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?

Victoria's Morning Skin and Hair Routine... Exposed!

 

We’re just a lucky bunch of blog readers to get a glimpse inside the beauty mind of La Bella Figura co-founder Victoria Fantauzzi. We’ve raved about LBF’s products before and if you’ve tried them yourself, you know that they’re all winners. Victoria is also a co-founder of A Night For Green Beauty (she’s leading the organizing charge with her team, Goodebox, Pressed Juicery and The Chalkboard Mag!), and we’re so excited to celebrate with her come August 7 in LA (you’ll be there too, right?). But to tide us over, here’s her nighttime skin, hair and makeup routine (including a peek at LBF’s new makeup line!)—exposed!

Name: Victoria
Age: 45
Hometown:  Chicago currently, Barcelona in my heart.
Current Weather: Warm, humid and sunny
Hair: Medium length, wavy, dark brown and virgin. I’ve never dyed or colored my hair.
Skin: Medium, olive complexion
Favorite star from the past: Rita Moreno (and she is still gorgeous, smart and superactive)

Nighttime Routine:

I’m going to be really honest here, these days I’ll would much rather take a nice bath over going out on a Saturday night any time! Alone time, good music and a bath is pure heaven for me. I play a little bossanova or old school jazz and light a gorgeous candle. My favorite is called Yucatan Peninsula by Coqui Coqui and it really sets the mood for relaxation and indulging. I like to infuse my bath water with essential oils or if I’m really needing it some scented bath salts. I then saturate my hair with a DIY mix of coconut vinegar, rose water, a dash of baking soda and hibiscus tea and put it in a bun. My hair, I recently found out is thin and prone to limping much faster these days so a little baking soda boost for volume is much needed plus it cleanses well so I don’t need to wash everyday. I love using Strange Invisible Body Wash in Frankincense and Coriander or Sage and Rose. It’s not too sudsy, feels silky and smells delicious. I also love Osmia Organic soap bars. They lather so well are not drying and smell amazing. My favorite is the Juniper Shea Soap, but you pretty much can’t go wrong with Osmia. Once in a while I scrub down with a Turkish washcloth and Odacite’s Jasmine and Mimosa Body Scrub or May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt. They both smell so good and are gentle enough on my skin.

I rinse my hair outside of the bath in my sink with fresh cool water then wash my hair with either John Masters Organics Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructing Shampoo, which is so rich and good for dry hair or my most favorite, International Orange Restore Hair Wash, it’s from a Spa in San Francisco.  I’ve been using their hair products for years and used to buy it from Vert, but when they closed just ordered online. After I wash my hair, I condition with John Masters Organics Rose and Apricot Hair Milk (which I do rinse out although you don’t need to) or Broo IPA conditioner, it has beer in it and it makes hair shine like crazy!

Out of the bath… the first thing I do outside of the tub is moisturize my entire body with our Skin Aficionado Body Oil or during cold winters I’ll use a little coconut oil on my legs and feet while I heat up socks in the microwave so they are well conditioned and warm me up. Then I detangle my hair with another DIY spray of coconut water, rose, neroli and lavender waters with a few drops of Bohemia Verde. I use a comb to detangle and leave my hair to air dry. I hardly ever use a blowdryer. I then cleanse my face with either our Gentle Enzyme Cleanser or raw manuka honey and use night treatments on my skin, a little LBF eye serum and done. If it really is a Saturday night and I’m alone I’ll have a glass of cava and a bit of Vosges Matcha Green Tea and Spirulina Dark Chocolate (superfood chocolate that is amazing and good for you) while reading through the latest fashion magazines otherwise I brew a cup of my favorite Kusmi tea and eat fruit. I have a theory that eating antioxidant rich fruit at night makes your skin look glow in the am. Anyone else do this?

Finishing Touches…

While my hair is drying and I’m drinking tea or wine, I apply another DIY blend of barbary fig seed oil, organic olive and lavender oils to my naked eyebrows and eyelashes for nourishment. I think its important to nourish your eyelashes and brows so they don’t fall out so easily. You can use a cleaned out mascara tube for this. I like to text a few friends or my Mom and sisters funny messages before the day is done. I’m very anxiety filled about death so I make sure to tell the people I love that I love them as often as I can just in case. Then when my hair is finally dry and I’m ready to fall sleep I apply a little perfume on. I really love Aftelier’s Tango and Wildflowers perfumes, Lurk’s RSW005 is another incredible scent and of course the one I created myself called Buenos Aires which is smoky with a hint of mate, roses and violet leaf. This routine puts me to bed instantly.

Nighttime Makeup Routine

When I was little my favorite thing in the world was to watch my Mom get dressed for a night out. She would lay her outfit on her bed and pick her shade of pantyhose (remember pantyhose?) and then decide what color nail polish and makeup she was going to wear. It was the 70′s and everyone was into glamour big time and liked overdone makeup, but my Mom was just so chic with how she applied her products. I just couldn’t wait to grow up and do my makeup at night. I have a lot of fun with evening makeup much more than daytime because I don’t wear much other than mascara, blush, concealer and eyebrow powder. (I have unusually light eyebrows that don’t match my naturally dark hair, so do my sisters. It’s weird.)

Right now since it’s summer I like to show off happy, clear skin and focus on my big brown eyes. I like a tinted moisturizer with a little concealer. I mix up my own tinted moisturizer with a few different colors and an organic moisturizer cream made for babies. I really like the concealer by Studio 78 Paris, it isn’t too chalky, waxy or creamy.

I tend to choose a lot of earth tones like biege and browns for eye color, but at night I go violet or all out with a sultry, smoky eye. I’ve really been loving Studio 78 Paris Tea Time or Mulberry by Modern Minerals. I also like to apply our Brazilian Denise Golden Highlighter right over for a modern disco look. There is just something about violet and gold that looks so good together, especially if you have dark skin and brown eyes.

I’ve also been playing around with our Damn Elvia Eye Shadow which is a silver-black metallic with a bit of violet and looks spectacular as a smoky eye. Very soft and chic and not so raccoon-like for me. I always looked like a crazy raccoon with smoky eyes when I had them professionally done and I’ve never been good with doing my own, but I’m learning. Less is more and using fingers is a great tip and q-tips for underneath your bottom lashline is another good trick.

I’ve also been curling my eyelashes I try not to poke my eyeballs out, but I do notice my eyes look spectacular with thick curled lashes. I really like the Kjaer Weis mascara. It smells amazing, holds well and doesn’t flake and I use it all the time, but if I’m being completely truthful my favorite mascara is not a clean one at all. I don’t use it anymore, but I really do miss it.

If I wear dark smoky eyes I like a toned down look for my blush. Mimosa by Modern Minerals or the gorgeous Demure by RMS are both so pretty. If I wear a violet eye I like our Just Jenna Creme Blush because it’s fun and orchid hued without looking harsh then I apply a little Brazilian Denise highlighter to the top of my cheekbones, forehead and inside my eyes. Suddenly I have magic cheekbones, which is a big deal for me since I have really round cheeks. Then I use a little balm and just a touch of nude lip color and done.

Deluxe Beauty Box 3

Another Monday, another Deluxe Beauty Box from Goodebox and A Night for Green Beauty! We wanted you to be some of the first to get the deets on the next round of amazingness from some of the #ANFGB participating brands. The boxes go on sale at 9  a.m. PT/12 p.m. ET so sign up NOW to receive notice and get on the list to snag one for yourself!

The box features six full-size products from natural beauty brands that are participating in A Night For Green Beauty (August 7 in LA! Be there!). The third box in a series of four, these products are worth more than $350—and you can snag them for only $110 (includes shipping + handling). And, just like with boxes 1 + 2, #ANFGB and Goodebox are donating all the proceeds to Baby2Baby. Kind of the best of all worlds, right?

So, what magical products grace this box? Let us tell you:

  1. La Bella Figura’s Modern Radiance Concentrate
  2. Osmia Organics’ Black Clay Facial Soap
  3. Beautycounter’s Lustro Face Oil 2
  4. Strange Invisibles Body Wash
  5. Indie Lee’s Calendula Eye Balm
  6. S.W. Basics’ Exfoliant

Don’t forget to take photos of your Deluxe Beauty Box and tag #ANFGB, #Baby2Baby, or #Goodebox. A few lucky lovelies will be selected as winners in upcoming contests to celebrate #ANFGB. And, don’t give this too much thought—the second Deluxe Beauty Box sold out in 19 minutes! Make sure you don’t miss out on this awesome offer.

Buy it now on Goodebox’s site! But hurry!

Vegan Eyeliners

It seems as though Fridays are turning into vegan makeup round-up days, mostly because I’m currently obsessed with finding makeup that is beeswax-free and doesn’t make my skin break out, flake off and generally look incredibly angry at me. Last week, we talked about vegan bronzers, a couple weeks ago, it was a vegan dupe for RMS’ Living Luminizer and before that, we discussed vegan cream concealers. So, what’s next?

Vegan eyeliners. Much like concealers, eyeliners often contain beeswax to help hold their formulas together. Unfortunately, that also means it makes my eyes get red and puffy, sometimes causes styes (ew) and gives me a why-yes-I-only-got-three-hours-of-sleep squinty eye look. Not pretty for anyone.

And so my search for vegan eyeliners began. I immediately realized that  few of my long-standing favorites already fell into the beeswax-free category, which explains why they didn’t give me a reaction + made my wallet really happy. Here are the five vegan eyeliners I’m currently over-the-moon about.

  1. Zuzu Luxe Liquid Liner: I have never been a liquid eyeliner gal, despite my years as a competitive dancer, piling on sweat-proof makeup for every performance. It seemed so unforgiving and soooo hard to fix if you made a mistake. Plus, I’m quite awful at drawing a straight line on any surface, let alone my eye. But, I ventured into the world last fall for my wedding because I wanted something that was for sure not going to smudge. This liquid liner from Zuzu is long-lasting, highly pigmented and easy to swipe on (trust me). I used it on myself and other bridesmaids for a wedding I was in a couple weeks ago and even outlasted MAC’s liquid version. Get yourself this beauty.
  2.  Alima Pure Satin Matte or Shimmer Eyeliner: I never thought I could jump on the bandwagon of powdered eyeliner either, but it’s shockingly easy to get a straight, smudgy line with this number from Alima. I have the navy shimmer that came in one of their limited edition makeup kits, but any of the colors will do. You definitely need a good eyeliner brush (I like this one from Sigma Beauty) to make this powder to liner thing a reality, but it’s worth it. I get my brush wet, dip it in the liner and then brush on. The wetness sets it and makes it last nearly as long as the Zuzu one.
  3. INIKA Cosmetics Organic Eyeliner: These pencils are my current favorite because they’re vegan, certified organic and just the right amount of smudgy. This is the first eyeliner that I feel like I can actually use to line the inner rims of my eyes, or waterline without irritating my peepers. Plus, it takes a lot for them to bleed, even though they’re super creamy and easy to apply. I’m into the brightly colored lower-liner right now, and INIKA is feeding my habit—I have the liner in Black Caviar, Peacock, Green Lagoon and Purple Minx. (Sheepish grin.)
  4. Benecos Natural Eyeliner: When The Chalkboard Mag featured Susannah and I (I nearly died—dream come true) in their Green Goddess Guide for A Night For Green Beauty, I mentioned that white eyeliner helps perk up my eyes when I haven’t had quite the amount of beauty sleep I need. My favorite one is from Benecos because it’s an off-white and doesn’t look so artificial on the inner rims of my eyes. This is another incredibly creamy, soft pencil with a good amount of smudge. The grey is lovely cool tone too, which is a nice switch up from black or brown.
  5. Jane Iredale Eye Pencil: This friend has been with me from the beginning of my green journey. It was the first clean eye pencil I ever bought (sniff, sniff) and I keep going back to it. It’s a tad drier than the INIKA or Benecos varieties, but it still doesn’t pull on my eyelids and also has buildable, smudgeable, long-lasting wear. See makeup gods? Beeswax isn’t a necessary ingredient! I have the JI pencil in brown black and it’s really lovely for when I want added definition to my eyes without the punch of a black eyeliner.

Have you tried any of my faves? And, per usual, I’m sure I’m missing some cult faves. What vegan eyeliners are you obsessed with (or coveting)?

 

 

 

Wound Healers: Product reviews of PRATIMA and CV SkinlabsHard as we all may try, it’s impossible to avoid at least occasional blemishes, red spots and general skin wounds (unless you’re Blake Lively. Girl looks like she has perfect skin!). Some of us may fall more solidly into this category than others, but at some point, we all end up seeking relief.

I’ve been battling a small army of skin issues recently, and while nothing I’ve tried has been preventative in the least, I have found a few stand-out products that will gently boost my skin’s resolve, encouraging it to heal itself after a trauma has occurred. Let me tell you about them.

1. PRATIMA Skincare’s Sandalwood Soothing Lotion. All my tried-and-true blemish-fighters have failed me as of late. All the good oils and herbal combos I was using to clear my skin up are waving their white flags at the hormonal cysts, the resilient blackheads and regenerating whiteheads my face is throwing at them. Now, my current skin condition isn’t “acne,” per say—it’s more like my skin is being wounded from the inside out, thanks to some poor liver functioning and possible gluten cross contamination (anyone have any tips here? Me and my naturopath are at our wits end). So I stopped treating it like acne and started using this Sandalwood Soothing Lotion to calm it. Lo and behold, this natural calamine lotion keeps a cyst from coming to a head, relieves pain and itching and reduces redness. It treats bug bites and cuts and burns and makes you breakfast in bed (wouldn’t that be nice?). This is like a first aid kit in a bottle.

2. CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray. I got this a few months ago when I was looking for something to soothe the uber-dry, itchy skin on my face (thanks, #polarvortex). I kind of dismissed it at first because it doesn’t have an uplifting scent like most of the liquids I spray on my face. But then I tried it on a persistent scalp rash and haven’t looked back. It’s like souped-up pure aloe, with water lily, mushroom, turmeric and cucumber, so it calms inflammation, reduces redness and relieves itchiness. I also use it on razor burn and I just bet it would dominate as an after-sun spray.

3. PRATIMA Skincare’s Revitalizing Turmeric Cream. Seeing a trend here? Turmeric is killer at wound-healing, internally and externally. This suuuuper thick cream is a huge treat as an overall facial mask and if you use it as a moisturizer, it decreases redness and dryness over time. The ghee in it also boosts skin’s ability to heal. I’ve been using it as a treatment on popped (yes, I pick when there are whiteheads!) blemishes overnight and it speeds up healing time  by at least two days. Only sorta funky note: It’s intensely yellow and that color lingers on your face. I don’t use it in the morning, under makeup, for that reason. And it bled from my face to my comforter one night. Just use caution.

4. CV Skinlabs Body Repair Lotion. I didn’t mention this before, but this entire line was formulated for cancer/chemotherapy patients. After such treatments, skin is really sensitive and needs calming products that also don’t contain other harmful ingredients. Thus, CV Skinlabs. And thus why the line is so gentle and effective at healing and calming skin. The Body Repair Lotion is practically perfect for right after I’ve shaved my too-dry legs. It helps prevent razor burn + it doesn’t have a scent that requires all other fragrances bow to it. I love that for when I want to layer a body oil on top for an added boost, though the lotion itself is totally enough moisture. This would also dominate as an eczema or after-sun treatment.

So there you have it. When things get red, itchy and bumpy, I turn to these lovelies for some relief. Now tell me: What’s your first-aid-kit-in-a-bottle product?