A green smoothie for your hair!

Greetings to all!

It’s been a while since I last posted… but here I am!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I’m a fan of Graydon Moffat, creator and founder of Canada’s all-natural skincare brand, Clinical Luxury.  She was in my neck of the woods on Father’s Day (June 19th) weekend, so I had the immense privilege of meeting her (and hugging her!!!).  She is absolutely amazing, extremely smart and she can dissect a food or beauty related product like nobody’s business! I had such a blast with her; we obviously chatted about her brand. There isn’t a product in her entire line that I don’t gush over! It’s so hard to pick a favorite, it seems unfair somehow, like picking a favorite child!!

Now, in my last post, I mentioned my hair transition from relaxed (chemically straightened) to natural (my God-given hair), which is tightly curled, kinky and coily. So, let’s talk about my hair’s new best friend, Clinical Luxury’s  Hair Smoothie* . I keep reaching for it, I’ll find any excuse just to put some in my hair!

 

A treat for your hair and your senses!

Essentially, the Hair Smoothie, which has the color green (of course!) is nutrition for your hair and scalp in the form of a detangler/conditioner. It’s packed with ingredients that keeps your locks healthy. It works amazingly for ALL hair types, even for my tight kinky curls and coils. My hair is also extremely damaged, weak and dry, but this gem is bringing LIFE to it !

Here’s what makes the Hair Smoothie SO great for your hair…

As you may have guessed by the name of the product, it is to your hair what a green smoothie is to your body.

Let’s pretend we’re creating our very own green smoothie, what do we need to make it as healthy as possible? First, we need the usual suspects (fruit and vegetables), then the superfoods and we finish with the add-ons (they make the smoothie so much better). Now, let’s make a hair smoothie!

  • The star ingredient of this product is…drum roll, please: the broccoli seed oil (also found in one of my favorite facial cream, The Green Cream, another hit from Clinical Luxury)! There’s hope for you, if you used to toss your broccoli on the side of the plate! We all know that dark leafy greens like broccoli provide lots of vitamins and when consumed as part of a healthy diet.  Broccoli seed oil, applied on hair,  promotes hair growth while strengthening the hair follicles. Now, listen up ladies! We all want healthy shiny hair, right?! Well, broccoli seed oil naturally imparts sheen and luster that is similar to the one silicones give (try to stear clear of those, especially the non-solubles ones!). However, the latter coats your hair shaft, only giving you the illusion that it’s healthy and shiny, while weighing down your hair. As for the former, it actually feeds your hair, leaving it smooth without casting harmful chemicals. Let’s not forget the jojoba, coconut and sunflower seed oils who assist in conditioning and protecting the hair by sealing in the moisture.

 

  • Matcha, known to be one of the most powerful green tea, is packed with antioxidants and polyphenols. It also has Vitamin B which, applied to the scalp and hair, translates in panthenol, good for strengthening hair and repairing split ends. Chlorophyll, cleanses and detoxifies, stimulating blood circulation to the scalp, thus allowing oxygen flow to the follicles. Some even say it slows the progression of grey hair.

 

  • A beautiful selection of essential oils, such as rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage, stimulate the scalp, as well as encourage hair growth. Thanks to these essential oils, a fresh herbal scent lingers every time I use it! Full disclosure? I sometimes use it as a hand lotion!! (I’m impossible!)
The lavishing Hair Smoothie by Clinical Luxury by Nature

The lavishing Hair Smoothie by Clinical Luxury

Let me count the ways!

Clinical Luxury defines the Hair Smoothie as a “detangler/conditioner“.  Oh, it is SO much more! Ok, so, using it as a hand cream may not be wise, I admit! Still, there are many ways to use it,  depending on your hair’s needs.

5 ways (and counting!) to use the Hair Smoothie…

  • Co-wash or cleansing conditioner (If, like me, you have dry hair and scalp, a co-wash can be a great alternative to a shampoo.  However, keep in mind that clean hair promotes healthy hair, and the sure way to achieve that is through shampooing regularly, preferably with sulfate free shampoos. I alternate between co-washing and shampooing);
  • Detangler/Conditioner (it gives a fair amount of slip, free of silicones, but if you have very texturized coarse hair, you might need something heavier, with butters in it);
  • Leave-In treatment (I have thin/fine hair, its lightweight consistency makes it an ideal leave-in for me);
  • Deep conditioner (I like dense deep conditioner, so I add a bit of castor oil, after 30 minutes with heating cap, it gives me amazing results, the heat allows the smoothie to penetrate into the hair shaft);
  • Moisturizer (on damp or dry hair, followed by a lightweight oil, such as jojoba, argan or olive oil to seal in moisture. It leaves no greasy residue or white cast on the hair).

 

Ingredients: purified water (aqua), distearoylethyl dimonium chloride, coco-caprylate, polyglyceryl-2 dipolyhydroxystearate, vegetable glycerin, cetearyl alcohol, hydrolyzed jojoba esters, jojoba esters, lauryl glucoside, glycerin, broccoli (brassica oleracea italica) seed oil, coconut (cocos nucifera) oil,sunflower (helianthus annuus) seed oil, olive (olea europaea) fruit oil,matcha (camellia sinensis leaf) green tea, vitamin e (tocopherol), glyceryl caprylate, glyceryl undecylenate, citric acid, chlorophyll, parsley (carum petroselinum) oil, sage (salvia sclarea) oil, rosemary (rosmarinus officinalis) oil,thyme (thymus vulgaris) oil, lemon (citrus medica limonum) oil and nothing else!

Price: 24$ CAD/240 ml (shown in picture) ; 55$ CAD/ 1 litre

Final thought…

The Hair Smoothie is definitely an essential and a staple in my hair care regimen. Using it has made my detangling session a breeze. Also, I’ve noticed less shedding and breakage. I do have many other conditioners, but for some reason, I always reach for my beloved Hair Smoothie. If it ain’t broke…  I just trust that my hair benefits from its regular use, especially with such great botanical ingredients. My main goal is to achieve healthy hair, and healthy hair grows! So, move over, Rapunzel !

Please, share any thoughts or comments below. If you find other ways to use the Hair Smoothie, please let me know!

Blessings,

Arabesque xo

*gifted sample

Giving Back series: Botanical Me

Greetings everyone!

Botanical Me sisters

Jill and Carly: Botanical Me

I started this Giving Back series because philanthropy is inherently part of my value system. I find it fascinating to learn about how men and women of the Green Beauty community use their platform to help those in need. Today, I want to share the mission of two humble and selfless women, who, in reality, are heroines of the modern day (they just don’t wear capes!).  I’m so proud and honored to feature the work of my friends and sisters, two beautiful souls:  Jill Hansey and Carly Lodkey,  sisters and founders of  Botanical Me.

Their brand offers natural, plant-based beauty and body care that heal, inspire and most of all, give back! Botanical Me is a beautiful range of beauty oils, pure essential oils, lip balms, and pulse-point roll-ons. In addition, the brand offers gift items such as chocolate, tea, and honey imported from Africa. Each skincare product leaves your skin protected and nourished, while your spirits are calmed and renewed. Through Botanical Me, Jill and Carly literally save lives: they have a strong partnership with Malaria No More, an organization dedicated to eradicate malaria in the world. The “ME” in Botanical Me actually has a double meaning. First, ME stands for Malaria Eradication, which is connected to their charity work to stop malaria deaths. Then, the “me” is also about a person’s journey to better health and awareness of toxins and chemicals in beauty products.

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Botanical Me’s range of products.

How it all began…

Jill and Carly had already been operating their retail store in San Diego for 8 years before Botanical Me was born. One evening Jill was having a conversation about malaria with her husband, who is a native of Nigeria and a malaria survivor. She had a “light bulb” moment that she and her sister could use their business as a platform to help people.

It is wonderful! We’re honored to be a part of their charity and contribute to their life-saving work.  There are so many blessings:  a broader world view, greater humility, increased empathy, a feeling of being part of something bigger, meeting other cool people from all walks of life who are also inspired to make a change. Just thinking that something we have done has saved even one child’s life and given a family a healthier tomorrow is beyond words.

– Jill & Carly, founders of Botanical Me

What is malaria ?

iStock malaria kills

Credits: iStock

Malaria is a blood disease caused by a mosquito bite (Plasmodium parasite) and can be transmitted from person to person. It affects the lives of over 200 million people around the world every year.

Symptoms: fever, headaches, vomiting, if treatment is not administered, illnesses such as anemia, hypoglycemia and death can occur.

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Credits: MalariaNoMore.org (logo)

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Child with severe malaria symptoms. Credits: Standard-Tribune.com

According to MalariaNoMore.org:

  • Malaria is one of the top 3 killers in the world;
  • Every 60 seconds, a child dies of malaria, it means 453 000 children per year, so that’s 1 300 kids who have their lives cut short every day because of a mosquito bite!

Why it also concerns you…

If you think you’re safe, and therefore think to yourself it isn’t your problem because your country isn’t a malaria risk zone, think again! This matter concerns ALL of us. In 2013, there were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide, mostly women and children. Although malaria was eliminated from the US in 1951, MNM  makes a census of 1500 cases annually caused by returning travelers.  Because of what we’ve been shown in the media, we often associate Africa to poverty and death.  However, it is a beautiful continent, the second largest one in the world actually.  Africa offers such a wide range of natural resources, some of them, such as shea butter, are included in our coveted green beauty products. It’s our duty and responsibility to protect that land and its people.

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Jill in Africa

There is hope!

So, you know the bad news about malaria, it’s lethal.  Now, onto the good news, malaria is not only curable, but it is a preventable disease! MalariaNoMore.org concurs that over the last decade, malaria mortality rates have fallen 58% among children under the age of 5.  That’s good, but the goal is to complete eradicate malaria. Jill and Carly often travel to Africa to import natural ingredients and they donate 10% of their profits to Malaria No More. The proceeds directly impact the daily lives of those they seek to help. Here’s how…

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Mosquito nets prevent from getting bitten at night. Image: Wikipedia

The funds go towards: 

  • providing diagnostic tests;
  • buying medicine and treatment; did you know that a full course of malaria treatment costs only 1$ and can cure a child in 1 to 3 days?
  • buying mosquito nets; don’t forget that malaria is caused by a mosquito bite, and the Plasmodium parasite bites at night between 9pm and 5am, so nets are an important prevention tool;
  • creating education programs.

The sister duo chose to partner with MNM because this organization has focused strategy and the widespread government, media and pharmaceutical relationships in Africa that are needed.

Why helping Botanical Me is very personal to me…

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I’m getting prepped for a femoral venous catheterization, before an apheresis treatment.

I was born with a genetic blood disease commonly called Sickle Cell anemia (SCA). Essentially, unlike normal round/oval red blood cells, mine are shaped like crescent moons, semicircular (hence the name “sickle”, a sickle is a tool made with a crescent-shaped blade). Normal red cells travel easily through the blood vessels to take the oxygen to every part of the body.  However, my sickled cells get stuck in the blood vessels, which means the oxygen doesn’t get through. This causes a lot of deep chronic pain and it damages my bones, my muscles and my organs.  Sickle cell anemia is a disease mostly diagnosed in patients of African descent.

So, what does that have to do with malaria?

While my illness can be debilitating, it confers me somewhat of a protection against malaria. How? It is very complex. Researchers are still trying to understand the mechanisms that create SCA patients’s resistance against malaria.  Let’s just say that my sickled red blood cells are not “healthy” or viable enough for the parasite to implant and lodge itself in my bloodstream.

Final thought…

Every time I think about Jill and Carly, I am reminded that this life is not about my ego, but that it’s about finding my purpose and answering my higher calling. When they are not are not busy saving lives, the Botanical Me duo is learning more about the wonders of nature. Women like them make the world go round! I urge you to support their brand and their cause, your kindness will save lives. When you purchase a product from the brand, you’re taking care of yourself (at a budget-friendly price, might I add), but more importantly, you are saving a child, a woman or a man’s life. Please give back!

 

Until next time, take care!

Alex xo

To support MalariaNoMore, click here. Let’s defeat malaria! World Malaria Day is April 25th 2015.

Note: all information and statistics on malaria are sourced from MalariaNoMore and CDC

Images, unless stated otherwise, are courtesy of BotanicalMe.

Winter Essentials: Canadian style!

Greetings beauties!

Is it still cold out?!  I’ve got you covered! I’m a proud Canadian …mostly in the summer!  I am amazed at what our skin endures in the winter: rigorous winds, snow, sun, pollution, etc.  One of the primary functions of the skin is to protect us from the environment, light, infections, injuries, and any other threat.  So, in return, we must treat and protect it against all the exterior aggressors. I’ve selected two Canadian brands I’ve thoroughly tested the last few months.  If anyone knows about cold weather, it’s us Canadians!  I’m very proud of their products, they have passed the test of performance with flying colors! You will get to read more of these brands in my Giving Back series in the weeks to come.  Meanwhile, I wanted to share the products that helped keep my skin in good shape.

Province Apothecary

Founder: Julie Clark

Website: http://www.provinceapothecary.comProvince Apothecary Ultra Hydrating skin kit Pic Monkey

I consider Province Apothecary a “cure-all” brand; most of the products are suited for the most sensitive and reactive skins. Whether you have acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or any other skin ailment, you can bet P.A. (Province Apothecary) can help you.  However, you don’t necessarily have to have skin troubles.  Who doesn’t want fresh looking, healthy and glowing skin? I totally trust the integrity and the purity of the fresh, tried-and-true ingredients used in these products. Founder, Julie Clark, has dealt with her share of eczema and skin allergies all her life, she knows first-hand what works. She’s a certified holistic esthetician and an aromatherapist. Her brand takes “natural” and “organic” to a whole new level. She is truly committed to creating the best skincare products, by using high quality, certified organic, biodynamic and wildcrafted ingredients sourced from our Canadian provinces, hence the name of the brand, “Province Apothecary”.  For instance, she uses organic seaweed from Nova Scotia, maple syrup from Quebec (my province!) or beeswax from Alberta. And I love all the self-explanatory names of the products: rejuvenating+ hydrating serum, protecting+restoring face balm, detoxing+clarifying clay mask, etc. There’s so much to be explored in Province Apothecary! Here’s a bit of it!

Essentials  Province Apothecary Pic Monkey

The name says it all.  I remember using this when the cold days were just upon us. I felt an immediate relief which I love!  I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, because I’m accustomed to long-term results. I also thought the texture would be too light for the winter, but, as I continued using it, my skin felt less tight and itchy, as it often does when left untreated. I like to massage this serum on my face and I pat gently under my eyes (but watch it because there are essential oils).  It’s a great serum to use day and/or night. It’s packed with rich oils and antioxidants, so it’s great to use before going outside.  I let sink it and then add the Protecting+Restoring Face Balm. You can’t help but love this one!  A little goes a long way, as always, make sure you use with a good toner/mist.

Ingredients: Apricot kernel oil*, Pumpkin seed oil*, Jojoba Seed Oil*, Avocado oil*, Grape seed oil*, Pomegranate oil*, Raspberry seed oil*, Sea buckthorn oil*, Calendula oil*, Rosehip oil*, Borage oil*, GMO-free Vitamin E, Therapeutic essential oils of: Neroli, Frankincense, German chamomile, and Rose otto.*Certified organic ingredient

Price: 26$-76$ CND/7 ml-30 ml

This one is a sweetheart! I use this all day, everyday! As you’ll learn to know me, you’ll notice, I’m cuckoo over balms!! Can’t get enough of them!  I think everyone dealing with crocodile-dry skin should own balms! Well, in any case, this balm is ‘da bomb’! Just take a look at the noteworthy ingredient list! The most sought-after nourishing and healing oils and plants are included. This balm is absolutely, unequivocally a skin savior during winter’s coldest days. It appears solid in its tin, but it melts and sinks on contact.  I love that I don’t have to work so hard to make it melt, it just does!  I use it on any dry spots, on my lips (ditch your Chapstick!), on my brows, on my lids and even under my eyes where I apply concealer! I use this balm over the Rejuvenating+Hydrating Serum, so my skin not only gets the optimal nourishment it needs, but it’s protected. A must-have and very practical!  The format makes it easy for me to put it in my bag. I found out I have some dry eczema, so I’m getting the Healing Eczema balm next!

Ingredients:  Camellia oil*, Apricot kernel oil*, Pumpkin Seed oil*, Avocado oil*, Beeswax*, Broccoli oil*, Pomegranate oil*, Raspberry seed oil*, Rose hip oil*, Borage oil*, Calendula infused in Sunflower oil*, Carrot Root extract*, Sea Buckthorn oil*, GMO-Free Vitamin E. *Certified organic ingredient

Price: 16$ CND/15 ml and 52$ CND/80 ml

Graydon Skincare aka Clinical Luxury by Nature

Founder: Graydon Moffat

Website: http://www.clinicalluxurybynature.com  Graydon Trio Pic Monkey

Founder Graydon Moffat is what I call an enthusiastic “foodie” nerd, she believes in getting the best out of real food to transform skin.  Give her a broccoli and some kale, she’ll create a custom face oil for you!! If you take a look at the ingredients list of a product, you’ll notice it’s full of whole foods, vegetables, fruit and more. She carefully chooses ingredients that will prevent future damage, heal, protect and transform with long-term results. Her products are like smoothies for the skin: incredibly healthy!  What’s also fascinating is that she perceives the skin as it is: a living and breathing organ in need of nutrition.  The labels of her formulations are easy to read, as they should be. Graydon’s philosophy is “Clinical Luxury by Nature“. What does that mean? Simply put, this green skincare line is about bioactive formulations (clinical) made with plant powered ingredients (nature) that treat and nourish every cell of your skin, without surrendering your need for indulgence and beauty (luxury). As much as possible, Graydon chooses to source organic plant-based ingredients from Canadian growers and manufacturers such as broccoli and berry seed oils. In my opinion, this is a brand focused on quality ingredients to ensure optimal results for the skin while protecting and caring for the environment. The best part: it’s one of the most affordable brands in Canada! Now, that’s a brand after my own heart!! This brand is for the modern woman who wants instant and long-term results!

Essentials

I’m an oil addict…however, this product has renewed my faith in creams!  It gave my skin a new awakening! Ever since I switched to natural products, I had been staying away from creams, thinking their water content would leave my skin high and dry (pun intended!). Turns out, I was wrong! So, when came time to test this Green cream, I wasn’t too keen.  I reluctantly tried it…and I loved it! Good job, Graydon! It’s definitely not your average cream! Because I have dry skin, I thought I only needed oils or serums, but skin also needs moisture. Thankfully, the Green cream has a bit of both, and then some!  I wouldn’t say it’s enough to moisturize my skin on a cold day of winter, though. I use this in combo with the The Serum (read below). The star ingredient, and also Graydon’s favorite ingredient to work with, is the broccoli seed oil:  it gives this luscious cream a non-greasy feel and it mimics the effect of silicone, making it ideal to use under makeup, especially cream blush!  Not only did the Green Cream delivered in terms of moisture and nourishment,  I was pleasantly surprised that it gave me a glow and a light sheen. And, fear not, there is no stickiness, so slather it on your face! I appreciate that the product is in a pump, avoiding any waste and preventing contamination from bacteria and germs.  This cream will be ideal when spring shows up.  I will leave it in the refrigerator and slather it on, when it’s hot and humid ! Basically, this is the kind of product that will help your skin look good with or without makeup! Wow, broccoli has never been more appealing now!

Note: this edition of the Green Cream is part of the Causemetics campaign. More to come soon about that!

Ingredients: purified water (aqua), aloe vera juice  (aloe barbadenis), avocado oil (persea americana), cetyl alcohol (coconut oil), stearyl alcohol (mixed plant), broccoli seed oil (brassica oleracea italica), vegetable glycerin, olive oil (olea europaea), jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis), sodium chloride (mixed plant), chlorophyll (chlorophyllin), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) in a blend of pure essential oils and nothing else!

Price: 29$ CND/50 ml

This serum is brimming with antioxidants! But what exactly are antioxidants and what do they do? Allow me a brief definition of the word. In a nut shell, antioxidants, obtained through a balanced and healthy diet, are nature’s way of protecting our body and cells from the harmful free radicals. We all know that one of the best foods to fight the effects of free radicals are: BERRIES! Well, we’re in luck with The Serum because there are 50 pounds of fresh Canadian berries into a 30 ml bottle! Can you believe the power in this serum?!  It’s a great weapon against the environmental damage that can be done to your skin cells. While I don’t believe in “anti-aging”(and this product is not about anti-aging, it’s “slow-aging“), this rich serum can at least slow the aging process, it treats the core of what ages our skin cells. Remember, free radicals accumulate with age, they are responsible for the rapid aging our our skin cells, so with consistent use of this product, you’ll reinforce your skin’s barrier. It’s also a powerful prevention asset, an ally in counteracting the damaging effects of free radicals.  I don’t think it substitutes for a sunscreen, but it has an inherent SPF due to the presence of the Raspberry seed oil, who also is a great blemish-fighter. I like to use it in the morning, in combo with the Face Food Mineral mist (also another winner of the brand! Review coming!). It’s very difficult not to love this serum, it goes beyond the call of duty. For optimal results, I add 1-2 pumps into the Green Cream after having misted with the Food Face.  If you’re looking for healthy skin from the cells to your outer layers, this is for you! I love it!

Ingredients: cold pressed blueberry seed oil (vaccinum myrtillus), cold pressed cranberry seed oil (vaccinium macrocarpon), cold pressed red raspberry seed oil (rubus idaeus), meadowfoam seed oil (limnanthes alba), grapefruit seed extract (citrus grandis) and nothing else!

Price: 46$ CND/30 ml

Final thoughts…

Although I’ve tested these products in the winter, I think they all serve their purpose no matter what season it is.  The important thing is that they all treat and nourish the skin. Even though Province Apothecary and Graydon are two different brands, they are quite alike when it comes to the quality of the products as well as the dedication of their founders.  Both brands are eco-conscious and socially responsible.  I’m insanely proud of the fact that both brands are created by two brilliant, creative and strong Canadian women! They have shown that affordable can be both luxurious AND effective! For all these reasons and more, I will purchase and re-purchase when the time comes!

So, tell me, what do you think of Province Apothecary and of Graydon’s products? What has caught your eye? I’d love to know!

NoteBoth Province Apothecary and Graydon Skincare (Clinical Luxury by Nature) are involved in a breast cancer awareness campaign with Causemetics. I will publish a post pertaining to that cause in an upcoming post in my Giving Back series.

Until next time, stay cozy!

Alex xo

*PR samples

My Top Cleansing Balms

Greetings beauties!

This is my first skincare post of the year, so I thought I’d start with the first step of the skincare routine: cleansing.

Balms. I’m drawn to cleansing balms for their practical, multi-usage functions. They have become the next big thing ever since we rediscovered oil cleansing.  Balms benefit every skin type because they contain nourishing, moisturizing and repairing oils and ingredients.  For me, the best time to use a cleansing balm is during my night skincare routine; balms are more time-consuming than cleansing oils or liquid cleansers. I rarely use a balm  in the morning, especially if I’m in a hurry.  Cleansing balms require more pampering,  which is perfect right before bed.  Also, the winter is the ideal season to use a cleansing balm (although depending on the texture, I do use some cleansing balms all year-long).

In my arsenal, there are 4 cleansing balms I use depending on my needs (and moods)!

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Clockwise: Balms from Silkka, FarmToSkin, Camp Skincare and One Love Organics.

They are nourishing, cleansing, moisturizing and multi-purpose.  I sometimes use them as spot treatment on the occasional pimple, as base for cleansing grains, for masks, on cuts or bruises and in my hair (anti-frizz).

Here is how I normally use my cleansing balms:

  • As a rule of thumb, I use them on dry skin. I take  1/2 tsp of the product (or as needed).  I warm it in the palm of my hand and spread generously on face and neck.
  • I massage the product in face to make it melt, as much as possible.  That way, the nourighing ingredients sink into the pores, while the dirt, grime and makeup is being dissolved.  I sometimes put a warm cloth on my face to open up the pores, I let it sit for 5 minutes or more (don’t fall asleep like I do!).  Avoid the eye area because some balms might have some essential oils.
  • Then I remove the balm with the damp cloth, with gentle strokes, no rubbing! Rinse if necessary.
  • After that, I need very little moisturizing. I follow with a toner/mist and a night serum or more of the balm in question as a moisturizer.

If I want to take it up a notch, I repeat by adding cleansing grains for a gentle exfoliation.

 Here are my  Top Cleansing Balms…

 The Spa experience

Silkka Garden Apothecary:  Grapefruit+Mint Cleansing Balm

Silkka Garden Apothecary is a Canadian brand (yay!) founded by my dear friend Lisa Allen.  I’ve already told you this one was a favorite of mine, here. But I have to tell you why I love it so much. First, the smell is intoxicating: it’s fragrant, sweet and tangy, as if you’re peeling a fresh citrus fruit while the juices splash.  It has Camelia oil, high in Vitamis A and E and full of antioxidants.  Then, Shea and Mango butters soften the skin. What I love the most is the Grapefruit essential oil, good especially for oily and acneic skin, cleanse and decongests the skin. The combination of the Grapefruit essential oil with the mint makes using this balm an interesting multi-sensory experience.

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Silkka Garden Apothecary: Grapefruit+Mint Cleansing Balm

I wanted you to see the texture up-close because there are gritty pieces in this balm, which I absolutely love because it does for a good exfoliation.

Here’s what Lisa Allen, founder of Silkka Garden Apothecary has to say about the “gritty”

“Unrefined Shea butter is notorious for turning “gritty” in warmer climates, or depending on the season. These particles are not truly “gritty,” but more like exfoliating beads. If these beads bother you, warm the jar gently in a water bath until the product has softened, and place immediately in the fridge or freezer (no longer than 15 minutes).”

Ingredients:

Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil, Camellia sinensis (seed) oil, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea butter), Mango (Mangifera indica) butter, non-GMO Glycine (soy butter) soja, Cera alba (beeswax) and essential oils of Citrus paradisi (Grapefruit) and Mentha arvensis (Peppermint).

Price: 17$ for 50 ml (in amber glass) *Can you believe the price?!

Find more Silkka products on: http://www.silkka.ca

The Cult Favorite

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OneLoveOrganic: Skin Savior

One Love Organics: Skin Savior

OLO’s Skin Savior has been a favorite of mine since the very beginning! This is the balm that made me fall in love with all balms! It’s a classic, THE original.  It’s a must-have, it’s the ultimate multi-tasker. If you don’t know what to pick between a cleanser or a moisturizer, you buy this and you save! I use this for cleansing, but also for moisturizing my skin and scalp or to eliminate frizz hair. A little goes a long way.  The Skin Savior is great mixed with your mineral foundation (I use Alima Pure).  There isn’t much this balm can’t do.  It serves as a first aid kit in my bag!

Ingredients:

organic cocos nucifera (virgin coconut) oil, organic glycine soja (sweet soy) seed oil, organic beeswax, mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, salvia hispanica (chia) seed extract, avena sativa (oat) extract, citrus aurantium dulcis (orange) peel wax, simmondsia chinesis (jojoba) seed oil, organic vanilla planifolia fruit extract, tocopherol (natural, non-gmo vitamin e).

Price: 39 $ for 39 ml/ 1.3 oz (trial size) OR 68$ for 105 ml/3.5 oz

Find more One Love Organics products on: http://www.OneLoveOrganics.com

The Wonder-ful!

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CampSkincare: Desert Island Wonder Balm

Camp Skincare:   Desert Island Wonder balm

Camp Skincare is also a Canadian brand.  I Insta met its founder, Lisa Inglis, a sweetheart, last year.  I love the clean, simple outlook of the packaging.  Camp Skincare is one of the brands who offer a “less is more” approach.  Lisa told me that the Wonder Balm is really a labour of love.  She hand-infuses the herbal oils (Calendula-infused Almond Oil and Sunflower Oil infused with Chamomile, Yarrow and Comfrey) before creating the balm. Comfrey leaves produce a deep green infusion and are responsible for the distinctive green colour of this balm .  The texture of the balm is a little more buttery and lighter than the previous two, which makes it sinks into the skin faster.  For that reason, I can use it all year long.  It doesn’t leave any greasy residue.  I really like to use it just before I go outside, it acts as a protectant from the harsh wind and weather elements. It’s also works as a great primer, under makeup.  It just gives me a great sheen and my skin feels so comfortable, nurtured and moist.  It’s a Wonder balm!

Ingredients: Cold-pressed Unrefined Sunflower Oil* infused with Chamomile*, Comfrey* and Yarrow*, Sweet Almond Oil infused with Calendula*, Local Beeswax, Lavender Essential Oil, Helichrysum Essential Oil, Rosemary Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil, Lemon Essential Oil *Organic

Price: 35$ for 2 oz/60ml

Find more CampSkincare products on: http://www.CampSkincare.com

The Superfoodie

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BoardAndBatten FarmToSkin: Cleansing and Conditioning balm

Board-And-Batten *Farm To Skin*:  Cleansing and Conditioning Balm

Board and Batten is located in Lake County, Florida.  The brand offers gentle skincare that’s nourishing and balancing for skin.  I like the feel of this balm.  If you have sensitive or reactive skin, this is the one to go with. Like the other balms, it acts as both a cleanser and a moisturizer.  There’s chia seed extract (as there is in the OLO Skin Savior). This balm is also rich in fatty acids and has Vitamin A from Carrot seed oil.  Very rejuvenating and glow inducing!

Ingredients: XV coconut oil*, soybean oil*, jojoba oil*, beeswax*, raw shea butter*, XV carrot oil, orange wax, oat extract, olive squalane, chia seed extract, vitamin E.

Price: 60$ for 2 oz. (comes boxed with an Organic Facial Shammy)

Find more Farm to Skin products on: http://www.farmtoskin.com

 

Final thoughts…

If I can’t carry too much products at once, I take one of them or all! I’m hoping to discover more cleansing balms, I have a few on my radar, like the one from De Mamiel.  I’ve never met a balm I didn’t like!

How about you? How often do you use cleansing balms?  I’d like to know which are your favorites!

 

Take care!

Alex xo

 

Giving Back: Jacq’s Organics

Greetings beauties!

They say there is more joy to give than to receive…

I love the Holidays, but it’s always bittersweet for me.  I feel so grateful to have a family that loves me, a roof over my head, food on the table, etc.  But it’s not the case for everyone…  My heart aches for those who don’t have all of that…especially for the Holidays. I started the Giving Back series because I wanted to highlight green beauty brands who do charitable work all year long, not just for special occasions.  I think kindness should be an inherent part of all of our lives.

Today’s Giving Back post is about Barbara Jacques’s philanthropy.  She is the founder of Jacq’s Organics, a family owned all-natural brand with products suited for all the family.  I have been using the Sweet Orange line for almost a year now…and I love it.  Barbara is special to me for many reasons, but also because we are both Haitians and share most of the same values about life.

Giving Back

Everytime you purchase a product from Jacq’s Organics, proceeds go to an organization close to Barbara’s heart:  J/P HRO (Haitian Relief Organization) for which actor Sean Penn is a Board Member. This organization has the mission of helping the many thousands and thousands of Haitians affected by the 2010 Earthquake.  J/P HRO  helps Haitians to transition to resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities. Jacq’s Organics also donates 1% of its annual sales to several non-profit agencies. That is what I call: Kindness in action!

Barbara Jacques, founder of Jacq's Organics Credits: B. Jacques

Barbara Jacques, founder of Jacq’s Organics
Credits: B. Jacques

I asked Barbara to talk to me about the specifics of J/P HRO and how she practices kindness in her personal life.  This woman is a beauty, inside and out!

Here’s what she had to say…

 

1.  First, how would you describe Jacq’s Organics? 

Jacq’s Organics is a family-friendly product line that’s hand-crafted from raw, environmentally source ingredients that serve the purpose of providing skincare that’s free from harmful harsh preservatives. We take pride in being a cruelty-free brand that does more then give back but also helps make a difference and shed light on the importance of living green.

Jacqs sweet orange

Credits: Jacq’s Organics

2.  What sets you apart from the other green beauty brands?

I realize that there are lots of green beauty brands. But what makes Jacq’s Organics different is that it was created when I learned I had an ovarian tumor while pregnant. Even though I lived a green lifestyle, what I learned is that beauty products and even the food I ate contributed to the growth of my tumor. There are many factors including lifestyle, family history and environmental factors that affect our body. This made me re-evaluate and learn about what it was I put in my body and on my skin.

My experience also taught me to appreciate life including the mot simplest things which translates in our product line. More importantly, I’d like to utilize my story and my experience to share with women that are currently battling an illness to stay strong and fight for your life. You are not alone and you do not have to suffer in silence, but instead fight for the life you want.

This is what makes Jacq’s Organics different. It’s not just about skin care or bath products.

3.  What is your motto or philosophy when it comes to giving back? Why is giving back important to you?

I have childhood memories of my mother making dinner after working long work hours for my siblings and I and then feeding the homeless that lived in our neighborhood. We didn’t have much; honestly, we didn’t have anything and she was a single mom, but she always helped those in need. So, giving back for me is not just about giving but supporting our community and helping those in need. Giving back is important to me because there were days and holidays where we didn’t have much. I know first hand how it feels to not have and the huge difference and impact giving back has. This explains why I worked in non-for-profit because you can help individuals in so many ways. Plain and simple.

Credits: J/P HRO

Credits: J/P HRO

4.  Why did you choose to get involved with J/P HRO? 

We choose to donate to this organization for several reasons. In addition to their focus on medicine, community development, engineering and construction, and relocation for the millions of people, there is a genuine effort to save lives and build sustainable programs.  Even after the media stopped coverage in Haiti, this organization continues to show and proves its efforts and you can see the positive impact it has.

Credits: J/P HRO

Credits: J/P HRO

The second reason I choose to be a part of a charity connected to Haiti is because I am Haitian. I’m a first-born generation Haitian with family living in Haiti. I see that many of the decisions made by the government and aid given from charities not only impact the individuals living in the country but it also impacts the families of the individuals living abroad. Haiti is a place that I hold near and dear to my heart.

 

Funding for Education is vital. Credits: J/P HRO

Funding for Education is vital.
Credits: J/P HRO

 

5.  How do the funds help?

The funds donated to this organization go towards providing medical needs, camp and relocation management, creating community infrastructure, education, engineering and construction. But remember, money is not the only way to help this organization. Individuals can help by spreading the word, volunteering and by taking action. One way individuals can take action is by creating a local fund-raiser to help the individuals working hard to help rebuild the country.

 

6.  You have children, so how do you instill the values of giving back and of kindness ?

Giving back is very important to my husband and I. I believe the best way to teach is to show. I have a 3-year-old toddler and we don’t buy her toys. However, she has a room filled with toys from family members and friends as gifts. I became overwhelmed with the excessive amount of toys, so I sat down with her and explained to that she had an excess amount of toys and there are children with no toys.

I explained to her that we are going to be giving some of her toys to those children who didn’t have toys. She agreed and starting sorting through her toys. We volunteer, serve on boards and mentor under privileged kids. My daughter will learn from my actions.

Personal note…

I was born in Canada, and I’ve never been to Haiti, but it’s dear to me because my parents are Haitians, so I was raised with their values.  Haiti was called “La Perle des Antilles” it’s french for “Pearl of the Carribean“.  Haiti hasn’t always been the poor devastated country it is, it used to be a place praised by many for vacations and getaways, and it was is a wonderful place.  The media portrays a negative image of Haiti, but make no mistake, Haiti even though ravaged by nature, is a beautiful and resourceful island.  Don’t believe everything you see on television. Haiti isn’t solely about poverty and hunger… even faced with adversity, there’s joy, warmth and faith. Haitians are not only resilient and hopeful, but they are determined to overcome whatever comes. The people make the country, not the other way around!

Here is an image of the Haitian Presidential Palace before and after the Earthquake that shook the nation on January 12th, 2010.

Presidential Palace (before and after) Credits: LaDepêche.fr

Presidential Palace (before and after)
Credits: LaDepêche.fr

 

If you want to know more and donate to J/P HRO, please go to:  http://jphro.org/index.html

If you’re interested in Jacq’s Organics, go to: http://www.jacqsorganics.com/

 

Don’t forget, the true spirit of Christmas is selfless!  A simple gesture could make a big difference in the life of someone else…and in yours!

 

Happy Holidays to all!

 

Alex xo

5 beauty tips from Lina Hanson

Greetings beauties!

 

It’s no secret I love Lina Hanson and her Global serums for face and body.  Today, she shares her simple beauty tips to achieve healthy glowing skin.

The beautiful Lina Hanson. Credits: Tumblr.com

The beautiful Lina Hanson.
Credits: Tumblr.com

 Here are her 5 beauty tips anyone can do!

1.  Hydration from the inside out

Hydrate your skin from within by drinking water. However, the type of water you drink also matters.  Alkaline water is great because it helps detoxify your body and enhance your immune system. A healthy body equals healthy skin. My favorite alkaline water is Essentia water. It also tastes delicious!

Essentia Water Photo credits: Essentiawater.com

Essentia Water Credits: Essentiawater.com

2. Dry Brushing

Dry brushing your skin is such a great way to increase circulation and release toxins. It also removes dead skin and clears up clogged pores. I like Eco Tools Bamboo Bristle Bath Brush.

EcoTool Bamboo Dry Brush Credits: EcoTools.com

EcoTools Bamboo Dry Brush Credits: EcoTools.com

 

3. Exfoliation 

Remove dead skin cells by exfoliating your face and body at least once a week. It will quickly improve the appearance of your skin and let your skin breath. You can even use ingredients from your kitchen cabinet. For the face, raw sugar or brown sugar is a great and inexpensive option. For the body you can use something slightly more coarse like sea salt.

4.  Body and facial oils

Hydrate your skin with oils. Some people are nervous to use oil on their face, but the truth is, an oil will absorb into the skin faster than a regular water-based moisturizer, and will leave your skin with a beautiful glow. The same goes for your body. Hydrating your skin with an oil is the best way to get glowing skin. I use Global Face and Body Serums morning and night.

 

Global Serums Body and Face

 

5.  Superfoods

Spirulina is one of the best super foods for healthy skin. It increases skin metabolism and wards off free radicals. It also prevents candida bacteria which can lead to acne. Spirulina can be taken as a supplement or powder form daily. I always add it to my morning shakes.

Spirulina in powder or in pills.  Credits: Energiseforlife.com

Spirulina: tablets or powder           Credits: Energiseforlife.com

 

 Satori

Sample of Satori Perfume Oil provided by Lina Hanson

Sample of Satori Perfume Oil

*Satori is Lina’s new creation: a perfume oil.  It is an uplifting blend of Vanilla and Sandalwood, along with crispy notes of citrus and ginger.  I really love it, it’s perfect for everyday wear as it’s not overpowering.  It has a little mystery to it, which makes it very intriguing.  The perfect scent for the strong modern woman who likes a touch of sophistication. Satori is set to be launched in January 2015.  Stay tuned!

Start today!

It’s easy to procrastinate and put these tips off to the New Year… but don’t!  Don’t wait another day to start… Healthy glowing skin can NOT wait! Start today, start now !  If not all five beauty tips, at least one, then add another one the next day, your skin will thank you for it!

Personally, I know I need to drink more water than I do now.  What about you, what beauty tip do you need to start practicing more?

Special thanks to Lina Hanson for her collaboration.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Much love,

Alex xo

*sample provided by Lina Hanson

Green beauty meets excellence: the EcoDivaBeauty online shop story

Greetings beauties!

Ever wondered how your favorite shop came about?  Well, wonder no more, here’s the story behind one of my favorite green beauty online shop: Eco Diva Beauty! Grab some herbal tea, sit down and relax!

 The Original EcoDiva: Charlene Swanson

Though it launched only a year ago (March 8th 2013), our beloved, most trusted online green shop was born in its founder’s heart, Charlene Swanson (aka The Original EcoDiva), almost a decade ago… (that’s 10 years in the making, so don’t give up on your dreams!)

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Charlene’s life story reads like a novel!  When she shared her story with me, I was so moved, I kept picturing who would play her, if her life was to be adapted in a movie…and believe me, it should!  For me, it feels like Eco Diva Beauty has been here forever.  It is where I placed my very first order (September, 24th 2013) when I turned to natural products over a year ago.  The shop as well as its founders have a special place in my heart.  Their story is so beautiful, so I wanted to share.

We can all relate to having a dream, and Charlene is the perfect example of the modern woman who fought to make hers come true…and did it ever !

Humble Beginnings

 As a young girl, Charlene was ordering expensive skincare and makeup from the” big city”.  It wasn’t natural, but that’s where her love for beauty products began.  She did look for natural products but didn’t find the level of quality she was looking for.   She grew up surrounded by nature, up on the Alaskan Highway, so she never questioned its beauty and had an inherent respect for it. Her family lived in an old Army camp converted to a sawmill and, naturally, she grew up to be a … lumber trader!  And then, she moved to the big city. Despite the fact that lumber trading is a traditionally reserved male turf, she became very successful, eventually creating her own lumber company, which allowed her to care for her 2 daughters she was raising alone, as a single mother. She was also a pioneer in the industry because she led the way in terms of only selling wood from sustainable managed forests (FSC Certified).  Still, she realized her passions and her profession weren’t in alignment.

Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty

Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty (photo credits: Garcy Fry)

Being the connoisseur she is, Charlene was frustrated by the unavailability of proper organic and luxury beauty products (no Kjaer Weis back then!!). She often thought of creating her own line, but she knew she wouldn’t be content with that alone, knowing her tendency to search for new things.  She remembers vividly when her dream took seed in her heart.  Eco Diva Beauty was born out of the desire to see women make conscious decisions about their well-being (beauty, skincare, wellness) without having to compromise their health and the environment.  As a true trailblazer and visionary, Charlene then had an epiphany.  She knew right in that instant she would move heaven and earth to find  the most eco-friendly, luxurious and cutting edge products and have them in one beautiful location.  She wanted busy people like her who also love the planet to be able to find their beauty and skincare products in one place. She thought to herself: “I’m such a Diva!” and because all divas have alter-egos (just ask Beyoncé!), hers responded: “well, at least, I’m an ECO-diva!” And this is how the name ECODIVA was found.  Would you believe me if I told you Charlene Swanson, self-proclaimed EcoDiva, owner of the most prestigious online ecoshop, did not trust technology back then?  So she headed out to the Registrars office to get the “ecodiva” name registered.

As it is often the case when pursuing a dream, the daily struggles of reality set in and damper our hopes.  So, it did for Charlene, until she began to exhibit physical and emotional side-effects of her unsatisfying life. After her doctor wrote her a prescription that said “Deepak Chopra”, she spent a week with him at the Deepak Chopra Centre in California.  There, she came to understand that we, humans, are creators of our own life with the assistance of a higher power, however we choose to call it.

Mother-Daughter duo

She then enlisted the help of her daughter, you might have heard of her (ha ha!!), her name is Garcy Fry (you’ll get to read all about her in an upcoming feature).  The pair of them successfully manage EcoDiva Beauty.  I think I speak for many of us when I say that the Eco Diva Beauty online shop has set a high bar of excellence for all online shops by raising and sustaining ethical, moral, social and environmental standards.  Although we should be responsible for our own health by knowing and researching what’s in our products, we don’t all have time for that.  And that’s where shops like EcoDivaBeauty come in.  You can trust their commitment and their passion for our community.  You can count on them for answers.  When I shop at Eco Diva, I have peace of mind, I know that every product, from every brand has been researched and approved by the mother-daughter duo.

Here’s what you should know about Charlene Swanson…

She’s EVERY woman, but she’s also in a league of her own.  She’s a hard-working woman and quite the entrepreneur (with 2 companies to her name)!  She’s an adventurer, a go-getter, a dreamer, an achiever, a story-teller, a lover of nature and sees beauty all over creation.  She is truly and remarkably beautiful from head to toe and from the inside out.  She is courage and strength.  She is bold and daring.  She’s also level-headed and determined.  I gave you the short version of Eco Diva (yes, short!)!  I know we all look at Eco Diva Beauty and think we’d all want to own such a shop… Don’t think for a second that running a shop is a smooth-sailing affair! Even now, with the success of her online shop, Charlene still juggles both her sustainable lumber trading and the Eco Diva shop.  She remains humble and pragmatic, knowing full well that her first company allowed her to fund her second one. Also, she doesn’t think that she has is made; she thrives to do and to give the best everyday, because she wants the best for her Eco Divas…that’s you, you, you, you and I!

I truly love Eco Diva and it’s so much more than a business.  It’s an energy for beauty in all things inside and out, physical and meta physical.
I want women to be empowered and to know that they can affect the world in such a significant way by just being women.  Most women dictate what the family consumes and purchases and this gives them a powerful vote for our environment worldwide each and every day.”
                                                                                                                                                        – Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty
Did Charlene’s story inspire you to keep dreaming and have faith in life? Have you ever shopped at Eco Diva Beauty?  
Let us know what you think? Here’s your opportunity to let the Eco Diva Beauty team know your questions, needs, concerns…  and while you’re at it, give them some love!  Show some gratitude for their hard work!
We Heart You, Charlene! (Ok, you too Garcy!)
Until next time…
Arabesque xo