In Love with Living Nature

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You guys know (well, if you’ve been reading, which you SHOULD BE -kidding-) that I’ve been trying to branch out with the beauty products. There’s Birchbox, and there was Ipsy, and there’s me just trying to take care of myself and my appearance. And trying new things, and yeah, splurging a little every now and again. I mean…come on. Life is too short to never play with makeup and beauty products and to always stick to the stuff you can buy at the drugstore (I’m totally not knocking the drugstore – I get most of my stuff there, let’s be honest).

Anyway, a while ago I read about Living Nature, a company out of New Zealand, that does cosmetic products and gets rave reviews. They use all natural ingredients, and I was hoping my crazy sensitive (read: CRANKY) skin would finally find something it liked. Plus, the last few months I’ve woken up and gotten concerned about the insane amount of chemicals I’m exposed to every day. I looked up the ingredients in my Cetaphil that I’ve used for years, and 7 of the 8 ingredients are chemicals I can’t pronounce. The 8th ingredient? WATER. Anyway, I’ve been gradually trying to make the switch to natural when and where I can (and yeah, I realize that it’s not always practical, but I figure every little bit helps). So, when I got the opportunity to try a few Living Nature products in exchange for a review, I jumped at it.

I’ll get to the products in a minute.

First of all, let me just say – Nicola, the Web/Communication Manager is SUPER nice. She sent me a personalized email with some talking points about the products, and has answered all my questions. AND she read my blog, because she commented on my Dracena post. So kudos to Living Nature and Nicola for awesome customer service. (And you know, that really really really goes a long way.)

Living Nature’s big thing is that the products are certified natural, and use New Zealand ingredients. Every single product. There’s nothing synthetic or toxic about it. No Sodium Lauryl Sulphate. Instead, they use Kumerahou, a shrub that lathers when you rub the flowers and leaves together.  Every single ingredient, even preservatives and fragrances, is natural. And it’s not just talk either…they’re certified by BDIH Germany. Because of this, all of their products have an expiration date. Pretty cool, huh?

We use New Zealand’s unique native botanicals with their ability to heal, purify, nourish and protect your skin. Just some of our remarkably bioactive ingredients include Harakeke Flax Gel to soothe and hydrate, Active Manuka Honey to nourish and heal, and Kumerahou to cleanse without breaking the skin’s moisture barrier.

Here’s a list of what they call their “Hero Ingredients.”

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Going along with that, their packaging is recyclable, and BPA-free. And you know what else I really like? They don’t test on animals. At all. WINNER. Definitely makes me feel good about supporting them.

This is their mission statement, taken directly from the website:

“To create a sustainable, profitable, ecological, educational and inspirational business that impacts on the individual by promoting healthy vibrant skin; on the community by creating employment; on the country by featuring the uniqueness of our plant resources and earning export income; on the world by being a model of ethical, honourable business and solving inherent 21st century problems in a way that inspires the human spirit.”

Ok, I’m a total nerd, but I got super excited when the box came. I’ve never gotten anything from overseas, so it was a huge moment for me. Super exciting. And it had my name on it!!

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OMG I GOT AIRMAIL!!!! EEEEEKKKK!!!

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And now, not looking like an idiot…

Anyway, Nicola asked me what I was looking at, and I was totally honest with her – I couldn’t decide. So I gave her a list, and told her to pick what she thought I should try out of that. Imagine my amazement and surprise when I opened the box and saw that she sent me ALL of it, and then some!!!!

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Holy cow!!! Look at all that!!!! Totally shocked me on that one.

Before I tell you about the individual products, I want to point out something that made a huge impression on me. When I was first looking at the bottles, I couldn’t figure out how to open them. So I was messing with it, and all of a sudden this little plastic piece popped off, and the bottle opened. Living Nature builds in “leakproofing” into their bottles. GENIUS.

Sorry, it was a little hard to photograph

Sorry, it was a little hard to photograph

One more thing to mention, and this goes for all of the products, so that’s why I’m mentioning it now. They all have a very botanical smell. It’s a good smell, but I’ll be honest – it’s kind of a weird smell, especially if you’re used to synthetic products. Reminds me a little bit of massage oils some of the pricier spas use. I absolutely love the smell now, but at first I wasn’t expecting it. Their website says the smell is strongest when you first open the bottle, and will fade over time (which I have noticed). That makes me sad, because the smell really adds to the experience.

Ok, on to the goodies!!!! (I’m using their website pictures because they’re a whole lot better than most of mine.)

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Skin Essentials to Clarify Oily Skin

This includes the Purifying Cleanser, Hydrating Toning Gel, Balancing Day Lotion, Firming Flax Serum, and Balancing Night Gel. The regimen is pretty simple…Cleanser followed by Toning Gel and Flax Serum. At night, Night Gel (duh), and in the morning, Day Lotion (again, duh).

Purifying Cleanser: This is the cleanser for oily skin. It contains Manuka extract, which is even stronger than tea tree oil at killing bacteria (don’t worry, I’d never heard of it either; I had to look it up). The cleanser is a nice gel consistency, smells divine, and feels amazing. It’s not drying, but my skin feels cleansed after using it. A little goes a long way…I started with a pea-sized amount, and that was too much. Now I’m using roughly the size of a lentil. This is my favorite scent of the skin care products I received.

Hydrating Toning Gel: This one firms, moisturizes, and prevents oil production. Don’t ask me how it does that, but it does. My skin has been less oily than ever before. Like the cleanser, a little goes a long way. This has more of a citrusy smell. Unlike a lot of toners, which are really drying, this one isn’t. Even if I forget to put the day lotion on right away, my skin is fine. I’ve started using it on my neck too.

Balancing Day Lotion: So the one complaint (and it’s really not even a complaint) I have about Living Nature is the fact that there’s no sun protection. I really wish the day lotion had it. Otherwise, it’s a great moisturizer. Lightweight, and not greasy, but very creamy. Almost the consistency of sour cream, which I know sounds weird, but just trust me. Feels sooo good going on, and absorbs super quickly.

Firming Flax Serum: This is a firming serum, and won the 2011 Natural Health Beauty Award for Best Skin Serum. Honestly, I keep forgetting to use it, but when I do, my skin does actually look a little firmer. And my makeup goes on smoother when I use this, compared to when I don’t. Fortunately I don’t have many wrinkles, and I’d like to keep it that way, so I’ll be keeping this in my routine!

Balancing Night Gel: I haven’t used this as much, because it’s a really little package and I want to save it! It balances moisture and soothes skin overnight. It feels great, but I haven’t seen a huge difference – though again, tiny package, and I probably haven’t been using it long/often enough. I suspect that it’ll help heal scars and blemishes. They have another night gel, the Radiance Night Oil, that I’m also intrigued by, that I think is more of a regenerative collagen-boosting oil.

Overall Verdict: No joke, my skin has never looked better. I’ve been using this for over three weeks, and I have not had One.Single.Breakout. That in itself is a miracle. I am absolutely in love with this skin care regimen. I’m not going to lie…it’s pricey. Like, three times what I normally pay for skin care. And I’m going to buy it the second I run out (well, probably before so I don’t actually have to go a day without it). It’s that good.

I actually asked Nicola about the lack of sun protection ingredients. She told me that at one time, Living Nature did have a sunscreen product, but had to remove it due to ingredient complications with the BDIH certification. It’s difficult to achieve a truly natural sunscreen product with adequate SPF. That said, some of the natural ingredients do provide a small degree of sun protection on their own, but the overall products have not been rated for SPF. Living Nature does, however, have a product in development that will offer both makeup and sun protection, so I’m excited to see that!

Next up….

shampoo conditioner

Balancing Shampoo: So, by now I should know that shampoos without sodium laurel sulfate don’t lather quite the same way. I should know that. I don’t. So I wasn’t prepared the first few times I used this. Sigh. When I finally got it though, I admit my hair felt pretty good. And it seems to hold up a little better, not get oily as fast. And it seems to be preserving my hair color, which is a bonus.

Balancing Conditioner: Same deal here….natural conditioner is totally different from not-natural conditioner. This one isn’t goopy, for one thing. It almost feels dry when it’s on my hair. But, it obviously works, because my hair isn’t dry once I’ve rinsed it out. This doesn’t have much of a scent.

Overal Verdict: I like these. I don’t love them, but I do like them. Then again, I’m finicky when it comes to shampoo and conditioner, so tomorrow I’ll probably love them. I can’t deny that my hair looks good when I use them, so my issue is more with the in-shower experience. And that’s kinda silly.

And finally…

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Soft Lights Illuminating Foundation: Winner of the 2013 Natural Health Beauty Award for Best Skin Perfector, this foundation promises to give your “complexion a soft radiance.” I got the Day Glow shade. It’s a tad on the dark side, but will be fine after a couple more days in the sun. The website says to use your fingers to blend, but I’ve had better luck with a brush. I didn’t blend it completely so you could easily tell where I’d put it on in the photo below. Hopefully you can see the radiance effect.

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Overall Verdict: I’m not going to lie…this had to grow on me. At first, I was not convinced, but I decided to keep trying it. And now I’m convinced. It’s got a pearlescent finish, so there’s a lot of “radiance” going on. That’s not a bad thing, just took some getting used to. It kinda makes me look like I’ve been at the beach all day. That’s hard to explain – but when I’m out in the sun, my skin gets this distinct sheen to it….and it looks the same with this foundation. It’s pretty sheer, but I use a BB cream anyway, so the coverage is perfect for me. In other words, it doesn’t hide everything, but I’m good with that. And the best part? It lasts all day, and doesn’t transfer. To anything. To my fingers, to my pillowcase (because yes, sometimes I skip the night routine – shame I me, I know), to Jimmie’s t-shirt…not a single speck. It also feels great on. I don’t even notice it. And did I mention it lasts all day? We went to an outdoor concert one Friday after work a week or so ago, then went out after the concert, and my face didn’t get oily at all with this stuff on – even without reapplying. And with no powder. (This is not the picture from that day, sorry.)

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After wearing the foundation ALL DAY LONG. Also used the shampoo/conditioner this morning.

So you can probably tell, I’m a little bit in LOVE with Living Nature. Swoon. Wonder if they’ll adopt me and bring me to New Zealand?

In all seriousness, I’m not blowing smoke. Hopefully by now you guys know that if I didn’t love something, I’d tell you. And I honestly love these products. I love the company philosophy, I love the products, I love the people (well, person)…just love it.

And yeah…it’s expensive. By my standards, at least. I mean, it’s not La Mer ($300 for a night creme? What’s in it, gold?), but it’s not Ivory soap either. But I’ll pay it, because it makes my skin look like it’s never looked before. And because I feel good about using it. And because it smells yummy.

Ok, ok, ok. Enough about my love affair with Living Nature. Just try it, ok? (And if anyone tries the Lip Hydrator, please let me know what you think, because I want to try it next!!!)

Disclosure: All products were provided by Living Nature for my honest review. 

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