Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Seasonal Favorites

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Here are some products that helped me get into the spirit of the season:

Yellow Stone Bees Tea Tree Peppermint Hand and Body Cream

This cream smells delicious! It's minty and sweet. If I could eat it, I would. 

Sumbody Peppermint Body Soap

This soap is both moisturizing and tingly. I like how it looks like a candy cane. This also smells mouth-wateringly sweet. 

Scrubz Peppermint Scrub

What can I say, I really like peppermint at this time of year. :) The grains in this worked to exfoliate my skin while the oils helped moisturize it. 

WYK Candle in Whispering Pines

The smell of pine makes me think of Christmas. It's fresh without being overpowering. 

bareMinerals Eyeshadow 2.0 in The Top Shelf

I've really been feeling these shimmery eye shadows at this time of year - they seems festive without being garish. This duo contains a champagne color and a light bronze.

I'm going to keep on enjoying these products all the way until Twelfth Night!

~ Susan

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve OOTD

Merry Christmas Eve!

Here's what I wore this evening to dinner with the family and church:

- Faux Wrap Sweater Dress from LOFT
- opaque black stockings
- black ankle boots from Target
- Tiffany bow necklace

I hope you're having a wonderful Christmas!

~ Susan

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December Julep Maven Box

I've been getting boxes from Julep for several months now. They really do have the best nail polish I've tried (and I've tried all the cheap brands at CVS and Walmart, and some of the pricier brands like OPI and Essie). They endure longer than a week when every other nail polish I've ever used has chipped within 2 days. The polish is "3 Free," meaning they do not contain dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, or toluene.

This month I received the "IT GIRL" box which included:

- Rivets Julep Nail Applique
- Helena Julep Nail Vernis
- Julep Fast Dry Topcoat

My little "extra" this month was the Glitter Pot for nails, which is literally glitter for your nails.

I like Julep because of how much freedom they give. Each month on the 20th you get an email previewing what you'll be receiving the next month. Between the 20th and the 25th, you have the option to change the "shelf pull" and switch up what you'll be receiving if you don't like the preview, opt out of receiving a box that month, or send your box to a friend. The boxes are shipped on the 26th, and I usually receive mine around the 1st. Each box is $19.99.

I thought I'd share my December box with you because they have an awesome promo code right now. "SHAREON" gets new members their first box for a penny!

This is my referral link if you'd like to sign up:

Full disclosure -- if you sign up through my link, I get 1 credit. For every 2 a Maven earns, they get a box for free. :)

~ Susan

Monday, December 19, 2011

Green or Unclean: tarte gifted Amazonian clay smart mascara

I got this mascara in a set and I've been using it a couple of weeks. I find that it gives my lashes a feathery look without any clumping or smearing. Like many of tarte's products, this contains Amazonian Clay. The clay is a very effective oil-absorber. By absorbing excess oil near the lash line, this mascara bonds to the lashes more completely. This helps to prevent smearing and smudging, something I have trouble with.

This has a Skin Deep Rating of 4

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Cyclopentasiloxane, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Stearyl Esters, Stearic Acid, Cera Carnauba/Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax/Cire De Carnauba, Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Triethanolamine, Candelilla Cera/Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax/Cire De Candelilla, Acacia Senegal Gum, Vp/Va Copolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Panthenol, Aminomethyl Propanediol, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Kaolin, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499)

There are some surprisingly unclean ingredients for a natural company. Why does propylene glycol seem to be in everything Tarte makes?

Verdict: Clean-ish. Since this received a Skin Deep Rating of 5 or below, I am going to continue to use it. However, in the future, I'll stick to purchasing Physicians Formula Organic wear mascara which seems to have much better ingredients.

~ Susan

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Boscia B.B. Cream

I got a free sample of this with a purchase I made at Sephora a while back.

image from

This product only comes in one shade, a light neutral beige. It claims to self-adjust to your skin tone; however, I think they picked a shade that they thought would fit most skin-tones... it does not match my pale skin. It is too dark and would be even at my tannest.

The texture is light and creamy. It provides good coverage, and I didn't need any extra concealer. By starting at the center of my face and blending outwards, I was able to make it work and I wore it a few times. It took too much effort to warrant a re-purchase. Plus, though Boscia is marketed as a natural company, the list of ingredients just doesn't compare to those in my current foundation by Everyday Minerals.

Overall, I think Boscia B.B. Cream SPF 27 PA++ could be a good pick for someone who is just starting a transition to more natural products (it is formulated without: preservatives, parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances and dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs and triclosan) AND has a medium to tan skin tone.

Ingredients: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Glycereth-26, Dimethicone, Dipropylene Glycol, Arbutin, Beta-Glucan, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, PEG-10 Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Methylsilanol Hydroxyproline Aspartate, Panthenol, Alteromonas Ferment Extract, Phenyl Trimethicone, Acrylates/Dimethicone Coploymer, PEG-10 Dimethicone, Sodium Hyaluronate, Allantoin, Adenosine, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, PEG/PPG-20/15 Dimethicone, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Alumina, Mica, Citric Acid, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Iron Oxide (CI 77499), Iron Oxide (CI 77491), Iron Oxide (CI 77492)

~ Susan

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tarte for True Blood

Target had some good electronic deals on Black Friday, so I picked up a bunch of DVDs, including the first two seasons of True Blood. I've read all the books and loved them, so I assumed that I wouldn't like the show because movies/TV shows are generally never as good as the books they're based on. BUT, I've been hooked into the show. It has the same characters and the same places of interest, but it differs from the books in storyline. It almost seems like a work of fanfiction, or a parallel universe where everything is just slightly different. I think that that's actually a positive, because on one hand, you never know what's coming but you get the same great characters.

ANYWAYS, Tarte came out with True Blood inspired makeup a while back and due to my newly renewed affinity for the series, I decided to get me some Sookie and Pam-endorsed makeup. :)

I got the LipSurgence Natural Lip Tint and the Natural Cheek Stain.

True Blood LipSurgence
The Lip Tint is touted as a "mint-infused, iridescent red shade that drenches lips in a luminous, long-lasting tint." The mint is oddly refreshing and doesn't sting my lips like other mint-flavored products have in the past. The tint seems to last a normal amount of time (around 4 hours sans eating or drinking) for a lip product. This is not as moisturizing as the other LipSurgences I own. Maybe they played around with the formulation, or maybe I just got a weird batch. Mine is more moisturizing than a lipstick, but less moisturizing that a lip balm. The color appears in the tube to be a bright red, but when applied to my lips it takes on more of a pinky shade, I think because my natural lip color is coming through. This makes it a bit more wearable; sometimes I sport it on my lips to work. If you're looking for a really bright, dramatic lip, I would go for the LipSurgence in the shade "Enchanted," which has a deep, rose-colored tint and is one of the brightest lip colors I own. 
True Blood natural cheek tint

I love the color of the Cheek Stain! It is a very vibrant, berry red and is oh-so pretty to look at. I'm torn over the sparkles; some days I like how they catch the light, other times I feel rather stupid for being over 15 years old and sporting sparkles. The formulation took a while to get used to, but as long as you apply to one cheek at a time and being blending it out immediately, this blush can look almost natural. I used to use a cream blush by Clinique - that one was much more blend-able. Because of the glitter, I only wear this at night.

If you like True Blood, check out Tarte's line before these limited edition products are gone!

~ Susan

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hair Pair

I have found a really good shampoo and conditioning pair! I had been looking for hair care items with good ingredients, but it was proving to be quite difficult. Finally, I checked out the Trader Joe's skin care/health section, where I found the Tea Tree Tingle Shampoo & Conditioner.

Shampoo Ingredients: Aqua (purified water), tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil, nettle oil, thyme oil, birch leaf oil, chamomile, clary, lavender, coltsfoot leaf, yarrow oil, mallow, horsetail oil, soybean protein, C12-14 olefinsulfonate (coconut derived), cocamidopropyl betaine, tocopherol (vitamin E), trace minerals, citric acid, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, sodium chloride, grapefruit seed

Conditioner Ingredients: Aqua (purified water), tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, rosemary oil, nettle oil, thyme oil, birch leaf oil, chamomile, clary, lavender, coltsfoot leaf, yarrow oil, mallow, horsetail oil, soybean protein, cetyl alcohol (plant derived), tocopherol (vitamin E), trace minerals, citric acid, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, grapefruit seed

They each cost $3.99 for 16 oz., the price per ounce is the same as Herbal Essence's shampoo and conditioner. Basically, they work and I feel good about using them. :)

~ Susan

Sunday, December 11, 2011

November Favorites

I've been without internet for the past couple of weeks, and now I am SO glad to have it back! Here are my favorites from the month of November.

Tarte Full Coverage Foundation

This is the only foundation I've been wearing recently. It gives me the coverage I want without making my face look cakey of streaky. It feels moisturizing without making me constantly aware that I've got a "mask" of makeup on.

This is only available from, and it comes with a brush, which I don't use. I'm hoping that when I'm through with this tube it will have be sold elsewhere, because I'd rather not get a brush I'm not going to use every time I buy this. /: It's pretty comparable in texture/feel to the smooth operator Amazonian Clay tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 that Tarte sells which is available at a lot more places. The foundation has more coverage and staying power.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush

Mostly, I love the colors they have of these blushes. I also like that they require little thought when applying - one sweep on the cheeks, and I'm good to go. My favorite shade is Exposed, though I own a few others.

I know that Tarte isn't as pure as many other natural companies, but I think they're a good transition for people who are just starting to pursue greener and cleaner makeup choices (i.e.- people like me =D)

Bare Minerals Ready Eye Shadows

These shadows are very smooth and have a really good color payoff.

Trader Joe's Tea Tree Shampoo & Conditioner

I was having a crazy hard time finding a shampoo and condition with really good ingredients. There were a bunch that were almost perfect except for fragrance. Finally, I found these, and I couldn't be happier. Also, these are pretty cheap - $3.99 a bottle. Not as a cheap as say, Suave, but a lot cheaper than the other natural options I was looking at. The bottle says that Trader Joe's worked with a professional boutique to create this - I think it might be Giovanni something or other. They have a tea tree line which looks very similar to this one. Most of Trader Joe's products are created by another company and differ only in packaging and price.

These feel a bit different from other shampoos and conditioners in the shower; my hair feels kind of dry... even though it's wet. Maybe it just feels really clean. As soon as my hair is dry it feels extremely soft AND non-oily. I would continue to purchase these even if I wasn't concerned about ingredients. I wash my hair at night, it air dries while I sleep, in the morning I brush it once and then I'm good to go. No other products needed. :)

Rainwater Botanicals - Herbal Herbal Healing Salve & Intensive Repair Cream

I've been loving all of the things I got from Rainwater Botanicals - especially the moisturizers/salves. My top favorites are the Herbal Healing Salve, which I use on my hands to keep them soft in this cold weather, and the Intensive Repair Cream, which I've been using on my legs. The scents are nice but not overpowering, and they make my skin feel truly moisturized. I've already repurchased both of these.

This past month's dislike: my difficulty with finding a good, facial skin care routine. I've just been washing my face with Tea Tree Soap, and that's it. Maybe that's all I really need. It's definitely the cheapest skin care routine I've had in a long while!

~ Susan

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Favorite Liquid Foundation!

tarte Amazonian Clay Full-Coverage Foundation SPF 15

I'm really happy with my Everyday Minerals powder foundation, and I plan on using it for a long time. However, since the weather has turned cold, my skin has gotten pretty dry, so I was looking for a liquid foundation that would:

- give me full coverage
- not cake or streak easily
- stay put throughout the day

I've tried out a few, including those by Kiss My Face and Origins, but I wasn't really happy with them. When I saw this foundation on I decided to try it out.

My first thought was - wow, this is thick. However, it doesn't feel thick on my face. There isn't that feeling from wearing foundation throughout the day. I think it could be that the clay is soaking up any excess oil I have. Or, maybe it feels so good because I started using a primer again.

This foundation also has excellent coverage. Instead of applying more foundation to problem areas, I only need one layer over my full face and I'm good to go. If I really want to make sure I have a perfect finish, I'll use a powder foundation over this, but one could easily go without that extra step.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Full-Coverage Foundation feels and looks great. :)

UPDATE: It looks like this is now available on tarte's website here. The packaging and name are slightly different, but it appears to be the same foundation. However, QVC offers a lower price plus a brush.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush

These blushes are made with Amazonian Clay - clay that is collected from the Amazon River.

The Amazon River is located in South America and is the second longest river in the world. It is approximately 4,000 miles long and cuts through a tropical rainforest. According to Tarte, as the river flows, it accumulates highly nutritious plant and fruit extracts. At the end of the river, in the basin, clay collects and is imparted with these beneficial nutrients. Tarte uses clay from the basin because this clay has the highest nutrient concentration. After being gathered, the clay is naturally baked by the sun and then milled for use in Tarte products.

Tarte says that this clay has been shown to:
- remove surface oil to mattify skin
- hydrate dry skin
- nourish all skin types
- give skin an overall smooth and even appearance
- reduce the appearance of dryness
- reduce the appearance of flakiness
- improve the appearance of skin clarity
- improve the appearance of skin texture

The formulation of this blush is great. It has enough pigment that I don't have to apply multiple layers to achieve good color payoff. At the same time, I don't have to worry about this blush being too garish - it imparts the perfect amount of color.

My favorite shade is "Exposed." Though it appears brown or tan in the pan, it comes off as a warm pink on the face. I feel sophisticated and pretty when I wear this blush. :)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

BareMinerals Ready Eyeshadow - The Truth

After reading and watching reviews of the new BareMinerals "Ready" products, I got really excited. I have a bunch of loose mineral eye shadows that have good ingredients, but I find them more difficult to use than mineral foundation - because the container/lid it smaller, I end up wasting a lot of product. All the reviews lauded the Ready eyeshadows' pigmentation and butteriness. Also, the eye shadows include a special "SeaNutritive Mineral Complex" that contains powerful antioxidants, cold-pressed borage oil, caffeine, and cucumber. The Complex was formulated to provide anti-aging benefits without any: parabens, sulfates, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, petrochemicals, phthalates, GMOs, or triclosan. Finally, a pressed eyeshadow with good ingredients!

I got a quad in "The Truth." Included shades: Serendipitous (delicate peach), Magnetism (brushed taupe), Fate (light mocha glaze), and Apropos (twinkling espresso).

I like the packaging. Very clean-looking. The material is similar to the one that NARS uses. I know that that can pick up some dirt/dust because of the rubbery texture, but the texture also allows you to get a good grip while applying the makeup.

From top left, clockwise: Serendipitous, Magnetism, Fate, Apropos
I love these eyeshadows! Here's a look using the quad that I wore to work:

I used Seredipitous all over my lid, up to my eyebrows. I put Magnetism in the crease, and Fate on the outer third of the lid to darken it up. (In person the colors make more of an impact.) I think this quad is really wearable for the day, but could also be used at night if you were to use the darker shades to do a smokey eye.

With these eye shadows, I only need to touch the brush to the shadows to pick up a lot of pigment. They're also incredibly easy to blend. They stay really well over a primer. I think I may get some more!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Green or Unclean: Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Whenever I get a zit, I want it to go away quickly. I used to use spot treatments by Neutrogena and Clearasil, but when I was looking at the ingredient list I was surprised how many ingredients there were in such a small product. When I found Mario Badescu's Drying Lotion, I was happy to see a shorter list.

Ingredients: Isopropyl Alcohol, Deionized Water (Aqua), Calamine, Camphor, Colloidal Sulfur, Salicylic Acid,Glycerine, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Talc

This has a Skin Deep Rating of 3
These seemed like much better ingredients than other acne spot treatments. I was surprised to see that the ingredient with the highest Skin Deep Rating was salicylic acid. I've been using products with salicylic acid since I was fifteen, so I'm not so concerned that I'll throw this stuff out, but I will look into this ingredient more and figure out how I feel about it.

The Drying Lotion promises to shrink whiteheads "virtually overnight." It has interesting instructions. The "lotion" looks like a solution with a precipitate at the bottom. At night, after cleansing, toning and moisturizing, you apply some of the lotion to the whitehead. You have to take care to not mix up the solution and only apply the pink sediment to your skin. I think this does help dry out whiteheads, but over a couple of days, not overnight. It performs about the same, or perhaps a little less well than other spot treatments that I use. I have some tea tree oil that I like to use on a more regular basis, and only break out the Drying Lotion when I have a particularly stubborn spot.

Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is greener than other spot treatments, but not effective enough to warrant a re-purchase.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Blissoma Product Review Program

Blissoma, a natural body care and candle company, has begun a Product Review Program. Every month, they choose a bunch of people to test Blissoma products and review them. This month 50 samples were sent out. The products may be new or existing formulations. If you're chosen as a tester and give your feedback on the product, you get a discount on your next purchase as a thank you. =D

 I was chosen as a tester for November's product - the Awake Morning Facial Moisturizer.

Blissoma Awake moisturizer
According to Blissoma's website, Awake is a lightweight day moisturizer that is supposed to firm, brighten, and give antioxidant protection. It is formulated from a combination of brightening and tonic herbs that "creates a lively complexion for you while building protection from the inside out." The ingredients include organic red raspberry seed oil (which offers natural Vitamin E), a blend of essential fatty acids,and Tamanu oil. These ingredients are traditionally known forth their ability to heal sun damage. Witch hazel, lemon balm, and eyebright firm and mattify. Organic Horsetail and Heather Flowers offer natural concentrations of the flavonoid quercetin. Quercetin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and contributes to proper collagen synthesis. Blissoma makes products in small batches with freshly prepared botanical ingredients.

I can't wait to try it out! I'll post a review in two weeks.

If you'd like to sign-up to be a potential tester, go to Blissoma's Facebook page. Once chosen, you'll receive an email with instructions on how to get your review to the company.


At first, I really did not enjoy this sample. It was very watery and felt more like a water-based serum than a moisturizer.

So, I put it aside and didn't think about it for a couple months. When I tried it again the consistency had changed to that of a very think serum. (I have no clue why this happened... maybe it separated during shipping?) I actually like it a lot - it's moisturizing but it doesn't leave any wet spots on the face where less moisture is needed. It sinks in quickly - I am able to apply my mineral foundation a couple minutes after applying this. I also really like the scent. I'm glad I gave this another try!

~ Susan

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ingredient Information

I like to check the Skin Deep Ratings of products before I buy them, but in order to do so I need the list of ingredients. Unfortunately, a lot of companies don't provide the ingredient lists for their products online. Here are a couple of websites that I turn to when that information isn't listed on the company's site:

This website is run by Paula Begoun and gives research-supported reviews of cosmetic products. Paula is big on identifying skin-irritants, which, regretfully, include many natural ingredients. Each review examines the product's claim and gives Paula's professional opinion on whether or not it is warranted.

This is an online community for beauty consumers. Create an account, and you can read consumer reviews posted by other users, post on the message boards, and arrange swaps. The review page of an individual product often contains the product's ingredient list. The ingredients are added by people like you and me, so there are spelling errors sometimes, but I can usually figure out what it's supposed to say.

Once I have the ingredients, I see what Skin Deep has to say. If I want to do a little bit more reading, I'll google the ingredient or search for it on Stephanie's Chemical Database

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lavender Loves

I've been really loving the scent of lavender recently, and I thought I'd share my favorite lavender-scented products.

Lavender Loves <3
Products from left to right:

Dr. Bronner's Hair Conditioner & Style Creme

I use this as leave-in conditioner for my long hair. Dr. Bronner's is a great company - this product is organic, free-trade, and not tested on animals, while the bottle is 100% post consumer recycled.

Ingredients: Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Ethanol, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Lavender Oil, Organic Quillaja Saponaria Extract, Xanthan Gum, Tocopherol 

Bath & Body Works Sleep Pillow Mist

I spray this on my sheets before I go to bed. Vanilla and lavender smell so good together, and I think breathing them in actually does help me relax. When this is gone, I'll make my own mister with distilled water, lavender essential oil and vanilla absolute.

Ingredients are not available.

Dr. Bronner's Organic Hand Sanitizing Spray

The hand sanitizer gel I was using contained triclosan, so I picked up Dr. Bronner's spray at Target to replace it. The smell of lavender is intense! It lingers for a long while after the alcohol has evaporated.

Ingredients: 62% Organic Ethanol, Water, Organic Glycerin, Organic Lavender Oil

Badger Organic Sleep Balm

I rub this balm on my hands and wrists before I go to bed. Once again, I think this smells divine. :)

Ingredients: Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Essential Oils of Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender), Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary Verbenone), Zingiber Officinale (Ginger), Abies Balsamea (Balsam Fir) and CO2 Extract of Zingiber Officinale (Ginger)

Do you have any favorite lavender-scented products?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sephora Friends & Family Sale 2011

Get 20% off of online Sephora purchases at:! If the page says they're having technical difficulties, check back in a couple of hours or try a different browser. (I found out that it doesn't work with Firefox, but it does with Internet Explorer.) The deal lasts through November 2nd. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Haul: Rainwater Botanicals

Rainwater Botanicals, an Etsy shop that specializes in natural bath and body products, is having a fall sale. I had never purchased anything from the store, so I decided to take advantage of 15% off everything (promo code FALLING4FALL) and sample a bunch of its products.

All the stuff I got - I think their packaging it adorable!
Rainwater Botanicals has been around since 1999. The company is committed to using high quality, natural ingredients and offering products at low prices. Their products are paraben-free, phthalate-free and sulfate-free.

Rainwater Botanicals' Etsy shop pages have a lot of text, and were a bit difficult for me to navigate. The titles of different products are cut off, so you need to know what you're looking for in order to find it. (Hopefully this post will help!) The "Shop Sections" bar on the left side of the shop's page is helpful if you know what type of item you're looking for (deodorant, hair care, skin care, etc.). I do really appreciate that all of the ingredients are listed online so you know what's in the products before you buy them. The ingredients are also listed on the packaging as well.

The names of the products don't seem to follow an over-arching naming system, which can make it hard to find the products you're looking for. To make the products I purchased easily search-able, I used the exact names from the Etsy Shop.

I'm in the market for some natural skin care products, so I got one of each of their sample packages of their different skin care lines: Troubled Skin, Nourishing Skin, and Sea Buckthorn Nutritive. My skin seems to pretty much hate my current routine (I finally switching from my Clinique 3-step), and I'm hopeful I'll some of this stuff.
Try Me Size Troubled Skin Care Kit

This kit contains samples of:
- Troubled Skin Toner
- Troubled Skin Serum
- Troubled Skin Facial Cream
- Troubled Skin Facial Soap
- Pimple Potion

Nourishing Facial Try Me Travel Size Kit

This kit contains samples of:
- Nourishing Facial Toner
- Nourishing Facial Serum
- Nourishing Facial Cream
- Nourishing Facial Soap
- Eye Serum

Sea Buckthorn Skin Care Try Me Kit for all skin types

This kit contains samples of:
- Nutritive Face & Body Lotion
- Nutritive Day Hydration
- Intensive Eye Cream
- Nutritive Facial Soap
- Sea Buckthorn & Pomegranate Serum

The long awaited sample size deodorants
I've been looking for the perfect natural deodorant.

I got the sample kit of all the deodorants - there are two different sample kits, one offers samples of all 8 scents, the other offers samples of 3 of your choosing. I also got a full-size deodorant in Lavender Vanilla since my boyfriend always liked it when I wore my Lavanila deodorant in that scent.

Dead Sea Mud & Pumpkin Facial Mask Antioxidants and Enzymes
I love masks, they make my skin feel so good. I got the sample size of both masks that Rainwater Botanicals sells.

The Dead Sea Mud contains a large range of highly concentrated minerals. It helps to remove excess oil and dead cells from the skin's surface. This 1 oz. jar can provide 4 to 5 facials.

The primary ingredient in the Pumpkin Facial Mask is... pumpkin! According to the website, pumpkin is a rich source of antioxidants & enzymes that act like alpha-hydroxy acids and that can help reverse the signs of aging.  This 1 oz. jar can provide 3 to 5 facials.

Antioxidant Facial Serum Woodland Blueberry &
Skin Repair Serum For Scars Wrinkles and Acne

I've been trying out a bunch of different serums. I'm over moisturizers - serums hydrate my skin without leaving a sticky feeling behind all day, and these: a) are really cheap for serums packed full of antioxidants and b) have great ingredients.

Intensive Repair Cream for face and body

This face and body cream is formulated with antioxidant oils and extracts to battle the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, scars, acne, and stretch marks.

Herbal Healing Salve for Natural Healing

This was Rainwater Botanicals's first product. They say this is good for all sorts of ailments - cuts, scrapes, cracked skin... I thought this could be useful to have, so I got the smaller size to keep in my purse even though the larger size is a much better price per ounce.

Moisturizing Coconut and Dead Sea Salt For Hair

I'm hoping this spray will give me beachy waves. There's another version without coconut, but my hair is pretty dry, so I went for this version.

Free Samples!
I was pleasantly surprised when I found that some free samples were included in my package!

This is a full size of the Ginger Nut Tinted Lip Balm and samples of two of their natural perfume oils. I already tried out the Lip Balm - smells like gingerbread - sooo good!

I feel good about all the things I got - they have great ingredients - and I'm looking forward to trying them all out. There was an issue with my order - an item I bought got left out - but Sara (the shop owner?) responded to my message within an hour and I got a notice of shipment from USPS within two! Honestly, that just made me like the shop more because this is the fastest response I've ever gotten from a company.

The coupon code lasts until October 31. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Argan Oil

Less than a year ago, I never would have considered putting moisturizer, let alone oil, on my face. I've had issues with break-outs since high school and was always careful to purchase oil-free foundations and to eschew moisturizers because I believe that they would just make my skin worse. However, after watching/reading many skin-care routines online, I realized that a lot of people attributed their good skin to moisturizing daily. After adding moisturizer to my skin-care routine, my skin looks the best it ever has! (Not awesome, but much better than before.)

I've been having trouble finding a clean, natural facial moisturizer, so I've starting using an oil to moisturize. Right now I'm trying out Argan oil.

Like all oils, Argan oil helps to keep the skin moisturized. Argan is specifically promoted as being able to minimize fine lines and heal acne blemishes and scarring.

I purchased this oil from I've been using it on my face at night after I cleanse and tone and on my hair while it's still damp. So far everything's good. I haven't seen a great improvement over my old moisturizer, but I haven't broken out like crazy like I used to fear I would with the slightest bit of oil coming into contact with my face. My hair also looks better on the days that I treat it with Argan oil. Once my hair is done air-drying, I'm good to go without any styling.

Have you ever used an oil as a moisturizer? Do you have a favorite facial moisturizer to recommend?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review: Origins VitaZing SPF 15 Energy-Boosting Moisturizer with Mangosteen

Everyone seems to really like the VitaZing moisturizer by Origins, so when I had the chance to get a sample a while ago I did. This moisturizer promises to hydrate, energize, and protect your skin. Though it appears white at first, this moisturizer gains a tint when applied to the skin that is supposed to impart radiance.

This has a Skin Deep Rating of 4
The skin-tone matching ability seems a bit off, this product came off as too dark/orange for me. It also makes my skin look greasy, so I need to use powder to set it... so there's no point for me to use this instead of a regular moisturizer.

Active Ingredients: Avobenzone (3%), Octisalate (3%), Octocrylene (2.7%)

Other Ingredients: Water; Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Flower Water, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Water, Ethyl Macadamiate, Butylene Glycol, Methyl Trimethicone, Hdi/Trimethylol Hexyllactone Crosspolymer, Lauryl Peg-9 Polydimethylsiloxyethyl Dimethicone, Peg-100 Stearate, Butyloctyl Salicylate, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Barosma Betulina Leaf Oil, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus) Leaf Oil, Abies Sibirica (Pine) Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Amara (Bitter Almond) Kernel Oil, Mentha Arvensis (Field Mint) Leaf Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Oil, Limonene, Panax Ginseng (Ginseng) Root Extract, Cordyceps Sinensis Extract, Garcinia Mangostana Peel Extract, Castanea Sativa (Chestnut) Seed Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Extract, Laminaria Saccharina Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Caffeine, Cholesterol, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Cetyl Alcohol, Isopropyl Myristate, Trehalose, Ethylhexylglycerin, Linoleic Acid, Squalane, Polymethyl Methacrylate, Dehydroxanthan Gum, Ascorbyl Tocopheryl Maleate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Caprylyl Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Citric Acid, Stearic Acid, Silica, Sodium Dehydroacetate, Phenoxyethanol, Mica, Iron Oxides, Titanium Dioxide

The ingredient list - which wasn't included with the sample, don't you hate it when that happens? - was crazy-long. It was interesting to note that the ingredient "limonene," which can be found in citrus, has the highest rating out of all of them.

I'm glad that I didn't buy this, as it's quite pricey ($35 for 1.7 oz.) and it doesn't work for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Green or Unclean: Benefit Powderflage

Benefit Powderflage is a concealer, but I use it as a setting powder for my concealer. It
 really helped with the problem I was having with mascara transfer. It can also be used to camouflage fine lines, dark circles, and spots. It comes with a brush, but I find that it just gets the powder everywhere, so I use my finger to apply.

This has a Skin Deep Rating of 3
 Ingredients: talc, mica, silica, dimethicone, titanium dioxide, hdi/trimethylol/hexyllactone crosspolymer, vinyl dimethicone/methicone/silsesquioxane crosspolymer, dimethicone, vinyl dimethicone crospolymer, trimethylsiloxysilicate,ethylene/methacrylate copolymer, ultramarines, manganese violet, polymethyl, methacrylate, sodium dehydroacetate, methylparaben, propylparaben, isopropyl titanium triisolstearate, iron oxides, tin oxide, tocopherol,glycinre soja(soybean)oil, ascorbyl palmitate

This has a decent rating (on the low side of "moderate hazard"), so I'll use it up; however, it has parabens, which I really want to avoid, so I won't be re-purchasing.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sephora Haul

I'd been waiting for a good deal to come up before I made another purchase from This month's VIB promotion is a gift set from Smashbox including O-GLOW! As soon as I saw it, I decided to buy some things things from my wishlist.

Korres Buttered Up - Pomegranate

The Glaze has a Skin Deep Rating of 2
This has a Skin Deep Rating of 4
 This set comes with a Lip Butter and a Lip Butter Glaze. Doesn't that color look gorgeous?

smashbox studio must-haves (VIB promo)

  • Fusion Soft Lights in Baked Starburst
This has a Skin Deep Rating of 5
 I'm not sure what I'll end up doing with this...
  • O-GLOW Intuitive Cheek Color
This has a Skin Deep Rating of 0
 The one on the right came with this set. The one on the left is the full-size, for comparison. For more information on this product's ingredients click here.
  • Bionic Mascara
This has a Skin Deep Rating of 2.
 It's always nice to have more mascara. :)

I'm very pleased with everything I got! If you're a VIB, you can get this Smashbox kit with the code "VIBSMASH3".

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Favorites

I don't have a lot of favorites this month, just a few products that I continually reached for.

1. J.R. Watkins Hand & Cuticle Salve in Lemon

I love how this smells. I rub in some sort of cuticle treatment whenever I watch T.V.

2. Everyday Minerals Blush in Sand Cherry and Lucent Powder in Wet Sand

This has been my no-brainer cheek combo for September. I use Sand Cherry as my blush and Wet Sand as a highlighter.

5. Yes To Carrots C Me Blush Lip Tint in Ready Red

I haven't really been feeling full-on lipstick. This give my lips some color, but I don't have to worry about it traveling off my lips during the day.

I can't believe September is over - it barely feels like fall. Here's hoping that fall weather settles in for good before the end of October!

Green or Unclean: Smashbox O-GLOW

Image from Sephora,com

 I purchased this "Intuitive Cheek Color with Goji Berry-C Complex" around six months ago after seeing TiffanyD use it on YouTube. This gel blush starts out clear and then changes to pink when warmed up by your body heat. Smashbox claims that this blush is intuitive because each person will have a slightly different shade - they say the shade that you get is what you color you would blush naturally. When I use this, it immediately turns a bright pink when I squeeze a bit out on my fingertips; the pink deepens as I apply the blush to my cheeks. It's a bit scary at first, but tones down to a more moderate (but still bright) pink after a few minutes. I suppose the color is similar to the flush I get when I'm working out vigorously, but it's much more pink than what I consider to be my natural cheek color.

I hadn't heard anything about Smashbox being a natural cosmetic company, so I hadn't put this blush in with my "clean" ones. I finally ended up looking it up on Skin Deep and was very pleasantly surprised. It has a Skin Deep Rating of 0!

Ingredients: Cyclomethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Isononyl Isononanoate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Punica Granatum, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Polysilicone-11, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Lycium Barbarum Fruit Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Plankton Extract, Red 27 (CI 45410)

I'll definitely keep Smashbox in mind when I make future makeup purchases.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

D.C. VegFest

Yesterday I went to the D.C. VegFest with my family.

We arrived promptly at 11:00am when the Festival started, and there were already tons of people there. VegFest is definitely attracted a bunch more people than it did only a couple of years ago!

There was a lot of good food.

And a lot of good information. According to the United Nations, the meat industry is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The meat industry is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined. To me, being vegetarian is a logical choice for anyone looking to become more green.

If you'd like information on becoming vegetarian, I recommend