What's up with Zinc Oxide?

julij 24, 2016

I had this whole article planned out and I knew what I wanted to say but then I read this article that kinda bummed me out a little bit. As you know I only use natural, organic, green beauty products. When it comes to sunscreen that means I use products containing the safest sun blocking ingredients as possible. There are two - Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. Both are physical UV filters. I say the safest sun blocking ingredients as possible, but is that really true?

Hmm, not sure how to go on with this, my mind is all over the place. Let me start by saying that I'm no expert. This is just me sharing what I know and what I've read. I've been chatting with one of my lovely readers and she mentioned how Zinc Oxide was banned in European Union in 2009. I didn't know that and I did some googling. It turns out Zinc Oxide isn't banned but it's only safe to use up to concentration of 25%. (link) I was like whaaat?! How come no one is talking about it?? I immediately checked my sunscreens. Then the beautiful Nic shared with me this article What's the best way to protect your skin from the sun?, written by Celestyna, the creator of Moss skincare. I highly recommend reading it.
As you know we have chemical and physical UV filters and the later are used in the green beauty community. But are they really safe and effective? Before diving in let me just say that I don't really talk about chemical UV filters here and how nasty they are. Don't think that I'm dissing Zinc Oxide (only a little) but I just wanted to shed some light on it. Chemical UV filters don't need that, I'm sure all of you have heard they are not all that safe to use. To say it mildly. So on to physical UV filters. There is a difference between the two. Titanium Dioxide doesn't cover the entire range of UV radiation like Zinc Oxide does and is also more prone to cause acne. As for the Zinc Oxide goes, it only gives UVA and UVB sun protection if it's non-nano. There is a wonderful explanation of that in the article but what stuck with me is that the larger the particle size, the better the broad spectrum UVA protection, but by no means is that guaranteed. UVA rays are not only more prone to cause photoaging than UVB, they are also as likely or more likely to create cancer-causing DNA damage. Also, there are studies that show with micronized and nano particles, absorption doesn't seem to be a cause for concern. News to me, but it's a great news so I'll take it. So what you can take from this is that A. physical filters are very safe to use and nontoxic to the body - no signs of absorption by the body (and they are also more photostable than chemical filters - another yay!) and B. a product has to contain non-nano Zinc Oxide for full UV protection. Sounds very good and I can thick all the boxes. BUT.

As I have mentioned, supposedly the use of non-nano zinc oxide in cosmetics is safe up to a maximum concentration of 25%. Usually in products there is less than that, but I would still write to brands and ask how much they use (if not stated). Just to be safe. Now as for the thing that blew my mind in Celestyna's article. Both Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide, like chemical UV filters, are toxic to marine life! They can do all kinds of nasty things like damage the embryos of tiny sea creatures. Now are they AS toxic as Oxybenzone? (chemical UV filter, fyi) Doubtful but also, I. D. K. No one does. More studies need to be done! But just because your mineral sunscreen says “reef safe” don’t go feeling all high and mighty. It’s still NOT “100% marine life safe.” It is a massive bummer, to say the least! But don't take this as an excuse to still use sunscreens with chemical UV filters. I found this article where it's reported that nano zinc oxide (which is not only found in sunscreens but other beauty products too) make sea urchin embryos much more vulnerable to other environmental toxins. Nano-copper oxide found in boat paint has the same effect. I didn't find anything but supposedly non-nano Zinc oxide has the same effect. Or does it really?
After all of the above Celestyna then mentions holistic sun care - those who practice this are gradually increasing exposure time to allow the body to adjust naturally to sun rays, they don't use any UV filters on the skin but protect themselves with clothing and use natural oils and butters, and they also eat antioxidant rich food. Sounds great but even though some oils have been linked to sun protection, like Red Raspberry Seed, Carrot Seed, Cranberry Seed and Jojoba, after seeing this article I find that hard to believe.

Take what you will from this post but it looks like non-nano Zinc Oxide is still the way to go when it comes to sunscreen, at least for now. It's not perfect! but even with its flaws it's still a way, way better option than chemical UV filters (which are hormone disruptors, photounstable, have oxidation potential and inadequate UVA protection). Physical UV filters have better UVA protection than chemical UV filters (Sam Bunting thinks so too). After knowing that Zinc Oxide is not as reef-friendly as I thought it was, I'm reconsidering my use of sunscreens. Now I'm not saying I'm going all holistic on sun protection but eating more antioxidant rich food that helps to counteract free radicals pollutants and toxins generate, is a very good idea indeed. I'm still going to use my sunscreens with non-nano Zinc Oxide (some products even use uncoated Zinc Oxide, which is even better). But I'm going to be more mindful and not use it every single day - especially if I know I won't be going much out on the sun or if it's raining. A thought of washing my sunscreen off in the evening and that it eventually ends up in the ocean is not nice. That said I do find some comfort in that I only use it on my face and not all over my body. Of course vitamin D is really important! and staying in shade and covering yourself with a hat and all that, but due to skin cancer and vanity reasons (yes, I said it) I can't part with sunscreen. At least not at this moment in time.

There is much, much more that can be said about this topic, but this post is already too long so I will end it here. I hope I was somewhat clear and that you read something new and interesting.

Much love,

Jana xx

Kari Gran's Goodies

julij 14, 2016

Well hello beauties! What have you been up to these days? What have I been up to? Oh nothing much, only werk, werk, werk, werk... It's not bad, but I'm really missing blogging and chatting with you. Luckily the later is going on on Instagram. Talking about that, if you're like me and follow green beauty babes, then you've probably seen lots of pictures of Beauty Heroes July's boxes. Mines included. Well, today is the day to share with you my first impression/review. I have been using them for two weeks, which is less time than I usually take to review a product, but seeing as the box is only available till the 20th, it's about time to share my thoughts on the July's Box*.
Beauty Heroes brought us yet another amazing beauty box. I don't know how they are doing it, but they always amaze me with their selection. July's box features the gorgeous looking Kari Gran products. They are not only gorgeous on the outside, but also, and mostly, on the inside. Kari Gran is an American brand founded by Kari and is designed to multi-task to reduce clutter and promote simplicity. Using only organic, wild-harvested and non-GMO ingredients, Kari tries to keep things simple, delivering only products that are essential for the timeless ritual of self-care. Kari Gran's minimalist line is also known as "The Little Black Dress" of eco-skincare. Besides the skincare products, which are btw all featured in the July box, Kari Gran also created mineral makeup. I haven't tried it yet but I have seen lots of beautiful reviews of their Lip Whips. But as June's box was all about makeup, July's box is all about skincare. Jeannie and the Beauty Heroes team is very mindful and thoughtful of that. Which is just another awesome thing they do.

Even though the "right" product to review first would be the Hero of the box, I will leave that one to the end. Why? Because the Hero is a sunscreen and you put sunscreen on your face as a last step in your morning routine. So first it is time for the sidekicks. Yes, there are more than one sidekick, which makes my heart sing. Kari Gran Mini Kit consist of Cleansing Oil, Hydrating Tonic and Essential Serum.
Cleansing Oil(100 ml, $30) is probably my favourite of the three. I say probably because I just adore all three minis and it's hard to decide which one I love best. Cleansing oil beautifully removes all my makeup and leaves my skin squeaky clean minus the dryness which is usually associated with that "squeaky clean feeling". It removes all makeup and dirt from the day and leaves my skin feeling smooth, soft and not dry at all! It also doesn't feel oily. It's such a wonderful oil, you feel me?! Like it is with every cleansing oil, I apply a few pumps of oil into the palm of my hand and then onto dry face. I massage it into my skin and remove with a hot washcloth. As you may have heard, double cleanse is a massive game changer in skincare routine and up to late, I've been doing it with a gel or cream cleanser. Here is an example of that. But lately I've been loving using the same product as my second cleanse. To quickly describe it - after first cleanse I again go in with the same cleansing oil and do it all over again. The only thing I'm careful is to always make sure to use the clean side of the cloth. So one side of the cloth for the first cleanse and the other side for the second cleanse.
Hydrating Tonic* (100 ml, $35) contains three ingredients: 100% fractionally distilled Aloe Vera Leaf Distillate, Organic Vegetable Glycerin and Organic Lavender Oil. Maybe it sounds like your average facial toner, but it so isn't average. The Lavender they are using is so amazing and smells beyond gorgeous. If you are not a fan of lavender scented products, I believe you would still love it. If not, they have another toner with Rose Oil, which sounds equally beautiful. The product lives up to the name, it is hydrating, really refreshing and the scent is just so soothing and beautiful. Wish I hadn't used it up already! And I also used up the Cleansing Oil!

Essential Serum* (30 ml, $60) isn't as simple as the already mentioned products are, meaning that it contains more ingredients that the two together. It also doesn't have that amazing lavender scent, but it smells amazing nonetheless. As essential oils go, the serum contains a few of those - Lavender, Frankincense, Rose, Jasmine and Ylang Ylang. How does it smell you say? Well, it smells like Ylang Ylang. I love it. I don't know if it is this product, but my skin has been really happy since I started using Kari Gran's products. I think a lot of it comes down to this beautiful serum. How could it not if it contains a beautiful blend of organic, wild harvested and non-GMO ingredients chosen specifically for their skin-nourishing properties. Essential Serum has some of my favourite plant oils, like Avocado, Rosehip, Camellia, Calendula and Sea Buckthorn Oils. One that I would also like to mention is Arnica Oil, which has amazing inflammation-reducing power. Arnica is an endangered plant and is the perfect remedy for all kinds of bruises, aches, sprains and more. Pure Arnica Oil can cause skin irritations, it can also be toxic, but being diluted as it is in the serum, there is no cause for concern. This product doesn't cause any breakouts, it sinks into the skin beautifully and leaves it soft and moisturized. It's calming and it's safe to say that the more I use it, the more I like it.
Three Sixty Five SPF 28* (30 ml, $48) is the first Kari Gran launch in 4 years. The product is a physical, broad-spectrum, facial sunscreen to be used 365 days of the year - rain or shine. Hence its name. You should always look for an SPF product with broad-spectrum protection. This means that the product protects from UVA, rays that age the skin, and UVB, rays that burn skin. Three Sixty Five contains non-nano Zinc Oxide (17% - this is important, but I will talk about that in my next post). This active ingredient is supported by free radical-fighting Red Raspberry Seed and French Plum Oil. It's formulated without a drop of water but loaded with Macadamia, Kukui, Avocado and Jojoba oils, and Vitamin E. It also contains Beeswax, so no, the product is not vegan friendly. The product isn't as oily as you might think, but it's not super lightweight either. That being said, it is a beautiful product to use and I've been really loving it. The consistency is like an oily lotion, but in the best possible way imaginable! Oily because it doesn't contain water but mostly oils, and lotion because it looks like a lightweight lotion.

As you see, it is white (because of the Zinc Oxide). At first it can leave a slight white cast on the skin, but after massaging it in it disappears. One pump of the product is just enough for my whole face. The product needs quite a bit of time to sink into skin, which also depends on how much you use. And don't use an oil underneath it, the sunscreen has got you covered. It's not as easily absorbed and lightweight as is the Kimberly Sayer Ultra Light Facial Moisturizer SPF 30, that's for sure. I'm used to oils and I love to apply them even before makeup, but I imagine some might need a bit of time to get used to it. All I know is that I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's very hydrating and nourishing and at the same time it doesn't clog my pores one bit! Zinc Oxide actually has an anti-bacterial benefits so it's actually perfect for acne-prone skin. I think this is also one of the reasons my skin has been looking particularly nice. I love that it is not drying nor heavy on the skin, which can happen with sunscreens. It goes perfectly with the Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation and the blend of both gives my skin a dewy look.
July's Beauty Heroes Box is definitely worth its $39. If you haven't already (what are you waiting for?), subscribe here. Kari Gran's products sure are gorgeous and they have been really agreeing with my combination skin. Love. I also want to mention that if you subscribe to Beauty Heroes you get 15% off in their Beauty Store. What is really exciting is if you spend $100 there, you will receive a full size Peppermint Naked Lip Whip ($16 value).

I'm sorry this post is long AF, but that's how I roll. Apparently. If you read my mussings, then I hope you enjoyed. :)

Much love,

Jana xx

*samples generously provided
**this post contains affiliate links (like every article from other BH brand ambassador does)

Ursa Major Perfect Zen Body Lotion

julij 10, 2016

Ursa Major is a Vermont based green beauty brand. To make their perfect products every one of them has to meet their three simple criteria: Is it effective? Is it healthy? Is it sublime? All this means is that they create potent formulations without filler ingredients. They rather use more than 50% organic ingredients, which are also gluten and cruelty-free. With the use of the highest-grade natural ingredients they want to only create products with luxurious textures and out-of-this-world aromas. Sounds good to me!The product I want to review today is their beautiful Perfect Zen Body Lotion.*
First of all, don't you just love the name Perfect Zen? Being constantly busy and all over the place, names like this make me zen even reading them haha. When I think of zen scents, I immediately think of Lavender. The body lotion does contain Lavender Flower Oil but it doesn't really smell like it. It's hard to describe the scent. I'm having a hard time pinpointing the notes, so I'll help myself with their description - "A verdant blend of essential oils with traces of Sweet Orange, Bergamot and Cedar". The scent is light and quite noninvasive, it's kinda like a blend of lightly sweet and lightly citrusy scent. Smells creamy and soft. Something like that. All these essential oils and more, like Mandarin Red and Rosemary, are blended in a base of Aloe Vera Juice, which is organic of course. The one ingredient I don't care for it is Cetyl Palmitate, which is a palm oil derivative and I try to use as little of palm oil as I can. I'm actually doing quite a good job avoiding it. :) Read more about the devastating effect palm oil has on the environment here.
Okay so I've already talked about the soft and pretty scent, let's move to the texture and performance. Lotion has such a lovely consistency. I'd describe it as a thick lotion, so not as light as lotion but not as thick as cream, and especially not as body butter. It's really nice. I totally agree with the description - "light enough for summer, yet rich enough for winter". It's velvety and leaves my skin hydrated and soft. If your skin is dry, then it will sink right into, if it's normal then it will need a few minutes to be completely absorbed. Because of the main ingredient, the gorgeous Aloe Vera, the lotion is also soothing and therefore perfect to use after waxing or shaving. 

The bottle makes my bathroom cabinet looking nice, I love the design on it. The bottle itself also contains 21% post-consumer recycled content and the plastic packaging is quite soft and bendy. Which is actually a bit of a problem. As you can see on the picture, the bottle is bended in. That always happen when I squeeze the bottle (even if gently), and honestly, I was a bit annoyed with it in the beginning. At the end of the day, it's only the outside of a product and what matters most is the actual product itself. Which indeed is beautiful and I've been enjoying it very much.
Talking about Ursa Major, I would like to mention another product I have had a pleasure to try out. It's their Willoughby Cologne* (I broke it when I wanted to take pictures of both products!). This is an all-natural cologne or perfume oil for both men and women.  I was really intrigued by it and wanted to try a little sample of it, but the sweet Jamie (the founder of Petal & Post) sent me the whole bottle of it! The perfume oil is 95% organic, made with Jojoba Oil and a blend of fourteen pure essential oils. That's it. No nasties.
Now as this product is meant for both sexes, the scent has to be something in between a masculine and feminine. Willoughby smells fresh, slightly spicy and quite strong - that reminds me of men scents. To be more precise, it smells like "bright citrus, subtle spice and deep woods topped with hints of mint, ginger and bergamot". The scent is different to any perfume oil I have (my fave are from Leahlani Skincare and they can't be compared to this one. They are floral and very feminine.) I can't say I love it, it's okay but I don't reach for it on a daily. You know what it is, I'm more girly and the scent is just too woodsy and spicy for me. I initially thought my boyfriend could use it but I don't see it. I feel it's more like Vitruvi oils are. Meaning that it has more aromatherapeutic benefits than "mmm I smell great" benefits. Yeah, for that it is great but as perfume oil I will rather leave it to others.

You can get these two products at Petal & Post, an Organic Beauty Store, where you can use the code "smallbitsofloveliness-Summer". Since Petal & Post is a Canadian store, with this code you'll get free international shipping. One x use, good thru to midnight the09/30/16.

Much love to you,

Jana xx

*samples generously provided
*this post contains affiliate code and links

Two Powerful Masks

julij 03, 2016

 I love a good facial oil but masks have always been my favourite products to use. There is something so satisfying slathering on a facial mask and leaving it on for at least ten minutes. I never go to a spa or anywhere fancy like that so I'm all for having a mini spa at home. Masks are usually packed with just the good stuff and show immediate results, which is what I totally adore about them. I have a bunch of masks in my drawer (just the other day I was tidying up a bit and sorted all my masks in one drawer. I was quite shocked to see how many I have. I could actually open my own spa haha) so I decided to pick two with similar effects and the two I haven't really talked about here on my blog.
Earthwise Beauty Blackstrap Molasses Face Mask* - babes, if you ever want to try a product based on my recommendation, then this would be it. This mask is seriously good and ticks all the boxes for me. It's like the description says it is - firming, brightening, smoothing and softening. It really brightens my skin, makes my complexion more even and is just one of those masks you can always count on. Ava, the founder of Earthwise Beauty, uses such unique and amazing ingredients in her products and I thoroughly enjoy that. The hero in this product is, like the name suggest, Blackstrap Molasses. The hand-harvested, unrefined Blackstrap Molasses from Paraguay, to be perfectly clear. Rich in iron, calcium and magnesium, if I name a few nutrients, Blackstrap Molasses is a wonderful addition to a vegan diet and this highly bio-available dose of nourishing and skin softening vitamins and minerals is therefore the perfect addition to the blend. But not only that, it also contains detoxifying Hungarian Moor Mud, firming, pore cleansing Moroccan Lava Clay, anti-aging and anti-acne Organic Carrot Seed oil with its brown spot reducing properties and a few more. Love. 
I usually leave it on for half an hour and then easily wash it off with water. Like I said, it leaves my skin brighter, calmer and smoother. The mask dries up on the face so I sometimes like to mix in some honey. Not that it needs it but I also added some DIY Hibiscus and Rosehip Mask (check my blend here), to make it even more powerful and amazing. If that's even possible. One thing to mention. This mask is alive, it's a vibrant product made from hundreds year old mud and contains lots of probiotics, which means it can build up a lot of gas, like beer or kombucha. Not to worry though, my jar of mask didn't explode or anything like that, but it did grew some mold so this jar is actually my second one. The first one Ava so kindly replaced. The mask does contain preservatives but I would still rather go for the smaller jar so you can use it up before anything funky happens. Based on my experience I would also highly recommend storing it in the fridge (which is stated on the product as well) and to always use a spatula. If you fancy what you hear then you can use my code "Loveliness" and get 15% off your order. Here is my mask selfie and down below you can see how it looks when the mask dries up.
Orgamor Moroccan Rhassoul Exfoliating Facial Clay Mask* - I have Rhassoul Clay in my green beauty cupboard and I have always really liked it, but after I started using this mask, my love for Rhassoul Clay grew even deeper. The combination of Moroccan Rhassoul Clay, Orange Flower Water and Moroccan Argan Oil is simple, right? Simple but very effective. I was expecting it would smell like oranges but I completely missed the word "flower". It smells sweet, floral, aromatic and quite strong and fragrant. I also thought it would be detoxifying yet moisturizing because of the Argan Oil. Well, it's very detoxifying (love) but not as moisturizing as I though it would be. Not that it's drying but all traces of Argan Oil disappear. It dries up on the skin and gives a tight, slightly tingly feeling. It's powerful alright. Even though it may sound strong it's not irritating at all (I heard Rhassoul Clay is great even for sensitive skin). It leaves my skin in a much better condition that it was before masking. I leave the mask on for about ten minutes and then wash it off with water. Like I said, the mask dries up and then it needs quite a lot of water and massaging to soften it and wash everything off. But in doing so, the mask acts as a gentle exfoliator and leaves my skin smoother. Beautiful concoction indeed.
Have you tried any of these masks? Are you also a fan of masking? :)

Have a happy Sunday!

With love

Jana xx

*sample generously provided
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