I’m pretty excited about this review since it documents my first foray into the world of indie skincare products. I had really troubled skin as a teenager and signs of the damage still persist even though I’m well into my twenties. I have this merry little concoction of oily and sensitive skin that is miraculously also prone to dryness, and along with it comes blackheads, open pores and the occasional acne problem. It’s not a pretty picture. I’ve been through the mill with commercial skincare products that never really seemed to make a difference. I guess it was only a matter of time before I came to my senses and decided to go down the all natural and cruelty-free path of indie skincare products. And I can’t think of a better place to start than the lovely little Etsy store, Bear’s Beauty.
This haul is a little special because I was actually approached by Bear’s Beauty’s owner, Jerra, to see if I would be interested in reviewing her products. After a whole big fan girl moment, I responded with great interest and so she put together a whole generous package of samples for me to purchase. Every sample I received is a surprise; the only information that she had to work with was my skin profile (oily and sensitive skin). She must be some sort of a wizard because I ended up pretty much loving everything. I paid $20 (including US shipping) for my happy little haul, and Jerra very generously upgraded some of my samples to full sized products.
Here are the products that I got to try:
- Sea Salt Detox Scrub (sample) in Orange
- Cleansing Oil (full size) in Pink Grapefruit
- Clay Mask (full size)
- Mud Mask (sample)
- Organic Toothpaste (sample) in Lemon
- Simple Hemp Cold Cream (sample)
- Hemp Lip Balm (full size) in Orange
- Shea Butter Sunscreen Balm (sample)
I paid $20 (including US shipping since I was using Vpost for this) for my happy little haul, and Jerra very generously upgraded some of my samples to full sized products. I did get some sort of a blogger’s discount for this, but all my opinions of each individual product are unbiased by that fact. I did have my misgivings about some products, but the truth is that, they’re all such wonderful, gentle and effective little gems. ♥
A quick brand overview
Bear’s Beauty is an Etsy e-tailer which specializes in all natural and organic skincare products that are all freshly handmade for each order. The heart of this company lies in creating organic and cruelty-free products that can be easily personalized for each customer’s individual skincare needs. Jerra, the owner, is an amazing lady with an extensive knowledge of nature’s wonders and uses her research and experience to create products that actually work.
There is such a quiet simplicity in this brand’s overall aesthetic and this is reflected in the simple ingredient lists for their products. Each ingredient can be easily traced back to Mother Nature herself and each one really packs a punch. The range of products in this shop is huge, and basically covers the care of your body from head to toe. Some stand-out products include their Calendula Cleansing Oil, Organic Body Butter, Eczema Body Butter, Clay Masks and all natural vegan perfume oil. Jerra’s passion for Green Love is clearly seen in her devotion to each and every product and she is just so down to earth and friendly that it makes shopping at Bear’s Beauty such an enjoyable experience. The fact that all this stemmed from her own personal struggle and eventual triumph over her problematic skin is poignant and really adds a whole lot of heart behind her products.
Sea Salt Detox Scrub
Ingredients: Organic Castile Soap, Celtic Sea Salt, Magnesium Chloride Brine, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Vitamin E, Essential Oils
I’ve used a couple of body scrubs, but this is my first experience with sea salt. I’ve heard a lot of good things about it, and I guess at least the ants in my bathroom will having a tougher time digesting this one so that’s definitely a plus!
This salt scrub looks dry and crumbly, with flecks of individual salt grains. It smells heavenly; it’s like this natural and relaxing citrusy scent and I feel like I’m about to indulge myself at some high end spa. I’m not too fond of the texture though; I’m not sure if travelling the distance between US and Singapore did something to alter the scrub’s texture because it looks lush and creamy on the etsy listing. It is pretty challenging to scoop out some product because it tends to crumble and drop but I managed to bypass that problem by using a little plastic spatula.
Unlike most of the sugar scrubs that I have used, this scrub has no lather and basically just feels like you’re rubbing some gorgeous smelling oily salt against your skin. I’ll admit this; I have a preference for bath products with a healthy dose of lather so at this point, I’m not too enthusiastic. The salt granules are gentle on damp skin, and they don’t feel particularly scrubby. I guess I’m just not too excited at this point, although the smell really is a plus point. It’s mild and unintrusively really; it just wafts around in the air, but you know how sometimes a product smells so healthy and fresh that you just know that it must be good for your skin? That’s the kind of scent I’m talking about.
After rinsing off the scrub, I’m pretty amazed. There isn’t any oily residue whatsoever and my skin feels so smooth and clean. Some scrubs make me feel like I’ve scrapped off some of my pores together with the dead skin cells, but the aftermath of this scrub is beautiful. My skin definitely doesn’t feel dry nor itchy. If anything, it feels moisturized. Who says you need a bubbly, lathery scrub in order to get results? Plus, the lovely orange scent lingers and that suits me to a T.
I’m pretty happy with this scrub. It’s such an unassuming, no-frills product, but by jove, is it a hardworker. I did feel like I had to use a little more product than the average scrub due to how gentle the exfoliation feels, but the results are worth it. This does run a little pricier than most sugar scrubs, but the high quality ingredients and the great results justify the cost. I’m not sure if I’m going to get a full sized tub since I have a TON of unused bath products, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility. If sugar scrubs aren’t really your thing and you’d like to try out an all-natural, gentle and high performing sea salt scrub, give this a go.
Sea Salt Detox Scrubs cost $9 for a 2oz jar, $18 for a 4oz jar and $30 for a 8oz jar. Scrubs are available in a range of natural essential oil scents.
Calendula Cleansing Oil
Ingredients: Organic Cold-Pressed Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Calendula Infused Olive Oil, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Castor Bean Oil, Essential Oils
I’ll admit this. I was a little reluctant to try this one out. I have overly enthusiastic oil glands and this sometimes leads to my skin looking shinier than a hormonal teenager’s – which is really not a good look. Of course, through the years, I’ve also gotten all the nasties that come along with it – blackheads, whiteheads, acne, open pores… urgh. In any case, I’ve always had something against the feeling of oiliness. So to rub oil. voluntarily. on my face. all over my face. That takes some guts. But I said I would do a review and I’m not going to be a coward about this. Plus, it’s supposed to be really good for the skin, so you know. Woman up, Mink!
Thankfully, there are pretty clear directions of use included with the product. The glass bottle of oil came with a soft microfibre wash cloth which is currently in the wash since the shrink wrap broke a little and it got into contact with the packing materials. I ended up using one of my own towels instead since I couldn’t wait to try this out.
So I pumped a bit of oil on my hands and proceeded to spread it all over my face. After wincing for a full second, I realized that it actually wasn’t that bad a feeling. This cleansing oil feels light and has a light, pleasantly natural scent. I massaged it into my skin for about 3 minutes (all the while intoning a prayer that it wouldn’t awaken the blackhead and acne demons of the deep) and then draped the towel which I had soaked in warm water over my face. I have to say at this point that it is such a pampering experience. The warmth of the water intensified the lavender scent and I felt like I was at some sort of spa. It helped of course, that I had my celtic music playlist on loop. It’s a wonderful way to unwind after a long day. I repeated the warm water process twice before gently rubbing off the rest of the oil from my face.
My skin feels moisturized – which is a rare thing, because it tends to feel a little tight and dry after using commercial facial foam. There’s a slight oily sheen all over that makes me a little psychologically uncomfortable, but that’s to be expected… right? After all, I did massage oil into my skin. This is just a preliminary review since I’ve only used this product over a couple of days and Jerra encourages us to allow 1 week for our skin to get used to it. I’ll use this religiously (I hope) and I’ll have a full review once the week has run its course. Hopefully my skin likes the new regime!
Calendula Cleansing Oil costs $7 for a 0.5oz bottle; $24 for a 2oz bottle; $85 for a 8oz bottle.
Ingredients: Kaolin Clay, Bentonite Clay, Essential Oils
I’m not a stranger to clay masks. I’ve been using bentonite clay on my face for a couple of months now and it really helps in keeping my problem skin under check. It is an effective and really inexpensive skincare mask and I’ve grown pretty fond of it. My only quibble with the bentonite clay that I use is that it’s really not a relaxing sort of mask. When it dries, it has a tendency to pull the skin tight as it sucks up the dirt and impurities from the pores like a magnet. One of the greatest inconveniences I’ve experienced is that I experience redness on my really sensitive skin for about an hour afterwards, making me unfit for company for that duration.
Anyway, so there’s my grandmother story about my bentonite clay experience and how it shapes my expectations of this mask. This isn’t a pure bentonite clay mask, and it is combined with other healing ingredients such as kaolin clay and essential oils so I’m expecting this to be gentler than I’m used to. The thing about clay masks is that you get to choose what kind of medium to mix them with. Jerra suggests water or witch hazel on her etsy listing, and I’ve personally also tried apple cidar vinegar, yogurt and brewed green tea with my previous DIY bentonite masks. For this preliminary review, I decided to try out the mask with water.
Bentonite clay doesn’t play very nice with water; as a result, the mask got a little clumpy and most of it stuck to my spoon. A case in point; never ever use a metal spoon or dish when mixing your clay masks. Bentonite clay reacts with metal so you’re really better off using glass, ceramic or plastic. I have a big face, so I found that a full spoonful of clay was the right amount to go for a full face mask. This mask forms a thin paste with water and spreads easily enough, despite the initial clumpiness during the mixing phase.
I applied a thin layer of mask over my face and allowed it to dry for about 15 minutes. As I expected, this mask feels a lot gentler than the bentonite clay masks I’m used to and although I experience a very slight tightening sensation, the itchiness that I’ve grown accustomed to is non-existent. The mask is incredibly easy to wash off and to my joy, the only indication that I did a clay mask is a light flush over my cheeks. My skin feels really smooth and clean and I noticed a reduction in redness around a pimple that was beginning to spawn. There is definitely a need to moisturize after using a clay mask, but this mask in particular is so gentle that after applying my night cream, I feel like I’ve been thoroughly pampered.
This mask is considerably pricier than my regular bentonite clay treatment, but the trade-off is a much more comfortable and pampering experience. Besides, a little of this product goes a long way, so even a 2oz jar ought to last you for quite a while. Having said that, I wasn’t a fan of the metal tin that I received this product in. It was a little tough to open and I had to use my nails to pop the lid off gently. As it is, some of the product managed to spilled out since the tin is quite shallow. I’d personally much prefer a jar like the one pictured in the product listing, and since that is the usual packaging anyway, this isn’t really an issue! I just have to be extra careful to keep the butter fingers at bay.
Clay Masks cost $10 for a 2oz jar, $20 for a 4oz jar and $40 for a 8 oz jar.
Ingredients: Kaolin Clay, Bentonite Clay, Witch Hazel, Essential Oils
This is essentially a pre-mixed version of her fabulous clay mask. Since it already comes moistened with witch hazel, you can just smear it onto your pretty face, no mixing required! It’s perfect for the lazies, or just someone looking for a bit of convenience. (I didn’t include a company picture of this product because the featured one on the listing is actually a picture of the clay mask.)
This felt like a thick smooth paste and it was easy to apply a thin layer over my face. I did feel as though I was using considerably more product than with the clay mask though. It feels cool to the touch and putting it on is quite a relaxing process.
This dries pretty quickly and I did experience a tiny bit of itching when the product fully dried on my skin. The itchniess goes away the moment I wash it off, and it seems to be a pretty common occurance in clay masks so I’m not too bothered by it. My skin feels incredibly pampered, clean and smooth after using this. Despite the amount of detoxing that went on, my face doesn’t feel dry and there is no redness at all. A further point to note is that the Fox had some pesky pimples that were threatening to erupt so I applied a tiny bit of this mask over the affected areas and allowed it to dry for a couple of hours. By the time he washed it off, the pimples had visibly subsided and the redness completely disappeared. Color me impressed.
One thing I really like about this product is that Jerra gives you options to customize the mask to your liking. There are some pre-fixed options which you can select from a dropdown list such as your choice of scent (for a touch of aromatherapy) and even the option to get it customized for acne or sensitive skin. If you’d like something even more specific, you could always send her a convo to discuss your needs. She is really knowledgeable and helpful, and honestly, this level of service is astounding. I personally prefer the dry version of this mask because I enjoy customizing the mask with different mixers and potency which makes it easier for me to share the love with the Fox. He prefers something stronger, so his favorite mixer is apple cidar vinegar, while I prefer something more pampering.
However, if you’re looking for a fuss-free mud mask that is customized to your individual needs, this is a great and dependable product. It feels a little pricier than the clay mask, but considering how it’s completely premixed and ready to use, I guess this accounts for the price difference.
Mud Masks cost $7 for a 1oz jar and $14 for a 2oz jar. It can be specially formulated for acne skin or sensitive skin and comes either unscented or scented in a variety of essential oil blends.
Ingredients: Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, Naturally Sourced Aluminum Free Baking Soda, Bentonite Clay, Kaolin Clay, Stevia/Monk Fruit, Hawaiian Black Sea Salt, Essential Oils
One of my samples lost its label while travelling to me and I was mystified by what that lovely citrusy smelling product might be. Jerra got back to me with the sweetest apology within an hour of the convo I sent and informed me that it was organic toothpaste in a sweet lemon flavor. I was pretty intrigued and I have to admit, excited to put it into my mouth. You know how it is when you’re a gourmand fragrance lover. You have to keep yourself from stealing a taste from even the most delicious smelling perfume oil. So you can imagine that I was pretty gleeful that this fresh and yummy lemon scented product was destined for my mouth.
I smeared a glop of the paste on my toothbrush and proceeded to brush my teeth as per normal. I have to admit that I found it a bit strange to be brushing my teeth with something that wasn’t minty at all. The taste is a mixture of sweetness, sourness and a slight saltiness which I believe is from the baking soda. I know that there are pretty differing opinions on the benefits of baking soda on teeth and I’m more or less on the fence about this one. If it’s something that you’re concerned about, Jerra is able to formulate this without the baking soda so all you need to do is to send her a convo.
This product left my teeth feeling really smooth and clean. I used it in the morning when I was the morning breath monster and despite my doubts, it did manage to get rid of the staleness. That would be the coconut oil at work, since it gets rid of the pesky bacteria that cause the stinkiness in the first place. The thing about this product is that it does it work with an understated elegance. There is no tingly mint flavor, nor is there a bubbling, foamy lather, but believe me, it does pack a punch in cleaning your teeth. I have to admit that I did feel a little insecure without that mintiness.
I’m not sure if I’d be reordering this product as of now, even though I like it. It’s just that of all my funds dedicated to indie products, tooth paste is a little lower on the to-buy list. Yes, I am hanging my head a little as I admit that. If I do purchase a full sized product, I’d probably get it in either the peppermint or spearmint flavor. If you’d prefer something a little more unique tasting, there are flavors such as cinnamon, clove, orange and even tangerine & mint. Yummy!
Organic Toothpaste costs $2 for a 1/3oz sample, $6 for a 1oz jar and $12 for a 2oz jar.
Simple Hemp Cold Cream
Ingredients: Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Distilled Water, Beeswax, Vitamin E
This little cream has just three main ingredients in it – hemp, sweet almond oil and beeswax. I’ve never used a cold cream prior to this product, so I don’t really have much to compare this to. At first, it looked a little balmy in the pot, but it yields into this smooth, creamy paste when warmed to body temperature.
According to the Etsy listing, this humble little cream has a multitude of uses even though the most traditional one seems to be its use as a make-up remover. I tried applying to to my face to remove my mineral foundation and the texture is creamy at first, and then it leaves an oily sheen making it feel like a cleansing oil in cream form. I got the unscented version, but I was pleasantly surprised by this really nice smell that I caught a whiff of as I rubbed it in. Apparently, the cream gets its scent from the natural fragrance of its ingredients. I am pretty iffy about putting scented products on my face, so this feels pretty reassuring. If you’d prefer a bout of aromatherapy while removing your make-up, this cream is also available scented with various essential oils such as lavender, bergamot and even vanilla.
According to the item description, it simply needs to be wiped off with either a dry towel or some paper. Huh. I’m not really sure how that’s going to work out, but I might as well give it a shot. I was wearing mineral foundation, eye shadow, eye liner and mascara. I had my doubts about how effective it would be in removing my eye make-up and I was pretty amazed. I scooped out a tiny bit of cream and gently rubbed it over my eyes and it managed to remove all traces of make-up effortlessly. After massaging it gently into the rest of my face, I wiped it off with some kleenex paper. It took a couple of wipes for me to be sure that the product was gone, and then I rinsed my face with tepid water. And that was that. I was actually surprised at the effectiveness of the product. I actually used a wet cotton pad on my face to ascertain that the make-up was gone and it ended up white as snow. My skin felt really soft and moisturized, and not in the least bit oily. I have to admit that I had some slight misgivings, but it appears that this worked really well as a make-up remover. I especially love how it’s such an effective, gentle and all-natural eye make-up remover.
In addition to being used as a make-up remover, this cold cream can also be used as a face and body moisturizer, a hair conditioner and even an eye cream. I actually applied in on some red bumps that I got from shaving (that’s what I get for being lazy and just shaving with water) and it really helped to alleviate the itching. I could have sworn that it even contributed towards the red bumps healing a lot faster than they normally do. It did leave quite a bit of an oily sheen though, so I probably wouldn’t use this as an all-over moisturizer.
This cold cream also works really well as an intense overnight lip treatment. I found myself with super dry and chapped lips due to long hours in an air conditioned room and decided to try applying some of the cream to my lips. It felt so awesomely pampering, and although it was oily enough for me to not want to wear it out and about, it worked so hard while I was sleeping that I woke up with the softest lips.
I’m pretty enamored with this product. It works extremely well as a make-up remover and it has lovely natural healing effects as well. I’m probably going to pick up a full size of this little treasure. This product can also be created with candelilla wax to cater to vegans. There’s also a more complex version of the cold cream which includes hemp oil, coconut oil and shea butter which would probably work wonders for drier skin. One thing to note though, is that the shelf life for this product is relatively short, so I’d recommend getting a smaller size first.
Simple Hemp Cold Cream costs $3 for a 1/3oz sample, $8.50 for a 1oz jar and $16 for a 2oz jar.
Hemp Lip Balm (Orange)
Ingredients: Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Raw Shea Butter, Organic Beeswax, Vitamin E, Stevia (on request)
I received this in the orange flavor which has a light, citrusy smell that is very pleasant. The packaging is very simple and I love that it comes in oval tubes. I find oval tubes easier for application and they somehow look more aesthetically pleasing as well. The overall packaging is pretty simple and clean, which falls perfectly into the no-frills aesthetic of this company.
This lip balm goes on really smooth and it feels really light. This is the perfect lip balm to apply as a base of lipstick since it’s able to moisturize without feeling too thick, creamy or slippery. The balm feels pretty solid and holds its shape well even in this tropical weather. I’d say that between an oily and waxy texture, this straddles the middle ground pretty well. I’ve taken to keeping this together with my lipsticks I can foresee this becoming a staple in my make-up routine.
I have a ton of lip balm right now, but this is actually one of those that I can foresee myself repurchasing in the future. It leaves my lips feeling so soft and the plus point is that sometimes I actually forget that I’m wearing any lip product. For a moment, I just get this illusion that I was born with lips that are self-moisturizing. That’s how delightfully light this lip balm is!
Hemp Lip Balm costs $3.50 for a tube and is available in a number of essential oil scents.
Shea Butter Sunscreen Balm
Ingredients: Organic Raw Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Non-Nano Zinc Oxide
I actually haven’t really had a chance to try out this sunscreen properly yet since the weather here has been pretty bleak lately. It’s been either cloudy or rainy every time I leave the house, so I can’t really speak for this sunscreen’s effectiveness just yet. I will probably write a more extensive review in the future when I manage to get a proper test drive of this product.
I did try this on, so here’s a brief preliminary review. I will say this: I absolutely loathe commercial sunscreen products. Despite the promises listed on the product label, they always seem to go on greasy on me and I end up feeling like a wretched snail. I really hope that this product is effective because I really love how it feels on my skin. It feels like a creamy kind of balm and while it requires a little more effort to rub in than the other products from this shop, it absorbs pretty easily into my skin. I get a slight shiny sheen over my skin for a while, but on the whole, it feels pretty comfortable. I do feel like there’s some product on my skin, but it’s pretty unobtrusive for the most part. I really like the natural herbal scent as well.
The all natural formula means that this balm is great for people with sensitive skin and for children. It’s available in a variety of scents (I believe mine is lavender scented), which definitely beats the artificial and plastiky scents of commercial sunscreen products. There is also a stronger version of this sunscreen that would work well for beach babes.
Shea Butter Sunscreen Balm costs $8 for a 1oz jar, $16 for a 2oz jar and $35 for a 4oz jar.
Some slight quibbles
One thing that I found a little confusing was that there tends to be some duplicate listings for certain products and I had to constantly alternate between the different listings before realizing that it was pretty much the same thing.
Some of the product pictures did not showcase the actual product. I actually realized that a common trend was to reuse certain images across different product listings. I get that it probably means that a similar form of packaging is used, but in some cases, I would have appreciated a specific product image so that I can get a better idea of what the product that I was going to purchase would actually look like. I did hear back from Jerra though. She’s in the midst of updating the products’ final packaging and new pictures will follow once everything is done!
These little quibbles didn’t really bother me that much since I really liked the quality of the products that I tried, but I can understand how it can be a little off-putting to new customers. Jerra is very helpful so a case in point would be to always approach her if you have any questions at all about a product that you’re interested in. She responds extremely quickly and is generally just a really friendly and approaching store owner.
On the whole…
I am pretty impressed with Bear’s Beauty. This may feel a little touchy-feely and mushy in a way, but I can tell that there is a great deal of thought and love behind this products. Every product is very simple, yet extremely well formulated and they just make my skin feel so good. If not for the fact that I have to contend with international shipping, I would probably want to repurchase everything I tried. As it is, I need to be a little more selective and pick what I really love. There are some products that I would really love to try in the future such as the delicious sounding Chocolate Sugar Scrub, their Undereye Serum and their all natural Custom Perfume Oils.