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Saturday, 18 August 2018

Natural beauty can be a difficult puzzle to solve at the best of times, but when you are travelling abroad it gets a whole lot trickier.  Between potential language barriers, varying regulations, and issues of accessibility, the whole green game changes when you are in a new country.

I grew up in the US, and I spent my whole life in Western New York before moving to England.  You would think that I would know the ins and outs of all natural products here, but to be totally honest, I was pretty clueless until this visit.  Since all my cupboards are always stocked with nontoxic goodies and I have been shopping the the UK for so long now, I know what to look out for, where to go, and how to grab the best deals when it comes to clean beauty and lifestyle necessities.  However, green living was not (and still is not) a priority with most people here in America, so pickings can be pretty slim if you do not know where to look.  And even if you do find a "natural" section in a shop the items included may not actually be what they claim to be.

There are a surprising amount of differences between green products in the UK and in the US that I have picked up on -- some are a little silly, and some are pretty serious, but I wanted to give a rundown of each to all you eco-lovelies so hopefully you can have an easier time of things than I did.

So what's up with natural beauty in the US??

I want to start off by saying that there are many INCREDIBLE American green beauty businesses available.  This post is in no way meant to bash US products, as I have found some genuinely lovely goodies over the last few weeks.  In fact, I want to celebrate those fab brands since they are like hidden gems you find amongst some less than desirable duds.  But I also want to give everyone a heads up that finding these clean products can be tricky and there are a few things to consider when shopping around.

1. Ingredients

The biggest issue I have been facing is greenwashing.  In the UK I generally know what I am getting from a product.  I tend to look out for officially certified labels (NatTrue, COSMOS, Soil Association, EcoCert...), but even if I am buying something blind so to say, I know there are regulations in place that mean most toxic ingredients are not allowed due to EU laws.  I still check the ingredients list just in case the dreaded phenoxyethonal is included (or any other nasties I try to avoid), but I haven't run into too many problems in the last few years while shopping.

I can't say the same for when I shop in America.

Let me set the scene:  I wander through a shop and come across a 'Natural' section in an aisle.  I get super excited because, well, green beauty!  Pick up a great looking face mask or hair serum that has an eco-sounding name or that lists some fab extracts on the front, but lo and behold the ingredients do not reflect the claims on the front of the bottle. A mile long list filled with unpronouncable names and artificial colourings is not exactly what I wanted.

This isn't just a one off I have found.  Mixed in with the genuinely great formulas there are so many brands included in natural sections here in the US that include nasties that can cause irritation or worse.  I end up putting back so many things which is great for my bank balance but less good for my wish to try out new green goodies.

Part of the problem is that like the UK, there is no real regulation over terms like natural, green, or organic.  The bigger problem though is that many ingredients that are banned by the EU are allowed in personal care products in the US.  As of 2009, only 30 ingredients were banned in America as opposed to the over 1,300 in Europe -- these include cancer causing agents such as formaldehyde, known allergens like PPD, and so so so many more.  Shopping the real deal in the US isn't just about keeping appearances or living less artificially, but is truly a matter of health.  Luckily, there are websites in place that can help you check the toxicity if you are unsure.  A long-term favourite of mine is EWG's Skin Deep which tells you not only the safety rating of individual ingredients, but informs you what they are used for, other names they may be listed as, and even full brand overviews.

2. Price

Okay, so this one is sort of dependent on what you are looking for, but generally I have to say American natural beauty brands tend to be more expensive than UK ones.  If I am searching for an organic rose water in England, I know I can pop onto Love Lula and buy one of many budget friendly options.  I can grab a 100ml glass bottle from Balm Balm or Alteya for under a tenner, plus free shipping if I bump my order up to £15.  It is a bit harder here in America.

My mother was searching for a rose water to use as a setting spray, and after visiting several shops including Sephora, Target, plus an online store, she was still turning up empty because everything came in tiny sizes (30-60ml) for at least $25!  It was a totally random score in Marshall's that finally landed her the perfect product (though it was not organic).

And it isn't just the 'cheaper' options that are more expensive.  Something strange I have noticed is that there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason to pricing with artisan businesses.  I am all for paying more for quality, but $80 for a body butter that contains pretty standard ingredients is pretty steep!  My jaw dropped when I saw the prices for some of the brands I had been keen to try out, especially once I discovered that oftentimes similar formulas in the UK went for less than half the price.  It is disappointing as this may be part of the reason why natural cosmetics and skincare has not picked up as much in the US -- the majority of people just cannot afford to give these brands a chance!

3. Access

Green brands have been popping up all over the place in the UK -- from dedicated online retailers like Love Lula and Rare Beauty to clearly signposted sections in high street shops and supermarkets, the desire for clean beauty is pretty well realized and easy to come by.  The US is a whole other can of worms.

While some massive chains like Target have implemented a "natural" section, these stores are not accessible to everyone.  For example, the shop nearest to my parent's is over 50 miles away.  That is a seriously long way to travel just to pick up a shampoo that is not going to damage your hair or threaten your health!  And forget about a home delivery unless you live in select cities (i.e. NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, or DC) and are willing to pay $7 for shipping.

If you are desperate to check out the offerings in chain shops, keep an eye out for Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Whole Foods -- although the aisle may be small and you still have to do ingredient checks, you may find a great bargain at these superstores.

Keep in mind though, unless you live in a large city, the likelihood of you having a green-friendly store nearby is pretty slim.  You could find yourself faced with a 45 minute drive or even longer just to pop into a place that might not even have a full range of clean beauty.  So what is the best way to find natural beauty products in the US?

Well, I suggest either purchasing direct from the company you are interested in like I did with Earth Harbor Naturals and       Herbivore Botanicals, or better yet, looking local.  There are loads of cute boutiques in small town America, and most will carry a few handmade green beauty brands.  My mother and I ended up buying a handful of plastic free lotion bars each along with tons of other potions.  You can find everything from bug spray to lip gloss off the beaten path.  I even found two indie health and wellness shops nearby and they both were jam packed with fantastic brands both big and small!  This is such a good way to support the community you are visiting as well as those independent creators trying to represent the quality of synthetic-free in more rural areas.

And if you are searching for something further afield, take a bit to hunt online as there are some pretty great digital retailers you can use.  Some of my new favourites are The Green Jungle Beauty Shop, The Detox Market, and Aurora Beauty.  You can also always check on Etsy as well for indie brands -- this is how I fell in love with The Best Kind!  And don't forget that Love Lula delivers worldwide so you can always order from them if you need your tried and true staples!

4. Sizes

I know I have mentioned this already, but sizes tend to run smaller in the US than in the UK.  The typical full size bottle in England is around 100ml for liquids and 30-50ml for creams, whereas the standard here in America seems to be 60ml for sprays and 15-30ml for products like moisturizers and serums.  For a country obsessed with giving XL Big Gulp drinks and supersized meals, I sure was shocked at the itty bitty minis I was finding.

That being said, it is also a LOT easier to find the huge bottles of slightly less clean but still green body washes and haircare.  There were plenty of 500+ ml containers in both the superstores and the boutique shops, so if you need shampoo for a family of five then you should not have any problem sorting out your needs without overspending.

I am sure there are other differences between shopping green in the US and the UK (let me know your personal observations in the comments - I would love to compare notes!!), but for me these were the biggest obstacles I faced on this trip in particular.  I usually bring a large makeup bag full of everything I need, but this time I wanted to pack light and take the time to test out what was on the market.  From my physical shop visits I ended up picking out treats from SheaMoisture, Acure, Tisserand (which you all know I already love!), PlantLife, Rosense, Provence Beauty, Dandelion and Dreams, Promise Organic, My Magic Mud, and Rose and Mags Country Mile -- so many lovely new names to try out!

While I am super happy with all the nontoxic goodies I scored, I did struggle a bit to find things in the more obvious locations like Walmart and Target.  And when I did pop into Sephora the offerings were sadly limited and really pricey (though very high quality).  I have to say this whole experience has made me incredibly thankful for the strides natural beauty and green living has made in the UK -- I never have a problem getting what I need in my local shops, and quick and cheap/free shipping for online orders is seriously something I did not appreciate enough before.

I still have tons of American brands on my wishlist that I have not had a chance to try yet, like Earthwise Beauty, 100% Pure, and Lovinah, but for this trip I think I did a pretty good job of sampling some of the more accessible brands as well as the locally made businesses.  Are there any you would recommend I test out on my next visit??  What would you say are a MUST when it comes to American clean beauty??  Let me know, and I will add them to my list!

And if you want to hear more about any of the products I listed above, please let me know and I may just be able to squeeze in a full length review so you can discover even more!

Monday, 13 August 2018

If you have been following The ecoLogical for a while now, you may actually recognize this green beauty brand from a previous unboxing of Vertue Box back in April this year.  I loved the Rose Ruby facial mist so much that I knew I would have to try out more from the brand when I made my annual trip to America.

Earth Harbor Naturals was founded by beach wanderer, botanical alchemist, and health scientist Ali back in 2016, and she values "effective, ethical, purely natural beauty products with the premium ingredients [your] skin desperately needed."  Along with being cruelty free, organic, and vegan friendly, the sea-inspired collection contains no nasties at all, meaning there are no parabens, silicones, gluten, synthetic preservatives, dyes, or fragrances, phthalates, fillers, and other potentially toxic ingredients.  

I also have to say that I am impressed by the level of detail provided in their FAQ -- there is so much more included than the usual "are your products cruelty free: yes" rundown.  Earth Harbor Naturals address questions of shelf life, the process of creating their products, and individual skincare needs with a respectable amount of information.  Worried about sustainability?  They preemptively address your concerns!:

We are committed to supporting companies that operate with sustainable, fair-trade practices and that also provide the freshest possible ingredients. Those we source from range from small independent farmers to larger cooperatives that obtain most of their ingredients from organic and/or wildcrafted sources. The ingredients are then rushed to us so we can make you the freshest, most effective products possible. The majority of our ingredients are sourced from within the United States. We always do our research to ensure our ethics align with those we source from." 

This is the sort of business I like to support -- one that respects their customers wish for transparency along with their lifestyle requirements.  Plus, I love that they have started delving into the world of crystal-infused beauty.  This brings a whole new level to skincare, and I really respect the efforts!

I ordered a Sample Kit almost immediately after my review of Vertue Box, but what I wasn't expecting at the time was to be lucky enough to be sent two full size products to review along with a trial of the newest member of the EHN family!  I was so thankful when I received my parcel, and could not believe the level of care that went into packaging everything up.  Not only did I get my goodies safe and sound, but there was a handwritten thank you note as well as a precious little seashell.  These details just boosted my appreciation of the business that much more.

In terms of the products themselves, I have to say I am beyond impressed.  Every single item is stunning in design, packaging, and formula - even the sample items come in glass vials and jars, so plastic is kept to a minimum!  Since there is such a focus on the sea and on giving back to marine conservation, I was happy to see the dedication carry over to choices of materials too.

The Sample Kit includes three mini items that work together to showcase the power of Earth Harbor Naturals' potential for a full skincare routine.  Inside the reusable drawstring pouch is a Calypso facial oil, Rose Ruby spray, and Aloha Love cleanser, and each are actually really decent sizes.  The facial mist and the cleanser are both 10ml, and the oil is 5ml.  That means there is enough product in each for several uses, something I find important as it takes a few tries to see if a formula is suited to your skin!  There is nothing more disappointing than teeny tiny sample sachets, and I was happy that this lovely green brand does not skimp on sizings.

Rose Ruby, as I mentioned in my Vertue Box review, is so gorgeous - the mist is light and refreshing and is the perfect balance between lightly floral rose and sweet summer.   It instantly lifts my spirit, and makes me feel vibrant and revitalized.  While this is a product that has many different uses, from mixing up face masks to setting your makeup, I tend to use it either as a toner, as a pick me up, or as an attention aid.  

According to Earth Harbor Naturals, ruby is "Considered to be the gemstone of passion with its intoxicating red color and sense of nobility, Ruby is one of the rarest gems on earth. Ruby Extract is delicate on skin, even though Ruby is second in hardness only to Diamond. The incredible molecular structure is what gives our conflict-free Ruby its skin-refining and complexion-brightening powers."  These powers have been infused into the facial mist, and work in tandem with the rose, hibiscus, white tea, and seaweed to provide a holistic healing and beauty treatment.

Ingredients: Rose Floral Water (Rosa damascena)°°, Hibiscus Flower Extract (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)°, Vegetable Glycerin°°, White Tea Extract (Camellia sinensis)°, Oarweed Seaweed Extract (Laminaria digitata)°°°, Ruby Extract (Conflict Free)°°°    ----   °Certified Organic  | °° Non-GMO  | °°° Wildcrafted

Aloha Love was the one item in this kit that I was a little unsure of, as my skin can be a little fussy when it comes to cream cleansers.  I was worried the formula would be too heavy and leave me with an unwanted breakout, but luckily that was not the case!  Despite the ingredient list including coconut oil, the product was pretty light and did not leave any heavy residue after rinsing. Instead, I felt clean and totally refreshed after using Aloha Love! While the description says the target concerns are primarily dry or aging skin, I think this is also great for more sensitive skin as it is so gentle, or for anyone needing a bit of a boost after intense weather.  Personally, I thought it was perfect for my face after my dips in the pool and days in the sun!

The cleanser is non-foaming which I actually prefer, and applies really smoothly across your whole face.  You only need to use a small amount which means even this 10ml pot goes a long way.  It smells like a mix of citrus fruit, something a little antiseptic, and calming jasmine, but it is not overpowering at all which is nice since I want the end of my skincare routine to be the scent that lasts usually.  Overall I have been enjoying Aloha Love and I will be sad when my sample jar is gone.

Ingredients: Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe barbadensis)°, Coconut Oil (Cocos Nucifera)°, Organic Alcohol°^, Olive Oil Based Emulsifier (Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Cetyl Palmitate, Sorbitan Palmitate)°°, Olive Fruit Oil (Olea Europaea)°, Green Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis)°, Seaweed Extract (Laminara digitata)°°°, Vegetable Glycerin°, Rose Clay°°°, Beet Root Powder (Beta vulgaris)°, Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid)°°, Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)°, Jasmine Absolute (Jasminum grandiflorum)°°, Stearic Acid (vegan fatty acid)°°, Xanthan Gum (plant-based emulsifier)°° --- ° Certified Organic  | °° Non-GMO  | °°° Wildcrafted  -- ^ From fermented plants, organic alcohol is nontoxic, non-drying and formulated to soothe skin while delivering nutrients. 

The final vial inside my Sample Kit was Calypso, a smoothing facial oil packed with marula oil, neroli, cranberry seed, spirulina, pomegranate seed, sea buckthorn berry, and calendula flower.  These all natural oils and extracts are perfect for repairing damage and renewing skin cells as well as refreshing the appearance of tired or dull texture.  If you have signs of aging or if you just need a boost, this oil could be the answer you have been looking for.

Calypso really surprised me, as it has an application method I have not really seen in a facial oil before -- the sample has a roller ball fitted so you simply glide the product across your skin.  Usually Earth Harbor Naturals recommends 3-10 drops of oil, but I tend to opt for the lower end of the scale anyways so this roller ball worked perfectly for me.  The oil absorbs quickly and does not sit on your skin which I like because then you are not left with that gross greasy feeling.  

The smell is possibly one of the best things about this elixir, as it is divine and so uplifting thanks to the citrus oils.  I usually only use face oils at night, but this is so energizing that it works brilliantly for daytime as well.  I found my skin looking so refreshed and healthy after even just a few uses, and I am already thinking about ordering a full size of this oil once my collection dwindles.  This one is just too good to pass up.

Ingredients: Grapeseed Oil (Vitis vinifera)°°, Cranberry Seed Oil (Vaccinium macrocarpon)°°, Pomegranate Seed Oil (Punica granatum)°°, Marula Oil (Sclerocarya birrea)°°, Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil (Hippophae)°, Baobab Seed Oil (Adansonia digitata)°°, Pumpkin Seed Oil (Cucurbita pepo)°, Sunflower Vitamin E (Tocopherol)°°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°°, Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)°, Borage Seed Oil (Borago officinalis)°, Spirulina Extract (Spirulina platensis)°, Sweet Orange Peel Essential Oil (Citrus sinensis)°, Neroli Essential Oil (Citrus aurantium)°°, Calendula Flower CO2 Extract (Calendula officinalis)°° --- ° Certified Organic  | °° Non-GMO

The final sample I had in my parcel from Earth Harbor Naturals was their brand new star, Siren Silk, a multi-tasking night treatment.  

"Inspired by the captivating beauty of mythical Sirens, Siren Silk is a truly synthetic-free night treatment that actually performs — singing sweetly of hydrating, resurfacing and rejuvenating while she feeds skin with Sea Retinol, Marine Peptides, superfood antioxidants, and plumping omegas — all while you sleep."

Siren Silk targets hyperpigmentation, dry or rough skin, loss of firmness or elasticity, and fine lines and wrinkles while also working to resurface the skin, repair the natural barrier, prevent any potential damage, plump the surface, and give needed hydration -- now that is a true multi-tasker!!  

The formula is not as thick as you would expect from looking at it which for me is ideal since my skin gets congested easily.  The consistency is great, and it applies smoothly and sinks in so much better than any other night cream I have tried previously.  It doesn't just sit on the top of your skin and it does not leave the white residue behind.  Plus, it smells lovely -- zesty and fresh and clean!

I want to give this another week or so before giving my final verdict, but based on the results so far I have to say I am well impressed.  My skin is looking brighter and tighter than it did before I started using this every night, and I really appreciate that the ingredients are not pore clogging.  It can be hard to find a night cream that is suited for sensitive skin or skin that does not necessarily require heavy duty anti-aging, and this one fits the bill perfectly.

Ingredients: Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe barbadensis)°, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus dulcis)°, Blueberry Fruit Extract (Vaccinium corymbosum)°, Glyceryl Stearate (plant-based fatty acid)°°, Stearic Acid (vegan fatty acid)°°, Vegetable Glycerin°, ProVitamin B5 (DL-Panthenol)°°, Sunflower Vitamin E (Tocopherol)°°, Avocado Fruit Oil (Persea gratissima)°, Calendula Flower (Calendula officinalis)°, Horsetail Herb (Equisetum arvense)°°°, Burdock Root (Arctium lappa)°°°, St. John’s Wort Herb (Hypericum perforatum) °°°, Chamomile Flower (Matricaria recutita)°°, Lavender Flower (Lavandula angustifolia)°°, Red Clover Flower (Trifolium pratense)°°, Olive Fruit Oil (Olea europaea)°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°, Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis)°, Meadowfoam Seed Oil (Limnanthes alba)°°, Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)°, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)°, Cocoa Butter (Theobroma cacao)°, Macadamia Nut Oil (Macadamia integrifolia)°, Sea Retinol (Crithmum maritimum Extract)°°°, Marine Collagen Peptides (Laminaria japonica Extract)°°°, Lime Peel Essential Oil (Citrus aurantifolia)°°, Atlas Cedarwood Essential Oil (Cedrus atlantica)°°, Lavender Flower Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)°, Tangerine Peel Essential Oil (Citrus tangerina)°°, Neem Seed Oil (Melia azadirachta)°, Rosemary Leaf Extract (Rosmarinus officinalis)°, Xanthan Gum (plant-based emulsifier)°° --- ° Certified Organic | °° Non-GMO | °°° Wildcrafted

As for the two full size goodies I was sent, Amber Soul and Citrine Sea, the positive vibes just keep on coming!  

Amber Soul is a regenerative body serum that is named after the semi-precious stone that is infused within the product.  Crystal healing has always been around, and has been hailed by many spiritualists and practitioners to be a method for which any complaint can be addressed.  The belief is that due to crystals repeating structures, the stone is able to 'resonate' at the same pitch as humans and retain a sort of memory.  In other words, they can absorb specific powers or energies that are put into them.  

"Amber is a semiprecious stone formed from the resin of fossilized trees. Revered for its healing properties, Amber stimulates circulation and the overall function of skin cells thanks to high constituents of succinic acid. Succinic acid is a powerful antioxidant and antimicrobial that helps fight toxic free radicals which cause stress on the skin such as redness, irritation, and premature aging."

Along with the crystal infused benefits, this body serum also has a ton of all natural goodness, including revitalizing rosehip seed oil, super powerhouse evening primrose, superfood spirulina, nutrient rich neem, anti-inflammatory sandalwood, collagen boosting calendula, and more!  All these botanicals work together to help cellular regeneration, skin detoxification, and overall hydration.

The scent is light but dreamy, and the oil itself is so luscious.  I love using this on my legs in particular, as it helps keep them smooth and glowing all summer long.  It is also really nice to use in the shower, as the steam then disperses all the gorgeous essential oils and extracts so you can breathe them in while also benefiting from their nourishing qualities. 

Ingredients: Safflower Seed Oil (Carthamus tinctorius)°°, Aloe Oil (Aloe barbadensis)°, Apricot Kernel Oil (Prunus armeniaca)°°, Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus amygdalus dulcis)°°, Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)°, Sunflower Vitamin E (Tocopherol)°°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°°, Evening Primrose Seed Oil (Oenothera biennis)°, Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa canina)°°, Neem Seed Oil (Melia azadirachta)°, Rosemary Leaf Extract (Rosmarinus officinalis)°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°, Spirulina Extract (Spirulina platensis)°, Capric Triglycerides (Fractionated Coconut Oil)°°, Amber Extract (Succinite Stone Resin)°°°, Calendula Flower (Calendula officinalis)°, Essential Oils of: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)°°, Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)°°, Sandalwood (Santalum album)°° --- ° Certified Organic  |  °° Non-GMO  |  °°° Wildcrafted

Citrine Sea is another winner in my books, as it is another super effective high quality multi-tasker like Siren Silk.  The Ayurvedic Exfoliating Potion can work as a cleanser, exfoliator, and mask, making this a great option for anyone looking for a true all-in-one skincare treat.

This scrub smells good enough to eat, and feels even better on the skin.  The salt has a really fine grain making it easy to use, gentler on the face, and great for buffing away dead cells.  The blend of tumeric, neem, mustard seed, vetiver, grapefruit, and Atlantic sea salt work in tandem to exfoliate, even skin tone, balance natural oils, and fight infection, all in one treatment.

"This blonde bombshell is a 3-in-1 Mask + Microdermabrasion Exfoliator + Cleanser that will bring warmth, purification, and balance to your skin. An Ayurvedic dream, Turmeric and Neem synergistically combine with Sea Salt Crystals and other lush botanicals while your senses take you to a far off sea reminiscent of citrine gemstones. Your skin will welcome the nourishment, conditioning, and healing power she provides as she softens your complexion, reduces breakouts, and evens skin tone. Her clean and welcoming scent of Grapefruit and Turmeric enlivens your skin care ritual, while leaving skin soft and renewed — truly refining and experiential."

Still need more enticing?  You can use this all over your body, not just on your face!  So if you want a pick me up for your legs or anywhere else that isn't quite ready for shorts or bikini weather, just pop this on and get ready to glow.

Ingredients: Atlantic Sea Salt (Sodium Chloride)°, Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia chinensis)°, Coconut Oil (Cocos nucifera)°, Shea Butter (Butyrospermum parkii)°, Neem Seed Oil (Melia azadirachta)°, Turmeric Root Powder (Curcuma longa)°, Mustard Seed Powder (Sinapis alba)°, Sunflower Vitamin E (Tocopherol)°°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°°, Rosemary Leaf Extract (Rosmarinus officinalis)°, Sunflower Seed Oil (Helianthus annuus)°, Grapefruit Essential Oil (Citrus paradisi)°, Vetiver Essential Oil (Chrysopogon zizanioides)°° ---- ° Certified Organic  |  °° Non-GMO

I adore every single one of these products from Earth Harbor Naturals, and from my experience so far I have to say that this is one green beauty brand that hits it out of the park on all counts.  The ingredients are wholesome and clean, the ethos behind the business is inspiring, the packaging is sleek and eye catching without threatening the environment, and every single product in the range lives up to the individual claims.  I have tried six of the fourteen items, and each was so well made and left my skin glowing.  My next product lined up on my wishlist from Earth Harbor Naturals is Sunstone, a hair reviving tonic, and La Sal, a mineralizing soap bar.  I expect nothing but perfection from those goodies as well! 

Have you tried out Earth Harbor Naturals yet??? I would love to hear what you thought if you have tested out this green beauty brand, and if you haven't then which product catches your eye the most?  

And if you are tempted to make your own order so you can experience the gorgeous formulas yourself, you can grab 20% off your first order by using code BEACHBABE20 -- or, if you want to sample the range you can grab your own kit for free by adding it to your cart and using code MERMAID at checkout!  Shell yeah!  If you order, let me know what you think of your skincare treats!

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Yesterday I was checking up on Twitter when I came across a post from Humblestuff that made me stop and really have a think: 

"Big 'eco' brands talk a lot about their fight against plastic waste, but continue to make you believe that you need to buy a wide variety of products. As far as we're concerned, less is more. Buy less. Clean more stuff. #wednesdaythoughts"

Why is there such a perceived notion that we need dozens of cleaning supplies?  Are they all really that different?  Is a kitchen floor cleaner AND a bathroom floor cleaner necessary?  I'm guessing the answer is probably not, since a quality product should be able to tackle both situations!

I have decided to invest in just three cleaning solutions - a multi-purpose spray, a washing up liquid, and soap nuts.  And in a few months I will be updating you eco-beauties how I got on!

For those of you wondering what to do for those tougher jobs that need a little extra oomph or even those that are a bit more delicate and need a gentler formula, well, there's a great plastic free and budget friendly answer that is so simple you might be surprised you didn't think of it sooner!  And to explain, today I'll be bringing you something a little bit different, and something that The ecoLogical has never done before.... A guest post!  

So without further ado, I'll let this eco-beauty introduce herself!

My name is Margaret and I am an owner of a small cleaning company which is based in London, UK. In my free time, I like to write articles related to cleaning, organizing, and eco.

When you clean your own home, you always want to use the best techniques and methods. However, you should be extremely cautious to what type of products you use! A lot of brands have multipurpose cleaning solutions or specialised ones, which unfortunately are mostly based on chemicals and toxins. While you clean, you leave some poisonous substances on the surfaces and that is definitely not the safest for you and your family! We are here to give you some tips on how to maintain your home and keep it perfectly clean by using all-natural methods!

The first thing I feel obligated to tell you, if you didn’t know it already, is to use lemon, vinegar, baking soda and salt for cleaning. These products can work miracles on different surfaces, and you will see it right after the first use!  Also, olive oil and a little bit of fresh air can do wonders!


Lemon are a great all natural cleaner. For example, it can be used to clean your microwave - simply put the juice in a cup inside the microwave for three minutes on a medium heat. Then wait for five minutes without opening the door so the steam works its magic. At the end, wipe the surfaces on the inside with a dry cloth and your microwave is perfectly clean!

Lemons can be also used to polish metal surfaces – just rub a slice over a certain item (works best on copper and silver), and you will easily spot the difference.


The uses of vinegar are also multiple. It can be used for cleaning windows, mirrors and other glassy surfaces, soaking your shower head overnight; for cleaning soap scum and hard water residue.  You can also you can use it in a mixture with water in equal portions to mop and scrub your floors

Vinegar and lemon juice can be combined and used to clean your home surfaces on a daily basis!

Baking Soda

If you want to make sure your toilet is regularly sanitised, then you should put a cup of baking soda in the bowel and leave it for sixty minutes. After that pour some white vinegar and wait another five minutes, then flush it and your toilet is freshly cleaned!

Also, baking soda is one of the best natural ways to get rid of unpleasant odors. If your gym/sport shoes have a bit of a character, simply put some baking soda and leave it overnight. On the next day, remove it and you will have no problems!


One very useful way to clean your sponges is with salt. If they are filled with bacteria, you aren’t cleaning anything! Fill a container with cold water and put a lot of salt in it. Rinse the sponges and then soak them in the salty mixture. Leave them for up to two hours. The process will make sure bacteria and germs are gone!

Another good use of salt is to mix it with some lime juice to remove rust. Leave the paste-like mixture on rusted areas for a few hours and then scrub to remove it.  Easy as that, and no harsh chemicals required!

Fresh Air

If you want to have a fresh and healthy home environment you need to forget about any type of store bought air fresheners. Some plants will do a much better job with freshening the air than fragrance filled canisters or plug ins. You can start with a simple spider plant.  This easy maintenance plant absorbs carbon monoxide, plus it can help decrease fatigue, the common cold, and anxiety. Other natural air fresheners are lemons, spices and flowers – these add a natural fresh scent to any room. It is also important to not forget opening the windows to let some fresh air come in, even on cold days. Just a few minutes can make a huge difference!

Olive oil

Most people purchase wooden furniture, because they find it more beautiful. The common practice is to use an aerosol style product to polish the furniture, but these are filled with unnecessary nasties. One very natural way to polish wooden furniture and items is to use olive oil.  A few drops of the oil on a cotton cloth are how you will achieve the perfect look for your wooden furniture.

Okay, so now you know about all the essentials, but what else can you do with these everyday all natural ingredients?  Turns out, a whole lot!

Laundry Detergent

For safe and colour-preserving washing of your clothes, you can make your own laundry detergent. Purchase borax and mix it with baking soda in equal portions. Add a grated bar of soap (you can use castile soap, or any other gentle vegan soap) and you have your own laundry detergent!

Plus, to preserve the colours of your clothes, you can add a half cup of vinegar (preferably white) to the rinse-cycle at the end.  This will also help soften the fabrics!


To make sure your mattresses are clean and disinfected, you should cover them in baking soda and leave them this way for a few hours.  The baking soda works to absorb any unpleasant smells, sort out any bacteria, and freshen up the material.  After it has been left to work for a while, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the soda, and voila, your mattress is as fresh as new!

Dishwasher tablets

You can easily make dishwasher tablets with: 2 cups of borax; ½ of coarse salt; 2 cups baking soda; ½ cup of vinegar and 15 drops of lemon essential oil. After you mix well the ingredients, put them in ice cube trays and leave them to air dry for not less than 24 hours. When they are completely dry, place them in an airtight container and use one tablet per dishwashing cycle.

And there you have it - everything you need to keep your house clean and healthy without any synthetic or toxic chemicals!  It is so simple to have a cleaner, toxins-free and chemicals-free safe home environment with these natural products!  Have you tried any of these methods out before?  Have any other tips to share?  Let me know down in the comments below!

Kind regards,

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Herbivore Botanicals is a US based green beauty brand that is cruelty free, vegan, and free from nasties.  Their products use plant-based food-grade cold-pressed oils, steam distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils, and GMO free soy wax, and as an added bonus all their packaging is recyclable and reusable.  While their main focus is on effective skincare formulas, Herbivore also produces luxurious bath treats and beauty tools, making this a business that checks all the boxes for me.  So of course I had to take this visit to my family in WNY as an opportunity to test out their range!

I ordered a few goodies online so they would be waiting for me when I arrived, but also had an added surprise -- when we were all in NYC a week ago we popped into one of the latest stockists of Herbivore: Sephora.  While the shop didn't carry the full range (boo!), they did have some of the 'favourites' in the Up and Coming section of the store.  Along with the goodies I actually ended up picking out, I got to test out the newly launched Prism Glow Potion and the Lapis Oil, plus check out the Moon Fruit Superfruit Night Treatment.  Score!!

The Prism Glow Potion was shockingly light -- it felt like silk when applying, and it sank into my skin so quickly (but not in a way that made me think it wasn't working effectively!).  The bottle warned about a light tingling sensation which I was worried about since I do have slightly sensitive skin, but it didn't irritate me at all.  The potion is meant to help improve skin tone, soothe redness, plump up dull and tired looking skin, and clarify, all thanks to the natural fruit acid 5%.  I really am kicking myself for not buying this, as I have since looked at all the reviews and it sounds brilliant!  Ahh, next time.

I will say that I am happy I got to test out the Lapis Oil, as it definitely isn't suited to my skin type, or at least not quite yet.  The blue tansy oil is exquisite, but it is too heavy for my combination skin and I could tell straight away I would probably end up with some spots with regular use.  This would be perfect for anyone looking to protect against age lines, hydrate dry skin, or calm conditions like psoriasis.  For me though, I think Phoenix would be more suited.

Perhaps the product that intrigued me the most in Sephora was the Moon Fruit night treatment.  This stuff is bold, and I don't just mean in terms of the claims it makes -- it is bright purple!! Like, vivid rave-shade purple.  There are three colourings in this which give it its distinct look: indigo powder, ultramarine blue, and manganese violet.  I personally would rather a plain and simple cream and would choose to go without any added pigments, but I will say it sure is eye catching.  I didn't actually rub this into my face since we had to be out and about all day and it was super humid outside, but I tested on my hand and my first thoughts are that the formula is really rich and hydrating without feeling too heavy, but is a little hard to rub fully in.  I may end up buying this in the future, as the reviews make it sound fab, but this time I did have to pass it up just to be sensible about my shopping.

But what did I actually end up buying??  Well.......

You probably already saw some of it over on Insta, but I grabbed two Calm Soaking Salts, one Detox Dead Sea Soaking Salts, the Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water, and the Sea Mist spray!  I could have spent an absolute fortune if I had actually purchased every item that was in my cart, but I decided to be responsible and only get a handful of treats to start with.  I will say I have been totally over the moon with all four items, and if the quality of these (plus the three products I tried in Sephora!) is anything to go by, then I think it is safe to say the rest of the range is just as wonderful.

Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water: This facial spray is slightly different from the ones I usually reach for, as the base is aloe and coconut rather than floral.  From my experience using this bottle, these give the water more hydrating properties than a standard rose hydrosol, but the formula is still light and refreshing.  The smell is still gorgeously sweet, though there is a slight hint of antiseptic due to the added witch hazel, but overall I get just a light fragrance of rose and hibiscus.  And unlike other coconut based skincare products, this water does not leave my combination skin spotting out at all.  If anything, it helps keep it clear!  I think this facial spritz is most suited for summer, as it keeps your skin hydrated without the need of heavy creams that can congest your skin during the hot and humid weather.  I definitely want to get a larger bottle next time I order!

Ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Flower Water, Leuconostoc / (Leucidal) Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Hibiscus Sabdariffa Flower Extract, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Water, Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, Coccinia Indica Fruit Extract (Neer Sikkappu Red)

Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray (Coconut): I don't often use hair styling products as I usually just let my hair go and do its own thing, but every now and again I like a good salt spray.  I have used JMO's texturizing spray, but found myself wondering why I couldn't just bottle up some sea water on my next trip to Great Yarmouth instead of paying for a full bottle.  Well, I had no such questions when it came to this little spray.  Herbivore have created an item that is a fusion between a hair perfume and hair spray -- the formula is light and doesn't leave my hair feeling dry at all thanks to the aloe and coconut, and it smells so nice compared to other salt spritzes!  It helps my hair keep its natural waves all day without leaving it crispy at all, and even gives a healthy shine without looking oily.  Definitely a winner!

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Water (Aloe Water), Sodium Chloride (Pacific Sea Salt), Leuconostoc / (Leucidal) Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Coconut Pulp Co2, Vanilla planifolia Extract, Citrus aurantifolia (Lime) Essential Oil

Calm Soaking Salts:  I love the scent of these SO much that I ended up buying a second jar almost immediately!  The blend of ylang ylang and vanilla is seriously perfection; I can't get enough of it!  And even better is how it feels and works on your skin -- the clay helps gently detox your body while you relax and breathe in the soothing essential oil vapours, and the soak leaves your skin clean and clear.  This blend is delicate and luxurious with a touch of romance, and I love that the salt grain is larger than most bath salts as this means you can use less product and make the jar last longer.  100% worth the money, and I kind of hope Herbivore come out with even more variety since they've smashed this out of the park.

Ingredients: Sodium Chloride (Pacific Sea Salt), Sodium Chloride (Himalayan Pink Salt), Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang) Essential Oil, Vanilla planifolia Extract, Kaolin (French Pink Clay)

Detox Soaking Salts: Unlike the gentle fragrance from Calm, Detox will most definitely clear your skin and your senses, as it is a much more in your face due to blue clay and eucalyptus.  The scent is strong and not entirely pleasant at first, but luckily the scent is offset by fragrant lavender, making this an earthy option that still has a bit of dreaminess to it once in the bath.  This blend is ideal for a morning or mid-day soak, as it is super refreshing and invigorating.  I also find it perfect if you have a headache or cold, as it really helps relieve tension.  Will I be picking up a second jar of these bath salts as well?  Honestly, I think I will, as I love the grain of the salt and the aromatherapy benefits of the blend so much.  Once you get used to the smell, Detox is actually pretty relaxing!

Ingredients: Sodium Chloride (Pacific Sea Salt), Montmorillonite (Cambrian Blue Clay), Eucalyptus globulus (Eucalyptus) Essential Oil, Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Essential Oil

What's up next for me?  The Rose Quartz Body Oil and the Brighten Pineapple + Gemstone Mask are at the very top of my wishlist.  They both look and sound totally gorgeous, and I think my skin will really get on with both formulas.  If anyone uses my links down below, maybe I can even check these two out sooner rather than later -- then I can share my full thoughts on those with all you eco-lovelies too!

And what is on your Herbivore Botanicals must try list??  Let me know which you are mooning over, or what treats you have tested from the range already -- I love seeing what you all think!

Ready to shop?  You can pick up your very own green goodies from Herbivore Botanicals direct from the brand if you live in the US, or from Space NK if you live in the UK.  You can even grab 20% off your first USA order here, or £10 off your first Space.NK purchase here.  What a way to grab even more all natural loveliness for less!

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

I know I usually give loads and loads of details about all my empties each month, but since I am away at the moment and my jetlag still doesn't seem to have gotten better, July's post is going to be a little shorter than usual.  Don't worry though, you will still get all the usual information including sizes, star products, and what I wasn't so keen on after all!

July was a slower month for products I found, as my skin wasn't wanting quite as much.  I had to go for lighter formulas, plus I was trying to use up some goodies that had been in my cupboards for a bit too long.  Most of my items last month were full size (11), and I only had two sachets and two deluxe samples -- plus I finally finished up another face oil which is always exciting since they last ages!!

In total, I used up 15 products, and all the packing was recyclable except the sample sachet packets.

RawGanic (Aloe Vera) (25 wipes x2): I have said it before and I will say it again -- I adore RawGanic's facial wipes.  I have got several packs in subscription boxes (Pip Box, The Natural Beauty Box, The Cruelty Free Beauty Box) as well as purchased on my own, and I have used at least 5 of these since discovering the brand.  They are perfect for travel, on the go, or those times when you just don't have the energy for a full in depth skincare routine.  The material is plastic free and is made from 100% cotton, and the formula is super gentle and effective.  Will continue to use, and highly recommend!

Balance Me Super Moisturising Hand Cream (50ml): Heads up -- this isn't vegan.  I know many of Balance Me products are vegan, so I was kind of surprised when I found out this one wasn't.  That being said, I didn't love this product.  The cream left my hands feeling a little congested since the formula is so thick and heavy, plus the sheer amount of fragrance in it is offputting.  It has an almost chemical smell compared to other natural products, and is so in your face it leaves you wishing you had just skipped the treatment altogether.  I ended up having to use this on my legs instead, where at least I could mask the scent by putting leggings on after the cream finally sank in.  Will be skipping this in the future, and would not recommend (though BM does have some lovely items in their range!).

Balm Balm Neroli Hydrosol (100ml): Very sad this is gone, as it is such a lovely floral water.  The smell is uplifting and perfect for a calming pick me up just like their rosewater (I mean, did you see my wellbeing post??), plus I love that these come in glass bottles.  The nozzles are still plastic, but it is much better than some of the other floral waters I've tried in the past which are totally plastic.  And luckily these full sizes from Balm Balm are really cheap, so I will be buying another as soon as I can find a stockist (as this variety seems to be gone from LL).

Balm Balm Chamomile Water (100ml): Again, love this stuff!  Balm Balm makes really great floral waters (well, their Frankincense gets some getting used to, but other than that...) and the chamomile one is perfect for nighttime use.  The scent is calming and relaxing, so actually makes a good pillow mist as well as a toner/facial spritz. Plus, the water is great for irritated or itchy skin so is fab for summertime.  Can't wait to get another bottle.

Mia & Dom Aroma Candle (30ml): I really liked this candle, but I do wish it lasted longer.  It gave a few evenings worth of burn time, though I will say we leave them going for quite some time.  The smell is lovely and makes the whole room smell of roman chamomile and lavender.  Brilliant for unwinding at the end of the day and for de-stressing before bedtime.  I have one more of these, but after that one is gone I will have to check and see if I can find another easily.

Glossworks Cuticle Oil (9ml): Probably one of the best nail oils I have used so far, and definitely one of the more affordable options out there.  The bottle is pretty small, but it lasts absolute ages.  I tend to put some on the bed of my nail and rub it in, plus a drop under each nail just so it can soak in and work its magic even more effectively.  I already have two more bottles of this that I have bought, so I am well stocked for the foreseeable future!

Human & Kind Hand+Elbow+Foot Cream (50ml): I did actually like this cream a lot, so I am not sure why it took me so long to use.  I got this months and months ago (I think from The Cruelty Free Beauty Box's October 2017 edit), and even though the tube is pretty small at 50ml, the formula is really rich and nourishing so you don't need to use that much.  I mainly applied to my feet, and locked in the moisture with my foot socks, and found this really effective.  It helped heal any cracks or sore spots, and kept my heels manageable.  I would get another tube in the future possibly, but at the moment I am prioritizing plastic free options so might not get back to this for a long while.

Terre Verdi NeroliPom Moisturizer (5ml): I absolutely ADORE this moisturizer, and it actually might be my all-time favourite so far.  The formula is lightweight but still so nourishing, and I find it is suitable for my skin year round -- even in the heatwave we have all been having! 100% natural, 81% organic, vegan, cruelty free, Soil Association certified, and jam packed with antioxidant goodness, this moisturizer is most definitely on my keep list.  It has a really lightly fruity scent (not overly sweet, not sickly floral -- seriously perfect!), and sinks into the skin almost immediately.  My face is sensitive to changes, but this was so gentle that I didn't suffer from my usual 'I switched products' breakout.  Once I have made my way through my collection of creams, this is first on my list to buy a full size of -- and hopefully I can try out more of the range soon too! 

MOA Aphrodite Facial Oil (30ml): You all know I love MOA, so it probably isn't a huge surprise that I also adore this facial oil.  Aphrodite has a light marshmallow and rose scent, and is packed full of nourishing and calming ingredients that can help smooth fine lines, combat early aging, regenerate the skin, help with blemishes and redness, help fight dryness, and even skin tone.  My only complaint about this oil is that after a while the rubber stopper started to pop out and I would have to try to fix it back together.  The product itself is gorgeous though, so I was okay with this.  I hope to get another bottle at some point, but you all know how huge my facial oil collection is!  

Kiss the Moon GLOW After Dark Face Oil (1ml): This product really suited day or night use thanks to the uplifting aroma and the lack of 'oily' finish.  The oil seemed to sink into my skin quickly (probably because it is not necessarily geared towards mature skin), and it felt nourishing without being heavy which is exactly what I look for in face products. I really enjoyed this oil, and I think I will need to invest in a full size at some point. 

Joik Relaxing Bath Salts (500g): This is a huge container, so the salts lasted me many months which is amazing considering the price.  The lavender essential oils that are infused in are dreamy, and make this the perfect late night soak.  I love that these are an effective budget option that are still all natural and Ecocert.  My only wish is that the packaging was not plastic -- a simple switch to glass would have me buying these whenever I ran out!

Aromatherapy Associates Light Relax Bath & Shower Oil (55ml): I have so many AA oils as I went into my 'all of the things' mindset that I sometimes fall into once finding one product I like.  I had discovered the tonic and cleanser, both of which I had never used before in my life, and then decided I needed everything they made.  The one we just finished is Light Relax, and while there are some things I love about it,  I'm also unsure about these oils for two reasons: cruelty free status and hydration quality.  While the smell itself is powerful and everything I want from a relaxing bath oil, the hydration my skin got was a little lacking.  I found myself still having to put on a body cream afterwards, or adding a small amount of carrier oil to the bath after the fact.  For the price tag, this is not something I should have to do.  Plus, AA's cruelty free status are currently under question, so this is one brand I won't be buying from again (at least until all is resolved/answered).

Balm Balm Rose Geranium Lip Balm (7ml): I grabbed the rose geranium lip balm pot from Balm Balm during the last Love Lula sale, and was just hoping to fix the damage done from a previous balm.  What I wasn't expecting was for my lips to be completely healed overnight, and for them to be more hydrated than they previously had been!  This stuff is a miracle worker, so I ended up buying the tube for convenience when out and about.  I do think I will stick to the pot as the oils in this ended up getting a little separated for some reason, plus I think Balm Balm might be switching their pot to glass packaging soon, and that is so much better than wasteful plastic!

AA Skincare Lavender & Tea Tree Cleansing Face Gel (4ml): I liked this a lot, especially the smell which was soothing and a bit antiseptic.  I was worried the essential oils would not get on well with my face, but it was really gentle and didn't cause any problems.  The gel spreads easily and feels cooling on the skin, and when I rinsed it off my face felt super refreshed and clean.  One of the best things about this product?  Price -- the full 100ml size is under a tenner!

My favourite for July?  It's a tough call, but I think I would have to go for MOA's Aphrodite facial oil and of course the gorgeous Terre Verdi NeroliPom moisturizer -- both are seriously next level and were so good for my skin.  I will be repurchasing/purchasing full sizes of both in the future as they are just too great to resist for long!

As for my 'skip it' items, I would have to say Balance Me's hand cream, and not just because it isn't vegan.  The cream was much too fragrant, didn't feel very nice when applied, and just wasn't what I wanted or needed from a product like this.  It doesn't help that I have started using Kiss the Moon's award winning hand cream which is like a spa treatment in comparison!

Are there any products I finished up that you have been trying or have been eyeing up?  I would love to read what your empties were for last month -- let me know in the comments!

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