Nicolle's Morning Skin and Hair Routine... Exposed!

Though I’ve been writing for NMDL for more than a year and a half, I have yet to submit my morning routine! It’s changed a lot in the last year, as I struggled with some health complications and skin reactions, but I’m happy to report that my current routine has my skin looking better than ever. Whoo!

Name: Nicolle

Age: 27

Current weather: Ha. It’s snowing, and the temperature is well below zero.

City: Minneapolis, #Minnesnowta

Hair: Long-ish, ombre light brown to blonde, dry and thin.

Skin: Sensitive and dry—I’m allergic to a multitude of things, including beeswax, which is in SO. MANY. THINGS. (can we stop with that, brands?), so I’m pretty careful about my choices.

Favorite star or icon from the past: I’ve loved Grace Kelly since I did a report on her in third grade.

I’m not a morning person nor a shower-lover, so I’m a night shower-er when at all possible and I only wash my hair twice a week (dry shampoo is my best friend and the one from Tabitha James Kraan is my current love). Before I get into my night shower, I remove my makeup with an e-cloth because too many products messes with my sensitive skin and this gives a gentle exfoliation + removes all my foundation and mascara. Then I use Absolution’s Cleansing Water, which is fab because it’s really gentle and removes any remnants of makeup.

In the shower…

I wash my hair with Avalon Organics’ Itch and Flake Therapy Shampoo, which is the only thing that’s helped rid my scalp of the dry skin I was left with after a bad infection last spring. Then I use Rare E’lements’ Lite Conditioner, which is more moisturizing and volume-boosting than any hair product I’ve ever used. While that’s in, I lather up the same shampoo to shave my legs, pits + bits—the salicylic acid in the shampoo has helped prevent ingrown hairs during the winter and the pH-balanced shampoo doesn’t dry out my sensitive areas.

Outside the shower…

When I step out of the shower, I drench my still-wet skin in body oil. Right now, I’m using FIG + YARROW’s Bath + Body Oil in Woods, African Botanics’ Marula Firming Botanical Body Oil or Skin & Bones’ Luxurious Moisturizer. They all have wintery scents (read: musky and deep and multi-faceted).

I spot treat any blemishes with Osmia Organics’ Spot Treatment (best EVER—this is a desert-island product for me), then spritz on Graydon Clinical Luxury’s Face Food Mineral Mist, with copper, zinc and colloidal silver, which I think has really helped my breakouts. ARCONA’s Chamomile Balm goes on while my face is still damp (read my full review to know how much I love this balm) and then ED4OLO’s Vitamin E Eye Balm gets gentle patter under my eyes (another desert-island product for me). Oh and every other night, I switch up my moisturizer, using ARCONA’s The Gentle Solution (the product I’d say has done the most to change my skin) and True Nature Botanicals’ Pacific Night Serum with Retinol (just on my forehead + neck) instead, as an overnight anti-aging and exfoliation treatment.

I detangle my hair with Acure Organics’ Leave-In Conditioner and a Tangle Teezer, which is genius if you haven’t heard of it, and great for kids’ long hair. Then I use Dr. Haushka’s Neem Hair Oil to further moisturizer my scalp and to help my hair grow back from when some of it fell out last spring. I love this dry oil that you can put on when your hair is wet or dry (it’s more of a liquid than an oil and there’s no grease) and I’ll be repurchasing—it’s helped heal my scalp immensely. Then I use YAROK Hair’s Volumizing Foam and Rahua’s Voluminous Spray to give my limp hair lift. If you’re a thin-haired gal like myself, I highly recommend these two products if you want thicker hair that lasts til your next shampoo. I rough blowdry (bad for my hair, I KNOW) and twist it into a high bun for sleeping (keeps that volume up! I do this every night, as it maintains my curling-wand waves so I don’t have to use heat on my hair daily).

In the morning…

I have a slew of supplements I take to help build my nutrient levels back up after my celiac disease went undiagnosed for so long, so I start with a big glass of room-temperature water and my probiotics before I do anything. Then a warm mug of lemon water and Hope Gillerman’s Sinus Remedy help me wake up for the day and I fill up a bkr water bottle with 15 drops of Lotus Wei’s Inner Peace Flower Elixir to sip on while I get ready.

On mornings after using the anti-aging treatments, I exfoliate with ARCONA’s Brightening Gommage or some kind of mask, like Osmia Organics’ Detox Exfoliating Mask mixed with Kahina Giving Beauty’s Toning Mist. I also love Laurel Skin’s and Dr. Alkaitis’ masks and The Problem Solver from May Lindstrom Skin. If I’ve not used my anti-aging treatment, then I just use the Absolution Cleansing Water again and repeat the spot-treat/mist/moisturize routine from the night before, minus the eye balm and plus the Skin Owl Eye Concentrate (great for depuffing, though it does have phenoxyethanol, so be aware).

Before I touch my hair or makeup, I dry brush with an essential oil lymph tonic that Susannah created. Part of my health complications have to do with my body not clearing infection properly, and Susannah’s tonic + dry brushing helps flush everything out—and prevent those ingrown hairs I mentioned.

Then I take my hair out of its high bun and use a curling wand on it to get some beachy waves while my skincare settles. I only have to do this the morning after I’ve showered, which is super nice and saves my ends from splitting. I finish with Onesta’s Finish Hair Spray.

Finishing touches…

I work from home or from a coffee shop most days, so if I don’t have meetings, I keep makeup to a minimum. HAUT Cosmetics’ Brightener concealer in pink is my favorite, vegan under-eye highlighter. If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out. INIKA Cosmetics’ Mineral Foundation is my current everyday foundation—it’s so easy, covers blemishes and doesn’t require adding blush, highlighter or bronzer to my skin on top of it. Oh, and if you wear mineral foundation of any kind, you have to watch (or re-watch) this application video that Kim Wallace shared on her blog a few weeks ago—saves you product and gives you flawless skin.

Once foundation is done, I do my brows with Zuzu Luxe’s Cream Brow Pencil in Russet (vegan, again, because anything with beeswax gives me little whiteheads), swiping Zuzu Luxe’s Clear Mascara on top of the pencil to hold brows in place. Mascara is the last official step, and I rarely skip it. 100% Pure’s Dark Chocolate Mascara is great for daily use, but I also love RMS Beauty’s Defining Mascara and W3LL People’s Expressionist Bio Extreme Mascara. And I just got the Antonym Cosmetics Mascara, which is rivaling all of the above. Yes, I have four mascaras in my makeup bag—and I just gave away two.

While I don’t wear a lip color every day, I am obsessed with sticks, glosses, stains and balms (though finding vegan formulas in as many shades and finishes as their beeswax-filled counterparts has been more of a task than I anticipated…). ILIA Beauty’s Lip Crayons, in all colors, are fab, cream/satin finishes. Red Apple Lipstick in Audrey is a fave, as is local Aromi Beauty’s Poppy. I heart Gressa Skin’s Lip Boosts, all shades, and Beautycounter’s Lip Sheers are perfect for everyday wear (Petal is my go-to). Oh, and my all-time-favorite balm is S.W. Basics’ Vegan Lip Balm. Please, Adina, never stop making that.

You’ll notice that deodorant is missing… I’ve had the hardest time switching this over! Everything irritates my sensitive skin—and I’ve tried them all! Any tips? I’m also all ears for new, beeswax-free makeup… Share! Share!


I’m An Eye Serum Convert


IMG_0566Years ago, I thought I didn’t need or want a specific product for my eyes.  I just used whichever face product I liked (I’m so sensitive I’d rarely put anything on my face that couldn’t be near my eyes). I admit I still am not an eye cream fan, but a nice light serum can be very pleasant and helpful.

When people talk eye products, they often want something that alleviates dark circles. I want to say right up front that I personally have never experienced any product that helped in that area. The only thing that ever helped with my constant just-got-in-a-bar-fight look was eliminating processed and sensitivity-aggravating foods.  But there are other things an eye product can do for you.

When I looked for an eye serum, I was after something unscented, that provides a little moisture, but not too much under makeup, and that kicked the butt of my morning puffiness. I have found three eye serum products that I love. They take a few minutes to sink in, but that actually works out well, because…

…I started doing a little eye massage every morning. Using one finger on each eye, I pat the serum all around, then massage from the outer corner to the inner corner in little circles, both above and below. This seems to get fluids moving, and assists the serum in depuffing. I’ve tried the massage with random products, and a serum really does make a difference.  Here are my top choices:

Blissoma Bright – Eye Vitalizing Nutrient Serum: I reviewed this some time back, but I’m going to plagiarize myself a bit for the sake of comparison. Just a few minutes after a little eye massage, my puffiness is dramatically better.  The consistency is very thin, so I pump it out slowly and carefully. About half a pump per application works for me.  The texture is perfect for under makeup – you’ll be moisturized but not remotely greasy.  With regular use, I feel I look more awake throughout the day.  Can’t beat that!  The way I use it, the bottle lasts a couple of months.  ($45.99/.5 oz)

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum:  This review by Pemberley Jones convinced me I had to try Kahina’s Eye Serum.  I’m glad I did.  The texture of this one is easy to work with.  It’s pleasantly light, but half a pump holds together nicely on the finger.  I do experience some pilling if I layer it on top of other products, so this is definitely a first layer.  It does help with puffiness, but excels at softening the skin, yet firming the eye area.  And I am a sucker for violet glass packaging. ($78/.5oz)

La Bella Figura Decouverte Under Eye Repair Serum:  As an oil based product that does have a light scent, this is different from the other two.  Sink in time is longer, but this is my favorite for a truly luxurious eye massage.  When my eyes really need some pampering, this is what I reach for.  Application with the pretty glass roller ball packaging is unique.  It can be rolled directly on the eye area or on a finger, and the amount is easy to control. ($115/.33oz)

I said I love them all, right? So how to choose? Honestly, I keep going back and forth between them.  They all accomplish essentially the same missions.  If you want to use a serum at night and/or firming and fine lines are a priority, I’d go with Kahina. If morning puffiness is more of an issue for you, I think Bright has the edge.  If you are yearning for luxury with your results, go LBF.  They all have good long-term results.  With any of these choices, you will have a winner.

Have you tried these? What’s your favorite eye cream or serum?





Happy Friday Deal From Kahina Giving Beauty!

KG017 Night Cream Argan Nuts and Grapes

We have so much love for Kahina, and we want to share it with you! This new Night Cream will treat your skin right, and we hope you’ll give it a shot with this once-in-a-blue-moon special discount. Here’s the deal:

Kahina is offering you 15% off the Night Cream + free shipping + a free Kahina cosmetic case! Just use the code NC15 at checkout. The Deal ends Monday night (at midnight!).

There’s much to love about the Night Cream, like how pampering yet practical it is. If you want to know more about the Night Cream, check out Susannah’s review. The Kahina zippered cosmetic case is hand woven in Morocco from aloe vera cactus fiber. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Are you planning to try out Kahina’s Night Cream? What else do you love from the line?


Let me just start here: I cannot keep my nose out of this jar! Kahina revealed their penchant for natural scent with the Fez Body Serum’s sensual, warm aroma that—contrary to first impression—is without season, working equally well in the warm and cool months. (Obsessed!) The Kahina Night Cream emits a completely different but equally compelling scent, and it’s a big part of the experience for me. (Kahina: for the love of the goddesses, please release a perfume oil of the same ilk. Same for Fez!) It’s light and airy, a little floral with a delicate sandalwood undertone—all from a simple blend of essential oils like rose, geranium, petitgrain, and lavender that heal and tone skin in addition to loosening the knots in your shoulders thanks to the aromatherapy benefits of these EOs. The goodness does not stop there.

First and foremost, Kahina is about high quality ingredients that serve a purpose. (The scent is a bonus.) The ingredients in the Night Cream were chosen for their ability to soothe skin irritation and redness, improve tone and texture, and minimize the look of fine lines. Though it’s a marvelous way to end a day, you needn’t reserve it for nighttime use, despite the name. While it is rich and restorative, the cream is super light on the skin and absorbs quickly, making it perfect for layering under other treatments, oils, or even makeup.

I always make sure to apply the Night Cream to my décolletage, and this step has become a crucial part of the sensory experience. It has such a nourishing affect on those thin-skinned areas, which I’m remembering more and more to treat like my face. You know that feeling you get when you’ve had too much sun and you apply a calming, cooling cream to your overly warm skin? It’s like sweet relief, and somehow that’s the sensation I get when I apply Kahina Night Cream, especially to the neck and chest. Sweet relief. From what? I’m not even sure, but the soothing affect is addictive.

Not long ago, I told you about my return to the world of creams. Granted, I will NEVER give up my oils, which remain an enormously pleasing and effective part of my routine, but I’ve found that my skin really appreciates a classic cream for true hydration. The new Kahina Night Cream is a happy edition to my bedtime routine, and it has earned its place next to the best of my oil blends and serums as a perfect complement.

If you’re curious to try it for yourself, we’re featuring the Kahina Night Cream in tomorrow’s Friday Deal!

So it’s Tuesday, not Monday, but no biggie. It’s the spirit of Makeup Monday that counts! We just told you about A Night For Green Beauty, and here’s the first insider-peek from one of the participating brand founders. Kahina Giving Beauty will be participating in ANFGB for a second year in a row!

Kahina needs no introduction on this site, but we’d love to introduce you to Katharine, the founder.

Katharine believes in the potential of beauty rituals to delight and empower, and Kahina Giving Beauty is her testament to that belief. You’ll find a little of that spirit in her makeup bag, too. She and her daughter have bonded over their own beauty rituals—learning to wear makeup. So sweet!

Name: Katharine L’Heureux

Age: 53

Where I currently live: New York, NY

My relationship to makeup: I have definitely become more comfortable with makeup since starting Kahina.  I’ve always taken good care of my skin, but makeup wasn’t something I was used to wearing much of. In the past five years, I have been fortunate enough to become friends with some of the best green makeup artists in the industry who have taught me so much, as has reading NMDL. While building Kahina, I was also raising my only daughter. We’ve sort of learned how to use makeup together. It’s been a bonding experience for us. As much as I like to discover and play, ultimately I keep it simple. It’s in my nature.

Skin: After prepping my face with Kahina Facial Cleanser, Toning Mist, Argan Oil, and Night Cream (it’s actually light enough for day and I want those actives on as much as possible!), I apply either Suntegrity 5-in-1 in Light or Sappho Liquid Foundation in Jennifer.  Suntegrity is for daytime use, when I know I’ll be out in the sun; it has SPF 30. Sappho was just introduced to me by Kristen Arnett and I was lucky enough to have her do the color match for me.  I learned that you are not as pale as you think you are! Fun fact: Sappho’s foundation shades are named after The L Word actresses on whom they were used.  I never would have guessed it, but Jennifer Beale (as in Flashdance) and I have the same skin tone. Sappho doesn’t have sun protection and provides a little more coverage than Suntegrity, so it’s perfect for in-door occasions when I want to be a little more polished—on camera, speaking events, meetings, etc.

Lips: I’m a lipstick person and a big fan of bright colors like Ilia’s Wild Child and Bite Beauty’s Palomino, a bold fuschia.  I’m still using a darker winter lip color, too—h.wood beauty’s plum that I picked up at abc home.  To prep my lips, I’ve been using an argan balm Kahina has in development (jar with white top). It’s so hydrating, not sticky and makes the perfect base for color.

Eyes: My daughter gifted me Tarte lights, camera lashes! mascara and Tarte emphasEYES eyeliner in brown. The goal is a soft smoky look, but I don’t do this everyday. For color, just a swipe of RMS lip2cheek in modest.  I use the aforementioned argan balm over my eyebrows as well, to condition and give them a bit of a gloss and soft definition (while hopefully promoting their growth!).

Cheeks: For Spring, RMS lip2cheek in modest goes on my cheeks. It’s very subtle pink.  I also use our argan balm on any parts I want a little extra glow.  It’s not a highlighter at all, since it doesn’t have pigments, but it does lend a sheen.

Scent: I’ve been trying out Terveer’s rollerball perfume in Vert, which is really the perfect scent for spring—light and green!

Bag: You may have seen it as the case for the Kahina Spa Set.  These are hand-loomed in Morocco out of cactus fiber and you can just throw it in the wash.  When I’m not storing makeup in them, they make a nice pouch for carrying my iPhone and keys.