Category Archives: Masks

Quick Fixes and Multi-Taskers: Essentials for a New Mom

Posted by:  Jordan

Apologies for the lack of posts…the end of 2011 has been hectic with a new baby, so not only have I had less time to blog, but I’ve also unfortunately had less time to test out new beauty products.  My daughter is currently napping on my husband’s chest, so I’m taking the gift of a few quiet minutes to updates you guys on a few of my favorite products that I haven’t yet had a chance to report on.

As a new mom, spare time for myself is a luxury.  So any product that is a multi-tasker is a huge plus.  Multi-tasking is what Skin and Bones excels at.  Skin and Bones is a company that sells only two products–a cleanser and a moisturizer–and handy products they are.  The 100% natural and vegan cleanser is a face and body cleanser with just a touch of exfoliating black jojoba beads, so this one product can replace your face cleanser, body cleanser, and exfoliator.  Think of this cleanser as a really glamorous alternative to Dr. Bronner’s.  Note:  Like Dr. Bronner’s, I don’t recommend this product as a shampoo replacement (even though Skin & Bones doesn’t advertise it as a shampoo on their website, I wanted to give it a try for test purposes).  It’s not terrible, and it would do in a pinch, but it left my fine hair too heavy and greasy looking.  However, on the night I tested this cleanser as a shampoo, my husband commented–out of the blue, not knowing I had tested out a new “shampoo”– that my hair looked nice and had a lot of body (I didn’t even know he knew that hair could have “body”).  He doesn’t normally seem to notice things like when I haven’t washed my hair in 3 days, so to have him comment on it said something.  So there you go!  To each his own.

The other Skin and Bones product is their 100% organic all-purpose moisturizing oil.  This oil can be used as a body/face/cuticle/hair moisturizer, a massage oil, an invigorating scalp oil, stretch mark preventer…the list goes on and on.  Really, you can use it on anything that ails you!  The scent of both products is pleasingly unisex and woodsy, so they’re great for the whole family (as long as you’re not against woodsy, spicy scents).  Both of these items are perfect for travel since they replace so many products.  They even sell a TSA-approved travel size of the moisturizer on their website.  For an extra skin-exfoliating boost, just grab a sugar packet from the hotel coffee nook and add it to a handful of the oil to create a perfect travel-friendly exfoliator.

Another product that I’m enjoying in my new-mom beauty routine is a quick 5 minute exfoliating facial mask from Naturopathica.  The Sweet Cherry Brightening Enzyme Peel is a speedy way to brighten and smooth my sleep-deprived skin.  The cherry scent is just like fresh squeezed cherry juice, and nothing like the artificial cherry scent you know from your childhood “red flavored” popsicles.  Thanks to the lactic acid, wine extract, and salicylic acid, after just 5 minutes of having this mask on my skin (something even I can find time to do a couple of times  a week–I like to put it on in the evening while brushing my teeth), my face more resembles my baby’s super-soft skin, and less like my calloused heels.  Though it’s quick-working, it’s super gentle and doesn’t make my sensitive skin red at all.

Hope everyone has a happy new year.  Here’s to a naturally beautiful 2012!

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Filed under Cleansers, Exfoliators, Masks, Moisturizers, Travel

An Introduction to Eminence Organics

Posted by:  Jordan

I’ve titled this post as an introduction to Eminence Organics because I have a hunch that this is going to be an ongoing love affair.  Plus, this all-natural Hungarian company has about a million products to explore and undoubtedly fall in love with…so I know this isn’t just a fling!

I first found out about Eminence from my friend, Mary Ann, who had fallen in love with the facials at the beautiful Ballantyne Spa in Charlotte, NC.  I remember her emailing me about the Blueberry Soy Repair Masque several months ago, which I’ve yet to try, but I did smell it in the tester jar and was blown away–it actually looks and smells like real blueberries!  I wanted to spread it on an english muffin.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised by that, considering all Eminence products are made with organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but it still shocks me to see something that looks and smells so deliciously edible as a face mask.

My second experience with Eminence was in January of this year when I went to the Go Green Organic Spa near Soho in Manhattan, where they use exclusively Eminence’s organic, high-quality products.  This facial was hands-down the best I’ve ever had.  It wasn’t particularly glamorous or spa-like with all the fluff and extras of a day spa, but what they make up for with the outcome of their facials, as well as the affordable prices (if you book through Lifebooker you can normally get the 75 minute $170 facial for only $85!) is jaw dropping.  After all the poking and prodding that the expert esthetician did on my face, I was fearful to look in the mirror.  But, 2 hours later (she spent an EXTRA 45 minutes on me because she had some time before her next client!) when I was handed the mirror, my face was clear and not a trace of redness to be found!  I was absolutely dumbstruck at the amazing outcome of this facial.  So, I’ve been anxious to return to Go Green ever since then (my next appointment is in a month–whee!).

While at Go Green I decided to buy the Clear Skin Priobiotic Masque, which is incredible.  I’m not going to lie, Eminence products are luxury items…this  mask was $54!  But it truly does last a super long time (I’ve been using this mask 2-3 times a week for over 3 months now and I’ve barely used 1/4 of the jar because, as with all Eminence products, you only have to use a very small amount).  This mask is such a treat to use–from the fresh cucumber smell to the cooling sensation from the yogurt, to the resulting smoother, clearer skin, it’s absolutely worth it’s price.

Just last weekend I was in Charlotte visiting Mary Ann and we made a pilgrimage to the Ballantyne Spa for facials.  Of course, I couldn’t leave without buying myself a new Eminence treat–but what to choose from all the amazing products that were used during my facial?!  I finally decided upon the tinted Sun Defense SPF 30 Mineral Powder in Peaches & Cream, which protected my skin from the sunny Spring day while also camouflaging any lingering redness.  I’ve been loving using this product (an update to my Bare Minerals mineral foundation) as either a thin veil of protective powder over my 100% Pure Tinted Moisturizer, or on its own as a powder foundation.  My only small complaint is that the application brush can leave little bristles on your face (this happens with my Bare Minerals brush as well).  So I think you’d have to have a mirror handy, just for this reason, otherwise you could apply this foundation blindly and it would be fine because it blends so well.

I’ve also tried a few samples of other Eminence products and each one is equally incredible–my favorites being the Bearberry Eye Cream (which moisturizes like a dream, but soaks in immediately, thereby making makeup application even quicker) and the creamy Coconut Milk Cleanser (which removes makeup easily and smells like a day at the beach, except leaving your skin soft and hydrated, rather than sunburnt and itchy!  The perfect cleanser for easily irritated skin.)

You can buy Eminence Organics products from natural spas in your area or online at several places, including Amazon. If you’d like to experience the perfection that is Eminence Organics, leave a comment below–I have 2 sample-sized containers of the Bearberry Eye Cream to give away to PJR  readers.  My sample jar has lasted me for about 2 months of twice-daily use!  I’ll choose 2 names at random, so enter by Sunday, 4/10/11 at midnight EST!

*Update, 5/2/11: I went back to Go Green Organic Spa for my second facial this past weekend and I was sadly disappointed.  I had a different facialist this time and she was nowhere close in skill to the woman I had the first time.  The facial was fine, but not nearly the “wow factor” that I got the first time around.  Moral of the story: if you get a great facial, get the name of the person you had…this was my mistake and I fear I’ll never find her again!


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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

Juice Beauty: Organics to Clear Skin Kit

Posted by: Jordan

At first I was afraid,
I was petrified,
Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side,
But then I spent so many nights just thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew stong
And I learned how to get along

 
I’m fairly certain that Ms. Gaynor was referring to a lost love, but in recent weeks this song has got me thinking about my own lost love: Proactiv.  I was lucky enough to be mostly clear-skinned all through my otherwise ugly duckling teen years, but when I hit 25 my hormones decided that occasionally they’d like to make up for some lost time.  My friend Lora discovered Proactiv, and when I went to her with my skin woes, she shared her secret with me.  Bonding over our mutual drug of choice, we became fiends together.  When she decided to go natural with her beauty routine during pregnancy, and thus gave up our beloved Proactiv for nearly a year, I emailed my condolences, but was thinking to myself “another reason to put off that whole baby thing for a while longer”, and offered to take her Proactiv off her hands for her so that the precious creams wouldn’t go to waste.  When she was able to return to her old blemish-zapping routine, we rejoiced together. 

But now that I’ve decided to go natural with my beauty routine, the Proactiv had to go.  For good.  I hadn’t used it every day for years, but I’d keep it around for emergencies.  Lora, good friend that she is, took her first step along with me by permanently throwing out her chemical-heavy Proactiv.  For the first month of my completely natural skincare regimen, my face glowed and I thought to myself, “why did I rely on that junk as such a crutch??”  And then came the revolt.  Forehead and chin sprouts abound!  I kept waiting for the glow to come back, but all that came back were more red bumps.  Over a glass of wine at an organic restaurant on the Upper West side, I complained to Emily about what was going on with my face.  She suggested I try Juice Beauty’s Organics to Clear Skin Kit.  She said it was a great way to sample several of the products in their line, and she’d had great results with the blemish clearing serum.  The next day, I marched straight over to the Union Square Sephora during lunch time and couldn’t wait to try out the entire set!

 

 

Three weeks later, I’m a huge fan!  My face is nearly completely free of both blemishes and the drying that usually accompanies zit-zapping products.  I love everything in this set, including the bonus soft bamboo headband.  But I have to say, my most favorite product in this trial/travel sized kit is the Green Apple Peel mask.  You use it once a week, and I’ve found myself anxiously waiting for Thursday evening to arrive so I can use the mask again!  I read a few reviews on Sephora’s website that a few people were confused by the terminology, so let me clear that up for our readers.  Don’t think of this mask as one of those old-school masks that you literally peel off your face (anything that painful is obviously going to cause some irritation.)  You rinse this mask off.  The word peel is used in the sense of a chemical peel.  The fruit acids literally eat away at the dead skin, thereby exfoliating your face…you yourself do not peel the mask off.  The first time I used this mask, I put it on way too thick and my face turned bright red within minutes.  It went away after about 20 minutes, but it was a scary moment for a while there.  Coincidentally, when I was at Whole Foods during lunch a couple weeks ago with my friend Jamie, I was telling her about my one-week results so far with these great products and how much I especially loved the mask.  Like a guardian angel, a bubbly, glowing-skinned girl strolled up to us and asked if we needed help with any Juice Beauty products–she was the rep!!!  So I told her how much I was loving the results of the Green Apple Peel mask, and asked if she had any samples for Jamie to try out.  Precious-gift-from-above that she was, she opened a new container and scooped a few spoonfuls into a jar for Jamie to try.  And now Jamie is addicted too, and we both find ourselves getting ridiculously excited to our weekly peel!  But one tip to remember when using this mask, as stressed by the baby-faced Juice Beauty rep: do NOT put the mask on very thick.  Just a thin layer will do the trick.  In fact, the thicker you put it on, the more red and tingly your skin might temporarily get.  But the results will not be any better by piling it on. 

Yesterday I received this email from Lora:

it’s a [darn] good thing I threw out my proactiv because sistah.. I’m tellin ya.. I would have slathered that sh*t up on my zit full face like it was the day after lint and I had given up chocolate.

See, I told you we get a bit worked up about our breakouts.  In repayment to her blemish-fighting wisdom from our not-so-natural days, I told her to go try out this natural blemish-fighting kit and see if she likes it as much as I do.  It’s not an instant miracle like Proactiv was, but it also doesn’t contain carcinogens.  I think it’s a good trade-off, myself.

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Pangea Organics Face Mask

Posted by: Jordan
I’ve been putting off writing this review of Pangea Organics Japanese Matcha Tea with Acai & Goji Berry mask for weeks now, because I so badly wanted to fall in love with it.  I wanted it to be “The One.”  But in the end my feelings are just lukewarm on the actual results of this product.
 
 
I’m already head over heels for this Boulder, CO based eco-company, and their pretty packaging design makes me swoon.  I’ve really enjoyed the two other products I’ve used from them: the Egyptian Basil & Mint body wash, and the Canadian Pine with White Sage hand wash.  So I was expecting this costly $40 face mask–full of antioxidant-rich ingredients–to sweep me off my feet. 
 
It didn’t.
 
It’s not terrible, but it’s not “The One”, either.  It’s like when you finally land a date with that guy you crushed on all semester, and when you actually go on the date it’s just bland and boring.  It wasn’t the worst date of your life by any means, but it wasn’t exactly memorable either.  But the date has been made all the worse because you were expecting to have such amazing chemistry, and when it wasn’t there, it was hard to comprehend why.  That’s how I feel about this face mask.
 
Let’s start at the beginning, the first impressions upon using the product.  I’m not going to glamorize it, you will look like you smeared a bowl of pesto on your face.  Next, there’s the smell…it’s VERY heavy on the matcha tea odor.  If you’ve never had matcha tea, let me tell you, it ain’t your grandma’s Lady Gray blend.  No, this stuff has a unique odor.  Not bad, but definitely unique.  So straight off my pheromones and “his” weren’t exactly jiving.  Excited, you let the mask sit for about 15 minutes, meanwhile thinking “oh boy, when we finally kiss (aka, rinse off the mask), that’s when the sparks are really going to start flying!!”  But no.  I will grant the mask this–my face is noticeably softer and smoother right after rinsing off the mask.  But after that, there’s no “za za zoom.”  No noticeable change in my complexion.
 
While I hate to diss anything from this otherwise admirable company, I just have to admit it to myself: it’s not “The One” for me.  I love everything about it on paper, but in real life, it’s just not cutting it.  I think my homemade honey-spice mask works better for me, and it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.  However, I’d like to hope that maybe my thrown-back fish is the future love of your life.  If so, please let me know–I love playing matchmaker! 

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If your new year’s resolution was to cut back on chocolate, simply rub it on your face!

Posted by: Jordan

It’s almost February (thank goodness Spring is on it’s way, the weather has been brutally cold in NY this weekend), which means that Valentine’s Day is near.  Now, while we here at PJR don’t necessarily think this day is one worth much excitement, any day where presents might occur is just fine by us!  Want a sweet gift idea for your mom or best friend?  Try the Chocolate Spa collection from the naturally wonderful company, Bella Lucce.  My mom got me a few products from them for my birthday and they’re so indulgent!  My husband tells me that I smell like hot chocolate when I use them.  My favorite is the 100% natural Peruvian Chocolate Renewing Mask, which you mix with milk and apply with a cool spa paintbrush.  And just read the list of ingredients in the mask–so simple and natural: coconut juice powder, organic cocoa powder, kaolin clay, bentonite Clay, and honey powder.  Pretty awesome, right?

And what a truly rockin’ PJR-approved company!  Read how they got started and get inspired:

“Founded in late 2003, Bella Lucce was born from its creator’s desire for a more natural approach to beauty.  Lela Barker’s older sister, Mimi, had discovered tumors in her breast tissue in the year 2000.  Stunned by the discovery, Lela began a mission to unearth why an otherwise healthy woman in her 20’s had developed such maladies.  During her research, she stumbled upon a recently released British study which indicated that a common family of cosmetic preservative was mimicking estrogen in women’s bodies, leading to the development of breast tumors. After scouring her bathroom for products containing the ingredient, she was horrified to learn that the dreaded “parabens” were in everything from her shampoo to her body lotion.

After emptying her cabinets (and advising Mimi to do the same), Lela made a trek to the local health food store to find more suitable alternatives to the personal care products her family had been using.  What she found was a selection of products which, while certainly healthy, were most uninspired.  Lela wanted to have her cake and eat it, too…she envisioned healthy products like those found in her local organic market fused with the alluring aromas, decadent textures and beautiful packaging of department store brands.  After a period of extensive research, she began mixing up batches of fresh skin care goodies in her tiny kitchen, giving them to her sister to use after surgery and sharing them with family and friends. They clamored for more and Lela developed a simple collection of soaps, bath salts and lotions that blossomed into a wonderfully creative outlet she truly enjoyed.

A few years later, Lela turned that hobby into a full-fledged business after finding herself in the midst of a divorce. Bella Luccè was a welcome opportunity, affording Lela the ability to be home with her two young children at a critical point in their development. With Chloe and Celie helping to screw on jar lids and wash dishes after each batch, the company quickly outgrew its beginnings. Today, Bella Luccè’s extensive collection of exotic bath and body luxuries is featured in luxe spas, salons and natural wellness centers in 49 states and more than a three dozen countries…from Los Angeles all the way to Dubai.  True to her vision, Lela’s products bridge the gap between the uninspired natural market and the opulent, but synthetic-filled products brimming from department stores.  The Bella Luccè collection is at once both refreshingly natural and utterly luscious.”

Is this like the ultimate Product Junkies company, or what?  Natural AND luxurious??  Plus owned by a single mom who managed to create something wonderful out of tragedies in her life.  We approve, Bella Lucce!  There are several more collections in their product line, which I’m ridiculously anxious to try out.  Let us know if you’ve tried any of their other products and love them as much as I love the Chocolate Spa collection.

And one more little bonus, if you sign up for their monthly newsletter you get entered into a monthly drawing for $50 worth of products.  You know this contest-obsessed beauty junky is already signed up!

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