Oh Alima, how do I love thee? Let me count the divine shades of blush in my makeup kit.

Samples (for $1.50 each), advice on choosing colors, and application tips make this very clean brand easy to try. I can pretty much guarantee you will find something you love. Alima makes several types of products, but three are truly stand-outs and will forever be on my favorites list.

Satin Matte Foundation: This is truly a fantastic foundation! There are so many colors, really the best selection for the widest variety of skin tones I’ve seen from any brand. I’m Olive 1, and I was never able to get a true match elsewhere. I have dryer, “mature” skin, and as with any mineral foundation you have to moisturize appropriately first. I use a hydrosol and an oil or balm before application. This product also functions as my concealer. It’s great under eyes, on lids, and on blemishes.

I typically use a brush to apply, but if I have a particularly egregious spot I use a pinky fingertip to dot on and pat in, then a brush to smooth it out. My everyday application is straight foundation only on the areas that need covering, then DIY finishing powder all over to even things out. My finishing powder is equal parts foundation, kaolin clay, arrowroot powder, and rice powder. When first applied, the minerals sit on top of your skin, and then sort of magically become part of your skin over the next several minutes. And then you have an even skin tone with a natural glow. And the answer to the critical question you have at this point – yes, it lasts all day, absolutely. If I end up with too much “glow” later in the day, I use blotting papers, or avoid that issue altogether with strategically applied RMS “un”powder.  One of the great things about loose mineral foundation is the control over application. It can go on heavier or lighter, depending on how you apply. Use the right brush for the amount of coverage you want. You absolutely must invest in good brushes if you use mineral makeup, and luckily Alima is a star here too. And don’t be shy about exploring their website, like the great troubleshooting tips.

Brushes: Best. Brushes. Ever. Alima’s are vegan, which can be a lifestyle choice or a just a good idea for sensitive types.  They are super functional and super soft and gentle, plus they have some real variety to suit your needs. I have the concealer brush, half-moon brush, a mini-buki, and some of the smaller eye brushes. I’m coveting a few others too.  Definitely wash your brushes regularly. I use my unscented shampoo or a mild soap like Dr. Bronner’s.

Blushes:  Alima blushes are award winning and come in satin matte and luminous shimmer finishes.  Some shades have more shimmer than others and are too much for me. I have mixed the ultra-shimmery Sugar Rose with kaolin clay and rice powder to get a nice luminizing effect with barely a touch of color.  This is a great highlighter on the face, and on collar bones and shoulders in warm-weather outfits. My standard blush is the satin matte in Apple Blossom. I’ve been playing with different colors too, and there are several that work on me. Sahara is my current favorite in the shimmer finish, and the shimmer is very understated. The website is awesome about describing the colors and the level of shimmer, as well as suggesting which blushes you might like based on your foundation color. If you are in need of a spring pick-me-up, give these a try!

Are you part of the Alima Pure love-fest?  What have you tried?

Name: Ny

Age: 28

Hometown: London, England…now Phoenix, Arizona

Current weather: It’s a dry desert pretty much all the time, unless it’s winter and then it’s freezing in the morning.

Hair: Collar-bone length, uber-thick natural hair with some chemically straightened ends.

Skin: normal/dry

Favorite star: I don’t really have one. Maybe Oprah, I have her hair, but shorter.

I have two routines one for the AM and one for the PM. My AM one is pretty stark, so here’s what I do both in the morning and at night. I like to take shallow baths, basically I use the same amount of water as a shower but in the tub. OK, for reals, here it is:

In the shower/bath (PM)…

Before I get into the bath I use coconut oil on my face to remove any dirt and makeup, I’ll wash that off with plain warm water or African black soap and a muslin. I tone with rose water or orange water, then follow up with Pai’s Rosehip oil mixed with sea buckthorn oil (1:1). In the bath I use Dr. Hauschka lemon bath, it’s creamy and non-foaming, I apply it to my under arms with my hands. I use whatever is left to cleanse the rest of my body. Every “shower” I use a few drops or a pump of oil, homemade mix of borage/wheatgerm/camellia (2:1:1).  I find it more relaxing to “shower” before before bed and it gives me more time in the morning. Once a week I’ll use a sugar and oil scrub on my legs and chest (to ward off the occasional chest pimple). I’ll also exfoliate with a small 100% Pure brush and follow up with a mask, right now it’s Juara’s banana and avocado leave on mask, which I rinse off. I just finished Kahina’s antioxidant mask and it’s divine.

I wash my hair only once a week, as I don’t produce much sebum, I can get away with it. I precondition (or dry condition) my hair with powders: hibiscus, rose, neem, brahmi and amla powders; oils: castor, jojoba avocado or almond oils; mix all of that with some Shea Moisture shea butter masque and Tresemme naturals conditioner, I keep that on for hours on a Sunday while I do chores, if I don’t have time to do all of that 30 minutes is enough. I shampoo and condition with the Acure argan duo. As a leave in I  use Acure’s detangler and coconut oil. Then I blow dry with Nubian Heritage honey and black seed cream for protection, I also flat iron on medium heat with only one pass on heat.

AM – I just apply some more toner and more oil to my face and that’s it.

Outside the shower (PM)…

Due to the gentle cleansing and oils in the bath I don’t have to use much lotion or cream. At the moment I use John Masters Organics blood orange and vanilla body milk. I previously used Pai’s cream mixed with any oil I had, not that it needed supplementing, I just wanted it to last longer so I diluted it with oil without diluting it (makes sense to me). I use deodorant at night, a few sprays of Weleda’s sage deodorant, if I just shaved my pits then plain old rosewater topped off with Soapwalla. I floss and brush with a neem toothpaste.

AM – I use some more deodorant in the morning. That’s it, well apart from brushing my teeth and all that.

Finishing touches…

I don’t wear much makeup, due to many colors not being flattering on me and me not being super girly. Day to day I wear 100% Pure’s fruit pigmented mascara in blueberry on the top lashes. I pair that with Honeybee Gardens eye liner on the lower lash line, not the water line, in Passion (a deep smokey plum). If I need something extra I’ll use some high lighter, This Works shimmer balm and some cream blush by either Revolution Organics or Josie Maran.

That’s it for the most part, not too complicated.

Let’s talk about bruises, scars, and broken capillaries.

We spend a lot of time on the site discussing makeup, hair and skincare, so this is newish territory for the blog. We did some digging on what, if anything, works to minimize the appearance of these things, and we want to know what you’ve tried, too. Let’s go south, shall we?

Bare-leg season almost upon us and if you find yourself near the “I sort of care” end of the spectrum, we’d love for you to weigh in.*

Bruises: So, I bruise like crazy. Flick your index finger against my thigh and I’m a mess. Any more impact (crow pose, the pointy edge of my coffee table, roughhousing) and we’re in “Are you…OK?” territory. If I’m lucky, the bruises are out of sight, on my legs. This is easy when it’s 40 degrees out; less so in summer. For years, my go-to has been arnica, which is used in a various homeopathic preparations (and undereye creams!). In the wild, arnica looks kind of like a daisy, and it’s properties are said to help repair broken blood vessels and reduce swelling and soreness. Forgetting for a second how hard it is to find arnica cream or gel without a ton of undesirable ingredients in there, and disregarding the big-deal studies that say it works no better than placebo, I swear arnica speeds the rate at which my bruises disappear! I call it the bruise eraser.

Anyone else have any experience with arnica or—even better—have something else to recommend?

Scars: A couple of months ago, I bit it on the subway stairs and had to spend the night in the emergency room at Brooklyn Hospital. The nurses were nice (nurses are always nice), but it was hours before I saw a doctor. As I sat in the waiting room eating potato chips for dinner and bleeding through my tights (ew, sorry, true), I was preoccupied with vain, vain thoughts. “Yeah, it’s going to scar.” This was my cousin, an MD, texting me. “Also, you’re going to be at the bottom of the triage list.” He was right on both counts. Many hours and a couple of stitches later, I was on a mission to figure out which botanicals might help quiet the inevitable screaming red scars on my super pale legs.

I emailed a few people and settled on a liberal morning application of vitamin-A-rich sea buckthorn oil and nighttime application of Tammy Fender’s Intensive Repair Balm. Since we don’t have a control subject here, I can’t tell you what would have happened had I used nothing but Polysporin (I used that too). But I can say: The cuts healed beautifully. That’s not to say I didn’t scar; I did. But the scars are clean, they’ve already faded a lot, and they’re not such a big deal to anyone but me.

And yet, skirt weather is coming up and, again, vanity. When you live in the northeast and it’s finally nice enough out for bare legs, you don’t want to have to think about a five-inch-long scar on your shin. So I did what any health editor would do: I started asking around about solutions. We wrote a little about lasers in the book, and for issues that bother me enough to see a pro, I’d take a one-time laser over a chemmy brew any day. It’s a simple and genius kind of science, though depending on the laser, not without risk. Some lasers essentially harm the skin to promote healing and collagen production, causing new, healthy skin to take the place of the old, traumatized skin. Others beam intense pulses of light into the skin. Damaged blood vessels absorb the light, are broken down, and are then absorbed into the body.

A colleague introduced me to Josh Zeichner, MD, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in the Dermatology Department at Mt. Sinai Hospital here in New York. After a careful look at my scars, he recommended V Beam for the angriest, reddest part, and Fraxel for the light-brown, more surface scarring. It hurt a bit, like tiny elastic bands were being snapped on my skin, but no worse than that (and definitely no worse than falling down the stairs to the 7 train at Grand Central).

Stay tuned for updates in about six weeks on how well it worked—I’m optimistic, and so is my doctor—but in the meantime:

Have you tried anything amazing for scarring? Anything you think might work?

Broken Capillaries: My general feeling about broken capillaries is “who cares?”—but they’re on-topic and, depending on where they are on your person, or maybe if you don’t have bigger fish to fry, can be a bit of a drag. Here’s my understanding of treating them: Removing them on the face is tricky. Even if you’re willing to fork over the bucks to have them zapped, there’s a risk of bruising, of them coming back, and of it not working altogether—which is a bigger risk on your face than your legs. I know some Tammy Fender products promise to strengthen facial capillaries, which could be great for future damage.

Now, to recap, three questions:

1. Do you bruise easily and/or do you have any natural solutions that help them fade faster (or prevent them)?

2. Any luck with scar reduction topically or with lasers? Feel free to talk stretch marks too, if you feel like taking it there.

3. Broken capillaries. Is this a thing you deal with? Do you care about them? Any tips if you do care?

As ever, thank you!

* What we’re less interested in are screeds about why we shouldn’t care about such things in the first place. While you’re mostly right about that, we all have our stuff. We’ll be back tomorrow with something else to talk about, promise.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely young woman named Jessica, who told me that after a move across the country, a bout of bad skin, and a run-in with No More Dirty Looks, she’d decided to transition completely to clean beauty products.

Naturally, I invited her to share her thoughts with the rest of the class, mainly because it can be hard for some of us to remember what it’s like when you first discover that the products you’ve long trusted actually totally suck. Do you throw our book against the wall and decide it’s all BS? Do you ransack your entire bathroom at once? We’ve long recommended that people go slow, first replacing products they use daily and over a large area of their body (shampoo, soap, sunscreen, body lotion). Next, we often recommend what we like to call “gateway” brands: Naturals that are good enough, if not perfectly clean. These are usually easier to find, more affordable, and they smell and perform more like conventional products—which is great for not scaring people off. Finally, that perfect red you wear on nights out should be the last to go, if it goes at all (we still have ours!). Jessica seems to get all this! Which is great.

She’s is employing a one-in/one-out system, buying new products as she runs out of the old, and so far, she’s loving the results. Her skin has transformed, she’s gone rogue with some DIY recipes, and she’s loving every minute of it.

Here, her story:

Name: Jessica

Age: 21

Hometown: New York, NY

Current weather: Swings from grey and cold to sunny and cool: 30s-60s, high humidity.

Hair: Thick, shiny black strands that naturally fall in piece-y, poufy waves

Skin: Olive-toned combination skin—normal skin with an oily and pimple-prone T-zone

I fantasize about being a clean beauty queen but for now, I’m the new girl. I recently divorced from mega-ultra-plumping synthetic-fiber mascara and I’m freshly freed from a decade-long salicylic acid bender. Don’t get me wrong—I wasn’t trying to poison myself. I’ve never dyed my hair, I cook my own meals to avoid eating weird junk out, and—don’t tell—I use antiperspirant sparingly when temperatures allow. But despite my good intentions, I was still drowning myself in toxins.

My facial routine was especially heinous: for the past 10 years, I’d been stripping my face night and day with harsh cleansers and a thick layer of salicylic acid, then smothering it with thick, greasy moisturizers to stem peeling.

My wake-up call wasn’t pretty, but it did the trick: Within days of my mid-winter move from central Texas to the Big Apple, I found myself sporting a face full of flaky skin. By a stroke of luck, I discovered No More Dirty Looks around the same time, and knew I’d found the solution I needed—badly. Resisting the compulsion to purge my medicine cabinet, I triaged, tackling my dysfunctional skin regimen first. I sprang for Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Solutions Spot Treatment, which contains a low concentration of natural salicylic acid extracted from willow bark. I also bought a bar of Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Soap to replace my body and facial cleansers, switched to a Eucerin daily lotion with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide for cleaner sun protection, and snagged a bottle of extra virgin olive oil from the kitchen for a pure nightly moisturizer. I braced myself for the worst, worried I’d wake to a constellation of new zits. Instead of looking revolting, however, my skin glowed in response: Smooth and blemish-free.

I have a new addiction now—natural beauty. I’ve committed to replace any product I run out of (or accidentally drop in the trash) with a clean alternative. So far, I’ve treated my lashes to Josie Maran’s GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan Mascara and taken to eos lip balm, which is free of parabens and petrolatum. Now, I’m on the hunt for a good replacement for undereye concealer—a challenge, since I try to keep my beauty purchases under $30. My hair products are next on the chopping block, and I can’t wait to see the results. Clean beauty veterans—let me know which shampoos and hair products you’re loving!

So let’s help a girl out. What affordable undereye concealer are you loving? And hair—what do you think she should start with?

Image via

Happy April everyone! It feels like we might be out of the woods with this whole winter thing finally. And just in time for BBQ fantasies, today’s obsession brings us a homemade veggie burger recipe that sounds completely beyond… Two questions:

1. Annette, or someone in the audience, what would be a good replacement for the bread crumbs in this recipe to make it GF?

2. Do you have any veggie burger recipes to share?

Dietary Leanings: Vegetarian with the very occasional hit of meat if my body is asking for it, which it does (weird!)

Ingredient: Mushrooms

Known health benefits: Low calorie, fat free, no cholesterol and low sodium. One cup of mushrooms contains vitamins C, D, B6, B12, plus large doses of riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid along with calcium, iron, potassium, and selenium.

Favorite way to eat this food: Mushroom burgers. I got this recipe from an episode of The Chew (thank you, Clinton Kelly) and I have made a batch every week since. You can make and cook the burgers to reheat, or you can mix the ‘batter’ then form and cook them as you go. Either way, they are fantastic! I have eaten them as burgers, but more often, I eat them as ‘meat’ over grains or in a wrap with veggies. So freakin’ good!

Some changes I made: I left the cheese and the parsley out, I only used 2 cloves of garlic (6?
Really?) and I used Ener-G egg replacer instead of the eggs. I also used 1 teaspoon dried oregano in place of the fresh.

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chili flakes
1 1/2 pounds assorted mushrooms (portobello, crimini, button, shiitake), chopped
6 cloves garlic
1/2 cups quick cooking oats
3/4 cup grated Parmigiana cheese
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup parsley
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
6 slices Provolone cheese
6 Brioche burger buns

Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and toss to coat. Season with a large pinch of salt, the chili flakes and a few cracks of black pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Add more oil if the pan seems dry. Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft and mushroomsbegin to brown. Stir in garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant.

Pour the mushrooms into a large bowl. Stir in the oats, cheese, breadcrumbs, carrot, eggs, parsley, and oregano. Season with another pinch of salt. Mix well and form into 6 patties.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Carefully add patties to pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook patties 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Add a slice of cheese to each patty in the last minute. Serve on buns.

Enjoy!