Category Archives: Hair Care

Cheap Green Find: Desert Essence Shampoo

Posted by:  Jordan

A few weeks ago I was in need of a new shampoo, which is rare because I bought my last bottle of shampoo in 2010 when I was in London and discovered that they have a whole line of Weleda hair care products there, lucky Brits.  This is not a joke–one shampoo bottle lasts me that long, and that’s with my husband sharing the bottle!  I have very fine hair and the little hair he has is quickly dwindling, so we don’t go through much of it, especially since we don’t wash our hair every day.

As if Emily read my mind that it was time for me to make the big decision of what our new bottle of shampoo was going to be, she sent me this great article from Ecosalon with the best green shampoos.  What great timing!

I’m not opposed to spending some money on my shampoo since it will last me so long, but of course I ended up choosing the cheapest shampoo on the list!  I was at my local natural foods store and saw Desert Essence’s whole line of shampoos and conditioners, and I remembered that Desert Essence shampoo was one of the three shampoos listed in the Best Overall category.  And it was only $6–score!  There are several delicious sounding shampoos such as Coconut, Italian Red Grape, and Red Raspberry–each focusing on a different hair type–but I ended up choosing the volumizing Green Apple and Ginger.

This is a fantastic, all-natural, inexpensive shampoo that I would highly recommend.  Does it make every day an amazing hair day?  Of course not, it’s just a shampoo, not a miracle worker.  But it smells amazing (perfect for Fall), gets my hair clean without stripping it of its natural oils thanks to the sulfate-free formula, and doesn’t leave a nauseating, lingering, artificial smell.  (By the way, is anyone else completely turned off my artificial fragrances after going all-natural with their personal care products?  Ugh, so overpowering!)

Don’t you love when you find a great all-natural product that you can feel good about and simultaneously spend less than you would had you bought your standard chemical-packed drugstore brand?

And what’s better than a Cheap Green Find?  A FREE ONE!!!  Enter to win our current giveaway for Andalou Naturals Lemon Facial Scrub.  Winners announced tomorrow (we extended the contest to allow a few more of you stragglers to enter!). 

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Filed under Hair Care, Product Reviews, Surprisingly Good Cheap Green Find of the Day

Dear John [Masters Organics]

posted by: Emily

This is NOT a traditional “Dear John” letter. I am not breaking up with anyone. In fact, I am starting a new relationship. A new love affair, with John Masters Organics.

I don’t know what took me so long to try John Masters. I’ve had so many failed flings with other hair care—  this one was not natural enough for me, this one was no good for me, and who could forget this incredibly smelly attempt?

Well, this one is just right.

The search is over. I’m with John now.

Last week, I went to the John Masters Organics Flagship store. I was sad at first, because, in addition to being a store, it used to also be a salon where they used only John Masters products, and I was hoping to have my hair done there. But I quickly got over the disappointment. The store is wonderful– light and airy, and full of every product the brand makes. You can smell and test everything to your heart’s content, and the gentleman working at the store was so knowledgeable and helpful, it made up for it no longer being a salon as well. He helped me choose all the right products for my naturally curly hair and answered my copious questions.


I already use JMO’s Sweet Orange and Silk Protein Styling Gel, and the man at the store had a great suggestion to combine equal parts styling gel and one of their detanglers (leave-in conditioners– there are several scents and also unscented– he particularly recommended the Citrus and Neroli). I can’t wait to try it!

Meanwhile, I decided to try the Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair and the Lavender and Avocado Intensive Conditioner.  After several washes and having styled my hair both curly and straight after use, I can say that I love this shampoo and conditioner! They smell great (and not too strong!), feel luxurious, and do their jobs well. The shampoo takes a little effort to lather, but once you get it going, it’s perfect and leaves my hair feeling clean but not *too* squeaky clean, ie it doesn’t strip my hair of all moisture. And the conditioner leaves my hair manageable, moisturized, and easy to comb through, without weighing it down. Basically, they’re perfect products. I am totally in love.

John Masters Organics has won a slew of awards. They offer free shipping on all online orders. There’s a discount for orders over $150. Are you in love yet?

Stay tuned– I plan to continue trying and loving more things from John Masters. They even make skin care! I can’t wait to try it all!

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Shampoo Roundup

Posted by: Emily

Having run out of my Melvita Shampoo and Conditioner, and tired of the weird smells that accompany some Whole Foods 365 Shampoos, I’ve recently been trying out some new Shampoos and Conditioners. Below are 3 I wanted to tell you about!

Bella Lucce African Adventures collection Baobab & Red Tea Naturally Nourishing Shampoo and Mongogo & Shea Nutritive Hair Conditioner

I have, in the past, mentioned how dry my skin is. Well, my hair is a perfect match– I can only wash it 2 or 3 times a week or it gets ever more dry, and when I do, it requires copious amounts of conditioner.

But this shampoo is SO moisturizing that I (and I can’t BELIEVE I’m about to say this) almost don’t need conditioner!! In addition to being moisturizing, it also lathers really well, cleans perfectly, and smells terrific. Great shampoo.

The conditioner is wonderful as well, though on top of the shampoo, it can be (and again, can’t believe I’m saying this) too much even for my super-dry hair. So I have learned, after one greasy-haired, flat, frizzy experience, to use only a tiny amount– probably the normal amount that normal people use on normal hair. And then, it was perfect.

In summary, I think these are great products. However, if you have very thin, oily, or even normal hair, I’d recommend using in moderation, or trying a different, less moisturizing variety of Bella Lucce’s Shampoos and Conditioners– they make several other kinds. This one’s perfect for us girls with very thirsty hair!

Giovanni Cosmetics 50-50 Balanced  Hydrating-Clarifying Shampoo and Hydrating-Calming Conditioner

I don’t quite know what to make of Giovanni’s Shampoo and Conditioner– I mean, I absolutely loved it upon use (see below– I hadn’t checked the ingredients yet), but I am not sure it’s totally natural. On the one hand, these products contain no Sodium Sulfate or Sodium Laureth Sulfates, and no Phthalates. Most Giovanni products, these 2 included, are vegan. They are all made with “Organic Ingredients.” They’re sold at Whole Foods, so I was overjoyed when I was given these as presents recently.

Thus, I was confused when, after using the shampoo and conditioner a few times without ever checking the ingredients, I saw the following questionable ingredients in the list: sodium cocoamphoacetate, lauryl glucoside, sodium lauroyl glutamate, sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate… (I know, I should’ve looked more closely before using, but I was blinded by the “Organic” in the name)… and I could go on– there are a few more questionable ingredients– but here’s what I found out.

Upon investigating, Skin Deep Cosmetics Database says most of these ingredients pose low threats individually, and sodium cocoamphoacetate is actually made from Coconut oil, but I was still sad to see so many unfamiliar, unpronouncable words in the ingredient list. If we should only eat things we would have in our pantries, and things our grandmothers had in theirs, then shouldn’t we want the same of our cosmetic ingredients? I certainly don’t have sodium lauryl glucose carboxylate lying around.

The bottom line is that there are some ingredients in these products I don’t usually see in natural products, and while none of them seem particularly harmful individually, the overall rating of the shampoo on Skin Deep Cosmetic Database is a 3 (moderate hazard), and the conditioner rates a 5 (also moderate). Which isn’t that great for a “natural” product.

I leave it up to each of you, individually, to decide if these are the right products for you. I can tell you that if you decide to give it a go, they work really well! But look at the ingredients and decide how you feel.

100% Pure’s Glossy Locks Honey Coconut Milk Shampoo and Conditioner

Here’s the deal. Unlike the Giovanni products, this is totally pure and natural.

HOWEVER, before I was able to try these, I took them out of the box in which they were mailed, and… THE SMELL SMACKED ME OVER THE HEAD AND I COULDN’T CONCENTRATE ON ANYTHING ELSE. I went to the other side of my (admittedly not huge, but still!) apartment, and I COULD STILL SMELL IT! I don’t know how to describe it– other online reviews (which I should have read before ordering) describe the smell like butterscotch, which I admittedly hate, but still, this is not butterscotch. It’s so strong, it almost doesn’t even matter what it is– I don’t think anyone wants to smell that much. Even if it were a good smell, it’s too much.

So I haven’t used the Honey Coconut milk shampoo and conditioner. I hear they work really well, and I know they’re really pure. But I. Can’t. Stand. The. Smell. Which is really a shame!

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Bella Lucce’s New African Adventures Collection

Posted by:  Jordan

There are some very exciting things happening at the much-loved natural body care company, Bella Lucce!  First of all, they just launched their brand new African Adventures collection, containing 8 wonderful new products.  Secondly, in honor of both their new collection and their 7th birthday, they’re having a different sale each day of the month of September.  Check it out here while there are still a couple of weeks left of the celebration!

A couple of weeks ago Bella Lucce generously hosted a giveaway-a-day for a week on their Facebook page and because I’m like an 80-year-old woman at a Bingo hall when it comes to giveaways, I was all over it.  And I actually ended up winning a set of the entire new collection!  It was definitely the highlight of my week, and the excitement continues as I try each of these wonderfully scented, moisturizing, natural products.  Here are my findings (and favorites) on the new line!

The shampoo and conditioner, Bella Lucce’s first of each I believe, are simple (in a good way!) and effective–moisturizing yet not so much that it weighs my hair down.  Similarly, the Moringa & Shea Cleansing bar is gentle, moisturizing, and so cool to display in your shower with its graphic black and white design!  If you haven’t noticed, moisturizing is a key term in this new line, and the theme continues to the 100% natural lip balm, which tastes amazing–just like a Dreamsicle!  And my husband likes it too because it’s not shiny at all–just a dose of delicious-tasting moisture for dry lips–something even a guy can appreciate.

Speaking of moisture, the two body creams in this line are going to be well-used this winter.  They’re similar in scent (the scents of most of the products in this line are of a unique citrus note, which I adore) and in their moisturizing capabilities.  The main difference I found, other than the active moisturizing ingredients, is the texture.  From my picture below you can see that the Argan & Acacia Rich Body Crème (on the left) is smooth, dense and creamy, while the Tamanu Whipped Shea Butter (on the right) is a more airy and, as the name implies, whipped!  I love both of them, but I think I prefer the whipped texture more–maybe just because it’s fun and unique!

On to the two products fighting with each other for my top spot–I’m just smitten with both of these products so much that I can’t possibly choose which one is my favorite!  The Avocado & Ootanga Body Scrub is insane.  I’ve mentioned before how the Bella Lucce Chianti & Grapeseed scrub is the best I’ve ever tried, and this new scrub is the slightly prettier twin!  I say prettier just because I prefer the scent of this scrub to the Chianti one.  But when I say it’s the twin I mean it’s just as exfoliating and moisturizing as the other I’ve tried.  I was able to skip my lotion application this morning after using this scrub.  Plus, the pink color with the black flecked kiwi seeds are really festive!

Finally, the Watermelon, Baobab & Banana Conditioning Masque is the ultimate face mask.  Like the Chocolate Masque I’ve already praised, this mask is a 100% natural powder which you mix with water or a customizable mixer, as shown below.  I used the yogurt and loved the results of this mask.  My pores looked smaller, my skin more even and smooth.  And when combined with yogurt it smells like a strawberry pop tart!

Skin Type Suggested Mixer
Combination Yogurt
Mature Carrot Juice
Oily Milk
Dry Heavy Cream

If you’re in the market for a birthday/hostess/new mom gift, anything from this new collection would be a great idea.  Or if you’re just needing to pamper yourself I’d suggest taking advantage of the daily sales Bella Lucce is offering for the rest of September!  You can’t go wrong with anything from this company.

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Filed under Cleansers, Cool Companies We Love, Exfoliators, Giveaways/Freebies/Discounts, Hair Care, Lipstick/gloss/balm, Masks, Moisturizers, Product Reviews

Haircare Roundup: Melvita and Kae

Posted by:  Jordan

Emily recently touched on our new love of the French Eco-Cert beauty line that just launched in the US, Melvita.  We both have been testing out several of their products recently and the one I’d like to share with you today is their Frequent Wash Shampoo.  According to several beauty magazines, stunning French beauty, Marion Cotillard, is a huge fan of Melvita products, and honestly if it makes my hair look anything like hers, I’m game to try it!  Combine the fact that it’s 99.42% natural and almost 20% of those natural products from organic farming–pass that bottle of shampoo on over here, please!  This shampoo has a gentle, pleasing citrus scent which comes from lavender flower water and essential oils of  peppermint, lemon myrtle and grapefruit.  Honey and arnica round out the list of effective, natural ingredients.  Now, here’s where you might start to raise your eyebrows in skepticism at my review of this shampoo: I swear it makes my hair dry faster!  I have no idea why, but it really does seem to cut my blow drying time in half!  I even had my friend Lora try it out when she was visiting and she agreed that it did seem to make her thick hair dry faster too!  Whatever it is, even if it’s just my mind playing tricks on me, I’m a fan of this shampoo!  This shampoo retails for about $14, so it’s not a complete splurge but it is more than your chemical soup drugstore brands.

The other shampoo I’d like to discuss is from another French brand, Kaé.  This shampoo boasts the moisturizing wonder-oil, organic Argan oil from Morocco.  While this product is definitely more of a splurge at $38, it’s worth it!  I’m obsessed with how this shampoo makes my hair so shiny and full of volume.  Because of it’s higher price point I try to save it for “good hair day worthy” days.  Similar to Melvita, it’s 98.99% natural and 18.5% organic.  The scent is not typical–it’s a little spicy, with essential oils of rosewood and ylang-ylang.  But it’s not a lingering scent, so if you’re not a fan of it, it’s not something that you’re going to smell throughout the day.  If your hair is lacking a little luster after summer’s harsh sun, pool and beach time, I urge you to give this shampoo a shot.

While we’re on the topic of Kaé’s products which are filled to the brim with beneficial Argan oil, I was also lucky enough to get to try their 100% natural (and 61% organic!) Nutri-Radiance Hair Serum.  This fortifying serum is admittedly costly at $45 for 1 ounce, but I have been using several times a week for about a month, and have barely made a dent in it.  This stuff will last you forever, especially if you’re like me and have fine hair–I can’t use more than 1 drop.  But that 1 drop definitely makes a big difference in the softness and manageability of my fine-hair flyaways.  And since it replaces your conditioner, in the long run it’s probably cheaper because you use much less.  There is a whole list of nurturing oils in this serum: olive oil, sunflower oil, Argan oil, and monoi oil.  Just be sure not to get too excited when applying it: a tiny bit goes a long way and if you overdo it, like I have made the mistake of doing, it’s a greasy bun sort of day.  But what a great deep-conditioning treatment I got on that slicked-back bun day!  Lastly, it may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning: avoid using the serum on your scalp if you’re trying avoid the greased ponytail look.

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Aubrey Organics Natural Missst Herbal Hairspray

Posted by:  Jordan

No, that’s not a trying-to-be-cute typo in the title of this post.  The actual name of this hairspray has 3 S’s in the name.   “Missst”.  Did Voldemort name this hairspray?  Call me a grammatical snob, but really, not a whole lot annoys me more than superfluous s’s, or superfluous letters of any kind, for that matter.  Just spell it normally, I’ll still buy it.  I’ll actually be more inclined to buy it if you don’t add the cutesy spellings.  It’s like when people exchange K’s for C’s thinking it’s catchy, like Kozy Korner.  Ugh, it’s revolting.  So, now that I wasted a good 45 seconds of your time by reading about my improper spelling annoyances, let’s get on with the review of this “missst.”

Unfortunately the review doesn’t get better from here.  The hold of this hairspray is almost non-existent.  Maybe that’s my fault for buying the “regular hold” instead of the “super hold” but that’s all Whole Foods had in stock.  In fact, this is the only hairspray at all that Whole Foods had in stock, and I was desperate.  It was the day before my friend Jamie’s wedding and I was out of hairspray, and there was no way I was wearing my hair down on that 95 degree day!  My fine hair doesn’t last 5 minutes without hairspray when it’s up, so out of necessity I was forced to buy this “missst” even though the name made me physically cringe.

So there I am in the hotel getting ready for Jamie’s beautiful garden wedding and I’m thinking my hair is looking pretty cute–curled in a little over the shoulder ponytail; the hairspray seems like it’s doing its job without the dreaded shellacked look.  But the smell was just awful!!!  It reminds me of an elderly woman’s perfume.  You know the kind–the sweet, musty scent that just refuses to exit your nasal passage.  I thought the scent would subside after a couple of minutes, but I kept being reminded of my “missst” throughout the evening!  I’ve read a lot of reviews about Aubrey Organic’s scent issues–a lot of their products apparently just don’t smell too great.  Sometimes a smell isn’t everything, but I won’t buy this hairspray again mainly because of the nauseating, lingering scent.  And, of course, the poorly chosen name.  Hey Whole Foods–give a girl in immediate need more than one natural hairspray choice, please!

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Have / Love / Want volume 3

Posted by: Emily

Have:

Burt’s Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream

Like everything I feature in the “have” column, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this cleanser. Well, maybe that’s not true– I feel like it leaves a film on my face after I’ve washed it– like it is depositing oils or moisturizers, which may be a positive for some people, but I want to feel all squeaky-clean after washing my face. I think I’m in the minority here, and I’ve even read that it’s not good for your skin to feel all squeaky-clean, but years of harsh cleansers have made me think that’s the correct feeling. The smell isn’t my favorite– there’s something a little chalky about it– but the scent is the very thing my husband loves about this clenaser, so go figure.
You might love it, too. And the price is right; $8.00 is a dollar or two more than what one would pay for any [chemical-laden] drugstore cleanser, and this one is 97% natural with no chemicals.

Love:

Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Gentle Baby Oil

I bought this oil at my favorite local natural foods store, Gary Null’s Uptown Whole Foods, with the intention of mixing it with some sugar to make a scrub. I haven’t done so yet because I am so enjoying using it as a moisturizer! The scent, Baby Blossom, is lovely! I can’t quite place it– I know it reminds me of something, and I think it’s something from my teenage years, but nonetheless I really enjoy it. I do intend to make it into a scrub soon, as well. I think it would make my shower experience divine. My only complaint in using it as a moisturizer is that it’s a little TOO thick and moisturizing, and coming from me, you know that should be impossible. So take that as a compliment, Mrs. Meyers!
*One extra note: Upon falling in love with this scent, I thought “oh, I’ll buy the shampoo and soap and lotion and other things in this line with the same scent” only to find that this is one of the few products in this line that doesn’t have sulfates or PEGs in it. So disappointing, right? Just a reminder to us, that, save a few brands like our darling Weleda, you cannot assume a brand or line is all chemical free! You have to check every product if it’s important to you to be completely chem-free. Maybe someday, this won’t be the case. But for now, my friends, you cannot be too thorough.

Want:

John Masters Organics Sweet Orange & Silk Protein Styling Gel

Summer is coming and I love being able to let my hair air-dry. But I have very frizzy, big hair, so I cannot just wash and go. I need product! This one looks extremely promising. I just ordered it from Amazon.com! Can’t wait to try it out! I’ll let you know…

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Filed under Cleansers, Hair Care, Have/Love/Want, Moisturizers, Product Reviews