A spring routine! This one makes us want to hop on a bike and let the breeze run through our hair. So fresh.

Name: Erin Gibbs

Age: 35

City: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Current Weather: Springy, mix of rain and beautiful sunny days with lots of pink cherry blossoms in bloom!

Skin: Fair, combination, oily and acne-prone during hormonal times, recurring eczema on my right eyelid

Hair: Fine, dry and curly, mousy brown with a few ‘natural highlights’, almost shoulder-length

Favourite Star from the past: Lillian Gish’s soft curls and fair skin are mesmerizing and any of the women from Rides are Bike are great:

First thing…

Try to take a few deep breaths and will myself out from under the cosy covers.

In the shower…

From time to time I dry brush, but usually I just hop in the shower right away. I’m a pretty basic lady, so Dr. Bronners mint liquid soap and an exfoliating cloth for my body are my jam. I wash my hair fairly infrequently, alternating between shampooing with Dr. Bronners or using conditioner to clean my scalp. I rinse and then finger comb conditioner through my hair without rinsing. It’s either left to air dry or lightly diffused. I’m interested in trying henna to make my mousy hair colour a bit more rich—any suggestions are welcome.

I use a bulk conditioner from The Soap Dispensary, a wonderful natural personal care and home cleaning shop here in Vancouver. Conditioner doubles as shaving cream or I’ll sometimes swap in bulk coconut oil from The Soap Dispensary.

I’ve recently become hooked on Dr. Sponge konjac sponges and bring one into the shower with me each morning for a short but sweet spa-like face massage. My feet get a scrub with a dual sided pumice paddle thingy (technical term!).

Out of the shower…

If I’m feeling motivated, I moisturize my body either with some coconut oil, hemp seed oil, rosehip oil, shea butter or a mix (all bulk from The Soap Dispensary!). Most days I don’t bother as it’s quite humid in Vancouver. I do pay attention to my right hand that has a patch of eczema on the pinkie finger that just won’t quit. It gets special treatment with some Weleda Skin Food, Egyptian Magic or other concoction.

Deodorant has always been a challenge and my personal fave, Aromarant is now discontinued at Lush. I’ve been using the Aromaco solid deodorant, but I’m not a big fan of patchouli (despite living on the west coast) and I haven’t checked how green the ingredients are. Other deodorants give me the dreaded red, rashy pit!

Pearly whites get a brush with Jason Seafresh toothpaste. During my period I rely on the miraculous Diva Cup. It’s changed my life and I love it. Easy for everyday and great for travel. Discreet, clean and zero waste!

If I haven’t showered, I use one of several facial cleansers: Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Balm, Antipodes Juliet Skin-Brightening cleanser, or rosehip/hemp oil. That’s followed up by a spritzing of homemade toner of alcohol-free witch hazel (from The Soap Dispensary), with a few drops of lavender and tea tree oil mixed into the bottle. I moisturize either with a few drops of the aforementioned rosehip or hemp seed oil.

Sunscreen seems silly for three-quarters of the year when it’s overcast and raining, however I recently picked up MyChelle Sun Shield Unscented SPF 28, so we’ll see how that goes once the sun makes an appearance.


Since going green and clean have accumulated a lot of makeup through the trials and tribulations shipping international items to Canada. My daily look is quite natural in any case.

I start out with Lavera Natural Liquid Foundation (Porcelain 01). I am trying out bareMinerals Original foundation (Light W15), but it seems to make my pores look bigger, my eczema show more and my skin itch!  Any suggestions for a foundation/tinted moisturizer available in Canada with a bit more coverage than Lavera would be great.

For concealer, I was using Jose Maran Argan Creamy Concealer (Light 1) and have since stopped as it collected in the creases below my eyes. I just picked up the bareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener, and am underwhelmed with its ability to cover my very dark under eye circles. I would love some suggestions for a concealer that stays put, covers dark circles and is available in Canada. RMS “Un”coverup was a slippery mess on my face.

My brows are filled in with a sample of Capitalism 913 from W3ll People. Eyelids get a sweep of Sway from Ilia. Eyeliner like W3ll People Hypnotist tends to migrate under my eyes in no time, so often a bit of Capitalism 913 along my lash line applied with an angled brush is safer. I would love to achieve the cat eye look with a natural product.

For mascara, I’ve been pretty happy with Benecos Natural Mascara Maximum Volume in Deep Black. Cheeks get some love from RMS Lip2Cheek in Modest. Some experiments using beet root powder (from The Soap Dispensary, of course) to make cheek tint are in the works now. Brow bones, cheek bones and cupid’s bow get a dab of RMS Living Luminizer or W3ll People Universalist 2. My lips get a swipe of coconut oil or Arabian Nights by Ilia.


I try to drink a mug of warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar each morning. For mental and physical health, I ride my bicycle for fun and to get around this beautiful city. Occasional Yamuna Body Rolling helps stretch out my muscles and keep chronic back issues at bay. Most importantly, I do my best to make time for my husband so we can laugh at/with each other, at a movie or out watching an improv show. We made 2014 The Year of Funny in our home and it has already made such a difference!

Green and Clean Focus…

My ongoing challenge with developing a green and clean beauty regime is packaging.  As a designer, I LOVE pretty packaging. As a lover of the earth, I get huge pangs of guilt when buying new beauty and personal care products, even if the packaging is recyclable or reusable. Bea over at Zero Waste Home has her routine down pat, however I’m not quite ready to be as minimal as she is. I’m also quite inspired by Dawn Michelle of Minimalist Beauty. What I want to know is, how do NMDL community members deal physically (and emotionally!) with all of the containers and shipping materials from these wonderful, but waste-producing products? What mutli-use products do you use while maintaining your beauty routine and looking pulled together?

Great question, Erin! Let us know your favorite eco-friendly multi-use products in the comments.

Oh to be Lola’s friend so we could play makeup together! Rest assured, we would never fault you for your RMS habit, darling.

Name: Lola

Age: 36

Where I live: Brooklyn

My relationship with makeup: evolved with time. My parents didn’t let me wear makeup, so I would wait until my mother left for work and sneak a swipe of her khaki-gold eye pencil before leaving for school (I’m still a little obsessed with that color). I started college at 16 and became a club kid, which meant lots of glitter everything. Then, an absolutely remarkable makeup artist at the very first MAC store on Gay Street taught me the art of the eye makeup and I became the girl who would spend 40 minutes and use 5 eye shadows to achieve the “no makeup” look. These days, I’m a busy working mother and can’t be bothered with any makeup at all on a daily basis, but I still love a dramatic eye for a night out. I also love to experiment with color—mostly on my eyes. My mother (who has amazing skin) instilled in me a hatred of foundation, so I’m a big fan of the bare-skinned look and limit myself to concealer and tinted moisturizer. Whatever happens in my own life, though, I love the artistry of makeup and its transformative power.

I clearly have a bit of an RMS habit. I use the un-coverup in 22 as concealer/spot-foundation, the living luminizer, a bunch of the shadows (solar, karma and magnetic), the buriti bronzer, the lip shine in Sublime and the Lip-to-Cheek in Diabolique, which is a perfect and much more wearable dupe for my old dirty fave Armani lipstick, which I offloaded on my mum. I also use the Un-powder, but it doesn’t fit into my makeup bag.

Eyes: I love the RMS shadows—they are just so easy. I either do a smokey eye using karma and magnetic, alone or together or load up on solar and the Luminizer for a soft, glowing look. I still use my dirty Armani eyeliner and Eyes to Kill mascara. I’m anxiously awaiting some reviews of the new RMS mascara because I’m hoping it might replace the Armani. The little black tool on the right of the Luminizer is my Japonesque travel eyelash curler. I can’t live without that thing. I used to be a Shu Uemura curler acolyte, but this little thing is sooo much better and easier to control, plus it’s super-portable.

Skin: I just ordered the Ilia powder (that’s the fat metallic tube) and I’m so thrilled with it. I love brushes preloaded with powder. It’s perfect for getting rid of excess shine, yet leaves my skin soft, dewy and not-at-all dry. It’s colorless, just like the Un-powder, so I imagine it would suit most complexions. I do still like the Un-powder as well, so I tend to alternate between the two. The Suntegrity 5-in-1 is the only bit of makeup I wear every day. I love the texture and the color and it’s loaded with fabulous ingredients. It provides light coverage, but I really don’t need anything much heavier and it never settles into fine lines or looks dry. Finally, the Buriti bronzer is something I use on special occasions (unlike the Luminizer, which is my night out staple) and I love how subtle it is.

Lips: For lips, aside from the RMS, I mostly use Hurraw balms, but I love the Yuli Lip Treatment (it makes a great moisturizing base for the somewhat drying Diabolique) and the Ilia White Rabbit lip gloss (it’s perfectly sparkly and makes me happy).

The last parts of my makeup bag are my natural fragrances and essential oils. Here I have the Leilani Bishop Lilac roll-on, the Essence of Vali perfume, the H. Gillerman tension remedy (awesome for headaches and I get tons of compliments on the smell) and the EoV Calm Spray. I’ve a lot more oils in my arsenal, so I rotate them depending on where I’m going and how I’m feeling. Oh, and the pretty, floral makeup bag is from Liberty in London. I have a matching, larger toiletries bag and I am obsessed with them. Having a nice cosmetic bag really does make packing so much ore pleasant!

Here’s a lovely routine from one of our readers, who also happens to have her own blog called Well Beauty. We love her range of choice and her description of the konjac sponge—like washing with fluffy clouds. Yes! Read on.

Name: Cori

Age: 30

City: Phoenix, Arizona

Current Weather: warm and sunny, highs in the low to mid 80s

Skin: fair and neutral-toned. I’m dry in the winter and combo in the summer, so my skin is transitioning into being a little more oily but still pretty dry on my cheeks.

Hair: Naturally blond and curly. Since making the switch to let my curls run free, it is a lot healthier and softer!

Favorite star from the past: It has to be Marilyn Monroe, Some Like it Hot is one of my favorite movies

Every day starts with Greens First! While it’s not a beauty product, I believe that beauty starts from within and I have to start my day with a healthy drink. I just whisk it with some water, add a couple of ice cubes and its ready. For breakfast, it’s usually just two eggs.

After breakfast (and Greens First), I brush my teeth with Earthpaste in Cinnamon. I was hesitant to give up the traditional foaming toothpastes (even the all-natural kind), but I LOVE Earthpaste. I’m on my 4th or 5th tube of it. Since cinnamon oil is naturally antimicrobial, I have been sticking with it rather than the other flavors.

In the shower, I have been alternating between two shampoo/conditioner combos: Rahua and Surya Brasil Color Fixation line. They are both great, so I alternate back and forth to keep my hair from getting bored. After shampooing, I apply the conditioner and let it sit a few minutes while I finish the rest of my shower routine. While I’m a big fan of bar soap, lately I have been using Gabriel’s Seaweed Body Wash—it has a really clean, green smell to it (NOT seaweed-y at all). It cleanses well and doesn’t dry out my skin. It works really well for shaving too! Since discovering the Natural Konjac Sponge company, I’ve been loving body washes because I get a ton of suds and the konjac sponges are like washing my body with little puffy clouds. They are WAY better than the traditional plastic shower poofs (or whatever you call them). After rinsing out my conditioner, I wash my face with ARCONA’s berry bar and will use the face wash to also wash my neck, chest and upper back to prevent any breakouts. A few times a week, I’ll use the Clarisonic with the sensitive head on my nose, chin and forehead.

Once I’m out of the shower, I’ll towel dry my body but I use the DevaCurl towel to lightly dry my hair. Since going curly, I have to be sure to not be too rough with drying my hair. Using the DevaCurl will prevent it from being dripping wet, but not more than that. I then spray my hair with Surface’s Trinity Protein Cream and comb my hair with a wide toothcomb. I’ll then loosen it from my scalp a little with my fingers, being gentle not to disrupt my hair too much.

While my hair is air-drying, I apply Blissoma’s Smooth A+ serum all over my face and then ilike’s age defense bioflavanoid moisturizer, focusing on my drier parts of my face.

With my face taken care of, I apply Farmaesthetics Midnight Honey Oil to my arms and legs and anywhere else that needs some extra moisture. While it says midnight, I have been using this every morning and love it. The soft, rich honey scent is calming and not too heavy and the oil is really moisturizing and sinks in quickly. I then apply deodorant, which lately I have been alternating with Schmidt’s Lavender+Sage, Colorado’s Pit Stick or Primal Pit Paste in Thyme & Lemongrass, all three work great.With my hair having a little time to let the protein cream sink in, I gently scrunch it using the DevaCurl towel again and then don’t touch it until it is dry. I found that to be the best way to get great curls—touching my hair as little as possible.

Now for the makeup! I have to start with mascara because I make a complete mess with it! I like Jane Iredale’s Longest Lash mascara, it adds a lot of thickness to my lashes. After applying (and cleaning up) my mascara, I apply foundation. My go-to foundation is Jane Iredale’s BB Cream, I use BB3. I usually prep my skin with Jane Iredale’s Smooth Affair primer than apply the BB cream with a beauty blender sponge. The beauty blender sponge is seriously the best invention ever; it makes my makeup look flawless. With my fair skin, I need blush to put some color on my face. I really love Nvey Eco’s blush in 957—it’s a great neutral pink that gives me natural color.

If I’m in a hurry, I will just leave it at that, but if I have some extra time I will apply eye shadow and liner. If I do wear eye shadow, I apply Tarte’s Clean Slate eye primer. While not the most ‘green,’ it is better than some others and works really well (and if you have any recs for more natural eye primers—I’m all ears!). I’m always changing up which eye shadows I wear (because I own a LOT and am getting new ones all the time), but my go-to ones are Silk Naturals. My favorite colors are Purrr, Naughty and Fete. For eyeliner, I use Au Naturale’s in Coco if I want to use a brown or Living Nature’s midnight if I want a black. They are both great eye pencils.

I usually don’t wear lipstick to work, unless I have an important meeting, so I just swipe with some lip balm. I have been using MVO’s Pacific Lip Treatment and it is seriously amazing. Super moisturizing and I swear has even plumped up my lips a little too! For perfume, I have been reaching for Honore Des Pres Love Coconut lately. It’s a great scent for spring, very fresh with a true, just opened coconut—not the fake coconut smell like suntan lotions can have.

Then it’s off to work! Once I get to work, my hair is all dry so I use Max Green Alchemy Pomade to define my curls and add shine, and then spritz with Intelligent Nutrients Hairspray to keep my curls all day.And voila! I’m set for the day.

Here’s a fun makeup bag from a fellow blogger. She’s a lot like us (and you!) in her focus on a clean, healthy lifestyle. Enjoy!

Name: Sara Jane Mercer

Age: 32

Home: TriBeCa, New York City.

My relationship with makeup:

I have loved makeup since I was a pre-teen. I grew up in NYC and have vivid memories of going to the makeup counters at Bergdorfs and Barney’s and trying slews of products.  I have never been very good at doing my own makeup but have always loved having it done for me for events, parties and photo shoots for my website.  My products choices have evolved over the years and now I only use clean, non-toxic, safe products. There are so many amazing clean makeup brands now that there is no reason to compromise my health and safety.

Nowadays my everyday makeup routine is very, very simple. I have a baby daughter and spend my time either working from home or taking her to the playground and music classes so no need to “put my face on.” Plus I think I natural look, glowing look is much more appealing.

Baggu Pouch: My makeup bag is a Baggu black leather pouch that my amazing friend Stephanie had monogramed for me. I am more than slightly obsessed with it.

NveyEco Concealer: I have always had persistent dark circles under my eyes and having a baby has just exacerbated to the problem. This concealer makes me look more rested than I am!

RMS Living Luminzer: To be honest I have not really slept well since before I was pregnant. This is like 8 hours of sleep in a pretty little jar. A little on my cheekbones, under my eyebrows, and down the bridge of my nose makes me feel and look awake and alive.

JCrew Metallic Hair Tie: I am constantly pulling my hair pack so my daughter does not pull or chew on it. These super cute hair ties look much better on my wrist than a plain black one!

Givescent: I am not a scent person at all. I don’t burn candles in my house, or use any type of room spray. Also because I am still nursing my daughter I need to be super careful what is on my skin. Givescent is the only scent I like, ok love and because it is made from all essential oils I feel safe wearing it.

W3LL People Hypnotist Eyeliner: When I want a little more of a made up look for dinner with my hubby or drinks with friends I use a little of this eyeliner on my top and bottom lash line.

Ilia Lip Gloss in Peek-a Boo: I have basically no upper lip and have never really worn dark lip colors or lip stick. This super hydrating lip gloss  is the perfect everyday nude color.

Beautycounter Lip Shine: This ultra shiny clear gloss reminds me of a clean version of a certain sticky, shiny gloss that was uber popular when I was in college.

Beautycounter Lip Sheer in Petal: This lightly pigmented lip color works just as well on my cheeks as it does on my lips. I am all about multitasking!

Kjaer Weis Mascara: A few years ago it was almost impossible to find clean mascara that was also effective at darkening and lengthening lashes. I love Kjaer Weis’s mascara and their packaging is super gorgeous- an added bonus.

Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler: The only “conventional” brand in my makeup bag but no one makes a better eyelash curler.  Makes my eyes look huge!

What do you have in common with Sara’s makeup collection? Let us know!


Help! Steph’s Skincare Woes

We get it. Going clean is full of challenges. It can be frustrating and disheartening to have the best intentions but the worst results. Our hearts go out to Steph, a reader who wrote in seeking your advice. Take a look at her letter:

“I think I’m probably the only person in this community who, since going natural, organic, and “clean” with everything from diet to cosmetics and skincare products, has reacted badly and not actually seen an improvement. It leaves me feeling so deflated because in the beginning I was so excited to move into this world of clean beauty and sift through my products and routine to find better, healthier alternatives for myself.

I started by visiting a naturopath and then consequently, coming off of birth control (I’d been on Nuva Ring for the past couple of years) and even though I was never on birth control to help with acne, when I finally came off it, my skin went haywire. I got horrible cystic acne, redness and horrible inflammation—my skin was brutal.

Ever since then I’ve been fighting against my skin and my body and more symptoms have come up. I now have a near constant flaking scalp, flaking skin, itchiness, and my face is still a mess. I have lost so much confidence and feel myself getting more and more depressed over this.

I have pretty much tried everything—you name it—diet changes (gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, etc.); changing all my products—haircare, skincare, makeup, etc.; supplements (specialized for hormones, zinc, vitamins a-d, omega 3s); I’ve visited doctors, aestheticians, nutritionists, anything and everything! I’m now writing to you because as I said in the beginning of my email I feel like I’m the only person who since changing everything has gone from okay to worse!

I don’t want to go back to using items that have so many chemicals, so many things I cannot pronounce. Your book and the wonderful community at NMDL is so enlightening and amazing to read. I’m just hoping that maybe someone could offer any suggestions for anything else that I may not have heard or known about or have any similar situations they went through themselves. I would really appreciate any feedback you and this lovely community may have!”

We know that health and skin issues are very personal and it can be difficult to get to the root cause. We’re interested in knowing whether you’ve had a similar experience. What worked for you? Did you give up your clean routine? Let’s show Steph some love and support!