Healthy Products for Your Sustainable Life
On the surface, skin care may seem to be a departure from what I usually write about. But look a little deeper, and you’ll discover that my focus here is evolving to include not only recipes and food, but other topics and products that contribute to a happy, healthy lifestyle as well – with a decided leaning toward those created by local folks in the PNW. And really, in this case, there is some significant overlap, because MaryAnn’s Naturals – a newly launched skin care line that is completely free of preservatives, dyes, and fancy hard-to-pronounce (read: scary) chemicals – is created from ingredients that many of us regularly keep in stock in our own kitchens. In other words, if you had the recipes, you could make them yourself.
I want to put this right out front: the owner of MaryAnn’s Naturals is a long-time personal friend of mine. On the day that she hand-delivered a generous box of her products to my house for review, she shared with me that her husband (and business partner) had remarked to her, “You know, Renée will be honest.” As in, Renée is going to write what she really thinks about it, even if it doesn’t all shake out rainbows and roses. I have to tell you, I take his friendly caution as a great compliment. Because it’s true – I will be unabashedly candid in my review. Nevertheless, for the benefit of the FTC and anyone else who cares, here’s my official disclosure, for the record: Yes, I know the owners of MaryAnn’s Naturals personally. Yes, the aforementioned owners provided me with a box full of free stuff for review. And most importantly, Yes, everything you read here – today and every day – reflects my absolutely true, honest experiences and opinions, unicorns and glitter notwithstanding.
Now, let’s get to it.
This is MaryAnn. I won’t give away her age, but she is older than I am, and you all know I have grandchildren. And I’m 50. No mystery there. This is an unretouched photo of her, and those are her unretouched eyes. MaryAnn has a few beauty secrets: she eats a healthy diet and she lives a clean, healthy lifestyle: she doesn’t drink, smoke or use drugs, and she takes care of herself. And she has Great skin. I mean, look at it! I have pretty awesome skin myself (thanks Mom!) but MaryAnn makes me think I’d better stay on it, and I try to do that products that will be beneficial to my skin (and the rest of me) for the long-term.
The seed for MaryAnn’s Naturals was planted a few years ago, when MaryAnn started reading the labels on beauty products and doing research on the listed ingredients. She was shocked to learn that mainstream beauty products routinely contain chemical ingredients that may be toxic, carcinogenic and disruptive to human hormones. She also learned that skin care products are not subject to pre-market approval by the FDA, meaning that the beauty industry does not have to prove that their ingredients are safe and effective before they begin using them in commercial products. (I got this part straight off her website, and I have to say, this revelation shocked me too.)
After searching for commercial skin care products that were completely chemical-free and realizing that neither government nor industry were really watching out for consumer health and safety, she began making her own products, using only pure, natural and organic ingredients. Each product was personally developed by MaryAnn and is handcrafted in small batches on her farm in rural Scholls, Oregon.
If I could use only one product from MaryAnn’s current product line, hands down it would be her Eye Cream. It goes on like butter (which it is – cocoa butter) and feels like the finest silk. I’m not just saying that either – if you have ever worn silk, you know that feeling when the fabric gently settles and warms to exactly the temperature of your skin and you feel like you are bathing in warm light? MaryAnn’s eye cream feels like that. It melts effortlessly into the fine lines that like to gather in the corners of my eyes, and makes them appear more awake, alive, and youthful.
MaryAnn has mentioned to me on more than one occasion that her Moisture Cream seems to appeal mostly to (as we like to call ourselves) more Mature Women. Women of a certain age. However, even as a teen I had very dry, very sensitive skin, so I can with some authority speak to the fact that it isn’t so much an issue of age as skin type – I would have loved this face cream even back then.
After using MaryAnn’s Moisturizing Cream for about a month, I’ve noticed a few things, most notably, my sensitive skin is not as “pink” throughout the day. I don’t have full-on rosacea, but my skin has always reacted to most skin care products to one degree or another. I’ve used everything from L’Oreal to Clinique to Shiseido over the years, and I can say that of all of these, MaryAnn’s is the only one that didn’t created a pink or red reaction initially. (Honestly, I still love Shiseido – but can you say ouch! on the wallet? And Heaven knows what they put in that stuff. Which is why I gave it up a few years ago.) What I really appreciate about MaryAnn’s Moisture Cream is that there is no tell-tale tingling, cooling sensation when I apply it – rather, it is a smooth, soft feeling that makes me want to touch my face all the time! Which you aren’t really supposed to do, but when your face feels like a newborn’s bum, it’s hard not to.
I did have to adjust my morning routine slightly when I started using MaryAnn’s Moisture Cream and Eye Cream because it takes the moisturizer a few minutes to really absorb into the deeper levels of the skin. I used to moisturize and then immediately put on my make-up. (Probably that’s bad anyway – I don’t know.) Now, I moisturize, do my hair (2 minutes) and get dressed – and then I put on my make-up. It really isn’t a big deal at all. (Bonus observation: I use a light liquid foundation, and I find that when I use MaryAnn’s moisturizer, I use less make-up and it goes on more smoothly.)
So, bottom line, teens and twenty-to-thirty somethings with combination or oily skin may find this Moisture Cream a bit heavy, but if you lean even remotely toward dry or “mature” skin – regardless of your age – I encourage you to give it a try.
MaryAnn makes a moisturizing foot cream as well. I didn’t use it very much, but when I did, I liked how it felt smooth and hydrating without feeling greasy like many foot creams do. It seemed to absorb well, and in the morning I could tell that my feet felt more supple.
One thing to note here is that, because there are no chemical preservatives in any of her products, the creams (eyes, skin and foot) have a shelf-life of about four months.
MaryAnn’s Naturals Lip Balm currently comes in three flavors: Peppermint, Lemon-Coconut and Orange-Vanilla. I really like these balms: they are hydrating and the flavors are very pleasant without being overbearing. (Flash: MaryAnn just let me know this morning that she has a brand new tinted lip balm going online any day now!)
MaryAnn is allergic to aluminum – a main ingredient in most commercial deodorants – and (like all her products) initially developed her deodorant for her own use. This isn’t a product I would likely use on a regular basis, but if I had an aluminum allergy, I would be all over it. The application takes a little getting used to: it is a cream that you put on your fingers and rub under your arm. (Apparently, this is how deodorants were applied back in the days before aerosol cans and later roll-ons.) As for its efficacy, I’m not a “stinky” person by nature: I didn’t even wear deodorant until after having my first child, so I can’t personally speak to the anti-odor abilities of the product for very stinky people. However, I did give MaryAnn’s deodorant a try for the purposes of this review and it seems to work pretty well: I used it before a light workout and afterwards didn’t smell any more or less than I usually do when wearing my regular deodorant. (Yes, I checked. Research, duh.)
This is the only product I wasn’t really excited about, and I think it is a matter of personal taste more than anything else. Currently, MaryAnn’s Massage Oil only comes in lavendar scented, and I am just not a lavender fan. Especially for massages. However, from a practical standpoint, I did like the consistency, and the product itself worked very well: it wasn’t sticky or weird like some massage oils. I’d love to try out a vanilla or almond version.
Product Sampler Kit
Now, you may be saying to yourself, I’d like to give this stuff a try, but I’m not ready to make a financial commitment just yet. Here’s the answer: MaryAnn’s Naturals Product Sampler Kit. This little kit is a genius move on the part of MaryAnn’s Naturals from a marketing standpoint, and a complete win-win for everyone else. For just $5, MaryAnn’s Naturals will send you a Product Sampler Kit that includes a sample of Moisture Cream, Foot Cream, and a lip balm. PLUS a $5 coupon to use on your first order of $15 or more. And did I mention, shipping is FREE? There is just no way to lose on this deal.