Elegantly Eco

eco beauty, fashion & info


@LavinaSkinCare #Giveaway

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I’m so excited to announce my first ever giveaway on my blog!! If you’ve been following along you’ll know that I received Lavina’s Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil & Organic Argan Oil for review. I loved them so much that Lavina has agreed to host an international giveaway. One lucky winner will get a 10 ml Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil & a 30 ml Organic Argan Oil! To learn more about Lavina read my interview with the founders.

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Status: OPEN

Prize: Lavina 10 ml Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil & 30 ml Organic Argan Oil

Enter Dates: July 24, 2014 to August 06, 2014

Eligibility: International residents

Winner: TBA



Spotlight on: @LavinaSkinCare

Lavina is a brand spanking new Toronto-based company that was only created about 3 months ago by two graduate students. I was honoured to have received some samples of their Barbary Fig Seed Oil & their Argan Oil not long ago. As you all know, I love supporting Canadian businesses. So I thought that picking the brains of Lavina’s founders would be a great start to introduce them to the rest of the world. Without further ado, here is my interview with founders: Victor Udeh-Martin & Younes Terrab.

Note: All images except my logo are from the Lavina website.

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Younes & Victor of Lavina

clip_image002    How did the two of you decide that you wanted to create an organic skincare company? What are your backgrounds, were each of you always interested in skincare?

Y:    Lavina was curated on the foundation of pursuing entrepreneurship with a love for everything organic.

I am Moroccan & basically I got drenched in Argan oil from when I was a little boy growing up in Tangier. My mother had a very basic morning & night time beauty routine: she would wake up, grab a warm towel & begin her mornings with the Argan oil cleansing method, take a bath & then apply Argan oil as a primer & finish with her make-up. In the evenings, she would use Argan oil as her make up remover, then a quick wash of the hair with Argan, add some more Argan oil to condition & after wrapping her hair, she would put us to sleep.

Everything was strategic, organized & yet very simple. I probably never thought I took these moments in. My mum has incredibly glowing skin by the way & so do many women in Morocco. We all grew up on natural ingredients & I want to share this idea of natural beauty & simplicity, with our customers.

V:    Younes actually introduced me to oils while in university. I had serious acne & eczema. I had tried lots of different products without ever checking the labels or questioning whether they were any toxic ingredients in any of them.

It is incredible to know the European Union has banned over 1400 toxic ingredients in cosmetics while the US has banned 11 & Canada less than 500. That means some face creams we are buying here in the beauty aisles of North America have different ingredients than those in the aisles of Europe. It’s empowering to know this. It made me immediately want to learn more & see how else I could empower others with this information.

I have oily skin & Barbary Fig Seed Oil was the first oil I used for my acne.  I was pleasantly surprised at how soft & radiant my skin felt especially when one considers adding oil to their skin. That was completely unexpected.

One big bonus is that almost all plant oils contain vitamins & minerals that are essential for healthy skin & hair. This was one of the key reasons we wanted to create an organic skincare company that serves plant oils.

clip_image002[1]    What kind of message or image does Lavina want to send out into the world?

Y:    Eco friendly & local products are two of our favourite obsessions, but the core of our existence is to help/assist women in embracing & celebrating their natural beauty.

From the ethically sourced oils we serve, to our blog & our partners, the aim is to deliver ample resources that holistic minded consumers can harness to improve their beauty & way of life.


clip_image002[2]    What is different about Lavina Skincare compared to other brands?

V:    We try not to compare Lavina to other skin care brands, especially when there’s so much love within this community and the passion that goes into creating organic beauty products in general.

I would like to quote Jacqueline Jones of thebeautyproof.com. Her quote embodies some of the values of why we decided to start Lavina:

“Love drives the green beauty community. Love for health. Love for transparency. Love for quality. And mostly, love for the wellness of women.”

Here at Lavina, we see beauty as something that is projected from within & then translated into confidence & smiles.

We strive to enable you to embrace your natural beauty by offering pure & organic ingredients that will enhance your natural appearance. We also ensure all our products are cruelty free & sourced directly from the fields. This allows us to build strong relationships with our growers, ensuring quality, environmental commitment, ethical production & outstanding value to you.

clip_image002[3]    What is Lavina Skincare planning for the future?

Y:    We set out to develop a beauty brand with a focus on working with international women’s cooperatives to source some of the rarest & most versatile plants oils in the world that will have you looking & feeling radiant.

We will continue to build our unique range of plant oils so as to meet the diverse needs of our customers worldwide. Each of our oils is organically formulated to nurture & revive your hair & complexion. More importantly they will make you look & feel natural. As our brand continues to grow & evolve, our customers will remain our #1 source of inspiration! We want everyone to celebrate their natural beauty, embrace their unique characteristics & bring a focus back to something that many of us sometimes take for granted: the base of our skin.


Thanks so much Victor & Younes of Lavina for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview.  Thanks also to Rodrick for organizing everything. I have to agree with the quote from thebeautyproof.com. Love does drive the green beauty community. That’s why I started this blog: So that I can spread my love for amazing Canadian companies like Lavina Skincare! Smile

And now for more exciting news! Tomorrow will be the first ever giveaway on my blog, hosted by Lavina. One lucky person will win a full sized Barbary Fig Seed Oil & Argan Oil! Giveaway is open internationally! Check out my blog post tomorrow for more details.


Product Review: @LavinaSkinCare

I actually first heard about Lavina Skincare from Amber’s review on her blog. When I read that Lavina Skincare is a Toronto based company I was really intrigued. So I contacted them & they kindly sent me their Barbary Fig Seed Oil & Argan Oil to review.

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Barbary Fig Seed Oil ** PR Sample

Ingredients: 100% Pure, Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil, Cold-Pressed.

Barbary Fig Seed Oil is an amazing oil that feels light yet packs a powerful ability to hydrate the skin. To me it smells like a hint of fruit with the smell of freshly mown dewy grass. In appearance it’s a lovely mellow yellow colour & is easily spread onto the skin. Some people complain about the smell but I think it actually smells quite natural & subtle. The smell also doesn’t last once your skin absorbs the oil. Its hydrating properties come from the high amounts of linoleic acid, Vitamin E, & anti-inflammatories such as betalain & zinc. I’ve used the La Bella Figura Barbary Fig Seed Oil & I like this one much better. For one thing, it’s in a rollerball so you don’t waste as much oil trying to get it onto your face. Plus it’s from a Canadian company & the size makes it more affordable for those on a budget. You really don’t need to slather on this oil to get its benefits. I think I’ve found my HG oil!

Cost: $29.99 CAD, 0.33 fl oz / 10ml
Available at: Lavina Skincare, Free Shipping in N. America
Rating: 5/5

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Argan Oil ** PR Sample

Ingredients: 100% Pure, Organic Argan Oil, Cold-Pressed
Argan oil has a light nutty smell. It’s lighter yellow than the Barbary Fig Seed oil & feels slightly more heavy in viscosity. Argan also has high levels of Vitamin E & fatty acids which are great at nourishing the skin & hair. It also has medicinal uses for rheumatism & the healing of burns. I like to use argan oil on my hair & also as a body moisturizer. I love the quality of this argan oil. It feels luxurious without being too heavy. Will definitely repurchase!

Cost: $19.99 CAD, 1 fl oz / 30ml
Available at: Lavina Skincare, Free Shipping in N. America
Rating: 5/5

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I’ll be posting my interview with the founders of Lavina Skincare!

**PR Samples for review, all opinions are my own.

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Book Review: Joyous Health, by Joy McCarthy

Joyous Health-Joy McCarthy
About the author:

Joy McCarthy is the Holistic Nutrition & Health Expert to Global TV’s The Morning Show. Her journey to health began in her late teens when she suffered from hormonal imbalance, digestive problems and anxiety. In an effort to find the answer to balance her hormones, she went from one specialist to the next. The only solutions presented to her were medication after medication to alleviate the symptoms. After three years of this search for answers, she decided to stop looking for a cure and address the root cause of her hormonal imbalance.
Source: Excerpts From Joyous Health, About page

I’ve learned so much from this book. It’s not strictly about being eco-friendly. But it totally ties into related issues about health. Why do we go green? For most people it’s to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals they are exposed to on a daily basis.  Working on that assumption, you would also want to eat healthy foods without chemicals. In my mind it doesn’t make much sense to use non-toxic personal care & wear eco-friendly clothes, only to eat food full of toxic chemicals. Most conventionally processed foods actually contain carcinogens.

In the first chapter McCarthy talks about how dieting & calorie counting isn’t sustainable & why. She emphasizes eating real food, listening to your body, prevention of symptoms, & how eating healthy food is just one part of whole body health. She also talks about eating patterns, mindful eating, & simple habits that you can incorporate into your life right away. She illustrates her points with tips, recipes & real life examples from clients.

Chapter Two is all about your gut. McCarthy talks in detail about what exactly happens when you eat food & why lots of people experience digestion issues. She emphasizes chewing, drinking lots of water (to assist your liver), eating fiber, eating water rich foods, & taking probiotics. She also gives solutions to common digestive problems, lists fiber rich foods, which foods to eliminate or reduce, eating techniques & food combining. Besides the tips, recipes & real life examples, McCarthy also includes some simple home tests you can do to see how well your digestion works.

Chapter Three is deals with foods, supplements & habits. What you eat can affect your mood. She advises using a food journal to see how certain foods affect your mood. She also talks about food allergies/sensitivites, good carbs, high quality protein, good fats, & how to avoid emotional eating. I loved the strategies she recommends in this chapter! My faves are: writing a love letter to yourself & the brain dump. The love letter to yourself works at replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Can’t sleep because your mind is always thinking? Do the brain dump before you go to bed. It helps you to release all the niggling thoughts of the day.

Chapter Four is about detox solutions & why it’s important to detox. She lists some foods to eliminate while detoxing, food additives, artificial sweeteners, top 7 foods to avoid, what is BPA, best natural detoxifiers, the dirty dozen, clean 15, dry skin brushing, clean personal care & social detoxing.

Chapter Five is about superfoods & healthy lifestyle habits. She lists some superfoods to eat & why you should eat superfoods. She also talks about eating a rainbow of food colours, which foods to eat organic, & list some lifestyle habits to adopt.

Chapter Six is about creating the joyous kitchen. McCarthy talks about the joyous health food pyramid, includes a 10 day meal plan, serving sizes, stocking your kitchen, shopping on a budget, healthy alternatives to things like ketchup & tools for the kitchen.

Chapter Seven are the recipes. I have to say, these recipes sound really delicious. I’m going to try some as soon as I can write them down.

She ends the book with some final thoughts about transitioning slowly, focusing on health & how you feel as opposed to your numerical weight. I think that all makes a lot of sense. At the end of the book she includes the food & wellness journal template so we can track our own progress.

I thought this book is well written. Joy McCarthy repeats some of the same things in each chapter. I’m not sure if that’s because she’s trying to emphasize their importance or what. I found the repetition a little redundant because of that. But otherwise, I did learn a lot from this book. It’s always good to know how your body works even if your body does it automatically without you having to about e.g. digestion.  As for the recipes, they sound really yummy. Though a lot of them seem to include bananas. I tend to avoid bananas since my acne gets worse when I eat them. So I’ll substitute bananas for something else. Looking forward to seeing what Joy McCarthy will be writing about in her next book.

Rating: 4/5

Here are some enlightening quotes:

“Your subconscious cannot distinguish between truth & fiction. It accepts your thoughts & words as reality…Your body will accept as the truth what you say & think on a daily basis.”

“The average person can gave anywhere from 7 to 25 pounds (3 to 11 kg) of impacted fecal matter in their gut.”

“Fifty percent of aspartame is the amino acid phenylalaine. Too much phenylalaine is a neurotoxin; it excites the neurons in the brain to the point of cellular death. In fact, ADD/ADHD & emotional & behavioural disorders can be triggered by too much phenylalaine in the diet.”

“Your brain is actually a very fatty organ –it’s composed of up to 60% fat…Fat helps your brain function because it aids in the transmission of nerve impulses.”

Have you ever read Joyous Health? What did you think?

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Product Review: Karira Home King Size Bamboo Bed Sheets

I got some king sized bamboo bed sheets made by Karira Home from the Green Living Show back in April & I forgot to write a review! My bad! So here is the review now. Don’t hate me. :)

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These bamboo sheets feel really nice against the skin. But for some reason the fitted sheet doesn’t stay put. I always have to pull down the fitted sheet on one side of the bed as they keep shifting about. I’m not sure if that’s because we got the wrong width size or what. Apparently Karira Home has different widths in their king size sheets. I had my dad measure the bed while I was at the Green Living Show so it should have fit. Anyway, the colour of these sheets is nice as well. I got mine in the Sage colour.  It’s not quite as shiny as the picture above from Shop.ca would indicate. I’m not sure if I would repurchase these sheets again. If I could be sure I got the right width I might repurchase. I’m knocking the rating down one notch because of the fit problem. I have to compare this with the Organic Lifestyle Sheet Set I had bought earlier this year. While those sheets were more expensive, the fitted sheet doesn’t budge on the bed at all once I’ve put it on the mattress. Also the finish of those sheets are better than these ones.

Cost: $80.00 CAD
Available at: Shop.ca, Karira Home
Rating: 3/5


Product Review: @battysbath Conditioner & Dead Sea Mud Mask

Note: All images are from the Batty’s Bath website.


Conditioner in Happiness

Ingredients: Purified water, Apricot Kernel Oil, Amla Fruit Powder, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Behentrimonium methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Vegetable Glycerin, Shea Seed Oil, Pro-Vitamin B5.

I really liked what the conditioner did to my curly hair. It made my hair feel thicker, fuller & softer. It’s a very thick conditioner. So you could even dilute it if you’re on a budget & want it to last longer. It dilutes nicely with plain water. It would’ve scored full points if not for the scent. I didn’t think I would smell the spearmint so much due to the other citrus oils. But unfortunately spearmint is the top note. Spearmint is associated in my mind with toothpaste. So yeah, I kinda felt like my hair smelled like toothpaste when I used this conditioner. I think next time I repurchase this I’ll try the other scents. It comes in: unscented, coconut cream & buttercream icing. Those smells sound much yummier. I’m knocking it down a point in ratings due to the off-putting scent. But if you like spearmint, hey go ahead. Smile

Cost: $17.00, 236 g / 8 oz
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 3/5

batty-dead sea mud mask

Dead Sea Mud Mask

Ingredients: pure dead sea mud

If you take a whiff of this mask it has a very earthy, mineral kind of smell. That makes sense if you know that there are over 35 kinds of minerals found in the dead sea mud which are believed to cure or alleviate a range of skin problems. This is a very concentrated mask. For application I like to mist my face with some filtered water & then apply the mud. It’s not easily spread on dry skin otherwise. I leave it on for an hour or more if I have time. As for the effect it has on my skin, it’s highly detoxifying. Any blemishes I have are reduced in size & redness. Afterwards I like to use a chemical exfoliant to ensure any toxins brought to my skin’s surface are released. This mask is really effective. The jar is small enough to travel with easily & not likely to leak due to its concentrated nature. A little of this mask goes a long way, & the price tag is very affordable.

Cost: $9.00 CAD, 1oz / 30g
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 5/5

Note: Batty’s Bath does the St. Horton’s Farmer’s Market in St.Thomas, Ontario. But you can also have your order shipped within Canada & to the USA.


Product Review: @battysbath Add-On’s for Acne Prone Kit

Note: All images are from the Batty’s Bath website.

Batty-skin support serum

Skin Support Serum

Ingredients: Wild Yam Root Extract, Red Clover Blossom Extract, Chate Tree Berry Extract, Burdock Root Extract, Sarsaparilla Root Extract & natural preservative: Radish Root Ferment Filtrate

This serum smells strongly of all the extract ingredients. I found the smell quite harsh & astringent. When I sprayed it on my face & inhaled a bit it would get me coughing. I think this serum would be best in a rollerball application so that it’s not accidentally inhaled. In colour it’s a medium brown, and loose liquid formation. It’s quite tingly & refreshing when I put it on my skin. But if you put a bit too much you might dry out your skin if you’re sensitive. It did help to balance & reduce my breakouts. But I’ve since found a DIY recipe that works better for me & replaces this step. Note that some of these extracts should not be used if you are pregnant.

Cost: $25.00 CAD, 1oz / 30g
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 3/5

batty-bop mist

Acne BOP Mist

Ingredients: Organic Hydrosols of: Yarrow, Rosemary, Cedarwood, Lemon Balm. Organic: Aloe, Patchouli Oil, Lavender Oil, Neroli Oil, Ylang Ylang Oil & natural preservative: Radish Root Ferment Filtrate

This light beige mist is so nice! The hydrosols are much gentler on my skin. I can smell the neroli immediately when first sprayed, then the lavender with patchouli, & the other hydrosols afterwards. I know I’m talking like this mist is a perfume with its top notes, middle notes & base notes. LOL. Anyway, this mist is supposed to “balance oil production, clear out congested enlarged pores, & help purify blackheads.” It works for my skin better than the BOP Serum. I would also use this about once a week instead of daily.

Cost: $20.00 CAD, 2oz / 60g
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 4/5

batty-bop serum

Acne BOP Serum

Ingredients: Organic Oils of: Hazelnut Grape Seed, Cedarwood, Palmarosa, Lavender, Tea Tree, Clovebud. Organic: aloe & White willow Bark extract. Natural: Wild Yam Root extract & Radish Rood Ferment Filtrate.

You can really smell the organic oils in this serum. I mostly smell the lavender & tea tree with hints of the other oils.  I could still smell them on my skin after putting it on my face. It takes some time to absorb. This serum is pretty oily & must be shaken to ensure all the oils are combined before applying. For my skin it was better to use this serum once a week compared to Batty’s recommendation of daily use. It’s good as a combined acne & hydrating product. But it’s pretty similar to the BOP Mist so I think if I repurchased I would get the BOP Mist instead of this one.

Cost: $17.00 CAD, 1oz / 30g
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 3/5

batty-quick stick

Quick Stick Acne Fix

Ingredients: Witch Hazel, Patchouli Essential Oil, Tea Tree Essential Oil, Bergamot Essential Oil

This quick stick really works. It’s like the Canadian equivalent of Osmia Organics Spot Treatment. Except it’s more affordable & made in Canada. It’s an effective spot treatment for blemishes. Obviously it smells of the essential oils which make up its ingredients. But I smelled mostly patchouli & tea tree. Despite the witch hazel in this, it wasn’t drying for my skin at all. It does take some time to absorb into the skin though. But as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I now have a DIY recipe for a blemish treatment that works really well for me. So I won’t be repurchasing this.

Cost: $17.00, 10ml / 0.34 oz
Available at: Batty’s Bath
Rating: 4/5


Batty’s Bath Acne Prone Kit & the Add-On’s were hit & miss for me. I found that using all the products as recommended by Batty was too harsh on my skin. She was recommending the acne prone kit & add-on’s be used daily. Instead of simplifying my skin care routine it made things more complex. Not everyone wants to use so many products in one day.

You might be wondering what the effect was on my skin overall. Well, my skin got really clear at first then got steadily worse the longer I used the kit as directed. I was pretty miserable because my face literally exploded with breakouts, even on my neck.  That’s never happened to me before. I kept using the kit as directed because I wanted to test it out thoroughly for the recommended amount of time.  I used it for almost two months. Eventually, I had to completely stop using the acne prone kit.  Of the add-on’s I only continued using the Quick Stick until I ran out. My skin was so freaked out at this point that I needed to use something extremely gentle to heal it. So I purchased the cleanser & tonic from the Holistic Vanity Rosacea Care line (see full review here).

I’ve come to realize a number of things.  Firstly, my skin is more sensitive than I originally thought. Secondly, the more pure my products get, the more reactive my skin gets.  Especially if I use anything not so pure, anything harsh or anything that has too many ingredients. Thirdly, more isn’t always better for me! Piling on the products doesn’t end up with more beautiful skin as we’re often led to believe by the media. It’s been good to discover this though, so that I can strip away what’s not necessary. That’s such a liberating experience I can’t put it into words!

Overall rating: 3/5

Note: Batty’s Bath does the St. Horton’s Farmer’s Market in St.Thomas, Ontario. But you can also have your order shipped within Canada & to the USA.


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