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 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

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

—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 and

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 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

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

—Jen from Skin Rhythm