A California Gal’s Wet Dream -or- The Natural Products Expo West

Great weather, better products

Great weather, even better products at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA

Every year, thousands converge on the city of Anaheim not to spend the day with a giant mouse and his pals but to shop and sample the latest trends in natural food, beauty, health and wellness. With over 20,000 square feet of space at their disposal,  2,000+ companies put their best products on display in an attempt to connect with suppliers, distributors, and consumers in one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Big name giants like KIND and Annie’s were just a few booths down from startups that were launching just this year. It is an eye-opening experience that will turn even the most skeptical into a more conscious, educated consumer.  How is it only in town for three days???

This was my second year attending Natural Products Expo so I knew for the most part what to expect. I had to pace myself. I had to breathe. And I had to wear REALLY comfortable shoes. However, this year I had the added challenge of my new Paleo diet (more on that journey to come) which switched my focus from solely health and beauty to more food and nutrition based. It didn’t occur to me until I was quite literally surrounded by thousands of tempting sweet and savory samples being all but thrusted in my face that this was going to be really freaking hard.

Luckily, I found a few things that would satisfy my cravings including Mammoth Bars. With a slogan like “Paleo for the Modern World”, how could I go wrong? Using organic sprouted nuts, dates, and sea salt, the guys behind Mammoth Bars let their ingredients do the talking. Not only are their bars a great mix of sweet and savory but they have solved my need for a quick, go to snack. For a true sweet tooth fix, there’s Emmy’s delicious macaroons which hare made with organic raw ingredients. The Lemon Ginger is out of this world. I’ve never had a coconut macaroon that tasted this good and wasn’t raw. I will be ordering cases of both these products today if not sooner.

Must...have...more Mammoth Bars and Emmy's Macaroons!!

Must…have…more Mammoth Bars and Emmy’s Macaroons!!

Beauty wise, I noticed that there seemed to be less brands than last year which was a bit disappointing. There were some pretty cool finds from smaller companies including Doctor Lip Bang’s Lip Freak – an all natural lip balm that tingles just because it can (I’m assuming its supposed to make kissing fun…I’d say I’d let you know but we all know that might take a while.) Another balm I really liked was the Passion Fruit Lip Butter from Rooted Beauty who’s product’s proceeds fund different individual women and girls around the world. I was really struck by that and saw that while this “Toms effect” is a growing trend in the Natural Product industry, Rooted beauty found a way to make it personal and, in doing so, beautiful. In breaking with the traditional lip balm idea, Clean George puts healing salves in a stick, making them easy to used and much more sanitary. I picked up samples of Stuffed Up (a natural Vicks alternative) and Chill Out (self explanatory…it’s got lavender.)

Battle of the Balms: Contenders include Rooted Beauty's Lip Butter, Clean George's Chill out and Stuffed up, The Honest Co's Organic Lip Balm in Lavender Mint, Doctor Lip Bang's Lip Freak, Burt's Bees New Hydrating Lip Balm

Battle of the Balms: Contenders include Rooted Beauty’s Lip Butter in Passionfruit, Clean George’s Chill out and Stuffed up, The Honest Co’s Organic Lip Balm in Lavender Mint, Doctor Lip Bang’s Lip Freak in Atomic Cherry , Burt’s Bees New Hydrating Lip Balm with Coconut and Pear

The real joy in this expo comes in the new products that will be launching this year. From Suja to Pacifica to J.R. Watkins – there are a lot of really exciting things coming out that I will be sure to share here as they do. I think that anyone wanting to better understand ANYTHING about products that are just better for you should think about attending one of these shows. The East show is in Baltimore, MD this fall and it is sure to change your life. For good.

Free Vespa rides from BOOMCHICKAPOP. This. Is. Awesome.

Free Vespa rides from BOOMCHICKAPOP. This. Is. Awesome.

Godspell at GSB -or- How I Found Jesus In MAC Eyeliner

ImageTo make a long story short I volunteered to be on the hair and makeup team for my old high school’s steampunk-themed production of Godspell.

To make a short story a little longer, I did not volunteer to be on the hair and makeup team for my old high school’s steampunk-themed production of Godspell- I was volunTOLD to do so by my mother, who has headed up the theater program’s critically acclaimed beauty squad for almost ten years.

At this point I should remind all of you that my sister is a makeup artist and I am not…

 

I’m a little ashamed to admit that at first I was only in it for the steampunk. I’ve always had a thing for anti-historical countercultural phenomena (don’t you?), and the idea of being able to work out my feels about the aesthetics of clockwork on a bunch of willing participants was genuinely appealing. In the weeks leading up to the show I shopped for wigs, ordered custom hairpieces from The Wig Mistress Allison Lowery, made vision boards, picked out products, and watched this Panic at the Disco music video a million times for reference. Then, it was time to meet the kids.

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If you don’t think these are the cutest people in the world then idk what to tell you, bro

When I say it took me twelve seconds to fall in love with this cast, I actually mean it only took me eleven. I’m not even going to say they were really nice kids because “nice” understates the depths of the kindness and love I experienced while staying backstage with them. Also because nice people wouldn’t say half the shit that comes out of their mouths. Seriously, what a bunch of sassmonsters.

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Sure, they look cute NOW…

Because of the steampunk/carnival theme of the show, our hair and makeup design had to toe the line between circuslike showmanship and the vaguely gothic undertones of the steampunk subculture. We ended up pulling inspiration from sources as disparate as Pirates of the Caribbean, I Dream of Jeannie, and mid-00s Punk/Emo bands for our lookbook.

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Madame Kasiana had elements of Captain Jack in her dreadlocked extensions. Both the extensions and the red/gold yarn fall on the left are gorgeous custom pieces by Allison Lowery.

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Two fake braids and a custom headpiece transformed Alexandra into a titian Barbara Eden.

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Panic At the Disco Jesus wants me to get out of his face. Spoiler alert: I do not get out of Panic at the Disco Jesus’ face.

Most of our eye looks were created with MAC products, especially our guyliner-intensive Jesus and Judas. Some pictures I have were taken after the show so they’re smeared a bit (try as I did to torture the cast with a setting spray that I’m pretty sure will give them all nightmares AND trust issues), but the three kinds of eyeliner we used are all reasonably durable.

Judas had a My Chemical Romance circa “The Black Parade” vibe, with a military-styled leather trenchcoat and a dirty, coal-dusty look that contrasted him with Jesus’ simpler style. For his eyes I coated his waterline with MAC Eye Kohl in “Smolder” and smeared on an oversized cat eye with an off-brand chubby black liner. The MAC Eye Kohl ended up being a godsend for me, mostly because it goes on easy and rolls oh-so creamily along the lash line.

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I’m just a holy fool oh baby, he’s so cruel but I’m still in love with Judas, baby!

I also used the MAC Eye Kohl to get at Jesus’ waterline, but I only lined his bottom lid to keep from shadowing his dark eyes (by contrast, Judas has blue eyes that looked especially menacing coming through the black makeup). I also added a spike tail to Jesus’ liner using the MAC Liquid Eye Liner in black, which settled into the laugh lines at the sides of his eyes and emphasized his smile. You can see from the photo below that the Eye Kohl smeared but the Liquid Liner stayed for the entire performance.

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“I said get out of my fa-“
“NO.”

The third kind of liner we used was a MAC Fluidline gel liner in “Blacktrack.” I didn’t work with this liner as much, but we used it in conjunction with Tim Holtz Sprocket Gears (carefully adhered with DUO eyelash glue) to create abstract clockwork designs on some characters’ faces, like Madame Kasiana above and Erin Aaron below:

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We added this pretty spiraling look to console Erin because this was the second show in a row where she played a male impersonator. Next year we promised her ball gowns and sparkles. Let’s hope they don’t end up doing Twelfth Night.

I was only involved with the cast for the very last week of the production, but I already miss my Godspell babies. I’m so glad I got to meet the seniors (Henry, Katherine, Kasey, and Max- you are all gorgeous specimens of humanity and I want good things to happen to you always) as well as the new people who have more recently come into the GSB theater family.

I dropped hints about the Godspell playlist I made after stumbling home opening night, so I’m embedding it at the end of this post as a bonus for the cast. There’s one track for each of their characters…some of them are pretty easy to figure out but others are a little trickier!

Happy Godspell, everybody!

-Alexis