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!





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!


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.

Weekend-Worthy Favorites…Enjoy over Coffee!

fall favoritesSit down, relax, make yourself some tea or coffee…it’s the weekend, thank goodness, so I thought I’d compile a little list of weekend-worthy favorites for you to enjoy reading as you wind down…I hope to make this a regular feature, ready for your perusal on Saturday morn!

As you can see quite clearly from the largest picture, a bag of popcorn has become my crazy munching obsession. Not just any popcorn, you understand, but Angie’s Spooky Candy Corn Popcorn (which I bought at Sprouts, but I’m sure you can buy online).

Folks, I am a huge popcorn lover, and have tried many different popcorns. But this is the BEST I’ve ever had. Salty, sweet, with an orange caramel-icious drizzle, and it actually tastes like candy corn. Halloween may be over, but long may this live in our hearts.

I shall now proceed from bottom-left!

That cute little bottle is S.W Skincare Basics Makeup Remover. Makeup remover isn’t something I’d normally get very excited about. O.K, make that ever. But this stuff is fantastic. It gets rid of makeup, leaves my skin soft (no more red patches on the outer corners of my eyes!) and even doubles as a moisturizer. The perfect blend of olive, jojoba and sweet almond oil does the job without causing the dreaded ‘blurry eyes’ syndrome that pure oil can. Rejoice!

Next up in the orange tube (kinda hard to see- sorry!) is Zion Health’s Orange-Vanilla Body Lotion. I reviewed this product just a few days ago, and it’s been my go-to all-around skincare item; perfect for body and face, it’s light and non-greasy, and smells like how you’d imagine the offspring of a marshmallow and a shot of Grand Marnier might smell (weird thought, but you catch my drift).

The gorgeous lipstick you see before you is Red Apple Lipstick in the shade Boys ‘N Berries. The picture makes it appear more bright pink than it actually is. It’s more of a violet-mauve shade, with silver sparkles. Guys, this lipstick ROCKS for fall! It’s the perfect not-too-dark, not-too-bright fall color, and I’ve been wearing it pretty much every day since my hair got dyed purple(ish). I’ll be doing a review of my three Red Apple lipsticks and I’ll talk more about the formula then, but this is the one I’ve been wearing the most.

Bottom-right is a tube of Jersey Shore Sun’s (no, not THAT Jersey Shore!) Mongongo Anti-Aging Lip Conditioner. This lipbalm is really moisturizing so great for the cooler weather, not shiny like my beloved Mi-Mi lipbalm, but more waxy, and is all-natural, made with exotic sounding butters and tangerine and ginger essential oils. I put it on every night before bed, and my smackers are soft and lipstick-ready in the morning. Great stuff.

Aha! Two non-beauty/food related items! Sarah Water’s “The Paying Guests,” is a cracking story. It’s a tale about love, how far we will go for love….and how far is too far? The novel is set in post-war London, centering around a young woman, Frances, who lives in a rambling old house with her mother and is forced to spend her days playing housekeeper as they can’t afford a maid. Enter, the paying guests – Lillian, and her husband, Leonard. A close and forbidden bond forms between Frances and Lillian, which threatens to undo them all. The title has a double-meaning. Lillian and Leonard are paying guests as lodgers, but they may also have to pay a price for the secrets in their lives and their attempts to conceal them. It’s a spellbinding, riveting read that had me hooked from page one, and although some people might worry that they can’t connect with the love affair between Frances and Lillian, I say…love is love! I enjoyed the love story immensely, and could definitely connect with their feelings for each other, despite being heterosexual. So don’t let that aspect of the novel put you off…

Onwards, and literally upwards, with the movie Interstellar. Wow. I mean, WOW! Despite a slightly overly neat ending, this movie about astronauts trying to find a habitable planet in another solar system is epic in every sense of the word, handling themes of love, family, and what it means to be human with sensitivity and elegance. I loved it.

Wild Honey Apothecary’s Pumpkin Cocoa Honey Mud  (made with cocoa and raw honey) is a divinely delicious face mask. I’ve been using it more and more, and each time I love it more and more. It just smells so darn tasty.

I also love the smell of Flo & Theo’s Lemon Orchard Whipped Body Butter. This lemony body butter is all-natural, made with shea butter, and is very thick. This has proved a godsend for the chapped skin on my feet and my dry hands. If you’re looking for a really thick body butter for winter, this will do the trick.

Hope you enjoyed my Friday round-up! Have a wonderful weekend!

Liv 🙂

My Natural Skincare Routine Post-Ditch-and-Switch…

It’s been about two months since I ditched chemical-laden beauty products (check out my ‘Why’ page to learn more about this) and switched to all-natural (or mostly natural) products instead. Do I see a difference in my skin??

I wrote a post early on in which I mourned the loss of my Oil of Olay Nighttime Regenerist cream. Now I laugh at that post…

I’ve always been pretty lucky with my skin. At 34 I don’t have tons of wrinkles, and have never had to worry about acne. My skin tends more towards dryness, so my skincare routine reflects that…and I can honestly say my skin has never looked better since I started using all-natural products. This is my basic skincare routine:

Weekday Mornings

“Yes To Grapefruit” Facial Scrub (applied in shower) Smells gorgeous and really wakes you up with its bright fruity-candy scent.

Trader Joe’s Antioxidant Facial Serum (applied in shower. I wrote a post recently about how amazingly soft your skin will be if you apply serum to wet skin, and then just let it air dry. It’s just quicker/easier for me to do this in the shower).

“Yes to Cucumbers” moisturizer (smells DIVINE, and neither too thick nor thin to apply before make-up)

Body – Nubian Heritage Coconut and Papaya Body Lotion. Bliss!

Weekday Evenings

Face – I remove make-up with a “Yes to Cucumbers” facial wipe (I also love the Blum brand, which I can usually find at T.J.Maxx – a store with an unlikely treasure trove of natural beauty products) and then apply either my beloved Jojoba oil, or if my skin feels really dry and tight, Argan oil. Neither seem to clog pores, and both leave my skin soft in the mornings…even more so than any night cream I’ve ever tried. The jojoba oil has cleared up the redness around my nose, so if you ever have that issue I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

If I want to use a toner I just use cold fresh-brewed tea, such as green tea, swiped on a cotton ball. My skin drinks in all those antioxidants!

Body – if my skin feels dry I’ll slather on Trader Joe’s 100% pure organic coconut oil. I always worried this would smell oily and gross, but it smells just like coconuts and is the best moisturizer I’ve ever used on my skin. I occasionally use this on my face too, if my skin feels extra dry, by adding a few drops to my daily moisturizer. This also adds a nice glow.


Weekends I have a bit more time, so I’ll typically use a face mask or ‘posh’ face scrub. I have two scrubs I’m experimenting with right now. Root Science RS Organic Facial Scub (see my own review) which works great, and also the lime-scented Derma E Microdermabrasion scrub, which is NOT for daily use as it’s quite intense. I like both, although I’ve also tried adding sugar to coconut oil and using that, and it honestly works just as well 🙂

I’m still using the Wild Honey Apothecary pumpkin and chocolate face mask, and I like that just fine (I also reviewed that a week or so ago).

I love, love, love anything aromatherapy, so my Sunday night bath has become the place to experiment with essential oils. I generally sprinkle a few drops of lavender essential oil in the bath and light the BEST aromatherapy candle I’ve ever used: Mrs. Meyers Soy-Based Candle in Geranium. It’s all natural, with pure essential oils, and it floods the room in scent (even when unlit!) I bought mine at Target…of course, where else?!

Geranium is a ‘balancing’ oil, helping to calm and soothe without making you too drowsy. For me, it’s the perfect ‘night before work’ scent. Plus it smells like roses, but quite as sweet and cloying…yum.

Well, friends, that’s basically it. And what have I learned so far on this journey? Well, fun as it is to buy and try ‘luxury’ skincare products, it’s really just as effective using cheaper oils and making stuff yourself. Remember my post about the bought pumpkin mask versus my DIY one? My DIY one was just as nice.

I’ll still enjoy sampling new products and trying out new stuff, but here’s the overall take-away: that elusive search for the ‘perfect’ beauty product? Guess what? It doesn’t exist!! It’s mostly just hype and hot water, and so my reason for enjoying new products (and reviewing them) is more about finding products that work and have that something extra – like a gorgeous scent. There really is a limit to how effective a product can be, and honestly, there are no products out there more effective than the purest: i.e. coconut oil. I’ve tried those fancy schmancy creams that have tons of scientific sounding ingredients that promise to ‘erase’ wrinkles and other such nonsense. Truth is, my skin’s been better since quitting all that stuff…

OK, enough proselytizing!!

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

substitutions #1 – what worked, what didn’t?

Slowly, over the past two weeks, I’ve been making changes to my skincare and make-up routine. I’ve weeded out the bad (toxic, unpronounceable chemical-laden products) and begun to replace them with more natural (often vegan) products. It’s not been a perfect transition, by any means, and there have been some hiccups along the way…

OK, surely a first world problem, but giving up some of my most beloved skincare products has definitely been tough. For years, since I was about 13, I’ve used Johnson and Johnson’s baby lotion as a cleanser. Why? Well, my mum always used it. Plus, it smells nice, and seemed to agree with my skin, and removes make-up without stinging my eyes. And as it was ‘safe for babies’ not once did I stop to think there might be anything harmful in it. Now I discover that it’s loaded with parabens and other nasties, it’s been trashed (luckily, I’d nearly finished the bottle anyway).

The search for a replacement cleanser is ongoing. I’m from England, and the odd thing about American cleansers is that they all involve water. I much prefer a lotion that I can just wipe the make-up off with. What’s the deal with this, Americans? Anyway, my first attempt to replace my beloved Johnson’s has failed miserably. Yes to Carrots nourishing wipes burn my skin. Looking at the ingredients list I see they contain alcohol, so…not surprising really. Then I turned to a gift my mom had bought me a few months back and I’d not opened: The Body Shop’s chamomile cleansing butter. It works fairly well, but it’s kind of greasy and definitely not chemical-free. So now I’m experimenting with a sample of Liz Earle’s 2-step cleanse and polish system (NOT chemical free, I believe, but almost there…) which has rave reviews from everyone. My skin has broken out with a weird red rash on my chin (and my skin never breaks out) so this one may be a dud too.

On the plus side, replacing my much-loved Clinique 7-day facial scrub has been a breeze. Yes To Carrots grapefruit scrub does the job just as well and smells about ten times better. Not to mention, it’s cheaper. Yay!

The second product I’ve been loathe to replace is my incredible, wonderfully wonderful Olay night regeneration cream. I’ve used this religiously for about five years, and, guys, IT WORKS. It’s also chock-full of nasties, so what’s a girl to do? I finished up the tub whilst the tiniest of tiny violins played in the background. Then I looked in my cupboards for a substitute.

So far, pure jojoba oil is working pretty well. It’s suitable for oily skins (mine is dry, but too much oil makes me break out, just as it would anyone I expect) and helps cleanse pores. I have to say, I don’t wake up with quite the same ‘glow’ as Olay gave me, but nor do I look like Cruella De Ville, so I’m happy. If anyone has any recommendations for a great all-natural night-cream, let me know in the comments!

Enough grumbling – another positive! Body lotion! I’ve found the BEST body lotion I think I’ve ever used, and it’s completely natural. Nubian Heritage’s Coconut & Papaya Body Lotion ‘nourishing, exfoliating, and renewing,’ smells tropical and gorgeous, absorbs nicely into my skin, and keeps my legs soft and dewy all day long. The first ingredient listed is NOT water (always a good sign) but coconut oil. It also contains shea butter, aloe vera, vitamin E, papaya extract, coconut milk, vanilla bean, olive oil, and essential oils instead of the dreaded ‘fragrance,’ (which often contains a cocktail of nasties that the company does not have to divulge). I bought a 13 fl oz bottle on sale at Sprouts for $8.95, but I believe it generally retails for around $11.00. You can find it at Amazon, amongst other online retailers.

Another coconutty body butter (as you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of coconut anything) you might want to try is from a little-known vegan, all-natural brand called Rosemira Organics. It’s pricey, though: a full tub is $22.00. The one I sampled was the Sweet Coconut Body Butter, and it basically contains coconut, coconut oil and something else (I lost the label!). It smells delicious, but it’s VERY oily. The instructions say to pat into skin after a shower, which you kind of have to because it’s so greasy. However, it does the job. If your skin is really dry, or you want something for winter, this might be a good bet. You can buy it at www.rosemira.com.

A final note: lip balm replacement has also proved easy-peasy. See my review below for the amazing Mi-Me lip balm review (the lip balm being amazing that is, not the review, which I’d say is average at best, ha ha) and at night I’m using an already-owned tin of Lush’s Honey-Trap lip balm, which is delumptious.

As I continue on this adventure, I’m thinking of compiling a list of the all-natural or vegan brands I come across on a separate page, with links to websites. Let me know if this would be helpful!

Have you made any substitutions recently? If so, what worked, and what didn’t?