Vert Beauty (Part II)

Folks in Colorado have it so good. Not only does this health conscious state boast more local stores with natural soaps than I could shake a bouquet of dried sage at, but they also have Vert Beauty, a little beauty emporium nestled in an adorable Denver neighborhood.

This visit, I met Amanda (the owner of Vert Beauty, which I didn't know until after we parted ways), who freshened up my eye shadow with a stunning combination of Alima Pure shadows in Breathless and Cypress, layered over RMS Beauty's Myth cream shadow.

The workstation. 

The workstation. 

Red Flower

Red Flower

 I, and the others I was visiting the store with, all got time in the chair with individualized recommendations. Pots of loose bronzer, Ilia coral lip tints and gold Alima shadows were pulled out,  all three of which are easy ways to update for summer.

When my toddler daughter grew ornery and wanted to start finger painting with the RMS pots, I was able to whisk her away to a quiet garden through the back of the store to regroup.

We all left swinging little bags of newfound treasures, but not before surveying the well curated offerings. Behold...

Zoe Organics

Zoe Organics

Ilia Beauty

Ilia Beauty

Just a fractuib of their myriad shades of Alima Pure eyes shadows.

Just a fractuib of their myriad shades of Alima Pure eyes shadows.

Ecobrow Defining Wax

When it comes to brow products, I prefer wax based formulas because they look more natural. The wax has a soft sheen and reflects light like hair, versus powders or pencils which can look flat. I hadn't yet found a non-toxic wax based product to phone home about, so I was excited to try Ecobrow. This small line was developed by a makeup artist and made up of stellar, clean ingredients.

I picked up a pot of "Penelope" and the accompanying brush. However, designed for a brunette, I found the shade was way too red to be natural. Plus, the formula was a bit slippery and took too more effort to control. Eyeshadow, lipstick, eyeliner - it's okay if those products are obvious. But brow products – much like foundation and concealer – should be nearly impossible to detect. This one was a slight disappointment for me, but I think the other colors (Marilyn, in particular) may have potential.

Detox Market / $26

Pratima Skincare

I've been on the fence about Ayurvedic medicine, particularly there being specific health suggestions for whichever of the three categoric Doshas you fall on. Only three? And how applicable is this to a heterogeneous population? But Ayurvedic medicine does allow for caveats and an ebb and flow for gradual shifts in your Dosha.  And the beauty industry is no stranger to stringent classifications, when it comes to skincare, most lines offer you a specialized regimen based on whichever skin type you come up as, (dry, oily, sensitive or normal/combination.) So there's that. 

I've heard about Pratima for years, and heard enough about it from friends on Instagram to reach out to the company to learn more. The founder, Dr. Pratima Raichur, is an Ayurvedic doctor, chemist, botanist and doctor of Naturopathy. The pioneer of Ayurvedic skincare, she began creating formulas to alleviate skin conditions based on her Ayurvedic education, and has been practicing for over 40 years. Even more impressive, Dr. Raichur creates all of her products by hand in her lab just celebrated her 75th birthday last September. Certainly a resounding affirmation that she's doing something right.

It turns out my Dosha is Pitta, and they offer a Pitta tailored regimen for my combination, sensitive skin that breakout very easily. For once, I've found a prescribed (or suggested) regiment to soothe sensitive, reactive skin that breaks out. I'm of the opinion that both sensitive and acne prone complexions are symptomatic of the same underlying problem, inflammation.

PITTA ESSENTIALS STARTER SET (For Combination/Sensitive Skin)

PITTA ESSENTIALS STARTER SET (For Combination/Sensitive Skin)

I received a beautifully packaged starter kit for Pitta complexions, along with their highly lauded Rose Neem Sunscreen SPF 30, a turmeric laced facial mask and  a lightly aromatic body oil. I was in love upon first whiff, and am already planning to purchase refills once I'm down to the dregs.

The herbal cleanser reminds me of One Love Organic's powder cleanser, but it doesn't remove makeup and I prefer it in the morning. Plus, I learned that washing with tepid water is best, especially for reactive skin like mine.

I mixed 3 drops each of the Liposomes antioxidant serum with the Pitta Essential Oil, which smells amazing and is made up of jasmine, sandalwood and rose essential oils, and patted them all over morning and night. My breakouts were quelled, balance was restored and my skin was glowing. The botanical moisture cream was lovely as well, but for me, the oil and liposome concoction ended up being the hero products.

The Pitta Balancing body oil has a touch of jasmine, rose and sandalwood as well, but is much less fragranced than the Pitta Essential Oil and includes two Ayurvedic herbs, Brahmi and Shatavari to promote balance. It's deeply nourishing, and one of the most longest lasting body oils I've found yet.

PITTA BALANCING BODY OIL

PITTA BALANCING BODY OIL

The turmeric mask is potent! It dries quickly, and helps sooth breakouts and mop up excess oiliness without tipping the balance on drier areas. This one I found to be most effective when swiped on minutes before the shower, to allow it to dry before the steam would open my pores to further it's magic. 

SANDALWOOD ROSE MASK

SANDALWOOD ROSE MASK

SANDALWOOD ROSE MASK

SANDALWOOD ROSE MASK

And the Neem Rose Sunscreen SPF 30... I'm hooked. It doesn't give that ghostly glow zinc based sunscreens often have, it's perfectly hydrating but still lightweight enough not to smother my pores in the summer humidity. Neem oil is used extensively within Ayurvedic medicine and beyond for everything from leprosy and malaria to acne and insect bites. And it's widely used in the west as a natural pesticide. This is a top seller for Pratima, and slated to be a staple in my bathroom going forward.

NEEM ROSE FACE SUNSCREEN SPF30

NEEM ROSE FACE SUNSCREEN SPF30

I'm so excited to try out the rest of this line, this indie beauty line is well deserving of the hype.  I've recommended this line to friends who've reported immediate and glowing results soon after. For those who find Tata Harper to be too much (both in active ingredients, fragrance or cost), this line fits the bill. And for those curious about clean, indie skincare brands, I cannot think of a better introduction.

Pratima Skincare / Sunscreen $28 / Starter Set $60 / Mask $40 / Body Oil $28

Tata Harper: Limited Edition Night Out Essentials Collection

I rarely find a set available featuring the products I'd cherry pick myself, if I could create my own set. Happily, I struck gold with this one!

Tata Harper's Beautifying Face Oil is one of the more reasonably priced products from her line, as well as the most versatile one. I mix a few drops in with my Gressa foundation and blend it in only where needed -- as a concealer. Or I use it underneath/in lieu of a moisturizer or pat a few drops over my makeup to freshen up mid-day. It's fragranced, but not overtly so. It absorbs in about 10 minutes and feels wonderful onwards.

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The Resurfacing Mask is highly lauded for it's instant benefits. It's a gentle exfoliator, and the immediate results are remakrable. Skin feels smoother and fresher and any excess oiliness is mopped up. It's a translucent pink, florally scented gel, and dries within 5-10 mins, but you're advised to keep it on to 20 mins. I'll mist my face with water to prolong the dewy stage before rinsing it off. Before I had a jar of my own, I used to save my sample packs of this for hotel rooms, to offset the effects of dry cabin air. Be wearned though, people advise stroring this away from bathroom humidity which can compromise the preservation of the rpoudct.

The Love Potion is heaven! It's a grown up powdery scent (thanks to the ylang ylang), very romantic (jasmine) but not girly at all (sandlewod). While there's no violet in the concoction, that's what my mind instantly conjures on first whiff. A heady, complex posy of violets. 

Very Vivacious Lip and Cheek is one I reviewed earlier. It's a wearable, flattering orange that can be blended out to a muted peach or applied in thin layers for a bright coral statement.

Washington Post Article

Reading Washington Post journalist Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed was a total game changer for me. I've read it at least four times to date, and listen to it on Audible when feeling spread thin and need some grounding. Any parent, spouse/domestic partner, employee or person struggling to live the good life and find time for work, play and love will benefit from her research. 

I'm a parent and a full-time employee, which makes it tricky to find time to work on this little blog, as satisfying and enjoyable it may be for me.

I was fortunate enough to be part of Brigid Schulte's time hacking project, where she paired me with Kathy Korman Frey, a powerhouse and confidence guru to figure out how to make this all work. This experience was another game changer, which you can read about here.

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Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation

The name is a mouthful, for sure, and certainly not minimalist, but it's one hell of a foundation.

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation in #03

Gressa Skin Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation in #03

This is a far cry from the creamy thick foundations you get from a pump. The texture is a thin liquid, due to it's principle ingredient,  Brassica Oleracea (also known as broccoli seed oil), a powerful inflmmatory and antioxidant. It's oil based, but minus the slick sheen of greasiness one often contends with when it comes to liquid oils. A little goes a long way (2-3 drops is more than enough) for this high coverage foundation, before it magically dries to a powder, making it perfect for warmer months.

It should be noted, I like a little evening out, but am not a fan of foundation in the strictest sense. I believe foundation is best thinned out with water, oil or a good sponge, and treated like a concealer over specific areas – unless you're going on out a stage or a photo-shoot.  

There has been criticism amongst bloggers that the Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation is too drying, that the formula snags over dry skin, showing up like lint on a dark towel. However, this is totally avoidable. I mix equal parts of this foundation with a carrier oil (sweet almond oil is my go-to) or Tata Harper's Nourishing or Beautifying Oils and pat it in over key areas (under eyes, around the nose and over any redness.) It's perfect for me, this way. It's completely believable, and reflects light like bare skin would.

My color is #3, which I'd suggest if you're pale-ish but not porcelaine and unsure which color to choose. It's a chameleon of a foundation, I've used it to tone down redness in pale ruddy complexions, but even out darker olive complexions.

$54 / Gressa Skin

Ingredients: *Brassica oleracea (Broccoli) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, GRESSA Healing ComplexTM *Silymarin, *Neem (Azadirachta indica) Extract,*Horsetail (Equisetum arvense) Extract, *Lemon Balm (Melissa officianalis) Extract, *Barberry (Berberis vulgaris) Extract, *Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides) Seed Extract, *Elder Flower (Sambucus nigra) Extract, *Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia) Extract, Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate Non-GMO, Coenzyme Q10, Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, (Vitamin C), *lecithin, *glycerin, mica, iron oxides, titanium oxide. *CERTIFIED ORGANIC

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.