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!
I just read a post online that started with "Are you concerned about wrinkles, sun damage, and dry skin?" I mean, isn't that kind of a no-brainer? I can't think of a single woman who wants skin that could be even remotely described as damaged, dry, or wrinkled. Rather than slathering my face in potentially toxic "cosmeceuticals" like retinol creams, alpha hydroxy and glycolic acids, skin whiteners, and peptide complexes, though, I'd prefer to coax out my skin's radiance with the natural help of good ol' Mother Earth.
Sometimes a less-than-perfect complexion is the result of genetics; sometimes we can blame age, sun exposure, or an unhealthy lifestyle. Whatever your concern—be it dry skin, pigmentation problems, or sun damage—an all-natural, gentle skin care routine can help heal past wounds and allow your skin to reclaim its natural moisture balance. Most of us need no more than four good-quality products in our daily regimen to achieve smoother, hydrated skin.
Your cleanser is really the first step to taking good care of your skin. To help heal damage or prevent dryness, look for creamy, soothing cleansing lotions (rather than gels), which contain high concentrations of oils, water, and emollients. Kahina Giving Beauty Facial Cleanser's high concentrations of vitamin E and fatty acids in argan oil, combined with organic willow bark and papaya extract, replace moisture loss, eliminate toxins, gently tone and exfoliate, and brighten skin. I also love Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. Suitable for all skin types, this alcohol- and detergent-free cleanser is bursting with omega 3 and vitamins A, B, and E to replenish the skin's natural moisture barrier.
Approach exfoliation sparingly—those of us with dry or damaged skin probably only need to exfoliate once a week, twice at the most to help slough off dead skin cells and reveal newer, smoother skin below the surface. If you have especially sensitive or reaction-prone skin, a Pai organic muslin facecloth might be all you need. Massage a few pumps of your favourite cream cleanser onto damp skin and remove with a warm, dampened muslin cloth using a circular motion to gently exfoliate. Or mix One Love Organics Brand New Day Microderma Scrub & Mask with warm water or cleanser, gently massage into face and throat, and rinse. Its soothing silk peptide, milk powder, and pineapple enzymes will polish away dead cells and help protect new ones.
Facial Oil or Serum:
Hands down, my facial oil is my favourite skin-care product. Used on their own or added to moisturizer, oils can penetrate deeply to restore hydration and cure—rather than cover—dryness. They're definitely a superhero when it comes to repairing damage and replenishing moisture:
Choose a moisturizer based on your skin type and personal preference, avoiding the usual nasties like phthalates, synthetic fragrance, siloxanes, and propylene glycol (rest assured that no Fresh Faced products contain these ingredients!). The idea is to heal, rather than hide, whatever ails your complexion, and the best way to do so is by following a pure, natural skin care routine.
As a runner and hot yoga enthusiast, I like a good sweat. Unfortunately, my skin isn't always as big a fan as I am. When it comes to cleansing my face of all that road dirt and salty perspiration, I need a gel cleanser to rid my pores of the pollution I regularly subject them to. I learned the hard way, however, that most conventional gel cleansers use sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate—petroleum-based foaming agents and detergents that can cause endocrine disruption, affect the nervous system, and lead to cancer—to create those tingly bubbles many of us crave.
Enter One Love Organics Easy Does It Foaming Cleanser: a delicate, soap-free cleanser that cleans my pores without stripping my skin of moisture. With a unique combination of organic Chilean soap bark, cold-pressed apple oil, and vegetable glycerin, Easy Does It lathers into a soothing, non-drying foam that softens as it cleans. Every single ingredient is plant-based, with the sudsing power coming from coconuts. It comes by its lovely and light apple scent naturally—cold pressed from dried apple seeds, apple seed oil is rich in essential fatty acids, which help to restore normal skin barrier function, calm inflammation, and condition the skin. And apple seed oil contains a high amount of natural sulfur, used for centuries to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.
U.S.-based One Love Organics hand-makes and hand-fills all of its products using ethically sourced raw materials, and donates 1% of annual profits to charities that support women and children in need. A cleanser with a clean conscience!
Fresh Faced Grade: A
Turns out that eyes aren't just the windows to the soul. More than anywhere else on the face, the skin around the eyes tells a lot about age, health, and diet. As I navigate the waters of my thirties, the eyes staring back from my reflection appear not only wiser and kinder (yay!), but increasingly tired, crinkly, and puffy, too.
The skin around the eyes is unlike any other area of the body. It's much thinner there, more so as we age, and much more absorptive—which means we should be very careful about what's in the creams and potions we slather on it. If there's one element of your beauty routine that should be all-natural, it's your eye cream. And a holistic approach that includes elements of lifestyle and diet is your best defense against dreaded dark circles, bags, and crow's feet.
The cause? A combination of genes and lifestyle. Excess pigmentation in the skin is the likely culprit behind most chronic dark circles. And since the skin under the eyes is so thin, dilated blood vessels can show through, giving a bluish cast. Allergens and sun exposure tend to worsen their appearance.
For a quick fix, only makeup can help in the short term. The right concealer will be a shade slightly warmer than your natural skin tone. Use a small, pointed brush to apply it, and consider following it with a dusting of translucent, shimmery powder to illuminate and set the concealer in place.
For the longer term, foods rich in vitamin K help fortify blood-vessel walls, so munch on brown rice, eggs, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, cornmeal, and liver. Daily use of eye creams or serums that contain vitamins C and K, which can revitalize skin and add volume, should also help. Treatments with vitamin A can help bolster vitamin K activity. Fresh Faced best bets for dark circles: Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Cream, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend, John Masters Organics Vitamin C Anti-Aging Serum.
As with dark circles, some eye puffiness is genetic—and it will worsen with age as we produce more free radicals that cause the skin to lose elasticity and structure. But genetics or not, we've all woken up to periorbital puffiness—otherwise known as puffy eyes, likely as a result of allergies, late nights, too much salt or booze, or not enough water.
Morning puffy eyes will typically resolve on own their by lunchtime (this might be one of the few instances of gravity working in our favour!). To speed up the process, place cool cucumber slices or chilled tea bags (caffeinated, for the tannins) over your eyes for 10 minutes to help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling, and drink plenty of water. Eating vitamin-C rich food will support collagen production, and reducing your salt intake will decrease your fluid retention. Exercise, and therefore circulation, will help your body move fluid efficiently, avoiding accumulation.
Choose eye creams and serums with vitamins A and E, which will help fight free radicals; green tea and witch hazel can aid in diminishing excess fluid and tightening the eye skin. Fresh Faced picks: John Masters Organics Firming Eye Gel, One Love Organics Morning Glory Brightening Complexion Booster, Soapwalla Restorative Face Serum, Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Cream.
I'd rather call these laugh lines—it sounds so much lovelier, but either way, the fine lines that begin to appear at the corners of the eyes in your late twenties or early thirties are a sure sign that you're living life. Repeated muscle movement from smiling, laughing, and squinting are the culprit. You could take the robot approach and never crack another smile, but sun exposure and other environmental pollutants will probably get you in the end anyway. Instead, look for eye products that contain evening primrose, sesame, and jojoba oils to help hydrate the sensitive skin near your peepers. Hyaluronic acid can help increase the skin's absorption of vitamin C, which fights free radicals and sun damage. Chamomile, allantoin, calendula, milk thistle, tea, and licorice can all help reduce inflammation. Fresh Faced picks: Pangea Organics Turkish Rose and White Tea Eye Cream, Pai Echium BioRejuvenate Eye Cream, Kahina Giving Beauty Eye Cream, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend.
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.
Collagen is the most common protein in the human body: It's in tendons, muscles, bone, cartilage, and skin. In fact, it's the main structural component of the dermis—the lower layer of the skin—and it's how our skin gets its elasticity. As we age, collagen production slows, and elastin—the substance that enables skin to "snap" back into place when it's pulled—gradually loses its spring. Collagen production is also hindered by environmental toxins, sun exposure, and smoking.
Collagen as an ingredient is often sold as a miracle wrinkle eraser—in the form of creams, injectables, and oral supplements—but the effects of these products are debatable. Creams and other topical skin products that contain collagen may help moisturize, but they don't provide any firming benefits since the collagen molecule is too large to be absorbed through the skin. And most of us are blissfully ignorant about the source of the collagen used in these products (it's usually derived from cow and pig tissues). According to Ecoholic expert Adria Vasil, some collagen injectables even contain genetically engineered human collagen made from lab-grown human skin. Pretty gross.
If the idea of ingesting, injecting, or applying bovine and porcine proteins in the hope of smoothing away your wrinkles is more than you can stomach, consider a more natural approach to refreshing your skin. Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen, so increasing your intake through food and personal care products (see our suggestions below) can help improve the health and appearance of your skin. At lunchtime tomorrow, think sweet potatoes, strawberries, broccoli, kale, and oranges.
While you're at it, you might also increase your dosage of antioxidants. By definition, antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of molecules (which can produce free radicals), and therefore they can help prevent some cellular damage that contributes to aging and disease. Foods rich in antioxidants include beans, berries, broccoli, pecans, and green tea.
Consider these Fresh Faced goodies before you reach for the collagen pills or go under the needle:
Though proper skin care and natural ingredients are fairly serious stuff in my world, I'm not immune to the lure of celebrity gossip now and then. In my case, I'm thrilled when I find out which of my favourite TV and movie stars use natural products. It's sort of validation of what I believe in (hey, if Sarah Jessica Parker uses John Masters Organics on her hair and pulls in millions of dollars a year while doing so, then I can trust that brand too!) and great PR for independent, thoughtful brands that work hard to make clean, effective products.
Famous folk who use Fresh Faced brands: