Getting Balmy AGAIN!

The Clean Slate and Amazon After Dark Cleansing Balms

I will start off telling you that I love both of these balms, but they are quite different.  I absolutely love a cleansing balm, especially in the drier winter months.  I did an in-depth post on cleansing balms a while back and you can read it here.  You can read about what ingredients you want to avoid in mainstream cleansing balms and what to look for in healthier alternatives. Continue reading “Getting Balmy AGAIN!”

Do you need a Vitamin C Serum?

Vitamin C Serum Review

I have tried out several Vitamin C formulas over the last few months.  It seems to be the hot ingredient of the moment, but there are many varieties and formulations on the market and it gets quite confusing.

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Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant naturally found in our skin in both the epidermis (outer layer) and the dermis (layer just underneath the epidermis).  As we age, however, the levels decline in both layers.  Levels may also decrease with stress, excessive exposure to UV light and pollutants such as cigarette smoke and exhaust.

We all know the importance of Vitamin C in our diet, but why do we need vitamin C in our skin care?  Can it:

Lighten Scars √

Help with Hyperpigmentation √

Reverse Sun Damage √

Give You Younger Looking Skin 

Fade Dark Spots √

Vitamin C has a host of benefits for our skin.  It can improve clarity, stimulate collagen, and minimize melanin production to even out your skin tone and brighten your complexion.  The antioxidant property of Vitamin C has also been shown to protect against damage caused by free radicals.  It has also been shown to help with wound healing and regulating the synthesis of collagen.  All good things, right?

Before I continue, I want to explain something.  There is a term thrown around ALL THE TIME, but do you know exactly what it means?  Let’s pause for a mini science lesson.

FREE RADICALS

Exactly what is a FREE RADICAL? This is an overly simplified description, but I hope it answers the question adequately.  Our bodies are made up of molecules.  Most of these molecules contain an even number of electrons.  We can talk about atoms and covalent bonds and you can have flash backs from your high school or college chemistry classes, but I will spare you that trauma!  The gist is, when some molecules react with oxygen, which happens daily, there can be a break in the electron bond and you have all these unpaired electrons going off on their own.  They don’t like to be alone, (does anyone?) so they scavage the body trying to find another electron to become a pair.  During this search, they become very reactive and reek havoc on other cellular components like the DNA or cellular membrane.  They can pull electrons from other molecules, which further destabilizes that molecule.  This becomes a domino effect and can damage cells.  This can further lead to mutations, etc which can cause disease and aging. Our bodies defense system against these free radicals is ANTIOXIDANTS.  Antioxidants can safely interact with free radicals and terminate the reaction before important molecules or components are damaged.  They are able to give electrons to free radicals without becoming destabilized themselves, thus stopping the destructive chain reaction. Of course all of this is oversimplified, but I don’t think you parked on this page for a full on chemistry lesson.  If you did, I am really sorry, because I hated chemistry in college!

So, back to the blog post.   What are the issues with Vitamin C?

The problem with Vitamin C is that it is quite unstable and degrades quickly once it comes into contact with water, heat and oxygen.  This makes formulating it into skin care a bit tricky.  It also has to be at the right pH (≤3.5) for it to be absorbed by the skin.   The quicker it is absorbed into your skin, the less likely it is to oxidize and therefore lose its potency.  This acidic pH can make it irritating to many people, especially those with sensitive skin.  When choosing a product, make sure it is in a dark, glass container with a closed delivery system to maximize efficacy.

There is also some scientific evidence that Vitamin C can act as a “pro-oxidant” if it is oxidized or comes into contact with metals, meaning that instead of fighting free radicals, it may generate them.  Metals, such as iron, are found in our water and air.  Therefore, if your vitamin C mixes with water or air that contains lead, it will act as a pro-oxidant rather than an antioxidant.  I feel the benefits of Vitamin C far outway this possible risk.

Another issue with Vitamin C in skin care is determining the correct concentration.  There are many opinions on this topic, but the majority seem to agree that 10-20% is the most effective concentration.  The key is finding a concentration that your particular skin can tolerate and actually achieve results.

There are different forms of Vitamin C that you will see listed on labels.

  • Ascorbic Acid (L-Ascorbic Acid)
  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Sodium Ascorbate
  • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate
  • Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP)
  • Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (THDA) or Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside
  • Ascorbyl Glucosamine
  • Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate

You can use Vitamin C in the morning or at night with your regular skin care routine.  It is usually recommended to use it in the morning so it can protect your skin from all of the environmental stressors you may encounter and you get that great sun protective effect.

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I have experimented with 3 different formulas over the last 6 months.  The first is the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster.  This product is in a powder form so it maintains its potency until the moment you are ready to use it.  It contains 3 ingredients:

  • Organic Tapioca starch (from the root of the Cassava Plant)
  • L-ascorbic acid
  • Ferulic acid

 

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The tapioca starch works as an exfoliant, hydrator and skin healer, while the ferulic acid is an antioxidant found in plant cell walls that works really well with Vitamin C. In fact, the Vitamin C has been shown to double the photo protection of the ferulic acid.  It is one of the purest and most potent formulas out there.  When mixed with a serum, you get about a 10% concentration of L-ascorbic acid.  It activates once you mix it with a liquid. You can mix it with your serum, face oil, sunscreen or whatever else you put on your face.   It comes in a small amber glass bottle with a shaker top.  It is the perfect size for traveling.  I mix a shake or two with my True Botanicals serum.  It mixes easily and there is no mess.   I have also mixed it with other serums, oils, or face balms and it works just as well.  My skin tolerates this formula really well.  I don’t get any dry patches or redness.  What I do get is healthier looking skin.  It truly gives me a glow and helps even out my skin tone.  It helps fade scars.  I have always been a blemish picker and this really helps fade any residual marks that have been self-inflicted.  UUgh!  You can check out the TB Vitamin C Booster here.

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Another formula that I use is the Ursa Major Vitamin C Serum which comes housed in a black Miron glass pump bottle.  This is the lightest formula of the ones I tested.  It uses a relatively stable, naturally derived water-soluble form of Vitamin C, ascorbic acid polypeptide, at a 1.5% concentration.  This serum is a perfect fit for those with sensitive skin due to the inclusion of rose and soothing aloe juice base. It also contains aspen bark for gentle exfoliation, rosehip which helps with skin discolorations, edelweiss for its potent antioxidant power,  as well as shea butter and sunflower seed oil for hydration.

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This formula is very light weight, non greasy, and works well under makeup.  It definitely made my skin brighter and hydrated.  The texture and light fruity scent make it an easy choice.  I received this serum in a subscribtion box as well.  You can check out the Ursa Major Vitamin C Serum here.

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The last formula I have used is the Odacite, An Autumn of the World 15% Vitamin C Serum.  This is a potent Vitamin C in the form of Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate and it is combined with some extra virgin precious oils including Acai, Passion Fruit, Meadowfoam, Carrot, Raspberry, Pomegranate, and Rosehip Oils.  It comes in a black glass bottle with a dropper.  The potent antioxidant properties and omega 5 fatty acids in these oils help make this a super charged serum for fighting against the elements.  This particular form of vitamin C is the latest development in Vitamin C and has been shown to be 5 times more potent than other compounds.  It is lipid-soluble, so it has a higher rate of penetration into the deeper layers of our skin where collagen production takes place. This serum is the most expensive of the 3 products I own, but luckily, I subscribed to the Detox Market monthly subscription box and this was the first product they sent out.  If you haven’t checked out this box, please take a moment to check it out here.  This serum was created for a private client and is part of the Odacité, Private Collection.  

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I find that this product is the strongest of the 3 and a little goes a long way.  You only need to add 2-3 drops and you can apply it straight to your skin or mix it with other products.  When I first received this serum I was applying way too much everyday and noticed after a week that my skin was getting red and flaky.  I backed off and just applied a few drops in the morning and it made a world of difference.  My skin looked hydrated, clear, and brighter.  I find myself always reaching for this oil when I get a blemish or a sun spot.  It clears up blemishes very quickly without leaving the surrounding area dry and flaky and it noticeably lightens my sun spots.  You can check it out here.

I believe in the power and importance of adding a Vitamin C formula to my skin care routine.  I found all three of these formulas to be quite different, but they all worked really well and delivered on the benefits they claim.  I hope my descriptions will be helpful to you so you can chose a product that will work best for your skin type.

Do you use a Vitamin C product in your skin care routine?  Have you tried any of these products or do you have another favorite?  I would love to hear about your experience!

Pure Attraction with Magnetic Lashes

Love Light Cosmetics, Love Lash Magnetic False Eyelashes

I love false eyelashes! Big bold ones you see on celebrities walking down the red carpet or even on the Kardashians going to the gym.  They just make the eyes, which we know are the windows to the soul, POP!  The sad thing is, I cannot apply them to myself if my life depended on it.  Seriously.  I have even taken makeup classes to learn how to apply them.  They never seem to attach properly and stay put.  I always make a mess and end up losing half of my natural lashes in the process.  I have accepted that I am falsies-challenged.  Now, I am not the type to wear false eyelashes all the time.  I would just like to wear them for special occasions or date night with my husband.  Not too much to ask, right?

I had heard about magnetic lashes coming to the market for a while, but had not come across them until the holiday season.  I was perusing the Credo Beauty Store website and there they were….just calling to me!  The Love Light Cosmetic, Love Lashes!

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I purchased the single pair in Abundant.  In my usual fashion, upon arrival, I opened them up and attempted to apply them without reading any directions.  The excitement, you know? Big mistake.  After many failed attempts and much frustration, I decided to read the instructions, which happen to be printed right there on the box…duh!  Clearly they had people like me in mind when they decided to do that.  Thanks, Love Light Cosmetics!  Within a few seconds, I had applied false eyelashes AND I had done it correctly!

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It was super easy, but the lashes looked a little weird.  I realized that they don’t curve as well as other false eyelashes, probably due to the placement and weight of the magnets.  Now, this may only be for the shape of my eyes.  I have rather small eyes, so it may work better for those of you with bigger eyes.  I am hoping that if I keep working with them, I can get them to bend more to my lash line.

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For Christmas, my girlfriend gave me the Harmony set which contains 2 sets of lashes, the Abundant and the Zen. The Zen are a shorter set, more like a half lash, that works great on just the outer half of the eye.  These were perfect!  They literally take a few seconds to apply and VOILA!  Instant eye-opening drama!

So, here are a few tips that I had to figure out the hard way.  First of all, you have to use your fingers.  NO TWEEZERS.  The magnets attach to the metal and you cannot apply them.  Common sense, I know, but worth stating.  Also, curl your lashes prior to applying them because you won’t be able to once they are on.  The whole metal magnet thing again.  They come separated nicely in their beautiful white boxes that are magnetized.  I use my tweezers to pull them out and then my fingers to apply them.  There is a top and bottom lash for each eye.  The bottom lash has a white dot on the band so you can easily identify it.  I put on the top lash and line it up where I want it, then, as I am gently pushing it down into my lash line so it stays flush, I open really wide and place the bottom lash underneath my lash line as close as I can get it.  I close my eyes and you can feel the magnets connect.  It is that easy!  One and done!

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Now to remove them, you have to grasp them with your thumb and your index finger and gently slide your fingers in opposite directions.  This allows the magnets to disengage and they separate.  It could not be easier!  There is no mess and I don’t lose any natural lashes from the traditional tugging or glue.  Genius!

You don’t see the magnets once they are attached and there isn’t a obvious band.  They lay right on your lashes and look very natural.  Plus, no glue mess or band that needs to be blended with eyeliner.

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Now, I want to be clear about one thing.  I have used drug store eyelashes, but the most experience I have had with false eyelashes is with the Battington Lashes, usually  professionally applied at Citrine Beauty Store by one of their makeup artists during an event.  These are not the same product.  The Battington lashes are silk and most of their styles are 3D.  They are beautiful lashes that add glamour and drama.  I know some people wear false eyelashes frequently, but to me, these are special occasion lashes. If you are good at applying false eyelashes, I highly recommend them.  The Love Lashes are synthetic, so they don’t have quite the same look.  They do, however, have unprecedented ease of application that even a falsie-challenged person like myself can master in seconds!  They also look natural while adding fullness and length to your own lashes.  They are more of what I would consider an everyday lash, if you are the type to wear false eyelashes more frequently.  Who knows, I may just start wearing falsies everyday, even to workout!

If you want to check out the Love Lash false eyelashes, you can click here.

Changing My Foundation

Liquid Foundation Reviews

This summer I decided to try out some liquid foundations. It is really hot in Arizona and I like to keep my makeup as light as possible since I will probably sweat most of it off by the end of the day.   I have been extremely happy with my go-to foundations, which have been the Kjaer Weiss Foundation (I wear like porcelain) and Vapour Atmosphere Luminous Foundation (I wear 115).  My love of these tried-and-true products doesn’t stop my compulsion to try new green beauty options.  I was able to order some trial kits online and, while I was traveling this summer, I picked up some foundation samples of product lines that are not sold at my local green beauty store, Citrine Natural Beauty.  It is so hard to buy foundation online without testing out the colors on your skin.

Let’s start with what I look for in a foundation.  First and foremost, it must have clean ingredients.  I don’t want anything that is a known skin irritant, hormone disruptor or harmful ingredient in my foundation.  I feel it is counter-intuitive to apply something to my face to help me feel and look better on the surface while it is harming my body on the inside.  Vanity is not worth risking my health, and there are so many gorgeous products on the market today that have clean ingredients that I don’t have to put my self at risk.   A list of the ingredients I like to avoid can be found here.

Next, it needs to be lightweight.  My skin needs to breath.  I wear foundation to even out my skin and to give me a more polished look.  I don’t like a heavily, made up look.  So, these are the products I tried out…

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The first brand I purchased was Crunchi.  After using up the sample kit, I wrote a full review that you can read here.  Since writing this post, I have purchased a full-size bottle of foundation, primer, and also the CRUNCHI foundation brush.  They are currently selling a foundation sample pack, rather than the trial kit that I had purchased.  The pack contains a sample of their 4 most popular shades.  It appears to be a smaller sample than what I received and it doesn’t contain a sample of the primer, but it should be enough for you to color match and get an idea of how the product works for your skin.

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Next I purchased an INIKA trial kit in light.  INIKA is an award winning Australian brand of certified organic products that uses Australian botanicals and pure minerals to create high performance makeup that also nurtures your skin.  INIKA has one of the highest safety ratings by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.  They have a slew of certifications to verify that they are organic, safe, cruelty free and vegan.  If there is a certification out there, they probably have it.

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One of the many great things about INIKA is that it comes in several formulas to meet a variety of needs.  Whether you like a liquid, baked or loose powder formula, or a multitasking BB cream, they have you covered!  Couldn’t resist the pun, sorry!

INIKA Liquid Foundation with Hyaluronic Acid

INIKA BB Cream

INIKA Baked Mineral Foundation

INIKA Loose Mineral Foundation Powder with SPF 25

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The trial kits contain 2 shades of mineral foundation powders, 2 Liquid Foundation and Organic Pure Primer. This foundation is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and is a combination of moisturizer and makeup. Made with coconut oil, apricot kernal oil and jojoba, it is very hydrating without being oily or heavy.   It not only blends flawlessly to give you a beautiful, natural coverage, but also hydrates your skin at the same time thanks to the addition of hyaluronic acid.  I found this foundation to be just the right amount of coverage that also let my skin breath and look natural.  I also feel it is quite buildable, for if I was going out and wanted a little more coverage or had a red spot that needed some extra foundation.  It has a thicker consistency than the CRUNCHI, but not  by much.  The primer is very similar to the CRUNCHI primer (think SMASHBOX Photo Finish primer) but has the additon of hyaluronic acid.  BONUS!

I tried out the powder formulas and I was surprised at how easy they were to use and how well they blended into my skin.  I prefer a liquid or cream foundation, so I didn’t spend a lot of time with them, but if you like powder formulas, you need to check these out.  If you like a heavier finish, I bet applying this over a liquid foundation would be beautiful with the added bonus of the SPF.  I wish the trial kit came with a sample of the BB Cream because I know that it has to be amazing!  When I finish up the bottle of CRUNCHI, I will definitely purchase a bottle of INIKA.  One can never have too much hyaluronic acid in their routine!

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Another liquid foundation I picked up was Gressa Minimalist Corrective Serum Foundation.  This is probably my favorite of all the foundations I tried.  This is truly food for your skin in makeup form!  It covers my skin beautifully and makes it look flawless without feeling heavy or thick.  Literally, flawless!  It is a liquid to velvet finish that just melts into my skin.  It is made with broccoli seed oil, barberry extract, sea buckthorn, vitamin C, coenzyme Q10 and a proprietary blend of powerhouse botanicals to balance your skin and make it more radiant.  Food for your skin!

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Now, after that declaration, I have a confession to make.  This foundation was a little tricky to work with and took some trial and error to get the hang of it.  When the sales girl was making the sample, she spilled more than she planned into the tiny sample container.  She told me that the amount she put in there would last me weeks!  I scoffed in disbelief!  It was one of those tiny sample containers that you get all the time.  The first time I used it, I dipped my large foundation brush into the sample and started dabbing it on my face.  

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It is a thin, rather oily formula and I quickly learned that it was WAY too much foundation!  It took multiple tries before I was able to appreciate this amazing foundation.  It feels like a serum going on so it may feel a little oily at first, especially if you apply too much like I did.  Once you figure out the correct amount to apply and blend it into your skin, you will see that it melts into your skin like a beautiful serum and leaves your skin FLAWLESS, literally!  I later purchased a bottle of it. I apply 2 tiny drops from the glass dropper onto my foundation brush and that is enough to convert my face to a flawless canvas.  Now you probably think flawless canvas means heavy-looking and peeling foundation.  Quite the opposite!  This formula melts into your skin just like a serum, yet lasts all day, and leaves you skin with a natural finish.  Once I mastered the application, I was hooked! I look forward to trying more products from GRESSA.

If you aren’t sure what color to purchase, you can check out the sample packs available at Integrity Botanicals here.

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I picked up a sample of Sappho New Paradigm Liquid Foundation. I let the sales girl chose the colors that best matched my skin.  I came home with the #4 and #5, which both turned out to have yellow undertones, which my skin does not have.  I have worn  both several times and I don’t feel I can give it a fair review because I wasn’t happy with the color match.  I will tell you that I found this formula to be thicker than the other formulas that I tried and it gives more coverage on first application.  It is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, so this would be a great choice if you prefer a medium to full coverage foundation. It blends easily and doesn’t feel heavy, but again I don’t feel I can give a full review since I didn’t give it a fair testing.  I only wore it 3 times and gave up because I wasn’t happy with the shade.

I currently have the CRUNCHI and the GRESSA foundations in rotation.  Once I finish up the CRUNCHI, I will get the INIKA Liquid Foundation, primer and probably the BB Cream as well.

 

 

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If you have tried any of these foundations, I would love to hear your feedback!

 

Taming the Curls with Innersense

Innersense Organic Beauty Hair Products

My hair is naturally wavy.  That sounds like a great thing, right?  Well,  the reality is that it isn’t that pretty, perfect kind of wavy that looks like you just spent the day at the beach.  It is an uneven, wavy, curly, frizzy mess.  I blow dry my hair almost every day because  I don’t want to look like little orphan Annie.   Not that she isn’t super cute, but it is not a good look for me.  Arizona is super hot in the summer months and so the thought of having to spend 20-25 minutes with a hot blow dryer is quite depressing.  Finding a way to avoid it is a dream come true!  If you follow my blog, you know that I have serious issues with dirty hair, so skipping washings is not an option for me.  I pray for products to ease my hair care routine.  Did I mention that I have thick hair that retains water really well?  Blow drying is a long and exhausting process for me.

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I discovered a time-saving miracle product that I have to share with you.  But first, the prequel to that. I received the Innersense Hydrating HairbathHydrating Cream  Conditioner and the Sweet Spirit Leave-In Conditioner in one of my Beauty Hero boxes.  I really loved the set, but it was a little heavy for my hair.  I have normal hair, so I think this works better for those who have dry or damaged hair.   It is a really moisturizing set and that is not what my hair needs.  I love the smell, feel and texture of this product, so I wasn’t ready to give up on this brand.

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I purchased the Pure Harmony Hairbath Shampoo and Pure Inspiration Daily Conditioner to see if they were a better fit for my hair.  The hairbath is made with natural plant extracts to clean my hair without stripping it of its natural moisture and shine.   It is made with Coconut and Palm Oils for a gentle cleanse.  It also has Pumpkin Seed, Orange Flower, Lotus Flower and Cranberry Seed Oils as well as Rooibos Tea for its amazing antioxidant properties.  The conditioner is lightweight, yet hydrating.  It turns out the Pure Harmony line is perfect for my hair type.  Innersense also makes a Color Awakening line for color treated hair.  They really do have all of your hair care needs covered!

 

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So, are you still interested in the time-saving miracle product that has allowed me to skip the blow drying without sacrificing clean hair?  Well, it is the Quiet Calm Curl Control!  This product is definitely a game changer!  I can use it if I want to blow dry my hair straight or if …YAAASSS, I want to skip the hot, blow dryer and still not scare any small children!!  I put a dime size amount of this product in my wet hair and it makes the curls and waves look more even and completely frizz free.  I can spend a few minutes blow drying the front section (crown) of my hair because,  I failed to mention that I have multiple (yes multiple)  cowlicks.  But once that 1-2 minute process is done, I can leave the rest of my hair to dry naturally and I get a more even looking curl/wave with plenty of body and NO frizz.  On these hot days, it is truly a life saver!  This styling product uses organic Shea butter, rice bran oil and oat kernel extract to protect your curls or smooth your hair during a blow dry.  The orange flower oil and Frangipani extract (plumeria flower) calm and quiet your curls to give you the soft bounce you want without the frizz.  Many products that calm and manage curls make your hair stiff and crunchy as well as weighing it down.  The Quiet Calm Curl Control makes your hair soft, shiny and tames your curls without weighing them down.  I can use this if I want my hair straight or curly, and my hair is easy to manage, shiny, full of body and free of frizz.  You only need a small amount, so this bottle will last a long time!

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Now I will share with you another game changing product from Innersense Organic Beauty, the Harmonic Healing Oil.  This product came as the side kick in the same Beauty Heroes box.  When I first got it, I used it in my daughter’s hair rather than my own hair. Oils tend to weigh my hair down, so I was hesitant to use it on myself.  My oldest daughter has very long, thick curly hair.  She is 14 years old and (knock on wood), unlike all of her friends, she doesn’t spend hours fixing, straightening and styling her hair.  She loves her curls and just washes and goes.  One of the my greatest successes…instilling confidence in my kids!  Yay me!  The first time I used it on her hair, she was rushing off to school and said her hair was too “poofy”.  She asked me to do something to tame it a little bit. Her hair just needed a little smoothing to tame the “poof”.  I grabbed the bottle of Harmonic Healing Oil,  put 1 pump in the palm of my hand, rubbed them together, then ran my hands through her hair and rushed her out the door.

The next morning she asked me to put more of that “magic oil” in her hair.  It took her curly hair, that is sometimes a little too “poofy” for her taste, and made it into more soft, even curls.  I also started adding a tiny bit of this to my hair on the days that I skip the blow dry.  I cannot tell you much of a time saver this has been for me!  Not to mention how great it is not to have to endure the long, hot blow dry every day!

This little bottle of magic oil is made with healing oils and flower essences.  It contains certified organic oils and is rich in vitamins, proteins and antioxidants.  It is ideal for hair, scalp and dry skin.  It is a multiuse product with amazing healing properties.  My daughter now uses both of my bottles of  Quiet Calm Curl Control and Harmonic Healing Oil.  Luckily, the bottles have plenty of product for both of us to share!

The line of Innersense Organic Hair Products has been hair changing for both my daughter and me.  Before the end of this post, I have to also mention that the line is the lowest price of any luxury, green beauty, hair care line that I have used.  I also have to call attention to their gorgeous packaging!  They make some styling products that I have not tried yet, but hope to use soon.

So whether your hair is straight or curly, colored or natural, Innersence Organic Beauty has a hair product that is bound to make all of your hair dreams come true!  These hair care products are on permanent rotation in our house!  If you try any of their many, fabulous products, let me know about your experience.  If you sign up for their newsletter, you get $20 off your first purchase.  Here is to taming the curl and no more BAD HAIR DAYS!