Step-by-Step Guide: How To Do a DIY Natural Beauty Home Facial

weleda Skin Food facial review

If you’ve been inspired by the continued rise of natural and organic beauty then you’ll love this DIY natural facial massage from Weleda, one of my favourite natural and organic beauty brands. It’s also a lovely, nourishing treat to give skin at this time of year as the season and temperatures change.

The key product in this facial is Weleda Skin Food – an iconic skincare product that contains natural extracts of calendula, chamomile, rosemary and lavender, with natural waxes and plant oils (now also available in light version, lip balm and body butter) – alongside a few other Weleda products.

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Treatment of the month: Mindful Massage

Treatment of the month - Mindful Massage

I reviewed a very interesting massage treatment for Natural Health  magazine recently which puts a totally new spin on a traditional massage. Instead of switching off, therapist Belinda Freeman encourages you to tune in and turn the mind on. The Mindful Massage (at Third Space, London) may sound like it defeats the object of having a massage but it’s actually quite clever and totally unique.

Belinda talks through the massage in a quiet, soft and soothing voice to keep you focussed on your body and breath. It’s totally guided so there’s little opportunity or space to let the mind wander, working in a similar way to some meditation where  you just focus on your breath. As the mind starts to drift off, she brings you back to the present and to the sensations of her touch.

She’s cleverly combined elements from yoga nidra (yoga sleep where you stay consciously focussed but your body is in deep relaxation) with the concept of mindfulness (being aware of thoughts, actions and emotions) as well as drawing on her 25 years of experience in Tai Chi, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, hypnotherapy, counselling and more.

Recommended? Yes, definitely. Try this massage if you’re having problems relaxing and need to de-stress and settle the mind. Not only do you get an excellent massage, worth the session in itself, but may discover a new way to increase focus, clarity and emotional stability. It’s great if you have experience of yoga nidra too as there are several similarities to relate to.

Available at Third Space gym in London. Check out Belinda’s profile on Third Space or her website Mindful Mind for more info. Let me know if you’ve tried anything like this before?


Friday facial

On Friday I had one of the best facials I’ve ever had.  It was by Notting Hill facialist Una Brennan, who has had every beauty journalist and West London celebrity praising her unique style. She uses SkinCeuticals products on the face but for those who read my coconut oil post the other day, you’ll be pleased to hear this wonder woman facialist slathered almost half a pot of the stuff on my upper body too for a shoulder and back massage. The whole treatment was an epic, two-hour extravaganza.

She dove deep into the pot of coconut oil for an extraordinary back, shoulders and neck massage, while I was laying firmly fixed on my back. Somehow, Una managed to weasel her way through the minuscule space between my back and the bed and manoeuvre her hands and fingers in stunning, snake-like motions, up and down, up and down, up and down, releasing every bit of tension. This was meant to prepare the face for lymphatic drainage.

I loved hearing Una say everyone should have a pot of coconut oil in the kitchen and a pot in the bathroom; sometimes she said, she even sleeps in the stuff  (as long as you don’t mind the smell). That was music to my ears. :) . Look out for my review of Una’s facial in West London Living online mag in a few weeks time.


Tried and loved: New Year’s day massage in Zanzibar

Me at Mrembo Spa, Zanzibar

Having just returned from my big Tanzanian adventure, I couldn’t wait to tell you about my New Year’s day massage by a local, blind therapist on Zanzibar (island off Africa’s east coast). This turned out to be an unbeatable way to see in 2011!

After a few too many drinks the night before in Stone Town – a sleepy tourist town with hundreds of years of Arabic and Portuguese history – I woke up to a wonderful invite by my friend, to go to Mrembo Spa – ‘mrembo’ meaning a woman who loves to pamper herself, in Swahilli – for a massage by Aisha, their blind therapist. An offer I couldn’t refuse as I’ve many massages but never one by a blind person.

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Can a massage bust your fat?

Elemis-cellutox-body-concentrateLast week I tried two massages designed to pummel away my cellulite. The first one: a heavy duty, all hands-elbows-knuckles, sumo-style massage at Neville Hair & Beauty in Chelsea, London; the second:  a slightly more holistic experience at Elemis Day Spa in Central London.

While I’m no slimmer, a lymphatic drainage massage has a great effect on cranking circulation into gear and is worth any discomfort. I’m no wimp when it comes to body treatments – I have regular sports treatments with the most bruising of sports masseurs – but Tetyana at Neville’s came a close second as she kneaded my thighs until they were red hot and then used cupping to blast circulation even more.

Krisztina in NW London is another masseur with a ‘firm’ yet healing touch – she incorporates more emotional healing with her treatments though and definitely worth a booking in with (

Back to fat. The task at hand was to find ‘instantly slimming tricks’ for Women’s Fitness magazine. Tetyana’s persistent pummelling would reap benefits after a few sessions a week I’m sure – coupled with exercise of course – but the Elemis Body Sculpting and Cellulite Colon Therapy gave me a flatter tummy literally the next day. That was thanks to some firm prods around the belly which basically shifted everything around. So thumbs up there.

At home, I religiously reach for the body oil post shower and massage it in firmly, pretending I’m on the massage bed just without the bruises at the end. Eventually it all adds up and you end up with smooth skin all the time, leaving  you with less need to visit sadistic massage therapists too.

Review: Divine Retreats, Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini, Tuscany Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini, Tuscany Italy

Fattoria Mansi Bernardini Italy

Lucky me, I’ve just returned from a beautiful few days in the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy on a Divine Retreats yoga holiday. The setting was unbeatable – a 16th century estate restored but still seeping with history and original antique furniture, with several villas and farmhouses, vineyards and 200 acres of land. Welcome to Fattoria Mansi Bernardini.

The week-long retreat consisted of gentle, mood-enhancing yoga twice a day (with Francis D’Angelo from Special Yoga Centre in London) and sessions with holistic practitioners, such as Journey Healing (with Sandra Ferreira), Theta Healing (with Lorena Granata), Remedial Massage (with Krisztina Karanyicz) and Art Meditation (with Dalia Zermon). I also met Yogi Malik from Yoga Magazine, and Miss Eco Glam.

My visit was brief but it was enough to enjoy the fantastic food whipped up from the family kitchen every night as well as local cheese, biodynamic wine from the neighbouring vineyard and olive oil from the estate’s own olive trees. Amazing.

Look out for a more in-depth review in Natural Health magazine next year.

Thank you Divine Retreats!

The next trip will be in Spring 2011.Visit for more details