• bath products,  Beauty,  Christmas,  cruelty-free,  eye makeup,  face care,  gifts,  green,  holidays,  Julep,  lip color,  nail polish,  Zoya

    Christmas 2018 cruelty-free beauty gift guide

    I promised a cruelty-free beauty gift guide, and here it is…my favorite beauty gift sets for Christmas 2018! I’ve sorted this gift guide into four categories: stocking stuffers, save ($10+), spend ($20+), and splurge ($30-$50). There’s a good mix of skin care, color cosmetics, and more. And most importantly: everything is easy to order online from Ulta or Sephora (the two major beauty retailers here in the U.S.), with the exception of the Essence and Julep boxes in the “splurge” section, which can be ordered through those brands’ websites. In other words, you won’t need to jump through multiple checkouts or even change out of your pajamas to order enough gifts to cover everyone on your list.

    Scroll through to see all my picks, and click on any of the pictures to view them full screen. Elbow-deep in Christmas shopping? You might also want to check out my bookish gift guide, gifts for guys under $50, cozy gifts for almost anyone, and last-minute gifts you can shop online or at the drugstore!

  • Beauty,  face care,  product review

    February 2016 Birchbox: the best yet

    See what I got in my February 2016 Birchbox!

    I kind of forgot my February 2016 Birchbox was coming last month. We had a lot going on, in between school, work, spring cleaning, and home remodeling (that unexpectedly took about two weeks to complete—not the promised four days). It was a busy month and so it was a real treat to find this cute little box in the mail one rainy day!

    I’ve been decently pleased with Birchbox so far, but this box was easily the best yet. The theme this month was “What’s the occasion?” and these products are definitely perfect for getting you ultra-glam for a date night or just because you want to feel pampered. Read on for pics of what I got and my thoughts on the products!

  • face care,  product review,  vegetarian

    Product review: Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes

    (Disclosure: I received a sample of this product for honest review as a member of the Influenster community.)

    How did my face feel after the Neutrogena #WipeForWater experiment?

    Neutrogena Naturals and The Nature Conservancy launched a large campaign this spring to encourage consumers to reduce water usage in the U.S. The numbers on water waste are pretty shocking: the EPA estimates that the average American household uses 400+ gallons of water daily and wastes over 10,000 gallons of water per year. Obviously there are lots of things you can do to reduce your wastefulness–shorter showers, ensuring your pipes don’t leak, etc.–but for the #WipeForWater challenge Neutrogena asked consumers to replace their regular cleansers with cleansing towelettes, saving an average of five gallons of water per day.

    That’s a lot of water, especially added up over the course of multiple days. However, I’ve always been a little leery of replacing a cleanser with a makeup wipe–I feel like they just don’t clean as effectively–so when I received these wipes in the mail with an invitation to go waterless for three days, I was hesitant. Neutrogena claims these wipes leave skin looking “purified, fresh and healthy-looking”, but would they really work on my temperamental skin?

  • face care,  product review,  skin care,  vegan

    Product review: Instanatural Pure Argan Oil and Pure Rosehip Seed Oil

    (Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.)

     

    The product: Instanatural Pure Argan Oil, $49.95/four ounces (currently on sale for $21.95; available here), and Instanatural Pure Rosehip Seed Oil, $49.95/four ounces (currently on sale for $21.99; available here). Visit the company website here.

    The claim: Touted as multi-use oils perfect for hair, skin, and nails. Softens and moisturizes.

    Ingredients: Exactly what it says on the bottle; no added fillers, preservatives, fragrances, etc. Certified organic and suitable for vegans. Because these are preservative-free, they’re best stored in the fridge.

    I tried it: The oils come in four ounce dark glass bottles with droppers attached inside the screw-on caps. I really love this packaging since it’s practical and sturdy. The dropper lets you dispense the product a few drops at a time, which is perfect, since a little goes a long way. It’s a myth that you can only use oils on very dry skin; as long as you’re only using a few drops, these oils work well even on combo skin like mine and won’t turn you greasy or make you break out.

    The argan oil has a light amber color and a very faint nutty scent. This works great for moisturizing the cuticles or for softening dry, rough patches of skin. It’s a slightly “dry” oil, so it doesn’t leave the skin feeling super-slick. I also like using it on the ends of my hair, before applying a leave-in conditioner, to help tame any split ends or roughness. If you want a good makeup remover that won’t stink, sting or dry out the skin, try a few drops of this on a cotton pad before washing the face as usual. (Be careful around the eyes–anything stings once it’s in the eyes, natural or not.)

    The rosehip seed oil has a darker amber color and a very strong, earthy scent; it makes me think of freshly brewed tea. I personally like this type of scent (I call them “hippie” scents), but if you prefer unfragranced products, it probably isn’t for you, just because it’s so strong. Note that it isn’t an artificially added fragrance, nor do I think it smells bad–it’s just something to keep in mind if you don’t like products with a distinct fragrance.

    The rosehip seed oil is also slightly dry and works great on the face. It can also be used on hands, nails, feet, and body. This type of oil is supposed to help with scars, sunburns and sun damage, thanks to high levels of vitamins A and C, though I haven’t been using it long enough to say for sure if that’s the case. I do know that it’s an excellent day or night moisturizer, layers well under makeup, and leaves my face very soft and glowy without any shininess or grease. I felt like my face looked more refreshed after using this as an overnight moisturizer, like I’d gotten more sleep than I really had.

    My final review: 10/10. These are a great value and are excellent multi-taskers to boot. I’m particularly fond of the rosehip seed oil, though if you dislike strong scents, the argan might be more up your alley. Either way, they do a great job of replacing a host of other less natural products, so they’re a great choice if you’re looking to “green” your beauty routine and don’t want to drop a lot of money on tons of different skin and hair care products.

    (I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)
  • face care,  green,  product review,  skin care,  vegan

    Product review: PureSol Konjac Sponge

    (Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial. )
    This konjac sponge is my new HG beauty buy!

    The product: PureSol Konjac Facial Sponge with added Bamboo Charcoal; retails for $24.95 at Amazon.com (buy it here). Currently on sale for $10. Check out the company’s Facebook page here.

    The claim: Cleanses, exfoliates and brightens skin. Because it’s so gentle, it’s perfect for even very sensitive or irritated skin. Can be used solo or with your favorite cleanser.

    Ingredients: Made of vegetable fiber and lacking any processed ingredients or additives (fragrances, colorants, etc.), this is a 100% green and vegan product. When you’re done with it, it can be composted or even simply tossed in a flower pot rather than going in the garbage.

    This konjac sponge is my new HG beauty buy!

     

    I tried it: Every once in a while I come across a new product that truly earns the “holy grail” status in my beauty stash. I didn’t know what was so special about this sponge until I ordered it; within a week it shot to HG status and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

    The picture above shows the sponge when dry; after about ten minutes soaking in a bowl of water, it expands by about 50% and becomes super-soft. There’s a little string so you can hang it up to dry in between uses (a suction cup hook is included in the package). The sponge can be easily sterilized every couple of weeks by popping it in the microwave or in some boiling water. When you’re done with the sponge (the company says each one lasts about two to three months), throw it in the compost pile or even in a flower pot–no waste left over for the trash!  I also love that it’s 100% chemical-free and has no scent.

    This sponge exfoliates in the most oh-so-gentle way imaginable, making it excellent for anyone with hypersensitive skin or a condition like rosacea that can be irritated by exfoliating facial scrubs. You almost can’t tell that it’s exfoliating–it’s that gentle–but you can definitely see and feel the difference once you’re done. It’s much gentler than using a washcloth. I love using this with a basic foaming cleanser in the mornings–it’s a great way to get that “glow” without irritating my skin with a scrub (and you shouldn’t be using those scrubs every day anyway, as we all know!).

    I’ve been using this every day for about a week or so now and my skin is positively glowing. The irritated red patches around my nose and jaw where over-exfoliation was irking my skin have disappeared. My pores look smaller, most noticeably in my T-zone, where it’s always been a battle between blackheads and over-exfoliation. My skin feels super-soft, too.

    Adding this unassuming little sponge to my daily skin care routine has done more for my skin than any other product I’ve tried since Christine got me hooked on the Seventh Generation Boost serums last winter. I can now safely say this is one of those rare skin care products I’m not willing to live without!

    My final review: 10/10. This is truly the best new facial product I’ve tried in a long time, and I would recommend it to anyone. Will definitely be repurchasing when I’m done with this one!

    (Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)