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 friend launched Kure Bazaar, an 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 quite shiny and opaque, they withstand chipping quite well. However, a few days in, the color fades and starts to crack. However, I'm pretty hard on my nails, and nail polishes rarely last for more than four days on my hands. 

Proudly made in France, Kure Bazaar's colors are gorgeous and thoughtful; it's no stretch of the imagination to envision a model at the helm. The elegant packaging is very similar 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


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 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 that included the products I'd be most likely to use. I picked mine up from Saffron Rouge (whatever happened to them?) during the winter. 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 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, but it does take effort to removing eye makeup. And it leaves a lingering emollient behind. Which for me, makes this 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.

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.


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

100% Pure Luminous Creme: Starlight

100% Pure's has been expanding their offerings lately at a dizzying and rapid pace. Notably included are thier Luminous Cremes; a trio of highlighters in shades of pink, white and champagne.

I picked up a tube their champagne shade, "Starlight," hoping to use it as a cream eye shadow. The formula is light, with an almost air-whipped mousse-y consistency, but there are far too many emollients to be used anywhere on the eyelid, creasing appeared almost instantly.

However, it's lovely on the brow bone, cupid's bow, bridge of nose, and of course, along side the cheek bones and orbital bone. It's subtle, not too shimmery and easily portable (the packaging is lightweight and not messy at all). For those looking for a non-toxic substitute for Benefit's High Beam, "Northern Light" is a near identical match. 


Ingredients: Aloe Barbadensis (Organic Aloe Juice)* Leaf, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Argania Spinosa (Organic Argan)* Kernel Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Citrus Aurantium Sinensis (Orange) Fibe, Silica, Vegetable Emulsifying Wax, Persea Gratissima (Avocado)Butter, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Powder, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Powder, Camellia Sinensis (Black Tea) Leaf Powder, Mica, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium(Japanese Honeysuckle) Extract * Certified Organic

$21 / 100% Pure

Red Flower Orange Quince Steam Mist


Green beauty blogs these days gush over the sensory and measurable benefits of using a hydrosol - a spray toner for the face to refresh. This is very similar, only it's for the face, body and hair, plus packs a stronger scent.

Red Flower Orange Quince Steam Mist

Part of Red Flower's Hammam line, the Orange Quince Steam Mist  is the fourth in seven products/steps in a ritual inspired by the traditional hammam sequence, a purification ritual still practiced in Turkey (where Red Flower's founder has roots). To borrow from Red Flower's website, this line traces "its roots back to the ancient roman thermae–the body treatment traditions of the hammam can still be experienced from the far-reaching costa of andalusia, spain to the hot springs of turkey, tunisia and morocco." Think saunas, invigorating scrubs, oil massages, dips into hot and cool pools before finally, lounging on limestone slabs wearing nothing more than a cotton robe and sipping sweetened apple tea.

Back to this spray, it's not strong enough to be a perfume, but has more fragrance than your average toner. It's sweet, spicy and walks the line between exotic and clean. The top notes are floral and fleeting, sweet neroli, rose and bright orange blossom give way to clean citrus notes (quince and grapefruit) that are warmed up with cedar atlas wood.

Designed to be an uplifting aromatherapeutic experience, the spray also boasts natural extracts to balance out the skin. What I love it as, as a quick last step before getting dressed or running out the door, particularly when misted over the hair.

ingredient list:

Tata Harper's Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint

Last month, I sprung for a special Valentine's edition trial set (Be Mine Again: Limited Edition Natural Skincare Try-Me Kit) from Tata Harper, an upscale brand out of Vermont. Samples of her Oil Cleanser, Purifying Cleanser, Beautifying Facial Oil, Concentrated Brightening Serum, Moisturizing Mask, Fortifying Body Lotion, Love Potion Perfume and five samples of her Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tint came tucked inside a red velvet pouch. Oh, and a square of Lake Champlain dark chocolate that was really good. 

The Volumizing Lip and Cheek Tints were what motivated the purchase, I was wooed by the chance to play with generously sized samples of all the shades. Very Popular is quite sheer and shimmery, but the other shades are quite opaque. On lips, they have a vaguely fruit flavor and don't last for ages, but the brighter ones impart a bit of a stain. They blend comfortably over the apples of cheeks and look quite natural.

 My favorite of the shades, Very Vivacious, is a wildly flattering pinked coral. It's a Spring wake up for my pallid winter complexion and I'd recommend it for anyone. Especially for those who balk at experimenting with coral and want a color that would compliment virtually any outfit.  

From left: Very Nice, Very Vivacious, Very Sweet,  Very Charming, Very Naughty.

From left: Very Nice, Very Vivacious, Very Sweet,  Very Charming, Very Naughty.

Tata Harper, herself, is a Columbian born mother of three who's original vocation was as an industrial engineer. After a close family member was diagnosed with cancer, her family sat down with a doctor who advised caution with not only what they ate, and how they cleaned their homes, but with what personal care products they used. When she discovered the lack of non-toxic alternatives for her high-end skincare, she built her own green skincare line from the ground up. When possible, plants are grown and harvested on her 12,000 acre Vermont farm (all organic!) to make her products. Everything else is imported from far flung locales like the Amazon, Israel and Europe. And the production isn't outsourced, the formulas and manufacturing all take place in her onsite lab, where one would imagine her industrial engineering expertise has come in helpful. Besides the Lip and Cheek Tints, the star products for me out of this kit were her Love Potion fragrance – at once a very mature floral and weighty aromatherapy cocktail – and her Rejuvenating Cleanser, which felt fabulous and non-drying.

Tata Harper  / $25 (No longer available)

Guest post on No More Dirty Looks

I unabashedly love the team at No More Dirty Looks. Their book (aptly titled No More Dirty Looks) is the best non-digital resource I've found on the topic of non-toxic beauty. Plus they have a fantastic Quarterly subscription that I highly recommend.

I wrote a guest post for them, detailing my morning (and evening routine).  I'm surprised at how dense it is – as was my husband who often observes me rushing out around getting ready. However, I have at least one day a week where my morning routine post teeth brushing only involves applications of deodorant and lip balm.

I adore the ritual of getting ready, however pared down or extensive it may be. And I may not always bother with mascara, but I will always make a point of keeping my routine non-toxic and clean.

In case you're wondering, this is Anna Karina, not Anna Karenina. ;)

In case you're wondering, this is Anna Karina, not Anna Karenina. ;)

DIY Eye Shadow Palette with Kjaer Weis

The non-toxic beauty industry is growing, but the fact remains that there are some holes where clean alternatives are needed. Case in point, eye shadow palettes. No one puts together a curated palette of colors like Christian Dior, MAC shadow palettes are a mainstay in runway dressing rooms, and Urban Decay's nude eye shadow palettes have become a ubiquitous phenomenon. 

Lily Lilo's Smokey Rose Eye Shadow Palette

Lily Lilo's Smokey Rose Eye Shadow Palette

Looking for something comparable, I gave Lily Lilo's eye shadow palette in Smokey Rose a whirl. A UK based mineral makeup brand, their pressed shadows are talc-free. However, upon opening the compact, I noticed was a strong and odd crayon-ish whiff. Plus the shadows themselves were pretty chalky, the white barely showed up, and the pink looked more like matte bright blush than an eye shadow. The two darker shades seemed promising for a smokey eye, but the colors sat on the skin, looking obvious and crumbly, and didn't blend very well. As time went on, the colors started fading and traveling all around the eye area. I gave it a few more tries before giving up, but not before getting a swatch for reference (at right.)

Kjaer Weis is spoken of adoringly by pro-makeup artists who work with a clean beauty kit. These are the ones I pay a lot of attention to, since their paycheck depends on high performance products. Kjaer Weis' shadows do contain talc, but a cosmetic grade talc that is tested for safety. Her colors are dreamy, soft and understated. All but two of them could be considered safe neutrals, and they blend together in any fathomable combination effortlessly and beautifully. However, they are sold in these very luxe silver individual compacts, the idea that you have an object of beauty that you refill with a new pan after the previous one runs its course – much like Estée Lauder's old school gold powder compacts. After testing samples from Spirit Beauty Lounge, I ordered individual refill pans – sans compacts – in the shades that I thought I'd get most mileage out of.

I looked high and low for palettes, a lot of clean beauty enthusiasts swear by Z Palette, but the aesthetic was too DIY for me. It's just one large magnetic compact with no preset organization. I was afraid it'd look messy as time went on, having pans knocking like pucks on an air-hockey table.  MAC's pro and online stores make magnetic shadow palettes which are a hair wider in diameter than Kjaer Weis, but I went for it anyway. And I'm so glad I did. I used double ended scrapbook tape (though glue or any other adhesive would probably work just as well.) And for those wanting to make a smaller investment, MAC does make eye shadow duo palettes as well.

Getting ready in the morning is so much more fun these days; necessity really is the mother of invention.

Clockwise from top left: Divine, Magnetic, Charmed, Earthy Calm.

Clockwise from top left: Divine, Magnetic, Charmed, Earthy Calm.


Talc, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Bambusa Arundinacea Stem Powder, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Tocopheryl Acetate, Gardenia Florida Fruit Extract, Lonicera Caprifolium(Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica(Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Zinc Stearate. May Contain +/- Mica, Iron oxide (CI 77491), Iron oxide (CI 77492), Iron oxide (CI 77499),Titanium dioxide (CI 77891), Carmine (CI75470). Caution – contains Carmine. Cetified Natural by the CCPB, Italy (KW eye shadows contain bamboo which grows in the wild not in a supervised area, therefore not accepted as organic by the CCPB. 70% of the raw materials in this eye shadow are certified ORGANIC which qualifies it as certified NATURAL)

$27 (Eye shadow refill only) / Kjaer Weis

$8 MAC Pro Palette X 4 / MAC