Petal & Leaf Plant-Based Fragrances

I was excited to be able to connect with Lara Claassen, founder of Colorado-based natural perfumery Petal & Leaf. Lara worked in the fragrance industry for years, and realized she felt the most connected to projects involving natural ingredients. Thus, Petal & Leaf was born. 

In a time when many mainstream perfumes contain a dozen or more potentially hazardous synthetic chemicals that accumulate in our tissues, disrupt hormones and induce allergies, Petal & Leaf is literally a breath of fresh air.

Lara proudly uses whole, plant-based materials and has a full-disclosure ingredient list for all of her scents. Her online shop offers seven different, 4 milliliter roll-on scents.

The Orange Blossom and Jasmine fragrance I tried contained: fractionated coconut oil, orange peel oil, bergamot, mandarin peel oil, jasmine absolute, petigrain, ho wood, lemon peel oil, bitter orange oil, neroli absolute, and geranium. It’s a lovely, subtle, citrus and floral scent that I’ve already worn through multiple seasons. It’s also perfect for throwing in your purse and taking on-the-go for a mid-day wrist and neck swipe.

Next up: Rose & Ambrette next time it comes back in stock! 

You can check out Petal & Leaf’s online shop here and follow Lara on Instagram here. All imagery courtesy of Petal & Leaf. 

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ONE PRODUCT // TWO TAKES: Saint Cosmetics’ Naturally Nude Eyeshadow Palette

Excited to present my the first post in a series I’m calling One Product // Two Takes, and my first collaboration with another blogger, the lovely Eli from The Cruelty Free Vanity. Eli is a vegan, animal lover, and a passionate cruelty-free, vegan. Follow her green beauty adventures on her blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel. She always has her finger on the pulse of the best green, vegan, cruelty-free skincare and makeup brands.

It can be tough to imagine what a certain product looks like on different skin tones, especially when the makeup brand doesn’t provide examples. I understand hiring models and photographers and orchestrating photoshoots is not within everyone’s budget. My goal is just to provide just one other point of reference by partnering with another blogger. I purchased a couple of Saint Cosmetics eye palettes (Naturally Nude and Dusk Til Dawn, both pictured in the above photo, left to right), but for today, Eli and I focusing our honest reviews on Naturally Nude. Check out our photographs below and her full review here!

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One of the things that makes Saint Cosmetics’ Naturally Nude a standout for me is that it’s not just a collection of your run-of-the-mill beige or brown shades, which you often get with a nude palette. They’ve incorporated some beautiful terra cotta and pink shades as well, making the five-color selection more unique. There is also a variety of finishes: matte, satin, and frosted finishes, making it easier to create a well-rounded eyeshadow look with just one palette. As you can see from our looks, thanks to our varying skin tones, some of the deeper shadows show up on Eli as more of a vibrant peach pop, while some of those same colors are more subtle on me.

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The shadows’ velvety texture with moisturizing jojoba and sunflower seed oil allow them to blend easily and beautifully, and they also happen to be cruelty-free, gluten-free, and vegan. On a scale of 1-10, I’d rate the pigments and staying power an 8. The quality of your eyeshadow primer is definitely going to play into how the colors stay, look, and blend. I’ve been using Gabriel Cosmetics’ eye primer, which is pretty good, but I think I can probably find something that allows me to do all three better — still experimenting! I love there is no fall-out from this (an major issue I have with 100% Pure eyeshadows for example), so there is no cleanup after application, and I feel confident doing my concealer before eyeshadow application versus needing to do it after.

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Saint Cosmetics’ white, gold, and red angel/devil branding is quirky and memorable. My only complaint about white makeup packaging is that it’s harder to keep looking clean than black, but that’s in no way a deal-breaker for me. But potentially may be why I buy and wear so much black clothing… *reaches for Tide Stick*

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In this particular look, I’m wearing Passionate Peach in the outer corners and blended up over the crease, Envy on the remainder of the lid, Addicted to Love in the crease, Hot to Trot on the brow bone, and Pure in Pink on the inner corners. Curious about what Eli did? Check out her full look here!

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I was lucky enough to get these palettes on sale for $22.99 at Costsco, compared to the $55 price on the Saint Cosmetics website (note: they’re still available on Costco at this discounted price). Combined with shipping from Canada, buying straight from Saint Cosmetics makes it out of my budget, so I’ll be keeping my eye out for continued sales. I’ve been really into the peachy eye look every since I saw Moonlight’s Naomi Harris at the Oscars, so I’d love to scoop up Saint Cosmetics’ Perfect in Peach Palette next time I catch it discounted, as well as try some of their other products. These may be out of my budget at full-price, but if this one product is any indicator of how high-quality the remainder of the line is, Saint Cosmetics will definitely keep my interest.

The Granola Goat: Masking 101

I initially connected with the amazing Liz Cardwell, founder of the The Granola Goat, through social media. I was immediately drawn to her sense of humor, willingness to give back to causes that matter to her, and commitment to providing cruelty-free, vegan products. Liz uses a minimal amount of ingredients in her products, keeping them simple yet effective. No fillers, preservatives, artificial colors, or fragrances are used. And then there’s that logo — adorable, right?

I liked so many products that I tried, but my favorites were the Amazing Face Serum, the Starry Night Face Serum, the Queen of Green Mask and the Let’s Get Glowing Mask. I’ve noticed a clearer, brighter, even complexion with all of these products, which include some of the most antioxidant-rich, fortifying ingredients like red raspberry seed oil (a natural SPF), organic orange peel powder, cold-pressed marula nut oil, and matcha, just to name a few.

The Granola Goat’s face masks are all delivered dry, eliminating the need for preservatives. Plus, that allows us to ultimately decide which liquid we want to mix the mask with, whether that’s regular water, coconut water, molasses, tea, etc.

Knowing that I’m not the only one newer to the art of masking, I reached out to Liz for a little Masking 101 and she very graciously obliged. Read on for her words of masking wisdom below!


 

Hi Liz! Thanks so much for taking the time to enlighten the new maskers. First question: Should I be using a cleanser, exfoliating, or washing my face before I mask?

You don’t have to do anything! A mask will cleanse and gently exfoliate your face. However, I do like to wipe my face with a wet washcloth when masking on a no-makeup day. And I always remove any makeup with an oil cleanse before I mask to make sure the nutrients have a nice clear path to absorption while they’re on my face. I wouldn’t recommend exfoliating right before a mask. Keep your skin fresh on a regular basis, but if you exfoliate and then immediately mask, you might anger your skin – especially if you let your mask dry completely. By the way, if you ever use Midnight Magic and notice a gray residue after rinsing, you’ve not stained your face, you’ve got bits of charcoal clinging to dead skin. A gentle exfoliation afterwards will remedy the problem and you’ll know you need to pay more attention to how often you exfoliate day to day.

In what order should I use products when I’m masking, using products such as toner, serum, moisturizer?

Masking is like a workout for your skin. You’re going to increase circulation and physically manipulate your skin with the mask, all while dosing it with nutrients. If you can, go easy on your face afterward. A quick oil cleanse or toner wipe are both great options to remove any remaining residue, but masking should come first. Drink a big glass of water and apply a light serum to really keep your glow intact.

Do I have to wait until a mask dries before taking it off?

No. In fact, most skin types don’t handle it well when you let your mask completely harden. You’ll want to get as close to 20 minutes of wear as possible without letting your mask completely dry. There are a few ways to do this – you can spritz your face with water periodically while wearing your mask. You can use a clean, untreated sheet mask. If you don’t have any, or don’t want to use disposable products, you can use an old t-shirt. Just cut it to fit your face and add a few holes for your nose and eyes. Then just wet it and lay it over your face once your mask is on (I like to wait a few minutes to let it ‘get set’). This is a super classy option and only recommended for the ultra-eco-chic. 😉

You know I’m all about this ultra-eco-chic t-shirt mask. Do you have a specific brush recommendation for mixing masks?

I use a flat brush that got worked out of my normal makeup use rotation. I highly recommend using a brush to prepare and apply your mask. Your brush doesn’t need to be a particular shape, but you don’t want one that’s too fluffy or it will absorb a lot of the product. Not only is that kind of a waste, but it makes it very difficult to clean.

How do I know the best ingredient to mix the mask with?

I think we need to follow our intuition on this. If you think something sounds good, it’s probably good for your skin. Does a mask mixed with orange juice sound fabulous? Do it! Does a mask mixed with cooled chamomile tea sound divine? Make it happen. All my masks are made to be mixed with plain water, so you don’t have to be adventurous if that doesn’t suit you. But if you do decide to try some kitchen alchemy, just be sure and read the ingredients before you put it on your face. You’re looking for pure and simple, so choose fresh squeezed orange juice instead of o.j. manufactured with “flavor packets” and the likes. My current favorite is cold coconut water.

How often should I be masking?

You can mask everyday. You don’t have to, but you can. You can mask 3 times a day, 3 days a week. It’s up to you and your schedule and your ritual. You will notice a difference in your skin when you mask regularly. I’d say it’s the single biggest thing you can do at home to improve the look of your skin. You’ll never hear anyone say, “My face looks so dull, it must be all the masking.” Mask at least once a week.

Totally, just like you’ll never hear anyone say, “I really shouldn’t have gotten up and gone to that candle-lit yoga class.” Can I apply multiple masks simultaneously? If so, which of your masks are a fit for which part of the face?

You can mask each part of your face separately. It might even be fun! But it’s too much time and effort for most of us. Rather than using 3 masks at one time, use each mask on your whole face daily for 3 days. As far as which fit what parts… Midnight Magic is great for use on areas that need a more astringent touch. That’s likely to be the t-zone. Let’s Get Glowing is specifically for brightening, so use it on cheeks and anywhere else you may have sun damage. Green with Envy and Queen of Green are both just hard core food for your skin. Use them everywhere else.

Should I be applying the mask to my neck as well?

Absolutely! This is a great question to bring up an often neglected subject. Don’t wait until you hit 40 and realize you’ve forgotten to care for your neck all this time (which is what happened to me). Always include your neck in your skin care routine.


*Please note: I was sent complimentary products, but all opinions are my own.

 

Axiology Lipstick: WORTH

ax·i·ol·o·gy: aksēˈäləjē/ noun: the study of the nature of value and valuation, and of the kinds of things that are valuable.

Even better than a lipstick with pure formulations and an array of stunning colors, is a lipstick company that checks both of those boxes and upholds an ethical philosophy. Enter Axiology: founded by Ericka Rodriguez, Axiology is a line of natural, cruelty-free lipsticks made with organic, vegan, non-GMO products.

Lipstick names play off of axiology (the study of the nature of value) with names like “Worth,” “Fundamental,” “Intrinsic,” and “Identity,” also reflecting Axiology’s practices. The company uses ethical ingredients, packaging, and gives back to multiple causes (more on that here). Thus, Axiology stands out in the sometimes superficial world of beauty, and I find their approach inspiring and empowering.

The unusual geometric box packaging, made from materials sourced from Bali from a female-owned, recycled-paper business, helps to cut down on trash around the island. The lipstick comes in a beautiful gold bullet that clicks open and closed, a saving grace for makeup users like me that are constantly in a hurry and on more than one occasion, accidentally leave products open in a makeup bag after using them.

I love red lipsticks — it’s an iconic color after all, but many tend to have unflattering blue undertones on my skin tone. I remember hearing that the best way determine your skin’s undertone is by checking to see if the underside of your wrist has blue or green veins, with blue indicates cooler undertones (brighter reds) are a better fit, and green indicating you’re more suited for warmer undertones (orange and coral shades). With that in mind, I opted for “Worth” a gorgeous red with warmer, orange undertones.

Axiology lipsticks are formulated with ingredients like avocado oil and avocado butter, elderberry, and orange essential oil. I can’t speak for all the shades, but this powerfully vibrant red has a bright citrus smell and feels like a lightweight going on.

In the world of “dirty beauty,” the highest honors you can give lipstick is that a product stays on all day. Well, sure. When a product is loaded with toxic metals, plastics and colorants, it’s bound to last longer. If I was using a natural lipstick that survived through a multi-course dinner, frankly, I’d be suspicious. So I’m okay with the fact that I need to reapply this lipstick every few hours to keep the color going through the day or night. Also noteworthy: the color didn’t feather out the sides of my lips or attach themselves to dry spots like some bright colors tend to do — it just gently faded.

At $28 a pop, Axiology lipsticks are definitely more of an investment. A quick comparison alongside of the other, higher-end, natural lipstick front-runners: Red Apple lipsticks are $23.50 each, 100% Pure are $29 and Nudus comes in as one of the more expensive at $34 a tube. Axiology lands somewhere in-between. Luckily, online shops like Integrity Botanicals offers sample sizes for $3 each so you can try before you buy. I took a risk but going straight to the full-sized product (which I ordered from Good Life’s online shop) and was really happy with my purchase, but I also had a good idea of what I was looking for and what would likely be a fit.

Axiology offers a surprising range of shades — think obsidians, purples, blues, peaches, reds, and everything in between. Just judging from photos and swatches, some seem more pigmented, while others are on the sheer side. I’m thrilled to have found Axiology and to have tried my first product from them, and look forward to checking out more colors as they continually expand their feel-good line.

 

Live Inspired Organics

So you just started making the switch to green products, and before you know it, you have 10 new lipsticks. I know the feeling. I love me some lipsticks too, but what about the rest of your skin?

It’s easy to get makeup-obsessed in the quest to go green. Live-Inspired Organics is a fantastic line of natural body care created by founder Gina Tiber that reminds us to give love to everything. Products come in three different scents: PEACE (vanilla), LOVE (strawberry) and JOY (floral). I had the pleasure of trying out the JOY line, and loved being able to bring the spa experience home with natural products.

JOY Sugar Scrub: Flecks of herbal tea with organic ingredients like hawthorn leaf and flower, rose hips, dandelion leaf, ginkgo, and lemon peel, make up this gentle sugar scrub. Then there’s the powers of pure cane sugar, coconut, sunflower, pure almond, and vitamin E oil. Depending on my mood (and how much time I have), I use this for either a full-body exfoliation or for problem areas like elbows and knees.

JOY Body Velvet: This floral body velvet is addicting. The texture is incomparably light, airy, and whipped. I use it right after the scrub, allowing my skin to drink in the extra moisture. I can’t help but apply it a more than once a day to take in the sweet floral scent and keep my skin healthy and glowing. After the scrub + body velvet combo, my skin is soft for days.

JOY Lip Balm: This lightweight, hydrating lip balm smells like all the good things in life: chocolate, mint, and orange. It’s great as. regular lip balm or as a primer under lipstick to give my lips an extra sheen. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

JOY Organic Tea: This herbal and fruit tea has been the perfect start to my day with ingredients like ginkgo, bilberry, ginger, and lemon peel. I’ve also been using the leaves during facial steaming, an effective way to release toxins trapped under your skin via perspiration, stimulate blood circulation, and moisturize your skin. An easy DIY how-to here

Check out Live-Inspired Organics on Instagram and Facebook and shop their high-quality products here. With the three distinctive scents, there’s something for everyone.

Use my code (theaftrglow) for 20% off of your next purchase. I’ll be trying out their LOVE line next! 

*Please note: I was sent complimentary products, but all opinions are my own.

 

Organical Botanical’s Skincare

Lucky for those living in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, it’s home to Organical Botanical, an herbal apothecary, holistic spa and wellness studio. Luckily for the rest of us, owner Tanya Palazzo’s high-quality, handcrafted products are still available in her online shop. In order to offer clients customized treatments based on their specific skin needs, she began making her own products when she opened her spa eight years ago, using only organic, plant-based ingredients. Clients asked if they could purchase the products she used and the rest is history. It’s a team effort, with Tanya’s husband Nick running the shop and Tanya running the spa.

Tanya’s small-batch, Ayurvedic and herbalism-inspired formulas contain consciously-sourced, organic, wild-crafted, and botanical ingredients, and are free of synthetic preservatives, sulfates, petrochemicals, GMO’s, artificial fragrances, dyes or fillers. The line is much more accessible than most green skincare lines out there, staying within a range of $6-$30.

I’m drawn to their bold, yet minimalist packaging. And from the moment I unscrew a jar or untwist the cap off of a bottle of one of their products, the time and thoughtfulness that went into the product becomes apparent, with the consistency, texture, smell, and effective of each.

Details on select products below:

Calendula Face Cream

With ingredients like rose water, coconut oil, argan oil, marigold, and evening primrose, this cream has been extremely effective in moisturizing my skin, it retains that moisture and glow even 24 hours after application. Only a small amount is needed, as the cream is fairly concentrated. I’ve been using it both day and night.

Cucumber + Aloe Toner

This is a fantastic toner that simultaneously soothes and refreshes my skin, and takes off any leftover makeup and oil after cleansing. The fresh scent reminds of me a beautiful summer day, which is a treat to experience any day, but especially in the middle of winter. Key ingredients include: witch hazel, cucumber, aloe vera, and French lavender.

Eyebright Eye Cream

This is officially my clean skincare replacement for Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado, which I was shocked to find out is rated a 10 on the Think Dirty app. While I’m thrilled with the ingredients in Eyebright, I’m also thrilled about what’s not it in — ingredients that do more harm than good for our skin like: parabens, phthalates, sulfates, silicones, and other toxins.

Instead, Eyebright is formulated with all-natural ingredients like olive oil, beeswax, green coffee extract, and Vitamin E. It’s light enough to use during the day under makeup as well as at night before bed along with the rest of my skincare routine. I have very sensitive eyes and this not only has not caused any irritation at all, but visibly hydrates the skin around my eyes and helps reduce darkness and puffiness.

Cardamom + Ginger Lip Balm

I never thought I’d use “elevated” and “lip balm” in the same sentence. These are two ingredients I feel like I’d only have seen together on the dessert menu of a fine dining restaurant, but here I am putting using them on my lips. I always forget I’m wearing it, which is a good thing, until I realize how soft my lips are thanks to ingredients like ginger root oil, jojoba oil, shea butter, cocoa butter. Adding this to the list of ginger-inspired products I love: ginger candy, ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger tea, and now, ginger + cardamom lip balm.

Follow Organical Botanical on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for product features, spiritual and astrological musings, and more!

*Please note: I was sent complimentary products, but all opinions are my own.

Marin Bee Company’s Detox Masque

The more I explore natural skincare and pay attention to the ingredients used, the easier it is to pick up on particular ones that my skin actually benefits from. I’ve seen some of the most positive changes in my skin with products containing honey, so I had a good feeling about Marin Bee Company’s Detox Masque, packed not only with California wildflower honey, but kaolin clay to draw out impurities, pumpkin enzyme to exfoliate, and colloidal oatmeal to calm the skin.

As long as it’s unpasteurized and hasn’t been treated with heat, honey’s active antioxidants and enzymes alone make it a fantastic addition to skincare, so you can imagine how powerful it is with so many other beneficial ingredient allies. For starters, honey is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial — great for clearing the skin and preventing acne. Antioxidants like chrysin, pinobanksin, catalase, and pinocembrinaid help in the removal of free radicals resulting from dust, pollution, stress, lack of sleep, and weather and assist with tissue regeneration. Honey is a humectant, so it attracts moisture from the air and retains it on the skin, and its gluconic acid exfoliates skin cells without harsh rubbing usually required by exfoliants.

Marin Bee Company’s packaging is stunning. Each box and product has gorgeous floral graphics on it that make me excited to use it every time. They included an adorable insert in the box with fun bee trivia, that also had a beautiful color-in-the-bee graphic. Also worth mentioning: sale of their products helps support their non-profit, Planet Bee Foundation, which helps to repopulate & heighten awareness of the struggling honeybee through education, awareness & stewardship.

Only a thin layer of product is needed for the masque to work. The sweet honey and pumpkin smell seems good enough to eat, and the product easily washes off after 10 minutes. This is different from most masques in that it doesn’t harden as it stays on your face and stays pretty sticky throughout, so be sure to tie your hair back before applying. However, it washes off surprisingly easily, and always leaves my skin soft, smooth, and glowing. Karina, my fantastic contact at Marin Bee Company, let me in on a little insider tip which let me indulge in using this amazing product as much as possible: it can be used as a spot treatment in between maskings. After a few weeks of use, some of the discoloration on my face has evened out and small scars on my face have faded.

I love what this company stands for in terms of supporting an integral species to our struggling ecosystem, and can’t wait to try out more products from their line.

Check out Marin Bee Company here, and make sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook. Thru midnight on Valentine’s Day, they’re offering 25% off their products with the code SelfLove!

*Please note: I was sent a complimentary product, but all opinions are my own.