Aquarella Nail Polishes

First off, there is no such thing as organic or truly green nail polish; any brand that claims as such is blatantly "greenwashing." 

That said there are cleaned up formulations available to those looking for an alternative to the – frankly toxic – mainstream brands. There are the 5-free formulas (notably sans formaldehyde and by products like formaldehyde-resin), and there are the water based formulas, which are basically water and acrylic polymers.  I wouldn't recommend the latter for little ones who habitually suck their thumbs, or to anyone who washes their hair vigously and regularly, or does the dishes without gloves.  Water based polishes deteriorate rapidly under warm, wet conditions.

Scotch Naturals and Aquarella are the leaders of the pack when it comes to water based polishes, and in my experience, Aquarella is the better of the two. I'm not wild about having to repaint my hands every other day, but it holds up nicely for pedicures.

And these two sheer shades below layer beautifully for a glossy water color stain that reminds me of summer popsicles.

Aquarella Nail Polishes in Tickle Me and Cameo.

Aquarella Nail Polishes in Tickle Me and Cameo.

Treat Collection in So Simple

I (surprise, surprise) picked up another bottle from Treat Collection, and dare I say – it's my favorite one yet. So Simple is a grayed down lavender beige, which is a refreshing departure from all the precious pink shades that pop up in the Spring.

Most grays and lavenders look dull and lifeless on my pale hands, not so with this. Anyone looking for a wearable, toned-down lavender that won't clash with whatever you're wearing this week will be pleased.

$7 (normally $18, but often on sale at Amazon) / Amazon.com

Tata Harper Travel Sizes

Most pricey skincare lines don't offer trial sizes that last long enough (7+ days) to form much of an opinion on its efficacy. Generally speaking, you'll know early on if there's an ingredient that you're reacting to, but whether a serum is worth its salt? That takes at least week.

Not so with Tata Harper, their webstore is generous with the samples, and they often offer capsule collections to test out their – frankly, expensive – line. I picked up a few, and sprang for their Replenishing Nutrient Complex, a roll on oil that penetrates beautifully, and the most deeply nourishing product I've found yet. Despite it being housed in a glass vial, it travels well, and I keep a miniature version (not in pictures) in my purse to smear a bit on my cheekbones to freshen up in the afternoon.

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The takeaway on the remaining products?

  • Boosted Contouring Serum  - light texture, had a bit of a tacky feel post application, but didn't blow me away. I suspect it would take a full size bottle to reap any measurable benefit.
  • Hydrating Floral Essence -  very hydrating, it mists well (versus the larger bottle with shoots out) with a quickly dissipating, and vaguely floral scent. It's both functional and sensory.
  • Rebuilding Moisturizer - intense and jam-packed with a long list of workhorse ingredients. It has a lotion-y consistency but a mildly tacky feel post application (likely due the raw honey in its formula) and ended up being too heavy for my sensitive, reactive skin. I've heard it said that there are too many active ingredients, which is an interesting thought.
  • Resurfacing Mask - a staple, especially when traveling. It's a gentle and soothing exfoliation mask and highly recommended for any skin type.
  • Beautifying Facial Oil - very light, heavily fragrant and nice in the morning. Especially great for patting over makeup to take things down a notch and restore some glow.

Ingredients:

Replenishing Nutrient Complex: Rosa Canina Seed Extract*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil*, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract *,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Arnica montana leaf Extract*, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root Extract, Aroma**,  Linalool, Limonene, Geraniol, Citronellol, Farnesol, Citral, Benzyl Alcohol
Rebuilding Moisturizer: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Mangifera indica (Mango) seed butter, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) oleosomes*, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*, Glycerin, Cetearyl olivate, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Rosa damascena flower water*, Sorbitan olivate, Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Mel (Honey), Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Leaf Extract, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (meadowsweet) flower Extract*, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) extract, Arnica montana flower Extract*, Galactoarabinan, Sclerotium gum, Caprylic/Capric, Triglyceride, Cetyl palmitate, Sorbitan palmitate, Soybean peroxidase, Superoxide dismutase, Sodium phytate, Aroma**, Citronellol, Linalool, Citral, Eugenol, Farnesol
Hydrating Floral Essence: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, Rosa damascena flower water*, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) flower water*,  Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) Distillate, Sodium hyaluronate, Beta vulgaris (Beet) Root,  Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Sodium phytate, Superoxide dismutase*, Soybean peroxidase*, Aroma**, Limonene, Citral, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Eugenol, Farnesol
Beautifying Facial Oil: Squalane (Plant),  Jojoba Esters, Olea europea (Olive) Oil*, Argania spinosa (Argan) Kernel oil*, Plukenetia Volubilis, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) Extract*, Arnica montana (Arnica) Leaves and flowers*, Calendula officinalis (Calendula) Flower Extract*, Symphytum officinale (Comfrey) Leaves*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Leaf Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (Meadowsweet) flower Extract*, Sambucus Nigra Fruit Extract, Aroma**, Algae extract, Linalool, Limonene
Boosted Contouring Serum: Aloe barbadensis leaf juice *, Rosa damascena flower water*, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Mangifera indica (Mango) seed butter, Silybum marianum (Milk Thistle) ethyl ester, Hydroxystearyl Alcohol, Propanediol, Acacia Senegal Gum, Glycerin, Punica granatum , Glyceryl undecylenate, Cetearyl alcohol, Olea europaea (Olive) oil*,  Leuconostoc ferment filtrate (radish root extract), Algae extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Extract (pomegranate) extract,  Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) extract*, Lavandula stoechas (Spanish Lavender) extract, Narcissus tazetta (Daffodil) bulb extract*, Phoenix dactylifera (Date) seed extract, Sodium hyaluronate, Sambucus nigra (Elderberry) fruit extract, Menyanthes trifoliata (Buckbean) Flower Extract, Daucus carota sativa (Carrot) root Extract, Salix alba (Willow) bark extract*, Borago officinalis Leaf Extract*, Arnica montana flower Extract*, Calendula officinalis flower Extract*, Spiraea Ulmaria (meadowsweet) leaf Extract *, Tilia europaea (Linden) leaf/flower Extract*,  Medicago sativa (Alfalfa) leaf Extract*, Rosa Canina Seed Extract*, Hydrolyzed Rhizobian Gum, Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed wax, Ornithine, Solidago virgaurea (Goldenrod) extract*, Oryza sativa (Rice) extract*, Kaolin (clay minerals), Sclerotium gum, Montmorillonite (clay minerals), Illite (clay minerals), Phospholipids, Glycolipids, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Coco-glucoside, Cetearyl olivate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Sorbitan olivate, Superoxide dismutase, Soybean peroxidase, Hydroxystearyl Glucoside, Aroma**, Citral, Linalool, Citronellol, Geraniol, Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate

*Ingredients from Organic farming

** Clinical grade essential oils blend

Price range $11-45 /  Tata Harper

Kō Denmark Jasmine + Neroli Organic Perfume

Before I jump into this perfume, I'll quickly make a detour into the Danish etymological phenomenon, hygge.
According to the website, Hyggehouse"the Danish word hygge (pronounced hue-gah) is a feeling or mood that comes from taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary everyday things simply extraordinary; whether it’s making coffee a verb by lingering over a cup to a cosy evening in with friends to lighting a candle with every meal." It's warmth, simplicity, contentment, and being fully invested in the moment at hand.  For further exploration, NPR has some stunning photographs to illustrate the concept.
After reading a book that touched on the concept, I've been obsessed, asking friends and colleagues who've spent time in Denmark to explain what this word means to them and how to extrapolate its benefits to us. While we don't experience Scandinavian winters, the Pacific Northwest is no stranger to stark, chilly weather. Clearing the clutter, and lighting a candle in the morning while getting ready or upon returning home are good places to start. It's the combination of coziness and minimalism that resonates.
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Kō Denmark's perfume roll has been, for me, the olfactory equivalent. It's a cozy floral suspended in a fractionated coconut oil base. (Most perfume is alcohol based; you'll get a heady blast of top notes like citrus and flowers upon first spray, and after dry down a couple hours later, a completely different fragrance, often a combination of woods, amber and/or vanilla.) Oil based fragrances, however, don't morph nearly as much, and tend to simmer on the skin all day long. Plus they're generally easier to make without veering into toxic or shady ingredients with little research behind them. Your wrists at 5:00pm may have a fainter scent than at 8:00am, but any shift has more to do with your own oil production and skin's chemistry than the essential oils themselves.
This gorgeous glass vial (which travels well, by the way) smoothly rolls out a glistening strip of oil that easily absorbs. Upon first whiff, it's a soapy and powdery blanket of Indian Jasmine and Ylang Ylang, than the Tunisian Neroli (orange blossom) comes through, lending it an aquatic sparkle. The Damascus Rose binds the three, deepening the cocktail, giving it a romantic, almost musky quality. Folks seeking a non-toxic alternative to D&G Feminine, Donna Karen Cashmere Mist, or Flower by Kenzo may find this to be their new classic.

Ingredients
coconut oil, indian jasmine absolute oil, tunisian neroli (orange blossom) oil, bulgarian rose damascena absolute oil, essential oils.

$45 / kodenmark.com

Wellness+Beauty

The relationship between beauty and well-being cannot be emphasized enough. One day, during my college years, I was working at the Chanel counter with Yolande, an elegant French woman 25 years my senior who was both a nutritionist and makeup artist. I was bemoaning the constant eruption of acne on my face and how none of the oil-free lines on the department floor did me any good. "Drink more water and stop visiting the Sweet Factory on every break," she advised. "And you should incorporate parsley into your diet, it's wonderful for your blood and skin."

This was in 2001, pre-French Women Don't Get Fat, and Yolande, the wife of a doctor, was devising meal plans for his patients and giving cooking classes at Sur La Table on the side, teaching Americans how to eat with mindfulness and attention to ingredients. My encounters with her laid the groundwork for how I ate as an adult and the correlation between beauty and health were established.

Morning juice ingredients: kale and apples, courtesy of my garden. The lemon and blood oranges, sadly, from some place much more sunny.

Morning juice ingredients: kale and apples, courtesy of my garden. The lemon and blood oranges, sadly, from some place much more sunny.

On the other hand, I get a kick out of seeing what beauty products healthy food bloggers love. Here's a roundup of some of my favorites:

Well+Good catalogues the beauty obsessions of well-being pioneers. 

Pressed Juicery's blog, The Chalkboard, often has helpful articles on subjects like traveling beauty tips and returning a glow back to winter skin

Deliciously Ella's sweet enthusiasm for coconut oil, as well as her clean beauty routines can be found here and here

Oh She Glows is fantastic for a vegan sweet fix, but also has a recipe for lemon hand scrub and lists her beauty favorites here

The legendary Nutrition Stripped shares wonderful DIY kitchen beauty recipes and a slew of favorite products and lines here.

My New Roots, a Canadian transplant in Denmark earning a degree in holistic nutrition, is a fan of a wildcrafted Canadian skin care line.

Kure Bazaar Nail Polish

From left, Macaron, Corso 22, Sakura.

From left, Macaron, Corso 22, Sakura.

Kure Bazaar was created by a former French model whom, while pregnant, became increasingly conscious of the food she was eating and the ingredients in her beauty product. Like me, she instinctively stopped wearing nail polish during the early months after she gave birth. Eventually, she and a chemist friend launched this nail polish line that's not only 5-Free*, but 85% of the formula is of natural origin, including wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn.

The formulas ($16) are brilliantly shiny and opaque, and they withstand chipping quite well. However, a few days in, the color fades and starts to crack like eggshells. Admittedly, I am pretty hard on my nails. Nail polishes rarely last for more than four days on my hands, so I may not be the target consumer. 

Proudly made in France, Kure Bazaar's colors are gorgeous and thoughtful; it's no stretch of the imagination to envision someone within the fashion industry at the helm. The elegant packaging is nearly identical to Chanel's polishes.

From left, First Base, Milk, Final Touch.

From left, First Base, Milk, Final Touch.

From left, Macaron, Corso 22, Sakura.

From left, Macaron, Corso 22, Sakura.

*5-Free refers to formulas made without Formaldehyde, Toulene, Synthetic Camphor, Dibutyl Pthlalate or Formaldehyde Resin

Ingredients: 

clear f9700, titanium dioxide, cica, manganese violet, red 6 lake, tin oxide, yellow 5 lake.
 

$16 / Spirit Beauty Lounge

Kahina Giving Beauty

It seems argan oil is officially a thing now. The insanely nourishing and anti-aging oil is no longer a cult beauty product and you can readily find products touting it within the aisles of Target. (Though argan is old news, the fact that goats will go to these lengths for argan fruit will continuously be a source of amusement for me.)

However, not argan oil is equal. I tried the Josie Maran's argan oil, which left me underwhelmed. The more wallet-friendly Acure Organics version was my favorite for years, I used it to cure a family member's eczema, heal old acne scars, prevent breakouts and even rapidly heal my cat's surgical scar – my vet was duly impressed!

Green beauty bloggers, however, have been unabashedly gushing over Kahina Giving Beauty's argan oil for years. It's definitely a splurge, but I always make an exception for a travel set and fortunately, they curated one. I picked mine up from Saffron Rouge (whatever happened to them?) during the past two winters. I was blown away by how my parched winter complexion (made even more complicated by pregnancy) responded to the set, and then picked up a second one the following year just because it was so good. 

Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Basics

Their travel collection consists of 30 ml bottles of the following:

• Argan Oil: 100% organic & certified by Ecocert
• Facial Cleanser: now Ecocert-certified organic & natural
• Facial Lotion: 100% natural, 95% of botanical ingredients are organic

The Facial Cleanser is very creamy with the viscosity and texture of a body lotion. As milky as it is, the cleanser does take effort to removing eye makeup. Because it leaves a lingering emollient behind, this for me is a morning cleanser. 

The Facial Lotion is light weight, and nondescript. It's scentless, absorbs readily, hydrating and very much a basic lotion. SPF free, I liked this patted over the Argan Oil to seal everything in before heading to bed.

However, it's really the Argan Oil that knocks this set out of the park for me. Everything just looks better immediately and hours after application.  My skin is at it's best after months after continuous use. All this time, I thought it was the set, but now I know it's really the Argan Oil.

If there was a starter oil I'd suggest to anyone, this would be it. Oils are lipophilic, which means they quickly are absorbed through the layers of the skin into the collagen producing cells, immediately plumping the skin and preventing dehydration. When antioxidants are in a carrier oil (and argan oil is rich in antioxidants) the free radical protection goes further into the skin, fending off premature aging.

My next Kahina Giving Beauty purchase is going to be a larger bottle of their Argan Oil, though their eye cream also looks intriguing.

Ingredients:

Kahina Argan Oil: argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil*

Kahina Facial Cleanser: aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice*, aqua, argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil*, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, glycerin*, leuconostoc (radish) root ferment filtrate, cocoglucoside, coconut alcohol, carica papaya (papaya) fruit extract*, glyceryl oleate, salix nigra (willow) bark extract, lauryl glucoside, vanillosmopsis erythropappa (bisabolol) wood oil, sclerotium gum, citrus aurantium (neroli) flower oil*, chamomila recutita (matricaria) flower extract, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract*, tanacetum annuum (blue tansy) flower oil*, hydrogenated lecithin, p-anisic acid, PCA, xantham gum - See more at: http://kahina-givingbeauty.com/shop/kahina-facial-cleanser/#sthash.xOnzC67K.dpuf

Kahina Facial Lotion: water, argan oil*, glycerin, japanese honeysuckle extract*, shea butter*, sodium PCA, sorbitan olivate, xanthan gum, betaine, acacia gum, behenyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol, argan leaf extract, lecithin*, beeswax*, phospholipids, glycolipids, soybean oil, soybean sterols, levulinic acid, potassium sorbate, sodium hyaluronate, lactic acid

*Ingredient from Organic Farming

$85 / Kahina Giving Beauty