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It’s been several months since my last “Favorite Things” post because, let’s be honest, I’m not made of money, and I can’t keep buying new products just to have something to write about. No one is sending me freebies, so I have to use what I buy before I can buy more. (That’s the theory anyway. One trip to Marshalls can throw that right out the window.) But I finally started using a few things that have been in my on-deck circle for a while. Here’s what I love right now…

Burt’s Bees Renewal Refining Cleanser

Renewal_Refining_CleanserAs regular readers of this blog know, I am in LOVE with Burt’s Bees products.* I’m pretty sure I’ve used everything they make at one point or another. When I saw this new(!) product at Target recently, I had to try it. Verdict: I love it! You saw that coming, right?

The cleanser contains apple and hibiscus. I’m kind of a sucker for things with hibiscus in them. It has a pleasant, vaguely (but not overwhemingly) apple-like scent and fine exfoliating crystals. It has an airy, almost puffy, consistency to it. I like to use it as my nighttime cleanser because I feel like it really gets my makeup off. Some nights I use it alone, but I’ve also been using it with my Olay Pro X exfoliator brush, and my skin feels extra clean and smooth on those nights.

The Renewal Refining Cleanser is 99% natural, and it’s part of an entire skin-care line: cleanser, daytime lotion, nighttime cream, and eye cream. I haven’t tried the other products in the line – yet – but I can say I’m a big fan of the cleanser.

*Sadly, the real Burt died earlier this week. In the course of reading this article about him, I learned that Burt sold his share of the company to his partner in the late 1990s. She in turn sold out to Clorox for almost a billion dollars. Clorox owns my beloved Burt’s Bees? The horror. I feel personally betrayed by this fact, and I’m going to have to seriously rethink my devotion to the brand.

Aubrey Organics Men’s Stock Hair Control

4000MSOrganichaircontrol_175wYes, it says “Men’s Stock” on the bottle, but ladies, I’m telling you, this is the best hairspray I have EVER used. It’s labeled as “hair control,” probably because men would balk at using “hairspray.” Semantics aside, it’s designed to do the job of hairspray; namely, keep your hair in place. (Which really makes “hair control” a better term than “hairspray” anyway, but I digress.)

I have naturally curly hair that loves to frizz out when there’s even a hint of humidity in the air. And in a DC summer, there’s a bit more than a hint of humidity at all times. (Usually about 80% more.) I use the hair control as a finishing spray, after I’ve already put product in my hair and styled it. (I don’t blow-dry my hair due to the curls. It works much better to let it air-dry.)

This product comes in a non-aerosol spray bottle, which I find easier to use and control than the usual aerosol cans you find hairspray in. It keeps my hair looking good all day with no frizz, no stickiness, and no residue. It smells about a thousand times better than typical hairspray and is made with organic plant-based products. It’s also vegan and cruelty-free, as all of Aubrey’s products are. I will say that I’ve had problems with the sprayer getting clogged – the product separates and needs to be shaken well before each use – but rinsing it under warm water usually clears it out.

Origins VitaZing Moisturizer

or_0HJX01_300I like Origins because they use natural, organic, and plant-based sources, and they have a commitment to renewable, sustainable, cruelty-free practices. I dislike that they’re owned by Estée Lauder, not because I have anything against EL in particular. I just would rather support small businesses than multinational conglomerates. That said, the Origins VitaZing is wonderful enough to me to set aside my distaste for conglomerates.

This moisturizer is lightly tinted but will never make you look orange or streaky. It contains broad spectrum SPF 15 and Mangosteen for a boost of antioxidants. And it goes on like a dream – smooth and luxurious, with a pleasant scent. I generally wear it under either foundation or BB cream, but you can wear it on its own for a very light, no-makeup look.

Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey

s2915-main-hero-300I had a bottle of L’Eau d’Issey about 15 years ago and loved it. When it was gone, I used other scents for awhile, but I recently bought another bottle of this, and I really believe I will never stray again. It’s somehow both innocent and seductive simultaneously. “Floral with musky and woody tones” is its official description.

It gets its innocence from the floral scents of lotus, freesia, cyclamen, rose water, fresh peonies, carnation, osmanthus, tuberose, and white lilies. The precious woods (whatever that means), amberseed, and musk contribute to its sensual seductiveness.

Pro tip: when you spray perfume on your wrists, don’t rub them together. Apparently it can ruin the natural progression of the fragrance. Perfume is designed to have top notes (what you smell right away) and base notes (the scent that develops as you wear the fragrance throughout the day). Rubbing can cause you to lose the top notes, which means you’re not really getting the most out of your perfume.

Archipelago Botanicals Milk Lip Balm

Milk lip balm copyI’m a little obsessed with lip balm. I have one stashed in every room of our apartment, in all my purses, and in my travel makeup bag. I have many favorites, but the Archipelago is my favorite favorite. It’s made with natural botanical extracts, and protects your lips with SPF 15.

The consistency is softer than, say, ChapStick or Burt’s Bees original lip balm, allowing for a good amount of product to be applied in just one swipe across your lips. It has a lovely scent, probably from the coconut oil. Despite containing no vanilla, I swear I smell vanilla when I put it on.

Archipelago Botanicals products can be found in random, tourist-y type shops. The first time I saw their products, it was in the gift shop at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I picked up my current lip balm at Parker & Otis in Durham, NC. You can order direct from their site, but with a $99 minimum for free shipping, you’re probably better off finding a brick-and-mortar store. Luckily, they have a store locator to help you find shops nearby that carry their products.