Archive for the ‘natural products’ Category

I’m halfway done with grad school, and I’m getting ready to move to Manhattan for the summer. It’s the perfect time for me to take stock of my beauty regimen and appreciate the gems that I can always rely on to help me feel good and look great. These are a few of my favorite things.

image courtesy salada

Salada White Tea

It’s hard to find a pure white tea– most are sold mixed with peach, pomegranate, or some other fruit flavor– but when Salada white tea is in stock at my local grocery store, I hoard. Black tea and green tea are Drizella and Anastasia to white tea’s Cinderella. White tea is the healthiest of these three teas, all of which emerge from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). White tea has the highest antioxidant count, the least amount of caffeine, and the most delicate, refined flavor. A pale gold color, the tea smooths even the harshest water, giving it an almost satin texture. You’ll always find me toting a 16 oz thermos of white tea to class in the morning. Bliss.

image courtesy silk naturals

Silk Naturals Organic Lipsticks

It was a lucky day for me when I stumbled across a mention of Silk Naturals on MakeupAlley. Silk Naturals is a small natural cosmetics company based out of New York. I love, love their approach to cosmetics– all of their organic formulas contain a minimal amount of ingredients; their products are pure, clean, and mindbogglingly inexpensive. I have quite literally dumped ALL of my base makeup (foundations, powders, concealers) and lip makeup (lipsticks, lipstains, lipglosses) into a closed trunk next to my vanity. Move over, chemical-laden, over-priced mistakes! Now, the only makeup I’ll use on my face and my lips is Silk Naturals. I’ve also been sold on their skincare line, and love the Silk Naturals 2% BHA toner, which has proven excellent for fading dark marks.


The Silk Naturals vegan and organic lipsticks are special stand-out products. Ringing in at a mere $5.75 (compare to MAC’s $15 for a lipstick!), the Silk Naturals lipsticks are creamy, smooth, nicely pigmented, and come in great shades. I own Cayenne (a golden, orange-toned red), Bombshell (a vampy dark red), Fashionista (a light, slightly shimmery pink with coral undertones/MAC Cosmo dupe), Eternal (brownish pink/MAC Twig Dupe), and Sultry (berry pink/MAC Brick O La dupe). For Indian skintones, I particularly recommend Sultry– it’s incredibly wearable and totally gorgeous. Also pictured above is Black Dahlia, a blackish-coppery plum lipgloss.

Silk Naturals lipsticks perform better than any other lipstick I’ve used (Clinique, Estee Lauder, MAC, LORAC, the list goes on). They last well and when they do fade, they fade very evenly, and without causing peeling or caked lips. Best of all, they are a very natural formula, made of castor, jojoba, avocado, cranberry, raspberry, and passionfruit oils. And for a price lower than most drugstore lipsticks, you can afford to replace your chemical-laden lip colors with these beauties. Have I sold you yet?

image courtesy google images

Fish Oil

Celebs the world over swear by omega-3s for shining, soft hair. So does this beauty blogger. Ever since I started taking fish oil (two capsules a day; I keep them in the fridge for freshness), my hair has completely transformed, from a poofy, dry, wavy tangle to silky and smooth. I’ve talked about fish oil a lot on Jolie Asie, and for good reason. It gives results!

I’ve recently switched to a comparable alternative, krill oil, because research shows that the molecular structure of krill oil allows for better absorption by the body, and because most fish oils contain trace amounts of soy, which I like to avoid. Whether you choose cod liver oil, fish oil, flaxseed oil, or krill oil– try it. It’s great for your heart, your health, and your hair.

image courtesy blogspot

Maybelline Full N’ Soft Washable Mascara

This mascara is another find thanks to the ever-useful MakeupAlley; it’s one of the most highly-rated mascaras out there. I’ve found Full & Soft to be a most satisfactory alternative to the more costly Diorshow. It can be hard for Indian women with long lashes to find a good mascara that will enhance their lashes (as opposed to making them look spidery), and this is one of the rare few (sad to report, I was recently disappointed by Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascara). And at $7.49, it’s fairly reasonably priced, too.

Be sure to get the regular version, not the waterproof– I’ve used both and, strangely, felt like the waterproof version was making my lashes shed, which did not happen with the washable version. As a general rule, I prefer to avoid waterproof formulas, as I like to be able to fully wash my makeup off at night without a struggle.

Always remember to curl your lashes in the morning, regardless of whether or not you wear mascara. It opens up your eyes and the curl gives you an instant boost of femininity, making the biggest difference in how you look!’

image courtesy google images

Spinach Juice

Maybe not so delicious sounding, but so important for glowing, clear skin and better energy. Whether you have it mixed with fruits like nutritionist to the stars Kimberly Snyder or with tomato and lemon juice, do your utmost to drink up your leafy greens every day. They are probably the most potent food you can consume for better skin health. ‘Nuff said.

image courtesy google images

Yes to Carrots Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 15

My mom asked me to find her a moisturizer with sunscreen yesterday, and I instantly recommended her to try my Yes to Carrots moisturizer. After having done the research about chemical vs. physical sunscreens, checked with Cosmetics Cop Paula Begoun’s Beautypedia, and combed the market for a safe and natural SPF 15 formula that wasn’t too hard to wash off (many require special makeup removers or oil cleansers! Pshh!), I found Yes to Carrots.

I love this moisturizer. The vitamin-rich formula has great skin-soothing ingredients like aloe vera extract, organic carrots, and pumpkin seed extract, and the only sunscreen ingredient it uses is Zinc Oxide, which is a physical sunblocker that is the safest and most effective for protecting the skin against UVA and UVB rays. The formula is non-greasy and does not leave a whitish cast. I do like to use a moisturizer (L’Occitane Mom & Baby Cream) underneath because I have dry skin. If they stopped selling this sunscreen, I don’t know what I’d do!

And those are a few of my favorite things! Do we share favorites? Have I convinced you to try some of mine? Let me know what your beauty favorites are!

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Clogged pores can cause skin irritation, infection, and acne.  The best way to clean your pores is to steam your face!  Steaming your face is natural, safe, and completely refreshing.  Warm steam causes you to sweat which opens your pores and pushes dirt out.  The best part is steaming your face is incredibly easy!  Anyone can do it from home.


What You Need:

5-6 Cups of Water

Pot for boiling water

Large Glass or Ceramic Bowl

Large Towel or Sheet

Natural Toner (recommended: Thayer’s Original Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Astringent)

(optional) Fresh Herbs

– Oily skin: Thyme, lemon, or peppermint

– Sensitive skin: Lime or chamomile

– Normal skin: Rose, rosemary, or lavender


Step 1: Pull your hair back with a headband and/or hair tie.  Wash your face thoroughly with your usual cleanser.

Step 2: Pour 5-6 cups water into pot.  Bring to a boil.

Step 3: Place large glass/ceramic bowl at a table.  Pour boiling water into the bowl.

Step 4: Sit so you can comfortably hold your head over the bowl of hot water

Step 5: Drape the large towel/sheet over your head and the bowl of water.  If you feel the steam is too hot on your skin, move your face further from the bowl.

Step 6: Steam your face for 10-15 minutes or until the water cools.

Step 7: Wash your face with the cleanser again.  Rinse with lukewarm water 4-6 extra times.

Optional step: After steaming your face is the perfect time to apply a face mask!  

Step 8: Pour some toner on a cotton ball/pad and thoroughly wipe your face. Wait a few moments for the toner to dry and apply your usual moisturizer.

You can steam your face weekly to clean out your pores!

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My most favorite addition to my skincare arsenal has been my homemade, natural facial serum using essential oils. Instead of blowing money on expensive night creams full of chemicals, fragrance, and other junk whose names I can’t pronounce, I decided to tailor-make my own serum for my individual skin needs.

Making your own night serum to use as a moisturizer is wonderful for so many reasons: it’s cost-effective, it’s fresh, it’s all natural, it’s FULL of healthy vitamins and skin healing and protecting properties, and best of all, you can choose the ingredients!

Essential oils are sold in tiny little bottles; basically, they’re concentrated extracts of plants and herbs. Essential oils contain vitamins like A, C, and E along with the unique properties associated with the organic material. Different essential oils suit different skin types; for instance, frankincense and rose are brilliant for aging, mature skin, while tea tree and lavender are famous for treating acne-prone skin.

So how do you make an essential oil serum? It’s super easy.

Step 1: First, do a little Googling about essential oils (EO) that are appropriate for your skin type. There’s lots of resources around the internet to learn more about the EO that’s right for you; for starters, click here and here. Pick two essential oils you want to include in your serum.

What do I use? Helichrysum essential oil and carrot seed essential oil. After very thorough research I chose these two oils for my young, sensitive, slightly hormonal skin to heal it now and protect it from wrinkles in the future. I also chose these two oils to preserve my even skintone and a radiant glow.

After you’ve picked your two essential oils, choose a base carrier oil. This is the main oil you will add your drops of essential oil to; your base carrier oil makes up the bulk of your serum. I use almond oil, a gentle, protective oil that is not greasy, sinks in to my skin well, and provides me a healthy dose of vitamin E to boot.

Step 2: Now you’re ready to order your essential oils and base oil. I trust Ananda Apothecary for all my EO needs- they are reliable, fast, secure, and carry excellent quality materials! I also ordered from Ananda a cobalt-blue dropper bottle to store my EO serum in.

Step 3: When your EOs have arrived, use this formula to create your facial serum:

Keep your serum at a 2% dilution of essential oils (i.e. helichrysum and carrot seed) in the base oil (almond oil).

This means you will add 12 drops of essential oil total per ounce of base oil. So, 6 drops of helichrysum essential oil and 6 drops of carrot seed essential oil in one ounce of almond oil. Remember, with EOs, less is more- they are extremely potent. I like to store my EO bottles in a spare fridge and make the serum one ounce at a time for freshness.

I keep the serum in my vanity drawer. Do not store your serum where it can be hit by direct sunlight or exposed to too much heat or cold.

That’s all there is to it! Massage the serum into your skin after you’ve washed your face at night, and see the beautiful skin results! My skin absolutely loves my moisturizing serum and my skintone looks better than ever since I started using it!

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For Indian film actress Asin, this is no beauty secret: she loves to talk about her passion for coconut water. Asin drinks coconut water to keep her skin hydrated and fresh– necessary for looking young and radiant.

Coconut water is a pure gift from nature, with amazing antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is even used by medical physicians as an intravenous fluid when saline isn’t around!

Coconut water’s naturally occurring electrolytes are genius for rehydrating the body, as they encourage your cells to absorb water. When your body is dehydrated, your skin becomes dry, wrinkled, and dull. Coconut water prevents this by better allowing your body to deliver nutrients to your cells, leading to hydrated, plump skin cells.

Coconut water contains a wealth of healthy minerals, including potassium, calcium, and iron. Its electrolyte content makes coconut water a popular, natural alternative to sugary sports drinks after a hard morning’s exercise.

Use coconut water to keep yourself hydrated and your skin looking dewy and soft!

Fun fact: Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor drinks coconut water regularly to hydrate and to maintain her weight loss program; drinking fluids throughout the day can help you feel fuller and make you less likely to reach for snacks.

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Vacationing on the beach with Jaya Ajji

My great aunt, whom I call Jaya Ajji, visited recently and shared her most loved Ayurvedic beauty recipes for you all to use.

Ayurveda is the world’s most ancient form of medicine, originating in India thousands of years ago. It was a highly complex science for its time- Ayurvedic physicians even performed eye surgeries!

The below recipes are for an Ayurvedic hair pack and face mask.

This hair pack is excellent for encouraging hair growth and preventing hair loss. It is also effective for maintaining color in the hair: since she began using it, Jaya Ajji says she went from coloring her hair every 3 weeks to coloring it only once every 2 months or so! She says she has also stopped losing hair, when before it shed copiously when brushed or washed.

Ayurvedic Hair Pack

  • 1 teaspoon henna powder*
  • 1 teaspoon amla powder*
  • 1 tsp aritha powder*
  • 1 tsp shikakai powder*
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh aloe vera gel

Mix the ingredients together thoroughly and apply to dry hair for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Wash off in the shower and shampoo as usual. Do this regularly- once or twice a week- to experience amazing hair protective results!

Jaya Ajji’s Ayurvedic face mask is brilliant for moisturizing and for developing an even skintone. The fresh turmeric and sesame seeds will give you a healthy glow, while the banana and ghee will provide a generous dose of moisture to parched skin.

Ayurvedic Face Mask

  • 1/2 of a banana
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground turmeric*
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh aloe vera gel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)*

Blend the ingredients together into a fine paste. Apply the face mask for 10 to 20 minutes to clean skin, then wash off. Enjoy your radiant skin!

* = These ingredients can be found at your local Indian grocery store.

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Indian television and film (Bollywood) actress Prachi Desai’s no. 1 natural beauty secret is her aloe vera face mask. The best part? It only involves one ingredient! Buy an aloe vera plant or stem from your local grocery store or health food market. Cut the long stems into three-inch pieces and store in the fridge wrapped in foil. Each time you want to apply your mask, simply open up a stem piece and scoop out the healing aloe vera gel inside. Massage onto clean skin and leave it on as long as you like!

Aloe vera has antibacterial and wound-healing properties, making it great for soothing acne-prone or sunburnt skin. Aloe vera gel is sold in many forms, often packaged into beauty products, but to get its full beauty benefits, try it fresh. Aloe vera is very cooling and relaxing on the skin, easing the discomfort of tight, dry skin or skin that is peeling.

Fun fact: Bollywood beauties Amrita Arora and Ayesha Takia also use aloe vera on their skin for a healthy visage!

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Gorgeous Asian actress Gong Li swears by getting a full night’s sleep for beautiful skin. Celebrities from all around the world make getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night a top priority in order to look young, healthy, and ready to take on the world- and their fans.

How can you get celebrity-quality beauty sleep? Follow the tips below!

1. Eliminate distractions

You’re not going to get your beauty sleep if your friends, crush, or boyfriend is texting you into the wee hours of the night. Turn your cell phone off at the same time every evening. They’ll get the hint. Shut down your computer, close windows, turn the music off. You want to sleep deeply, not constantly be interrupted throughout the night.

2. Limit caffeine and sugar intake

This should be an obvious one, but some people need to hear it. If you are having trouble sleeping, evaluate the amount of caffeine you are having in the day. Caffeine is present in full-force in coffee, tea, and soda, but it can also sneak up on you in foods like chocolate or gum. Sugar will also keep you hyper and up at night, so if you are going to drink warm milk before bed, don’t dump loads of sugar in it.

3. Set regular hours

Try and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Your body likes to work in cycles, and it will appreciate your giving it a chance to do so with sleep. And remember: early to bed, early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy, and wise! You won’t see celebs making a habit of rolling out of bed at 1 p.m… they’ve got things to do and people to meet- and so should you!

4. Try natural sleep aids

Humans are not meant to be taking sleeping pills for falling asleep. If you are resorting to this, try honoring the three steps above. If you want more help, some natural beauty sleep aids include: hot or warm milk (tryptophan induces sleepiness), nutmeg (add this to your hot milk and feel the zzz’s come on quick), and lavender esssential oil. Get a small bottle of quality lavender essential oil and put a drop on your pillow before sleeping. The relaxing, sleep-inducing scent will drift you away on fragrant clouds…

5. Sleep on your back

Unless you have health reasons that permit you from doing so, try sleeping on your back to prevent wrinkles. Sleeping on your side or stomach can pull and tug at your skin in awkward angles, causing the skin to stretch and wrinkle. Sleeping on your back allows your face to fall in a natural, relaxed way. This technique also prevents you from rubbing your night cream off on your sheets!

6. Use a silk pillowcase

Celebrities love to use silk pillowcases to protect their hair from tugging and breaking. The silk causes less pulling damage to your hair than cotton pillowcases, and feels cool and lush against your skin.

Getting a good night’s sleep every night takes commitment, but is well worth the results! If sleep advice isn’t cutting it, take a look at your diet and exercise. Are you eating well and exercising regularly? Lifestyle choices go a long way in determining your quality of sleep… and your quality of life!

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