Au Natural Factual: Neroli Oil

When I see neroli oil (Citrus aurantiumlisted as an essential oil ingredient in any product or mixture, I immediately think of bright flowers and exotic, sweet, calming fragrances. Doubly alluring as the oil itself is the unique way neroli oil is produced: acquired from bitter orange tree blossoms through water distillation. Pale yellow in color and similar in scent to bergamot and lime, neroli essential oil is used in facial toners for its antibacterial and emollient properties. Toners and facial products with neroli oil have also been used to fade acne scars, cleanse skin and improve skintone. Neroli oil’s distinct aroma and therapeutic effects have also been used as an anti-depressant and aromatherapy tool to calm anxiety.

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Happy New Year! Top 10 Posts From 2013

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Wishing you a healthy and happy 2014! In celebration of the New Year, check out the most read posts on Plein Vanity from 2013:

10. Juice Beauty Event & Reflecting Gloss Reviewjuicebeautyevent

9. My VISIA Complexion Analysis

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8. Berry Sultry: ILIA Beauty Arabian Knights Tinited Lip Conditioner ReviewArabianKnights1

7. Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick in Knockout and Holiday ReviewVapour3-1

6. My Organic Lash Love: Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara ReviewJuice Beauty Mascara 1

5. Voluminous Lashes with Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascaraalimapure-mascara-1-2

4. Beauty Chat: Svetlana Sanchez, Founder of Gressa Skinsvetlana1

3. A Countertop-Worthy Makeup Organizer thebeautystation

2. 100% Pure Tinted Moisturizer Review 

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1. Easy as Pai: Pai Skincare Review paiskincare1

*Runner up: Au Natural Factual: Witch Hazel*

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To see more posts from yesteryear (okay, so it’s not that far back), click on over to the Archives.

From makeup to skincare to sustainable fashion, this year has been a whirlwind of awesome: meeting and connecting with other bloggers and brands, learning more about makeup and healthattending interesting events, being featured on Organic Beauty Talk and lastly, discovering I can succeed in doing something I love. Looking forward to more exciting moments ahead! 

Thanks for reading and see you lots more in 2014! 🙂

What else would you like to see on Plein Vanity in 2014? Let me know!

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Au Natural Factual: Elderberry

elderberries

Elderberry or elder (Sambucus nigra, S. Canadensis) has traditionally been used on the skin to treat wounds or taken as medicine to treat respiratory illnesses like the cold and flu. Elder is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that grows in wet or dry soil in sunny locations. Native to Europe, Africa and parts of Asia, it is also widespread in North America. The flowers and berries are the components used for medicinal purposes. The elder flowers and berries must be cooked before they are collected to be used. Using raw and unripe berries can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and can be poisonous.

Many beneficial properties in elderberry have led to the belief that the flowering plant has anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer properties. Elderberry has been used for sinuses, nasal and chest congestion, back, leg and nerve pain, as well as for chronic fatigue syndrome.

It is a great natural remedy for injuries, infection and various skin conditions. Elderberry has also been proven to boost the immune system and improve health due to its many beneficial components such as bioflavonoids, tannins, amino acids, carotenoids, vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin c. As a result of it’s many health benefits, some people also prepare elder flowers as food or use the flowers for tea and the berries for wine, jelly or jam. Taken internally, elder is said to cleanse the body and strengthen one’s immune system.

Elderberry/elder flower is also a popular ingredient used in personal care products for its natural benefits on skin and hair. Due to its emollient and mild astringent properties, elder is beneficial in calming sunburn, reducing eye puffiness or enlarged pores. It is also a great aftershave tonic for men and can be used as a calming bath herb. For hair, elder provides moisture and nourishment to dry hair and can be found in many shampoos, conditioners or hair rinses.

Elder blossoms are often found as an ingredient in facial steams, cleansers, scrubs, lotions, moisturizers, soaps and toners. Elderflower water, regarded as a natural beauty secret of many women, is traditionally used as a facial toner.

 

Sources: Herb WisdomPangea Organics, University of Maryland Medical Center, Web MD, Wild Edibles, Wikipedia

Images: Mother Earth Living, Carolina Nature, Food and Hearth (Cool elderberry recipes!)

Au Natural Factual: Flaxseed Oil

Flaxseed oil or flax oil is derived from the flax plant (linum usitatissimum), a blue-flowering plant. This oil is also commonly known as linseed oil. The common species of the flax plant, linum usitatissimum is mainly cultivated for its fiber and seed. Other types of flax oils can be used ornamentally or for industrial and pharmaceutical purposes depending on the production method. Industrial uses for flaxseed oil include paint binders, waterproofing agents and glossing.

Flaxseed oil can be found as nutritional supplement and a topical oil. Traditionally, flaxseed oil was used as medicine by many different cultures specifically for skin irritation and other inflammatory ailments. High in anti-inflammatory properties, flaxseed oil is thought to be useful for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory (swelling) diseases.

The oil is produced by processing the seeds from the flax plant and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (about 50-60% Omega-3s) and specifically, alpha linoleic acid (ALA). Due to its high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil works wonders on the skin when applied topically as it norishes and locks in moisture on the skin. Flaxseed oil’s anti-inflammatory properties help minimize redness and skin irritation. The oil can also prevent skin having a dull appearance and smoothes fine lines.

Flaxseed oil can also be ingested as a nutritional supplement and is also said to prevent various diseases such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes allergies and more.

Because flax seed oil is easily oxidized, which diminishes its antioxidant capabilities, make sure to find and maintain flax oil:

  • in a dark container
  • protected from light
  • vacuum sealed when you buy it
  • stored in the refrigerator after opening it

The EWG’s Skin Deep database rates Flaxseed Oil with a score of 0 for overall hazard. 

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Sources and to learn more: Barbara Mendez NutritionEnvironmental Working Group, FrontierNet, The Derm Blog, Wikipedia

Images: Barbara Mendez Nutrition, Dr. Seibel

Au Natural Factual: Honeysuckle Flower Extract

Excuse my delay in posting, I have been feeling under the weather. There’s definitely something going around with all this change in temperature…

When I first started my green beauty journey, I stopped using products containing parabens when I learned how bad they were for my health as well as the culprit for most of my skin irritation. Parabens are a class of chemicals that serve as preservatives allowing for products to have a longer shelf-life and protect against bacteria and contamination. However, parabens can be dangerous in regards to possible toxic reactions with other ingredients and the side effects that are threatening to your health.

While there is still more research to be done regarding the long-term effects of parabens, using products with a limited amount of parabens may still have purpose in regards to anti-bacterial and anti-viral products. I suggest you read more about parabens and make your own decisions on the ingredients in the products you use. I suggest reading more on parabens from books like, No More Dirty Looks  and research around the web.

With our modern lifestyles and growing awareness of bacterial contamination and diseases, preserving the shelf-life and cleanliness of products is important. So how does this work for organic and natural products?

Honeysuckle Flower Extract is an ingredient added to many of these products as an antibacterial and antiviral natural preservative. It is extracted from the flowers of the honeysuckle plant (Lonicera Caprifolium) which are known to be very fragrant and tubular. The fragrant yellow flowers of the honeysuckle plant have been used all over the world for medicinal purposes in teas and in herbal formulas to combat fevers, headaches and sore throat. Honeysuckle flower extract provides many anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits due to its rich quantity of flavonoids and saponins.

Honeysuckle flower extract naturally contains para-hydroxybenzoic acid (also, hydroxybenzoic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid), the substance from which the creation of synthetic parabens were based on. Present in most organisms (plants, animals, insects), in nature, para-hydroxybenzoic acid allows organisms to protect themselves against bacterial and microbial intrusion. This function is perhaps the main reason scientists decided to model the molecular structure and function of synthetic preservatives after that of para-hydroxybenzoic acid. Honeysuckle flower extract must be paired with a co-preservative in order to stably carry out its function.

There is a bit of controversy regarding the use of honeysuckle flower extract with some opponents arguing the main purpose is for companies that are “greenwashing” or masking their use of preservatives in natural products. However, if viewed by the extract’s pure function in natural products, honeysuckle flower extract does not seem to produce many health risks compared to synthetic preservatives. One should carefully research the origins of ingredients and understand the functions within products.

The EWG’s Skin Deep database rates the ingredient, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract with a score of 0 for no known health concerns.

What are your thoughts on the use of Honey Flower Extract as a natural preservative?

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Images from Picture World, AyhhedEtsy.  Sources: Environmental Working Group, Garden of Beauty, Ingredient of the Week, Natural Plant ExtractPaula’s ChoiceRoyal Horticultural Society

You’re Invited: NYC Green Beauty Events

It’s a great time of the year to be a green beauty in NYC! Here are some exciting events in New York City that you won’t want to miss out on this month:

ABC Carpet & Home is hosting a day-long Beauty, Wellness, Wisdom event on Saturday, October 26 from 9:30am- 4pm. Featuring wellness workshops, luxe juice bar treats, mini massage sessions and mingling with like-minded folk and industry leaders, this is one jam-packed Saturday event you won’t want to miss. S.W. Basics founder, Adina Grigore and RMS Beauty founder and renowned green makeup artist, Rose-Marie Swift are among the headliners speaking at the event.Tickets are $75 with a family-style lunch catered by ABC Kitchen & ABC Cocina at an additional cost. Check out the full event lineup and purchase your ticket here.

Is stress or the busyness of life making you feel tired and weak? Learn how to balance and restore your health amidst a busy lifestyle with the Wellness Salon Series hosted by NYC’s top wellness experts, Kristen Arnett the founder of Green Beauty Team, Dr. Anthony Lyon of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center, and Elena Brower of Virayoga. This 3-part series discusses the different ways you can improve your overall health and mindset. Merging medicine, wellness and beauty, the 3 sessions are: Oct 8, 2013- Part I: How to Feel Your Best, Oct. 22- Part II: How to Look Your Best, Nov. 5- Part III: How to Best Sustain Your Health. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.

Join one of my new favorite green beauty brands, W3LL PEOPLE as they host their debut beauty event, Supernatural Sessions at Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue on Thursday, November 7 from 5pm- 8pm. These sessions will bring together natural beauty experts to teach you all about being eco-chic. There will be, makeovers, hair-styling, skin-care treatments, some organic chocolate, bubbly and more! The event features W3LL People creative and color director, Shirley Pinkson, beauty guru and blogger, Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics skin care, hair genius and founder of Yarok Organic Haircare, Mordechai Alvow and Well + Good NYC co-founder and natural beauty expert, Melisse Gelula. Grab some of your friends and buy your tickets now as this special engagement is only limited to 50 guests. Tickets are $25 online and will be applied toward product purchase at the event.

So much to do, so little time! Are you planning on attending any of these events? I know I am!

Images from ABC Carpet & Home, Green Beauty Team and W3LL People.

My VISIA Complexion Analysis

VISIA Complexion Analysis Machine

VISIA Complexion Analysis machine

One main motivation in creating my blog was to educate others about beauty, health and sustainable solutions. Nothing peaks my interest more than learning about new technology and advancements in health and esthetics and sharing what I’ve learned with others. A member of the Juice Beauty team, Annalise told me about the new complexion analysis machines called VISIA machines being set up nationwide at Whole Foods markets and larger beauty stores. I was curious and also a bit scared at the thought of having my face analyzed by a machine but I followed Annalise’s suggestion to go for a free VISIA skin analysis at my local Whole Foods.

Using special imaging technology, the VISIA machine digitally captures 8 different properties of your skin analyzing spots, wrinkles, texture, pores, UV spots, brown spots, red areas and porphyrins (natural oil and bacteria buildup). These categories are further analyzed as percentile scores depicting how the condition of your complexion ranks among other individuals of the same age, gender and skin type. The higher the percentage, the better your skin is within those problem areas.

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An in-house, certified esthetician will then review and discuss the images and the analyzed summary of your skin. They will also recommend a personalized skincare regime to improve your complexion including specific product recommendations. Luckily, you get a printed copy of your visual complexion analysis and the list of recommended skincare products. All your information is stored in the VISIA machine at the analysis location. You can go back for a follow-up consultation after you’ve tried any purchased products to see how you skin measures up after treatment.

At my local Whole Foods, the 2 brands offered for product recommendation are from Juice Beauty and a brand called MyChelle Dermaceuticals. Since I’ve tried a few products from Juice Beauty already, I was interested in trying out and adding the MyChelle products to my skin regime.

How’d my complexion analysis go? Thankfully, it wasn’t as scary as I’d thought! I actually learned more about my skin and what I can do to improve my current skin regime. Overall, I’d recommend everyone to go get a VISIA skin analysis and learn about your skin and how you can improve it! 

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VISIA 5
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Out of the 8 complexion categories, my skin needs the most work on texture and porphyrins. Here is how the VISIA analysis from MyChelle describes the 2 categories I scored lowest on:

Texture measures the skins smoothness by identifying the hills and valleys of the skin. Raised areas are pimples, milia, blackheads, dead skin cells, shown in yellow. Indentions are fine lines, open pores, open hair follicles shown in blue.”

To improve the texture of my skin, it’s recommended to exfoliate more to remove the unwanted dead skin cells and produce smoother skin. Exfoliation will also allow for additional products to more easily absorb and penetrate the skin. I do realize I’ve become lazy in exfoliating my skin and finding the best product for my skin. I’ve been trying various methods to regularly exfoliate in my weekly skin routine. To improve the fine lines within the texture category, use of more anti-aging products should be used to prevent fine lines and future wrinkles.

Porphyrins are natural bacteria and oil. The bacterial excretions can become lodged in pores and lead to acne. This score varies from person to person and it is ok to have a natural level of bacteria.”

To improve the amount of porphyrins, it is recommended to cleanse the face regularly and make sure all items that may come in close contact with your face such as, makeup brushes, cell phones and pillow cases are kept clean after daily use. This is one category in which I have definitely become more aware of my habits and to improve my facial bacteria and oil buildup.

Read about all the VISIA complexion analysis categories and recommended MyChelle products here

I ended up only purchasing one MyChelle product which I thought would add to my current skincare routine, the Clear Skin Serum. This serum was recommended in my facial analysis because it will minimize shine/oil, remove pores and prevent acne. I’ll be reviewing this product in a future post. Overall, I’d recommend everyone to go get a VISIA skin analysis and learn about your skin and how you can improve it!

What are your thoughts on skin analysis? Have you tried the VISIA complexion analysis machine? Let me know!

This post was inspired by my own curiosity about the well-being of my skin and was not sponsored in any way. All opinions are my own. Special thanks to my friend, May who joined me at Whole Foods and snapped some photos of our skin analysis trip!

Au Natural Factual: Lycopene- Veggies, Fruits & Skincare

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Lycopene is a pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their red-orange color. Lycopene is classified as a carotenoid, naturally occurring orange-red to yellow pigment in plants which also assist in the process of photosynthesis. In animals, carotenes are converted to Vitamin A in the liver. Common fruits and vegetables containing lycopene are carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, red cabbage, grapefruit and watermelon.

Source: ea stewart

Recent studies have shown that lycopene is a great source of antioxidants which minimizes damage from free radicals and is believed to reduce risk of illness such as cancer, macular degeneration (loss of vision) and cardiovascular disease. Due to its classification as a phytonutrient, lycopene is also believed to have photo-protective qualities that block UV light.

Due to its antioxidant properties and many health benefits, lycopene is also now a popular skincare ingredient. Lycopene allows for skin growth and repair as it protects from free radicals, anti-aging and UV radiation. It is also believed to improve skin texture.

Some natural and organic products with lycopene as an ingredient:

100% Pure Tomato Lycopene Face Cream, 2 oz, $32.00

Dr. Sponge All Natural & Biodegradable Face & Body Cleansing Sponge, Lycopene, 0.6 oz, $9.99

Yes to Tomatoes Purifying Shower Gel, 16.9 oz, $8.99

100% Pure Carrot Facial Scrub, 4 oz, $18.00

Image from NPR, Sources: The Daily GreenEmpowHER, Life Extension, Mayo ClinicWikipedia

 

Au Natural Factual Friday: Grapeseed Extract

Sorry, lots of time/blog posts to make up for but I have a few exciting things planned that have been keeping me busy! (Blog related too!)

For today’s Au Natural Factual Friday we’ll be looking at Grapeseed Extract.

It’s pretty simple, this is exactly what it sounds like: grapeseed extract is derived from the seeds of grapes (Vitis vinifera) and is produced by pressing the grapes, therefore an abundant byproduct of wine-making. Yum! For thousands of years, grapes have been acclaimed for their nutritional and medicinal value. It’s been documented that the Egyptians snacked on grapes, that the Greeks believed in the healing power of grapes in the form of wine, while Europeans folk healers used grapevine sap as an ointment to treat skin and eye diseases. Ahem, was this a precursor to that grape-lovin’, French craze we now know as Caudalie?

Grapeseed extract is considered to be a powerful, natural antioxidant for the many beneficial compounds it contains such as flavonoids, (specifically, oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes or OPCs), Omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamin E and linoleic acid. Grapeseed extract can be found in a liquid/oil form and also in tablet or capsule form used as dietary supplements. Not to be confused with grapefruit seed oil or other similar sounding ingredients.

Though there is a lack of “high quality” scientific evidence, there are many claims that grapeseed extract can help treat or prevent numerous diseases and ailments such as cancer, heart conditions and aging skin. Grapeseed extract is an excellent moisturizer, can heal skin wounds and reduce swelling. We do know that using grapeseed extract increases the amount of antioxidants in the bloodstream and more antioxidants in our body is always a great thing! Antioxidants protect against and destroy free radicals in the body which may cause cellular and genetic damage. Free radicals are also known to result in not so pretty things like, premature aging, cancer and heart disease.

In addition to being a great source of antioxidants for the skin, grapeseed extract is now commonly used in hair, beauty and skincare products due to it’s moisturizing properties and the soft, non-greasy, satin finish the extract commonly gives off as an oil. As always when using products with certain natural ingredients, do your research on the company, how they process the grapeseed extract and if there are any other additives or chemicals mixed in with the product you are using.

Have you used any products contain grapeseed extract? 

Popular organic or natural products using grapeseed extract:

Yes To Cucumbers Calming Night Cream

“…perfect for those looking for a dermatologist-tested formula to wear overnight that delivers a gentle, hypoallergenic moisture…. Grapeseed Oil is an anti-oxidant rich emollient to help repair and moisturize skin while you sleep. ”

Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner 

“Protect your ends with this nutritious, leave-in conditioner spray, packed with vitamins, minerals and essential oils that nourish hair prior to blow drying or heat styling.”

Heritage Products Grapeseed Oil

“Known as one of nature’s lightest oils, this mild and odorless emollient is perfect for massage. Grapeseed oil is also one of the healthiest ways to help your heart! This mild-tasting, odorless oil is perfect for baking. It’s great for sauteing as it has a high smoke point. Studies show that one ounce of grapeseed oil a day in place of other fats can help lower cholesterol…”

LA Fresh Eco-Beauty Instant Body Soother Wipes

“All-over body wipes that sooth away stress and fatigue….Massage them over stressed-out temples, shoulders, neck and legs for mood-lifting, body-calming goodness, courtesy of a natural blend that also includes olive, jojoba, sesame, grapeseed and vitamin E oil”

 

 

Yarok Feed Your Do Styling Whip

“A sculpting paste that adds texture and shape to any hairstyle…This creamy styling balm is made with pure and organic botanicals that improve the health of your hair: shea butter hydrates, rosemary tones the scalp and Vitamin C-packed bilberry wards off sun damage.  The vegan formula employs plant-sourced emulsifying wax and organic rice syrup to sculpt and smooth”

Sources: 

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/grape-seed

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-472-Grape%20Seed%20Extract%20(GRAPE).aspx?activeIngredientId=472&activeIngredientName=Grape%20Seed%20Extract%20(GRAPE)

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/263332.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grape_seed_oil

Au Natural Factual Friday: Chia Seeds

Cha-cha-cha-Chia! I’m not going to be talking about those cute plant creatures that grow in a tabletop pot, but Chia seeds, the seeds from those plants.

Chia seeds have been all the health-food rage since it’s 2012 induction, dubbed as a super-foods supplement, chia seeds are super-nutrients that helps control hunger and enhance one’s diet. Chia seeds are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and are also considered a concentrated food as the seeds are loaded with antioxidants, carbohydrates, fiber, calcium and protein.

It’s no wonder why I couldn’t turn a corner at work without seeing ladies spilling this into their yogurts, mixing it into their drinks, or just plain munching on some seeds. And it seemed my own encounter with chia seeds was inevitable as I walked to work and health-food promoters practically threw packets of free chia seeds to me on the street. (Seriously.) 

A couple of these Chia Shots were thrown to me while walking to work…

Chia seeds are derived from a flowering plant known simply as the Chia plant (salvia hispanica) which are native to many areas in central/southern Mexico. The use of chia seeds date back to the times of the Mayans and Aztecs when chia seeds were also eaten as a staple food and believed to be an energy booster. It’s still used in Mexico today as a nutritious food source, ground or sprinkled into drinks or on food.

Not only are these super-nutritious seeds good to eat, they’re also a beneficial natural beauty ingredient. When chia seeds are cold pressed into an oil they have proven to do wonders for skin. Chia seed oil is very moisturizing and hydrating to the skin and can also calm redness due to a high level of vitamin B3, a natural anti-inflammatory. The antioxidants in the oil also help protect skin from free radical damage such as aging and UV rays. Since Chia seeds are rich in omega 3-fatty acids, as an oil, the acids aid in encouraging collagen and elastin formation, allowing skin to stay firm and supple.

Although I’m not hooked on Chia seeds in my daily diet, I think they are a beneficial health supplement. I’ve seen so many more natural/organic beauty products using Chia seeds or oil as an ingredient and I’d love to try some out in my skincare routine! Would you add chia seeds or chia oil to your beauty and health routine?

Products with Chin seed/Chia oil ingredients:

One Love Organics Skin Savior Waterless Beauty Balm

I received a sample of this balm with a recent order from BeautySage and I love it! It’s great to moisture the skin, remove makeup and a favorite use of mine: tame flyaway hairs! I think I’ll purchasing a full-size in the future. The One Love Organics skincare line mostly features Chia seed oil.

Annmarie Gianni Anti-Aging Facial Oil

The chia oil in this product is said to provide an ulta-glowing face and lots of hydration.

 

 

 

 

 

Foods Alive Organic Chia Seed Oil

Last but not least, pure cold-pressed Chia seed oil from Foods Alive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources (click for links): Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics The New York Times Well + Good NYC Prevention.com Organic Authority