BEAUTY & SKINCARE

Quest Loot: My 2014 Clean’N’Green Best Of

As much as I dislike listing favourite products (mostly due to the formula change that can strike anytime), I’m so happy about this loot that I need to share!

Adventurer, I hope you’ve had the most relaxing and beautiful Christmas celebration. Welcome to my best product finds of 2014 or, as I like to call it: “loot”.
Why loot? Because the process of obtaining it often reminds me of the sometimes funny, sometimes tedious gameplay missions. In my pursuit of practical minimalism as well as in my desire to only support companies and brands that understand and seek the process of big green and ethical Changemaking, finding what I call “ethical excellence” is such a mission. Despite an abundance of products out there, you and I, we both know that it can be a challenge finding one product that’s excellent both ways – the way it is produced and the way it looks and/or delivers. And there’s no point in having a toxic product that delivers (who can enjoy it anyway?), as there is no point in having an eco-fair-clean super-goodness that’s of no real use.

I am always trying to find products that meet these criteria:
+ sustainable, tox-free, fair production
+ organic (OR conventional but), tox-free quality
efficient formula and/or modern, fab design
+ ecological, sustainable sourcing of raw materials
+ no use of palm oil based ingredients OR
+ use of organic palm oil based ingredients (in some cases, I have chosen RSPO-based products because they were the best options I could find so far)
+ vegan formula or raw materials (a few exceptions so far: beeswax in PO-free lipstick)
+ gluten-free/ no use of wheat and wheat protein in cosmetics and personal care
+ a reasonable price and
+ no-fuss availability for customers

In the following, my 2014 clean’n’green loot is shortlisted in 5 categories, some with sub-categories:
1 SKINCARE | SPECIAL SKINCARE | MAKE-UP
2 SLOW FASHION
3 HYGIENE ALL STARS (aka SUNDRIES)
4 HOME & PERSONAL FRAGRANCE
5 FOODbeautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014

My Quest for Ethical Excellence:
The 2014 Loot

Let’s start with my skincare favourites. I have tried and reviewed a whole lot of products, and I have liked many of those. However, here are four products I will definitely keep re-purchasing (and raving about):skincare-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014In this case, I would like to comment only on two products I haven’t reviewed yet.
The Pai moisturiser Geranium & Thistle is amazing for keeping skin perfectly smooth and matt, and the Raspberry Seed Oil by Akamuti has been my dear companion since summer 2014, providing great, all-natural sun screen (at least for my skin type).
As for the other two products, I entrust you to check out my reviews of:
Broccoli Seed Oil and
Pai’s Rosehip Bioregenerate.

And on to special skin care: refresh, revive, refine!special-skincare-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014I am yet to find another cleansing mask that offers the same amount of formula excellence (100% active ingredients!) and impact greatness as the fantabulous Dr Alkaitis Organic Exfoliating Enzyme Mask (read full review here).
And in case you were wondering, yes, I am still using the jar from last year’s review – speaking of packing a punch, eh!

While dry shampoo is something that’s too easy to DIY, I am pretty content to keep the pocket size box of Lulu Organics’ Hair Powder at hand in my beauty case. It’s safe to use on dark hair, and here’s a full review.

The Ananné ginger-infused face mist is a recent discovery. The Swiss-made Tonicum is highly refreshing, but if the skin is very sensitive or irritated, it shouldn’t be used (because it burns, burns, burns… you get the gist). However, when my skin has no irritations, it really helps tighten the skin, creating, paradoxically, a cooling veil.

As for the last two faves…
Would all the people tied to a screen 24/7 please stand up!
There is nothing better to soothe eyes or refresh tired, dry eyes than the Euphrasia eye drops by Wala, available in pharmacies. It is a homoeopathic compound, but I just like it for its preservative-free, tear-like liquid formula and the damn handy packaging.

My additional tip for Wala Euphrasia: I use it to clean up my eyes after removing some particularly heavy, smoky make-up, clingly eyeliner, and such. It washes away all that product residue that sometimes ends up in the corners of the eyes.”

While Eye Revive (former name: Eye Solace) by Dr. Hauschka looks like eye drops, it is NOT.
Read my full review here – it’s truly an amazing formula for everyone with puffy, burning and tired eyes, and if you battle such conditions, give it a try. It has been my favourite lifesaver on short breaks during exhausting car trips!

Now, what are we going to do with all that great skin? Of course we’re going to paint it! 😉 On to my make-up darlings.makeup-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014Finding PO-free make-up is quite a task. I was nearly lost as I stumbled upon the RSPO-based, Ecocert-certified mascara by Zao. Completely free from PO-based ingredients, the glossy and buildable Lip Shine by rms is a cult product with the green beauty community, as are the Ilia Beauty lipsticks and lip conditioners. However, I had to learn that the (otherwise beautiful) Ilia mascara and lip glosses do contain conventional PO. Blimey 😦

More for your green’n’clean immersion/ reading pleasure? Yes please:
1 My favourite 7 (partly vegan), tox-free and PO-free lipsticks: review & swatches;
2 Review & swatches of all my 11-free Korres nail polishes;
3 The epic Korres-Tromborg-Zao nail polish battle!

Slow Fashion time!
While my NY2014 resolution of finding fab (fair, tox-free, sustainable) and vegan shoes, bags and bras has completely failed, I am more than happy to have found and tested these:slow-fashion-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014You have seen Amalena mentioned in my post on ethical & eco jewellery, and it has been the prize in my, now closed, International Christmas Giveaway. There is more info on the newly launched brand coming soon, but for now just take my word that Amalena is pretty much an embodiement of ethical excellence – great design, amazingly holistic ethical concept, attentive customer service and perfect availability thanks to the brand’s online store.

For German eco fashionistas, neither Armed Angels, nor Manomama are news.
While Armed Angels is a go-to shop for all fashion basics (tees, printed tees, organic cotton knits, pants, dresses etc.), Manomama is an Augsburg-based business rooted in the idea of fair economy, local community support, and production-on-demand. Their underwear and denim are of the best quality and completely made in Germany down to the latest thread.

Dilling, on the other hand, was a discovery for me. Offering organic undergarments and functional & sports underwear for women, men, and kids, the family-owned company are specialists in their field since 1919, and it shows. The fabric quality, the fitting, the fashion – thanks to this find, I don’t have to be cold this winter (or to wear my old, conventional functional garments made of /irony mode on/ lovely, recycled PET bottles and natural mineral oil! /irony mode off/).

…Now on to washing those garments 😉hygiene-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014Actually, this category is a bit mixed, so I call it “hygiene all stars”.

After plowing through various offerings in the field of sanitary pads, I have come to quite like this all-organic, non-bleached and tox-free range by Organyx. The product availability is somewhat random over here, but the product is so far the best. (NB: …don’t even get me started on those washable, foldable, reusable, and oh, probably also inheritable cups. Make me cringe just looking at them. Where’s product excellence or even basic hygiene in washing a stained silicone bubble in a public toilet?)

You might remember Sodasan from this PO statement. Their openness was good enough reason for me to dump Ecover until they figure out their PO policies, and it has been the best decision.
I absolutely love the Sodasan range of dish detergents and the liquid washing agent designed for sportswear (yes! you read right!), both vegan and certified with Ecocert, but also insanely efficient.

While we all can agree that Triclosan-based disinfectants are anathema, sometimes the need for a disinfectant arises. In such a case I grab my spray bottle of Sonett‘s fabulous Ecocert-certified, lavender-infused goodness, and bid viruses, bacteria and yeasts farewell…

Triclosan is a perfect transition to my next product faves.
Q: Do they still add the mean T. to toothpaste?
A: For sure not to these two faves of mine!

One is a blast from the past: the Vitamin B12 enriched (vegan) toothpaste by Santé.
Another is a holistic personal care and beauty brand I’ve discovered thanks to my dear friend Sonja (Life in Blush): Living Libations. I will review both products, not just the Gum Drops shown here, very soon!
Until then, check out this post on dental care featuring a few phenomenal insights from the Living Libations founder.

Head up!
You’re almost there! 😀

Home fragrance and great organic scents are my next wonderful category.fragrance-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014Do you like to scent your home like I do? And I’ve had them all, candles, sprays, diffusors, oil burners, and even those fancy French lamps. Today, I have two faves to architect a fragrant signature for my home: first, it’s the organic home fragrance spray range by Primavera. Available in several soothing, refreshing, energising blends, the small glass bottles are the easiest way to spritz some extra energy into your space.

Another go-to scent helper are those cute porcelaine cubes and essential oils, available in single oils and oil blends, by Grüne Erde. Grüne Erde (=green earth) is an Austrian green company offering green fashion, furniture, tableware, home accessories, personal care items and cosmetics through their monobrand shops + an online shop.

As for tox-free perfume, these three have accompanied me through the most interesting moments of 2014.
Here they are with individual reviews:
1 Balm Balm, Spearmint;
2 The 7 Virtues, Patchouli of Rwanda;
3 Acorelle, Orchidée Blanche.

And finally, my last category – food!
Eating gluten-free and (as) vegan (as possible) is quite a task in two situations: you travel. You’re extremely short of time. Convenience food, even organic, is often gluten-based. Vegan sausages and such are often gluten-based. It’s a never-ending story.
But here are my food heroes of 2014:glutenfree-vegan-delish-food-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014{CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW IT FULL SIZE}
Herbaria spices – this company keeping their production as local as possible, offers organic herbs, rare spices, and outstanding sweet and savoury herbal blends that help lift vegan and vegetarian recipes rrrrrright to the next level!

Xucker.de organic/ vegan xylitol – in particular, this finely milled xylitol-vanilla blend is a favourite. Xylitol is a processed product, and so some shun it. To me, there are 3 reasons to use it: it’s good for the teeth; Xucker.de (a Berlin-based business) offer organic, thus GMO-free xylitol; other than most sugar substitutues, it does not have a particularly strong taste;

Alnavit gluten-free muffins & pizza flour blend – no comment, simply a life-saver.
Pizza or cupcakes, cookies or scones, pancakes or pastry, this organic flour blend is the best I’ve tried.

Ölmühle (=oil mill) Solling is my gateway to cold-pressed oil goodness. The mill’s own online shop is my source for freshly produced, top quality oils. Thanks to Eiswuerfel im Schuh‘s Nadin for the tip! Equally, I want to officially thank you for the following suggestion as well!

Tee Kontor Kiel is my go-to one stop shop for finest tea, Booja Booja chocolates, and tea accessories – and in charge of my steady matcha supply. The online shop is very well made, and their customer service is one of the best of the continent.

Schär is a major player when it comes to gluten-free bread, snacks, and packaged food (offering gluten-free dupes of the most pop cookie and snacking favourites out there), and as such they surprised me with their RSPO certificate as I asked. When it comes to organic brands, I think RSPO is rather a half-arsed choice. But when a conventional food industry brand considers RSPO, I think it deserves a thumbs up and a cheer:

Please keep the good surprises coming, Schär! The gluten-free crowd is often very eco-conscious as well.”

Next favourite, Blyss is, for me, like Amalena eco fair gold and Manomama local, fair, eco fashion – picture perfect Ethical Excellence. Blyss chocolate is raw and vegan, ridiculously high in antioxidants, delicious and authentic. Their cacao beans, nibs, butter, and powder are my favourite raw materials for cooking and for some beauty DIYs. And as for the Blyss chocolate and cacao powder covered raw beans… Heavenly!

As much as I love my choc raw and pure, some recipes call for milk chocolate. Since my home is dairy-free (except for a rare piece of goat cheese), I was over the moon to stumble across Rapunzel rice milk chocolate couverture. You might even have spotted it in my recipe for the delicious Matcha-Wasabi-Double-Spice-Crunch Mini Chocolate Bars! It’s a bit too sweet to be enjoyed pure, but it’s a perfect gooey, melting base for some serious spicy crunch there.

And now, let’s wrap up the 2014 loot review with some festive highlights, shall we?

The following favourites can turn everyday meals into festive menus:glutenfree-vegan-delish-food-2-beautycalypse-shortlist-best-of-2014Berry preserves from the Helene Meier Stiftung are more than just delicious jams from a Demeter-certified Saxon producer. The charitable foundation (“Stiftung”) employs concussion patients. It shouldn’t be a big deal in a civilised world, actually. Alas, it is, and so these berry preserves are actually my main – nearly only – source of refined sugar.
Available in Berlin in select organic stores and at Vom Einfachen das Gute.

Eller Finest Selection wines are my 2013 discovery, but have accompanied me through all festive and special moments of 2014 as well. I will raise a glass of their most delectable and fruity pink sparkly this NYE, in fact 😉

And now, confession time!
I admit, some vegan recipes have never won my heart because most soy-based “dairy” ingredients don’t offer a comparable amount of creamy taste and flavour. But with Provamel unsweetened liquid yoghurt and Soyananda most luxuriantly rich and Omega-3-infused vegan cream, desserts and creamy sauces are a piece of cake!
(You might remember Soyananda from this 2014 most read recipe: Strawberries & Cream Shortbread Cookies)

One more goodie to wrap it up!
I like that organic nut spreads by Rapunzel are available in pure nut butter and in several sweetened nut spread qualities to meet every taste (pure and vegan; sweetened and vegan; with cacao; with dairy). No matter what you choose, the quality is superb, and the fine nut fragrance is divine. (You might remember the hazelnut spread from my Fancy A Date recipe)

And now – congrats, Adventurer! 😉
You’ve made it to the end.

Questions, remarks, objections?
Share in the comments!

13 replies »

  1. I read it all, and I loved it! You’re the ultimate eco rockstar or all star (as you prefer). Thank you for always sharing your knowledge and advices. A happy new year to you, may it be filled with health and happiness! (and vegan shoes, bags and bras 😉 xx

    • My belle, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas time. Have a wonderful start into a magical 2015! ❤

  2. Pleased to hear you like Green Earth. I was looking at their products today in the supermarket and wondering about whether to buy any of them. My favourite underwear company in NZ is Thunderpants. http://www.thunderpants.co.nz/ Been a fan for years but it’s good to see they are now using organic cotton. Haven’t researched the company in depth though.

    • Not sure we’re talking about the same “Green Earth” here though: http://www.grueneerde.com/de/index.html?0

      And as for the undies, I think the real challenge are them bras. Impossible to find eco-fair bras with a good fit! Or, for that matter, even conventional bras with a great fit. I’m getting the sense that most bras are designed by people who have only theoretical knowledge of breasts.