It’s been well over a year since we started the morning routine series. They began on a “really hot, muggy, humid, generally gross” August morning in 2011, because we thought it would be fun to share with all of you the products that we use every day before we leave the house. Now, you guys send us yours, and they’re consistently inspiring to this vibrant community of natural beauty lovers, am I right?
Since it’s December 2012, and my life, as well as my routine, has changed, I thought I’d give it another go. I’m a Scorpio, which, among other things, means I’m fiercely loyal and I like what I like. It’s fun, looking back, to see which products I’m still using. Still, some were traded out for products I like even better. (Warning: This post is long, because it’s doubling as a gang of new product reviews. You might want to skim—or grab a snack.)
Current weather: It’s been a mild, climate-changey winter so far, with some rare chillier days.
Hair: Blonde, long, wavy when air dried.
Skin: Irish. Which is to say, reactive, sensitive, pale, a little freckly, and pale. Did I mention pale? Oh, and reactive.
In the shower…
Most days, I shower rather speedily. Since I don’t typically wash my face in the morning, my shower routine is pretty straightforward: I dry brush before I get in the shower, then I wash my hair. My new go-tos are Intelligent Nutrients PureLuxe shampoo and conditioner. I’ve run out and repurchased them several times because they leave my hair super shiny, manageable and smelling great. I don’t have overly dry hair but I live in fear of it, and these two products give just the right amount of moisture, without feeling greasy. A couple of times a week, I swap out IN for the Seaweed Bath Company’s argan oil conditioner. It has wax pretty high up on the ingredient list, and I find it reliable on days when I want my hair to hold a style.
If I wash my face, I use Kahina’s or Marie Veronique Organics’ (new obsession—I love the whole line), which is slippery and cleansing without being overly drying. If I’m too lazy to make my own body scrub, which is most days, I use a squeaky-clean new one by the Brooklyn-based Metropolis Soap Company in honeysuckle and violet. My new go-to bar cleanser is the Activated Charcoal Soap by Soapwalla. It’s technically a face wash but I’ve been using it on my body. It contains activated charcoal and tea tree oil, and it’s also made in Brooklyn, which is neither here nor there, but kind of neat.
If I’m feeling under the weather or if I’m showering before bed, I massage my chest with Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy. The essential oils support immunity, promote restful sleep and make my tiny apartment smell like a spa. Which is nice.
Outside the shower…
Very few things I hate more than applying moisturizer on my body, but I do it almost every day. These days I alternate between Weleda’s New Rose Pampering Body Lotion (I love this stuff) and Vered’s Muscle Soothing Massage and Body Oil, which has been especially helpful since I bit it on the subway stairs the other night, had to get stitches, and seriously bruised up both my calves. (Pro tip: Don’t fall in the subway. It hurts.)
Once this tiresome step is done, I apply Soapwalla Deodorant, spray my face with either Kahina’s Toning Mist or Marie-Veronique Organic’s Anti-Aging Mist, and rub in a touch of Kahina’s Brightening Serum. Sometimes, I apply a dab of Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm, which I still swear by for night. If I look tired, I apply a Rejuvenating Eye Cream by Amala. It’s cocoa bean-based, which helps constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness, and works almost as if by miracle to eliminate undereye bags. (Before bed it’s still La Bella Figura.)
Next, I apply Suntegrity Sunscreen, which got the #1 rating from the EWG this year for lotions with SPF. Who wants to shoot me first? Because the stuff contains (mineral-based) dimethicone. I have decided I can deal with it in this product because the ingredient deck is otherwise very clean, and because it’s the most effective, versatile and cosmetically appealing sunscreen I have ever tried. And I have tried many. It works kind of like a BB cream. I’ve finally found one I want to use every day, and this is it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Whatever? I love this product.
If I have meetings, which I usually do, I will follow with Suki Tinted Active Face Moisturizer in Porcelain, for an overall evening-out effect. I’ll set that with Laura Mercier loose minerals in Sand, line my eyes with Bare Minerals’ (unfortunately very messy) loose eyeliner in black, applied with a stiff damp brush. I keep my face simple for day, so that means I might swipe some RMS Beauty lip2cheek in Smile on cheeks and lips or some W3LL People Universalist in the peachy color, and dab on some Living Luminizer. I also love Ilia in a bunch of different colors. If I feel like a very bold lip, I’m probably cheating with non-naturals from Bite or Chanel.
For mascara, it’s either 100% Pure or the new thick-as-hell “Fake Out” one from Organic Wear (the pink tube) or both. Some days, I fill in my super-pale eyebrows with NVey Eco Eye Shadow Palette in No. 3. It’s not meant for brows, but it works. If I’m really going for it, I apply a touch of color to my lids, too. Makeup tends to scream on my face, though, so I use a light touch.
Finally, my perfumes of choice are still Lotus Wei Infinite Love or Tata Harper Irritability Treatment (as a perfume), or both!
Couple things, before I go: First, I don’t always follow all these steps. Second, I now fear I sound way more high-maintenance than I actually am. Any products here that you love too? Anything new to you?
Our old favorites are back in time for the holidays, and not a minute too late. I, for one, have simultaneously run out of my brightening serum, toning mist (more here), and cleanser, all of which I swear by for everyday use. And, really, I’m not sure there’s anything I want more for Christmas than the things I depend on daily to keep me feeling (and, OK, looking) my best.*
Some reasons we love the products, if you’re new to Kahina Giving Beauty: The line is incredible. Their products have been in my bathroom and on my vanity for more than three years now, and there are a few good reasons why. First, the products are gentle enough for my very sensitive skin. Second, they’re so full of natural actives that you get the satisfaction of knowing, because of what you see in the mirror and how your skin feels, that they work. Finally, they’re pleasant to share. Men like them because they’re unisex and unfussy but get the job done. Our moms like them because they’re appropriate for more mature skin, too. Our friends like them because they give them a taste of luxury and high-performance without being frou-frou or gimmicky.
Simply put: They work. And like a great friend or partner, they’re reliable and they make you feel good, day in, day out.
Without being over the top, I’d like to add: I’m also wild about the eye cream and the mask and the argan oil soap trio. They’re also selling these unpredictably chic pouf necklaces (I have one of those, too). They make boring outfits pop and attract compliments from the most unlikely people, like cranky strangers on the train.
So with that said, this Friday we’re delighted to share a very merry Kahina site-wide deal. It’s simple: A generous 15% off your purchase. The code is nondenominationally charming: HAPPYMERRY. And the deal lasts until next Thursday at midnight.
What are you getting? I hope my pals and mom aren’t reading this, because I think I just gave away what’s going in their stockings.
* K, maybe there are a few things, but they’re not the kind of things I would print here. Womp!
I’m scared to ask, frankly, but I can’t help myself: What products are you guys looking for advice on? I ask because I have lots of fun new things taking up space on the cabinet where I keep such things, and I can’t decide where to start.
So, open question: What beauty problem is stumping you? What are you almost out of and looking to replace with something better? Be as specific as you can! This is where we get inspired.
Now, some blind-item options, should you need a boost: These are products we are loving. We’ll tell you about all of them, but what sounds most exciting to you now?
1. This hair product is from a line I’ve tried here and there in the past. It’s a spray-on leave-in, it smells bananas, but not like bananas, and it leaves my hair so soft and so loose. I use it three times a week, and I think it would work well on people with different hair textures, too.
2. This solid perfume took my breath away by the packaging alone. I instagrammed a photo of it! (No cheating.) It’s feminine but not sweet, it’s accessible, it’s all natural. My only beef? It’s so pretty that it’s on my altar instead of in my handbag. Champagne problems, I know.
3. This cleanser-toner-oil trio popped up at my house. I used them once, hesitantly, and my brain melted. I don’t mess around with my face, using the same products for years at a time. But I tried these, and I really, really like them. I think I’m sold on all three, and I think you guys might be too.
4. A makeup line we love has a new lipstick shade, which I recently discovered while shopping at ABC Home one chilly Saturday. “More of a lip stain,” said the woman who sold it to me. She was wrong, though. This puppy works best full-pigment, and it looks amazing on different complexions, too. New favorite?
5. A skincare line we love has two new detox masks out. I tried one, our friend Anna tried the other. I’m completely addicted to both.
So, yeah. The floor is open. What do you want more reviews of? And any of these entice you?
“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”
I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”
I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.
Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.
That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.
I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:
We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.
When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.
We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.
When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?
3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.
When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.
Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?
I first discovered Moksa Organics just over a year ago, and I decided to treat myself to several additional products to review, because, you know…
I have a responsibility to the readers here. And I’m not ashamed to spoil myself.
Anyway, this company is clean, clean, clean—in ingredients, packaging, and business philosophy. Here are the products I’ve tried:
Organic Body Butters: I’ll start with these because the Kilimanjaro scent is unbelievable, and what first got me started on this brand. The jar says it’s Cocoa Vanilla, but to me it smells like a chocolate cake with lemon frosting. I cannot stop smelling it, and I’m very close to scooping it out of the jar with a spoon and eating it. I am a huge fan of body butters, and Moksa’s are among the best, especially since they are half the price of many other brands ($16). The texture is like frosting, and it doesn’t get overly shiny on the skin (I think the arrowroot powder helps with that). I also use Simply Unscented (just what it says) and Orange Ginger (lovely and invigorating, but I wish it had a little more ginger).
Organic Bar Soaps: At $6.50/bar, they seem expensive at first, but these are very large (6.5oz) bars. They are gorgeous to look at, and the scents are very subtle, much more subtle than the body butters. They are nice in the shower, but all the ones I’ve tried have little bits of herbs and such, and my preference is for a completely smooth texture. I love them for hand soap though, and they make handwashing a luxurious, creamy experience, lathering and cleaning while keeping skin soft. Kilimanjaro, Café Milan, Amazon Lemon, and Paynes Prairie all smell great. If Moksa ever makes an unscented soap bar, I will be all over it.
Organic Body Oil: Orange Ginger is the one I tried, and, like the body butter, it is more orange than ginger. The scent is subtle here, and though it’s nice and I’ll still keep using my bottle, the oil is a little too light for my “mature” skin.
If you want a very light and delicately scented body oil, however, I definitely recommend it ($18).
Bath Salts: I think these are a little expensive for the amount you get ($18), but they do come in really gorgeous and colorful bottles that are definitely something to save and reuse. Orange Ginger and Key Lime Vanilla have nice, medium-strength scent and a good ratio of salt to oil. I personally prefer a bath salt without oils (these have sweet almond and jojoba), but that’s mainly because I am too lazy for much tub-washing. As a sensitive skin sort, I have had a positive experience with the essential oil blends used in this brand. All in all, I really love Moksa, and if I ever am so fancy as to own a guest bathroom, I will fill it up with their products as a lovely treat for my guests.
What have you tried from this brand? What sounds tempting?