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Four Ways I Kept It Natural In China

Hello friends! This post is coming to you direct from… China! That’s right, I’m currently in Hong Kong, which is the last stop on a weeklong whirlwind tour of the country that included Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Dongguan. While I could talk a blue streak about the time I’ve had here, I’ll keep this post locked on everyone’s favorite topic: natural beauty.

First, some context. I’ve been away from home for over two weeks now. I started at a wedding, then went to SF for five days, and flew out of SFO to Hong Kong. I’ve taken three flights—four soon—and have avoided checking bags on all of them. I’ve been on more long drives than I can count.

Now, I know there have been heat waves stateside too, so you can possibly relate. But here in la Chine it’s been hot as h-e-double-hockey sticks, with like 100% humidity. What’s more, every day has been a marathon of sorts. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say it’s been shvitz city. Oh, and sleep has been scarce.

So there you have it. This trip, while totally amazing, was all but designed to make a girl look like a hot mess—and not in a good way. Here are the products that saved me from total disaster.

1. Hotel hair products

No kidding. The first hotel we went to in Shanghai had natural (or pretty natural) products, which could mean 1) that China is evolving faster than I thought or 2) the cause has gained serious steam. The more likely reality: This hotel is the nicest place I’ve ever stayed and the people who created this dreamy environment clearly have impeccable taste. Anyways, it solved my lack-of-haircare-products problem (remember, no bag checking). How could I tell they were clean? Entirely by smell and texture. We’re they perfect? Who knows. But they got the job done while here!

2. Hope Gillerman

If I could have one thing on a 14-hour flight, and one thing only, it would be Hope Gillerman. On my way to Hong Kong I must have applied and inhaled the muscle and travel remedies at least ten times. I did not have any jet lag on arrival, so draw your own conclusions. And I think my fellow travelers benefited from the spa-like environment these created on the plane.

3. Kahina Giving Beauty Argan Oil

This little beauty has done it all for me this week. Moisturize, remove makeup, make me feel less like a raisin on the aforementioned 14-hour flight and subsequent shorter ones. When traveling light, these all-in-one products are such a boon.

4. RMS Beauty’s lip-to-cheek

I cannot overestimate how my RMS lip-to-cheek in rapture saved my face this past week. In this kind of weather you just can’t wear makeup! I don’t care if it’s super-powered chemical crap, that stuff will smear when it’s this hot and humid. So I skipped makeup all together minus this, which I reapplied diligently throughout the day. It made me feel like a human on the days where I was sweating through my shirt and had only slept 3 hours.

What are your must-haves when traveling?

We’ve been talking a lot about eczema this past week, and Janine here is no stranger to it. In this great routine, she talks about keeping it at bay in sunny Miami, her love of Yarok, and a surprising reaction she had to… argan oil! Enjoy!
Name: Janine
Age: 25
Hometown: Miami
Profession: Sales for a wonderful eyewear brand while I go to school for massage therapy
Weather: Humid and warm
Skin: Olive toned, tan easily. I get the one guaranteed pimple a month during my period, but other than that I am pretty clear. I used to have combo skin with a good amount of blemishes and dry spots, but once I eliminated cleansers and soaps from my face, my skin has never been better. I have had eczema since I was 9, and the only thing that keeps it at bay is an ultra-moisturized and minimalist beauty regime. I got into a routine when I was 15 to use Dr. Bronners and natural body oils and have pretty much kept it that way for the last 10 years. However, after a gnarly allergic reaction to argan oil a few weeks ago (I slathered the stuff all over my face without patch testing it first), my eczema is back at full force and even my minimal routine has proven ineffective. So it has been tough to try to deal with my eczema when there is nothing much else to remove. It’s been getting better now that I have time to get some sun for 15 minutes a day at the beach during my lunch break (I work 1 block away from beach access!), and have eliminated soap from my routine, and gluten and dairy from my diet (and added lots of Vitamin D and Omegas).
Hair: Super dark, thick and wavy. Ever since the flare up, I’ve had some bad dandruff that I treat with this awesome homemade hair mask that I read on Yarok’s website. I never style it, as it dries wavy with no frizz. It’s an absolute dream, and its probably 40% genes, 60% Yarok shampoo. I will never change from that shampoo. Ever since you wrote it up a few months ago, I knew I had to try it and I instantly fell in love.
Star: Penelope Cruz
Before the shower…

I dry brush my entire body, taking the time to focus on my joints and always brushing towards my heart. I then do the Ayurvedic body massage that you so highly recommended and also take the time to focus on myself and have a few minutes of relaxation and meditation in the morning. I usually just use straight avocado, almond or coconut oil. I might add a few essential oil drops, but usually I leave it out. This is my time to focus on gratitude and acceptance for the body I have and I make it a point to tell myself that my knees are beautiful and my inner thighs couldn’t be more perfect. I think this has been really important for me and I have noticed an impact in the way I view myself on a regular basis since I started.
In the shower…

I try to save as much water as I can, and since most of my grooming takes place outside of the shower (including my hair removal with the use of an epilator), I just rinse off some of the oil, do some more massaging (I love massage!), and make sure i’m cleaning the bits that need a bit more attention and wet my hair. I use shampoo in my hair about twice a week with Yarok Shampoo. I know it’s pricey, but it is the best shampoo I have ever used in my life. And I believe in spoiling my hair, so a $50 shampoo that lasts me 4 months is worth it. And it is the only one that doesn’t cause me to itch (and it smells sooooo good).  I’ll wash my face with honey and maybe add in some sugar if I want a scrub. I always brush my teeth in the shower (which I’ve been told is a strange thing to do?) and will use Jason’s SLS-free toothpaste while I let the shampoo sink in. With this shampoo, there is no need for conditioner, even with my long thick hair, because of the softening seaweed in it. Usually my showers last less than a few minutes.
Outside the shower…

I pat dry my skin and am rarely ever oily, but am super moisturized, just the way I like it! I then use Egyptian Magic to moisturize my face, keeping my hair back in a bun until it sinks in. I hardly ever use deodorant, unless I know its going to be a long or activity-intensive day, then I will splash on some diluted tea tree oil and I’m good to go for hours.
Finishing touches…

I only wear kohl eyeliner. I started using a clean one by Daliia and it is fantastic! I’ve used dirty ones in the past that made my eyelids itch and my eyes dry, but this one is solid gold. It stays on pretty well throughout the day and will need only a touch-up if I end up going out at night.
In general I drink A LOT of water, as I’ve noticed a difference in my skin if I slack off. I also eat a vegan, gluten-free diet (minus the honey, obviously) high in fats. So lots of coconut oil (smoothies!), avocados, nuts, etc. I am confident that I will kick my eczema into submission with happy thoughts, water and lots of oil!
We believe too! Thanks for sharing.

Meet Heather, a working mom with two daughters (and sensitive skin), she still manages to make some DIY products. We love it! We’ve included her inception story below—thanks for sharing it, Heather!
I have been enjoying your series on morning routines and I wanted to throw mine into the mix.  My skin and haircare rituals have changed in the past couple of years, mainly because of your book!  I can’t even remember how I came across it, but I started reading No More Dirty Looks, on a Friday in 2011 and by Sunday evening I had looked up all my products on the EWG’s database, Skin Deep.  Horrified with what I found, I ended up tossing about 90% of them and decided to start over.  Shortly thereafter, I had a skin consultation with holistic esthetician and herbalist, Emma Graves, which totally rocked my world (insofar as a facial can be world altering).  My skin is sensitive and prone to rosacea, and she suggested I dispense with soap and moisturizer altogether.  Her company, Between You and The Moon, makes an organic grain facial cleanser, Sow Your Wild Oats  and a moisturizing oil called Nourish and Replenish that I love.  Soon, I started experimenting with making some of my own products and found it was easier than I thought (and fun, too!).   My youngest daughter also has very sensitive skin and we needed to find a lotion for her that was free of any chemical preservatives, so I found a simple recipe and now the whole family uses my Honey/Lemon Body Lotion.  I also make my own oat-almond cleanser and deodorant, too, and have documented my various experiments in kitchen cosmetics on my blog, Domaphile.

As a working mother with daughters aged 6 and 9, my morning routine is not very relaxing and is usually punctuated by packing lunches and trying to get them out the door to school.  On the weekends, I try to take a little more time and like to mix up face and hair treatments in the kitchen.  Sometimes my kids get into the act, too, but mostly they just think I’m weird for “putting all that gunk on my face!”

Name:  Heather

Age:  41

Hometown: New York City

Profession: Art Librarian and blogger at Domaphile.com

Weather: Snowmaggedon!

Skin: Fair and Sensitive. I have a bit of rosacea, which I control with diet and by using really mild products on my skin. Now that I am in my 40s, I am noticing some changes in my skin and am really glad I have discovered non-chemical ways to deal with them. I also think my daily smoothie habit has done wonders for my skin – you are what you eat, after all!

Hair: Dark, medium length. Straight and fine with very little body (sigh).

Star: Audrey Hepburn

In the shower…

Weekday mornings are a little crazy around here, trying to get everyone out the door, so I often do everything in a rush.  I only wash and dry my hair every three days or so and it totally throws a wrench into my morning, so I have to make sure the hair washing falls on a day when I don’t have to take my kids to school.   I’ve been experimenting with homemade shampoos, but I haven’t made anything I like as much as the John Master’s Zinc & Sage Shampoo with Conditioner, and I usually follow it up with the Rosemary & Peppermint Detangler, also by John Masters.  For the body, I use the Dr. Bronner’s bar soap – usually Baby Mild or Peppermint –  for both washing and shaving.

Outside the shower…

Once out of the shower, I wash my face. When I am out of Sow Your Wild Oats, I make my own basic face cleanser out of oat flour, almond meal and milk powder.  During the week, I mix it into a paste with a little water (or rosewater) and on the weekends, I make a simple mask with raw honey and plain yogurt.  I moisturize with a few drops of Nourish & Replenish oil mixed with a bit of water and I try to take a few extra moments to really massage the oil into my face.  I then move on to the deodorant and body lotion which I make myself.  Right now I am using a winter body cream that is a combination of coconut oil, almond oil and shea butter.  I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration and recipes from Crunchy Betty – she has a great e-book for making products for acne-prone and sensitive skin.

On the days I wash my hair, I towel dry it as much as possible and add a few drops of argan oil.  The thing I hate most is drying and styling my hair, but if I don’t I end up looking like Janice from the Electric Mayhem, which motivates me to pick up the hair dryer. My tresses are straight and fine, so I need to use some kind of product to give it a bit of extra body.  I have experimented with making my own hair gel using flax seeds, but it is a messy business that involves straining them through a nylon sock, so I have given up on that and use the Giovanni Volumizing Styling Gel instead. I generally use Tom’s to brush my teeth, but have lately been experimenting with making my own toothpaste using baking soda, coconut oil and peppermint stevia. Still working on that one.

Finishing touches…

I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I love RMS “un-cover up” (thanks to your book), and I like Annette’s practice of mixing her tinted cover-up with John Master’s SPF 30, so I’m going to try that.  For my eyes, I use a tiny bit Josie Maran’s liquid liner and Dr. Hauschka’s mascara. I don’t wear shadow unless I am going out at night, and then use a basic palate from Josie Maran.  For lips, I just use the Burt’s Bees tinted gloss – my favorite color right now is Fig.  My entire makeup application routine takes less than five minutes.

I try to take off my makeup as soon as I get home from work in the evening.  I use olive oil or almond oil to remove my eye make up, wash my face with the oat powder or just some plain, raw honey. To moisturize, I use about 6 drops of BYATM oil mixed with a little water. If I have the time, I will try to wash and dry my hair at night so I don’t have to deal with it in the morning.


Thank you thank you! After last week’s post, we got a bunch of submissions from a variety of wonderful women. Don’t forget to send yours if you haven’t yet! Today meet Annette: She hates to shower, which kind of makes us love her. Enjoy her awesome routine!

Name:  Annette

Age:  49

Hometown:  Manteca, CA

Current weather:  Sunny, cold (for CA)

Hair: Chin length, colored, fine and wavy

Skin:  Fair, freckled, “mature”

Favorite celebrity:  Lauren Hutton.  She just gets more badass the older she gets.

In the shower…

Full disclosure. I hate to shower. It takes too much time out of the morning; time I would rather be doing other things before I have to get to work. The warm water makes me itchy and my face gets flushed.  I don’t sweat much and I’m not very hairy (thanks to getting rid of toxic products, I believe).  Instead, I do what my mom calls a “bird bath.”  I clean the pits, bits, and feet, dry brush the rest and apply oil.  It’s Diva Wash on the bits and Whole Foods olive oil soap for the pits and feet. I use Tom’s deodorant.  I will hop in the shower on the weekend or if I don’t have to work so as not to freak out the hubby.

I wash my hair a couple times a week with Rahua volumizing shampoo.  I condition every day with Yarok Feed Your Volume conditioner.  I just recently switched to the Yarok and I’m happy with it.  I’ve gotten second-day hair a few times, something that didn’t happen with what I was using before.

Outside the shower…

Whether I’ve showered or just dry brushed, I massage in argan oil.  I’ve tried lots of lotions and other oils and the argan provides lasting moisture but is not at all greasy. It’s more expensive than other oils, but it’s so multi-purpose I feel like I cut down on multiple products.  Kahina makes the best, but Mountain Rose Herbs has a good version for a lot less money.

I wash my face at night.  I oil up my face, neck and chest with argan oil, using it around my eyes to remove my eye makeup.  While the oil sits I use a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel to remove the oil from around my eyes and some warm water and a washcloth to remove my mascara.  I use a Pai muslin cloth and nice warm water to massage the makeup/oil off my face.

I use a splash of witch hazel and a drop of carrot seed oil as toner.  While my skin is still damp I rub in one squirt of the Kahina Brightening Serum and a couple drops of argan oil.

In the morning I put some raw, organic honey on my chin, jawline and temples and let it sit while I get ready to wet my hair.  I tend to get bumpy through those areas and the honey helps keep them clear. After I have washed and/or conditioned my hair I repeat the toner/serum/argan oil mixture from my night routine.  This sets the stage for my SPF/foundation combination.  I comb out my hair to let it air dry while I put on my makeup, making sure the insane cowlick at the crown of my head is covered and behaving itself.

Finishing touches…

I mix one squirt of John Masters SPF 30 Sunscreen and the same size dollop of Jane Iredale Dream Tint.  I love the Dream Tint. There’s no mica so it isn’t at all shiny. I really dislike being shiny.

I use a small angle brush to apply Jane Iredale PureMatte powder on my eyelids, under my eyes and around my nostrils.  I plump up my brows with Jane Iredale Purebrow.  I still need a little filling in so I use Cover Girl eyebrow pencil.  I chose this one because it’s a nice taupe.  Even though I have dark hair I don’t want a dark eyebrow pencil.  It’s too severe.

I line my upper lids and the outer half of the lower lids with Nuance by Salma Hayak in brown.  On my lids I use Universalist 2 (from my Quarterly package).  I’m surprised how much I like it.  I didn’t like the RMS Living Luminizer all that much.  In the crease it’s 100% Pure’s “Toffee.”  I finish off the eyes with Nuance by Salma Hayak Ultra-Defining Mascara in black.

I would LOVE to let my hair air dry but it’s too fine.  It really needs some love from the blow dryer to help with volume. I also have to tame a few spots with a curling iron.  It sounds like a lot but it’s really very fast.  Once it’s dry I hit it with a few sprays of Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Hairspray.

That’s it.  Pretty simple really.  So much more simple than when I was “dirty.”

Thanks to Siobhan and Alexandra for this venue and to everyone who shares her wisdom.  I have benefitted greatly from what I have learned here.  I look forward to learning so much more!

Thank you too! And everyone who participates here. x

I seem to have found a new mask I love, and this one is from Acure, a line I’m loving more by the week. I still use their shampoo and conditioner (which you can get as a package deal over at our OpenSky shop for $22!!), and after our tireless search for the perfect boysturizer, the verdict from our man tester was that Acure’s Oil Control Day Cream was the big winner. (The product is unisex, obviously, but the smell and packaging are definitely gender-neutral.)

Anyway, this morning I woke up feeling less than lustrous, so I tried a new mask while I dried my hair. It was the Cell Stimulating Facial Mask from Acure, and I’m a convert. (And to give credit where credit is due, this is thanks to Spirit Demerson, who introduced me to it over drinks the other night!)

Like all Acure products, the price point is nice—it’s $15.99—and so are the certified-organic ingredients, which are listed below.

The heavy lifting here is done, of course, by the green clay, which is a natural detoxifier and skin refiner. We love clay, as we’ve said many many times before, and I still spot treat with powdered green tea clay mélanges from my new favorite clay, from Stark.

But sometimes you want a mask that’s already a mask—no powder, no mess, and not too drying.

I found that in this mask, which dried in about 15 minutes, and foams slightly when you splash it off with water. I found the suds surprising, but that’s probably the vegetable glycerin talking. And I’m happy to say that thanks to the oils in there—and I don’t count argan oil among them, since it’s the second last ingredient on the deck—my skin was left feeling soft and hydrated, and looking a little more radiant.

Ingredients: euterpe oleracea (acai) berry*, rubus fruticosus (blackberry)*, rosa canina (rosehips)*, punica granatum (pomegranate)*, fair trade rooibos*, aloe barbadensis vera leaf juice, french green clay, vegetable glycerin, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (from coconut + amino acids), vegetable cellulose gum, sodium cocoyl isethionate (from coconut), chlorophyll, chlorella pyrenoidisa extract (chlorella growth factor)*, glucono delta lactone (sugar enzyme), fair trade theobroma cacoa (cocoa) butter*, carageenan (algae), hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) seed oil, ubiquinone (coq10), spinosa (argan) stem cell, potassium sorbate (food grade preservative), argania spinosa (argan) oil*, and sage & spearmint essential oil blend.

Have you found a new mask you love?