It’s the morning routine… festival edition! Monika recently returned from the sunny farm in Tennessee that hosts the Bonnaroo music festival. She reports that the festival vibe was warm, friendly, and sharing. The conditions, however, were pretty brutal! What are you doing to survive the summer elements? Chime in and send us your summer routines!
Current (survived) weather: Hot, incredibly sunny, dusty and windy Tennessee, heading into a humid and rainy Montreal
Hair: Dirty blonde, lightens in the summer from sun exposure—my hair is medium/fine but I have a lot of it! During the festival it mainly remained forgotten in a bun on my head to keep me as cool as possible in the sweltering sun.
Skin: Combination, oily t-zone and drier rest-of-my-face, medium-fair, breaking out like crazy from the bad food, dehydration and weeklong absence of proper maintenance routine.
Favorite icon or star from the past: Jane Birkin—the woman had effortless hippie style so on trend with what you see today at festivals, and she didn’t need a faux flower crown! She also had fantastic bangs, and Hermés named a statement bag after her.
In the shower
I have been battling a war with my scalp for as long as I can remember—I suffer from dandruff and my scalp gets incredibly itchy and flaky. I used to treat this with a dirty anti dandruff shampoo, and would wash my hair every two days. After I read NMDL, I tried easing my hair into a regimen that included organic shampoo, vinegar rinse and the occasional homemade tea tree oil +lavender oil treatment (mix about 6 drops of tea tree oil and lavender oil each to two tablespoons of organic olive oil, massage into scalp, let sit for an hour or two and wash out! It’s like pre conditioning before a wash and it helps relieve the itching for about a week). Despite giving it 6 months and a regimen of student budget unfriendly $30 John Masters Sage Anti Dandruff shampoo, my scalp would still get so itchy and flaky by the end of the first day after washing that it was impossible to concentrate on anything else. (If anyone else has had a not so great experience with this shampoo, I did a bit of research and it turns out that pyrithione zinc, the active ingredient both in JM and most dirty anti dandruff shampoos, doesn’t actually treat dandruff! More on that here.)
I was so exasperated that I bought a bottle of the dirty stuff just so I could get a handle on the dandruff. Frustrated but undeterred, I looked for anti dandruff shampoo in my local natural health food stores and to my happy surprise, found one that works! I now use Prairie Natural’s Avalanche Therapeutic shampoo for dandruff and dry scalp control about once every three days; my hair feels great, the itchy and flaky scalp are gone and I’m a very happy camper. I’m very grateful to the saleswoman who recommended it. So often our local health store staff has the knowledge we seek! According to her, what sets it apart is the inclusion of pine needle oil and selenium sulfite. Whatever it is, I am finally dandruff free thanks to this stuff!
My current hair dilemma is the very dry and fragile state my hair is in after a week of abuse in the Tennessee sun. If anyone has any suggestions for restorative DIY hair masks, I would be eternally grateful! I am planning on trying a yogurt + avocado mask when I get home as a starter. Incidentally, that’s also what I’ll be treating my stomach to as well, to cleanse after the weeklong junk food spree. (Any delicious vegetarian recipes are also welcome and much appreciated!) As well, I have yet to find a good lightweight natural conditioner that doesn’t make my hair feel weighed down and greasy, so for now I go without it in my hair routine—any suggestions for a conditioner to help with the brittle mess that my hair has become from the summer heat would be very welcome!
I generally shower every day and have been trying to switch to using lukewarm water instead of hot water to prevent the drying effect of my much beloved scalding showers. To wash my pits and bits, I use Val’s Scentless Veggie Bar Pure Olive Oil soap, or if I’m feeling in the mood for something that smells lovely, Dr. Bronner’s lavender liquid soap. I love Dr. Bronner’s products and can’t recommend them enough; from gentle body soap to household cleaning product, their versatility is fantastic. To shave, I use Giovanni Shave Cream in Pink Grapefruit & Pomegranate—it’s not the cleanest out there but I haven’t found a better alternative yet. I don’t shave that often so I suspect this tube will last me a good year before I need to look for something new. I’ve heard that people use coconut oil as a shave cream—does any one have experiences with this?
Outside the shower
I have become a Stark Skincare convert—shout out to Jessica—her formulas are amazing and her emails and tips are always useful and uplifting! I definitely plan on getting my Stark on in the battle to resuscitate my skin! Post festival havoc, I will be trying to clean the build up of dirt, dust, sweat and sun screen from my face, and I plan on starting with a combination of Suki Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser and Stark’s Green Tea detox clay mask.
Once I feel like the muck has been thoroughly purged, I will use Stark’s White Willow bark toner—I usually spray it on my face after a shower and let it sit while I towel dry. I moisturize daily with Suki Balancing Day Lotion, which has a really lightweight formula that is perfect for my combination skin (and I love the fresh smell too!). In the winter, if I’m feeling like the drier areas of my face need some love, I will dab either Stark’s cypress purity + defense oil or One Love’s Morning Glory Complexion Brightening Serum (I got a sample of this guy in an order from Freshfaced.ca and fell in love! I would recommend this to anyone who’s generally weary of putting oil on their already oily skin—it absorbs very fast and leaves behind a happy glow, NO breakouts involved!) I haven’t yet tried the Stark meadowfoam oil, but it is next on my list! For now, however, I will stick to deep cleansing and moisturizing lightly with Suki to let my skin regenerate.
I don’t often need to apply body lotion, and I had been using Burt’s Bees milk and honey lotion for a while—the bottle recently ran out and I am finding myself in quite dear need of a new body lotion because the burnt areas of skin on my legs are starting to peel! Does anyone have suggestions for a lotion that goes on easily and absorbs quickly without leaving behind any oily residue? It’s what I loved about the Burt’s, but I am trying to find something a bit cleaner than that. On the topic of Burt’s, I have yet to find a more natural lip balm as nice as theirs! I bought a bunch from W3ll People, and although I love the colours, they tend to do what most clean (and dirty!) lip balms do—they pucker and dry out the skin on my lips. When I found Burt’s bees, I was in heaven because it goes on slightly glossy and NEVER makes my lips feel dried out! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to let go of the Burt’s, but I am always willing to try new things, so if any savvy readers are also obsessive about their lip balms and have suggestions for a slightly glossy, non-drying organic one, I am all ears!
One thing I can say that I have learned for sure is that I am even more in love with Soapwalla’s deodorant cream than I have been before—it helped me survive a week in Tennessee completely, and I mean completely, STINK FREE, despite my use of baby wipes as a substitute for a shower and the general tendency to profusely sweat out any liquids taken in! I started using Soapwalla earlier this year after being pretty frustrated with my Tom’s of Maine long lasting deodorant stick with lavender. It left me feeling stinky by the end of a normal Canadian winter day (and for those of you who don’t know, it’s pretty tough to be sweating in Canadian winter!). On my quest for a natural deodorant that worked, I poured over countless—I know that Soapwalla doesn’t work for everyone, but I recommend trying it, because when it works, it really works! A trick I also picked up from a savvy NMDL commenter is to mix a little bit of baking soda with the Tom’s deodorant—it tends to keep me stink free! Although it is a little more unwieldy to carry around a deodorant stick and a separate container of baking soda, which is why I am making Soapwalla my trusty travel companion forevermore!
I am weary of using any kind of makeup post-festival, at least for a while to let my skin fully heal before I apply any extraneous substances to it. I normally go makeup free during the day, but I love indulging from time to time, to spice up an evening out or even if I’m heading to work and feeling cheeky that day.
I still have one very dirty makeup product that I haven’t been able to replace, and that is my Origins concealer. I don’t tend to use it often, but when I need it, it’s long lasting and has great coverage. I have seen discussions about concealer on NMDL—I might try out the RMS stuff since it tends to get rave reviews, but I’ll wait to have a few things to order because shipping natural products to Canada is always so expensive! (As an aside, I tend to buy my natural products from two online Canadian sources—saffronrouge.com and Freshfaced.ca.) They tend to carry slightly different items and I’m mostly satisfied with the selection, but I have yet to find a good retailer for sunscreen. Both websites have very limited choice, more on that later, and neither carries W3ll people, which I absolutely love. Will my Canadian ladies please speak up if you have better retailer suggestions? I have recently been using Suki’s Tinted Active Moisturizer as a light concealer, but when I need to get the job done, the Origins is what I reach for. On the other hand, if I want to even out my skin tone before going out, Suki’s Tinted Moisturizer is perfect—I blend it with a bit of their daily moisturizer and apply it to my skin with my fingers. It’s a bit tricky to prevent streaking, but you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
I have been using Bite beauty lipstick since it came out but I’ve seen a couple of admonishing remarks about it in both the book and the blog—after doing some research, I couldn’t figure out what those were regarding. To me, Bite seems pretty clean—can anyone clarify what concerns exist about it for me? Most of my lip products now come from W3ll People, but shipping to Canada seems to be prohibitively expensive most of the time! W3ll needs to set up shop over here in the great white north! For mascara, I’ve fallen in love with Josie Maran’s GOGO Instant Natural Volume Argan mascara—it’s about the cleanest mascara that I can find that I absolutely love the feel and look of. If I’m feeling like a cat eye, I apply Nvey Eco High Definition Cake Eyeliner with a brush and a bit of water—I love this stuff. I have a loose powder black eyeliner from Alima, but because the water in Montreal is hard, it always dried with a streak of grey when applied with water—no such problems with the Nvey stuff! Speaking of Alima, I have amassed quite a collection of their eye shadows and liners; my two favorites are Venus and Eden (a peachy pink and a gold, respectively). They go with anything and are perfect for summer.
Thanks for reading!
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.)
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.
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?
Guys, meet Lili from Lima. She’s the latest in our reader series of Morning Routines…Exposed! We’ll keep these going forever, basically (and if you still want to send us yours, be our guest). What we love about her routine are the products we’ve never heard of and the amazing advice she shares at the very end. Also, she blots her hair! Read on and share your thoughts in the comments.
Current weather: Transitioning into spring but still enjoying the last few days of summer in Lima, Peru: cloudy and fresh mornings, hot noons with clear skies and a strong sun, and cool evenings with a soft ocean breeze.
Hair: A little over shoulder-length. Dark brown, fine, normal, and straight.
Skin: Moderately fair, sensitive, oily T-zone, and with light post-acne marks mainly on my lower cheeks and under the chin. My face still breaks out mildly, especially before going through those painful monthly phases, in-between seasons, or when I’m feeling really stressed. In short, a very reactive skin! In spite of this, my face has cleared up considerably ever since I began using only natural, organic skincare and make-up products about 4 years ago.
In the shower…
I shower in the morning so that I can air-dry my hair. I never blow-dry or rub a towel over my wet hair; I just blot—I truly believe this habit has helped maintain my hair in such good conditions. I use Urtekram’s Organic Lavender Shampoo and once every week use Pukka Herbs’ Bhringaraj Oil as a pre-shampoo hair treatment. The oil doesn’t smell great but it is very nourishing and a great alternative for those who don’t like to use conditioners. Moreover, the weekly treatment saves you tons of money on conditioners alone! As for my body, I use Pangea Organics’ Canadian Pine & Sage bar soap with Hydrea’s Wool Sponge for mild exfoliation. If I’m traveling, which is often, I always bring along Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Liquid Soap as an all-over body and hair wash.
Outside the shower…
I don’t wash my face with gel/cream cleansers—had no special reason for this until I read somewhere that tap water actually dries out your skin because of the chlorine! Instead, I first cleanse my face with Spiezia’s Facial Cleanser and then wipe out the excess with Sprout Wellness Facial Toner using organic cotton rounds. Next, I spritz my face with Pukka Herb’s Organic Rosewater and follow it immediately with Vive Sana’s Solar to Polar Ultra SPF 40. The sun in Lima is very strong and so far, Vive Sana has been the best natural sunscreen I’ve ever used. I still get a little tanned but do not burn anymore and that says a lot about this sunscreen’s performance! I burn quite easily and in extreme cases, I sometimes even get itchy & painful rashes.
At night, I follow the same facial cleansing routine and then spread on some Dr. Alkaitis Night Cream. I then finish up with a little dab of Grateful Body’s Essential Eye Creme under both eyes. To keep my skin clear, I use Dr. Alkaitis’ Enzyme Mask once every 2 weeks. In between, I resort to DIY masks made of 1 tbsp greek yogurt + 1 tbsp raw honey mixed together in a small bowl, or just a thin layer of egg white to tighten my pores every now and then.
And last but not least, I moisturize my body either with Acure Organics’ Lavender & Lotus Flower Body Lotion or just plain organic coconut oil from Nutiva to give it a nice sheen at the beach.
I feel pretty lucky to have been blessed with nice hair hence I never use any styling products :) As for make-up, I’m quite low maintenance as well. My daily make-up routine consists of a little blush with RMS Lip2Cheek in Modern, just a swipe of Jane Iredale’s Brow Gel in Brunette, and Alima Pure’s Lip Conditioner in Natural. I don’t even use concealer for my acne marks since I always feel like the more you try to conceal them, the more visible you make them to others.
For nights out, I take some extra time to line the upper part of my eyes with Nvey Eco’s Cake Eyeliner in Black. My only natural make-up faux pas would be the mascara (surprise, surprise!!). I have oily eyelids and to avoid the endless impulsiveness to look at myself in the mirror literally every 1 or 2 minutes to see if I’ve got raccoon eyes, I just decided to be a little nicer to my vain self rather than the environment and use Blinc Mascara in Black. I’ve tried many natural mascaras (100% Pure, Couleur Caramel, Physician’s Formula, etc) without much success and quite honestly, I’ve given up betting on them. I guess the upside to this (no, it’s actually another excuse to not feel guilty) is that I only use mascara for special events.
And finally, I never go out without putting some Soapwalla deodorant and a dab of Intelligent Nutrients’ Jasminas perfume on the lower back side of my ears.
On a very separate note, I just wanted to share with all of you a piece of wisdom my mother once told me in my most difficult times.
She said that life is like a mirror, a reflection of how you feel inside: If you laugh, life will smile back but if you frown, life will be hard and miserable (ever wonder why a string of bad moments always follow a first because your mood just keeps getting worse?). It’s nothing extraordinary and of course, it is much easier said than done, but I’ve noticed that it does help me stay positive in challenging times, albeit with much effort.
So begin every morning with a big smile and lots of positive attitude!
Lili, we love you.
Welcome to a new occasional series where we’ll share with you what products real people are using in their real lives at a given moment in time. (Routines are subject to change without notice! Heh.)
I’m going to go first ’cause I’m a trooper, but there will be more! And bear in mind, I think of cosmetics sort of like an outfit: I wear underwear (almost) every day, but on top on that, sometimes I feel like wearing a sundress, and other days I feel like wearing jeans and a T. I treat skincare the same way. There are a few everyday items, and then there are some I swap in and out depending on my mood or the mood of my skin.
Now, without further ado… Here’s my morning skin and haircare routine.
Age: How dare you! (32)
Current weather: Really hot, muggy, humid, northeast, generally gross
Hair: Mostly not dyed anymore, thick, wavy, long, occasionally frizzy
Skin: Pale, sensitive, Irish, burns easily, irritated easily
In the shower…
I don’t wash my face in the morning. I figure it can’t get that dirty between washing it right before bed and waking, and my skin seems to best tolerate a light hand, so I keep it simple. Instead of wash, I use a muslin cloth I got from Pai to wipe down my face. It’s gentle but still slightly scrubby, which feels great. In the tub, I use bar soap from Leap Organics, C Tonics Tantra shampoo, and C Tonics Milk conditioner. The soap is simple, and it’s from a brand I really love to support, but the hair stuff needs some ’splaining: This shampoo smells super intense, which Spirit Demerson warned me about, but it’s a treatment for “stressed scalps,” which mine certainly is right now, mainly because I got a trim the other week and with it, a really sweet rash. The rash comes and goes with stress, but there is no more extravagant a trigger than SLS/SLES-based shampoo. The conditioner, meanwhile, is the best-smelling conditioner I’ve tried in eons. It smells amazing! And it leaves my hair soft and shiny and not frizzy, even in August in New York.
Outside the shower…
I am using and loving Soapwalla’s body oil some days of the week (too lazy to moisturize daily) and depending on how many bruises I have, I also use Chocolate Sun self-tanner in light on my legs, and maybe my arms. I apply the fake-sunner before the oil, obviously. Then I apply Soapwalla deodorant.
For face, I spray Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist all over, then on the lower part of my face only—which is where I’m prone to spots—I use Organic Apoteke Active Face Gel, which I live and die by. [Now here's a problem: My bottle is half-empty and the line seems to be on hiatus or out of business. HELP!!!! I am freaking out on the inside about this. I have used this for three years, and I'm terrified about what is going to happen when I run out, so suggestions welcome.]
On the rest of my face, I use Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm. I’m not really repairing anything, but I freaking love this cream. A tiny amount goes such a long way, and it gives my skin a nice glow. If my skin feels really hydrated already, I use the much lighter Pai Chamomile and Rosehip Lotion. Then I roll on a Bella Figura eye treatment, which I am still experimenting with but will review soon, and finally, my 100% Pure Argan Oil Sunscreen follows.
I do not use leave-ins on my hair. I dry it with a sweet blowdryer if I have time, or let it go naturally wavy.
I still love Laura Mercier’s loose minerals and use it, applied with a clean finger, on places where I need it. I managed to find a color that matches my skin perfectly, so I can use it like a spot cover for the places that are a little uneven (nostrils, sometimes my undereyes, any spots I might have). Then I curl my lashes and apply some 100% Pure mascara in navy or black, really just depending on which one is closer to the top of my makeup bag. That’s basically it. If I’m feeling fancy, I might sweep on some NVey Eco or Josie Maran eyeliner on the corner of my eyes, and sometimes some lip color, too—usually Vapour or RMS these days, in pinky colors. And finally, a spritz of Honore des Pres perfume in Vamp, which I will also review soon.
And that’s it! We’ll do night routines too, but separately, since those are usually different from mornings.
So we ask you:
What on earth should I do when Organic Apoteke runs out? And second, whose routine (other than Alexandra’s, who I will strongarm into doing this, too) do you want to know about? We can’t promise anything, but we can try! If you’re a reader and you have a routine you want to share, please let us know in the comments.