I'm (almost) Back!

Hello, Dear Ones!  Please forgive me for the long radio-silence from Green Reverie.  For the past several months I have been consumed with the details of my family’s move.  Not just a move, a relocation, from New York City where I lived for almost twenty years, to a small town Upstate, population: 610.  My life has become infused with the lush green of the Hudson Valley in summer, with the dappled sunlight through the trees, with space.  I’ve also become a driver, and am suffering driver’s guilt daily, and my pedometer app has clocked the fewest steps by far of any month yet, even Januaries.  

Additionally, I left my job of sixteen years and am now simply Mom.  Full Time Mom, Stay at Home Mom, both phrases rub me the wrong way, but that’s the understood shorthand for the role I’m playing in this new season of my life.  I feel so grateful to be able to be physically present to help ease my daughter through this huge transition.  It’s a choice not everyone is free to make, and we are making huge sacrifices so that it is possible.  But wow, talk about a radical re-definition of the self.  

So to say my life has changed, to say I’ve been processing a lot, to say my attention has been away from this blog, well, yes.  But the tide is turning…

Today I’m off on the early bus to attend the Indie Beauty Expo! This was a fantastic event last year, where I was introduced to many brands and brand owners.  I’m psyched to be connecting with some of my Green Beauty Ladies, and to get play with all those great products!  More on this event will be coming soon.

More on many things will be coming soon!  School will be starting up in a couple of weeks, and I have my sights set on re-invigorating this space.  I swear I’ll finish the half-written articles, jotted down on my phone while my daughter was briefly absorbed in a project.  I will bring my Green Beauty Librarian series to fullness, answering the many questions you have asked me.  I will start sharing some of the ways I use DIY beauty products, and I will open up the discussion a bit to share more about the sustainability efforts I make in my life, beyond the realm of beauty.  

Thank you for your patience with my long absence, and for reading this slightly self-indulgent post.  I was up at 5:30 this morning, and felt strongly I owed you beautiful readers an explanation.  I’ll be back soon!

With gratitude, 

Abigael

New Series! The Green Beauty Librarian

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” 

Neil Gaiman

Many of you know that I am a Reference Music Librarian.  The heart of my work is to carefully parse questions, then help lead the library patron to the most helpful resources and materials.  Sometimes I am intimately familiar with the items they are seeking, sometimes I have just a casual knowledge.  Sometimes I have no idea about what they are asking for, but it's still my job to connect them with answers, whether it be piece of music, a recording, or a three sentence newspaper article from 1948 about their Great Aunt, the harp player.  

As this blog grows, I have been fielding more and more questions about specific recommendations for products.  I am always thrilled to answer them, and honored to be asked!  I'd like to share my answers with all of you, donning the mantle of the Green Beauty Librarian.  As with my Library work, sometimes I will recommend products I know and love.  Sometimes I will suggest products that come from highly reputable brands I trust, or that have kick ass ingredients, or that have been highly praised by others in the Green Beauty space.  I'll try to suggest a variety of price points whenever possible.  Let's kick things off, shall we?

Danielle, one of my dearest friends, texted me from an airplane(!) the other day:  “What eyeshadow should I be using?  I’m experiencing a lot of unpleasant side effects from the conventional stuff I’m currently using.”

I recommended she check out three brands: Kjaer WeisLily Lolo, and Modern Minerals

Neutral, elegant and refined.

Neutral, elegant and refined.

Now, the Kjaer Weis shadows are incredibly amazing.  They go on like a dream, are richly, deeply pigmented, and absolutely nail the colors.  When you buy their taupe, it’s the final word in taupe-ness.  They come in two packaging options: the refillable metal case, which is substantial and gorgeous-something your grandmother would have carried, or the refill alone.  I choose the refills, and put them in a Z-Pallete, creating my own collection over time.  And I do mean over time, because as you may surmise, these are not inexpensive.  I would say, in fact they are very expensive.  The refillable case will run you $45 per color, and the refills are $27.  For Danielle, who wants only two or three colors total, she might want to splurge.  If you’re looking for many colors, it’s a collection to build.  But for real?  These are my favorite eyeshadows of all time.  Toxic or not.

Buildable, blendable and perfect for everyday.

Buildable, blendable and perfect for everyday.

Fear not, I’m not going to recommend spending $45 on a single shadow and head back to my mansion!  Another fabulous option is from Lily LoloThese palettes are sleek, slim and packed with great colors.  And at $34 for 8 colors, it’s a much more affordable option.  I have the Laid Bare collection, which is full of warm nudes.  The colors go on smoothly and complement each other beautifully.  The color pay load is not as strong as the Kjaer Weis, but for many of you, you will actually prefer this, I think.  You can go with a quiet wash of color, or build layers for a more intense look.  For Danielle, I think the Smoke and Mirrors collection will be the best.  It’s a cooler, more varied collection with endless options.

Dazzling and playful.

Dazzling and playful.

Modern Minerals creates loose mineral eyeshadows in a gorgeous array of colors.  Seriously the colors are spectacular.  They are each $12.50.  I've written before about loose powder shadows, and the learning curve involved, but these are an excellent option if you want to go that route.  

The main ingredient to avoid with eyeshadow is talc.  There's a lot to say about talc and it's been in the news recently because of a high profile lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson.  Bottom line: Talc is a problem because of a high risk of contamination by ASBESTOS.  Yep, that asbestos.  So just stop with talc.  I hope it goes without saying that all three brands I've profiled here are exceptionally clean and sustainable, no asbestos in sight.  They are vegan (with the exception of a few KW colors) and do not test on animals.    And they are great choices if you are transitioning to Green Beauty.   

So, my lovelies, what are your pressing questions about Green Beauty?  Are you transitioning your routine?  Are you stuck looking for that one elusive product (cough deodorant cough)? Are you unsure of an ingredient in one of your favorite?  Let me know!  I love to answer questions, and I promise not to shoosh you!

 

Round Up: Mother's Day Flowers!

It's spring!  Although it's been a cold one here in the Northeast, the flowers haven't seemed to notice.  A recent trip to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden left me overwhelmed by the generosity of flowers, by how lucky we are to live among such grandeur. 

For me, Mother's Day is also abounding with reasons to be grateful.  I have a fantastic relationship with my mother, which I know is nothing to take for granted.  And the abiding love I have for my own daughter is the anchor of my life.  

So sharing flowers with mothers just seems like the perfect match.  Hey, it's a classic for a reason!  Green beauty brands have harnessed the power of so many beautiful flowers.  Take a look!

Cactus Flower: La Flora by La Bella Figura,.  This beautiful, rare Barbary Fig Cactus Flower Oil is paired with Barbary Fig Cactus Seed Oil for a blend that helps with sun damage, hyper-pigmentation, and fine lines.

Jasmine: The intoxicating jasmine scent of May Lindstrom's Jasmine Garden adds moisture and extravagant beauty to any face ritual.  Heavenly!

Rose: This decadent Petal Mask from Mahalo combines rose with 28 active ingredients for a plumping, glow-inducing treatment that has to be smelled to be believed!

Peony: Enlighten Spring Beauty Oil from 5YINA harnesses peony root and 24 other herbal components to help balance, protect, and soothe skin as it transitions from winter into summer.  And oh my, that gorgeous packaging!!

Lilac: Bottega Organica combines French Lilac, Neroli, and other active naturals for the Overnight Renewal Cream that promises to rejuvenate, stimulate skin renewal and protect.  Science and nature in accord.

And that gorgeous bouquet is from Farm Girl Flowers, a company committed to US grown flowers, minimal waste, and a what-you-see-is-what-you-get ordering process!  So beautiful!

See anything for your Mom on this list?  I do!  (And also, Honey, if you're reading this...wink wink, nudge, nudge.)

Report: The WELL Summit Is the Real Deal!

Last Fall I had the immense pleasure of attending the inaugural W.E.L.L. Summit, which took place in Boston.  The three day conference explored the multi-faceted world of wellness:  Beauty, Nutrition, Self-love, Sustainable Fashion, Fitness, etc.  It was a potent gathering of like-minded souls, all looking for ways to improve their lives, but more importantly looking to help others and to help the Earth.  It was dizzying, exhilarating, exhausting, and I never wanted it to end.

The Breakout Sessions were the foundation of the weekend, led by industry and thought leaders such as Josh Rosebrook, Brandie Gilliam of Thoughtfully Magazine, Kristen Arnett of Green Beauty Team, Ksenia Avdulova, the Breakfast Criminal, Tara Foley of Follain, and author Jolene Hart, to name just a handful.  Capped at 30 people, the sessions were intimate and without exception informative and transformative. The topics ran the gamut from meditation, to branding guidance, to creating DIY kitchen cleaner, to exploring sacred beauty, to building an ethical and sustainable wardrobe.  Moments of intense engagement and discussion, followed by moments of deep repose and calm.  For me, one of the things that made it so special was that the session leaders were also enthusiastic attendees, so we were able to mingle in other sessions, and eat lunch together.  No hero worship here, but real connection, which was to the benefit of all.

The organizers, led by the wonderful team at Organic Bath Co, did a superb job keeping the whole thing running smoothly, no small task let me tell you!  We were well fed, showered with gifts, and plied with more tea than I ever thought possible!  Onsite yoga classes were held each morning.  An amazing farm to table dinner wowed us on Saturday, with Keynote Speaker Latham Thomas of Mama Glow.  Oh, and did I mention the thoughtfully selected and plentiful gift bags? 

Over the weekend a genuine fellow-feeling developed among the attendees. We had gone from tentative strangers to genuine supporters.  “Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe” became more than a motto.  It was a palpable feeling, and I know I was not the only one dragging my heels to leave the Sunday brunch.

The bottom line is this:  I will be at every Well Summit as long as they continue to take place.  It re-energized me, and asked me to re-commit to my principles, the primary one being the desire to share what I know with others.  We’re in this together, as humans, as shepherds of this Earth.  Together we can work wonders!

Since I began writing this review, tickets for next year have gone on sale, and I’m thrilled to be attending this year’s summit, to be held in NYC!  Seriously, I signed up within an hour of tickets going on sale!  And early bird prices are still in effect, y'all!  Also added this year is a VIP ticket which gives you even more access to thought leaders, and an extended WELL Summit!  If you work in the wellness world, maybe as a blogger, or brand owner, maybe a health coach or a yoga instructor, the W.E.L.L. Summit is a no brainer!  Maybe you don’t work in the field but live your life in a way that aligns with the spirit of the Summit, and you want to be re-energized by spending time with likeminded people.  For you the W.E.L.L. Summit is also a no-brainer!  Let me know if you’re going, I would love to connect with you!

Curious About Sun Potion? Me, Too!

If you’re like me you’ve seen these magical looking gold-labelled bottles, and been wildly curious about what mysteries they hold.  I’ve even been taking a few, but was still filled with questions: What’s a Tonic Herb?  Are they safe?  Which ones are right for me?

I had the opportunity recently to meet the owners of Sun Potion, Scott and Nitsa, at CAP Beauty in the West Village.  The small space was packed with people eager to understand more about how Sun Potion can support their bodies and minds.  Scott and Nitsa were incredibly knowledgeable, and super approachable.  They are “Californians” seemingly from central casting, but I mean that in the most complementary and delightful way possible, blood, bright, and full of wonder.  As someone who is currently in the process of shedding the yoke of New York City, it does my heart good to see people running a thriving business who also express a bit of overwhelm when faced with the relentlessness of pursuing life and business in New York.  But now I’m veering into a whole other post.  Let’s get back to the products, shall we?  What is a Tonic Herb, anyway, and are they safe for anyone to just take?

[Please bear with me here.  Traditional Chinese Medicine and other forms of herbalism are something people study their entire lives.  I claim absolutely no expertise here, whatsoever.  I simply want to report about the information I was given, because a lot of people have asked me about these products.]

According to Scott, Tonic Herbs are herbs without adverse side effects than can be safely taken over the course of a lifetime.  Tonic Herbs should not be confused with Medicinal Herbs which should be taken only with supervision, and are curative, to be taken over short periods of time.  Tonic Herbs have a more amorphous effect.  They help the body handle a wide range of situations.  They can be balancing, revitalizing, or soothing. Some are adaptogenic, which is a word floating around a lot these days.  It basically means the substance helps us adapt to stress.  Scott spoke about increasing our circuitry, allowing us to become more powerfully ourselves over time.  They make you feel better, more alive.  Sounds good to me!  Humans have had centuries of loving relationships with these plants, and they have been robustly studied by science. 

But there are so many to choose from!  Which one is right for you?  Because the potions help you be in your body and gain intuition about your body, the more you use them, the better you get at choosing what’s right, how great is that?!  How are you feeling right now?  Are you crazy over-stressed?  Are you tired all the time?  Do you need digestive support?   Is your romantic life with your partner a little, uh, lacking?  Just jump in!  Try an herb whose described effects resonates with you, wherever you find yourself in this moment.  I loved a sentence that Scott said “You are the sovereign ruler of your body.  You get to decide!” So give yourself permission to experiment.  And remember, tonic herbs are safe!

Ok, but how do they taste?  To me they are delicious, with a soupçon of “it’s an acquired taste.”  As Scott spoke, Nitsa was hard at work making us three potions.  They were really recipes, with several herbs, a base of chaga tea or gymnestemma tea, some with coconut butter and a little raw honey.  All were delicious!  The goal of Sun Potion is that people relate to these plants as ingredients, not just as something you pop as a pill.  So they spoke of including the herbs in cooking soups, adding to tea or nut milk, adding to smoothies.  Check out #apotionaday on Instagram for loads of ideas from Sun Potion and their customers.  For me, the ritual of preparing these potions is akin to the delight I get mixing masks and applying face oils.  Blend the pleasure of nurturing my body with the mysterious thrill of plant magic, and I am a goner. 

Here’s how I use my (growing) Sun Potion collection: 

Anandamide is where I started, and I’m addicted.  Raw cacao blended with tonic herbs and spices?  Yes please!   I love to mix it with almond butter, a little honey and have it on sprouted grain toast.  It is beyond good!  Sugar and I have an on again/off again relationship, but even when we are ON, this still tastes as delicious as Nutella to me.  Honestly.  I also love mixing Anandamide with cashew milk and a dash of maple syrup.  Give it a shake so it’s frothy, and there you go, a tonic herb milk shake!  It always gives me a boost of energy and good feeling.

I have been using Astragalus and He Shou Wu in tea every morning for three months or so.  The effects have been subtle, but I have noticed my nails have been growing more quickly, and I’ve been much less susceptible to winter colds.  The one I did catch was significantly shorter in duration than I would typically expect.  Encouraging results, to be sure. 

I purchased the Reishi at the CAP, and took it for the first time this morning in my tea.  It’s got me like, woah!!  I’ve felt happy and strong all morning.  Throughout school drop off (a nerve jangler supreme) I felt great.  I was crazy excited to get home and do yoga, and now have been extremely focussed in writing this essay.  I cannot wait to see what else develops with Reishi.  And it tastes sooo gooood!  [Ed. note:  I wrote this essay two weeks ago, and am very pleased to say that I’ve continued to have the same grounding and strengthening effects whenever I take Reishi, which obviously is every day without fail!]

I’ve been trying Ashitaba, but to be honest it hasn’t really been speaking to me.  I’m going to set it aside and see if it resonates during a different season of life. 

I’ve started Triphala at night as a digestive tonic, and definitely find it helps, er, move things a long.  But gently.  I’ve taken Triphala before as a pill and am noticing a huge difference with the powder.  It is so much more effective!  The taste is really strong, but not unpleasant, and I find myself looking forward to my nightcap  (Hmmm, how my definition of nightcap has changed over the past decade!)

I am excited to try Rhodiola next, known for supporting mental clarity, energy, and creativity. Have you tried Sun Potion yet?  Have I helped your understanding a bit?  Check out the Sun Potion website to see the array of potions available.  I also found these accessible guides to common tonic herbs very helpful. 

Round Up: Valentine's Day for Green Beauties

1. One Love Organics Cleansing Sponge in rose clay $10: So much cooler than chocolate!

2. Naja Mila Culotte Sparrow Knickers $22: Wear them for yourself or for someone else, either way, they're so rad.

3. Little Box of Rocks in Moonstone (Romance) $35: Raise those passionate vibes!  You can even include a secret (naughty?) note!

4. Modern Minerals Lip Gloss in Goddess $24: Modern Minerals x Lotus Wei x Rebecca Casciano?  How much more perfect could one lip gloss be?

5. Lotus Wei Flower Remedies in Infinite Love $30-$125: Unconditional love attracter and self-love magnifier extraordinaire.

6. Sustain Condoms from $14: Be safe out there, kids!  A responsible and sustainable condom company?  Smoking' hot!

7. Sunpotion Anandamide $26: Raw Cacao and tonic herbs.  Heart opener and mood booster!  Drink hot or cold, or my favorite, mixed with almond butter on toast!

8. Shiva Rose Venus Amber Body Oil $60: Lush and elegant oil, infused with rose quartz crystals, THE crystal of love.

Review: Mahalo Rare Indigo Beauty Balm

Ah, Rare Indigo Beauty Balm, you lovely thing, you.  Where do I begin?  Very well, I’ll just come out and admit it.  I was not remotely in the market for a face balm (though who am I kidding? I’m always in the market…) but I was pretty much forced to buy this by the one-two punch of Mahalo (an special brand I was very curious about) and some of my favorite Green Beauty Bloggers (The Green Product Junkie, Plein Vanity, and The Hermes Hippie) joining forces to offer for a limited time, a full-sized, unreleased face mask, free with the purchase of the newly released Rare Indigo Beauty Balm.  It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.  And I’m so glad I didn’t.

While there’s nothing wrong with products that get the job done, there is something so much more special about products that impart a sense of ritual and experience in addition to the benefits for the skin.  Rare Indigo is one of the special ones.  The experience begins with the unusual and tactile bamboo packaging, featuring an etched image of the Hawaiian Islands.  Oooh, it whispers, what’s inside?  

And then the smell.  How do I describe the smell?  Floral, for sure, a lush tropical floral with warm vanilla.  But there are camphorous notes that mix the whole thing up, and make it one of the most singular and complicated scents I’ve encountered in a face product. I find myself opening the jar during the day just for a sniff!  

Hand in hand with the smell is the color. A slightly transparent, light indigo.  It’s impossible not to smile at the playfulness of this color.  Belying that playfulness is the serious ingredient list.  The blue is derived mainly from the indigo, a wonderful healing herb, often used in treatment of psoriasis and eczema.  It also contains a potent mix of calming agents (rose, chamomile) healing agents (yarrow, helichrysum, lavender) in a bed of exotic, hydrating carrier oils (hemp, murmuru, babassu, marula, grape seed, and tsubaki tea seed) several of which are brand new to me.  They combine to create a (once again) highly unique texture.  It is solid in the jar, then melts with the warmth of your fingertips.  It is not at all greasy, however, the way you might have experienced with other emollient balms. The best word I can come up with is plush.  Pillowy.  A tiny pea-sized amount is applied to wet skin in a pressing action, allowing the balm to fully integrate with your skin.  Sing a verse of your favorite song, recite your favorite mantra while you give your skin some love! 

A ritual is wonderful, but only if you also get results.  What’s impressed me most is how long it keeps my skin feeling moisturized.  Between whipping cold winds, and dry heating systems, Northeastern winters are experts at stealing every drop of moisture from my skin. I tend toward dry anyway, and often feel parched by mid-day in the winter months.  But with Rare Indigo my skin feels soft and plump all day.  It’s 7pm as I write this, and I’m only just now beginning to notice signs of dryness. I’m also noticing it to be a good base for makeup.  Some balms have makeup falling off my skin almost immediately, but Rare Indigo has a slight stickiness to it, keeping makeup on and on and on.

And of course, it gives you what everyone is looking for: GLOW!  Real, serious glow. With school in session, I have to be out of the house, with a four year old fully dressed, lunch packed, teeth brushed, etc by 7:30, and the are many, many mornings when spending time to put on makeup is completely out of the question.  But Rare Indigo makes my skin look so fresh and awake that I have no problem heading out completely bare-faced.  

Are you in the market for a balm?  Does this sound enticing?  What about you readers who don’t have to deal with winters?  Have you tried Rare Indigo in warm weather?  How do you like it?  Presumably it’s pretty great, since it was created in Hawaii!  Let me know!  

Rare Indigo retails for $110 from Mahalo. A full list of ingredients:

cannabis sativa (hemp)*, astrocaryum murumuru*, orbignya oleifera (babassu)*, sclerocarya birrea (marula), vitis vinifera (grape seed)*, camellia japonica (tsubaki tea seed)*, aleurites moloccans (kukui)*, euterpe oleracea (acai)*, proprietary infusion of organic herbs*, polygonum tinctorium (indigo), rosa damascena (rose otto)*, matricaria chamomilla*, achillea millefolium (yarrow)*, helichrysum italicum*, citrus aurantium var. bergamia (bergamot fcf)*, lavandula angustifolia (lavender)*, boswellia carteri (frankincense)*, abelmoschus moschatus (ambrette hibiscus), cananga odorata (ylang ylang)* ,ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10), daucus carota (carrot seed)*, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (vitamin C ester), non-gmo mixed tocopherols, vanilla planifolia, iris pallida

*Clean ingredients: organic + local and/or wild harvested (when available)

**Bergamot fcf* is free from bergapten – it has no photosensitizing effects

In Our House: Children's Skincare

  Snuggly Dinosaur, Elephantie, Bunny, and Mr. Fox love Babo, too!

 

Snuggly Dinosaur, Elephantie, Bunny, and Mr. Fox love Babo, too!

Holy crap is there anything softer than baby skin?   So smooth, chubby and delicious!  I’m not sure my husband and I ever explicitly discussed how we would care for my daughter’s skin, but it seemed to go without saying that we would use a moisturizer after every bath.  Little one’s skin looses moisture, too, and the ritual of protecting her skin is super sweet. A massage therapist for a Daddy is a pretty great thing for a baby, and has led to many adorable lovefests.  Of course, that was when she was a baby who would (theoretically) stay put.  Now that she’s four, it is more of a slap and dash affair, rubbing her down as she darts around the room!  Over the years there have been some stand-out products

Our long standing go-to cream is the Calming Baby Lotion from Babo Botanicals. The coconut oil/cocoa butter/shea butter combination is deeply moisturizing, and the lavender is beautifully calming (if there's anything that can calm a four year old who knows lights-out is imminent.)   The  scent is deep and complex.  We’ve used it so much it’s become her “signature scent”! 

Lately we’ve been using coconut oil more regularly, despite my aversion to the smell.  I've put my dislike aside, because Bean thinks the texture is hilarious, and adores putting it on herself.  It’s a slippery, shiny, wiggly process, but it satisfies the four year old crazies, while keeping her skin calm and soft, and keeps the winter itchiness at bay.

Jojoba is another great option.  It’s not as slick and messy as coconut oil, so a little less funny, but it works wonders.

Now, Bean doesn’t really need a fancy face oil, like, at all.  However she has gone crazy for the smell of my Skin Owl Mangosteen Oil, so we often put on the “candy oil”.  Once again, she loves putting it on her own face.  

One of the greatest joys of having completely converted to green beauty is that with a couple of exceptions, I feel totally comfortable letting Isla use any of my products.  They’re safe for me AND safe for her.  How great is that?  I mean, can you imagine letting your kid use a conventional face cream?  No way!  So if you wouldn’t put it on your kid, why would you put it on yourself?  

 

 

Sunday Self Love: A Green Beauty Gift Guide

Sunday. A day to rest, to wrap yourself in a robe, take a little better care of yourself.  Maybe it has to wait till the kids are in bed, but still...

1. Handmade Linen Robe by House of Baltic Linen $111

2. Soy Wax Candle by Meow Meow Tweet $28

3. Linden-Rose Organic Herbal Tea by Lov Organic $15

4. Subscription to Thoughtfully Magazine $32

5. Herbal Detoxifying Steam by Apoterra $22

6. Facial Balm: Restore Nightly by Laurel Whole Plant Organics $88

7. Whole Lotta Roses probiotic mask by R.L. Linden $56

8. Hot Tub Bath by Pursoma $36

Round Up: Green Beauty Black Friday/ Cyber Monday Sales!

Whew, this is a crazy weekend for shopping!  I've rounded up some of the great Green Beauty sales that are being offered.  I've also highlighted a new, special movement that's afoot, and it's hoping to redefine the way we shop this weekend.  All of the businesses I've listed are small independent, and totally worthy of your patronage.  Shop Small and Conscious!  Check back, as I will be adding anything new that comes my way.

UPDATES:

Aurora Beauty: 20% off entire order with code GB20 thru Monday

Lotus Wei: 25% off entire order, 50% off Transformative Perfumes!with code GIVINGMORE25 thru Monday

Graydon Clinical Luxury: A free bottle of the new aloe pomegranate hand lotion with orders over $50 with code BlackFridayCyberMonday.  Thru Monday.

Organic Bath Co.: 25% off the entire site with code THANKFUL15 thru Tuesday.

Meow Meow Tweet: 20% off entire site with code: ROBOCAT Monday only.

Beauty Heroes: 10% a 3,6, or 12 month gift subscription, plus a free month for you, the gift giver with code CELEBRATE. Thru Monday.

Osmia Organics: 20% off entire site plus free US shipping with code OOHOLIDAY2015. Monday only.

Skin Owl: 20% off entire site Monday only

Kjaer Weis: 15% off entire site with code GIVETHANKS Monday only.

Honey Girl Organics: 20% off entire site with code THANKS Monday only

Beauteabar: For their 2 year anniversary, receive a $10 gift card with a $50 purchase, $25/$100 or $50/$200.  Monday only

 

Friday Only:

Eco Diva Beauty: 30-40% off selected items for registered shoppers, no code needed.

Pharmaca: 30% off everything with code FRIDAY

Moon Valley Organics: Buy two get one free, no code needed.

The Detox Market: $10 off $100, $30 off $200 or $100 off $400

Friday - Monday:

Laurel Whole Plant Organics: 20% off the entire line, plus you are entered to win a Winter Radiance Collection! use code: THANKFUL20

The Choosy Chick: 15% off sitewide, no code needed.

S.W. Basics: Sitewide sale, no code needed.

Integrity Botanicals: 15% off orders over $100 with code THANKS15

Be Clean Shop: 20% off entire order

Monday:

Moon Valley Organics: 30% off everything, no code needed.

Follain: 10% off with code FOLLAINCYBERMONDAY10

Good Karma Sale 

Kim Krans of The Wild Unknown has created this amazing movement, asking us to change the language around Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and to harness our shopping to help others.  When you shop at these businesses, most of which are small and independent, they will donate 10% of their GROSS sales for the weekend to the charity of their choosing.  

RL Linden: 20% off entire purchase with code begood3 Fri-Sun

Aster and Bay: 20% off entire purchase Fri-Mon

Sage and Sea Apothecary: 20% off entire purchase with code “goodkarma2015”

Mullein and Sparrow: 25% off entire purchase with code “karmasale" Friday only

On the list, but with details unconfirmed:

Marble and Milkweed

Wild Honey Apothecary and Cosmic Box

Oxalis Apothecary

Definitely check out the entire list of participating companies.  It includes some larger Conscious brands like Mara Hoffman, Catbird, Eskayel, Pamela Love and many more.  You can also explore on Instagram using the tags #goodkarmasale and #goodkarmaisthenewblackfriday.

Green Beauty Gift Guide for Travel!

1. Handmade Makeup bag by Sugarboo Designs $22

2. Jasmine Travel Candle by Species by the Thousands $16

3. Hair + Body Jet Setter Kit by Rahua $38

4. Skincare Travel Set by Mun $42

5. Travel Therapy Botanical Mood Booster by La Bella Figura $50 (Great as a perfume, too!)

6. Superfood Mask + Scrub by Graydon $39  (Encapsulated mask!  Seriously, how genius is that?!)

 

 

Review: Skin Owl Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM

Back in the old days, before the internet and all it’s companion changes, my sister and I used to fantasize about being able to see each other when we talked on the phone.  We thought it was the most futuristic idea imaginable. Well now of course, we FaceTime each other several times a week, and we’ve turned our tech fantasies toward something new: Smell-O-Vision.  We long to share scents over the phone.  Dinners, perfumes, baby skin.

And never do I wish for Smell-O-Vision more than when trying to describe to you the utter magic that is Skin Owl’s Mangosteen Beauty Drops PM.  Created with two powerful, rare oils, Baobab (I’ve loved it here as well) and Mangosteen, the scent is heady, complex, tropical, floral, fruity and utterly captivating.  I just can’t stop sniffing it.  My husband thinks it smells like Skittles, and we use it on my daughter calling it “candy oil.”  Shy, it is not, and the scent lingers until I have fallen asleep. And when I awake?  That’s when the real magic has happened.  My skin is bright, well-rested looking (a total fake out) and more even-toned. 

The secret is a phytonutrient called xanthone found in mangosteens, a rare fruit native to Southeast Asia (Vietnam in particular for Skin Owl).  Xanthones are powerfully oxygenating, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory.  As a result, this powerhouse serum addresses a plethora of skin problems from lackluster skin, to dryness, to blemishes.  A true multi-tasker.  Often products that work so powerfully can feel a bit too much on my skin.  But Skin Owl is efficacious without being overly aggressive.  I use it when I need a gentle oil AND when I need great skin the next day.  That, my friends, is as close to perfect as oil gets.  

I appreciate that this oil is moderately priced.  At $85 for a bottle, it’s not inexpensive, but it is a full 2oz, twice the size of most oils on the market.  

Are you sold?  Grab a bottle here or here, and get ready for easier mornings!  Let me know how in love you are!

  How gorgeous is this fruit?!

 

How gorgeous is this fruit?!


Sacred Beauty Salon Series: A Green Beauty Workshop with Rebecca Casciano

image courtesy of rebecca casciano

image courtesy of rebecca casciano

Foundation can be tricky, right?  I mean after (ahem) 42 years on the planet, scores of magazine articles and countless trips to the makeup counter, I am reasonably capable of finding the right shade and applying it.  But man, when it comes to foundation, you’ve really got to try before you buy!  Being committed to Green Beauty makes this a bit difficult.  Even in the NYC area I would need to visit several stores to find my brands of interest.  And last spring, with a 3.5 year old at home, I just didn’t have that kind of time.  And to be honest, since the arrival of said munchkin, foundation had pretty much fallen by the wayside.  So when I came across Rebecca Casciano’s Sacred Beauty Salon Series, I jumped at the chance to try several formulations in one go, and to find a “Makeup Artist approved” shade.  That’s what I wanted, but what I received ended up being immeasurably more.

Rebecca is a highly respected Green Beauty expert who’s work is featured in Thoughtfully Magazine, Well + Good, and as the Artist in Residence at Savor Spa.  She is also a Wellness Coach, and one of the loveliest people I’ve been given the chance to meet, and the afternoons I spent in her Salon still reverberate, 6 months later. 

Through her grace, knowledge and resounding kindness, Rebecca created a space for us to gather and examine our relationship to beauty in thought provoking and powerful ways.  I have to say I was shocked that a room full of strangers could open up with each other so quickly and easily. But this is Rebecca’s gift.  She created exercises and asked questions that both exposed our deep beliefs and held us safe.  We examined the foundations of our own experience and notions of beauty, how they support us and how they hold us back. There was a warmth and glow cocooning us that was real, that was honest, and that was deeply feminine.   To this day, I can focus back on the sensation of those hours, and feel the fission of real connection.

After communing for the first half of the session, Rebecca broke out the makeup, and we all joyfully dove in!  This grown-up girl play couldn't have been more fun, and I found the best foundation I’ve ever used!  (More on that here.)  

In our closing moments, Rebecca gave us each a piece of Rose Quartz, the crystal of unconditional love.  Holding that stone,  I can feel the powerful vibrations of love in that room as we parted.

The second session, Seeing Beauty, was equally wonderful, exploring the ways we see ourselves, and those around us.  And then we learned how to draw the perfect cat eye!  I mean, it's too good!

I was unable to attend the other sessions, Speaking Beauty and Living Beauty, but I will 100% do so in a future series!

I’m thrilled that Rebecca offering the series again, and cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone seeking to learn more about themselves, more about that inner light we call beauty, and more about green beauty products in the process.  Find more information about registering here.

[Editor’s note:  Sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions.  I meant to post this review ages ago, and now the next Salon Series has already started.  But there’s still time to attend the remaining three sessions!]

Review: W3LL PEOPLE Helps You Make the Green Beauty Switch!

My totally amazing, and totally camera UN-ready collection. 

My totally amazing, and totally camera UN-ready collection. 

Are you making/considering making the switch to Green Beauty, but don’t really know where to start with your makeup?  Well, look no further than W3ll People!  They are 100% natural, using organics whenever available.  Founded by a world class makeup artist, a dermatologist, and a sustainable commerce expert, they create products that are modern, safe, and that WORK. This brand has got it going on, and here are some of my favorites:

Expressionist Mascara  This is such a huge concern for those of us making the switch.  Non-toxic mascaras are not historically known to live up to their toxic counterparts in the performance department.  But W3ll People mascara shatters that perception.  Honestly, it’s as good as any conventional mascara I ever used.   It’s black black black and doesn’t budge.  Plus -and this is not a small thing- the oils and waxes in the formula are actually GOOD for your lashes.  Two years into wearing clean mascara, and my lashes are stronger and longer than they’ve ever been.  

Narcissist Foundation  Amazing.  I had never used a foundation stick because they seemed so dry, but this is full of beautiful skin-perfecting oils, and it glides right on.  Spill-proof, travels with ease, takes no time to apply.  The coverage is light, your skin but better, and can be built to more substantial coverage.  I just draw it all over my face, blend, and go.  Many people could also use this as a concealer, although I need something with a bit more coverage.  My one complaint is that it seems rather limited in the darker end of the spectrum, but perhaps they will develop more colors over time. 

Universalist Multi-Stick Matte 8 (dusty rose) is maybe my favorite product of all.  I was not in the market for a blush, but snapped this up the minute I tried it.  Creamy, blends beautifully, and the color!  It’s the perfect peachy-pinky super flattering color of my dreams.  A bit like Nars Orgasm, but without the shimmer and the parabens. 

Bio-Brightener Invisible Powder I am not a huge powder wearer, but I received a sample of this, and I love it for setting concealer.  It really is invisible, and feels like nothing, but takes away any unwanted shine.

Elitist Eyeshadow 88 (sparkling plum) I’m not gonna lie.  Loose mineral powders are ubiquitous in the Green Beauty world, and for me it’s been a bit of a learning curve.  I’ve finally got the hang of picking up the right amount of powder on my brush and this color is so rad.  It’s purple, so super it’s flattering to just about any complexion/eye color.   It’s got a depth to it not apparent in product images.  There’s a lot of gray, and it creates a beautiful daytime semi-smoky look. 

Nudist Colorbalm  This is my latest W3ll People purchase, and it rocks!  Like the name says, it’s a highly colored balm, but not nearly as pigmented as a lipstick.  I tend to focus on my eye makeup, and this is a fantastic balance: shine and color, but not too much.  It’s great for everyone’s favorite no-makeup makeup look!  I love the peachy color #1, but really pick your favorite, they’re all gorgeous.  I’d been thinking about this one for awhile, and my only regret is not buying it sooner.  

And here’s the great thing…W3ll People is now available at Target!  Now listen, I have some issues with Target, and I’m also really committed to supporting the smaller companies who sell Green Beauty.  But in terms of accessibility for those of you who do not have purveyors nearby, this is amazing news!  You can also purchase W3ll People at some of my favorite Green Beauty stores: Integrity Botanicals and EcoDiva.

This product line is so complete, so excellent across the board, you really can’t go wrong. What are your favorite W3ll People products?  What do you want to try first?

Review: Moon Valley Organics

We began this week with the wild energy of the Harvest-Blood-Super-Eclipse Moon, and I thought appropriate to end the week with another beautiful moon: Moon Valley Organics.

Earlier this summer, faced with a few rare moments of alone time, I found myself, as all good Green Beauties do, browsing through the beauty selection at a health food store.   I happily stumbled on the Moon Melt Lotion Bar, by Moon Valley Organics.  Oh. My. God.  The folksy sophistication of the package blew me away.  And the evocative quality of the phrase Moon Valley…I needed to know more. So I dashed home and placed an order for several more products, and am so in love!  

Let’s start with the packaging, because wow!  The unusual colors and images really speak to me, but what thrills me most is the commitment to sustainability.  The boxes are custom sized, made from 100% post-consumer content and use no plastic whatsoever, not even a sticker to close the box, instead relying on a far more beautiful tab.  The tube and tins are made entirely from post-consumer material, and are fully recyclable, including the caps.  When I see this level of attention paid to the packaging, I’m always hopeful that the products will be equally thoughtful.  And boy does MVO deliver!  They call their farm a “farmacy” where they grow all of their own medicinal herbs.  They are 100% USDA Certified Organic, and are formulated by highly credentialed herbalists.  In short, the real deal. 

Their self-proclaimed principles are: 

  • "Use only sustainable, organic ingredients
  • Use packaging that does the least harm recycled, renewable, recyclable
  • Select botanical varieties that hold the highest medicinal quality
  • Use traditional formulas
  • Made from nature"

On to the products, no?  My favorite product is the Rejuvenating Rub.  I’ve used it to help rehabilitate my broken finger, I’ve used it on my daughter’s endless string of summertime bruised abrasions. I’ve used it as a massage balm. I’ve used it on my sore yoga-weary muscles.  And it relieves them all!  Containing arnica, calendula, comfrey and lavender and mint, it’s a full-body minor-pain reliever par excellence.  

The Peppermint Foot Rub also does it’s job beautifully.  We’re accustomed to conventional foot creams making your feet tingly.  That’s a nice enough sensation, but one that definitely makes me question the ingredients causing the tingling!  With the Moon Valley Rub I felt an immediate lightness of foot.  The heaviness of the long day was just gone.  Kind of amazing, and definitely addicting!

I ordered the Mint and Sea Mineral Cleansing Body Bar on a whim (well, I was probably seduced by the color.)  I have dry skin, and for years have avoided soap.  It just leaves me so dry.  Something about the description sounded moisturizing, plus I love the inclusion of spirulina and kelp, so I took the plunge.  And I’m so glad I did!  I find the bar invigorating yet soothing to my skin. A total win, but potentially hazardous to my wallet, since now a whole new product category may be back on the table!

Finally the Moon Melt Lotion Bar in Bergamot Geranium.  I can’t stop drooling over the tin that houses it!  It’s recyclable, but I plan to use it for treasures when the bar is gone!  The lotion itself is imprinted with the beautiful moon logo.  I mean…I’m already melting!  I had hoped to use the bar as an all-over deep moisturizer, but found that it was a bit too tacky for my whole body.  Instead I’ve been using it to wonderful effect on the perennially tough areas like cuticles, elbows, knees and heels.  And the smell is divine, deep and present.  It lingers.

So basically, I showed up for the packaging, and am staying for the efficacy of each and every product, and the family-minded, sustainability ethos of the brand.  This wonderful company deserves your support, or maybe even your devotion!

[Spoiler alert: Scroll down to see the beautiful interior of the packaging.  Or don't, and be surprised!]

How Lotus Wei Enabled this Blog

This past autumn was a tough one. My daughter was three and I was utterly lost.  Motherhood had radically shifted my path, but in ways I could not understand.  For months I had pushed the status quo to the limit, but could not see through the fog to find my new path.  So much seemed to be at stake. Our daughter!  How could my husband and I create the best world for her if we could not create the best world for ourselves? Stuck and afraid: not a good place to be. 

Knowing my love of products, (and probably having done some browser-history-research) my husband surprised me with the Serum Sampler from Lotus Wei in my Christmas stocking. Thank goodness he did!  

After poring over the cheerful looking parcel, and devouring the informative website, I sat for awhile with my options. Did I need Inspired Action? Yes. Did I need Inner Peace? Did I need Joy Juice?  Yes, yes, and yes. As I examined them and myself, I saw that what I needed most, for anything else to be possible, was Inner Peace.  So I began faithfully applying the serum to my pulse points five times a day.  

The effects were nothing short of astonishing.  Within a week I began to feel a long-carried weight lifting.  I was able to find clarity on concerns that had deeply troubled me.  It felt like discovering myself.  One evening I applied a little Joy Juice, just to see.  As I sat quietly watching my family, I felt a wild jolt of joy.  I gasped out with happiness, so overflowing with joy!  Extraordinary.

Several months into my Lotus Wei experience, I was clear enough to conceive of this blog and open enough to be able to pursue it.  I’m still using Inner Peace, and have added Inspired Action to help me work with focus and passion.  I use Quiet Mind to support deep sleep (I’ve never slept better- well, at least since having a baby!)  As a Librarian, I spray myself with Infinite Love when heading to the reference desk, to help me offer love and service to the motley crew of New York City’s library users.  

I’ve tried all three delivery systems: Serum, Mist and Elixir, and I find each is suitable for different situations.  My favorite is the serum.  The combination of aromatherapy with flower therapy simply wins the day.  It takes a little longer to apply, but forces me, five times a day, to think about Inner Peace, or Joy, or Love.  The mists are a quick jolt, a lingering reminder.  The elixirs are first of all, delicious.  And they provide a long lasting effect.  My daughter loves the Joy Elixir, and is always angling to get some more.  But if I could only choose one, it would be the serums.

I come to see my flower essences as vitamins, the foundation of my more peaceful existence.  I’ve gladly paid similar prices for supplements without any discernible benefit, so this is a no brainer.  

We easily accept the power of music to transform our moods, bring us focus, calm us down. Flower remedies also work on our subtle bodies, transforming us in remarkable ways, lifting us, soothing us, inspiring us.  Think of bringing home a bouquet of perfect spring peonies; what a mood changer that can be!  Flower essences are like that but more, with the super power of flowers distilled and increased.  The Lotus Wei website provides wonderful information about the hows and whys.  I highly suggest spending some time reading founder Katie Hess’s insights.  The home page has a fun tool in which you pick your three favorite flowers from those pictured.  You receive an email telling you about how those flowers reflect your current state of mind. Cool!  

Put aside any skepticism, and dive in.  You won’t regret it!

Review: La Balmba Rosa

Stop.  Put down your favorite lip balm, because I have found the absolute, the end of the line, the be all and end all lip balm from R.L. Linden: La Balmba Rosa!  Smooth, creamy, soothing, long lasting, a slight shine...perfection.  To be honest, as I scan the ingredient list, I'm not sure exactly how the magic is created, but magic has most certainly been alchemized!  And it doesn't hurt that the owners, who I was lucky enough to meet at A Night for Green Beauty, are two of the coolest women I have met in ages.  I adore this idiosyncratic, kick-ass brand, so stay tuned for more raves (Cacao Honey cleanser, anyone?)  Now, I need to go buy ten more tubes so I never more than an arm's length away from one!

Available in a tube or a larger pot, you choose.

Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Candelilla Wax, Cold Pressed Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Castor Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil (infused with wildcrafted Alkanet Root), Cold Pressed Avocado Oil and a Proprietary Blend of Essential Oils (including Bulgarian Rose) 

Summer Grime, Anyone?

I've found the nicest remedy for the grossness that is August in New York, in the form of the SubLime Organic Coconut Lime Scrub* and the RefershMint Organic Body Oil*, both from the Organic Bath Co.  At the end of the day, I scrubscrubscrub with the soothing, moisturizing dirt-removing scrub.  Then just out of the shower I apply the body oil on wet skin.  The peppermint is so cooling and the smell so fresh.  I feel born anew!

I know body oils can get a little pricey.  Most of us are not used to spending that much on body care.  Why not try finding a nice unscented moisturizing cream, and adding a few drops of peppermint?  I really like this one from Acure.  Or a simple bottle of jojoba oil.

 

*These products were given to me as a registration gift from The Well Summit, coming to Boston in November.  I'll be there!  Anyone else?

The Nail Service Industry: Can It Be Fixed and Can I Get a Guilt-Free Manicure?

Have you seen this series of articles in the New York Times?  I find them simultaneously shocking, heartbreaking, and not at all surprising. The conditions described are appalling, untenable, and yet haven’t we heard this story before?  We have. We’ve heard it here, here, and here.  The simple truth is that when you are paying a price for an item that is very, very low, or discounted, someone, somewhere is paying the price for you.  These nail techs are bearing the burden of our $10 manicures.  These children are paying for our cheap t-shirts with their childhoods.  These factory workers are paying for our jeans with their lives. A cheap manicure is not our right, it is an extraordinary and unsupportable privilege which may finally be coming to an end. No one should be paying those costs for me.  No one should be paying those costs for the woman in the NYT article with the Prada sandals. 

Governor Cuomo has assembled an emergency task force to address the myriad labor violations at play here.  It’s commendable, and I must say, a little surprising.  I’ve grown so accustomed to a bickering, complacent, do-nothing government, aligned solely with big business and money, that when it actually acts in the interest of the down trodden it is a shock.  I hope some real change can be achieved here, both in pursuing current malpractice, and in creating a new environment where workers can thrive.

The one area where the commission seems to be falling short is in addressing the toxic nature of the products around which the industry revolves.  Sure, the commission suggests masks and gloves, but this just a band-aid measure. The real work is in insuring the offending chemicals do not find their way into the products in the first place.  

We need macro-level industry change.  The companies who formulate these toxic baths need to have their toes held to the fire by consumers who refuse to buy their products.  OSHA needs to step up.  The FDA needs to stop pandering to special interest, and start protecting. I don’t see them rushing in these directions, so what else can we do?  It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, impotent and guilty in the face of such suffering and malpractice.  And there is no easy answer.  But let’s make the few changes we can at the personal level.

  • Tip a lot.  If you’re getting a $10 manicure, considering tipping at least 50%, closer to 100% is better.  You’re getting closer to closing the gap.  Never give the tip to the front desk or salon owner.  Place it directly in the hand of your manicurist.  Should tipping be abolished?  Possibly, but until then, be generous.  Pay the true price.
  • Patronize salons with a higher base rate. Not a 100% guarantee of best labor practices, but a far better indicator that your nail tech is being fairly compensated.
  • Insist on cleaner products.  At a minimum, choose a product that is 5-free, meaning it does not contain the five most highly toxic chemicals found in conventional polish.  Better to insist on toxin-free creams, top/base coats, removers as well. Gels and Shellacs should be totally off the table (I know, sniff, they stay on so well.) Not only are the polishes themselves chemical laden, but the curing agent is ultra-violet light, which is cancer causing, possibly even in small doses. The burgeoning green beauty world is beginning to offer true clean salons, as well.  In NYC check out PH-7, Tenoverten, Sweet Lily.  I can’t speak to the labor practices for these salons, but the green beauty world as a whole is so much more transparent, and I would be truly shocked if the infractions given voice in the Times article were a problem at these reputable salons. And they all use great products!
  • Consider bare nails.  Not just nude polish, I mean no polish. Much harder for me to consider on my toes than my hands, but a possibility, right?
  • Paint your own nails!  Many years ago, before the nail industry had grown so enormous, my friends and I would joke that you could tell how old someone was by their pedicure.  Either they were old enough to be experts, or they could actually afford pedicures! I’d say I get one professional pedicure for every five I give myself.  Some of my favorite clean polishes are: Aila, Treat, and Jin Soon, but there are many others. I mean, Orange is the New Black is waiting.  What better time to schedule yourself an at home mani-pedi!  

None of these solutions solve the problem, of course.  But I urge everyone to examine the small ways the individual can take small actions that add up.  Opt out of conventional beauty.  We should continue to support companies that create safe products and support their employees. Find ethical treatment and ingredient transparency in the parallel world of Green Beauty!