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?
Santa, take note. As far as I’m concerned there is nothing better than giving (or getting) the gift of a truly beautiful, natural smell. I was thinking about this whole gifting thing, and how the holidays are a great time to help spread the clean beauty experience to the women we love. But aromatherapy—instead of say, face wash—is a particularly great place to start because you’re not telling people to replace anything in their current routine, you’re just adding a new element and helping expand their senses.
I mean, who here remembers the first time they fell for a natural smell over a synthetic one? I often go back to my early experience…
At any rate, I’ve gifted my share of natural beauty products, and can say with confidence that—while a small vile of Hope Gillerman or Tata Harper or a Lotus Wei energy mist may not have the wow factor of a new iPad—these gifts have had the most longterm impact. And here’s how I know: Every time I have given one of these magical formulas, the receiver has continued to buy it themselves. (And in my case that often means Canadians who have to jump through hoops, beg me to send them re-ups, or pay all kinds of shipping to get their hands on this stuff.)
And if scented oils and mists feel too pricey or risky—natural scented candles like these and these, or room diffusers like these, or the more affordable and awesome Essence of Vali products are all wonderful too.
Here’s why I think aromatherapy is so perfect to give…
1. It’s thoughtful and personal.
You have to choose carefully when it comes to smells. So even if the person is not into naturals or aromatherapy, you need to have a sense of what kind of scents appeal to them. (Though if you’re totally stumped I’ve included a list of crowd-pleasers at the end of the post.)
2. It’s powerful.
This stuff works, and science concurs. Most everyone in your life is probably stressed out, and smells like jasmine, rose, and lavender are proven to help people calm down. Is anything better than that?
3. People don’t get it for themselves.
Some people prefer getting practical gifts, but I do think there’s something really nice about giving a gift you know will be enjoyed that someone would never think to get for themselves.
Now for the cheat sheet. According to one study these are the top 10 most universally beloved smells: 1. lime (fruit) 2. grapefruit (fruit) 3. bergamot (similar to an orange in scent) 4. orange (fruit) 5. peppermint 6. freesia (flower) 7. amyl acetate (a molecule that smells like apples and bananas) 8. cassia (similar to cinnamon) 9. mimosa (flowering tree) 10. fir (tree)
Are you gifting any wellness products or DIY concoctions this year? Is aromatherapy on the list?
P.S. In slightly unrelated gifting news… If you’re a mom, or gifting one, obviously clean kids’ products are a boon. But I wanted to engage in some shameless nepotism here, and point the mom set to my sister-in-law’s awesome illustrated poster site South and Summer. She’s created these very cool posters inspired by the toys of our childhood, and I just think they’d make a great gift for parents who like design and have a hard time finding cool kid’s decor. You’re welcome!
Flower grid image from the Lotus Wei site.
“Does anyone actually use aromatherapy every day?!”
I was asked this very reasonable question the other day at work. My answer: “Have you ever been in my office?”
I get it, though. Even for those of us who embrace integrative medicine, use organic beauty products and regularly get stuck with tiny needles, aromatherapy can seem a little frou-frou: an indulgence, a touch cosmetic. For a long time, that’s how I felt. Sure, I always had some cheap lavender by the bed. An old friend called it my “sleep juice” because I’d developed a habit of dabbing a little on the skin under my nose before retiring, but that’s as far as I went. I suspected aromatherapy might be a very useful tool, if only I could remember to use the stuff.
Since then I’ve developed a more sophisticated relationship with essential oils. If you haven’t done the same, I’d like to encourage you to.
That’s because aromatherapy can, I believe, kill a cold in its tracks, transform your stressful day into a productive one, help you unwind after work, gear you up for important meetings, and, much more simply, make you feel happy. It also has the added benefit of helping those around you, too, without them even realizing it.
I’m getting pretty deep into researching how aromatherapy really works and when I’m done, I’ll share that. For now, I’ll share the six products, from three lines, that I use every single day:
We’ve discussed this one before. As much as it is, in fact, an irritability zapper, this is also my daily perfume. There’s no getting around it: People freak out when they smell it. It’s impossible to describe, but it’s complex and gorgeous and unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. A lady on the train stopped me the other week—it’s the only way I can handle commuting on the jam-packed 4 train at 8 am—and asked me what I was wearing. I dug into my giant bag and produced the little vial to show her. Her eyes went wild while she smelled it, so I invited her to put some on. She did, and then pulled out a notebook to write down its name. “You made everyone on the train happy just by coming on this car!” I melted…and I kind of think she was right.
When I use it: Before I get on the subway in the morning, before hot dates, before important meetings.
How it makes me feel: Like…myself? In a good way.
We wrote in the book that we’d wear this as perfume, too, if it weren’t for its completely unsubtle narcotic properties. This stuff knocks me out, inducing sleep as deep as a baby’s. I like to shake a few drops onto my hands, cup them over my nose, then take 10 very deep breaths. I try not to do this every night, lest it stop working at some point. I gave this stuff to a colleague when she was going through a terrible breakup and she swore up and down it worked. I’ve subjected boyfriends to it, too. I’ve yet to find someone upon whom it does not cast a sleepy spell.
When I use it: Only the second I’m ready to sleep. It works usually within 10 minutes.
How it makes me feel: Couldn’t tell you. I’m asleep, remember?
3. Hope Gillerman Travel Remedy. Hope Gillerman is, I’m convinced, the standard-bearer for high-quality, potent EOs that work almost medicinally—and I’m not just saying that because she’s my next-door neighbor. She’s a natural healer, and I first met her a couple of years ago when she gave me a complimentary Alexander Technique treatment. That was so cool! Even cooler, for me at the time, was the aromatherapy 101 class she gave me before the session. I left her office with the Stress Remedy, which I adore. But lately, my go-to is her Travel Remedy. I wrote about it recently, when I started using it to fend off a seasonal cold. I’ve also used her Muscle Relief on my achey bones (and the achey bones of skeptics): always works. And on my desk at work, I have her Tension Remedy. It’s invigorating and a little zesty, perking me up when I’m computer-tired or anxious about a big meeting. Works every time.
When I use it: All day. Travel Remedy when I feel rundown; Stress when I’m feeling unshiny and haggard from a tough day; Muscle after a killer yoga glass or boot camp; Tension on the go, during the work day.
How it makes me feel: I’ve already explained this, but let me add: The Stress and Tension remedies make me feel much more present, much more in the moment.
Your turn. What’s been your experience with aromatherapy? Anything you love or—gasp—can’t live without?
Oils and orange blossom, abhjenga, Stark, RMS and Pai? Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens! Sallie’s morning routine features more than a few of our favorite things.
Current Weather: I live on the Texas Gulf Coast where it is always ALWAYS humid. Growing up on the east coast, I thought I knew what humidity was… but… I didn’t. That being said we’ve been experiencing some fine late autumn days – usually sunny and in the mid to high 80’s.
Hair: Light brown with some natural blonde highlights from the sun, fine but there’s a lot of it, wavy and chin length.
Skin: Golden/olive-y. Tans easily, burns rarely. Oily – especially during the intense summers. I’ve been experiencing some hormonal acne since getting off the pill about a year ago, which had me feeling pretty crappy for awhile. Within the past few months or so it finally seems to be normalizing, although stress is still a huge trigger for me.
Favorite Star: Angelica Huston
In the shower…
First thing I do in the morning (after feeding the cat) is to drink a big tall glass of water with lemon and a few drops of vitex elixer I picked up from Whole Foods. This is supposed to help support female hormones. I only just started adding this to my morning water and I can’t say its been a miracle cure or anything – but I also haven’t noticed anything terrible, so I’m just going to go with it, even if it’s a little placebo! Then I head to the bathroom. I have two routines, one long and one short. The short one is not so interesting (just a little splish splash of cold water on my face, some sunscreen and deodorant or a bit of a soap-up at the sink if I “need” it – meaning if I stink…) So I’ll go with the long one: After reading about Alexandra’s morning abhyanga ritual I’ve been incorporating this into my mornings too, and I’ve seen outstanding results! Softer, clearer skin all over, and an improved mental state (possibly some balanced hormones – but the jury is still out on that one.) First I dry brush my skin in the shower for a couple of minutes, then I do a full body massage with coconut oil, head to toe (I like to spend a long time on this part.) This makes my skin incredibly soft, clear and “glowy”, very important if you live in a beach town. Since I don’t love straight coconut oil on my face I use Stark’s Grapefruit Cleansing Balm, which is lovely and amazing. Then I sit for awhile and breathe and try to relax. After that I jump in the shower and wash my hair with John Master’s lavender and rosemary shampoo or the Ctonics for oily hair. I find that when I rub my scalp and hair with coconut oil I don’t really need to condition it after I wash it (and it leaves it incredibly soft and shiny – seriously ah-mazing!) Then I wash my pits and bits with some Dr. Bronner’s Unscented.
Outside the shower…
I dry off and wrap my hair in a towel. I use a Pai Muslin cloth and hot water to remove the Stark Grapefruit Balm on my face. I like to lay the cloth over my face to get a little steam action and then gently exfoliate. I try not to do too much manual exfoliation since I usually have a break out or two. I’ve relied pretty heavily on chemical exfoliators like Tata Harper’s mask and sometimes just straight lemon juice – which I do at night. But since my skin has been pretty clear (dare I say “radiant”??) a gentle manual scrub with the Pai cloth is something that I’ve been incorporating more. I’ve learned to be very gentle with my skin, not over-cleansing it, or picking at it, and it makes a huge difference. After I remove all the oil from my face I give myself a big smile! Really! My body skin doesn’t get moisturized because its still got some coconutty goodness on it and my hair just gets combed and then air dryed. I brush my teeth with Tom’s and use Tom’s unscented deodorant. I really like Soapwalla, but Tom’s is readily available to me at the grocery store. Depending on how my skin feels I might give myself a little spritz of Stark’s White Willow Bark tonic and a quick slap slap slap with the Stark Cypress oil… or I just skip right to the John Master’s sunscreen which I wear everyday, rain or shine, indoors or out. I actually think wearing a sunscreen with zinc in it has helped clear my skin – and it definitely helps prevent the dark marks a zit can leave behind.
I used to be really into makeup but that love has faded over time. If I’m just going to be home I usually don’t wear any, but on workdays I usually do a little spot concealing with RMS uncoverup (this doesn’t really offer much coverage for any hyperpigmented areas, like the occasional lingering acne scar – so I think I might try something else in the future) and a little dab of RMS Lip2Cheek in smile (smile!) and my one dirty product that I don’t know if I’ll ever change (sorry!) L’oreal Voluminous mascara in black – it’s my favorite! If I’m feeling glamorous or I have an event to attend I’ll wear some eyeliner, eyeshadow or lately its been a dark plummy lipstick, but those are all dirty products from either MAC or NARS that I have yet to part with. I’m not much for perfume, but sometimes if I want to smell a little special I douse my neck, arms and decolletage with Santa Maria Novella orange blossom water. And that’s it!! Thanks Siobhan and Alexandra!
No, thank you Sallie! This is a truly delicious morning routine.
This is so awesome! The amazing makeup artist Katey Denno, who we’ve yet to meet but would love to (hi, Katey!) has done a video demonstrating the perfect summer face using all our favorites: Vapour Organics, RMS Beauty, Tata Harper, Kjaer Weis and Ilia.
I, for one, am in love with the finished look.
Do you guys use brushes, or your fingers, to apply your makeup? And what do you think of the finished product?