Is there anything more exciting than discovering a new product you love?

The other day Siobhan, Susannah and I were talking about this electrifying process and we came to the conclusion that NMDL basically lives and breathes on discovering new brands and products. Even if we also like to write about random stuff like why meditation is going to make you a better person, and how chia seeds absolutely can go in your coffee…  At the end of the day product recommendations are the bones of what we do.

Which is great because since writing the book the natch beauty biz has been BOOMING. I have more boxes sitting in my entrance than I know what to do with. It drives my husband up a wall, but I don’t even like opening them if I’m not ready to: smell, read ingredients, and decide if the product is worth of trying. Many don’t even make it past the nose test!

When I think about it, it’s actually kind of wild how many of our staples are still from the original tribe (you know, RMS, Kahina, Intelligent Nutrients…) There’s a special voodoo to creating the perfect product, something like creating the perfect dish—and it’s just not everyone who can cook. (Bless your hearts for trying, though.) Don’t even get us started on packaging.

Not that we haven’t made new incredible discoveries since then. I mean, Studio 78, Ilia, Acure, Marie Veronique Organics, and May Lindstrom (the last, PS, is cooking up a new product right now that you guys are gonna lose your freaking minds over).

But who else is out there, that we just don’t know about yet? Where’s the next Rosemarie Swift, making magic in her kitchen, or already selling her product overseas… We must find her!

That’s where you come in. So, two questions:

1. Other than popping by here, what’s your product discovery process?Friends, other blogs, a store in your city?

2. What products have you found and love—in any category—that we just aren’t talking about here? We take a lot of joy in introducing smaller brands to more folks, so don’t keep secrets.

Or maybe, gasp, you are making your own beauty products? Tell us about them, or email us and send some samples through…

I promise the boxes always get opened eventually! x

In my search for the holy grail of cleansers, I’ve found a few noteworthy products that are special, though not quite perfect for my skin type or picky needs.  Not everyone is dry/mature like me, or has the same criteria for judging a cleanser, so these are definitely worth a mention.  They are all quality products that are clean, vegan, and gluten free.  Hope you see one you love.

One Love Organics Chia Whip: This fragrance free foaming cleanser, with a wonderfully simple formula, is a combination of soap and detergent.  It is SO close to perfect, I just don’t think any soap in the formula is the best choice for me.  It foams like mad (because of the foaming pump) and washes off all makeup in one step.  For my skin, it sometimes left me with just a smidge of that soapy tightness.  If I used the tiniest bit – one full pump or so – I didn’t feel tight, and those of you looking for a very mild soap cleanser may adore this. ($28/5 oz)

Sevani Ageless Radiance Refining AHA Cleanser: Designed for all skin types, this gorgeous soap free formula includes exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids along with anti-inflammatory botanicals to suit even sensitive skin.  It doubles as a mask, which is actually my favorite use for this product.  It’s another that came SO close for me, but the strongish orangey scent is not quite what I want for every day, plus it’s not something one can use to take off eye makeup. ($39/4 oz)

Skinnyskinny The Cleanser Organic Face Wash: This is another simple, soap-based formula that washes off all makeup in one step.  The lavender and chamomile EOs give nice antimicrobial and healing properties to the mix.  And, don’t ask me how, because the ingredients don’t suggest it, but it smells like ginger ale.  Lightly sweet, and really yummy, but nothing overpowering. ($22/4 oz)

Bubble & Bee Facial Cleansers: Try the sample pack to see what might fit your needs.  Cool Cucumber is for oily or acneic skin, and includes tea tree oil and peppermint for a refreshing cleanse.  Pineapple Enzyme is for normal skin, smells delicious, and includes enzymes for a little exfoliation.  The formula that comes close for me is Honey & Rosehip for dry, sensitive or aging skin.  It does have a soap base, but so much oil that it never made me feel tight.  It definitely behaves more like an oil cleanse than most cleansers.  It was the smell that made it a no for me.  It’s fragrance free, so just smells like the ingredients, but I didn’t care for it.  I did enjoy using up the bottle for leg shaving, though.  ($14.99/3.5 oz)

Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser: This is the current formula that replaced my old favorite.  No one, NO ONE, beats Kahina’s packaging.  The violet glass is the best kind for product preservation (save it for your DIYs!) and is simply gorgeous.  If you don’t mind a multiple-step process for makeup removal, this could be your thing.  The scent is herbal, not too strong.  There will never be any soapy tightness with this product, and it’s soothing on my skin.  I occasionally still use it in the morning (no makeup to get off) when I’m in too much of a rush for a honey cleanse.  I love that they now sell it in a travel/sample size. ($56 for 200 ml, nearly 7 oz)

Let’s try a virtual give-away party.  What products do you think are great, even if they aren’t quite the thing for you?

P.S. When we were searching for the right image for this post, we came across this face wash ad from the 1950s. Radioactive dirt, just to make sure the cleansing cream is working! You can’t make this stuff up.

Somehow we missed Mercedes’ first routine in our inbox (guh!). But like many a clean girl, hers keeps evolving and we’re thrilled she sent in this new one because, well, it’s awesome. Now, can someone tell us what “stippling with a beauty blender” is? Because this makeup technique sounds amazing!

Name: Mercedes

Age: 30 (on the cusp of 31, Gemini love)

Current weather: New England spring – holding steady in the low 60s, not a ton of humidity yet.

Hair: Naturally wavy, relatively fine but I have a lot of it, past my shoulders, very dark brown. I wear it in loose waves (from a large barrel curling iron) all the time.

Favorite icon: Not from the past, but Kate Winslet has been one of my beauty icons since I was young. She is such a truly beautiful, real woman and she inspires me to accept my own natural beauty.

Skin: I’ve always had a problem with dryness, but since going natural it really is more towards the “normal” side of things. Occasional cycle-related pimples, and a bit of redness here and there, but overall no major skin complaints. I’m happy! I don’t really ever wash my face with cleanser – I either use Jane Iredale’s magic mitt with warm water, or an oil cleansing method with macadamia nut oil (what I use to take off my eye makeup) and a hot washcloth. A few time a week I exfoliate with May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt.

In the shower…

I usually shower in the evenings, and as much as I would like to was my hair infrequently, I cannot stand the smell of scalp and with hot yoga classes and the lack of fragrance potency of most green hair products, I end up washing every other day. Shampoo and condish are my one true love Yarok, sometimes switched up with John Master’s Organics Zinc and Sage, which my boyfriend says makes me smell like “swiss miss” (the marshmallow, I guess). I suds up with either Dr. Bronner’s (the baby formula one) or a charcoal shower gel, and have been using up old bottles of Acure shampoo and condish to shave with (didn’t like it for my hair). Also, I’ve been using Rare El’ements pre-shampoo treatment a few times a week before I wash. I’ll usually put in, go to a yoga class,  and then wash out. Once a month I’ll do a coconut oil deep conditioning. This has all transformed the condition of my formally pretty fried hair. I also like to do face masks once a week or do – my fave is the Pangea Oraganics seaweed one.

Outside the shower…

On the face it’s a spritz of some kind of toner (right now it’s the Acure one for dry skin – meh about it, next up will be In Fiore which I’m dyyyyying to get my paws on), and argan oil all over, and Kahina eye cream. My newest find is Bija Body…and I.love.it. I use the daily serum and lotion all over. It smells divine and lasts for a good long while. Sometimes I use Chocolate Sun self tanning lotion on my legs. I try and let my hair air dry as much as possible, and use Intelligent Nutrients leave in condish as a heat protectant.  Then I use a large barrel curling iron to create large waves, do a little backcombing for volume, and set with some Intelligent Nutrients hairspray.

Finishing touches…

I love love love makeup. I have a separate everyday routine, and weekend/going out routine (which unfortunately still utilizes some dirty stuff). My current go-to day routine includes a layer of Vive Sana sunscreen, and RMS un-cover up in 22 applied with a beauty blender. This is my new FAVORITE discovery. The un-cover up didn’t work for me as an undereye concealer and I was lamenting the money I spent on something I couldn’t use. But then, inspired by posts on here about different ways to use products, I started playing around. To use all over the face for light coverage I discovered I need to use some kind of primer (the sunscreen, or sometimes I’ll just Vapour’s Skin perfector if it’s going to be overcast all day), and stippling with a damp beauty blender makes it blend in so well. Then I use a very light shade of Jane Iredale’s concealer click pen under my eyes, a contour-ish dusting of Studio 78′s bronzing powder (new discovery, love! Almost a dupe for NARS Laguna), a dab on the cheeks of Revolution Organics cream blush (the hot pink one!), sometimes a bit of RMS living luminizer on the cheekbones and cupid’s bow, fill in the brows with Jane Iredale brow gel, even out the eyelids with Nvey Eco concealer, curl lashes, apply some Jane Iredale basic black eye pencil on my waterline (top and bottom), apply a coat of Tarte’s lash primer (also a relatively new discovery, and it noticeably prevents mascara from flaking), and a few coats of Josie Maran’s GoGo mascara. Lips right now is Ilia’s tinted lip conditioner in Blossom Lady. It may sound like a lot but this takes me less than 10 minutes and I feel like me but better. Now, going out makeup is another story! It tends to include lots of black liquid liner, fake lashes, and bright lips <3

So glad to be part of the NMDL community. Green beauty is a huge passion, and I learn so much constantly from all of you.

Right back at ya, Mercedes!

Thank you thank you! After last week’s post, we got a bunch of submissions from a variety of wonderful women. Don’t forget to send yours if you haven’t yet! Today meet Annette: She hates to shower, which kind of makes us love her. Enjoy her awesome routine!

Name:  Annette

Age:  49

Hometown:  Manteca, CA

Current weather:  Sunny, cold (for CA)

Hair: Chin length, colored, fine and wavy

Skin:  Fair, freckled, “mature”

Favorite celebrity:  Lauren Hutton.  She just gets more badass the older she gets.

In the shower…

Full disclosure. I hate to shower. It takes too much time out of the morning; time I would rather be doing other things before I have to get to work. The warm water makes me itchy and my face gets flushed.  I don’t sweat much and I’m not very hairy (thanks to getting rid of toxic products, I believe).  Instead, I do what my mom calls a “bird bath.”  I clean the pits, bits, and feet, dry brush the rest and apply oil.  It’s Diva Wash on the bits and Whole Foods olive oil soap for the pits and feet. I use Tom’s deodorant.  I will hop in the shower on the weekend or if I don’t have to work so as not to freak out the hubby.

I wash my hair a couple times a week with Rahua volumizing shampoo.  I condition every day with Yarok Feed Your Volume conditioner.  I just recently switched to the Yarok and I’m happy with it.  I’ve gotten second-day hair a few times, something that didn’t happen with what I was using before.

Outside the shower…

Whether I’ve showered or just dry brushed, I massage in argan oil.  I’ve tried lots of lotions and other oils and the argan provides lasting moisture but is not at all greasy. It’s more expensive than other oils, but it’s so multi-purpose I feel like I cut down on multiple products.  Kahina makes the best, but Mountain Rose Herbs has a good version for a lot less money.

I wash my face at night.  I oil up my face, neck and chest with argan oil, using it around my eyes to remove my eye makeup.  While the oil sits I use a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel to remove the oil from around my eyes and some warm water and a washcloth to remove my mascara.  I use a Pai muslin cloth and nice warm water to massage the makeup/oil off my face.

I use a splash of witch hazel and a drop of carrot seed oil as toner.  While my skin is still damp I rub in one squirt of the Kahina Brightening Serum and a couple drops of argan oil.

In the morning I put some raw, organic honey on my chin, jawline and temples and let it sit while I get ready to wet my hair.  I tend to get bumpy through those areas and the honey helps keep them clear. After I have washed and/or conditioned my hair I repeat the toner/serum/argan oil mixture from my night routine.  This sets the stage for my SPF/foundation combination.  I comb out my hair to let it air dry while I put on my makeup, making sure the insane cowlick at the crown of my head is covered and behaving itself.

Finishing touches…

I mix one squirt of John Masters SPF 30 Sunscreen and the same size dollop of Jane Iredale Dream Tint.  I love the Dream Tint. There’s no mica so it isn’t at all shiny. I really dislike being shiny.

I use a small angle brush to apply Jane Iredale PureMatte powder on my eyelids, under my eyes and around my nostrils.  I plump up my brows with Jane Iredale Purebrow.  I still need a little filling in so I use Cover Girl eyebrow pencil.  I chose this one because it’s a nice taupe.  Even though I have dark hair I don’t want a dark eyebrow pencil.  It’s too severe.

I line my upper lids and the outer half of the lower lids with Nuance by Salma Hayak in brown.  On my lids I use Universalist 2 (from my Quarterly package).  I’m surprised how much I like it.  I didn’t like the RMS Living Luminizer all that much.  In the crease it’s 100% Pure’s “Toffee.”  I finish off the eyes with Nuance by Salma Hayak Ultra-Defining Mascara in black.

I would LOVE to let my hair air dry but it’s too fine.  It really needs some love from the blow dryer to help with volume. I also have to tame a few spots with a curling iron.  It sounds like a lot but it’s really very fast.  Once it’s dry I hit it with a few sprays of Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Hairspray.

That’s it.  Pretty simple really.  So much more simple than when I was “dirty.”

Thanks to Siobhan and Alexandra for this venue and to everyone who shares her wisdom.  I have benefitted greatly from what I have learned here.  I look forward to learning so much more!

Thank you too! And everyone who participates here. x

Meet Eleanor the esthetician. After struggling with her skin for years she came to learn that some of the most effective brands were natural. She now puts Kahina to good use, along with other favorites like Dr Alkaitis, Dr Hauschka, Arcona and more. She’s also seriously piqued our interest in In Fiore (we’ve heard their scents are beautiful too)—who here has tried it?

Name: Eleanor

Hometown: Oakland CA

Age: 25

Profession: Esthetician (at International Orange)

Weather: cold but sunny

Hair: long thick and wavy

Skin: I have battled with skin issues through out my life. Acne being the main domain of my problems—but as we know that causes many more issues like pigment, blotches, uneven texture and scarring. In tying to find the balance I experimented with many products and treatments. I never went as far as accutane but paid visits to the dermatologist and used products with benzoyl peroxide and went on antibiotics. Sorely disappointed I saw an Esthetician who helped get a proper routine and acne facials to help correct my skin. This intrigued me into the skin care world. I am a working Esthetician now and have finally found things that have worked for my skin. Pleasantly surprised I found most if these products I’ve used over the past 10 years have been natural/organic options.

Favorite star: Kate Moss

In the shower…

I flip flop between showering in the morning or evening. Most mornings I climb in the shower half awake, trying not to be indulgent as I have limited time before work or before my boyfriend kicks me out. I usually brush my teeth in the shower with my favorite hard-to-find toothpaste from France called Botot. It’s a fennel-flavored toothpaste. I like this because it’s different than your average toothpaste and makes brushing your teeth feel special. In the mornings I won’t wash my hair everyday I just rinse my wavy tresses and use a good amount of Kahina argan oil throughout my hair to seal and calm the frizz. When I do wash and condition I mix in up between Rare Elements (very natural) and Davines love line (not so natural) these keep my long hair in line. I always leave in my conditioner while shaving or washing my body and then comb through with a wide-tooth comb. This really ensures that the product reaches every strand and conditions deeply. While my conditioner is setting in I usually suds up with a sea sponge and body wash from Everyday Shea that has coconut oil and ahea butters as well coffee extracts for a little stimulation to hopefully prevent any unwanted dimpling down the line. If I shave I use pure coconut oil or Aveno shave cream. I know it’s not the best for you but I have very sensitive legs and this one creates a nice barrier. Always unscented! In the mornings I don’t like to use a harsh face wash. If my skin’s OK and I’ve cleansed your face at night already I don’t like to use anything too striping for day. I use In Fiores Treate cleanser that has pure Aloe Vera and Bulgarian rose waters. Smells divine! If I’m showering at night I like to throw in the works with a full dry brushing session and my favorite body scrub by Suki and even a nighttime facial mask. I like Kahina’s antioxidant mask because it’s purifying but also doubles over as a exfoliator with its micro silica particles. After that I use a gel face wash like Dr Alkaitis purifying cleanser to take off the day.

Outside the shower…

I usually finish off with an all over body balm like In Fiores Dayala filled with the aroma of jasmine and lemongrass. For the face it’s an application of Kahina’s argan oil mixed with their brightening serum. I also use a cooling depuffing eye gel from arcona that has anti-aging ingredients. In the mornings I am religious about using in Fiores vitale toner. Its not just a toner it’s really more like a serum that delivers nutrients and water to the skin. I always also always use a sunscreen mixed with Dr Hauschkas translucent bronze concentrate to blend my own tinted sunscreen. I have three different lip balms I cannot live without… Fresh lip care stick in honey, rms lip balm in vanilla and the Dr Hauschka lip care stick and a new favorite is the In Fiore velouté that comes in a beautiful brass compact with a mirror—you can’t go wrong!

Finishing touches…

I actually don’t wear makeup often. After battling with acne for so many years I pretty much wrote it off. I believe in a great pair of earrings, well groomed eyebrows, and I cannot live without an eye lash tint! If I have somewhere to go I usually give in to a little lip to cheek by rms because its so simple and fast and a little water to canvas highlighter by Vincent longo and my fresh lip balm with the tint honey. I also love Arcona’s mineral brushes for a quick all over fix. I regularly take vitamin c, probiotics and a herbal immune supplement to keep me healthy and happy. :)