Here’s the rub with natural face care lines: They can feel a bit samesame after a while. A non-foaming cleanser, an amazing oil, and maybe a lovely hydrosal toner or spray…

Don’t get me wrong, we love this formula—less is more, and it’s precisely this simple well-executed combination of pure ingredients that made us first fall for the likes of Kahina, Stark, and Evan Healy. But once you have your faves, it’s hard to justify trying 20 other brands that offer something similar. That’s why this May Lindstrom line jumped out at me on first use.

My intro to the line came from natch beauty glamour girl Spirit Beauty. “You have to try it,” she said in a Facebook message. And within a month of her sending it my way, I got an email from Evolue inviting me by for a facial with May. Hmm, a new line so quickly available at two of our favorite retailers? This was boding well.

The products are really special, in many ways. First the packaging: Done in a beautiful black glass with gold lettering, it brings all kinds of glamour to this line, that could easily have felt a bit crunchy given its ingredients. Instead, really beautiful. May herself is also a vision. At the risk of sounding like some silly magazine article about a celebrity, I will anyways: This woman is gorgeous, with the kind of skin so impeccable and glowy that it’s almost hard to look at. Like the sun!

But looks can be deceiving. When May and I met she described the horror stories of her various environmental sensitivities and the problem skin she had. A country girl at heart—who’s been mixing her own products since childhood—when she first came to LA (to be a chef) the city wreaked a debilitating havoc on her skin from head to toe. Through diet and natural products (and fewer products), she eventually found her way, and ended up reticently becoming a model. It was on set one day that she had her a-ha moment to start her own brand.

“I’d very quickly mixed an oil one morning to bring to the shoot,” she told me. And lo, everyone there was trying it and begging her to make them some.

So the line. I’ve tried everything at this point other than the body oil, and there’s nothing I don’t like. Her Youth Dew serum is a beautiful oil blend that competes with faves and smells amazing—I’m a sucker for geranium I’ve come to learn. Here are the ingredients:

persea americana (avocado) oil*, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam seed) oil*, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil*, olea europaea (olive) oil*, prunus spp (plum kernel) oil, hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) oil*, rosa rubiginosa (rosehip seed) oil*, punica granatum (pomegranate) oil*, calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) oil*, borago officinalis (borage seed) oil*, aleurites moluccans (kukui nut) oil, oenothera biennis (evening primrose) oil*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium rose) essential oil*, citrus paradisi (grapefruit) essential oil*, citrus sinensis (sweet orange) essential oil*, citrus limon (lemon) essential oil*, rosa damascena (rose absolute) essential oil*, rosa damascena (bulgarian rose) essential oil*, citrus aurantium (neroli) essential oil*, daucus carota (carrot seed) essential oil***, ubiquinone (coenzyme q10).

But for me the standouts are The Clean Dirt “cleanser” and The Problem Solver mask.

The Clean Dirt: This cleansing clay comes dry, which I love because it never goes bad. You pour a little into the palm of your hand and add a few drops of water then begin mixing. You can also mix it with a brush, as May did when she gave me my facial. It’s hard to describe this stuff, it doesn’t actually foam but science happens and the mixture expands into an airy kind of paste. It’s consistency is definitely exfoliating by nature so you don’t need to scrub it too much. Just smooth it over your face, let it sit for a minute and then rinse. It feels great, and gives an instant glow.  Here are the ingredients:

white halloysite clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay,  red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), sodium bicarbonate, althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*,rosa centifolia (pink rose)*, calendula officinalis (calendula) flower*, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, curcuma longa (turmeric)*, zingiber officinale (ginger)*, vanilla planifolia bean*, theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**.

The Problem Solver: This product feels like the cleanser’s more intense cousin. The process is the same, but the idea is to leave on this jet-black clay mask for up to 45 minutes (I personally don’t go that long though, 15 is fine by me). Note: This product feels very active, and sting-tingles a little on the skin. But I’ve done it numerous times and the flush only lasts a few minutes for me, and it really feels like it’s jump-starting my circulation. I don’t use it that often, but when I do I feel like my skin has a new lease on life. I also use it to spot treat incoming pimples. Here are the ingredients:

fuller’s earth clay, red moroccan rhassoul clay, theobroma cacao (raw cacao)**, red alaea sea salt, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), sodium bicarbonate, bamboo carbon charcoal powder, vanilla planifolia bean*, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower*, althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*, boswellia carteri (frankincense)***, centella asiatica (gotu kola)*, archangelica (angelica) root*, cinnamomum zeylanicum (cinnamon)*, myristica fragans (nutmeg)*, syzygium aromaticum (clove)*, curcuma longa (turmeric)*, capsicum annuum (cayenne) pepper*.

One note that I failed to mention in the first draft of this post: These two products come in HUGE containers. The cleanser is nearly 7 oz. and the mask is over 8 oz., which is about 4x the size of comparable products. Just wanted to clear that up since there have been many comments around price. At $60, the cleanser is actually on the more reasonable side at that size.

May herself is a major product minimalist, so she says some people use the cleanser every day, while others only use it a few times a week. I’m in the second camp, and I have a feeling she might be too. That’s another thing I really love about these two products: While they’re not inexpensive, they will probably last me for close to a year. And if there’s any confusion about how to use, you can watch May’s videos on her site and on the sites that carry the line.

Have you tried this line? What do you think??

18

Happy Friday Deal From Kahina Giving Beauty!

Aww, yeah!

Our old favorites are back in time for the holidays, and not a minute too late. I, for one, have simultaneously run out of my brightening serum, toning mist (more here), and cleanser, all of which I swear by for everyday use. And, really, I’m not sure there’s anything I want more for Christmas than the things I depend on daily to keep me feeling (and, OK, looking) my best.*

Some reasons we love the products, if you’re new to Kahina Giving Beauty: The line is incredible. Their products have been in my bathroom and on my vanity for more than three years now, and there are a few good reasons why. First, the products are gentle enough for my very sensitive skin. Second, they’re so full of natural actives that you get the satisfaction of knowing, because of what you see in the mirror and how your skin feels, that they work. Finally, they’re pleasant to share. Men like them because they’re unisex and unfussy but get the job done. Our moms like them because they’re appropriate for more mature skin, too. Our friends like them because they give them a taste of luxury and high-performance without being frou-frou or gimmicky.

Simply put: They work. And like a great friend or partner, they’re reliable and they make you feel good, day in, day out.

Without being over the top, I’d like to add: I’m also wild about the eye cream and the mask and the argan oil soap trio. They’re also selling these unpredictably chic pouf necklaces (I have one of those, too). They make boring outfits pop and attract compliments from the most unlikely people, like cranky strangers on the train.

So with that said, this Friday we’re delighted to share a very merry Kahina site-wide deal. It’s simple: A generous 15% off your purchase. The code is nondenominationally charming: HAPPYMERRY. And the deal lasts until next Thursday at midnight.

What are you getting? I hope my pals and mom aren’t reading this, because I think I just gave away what’s going in their stockings.

* K, maybe there are a few things, but they’re not the kind of things I would print here. Womp!

63

How Often Do You Wash Your Face?

This morning I was poking around one of my favorite style-photography sites (the toujours-charmante Garance Doré’s) and saw the headline “Water.” In it, she pays her dermato a visit with a long list of questions and skincare concerns and comes away with just one startling piece of advice:

“Your skin is very good. It’s just exhausted. The only thing you need is to: Stop water.

I almost started to cry. I’ve been told for years that water is not good for my skin (is it good for anybody’s skin?) but I resist. I rebel. For me, being clean equals using water and something that foams a lot. I knew that one day at the turn of my century, I would pay the price of my mindlessness, but not unlike Pete Doherty, I prefered to ignore the advice of people who cared for me.

I was always choosing the dark side of the force, and that is to say : WATER

I’ve heard of this before and I think it’s definitely a French thing, but it got me thinking. How do you keep your face from getting wet in the shower? And if you’re not using any water but you are wearing makeup, then whaaaa? Using a cream cleanser and wiping it off with cotton? Wouldn’t that leave residue that you would then need a toner or something to get off? Seems laborious to me! And it also seems like it would necessitate more products, not fewer, which is not in keeping with my less-is-more philosophy. Maybe Garance’s skin is exhausted from the foaming cleanser she’s using? Who knows! My suspicion has always been that water is less of a problem; it’s what you use with it that can make your skin sad.

We’ve talked about being dirty over here before. We even roped you all into a no-soap challenge that was, in our estimation, a pretty big success! But we exempted washing your hair, your face and your underarms/privates because, well, that seemed the right thing to do.

There were times (years, actually) when I didn’t feel clean unless I washed my face upwards of three times a day, and wiped it down with alcohol-laced toners. Now I know better, and what works best for me is if I only wash my face at night, to get off my makeup, sunscreen and grime from the filthy city I live in. But I don’t wash it in the morning; I use a clean muslin cloth and wipe down with…water. At night I use Tata Harper’s Regenerating Cleanser.

What’s your take? Do you wash your face twice a day, and if so, why? And have you ever forsaken water?

Image via

Below is a post from Well+GoodNYC, a web site devoted to beauty, health, wellness in its many forms that we absolutely love. Founded by journalists Melisse Gelula and Alexia Brue, W+G has become a go-to for us, and we hope it will be for you, too. You’ll see them around these parts every week, and we’re thrilled to have them!

Cetaphil probably has the best PR of any facial soap. Beauty magazines gush over it as a no-frills $8 must-have. Dermatologists love to recommend it as a mild and non-irritating facial cleanser for two reasons: it doesn’t contain fragrance and, more tellingly, because MDs have a big Pharma love affair with the manufacturer, Galderma, the offspring of Nestlé and L’Oréal, which also makes acne drugs like Differin.

And yet there’s nothing healthy about this face-washing prescription.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser contains just eight ingredients: water, cetyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearyl alcohol, methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben.

All but the water are chemically manufactured (let’s hope), and propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and the three parabens have a seat on the dirty dozen, a list of cosmetic ingredients to avoid as potentially toxic.

Read the rest of the post here.

Image via

3

Meet Our New Boy Hero: Sean Bonner, Dirty Bird

It’s obviously a great time to be a dirty bird. In July we confessed our hatred of soap and in November we felt vindicated by a New York Times article about people who are forgoing soap and other cleansers in an effort to embrace a more laissez faire (and healthy) approach to personal hygiene. Now, there’s a piece flying around the internet about a guy who stopped using soap and shampoo for a whole year, and liked it so much he has announced he’ll be sticking with it. My friend Patrick James, a great writer who I used to work with at GOOD, alerted us to it the other day with his post, which you can—and should—read here.

It probably goes without saying that this great unwashed boy blogger Sean Bonner is our new hero. We haven’t smelled him or anything, but we believe him when he says he banished his BO and finds his hair more manageable than ever before.

He wrote about it for BoingBoing last week and here are his results:

—My skin feels better than ever before. Not that it ever felt bad, really, but it feels awesome now.

—Still no stink at all. I swear even when I’m really active and sweating I don’t notice any B.O., and I used to be über self-conscious about this and would think I was stinking if I walked up a flight of stairs too quickly.

—Dandruff is history.

—My previously wavy and mostly unmanageable hair now seems much more willing to bend to my will, a dream of mine since I first looked in a mirror, brush in hand, then tried and failed to make any sense of that monster.

—Unexpected bonus: travel is much easier.

We agree! His conclusion:

I will definitely be sticking with this. I’m still annoyed it took me 35 years to learn what I clearly already knew as a baby kicking and screaming when my parents tried to wash my hair. I know now, but I’d still rather not think about how much I spent on soap and shampoo and related products over the years when they were likely causing all the problems I was trying to protect against.

Amen.

Image that doesn’t really make sense given the topic of the post via