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.
Not only is it suddenly spring in most of Canada (finally!), it's also Melanoma Awareness Month. So while you're out making hay in the park, at the beach, or in the garden while the sun shines, keep in mind that 90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to UV radiation
from sunlight, making it
the most preventable cause of melanoma. If you're already wearing sunscreen, congrats! Now for the tricky part: Is it the right kind?
Most of us have become diligent about including sunscreen in our
daily skin care routines, but it turns out there's more to choosing a
good one than just the SPF number on the label. Protection is always a
good idea, but the chemical filters used in most sunscreens—including
oxybenzone, octinoxate, and avobenzone—are quickly absorbed through the
These chemicals are meant to protect you by absorbing the sun's harmful rays, but in the process they're absorbed into the body and fail to offer long-term protection (they break down after a few hours in the sun). The most common ingredient in conventional sunscreen is oxybenzone, which penetrates the skin in relatively large amounts, can trigger allergic reactions, is a potential hormone disruptor, says the Environmental Working Group (EWG). A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that a whopping 96 percent of six- to eight-year-old girls had detectable levels of oxybenzone in their urine.
And according to the EWG, oxybenzone is a penetration enhancer, which means it's a chemical that helps other chemicals penetrate the skin. Another con: Sunlight causes oxybenzone to create free radicals that may be linked to cell damage.
So what's a summer-loving gal to do? Since 2007, the EWG has touted two minerals—zinc oxide and titanium dioxide—as 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.
Another no-no is combining retinol or retinyl palmitate products with sunscreen, either mineral or conventional. An active form of vitamin A, retinol is an anti-aging antioxidant used in hundreds of sunscreens, moisturizers, and lip balms. Vitamin A increases photosensitivity in the skin, which means it makes you more susceptible to UV exposure and therefore does more harm than good when used on bright, sunny days.
Fresh Faced's mineral sunscreens are free of oxybenzone, retinol products, and other harmful ingredients. Shop our selection 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.
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!
As much as I'm enjoying cooler nights and humidity-free days of September, these mild changes in weather signal the approach of fall and winter—in other words, months of cold and dry. Just as you pack away your summer dresses and pull out those sweaters and coats, your beauty routine needs a reboot, as well.
Keep your skin looking (and feeling) beautiful in the face of seasonal climate change with Fresh Faced's fall skin-care tips:
1. Two words: gentle cleansing. Consider switching to a cream-based cleanser, which contain higher concentrations of oils, water, and emollients. I like Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser or Suki Moisture-Rich Cleaning Lotion. Or try an oil-based scrub, such as Pai Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator, to reap the benefit of exfoliation with the bonus of feeding your skin with hydrating oils.
2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The best time to feed your skin is directly after cleansing, as soon as you step out of the shower or bath. It helps seal in whatever moisture your face has already absorbed. I'm a huge fan of facial oils and serums, which can help calm the skin and regulate oil production. Oils can be used to supplement your daily moisturizer or on their own, no matter your skin type.
3. Be aware of changes. If you've been prone to oily skin all summer, you might notice it evening out as the temperature drops. And if your normal summer complexion becomes dry, adjust your go-to products accordingly.
4. Remain diligent about sunscreen. Sun protection is essential year-round. This one's not negotiable.
5. Give your hands some extra love. All that handwashing may be good for your health, but it sure takes a toll on your skin, especially as the air begins to lose humidity in the fall. Keep your favourite hand cream handy—even consider tossing one into your bag for on-the-go treatment. I am seriously into Revolution Organics All-Over Body Balm for just this reason (I have them stashed all over the place: in the car, by the kitchen sink, on my desk, etc.).
6. Protect your lips. Find a non-petroeum-based lip balm and start moisturizing early to prevent dry and chapped lips. My absolute favourite is Pai Bergamot Lip Balm, but all of Fresh Faced's lip treatments are lovely, effective, and petroleum-free.
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.