Mother Earth Living

Real Beauty

Tips and tricks for natural body care

Add to My MSN


Hello. My name is Gina, I am 27 years old and I still get acne. (Come on. I can’t be the only one, right? Right?)

Whenever a nasty blemish finds its way to my skin I grab my trusted vial of tea tree oil. But sometimes I have somewhere important to be the next day and I need a stronger solution that will make that blemish go away even faster. Enter Santalia’s Intensive Spot Treatment. This beauty product surprisingly uses sandalwood instead of tea tree to calm irritations and combat bacteria, as well as 2 percent salicylic acid.

Santalia What I like about this product is its soothing nature. The go-to ingredient in most store-bought acne treatments—benzoyl peroxide—leaves my skin feeling very dry and flaky. This product does not have that effect, which may have something to do with the remaining ingredients in the Santalia formula: Kakadu plum, a rich source of vitamin C; witch hazel, a natural astringent; and lemon myrtle extract, a popular extract for acne and oily skin. But don’t let its soothing nature fool you into thinking it’s not a strong acne fighter. The Santalia formula effectively reduced the size of my blemishes overnight: salicylic acid decreases inflammation and onion extract (yes, onion extract!) can help combat scarring, according to the website.

Unlike most spot treatments I have tried, this product is a gel, not a cream. Be careful when using this product—the gel comes out of the squeeze bottle very fast and you only need to use a little at a time.

Its use of salicylic acid may be an area of concern for some people, as it scores a 4 on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. In my opinion, salicylic acid is a better choice for acne emergencies than benzoyl peroxide, the active ingredient in mainstream acne treatment brands such as Proactive and Neutrogena. In low concentrations, salicylic acid is gentler on my skin and it doesn’t have the bleaching effect on clothes like benzoyl peroxide.

Santalia’s use of sandalwood for skin first surprised me, but then I discovered that sandalwood is actually an excellent skin healer, and that the company’s entire line of skin-care products is based on this ancient herb. Recent research shows that sandalwood oil is more effective at controlling bacteria and stopping inflammation than other botanical extracts or essential oils, according to the company’s website. Interesting!

Try this spot treatment for $28; click here to buy it online.

Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.


If you consider yourself a beauty buff, or even just pay attention to some of the ongoing beauty trends, you’ve no doubt heard of BB cream. It seems that nearly every beauty company is chomping at the bit to get one of these bad boys on the market. But what the heck is a BB cream? What does it do, why should you care, and what should you look for if you decide to buy one?

BB Cream
A good BB cream will even out skin tone without clogging pores or drying out skin, but it shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products.

What is a BB Cream?

BB cream, or “blemish balm,” has actually been around since the 1960s, but has just now made its way to the U.S. market. This beauty wonder is supposedly a moisturizer, primer, foundation, setting powder and sunscreen all in one bottle. Essentially, a BB cream is simply a tinted moisturizer marketed as a “miracle cream.”

Every BB cream is different—some provide excellent coverage, while others are better suited for their moisturizing or sun-shielding benefits. In my opinion, a good BB cream evens out skin tone and provides full coverage.

If you’re all about low-key beauty, you might want to buy a BB cream for its multitasking personality. While it shouldn’t entirely take the place of your morning application of moisturizer or sunscreen, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to occasionally skip these steps in lieu of a multifunctional BB cream.

What should I look for in a BB cream?

This is where things get tricky. Most every BB cream that has recently hit the market claims to be the best, promising an all-in-one product enriched with powerful antioxidants and ingredients from nature. They also claim to combat issues such as acne or aging. Unfortunately, many of the active ingredients that make such claims possible include harsh chemicals such as parabens, a preservative that has been linked to reproductive disorders with moderate to high hazard risk, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Don’t go out and buy a BB cream because it promises to defend against aging or packs the most SPF punch. Instead, shop for a BB cream that provides full coverage for your unique skin tone without harmful parabens. The benefit of a BB cream opposed to a basic foundation is that it will even out skin tone without clogging pores, drying out skin or feeling like your makeup is caked-on. But a BB cream shouldn’t completely replace your other beauty products. You should still apply your moisturizer and sunscreen in the morning, and you may still need to cover up troublesome spots with a thicker concealer.

If you decide to hunt for a BB cream, read the list of ingredients before buying it. Because most of the popular creams are enriched with ingredients that you may not want to put on your face, such as parabens, search for safer options.  

I have only tried a couple BB creams myself, so I will point you to a couple positive online BB cream reviews; these two natural BB cream products are free of parabens and have a low hazard risk in the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, although the Suntegrity product contains dimethicone, a controversial silicone-based polymer with low-moderate hazard risk, according to the EWG.

Suntegrity’s “5 In 1” Natural Moisturizing Face Sunscreen

Marie Veronique Organics’ Moisturizing Face Screen

To Sum Up

THE PROS: BB creams typically provide better coverage than your basic foundation; they won’t leave your skin feeling dry thanks to their moisturizing qualities; and they will provide some sun coverage (which is better than none!).

THE CONS: While they may provide excellent coverage, they might not be the all-in-one beauty secret you were hoping for (keep using your morning moisturizer and sunscreen for healthy skin); some of the most popular creams contain harmful ingredients like parabens; and most of them are rather expensive.

I hope this helps you understand BB creams a little bit more. Although by the time I’ve published this you’ll have no doubt heard about the next beauty craze: CC creams. (Yes. That’s a thing. I swear I’m not making this up.)

Have you experimented with BB creams? What have you learned? Leave me a comment below!

Gina DeBacker HeadshotGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.


Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial CreamFinding the perfect moisturizer can be tricky for me—I want something that’s not too heavy, but still provides adequate moisture and additional benefits, whether that means built-in sunscreen or damage-preventing antioxidants. With my heavier, winter-appropriate moisturizer running out a few months ago, I began the search for a lighter moisturizer for summer. Luckily my coworker Gina had brought back several samples from Expo West—including this Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream from Sibu Beauty.

Sibu Beauty’s line of skincare products are all made with sea buckthorn berry. Long used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, sea buckthorn boasts an array of vitamins, omega fatty acids and antioxidants, and its oil is beneficial for skin, helping to relieve certain conditions and even stimulate wound healing. Sibu Beauty employs fair trade workers in Tibet to sustainably harvest the sea buckthorn berries the company uses. Its products are also vegan and cruelty-free, and all packaging meets FSC standards, meaning conscious consumers can feel good purchasing from Sibu.

On a performance level, Sibu Beauty’s Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream holds up. The formula is lightweight, non-greasy and absorbs quickly into my skin, making it easy to apply right before my makeup. It also has a light-but-pleasant citrus scent that comes from orange and lemon essential oils. No synthetic fragrances here—nor parabens for that matter! And at just $21, Sibu Beauty’s Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream is an affordable choice.

Sibu Beauty products can be found at Whole Food Markets, Akins Natural Food, GNC stores and more.


Dark under-eye circles plague many of us. While short-term under-eye circles may be caused by lack of sleep, if the problem is consistent for you, it’s probably a cause of one of two things: genetics or allergies. Most under-eye circles are a result of genetically programmed pigmentation. The tissue around our eyes is also delicate, and as we age that skin becomes thinner and the fat from behind our eyes detaches and moves forward, pushing the pigment out. (Fair-skinned people and people with deep-set eyes tend to experience this problem more.) Dark under-eye circles can also be caused by allergies, which can create a congestion of fluid underneath the eyes and may also cause us to rub our eyes, which can worsen the appearance of dark circles. To keep your face looking refreshed, try these home remedies for dark under-eye circles.

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles
Photo By Elena Stepanova/Fotolia

Home Remedies for Dark Under-Eye Circles

Treat your allergies. If you suspect that allergies may be worsening your dark under-eye circles, start by treating them. Find gentle treatments for your symptoms by checking out the article "Natural Remedies for Seasonal Allergies."

Sleep with extra pillows. Gravity causes fluid to collect under your eyes, so changing the position in which you sleep can affect how your eyes look the next day. If you sleep on your back, try adding an extra pillow under your head to encourage fluid away from your eyes.

Wake up tired eyes with caffeine! It works for your mind, so why not your eyes? Dark under-eye circles are hard to treat topically, but a few types of eye creams can help. One option is eye creams containing caffeine, such as this Organic Coffee Bean Caffeine Eye Cream from 100% Pure. Caffeine constricts blood vessels around the eye and reduces water retention, helping to reduce the appearance of dark under-eye circles. While not a long-term cure, caffeine-enriched eye creams can remedy dark under-eye circles on a day-to-day basis.

Eye creams made with vitamin A or vitamin C, such as this 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream from NOW Foods, are another good option as they can help firm up the skin around eyes and reduce the thinness that makes dark under-eye circles so prominent.

Stay hydrated. Dehydration can make skin appear dull and lifeless and can even thin it. Drinking plenty of fluids can contribute to a healthy glow and can help your skin remain elastic.

Use cooled tea bags. If your circles are also combined with puffiness, try placing cooled tea bags over the eyes to reduce swelling.

Have you tried any home remedies for treating dark under-eye circles? What have you found to be effective? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section!


Dr Hauschka Daily Revitalizing Eye CreamIn my quest for an effective eye cream that will diminish some of the dark circles and fine lines that have started creeping up, I’ve been testing a number of different products. One of my favorites is definitely the Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream from Dr. Haushcka’s holistic skin care line.

Dr. Hauschka claims that its Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream will prevent signs of premature aging while hydrating the skin and refining delicate lines around the eye. A quick look at the ingredients list reveals a number of components that help make this possible: nourishing avocado, jojoba and sweet almond oils; skin-soothing calendula extract; moisturizing shea butter. It also contains pineapple extract, which has antioxidant and exfoliating properties, both of which can help diminish fine lines.

On a personal note, I’ve been pleased with the performance of this product. I use it daily and definitely have noticed that the skin under my eyes seems brighter than normal—making me appear less tired. And those fine lines are looking smaller, too! (Or at least, they’re not getting any deeper.) Apart from its effectiveness, there are three things I love about Dr. Hauschka’s Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream: its formula is smooth and fast-absorbing, meaning I can apply it immediately before putting on makeup; the squeeze tube makes it easy to get exactly as much product as I need without wasting any; and the tiny tube doesn’t take up much space in my tiny bathroom! The only drawbacks? At $52 a pop, the Daily Revitalizing Eye Cream is a little pricey for me—although one tube will last the better part of a year, so it’s a good investment. The product also contains fragrance, the ubiquitous and mysterious ingredient that is usually a sign of chemical involvement.


NOW Solutions 2 in 1 Correcting Eye CreamBecause of my fair skin and deep-set eyes, it often appears that I have dark circles under my eyes. To combat this problem—and to keep people from telling me that I look exhausted all the time—I’ve started adding an eye cream to my daily skin care routine. I’ve tried other products and have been less than impressed with the results, so when NOW Foods sent me a sample of their 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream from their new NOW Solutions personal-care line to test, my hopes weren’t high. Whether a result of my low expectations or excellent product performance, I was pleasantly surprised, however.

I tend to feel sheepish using skin care products labeled “anti-aging,” but as the skin around my eyes is extra delicate, I appreciate the boost that products like the 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream provide. NOW Solutions claims that the product tightens and brightens. While tightening isn’t yet a concern for my not-yet-mature skin, brightening was high on my list of wants from an eye cream—and the 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream didn’t disappoint. I’ve been applying the cream under my eyes (and occasionally to my eyelid and brow bone when I get a little too much product on my finger) both morning and night, and I’ve noticed a definite lightening of the usual dark circles under my eyes.

Ingredients such as vitamin C and vitamin K, which help to firm up the skin and reduce thinness, contribute to the product’s ability to lighten under-eye circles. The safety and quality of ingredients is always a concern for me when considering any kind of personal care product. While Skin Deep, my go-to resource for info on safe products, hasn’t reviewed NOW Solutions 2 in 1 Correcting Eye Cream, a quick search of all the ingredients resulted in only one red flag: Retinyl Palmitate, or vitamin A. When exposed to sunlight, vitamin A breaks down to produce toxic free radicals that can damage DNA.  


Lately, I have been moisturizing my face with botanical oils. While this may seem strange to many people, this is a centuries-old practice from ancient Rome that is actually beneficial to the skin—and it’s becoming popular once again.

Despite the misconception that oils cause breakouts, facial oils actually reduce sebum production (oil production), cutting down on oily complexions by “tricking” your skin into thinking it already has enough. Plus, many botanical oils are naturally enriched with skin-benefiting properties. To use, massage a few drops of your oil into your face, giving the oil plenty of time to absorb into your skin before going to bed (about 30 minutes). Try oils like jojoba, Argan, coconut, squalane—and even olive—by themselves, or buy facial oil blends from a natural beauty company you trust. Here are a few of my favorite facial oils right now.

Please leave me a comment to let me know if you are following the facial oil trend and which facial oils you recommend. I'd love to consider it for a future natural beauty review.

Rosehip Facial Oil Serum 

Deep Rosehip Facial Oil Serum by Aura Cacia, $20

I love how this rosehip-infused serum feels on my skin. Rosehip oil naturally hydrates the skin and has a fresh floral scent that makes it a wonderful addition to my morning beauty routine. Massage a few drops of this serum into your skin for a dewy glow, and let it absorb into your skin (10 to 20 minutes) before putting on your makeup for the day. Rosehip oil is loaded with omega 6 (an essential fatty acid also known as linoleic acid), and offers natural anti-aging benefits, helping to reduce fine lines and inflammation. This blend from Aura Cacia is also loaded with vitamin E, which is a great skin nutrient.

Derma E Soothing Facial Oil 

Soothing Facial Treatment Oil by derma e, $24

This facial blend, which is enriched with Argan oil and kukui oil—two timeless skin favorites—is a great moisturizer for sensitive skin. Argan oil, a rare oil found in Morocco, is an antioxidant that helps soften dry skin and reduce skin imperfections. Kukui oil, which can be found in Hawaii and some areas of Polynesia, is loaded with essential fatty acids that help it naturally soothe and soften skin. This facial treatment from derma e was a big help during the final months of winter. Use it to soothe and hydrate dry skin.

Squalane Oil 

Squalane Facial Oil by Indie Lee, $32

While most squalane oil was originally obtained from shark livers—and sometimes it still is—this Indie Lee oil is derived from olives. Squalane oil is an antioxidant-rich moisturizer that helps treat sun-damaged skin, promotes skin elasticity and helps diminish age spots. Although this is the most expensive pick on my list, this product from Indie Lee is 100 percent pure, olive-derived squalane oil. Plus, a few drops from this little bottle go a long way. I love how light the oil feels on my skin—it absorbs into my skin fairly quickly and doesn’t leave my face feeling greasy. Just massage a few drops of this oil onto your face at night to benefit from this ancient skin aid.

Gina DeBackerGina DeBacker is the assistant editor at Mother Earth Living. She loves that part of her job entails testing beauty products enriched with natural ingredients.

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.