ethical beauty

Bees + Betterment: Beelove Skincare Uses Local Honey to Bring Jobs to the Formerly Incarcerated

Beelove Chicago skincare social enterprise

It's been said time and time again, but the criminal justice system in America is broken. 

A system that punishes instead of reforms is inherently unethical, not to mention unsustainable, but that's not even the half of it. Black people and other marginalized groups are targeted more frequently than whites and their sentences are harsher. People are jailed for decades for petty and nonviolent crimes (my dear friend Margaret was left impoverished after appealing her son's drug charge. He didn't win and will be in jail for at least another decade in the state of Virginia. Where's the rationale in a 25 year sentence for selling drugs?). Though America comprises 4.4% of the global population, we have 22% of the world's prisoners. And when people finally get out, they have a much harder time getting and maintaining gainful employment. Pairing civil activism and meaningful reform with targeted social outreach programs is the way forward.

For the past few weeks, I've been trying out beelove (they sent me a few products free of charge). beelove makes organic, sustainable honey-based skincare products with a social mission to employ and train formerly incarcerated people in the Chicago area. First, honey from beelove's personal city hives is harvested, then it's combined with naturally-derived ingredients like shea butter, evening primrose oil, coconut oil, and their signature beelove scent. I have always had an affinity with bees because my nickname as a child was Leah Bee, so I'm glad to be able to support a company that respects bees and aids in their longterm preservation through sustainable enterprise, while also providing access to meaningful employment to people who are so often othered and excluded from regular work.

Beelove Chicago skincare social enterprise

There's no better time to receive a couple tubs of honey and floral scented lotions and balms than late fall. 

It's time for me to pay attention to how I treat my skin before the alternating dry heat of the indoors and the nipping cold of the outdoors work their destruction. Maybe this is TMI, but my second winter here caught me so off guard that the skin on my hands and feet was basically shot through most of the spring and summer. Since then, I've made sure to apply thick lotion every night before bed. Just a little bit of care goes a long way.
Beelove Chicago skincare social enterprise

My Review

beelove sent me their Body Cream, Ultimate Body Balm, and Honey & Brown Sugar Scrub to try.

I've tried a fair amount of lotions, scrubs, and creams and I normally don't find a huge difference in quality, but I'm actually quite impressed with beelove's body cream. It's thick, but absorbs well into skin, so it's something I can apply in the middle of the day without risking an oil slick on my hands that makes it impossible to go about my tasks. I've also used it liberally on my feet over the past few weeks and I awake to soft, happy feet.

For the past year, I've been using Thistle Farms (another U.S.-based social enterprise) Body Cream with great results, but I would say beelove is right on par with them in terms of quality, so I'll happily alternate between the two this winter. The scent is also pleasant.

I don't use body balms very frequently, but I am trying to get in the habit of applying this to my dry elbows and cuticles. Like the body cream, the balm is high quality and does what it's supposed to do.

The scrub is a classic product in terms of consistency, ingredients, and scent. I'm enjoying incorporating it into my monthly home pedicure.

The Verdict:

High quality, good consistency, made domestically, for a cause - beelove ticks all the boxes. Simple as that.


Shop beelove here. 

5 Reasons To Dye Your Hair with Henna + My Process

henna dye review process
I decided to ditch traditional chemical hair dyes last year when I realized that some of the more than 5,000 possible ingredients found in the ubiquitous drugstore product are carcinogenic. Used in commercial settings like hair salons, they can also pose a health risk to bystanders. Knowing this - and knowing that there was an easy alternative in henna, having dabbled with it before - made it easy to say goodbye for good.


1. It's conditioning.

Unlike chemical dyes that rough up the hair follicle and make it more porous - and thus, more susceptible to breakage - henna strengthens and conditions the hair follicles. It adds subtle thickness and lots of shine to my fine, dull hair, and the individual strands feel much stronger.

2. It's cost effective.

I pay $5.99 for a 4 ounce tub of henna powder at my local Whole Foods (it's even cheaper online). I just measure out a few tablespoons per treatment and screw the cap back on for easy storage. Since my hair is short, I get 5-7 applications out of one tub!

3. It's pretty and customizable.

You can buy henna in a variety of tones and supplement the dye with things like lemon and tea, though most shades will provide a bit of red. I have friends with very dark hair for whom henna provides a mahogany finish; one of them always mixes her henna with brewed coffee for a richer brown tone. I tend to get more of an auburn to bright red, depending on what shade I use and how long I keep it in. Henna is both heat and time sensitive, so if you wrap your head well and keep it under a dryer or let it sit for several hours, you'll get a brighter, richer tone. If you just want a hint of color, leave it in for an hour or less.

4. It's organic and non-polluting.

Henna is a plant native to parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Henna powder is simply the crushed leaves of the Henna shrub, so standard henna dye contains no artificially-derived ingredients or pollutants. There are formulations of henna dye available on the market that are mixed with other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions, however, so make sure that the henna you purchase has clearly marked ingredients.

5. It connects you to a long tradition.

Henna has been used as a hair dye for 6,000 years and its use spans continents. From Ancient Egypt to India to nineteenth century Europe (a favorite of the Pre-Raphaelites), henna has provided aesthetic pleasure, connected people to their traditions, and reinforced cultural values.

henna hair dye


What you'll need:

  • a glass or plastic mixing bowl
  • a plastic spoon (I use a tablespoon)
  • rubber gloves (optional)
  • boiling water
  • henna powder (I highly recommend Rainbow brand)

What I do:

  1. Boil water in a tea kettle or in the microwave.
  2. Add desired amount of henna powder to a glass bowl (henna reacts to metal, so you must make sure you don't use any metal implements during the mixing or application process). Knowing how much henna you need will take some guessing at first. Err on the side of caution, because you can always mix more later.
  3. Add boiling water to henna powder and mix until the texture resembles cake batter. It should be runny enough for easy application, but thick enough to adhere to itself. You don't want it to fall off of your head during application.
  4. Cover exposed surfaces underneath the bowl containing your henna, apply gloves if desired (the henna will slightly dye exposed skin, but it will fade quickly), and begin applying henna by picking up a clump with your fingers and running it from root to end in thin sections.
  5. Continue until your whole head is covered. Make sure the henna is applied consistently and fairly thickly. You need it to dry to a paste for the dye to set properly. I usually have a bit of henna left in the bowl after my initial application that I use to double coat my hair. The more the merrier.
  6. Wrap your head in a plastic grocery bag or shower cap, then wrap a towel over it. This will keep the heat in.
  7. You can use a blow dryer for maximum saturation. I usually just let the henna sit in my hair for 2 hours.
  8. After the appropriate amount of setting time, jump in the shower and wash the henna paste our of your hair. This normally takes 2 washes for me. Make sure that your shower tiles are washed clean of henna runoff so that they won't stain. 
Henna is a temporary dye unless it is mixed with acid, like vinegar or lemon juice. It will slowly fade over several weeks, leaving you without exposed roots or the need for a touch up.

red hair with henna all natural hair dyeFor this application, I mixed Persian Burgundy with Persian Red for a more subtle red tone. 

Any questions? Just let me know and I'll do my best to answer them! 

If you dye your hair with henna, feel free to tag me (@stylewiseblog) in your Instagram and Twitter posts!