Brand Overview: IKOVE

http://www.ikove.ca

A while back I was given some samples from a brand I had never heard of before, IKOVE. They are an all-natural Canadian-based company focused on using organic and fair-trade ingredients from the Amazon rainforest. All their products are certified by ECOCERT, IBD/IFOAM, and USDA Organic, and are made in Brazil. Many, if not all, the products are vegan. Currently they sell only to Canada and the US, and in health food stores. If you are in the Houston area, Central Market carries them. If they do not sell in a brick-and-mortar establishment near you, you can also purchase their products through their online store. I would also like to say the sample sizes were very very generous, which I greatly enjoyed.

I was given three products to try: Acai and Chocolate Shampoo, Copaiba Bath and Shower Gel, and Acai and Chocolate Radiance Moisturizing Cream

Acai and Chocolate Shampoo

250 mL/8.45 fl oz

$19.95

http://www.ikove.ca/index.cfm?DSP=ProductDetail&ProductID=6452&SubCatID=0&CategoryID=1345&pagepath=Shop_online/Hair_Care&id=42451

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Acerola Fruit Extract, Mate Leaf Extract, AçaiFruit Extract, cocoa Extract, Rosemary Leaf Extract, Lavender extract, Viola Odorata Extract, Orange Oil, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, manderin oil.

This shampoo claims to “nourish, protect, and hydrate your hair” and “help reverse damage to color treated or sun damaged hair, without stripping hair nutrients”.

I was a little bit split in my opinion on this shampoo. On the one hand, I loved the effect. This is probably one of the most effective sulfate-free shampoos that I have ever used, and that tops my beloved Body Shop Rainforest Balance Shampoo (review here) and my Acure Clarifying Shampoo (review here). But while this was the case, it was so difficult to work with- it didn’t lather at all. This is even less than my Body Shop one. Ultimately this means more product being used, which considering the price point I’m not keen on. Once you get into the habit of using it is somewhat doable. On the bright side you get really strong hands and arms! It is a bit of a trade-off, really. If you are accustomed to working with sulfate-free shampoos and don’t mind the extra work, this shampoo leaves your hair so so clean. If not, I would go with something like the Body Shop one or the Acure one.

 

Copaiba Bath and Shower Gel

250 mL/8.45 fl oz

$19.95

http://www.ikove.ca/index.cfm?DSP=ProductDetail&ProductID=6434&SubCatID=0&CategoryID=1344&pagepath=Shop_online/Body_Clean&id=42450

Ingredients: cocoamidopropyl betaina, Aloe Barbadensis leaf juice, Decyl Glucoside, Aqua (Water), Copaifera Officinalis (Copaiba) extract, Symphytum Officinale (comfrey) Leaf Extract, Casearia Sylvestris (Guacadonga) Leaf Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, xantham gum, Cupressus Sempervirens Oil, Cymbopogon Martini (Palmarosa) Oil, Geranium Maculatum Oil, Potassium Sorbate

This product is described as a gel that you can use in the shower or pour a bit under your tap for a bath. It is created for blemished, sensitive, or irritated skin, or for after sport for a “deep calming and relaxing effect”.

I loved this product so so much. The smell was so interesting and refreshing, it’s really hard to describe; the only thing I can think of is that it smells a bit like Rivella (a Swiss soda)- kinda herby. It’s really really beautiful. It is also really really relaxing. I can’t say much on the other skin care claims, because I don’t actually have any of those problems. According to Wikipedia though, Copaiba is a stimulant (which I think causes the muscle relaxing properties), and has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties (which definitely should help with blemishes. Wikipedia also says it is “anti-tumor” too so hey, I guess that’s always a plus…

I only ever tried this in the shower because I never read the site until after I finished my sample, but I can imagine this being really really great in the bath. It is rather expensive, so if I was to buy it I would probably use it for baths if I needed some stress relief. Although, I guess Molton Brown body washes are more expensive, and might not have the same skincare benefits. I would probably be interested in purchasing it!

 

Chocolate Radiance Moisturizing Cream

50 mL/1.7 fl oz

$49.95

http://www.ikove.ca/index.cfm?DSP=ProductDetail&CategoryID=1346&SubCatID=0&ProductID=6463&pagepath=Shop_online/Facial_Care&id=42452

Ingredients: Aqua (Water), Aloe Vera Juice, Babaçu oil, brazil nut oil, lavender tintucture, chamomilla recutita tintcture, horsetail tintucture, açai tintucture, calendula tintucture ,cacao liquor extract, carnauba wax, rice extract, vegetable glycerin, Candeiaalfa-bisobolol, Xanthan gum, cocoa butter, manderin essential oil, sweet orange oil, Lavender essential oil, Murumuru kernel oil, cupuaçu butter

This product claims to “restore the skin’s natural radiance and balance, leaving the face soft and protected all day long”. The acai and chocolate also provide some pretty serious antioxidant powers. It is supposed to be used daily.

So this is the kind of product that I can imagine working really really well for some people. I would say this would be best for those with fairly dry skin. It is a rather thick cream, and pretty seriously moisturizing. While I was using it, I had some dry patches near my mouth and cheeks, and a sort of oily forehead. This cream did a really good job on the dry patches, but it was a bit heavy for my forehead and the skin there tended to get a bit shiny. To be fair though, for a cream that moisturizing, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I would have expected. On the parts of my face that weren’t greasy already though, the cream sat really nicely and made a smooth barrier on top of the skin. I think this would be really good under makeup. I don’t think I would be purchasing this; it’s not completely suitable for my skintone, and also I am pretty young so investing in more expensive face creams isn’t really practical. However, if you do have dry, dull skin and are willing to make the investment I think this is a really great product.

 

 

 

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Review: Lavera Basis 2-in-1 Cleaning Milk

4.1 oz/120 ml

lavera.com: $13.75

dm: ca. 7 euro

Found on lavera.com

This cleanser is described as a very “gentle”, “kind to skin” product that will cleanse the skin and remove makeup in one application. It is formulated especially for sensitive skin, and is therefore apparently ideal for the sensitive area around the eyes. It is formulated with organic jojoba and shea oils. This product is vegan.

It is a thick white cream which melts a bit into the skin when worked in with water. It is lightly scented.

Ingredients:

Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil*, Alcohol*,Caprylic\/Capric Triglyceride,Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl AlcoholSimmondsia Chinensis(Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Sodium Coco Sulfate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate, Xanthan Gum, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil*, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Rosa Damascena Flower Water*, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water*, Hydrogenated Palm Glycerides, Lysolecithin, Tocopherol, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lecithin, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Fragrance (Parfum)**, Limonene**, Linalool**, Geraniol**, Citral**, Citronellol**, Benzyl Benzoate**
* indicates Certified Organic Ingredients
** for natural essential oils

This cleanser has three main claims: to be very gentle (suitable for sensitive skin), to cleanse the skin, and remove makeup. Of these claims, it nails two but misses one.

I do not have sensitive skin myself, but I’m pretty sure this would be a great formula for those of us that do. It is only lightly performed, so there shouldn’t be much irritation from that. If you get it in your eyes it doesn’t really sting, but it does feel a bit weird and your vision will be blurry for a couple of seconds afterwards. In addition, the jojoba and shea oils in it nourish the skin and provide some moisturization. This is more geared towards people with dry skin, I’m not sure if this would be too much for people with oily skin. This would be especially perfect for the wintertime, if your face gets a bit more dry and chapped. Sometimes when your face gets dry and you wash it with a normal cleanser your face can feel a bit dry and tight, this eliminates this completely.

As for the cleansing, Lavera’s really done well in this product. My test for cleansers come from the next stage- toner. I know pretty well how much dirt comes off my face when I tone without having used a cleanser beforehand, and so I just compare how much dirt comes off my face when I tone after using a cleanser to see how effective it was. This cleanser performed very well, the amount of dirt on the cotton pad after toning was significantly less than normal.

Unfortunately, makeup removal was where this product fell a bit short. It did not remove the majority of my makeup, and I had to use a separate makeup remover afterwards. However, it did loosen the makeup up so it was much easier to remove.

Overall, I think I would recommend this product for cleansing the face if you have sensitive and/or dry skin. It will cleanse your skin well and help your makeup come off easier, just don’t expect it to get it all off.

Rating: B+

Review: Lush Figs and Leaves Soap

Lush US: $7.60/3.5 oz (100 g)

Lush UK: ₤3.40/100 g

Lush DE: €5.35/100 g

http://www.lushusa.com/Figs-and-Leaves/00065,en_US,pd.html?start=2&q=figs%20and%20leaves

https://www.lush.co.uk/product/148/Figs-and-Leaves-Soap-100g

http://www.lush-shop.de/figs-and-leaves-seife.792.html

Image found on Lush.co.uk

This soap is scented with figs and orange blossom with an “undertone of eastern exoticism”. Formulated with figs and aloe vera, this soap is very gentle and soothing to the skin, making it suitable for irritated or sensitive skin. Apparently it is so gentle that you can use it on your face! The fig seeds act as a gentle exfoliant.

Ingredients:

Water, Rapeseed Oil and Coconut Oil, Fig Decoction, Glycerine, Aloe Vera Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Perfume, Ylang Ylang Oil, Orange Flower Absolute, Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Titanium Dioxide, Sodium Chloride, EDTA, Tetrasodium Etidronate, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Linalool

I have been using this in the shower every day for the past few weeks, and I really love it! The smell is amazing, it is actually one of the few Lush soap scents that I like, and whoever thought of putting the seeds in as an exfoliant was a frickin’ genius. Maybe most people wouldn’t consider that cool, but I think that was really innovative and just generally awesome. You know when you have an itch, especially on your back, and someone scratches it for you and it feels amazing? Using the soap straight on your skin so the exfoliating seeds work feels like that. I know that is a pretty weird description, but that’s what it feels like. It’s amazing.

I have not used it on my face, but judging by the fact that it didn’t aggravate a quite nasty razor burn I had on my legs, I’d say it should work. The one and only gripe I have with it is the fig leaf on the top, which kinda comes off on you as you use it, but it really isn’t that big of a deal because you can easily wash it off.

Overall:

With the amazing smell, innovative exfoliating seeds, and the gentleness of this soap, I would highly recommend it!

Rating: A

The Nasties Glossary

Oftentimes, you see labels claiming that they are “free” of something. This something has a chemical-y sounding name, which means that I have no clue what it is or what it is supposed to do. You must have heard it as well, sometime: sulphate free, paraben free, formaldehyde free (or three free)… As I am completely clueless, I figured that there should be at least one other person out there who also has not the foggiest notion about what is going on. For you, comrade, I have compiled a list describing what the hell these things are, and why people are going crazy.

Parabens

Parabens are a group of chemicals that act as preservatives, to stop the growth of microbes (little tiny organisms, for example bacteria or fungi). They can be identified by looking at the ingredients list, they are all long words ending in “paraben”, for example methylparaben, butylparaben, and propylparaben.

The concern over parabens is mainly linked to cancer. Some studies have shown concentrations of parabens in the tumors of breast cancer patients. This is not a clear link at all, they did not investigate paraben levels in the tissue of non-cancer patients, or in other body tissue. According to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the concern comes from the fact that the chemicals are not altered at all by the body’s metabolic processes, and is free to penetrate the tissue and accumulate there. This may or may not be bad. In addition, the parabens have the tendency to mimic the activity of estrogen, a hormone that the body produces. Estrogen has established connections to breast cancer, around 80% of breast cancer tumors rely on estrogen to grow (Wikipedia). Parabens bind to the estrogen receptors on cells, perhaps leading to breast tumor cells growing and multiplying. According to the FDA, parabens don’t have nearly as much estrogenic activity as actual estrogen, so they may not be able to aid in the growth of the tumors.

Nothing has been proven, and the FDA has investigated the harmfulness of parabens more than once. However, I think it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes with cancer, so I think I will start to avoid parabens.

Sulfates

Here is the place where the beauty community is split right down the center… sulfates are the ingredients in shampoo or body wash that make them foam up. There are three that are most commonly used: sodium laureth sulfate, sodium lauryl sulfate, and ammonium laureth sulfate. What they do is break down the oils in your hair, stripping your hair. Some say that this is a horrible thing, some say that it is a necessary ingredient for clean hair. Who’s right? LIke in most circumstances, they both are to a certain extent. Based on what I have read, it really depends on the individual. From what I can tell, if you have curly hair sulfates are pretty bad. Curly hair is more porous than straight hair, making it more brittle and more likely to get dry. It also means it soaks up the shampoo better, and the sulfates really dry it out further. Some people actually say that you shouldn’t wash curly hair at all! I assume they mean really curly hair, like African-American hair. So if you have curly hair, sulfates are definitely a problem. Similarly, if you have skin that tends to be dry, or a sensitive scalp, sulphates may irritate that, maybe giving you eczema. For other hair types, sulfates may be necessary to give you really clean hair. But you can’t use it every single day, and you can’t use it without conditioner, if you do it will dry out your hair too much. With these products, there have also been claims that they thin out your hair. I have not seen any evidence to back up these claims, although there may some out there.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that is a cancer hazard and can cause irritation in the nose, eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. It is supposedly found in some cosmetics, most commonly nail products and keratin treatments (it’s one of the “three free” toxins). This is a well established fact that you can read about on the websites of many government institutions, including OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the California Department of Public Health. However, formaldehyde is not what is being used in cosmetics, as it is a gas. Instead, formalin is used, a solution of formaldehyde and water, normally with a stabilizing agent (mostly methanol is used). This is where the debate comes up. Many cosmetic manufacturers believe that the formaldehyde is soluble in water, although the Cosmetic Ingredients Review (CIR)* recently proved that this was not the case. When introduced to water, the formaldehyde produced a new chemical called methylene glycol, which is safe for use in concentration under 0.2%, but the safety of the chemical when used in aerosol cans is sketchy. However, the California Department of Public Health says that formalin is dangerous. It is unclear whether they have taken the methylene glycol into consideration.

*the CIR is an organization that reviews the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics. It is sponsored by, and works closely with the FDA, but it is an independent organization.

**The Nail Manufacturer’s Council is an organization founded by the Proffesional Beauty Association.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DPB)

DBP is one of the “three free” toxins found in nail products. As for acute toxicity (how bad it affects you if you are exposed to it only briefly) is low, even in concentrations higher than is what is in nail polish. According to OSHA, someone who swallowed 10 grams of the stuff got sick, but he recovered completely. There goes my habit of drinking my nail polish…? Anyway, you probably don’t even get 10 grams of nail polish in the bottle, let alone 10 grams of pure DPB. However, a study on the effects of DPB introduced to pre-natal boys found that “environmental levels” of the substance impaired testicular function. They didn’t specify what the “environmental levels” were, so I don’t know if that is more or less than what is found in nail polish. I guess just make sure the area where you’re painting your nails is well ventilated, and don’t use nail polishes containing DPB if you are pregnant. Oh, and don’t drink the nail polish…

Toluene

Toluene is an ingredient in nail products that makes them easy to apply, the last of the “three free” toxins. It is a clear colorless liquid, and has been found to be highly toxic. According to the National Library of Medicine, exposure to low levels of toluene can result in confusion, light-headedness, dizziness, headache, fatigue, weakness, memory loss, nausea, appetite loss, coughing, wheezing, and hearing and color vision loss. Exposure to toluene can cause birth defects in pregnant women. Yeah, that sounds pretty bad. The concentrations of toluene in nail products were deemed safe for use by the EU, but they recommend that the areas where you do your nails be kept well ventilated. Still, I think I will not risk this: no more toluene for me! Luckily there are some fabulous brands that make toluene-free nail polish…

Three Free/Toluene Free Nail Polish Brands:

butter London (3 Free)

Wet n Wild (3 Free)

Orly (3 Free)

Essie (contains formalin, called formaldehyde resin)

Nicole by OPI (3 free)

Ulta (3 free)

Red Carpet Manicure (3 free)

Revlon (toluene and formaldehyde free)

OPI (toluene and DPB free, some hardeners contain formaldehyde)

Resources:

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on Parabens: http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291

FDA on Parabens: http://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/productandingredientsafety/selectedcosmeticingredients/ucm128042.htm

Wikipedia article on Estrogen: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estrogen#Breast_cancer

OSHA fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf

California Department of Public Health fact sheet on Formaldehyde: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/hesis/Documents/formaldehyde.pdf

Article by Doug Schoon (Co-Chair of Nail Manufacturer’s Council) on Formaldehyde in Cosmetics: http://personalcaretruth.com/2010/08/exposing-the-formaldehyde-myth/

CIR Council Thing (not quite sure what it is called…): http://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/119_final_formyl.pdf

Report on CIR decision: http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/11/cir-confronts-confusing-chemistry/

Nail Manufacturer’s Council: http://www.probeauty.org/nmc/

Cosmetics Ingredients Review: http://www.cir-safety.org/

NY Times article on Sulfates: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/fashion/30Skin.html?pagewanted=all

TheBeautyBrains.com on Sulfates: http://thebeautybrains.com/2007/06/30/sulfates-in-shampoos-what-are-they/

Environmental Health Perspectives study on DPB: http://ehp03.niehs.nih.gov/article/info:doi/10.1289/ehp.8100

OSHA on DBP: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/healthguidelines/dibutylphthalate/recognition.html

National Library of Medicine on Toluene: http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=30

European Union Scientific Committee on Consumer Products on Toluene: http://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_076.pdf