Here is a balm worthy of accolades.
This is one beautifully fresh, soft and modern balm with a roster of ingredients that almost made us cry. Almost. In sheer glee? It’s almost as though some the God of balms above heard our prayer for a stick of dreams. It’s Lipstock ($15).
It's American made.
The balm is hand-crafted fresh in small batches as to preserve the integrity of A-list organic oils. Your lips will be will be enthralled by the delectably soft nature of this balm. Lipstock contains no fatty fillers, obnoxious toxins, or lab-created chemicals with hard-to-decode ingredients. The sweet, candied lip balm is a cure all for any dry patches of skin from harsh treatments, patchy lips, and even as an intense under eye treatment (we swear it plumped up fine lines within days compared to our eye cream). In it, you’ll find USDA certified: grapeseed, watermelon seed, avocado, cranberry, black raspberry, and pomegranate oils delicately woven through tenacious waxes, which help give the balm its body.
Watermelon seed oil is cold-pressed from sun-dried watermelon seeds extracted from the rinds of melons. Watermelon seed oil is rich in vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids (Omega 6 and 9)—so rich in fact, that some consider the oil to be an “active" ingredient in its own right. It helps to restore elasticity to the skin, making this ideal for dry, oily, acne-prone or maturing skin. In other words, this is one emollient oil perfectly designed by nature for all skin types. Lend the watermelon oil to the medley of nourishing oils, and the ingenuity is complete with a confectionery style wrapping.
Lipstock is what a lip balm should have been all along - minimalist in materials and a maximalist in treatment.
It’s like a aromatic smackdown. Trying to find interesting things about your favorite essential oils. While we don’t debunk any apocryphal urban legends here, we did find five things you may not know about essential oils:
- Neroli oil, or "orange blossom," is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market. It takes 1,000 lbs. of orange blossoms to make one pound of Neroli oil. This serene, enveloping oil is used to ease anxiety, depression, insomnia, and given its wonderful aroma, it can even be considered an aphrodisiac.
- Captain James Cook first mentioned tea tree oil in 1772 during his voyage to Botany Bay, Australia. He and his crew made a tea from the leaves to prevent scurvy. Tea tree oil's healing properties are aplenty. Not only is it a natural immune booster, but it also fights off infection. It works to heal skin conditions, burns and cuts and helps to soothe and treat cold sores, respiratory conditions, muscle aches, the flu, Athlete's foot and dandruff.
- In the 1920s, French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse coined the term "aromatherapy." The story goes that during an experiment, Gattefosse burned his hand and had nothing nearby to soak it in except lavender. Apparently the lavender quickly healed the burn, spurring him to begin research on the science behind essential oils.
- Our complex sense of smell is the only sense directly tied to the limbic area of the brain, which is considered the emotional control center. As such, when essential oils are inhaled, they go directly to the brain. Our remaining four senses -- taste, sight, touch and hearing -- are first routed through the thalamus before reaching designated areas of the brain.
- Essential oils are natural, potent healing agents because they transport oxygen to the cells, which trigger profound restorative & regenerative effects. Each represents a form of knowledge; a sustentative story in the art or aromatics. It is safe to say that most of them are anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-infectious, anti-tumoral, anti-parasitic, anti-toxic, and antiseptic in some way, shape and form.
Tidbits aside, perhaps, someone can explain why we still cannot find our perfectly pumpable, gardenia body oil? The search continues...
A fresh flush of colour. Can signal a girl’s innocence. An indiscriminate thought. Whatever the secret, every lady looks all the more enticing with a delightful kiss of colour on her cheeks. It’s why we think Tarte Cheek Stain ($30) in the Natural Beauty shade should be your perfect pick-me-up summer blush.
Though it's billed as gel tint, this tantalizing rouge is a highly pigmented one that blends seamlessly with fingers. We draw attention to this particular colour, as its first ingredient is actually sunflower seed oil. Say what? You didn’t think some of your coveted beauty products were created with natural oils? They sure are, missy. Many beauty brands have carefully constructed gems that infuse a dollop of natural essences to every day beauty wares, if the thought of using pure oils still frightens some of you.
Natural beauty is a sort of burnished rose - not pink not red, just perfectly flushed - suitable for most skin tones from fair to wheat. Do use a soft hand or a foundation brush for a seamless finish over the apples of your cheeks. Try slicking it over lips for a juicy, tinted balm with or without liner. And, rest easy knowing the perky sunflower seed oil brings your skin high amounts of essential fatty goods (i.e. linoleic acids) to help moisturize, regenerate and condition the skin. Fast fact: the amount of linoleic acid (which slows aging) in skin declines with age and can be stripped by harsh soaps and cleansers. And, trust Tarte to give you one giddy blush without parabens, synthetic fragrances, or petro-chemicals.
Your cheeks will beg to wear this organic duality of an effervescent colour and nourishing treatment again and again.
Africa is a world out of time. From the remote hilly regions of Southern Africa, grows a obscure but mighty tree – the marula. With legendary healing properties, hand-pressed extracts from the tree bring a dense oil weighty in Vitamin E. It’s this nectar that makes for the full bodied Persephenie Neroli Infused Organic Body Oil ($38). The addition of cult fave absolute Neroli to Marula Oil attenuates the deep character and makes Persephenie’s Body Oil a serious contender for huile-istas who prefer a no-nonsense, deftly viscous oil.
Marula oil repairs the skin’s barrier function and stimulates the synthesis of collagen. It’s proven to render free radicals – those nasty air elements primarily responsible for cell aging – harmless. It boosts the skin with valuable moisture for a supple feel thanks to having a high fatty acid content. The oil spreads easily, though for the price and size, we’d bet our 1.7 oz bottle would empty out in just under a month. It’s a heavier oil, with a pronounced body, ideal for using it on dehydrated nooks n’ crannies such as feet and elbows. The oil shows a precise style, at the same time elegant and aerial, displaying finely etched accords of orange blossoms.
The nimble balance between the floral Neroli and aromatic Marula draws you in for one superb overnight treatment.
The one thing that gets us excited over the moon is seeing scientific facts to back up basic beauty claims. With one of us being a marketer, it’s easy to overlook the glossy packaging and publicity pitches and get to the heart of a body treatment oil. Our faithful 5 readers did ask us, what the heck is the difference between an essential oil and a carrier one?
It’s simply an oil that carries an essential oil deeper into the skin. Carrier oils are often vegetable oils, derived from the fatty portion of a plant (usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts).
Essential oils are volatile components concentrated in the plant. This oil is the source of the smell and taste of plants, flowers and fruit. Because highly concentrated essential oils are so potent, if they are used undiluted, they may incur irritation on sensitive skins. Thus, a carrier oil is added to diluted the harshness of our favourite essential oils. Keep in mind, carrier oils – think sweet almond, grape seed, avocado, olive, sesame, evening primrose, jojoba, macadamia nut, and coconut oils – do offer therapeutic benefits in addition to the essential and/or botanical oils in your choice of huile. Inert they are not. Very much nutritious like your preferred essential/botanical oils.
Carrier oils may go rancid over time, but essential oils do not. Instead, essential oils "oxidize" and lose their therapeutic benefits. Most carrier oils have a faintly sweet, nutty aroma. If you come across a body treatment that has a strong, bitter aroma, the carrier oil likely has gone rancid.
There you have it. The mystery of nature debunked one oil at a time.
In the 90s, I easily resisted the Diptyque candles rage. Sure, the serene ambiance provided by pristine white candles became the choice for celebs and decorators alike. But, now that I have whiffed the Diptyque Huile Precieuses ($78) body oil, I’d say in this case, the skin care regime outshines the decorative accessories. For me, at the very least…
The oil is a carnal, erotic one. While the sweet almond oil soothes, the argan oil nourishes deftly. But, it’s the Macadamia Nut oil that takes the center stage. Layered in between the idyllic iris notes, is a complex, sultry construction of 3 rejuvenating oils to make one extraordinarily emollient oil, but smartly lacking in viscosity. Yes, it’s a wispy thin veil of oil. Not weighty in shine or heaviness, but definitely in an effusive cedar scent.
Science shows macadamia nut oil has been long valued by Hawaiians for its ability to protect, soothe and condition the skin. It is the best plant source of palmitoleic acid. The high content of palmitoleic, oleic, omega fatty acids and squalane (which boosts the skin's ability to naturally regenerate, nourish and hydrate the tissue) makes this oil an effective antioxidant, because it protects the skin's cell membranes from free radical damage, much like how our natural sebum does. Did you know palmitoleic acid declines with age? Recent research indicates palmitoleic acid is also an effective antimicrobial on the skin's surface [Skin Pharmacol Appl Skin Physiol. 2003 May-Jun; 16(3):176-87]. Yes, we hate these horridly punctuated references to periodicals, but insist, when science speaks, we listen.
An intriguing note...our friends at Wild Beauty suggest you be forewarned if you have any nut allergies, as you may experience an allergic reaction to body oils using essences extracted from nuts. And, yes, shea butter is derived from a nut.
Diptyque Huile Precieuses is a such beguiling, elusive oil that we can’t help but splurge on every once in a blue moon...
Pregnancy, much like a body oil, is an intimate and personal experience; what is a memorable occasion for one woman is painful and utter regret to another. The right body can relax the intense emotions and inner workings, but it can as well be reason to question every little scent & note fearfully.
As most natural and organic body oils contain essential/botanical oils, our fabulous 5 asked us if they’re okay to use during pregnancy?
Dr. Marjori Greenfield says, “It's wise to be wary of aromatherapy and essential oils during pregnancy because not a lot is known about them. Some substances do transfer through the skin and could be harmful for the fetus if they got into your circulation.” But, most aromatherapists agree that vast majority of essential oils are perfectly safe for use during pregnancy because you are not applying or using the pure essential oil since it is likely to be diluted down within the formulation from its potent pureness.
The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy says there are some oils (such as argan, lemon, bergamot, rosewood, chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, jasmine, lavender, tee tree, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood, ylang ylang) that are believed to be safe during pregnancy. However, there are certain oils, which one would either avoid (even when diluted) or use with a physician’s approval – think basil, cinnamon, clove, peppermint, rosemary and thyme.
Stretch marks? In published medical research, the combination of Gotu Kola extract, Vitamin E and collagen hydrolysates was shown to decrease the risk of stretchmarks by 39% compared to placebo treatment. [Mallol J, Costa D, Belda M, Sola M. Prophylaxis of striae gravidarum with a topical formulation-- a double blind study. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 1991,13(51-57).]. In other words, yes, any essential body oil rich in Vitamin E will most definitely reduce the appearance of those unsightly track marks.
We’d like to think a nicely grounded face and/or body oil is comfort food and nectar for the soul…both of them.
It’s a sunny afternoon. I see nippy little buds beginning to blossom from the trees around. They say spring showers bring May flowers. For me, the transition conjures up a sensory journey through memories of first sniffs.
And, then the whiny rant begins…don't get me started on the few dusky hours I spend sniffing my modest jasmine blossoms before they wither away in silence. Fine, if not the dignified jasmine, why can't anyone get gardenia right? See, gardenia is one of my all time favourite notes in just about any product. And, as any devoted olfactory novelist knows, nary a perfumer who can distill the scent from the flower. Ever.
It’s an extraordinary oil that can combine the hearty notes of gardenia and jasmine in camellia oil. Lierac Laboratories Sensorielle Multi-Use Oil ($34) is a plentiful body treatment for face, body and hair. With such dignified oils, how can you not expect a sublime, sensory experience second to none? The natural antiseptic properties of the indigenous gardenia oil (loaded with methyl salicylate) ensure an intense protection of the epidermis and the scalp against mycosis (persistent dry redness, rashes) and dermatitis. In other words, dryness begone. There is a sincere attention to detail in this white floral infusion. Gardenia is a well-trodden scent; often blending seamlessly with cinnamon leaf, citrus oils, clove bud, jasmine, neroli, rose otto, tuberose, and ylang ylang for a variety of other healing remedies. The 24-hour hydration promised by the oil has the tried n’ true argan, grapeseed and sweet almond oils – all rich in essential fatty acids to re-texturize your skin.< But, new to my obsession is the light, sweet, nutty Hazelnut oil, which is comprised of 85% unsaturated fatty acids. Rich in calcium, vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6, Hazelnut oil has proved to be very effective in tightening the skin, thereby acting as a superb toner for the skin. It also helps in the regeneration of cells and strengthening of capillaries.
The oil is almost like the perfect, imagined new scent. Just in time for a flirtatious spring fling.
Pssst...you…with those dry, flaky puckers.
Ok, so you got a drawer full of oil-based balms, but your kisser still ain’t as smooth as silk? Scrub up with Fresh Sugar Lip Polish ($22). Now, we know…a few of you will flair your arms about and argue 'why not toss a sprinkle of white table sugar into a tub of olive oil and save some bucks?'
We say...why bother when you can harness several prolific oils at once to soften your kisser:
- Molasses for doing away with melanin, which causes pigmentation in darker skins
- Jojoba oil which gets rid of excessive dryness
- Castor oil helping penetrate deep into the skin thanks to its itsy bitsy molecular mass & fatty fat acids
- Grape seed oil for its potent antioxidants, which diminish free radical and sun damage
Rub–a-dub-dub, my lady.
The one thing any grand oil addict fears is to be nasally offended by some Huile de Cheap, bottled in plastic packaging with a pop-off top. It's usually some headache-inducing, sticky scented, happy-go-lucky disgrace snatched from some bargain bin basket in the corner of a mall cart. For many, myrtle is such the experience; it’s no wonder many cringe at first whiff.
Amala Detoxifying Body Oil ($48) is a refined cornucopia of 3 gracefully distilled, organically harvested oils to address lifeless, dull skin:
- Myrtle (to cleanse and condition skin while removing impurities)
- Fig (to deeply hydrate)
- Sea algae (to tone and smooth skin).
Algae oils are concentrated sea minerals, rich in B vitamins, to firm and tone. Potent omega fatty acids minimize redness and inflammation. Vitamins A, C, and E along with hydrating sea minerals, help repair environmentally damaged, sensitive skin and restore a radiant glow. The faint myrtle scent adds a clean, citrusy depth to what otherwise could have been a bored & bland body oil. A pick-me-up for drab days, the sheer texture blends seamlessly into skin, so much so the zesty oil was light enough to use on our face overnight. Amala Beauty is one triumphant industrialist for cultivating purely organic plants, which are grown in their ideal habitats. Such harvesting encourages their essences to reach peak potential.
An austere body oil that is sweet, comforting, and pure.
I can certainly sympathize with those of you who are experiencing balm fatigue. It seems everyone from mainstream brands to out-of-home organo-chicks are coming out with an all-natural lip treatment, chock full of hearty butters used ubiquitously in seemingly every other new balm that comes out. Yes, lovelies...it takes quite a mighty balm to slick these lips.
The latest iteration of the classic tin balm is by the highly revered beauty brand – Guerlain. The Terracotta Baume Au Coeur High-Shine Soothing Lip Balm ($30) is a softly textured lip treatment that guarantees an ideal moisture base for dehydrated lips. We can already see huile haters lining up to protest against this newcomer for using a commonly misaligned oil. But, lest we forget it is listed 4th down the roster of ingredients. Pay no heed to its inert function, as alongside the wild mango butter is a robust dollop of marula oil to nourish those pouty puckers.
The Marula tree is one of the great trees indigenous to Southern Africa. Every part of the tree is utilized for an incredible variety of domestic needs (fruits, liqueurs, kernels, bark, and even leaves). But, important to us is how marula oil has been shown to have free radical scavenging properties higher than most oils on the market. Easily absorbed, high proportions of oleic acid, as well as the essential linoleic fatty acid, have been shown to improve skin hydration, skin smoothness and reduce redness.
This ethereal lip balm provides a subtle glaze of colour with a creamy scent. Not quite vanilla, not quite rose, but quite all right for the olfactory aficionado in me. Rose Venus made my lips look natural, but better. Though I’ll say I find myself using it (more often than not) over my MUFE #3 lip liner.
A sensationally sheer synergy of hydration while protecting skin against environmental factors.
Dry body oil (most often in spray form, but not always) is actually an oil that you just spray on your skin. A veil of mist helps the oil-based treatment spread evenly across long limbs and lean arms, leaving a non-greasy, almost demi-matte yet softly scented finish.
The effortless glint is result of one of its key ingredients: cyclomethicone. It’s the component that leaves the skin feeling soft and silky once you apply the dry oil. Cyclomethicone is a versatile substance consisting of unmodified silicone, which gives is that ‘slip’ of a feel. Scientists say the molecules cannot be absorbed past the upper skin cells because they are too large. Thus, the dry body oil attaches to the top layer of the skin to assist the moisturizing components adhere to the skin such that they might be absorbed and fortify skin with nourishing ingredients. It is called dry because it is a lighter type of oil that leaves a satin, rather than slick finish.
Most dry body oils contain fresh accords of essential and/or botanicals (think jojoba oil, shea butter oil, and vitamin E oils). These can add to the health of your skin by providing ultraviolet light protection and thereby avoiding damaging sunburns. Fret not, lovelies – using dry oils is no different than any other spray. Just point and shoot. Spray the oil over any body area from your head to toe. If you are likely to apply it to your face, make sure to take precautions such that it doesn’t get in your eyes. It is not that versatile of the substance.
Achieve the best results by pouring a dry oil right after showering. Just spray on a thin layer and allow the remaining water on your body to lock in the added moisture for a multisensory experience. An added perk of a great dry oil spray is that it can also be used to soften and moisturize your hair. Because of cyclomethicone, dry oil sprays can penetrate the hair shafts and bring in elements that will give hair that desired glossy feel and look.
In a desperate quest for some action, you’ve sprayed layers of dry oils, doused yourself with kitchen oils, and even a took drunken booty call from a heavy, mineral based Pond’s cream.
Josie Maran’s Moisturizing Argan Stick ($22) is one way to fill the gaping void left behind crafty body oils, which sometimes need time to absorb. Let’s face it – most of us slather our face and body oils at night, as very few have down time in your 6 am mad dash to join the commuting masses. This is snobbery, we say. A true huile-ista can do both. And to do so, the Argan stick is that perfect, multi-functional oil-in-a-stick, which allows you to treat flaky dry spots (elbows, knees, and even unsightly calluses), with intoxicating Argan oil. A tender, caring oil stick which spreads with a feathery ease encased in a utilitarian, recyclable tube to make travel easy. Eco-gals will love the chemical-free, sulfate-free, synthetic-free formulation, making this a squeaky clean spread for sensitive skins.
So, you got the 411 on Argan’s basics, but here’s why we can’t get enough of the stuff. In addition to high amounts of essential fatty fixatives, it also contains up to 90% of tocopherols. Translation: tocopherols are responsible for the impressive effectiveness of Argan oil as natural antioxidant. It is particularly these “guardian angels,” which are in charge of protecting all valuable unsaturated fatty acids against the destruction by free radicals.
Dr. Peter Schleicher writes (in his book, Argan Oil): “Argan oil seems to be a guarantor for cell rejuvenation and therefore a veritable fountain of youth.” Healthy, flawless and taut skin (as that of the legendary Berber women, who hand press Moroccan grown, Argan nuts into the marvelously decadent oil) is an obvious hint at their use of the nutritious oil on a regular basis.
So say goodbye to a rushed skin care regime and hello to your in-transit treatment goodie.
If there’s one debate that stirs up a tone of snide and at times vulgar contempt between two beauty bloggers (K and myself), it’s the compulsion for veil-like body oils or pocketing a waxy, stick form for spot treatments. Fair play aside, the oil the wins either way. We’ve got many favourites from both worlds, but thought perhaps our fabulous 5 readers may not know about the differences. Ours is a haphazardly-conducted quest, but a quest nevertheless. So, we ask you, stick or slick?
Both solid and liquid forms of oils allow for a esoteric cornucopia of lushly rich essential and/or botanicals. First off, yes, your oil-based treatments can come in solid form. We like to think of these as high calorie treatments, concentrated in potency. A tip off for selecting a high grade, nearly organic treatment should be the fancy roster of ingredients. Those ingredients used in the highest concentrations will be listed first, with least concentrated ones listed towards the end. The benefits of solid oil products is that it doesn’t spill and allows for application on the go, making it ideal for carrying around in purses and gym bags. And, you’ll have some neat choices for packages, like little retro tins or miniature apothecary jars. Above all, stick forms serve as intense spot treatments (think dry patches on face, elbows, knees, and feet). This is the immediate reward for ladies using retinol or undergoing those harsher, in-office derm procedures, which may leave behind flaky patches on the face.
The base of the oil (sometimes referred to as balms) is a blend of soft butters, oils and waxes. Coconut, apricot, and argan oils are a commonly seen bases when creating semi-solid face and body oils. These are often used for softening and moisturizing and easily are absorbed by the skin. [Hint: coconut oil should not be confused with the fractionated or light coconut oil, which is highly refined and lacks substance. Fractionated coconut oil is less pricey than many other oils (it's comparable to sweet almond oil), and offers a very long shelf life, hence its preference by manufacturers.]
These oils may be solid at room temperature and bring a heavier texture, so they need to be blended with other oils or used only for very small areas. If you see the gratuitous mineral oil, fret not. Though, we can't think of a single oil here that contains a dollop of it. Beeswax (the purified wax from the honeycomb of the bee) must be one of the most misunderstood and sometimes vilified cosmetic ingredients. Some people immediately call to mind a picture of a heavy and very solid wax when thinking of beeswax. This is incorrect as beeswax does a sterling job as a thickening agent, emulsifier, and humectant. It is emollient, soothing and softening. Beeswax also adds a structural element, which helps semi-solid oils stay soft. The skin does not absorb beeswax, so it therefore creates a protective barrier for the skin and lips, thereby retaining moisture in those areas.
Whether you like a stick form or like to slick it on, know this – face and body oil treatments will be just as zesty, invigorating in either form complete with subtle notes of existential yearning without the hint of regret. The choice is yours...meow.
There are basically two kinds of body oils.
In the first, sublime oils bring a nutritional multitude of benefits for skin issues. Deeply hydrating, chock full of fortified ingredients, though often lacking in a distinguishable fragrance. In the second, the oil is like a sachet of exotic florals laced in delicate compositions, creating a haughty veil of fragrance. Airy in feel, ingredients most likely organic, these oils end on an addictive note. And, yes, still nourishing.
Cardamom Amber Oil by Red Flower ($44), a richly musky oil, belongs to the latter. The love for a deeply regenerative oil never fizzles. But, when a girl wants to flirt with a purely fragrant journey, Cardamom Amber oil is a lofty treatment, which transports you away like a frothy Calgon commercial. Spritz the oil to waft through a fragrant symphony of cardamom, bergamot, rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, sandalwood, patchouli, vetiver, black pepper, sweet orange and apricot oils. Wonderfully delightful, the light-handed spicy overture leaves little room for any amber underpinnings, but does leave skin sweetly scented. Interesting to us is how cardamon oil is widely appreciated for its stimulating effect (boosts up spirit in cases of depression, fatigue, etc.) A single girl’s perfect Friday night companion. The sensuality of the oil is all encompassing; a tickle-me-to-the toes kind of experience, though the honeyed scent is fleeting for most. A winner in packaging, as we often wish more of our oils came in spray form for easier applications. Like most dry oils, it disappears upon application, leaving no trace of shine.
A floral fusillade that warms up just right.