Au Naturel Essence

All natural treats for body and soul


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My bkr

A few weeks ago, I entered a giveaway contest by Eco Diva Beauty.  (If you haven’t heard of them, PLEASE click on the link and check out their site.  They’ve got all kinds of great skin products)

The giveaway was for a 1 Liter size bkr water bottle.

I hadn’t heard of bkr before, but I loved the look of the bottles right away.  More importantly, I loved that it was a glass bottle, free of any unnecessary chemicals that we sometimes find in plastic water bottles.

So, I entered the context and lo and behold, I won!!  Yahoo! THANK YOU Eco Diva Beauty!

My black bkr

My black bkr

I’ve been using this as my main water bottle at work for the past two weeks.  I wasn’t quite sure how I’d feel about carrying a 1L bottle around with me.  To my surprise, it hasn’t even been an issue.  Here’s what I love:

  • The bkr is made of glass.  No need to get a paraben-free one…they are all paraben free!
  • The silicone sleeve is so easy to slip on and off for cleaning.
  • The silicone sleeve dresses up the bottle, makes it easy to grip, and protects it from breaking.
  • The cap/handle — it’s genius!  The cap is a simple screw top that makes a great seal.  The handle is perfect for carrying a full bottle around by a few fingers. I love it.
bkr

My bkr – This is the funky cap/handle that functions perfectly

There’s just one more thing that I love about this water bottle.  It holds a full liter of water and I have found myself drinking way more water than before.  Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is the best thing you can do for your skin!

Here’s one last shot of my beautiful bkr.  (And yes, that’s my son in the background!)

My 1L bkr

My 1L bkr


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Annmarie Gianni Skin Care – A Product Review

During the month of February, I tried out another set of skin care products.

This set was given to me as a gift to enjoy and not necessarily for a review.  Overall, I’ve enjoyed the products, so I thought I’d put together a review for you.

The brand is Annmarie Gianni Skin Care.  Her tag line is organic, natural, and wild-crafted.  Seriously, how could you resist a tag line that has the words “wild-crafted” in it?

I had three products to try out.  The first was the Aloe-herb Facial Cleanser.  The second was a Neroli Toning Mist and third, the Herbal Facial Oil.  I used the cleanser and the oil every morning and every night.  I used the toner less often, probably once every couple of days.

Annmarie Gianni - Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer

Annmarie Gianni – Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer

Scent

Each of these products has a fairly strong scent.  I was not surprised, given the “wild-crafted” theme.  The scents are herbal and last for a few minutes.  However, even with the strong scents, I didn’t notice them for long.  For the record, they aren’t unpleasant.

Aloe-herb Facial Cleanser

This cleanser has the consistency of a thin lotion.  I experimented with different amounts and eventually settled on using two pumps each time I washed my face.  As you can see from the photo, two pumps from the bottle is not too much in my hand.  The cleanser does not foam up at all.  Rather, it coated my skin with a thin film until I washed it off.  I always find non-foaming cleanser and soaps to be a little deceiving.  I was brought up thinking that foam and suds were signs of effectiveness.  The cleanser washes off very easily, leaving skin clean, despite the lack of suds.

Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser

Aloe-Herb Facial Cleanser

Neroli Toning Mist

This toner has a citrus scent, which I love.  I ended using a couple of sprays each time and I found that it was enough to cover my skin well.  It’s light and refreshing.  It also never caused my skin to break out!

Herbal Facial Oil

I’ve used many face oils in the past couple of years.  I went so far as to start making my own, which I have come to love.  This oil worked fairly well for me.  I found it to be a little on the thick side, so I used a scant single pump each time.  I found that any more than that was too much for my skin and I would end up feeling like I had greasy skin. Again, the scent is on the strong side, but pleasant.

Herbal Facial Oil

Herbal Facial Oil

Effectiveness

Like I said earlier, I like the set overall.  My preference would be to have a slightly thicker cleanser and a slightly thinner oil.  I think that would work a bit better for my skin.  Having said that, I had clean and moist skin all month while I was trying this out.  Perhaps it’s time for me to break out of my norms and get used to something new!

Packaging

The cleanser and the facial oil are both housed in dark glass bottles with pumps.  The dark glass (Miron Violet Glass) helps to protect the oils.  When I originally opened up the gift bag, I noticed that there was a little mesh bag of fresh lavender included.  It’s a lovely touch to the presentation of the products.

Ingredients

The entire Annmarie Gianni Skin Care line is made with natural, organic and wild crafted ingredients.  The ingredient list for the cleanser was included right on the bottle.  Here’s the list:

Love, aloe vera juice infused with (Lavender flowers, calendula flower, life everlasting flowers, hyssop, lemon balm, neem leaf, olive leaf, plantago leaf), coconut oil, cocoglucoside (coconut oil & glycerin), vegetable glycerin; aspen bark extract; ruby grapefruit oil, lemon oil, green mandarin oil, xanthan gym, rosemary oleoresin

I love that the first ingredient is Love!  I also love that the she explains right on the bottle what things like cocoglucoside are.  I always take a lot of comfort in knowing what I’m putting on my skin and this list of ingredients helps with that.

Aloe-herb facial Cleanser Ingredient List

Aloe-herb facial Cleanser Ingredient List

The sample of the toning mist was simple too small for an ingredient list.  A quick look at the website told me everything I needed to know about the toner.  It has a total of two ingredients, Love and pure organic neroli distillate.  That’s my kind of ingredient list!

The facial oil didn’t have an ingredient list on the bottle, which I found disappointing.  However, I suspect it’s an issue of space on the label.  I found the full ingredient list on the website:

Love, herb oil (grapeseed oil, life everlasting, green tea, gotu kola, rosemary, calendula, lavender, milk thistle, lemon balm, licorice root, roobibos, hibiscus, rhodiola, gingko, plantain, amla, ashwaghanda, acai, goji berry, horsetail, comfrey leaves, comfrey root, rose petal, echinacea, ginseng, lotus, boswellia, blue violet), fractionated coconut oil, oleic sunflower oil, olive oil, aloe vera oil, passion fruit oil, tamanu oil, carrot seed oil, vitamin E tocopherols, evening primrose extract, seabuckthorn berry extract, red raspberry seed oil, cranberry seed oil, rosehip extract, calendula extract, buriti fruit oil, sandalwood oil, jasmine sambac oil, bergamot oil, blue chamomile oil, rosemary oleoresin. Organic or Wildcrafted.

Affordability

With each of these products, a little goes a really long way.  For that reason, they will each last a long time.  I can’t get a great feel of exactly how much I’ve used in the past month, mainly because the Miron Violet Glass is so dark!

The Facial Cleanser is the more economical choice, if you’re looking for a deal. For about $25, you can get a 50 mL bottle.  I imagine that bottle would last a few months.  The Facial Oil, on the other hand, is a bit more pricey at about $35 for only 15 mL.  Though I only used one pump at a time of the facial oil, I find the price quite a bit more than for the cleanser.  And having said all of that, my personal opinion is that these products are priced within a reasonable range.

For what you pay, you are getting an effective product that is made with natural ingredients, free from all unnecessary chemicals.  Knowing that I’m using safe cosmetics on my skin goes a long way in my books.

My Recommendation?

If you’re looking for skin care products that are free of unnecessary chemicals, this is definitely a set to try out.  You need to be willing to accept a different texture for the cleanser.  If you can get past that, this might just work for you.  I would definitely recommend giving it a try!

Annmarie Gianni Skin Care

Annmarie Gianni Skin Care


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Vegan Belly Butter

I ran out of Beeswax!  What???

It’s a staple ingredient, after all.  How could I let that happen?

(Honestly, I don’t actually know how that happened at all…I just realized one day I was completely out!  Yikes!)

Out of Beeswax

I was left with two options, use the other waxes I had on hand or frantically try to get my hands on some beeswax.

Of course, not having the energy to be frantic, I did some research and decided to try out the other waxes that I had on hand.

Other Wax Options

After a wee bit of research, I learned that you use about half of the amount of “other” wax as compared to beeswax.   In other words, where you would use 2 tablespoons of beeswax, you would substitute 1 tablespoon of “other” wax.  Other waxes tend to be harder than beeswax, so you just need a little less of it.

Candellila Wax

I settled on trying out some of the Candellila wax.  I was charged with making some belly butter for a good friend who is quite pregnant.

I used exactly half of the amount of wax I would normally use.  I melted all of the ingredients together and then poured the butter into the jars.  I love the colour of this wax.  It’s a light yellow and it didn’t darken up even after it cooled off.  I was a bit worried that the mixture didn’t have enough wax because it didn’t start to harden for quite a while.  I ended up leaving it overnight and, lo and behold, it had turned into a beautiful butter by the morning.  I tried some out for myself and it was great.  It was soft enough to easily smear onto your skin and it was hard enough not to be runny in the jar.

Vegan Belly Butter

Vegan Belly Butter

That’s exactly how I stumbled on the art of making vegan belly butter.  I used some different oils and of course, the candellila wax.  However, the process was the same in that I simply melted everything together, added some essential oils, and then poured the liquid into jars to set.

I tried this butter out myself and thought it worked wonderfully.  However, sadly, it did not work out so well for my pregnant friend.  Something in it, either the different combination of oils or the wax itself (or that very combination of wax and oils) didn’t agree with her skin.  Fortunately, I got my hands on some beeswax in the interim and whipped up a batch of the regular stuff.  Phew!

Vegan Belly Butter


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Slow Death by Rubber Duck

Before the holidays, I read Slow Death by Rubber Duck.

I’m glad that I read it BEFORE the holidays, because it’s not exactly your typical uplifting holiday-type reading.  Having said that, I highly recommend this book to all of you.  Really, it’s a must read.

Slow Death By Rubber Duck

Overall Impressions

Slow Death by Rubber Duck is written by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.

It’s an account of a study they both did to test the effects of seven chemicals that are prevalent in our daily lives.  Who did they test these chemicals on?  Themselves!  Yes, they’re both pretty committed to learning about these chemicals and then educating the rest of us about their findings.

It’s terrifying to learn just how much the use of chemicals has spread into everything we touch.  It’s even more scary to learn that babies ingest these chemicals at a much higher rate because they touch and mouth everything so much more, not to mention their fast rate of breathing.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Lourie tested seven different chemicals  They are:

  1. Pthlates
  2. Teflon and other non-stick products
  3. BPA
  4. Mercury
  5. Triclosan
  6. Chemicals that make things flame retardant
  7. DDT

Each one has different properties and has a different history.  Perhaps more importantly, each one has a different effect on our bodies and our environment.  Some are hard to avoid and some aren’t.  Some stay in our bodies for a long time and others don’t. Are you curious yet?

Alia’s Learnings

I learned a lot by reading this book.  It’s full of information and I’m sure I didn’t actually absorb it all on this first read.  You can bet that I’ll be reading it again and again.

From the first time through, here are a few of the quick hits that I can share with you:

Chemicals like Triclosan seem to be incorporated into everything.  For some reason, we have become hypersensitive to germs and rely on this chemical for the feeling of protection from them.  Yet, just a little bit of this chemical isn’t enough to offer protection.  Enough has to be used for it to be effective.  By just using a little bit, we are effectively polluting our bodies and environment for no reason, other than the perception that we might be protected from germs.

The most bizarre example of a product that has Triclosan is the germ-free pizza cutter.  Basically, the handle of the pizza cutter contains a germ-fighting chemical, possibly in a minute quantity.  I’m just not sure why you would need this.  Don’t you wash your pizza cutter after you use it anyway?  And is there enough of the chemical to actually fight the germs in the first place?

Pthlates are in everything!  In a general sense, they make products feel rubbery.  They are in a multitude of plastics, plastic bags, plastic toys and yes, rubber duckies.  As soon as I realized this, I checked my son’s bath toys.  Fortunately, they are all BPA- and pthalate-free.  I was so relieved!  Given the amount of chewing that he does on those bath toys, I’m quite pleased that they don’t have unnecessary chemicals in them.

I love Tuna.  I knew it was high in mercury.  I had no idea just how much mercury is in this fish.  The results of the tests were astounding and it’s made me think twice of just how often I will be eating tuna fish in the future.  Is it worth it?

Why Should You Read This Book?

This book is informative.

It’s funny.

It’s full of practical tips for those who want to live a cleaner life.

If nothing else, you’ll learn something.


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Evande Facial Care – A Product Review

For the month of January, I have been using a whole new set of skin care products.  It’s the Evande Skin Care Set.  This set was sent to me free of charge.  In return, I’ve been using it religiously so that I could provide you all with my personal review of the set.

Evande

Scent

The scent of any skin care product is really important to me.  I have to like it or I simply won’t use it.

The scent of the Evande set reminds me of a light baby powder.  It’s a very feminine and delicate scent.  I love the way it smells when I put it on.  I also love that I catch a whiff of it every once in a while throughout the day.

Each of the products in the set has the same scent, so they work really well together.

Evande Cleanser and Make-Up Remover

The soap-free cleanser is light and creamy all at the same time.  It works well as a makeup remover.  The hardest makeup I had to remove was some lipstick that had lasted beyond its best before date.  It was very sticky on my lips and felt horrible.  A dab of the cleanser/makeup remover allowed me to wipe it off in one swipe.  So yes, it works as a makeup remover.

As a cleanser, it is gentle on my skin.  After I’m done using it, my skin feels clean without that dreaded squeaky clean feeling.  My skin doesn’t feel dry afterwards, either.

Evande Cleanser

Evande Cleanser

Evande Alcohol-Free Pore Minimizing Toner

This is the only toner I’ve ever been able to use without breaking out.  In fact, I had all but given up on toners until I received this set to try.  I figured I had to give it a try in order to do a complete review.  To my surprise, my skin didn’t react poorly at all.  I love spraying this toner on my face and neck after cleansing.  It seems like such a lovely way to ensure my skin stays moist.  I am totally hooked.

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

The moisturizer is light.  I just need a little bit for my face and neck, especially after the toner.  It leaves my skin well-balanced and hydrated, but not greasy or feeling heavy.

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

Evande Face and Neck Moisturizer

Effectiveness

This skin care set has served me well for a whole month.  It’s been cold and dry for most of the month and my skin has been well hydrated throughout.  The cleanser is gentle and the moisturizer is nourishing.  It’s exactly the right combination I need to keep my skin clean and moisturized.

Packaging

The packaging is simple.  The pumps for the cleanser and moisturizer and the spray nozzle for the toner make each product really easy to dispense.  I personally like the clean look of the white bottles and the touch of gold classes it up a little bit.

Evande

Ingredients

The Evande brand uses the tag line, “Feel the Natural Elegance”.  Evande prides itself on creating products that are great for your skin without using harsh unnecessary chemicals.  On their website, they have listed the chemicals that are prohibited from use in their product line:

  •    DEA (Diethanolamine)
  •     Dyes
  •     Mineral Oil
  •     PABA
  •     Parabens
  •     Paraffin
  •     phthlates
  •     Sulfates

I love that Evande uses more natural substances to create their products.  They also clearly list all their ingredients right on the back of each bottle.  I’ve also reproduced the ingredient list below, in case you’re interested.

Evande Ingredient Listings

Evande Ingredient Listings

Cleanser and Make-Up Remover:

Water, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Cocomidopropyl Betaine, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Vaccinium Myrtillus (Bilberry) Fruit Extract, Saccharum Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, passiflora Edulis (Passion Fruit) Extract, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Fruit Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Glycol Distearate, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance

Pore-Minimizing Toner

Extracts of (Marigold, Chamomile, Rosemary, Cucumber, Elder, Arnica, Linden, Cornflower, Matricaria, St. John’s Wort, Hops, Horsetail, Pine Cone, Mallow, Ivy, Pellitory, Burdock, Sage and Soapwort) in Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Glycerin, Propylene Officinarum (Sugar Cane) Extract, Acer Saccharum (Sugar Maple) Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Fruit Extract, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, Laureth-23, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance

Face and Neck Moisturizer

Water, Glycerin, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Cetyl Alcohol, Petrolatum, Dimethicone, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Aloe Barbedensis Leaf Juice, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Almond Butter), Silk Amino Acid, Ficus Carica (Fig) Extract, Kigelia Africana Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Niacinamide, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Glycol Distearate, Coco-Glucoside, Glyceryl Oleate, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol,  Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Tetrasodium EDTA, Fragrance

I looked up this brand on the Good Guide and on Skin Deep.  Unfortunately, it was not listed on either site, most likely because it’s such a new brand.  I’d love to know how these products rate on either of those sites.

Affordability

Is this magic skin care set affordable?  In short, YES!

Each bottle contains 200 mL of product.  My best guess is that, after one month, at most, I’ve used about one-quarter of each bottle.

You can buy the whole set of three for $24.99!

Honestly, I didn’t even look at the price until it was time to write my review.  I was floored when I saw how well priced the set is.

Evande

Would I Recommend Evande?

Yes – I most definitely would.  I’ve had a great experience using this set for the past month.  My skin feels great and I’ve finally found a toner that works for my skin!  I also love the clean packaging and the great price.


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6 Weeks Later and the Jar of Positivity

I’ve been away from my blog for about 6 weeks.  I’ve never taken a break quite that long before, not even when I gave birth to my son just over a year ago.

Even while I was away, my little blog generated lots of hits and I’m so thankful to all my readers for continuing to check out my blog!  Thank you!

Two Big Changes

Since I’ve been away, a few things have changed in my daily routine.  First, we added a new member to our family in the form of a live-in nanny for my son.  She’s great and my son fell in love with her almost immediately.  I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Second, I returned to work in the office on a full-time basis.  I had dreaded this particular change for months, only to find out that it wasn’t half bad.  I’m enjoying having something else to do during the day and I still get to spend a few hours with my little boy each night when I get home.  I definitely feel lucky that the transition has been so smooth for all of us.

At first, I had no idea how I would make time for my skin care experiments.  Yet, in the past few weeks, I’ve managed to whip up batches of vapo rub, belly butter, and homemade deodorant.  Phew!  I’ve even been experimenting with new waxes.  It’s all about balance and now, I’m sure I’ll continue to find time for my skin care products.

The Jar of Positivity

To help my family kick-start this year, we decided to try something new.  We have introduced the Jar of Positivity.  I got this idea from a post I saw on Facebook and I loved it. Basically, we can write down anything that makes us smile or happy  on a little piece of paper and then stuff it into the jar.  We’ll save all the notes until the end of the year and then read them around Christmas time.  To be honest, I’m not sure that “Positivity” is actually a word.  Nonetheless, for 2014, it is in our household!

"Jar of Positivity"

“Jar of Positivity”


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2013 in review

Thank you 2013!

I’ve come to look forward to the WordPress Annual Report each year.  I’m thankful that my little blog has grown each year and this report shows that!  2013 was a wonderful year for my blog.  I met lots of like-minded bloggers and enjoyed sharing tips and tricks with you all.  Thank you!

The much awaited WordPress.com 2013 annual report

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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