Category Archives: Eco and body friendly makeup

Ayla: The Ultimate Skin Resource

Dara Kennedy, founder of skin care boutique, Ayla, scours the planet, researching and studying endlessly, so that Ayla sells only the finest, most effective products out there.
Her approach is unique, with spectacular focus. She demands excellence in outcome and in ingredients and settles for nothing less. Take note: neither should you.
dara ayla
When chatting about her selection process for which products Ayla will stock, I realized there were incredibly similarities to creating your ultimate wardrobe.  Let me share!  You’ll learn how she curates an amazing skincare collection and you can apply this same strategy to your wardrobe! Then I’ll tell you why Ayla is even more impressive.
Here we go!

1) Identify your needs. Then stop!  (Did you hear that? Avoid excess.)

2) Select items with maximum visual impact.  We want gorgeous results!

3) Invest in great quality.  It’ll feel better, look better and treat you better.

4) Consider the big picture. Sometimes imperfections are ok because the end result is still incredible. Sometimes, they’re not.  Establish this on a case by case basis and re-evaluate as necessary.*

5) Look around you and buy from people and companies who really care about their product, their customer, their employees, the planet and the animals on it. Be a part of compassionate excellence.

Abiding by these five strategies, you can enjoy (in your wardrobe or skincare shopping at Ayla):
                                                                     (feels good, right?)
and also
                                                                streamlined fabulousness!
                                                        You’ll have the best of the best 
                                                                    (with no extra clutter).

Dara is discerning and has judgement I admire and trust. When I ask Dara questions, she has factual answers at the ready and  a opinions -her own AND what four top-notch dermatologists she works with would say.  Linn, one of her employees, helped me identify the ingredient I was using when I came to Ayla that was clogging my pores. I’d have NEVER figured it out otherwise. What a resource!  I’ve only felt educated and spoiled at Ayla, never pushed into purchases.  Two months later, my skin hasn’t been so at peace and joyous since I was 11!   It’s pretty darn amazing, decades later, to be loving my skin.

Ayla has a Sample Kit option with products handpicked just for you for $20. Given my fickle skin, fussy taste and cautious spending, this was my ticket in.  Highly recommended.

Ayla means the bearer of light. a completely fitting name. Want your best skin? Shop wisely, shop at Ayla.
 dara ayla2
Dara Kennedy, founder of Ayla, with her Beauty Valued extended Flirt Palette. Knowing your best colors is one more strategy to looking fabulous! On the top are her hair colors (her best dark neutrals) and two swatches of her best metals (especially fun for evening clutches and sandals), then her eye color strips (imagine them in a glassy necklace!). Next is her skin tone strip (the lighter end for undergarments under sheer blouses, and the darker colors for nude shoes). The guavas, brandied melon, cinnamons and saffron thread reds – a softly spiced concoction of beauty- lend themselves to a variety of makeup option from natural and elegant to fun and flirty to Christmas party extravagance.  All the swatches I give clients can be used for clothing, accessories and makeup. To learn more about how the skintone strip can be used in makeup selection, see this post here.

Polished to Perfection

Even as a custom color analyst, I still end up with colored products that aren’t quite right.  Case in point: a few months ago I bought a dusky pink polish that seemed amazing in the store when I tested it (near a big window with a few regular light bulbs on a high ceiling).  But at home in full daylight, it was the teensiest bit too cool and it bugged me. I was so so SO close!  I almost owned a pink nail polish I’d wear!!!  For those of you who don’t know, pink is a really tricky color on me to get right.

Then, out the other day, I saw a brownish-golden-plum metallic and instantaneously knew it would perfect that pink.  At home, I added a few drops and…MY DESIRED PINK!!!  But now I had practically that whole bottle of the newly purchased color.  What could I do with it?  It was rather blah on me alone.  At the time of impulse buy, I hadn’t thought beyond righting the pink but now I had practically the whole bottle left.  I despise clutter and excess, and it suddenly weighed down on me that while i had corrected an earlier polish to a state of TRUE LOVE, now I had another bottle that was just going to sit there, in my medicine cabinet, with three other imperfect polishes.  Wait, wait, wait: IDEA!!!  I ran to get two of those three. They beckoned for experimentation.

One was a very light, neutral pink.  It was, I thought, a nice shade for a nude nail on me, until I actually applied the three coats needed to get this runny formula looking smooth and then, fully opaque, it was far too light for my eyes to stand.  The other was a dark purple that I bought assuming it’d be fine (dark purple is an area I have lots of wiggle room in) but applied it was actually dark magenta which- agh- was too pink!  Morals of this paragraph: test nail polish not just for color but also for viscosity and don’t leap to ANY assumptions about color in a bottle.


The middle golden brown plum is the bottle I purchased to tweak the pink polish.  The two bottles that flank it are the earlier mistakes.

I was really, really happy with my results, which is why I’m writing this now.  It turns out you don’t actually need to hunt and hunt and hunt for the perfect nail polish color, you can mix your own!!!


See how nicely my new colors match the fabric swatches in my personal palette?

To do this, working in daylight hours, in a room with REALLY good ventilation, you’ll need:

  • your unloved nail polishes (not including those with chunky glitter of an offending color – the glitter can’t change color)
  • small paper cups for mixing – the smaller they are the less polish you’ll lose coating the cups
  • aluminum foil to cover your work area, and to test tiny mixtures out on
  • nail polish remover and cotton pads – to wipe the necks of bottles and clean off your fingernails as you test out potential colors
  • something for mixing – I used the blunt end of bamboo skewers (not the pointy end which might rip the foil)
  • your personal palette nearby but out of harm’s way (or if you don’t yet have a palette, have some idea of if the color needs to be warmed up, lightened, darkened, cooled down, etc)
  • possibly some of your loved nail polish colors

As you mix small amounts of  colors on the foil, figure out approximate ratios of how much of one color you want with another. If it’s just the tiniest of amounts, pour that directly into the bottle with the almost perfect color to minimize wastage.  If you need to mix colors in larger quantities, use the cups but play around on the foil for a while first to come up with a basic game plan.  You’ll want to ensure the textures meld nicely and the result is of good viscosity.   Mix really, really well.

Test potential mixtures out on your nails.  Next, compare to your palette!  If the color doesn’t look like it blends in, ask yourself, what does this color need more of?  You may find you want to add a bit of color that you have in your loved polishes.

Speaking of love, If you’re thrilled with a new formula you’ve created be sure to use a sharpie and write on the bottle’s label what you mixed in!  Also, if your nail polishes have those tiny metal balls in them,  spread them between final polishes rather than letting all fall back into one bottle. They’re great for helping you really mix the color in the bottle with the polish that’s still sticking to the sides.

Enjoy your collection of nail polishes that perfectly harmonize with YOU!  To learn more about choosing makeup once you have a personal palette (that includes your skin tones) read this post, here, where I give my mom a makeover for her 70th.

nailpolish3My nail polish collection including the ‘corrected’ colors with my personal palette. I have one more polish not shown – my perfect blush tone color, which I found at the same time as the golden brown plum color, and which needs no tinkering whatsoever. It hid off camera behind the perfected pink and I didn’t notice it when taking photos. Sorry!  My  collection, with these new additions, is complete! 

Now my only remaining unloved polish is a gorgeous teal blue glitter.  The color is great, the texture is fine…but the thing STAINS my nails even with two base coats.  Unless any of you lovely readers have a better idea (do you?),  I’m going to use it to paint dried out pine cones for holiday decor later this year!!!

Turning 40, Slowly

As someone who’s always wanted to be in her thirties, I was grieving a bit in the weeks before my 40th.  Then a few days before my actual birthday an older friend gave me a card with a pack of post-it notes because, “It’s hard to remember anything these days!” Next, a large box arrived, sent from my best friend from middle school,  with a tiara inside and the note, “Welcome to the Big Kids Club!” The gestures were both so fun, it made it hard not to embrace the day. And not to laugh.


After a family breakfast out on the actual day (tiara on head) followed by a fancy holiday party lunch, I went to the Fibershed Fashion Gala , at the Jacuzzi Family Vineyards in Sonoma.  Please, take 20 seconds to read this blog and see its photos as I can’t describe the concept behind Fibershed any better, any faster or with more beauty. More details are here.  Pretty cool, right?

I was curious to see locally made clothes and to meet the designers that made them. Would there be colors within my palette?  Styles that would suit me?  At prices I could afford?  You see in my dream world, I’d not only tell clients their best colors and styles, but which local (to them) designers to turn to for investing in new pieces.

Currently I buy most of my clothes nearly new, really thinking about how much value each piece will add to my life.  That’s how I do Slow Fashion.  But I wanted to know how else it could be done, both for me personally and for my local clients.

There were not as many garments and accessories to see as I’d envisioned, but there were plenty of surprise discoveries.  For instance, I was expecting only to see photos of furry beasts and then the woolen creations made from them.  But this woman uses only mushroom based dyes!




I liked this designer’s trail-on-the-ground-urban-rather-than-bridesmaid-convertible dress.

ditto hangers

These hangers were part of a raffle prize, but apparently everyone (not just me) was asking about them, wanting to buy them.  Earth friendly and -for those of you with minuscule storage space or who want more of a boutique, airy and spacious feel in your wardrobe – they DOUBLE your closet space!  Ditto sells them in plain brown in three sizes – adult, children and infant, and their site has a sale through January.  Perfect as my daughter’s clothes have outgrown the hangers we have for her. The Container Store sells them fora bit more in black in the adult size only. Rave reviews here.

There was a bounty of gorgeous food that I was too full to actually relish. And look  how unexpectedly gorgeous wine barrels are serving as a backdrop for fashion!


And then, I stumbled across a woman selling the most wonderfully scented spray.  Ever since pregnancy, I’ve been exceptionally sensitive to scents, disliking most of them but this was incredible and I didn’t even know what it was. Room spray?  Body spray?  Something called “Cloud of Protection” it turned out, and typing this I’m laughing at the name, but if you smelled it first, as I had, you’d understand. Both nurturing and cleansing, with a brightening and uplifting result. I was hooked and intrigued: the maker seemed to understand scent in a way I’d never encountered.  I bought the sample kit for $20 and have since purchased the full size of The Balm (excellent for smoothing my hair into a ponytail) and “C” Perfect Skin , the oil, even though I’m not actually out of either yet. The oil is the best I’ve tried (I swear I look younger! Best birthday gift to 40 year old self ever, right?!?) and truly affordable. 

bynievesPlus the packaging is charming.  By Nieves is sold here.


Dinner out completed the day.

In conclusion: the yarn for sale was beautiful but knitting isn’t my thing.  The prices of the garments I saw were too high for me personally, and the colors and styles weren’t my best. The kids clothing I looked at for my daughter was cute but not soft enough. (She’s very particular.)  So while I can’t say I’ve found new designers to go to or locally made yarn to create with, I can say I continue to be inspired by Fibershed and by Slow Fashion in general.  I enjoyed taking the time to go see what was being made.  I’ve found a smarter way to hang my family’s clothes.  I’ve got happier skin.  I spent time on my 40th birthday doing something I feel strongly about and something that makes me happy.  And, I realized that if what I want to buy to wear isn’t available locally YET, then I’m inspired to make it!  And while I think that’ll involve up-cycling old clothes, I’m letting my ideas on how to do that exactly percolate SLOWLY.  (Why rush, right?)  I want to savor the second half of my life more than I have the first.  After all, I just had the pleasure of turning 40.

A Makeover for my Mom for her 70th!

My mom’s entire wardrobe would fill a single suitcase and the makeup that most women travel with to work is more than my mom actually owns.  So when my dad asked if he could treat her to my smaller size custom color palette (my FLIRT palette) so she that she could use the colors as a guide to buy some new lipstick for her 70th birthday party dinner, I thought, “Nooooooooo!” *insert giddy laughter* ,”We have to do the WHOLE palette!”  (You can read about my different custom color packages here.)



While my dad’s goal for my mom might have been new lipstick, my goal was a makeover.  Here’s why: my mom’s hair was dyed and the color needed work (see right).  I figured that if I had enough time to show her how the warmth of her hair was confusing her overall look and therefore her color palette, she’d get her hair color corrected.  Happily, my plan worked.

When hair is not harmoniously dyed, creating a temporary palette for a person is an option and that’s what I started to do for my mom but fixing the color is better as then you’re not compensating for color that is off.  (To see why hair color affects a custom palette, see this largely pictorial blog post which involves Elmo and imaginary friends.)

My mom is holding the part of her custom palette that was certain  – the part of her palette that is known as her “body colors.”  From left to right she’s holding her skin tone swatches; her natural blush tones;  her eye colors swatches, and then her hair color-to-be swatches that I’d chosen (to take to the salon).  As she  went off to call a new hair dresser, I decided to purchase some lipstick.

My mom won’t wear lipstick if it isn’t EXTREMELY moisturizing so I wanted to get her Silk Naturals brand.  (See their selection here.)  With just her skin and blush tone swatches in front of me, I opened my laptop.   Note: Silk Naturals has excellent swatch photos on their site or there’s absolutely no way I’d have done this.  (And, not that I’ve ever used it, but they also have an excellent return policy.)  

I wanted to get my mom a nude, a pink and a red  lipstick –  for my mother who has never owned three lipsticks at once!   It was imperative that I found colors that connected with both her skin tones AND her blush tones.  You can see  below that my choices (Birthday Suit, Eternal and Reddy)  mesh beautifully in this regard.  Actually put on my mom,  these lipsticks look more pink/red. roz makeup The lipsticks arrived just in time and – success!  – each of them was fabulous.  My mom’s hair was dyed…and then we went back to creating her palette. Here, with her custom palette just completed, she is wearing her pink lipstick, Eternal, and holding the same “body colors” from earlier.  Isn’t she looking gorgeous? momfinal Ok, aside from the nail polish she had on not jiving.

I bought her a couple of new tops on ebay and here she is wearing one of them with Silk Natural’s lipstick Birthday Suit, the nude lippie that she’s taken to wearing most of the time. birthdaysuitlippie And here she is wearing Reddy and the other top I got her (with sequins that reflect the colors in her palette): reddy In general, using your custom color palette to buy makeup is as simple as matching your fabric swatches directly to makeup and/or finding makeup in colors that fall between your skin tones and your swatches. For example, here are three of my blushes next to my palette.  You can see that Desert Plum (in the middle) and Pretty Plum (far right) are exact matches and that the blush on the far left, Lady, falls between the pink to its left and my lightest skin tone swatch to its right. myblushesandfan Another example: my most used Silk Naturals lipsticks, Fashionista, Rapturous and Sultry, are swatched below on paper next to my blush colors and skin tones. You can see how they visually make sense with these strips of swatches. Then, my favorite eyeshadows, Mohave and Prowl,  lie happily between my skin tones and my dark brown swatches (which are actually my hair color swatches). kathymakeuforblog Sooooooo, if YOU need a makeover, where better to start than with a Custom Color Palette from Beauty Valued?  (It can be done in person or online from LOTS of photographs.)  And if you buy from Silk Naturals, be sure to look at the photos of the swatched make up, not just their color indicator “dots”.

Notes come with a palette and include further details on makeup selection and how to assess current and potential clothing.  Plus, there is also customized info regarding personal style.  (For a fun example of accompanying notes -minus makeup info, as it’s for Elmo – read this post.)  

And if you want to know tips for buying clothes on ebay, keep reading. My previous blog post is about just that!

Review: Green Grab Bag Build a Box

Apologies in advance to those of you not in the U.S.  While you don’t have access to this service, perhaps you’ll be interested in the products I tried.

Green Grab Bag sells eco-friendly beauty product samples.  At first, they were subscription only, delivering 6+ samples a month for $15 which including shipping.  I never tried out their service.  The frugal-control-freak-who-abhors-excess in me couldn’t do it.  (What if I got a perfume sample I disliked?  Or a face mask for oily skin?  Or makeup in a color that wasn’t mine?)  But when they started  their Build a Box Program which allows you to HAND PICK the samples you want, I was easy to woo.  (Like my colors, I like my body products hand picked!)

greengrabbagI tried out the smallest size box which, like their monthly subscription service, is $15 including shipping for six samples.  From more than 55 items, I chose:

Cocoon Apothecary Rosey Cheeks  Discovering this facial cream alone made the box worth every cent. Hands down the nicest moisturizer I’ve used.  Fans of rosehip oil and shea butter check it out. Not too much, not too little – but just the right amount of moisture for my finicky skin.  The rose scent is very, very subtle.

Tsi-La Fleur Sauvage Organic Eau de Parfum The other perfumes on offer actually all sounded nice. This  one sounded bewitching and it is, indeed, intoxicating.  I spent ages on the Tsi-La website having fun, learning about their perfumes and how you can layer them.

Aimee’s Lotions’n’Potions Revitalizing Eye Cream   I ran out of eye cream so picked two. This one is lovely and creamy.

Moody Sisters Eye Cream  When looking at the Moody Sister’s website, I discovered this can also be used as a cuticle cream!  And, indeed, that’s how I am enjoying using it – actually on my entire hands not just my cuticles. Its consistency reminds me of coconut oil and my hands love it.

Shea Terra Organics Pink Guava Pomegranate Whipped Shea Butter Body Cream  This is much thicker than I expected and lacks the heavenly scent I’d hoped for but it is nice on elbows and heels.

Suntegrity Vegan BB Sunscreen in Light.  This is why I love the Build a Box program – because I know I need Light not Medium and *I* get to choose.  I was really impressed by this product  in terms of consistency and feel.  I still prefer matching skin tones more precisely but this came really close for me and if I hadn’t just found a better match, I’d probably be buying it full size.

The Build A Box program is currently made up of products from past subscription boxes but they are planning on introducing completely different samples too.  Products are added monthly.  Customer service is fantastic.  (I had questions answered super fast!)   Go forth and sample!

Great Makeup at Great Prices

I’ve written about ‘green’ makeup before in an earlier blog, here.  If you want to know why folks like me care about what’s in our makeup so much then start reading there.  Otherwise, dive on in!

Today I want to share INEXPENSIVE  clean makeup finds.  Two companies that are making top quality products without the fancy packaging and marketing budgets of bigger known brands are Silk Naturals and The All Natural Face. concertodesertplum As I’ve got older and my skin drier, powder foundations have been looking, well, errrr…powdery!  I tried stick and liquid foundations by brands such as Vapour, Nvey Eco and W3LL People and while they all get great reviews, no single sample of anything I tried really rocked my world.  (Samples were purchased at Spirit Beauty Lounge.)  Either the color, the texture or/and the scent bothered me, and, frankly,  none are inexpensive.

Then I stumbled across the All Natural Face and saw they offered a cream foundation in 51 different shades – to be used as a concealer or foundation, with the simple ingredients of: organic jojoba oil, organic argan oil, candelilla wax (a plant alternative to beeswax), mica, oxides, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.  At less than $10, I had to try it!

While they don’t sell samples of the cream foundation, they do for their powder foundations at 35 cents each, so I ordered a handful to see if they had a color that would work well.  I also indulged in their Try Me Lipstick Sampler  for just over $5,  which includes your choice of five samples of lipsticks; a truly lovely lip exfoliating rub (enough to last ages) ;and a gloss which is more like a salve for use after exfoliating.  Finally, I bought, for $3.45, their Eye Shadow Primer.  They threw in a sample of a hydration mist/makeup sealant. allnatfacsamples The shade “Almond Goddess”blended right in on me, so I ordered that as a cream foundation and a full size lipstick of Cherries Jubilee (the warmest I can go for a red lipstick – quite a fun find).  I’m pleased with the eye shadow primer too and the hydrator/sealant did help the powder look less powdery.

I can’t say I love their website  but customer service via email is great, and I learned, when I emailed to ask about the foundation’s estimated spf, that the lighter the foundation the higher the spf as it’s got more (white) titanium and zinc oxide in it.  That’s handy for this fair lady!  (Estimated spf is 15-30, by the way.)

In the photo of me above, I’m wearing The All Natural Face’s Almond Goddess cream foundation dabbed on and smoothed out where needed.  Mascara is Korres Volcanic Minerals Volumizing Mascara.  Everything else is Silk Naturals: Desert Plum blush, Concerto lipstick,  Deep Brunette brow powder and Sleep in a Jar under eye powder.

Yup, lots of Silk Naturals products:  they are my first choice for lipstick, blush and eye shadows.   I can’t recommend them enough.  Prices are really reasonable, shipping is fast, quality is amazing.  They offer an incredible array of fabulous colors  just be sure to look at the photos they offer of the product swatches, not just the “dots” when choosing items.  In terms of quality, their lipsticks are moisturizing AND stay on for ages, and their powders are finely milled.  You do have to be ok with their lipsticks coming in Chapstick type packaging (see pic below).  I’m fine with it.  In fact, I kind of prefer it. They also make lots of dupes of high street brands and state that when relevant.


I hope I’ve provided you with some new information.  If any of you know of other like-minded makeup companies, do share!   I’m all for supporting businesses that care more about quality and low prices for consumers than fancy advertising and packaging!

Life is Full of Goodies

PUbaggy - EditedWho doesn’t love a goody bag full of beauty products (and one tasty lollipop)?

baggy2 - Edited

Especially when you’ve hand selected each item you wanted included…

handfulPU - Edited

These are the samples I ordered from Spirit Beauty Lounge ((you get 9 for $25 including shipping).  From perfume to skin care to makeup…I dare you not to be tempted.

palettePUsamples - Edited

When you know your colors, you know just what color makeup to buy!

My job feels a bit like this goody bag right now. I picked exactly what I wanted in it:

1) Color

2) People

3) Research

4) Sharing information

5) Beauty

6) Health/wellness

7) Community

8) Clothing & Accessories

9) Sustainability (that’s why I’m recommending incredible eco-friendly beauty product sites)

Lucky, lucky me! I looooove what I created in my goody bag of a job, and am so glad I found my calling. Thank you, dear clients, for letting me serve you and live my dream!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some new products to try!!!  (Fun, fun.)  Oh, and if you have a favorite eco-friendly brand of clothing or makeup or a site you want to share, please, do let me know in your comments below. Thanks!