It kind of boggles my mind when I think about it, but green beauty has now been around long enough to have its heritage brands. Companies like Kahina, RMS, La Bella Figura, Josh Rosebrook, Ilia, May Lindstrom and a few others have spent years building their brand, bringing out new products and refining their packaging, and now they are able to compete with conventional luxury brands, not only in the hearts of consumers, but even on the shelves of department stores. As proud and happy as this makes me, however, one of the things I love about green beauty is its constant ability to surprise and delight with new discoveries. One such discovery was Mahalo Skin Care. A beautiful and ambitious brand out of Hawaii, it seems to have gone from 0 to 60, taking no time in growing from a plucky upstart into an elegant and adored green beauty superstar. I was fortunate to experience all of Mahalo’s tightly edited lineup, including a very special new release, as well as meeting its gorgeous founder Maryna (she’s Russian! Yay!) and Mahalo products have all become cherished skincare staples.
Vitality Elixir. Every green beauty brand worth its glass jars has at least one oil serum in its lineup and Mahalo is no exception. Vitality Elixir is one of the more unusual face oils out there and it has quickly become my go-to favorite. The dark golden serum is a mix of fairly rare and incredibly healing and nourishing oils like tamanu, my beloved sea buckthorn (probably the most “common” oil in the mix, which is saying something), chia and kukui, bolstered by acne-fighting black cumin seed oil, radiance-enhancing carrot seed oil, as well as turmeric (an anti-inflammatory superstar), immortelle and the antioxidant ubiquinone (aka CoQ10). The smell of the serum is as unique as its ingredients: it smells both herbal and flowery, spicy and somehow dry. I think this is mainly due to turmeric, but (and this might not make much sense) it doesn’t actually specifically smell of turmeric, rather it’s a captivating, tropical, exotic scent. If you are sensitive to smell, it does dissipate very quickly, but I would suggest trying a sample just to be sure.
This combination of ingredients makes Vitality Elixir extremely nourishing, yet somehow also quite light. It’s one of the few oils I use throughout the year – it’s light enough for summer and is the perfect layering oil for a winter routine. I feel like most of my product recommendations tend to be for the drier/more mature skin types, simply because those happen to be my skincare concerns and Vitality Elixir addresses them beautifully, but it would also make a fabulous oil for oilier and acneic skins. The combination of antibacterial black cumin with anti-inflammatory and healing tamanu, sea buckthorn and turmeric, along with this oil’s lighter texture, make it suitable even for the most congested of skins. This would also be the oil I’d recommend for the dreaded adult acne: I can’t think of another product that is both explicitly anti-acne and anti-aging.
Even before you try their products, one of the most striking things about Mahalo is its bamboo packaging. I adore it, since it is both sustainable, gorgeous, unusual and serves to protect the product withing by filtering out sunlight. The packaging for Vitality Elixir is also a perfect example of a brand constantly striving to do better. Although I loved the serum’s bamboo packaging, I found its twist-off top a tad tricky to open. Plus, and this is the pettiest of complaints, the black rubber dropper was… Well, not quite as chic as I would have liked. Imagine then my delight, when upon receiving my next bottle of Vitality Elixir I discovered that its packaging was revamped. Instead of the dropper bottle, it now came in a gorgeous rose gold pump (post-revamp the bottle is also bigger, at the industry-standard 30ml), which, aside from being much more user-friendly and far more attractive, has the added benefit of being airless and thus keeping the product from oxidation.
Pele Mask. The volcanic ash-based Pele Mask is probably one of the best known Mahalo products (at least if Instagram is anything to go by) and with good reason: it’s a lovely, effective mask. The powder mask is a mixture of aforementioned volcanic ash, red Hawaiian clay, bamboo ash and an unusual (notice a trend?) mix of skin benefitting botanicals like neem, hibiscus, tulsi, turmeric and ginger, to name a few. It also contains cayenne (albeit low on the ingredient list, meaning that it is not present in an especially high quantity), so the mask is warming on the skin. If I am perfectly honest, I am kind of on the fence about the use of heating spices in masks. On the one hand, they improve circulation and certainly seem to work for me, on the other, they can increase the risk of irritation. Because the cayenne is so low on the ingredient list, I find Pele sufficiently gentle – it’s certainly gentler than the May Lindstrom Problem Solver, a similarly dark-colored, warming, detoxifying powder mask. That being said, if you have rosacea, I would steer clear of this and all other heating masks.
Pele is a delight to use and it has an immediate impact on the skin. According to the Englishman, it “smells like Hawaii” and his reaction upon washing it off was, and I quote: “Holy crap, look how smooth my skin is!” Its smell really is evocative: the mixture of volcanic ash and botanicals makes it smell a little like a walk in Hawaii. If I had any qualms, is that I think this mask takes some elbow grease to remove thoroughly. It’s a very fine powder (do not sneeze nor exhale too forcefully before you had a chance to mix it with water) and I noticed that after I washed it off, I had tiny particles of ash sticking to my pores. It’s a minor problem though and they came right off after a couple of swipes with a washcloth, leaving me with clear, smooth, glowing skin. As an added treat, each mask comes with a coupon code inside the lid, so that you can refill the pretty bamboo jar at more than 30% off.
Sunny Face Toner. You will notice that there is no link for this toner and it’s because it’s not currently in the Mahalo lineup. I know that at one point the brand’s creator Maryna was planning on releasing it and I still hope she does. The reason I am reviewing it is because it’s another example of the thoughtful formulation behind all of Mahalo’s products. The toner is a water-free mixture of tamanu and carrot seed oil, green tea and immortelle extracts, lavender, geranium and chamomile EOs in a base of allow vera and witch hazel (with colloidal silver acting both as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agent). It has a soft, light scent, is wonderfully hydrating and soothing and my skin really seems to drink it in. It seems unfair to extoll the virtues of a product that is not available for sale, so consider this a not-so-subtle plea to Maryna to bring it into the lineup. Face-having Americans demand it!
Mahalo Balm. Mahalo’s eponymous balm is a bit like Vitality Elixir on steroids. The rich, orange, waterless balm and the serum share several of the ingredients (kukui, tamanu, sea buckthorn, carrot seed, turmeric) and that spicy/dry/floral-turmeric scent. The balm also amps up its hydrating and healing punch with several super-nourishing butters, healing botanicals (marigold, neem, comfrey, lavender), extra oils, including rich macadamia, and beeswax (vegans – take note).
The balm is gorgeous: rich, lush and very hydrating and it’s definitely on the oilier side as balms go (for reference, I consider the Blue Cocoon to be an oily balm, La Bella Figura’s Rainforest Hydration Treatment a “dry” balm, with the Laurel balms falling somewhere in the middle). Whereas I strongly recommend the Vitality Elixir for oily/breakout prone skins, I’d urge caution with the Mahalo Balm. Although it doesn’t contain the usual breakout culprits like shea or coconut oil, if your skin is especially oily, you might find it a tad too rich. Still, it would be wonderful to protect the skin in the bitter cold and its cheery color and tropical scent can help brighten up the misery of the darkest February.
Vacation Glow. This recently released body oil is a standout in playing field crowded with gorgeous body oils. For starters, it’s a shimmering oil filled with gold mica particles. As regular readers of this blog know, I can’t think of anything better to make you look like a leggy supermodel, than a swipe of a shimmery, golden oil. In addition to its aesthetic attributes, Vacation Glow’s ingredient list features some of the same lush oils as Mahalo’s facial oil (kukui, tamanu, sea buckthorn), which means that it will go a step further beyond basic hydration. The oil is also “infused with proprietary subtle energy blueprints of select crystals, plants and Earth elements”. I have to admit that the cynic in me balks at the inclusion of spiritual woo-woo in the ingredient list, yet I think it’s important to know that thought, passion and intention went into the creation of this product. Whether you actually believe that energies of crystals and the like can make an appreciable difference to the softness of your kneecaps, I firmly believe that when a product is made with love it shows and it’s clear that plenty of love went into the making of Vacation Glow.
Another thing that makes this body oil a standout is its smell. With its mixture of bold florals like Hawaiian jasmine, ylang ylang and tuberose, this is one of the most heady body oils I have ever tried. The scent is not too floral, tempered as it is by sandalwood and frankincense, but it is definitely strong. It’s sexy and bold and beautiful, but if you are sensitive to scent, I would suggest trying a sample to make sure it agrees with you, especially because the scent does linger.
My only issue with this oil is, surprisingly, the packaging. Its bamboo bottle (by the way, did I mention that each product has a silhouette of a different Hawaiian island on its packaging?) has a cheap-seeming plastic pump that sprayed and sputtered the golden oil all over my bathroom floor, mirror – anywhere but my body. I’m sure that I was simply unlucky with a malfunctioning pump, but I do hope that eventually this body oil gets the same upgrade as the Vitality Elixir. It deserves it.
Rare Indigo. *Drum roll please* Introducing the latest addition to the Mahalo lineup: the exquisite Rare Indigo balm! Now, you might look at the preceding sentence and shrug: so it’s another balm. At this point beautifully-formulated balms have long ceased being a rarity and are practically a dime a dozen. Hell, even Mahalo has a balm of its own. So why the excitement? Because, and I say this with no exaggeration, this balm is entirely unique. For starters, there is its texture. Remember my classification of balms into oily, dry and in-between? Well, this one feels almost like a cream (or possibly a gel-cream, a la the lighter version of La Mer): it’s soft, smooth and unctuous. Rare Indigo is free of waxes, but it doesn’t feel like a solidified oil, which is what wax-free balms tend to feel like. I’m not sure how Maryna managed to achieve this cream-like texture in a waterless balm, but I love it!
The Rare Indigo ingredient lineup is very impressive and, again, quite unusual. The balm uses hemp oil as its main ingredient and I’m kind of surprised that we don’t see it used in skincare more often. Pot jokes aside (but not really, because there is always time for pot jokes), hemp oil is chock full of fatty acid, making it supremely nourishing. Curiously, it’s also polymer-forming, which I would guess could be the reason for the balm’s gorgeous texture. The hemp is bolstered by a host of exotic oils (murumuru, babassu, marula, camelia and kukui) and botanicals, which include the balm’s namesake, azulene-rich indigo plant.
The scent of the balm is sweetly herbal and quite lovely and while it’s not subtle, it does disappear quickly. I have been using Rare Indigo while battling an interminable cold and New York’s freakish and frustrating weather, so my skin condition has been far from optimal (read: red, inflamed, irritated mess) and I have been able to see a difference after every application. I’ve been using it overnight, but I’m looking forward to winter, when it will make the perfect daytime cold weather balm (though I’d suggest using a light touch, because it could be a touch greasy if over-applied). By the way, the little jar in the image above was the pre-release sample – Rare Indigo comes in the normal Mahalo bamboo packaging. It’s also a different color: because of the color properties of indigo, the balm starts out as a soft violet and then slowly changes into the blue you can see in the picture.
I will be interviewing Maryna in an upcoming blog post and there is going to be… *drum roll* a giveaway! I haven’t had one of these in ages and I’m super-excited to be able to do one with Mahalo. Stay tuned!
Disclaimer: I was sent the entire Mahalo lineup as part of being the ANFGB ambassador. It was a pretty sweet gig! I have since purchased the Vacation Glow and will continue to repurchase because these products rock. No affiliate links.