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.

I was lucky to have this facial – also known as the 30-minute miracle worker by Weleda therapists as it’s so good at boosting the complexion – at Valley Fest in Bristol this summer.

Weleda Skin Food - Product Still

Valley Fest is a lovely family-friendly weekend of music, local food and fancy dress. Weleda had a corner with a fabulous van stocked full of products and therapy tents for the perfect post-party respite.

There were also talks and workshops on natural skincare, with special guest such as Emine Ali Rushton, sharing her wisdom on holistic and Ayurvedic living, following the launch of her book, Sattva.

weleda tent valley fest.JPG

If you’re not familiar with the community of Weleda therapists, they’re a lovely bunch who work remotely around the country and who are available for products, treatments, and knowledge-sharing on skincare and ingredients.

If you don’t live near a Weleda therapist then you can try this facial on yourself at home. Here’s a complete step-by-step guide to the Skin Food Facial – get ready for some personal pamper time…

weleda tent valley fest.JPG
Me enjoying my Skin Food facial at Valley Fest

Step 1.


Soak a face flannel in hot water with a little Rosemary Bath Milk, wring the flannel so it’s only damp but still warm and apply to the face to open up the pores and wake up/perk up the circulation. If skin would benefit from calming/soothing rather than stimulating, try the Lavender Bath Milk. If skin is hypersensitive, the gentle Calendula Baby Cream Bath could be used instead which is less aromatic.

Step 2.


Using the Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion on two damp cotton wool pads, remove grime and make-up. Use both hands simultaneously, mirror image, for a lovely balanced feeling. Around the eyes, gently cleanse with Almond Soothing Facial Oil to remove eye make-up. Warm or luke-warm cotton wool pads are preferable to very cold water on the eyes.

Optional extra.


If more time, an organic unbleached chamomile tea bag can be used to make as an infusion for an eye compress (lightly soak cotton wool pads in the tea which has been allowed to cool slightly in a bowl before applying; cotton pads can be folded into half moons) whilst the facial massage is being done or the mask is on (to complete the Skin Food experience). The calming chamomile fragrance relaxes.

Step 3.


Using the fragrance-free Almond Soothing Facial Oil, gently massage the face to stimulate the circulation and relax the soft tissues, tailoring the massage to the individual.

weleda skin food facial how to

Step 4.


Apply a generous layer of Skin Food, warming it between your hands to make it easier to work with, and leave on the face as an intensive treatment for five minutes (or longer if time allows). If you have combination skin with an oily T-zone, just use Skin Food on the cheeks and drier areas, to avoid overloading the skin.

Step 5.


Soak a face flannel in hot water with a little Lavender Bath Milk and apply to the face to melt and release the mask. Gently lift away any excess Skin Food with the flannel and gently wipe/tidy any remaining thick areas of cream using a damp cotton pad (this may not be necessary if it has been absorbed).

Step 6.


Depending on the skin, finish with a light application of Skin Food Light to moisturise (for younger/oilier skin, this may not be necessary if Skin Food has worked its magic), and a little Skin Food Lip Balm on the lips.

Would love to hear if you’ve had this facial with a Weleda therapist or if you give it a go at home!

9 Things To Know About Organic Tea Grown In India

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

It’s Organic September and my inbox has been full of news of brands and products supporting organic. Great news! The benefits of organic farming and production stretch from soil, planet and wildlife, to farmers, products and consumers. Everyone’s a winner. Which is probably why sales of organic products hit £22billion in 2017 up 6% from 2016.

One email stood out and that was Clipper Teasorganic tea production in Southern India with a small peek behind the scenes. If you’ve ever wondered how tea is cultivated organic, here are nine things I discovered about how Clipper Teas does it in the Nilgiri Mountains:

  1. In this region, 40% of the total population works in the tea industry (source: wessanen uk)
  2. 60% of workers have emigrated from Northern India, for the better pay and working conditions
  3. Tea plants (Camellia Sinensis) are fertilised with nitrogen from cow manure
  4. First, cow dung arrives at the plantation and dried. Then it’s mixed with thousands of worms to help aerate it. This means bringing oxygen into the manure.  The compost is then rotated until it’s ready to use
  5. The plantations are also experimenting with an algae farm as another way of cultivating organic – read the science behind how and why algae is used in organic farming here. It’s basically a cost-effective and eco way to boost plant growth
  6. Plantations are also trialling compost from local food waste
  7. Plant, insect and bird life are thought be 50% more abundant on organic farms compared to non. Locals say there are now more bison in the area
  8. Fewer pesticides and genetically modified ingredients not only benefit the soil and environment but the workers too, who no longer have to put their health at risk when spaying plants with chemicals
  9. Not just certified by the Soil Association, the majority of these plantations are also Fairtrade (Clipper Teas was the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company in 1994and more are in the pipeline,helping to provide workers and communities with additional funding for healthcare, education, better pay and employment benefits, such as sick leave.

So next time you kick back with a cup of tea, choose one that’s organic for the benefits of the environment, wildlife, and most importantly, the tea workers and villages who are better off because of it.

Now, here’s a snapshot of the people behind your tea!

clipper teas organic farming india

clipper teas organic farming india tea workers

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations picking leaves

clipper teas organic farming india tea plantations workers


Picture credits: Clipper Teas


Happy Organic September! 

organic beauty week 2016

organic beauty week 2016 Every September the Soil Association celebrates going organic – for food, fashion, health, beauty, even holidays – and 19th September is officially the start of Organic Beauty Week, where we get to big up brilliant brands doing great things with natural ingredients and better farming methods (organic produce is grown with no synthetic fertilisers and lower levels of pesticides, which is better for farmers, the soil, the environment, the end product and ultimately our health).

Supporting organic is a no brainer – according the World Health Organisation, over 350,000 unintentional deaths occur each year, mainly in developing countries as a result of pesticide use. Closer to home in the EU, two thirds of all antibiotics are used on livestock (contributing to serious bacteria resistance) but under Soil Association certification routine use of antibiotics wouldn’t be allowed. Check out the Soil Association’s Save our Antibiotics campaign here.

In beauty, the focus is on labelling. Next time you need to buy a new moisturiser or change up a skin or bath product, instead of turning to any pretty packaging with a leaf or floral print, look for a certified label instead. This proves the brand has been regulated and accredited with rigorous scrutiny across the whole of its supply chain to prove every element is as sustainable as possible – accrediting bodies like Soil Association really put brands through their paces so that stamp is well earned!

What being certified means….

So #lookforthelogo or check out the Soil Association certified organic beauty brands and find your favourites or try something new.

My beauty recommendations? I featured a few of my favourites in September issue Health & Fitness magazine so check out Botanicals facial oils, Neal’s Yard Remedies new oil-free hydrating serum, Pai moisturisers and Odylique’s new sunscreen.

organic beauty week 2016 health & fitness magazine


Let me know what you’ve tried and loved. Happy organic September!


In the kitchen: Organic sprouted GABA rice

I’d never heard of GABA rice until recently when introduced me to two varieties: Green Tea Jasmine rice, and Black Rice.  Both are germinated / sprouted rice before being milled to encourage a higher content of vitamins, nutrients and particularly an amino acid called GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). I tried both and the results were pretty tasty…

gaba rice jasmine green and black

According to nutritional experts, germinated or sprouted rice has higher nutritional value than ordinary rice with more fibre and antioxidants. According to Minvita this rice contains ten times the amount of gamma-amino butyric acid which can aid kidney function.

It took a little longer than conventional white rice, probably about the same time as brown rice, and the cooked texture is not as soft and fluffy as white but is a bit more solid.

How to cook GABA rice:

  • For every cup of rice use 1.5 cups of water. Rinsing not needed.
  • Pour water over rice in a pot with a lid.
  • Bring to the boil with the lid on then reduce heat to simmer once the water has almost evaporated and cook for 40 minutes on the steam.
  • Remove from heat and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.

You can buy GABA rice from, £5.99

Happy birthday Weleda Skin Food + Your chance to WIN!

weleda skin food 90 birthday blog

weleda skin food 90 birthday

The iconic beauty product Weleda Skin Food is celebrating its 90th birthday! Happy birthday!

Before I go into the million and one ways you can use Skin Food I just want to share what a skin-saver it is for any kind of ghastly dermatitis. I developed an allergic reaction to a plastic material in a pair of shoes recently which caused intense itching, burning and inflammation that went on for days even after I stopped wearing them. The only thing that would calm this awful reaction and let the skin heal was Weleda Skin Food. I can’t recommend it enough!

Back to the celebrations….

Weleda Skin Food is the number one selling skincare product for Weleda in the UK and loved by a host of celebrities: Victoria Beckham, Adele, Julia Roberts, Erin O’Connor, Alexa Chung, Helena Christensen, and many more are true fans.

“I put it on my hands after I wash dishes and wind up putting it on my elbows and feet. Before you know it, I’ve squeezed this poor little green tube into a twist”. Julia Roberts

It’s a staple backstage at London Fashion Week and other shows as models and makeup artists love using it too to keep skin soft, hydrated, nourished and glowing. It’s also a favourite at The Model Zone which is where models can unwind, relax, get pampered and prepped ready for their next show.

weleda skin food 90 birthday facial

Skin Food was one of the original Weleda products developed in the 1920s

Weleda was born in 1921 in Switzerland and the British arm launched in London in 1925. Weleda was inspired by Rudolf Steiner, a scientist and philosopher who founded the organic agriculture movement with biodynamic farming. He also founded Steiner education and anthroposophic medicine (a holistic approach to healthcare of mind, body, spirit) so was a true visionary and his ideas still shape and drive the brand today. Manufacturing products “in harmony with nature and the human being” was a founding principle and still a cornerstone of the brands today – an inspiring concept to live by and one of the reasons I really rate Weleda.

weleda skin food 90 birthday blog

My favourite way to use Weleda Skin Food…..

Come winter, my ultimate beauty tip is to pop a mini 15ml tube of Weleda Skin Food in my handbag and use it as a cold-weather lip salve. The rich oils from organic sweet almond, sunflower seed, beeswax and lanolin as well as organic plant actives from calendula, chamomile, rosemary and wild pansy, gently soothe, nourish, heal and protect. It does the same for any patch of dry or irritated skin. In fact I remember it cleared up a another little bout of dermatitis I had a few years ago after using too much cheap hand soap in an office I was working at. (I’m a sensitive one!).

weleda skin food mini 90 birthday


Book a Weleda Skin Food Facial!

Yes, Skin Food facials are now available all around the UK via Weleda Wellbeing Advisors. Some of them are giving them away for free with Weleda product purchases. Others are selling the facials, particularly  if they are facialists, but you get a free Skin Food thrown in so it’s definitely worth it! Find your nearest Weleda Wellbeing Advisor here.


Fancy winning a Weleda Skin Food facial collection worth around £80? Of course you do! The collection includes:

  • 30ml Skin Food
  • 200ml Rosemary Invigorating Bath Milk
  • 75ml Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion
  • 50ml Almond Soothing Facial Oil
  • 30ml Almond Soothing Facial Lotion
  • 200ml Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk
  • Two organic cotton muslins, and organic cotton pads, plus a chamomile tea bag for the infusion!
  • PLUS a booklet detailing the Skin Food 30 minute miracle worker facial routine so you can try it at home – on yourself or a friend/loved on/anyone willing.

TO ENTER: Simply follow @YanarBeauty and @WeledaUK on Twitter and share this blog post on any of your social media channels with the hashtags #celebrateskinfood.

Competition small print:
Entries close Friday 29th July 2016 at 5pm
Open to UK residents only
One entry per person
No cash alternative
Winner announced Monday 1st August 2016

How argan oil is made at Weleda’s fairtrade women’s programmes

I’m on the west coast of Morocco in a tiny village outside Essouira watching 30-40 local Berber women crack argan oil kernels with little rocks and nimble fingers onto big slabs of stone. The sound of tick-tick-tack-tack fills the air above the low murmur of chitter chatter. I’m with Weleda UK, the health and beauty brand that sources its fairtrade and organic argan oil from this women’s cooperative. These Berber women have been shelling argan for generations but now they’re being paid a better wage with good working conditions and even family benefits. They kindly let us film and photograph this fascinating process, which was a very special experience so I’m really pleased to be able to share it with you.

Most people have heard about argan oil – one of the biggest buzz words in beauty and haircare in recent years – but what you may not know is how labour intensive the journey is to get this prized argan fruit from seed to skin and what a superfood it is for skin and health.

My trip involved seeing the wild argan tree forests, the local Berber women at work, as well as the creche and kindergarten that looks after and educates their kids while they work, the filtration and production process and of course, sampling the finished argan oil products – both culinary and cosmetic.

Here I share the top three things you should know about argan oil and beauty as well as a few magical highlights from the Weleda trip.

1. Argan trees are precious property but in decline

The argan tree is an ancient species, thought to date back millions of years in this south-west region of Morocco. They survive dry and windy conditions in the semi-desert like terrain with their scruffy, rather rugged looking appearance but apparently it’s their long root systems that travel far through the soil and limestone that help seek out water, anchor them firmly into the ground and even keep the desert at bay. With gnarly branches, these trees are viciously thorny so don’t get too close. Only goats are unperturbed so it’s a striking sight to see them at the top of an argan tree, nibbling the fruit.

how fairtrade organic argan oil forest is made in morocco weleda

thorny argan tree how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda
argan tree how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda

We took a brilliant ecological walking trip across the coast and our guide described the decline of argan trees over the last 100 years. At the turn of the 20th century Morocco had around 2 million hectares of argan trees but during the 1970s and 80s, there was drastic depletion due to a number of reasons: trees were felled to make way for fruit farming; chopped down for wood, destroyed through fires, or over-grazing by goats and camels. Considered to be the gold of Morocco, this region is now Unesco protected.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin eco walk

2. Producing argan oil is a long and labour intensive process

Extracting argan oil is time and labour intensive, which is why sourcing fairtrade is important. With the rise in worldwide demand for the ingredient, it’s easy for large cooperations to overlook the man (correction: woman) hours it takes to produce and bring prices down, which only really serves the end multinational while the Berber women who do the work are likely to get a raw deal.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin womens cooperative2

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda womenThat’s why the Sidi Yassine cooperative is so special. Ulysses Müller is the founder and owner of the cooperative which Weleda UK sources its 100% natural, fairtrade and organic argan oil from. Ulysses, of Swiss origin, set up the company 12 years ago with his Moroccan wife to create a product with high, international quality under fairtrade and organic principles. Sidi Yassine is still the only producer in the region with these credentials.

I’ve always been interested in the provenance of ingredients so getting to actually meet the women behind our moisturisers was amazing.

Weleda is a brand that’s always been committed to putting people before profits and operating sustainably in harmony with nature and people – that’s why the partnership with this women’s cooperative works so well.

Sidi Yassine provides jobs to around 700 people, 99% of whom are Berber women and among the poorest in Morocco. The positive effect has been empowering these women with a better wage and respect for their work.

It takes around 15 hours of labour to produce 2-2.5kgs of kernels for one litre of oil. After the fruit has fallen from the tree and then picked from the ground and once sun-dried, the wrinkly outer skin of the fruit is removed using a simple purpose-built machine, and the hard inner nut is then broken by tapping manually between a large stone and smaller one; these stones are usually the women’s own and handed to them through the family.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda stone

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin1
The argan fruit is green and fleshy, similar to an olive but a bit larger and inside there’s a large nut containing one to three oil-rich seeds or kernels – the gold! Nothing goes to waste in this process as the soft outer skins are used as animal feed and the hard nutshells are used as bio-fuel. Sustainability at its best.

argan nut how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda

3. Argan is a super superfood

 Pomegranate Firming Day CreamArgan has been used for centuries in Morocco as a beauty oil; a staple for Berber women to treat skin conditions and now the key ingredient in the Weleda Pomegranate range, which helps to nourish and firm older skins.

The Sidi Yassine argan oil can be found in Pomegranate Firming Eye Cream, Pomegranate Firming Day Cream and Pomegranate Firming Night Cream – must-have products for 40+ skins.

Argan oil that goes into beauty products is cold-pressed and not treated with heat at all, in order to retain its vitamins and nutrients.

Hailed as a wonder ingredient for health too, it’s been used to treat rheumatism and heart disease by locals in the past. We now know it’s rich in fatty acids and contains around 80% unsaturated fat as well as vitamin E. Some say it contains 80 times more free radicals and antioxidants than olive oil while studies have shown it can protect connective tissue, lower bad cholesterol and restore skin’s protective lipid barrier.

how fairtrade organic argan oil is made in morocco weleda sidi yassin productsFor culinary use, the argan seeds are lightly toasted at around 60 degrees which brings out the oil’s distinctive and delicious nutty flavour, not dissimilar to a walnut or hazelnut oil. It’s not, however, suitable for cooking as it can’t withstand heat so use it as a finishing drizzle over cooked food, salad or use for bread dipping in the same way as olive oil. If you’re a fan of nut butters then the local delicacy Amlou is a must – a mixture of almonds, honey and argan oil for use as a spread or dip with fresh bread. It’s simply divine!

how fairtrade organic culinary argan oil bread is made in morocco weleda
At home ready to dip my sourdough bread into Morocco’s finest fairtrade / organic argan oil in my new Moroccan dipping bowl

Argan is becoming more readily available in the UK and Europe so look out for Arganic oil at M&S stores. And of course the Weleda Pomegranate skincare range powered with argan oil.

5 things you should know about Ananné skincare

ananne skincare serum

‘Super natural skincare’ is the tagline at Ananné so if you like your beauty products to be high end luxurious, plant and oil based and free from any synthetic ingredients this new brand is definitely one to watch. Here are five things you should know about Ananné skincare:


Ananné was founded by a neuroscientist named Professor Urs Pohlman in 2010 after he was commissioned to study the physiological processes of the skin. He went on to develop a range of products that worked in synergy with the natural functions of the skin, ensuring ingredients enhanced and supported skin cell health.


The formulations are powerful but simple and unfussy. They contain an abundance of high quality and natural active ingredients, many you might be familiar with – rosehip seed, borage seed, sea buckthorn – others are more interesting and less commonly heard of in skincare: brown algae, papaya leaf, cape chestnut, moringa, plum kernels, gutu kola and carrageenan moss.


Ananné ingredients are certified vegan (by the Vegan Society) and contain ingredients sourced under fairtrade and ethical principles. Preference is given to organic ingredients but certification can be tricky with some ingredients, says founder Dr Pohlman: “In some areas organic is not certifiable due to high costs (the certifying agent has to travel and the travel costs have to be covered by the initiative) or because the ingredient is grown in the wild. For instance moringa seed oil from moringa trees in West or East Africa are not certified by eco cert.  We know the supplier, sometimes the ingredients are introduced to us via a foundation who supports projects in the area. We LOVE those initiatives and do all the product analysis here in Switzerland before production.”


All products are made in small batches in Switzerland and Ananné facials are also available at Hotel Schloss Elmau and Hotel Palace Lucerne, both exclusive 5 star hotels in Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, Vienna, Zürich and Bern. While Ananné facials are not (yet!) available in the UK I’m eagerly waiting their arrival.

I was invited to try one recently at Fenwick, Bond Street and it was quite possibly the most relaxing facial I’d ever had. There was no heavy pressure or stimulating massage techniques – just light, feathery touches that soothed and calmed, so much so, I think I nodded off several times! If you’re looking for a soft, gentle facial keep Ananné on your radar (apparently there are stronger facials too) and fingers crossed for a UK launch sometime in the near future.


The range consists of a cleanser, exfoliant and toner suitable for all skin types and then day cream, night cream and serum available for three skin types each (dry, normal, sensitive). Ananné is currently available at Fenwick, Bond Street and online at but we’re looking forward to seeing it at more retailers this year!

ananne skincare


What’s all the buzz about organic beauty?

soil association's organic beauty week part of organic september

soil association's organic beauty week part of organic september

Organic this and organic that. From tea and coffee to cotton and clothes, it’s like a buzzword that’s everywhere. So what’s all the fuss about and why should beauty be organic too? Organic Beauty Week part of Organic September backed by Soil Association, is a time to celebrate the beauty of organic and promote the organic in beauty.

Why? Because pesticide-free farming is kinder on the earth, the farmers and workers and ultimately on us. Oh, and it makes beauty products that little bit better too as plants are usually grown in healthier, nutrient-rich soil making their power more potent.

But the word organic (and natural) has been banded about so much and stuck on labels wherever possible, even if a product carries only small traces of organic ingredients, paying lip-service to an important movement and maybe even misleading consumers. So the Soil Association launched a Campaign for Clarity to help people make some sense of the minefield that is organic and natural beauty.

Being an organic brand truly reflects a company’s commitment to the environment and being accredited goes that one step further in building trust. Always look for an official stamp of approval by Soil Association or another body such as EcoCert (they will soon all merge under the umbrella name of COSMOS so look out for that in the near future too).

I wrote a quick cheat sheet on organic beauty for my column on, check it out:

7 Things You Need To Know About Organic Beauty.

I also featured the Campaign for Clarity as my top beauty news (see a little snap below) in September’s issue of Health & Fitness magazine. Did you see it?

To make choosing organic beauty that little bit easier here is a full list of accredited beauty brands by the Soil Association – bookmark it and don’t go shopping without it!

My favourite organic brands are included in my Healthista article so do check it out, and if there’s a brand that isn’t on there and you think it should be, let me know! Give me a shout on Twitter @YanarBeauty.

Happy organic beauty week x

Organic Beauty Campaign for Clarity by Soil Association

Recycled coffee made into shampoo 

oright recoffee coffee recycled into shampo

I loved this range as soon as I read the press release, before I’d even seen the product – and then loved it more after I tried it: shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hair oil by O’Right made from recycled coffee grounds collected from cafes and coffee shops in Taiwan. The granules are ground down into an oil and infused into the products. How cool is that?

As well as being super savvy on the recycling front, the ground coffee is also good for hair, they say. Apparently the caffeine can help stimulate the hair shaft encouraging hair growth. Labelled moisturising for dry/damaged hair, the shampoo which I use, leaves my hair very soft even without conditioner. The scent is mild – not like smelling a coffee bean as you might expect – but just the faintest hint of its former life. 

All the products are free from sulphates and manufactured in an eco friendly factory that uses solar and wind power for production. I also love the (biodegradable) packaging that’s strikingly modern, with little wooden tops and sleek necks. Like nothing else in my shower. I’d like to try the hair oil next. 

For more eco points, the Tree in a Bottle products have coffee seeds built into the base so you can plant your Recoffee bottle once you’ve finished with it and you might end up with a coffee tree of your very own, starting the cycle all over again. Smart.

O’Right does is a Taiwanese company that is flying the flag for eco haircare and their tagline is The World’s Greenest Shampoo. Love it. Check out the range at

5 Steps to Start your Beauty Detox – VanZee Beauty #PitchtoRich

Check out this cool, pop-arty video by make-up artist Nat van Zee, who’s trying to spread the word about natural and organic beauty and a less is more approach – something I’ve always been a fan of. It’s bold, sassy and makes a change from the usual fluffy botanicals….


Nat is in the running for Virgin Pitch to Rich 2015 with a vision to build a natural and organic beauty recommendations portal so check out her page and vote for Vanzee BeautyShe’s also giving away a hamper of gorgeous natural beauty products to one lucky winner, from votes cast between now and 20th May at 5pm. Something in it for everyone, get voting now! 

Vanzee Beauty Pitch to Rich 2015


Stocking Filler #3 Abel & Cole

Abel and Cole on Brighter Shade of Green blog

Organic fruit and veg. Another not-so-sexy-sounding gift idea you might be thinking (I’m good at these) but we all need to eat so why not give the gift of great food?

Many years ago when Abel & Cole, the organic fruit and veg delivery service, first launched I signed up and was sadly disappointed. High prices for a few unremarkable vegetables, I thought. Then a few months ago a young man knocked on my door and offered an Abel & Cole trial, with a free cookbook. Hmm.. I considered. The trial meant I could order one box without committing to more. Ok. I gave it a try…

Wowee. Abel & Cole have changed and upped their game!

I picked a small vegetable box (no fruit) priced at £13. (Not a press sample). Very reasonable price I thought for a great selection of quality vegetables which included pointy cabbage, squash, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Tick one.

Abel and Cole on Brighter Shade of Green blog

Then I checked out the online selection service  and it turns out they have all the groceries covered so you literally don’t need to go anywhere else – dairy, eggs, meat, fish, bakery, cupboard food, drinks, household stuff, the lot.

A really easy-to-use website too so I ended up ordering another box and ton of veg for juicing and some bread. My whole week’s shop, all organic, all for under £20. I was impressed. I then had to speak to customer services to tidy up an error on my account – super helpful and unbelievably lovely. Tick, tick, tick.

All the farmers, growers and produce are sourced for their quality and environmental integrity and their stories showcased throughout Abel & Cole material which brings alive the human story behind the food.

Since my trial box, I’ve ordered several more all without committing to a weekly delivery – I just order when I want. People think it’s an expensive way to shop but it’s not; if you buy organic from the supermarket anyway then it’s about the same, if not more economical as the quality and service is better. Also every order I’ve had has come with recipe cards and a little gift – such a mini pack of eggs or a mince pie. Very cute.

I also love the communication and branding which is very sweet but not in an annoying way. They’ve struck the right balance between friendly, a bit jokey and inviting, and this is carried through everything they do. Maybe I’ve forgotten but I don’t remember the branding being so strong before and I think it really works.

I love the recipe cards and cookbook, full of easy and inspiring dishes which makes a big difference when you’re trying to think of what to cook.

So, if you’re looking for an alternative Christmas gift idea for a foodie friend or family, I can definitely recommend Abel & Cole. For me, great food makes a great gift!

Read more:
Give the gift of tea

5 minutes with founder of Shiffa skincare, Dr. Lamees Hamden

Shiffa natural and organic skincare

Dr Lamees Hamdan Shiffa natural organic skincare

I met dermatologist-turned-skincare creator Dr. Lamees Hamden this week, founder of Dubai-based natural and organic skincare range, Shiffa – which means heal, in Arabic. Before long, Lamees and I were speaking in Arabic together (she is one of the 11% of Dubai residents originally from Dubai, and I’m originally Iraqi) so we spoke about Shiffa’s popularity in the middle east and what makes Shiffa stand out in a crowded beauty market…

What is the Shiffa story?

I created Shiffa to be like the organic version of La Prairie. I wanted something to use on my skin when I fell pregnant that wasn’t full of synthetic ingredients but still beautiful and luxurious. We began as a spa brand at Six Senses in Dubai and then launched in Sephora. Suddenly we outsold all the major skincare brands in Sephora including Shiseido and Clarins, it was incredible.

You have a small collection of products – what makes them so special?

I think of what I’d like a product to do – heal and nourish dry skin, reduce appearance of pores, reduce pigmentation, brighten or tighten – and then work with my chemist to put together the best combination of natural ingredients. I don’t use any synthetic perfumes or colours and I’m a bit of a perfectionist so one product could take up to two to three years to develop.

Where do you source your ingredients and is everything organic?

We source the best oils from around the world so will choose organic where possible.  The pregnancy range is 100% organic and the rest of the range is minimum of 85% organic, mainly due to water content which can’t be organic. The Healing Balm contains 19 active ingredients and is a multi-award winner, beautiful for repairing dry and sore skin.

Shiffa natural and organic skincare

What are your favourite ingredients?

I cannot choose just one favourite ingredient – a good product needs a minimum of six great ingredients!  Vitamin C and E are essentials; I love meadowfoam seed oil – very good for moisturising skin; evening primrose oil; frankincense, marine extracts such as seaweed; and I love chamomile for reducing inflammation in the skin – another essential.

What are your favourite products in the range?

I use them all every day! But if I had to choose a favourite I would say Energizing Body Oil and White Tea Moisturiser.

You have four children and an international business, how do you take time out?

I do Shaolin Kung Fu. Yes really! I’ve been doing it for three years now, and the Shaolin Master comes to my house, three times a week for a two hour session with my sister.  It’s spiritual but also physically intense and keeps me fit. I also love cooking – I eat everything (which is probably why I’m not like a skinny model!) but I’m very healthy – I recently bought a dehydrator (to soak and dry seeds and nuts) and use the ingredients in green smoothies, along with anything organic from the market  – rocket, kale, parsley, sprouts and dates for a nice taste. I love it!

Shiffa Dubai is available at Selfridges and online at


Winter beauty splurge

Organic Pharmacy Resculpting Gel

Organic Pharmacy Resculpting Gel

In the woman’s magazine calendar it’s around this time of year the obligatory ‘Little Black Dress’ diet and workout is resurrected with keen intention. Exercises to ‘banish bingo wings’ and ‘smooth down your silhouette’ in time for party season are being published as we speak so it’s a good time to bring forward The Organic Pharmacy Resculpting Body Gel. It’s not a new product but following a recent trial, I’ve just squeezed the last drop from the tube and I must say, I was really really impressed.

From the cooling sensation on skin to the luxurious feel of the gel, it’s been my daily treat for the last few months. To make it effective, it’s packed with a plethora of circulation-boosting and skin-smoothing ingredients such as green coffee (coffee seed before it is roasted),  horse chestnut, pomegranate, kigelia, mountain ash, figs, chilli and peppermint.

The Organic Pharmacy says that “tests showed a decrease in thigh and waist size by 1-2 inches within 3 weeks.” While I didn’t drop a size I certainly noticed much much smoother skin.

Overall I fell in love with it and looked forward to using it every day but there’s a catch – quite a big one – it’s really expensive (£89.95 to be exact). This is indeed a lot to pay for a body cream but I expect it comes with a lot of research and development into the efficacy of formula and ingredients.

So while I don’t want to be responsible for the potential hole in your purse, it genuinely is a great product and if you’re planning a winter sun holiday it could be just the beauty splurge needed to feeling more confident in your bikini.

It's not new but it's nice

Pinks Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish

Pinks Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish

I had the pleasure of trying Pink’s Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish recently and was pleasantly surprised. Squidgy, comforting, luscious.

As you know I love oil-based products and this was like a dense cream (shea butter, sunflower seed oil) with ground-up mandarin peel and oatmeal. It was like the texture of peppermint creams before they set – remember like we used to make when we ere younger? You can really get your fingers into this stuff and massage it into your skin – perfect product to practise my new facial massage techniques. I loved it.

It’s £29.50 and if you think that’s a bit too much for a cleanser I’d say it’s worth it if you have really dry or sensitive skin. It lasts a really long time and the ingredients are 100% natural and 81.5% organic. With cheap cleansers that contain harsh ingredients you run the risk of stripping skin of essential oils so using a cleanser full of natural oils is always best.

Try it, you might like it and let me know what you think.

PS. I know keep changing the blog layout but I’m definitely sticking with this one now (!).  Hope you like it.

It’s not new but it’s nice

Pinks Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish

Pinks Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish

I had the pleasure of trying Pink’s Boutique Bamboo and Oatmeal Facial Polish recently and was pleasantly surprised. Squidgy, comforting, luscious.

As you know I love oil-based products and this was like a dense cream (shea butter, sunflower seed oil) with ground-up mandarin peel and oatmeal. It was like the texture of peppermint creams before they set – remember like we used to make when we ere younger? You can really get your fingers into this stuff and massage it into your skin – perfect product to practise my new facial massage techniques. I loved it.

It’s £29.50 and if you think that’s a bit too much for a cleanser I’d say it’s worth it if you have really dry or sensitive skin. It lasts a really long time and the ingredients are 100% natural and 81.5% organic. With cheap cleansers that contain harsh ingredients you run the risk of stripping skin of essential oils so using a cleanser full of natural oils is always best.

Try it, you might like it and let me know what you think.

PS. I know keep changing the blog layout but I’m definitely sticking with this one now (!).  Hope you like it.

Pure perfumes

Embrace by PG Organics

Embrace by PG OrganicsI’ve recently been chatting on Twitter to the lovely Patricia Gallagher, founder of PG Organics, about why we need natural and organic perfumes. She created Embrace after learning the almost-forgotten art of traditional and natural perfume making and she talks passionately about why we need to keep the practice going…

Patricia is a strong advocate of using natural and organic ingredients in perfume and not the 10-40 chemicals that can usually be found in a mainstream spritz. The Environmental Working Group wrote a report on this last year, discovering many hidden and undisclosed chemicals in bottles. Popular perfumes usually contain a mixture of natural extracts and synthetic chemicals but the report revealed many secret chems too.

PG Organics is one of the few niche brands committed 100 percent natural ingredients and small batch production using traditional methods. What’s interesting is that many people who suffer from allergies and sensitivities, such as asthma or eczema, can react badly to conventional perfumes – anything from a mild or severe headache to itching or rashes on the skin. Patricia says customers often turn to natural perfumes for less sensitivity.

The brand uses only natural materials with the highest possible content of organic ingredients, no animal derived products and testing on animals.  Check out her gorgeous site