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Want to Try (Natural) Korean Beauty Products? Start Here!

Scaring children

A photo posted by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

It’s entirely possible you’ve gotten caught up in the Korean beauty products trend without even realizing it. BB cream, sheet masks, fermented essences, and even special ingredients like snail mucin (seriously!) are all Korean imports. But if you’ve skimmed ingredients lists on some of the most popular K beauty products and found some things you don’t love, I feel you. Plus, it’s not always easy to check out the ingredients lists of these products, many of which are still fairly new to the U.S. market. That’s a problem for a person like me who doesn’t just blindly trust that a brand that calls itself natural doesn’t also use some decidedly not-natural ingredients.

But don’t be disheartened! I’ve done the research. Here are 11 clean Korean beauty products you can try with exactly zero guilt.

(Please note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I could earn some money — at no cost to you — if you click on them. View my full disclosure here.)

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Do You Know What’s In Your Sunscreen?

Is Your Sunscreen Doing More Harm Than Good?

Just because summer is coming to a close doesn’t mean you can stop thinking about protecting your skin from the sun. Sure, you might not have to lather it on before a day at the pool or the beach, but good skincare habits are just as important in January as they are in July!

I spoke with Dr. Jeremy Wolf, ND at LuckyVitamin.com, and outlined the most important insights from the Environmental Working Group’s latest sunscreen report for a story about the hidden dangers of conventional sunscreen I wrote for the StyleSeat blog.

Stop by and take a peek, then come back here so we can chat about your favorite sunscreen! Have more questions about ingredients or skin protection tips? Leave them in the comments and I’ll ask Dr. Wolf to answer them for us!

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The Beauty Benefits of Apples

Beauty Benefits of Apples

Fruit juice can be a potent natural beauty ingredient—there’s even a (great!) line of natural cosmetics based on the sweet stuff. But there’s one specific fruit that takes center stage this time of year: the apple. Whether you eat them or use products with apple on your skin, there’s lots to love about this fall staple.

In honor of the start of apple-picking season (at least here in North Carolina), here are four reasons to add apples to your beauty routine. 

  1. It can help combat acne. Packed with Vitamin A (otherwise known as retinol), apples can help combat acne by increasing cell turnover.
  2. It has moisturizing and skin tone-perfecting qualities. Apples are full of Vitamin B, which is great for dry skin and fading age spots, and can help even skin tone.
  3. It can lessen undereye circles. If you battle dark undereye circles like mine that are mostly unaffected by a lack of sleep, an eye cream with Vitamin K, which is found in apple juice, can help shrink the capillaries under the thin skin beneath your eyes and decrease some of the discoloration.
  4. It has anti-aging benefits. Apples are packed with Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps your skin protect and repair itself, leaving you with a fresh-looking complexion.

Have you spotted apple on the ingredients list of any of your favorite skincare products? Share your favorites in the comments!

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Beauty Secrets of the Bahamas

Pirates Trap beach, Staniel Cay

Not only are the Exuma islands naturally gorgeous, but they’ve got some natural beauty secrets of their own—from natural exfoliators to beautiful flora and fauna that also boast beauty benefits. Here are four beauty secrets I discovered during my quick trip to the Caribbean. —Aleigh


Limestone. The Exuma islands are made of limestone, which acts as a natural filter and is one of the reasons the water here is so spectacularly clear. When it comes to beauty treatments, however, often mud masks are enriched with limestone for its mineralization and exfoliation properties. While I was there, I scooped up a few big handfuls of sand and scrubbed my feet for an instant island pedicure!

Coconut. Coconut palms are sprinkled throughout the Bahamas, and this hairy little fruit has some powerful beauty benefits. Coconut oil is a beauty multitasker—it has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties, but it’s also a fantastic moisturizer. Use it as a body oil, as a deep conditioning treatment for your hair, or even to remove stubborn eye makeup. Plain, natural coconut water, on the other hand, is extremely hydrating, with plenty of electrolytes and none of the added sugar or chemical color additives of your typical sports drink.

A sea grape bush

Sea grape. With leaves that look like large eucalyptus and cascading bunches of edible grapes, the sea grape is a Bahamian bush medicine standard, eaten as a sweet treat or to soothe an upset stomach. But like its cousin grape varietals, the sea grape also boasts antioxidants, making it a great addition to skincare products from lip balm to moisturizer.

Mangrove. The mangrove tree has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and skin-healing properties—it’s a bit rare, but I’ve noticed it as an ingredient in both facial creams and moisturizers.

Relaxation. We frequently joked about being on “island time” while we were in the Bahamas, especially when we were hungry or thirsty! But I think there’s something more to that sometimes-frustrating slower pace. Napping, sleeping, and decreased stress are all good things—and keep you happy and healthy! And happiness + healthfulness = beauty. The well-rounded kind.


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How to evaluate natural/organic cosmetics

I’m starting to peek at the results of the 2013 Indigo+Canary Reader Survey—thanks again to everyone who has already participated!—and I’m seriously grateful to all of you for your candid responses, kind words, requests, and feedback.

One topic that keeps coming up?  The tendency to become overwhelmed by the transition to natural cosmetics. So here’s a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to evaluating a product I’m considering, either in-store or online. I hope you find it helpful.

Feel free to leave your own tips, techniques, challenges, etc. in the comments! I’d be happy to do a follow-up post if anyone has specific challenges for us to tackle together. —Aleigh

DON’T believe the hype. Many, many products contain natural and/or organic ingredients. That doesn’t mean they don’t also contain a bunch of junk ingredients. (Note: The practice of promoting a product as natural when it isn’t is called greenwashing. And it stinks.)

DO realize there’s a difference between natural and organic. There are many natural products out there that aren’t organic (and even many organic products that can’t claim to be 100% organic) that I think are safe and beneficial. I almost always use the term “natural” because I don’t focus exclusively on organic products—you’ll find both natural and organic products on this blog. Some people refer to them as “clean” products.

DO check for ingredients that are an immediate no-go. Fact: Ingredients lists are often overwhelmingly extensive. If you can remember 3-5 key ingredients* you know you want to stay away from at all costs, scan and look for those before you scrutinize the entire ingredients list. That way, if you spot something like sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) anywhere on the list, you can rule out that product without having to study each and every ingredient.

DON’T forget to consider your specific needs. If you have sensitive skin or know that you’re sensitive to a certain ingredient, check for those first on an ingredients list. You may also want to be a little more picky about the purity of the ingredients list if you’re looking for a product to use on your little one as opposed to when you’re shopping for a shampoo you’re going to use yourself.

DO look up ingredients you don’t recognize. Especially the ones that are ridiculously long and hard to pronounce. This is the most laborious step, but an important one. In stores, it’s helpful to have a smartphone with some natural beauty apps or a list of your no-go ingredients in your wallet for reference. Online, I keep a link to the SkinDeep Database open so I can switch back and forth easily.

DON’T hesitate to ask for a full ingredients list if you can’t find one. Many not-natural products (and to be fair, some truly natural products) don’t include full ingredients lists online. If this is the case, I often email the company to ask for a complete ingredients list…but it makes me extremely suspicious that a product isn’t actually as natural as it claims.

DO make a judgment call. Transitioning to natural cosmetics is a personal journey. You might decide to go all-in and toss every single one of your not-natural products at once to replace them with purer ones. But you don’t have to. Instead, you may decide to replace them one by one, as you use up your conventional products. Or you may choose to ditch the ones that have the most questionable ingredients first. It’s entirely up to you, and there is no wrong approach. Want more? Here’s a link to my natural/organic beauty philosophy.

DON’T stress over the decision. Easier said than done, I know. But keep in mind that  any effort you make is better than no effort. Really! And you have several factors to consider: convenience, price, availability, performance, and purity. So prioritize those factors in whatever order works best for you. (Example: I frequently buy a mostly-natural mascara in drugstores because I procrastinate on ordering a more natural version online…and mascara is the one beauty product I rarely leave the house without putting on. In that case, I typically prioritize convenience and price over performance and purity.)


*For me, these no-go ingredients are pthalates, any kind of parabens (there are six: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben), sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, PEGs, and any artificial colors or fragrances. There are plenty other ingredients I avoid or do my best to avoid, of course, but these are the absolute, I-will-not-touch-them items. Bella Floria has a great explanation of these ingredients and a few others you may want to stay away from, here. 

(Image via Christian Kadluba on flickr)

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