vegetarian

Product review: Montagne Jeunesse Fruit Smoothie Deep Pore Cleansing Masque

So here is a little review that got buried and never published…I received this masque in my Influenster Holiday VoxBox and obviously never got around to sharing my thoughts on it. (Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes, but was not compensated in any way for my review. All opinions are my own.)

The product: Montagne Jeunesse Fruit Smoothie Deep Pore Cleansing Masque, $2; at drugstores

The claim: A rinse-off clay masque that is supposed to purge pores with natural ingredients including crushed raspberry and mango.

I tried it: I’m a big masque junkie; I love to kick back on my day off with a masque, a magazine, and cup of tea for some self-pampering. Plus, doing a weekly masque really keeps my skin in tip-top shape! I like Montagne Jeunesse and so was pretty excited to see this masque in my VoxBox.

The good: there’s actually enough product in this “single use” sachet for two or possibly even three masques. The fruity smell was very pleasant and the formula is quite thick, so it applied without any dripping. Once the masque was on I settled in at the computer with some tea and my blogroll to wait for it to dry.

And that’s where the first problem cropped up: as this masque begins to dry, it starts to flake. Horribly. Yawn or stretch your face, and you’ll have little dusty bits of face masque flaking off everywhere! I don’t want to just sit on the bathroom counter and wait for twenty minutes for my masque to set up, I want to move around the house, and that’s kind of difficult when you’re “shedding”, as it were.

The other problem is that I don’t think this masque performs as specified. Once I rinsed it off, I noticed that it really had pulled all of the gunk to the surface: whiteheads, blackheads, oil, galore. The trouble is, it doesn’t remove any of these things, so don’t use this masque thinking you’ll rinse it off and head out the door, because that ain’t happening. You have to follow it up with some sort of blemish-targeting cleanser to remove the now-visible white- and black-heads.

Here’s how I used the masque the second time around, and how I personally recommend it:

  1. Start with a clean face. Use a gentle cleanser or just rinse very well with warm water.
  2. Apply pore cleansing masque and allow to dry for twenty minutes. Rinse clean.
  3. Now give your face a good scrub-down using a lathering facial scrub designed to target acne and blemishes (I like the Alba Botanica Natural Acne Dote Face & Body Scrub, $10). Allow the scrub to sit on your face for a minute so the ingredients really penetrate your pores. Rinse well and pat dry with a towel.
  4. Finish with a peel-off masque to pull out any remaining gunk from your pores. I like the Queen Helene Grape See Peel-off Masque, $4. When you’re done, rinse again with cool water to remove any last traces of the peel-off masque.
  5. Apply your regular moisturizing facial cream.

That might sound like a lot of work, and it is; but if you have a good forty or so minutes to commit to all of the washing and multiple masques, this is a powerful way to deep-clean your pores at home rather than head to a salon for the job. When I was done my face was glowing; all of the gunk was gone and my pores looked smaller and tighter. It really felt like I’d had a spa facial.

One last note: Montagne Jeunesse masques are vegetarian-friendly and Leaping Bunny-certified.

My final thoughts: As part of a multi-step routine, this masque will definitely drag all of your impurities to the surface…but it’s not a quick cleansing masque, as the package would seem to imply, and the flaking bugs me. It’s not the worst masque I’ve ever tried, it’s just not the best, and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re making a spa day of it and want to really do an intensive cleaning on your face. Otherwise, you’re just going to be left with a lot of visible gunk on your face.

Product review: Giovanni Refreshing Facial Cleansing Towelettes

Are these the best makeup removing wipes ever? I think I’ve mentioned these from time to time but have never really gotten around to doing a proper review of them, so…here you go!

The product: Giovanni Refreshing Facial Cleansing Towelettes; $6.99 for 30-count package; at drugstores or giovannicosmetics.net.

The claim: Alcohol-free & oil-free; citrus extracts aid in refining skin’s texture; cucumber extract soothes and hydrates; antioxidants help combat skin-damaging free radicals; ultra-soft to comfortably remove makeup & mascara.

I tried them: As you can see from the clearance sticker on the package, this was one of those lovely surprise finds that came out of a quick browse through Target’s clearance beauty goodies. I grabbed these because I was unhappy with my liquid makeup remover (all I’m saying is, oil-free my foot).

These cloths are very strong–they remind me of those paper towel advertisements where the towel is being scrubbed and stretched to demonstrate how tough it is–yet they’re quite soft. They’re also nice and large; one towelette is more than sufficient for even the most made-up face. They’re neither sopping wet nor too dry and not scratchy in the least, and they don’t tear very easily. I actually thought I might tear one in half since I was just wiping off a swipe of lipstick and didn’t need the whole wipe, but they’re tougher than they appear!

I really love the scent. I’ve tried three different varieties of the Giovanni face wipes now and this is my favorite; the citrus is refreshing and the cucumber is relaxing. It’s a very fresh scent and not artificial at all.

Now obviously all of these little elements really add up to make or break a product, but the most essential question is this: do these wipes really remove makeup as promised? They do. They pull off every last trace of foundation, waterproof eye makeup and long-wearing lip color, and they do it without tugging, scratching, or drying out my skin. Of great importance to me is the face that they don’t irritate my eyes; I have a lot of trouble with products making my eyes itch and water, and this one doesn’t bother them in the least. These wipes also don’t leave behind an oily residue; I can swatch a lipstick, wipe it off, swatch another, wipe again, and keep on going without any slick buildup on my lips.

Which brings me to my next point: I was a little dubious of the phrase “facial on the go”. I’m very picky about my skincare and I don’t like the feeling of any residue left on my face, and in my experience, makeup removers almost always leave residue behind that needs to be washed away. If they don’t leave residue, it’s almost always because they sucked all the moisture out of your face!

However, these towelettes really do leave my skin feeling fresh, clean, and hydrated. I don’t feel the need to rinse my face or apply a moisturizer after using them. I do feel like they make my skin look better with regular use, much as an antioxidant-packed cleanser might do. Whether you’re traveling, tossing them in a gym bag, or just too tired to properly wash your face at night (guilty), these wipes are really a big miracle in a tiny package.

And now for the cherry on top: they’re vegan; free of phthalates, artificial fragrances, dyes, sulfates and parabens; and they’re Leaping Bunny-certified. (Big dance of happiness!)

My verdict: A must-have. Target keeps changing up their beauty counter and right now it doesn’t look like they’re carrying these wipes, but they’re available through the Giovanni website and Drugstore.com, and I do believe my local health food store stocks them as well. Wherever you find them, I highly recommend grabbing a package, because they’re winning my nomination for the best makeup removing wipes available.

If you don’t like fragranced products, try the unscented version (available here)–they come in second place only on account of my love for citrus-scented products. :)

My Influenster Holiday VoxBox arrived!

I feel like I’ve been waiting for FOREVER for my Influenster Holiday VoxBox to arrive! It’s packed full of goodies, which I’ll be reviewing in detail over the next week or so. But for now, let’s take a look at the goods!

Disclaimer: I received this product complimentary of Influenster for testing purposes. I was not reimbursed for this review however and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Here’s the full box. I’m going to get a proper unboxing video uploaded on my YouTube channel soon, once my lazy self digs out the mic for a voiceover, but for now let’s look at what I got in brief.

First, you’ll notice a card for Sole Society. I hadn’t heard of this site before Influenster, so this is sort of interesting. Through the end of January, you can get $25 off your first purchase through the site with the code “INFLUENSTER25”. (http://www.SoleSociety.com) I am of course a massive shoe addict, so I’ll probably find an excuse to use this code.

Next, there’s a package of Kiss Nail Dress stickers (retail value $6.99). I’ve never tried these before, but I love the design they sent! I’m super-excited about this product and will probably try these out next weekend when the hubby and I have date night.

The Goody QuikStyle brush (retail value $11.99) is going to be interesting. I got a “half-round” brush that’s supposed to give better blowouts and cut drying time thanks to the microfiber bristles, which absorb water from the hair. I hate the time it takes to dry my hair, so this will definitely be reviewed within the week.

The Quaker Real Medleys+ oatmeal ($1.79 per cup) is the wild card item. I know lots of people are not “oatmeal people” but I love it and I always need breakfast items to go. My one gripe with this product: it has a lot of sugar in each cup (22 grams) and I feel like it’s a bit pricey for regular eating. Still, it’s tasty (I already tried it!).

Then there’s the EBoost packet ($28/20 packets or $39/30 packets). I tried one of these in the orange flavor in my last VoxBox; this one is a Pink Lemonade packet. I’m not a fan of these fizzy packets per se but they DO give you an energy boost (essential for nutty multitaskers like me) and they’re not so bad mixed into a smoothie.

The NYC New York Color Liquid Lipshine ($2.49) is the only item that disappoints me. Parent company Coty tests on animals and since I can’t get any definitive information on NYC’s testing policies, I have to assume that they test as well.This is a nice neutral shade (“Nude York City”) but I’ll be passing it on.

Finally, I qualified for a bonus item this time around (yay, me!). Montagne Jeunesse makes awesome face masques, and this Fruit Smoothie deep pore cleansing masque ($2) looks perfectly suited to my skin type. Oh, and did I mention that MJ is vegetarian and Leaping Bunny-certified?

A look at the Zoya Lovely spring 2013 collection

Fellow nail polish junkies of the world, I do not normally get excited about pastel polish. But I just might possibly make an exception for Zoya’s upcoming spring 2013 collection. Take a closer look:

And here’s possibly my favorite of all the new colors: Neely, a gorgeous minty green. As I said already, I’m not usually a fan of pastels, but this year I’d really love to find a minty green for my fingers, and this looks perfect. And because I know you want to see the rest of the colors in detail (you do, don’t you?), they are also Pinned down below. You’re welcome.

Source: zoya.com via Martha on Pinterest

From the sneak previews, Zoya and Butter London are both releasing similar pastel collections for spring. However, I kind of prefer Zoya, since they’re a) cheaper and b) I like the formula a little better. What do you think, lovelies? Any must-haves from the new collection?

Product review: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo

I don’t think I’ve posted a full-length product review in some time, have I? Well, today I have a full product review on one of my Holy Grail beauty products: a shampoo that’s not only vegan but can be found at almost any mass retailer in the country (gasp!).

The product: Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Treat Invigorating Shampoo ($8-$9 for 8.5 fl oz)

The claim: Invigorating formula is designed to clarify and alleviate flaking scalp. Sulfate-free formula is safe for color-treated hair. Suitable for all hair types.

I tried it: I should first tell you that this review almost didn’t happen. Why? I didn’t buy this for myself–I bought it for my husband! I was trying to find cruelty-free substitutes for his favorite products, and this was the least girly-looking shampoo bottle in the natural beauty section at Target. I figured that if he didn’t like it, I’d use it eventually, since it is a vegan formula.

Flash forward a few days, and he’s raving about how much he likes it. When he recommended I try it, I thought, Why not? I can review it for the blog later. As it turns out, not only did I try it and like it, I LOVED it. I love it so much, I’m going to condense my love down into list form for your convenience.

I love that this shampoo…

  • Is vegan!
  • Smells like candy canes! Even my husband called it “a breath mint for your head”. I love minty-smelling stuff and this one is delightful.
  • Leaves my hair super-shiny and bouncy, but not dry! It’s a delicate balance between clean and over-clean, and I find that shampoos that get your hair and scalp squeaky clean and shiny can also make it feel dry.
  • Cleans so well while remaining sulfate free! I’ve tried sulfate free shampoos in the past that worked okay, but didn’t clean well enough to let me skip a wash on the second day. Again, this shampoo nicely walks the fine line between clean and over-scrubbed.
  • Is affordable! On top of the low price, you can often find sales and/or coupons for this brand at stores like Target and ULTA.
  • Is color-safe! Some shampoos dull your color (whether natural or processed), so it’s great to find one that is color-safe while still so effective.
  • Relieves flaking! If you’re switching over from an animal-tested formula like Head and Shoulders, give this a try. I can’t promise it will be a perfect match for your old dandruff shampoo, but it’s worth a shot; the tea tree oil does a lovely job of clarifying your hair and scalp while remaining all-natural!
  • Is so easy to find! Vegan shampoo that can be purchased at Walmart?! Yes, it’s possible!

My verdict: Buy it in bulk! I actually have trouble staying stocked up on this item, since both the hubby and I use it. This is hands-down my favorite shampoo ever and the scent alone makes me happy every time I wash my hair. I definitely feel like my hair is healthier since switching from a regular chemical-laden formula to this one and I’ll continue to stock up on it every chance I get!

Indie organic brand to try: Sunny Girl Organics

Love organic skin care? Love indie brands? Then you should check out Sunny Girl Organics! Reader Sheena Mariee gave me the heads-up about this little skincare brand, based out of New York and selling a variety of organic and vegetarian goods like body wash, lotion, and lip balm.

Sunny Girl has a great deal available that lets you try three product samples for the very low price of $2.95, with no additional fee for shipping! You get to choose your own samples, so I decided to try a body wash, lotion, and scrub.

My order arrived pretty quickly. I’m not sure why, but a fourth item was included in my order: a lemongrass spray mist, made of essential lemongrass oil. I don’t know if this was a special bonus or what. I’m guessing this is a mini of the lemongrass spray mist that’s sold as a natural insect repellant; it’s made of distilled water and lemongrass oil, and the 8-oz. bottle retails for $9.99.  This product is vegan!
You can see that my Lemongrass Body Wash sample is in fact not a sample, but a deluxe or travel size sample–two ounces!! This is also lemongrass scented; a 16-oz. bottle sells for $13.99.

As you can see from the ingredients label on the back, the body wash is all-natural and vegan! If you don’t know what lemongrass smells like, be warned: it’s not for the faint of heart. I can smell it without opening the bottle. Some people compare it to citronella, which I suppose is true, but I think this is more pleasant than a mosquito candle. It is however very strong, so I would definitely suggest sampling it before going full-size, especially if you don’t typically like strong scents.

Finally I sampled their Lemon Lavender Hand & Body Scrub ($10.99/six ounces) and their Lavender Body Lotion ($9.99/eight ounces). Both of these arrived in tiny pots and are strong-smelling as well, though in the best, most natural way possible. Both are vegan.

In fact, as far as I can tell, all of the products offered by Sunny Girl are vegetarian, and all of them are vegan except for their lip balms (containing beeswax) and their Anti-Wrinkle Creme (containing honey). The icing on the cake: all of these products are affordable! Finding a company that’s vegetarian/vegan, organic, and affordable can be difficult, so I’m pretty happy to add Sunny Girl to my shopping list!

If you want to try Sunny Girl for yourself, click here to go to their e-commerce site or click here to order your own sample kit!

Have you heard about Lemongrass Spa products?

Lemongrass Spa is all natural and cruelty-free!I’m not usually much into fancy-looking products, but I just had to share about this company. I’m not being compensated for this post, I just really fell in love with their products!

Lemongrass Spa is a Colorado-based company that makes natural, spa-quality bath and beauty products. Like other specialty beauty companies such as Avon, they sell their products through independent consultants, online, and through catalogs.

What makes Lemongrass Spa different? For starters, their products are free of sodium laureth sulfate, lead, parabens, alcohol, petroleum-based ingredients and phthalates. All their fragrances are phthalate-free, the colorants are from natural sources, and the essential oils are organically grown. Backing up that commitment to natural goodness, Lemongrass Spa is a signer of the Compact for Safe Cosmetics (http://www.safecosmetics.org).

The packaging for these products places an emphasis on sustainability with eco-friendly and/or recyclable materials. And, last but certainly not least, their products are cruelty-free.

If you have heard about Lemongrass, it was probably the same way I did: by going to a “spa party”, where a consultant gives you the pampering treatment with hand and foot soaks, scrubs, balms, and more, while showing the line of Lemongrass products.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been to parties before, and I’ve been snagged by sales guys and gals at the mall who want to show off their “exclusive” products. But this line actually impressed me.

The products are not only completely chemical-free and cruelty-free, they’re products you’d actually want to use. Yummy offerings like Candy Cane, Grapefruit Lily, and Pomegranate are just a few of the scents featured in these fab products.

Yummy scented bath products from Lemongrass Spa!

Considering that they’re all-natural, the products are comparable price-wise to anything you could find on store shelves, at the department store makeup counter, or in another mail-order beauty catalog. (Total selling point for this budget chick!)

So, bottom line: I’m psyched to discover a new company that sells natural, cruelty-free bath and body products. I think I’ll definitely be bookmarking their website for future perusal.

P.S. If you do get invited to a Lemongrass Spa party, by all means, go. Even if you end up deciding not to buy anything, you’ll get a great hour or two of fun and pampering with your friends, without the price tag of a day at the spa! And if you can’t attend, check out their online catalog and hook up with a consultant so you can try their products out for yourself!