leave-in hair conditioner ($30) that reduces frizz with Argan’s potent power. Africa has put the spotlight on all things Argan. But, this isn’t just another Argan oil.
Why it matters: Actually, there are two other oils in this: Linseed and Cyperus oils. The former is best know for bringing superior shine to the lackluster locks, and the latter is reputed to slow down hair loss. Cyperus is an Egyptian essential oil, not a carrier like Argan, which is something I want to call attention to.
Why it impresses: Well, the vain blogger in me really wants to say the irresistibly gorgeous bottle. But, I’ll get real. For the tenderness of its seamless Vanilla scent. Good gawds, I want this Vanilla in a body oil form as the nice perfumey kind of Vanilla I like. Not the cupcake kind. The hair oil is visibly more viscous than the usual hair oils you’ve probably tried. Curly and kinked out hair types will appreciate this as a few drops of this golden oil will reduce the frays in one fell dollop.
Though I will confess – I did wear the Vanilla on my pulse points to see how the scent evolves. Two hours later, it remains elegant and stirring to the point of re-sniffs. If any sly Orofluido rep comes across this post by chance, I will say it straight up…please create a perfume oil out of your proprietary blend. It’s the Vanilla I’ve sought high n’ low. Please.
The Final Word: Yeah, the bottle? The scent? The Argan? Worth the surprisingly low price tag as this bottle will last you a long while considering 5-6 drops is all you really need.
Here’s the proof; in a two-year study, Rosehip oil was applied to 180 patients with surgical, traumatic and burn scars, as well as to a group suffering from premature aging of the skin. The results were remarkable. Continuous application of Rosehip effectively attenuated scars and wrinkles, halted advancement of premature aging, and restored lost skin natural color and tone.
If you’d rather hear the story from a real person, then Mally Steves Chakola (the mind behind the chic organic brand M. Steves) is the woman to hear it from. She’s quite the charmer; an informed entrepreneur (who looks like a former model) who has taken the nutritious benefits all the way to The Today Show. She knows firsthand how Rosehip can help fade scars. Rosehip also reputedly contains extremely high levels of essential fatty acids—more than Argan or Grapeseed oil. Rosehip is also naturally compatible with skin cell structure and provides a gentler and more absorbable source of trans-retinoic acid, while promoting an increase in levels of elastin and collagen.
See, Mally bought a bottle of oil on whim and used it up on a 20-year old scar, which faded dramatically in size and colour within two weeks. It’s this success story that inspired her to launch a line of Rosehip-based products, which are designed to work in sync with each other to promote the quickest cell turnover for glowy skin.
Having been a former Retin-A user (for my cystic acne), I can say Mally's Ultra Nourishing Boost ($64) is a far safer botanical alternative to the harsh dryness that accompanies the prescription-only med and often leaves your skin begging for moisture. I’ve long complained about the peeling and flakes I get from being on Retin-A and even from the occasional chemical peels I endure, which led me to the fun of using face oils in the first place. But, keep an open mind about this oil.
It’s an intense and concentrated serum; no additives, colours, or even scent to the cold-pressed Rosehip oil, which makes it ideal for sensitive skin types or ones that insist on undergoing the raze of a derm’s hand. The ambery elixir is very light in feel and absorbs on the spot. I actually relied on the likable oil - which has the agility of feathery serum - after a radiance peel and found my skin drinking it up and leaving not a patch of anything sensitive, red or dry.
Though my peels are few and far in between (I know I ought to give them up, but they do keep the cystic break-outs at bay), I like to keep skin refreshed with the Reviving Exfoliator ($48). I’ve been on a scrub kick lately as I never though to use oil-based ones to help keep skin primed for allowing serums (like the booster) to penetrate deeper. Absent from my recent finds has been a face scrub based in an oil. And, this light, fragrant and satisfying scrub is just the thing to make skin more velvety.
The resurfacer leaves your skin and neck pretty buffed and polished with Microdermabrasion crystals, Walnut Shell powder and fruit enzymes all blended in a base of Jojoba, Avocado and Rosehip. Cast into the jar are Grapefruit and Tangerine oils to bring a modern citrus feel to the scrub.
The wondrously precise formula gives you a good scruff without being too harsh. Want to temper it down? Add a few extra drops of the booster to get a less grainy feel.
Using the oil-based treatments together seems appropriate for Rosehip’s slough n’ slather synergy here. And, while the unsung oil may not have had the good fortune of reveling in some PR buzz usually reserved for more exotic oils, you cannot dispute the science behind it. The proof is in Mally’s improved skin.
Rosehip’s turn under the spotlight has come.
Scent Classification: Citrus (in the scrub, scent-free in the oil)
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
Baby Stark is going to be one lucky lad; he’ll be getting this oil massaged into skin after his bath and right before bed. Much like what you ought to do. To replenish moisture without a greasy after feel, Stark Skincare uses Meadowfoam Seed oil blended with Sunflower, Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel and Coconut oils. Meadowfoam seed oil has a track record of popularity as it’s very close in structure to Jojoba; the oil is drenched with Vitamin E rich fatty acids, which work to prevent moisture loss on skin and actually anchor the scent of essential oils. It’s also highly resistant to oxidation, which means your body oil won’t go rancid very quickly.
The Everybody Oil ($42) is quite right for everyone and everything. On skin, the fresh burst of citrus absorbs instantly. But, try it on hair to reduce the frizz. Because Meadowfoam is resistant to oxidation, you’ve got an oil that can improve hair’s shine, even when coloured. John Davis, co-founder and director of AG Hair Cosmetics says, “Any time you can prevent oxidation in hair you are going to keep hair and hair color more vibrant. If the color molecules start to oxidize you start losing color and it fades.” And, because of the light feel and structure, the oil washes out with one rinse when used as a 30-minute intensive mask.
I like the incredibly smelling cleanness of the Lavender, which is blended with a soft Vanilla and Sweet Orange oils. With an overt citrus opening, the smell settles into a hazy warmth of sweetness and feels just so classic when you wear it. Intimate, in a way.
For someone who wants to try the elemental brilliance of body oil for the first time, this is a good bet. Every bottle is handmade from scratch in small, pristine batches and delivered from door to door in two days, even over the bittery cold skies of Canada to the bright, sun-shiny city of LA.
Speaking of adorably cute deliveries...Jess, congratulations on your newest bundle of joy!
Scent Classification: Citrus
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
One of the more compelling stories behind a body oil is that of Hungarian brand Omorovicza; an enchanted beginning where a US ambassaodor (Margaret Dickerson) meets, falls in love and weds a worldly businessman (Stephen de Heinrich de Omorovicza). A year later, the impossibly glamorous couple launched the namesake brand that uses famed mineralized thermal waters (thriving and rich in calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc) from Danube with atypical ingredients such as ruby crystals, gold particles, and Hungarian mud. It’s the type of high tech luxury that demands your attention with hauntingly beautiful, paraben- and petrochemical-free products you’ll really want to save up for.
Hungary has offered up some charmingly precious beauty treatments of late and judging by the purity of the elements in the serums and oils, it’s about time the country gets the spotlight. Now, I’m crazy for the Gold Shimmer Oil ($80), which is a fine example of old-world-style blending that hasn’t been lost to modern mass productions.
The silky oil is soft and seamless; Jojoba, Rice Germ, Fractionated Coconut, Apricot Kernel, Sunflower Seed and Carrot Seed oils comprise the restorative elixir. The ultrathin oil houses microfine flecks of gold…real gold. The metal is known to possess serious anti-inflammatory action and works to repair micro-damage on the skin resulting in improved texture. Also notable is Carrot Seed oil, which contains high concentrations of beta-carotene and vitamin A and is known for bringing good antioxidant properties. It stimulates skin cell growth and thus prevents signs of aging such as wrinkles, lines and age spots. Scientists attribute this to the “carotol,” a primary component found in Carrot Seed oil. The oil also has moisturizing vitamin E and protective vitamin C, which work together to help encourage healing and to rejuvenate skin cells and bring new life to skin. In fact, Carrot Seed oil has a well-earned rep for helping to heal eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis because of its ability to repair damaged skin.
Enough of the science, and now onto the insanely addictive scent. The floral tone right from the start is from a strikingly sweet succor of Ylang Ylang melting into the heart of Orange Blossoms. Give it a few minutes to allow a discrete undernote that reads of something of a bewitching Jasmine finish. Slather lavishly, as the much-beloved scent is near absolute perfection!
And, for the gold flecks? Far more of a sheen when the bottle is shaken, not stirred. No really…the flecks may settle a bit around the opening, so be sure to give the bottle a good flip. On legs and arms, the Gold Shimmer oil should be your list for must-have accessories for those flitty dresses you wear on breezy spring nights. I’ll be pairing this with my Indian saris as the subtle gleam on skin complements the embroidered swathes of silk so perfectly.
The oil is actually the last step to the fun of having your very own luxuriant spa-like scrub at home. As a first step, try the resinous scented Gold Sugar Scrub ($90); fair trade, moderate sized Golden Cane Sugar granules and gold mica are blended in Coconut and Apricot oils to help slough off dead skin. The gentle, non-abrasive scrub also has Capsicum peptides and Turmeric Root and Bark extracts blended within thermal waters. The Vitamin C enriched Capsicum (derived from hot chili peppers) will help give a kick start to your microcirculation and promises to leave your skin looking aglow. The scrub rinses off easily, but double up on the moisture with the Shimmer oil and marvel at your newfound softness.
I can see why the brand is so celebrated among the beauty cognoscenti as there’s something about Hungarian blends that bring a befitting distinction. Omorovicza does an extraordinary job of teasing out the precious elements from the rustic countryside and puts them at that smart nexus of where nature meets high tech. The scents are big and balanced; the oils are potent and pretty. Every ingredient seems to have a tale to tell…which is very much in the spirit of the brand’s founders. Like them, I’m also very much in love…
With Omorovicza that is.
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
Candles can be a powerful medium for change. If you’re going to buy just one candle this year, get acquainted with Bridgewater Candle Co. as you’ll be thrilled to know your endless fascination with scents and lighting can help tackle the ugly problem of malnutrition.
To speak of a cause from beauty sometimes seems obscene. But, let's get real - we do live in a world where 144 million souls are orphaned and by the time you read up to this sentence, two orphans have died from malnutrition. Bridgewater has committed themselves to the cause and partnered with RiceBowls.org to feed these unfortunate children. From every sale of their highly scented, beautifully packaged jar candles, Bridgewater donates enough to feed a child for a day. One jar feeds one child in one day. And, this functional goodness happens here every day.
The sincerity of the brand’s sweet charity doesn’t end here. You can support a child for a whole week if you snap up the specially created Sweet Grace candle ($20 seen above) packaged in a specially create ceramic handprint container.
Bridewater is a brand that inspires people by its fortunately kitsch-free candles and diffusers. With superbly long throws, good clean burns (from a natural soy-blend wax) and a wide array of choices, there’s a well-conceived scent here for everyone no matter how finicky your taste; all lacking those sometimes pretentious whatchamacallit names:
- Pomegranate for a lush tartness
- Sangria for its exuberant fruity aromatic flourish
- Open Road for a summery garden fresh feel
- Free Spirit for a warm beachy breeze
- Sweet Grace for its floral earthiness spiced with Patchouli (my fave)
Great charity begins in your heart.
$18 - $22 available at Bridgewatercandles.com.
heady body oil ($45) infused largely with Green Tea through a Grapeseed base that was gifted to me by a darling huile lover and friend. Her thoughts were I’d adore beautifully blended subtle Jasmine, which would be a real treat to wear. She was right.
Why it matters: Delightfully organic, the Green Tea is here in copious amounts. Science shows of all the antioxidants known, the components of green tea are the most potent. The same scientists found that the polyphenols in green tea also had anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. Jojoba and Avocado oils are added to give skin a nourishing boost of fatty acids.
Why it impresses: The clean green notes of Vetiver infused through the Jasmine makes the strongly scented come to life. There is an aloof Bergamot, which sits afar but nicely freshens the blend. It’s quite an androgynous scent, not as floral as you’d expect. But, if I could imagine a gent wearing subtle Jasmine, it’d be through the likes of this unmistakably distinctive blend.
The Final Word: A new way to heighten your delight for Jasmine. Dear friend, thank you for the introduction to a green tea infusion of a different kind.
Every skincare maven wants to know the same thing – what’s the safest way to exfoliate? Is it in the beads? Is it from the ingredients? Do I want it grainy or fine?
The one thing we can say with certainty is how regular exfoliation does improve skin’s radiance, help face oils penetrate better, and helps your sunscreens work better. Face Fix ($34) is a storied exfoliant; handmade in San Francisco by Nieves Rathbun, who herself is an interesting wanderlust and once traveled with pack donkeys.
I say storied because you can use the finely granular Face Fix in just about any which way you want. Want to amp up the intensity of your scruff? Add a few drops of water to activate the water soluble, finely milled powders like Chamomile Flower, Comfrey Root, Grapefruit Peel, Lavender Flower, Licorice Root, Neem Leaf, and Horsetail all of which are wholly organic and blended with a smattering of Jojoba Beads.
What’s interesting about this mix is that you can also add a few drops of your favourite face oil instead of water to get a smoother scrub as well. The very picture of using a scrub is left up to you to create with whatever grit your skin loves best. Nieves shares that one of her preferred additives is:
“Apple juice…it smells amazing and then you get all the extra benefits too. Some folks like yogurt and egg whites.”So, off I went. I tried juicing the scrub with Apple since it brings natural doses of Vitamin A (which encourages cell turnover) and Vitamin C (which brightens). Apple juice has been also known to keep breakouts away, thanks to its powerful combo of acids that degrease skin without drying it out. It also contains Acetic acid, which acts as a mild astringent to keep pores clean and bacteria-free and Malic acid that is a natural alpha hydroxy.
A few squirts into the palm of my hand cradling the tender powder was all I needed to create a pasty, sweet smelling scrub. A few minutes of a deep scrub and after an easy, mess-free rinse, skin was smooth and primed for the caress of a face oil. Organic Orange Peel and Rose Petal powders are also added to lend a whispery floral scent to the exfoliant.
Half the joy with Face Fix is to think what other natural juices you could add to the powder. The half is actually using a scrub created to your skin's sensitivity level. With the glut of DIY exfoliating recipes on the web, I’d say this is quite possibly the most adorable one of them all.
What is it: Completely vegan and organic body oil ($30) that gives you a welcomed reprieve from the herby Lavenders and flowery Roses. Nice for stress-busting soaks, too.
Why it matters: The Jojoba oil is infused for what seems for weeks on end as a nice backdrop of Chamomile, Lavender, Rose and Calendula segue into the carrier with a soft scent, but never upstages the sweet Lemongrass. In traditional medicine, Lemongrass is usually given in the form of a foot bath made from the fresh herb, from which the patient additionally benefits by inhaling the scent. Organic Hemp Seed, Rosehip, Sesame, Coconut, and Borage oils round out the rest of the list.
Why it impresses: Too often the clean, lemony smelling Lemongrass is overshadowed by other essences, rarely giving due to the near fruity nuances of the essential oil. It’s all here in its full, unbridled form – bright & subtly sweet. With a super light viscosity, the oil sinks in straight away and has a good scent that hovers atop skin for a bit longer than you’d expect it to. Fun fact: it’s one of the ten best-selling essential oils in the world.
The Final Word: SkinnySkinny is a brand I like for breaking the mold of conventional oils blends and creating comfortably unique variations that really help you experience aromatherapy at a different level…and note.
I’ll confess – I now fear walking by a Lush store these days. The colourful copy, the inviting tubs and jars and the perky sales staff make it so irresistible to pop in and spend and hour of my life playing away with skin toys and treats that smell so incredulously delicious, I feel like I’m in an ice-cream bar. What the Apple store is to guys, the Lush store is to me - really the perfect way to take a break from the mallrats crowing the food court and sniff away at some pretty and organic treatments, if you ask me.
Lush has done so well taking the simplest ingredients and turning them into an elevated art of sorts. For instance, take the Ocean Salt; it’s a face and body exfoliator that uses fresh limes (reportedly 16 organic limes are squeezed to fill the tub) extracted in Vodka, which are blended Avocado butter and Coconut fat. The Avocado is reputed to be beneficial in reducing age spots and the appearance of scars, while the Coconut (in cream form) gives you a soft, cushiony base for the large grained sea salts. Interesting fact: sea salt, has been found to improve skin hydration, improve barrier function, and reduce inflammation due to the high levels of magnesium therein (International Journal of Dermatology, 2009).
If ever there was a scrub I wanted rubbed entirely over my lanky frame, it’s Ocean Salt. The tart, citrus-y scent infused throughout the formula is from the zing of fresh Grapefruits and Lime oil, both tinged with the summery freshness of Violet absolutes. The scent is elegant and pure in its bright, shimmering rush, almost clean.
But – the buzz of the scruff. For the intrepid, sensitive skins, you ought to know this is as salty and as grainy as scrubs come. In a good way, though. What I like about Ocean Salt is how the scruff quotient can be remediated. Add a few drops of your face oil to a dollop of Ocean Salt and you’ve got a tame version of the original formula. When you need to amp up the exfoliation (think: after a summer’s SPF day at beach), you can use it straight from the tub. With scrubs, you can soften down the sting of the salt, but can’t get the grit factor back up, which makes this the smart buy. It’s literally adjustable! Oily skins will love the super clean feel on skin left behind after a use or two during the week. And, a little-known fact about such exfoliators: when the skin is well-exfoliated, sunscreens work better. Don’t skip the elbows and knees. Just don’t forget to stir up the pot with your finger or popsicle stick before use. And, a little know ingredient to protect sensitive skin: Seaweed Absolute. The mineral-rich skin-saver is added for good measure.
Full of Grace Serum ($14.95). That’s right – you are looking at a bat not bottle. The ingenious blend of Murumuru and Cupuacu Butters and Almond Oil is thoroughly infused with fresh Roses and actually melts into the skin. Fresh Portobello Mushrooms are the surprise ingredient here; they are rich in Vitamin C and help brighten the skin. Who knew fleshy fungi could good skin food? Not me.
The stiff bar smells largely of the herbal Rose oil added to Chamomile Blue, which is meditative but not overpowering. And, every gal could use a kick of Rose in her skincare as far as I’m concerned.
When used overnight on its own, Grace completely soaks in after a good scrub and delivers instant skin-plumping moisture without any grease or shine. My own trials were pretty easy: total kiddie fun to rub the bar across your cheeks and watch the hardened solid melt as it warms up to your skin. I even dared to microwave the bar a bit (read: 5 seconds) just to use more of the meltingly wonderful serum as a mask, though I wouldn’t recommend this as you just end up nuking the precious essentials oils.
But, try I did. Love, I do. Swirling and slathering is way more fun with the always imaginative Lush.
$35.95 available at Lush.com.
Mango is hard to do. And, faking it with candied oils catches up with most brands as you can’t replicate Mango’s sun-ripened distinctive jammy nectar. Yes, some of have tried; all of have failed. You can smell the difference as Sundari stays true to its Ayurvedic roots by infusing the brightness of Mango into your comfort space with a beguiling scent that becomes so easy to love with its good throw.
The detail is in the bronze candle lid (not shown, but included). You’ll also appreciate the candle’s clean burn and even release of soft, tender nuances. Winter may be on its way out, but every home needs a delightful, clean aroma to refresh. It's traditional, understated, and settles quietly into those welcomed spring evenings.
$38 available at Skinstore.com*.
*15% off with a storewide code happening now.
When 75% of participants in a clinical study say they like Kendi over the leading Argan oil, you’ve got the attention of one staunch oil supporter – me. Yes, I checked this stat with the fantastic team behind Alterna, who shared with me the some details on a newcomer to the huile game.
Kendi oil is collected and ethically sourced from the Indonesian island of Sulawesi; another organic oil that is highly fortified with Omegas 3, 6, 9 and is non-greasy when applied. The oil, which penetrates super speedily, appears to be exclusive to Alterna hair care. And so now, you can see why I’m intrigued.
Alterna’s Bamboo Smooth Kendi Dry Oil Mist ($24) certainly feels much lighter than Argan, which would explain why the huile world hasn’t seen any Argan hair mists lately. You don’t have to be an oil expert to know most of these top notch serums bring a slew of antioxidants from their elemental constituents namely Vitamin E, which works straight onto you frayed ends. It’s a wearable spritz that doesn’t leave your locks looking like a grease monkey, but instead adds a gleam to tied up styles. Organic Bamboo extracts supplement Kendi’s magic by strengthening the hair’s core. And, the mist of free from parabens, synthetic dyes, and pthalates.
Spritz freely and you’ll wish (like me) the tender spring/summer fragrance is what you’d want in a body oil. It’s undeniable, it’s sensual, and it’s resoundingly unlike anything else; the fresh, watery floral notes of White Freesia and Orchid are in equal balance and play off the Lily of the Valley without getting too heady. The Sicilian Lemon quickly fades into the backdrop of some punctuated greens leaving you wanting more of this simply scrumptious scent. When did hair care start smelling so sexy?
Moisture Masque available in the same scent. The nourishing cream is definitely amped with wildly different extracts like Algae, Fennel, Japanese Wasabi, and Carrot Root in addition to the above listed juices. I left it in as a detangler on my fine head of hair and liked the lack of frays after rinsing.
Hair has a nice flounce after using the oil for a few hours, though I’m off to Sephora to snag the shampoo and conditioner as this splashy scent sends me into a roaring flight of fantasy as I sniff away like any good scent fool.
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
And, yet the one I often yearn and reach for every spring is the Fresh Brown Sugar Polish. See, Fresh was a luxury organic brand long before it was cool to be eco-smart. It’s no-nonsense white packaging, accessible CEO and historic pedigree (the brand’s signature treatment – Crème Ancienne – is inspired by ancient monks in a Czech monastery) all made me feel like I was experiencing a sense of luxury that only the Europeans know how to create.
Sugar is an antiquated ingredient; the founders of Fresh pioneered its use in the beauty industry with this scrub. Ironically, it was both of the founders’ grandmothers that used sugar as a natural antiseptic to heal scrapes, and so it made much sense for Fresh to create this proprietary oil-based polish.
There’s a lot that’s rare and precious in Brown Sugar. First off, medium-sized sugar crystals are blended into a base of five nurient-heavy oils like Sweet Almond, Apricot Kernel, Jojoba, Sunflower and Evening Primrose. A nice spa-like scrub is what you’ll get cos’ crystals contain more moisture than white sugar, thus acting as a natural humectant on skin. May I point out that sensitive skins should know there’s a lot of oil in this tub of magic, which allows you to temper down the scruff as much as needed. Scrub at will, if you will.
The gaggle of oils is rich as expected in fatty acids, but Sweet Almond is one to appreciate. According to the February 2010 issue of "Complementary Therapies In Clinical Practice," almond oil has emollient properties, which gives it the ability to rejuvenate and soften the skin, which will even out the skin tone and improve the complexion. While you buff away, you can help shaving nicks and other marks fade faster with consistent use.
The rarer ingredients are what make the umbery coloured scrub a cut above the norm; Ginseng Root extracts and Peppermint energize the skin while Calendula is added to soothe the sore pores from an intense rubdown. I could sputter on about the oils, but let's get to that legendary scent…a whole other inhale to speak of.
The insanely addicting scent is why I go back. I'm pretty confident that a deft hand was used to create this well-crafted blend of citrus oils that fall largely on the accents of Bergamot and Orange essences, which marry wonderfully. Each of the highest quality, together they bring a sprightly sweetness to skin that persists for long after your rinse. Litsea Cubeba complements the fizzy Orange with its sparkly lemony touch giving the scrub a plush yet whimsical scent that makes its rub so, so alluring. Te best part? The gorgeous scent stays with skin.
Online chatter groans say to watch for a slippery tub after using the scrub or even tipping the jar over, but I’ll freely admit to the fact that I had no difficulty with the polish when using it during a bath not a shower. The sugar dissolves onto skin and the oils lay quietly atop allowing the water to bead off and away into the foaming froth. I saw no slip nor slime, though I did make sure to give the sugar a few swirls to mix up the oil. I’ll go as far as to resolutely say use the damn scrub in a bath not a shower; this serves as a hazard warning to nervous users who fear a slip. Be mindful about soaking for a few minutes before exfoliating as allowing the skin to soften will help it shed off easier.
Ahhhh…Fresh…always possessing good taste and imparting true luxury. If you haven't tried it just yet...you'll curse yourself later for waiting so long to do so.
$65 available at Sephora.
I will say this: oils are getting almost as smart as sunscreens. Take Yarok, for instance. The word means “green” in Hebrew. The brand means serious eco-smart business in hair care.
Founded by the in-demand hair stylist Mordechai Alvow, whose work has been featured in authoritative fashion set such as Allure, Elle, InStyle, Marie Claire, New York Magazine and Vogue. In other words, the man knows how to wield the scissory cut of steel and knows exactly what it takes to transform a model’s dry and damaged locks from playful colouring and radical texturing sessions back into top form for the next editorial shot.
Mordechai uses traditional Israeli recipes deeply rooted in organic, wildcrafted
botanical oils and creates an entire line of products designed to replenish hair at its worst. From the all-natural vegan line (free from alcohol, parabens, sulfates and cruelty to animals, try the Feed Your Sunshine Hair Serum ($26); it’s a weightless hair serum thanks to Jojoba as the base, but excellently fortified with proteins, vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, C, E, Choline and Folic Acid from Aloe and scalp-loving gamma-linolenic acid from Black Currant Seed.
Jojoba (close to skin’s natural sebum) can be used as a leave-in conditioner. As a matter of fact, Yarok recommends you take three full droppers and massage throughout the locks to protect from sun, chlorine and ocean salt, which makes this serum the perfect beach accessory. Adjust the amount of oil for longer hair. The brash me actually preserves my highlights from poolside frying by coating the hair with the oil and letting chlorinated water slide right off.
The beautifully scented hesperidic Lemongrass is hard to ignore. Also, blended with Geranium, you’ll like the serum’s fresh cut freshness, which is largely aromatic and leaves hair sweetly scented.
The serum works more like…well a serum and less an oil. An ounceful of oil doesn’t leave your hair looking greasy, but I suspect it’s also because of my longer locks. I will say it’s the refinement in the blend that makes it a seamless serum, working well with ponytails and braids, keeping those face-fringe wispies tucked in nicely. Wash out: with one shampoo rinse and conditioner is optional.
Very pleased to see MordechaiI favour organic oils over high tech hair silicones results, which further proves how botanicals aren’t a novelty to scoff at.
Scent Classification: Citrus
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
The solid reasons to try Acure Organics are aplenty. Buying a bargain can be a crapshoot; one false start can turn you off the oil bandwagon, but once you get through this list, you’ll have a good feeling about the oil and its roots and see how sensible it’ll be to add the Leave-In Argan Oil + Stem Cell Conditioner ($9.99) hair treatment to your arsenal of hair care.
The price; at $9.99 you are getting an extraordinary steal of a deal. No, this isn’t just any old Argan oil bottled up with a nozzle. Skim the ingredients to be impressed; Acai Berry, Blackberry, organic Rosehips and Pomegranate oils are just a few of the potent elements in this wonder treatment.
The science; Added to Argan (the oil and Stem Cell) is d-panthenol, which has a strong and proven moisturizing effect, helps to restore hair structure. And, you see CoQ10, another antioxidant that has been shown to aid in hair growth and repair in numerous clinical studies.
The scent; natural essential oils Lemongrass, French Lavender, Oakmoss and Rosemary provide a harmonious contrast to the initial lemony opening, which quickly makes way for the invigorating intensity of the Oakmoss without rendering the scent too woody nor too masculine. It’s rather an interesting blend that doesn't lose its delicacy...almost coolly unisex. I like it so much, that I start wondering about the wonderfully clean scent in a body oil form. A discreet veil of scent to wear during the day. And, the oil rinses off very quick.
The charity; the family-owned firm was founded to honour the founder’s grandmother, who lost her battle against cancer. Today, Acure donates to Bright Pink and to help provide free mammograms to at risk women.
The question; what are you waiting for?
Scent Classification: Aquatic
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
an ultrafine spritz ($18) that helps keep icky airborne pathogens and bad vibes at bay whether you’re in the office or out and about. It’s almost as if it was made for the reek of New York subways and their riders who deal with the suffocating polluted grit n' grime on their daily commute. Nifty!
Why it matters: First off, because I, like you, am always interested in seeing what people are doing with essential oils. Secondly, because this really is a mood-lifter when stale air and energies sap you out completely. And, nothing wrongly overshadows your mood when a fleeting stink passes under your nose. This tender mist comes in a spray bottle with a portable version for $7. 50 that you can refill. Mist around you, above you, behind you…anywhere where you need some refreshment. And, while New Yorkers will want to bring it along wherever they go, Angelenos will find it perfect to tuck away in their cars for those predictably long evening commutes instead of those tacky car wash mists.
Why it impresses: There are no carrier oils to weigh down the purely organic essences; Juniper Needle, Cedar, Eucalyptus, Rose with natural Grape Spirits. In a flash, you’ll adore the sweet lemony saccharine of Lisea Cubeba’s that’s kept clean and tight with Juniper Berry. And, it ends with Benzoin's soft, vanillic warmth. I didn’t snort any Eucalyptus up in my scent buds, which I feared would turn this a bit more medicinal. Instead, the mist is rather airy, fresh, and pleasing, heck I even used it a body mist and liked it’s unique blend, one that could actually work as a body oil.
Best Tip: On your yoga mat.
Long a favourite of most serious skincare lovers, I do believe the shrewd French do nearly everything right in skin and body care. While I do love a well-balanced Eastern perfume blend with Oud or the Japanese tradition of Bamboo in a scrub, I appreciate how the French wholly infuse an intangible deeply rich spirit in their famed beauty treatments; rare ingredients; sensuous scents that don't overpower and simplistic packaging that manages to captures the convergence of sex appeal and utilitarian need. It’s this ode to luxury skincare that Cinq Mondes imbibes in its celebrated spa and product line.
The Sublime Oil ($56) is one you’d think would run the tab a bit pricey. But, it doesn’t. You can feel good about knowing you’re getting this impeccably blended dry oil that works as wonderfully on skin as it does on hair.
Multi-taskers will appreciate the extremely fine oil that can be sprayed; Fractionated Coconut Oil steps out of Argan's shadow as it's the forerunner choice for dry ends. Scientists have studied the effects of certain oils on hair (such as Coconut, Sunflower, Olive and even the hideously ick mineral). And the results for coconut oil are pretty exciting--it has been shown to actually have the ability to penetrate damaged hair.
Damaged hair is caused in part by the continuous swelling and shrinking of hair fibers as a result of water retention and absorption. In a study, performed by Princeton researchers and published in the "Journal of Cosmetic Science," hair fibers that had been penetrated by Coconut oil were unable to swell significantly. In other words, using Coconut oil will fill up and protect hair from possible damage.
Heat styling anyone? You need this dry oil. Recently, a dear reader (Nikita P.) mentioned she doesn’t have the time to sit and let her semi-curly hair sop up a hair oil for 30-60 minutes I often recommend. With a few spritzes of the Sublime oil, you can wear this oil all day and enjoy its gleaming finish, especially when the tresses will be pulled up, in or back. Free from silicones and parabens, Sublime oil is a gentle and rejuvenating formula with Sunflower Oil and Gardenia Flower and promises to boost fine hair, or tame and smooth coarse stands without added weight. No need to worry about how the oil will wash out: it will and in one quick rinse.
On skin, it’s equally a decadent pleasure as any great French product offers to be. A bright and cheery Grapefruit scent outplays the Gardenia and comes wafting through the natural parfum to your skin. In a short 30 seconds, the oil settles into skin leaving a whispery trail of a light yet fleeting sweetened citrus scent kept at bay.
The minimalist plastic bottle invokes the French spirit of ease and calm. There isn’t even a cap, but rather a discreet plastic doohickey to lock up the spray for when you travel. Less of packaging was spent; more of the pureness of savory oils is what makes this well made oil a tantalizing way to bring the fun of oils to a tight schedule.
With spring afoot, olive skin toned beauties ought to try Sublime on the bare legs for a light-reflecting sheen that imparts a healthy all-over glow.
This is the type of sheer bliss the French are known to embrace.
Scent Classification: Citrus
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
Making an exceptional Cardamom candle means the oil ought to exude a stagey whisper of the spicy sweet scent. Too soft and Cardamom blends away into the air too quickly; too strong and you’ll face the full spicy force of ginger, which isn’t what you even paid for.
From SkinnySkinny comes an idyllic Cardamom Soy Candle; smooth and refined simply because no other essence stands in the way of the refreshingly sweet but piquant waft. The aromatic splendor is quietly inviting. Nestled within the 100% soy wax is the warm infusion of Cardamom essential oil, which swiftly seeps into your surroundings with a stagey whisper; loud enough to be heard, but lady enough to be demure.
Discreet and enchanting, the clean-burning candle offers up a generous throw and fills the room of its intoxicatingly exotic smell. Well suited for men and women alike, the scent will invariably make you feel good; the eco-friendly recycled glass will make you feel even better about buying it.
$30 available at SkinnySkinny.com.
Never heard of Child Perfume Oil ($98)? Well, you’re not alone. Neither had I, until I was doing some reading on Pikake and the subtle ray of dawn this Jasmine brings when compared to others. A growing rank of niche perfumers are taking us away from the exceedingly (read: exasperating) cluttered shelves at Sephora and showing us how essential oils are done right. Susan D. Owens is one such elusive perfumer.
Strikingly suave in a sort of South of France way, Susan is the creatrix behind the cult brand of Child Perfume. And, by cult, I mean Madonna wears it; Jennifer Aniston reportedly stocked up 10 bottles at a time. And, it happens to be the #1 best selling fragrance at Beautyhabit; the jewel apothecary of Los Angeles, which stocks some pretty heavy hitting global brands such as Diptyque, Histories de Parfum, Lubin and Serge Lutens. Now do I have your attention?
How could a perfume oil outsell these iconic brands that prove to have high emotional quotients? Somehow, Child does. With its streamlined bottle, lack of obvious marketing and impish name, that’s quite an impressive feat. And, it’s interesting to note how the roll-on perfume bottle was launched in 1990 well before the current portable fragrance craze we’re seeing now. Every batch is hand blended in the Dallas-based studio and every bottle is hand poured by Susan herself. With a track record of selling out season after season, you might just encounter a waiting list at Beautyhabit. So LA, isn’t it?
Child’s brilliance is indisputable. The pure gem of a perfume oil is a luminous testament to the rarely seen and sniffed Pikake Jasmine, which isn’t of the narcotic kind. Heady yes, but in that fragile, sweet way that purportedly inspires men to come closer for a sniff. Make no mistake as there is nothing young and nubile about the fragrant frenzy found within this ode to white florals.
Lay onto skin the opening thrill of a soft Vanilla and Faint Magnolia with the eloquent bloom of a spring Lilac. As you segue into the heart rather rapidly, the aromatic niceties of Jasmine and Tuberose add degrees of floral complexities before settling into the rose-ringed musk at the base. Delightfully free from artificiality, Child’s striking effect on skin works because of Susan stays faithful to the natural symphony of the accords. Some perfumers would want to turn this into a hearty Tuberose scent, but Susan dismisses this notion and keeps the tension between the two flowers slightly ambiguous.
Immensely gratifying, Child is the recognized dream of any white floral fan. It reminds me of the gracious days of finer perfume making when quality trumped marketing and makers had gumption to go beyond the trappings of those 'on trend' ingredients, race off the commercial perfume grid and give a serious forethought to the actual art of blending. Yes, the good old days...
And, the heir to Child’s crowning reign? Heir is the successor. A spry yet clean cut chypre that is perfectly unisex, Heir is a wearable leather for ladies as well as men. Synergized with light Forest Woods and a dash of Clean Lime the scent feels well-edited. Freshly scented, it’s a classic scent where all three elements fade wonderfully into each other to produce a refined and evocative finish without the snort of any animalic punch.
While most fragrance newbies tire of the faux-celebrity roll-on knock-offs we’re seeing lately, it’s clear the classic Child still remains in the heart of most.
So you can imagine just how thrilled over the moon I was to see Liz launch a line of organic body oils made from Golden Jojoba and Fractionated Coconut carriers. Both are brilliantly indisputable base oils; Jojoba to mimic your very own sebum and Fractionated Coconut to prevent the treatment from going rancid. Interestingly enough, the combo isn’t just for the body and hair, but also for othe face as a make-up remover. If you like that sort of scented thing. And, if you know me…you know I do.
What I see more often that not is that when a body oil is created by a perfumer, the cushiony scents tend to be more experiential and daring. No boring oranges or reticent roses with these niche brands. With premium oils sourced from select corners of the country and beyond, what you end up trying is truly a serious olfactory scent that could rival that of a complementary fragrance; well, minus the sillage, of course.
Subtle balance is what is Liz’s form of art. Pervasive florals have a way with herbs like Sweet Basil and sweet accords play off well against oddballs like Tobacco. It’s almost like Liz listens to the notes…she encourages their bloom personally. That same attention to perfume is what she gave to the Stellar All Over Oils ($35 - $50). The oils are lightweight and leave zero shine.
Bewarned, the trio explored below isn’t for the faint-hearted. No, you have to have gumption to move beyond the straight-laced Lavender. From the collection:
- Little Bohemia: Benzoin lovers finally have their oil. The linger of the resin captures the attention and lingers on with smooth accords of Geranium Rose, Labdanum and touch of Clove. The wonderful notes play off each while Tobacco’s fleeting smoke is buried underneath and offers a contrast to the richness of the sticky sweet opening. Alluring without cloy, it’s wonderful to layer with anything Vanilla.
- Nocturne: My personal favourite thus far thanks to the fresh, dewy and irresistible Rose de Mai. Indescribably luxurious, Geranium Rose deepens the floral expression while Vanilla and Cardamom bring a genteel sort of harmony in a way that is almost meditative.
- Sitting Lotus: Bharat’s Sandalwood sees a new twist with the depth of Cedar and the dry aromatic notes of Vetiver. It’s a beautifully unisex oil meant for both you & him as the last surprise is rooted in a transparent Vetiver that keeps the scent from becoming too manly.
Scent Classification: Varied
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
Having a 34” inseam (don’t hate…) also means I’ve got long pins to scrub up. So yes, I go through more jars and tubs than most of you probably do. But, if there’s one thing I’ve recently learned about using a scrub, it’s that oil-based ones do double duty – they scruff the skin and rub the oil into fresh, renewed skin. A double whammy! And, isn't is a shame so many great ones are largely ignored in the beauty blogosphere?
With Marula hot on trend, readying to dethrone Argan’s popularity ride, African Botanics Detoxifying Salt & Sugar Body Scrub helps you transform the seasonal dull skin into something with glow and leave skin awashed with Marula.
Tests show Marula has higher levels of antioxidants and omega 9 acid than Argan or Grape Seed oil. Both Raw Cane Sugar and Himalayan Salt Crystals (both in fine grain sizes) are blended with sun dappled Neroli and fizzy Grapefruit. The tang of the two essentials is what gives you an uplifting feel when the scrub is used in long, upward strokes and a light hand. And, it's good to keep the oil and aromatics on your skin, if you can, so skip the shower gel and rinse off for super smooth skin ready for strapless dresses.
This makes skin and...me, happy.
$55 available at WoodleyandBunny.com.
I like how Laurie uses the Vitamin-enriched, easily absorbed, highly stable Marula in her base of Red Raspberry Seed, Evening Primrose, Rosehip, Avocado and organic Vanilla infused Jojoba oils. This roster shows just how on trend perfumers are with body care. Seeing her shrewd choice only serves to fuel my fire for fragranced body oils…the issue that has forefront on this blog is how do I get more perfumers to create flanking body oils?! With fragrance tastes so exacting, it just makes common sense. Another rant for another day…
Laurie gets this and uses her lessons of perfumery to create a highly stylized oil that invites repeat sniffings. The ultra-smooth viscosity of the oil feels like a dry oil. It disappears on its slather and doesn’t leave a weighted feel on skin.
And, like the feel, the scent is a first; the list delicious delights may sound a tad heavy, but are actually subtle. A sainted Frankincense comes forth at the opening thrill, but quickly glides into the sensual Orange Blossom playing with a little nip of Black Pepper. The art here is different as the top notes fade quickly into my always favourite Night and Dawn Blooming Jasmines. The sweet fleeting juices of Orange Blossom and organic Blood Orange Peel lend a tender citrus shine as joyfully as the Rose Otto, but Jasmine fans rejoice! The end result on skin is the sensual veil of Jasmine as your last sniff.
I wanted this oil to last as long as possible, which isn’t long in the world of body oils, but longer than most. A brilliant creation, rich, warm flowers are what Laurie knows best. She has created something true special out of her infatuation…something that transforms skin with a decidedly vintage charm.
An unfamiliar perfumer that I’m looking forward to getting know…
Scent Classification: Floral
Viscosity: Ultralight viscosity
The heartbreakingly lovely Pikake Jasmine is a nostalgic tribute to the free-spirited peacocks that once roamed the gardens of the noble Princess Ka'iulani. There isn't much in the way of the the exuberantly pure scent; imagine the wanderlust of Hawaii's tropical warmth blowing over an oceanic breeze with a gentle minerality. Non-fussy with depth, it's not totally aquatic by any means, but enough of an accent to inspire a right kind of spontaneous harmony from its waft.
Makana Candle Studio calls for a different kind of soy mastery. Using only lead-free cotton wicks and phthalate-free fragrances blended with organic oils, the candle burns exceptionally clean and throws with an offensive pitch; one you’d wish was actually catchable.
It’s another way of loving Jasmine with an insatiable passion that never gets enough of its aching fragility.
$26 available at Makanacandlestudios.com.