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Beauty Obsession: Shamanuti

I don’t think of myself as complicated, per se—although I do admit that I have combination skin. And that can make skincare a bit complicated.

However, I still like Shamanuti’s* tagline: “Simple skincare for complicated creatures.” Clever, no? And I do also have to admit that I’ve been a fan of activated charcoal for a while. It’s the best friend of a girl with skin like mine that can’t make up its mind. Is it dry? Oily? No. It’s both.

So I was understandably excited to test out two Shamanuti products—especially considering that my skin has been particularly indecisive lately, because: hormones. (See also: pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum skin craziness.) Which I think makes me the perfect person to test these products out. My crazy skin has given both of them a true challenge. Read on for my review!

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Beauty Obsession: Forager Botanicals

When I was a tween, one of my favorite beauty products was perfume. It just seemed so grown up and so glamorous—a spritz of scent on your pulse points. I scoured magazines for the perfect, lush-smelling sample. I haunted the fragrance counters at the mall. If there was a school dance coming up, I spent a lot of time testing to find the perfect scent to wear. My fragrance obsession is one beauty habit that lasted through the years. I still marked special days with special scents—I even bought a perfume on my honeymoon that smelled like my wedding bouquet.

Fast-forward to three or four years ago. After I made the switch to natural and organic beauty, I noticed that I’d become much, much more sensitive to synthetic ingredients—particularly fragrances. If I get into an elevator with a perfumed person (or even just get too close to a perfumed friend or coworker), inevitably I’ll develop a coughing or sneezing fit. Sometimes I even feel like my throat is going to close up. It’s not fun, and at times it can be downright scary. (I am also now officially the annoying person who avoids entire sections of the mall if there are certain smelly stores in that direction. I’m sure you can guess the biggest offenders.)

The other sad result of my new sensitivity is that I don’t use perfume much anymore—only on special occasions, and then only the truly organic fragrances. But I’m drawn to fragrance like a moth to a flame, and I’m always on the hunt for a new one that 1) doesn’t leave me breathless or winded, 2) smells lovely on me, and 3) gets compliments when I wear it.

Read on for details on the newest additions to my fragrance stash, from organic line Forager Botanicals*.

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Beauty Obsession: Alki Organix


I’ve written extensively about the skin benefits of honey, here and elsewhere, and I’m a sucker for products with honey in them. In particular, I especially love facial products with honey, since the antiseptic and antibacterial qualities in honey are particularly effective against cystic acne. (Which I decidedly do not love.)

So I was excited to try a few of Shirley Makela’s products, created for her new company, Alki Organix. Shirley is a holistic health and nutritional coach, and like so many creators of natural and organic cosmetics, created her line out of a desire to find products that would soothe and nurture her sensitive skin.

The result is a product line with supremely natural ingredients, using really soothing ingredients like certified organic sunflower and virgin unrefined coconut oils, certified organic witch hazel, grape seed oil, mango butter, meadowfoam seed oil, and honey as a base. (And no water. Just pure, potent ingredients.) Read on for the scoop about her Manuka Honey Facial treatment (and a small bonus write-up on my favorites of her skin balms that I tried). —Aleigh

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Beauty Obsession: Sweet Leaf Bath

I’m a big fan of exfoliation—in moderation—and since I regularly do battle with cystic acne, I’m a big fan of gentle exfoliation in particular. Through trial and error I have proven the rule that too much exfoliation (or exfoliation that’s too harsh) is not a good thing for my skin. I also look to my skin to dictate whether or not to reach for a scrub or my Clarisonic. Lately I’ve been opting for a gentle exfoliation treatment 2-3 times a week, including a great weekend facial mask treatment.

I’m a new fan of the affordable, generously-portioned products from Sweet Leaf Bath, a Canadian company from founders Rose Creamer and Stacey Guymer that makes its products in small batches—with extremely clean ingredients.

What I tried: Adzuki Bean & Rice Bran Face Polish, $16.95*

First impressions: As per usual, I went straight for the ingredients list, and liked what I saw. Here it is in all of its glory: Organic Adzuki Powder, Organic Rice Bran, Cucumber Seed Extract, Custard Apple Fruit Extract, Ginkgo Biloba. Simple, clean, easy. The adzuki  bean powder and rice bran make for an extremely gentle and soothing exfoliant…after my very first use my skin felt smooth, but not dried out or irritated in the slightest.

What caught me by surprise: This is going to sound weird, I know, but this product smells like fresh green beans to me. (Not in an unpleasant way!) Just sort of fresh, earthy, and like veggies at the farmers market. The instructions on the jar say to scoop out a little bit, mix with water, and scrub. I also tried tapping a little out into the ceramic jar that I got with this facial mask, mixed it up, and applied that way. Either tactic works well, but I find mixing it in a bowl helps me with portion control.

Bonus: Sweet Leaf’s products are made with pure, organic, and fair trade-certified ingredients. (They’re licensed by FairTrade Canada.)

*This product was sent to me for review, but I only write about cosmetics I think are truly worthy of being shared with you. View my full disclosure here, and my review policy here.

(Image via Sweet Leaf Bath)

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Beauty Obsession: Osmia Organics Detox Mask

I’m always excited to try a new release from Osmia Organics, but truly, few things make me happier than a great facial mask treatment on a weekend afternoon. When that afternoon includes a fresh mask from Osmia plus relaxing with a great book (I just finished this one) and a glass of sparkling water with lemon, there’s almost nothing better.

If you’ve shied away from dry facial masks in the past, this may be the perfect one to try. Yes, it can take a few tries to get just the right ratio of mask to water (start with the mask, and add a tiny amount of water bit by bit), but these dry masks have two big pluses, in my opinion: they last a really long time (if they ever expire), and you control the mixing, so you can customize them to get the perfect consistency for your skin. Plus you can mix up exactly the amount you need, whether you’re doing an all-over mask or just a dab for a spot treatment. —Aleigh

What I tried: Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliating Mask, $50*

First impressions: As with all of the Osmia products I’ve tried, the packaging for this facial mask is simple and beautiful. This new mask is a dry formula and comes in a glass bottle tucked into a small box with a small ceramic bowl and spatula. It’s potent (and pure), with three types of skin-purifying clay and activated bamboo charcoal. If you’ve got troubled or problematic skin—or just feel like your complexion is a bit dull—this mask is a great option, especially because with finely ground walnut shells, it’s also an exfoliator.

What caught me by surprise: Sarah warned me that because this mask does exfoliate and detoxify, my skin might be a little red for 10-15 minutes after I rinsed off the mask. And, frankly, I fully expected this—my skin has been a bit more on the sensitive side lately. (I always slather on a great, soothing facial moisturizer after a facial mask.) But after testing this mask several times, I haven’t experienced redness once. I can absolutely feel the mask tightening up my skin as it dries, and it does offer some great, gentle exfoliation when it’s rinsed off. (Note: when you rinse, move your fingers in a circular motion, gently—don’t scrub!) But my skin is just absolutely glowy post-mask, and it definitely calmed a recent cystic acne bump on my jawline.

Bonus: This mask comes with its own little ceramic bowl and spatula—such a great touch. I’ve been stealing bowls from my kitchen cabinets to mix up my facial masks in the past. No more!

*This product was sent to me for review, but I only write about cosmetics I think are truly worthy of being shared with you. View my full disclosure here, and my review policy here.

(Images via Osmia Organics)

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