Kahlwa’7alap- hello everyone!
Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve written a post! Been overly-worked due to the pandemic and Jerry being indefinitely furloughed since the beginning. Although, I admit I’ve gotten used to him doing a lot of the cooking- he’s outstanding! Hope you’ve all been staying healthy and well-sending positivity to all!
First off, let me start by saying that if there was ever any single brand of skincare I would continuously use, it would be Bionova (read more about it here). Bionova was started by Dr. Danielov, who has years of experience in nano science, along with research regarding hormones and biologically active substances. The products are formulated to mimic what’s naturally present in our skin. If you’ve ever used a plant-based product that worked great, then stopped working, it’s because our skin is not like plants. This is why you may find yourself switching products often. The most effective products are biomimetic. Unfortunately, I can’t use Bionova every day when blogging about skincare because I would be failing at my job…lol! In keeping with Dr. Danielov’s advice, I get excited at the idea of finding products that are more like human skin “ingredients.”
Anywho, bears are important to my cultures, especially the St’at’imc side of my family. Bear meat is bodily nourishment, the hides are used for clothing, etc., and the fat, or tallow, is used as medicine and to keep drums in optimum condition. The medicinal properties of bear tallow are especially effective when used on the skin. So, I started doing a bit of research, and it seems animal tallow is “more biomimetic” with our skin than plant-based products.
I really enjoy shopping small businesses, and have been trying to do so even more with the pandemic. I couldn’t justify using my jar of bear grease (tallow) as mere facial skincare, as it’s considered sacred for my drum and medicinal purposes. I couldn’t immediately find any Indigenous bear tallow sellers, as they all render it for medicine, which traditionally isn’t supposed to be sold. But, I got lucky and found an Etsy shop called Great Northern Tea, with a seller in Maine who combines the best of animal and plant ingredients. Read on to find out more!
First off, the elephant in the room: I have a love/hate relationship with Etsy, as I feel they’re exploitative, and have a horrific policy of FORCING sellers who perform well into giving them an additional 12% on top of the fees they’re already taking, for offsite ads. This is for the lifetime of the shop, even if sales drop. BUT- Etsy is a great way for small sellers to get their product out to buyers who may be less confident purchasing direct, due to buyer protections and guarantees.
So, hunting black bears is legal in the state the seller resides in, and they’re hunted responsibly and ethically. Great Northern Tea has some really adorable ornaments and beautiful artwork, as well as the handmade bear tallow skincare products. I ordered the AlpenGlow Facial Moisturizer, Northern Lights Eye Cream, and BearFaced Lip Balm. My order arrived super fast, and lovingly packaged by shop owner Hillie- she even included some evergreen sprigs, which reminded me of home!
BearFaced AlpenGlow Facial Moisturizer
This AlpenGlow Facial Moisturizer is probably the product I was looking forward to the most. The ingredients are simple: triple filtered black bear tallow steeped with rose, juniper, star anise, calendula, geranium, and vanilla. Rose has long been known as a natural antiaging ingredient, juniper and geranium tend to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, star anise acts as an antioxidant and astringent, calendula has always done wonders for soothing my sensitive skin, and finally, vanilla has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (Anonymous, 2021). So… with my finicky skin, I couldn’t wait to try this stuff!
The packaging is beautiful… I love the dark glass and color combination of the label- a refreshing change from all the white and muted tones of commercially available brands. I do often worry about jar packaging, as it allows for air exposure and introduction of bacteria. However, this isn’t a plant-based antioxidant product, and I don’t think a tube or pump would work well with a cream this thick. Just be sure not to get any water into it, as that could lead to spoilage. It also helps to use a spatula or other implement to dip some out when using.
Omg… this cream is decadent! I have sensitive, acne-prone skin that also happens to be oily af, so I always worry about products this rich. BUT… since animal tallow is so similar to our skin and non-comedogenic, it sinks right in. I can apply makeup right away if I use less, or I can use more if the weather is cold and dry and just give it a few moments to absorb. It’s also very concentrated, a TINY bit will go a long way, so I’ve also used this to moisturize my hands.
I should note that I use tretinoin, and with it being winter, my skin gets really “aggravated,” This has been incredibly soothing, and feels like a spa experience each time I use it. It has an odd, natural scent that’s somehow rich and very light at the same time. I like to inhale as I’m spreading this over my face because it’s quite relaxing. My skin is left dewy and soft, even in the dry weather!
BearFaced Northern Lights Eye Cream
Okay… not gonna lie… being Unangax (Alaska Native) in addition to St’at’imc… the name of this caught my eye. I’ve never been fortunate enough to see the aurora in person, but at least I can put a version of it onto my face with the Northern Lights Eye Cream! Again, simple ingredients: triple-filtered black bear tallow, Siberian sea buckthorn oil, beeswax, black tea, Maine woods chaga.
I really like using products with sea buckthorn oil as it’s helpful for my acne and sensitive skin. Beeswax helps protect the skin barrier, and works as a humectant- similar to hyaluronic acid in that it draws moisture. It’s also a natural exfoliant- perfect for those with acne or even dry skin (Kester, 2019). Black tea has been known as an antioxidant, and it seems to help with puffiness, presumably due to the caffeine. Finally, chaga mushrooms are high in antioxidants, which can address physical signs of aging such as sagging skin and wrinkles, as well as counteract pollution (Villines, 2017). So, it seems this is a well-formulated cream that can address multiple issues.
Again, the packaging is just gorgeous, with a sturdy, dark glass jar. The cream itself has a barely discernible smell, no artificial fragrances. And whoa… does this stuff spread! You need even less of this than the facial moisturizer, and it’s sooo silky! No joke, a tiny amount the size of a piece of rice will suffice for doing both of my under-eye areas. If I’m not wearing makeup, I’ll use a smidge more and do all around my eyes. It’s very soothing, and does a superb job of plumping my skin enough to hide the fine lines that have developed.
BearFaced Lip Balm
Alrighty… those who have kept up with our posts probably already know how much I LOVE lip balms. I seriously have them stashed EVERYWHERE. As in three on my nightstand, five or more on the table next to the sofa, an undisclosed amount in my handbag… well you get the idea…lol.
Like the moisturizers, the BearFaced Lip Balm has simple ingredients: triple-filtered black bear tallow, cocoa butter, beeswax, wildflower honey, oils of wintergreen and nutmeg. Of course cocoa butter and beeswax are known for their moisturizing and protective properties, which is why they’re always so perfect in lip products. Honey is a good natural remedy for chapped and cracked lips because it’s a mild exfoliant with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (Santos-Longhurst, 2019). Wintergreen and nutmeg are wonderful for an added “fresh” experience.
The lip balm is housed in a really cute tin with a screw-off lid. There are times when I have difficulty opening and closing these if they’re thin, as the grooves don’t always line up. But this is tall enough that I have no issues. With the pandemic, I only use twist-up balms on-the-go due to sanitary concerns, but since I’m home all the time, it’s not really an issue.
This is one product that I will move from room-to-room just because I like it so much…lol. It’s usually either next to the sofa or on my nightstand. I love that I get the softness of a petroleum jelly, but with all-natural ingredients instead. It has a pleasant, light scent, and not really any taste. It’s done wonders for my winter-chapped lips! I wish I had more of these, so I may get the set of five next time I place an order.,,lol.
I’ve been very pleased with these BearFaced skincare products from Great Northern Tea. They’re well-made, arrive quickly, carefully packaged, and reasonably priced- comparable to premium drug store brands, and you get a LOT of bang for your bear… I mean buck (sorry, couldn’t resist… but I know that was corny!)…lol.
Anonymous (2021). Ecology skincare. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from www.ecologyskincare.com.
Kester, S. (2019). Beeswax uses for skin care. Healthline. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from www.healthline.com.
Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019). 5 easy DIY treatments for chapped lips. Healthline. Retrieved January 14, 2021, from www.healthline.com.
Villines, Z. (2017). Nine potential health benefits of chaga mushrooms. Medical News Today, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021, from www.medicalnewstoday.com.
*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.