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DIY Tutorial for Creating your Own Embellished Denim Jacket

Because pearls make everything better…

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I have been seeing a lot of fun ways to revamp denim jackets lately. From decorating jackets with words and phrases to adding my favorite glam accessory, pearls, for this post I am sharing a do-it-yourself embellished denim tutorial.  It is the is perfect project to work on during long days at home and what a better time than spring to breathe creative life into your old denim pieces.

You can decorate denim jackets or jeans (I added pearls to my daughter’s denim jumpsuit as well). To create this denim jacket look, you will need the following:

-A denim jacket (I used an oversized jacket I purchased at a thrift store.)

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For Pearl Embellishments

-Pearl beads (I recommend using assorted size pearls. I purchased this pack at Michaels.)

-Pencil or chalk (to mark the placement of pearls on your jacket)

-Sewing needle

-White thread

For Hand Painted Words

-Paint brush

-White fabric paint

-Black fabric paint (aerosol fabric spray paint works well for covering a large surface)

-Tape (optional)

First, it is helpful to start with a blue print for your design, so use your pencil or chalk to mark the placement of your pearls on your jacket. After threading your needle, sew your first pearl onto your jacket by pulling your needle from the inside of the jacket through the outside. Pull the needle through one end of your pearl and out through the other side of the pearl.

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Next, sew your thread back through the inside of your denim jacket. Create the second hole a short distance away from the first hole you made (as pictured below). Congrats! The first part of the stitch is complete. This is not enough to secure the pearl, however, so repeat this process again, this time bringing your needle back through the same side you just pulled it through. Pull the needle through your pearl again and back through the other side of the jacket (It will be on the side of your first hole now.)

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Repeat this process for a total of four times (pulling the needle through the outside of the jacket, through one side of the pearl, out the other side of the pearl, and back through the inside of the jacket). After the fourth time, double (or triple) knot your thread on the inside of your jacket (shown in the picture below) and cut the string. Repeat this process for each pearl.

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It took me a few hours to complete the front of my jacket, so plan accordingly to complete this project. The larger pearls also take a little more time to sew on. The finished look for the front of my jacket is below.

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For the back of the jacket, I followed the steps below.

Again, I started with a blue print by drawing the design on a piece of paper. I wanted to create a chalk board look, so I used black as the background and painted white letters. To make the black panel, I created the boundaries using scotch tape. This helped me to paint straight lines for the panel and ensured the spray paint would stay within the designated area.

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I allowed the black paint to dry (fabric paint dries pretty quickly) and then used tape again to guide the lines for painting the words. I used an excerpt from feminist scholar, bell hooks, as the inspiration for the quote on my jacket. Hand paint your words onto your jacket and then your look is complete.

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I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Share your thoughts on this look in the comments below, or post any questions you may have. If you create an embellished denim look using my tutorial, share them with me on Instagram at @ayannainbloom. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more DIY fashion tutorials.

Be well ❤

 

 

Your Guide to Statement Sleeves: Sleeves to Try Now

Serving sleeves because sleeves are the secret sauce 😉

I was watching a film set in the 1800s recently and was captivated by the costume design. The full and delicate sleeves on the dresses from the Romantic Period were breathtaking. I then realized that the sleeves in the film looked similar to the sleeves on many blouses in my own wardrobe today. It seems like the possibilities for creating statement sleeves are endless. Sharp lines and exaggerated sleeve lengths, for example, can create a futuristic feel, while soft puffs can create nostalgic silhouettes. From classic ruffles to bishop and flounce sleeves, statement sleeves are trending.

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I purchased this oversized puff sleeve top here and styled it with an old wrap skirt, combat boots, and fish net stockings. It is a little vintage and a little rock.

Check out my top picks for statement sleeves that you should try in 2020.

The Puff Sleeve

The Cut Out Shoulder

The Bishop Sleeve

Exaggerated Sleeve Lengths

Ruffle Sleeves

And last, but not least…

The Bell Sleeve

Which sleeve style is your favorite? Thanks for reading! Subscribe to my newsletter and receive regular style tips on the latest in fashion.

 

A Mixed Print Look for the Work Place

Style is a way of communicating without words.

I love putting creative looks together for the work place and for this post, I am sharing some mixed prints style inspiration for your work place wardrobe.

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Sleeves are the secret sauce for adding flair to ordinary tops. I am excited that some of my favorite styles of sleeves, like balloon and peasant sleeves, are popular styles right now. The balloon sleeves on this oversized top, for example, instantly transform the look of a plain white blouse. As I mentioned, this is a great look to transition to after work affairs. The top can be styled in multiple ways, including tying a knot in the front for a more casual look.

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I paired the top with mid waist plaid pants. These pants provide an upgrade to my typical work place trousers. During colder months, try pairing your ankle length trousers with boots or booties. I decided to add a dramatic contrast to this look by styling my pants with my snake print boots, which have the same color scheme as my pants.

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To complete this mixed prints look, I wore my cozy leopard print coat. It is another contrast, but again the colors are complementary to the overall flow of the outfit. A leopard print coat has also been on my style list for the season and I purchased this one at 40% off of the original price.

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I hope you enjoyed this post and found some ideas for your work place looks. Stay for a while and subscribe to my blog to receive more style inspiration and style tips. Also, share your thoughts on this look below!

Outfit Details: Plaid Pants: ASOS || Leopard Print Coat: Anthropologie || Boots: Vince Camuto || Blouse: Who What Wear at Target (similar look here.)

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Slip into the New Year in Snake Print Shoes

Hello there and Happy New Year! Snake skin has always been a hit or miss style for me, with a lot of misses. While I am not typically drawn to this print, the overall design makes a huge difference and, depending on how it is styled, snake print can create a chic look.

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For example, I put this casual look together with a pair of mid calf snake print booties by Vince Camuto. I purchased them with a great end of the year discount at DSW. The color scheme is neutral, so I paired them with high waist jeans and a super comfortable puff sleeve sweater by H&M Conscious.

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Are you interested in incorporating snake print shoes into your wardrobe and looking for ways to style them? From pumps to flats and sneakers, for this post, I am showing my top snake print shoe picks in five diverse looks from around the web.

Baldwin Flats

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Photo by Anthropologie

Pointed toe flats are versatile, classic, and pair nicely with jeans for a casual look. You can elevate this casual look to business casual by pairing them with a neutral colored blazer. These shoes would also compliment a sweater dress during the cooler months.

Chie Mihara Vache Heels

Photo by Anthropologie

Are you looking for a more subtle way to incorporate snake skin? If so, an accent heel is a great choice for those desiring to still make a statement. These pumps, with the velvet upper, would pair well with a cocktail dress for an evening look.

Lizbeth Loafer by ABLE

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Photo by ABLE

I love the versality and comfort of loafers. These snake print flats are another bolder choice, but still appropriate for the work place. For a work place look, they would pair nicely with slacks or a pencil skirt worn with a blouse or sweater.

Suede Heart Snake Lux Women’s Sneakers

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Photo by Puma

You can obviously style these sneakers by Puma with joggers and other casual attire. Sneakers are not limited to traditionally casual pieces, however. Try pairing these shoes with a slip dress or silky slip skirt for a carefree and stylish look. The satin bow on these shoes add a feminine accent as well and another reason to pair them with a contrasting dressy piece.

Snake High Top Sneakers

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Photo by Anthropologie

Snake print can be tasteful in colorful patterns as well. Last but not least, if you are looking for a colorful choice in snake skin sneakers, look no further than this high top pair by Vintage Havana.

I hope you enjoy these styles as much as I do. How do you feel about wearing snake print? Which look is your favorite?

 

 

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Stylish and Trendy Pieces that Make a Social Statement

November is always a busy month for me. It is my daughter’s birth month and is also filled with annual travel for conferences in my field (I had four presentations this month in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Minneapolis, Minnesota). My presentations, though all on different topics were connected through a common thread: uplifting participatory approaches and equity in research. “Equity” is a hot topic in my field of public health, but it is more than just term to sprinkle on top of research agendas, like Salt Bae, it is a concept that can be operationalized at every stage in the research process.

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Similarly, we can also embody equity and promote social ideals through our choices in fashion. While we typically think of statement pieces in fashion as dramatic and eye-catching, I believe that wardrobes should also include social statement pieces as well. For my last presentation, I wanted to embody the principles I was discussing through my outfit. For this post, I am sharing what I wore to make my social statement, including how I scored these designer pieces at lower retail prices.

My skirt is made by the ethically produced fashion brand and social enterprise, Studio 189. Studio 189 was cofounded by Rosario Dawson and  Abrima Erwiah and the collection features high-end, artisan-made, and African-inspired clothing produced in Ghana using recycled and natural fibers, like organic cotton and lyocell. My skirt was made using natural indigo dyeing and clothing by Studio 189 features other traditional craftsmanship techniques, like batik dyeing. In addition to creating beautiful and well made pieces, I love that this company focusses on elevating traditional craftsmanship, creating job opportunities and skills training, as well as education.

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I paired this skirt with a blouse made by one of my favorite designers, Mara Hoffman. While Mara Hoffman’s designs feature a signature celebration of patterns and colors, I was happy to find this white blouse, made from organic cotton, with this accent bow tied across the front. In 2015, Mara Hoffman committed to more sustainable practices and the brand exemplifies responsible and transparent production practices, fair trade employment, and they also use organic and recycled/regenerated materials.

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I completed the look with an old pair of brown over the knee boots. I restyled the blouse and skirt below for a more casual look, by layering the top with a grey cropped sweater and platform oxfords.

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As I mentioned, I purchased these designer pieces at sale prices from a website called, The Garmetory. The Garmetory has become one of my go-to sites for discovering indie designers and also exploring ethnically made clothing and accessories from boutiques across the United States and other countries as well. I sometimes find great deals on designer pieces listed at sale prices. I recommend this site for anyone looking to discover ethical brands and indie fashion designers.

 

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned about some new social statement pieces to incorporate into your wardrobe and where to buy them. Have a wonderful week!

 

 

 

 

 

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Fall Essentials – Everything You Need this Season

3AF0554F-BDA2-4684-8C12-A43C9AF72C0DTis the season for chunky knits, layers, and textures…

I traveled to West Virginia earlier this week and the beautiful foliage I was surrounded by resembled paintings of fall trees with rich brown and deep orange hues. It was a subtle, but definitive declaration that is was finally fall. I adore fall fashion and for this post, I am sharing my fall essentials with everything you need to transition into cooler weather and where to buy it.

First, here is a fall inspired #ootd.

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Check out the list below of my top fall essentials.

Wrap Front Skirt

The wrap front skirt is one of my top picks for fall. It was a popular look for summer, but can also be styled with blouses, sweaters, as well as more casual tops, making it a versatile piece for fall as well. The skirt below is available through H&M’s Conscious Collection and is made from Lyocell denim. I love that Lyocell is an eco friendly, but also affordably priced, alternative material.

Ballo Wood Frames

Lyocell Wrapover Skirt – Denim by H&M

 

 

Balloon Sleeve Sweater

Sweaters are an inevitable stable for any fall wardrobe. The balloon sleeve is my favorite style, however, because it adds a dramatic, yet chic, accent to a traditional cable knit. The J. Crew sweater below pairs well with high waist jeans for a casual look and would also work well with patterned trousers for the work place.

Here is a sustainable option from H&M’s Conscious Collection that also provides a balloon sleeve look that is a bit more exaggerated.

Leopard Skirt

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I shared this look on a previous post, but leopard is a must have print on my fall list. I am particularly excited by the slip skirt interpretation of the leopard print trend.

Velvet Midi Skirt

From pants (like the pants I am wearing in this post), to blazers, and skirts – Corduroy is always on my fall list. This year, I am most looking forward to wearing cozy corduroy midi skirts, like this pick from Anthropologie by Maeve.

V -Cut Pumps or Mules

My list would be incomplete without my top pick for fall shoes. This season, my favorite style of shoes are V-Cut. Whether mules or pumps, the v-cut makes a chic and sophisticated statement. Charles & Keith has my favorite shoes in this style.

 

I hope you enjoyed this list of my fall essentials. Which fall look is your favorite?

 

My Outfit Details: Turtleneck Top: H&M || Corduroy Pants: || Of Her Own Kind||Metallic Boots: Silent D (old)

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Indigo Blue – Dyeing Fabrics Naturally with Plant Dyes

There are a variety of plants, like avocados and even onions, that can be used to create organic dyes for clothing. The indigo plant been used for centuries to dye fabrics.

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Last weekend, I attended an indigo dyeing workshop during the Slow Fashion Symposium in Atlanta. During the workshop, l learned all about the process of preparing indigo leaves into a usable vat for dyeing and dyed a garment using the indigo.

The instructors for my workshop grew the indigo we used themselves. After the indigo pigment is extracted from the leaves of the plant, it is used to create a liquid dye solution, or the vat.

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You’ve probably observed a range of patterns on fabrics dyed using indigo. I started with a white shirt I’ve wanted to refashion because of a large permanent stain it has on one sleeve. Dyeing the shirt was a perfect alternative to discarding it. There are a variety of ways to create patterns, including wrapping and binding the fabric with bands and clips. I used clothes pins to bind the shirt and to create the square-like patterns that resulted.

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After creating my pattern, I began the dyeing process by soaking my shirt in the bucket of water to make it fully porous to receive the dye. The next steps included soaking the top in the vat bucket for a few minutes and then removing the shirt from the dye, allowing it to sit for few minutes. As the shirt sits, the dye oxidizes and the color changes from a green to the blue hue. With each dip into the vat, the color becomes darker, so I repeated this process about four times until I achieved my desired shade of blue.  Working with indigo is a very hands-on process. While my shirt was soaking in the vat, I gently moved it around in the bucket and massaged the dye into the fabric.

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I was amazed by the beautiful blue hues and patterns created by everyone in my workshop. My own creation is below.

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Working with the indigo dye was relaxing and it was also fun to transform an old top into something completely new.  For this causal Friday look, I styled my shirt with high waist jeans and accessorized with green pieces, including a green beaded necklace, bucket purse, and shoes.

I hope you enjoyed learning about indigo dyes, as a natural way to dye fabrics. Thank you for reading and subscribe to my newsletter for regular updates.

 

 

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Styling the Leopard Midi Skirt

Leopard print is my neutral…

The leopard print midi skirt is a fall trend that combines two of my fall fashion favorites – leopard print and the slip skirt. For this post, I am sharing tips on styling this trend and also sharing my favorite leopard print midi skirts from around the web to fit into your budget.

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Slip skirts are versatile enough to incorporate into your nine to five, after work, or casual weekend wardrobe. I put this look together for work, so I aimed to keep the outfit simple and chic. Leopard print is a bold statement and I used both the style and color scheme of my top and accessories to set the tone. I paired the skirt with a cream colored ruffled blouse. It has a black bow at the collar, which coordinated nicely with the colors in my skirt. For cooler temperatures, you can also pair the skirt with a neutral oversized knit sweater for another chic look.

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I am a bit daring when it comes to my fashion choices and I wanted to add some color to this look without becoming distracting. I used my purse to add a dash of color. It is a denim bucket bag with accented African print fabric. A plain black purse, however, would also work well with this look. I completed the look with block-heel black pumps, one of my go-to shoes for work.

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For a more casual look with the leopard print midi skirt, try pairing the skirt with  sneakers or casual flats and a graphic t-shirt.

I was surprised to find many sold out options when searching around the web for skirts in this style, but here are a few of my top picks.

This Nasty Gal skirt is perfect for a casual look.

The Anthropologie midi skirt is chic and the subtle front split makes it a perfect choice for a date night look.

This skirt made by Zara is fun and would be perfect for a girls night out.

Last, but not least, is an ethically made selection by Reformation.

I hope you enjoyed this post and discovered some ways to style this skirt. How do you feel about the leopard print midi? Would you wear this look to work? Share your thoughts below!

Outfit Details: Skirt – Urban Outfitters || Blouse – Zara || Shoes – Anne Klein || Purse – Dr.Pachanga

 

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South African Designer Series Part III – Sustainable and Ethical Fashion with Ballo

See things differently.

Hello readers! I am back with the final post in my three part series on South African designers. The company featured in this post has an ethical approach to creating fashion, but also experiments with innovative uses of materials. While I saved this company for last, they are certainly not the least favorite among the South African designers I learned about this summer.

While exploring the Watershed artisan market in Cape Town, it was the stylish sunglasses and “Sustainable Gangster” tee that first caught my eye in this store. Ballo creates their handmade eyewear from recycled or upcycled wood, hemp, and African fabric materials.

Ballo Wood Frame Sunglasses

You may be wondering how wood could be manipulated to make a product comfortable enough to wear as eyewear (I certainly was curious). Well, Ballo created a material they call, Eyewood.  It is a combination of wood veneer offcuts, sourced from local furniture producers, bio-resin and recycled paper. The result is durable and stylish eyewear with a comfortable fit.

Ballo African Fabric Sunglasses

Ballo Polarized African Fabric Sunglasses -$209

Ballo started  in 2013 with eyewear, but has expanded over the years to offer other unisex goods, which are made locally to support job creation. Here are my favorites from their slow fashion collection.

Ballo Sustainable Gangster Tshirt

Ballo Sustainable Gangster Tshirt – $40

The Sustainable Gangster tee and the T-dress are made from hemp and organic cotton.

Ballo Womens Tshirt Dress

Ballo T-dress – $90

Ballo makes jewelry as well, like the wood and African print earrings I purchased below. Unfortunately, the wood earrings are not yet available online, but the other items in this post are available for purchase on their website.

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I hope you have enjoyed this series on South African fashion and discovered some new designers to add to your wardrobe. It is the end of summer in the states and I’ll be sharing my fall staples, including a few new indie designers with ethical clothing lines.

South African Fashion Series Part II: The Perfect Summer Dress

Walking through The Watershed in Cape Town and spotting this boutique was love at first sight.

From the vibrant colors and prints to the fitted bodice and full skirt, it was as if the designer had masterfully created the perfect all-occasion summer dress.  The Nama Collection was at the top of my purchase list during my trip to South Africa and is the featured brand for Part II of my South African Fashion series.

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The Nama Collection was created by Ugandan born and South Africa-based fashion designer and model, Patricia Namayirira. Namayirira combines African fabrics with modern designs to develop her collection, which includes a range of pieces from dresses to shorts and pants sets. Her design style embraces the growing movement to honor tradition and authenticity while moving into modern aesthetics. Her pieces are not only stunning, but are made with ethnically sourced fabrics from across the continent of Africa.

This dress is cut in one of my favorite styles for dresses. The neckline is flattering and the silhouette creates a regal daytime look. It is appropriate attire for a variety of occasions, including both casual and slightly formal daytime outings. For the work place, try pairing it with a cardigan or summer linen blazer to create a business casual look.

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If you ever visit Cape Town, do not leave without spending at least a few hours exploring The Watershed artisan market at the V&A Waterfront. Be sure to stop by the Nama Collection boutique, which is located inside the market. You can also shop the Nama Collection online.

I hope you enjoyed discovering another talented fashion designer in South Africa. Stay tuned for the third part of  my South African Fashion Series!

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Create Festive Summer Looks with DIY Bow Tops and the Best Summer Visors

DIY fashion meets function this summer…

Bow front tops are a perfect pick for summer festivals and even to find some relief during summer heat waves. Did you know that you can easily transform your long sleeve button down top into a DIY front bow top? For this style hack post, I am sharing how to easily create a bow front top, along with sharing my favorite visor hats from around the web. Put these two pieces together to create a festive summer look.

To create your own bow front top, start with any loose fitting button down shirt.

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  1. Drape the unbuttoned top off your shoulders
  2. Grasp the bottom of the shirt and begin to tie the ends of the shirt together.
  3. Pull the tie tightly until it creates a look similar to triangle cups, like in the picture below.

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4. Once you achieve the desired shape, finish tying the bow tie to secure the top.

5. If the top has extra ties, like the shirt in this post, pull the ties around your waist and tie them in the front to create another accent.

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I paired the top with high waist shorts, purchased here, and flat black spiked sandals, purchased here.

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I completed this look with my straw visor, purchased here. A straw sun visor is one of my summer essentials. I rounded up my favorite summer straw sun visors from around the web and here are my top picks.

I hope you enjoyed this post and learned some new ways to style your tops for summer! Subscribe to my newsletter to receive regular fashion and style inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Achieve Your Summer Glow with All Natural and Vegan Skin Care Products

It has been some years since I traded my household and skin care products in for all natural products. It was a lifestyle decision to consciously mirror my physical environment to the internal environment I maintained through my plant-based diet. I also knew that we can be exposed to environmental toxicants through our every day products that can have harmful effects on our health, the environment, and lead to disease and illness over time. Since then, I’ve kept my skin care routine pretty simple, but I still enjoy exploring all natural skin care products. Continuing with my summer South Africa series, I purchased a few skin care products during my visit and for this post I am sharing my experience with these products so far.

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Rain

Rain is a South African, certified fair trade company that produces all natural, handmade beauty and body products that are created with indigenous plant extracts. We visited their store in Cape Town, which was filled with a range of products that were both beautifully made and fragrant. For years, I have primarily used grapeseed oil as my go-to skin care product for moisturizing, but I highly recommend the body butter bars at Rain. The body butter bars are made in a variety of fun shapes, like the sea shell pictured below. The one I selected smells deliciously sweet and aromatic, is soothing and moisturizing, and can be smoothed directly onto wet or dry skin. I brought a few other products back as gifts as well, including their artisan-made glycerin soaps, and organic scented sachets  for home fragrance.

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Kafui Naturals

I happened upon Kafui Naturals during a visit to the Friday evening Bay Harbor Market in Cape Town. The line features all natural products, ranging from hair care products to facial cleansers and butters. Most of the products are vegan as well. I was also happy to support the small local business, which was created by Kafui Awoonor. I have been using the face oil for over a month now and I can not say enough positive things about it. From the fragrance to the use of some of my favorite oils, like grapeseed, moringa, and jojoba oil, it is definitely a product that has been added to my skin care routine. The ideal of putting oils on your face may seem counterproductive to achieving a clear complexion and blemish free skin, especially if you have oily skin, but dry oils are light, absorb quickly, and are filled with numerous essential fatty acids. This face oil uses a combination of dry and wet oils, so it does not leave your skin feeling greasy or weighed down. It comes in a 7 ounce bottle, but just a few drops are enough to cover your entire face.

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Africology

Last, but not least is Africology, South Africa’s leading spa brand. Africology uses natural and organic ingredients to create a range of products . The lip balm was a hit with my daughter, as I am always searching for non-toxic lip balm and lip gloss options for her. A unique addition to their list of skin care ingredients is the combination of the African potato and Rooibos. Rooibos is a South African shrub that is commonly served as a delicious, earthy tasting red tea. Rooibos is high in antioxidants, which limit the production of free radicals. It is also high in zinc, which among other properties, is anti-inflammatory. Both of these factors make it an ideal ingredient to add to skin care products.

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I emphasized that all of the brands I shared use natural ingredients and are free of harmful chemicals, but they are also all eco-friendly and cruelty free as well. I hope you enjoyed this post and found a few new skin care products and ingredients to try that are better for you and our planet.