Photo credit: Catherine Harper

Mullein & Sparrow's complete kit for dull/dehydrated skin. Photo credit: Catherine Harper

Vegan beauty brand Mullein and Sparrow is one that I've been watching for a while. With pretty branding, organic ingredients, a home base in Brooklyn, and (virtual and IRL) shelf space in many of my favorite non-toxic beauty boutiques, I figured it was only a matter of time before it crossed my desk. That opportunity arrived early in the summer, when they challenged me to try out their Complete Skincare Kit for 30 days and see what happened. At first, I handed the challenge to my contributor, Catherine, of Walking With Cake. (The pictures are by her of the kit she received.) But she has very sensitive skin, and found that it exacerbated her rosacea. That's not necessarily their fault; everyone's skin is different. So I took up the challenge to see how I did. My skin is fairly robust, with occasional breakouts (though they've gone down a bit since I started taking a skin supplement). They sent me the complete kit for oily/combination skin, with the exfoliating Cleansing Powder, Sandalwood & Sage Toner and Rosemary & Clary Sage serum. The kit arrived, and the bottles are oh so pretty, the glass, gold tops and vintage-y labels ready made to be shown off in front of some white subway tile and marble countertop. The cleansing powder is, "an ayurvedic blend of finely milled nutritive flours and grains, including sandalwood, turmeric and walnut shell powder, to gently exfoliate and boost skin's natural radiance. Ideal for all skin types, this high grade powder cleanser effectively lifts impurities and dead skin cells without any harsh preservatives or additives, to reveal softer and more even skin." You might be wondering, a cleansing powder? What is that? Indeed, I was just getting used to using a cleansing oil on my face, and switching to mixing the powder with water and rubbing it all over my face was an odd feeling. It definitely felt exfoliating, like my clay masks, but cleansing? Hmmmm... Next was the face mist, "featuring the healing properties of sandalwood, sage and witch hazel. Helps to heal and recover the complexion." The witch hazel gives it a slightly medicinal smell, but when combined with the fresh scent of sage and sandalwood, it's not unpleasant. Finally, the mini immortelle and myrrh facial serum, a little bottle they somehow managed to pack with squalane oil (anti-oxidant, minimizes age spot, balances uneven skin pigmentation, and lessens the appearance of fine lines), rosehip seed oil (high omega 3 and 6 EFAs, vitamin A and C, which are anti-aging), avocado oil (hydrating treatment for acne, blackheads, eczema and other types of skin inflammation), carrot seed oil (carotenoids help decrease damage from ultraviolet exposure, vitamin E), immortelle (helps fade scars, heal stretch marks, reduce the appearance of blemishes), and frankincense oil (astringent and slightly anti-inflammatory, reduces appearance of wrinkles, antioxidant and cell regenerative). Despite the abundance of ingredients, it didn't feel heavy, oily, or even nourishing like a normal serum. It felt very light and astringent, and I ended up violently shaking the little applicator to get more out to fully cover my face, since it absorbed immediately into my skin. (They also recommend you try mixing it with the face mist and applying them together.) The overall effect was so different from what I'm used to. Normally skin routines feel purifying and then moisturizing. This one had a super light touch from beginning to end. It was almost unsatisfying. I wanted to slather night cream all over my face after I was done. These odd products aren't the only options from Mullein & Sparrow. They have an oil cleanser, a regular face wash, dry shampoo, argan oil, and many other options for face, hair, and body care. But these stepchildren of facial care were the ones I got. So I dutifully used the routine for 30 days, and when I was done, I surveyed my face. I had not broken out during that time more than normal, and my face felt hydrated enough. My skin was healthy. But I missed my super-hydrating products, if only for the silly reason that they feel good. I think it's fair to say that my standards for skincare are all the way up here [holds hand above head], since I've been immersed in this world for more than five years. My skin problems have slowly faded as I've improved my diet and refined my beauty routine. I wonder if someone using typical skincare products would notice a marked improvement and become obsessed. It's surely possible!

Overall

The ingredients add up to a great kit that is clean and powerful. Though my personal preference would be to have something more moisturizing, if you like your skincare routine to be light, then one of Mullein & Sparrow's complete kits might be the thing for you.