Julep’s “Love Your Bare Face”Age Defying Cleanser Oil Review

I was very excited to receive this in the mail yesterday, because it’s been getting rave reviews from Julep customers – plus, you know how I love my oils!

I might be off base here, but I think of Julep as a semi-green beauty company. Their products aren’t totally free of nasties, but the ingredients are pretty darn awesome. This  cleansing oil is a case in point. It’s chock full of lovely ingredients – grapeseed oil, rosehip oil, vitamin E, coffee seed oil, sunflower seed oil, and rosemary leaf extract to name a few. And then they go and spoil it all by adding PEG-30 Sorbitan Tetraoleate (cause for ‘some concern’ on EWG) into the mix. Why, Julep, why?! So, if you’re a purist, best avoid this one. If, however, you’re willing to bend the rules a little when a good product comes along, please read on!

What I like about this cleansing oil is that it’s really light and absorbs well. The instructions call for it to be rinsed off, and it doesn’t leave much residue which is nice – you can even use this in the morning. And I did! I used it in the shower (as always with oils) and my skin was soft and supple all day. I also tried using it as a makeup remover, just swiping it over my skin on a cotton round. Success here too – my makeup came off great, no eye stinging, and it’s lighter than using, say, jojoba oil. Oddly though, my skin felt a little prickly afterward (which didn’t happen when rinsing it off).

The smell is pleasant – a pretty strong grapefruit scent. Which makes sense – one of the ingredients is grapefruit peel.

Since starting to use green products I’ve struggled to find an all-in-one cleanser and makeup remover. I’m not sure this is as good as the SW Basics Makeup Remover, and it’s got that one funky ingredient that gets my goat, but I do really really like it.

It’s available for $28.00 on Julep’s website, but you can also find it at other online retailers such as Ulta.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think!





I’m back!!

So, since about November of last year I’ve been off the grid blogging-wise. As you may recall I quit the blogosphere to focus on other things. Things such as…work. Work, work, and more work. Wait? What? That wasn’t what I had envisaged at all! These are the things I had thought that giving up my blog would allow me time to do…

  • write long and complicated poems with ambiguous endings like “and there he stood in shadow” or “trembling moth-like on a spear of grass.”
  • wear long bohemian skirts in art galleries and float serenely through botanical gardens in vintage dangly earrings.
  • cook lovely clean food and sniff (elegantly) organic fruit at farmer’s markets
  • take up a cool but not-too-cool hobby that I could Pinterest about…knitting, flower arranging. You know the sort of thing.
  • write THE NOVEL. THE ONE BOOK that we all know we have inside of us if only we could, you know, give a damn.

As you can probably tell from the tone of this post, not one of those things ever happened. Instead I more often than not would return from work (administrator – enough said!) only to collapse on the sofa and stuff myself full of slightly-healthier than Cheetos chips and watch “Black Sails,” or whatever my current  TV binge obsession was.

It’s really crazy how wide the gap is between our reality and our aspirations, isn’t it? I sometimes think that the popularity of Pinterest, Instagram, and blogs is to bridge that gap somehow…the gap we can never fill except in our fantasies. It’s all rather depressing when you stop and think about it…

…So, let’s not and move swiftly on…

I really like to think that my blog is pretty grounded in reality. At least, that’s my intention. And that’s one of the reasons I decided to start up again. Not only because it’s the only hobby I’ve ever had that I actually have time to do (I love to write, but genuinely don’t have the mental energy to write stories, poems, etc right now) but because I enjoy sharing my thoughts and opinions with you, the lovely reader, and knowing that you know that I’m being honest and open with you in ways I think some blogs aren’t. (No offense to them. Well, maybe a little offense to them).

I’m going to continue blogging about green beauty, my main area of expertise, but as usual I’ll be writing about other things that strike my fancy as well: stuff to do with poetry, art, philosophy, psychology, entertainment, feminism, relationships, and food. There should be something for everyone!

In addition, I’m on something of a journey to reclaim my sanity and find a bit more balance and peace in my life. My job is pretty stressful (so not really something I want to write about here) and I’m definitely feeling out of whack. I love yoga and meditation, and am trying to carve out a place for these things in my life too. So expect to see more posts on these topics as well.

For now, I’ll sign off. Hakuna Matata my friends, and I hope to see you back here soon. My goal right now is to write 1-2 blog posts a week – probably on Saturday and/or Sunday. So check back soon!









Heard about Pinkwashing? What it is & How to Avoid It…

I learned something new yesterday…the term ‘pinkwashing.’ This is the term for when cosmetics/skincare items display the breast cancer pink ribbon logo to show their support for the issue – normally donating a portion of their sales to breast cancer research – but the ingredients in their products ACTUALLY CONTAIN CARCINOGENS. Cue shock-horror.

It’ such blatant hypocrisy and it makes we wonder, with weary cynicism, how companies can get away with it. But, of course, they do. It’s just one of many reasons I got into green beauty.

The way to avoid being ‘pinkwashed’ is simply to check the ingredients of a product brandishing the pink ribbon logo. Does it contain any of the following?




If the answer is yes, then it’s best avoided.

Here’s a short video from YouTube made by “The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,” that discusses the issue and argues that if a company wants to advocate for women’s health they’d do well not to put known toxic chemicals in their products to begin with…

Tuesday Poem: She Walks In Beauty…

tuesday poem banner

In this gorgeous poem by 18th Century Romantic poet Lord Byron, Byron writes from true life experience: about a woman he passed on the street who caught his eye. By the end of the poem, however, he realizes that her beauty comes not from her physical beauty but her inner grace and innocence. Enjoy!

She Walks in Beauty

By Lord Byron (George Gordon)

She walks in beauty, like the night
   Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
   Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
   Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
   Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
   Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
   How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
   So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
   But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
   A heart whose love is innocent!

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 🙂

Weekend-Worthy: Beauty Treats, Good Eats, and More I’m Loving This Week!

Hi Friends,

Here’s my weekly round-up of worthy treats, eats, and more. And I’ve added a new category: stuff I’d happily throw onto the reject pile of life (‘cos we all need a grumble now and then).


1. Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub ($9.95)


For wintry dry lips I’ve really been enjoying this soda-pop-pink sugar lip scrub that tastes like cotton candy. It’s good for lips, but I wouldn’t recommend eating it, despite the sugary goodness! I also use this on my nails to smooth away nail-polish stains and dryness. A bit pricey, yes, but I’m addicted to Lush’s ‘sweet’ range (including their Christmas ‘Snow Fairy’ shower gel…yum!)

2. ‘Life On Mars’ T.V Show (British version)

For ages and ages people kept telling me, ‘oh, you must watch Life on Mars, it’s so amazing!’ To me the premise sounded kind of dumb: Sam, a present-day cop, is hit by a car and wakes up in Manchester, 1973. He has to figure out if he’s in a coma, or really back in time, and how he can get back. When I finally got around to watching the show though (on Hulu Plus I believe it was) I was blown away by how it got to me emotionally…tackling themes of family, justice, and what’s worth fighting for, it’s hard-hitting in every way, surprisingly nostalgic and sentimental, funny, and the acting is top-notch, particularly from Philip Glenister playing the foul-mouthed yet strangely lovable ‘Gov.’ The final episode had me bawling (no spoilers!) and it’s still stuck in my mind, rather like the David Bowie music woven through the series. The show was so successful in the U.K it spawned an equally successful spin-off series, “Ashes to Ashes.”

Please note, this show isn’t to be confused with the truly terrible U.S. version, the ending of which was so comical it might just win worst final episode of all time (Sam wakes up from a coma to find himself on a spaceship. It was all a virtual reality game gone awry. I kid you not – that’s the actual ending).

3. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar with Caramel and Black Sea Salt ($1.99)

It’s 70% cacao, gluten-free, and amazingly delicious. Not to mention the cute packaging. What’s not to love here?

dark chocolate

4. One more beauty find for you. I’m really enjoying the fall color and smooth glossy goodness of Juice Beauty’s Reflecting Lipgloss in “Fig.” ($14.99). I wish it had a bit more staying power, but I suppose glosses aren’t designed to stick around forever (no pun intended). The color is gorgeous – a sort of raisiny-caramel-orange, with some shimmer. It feels very moisturizing too, due to the sesame oil:

  • Organic blueberry, raspberry, acai and goji berries provide beautiful, antioxidant and omega-rich pigments that protects the lips from signs of aging.
  • Organic sesame seed oil hydrates and conditions the lips.
  • Natural mineral reflectors provide a rich shimmer.
  • Vitamin E restores, heals and repairs the lips.
  • Organic agave and sweet orange natural sweeteners provide great aromas.


O.K, now for my reject-list. Here are the things I am so OVER this week!!!

1. Kim Kardashian’s bum.

I don’t care, O.K? And moreover…I don’t care.

2. Coffee.

I think it gives me headaches, it makes me anxious, and when I drink it by the end of the day I feel exhausted due to the crash. Lord, I love it, but I know it does me wrong…I’ll have to buy some decaf.

3. People who don’t care (unless it’s about Kim’s bum).

It really makes me a grumpy person when people either don’t care or pretend not to care about important things happening in the world, be they political or social justice issues. Is it bravado? Is it narcissism? I’m a positive person who tends to see the good in most people, so it angers me. Erm, is that a paradox?

4. Women’s magazines.

I used to read them, but since switching to green beauty they hold less and less appeal for me. The last one I read had an article in which a respected beauty authority talked about how she only had faith in beauty products full of chemicals “because they’re the ones that work.” I didn’t throw the mag. across the room, but I felt like it!

Enough of my whining. Now, go have an awesome weekend!!


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.


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 🙂

Tuesday Painting – The Surprising Truth About Who You Are (n’t).

Tuesday painting

Hi Friends,

I normally do a Tuesday poem, but today I was inspired to write about art instead, which kind of makes sense…I have a (unused!) PhD in art history, so my thoughts do tend to drift that way much of the time!

I’m reading a book right now called “Generation Me” by Jean M. Twenge which argues that children born in the 70s-00’s are raised to believe in the power of the individual and that the self (like love) conquers all. It’s an interesting read, but the book never raises the intriguing question of what constitutes self-hood for this generation, and I would assume that this is because we just don’t know. After all, our experience of ‘selfness’ is totally subjective. But you wouldn’t think so from the well-worn platitudes lobbed at us every day: ‘know yourself,’ ‘be true to yourself,’ and ‘love yourself for who you are,’ spring instantly to mind. Such Generation Me aligned philosophies imply that we should know who we are, and that if we don’t we’re just not trying hard enough. The result? Stacks of self-help books all over the place and a burgeoning sense of insecurity.

The truth is it’s nigh-on impossible to ever really ‘know yourself’ because who ‘you’ are is so incredibly defined and shaped by context. I have heard myself described as friendly, kind and generous and cold and aloof! I have been described as both tolerant and self-righteous- by the same person! Bosses have alternately seen me as capable and scattered. How is this possible? We forget sometimes that there are gazillions of variables that influence how we are seen, and how we behave. The one that jumps instantly to mind is status, either real or perceived. If you’ve ever seen Undercover Boss you’ll have enjoyed watching the respected and loved CEO who, in ‘normal person’ guise comes across as a nerd, bully, or just plain average. Women are treated very differently to men; one culture has different expectations to another. One person loves our kooky nature and so labels us ‘quirky;’ another person is irritated by it and so labels us ‘weird.’ And then guess what? If we’re around a lot of those sorts of people we’re going to tone things down – another side of ourselves will emerge from its cocoon because, ultimately, we adapt to survive. We like to think that despite different situations and contexts we have a stable core ‘self,’ but I’m not so sure. Rather, I think our sense of self is shaped largely by what is reflected back at us -more nurture than nature. If this reflection is constantly shifting, which it is, then how on earth are we supposed to ‘be true to ourselves?’ It’s a therapist’s nightmare.

Long before Generation Me existed, Picasso puzzled over this problem in “Girl Before A Mirror” (1932). At once a hauntingly beautiful portrait of his mistress, Marie Therese Walter, as well as a meditation on vanity and mortality, there is perhaps more to this work than meets the eye.


Marie is shown contemplating her fate. Her youthful body and made-up face seem to sag and melt, dripping like candle-wax, in the mirror before her. It is a spin on the seventeenth-century Dutch still-life, in which evanescent objects such as flowers and fruit are studded with tiny maggot holes, rotting around the edges. “Ah, you are young and careless now,” these paintings murmur, “but, like this fruit, look at what will happen to you!” Dutch artists weren’t totally callous, however. A reminder of life’s true meaning – religion or knowledge – is depicted in the form of a bible, astrolabe, or other tool of man’s potential. Grasp these, the painter suggests, and all will be well.

Of course, Picasso’s work differs significantly in many ways. It is a painting about a woman’s fate, not a man’s. Moreover, no alternative vision of existence – through study or prayer- is presented. This in itself could be a comment on women’s limited options in the 1930s. Marie is trapped, Narcissus-like, by the limited role she has come to occupy. If a religious object exists in the painting, it is her own body. Her image folds out, like a church diptych. An object of male worship, she is at once prostitute and divine being: a duality that reflects Picasso’s dark prediction of the hellish slide into old age.

If we look at Marie’s face in the mirror, however, she seems to smile warmly. There is a peacefulness about the eyes, her face looks relaxed. A single red tear resembles rather a blur of tribal paint, recollecting a more primal self. Sagging breasts and belly also evoke relaxation: a visual gauntlet thrown down to the “other” Marie, who is expected to be sexual and eventually child-bearing – two states in which both breasts and belly are distended, even “perky.”

For me, this painting is not really about vanity or the horrors of old age. It is about the ‘other’ versions of ourselves that lurk when we look in the mirror. Is this cause for anxiety though? Marie’s arm is gently outstretched to her reflection, literally embracing a darker, sadder, but somehow more liberated self. It’s a striking emblem of acceptance, not just of how others see her, but of how she sees herself. May we all be so bold…

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..


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!!!


Red Apple Lipstick Review and Swatches!

UPDATE: If you register today for Red Apple’s Christmas sale you will receive BOGO!! Here’s the facebook invite/link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=734914099920717. Very tempted but…must…resist…money…necessary…

There’s been a ton of buzz around the Red Apple Lipstick brand, and rightly so. Sometimes these things are just hype, but sometimes it’s because the product is actually awesome! And that is the case with these lipsticks 🙂

Red Apple Lipsticks are gluten free, vegan, and paraben free, and contain moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter and olive oil. The formula is different per lipstick, but they are all super pigmented, long-lasting, and feel creamy and moisturizing on. I’m not sure if the brand has caught on beyond the green beauty world, but if not it’s probably just a matter of time.

I bought three of their lipsticks as part of their ‘buy two get one half-off’ deal.

My color choices were Love My Kiss, Push Pop, and Boys ‘N Berries. Let’s take a look! Here are the tubes, and a swatch…

red apple lipsticks

lipstick swatch

And here are the three colors on my lips (which are naturally quite pigmented). I was careful about the light here, and these are as true as I can get, color-wise.

PicMonkey Collage

Love My Kiss is the classic “my lips but better” color, and is the most wearable every-day shade. It’s a medium pinky-red, and I LOVE it. It’s creamy and very pigmented with a slight shimmer. I’ve had some compliments on this one!

Push Pop is quite a bold peach shade, with a lot of shimmer. I think I’d wear this more in summer/spring, but I love how it’s not too orange – more of a cantaloupe.

Boys ‘N Berries is my favorite formula-wise. It goes on more slick than the other two (maybe because one of the ingredients is olive oil?) and feels almost like a Maybelline lip butter, but with more pigment. It’s a gorgeous pink-mauve color, with silver sparkles. The sparkles are not overwhelming, but just right. I’ve been wearing this a lot, as it goes well with my newly purpleized hair, and it’s also perfect for fall. I also really love the smell – this is the only one that is scented, and (to my mind at least) it actually smells of berries!

With my cool skin tone, my favorite two are Love My Kiss and Boys ‘N Berries, but I think Push Pop will get more wear in the warmer months, and when my hair switches back to brown!

Which is your favorite? Have you tried any Red Apple Lippies yet, and if so, which ones are your favorites?

Liv 🙂