Oils & Balms

My Guide to Earthwise Beauty

fullsizeoutput_49a3Another brand discovered through the Boxwalla subscriptions boxes, Earthwise Beauty. Founded by Ava Zhan who pours her heart, and knowledge into thoughtfully creating each product. Her intent was to create unique products, no-fillers, powerful skin care products for the modern woman. The formulations are made from unrefined, unprocessed fair-trade ingredients, unrefined botanical oils and butters, traditionally prepared herbs, and therapeutic-grade essential oils and absolutes. In the Boxwalla box, I tried a few products called Ruby facial oil, Nap in the Meadow serum and Ferizad’s Veil sunscreen. Initially I didn’t quite appreciate the products but over time of use, I realized my skin loved it. Since receiving the box, Ava and team kindly sent me some more products to try and the review below is of the products I’ve tried, enjoyed and loved. Since this post was originally published, the brand also went through major packaging and branding overhaul. The one point I made originally about their unique packaging has now changed to miron glass packaging. All I can say is I’m sad, I know and understand why it was done but I feel sad because a formulators uniqueness was not encouraged or supported by online retailers. It didn’t fit their “trendy, most sold packaging type“, so it had to be done. Moving on from my sulking, lets focus on the juice…

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Marshmallow CleanserMarshmallow Face Cleanser didn’t meet any of my pre conceived notions of a green beauty cleanser. In a typical green/natural beauty fashion, it is not an oil or balm cleanser. It is a foaming cleanser which is blended with organic castille soap with a dash of strong-brewed calendula flowers, marshmallow root, and chamomile flowers, along with unrefined cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil, hemp seed oil and jojoba seed oil. The blue tansy, German blue chamomile oils and Lemon Balms oils are known for their anti-inflammatory, calming, soothing, repairing, and antiviral properties. This cleanser has a very soft velvety lather which doesn’t strip the skin of natural oils or leave that squeaky clean feeling. The scent is calming, earthy and green but not overpowering in any way at all. I wouldn’t use this as first cleanse or something to remove my makeup or sunscreen. This is certainly my morning or second cleanse.

Ingredients: Herbal infusion {distilled water, Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root*, Calendula officinalis (marigold) flowers, Matricaria recutita (chamomile) buds*}, water, saponified Cocos nucifera (coconut) oil*†, cold-press unrefined Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin) seed oil (organic whenever available), Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, cold-press whole-leaf Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, vegetable glycerin (from non-GMO soy)*, saponified Olea europaea (olive) oil*†, potassium hydroxide (but none remains in final product, after saponifying oils into soap and glycerin), Cannabis sativa (hemp) oil*, natural ECOCERT preservative {glycerin, Leuconostoc (radish root) ferment filtrate, Lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, Lonicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) extract, Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) bark extract, gluconolactone}, guar gum, gluconolactone (from non-GMO corn), organic Tanacetum annuum (blue tansy/Moroccan chamomile) oil, Matricaria recutita (German blue chamomile) oil*, Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) oil*, Ferula galbaniflua (galbanum) oil*, organic Viola odorata (violet) leaf absolute, citric acid, tocopherol (vit. E from non-GMO sunflowers).

Thelma Lip Treatment

Thelma Lip Treatment is something I’ve struggled with a little, since every product from this brand has been a hit with me. Ingredients are stellar, but the performance is where it fell short for me. Not because it wasn’t designed well to perform well, its because I have certain pre conceived expectation of lip balm performance. I do prefer a waxy layer (think of Nuxe Reve de Miel or By Terry Rose de Baume). In this case, the balm melts in my lips and before I know it I taste it inside my mouth. I’ve varied with very little or decent proportion of application however it still didn’t work. I know Ava has put her heart and soul into it, given we’ve had chats about how difficult it is to formulate a superior performing lip balm. But for me that search continues…..

Ingredients: Cold-press unrefined Allanblackia floribunda seed butter†, Cold-press unrefined Ximenia americana seed oil†, cold-press unrefined Bertholletia excelsa (Brazil nut) seed oil* or †, cold-press unrefined Theobroma grandiflorum (cupuaçu) seed butter†, cold-press unrefined Mangifera indica (mango) seed butter* or †, cold-press unrefined Trichilia emetica (mafura) seed butter†, cold-press unrefined Platonia insignis (bacuri) seed butter†, Sambucus nigra (elderberry) fruit extract, tocopherol (vit. E from non-GMO sunflowers), Vanilla planifolia (vanilla) extract*.

fullsizeoutput_58e1.jpegPassion Eye Serum comes as a complete surprise for me. I would never opt to use an oil based serum for my eye region given I’m very prone to milia. However, pairing this with retinol based gel serum and this oil serum on top has been incredibly helpful for my eyes. The oil instantly absorbs and doesn’t feel greasy feel. Most importantly it is not so heavy on the thin skinned eye region that caused milia. Personally I still prefer to use retinol (Dr Dennis Gross eye serum or La Roche Posay Redermic R) and go over with this oil. I would be lying if I said this oil was limited to use around my eyes, I used around my lips and all over my face too! This composition certainly outperforms its simple inci list.

Ingredients: Cold-press unrefined Amaranthus hypochondriacus (amaranth) seed oil*, organic cold-press unrefined Coffea arabica (green coffee) seed oil, cold-press unrefined Carapa guianensis (andiroba) seed oil†, cold-press unrefined Bertholletia excelsa (Brazil nut) seed oil*, cold-press unrefined Astrocaryum murumuru (murumuru) fruit butter†, cold-press unrefined whole-fruit Passiflora edulis (passionfruit) oil*, cold-press unrefined whole-fruit Rosa canina (rosehip) oil*, Hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn berry) Supercritical CO2 Total extract†, cold-press unrefined Calophyllum Inophyllum (tamanu) nut kernel oil* (India), tocopherol (vit. E from non-GMO sunflowers), ruby gem essence, clear quartz gem essence, lapis lazuli gem essence.

Sungod Mask

Sungod is direct descendant of Glowville. Composed with one of my most loved clay, Fullers Earth or more fondly known as Multani Mitti with Marigold flowers and Turmeric. How could this mask not be known as Sungod, is beyond me. Mixed with rosewater or whole milk, this mask packs a serious punch. This reminds me of the Haldi ceremony in Indian weddings for brides and some grooms. The golden paste of Turmeric, Sandalwood, Milk or Rosewater, is considered auspicious and sacred. This mask takes me down that path with every application. Quite special it is. Love to gently massage this off in shower and skin is left so incredibly smooth. The earthy floral scent of this mask takes me places (hello calendula and turmeric)!

Ingredients: Wildflower pollen, Solum fullonum (multani mitti, fuller’s earth) clay†, Calendula officinalis (marigold) flower petals (organic or *), Aloe barbadensis leaf*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) petals (organic or *), Plukenetia volubilis (sacha inchi) seed*, Hydrastis Canadensis (goldenseal) rhizome (responsibly wildcrafted or *), Symphytum officinale (comfrey) leaf (wildcrafted or *), Punica granatum (pomegranate) fruit juice*, Grifola frondosa (maitake) mushroom (organic or *), Curcuma longa (turmeric) rhizome*, Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) root (organic or *), Lentinula edodes (shiitake) mushroom (organic or *), Celtic salt (France)†**.

Catharsis Mask

Catharsis is a deceiving simple, yet incredibly mild, instantly soothing, calming mask for days when I had ‘unprotected time in the sun’. My fave combo of this so far has been mixing with cool green tea or mixing with some yogurt. Instant cooling effect on damaged irritated skin, or simply just soothing and calming the skin. Some would say this is tricky to apply because it slides (almost slimy application), it didn’t bother me and surely wasn’t a deal breaker in anyway.

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis leaf powder*, Azadirachta indica (neem) leaf powder* (India), organic Spirulina platensis powder, organic broken-cell Chlorella vulgaris powder, Citrus sinensis (orange) peel powder*.

Ferns and Moss Serum

Ferns and Moss Serum a deeply nurturing, treatment facial oil for skin that needs serious nourishing, restructuring, healing. Formulated with some of my favorite oils, Andiroba and Tamanu oil. Probably least talked about or rarely seen under the spot light ingredient. But seriously fantastic oil that I also personally use in my DIY Body Oil. This facial oil serum, has some excellent Amazonian oils that are rich in Oleic acid – fantastic for mature or very dry skins. Another stellar ingredient here is Seabuckthorn CO2 extract, powerhouse for firming skin. Smells earthy and I think I can slather this all over my face in layers with some amazing results. This oil is going to be my best friend in a fast approaching winter. The best way to use this so far been by misting Cistus and Moonlight mist following with this treatment oil (instant absorption in skin). Oddly enough I have also used this on my spots that have been battered with Salicylic acid and skin around needs serious repair.

Ingredients: Cold-press unrefined Carapa guianensis (andiroba) seed oil†, cold-press unrefined Moringa oleifera seed oil* or †, cold-press unrefined Schinziophyton rautanenii (manquetti mongongo) seed oil†, organic cold-press unrefined unfiltered Calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) nut kernel oil, Plukenetia volubilis (sacha inchi) oil* or †, Hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn berry) Supercritical CO2 Total extract†, Calendula officinalis CO2 Total extract*, Copaifera officinalis (copaiba balsam) essential oil†, Ferula galbaniflua (galbanum) essential oil†, virgin cold-press unrefined golden Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil*, Evernia prunastri (oakmoss) absolute†.

Moonlight Mist

Cistus and Moonlight Mist, is an all round special, and far from ‘standard’ toning mist. Composed with Rock Rose essential oil and hydrosol come that come together, with Monkhood, Pink Phlox, and Rainbow Moonstone flower essence and Clear Quartz gem essence. I adore how this settles and absorbs in the skin. I prefer the scent of this when it’s settled versus when misted. Not sure why, but when misted to my nose (totally a personal thing) it smells like moldy rose but when settles it’s incredibly calming and soothing on my skin. I’ve tried misting on top of my makeup and it doesn’t dehydrate my skin at all.

Ingredients: Cistus ladanifer (rock rose) hydrosol* or (Portugal), cold-press whole-leaf Aloe barabensis juice*, Cistus ladanifer (rock rose) essential oil†, potassium sorbate (natural food-grade preservative), wild Aconitum delphinifolium (monkshood) flower essence, wild Phlox longifolia (pink phlox) flower essence, rainbow moonstone gem essence, mangano calcite gem essence, clear quartz gem essence.

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Selene Facial Steam seems like a product that would be quite easily overlooked, but that in my opinion would be a mistake. This is a ritual your skin needs to experience. Take a moment, pause, breathe and give yourself some time. In a pot of hot water (enough to create steam), soak these flowers, and with towel on my head so steam doesn’t escape. When the steam from these flowers encounters your skin and you breathe deep, OH MY LORD my brain cells unravels new sensation of calmness and stillness.

Ingredients: Achillea millefolium (white yarrow) flowers†, Chrysanthemum indicum flowers (organic whenever available), Centaurea cyanus (cornflowers)†, Verbascum sinuatum or Verbascum densiflorum or Verbascum thapsus (mullein) flowers* or †, Camellia sinensis (green tea) leaves (organic whenever available), Plantago major (plantain) leaves†.

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One of 2017 launches was the Tigress balm a vegan, noncomedogenic balm which claims to be healing, deeply penetrating to invigorate the skin tissue, heal acne breakouts, reduce acne and blackhead tendencies, balance excessive oil production, and firm the skin in the long run. It also protects from moisture loss and from the wind and cold.

In an ocean of beauty balms in miron glass jars, this balm is refreshing not only for its packaging but also ingredients and scent. For me this is a strong statement given I make my own balms and particularly keep a keen eye for balms formulated without Shea and Cocoa butter. Therefore in an effort to dodge these ingredients, some of the ingredients on this list were not only familiar but also comforting to me because I know and can attest to their beneficial properties.

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Ingredients: Cold-press unrefined Garcinia indica (kokum) kernel butter†, cold-press unrefined Virola surinamensis (ucuuba) seed butter†, cold-press unrefined whole-fruit Passiflora edulis (passionfruit) oil*, cold-press unrefined Attalea speciosa (babassu) kernel oil†, cold-press unrefined Pouteria sapota (sapote) kernel oil†, cold-press unrefined Calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) nut kernel oil*, cold-press unrefined organic Rosa canina (whole-fruit rosehip) oil, cold-press unrefined Coffea (green coffee) bean oil*, vitamin E (from certified non-GMO sunflowers), supercritical co2 select Curcuma longa (turmeric) rhizome extract*, Boswellia carterii (frankincense) oil†, Nardostachys jatamansi (spikenard) oil† (Nepal), Pinus edulis (pinyon pine) oil†, Helichrysum italicum (Italian everlasting) absolute (France), Usnea (old man’s beard) lichen CO2 extract (Helianthus annuus [sunflower] seed oil, and polyglyceryl-6 caprylate [emulsifier], and polyglyceryl-3 palmitate [emulsifier] and Usnea barbata lichen extract*. *Certified organic.  †Responsibly wildcrafted.

A soft emollient balm, that melts upon touch and absorbs without a sticky feel is a boon to many. The scent is unique and will not be found in the market at all. It’s difficult to describe but I’d call it a deep animalic, spicy nutmeg, mossy forest. If you’re naturally inclined towards light floral, sweet, gourmand scents you won’t be able to appreciate this at all. It does need an open and welcoming mind. The consistency is of a soft, where you don’t need extra force to scoop some out. Soft and melts upon touch. Now that’s a proper consistency of a balm. As for its benefits, I like how it has healed my skin from retinol torture where skin was dry and slightly flakey. It is also wonderful as a spot treatment, where it worked its magic on healing the spot and reducing redness. Overall given the nature of a balm, it is wonderful for sealing the skin and protecting it from harshness of heaters and Chicago wind chill.

Formulation 1Looking at the pic above, naming it Nap in the Meadow (NiM) was the most appropriate name. It claims to deliver a broad range of benefits in a single product: deep hydration, strong anti-inflammatory action, anti-oxidants, anti-aging benefits, refreshing effects, and even some acne reducing, tissue repairing, and sunburn and sun damage repair.
Nap in the MeadowIngredients: Cold-press aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Sambucus nigra (elderberry) fruit extract††, Curcuma longa (turmeric) root Supercritical CO2 Select* extract*, caprylyl capryl glucoside (naturally derived), Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil (* and †), Achillea millefolium (yarrow) oil*, Helichrysum italicum (Italian everlasting) oil†, Marticaria recutita (German blue chamomile) oil*, potassium sorbate (natural food-grade preservative), organic Pelargonium graveolens (geranium bourbon) oil, Pelargonium roseum (geranium rose) oil*, Copaifera officinalis (copaiba balsam) resin†, Ferula galbaniflua (galbanum) essential oil*, xanthan gum, ascorbic acid (vit. C), wildflower essences†. *Certified organic. †Responsibly wildcrafted. ††ECOCERT/COSMOS approved and Australian Certified Organic. Aloe certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) for purity and content.

Glancing through the inci list, the claims of anti inflammatory, refreshing effects, and some acne reducing, tissue repairing, and sunburn and sun damage repair stood true in my experience. As for deep hydration claim didn’t work for me in Chicago weather. Perhaps another city or my home city of Melbourne – Aus, it might be a different story. I’ve used NiM standalone and mixing with another moisturiser. Either way it works wonderfully, and especially under makeup. More importantly and one of the core reasons why I adore NiM is because over time, I’ve noticed it helped keeping underlying congestion at bay. And gradually I fell in love with the addictive scent. Initially I felt it was overpowering but it grew on me to a point, where I craved it in the morning.

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Next up is Carrot-a-Day or I’d like to call NiM’s younger sibling. I remember in my conversations with Ava, she said if I like NiM I must try Carrot as it may be a stronger variant. Upon trying it I must say, she is spot on right. Smells sharper and medicinal and can be directly attributed to Carrot Seed Oil. I’ve extensively used this oil in my own balm so I knew I was in a familiar place. It is an excellent ingredient and in my opinion fairly underrated too, for its efficacy. The carrot seed oil is also skin tissue regenerating and repairing. I cannot sing enough praises for the core of this product.

carrot 2Ingredients: Cold-press aloe barbadensis leaf*, Daucus carota (carrot) seed essential oil*, natural non-GMO tocopherol (vit. E from sunflowers), Helichrysum italicum (Italian everlasting) oil*, natural ECOCERT preservative {glycerin, Leuconostoc (radish root) ferment filtrate, Lonicera japonica (honeysuckle) flower extract, Lonicera caprifolium (honeysuckle) extract, Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen) bark extract, gluconolactone}, Marticaria recutita (German blue chamomile) oil*, carbomer, ascorbic acid (vit. C), Mentha spicata (spearmint) oil*. *Certified organic. Aloe certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) for purity and content.carrot 3

Could I say I prefer Carrot over NiM…..I couldn’t choose one over the other. NiM is my first love, Carrot is my present. Hence both will stay with me in one form or another. Anyway, there is a milder variant of Carrot available for sensitive skinned people. As for me personally, I like it strong with a Bam effect.

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Moving onto facial oil domain, we have Antioxidant Facial oil called Ruby, has taken the definition of oil absorbency into the skin to a new level. As you may know, I’m an oil fanatic, my respect for oils is immense for how much benefit it provides to the skin. However, in the natural beauty industry where everyone is creating one now, understanding oils and skin needs is of utmost importance. The heart of this formulation is antioxidant-rich oils (buriti and pequi), wrinkle-reducing and sun-damage-correcting oils (raspberry, buriti, rosehip, primrose), noncomedogenic oils (milk thistle, guava, rosehip, cranberry), Turmeric CO2 extract and whole-plant celery CO2 extract.

My absolute favourite ingredient is Turmeric CO2 extract which I generously use in my own balm formulations too. I cannot vouch enough for its effectiveness in calming spots, underlying congestion, helping eczema prone skins too (based on feedback I’ve received). So long story short, I adore the line up of ingredients and rich vibrant colour of this oil.

ruby 2.pngIngredients: Organic cold-press unrefined Psidium guajava (guava) seed oil (India), organic cold-press unrefined Silybum marianum (milk thistle) seed oil, cold-press unrefined Vacinnium macrocarpon (cranberry) seed oil*, cold-press unrefined organic whole-fruit Rosa canina (rosehip) oil, cold-press unrefined Plukenetia volubilis (sacha inchi) seed oil*, cold-press unrefined Rubus ideaus (raspberry) seed oil (organic whenever available), organic cold-press unrefined Caryocar braziliensis (pequi) fruit oil, wildcrafted cold-press unrefined Moringa oleifera seed oil, cold-press unrefined Calophyllum inophyllum (tamanu) nut kernel oil* (India), organic cold-press unrefined Mauritia flexuosa (buriti) fruit oil, Curcuma longa (turmeric) root Supercritical CO2 Select* extract*, vit. E (from certified non-GMO sunflowers), organic Oenothera biennis (evening primrose) seed CO2 Total extract, organic Apium graveolens L. (celery)  CO2 Total extract, wildcrafted Acacia dealbata (mimosa) flower absolute (artisanally extracted in Grasse, France). *Certified organic.

I’ve used Ruby under makeup, layered with other skincare in evenings, and in all routines it has consistently performed. Due to its light consistency and high absorbency properties it layers extremely well. I also love adding Ruby to DIY clay masks, it ensures the skin isn’t dry or tight. I could endlessly rave about versatility of oils, but one more way I like using Ruby is mixing it with other moisturizers. Ruby would be excellent for oily, combination, sensitive and congestion prone skins. For more mature and drier skins, I believe oils with higher oleic acid would prove beneficial.

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Next up, Ambrosia del Cerrado a unique formulation of hybrid of toner and moisturiser. Or as I like to call it my Cheerful Sunshine. Formulated with glorious cold pressed (to understand why cold pressed look at this post) Pequi, Buriti and Moringa oils and blended with Aloe leaf juice. ambrosia 2Ingredients : Cold-press aloe barbadensis whole-leaf juice*, sustainably wildcrafted cold-press unrefined Caryocar braziliensis (pequi) fruit oil, sustainably wildcrafted cold-press unrefined Mauritia flexuosa (buriti) fruit oil, sustainably wildcrafted cold-press unrefined Moringa oleifera seed oil, polysorbate 20 (naturally derived), potassium sorbate (natural food-grade preservative), natural non-GMO tocopherol (vit. E from sunflowers), xanthan gum, ascorbic acid (vit. C), citric acid. *Certified organic. Aloe certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) for purity and content.

For summer, I loved Ambrosia under my makeup. Upon dispensing from pipette its a lotion consistency however once you spread over skin, its uber light and absorbs instantaneously. The beauty of this consistency is that it can be paired or mixed with anything at all. I’ve tried this with NiM and for me they are the power couple. The scent is something to ravel in, bright cheerful citrusy notes. I believe this is an outstanding product for those with sensitivity to essential oils because they are none. No added essential oils or fragrances.

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Now, who doesn’t love a solid, deep cleansing, exfoliating, skin detoxifying mask which slaps skin and breakouts out of the park. Well that in essence is Frightening Green Face Mask (discontinued). A clay mask, strong herbal scent, mildly exfoliating but very importantly, not drying to the skin. Since making my own concoctions of clay masks, and as much as I love this mask I couldn’t justify the price to this. Clay is one of the cheapest ingredients and to pay $$ makes me slightly uncomfortable….and yes that includes addition of all other ingredients too. However, if you want to indulge…..

Ingredients: Montmorillonite (French green clay), Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel) hydrosol*, raw cruelty-free unfiltered honey, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf* and oil*, Thymus vulgaris (thyme) leaf*, Laminaria digitata (kelp)*, potassium sorbate (natural food-grade preservative), water, Passiflora quadrangularis (passionfruit) extract, Citrus medica limonum (lemon) extract, Ananas sativus (pineapple) extract, Vitis vinifera (white grape) extract, Eucalyptus globulus oil*, Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool (thyme) oil*, Juniperus communis (juniper) berry oil*. *Certified organic.

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Overall, all of Earthwise Beauty’s creations are beyond exquisite. Based on all the formulations, you can clearly tell the creator has an intricate understanding of each ingredient and how it performs in the formulations. The ingredients are not only responsibly sourced (fair trade), but also carefully chosen based on extraction type. One thing I most respect is the complete explanation and disclosure of ingredients including source and extraction method. Hard to find this level of transparency. The product packaging and labelling is simple, colourful and unique. In a world of natural beauty, where almost every second brand is leaping at miron glass with gold embossed font, here is a refreshing look at the packaging which helps associate its own identity. Kudos to Ava and team for that!!!

Source: all raw ingredients and formulation pics are from Earthwise Beauty website.

Disclosure: Products gifted by the brand

HHW.com

xx

Oils Beyond Cleansing

fullsizeoutput_4bc4By the virtue of oils, their versatility goes beyond just cleansing. Despite them being marketed and sold as oil cleansers, we need to pause and review the ingredient to assess their use and applicability. These extra special treats can also be used for a nice deep facial massage with second cleanse, mix a few drops with clay or mud masks to avoid skin from drying, mix a couple of drops in your moisturizer for an oomph factor. Also finish off the routine and seal the skin with an oil. For those odd days when we have a spot or two or three, heal it with kindness aka oil.

As for the cleansing oils we have lined up here, I’ve used them as treatments for skin. The price range is uber expensive to inexpensive. Catering to all price points, inci lists, geographic regional availabilities and of course skin types. I wanted to round up some ‘cleansing oils’ and share some accidental discoveries and ways I’ve been using them. The common theme across all these oils are they’re all non emulsifying blend of carrier and essential oils and sold as cleansing oils. However, depending on composition and formulation, I see them more as treatment oils, and super travel friendly (subject to packaging) as ‘one oil does it all‘.

First up in this category is the MV Organics 9 Oil Cleansing Tonic. With an addictive aroma, claimed to be an instant pick up for tired, dehydrated and sun damaged skins. Packed with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich plant and essential oils. I’ve used this oil in every way possible and cannot fault it. Been through two bottles myself and it lasts a while. Personally I like to massage it into the skin and leave it. Wiping it off with warm wash cloth, feels like I wiped off all the goodness off my face. This oil would be particularly good for inherently dry and surface dry skins to press it in the skin. The simplicity of the ingredient list really enforces the message of keeping it basic and fuss free while being effective.

Ingredient List: Camellia (Camellia Oleifera) Oil *, Avocado (Persea Gratissima) Oil *, Infused Centella (Centella Asiatica Extract) Oil, Vitamin E – non GM (Tocopherol), Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) Extract * With essential Oils of: Bitter Orange, Lavender, Geranium, Sandalwood, Rosewood and Carrot Seed (*Organically Grown)

Next up is Alyssum Alchemy’s Divine Oil which I consider to be the Rolls Royce of oil in this category. It is an extra special treat in terms of ingredients and formulation. The first ingredient is handcrafted solar infusion of Calendula which is incredibly calming to irritated skin. It also features a base of precious oils of hemp, camellia, jojoba, pumpkin, rosehip and argan and handcrafted herbal solar infusion of vanilla. This blend of oils are rich in lineolic acid (great for oily congestion prone skins) which help to balance the acid mantle of oily, congestion prone problem skins.

What’s more interesting in this bottle of goodness is the infusion with Australian Rose Quartz (from the Harts Ranges in the Northern Territory) on a Full Moon and blessed with Reiki. Also enhanced with carefully selected gem and flower and essences: red rose, Chicago peace rose, briar rose, crabapple, pink flannel flower, white rhododendron, crystal rose quartz, clear quartz, rhodochrosite, gold. 

Honestly, I don’t have a complete appreciation of the intangible energies bottled here but what I can appreciate here, is the oil on my skin and how it feels and performs. I prefer using this oil to finish off my routine and add to clay or mud masks. It properly nourishes the skin without the heavy icky feeling on skin.

Ingredient List: Calendula Officianalis (Calendula) infused Helianthus annus (Sunflower)*oil,  Camellia Sinesis (Camellia) seed oil*,  Argania Spinosa (Argan) oil*, Vanilla Planifolia (Vanilla) Bean* Infused in Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Oil*, Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) seed*, Cucurbita Pepo Styriaca (Pumpkin) seed*, Tocopherol (vitamin E)**, Essential oils of Lavendula Angustofolia (Lavender)*, Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang)*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium)*, Santalum Spicatum (Australian Sandalwood)*, Citrus Bergamia (Bergamot) Peel oil (Bergapten-Free), Citrus limonum (lemon)*, Gem and Flower essences.

Discovered the next gem through the Boxwalla box, H is for Love Rapha Harmonizing Cleanser. Naming it as a cleanser, I feel is undercutting its performance abilities. It claims the foundation infuses nutrient-rich oils with herbs complimented by antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and highly soothing essential oils. Rapha contains a CO2 extraction of German Chamomile which is known for its high levels of matricin. Highly anti-inflammatory, matricin is a powerful agent of healing. While I thoroughly enjoy using this is as my second cleanse or morning cleanse, I adore its performance in a basic clay mask. Killing spots with kindness is right up this oil’s alley. Also, the earthy scent is something to ravel in, it smells very different to Alyssum Alchemy’s Divine Dew or MV Organics. The scent is not pretty or delightful, it’s earthy and grounding. Ingredients like Calendula, German and Roman Chamomile, Turmeric and Frankincense….these are powerhouse calming and anti inflammatory agents.

Ingredient List: Olive Oil*, Hemp Seed Oil*, Pumpkin Seed Oil*, Castor Bean Oil*, Mixed Tocopherols (Non-GMO Vitamin E), Chamomile*, Calendula*, Essential Oils Of: Roman Chamomile*, Lemon*, German Chamomile CO2*, Frankincense*, Rosemary Antioxidant CO2*, Turmeric CO2*, Lavender* (*Certified organic).

With Aveda’s Tulasara Radiant Oleation Oil, I discovered dry brushing for face. Facial dry brushing helps to promote microcirculation, nourish and restore skin’s radiance. The brush itself is very gentle on skin and with appropriate pressure control, it can be even gentler. Typically I dry brush my skin in the morning, to get the blood circulation moving after a night’s rest and inactivity. The ritual of dry brushing and oleation oil is inspired from an ayurvedic technique called Garshana (with dry brush) and Abhyanga (with warm oil). This technique basically involves massaging the body with warm oil and they say the effects of Abhyanga are similar to the feeling of being saturated with love. Anyway I completely digress with all about Ayurveda….back to the oil.

The blend consists of apricot kernel, sunflower, jojoba, rosehip, sweet almond and ayurveda’s most widely used oil, the sesame oil. The oil itself is very light and allows for nice massage or use in a mask, I wouldn’t want to finish my routine with this oil. But surprisingly does a decent job at removing makeup too (not the heavy makeup and waterproof mascaras).

Ingredient List: Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil , Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride , Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil , Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil , Coco-Caprylate/Caprate , Cetearyl Isononanoate , Rosa Canina (Rose) Fruit Oil , Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil , Isostearyl Alcohol , Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil , Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil , Jasminum Grandiflorum (Jasmine) Flower Extract , Pelargonium Graveolens (Geranium) Flower Oil , Cholesterol , Tocopherol , Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract , Fragrance (Parfum) , Farnesol , Linalool , Benzyl Salicylate , Citronellol , Citral , Benzyl Benzoate , Geraniol

The Superfacialist Una Brennan Rose Miracle Makeover Facial Oil is such an excellent product, I just wish it was easily available outside UK. Can be used as pre cleanse, massage and masking session, or to finish off the routine and seal the skin. Easily absorbed, smells divine (as the name would suggest with Rose) and all round a happy and satisfying experience with this oil. On my second bottle now, and there is nothing I could fault with this oil, packaging or performance. Anddd at a decent price point. What more could you ask for?!

Ingredient List: Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Persea gratissima (Avocado) oil, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil, Caprylic/capric triglyceride, Rubus idaeus (Raspberry) seed oil, Cucumis sativus (Cucumber) seed oil, Pelargonium graveolens (Geranium) oil, Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin) oil, Eugenia caryophyllus (Clove) leaf oil, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) oil, Mentha arvensis (Peppermint) herb oil, Rosa damascena (Rose) flower oil, Acacia dealbata (Mimosa) oil, Viola odorata (Violet) leaf oil, Tocopheryl acetate, Calendula officinalis (Marigold) flower oil, Laminaria ochroleuca extract, Beta-carotene, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root extract, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) seed oil, Ascorbyl palmitate, Citral, Citronellol, Eugenol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool.

A relatively new oil by French Girl Organics Rose Oil formulated with sunflower, jojoba, olive, castor, argan oils. Smells utterly beautiful with notes of rose geranium and sweet orange. The beauty of this oil lies in its simplicity. I don’t stop at my face with oil, extends to my scalp and body too. With all the goodness of oils I like pressing it in my skin instead of moving and wiping it off.

Ingredient List: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil* Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil* Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil* Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil* Argania Spinosa (Argan) Oil* Rosa Mosqueta (Rosehip) Oil* Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Oil* Calophyllum Inophyllum (Tamanu) Oil* Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Oil, Essential Oils of Pelargonium Graveolens (Rose Geranium) Oil* Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Sweet Orange)*

And lastly we have Monastery Made Sage Oil, also relatively new to me but one that has moved up the ranks rather quickly. Herbaceous, crisp and sharp is one way to describe the scent but light in texture. Moves nicely, massages beautifully and works really well in masks for its addition of Blue Yarrow known for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Ingredient List: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Vitis Vinifera Seed (Grapeseed) Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil,  Salvia Officinalis (Sage Dalmatia) Oil, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Oil, Achillea Millefolium (Blue Yarrow) Oil, Juniperus Communis (Juniper Berry) Oil, Chamaecyparis Obtusa (Hinoki Japanese Cypress) Oil, Pinus Sylvestris (Forest Pine Scots) Oil, Lavendula Angustifolia (Lavender) Absolute

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Ultimately the point is we don’t need several oils, we need one well formulated, ethically sourced quality ingredients product. Sadly the marketing pushes us to get oils for different purposes, but no one is pausing to review the ingredient lists properly to understand it applicability to different uses and skin conditions.

HHW.com

xx

H is For Love – Bara Balm

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My path crossed with H is for Love Bara Balm through thoughtfully curated Boxwalla beauty subscription box. It was accompanied with Lip Glacé and One Love Organics Love Springs Eternal Serum. At this point, I was in a new territory, with an open mind and willing to try the new lush balm.

The brand claims that BARA Balm is our answer to skin in need. Sometimes skin needs a little extra to soothe and protect.  BARA is formulated to take moisturizing to another level. Each ingredient has been chosen to soften skin, absorbing quickly, leaving your face with an ultra sheer layer of protection against environmental assault. BARA feels light, and has a delightfully sweet and uplifting scent. 

fullsizeoutput_46bf.jpegIn the spirit of full disclosure of course of events, I must say the balm was initially formulated with Shea butter however I experienced the Shea Butter curdling (see pic). This didn’t imply that the product had gone bad/rancid or ineffective or would perform any differently. This is as a result of inherent nature of Shea butter. However it does impact overall user experience. I contacted Bee, the gorgeous soul and artisan of this brand and she advised the Shea has been replaced with Beeswax (no more curdling) and user experience elevated. Yes please!

Website was updated to include this verbiage: We have chosen to remove shea butter from the BARA formulation. Because of this, the texture of BARA stays consistent through temperature fluctuations, and even those prone to skin congestion can reap the benefits of this little pot of sunshine. BARA now has a smoother texture, and the tantalizing scent remains the same. 

Let’s get into the balm review starting with the ingredient listing:

Jojoba oil*, Macadamia nut oil*, Apricot kernel oil*, Pomegranate seed oil*, Tamanu oil*, Beeswax, Sea buckthorn oil*, Mixed tocopherols (Non-GMO Vitamin E), Marshmallow root*, Calendula*, Chamomile*, Lemon balm*, Essential oils of: Chinese rose, Vanilla ‘total’ CO2, Frankincense, Lavender*

*Our products are made in small batches and with ingredients of the highest quality. Because of this, slight fluctuations in color will occur from batch to batch even though ratios stay consistent.

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Source: H is for Love website

HHW.com

xx

Sunday Facial

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Facials Facials Facials, something I’ve tried in so many places from all over the world. Everyone has their own method, technique, products and most important is philosophy. So the question begged to be asked is what is my philosophy? Well its a holistic combination of atmosphere, state of mind, products and LOT of facial massage. I’m not particularly huge on gadget treatments but I do use a couple at home. Another crucial aspect for me is skillful, experienced hand at Extractions! Another reason why I have regular facials to maintain the health of my skin and ensure any underlying congestion is addressed. Generally I go for professional facials every 6-8 weeks however it can be a pricey affair so I do many interim maintenance facials at home. This post delves into how I indulge in at home facials.

Atmosphere: Typically I would also indulge in bath, so water in running in bath with capful of a bath oil (Aromatherapy Associates bath oils are amazing). The bathroom air fills with relaxing aroma of bath oil while I get started with a double cleanse. In addition, a gorgeous soy wax based candle is burning. Cleansing the skin with an oil or balm, taking it all over my face, neck, chest, behind ears and massage. Cup my palm over my nose and take deep breaths as I massage. This helps calms my raging mind, center my energies on the moment I’m about to indulge in.

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To remove the balm or oil, I have warm steaming wash cloth, air it for few second before I slap it on my face to ensure the temperature is not too hot for the skin. Cocoon my face in warm towel before I compress the towel on my face. The warm towel steam’s amalgamation with rich essential oil balm is truly transcending.

Next up, prep for exfoliation. Either physical, acid or enzyme, or combination. Choice is entirely yours! I have a separate post on all types of enzyme and physical exfoliators. Upon schmearing my enzyme exfoliator all over, I will steam my face. Steaming with enzyme exfoliator loosens surface dead skins and making it a whole lot easier to buff it away. Also preps skin for next step which is extractions. Not something I’d recommend to do at home – go to a professional if you don’t know what you’re doing. I typically only limit to extraction for blackheads, whiteheads and spots only if they’re ready to pop.

Skin can be stimulated at this point with steam, exfoliation and extraction – so Pause, Breathe. Mist some rose water. Dry your face and next up is a gadget High Frequency Facial Machine.

fullsizeoutput_435e.jpegHigh Frequency  helps treat and prevent stubborn acne, shrink enlarged pores, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decongest puffy eyes, fade dark eye circles, rejuvenate the condition of the scalp and nourish hair follicles for healthier hair growth.

Most professional high frequency machines used in spas, salons and medical offices operate at a frequency of 100,000-2500,000+ hertz (cycles per second). However the machine I have here is only 50-60 htz, which is enough for regular at home use. Also assuring to know with such low frequency it isn’t going to damage especially when it is in DIY spirit.

Basically two types of high frequency with orange (neon gas) used to treat aging, promoting hair growth, tightening pores and skin elasticity and on the other hand is violet gas (argon gas) which is anti bacterial and wonderful for treating acne.  The violet argon gas frequency is typically used in spa’s however for at home function I find the orange neon gas works just fine on spots, pores, elasticity, blood circulation and  promoting overall health of the skin.

Soon after high frequency, I follow with clay or mud mask to tighten the pores after the treatment and continue the spirit of detoxifying and purifying the skin. Leaving it on for no more than ten minutes and I do not let it dry completely. When its completely dry (to a point where you’d need a chisel) you’ve drawn out all moisture from skin too. Taking it off with warm towel, next up is my personal fave step. The step for which I desperately and achingly look forward to a facial.

fullsizeoutput_4395Massage with a light, high linoleic acid carrier oil. The mantra here is firm pressure, no feathery, flimsy, sissy massage, you need firm pressure upward and outward. Following the muscle structure in the face. When hands, palm and fingers are tired, I employ Jade Gua Sha. This is literally the bomb of blood circulation and lymph drainage.

Massage has endless benefits some of which include: promoting blood circulation, lymph drainage (stuff that has toxin build up and makes you look puffy and dull), supports vitality in your skin, pressure point massage particularly fantastic for sinus sufferer like myself, better absorption of products in skin and most important of all it is incredibly relaxing. A good facial massage can put you to sleep (of course when someone else is massaging). To remove oil from skin, followed by another warm cloth compress, followed my misting with rose water again.

Here on, I begin layering products on skin to wrap up the facial. First up is acid treatment, followed by toning mist. Next up is one more gadget for eyes, from Dr fullsizeoutput_4396Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite EyeCare Pro, a FDA approved device featuring 72 LEDs, with a full spectrum of therapeutic light. Again a tool made for home use to replicate the professional light therapy used in medical clinics. I was extremely dubious about this product however using it for 3mins for last 20 odd days, I’ve noticed a visible difference in skin around my eyes. It’s tighter, firmer and smoother. I don’t have deep set wrinkles, I have fewer lines under my eyes but nothing that is major aging (if you know what I mean). I’ve also noticed when applying eye makeup, my skin near eye is more resilient and not so thin. I will continue using and keep you posted if I see more improvement. So following the light therapy near eyes is a retinol based eye serum.

From here, I finish off routine with an active Serum, treatment cream or balm or oil and hydrate a LOT with water. My choice of products and ingredients can vary for each facial however it is really driven and dependent on what my skin needs.

Also I specifically wanted to call out one more point about which type product I like to use in each category. This topic could be a post in itself however this gives you an indication where I’d like to put my money.

Medical cosmeceutical product vs. Green/natural product

  • Green/Natural – Cleansers, Toners, Masks, Balms, Oils – Typically on the surface of skin, and not much ‘face time’
  • Cosmeceutical (blend of cosmetic and pharmaceutical) or Over the Counter  – Acid Treatment, Serum, Eye Cream, Active ingredients (retinol, aha’s, peptides, etc) – This is deeper penetrating in skin and one which will show more visible results

*Personally I dont use any pharmaceutical product (yet)

There are other types of facials I do as well, which include micro dermabrasion but that facial routine looks completely different. Im curious to know, how do you do your at home facials?

HHW.com

xx

Jordan Samuel Skincare

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My earliest memory of Jordan Samuel product is Water you Waiting for? A lush toner with Rose, Jasmine, Sage and Orange. Sadly a horrid turn of events he discontinued the toner. For the longest time I did not look at his newly launched skincare for the grudge I held,  with a hope he would bring it back. The pics below take me down memory lane when I regularly used his toner in my routine and also a part of my early IG journey. Sadly that hasn’t happened however the line he has includes a gorgeous gel to oil cleanser, hydrating serum and moisturizing 0il. All in all one perfect capsule collection.

Plié Cleanser is a unique gel to oil formula uses olive, jojoba, and grape seed oils to remove every trace of makeup (including hard to remove stage makeup), while sugarcane, apple and willow bark extracts provide a gentle exfoliation to leave the skin hydrated, soft and absolutely pristine.

I’ve used this cleanser both to remove makeup, second cleanse and morning cleanse. Each time it has performed splendidly. Dispensed as thick manageable gel, converts to oil once massaged on skin. The scent is citrusy, more grapefruit to my nose although I dont see grapefruit specifically. Ahhh the best part is emulsifying this cleanser, milky yumminess. Either rinse with water and pat dry or hot cloth this cleanser. Can also be used as a mask, leave it on for few minutes and carry on with your chores. This cleanser is a dupe for Botanics Hydration Burst Dual Action Cleanser with some similar ingredients. If you’d like to take up the ante, Algenist Genius Anti Aging Melting Cleanser is similar option but steeper in price. If you’re interested in a comparison post between these cleansers, leave a comment below.

Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Glycerin, Water, Sucrose Laurate, Propanediol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugarcane) Extract, Citrus Limon (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Rhizome/Root Extract, Anthemis Noblis (Chamomile) Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Citrus Fruit Extract Blend, Simmodsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylhyroxamic Acid, Capryl Glycol
Ingredient wise its a clean sheet, some lovely moisturizing ingredients to start with and followed by some yummy fruit extracts and essential oils. Moving onto next step in routine to Hydrate Serum. Water are you waiting for? toner would have been perfect insert here. Just saying.!
Hydrate Serum will bathe your thirsty cells in humectants and soothing botanicals to keep your skin working in the same way! Hyaluronic acid, stabilized Vitmain C, and hexapeptides combine with cucumber, tamarind, and passion flower extracts to give you healthy, dewy skin all day long.

Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice *Organic, Vegetable Glycerin *Organic, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Xanthan gum (thickener), Gluconolactone, Tamarindus Indica (Tamarind) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata (Passion flower) Extract, Acetyl Hexapeptide-51 Amide, Sodium Benzoate, Salix Nigra (Willow) Bark Extract *Organic

Exactly as it claims. I can wrap up this review in just those first four words, but perhaps I should elaborate tad more. Ingredient listing is simple, no faffing around with complex names or unnecessary ingredients. Only one we could talk about is Xantham Gum, very common ingredient and used here as a thickener to give it gel like consistency rather than runny liquidy serum. A clear gel consistency serum, dispensed through pipette, absorbs in skin immediately. I’ve used it various ways, here’s a snapshot:

  • Under makeup it piles on however, varies with different base products used
  • Mixed with an oil, its one stop shop.
  • Mixed with a cream, again one stop shop.
  • Layered with other serums and performs just as well – straight after acid tone.

If I had to nitpick I’d say, pump packaging please….to which I’m told is work in progress.

étOILe is an all-encompassing moisturizer, multivitamin and antioxidant facial oil. It contains a high concentration of cranberry seed oil, which is the only oil to contain a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as all 8 vitamin E groups. It also features skin balancing Argan and Marula, which pair with vitamin C ester and CoQ10 to make this an all-around star in your skincare ritual!
Ingredients: Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil *Organic, Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Argania spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil (Marula) Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil *Organic Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil (Rosehip) Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Seabuckthorn) Oil *Organic, Ubiquinone, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Squalane
Ingredient listing is simple, and free of essential oils. This oil is particularly fantastic choice for skins sensitive to essential oils. Blended with some nutrient rich carrier oils, and lipid soluble vitamin C (allows better penetration) this oil is uncomplicated in best way possible. It is crucial to shake the bottle before use, the vitamin C settles at the bottom.
I’ve used this oil several ways, mixed with cleanser for extra nourishment, addition to clay or mud mask so my skin doesn’t feel tight or dry post mask, mixed with creams to give it an edge, mixed with foundation to add some bloody glow, or the obvious way standalone use to thoroughly moisturize skin. The beauty of oils is it can be as versatile and flexible as you’d like them to be.
Overall, the products perform exactly as it claims, ingredient listing that don’t muck around, basic packaging (for serum and oil), doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket, and perfect for all skin types. The reliability factor for this skincare line is when I can’t be bothered, inebriated, sick and feel like a corpse. Personally I have a wandering soul with commitment issues, my heart desires unusual fancy skinventions, so I often try a lot of skincare from various parts of the world. When I experience a flare up from some other product and want my skin back, I go back to Jordan. Of course it is very versatile in its use and complements all other brands and products. Seamlessly blends in other products and still performs just as claimed. The whole range is effortless but doesn’t cut corners. The claims or results are not groundbreaking, they’re as basic and reliable as they get. Ultimately we all want clean skin, hydrated skin and nourished skin. This is exactly what these products do.
HHW.com
xx