Natural Beauty Finds at Target

Target GroupI’ve been really impressed lately with Target’s natural beauty offerings, and a few of them are in my frequently used category. Boots makes a couple that I completely adore, the Botanics Hot Cloth Cleansing Balm, and the Botanics Organic Hydrating Cream. The former is 97% organic and the later is 81% organic. Both of them have very clean ingredients that are free parabens and phthalates, and are amazingly inexpensive. I have tried many cleansing balms including Eve Lom, Omorovicza, and Diptyque, and the Boots Botanics Cleansing Balm is my favorite. (You can see in the pic below that my jar is almost empty and I’m ready to bust out my new one). The scent is light and grassy, but doesn’t linger, and the olive oil, shea butter, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil melt easily on the skin and feel soothing as you massage it on your face. A cloth is included, which you run under hot water, and then lay it over your face for a minute, then smooth the balm away. I always notice how soft my skin is after I use this. Continue reading “Natural Beauty Finds at Target”

Soft Skin by Wash the Day Away

Cardamom Orange Lotion by Wash the Day Away is my favorite skincare find this winter. It’s unabashedly spicy with a fervid dosing of cardamom and the sharp effervescent of lime. If you love cardamom, and by this I mean the vibrant scent of freshly chopped pods, Cardamom Orange will send you into blissful olfaction as its spiciness is more akin to adventurous culinary pursuits rather than a gentle hint or suggestion of the seasoning.

Its piquantness settles after a half hour or so as the sweetness of orange becomes more apparent and the kick of cardamom and lime recede into backnotes. The hydrating properties of Cardamom Orange last much longer than that since it’s loaded with powerful healers like calendula, aloe vera juice and aloe vera gel (the first three ingredients) along with shea butter and wheat germ oil (the next two ingredients).

This lotion is surprisingly light for how well it moisturizes and completely absorbs into the skin within seconds. I’ve been keeping my sample jar in the car for a quick fix, and can grip the steering wheel moments after application without feeling like I’ve greased it with butter. Kind of a silly example, but you get the point.

If you’re interested in Wash the Day Away’s Lotions, but cardamom isn’t quite you’re thing, I highly recommend the Bergamot Coriander Lotion as well. It too is redolent of kitchen spices, but it’s toned down and has a floral facet thanks to the always lovely neroli. The formula of Bergamot Coriander is a tad thicker than the Cardamom Orange, but it absorbs just as quickly.

Wash the Day Away has many lotions to choose from, and Lavender Lemondrop and Warming Mandarin Rum are next on my list to try. You’ll find many more enticing products at the Wash the Day Away etsy shop. Both lotions are $14.75 for an 8oz jar or $7.75 for 4oz.

Disclosure: Samples were provided to me by Wash the Day Away. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.


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 might be getting some action real soon. Aftelier’s Pear, Fir and Coffee Body Oil and Hair Elixir is available at, $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
Perfume Shrine
Smelly Blog
The Non Blonde

Best of 2011 image by Roxana of Illuminated Perfume


Arcona Chamomile Balm

Out of nowhere, my skin started acting up. I’ve been dealing with some redness and sensitivity that I’ve not experienced before and I needed to get something quick to calm down my upset epidermis. So about two weeks ago I popped into Blush Beauty Bar, a locally owned beauty shop here in Portland, and made a beeline for the Arcona display. I’ve heard nothing but positive things about this all natural skincare line, so when I spotted their Chamomile Balm I knew it had to go home with me. I happily made my purchase and hoped for the best.


That was about two weeks ago, and I’ve been using the balm over my moisturizers, typically evanhealy’s serum at night and Dr. Hauschka Quince Day Cream for the day. One pump of the balm is all I need, and it feels wonderful on my skin. The soothing effects are immediate, but most noticeable after a night’s sleep. Its finish is just shy of matte, so it works beautifully under a foundation. I was told by the SA at The Beauty Bar to pat the balm gently onto my face and never to rub it. I’m not sure why the no-rubbing rule, but I have obeyed and it’s working so I’m not going to change it up!


So far, it has had a calming effect as my redness has subsided and my skin feels softer. It might be a coincidence of course, but I’m going to give credit to this chamomile rich balm. Its texture is superb as it’s lightweight but extra-hydrating and is perfect for the transitions from season to season. It does smell intensely of fresh chamomile which might be too much herbal earthiness for some, but don’t let that discourage you as the scent is short lived and the effects are worth it. Now that my skin has gone back to its baseline, I don’t need to use the Chamomile Balm twice daily, but I will use it a few times a week at night to maintain my soothed skin.


Arcona Chamomile Balm is $28 for a 15ml pump and is available online at


Ingredient List:

Agua (Distilled Water), Aloe Vera (Aloe Barbadensis) Extract, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter) (Shea Butter), Glycerine, Blue Chamomile Oil (Anthemis Nobiis), Butcher’s Broom (Ruscus Aculeatus) Extract (Ruscus Aculeatus), Licorice (Glycyrrhiza Glabra) Extract (Glycyrrhiza Glabra), Horse Chestnut Extract (Aesculus Hippocastanum), Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract (Apple), Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Extract (White Tea), Hydrocotyl Extract (Centella Asiatica), Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) (Vitamin C), D Alpha Tocopherol Acetate (Vitamin E) (Vitamin E), Allantoin (Comfrey Root), Grapefruit Seed Extract (Citrus Grandis)