July 14, 2009

Eco*Pretty's Last Post

Eco*Pretty is ending. During a time when everyone and their aunt is blogging and tweeting, I'm going offline. I think this social media trend has two, maybe three, more months before people lose interest.

Ha! No, I've been working as the Chicago sales and education rep for a large organic skincare company. I was recently promoted and given more responsibility that includes frequent travel (and, most exciting, health benefits)! I'm also writing for the company's blog = slight conflict of interest.

Thank you for your readership and comments.  It's been so pleasurable serving and interacting with you throughout these 150 posts.  I've tried to feature the best of the growing crop of gorgeous, natural cosmetics now on the marketbeing mindful, during this recession, to include products that won't empty your wallet.  I hope you've seen great results with anything you've bought as a result of these recommendations.  Good luck in your environmental and beauty endeavors!


Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
Buy organic. Eat local.
Plant trees. Take public transit.
Always stop to smell the flowers.

July 7, 2009

NEW The Body Deli Blueberry Fusion Cleanser

When the weather is humid and the sun is unflinching, this skincare junkie can't help being drawn to brands that use organic juices with names such as Sea Cucumber Gelee—that require refrigeration.

After a few sessions of sticking my head in the freezer to cool off last week (I live on the 18th floor of a pre-war highrise with no central AC), I found myself typing TheBodyDeli.com into my browser.  After discovering the brand last summer, I was instantly enamoured with its fresh cucumber juice toner.

This year, I was excited to discover the just-launched Blueberry Fusion resurfacing cleanser.  From its rich purple hue, description and ingredients, I suspected it would become my new fav face wash.

Pretty factor:  Five percent lactic and malic hydroxy acids offer professional-grade exfoliation while a mild, plant-derived surfactant (decyl glucoside) gently removes oil and makeup.  Acai and blueberry extracts deliver antioxidants and oat flour soothes.

If you have a few extra bucks, try the Sea Cucumber GeleeThis lightweight gel moisturizer-mask hydrates sun-parched skin, calms redness, and repairs free radical damage.  Its nutrient-rich ingredients include organic aloe, wheatgrass, dandelion leaf and kale juices.  Coolest feature of all (pun unintended): It ships on ice and must be stored in your frig.

Eco factor: Body Deli products contain fresh, organic fruit and vegetable extracts and juices.  No sulfates or other harsh cleansing ingredients, paraben preservatives, petrochemicals, or synthetic dyes and fragrance.

To buy: $38 for the resurfacing cleanser and $45 for the cucumber moisturizer at TheBodyDeli.com 

June 23, 2009

Collective Wellbeing Hot Pore Cleansing Scrub with Active Charcoal

Grill season is here. And while this summer won't find me sizzling slabs of meat over charcoal (a potentially carcinogenic activity), I will be slathering a little of that black, porous rock over my face via a current product fav: Collective Wellbeing's Hot Pore Cleansing Scrub: a purifying mask and jojoba bead exfoliator in-one...that warms on contact!

Pretty factor:  Like a sponge, charcoal absorbs excess oil on the skin (much appreciated during Chicago's hot, humid summers). An exfoliation duo of jojoba beads and salicylic acid unclog pores and prevent breakouts. And antibacterial tea tree extract zaps acne-causing bacteria that might be having their own summer bash on your skin's surface.

Eco factor: Collective Wellbeing uses organic botanicals and no sulfates, parabens, or synthetic fragrance or color. They're members of 1% For the Planet and The Chicago Climate Exchange, through which they have completely eliminated their carbon footprint! 

To buy: $14.99 at Whole Foods and collectivewellbeing.com

June 15, 2009

Alo-ha! Pacificia's $9 Solid Perfumes

A few readers have asked why I haven't reviewed the growing crop of gorgeous natural perfumes. One simple reason: cost!  Most average around 90 bucks a bottle—which is out of my wallet's range and, I imagine, many of yours given this wretched recession. As a result, the only eau's I've been using have been Stella McCartney's rollerball and whiffs from my essential oil-scented hair products.

But that changed last month after discovering Pacifica's solid perfumes. Just $9, they come in cool Andy Warhol-meets-South Pacific tins. Finding your signature scent is easy as there are 20 aromas to choose from, such as Malibu Lemon Blossom, Tahitian Gardenia and, my favorite, French Lilac.

Pretty factor: These perfumes are a lesson in simplicity. Just a few ingredients: organic soy and coconut waxes that "hold" scents longer and a blend of essential oils. The tins are easily transportable, too—perfect for your beach or weekend getaway bag.

Eco factor: Pacifica products are free of parabens, phthalates, nitro musks, lead wicks and animal ingredients (including beeswax).  They are not tested on animals and packaging is made with recycled content. Pacifica reuses and reduces wherever possible and is working toward carbon neutrality.

To buy: $9 at select Whole Foods, Sephora (which sells 6 of the 20 scents) and pacificaperfume.com

June 9, 2009

Josie Maran Bear Naked Makeup Remover Wipes

I've always favored gentle foaming cleansers over makeup-removing clothes to wash my face. But a lot of women love the no-water-required convenience of wipes.  Plus they're ideal for this time of year; they remove sweat and runny foundation in one quick swipe. Model Josie Maran has launched some nice ones: Bear Naked Makeup Remover Wipes.

A portion of every sale benefits the Polar Bear SOS, a Natural Resources Defense Council initiative that aims to have polar bears protected under the Endangered Species Act. One tragic effect of global warming is that rising temperatures have melted large amounts of Arctic ice. As a result, polar bears must swim further to find land and are drowning in the process. There are some heart-breaking images that document their plight....

Pretty factor: These gentle wipes use a soothing blend of cucumber, chamomile, aloe and vitamin E. They're free of artificial fragrance (which can irritate the delicate eye area), instead using a splash of grapefruit oil for a refreshing, zesty scent.

Eco factor: No parabens or artificial dyes or fragrance. A portion of proceeds goes to the Polar Bear SOS, an initiative by the Natural Resources Defense Council to get polar bears protected under the Endangered Species Act.

To buy: $12 at josiemarancosmetics.com and sephora.com

June 1, 2009

Safe Your World UV-Protecting Shampoo with Organic Yerba Maté

Those of us in the organic beauty industry often bemoan how hard it is to find effective, luxurious natural hair products.  Several brands, which will remain nameless, have let me down recently, leaving my ends more straw-like than silky-smooth. 

So, even though it doesn't have the chicest of packaging, I was down for trying a citrus-fresh shampoo sent to me from a brand with inspiring environmental activism: Save Your World's new Save Your Hair Color-Safe Shampoo in Oasis Fruit.

Pretty factor: Like John Masters, Save Your World also uses nutrient-rich organic aloe as its base instead of the typical water.  But the star ingredient is organic yerba maté, a South American herb that contains 24 vitamins, 15 amino acids, and powerful antioxidants = stronger, healthier, and more vibrant hair.  (Yerba mate is also believed to reverse grays, but I'll save my wishful thinking for bigger matters.)

Save Your Hair also hemp seed, coconut, evening primrose and avocado oils to hydrate and rejuvenate the hair plus titanium dioxide (a natural sunscreen) to protect against the color-fading effects of the sun.  I've been using this shampoo with Juice Organics Brightening Conditioner and my hair has been fuller and shinier.

Eco factor: With every Save Your World product bought, you spare one acre of rainforest in Guyana (a state in South America) from being logged for an entire year.  Save Your World partners with Conservation International, which pays Guyana's Forestry Commission what it would have received had the area been razed. So far, it has helped preserve 200,000 acres of CO2-absorbing rainforest.  Save Your World products are free of sulfates, 1,4-dioxane, parabens, and synthetic dyes or fragrance.

To buy: $12.98 at some Whole Foods and saveyourworld.com

May 27, 2009

John Masters Organics SPF 30 Natural Mineral Sunscreen

While reading Time magazine last November, I came across a blurb about the very cool invention of smog-eating cement. In a town near Milan, cement was mixed with titanium dioxide, which broke down smog.  Excited, I headed to my laptop where I found this article, also about titanium dioxide's smog-reducing ability.

Both of these news stories beckon the question:  Can makeup, moisturizers, and sunscreen with titanium dioxide—a mineral sunscreen that naturally protects against UVA and UVB rays—also prevent free radical damage from pollution on our face (aka aging)?  It can't hurt to try, right?

My titanium dioxide-containing picks are Jane Iredale Dream Tint SPF 15 tinted moisturizer, Juice Beauty Green Apple Moisturizer SPF 15, and the new John Masters Organics SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen.  It contains reparative moisturizers and humectants like aloe, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid plus antioxidant-rich green tea and healing calendula. It's lightweight but does leave a slight white cast on your face.  Happy days of sunshine this summer!

May 21, 2009

NEW REN Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish

Those of you with jobs or enviable inheritances during this recession may be interested to know that REN Skincare has debuted a luxe companion for its popular Moroccan Rose Otto line: Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish—a pampered way to exfoliate before applying self-tanner or simply smoothing off dry summer skin cells.

Pretty factor: Paraguayan cane sugar smooths skin, while almond oil silkily nourishes. Caffeine from kola nut helps to temporarily reduce cellulite. A pinch of rose otto and palmarosa essential oils soothe the psyche. (We recommend saving some for winter, when you'll really need the mental escape.)

Eco factor: No petrochemicals, sulfates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance or colors, T.E.A., D.E.A., propylene glycol, silicones, PEGS, animal ingredients or animal testing. U.K.-based Ren donates 2.5% of its profits to environmental organizations.

To buy: $60 at renskincare.com

Wallet-friendly option: 100% Pure's fresh fruit scrubs ($22)

May 18, 2009

Collective Wellbeing Pumice/Peppermint Buffing Bar for Feet

An easy-on-the-pocketbook, perfect-for-everyone product for your Monday morning: Collective Wellbeing's Pumice/Peppermint Buffing Bar. This baby has completely smoothed (summer-prepped) my dry, tough feet, and it leaves an irresistibly invigorating minty scent. Plus, check out the company's commendable environmentalism down in "Eco factor."

Pretty factor: Volcanic pumice, ground walnut shell, and buckwheat hulls, set in a grime-removing base of palm oil soap, thoroughly cleanse and polish the toughest calluses. Sage, juniper and lemongrass extracts help purify and organic peppermint and spearmint essential oils give dirty summer feet a refreshing, clean tingle.

Ideal for: Women and men, who will love the scent and grittiness

Eco factor: Collective Wellbeing uses organic botanicals and no sulfate detergents, parabens, or synthetic fragrance or colors. They give to organizations that work to improve our environment and are active members of 1% For the Planet. They're also the first consumer product to join The Chicago Climate Exchange, through which they completely eliminate their carbon footprint.

To buy: $6 at Whole Foods and collectivewellbeing.com

May 14, 2009

Aventine Hill Bath Emporium Cleansing Grains

A blogging friend recently launched a lovely, affordable natural skin and body care line called Aventine Hill Bath Emporium. (Aventine is one of the seven hills on which Rome was built and the site of a temple to Minerva, goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, and crafts). Sheila's homeopathic concoctions include superb cleansing grains that I've been loving the past few weeks.

What are cleansing grains, you may ask? Typically oat or rice-based—and mixed with water—they've been used for centuries as a gentle, nutritional method of removing dead cells, unclogging pores and tightening the skin.

Pretty factor: My favorite among Aventine Hill's three varieties is Grandma's Herbal Cleansing Grains, which contain rice bran and colloidal oatmeal to exfoliate while soothing, and kaolin clay to tighten pores and reduce oil. Additionally, chamomile flowers calm, rose hips provide a lil' antioxidant vitamin C, and caffeine from cocoa perks up the skin.

To use: I've found that the easiest way to use cleansing grains is to sprinkle a bit into your cleanser to instantly transform it to an exfoliator. They also make an effective mask.

Eco factor: Aventine Hill products are free of parabens, sulfates, petrolatum, and synthetic color. No animal testing.

To buy: $9.50 at myaventine.com

May 11, 2009

10 Natural Skin Care Remedies: Fact or Fiction?

Thank you to Eco*Pretty reader Rachel, who passed along a great slideshow from Scientific American magazine titled "The Science Behind 10 Natural Skin Remedies: Why They Work—Or Don't."

The article examines the effectiveness of treatments such as applying cucumber slices to reduce eye puffiness, using fruit acids to renew the skin, and exercising to delay aging.  (Spoiler alert: Nearly every natural remedy they scrutinize works.  But we already knew that!)

May 8, 2009

Elemental Herbology Facial Detox Purifying Mask

I admit it: I'm a sucker for packaging. Despite having a journalist's quizzical mind, anything that will sit pretty in the shower or medicine cabinet raises the thought, "If the company's design taste is this lovely, then the product's performance must be!"

Though this shallow thinking has misled me many times when choosing wine, fortunately the book matches the cover with Elemental Herbology's Facial Detox Purifying Mask. Its whimsically floral packaging lured me in but its results have stamped it a skincare staple this summer.

Pretty factor: The $58 price sticker elicits an "ouch," but you're paying for excellent ingredients. To name some: Oat flour and white Amazonian clay (rich in minerals and purifying salts) gently exfoliate and absorb excess oil.  An anti-inflammatory trio of aloe, calendula and manuka honey soothe redness and help heal sunburn. And lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oils kill acne-causing bacteria and enliven the senses.

Tip: Makes a great overnight spot treatment

Eco factor: Elemental Herbology products contain no parabens, sulfates, mineral oil, synthetic fragrance or dyes, or animal testing.

To buy: $58 at spacenk.com (Space NK is an upscale British apothecary with a few New York outposts that I frequently visited when living in Manhattan.)

May 4, 2009

Sunny, Summer Toes: Zoya Polishes and Priti Soy Polish Remover

Ready or not, summer is almost here and it's time to make your toes sandal-ready!  Our pick this season is a bold, canary yellow polish ("Pippa") from Zoya's La-Di-Da Summer '09 Collection.  It's among six optimistic shades, such as cherry red and watermelon fuschia, that look like they've burst from a Skittles bag. The colors are beautifully wearable, though, due to their opaque cream finish.

When you're ready for a new hue, enlist Priti Soy Polish Remover.  Made by the eponymous organic salon in NYC and praised by numerous beauty editors, this polish remover is 100% natural and free of noxious acetone.

Eco Factor:
Zoya nail polishes are free of toluene, formaldehyde, camphor, and DBP (dibutyl phthalate).

To Buy: Nail polish: $6 at artofbeauty.com, select Whole Foods and salons worldwide. Polish remover: $11.25 at pritiorganicspa.com

April 30, 2009

NEW Suki Resurfacing Enzyme Peel Review

Say "chemical peel" and many women shrink back in horror, imaging the Sex and the City episode when Samantha gets a peel and emerges looking like "beef carpaccio" according to Carrie.

There are many levels of peels, however (Samantha probably had a phenol peel).  And lighter amounts of glycolic, lactic or salicylic acid in at-home products do wonders for the skin.

Alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids boost cellular turnover, keep pores clean and promote collagen production, benefiting almost every skin condition: acneic, sun-damaged, scarred, wrinkled.  Suki's Resurfacing Enzyme Peel—and enzyme, AHA and BHA peel—smashes the myth that natural isn't potent.

Pretty factor: Pumpkin enzyme, malic acid from apple extract, glycolic acid, and willow bark (a natural source of salicylic acid and an anti-inflammatory) deeply exfoliate to reduce pore size and breakouts, smooth fine lines, even skin tone, and lighten dark spots.  And fortunately, efficacy doesn't come with an odorous smell: steam-distilled essential oils of chamomile, calendula and rose lend fresh floral aroma.

Tip: Use only at night. Keep on for 10 minutes, then rinse with cool water. Press a few drops of a pH-restoring oil serum into the skin. I love Juice Beauty's USDA Organic Facial Moisture Concentrate and Naturopathica's Geranium Regenerating Serum. Always use sunscreen or makeup with SPF during the day.

Eco factor: Suki products are made with organic natural ingredients. They're packaged in eco-friendly materials like recycled stock, vegetable ink and glass (never plastic). The company supports fair trade, organic and biodynamic processing and local suppliers. It's an active member of the Organic Consumer's Association, Breast Cancer Action and the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics for Responsible Medicine. No animal testing.

To buy: $75 at sukipure.com and at select spas nationwide.

April 27, 2009

Duchess Marden Damascena Enzyme Exfoliant: Jen's Favorite Exfoliator

I love to exfoliate but get a little nervous applying very active peels or exfoliants during sunny months. Strong AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) products can photo-sensitize the skin, which can cause hyperpigmentation and burning if you forget to apply SPF. Plus, they're aren't suitable for sensitive faces.

The solution? An enzyme exfoliator. As a holistic esthetician and product rep for several natural skincare lines, I've tried an untold number of exfoliators-peels-scrubs. Among them all, my favorite is Duchess Marden Damascena Enzyme Exfoliant, suitable for every skin type.

Pretty factor: DM's Enzyme Exfoliant contains both pumpkin fruit enzymes to "unglue" dead skin cells and jojoba beads to gently sweep them away. The pumpkin here is fermented with lactobacillus lactis, a healthy bacteria commonly used in buttermilk and cheese production. When these two ingredients are combined, they release phytonutrients that have major antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits—resulting in smoother, firmer, healthier skin.

I was startled at the effect. There was no telltale tingling to indicate it was doing anything, but I noticed an immediate difference in my skin tone and texture: far less redness and irritation and my face felt smoother and plumper. As a bonus, this exfoliator is gorgeously but subtly scented with high-quality, organic rose damascena and geranium essential oils.

Tip: After any kind of exfoliating, it's best to follow up with a good mineral sunscreen or mineral makeup with SPF to protect your new, baby-soft skin.

Eco factor: Products by California-based Duchess Marden—which claims model Josie Maran as a fan—are beautifully pure: no sulfates, parabens, propylene glycol, petrochemicals, or synthetic fillers, dyes or fragrance.

To buy: $44 (for about a four month supply) at Whole Foods and duchessmarden.com


April 21, 2009

25% Off Earth Day Sale at John Masters Organics!

So excited! John Masters Organics—the Kérastase of natural haircare—is having a 25% off sale across his web site through April 25 as an Earth Day celebration! (And there's always free ground shipping.)

I finally found an affordable alternative to his amazing conditioners, but his shampoos remain unbeatable. They contain a base of organic aloe instead of water, very gentle, plant-based surfactants to clean without even slightly stripping, and tons of hair-healthy herbs and plant oils. If you haven't tried them due to cost, treat yourself to one now.

April 20, 2009

Flower-Power Products by Talulah Skincare

Spring has finally sprung in Chicago. Since moving here five months ago—where it has since hovered around 28° degrees—I've been awaiting spring like a prisoner awaits his release day. So, in light of the sunshine and warmer weather, blooming daffodils and budding trees, I thought it timely to feature two beautiful products by Talulah Skincare, an ultra clean, nearly 100% organic line that I recently learned of.

Pretty factor:
Talulah's Verbena Calming Hydrosol is a perfect spritz to use after cleansing or throughout the day to purify and uplift. It has one of the loveliest ingredients lists I've come across: organic chamomile, immortelle flower, rose, cucumber, an infusion of several herbs, fermented grape sugars, rose petal extract, and vitamin C. I'd like to bathe in it.

At night, follow the hydrosol with Talulah's Vervain Flower Healing Complex, a cellular rejuvenator thanks to a density of bio-active botanicals like
echinacea, immortelle flower, calendula and pumpkin seed oil. It's ideal for wrinkled, weakened, tired-looking and scarred skin—in other words, everyone!

Eco factor
: Talulah is one of the purest of the pure lines. Their handcrafted products contain only 100% fresh, organic flower and plant extracts and come in elegant glass, not plastic, bottles.

To buy:
$28 for the Verbana Calming Hydrosol and $32 for the
Vervain Flower Healing Complex at talulahskincare.com

April 14, 2009

Evan Healy Review: The Skin Breathes

Of the many natural skincare brands I've tried the past two years, Evan Healy—a gorgeously purist line now sold at Whole Foods—has become my go-to. 

Evan Healy is a licensed esthetician who has worked in the skincare industry for 25 years and extensively studied aromatherapy, Ayurveda and botany.  Her unique guiding beauty principles are "less is more" and "the skin breathes." 

Like Dr. Hauschka, she believes that you shouldn't moisturize at night—only in the a.m.—because you don't want to suppress the skin's own moisture-regulating and regenerating abilities that are active during sleep.  If you must hydrate before bed, apply a few drops of a light plant oil-based serum.  This practice is especially beneficial for people with acneic skin, whose sebum-rich pores tend to clog easily.  (Can you ever imagine sales associates at department stores saying you don't need a nighttime moisturizer?!) 

As a continually curious beauty writer, I'm constantly slapping product on my face.  But recently, a combo of testing a thicker foundation for this blog plus experimenting with too many products at night, broke me out in tiny bumps on both cheeks. Time to pare down and give my face a breather!

I tossed the oily foundation and began simply cleansing and applying a small amount of Evan Healy's Pomegranate Repair Serum at night.  The breakouts immediately stopped and my skin looked smoother and more even-toned.  I haven't seen such quick results since I quit milk and ice cream last year!

April 10, 2009

Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner Review

Since the economy's nose-dive in January, I've been hunting for a less costly alternative to my beloved but $26 and $28 John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Reconstructing shampoo and conditioner.

While reading The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel, I came upon her rave of Aubrey Organics' Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing shampoo. To Whole Foods I headed.

The shampoo was terrible.  It uses coconut and corn oil soap to cleanse, instead of surfactants, and left my fine hair like tangled straw.  For my the next shower, I used John Masters Honey & Hibiscus shampoo followed by Aubrey's Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner. Ding, ding!  We have a winner.  My hair felt clean, fluffy and sooo soft.

Pretty factor:
Instead of water as its base, Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner contains coconut fatty acid cream, which gives it a whipped-butter thickness, pretty opalescent color, and potent moisturizing ability.  Organic aloe, shea butter and several plant oils smooth hair and further hydrate.  Fennel and hops help stimulate hair growth and chamomile extract enhances blonde tones.  It's perfect for dry, frizzy or mature hair.

Eco factor:
Aubrey Organics products, one of only a few brands recommended by the Organic Consumers' Association, are 100% natural. No synthetic or petroleum-drived chemicals, fragrance, dye, silicones, parabens, or animal testing.

To buy
: $9 at Whole Foods and aubrey-organics.com

April 6, 2009

Laptop Temporarily Without Power

Hi everyone. Unfortunately, the power cord on my grandmotherly laptop went out, so I'm offline until the new cord arrives from Amazon.  I'm going to try to borrow a friend's laptop while she's at work but wanted to give you the heads-up that Eco*Pretty probably won't have posts this week.  But more next week for sure!

April 3, 2009

How To Fix Broken Eyeshadow

For those of us who have accidentally dropped our favorite eye shadow on the hard bathroom floor and found it in a million tiny pieces, check out this great tip from The Beauty Stop site.  It teaches you how to make a crumbled shadow (or blush or bronzer) like new!

—Jen from Skin Rhythm

April 2, 2009

The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) for Face

Two weeks ago, I discovered a skincare secret with such incredible results that I'm still shaking my head in awe—how hadn't I heard of this?? 

While reading The Green Beauty Guide by Julie Gabriel, I came upon a section about double cleansing. Apparently, Asian women have done it for years, and it's been gaining popularity in the States.

Here's how it works: At night, you apply an oil-based cleanser to your dry face to break up and melt away makeup. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Then, you follow with a gentle gel or foaming cleanser to thoroughly remove grime and gunk from pores.

I decided to try Origins' Clean Energy Cleansing Oil due to its rave reviews on MakeupAlley. Almost 100% natural and mineral oil-free, it uses a base of olive fruit, safflower, sesame, and sunflower seed oils plus an emulsifer (peg-25 glyceryl trioleate), which allows the plant oils to mix with water and rinse completely clean. Amazingly, there's zero oily residue. Origins has added a touch of essential oils (lemon, lavender and grapefruit) to give it an ahh-inducing aroma.

I follow it with a dribble of Evan Healy Tea Tree Gel Cleanser and have had the best cleansing results of the hundreds of cleansers I've tried the last 15 years. My oily skin hasn't been this balanced or even-toned since I was nine!

Wallet-friendly tip: Organic extra virgin olive, coconut oil, or jojoba oil will do the job, too. However, they don't contain the emulsifiers that Origins cleanser does, so you'll likely have an oily residue.

To buy: $21 at origins.com

March 30, 2009

FURTHER Products Hand Soap

One of the biggest kicks I get from writing blog is hearing the stories and environmental commitment behind the brands. An exceptionally cool one arrived in my inbox recently from FURTHER Hand Soap. It's a reuse-recycle inspiration that's been praised in InStyle, Daily Candy and New York magazine.

Several years ago, an environmentally conscious California man named Marshall Dostal decided that he wanted to use biod
iesel in his car.  He decided to swing by L.A. restaurants to pick up their used vegetable grease to distill into biofuel, which he later did in his garage.  He realized that he could use the by-product, glycerina humectant and skin-repairing ingredient commonly used in cosmetics—to make hand soap.  

His savvy wife, once an event planner at Vogue, enlisted a former fragrance consultant at the Gap to make the soap's scent more botanical, less spaghetti al pomodoro.  And voilà.  The fresh-smelling, wonderfully moisturizing FURTHER Soap was born.

Pretty factor:
  Bergamot and exotic grasses lend an aroma that's an even fresher, more natural version of Gap Grass. The soap foams generously but moisturizes richly with coconut oil, olive oil, and yes, glycerin.  It's the perfect springtime treat for your kitchen or bath.

To buy: $12.50 at furtherproducts.com and these retailers

March 26, 2009

Korres Lip Butters: Perfect for Spring

I had been thinking about these pretty, punchy lip butters by Korres since spying them at Sephora a few months ago—when the temps here in Chicago were hovering around in the teens and I was, overall, in a winter of discontent.  The colors remind me of warmer months and happier times.

Now that spring is here and the blues have dissipated with the last blasts of radiator heat, I thought it time to buy one.

Pretty factor: These balms nearly melt into your lips and give a remarkably smooth finish and deep hydration, thanks to shea butter and rice wax. They'll kick to the curb any chappedness left over from winter. Available in four, richly pigmented shades.

Eco factor:
No parabens, mineral oil, silicones or propylene glycol

To buy:
$9 at Sephora and sephora.com

March 23, 2009

Dr. Bronner's Magic USDA Organic Hair Conditioner and Styling Crème

Having fine but slightly wavy locks, I'm always looking out for the perfect product that will turn my hair into lush, sexy waves.  I've been pleased with my current conditioner but was curious about Dr. Bronner's USDA Organic Hair Conditioner and Styling Crème—being a busy mom to young twin boys, I'm a huge fan of double-duty products.

The first day I tried it, I used conditioner in the shower as usual and blow dried with the Dr. Bronner's cream. Bad idea. My hair was shiny
but also a slippery mess; I couldn't even keep an elastic in. Next, I tried it as a styling cream on second-day hair. It worked well, adding shine and smoothing flyaways.

But the third way was a charm. I skipped conditioner in the shower (sorry, Giovanni!) and applied the cream as a leave-in conditioner. After I blow-dried, I was amazed to see my hair transformed from damp and tangly to sleek and bouncy. The next day, I combed my hair and styled with a bit of the cream. It took no time and looked great. Most surprising, though, was that my hair looked good on the third day! This one's a keeper!

Pretty Factor: USDA certified organic coconut, jojoba and hemp oils nourish hair and create a healthy shine while lavender essential oil helps calm and relax, creating a pampering salon experience every morning!

Eco Factor: Dr. Bronner's—of the colorful, classic soaps
is one of the most integritous lines in the natural beauty industry. Working closely with the Organic Consumers' Association, all of their products are certified Fair Trade and 95% certified organic by the USDA's strict National Organic Program. No parabens, petrochemicals, a single synthetic ingredient, or animal testing.

To Buy: $7.99 at drbronners.com

—Jen from Skin Rhythm

March 19, 2009

NEW MD Skincare® by Dr. Dennis Gross Natural Beauty In Toxins Out Review

Lately, it's seemed that the green bandwagon must be so full of folks that it's busting at the seams, wheels flying off. 

Like most members of the organic community, I flip-flop between being happy that more companies are becoming nature-focused and leery of greenwashing.

So when I received a press release about a new natural line by renowned Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross, I was prepared to be underwhelmed.  Instead, I discovered luxurious, thoughtfully formulated, and highly performing products.  My two favorites from the line, Called Beauty In Toxins Out, are the following.

Purifying Bath Crystals with Himalayan Salt:  There are umpteen natural bath soaks on the market that are perfectly lovely.  Smell is the deciding factor.  These salts are mixed with a warm, completely intoxicating blend of grapefruit, lemon, mandarin, anise, and lavender essential oils—plus shea butter and aloe to moisturize.  After a soak one night, I slept like a baby and remained blissed out until late the next afternoon.

Antioxidant Enzyme Buff:  Sea salt, almond shell, and blueberry and cranberry seeds polish away dead skin cells, while plentiful plant oils (grape seed, sweet almond and evening primrose to name a few) give supple skin.  Lavender and bitter orange essential oils provide an enticing fragrance that's both floral and fruity.

Eco factor: Dr. Dennis Gross' natural line is 100% vegan with no sulfate detergents, parabens, petrolatum derivatives, mineral oil, or synthetic dyes or fragrance.  Packaging for some of the products is made from 100% post-consumer recycled content.

To buy: $57 for the Antioxidant Enzyme Buff and $42 for the Purifying Bath Crystals. Or, you can buy a value set of slightly smaller sizes of both for $55. At mdskincare.com and dermstore.com

March 16, 2009

NEW Aveda Enbrightenment™ Line

Aveda just launched a potently natural skincare line called Enbrightenment™ aimed at evening skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation without hydroquinone.

I've been using the Enbrightenment cleanser, toner, serum and lotion.  (The thick mask and cream contain too many potentially pore-clogging emollients and thickeners for my comfort.)  In just two weeks, I've noticed an impressive evening of tone and a boost in luminosity.

The line is suited for every age and skin type: older women with sun spots, pregnant women with melasma, younger gals with post-acne hyperpigmentation.

Pretty factor: Enbrightenment's star ingredients are not one, but two, forms of stable vitamin C and mulberry extract, a natural melanin-inhibitor.  Every Enbrightenment™ product also contains antioxidant grape seed and rosemary extracts plus redness-reducing aloe.

My favorite product is the pearlescent, moussy Brightening Cleanser.  Being a rinse-off product, it won't lighten your skin much.  But it does silkily remove all makeup and dead skin cells thanks to gentle surfactants, organic aloe, and salicylic acid.

Eco factor: Aveda has been dedicated to environmental responsibility long before "green" entered the public vernacular and celebrities drove Priuses.  Aveda's manufacturing facility in Minnesota is powered entirely by wind energy.  Its products contain organic, sustainably sourced and fair trade ingredients.  Products come in 80 to 100% post-consumer recycled cartons.  No parabens, phathlates, petro ingredients, or animal testing.

To buy: $35 to $52 at aveda.com and Aveda concept salons and spas nationwide

March 13, 2009

Natural Way to Boost Blonde Tones and Highlight Light Brown Hair

On Wednesday, Jen shared a few from-the-kitchen tips to help extend salon visits for red and dark brown-haired gals or to enrich non-dyed hair of those hues. Today, I'm sharing a quick recipe that'll boost blonde tones and give lighter brunettes pretty, subtle highlights in place of the plain, mousy color we're prone to.

Notice that I've used words like "boost" and "subtle"—don't expect your locks to resemble Jessica Simpson's afterward. That requires trips to a killer colorist about as often as you wash your face! With this said, I've experimented with a few highlights concoctions over the years and have found that the following one works best.

• Steep three bags of chamomile tea in a large mug or small pan until lukewarm. I recommend Mighty Leaf Chamomile Herbal tea, which contains high-quality, whole Egyptian chamomile flowers.

• Add 1/2 cup of real lemon juice

• Spritz or pour on hair and leave in for an hour. Shave, clean the bathroom, whatever. Rinse and apply conditioner to ends.

Good to know: The soothing chamomile helps neutralize the effects of the acidic lemon juice.

March 11, 2009

Natural Ways to Boost Red and Brunette Hair Color

When budgets are tight, hair coloring is one of the first beauty indulgences to go. Those every-two-month salon appointments often lapse to four or five months.

Because of this recession, we wanted to share our tips for naturally enhancing hair color until the next trip to your colorist.  Those who don't dye their hair (good for you!) can greatly benefit, too.

I’m going to cover red, darker brunettes and gray hair today, and Lindsay will tackle light brunettes and blondes on Friday.
Red hair: Rosehip or Hibiscus Rose Tisane
It’s a frustrating fact that red hair fades quickly. But here are two herbal teas (tisanes) I've discovered that will naturally boost red hair and extend the life of not-so natural red hair:

Recipe #1: Steep one cup of rosehips (can usually be found in the bulk section of natural foods stores) or two bags of rosehip tea in boiling water until lukewarm.  Apply to hair with a spray bottle and comb through.  Wrap hair in a warm, moist towel or shower cap and leave on for about an hour before shampooing out.

Recipe #2: Steep five tablespoons of dried hibiscus leaves and five tablespoons of red rose petals (or simply use hibiscus tea) in two cups of boiling water until luke warm. Apply to hair with a spray bottle or use as a rinse after shampooing. For best results, apply several washes each time and let sit on hair for up to an hour.

Brunette and Gray Hair: Sage and Rosemary Tisane
After coloring my hair for several years, I decided in my mid-twenties to return to my natural hue until I went too gray to bear. I’ve gotten so used to not dying (and I much prefer the texture of untreated locks) that when I do go gray I’ll try the following treatment to maintain my color. It's a great solution because sage has long been used to prevent the grays and rosemary will increase scalp circulation, thereby encouraging healthy hair growth.

Recipe: Simmer 1/2 cup sage leaves in 2 cups water for 30 minutes, then steep for several hours. Apply to hair and leave on until dry. Rinse. Repeat weekly until desired shade, then monthly to maintain color.

—Jen from Skin Rhythm

March 9, 2009

How to Get Your Anti-Aging Resveratrol...Now That Even Red Wine Gives Us Cancer

You may have recently read about the big University of Oxford study that suggests that even one drink a day of any type of alcohol—even red wine—increases a woman's risk for certain cancers, including breast. Couldn't its researchers have had the decency to wait until this economic hell cools to release data that indicates that a little drinking gives you cancer?  

But more importantly, we've been told for years that red wine was practically the fountain of youth, the elixir for health.  Resveratrol, the potent antioxidant in it, could lower one's risk for heart disease.  It has unique longevity powers...So now even red wine might be carcinogenic for women?  What about all those longer-living Europeans who down vino at lunch and dinner?

I'm now capping my nightly glass of Pinot Noir at one—but how do we still get anti-aging resveratrol?   I don't recommend supplements since we urinate most of them out and there's a flurry of data recently says that supplements don't work.  So, here's what I'm doing:

1) eating more red grapes, whose skin contains resveratrol
2) reverting to Aveda's lovely Inner Light SPF 15 tinted moisturizer, which contains Japanese knotwood, the other major source of resveratrol in addition to red grapes

March 5, 2009

Kiss My Face So Refined Jojoba and Mint Facial Scrub

Until recently, I had my skincare and exercise mantras badly reversed. With skincare, it was "no pain, no gain", which lead me to high AHA exfoliators and especially gritty scrubs. With exercise: "Slow down as soon as it hurts."

I'm still a workout wimp who claims "walking" as a favorite sport, but I have altered my skincare approach. I've discovered that mild, daily exfoliation is far more effective and healthier for your skin in the long run. We all want, for example, that red mark from a zit to disappear ASAP. But intense, harsh exfoliation isn't the solution because it can upset your skin's acid mantle, allowing in more acne-causing bacteria, and it can wear down your skin's ability to self-heal.

My recommendation? Use a gentle exfoliator nightly. Kiss My Face So Refined Jojoba and Mint Facial Scrub is amazing. It's a cheaper but still-as-stellar alternative to Ren's Jojoba Micro-Bead Purifying Facial Scrub.

Pretty factor: Perfectly round jojoba beads remove dead skin cells without scratching, tearing or irritating the skin. Jojoba oil cleans out pores and balances sebum production. Circulation-boosting peppermint oil and peppermint leaf extract leave your face tingling and fresh-feeling for an entire half-hour after use. Tea tree and lavender kill bacteria, lemon balm helps purify, and chamomile soothes.

Eco factor: Made with 81% organic ingredients. No parabens, phthalates, sulfate detergents, artificial colors, fragrances, animal ingredients, or animal testing.

To buy:
$14 at Whole Foods, some drugstores, and kissmyfacewebstore.com

March 4, 2009

Eco*Pretty Gets a New Look!

Hi everyone. In case you were wondering, Eco*Pretty got herself a little makeover, just in time for Spring!  Leg waxing and a mani-pedi to follow.  Many "thank you's" to Teresa at So Chic Design for the new header graphic.

I'm slammed the rest of today, but come back tomorrow; I'll be gushing about an incredible facial exfoliator that I recently started using as a replacement for my notorious Sugar in the Raw.  Preview: It's a cheaper and better version of Ren's best-selling Jojoba Micro-Bead Purifying Facial Scrub!

March 2, 2009

Giovanni Root 66 Max Volume Conditioner: Perfect for Fine Hair

Regular readers might be asking, "Another Giovanni product?" (My editor, Lindsay, reviewed Giovanni's Smooth As Silk line a few weeks ago.) It's just that both of us like Giovanni: The products perform well, are sleekly packaged, smell great—and are easy on the wallet. Plus, they're available at numerous locations, making them convenient to pick up in a pinch.

I've been using the newer Root 66 Max Volume Conditioner and am thrilled with its results. I have tricky hair: fine and sometimes limp with a tendency to be oily at the roots, dry at the ends, and very tangly. I’m always on the lookout for products that boost volume while controlling oil and adding nourishment and vitality. (Is that too much to ask?) I was surprised by the bounce and texture that this conditioner created and how smooth and shiny my hair looked after using it.

Pretty Factor: Real extracts of mango, kiwi, papaya and plumeria make this conditioner smell like a tropical vacation. Since the fragrance comes from natural instead of synthetic sources, you won't mind catching a whiff of it throughout the day. It's rich in herbs and nutrients, such as silica, horsetail, soybean protein, vitamin B5 and vitamin E to keep hair strong, healthy and shiny.

Eco Factor: Giovanni products contain 100% natural, organic ingredients. No petroleum derivatives, artificial fragrance or animal byproducts or testing.

To Buy: $7.99 at Whole Foods, natural foods stores, and drugstore.com

—Jen from Skin Rhythm