Good morning everybody–meet Alex! She tries to steer clear of perfumes, and is a pro with body oils. Right now she’s diggin’ the Yes To line, but she’s also interested in finding other brands, too. Her routine is no-fuss, but fun. Read on!
Name: Alex (la feminine)
Current weather: Unseasonably warm and sunny
Hair: Shoulder length and choppy, contains some lingering blue-green tones from last fall’s impulsive Manic Panic dye job, but otherwise dark brown.
Skin: Not too bad- forehead & nose tend to be slightly on the oily, break-out-y side, cheeks tend to be dry. I get those annoying zitty-things on my upper arms, but my feet/legs/hands tend to be dry.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Louise Brooks- I haven’t actually ever seen her movies, but I love her style.
In the shower…
I usually shower about midday, but I work at home so it’s really “whenever I feel like it.” I start with Giovanni shampoo (which one varies, I like to mix it up) and either Giovanni or YesTo Carrots conditioner. Sometimes I do it backwards, for a change of pace (but I can’t say I’ve noticed a real difference.) I like both brands because they work very much like conventional brands while still being pretty clean- Giovanni even smells delicious without making my head spin (I can’t really tolerate most smells.) YesTo still has a bit of fragrance but it’s so mild I don’t notice it (their shampoo has sulfates though, so watch out for that.) I later up everywhere with a soft natural sponge and Dr. Bronners (I like Eucalyptus, it really clears the sinuses…but I’ve been trying the other varieties too, lately.) For shaving, I use Alba Botanica’s Unscented Very Emollient Cream Shave. Most days I just rinse my face off in the warm water, but every few days (or if I’m broken out or feeling grimy) I use Evan Healy’s Rose Cleansing Milk. Finish off with a pumice stone to the heels.
Outside the shower…
If I used the Cleansing Milk, I skip right to the moisturizing, otherwise I use a little Kiss My Face Antioxidant Toner (I also use it on those little arm bumpies, or sometimes Witch Hazel.) If I’m going to be outside much that day, I use YesTo Blueberries Age Refresh Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 (it’s made for older folks, but it was the only variety with no artificial fragrance- unfortunately it doesn’t absorb very well, probably because of the physical sunscreens. I will probably try another brand when this runs out.) If I’m not going to be outside much, I use Acure Chamomile + Carrot Day Cream, which is great. The rest of my routine is a little greasy, so I save it for nighttime: my all-over body oil is a homemade concoction that is about two thirds grapeseed oil, one third jojoba oil, and a dash of argan oil (grapeseed and argan are Aura Cacia, jojoba is Desert Essence.) About every other night I use pure argan oil on my face and sometimes my arms in hopes of cheering up the pores and stopping breakouts, though to be honest I haven’t noticed it being much better than my body-oil concoction (and it’s expensive and stinky) so once it runs out I might try something else. Immediately before bed, my feet and hands get shea buttered (either pure, or Nubian Heritage with Goat’s Milk and Chai.) I wash my hands a lot so throughout the day I use Weleda Skin Food on them periodically- it’s a little pricy but pretty amazing.
I wear make up very, very (like, VERY) rarely, so I haven’t switched all of it over to clean brands yet. The only things I use regularly are Gabriel Color concealor and YesTo Carrots Berry lip butter. I’ve been sort of moving away from the YesTo products but I do love this stuff- it’s mostly coconut oil and it works (and smells and tastes) great. The only “perfume” I can tolerate is a little bit of vanilla mixed with jojoba oil. I haven’t found a clean deodorant that satisfies my intense desire not to sweat yet, so I’m still using an unscented conventional super-toxic brand :-( If I’m just staying at home all day, though, I’ll often skip it. I jumped on the nailpolish bandwagon last summer and have amassed quite a collection- I usually go for Zoya or OPI or another 3 (or 4)-free brand, though even then I have to paint ‘em outside because of the reek. I use Bee Naturals cuticle and nail oil to keep them from drying out. No hair products, I’m a wash & go kind of gal (on the rare occasion that I color it, I try to veer towards the less damaging semi-permanent conditioner-based stuff. Unfortunately it’s really hard to find natural colors. Henna & indigo may be in my future.)
Anybody else thinking henna this summer?
Meet lovely Luna. She has lived in both the US and China, and currently calls the latter home. She does an amazing job at keeping her beauty products green by bringing them over when she travels back to the US. Read on for her efficient but inventive routine…
Current Weather: Beijing at its best! Warm, Spring breeze, Sunny
Hair: Black, straight, shoulder length – can’t hold a curl for longer than 10 minutes
Skin: Best defined as complicated: definitely combination, acne prone, dry on cheeks, oily around forehead and T-zones. Beijing water is very hard and the climate is dry which isn’t good for skin that is prone to breakouts since many moisturizers can clog my pores but not using any will leave my skin parched!
Favorite star/icon from the past: Anna May Wong
In China there isn’t a lot of focus on “clean” beauty products. There are some basic drug store staple brands like L’oreal and Nivea and their Chinese counterparts. On the other spectrum, the luxury skincare market is dominated by brands such as SKII, Lancome, Amorepacific, Clarins, and some Chinese ones like Yue-Sai. There’s really nothing in between and there are definitely no smaller, clean, indie labels like in the US. Sephora opened here a few years ago and some “cleaner” brands have started to trickle in such as Boscia and Ren. I grew up in the US and am now back in China working for a multinational corporation. I usually come to the US about three or four times a year for work and this is when I stock up on my beauty products. I would describe myself as loyal but adventurous – I have my “tried and true” products that I MUST restock every trip and then there are others I learn about through web research (such as your site!).
I usually start my day by just washing my face and doing my makeup, and save showering for night, so I will frame this as morning routine, makeup, night time.
In the morning I usually just wash my face with lukewarm water. If I want to really clear my skin for a meeting at work, I will use a cleanser – my favorite is Intelligent Nutrients Anti-Aging Cleanser. It smells a little strong but it’s nothing I can’t handle. After that I use Dr.Alkaitis Organic Herbal Toner, followed by 100% Pure Argan Oil Hydration SPF 30 (which I learned about from your site!). This combination keeps my skin very balanced and prepared for whatever Beijing throws my way: pollution, smog, etc.
I’m not a huge makeup girl so it doesn’t take me very long in the morning to get ready. Since I don’t use that much product, I have no problem with spending more for high quality products. I use Suki tinted moisturizer and Vapour Organic Aura blush in Courtesan which really wakes up my face. I use Lancome mascara because I can’t find a natural one that doesn’t give me racoon eyes by noon. For lips I use either raw shea butter or Dr. Bronner’s Naked lip balms, the one without a scent. If I’m feeling like wearing color, I’ll rotate between any of the Kjaer Weis Lip Tints or Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner colors I have.
Before the shower, I take my makeup off with sweet almond oil or jojoba depending on which one I have available and then I dry brush myself.
I try to take the quickest showers possible because the water is really not ideal. You can’t drink it straight from the tap so I don’t really like to marinate in it at night. I wash my face with Intelligent Nutrients Anti-Aging Cleanser and use Dr. Bronner’s baby liquid castile soap for my bits and that’s it. My showers are literally 3 minutes long and if I wash my hair that takes it to about 8 minutes. I only shampoo my hair once a week and I use Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic shampoo. No conditioner. No blow dryer. My hair is not high maintenance at all so I’m totally grateful for that.
Out of the shower…
I tone again with Dr. Alkaitis and then do a few drops of YULI Skincare’s M.E. Skin Fuel serum on my face which is light but still hydrating. I never do anything thick or creme-like at night because I feel like that hinders with my skin’s ability to renew and push out impurities overnight. If I’ve washed my hair than I rub a few drops of the Skin Fuel over my head and comb through.
Thanks, Luna! Is there anyone who has any experience with naturals in China or elsewhere in Asia? If so, maybe you can suggest some new local brands?