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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pre-wedding Natural Makeup and Skincare

I'm not a makeup junkie. My entire collection is probably smaller than most people's travel bags, and I buy new makeup when I hit the point of not being able to squeeze another drop out of the tube. I've pretty much stuck with the same brands and colors for the past 10 years.

But over the past year, I've been more attuned to researching companies that use fewer chemicals in their makeup and beauty products, looking for more natural and vegan-friendly alternatives. It's very much a broad industry to peruse, and I've spent a lot of time researching different brands, their claims and ingredients, and their ratings in the EWG Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics. (Read about EWG in this blog post as well.)

And I'm by no means an expert on natural beauty products now, but as my wedding approaches ever closer, I realized it was a great time to invest in a few new products the green way. Besides for wedding purposes, it's also time to invest in better products for my thirtysomething skin. I've grown up a little beyond the days of 1998 that involved Cover Girl liquid foundation the thickness of a milkshake and in the wrong shade.

So, what am I doing to prep my skin for our big day next month?

Although not featured in the title image, the important part is where you begin. Every morning I use Burt's Bees Deep Cleansing Cream, and it always feels so cool and refreshing. (It's rated a 4 on the EWG scale, and the biggest problem ingredient is something I may need to look into more.) 

A few weeks ago, I visited my local Sephora looking for a natural or organic mask for general skin glowiness. That might be exactly how I asked the sale assistant for help too. I'm sorry to everyone who's heard me preface anything lately with "I'm getting married in __ months, so..." But, it pretty much is the guiding force of everything on my mind lately.

So. Mask shopping. The girl recommended this new Farmacy Honey Potion mask, so I went for it, because of their commitment to natural ingredients. It's warming, it's renewing, it looks like straight up honey until you massage it into your skin, and it makes your skin extremely soft. I think it's also helped my pores and blackheads, giving me a fresh-faced look. Oh, and the spatula is magnetic so it can attach to the lid so you don't lose it. Is it inexpensive? Absolutely not, especially for someone like me. But now is the time to invest! And even after just a few weeks, I think it's worth it.

I asked how often I could use the mask, and the girl said it was safe to use frequently. Because I'm so addicted to how smooth my skin feels, I use it every other evening (at least until the wedding when I'm officially allowed to let go. Don't tell Phillip. 😝) 

And the most basic, most important lesson of all. Drink water. I admittedly don't drink 64 ounces every day, but I've really been working to get back to that so I can feel as good as possible. My head certainly reminds me when I've been slacking, and I do not have the time or the want for a headache. So, all the water.

On the nights I don't use the hydration mask, I apply a layer of this Simple Ultra Light Gel Moisturizer. Found at Target, it's very cost effective for a natural product. On the EWG scale, it ranks a 2. I picked this up earlier this year when the cooler air (what's that?) was leaving my skin extra dry, and it's helped tremendously.

On to my new morning makeup routine. When I was researching brands, I knew that vegan-friendly and natural alternatives would cost a little more than I usually spend, but I wasn't willing to pay too much more. I've been using Tarte blush (3 on the EWG scale), Physician's Formula eyeshadow (2 on the EWG scale) and Ecco Bella powder (2 on the EWG scale) for a few months now and love them all. Everything is comparable to the conventional products I had before.

What I purchased recently for the wedding (and for general upgrades) includes Tarte BB tinted moisturizer foundation, Tarte CC undereye corrector (although there's not much hiding these suitcases), Tarte waterproof eyeliner and Tarte waterproof mascara. (And a-thank you to an Ulta gift card I still had from Christmas.)

Tarte is a larger brand, available at both Sephora and Ulta, but they are committed to keeping parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, triclosan, sodium lauryl sulfate, and gluten out of their products.

And they perform really well. I also have a sample size of Tarte's 4-in-1 mascara, and my lashes look fantastic these days, if I do say so myself. The waterproof mascara may not give quite as much the magical effect, but it still works really well, and both the mascara and eyeliner stood up to an hour of hot power yoga. So I mean, if they can handle that, they can handle ugly crying and sweaty dancing. #weddingapproved

Of note, Ecco Bella is a certified green business and is made in the USA. They place a focus on having sustainable packaging as well - their blushes come in a refillable compact, so when you replace your blush, you can use the same container. The face powder is not refillable, but it is a cardboard compact so it's recyclable. I've had this powder for almost a year, and the compact hasn't lost any strength, so that's not an issue to worry about.

There are lots of makeup brands committed to avoiding chemicals, vegan-friendliness, and sustainability, and if I even tried to list them here, I would leave out a lot.

If you're shopping around for new makeup, do your research first. Visit the company's website to read about their ingredients or values. Look up products in the EWG Skin Deep database. Ask around. (When I first went to Ulta in my makeup transition, I asked the girl to point me toward the natural or organic brands.) Read the ingredients lists on retailer websites or on the product packaging. Ask for samples if you can, to see if you like something before you commit to purchasing.

Makeup may be skin deep, but the effects from harmful ingredients can go way deeper and last longer.

None of these products are featured because of sponsored endorsements; they're just players in my eco lifestyle game! Gotta walk that walk before I can talk the talk.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016

Photo Friday | Inspiration to Act

When I don't have many of my own photos to share for Photo Friday, I've really taken to sharing inspirational or galvanizing thoughts from other groups. Litterati shared this thought recently, and it can apply to so much. If we aren't the ones to work to protect the environment, who will? If we don't clean up our cities, who will?

Graphic from Litterati

Don't rely on others to do something - do it yourself.

I know that many times when people litter, they think "oh, someone else will clean it up." (If they think anything at all.) But that's not the thought to have. Change it to "I'm not going to litter this so I can keep the street or ditch clean. I'll wait to throw this away in a trash can."

When I read the quote, I keep thinking of the Mardi Gras parade where Project Front Yard volunteers walked the entire route picking up beads, and litter. I remember one man telling me, "Don't they have the street sweepers to do that?" And I told him that it wasn't the only solution, and that it takes all of us.

Because if not us, then who?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Green Company Spotlight | Paper Culture

During wedding planning, as I tackle each item on the (neverending) list, I begin by asking myself, "How can I make this eco-friendly?"

Truth bomb: In general, this usually makes things more complicated. Instead of just picking the first option you find, you spend time researching different companies, weigh their sustainability and product claims, and then make a decision.

When it came time to our save the date cards and invitations, this choice wasn't so complicated. As I was trying out one online vendor, I noticed that the option for printing on recycled paper was an additional cost. So I moved on and looked for other, less expensive options.

In this search, I discovered Paper Culture, a California-based company that uses 100% recycled paper in all of their stationery products. Recycled paper is not an upgrade-able option; it's the default stock. In addition, they offer a variety of customizable eco-friendly gifts, and they plant a tree for every order made.

I shall repeat: They plant a tree for every order made. How amazing is this!?

So I started with the Save the Dates. I spent many days perusing the options and playing around with the customization of about 10 different designs. You can tinker with your design, then save it for later.

The customization options may not be as robust as other services - you can't change fonts or the overall layout - but you can request free designer assistance, where you can request different colors or sizes. The designer response is pretty timely.

After I was happy with about 5 different Save the Date options, I reviewed them with my fiance and we both ended up choosing this adorable wood-grain photo style card. Very, very us.

The order process is simple - move the item to your cart, double check your quantities, then check out. All orders over $125 receive free shipping - and you still receive your order very quickly. When I ordered our Save the Date cards, they arrived in THREE DAYS.

Now that my order was in, I noticed the packaging right away. It's efficient and sized right, although it does use plastic air packs to keep the paper from getting banged up. You can read printed statistics on the benefits of trees, and I am just now realizing the box is designed to be reversible so you can use it again for gift-giving! Plus, the ink is water-based.

After our Save the Dates went out, it was time to look for invitations. The invitation design selection is much smaller (31 design options compared to 82 save the date options), but I discovered another wonderful feature of Paper Culture - the design-it-yourself option.

Armed with Photoshop and available sizes from Paper Culture, I designed our invitations and RSVP cards on my own and uploaded the entire design to the website. I enjoyed free shipping once again, and they arrived in four days.

All cards automatically come with envelopes, and I ordered matching address labels to go with each. (And I plan to order a large set with my future last name to go with thank you cards and general mail!) For many of the wedding designs the company offers, you can order your entire suite of stationery to coordinate.

In addition to wedding stationery, there are thank-you notes, holiday cards, party and other event invitations, birth and graduation announcements. But I mean, if you have a design program, you have the freedom of designing literally any card you want and having it printed on 100% recycled paper and getting a tree planted for it.

Although I went for a simpler look to both of my pieces with flat printing, Paper Culture does offer foil printing on some of their designs, allowing you to have an extra glamorous touch. The pieces themselves are printed on thick stock paper, giving each a nice, substantial feeling in your hand. If you want them even thicker, you can upgrade to double-thick or triple-thick paper.

Image from Paper Culture

Paper Culture is a California-certified Green Business, Small Business Award winner, and a member of Carbon Fund.

As a paper company, we have an even greater responsibility to promote sustainability. From day one, our pledge has been that no new trees will be cut down for our customer's cards because we use exclusively 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Furthermore, we will plant a tree with as a part of every order. As a company, we do our best to operate with the smallest environmental footprint we can, from the recycled paper in our printers, to the CFL light bulbs in our office, to the non-toxic cleaning products in our kitchen. What we can't eliminate, we offset as a CarbonFree® partner of Carbonfund.org.

What I love about Paper Culture (and some of my other favorite green brands) is that the products don't necessarily scream ECO-FRIENDLY. The cards aren't made from elephant poop (although that paper does exist, no it doesn't stink, and yes it is pretty cool), and the envelopes aren't made of kraft paper. They have a streamlined, classic look while still using alternative materials.

I love that I can check wedding stationery off the list as being eco-friendly. Plus, those two trees I've planted through my orders will provide many benefits to people for years to come. :)

Working ahead for this year's Christmas cards? Get 20% off your holiday purchase through September 26!

Disclaimer: I received a discount on my wedding invitations in exchange for this post, but all opinions are mine and the praise is genuine!
Eco Cajun | The Earth Just Wants To Be Loved Ba-You! All posts, content, graphics and photographs copyright 2009- 2016 Eco Cajun, unless otherwise credited. BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.