Natural Products Expo West

I returned from sipping, sampling and snacking my way through this year's Natural Products Expo West - a mecca of of all things natural for people, pets and the planet. With a record breaking 63,000 attendees, and 2,428 exhibiting companies, it was super fun discovering new natural finds and, at times, very overwhelming: the crowds, the line ups, the enthusiasm for a healthier way of being. Like a kid in a (natural, organic) candy shop, the most fun for me was exploring new natural skin care products and products to keep us beautiful inside and out. Here are a few brands that stood out for me, and why:

My Natural Products Expo adventure started out with a morning yoga class (sponsored by Rainbow Light who generously gave us all new yoga mats) a taught by Kia Miller. I've been meaning to catch one of her classes whenever I'm in LA so this was an absolute delight. Kia teaches an authentic, lovely practice that incorporates the essence of yoga. With just the right mix of kundalini, hatha and vinyasa, I was off to a great day. Thanks, Kia!

I'm not one to flash name brands on my clothes or my hand bags so these cute, eco-friendly totes won my heart over - and they make shopping fun, cute and save the planet all at the same time. I was a lucky winner of one of SnapSac's MegaTotes which I lugged around with me the entire weekend: show samples, magazines, marketing materials and my yoga mat! To my delight, this durable tote made it through the weekend (no tears along the seams, no rips on the handle) with heaps of complements. It stores perfectly folded (see small image below) for its next use: Farmers Market, here we come!

Yes, I know. These are indeed a little on the hippy side, but cool nonetheless. This Canadian Company, Healing Hazel , offers Hazel Wood bracelets and 100% Baltic Amber necklaces. Hazel Wood, utilized by the First Nations people for its benefits, is said to help neutralize the body's acidity. And in a world replete with stress, processed foods and lack of fresh air, these seem like a brilliant idea for us all.
Amber, a natural resin, is known for is natural analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Worn either as a necklace (great for teething infants) or as a bracelet (I picked up a few and created an amber mala that I wear around my wrist. LOVE!) the amber beads release tiny amounts of healing oils that are absorbed into the bloodstream to help alleviate symptoms associated with allergies, arthritis and pain. Not only do these amber mala beads look cool, but they are also in tune with crystal healing. What a gem! I'm convinced you'll be seeing these around the festival circuits this summer . . .
These luxurious eau de parfums smell delightful! rareESSENCE perfumes are made with consciously sourced, sustainable, 100% essential oils and are produced in small batches to ensure proper cure time. rareESSENCE master perfumers have also added a vibrational flower essence to these organic and biodynamic perfumer’s spirits. Embodying the essence of intentional alchemy, this line of powerful plant and flower synergies allows you to experience the real essences and energy of plants. 

Urban Moonshine
Cultures around the world have long believed that bitter flavours are essential to good health because they stimulate the digestive system. Thus began the tradition of steeping bitter-tasting roots, leaves, berries and fruits in alcohol and serving the mixture before or after a meal. Whether brewed according to secret recipes by medieval monks or concocted by wise women, the first bitters were intended for medicinal purposes. 

Over time, the concept of bitters was passed into the hands of apothecaries and on to the makers of 19th Century patent medicines. After bartenders discovered that bitters softened the often harsh liquors of the day, the cocktail was born. Until the late 1880s, any drink called a cocktail contained bitters—this includes such classics as the martini, the Manhattan and the Old-Fashioned. Only in the 1950s did the taste for bitters fade. And now, 2013, bitters are back! And I'm not referring to the bitter flavours we love in coffee, hoppy beers or dark chocolate. I'm talkin' Urban Moonshine, friends!

This line of organic bitters is made from a blend of certified Organic herbs and roots and use 100% certified organic alcohol. In the spirit of sparking the digestive system, waking up your pallet, supporting liver function and healthy skin, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and enhancing overall health and wellness, Urban Moonshine sure packs a punch. While it nearly knocked me off my feet (literally), I could feel the medicine of this magical elixir at work.
Whether you enjoy bitters as an apertif, digestif, or as a remedy to stimulate sluggish digestion, settle an upset stomach, relieve bloating or heartburn, calm a hangover or gently cleanse the liver, bitters are back.
I'll admit: I'm addicted to lip balms. I am forever scouring for natural, organic goodness to nourish my lips and these are two of my favourite finds:

SW Basics of Brooklyn

These guys sure looked familiar: as seen in last few issues of Vogue (yes, I read Vogue and LOVE it!), the folks over at S.W. Basics are indeed one of the few absolutely, positively, 100% truly all-natural companies using only ingredients that are either certified organic, Fair Trade, or sourced from small family farms. This no-frills skincare line doesn't include any of those crazy synthetic chemicals and chooses to leave out trendy, exotic botanicals, and luxury fillers. Instead, they use the fewest possible ingredients for effective skincare because they believe that fewer ingredients means higher potency and less of a chance for irritation, which is why their lip balms are so awesome even on super-sensitive skin. 
S.W. Basics adheres to the tenant that "simplicity is the essence of awesome" and I couldn't agree more. The Cocoa Lip Balm is made simply with only 3 ingredients:
Cocoa Butter
Coconut Oil 

They believe that there’s nothing going on your mouth that shouldn’t be going in your mouth. How awesome is that?

Buddha Balm
Buddha Brand is a lifestyle wellness company that keeps the heart of enhancing lives and inspiring wellbeing at their company's core. Defined not by its products - although their Buddha Balm is the BOMB - but by a set of core values and a higher purpose, this company certainly stands for the greater good.

I love that their all natural lip balms contain no petroleum, parabens or preservatives. Instead, they are formulated with certified organic ingredients, all natural flavours (burnt sugar fig & mandarin orange ginger are my best!) and zinc oxide, a natural ingredient that provides protection from the sun by acting as a physical barrier against harmful rays. Not only healthy for my lips but 
tasty, too!

Surya Brasil
Looking for something new? Surya Brasil offers beauty, health and well-being with Brazilian flair! This unique line of vegan body care products includes natural hair color and organic body care using sustainable Amazonian plants, innovative manufacturing techniques and biodegradable packaging. The method behind their madness is to bring together Nature, the Science of Ayurveda and the technology for contemporary beauty.

100% plant-based and formulated with unique, ethically harvested plants and fruits from the Amazon (such as Buriti and Cupuacu), Surya Brasil also offers a sleek and sophisticated hair and body care collection for men, Sapien. There's no denying that passion is at play with Surya Brasil and it is through their passion for natural beauty that they strive to transform the beauty industry to hold the purest values of not only beauty, but also health and wellbeing while maintaining environmentally sustainable practices. 

And lastly: have you seen MansomeJack Passion, World Beard Champion, was over at Grandpa Brands Company and was the perfect encounter to end a very long, but inspiring weekend.

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