Is there anything more exciting than discovering a new product you love?
The other day Siobhan, Susannah and I were talking about this electrifying process and we came to the conclusion that NMDL basically lives and breathes on discovering new brands and products. Even if we also like to write about random stuff like why meditation is going to make you a better person, and how chia seeds absolutely can go in your coffee… At the end of the day product recommendations are the bones of what we do.
Which is great because since writing the book the natch beauty biz has been BOOMING. I have more boxes sitting in my entrance than I know what to do with. It drives my husband up a wall, but I don’t even like opening them if I’m not ready to: smell, read ingredients, and decide if the product is worth of trying. Many don’t even make it past the nose test!
When I think about it, it’s actually kind of wild how many of our staples are still from the original tribe (you know, RMS, Kahina, Intelligent Nutrients…) There’s a special voodoo to creating the perfect product, something like creating the perfect dish—and it’s just not everyone who can cook. (Bless your hearts for trying, though.) Don’t even get us started on packaging.
Not that we haven’t made new incredible discoveries since then. I mean, Studio 78, Ilia, Acure, Marie Veronique Organics, and May Lindstrom (the last, PS, is cooking up a new product right now that you guys are gonna lose your freaking minds over).
But who else is out there, that we just don’t know about yet? Where’s the next Rosemarie Swift, making magic in her kitchen, or already selling her product overseas… We must find her!
That’s where you come in. So, two questions:
1. Other than popping by here, what’s your product discovery process?Friends, other blogs, a store in your city?
2. What products have you found and love—in any category—that we just aren’t talking about here? We take a lot of joy in introducing smaller brands to more folks, so don’t keep secrets.
Or maybe, gasp, you are making your own beauty products? Tell us about them, or email us and send some samples through…
I promise the boxes always get opened eventually! x
Great routine, Lauren. And fun writing! Enjoy, everyone. (You know what’s hard? Choosing just one image of Jane Birkin. But the summer mood won here.)
Current weather: Sunny and getting pretty warm, sometimes in the 80’s
Hair: Shoulder-length, medium-fine, which nature made essentially devoid of color (mousey brown?) but currently is a patchwork of some red “glaze” from 6 months ago, that I am now trying to disguise with blonde highlights. Ombre is in, right?
Skin: Skin is definitely on the dry side. By the end of the day I can’t wait to get home to dunk my face in toner and oil. Pale with freckles. Starting to get some fine lines on my forehead, and crinkles around my eyes. I used to have some acne along my hairline, but since I cleaned up my diet (mainly cutting out junk food and sugar), this is much improved. The thing that still annoys me is the somewhat larger pores I have around my nose. I continue to search for toners/anything that will make those smaller!
Favorite star or icon from the past: Jane Birkin
In the shower…
WELL. If I am being good, I will dry brush first. Then I will take the smallest amount of coconut oil imaginable (like ¼-1/2 teaspoon) on a spoon, add some oregano oil, and “oil pull” by swishing that around in my mouth for the duration of the shower. I have a dream that I will do this every shower, and that it will result in white teeth and a perpetually clean mouth, but apparently I have a very strong gag reflex that is triggered by oil, which makes this something of a challenge. So, once in the actual shower, hair wet, I shampoo with Griffin volumizing shampoo (which is fantastic and I love it) and condition with Acure moroccan argan oil and stem cell conditioner. If I shower at the gym I use the Intelligent Nutrients PureLuxe shampoo and conditioner, which leave my hair smelling divine, but not quite as soft as the Acure. While the conditioner is working its magic, I suds up with Dr. Bronner’s bar soap in peppermint– I just love how tingly and fresh it feels. If I’m at the gym, I use Keys Windsurfer Biodegradable Sports Citrus soap, which smells like lime and is also very refreshing. I cleanse my face with the My Skin and Bones cleanser, which has a very sexy, almost masculine scent (but holds back from being too manly with a hit of ylang ylang) and little jojoba beads in it. If I shave, I use Dr. Bronner’s shave gel in Lavender. Oh, and after spitting out the coconut oil, I use a tongue scraper and then brush with Jason peppermint flavored toothpaste.
Outside the shower…
The first thing I do outside of the shower is apply the Acure Ultra Hydrating body lotion all over. I try to do this mostly on wet skin, because I read that it is even more moisturizing to do so. If I dry brushed before the shower, then I massage in Spiezia Organic Body Firming Oil into my legs– death to you, cellulite! This is one of the products I will definitely re-order when I run out. Once I’ve towel dried my hair a little bit, I run about two pumps of the Griffin leave in conditioner through my hair, focusing on the ends. Then I massage the My Skin and Bones moisturizer on my chest and neck for some extra anti-aging and good-smelling action there. Lately, I’ve also been dabbing my wrists with ylang ylang essential oil and then rubbing them behind my ears. Even if I add perfume later, this makes the shower part of my morning feel very luxurious. Then I spritz my face with the Berkana Way Venuceane Urban Skin Protection Facial Toner, and follow with the Keys ProBiome Anti-Aging Serum. I’ve tried many serums, and will continue to try out others, but I always go back to the Keys one in between experiments. It’s still the gold standard for me because it feels hydrating and my skin looks great when I use it consistently. Sometimes I will add an extra serum, the Sun Sense booster from Grateful Body, which is supposed to help the skin protect itself from the sun without any actual sunscreen– pretty cool.
Through trial and error, I have found several natural deodorants which are really effective and good-smelling. I mostly alternate between the Silver Body Deodorant by Berkana Way, and the Erbaviva Jasmine-Grapefruit one.
I aspire to someday have a really chic look for my hair, but for now, I almost always just let it air dry and put it in a bun. Once in a blue moon, I will massage some Yarok mousse into my roots, a very small amount of Yarok oil on the ends, and blow dry with a big barrel brush, and it looks crazy good. But I’m too lazy to do it all the time, so I tell myself that it’s for the best that I don’t heat-treat my hair normally.
My dad had skin cancer before I was born, so it was ingrained in me to always wear sunscreen (although recently, I’ve been laying off on my arms so that I can get more vitamin D). The two best natural ones that I have found (so far) are the Devita Solar Body Block, and BurnOut Eco Sensitive Clean and Clear Sunscreen. I love that they really go on like a lotion, don’t leave me chalky colored, and don’t feel like they are leaving a residue. I try to re-apply frequently on my hands, since they are in the sun pretty frequently, and hands can really show your age as you get older.
Now that it’s summer, I like to smell like Hawaii, so I frequently roll on Kai perfume, but I doubt that it’s clean. I have purchased samples of almost every perfume on Spirit Beauty Lounge in my quest for a clean signature scent. The one I’m circling in on buying is One Seed in Courage, which smells like apple cider from heaven.
I usually do a very basic makeup routine. For foundation, I use the Marie Veronique Moisturizing Face Screen SPF 20, in the lightest tint. It’s really great– but you have to use oil under it or it will sort of crumble off (based on my personal experience). My favorite makeup item of all time is probably the Vapour Aura Multi Use Stain in Lure, because it’s so versatile and flattering. I swipe some across my cheeks, blend just a tad, and do the same with my lips. If I have any blemishes, I use RMS un-cover 11 . It’s a bit too thick for my taste as an over-all foundation (I don’t want to rub too much) but just right for cover up. Finally, if I decide to get fancy, I’ll curl my eyelashes and apply some Zuzu mascara.
The things I really want to try are cleansing with manuka honey, body scrubs with coffee, and seaweed baths. In terms of makeup, I want the Vapour stains in every color, Kjaer Weis mascaras, the new Ilia lip crayons, and RMS Un-Powder. I am also excited to try Dr. Alkaitis’ Herbal Toner and Nourishing Treatment Oil– I am always drawn to the products that seem like they will be “hardcore” and effective.
Finally, I hope everyone enjoyed reading my routine, because I love reading everyone else’s. Thanks!
Meet Briana—a.k.a. Pepper—and her amazing morning routine. We love seeing a clean girl who really knows, loves, and finishes her products to the last drop. Honestly, this routine reads like a best-of list (and then some) of our absolute favorite clean brands. Bookmark this routine, ladies! It’s a serious resource. (Also, hilarious choice on Kimmy Gibbler, Briana.)
Name: Briana (I comment here as “Pepper”)
Age: 29 (30 in July!)
Current weather: Starting to get hot, lately it’s been humid, and rainy rainy rainy!
Hair: Bra-strap length, thick, wavy, frizz town. Every few months I go have my auburn color enhanced with dirty dye. I want to try henna but I’m waffling out of fear of clown-color red. I only have a few grays, I just really love having red hair! My roots come in all ashy and sad.
Skin: Pale, sensitive, prone to hormonal acne but mostly pretty clear.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Kimmy Gibbler
Before/In the shower at bedtime…
I usually shower at night and I wash my hair every other day or every two days. I do shower daily though – I can’t get comfy in my bed if I’m not clean! I take off my makeup with Stark GF balm and a wash cloth (I’m on the bottom of my third tub – can’t live without it!) If I think about it I’ll do some half-assed dry brushing before I get in the shower, sometimes with some Manuka on my face that I’ll rinse off in the shower. I wash my hair with John Masters Bare Shampoo, a henna shampoo bar I bought from Etsy, or my new favorite, Rahua. I also have a sample of Yarok because I want to see what the fuss is about! I can’t wait to try it. Once a week I’ll do an ACV rinse. For conditioner, I use Intelligent Nutrients Pure Luxe or John Masters Citrus & Neroli Detangler (love this JM conditioner so much!). I comb my conditioner through my hair and roll it up & clip it. Then I wash myself with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint soap on a sea sponge from Spirit Beauty Lounge. This is just the most refreshing soap ever! It makes me feel so tingly & clean, I can’t get enough of it! I also adore the Almond scented one. I rinse my conditioner out last, and I’ll try to rinse it with a shot of cold water. If I’m shaving (when I’m too lazy to use my epilator!), I’ll use a mix of the Dr. B’s & some coconut oil or some of my Pure Luxe.
Outside the shower…
I rotate around between coconut, sweet almond, Weleda Baby Calendula & Stark MF oils. Body oils are my jam! In the winter I also used Acure’s Lavender lotion, but I’m not needing much extra moisture these days. I spray my face with Evan Healy Immortelle Hydrosol http://www.evanhealy.com/products/show/67, and press in some serum or oil. I’ve recently been using Dr. Alkaitis Treatment Oil, and I also love Tata Harper Regenerating Serum & Kahina Giving Beauty Serum. I add a little swipe of Kahina Argan oil over the top. Once that absorbs, if I feel like a need a little more moisture I use Weleda Baby Calendula Face Cream and if I have a pimple it gets a dab of tea tree oil. Sometimes before a shower I’ll do a clay mask too. I’ve tried a bunch but right now I’m using Aztec Secret and mix it with a little ACV or manuka. While it’s not quite as classy as its pricier counterparts, the tub is huge and crazy cheap – if there’s a huge difference between that and other expensive clay masks my face can’t tell. I also use Hurraw! Moon Balm at bedtime.
For hair, if it’s air drying I’ll spray in some Yarok Feed Your Ends Conditioner (on my third bottle!) and use a little Rahua Finishing Cream on the ends. I twirl pieces with my fingers to control it a little, scrunch it with a t-shirt & leave it be. Now that my hair’s pretty long, being able to do this is just beyond amazing. My hair is so much healthier now that I’m mostly letting it do it’s thing. When it’s dry/mostly dry I go to sleep on a satin pillowcase to prevent breakage.
If I am blow-drying, which is maybe once a week, I use all of the above plus some Yarok mousse at the roots. I’ll smooth a little more Rahua cream over my frizzies once it’s dry, and spray on some Yarok Feed your Hold Hairspray. Also worth noting, I have two Widu brushes that are just the best! The wood paddle one & the mixed bristle one. I am a former hair product junkie. Junk-ie. Paring down to what I have now & using things until I run out of them is a massive accomplishment for me and I’m weirdly proud of it!
In the Morning…..
In the morning, I wash my face first thing. I love using Tata Harper Refreshing face wash or Acure Sensitive face wash with my Konjac Sponge (in total, mad, lifelong love with those weird little things) and a couple days a week I use May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt. I’m also working on a sample of Kahina face wash now. After that it’s a few sprays of Evan Healy Rose Geranium Hydrosol, then Stark CY oil. I stopped using this oil for a bit in a sampling frenzy and I actively missed it. I was so happy when my new bottle arrived!
My hair will go into a pony tail or a bun (I love my trusty Goody bun donut!), or I’ll use some Beautiful Curls Curl Reviving Tonic, which I’m on my second bottle of because this stuff is awesome, mixed with a little of Beautiful Curls’ curl gel to revive my waves/curls. If it’s a little flat, I’ll rub a bit of Yarok mousse into my roots and hit it with the blowdryer for a second. I’ll finish it with a tiny bit of John Masters Salt Spray or Yarok Hairspray & maybe smooth some Rahua cream over it. For deodorant, I use a homemade one. Equal parts arrowroot, aluminum free baking soda & coconut oil with tea tree, lavender & patchouli essential oils. Works like a freaking charm. I also keep a travel-sized Weleda Rose deodorant in my bag, just in case of a sweat-related emergency.
For our teeth, we use Jason Powersmile in peppermint.
I am one of those gals who rarely leaves the house with a bare face. Why? I don’t know. I just like feeling a little polished and I love makeup! My minimum is concealer and and couple dabs of blush, a sweep of mascara & some tinted lip balm. And while my routine seems full I apply everything with a very light hand.
I use Jane Iredale tinted moisturizer on my face & neck. Then it’s Vapour Illusionist Concealer for my under-eye area & RMS Un Cover up for my red splotches & any blemishes. I had to switch to a different concealer for my eye area, because the RMS was giving me little red bumps. It’s fine on the rest of my face, so I have no clue why it affected my eyes. Weird. But I love the Vapour concealer! I do a sweep of W3LL People Altruist Mineral Foundation or just Dr. Hauschka Body Silk Powder & then W3LL People Hedonist Mineral Bronzer in Light.
For blush, I rotate around a little between 100 Percent Pure blush in Healthy, or their Pot Rouge in Ballerina. I also love Vapour Aura Multi Use Stain in Impulse & their Blush in Courtesan. I top that off with some RMS Living Luminizer patted on my cheek bones, the bridge of my nose and around my orbital bone.
For eyes, sometimes I use my W3LL People bronzer as eyeshadow, or I’ll use a Korres one in Nude. For nighttime, I have RMS eyeshadow in Seduce and I like to use that as an eyeliner – I don’t use it often enough to notice if it give me the same bumps the un cover up does! I’ll also sometimes use a dark brown Korres eyeshadow with a wet brush to make a winged line. I fill in my brows with a little of Jane Iredale’s Pure Brow Gel in Brunette and then use some Tarte Lash Primer followed by Physician’s Formula Organic Wear Mascara Lash Boosting Mascara for day & Korres Volcanic Minerals Volumizing mascara at night.
And then there’s lip color! I have an arsenal. My every day go-to is Tata Harper Be Adored, which is a tinted lip balm in a beautiful rosy shade. I also love Hurraw! tinted lip balms in cinnamon and black cherry. For something more dramatic, like when my hair is up, I go for Ilia Bang Bang or RMS Lip Shine in Sacred. I have W3LL People’s lip gloss in gold too, which looks gorgeous over my Ilia lipstick. I also keep a John Masters lip balm in my bag, but mostly for my husband. He is a balm black hole – I have no idea what happens with all the ones I give him, but they just seem to vanish!
That’s it! Whew..
Meet Kayla—she’s always been a product enthusiast, only now she’s gone clean. Lucky for us, because she has a TON of great recs here including some makeup application tips. Enjoy!
Hometown: San Luis Obispo, CA
Current Weather: Sunny and cool.
Hair: Long, wavy, thick — I was a chronic hair-dyer but its mostly my natural color now.
Skin: I started getting acne in my early 20s, which was extremely frustrating after being blemish-free in my teen years, when I was expecting it! Guess I’m a late bloomer… Now I’m mostly clear with the occasional blemish or two, thanks to my mostly-clean beauty routine and avoidance of sugar.
Favorite star: Gwen Stefani
In the Shower…
In regards to my face, I’ve tried a few different products — including Proactiv which was DISASTROUS as one use made my face puff up like a blow fish. That was that! Now I use Dr. Alkaitis’ line of products – the cleanser, toner, soothing gel, nourishing treatment oil, and universal mask. The products are fantastic and my skin is much happier, but since the line is quite pricey I sometimes sub in plain ol’ Trader Joe’s tea tree cleanser, which seems to be working for me. On my body, I simply use Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap (especially the mint or rose scents, yum!) and a nice scrub brush to exfoliate. I love how soft my skin feels from the brush and how sudsy Dr. B’s gets. For my hair, I try not to wash it too often, but I exercise and get sweaty almost every day, so every-other-day washing is the least I can do. It’s softest with the Acure argan shampoo and conditioner, but the waves form the best with Rahua’s volumizing shampoo and conditioner, so I go back and forth with those. I shave with Trader Joe’s shaving cream (again, it offsets the price of my Dr. Alkaitis loves, plus I it makes the razor glide smooth, but itsn’t too thick like some other shaving creams). Finally, I use a pumice stone to attack my feet. I’m a long-distance runner, so that skin can get extremely rough if not tended to!
Outside the Shower…
I moisturize my body with plain coconut oil, which has been affordable, great on my skin, and I LOVE the tropical scent (as does my boyfriend). Like I said, I Dr. Alkaitis’ toner, gel, and a TINY drop of the nourishing oil on my face. I use the Dr. Alkaitis eye cream as well (even though I’m only 25, I think about wrinkles a lot and am taking precautions). After the shower and throughout the day, I use Weleda’s pomegranite hand moisturizer – also delicious smelling. And finally, a spritz of Honoré de Pres perfume — either Love Coconut or Vamp à NY, if I’m feelin’ sexy.
I LOVE makeup. Putting it on is one of my favorite parts of the day, and I never run out of products I want to try. I’ve always been a product whore, but now I try my best to be a natural product whore ;). I usually wear makeup every day, so I try to keep the products as clean as possible. One of my favorite beauty looks is strong eyebrows — unfortunately, I was gifted with naturally sparse eyebrows. So I fill them in with a medium-brown powder eyeshadow from Alima Pure. For some reason, my eyelids can get VERY oily. I never put oil around my eyes, and the rest of my face will be fine throughout the day, but my eyelids….ugh. I’ve tried applying powder before eyeshadow, I’ve tried a natural oil-fighting white tea gel, I’ve tried just about every primer out there… the ONLY thing that’s worked for me at all is Too Faced Shadow Insurance. So I use that, and then either the Blonde shade of eyeshadow from Alima Pure, which is my “no-makeup” looking eyeshadow, or Onyx from Kjaer Weiss, which applied gently is a nice light grey, applied more heavily creates a sulty, smokey eye. I have an array of other shadows as well from Alima, Kjaer, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Urban Decay…but those are the ones I use most frequently. I like Elizabeth Arden’s powder eyeliner, which I apply with small slanted brush. It goes on extremely black, and the powder stays on my eyes. With the brush, I can make the perfect kitten eye (like a cat eye, but less dramatic). I still use a dirty mascara… Cover Girl Lash Blast. I’ve tried many a natural mascara, but my eyelashes are about as sparse as my eyebrows, and I love a thick row of femme fatale lashes. For my face, I adore RMS un-cover up. It melts into the skin, and covers up red areas around my nose, small blemishes around my chin, and dark shades under my eyes wonderfully. However, if I get a REALLY scary blemish, which unfortunately does happen now and again….like when I visit my family for the holidays, of course…I use a tiny dab of Makeup Forever’s full cover concealer. After spot-correcting with concealer, I lightly buff on Alima Pure’s loose powder foundation. It evens out skin really well, but doesn’t have that I’m-wearing-foundation look and lets my freckles show. On my cheeks, I use either a tiny bit of Revolution Organic’s bright pink freedom glow beauty balm or RMS lip-to-cheek in smile. Then, on top of that, I might do a light dusting of Alima’s shimmering pink blush — but that’s only if I’m having a big night out, or if I know I’m going to have pictures taken of me, since powder blush is better for pictures than cream. Finally, I usually just use some natural balm on my lips, but every once in a while I’ll be feeling a Old Hollywood-style red lip. For that, I love Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic’s lip tar in NSFW. It’s a great, neutral red that really stands out and stays put — but you have to use a TINY dab with a lip brush, otherwise it will bleed. Trust me, a little goes a long way. And I might do one more final touch – RMS living luminizer on the top of my cheeks, under the brow bone, and on my ‘cupid’s bow.’
For my hair, I again use Dr. Alkaitis’ nourishing oil – one little pump is enough to smooth and soften my abundant, long hair. Then, after years of fighting them with a straightening iron, I’ve fallen in love with my natural waves, so I lightly spritz on Josie Maran’s Bohemian Waves Argan Hair Mist for the perfect beach-y texture. I dry my roots with the diffuser on the blow dryer to keep my waves in tact while giving my hair a little lift. The rest of my hair air dries. I think letting my hair air dry, along with the bit of natural oil I use, has been the biggest difference in transforming my formerly dyed, dry, overprocessed hair into the soft, healthy hair I have now. My hair dresser is very impressed! (Seriously, between the bleaching and the straight iron, sections of my hair were downright CRISPY a few years ago). I pretty much try to touch my hair as little as possible: no dying, minimal products, minimal drying, and then I don’t brush it or really try to touch it at all during the day — which helps keep the waves nice.
…I think that’s it!
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.
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.
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.