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?
Meet our sweet friend, and loyal NMDL reader, Arianne Shaffer. When she offered to write a blog post about her bank-breaking obsession with Tammy Fender products, we knew it would be as great and hilarious as she is. Can you relate? :)
It was the summer of 2011 and I was nursing a touch of the heartbreak. I’d also turned 30 earlier that year. Lines were all of a sudden taking up permanent residency on my face and the odd grey hair was starting to yelp at me in the mirror (once I even spied one in my eyebrow!). I now needed more sleep and more kale than I wanted to admit. And my previously perfect skin was now just a little less perfect. Maybe it was the combination of humidity, heartbreak, Adele’s hit break-up single on repeat, and my daily NMDL blog habit, but with one fateful click of the mouse, my life and my skin were altered by a very expensive purchase.
In fact, I remember the night exactly. I should’ve been in New York City for a fabulous bachelorette weekend to celebrate my cousin’s soon-to-be wedding. But I’d been travelling a ton for work, was totally spent, and decided I couldn’t reasonably swing it. Plus a girls’ weekend in New York would likely set me back about $17,000. So I stayed home. With Adele. And my skin and my kale and maybe even a glass or two of scotch.
Enter Tammy Fender. The NMDL ladies had written a glorious review of her products, and since I know and trust this crew—heck, I was even supposed to be snacking on Magnolia cupcakes and tequila shots with them in NYC that very moment—I thought, “I’ve shown serious restraint. I owe it to myself.” This pity party logic + knowing your credit card number by heart so you don’t need to get off your bed + a drink + the internet = I’m going to treat myself goddamit!
And so I did it. I pressed “purchase” on everything trial-sized from the Tammy Fender site and that was that. A few weeks later a package arrived at my front door from Florida. I felt the old and familiar sick but sweet joy of retail therapy sweep over me. I knew I was about to develop an addiction to a drug I could not afford.
To be honest, it was the scrub that hooked me. I felt like Tammy could do things that literally made my skin look and feel happier. Granted, I’d also stopped listening to Adele. I was riding my bike for hours everyday. The touch of the heartbreak had faded and I was drinking my scotch with friends instead of alone. But I was convinced that Tammy had discovered a scrub that could literally slough away bad experiences. Too much faith in the power of the Fender? Maybe.
Just as my supplies were dwindling, I saw the NMDL ladies at my cousin’s wedding. I didn’t want to be that hideous fan-friend who only talked to these two about products and DIY mascara and the virtues of apple cider vinegar, but Alexandra and I had a moment. It went like this:
Me: I’m sorry to bring this up at brunch and all… But TAMMY FREAKING FENDER!!
Alexandra: I know right?! Amaazing. I love the balm!
Me: I’m all about the scrub. But lady, it’s sooo expensive!
Alexandra: Yeah, but worth it. It’s one of the few lines I let myself splurge on.
Me: I actually considered selling a kidney to afford her products.
We both return to our breakfasts and carry on.
But the truth was, I did try and think creatively about how I could afford these products. If they can reverse the signs of ageing, heartbreak, my nocturnal scotch habit, never mind the toll of urban pollution on my face, isn’t that something worth fighting for? I’m a resourceful and creative gal who can pretty much raise funds for any cause I believe in. However, I knew, deep inside, that this was not technically a cause. I couldn’t start a Kickstarter to support my exfoliator addiction. I couldn’t reasonably sell a kidney because then I’d have to take time off work. And sadly, I couldn’t afford to keep purchasing her products on the regular. I had to mourn the truth. I’d tasted the holy grail of clean beauty and knew nothing would be the same.
It’s like having the best sex of your life while on vacation—no emails, last names, or numbers will likely be exchanged, so you’ve just gotta enjoy the moment. That was me and the Fender.
And then, just when I was starting to jones real bad, the NMDL crew came to the rescue. Honey. All I needed was honey and sugar, and I could make my own scrub. No extra debt load. No crowd-funding. No organ selling. Just the grocery store and a spoon. In truth, it’s not the same as the Fender scrub, because let’s face it, that woman clearly has a direct line on some magical unicorn hair she crushes up and sprinkles into her elixirs. But good old honey and sugar—a close second.
Never mind that instead of succumbing to capitalist Jedi mind tricks, I actually made something with my own hands! Such a small thing, but so awesome and so effective. That, for me, is the great power of this NMDL blog/movement, which exposes us to different ways of caring for ourselves. Sure, sometimes it involves spending money (I confess to owning a solid little stack of RMS products), but sometimes it inspires potion-making in the kitchen, which is so gratifying and magical, even if it doesn’t involve unicorns.
This Xmas/Hanukah I’ll be making all my presents: sugar scrubs, hair spray (my own invention), and truffles. I make really great truffles.
Maybe if I send Tammy some truffles she’ll hook me up. Until then, it’s me and the honey and the sugar and the sweet wisdom from the NMDL blog.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this challenge: We hope you’re all back safe and sound from your product vacations. Given all your juicy travelogues (meaning your Desert Island submissions), we take it many of you are feeling refreshed! We were certainly impressed by the number of you who were willing to try using only five products for at least three consecutive days.
Of course we promised a prize for one of you, and we decided on Tammy Fender’s Intensive Repair Balm. This was a Desert Island choice for both Siobhan and Alexandra, so it seemed fitting that we give this beautiful and luxurious product to our winner. Choosing was NOT easy, though. Before we say who takes home the Tammy, some highlights from the challenge:
- Lots of you happily found multiple uses for the same product. Our good friend coconut oil served as a mascara remover, shaving cream, lip balm, and body moisturizer for many of you. And several people mentioned that their “face” moisturizer ended up working great for their hands, too. Lots of you washed from head to toe with Dr. Bronner’s. You know we’re all about the multipurpose products.
- While some of you were pretty minimalist in your beauty routines to begin with, others of you went from using as many as 20 products per day down to just 5. Super impressive.
- Yay for so many people using sunscreen daily! 100% Pure got a ton of shout-outs.
- We’re thrilled lots of you took the opportunity to try new things—like no face washing! Some of you seem like you’ll stick with it, and for others it didn’t work so well. Congrats on taking the leap and trying new things—there’s no way to know how you’ll like it until you give it a shot.
- It was really interesting to hear how much people did not miss the products they put away during the challenge. Happily, no one reported any major withdrawal symptoms! We hope this challenge with help to simplify things for you going forward, too. As much as we love trying new products, isn’t it gratifying not to have a shower filled with a ton of bottles (even when they are packaged pretty and filled with good, clean stuff)?
- On the flip side, it was also good to hear about what you realized you really missed, too. For the sake of the challenge, some of you cut out makeup in order to have shampoo or moisturizer. Several people gave up clean items like RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek and realized that, yeah, they really wanted to add a little color pop to their cheeks! Hopefully it’s now extra-fun to add these goodies back in. We all know there are plenty of occasions where it’s just plain fun to put on the Illia lipstick, grab your Living Luminizer, and feel really glam. You know we are in no way anti-(clean!)makeup, but how cool and empowering to have also had a week where you enjoyed the beauty of a bare face? We love that. Especially when you see studies like this one.
One submission included the awesome—and too often forgotten—truth that, “No one looked at me weird for not wearing mascara”! If you participated, what was your biggest revelation?
And now onto our lovely winner:
Tanya V. from Orlando, Florida! We loved how Tanya put her experience: “It proved to be a more carefree, exciting test of picking favorites and accepting just how beautiful I can be sans the usual bevy of creams, powders, and definers I usually rely on.”
We really couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Congratulations to all of you!
We have a tough question to ask you, one that we’ve been asking ourselves.
If you could only use 5 products—total—what would they be? Yep, it’s that childhood game, and we’re gearing up to make it a challenge, so think carefully: What would you take with you on a desert island?
Alexandra would probably take Rare Elements Conditioner, Tammy Fender Repair Balm, RMS lip-to-cheek in Rapture (though she’d shed a big tear for Ilia’s Bang Bang), Afterglow Concealer in Praline, and a good bar of soap. Or no soap—the ocean will clean her!—and her Laura Mercier waterproof mascara instead? Ugh, tough decisions.
Siobhan would take her Acure Shampoo (hydrating enough for her to forgo conditioner), Tata Harper’s Refreshing Cleanser, Laura Mercier Minerals (they’re clean!), 100% Pure Mascara and, like her pal, the Tammy Fender Repair Balm.
Now, tell us in the comments what you would take, and begin to mentally gear up for one of our most exciting (and challenging) challenges yet!
This post might be premature as I’ve only had one for two days now, but I am in love with my new humidifier (that’s Canadian for “vaporizer,” by the way).
My skin’s been pretty dry lately, despite the fact that I’m using a super rich new moisturizer by Tammy Fender (review coming soon), that eye serum by La Bella Figura, a gentle Tata Harper cleanser and my usual argan oil every night. I also eat plenty of good fats, drink lots of water and take omegas every day. So what gives?
Well, since the holiday season started I’ve probably (definitely) been drinking more alcohol, which is dehydrating and disrupts my sleep a little bit, which stresses out skin. Plus, the air has gotten a little drier outside and in; I live in a prewar building where I can’t easily control the heat, and the radiator is right next to my bed.
That’s why when it was suggested to me recently that I get a vaporizer, I jumped at the idea—not to mention it was on Alexandra’s list of winter skincare tips. Dry Montreal winters necessitated them, so we always had them in our rooms growing up, and I got another one years ago, a gift from an engineer who had designed the thing. But somewhere along the line I forgot they existed. Now, just two days in, it’s love all over again.
It’s admittedly a little humid in New York now, but I’m convinced, though I can’t prove it, that the last two nights I’ve slept better, probably because the moisture in the air makes me more comfortable and less likely to wake up parched and desperate for a sip of water. Also, seeing is believing: My skin is much more hydrated, as if by magic.
So what about you? Do you use one?