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Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts Galore

It’s December, people. And though some of us maybe finished our holiday shopping over the long, sale-filled holiday weekend, others of us may not be that on top of things. Enter this gift guide.

I love gift-giving. I have an entire secret Pinterest board dedicated to gifts for others so when my husband or sister or best friend mentions something they’ve been coveting, I have a safe place to stash the idea for later. This year, I’m doing beauty-related gifts for many friends, so I wanted to share a few of my fave pressies. Check them out below (for all budgets, for all kinds of beauty gals).

For the clean beauty skeptic: Since swapping clean products into my whole beauty caboodle, I’ve tried to convert as many friends as possible to the clean beauty movement. Some are more hesitant than others, and the ones who I have the hardest time convincing are the ones most concerned about cost. So I point them to a multi-tasker that usually woos them to trying more clean products: Acure Organics’ Argan Oil. It’s a hair-smoother, a cuticle oil, a face moisturizer. And it has a friendly price point if they want to repurchase for themselves.

For the beauty aficionado: The Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Winter Glow Gift Set. I’ve talked before about how much I love the Vitamin D Mist, and this set boasts that toner, plus a yummy Vitamin C serum that even my mom loves (and she used to use only Vaseline to moisturize her face). Top those off with a colorless face powder and angled kabuki brush help you hit this season’s matte face look and you’ve got a great combo for a girlfriend who’s a tad more in-the-know.

Me Encanta in practice.

Me, wearing the Me Encanta, no filter.

For the makeup maven: I can’t say enough about loving Alima Pure’s wide range of mineral foundations, but now I love their eyeshadows and mascara as well. Their holiday set, Me Encanta, comes from a collaboration with green makeup artist Kristen Arnett. I love love love the navy shadow included in the kit (I used it as a liner) and the blush is my all-time favorite color (I wore it for my wedding, for Pete’s sake). There’s even a how-to video on creating a subtle look with the liner, contour powder and blush. Fool proof. And a perfectly well-rounded present.

For the jet-setter: This Travel Therapy Botanical Mood Booster from La Bella Figura Beauty is one of those things I’m not sure how to make it through the day without. It smells like sunshine, it sticks around for a looooong time and I’ve gotten dozens (not exaggerating) compliments on how I smell, even after not showering for four days, when I’m wearing this puppy. It calms me—and anyone who smells me—down and makes every hurried day, full of airplane travel or just regular old commuting, better.

If you’re on a budget: Much like I am. Alexandra once blogged about why she loves gifting aromatherapy, but let me add to her points by saying it’s a super easy way to customize gifts and to not have to pick out makeup colors. You know your best friends; you know what’s bugging them. Therefore, you know what aromatherapy might benefit them. (Plus, we have a kick-ass deal going on with Essence of Vali until the end of the year. Save your dollar bills and give gifts your peeps will love.)

Or, do a little DIY for the holidays. Get some cute plastic bottles and fill them with a DIY dry shampoo. Or a body scrub. Or a lip balm. The thought goes a long way (and if your friends are like mine, they’ll be thrilled you took time to make them something, not just swipe your credit card.)

For the boy: Olie Biologique JUST released a Whisker Oil for before and after shaving. It smells manly and helps reduce redness and irritation. Or check out the body soaps from Osmia Organics. I only got my husband to switch from Dove when he smelled these babies. (Get a body oil for yourself while you’re at it—Water Lily is my fave and I started wearing it as a perfume.)

What did I miss? What are you snagging for friends, family or S.O.s?

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.)

Name: Siobhan

Age: 34

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.

Finishing touches…

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?

Image via

When a brand says right on their website, “what goes onto your skin, goes into your body,” I’m going to take a closer look.

I did just that with Griffin Remedy and found some go-to products.  Though I typically look for unscented skin and hair products, sometimes I do appreciate a light, energizing scent in the shower.  This clean, vegan, gluten-free brand makes a variety of products, and I’m a regular user of their hair care.

Griffin Remedy Daily Shampoo and Daily Conditioner: Both have a pleasant, mild orange scent and are my very favorite scented hair products.  The shampoo lathers nicely, and cleans thoroughly but gently.  I shampoo every few days or so, and this one is the best for when my hair is really feeling dirty.  I often choose this shampoo after a coconut mask, and it gets out just enough oil but leaves what my hair needs.  The combination of the orange shampoo and the coconut oil smells sooooooo good.  The conditioner is fantastic for no-shampoo days, especially when I don’t need a huge amount of moisture, but I want to use a little something.  I also like it for post-shampoo, and it’s great for helping to rinse out the last bit of henna after I color.  They also make a Restorative line (lavender scent) that is more moisturizing, and have a Volumizing line too (lemon verbena scent).  The prices are quite reasonable, much less expensive than most clean brands I’ve tried ($8/8oz bottle).  I find them in various local stores, including Whole Foods, and you can order online.

I’ve also tried in-store testers of some of their lotions (lovely, especially the grapefruit).  Have you tried anything from this brand?

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?

In my good-hair-day arsenal, there are three products. They each serve their purpose, and I use none more than the other, so I’ll tell you about all three at once!

One is sort of new and achieves such a pretty air-dry that it makes me want to do so even when it’s cold out; and the other is an old favorite that I buy over and over again; and the last one is brand new and so versatile that I use it on my arms and legs, too.

Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner

What it’s good for: Bounce, waves, air-drying, styling when you have to use a really crappy hotel hair dryer, and for smelling really good when you go in for a hug.

This is my go-to guy for air drying and for those days when I only have time to blast my roots and the strands around my face before I book it to work. It brings a nice shine, a soft, kind of sexy bounce, and it weighs nothing. It leaves my hair not piecey but with a nice texture, and like the shampoo and conditioner from Yarok, it smells divine, and the scent lasts. Last week I spent the night in Pennsylvania for work and I was traveling super-light. I knew the hotel hair dryer was going to suck; they all suck. So this was my product of choice. I had a nice, relaxed-looking hair day and despite the unseasonably high temperature that day, my hair didn’t get gross.

Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Spray

What it’s good for: Fuss-free styling, hold, adding texture to thick long hair, defining curls and waves, and also smelling really, really good when you go in for a hug.

No stranger to regular readers, this product is still a favorite of mine. Has been for a few years (years!) now. It’s a little boosting, volume-wise, but the real reason I love it is the fact that when I use this with my amazing hair dryer my hair just ends up looking super done with very little effort (that last part is key). Work’s been crazy great (and crazy busy) lately, so looking put-together—or at least more put-together than I looked all summer—is important. This product is my secret weapon. It also helps you hold a style or wave. Love.

Intelligent Nutrients Hair Shine

What it’s good for: Everything. On wet hair before you style, on dry hair what needs texture, shine or control, on curly hair, straight hair, and African American hair, and on color-damaged hair. It’s also great on your arms and legs as a light body oil, and it smells like lemongrass. Yum!

This is the new kid in my caddy. It’s a new product from our friends at IN and I absolutely love it. I discovered it when it was sent to my job and another editor stopped me in the hall and said, “You’re going to freak out.” She handed me the bottle, I fell in love with the look of the thing, took one whiff—a combination of non-skunky lemongrass and something else—and, well, I freaked out. I sprayed a little on my hands, ran my hands over my poofy hair and spent the rest of the day admiring the subtle sheen and insanely good smell (I’m an inveterate hair sniffer). Since it’s made of several light oils, it occurred to me it might work as a body shine too, so one day I sprayed a little on my arms and legs and loved that too! It’s subtle, non-greasy, and makes me look like I am much better about applying daily body lotion than I am. Heh.

Have you tried any of these? What’s your favorite leave-in?