What You’re Doing This Weekend

These are Working for Your Weekend

Have some free time this weekend? Feel like doing some reading/learning? Boy, do I have stuff you are going to love!

Do you love to read as much as I do? If I could figure out how to make a living off of reading or taking online courses…life made.

Since I have not yet figured that out, I do so in my spare time. And I’ve got a hunch you do too. So I want to let you in on some super good stuff you can check out over the weekend.

Big Magic :: Ok, if you did not get your sweaty little hands on a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book yet, Do. So. Pronto. Big Magic is a quick, enlightening read that’ll have you kicking if onlys and what ifs to the curb, and calling up your inspo like the creative beast you are. Gilbert (in her talking-to-your-bestie-over-coffee manner) not only gives you permission to take time to do the things you love, but absolutely insists on it as a means to a meaningful existence. You are soooo ready for this.

James Patterson Teaches Writing :: You know. The #1 New York Times Best Selling, award winning, American author of books for children, teens, and adults? Yeah, that guy. James has a fiction writing course on Masterclass.com, called James Patterson Teaches Writing, that’s gonna knock the socks off your writer’s block. He offers up 22 lessons on everything from creating characters and plot line, to firing up your passion for writing and marketing your work. I bought this baby yesterday and cannot wait to get started. Want to do it with me? It’s only $90 and just the videos of this cute, funny, relatable author are worth the price alone. Another reason I know it will be good? A personal recommendation by my copywriting hero, Ash Ambirge.

Anything Ash :: Speaking of… if you are a copywriter of anything and think you need help with your business, writing, whatever (and even if you believe you have the whole thing handled), look at Ash’s offerings. I’ve taken two of her courses, (both unbelievably helpful and I will share more details on soon) and purchased her products. Get on over there now and gift yourself some help with writing, marketing, graphics, or just some handy sentences to help you out with daily life stuff.

There you go. Now have a bitchin’ weekend!

Image :: Marie-Sophie Tékian at Unsplash.com

Product Love :: Beauty Beauties

 

PrettiesZoom

Product reviews. Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Don’t really care about ‘em?

I used to love to write product reviews. My passion for beauty products and writing all swirled into one happy place? Dream come true!

Lately I’ve been spending more time writing on organic beauty business ideas and strategies, and the real how-tos and what’s-ups of organic beauty and wellness. Yes, lots of products too. But reviews? Not as much.

So that is why it has taken me so long to get around to these two products I’ve had sitting around for a while. It is not that I don’t love them (because I only review products I truly like for myself or feel others would super duper benefit from), it’s just that reviews have sorta been on the back burner.

Anyway…the thing about these two beauties is…they are actual beauties. Inside and out. As in, the packaging is as pretty as the product. So while they have not yet appeared here on the blog, they have been a constant presence in my bathroom.

What are these two lovelies? One is a beautiful bottle of fabulously scented, highest quality oils by the stellar Kypris. This is a high end oil that acts like, well, a high end oil. This dream in a bottle was offered to me all tied up in a giftie navy blue bow. Product experience, anyone?

The other product (or products, actually) are not at the organic beauty royalty level of Kypris, but definitely deserve a serious turn of the head. I’d not heard of Formulary 55 when they were offered to me, but I am so glad I accepted them. These packets of face and body powders in mask/scrub form made my skin so unbelievably soft. For real!

Both of these exquisite beauty items make for some serious eye candy. Which got me to wondering…how much of our buying experience hinges on product appearance and packaging? There are always those must haves that could come in the least attractive bottle and we’d still buy them. But when we are talking expensive, luxury or specialty products, don’t we kind of need some experience to go along with them?

It’s like going to get a massage or spa treatment. This is a luxury, right? A treat. If the place is drab, rundown or otherwise unappealing the massage won’t seem like as much of a treat. It may not even be worth it.

So, there is something to this whole visual appeal thing, which led me to write a recent article for Domino.com on products that give good shelf esteem. This whole idea got my wheels spinning and I started asking around – How important is product packaging to you? And, not surprisingly, it is pretty dang important to most people. Women and men alike admit to putting a lot of importance on the way an item looks when buying.

Both Kypris and Formulary 55 outdo themselves on quality and aesthetics. Worthy of your skin and vanity/bathroom shelf.

List Love :: Autumn Adoration

List Love :: Fall Fancies

Change of seasons always leaves me hankering for new stuff. New beauty stuff, new home stuff, new closet stuff. Here’s what’s on my list for fall…

RMS Beauty has come out with…wait for it…nail polish! How exciting is that? And it gets better. Each polish shade matches up to one of their makeup colors. Living Luminizer in a polish? *swoon* Of course, they are 5-free.

One of these headbands from Domino.com would also make a pretty cool bracelet.

And how about this adorable little duffle?

My white faux sheepskin obsession has branched off into a black faux sheepskin obsession. So. Dang. Cool.

This Aster + Bay Glow Body Serum is said to make skin glow, slow aging, and smell like jasmine? I’m in. Update: It looks like the Aster + Bay Body Serum is no longer available, but I love this one just as much:)

That’s it for now. What’s on your shopping/wish list for fall?

Ingredient Listings Decoded (A Handy Cheat Sheet)

Ingredient Listings Decoded (A Handy Cheat Sheet)

A couple weeks ago in Shop Talk we covered why complete ingredient listings are the most important words on any decent organic beauty shop’s site. Finding out exactly what is in a product is the only way to truly know if it is safe before you buy.

You know how you’ll go to an online shop who is doing a great job of making themselves and the products they carry look green? No this, no that, all natural … Then you go to the page of an interesting looking product. Sounds good, looks good, let’s take a peek at what’s in this pretty little beauty.

And there it is. Or shall we say, there it isn’t. No ingredient listing to be found. Or maybe it has one of those key ingredient listings. You know, where they list all of the natural-ish ingredients in the product but don’t give up a full ingredient listing.

Guess why they may be doing this? It usually is not in the name of being more concise. Both of these scenarios are red flags. Even the one that lists those wholesome sounding key ingredients.

You’ve been around the block enough times now to know that just because a product contains a few natural ingredients, doesn’t mean it is free from toxic ingredients. And the good old none-of-this-or-that-disclosure you see on sites? Forget those and get straight to the nitty gritty, the ever important ingredient listing.

Ok, so you shop places that list everything in every product they carry. Yay! Dazed and confused once you are faced with deciphering this mess of words? Even some natural ingredients sound not so natural?

I’m going to arm you with a powerful tool. An ingredient decoding cheat sheet. This will help you to differentiate healthy ingredients from nasty ones on the fly.

Ingredient List Decoder

1 :: Check the first 5 ingredients. These ingredients make up the majority of the product. Like food, cosmetic product ingredients are listed in order of concentration, from greatest to least. So if a product is comprised mostly of water, it will be the first ingredient on the list, and so on. Synthetic emollients and harsh foaming agents hang out here. Use my Ingredients to Avoid list for help.

2 :: Check the last 5 ingredients. These may be used in lesser amounts but the end of an ingredient listing is where you will usually find fragrance and preservatives.

3 :: If you’ve made it this far, fairly safe to say you have a safe product. Now scan those ingredients in the middle of the listing, if there are any, to see if anything comes up dirty.

4 :: Not sure on an ingredient name? Many brands follow the European INCI ingredient listings, using Latin names for ingredients. Check the INCI listing here.

5 :: Wondering whether or not the ingredients are organic? Organic ingredients are often marked with an asterisk. “100% Organic” means a product contains only organically produced ingredients, “Certified Organic” means the product is made of at least 95% organically produced ingredients, “Made with Organic Ingredients” means the product contains at least 70% organically produced ingredients.

So there’s some help in decoding those pesky ingredient listings. Have more questions? Ask away!

Shop Talk :: Image Improvement

Shop Talk :: Image Bonanza

So you’ve written up a sweet little post for your blog. It is chock full o’ helpful info and juicy knowledge. You’ve linked to other useful articles, resources, and products. Now all you need to finish this baby up and make it completely irresistible is … the dreaded image.

You’ve heard images are supposed to be highly focused, tell a bit about your post, and entice readers to click, right? And for good reason. The perfect image is not only good looking, it is the lead in to your article. So, why are you having so much trouble getting the hang of this whole picture thing?

Don’t worry. Any blogger who is not a photographer has had image issues. You have to make sure you are using those with a sharable license so you won’t get into any copyright trouble, but also want them to look great and make sense with your posts.

This can be tricky. There have been times when it’s taken me longer to find the appropriate image than it did to write the post. Many times. For a while there I even resorted to creating my own text “images” to avoid the whole hunt. Nasty example can be viewed here.

Bottom line is, if you are taking the time to write a worthwhile post it must be accompanied by a worthwhile image. Anything less is like wearing a brand new, beautiful outfit with old, doggy shoes from high school.

You have a couple of options here. Either use images from royalty free image sites or take your own. And I promise, you definitely do not need to be a pro photog to take great pics. I finally did some investigating prior to launching my latest blog design and it was well worth the time.

ImageSetUp

Here’s how I take the images I use on my blog. I use two white poster boards for a blank background and to reflect light, and set it up right by a window for natural light. I set up by my back door because all of the windows in my home are paned, and that makes for some funky shots. Natural light always looks so much better than artificial, even on a cloudy day. You can always brighten your image up with a filter. That info coming up next.

GoldStuffOriginal

What camera am I using? My iPhone. I have a big fancy Nikon and like the pictures my phone takes better for the blog. Plus, it is so much easier to use. Once I have a pic I like, I run it through a filter app. Pic Tap Go is super easy and I think only cost me a few bucks. I use Lights On filter because I like my images bright. You can see that my shot was not very bright before I ran it through the filter app. For quick and simple online editing, try PicMonkey.com.

An important note: We are talking about blog photos. Product shots for online shops should be taken by a professional or ask for high res shots from the brand.

I also use images from free image sites from time to time. My faves are Unsplash.com and Morguefile.com for gorgeous photography that really shouldn’t be free. When going this route be sure you credit the photographer and site you grabbed the pic from at the bottom of your post.

That’s it. Not hard or scary at all. Added bonus is, you can use these pics on your Instagram too. No excuse not to have a picture perfect blog.

Rise + Shine :: How to Look More Awake

Rise + Shine :: How to Look More Awake

Here’s the deal. Sometimes your eyes look tired. Even after a restful weekend. Even when you’ve been doing your daily meditation. Even when you’ve eaten your organic fruits and veggies like a little champ.

Sometimes your peepers just need a bit of help to pop.

And that’s ok, because guess what? There are products built to do just that. Check it out…

Nothing creates instant awake-ness like a white liner. Line lower rims of eyes and lash line with Benecos Natural Eyeliner in White and you will be amazed at how alert and raring to go you look. This little trick may be all you need.

But if it’s not, this one will definitely get the job done. You know that luminizer you are such a fan of? Did you know it can be used places other than cheeks? Use it as an under eye concealer, or patted over your usual concealer, to brighten this area and reflect light. Promise you won’t hate this. I, like the rest of world, am in love with RMS Living Luminizer.

Your eye shadow could be working against you. To play up bright eyes go for peachy, sandy, or cream colors. Good choices are Kjaer Weis Eye Shadow in Cloud Nine, W3LL People Elitist Shimmer Mineral Shadow in Gold Twinkle, and RMS Beauty Eye Polish in Lunar.

Brows not on fleek? Those unkempt caterpillars hovering over your beautiful eyes may be causing a disheveled look. Get groomed to perfection with this easy how to tutorial.

Image :: julia caesar at Unsplash.com

Shop Talk :: The Most Important Words On Your Site

Shop Talk :: The Most Important Words On Your Site

What are the most important words on any organic beauty store’s site? Any guesses?

More important than product descriptions. More than expert notations. Possibly even more than product reviews.

Ingredient listings.

Like, complete product ingredient listings. The full meal deal.

Know why? Because it is the only true way to tell what is in a product and if it is safe.

Have you ever been to an online shop and found lots of great looking products, all advertised as clean? But alas, no ingredient listings. You search their About page, their ingredient commitment. Still, the fact that you can’t find out what exactly is in this product you’d really like to push the Buy Now button on is bugging you.

You Google the product to see if you can find the ingredients on another site. C’mon, you know you’ve done it. You spend several more minutes on this product than you feel it warrants. You start to get frustrated because you just want to know what’s. in. the. dang. product.

Right there. That’s a customer’s red flag to click the heck out of your site, away from your shop for good.

People selling safe, nontoxic cosmetics aren’t afraid to tell you what’s in them. Even more, they actually want you to know what they are made of. So they tell you. In the form of complete ingredient listings on every single product page.

For organic beauty shoppers in the know (and make no mistake, the majority are savvy these days) this no listing thing is a deal breaker. An almost sure way to tell if someone is being a little less than honest about the safety of the products they sell.

So do your customers and yourself one huge, big, fat favor. List ingredients on your site. It’s a copy and paste thing that is super important to your business and the faith your potential customers put in you. Have your intern set aside a day to get this done or peel your teenage son out from behind his Xbox for the weekend and pay him to do it. You won’t be sorry.

Image :: timothy muza at Unsplash

Spotlight On :: Hand Sanitizer

HandSanitizer

I recently had a short stay in the hospital. While I was there, a nurse asked what I do. I vaguely remember telling her that I write about organic beauty and wellness through the gas induced fog. What I thought was just a way to keep me talking while I passed out apparently resonated with this nurse.

Once I came to, she had questions for me. In particular, what I thought of the hand sanitizer these hard working gals and guys use every day, countless times.

This health savvy nurse was concerned about the alcohol and other nasty ingredients in the sanitizer. Since hospital personnel all use that squirty foam each time they enter a room, that is huge daily exposure. And you know what we organic beauty advocates like to say about exposure.

While it sucks that these professionals pretty much have to use this chemical cocktail in such large quantities, it is good to hear that some of them are thinking about it and looking for ways to use healthier products.

So, how bad is conventional hand sanitizer? Let us take a look…

Alcohol is the main ingredient in most hand sanitizers. No surprise there.

Yes, it is drying and can be too harsh for most skin types. Definitely not an ingredient to be overused. But what about its safety? As in, does it cause DNA damage, cancer, birth defects or any of the other major health concerns we worry about?

There are different types of alcohol, but ethanol is the one commonly used in hand sanitizers and other personal care products, like spray deodorants and bug repellent. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is the same thing as drinking alcohol but, when used in cosmetics, is denatured (made undrinkable).

Ethanol has been found to act as a skin penetration enhancer. Meaning it allows other chemicals to more easily enter your body. So if there is a bunch of nasty junk in that hand sanitizer you are using, like synthetic emollients and fragrance, they are getting sent express mail into your system.

Then there is the contamination factor. Low quality and brands who are not committed to safety may be using ethanol that contains contaminants, which could cause damage when they enter the body and mix with other chemicals.

That is the shortened version of the potential detriments of using ethanol topically. This post would be a mile long if I went into full detail, so take a look at this study on topical use of ethanol for the full deets. Like the study says, the “very high use” of ethanol could cause toxic effects but in the case of hospital workers, benefits to patients greatly outweigh the risks.

The bottom line as I see it? Using a hand san that is made with the cleanest ingredients possible is the safest choice. Choose products made with ethanol that is organic and GMO free, and other natural ingredients. I would wager that hospital variety hand sanitizer contains triclosan, a heavy duty antibacterial that the rest of us do not need to use on a regular basis.

So, what to buy? I like EO Products Hand Sanitizers. These guys have been making hand san forever, have a giant selection, and their products smell dandy. Another I’ve been carrying around is The Honest Company Hand Sanitizer Spray, which you can pick up at Target.

Wish I had better news for nurses and hospital personnel. But hey, keep speaking up and asking questions! Let the industry know about your concerns. Maybe someday that foam will be made with cleaner ingredients.

List Love :: Body Serums

LLBodySerums

Can. Not. Believe. Summer is already over. That lasted a whole millisecond. Hope yours was fantastic!

While summer is my fave season. And I already miss it. I am excited to get back to writing more often. So, away we go.

I have been wanting to talk about body serums. Because face serums are so gosh darn awesome, a body serum has to be just as great. Only for the bod. Do you want to try them as badly as I do?

With no further ado, these delish serums for body have definitely been added to my shopping list…

One Love Organics Gardenia + Tea Antioxidant Body Serum :: For real? Gardenia + antioxidants + firmer, smoother skin? I want.

Kahina FEZ Body Serum :: Cuz everything Kahina is just so gosh darn great, this serum is a must try. Probs wont’ wait until Christmas to treat myself to a bottle of this. PS: I’ve heard very good things.

Bottega Organica Body Contour Formula -Peppermint and Chili Pepper :: Interesting, no? Not sure that my skin will love it, but I absolutely must find out.

Elizabeth Dehn for One Love Organics Vitamin C Body Oil :: This product is supposed to smell wonderful. But I am excited about the olive oil and papaya. Softening and smoothing at once.

Reconstructed: InStyle Best Beauty Buys Part VI

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Summer is such a blast. My absolute favorite time of year. Good for having lots of fun, hanging with the kids, eating yummy summery treats, chillin’ poolside, and mini golfing it up. And that’s just for starters. What it’s not so great for? Getting loads of writing done. Which is why it has taken me so long to get this much awaited and final installment of the InStyle Best Beauty Buys green makeover to you.

Natural hair care. I’m not gonna lie to ya, it’s the toughest part of going green in beauty. There’s plenty of high performance organic skincare. Body care too. Sunscreens have even come a long way, baby. But hair care? It seems to be the toughest row to hoe.

In the past, natural shampoos and conditioners have left hair limp, waxy, or straw like. And styling products? Even worse. This tress stress has left green gals in a lurch. No wonder so many are going the way of no ‘poo.

But there are hair care products out there, free from nasty ingredients, that perform like you want them to. Promise. You just have to know where to find them. Take a seat, put your feet up, and get ready to be pleasantly surprised by your nontoxic hair care options.

SHAMPOO + CONDITIONER

For Fine Hair Acure Organics Pure Mint + Echinacea Stem Cell contains quinoa protein extract and Echinacea stem cells to support keratin and cellular regeneration. More importantly, this stuff works! I have fine, dry hair and this is one of my favorite shampoo and conditioner combos. Smells great and is budget friendly too. Another line that I absolutely love is Rare El’ements. A luxurious shampoo and conditioner that acts like a high-end chemical brand without the harsh detergents or synthetics.

For Normal Hair Rahua is a natural hair care favorite amongst the green beauty crowd. These products are suitable for all hair types, even color treated.

For Curly Hair  Curly hair also tends toward dry and frizzy. John Masters Organics Evening Primrose Shampoo for dry hair will wrangle frizz, flyaways, and stray curls. Follow up with JMO Honey & Hibiscus Hair Reconstructor.

Big Gun Conditioner Hair overly processed? Looking damaged or aged? Otherwise dried out to a whispy version of its former self. You need Rare El’Ements Hair and Scalp Serum. You know how oil serums are the absolute bomb for restoring glow and health to sallow skin? That’s what this baby does for down in the dumps locks. Also great for warding off damage in the first place.

STYLING + COLOR

Volumizer Fine and thin haired gals are on the constant hunt for more volume. If you are a mousse kinda gal you’ll love Yarok Feed Your Roots Volume Enhancing Mousse. Love the body and natural wave your hair has after a day at the beach? Try John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender.

Hairspray Rahua Voluminous Hairspray adds body while keeping coif in place. The light hold means you can brush through it too, if you want.

Pomade Not that I have ever used much pomade, but if I was going to start…have to go with John Masters Organics Hair Pomade. Cuz that company knows hair and I just love mango butter.

Color  Oh gosh, the ultimate organic beauty question. What’s the safest way to color hair? There are a couple of ways to go about making your color job healthier. Yes, you can purchase less toxic hair colors which have received mixed reviews. Or you can use the toxic stuff as carefully as possible, which I’ve spelled out here. Unfortunately, there is no nontoxic way to achieve that traditional salon color. Sometimes a gal has to make beauty choices, ya know?

**Right here I have to stop you for a minute and interject my thoughts on InStyle’s “Eco-Friendly Line” choice. As you may have noticed I side stepped all the InStyle eco friendly picks throughout because, well, all of my picks are eco friendly. But I couldn’t go further without speaking up on this one. IS gives huge props to Aveda as an eco friendly line. I, of course, took a closer look. Aveda has lots of claims on the sustainability and safety of the ingredients they use. Hey, guess what they don’t have? Full ingredient listings for their products. And you know what I say about MIA ingredient listings, don’t cha? It’s your first red flag that a product or brand may not be quite as healthy as they say they are. Sadly, such is the case with this brand. Yes, it smells herbal-y and good. Yes, lots of people buy and use it. Yes, it has a green image. NO, it is not nontoxic, synthetic free, or what I would consider safe. And, moving right along.**

Volumizer for Dry Hair InStyle lists a spray here with polymers and proteins to lift and plump. But you know what dry hair really needs? That’s right, it needs moisture. My fave trick to add life to dry, lifeless locks is straight up avocado oil. Massage a palm full into scalp and work through to ends of hair. Wrap in a towel and leave for a good 15 minutes. Wash as usual. Seems unlikely that an oil would add oomph? Trust me on this weird one, it truly works!

Curl Definer To define curls and waves, add softness, and tone down frizz I love Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie. A little dab of this thick, tropical scented styling product will do ya.

Dry Shampoo The two most popular organic dry shampoos are Lulu Organics Hair Powder and One Love Organics Healthy Locks Dry Shampoo Powder. Go nuts.

Heat Protecting Spray Protect hair from heated styling tools while nourishing with Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave In.

Well, we made it to the end of the InStyle Best Beauty Buys green makeover. Yay! If you’d like anything else reconstructed in a green manner, please let me know. I’d be more than happy to help you out.