I love a good foundation to give my skin tone that extra boost for special occasions and events, but my go-to product for coverage is traditionally a tinted moisturizer. Actually, truth be told, Laura Mercier's Tinted Moisturizer SPF20 was one of the hardest things to give up when I made the switch to all-natural beauty brands. That is, until I figured out how insanely easy it is to make a fully customized and super clean alternative.
All you need to create your own special blend is your favourite daily moisturizing cream (admittedly this won't work if you're an oil-only gal) and the right Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation colour for your skin tone. On the back of your hand, using your finger or a makeup brush, mix a nickel-sized amount of moisturizer with a bit of Alima mineral foundation. That's it! You can adjust as needed—the more powder you add, the higher the coverage. Apply to skin for a smooth, even, dewy look.
Even better, this method also works with sunscreen. Swap out the moisturizer for mineral sunscreen to create a custom tinted moisturizer with SPF.
Every spring, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a U.S.-based environmental health research and advocacy organization, releases an annual Guide to Sunscreens to help consumers make better decisions when choosing what products will help them keep wrinkles—and skin cancer—at bay for another year. (And by the way, if you're not familiar with it, EWG's Skin Deep database is an invaluable tool for the natural beauty buff.) This year's guide includes some essential tips for the sun-loving, nature-seeking outdoors(wo)man in all of us:
1. Don't fall for high SPF labels. It seems simple to assume we'll get twice as much protection from an SPF100 than an SPF50, but this just isn't the case. According to EWG, in reality the extra protection is negligible—properly applied SPF50 blocks 98 percent of sunburn rays; SPF100 blocks 99 percent. In addition, higher SPF values can tempt you to stay in the sun too long. Even if you don't burn, your skin may be damaged. Conventional high-SPF products also require higher concentrations of sun-filtering chemicals, some of which penetrate the skin and can cause tissue damage and hormone disruption. EWG TIP: Stick to mineral SPFs between 15 and 50, and reapply often.
2. Avoid vitamin A in sunscreen. Eating vitamin A-laden vegetables is good for you, but spreading vitamin A on your skin may not be. When used in a night cream, this form of vitamin A is touted for its anti-aging effects. But on sun-exposed skin, retinyl palmitate may speed development of skin tumors and lesions. EWG TIP: Avoid any sun product whose label says retinyl palmitate, retinol, or vitamin A.
3. Ingredients matter. Avoid the sunscreen chemical oxybenzone, a synthetic estrogen that penetrates the skin and can disrupt the hormone system. According to EWG, two minerals—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—are the best available sunscreen ingredients. Instead of being absorbed into the body, mineral sunscreens work by sitting on top of the skin and reflecting the sun's rays. They're also less irritating for problem or sensitive skin, are non-allergenic, and do not break down in sunlight or disrupt the body's hormones. EWG TIP: Look for active ingredients zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, or Mexoryl SX.
Shop our collection of vitamin-A-free mineral sunscreens from Canadian brands Consonant and Green Beaver here.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of hosting Rachel Winard, Soapwalla creator and chef, on her first trip to Toronto. While she was here she graciously offered to shoot some video content, and below is the first in a series of five chats focused on Soapwalla. In this episode, Rachel told Andrea Victory-LaCasse of ShopPretty.ca and I about the inspiration behind her amazing brand and her own personal beauty philosophy.
Stay tuned for the other spoils of our shoot, where we find out more about Rachel's cult-fave deodorant cream, her new toning mists, the benefits of her face serum and body oil, and a DIY strawberry face mask. Subscribe to Fresh Faced's new YouTube channel here.
Falling into a rut is something we all do at one time or another, and our beauty habits are no exception. One night you fall into bed with your makeup on, exhausted, and the next thing you know, it's become your nighttime routine. Below are six bad habits to break to help maintain a healthy, beautiful glow.
1. Skipping sunscreen. While this might seem like a no-brainer to some of us, nearly a quarter of Canadian women are still skipping the SPF (not to mention the 60+ percent of men who leave the house unprotected). Adding a mineral sunscreen to your routine (year-round!) is one of the best ways to prevent premature aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation—as well as to avoid potentially deadly skin cancer.
2. Hitting the hay with makeup on. I get it: Sometimes washing your face is the last thing on your list at the end of long day. But pores that are left clogged with makeup and grime while you sleep may erupt and result in an unwelcome surprise come morning. Your skin needs to breathe and produce sebum, a waxy oil that helps moisturize and protect your face, in order to function well and regenerate. Make cleansing a nightly ritual.
3. Picking pimples. Tempting as it is to squeeze and pick at the mere hint of a zit, doing so inevitably makes said blemish worse (and last twice as long!). To avoid infection and scarring, leave pimples alone. When you squeeze, you break the wall of the clogged pore, allowing bacteria to leak out and spread beneath the surface of the skin. Gross!
4. Overplucking. We've all seem them: Women who've gone off the deep end with overplucking. Their eyebrows are a source of wonderment: oddly shaped, oddly curved pencil lines, with nary a hair in sight. Eyebrow hairs actually don't grow that quickly, so if you get carried away in front of the mirror, you'll be paying the price for longer than you think. Tweeze a few hairs at a time, and step back to assess them from a distance before moving on. When in doubt, see a pro once or twice a year to lay a good foundation.
5. Biting your nails. Beyond the obvious aesthetic consequences of biting your fingernails, the germs in your mouth can lead to torn cuticles, hangnails, or infection. Bacteria and viruses can also be transferred from your hands to your mouth. Enough said.
6. Overexfoliating. Less is definitely more when it comes to exfoliating. Overdoing it will irritate your skin and cause dryness and possibly broken capillaries. Your skin naturally sheds most dead cells on its own, anyway. Stripping away the skin's natural oils with an exfoliant will only cause a vicious cycle of irritation in the long run. If you have oily skin, be especially careful not to overdo it, as it may cause your sebaceous glands to produce even more oil. Redness is not a good sign.
This is the second in a series of awesome guest posts by Toronto beauty writer Andrea Victory-LaCasse of ShopPretty.ca. We're thrilled to have her creative, expert approach to one of the biggest trends for spring 2013: nineties retro. Part two of the series is all about skin care and how to achieve that Cindy Crawford minimalist look with all-natural, toxin-free products.
Growing up with Nirvana, waifish CK ads, and Doc Martens, it seems soon to be calling the nineties "retro." The seventies were what I considered retro. The nineties were so now—or not, I guess (it was twenty years ago, after all). Two decades ago, the days of my teens were exciting times: I discovered magazines and, subsequently, a boundless enthusiasm for makeup. Attempting my first forays into face painting meant coverup, and following the advice of my friends, I slathered on a pretty thick base, so my early days of beautification were spent under a heavy layer of pancake foundation.
Thankfully, a freshness swept in with minimalism, and upon my discovery of Cindy Crawford’s 1996 book Cindy Crawford’s Basic Face, my attempts to hide my skin went by the wayside for a while. Known for her no-makeup makeup, a quote from the supermodel's makeup workbook changed how I felt about my look. "Sometimes I don't care if I have bags under my eyes because I think it looks womanly and kind of sexy." Her statement gave me permission to adopt a simplistic routine. (This plus a combination of Calvin Klein minimalism, which also made a strong case for the naked face.)
These days I approach my undereye circles with both a sense of womanliness and a stick of coverup, and am always happy to see runways presenting a slew of bare-faced beauties. Standing out this Spring/Summer 2013 with minimal coverage were the models at Sportmax. (Don't worry, subtle coverup slyly applied means you, too, can hack it.)
Get the look: SW Basics Cleanser ($26) is minimalist skin care at it's best. Organic rosewater, glycerin, and organic tea tree oil makes for a gentle clean. Follow with a non-greasy moisturizer. Pai Geranium and Thistle Combination Skin Cream ($47.50) will keep skin hydrated and luminous. If completely bare isn't your forte, try Vapour Organic Beauty Illusionist Concealer ($22) around the nose, under the eyes, and on red areas, and blend really well into the skin. A light and breathable coverup with easy stick application, it's cruelty-free, gluten-free, and manufactured using wind power.
Sometimes it's easy to forget (even for a beauty retailer like me) that skin care and cosmetics often have a "best before" date. Expired makeup and moisturizers can cause skin irritations and eye infections and even just plain ol' pimples—stuff most of us could live without. And I'm often asked if organic and natural products have a shorter shelf life than drugstore and department store brands: Do they go "off" more quickly, since they're made without the synthetic preservatives found in conventional products? To find out, I went directly to the source: the creators of a few of Fresh Faced's best-selling brands.
Mairin Cipolla, marketing manager at Kahina Giving Beauty, says a good rule of thumb is to consider whether or not a product is easily contaminated by fingers or lips or other body parts. So, for instance, if your eye cream comes in a jar and is applied with your fingers, there is substantial contact with air and skin and more chance of contamination. These products should ideally be replaced every 6 months. If, on the other hand, your moisturizer comes from a pump bottle or your serum from a dropper, the products will generally be more stable for a longer period of time (say, a year).
Pai Skincare's organic moisturizers have a 18-month minimum shelf life. And provided you store them in a cool, dark place like your bathroom cabinet, they could last as long as 36 months, thanks in part to air-tight packaging and a number of natural ingredients that provide excellent protection from bacterial growth.
You're in luck when it comes to makeup. Mineral cosmetics are at a distinct advantage in terms of shelf life. Alima Pure makeup contains nothing but pure minerals, which means they have no expiration dates. "Bacteria cannot grow in minerals, and so as long as you don't introduce any contaminants (water or other 'organic' matter), they will last indefinitely," says Alyson Hancock, regional sales manager at Alima.
Vapour Organic Beauty products last 2 years, according to account specialist Tia Cozart, although the company has done some recent research that suggests Vapour has an even longer, 30-month shelf life.
It's also worth considering that active skin care ingredients (think antioxidants or hyaluronic acid) can lose potency over time. I choose not to sell bulk or oversize products at Fresh Faced for just this reason. Better to buy small amounts more often than have a large bottle of moisturizer or serum that might sit on your shelf for a while and lose efficacy.
There are a few things you can do to prolong the life of your favourite eye cream or facial oil. Store them in a dry, dark area, away from direct heat and sunlight. Wash your hands before touching products with your fingers, don't add water or oil, and avoid sharing makeup. To keep your mascara fresh, pull the wand out just once—pumping it can trap air and bacteria. Use the following guidelines to make sure you—and your skin—are as fresh as can be.
Moisturizers and cleansers in pump bottles: Toss after 1 year.
Creams and cleansers in jars or pots: Toss after 6 months.
Facial oils and serums with dropper dispensers: Toss after 1 year.
Toners with pumps or spritzers: Toss after 1 year.
Lip colour: Toss after 1 years, or if gloss or lipstick starts to look and feel cakey.
Mascara: Toss after 3 months.
Nail polish: Toss after 1 year.
Eyeliner pencil: Toss after 18 months; sharpen before each use.
Liquid eyeliner: Toss after 3 months.
Of course, if a product's smell, colour, or texture has changed, or if it has been exposed to prolonged heat, you should definitely replace it.
I don't know about you, but for this outdoors-loving gal, Canadian winter spells D-R-Y S-K-I-N. I might lace up my running shoes and breeze through the door as though the grass is still green and the temperature mild, but my skin can't be fooled by my mind-over-matter attitude to the dry, frigid air that pervades in winter.
Enter sodium hyaluronate. No, it's not a crazy synthetic compound that promises to work miracles on my poor frostbitten cheeks. It's the salt of a naturally occurring carbohydrate called hyaluronic acid (HA) that is found in every cell in the human body. HA is one of the most water-loving molecules in nature; it's a humectant, which means it absorbs and binds to water, and it helps keep skin supple and well-hydrated (among other things). Young skin is smooth and elastic in part because it contains large amounts of HA. During the aging process, the skin loses its ability to maintain those high concentrations, and thus its ability to hold water.
Dermatologists use HA in injectibles like Restylane in large part because it's a naturally occurring substance and the body doesn't see it as foreign. It's easy to use and safe—the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database gives HA its lowest hazard rating—0. HA is also a popular ingredient in topical beauty products, such as moisturizers and makeup, for its nourishing and hydrating qualities.
Sodium hyaluronate has a smaller molecular size than HA, making it easier for the skin to absorb. It can hold more water than any other natural substance—up to 1000 times its weight! Thanks to its superhero ability to attract and bind moisture to the skin, it's definitely on my list of must-have natural skin care ingredients to get me through winter.
And sodium hyaluronate:
Kahina Giving Beauty Toning Mist, Brightening Serum, Eye Cream, Facial Lotion, Eye Serum
Tata Harper Eye Creme, Rejuvenating Serum, Repairative Moisturizer, Rebuilding Moisturizer, Hydrating Floral Essence
John Masters Organics Firming Eye Gel