way to combat oil is with oil. I've tried best-selling oil cleansers, like Lavantine's and Shu Uemura's. But the heavy, un-clean feeling I was left with plus break-outs a few days later made me run for my Aveeno Ultra Calming Cleanser (a sudser that I used in my pre-green days).
Luckily, there are now lovely soap-free foaming cleansers that thoroughly remove makeup and dirt without drying. Here are the best natural ones on the market in my opinion.
For Dry/Normal Skin: John Masters Organics Rose Foaming Face Wash. This light latherer employs mild surfactants to gently cleanse, aloe and linden flower (an antioxidant) to soothe, and steam-distilled essential rose oil to rejuvenate. $19 at Whole Foods and beauty.com
For Oily/Acneic: Aveda Outer Peace Foaming Cleanser. InStyle recently named it the best cleanser for acne-prone skin, and I concur. Oat amino acids exfoliate without harshness, salicylic acid treats blemishes, saw palmetto extract reduces DHT-thus-oil production, and tamanu oil moisturizes and heals. Has a refreshing herbal-medicinal scent. $25 at Aveda concept salons and aveda.com
Runner-up: Clinique's Acne Solutions Foaming Cleanser
For Combo Skin: Evan Healy Tea Tree Gel Cleanser (click for review). I've gone through three bottles the past year. It's my all-time favorite cleanser.
October 27, 2008
Hi everyone. I apologize for the lack of posts this month. I've been rapidly preparing for a move from New York to Chicago (happening this weekend), and my mind has been OCD-fixated on the presidential race. I've developed a need to refresh CNN.com every 15 minutes and Gallup.com every few hours, even though they only update their polls once a day....
But for 30 min this past weekend, I re-commenced beauty research. Specifically: the benefit of exercise on skin. We know that aerobic exercise reduces stress and flushes toxins from the body. But I was fascinated to learn in this article from WebMD that exercise can also:
• declog oil from pores
• regulate the production of DHEA and DHT, the male-associated hormones that cause acne and hair loss
• increase collagen production in the skin—leading to a plumper, more youthful visage (in addition to giving that rosy flush, of course)
Now my experience: I'd been so busy with the Chicago move and having goodbye meet-ups with friends that, completely pooped, I had traded in my twice-weekly evening jogs for half-awake Netflix movies. By the end of last week, I was blah and sluggish, and my skin was looking too sallow for comfort. I forced myself to fit in a 25-minute run on Thursday and Sunday. And crazy enough, my complexion has looked much healthier, and I swear I've lost less hair in the shower.
So hurray for exercise: free, multi-beneficial, and without a carbon footprint!
October 1, 2008
I've tried an impressive number of skin care products for this blog over the past year. But few have done more for my complexion than Quixtar/Amway's clear.now™Acne Treatment Lotion. Since using it a few weeks ago, my oily skin (which has become more finicky since living in gritty NYC) has been uncommonly and consistently clear and even-toned.
Beauty buffs migh know Quixtar/Amway as the Avon-like (but-bigger) company behind Artistry® cosmetics (which recently announced Sandra Bullock as its spokesperson). A friend who sells the line enticed me first to the company's best-selling Nutrilite® Women's Supplements. They're packed with high-quality ingredients from organic farms in California, Washington, Mexico, and Brazil, and the fish oil in their omega-3 capsules is mercury-free. But back to the lotion.
Pretty factor: Toss the Proactiv in the recycling bin! Clear.now™ contains an ingredient called sodium chlorite—whose particle size is 200,000 times smaller than benzoyl peroxide's, allowing it to thoroughly penetrate pores and kill bacteria. While it's debacterializing, .7% salicylic acid breaks down pore-clogging oil and a bevy of botanicals—aloe, lavender, willowherb to name a few—heal, moisturize, and calm redness. The skin is left clear and decongested without the slightest dryness or ruddiness.
Eco factor: No petrochemicals, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance or colors, T.E.A., D.E.A., propylene glycol, silicones, PEGS, animal ingredients
September 22, 2008
Move over C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine! You've been blown out of the water (or, rather, off the shelves) by a new gal on the market: Green by Nature™ Lip Glazes.
Green by Nature™ Lip Glazes are 95% natural. They contain pure peppermint oil to freshen breath, fruit oils for a uniquely yummy taste, are petrolatum-free. Did I mention they cost about $3 less than Mentha Lip Shine?
Pretty factor: Like most women, I've tried countless lip glosses, but these are by far the best bang for your buck. They boast rosehip seed oil, which is rich in fatty acids and vitamin A. Shea butter, pistachio oil, avocado oil, and aloe leaf extract offer superb hydration.
Eco factor: No parabens, petroleum, mineral oil, propylene glycol, or synthetic color and fragrance. The company is a member of 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that give at least one percent of their annual sales to environmental organizations.
September 11, 2008
Most beauty editors have products that they'll easily plunk down big bucks for (usually shampoo and skincare) and those that they'll—shock—slip into the drugstore to get. Shower gels and body scrubs fall into this latter category for me. I won't spend two meals' worth of money on them when no one has ever said, "Wow, you have such smooth, beautiful kneecaps!"
Besides, I excitedly snatched up NUDE Skincare's Moisturising Body Polish ($52!) at a beauty sale at work last month only to discover that it had the cohesiveness of a dry muffin. When I tried to smooth it on my arms, chunks literally came flying off. I'm not a morning person to begin with and certainly don't care to bump into my shower walls, picking up chunks of "damn $52 body scrub" (that's now sitting in a corner of my shower, like a kid in timeout).
Last week, a co-worker who runs a blog called Beauty Maverick gave me Kiss My Face's Lemon Verbana Organic Shower Gel & Body Scrub. And it's perfect. Here's why:
Pretty factor: This two-in-one cleanser/scrub contains very mild surfactants to clean your skin without drying, jojoba beads to exfoliate without harshness, and aloe and chamomile to soothe. Lemon extract plus orange flower and lemongrass waters give a light, energizing aroma that's perfect for morning.
Eco factor: It contains organic botanicals and no parabens, synthetic colors or dyes. No animal testing either.
September 4, 2008
This post is 24 hours late, but I have a full-time job in addition to Eco*Pretty and can't keep quiet on this one topic. So, it'll have to be better late than never. I know this is a touchy discussion and risk offending some readers. But journalists aren't—and shouldn't be—meek people.
The Republican National Convention on Wednesday night made me want to drink gin out of the cat dish, as my favorite writer, Anne Lamott, would say. The pugnacious Giuliani-Palin combo and their crowds had me slumped on the couch, not knowing whether to pray or fetch a cold compress.
Republicans confound me. And I say this as a political moderate and practicing Christian. I have a hard time understanding a people with jolly, cherubic faces and frequent invocations of God—who can hurl insults with a ferocity that would make the devil blush.
Obviously, both political parties do their share of mug-slinging. But comparing the speeches at the two conventions, negativities from the Democrats seemed more like rational critiques instead of mean-spirited attacks. Palin's put-down of Obama's "community organizing" on Chicago's South Side was particularly low. She clearly knows nothing about the neighborhood—which is more tough, diverse and populous than Wasilla and Juneau combined.
But more than any other moment during the evening, I was appalled at all the signs and chanting of "Drill, baby, drill! Drill, baby, drill!" Maybe I'm reading the wrong articles, but every news report I've come across about drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has said that 1) it won't lower gas prices and 2) its oil would last us a pathetically short time. Not to mention, of course, that it would destroy wildlife. Remember 1989's Exxon Valdez oil spill? I was only a fifth-grader when it happened but remember the images of lifeless, oil-soaked birds and otters.
Drilling in the ANWR would be like pouring vinegar on a limb that needs to be amputated; a quick fix but not even that. We need to rapidly work to end not only foreign oil dependence but dependence on oil period. More time, energy, and money should be spent researching and developing cleaner, lasting sources of energy. This seems like common sense.
Tags: news and politics
September 1, 2008
For me, and maybe for many of you, finding a natural deodorant that works has ranked just below finding the fountain of youth. I had nice results with Kiss My Face's Liquid Rock, but its ho-hum scent left me desiring more.
Origins knew better. It packed its new Totally Pure Deodorant with odor-neutralizing, bacteria-killing essential oils. It left my underarms smelling blissfully like one of their boutiques for several hours during a hot, active trip to Boston this past weekend. My friend used it as well and was similarly impressed. Like every natural deo' I've used, I do have to re-apply once during the day. But this one's irresistible scent and spray form (no white streaks on shirts!) place it above the others.
Pretty factor: The woodsy, masculine smell of organic clove and ylang ylang, combined with the more feminine-scented lavender and palmorosa essential oils create an alluring, unisex scent that works for both men and women. White willow bark exfoliates underarms and keeps pores clean.
Eco factor: Organic ingredients; no aluminum, parabens, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors and fragrances
August 22, 2008
A few years ago, after going through three tubes of DuWop's infamous Lip Venom (I was obsessed with its tingly, tasty blend of cinnamon and ginger oils), I decided that I absolutely could no longer pay $16 for a tiny tube of gloss. Shortly after this decision, I came across a display of essential oils at a small health foods stores in Indianapolis. The cinnamon one grabbed my eye. Eureka! I could add a few drops of cinnamon oil to my regular lip gloss and instantly transform it to a plumper! "Look at me, being all cost-effective chemist," I proudly thought.
Ha. I apparently dded one too many drops because every nostril in the state seemed to know when I applied it. "What is that smell??" I heard from family and friends nearly every time I whipped it out. After a couple weeks, my mom and brother pleaded, "For the love of God, will you throw that crap away?!" Okay, okay. But you know what? It worked. My lips instantly become plumper and brighter.
Now I have an excuse to shell out the big bucks again for DuWop: Lip Venom not only comes in a longer-lasting stain...but it's organic and paraben-free: DuWop Pure Venom Plumping Lip Stain.
Pretty factor: Organic shea butter, safflower oil, and jojoba oil thoroughly moisturize, while sugar cane extract (the natural source of glycolic acid) exfoliates to keep lips young. And, of course, the classic cinnamon and peppermint leaf oils stimulate circulation, increasing lips' fullness and color. It has to be the perfect lip product.
Eco factor: Organic ingredients, no parabens, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors and fragrances
August 18, 2008
Until now, finding a great eco-friendly mascara was like trying to find a natural blonde at a Texas beauty pageant. I've tried many and have found either the formulas to be too runny (thanks to moisturizing oils like jojoba) or the brushes to be too skinny (not volumizing enough).
Leave it to Tarte Cosmetics to develop the perfect one (and in such a pretty tube). Tarte was my favorite makeup line at Sephora when I worked there a couple years ago because of the numerous healthy ingredients in its high-performing products. Last year, this cool company went green, making its goods free of parabens, mineral oil, propylene glycol, or synthetic dyes and fragrance.
Pretty factor: Olive esters—not oil—condition without runiness. Rice bran wax and acacia gum adhere to and naturally thicken lashes. A fat brush with ample-spaced bristles perfectly separates and gives va-voom volume.
Eco factor: No parabens, propylene or butyelene glycol, mineral oil, or synthetic fragrance. The tube is made from recycled aluminum.
August 15, 2008
Each Friday this summer, nearly everyone in my Manhattan office has wisked off to the Hamptons. For those of you who, like me, have been doing more day-dreaming than jet-setting since Memorial Day, bring home the beach—and get a gorgeous glow—with Evan Healy's Sea Algae Serum.
I was lured to purchase my first Evan Healy product by its minimalist packaging that whispered "purity, cleanliness." Evan Healy is a San Diego-based esthetician who trained at Dr. Hauschka and holistic doctors in Europe and California. Her philosophy is "the skin breathes" and her line is nutrient-packed and ultra-pure.
Pretty factor: This lightweight serum—which quickly absorbs into the skin—contains marine botanicals, which feed the skin numerous vitamins and minerals. Seabuckthorn oil revitalizes with naturally occurring beta carotene and vitamin E, while antioxidant CoQ10 renews skin cells from free radical damage.
Eco factor: Evan Healy product contain organic ingredients and pure essential oils. No parabens, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, filler/thickener ingredients, sulfates, or synthetic colors and fragrances.
Ideal for: all skin types. Really.
August 11, 2008
This post strays a bit off topic. But if we are what we eat—if what we put into our bodies eventually affects our skin, hair and nails—then I'm not wandering too far.
Friday evening, a foodie friend and I sojourned to Long Island City, Queens (just across the East River from Manhattan) to hear a standing-room-only talk by food writer-superstar Michael Pollan.
I've been interested in nutrition and healthy eating as long as I have cosmetics, and have followed Pollan's work since reading an excerpt from his recent book, In Defense of Food, in The New York Times Sunday Magazine.
A professor of journalism at UC Berkeley, Pollan advocates via prolific research for eating locally (e.g. from farmers' markets) and organically. Here's why:
- Local food has a lower carbon footprint. Lettuce voyaging from Salinas, California to a Whole Foods in New York uses significantly more gas than lettuce traveling from a Long Island farm to that same Whole Foods. Industrial
beef farms generate obscene amounts of
manure that, instead of fertilizing grass as nature intended, release
pollution-causing methane into the air. (Buy grass-fed beef, which has been found to contain higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids!)
- Organic produce is thought to be more nutrient-rich than its conventionally grown counterparts. Scientists theorize that when produce is sprayed with pesticide/herbicide/insecticide, it becomes "lazy." Organic fruits and vegetables have to fight harder to survive and thus produces more protective antioxidants.
- Organic farming prevents tons of fertilizer from polluting waterways and killing marine life. Earlier this summer, I came across one of many recent articles about how fertilizer runoff from Midwestern farms causes the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Buying "free-range" meat from a local farmer doesn't support industrial farms or CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation)—where animals are packed almost on top of each other, standing in their own excrement, without access to the outdoors. In these conditions, the distressed animals become sick and are pumped with antibiotics to strengthen their immune systems. We then ingest these antibiotics, which is thought to cause the rise in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that scientists are discovering.
August 1, 2008
After a couple months of using an eco-friendly hair line that wasn't doing much for me, I finally finished the bottle and switched back to John Masters Organics. This past winter, I lathered my locks in JM's amazing Honey & Hibiscus Reconstructing shampoo and conditioner and received numerous compliments. Since it's summer, I wanted something lighter, but not too light because I have high-lighted hair and dry ends that need moisture. I opted for JMO's Evening Primrose Shampoo for Dry Hair.
Well, after a week of use, what do ya know? My hair is again smoother, softer and more vibrant. (Evening primrose oil is loaded with rejuvenating essential fatty acids.) Better yet, while doing research, I found these new Whole Foods video interviews with John himself about ingredients to look for in natural haircare. Check 'em out—they're enlightening!
July 27, 2008
A few weeks ago, after a post about my picks for summer's best sunscreen-moisturizers, a couple readers asked me to recommend a sunscreen that absolutely, positively won't break them out—aka no plant oils of any kind!
As someone who's favorite word in the skincare dictionary is "non-comedogenic," I appreciate this caution (even though most plant oils are non-acneic).
After much research, I found one. It falls in the lenient "more natural" category: Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 is dermatologist-tested, has the official "non-comedogenic" stamp and contains no plant oil of any kind. It gives great coverage for a tinted moisturizer and provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
Pretty factor: Nutrient-rich watermelon extract prevents photo-aging, tumeric extract wards off free radicals, and algae and glycerin soothe and moisturize. According to InStyle, Angelina Jolie uses Korres' sister product Ginger & Vitamins Foundation SPF 10.
Eco factor: No parabens, mineral oil, silicones or propylene glycol
July 18, 2008
I'm not much of an eye shadow gal. I find them too dully matte or disco-queen sparkly to spend my hard-earned money on. Depending on the outfit, I either quickly sweep my bronzer or blush on the outer creases and c'est tout. But I recently became a fan of Ferro Cosmetics Eye Candy Pearls—they're the perfect blend of cream and shimmer.
Pretty factor: These hand-made shadows contain mica and silica—minerals that give an air-brushed luminosity. They're available in 11 gorgeous shades. My fav is Come Hither, a coppery peach that beautifully compliments tanned summer skin.
Eco factor: No talc, bismuth oxychloride, preservatives, petroleum by-products, fragrance or dyes. Ferro Cosmetics runs a "green" office, using recycled-content paper, unplugging everything at night, using smart light bulbs, etc!
$9.99 at ferrocosmetics.com
July 14, 2008
I know, I know. Another microdermabrasion cream-kit on the market? But this one is different. This one is q-u-a-l-i-t-y. Of the eye-crossing number of microderm creams and facial scrubs I’ve used in the past few years, Microdermx, made by L.A.-based Nikkel Holistic Skincare, is truly the crème des crèmes. Why? The quality of its crystals and the plethora of soothing, healing ingredients.
Pretty factor: Instead of harsh, second-rate exfoliants like pumice, magnesium oxide, sodium bicarbonate or unfused aluminum oxide, Microdermx uses medical-grade corundum crystals—which are second only to diamonds on the Mohs scale of hardness. The crystals are so microfine (at first touch, the product actually feels like a regular face cream) that they exfoliate with superb evenness.
Generous amounts of chamomile and aloe prevent the skin from becoming ruddy, and rose hip seed oil, rich in vitamin A, aids reparation. I was wow-ed by how baby-butt-smooth my face felt afterward.
Numerous Microdermx customers have reported their skin tone to be more even, pore size smaller, and wrinkles, acne scars and brown spots diminished after just a couple months of use (2-3 times/week).
Eco factor: No parabens, petrol additives like mineral oil or propylene glycol, or synthetic dyes or fragrance
To buy: $45 at microdermx.com
July 1, 2008
Many natural beauty companies boast that their products are "so pure you can eat them." I recently discovered a line in which that is almost the case.
The Body Deli, based in Palm Springs, uses so many fresh food ingredients that some of their goods actually ship with an ice pack and require fridge storage. Equally cool: The brand's fans include Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson and Alicia Silverstone.
I’ve been using the best-selling Cucumber Juice Elixir daily for the past month. Kept in the frig, it's perfect for summer—an anti-inflammatory cocktail of organic aloe vera, cucumber juice and chamomile soothe the skin while barley grass and spirulina feed it a wealth of nutrients.
Another delectable top seller: the Blueberry Fusion Scrub, which
Eco factor: Body Deli products contain fresh, organic plant, fruit and veggie extracts. No sulfates, parabens, silicones, petrochemicals, or synthetic colors and fragrances
June 27, 2008
I've been wanting to bid adieu to shine serums and other styling products that contain silicones, e.g. dimethicone and cyclomethicone. While they smooth the hair shaft to create shine, silicones can build up over time and weigh down the hair. I loved Simply Organic's Heat-Activated Shine Complex but wanted something more moisturizing for the summer, when the plentiful sunshine tends to fry 'n' dry my locks.
Enter Hamadi Healing Serum. This serum uses a luxe blend of plant oils to moisturize, repair and defrizz. Spray just once onto the palms of your hands, rub them quickly together, run through your ends and voila! Glossy, de-frizzed, healthy-looking locks—naturally.
Pretty factor: Antioxidants in sunflower seed oil protect the hair from the sun and extend color or highlights. Fatty acid-packed avocado and olive oils repair and leave locks soft. Organic essentials oils of ylang-ylang, vanilla and bergamont lend an enticing fragrance.
Tip: For a deep conditioning treatment, spray onto hair before bed, put it in a ponytail and leave on overnight. Your locks will feel like silk the next morning in the shower. Promise.
Eco factor: Organic ingredients and no parabens, petrochemicals, harsh surfactants (sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate), or synthetic colors and fragrances. Hamadi Beauty's tag line is "tested on actresses, never on animals." (Founder Jamal Hamadi is close friends with supermodel Linda Evangelista.
Tags: hair treatments
June 24, 2008
The season of shorts, skirts and breezy dresses has arrived. And with it comes the need to give your legs a lil' extra love. For those of us who refuse tanning beds and baking like rotisserie chicken on the beach, bronzing body lotion is the go-to.
Two superb, more-natural body bronzers are Nature's Gate Happy Glow Lucky Bronzing Creme and Tarte's Glam Gams Bronzing Leg Stick. Both are infused with healthy ingredients and give a shimmery, natural-looking glow.
Pretty factor: Happy Glow Lucky contains moisturizing borage seed oil plus brightening extracts elder fruit and hibiscus extracts. The deodorant-like Tarte stick is infused with the company's antioxidant-packed T5 Super Fruit Complex™ of goji, acai, maracuja, acerola and pomegranate.
Eco factor: No parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol or petroleum or mineral oil in either product
To buy: $15 for Happy Glow Lucky cream at drugstore.com and Whole Foods; $30 for Glam Gams at sephora.com
June 19, 2008
Well, the cows have come home: This eco gal is using and loving a Clinique product.
I've been anti-Clinique for years. I've watched girlfriends stick with the line despite it doing nada for them—or causing more break outs. That puke yellow "Dramatically Different" Moisturizing Lotion? It's an outdated formulation of petrolatum, mineral oil and yellow dye. Might as well slather Vaseline-brand lotion on your face!
However, there's always room for redemption. During a recent visit to Chicago, I noticed Clinique's Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam in my friend's shower. It belonged to her roommate, who has flawless skin. I skimmed its ingredient list, ready to shake my head. Instead, I did a double-take: no harsh detergents or paraben preservatives, 2% salicylic acid plus tons of botanicals.
Due to job and relationship stress the past two months, I was breaking out around my chin. So, in a moment weakness, I decided to "bring in the big guns" and headed to Sephora to buy this cleanser.
I've been using it every night for 2 weeks—and my skin has completely cleared with no dryness. As a result, I have vowed to use a cleanser or moisturizer with salicylic acid until I'm 40. And to Clinique: congrats on a great product.
Pretty factor: 2% salicylic acid thoroughly cleans oil and grim from pores to prevent and clear zits. Peppermint extract further purifies while algae extract provides nutrients to the skin. Caffeine perks up skin and reduces inflammation, and glycerin and sodium hyaluronate inject light moisture.
Eco factor: No sulfates, parabens, or petrolatum. Lots of skin-friendly botanical extracts.
To buy: $17.50 at department stores and Sephora (It's about 6 bucks cheaper than the Whole Foods cleansers I've been using!)
June 17, 2008
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, female hair loss is on the rise and it's affecting younger women. Poor, processed diets and increased stress levels—also thought to be the culprit for the boom in adult acne—are mostly to blame. As a result, major hair care companies have rapidly developed lines that address thinning hair in the past couple years.
However, to reduce hair loss, you must get to the root of the problem—literally. John Masters Deep Follicle Treatment does. And it seems to be working for me so far.
Pretty factor: This spray bathes your scalp in organic plant extracts, vitamins and essential oils, which stimulate circulation, balance sebum production and eliminate free radicals, "resulting in optimal scalp and hair health." Perhaps most importantly, the spray contains a large amount of panthenol (vitamin B), which strengthens and plumps the hair shaft.
I've been spraying this on slightly damp hair after showering every other day for three weeks and have noticed a spurt in baby hair growth around my forehead.
Eco factor: John Masters products are 75 to 100% organic and contain wild-crafted, ECOCERT® ingredients. (ECOCERT® is an European organic certification organization.) No parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, artificial colors, fragrances or fillers. The NYC salon is powered completely by wind energy!
June 11, 2008
It's finally happened. I've been hoping for a while that it would. About six months ago, I posted a comment on Jane Iredale's blog telling her how much I like her line (it's the crème de la crème of mineral makeup) and how I'd love for her to develop a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen. Well, she has.
Dream Tint SPF 15—which has a lovely, mousse-like texture—comes in five gorgeous shades plus a peach brightener (for pigmentation problems), lilac brightener (for sallow complexions) and a warm bronzer (for a sun-kissed glow).
Pretty factor: Lightweight shea butter, jojoba seed oil, and sunflower seed oil moisturize and give a fresh, dewy look without slight greasiness. Dimethicone (a main ingredient in face primers) fills in fine lines and large pores, creating a smooth, flawless canvas. White tea and titanium dioxide protect against free radical and sun damage, respectively.
Ideal for: all skin types, truly.
Eco factor: No talc, parabens, phthalates, bismuth oxychloride, or chemical dyes or fragrance. Jane Iredale recently instated a Green Team to help environmentalize the company and is building a new LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) office building!
To buy: $36 at janeiredaledirect.com and skinbotanica.com
June 10, 2008
As I started to write this post, I saw this news story about chemical sunscreens' harmful effect on aquatic life. What this means for you: Look for sunscreen and SPF moisturizers with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide!
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxoide are physical, as opposed to chemical, sunscreens and are gentler on skin—and, apparently, the planet. Even better: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer both UVA and UVB protection.
After researching lightweight natural moisturizers with sunscreen, I've come to my top two: Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 25 and Juice Beauty Green Apple Moisturizer SPF 15.
Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 25 ($32) goes on so smoothly and sinks right in. It contains glycerin and shea butter—which beautifully moisturize without clogging your pores—plus antioxidant vitamins A, C and E and soothing aloe.
Juice Beauty Green Apple Moisturizer SPF 15 ($38) has an uplifting, citrus aroma that's perfect for summer—it contains organic lemon juice to lightly exfoliate and brighten. (After a few weeks, your skin will glow like Cate Blanchett's.) Its nutrient-rich lineup includes organic aloe and green tea extract plus rosehip seed, evening primrose and jojoba oils. Despite the plant oils, this also quickly absorbs and leaves no white cast.
June 3, 2008
The past week, I'd been thinking about hunkering down and sticking to a skin care regime when I spotted this amusing post on Lucky's beauty blog about...hunkering down and sticking to a skincare regime.
I’m constantly hunting for and trying the new, best product. I’ve been especially Swap Central lately—this scrub one day, another one the next—and am wondering if it’s the reason for a little increase in ruddiness and breakouts. Dermatologists say that you need to allow time for your skin to adjust to a new product, then for it to do its job.
So, it’s going to be like me fighting myself, but I’m going to stick to a basic regime for the next two months—no changing! My regime will consist of:
Evan Healy Tea Tree Gel Cleanser. Best. Cleanser. Ever. I’ve been using this daily for two entire months and love it. It's soap-free and foaming with gentle surfactants, bacteria-killing tea tree and lavender oils, and soothing chamomile and calendula blossom extracts. Evan Healy products are super pure and high-quality (though not well publicized) and are available at some Whole Foods.
DDF Pumice Acne Scrub (twice weekly). This stuff is the skincare equivalent of Suave’s best-selling Daily Clarifying Shampoo—it's not natural but, used once or twice a week, it thoroughly removes grit and leaves skin smooth and clear.
Juice Beauty Green Apple SPF 15 Moisturizer. I love the purifying, exfoliating properties and uplifting scent of the organic lemon juice in this moisturizer. It also contains AHA in the form of organic apple juice, plus skin-nutritious ingredients like green tea, aloe, and rosehip seed oil.
I've been on the regime for just 5 days but already notice a reduction in ruddiness. Have you found that your skin looks best when you stick to a regime?
May 25, 2008
Happy Memorial Day weekend everyone. Just in time for pool and beach season, Tarte Cosmetics (by far my favorite makeup line at Sephora) has unveiled a long-lasting lash stain, 4 Day Stay Mascara. Part of Tarte's eco-friendly "Health Couture" collection, it's rich in nutrients and claims to last four full days.
Pretty factor: 4-Day Stay contains PolyFlex Technology™ that adheres the formula's mineral pigments to lashes. Vitamin B5 strengthens and softens lashes and a T5 Super Fruit Complex™ of goji, acai, maracuja, acerola and pomegranate provides antioxidant power.
Eco factor: No parabens, mineral oil, phthalates or synthetic dyes or fragrance. Every purchase of a Tarte product with the T5 Super Fruit Complex supports the Sambazon Sustainable Acai Project, a Brazilian organization that provides companies worldwide with organic and fair trade acai berry while re-building the Amazon rain forest via planting of acai trees.
To buy: $18 at Sephora stores and sephora.com
May 22, 2008
Aveda has launched a new anti-aging, firming skincare line called Green Science that could easily go head-to-head with any "high-tech" department store brand. The line is composed of a firming face and eye cream, a lifting serum, and intensive line-minimizers packaged in cool, tiny tubes. According to the press release, clinical results show a 41% more lifted appearance and a 37% reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.
Pretty factor: After water, the main ingredients in all four products are rosemary leaf extract and spike moss. Rosemary is a potent antioxidant that's also thought to stimulate blood circulation. Spike moss helps rebuild the skin's barrier while glucosamine, organic argan oil, and peptides renew and plump the skin.
I've been using the Lifting Serum for 2 weeks and love how it tingles on application and gives my face a healthy, rosy flush.
Ideal for: normal, dry and mature skin
Eco factor: Aveda has been dedicated to environmental responsibility long before "green" entered the public vernacular and every other celebrity drove a Prius. Its manufacturing facility in Minnesota is powered entirely by wind energy, and its cosmetics contain organic, sustainably sourced, fair trade ingredients. Products come in 80 to 100% post-consumer recycled cartons. . No parabens, phathlates, petro ingredients, or animal testing.
To buy: $45 to $85 at Aveda concept salons and spas nationwide
May 13, 2008
A fun search brought forth Juice Beauty's SPF 8 Lip Moisturizers. They whisk you back to the carefree days of a Bonne Bell-wearing youth—but with way healthier ingredients and non-chemical sun protection.
Pretty factor: These fruity-flavored sheers contain certified organic coconut and sunflower seed oils for hydration, real mango and passion fruit extracts for antioxidant protection, and 4% zinc oxide to prevent sun aging.
Eco factor: Juice Beauty products are made with 100% certified organic ingredients. No parabens, synthetic fragrances, petroleum derivatives, artificial dyes, sulfates, phthalates or animal testing. Their facilities are solar-powered, their containers are made from recycled content, and they source many ingredients from small California farmers.
To buy: $15 for 3 at juicebeauty.com
May 6, 2008
Because I'm on a coffee kick and because swimsuit season will be here in a few short weeks, I couldn't think of a better product to review this week than Malie Kauai's Organic Coffee Macadamia Body Polish.
As I've said, topically applied caffeine stimulates circulation and enlivens the skin, making it a beneficial ingredient in eye creams, moisturizers and cellulite products. Check out this article from CNN Money about coffee's ability to treat cellulite.
Pretty factor: A large serving of coffee—it's the first ingredient listed!—helps diminish those unsightly, fatty indentations. Sugar, which is a natural source of alpha hydroxy acids, exfoliates the body, while coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, and mango butter provide decadently rich moisturization.
Eco factor: Malie Kauai products are made from organic and wild-crafted plants that are harvested in a sustainable manner. No petroleum, sulfates, synthetic colors or fragrances or parabens.
To buy: $45 at malie.com and futurenatural.com
Tags: body scrubs
April 28, 2008
Know how a cup o' joe gets ya going in the morning? Well, topically applied caffeine also perks up the skin. It encourages circulation, making it an ideal ingredient in facial moisturizers, cellulite lotions and, especially, eye creams. 100% Pure's Organic Coffee Bean Eye Cream is the best peeper product I've used. Dark circles are notoriously difficult to treat, but I've seen a small improvement in mine and a big boost in overall hydration.
Pretty factor: A caffeine combo of organic green and white tea plus green coffee de-puffs, gets that blue blood moving, and provides antioxidant protection. Blackcurrant oil—a rich source of essential fatty acids—moisturizes, plumps and reduces inflammation. The souffle-like cream gets bonus points for its hygienic pump container.
Eco factor: 100% Pure products lack synthetic chemicals, parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, sulfates or other harsh detergents, propylene glycol, PEGs, animal by-products, filler ingredients (thickeners, emulsifiers, etc), artificial colors or fragrance, or genetically modified ingredients
To buy: $19 at 100percentpure.com and skinbotanica.com
April 23, 2008
Bare Escentuals', in their quest to take over the beauty world, has unveiled an anti-acne product: RareMinerals Blemish Therapy. Let's talk about what it won't do and what it will do.
What it probably won't do: Don't bet money on this powder to zap medium to severe acne—or even minor pimples. For 3 nights after cleansing, I dabbed it around two stress zits near my chin. They didn't decrease in size at all. However, they did become visibly less red.
Blemish Therapy contains willow bark extract—the natural form of salicylic acid—but I doubt its effectiveness in powder form. Also, mineral powders tend to be drying; this one wasn't an exception.
What it will do: I stopped using this powder as a pimple treatment and instead have been employing it as an oil-minimizing veil. And it's awesome. I apply it around 3 p.m. every day, when my T-zone is shinier than a bald man's head. Active ingredients 3% sulfur and kaolin soak up shininess, while tea tree leaf extract and tea tree oil kill bacteria that has accumulated on the face during the day. It's translucent in color, so you can't tell it's on.
Eco factor: No drying talc, petrochemicals, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance or colors, animal ingredients or animal testing.
To buy: $28 at sephora.com
April 10, 2008
I've been loyally using Lavera's Volume Mascara for the past half-year. But a beauty junkie can remain faithful to even the best products for only so long. The trade-in? Dr. Hauschka's new Volume Mascara, which comes in black, a forest green that makes hazel eyes pop, and aubergine, a plum that beautifully compliments brown and green peepers.
Pretty factor: A fat, soft-bristled brush and moisturizing jojoba oil give va-voom volume without the typical clumping or tar-like consistency. Black tea—yes, tea in a mascara!—provides antioxidant properties, and eyebright extract soothes the delicate lash area; it's a perfect mascara for gals with sensitive eyes.
Eco factor: Dr. Hauschka is a pioneer in the natural beauty industry. For over 40 years, the German company has been using organic and biodynamic ingredients from their own gardens in all their products. No chemical additives, parabens, synthetic dyes or fragrance or animal testing.
To buy: $23.50 at Whole Foods and drhauschka.com