Update on a Consumer Post from Last Year

Back in December I posted about three products that I had issues with, and had contacted those responsible. I thought I would update on those items.

First, and most disappointing – Evan Healy. I had purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit from Whole Foods Market in White Plains, NY. The stuff is NOT easy to find on the shelves in Seattle! I had loved it before, and I loved it shortly after I bought it. That was, until, I discovered mold growing in the bottle of Blue Lavender Cleansing Milk. I promptly contacted the company, using the info available on the website. I never heard anything back. Such a shame, too. I was willing to spend the $24.95 for a 4oz bottle of a mostly, if not all, natural face cleanser. Not any more. Customer service means a lot, and I didn’t get any from Evan Healy.

What have I done to replace this? I’ve been using the old stand-by of Clinique Face Soap for Oily Skin . It seems to last forever, and though some will warn about using soap on your face, I find it works quite well for me. For moisture, I’ve been using Aveda All Sensitive Moisturizer.

Second – Luna and Larry’s Coconut Bliss. They’re a regional, vegan, frozen dessert company, and make some delicious stuff. However, on three occasions of buying the Cherry Amaretto, the pint was sometimes as much as a quarter cup empty! It was like the machine that filled it crapped out at the last bit. I let them know what happened, and received a perfectly pleasant email in return, apologizing and offering a gift certificate for my next pint. The certificate never arrived, and I haven’t heard anything since. Thankfully, I’ve found some coconutty alternatives, though not local. So sad!

What have I done to replace this? Purely Decadent Mint Chip is pretty awesome.

Third – the big biz, Marie Claire. I love my trashy women’s fashion mags. I really do. Marie Claire is one of the better ones, in my opinion. However, they failed to deliver my last two issues on time, and only gave me my second to last issue after the next issue was due. No word on what happened with my final issue, and I was so ticked off I didn’t bother renewing. Well, the economy must be hitting them (or something) because I got a mailing from them last week promising two years for less than the discounted cost of one year. Seriously, it’s stupidly cheap and worth my while since it’s the cost of three magazines in an airport for two years worth. I’m still debating signing up, though. It’s a lot of dead trees.

What have I done about this? Well, I attempted to re-up my subscription online, but that didn’t go so well. I have to wait a week to deal with the problems with them due to the time it takes to get it in the system, so – we’ll see. Allegedly, I’ve got issues waiting for me, they just need a good address (I guess my current one was “undeliverable” for some reason. Oh well… we’ll find out soon enough, right?

See previously: Today in Spending.

Today in Spending

A few posts back I talked about how much time and money I spent longing for my favorite face cleanser, the false economy of trying to find suitable replacements, and my new vow to just buy the stuff online when I run out.

Well, now it appears I might still be searching for something else I like as much.

mold in my cleanserYou see, I was towards the end of my little trial sized bottle of Evan Healy’s Blue face cleanser (from the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit), and just days away from ordering more, when I saw on the white cleanser a growth of green mold. I did a double and triple take. Yes, green mold. Growing like a little forest on a blanket of snow.

I’m familiar with this kind of thing happening with natural skin and hair care products. When I worked at Whole Foods Market in the Whole Body Department, we were allowed to basically open any product up for a customer as a “tester” if one didn’t already exist. With some of the products, we did this just so the customer could sniff the product, as that the product had a foil seal for freshness. Those that were left open as testers, sitting on the shelves, would sometimes get a little funky, to say the least.

Natural things degrade, whereas the petro-chemical and other synthetically produced products don’t have to worry about natural oils going rancid, or mold growth because the natural preservatives didn’t do their job. I realize that this is a hazard of natural products, and I can’t fault Evan Healy totally for it, as that expecting a natural thing to NOT degrade is ridiculous. However, I now have product that I’m not going to use, and I’m not sure I want to invest what would be around $100 for the entire cleansing/moisturizing set for a larger bottle of something I know can grow mold.

I sent an email to their customer service night before last, and I hope to hear back from them on what they can offer for piece of mind. I’ve gotten into the habit of letting especially smaller companies know when something unsatisfactory has happened with their product, especially because 1) I like the product and 2) want it to succeed.

Two cases so far have at least gotten a response. The first was from Clear Creek Distillery based in Portland, OR. One of the corks from one of their fine, distilled spirits had broken when we tried to initially open it. I wrote them, and they promptly responded, sending us two corks in the mail. The second was Coconut Bliss, a vegan, coconut based frozen desert also made in Oregon. I emailed them about one of their cartons being only 3/4 full upon purchase. They apologized, and promised a gift certificate for another pint. That never showed up, unfortunately. Also, it happened two times after that, with the same flavor (Cherry Amaretto). The other flavors that Jon picked up at the same time were fine. To say the least, I was disappointed.

Here’s hoping I’ll get a response. Also, Marie Claire, I’m waiting for my missing issues, kthxbai.

See previously: Personal Economy

Personal Economy: Buy what you want/need, don’t buy it if you don’t like it.

Throughout my life I’ve gone through being a minimalist as far as the standard beauty products, and paying the mid-range, aspirational prices of department store counters. I’ve never been able to successfully toss aside my chains of oppression by the fashion and beauty industries, and my feelings between guilt and celebration have waxed and waned.

Oh boy, but now I’m looking at 31, and I’ve got a deep line across my forehead. I started a little mini-panic when I realized it wasn’t going away. I instantly thought, maybe I can get a cream that will arrest it, or make it go away – and maybe I wouldn’t have to spend $50 to do it! I saw a lot of reviews and a lot of promises, and I came to the conclusion that none of the claims could be trusted, and I couldn’t stomach $50+ for a face cream that wouldn’t ultimately do what I want it to do, which is permanently stop my face from creasing.

So what do I do? When I was in a Whole Foods in White Plains, NY, I found that they had my, to this point, most favorite face cleanser and cream ever. Why have I not been using it? Because I first bought it at a small store in Chicago, and couldn’t find it locally in Seattle. I thought to myself – it IS pricey, and couldn’t I find an alternative that was just as good? The answer, after about 3 years, was no. I purchased the Evan Healy Blue Face Care Kit, and have been happy ever since. Even Dr. Hauschka, which makes holistic skin care in the same vein as Evan Healy, doesn’t have all that I love about Evan Healy’s products.

The lesson learned is that, in the time I’ve played with all these other products (and used up most of them), the product I’ve been most enthusiastic about is one I could have bought online, and likely saved more time and money just by doing so than trying to find less expensive alternatives.

Evan Healy’s products don’t promise to do anything special, other than clean the skin, not strip it too much of the oils you need, and that it be allowed to breathe. It doesn’t promise to make these deep creases go away, but maybe they don’t need to. And maybe I go back to purchasing my favorite make up, Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals, which I keep going back to after trying cheaper or more flashy options.

None of these things are what I need – but it is just something I want and makes me feel good. The less I spend on other crap I truly don’t need, the better – esp. if that means I’m not trying out the new best thing and deciding I’m hating it.

Product Love: Aubrey Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo and Conditioner

My hair is brittle.

Why? I have a few ideas. I live in the Pacific Northwest, and like many of these northern dwellers, I’m deficient in Vitamin D – I’ve started supplementing, and even got a sunburn last week, so hopefully I’ll start life towards the solstice a little less deficient than last year. Additionally, I’ve been diving, in the cold waters of Puget Sound, which means that along with ravaging my hair with salt water, I’ve been wearing a hood to keep the heat in, and have a nice thick wetsuit to birth my head through before every dive. This, as you can imagine, tortures my hair.

And then there was my ill-thought out decision to try flat-ironing my hair a few months ago. So this, plus chemical processing, has left my hair in a less than enviable position. Pantene wasn’t quite helping, and frankly, I’ve been wanting to get back to my “less chemicals is better” trend I fell into when working at Whole Foods.

This enters my trial of Aubrey Organics – Honeysuckle Rose Shampoo, which claims to be 100% natural, and sure enough, the label doesn’t seem to cite anything chemically funny. The shampoo feels astringent, but the Aubrey Organics – Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner feels super-moisturizing, so much so that I’ve had to decrease the amount I thought I’d need for my hair. I’m a few weeks in, and I’m liking the smell as well as the texture of my hair. I also feel a little better about the suds washing down the drain.

I’m not sure how long I’ll love it, but I’m definitely a fan now. Who knew? I’d been passing up this stuff for years!

Washington, DC to Washington State

Yesterday, Jon and I returned from Washington, DC back to Seattle, WA. He had been there most of the week without me for business. I joined late last week, just in time to experience high humidity and temperatures exceeding 100 F. To say I was uncomfortable would be an understatement. I will also swear up and down that it was never that horrible in Chicago, though that might be a lie. At least in Chicago, I said, there are tall buildings and a lake offering a cool breeze.

I returned to Seattle by way of Phoenix, AZ. Although I did not actually step out in the Phoenix heat, I can tell you it had to be damn hot, as that we sat on the plane with no air conditioning for at least 30 min waiting to taxi onto the runway. The tin-can became like an oven, and thankfully they turned on the fans. Seattle greeted Jon and I with a midday breeze, cloudless sky, and a comfortable temp in the mid-70’s. This is a standard, summer day in Seattle. The night was so cool that I when I got up this morning I had to shut the windows for awhile because the breeze was too cool for my tastes.

My day-off had me hiking to the local co-op, Madison Market to get our weekly groceries. The total cost came in at just under $55. Our meal plan is as follows:

(Note: Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home = M@H, Moosewood Cookbook = MC)
Tonight – carrot and celery pasta (local, farmer’s market) with meat (local beef) sauce (homemade, canned tomatos) and garlic bread (homemade bread, farmer’s market garlic, co-op butter)
Tuesday – M@H, Ginger Tofu (local) and Greens (local kale) over Coconut Basmati Rice
Wednesday – MC, Potato Leek Soup (local)
Thurday – M@H, Avocado Corn (local, frozen) Salad over lettuce with tomato (local heirloom), olive and egg (local)

I would estimate that over 90% of the purchased materials were organic. Very little cans or packaging for ingredients, and my own bags and legs toted these items home.

It’s taken me about 5 years to transition to the food/shopping style I have acquired. Just a year ago it was hard for us to conceive of shopping at Madison Market – mostly because the selection is so limited compared to giants like Whole Foods Market. However, they do specialize in local stuff, and by being a co-op member, I feel like we have more of a direct line to their practices. Today’s shopping was mostly what was available and in-season. I almost feel like I’ve won something – even if I can’t put my finger on it.

I’m further fueled to decrease food-miles and over-consumption of resources by reading Barbara Kingsolver’s newest book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It details her family’s journey from living in the resource-draining state of Arizona to the lush agricultural land of Virginia, raising their food and learning to live in harmony with the seasons. I’m enjoying her narrative style, and the composition of the book, which includes seasonal recipes and annotations for further information on sustainability issues.

And with all that, my tummy’s rumbling for lunch.