2008 BEST IN GLOW AWARDS
It's time for Chic & Green's First Annual BEST IN GLOW AWARDS (as in glowing skin without parabens). All have been tried and tested by yours truly and get my seal of approval! All contenders I consider to be of the highest quality and can recommend them. Some categories were harder than others when it came to choosing a favorite (especially the shampoo category), but I am happy with my choices. CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS!
Best Overall Soap
By a landslide, this award goes to Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps on Etsy. Nancy's soaps make your skin feel comforted and soft. The lather is so creamy and gentle and the quality is top notch. From Pink Peppermint to Lemongrass Sage, Nancy offers consistently wonderful bars of nourishing soaps without palm oil. The ingredients are great. She offers a plethora of choices and I have never bought one that I didn't love.
Best Soap Scent
This was tough because I love the Apple Spice and Peppermint Cocoa bars so much from Aunt Nancy's (these get my 2nd and 3rd choice picks in this category), but I have to give the soap scent award to Cocoa Pink for the Original Cake on Mondays. This is an incredible scent and I adore it with all my heart! The soap is rich and creamy and I just love this scent. It lasts and lasts and is just wonderful. It smells so warm and delicious in the shower when layered with cinnamon, egg nog, gingerbread, almonds, vanillas and pumpkins.
This category was divided among my 3 favorite etailer shampoos and was perhaps the most difficult category to judge just because all 3 are absolutely wonderful. It was so close because they all have their pros and cons while still being top notch.
The winner of this category is Lady is a Shamp from Starring...! Fragrances. I'll be honest--I didn't love it at first. It seemed thin and almost watery. The first of my 3 bottles was thinner. I didn't shake it...I knew enough to shake it up and let it cure a week more and then I was in love. This isn't as thick as other liquids, but it also doesn't have a bunch of artificial thickening agents, so this isn't a bad thing at all. It lathers nicely, rinses very well, and comes in several dozen WONDERFUL blends exclusive to Ashley's company. I particularly adore the Vanilla Custard Creme and Renaissance Marchpane! The ingredients are fantastic in this one, and that is one reason I love it so much. Let's read about my 2nd and 3rd favorites.
2nd Place: Shampoo That Rocks from In a Lather is also nearly perfect. It is a dome shaped bar and lasts a long time. It lathers quite well, makes my hair look and feel fantastic and is just wonderful! I truly prefer a bottle to a bar, though, when it comes to my shampoo, and the scents are very limited. I do like Lemon Curd, though! I will buy this again.
3rd Place: When it comes to Cocoa Pink Squeaky, I like the consistency--that is truly perfect. I love the convenience of the bottles, as well as the scent choices, especially Signature White and Sweet Pumpkin. This cleanses gently and effectively, rinses clean, and is really great to use every few days as a clarifying formula. If your hair is dry like mine is, you really will want another formula in your hair care arsenal, but this really is a wonderful shampoo!
Best overall hair conditioner without a doubt is JojoElle Hair Conditioner.
This conditioner is gentle, nourishing, and the scent selection is incredible. I use this often and it is a perfect conditioner for daily use. The texture of this recipe is outstanding. I prefer this in the cooler months when my hair is a bit more on the dry side. It tames flyaways and leaves my hair soft without weighing it down.
I am going to buy this next in Cremasse. I am using it right now in Iced Pumpkin Cupcakes, Iced Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes, Chocolate Framboise, and Chocolate Boheme. You're able to get this formula in any of the scents offered by Jo and it is just a high-end quality conditioner.
Second place in this category goes to Soul Mate from Cocoa Pink, a wonderful deep conditioner to use once or twice a week. It is great after coloring your hair and will add a great sheen. It has a bit of silicone in it, which I try to avoid, but for limited use, I highly recommend this! I am really liking it in Signature White to go with my Squeaky shampoo and in Cake on Mondays, my favorite Cocoa Pink scent.
Third place was so close to being second. It is a GREAT conditioner and I love it in the summer when my hair isn't as dry. This is True Lustre Conditioner from Crater Lake Company.
It's chock full of aloe vera and other beneficial ingredients, comes in so many great scents from Sharonn, and is a great lighter conditioner. I adore it and so will you! I recommend this in Coconut Bavarois, London Lemon Curd, and any of her vanilla blends.
BEST SCENT in an Eau de Parfum of 2008
So many wonderful scents...could it be Cake on Mondays? Or Chocolate Boheme? Jo's recipe for Cremasse? Sharonn's delicious Halloween blends? Judy's summer hit Pink Satsuma? There are just so many decadent scents out there right now that I use and love and it was really close! I actually think the winner could be Cremasse, Jo's custom version at JojoElle. I have only tried this in a body scent, not perfume (although I just ordered a bottle), so I can't say how it is for certain in an EDP.
In my opinion, the best scent I have tried in 2008 goes to Crater Lake Company's Coconut Bavarois. It is heavenly. Perfection in a little bottle.
Second, trailing very closely behind, is JojoElle's Chocolate Boheme. Yum--a decadent blend of dark chocolate and gingerbread. It's divine.
In third place is another fabulous scent--ImPeached by Starring...! Fragrances. I am not a big peach fan. Aside from Victoria's Secret Peach Hyacinth, the only other peach I've loved has been Life's a Peach, also by Starring...! and available in the fall of 2006. This is a lovely, wearble bakery peach and has quickly become a favorite of mine.
I adore all 3 companies for high-end quality, expertly blended Eau de Parfum. It takes a special nose and creative mind to come up with blends that smell as good on the skin as they appear in a scent description, and I believe that Sharonn, Jo, and Ashley are true experts at this craft. You will not be disappointed!
BEST FOAMING SCRUB
After trying several foaming scrubs now (and I still prefer a non-foaming), the last one I tried is actually the best.
Whipped Bubble Scrub from JojoElle Whipped Bubble Scrub is the winner for me my a landslide. It exfoliates gently, has a light lather, and rinses clean. This is the most moisturizing of the bunch. You must, must, must try this in Red & White Peppermint Cake!!! It is so good.
Second place was Sugar Cloud from Crater Lake Company. This was the creamiest of the bunch while remaining scrubby, plus it lightly moisturized and rinsed off well at the same time. I needed a bit more of this one that the others, but it is still a great product.
So Broke Sugar Scrub from Cocoa Pink was my third place winner. This was the scrubbiest because of the dermabrasion crystals. This scrub rinsed well, scrubbed effectively and made my skin clean without drying it out when followed by lotion or cream. This would be tied for second, but the ingredients list on all of my jars has propylene glycol pretty high up there on the listings (which is different than the listing on site right now), so it moves into third.
BEST SUGAR SCRUB (NON-FOAMING)
No one selling scrubs makes a better one for dry, winter-ravaged skin like Sue over at Mad City Soap. Her Whipped Sugar Scrub is second to none. I have tried many scents, given many to friends, and you just cannot go wrong. If your skin is parched this winter, go grab yourself a jar and scrub the flakes away. Sue's scrub will leave your skin so nourished that your arms and legs will feel like silk and you may just be able to skip the lotion afterwards! Scent recommendions--Lemon Meringue split with Italian Cream Cake is my old stand by. I also love her holiday scents, Thin Mint Cookies, and a new scent I ordered for my mom that will be out soon in her shop!
Sue doesn't offer this scrub in the summer months, so my go-to favorite creamy sugar scrub is Creamy Dreamy Scrub from Judy at Cleanse Your Soul. It's not as nourishing as the MCS, but this makes it ideal for oilier skin types, or for everyone in the humid months. It's another winner! Try it in Lemon Buttercream Sables!
BEST LIQUID BODY WASH
The winner is clear in this category: Cleanse Your Soul Oil-Infused Creamy Body Wash.
Not only is this paraben-free product chock full of natural oils and gentle, sulfate-free cleansing agents, it is incredibly reasonable compared to others. I love Let Your Heart Be Light and a yummy butterscotch blend called Butterscotch Sugar Custard.
I ordered 3 on sale and they are creamy, nourishing, highly scented and get my skin clean without drying or irritating my sensitive skin. Even better--these have so far been non-irritating on the boys when I pour a tiny bit in their tub.
Second choice in the category is a dead heat, so I'm declaring it a tie between Coconut Hut Surf's Up Body Wash and Bath and Infused Tea Infused Body Wash. Both are of very similar consistency. They are lightly scented, cleanse effectively without drying normal or combination skin types, and are both better used with a loofah. I like both as bubble baths.
BEST OVERALL TARTS
This was hard. I have 2 tart sellers who share this award: Starring...! Fragrances and Candles from the Keeping Room.
Both are two of the more affordable options on the market without sacrificing quality. You'll get 2-3 burnings from each tart, scent throw is wonderful, and the scents are true to their description. I love the fact that Starring...! tarts are 100% soy. I like that fact that she provides wonderful tarts from $1 each (and at 2 ounces, this is a steal). That being said, my first tart orders (when they were smaller) were more strongly scented and lasted longer.
Don't get me wrong--they still smell heavenly and I will continue to buy them because they're truly better in green terms for our home.
If you're not choosy about paraffin vs. soy, then the strongest and truest ones on the market are Candles from the Keeping Room. Highly scented, you only need 1/2 a tart in the burner and that tart will last you 2-3 days and fill the whole downstairs as well as a good portion of the second floor. I am torn here because I love, love these tarts, but know that the fact that they contain paraffin can't make them my clear cut winner (this is a green-focused blog, remember).
Second place in this category goes to Cocoa Pink. Their tarts are smaller than the first two, but the scent throw is nice and they're renewable soy.
BEST TART SCENT I'VE TRIED in 2008
My most favorite is no longer available. This was Fruity Funnel Cake from Starring...! Fragrances and I loved it soooo much! Since this isn't made any longer, I had to choose a new BEST scent, and that prize easily can be awarded to Candles from the Keeping Room for Carol's Vanilla Iced Cinnamon Rolls scent. It smells exactly as the name implies, lasts a good 3 days, and is just exquisite!
Some great items didn't have a category perhaps because that item was the ONLY one I liked in the category, or simply because they might not be things I use all the time. These great products deserve to be mentioned, though!
Bathed and Infused Scrub Bar in Cremasse--this rich cocoa butter scrub bar melts right into your skin as it scrubs away the dryness. The scent is divine as well! It's the only scrub bar I have ever really loved!
Bathed and Infused The Pin Up belongs in its own special category. In all fairness, I adore bakery scent blends, rich vanillas, and other gourmands. In the summer, though, I am known to stray and wear some gardenia blends, as this floral note (along with tuberose) is my favorite to wear. I may not be able to fairly judge this right now because when it's snowy and frigid in Upstate New York, the last thing I spritz on is a floral. That being said, this scent has cured beautifully since it arrived in my mailbox earlier this month and it will be a must-have for me in the spring and summer. I don't generally like musks, but this gardenia is blended exquisitely with a hint of musk and is a gem!
Cleanse Your Soul Creamy Oil--a simply fabulous very light summer moisturizer! Try it in Coral Sugar or Pink Satsuma for a hot and humid day!
Cocoa Pink Junket Creme Conditioner--I am just trying this over the past few days and love it thus far! A rich textured conditioner which helps soothe fried ends without weighing down the hair.
The Coconut Hut Big Kahuna Body Butter--scented in White Chocolate Dream Cake -- you just need to try it!
Another thought...I am impressed with so many great products out there today and applaud those companies who've chosen to completely eliminate parabens (and those who've begun phasing them out) and other harmful ingredients. Bravo to you.