A Lavender Hat Trick

Whilst I love the smell of lavender, it’s not necessarily something I’d go for when it comes to beauty products. I much prefer something like coconut or vanilla. So it’s a bit surprising that I currently have three lavender scented products on the go. They are all different, and I wanted to share them with you. Here they are:

First up is the Lavender Flower Water by Heritage Store, which I use as a toner. I know some view toners as unnecessary, but I have been using them religiously for years and they are as much part of my beauty regime as my day cream. I used to think that with the  right cleansing product there would be no need to finish off with a toner, but even with the best cleanser and meticulous routine in place, I find that my toner-soaked cotton pad still manages to find that tiny bit of subway grime I have missed. It also gets rid of any residue left around my eye area, where I hesitate to scrub too vigorously with my muslin cloth. That means I need a toner that is gentle, yet effective. And won’t break the bank. This lovely flower water ticks all boxes.

I bought this flower water following a suggestion by one of the sales assistants in WholeFoods. I was reluctant to spend over $30 on a Dr Hauschka toner, and for $6 (for 4 fl oz) this was definitely worth trying out. The ingredients are pretty much what you would expect from lavender water, namely water and lavender oil. Well, it’s actually ‘water that has been vortexed and magnetised to raise the energy to a higher vibration’ that the manufacturers believe to be more beneficial. I’ll just let that stand as it is. You can do your own research on whether water with higher vibrations is more beneficial. I will say this, though: this is a really good product.

Lavender Water

The lavender smell is not overpowering, and the product feels very gentle. It doesn’t dry out my skin or irritate it. The water is dispensed through a spray pump that produces a very fine mist, covering a fairly large area. That means you can use one quick spray to freshen up your face in the heat. The scent of lavender is delicate and doesn’t linger too long. I find this so pleasant to use, and will definitely buy it again once I’m through this bottle. It’s a very pure and very gentle toner at a bargain price. You really can’t go wrong with it.

Next up is the Lavender Body Butter by Whish. I have written about Whish in a previous blog post, where I reviewed their underarm wipes. As I mentioned then, this is not a brand that is as natural as people might think. They do use some good ingredients in their products, but these are mixed in with some questionable ones. Also, on their website this product is described as ‘natural and organic’, but shouldn’t all ingredients be organic for a product to qualify for that? Otherwise it should be ‘made with organic ingredients’. Here are the ingredients:

Water (aqua, eau), aloe barbadensis (organic aloe vera) leaf juice, butyrospermum parkii (organic shea butter), isopropyl palmitate, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) oil, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, cetearyl alcohol, cetearyl glucoside, sclerotium gum, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) extract, oryza sativa (rice) germ oil, oryza sativa (organic rice) bran oil, lentinus edodes (shiitake) extract, algae (organic seaweed) extract, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, limnanthes alba (meadowfoam) seed oil, octyldodecanol, beeswax, rubus idaeus (organic raspberry) juice, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, xanthan gum, fragrance (parfum), citronellol, coumarin, geraniol, hexyl cinnamal, limonene, linalool.

Here’s an interesting article about Phenoxyethanol on the Pai website (a company whose products are fantastic for sensitive skin). Some of it is relevant to the UK market, but it’s still interesting to read. This is just as an aside.

The reason I ended up with this product is because Ricky’s were giving out freebies (it retails at $24 for 5 oz), so I thought I might as well try it. To start off with, I wouldn’t really call this a body butter. The product is not very thick, so body lotion is more appropriate in my opinion. It’s fairly lightweight, absorbs quite quickly and serves basic moisturising needs, but it doesn’t make me feel pampered and it certainly doesn’t feel luxurious. I should probably say that I really like thick body butters, so if you are looking for something very light, this might be more congenial to your preferences.

Whish Lavender Body Butter

The consistency and feel of it reminded me too much of your standard drugstore lotion. The scent is a mix of lavender and vanilla (to my nose, at least) but it has an artificial edge to it. I couldn’t discern any of the almond or raspberry and something about the scent just didn’t sit right with me.

Had I paid $24 for this, I would have been somewhat disappointed. As it stands, I just won’t be purchasing this product. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not awful, and I’m sure lots of people will love it, but I have tried some amazing natural body butters in my time, and this just doesn’t make the cut.

Last but not least we have the Lavender & Wild Orchid Hand & Body Scrub by Shea Moisture ($9.99 for 12 oz), a sugar scrub with shea butter and cocoa butter. I really like Shea Moisture and have reviewed their products before. They use really good ingredients and are socially engaged, which is fantastic. Their products are more than reasonably priced and excellent value for money.

I bought this product primarily to help me drift off at night, as my sleep over the past couple of weeks has been a bit unsettled. The combination with the wild orchid sounded intriguing and there is definitely a ‘flowery’ scent mixed in with the lavender, although I’m not sure I’d be able to tell whether it’s an orchid or not. The product has the consistency of wet sand, and if I’m honest I prefer oilier scrubs, such as the Ila Spa one, which I absolutely adore (available through NuboNau in the USA). The sugar crystals are quite small and don’t dissolve straight away, which is great – I’m not keen on those scrubs that dissolve as soon as they touch your skin. Here’s the beautiful array of ingredients:

Sugar, Safflower Oil*, Lavender Buds, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Jojoba Oil*, Vegetable Glycerin, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil*, Cymbidium Grandiflorum Flower Extract (Orchid), Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower (and) Lonicera Japonica (Japanese Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Essential oil Blend, Calendula Extract, Lavender Oil, Rose Extract, Chamomile Extract *Certified Organic Ingredient

Lavender & Wild Orchid Scrub

Sounds good, right? The scrub moisturises enough to skip the body butter afterwards, but I tend to use mine anyway, out of habit more than anything else. This product is great for smoothing out any rough patches and makes my skin feel soft. There are tiny lavender buds mixed in with the product, so you really get the sense of using something with real lavender, which is why I love natural products so much. You get the real deal, not some fake fragrance concoted in a lab.

Despite my reservations about the oil content, I still like this scrub and will probably buy it again. Although I think next time I will go for the Coconut & Hibiscus one. I am also sleeping better, although that might be linked to the fact that I have recently discovered cider… 🙂

love, lou x



Summer. Sweat. Underarms seeking Rescue.

Okay, let’s talk underarms. Not the most glamorous subject, to be fair…but it has to be done. It’s a million degrees in the city (okay, maybe one or two degrees less) and I can barely make it to the subway without breaking a sweat.

The humidity makes things worse and these are tempting times indeed. Tempting me to forsake all natural deodorants and just reach for the strongest chemical mix I can get my clammy hands on, preferably something that makes my underarms drier than the Sahara desert.

However, I just cannot get myself to be so mean to my underarms. Here’s the thing: I know beauty magazines would have us believe otherwise, but fundamentally there is nothing wrong with sweating. It is a natural way of our bodies to cool down. It happens. And to be honest, I find that I don’t sweat any more now than when I used to apply regular antiperspirants. Maybe it took a few minutes longer to start, but either way I always ended up sweating.

However, whilst I’m (kind of) okay with sweating, I don’t see smelly armpits as a badge of honour showcasing my dedication to green beauty. I don’t want to clear out a room and smugly say, ‘Yup, no aluminium for me guys.’ If I’m going to sweat, I want to at least not be smelly.

I currently have three natural deodorants in my bathroom cabinet, and I wanted to share the pros and cons with you guys.

First up is Lavera’s Basis roll on deodorant ($15.40 for 1.6 oz) with organic calendula and organic aloe vera, promising 24 hours of protection. Lavera is a German company that has been producing natural skincare for over 25 years. Its founder Thomas Haase suffered from allergies as a young man and was always looking for natural skincare alternatives. Lavera products are generally regarded as trustworthy and of high quality in Germany and have received many awards over the years. Apart from their deodorant I have also used a few of their shower gels, as I think they are great value. Their vanilla-coconut shower gel is my favorite. This is not a brand that markets itself as luxury skincare, but they have a great assortment of basic skincare and are definitely worth trying.

Lavera Basis Roll On Deodorant

The deodorant is somewhat ‘medicinal’ smelling with undertones of herbs. Overall I find it to be a fresh scent, and when you first apply it instantly gets rid of any bad odor. Here are the ingredients:

Water, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice*, Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Jojoba Seed Oil*, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Zinc Ricinoleate, Calendula Flower Extract*, Witch Hazel Water*, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Caprylic\/Capric Triglyceride, Fragrance (Natural Essential Oils), Limonene, Benzyl Benzoate, Linalool, Geraniol, Citral, Citronellol, Zinc Oxide

The main problem is that this roll on is very streaky and doesn’t get absorbed quickly, which means that I end up with thick white lines under my arms for about five minutes. Not the best option when I need to get dressed as soon as I have applied it. So I always have to make sure I wait a few minutes and I’m used to this by now. Overall the deodorant lasts quite well, albeit not the full 24 hours advertised. When I’ve had a very early start I found myself smelling less fresh than is desirable around mid-afternoon. Nonetheless, my favourite out of the three – 7.5/10

Next we have ‘Pure Pitz’ by Purely Lisa ($13 for 0.6oz). I had never heard of this product before, but when I asked the sales assistant in WholeFoods whether she could recommend any good natural deodorants, she told me that ‘Pure Pitz’ was a popular choice. This creamy yellow stick is very different to anything I have tried before and I had to rub it in with my fingers, as the stick itself dispenses too much product if I keep moving it around. Once rubbed in the product has a slightly powdery finish. Looking at the ingredients list, it contains baking soda and corn starch, which probably contribute to this. Here’s the full list:

Organic Jojoba Oil, Aluminim-Free Baking Soda, Organic Beeswax, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Proprietary Blend of Organic Essential Oils, Organic Corn Starch, and Vitamin E.

Pure Pitz

The scent on this one is quite light and for the life of me I can’t determine what it is. I was convinced it was peppermint (I assumed it was a peppermint leaf on the front) but my husband said it smelled like lemon. Go figure. Either way, it’s quite delicate and a lot less noticeable than the scent of the Lavera one. Pleasant, though.

What I liked about it was that deodorant was quite moisturizing, even though the application was a bit fiddly. It dries fairly quickly, which is really good. Alas, it was not as long-lasting as the Lavera deodorant.

I have read great reviews about Pure Pitz, but for me it didn’t stand the ‘a full day in New York’s brutal heat’ test. A few hours after application I could pinpoint the moment when ‘Pure Pitz’ lost the will to live and said to itself, ‘Right, that’s me done. I’m outta here.’ By late afternoon I smelled like I’d been backpacking without a shower for a week solid, and to add insult to injury, my top had yellow stains under my arms. Not great.

To sum up, it has good ingredients, is pleasant to wear and very concentrated, so will last you a long time. But it might be more of an option for autumn/winter as it’s not powerful enough – 5.5/10

Finally we have Whish Deodorant Swipes ($7 for a pack of 8 on their website – I paid $8). They are by far the priciest option, at $8 for eight wipes. Ouch! I had heard of Whish before, but have never tried any of their products. The whole design of the brand is a bit too whimsical for me. And it doesn’t quite grab me.

However, Ricky’s were giving out free Whish samples a couple of weeks back, and I managed to bag the lavender lotion (separate post to follow). The sales assistant, who described Whish as a ‘natural’ brand, told me their deodorant swipes were amazing, so I decided to buy them. And, silly me, I willingly parted with my money without checking out the ingredients list first.

Okay, let me tell you about the performance of the wipes first, before I go into a bit more detail about the ingredients. So the scent really didn’t ‘wow’ me. For a supposedly natural product, I thought the wipes (swipes…whatever) had quite an astringent smell. They did leave my underarms fresh, although they stung a bit on application. The lasting power is actually quite good though, and my underarms stayed drier for longer.

Whish Deodorant Swipes

The fact that they are individually wrapped makes them very handy for popping into my handbag. But knowing that I was burning through $1 worth of product every time I wiped my underarms made me break out in a sweat in its own right!

As it turned out, the ingredients are not fantastic, and that’s one of the reasons I wouldn’t buy them again. Here’s the list:

Water (aqua, eau), saccharmyces ferment, larrea divaricata (chapparel) extract, ordenone, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil, propanediol, polysorbate-20, hippophae rhamnoides (seabuckthorn) fruit extract, hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel), algae (seaweed) extract, organic licorice, organic calendula, cucumber, organic chamomile, phenoxyethanol, polyglyceryl-4 laurate/succinate, methylisothiazolinone, citric acid, fragrance (parfum), benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, citral, limonene, linalool

You can see it’s a very different ingredients list to the other two deodorants! They are a couple of ingredients on there I’m really not keen on, and I’m not a big fan of companies using chemicals and throwing in a couple of token organic ingredients so they can highlight them in their marketing. Yes, the wipes contain organic chamomile, but it seems pointless to me.

To be fair, whilst they were sold to me as a ‘natural’ brand, Whish don’t actually use this description on their website. They say they avoid parabens and sulfates, but green savvy beauty junkies know that they are plenty of other harmful ingredients out there. Check out their website and see what you think.

In summary, the wipes had staying power, but the smell and feel of them was quite harsh. They would make a good option for exceptional circumstances though, such as job interviews, as they are easy to use. I have an interview coming up on Wednesday and will probably keep one in my bag.

These are tough to rate. Judging by how long they keep me sweat and smell free, it would be an 8, but everything else is a 3 at best. I’ll take the average and deduct a point for ingredients – 4.5

Lavera is the winner, but I will keep looking for something that’s even better. I already have my eye on something. Any suggestions are welcome 🙂

love, lou x

The Scent of the Tropics – Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Foaming Milk & Body Wash

One of the joys of moving abroad (for me, at least) is discovering a whole new array of natural skincare products that were out of my reach before. I am so thrilled to see that there is a dizzying selection of green beauty products available in the US, which hopefully makes it easier for people to bypass chemical laden offerings. There is so much choice and I have already come across some fabulous brands I have fallen in love with. Today’s post is about the first natural product I bought when we arrived here and how it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I was searching the aisles of Duane Reade for shower gel when I came across a brand called Shea Moisture. I liked the look of their products and the one that appealed the most was their Coconut & Hibiscus Foaming Milk & Body Wash. I spent some time reading through the ingredients list and it sounded pretty good. Amongst other natural ingredients were coconut oil (love coconut!), palm kernel, silk proteins and hibiscus flower extract. And all at the bargain price of $9.99 for 473 ml. Sold.

The hibiscus is definitely stronger than the coconut in my opinion, and it’s such a deliciously sweet tropical scent that I was transported to Hawaiian shores as soon as I opened the bottle. I was already falling in love with this product, and as soon as I tried it in the shower I was ready to make a life-long commitment! Not only is this body wash insanely moisturizing, it also works up the creamiest lather with only a small amount. Sometimes natural shower gels (and shampoos) can be a tad lacking on the foaming front, but the good people at Shea Moisture have absolutely nailed this one. This body wash is a sheer pleasure to use, and I am so amazed what a quality product you get for the money. My body felt moisturized, had a lovely lingering scent and the actual experience of using the product is quite indulgent. I’m so thrilled to have discovered this one – a luxury product without the hefty price tag. Amazing.

A tropical holiday in a bottle :-)

A tropical holiday in a bottle 🙂

Shea Moisture is a family owned company and started in 1912 when 19-year-old Sofi Tucker, the daughter of healers in Sierra Leone, sold her hand made shea butter and African black soap in local villages to support her family (she was a widowed mother). Four generations later, the company continues to make eco-friendly and organic products. Their website is definitely worth checking out – there is so much information on there about the ingredients in their products and their uses. Not only are their products eco-friendly, fair-trade and cruelty-free (yay!) the company also supports many good causes and makes their products at a local factory in Amityville, NY. Just reading their website makes you feel good that there are people out there who have so much passion for natural skincare and really want to give back. And what a legacy.

I can’t wait to try out more Shea Moisture products and already have my eye on the body butters and scrubs. They have also recently launched a cosmetics line (available at Target) that might be worth checking out. Seriously impressed with this brand so far – it makes me glow inside and out 🙂

love, lou x

About this Blog

Hi and welcome to my blog. I am so excited to share with you the things I’m passionate about. After all, discovering the perfect lipstick or most amazing cookie recipe is not as much fun if you can’t tell anybody about it! Life is all about sharing.

This blog started off primarily as a beauty and baking blog, and then I finally, happily and excitedly moved to New York in February 2014. So now you will also see a few New York related things thrown in along the way. Not only am I new to New York, but I’m also new to life in the US – I’m a Greek who was born and raised in Germany and spent the past 17 years in England (talk about identity crisis!).

I have a passion for organic skincare, beauty products, baking, walking around town taking pictures and I have a penchant for bakeries and a good cup of coffee. And I’m a real sucker for conversation. I love talking, I love listening to people and I gladly give my opinion on anything when asked.

So this blog is my coffee break – and hopefully yours, too. Keep dropping in for reviews of beauty products and snapshots of all things pretty, curious and sweet across the city. If I come across a good bakery or an organic skincare range worth shouting about, you’ll be the first to know!

Enjoy! And if you have anything to share, do so 🙂

love, lou x