Stuff We Love: Fran’s Summer Cosmetic Essentials


I’m on vacation at the beach! So it’s appropriate that I tell you about some of my favorite natural summer sun-friendly products….

I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve been researching and hunting for effective, chemical-free sunscreens for kids.  Well I’ve also been on the lookout for great products for adults.  So I thought I’d share a few of my summer cosmetic/suncare picks, which I’ve personally tested on me or my family and am pleased with.  Since I am the most sensitive-skinned individual I know and a stickler about all-natural products, I will only ever recommend products that are natural, chemical-free, fragrance-free (or scented with essential plant oils), and suitable for sensitive skin. This year I’ve also relied heavily on the Environmental Working Group’s Skindeep Cosmetics database, which rates products on a scale of 0-10 (0 being best, as in zero concerns) based on ingredient safety and product effectiveness.  Not sure why I think this matters? Check it out.

Ok, all that said, here they are:

SanRe Organic Skinfood Sparkling Aloe Day Cream SPF 30

I was looking for a light everyday moisturizer with at least a 30 SPF to wear under makeup, and after reading lots of reviews, this is the one I settled on.  So far I’m quite pleased with it, except for the price, which is a bit steep for such a small jar of product.  It gets very good ratings from the EWG, and good reviews from users.   It seems to do well for my combination skin and the dry Texas climate.  I don’t think I’d recommend it to someone with oily skin in a humid climate – it might be a little heavy in that case.  It’s completely safe, completely natural, and the US-based manufacturer seems to have good ethics.  This is not a waterproof product, so you’ll need a different sunscreen for water and sports….such as…

California Baby Super Sensitive Sunscreen SPF 30

I’ve used this for a couple of summers now.  It’s a physical barrier sunscreen (titanium dioxide in this case), so yes, it’s a bit white when you first put it on.  I’ve found that is pretty standard for non-chemical sunscreens, and worth it for a superior sunblock with no potential allergens or unsafe ingredients.  This is a good standby sunscreen for babies and adults, very water- and sweat- resistant, although you do have to reapply periodically.  EWG doesn’t have a rating on this particular product, but California Baby’s other sunscreens are rated with a 1 (mainly for potential allergenic ingredients like lanolin), and I think the Super Sensitive is even better. Our whole family uses this.

Giovanni 2 Chic Leave-in Conditioner and Styling Elixer

I’ve been using this elegant leave-in product every morning to keep my curls hydrated and relatively frizz-free in the dry Texas climate.  It contains argan oil and keratin, and I’m very happy with the feel of it – it’s light and not oily, and doesn’t have a strong smell (I hate smelly products).  I put it on my dry-to-damp hair, concentrating on the ends.

Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen Spf 30+

I actually like this sunscreen better than the CA Baby, but it’s slightly more pricy (only slightly).  It’s super smooth in application, doesn’t go on white, and has good water resistance.   Another major plus for me is that it’s got the #1 rank among sunscreens from Skindeep.  You’ll be able to recognize and pronounce every ingredient on the label. I’m pretty excited about this whole line of products, including…

Loving Naturals Clear Lips Sunscreen Lip Balm

I am allergic to chemical sunscreens, particularly on my lips.  If I accidentally use a lip balm or lipstick with chemical sunscreen in it, I wake up the next day with lips twice their normal size, blistered and cracked.  No fun.  So for years, I have stayed away from lip balms containing sunscreen.  Until I found Love Naturals, which contains natural zinc oxide, and doesn’t have any ill effects on my pucker.  It does apply a bit stickily, but it stays on forever and protects against chapping as well as sunburn.  I’m sold on this little tube, and have it tucked away in my beach bag.


I’m still looking for a relatively harmless waterproof mascara.  This one gets a ’2′ from Skindeep, which is prolly as good as it gets for waterproof, but I haven’t tried it yet…

Do you have summer products you rely on?




Swimsuits for Toddler girls…so cute!


Y’all, I cannot get over how cute little girls’ swimwear is this season.  Cute and affordable!  We will be swimming a lot this summer (actually we’ve already started), so I’ve started stocking up on sunscreen, floaties, and swimwear.   Just look at this adorable suit I picked up for B at Target.

But this striped/dotted number was nearly irresistible…

The selections from Old Navy are pretty cute too…

(a baby bikini!  I die!…)


I’ve also been hunting for the best kids sunscreens with the cleanest ingredients.  Unfortunately I was duped by Neutrogena’s Pure & Free Baby Sunblock lotion spf 60, which gets an overall low rating from GoodGuide due to an ingredient known to cause immunotoxicity.  Don’t make the same mistake as me; do your research first.

I did better with my California Baby sunblock stick, California Baby Sunblock Lotion, and All Terrain KidSport Spray spf 30, both of which get a green light from the Environmental Working Group.

(swimsuit: Target / water shoes: Stride Rite /  hat: Zutano)


April 3, 2012 4:50 PM | Comments | Categories: Baby Fashion, Cosmetics | Tags: ,

Stuff We Love: Red Lips


I have never (well ok there is an exception or two in there) worn red lipstick.  I mean really red, not wine or fuschia or terra cotta or berry.  But this season I’ve been inspired by the many vintage-wearing ladies out in the blogosphere as well as those thoroughly-modern gals who are wearing red in a fresh, vivacious way.  And I am LOVING it.  Usually I tend toward richer lip colors for autumn and winter, and nude-ish or coppery, shimmery ones for summer.  But not for 2011!  This is the summer of red lips!

Just look at Anne Hathaway sporting red lips at the 2011 Oscars.

And this look on Jessica Hart is perfectly daytime-wearable.  Not fussy or over-done, just fresh and carefree.

And, have you seen J.Crew’s newest looks?  Red lips look oh-so-casual, oh-so-summery, and oh-so-effortless. Notice how they keep the rest of the face very natural, very simple; some mascara, a hint of eyeliner, a touch of blush.

I think it’s a fabulous look.  So, feeling inspired, I broke down and purchased a bright red, very saturated lip gloss, Zuzu Luxe lipgloss in Caliente…

…and I am rocking the red. I love it.

(disclaimer: this photo was taken by yours truly with photobooth, and was clumsily edited by yours truly to erase evidence of early mommyhood in the form of dark under-eye circles)

The Zuzu gloss is vegan and free of icky ingredients.  I picked it up at my local natural foods co-op.   Do you dare?  Don’t think about it, just put it on and walk out the door.  You’ll be FRILLING.


May 16, 2011 10:05 AM | Comments | Categories: Cosmetics, Fashion | Tags: , , ,

Stuff We Love: Cosmetics: Aurelia’s Picks


Every girl has those few items that she simply CAN’T live without. Okay, maybe she can, but she sure doesn’t want to. So, with the “she” being me, here are my must-have cosmetic picks:

Now Nature’s Deodorant Stick. After years of being allergic to pretty much all types of deodorants (I would get rashes and CONSTANTLY itch under my arms), Fran introduced me to this natural salt-rock deodorant stick. This might not cut it for everyone, but it totally works for me. And even though I have to wet it, apply it, and then let it dry, I never have deodorant stains on my clothing. LOVE. Don’t wanna live without it. 

Framesi By Glacier Wax. I friggin’ love this stuff. Apply just a tiny bit of it to your hair after blow drying/straightening and then say: goodbye frizz, goodbye static. This product makes my hair EVEN more sleek and shiny than it already is, and it defines my layers. I’m in love; love I tell you.

Yes to Carrots Body Butter. They sell a 1 oz version of this baby in Target’s dollar section. YES! Yes to Carrots! It smells SO good, and the 1 oz version is the perfect travel companion. Not only is it the perfect size, but it’s so versatile. When I’m traveling and don’t have a lot of room for packing, I use this product for moisturizer on my face as well as for hand and body lotion. Run to target now! Or just be jealous, whatevs.

MAC Paint Pot. This is, like, my most treasured make-up item of them all. It’s like foundation for your eyelids. Apply the paint pot before you put on your eye make-up and it will stay. All day. It will stay, people! It’s seriously amazing. Also, it adds a lil’ something to your complexion even if you don’t feel like wearing eye make-up. I have lots of no-make-up-days, but the paint pot always makes the cut. The paint pot is sold in many different shades depending on the look you want. Fave!

What are your cosmetic picks? Tell me, tell me!

- Aurelia

April 14, 2011 10:00 AM | Comments | Categories: Cosmetics, Fashion | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Stuff We Love: Cosmetics: Fran’s Six Picks


Happy Monday! 
Today I’m posting the beginning in a series Aurelia and I are calling “Stuff We Love”, where we share with you some of our favorite things

In general, my picks for cosmetics are going to be on the all-natural, artificial fragrance-free, non-toxic side.  You can read my article on why I avoid synthetic fragrances here

PeaceKeeper Cause-metics Chocolate Dream Lipbalm. This stuff is like the grown-up version of LipSmackers, and it is indeed a dream to smooth on — it tastes like cocoa!  Because it contains real cocoa!  Nice, clean ingredients, a moisturizing formula, and a portion of the profits from the sale go to a good cause. I love this stuff.

When I found out on GoodGuide that my favorite Maybelline Great Lash Mascara doesn’t score well on the ingredients list, I had to find a new favorite: Physician’s Formula OrganicWear.  Goes on smooth, separates nicely, good volume, doesn’t flake.  I’m perfectly happy, and non-toxic to boot.

Love this Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.  This stuff makes my skin feel so good, and keeps my mineral makeup in place all day, smoothing out blemishes and fine lines.  Free of nasties like parabens, pthalates, and mineral oil, and has non-toxic mineral-based sunscreen.  Light and lovely to wear.

I am, and have always been, a lover of bar soap.  I mean, I really love bar soap.  I can get sidetracked for way too long shopping for natural soaps in Whole Foods.  My husband shares my fetish, so we always have nice, all-natural, preferably handmade soaps in our bathrooms. One of our favorite souvenirs to buy wherever we go is locally handmade soap. But my favorite of favorites is Nag Champa Incense soap, fragranced with the special Nag Champa essential oil blend.  The fragrance is just the way I like it: spicy, yet herbal and floral; and the soap is soft and creamy.  Mmm, I think I need to go sniff it now…

Non-toxic nail polish from Diamond Cosmetics.  They have TONS of colors, and the polish doesn’t contain toxic ingredients like toluene, formaldehyde, dibutyl, camphor, and pthalate.  You can order them online for $2 a bottle.  Apparently Diamond Cosmetics is a private-label manufacturer of brands like Soleil and No-Miss, which you can find in natural foods stores.  I had mostly given up nail polish until I discovered that the non-toxic stuff wears just as well as any OPI I’ve ever used.

And to round out my picks, one for the curly girls:

Shea Butter Curl Activating Cream from Beautiful Curls.  I am elated to have discovered this stuff. I have a long history of using products meant for African hair, ever since I was 13 and started using Bone Straight, which is no longer manufactured.  It is lovely and creamy, handmade, all natural, smells wonderfully shea-buttery, and smooths into my hair elegantly.  The Alaffia company is a fair trade organization in Togo, West Africa, whose mission is “to help West African communities become sustainable through the fair trade of indigenous resources”.  This stuff is, in a word, awesome.  My curls are soft, frizz-free, and moisturized; the shea butter gives them just the right amount of weight and moisture to keep them under control without being too oily.  This is my new favorite hair product, and I plan to try their shampoos, conditioners, and other styling aids as I run out of what I currently have. They have a range of products for different types of curl, from wavy to curly to kinky (I use the curly-to-kinky formulation).  If you are a curly/kinky-haired girl (or guy, or kid), you should check this company out. 

And there you have them, all my current favorite cosmetics.  What are your faves?

March 28, 2011 11:20 AM | Comments | Categories: Cosmetics, Fashion | Tags: , , , , , ,

fran & aurelia

Fran likes knitting, cooking, reading design blogs, curating her home, and wearing chunky jewelry.

Aurelia likes baking, fashion, hosting lovely dinner parties, and laughing at clever and witty things.