So, right up front: in my opinion, there’s no such thing as a truly clean nail polish. Not even those water-based (and, in my opinion, entirely useless) polishes.
Fig + Sage wrote a great piece about this some time ago, and I don’t think I can really add anything to their points. That said, I love me some pretty nails, and after many years of going sans polish to keep away from toxins in the pregnancy/baby years, I found Zoya. This is in the category of “clean enough” for me* (remember this post?). Normally I won’t use anything on my body that I couldn’t eat, but there is something about nail polish I really love, so I break the rule occasionally. I’ve been “doing my nails” on a weekly basis since I was 11 years old, and it’s a very important ritual for me. It was the one girly thing I did as a youngster. It’s quite meditative, and I always do it myself – no salons. Sometimes it just means a nice file and buff routine, but these days it often includes Zoya. It’s the only brand I regularly use, and they have all the bases covered, including remover. The polishes are much less expensive than other clean-ish brands, typically $8-9.00 a bottle.
Their more recent collections are 5-Free (missing the five most toxic chemicals typically in polish) and wear like crazy. I have tried some of the older formulas, and the ones from the last couple years are definitely superior. If I use their “regular” shiny finish polishes, I always do the base/top coat to maximize wear. Some of the polishes, especially the ones with some sparkle, can go 5-7 days with only minimal tip wear. I love the new matte finish polish look, but until recently the wear time was only a few days. Well, no more! With this new collection, I have gone a SOLID WEEK with fabulous looking nails. That means dishes, laundry, brain dissections (hey, I’m a science teacher), and a generally active lifestyle without trying to be careful. Seriously. I’m in love.
Zoya PixieDust: They describe this line as textured, matte, and stunning. Agreed. The first group that came out was so tempting, I had to buy the full collection. When the summer palette debuted recently, I bought a few of those, too. They all look great with 2 coats, but 3 is better to give the full impact with saturated, rich color. There is no need for any base or top coat, and they dry super fast. Typical of my tastes, the black and grey are my favorites. But they are all beautiful. The finish is like sparkly colored sugar sprinkled on your nails. My favorite part is the layering of color. I almost never wear pink or red polish, but the red over the black is just so delicious. Really, any of the lighter colors layered over the darker ones look good. The pic above is one coat of Liberty over two coats of Dahlia (after 6 days of wear!), and the photo doesn’t do the color justice. I get tons of compliments when I use these polishes. My current obsession is with the beige shade (Godiva). My toes are sporting it right now, and they look like I dipped them in sparkly gold-beige sand. My first time removing the PixieDust polish involved a lot of rubbing (much more so than regular Zoya). But I figured out to pour a little remover in a tiny glass bowl and dip for just a minute, and it comes off fairly easily. Toes are harder to dip, so I just let the remover-soaked cotton pad sit on the nail for longer than I would with regular polish.
*I received a full list of polish ingredients from the company, and entered all the info at Skin Deep, including the “may contain” stuff. The polish rates a 5, the remover a 3. I tend to think the polish number is a bit high, because not all the “may contain” ingredients are in every polish.
Good morning everybody–meet Alex! She tries to steer clear of perfumes, and is a pro with body oils. Right now she’s diggin’ the Yes To line, but she’s also interested in finding other brands, too. Her routine is no-fuss, but fun. Read on!
Name: Alex (la feminine)
Current weather: Unseasonably warm and sunny
Hair: Shoulder length and choppy, contains some lingering blue-green tones from last fall’s impulsive Manic Panic dye job, but otherwise dark brown.
Skin: Not too bad- forehead & nose tend to be slightly on the oily, break-out-y side, cheeks tend to be dry. I get those annoying zitty-things on my upper arms, but my feet/legs/hands tend to be dry.
Favorite star or icon from the past: Louise Brooks- I haven’t actually ever seen her movies, but I love her style.
In the shower…
I usually shower about midday, but I work at home so it’s really “whenever I feel like it.” I start with Giovanni shampoo (which one varies, I like to mix it up) and either Giovanni or YesTo Carrots conditioner. Sometimes I do it backwards, for a change of pace (but I can’t say I’ve noticed a real difference.) I like both brands because they work very much like conventional brands while still being pretty clean- Giovanni even smells delicious without making my head spin (I can’t really tolerate most smells.) YesTo still has a bit of fragrance but it’s so mild I don’t notice it (their shampoo has sulfates though, so watch out for that.) I later up everywhere with a soft natural sponge and Dr. Bronners (I like Eucalyptus, it really clears the sinuses…but I’ve been trying the other varieties too, lately.) For shaving, I use Alba Botanica’s Unscented Very Emollient Cream Shave. Most days I just rinse my face off in the warm water, but every few days (or if I’m broken out or feeling grimy) I use Evan Healy’s Rose Cleansing Milk. Finish off with a pumice stone to the heels.
Outside the shower…
If I used the Cleansing Milk, I skip right to the moisturizing, otherwise I use a little Kiss My Face Antioxidant Toner (I also use it on those little arm bumpies, or sometimes Witch Hazel.) If I’m going to be outside much that day, I use YesTo Blueberries Age Refresh Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 30 (it’s made for older folks, but it was the only variety with no artificial fragrance- unfortunately it doesn’t absorb very well, probably because of the physical sunscreens. I will probably try another brand when this runs out.) If I’m not going to be outside much, I use Acure Chamomile + Carrot Day Cream, which is great. The rest of my routine is a little greasy, so I save it for nighttime: my all-over body oil is a homemade concoction that is about two thirds grapeseed oil, one third jojoba oil, and a dash of argan oil (grapeseed and argan are Aura Cacia, jojoba is Desert Essence.) About every other night I use pure argan oil on my face and sometimes my arms in hopes of cheering up the pores and stopping breakouts, though to be honest I haven’t noticed it being much better than my body-oil concoction (and it’s expensive and stinky) so once it runs out I might try something else. Immediately before bed, my feet and hands get shea buttered (either pure, or Nubian Heritage with Goat’s Milk and Chai.) I wash my hands a lot so throughout the day I use Weleda Skin Food on them periodically- it’s a little pricy but pretty amazing.
I wear make up very, very (like, VERY) rarely, so I haven’t switched all of it over to clean brands yet. The only things I use regularly are Gabriel Color concealor and YesTo Carrots Berry lip butter. I’ve been sort of moving away from the YesTo products but I do love this stuff- it’s mostly coconut oil and it works (and smells and tastes) great. The only “perfume” I can tolerate is a little bit of vanilla mixed with jojoba oil. I haven’t found a clean deodorant that satisfies my intense desire not to sweat yet, so I’m still using an unscented conventional super-toxic brand :-( If I’m just staying at home all day, though, I’ll often skip it. I jumped on the nailpolish bandwagon last summer and have amassed quite a collection- I usually go for Zoya or OPI or another 3 (or 4)-free brand, though even then I have to paint ‘em outside because of the reek. I use Bee Naturals cuticle and nail oil to keep them from drying out. No hair products, I’m a wash & go kind of gal (on the rare occasion that I color it, I try to veer towards the less damaging semi-permanent conditioner-based stuff. Unfortunately it’s really hard to find natural colors. Henna & indigo may be in my future.)
Anybody else thinking henna this summer?
Because I get my nails done so rarely, when I do it feels like Christmas. This past weekend I had a special event up in Canada, and my first mani-pedi plan was my usual: some kind of deep red on my toes, and a buff on my nails. But as I started to look through the OPI selection (I know, I know, big-three free but a far cry from clean), I saw myself drawn to something fresher. So I found a fun bright pink for my toes.
But then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the new spring colors. So pop! I reached for a kind of electric coral, and after some deliberation decided I would do my hands and toes in this bright wonder.
Colors are big, we know, and I don’t think that trend is or should be changing anytime soon. But suddenly my nails have me all excited to explore, and I’m wondering: Who has the best bright shades in the natural nail sphere?
So spill: What colors do you love, and who has them? (Of course, nobody will judge you if they’re not from the cleaner lines too.)
Right now I’m feeling partial to creamy mattes in pinks and corals, though I’m ready to try a few wild card colors as well. Some that I’m jazzed about include: Sheswai’s watermelon pink; the vibrant Highland Fling (a coral creme) from Scotch Naturals (maybe even the mint creme too); this orangey number from Priti along with this one too; and the whole Gossip line from Zoya (though they have SO many colors, I find it overwhelming to choose); this one also caught my eye.
Question number 2: What’s the last color you bought, and from who?
And if you’re finding it a wee early to talk about spring, I beg to differ! Next Sunday we are springing those clocks forward, and though I was freezing my buns off in Toronto this weekend, my bright nails warmed.
So yeah, we’ve been up to all sorts of the very best kind of no-good this weekend. Ahem, extended weekend.
The festivities started on Friday when Siobhan and I met up in Montreal with some of our oldest pals to begin celebrations for our darling Erika’s wedding. (Erika is also a frequent commenter here in the NMDL community.) It lasted for three days and it was completely off the hook! Is there anything more beautiful than seeing two people make an authentic expression of their love before family and friends? Not so much. And this one was especially special.
The second best thing about this wedding though, in my humble opinion, was all the female camaraderie—most notably, the pre-party primping.
We spared nothing! We went for nails, we got blowouts, and we watched the bride get her makeup done with big silly grins on our faces. There were chemicals, of course—too many tears of joy not to be!—but we minimized exposure where we could.
I showed up at the salon with my hair wet and conditioned, cause we know I wouldn’t run the risk of being forced into a wash again. The nail salon we found was also shockingly unstinky, and offered three-free options we could live with.
For myself, this was also a MUCH-needed reconnection to my more glamorous side. A side, I’m embarrassed to admit, that’s been in hiding since, well, my wedding. See, aside from trying new clean hair and face products religiously, I’ve let some of the more ritualized self-care fall by the wayside. My fellow freelancers can probably identify: It’s hard to get to the salon (clean or otherwise), when you are barely getting out of your PJs! It’s also way too easy to slack off when you decide to settle down with someone—whatever that may mean to you.
So a question to the non-single ladies: Has deeper commitment for you resulted in less commitment to your grooming? If so, join me in making a public promise to turn this trend around! Nails will be trimmed and buffed or polished (with Scotch or Zoya, of course!). Legs will be shaved (I’m actually testing out a new clean shaving cream this week). Hair will get blown out now and again (I’m going to see how long I can extend this one with a natural dry “shampoo”).
What have you neglected?
Image via Vogue