Meet Munemi Imai of MUN…plus, a discount code!

Mun Skin Care

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of not only getting to try the gorgeous, amazing and truly magical No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum from MUN, a luxurious organic skin care line. I treated it as if were gold in a bottle because it was just. That. Glorious. Containing the age-busting prickly pear seed oil (also called “Aknari”) paired with rose and argan oils, this is not your run of the mill serum. It’s luxurious, and perfect for a nighttime beauty routine. Paired with MUN’s No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose Toner… this combination hits it out of the park. One of my favorite finds of last year, hands down!

Instead of a long love letter that is 800 words long (I could do it, I tell ya!), I am going to share a Q&A that I had the pleasure of conducting with MUN’s founder, Munemi Imai. Not only is she a badass high profile makeup artist, but she has a wealth of knowledge on powerful organic skincare ingredients. And…she’s kind. And awesome. READ!

No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum has truly glowing reviews across the board. What makes your formula stand out among other natural serums? How did you develop it?

What makes it special would be the main ingredient, prickly pear seed oil. When I first came across this oil on my first research trip to Morocco in 2010, I was amazed by the fast results I saw on my then-developing under-eye dark circles and fine lines…and also how it made my skin baby soft.

Prickly pear seed oil is loaded with high contents of essential fatty acids and antioxidants; it is the king of the oils for anti-aging.

It’s also rich in amino acids, which stimulate collagen production to promote faster cell turn over. It has vitamin K, which is beneficial to brighten under-eye dark circles and also promote skin elasticity. However, there was a challenge to this amazing oil…

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Easy recipe: Make your own coffee creamer

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Ah, coffee. I could not imagine my life without you. I dream about you at night. I spend hours sipping you in the mornings, and get sad when the pot is empty. Sometimes I will make two pots. But only on special occasions. Coffee, you are my soulmate. My one true love, and the only constant in my life outside of er…uh, mah husband. He loves you, too (but not as much as me). After all our years together, coffee, I think it’s time we get a little more healthy with how we sweeten you. After all, you deserve nothing but the best ingredients.

There’s been plenty of well-publicized debate on whether coffee is good or bad for you, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I drink coffee like a regular addict. It is what it is. And until recently, I never really put that much stock into the creamers I was using. I switched to mostly organic food a few years ago. My skincare followed soon after. But the one thing that I never stopped to regulate or even investigate was my one daily indulgence: coffee creamer!

Store-bought coffee creamers are generally not made up of actual “food.” At all. Common ingredients are corn syrup solids (yum!) or partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil. Partially hydrogenated oils = trans fats. There are also a lot of additives and preservatives in commonly used coffee creamers, and aside from tasting DELISH, they are likely doing you more harm than good. When you think of how much creamer you use in a week: 3-4 tablespoons a day (be honest, girl) x 7 days a week = up to 28 tablespoons of this gunk weekly.

Oh…but they have so many flavors now though, don’t they…? Cookie Dough. Bailey’s. GIRL SCOUT THIN MINT?! So. So. So. Tempting.

Well, I have a solution for you that is not only cost effective, but also YUMMY. A 16 oz bottle of Coffee-mate will set you back around $3. My solution will give you 30 oz for around $6. Not bad, eh? There are ways you can adapt this creamer to make it into one of your favorite flavors, and it will turn your coffee nice and creamy, like store bought creamer does, but without all the nasties. It’s also dairy-free for any of you with sensitivities. Each tablespoon is around 25 calories. All you need is five minutes and some cool glass mason jars. Let’s do this!

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New Beauty Box on the Block: Modere

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Are your beauty box subscriptions starting to pile up (literally)? Welp. Make room in your mailbox. There’s a new kid on da block.

Modere contacted us about giving their Beauty Box a test run. Don’t mind if I do! 

Who is Modere? When Rachel from Modere first reached out to us, she wrote that the brand offers “lifestyle essentials, personal care, health & wellness and household products that are equal parts safe, high performing and beautifully designed.” Amen to the beautifully designed piece. The two products that I’ve used repeatedly from the box are definitely high-performing. And on the safety front: I’ve noted some ingredients, like phenoxyethanol, that aren’t ideal, but for the most part, these are pretty clean. Impressed.

The concept of their beauty box is pretty clever. Unlike other boxes that send you a variety of samples, Modere includes four full-size products with four corresponding sample sizes, plus a full-size gift that you get to keep fo’ free. You try the samples over a seven-day trial period, decide what you like, keep the full-size products you love and send back the full-size products that you don’t love with a pre-paid shipping label. For any of you who have received a beauty box, fell in love with a sample, used it down to the sad, last drop and then bemoaned the fact that it was gone…this is an *instant gratification* solution. So, props to Modere on that biz model.

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BUT: this box is not cheap. Your card isn’t charged until the end of your seven-day trial period, so it’s technically a risk-free investment…assuming you don’t pull a Rip Van Winkle and sleep through the week. But you won’t, because this is a $79.99 box (though, contents are valued at $139.99, according to Modere, and you are receiving five full-size products). You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you keep all of the products: if you only select one or a few of them to keep, you’ll have to pay retail price for each.

The box I received included the following products:

I’ve written about my two faves below. I immediately gravitated toward these two because they’re products I’d use in my daily routine – I’m always looking to up my exfoliation and hair game. WHO ISN’T?

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Toss This in Your Gym Bag: All-Natural Spray Deodorant

All Natural Spray Deodorant

In case I didn’t say it before…HAPPY NEW YEAR, you guys.

The New Year means RESOLUTIONS. The New Year means forcing myself to go “yogging” in the bitter cold. It means occasionally lifting a 7.5 lb dumbbell above my head in a very flimsy fashion. But, self-disparagement aside, it also means I’m feeling motivated, y’all.

And: thanks to some new spray deodorants that make perfect gym bag companions, it means I am feeling fresh. And fly. And definitely not smelly.

You read right: spray deos. The first I’ve ever tried, as a matter of fact: Blissoma’s Juniper Natural Deodorant Aromatic Spray and FreshBod.

Prior to this little test run, I’d been beholden to my solid deodorants of choice: Soapwalla and Schmidt’s. Both of these have a paste-like consistency and contain natural, safe, sweat-absorbing powders. Soapwalla contains corn starch, baking soda and kaolin clay; Schmidt’s has baking soda as well, plus arrowroot powder. So, it was hard for me to imagine how a spray could ward off sweat. There’s no powder in a spray!

Welp. The answer is that spray deodorants do not tackle your sweat. Spray deos are pro-sweat, anti-odor. Sweating is a normal, healthy function that removes toxins from the body. Sweat becomes *smelly* when it interacts with bacteria on your skin. These sprays combat bacteria to prevent odors. With a spray deodorant, thou shalt sweat. Thou shalt not smell. For that reason, I prefer to use these sprays as a companion to my regular deodorant: post-workout spritzes or a quick spray before starting the evening/night shift.

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Yumzezz: A Boutique Brand for Banishing Sad Winter Skin

Yumzezz

It’s no secret that winter is rough on the skin. It’s no secret that most of us, at some point or another, will suffer from dry patches, itchy patches, or just plain ol’ sad and tired-looking skin. It’s also no secret that there are so many natural options for you to save that skin and make it polished and glowing for springtime! I want to share two products that are really helping me this winter with exfoliating my sad skin.

Yumzezz is a new company that reached out to us last year, and I’ve been trying out/ enjoying their products for a few months now. Any wintertime gal knows that exfoliation is the key to surviving in sub zero temperatures. Well, I live in LA…but hey! It still gets cold here, and with the air so dry, my legs and arms are always beggin’ for moisture! (Plus, I’ve got east coast roots…you can trust my wintertime skincare advice.)

Yumzezz is a line of “inedible skin delectables.” They sent me their creamed body scrubs ($12.50 for 2 oz.) to sample. The basis of their body scrubs is organic sugar mixed with palm kernel oil, safflower oil, apricot oil, shea butter, and other sweets for your skin like honey and buttermilk. A simply divine experience in the shower, you just need a little bit to start working the mixture into your skin to melt your stress away. Their body scrubs come in three different scents: Mocha Crunch (my HANDS DOWN favorite – I’m a coffee addict), Coconut Lemongrass (like your favorite sweet Thai dish) and Fruiter (made with actual milled and sterilized fruit seeds). Just like in life, if I am given the option for fruit sorbet or a deep, decadent scoop of chocolate ice cream…uh, yeah, IMGONNACHOOSETHATICECREAM. Mocha Crunch for the win! Coffee plus body scrubs should always go hand in hand – they wake you up while making your skin luminous. The inclusion of “fragrance” in this product, which no doubt contributes to the delectable smell of this product, set off the alarm bells for us, though. Yumzezz confirmed with us that their fragrance formulation is free of parabens, phthalates and vanillin, which is comforting, though we’d rather it only contain all-natural scents.

Also, here’s a fun fact: you don’t need wet skin to use the body scrubs. You can use them on dry skin, as well! Although I have never tried that, (I love me some scrub at shower/bath time) it’s a useful piece of knowledge and a testament to the moisture content in this product!

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Five Products from Kahina

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…between the two of us, we can really work our way through (nearly) a whole product line. Some may call it addiction or obsession, but we call it…research.

Kahina Giving Beauty is a brand that we as a green beauty blogging duo (read: seestars) have coveted since we launched Unsullied back in November 2013. Has it been that long? Oh my.

Jennifer dove right into it shortly after we launched and bought/reviewed Kahina’s eye cream, and gave a great primer on the brand in general. Check it out. The basics: Kahina = a high quality argan oil-based line that’s also mission-based, empowering and giving back to the Berber women who harvest and produce the argan oil. Pretty freaking awesome. Cue the music: These are a few of our favorite things…

Fast forward to a few months ago, when we worked with Kahina’s team to identify some products from across their line that would work with our individual skin types and needs (and wants…). We each sampled a handful of products, *including* their liquid gold argan oil – the lynchpin of the entire line – and are sharing with you the best of what we think Kahina has to offer! These are not budget products, so beware – but Kahina is doing some great things by offering fair wages to the women who extract their argan oil. That’s worth paying for.

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Jennifer’s Picks

Oh, Kahina.

In addition to testing out the two products that I review below, I also tried the Fez Body Serum, which didn’t totally delight me in the scent department. But these two products delighted me in the…”everything” department. All the departments. They’ve both been indispensable for dealing with winter weather and subsequent skin dryness. THE BOMB.

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2014 Faves…and Happy New Year!

This year was special for us in so many ways. It was our first full year as green beauty bloggers, and we learned so much from this awesome community – the warmth and kindness that met us this year is something we will never forget. We became closer as sisters who live 3,000 miles apart, and Unsullied has been a great way for us to keep in touch and share knowledge and ideas with each other. THAT said…drumroll, please…here are our favorite products of 2014, out of the plethora we slathered all over our sometimes confused and disconcerted skin/bodies (all for the sake of the blog and furthering our green beauty education, y’all). If you read our blog regularly, you probably won’t be surprised at ALL at our picks! (Hey, when we like something, we LIKE something!) We included some tidbits from our original reviews. Onward!

Kathryne’s Faves

Acure Organics: Line Eraser
May 21 – Best of Acure Organics: The Line Eraser is my absolute, hands down, FAVORITE Acure product. The Line Eraser is not only a product I have ALREADY bought for myself, (and will again, and again…) but this little pot of heaven is your answer to most skin care problems. I started with putting it on my “lines” – forehead, laugh lines, etc. Then I started putting it on old acne scars, new acne scars, my eyebrows…you name it! (I started deliberately putting this on my eyebrows at night because I realized that it has helped them grow in thicker. Who doesn’t want THAT?) It’s like a healing salve, and so much more. You can put it on burns, cuts, scrapes, eczema, psoriasis, etc. It’s 100% organic. The Line Eraser’s rich, almost Vaseline-like texture lend itself to really, really working wonders on your skin. It lightens and brightens scars, and has worked literal miracles on my brow/frown lines, the things I am most self-conscious about. Even if you COVER yourself in it, as I have everyday, it will last you a solid 6-8 weeks.

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Get Your (Last Minute) Gift On…

  1. Beautycounter Lip Sheer in Plum, $28
  2. S’well Bottle, $25-$45
  3. Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart, $15.26
  4. May Lindstrom The Jasmine Garden Botanical Mist, $60
  5. RMS Living Luminizer, $38
  6. Vapour Replenish Organic Nail & Cuticle Oil, $18

Jennifer’s Picks

I’ve been wanting to try Beautycounter’s Lip Sheers (1) for ages now. They’ve got a really gorgeously branded line of healthy products – the Lip Sheer in Plum seems like a universally flattering holiday shade for all yo’ peeps.

Give the gift of PERPETUAL HYDRATION. I saw Tara from healthy beauty boutique Follain toting one of these (2) during their DC pop-up shop days. I love the look of this pattern: they’re hand-painted, keep drinks cold for 24 hours or hot for 12, are BPA-free and do not condensate. There’s nothing to dislike about this bottle. And as an added holiday-appropriate perk, S’well’s partner American Forests will plant a tree with every purchase. Good karma. Baby trees! I’ll take it.

Did I buy this book (3) for someone on my list? I sure did. SPOILER ALERT. Hope she’s not reading. (Actually, I hope she is, a hit’s a hit. Know what I’m sayin’?) Jolene Hart’s book is all about healing your skin and making yourself glow from the inside out by eating seasonal, healthy, whole foods. She drops lots of knowledge. Hopefully I get to borrow it when my gift recipient is done reading! (But that’s not why I bought it, I swear…)

Kathryne’s Picks

I tried this mist (4) at A Night for Green Beauty this year and was ready to buy 50 and bathe in it because it’s so refreshing, so hydrating, and smells INSANELY delish. It’s just a gorgeous, romantic, subtle product suitable for all skin types & every special person on your list.

Dry winter hands can lead to cracked cuticles. Ouchy! Pick up this practical yet indulgent little gift and help your friends out (5).

Who doesn’t need a little extra glow in the winter time? I have read nothing been stellar reviews about Living Luminizer (6)! Can’t go wrong with this one.

Happy holidays, you guys! What are you giving/making this year?

One for the Dudes: Province Apothecary’s Beard Oil

Province Apothecary Beard Oil

Y’know what we’ve never done on this here blog? Featured products for dudes.

UNTIL TODAY. One small step for Unsullied, one giant leap for…OK, maybe not mankind, but we’re feeling pretty good about it.

Natural skincare, soap and personal care products are not gender-specific. Everyone benefits from using products that are cleaner, healthier and holistic…and free of irritating chemicals and ingredients that do not serve our health. But since Kathryne and I are both, y’know, females, our product reviews naturally have a perpetually womanly perspective. Shucks.

We’ve been talking about getting a male viewpoint on the blog for a while now. With the recent close of No Shave November, the rustic autumn season and the recent popularity of the term “lumbersexual“…we knew we had to start with (drumroll, please) beard oil.

Beard oil also makes a choice selection for the blog because, unlike the vast majority of personal care products out there, it’s a traditionally natural product. Most beard oils are chock full of nourishing oils like jojoba, argan, grape seed, etc., and natural scents. Yeahhh! Plus, it just so happens we liaise with a very beardly dude who has been on the prowl for a solid beard oil for some time now, and he kindly agreed to share his POV for this very blog entry. The fates aligned for this post, my friends.

Today we’re featuring our guy JW. He’s been sporting a beard for the better part of this year, but wasn’t regularly using beard oil…until now. The elixir at hand? Province Apothecary’s Beard Oil ($36 for 30 ml) from Canada, Land of Beards.

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We’d been chatting about beard oil on Twitter (y’know, as people do, totally normal…) in October, and Province Apothecary very kindly offered to send us a bottle for JW to test drive. Lucky for us, we had been coveting this brand’s snazzy blue bottle (it’s dual purpose: looks cool and protects the integrity of the oils) and equally laudable natural ingredients. It came highly recommended by our gal Sonja (beard aficionada, fellow Jon Snow disciple) from Life in Blush. Beard oil is pretty much leave-in conditioner for beards. Province Apothecary’s packs in sunflower oil, jojoba seed oil, grape seed oil, evening primrose oil and GMO-free vitamin E. Combined, they hydrate, reduce itchiness and blemishes, and give beards a healthy shine. On top of that, black spruce is supposed to stimulate hair growth and strengthen the beard, while lavender calms the skin. Therapeutic oils of bergamot, cedar wood and vetiver also make this beard oil smell pretty dreamy.

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Osmia Organics: Kathryne’s Take

Osmia Organics

I met the supremely friendly and down-to-earth team at Osmia Orgamics, a stand-out soap and skincare company made with high-quality natural and organic ingredients, at A Night For Green Beauty over the summer. I felt like a really bad green blogger for never having tried their products, despite hearing great things from everyone…Jennifer included! She had the pleasure of sampling some of their products for acne prone skin earlier in the year and loved them so much. Go check out her review of the Spot Treatment and Black Clay Facial Soap.

Jennifer and I have very different skin, but our experience with Osmia was the same: we fell in love. Osmia sent me products for hydration and balance. I am 30, and my skin is combination. Sometimes it’s crazy oily, other times it’s borderline chapped. I have acne here and there, but nothing too awful…I think it’s what might be considered “normal.” Although, at 16, if you would have told me that one can still get a zit on their chin at 30, I would have slapped you in the face. Alas…welcome to your 30s, ladies! We get to worry about fine lines and pimples! Woohoo! And if that wasn’t enough…I also have a tendency to get small chapped areas from eczema if I am not careful, and although I HATE to admit it, I have paper thin sensitive skin. I get that from my Dad, who will break out into a rash if you even MENTION the word “perfume” around him.

Osmia carries products for full body and facial care: soaps, body oils, facial oils of varying kinds, etc. Their products are targeted to your skin problems: acne, dry skin, aging skin, you name it. They even have a lovely new natural scent line that is subtle, earthy and safe! Osmia prides itself in not only the way their products work on your skin, but also the way that they make you feel when you use them. The calm that washes over you while breathing in the notes of lavender in your soap, the Bulgarian rose and base of violet leaf in their perfume Possa to reinforce your courage and strength. I think that’s a powerful way to make your products.

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