Beauty sponges, they may not be the latest must-have beauty accessory, but never the less they are one that are still going strong, years after the initial hype. No beauty blogger or guru is seen without one, whether it's a genuine Beauty Blender or a Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge or one of the many brands that now have their own sponge with a name touting it to be the most flawless application tool.
I was a bit late to the game with this one, after all, I spent years using those little cheese wedge shaped sponges from the moment I discovered the power of foundation at the age of 15, and what difference where these sponges to those old ones? Well I can openly admit I'm a convert and love my sponge, but there is always something on my mind...are they toxic free and are they eco?
I was pondering this when I bought my latest trio of mini sponges, I stood staring at the shelf chockablock full of sponges in every shape, size and colour. Some declaring bamboo and charcoal infusions, some with faces, some with handles and some with none. But what I was noticing was some boasted 'latex free', some boasted they were made with latex and some said 'eco' or 'biodegradable'. I realised that despite packaging claims, I didn't know what any of that really means in terms of which really were more green/clean or toxic free, or eco. So, I've done some digging and while hoping to have answers, I've actually ended up with more questions!
Latex or non-latex?
Firstly, latex-free are obviously designed for those who have latex allergy, so depending on whether or not you are allergic to latex or not is obviously going to be the deciding factor on whether this is ok on your skin/ in your body or not. After all an allergy to something means that that component is toxic to you. So non-latex must be cleaner/ toxic free right? Maybe not. What are non-latex sponges made from? Some packages clearly state plastic, some brands including some of my favourite green brands, simply list the material as 'synthetic' or 'foam' and some non natural brands describe it as 'ultra-luxe material ' - what the flaming F does that mean?! We all know the rules about plastic - 4, 5, 1 and 2, all the rest aren't good for you! But I don't see any plastic id numbers on the sponges, so how are we supposed to know?
Oh and another thing, is the latex that is used the real natural latex rubber substance from plants or is it the synthetic man made latex created by doing weird science stuff with other weird materials such as styrofoam? If it is natural latex rubber then what process has it gone through to create the sponge- I'm imagining there's going to be a fair few chemicals and byproducts involved.
Is latex in either form recyclable? So many unanswered questions!
As you can see all my sponges are bright colours and unless it actually is pure latex rubber which can be naturally white (also yellow or brown), I assume that the white one has either been dyed bright white or bleached in someway to get it such a crisp white colour. My question is, are these dyes safe? What dyes are used, synthetic or natural plant dyes?
During my research I noticed that the Beauty Blender brand have a 'Pure Sponge' described as '...without any dye, making it perfect for delicate skin...Hypo-allergenic and free from fragrance, latex and pigment...positively angelic!' So I guess that indicates that the dyes/pigments (why two types of terminology?) used are typically not that great for your skin then...again, there is little to no research or information on this area!
The only consistent eco aspect that I seemed to find was about the packaging. All of the natural or eco brands were more than clear on their packaging and websites about how the boxes are made from recycled and recyclable card. The windows from biodegradable corn starch, glue used is solvent free water based adhesive and vegetable dyes in the printing. Even the handles of brushes including the Foam applicator from EcoTools is made from responsibly sourced bamboo and the ferrules from recycled metal, bristles are cruelty free and vegan, pushes are created from unbleached cotton. I find it amazing how there is so much information about almost every aspect other than the sponges. So frustrating.
I have actually written to a few brands both, natural/eco companies and traditional brands/companies alike to ask them a few questions about their sponges. It will be interesting to see if any answer, and if they do what they say...
Do you guys have any more info that you know about these sponges? Or any questions of your own?
I'm always on the look out for amazing natural makeup brands and while the industry is growing, I still find it hard to find a brand that meets my expectations. More often than not natural brands are let down by aspects such as design and packaging and often product performance too.
Thankfully, there are some really amazing brands that have been popping up since I made the switch to more 'clean' and 'natural' cosmetics etc. One brand that I have just recently discovered is Arbonne.
Arbonne are a, what they describe themselves as, science based company who strike to use the purest of ingredients combined with the latest research and technology to create beautiful, safe healthy cosmetics. Arbonne, have a huge list of ingredients that they don't use including all the usual culprits such as parabens, propylene glycol etc, although they do use Dimethicone in some products. They are also cruelty free and vegan!
I first discovered them a while back on social media, but I admit I didn't look into them that much. It wasn't until I came across their stand at the Love Natural, Love You show that I really stopped and had a look.
As I was new to the brand I decided to indulge in a little makeover with the lovely Arbonne consultant Sarah, who was there that day. Sarah was amazing, talking me through the products from skincare to makeup, showing me what was best for my problem areas and hooking me up with a foundation that actually matches my skin tone. I loved the final look and ended up buying a few bits and pieces to start off my collection.
Here's a snapshot of some of the pieces of makeup I bought, which I thought would give you a nice overview of the brand, like it did me. If you want full reviews etc let me know in the comments and I can do a more in-depth look at each of the products.
First purchases were these two lip products. Smoothed Over Lipstick in Dream, a silky pink that in the package looks like it has more peach undertones, but on the lips for me it is more of a softer blue toned barbie pink which I adore. To accompany it I got the Lip Liner in Posey which is a much darker deeper red toned pink. Both are gorgeous, super pigmented, very creamy and the lipliner is really long lasting!
For Blush I bought the shade Blossom which is a lovely warm bronze toned peach with fine gold shimmer running through it. It's so stunning and the colour payoff is amazing, you have to use a light hand.
Last but not least I got the Perfecting Liquid Foundation in the shade Honey Beige which is a medium coverage foundation, it blends like a dreams and gives a semi-matt finish. Oh and it has SPF 15 too. What is really great about Arbonne foundations is they have lots of formula options, cream, liquid etc and a great range of shades from pale to dark skin tones, suitable for a wide range of skin tones and ethnicities.
I partnered this purchase with the Makeup Primer which my first impressions are so far good, but I want to test it some more.
Overall, from first impressions I'm really loving Arbonne as a brand, now they aren't the 'cleanest' of brands out there, as I mentioned they do use Dimethicone in some products, but in general I'm comfortable using their products and I think they have an incredible range for a more natural brand.
So about a month or two ago I cut all my crazy long thick hair off. While it was amazingly liberating, it did mean that I had to get used not only changing up my whole haircare routine, but all my products too! I've gone from only washing my hair once a week to twice a week and for me this is a huge change.
I was previously using another conditioning shampoo and conditioner but after having my hair cut I found it was simply becoming too heavy on my hair and instead of nourished it became greasy, so I would wash my hair again, which made it over produce oil, combined with the heavy products id have to wash it again...on and on. It was a bad cycle. Thankfully, after few tests of other shampoos in my stash, Tints of Nature came to my rescue.
After finding huge success with the Tints of Nature Dry Shampoo, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with the brands Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner* set.
First thing you notice is the scent, it's actually very strong for a shampoo and conditioner (they have very similar scents) but it is so amazing. It's like Raspberry ripple sweets or something. And while you may see the word 'Parfum' and wince, it actually states that they use only 100% Natural Aromatics so I'm a happy chappy because scents are a huge deal to me.
Another major bonus for me is that these are both colour safe, and I can definitely vouch for that aspect of them, I'm a serial hair dyer and have had horrible experience before, but these keep my colour really well. I guess what with being originally a hair colouring brand, they really know how to protect it. The shampoo is free from SLS and Sodium Chloride which is one of the reasons they are so gentle on colour.
As for their cleaning and hydrating power, they do exactly what they say they do without over stripping the hair or weighing it down. The shampoo is lovely to use as you still get a slight lather despite the absence of SLS and you only need a palm sized amount to have a proper clean. With this shampoo you can actually also massage it in and leave it on for 5 minutes to get a really deep clean, which I've found really effective after I've gone a bit heavy on the natural hairspray.
Both the shampoo and conditioner are definitely very hydrating, but they don't weigh my hair down or leave any residue in my hair and it doesn't get greasy nearly as quickly now I've swapped over to these. One key thing I've found, thanks to them not having silicones in, is that they leave my hair really shiny and glossy and 'floofy' without being frizzy. Tints of Nature also have a Hydrate Treatment which is like a hair masque but I've genuinely not needed to use it as the conditioner, like the shampoo, can be left on for 5 or so minutes to really do it's thing. With my short hair that works wonders as it is.
Other things I like about these two are:
- they don't contain animal ingredients and aren't tested on animals
- they have Soil Association certified ingredients and Natural and Organic Standard ingredients - such as Wheat Protein, Chamomile, Aloe, Black Oat Seed extract etc.
- reasonably priced at £6.98 each
- sensible sizes - the shampoo (250ml) is bigger than the conditioner (200ml) (because no-one uses conditioner as fast as shampoo, it's a fact of life!)
These genuinely are two great products that I'm very pleased to be using currently, it's no wonder that they won the Haircare Range award at the Natural Health International Beauty Awards 2016. The Hydrate Conditioner has even won the 'Best Buy' category in the The Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards 2016.
(UM Eeeww. I joke, but no seriously, it's an important topic).
For the past few years I have been tracking down and testing out some more natural alternatives to the standard tampons and pads you get in your local Boots.
There have been some serious hits and misses (and embarrassments) along the way! So when I do find a new brand to test out, I'm all for it.
A few moons ago the lovely company JO SAYS contacted me and introduced their line of natural and organic tampons. Impressed by their standards I was more than happy to give these a whirl! So, for the past few months I have been testing out both the JO SAYS Super and Regular Organic Tampons*.
Firstly, I was delighted to discover they were applicator tampons. I don't think I really need to explain that further do I? I mean I'm totally open and don't care about TMI but you guys might so...moving on.
As mentioned these tampons are made using organic cotton, and boast a number of different certifications, including FDA, OCS (which means it's also approved by ECOCERT), GOTS and more. To have a product with this many certifications and such major ones as well really makes them a standout in the field of organic famine hygiene products.
As for performance, like everything this will completely depend on each and every persons body, but for me these to be very comfortable, easy to use and work exactly as traditional tampons would and I've experienced zero leaking. In fact I think they are a little more absorbent as when they (both super and regular) are 'full' they don't tend to start saturating the string, which is something I've unpleasantly had to deal with before with other brands. There are several styles of expansions with tampons and these expand outwards into two side 'wings' like a figure of 8 that are concertinaed into an 's' shape when dry. Usually I do opt for tampons that expand in more of a flower 360 way, but these have proved to be just as effective.
The applicator tube is made from cardboard and has the usual smooth coating so it's much better than having a non-biodegradable plastic one and just as comfortable.
On another note, it is great to see a brand with lovely packing, I know really it's not that important but it is refreshing to have a brand that isn't emblazoned with the typical green and yellow floral designs (i'm not throwing shade at other brands here). These look stylish and a bit more appealing somehow.
JO SAYS is a company based in both Paris and Shanghai and currently these are available to buy online. They even do a monthly subscription so you can get your tampons sent through just when you need them, which is pretty cool! Seeing as they are organic, they are pretty pricey, when I converted the cost of one box of 20 regular tampons from 90 it works out to be about £10. Which yes is super expensive but sanitary care is expensive anyway and these are organic which bumps the price up more. Ultimately, it's all down to how much you think your health is worth.
So why a Himalayan salt lamp?
Well, there's a lot of research into the health benefits of salt lamps on the body and the mind and I am up for anything that can improve my environment and health in a natural and non-disruptive way. Now I like to think I'm quite open minded but at the same time I am quite a cynical person, I like 'facts' and 'science' and 'proof' while also believing that we can never know anything for certain (basically i'm just super confused and hedging my betts). So, I tend to take everything with a pinch of salt (pun totally intended). Here's some reasons why these lamps are thought to be so beneficial.
In a hyper condensed and simplified nutshell the best way to explain it is that all the technology in out lives creates positive ions in our environment. This is called 'electromagnetic radiation' (EM radiation). EM radiation is known to cause stress, negativity effect sleep, lower the immune system, and increase static etc. Himalayan salt lamps have the opposite effect. They produce negative ions which neutralise the EM radiation. Thus improving your health and environment.
Not only do salt lamps cleanse the ions in the environment they are in, but they also cleanse the air. The lamps draw moisture (water molecules) from the air and locks it into the salt. Amongst the water molecules there are all sorts of other particles in the air such as dust, pollen and smoke etc. When the salt lamp draws in the water molecules it takes in these other particles too. The heat of the lamp then evaporates the water from the salt, but the particles are kept locked in the salt, so your air is cleansed and even deodorised. Clever no? This can really help with allergies and people who suffer with asthma.
There are a whole bundle of other benefits (improved sleep, reduce coughs, treating SAD, improving energy etc etc) but I think these are the two most major ones for anyone to think about. This post deliberately only offers a snapshot into the benefits as it's best to do lots of research of your own and there are so many gazillions of articles out there that can explain everything (including the science stuff) in much clearer and better detail than me.
As for me, I've been really enjoying having my lamp in my bedroom where I use my laptop and phone a lot. The soft glow is super calming and while i'll never have science to explore any personal changes to my life from the lamp, I feel great having it. Next up I want to expand my collection with a pink himalayan salt lamp and a few small tea light ones for other rooms in my flat.
What are your thoughts on Himalayan salt lamps?