In my little world, self-care is often one of the first things to fall by the wayside when life gets hectic. And just to be clear, when I say “self-care” I don’t mean yoga or meditation or trips to the spa (because let’s face it, I don’t do those things anyway) — I mean basic things like showering or going to the dentist or brushing my teeth. That’s me, friends … I get overwhelmed by minutiae and am pretty gross a lot of the time.
Case in point: until recently, I hadn’t washed my face in years.
I had an unfortunate experience a decade ago with one of those shi-shi department store brands, which I won’t name here but I promise you’ve heard of it. This brand has some pretty dedicated enthusiasts and I’m sure it works wonders for those people, but it made my skin feel like it was going to melt right off my face. Rather than just trying something else, I did the not-at-all sensible thing and swore off facial products forever. Since then I’ve only occasionally splashed water on my face to clean it, and trusted the shower to take care of the rest.
But, friends. I’m grown now and even though life’s busy, I really do need to start washing my darned face because seeeeriously. It’s just time.
Over the past couple of months I’ve had the pleasure of trying out a few products from Sola Skincare, a local-to-me (Metro Vancouver, woot!) company that makes natural skincare products infused with Chinese herbs. Sola is a family-run business, which makes it all the more endearing because everyone loves families, right? And this particular family makes awesome stuff — everything from facial cleansers to deodorant to baby bum balm. Have I mentioned I work exclusively with people who are amazing? It’s in my contract.
Just kidding. I don’t have a contract. I’m nowhere near that professional.
Sola Skincare review
The situation: my face before Sola
So, here’s the deal with my skin: it’s pretty sensitive and tends to react angrily to things that aren’t water. In addition, I have reached that delightful age (36, for anyone who’s counting — hi Mum!) where my face is dull and weathered but still manages to bless me with the occasional breakout, because remember when you were a teenager and they promised one day you’d grow up and your acne and awkwardness would magically disappear? It was a damn dirty lie. Especially the part about the awkwardness.
Sola sent me their Calendula & Rose Happy Face Kit, which includes Calendula & Rose Cleansing Grains, Rose Hydrosol and Balancing Face Oil. According to Sola’s website, this kit is suited to “sensitive, dry or aging skin” which is perfect for me because not only is my skin quite sensitive but I am also extremely old. I also tried the Coconut Deodorant, which is a top seller and gets rave reviews.
The package arrived at my house, and the products were so pretty I almost didn’t want to mess them up by using them. Eventually I did crack them open, but not before taking a few photos on my deck for posterity (and, you know, this review).
The process: using Sola’s Happy Face Kit
Calendula & Rose Cleansing Grains
These grains use oats, goat milk, rose and calendula to gently clean and exfoliate the skin. I’d never heard of cleansing grains before, so I was a little intimidated by the idea. I wasn’t too sure what to do with this — but luckily I’m very good at following instructions as printed on bottles of skincare products. All you have to do is mix a half-teaspoon of the grains with a little water to make a paste, then scrub it on your face. I thought this sounded a bit involved, but it’s really not all that different from using soap … which I guess I also see as “involved” since I’m so lazy about washing my face. But for you, it probably won’t seem that way because you have much better personal hygiene than I do.
The grains were a tad messier to use than soap, but they felt nice on my skin — exfoliate-y without being harsh. So far so good.
This one was my favourite. It’s a toner, but it isn’t alcohol-based like some others I’ve tried so it wasn’t drying. It smelled incredible (roses!) and was so refreshing to spritz on. I also felt ever-so-delicately classy using it, for some reason. Like only very refined ladies with flawless skin could possibly use something so elegant, so the fact that I use it obviously makes me a very refined lady.
Now that I wash my face, I mean.
Balancing Face Oil
Sola’s balancing face oil uses a blend of essential oils and Chinese herbs to hydrate and nourish the skin. Real talk: I was super hesitant to put oil on my face, because oil. Who puts oil on their face, on purpose?! But I did it anyway, in the name of science.
The oil was surprisingly light, and absorbed right into my skin. I didn’t need much, either — just a few drops for my whole face. It was so much more hydrating than regular moisturizer, which tends to just sit on top of my skin and feel greasy. At one point I had a nasty cold and this was the only thing that soothed my poor schnozz after weeks of abuse with scratchy tissues. The oil has an earthy, grassy aroma and is a nice finishing touch after using the cleansing grains and hydrosol.
This might have had something to do with my ten-year face-washing hiatus, but I honestly noticed an immediate difference in my skin the very first time I used the Happy Face Kit. My face felt smooth, soft, and clean — and more importantly, very much not like it was going to fall off. I’ve been using the kit almost daily ever since and haven’t had a reaction. I’m not sure if the change is visible, but my skin definitely feels better and healthier. Sometimes I just want to touch it a bunch … which probably doesn’t help with the breakouts, but hey.
Here’s the after picture (note: Sola’s products will not make you less tired if your kid woke up at 4:00am):
… and the Coconut Deodorant!
You didn’t think I’d forget about the deodorant, did you? It just seemed like a separate thing so I made it its own section.
Sola’s coconut deodorant is made with coconut oil, baking soda, arrowroot powder, sweet almond oil infused with Chinese herbs, and beeswax. That’s seriously it. There’s nothing unpronounceable, except maybe the names of the herbs if your Mandarin isn’t up to par (mine definitely isn’t).
Despite the rave reviews on their website, I was skeptical. Skepticism is just how I roll, apparently — especially when it comes to potential misplaced faith resulting in body odour. I was careful to test this out on a weekend, just to avoid becoming the office pariah in the event of a spectacular failure.
But, you guys … it worked.
It worked so well.
I made Justin try it too, just for good measure, since he’s smellier than me and his job is much more physical. And it worked sooooo well.
The best part was how it didn’t really have a scent at all. I just smelled like me, but without any B.O. And it held out all day long. I was so impressed, it was all I could do not to just invite random people to smell my pits.
Consider me a convert.
Epilogue (alternate section title: After the Final Rose Hydrosol, because I can’t resist the opportunity to sneak in a Bachelor reference)
After two months, I’m still using all these products and I love them. Even though they come in relatively small quantities, the fact that you only need a tiny amount means they last a long time. I still have quite a bit left after two months of fairly frequent use. You might run out faster if you’re a bit more religious about using them daily, or if you use the facial products on your neck and chest as well (I didn’t) … or maybe if you have a really big face. Anyway, Sola’s products are small but mighty, like a pygmy hippo*. Plus you can feel good about using them because they’re all natural, they’re made with love by awesome local folks, and they actually work.
Try Sola products for yourself and get 15% off!
Check out Sola Skincare’s website to shop their amazing products! Use coupon code THISSLOWPROCESS to get 15% off your online order until June 30, 2017 (see? A discount just for you! I told you they were wonderful). Then you can wash your face too, just like me.
Look at us — we’re face-washers now. So adult.
Or enter the giveaway and get stuff for free!
Andandand! Because they are extra generous folks, Sola has partnered with me to give one lucky reader their Essential Care Kit ($50 value) for free. The kit includes Sola’s Soft Skin Balm, Bare Bum Balm, and the very magical Coconut Deodorant featured in this review. Check out the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway, which is open to Canadian and U.S. residents.
The giveaway closes April 2 (12:00am Pacific Time), so get your entries in now. I’ll draw a winner at random on April 2 and email you if you’re it.
I hope you win! You deserve it.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
* I may have been to the zoo recently.
DISCLOSURE: Sola Skincare sent me their Happy Face Kit and Coconut Deodorant free of charge, in exchange for my honest review. They also provided the Essential Care Kit as a giveaway prize — but they didn’t send me that, they’re going to send it directly to the winner. I don’t have it so please don’t show up at my house asking for it, even if you win the giveaway (and especially if you don’t win because that would be extra weird and stalker-y). All opinions in this post are my own, because they’re the only ones I have.