My Fail-Safe Dry Skin Beauty Routine!

Hello!

Even though I live in L.A and even though it’s a very pleasant indeed 80 degrees most days, for some reason the air conditioning at work dries my skin out like no one’s business. I have naturally dry skin, and since switching to a green beauty routine and using oils, it’s drastically improved, but I still have bouts of extreme parched-ness. When my skin is feeling uber dry I turn to two main products, both by the wonderful Brooklyn-based brand SW Basics, and I have a little routine down for using them that works a treat. There’s something Ayurvedic about these products too…I’m a ‘vata’ type (dry skin, flighty/nervous energy, on the thin-side: these are the vata clichés which I am happy to fulfill). When I was doing my PhD, many moons ago, I read somewhere that vatas should eat more oily and sweet/heavy foods when stressed to combat fatigue and anxiety. It worked! And I think this translates to skincare as well.

Let’s start with exfoliation. Peeps with dry skin should really avoid extreme exfoliants, especially that microdermabrasion malarkey. Just say no, my friends. Dry skin = sensitive skin, and you don’t want to mess with your epidermis too much. However, a little exfoliation helps skin stay smooth and preps it for absorbing oils and such like. My favorite exfoliator right now is the calming and soothing SW Basics product “Exfoliant,” which is made with organic oat flour, almond flour and sea salt. You can buy this online for about $24.00 at places like Pharmaca, and also at some Targets. It’s a pretty accessible brand, and one of my favorites because of its emphasis on pure and organic ingredients – of which there are always five or less…

 

 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. $24.00?! For that price I could just make this shit myself! Aha! That’s what I thought, but it turns out that SW Basics know what they’re doing when it comes to the perfect balance of ingredients. I’ve tried ‘mixing’ SW Basics products up  before, but somehow it’s never the same. Unfortunately.

I apply this in the shower. It’s just really soothing. I can’t say it smells good – sorry. If you like scented products, this isn’t for you. SW Basics stuff just isn’t about smell, it’s about purity.

After a scrub-a-dub-dub with this I slather on SW Basics “Cream” (about $32.00, but worth it and often cheaper online). The key is to do this whilst still in the shower so your skin is damp.

 

I really can’t say enough good things about this cream – which really feels more like a thick scoop of solid coconut oil than a cream, texture-wise. It’s made with just shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil, and it’s perfect. Immediately after it’s sunk in my skin just feels super supple, looks smooth, and feels soft. Applying it to damp skin allows it to really penetrate, so that’s how I always apply it. Again, it’s not great in the smell department. But it really doesn’t matter because it’s THAT GOOD. Also, olive oil is a much underrated skin product in my opinion, so it’s nice to see it championed in this product.

After about half an hour or so, after it’s absorbed, I slather on an oil – usually prickly pear seed oil. I actually buy this cheaply from my local TJ Maxx store. I love it – it’s thicker than, say, argan oil, although that would work just fine too. I have a bunch of other oils I will talk about in a future post.

That’s it! My dry skin routine – super simple, right? Like I said, the key thing is to apply everything in the shower. The steam helps soften the skin and allows the ingredients to really absorb and do their job.

Try it, and let me know if you have any great dry skin remedies!

 

 

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Taking a Break from Blogging…

Hello everyone!!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and a Happy New Year! I’ve decided to take a break from blogging (for now), mainly because I want to invest my time into some other things and writing projects, and I just don’t have the time to spread around! I have had a wonderful time in this little community, and really enjoyed meeting you all!! I will be continuing my green beauty journey, as I truly am passionate about it…and I know I will miss sharing my finds and reviews with everyone and comparing notes. I am really amazed at how this blog grew so fast, and if I could keep it going and do all the other things I want to do I certainly would…but never say never! I may well be back at some point in the future.

Thank you so much to all those who supported, followed, and commented. I will try to continue reading and commenting on your blogs!!

Liv xx

DIY Orange and Clove Pomander for Xmas!

I have such fond memories of making these yummy smelling orange and clove pomanders when I was a kid. They’re an English tradition, and I can’t think of anything that smells more Christmassy.

Simply take an orange and stud it with whole cloves. You can arrange the cloves in a pattern or simply dot them around  the orange.

For children, you can take it a step further. Traditionally, we would put four cocktail sticks or toothpicks in the orange and spear them with jelly candies. We would then wrap a red ribbon around the middle of the orange, and present them as gifts to the kids.

I know this isn’t beauty related, but I’m feeling nostalgic, sipping some cocoa, and wanted to share with you a really easy Christmassy DIY! Enjoy 🙂

Top Tip: Use Coconut Oil When Applying Mineral Eyeshadow…!

Hi Friends,

Today I want to share a little beauty secret with you. I don’t think it’s life-changing or mind-altering, but it has certainly made me a little bit happier when putting on makeup (I don’t ask for much).

So, when I first got into green beauty I bought a few loose mineral eyeshadows…you know the ones that come in a little pot? I love them, but here’s the thing – they’re messy, they’re hard to apply, and the powder often drops onto my cheeks and under my eyes despite my best efforts. It’s especially difficult to apply shimmery, glittery powders.

I experimented with applying with my fingers (smeary and uneven application) a brush (disaster! Powder everywhere!) and wetting my finger to pick up more shadow so it wouldn’t drop everywhere (back to smeary and uneven application).

But there is a happy ending to my story.

Because, if you dip a finger into solidified (room temperature) coconut oil and THEN into the powder, it glides on like a dream – no creases, no weird uneven application, and no glitter on my cheeks making me look like a ten year old at a birthday party.

Hooray!

Try it. And let me know if it made you smile.

Liv 🙂

Discover The Best Oil For Your Skintype!

I know that I have no right to complain about the weather being as I live in L.A. and all, but I’m originally from Britain and complaining is what we do best. And, even in L.A, where people get excited if they see a CLOUD, there’s a chill in the air and a nip at my nose.

The side effect of colder weather is drier skin, so I’ve been researching more about oils recently. And if you’re looking for the perfect oil to experiment with over the bleaker months, I hope this proves a handy guide!

So…which is the best oil for your skin? I’ve done my own research, plus consulted a great book called “The Idiot’s Guide To Making Natural Beauty Products,” to bring you a great list to choose from:

ALMOND OIL – Sweet almond oil is great for dry, itchy skin – especially if you suffer from eczema, psoriasis, or inflammation. This makes it a great ‘winter weather’ oil. (Also a great carrier oil for essential oils)

APRICOT KERNEL OIL – Like almond oil, apricot kernel oil is great for dry skin, and also used in lots of products for mature skin.

ARGAN OIL – Every green beauty bloggers’ favorite, and for good reason. Argan oil is a great all-rounder, helping with hydration, anti-aging, dry skin and increasing skin elasticity. Another benefit is it doesn’t clog pores.

CHERRY KERNEL OIL – This unusual oil has many of the benefits of almond and apricot kernel oil, but is more nongreasy in feel.

COCONUT OIL – Another beauty blogger favorite (and mine) coconut oil is fantastic! It hydrates, absorbs easily, and leaves skin with a dewy glow that can’t be beat. This is why I love it as an ingredient in lipbalms and beauty products as well; it makes the consistency and finish just lovely. I have an article about the top 10 uses of coconut oil here.

CRANBERRY SEED OIL – Good for anti-aging, it protects skin from damage caused by free radicals. Great for under the eyes too.

EVENING PRIMROSE OIL – Great for dry, itchy skin, acne, and dermatitis.

GRAPESEED OIL – Grapeseed oil is very healing, as it contains vitamin E, antioxidants and fatty acids. Another oil that is used for acne.

HEMP SEED OIL – Good for dry, irritated skin. I love the company “The Wonderseed,” all of whose products contain hemp seed oil.

JOJOBA OIL – One of my favorite oils. And guess what? It’s actually a liquid wax! Jojoba oil is great for dry skin, wrinkles, acne, and a few drops on your hair will help moisturize. The biggest difference I’ve noticed in my skin since using jojoba oil is a lessening of redness around my nose. You can also use it as a make-up remover. BONUS – has an infinite shelf-life, so crack out that four year old bottle you’ve got lying around!

KUKUI OIL – This is exotic sounding, but is really good for sun and wind burns, so if you’re going skiing or snowboarding this winter, get yourself some kukui oil! It’s also a good hair product, especially for dandruff. And despite the exotic sounding name, this is readily available to buy online!

MACADAMIA OIL – I’d love to try this; I have a feeling my skin would love it, because it’s very rich, being high in fatty acids. It’s especially good for regeneration of skin, scars, irritated skin, fine lines, and softening the skin.

MARAJUCA OIL – An anti-inflammatory oil, it helps dry, sensitive skin, and helps balance sebum.

OLIVE OIL – Another favorite of mine! Nothing beats the moisturizing properties of olive oil so if it’s a ton of moisture you want, this is the oil for you.

PASSION FRUIT OIL – Used for acne.

PRICKLY-PEAR SEED OIL – This is the new darling of the beauty world! I haven’t tried it yet, but it’s supposed to be good for fine lines, hydrating, and dark under-eye circles.

PUMPKIN SEED OIL – Another ‘healing’ oil used for rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, burns, wounds, and scars.

ROSEHIP SEED OIL – Known for its anti-aging properties, it renews skin cells, and helps fade age spots.

SESAME SEED OIL – In Ayurveda this oil is meant to be very soothing and grounding. Great for self-massage, and very moisturizing.

WALNUT OIL – Walnut oil has great anti-aging properties. Helps smooth wrinkles and fine lines.

WATERMELON OIL – One for the summer! Very lightweight and balancing; great for T-zone type skin. Not greasy, but very moisturizing, this one is on my wishlist once the warmer months roll back around. Actually, like jojoba oil this has an indefinite shelf life, so you can get it now and just save it for summer 🙂

You can also mix oils to create your own custom blends! Jojoba and olive oil is very nourishing!

Any new oils here you’d like to try? Any I’m missing? Let me know below!

Liv:)

Ayurvedic Abhyanga Practice…

Hi Friends!
I’ve been so tired and stressed lately…I’ve literally been coming home from work and napping and then going to bed at 10pm! In an effort to relax and get my focus back on self-care I’ve been practicing Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage at nighttime. It’s definitely helping…I thought I would share with you a bit about this practice, which soothes both body and mind. At this time of year, especially, I think it’s really important that we honor ourselves, our bodies, and our need for rest…Enjoy!
Benefits of Abhyanga
Abhyanga increases circulation, lubricates joints, and moves the lymph (helping detoxify). It also improves sleep and helps you relax. It’s also, obviously, good for your skin!
Choose Your Oil
You can use any oil, or choose an oil that benefits and balances your Ayuvedic dosha. There are numerous dosha quizzes online, but in general…
-If you are an anxious, flighty person tending to dry skin you are probably VATA. Choose sesame or almond oil.
-If you are a fiery type, prone to irritation, anger, or traditionally ‘Type A’ you are probably PITTA. Choose coconut or safflower oil.
-If you are a grounded type, ‘earthy’ with a tendency to need ‘revving up’ for things, you are probably KAPHA. Choose safflower oil.
-If you’re not sure, choose jojoba oil, which is good for all doshas.
Vatas should practice abhyanga more often than other types, as it is profoundly soothing for their flighty, nervous natures! (I’m a vata, I should know!)

Here are the instructions which I’ve been following, taken from the Deepak Chopra website: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/the-benefits-of-ayurveda-self-massage-abhyanga

Steps to Follow for Self-Massage:
  • Warm the oil
  • Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
  • Apply oil first to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (home to many other important marma points—points of concentrated vital energy)
  • Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes—home to essential marma points and nerve endings
  • Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage toward the direction of your heart
  • Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
  • Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs and vital marma points
  • Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body
  • Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body
  • When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously.

2014 Natural Beauty Holiday Gift Sets Guide!!

Hi Friends,

That’s right! I did the hard work so you don’t have to 🙂 I combed the internet for the current Holiday 2014 natural beauty gift set offerings, so you can start planning your holiday shopping!

Bite Beauty’s Mix and Mingle Collection – Bite’s food grade lipsticks are safe enough to eat, which is just as well as I’m tempted by this set of double-ended lipsticks, lip crayons, and two lip glosses. (Sephora.com) $118.00

Bite set

Josie Maran’s Winter Dreams Argan Color Collection! (Sephora.com) $43.00

Josie Maran set
Tarte’s $71.00 makeup set is really good value for money and includes 20 eyeshadows, two glosses, mascara, finishing powder, cheek stain, and travel case. (Sephora.com)

Tarte set
Aveda’s Stress-Fix gift set includes a candle, bath salts, and body lotion ($40.00) Buy here.

Aveda set

Lush “Golden Wonder” Holiday Gift Set is $19.95 (Lushusa.com) and contains a champagne-citrus body lotion, a honey-toffee scented bar of FUN soap and a golden glittery bath bomb! This is just one of many Lush gift sets, but it’s perhaps my favorite of the bunch. Don’t forget to check their Christmas bath bomb collection out as well…it’s just not Christmas without a Lush pud!

Lush set

The Body Shop Beauty Advent Calendar (in-store only) $50.00 but with a $98.00 value, and look at all the oh-so-cute goodies!! Everything from soaps, skin care, to fragrance and three cute nail colors. Love this!

body shop set

Pacifica Holiday Trio Nail Set: Pacifica has a lot of gift sets for the holidays, but my favorites are the nail trios in Holiday Reds or Neutral Blues. Worth $27.00 and selling for $20.00 these 7-free nail polish sets are cute and the colors are gorgeous! (Pacifica.com)

pacifica set

Red Apple Lipstick. What holiday treats are in store for us? Find out soon by registering now for the Christmas Collection pre-sale, starting November 17th. Click here.

Yes to Carrots has super disappointed me with its gift set offerings. I guess my favorite is the cute stocking-stuffer lipbalm trio of coconut, grapefruit, and pomegranate lipbalms for $8.97. Meh.

Yes to Carrots gift set

Now THIS is more like it!! Burt’s Bees has a fantastic $25.00 Holiday grab bag set worth $55.00. Get one here if you can, because these are going to run out FAST!! Set contains tons of goodies – lip glosses, lip tint, facial wipes, shampoo, conditioner…awesomeness.

burt's bees set

Juice Beauty has this cute advent calendar type gift set for $48.00, at a $99.00 value. Behind the doors are a selection of bestselling skin and beauty treats including a reflecting gloss in “Fig,” a green apple peel, moisturizer, CC cream, eye cream, and more. Sorry this pic is blurry!

juice gift set

Vegancuts has got it going on with a bunch of cute gift boxes and sets, including this “Winter Beauty Essentials” set worth $75.00 and selling for $27.95. They also have a Spa Lover’s stocking and some other great gift options.

vegan cuts set

Intelligent Nutrients has a couple of sets, including this one for $52.00 that includes minty scented lip nutrition balm, Harmonic body wash and, erm, hand sanitizer. Hmmmmm (raise of eyebrow optional).

intelligent nutrients set

Mineral Fusion has come out with a 3-pack of lovely Sheer Moisture Lip Tints (which I love) for Christmas, available at wholefoods.com

Mineral Fusion set

Sparitual’s Mini Lacquer Holiday Kit contains a six-pack of mini popular shades including glitters and cremes (sparitual.com) for $35.00.

spa ritual set

Badger has the cutest Baby Holiday Gift Set for $34.99 that even includes an organic cotton onesie and diaper cream! Perfect gift for new parents!

Badger Balm gift set

One last mention is that Birchbox is starting to step up its ‘conscious commerce’ offerings, and has a few giftsets from organic natural beauty companies, and a ‘conscious commerce’ holiday giftbox. Check it out at https://www.birchbox.com/shop/
I’ll update this list as November continues, and I’d super appreciate it if you could add links to anything you discover down below!

Liv:)

Five Steps To Compassionate Beauty…

For most of us, beauty isn’t a huge part of our lives…not in comparison to our jobs, families, studies etc. It’s an enjoyable past-time; something that makes us feel good. In the global market, however, it’s taken very seriously indeed. Women spend approx. $33 billion a year on beauty products, and this number is set to rise (statista.com). Skincare alone accounted for 33.8% of the global market in 2010. It’s such a whopping chunk of the global economy (more than is spent on T.V’s or even new foreign cars) that choosing our beauty products is, and should be, considered just as much a political choice as choosing what foods to buy. Companies like Proctor & Gamble (which owns most of the market sector) have the power to change lives, be it through fair wages, stopping animal testing, helping change the way women view themselves, or what they lobby for in Washington.

So here we women are with the potential to create a huge change in the world, and with this in mind, we need to vote with our dollars…and our hearts. I firmly believe that some companies believe – in fact, bank on the fact – that women are naive and easily tricked by glossy and glamorous advertising, which I think is incredibly insulting. I’m sure that most of the readers of this blog are already making compassionate and savvy choices about what beauty products they buy, but here is a little extra inspiration, if you need it!

1. Buy from local, independent retailers.

There’s a pay-off to be made when you’re into green beauty. You want to explore new brands, and so we join subscription services to explore those new brands, or order products from companies that then get shipped half-way across America. And I’m guilty of this too! I have two subscription boxes, and love them both. At the same time, I’m aware that this isn’t the most compassionate choice in terms of the environment, and being into green beauty it seems hypocritical. I justify it through knowing that at least I am now buying from smaller, independent companies that themselves make green choices, but when I can I like to buy local. This isn’t always easy when, like me, you live in the suburbs, but local farmer’s markets are awesome places to check out upcoming independent beauty brands. As a blogger, I really want to start showcasing some of these smaller companies that struggle to compete with the bigger brands.

2. Buy from companies that ethically source and produce their products.

We don’t always know what goes on behind the scenes at some of these big companies, even in the green beauty world. A lot of us prefer to use mineral makeup, but mica is often a major ingredient…unfortunately, mica is also the focus of a major human rights violation occurring in India right now, where 60% of the world’s mica is sourced. Child labor is endemic in the mica mines, and there is very little regulation of the industry. (Guardian.com) It is now at the point where Lush has decided to remove the use of mica from its products. If you’re interested to discover which companies have high ethical standards and fair trade practices, you can start exploring resources online such as this one. A general rule of thumb though, is that companies that work hard to maintain a vegan and all-natural product line do tend to be more ethically inclined. Which is no surprise, really.

3. Buy from companies that are cruelty-free and don’t test on animals.

This should be self-evident I think, but if your product doesn’t have the cruelty-free bunny logo on it, don’t buy it! Some companies claim to be cruelty-free, but their parent company still tests on animals. So you’re still funding animal testing! Peta.org has amazing resources to help. Check out their searchable database and other resources here.

4. Source your own products!

You can always source your own beauty products for complete peace of mind! Mountain Rose Herb Company have essential oils, herbs, butters such as shea and mango, and much more at reasonable prices. What’s more, they are organic, fair-trade, ethically harvested, and kosher. That’s pretty good! And explore some of the DIY recipes on this site (and other blogs!) that use kitchen ingredients like salt, sugar, and coconut oil.

5. Read the ingredients labels!

As I write about at my ‘Why’ page, the FDA has basically no control over the use of chemicals in beauty/skincare products…not even to recall products that are causing harm or allergic reactions. Parabens are just the tip of the iceberg…most unpronounceable synthetics in our products are known carcinogens or cause hormonal disruption, and it’s criminal that companies are allowed to put these in our products. Whilst non-profits like the Environmental Working Group are applying pressure on the Government to grant the FDA more power to regulate and recall products, very little progress has been made. So right now, it’s up to us, the consumers, to educate ourselves on the topic and avoid buying products loaded with chemicals. Read my beginner’s guide for more help in this department!

I hope there are some useful, thought-provoking ideas here, and this doesn’t come across as mega-preachy! But as you can tell, this is an issue close to my heart…if you have any more tips or resources, please write about them in the comments.

Liv 🙂

Is It The Bee’s Knees? The Raw Honey Cleansing Method, Tried & Tested!

Hi Friends,

I’ve been recovering from a nasty cold, and after two days of pretty much no-skin TLC I was greeted back at work today with the words we all dread to hear: ‘you look really tired’ and ‘you should go home and rest!’ Truth is, I do look pretty peaky (at 34 years old I guess you can’t afford a couple of days of just splashing water on your face!) But luckily I have a solution…

..Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting on and off with the raw honey cleansing method, something I’ve been reading a lot about on other natural beauty blogs.

We all know that honey is naturally moisturizing, soothing, and generally good for skin, but can skincare really be as simple as slapping some honey on our faces every day and washing it off? I was skeptical.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting this journey into green beauty, it’s to not be surprised at the effectiveness of pure ingredients. It makes me wonder how I ever got sucked into the lure of L’Oreal or Olay ads when simple, natural products have worked so well. It seems TOO easy, right? Until you start to consider that maybe those companies are just overcomplicating things needlessly. Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box!

So why use honey?

1. Honey is antibacterial and probiotic. It helps prevent breakouts and is great for acne sufferers. Manuka honey is especially healing for acne sufferers.

2. Honey balances oily skin and moisturizers dry.

3. Honey is so gentle it’s fine for people with eczema or rosacea (note: a few people are allergic to the pollen, so if honey makes your skin itch just watch it off).

4. Honey smells delish.

Using raw honey to cleanse is simple. It won’t remove makeup, so do that first (I use jojoba oil or S.W Skincare Basics Makeup remover). Then take about a teaspoon of raw honey and mix it with a little warm water. Rub all over face, and wash off (I use a muslin cloth to remove). Or you can leave it on longer for a deeper cleanse.

honey

And yes, it should be raw honey as opposed to ‘pure’ or just ‘organic.’ Preferably you’re looking for raw AND organic. I use white honey as it’s very smooth and easy to apply.

It’s been working for me, leaving my skin feeling really soft. So I better crack open the jar before work tomorrow, and show my poor old dehydrated skin some love…!

How about you? Have you tried the raw honey cleansing method? Did it work?

Liv 🙂

DIY Soothing Chai-Tea Face Bath!

No need for my usual Minimal Makeup Monday Tag today as I was home all day, sick! (sniff). Sore of throat and drippy of nose, I scoured the internet for a natural cold remedy. I found a number of sites raving about the benefits of a ginger or eucalyptus face steam (or ‘bath’ which sounds a bit more hip, doesn’t it?) which helps with headaches and congested noses. Side benefit: great for your skin too!

Unfortunately, I am a normal person, and don’t always happen to have on hand the ingredients required for these spur of the moment larks (in this case specific essential oils or ginger) so I improvised…and came up with a winner!

Because what I did have in the cupboard was a box of Chai Tea teabags (courtesy of Trader Joe’s). I plopped two of these in a sink full of boiling hot water (it has to be boiling), bent over, covered my head with a towel not unlike Ford Prefect in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” and breathed in deeply..

AAAH!

I was hit with the lovely aroma of ginger, cloves, star anise and pepper. The ginger and pepper really cleared out the old airways, and also helped alleviate my headache. A bit more internet research, and I discovered that pepper is actually a natural remedy for headaches…

I’m a DIY genius!!!

Liv:)