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Hello, Gorgeous

When you think of beauty, what comes to mind?

And how does that compare to what you might’ve thought of, say, five or 10 years ago?

Maybe it’s because I’m a couple months away from celebrating my 40th birthday, maybe it’s because of the way society has evolved, or maybe it’s because of what’s on trend now, but boy, has my perception changed.

I’m far more interested in looking healthy than I am in looking perfect or polished, and when it comes to seeing beauty in others, well, I honestly see it everywhere. If you choose to look for it, you can’t miss it — and since beautiful things make me happy, I choose to look for it all the time.

However, because my feelings about beauty have changed over the years, so have the types of products I look for. It’s less about what’s going to give me, say, the perfect smokey eye these days; it’s much more about products that use quality ingredients, make life a little easier or more enjoyable, solve a problem, or help me feel a little more confident while still allowing me to be, you know, me.

If eco-friendliness is your top priority:

Ella+Mila: There’s a line in What a Girl Wants where Amanda Bynes’ character says, “Mom always said if you can walk on a beach and you have a steady hand with nail polish, there’s no reason to ever pay for a pedicure.” That’s especially true with Ella+Mila nail polishes, which are 7-free (meaning they’re made without three of the common chemicals found in nail polishes — Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde — and are also without four others — Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, TPHP and Xylene). But you don’t sacrifice a nice lacquer for it — they go on thick and even, and are available in loads of great shades.

Unwrapped Life: The concept for this solid shampoo and conditioner brand stemmed from co-founder Haley McKenzie’s eco-anxiety about all the disposable plastic used in daily life — and the difficulty she and her friend/co-founder, Arden Teasdale, had trying to find a solid shampoo and conditioner that worked well for their long hair. And so, Unwrapped Life was born, offering products for hair, body, kids, and more, all with a dedication to reducing single-use plastics. If you’ve never used solid shampoo and conditioner bars, it can take a little practice to make sure you’re using the right amount, but considering one bar typically replaces two to three 16-ounce bottles of traditional product, I’d say it’s worth it!

If you need products perfect for travel:

Subtl Beauty: Whether you’re trying to save space in your bathroom or want full-size products that are perfectly portable, you’re probably going to want to look into building a stack at Subtl Beauty. The bare minimum is used for packaging, so even though a stack with concealer, bronzer, lip/cheek tint, highlighter, and shine control powder will easily fit in the palm of your hand, that stack will last you for about two months of daily use! Customizing your stack with the products you want in the colors that are right for you is simple — and if you’re not sure what you need, they have a quiz to help you out.

My Alchemy Skin Care Travel Mini: How cute is this travel kit? My Alchemy Skincare pretty much thought of everything for it. There’s a face cleanser to remove grit and grime, rose hydrosol for spritzing anytime of the day to hydrate and revive skin (great after your flight or a workout), and a rich face serum that moisturizes with vitamins and antioxidants. In addition, the travel kit includes compressed travel towelettes to keep your face and hands clean and remove makeup (they’re also 100 percent cotton, biodegradable, and reusable), and a vitamin box for your supplements. All packaged together in a clear to-go bag you can easily throw in your carry-on, so you’ll likely be the envy of everyone going through airport security, too.

If pampering is the name of the game:

Kosmatology Mint Your Feet Balm: Maybe beauty isn’t the overarching goal with your feet, but as someone who’s logged a lot of miles lately — and developed the callouses and cracked skin to prove it — I’ve gotta say that treating my feet is more like required maintenance than actual pampering. And that’s why the Mint Your Feet Balm is perfect for me — the mix of organic shea butter, coconut oil and olive oil really does help to soften and repair the skin, and the organic peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils are cooling, soothing, and just smell darn awesome. Use it after a scrub or soak with Kosmatology’s Mineral Salt Foot Scrub if you’ve got the time, but if you can just slather some on before bed, you’ll be glad you spent the 30 seconds it took to do so.

Cariloha Bath Robe: One of my favorite things about going to a nice spa or staying at a luxury hotel is lounging around in a soft, white, fluffy robe. It just screams — well, whispers, actually — relaxation from the second I snuggle into it. And so, honestly, I can’t believe it took me this long to get a soft, white, fluffy robe of my own for my home! Cariloha Bamboo sent me their white bathrobe (which is unisex and comes in two sizes), and oh, my. It’s made of bamboo viscose, which is naturally moisture wicking and has odor- and allergy-resistant properties, so it feels clean and fresh between washes (so long as I don’t drip any of my face masks onto it).

If you’re trying to simplify your routine:

Chi Spin n Curl Ceramic Rotating Hair Curler: If you want flawless, beachy waves, but don’t quite have the technique down to make it happen with a flat iron or wand — or if you’ve burned yourself one too many times to have confidence wielding a hot tool that can blister your skin in seconds — you’re going to fall perfectly-coiffed head over heels for this fool-proof styling tool. Because when I say you can’t screw this up, you can trust me because I really tried (and you can see for yourself here). You simply place the tool by your head and hold a piece of hair so that it can be drawn into the chamber, then press a button; this curler does the rest, with zero risk of burning your fingers or scalp. Plus, because it utilizes ceramic heat technology that produces far-infrared heat, you get the conditioning benefits of negative ions (which means your hair looks shinier and healthier). I do still end up using a flat iron on a few of the ends most of the time to give my curls a little more of a modern look, but even with that added step, this nifty tool makes the process fast, simple, and un-screw-up-able.

Eco Lips Lip + Cheek Tint: Does your beauty bag runneth over with products? Cut down the clutter and simplify your makeup routine with a Lip + Cheek Tint from Eco Lips, which you can use as a light and natural lip color, blush, eyeshadow, and even a highlighter. Made from organic jojoba, coconut oil, organic and fair-trade cocoa butter, and sunflower seed wax, these lightweight and convenient tints are also vegan-friendly and cruelty-free.

If you’re closer to middle age than the legal drinking age:

The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Serum & Gel Duo, Jasmine Night Conditioner and Rose Diamond Eye Cream: This brand is popular with the celebrity crowd, and, I will be honest — it has the price point you’d expect from that label. However, it also brings the quality, using top-grade organic ingredients with cutting-edge science and technology, not to mention the fact that The Organic Pharmacy’s products are all fair trade, free from artificial preservatives, fragrances, colorants and petrochemicals, and cruelty free. They smell — and feel — absolutely incredible, and although I don’t think using these products has totally turned back time, I will say that I went to the store with zero make up on the other day and got carded buying wine … so something is working, right? It’s not in my real-life budget to replace all of these products once I’m out (cue the sobs), but, as someone who’s a bit self-conscious about her under eye area (I’ve had dark circles since I was a toddler, and I’ve earned my fair share of laugh lines there), I do think the eye cream is worth saving up for.

Active Beauty Marine Collagen + Electrolytes:  There’s been a lot of buzz about collagen for quite some time now — it’s great for promoting firmness and elasticity in skin and is also helpful for joint and bone health (which is certainly of interest to someone developed osteoarthritis well before reaching middle age). But because most collagen is bovine, and I (Kristen) don’t eat beef, I’ve steer clear — until now! Made with Marine Algae, Silica, and vitamin C, this supplement is also packed with the antioxidant astaxanthin, another ingredient that’s showing promise for relieving pain and inflammation due to arthritis. It’s really tasty, and it mixes really well with just water (although you could certainly add it to a smoothie or yogurt if that’s your jam). And, you can pick it up in either a canister or individual serving packs if you want it handy on the go.

So, tell us — what does beauty mean to you? Or, maybe the better question is, how does it feel? And, of course, what products are you loving right now? –Kristen & Jenn

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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