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 K√©rastase 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