Godes Beauty Box for Women of Color

We're thrilled to be included in the Godes Beauty Box this month! Godes Beauty was created to help women of color to discover the best of beauty. They search the world to find the best products from leading companies as well as collaborate with new niche brands to create the ultimate beauty discovery experience. If you're a Woman of Color looking for a little help discovering new beauty brands and products, get to know a little more about Godes! We spoke with the founder of Godes Beauty, Catina, to learn a little more about the woman behind the brand. 

Where did the name "Godes Beauty" come from?

When I was thinking about a name for my company, I wanted it to be something that really embodied the true essence of a woman in a few but impactful words. After a weekend of brainstorming, daydreaming and research, the definition of “Goddess” really described was I wanted my company to be and say. I played around with the spelling a few times and added beauty to the name and in September 2015 Godes Beauty was born.

What inspired you to start a subscription box?

Since 2010, I have been a subscriber of a major beauty subscription company however, as time went on, I noticed more and more that the products I was receiving weren’t for me or my beauty needs. Most of the time, I would throw the products away which was really disappointing because I loved getting a box in the mail every month. So in 2014,a light bulb went off, I would create my own beauty box and curate it with products that I would want to try and that would cater to my beauty needs. I did  a lot of research and soul searching and in 2015, I finally had the guts to just do it and introduced Godes Beauty to the world.

What do you look for when choosing items to include in each box?

The deciding factor for choosing items for the box is “will the customer use it?”  I try to choose items that really solve a beauty issue or that are new, and exciting.

Do you have a New Year's resolution for 2016?

My New Year’s resolution is to make more moves and less announcements.  Last year was all about starting Godes Beauty and telling everyone my plans, etc. This year is about execution and just doing. 

4 Natural Australian Beauties

Australia is a beautiful land, full of beautiful people. It's also chock full of green body care products. We loaded up our suitcase with goodies, but there are four that really stand out as favorites we'll purchase again and again. We're not so sure any of these are easily available in the States, but it just might be the excuse we need to take another trip down under! If you know of any Australian green beauty/body care products we missed, please tell us about them in the comments.

1. Natural Instinct Energizing Body Wash
This body wash is all natural and made with lemon grass, ginger, gingko and acai. It has been a game changer for mornings because it makes you smell like you're showering in a drizzle of ginger ale with a squeeze of lemon. It's the perfect way to wake up and feel excited about your day. 

2. Suvana Certified Organic Paw Paw & Honey Balm
It can be difficult to find a multi-use balm that's petrochemical and fragrance free. This one does it for us. It's a great consistency, not too thick or waxy, and we use it all over. 

3. Sukín Certified Organic Rose Hip Oil
This is simply organic rose hip oil in a little glass bottle. Perfect for smoothing over your face after a shower, before putting on eye cream and night cream. It is absorbed completely and gives our skin a great dewy, hydrated feeling the next day. Also great for that long haul flight. And the price point is seriously great, too.

4. Antipodes Deliverance Kowhai Flower Hand Cream
Made with nutrient-rich avocado oil, sweet orange and cedar wood, this luxurious hand cream smells exactly how you think it would. To us it's the gentle scent of an orange, with a touch of chamomile and some spice from the cedar. It's not greasy at all, but will keep your hands beautifully hydrated throughout the day. 

Whole Foods Standards? Check!

Whole Foods may be where Prius owners battle to the death for a tiny parking space, but it's also where you can go if you want to to buy safe and ethically sourced cosmetics and body care products.  We use, among other things, the Whole Foods Standards as a guideline when it comes to formulating our products. 

While the standards are very clear for labeling organic food, the standards for labeling natural or organic cosmetics and body care products are a little more fuzzy. In fact, there aren't many standards at all, especially when compared with those of Europe and Japan. Currently the Food and Drug Administration in America has banned only a small number of chemicals for use in cosmetics – around eleven.

Meanwhile, Whole Foods has a highly researched list of over 400 unacceptable ingredients that can be found here. Like us, they stay away from artificial colors, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, parfums and parabens. Here are a few facts from the Whole Foods blog, to help further paint the picture:

FACT: The U.S. government does not require health studies or pre-market testing for personal care products.

FACT: There are many non-natural components and processes in most U.S. body care products. Even those labeled "natural" may contain harsh preservatives or ingredients with environmental concerns.

FACT: Science never stops. Our customers trust us to stay on top of the latest breakthroughs, so the Premium standards are designed to evolve as new science-based studies and research come to light. We are excited to consider them as a starting point, a work in progress, an opportunity to raise the bar ever higher.

With BOX Naturals, our goal has always been to provide a natural alternative to the wipes and towelettes that are already out there, chock-full of not-so-natural and not-so-nice stuff. We recently stayed at a boutique hotel that provided individually wrapped makeup removal wipes. At first glance the ingredient list looked promising, because it was so short. We were shocked when the few ingredients included mineral oil and four or five parabens! There's just no need for that. We believe we can do better, and that's our goal, every day. No, we are not available at Whole Foods yet, but we hope to be part of what they offer in the future. And when that day comes, we will definitely let you know!

The 5 Best Uses For Essential Oils, Winter Edition

Oh, hello Polar Vortex. It's you again.  

We just peeked into our Farmers Almanac and it's predicting another impossibly cold 2014-2015 Winter season.  Swell.  

Below are 5 super easy things you can do with essential oils that will help you get through winter:

1. Sprinkle some Eucalyptus oil in the shower to stimulate, improve circulation and help clear congestion. 

2.  Add some summer brightness into your life & enhance your mood by diffusing any type of citrus essential oil (lemon, bergamot, grapefruit) into the air. Instant pick me up.

3. Take a hot bath! Lavender is the only essential oil that can be used directly on the skin, without being diluted. Take advantage of it's calming effects by massaging on temples and relax.  Of course, add a few drops to your bath and you be doubly relaxed.  

4. Frankincense is both calming and uplifting if you're feeling tired and stressed by the holidays. Add a few drops to sweet almond oil (or another carrier oil like jojoba) and massage in into your skin (or better yet, get someone else to do it).

5. And when you need to hit the shops during peak cold and flu season? Sprinkle a few drops each of cinnamon, lemon and rosemary onto a cotton handkerchief. Carry it with you when you need a little pick-me-up and added immune boost.

So when Old Man Winter's got you down, you have a few tricks up your sleeve to get through the next few months...Stay warm everyone!

How to smell like a cookie: Extracts vs. Essential Oils

Geeks are Cute. 

Geeks are Cute. 

As you probably know already, we're really into reading and researching labels.  Call us super-geeks, but hey, we'd rather know what we're putting on our bodies!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes an ingredient list will have "{insert flower here} extract" and sometimes it will say "{insert flower here} essential oil"?  What exactly is the difference?  So glad you asked!

Essential oils are the concentrated aromatic compounds of a plant, that is, the yummy, delicious smelling parts. Separating this from the rest of the plant is usually done through steam distillation.  If you're a geekier geek than we are, read about steam distillation here

 Now. Extracts.  Put in the simplest of terms, extracts are kind of like a tea.  Get the plant and boil in water or oil for a long time. You can also do this in alcohol (not the drinking kind.  Or maybe the drinking kind?  We've never tried - if you do, let us know how that went!) and this is called a tincture. 

What's the main difference between the two?

Well, both can be used for aromatherapy, but only essential oils have true medicinal properties.  Essential oils are also a lot stronger and more concentrated, and for that reason, very few essential oils should be put directly on the skin with no carrier oil.  Lavender oil and Tea Tree oil are examples of two essential oils that you can put directly on the skin. 

Essential oils are also a lot more expensive because it's darn difficult to separate the oils from the plants!  One thing extracts and oils have in common?  They both can be used as a non synthetic, all natural perfume.  So instead of buying fake vanilla perfume, just raid your baking cabinet and use some high quality vanilla extract and smell like a cookie all day long…

Kloverbox + BOX

What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

What's more fun than getting gifts in the mail?  

October is turning out to be a big month for us. We are very excited to partner with Kloverbox – a subscription box for the woman who is inspired by healthier products.  That's us!  That's YOU!

Kloverbox urges us to "Live Naturally and Organically.  Replace every product you use with a conscious alternative."  We LOVE this motto because that's exactly how we look at attaining a healthier lifestyle.  You might KNOW  that synthetic fragrances, formaldehyde, and parabens are bad for you,  but it's hard to go cold turkey.  However, if you replace just one product at a time with an equally effective and natural product, well, suddenly, it's not hard at all.  

Kloverbox is a wonderful way to sample premium, natural, organic and cruelty-free products.  You get six to eight products from the purest and most sustainable brands in their monthly subscription box. 

Thank you, Kloverbox, for helping us all Live Naturally!

Check them out here.

Formaldehyde in Nail Polish and Other Cosmetics

It's crazy to think that the same stuff used to preserve that poor frog you were forced to dissect in high school biology is often used in your cosmetics and body care products as... you guessed it, a preservative! Thats right, formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives (FRPs) are used in many personal care products like nail polish, shampoo and liquid soap. And it's even scarier than it sounds – these chemicals can be absorbed through the skin and have been linked to allergic skin reactions and cancer. 

People can be exposed by inhaling the formaldehyde that is off-gassed from the product, by ingesting it or by absorbing it through the skin. While there's more research happening all the time, animal studies have indicated that formaldehyde can be absorbed through the skin when formaldehyde-containing personal care products, including FRPs, are applied.

So what can you do? Read labels and avoid products containing the following ingredients: Formaldehyde, quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

We were surprised to find out that several companies are still using FRPs. In addition to the cancer issue, Formaldehyde in cosmetics is widely understood to cause allergic skin reactions and rashes in some people. They're commonly found in nail polish, nail glue, eyelash glue, hair gel, hair-smoothing products, baby shampoo, body soap, body wash, color cosmetics and even wipes. Yes, wipes! (Um, never our wipes though, don't worry.) We were researching different wipe formulas and were shocked to see FRPs listed among the ingredients, which sparked hours of google searches and this blog post. So... choose wisely! 

Are parabens bad news?

The first ingredient green beauty companies ban from their ingredient list is usually parabens. Take a look and you’ll notice “paraben free” on all kinds of packaging, even our own! But why is there so much concern about parabens? Have they been proven to cause cancer? Here’s what you need to know:

What are parabens?

Parabens are among the most commonly used preservatives in cosmetic products. Methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben are what you'll see most often – over 85% of cosmetics have them. Typically, more than one is used in a product.

Are they dangerous?

The short answer is, the jury’s still out. A study published in 2004 (Darbre, in the Journal of Applied Toxicology) detected parabens in breast tumors. Parabens have weak estrogen-like properties and it’s been shown that estrogen can have an influence on breast cancer. However, the study did not show that parabens cause cancer, or that they are harmful in any way, and the study did not look for paraben levels in normal tissue.

If they aren't 100% sure, why are companies still using parabens?

They’re inexpensive and effective.

The lack of a simple, definitive answer is a little frustrating, right? When it comes to questions about our health (especially where the dreaded C-word is concerned) we want to know for sure. There are all kinds of research, opinions and conclusions out there. Some say parabens are completely safe. Others have come to some pretty frightening conclusions! But most dermatologists recommend keeping an eye on your exposure to parabens, and choosing paraben-free when you're choosing products that will come in contact with your skin (your largest organ!).

The good news is there are so many green beauty companies that offer paraben free options, so you can easily make the choice that's right for you. And BOX Naturals products will always be 100% free of all parabens. 

Our Up in the Air Beauty Routine

One of our team members is constantly traveling. Cross country flights, long haul flights, you name it! Still, every time she's in the office, her skin is glowing (it's absolutely LUMINOUS). After a little prodding, she finally divulged her beauty secret - a top to bottom regimen she learned from renowned make up artist Lisa Eldridge.  

Lisa has an amazing tutorial that's perfect for long flights. Yes, you will get looks from your fellow passengers, but just think about what havoc that recycled cabin air is wreaking on your skin and it will be easier to ignore the sidelong glances and occasional pointed finger/giggles.  

Some of the ridiculous(ly transformative and amazing) things she recommends: 

  1. Slather hydrating cream on your hair
  2. Take off ALL make up
  3. Use a toner with essential oils
  4. Put a mask on (not the scary green kind, a clear one, preferably - see tutorial for all product recommendations)
  5. Hydrate back of hands
  6. Go to sleep with a lavender filled eye mask...snoooooze....

And depending on how long your flight is, repeat. There's one thing we'd add to that – Box Intimates wipes (of course). After sitting for hours and hours, doesn't every part of your body need a little freshening up?

This routine definitely works, but even doing part of it is better than not doing a thing. Try it, and instead of arriving feeling like you need a nap and a shower, you'll be ready to hit the town.