Our June Favorites at Whole Foods

You’ve probably seen bottles of Alaffia’s now-ubiquitous African Black Soap in the aisles of your local health food store, or perhaps you read our previous review of the wildly popular multipurpose natural soap. It's trending for good reason—it’s the best all-around shower soap I’ve ever used—but it’s an even better purchase when you factor in what the company making it is all about.

Alaffia products center on one key ingredient: shea butter that’s been fairly traded from partner cooperatives in West Africa. The company, which transforms the raw ingredients into finished products in Washington state, was founded 11 years ago to help empower these West African communities and help alleviate poverty. To this end, they have programs that focus on maternal health, reforestation, and schools. 

They also collect used bicycles and donate them to rural areas where it is particularly difficult for children to get to school. They’ve gifted the community more than 6,300 bikes so far, boosting school attendance as a result. Santa Cruz area readers can pitch in to this cause on Sunday, June 28, when the Whole Foods Santa Cruz store (911 Soquel Ave.) will host a bike drive for Alaffia from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. If you don’t have a bike to donate, consider giving back by buying one of Alaffia’s GOOD Soap bars for just $1.

Which brings me to this month’s installment of our ongoing collaboration with Whole Foods. I’m focusing the June picks (with one tiny, shiny exception) on this fantastic company and a few of their must-try products:

  • Alaffia Beautiful Curls Enhancing Shampoo 
  • Alaffia Beautiful Curls Enhancing Leave-In Conditioner
  • Alaffia GOOD Soap Bar
  • Alaffia's Everyday Coconut Body Lotion

I’ve tried and loved them all. The shampoo and conditioner, in particular, have been a revelation for this curly-headed writer.

My last pick for June, and the only item in the bunch that doesn’t hail from Alaffia headquarters, is Mineral Fusion’s Liquid Lip Gloss. This company is on a serious roll: they’ve long since won me over with their “blonzer,” concealer duo, brush-on sun defense powder and more. Their new lip gloss shades needed to do little else than shimmer from the center of the Mineral Fusion display to convince me that I needed to give one a try. “Delicate” is a sexy nude pink with the glistening sheen of a lip gloss and the feel of a nourishing lip balm (none of that sticky sensation left behind by too many glosses).

Learn more about Alaffia here, or in this video.

A Valentine's Day Vow

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to make the leap and commit. To natural beauty products, that is. Whether you’ve never considered making the switch to natural, eco-friendly products or you are halfway there already, show yourself (and the planet) some love this V-Day and give it a shot.

WHY: In a nutshell, the toxic ingredients in most products are worrisome because they wash down our shower and sink drains and into the environment and can absorb through our skin and into our own precious bodies.

WHAT: The “dirty dozen” (a.k.a. ingredients to definitely avoid) include parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol, formaldehyde, synthetic chemicals, and artificial fragrances. If you’re up for it, kick your compassion and eco cred up a notch by avoiding products tested on animals or containing animal-derived ingredients.

If you gave up on all-natural products in the past because you couldn’t find some that worked, try again—the options are growing and improving at an incredible rate.

HOW: Spare yourself from having to endlessly scan labels for these toxic ingredients by visiting a local retailer of natural products. In the Santa Cruz area, there are even a few events on the horizon to help you ease into a new routine.

The “Make the Switch” sale at Whole Foods in Capitola (Feb. 13-17). All makeup and nail polish will be 30 percent off to make converting a little bit more affordable. Brands include Mineral Fusion, Zuzu, and Dr Hauschka. You can also stop by the store to pre-select your makeup items between Feb. 1 and 12.

“Love Your Body—Product Making Class” with local ayurvedic practioner and nutritionist Tayla Lutzker. Learn how to make natural body care products that boost immunity, stimulate your lymphatic system (read about the beauty benefits of this in this prior Penny Rose post), help maintain healthy weight and more. Go home with “hydrating from the outside-in” body oil and a rose face crème. Westside New Leaf Community Market, Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. $45. Newleaf.com.

jane iredale Makeup Instruction Class. If you want to know how to get dolled up for Valentine’s with natural products, try reserving a spot in one of two 90-minute sessions with a certified jane iredale makeup professional on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 1 or 3 p.m at Staff of Life Market (staffoflifemarket.com).

To learn more about natural products and how to make your own, I recommend picking up a copy of Organic Body Care Recipes by Stephanie  Tourles. (See review here.) 

Image: lacedivory.com