Nahla Beauty’s Foaming Cleansers

One of the most commonly asked questions here on Scent Hive is; What is my favorite foaming cleanser? Up until this point, I’ve never had an emphatic answer. There are several that I really like, Kahina Facial Cleanser and John Masters Rose Foaming Face Wash being among them. Both of those do a great job of cleansing, smell terrific and are gentle on the skin. But they don’t foam, I mean really foam into a lush lather. It might be a psychological thing, but there are times when I want that serious foaming action. Whether it be after a hard work-out or in the summer when my skin can get a little oily, I want a cleanser that delivers the soapsuds!

I bought a bottle of Nahla Beauty’s Forest Mint Cleansing Milk several years ago when the company’s name was Talulah Skincare. I was very impressed with it at the time, but since I try so many different skincare lines, it fell off my radar. Then I found a 15% off coupon at Leaping Bunny (the promo page is still up so check it out) which renewed my interest.

I received my bottle a few weeks ago, and I now find myself asking; Why did I wait so long to order again? This milky smooth cleanser whips up into a luxurious lather which feels so soft and nourishing. My face is thoroughly cleansed after use, and never feels dry or taut. Its scent is indeed minty, but not a cooling way. It’s more herbal than menthol with hints of sage and thyme. I love that the first ingredients are hydrosols of rose, calendula and St. John’s wort. You’ll find jojoba oil a bit further down the list which adds to the preferred gentle touch I mentioned.

Now that Forest Mint Cleansing Milk is back in my possession, you can be sure I won’t be without it again. Its gentle efficacy and superb foaminess will keep me coming back for more, but Nahla Beauty’s commitment to using all natural ingredients that are handmade in small batches as well as their exceptional customer service is what ultimately has turned me into a devoted customer.

If you have oilier skin or combination skin in the summer months like me, you might want to consider Nahla’s Geranium Sap Purifying Cleanser.  I bought this cleanser last summer while visiting the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique in Venice, Ca. when my skin was “acting up”. It helped get some blemishes under control, but never dried out my skin. The Geranium Sap cleanser is definitely stronger than Forest Milk, so if you have very dry skin, I don’t recommend it. During the colder months I only use it when I need a really deep cleansing. Its scent is strongly redolent of geranium, so do take that into account. I adore the vibrantly herbaceous scent, but I’m sure it’s not for everyone.

Nahla Beauty does offer samples and sample kits, so I encourage you to go that route if you’re looking into this line for the first time.

Forest Forest Mint Gentle Foaming Cleanser is $36 for 4oz. Geranium Sap Purifying Cleanser is $32 for 4oz. They’re a little on the high end, but so worth it as a little goes a very long way with both of these cleansers.

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Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes

I was given the opportunity to test a few Josie Maran products recently, and felt mixed about it at first. I’m always up for trying something new, but I’d been turned off by what I had perceived as “greenwashing” on the JM Cosmetics website. I won’t bet money on this, but a couple years ago, I remember reading words like “100% natural” and “petrochemical-free.” Yet, when I delved into the ingredients, I found several that seemed synthetic and most likely petrol-derived.

If you’re a regular reader here, or have read my “about” page, you know that I am not a purist and have a mix of all natural beauty products in my collection, as well as those that do contain synthetics. What I don’t like though, is when a company sells you on the notion that they are 100% natural, yet upon closer inspection, you find you’ve been mislead. That’s how I felt about Josie Maran Cosmetics.

I don’t know if I’ve loosened up, or if her website has changed, but something’s different. Gone is the promotion of her line as exclusively “all natural,” “green,” or “organic.” This feels more honest, allowing me to embrace what she’s got going on with her company which includes eco-friendly packaging, charitable giving and a website that lists all product ingredients.

To be clear, the overwhelming majority of her line contains ingredients that are naturally derived and none of them contain phthalates or parabens. Organic argan oil, sourced from women’s cooperatives in Morocco, is used in every product which not only helps those women to support themselves and their families, but also to protect the argan forests through responsible harvesting practices and reforestation projects. You can read more about the Josie Maran “Giving Back” philosophy at her website.

Today I’m going to focus on the Beautiful Eyes Palette in Beautiful Smoke. Upon first opening the compact, I was admittedly a bit disappointed as cool grays are not my favorite. I definitely prefer warmer colors, but was happy to give it a try nevertheless.

The texture of these shadows is a little hard, so I was concerned about application. Turns out, the pigment adheres nicely to the brush with just a few swipes over the eyeshadows. The two lightest colors are too frosty for my liking, but I had a fun time playing with different looks that I ultimately found flattering, just not for frequent use. The dark shimmery gray color (lower left pan in the photo below) is really lovely on the lid, and when smudged out, the charcoal eyeliner (in the center) completes the smoky-eye.

The brown on the lower right might seem like the odd ball of the palette, but it blends in nicely when applied as an eyeliner and to the upper lid, close to the lash line. I wore the brown color today as an eyeliner on its own, and was impressed that at least 75% of it remained intact after a full day which included over an hour of rigorous tennis.

Below are two shots of me messing around with my camera, pretending to be a beauty blogger. I hope the last one isn’t too laughably amateurish. I’ve reluctantly included it since it shows off the shimmer quite accurately. I’m also wearing one coat of Dr. Hauschka Volume Mascara in Aubergine, Korres powder blush in 16 Pink , and Ilia Beauty lipstick in Arabian Nights.

Visit Best Things in Beauty for a review of the Argan Beautiful Eyes Palette in Beautiful Nudes.

Josie Maran Argan Beautiful Eyes is available at JosieMaranCosmetics.com for $36. Mine was sent to me by the PR people for Josie Maran. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

All photos were taken by me and are mine. If you ask nicely, I’ll let you use them :-)

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Best of 2011: A Blogging Event.

 

Another year is coming to a close, so it’s time to wrap it up with a Best of 2011 list. Truthfully, there were gobs of fabulous releases this year, particularly in the natural fragrance realm, which makes me giddy and thrilled for all those indie artists devoted to the alchemy of botanical perfume. In the interest of keeping your attention- and since long lists are rarely a pleasure to read through- I’ve distilled my Best Of list to 10.

Best Perfumes:
Muguet de Mai by DSH Perfumes. When I asked Dawn Spencer Hurwitz if she would be interested in creating an all natural muguet scent for a May Day blogging event, I had no idea such a stunningly beautiful, complex, and true-to-life lily of the valley perfume would emerge. Muguet de Mai is like turning over a rain soaked tree branch in the forest to find a protected cluster of freshly blooming lily of the valley, densely floral while teeming with the fecundity of the soil’s riches. Muguet de Mai is a marvel and I can’t thank Dawn enough for taking me up on my offer, and for creating my favorite perfume of the year. Muguet de Mai is available at DSH Perfumes, $125 for 5ml antique parfum presentation. 

To Bee by Roxana Illuminated Perfume. The scent of beeswax, whether it’s burning in a candle or suffusing the skin as a perfume, is one of those aromas that I find instantly soothing. Its honeyed and resinous warmth calms my nerves and slows my breath. To Bee achieves this effect beautifully and is enhanced by many essences, but most notably tonka, ambrette and oud. Even though To Bee is lovely on a cold wintery eve, it’s truly a seasonless scent. I first discovered To Bee in the heat of July when summer’s warmth amplified its delightfully ambery sweetness.  To Bee is available in solid or liquid perfume at Roxana’s etsy shop. I particularly love the solid perfume locket for $30.

Dimanche EDP by Strange Invisible Perfumes. Dimanche was first released as a limited edition parfum in 2010, but in early 2011, it was made available in EDP concentration. The EDP is also limited edition, but the Strange Invisible Perfumes boutique still has a small quantity in stock. Dimanche opens with a cool and crisp iris, then proceeds to warm-up in the middle with hay, rose, and honey. A not-too-sweet amber dusted with cocoa awaits in the drydown, making for an olfactory experience that is multi-layered, compelling and alluring. Dimanche EDP is available only via the SIP Boutique. $270 for 50ml. Please call  310.314.1505 for phone orders. 

Orcas by Ayala Moriel Parfums. Orcas is a fragrance that sweeps you off your feet and carries you along the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Within Orcas, you will discover spruce, moss, rosemary and seaweed that are herbaceous and invigorating. Violet leaf and cedar are also in this seafaring perfume which cast complementing green and woody tones. Wearing Orcas this winter has me longing for a summer drive along the northernmost parts of Highway 101. It’s a little melancholy since those months feel very far away, but put on some Nick Drake and a dabbing of Orcas, and wallow in its wistful beauty. Orcas is available at Ayala Moriel Parfums, $120 for 15ml splash bottle.

Cologne du Maghreb by Tauer Perfumes. I recently reviewed Andy Tauer’s all natural cologne a few weeks ago, but it is so remarkable, that I can’t help but mention it again so soon, as it really is one of the Best of 2011. I love how CdM’s deliciously vibrant citrus notes are savored from its opening notes to the drydown. Orange blossom and cedar are then enjoyed in the middle stage of CdM’s development, and the drydown is more than worth waiting for. To quote my review, “… in the end, this classically styled cologne morphs into an amber fragrance replete with sweet yet animalic labdanum that still continues to be green and citrusy-floral. It’s really amazing and beautiful and appropriate for both men and women.” Cologne du Maghreb is available exclusively at Indiescents. $65 for 50ml atomizer flacon.

Best Skincare, High-End and Luxurious:
I hand this award to Tammy Fender without a moment’s hesitation. Her eponymous skincare line was launched several years ago, but it’s a 2011 find for me, so on this list it goes. The product that I am most crazy about and would gladly shell out 95 clams for, is the Antioxidant Creme with Neroli & Orange. Click on the link and you’ll find the full list of ingredients that reads like a juice bar menu, as well as information on highlighted ingredients like algae extract and carrot seed. I am totally addicted to the glorious neroli scent of this facial moisturizer. It smells just like the orange blossom seasons I remember from my childhood, and it sends me into a relaxing sleep. The consistency is a cream-gel hybrid that feels nourishing as it rapidly absorbs into the skin. I use this at night as I don’t want to use my little jar of precious up too quickly, but if I had my druthers, I’d use it day and night. Tammy Fender Antioxidant Creme is available at her website, $95 for 1.9oz glass jar.

I am also loving the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk which is rich and thick and possesses an aromatic lavender scent that vacillates between sweet and herbal. I know lavender can be an irritant to some, so if that’s the case, this cleansing milk is not for you. As for me, I love lavender and my skin loves it as well, so I slather it on, massage it in, and let it cleanse, which it does very well. Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk is available at her website, $55 for 6.7oz glass pump bottle.

Best Skincare, Drugstore Deal:
Burt’s Bees has come out with a really nice line of sensitive skincare that’s worth attention. I have the Sensitive Facial Cleanser and the Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream and am highly impressed with both. The cleanser is similar in consistency to the Tammy Fender Cleansing Milk, albeit without the high price tag or the lavender scent. But, the ingredients are just shy of being all natural (99%), and some of the “natural ingredients” are highly processed and nowhere near the food grade, organic quality of Tammy Fender’s line. Having said that, $10 is a much more accessible price point and it works great. Available at Burt’s Bees, $10 for 6 oz.

The Burt’s Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream does a nice job of moisturizing given its lightweight formula. Like the Cleansing Cream, it’s 99% natural- not at the Tammy Fender level of natural- but for $15, you get a lovely cream that wears well under powder or liquid foundation, and has been keeping my skin soft even in this winter weather. Soothing aloe, shea butter and moisturizing rice extract provide efficacious hydration, and is fragrance free. It’s available at Burt’s Bees, $15 for a 1.8 oz pump.

Best Body Moisturizer:
Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir by Aftelier Perfumes. Scent Hive readers might remember that I included this gem in my Holiday Gift Guide. Now it’s making an appearance on this list because not only does it make a great gift, it also happens to be my favorite body oil of the year. (Body oils are my preferred mode of skin hydration, BTW). So why do I love this one so much? It’s that quirky mix of notes, pear, fir and coffee, that excites my senses as this trio of fruity, balsamic, and earthy essences play against each other in a truly unique way. The luscious blend of fractionated coconut and jojoba oils provide superb hydration and act as excellent carriers for the botanical essences. I wish my sample wasn’t tapped out as I am dying to use it in my hair since it’s also billed as a hair elixir. I guess that means my shopping cart over at Aftelier.com might be getting some action real soon. Aftelier’s Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir is available at Aftelier.com, $40 for a 3.5 oz glass pump bottle.

Please visit the blogs listed below as they are also sharing their “Best of 2011″ picks. I can’t wait to see what they favored this year!

Another Perfume Blog
DSH Notebook
EauMG
Perfume Shrine
Smelly Blog
The Non Blonde

Best of 2011 image by Roxana of Illuminated Perfume

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Lilium by Providence Perfume Co.

Solid Perfume Balms are the latest offering from Providence Perfume Co, and they are fantastic. They are smooth and sensual, smell gorgeous, and the best part is that they are very reasonably priced. $36 gets you a 1/2 ounce jar of this shea butter based balm whose fragrance lasts throughout the day with an impressive sillage. There are four scents to choose from: Chiffonade is an earthy orris based fragrance, Moon Flower is a spicy, indolic jasmine with a soft sandalwood drydown, and Jazmina is a romantic melding of jasmine and rose laced with a touch of nutmeg for intrigue.

 

But it’s Lilium that really won me over, which was not my expectation. According to the Providence Perfume Co. website, Lilium is comprised of stargazer lily, almond, rose, geranium and spice. All of those notes are winners in my book, save for that darn stargazer lily. She and I are are decidedly not friends. Not even close. When given stargazers in a bouquet, I’ll admire their beauty for a moment, but then quickly ditch them into the compost as I find their fragrance to be overwhelming and headache inducing.

So you can imagine that I approached my trial of Lilium with more than a little trepidation. In fact, I almost passed on it entirely. But Charna Ethier, creator of Providence Perfumes, was very kind to send me samples of all four, so I felt like I should give Lilium a go.

Thankfully, Lilium does not possess the smothering scent of the stargazer lily. To be sure, it dances on the edge of the piquant aroma that the stargazer emanates, but Charna explores the spicy side of this quality via her stargazer accord.

Lilium’s spicy blend is gorgeous. It reminds me of a dense and rich carnation based perfume with loads of spices like cardamom, clove, and pepper. Rose and geranium give Lilium a foothold in the floral category and almond lends a bittersweetness, but the warmth from the spices gets all of my attention.

I’ve been looking for a carnation perfume to love for several years now. I’m pleasantly surprised that Lilium is where my search comes to a beautiful end. I can wrap myself in Lilium’s rich and exotic drapery, amidst its mystery and comfort, which is much needed for the chilly months ahead.

Image: Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John SInger Sargent at artmagick.com

Disclosure: Samples were provided to me by Providence Perfume Co. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.Share

A Poem for the Winter Solstice

On Winter’s Margin

On winter’s margin, see the small birds now
With half-forged memories come flocking home
To gardens famous for their charity.
The green globe’s broken; vines like tangled veins
Hang at the entrance to the silent wood.

With half a loaf, I am the prince of crumbs;
By snow’s down, the birds amassed will sing
Like children for their sire to walk abroad!
But what I love, is the gray stubborn hawk
Who floats alone beyond the frozen vines;

And what I dream of are the patient deer
Who stand on legs like reeds and drink that wind; -
They are what saves the world: who choose to grow
Thin to a starting point beyond this squalor.

~by Mary Oliver

Image: Barn Owls by Hadley Hutton

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Sonoma Scent Studio- Fig Tree

 

Hanukkah beings tonight, and I’ve been poring over food blogs for new recipes and general holiday inspiration. I keep coming across delicious fig based dishes and desserts like Braised Chicken with Cilantro, Lemon and Dried Figs and Olive Oil Orange Cake with Poached Figs. Don’t those recipes sound amazing? I really hope I can find the time to make them both this week.

One figgie thing I will definitely make time for, is wearing Sonoma Scent Studios Fig Tree in both its forms, perfume and shea body cream. Fig Tree embodies all that I love about fig fragrances but have never managed to find with such well-balanced proportions. This fig scent is equal parts creamy, sweet, dryly woody, musky, and dewy green. The perfume strikes me as a little drier and muskier than the sweeter and greener body cream, but I would never be able to pick which one I prefer. In fact, when they are layered, an even more complex fig aroma emerges with hints of coconut and an amplified impression of freshly crushed leaves embedded in rich soil.

When it comes to the woody side of Fig Tree, cedar is undeniably the main contributor. If you’re not already an established cedar fan, then Fig Tree might not be for you. But if you kind of like it, this earthy and vanillic perfume might turn you into a full-fledged card carrying cedar fan club member. And of course, if you already have that card in your wallet, Fig Tree is a must-try.

Gaia over at The Non Blonde recommends giving Fig Tree a try, even if you aren’t crazy for the mainstays of figgie perfumes like Diptyqie’s Philosykos or L’Artisan’s Premier Figuier. I wholeheartedly agree with her assessment of Fig Tree being more dimensional than either of those and yes, as Gaia says, Fig Tree is definitely magical.

 

Fig Tree Perfume comes in several sizes and price points. The 17ml spray bottle is $34. The Shea Body Cream is $16 for 4oz. Available at SonomaScentStudio.com.

Sonoma Scent Studios uses a high percentage of natural essences in their perfumes, but uses synthetic aromachemicals as well. Please see the FAQs page for more information regarding their perfume ingredients.

The Shea Body Cream is all natural, save for 1% of a paraben-free preservative system composed of three items: sodium hydroxymethylglycinate (derived from the natural amino acid glycine), phenoxyethanol (a mild antibacterial), and caprylyl glycol (from palm kernal oil with skin-softening and antibacterial properties). It does not contain parabens, petrolatum, propylene glycol, mineral oil, isopropyl myristate, silicones such as cyclomethicone and dimethicone, triethanolamine (TEA), diethanolamine (DEA), diazolidinyl urea, or DMDM hydantoin.

Fig Tree watercolor by Julia Rymer Brucker at etsy.

Disclosure: Samples of Fig Tree were provided to me by Sonoma Scent Studios. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Tauer Perfume's Cologne du Maghreb

A review of Andy Tauer’s work has been a long time coming on Scent Hive as he is a beloved artist in the indie perfume community. When I first smelled his Cologne du Maghreb last year, I was instantly smitten, but didn’t write about it as it was not available for sale. I am happy to report that Indiescents is now a stockist for Cologne du Maghreb, but according to Basenotes, it is only being produced in limited quantities.

In keeping with my current holiday-citrus theme, CdM is saturated with spirited bergamot and neroli. Unlike many short-lived citrus topnotes, CdM’s expand into the heart of the fragrance where you will also find sleek cedarwood that reveals itself subtly since neroli and orange blossom absolute have been breathed into its grain. CdM evolves into a woody floral at this point, having lost the sharpness of bergamot while still retaining the juicy essence of citrus.

I would have been completely happy and satisfied if that was all CdM had to offer, but am entirely thrilled that in the end, this classically styled cologne morphs into an amber fragrance replete with sweet yet animalic labdanum that still continues to be green and citrusy-floral. It’s really amazing and beautiful and appropriate for both men and women.

I love this quote from Basenote’s interview with Andy Tauer in regards to CdM being 100% natural. “Essential oils, absolutes, resins and love find their way into this Cologne. Not more, not less. There is no need for anything else.” He also mentions that the flacon for CdM is the one he used many years ago when he began his perfumery. “In a sense, I go back in time, celebrating my beginning with all natural, all botanical perfumery.” Let’s hope this new beginning brings more botanical creations to Andy’s ever expanding- and well deserved- legions of fans.

Andy Tauer’s Cologne du Maghreb is available exclusively at Indiescents. $65 for 50ml atomizer flacon.

Eldena Ruin by Caspar David Friedrich at artmagik.

Disclosure: A sample of CdM was provided to me by Tauer Perfumes. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

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Seasonal Scents

We decorated our Christmas tree this past weekend, and had *Aftelier Perfumes’ Blood Orange, Ginger & Blood Cedarwood candle filling the air with a fragrance that will now forever remind me of this special family tradition. As you might guess from its name, this candle is a piquant blend of orange, ginger and cedarwood that is effortlessly intertwined yet allows for moments when the individual essences shine on their own.

Aftelier’s perfumed candles are made with beeswax and the finest of natural essences. I wasn’t too sure what to expect in terms of throw, but its festive redolence suffused my rather large living room which admittedly was unexpected and very much appreciated. I’ve got it burning right beside me at this moment, and am contemplating an online Aftlelier shopping trip as there are four other candles to try. Since they are limited edition, you might want to check them our sooner than later. I’m ready to hit the button on Resurrection. With notes of frankincense, vetiver, clary sage, geranium, bitter orange, fir needle, and lime, it sounds like an ideal scent for unwinding during the bustling holiday season.

I’ve written a couple times about Olive & Oud, my absolute favorite place to buy soaps. Laura Natusch, the creator of these divine bars, always has inspired blends with essences like cardamom, bitter orange, ginger, clove, vanilla-like Peru Balsam, amyris, nutmeg, and black pepper. Actually, those are the notes for the above soap, Spiced Chai, my current favorite from Laura. Like the Aftelier candle, Spiced Chai is teeming with ginger and orange, but also has a liberal dose of cardamom and clove which make for warm and spicy suds. I like to say that Olive & Oud is a perfumista’s place for soap, and I really do mean that. Laura is currently sold out of Spiced Chai, but she is always making new batches, so please contact her via etsy or Facebook if you are interested. As of today, Bed of Spice, which is similar to Spiced Chai, and another one of my favorites, Cocoa Butter Mint are both available.

 

If it wasn’t already apparent, I love citrus scents this time of year. And what better way to relish the citrus than in another winter favorite, body oil! One of my very first posts was on Jo Wood’s Amka. That was nearly three years ago, but it continues to be a treat for my skin and nose that I reach for again and again. Amka possesses a great deal of sparkling citrus. Orange oil, bergamot, petitgrain, and mandarin oil abound in Amka, but are grounded by an incredibly smooth cedarwood. This counterbalance between vibrancy and tranquility is perfectly achieved in this fragrance and I still enjoy its soothing hydration and restorative scent after a warm bath before bedtime.

Aftelier Perfumes’ Blood Orange, Ginger & Blood Cedarwood candle is available at Aftelier.com for $50. *This was a collaboration with Nikki Sherritt of Gabriel’s Aunt.

Spiced Chai is available at Olive & Oud on etsy for ~$5.50

Jo Wood Amka Bath Oil is available at BeautyHabit for $100 for 100ml. Please note: this is different from the body oil I reviewed. It looks like the Body Oil might have been discontinued. Please see Beauyhabit for the Amka Bath Oil and the EDT which I also adore.

Photo of Aftelier candle and the Christmas Tree are mine. Products reviewed in this post are from my own collection. 

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