Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Brand Focus: Silkka Garden Apothecary

I've said it time and time again, I love discovering new Canadian brands. I feel as though Canadian brands don't often get recognized, despite having such fantastic products, and it's such a pleasure to see more brands putting themselves out there and getting recognition. Silkka Garden Apothecary has been raved about on several blogs around the globe, like Short, Small, & Sweet (USA), several times on Small Bits of Loveliness (Slovenia), and Elegantly Eco (Canada), just to name a few. It was only natural (pun intended) that with the brand's focus on pure, simple, and clean ingredients, that I'd have to try them out
Silkka is Finnish for pure and simple, and it's a nod to both my ancestry and the principles which guide the creations. While nature serves as inspiration, simplicity is always the intention. Using pure, natural ingredients known for their abilities to protect, heal and nurture the body's largest organ (our skin!), my goal is to create skincare products that are simple, beautiful and, most importantly, effective. As the old saying goes, less is more (and yes, this even applies to skincare).

Silkka products are handmade in small batches each week, using timeless ingredients from around the world. They'll always be free of harmful additives, and packed with good-for-you ingredients, like plant, nut and fruit-based oils and butters, essential oils, dried herbs and flowers, and unrefined Ontario beeswax. Product packaging is both recyclable and reusable (amber glass and tin), and packing materials used in shipping orders are always kept to a minimum. (And packaging material from supply orders are always re-used.)
Read more about Silkka here.

Liisa, Founder and Creator, gave me the opportunity to pick up a couple of products. I chose the *Blossom Hydration Mist ($15 cad/2 oz) and *Vanilla Love Body Oil ($21 cad/4 oz). The packaging of both items is lovely; dark glass bottles preserve the product housed inside, the labels and logo are so feminine and pretty, and the mister top/pump are perfection (more about that below). Also, both items only contain four ingredients..what!? Simplicity at its finest.

*Blossom Hydrating Mist: Balance mind and body with this delicate floral hydration mist. In aromatherapy Magnolia is lauded for its ability to relax and rejuvenate the spirit, and Chamomile its ability to comfort and calm. Aloe vera soothes and heals damaged skin, while Chamomile's anti-inflammatory properties calm redness and irritation. Pure botanical bliss for the skin and spirit.

Aside from the pretty bottle, the spray top is awesome. Not sure about the rest of the world, but I love when my toner provides a perfect all over mist with only one or two spritzes. This does that. It's.Just.So.Perfect. Yes, spray tops get me excited. It's the little things folks! Anyway....the hydrating mist instantly calmed redness, hydrated the skin, and set makeup. Sadly, the scent was not my favourite. The first ingredient is magnolia water, which if you know what that smells like, then you'll know what this smells like. For someone who had no clue, I didn't expect it to be as strong or linger for as long as it did. I used about a third of the bottle before I just couldn't do it anymore. On the plus side, Lisa from Glam Goes Green gets to enjoy it now! Scent is a personal thing and aside from that, this was a great toner/floral water.

*Vanilla Love Body Oil: Sweet, seductive vanilla. There's simply nothing more exquisite, more enticing; so much so that it demands centre stage in this gentle, lush body oil. Avocado oil provides long-lasting hydration, while oils of camellia and apricot are light and non-greasy, making Vanilla Love the perfect moisturizer for day and night use.

Be still my beating heart. Be still. I don't even know how to begin writing about this body oil as the thought alone makes my heart skip a beat. It smells like heaven! Like delicious vanilla. Edible vanilla. Walk around smelling like dessert vanilla. Want to smell like this all day, every day vanilla. Can't get over the scent vanilla. It is absolute perfection anddddd I think Liisa needs to create a perfume. Now that I've gone on and on about how amazing the scent is, how does it perform? On my super dry winter skin, it wasn't enough. It definitely needed to be layered, but I often find that with body oils. I also only used a tiny, tiny amount for fear of running out of this sweet smelling goodness. With the weather (hopefully) warming up soon, I'm certain that it'll be more than enough on its own. Regardless of needing to be layered, the oil absorbed incredibly fast without feeling greasy and the scent definitely lingered (which I was hoping it would). As for the pump on this bad boy, I prefer a pump that doesn't require me to actually hold the bottle, but I do like that it's virtually leak-proof making it ideal to travel with. I sense this becoming a regular item in my body care arsenal.

Get them here: Silkka Garden Apothecary 

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*Products provided for review consideration. All opinions are entirely my own.

Blossom Hydrating Mist Ingredients: Michelia champaca (Magnolia) floral water, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) floral water, Aloe barbadensis (Aloe) leaf juice and Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate.

Vanilla Love Body Oil: Camellia sinensis (Camellia) seed oil, Prunus armeniaca (Apricot) kernel oil, Persea gratissima (Avocado) oil and Vanilla planifolia fruit extract.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Brand Focus: Mont Echo (Nature Divine)

This Canadian brand has been featured on my blog before. I've reviewed their Cleansing Cream, which I really enjoyed, so when Mont Echo contacted me and asked if I wanted to try their new Nature Divine range, I couldn't say no. Nature Divine is, what I'd consider, their more luxurious range that contains even more sea buckthorn oil than their other products. I opted to try the *Creme Divine ($42.95 CAD/50 ml) and *Eau Divine ($38.95 CAD/100 ml).
Sea Buckthorn Skin and Hair care products are formulated with our 100% Canadian-grown Sea Buckthorn seed oil, fruit oil and floral waters to ensure that our customers receive all the benefits of this extraordinary plant. Our Sea Buckthorn skin and hair products are handcrafted with high quality, certified organic, biodynamically grown and wildcrafted essential oils and floral waters that are never bleached or processed, conserving all of their nourishing vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and brilliant natural colours.
Read more about Mont Echo here.

*Creme DivineMont Echo’s signature anti-aging combination of Rosehips and Sea Buckthorn form the base for this rich and luxurious enriched moisture complex with therapeutic, regenerative & hydrating herbs. Particularly high in Vitamin C, this cream is formulated to benefit dry, mature and sensitive skin types. 

The small plastic pump bottle is great because of the fact that it's dark (preserving the product) and contains a pump (clean and easy to use). This cream boasts an impressive and beautiful list of ingredients like rose otto, shea butter, comfrey, and calendula, just to name a few. The smell is gorgeous and light, can't quite explain it but I do know that it reminds me of something that my mom used on her face when I was a kid. It's definitely not strong and doesn't linger. Unfortunately, when the temperatures dropped to -20 (and colder), my skin soaked this stuff up and begged for more. It just wasn't enough, even with an oil applied underneath or mixed in. Now that it's warmed up, it works much better and I love that it dries to a semi matte finish. It never feels heavy or looks greasy and creates a great base for makeup. I also love using it on my hands before bed! Although it's targeted for dry/mature/sensitive skin types, I think it would be great for normal and combo skin types as well.

*Eau DivineUnique in the world, our Eau Divine Pure Sea Buckthorn floral water soothes and balances the skin while preserving and strengthening the protective acid mantle. Eau Divine is particularly effective in preparing the skin for the application of oils, serums and creams. It is extremely gentle and well tolerated by even the most sensitive skin.

Floral water is my jam, I love them! Given that I love sea buckthorn oil and I love floral waters, this selection only made sense. Sadly, it smells awful! My boyfriend, who has gotten used to herbal/natural type scents, was completely put off as well. Meaning..he was like, "wtf is that smell?". I then responded with, "my face". True story. AND if the scent alone isn't bad enough, the fact that it lingers makes it even worse. Of course, the scent has nothing to do with Mont Echo and is a personal preference. Since I can't stand using this on a daily basis because of the scent, I actually use it to mix up my clay masks. That way my skin still reaps the anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and other benefits of the floral water. If you have the opportunity to smell this first or don't care about scents (bad/good), then this would be a product to consider.

Get them here: Mont Echo and these retailers.

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*Products provided for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

Creme Divine Ingredients: Rosa demascena (Rose Otto) Flower Distillate*, Fucus vesiculosis (Bladderwrack) Extract, Aqua / Water / Eau, Persea gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Borago officinalis (Borage) Seed Oil*, Aloe barbadensis*, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea,) Butter, Althaea officinalis (Marshmallow) Root Extract*, Symphytum Officinale (Com­frey) Extract*, Calendula officinalis Flower Extract, Sambucus nigra (Elder) Flower extract*, Equisetum arvense (Horsetail) Leaf Ex­tract*, Avena Sativa (Oatstraw) Kernel Ex­tract*, Stellaria Media (Chickweed) Extract*, Camelia sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract*, Sorbitan Olivate*, Glycerin (Vegetable)*, Rosa demascena (Rose de Damas) Flower Oil, San­dalwood spicatum (Sandalwood Australian) Wood Oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Citrus aurantium var.Amara (Bit­ter Orange) Leaf Oil, Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Seed Extract**, Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract**, Carthamus tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil*, Triticum vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Lecithin (Soy)*, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Seed Extract, Daucus carota (Carrot) Seed Oil* **, Rosa canina (Rosehips) Fruit Extract* **, Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) Resin Oil* **, Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage) Flower Oil, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) CO2 Herb Extract* **
* Biologique / Organic ** Concentrated CO2 Extracts

Eau Divine Ingredients: Hippophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn Floral Water)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

February 2015 Empties!

February was a busy month, mostly because of the fact that I started a new job at the end of January AND there have been several social events happening on the weekends. Still, life goes on and I managed to use up a bunch of products. 

Andalou Naturals Illuminating Toner - review here - A definite favourite of mine. It's the best and so affordable. Already repurchased.

Corpa Flora Beaute Divine Cleansing Oil - review here - Another favourite. This stuff smelled nice, lasted months, removed makeup like a dream, and didn't break me out. Will eventually repurchase, once I use up some other oils.

Kiss My Face Creamy Face Cleanser - I picked this up because Brianna, Iluvjesse444, raved about it. It had a very creamy, yet tacky, texture and smelled nice, but did absolutely nothing for my skin. I much prefer the Andalou Probiotic Cleanser and have repurchased that one instead.

Meow Meow Tweet Baking Soda Free Deo - review here - Aaaaand another fave! This stuff smelled delicious and worked to keep my pits from stinking (and sweating) without irritating them. I do think there is a quality control issue with these though. Either way, it works and I've already repurchased.

*Joyous Health Minty Fresh Toothpaste - A review was supposed to happen on this gem, clearly it didn't. I enjoyed the simplistic ingredients, how big the jar was, and how fresh my mouth felt after using this but Living Libations seems to help with my teeth sensitivity better. I've repurchased Living Libations instead.

*North Hill Soap Company Earth Goddess Soap - review here - I enjoyed this soap because of how soft it left my skin feeling. Sadly, it didn't do much in the clarifying department. They have other bars that I prefer over this one, won't repurchase.

*Corpa Flora Corpa Nutritive Body Oil - review here - Fabulous body oil! The pump bottle was awesome, the oil was extremely moisturizing and glided on the skin with ease, it absorbed beautifully, and left my skin baby soft. Once I use up some other body oils, I'll likely repurchase this one.

*SBT After Sun Cream - Obviously I didn't use this for its intended purpose, as I haven't seen the sun in months, however it made a fantastic body cream. It was soothing and incredibly moisturizing. I actually enjoyed mixing it with a bit of the Corpa Flora body oil for that extra oomph that my skin desperately needed. The only downfall was the scent, it smelled like olive oil and sea buckthorn oil. which doesn't appeal to me. Although I enjoyed it, I wouldn't purchase the full size because of the scent alone.

Andalou Naturals Hand Cream in Clementine - My absolute favourite hand cream! It smelled incredible, really helped soothe and clear up the eczema on my hands, absorbed and moisturized well, and is fairly affordable. Already repurchased.

*Reese & Luke Baby Balm - review here - This stuff saved my incredibly dry winter skin. I applied it on dry patches (on my face) as well as all over my body as a moisturizer, to soothe severely dry skin and it worked like a charm! I enjoyed the tin that it came in and the lavender scent. Would repurchase in the future.

*SBT Salves for Sunburn and Eczema & Dermatitis - review here - Balms and salves aren't really my jam. I enjoy them in the winter months as an after shower and before bed body moisturizer, but otherwise I don't care for them. That being said, these were fantastic as a body moisturizer, foot balm, AND cleansing balm. Great multipurpose products and because they're so big, they're a great value. Took me months to use these up. The scents weren't my favourite though. Since it'll hopefully start warming up soon, and I don't use products like this in the warmer months, I won't be repurchasing until next winter.

*Pacifica Dreamlit Eye Brightener - I'm actually tossing this because it's way too pink, the texture sucks, and it doesn't even cover or brighten all that well.

*Alima Pure Natural Definition Mascara - review here - I ended up really enjoying this mascara. It definitely didn't thicken, but it was great for lengthening, as a bottom lash mascara, and for layering. Likely wouldn't repurchase.

100% Pure Lip Glaze in Seduce - review here - I've mentioned several times my love/hate relationship with this product. I used the rest of it up as a lip balm because it's such a neutral-ish shade and was super creamy. Since I'm more into lip pencils and matte lips now, this isn't something I'd repurchase but would totally recommend.

CV Skinlabs Skin Balm - This was wonderful as an intense overnight lip treatment and I love the concept behind the brand, however, I still had about half left before it started to smell incredibly funky. Pretty sure that it's gone bad, that's why I'm tossing it. For $20+ for a tiny tube, I'm super disappointed that I didn't get to use it up and that it went bad so quickly. Won't be repurchasing.

Alima Pure Bronzer in Mauna Loa & Maracaibo (samples) - Mauna Loa is a personal favourite of mine, it's such a perfect bronzer for my skin. I'm actually almost done going through the full size. Maracaibo is slightly warmer than my natural skin tone, so I used it as a setting powder/foundation when I went out at night.

Josh Rosebrook Nutrient Day Cream (sample) - For such a creamy product, I found it dried to a semi matte finish and didn't quite moistuize my skin as well as I had hoped. This would likely be a better product for my skin during the winter months and I plan on picking up another sample to test my theory (because it's pretty pricey).

May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon (sample) - This super swanky product was a let down for me, thankfully a spa customer gave me this sample to try. I found the scent overpowering and instead of calming my facial skin, it ended up breaking me out.

See any favourites? Have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments! I'd also love to know what you finished :)
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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Brand Focus: North Hill Soap Company

I love bar soap and find myself using it to wash my hands and, of course, my body, on a daily basis. It's important for me to support local soap makers that avoid the use of palm oil and any other questionable ingredients, and really put an emphasis on sustainability. When my friend Lisa, from Glam Goes Green, told me about North Hill Soap Company, I knew I had to try them out!
Welcome to North Hill Soap Company! We have been manufacturing hand-crafted, artisan soap since 2008. Our emphasis is on natural, sustainable ingredients, and 100% post-consumer recycled packaging. 
My name is Kelly Martin, and I am the soaper-in-chief at North Hill Soap Company, directing my family of four children and web-savvy husband in all their bubbly endeavours. 
Our family journey in soapmaking began with an innocent conversation. A family friend who owns a small-town art shop was lamenting her inability to find a soapmaker. I have always suffered from OCD- Obsessive Crafting Disorder. I have to try whatever craft is going by, and I thought, “I’m sure I can make soap!” 
I could never list all of the crafts I have dabbled in and moved on from, but soapmaking stuck. I fell in bubbly love almost immediately, and I haven’t looked back since. Not only do I enjoy the process, but once you start using handmade soap, you really can’t go back to store-bought. The difference in your skin is so obvious, you would never want to feel dry, itchy and rough again. Not to mention the confidence in knowing what you and your family are putting onto (and hence into) your body. 
Read more about NHSC here.

The packaging is absolutely awesome! I love the colours and design of each one, as well as the fact that they come in post consumer recycled packaging. Seriously, just look at those boxes! After reaching out to Kelly, she was kind enough to allow me to select a few bars of soap. I chose *Sea Goddess, *Happy Hippie, *Blackbeard's Booty, *Sex On The Beach, and *Earth Goddess.

*Sea Goddess: The Mediterranean Sea provides us with so many Gifts of beauty– it’s no wonder Aphrodite is pictured as being Born from the waves! Sea salt will polish your skin to glowing freshness, and Spirulina Algae is a tremendous source of Antioxidants. 

In theory, this soap sounds amazing and I was really excited for it. Sadly, it fell short. The scent and texture reminds me of soap that my grandma used, in Portugal, to wash her clothes. I'm talking the old school way of washing clothes; a bar of soap and bucket. I find that it can either be harsh or feel like you're dragging a dry soap bar on dry skin regardless of how wet both are. This is definitely my least favourite.

*Happy Hippie: Tempt your inner peace child with the earthy scent of patchouli, and enjoy the moisturizing benefits of hemp butter in our grooviest soap bar. Made with Organic Canadian Hemp Milk & Calendula Petals, you may have to find your love beads and flower crown after this far-out shower experience!

This is my favourite of all the bars. It smells in-freakin-credible, is ever so gently exfoliating, nourishing, creamy, and just lovely to use. I can't get over the scent and love that it fragrances my bathroom with a light hint of patchouli. I'm such a hippie eh?

*Blackbeard's Booty: When Blackbeard took his yearly bath, we’re sure this is the soap he favoured. Sail your pirate armada in your bath, while you enjoy the spicy sweet scent of bay rum essential oil straight from the Dominican Republic. Poppy Seeds add a gentle exfoliation.

How cute is the name and little pirate skull on the bar of soap?! This is my second favourite of them all. I love the (truly) spicy sweet scent of the bay rum, which is very unisex leaning towards masculine, and how lovely the poppy seeds feel on the skin. It leaves my skin exfoliated, nourished, and baby soft.

*Sex On The Beach: The fruit acids in our blend of tropical fruits encourage cell turnover, and help to dissolve the glue holding together the top layer of cells. Immerse yourself in memories of a Caribbean vacation. Notes of citrus will whisk you off to an island paradise, fruity drink in hand.

I'm sure you can all guess that what attracted me to this soap was the fact that it's supposed to be like a chemical exfoliant for the body, however, I'm not convinced it actually does much in that department. Usually with chemical exfoliants, your skin will tingle. This soap doesn't tingle whatsoever, not even on breakouts. I mean, obviously it's not meant to be an intense, all over body peel. Just thought it would be worth mentioning, in case that's the reason you decide to choose this particular bar. If you're looking for a soap bar that smells fruity, feels great on the skin, and leaves it feeling soft, this is the one for you! Out of the 5 bars, this one is in my top 3.

*Earth Goddess: Kaolin is the most gentle of all the clays, drawing impurities from your skin without stripping your natural oils. Kaolin clay is suitable for all skin types, and exfoliates gently enough to be used even on your face! This beautiful bar also includes Himalayan Pink Salt, which will draw out impurities while providing necessary minerals to your skin.

Lastly, we have Earth Goddess! This one is really nice and leaves my skin soft, just like the others, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I expected it to help with breakouts, because of its clarifying properities (pink and green clay). It doesn't. I also don't find it fragranced enough considering it contains patchouli and lavender, two dominant essential oils. Still really nice, just not one I'd repurchase.

All in all, I'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to try out this amazing Canadian brand. Their soaps really are beautiful and reasonable priced considering the quality. I will 100% be purchasing Happy Hippie and Blackbeard's Booty once I run out and highly recommend.

Retails for: $5.99/bar and is available in 16 different scents (4 of which are unscented).

Get it here: North Hill Soap Company and these retailers.
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*Products provided for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
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