If you love coffee, or even just the scent of it, let me introduce you to the Barista Bath and Body (B3) line of products. Launched just a few months ago by three businesswomen (a mother, daughter, and niece), unlike many other "coffee-scented" hair and body lines, the B3 products actually do contain the real deal. Free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, it features organic, fair trade coffee, coffee seed oil, coffee extract, or ground coffee within the brand's eight core offerings. Why coffee, you ask? Not only is it a stimulating ingredient, but its acidic pH balance is also similar to our own hair and skin. To find out more about this caffeinated brand, along with a review of a few of the products, just keep reading.
Not only is nail polish pretty much the "It" beauty product these days, but nail art is definitely having a moment. A peep at various beauty blogs proves that you don't need to spend a lot of money (or hold an MFA) to get really cool-looking nails, thanks to Konad.
Simply purchase a nail art set, ($21-$430) which includes all you need to begin: a scraper, a stamp, Konad Special Nail Polish(es), and image plate(s). It's those predesigned image plates ($6.50 each), however, that allow you to have all the fun. (Check them out here and here.) To find out more, just keep reading.
Former fashion magazine editor Katherine Growney grew up on the picturesque island of Hawaii, eventually landing writing jobs in New York City, roughly 5,000 miles east of her hometown. It wasn't until she began working as a beauty editor at Elle that a chat with a fellow staffer began the sparks that eventually would lead to the start of her own business. "I started talking about Tiare Gardenia, Plumeria, Pakalana, and she just gave me a blank stare. I realized the flowers that I had grown up with, that were commonplace to me, most people had never seen, smelled, or even heard of," said Growney.
Thus, the idea for Saffron James Parfums, a line of Hawaiian-inspired scents, was born. (Saffron, being Gowney's nom de plume from her magazine days, and James, her father's name). The current collection includes four tropical scents, with plans to add a candle and body oils in the near future. Interestingly, Gowney is also a trained chef, drawing inspiration for her newfound career in perfumery from her experience with the delicate balances of food flavors and aromas. Find out more about the notes in her perfumes after the break.
Nick Arrojo made his name as a celebrity hairstylist, then graduated to TV fame of his own on What Not to Wear, so the fact that he has his own line of hair and bath products is unremarkable. When I checked his stuff out, though, I was surprised and pleased by its total lack of gimmicky product push and general high quality. The whole collection comes in basic white bottles color-coded to indicate which set they're part of — the moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, for example, both have periwinkle font running down their sides. It's utilitarian but attractive, and your BF won't be ashamed to use it. Everything is simple, sensible, and does exactly what it's supposed to do, which is a relief for people like me who frequently go into product overload.
The thing that makes Arrojo a Bella Brand, though, is his Sweet Patchouli Body Wash ($14). It's like everything that's wonderful about the mesquite scent of an old-fashioned sauna, but with a little crisp apple on top that makes it light, fresh, and unisex. I usually hate patchouli, but I've been tempted to wash my hair with this stuff just so I can smell it all day, and it's utterly different from the cheap, synthetic scents so many body washes have. It makes Mr. Bella smell all sexy, too, and he specifically requested more after the first bottle, which he almost never does. Mr. Arrojo should go into the perfume business next. I'd be first in line for a Sweet Patchouli EDP.
More and more these days, brands are going eco-friendly. But that's not all, as a greater number of these green beauty products are now more affordable than ever.
Enter Vickery and Clarke Natural Apothecary products, which are more than 94 percent natural and free from parabens, petrolatum, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and sodium laureth sulfate. The brand is named in tribute to two female pharmacists, Alice Vickery and Isabella Clarke, who broke ground in their field in 1800s Great Britain. With simple, pure ingredients like ginger, lavender, and clementine in the mix, it's hard to believe that many of the line's beauty and body care products cost less than $5. See what I thought about Vickery and Clarke when you read more
Y'all know Oribe, right? World-famous hairstylist who's worked with everyone from Kate Moss to Jennifer Lopez? Right, that Oribe. I've never been to his Miami Beach salon, but I've brought a little of his salon to me through his line of luxurious hair care.
The collection is extensive, comprising shampoos, conditioners, and styling products for different hair types and textures. I love the packaging not just for its aesthetic value, but for its practicality: In the dark cavern of my shower, I can tell shampoo from conditioner just by feel. (Sounds like a tiny thing, but at 6 a.m., every little simplified step helps.) I've been using the color shampoo and conditioner since dyeing my hair last month, and my color hasn't faded a bit. What's more, the conditioner is pretty much perfect: It smells fresh, it leaves my hair soft without weighing it down, and it's so luxurious that it lulls me into thinking that $39 for a conditioner is a bargain. OK, maybe not a bargain — but I think I've found an addition to my list of products worth the splurge.
Organic is a tricky word. From food to clothing, adding this simple claim may warrant higher prices on beauty items, but it offers no proof of what that really means. Since the US does not maintain standards for organic cosmetics and soaps, it's up to us as consumers to examine any beauty product ingredient list carefully.
However, with Chaé Organics, the botanicals used in the line of skin, body, and even pet care products are 100 percent certified organic or wild-crafted — and they're labeled ToxicFree. To earn this seal, it must have been reviewed and meet all of the requirements of the ToxicFree Foundation. In addition to the label, each certified ingredient has an asterisk helping you better understand what that means.
Learn about the two uses for one of my favorite products from this line when you read more
If the thought of animal-friendly cosmetics conjures up patchouli-scented granola creams, you may want to rethink things. Zelens Skin Science takes them to a level of luxury that's more along the lines of Barneys Co-Op than a bulk food co-op. Designed by plastic surgeon Dr. Marko Lens, the skin care line aims to reduce signs of aging by dosing skin with a blend of 14 antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and other good-for-skin plant-derived ingredients. Those ingredients are delivered through liposomes that mimic the skin's cellular structure, so they replace damaged phospholipids — which in turn helps skin cells reconstruct themselves.
Zelens sent me a few creams to try, and I've become a fan of the Intensive Triple Action Eye Cream. "Cream" isn't the right word, really; it's more of a thick gel. Just a little bit goes a long way in reducing puffiness, and I've seen a definite reduction in the tiny milia since using it. The only drawback? At $160 for the eye cream, luxury doesn't come cheap.
I've gotta admit. When it comes to Sci-Fi, I deserve a "nerd alert" shout out. I've even gone as far as almost naming my cat Dr. Sam Beckett. Any fellow Quantum Leap fans out there?
So, naturally I was intrigued by Satellite 3, a quirky makeup company with an environmental mission, space-age look, and color palettes based on the planets, stars, and comets. It's all a little kitschy, and a whole lot of geek chic.
Founded by longtime British makeup artist (and owner of the London School of Fashion and Photographic Make-up) Glauca Rossi about four years ago, this futuristic line includes cheeky shades such as Absolutely Nebulous, Alien Seduction, and Fly Me to the Moon.
While the company doesn't have retail outlets in the US, their small selection of products are available via the web: Rockets ($29.85), a lipstick held in a spacecraft device; Rocket Fuel ($11.18), a selection of lipstick refills; Saucers ($46.66), a compact duo for blush and eye shadow; and Saucer Fuel ($14), for what else? To replenish your Saucer. Beam me up!
From Russia with love comes this covetable cosmetics brand, Rouge Bunny Rouge. The two-year-old label is inspired by fairy tales (much like Paris Hilton, it seems), but it's not cutesy, thanks to the gorgeously dark packaging. Featuring a Victorian bent, it's heavy on floral outlines and black-and-white contrast — kind of like a Disneyfied take on Kara Walker's silhouettes.
The line contains the usual suspects — foundation, lipstick, eye shadow — along with a few new classes like push-up cheek stains and under-eye illuminators. (Coughtouche eclatcough.) And although it's soon branching out from Poland and Singapore to countries such as England and France, it'll be a while before the line hits the United States. Have any of you world travelers tried it out, or are you content to look from afar like me?