A Birthday Giveaway of Fave #GreenBeauty Skincare

Today is my birthday, and I want to take a brief break from problem sets and feeling slightly sick from strong kombucha to share a gift with one of you.

I resolved in 2014 to curb my impulsive habits by sampling before jumping into full-size. No regrets. Lots of sampling, but no regrets. I spared myself from throwing money at things that were nice but not fantastic, and I threw my money at things I knew worked well with my skin and were gold. So I’ve compiled a set of sample and travel-size skincare products that I’ve enjoyed for you to try. If you don’t like any, well, then you know. And if you like them, you can take the plunge.

Here are the goods:

S.W. Basics Vegan Cocoa Lip Balm
I obsessively hoard lip balm and have one in every room and bag because if my lips are dry, my whole body is dry/I am dying/can’t handle. Admittedly, this is not the best lip balm in the world (that goes to Tata Harper Lip Treatments, swoon), but it’s a solid. And every now and then they have $1 sales so I get them in bulk for me and to share.

A sample sachet of Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum
This is something I discovered via a sample-with-order from Pemberley Jones and it is good. It’s light, it’s cooling, I bought the full-size for my mom and should’ve gotten another one for myself–cue *hearts in eyes.

YÜLI Jet Set Kit
I spent my Spirit Beauty Lounge points on you! Included is a bag made exclusively for SBL and YÜLI by fashion designer and Project Runway star Melissa Fleis, a travel size Halcyon Cleanser and sample sizes of M.E. Skin Fuel and Cocoon Elixir. First of all, the bag. Guys, it’s chic. I want to keep it. If I had to choose between Panacea and Cocoon, Cocoon is my favorite. Back when I was interning over the summer in a dehydrated office, this visibly calmed down redness and hydrated my skin for hours (full review here). While M.E. Skin Fuel couldn’t prevent my hormonal breakouts (understandable), it worked well with my skin, left my skin feeling soft with every application, and has a really delicious list of ingredients (full review here). Halcyon–oh Halcyon. I recently repurchased the full size and I don’t regret it–it’s my favorite second-step cleanser after removing makeup. Those gently foaming peptides, how soft it leaves my skin, how good my skin looks when I use it–yep. It’s a winner (full review here).

A sample tube of Dr. Alkaitis Soothing Gel
Every time I make an order from SBL, I always include this. It’s my go-to whenever I’m naughty and pop a pimple or need an aftershave and don’t want ingrown hairs. In the pimple case, I usually squeeze some onto a Q-tip and hold it over the broken skin until liquid stops seeping out in to make sure bacteria doesn’t spread and to encourage healing (always works). In the aftershave case, I just massage a little into where I’ve shaved and 1) it soothes any tenderness, 2) I haven’t had an ingrown hair after using this (full review here).

Two sample sachets of Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask
I love this mask. I purchased and used up the full-size version of the limited edition Resurfacing Mask with Wild Plum. After my first facial earlier this year, my esthetician informed me that the cause of some of my pimples was not enough exfoliation. With regular use (once a week), I noticed less pimples and increasingly softer skin. Bonus: it’s a clear mask, so feel free to answer the door wearing this or slap it on during a flight.

A USDA Organic lollipop
Once of these comes with every SBL order and I’ve racked up a collection. Girl can’t eat all the lollipops, so here’s one for you. And it’s USDA Organic.

This giveaway starts now and ends 12:00am October 16, 2014, Pacific time. It is open to the U.S. only–I apologize, my lovely international friends, but this is an unsponsored giveaway, shipping is my responsibility (unless you are willing to negotiate), and I am a poor undergraduate student applying to be a poor graduate student.

Go wild and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: As noted above, this is an unsponsored giveaway. Everything mentioned above has been either purchased with SBL points or selected as a sample-with-order with previous SBL orders. I want to keep everything mentioned above for myself. Affiliate links are included in this post.

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Summer Body Oils: #ED4OLO & Kahina

Is it ever too hot for body oils? If you get in the shower sweating and get out still sweating, maybe. But even though it’s been consistently hitting over 100 degrees over here in California, my legs are thirsty year round. Two body oils that have me feeling my skin all day long and smelling really, really delicious: Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin C Body Oil and Kahina Giving Beauty Fez Body Serum.

The #ED4OLO body oil has the same delicious tropical scent as the cleansing oil that makes my sister say, “This smells soooooo good” every time she uses it (once by mistake, she grabbed the body oil instead of the cleansing oil to remove makeup–oops! Don’t do that). I’m not a pineapple person (cannot eat food that I have consciously put pineapple in) but I absolutely love the smell of the oil cleanser, so I was so glad to hear they made a body oil with the same scent.

The ingredients read brightening meets moisturizing: the green tea seed oil and vitamin C ester that I love from the Vitamin C serum, the papaya seed oil from the Vitamin B Oil Cleanser, plus moisturizing shea oil, shea butter, sunflower seed oil, and olive oil. While I can’t say my legs look brighter, when I use this and Chocolate Sun’s Cocoa Lite, I kind of feel like a glowing golden goddess the next day (and then I pull on my jeans/long skirt/appropriate clothing for work. At least I know I’m glowing).

The moisture part is serious though. It doesn’t beat my occasionally scaly calves (though this + regular exfoliation does the trick), but when I do get to bare my legs, I can’t stop touching them. Or smelling them, when I go in for a forward bend midday.

I’m guessing the thickish texture comes from the combination of shea oil + shea butter and green tea seed oil + vitamin C ester. Shea oil has 16 different fatty acids, and typically around 50% of some like oleic acid and stearic acid (hooray, anti-inflammation!). Green tea seed oil holds in moisture, boosts the effectiveness of vitamin C, and is also rich in fatty acids. What probably is also helping to keep my skin so soft is papaya’s exfoliating effects.

Despite the thicker texture, when massaged into the skin (preferably damp from the shower), it sinks in so well–seriously moisturizing my skin and not leaving an oily feel.

While #ED4OLO has a sweet pineapple-y scent, Fez is so beautifully spicy (bonus: scent is “I love the way you smell”-deeeeep-sniff-boy-approved). Fez’s ingredients also include sunflower seed oil and olive fruit oil plus a couple extras: their classic argan oil of course, coconut nut oil, watermelon seed oil, and a beautiful concoction of essential oils like rose, bergamot, cumin, sandalwood, pink grapefruit, neroli.

Watermelon seed oil and sunflower seed oil are both high (~40%-70%) in linoleic fatty acid–fun fact: low linoleic acid => decreased epidermal barrier function, aka the skin can’t properly protect itself from inflammation when it is low in linoleic acid. Adding these oils to the body then, I’m thinking, has the potential to help the skin’s anti-inflammatory reaction.

This combination results in a slightly thinner texture than the ED4OLO oil (fits the “serum” name), but it is still equally as moisturizing. The grounding, comforting scent lasts from one night to practically the next night. When I’m feeling a bit heavy digestive-wise, worn out, or sweetened-out, I reach for Fez. It’s something about those warm spices and warm-things-make-you-digest-and-feel-better.

I typically apply both of these Osmia-style–I hop out from the shower, barely towel off just so I’m not super dripping water on the floor, massage 1-2 pumps of either oil over my damp body, and brush my teeth in the nude while the moisture sinks in. It means I can use less oil for more surface area and get more moisture for my buck. If my calves are a still bit parched in the morning, applying the oils dry is okay–oil : surface area will be more, but greasiness, never. Just massage well.

tl;dr Both body oils leave the skin super soft and moisturized (however, regular body exfoliation is still recommended). What separates the two? Scent. Got a sweet tooth? Try ED4OLO (available from One Love Organics). Feeling spicy? Go for Kahina (available from Spirit Beauty Lounge).

Have you tried either of these body oils? Have a favorite? If not, what are you using to moisturize your body?

Disclaimer: Elizabeth Dehn x One Love Organics kindly sent me the Vitamin C body oil before its launch. I purchased the Kahina Body Serum myself from Spirit Beauty Lounge at the end of March. I am not being compensated in any way for my words. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Ingredients for ED4OLO: organic butyrospermum parkii (shea) oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, organic helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, hydrogenated olive oil (and) olive oil (olea europeaea) (and) olive oil unsaponifiables, carica papaya (papaya) seed oil, organic camellia sinensis (green tea) seed oil, ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin c-ester), tocopherol (vitamin e), proprietary natural & organic fragrance

Ingredients for Kahina: argania spinosa (argan) oil (36%)*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil*, caprylic/capric triglyceride, cocos nucifera (coconut) nut oil*, citrullus lanatus (watermelon) seed oil*, rosa damascena (rose) flower oil*, citrus aurantium amara (neroli) flower oil*, citrus bergamia (bergamot) peel oil*, citrus paradisi (pink grapefruit) peel oil*, cananga odorata (ylang ylang) flower oil*, pelargonium graveolens (geranium) leaf/flower oil*, backhousia citriodora (lemon myrtle) leaf oil*, santalum spicatum (sandalwood) wood oil*, eugenia caryophyllus (clove) bud oil*, cuminum cyminum (cumin) seed oil*, pogostemon cablin (patchouli) leaf oil*, vetiveria zizanioides (vetiver) root oil*, bisabolol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract*, phenethyl alcohol.

*Certified Organic
100% from natural origin, 83.27% Organic

This product is gluten-free and vegan.

Additional Sources:

Honfo, Fernande G., et al. “Characteristics Of Traditionally Processed Shea Kernels And Butter.” International Journal Of Food Science & Technology 48.8 (2013): 1714-1721. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Aug. 2014.

Moaddabdoost Baboli, Zahra, and Ali Safe Kordi. “Characteristics And Composition Of Watermelon Seed Oil And Solvent Extraction Parameters Effects.” Journal Of The American Oil Chemists’ Society (JAOCS) 87.6 (2010): 667-671. Business Source Complete. Web. 4 Aug. 2014.

Okullo, J. B. L., et al. “PHYSICO-CHEMICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF SHEA BUTTER (Vitellaria Paradoxa C.F. Gaertn.) OIL FROM THE SHEA DISTRICTS OF UGANDA.” African Journal Of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition & Development 10.1 (2010): 1-15. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Aug. 2014.

Pappas, Apostolos. “The Relationship of Diet and Acne.” Dermato-Endocrinology 1.5 (2009): 262-67. Web.

Picardo, Mauro, Monica Ottaviani, Emanuela Camera, and Arianna Mastrofrancesco. “Sebaceous Gland Lipids.” Dermato-Endocrinology 1.2 (2009): 68-71. Web.

Raziq, S., et al. “Characterization Of Seed Oils From Different Varieties Of Watermelon [Citrullus Lanatus (Thunb.)] From Pakistan.” Grasas Y Aceites 63.4 (2012): 365-372. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Aug. 2014.
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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?

Wednesday Wishlist

I’ve got a Cognition exam tomorrow, but there’s no time like 10 minutes before midnight for a Wednesday Wishlist right? Especially since my last one was from July.

Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser 120 ml for $53 from Net-a-Porter
I have heard all the good things about this cleanser from mainstream beauty mavens to my favorite green beauties. Into the Gloss, Caroline Hirons, Genuine Glow, and Seed to Serum all raved of how smooth and hydrated this cleanser leaves them, not to mention the lush creamy consistency, the wonderful smell, and beautifully soft muslin. Besides the fact everyone seems to love this, what also makes this line special is the use of probiotics. “I can’t understand how probiotics are supposed to benefit your skin, as they are designed to be processed in your digestive system” went some sassy comment on Caroline Hirons’ post. Turns out probiotics in skincare counter the effects of sun exposure and inflammation. Booyah. I’m a bit rusty on my hot cloth and balm cleansing, and this sounds like a great all/winter moisturizing, makeup-removing cleanser.

MUN No. 1 Aknari Nighttime Dream Youth Serum 15 ml for $95 from Mun Skin
This is another well-loved gem in the green beauty and mainstream world. Models, spa owners, makeup artists, The Green Product Junkie, and Epic Beauty Guide praise the serum for its hydrating effects, simplicity, efficacy against dark circles and blemishes, and more. I love argan, I love the smell of rose oil, and I am itching to try prickly pear seed oil. Can’t have enough moisture or blemish-fighting powers going into these colder and drier months.

Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Serum 15 ml for $78 from Kahina Giving Beauty
This brand has been on my radar for yonks, and I nearly went for their travel set when I was transitioning away from DIY skincare, but instead went with Dr. Alkaitis for blemishy reasons. With all the love that No More Dirty Looks and Truth in Aging gives this brand, I know I will press that checkout button soon–eventually. The eye serum flew back on my radar recently with a blog post or an Instagram picture that I can’t find or immediately remember! It is buried in my BlogLovin’ or instagram feed, but clementinefields’ will definitely do. Reduce puffiness and dark circles with a product that gives back? Exactly what I’m looking for, what with staying up until 2am and even 3am seeming to become a trend…

H. Gillerman Organics Remedy Pack $160 from H. Gillerman
Hope from H. Gillerman was such a tease about this one–this all-in-one pack popped up on various Twitters and instagrams of celebrities (did you know she’s buddies with Lea Michele and Miley Cyrus? Yep) and green beauty queens in its cute little Baggu bag before its official release. The pack includes her four famed remedies: sinus, stress, sleep, and tension in super concentrated essential oil form.  And it’s limited edition! I am coveting my little samples of sleep and sinus that came with my jaw-clenching tension remedy rollerball, and from how soothing these blends smell, I can only imagine how great the other ones are…

So tell me, have you tried any of these products? What have you been wishing for lately?