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?


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?