Best of 2013: In the Shower

Did you catch my skincare and bodycare favorites of 2013? I’m back in record time with my in-the-shower favorites…

We used to buy Dove soap bar by the bulk, but Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castille Soap is the new soap staple in the house. My sister and I have tried it in lavender (very lavender-y), rose (very rose-y and my favorite), and we just got almond (subtle-y almond-y) the other day. I love it best with a flouf/shower pouf/loofah/that fluffy thing since it foams up the soap and lets me use less soap for more surface area, but soap plus just hands is all good too. I also love it for washing out flannels/muslins that I’ve used to remove makeup as well as washing makeup brushes. Leaves my body/muslin/brushes clean and soft thanks to organic oils that cleanse but don’t strip. I’ve also just recently bought it in travel size to take along in my handbag to wash my hands on-the-go.

As for haircare, let’s just say I came home to these two conditioner bottles in one corner and three of that shampoo in another corner. This household loves Acure haircare. My sister and I both especially love the orange one, the Moroccan Argan Stem Cell + Argan Oil Shampoo and Conditioner the best since it leaves our hair the softest, but the Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell and Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell sets are also nice. They’re very accessible from our local Whole Foods (or mine at school), affordable, and effectively cleansing. We both are able to wash every other day without looking greasy with second-day hair (though we have help from Acure’s Dry Shampoo, which helps eliminate extra root grease).

See any of your favorites here? Stay tuned for makeup favorites of 2013…

Best of 2013: Skincare and Bodycare

Happy end of 2013! It’s been a really fun year of green beauty: of discovery, of healing, of truly, fun. I’ve had a fun time interacting with other greenies and falling in love with new products. Keep reading for my skincare and bodycare favorites of the past year…

Soapwalla may have taken the green and non-green world by storm, but I’ve been loving how the Meow Meow Tweet Deodorant Cream with Tea Tree takes away my stink. Even when I sweat (which is much and often), I smell, can I say, deliciously of tea tree and void of any smelliness? Also delicious is the consistency of the cream, which is soft and smooth as butter, though it has been a bit harder thanks to chilly, dry California.
I’ve gone from using tea tree essential oil, lavender essential oil, to even nothing as spot treatments. Accompanied with a good diet and yoga, I’ve lately been enjoying Osmia Organic’s Spot Treatment as an extra punch against blemishes. There aren’t necessarily any instant results, especially with larger, more evil blemishes, but not only does it smell lovely, I’ve found it to help along the healing process of my blemishes without leaving flakes behind. The mini rollerball also makes application very easy.
YÜLI pretty much took over my skincare this year. The Panacea Elixir was my initial gateway drug, then the Cocoon Elixir soothed my skin over the summer, and with that I was done for. Pure was the only mask I brought home because it’s my favorite two-for-one: clarifying yet simultaneously soothing in one formula. It heals blemishes I’ve naughtily popped the night before and brings out other blemishes to the surface while leaving my complexion smooth and soft (and matcha green tea is one of its ingredients!). Cell Perfecto PM is definitely one of my holy grail products for how much it healed my acne scars this year. Not only did it enable no-makeup days, but also dabbling into blush and bronzer, something I had given up while my cheeks were too rosy from scarring. I will show picture evidence soon. Halycon has become my favorite second-step cleanser (or only step, if it’s a no-makeup day) for how gentle, light, lovely, and effective it is.

I upgraded from removing makeup with jojoba oil and a flannel to Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organic’s Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil and Makeup Remover and haven’t looked back. The first time I tried the oil, the tropical papaya scent hit me, and I was like, “Omg.” Then I began massaging it in my face, watched the makeup melt away, and was like, “Omg.” Then I rinsed it off and then I was really like, “Omg” because the oil washed off with water and left my face so soft that I wasn’t sure I had rinsed it all off. Then I had my sister tried it and she had basically the same reaction. Love.

The rest of my bodycare favorites might as well just be dubbed as body oil favorites. I had been pretty nonchalant about body moisturizing before, and was content with just DIYing it with coconut oil or jojoba oil. Until I tried Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum, which not only smells deliciously of citrus and vanilla, but also leaves my body so moisturized and soft. Osmia’s Body Oils overturned my post-shower routine–I now wait just a little longer before toweling off so I can slather one of these deliciously smelling blends over my whole, damp body. The idea is that lotions are basically a mixture of water and oils–so why not use the moisture left over from the shower with the body oil to make your own effective lotion? Brilliant, Osmia. I’ve been loving sultry Sunset and pretty flowery Flower.

For a Gorgias, Gorgeous Body

It’s been a Gorgias day of paper-writing, and yes, “Gorgias” is pronounced just like “gorgeous”–it made me do a double take too when that was what my Philosophic Classics teacher said we’d be reading. The first portion basically is fleshing out what is oratory, and at one point, Socrates differentiates between beneficial crafts and flattering knacks for the body. Example: medicine takes care of the body’s inner health, pastry baking is yummy but doesn’t really take care of the body’s inner health*. Gymnastics takes care of the body’s fitness, cosmetics make the body appear better, but don’t really do anything for the body’s fitness. Where is this going? (Don’t run away yet I promise I’m done talking philosophy.) I’m calling Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum a beneficial craft.
I thought I was going to DIY my way through bodycare – that is, if single-ingredient DIY’s count. I had jojoba oil for makeup removing but a certain papaya oil cleanser took over the role…hey, I could use that on my body! I had coconut oil for cooking and after last year’s scare, I wasn’t going to put it on my face…hey, I could use that on my body and smell delicious!

However gleeful I was at multitasking my ingredients, my body would be dry again in the day, despite moisturizing straight out of the shower. I would get little flakes when I tried applying body sunscreen and my calves were pretty scaly. When Lina Hanson launched her Global Body Serum and green beauty bloggers were all abuzz and NuboNau was offering a free trial size of her Global Face Serum with the purchase of her Global Body Serum, I had to take the plunge.
I’m in complete agreement with what everyone else is saying. It’s beautiful. The grapefruit and vanilla oils fill your olfactories with such happiness and the moisturizing oils** (rice bran, avocado, apricot kernel, argan, brazil nut, pumpkin, and camelia) make my skin feel so supple and soft all the time, never greasy. It is currently the night after last night’s shower before tonight’s shower, and my body skin is still very happy. It is definitely a treat at $63 for 3.4oz and I probably overdid it on application post-showering at first (2 pumps for arms, 2 pumps a leg, 2 pumps for torso), but for how it has healed my stubbornly dry skin, it is definitely worth it. I have since decreased to 1 pumps per body part to extend my use and my skin is still happy. Can’t go back to single-ingredient body oils now…

*Unless you’re going whole wheat and gluten-free and adding chia seeds everywhere and stuff, then we can talk
**Head over to Lina Hanson’s website for a breakdown of the benefits of each oil

Treating the Rudolph nose

You would think that after Spring Break everyone would come back well-rested and ready to face the last 6 weeks of school. I myself was hoarding all the rest I could get…and then I caught a bug. This past week of back-to-school? A bit of a blur, I’ll admit, what with explosive coughing and now my sinuses are having a field day. My nose, much to its indignation, is pretty raw because I am apparently too cheap to buy softer Kleenex in favor of the harsher toilet paper courtesy of my school’s bathrooms. (I just want to save money for skincare…ha.)

This is my lip balm collection and I am not ashamed…Note: I would not recommend using tinted lip balms around the nose!!!

My recent Rudolph-y undertones have reminded me of a trick my mother taught me as a child. When I would be blowing off my nose like an elephant, my mom would tell me to put chapstick on, around, underneath, and in my nose to soothe the redness and irritation post-nose-blowing. People thought I was ridiculous! I thought I was ridiculous!

While I’m not certain of how green those chapsticks were back then, now that I generally know what kind of ingredients make a chapstick awesome, it makes total sense! My mother was a genius! She was harnessing the multitasking powers of balm moisturizing!

When you look at the ingredients in the lip balms of Burt’s Bees, S.W. Basics (formerly Sprout), and Hurraw!, you see plant oils, beeswax, some extra essential oils over and over again–and no wonder.

While I think lip balm serves as a valid trick in a pinch (and you should try to be as hygienic as possible with your chapstick around your running snot or use a clean finger), I’ve also been repurposing my favorite hand moisturizers as my nose soothers.

Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands: You can see I’ve hit pan on this and I am feeling simultaneously sad and victorious about it. I love massaging this into my hands post-shower, and now I’ve added rubbing it around my poor nose and upper lip. It’s super concentrated with moisturizing heroes extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, and aloe; and it calms down the rawness. It’s also got a fresh wintergreen scent (from the essential oil itself, of course). One thing, make sure your paws are always clean when you dip into this so you don’t contaminate the goodness!

Weleda Skin Food: You can also see I am squeezing out the last bits of this one. Since this thick cream is the product that I take on-the-go in my backpack for convenience’s sake, I take the smallest dab and pat around my nose in class or after a grueling nose-blowing session. And done, nose well-moisturized until the next time the mucus creeps up…Beware: Skin Food is mega thick so blend thoroughly or else it’ll look silly. This baby is orange blossom-y, as I’ve been told countless times (“What is that orange blossom smell?? Jade, is that you??”). And no surprise, this is also packed with plant oils, beeswax, and extracts from essential oils.

Have any special tips for when you get sick? I’ve also been having a teaspoon of apple cider plus raw honey in warm water once a day for digestion/general health/immunity, and it’s growing on me.

Dirty Confessions: Soap and toothpaste

Bless my sweet mother’s heart. She packed me with plenty of extra Dove soap and Crest toothpaste when sending me off for college round 2, saying “I want you to spend less time worrying about these kinds of things so you can have more time to study!”

While this has undoubtedly saved me CVS Pharmacy/Whole Food trips in favor of burying myself in the wonders of physics (blah), these products, of course, are not the greenest of the bunch.

Disclaimer: I am not a chemist. But I do know how to read No More Dirty Looks and use the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to look up ingredients. Because my memory is finite and I don’t speak chemistry, my most basic way of reading ingredients is: does it sound like science or does it sound like nature? It’s not a flawless system of course, and I know that even “natural” ingredients can be irritating and that science is incredible, but it suffices for a first look-over before checking up things with Skin Deep.

Crest Toothpaste ingredients

Active: Sodium fluoride (0.243%); Inactive: sorbitol, water, hydrated silica, disodium pyrophosphate, flavor, sodium hydroxide, sodium lauryl sulfate, alcohol (0.7%), xanthan gum, sodium saccharin, glycerin, carbomer, carnauba wax, poloxamer 407, polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate, cetylpyridinium chloride, benzoic acid, titanium dioxide, blue 1, yellow 5

(source: the back of the toothpaste box)

Note that everything sounds like science except for water. And flavor, which actually can be made of science. Looking over its Skin Deep profile, there are contamination, organ system toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, irritation, and ecotoxicology concerns associated with 13 out of the 22 ingredients.

Dove Beauty Bar ingredients

Fragrance, BHT, cocamidopropyl betaine, titanium dioxide, tetrasodium EDTA, sodium tallowate, sodium stearate, sodium dodecylbenzenesulfonate, stearic acid, sodium cocoyl isethionate, sodium palm kernelate, trisodium etidronate, sodium isethionate, sodium cocoate, coconut acid, water, sodium chloride

(source: its Skin Deep profile)

“Fragrance!,” you say, “Fragrance is not science!” But no! It is made of science too! (The synthetic kind of fragrance, that is.) And it has allergies, immunotoxicity, irritation, and organ system toxicity concerns. Here, 10 out of 17 ingredients have pretty much the same concerns as the toothpaste.

It’s not just a matter of scary ingredients that are hard to pronounce, but as No More Dirty Looks puts it, “If you can’t be sure a product is safe–and it’s not doing your looks any favors–why bother using it?”
But, you know, my mother was terribly thoughtful, and I can’t afford to throw them away, so I’ll be using these products up before getting green replacements. I’ve only had a small dabble in green body care and toothpaste so far. At home, we do have the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Pure Castille Soap which I do enjoy as a body wash with a pouf. Also when I got back from winter break, I thought I had run out of toothpaste, so I picked up the Tom’s of Maine Botanically Bright Whitening Toothpaste which is more clean and I don’t mind, but I’m not dedicated to it.

So green beauty community! Please. Tell me your favorite soaps–bars or liquid–and favorite toothpaste! Comment me, tweet me @ultravoodoo, email me. My body and teeth are counting on you.

Winter, don’t badger me ft. Badger Balm

East Coast winter is a bit of a shock for a California girl, and that combined with extreme dorm heating and hot shower temptations has made my hands a bit unhappy. While I keep Weleda Skin Food in my backpack for on-the-go moisturizing, Badger Balm for Hardworking Hands has become my desk standby for calming down rosey, crackly hands pre-bed as well as moisturizing cuticles (fingers and toes) and rough elbows. A rub into the balm, a rub into the skin, and I’m ready to continue taking silly pictoral notes for Music History IV.
Ingredients: *Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, *Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Extract, and Essential Oils of Betula Lenta (Birch) and *Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen).

Hand Savior: Weleda Skin Food

– Baby it’s cold outside
– I really can’t stay
– But your hands will get dry and cracked
– Oh…in that case I will stay…and use your Weleda Skin Food to keep my hands nice and moisturized…
(^^^ Reasons why I am not a song composer)


Check out those mad balancing skills. And yes. Note the thick, creamy consistency.

Cracked hands hurt. And bleed! And especially as a pianist, I can’t play if my hands are bleeding and hurting, let alone write down t-score equations for Prob Stats homework. I use Weleda Skin Food ($18.50) to moisturize my hands and typically rough elbows after a shower or during the day for extra moisture. The thick, cream sinks into the skin with the scent of orange blossoms, leaving hands smooth and moisture-full. I haven’t had a crack this winter yet! (Coming from someone who’s had cracks to the point where thumbs were unrecognizable…also that was kind of a pun.)

Deodorants ft. Weleda and Soapwalla

Weleda Wild Rose Deodorant: No-mess spray deodorant that smells of roses (as you could gather from the title). This easily keeps me fresh all day through being nervous at my piano lesson and running after buses. I do have to dress strategically to avoid wet stains, however, as to be expected as this isn’t meant to soak up moisture. Weleda also says you can use it as a body spray, but go easy, it has a pretty concentrated scent. Also make sure you have good aim. Sometimes I aim for my pits and I get my neck, or my collarbone, or my chin. ($16)

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream: This is the darling of natural deodorants. It comes in an unconventional cream form that you scoop out and gently moisturize the pits with (and then you wash your hands afterwards, if you were wondering). During this past muggy East Coast summer, this neutralized smell and some amount of moisture (thanks to natural clays and powders) but I usually felt more comfortable adding another layer in the mid-afternoon since I’m especially sweaty. It doesn’t have as strong of a scent as the Weleda Wild Rose, but I’m perfectly fine with its herby scents canceling out my stinkies. Now in the fall/winter, I like using this when I know I have an especially sweaty day coming up. ($12)

On deodorant

I have always been a sweaty person. At piano lessons and recitals growing up, I despaired playing pianos with glossy finishes because I knew my fingers would slip and hit loads of wrong notes as soon as I got warmed up. During high school marching band season, I obsessively kept my arms glued to my side for at least 30 minutes into the next class after band so no one would see the dark stains. When going shopping, I would imagine what the armpit region of a potential shirt would look like if I sweat into it. Note: Gray is the worst. (Is that too much? Okay I’ll stop now.)
It’s funny to think that our natural scents used to be a kind of sign of attraction to the opposite sex, and now it’s like an instant person repeller. Thank goodness for deodorants, which are marketed to keep you smelling fresh and/or dry up the dreaded wetness. Seems good and fine until you step back and wonder, why do we sweat?
Sweating is the body getting rid of toxins. We engage in sweaty-making activity, we get hot and our circulation gets going, pores “open,” out comes toxins. When we use antiperspirants, we are using things like aluminum to block the sweat from coming out. We’re keeping the toxins in. Why would we want to do that? Dark armpit stains we can avoid by just wearing more strategic clothing, but toxins in our bodies? Possible breast cancer? (this one is still being debated but still)
As much as I loathe sweating, it’s a natural body function and I think we should let it do its own thing. Not to say we shouldn’t wear deodorant, goodness please, please if you know the bacteria in your pits likes to get busy, please wear a good, natural deodorant that will keep you fresh while still allowing toxins to come out.