It’s never too late!
Guys, I think we're close enough at this point that I can tell you: I am a packaging snob. If a beauty product is poorly or stupidly packaged, I probably wouldn't glance twice at it. It's not necessarily just a looks thing — it also goes for functionality and tactile feel (actually font choice is a big deal to me as well). I can only assume that a brand that doesn't put much thought into how they present their products probably doesn't put that much thought into how they've formulated said product. That said, I've been fooled before! Some products have come in really meh packaging and turned out to be great! I don't want to throw shade at products I like that fit this bill but... they exist.
I semi-hate to say it but the products I most generally dismiss due to their choice of using Papyrus font tend to live in the realm of "natural beauty." Lots of face oils, dry powders you have to mix with other stuff, and sometimes things that just have a raw inelegant feel when you put it on. Also a lot of really emphatic botanical leafy-looking illustrations and burlap-y textures to imply just how so-from-nature a product is. I get it, you're unprocessed. Calm down. Where is the elegance? People use to know how to dress!
Anyway. Natural beauty products — I'm into them insofar as they fulfill two items of criteria: it's safe and it works. That's mostly it! Is the product safe to use? That's a green light. But does it actually do the thing it claims to do? Ah now that's the real test. I mean, this goes for any beauty product for me, mostly because I get a ton of stuff thrown at me so keeping an open mind makes my job easier.
I have an innate skepticism towards beauty products that lead heavily on the natural angle because as many of y'all know — "natural" doesn't really have a meaning in terms of anything other than marketing language. Same goes for organic. It's not necessarily better than products with synthetic ingredients but it definitely likes to position itself as better. The one thing I do appreciate from some natural beauty products, however, is a simplified ingredient list. It takes the headache out of guessing what scientific term actually just means Vitamin E (it's tocopherol) and the like. Another thing I appreciate is beautiful packaging (beauty snob — remember?). As an aspiring minimalist, this tickles my minimal bone (?) for beautiful products that are simple but effective.
Let's look at some, shall we?
From & Other Stories' new *Natural* beauty line
& Other Stories, a brand that already offers very nice-looking and nice-working beauty products gets all philosophical with said beauty brand. Well, not the whole thing, but a collection. And this collection happens to be even more beautiful than the usual. Glass bottles, gold detailing, and luxurious feeling and smelling products. The concept behind the collection grabs its inspiration from what I essentially see as French girl beauty which seems odd because it's Swedish and I feel like Swedish beauty is comparable and needs no other national qualifiers. Maybe it's like me trying to test out wide-leg pants in my wardrobe — it's fun to adopt another kind of chic even if it's just for now.
The products are all made in France, from conception to sourcing the ingredients (which are all biodegradable) to "capture the spirit of the French coast, the forest and the herbal garden."
The Caliper Body Oil smells like sweet ferns or what I image dewy pine needles and moss would smell like. It's earthy but with a crisp sweetness to it. Three cold-pressed oils (walnut, hazelnut, and virgin plum) make for a super hydrating oil for body and hair. I like that it's not too heavy so you can slick it on and not feel buttered up, and it's also a great hair-end texturizer, just sealing frazzled ends but not weighing anything down necessarily. The Floribunda Lip Balm is one of the fanciest lip balms I've tried. I mean, it's $29, so it's... it's up there. But it's the perfect marriage between oil and wax so it's a really soft balm that feels like it's actually moisturizing and not just sitting on top of my lips like a wax seal. Also, it's rose-scented with honey and saffron, which is a deliciously dreamy scent to be licking off my lips throughout the wear. I'm a hand cream junkie from about October to April, so the Castes Hand Cream is a godsend. It's got honey milk and propolis for ultimate plump-y moisture and makes my hands feel like I have silk pillow for hands.
I've been eyeing Grown Alchemist for a while — literally, their products are always popping up in my Instagram feed because obviously their packaging is very Instagram-aspirational. I considered them cult luxury beauty for the wealthy naturalist considering the most beautiful bare-faced women seem to use it the most. Also because it's fancy (read: pricey). Maybe you've mistaken it for Aesop on sight, but this Aussie brand holds its own. Its ingredients and directions are generally printed in a tl;dr paragraph on one side of its packaging, not over-embellishing but not underselling itself. The proof is in the pudding (or tube) with these guys.
The Deep Cleansing Masque is probably the most nourishing clay mask I've tried. I'm so use to clay masks sucking every molecule of moisture out of my face that I immediately slather on any hydrating serum and oil afterwards, but this one was super well-balanced. Its pore-sucking was on the mild side but that's fine — not everyone needs their pores eviscerated all the time. It's a white clay formula with wheatgerm, ginko and cranberry seed to gently suggest that your pores empty themselves of excess sebum and your skin cells buff up and shine. The Hydra-Repair Day Cream is surprisingly rich feeling without being greasy. You're supposed to massage it in, not just slick it on and go — that's the key the using it so it actually absorbs and nourishes. Camellia and rose hip oil moisturize and biosaccharides from cane sugar work to repair UV damage. You can actually use this day or night or, you know, whenever. The little black tube — the Watermelon & Vanilla Lip Balm — kind of masquerades as a lip gloss, which I don't hate. You get a lot of shine (depending on how much you glob on) but also watermelon extract so it subtly tastes like a jolly rancher, hehe. The formula is a blend of rich essential fatty acids (feat. sweet almond oil, rose hip oil, jojoba oils) so it's a bit oily-feeling but way, way hydrating (which is all we really want, right?).
Look at this! What is it? A chic monogrammed USB drive? No! It's a lip thingie!
I always knew that Kjaer Weis made beautiful beauty products but it was actually news to me to learn that they were of the all-natural agenda.
Their lip tint is housed in a weighty solid metal case that feels very luxurious to hold and the magnetic sliding lid offers another slick experiential feature — all of which comes at a price. This Lip Tint (in Lover's Choice) is $49. The actual lip color itself is well-pigmented and balmy-feeling, coming off like a sheer lipstick if you build it up. Something to know about this luxury natural brand — they offer refills. Kjaer Weis uses similar packaging for all their makeup — eyeshadow, foundation, highlighter, blush — and each has refills so you don't have to chuck the metal once you're done. Less waste! More luxury!
Let me start off by saying my initial introduction to Gloss Moderne was through those little sample pouches. I rarely use samples but since it handily came perforated-ly attached with shampoo, conditioner, and serum, I thought, why not? It was a revelation, people.
So I was stoked to get the full-size shampoo and conditioner duo. Why? They are so good. Natural or no, it's addictive, and I say this as a person with probably the most damaged hair you know. Imagine what these could do to someone with virgin/healthy hair! The power! The glory! The super shiny hair flips!
The formula is coconut-oil based and sulfate-free (and paraben-free if you care about that sort of thing) with super mild cleansers (paramount for someone like me with very dry hair) and very emollient conditioning. It has that fancy resort season coconut-y scent. This is probably the most expensive shampoo/conditioner duo I've messed with other than Shu Uemura, but it's definitely had the most wow-factor after a single use — which, let's be real, is priceless.
I appreciate the simplicity of this unadorned bottle of bath oil with a sprig of a Christmas tree in it. It actually does kind of smell like a Christmas tree but it has the non-denominational moniker, Oil Bath Winter. Its name may defy sentence structure, but this bath oil from Susanne Kaufmann is very up there in terms of ultimate luxury bath products. Essential oils of cinnamon, clove and orange make bath time into a sort of winter forest stew and you're a wood nymph just trying to Calgon take me away-yourself as you balance your iPad on the lid of your toilet to stream the White Christmas episode of Black Mirror. Truly, there is no more relaxing way to spend your time in a relatively small amount of warm water.
One may scoff at using such expensive luxury bath oil, but just try it and tell me you don't feel like a satin-skinned goddess capable of felling empires with your soft and rapturous beauty afterwards — you say that to my face, you liar!
- How snobby are you about beauty product packaging, on a scale of Oooh shiny to airless pump or die!?
- Is anyone else skeptical about "natural beauty" but also secretly want it to thrive because that means you might be freed from the shackles of expensive Rx treatments?
- Do you like luxury?