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Posted by 04.22.14

Earth Day, created to raise awareness and appreciation for the globe’s natural resources, can teach us a lot about how natural products are good for you. Europe has lead the charge with its ECOCERT labeling for organic products in a clear and rigorous way, but the US has caught up quite a bit over the past few years and now savvy consumers can purchase paraben and phthalate-free products even in drugstore aisles. Now that’s something to rejoice at.

Here are some ways you can celebrate Earth Day with beauty products that work.

Jonathan Product Green Routine Silkening Styling Creme ($24)

Jonathan Product Styling CremePhoto Credit:

This beautiful plant-patterned  styling creme will not only give your hair style, definition, and hold, but will help you appreciate the benefits of natural ingredients. It contains shea butter, aloe vera, black cumin, and clary sage to moisturize and strengthen, and all this amounts to soft, bouncy hair with tons of shine. A special anti-inflammatory ingredient also makes this product ideal for those with itchy and dry scalps.

AHAVA Natural Sea Body Mud Mask ($16)

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The ECOCERT natural mud from the Dead Sea is one of my all-time favorite indulgences, next to a box of dark chocolate. A perfect mid-week pick me up for the face or for an added boost of hydration, this mud has a minimum of 95% natural ingredients, and at least 10% are organic. While mud is typically associated with cleansing, the Dead Sea mud is mineral-rich and helps with hydration and pH balance. This body mask is the ideal thing for a quick pick me up.

Herbal Essences “Naked Volume” Dry Shampoo

Herbal Essences Naked Volume CollectionCredit: Herbal

With “nude” makeup becoming all the rage (again), there’s no surprise that haircare has jumped on that bandwagon too. Herbal Essences, a brand that has always been about natural ingredients, has launched the “Naked” line, featuring a dry shampoo, shampoo/conditioner, souffle, and spritzer that will help your hair shine naturally (without the need for too many extra products). The Naked Volume Dry Shampoo is my particular favorite because it helps you get voluminous hair during the in-between washing days; plus, it doesn’t contain parabens—it’s as close as you can get to nudie hair.

Erno Laszlo Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar ($45)

Erno Laszlo

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This luxury brand, which was Marilyn Monroe’s go to skin care of choice, has a deliciously decadent yet 97% natural bar of soap: Sea Mud Deep Cleansing Bar. It is also infused with minerals from the Dead Sea, and exfoliates and refines skin as naturally as one possibly can.

Alaffia Everyday Coconut Face Lotion ($9.99)

Alaffia Coconut LotionPhoto Credit:

Everything in the Whole Foods beauty aisle is fair game these days. They are imposing strict standards on what they will accept as natural (“We’re working to make organic mean organic in every aisle throughout our stores,” the company says on its web site). One of my favorite everyday finds is this rich coconut lotion that boasts broad spectrum UV protection from zinc oxide, as well as neem and papaya extracts. It’s just one of the reasons to shop there for beauty.



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Photo Credit: MAC


Posted by 04.17.14

In beauty, packaging is every bit as important as the product itself (think: Chantecaille, Givenchy, Chanel to name a few brands who do it so well). The packaging ensures portability, convenience, and, of course, a pleasing look and feel.

MAC is no stranger to creating innovative packaging to house multitasking products, from its iconic Fluidline (it can be used as an eyeliner, but also artfully blended for smokey eye shadow) to its newly-launched Studio Sculpt Shade and Line, which marries two traditional eye shadows and one liner in one compact.

StudioSculptShadeLine-eggplant2Shade and Line in Eggplant. Photo Credit: MAC

The Studio Sculpt Shade & Line formulation is quite special and versatile: the biggest selling point is that three distinct textures —matte, sparkling and metallic—are available in one single case. I’ve seen few beauty brands do this, and quite frankly it’s surprising no one has thought of this before.

The compacts have two varieties of eye shadows, and one strip of eyeliner in the middle that separates the two shadow pans. As one would expect, they come in several beautiful combinations (each is $21):

  • EBONYBLEND: white frost/carbon black/dirty blue-grey (pearl/matte)
  • VIOLETBLEND: light white-pink/deep violet/iridescent cool pink (pearl/matte)
  • EGGPLANTBLEND: soft light pink/deep plum/dirty silver-grey (pearl/matte)
  • ROSÉBLEND: dirty washout pink/dirty blue-plum/metallic bright gold (pearl/matte)
  • APRICOTBLEND: champagne beige/dirty berry brown/warm coral peach (pearl/matte)
  • OLIVEBLEND: rich rose-gold/deep olive green/ dirty olive (pearl/matte)
  • ESPRESSOBLEND: rich penny-copper/charcoal black/warm brown (pearl/matte)
  • INDIGOBLEND: soft, clean sky blue/deep blue-teal/deep plum (pearl/matte)

The Studio Sculpt collection, in general, has a lot of makeup that is worth acquiring, from the concealer, foundation, and now the Shade and Line combos.  These are items I would buy and keep because one is all you need in your pocketbook to create several looks. You’d spend $21 on one eyeshadow alone: three in one doesn’t seem terribly shabby for the price.

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Posted by 04.15.14

Hair coloring has come a long way since the ancient Gauls and Saxons dyed their hair with natural pigments derived from plants and minerals. And appropriate hair color has long been a sign of status—the ancient Greeks and Egyptians used natural hair dyes regularly to show rank and to look younger. Since few resort to crushing plants and roots in their kitchen anymore, unless you’re a true naturalist, at home hair kits are the best options.

Ninety million people in the U.S. color their hair, so it’s no surprise that the “at-home color kit” concept has grown in leaps and bounds. Madison Reed, brainchild of start-up expert Amy Errett, boasts colorist Sally Hershberger as an adviser, and is very much the UBER of hair color kits. Not only does the box you purchase come with salon quality hair color (Hershberger has personally tested the formulas and vouched for their depth, shine, and grade), but it comes with several surprising perks and virtual services too.

One of the hardest challenges of coloring your hair at home is finding the right shade, so the brand actually sends out a colorist to your door (in San Francisco and Manhattan, so far) to help you select the right shade. You can also get assistance from an online color advisor, mobile app, live web chat, digital photo consultation, or a consultation with a real person on the phone. As far as we know, no other at-home hair color kit gives you all these options.

Madison Reed at home hair color

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The kit itself contains items that would even make the cast of Mad Men reject their hair salons: simple, illustrated instructions on the flap jackets of the box; a radiant Cream Color; Conditioning Color Activator with “less-mess” application tip; two pairs of fitted gloves, one for applying color and another to rinse; Barrier Cream to keep skin around your hairline clean; a hair cap to wear while waiting for color to set; a cleaning wipe to remove stray color; and a specially formulated Color Enhancing Shampoo and Conditioner (this is what we couldn’t believe!). All of this for $29.99 (many luxury shampoos alone cost this amount).

The online quiz is visual and fun: choose from a variety of hair types and length and they’ll figure out what works for you.

While we’re not turning our noses up on the other hair color kits on the market, this is definitely one that raises the bar in more than one way. Once you go Madison Reed, you’re pretty much hooked–just like Uber.

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