February 26, 2009

Sprig.com to Likely Close

I know many of you still haven't recovered from Domino's folding. But today brings more dispiriting news. According to an article on Ecorazzi, The Washington Post Company is likely shutting down chic, green lifestyle site Sprig.com.

Sprig has been my go-to source since starting Eco*Pretty a year-and-a-half ago, so its folding hits hard. The journalism industry has basically imploded the last several months, with lay-offs and shut-downs filtering in like body counts during war. News articles use the word "transitional" to describe its state, but for those of us in it and without jobs, it's scary. Good luck to Sprig's staff.

February 25, 2009

The Best Natural Eyeshadow Hands-Down: Nvey Eco

I apologize for the fewer posts this week. It's been unexpectedly busy (but good busyness, like job interviews!) and I've had less time to research and write for Eco*Pretty.

But onto a post I've wanted to do for a while: the best natural eye shadow. Nvey Eco Organic Eye Shadow is one of the few cream shadows on the natural makeup market, and it has a perfect ingredients list. Cream shadow, as opposed to powder, is a must-have for anyone over the age of 30 or who, like me, disdains the intense shimmer and dryness of powder ones.

Pretty factor: Corn silk plus moisturizing jojoba, coconut, palm and carrot seed oils provide a dewy, satin-smooth base that won't exaggerate fine lines the slightest. Chamomile extract tones down redness, and antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E slow aging. Available in 12 petal-pretty shades.

Eco factor: No drying talc, petrochemicals, parabens, synthetic fragrance or colors, propylene glycol, silicones, genetically modified ingredients, animal ingredients or animal testing.

To buy: $24 at sephora.com and econveybeauty.com

February 23, 2009

Dr. Alkaitis Organic Oxygen Day and Night Crèmes

Post-Oscars and an evening studded with luminous celebrities, I thought it the perfect time to finally review Dr. Alkaitis Skin Care. Dr. Alkaitis is a physical chemist, molecular biologist, ethnopharmacologist (researcher of healing through plants) and a pharmacognosist (researcher of plants' medicinal properties) who has worked with four Noble Laureates.

He's also the founder of one of the best organic skin care lines in the world. Supermodels Gisele Bündchen, Karolina Kurkova and Angela Lindvall use his products as do numerous other celebrities who can't say so because they're under contract with large, cosmetics companies. You think vegan-eating, earth mama Gwyneth Paltrow really uses Estée Lauder skin care? Please. She likely has a bathroom full of high-end organic lines, including Dr. Alkaitis.

I instantly loved his Organic Day and Night Crèmes. No other moisturizer has absorbed so quickly or made my skin feel so fresh.

Pretty factor: Dr. Alkaitis products contain 100% biologically active plants with a base of soothing organic aloe vera gel instead of water. The Organic Day and Night creams have a light, whipped texture and absorb into the skin in seconds. Virgin, cold-pressed shea butter moisturizes, an organic herbal complex repairs, and antioxidant vitamins A, B, C and E fight aging.

Eco factor: Made of 100% organic ingredients from plants grown in-house. No chemicals, synthetics, trans-fats, genetically modified organisms, or animal testing

To buy: $53 and $54 at alkaitis.com

February 18, 2009

Erbaviva Sniffles Organic Chest Balm: Kick a Winter Cold

The past two weeks, it's seemed that everyone who made it through December and January illness-free has been hit with the punies. If that's you, finish the Vick's rub and toss it in the recycle bin. Erbaviva's Sniffles Organic Chest Balm is worth the extra bucks—both for its all-natural decongesting ability and divinely sedative essential oil blend.

"Pretty" factor: This petrolatum-free balm employs an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal trio of organic eucalyptus, tea tree and lavender essential oils to kill what ails you and quickly decongest.  Cedar bark, geranium flower and immortelle extracts will Zen you out for the rest of the day—if applied in the a.m.—or will lull you to deep sleep if massaged on before bed. A moisturizing base of shea butter, sunflower seed and jojoba oils leave your chest as soft as a baby's.

Eco factor: Erbavia—the Rolls Royce of baby products—uses USDA certified organic ingredients including high-quality essential oils.  No petrolatum, harsh detergents, chemical fragrances, and other unhealthy additives. Most of their products come in amber-hued glass bottles (no plastic).

To buy: $14 at erbaviva.com and skinbotanica.com

February 17, 2009

Eco*Pretty Praise

"I'm going to feature your blog on mine it's so fabulous...thank you so much! I said, 'Finally, someone gets what I do!'"
— Suki Kramer, President & Founder of Suki Pure, April 2009
"You really have a comprehensive understanding of the beauty industry and it shows through your writing. I will definitely keep visiting Eco*Pretty!"
— Melinda Small, MD Skincare® by Dr. Dennis Gross, March 2009

"I LOVE your blog. It is a fabulous read, one of the best-written and prettiest blogs I've ever visited. I subscribed to it right away...You have a great sense of humour as well! Thank you again, love your blog!"

— Deborah Bilezikian, President of Monavé Mineral Makeup, February 2009
"Thanks so much for the write-up—so comprehensive and beautifully written."
— Sarah Brown, President of Pai Skin Care, February 2009

Mineral Makeup by Monavé Potted Cream Concealers

Kim Basinger once said that she feels there are two people within her: herself and her intuition, and if she goes with the latter, everyone gets along nicely.

I feel similarly. There is the sophisticated, rapid-walking, Manhattan-loving side of me and the simplicity- and nature-loving free spirit who daydreams about living in Portland. Big city Lindsay says I should wear my Jane Iredale Liquid Minerals foundation every day to look "polished." Gentle-hippie Lindsay says, "Your skin is fine. Dab on a little concealer and go fresh-faced!"

Unfortunately for her, concealers by most natural makeup lines come in only two or three shades and none have matched my fair-medium skin tone. So it was with excitement that I discovered Mineral Makeup by Monavé's Potted Cream Concealers—available in 22 hues!

is a high-quality, yet affordable line made especially for those who most mineral makeup leaves out: African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Middle-Eastern ladies. They offer a spectrum of shades for just about every skin tone, from snow-fair to espresso bean dark.

Pretty factor:
I would almost buy this concealer for the number of shades alone, but the ingredients are extraordinary, too. It contains a base of, not water, but soothing aloe vera gel, followed by moisturizing avocado and sunflower seed oils (both non-comedogenic). Chamomile and calendula extracts further calm and repair the skin, and rosewood, lavender and rosemary essential oils lend a lovely, natural scent uncommon to makeup.

Eco factor:
No talc, bismuth oxychloride, synthetic filler ingredients or dyes. About 95% of Monave products are vegan and contain many locally sourced ingredients. Paper, glass, and plastics are recycled in its warehouse and the company prints on recycled paper and uses low-watt light bulbs.

To buy: just $8.50 at monave.com

February 13, 2009

New British Brand: Pai Skin Care

Is it the Europhile in me who thinks that everything across the pond is more progressed, or is organic skin care more de rigeur in Britain?

Whichever the answer, the catalyst of the question was a press release from Pai Skin Care. Pai is a new, sparkling clean, London-based brand formulated with sensitive skin in mind...and it's reasonably priced! It was an instant hit with British beauty editors and named the No. 1 organic skin care line by U.K. fashion magazine Grazia (beating out Nude and Care by Stella McCartney).

Pretty factor:
Pai products contain bases of plant oils such as camellia, jojoba, and rosehip seed to heal and moisturize, followed by essential oils like lavender, geranium, and manuka to kill acne-causing bacteria, regulate sebum production and lend a scent as fresh as the English countryside after rain. The Chamomile & Rosehip Moisturiser is a beauty for sensitive skin, and the lightweight Geranium & Thistle Moisturiser—which won me over with its outdoors-y juniper oil—is perfect for exceptionally oily faces.

Eco factor: Pai products contain organic ingredients certified by the Soil Assocation. They come in glass bottles (no plastic!) and do not contain parabens, petrochemicals, sulfates, phtatlates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, genetically modified or animal-derived ingredients, or artificial colors or fragrances.

To buy: Prices range from just $8 to $30 at paiskincare.com. International shipping to the U.S. is only $6.49

February 12, 2009

Fair Trade EveryDay Shea Body Lotion

At Whole Foods recently, my eye landed on EveryDay Shea Body Lotion. Weighing in at a mighty 32 fluid ounces, it’s hard to miss. I assumed its diminutive price tag (just $14.95) would mean lower-quality ingredients. But I pleasantly discovered a very pure product made with unrefined shea butter—the best!—from West Africa.

Pretty Factor: You haven't used shea butter until you've used unrefined shea butter—the only kind that contains the oil's full healing and moisturizing properties. (Most have been bleached, refined and, worst, deodorized!) Raw shea butter's rich, nutty fragrance combined with real vanilla extract make this lotion sensually aromatic. Antioxidants in lemongrass, shea leaf and red palm oil further protect the skin.

Eco Factor: No parabens, synthetic fragrances or animal testing. EveryDay Shea is an extension of Alaffia Skincare, a fair trade company that gives 10% of its sales to community projects in West Africa aimed at reducing poverty and empowering women in poor communities. I have never been happier with a purchase and would have gladly spent twice as much to help this great cause.

To buy: $14.95 at Whole Foods and everydayshea.com. Considering my usual body moisturizer costs twice as much for only five ounces, this is a bargain. It may last all year!

—Jen from Skin Rhythm

February 11, 2009

Giovanni Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner Review

Here in the northern states, the weather has warmed and the days have lengthened. But some wintry effects remain. The earth is still bare and brown...and hair is still indoor heat-beat. To soothe dehydrated locks on a budget, try Giovanni's Smooth As Silk Deeper Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner. They're enthusiastically recommended by a friend—a product switch-a-holic who has used them the entire past year. She says the line "awesomely" tames her thick hair and leaves her scalp feeling fresh for two days. And she's obsessed with the awakening valencia orange, lemongrass, and mango extracts.

Pretty factor: Nutrient-loaded sea kelp, chamomile, and soybean protein, plus a small amount of silicone (just in the shampoo), smooth dry, unruly hair and leave it virtually knot-free post-shower. Rosemary, lemongrass and lavender tone the scalp and encourage hair growth.

Ideal for: Dry, curly or coarse hair. For extra frizz protection, apply a little of the conditioner to the ends of hair after your shower.

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

To buy:
$8 at Whole Foods and drugstore.com

February 9, 2009

Naturopathica Rosehip Seed Regenerating Facial Oil

A couple week ago, guest writer Jen featured Juice Beauty's USDA Organic Facial Moisture Concentrate, which she's been loving lately.  The elixir that I'm enamoured with?  The Rosehip Seed Regenerating Facial Oil by Hamptons-based Naturopathica. 

First, a little info on facial oils.  As we age, our skin's sebum production decreases, causing dryness and dullness. Plant oils—e.g. rosehip, olive, evening primrose, coconut—nourish and hydrate to restore youthful plumpness.  Packed with vitamins and essential fatty acids, they also help reduce redness, fine lines and scarring.  

Should you shy away from face oils if you have oily skin? No! Contrary to popular belief, most plant oils are non-comedogenic.  In fact, many people think that their anti-inflammatory nature actually calms oil production. 

Splurge: Naturopathica Rosehip Seed Regenerating Facial Oil.  Sunflower and rosehip seed oils (rich in vitamins A and essential fatty acids) soften skin and boost collagen production to reduce fine lines and surface scars.  Pomegranate extract neutralizes free radicals and geranium and everlasting (immortelle) essential oils lend a divine aroma that quickly lulls you to sleep.  $40 at naturopathica.com and skinbotanica.com

Save: Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing Serum. I commend Burt's Bees for progressing from their hippie-in-the-woods image and making some quality skin care products the past couple years, including this new serum. It contains a base of repairative rosehip seed oil plus several other moisturizing and antioxidant-rich oils, such as pomegranate.  $26 at drugstore.com

Tip: Worried that facial oils will make your face an oil slick?  Massage just a few drops on slightly damp skin; they'll sink right in.

February 6, 2009

NEW Physician's Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin mascara

Until now, natural mascaras have been the beauty bane of my existence—there wasn't a wallet-friendly option. Lavera, Dr. Hauschka and Tarte's mascaras are sublime, and if I had a full-time job now, I would buy them. But I can't afford to pay $19 for eye makeup that lasts only two months. So confession: I've been using Neutrogena Healthy Volume mascara. I guess we can't be green all the time...

...or can we? Physician's Formula has launched a 100% Natural Origin Mascara to accompany its popular Organic Wear® makeup line! It contains certified organic ingredients and gives nice, thick lashes with minimal clumping or flaking. And could the packaging be cuter?

Pretty factor: Rice protein, tapioca starch, and beeswax naturally adhere to and volumize lashes. Jojoba esters, olive leaf and soybean oil moisture them, while aloe and cucumber soothe and protect the delicate eye area. The lash-separating brush is similar to Cover Girl Lash Blast or Maybelline Define-A-Lash mascaras. It comes in 2 colors (Black and Ultra Black) and is opthamologist-tested.

Eco factor: 100% ECOCERT® ingredients with no parabens, petrochemicals, drying solvents, synthetic polymers, fragrance or dyes. It comes in biodegradable packaging and wasn't tested on animals.

To buy: $9.95 at drugstores nationwide

February 4, 2009

Softlips® Pure Organic Lip Conditioner

During my early teens, Softlips® was the brand for fending off chapped lips: the tall slender tube, the refreshing menthol, the fact that it cost double the price other balms...it was all so sophisticated! 

While I’ve grown and matured, apparently so has Softlips®. Perusing a CVS on a dry, cold day in Boston, I saw a display for its new Pure Organic Lip Conditioner. Actually, I first saw the pomegranate– my favorite fruit—which lured me in like Persephone.

Pretty Factor: The balm is flavorless and colorless, but the organic pomegranate extract leaves a scent that captures the fruit's essence without that over-sweet, bastardized smell  common to fruity products.  Vitamin E, organic shea butter and organic coconut, olive, and jojoba seed oils smooth and moisten your lips for hours without leaving a waxy feeling. I fell asleep wearing some and my lips still felt good when I woke up!

Eco Factor: Softlips® Pure is 95% USDA-certified organic. It is produced without pesticides and contains no parabens or gluten. This cruelty-free balm is also available in honeydew (better for summer) and comes in recyclable packaging.

To Buy: $3.69 at drugstores nationwide and drugstore.com

—Guest blogger Virginia Green

February 2, 2009

Save Your Skin While You Sleep: Hot Water Bottles in Bed

In the spirit of frugality and eco consciousness, I want to talk about a bedtime beauty secret that British and German women have used for years:  the humble hot water bottle.  

At night, turn down your thermostat, fill one of these bottles with hot water, cap, and slide it under the covers. (Insert "Is that a water bottle in your bed, or are you happy to see me? joke here.)

The bottle will heat your bed up to 9 hours. It will also alleviate aches, cramps and soreness and
increase circulation!

Pretty factor:
You’ll have softer skin and smoother hair this winter because hot, dry central heat didn't suck out their moisture.  You can spruce up your bottle (and protect your skin from the hot rubber) by wrapping it in a pillowcase or, for crafty gals,
knitting a little sweater for it.

Eco factor:  Zero energy used. The traditional red or blue bottles are made of latex rubber. They last for years and keep your water the hottest. If you have latex allergies or are averse to buying non-recyclable rubber, you can buy a German-made transparent bottle of thermoplastic material that's odorless and recyclable.

Frugal factor:
You’ll save quite a few bucks on utilities. The latex version costs as little as $3.95. The German version costs about $20 and will also last many years. Most drugstores carry the latex bottles. Click here to buy the German model.

— Jen from Skin Rhythm