The Going Green Tag

I was tagged by the lovely Kasey from Plein Vanity and sister duo Jennifer and Kathryne from Unsullied to do the Going Green Tag. As Kasey says, this tag was started by Rachel from All Natural Aspirations in her attempt to learn more about other bloggers’ experiences of “going green”. I never made an introductory post when I started blogging on how my green journey began, so thanks for tagging, ladies!

Pictured: Some cute succulents I picked up at Union Market, DC.

What started it all off for you?
It was a mixture of my on-and-off trench warfare with acne and a growing interest in makeup. In my acne-ful middle school and high school years, my makeup was eyeliner, mascara, eye concealer, done. Sometimes I would use concealer on my face, but a lot of the times I would forgo it (common conversation with myself: “Nah, you don’t need concealer today, that acne scar totally gives your face character”).

In the spring of my freshman year of college, I discovered the wonders of shopping online at Sephora and Asian BB cream. I started experimenting around and started breaking out more. I read that mineral foundation was acne-friendly, so I tried some BareMinerals, kept on breaking out, read that bismuth oxychloride was a skin irritant, aaand returned that in a blink of an eye.

In a flurry of fate, one of the order-with-samples was Josie Maran’s Argan Oil, the Birchbox of that month was the Earth Day Box, and I stumbled upon No More Dirty Looks. I played with the argan oil, checked out the mostly green products from the Birchbox (Juice Beauty, Egyptian Magic, not bad), read No More Dirty Looks, checked the back of my Philosophy Purity cleanser, and dropped it in horror after reading so many ingredient offenders that were poisoning me.

Pictured: No More Dirty Looks, Kindle edition. This book changed everything.

What was the first thing to go? (Ingredient or product)
Face cleanser/moisturizer. My first #greenbeauty products were One Love Organics Skin Savior and coconut oil, and I was so intrigued by products that could be a cleanser and a moisturizer at the same time. To be honest, I broke out even worse for a couple months after switching over, and it wasn’t until I changed to a simpler double-cleansing (jojoba, then honey), ACV-toning, and argan-moisturizing that my skin started to respond positively. Then I discovered Dr. Alkaitis, Vered Botanicals, yoga, eating green, and the rest is history. I’m not sure exactly what freaked my skin out at that time, but I’m attributing it to not double cleansing (*cringe), possibly not pure enough coconut oil (*double cringe), or possibly a sensitivity to coconut oil (*sad).

What are you/did you struggle to let go of?
Luckily, I wasn’t so attached to my skincare and makeup at the time, so I plunged into the world of #greenbeauty with absolute glee. I kind of did what NMDL advised not to do: freak out and throw everything away. Just knowing that there were inefficient or even harmful chemicals in my skincare and makeup repulsed me. I couldn’t put the products on my face after knowing what was inside them.

What has been your best find or change? (i.e. a green product or a tip that you’re really glad you’ve found/learnt)
Face oils!!! After years of oil-free brainwashing, I am now such a lover of face oils. The good ones give an instant glow, moisturize effectively, signal overreactive sebaceous glands to calm down, will often have great ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, omega fatty acids, and/or antioxidants. Also, their ingredients include some of my favorite foods: broccoli (similar feel as silicone), blueberry (antioxidants), raspberry (more antioxidants), and more.

Pictured from left to right: A couple of good face oils, including de Mamiel’s Spring Facial Oil (flower essences and moisturizing oils, smells just like Spring), YÜLI M.E. Skin Fuel (truly anti-inflammatory fuel for the skin, recently reviewed here), ED4OLO Active Moisture Vitamin C Serum (super moisturizing, reviewed here), MUN No. 1 Aknari Nighttime Dream Youth Serum (have yet to open this, but enjoyed the sample of it I ordered from Spirit Beauty Lounge)

What has been the worst thing about going green? What has been the hardest to transition or find an adequate green replacement of?
A lot of people say mascara, and this is where I have to thank my silly straight Asian lashes–even conventional mascaras never really worked for me. People also say deodorant, and this is where I have to thank my sweat glands–even that “prescriptive-strength anti-perspirant” deodorant didn’t work on me (can’t stop the sweat–stay tuned for a deo post). I think out of all of my products, it’s taken the longest time to find a mascara that works for me, period. The best part is that so many green beauty brands have been coming out with great mascaras made of natural ingredients and free of nasty preservatives, like rms beauty (defining is goooood stuff), W3ll People (@chinoisechic has good things to say about this one), and Alima Pure (tried it on my sis and looks good on her).

The worst thing about going green is watching other people continuing to use non-green products in ignorance. I think the absolute worst thing is when I’m watching a YouTube beauty favorites video, and the YouTuber says, “I don’t know what is in this product, but I love it so much!” (Though it was really funny when one YouTuber was commenting how Philosophy’s Purity cleanser wasn’t very pure, which I agreed with, but not because of the parabens or such, but because of various plant oils that I thought were actually decent. Awkward.) Of course, it is a completely personal choice to go green or not go green at all, and I just have to learn to accept that everyone has different opinions, tastes, and comfort levels. Or I can just slyly give green beauty gifts out for special occasions (and guess what. 100% satisfaction rate so far–booyah).

Pictured from left to right: Kjaer Weis Mascara (lovely rosey scent and nicely defines lashes for a natural look), rms beauty Defining Mascara (really packs on the definition and makes it look like I have eyelashes), Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara (also nicely defines and is layerable for a natural look, recently reviewed here)

Anything else to add? Any tips or tricks to pass on?
Be informed. You don’t have to go green, but as the consumer, you should at least know what is being absorbed into your bloodstream. There are so many great resources (No More Dirty Looks), lots of #greenbbloggers, lots of passionate green beauty store owners (Spirit Beauty Lounge, Follain, Clementine Fields, Eco Diva Beauty, Content Beauty, just to name a few), and lots of fabulous green beauty brands with inspiring stories who are committed to bringing healthy beauty to the world.

Being informed will also help you if you are an acne-sufferer like me. I think the knowledge is so empowering–instead of resorting to super full-coverage makeup or using drying and potentially harmful acne treatments, you yourself can try to pinpoint what is causing the acne–is it diet, stress, a product, hormones? You’re not helpless! Of course, if it gets really bad, see a derm, but you have the power to not only heal your skin but also make it as healthy and happy as possible.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about how I went green! Now, I would love to hear Marcella’s (Naturally Marcy), Asti’s (Skjonnhet), Kathy’s (Beauty Palette), and your story of how you went green. 

Tweet

de Mamiel Restorative Cleansing Balm

After downing two bottles of the ED4OLO Cleansing Oil (yeah, that good, see past review here) over the fall semester, I nabbed de Mamiel’s Restorative Cleansing Balm in the 100ml size from Shen Beauty just before returning home from school for winter break. I hadn’t used a cleansing balm since my first #greenbeauty purchase two summers ago (which the skin, sadly, did not like), but a combination of an interest in Annee de Mamiel’s philosophy and background, Megan from Seed to Serum’s post on de Mamiel’s new Botaniques line, and the harsh winter had me itching for a second try at balms.

And thank goodness because it was worth it. This is a beautiful, beautiful balm. Whether in the #polarvortex of the East Coast or in dry California, this remained buttery soft in spite of whatever weather. Thanks to a mix of flower essences and essential oils (Honey Myrtle, Fragonia, Chamomile, Rose Geranium), the balm smells beautifully floral–not in any way overwhelming, but truly restorative. It’s the best kind of calming scent to breathe in at the end of the day, almost making your insides feel more beautiful (I can just imagine my olfactory nerves turning to each other, “Hey, you’re looking good today!”).

Paired with Aurelia’s softest of the softest bamboo muslin cloths (obsessed), this melts away all traces of makeup and grime from a dry face. I was always a bit heavy-handed since I loved smearing this balm over my face, but a marble-sized amount is a perfect amount to remove face and eye makeup. I used this as my first cleansing step to remove makeup pretty much exclusively for the whole (and very long) winter. While I always followed up with a second cleanser (YÜLI’s Halycon, R.L. Linden & Co.’s Bee Charmer), this always left my skin as the description puts it, “satin-soft, glowing, and calm”. When experimentations with other first step cleansers left my face less than happy, I always came back to this one. While of course this balm can’t yank a sweet bun from my fingers (over my dead body), I felt cleansing with this helped to improve the condition of my skin. No mysterious widespread breakouts–just happy, balanced, healthy, well-cleansed skin.

The secret? A good amount of oils and butters topped with anti-all-the-bad-things and therapeutic manuka honey and skin-harmonizing probiotics (yes, even applied topically, not just orally!). The oil roster includes: fatty-acid rich but non-greasy camellia oil, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial calendula oil, deeply moisturizing and squalene-containing rice bran oil, restorative and healing borage oil, antioxidant-and-oleic-acid-rich marula oil, nourishing baobab oil, anti-inflammatory-and-ageing and moisturizing moringa oil, impurity-puller castor oil.

If you thought the oils were beautiful, take a look at the butters: moisturizing kukui nut, vitamin-rich and moisturizing mango, fatty-acid rich and anti-bad murumuru (isn’t that the most fun name ever), and fat-rich and nourishing cocoa.

tl;dr Beautiful, buttery-soft balm with moisturizing, cleansing, anti-bacterial/fungal/all-bad-things, anti-inflammatory ingredients that make you feel pretty. Oh, also removes makeup perfectly as the first step in cleansing. Would repurchase, but the weather’s finally looking up and I’ve got fresh bottles of ED4OLO to get through thanks to a past NMDL Friday Deal.

Have you tried this balm? What are your thoughts? If not, what’s your current favorite cleanser, balm or not?

Ingredients: Camellia oleifera (camellia) oil*, Aleurites moluccans (kukui nut) butter, Calendula officinalis, Helianthus annuus (calendula) oil*, Squalene, Oryza sativa (rice bran) oil*, Borago officinalis, Tocopherol (borage) oil*, Polysorbate 20 (derived coconut oil), Cera alba (beeswax)*, Rosa damascena (rose) wax, Sclerocarya birrea (marula) oil*, Mangifera indica (mango) butter, Adansonia digitata (baobab) oil*, Moringa oleifera (moringa) oil*, Ricinus communis (castor) oil*, Astrocaryum murumuru (murumuru) butter, Theobroma cacao (cocoa) butter, Inulin, Alpha-glucan oligosaccharide, (prebiotic), Bisabol, Manuka honey, Daucus carrota (carrot seed) oil*, Melaleuca teretifolia (honey myrtle) oil, Agonis fragrans (fragonia) oil, Pelargonium graveolens roseum (rose geranium) oil*, Eriocephalus punctulatus (cape chamomile) oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) oil*.

Naturally occurring citral, geraniol, citronellol

Flower and Gem essence of Heart Balm – Alpine Forget-Me-Not, Alpine Willowherb, Lime Blossom, Pink Frangipani, Scots Primrose, Silk Tree and Twinflower, Rose Quartz

*Organic

Disclaimer: I purchased this from Shen Beauty over the phone, though Content Beauty also stocks this and has free international shipping. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Trip to Shen Beauty

I was in New York for 24 hours last week for a piano audition and had the luxury of three free hours in my favorite city before my bus home…so I packed my dress and my ballet slippers in my backpack, pulled on my down coat, and hiked my cold, Californian butt on over to Brooklyn to Shen Beauty.

You New Yorkers are so lucky so have a physical store with so much green beauty! Have you seen all the Facebook comments asking Spirit Demerson of Spirit Beauty Lounge if she has a physical location? I mean, I love staring at the little green beauty aisle in Whole Foods which actually has a pretty good selection of Acure Organics, Dr. Hauschka, and more, but let’s just say I planned only spending 20 minutes in Shen Beauty…and spent more like 40 minutes squealing over every green beauty brand I knew, and even then I wanted to stay longer. I have been following Shen Beauty for a bit on social media, but boy, was it a treat to be there in person…

rms beauty and ILIA beauty in real life!! *hands clasped together and hearts in eyes! My collection of rms beauty has been growing as of late, so I just took a peek at the demure lip2cheek (pretty baby pink) before having a swatch party at the ILIA stand. I asked Jillian of Shen Beauty for a comparison of rms beauty and ILIA, and she said in the end, they are really comparable, so it comes down to brand loyalty. Some people prefer the pots of rms beauty, and others the stick applicators of ILIA. She swatched ILIA’s Sway illuminator/bronzer for me, and it has such a pretty golden shine! A lot sparklier than the rms beauty buriti bronzer. She also told me Arabian Knights (beautiful. beautiful violet-burgundy, I bought it for my mum last winter) is so popular, at one point, it was sold out everywhere, even from ILIA themselves! The mascaras are also pretty well-loved for their unique colors.


I’ve been eyeing ILIA’s lip crayons since their launch, but they all look so lovely, I’ve had to resist just putting all of them in my online cart (though I have purchased Come Undone, the nude, which is lovely). From left to right: Dress You Up, 99 Red Balloons, Iko Iko, and Call Me. Jillian was telling me that they are very pigmented out of the tube, and they are! Very creamy as well.


Everyone as of late has been raving about Bang Bang as the red and I have been super curious about getting into orangey-reds. From left to right: Voila, Bang Bang, Wild Child, and Dizzy. Dizzy is really orange, isn’t it? It’s quite light though, and I think it could be very wearable. I think these all would be really lovely in the summer.


Oh, ILIA’s lip glosses! I have The Butterfly And I (the peach) which I love so much for the way the formula feels, looks, and smells (think Lina Hanson’s Global Body Serum–vanilla and citrus, yum). I’ve also had to resist just putting all of these in my cart, because all of the colors are so lovely. From left to right: Heartbeat, Love Buzz, and Gypsy. So lovely! After swatching, I actually swiped all of these on my lips from right to left since the wind stripped all the moisture from my face on the walk over, and it the result was a pretty reddish pink. I got Love Buzz as a Christmas present for my sister, but I’ll be sneaking some swipes in here and there while I’m home this winter.

Oh, Kjaer Weis! Jillian was selling me on Kjaer Weis, and I already love them, so we were basically just gushing together. She says Kjaer Weis really has a following because their formulas are so good. The cream formulations look just like skin. She herself was wearing Blossoming, which looked really lovely–lovely light flush of pink, and I was wearing Suntouched, the coral, that day. I’ve been curious about Abundance, the plummy blush, so I asked if I could try it. She applied it with a Bobbi Brown brush from the apples of my cheeks and blending upwards along my cheekbones, and oh my goodness. It was gorgeous. I never thought I’d get into a plum-colored blush, but it was so beautiful, I had to treat myself to this one…

H. Gillerman Organics! I have her Jaw Clenching Remedy since I have a tendency to grind my teeth when I sleep, along with small samples of the Sleep and Sinus Remedy, and they all smell so soothing and wonderful. I wanted to buy the Stress Remedy for my super woman mum since she has the tendency to stress out very easily, but I ended up getting her the Tension Remedy as a present, since she is always running around taking care of the family and being super.

Kahina Giving Beauty! I have been following them since discovering them through No More Dirty Looks, and have yet to try their products (though I did also get the Eye Serum from BeautySage as another present for my mum). I tried a bit of the new Fez Body Serum (super spicy) and their argan oil (very moisturizing).

I’ve seen suti around Spirit Beauty Lounge and a few blogs (Beauty By Britanie, Neiman’s Idealist) but also have not tried any of their products. I took a peek at their cleansing balm (looks nice and a bit grainy).

Annee de Mamiel! She is UK-based, and apparently one of the owners of Shen Beauty really loves de Mamiel’s Altitude Oil for traveling. I tried buying her new cleansing balm during the Thanksgiving sale, but sadly failed to get my order in before it was out of stock! I was hoping it’d be back in stock by the time I was here, but unfortunately it wasn’t (though I did just order it over the phone yesterday, and apparently there are now only two left! Get on it!). I took a whiff of her Winter Facial Oil (also quite spicy) and her Altitude Oil (boy, does it perk you up!).

And here’s a brand I’ve just discovered this past fall: LURK! This is what the display looked like after my frozen hands picked up every single little bottle and smelled every single scent, haha. They all smell lovely, but I was partial to The Green Product Junkie’s favorite RSW005, which smells of roses, and PRJV1, which smells a little more unisex and spicy.

Other brands I spotted were Therapie (heard so much about their detox salts), Indie Lee (almost bought her blemish lotion! Almost!), a bit of Meow Meow Tweet (I loooove their candles), Suntegrity (heard lots about their sunscreen), Skin & Bones (their oil smells sooo sultry-spicy-yum), and Rare Elements haircare (NMDL loves them).

I couldn’t just make a 40-minute subway trip to Brooklyn (not to mention a rare trip to New York!) and leave empty-handed. By luck, I spotted One Love Organic’s Brand New Day scrub in discover size on sale and Lulu Organic’s travel-size dry shampoo in jasmine, which I have been eyeing for forever (and look how tiny it is!).

What’s more, I found a welcome surprise in my mail box in the midst of finals last Friday: a de Mamiel Altitude Oil as a gift for my struggles with the web store during the Thanksgiving sale. Like bam! Customer service! Totally blown away. Thank you so much, Shen…this is exactly what I need for finals and winter.

Basically, I am full of love for Shen Beauty, and if I lived in New York, I’d probably be there every weekend to play. Have you visited Shen? See any of your favorite brands here?