Do You Buy Your Beauty Products Online?

It’s not exactly news that people are buying more and more stuff online. Ecommerce sales are expected to hit a cool $370 billion by 2017. And just this past holiday season, UPS and Fed Ex struggled to keep up with the unexpected surge in online sales.

But it’s one thing to take a chance on a pair of shoes and quite another to purchase something that’s going on your skin. Color-matching and smell are especially tricky when buying beauty stuff at a distance.

We were talking about this the other day with the crew and determined that we all fall into one of these three online shopping profiles: 1) only willing to buy products we know; 2) willing to buy and return (returns, however, aren’t often possible with beauty goods); and 3) willing to buy to try but can’t be bothered to return (unless something is super pricey).

I work in the ecommerce world, so I’m probably not the most unbiased guinea pig, but I’m definitely becoming increasingly comfortable shopping online—maybe a little too comfortable! Still, I tend to fall into category uno: While I’ll totally hit up a Nubonau to re-up on favorite products, I don’t tend to buy things I’ve never tried.

Case in point: I’ve been greedily eyeing the Kjaer Weis line for just about forever. But it wasn’t until Evolue started offering the products in-store a few months back (run, don’t walk, LA ladies) that I finally took the plunge. (And what a plunge it was: I’m especially in love with the sun touched cream blush and goddess lip tint.)

What about you? Where are you buying your beauty products, and what are your online shopping practices?

You guys!! It’s finally happened. We’ve found a line that is clean, affordable, and totally man-friendly in the way it looks, smells, and feels. Heck, you could almost call it a men’s line—but  why limit something so awesome?

Like many brands I adore, my first intro to the Prada Lab line was from Evolue. I took one look at the ingredients on the moisturizer—basically argan oil, and a blend of my favorite bee-derived actives—and knew it would be love. The bottles are simple, with clean graphic design, and fresh pops of color. They feel modern and masculine, so I wasn’t surprised when Jean told me the founder and creative director was… get ready… a man!! (His name is Tony Prada, if you were wondering about the Prada thing.)

To our male readers—we know you’re out there, and we’re sorry we don’t serve you better. And to the women who have been forcing clean products on their sons, brothers and boyfriends, here is one without the lavenders and ylang ylangs (that we’ve grown to love, and they continue to hate).

The line has four products, but two of them are scrubs—one for face and one for hands. I have not opened the hand one, but I love the idea of it. I’m just not the kind of girl who pays much attention to my feet and hands (and it’s not pretty). Maybe this weekend I’ll give them a pamper with this stuff. As for the facial one, if I’m being honest—made from sugar, almonds, dates and honey—I have more interest in eating it than rubbing it on my face. But that’s just ’cause I don’t go in for face scrubs… The cleanser and lotion though, are a whole other story.

Lotion: If you, or the man/men in your life, hate greasy, heavy, scented lotions, this is anything but. Made from argan oil, white tea, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and little else, this light lotion is hydrating and nourishing without all the weight and density. Don’t get me wrong, a love greasy and heavy some days here in So-Cal, and this is still oil based—it’s just lighter in feel due to the combination of ingredients. And I’m convinced it will make the perfect moisturizer for all of you gals running around New York, and other humid-as-heck cities, this summer.

Ingredients: Organic Argan Oil, Organic White Tea, Organic Calendula, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, Propolis Extract & 100 % Pure Love.

Volcanic Ash Hydrating Facial Cleanser: As you might know, I like washing my face with things like dirt (aka clay) and honey—and this product contains both. It feels a lot like a simple honey cleanser, but it has a very subtle and fine grit to it that I love. That must be the volcanic ash, a type of clay that apparently dates back to Cleopatra’s beauty regimen. The other ingredients in here are either anti-bacterial, depuffing, or so-called anti-aging (ie. containing antioxidants). We like such things, especially in a product that is completely non-stripping. Booya.

Ingredients: Triple Purified Water, Volcanic Ash, Organic Dates, Organic Honey, Organic Fennel, Organic Myrrh, Organic Bee Pollen, Royal Jelly, Propolis Extract & 100% Pure Love.

Have you heard of this line or tried it?

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??

And, of course to the gents out there, what would you ask your lady friends to change?

Last night Evolue hosted an event for Pregnancy Awareness Month (PAM) and it got me thinking: What would be left to change in my routine if I were to get pregnant?

I gave a little talk with two of my favorite women in green beauty (precisely because they couldn’t look less green!): Anya Sarre, who told her hilarious a-ha story and gave great tips for looking and feeling good while knocked up, and Bethany Wojteck from Arcona (a great line, especially for anyone with problem skin!). Anya is about 7 months pregnant, and Bethany has a 9 month old (though you’d never know by looking at her) and while both women have been super conscious and careful for some time it was interesting to hear the additional sacrifices they made during pregnancy.

Now, it’s not like I’m planning a pregnancy right this second, but I’m well aware that the time before one gets pregnant is very important, and while the baby is cooking it’s downright critical to be careful of chemical exposure—especially given the new science emerging around endocrine disruptors.

BPA has now been shown to permanently change gene expression, a subject I made Siobhan explain to me in extremely explicit laymen’s terms over gchat yesterday (she’s so good at this stuff!). Basically this means, and correct me if I’m wrong S, that if a fetus is exposed to BPA in utero there is the potential for it to change the signal a given gene is supposed to send. A gene that was meant to do X, may now do Y (pun intended on this one), and it won’t change back again. While this research is still very new and we can’t say for sure how these fetuses will be affected as adults, we know that BPA—which is mildly estrogenic—has been linked to things like obesity, early puberty in women, infertility in men and so on.

Ugh. Which takes me to what I would change in the months prior to trying, and in the event that I got pregnant. I would definitely avoid all canned things (which is really tough for me) because the liners almost always contain BPA, including my favorite sardines (sad face) and the  “natural” soda Zevia that I love, who at least address the issue on their site. I’d also probably avoid any salon treatments—nails and hair—even though I know it’s really important to feel pretty and pulled together during those pregnancy months! Some women just go once or twice for a little pick-me-up, and I totally get it.

Oh, and I’d probably get really annoying about fragrance and ask people I work with not to wear any. And I’d throw out the last few cleaning products I have that are totally toxic (hello Ajax). I would also try to drive our old Jeep more, because I think (though I’m not sure) that older cars have less chemical crap in them.

What am I missing? Surely something! What did you change during your pregnancy, or would you give up if you were planning to get knocked up?


We’re Going to the Emmys!

What you’re looking at is 1200 books—books that I drove in my friend’s truck yesterday to a warehouse deep in Burbank, where they will be put into (extremely fabulous) gift bags headed to the Entertainment Tonight Emmy party on Sunday. [Insert girly screams.]

The type of folks who usually get their products into these bags (think Rolex and resorts) are not, you know, two journalists trying to take on the beauty business. Needless to say, we are thrilled to bits.

We have to thank Anya Sarre: stylist to the stars, supporter of the movement, and my favorite unlikely clean girl (she’s living proof that anyone can go clean, even people who appear on TV), and Jean Seo at Evolue who completely coordinated with Anya to make this happen. We love you girls!

Expect a Friday Deal from Evolue tomorrow (hint-hint it might involve one of my favorite concealers), and cross your fingers that No More Dirty Looks will become beauty bible to the stars. Ok, I’m pushing it, but cross your fingers anyways! Now go back to meditating. :)