It’s 9:30 am on a snowy Saturday morning. I’m sat on my couch with a small cup of coffee and orange juice (in separate vessels mind!) with Christmas music playing…the perfect setting to reflect back on the year that’s been and share with you some of my favourite beauty discoveries of 2016.
I’m not one to do many ‘favourites posts’ and it’s been a while since I did a Nic’s Pic’n’Mix but there were quite a few new products and brands that I really fell in love with and I wanted to share them with you. Since my writing tends to take on a life of its own I thought I’d keep each product mention as succinct as I can and for products that I haven’t done a full review yet, those are in the pipeline where I go into more detail. In this post I’d simply like to share what I’ve loved and why. A little catch up if you like 😉
So let’s get tucked in. This brand is not new to me since I sing its praises whenever I can…you guessed it, Leahlani. Leah came out with a shiny new collection of products earlier in the year in time with her rebranding and what a beautiful transformation it was. You can read more about it here. She used to have creams for day and night which she replaced with two beautiful elixirs, Aloha Ambrosia and Mahina, the latter which I recently wrote about in this post. Leahlani is a skincare line that my skin just intuitively loves and I don’t think I’ve come across anything I haven’t liked. For me, the line ticks all my expectations when it comes to results, scents (oh the scents!), texture and experience. I’ve said before that this is my desert island skincare and I stand firmly behind that. A girl just likes to try other things once in a while 😉 But fickleness aside, you will always find the Mermaid mask and Bless in my ritual. I digress though since this post is about new discoveries – it’s almost impossible to narrow it down (and asking me to name just one is not going to happen!) so I would have to give Mahina, Kalima and Kokoleka an extra special mention. I’ve written about Kalima here and Kokoleka is still waiting for her turn…it’s coming! Why do I love Kokoleka? Because it’s a chocolate dessert for your face. No further explanations needed!
Next up are a few brands and products that I would never have tried if it weren’t for Beauty Heroes. I’d been a loyal subscriber since September 2015 and not jumping off once even when certain selections didn’t seem quite as enticing (although let’s be honest, how often does that happen!). In those instances I either gave or sold my box away because sharing is caring. I recently became a Brand Ambassador and I couldn’t be more delighted to join the Circle of Trust. 2016 saw a number of brands being re-featured such as Laurel Whole Plant Organics, Josh Rosebrook and Bottega Organica and others which was lovely as some of these I had missed before international shipping opened up (joyous day indeed!). My absolute favourites from the year seemed to come all at once during the summer months, starting with June and ending in August. June gave us the Emotive Make Up Collection with Modern Minerals and Lotus Wei, Beauty Heroes first make up box. Oh the cries of disappointment from many but this box went straight to this non-make up beauty lover’s heart (once my raised eyebrow went down because I’m a skincare lover first and foremost). You can read all about my gushing of this box here so I won’t sound like a broken record. Honestly so good though and I am now an avid Modern Minerals lip gloss fan – I presently carry 4 shades with me at all times! One can never have too many lip glosses especially when they make you feel so good.
On to July. I will readily admit I’ve been notoriously bad at including sunscreen in my skincare. I was also raised to worship the sun (oh the carefree 80s!) and even got scolded if I spent too much time indoors when the sun was out. So sunscreen has unfortunately had quite a steep mountain to climb, that is until Kari Gran’s Three Sixty Five SPF 28 Facial Serum arrived on the scene. Even if the sun has always been a friend in our family (and we all know the benefits of getting that vitamin D in safe doses), I’ve also been acutely aware that I should be protecting myself so I was very keen on seeing how this one would work for me. Up until 365 I hadn’t come across a natural one that I liked (granted I haven’t tried them all but certainly the most raved about ones) because they either made me dry out or I could feel its heaviness. No matter how much I know that sun protection is important, these two factors were stubbornly working against me. With Kari’s version I didn’t experience any of that and it’s a sunscreen that I actually look forward to using. Some people have claimed that it’s too oily for them and as such I would always recommend getting a sample. There is no universal product that will work wonders and be loved by everyone, there just isn’t and to believe so is to live in denial/ignorance. Know your skin, test samples and be aware that a product may not agree with you. As a blogger I realise that I can get carried away with my declarations of love for certain items but I am always speaking from one and the same starting point – myself. I feel I’m now veering off topic entirely but the moral is, know your skin and trust your own experience. And ask what skin type people have since that would be the common denominator even though diet and lifestyle play a vital role as well. Ok, totally coming off the subject of 2016 favourites so let’s focus! (Nic, focus!). Fav sunscreen? Kari Gran 365 SPF, in case anyone else was wondering what we were talking about! More can be read about it here.
June, July…August! Leo’s month featured Laurel’s Sun Damage Repair Serum and though this one has not been featured on its own just yet, I did a little Insta mini review of it here. I only just finished this golden liquid sunshine a few weeks ago and I believe it really added to my sun care protection this year. Sun spots didn’t quite dare do any lasting damage and hyper pigmentation from some pesky zits were taken care of effectively. This was my first foray into Laurel’s line (LONG overdue I might add) and it’s definitely left me wanting to try more. Just as soon as I finish up some more products in the next decade or so.
The above 3 brands and products were featured in the monthly Beauty Heroes boxes but I also found some favourites in their Seasonal Discoveries, actually in the two that have been released so far. The first one came out in October and featured the Instagram Filter For Your Face Serum by Vapour Organic Beauty (or the Stratus Soft Focus Skin Perfector as they insist on calling it). A universal shade in S904, this moisturising primer will suit most skin types and give you a glow that is just beautiful. If you’re curious to know my thoughts you can read all about them here. Again, I’ve heard from others that this product doesn’t quite agree with their skin type so my advice to you is sample, sample, sample! OR you can try it for a very reasonable price of $38/$45 (if you’re a Beauty Heroes member/non-member price) which is really good since Stratus alone usually retails for $54. There’s only a limited number of these seasonal boxes available so once they run out, that’s it. You also get a travel size of Vapour’s blush in Eros which is also a big favourite of mine and it’s the only colour I’ve been reaching for since September. Also included is a mini sample of their Clarity Organic Make Up remover. I loved this box so much that I got it as a Christmas present for my sister. It’s ok, she knows 😉
The other Seasonal Beauty Discovery that has stolen my heart is the GIVING IS BEAUTIFUL box, the 13th Beauty Discovery featuring Kahina Giving Beauty’s Moroccan Beldi Soap with accompanying kessa mitt, Essaouira Body Serum and perfume (travel and sample size resp). We’re talking luxury here, people! And creating a hammam experience in the comfort of my own home whenever I want it. This beautiful product deserves a write up of its own but the short version is that it’s a sensory experience unto itself. I love the unique texture of the soap (containing only two ingredients!), the scent (I went for Eucalyptus) and the amount of dead skin it gets rid of. No joke. It’s satisfyingly, erm, gunk-dispelling! Without going into detail, I was quite fascinated. And I’m a clean person, ok! This would make a gorgeous gift to yourself or to someone you love (in my case my mother) and you can presently make it yours for $38/$45 (member price/non-member price). Not only will this box make you feel good but it does good too because Jeannie Jarnot, the founder, has donated $1000 on behalf of all Beauty Heroes members to Education For All, a nonprofit organisation that provides education for girls from rural Moroccan communities. You can read more about it in this post. I have so much respect and admiration for Jeannie and all brands that are working so hard to improve the lives of others. Hero On!
Right, 1582 words so far! So much for keeping it short eh. Soon done though. The next mention goes to a mask that I’ve been loving by Biodara, namely the Crème de Clay Purifying Mask. Each time I use it I’m blown away by how clear, bright and “purified” my skin looks and feels. I only have a 15 ml sample that I received in a Boxwalla Beauty box that Lavanya, one of the Drunken Boxwallas, so kindly sent me to try. I say “only” but this will last you a while. News about town is that there is now a MATCHA version out! It has my name all over it (total matcha crazy over here) not to mention I need a full size of this mask in whatever shape or form it comes in. Ship it in I say! Note to self – longer review needed but not today.
Second to last favourite of 2016 is my new must-have at all times (I see HG status floating on the horizon), Earthwise Beauty’s Nap in the Meadow. A gorgeously effective aloe-based serum that is super light-weight yet intensely hydrating. Exactly what I was looking for to add to my ritual and Nap does it all. Hydrates and calms like nothing else, my skin soaks this right up. Best part is that it layers beautifully with my other products and is the backbone of moisture retention. I tested a sample out first (my skin hasn’t always agreed with the products I have tried from the EWB line) and when I ran out and was without for a few weeks I noticed a vast difference. It couldn’t come back into my life fast enough if you ask me and I was thrilled to find out that Eminessences made the very wise choice to carry the brand in their online store. No more expensive shipping fees for those of us living in Europe! Nap is a bit like comfort food, the one that makes your skin feel good and reassured every time. This short mention does it no justice at all so expect a more detailed review in 2017.
And lastly but certainly not least is the SEAS Elements Beauty Balm by Siam SEAS. What a forest-green beauty of a product. A balm that ceases to be a balm as soon as it gets in contact with your skin, it melts within nanoseconds to a luscious light oil/serum-like texture and sinks in just as quickly. What you’re left with is skin that is soft to the touch and nourished to what feels like the deeper layers of your skin. Winters in Sweden are mercilessly cold and dry, basically sucking all the moisture out of your skin so you’re left with parchment. If you’re not prepared that is 😉 I definitely need to add something that is cosseting during the winter (in the summers I can get by with just a face oil after cleansing) and Elements is the missing X factor. Swedish winters don’t stand a chance with the ritual I have perfected to keep my skin protected – I laugh in your face, Winter! After testing a sample of it I knew that I needed a full size at some point. Supadra, knowing this, reached out to Christelle of Divine Green Beauty who now stocks her line in Europe (yay!) and requested one to be sent to me…to say I was touched by their gesture is an utter understatement. Thank you again both! And on the topic of gratitude, it is thanks to Sarita Coren who even put Siam SEAS on my radar and introduced me to Supadra. The world is built up of wonderful connections like these and for that I am truly thankful. Just like with Nap in the Meadow, this brilliantly formulated product needs a separate post to give it the full attention it deserves, not to mention all the exotic ingredients that need to be highlighted. For another day because I do believe I am about to sign off one of the longest posts I have written!
What a year of beauty products. And though speaking about it like this may seem shallow and superficial to some I can say that all the products mentioned have given me much comfort and love at times when I really needed it most this year. When all I’ve wanted to do is hate myself, my body, the love and intention behind the products I use in my ritual have contributed greatly to maintaining the self-love and self-care that is important to our health. THIS is why I love green beauty, for the authenticity and earnestness that can be felt through each brand’s final product. They want us to slow down, to appreciate the moments we take to care for ourselves as a reminder that we’re all doing the best we can. A little softness and kindness goes a long way and this has been one of the greater lessons for me this year…to extend these to myself during moments when those feelings are being pushed aside by much louder, harsher and crueller ones. So a big thank you to Leah, Jeannie, Diane, Katie, Kari, Laurel, Krysia, Kristine, Katherine, Lavanya, Mimi, Ava, Emi, Christelle and Supadra for all that you do. You’re not just delivering beauty products, you are reaching out a hand and a hug where the expression of that is manifested through what you do. No mammoth of a conglomerate, no matter how successful, can ever compete with that.
To those still with me (!), did I mention any of your favourites? If not, what have you discovered and loved this year? Share with me in the comments!
Disclaimer: post contains affiliate links, more info here. All thoughts are my own and I only mention products that I absolutely adore and see long-term effects with regardless of affiliation.