Sustainable Gift Giving Guide 2019

There’s nothing I love more than giving gifts. I’m one of those people who prefers to give gifts rather than receive them. I just love to see the smile of a loved one light up when I give them something that is meaningful. However, a lot of people don’t love the holidays because of the emphasis on consumerism rather than time with friends and family. I don’t believe that gift-giving in itself is bad, but that they should be given with intention, selectivity, and consciousness in mind. The majority of products today are made using toxic chemicals, low-wage labor, and are not made with longevity in mind. Even if the product is made sustainably, it still takes a lot of resources to make because we are all still reliant on the fossil fuel industry whether we like it or not. Therefore, we should look for gifts that will be meaningful, useful, and last beyond next Christmas/Hanukkah. Here are my top picks for sustainable gift giving!

 

Alter-Eco Chocolate:

This certified B-Corp is sustainable from the inside-out. They use 100% organic and GMO-Free ingredients, invest in the well-being of farmers, source from small-scale farms, and piloted the world’s first compostable stand-up pouch. I also love how their co-ops practice dynamic agroforestry, which according to Alter-Eco, “…strives to mimic the natural evolution of the forest.” Agroforestry enriches the soil, supports a variety of plants, and manages pests without the usage of pesticides. My favorite product of theirs is the cherry and almond butter coconut clusters. If cherries or almonds are not your gift-receiver’s thing, you can also choose from other cluster flavors, truffles, and chocolate bars.

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Image is not my own and comes from the Alter Eco website.

Anything from Tamga Designs:

When you purchase something from Tamga, you are wearing a work of art. Not only are Tamga designs some of the most unique I’ve seen, but the company is also dedicated to using fashion as a force for social good. They pay their workers a living-wage and are very transparent on their website about the factories they use. Tamga uses sustainable materials such as Modal from sustainable beech-wood forests, Tencel that recycles 99.8% of water and solvents, GOTS certified Organic Cotton, and OEKO-Tex 100 dyes free from harmful chemicals. I would highly recommend a scarf or headband as a gift. Here’s a pic of me wearing the Nila Scarf Toba, as well as an up-close picture of the pattern.

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Ten Tree Clothing:

Do you want to shop and fight climate change at the same time? For every item you purchase from this company, ten trees are planted. Ten Tree has a goal to plant 1 billion trees that will sequester carbon from the atmosphere by 2030. They’re already well on their way by having planted 30 million trees in 8 different countries. I find that a lot of sustainable clothing brands just sell basic solid colored items, but Ten Tree clothes feature neat designs such as constellations and woodblocks. Best of all they use sustainable materials such as organic cotton, hemp, tencel and recycled polyester in their clothing. If purchasing an article of clothing is out of your budget, you can also purchase socks, hats, and towels from Ten Tree.

 

To-Go Ware Bamboo Cutlery:
If you want introduce your loved ones to the concept of zero-waste, this is a great gift to give. Not only does the bamboo look chique, but the set is lightweight and I love that To-Go Ware has a holder to put the utensils inside of. The zero-waste lifestyle can be overwhelming and this is a great first baby step for anyone interested in being more conscious of their waste. 

Honeybee Gardens Eyeshadow Palette:

Out of all of the eco-friendly eye-shadows I’ve tried, Honeybee Gardens is my favorite. They are by far the most pigmented and durable eyeshadows I’ve tried and don’t crease after an hour of wearing. Their palettes are my favorite because they choose colors that go together well. Honeybee Gardens is also one of the more affordable green-beauty brands, with the palette costing $27. This unfortunately can be the price of one eyeshadow color for many green beauty brands. I love how they work with the National Resources Stewardship Council to obtain ethically-sourced and child-free mica and regularly test for heavy metals in their cosmetics. The palette is also recyclable and refillable. I highly recommend the Canyon Sunset Eyeshadow Palette, which won the Delicious Living 2018 Beauty & Body Award.

Here’s a pic of me wearing the eyeshadows

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Pela Phone Case:

This is the world’s first and only compostable phone case. This phone case doesn’t look like someone stitched hemp and elephant poop together, but rather is elegant and sleek. They come in a plethora of colors with cute designs featuring honeybees, turtles, mandalas, as well as a more classic design. Pela phone cases are compatible with most cell phone brands such as the Iphone, Samsung, and Google. Pela uses renewable materials such as starch, natural fibers, and flax shive. When you’re done with your Pela case, you can either compost it or can send them your case through their Pela-Cycle program to be recycled again.

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This photo is not my own and comes from the Pela Case Website

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed:

Okay, so this book doesn’t have anything to do with environmental sustainability, but this has seriously been the best book I’ve read this year. This is a collection of letters that Cheryl Strayed received while working as “Dear Sugar” for The Rumpus and her responses to them. The problems that these people are dealing with are raw and real and have no easy solution, if any at all. I love Cheryl Strayed’s compassionate but yet direct advice that she gave. This book is like wearing a sweatshirt blanket on a cold day with a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, except in the form of a book. Tiny Beautiful Things is guaranteed to light anyone up and I would especially recommend giving it to those going through a difficult season in their life.

BuymeOnce Gift Card: Do you have a family member or friend who’s tricky to shop for? Instead of buying them a gift card to a big-box store, get them one for BuymeOnce. BuymeOnce is an online shop that fights against planned obsolescence by finding the highest quality products on the market. They sell a wide range of products including, but not limited to, clothing, technology, kitchen appliances, home décor, and so much more. Many of the products sold are made out of sustainable materials and even if the product you’re buying isn’t eco-friendly, it will at least be guaranteed to last for years to come.

The best part about eco-friendly gift-giving is that it’s an excellent way to introduce loved ones to conscious consumerism and for them to see that sustainably made products can be chique, cool, and fun.

What’s on your eco-conscious wish list? Let me know in the comment section.

 

Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara Review

Hello lovelies!

Mascara is not my go to product, as I naturally already have really long, dark eyelashes. However,  it has lately become my favorite feature accentuating product, since finding this mascara.

My journey with Physicians Formula mascara did not start out as love at first site relationship. They have several different types of organic mascaras and the one I got did nothing and it took me forever to figure out that it was a poopy mascara. Here’s why.

1.) It defined but could not volumize: My lashes already are pretty defined, so it accentuated the definition of my lashes, which I liked, but however, it could not volumize to save its life. I thought that the amount of volume I got from the mascara was normal, until I started to see in pictures that my lashes looked really no different on camera with mascara on than without mascara. Speaking of that,

2.) It looked weird in pictures: It’s amazing flaws you discover about yourself when you start putting on makeup. Apparently, the eyelashes on my right eye curl more than the left. Yay for uneven eyelashes! The mascara made this 10x more noticeable, especially in pictures. It looked like I put mascara on one eye but forgot the other, yikes!

3.) Everyone else who was wearing mascara’s eyelashes looked better than me: When girls with naturally short lashes who I follow on Instagram, were looking better with mascara than me, I knew I had a problem. Did I have to swipe the wand 100x until I cry to get good lashes?

So yeah, it took me like a year to figure out that this was a crappy product, oh well.

Introducing Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara 2.0:

So I found this new updated mascara that claimed that it could volumize and define up to 5x. I don’t know if it’s actually 5x (at least for me) but the results are amazing! I cannot rave enough about it! The wand is very lightweight and applies easily. You get so much volume within the first two swipes and you feel like an eyelash queen afterwards! On me, they are like falsies. I like having the falsie effect without having to buy falsies because I do not trust myself with glue and my eyeballs. Best part is that it’s only $10 and as a poor, soon to be college student, this is great!

Here’s the proof:

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Hat from Forever 21, dress from J.C. Penney

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Wearing nothing but mascara and some rouge, lip color (Vapour Organic Beauty Lip and Cheek Stain in Lure for those who are interested)

Have you tried this product before? Have you tried it against other Physicians Formula organic wear mascaras? What’s your take on it?

 

xoxo
Alex

 

Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette and Acure Organics Lip Lush in Daaang Review

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Clean makeup is awesome. However, it is not awesome when it is unaffordable and/or doesn’t work to save its life. I have been reading green beauty blogs for years now and find a lot of value in learning about the pros and cons of these types of makeup products. Through the green beauty community, I have learned that a.) makeup free of harmful chemicals doesn’t have to stay on for just two minutes., b.) anything that you can find in the drugstore you can almost always find a natural dupe online., and most importantly c.) that green makeup doesn’t have to break the bank. Recently, I found two very affordable products, but whether or not they work you’ll have to read in my review to find out :). Here’s my honest review of an eye shadow palette and lip tint/gloss.

 

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The Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette for only $14 is a true gem amongst natural makeup. 100% vegan and cruelty-free,  it is clean, green, pressed, and you can create glowing, brightening looks within minutes on the fly. These shadows are super easy to apply and blend like a charm! I don’t even need a brush to do it, my fingers/an applicator work just as well. The only downside to these shadows is that they are not richly pigmented. Therefore, you will need to apply more than you might usually in order to get color payoff. However, I personally prefer subtle eye looks as apposed to bold ones, so this works okay for me. There are some wonderful ingredients in this palette such as coconut oil, brown kelp extract, and ginseng root. The Pacifica website does a great job describing the colors so I quoted them below:

Urchin- An iridescent jeweled purple with gold tones.  Use dry as a shadow, wet as a liner.  Perfect for smudging and a great substitute for black.
​Golden- A perfect gold with just the right amount of shimmer.  Use on the lids or line the eyes.
Coral Sand- A satin lid base or highlighter.
Skinny Dip- Matte nude base, a universal brightener.  Perfect for using on the inner eye to add brightness

Urchin, I think, is my most favorite purple eyeshadow ever. A lot of purples make me look like I have a black eye, but not this one. Because the Pacifica eye-shadows aren’t as richly pigmented, it wears more like a neutral brown with purple tones on me. It is thee PERFECT crease color and I especially love combining it with the golden shade. Also, might I add that the coral sand is an awesome coral/peachy color especially for my brown eyes. I learned somewhere along the way that peach is a great color for brown eyes and I totally think it’s true :).

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this eye palette. The shadows stays on all day, doesn’t crease, has little fallout when putting it on, blends well, and the colors are stunning. These are thee best powdered eyeshadows I’ve ever tried next to the Jane Iredale pressed eyeshadow and A LOT less expensive. I cannot stop raving about these eyeshadows and in my opinion, this palette puts a lot of conventional makeup brands to shame!

Now onto the next review. Here’s a picture of the Acure Organics Lip Lush in Daaang!:

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I’m not as enthusiastic about this product as the last one, but I still really, really like it. The ingredients in this first off, let me say, are SUPERB. The creme de la creme of makeup ingredients and online, it is only $5.99 (I paid $8 in the store I got it). It is packed with some fanfreakingtastic stuff such as argan oil, echinacea, and edelweiss stem cells, and cocoa seed butter. Now wonder this gloss taste like chocolate flowers (literally, I’m not even exaggerating in the slightest)!!!! The color in this tube is very deceptive and goes on a lot lighter than it looks. The true color is a sheer plum that is perfect for everyday wear and that you can even wear without any other makeup. Only downside to this gloss is that it does not last very long on the lips and you have to reapply it constantly like a lip balm. However, this gloss makes my lips feel as moisturized as when I put on a lip balm, so I don’t really mind it. Additionally, when you apply it, the color does get on your teeth, so make sure you have some floss handy. Overall though, would recommend!

Here is a picture of me wearing the makeup:

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On the eyes: Urchin on the crease and Golden on the lid. Currently, my new favorite eyeshadow look.

Lip Note: I am wearing this lip lush over a nude-ish colored lipstick, so it’s not an exact representation of the color. But this does show how beautifully it pairs with other colors.

Do you own any of these products?

xoxo

Alex

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s OOTD and Makeup

This is my 19th year celebrating Valentine’s Day as a perpetually single woman.  As of recently, there seems to be this debate on the internet on the topic of Valentine’s day. Lots of folks are apparently saying that they don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day because they feel like its only for couples and/or has too much of a consumerism basis. While I can understand this viewpoint, I think that it’s nice to dedicate a day of the year for celebrating your loved ones. While it is vital to show those whom you cherish that you care everyday, we all get busy and it is hard to treat those we love specially, every day of the week. There is no reason that you can’t celebrate loving yourself and your friends/family on Valentine’s Day. One of the ways I like to celebrate the occasion is by dressing up and incorporating Valentine colors/symbols into my outfit. Here’s my Valentine’s OOTD and Makeup!

 

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Red and Black Flower Crown: Pac Sun 

Leather Jacket: Charlotte Russe

Floral Crop Top: J.C. Penney 

Red Cami: Some boutique that I can’t remember the name of 

Red Fleece Lined Leggings: From Pretty Little Things, a fantastic boutique in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire 

I thought that the red rose flower crown was perfect for the occasion! Red + Flowers + Roses = could you get any better?!?! To keep with Valentine’s Day colors chosen, I also wore a pink crop top with flowers on it and to keep with the red color scheme, chose a red cami and leggings from my closet. My tip for dressing up for any holiday is to look for colors and symbols that are representative.  For Valentine’s Day, this means colors such as red, purple, and pink, and symbols such as flowers, hearts, cuddly animals, chocolate and candy.

Now onto the makeup:

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For this non-toxic makeup look, I blended the eyeshadow colors ‘urchin’ and ‘coral sand’ together from my Pacifica Enlighten Eye Brightening Shadow Palette as well as using ‘skinny dip’, a beige color, on the inner corners of my eyes to given me an awakened look. Urchin is the perfect color for Valentine’s Day, or really any day of the week, as it is described as a ‘soft jeweled iridescent purple’ but on the lid it wears more like a neutral brown. It still does have purple tones to it though, don’t get me wrong. This is good for me because if I wear too much purple on my lids, it looks as though somebody punched me square in the eyes.  Additionally, the matte peach shade was great to blend with because peach is a great color for brown eyes and is a nice, soft color, perfect for Valentine’s Day. For eyeliner, I did a simple line across the top of my lid using my Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eyeliner in Slate for a soft but yet eye popping look. For my cheeks I used my over-loved Vapour Organic Beauty Cream Blush in Lure. This plummy color is perfect for Valentine’s Day! Additionally, I used a plum colored lip gloss from Gabriel Cosmetics that I cannot find no matter how hard I try on their website. I think it’s discontinued :/.

What’s your go to Valentine’s Day outfit and makeup?!

xoxo

Alex

 

Green Beauty Makeup Looks

As a part of living a healthy lifestyle, I like to use as many green beauty products as I can. “Why is that?” you might ask, “How much damage can a little bit of lipstick do?” Well, it turns out my friends that our skin is our biggest organ and 70% of what we put on gets absorbed into our bloodstream. So yeah folks, it’s a big deal. Additionally, I’m one of thee most sensitive people in the world out there and react to the chemicals in mainstream makeup, even the ‘hypoallergenic’ stuff. Plus, why would I want to put things like parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, petroleum, FD and C colors, as well as countless other chemical names that I cannot pronounce nor we know that much about near my skin?  I’ll pass on the chemical cocktail, thanks. If you want to learn more about what you’re putting into your skin, here’s a good link from Organic Beauty Talk.

Lucky for me, there are tons of green beauty brands out there, literally so many, it’s sort of shocking. I didn’t start realizing how big of demand there was for green beauty products until I looked more into it on the web. I can’t say that I’m the biggest makeup wearer of all time, most days I like going barefaced. However, a few times a week when I’m going out it can be fun. Plus the process of putting on makeup is sort of stress relieving in an odd sort of way, ha-ha!

Now here are some green beauty looks I created this past week. Hope you enjoy them!

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Green Beauty Look #1:
Eyes: Most people I know start out by putting on their face makeup and do the eyes last, but I always like to do the eyes first. Why? Because I absolutley hate getting eye shadow on my already done blushed cheeks and then having to wipe some of it off and reapply again. I like dealing with fallout from eye products first so the rest of the process is easy peasy lemon squeezy :). For this look, I knew ahead of time that I was going to be doing a bold lip, so I wanted a very simple eye look to balance it out. It’s kind of like the yin and yang of makeup, ya know?! Anyways, I decided to forgo the eye-shadow and just put on eyeliner. I used the \Honeybee Gardens JobaColors Pencil Eye Liner in Jet Set and made it thicker along the beginning of my lash-line, actually starting a little bit beyond that, and then going smaller and smaller as I went down my lash-line. I then put  on a like 1/4 of eyeliner at the beginning of my lower lash line to widen my eyes a little bit. This eyeliner does smudge and make you look like a raccoon at the end of the day, but I have yet to find a pencil eyeliner that doesn’t do this. Overall though, it’s a pretty good product that is easy to apply and doesn’t smudge all over the place when you first put it on, a problem I’ve had with eyeliners in the past. After applying my eyeliner, I put on some mascara to really make my eyes pop. I used the Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Fakeout Mascara and I really love this product. You can easily purchase it at your local drugstore, it’s very inexpensive for natural makeup, and the ingredients are decent. There isn’t a lot of fallout from this product, especially at the end of the day, which I’m impressed with and it doesn’t make my eyelashes look spider webby, particularly on the bottom lashes. Overall, I’d totally recommend these products! :).

Cheeks: My cheeks I believe are one of my strongest features. I have high cheekbones, so I like showing them off with blush, especially since I’m pretty pale. My favorite, and pretty much the only blush I’ll ever use is the Vapour Organic Beauty Multi-Use Blush Stain in Lure which Vapour describes as a ‘plummy berry’. The thing that I love the most about this blush is that it looks more like a natural flesh on the cheeks rather than someone caking on a bunch of blush. It will give you rosy cheeks in the most beautiful way that does not look over done at all. This color is especially good for people with wicked fair skin with neutral undertones, like me. It looks a lot darker in the tube than it does in real life, but be careful not to apply to much, or otherwise you’ll look like a clown. I always put on jojoba oil on my cheeks before putting it on, because otherwise it will not blend well. However, I do not think that this is a fault of the product as I have very dry skin already. Then I put the color along the highest points/sides of my cheekbones and then rub it along the cheekbone to the apples of cheeks. I like putting more blush towards the sides of my cheeks rather than the apple to create a gradient effect. This prevents you from having clownish cheeks and instead gives you the most gorgeous flesh. For this look, however, I did put a bit more on the apples of my cheeks, as I really wanted that ‘rosy cheek’ look and I wasn’t putting a lot on my eyes.

Lips; For the lips I used the Vapour Lure Multi-Use Stain on my lips as well and I don’t like it as much on my lips as my cheeks, but the color is a good one for me. On my lips, it’s a unique blend of a warm mauve with hints of berry. It’s great to wear alone, but for this look, I wanted a bolder lip, so I used a chemically laden NYC lipstick that I only use for theatrical productions, to give it more of a fire engine berry look. The only reason I’d use something as bad as an NYC lipstick is because I don’t have a non-toxic red lipstick yet. Suggestions ladies? I know that fire engine berry sounds like an odd color combination, but it looks cool on the lips. I think this combo is wicked pretty and really brightens up the face, especially if you’re pale like me :).

Green Beauty Look 2:

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I absolutley love this look; love, love, love it. I think it’s perfect for any season, fall, spring, winter, you name it and it really highlights your best features.

Eyes: For the eyes, I started off by putting on a Jane Iredale pressed eye shadow that is a beautiful, neutral shade called walnut that they sadly no longer carry. Jane Iredale pressed eye shadows stay on all day, don’t diminish in color easily, does not crease all that much, and is easy to blend. They also don’t really irritate my eyes, which is awesome, because everything irritates my eyes, especially when I first put it on, ha-ha. I’m literally the world’s most sensitive person I think. I wish that they still carried this color as it’s the perfect neutral for me. I want to buy more Jane Iredale pressed eye shadows, but now they make them with fd and c dyes,which I don’t like. There is absolutley  no way to tell which ones have it or not because it has that may contain +- at the bottom, which applies to all of the eyeshadows, grrrfff.  Maybe I should just go and choose the least colorful ones? Haha, I don’t know, it’s super duper confusuling and frustrating. Even if with pretty respectable companies, like Jane Iredale, I wish that they’d let us know which ones had dyes in them, so people like me who do not like dyes can avoid them. I don’t see why it’s so hard to list which individual ones have it. *Sigh*.  Anyways, after I put on my lovely eye shadow, I put on my Gabriel Eyeliner in Navy. The color of this eyeliner is a bit deceptive, because the further away you put it on from the lash line, it’s going to look more like a bright blue. However, when you get close to the lash line, it does look like a true navy. I love using this navy color because it’s less harsh than black and I think it looks really unique with a neutral brown color. I wish that I would’ve gotten a more closeup picture, so you could see more of the blue color. However, I think that this picture is proof that you can wear a bold blue color and do it in a more subtle way that is not shocking to the system, ha-ha. For this look, I stayed really close to my lash line on the top, so that it’d look more like a navy color. On my lower lash line though,  I put a light coat on to let some of the true bright blue ‘pop’. I also finished the eyes off with the Physicians Formula Organic Wear Mascara.

Cheeks: Did the same thing as the first green beauty look, with the same exact blush. I never switch up my blush, ha-ha.

Lips: I used the Vapour Organic Beauty Multi-Use Stain in Lure for my lips as well, as well as put a coat of an Aubrey Organic Lip Tint (they sadly no longer make lip tints, anymore) on top. This lip tint is a beautiful pink, strawberry color that really moisturizes and makes your lips shine. It also smells absolutley delectable and does not have that awful lipsticky taste. Too bad they don’t make them anymore :(.

Oh and for those of you who are interested in where my hat came from it is from Forever 21. It is a huge statement hat, but surprisingly looks good one me even though it is wicked big. Big hats usually don’t look that great on me because I have a small head, ha-ha.

Those are my green beauty looks of the week! Do any of you guys use these products? Which look is your favorite, 1 or 2?

-Alex