Natural Beauty Q&A: Jovie of The Rex Apothecary


Meet Jovie Belisle. Here’s why she’s exactly as awesome as she looks: In addition to being the founder and crafter behind the herbal concoctions at Rex Apothecary, she’s also about to complete a two-year Holistic Health Practice program. To celebrate, she wants to do something even more awesome—she wants to travel the country in a 1978 Winnebago to prove to bring her natural products to the people! (While also offering a healthy dose of nutritional and herbal consulting alongside, natch.) I’m all about supporting my fellow natural believers, and I’m hoping she’ll make it from Portland (where she is) to Charlotte (where we are). But a little help would go a long way. She’s working to raise $2,200 by September 1 to take her show on the road. Check out her Indiegogo page or leave a comment on this post to cheer her on!

Read on for some insight into her natural beauty journey and why she thinks it would be a great idea to trek across the country with her dog and two cats in an elderly Winnebago. I love her beauty philosophy! So inspiring. —Aleigh

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Beauty Obsession: Agasaya

A woman extracts argan oil from the kernels of the argania tree.

A woman extracts argan oil from the kernels of the argania tree.

Before I ventured into natural and organic products, I had a big problem with greasy hair. I had to wash my hair every day—if I didn’t, it was a greasy, stringy mess that second day. The third day? Even worse. (Here’s how I made the switch.)

This previous history with oily hair made me a little tentative to try argan oil, even though I had read about its smoothing and frizz-calming abilities, which are especially attractive this time of year. Summertime means humidity and humidity means frizz. But. BUT! It’s not like you have to use argan oil on your hair. It’s also a great body oil, facial oil, base for a facial mask (you can also add a few drops to your regular facial mask), and softener/moisturizer for tough spots like your heels. And that’s basically the only reason I agreed to try it, because I have graduated from greasy hair and I never want to go back there, ever. (Spoiler alert: I tried it on my hair.)

The barbary fig seed oil was different. I’ve been intrigued by this magical little oil for ages. It’s pricey for a reason. It’s difficult to extract from its plant, the prickly pear cactus; each seed contains only a tiny amount of oil. It’s like liquid gold for your skin (and beneficial to all skin types), packed with Vitamin E. This oil has more of the vitamin than any other oil on the market, which makes it a lot more potent.

Agasaya Argan Oil

What I tried: Organic Argan Oil, $45, and Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil, $98

First impressions: First up, the argan oil. It’s a pale oil, a light yellow shade. I tried it on my feet overnight (covered with a pair of socks), and loved how it softened them up. I smoothed it on as a body oil post-shower, and although it’s a lot more lightweight than the body oil I’d been using, it still left my skin soft.

In contrast, the barbary fig seed oil is sort of green-tinted (it looks similar to olive oil), but with a very mild scent. (I’m starting to realize that I spend a lot of time describing the smell of every product I try.) It took me a few days to figure out what the smell reminds me of, but now I’ve got it: like a (pleasant) combination of fruit leather and sweet hay. I like how my skin really soaks it in quickly—but I did notice that I wanted more than the two or three drops recommended to smooth all over my face and neck.

Agasaya Barbary Fig Seed OilWhat caught me by surprise: In the future, I plan to use the barbary fig seed oil in a targeted way instead of all over my face. That way I can focus it on the areas that can really benefit from that extra Vitamin E (like around my eyes and lips), and smooth on another oil all over my face and neck.

Now for the argan oil: of course I had to try it on my hair, right? As it turns out, I’m glad I did. After a little trial and error, I figured out that just two teeny drops on my post-shower, still-wet hair leaves my hair smoothed without feeling slick, and tames flyaways (even in summer heat). I can only use it once a week, though—any more than that, and I have grease issues. But the right amount leaves my hair feeling so soft, and it gives the slightest definition to my natural waves.

Bonus: One of the things I love so much about natural and organic products is the commitment to doing good that so many of these companies have. They really work hard to make the world a better place! Agasaya is no exception: this Canadian company stores their small-batch products in protective, dark violet glass. (Easily recycled or reused!) They choose their suppliers with care, and support women’s cooperatives in Morocco along with small, local producers. And their products are pure. There’s just one ingredient in the bottle of argan oil: organically farmed Moroccan argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil. That’s it.

Have you tried either of these luxe oils? What new uses have you found for them? —Aleigh

(Top image: Julie70; product images via Agasaya)

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Getting Personal: A new adventure

A sampling of the products I've reviewed on Indigo + Canary since 2011.

A sampling of the products I’ve reviewed on Indigo + Canary since 2011.

Since I launched this site in 2011, my life has changed a lot. I’ve made some job changes. I lost someone who was important to me. (A dog, too.) I gained a family member. Life goes on, as it does.

On Indigo+Canary, I’ve written about things in the cosmetics and skincare realm that concern me. I’ve celebrated when I’ve seen positive changes. I’ve tried new techniques and shared some that work for me.

But most of all, I’ve shared so many amazing products with you—and I’ve tried them all. I’ve thought a lot about how to make it feasible for me to keep growing and writing this site, which is still a hobby and not a business. I don’t really have the time or desire to sell and manage ads, although I may open that up in the future. I wrote one sponsored post through a blogging network and hated it, so I dropped out of the network. I’m not opposed to including sponsored posts here, but that experience taught me that I would prefer to work directly with a brand to make sure the content is worthy of being shared here and that I ultimately retain creative control. But especially now with a new baby, Indigo+Canary is frequently pushed aside in favor of writing gigs that support my family. That makes me sad, because I really love writing about natural and organic skincare!

So I made a decision. I’ve made pros and cons lists, I’ve spent hours thinking about how this decision would change Indigo+Canary (or not), and I decided to go for it.

I’ve signed on with Pangea Organics to sell their products directly as an independent beauty ecologist.

I first started writing about natural and organic skincare and cosmetics in 2009 after meeting the woman who created I was already completely hooked on skincare products and very particular about the makeup I used; she introduced me to a new way of thinking about both, and I haven’t looked back.

Pangea Organics was one of the first product lines I tried, along with Trilogy, Juice Beauty, Melvita, Dr. Hauschka, Suki, and Revolution Organics. (Quite a starting lineup, no?) I still love all of these brands, but I admired Pangea’s packaging, which is frequently seeded and plantable (like this one: buy a lovely bar of soap, plant a spruce tree with the packaging!). I loved their ingredients, too; I’ve included at least one Pangea product in almost every roundup I’ve written here.

In the interests of full disclosure, I wanted to make my new connection known—and also to let you know one very important thing about my commitment to you and to this site. My new relationship with Pangea Organics will not change my approach to Indigo+Canary. I will still write about important natural/organic skincare issues, new research, and products I’ve tried (beyond just Pangea products). I will still include Pangea products in the content here when I feel it’s relevant. And I will not turn this blog into a glorified sales pitch.

What will change is exactly this: 1) I will have a link in the righthand sidebar to my Pangea Organics sales page. 2) Any time I write about Pangea, the links will lead to my own page. 3) I may occasionally add a note at the end of a post if we have a great sale happening, or if I’m running a special promotion.

That’s it. Really.

This way, I can hopefully start to generate a little revenue to make it feasible for me to spend more time on this site, coming up with more frequent, compelling content, and, if I’m dreaming big, possibly even add a few new contributors someday. I hope that you will accept this new shift in my life, and that I have proven my dedication to writing about this industry and the multitude of wonderful products out there so that you as a reader will continue to visit, leave comments, and share in this fun natural/organic beauty adventure! If, in the meantime, you have questions about Pangea products, want to join my team, or just want to send me a note (positive or negative!), I’d love to hear from you: aleigh AT indigoandcanary DOT com. —Aleigh

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Baby Love: 3 Healthy Baby Essentials

This week, Claudia will be five months old. (And here’s where I’ll be a complete parental cliche and say that I absolutely cannot believe how quickly five months have flown by.) Here are three products that I really love when it comes to keeping Baby healthy.*

Baby Ddrops. I learned a lesson on this one. It is frequently suggested that babies who are exclusively breastfed be given a daily Vitamin D supplement, which I think is important (not in the least part because most of the women in my family are Vitamin D deficient). After my pediatrician recommended a supplement, I went out to a drug store and grabbed the brand she recommended. I didn’t read the label. Big mistake. It was full of crap—chemical colorings, sweeteners, the works. My daughter HATED it, and because it was so packed full of things that weren’t Vitamin D, she was also supposed to take a huge dose. Then, I went out and did what I should’ve done the first time around: research. I found this brand and haven’t looked back. It’s clear, natural, and a dose is just one single drop—exactly what I wanted.

Gripe WaterGripe Water. Sometimes babies get gassy. And gassy babies are fussy babies. I always start with some movement to get things moving, but if that doesn’t work, just one dropper of Gripe Water almost always does the trick—and quickly, too. It’s been a relief on several evenings when Baby’s tired but too uncomfortable to fall asleep. I like that it’s made with organic ginger and fennel (no simethicone) and doesn’t need to be refrigerated, so I can keep it next to the rocking chair.

charlie's soapCharlie’s Soap Laundry Powder. I can’t remember who suggested this product to me, but I added it to my baby registry (side note: I used Babylist), and it’s the only thing I’ve used to wash my daughter’s clothes, sheets, towels, and blankets. I don’t think Claudia has particularly sensitive skin, but we haven’t had any skin issues with this product. I had never used a powdered laundry detergent before, and I’m a total convert—I now also use it to wash everything. I like that it’s gentle (no dyes or scents), biodegradable, and most importantly it works. Best of all, I use such a tiny amount for each wash that I still haven’t used up that first container.

Do you have any favorite healthy baby products? Please share! —Aleigh

*This blog post is not intended to be used as medical advice, and the author is not a physician.

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Beauty Obsession: Pacific by MVO

Marie Veronique Nadeau and actress Shiva Rose

Here’s a confession: parenthood has done a serious number on my skin. In a bad way. It’s been impossible to get enough sleep (not good for my skin!), plus I rarely remember to wash my face at night before I finally collapse onto the bed (also not good), and I’ve caught every cold that Baby has brought home from daycare.

It’s like I can see my skin aging. (OK, OK, that may be a slight exaggeration.) Still, it’s depressing to watch my skin become so unhappy.

But it means I can honestly say I’ve put several products from the newish line by Marie Veronique Organics to the test. It’s called Pacific, and it was developed to address the specific issues facing aging skin (ahem)—everything from wrinkles and sagging to dehydration and hyperpigmentation.

I’ve been a fan of MVO for a few years, and in particular, of the MVO mist, which I keep in my purse when I’m going to be out in the heat—a quick spritz is seriously refreshing on a hot day. (Pro tip: Spritz it lightly over your mineral makeup for a dewy, fresh-faced look.)

I also love the story behind the products: Founder Marie Veronique Nadeau (that’s her on the left in the photo above) is a former chemistry teacher, who wanted safer, chemical-free products. She started by making her own sunscreen, and her skincare line has grown from there—each product is free of parabens, phthalates, petrochemicals, waxes, dyes, fragrance, and nanoparticles.

Read on for mini reviews of six products in the Pacific line.

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