Pumpkin Face Masks: DIY vs Bought!

Hey folks!

As promised, today was my not-long-awaited foray into experimenting with DIY beauty. What with it being fall and all, I figured I’d make something pumpkin-y, so I attempted an easy ‘pumpkin pie’ facemask. I also have a nice store-bought comparison I can do, having recently snagged Wild Honey Apothecary’s Pumpkin Cocoa Mask ($22.00 for 2oz). Doesn’t it look delllicccious? Mmmmmm!

wild honey facemask

First of all, why would you want to slather your face in pumpkin anyway? Well, pumpkins are packed full of vitamin C and vitamin A, which help boost collagen production, amongst other things. They’re also loaded with AHA’s, which increase cell turnover and brighten skin. So, this is the perfect anti-aging ingredient.

Let’s start with my newly bought pumpkin cocoa mask, shall we?
First off, this product smells AMAZING. I have no words. It basically smells like chocolate – far more than it does pumpkin. It’s also got honey in it, which makes it VERY sticky. Applying it was difficult. Once on, it smelled lovely, but I didn’t feel a tingle or any sensation. I left it on for about 20 minutes, and it did leave my skin nice and soft. I probably won’t buy it again because of the price, but it feels luxurious simply because of the divine smell!

Now onto my DIY ‘pumpkin pie’ mask. Here’s what I put in:

2tbsp organic pumpkin puree

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp milk

a dash of pumpkin pie spice

Mix it all up and apply with the back of a spoon (I keep one of those plastic Yogurtland spoons around for this purpose)

Now we’re in real-time because, I’m still wearing it! My face is bright orange (this is the perfect Halloween-day beauty treatment!). Unlike the bought mask this feels really nice on. The best word I can describe for it is ‘cooling.’ It also smells, well, like someone smushed pumpkin pie onto my face!

OK, just rinsed it off. This mask had more of a brightening and tightening effect than Wild Honey’s, which was more softening. This may be because it has pumpkin seed oil in it, so a few drops of oil in the DIY one would probably yield a similar result.

Breakdown:

Price- DIY wins, naturally.

Smell- a tie. I love both cocoa and pumpkin!

Texture- DIY is smoother and easier to apply

Result- pretty much a tie.

Overall verdict: DIY WINS!!!!

shea terra organics 30% off coupon code – today only!

Hey guys!

Shea Terra products are on my wishlist, and I’ve heard wonderful things about their body creams; in particular the white chocolate one. Use code sept2014 to get 30% off, but hurry! The deal ends TODAY!

only goodness inside deodorant – holy moly, it works!

Hey All!

Today, as promised, I tried out the Only Goodness Inside brand all-natural deodorant from my Vegan Cuts box. I spent a difficult day at work trying not to surreptitiously sniff my armpits. One of my students walked into my room and declared it to be “stinky.” Cue huge bout of paranoia! Turns out it was my half-eaten hummus dip sitting on the desk, thank the lord.

Finally, I got home and could sniff in peace. And, you know what? It worked! This is the first time I’ve had success with a non-aluminum deodorant, and I couldn’t be happier. I wore my regular “Secret” brand deodorant the next day, to compare, and I think I was fresher with the all-natural one. Happy days! This is a switch I’m particularly keen to make given the studies coming out that suggest links between aluminum deodorant and breast cancer. Read more here.

Another big hit from my Vegan Cuts box, which I said I would update you about, was the Derma E microdermabrasion scrub. First off, I apparently have to apologize. I told you it smelled of lemons. I told my hubby it smelled of lemons. To which he promptly replied, “you’re an idiot; that’s smells of limes.” Lemons, limes, what ‘evs. Anyway, it smells yummy, and it works great.

My favorite product is still the Lunatick eyeshadow though!

ready to launch? the beginner’s guide to safe, healthy beauty products!

So you’ve heard that beauty products contain parabens, pthlates, and other nasties. You really do want to make some changes, but where to start? Here’s my quick guide to dipping your toe into the world of natural beauty!

1. Oil-Up!

One of the easiest and most effective switches you can make (and cheapest!) is to swap out your body lotion or night cream for an oil. Buy organic, coldpressed if possible. For body try coconut oil (available at Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and most supermarkets). For face I like jojoba oil, which mimicks the skin’s natural sebum and cleanses pores. This is a good option if your skin is oily. Others swear by sweet almond, and my mom, who has amazing skin, uses olive – good for mature, dry skin. Experiment to find one that’s right for you.

Additions:

  • Try mixing sugar or salt with an oil to make a lip or body scrub.
  • Make your own relaxing body scrub even more relaxing by adding a few drops of lavender essential oil!
  • Speaking of essential oils, a few drops in the shower will turn your morning routine into a spa-like experience! Choose lavender to calm, clary sage to balance, a citrus oil (like sweet orange) to refresh, eucalyptus to energize and for colds, and rose to relax and renew.

2. Nerd-Up!

There are some great resources out there to help you make the switch. Blogs and websites are awesome, cheap, and keep you current. Here are a list of my favorites, in no particular order (not including mine, of course!) which spotlight eco-friendly and/or cruelty free buys:

Finding One’s Inner Eco Diva: www.ecodivablog.wordpress.com

Dame De Rose: www.damederose.wordpress.com

One Lost Mama: www.onelostmama.wordpress.com

Vegan Beauty Review: www.veganbeautyreview.com

Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” database: www.ewg.org/skindeep/

Wellness Mama: www.wellnessmama.com

The Makeup Dummy: www.diytherapy.wordpress.com

The Organic Life Blog: www.theorganiclifeblog.com

Short, Small & Sweet: http://shortsmallsweet.net/

Rainbow Feet: http://www.rainbowfeet.co.uk/

I bet there are tons more I haven’t yet discovered! If you know of some, please put them in the comments…

Books: A couple of great ‘starter’ books on the subject of natural beauty available from Amazon are “The Green Beauty Guide,” by Julie Gabriel (alongside “Holistic Beauty from the Inside Out”) and the breezy, slightly more ‘fun,’ “No More Dirty Looks,” by Siobhan O Connor and Alexandra Spunt. If you’re ready for a more interrogative book about the beauty industry as a whole, check out, “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” by Stacy Malkin.

You might also like to try the magazine “Natural Health.” I sampled an issue last week, and found it pretty informative.

3. Fill-Up! (the shopping cart!) Save money and effort by starting with simple substitutions for skincare and lipbalm.

The way I’ve started is by slowly swapping out my skincare items, and not worrying too much about make-up. This makes sense, because your skin is a large surface and thus is the primary recipient of toxins when slathering on lotions, facecreams etc. Lipbalms, which we apply every day all day, are another obvious ‘switch-a-roo’ item. But where to find the products? May I suggest a trip to Target? Target has a great natural beauty section where you can find awesome and not-too-expensive brands such as Burt’s Bees, Yes To, and Pacifica. I love the Yes To Carrots moisturizers and CC cream. And while you’re there pick up a Burt’s Bees lip balm! I also love the Mi-Me brand lipbalm (see my review on this site!). If you’re lucky enough to live near a Sprouts or a Whole Foods these have great brands too.

Are you ready to launch?

4. Sign-Up! Explore new brands by signing up for a subscription box.

I’m loving my subscription boxes. Through them, I’m learning about new eco-friendly brands, and their websites are a portal for buying them which is really convenient. I’ve tried both Vegan Cuts ($19.99 a month for a box of full-size and sample sizes; about 5 products) and Petit Vour ($15.00 a month for a box of, usually, sample sizes; about 4-5 products, but higher-end). Another ‘portal’ shop is www.birchbox.com where you have the ability to refine your search to show ‘ingredient-conscious picks’ only. Through them you can buy (and read product reviews of) brands like W3LL People, and explore lesser known brands like Wild Honey Apothecary. I also love http://www.thedetoxmarket.com/

Last, but not least, don’t be overly-perfectionist to start with. We want to do it ‘right,’ and the temptation is to dump all our old stuff and start anew, but be kind to yourself and let the process take time. Even just switching out one or two products is an awesome start, and if money’s tight, find some DIY recipes and make your own products! They’ll be just as awesome, I promise.

I’m still learning, so I know how it feels to be figuring this stuff out. Thus, this guide, which I hope helps. Let me know what you think, and if you’re an eco-beauty fiend, do leave tips and websites in the comments below.

Climate change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm

Climate change is a global emergency. Stop waiting for politicians to sound the alarm

http://gu.com/p/4xy8n

I feel very strongly about this, and am kind of sad I couldn’t go on the climate change march. For a while now I’ve been considering going vegetarian, as I was two years ago, not only because I love animals, but because of the strain the meat industry puts on the environment. I think I’ll be taking that plunge!! I’ll keep you posted 🙂

vegan cuts beauty subscription box review: september 2014 unboxing

My first Vegan Cuts box arrived today! Woo-hoo! Here’s a piccie – apologies for the slightly blurry factor. I’m new to all this!

vegan cuts 2I was excited for this first unboxing, having heard great things about the company. I paid 20 bucks, and I was keen to see if I made my money back!

I haven’t tried all of the items yet, but here are my first thoughts on the selection and value:

1. Suncoat mascara (full-size! worth $14.99)

Wow- so excited to get a 100% all-natural mascara! I tried this, and it works, but does it compare to my Smashbox brand mascara? Er, nope. It’s actually made with sugar, and it does feel a bit sticky on. However, it does the job OK and it is nice to know that my lashes aren’t covered in chemicals.

2. Lunatick Cosmetic Lab Eyeshadow

You can see from my piccie that the sample size is pretty decent (although that glass jar is only about a quarter full). I tried this, and I love it! It’s a loose powder that is talc free. My color is a beautiful shimmer bronze with little silver glitter specks. We’ll have to see about staying power, but it looked beautiful upon first application. Score!

3. Palmetto Dermo Collagen Booster and Restoration Serum

Teeny tiny sample, but serum goes a long way. I haven’t tried it yet, but it smells a bit odd, and is kind of oily. I will have to report back on how good it is!

4. Derma E Microdermabrasion Scrub

Deluxe sample worth $16.00, and it smells like lemons. Yummy. This contains dead sea salt and volcanic sand. We’ll see!

5. Only Goodness Inside deodorant

I haven’t tried this yet, and I have to say, I’m skeptical. A previous flirtation with natural deodorants in the past was shortlived, to say the least. However, if it does work I’ll be thrilled; I’d much rather not have to rely on aluminum to keep me smelling luuurrveely.

Overall, I feel like the value is great, and I’m excited to try some new brands. The box also contained a coupon for a free shower gel from Shear Miracle Organics and 25% off any Palmetto Dermo brand. My favorite products thus far are the eyeshadow and the face scrub, but I may be pleasantly surprised by the others.

yes to…yes to cucumber soothing daily calming moisturizer!

My quest to replace my old chemical-laden beauty products continues! I have tried a bunch of things recently, and will post reviews of them soon, PLUS (very excited) my Vegan Cuts beauty subscription should be arriving in the next couple of days. EEK! Stay tuned! Not only this, but I’ve been accumulating recipes for DIY beauty products, and will be experimenting with some next weekend when I have more time. This weekend was largely eaten up by work, and blogging at my other site. It’s about art and life (my PhD is in art history) and if you love either of those things, do check it out! http://www.dialthelobster.wordpress.com

Anyway, let’s get to the point, shall we?

My stand-by daily moisturizer for years has been Clinique’s. It’s a weird banana yellow color, and you’d think that would have put me off, but no, because up until now I’ve been a foolish sausage when it comes to buying things. I’m not blaming past-Liv. It’s just that once you’ve peeked behind the curtain, there’s no going back to Kansas! Do any of you folks get weird urges to go up to people in the make-up aisles and proselytize at them? I know – it’s bad!

Anyway, Yes to Carrots may not be the most exciting brand in the world, but it’s readily available, and not too expensive. After checking out the ingredients labels of all their moisturizers (which took a while; I did get some funny looks from a Target employee) I decided to get the cucumber soothing daily calming. I don’t have sensitive skin, but the ingredients really appealed to me. Here’s some info, shamefully plagiarized from the Yes to Carrots website…

Organic Cucumbers are packed with rejuvenating vitamins which soothe and soften the skin, Cucumbers also having cooling properties which help keep your skin supple and fresh.
Aloe Vera is a highly effective, naturally gentle moisturizer that is known to refresh and sooth skin.
Sweet Almond Oil is an excellent natural moisturizer that lends a soft beautiful glowing touch to your skin.

Also includes: Shea Butter, Cocoa Seed Butter, Broccoli Extract, Spinach Leaf Extract, Olive Leaf Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Olive Fruit Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Vitamin E.

Water (Aqua), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice*, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glyceryl Stearate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glycerin, Cetyl Alcohol, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter, Tocopherol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Fruit Extract*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Fruit Extract*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract*, Spinacia Oleracea (Spinach) Leaf Extract*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract*, Sea Salt (Maris Sal), Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Xanthan Gum, Alcohol, Glyceryl Laurate, Potassium Sorbate, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum).
*Certified Organic Ingredient
O.K. me again.
Other than the smell of cucumbers, my favorite thing about this product is that a) it contains my beauty favorite, jojoba oil (seriously, no more redness, no more blackheads – it’s a miracle!) and b) aloe vera makes it feel very cooling and soothing to put on. It’s a light, thinnish cream, which is perfect for the mornings.
I bought it at Target for about 15 bucks. Definitely worth it!
Stay tuned for some great upcoming reviews (I hope) and make sure to check back next week to see how my first DIY beauty experiments go!! And forgive my not including a picture today. I’m kind of in a rush, because the family is coming over in, like, T-minus ten minutes 🙂

feminist ramblings about beauty products #1

This is a blog about beauty. It’s also a manifesto against the fetishization of beauty products.

I enjoy beauty. I enjoy getting ready in the morning, and sharing my finds and reviews with others online. The beauty community is supportive, female (not exclusively, but the majority are) and has thus become an empowering space for women. That’s probably why beauty blogs and vlogs are so incredibly popular.

Alongside this, though, we’ve seen a rise in the fetishization of beauty and beauty products. In my opinion, it’s getting out of control. People ‘airbrush’ their lives and instagram their pictures to create a sense of themselves online as living the ‘perfect’ life. Reading beauty blogs can, at times, feel more like an escape from than an extension of reality. Which would be fine, if we acknowledged it as such- just a bit of fun. But more and more of us are taking it uber seriously, to the point where I have actually felt anxious because I don’t have, say, the amazing blusher everyone is raving about (as if that’s going to change my life!). I have a friend who admitted she was obsessed about one particular product to the point where she couldn’t sleep and had to go buy it online. Is that healthy?

People, we have to stop! I want this beauty blog to be different. Dare I say, sensible? So here is my manifesto.

  • No annoying or indecipherable jargony acronyms. The first one I heard as a regular in the beauty community was “HG” which stands for “Holy Grail.” As in, “this blusher is my holy grail.” Folks, isn’t this just a bit over the top? It sounds innocuous enough, but I truly believe that this kind of language just perpetuates a certain kind of semi-religious intensity about beauty products that distorts their real-world value. I love enthusiasm in all its forms- it’s kind of inspiring. I just don’t like raves about a product to the point where the person feels like they NEED it.
  • No overly-stagey pictures of the downward-angle-with-Starbucks-cup variety.
  • No reviews of stuff that only supermodels can pull off- i.e. blue lipstick.
  • No pages and pages of swatches, thoughts on packaging, or other minutiae. I will just review the product, and tell you plainly what you need to know.
  • I hope to build a sense of community here, where people can be supportive of real issues that women face today, particularly with regard to beauty and body image.
  • Beauty products should celebrate, pamper, and honor our selves AS WE ARE. I don’t believe products/blogs etc. should be tapping into our aspirational selves, which is what they often do. Do we really believe that buying that a certain hyped up product will change us, or bring us closer to a certain self-image we’re trying to achieve? Deep down, we all know the answer…
  • Beauty should be fun and playful. We know something is wrong when we feel anxiety, worry, guilt or envy around beauty and beauty products.
  • Beauty should be healthy. This is why I got into eco-beauty in the first place (read my ‘why’ page to learn more).

I could go on. I have more to say. But I’d love to hear more from YOU in the comments. It’s a pretty controversial issue, and I’m sure there will be those who agree and those who disagree.

I don’t claim to be some big difference-maker, but having said that: please vote with your mouse and follow milk & honey!

lovely thing #2: burt’s bees lip crayon in carolina coast

I’ve been hearing a lot about these new lip crayons, and couldn’t wait to give one a try! I bought the color Carolina Coast which, in the tube, looks like a mauve-pink. The packaging promises moisturizing, matte color. I’d previously bought, and loved, a couple of the Flower matte lip crayons, so was thrilled at the opportunity to try a ‘natural’ version.

Folks, I wish I could write a rave review of this product. I know lots of people love it, and it’s chock-full of jojoba oil, shea butter, and many lovely things. Unfortunately, I think I’m just too pale to pull it off. The color does NOT look like it does in the tube. It’s not a mauve-pink at all, but more of a light petal pink. My lips are very red and pigmented, and the color just looked kind of unnatural and made me look washed-out. I think it would be a nice color for those with darker skin tones, and it did feel moisturizing. Just not for me…unless I get dressed up as Twiggy for Halloween because that’s what it reminds me of…that 60s pale pink lip.

Well, you win some, you lose some!

carolina coast

how to get lusher lashes…naturally!

I’ve been using mostly green products for about two weeks now, and instead of Olay regenerist nightcream (sigh, I still kind of miss it) I’ve been using pure jojoba oil (Desert Essence brand, see below) at night instead. My skin looks great. The pores on my nose are much less noticeable and the redness around my nose has almost gone, but another really cool side-benefit has emerged! I’ve discovered that my lashes are less brittle, and seem lusher and glossier than before. Putting mascara on is so much easier – no more spidery lashes, or clumping! Now I make a point of swiping the oil over my brows and lashes, and even my brows seem to be shinier and in better condition.

No s*** Sherlock, right? Putting oil on your hair (lashes, brows, whatever) is obviously going to moisturize and condition it, but I just didn’t realize what a big impact it would have.

Try it for a couple of weeks, and see what you think.

jojoba oil