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Portland Bee Balm Review
Cheap Thrills, Earth Friendly, Get Local, Hot Lips, Reviews - Comments Off - August 13th, 2012

A few months ago, I noticed a new lip balm brand popping up in my local New Seasons and Whole Foods Markets. It’s called Portland Bee Balm, and it’s handmade in Portland (duh!) with locally sourced beeswax and honey. I checked out the label, and because it also has peppermint essential oil in it, I didn’t buy it immediately. I am just not a peppermint fan, so I resisted the temptation to purchase.

Fast foward a few months, and that Portland Bee Balm was still making its siren call… “Check me out! You know you want to! Try me!” See, I’m a sucker for all things local, handmade, and organic, and despite the peppermint, I just couldn’t resist. Also? It was cheap! At under three bucks a tube, I figured that if I really, truly hated it, I wouldn’t be wasting much money. Besides, HUSBAND doesn’t hate peppermint and I’d just make him use it. *evil*

It contains beeswax from Sauvie Island. First, about that beeswax. It’s hard to label beeswax “organic” because bees go where they want. But, this is probably as good as it gets. The beehives are located on an organic farm that’s surrounded by other organic farms. Next, it contains organic extra virgin coconut oil, organic extra virgin olive oil, honey, and organic peppermint essential oil. The honey comes from their own hives, that they keep in their backyard. Peppermint is also an Oregon crop, but I don’t know if their peppermint EO is from Oregon or not. I hope so!

I’m going to be honest – it’s not the best lip balm ever. If it were me making it (I used to make and sell lip balm, among other things) I’d probably decrease the amount of wax, because it’s a bit on the draggy side. All that wax does have a few advantages though. It doesn’t get too soft if you keep it in your pocket, even on a hot day, as I did all week on a camping trip recently. It also lasts longer on your lips than other lip balms I’ve tried, which is a definite PLUS. The peppermint isn’t super-strong, so even an avowed peppermint hater like myself will find it tolerable, even *gasp* fresh and pleasant. Overall, it’s nicely emollient, has good lasting power, and you can feel good that it’s about as pure and natural as lip balm can get.

If you live in the Portland metro area, you can find Portland Bee Balm in shops all over town – check out their Facebook for more info on that. You can also order it directly from their website if you’re interested in trying a little bit of Oregon in a tube. I’ll probably keep buying it because it’s inexpensive, gets the job done, and it’s local!

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Flora Theo Natural Perfume Review
Get Local, Perfume, Reviews - Comments (2) - August 8th, 2012

Flora is a little boutique located in Downtown Portland. It’s best described as an eclectic mix of gifty things, including jewelry (which by the way they if you are looking for a choker they have AMAZING ones), tea, funky doodads, bath things, and more. I promise, if you are looking for a gift, either small or large, you will find it at Flora. There is, quite literally, something for everyone.

Flora also offers their own line of sprays, balms, and perfumes. When I was there, I just HAD to pick up the Theo Natural Perfume, because, well. THEO. It wasn’t named after my cat, but anything that shares a name with Sir Pawsome has to be good. Theo has notes of notes of cocoa, bourbon geranium and woods, specifically cedarwood. Ordinarily, geranium is a non-starter for me. In this blend, it adds a freshness that’s a nice counterpoint to the richness of the cocoa and the cedarwood. Theo goes on rich, and stays rich. As it warms on your skin, a sweetness starts to develop, but it’s not cloying. Theo is ultimately a very comforting scent, like a wool blanket you’d pull around yourself on a cold day.

Flora Natural Perfumes are made with only pure essential oils, absolutes and organic botanical infusions. They are blended in a base of fractionated coconut oil and/or jojoba oil. They come in a dainty rollerball bottle, and it’s small. There isn’t a size listed, but I’d guess it’s around a quarter to a half an ounce. Theo is $35.

If you should find yourself in Downtown Portland with some time to kill, do check out Flora and sniff the perfumes. I’m sure you’ll find something you like.

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Skin Tip: Honey?
Get Local, Health, Skin Care - Comments (4) - November 14th, 2011

I’ve been on the prowl again for something to treat a persistent case of atopic dermatitis (eczema) on my legs, since for other health reasons (and because it’s just not good for long-term use) I won’t use corticosteroids. I’ve had this eczema on my legs for 18 years, no kidding, so I’ve pretty much tried everything to get rid of it. Recently, a friend asked if I’d tried honey. Honey is recommended even in the best 10naturalhomeremedies sites.

Honey? Like, get all sticky? Umm, nope, haven’t tried it. Intrigued, I decided to see if there was any merit to the idea of putting honey on my skin to try to at least reduce the dermatitis. (It’s bad. Itching, scaling, oozing, and bad scarring are my daily companions.) I found a study that looked at using a mixture of beeswax, olive oil, and raw honey, applied three times a day, to treat atopic dermatitis. The results look promising!

The study looked at patients who were not currently using a treatment, as well as patients using a steroid cream to treat their dermatitis. (I fall into the first category.) According to the study, 80% of the participants who had used no prior treatment had a significant improvement using the honey mixture, with a profound improvement in scaling, itching, and oozing. Whoa!

Admittedly, the sample size is small. Of the 21 participants with eczema, 10 of them had used no prior treatment, which means that 8 people saw improvement.

The study author had this to say about honey, beeswax, and olive oil:

Honey has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help to decrease pain and the appearance of scars, and that lead to faster wound healing. Olive oil also has antibacterial properties and the ability to inhibit substances that lead to inflammation. Olive oil and honey both contain flavonoids that help protect cells and inhibit histamine (a substance involved in allergic reactions). Beeswax has anti-inflammatory properties and is often included in formulas to treat burns and other skin conditions. However, honey also works for hair removal, personally I preffer this top laser hair removal professional service.

Because there really aren’t any potential side effects from such a simple remedy, I’m giving it a go. The mixture is made by combining equal parts beeswax, raw honey, and extra virgin olive oil. Because I used to formulate cosmetics, I mistakenly formulated this by weight, and not volume. Doh! Yeah, doing it by weight means there is way too much beeswax in the formula. If you make this yourself, measure by volume. You’ll have to melt the beeswax first, so it’s liquid and measurable. Adding twice as much oil and honey as beeswax by weight has given me a balm that’s probably still heavy on the beeswax but is workable on the skin. If you’re going to try it, please buy local raw honey – read this article to find out why. I’m going to give it a try, and I’ll report back!

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Wild Carrot Herbals Skincare Review
Cat, Complexion, Get Local, Skin Care - Comments (1) - October 9th, 2011

I’ve been eying Wild Carrot Herbals’ products for a long time. They are an Oregon company, making plant-based skincare and body care, as well as an entire baby line. I’ve watched this line grow and evolve, and decided it was time to purchase some things and give it a whirl. I’m really pleased so far!

Earlier this summer I bought a bottle of the Oregon Strawberry & Rose Toner, when I happened to give it a spray at our local grocery. It smelled amazing!! The toner really does smell like fresh strawberries mixed with the soft floral scent of roses. It’s alcohol-free, and it’s very soothing to the skin. I’m pretty much hooked on this and have bought a second bottle. The formula consists of strawberry essence, radish root extract, and Bulgarian rose essential oil. I like it for my oily skin, but any skin type could use it. It’s very refreshing on a warm day or after exercising.

I also bought (admittedly for the smell) the Cardamom Facial Cleanser after trying the toner. I’ve developed a real fondness for cream/milk type cleansers (the kind that don’t foam or lather) because they take makeup off like no ones business and leave my face happy and clean. This one is no exception, and has become my new favorite cream cleanser. It smells amazing, but more importantly, gets the job done with no breakouts or other problems. The formula is a simple one, with apricot oil and virgin coconut oil, and essential oils of cardamom and lemon. I think the lemon is a nice choice for oilier skin types as it’s a bit astringent. Cardamom essential oil, in my research, is also provides some antiseptic benefit.

I’m really interested in exploring more of the Wild Carrot Herbals line – like the Blue Burdock Moisturizer and the Soulshine Ambrosial Serum. If you can find these products in a natural grocery or health food store near you, do check them out! You can also order online. I give them two thumbs up!

(Theo looked like a good background for the product shots.)

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Detrivore Cosmetics Is Open Again!
Get Local, Shopping - Comments Off - July 14th, 2011

I just wanted to make a quick post to say that Detrivore Cosmetics has moved across the country and are open for business again! Also… they are here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon!! Woohoo!! Another local business to support!

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Vireo Perfumes Smoke Follows Beauty Perfume
Etsy, Get Local, Perfume - Comments (5) - January 20th, 2011

Through the cedarI love the smell of woodsmoke. There’s something very pleasing about it to me, and it’s linked to good memories of camping. I’m obsessed with lapsang souchong tea because of the smokey aspect, and decided to do an Etsy search for lapsang souchong to see what came up. Surprise! Vireo Perfumes came up because they make a lapsang infused perfume. I couldn’t resist and ordered the perfume.

It’s called Smoke Follows Beauty, and is a perfume oil in a dram vial (about 1/8th an ounce). Small, yes, but it’s really potent! I just tap the vial against my pulse points and I can smell it all day!

The fragrance is composed of Fir balsam, vanilla and hay absolutes, cocoa, guaiacwood, frankincense, lapsang souchong and Vanuatu Sandalwood absolute and organic Austrailian sandalwood, among other things. It is basically woodsy and smokey. At first, you get the campfire smoke. As that wears away, the woods become prominent and wear for hours. It’s a very uncomplicated fragrance, and basically proclaims “I Am The Great Outdoors” very clearly. I love it.

Vireo Perfumes are all natural, made in a base of fractionated coconut oil with vitamin e. They are made here in Portland OR, local to me, which is really cool. Shipping was fast. Overall, I couldn’t be more pleased with my perfume oil. Two Thumbs Up!

Note: top image is Through the Cedar by Crinity at flickr; some rights reserved.

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Anderson Soap Company Soap In A Jar
Body Care, Etsy, Get Local - Comments Off - December 28th, 2010

I was cruising through my local Whole Foods Market recently when I spotted a new product: soap in a jar! It’s made by a local company called Anderson Soap Company. It looks kind of like whipped butter, but it’s a body cleanser. The fragrance choices were all really delectable too, so I decided to snag a jar and give it a whirl.

My first choice was the Drizzled Chocolate, which smells like a milk chocolate bar. Have I mentioned how much I like chocolate scented bath stuff? It might be a little weird, but I love the scent of chocolate. It’s a good aromatherapy for me.

The texture is really interesting. It feels a lot like whipped butter when you scoop it out of the jar, but then you can start lathering it up and it’s foamy like a body wash. You can either mash a bit in a mesh sponge or just use your hands. I find the mesh sponge unnecessary and just use my hands. It works up into a nice lather and rinses clean.

It’s not particularly moisturizing, but neither is it at all drying. It’s definitely a good body wash. I’ve even used it on my face on days when I’m in a big hurry (quick! lather from face to toes!) and it was fine on my face too. I’m not really keen on the jar, as I don’t like sticking my wet fingers in, but it’s not that big a deal, and the product is way too thick to put in a squeeze bottle or pump.

I snagged a second jar in Iced Oatmeal Cookie, which smells just like fresh, kind of spicy cookies. Love it!

I bought my products at the Pearl District Whole Foods Market in Portland OR, but Anderson Soap Company also has an Etsy store. I haven’t ordered from the Etsy store, so I can’t comment on customer service. The Soap in a Jar gets two thumbs up!

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Lush King of Skin & Too Drunk
Body Care, Get Local - Comments (1) - December 8th, 2010

I visited Lush recently with a super-bad head cold, and was very happy to receive a tip about their Emotibombs. Specifically, the lovely young man showed me how awesome Too Drunk is for soothing a stuffy nose – it’s like WHOOSH! and all the mint and fennel clears your head. I promptly added one to my purchase, and I think I need to go back for a few more to get me through the rest of the holiday season. I love this one!

I also bought a King of Skin body butter after the nice young woman in the shop demoed it for me on my arm. Lush’s body butters are sort of a solid lotion bar that you use in the shower. I’ve used Buffy before and loved its fabulous scrubbiness, but I haven’t tried a non-scrubby body butter before. King of Skin has cocoa and shea butters, bananas, oatmeal, and avocados. You smooth it onto your skin, rinse a little bit, and voila! Super soft, really good scented skin. My itchy legs love it.

If you live in the Portland area, do visit the Lush on NW 23rd ave. The staff is always really nice and their new store is just beautiful.

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