Hey: put down that manufactured moisturizer! Give your factory-made face wash a break.
While some of my favorite natural beauty brands are big fish, there’s no denying the “warm fuzzy” feeling brought on by using small-batch, natural, handcrafted skincare products. For the past few weeks, I’ve been getting my fix from Natural E.
After I “favorited” some of her products on Etsy, Elaine from New York City-based Natural E reached out to me and asked if I’d like to sample and review a few of them. Yes, please!
One browse through Elaine’s Etsy page gives you an idea of the amount of care, precision and thoughtfulness she puts into curating the natural and often organic ingredients that make up her products: locally-sourced honey (transported by the beekeeper himself – in full beekeeping garb – through Manhattan), scents inspired by an old-time-y apothecary in the West Village…the list goes on. All of the rich scents, textures and colors of Elaine’s products, from the amber liquid in her face serum to the soothing, herbal aroma of her cleansing grains, bring a character and personal touch that is hard to find in more mainstream products. Plus, Elaine seriously knows her stuff. She’s been experimenting with and studying holistic and natural beauty since she was a teenager. She gets major brownie points from us for being an early adopter…it took us nearly 30 years to get even a basic grasp of things!
I’ve enjoyed using all of Elaine’s gentle and effective products, and some of them have become new staples for me (her lip balms, face serum and scrub…so good!). In fact, the one-two punch of using Natural E’s cleansing grains followed by the face serum helped me bounce back from a yucky break-out (!), which was an unexpected and much welcomed outcome.
Read on for the full experience and get your warm fuzzy on.
Natural E’s cleansing grains intrigued me because I’d never seen or used anything like them. One teaspoon mixed with water turns this powder into a sage green cleansing paste that offers light exfoliation and facilitates clear skin (sure worked for me!). Plus: I’ve found the grains really enjoyable to use, due in large part to the incredibly soothing, herbal scent. Seriously, while writing this blog post, I’ve twisted the cap off these cleansing grains and inhaled about ten times. Am I an addict?
The label states that the gentle grains are an Ayurvedic face cleanser. I’m definitely no pro in Ayurveda, (a holistic Indian medicine practice) so, I asked Elaine to give me the rundown on how she incorporated Ayurvedic principles into this product.
I love the way she introduces it:
“What I like about Ayurveda is that it’s about going with the flow and being mindful. Everything is energy; fill your environment with sights, sounds and smells that have positive energy – and all the pleasure and healing you will bring to the senses contributes to inner and outer beauty.”
If that insight doesn’t bring a little balance to your day, I don’t know what will.
“My Gentle Grains are a tridoshic ubtan (herbal powder suitable for all skin types) that is built upon two important ingredients of powdery chickpea flour, which gently exfoliates dead skin cells and turmeric, which has antibacterial properties,” Elaine wrote. “Neem is another Indian herb that helps fight bacteria and vitamin c/antioxidant in the form of alma helps skin stay youthful. Clay, xantham gum, enzymes and jojoba oil add versatility to the product so it can be used as a rinsable mask as another option. The essential oil blend is not necessarily Ayurvedic, but it has anti-bacterial, brightening and calming properties.”
All in all: an inventive, unique, effective product that’s a joy to use!
Face Serum, $32 for .5 oz (pictured at top)
I’m relatively new to facial oil blends, having ascribed to pure argan oil for many months. This product makes me a permanent believer in blends.
With a crisp, fresh, floral scent, this seriously magic elixir leaves skin velvety and matte. I love the finish it leaves on my skin – more than any of the serums I have in my bathroom cabinet arsenal (try it and you’ll see what I’m talking about!). Immediately after I use it my skin feels supple, firm and gets a bit of a glow. Seriously, this serum is the real deal. I love that every ingredient plays a role in rejuvenating or improving your skin. Take a look at the ingredients below. A few of these are new territory for me – thank you, Elaine, for the introduction!
- Squalane: instant, light and fast absorbing moisture
- Everlasting/immortelle: firming and smoothing
- Rosehip: firmness and elasticity
- Seabuckthorn Berry: regeneration
- Rose geranium: brightening
- Borage: hydration
- Chamomile: anti-inflammation
- CoQ10: antioxidant
- Red raspberry: antioxidant
- Calendula: repairing
Have I mentioned that I’m a lip balm-oholic? Dry, chapped lips are my #1 pet peeve, so I keep a stick or tub of lip balm everywhere: on my desk at work, at least two in my purse (…things get lost in there…), upon my bedside table, and so on. The balms from Natural E are officially my new favorites. I love them!
So much can go wrong with lip balm. Too much essential oil, too melty or mushy, too hard, overly medicated, yadda yadda. Natural E hits it just right. I find both beeswax-based sticks pretty consistent in terms of texture and moisture – they have a number of overlapping ingredients, apart from their namesakes. The rose balm contains a swirl of alkanet, which is a key natural tint in my favorite lip stain. I’d describe both sticks as “soft solids” that leave your lips feeling immediately moisturized. The silky feeling you’re left with after application is pretty long-lasting, too. The scents are subtle, which I appreciate, with a touch of sweetness from stevia.
In sum: my new favorites!
Natural E’s almond soap was actually the first product to catch my eye in Natural E’s line. The almond scent is seriously DELISH, and this is a substantial, nourishing soap bar. I’ve been using it in tandem with the scrub bar (below) and absolutely loving my morning showers of late.
Earth Organic Shower Bar, $11.95
This bar has been an a.m. savior for me. Most mornings, I can barely distinguish my own face in the mirror (“Who the hell is in my apartment?!”). Having Natural E’s shower bar/scrub on my shower ledge literally makes me excited to jump out of bed and use my primitive a.m. motor skills to scrub-a-dub: this bar wakes up my skin just like dry brushing, and the added bonus is that I’m simultaneously getting clean and experiencing the soap’s gentle and sweet scent – plus a little kick of spice (a blend of frankincense, myrrh, patchouli and vanilla, with lighter notes of lemon, rose and lavender). Walnut and bamboo powder provide just the right amount of exfoliants without being abrasive.
You may notice that my shower bar, pictured above, is a bit darker than the one pictured on Elaine’s Etsy page. Since all of her soaps are made by hand, colors may differ, even though she’s using the same formulation. Everything Elaine makes is one of a kind.
How many major brands can say that?
Thank you, Elaine, for sharing your incredible products with me – and for opening my eyes to some amazing ingredients and principles!
**All products mentioned in this post were generously sent to me for review by Natural E. Check out our policy on product reviews.