An Interview with Meow Meow Tweet's Co-Founder Tara Pelletier

You’ve heard me rave about small-batch, vegan apothecary Meow Meow Tweet before, and my love for their lip balm and other products has only grown in the last few months. Now, we’re getting a little peek inside the brand’s process and background from co-founder Tara Pelletier (keep reading for a sneak peek at a #FridayDeal too…).

How did you get interested in green beauty? 
I got interested in green beauty when I was living in Southern California between my undergraduate and graduate school years. I was cooking in restaurants and helped to open a restaurant that was based on farm-to-table food. It was the first time I’d ever been introduced to seasonal menus, ethical ingredient sourcing and the slow food movement. It made me question a lot of what I was doing and how I was participating in the world.

I wasn’t an especially beauty conscious kid. I barely wore makeup except for a few “gothic” years in high school. But maybe that was more like face paint? When I was little I liked to get dressed up in my mother’s clothes and pretend that I was a witch. We joke that I’m living that dream now with all of my potions.

What’s your superhero origin story?

I grew up in Northeastern Connecticut, in a then rural town (my house was on a  dirt road until I left for college). I went to art school in Baltimore and cooked in restaurants to pay my way through school. After graduating, I moved to San Diego and worked in a handful of restaurants there. When I got into grad school for art, I vowed never to cook in restaurants again. I thought that I couldn’t be an artist and have anything else that I was passionate about. Obviously I’ve learned that isn’t true, since I now run this business and also maintain a studio art practice.

How was MMT born?
Meow Meow Tweet was born out of a dissatisfaction with the part time work that Jeff and I were doing in the art industry. We wanted to have more control over our time and to feel like the work we were doing to sustain our lifestyle was important in some way. We were also urban homesteading, with an indoor garden and a vermicompost.

“When we made our first batch of bar soap and it was a success, we thought of this hare-brained idea that became MMT. I still can’t believe that a company called Meow Meow Tweet exists.”
Meow Meow Tweet Co-Founder Tara

MMT has become a successful cult favorite. What makes it unique?
Meow Meow Tweet’s uniqueness comes from its attitude. It’s fun and playful on the outside but serious about what’s on the inside. From the beginning, Jeff and I never wanted to follow design trends and approached the packaging like little gifts that we make for our customers. Additionally, we wanted to make a completely natural vegan line that was just as effective and pleasurable as other non-vegan natural brands. At the time we were having a hard time finding a company that made sophisticated products with all of our ideals. Also, as I mentioned, I’m a child of the slow food movement and so we’ve taken that approach to skincare and to how we function as a company. We believe in little gestures making a large impact.

What’s next for MMT?
We are in the process of developing a new product line which is almost finished and very exciting. Stay tuned for that next Spring! And more immediately, I’m coming out with a side project of my own natural perfumes under another name. You’ll see that later this Fall.

What are your current top five beauty must-haves that you use every day? Fashion/style pieces?
My top five beauty must-haves are my amazing partner, my cats, some leisure time, a good book and a gorgeous meal; because it doesn’t matter what amazing oils and creams I use, I’ll never feel beautiful if I don’t live a good life. In terms of fashion, a well-fitting pair of pants is very important, as many woman would probably agree.

I couldn’t be more excited about a perfume line from Tara, given how much thought goes into MMT. Haven’t tried the fab line yet? Come back tomorrow for a little Friday Deal incentive to stock up!

How to Mater the Fall 2014 Colored Eyeliner Trend

I can’t, for one second, say that I’m glad to be past Labor Day, letting go of the true days of summer. What I can say is that I’m completely excited about a few of the fall 2014 makeup trends. I’ve always been a makeup junkie and if ushering in colder temps gives me a reason to snag some new beauty products, I’m in.

One makeup trend that seemed to really gain footing in spring 2014 is colored eyeliner. Yes, people, it’s coming back around—bright blue eyeliner. But, like any refreshed trend, this one has a bit of a new twist. Read on for an easy step-by-step how to for making this bold look work for you, thanks to my lovely friend Samjahana Shrestha, founder of Embody Beauty. P.S. That opening photo might be the biggest my head has ever been on the Internet.

Step 1: Foundation + Concealer

Like any classy makeup look, you gotta start with a good base. I love love love INIKA’s Mineral Foundation—it has the best coverage of a mineral makeup that I’ve ever used, it doesn’t settle into creases and it somehow leaves you with a glowing, creamy look, even though it’s a powder. It’s been my go-to foundation since I discovered my beeswax allergy, and the only thing that’s displaced it is a liquid foundation that we’ll talk about another time (promise).

Step 1: Start with a good base, like INIKA Mineral Foundation.

We started by prepping my skin with RMS Beauty’s Beauty Oil, which is a great combo of lightweight oils that easily penetrate skin, leaving it glowing. Next, we used the INIKA Kabuki Brush to buff on the mineral foundation in Unity (though Patience has been my summer color, so think about that). We finished the I-just-woke-up-like-this skin look with INIKA’s Concealer in Light, which Sammy applied under my eyes and on a few angry blemishes.

Step 1: Concealer

Step 2: Contour

Most people usually avoid this nebulous of a term and step we call “contouring,” amiright? I know for a long time I was way more comfortable with adding blush to the apples of my cheeks than I was trying to add definition to my face (what am I, a face body builder? Come on.). Well, for this particular makeup tutorial, you want to bring a little natural depth back to your skin, and you don’t want to go very heavy on the blush, since the color is going to be in the eyeliner. So I challenge you: Try a little contouring with a matte, only-slightly-darker-than-your-skintone bronzer like the Satin Matte one in Mauna Loa from Alima Pure. Just use a foundation brush like INIKA’s to brush on a little bronzer in the hollows of your cheeks, like below.

Step 2: Contour

Then, blend it in really well, so you just end up with soft definition. Start with just a teeeeeensy bit and build if you need more. If for some reason you add too much bronzer, grab your kabuki brush and buff it out, adding a little bit of your mineral foundation to lighten things up. See? Totally contoured, just like a blonde Kardashian.

Step 2: Bronzer Contouring

Step 3: Black Eyeliner + Colored Eyeliner

This is the money maker right here. In order to define your eyes without going overboard, we only lined the waterline of my top lashes with a dark pencil to bring out my greenies without overpowering the colored liner. For this, we used INIKA’s Organic Eyeliner in Black Caviar (which I have previously declared as one of my fave vegan liners, and own in four colors). To tight-line those peepers, look up while gently holding your eyelashes against your brow bone. See that inner rim on the top of your eye, right at your upper lashline? That’s where we lined my eyes, to make my lashes look thicker, therefore defining my eye without a heavy line on my eyelid.

Step 3: Eyeliner

Onto the blue! To complement my green eyes, we chose INIKA’s Organic Eyeliner in Peacock for my colored liner. This is the hallmark of this look, so you want to create a thick line on that bottom lid. We lined both the inner rim and the lashline of my lower lid. The formula of this pencil is really creamy, so it doesn’t tug at your delicate eye skin (ew, eye skin). It does smudge a bit over the course of the day, but that only lends itself to a really lovely, lived-in, trendy look.

Step 4: MascaraStep 4: Mascara

The last bit of definition on your eyes is a few coats of mascara on both the bottom and top lashes. Gorgeous. Mascara is always my favorite step. We used INIKA’s Mineral Mascara in Truly Black.

Step 5: Lips

To keep the focus on your eyes, choose a lippy that only enhances your natural lip color by slightly punching it up. For this tutorial, we used RMS Beauty’s Lip Shine in Bloom, but beware, if anyone is following along in my Vegan Makeup Diaries: This is NOT a vegan, beeswax-free product. I just used it for 27 seconds for this photo, as all the other colors we had at our disposal weren’t a match for my natural lips. If you need a great vegan bare or nude lip color, try Gressa Skin’s Lip Boost in Bare or ILIA Beauty’s Lipgloss in Peek A Boo.

Step 5: Lips

And once you do all of that, you end up looking less like a teenager and more like you could actually buy your own alcohol if you wanted to.

Fall 2014 Makeup Tutorial: Colored Liner

Easy peasy, right? Right. So, since it’s so easy, will you try it? Or will you knock out a different fall makeup trend?

 

 

 

Tabitha James Kraan

I’ve always been picky. Picky about my food, picky about cleanliness, picky about how things are organized, picky about my lip balm. There was span of three years when I refused to wear jeans because they were too “crunchy” (my firework-embellished leggings got a lot of playing time in second grade). My sister still makes fun of me for losing my s when she played too hard with my Barbies and messed up their hair.

My pickiness is ubiquitous, and haircare is no different. I’m more particular about my hair than maybe any other part of me. I’ve always figured that, while I can’t control my hormonal skin and I can’t change the fact that I’m allergic to everything, I CAN make my hair pretty. So, when it comes to color, style or product, my pickiness abounds and my standards are high.

Natural, clean hair products have therefore been a struggle for me. While I knew that these new, toxic-free formulas were better for my hair, I also wasn’t initially finding ones that made my hair look better.

Now, I have my go-tos, products I cling to for dear life, and refuse to sample other formulas, lest I ruin my ‘do for the day. You can therefore understand my hesitation when I got England-based Tabitha James Kraan products in the mail. Pretty packaging, a lovely ingredients list, and a hair perfume (a hair perfume?!) got my attention, but it was the scent that got me to take a leap and actually test the products out.

Each of the three products I tried brings a beautiful blend of essential oils that creates a strong, floral experience that’s long-lasting and girly (for those of you who love a woodsy, unisex scent—these are not for you). I was drawn in by the lack of earthy, granola-y scent you sometimes get with natural brands, and because my nose was pleased, the rest of me was eager to see what other punches TJK was packing.

  1. Dry Shampoo for Fair Hair: If you know me, you know I’m a sucker for a dry shampoo. I only wash my tresses twice a week and I need a little root boost and oil control by day three of a shower cycle. TJK’s brand has the sweetest (like literally, sweet) scent I’ve ever smelled in a dry shampoo and it sticks around the whole day. It actually helps make my hair smell fresh and clean—I find myself thinking “What IS that gorgeous scent?” while walking into a meeting, and then realizing that it’s just my dirty hair. The essential oil blend has highlights of rose, geranium and myrrh, while the powder blend contains unique ingredients like tapioca, chestnut, maize powder and chickpea, all to help suck up oil and create a happy, healthy scalp. Bonus: There’s a dark-haired option for purchase, so you brunettes don’t have to worry about a gray sheen ruining your ‘do.
  2. Scented Hair Oil: Ok, so I keep talking about the smell of these products, but I can’tstopwon’tstop because I think that’s what sets them apart. The Scented Hair Oil might seem like just another oil with sea buckthorn, rosehip, argan, safflower and goji berry, but it’s not because it serves way more than one purpose: It’s a deep conditioning treatment, a styling aid and an emergency, my-hair-is-fried-and-I-don’t-have-time-to-fix-it-before-going-to-a-fancy-party first aid kit (yes, I’ve used it for that before, after a day at the beach when my hair got wrecked and I didn’t have time to shower before an event). It restores, rehydrates and protects against heat styling, weather and harsh color treatments (yes, some of us still do dye our locks…).
  3. Hair Perfume: This is definitely my favorite of the three because of its uniqueness. While the other two can certainly be used as hair perfumes, this one is actually intended to scent your hair if, say, you go to a bonfire and don’t want to wash your hair before work the next day (guilty). It’s kind of like a hydrosol for your tresses, with a base of neroli flower water infused with white tea. The lavender, myrrh and bergamot leave a grounded, lasting scent on your strands and give you a little mood boost too. After applying, I sort of want to dramatically toss my head around like in a shampoo commercial, so all the yummy smells are released into the air.

Verdict: I guess my trust can be bought with essential oil blends, because my pickiness was defeated by this haircare trio. Have you heard of or sampled TJK?

FridayDeal-Mani-PediKit

Nail polish has always been a hot topic of convo in the green beauty world: It’s pretty, and some of us have had a really hard time giving it up, especially when you consider the awesome pampering feeling you get from a mani-pedi after a stressful week or before a big event. Who wants to give that up?

But even some of the five- or seven-free brands we consider safer to use than conventional polish still contain chemicals that you don’t want near your skin if you’re, say, growing a baby inside of you (or if you’re a complete purist—more power to you!).

That’s why Conscious Beauty is teaming up with Scotch Naturals and Organic Bath Co. to give you an incredible Friday Deal. No longer do you have to worry about interacting with potentially dicey ingredients in the foot scrubs, base coats, colors and top coats when you want to get your nails done professionally. Instead, bring a clean, green Mani-Pedi Set with you and be sure you’re getting a toxin-free experience.

Scotch is one of the cleanest brands on the nail-polish market. The line is water-based, with absolutely no chemical solvents, so you can count on it being safer than three-, five- or seven-free brands in terms of purity. Says Merlyn Ellis, co-founder of Conscious Beauty, “I like to recommend this product for the purist, children or expecting mothers.”

If you’ve been around the green beauty world for a while, you know that just because you give up toxins doesn’t mean you have to give up quality products. Thankfully, Scotch Naturals falls into that category of knocking your socks off (in a good way!), sans harmful chemicals.

Pair that with Organic Bath Co.’s organic sugar scrub body and you have a winning team of products to tote to your next mani-pedi. The scrub is lovely and luxe and comes in a few lovely scents (my favorite is RefreshMINT, an invigorating essential oils blend that wakes you up, and gives you a bit of a do-over after a not-so-great day). Plus, they’ve got fair-trade ingredients like sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil and sunflower oil. Yum-my.

Convinced you need to add these products to your arsenal? Here’s the deal: From now until Sunday at midnight PT, get 20% off a BYOB Mani-Pedi Set from Conscious Beauty, Scotch Naturals and Organic Bath Co. The set, usually priced at $70, includes one Sticky Base Coat, your choice of one color and one On the Rocks top coat from Scotch Naturals, plus your choice of one sugar scrub (RefreshMINT, Stress Less or Zesty Morning scents) from Organic Bath Co. Oh, and there’s that cute little reusable bamboo spoon as a bonus. Just use code NMDL at the checkout.

ScotchNaturalsOnce you snag your very own BYOB kit and get ready to bring it to your next profesh mani or pedi appointment, prep yourself for a convo with your manicurist about how to use these cleaner products. Because Scotch is water-based, application of the line requires a few additional steps that you wouldn’t implement with traditional spa brands. To make sure you get a great experience, we’ve compiled a few tips + tricks for a long-lasting mani-pedi. Share these with your manicurist and you’ll be golden.

Application

  • Make sure nail bed is completely clean and free of cuticle oils or alcohol that are often applied in salons prior to application of the unique, sticky base coat. This will ensure a proper base.
  • Scotch calls it the “Sticky Base Coat” for a reason: It doesn’t dry or feel like most base coats. Trust us though—it works and it’s a key part of the system.
  • Wait about two minutes at minimum in between each coat. This allows the polish to set a little before each application.
  • You may need three coats to achieve a completely even look. Err on the side of more coats, as once you apply the base coat, the polish sets even more.
  • After your mani, avoid long stints of contact with water such as washing the dishes, or bathing. Says Merlyn, “I usually do my mani/pedi in the late afternoon or evening and it will stay for around six or seven days beautifully!”

Removal

  • Due to the awesomeness of the Sticky Base Coat, removal can be a challenge. But rest assured that your long-lasting mani or pedi will come off with the proper steps.
  • Soak your nails in water (or better yet, plan on removing the polish after a nice shower).
  • Directly spray the nail beds twice with the Scotch Naturals Soy Remover.
  • Let the remover sit on the nails for a couple of minutes—you’ll start to see the polish lift off the nail a bit.
  • Using a paper towel or something that has a little bit of traction, wipe the polish off your nails (it should come off in clumps and sheets, like it’s just peeling from the base).

Have you tried Scotch Naturals or Organic Bath Co.? Share your favorite color of scent—or which one you’ll snag with this awesome Friday Deal!

Product Review: Laurel Whole Plant Organics

One of my favorite things about the green beauty world as I’ve experienced it is the camaraderie that you feel when you hear the story of how a brand was founded and it aligns closely with your own story of switching to natural products. This is what initially drew me to Laurel Whole Plant Organics (formerly Sequoia Beauty): Laurel, the line’s crafter, started her clean journey when a series of health issues arose. Nothing except natural medicine helped, which inspired her to go back to school to study herbs—and Laurel Whole Plant Organics was born, touting the belief that flower and herb-based skincare from biodynamic, raw, unrefined whole plant ingredients is the secret to glowing, healthy skin.

My story starts similarly, with digestive and lymphatic systems issues that no doctors could solve. So, I took matters into my own hands with lots of research, lots of label reading and lots of annoying soliloquies to friends, family, strangers and anyone within earshot.

Because our paths feel parallel, I had an affinity for Laurel and her line before I got a chance to try it. Then I got my hands on it and it was love at first sight and sniff. That’s why I’m so happy to help welcome Laurel WPO to the A Night For Green Beauty brand lineup! Now, onto the review…

I got to try a number of things from the line, but I want to regale you with my top three favorites, the ones I’ve been using religiously and the ones I’m already scared to run out of:

  1. Facial Elixir for Normal/Mature Skin—This hydrosol contains amazing, hydrating, soothing ingredients that my skin can’t get enough of. My favorite part of the blend is the helichrysum hydrosol, which my skin has been craving lately (it’s in my current face wash too, but more on that later). Helichrysum is a known anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, antiseptic and more. It’s great for healing scars, open wounds and sensitivities. Pair that with powerhouses like rose, calendula, frankincense and licorice and you’ve got a must-have elixir.
  2. Facial Mask: Brighten—I’m having a really hard time not just raving about all these products. This mask is incredible. It’s really gentle on my sensitive skin and I can see it working to repair my scars and dark spots. It has a distinct carrot smell that I find really invigorating in the morning, and it doesn’t contain any clays, which can be drying and stressful to my skin when overused. Comfrey, calendula and gotu kola boost aging skin and provide a glow.
  3. Healing Balm for Face and Body—If every skincare line has a holy-grail product, this is Laurel WPO’s. This balm is magic in a jar. It heals cuts, scrapes, blemishes, bug bites, eczema, dermatitis and more. I recently got a severe underarm rash from who-knows-what and this balm fixed it nearly overnight. Lavender, yarrow and marshmallow combine with, you guessed it, calendula,  comfrey and helichrysum for anti-inflammatory and super healing powers that are unrivaled for me in other healing balms I’ve tried. And, no beeswax!! My skin is healthier and happier.

If you’re looking for a new line to try, this should go to the top of your list. I can’t say enough about the loveliness of its blends, its scents and its performance. Get thyself to their website!

Oh, and did I mention that the first 20 people to the A Night For Green Beauty event on August 7 in LA will snag a treat from Laurel WPO? No? Well, now you know to get there on time! Have you tried Laurel’s line? What do you think of it?