A Night for Green Beauty: Recap and Review (Part 2)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe how overwhelming it has been to try to unpack and settle in after our move. It boggles my mind how the time has flown since I posted Part One of my A Night for Green Beauty Recap and Review. I wanted to wait until I was a bit more settled and could give the second part of the recap the attention that it deserved. If you missed out, A Night for Green Beauty is an exceptional event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, as well as new up-and-coming brands.

A Night for Green Beauty

As mentioned in Part One, this year’s event featured thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. I was thoroughly impressed by the brands represented and the products on display at the show. It was exciting to see new products being unveiled at the show, and a true delight to speak directly with the product creators. It was inspiring to see the drive and passion of the innovators in green beauty. Please see Part One for more complete details of the event and a review of several ANFGB brands.

I wanted to talk about another handful of the outstanding companies at the event. As mentioned earlier, I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products, but was not able to chat with each and every one. Likewise, although I tried to take as many photos as possible, I wasn’t able to represent all of the green beauty brands at the show. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness.

There were many draws for me with respect to ANFGB and a strong one was the ability to see and feel products that are not readily available to me at brick-and-mortar retailers. One product that I was especially interested to try in person was the coconut oil from Cocovit. As I have mentioned before, there was a time when the green beauty market was underdeveloped or unknown to me, yet I was so against putting potential toxins onto my skin in the name of beauty that I had distilled my beauty routine down to aloe gel, shea butter, and coconut oil. It did not work well for me, so I was very intrigued by Cocovit’s coconut oil which claimed to be a unlike the coconut oil that I knew. I was dubious about the idea that coconut oil in a pretty jar could really be significantly different than what I used in my smoothies or for skincare in the past. I had read Sarita Coren’s post singing the praises of Cocovit’s coconut oil, but I wanted to see it for myself.

Cocovit at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I made sure to stop by the Cocovit table and was pleased to learn that the growing company is local to Chicago (and therefore local to me). In addition to their foundational product, coconut oil, Cocovit had also introduced two new products just prior to, and at the show. On display was their new Coconut Charcoal face mask made from a blend of coconut charcoal, bentonite clay, and herbs to detoxify the skin. They also were showing their new Orange and Basil Lip Balm which smelled divine. I however made a beeline directly for the coconut oil itself, and I must say that it was completely different from any coconut oil that I have experienced before. It had a luxurious, velvety texture and was far less greasy than traditional “market” coconut oil. I could very much see it working well in beauty and skincare applications. I was both surprised and impressed by the quality of the product, which I had assumed would not be as distinct from my familiar and disappointing coconut oil of the past. Although I did not come home from the show with any of Cocovit’s product, I look forward to having an chance to try their line in the future.

Josh Rosebrook at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

One line that I had an opportunity to try prior to the show was Josh Rosebrook. I had received his Cacao Antioxidant Mask as part of a limited edition Goodebox to benefit the breast cancer fund (now sold out). I loved the powerful herbal and other plant ingredients in the mask. Whenever I used it, not only did I feel like I was covering my face in a rich chocolate sauce (nothing bad about that), but it left my skin feeling baby-soft and looking refreshed. I was fortunate to be able to speak with Josh at length. He was delightfully warm and kind, and so clearly fascinated by the power of plants and their ability to enhance healing. I was struck by the use of herbs that I haven’t often seen in skincare such as the chickweed and skullcap in his delicious-smelling Deep Hydrating Serum, a scent owed in no small part to the marshmallow root and organic vanilla also listed among its ingredients. Josh also spoke about recent experiences using neem to support healing and his desire to incorporate it even more in future products. I would have enjoyed staying around to talk with Josh longer, but he had other people to chat with and I had other green beauty brands to explore.

R.L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Not surprisingly, I continued to find myself drawn to brands that were grounded in herbalism. I quickly noticed chickweed among the many beautiful ingredients in products at Laurel Whole Plant Organics (as I had now developed a chickweed fascination). Laurel Whole Plant Organic’s extensive flower and herb-based line boasts biodynamic, organic, and raw ingredients. Laurel has clearly put tremendous knowledge, thought, and integrity to work in creating her namesake line and products, and it was a pleasure to meet her and hear her talk about her creations. I also adored talking to herbalist Lynn Till, who along with friend and certified Master Nutrition Therapist, Robin King created the company R.L. Linden. R.L. Linden has an array of products in their line ranging from teas and perfumes, to skincare and body care items. In full disclosure I got so completely caught up in my fantastic conversation with Lynn that I neglected to explore the products in person at the show. At the end of the night I was absolutely kicking myself as a result. In the process of researching all of the companies prior to ANFGB there were some products that I had starred and highlighted as must-sees. Several of the R. L. Linden Denver-Inspired Perfume Oils were front and center on that list. Fortunately for me, R. L. Linden sells sample packs of many of their products through their website as well as perfume samples, so trying out a host of their products can be done with ease by those who could not attend the show or those, who like me, found themselves so sept away by the event at times that we forgot our full agendas.

R. L. Linden at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Despite my affinity for those with herbalism leanings, there were a host of brands whose roots came through other experiences and areas of expertise. I had an opportunity to speak with Heidi Miller from May Lindstrom’s team who told me about May’s upbringing on a farm in rural Minnesota and her explorations into the plants and earth all around her throughout her childhood. Heidi indicated that May seems to have developed a sense of how plants and ingredients will work together; creating the jasmine garden botanical mist in a short burst of reflection and tinkering after a customer requested a jasmine-scented product. The resulting creation was so well-received that it was made a permanent fixture in the line, which also contains products designed to cleanse, detoxify, and hydrate face, body, and hair using a combination of organic, raw, and wildcrafted ingredients.

Bottega Organica A Night for Green Beauty 2015

Bottega Organica came to skincare through a rather circuitous route. One of their founders is molecular geneticist Andrea Alimonti, whose research into cancer cures led him to an appreciation for the impact of specific plant extracts on cellular health. This marriage of health science and botany led to the development of a line focused on anti-aging products aimed at preserving and rejuvenating cellular health using 100% natural ingredients. The researcher and the cancer survivor in me appreciated the brand’s focus on the scientific basis of their key ingredients and the clinical testing used to evaluate product efficacy; as well as their commitment to using ingredients that support health, avoidance of harmful ingredients, and donation of a minimum of 10% of all profits to organizations involved in cancer cure and prevention. Bottega Organica graciously provided me with samples of a couple of their products (reviews to follow), and I cannot say enough positive things about the stunning list of plant-based ingredients or the intoxicating scent derived from prawn sage, one of their signature ingredients.

La Bella Figura at A Night for Green Beauty 2015

I simply could not end A Night for Green Beauty without visiting the La Bella Figura table as they are the amazing brand that created and founded the entire ANFGB event. Another Chicago-based company, La Bella Figura showcases skincare, perfumes, and cosmetics that embody luxury and beauty. I have made no secret about my passion for prickly pear, and La Bella Figura bases many of the products in their line off of barbary fig (prickly pear) seed oil. In fact, one of the special features of ANFGB was the offering of some products that would be completely exclusive to the show. Among these was a limited run of La Bella Figura’s Organic Barbary Fig Seed Oil enhanced with prickly pear flower essential oil. I had to stop and catch my breath after hearing about the the serendipitous discovery of an apothecary in Italy which had a few precious bottles of prickly pear flower essential oil that was made there only once each year. These bottles were brought back to Chicago and used to create La Bella Figura’s ANFGB exclusives. I had to purchase a bottle of this treasure for myself out of respect for the care and craft of every person along the way who contributed to its creation. I have been using it with love and gratitude since the show and will review it, and some of La Bella Figura’s other beautiful products, in a separate post.

I ended the evening with a smile on my face and a bag filled with purchases, samples, and business cards that I have will look forward to reviewing and sharing. I cannot overstate how extremely pleased I was with the whole event and the opportunity to connect with, and learn more about, these exceptional green beauty brands. I am a bit anxious to hear about the future plans as the green beauty market evolves and explores different platforms for interacting with the community. This was the final year for the A Night for Green Beauty Event, but my fingers are crossed that we have not seen the last of magical green beauty events to remember.

Have you recently discovered any favorite new products from this year’s ANFGB brands? I would love to hear your product thoughts and recommendations.

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A Night for Green Beauty 2015: Recap and Review (Part 1)

A Night for Green Beauty 2015

If you have stopped by CrunchyParent.com or my CrunchyParent Twitter in recent weeks, you have probably heard me talking about A Night for Green Beauty. Ever since I first learned of the event that brings together top green beauty brands and fans from around the globe, I have been counting down the days until I could attend. I could not have been more thrilled that ANFGB picked a venue in local-to-me Chicago to host their third, and final year of A Night for Green Beauty.

A Night for Green Beauty

This year’s event boasted thirty-four amazing brands striving to raise the bar on glamour, quality, and luxury within the green beauty industry. In preparation for the event, I broke out my Ph.D. research skills and thoroughly vetted all of the brands who would be in attendance. I was universally impressed with each and every brand, and I have never been accused of being easily impressed. There was no greenwashing to be found; every brand had a story as well as a passion for wellness alongside the enhancement of beauty and the preservation of cellular health. Countless brands were rooted in herbalism, several were founded by physicians, and most of the companies had come into being in the last several years in response to a need for healthy skincare, cosmetic, or fragrance items in their own lives that was not being satisfied by what they were finding in the market. Looking more deeply into the individual product lines, the list of plant and mineral ingredients were amazing. I was incredibly eager to take advantage of opportunities to speak with the brand founders and representatives in an effort to learn more about the function of the various ingredients and to see, smell, and touch these gorgeous creations.

The ANFGB event ran from 6-10 pm. on a Thursday night. It was free and open to the public. I arrived at the Venue One, where ANFGB was being held, just moments before the doors opened. The ANFGB Twitter suggested that show attendees received goody bags from Integrity Botanicals. If that was the case, I missed out so I cannot confirm the bag or its contents, but I am sure that whatever they housed was amazing. The room for the event was spacious, yet still packed with other natural beauty enthusiasts. The area had two levels of vendor displays winding their way across the floor and along the walls, in addition to a separate boutique section where products exclusive to the event were being sold. The vendor display tables varied in their aesthetic, but all were beautiful. I personally found myself drawn to the tables that showcased captivating crystals or raw ingredients such as fruits, herbs, and butters. Something about seeing natural, raw ingredients pulls at my inner being and my curiosity about what goes into the products and makes them effective and special.

I did my best to spend time at every table and attempt to engage the brand creators or representatives in conversation about their products. Of course, I was not the only person vying for their attention and was thus unable to speak with every one. Likewise, although I tried to document the event in photos as much as possible, in some cases I simply could not get close enough to a crowded table to get a shot. On the other hand, there were occasions when I got so caught up in a discussion with a brand creator that I forgot to take a photo entirely. Please consider the following pictures and description to be a window into the event, but not a complete illustration of the utter fabulousness. I will try to hold back on a minute-by-minute description of how I spent the entire four hours there, although it will pain me to leave anything out. Rich reminds me on occasion that not everyone is as captivated by the minutia of green beauty as I am, but I am not entirely convinced that he is correct. Nevertheless, in the interest of writing a blog and not a book at this juncture, I will edit myself (sob), and also review the event in a two-part miniseries.

Among the many exciting opportunities at ANFGB, was the chance to see the upcoming product launches for the various lines. The first table that I visited at the event was Province Apothecary.

Province Apothecary

Province Apothecary

I was intrigued by many of the beautiful skincare, fragrance, and wellness items in their line, but my attention was quickly grabbed by their Full Brow Serum. I have been on the lookout as of late for natural eyebrow enhancement products. Eyebrows have been having a moment in recent years, yet I have been struggling to find eyebrow enhancement products that are not mineral-oil based or otherwise less than green. Julie, of Province Apothecary, told me that the brow serum is their newest, yet-to-be-released product. She added that the rosemary and coffee in the serum stimulate blood flow and enhance eyebrow growth and fullness over time. Other serum ingredients of note included burdock root, cedarwood, bay, and horsetail (a hot ingredient seen throughout the show,) along with additional natural ingredients in a blend of oils such as castor seed, argan, pomegranate, and broccoli. Providence Apothecary handed out samples of various products to show guests, and happily that included me. Look forward to reviews to come.

As I moved throughout the room, I made my way to Mun. Their streamlined skincare line features a single serum and toner, both of which are inspired by prickly pear, a plant that has fully captured my heart and held my attention since my recent travels out to the Sonoran Desert. It is another powerful plant ingredient that appeared in multiple product lines at the show.

Mun new release

Mun’s new release

Mun was giving a sneak peek of their next products scheduled for release. The first was a kit stocked with a trio of travel-sizes of their products, specifically the No.1 Aknari Brightening Youth serum; the No.11 Anarose Rejuvenating Rose toner; and No.0 Argon Pure Argan Oil, a new product that is currently exclusive to the travel kit. The second item that Mun debuted at the show the No. 7 Ayour Body Toning Serum, a silky soft serum with an intoxicating cucumber scent (if you are as in love with cucumber as I am). There was not a list of ingredients on-hand at the event, but Mun reached out to me to confirm that the delicious aroma was due to the inclusion of 100% pure cucumber seed oil from Chile.

Meow Meow Tweet-woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

Meow Meow Tweet’s woodland display and eye-catching artwork.

I had wonderful conversations with the women behind the brands Meow Meow Tweet, Mahalo Skin Care, and Stark. I expect that if we lived closer, we could all spend a lot of time together chatting about plants and skincare. I think that we would have a lot of fun.

Mahalo Skin Care's signature bamboo packaging

Mahalo Skin Care’s signature bamboo packaging

All three brands craft their small-batch, ingredients-driven products by hand, and house them in distinctly different yet equally striking packaging. I received product samples, or already own products from all three lines, so I will save more extensive descriptions of each brand for individual product review posts in the interest of the aforementioned blog vs. book goal.

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

Stark Skincare-clean and simple packaging with an urban edge

As I rounded out the first floor of the show area, I lingered for a while at the Strange Invisible Perfumes table. I had been reading about their scents, which are crafted with the highest standards for botanical perfumes that I have seen to date.

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

Strange Invisible Perfumes-something very special

They use only certified organic, wildcrafted, biodynamic, and hydro-distilled plant essences, which they hand blend and age for at least six months in a base of custom-distilled esprit de Cognac. I was curious to learn about hydro-distillation, having only been familiar with steam distillation methods for essential oil extraction. I was treated to a photo illustration of the hydro distillation process, which reminded me a bit of dehydration methods for raw foodists; a gentle heating with a low temperature threshold that preserves even the most delicate plant chemistry and aromatic profile. I was captivated by the four scents in the line that I smelled at the show (the line encompasses twenty-six distinct fragrance blends in total). Each perfume was a complex synergy of fragrances that somehow still allowed the individual components to shine through. Although all blended with flowers as a key note, the cognac base kept the perfumes very adult in personality; none were cloyingly sweet. Likewise, despite containing many familiar scents such as rose, gardenia, and vanilla, the fragrances are enhanced with more esoteric botanicals and blended to create incredibly distinct personalities that left a lasting impression. I regret not being able to take time to more fully explore a scent for me to bring home, but with all that there was to see at the show, I got swept away and never made it back to the Strange Invisible table for a more in-depth look before the show ended.

This handful of brands gives a sense of some of the variety and quality available on display at this year’s A Night For Green Beauty event. It was evident throughout the show that green beauty has come a very long way in the past 5-10 years. It seems to me that the green beauty industry is on the precipice of something very special; a true leap into luxury beauty with powerful plant-based ingredients that deliver incredible results without harming the user or the world around us. The understanding of herbal tradition and the range and quality of plant ingredients included suggested not just a vision for skincare and cosmetics that would not harm, but products that truly nourish the body. It was exciting to experience. If you haven’t gotten enough of A Night for Green Beauty (and how could you have?) I have Part 2 of my ANFGB 2015 miniseries still to come (you can now read it here). It will feature more of the incredible brands and more of the remarkably talented and passionate people behind the brands.

What did you think of A Night for Green Beauty 2015 and the brands represented? Did they live up to, or even exceed your expectations?

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Goodebox ANFGB Deluxe Box #3 For Sale at 10am CDT Tomorrow (Thursday)

Goodebox ANFGB Box #3

I for one am counting the days until August 6th when the Third Annual “A Night for Green Beauty” (ANFGB) brings a slew of fantastic and amazing green beauty brands to Chicago to meet their adoring fans and fans-to be (which will include me!). For those who cannot wait, or who will not be lucky enough to be in attendance, Goodebox has come to the rescue.

Included on the Crunchy Parent List of Crunchy-Friendly Subscription Boxes, Goodebox is a monthly subscription service, which sends healthy beauty, personal care, and wellness items to their subscribers. In anticipation and celebration of ANFGB, Goodebox is offering a series of very limited edition deluxe boxes featuring ANFGB brands. Box #3 will be available for purchase beginning tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:00 am CDT. The box costs $145, which includes shipping and will feature seven full-sized items, plus one three piece travel-size set. Be sure to check out the full description of the box for specific details about all of the amazing green beauty items included. The retail value of the items included exceeds $300, and the box is sure to sell out very quickly. These limited edition boxes are one-time purchases and will not initiate a Goodebox subscription.

Are you as tempted as I am? Will you be making it out to A Night for Green Beauty?

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