The end of a year always brings a proliferation of best-of lists (what a great year 2012 has been for green beauty!), so I thought it appropriate to share my favourite products in one last post in what has been an exciting and fulfilling year for Fresh Faced. Since I launched the shop on Earth Day back in April, I've been awed and inspired by the response Fresh Faced has garnered from across the country. Thank you, Canada! I have great plans for 2013, including new brands, new shop features, and a pop-up store or two, and I promise to stay focused on my goal of providing superior service, outstanding products, and a great e-commerce experience for Canadian consumers who are passionate about what they put on their skin. And now, without further ado, here's my list of the best in Fresh Faced beauty from the year that was.
ILIA Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner and Lipstick
ILIA lip products are the perfect marriage of organic ingredients and modern hues—and they come in a luxe stainless case you can be proud to stow in your most stylin' bag. Since these arrived in the shop in early December, I've been obsessed with Tinted Lip Conditioner in Bang Bang—and I'm not normally a lipstick wearer. C'est magnifique!
Tata Harper Refreshing Cleanser
Tata Harper's reputation certainly preceded her; I expected a lot from her high-end natural line, and I wasn't disappointed. I've been using Refreshing Cleanser on my combination/sensitive skin for a couple of months now and my skin is clear, clean, and hydrated. It doesn't foam, doesn't leave a film, and doesn't dry out my skin—plus it smells deliciously fresh and fruity. It might be a bit pricier than you're used to, but a little goes a long way (I'm barely a quarter of the way through the 4-oz bottle I started in November).
Green Beaver Certified Organic SPF Spray
It might seem an odd time of year to think about body sunscreen, but Green Beaver's SPF27 Spray blew away the competition last summer, so my list wouldn't be complete without it. It couldn't be easier to apply and is nonwhitening, fragrance-free, biodegradable, vegan, and super moisturizing. Zero chalky sheen! Broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection from a mineral sunscreen made right here in Canada.
Pai Skincare Geranium & Thistle Combination Skin Cream
Full disclosure: UK-based Pai Skincare was a big part of the inspiration behind Fresh Faced. I was so impressed with the brand's top-quality skin care line made from super-clean ingredients that I wanted to sell the stuff myself! The Geranium & Thistle Combination moisturizer is my daily go-to hydrator (and my husband's, too!); it's nourishing and glow-inducing and won't break the bank. What more could a gal (and her man) want?
Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer
Finally, a line of organic, natural makeup comparable to Sephora brands. Illusionist Concealer's stick format makes it a cinch to apply, and it covers redness, dark circles, and blemishes effortlessly with a luminous natural finish. Oh, and an honourable mention definitely belongs to Vapour's Mesmerize Eye Colour—I'm a big fan of cream eye shadows, especially as I get older, and this one is perfect for a quick morning pick-me-up or layered for depth.
One Love Organics Skin Savior Beauty Balm
This all-natural balm is such a versatile multitasker, I'm not sure how I lived without it. A makeup remover, cleanser, illuminator, hair tamer, and head-to-toe moisturizer, its thick, waterless formulation (only 10 ingredients!) is super soothing and nourishing. If you're a mineral powder devotee, you can also use Skin Savior to create your own custom treatment foundation. In short: It's a revelation.
Kahina Giving Beauty 100% Argan Oil
Facial oils are hands-down the greatest achievement in beauty of the past decade (in my humble opinion, at least!). I use Kahina's minimally processed, fairly traded organic argan oil as a nighttime treatment and my skin thanks me for it. It feels luxurious going on—light and non-greasy, but incredibly moisturizing, and suitable for my combination skin. And I love seeing the chic violet-glass bottle on my bathroom shelf—what can I say, I'm a sucker for nice packaging, and in this case, the external matches the internal.
Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2013!
Most of us can agree on this: A good facial cleanser is the first step to taking care of your skin. In addition to removing dirt, grime, and impurities; dissolving makeup; and unblocking your pores (without stripping away moisture), proper cleansing opens the door for other skin care products to perform at their best.
Not all cleansers are created equal. How should you choose from among the thousands of products on the market? A few good rules of thumb: Always avoid putting harsh detergents on your face. No matter what your grandmother may have told you, good old soap and water is not your best defense. If your skin feels tight, dry, or squeaky when you step out of the shower, you need a creamier cleanser. If you have oily skin, try a gentle foaming cleanser.
That said, whenever I see the words "foaming" and "gel" in the name of a product, I worry about it containing harmful ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate or sodium laureth sulfate. These petroleum-based foaming agents are inexpensive surfactants often used in personal care products that can cause endocrine disruption, affect the nervous system, and lead to cancer. A healthier choice is a cleanser that depends on coco glucoside, a gentler, non-ionic surfactant derived from renewable raw materials like coconut oil and fruit sugars. My best-bet picks for all-natural cleansers suited for oily skin are John Masters Organics Jojoba & Ginseng Exfoliating Cleanser, One Love Organics Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser, John Masters Organics Rose Foaming Face Wash, and Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser.
For dry or mature skin, look for creamy, soothing cleansing lotions and milks, which contain higher concentrations of oils, water, and emollients. Rose water helps the skin to retain moisture, and glycerin is a natural, gentle humectant that draws moisture to the surface of the skin. Try Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, John Masters Organics Linden Blossom Creme Cleanser, Suki Moisture-Rich Cleansing Lotion, or Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser.
Glycerin is also beneficial for sensitive skin, since it has been shown to encourage normal cell maturation. Steer clear of exfoliating cleansers and scrubs if you are prone to irritation or rosacea, and avoid alcohol in your skin care regimen. Aloe vera is excellent for combating swelling, inflammation, and redness. Give these natural cleansers a go: Green Beaver Daily Facial Cleanser, Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, or Pangea Organics Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser.
If you have combination skin, it may take a bit of trial and error to find a cleanser that doesn't leave your face feeling tight but does leave behind your skin's natural oils. Thyme, tea tree oil, aloe vera, clay, and witch hazel are effective at calming acne. Foaming cleansers may be too drying for acneic skin, leading to excess sebum production as your skin tries to overcompensate for the loss of its own oils. Take the middle ground and consider Green Beaver Daily Facial Cleanser, Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser, or Pangea Organics Egyptian Calendula & Blood Orange Cleanser.
I grew up spending summers on the beaches and lakes of beautiful Vancouver Island. It was as lovely as it sounds and I wouldn't trade those years for the world—but I would trade in my deep brown tans for a paler, sunscreen-protected hue. I'm kind of embarrassed now to think about how proud I was of my beach-babe bronze, given what we all know about the dangers of unprotected sun exposure.
Now, in my thirties, I'm starting to see the consequences of my actions in the form of sun spots and—egads—wrinkles. Twenty years of daily running—sans sunscreen!—didn't help, either. I'm proud to have mended my ways and now view midday sun from under the brim of a hat or slathered in mineral sunscreen.
Those of you schooled in the ways of mineral sunscreen know it can be notoriously difficult to rub in and can leave a residue that'll have you looking somewhat ghostly. Some natural sunscreens use zinc oxide ground into ultra-fine nanoparticles to eliminate this chalky residue, but recent research has indicated that nanoparticles may cause genetic damage that could lead to cancer. Kind of defeats the purpose.
Which brings me to Green Beaver's Certified Organic SPF27 Spray. Biochemist Karen Clark and her husband, microbiologist Alain Menard, founders of the Hawkesbury, Ontario-based Green Beaver, have answered my prayers. Their mineral sunscreen spray couldn't be easier to apply and is nonwhitening, fragrance-free, biodegradable, vegan, and super moisturizing. Zero chalky sheen! With non-nano zinc oxide as its active ingredient, it offers broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Plus Green Beaver products carry Natural Product Numbers issued by Health Canada, which means they've been found safe and effective in clinical trials.
Fresh Faced Grade A+
Zinc oxide (24%), organic sunflower seed oil, caprylic/capric triglyceride, dicaprylyl carbonate, glyceryl isostearate, polyhydroxystearic acid, silica, jojoba esters, d-alpha tocopheryl acetate, organic raspberry seed oil.
Let’s face it: acne isn’t just a problem for kids. Zits, pimples, whiteheads—whatever you want to call them—are also a common skin concern for adults, too. Caused by an overproduction of oil that clogs pores and attracts bacteria, acne vulgaris is linked to a range of factors, including genetics, hormones, stress, diet, and—you guessed it—cosmetics and skin care products.
It’s definitely important to consider holistic treatment of acne, including dietary changes (eat less dairy and sugar) and hormonal balance (a naturopathic doctor can help), but most of us run for the beauty counter the minute we spot an angry red pimple peering back at us in the mirror. The problem is that most conventional acne treatments depend on one of two controversial ingredients: benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. The former can cause burning, peeling, over-drying, and irritation of the skin, in addition to generating free radicals, which foster premature aging and a decrease in the skin’s natural healing abilities, and have been linked to cancer. Salicylic acid, while a naturally occurring beta hydroxy acid, causes sun sensitivity (the U.S. FDA recommends extra sun protection when using products containing salicylic acid) and can accumulate in the body and affect organ toxicity. And Environment Canada has found salicylic acid in major water bodies like the St. Lawrence.
Fortunately, there are a few gentler means to achieving calmer, smoother skin. Enter thyme, tea tree oil, aloe vera, clay, and witch hazel. Researchers at Leeds Metropolitan University discovered recently that herbal preparations of thyme could be more effective at treating acne than prescription creams. In fact, the study revealed that thyme tincture has a greater antibacterial effect than standard concentrations of benzoyl peroxide.
Because tea tree oil has antiseptic and antifungal properties, it helps kill bacteria that cause acne and other skin and nail conditions. But proceed with caution: Tea tree oil is very strong and should never be applied directly to the skin unless diluted properly with a carrier oil that suits your skin type.
Aloe vera can be used to help reduce any swelling, inflammation, and redness associated with acne. You can use skin care products that list aloe vera among their ingredients or even extract the sap yourself from an aloe vera plant.
Another effective natural treatment is clay. Rich in minerals and enzymes, its drawing power will clean and open up pores, extracting excess sebum. Clay also has exfoliating properties.
No need to blow your budget on expensive toners—witch hazel, extracted from the leaves and bark of the witch hazel shrub, has strong astringent and antioxidant properties. The tannins in witch hazel help tighten pores and reduce inflammation, and it’s a great gentle and non-drying alternative to conventional alcohol-based toners.
If you're not keen on turning your kitchen into a chemistry lab, try the following Fresh Faced products the next time a breakout has you freaked out.
Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes facial redness, dilated capillaries or visible blood vessels, and, in some people, small hard bumps or pimples. I've been wary of it since my teens after clueing in to the fact that my mother's rosy flush was the result of more than just too much sun.
Rosacea is pretty common, affecting more than 2 million Canadians—mostly fair-skinned women over the age of 30—although many others are suffering but don't know it. Symptoms, which typically appear on the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead, may be triggered by a number of factors, including spicy food, alcohol, sunlight, and extreme weather.
So what's a ruddy-cheeked gal to do? Consistent use of gentle skin care and makeup can make a difference and improve the look of your skin. A good rule of thumb is to search for products that are designed for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin and to avoid astringents, exfoliating agents, or other harsh irritants. Keep it simple—the more products you apply to your skin, the more likely you are expose yourself to an ingredient that may aggravate it. Daily sun protection is a must for any skin type, but rosacea sufferers should be especially vigilant. Sun exposure is linked to the visible blood vessels and severe redness often associated with the condition.
Give these gentle cleansers a try:
Choose moisturizers intended to help soothe and hydrate sensitive skin.
Feed your skin the nutrients it needs by adding an oil to your daily skin care routine.
Stick to mineral sunscreens that sit on top of the skin and reflect UVA and UVB rays.
A green-tinted primer can help correct the appearance of redness and even out skin tone. Clean mineral makeup is the perfect choice for rosacea sufferers as it typically doesn't contain potentially irritating ingredients.