Product Picks for the Acne-Prone

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Beauty

 

Acne-Prone Featured Image

Ah, acne. Bane of my existence and probably yours too when you decided to read this post. Whether the reasons for acne are fluctuating hormone levels, your diet, stress, or that new product you decided to try out, cleansing and moisturizing your face can be hard to do when you have acne. From the outside at least, your skin might look like a battlefield with mini-volcanoes on your face that threaten eruption all the time!

I find the best way to defuse those acne-volcanoes is through a very gentle, balancing skincare routine. The key is balance. You do not want anything that’s strips your face’s natural oils too much nor do you want something that is overly moisturizing. For instance, I have dry-combination skin on top of acne-prone skin and while I want to moisturize the heck out of my dry patches, I don’t go for products that are overly moisturizing because my combination areas will rebel in the form of acne. Thanks, skin!

(super-cool action movie music.)

Have no fear though! This post is equal parts product recommendation and hopefully helpful tips for you to have a great skincare routine AND also enjoy it without aggravating your acne. If you are curious about any of these products, I encourage you to sample them first and do a patch-test on your skin, before jumping for the full-size! Testing a product out is key – what works for my skin, might not work for yours.

Okay? Go ahead and make the jump!

1. CLEANSE.

Pick: One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil ($38).

One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil

There’s so much to love about One Love Organics products. They’re extremely accessible, packaged beautifully, and made with simple and smart ingredients. I’ve been slowly and silently falling in love with the Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics line. I was initially drawn to the promise that the line promoted “active moisture” for dry skin and ended up loving my purchased products because it balanced my acne-prone skin so well.

The Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil is a great gateway product to the rest of the ED4OLO line. At first, it might not seem like much – it comes out a thick, clear, and lightly fragranced with pineapples, but it wows you when you warm it up on your face and turn it into a milky emulsion with some water. One of my very favorite things to do after a long day is to apply the Cleansing Oil and place a warm towel over my face. Makeup, outside environmental grime, and stress melts away while I breathe in the sweet pineapple fragrance. Sometimes, I can see the stubborn blackheads on my nose disappear too! In the end, I feel clean and comfortable but not squeaky clean like I’ve been stripped away of all my natural oils.

I love it when a product is both versatile and able to produce noticeable results. Through near-daily use of the Vitamin B Cleansing Oil, I’ve been seen a lot less cystic acne and more happy skin. The Cleansing Oil is the best and most gentle daily cleanser I have ever used and it makes me look forward to cleansing my face. Thanks for making such a great product, One Love Organics!

 

2. EXFOLIATE.

Pick: One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Masque ($39. Pictured below is the discover size which retails for $12).

One Love Organics Brand New Day

One Love Organics Brand New Day

Raw Honey and Brand New Day Mask

Another great thing about Brand New Day: turning it into a mask! Mix it with a teaspoon of raw honey of your choosing and leave on for at least 15 minutes so the honey and pineapple enzymes can work their magic. Soft and glowing skin guaranteed!

Ingredients: Organic Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Organic Pisum Sativum (Sweet Pea) Flour, Sodium Cocoyl Glycinate, Organic Ananas Comosus (pineapple) fruit extract, Sodium Myristoyl Glutamate, proprietary natural and organic fragrance compounds

Exfoliating might be the hardest step to figure out when you have acne. You want to exfoliate before make-up application or just to get rid of dry patches but not so much that you’ll make your acne bumps bleed or scar. The first thing – using scrubs that have hard crystalline ingredients (sugar, salt) on your face is not a good idea. Even more so, exfoliating too hard with sugar and salt crystals causes minor abrasions on delicate facial skin. So I would say, save the salt and sugar scrubs for the rest of your body, and instead use One Love Organics Brand New Day for your face. I came across Nicolle Mackinnon’s review of Brand New Day on No More Dirty Looks where she loved its gentle exfoliating action for her sensitive skin and I thought, hey, this might work for my acne-prone skin too!

I’m really glad I made the jump. Brand New Day has been my good skin buddy for the past month and I’m distressed that my cute travel size one is almost finished. When you first sprinkle Brand New Day in your hand, you have to marvel at how soft the sweet pea flour grains feels in your hands and then you smell that amazing pineapple fruit extract fragrance right after. Only a few drops of water is needed to turn Brand New Day into a creamy, foamy, exfoliant in the palm in your hands and better yet, a teaspoon of raw honey to make it into the best facial mask ever.  The exfoliating granules in Brand New Day are incredibly fine – I used it on a recent flare-up of cystic/hormonal acne and didn’t experience any irritation or bleeding at all.

If you want so badly to exfoliate even though you have a face full of acne, go gentle and try Brand New Day.

 

3. TREATMENT.

Pick: Osmia Organics Spot Treatment ($20).

Osmia Organics Spot Treatment

Ingredients: organic evening primrose oil and essential oils of lavender*, cajeput*, lemon*, parsley, thyme, cypress*, and rosemary CO2* (*organic).

This is it. Osmia Organics Spot Treatment is the one. It’s cute, conveniently packaged in a rollerball, has an ingredient list that reads like an aromatic herbal and spice bouquet – and most importantly, it works without giving you that harsh, tingly feeling. I’ve tried it on all the different kinds of acne I get: cystic acne that have bursted (gross, I know), stress-related acne, and hormonal acne. I find that the Spot Treatment works best on cystic acne and stress-related acne for me. Consistently dabbing at them with the Spot Treatment really speeds up the healing process and I worry less about acne scarring. I already have too much of that, thanks.

It’s the stuff my pimply 16 year-old self could only dream about. I have been burned in the past with every acne treatment you can think of – salicylic acid/benzoyl peroxide creams prescribed by my doctor, witch hazel or tea tree treatments, and even dabbing toothpaste on pimples which my college roommate swore by. I’m not lucky enough to escape the clutches of acne as an adult but I’m so glad I have Osmia’s Spot Treatment to help.

I think it’s important to note that the Spot Treatment smells incredible – it’s very strong and hits your nose instantly but my mouth waters at the combined fragrance of parseley, thyme, and rosemary essential oils in it. The Spot Treamtent is like an acne-busting bouquet garni for my face and I don’t think I can live without it anymore.

And finally, an anecdote to end all anecdotes: I convinced my toothpaste-slathering roommate to give Osmia’s Spot Treatment a try and she loves it enough to buy her second bottle. So there’s that!

 

4. MOISTURIZE.

Pick: Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil ($25).

MMT Face Oil

Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil

Ingredients: *hempseed oil, *jojoba oil, *sesame oil, essential oils of *carrot seed, *juniper, *patchouli & *vetiver (*organic ingredient)

Meow Meow Tweet Face Oil is hands-down the best facial oil for acne-prone skin I have ever tried. I should know because I’m currently on my third bottle and close to finishing it!

As you can see in the picture above, the evergreen color of the face oil is just as pleasing as Meow Meow Tweet’s design aesthetics. At the very beginning of trying out this face oil, I was taken aback by the fragrance of it – it’s powerful, earthy, and grassy from the juniper, patchouli, and vetiver essential oils. It’s something I’ve grown to love and I look forward to the scent because it’s just so energizing. If you’re a big fan of earthy scents over floral ones, this is the face oil for you! Despite the strong scent, the face oil sinks into skin very fast and doesn’t clog up pores. The hempseed oil, jojoba oil, and sesame oil base is so lightweight and the face oil disappears into skin almost instantly. Even the dry parts of my face is happily moisturized. And even better, hempseed oil has natural sun protection properties – it has a SPF of 6! It might not be enough SPF for a long day in the sun but it can’t hurt to have some kind of protection.

Meow Meow Tweet’s Face Oil is simple and uncomplicated in a good way. Sometimes, I switch it up and go for a facial serum that has a more complicated ingredient list but my skin keeps telling me to go back to this one. And when I listen to my skin, I get less acne.

 

BONUS product recommendations:

If you have particularly confused skin that desperately needs balance, I would suggest these two products:

1. I’ve been getting my external vitamin fix through One Love Organics Vitamin C Facial Serum ($68). I can’t say if I’ve been getting less acne solely because of this Vitamin C serum but my skin is incredibly happy and balanced! I like layering this facial serum (it really has more of a thick gel-like texture than an oil-one) after cleansing and letting it sink in before I apply extra drops of another facial serum on top. I like that the Vitamin C serum locks in moisture so that my skin stays hydrated longer than just applying facial serums without anything else.

2. I think from my experience of my sample of Osmia Organics Active Gel Toner ($58), it serves a very similar function to the One Love Organics Vitamin C Facial Serum. It’s also has a gel texture and the hyaluronic acid in it keeps my dry skin moist and plump for a long time. The Active Gel Toner worked really well under makeup and kept me looking dewy and fresh-faced. I’ve already dug out every last bit of the Active Gel Toner from my little sample container and I think I need the full size soon!

Q. Please feel free to chime in the comment section and tell me your favorite skincare products for your acne-prone skin. What works for you and what doesn’t? Have you tried any of the products I recommend? Let me know!

 

 

 

Green Beauty Adventures: A Trip to Meow Meow Tweet

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Adventures

If you have been following me for awhile, I think I make no secret that I am completely in love with everything Meow Meow Tweet makes. Evidence in the form of written words and photos can be seen herehere, and here. But, I don’t think I can take nearly enough pictures to show you how so many of Meow Meow Tweet products find themselves in my routine. My skin adores them.

From the sweet packaging, to the organic plant-based ingredients, and the affordable prices, Meow Meow Tweet has created a line of products that keeps me wanting to try everything they make. And it’s absolutely thrilling that I see so many other green beauty enthusiasts discovering Meow Meow Tweet and feeling that way too.

I have to be completely honest here. The best part about being a green beauty blogger (other than trying out products), is the very excited, very capslock-y e-mail exchanges with brands. I love being able to connect with a brand and let them know what I loved about their products, if I don’t get the chance to review them here. But I never really expect to meet the faces behind the brands and talk to them in person. And so, I nearly deleted the e-mail conversation between Tara and I out of surprise and excitement when she invited me to pop into their studio and have tea with her and Jeff.

Meow Meow Tweet

(Current Meow Meow Tweet favorites: Repair Balm, Facial Oil, and Body Oil in Lavender Lemongrass.)

I made my way from Bensonhurst to Meow Meow Tweet’s new studio in Bushwick on a very cold and blustery day. I was cold and wanted shelter so badly, I nearly bowled over Jeff as I made my way in and he made his way out. Fun fact: I’m really good at making introductions. After getting inside and successfully not hurting anybody, I sat down to hot tea and vegan macaroons. Yum!

As much as I am intimidated to talk to “very important beauty people,” I didn’t feel that way at all chatting with Jeff and Tara. I think I had one of the most funny and refreshing conversations ever. And we managed to talk about nearly everything: how amazing the green beauty community is, makeup and being bad it (Tara and I), people who have enviously good skin (Jeff), food, and cats of course. More fun facts: Jeff and Tara also create, sculpt, and display their art when they have spare time! I already thought they were cool for making vegan skincare but they just got infinitely cooler in my books. 

MMT: Jeff + Tara

(The cool cats behind Meow Meow Tweet. Jeff and Tara.)

Tara + Me

(Photographic proof that I’m not an internet bot! Taken by Tara and seen on MMT’s instagram.)

I got the official studio tour of course. There are lots of long wooden tables to work on and boxes were stacked here and there. And despite the industrial-like setting, there was lots of lovely sunlight streaming through the windows of the studio. I got to see the shelf of essential oil jugs (yep, jugs!), a huge box of shea butter, and rows and rows of their colorful labels.

And though I loved every inch of the neat studio, I think my top favorite part of Meow Meow Tweet’s studio would be the soap shelf as you can see in the picture below. I stood there and smelled all of them while Tara described to me in detail what each kind of bar was supposed to be. In-between sniffs, I began to wonder which one I should try after I finish my bar of Grapefruit Mint soap at home. My answer after being in olfactory heaven: all of them. But especially, the Lavender Lemon bar because I love citrus-fragranced soaps the most!

(Rows and rows of delicious-smelling soaps waiting to be wrapped up and delivered to you.)

(Rows of delicious-smelling soaps waiting to be wrapped up and delivered to you.)

I am beyond grateful that I had the chance to meet the duo behind Meow Meow Tweet. I came away with the feeling that so much love and smart-thinking goes into this brand and I’m in awe that Jeff and Tara could craft such great products in their little studio. I remember Tara telling me that sometimes, because Meow Meow Tweet is really just two people, they would end up whipping a batch of products right there to-order. So what you end up getting is incredibly fresh (a word that usually applies to food) and made-with-care skincare products. And it’s even more exciting to hear Jeff and Tara talk about the products they have in development and whose formulas they are still tweaking. I absolutely cannot wait to see and try what new products they come up with!

In the end, what you should have gotten from reading all of this is: Meow Meow Tweet is just fantastic organic and vegan skincare made by two very funny, artistic, and good people. So, take the plunge and check them out!

 

The sincerest thanks to Jeff and Tara for letting me visit their new studio. I was a fan before, but now I’m an even bigger one.

Meow Meow Tweet’s incredible vegan and small-batched products can be purchased here: meowmeowtweet.myshopify.com

Ecopique Box Picks

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Beauty

About a month ago, I was recruited to take part in a very cool pilot program of a beauty blogger box service (cue spy movie music). Ecopique‘s mission is to make it easier for bloggers to find interesting green beauty products and connect them with the brands who make them. Ecopique is definitely something to check out if you’re an interested blogger so keep your social media ears perked for when they officially launch!

I think I might be the most difficult kind of agent (cough) green beauty person to please. After thorough perusal of a product’s ingredient list,  smell, texture, functionality, and price are all things that need to be agreeable to me too.  There are two products out of the six in the box that fit my product criteria well and I feel good about sharing them with you.

Pick No. 1: Primal Pit Paste : Thyme & Lemongrass

Primal Pit Paste

Primal Pit Paste Uncapped

From the name alone, Primal Pit Paste sounds like a winner. And by looking at the ingredient list (shea butter, arrowroot powder, coconut oil), I knew it would work well on me and I dug into with gusto! The texture of the deodorant is lightly creamy, not gritty at all, and blends in easily like a moisturizing balm when applied. Another thing I like about the Primal Pit Paste, is that the thyme and lemongrass fragrance makes me smell like clean, fresh herbs even after sweating profusely.

Honestly, it won’t replace my favorite natural deodorant just yet, but I like the formula of the Primal Pit Paste and it could be my backup option for deodorant needs.

But can we talk about how cool is that Primal Pit Paste makes different formulas (with varying amounts of baking soda) of their natural deodorants? They have an unscented, kids, light, regular, sensitive, and strong formula! If you’re one of those people who swear off wearing baking soda-based natural deodorant because it might cause rashes or irritation, the sensitive Primal Pit Paste might end up working for you. Lots of kudos to Primal Pit Paste for going above and beyond as a brand, making natural deodorants that can work with just about everyone’s individual body chemistry.

Take the plunge: www.primalpitpaste.com

Pick No. 2: Angel Face Botanicals : Lavender & Aloe Balancing Facial Toner

Angel Face Botanicals Lavender & Aloe Balancing Facial Toner

Angel Face Botanicals Lavender & Aloe Balancing Facial Toner Ingredients

For its practical usage, this aloe juice toner works as a good base product for my moisturizer. Somehow, my skin is just happier when I take a little bit of time to mist or apply a toner before I put on my facial oil. I get less dry flaky patches and the facial oil sinks in better.

Because I’m so sensitive to the experience particular scents and fragrances give me, I absolutely have to love a toner’s fragrance before I purchase it. I test and test until I find one that matches my skin type and also smell good. Angel Face Botanical’s Lavender & Aloe Toner has a very strong sweet and floral fragrance – I can smell it lingering cloyingly in my room after application. But what keeps me from dismissing the toner is the hint of organic wild blueberry extract in the toner’s finish. I misted the toner multiple times and disliked the overall smell but that blueberry extract keeps drawing me back in. I’m torn!

I just can’t love the fragrance of this particular toner. But I won’t deny it – the ingredient list looks great, the price too ($10 for a 2.2 oz bottle), and works well with my skin! Alas, it’s a great toner but my nose disagrees.

Take the plunge: www.angelfacebotanicals.com

Dealing With Green Product Sticker Shock

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Honest Talk
mac and ilia

(I promise the words below will be less dramatic than this picture.)

I have to admit, I nod along and hum in sympathetic agreement every time someone tells me they thought about subscribing to a “green” or clean beauty routine, but they just cannot get past the sticker shock of how expensive green products are.

Just recently, I gave my dad’s female co-workers a couple of unused samples of natural and organic products that they ended up loving. And when one of them looked up the full-size product to see if they could purchase it, they were shocked at how expensive it was! I don’t know exactly what product they looked up, but I can imagine this happens a lot when people compare green products to non-green ones.

After many a conversation with people that ends with a line like: “but green products are so expensive,” my heart sinks a bit because I wish I could tell them there are so many benefits to a non-toxic beauty routine that the pros will eventually outweigh the initial con. I try to be kind though. I absolutely understand why it’s the prices of green products, not the effectiveness or the ingredients of green products, which people balk at. Do I wince, every time my best friend whips out her MAC lipstick ($15) instead of a natural alternative like Ilia Beauty’s organic lipsticks ($25)? Yes, I honestly do wince. But I also understand that my friend is a cash-strapped graduate student (which I used to be too), and that saving a few dollars here and there does make a difference in the way she lives.

However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when it comes to green beauty. I have a few friendly and practical tips on how to deal with green sticker shock. You can follow just one or a mixture of some depending on how you think it works with your particular budget and lifestyle!

Here are my tips:

  •  Choose a local skincare apothecary that crafts good quality products without toxic ingredients over drugstores like CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid.

It is important to understand, not all of your local skincare brands will be affordable as compared to drugstore ones. You may have to look more carefully and choose one that you can develop a good relationship with. I have my own favorite brand that I keep coming back to because they are just so affordable and they make amazing vegan, organic, small-batched products that I am in love with.

  • Go big, but smart, if you can’t do local and small.

Don’t need a $40 shampoo? That’s okay. But you can think about choosing Whole Food’s relatively clean and natural shampoos (Whole Food’s own 365 Shampoo currently costs $4.99 in my local store) over Suave, VO5, or even Herbal Essences shampoos. Can’t stomach the idea of purchasing $100 facial oils either? Alright. I have used very affordable facial oils from brands like Acure Organics and Badger Balm, also found at Whole Foods, that are under $20 and wonderful at getting the job of moisturizing done. And if you’re averse to purchasing things at big box companies like Whole Foods, find a way to get bulk  multi-purpose organic ingredients like coconut oil, jojoba oil, or shea butter. Go big a different way.

  • Be a green DIY beauty.

I can’t say I’m much of a DIY-er, but I do occasionally make my own dry shampoo because I already have all of the ingredients in my kitchen pantry! If you think beauty starts in the kitchen or at home, go for it! Make your own facial or body moisturizers and scrubs without paying extra money for fancy packaging and labels. One of my other good friends, who is curious about green beauty but finds it expensive, loves using Trader Joe’s organic extra virgin coconut oil as a body moisturizer. Just make sure to be smart about the ingredients in your DIY recipe and follow green DIY blogs that show you how to do it right.

If you are already a green beauty convert, maybe these are the things you need to say to people when they are convinced green products are too expensive for them to buy. And for those who are still skeptical, think about it! You don’t have to go green all at once but carefully choosing some green or natural alternatives just might be the thing for you to deal with sticker shock.

Special Note: Please do try to read all of the comments made on this post! There are a great number of comments written by green beauty bloggers and enthusiasts who bring up amazing points that I didn’t include in my piece.

Californian Body Love: Hermosa Beach Soap Co.

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Body

From the mounds of snow on the sidewalk to the dark wintry skies, Brooklyn is probably not the best place to be right now. But nothing cheers me up like a good bar of soap! And luckily for me, Hermosa Beach Soap Co.‘s motto is that they make incredibly happy soaps and all-natural body products. I was even more delighted to find that the Hermosa Beach Soap Co. also makes their very own natural Laundry Powders! How cool is that?

Firstly, I was immediately taken with the cute woven bags, simple ingredients, and the delicious scent of the bar soap. The Orange County Soap is described as a sweet orange soap but I found that the anise essential oil was the most dominant fragrance in the soap. The soap is more spicy and energizing than I thought it would be but I love it! The soap is perfect for a morning shower when you need a little extra kick of aromatherapy to wake you up. And the in-shower experience is just as good. The soap provides a nice silky lather from the trio of oils (olive, coconut, palm) that does not strip away all of your natural body oils.

Orange County Soap Ingredients: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil (sustainable resource), sodium hydroxide, oatmeal, sweet orange essential oil, anise essential oil, madder root.

Hermosa Beach Soap Co. - Orange County Soap & 100% Natural Laundry Powder

Natural Almond Laundry Powder and one happy bar of Orange County sweet orange soap.

Hermosa Beach Soap Co. - Redondo Beach Body Balm & Pasa Robles Lip Balm

Creamy balms side-by-side. Left to Right: Redondo Beach Body Balm, Pasa Robles Lip Balm.

Hermosa Beach Soap Co. - Redondo Beach Body Balm

Look at that luscious texture!

I usually prefer body oils over body balms in my everyday body care routine but this winter saw me digging into the Redondo Beach Body Balm with gusto! The balm breaks easily with gentle fingers and is naturally fragranced with one of the most refreshing essential oils ever, litsea cubeba essential oil. Litsea Cubeba essential oil (sometimes known as May Chang) is sweet and citrusy, and smells like a mixture of lemon, lime, and even lemongrass. The fragrance of the body balm and creamy texture makes it perfect for stubborn dry elbows, ankles, and feet.

Redondo Beach Body Balm Ingredients: shea butter, olive oil, beeswax, litsea cubeba essential oil.

The Pasa Robles Lavender Lip Balm is stiffer than the Redondo Beach Body Balm, so you have to rub your fingers on the lip balm surface to warm it up and transfer the nourishing olive oil, sweet almond oil, and lavender essential oil blend onto your lips. The lip balm is incredibly soothing (yay for lavender!) and I love putting some on the rich balm before I go to sleep so that my lips are happily moisturized at night.

Pasa Robles Lavender Lip Balm Ingredients: beeswax, shea butter, olive oil, sweet almond oil, lavender essential oil.

A little note: Interested Vegan readers should note that the Body Balm and Lip Balm are not vegan products because they do contain beeswax in the ingredients list, but the Orange County soap is vegan!

Hermosa Beach Soap Co. incredibly happy soaps, body balms, and laundry powders can be purchased at their website.

*Samples were generously provided by Hermosa Beach Soap Co. but all opinions are my own.