Incredibly Chic and Satisfyingly Clean Skincare from Indie Lee

indie-lee-skincare__reviewWith a reputation for luxuriously simplistic skincare and body products, Indie Lee is a name you can trust for high-quality, natural ingredients and efficacy. The brand’s minimalist, conscious approach to skincare, health, and life is refreshing in an all too busy, cluttered world.

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Designed by Science, Made From Nature: Bottega Organica

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Bottega Organica is a natural, organic skincare brand formulated with farm-fresh ingredients and healthy, effective scientific processes. There is so much to say about this high quality, thoughtfully-crafted brand that it requires such care and reflection when writing about them. I find it difficult to describe in words the caliber and luxury of these quality formulas but I’m hoping my in-depth commentary and photographs will suffice…

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Ursa Major: Skincare to Share

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I’d be lying if I said converting my family and friends to organic and natural skincare has been an easy task. Everyone has their misconceptions and protests but in all honesty, it’s always easier for me to convince the ladies in my life of cleaner, greener skincare habits. The men in my life, well let’s just say they’re not really into it. And maybe that’s also due to men not having a very complex skincare routine or rather, no routine at all. My mission was to find unique and clean skincare products catering towards men that my fiance might be willing to try, but it proved harder than I thought. That is, until I was introduced to the ultra-cool, simplistic, natural and organic unisex skincare brand, Ursa Major.

*Plus, a special discount code only for my readers after the jump…

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Peachy Pretty: Lily Lolo Pressed Blush and Lip Gloss

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If you’re a lover of neutral or nude colors, peach-colored makeup is a great way to transition to bright, bolder colors. A variety of peach colors can range from neutral to more pigmented. I also love that in general, peach shades look good on all skintones. Known for their high performance mineral makeup, Lily Lolo has recently released two beautiful peach shades: Life’s a Peach Pressed Blush* and High Flyer Natural Lip Gloss*.

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Naturally Affordable: The All Natural Face

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The All Natural Face makes natural, vegan mineral cosmetics and body products that have become popular among many bloggers and makeup lovers alike. All TANF products are Leaping Bunny and PETA certified, as well as handmade in small batches locally in Massachusetts, and are actually very affordable.

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Seeking Serenity With Soul Sunday

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Until recently I wasn’t really much of a fragrance-obsessed girl and truthfully, I wasn’t all that into aromatherapy either. I’ve always had a sensitive nose with very particular scent preferences and cleaning up my skincare and beauty routine has only heightened my sensitivity to fragrances. But dipping my toes in the eco-luxe fragrance world has really opened the floodgates to my new scent-loving tendencies. And aromatherapy, that’s a whole other beast I’m easing into now too.

Enter Soul Sunday, a handcrafted brand made in the USA which melds the best of two worlds: beautiful, minimalist design and effective, natural essential oil-based formulas. I’ve been obsessing over this small-batch apothecary goods brand and their standout aromatherapy blends are my current addiction.

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Au Natural Factual: Reishi Mushroom

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a love for mushrooms. While many people can’t stand the thought of eating mushrooms–my boyfriend blames the texture, a few of my friends can’t wrap their heads around eating “fungi”, I can’t get enough of these forest fixtures. Their varying textures, shape, smells, and even the way they grow in nature has fascinated me. My tongue begins to water when I think of the delicious traditional Chinese soups featuring savory mushroom bits that my mother and grandmother always made for me.

And what about a mushroom’s health benefits? Oh boy, don’t get me started! Ganederma lucidum, the Reishi mushroom (in Japanese) or “ling zhi” in Chinese, is the specific, iconic “red” mushroom most commonly used and commercially cultivated in East Asia and North America. Reishi mushroom is the most respected medicinal mushroom in Asia.

“Reishi mushroom is a fungus that some people describe as “tough” and “woody” with a bitter taste. The fruiting body (above-ground part) and mycelium (filaments connecting a group of mushrooms) are used as medicine.” (5)

In Ancient China, the reishi mushroom was revered by royalty as it was thought to be the “mushroom of immortality” and also used to help promote tranquility, thoughtfulness, and to improve memory. This type of mushrooms were also considered special for their unique and beautiful appearance; “Deep reddish brown and saucer-shaped, often emerging from a branch-like stem, its smooth upper surface looks lacquered when wet.” (2)

Often grown on old or dead tree trunks, reishi mushrooms were also traditionally ingested to prevent fatigue, asthma, insomnia, and cough. Disregarding its supposed mystical quality, the health-promoting effects of the reishi mushroom still plays an central role in the traditional medical systems of China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries. These health benefits have made using reishi mushroom popular within many Western medical and health communities.

“The active constituents are thought to include both beta-glucan polysaccharides and triterpenes.” (4)
“Reishi mushroom contains chemicals that seem to have a variety of potentially beneficial effects, including activity against tumors (cancer) and beneficial effects on the immune system.” (5)

Known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, reishi mushrooms help boost the immune system and is commonly used for reducing stress and preventing fatigue. It is often used to treat viral infections like the flu and lung diseases like bronchitis and asthma. There are also many claims that reishi mushrooms can prevent and aid in the abatement of many serious diseases. Many believe that reishi mushrooms can abate the effects of kidney disease, heart disease (including high blood pressure and high cholesterol), liver disease, and cancer. It has also been used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, altitude sickness, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), insomnia, stomach ulcers, poisoning, and herpes pain.

These health benefits also contribute to positive aspects when used in skincare products. The ganodermic acid and ling zhi-8 protein within Reishi mushrooms are said to contribute in aiding and maintaining the skin’s health, vitality, and youthful appearance. Reishi mushroom in skincare products is also beneficial in reducing inflammation, prevent skin damage from free radicals, and promote skin cell regeneration.

Today, reishi mushroom can be most commonly found as an extract, supplement or as an added ingredient. It was traditionally ingested in teas or infusions but can now be found added in everything from chocolate bars, candy, energy drinks, or skincare products.

“Some experts believe that Ganoderma lucidum promotes longevity and maintains vitality of the human body. Reishi’s major benefit appears to be its immunomodulating action, improvement of liver function, and improvement and restoration of the normal functions of the respiratory system. Antioxidant effects, which contribute to the overall well-being of patients, have been proposed.” (1)

If this specific fungi can improve one’s health in so many ways, perhaps the ancient Chinese were onto something with their claims that this fungi provides the key to immortality.

Have you ever tried any products containing reishi mushroom in them? What are your thoughts on this ingredient?

Some natural and organic beauty products containing reishi mushroom that have caught my eye:

*Foraged Fields- Face Cream, $15
*LuLu & Max- Face Lift Cream, $28
*Tela Beauty Organics- Balance Shampoo, $36

 

Images: Conscious Lifestyle Magazine, Healthy Home Gardening, Recapo

Shampoo Savior: Acure Organics Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo Review

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Ladies (and the imaginary gents who read this blog), today I want to introduce you to the shampoo that restored my faith in natural/organic haircare: it’s the Acure Organics Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Clarifying Keratin Boosting Shampoo ($9.99 for 8oz).

It has been a rough journey on the way to cleaning up my hair washing habits. My hair is stick straight and very fine so I don’t really do much in the ways of styling it, I’ve always been content with just leaving it alone. It has always been oily-prone and grows pretty fast. In the summer, I started trying out a couple green hair products I’d found at Whole Foods. In addition to switching products, I also knew changing my washing routine from shampooing every night to only 2-3 times a week would account to healthier, greener locks.

At the time, my hair was freaking out from the initial products I tried and I was too. My hair was not adjusting well to my new green, clean routine nor to the transition of products. After going through bottles of clean shampoos that made my hair feel gummy and grease-central for days on end, I’d nearly thrown in the towel on finding affordable, accessible and clean shampoo. However, I gave it one more try and picked up the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo since I’d heard great things about Acure Organics.

Instantly, after the first wash, my hair felt rejuvenated and silky smooth. The shampoo lathers slightly but not as much as in shampoos that have Sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) in them. When running my fingers through my hair or blow drying, I didn’t experience strands of tacky or oily locks and felt that my hair was back to its normal self. This shampoo leaves my hair feeling nourished and clean without causing it to feel dry or limp and gives me good volume too.

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Acure Organics Shampoo putting my toxic, value-sized hair products to shame in the shower.

The refreshing, aromatic minty-lemongrass scent is enough to make you meditate in the shower and you can truly feel the gentle, clarifying formula at work. I like that Acure Organics describes this as an everyday shampoo that’s also safe for color treated hair like mine. Even though I’ve transitioned into not washing my hair everyday, it’s nice to know that when I do creep back to my old habits, this shampoo doesn’t further freak my hair out but instead, treats and maintains it. Here’s how Acure Organics describes this shampoo:

This clarifying shampoo is gentle enough for everyday use for all hair types. Promotes shiny, healthy, clean hair. Organic Argan Oil, Argan Stem Cells + CoQ10 help support hair keratin and strengthen the follicle connection. Organic Avocado Oil provides vitamin B12 and moisture while lemongrass cleanses and clarifies. Safe for color treated hair.

I like that Acure Organics uses simple, effective ingredients and all their formulas are fair trade, natural and organic. See more about their product ingredients here. The brand has become a favorite of mine for their accessible (available at Whole Foods markets), affordable and beneficial products. Not to mention, Acure Organic’s awesome ethical, transparent and environmentally-friendly commitments. The brand’s motto is: “For Your Skin, For The Planet”.

I also like the soft, 8oz squeezable packaging as opposed to a hard, shampoo bottle because it takes up less space in my shower and is lightweight and easy to travel with. Acure Organics also offers larger sizes (24oz) of their shampoos if you really love the results and want to save money. (Unfortunately, I don’t think they sell a larger size of the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo.)

I’d recommend the Lemongrass + Argan Stem Cell Shampoo to anyone who might be starting the transition to green haircare as it’s a simple, effective product that makes switching over a little bit easier without compromising quality or price.

There are always good promotions for Acure Organics products at Whole Foods markets (I was able to buy this shampoo at a small discount from my Whole Foods) or you can find the products online at many retailers. Spirit Beauty Lounge also sells a duo of this shampoo with the accompanying conditioner for $19.99 online.

I’m eager to try the other Acure Organics shampoos such as the Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell Volumizing Shampoo or the Argan Stem Cell + CoQ10 Dry Shampoo. For me, this shampoo is a total keeper!

Have you tried any hair products from Acure Organics? What are your favorite natural or organic hair products? While we’re at it, have you read my latest Au Natural Factual about lemongrass here?

Ingredients: euterpe oleracea (acai) berry*, rubus fruticosus (blackberry)*, rosa canina (rosehips)*, punica granatum (pomegranate)*, fair trade certified™ rooibos*, aloe barbadensis vera leaf juice*, sodium lauroyl methyl isethionate (from coconut), 100% naturally-derived betaine (from sugar beets), vegetable glycerin, sodium methyl cocoyl taurate (from coconut + amino acids), sodium cocoyl glutamate (from coconut + amino acids), cocoglucosides hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (sugar conditioner), sodium levulinate (from corn), guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (guar gum conditioner), potassium sorbate (food grade preservative), argania spinosa (argan) oil*, fair-trade certified™ olea europea (olive) oil*, d-alpha tocopherol acetate (vitamin e), ubiquinone (coq10), argania spinosa (argan) stem cells, persea americana (avocado) oil*, cymbopogon schoenanthus (lemongrass), lavendula dentata (french lavender), evernia prunastri (oakmoss), rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) essential oils. *Certified Organic   This product is gluten-free and vegan.

*This post contains some affiliate links that do not cost anything to click or purchase through but purchasing through these links does help support this site.

Discovering Gressa Skin Products

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I’m having a big obsession with skincare right now and there are so many amazing natural and organic brands out there to discover!

I was sent some products from Svetlana, the founder of Gressa Skin, a small skincare brand based in Portland, Oregon that offers handmade products made with only natural ingredients.The products I received were the Balancing Cleanser, Purifying Oil and Renewing Polish.

“We choose Organic, Wild Crafted and Sustainable ingredients only. Never fillers, never GMOs, never preservatives, parabens or any other synthetics.”

As soon as I opened the lovely packaging I knew my skin was in for a treat. I think the black packaging and simple labels are very chic as well.

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Balancing Cleanser ($23.99/2oz) This is another oil-based facial product that is really making me a believer in facial oils. I’d never tried a oil cleanser before and I love using this to remove my makeup or just to cleanse my face. A little goes a long way, I only need 1 to 2 pumps to remove all my makeup and cleanse my face. The oil feels light, smells of botanical goodness and is refreshing to my skin. The Balancing Cleanser renews and soothes my skin after use. This does not leave my face greasy yet is very moisturizing for my dry skin.
Ingredients: Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis) Oil*, Extra Virgin Olive (Olea europaea) Oil*, Pumpkin (Cucurbita peo L.) Seed Oil*, Camelina (Camelina sativa) Oil, Rosehip (Rosa rubiginosa) Oil*, Castor (Ricinus communis) Oil*, Polysorbate-20, Lavender Esstenial OIl*, Geranum (Pelargonium graveolens) Essential Oil*, Roman Chamomile (anthemis nobilis) Flower*  *Certified Organic. 100% of Ingredients Are of Natural Origin

Purifying Oil ($37.99/0.5oz) This oil is perfect for using right after the Purifying Cleanser or any other cleansing product. It is a very light facial oil that leaves my skin moisturized while not heavily greasy. It is faintly yellow in color but rubs clear on the skin. I have not broken out from this product and have noticed it improves minor skin discoloration and keeps my skin feeling soft. I use this oil when my skin is acting up and find that it soothes and nourishes my face. I really like the scent, it’s subtle but you can definitely detect the floral and chamomile notes in the ingredients which I find very calming.
Ingredients: Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Oil*, Rosehip Seed (Rosa rubiginosa) Oil*, Macadamia (Macadamia integrifolia) Nut Oil*, Grapeseed (Vitis vinifera) Oil, Raw Sesame (Sesamum indicum) Oil*, Therapeuutic oil blends of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Flower*, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) Flower*, Calendula (Calendula officinali) Flower*, Helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum) Flower*  *Certified Organic. 100% of Ingredients Are of Natural Origin

Renewing Polish ($22.99/2oz) I enjoyed using this scrub which includes honey as a natural moisturizer. It’s a bit oily and liquidy due to the honey, oils and mix of exfoliants, but the ingredients cohere nicely so it’s not as messy as other facial scrubs I’ve tried. After using this product, I immediately noticed my blackheads were scrubbed away and all other dirt and grime seemed to be lifted from my face. I really like how this is also oil-based so the exfoliant is gentle, moisturizing and effective in treating and softening the skin. No breakouts or damage to my skin were noted from using this product.
Ingredients: Brown Sugar*, Brown Rice Flower*, Cornmeal*, Raw Oregon Clover Honey, Lemon Juice*, Virgin Olive Oil*, Polysorbate-20 (Coconut Derived), Lavender Essential Oil*, Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) Essential Oil*, Rosewood (Aniba rosaeodora) Essential Oil, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) *Certified Organic. 100% of Ingredients Are of Natural Origin

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Close-up of the Renewing Polish

Overall, this was a lovely skincare line to discover. I love how everything is handmade in small batches, derived from natural botanical ingredients and really moisturize and treat the skin. The product prices are also not too expensive. I enjoy using all 3 of these products but the Balancing Cleanser definitely stands out as a daily favorite.

The next Gressa Skin products I would love to try are the Dirty Pretty Things powder and the Purifying Mist.

You can purchase products from Gressa Skin online (with free shipping!) or locally at select Whole Foods stores in Oregon or Washington.

Have you discovered any great new beauty or skincare brands lately?

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*Products were kindly sent to me for product review, this post is based on my honest opinions and experience.

Green Beauty Characters Tag

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Thanks to Katie from The Green Product Junkie  for tagging me in this beauty tag! I love reading other bloggers’ answers to tags and this one had some fun questions. This tag was originally started by Sonja from Life in Blush.

On my nightstand you’ll find: My alarm clock, my phone, EOS lip balms I’ve been trying to finish for a while now,  L’Ocittane Shea Butter hand cream (looking for something more natural that’s just as creamy/moisturizing),  lavender essential oil and the latest stack of books I’m reading (usually 3 at one time).

The literary character I’m most like is (take this quiz and share your answer!): According to the quiz, I’m most like Juliet from Romeo and Juliet! Perhaps I’ve always been driven by my emotions and a hopeless romantic…

I’m currently obsessed with: Facial oils and facial masks/scrubs. Specifically, I’m loving May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt, S.W. Basics’ Hibiscus Mask, Pai Skincare’s Rosehip Oil and Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin B Cleansing Oil.

My favorite superhero is: Hmm, Spiderman? He was really just a dorky, smart teenage kid who got bit by a radioactive spider and uses his super spidey powers for good. I always liked that he was always just being himself just with added super powers.

Favorite beauty product of 2013: I’ve probably said it too many times but, Pai Skincare Rosehip Oil. I just love it!

If I could have dinner with anyone dead or alive: Probably my grandfather. He died when I was young and I wish I had known him better. There are so many stories I want to hear from his point of view.

Winter is coming, how do you prep your skin for battle? Regular exfoliation with facial masks, cleansing with facial oils and moisturizing to protect from the dry, flakey areas that are always inevitable this time of year. My favorite multi-use product for preventing dry, winter skin is One Love Organics’ Skin Savior.

My perfect date night makeup consists of: A smokey eye, volumizing mascara, defined cheeks and sultry red or berry lips. I’m always employing my Juice Beauty Lash Defining Mascara for flirty lashes, ILIA Beauty’s Illuminator in Sway for contoured cheeks and recently for lips, Kjaer Weis’ lip tint in Goddess.

My go-to-skin-beautifying snack/drink is: I drink a lot of tea daily and I think it definitely relaxes and energizes me. I’ve been trying Kombucha tea which I like and is good for the skin from its probiotic component and its many antioxidant properties. I love a good matcha tea too.

My tv boyfriend is: I’m so behind with t.v. these days but I always liked Chris Messina on The Mindy Project. He’s just so sarcastic, caring, funny and doesn’t know how hot he really is.

If my evening clutch could hold only one beauty item it would be: lipstick. Specifically loving ILIA Beauty’s Arabian Nights, a moisturizing, amazing berry lip tint.

One beauty tip I would pass on to my fictional daughter is: A little something my own mom always said to me: Never leave the house without at least a little lip color or mascara, you never know who you’re going to run into!

The most nostalgic item from my childhood is: A doll my parents gave me when I was born.

My favorite show of the moment is: I don’t watch too much t.v. but I’ve just finished all the seasons of Orange is the New Black on Netflix and I’m obsessed. The storyline and characters are so interesting and it is addicting to watch. Homeland is the most recent show I’ve started watching and I love it. Claire Danes is awesome!

My favorite quote is: “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”- Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

I now tag: Bailey from Bailey Blush, Asti from Skjonnhet, Brenda from The Wanderlusting Beauty, Mary from Pure Makeup and Kim from Kimberly Loc. Rules: Answer these questions, tag other bloggers and link back to my blog and Life in Blush.

Thanks for reading! Want to join in? Let me know your answers too!