A Product Post That is Not Really a Product Post (But Yes, There are Products)

Remember the other week when I was over on No More Dirty Looks talking about how ten months at Beauty U made my hair and skin so crazy?

Let’s just say that I’m still in recovery. Last Friday’s haircut helped a lot (my lovely friend S. told me I look like a Breck Girl now, which I think is just great as long as you skip over that John Edwards thing). But I’m still fighting my way through some serious scalp irritation/build-up and no small amount of breakouts.

I thought about putting my beauty routine into a full-out detox right after school ended, where I’d go all green, natural, DIY for a few weeks, as a kind of antidote to the highly not-green routine I was following while I was there.

Then I didn’t bother, for several reasons:

A) I’m lazy and also cheap and I still had plenty of half-full and even full products, which I just couldn’t bear to throw out. Because how not green is it to chuck an unused bottle of body lotion straight into the trash? She said self-righteously.

B) The whole idea of the detox (like its kissing cousin, the crash diet) creeps me out. The pressure! What if you fail miserably? Then you have to hate yourself. And here I think I’m so awesome. It can never work.

C) There are a few chemical-y things I’m not so interested in giving up. Like my beloved prescription benzoyl peroxide and Retin-A. I actually did take a few weeks off from the BP, and hi, fourteen-year-old-boy skin, nice to have you back.

So I’ve been muddling on with a more piecemeal kind of approach.

Like, I finally ran out of the fragrance and paraben-containing Repechage face cleanser we used alll the time at Beauty U. So I decided to try mixing baking soda and honey. Verdict: My face feels clean, but sometimes the honey gets caught in the hair around my face and I end up with the odd crunchy spot, like I used way too much hair gel. Oops.

Then, I used up all my Beauty U-purchased Moroccan Oil conditioner, so I started rinsing with apple cider vinegar. Verdict #2: Your hair gets SO soft and shiny, it’s actually kind of ridiculous. (Brazilian Blowout eat your heart out.) But your hair stylist (and sometimes your husband and other people who spend time close to your head) will have to put up with you smelling like a salad.

So now my bathroom cabinets are this weird amalgamation of kitchen supplies, green products, not-green products, and other failed beauty experiment detritus. Just unacceptable. I’ve begun to look longingly at the aisles of tidy products at Sephora, because I’m seriously missing all that lovely packaging that you get with beauty products that are not also effective drain de-cloggers.

And I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with wanting the packaging back. Let’s face it, with beauty manufacturers running around like it’s the Wild West out there (as I have been telling you nonstop lately), pretty packaging is kind of all we’ve got. It’s the only ingredient of your beauty product that you can see with your own eyes and know, without needing a lab analysis, that what you see is what you get. That darling little apothecary bottle is a darling little apothecary bottle. But the unpronounceable ingredient list? The anti-aging claims? What, are we mind readers?

Which means, I’m ready to open up my heart and my bathroom to a few new products. Of course, completely contradicting what I just said, I’m in furious research mode, reading up on companies and products that actually do offer me some transparency in terms of how they source their ingredients and make their products and don’t completely over-hype the benefits. I’m big on getting endorsements from friends (and experts like Alexandra and Siobhan) too and I always try to check things out in the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database, to make sure they have a relatively low hazard score.

As y’all know, I don’t do product reviews round these parts, both because I think there are loads of folks who do them better and because I don’t really trust myself to be an impartial source (I also don’t trust some of the folks who nevertheless do product reviews, but we’re not talking about them right now). I mean, I just told you how easily swayed I am by packaging! And if I was getting all this sh*t for free, like most beauty magazine editors and bloggers do? Well sigh. We always love free things, right?

So this is a list of Products I Want To Try Because The Aforementioned Furious Research Looks Promising And the Packaging Rocks — But the Jury Is Still Out.

Those of you who might want to buy me Christmas presents, feel free to take note.

Jurlique Purifying Cleansing LotionBecause they grow a lot of their product ingredients on their own biodynamic farm. In Australia. As you do. And this is supposed to be great for breakout-prone skin and see about about fourteen-year-old boys and my face. And, oh, pretty.

I’m actually a little underwhelmed by this packaging. Smoky glass leaves me cold. But I think it would look awfully nice next to the Jurlique cleanser. Plus everyone is excited about coconut oil being amazing for all parts of your body and hair too. And RMS Beauty gets a crazy good report card from Skin Deep.

Kahina 100 percent organic argan oilWhy it’s a darling little apothecary bottle! Also, I’ve been using a very non-organic version of argan oil (Moroccan Oil, which comes in a frankly even cuter amber glass bottle, and is everywhere now) in my hair for about a year now, and delight in how it keeps frizz at bay. But this one you can also put on your face. Plus, hello, perfect Skin Deep score.

Aubrey Organics Primrose Lavender ShampooOkay, I don’t love this packaging either. In fact, I’ve avoided Aubrey Organics in the health food store for years because I think it looks so crunchy and blah. But my scalp issues need reckoning. And this contains retinol (as in vitamin A, as in the same stuff in my Retin-A that works such miracles on my face). Which makes me want to try it out even though it’s also the reason it rates on the low end of “moderate hazard” in Skin Deep. (Most of Aubrey Organics stuff scores better, FYI.)

John Masters Lavender & Avocado Intensive ConditionerObviously, I’ve got a whole minimalist thing going with my package styling right now. Plus the lavender coordinates nicely with my shampoo choice. And I’ve had a longstanding on-again/off-again love affair with John Masters products, particularly this conditioner, and think it might be time for us to hook up again.

So there you have it. A product post that is not really a product post, because I am not saying y’all should rush out and try that stuff.

What I actually want to know is: Has anyone tried anything on this list and can you tell me what you think? Or, do you have any other prettily-packaged beauty favorites that I really should know about right now?

And: What kind of criteria do you use when you’re picking out beauty things for your own self?

Plus! The FCC wants me to tell you: Nobody paid me (in products, cash or heartfelt compliments) to mention these goodies. I mean, as if that wasn’t already abundantly clear.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “A Product Post That is Not Really a Product Post (But Yes, There are Products)

  1. dancing_piglet

    I recently switched to coconut oil as a nighttime moisturiser and it’s absolutely lovely. I believe it’s one of the lighter oils and the smell always reminds me of those old sunscreens from many years ago and therefore summer (no mean feat in the dark, wet days of London’s autumn). I was very keen to try RMS myself but I happened to have an untouched jar of organic, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil in the kitchen cupboard (I originally intended to use it for cooking but – ha! – I never cook) which cost half the price and is probabaly just as effective. Highly recommended – in whatever form you try!

  2. Tammy

    I think beautypedia.com is the best $25 I have spent on beauty stuff all year. I trust them and have loved many of their suggestions.
    I have used raw coconut oil for 4 years on my body. I get it from Purejoyplanet.com . Yummy!

    • Tammy

      I should have stated the beautypedia.com is a product review site that reviews and gives great ratings to 100’s of products that they don’t make or sell. They write the books, Don’t go to the Cosmetics counter without me”.
      They do have a small skincare line, i have tried some samples and love them.

  3. Love this post. V, we debate a lot about product reviews too, since we all know the slippery slope that is the beauty writer-product shiller relationship. What being said: Love that JMO conditioner, love that shampoo, and love Kahina’s argan. Those are all mainstays for me after trying lots and lots of stuff. Jurlique is a really nice line, but I’ve never used their cleansers. My friend Anna liked that one a lot, but found it a little pricey (duh). And coconut oil I had an acne disaster with, but most people swear by the stuff….

    • Ooh, Siobhan, I am extra-excited to have your endorsement on these picks — because you and Alexandra are certainly my go-to trustworthy sources for product suggestions, along with Skin Deep. (I totally started looking into Kahina and RMS Beauty based on your input!)

      And to be clear, I think there absolutely is a place for product reviews (and always like how you guys disclose whether you bought the product you’re discussing) because we all want and need that kind of input as we’re navigating these murky beauty waters! I just don’t personally feel qualified to act as anyone’s beauty product guru because I haven’t logged the market research hours. It was actually pretty interesting to me how, at Beauty U, we only learned about the specific lines that the school carried in the spa — we were encouraged to do our own research on other brands (translation: go to their website and read the marketing copy) but it wasn’t at all part of the education. Which, when you consider how over-saturated the beauty market is with options, is maybe a bit of an oversight!

      • RMS, swoon. I hope Santa is good to you this year, because this is a really nice list. I also like Evan Healy’s tea tree cleanser for oilier skin, but I find it too drying for me. I’m losing oil/moisture, maybe because I’m THIRTYTWO now, or maybe it’s something else in my diet or whatnot that has changed my skin.

  4. Dina

    Alright, I’m just going to say it. I went no-shampoo about 6 months ago and I am the first to be utterly SHOCKED by how well it works for my hair. From your description it seems we have similar almost curly, but more wavy with a healthy dose of frizz hair. So in addition to the soft silkiness of the vinegar rinse the baking soda has totally eliminated all scalp issues I had with other shampoos.

    I think I’ll look into getting the argan oil to try and tame the last bits of frizz.

    • Dina — so cool that it worked for you! I have yet to be able to stick it out for that long and there seems to be a major grease learning curve for me. (Though yes, we have the same kind of hair!) I’m going to try this scalp soothing shampoo first to see if that can help curb my current issues… then maybe I’ll be ready to give the no-shampoo thing another try…

  5. miss-trixie

    You can get very nice argan oil products at Sally’s – I’m a convert, I love argan oil.

  6. Elise

    Re: apple cider vinegar. (too tardy to comment under your haircut post)
    Next time an underinformed stylist gives you the stinkeye about it, you could mention that Fekkai makes a cider vinegar product, DUH, but you find the unadulterated real thing to be far superior.
    However, this may be just me projecting my personal insecurities onto your situation! Either way, yay vinegar!

    • HA. I love that. And no projecting — I was totally apologetic about it to both the stylist and the shampoo girl. And then I felt silly for being so, because, you know, it’s MY hair. And vinegar doesn’t smell that bad. Honest! (She says, sniffing herself for the millionth time.)

  7. Jade

    I love Argan oil for my face! Just wet your face with water or rosewater and pat it in under your moisturizer. Also, John Masters Organics is FAB! I love his Citrus and Neroli detangler, if you ever want to try that. Best conditioner I have EVER tried, ever. =D

  8. jean

    I use Aubrey Organics shampoo for dry/damaged hair and I LOVE it. I’ve been using it for about a year now. When I first switched from the laurel sulfate-laden brand I’d been using before, it took my frizzy/thick/wavy hair about a week to get used to not having to deal with all those chemicals. I wash my hair about twice a week and it’s in better shape than ever before–shiny and soft, with frizz-free curls and waves.
    I did try using it with the AO conditioner for dry/damaged hair, but I didn’t like that as much–it seemed to leave my hair feeling a bit weighted down. I use brilliant brunette conditioner instead. It somehow balances perfectly with the AO shampoo.
    I agree about the packaging! Really not pretty. The shampoo itself is a rich amber color, though, so you could buy a clear dispenser and use that instead.

    • Clear Dispenser = GENIUS.

      I am now wanting to repackage ALL of my beauty products as soon as I bring them into my bathroom. Why should my shower and bathroom cabinets be all covered in advertising slogan-y crap anyway?

      Oh. Excited about this.

  9. I love the John Masters conditioner! Here’s a product review I wrote expressing my love (product reviews happen to be a big part of my business): http://endlessbeauty.com/reviews/john-masters-organics-lavender-and-avocado-intensive-conditioner

  10. Can I ask how you use the apple cider vinegar?? I’ve never even heard about this, and kind of want to give it a try (I’m totally cool with smelling like salad. I like salad!)

    Do you shampoo and condition as normal, then rinse with diluted vinegar and water?

    • Hi there! I shampoo as normal, then use an old shampoo bottle filled with half vinegar, half water. Mix it up, squirt a bunch in my hair (esp scalp/roots), then add conditioner on the bottom half, let it all sit for a few minutes while I finish the rest of my shower, then wash it out. I kinda made that up, but it seems to be working for me!

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