10

Weekend Wellness: Flowers On the Go

It’s Friday and I’m thinking about my weekend. I’ll be traveling, which means figuring out how to recharge without the luxury of time to myself. No lounging about with my newspapers and a rich face mask. No long walks in the arboretum or people gazing from the patio of my favorite Capitol Hill cafe. This weekend will be a fast-paced punch in the face, leaving stars in my eyes come Monday morning, but I say bring it! I’ve got this.

Even in a rush or away from home, you can build in moments of pure detachment from your daily thought load and engage your senses in an elemental way, the kind that really hits reset. For me, the answer is always flowers. The biggest reason I’m drawn to natural products—at least the most carnal reason—is the heavenly (earthly?) scent of expertly blended essential oils and flower essences.

Flowers are my greatest source of therapy and I suspect they play a role in your pretty life, too.

Here are my flower picks for a hectic weekend on the go…

Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy: This weekend I’ll be driving up the east coast in heavy Friday evening traffic. Tomorrow I’ll venture even further up the coast by train. Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy will steady any motion sickness and help me feel grounded as my surroundings change. The lemon-balm scent comes from a blend of some of my favorite oils: litsea cubeba, lavender, palmarosa, orange, atlas cedar, petitgrain, and birch. This travel staple comes in a small roll-on bottle, perfect for your purse.

LURK PRJ V1: Have you tried this natural fragrance line? Are these precious little bottles to die for or what? It was a great pleasure to sample the LURK line and speak with the lovely founder, Anne Sanford, at the Night For Green Beauty. PRJ V1 is a heady, sensuous blend with a crisp finish that keeps the overall effect fresh. Expect a perfect marriage of jasmine, rose, and petitgrain. Dab it generously on your wrists and behind your ears and come back for more as often as you please.

Bach’s White Chestnut Flower Essence: The unfinished chores or other loose ends in my life won’t bother me while I’m away. Nope, White Chestnut flower essence will interrupt the endless to-do lists that run through my head and help me live in the moment, unencumbered by worries that just aren’t productive. Have you tried flower essences?

One Love Organics Vitamin D Mist: The latest collaboration from dream team Suzanne LeRoux and Elizabeth Dehn is a gorgeous aromatic mist that kisses your face with gentle alpine rose, and this baby is multifaceted. I’ll use it to rehydrate throughout my trip, set my makeup in the mornings, and tone my face in the evening.  The bottle delivers a super fine mist that floats onto your skin, unlike some that drench your face in one spot. The formula features antibacterial Shiitake mushroom extract, which soothes irritation and redness. The rosey scent is faint but marvelous.

Pratima Amla Collagen Cream: This is the only cream that can lure me away from my precious oils. It has a cooling effect on my Pitta skin, and though it is meant to treat dry skin, this cream is not heavy and sinks in beautifully. I love to smooth this over my neck and décolleté. The texture and Ayurvedic ingredients are simple and divine, but it’s the scent that has me hooked. Organic essential oils of rose, geranium, lemon, and cardamom give this cream a sweet, delicate aroma that makes me feel well-loved and dreamy. Its skin-plumping effect doesn’t hurt, either.

Rishi Wild Rose Tea: This tea is one of those little luxuries that makes me stop and appreciate my position in life. The delicate rose aroma soothes and rejuvenates my spirit. The flavor is subtle, not overpowering or too floral. I like to add some mint leaves to the blend for a mid-morning refresher, or drink with some honey in the evening to wind down. Traveling with loose tea can be impractical, but T-Sacs make it easy. Pop into a Starbucks, grab a free cup of hot water, and brew your own elevating rose tea.

Erbaviva Relax Spray: Organic lavender, rose, and neroli lend a tranquilizing sensation to this travel-worthy blend. I spritz this in the air and on my pillow just before hopping into bed. It helps me feel at ease, open to rest, and at home in an unfamiliar bed. Get the travel size and thank me latter.

What are your flower powers? How do you enhance your wellbeing on the go?

15

A Night for Green Beauty…Be There!

We love New York Fashion Week, but we don’t love thinking about all the dirty cosmetics the models and stylists are exposed to on the job everyday. Death by hairspray? Maybe not, because green beauty is coming to Fashion Week! Don’t miss A Night For Green Beauty, a natural beauty pop-up hosted by La Bella Figura on September 4 from 5-9 p.m at the James Corbett Studio. As New York Fashion Week’s first ever, all-organic beauty venue, some of your favorite clean brands will be showcasing their products: La Bella Figura, Kahina Giving Beauty, May Lindstrom Skin, Kjaer Weis, Ilia Beauty, Revolution Organics, CV Skinlabs, Vered Botanicals, One Love Organics, Tela Organics, Lurk Perfumes, Annee DeMamiel, Hope Gillerman, Joanna Vargas Skincare, SW Basics of Brooklyn, Olie Biologique, Lina Hanson and Dr. Alkaitis.

You can expect fresh pressed juices from Pressed Juicery, a Braid Bar, and tips and touchups from celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno. We checked in with Victoria Fantauzzi, cofounder of La Bella Figura, to get the scoop on the event and ask some fun questions while we had her ear. Here’s what she had to say (our questions in pink):

Tell us about A Night for Green Beauty.

We created A Night For Green Beauty to highlight what we do that is beautiful and committed to our industry of non toxic products. This will be the first green beauty event to kick off New York Fashion Week featuring some of the very best brands in the beauty industry. It’s not just for natural lovers, but for all beauty lovers, the bonus being all of the brands create gorgeous non-toxic products. The brand owners will be in attendance and will be available to answer questions and tell their unique stories and some are launching brand new products at the event. We have a group of experts who will be able to guide the curious with tips and advice. Our organic makeup bar, hairstyling station and juice bar with fresh juices from Pressed Juicery are all going to be interactive and fun. Some of the proceeds from the evening are being donated to a NYC non-profit called Hair2Help, which offers free beauty and wellness services to cancer patients and their caregivers. This will definitely be the perfect stop before fashion madness ensues.

Clean products are gaining traction with a wider audience as awareness spreads about toxic ingredients and the poor regulation of cosmetics. What’s next for natural skincare?

I think natural skincare and beauty will become more mainstream and easier to attain for customers. There are great stores now taking notice of brands because their customer is asking for these products to be available at Sephora or Space NK or even more traditional department stores. I also think that you’ll find more interesting scientific advancement in certain products because the science is coming in and we can add more effective ingredients into formulations. For example our new Jardin de Fleurs Skin Revitalizer is full of electrolytes and enzymes from raw coconut water, but also contains super low weight hyaluronic acid, cactus flower and edelweiss extracts to fully boost skin’s moisturizing layer and collagen promotion. Natural beauty is turning the heads of those that initially thought this was only for hippie types and had no longevity. It’s pretty exciting!

What’s your favorite essential oil and why?

This is like asking, “who is your favorite child?” I guess if I had to pick just one I would say grapefruit. It’s healing, powerful, anti bacterial and it smells incredible! I think grapefruit is Karen’s favorite as well.

Do you have a favorite beauty or self-care ritual?

I rarely have time to myself these days so I try to make Sundays my time to indulge in face masks, long baths and deep conditioning my hair. I think reading and preparing a beautiful dinner are all a part of a need to care for myself and encourage my mind to stay centered and body to feel its best. I like catching up with my friends on Sundays because they make me laugh and laughing is the real key to wellness. You just have to laugh sometimes and not take things so seriously.

What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business in the green beauty industry?

Be prepared to work long, insane hours and learn to multi task. Accept the mistakes you make and instead of beating yourself up over them interpret them as valuable lessons that enrich your entrepreneur education. Forget what everyone else is doing and do your own thing. Develop thick skin because you’ll need it. Learn to take vacations in October because the rest of the year is too busy and demanding for normal getaways.

Thanks Victoria and La Bella Figura! So, who’s going to A Night For Green Beauty?

21

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?

I have sensitive skin.  What does that mean to me?  I react to all kinds of things, from synthetic scents, to old-style preservatives like parabens and phenoxyethanol, to the purest essential oils.  There’s often no telling what I’ll react to, or exactly what will happen.  It might be a burning or itching, with or without visible inflammation.  It might look like acne, or a rash.  The reaction may happen within moments of using a product, or take a few days of consistent use to appear.  How do I deal?  I look for the cleanest, simplest products I can, and typically prefer fragrance-free, mild formulas, especially for things that go on my face.  I follow my nose, which is to say that if I don’t like the way something smells, there’s an increased chance I’ll react to it poorly.  Add to all this I’m struggling with hormones, and “mature” skin that tends toward dry.

So why would I be testing products that, when I first examined the ingredients, scared the crap out of me?  Well, it’s partly the sexy reviews here and here, partly the trust developed in another product from one line, and mostly that I was having some unexplained and unpleasant skin issues in spite of the care I take with products.

I’m not going to suggest that you sensitive types immediately start using essential oils or strong smelling, warming herbs.  If you are sensitive and completely satisfied with using few and mild products for your skin, stick with that!  But if you aren’t satisfied, you can fairly safely try some new things.  The results may surprise you.

Rule #1: Don’t put the new product on your face first thing.  I try out new things on a less sensitive area, like the back of my hands.  If that’s okay I’ll go to my inner arm, chest or back.  Then if I can graduate to facial application, I do the least sensitive areas of my face first.  If you have notably more sensitive times based on your hormonal cycle, mind that when experimenting.

Rule #2: Don’t overdo it.  Just because you can successfully exfoliate with a scented scrub one day doesn’t mean you should repeat it too often.  Read the instructions on the package, modify for caution as you see fit, and even ask a brand rep for advice with your specific skin issue.

Rule #3: Don’t just start whipping random oils or herbs up into a concoction and slapping it on sensitive skin.  Do your research if you want to DIY.  Better yet, start with something from one of the wonderful alchemists out there making clean products.  While I still appreciate a simple formulation, I am now a big believer in the balance an expert can achieve with a complex ingredient list.

These are the products that first inspired me to stray from my mostly mild, fragrance-free ways:

H.G.O. Lab Neroli Face Oil:  I have to say, this oil just impresses the hell out of me.  I’ve long been a fan of Hope Gillerman’s Stress Remedy, and this oil makes me a true believer in her genius.  Neroli is one of the few flowery scents I like, but I know from my own experiments just how hard it is to balance.  This blend, which includes skin-pampering oils like helichrysum, carrot seed, and meadowfoam, is amazeballs!  I was looking for something to leave on a blemish or a sketchy hormonal patch of skin overnight, when clay is just too drying for frequent use and nothing else is cutting it.  This product has contributed to greater balance in my skin and more consistent moisture levels.  It’s healing for distressed or blemished areas, which there are far fewer of since I’ve been using this.  I was using the Neroli Oil twice a day, but right now I’m using 4-5 drops only at night along with a hydrosol and other oils.  If you have normal to oily skin, you may not need any additional moisture, though I always recommend a hydrosol.  This product goes a long way – I estimate 2-4 months depending on usage.  ($26/8 ml)

May Lindstrom’s The Problem Solver and The Clean Dirt:  I had an internal “yikes” when I first read the ingredients list on these.  Combined with the scrubbiness of clays, the warming herbs and cacao frighten a sensitive girl.  But I couldn’t let it go.  I kept going back to reviews and thinking about how wonderful they must smell (they do).  A weird, unexplained itchy-rashy-acne thing that was wrecking my chest pre-tank top season had to be dealt with, so I was ready to take the leap.  These have been the key to returning my skin to health.  By the time the current heat wave rolled around, I was ready for scoop necks and spaghetti straps.  I use both products as treatments, each about once a week.  Precisely how and how often you use them can be adjusted according to your needs.  The Problem Solver is more intense and takes a bigger time commitment to use.  The Clean Dirt, used as a treatment, needs only a few minutes to work.  I do use them on my face, but I avoid altogether the super sensitive area around my mouth.  I use a very gentle circular motion to massage as I rinse, which I do in the shower because these babies are pretty messy.  I love May’s treatment brush so much I’m now using it with my own little ceramic cup for all my clay-type masks.  Brilliant.  May is a doll and I’ve loved her suggestions of using soothing oils after treatment and using honey on days when not using Dirt or Problem Solver.  I still need to try mixing the Clean Dirt with coconut oil!  I’ve been using them over a month on chest, back, neck and face.  At this rate they should each last at least 4 months, but it will depend how you use them of course.  ($90/250 ml and $60/200ml)

If you aren’t too exhausted from reading this long post, tell us – do you dare try such things on your sensitive skin?  Sensitive or not, have you used these products?

It’s been well over a year since we started the morning routine series. They began on a “really hot, muggy, humid, generally gross” August morning in 2011, because we thought it would be fun to share with all of you the products that we use every day before we leave the house. Now, you guys send us yours, and they’re consistently inspiring to this vibrant community of natural beauty lovers, am I right?

Since it’s December 2012, and my life, as well as my routine, has changed, I thought I’d give it another go. I’m a Scorpio, which, among other things, means I’m fiercely loyal and I like what I like. It’s fun, looking back, to see which products I’m still using. Still, some were traded out for products I like even better. (Warning: This post is long, because it’s doubling as a gang of new product reviews. You might want to skim—or grab a snack.)

Name: Siobhan

Age: 34

Current weather: It’s been a mild, climate-changey winter so far, with some rare chillier days.

Hair: Blonde, long, wavy when air dried.

Skin: Irish. Which is to say, reactive, sensitive, pale, a little freckly, and pale. Did I mention pale? Oh, and reactive.

In the shower…

Most days, I shower rather speedily. Since I don’t typically wash my face in the morning, my shower routine is pretty straightforward: I dry brush before I get in the shower, then I wash my hair. My new go-tos are Intelligent Nutrients PureLuxe shampoo and conditioner. I’ve run out and repurchased them several times because they leave my hair super shiny, manageable and smelling great. I don’t have overly dry hair but I live in fear of it, and these two products give just the right amount of moisture, without feeling greasy. A couple of times a week, I swap out IN for the Seaweed Bath Company’s argan oil conditioner. It has wax pretty high up on the ingredient list, and I find it reliable on days when I want my hair to hold a style.

If I wash my face, I use Kahina’s or Marie Veronique Organics’ (new obsession—I love the whole line), which is slippery and cleansing without being overly drying. If I’m too lazy to make my own body scrub, which is most days, I use a squeaky-clean new one by the Brooklyn-based Metropolis Soap Company in honeysuckle and violet. My new go-to bar cleanser is the Activated Charcoal Soap by Soapwalla. It’s technically a face wash but I’ve been using it on my body. It contains activated charcoal and tea tree oil, and it’s also made in Brooklyn, which is neither here nor there, but kind of neat.

If I’m feeling under the weather or if I’m showering before bed, I massage my chest with Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy. The essential oils support immunity, promote restful sleep and make my tiny apartment smell like a spa. Which is nice.

Outside the shower…

Very few things I hate more than applying moisturizer on my body, but I do it almost every day. These days I alternate between Weleda’s New Rose Pampering Body Lotion (I love this stuff) and Vered’s Muscle Soothing Massage and Body Oil, which has been especially helpful since I bit it on the subway stairs the other night, had to get stitches, and seriously bruised up both my calves. (Pro tip: Don’t fall in the subway. It hurts.)

Once this tiresome step is done, I apply Soapwalla Deodorant, spray my face with either Kahina’s Toning Mist or Marie-Veronique Organic’s Anti-Aging Mist, and rub in a touch of Kahina’s Brightening Serum. Sometimes, I apply a dab of Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm, which I still swear by for night. If I look tired, I apply a Rejuvenating Eye Cream by Amala. It’s cocoa bean-based, which helps constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness, and works almost as if by miracle to eliminate undereye bags. (Before bed it’s still La Bella Figura.)

Next, I apply Suntegrity Sunscreen, which got the #1 rating from the EWG this year for lotions with SPF. Who wants to shoot me first? Because the stuff contains (mineral-based) dimethicone. I have decided I can deal with it in this product because the ingredient deck is otherwise very clean, and because it’s the most effective, versatile and cosmetically appealing sunscreen I have ever tried. And I have tried many. It works kind of like a BB cream. I’ve finally found one I want to use every day, and this is it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Whatever? I love this product.

Finishing touches…

If I have meetings, which I usually do, I will follow with Suki Tinted Active Face Moisturizer in Porcelain, for an overall evening-out effect. I’ll set that with Laura Mercier loose minerals in Sand, line my eyes with Bare Minerals’ (unfortunately very messy) loose eyeliner in black, applied with a stiff damp brush. I keep my face simple for day, so that means I might swipe some RMS Beauty lip2cheek in Smile on cheeks and lips or some W3LL People Universalist in the peachy color, and dab on some Living Luminizer. I also love Ilia in a bunch of different colors. If I feel like a very bold lip, I’m probably cheating with non-naturals from Bite or Chanel.

For mascara, it’s either 100% Pure or the new thick-as-hell “Fake Out” one from Organic Wear (the pink tube) or both. Some days, I fill in my super-pale eyebrows with NVey Eco Eye Shadow Palette in No. 3. It’s not meant for brows, but it works. If I’m really going for it, I apply a touch of color to my lids, too. Makeup tends to scream on my face, though, so I use a light touch.

Finally, my perfumes of choice are still Lotus Wei Infinite Love or Tata Harper Irritability Treatment (as a perfume), or both!

Couple things, before I go: First, I don’t always follow all these steps. Second, I now fear I sound way more high-maintenance than I actually am. Any products here that you love too? Anything new to you?

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