Zero-waste Beauty News: Ren Skincare

I’ve recently been impressed with beauty brand Ren for its zero-waste 2021 targets, which have involved upgrading packaging to use Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) from landfill and ocean plastics.

It’s always reassuring when a brand takes an issue by its horns, gives things a shake up and is genuine in its efforts to tackle it.

Our Zero Waste Ambition: to use only packaging that’s recycled, recyclable or reusable by 2021.

Ren Skincare

To achieve the zero-waste goals Ren is redesigning packaging to reduce cardboard and plastic, using ocean and landfill plastic in bottles and caps, re-thinking processes for a circular economy and revisiting skincare formulas for an even cleaner makeover.

Continue reading “Zero-waste Beauty News: Ren Skincare”

New: CBD Olive Oil – What’s It All About?

Yes, you read right. CBD-infused olive oil for your kitchen cupboard and dinner table. You’ve probably heard of CBD products ranging from oral tinctures, topical salves and muscles rubs, and now introducing CBD Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Drops of Heal.

Firstly, what is CBD? It’s short for cannabidiol, which is the chemical extracted from the marijuana plant (through distillation) and does not contain the psychoactive ingredient, THC – so you cannot get high off CBD products.

Continue reading “New: CBD Olive Oil – What’s It All About?”

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.

Continue reading “Step-by-Step Guide: How To Do a DIY Natural Beauty Home Facial”

Introducing Fjaka – the Mediterranean way of mindful living

saint-iris-adriatica-skincare

Saint Iris Adriatica, a luxury green beauty brand, takes its inspiration from the Adriatic sea, mountains, thermal spas and wild spaces.

Founder Sanela Lazic says the brand is all about channelling fjaka [pronounced: fyak.ka], which is a relaxed state that embodies the spirit and wellbeing of Croatian life.

Sanela has taken traditional Adriatic folk remedies and combined them with natural ingredients to create products that help to strengthen skin against the stresses of modern life and encourage a more balanced state of body and mind.

I asked Sanela to talk more about fjaka….

Saint Iris Adriatica instagram
@saintirisadriatica

What is fjaka and how can you create the Fjaka feeling?

‘Fjaka is a way of life from Croatia but also practised in Italy, Spain and Latin America (with different spellings across these regions).

‘Fjaka is about being relaxed yet powerfully alive with a sense of mindfulness. It’s a blissful Adriatic state of mind that comes from simply feeling great in your own body and doing what you love.

‘Fjaka is taking time for yourself, which shouldn’t be seen as lazy or selfish; in Croatia and Italy this is seen as an essential part of self-love. Only by investing in yourself can you give back to others.

‘Often, in Croatia, you’ll hear people saying “pomalo” or “polako”, which means “bit by bit” or “slowly” and we’re now returning to some of these slower lifestyle qualities: slow-cooked food, slow fashion, self-care time – this is all fjaka in action.

How can we create fjaka?

Saint Iris Adriatica

‘Start by asking yourself, what brings you joy? What makes you feel good in body and mind? Think long-term and tune into your needs and energy.

‘The world today is skewed towards a masculine, fast-paced energy that can drain us, bring stress and self-doubt, chase the ideal, compete or fight rather than slow down or flow. Fjaka helps to create a balance of energies.’

Saint Iris Adriatica is a natural and cruelty-free brand and contains no parabens, sulphates, propylene glycol or synthetic fragrances.

Best advice I’ve received: Lisa Bronner of Dr. Bronner beauty

lisa-bronner profile image

Lisa Bronner is the sister, wife and daughter to the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps family and granddaughter to the founder Dr. Emanuel Bronner. I spoke to her on the phone to learn more about her passion for sustainable living, her interest in inspiring people on their journey for greener living (check out her blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom) and the best advice she’s ever received.

The best advice I’ve received

‘Live intentionally – if we are too aimless or thoughtless in our day to day decisions we go nowhere and accomplish nothing and let opportunities slide by. Realise the ability you have as an individual to influence people around you or start a movement. People don’t realise they have the power we do; if use it we’d can all get a lot done.’

Best advice for going green

‘Start simply with one product at a time; going out with too much gusto and clearing out everything will be too much of a headache. Newbies should start with one product, look at the ingredients you don’t understand and find an alternative you enjoy using. Then go onto the next. One step at a time.’

If you could be president for the day

‘Treat people with respect and courtesy. Listen to one another and do things to empower each individual to live to their full potential. Be proactive rather than reactive, strengthen people and educate them on wellness so health is stronger and inform the public to make better decisions. Give people the right tools to make the best choices for their lives.’

Check out more from Lisa…  her tips and tricks for green living here. 

Read more… When I met Mike Bronner of Dr Bronner skincare in London – and the six things I discovered about the brand.

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:

1.  

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.

2.

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.

3.

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.”

4.

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.

5.

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 ananne.co.uk but we’re looking forward to seeing it at more retailers this year!

ananne skincare

 

FreeFrom Skincare Awards – a Judge’s Day Out + Shortlist Announced

FreeFrom Skincare awards2015
Last week I was invited, for the second year, to judge on the FreeFrom Skincare Awards, an annual event in its fourth year, celebrating skincare brands with natural, organic and free-from qualities. It’s a fabulously fun day testing old favourites and new, and up and coming brands who are doing great things. Read on and check out who made it to the shortlist…

The judging panel included myself, Sarah Stacey journalist and co-founder of The Beauty Bible, the lovely Abi Weeds, creator of Odylique (which does a brilliant SLS-free shampoo by the way) skincare blogger Sarah Coleman aka Sugarpuffish, and several others. The categories I judged on were: Bodycare, Family Skincare, Haircare, Hands-Nails-Feet, and Soaps.

Over 100 brands and 150 products (without allergens, artificial fragrances, additives and other allergy- and sensitivity-prone ingredients) were put to the test by 100 testers over two months. These guys test purely on use: Does it work? Is it nice to use? Does it feel good? Then only the products that perform well make it onto the shortlist for us, the judges, to scrutinise.

We assessed the shortlist to award winners and considered: Is there clarity in labelling (important if you do have a sensitivity and need to easily check if a product is suitable for you), are there good quality ingredients and a clean formula? What’s the brand’s commitment to ethical and environmental issues? From this, as well as usability and efficacy, we award bronze, silver and gold!

 

It was great to see trusted favourites Neal’s Yard Remedies with five products that made it through as well as other great brands Green People, Pai Skincare Saaf recognised for more than a few. Smaller brands which I hadn’t tried before, but really stood out for me included Bathing Beauty Pop Effervescent and All Natural Soap Company so do check them out if you get the chance.

Thank you to FreeFrom team, Alex Gazzola, who organises the nuts and bolts of this and the Free From Food Awards, and Michelle Berriedale-Johnson who founded both awards. Both such a pleasure to be around and work tirelessly to produce these awards.

Congrats to all who entered and have been shortlisted! You can check out the shortlist here. Winners will be announced at Love Natural, Love Organic Show at Olympia on 3rd July, presented by Janey Lee Grace, and I’ll be back after that to update. See you soon!

 

freefrom skincare awards 2015 shortlist

 

3 of the Best Natural Deodorants

If you’re trying to reduce your chemical overload and have turned your attention to your deodorant, then check out my 3 of the best natural deodorants in my column in this month’s Health & Fitness magazine – and yes, I promise, they really do work.

Health and Fitness, Beauty News June 2014 Yanar Alkayat

 

Up until recently, it’s been practically impossible to pop into a mainstream supermarket or chemist such as Boots and buy a deodorant that doesn’t contain aluminium or doesn’t work by blocking sweat glands.

I’m not sure how everyone else feels about this but I’m not really keen on a product that works by inhibiting sweat glands from doing their job. They’re there for a reason. Before we go any further, it might be useful to recap what is the difference between deodorant vs antiperspirant:

>> An antiperspirant will block sweat ducts, usually using minute compounds of aluminium which enter cells, swell and block the sweat ducts.

>> A deodorant lets you perspire but uses ingredients to help prevent odour-causing bacteria from forming. Many natural deodorants used to (attempt) masking the smell of bacteria but the latest versions are much more effective at actually controlling the bacteria itself.

Once upon a time the only alternative to antiperspirant was either Crystal Rock, which involved wetting the armpit every time before applying it (and let’s be honest, who could be bothered to do that?) or bad natural deodorant which didn’t mask smelliness very well. That’s why I inevitably ended up buying Sure again.

Now cosmetic technology has improved and choice is a million times better. Pitrok (featured below) passes my running-for-the-bus-in-vintage-polyester-test, it doesn’t involve any messy armpit wetting and is available at Boots stores nationwide; I even found it at Heathrow Airport recently.

So the thee natural deodorants I use, love and recommend are:

PitRok

PitROK natural spray deodorant

A great new deodorant that’s widely available so no need to hunt it down in an obscure health food shop. According to product details, it’s free from aluminium chlorohydrate, aluminium zirconium, parabens, propylene glycol or silicone. Choose from roller-ball or spray and a different scent option for men and women – all are very effective. Give it a go and let me know what you think. www.pitrok.co.uk

Weleda

Weleda Citrus Deodorant100ML

 

From one of my favourite natural beauty brands, this refreshing deodorant spray has an uplifting citrus scent and 100% organic. Available in a 100ml travel size too which makes it perfect to travel with. £8.95, www.weleda.co.uk

MooGoo Fresh Cream Deodorant

MooGoo Deodorant-Front

An Australian brand that Gwyneth Paltrow recently wrote about on her blog. I enjoy using this as the scent is so gentle, barely there actually, and the site is full of interesting things to read about the brand and beyond. £5.90 moogooskincare.co.uk

Would love to hear what natural deodorants you have tried and trusted, hated or loved.

 

Konjac sponge – a natural way to cleanse

konjac-sponge-puff-brightershadeofgreen-skincare

konjac-sponge-puff-brightershadeofgreen-skincare

Konjac sponges have been an underground favourite in beauty for a long time – recommended as a gentle way to cleanse by beauty experts such as Josephine Fairley and very popular in Asia. This weekend I finally managed to road-test one myself, hoorah!

The one I tried is from The Konjac Sponge Co, based in the UK and distributed worldwide. This little round product that comes in a simple pouch. Dry, it looks and feels like a pumice stone until you soak it in water, after which it turns a bit rubbery.  It’s made with 100% natural konjac fibre (a pure vegetable fibre) from the root of the Amorphophallus konjac plant, making it 100% biodegradable.

It can cleanse skin effectively without a cleanser so it’s a VERY eco product as no additional product is required and no residue washed down the drain. But how effective is konjac sponge at cleansing skin on its own? I tried it with a full face of make-up and without, without a cleanser and with.

My verdict: It’s very gentle on skin as it massages it really well and doesn’t scratch or irritate it. The rubbery texture is initially a bit odd but it feels so much more substantial than a muslin cloth, which I now find fussy and irritatingly flimsy. This is squidgy enough to cleanse and massage all the contours of the face leaving skin fresh and enlivened. Great for babies too apparently.

A sponge from The Konjac Sponge Co costs £6.99 and lasts up to three months.

Try it, I think you’ll like it!

On my bedside table…

dr-hauschka-facial-toner-dry skin-brightershadeofgreen

dr-hauschka-facial-toner-dry skin-brightershadeofgreen

I’m a massive fan of facial oils but facial waters – also known as toners or floral waters – come a definite second. They might seem frivolous and non-essential but let me tell you, they are more than that. Dr. Hauschka Facial Toner currently has a top slot on my bedside table and it’s making me smile, a lot.

Not only does it freshen, refresh and hydrate my skin – as and when I need it – it’s also great at enlivening my senses if I wake up groggy, go to bed late or feel hungover. Just one, two or three spritzes and suddenly everything feels ok again!

This small 30ml bottle comes part of a travel cleansing kit but it’s the only item that stole my attention. As well as being a natural, plant-based herbal water, the mist is light and perfectly even as it sprays from the nozzle into the air – that’s actually the secret key to a great facial spritz: too sharp and it’s like a squirt in the eye, too weak and it just tickles the face. It has to spray widely and evenly.

Choose your toner or floral water wisely and you can find one that hydrates skin, soothes dryness, calms irritation and even balance oily skin. I usually have several on the go – on my desk at work, in travel bags and always on a flight. And if I’m not using it for a genuine beauty moment, it’s simply lovely to punctuate the air during an otherwise mundane moment.

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 Zuneta.com.

 

Winter beauty alchemy

Weleda Sea Buckthorn Body Lotion

The February freeze keeps coming and going and with it goes the integrity of our skin. So it’s another chance to share the winter beauty alchemy I’ve been swearing by this winter – the mix of lotions and potions that have saved my skin and kept it super soft and strong.

This has been my morning routine every day for the past few months:

1. Add a few drops of facial oil to face moisturiser.

My oil of choice at the moment is Maggie Brown’s Yin 1 (rose oil) perfect for winter as it strengthens skin’s barrier against the cold and plumps it up with nourishing essential fatty acids.  I’ve been mixing this with Origins Make A Difference Cream which is a hydrating gel-like cream.

2. Add a few pumps of body oil to body moisturiser.

I’ve been using two or three pumps of  Aromatherapy Associates Renew Rose Body Oil muddled with Weleda Sea Buckthorn Replenishing Body Lotion, all over my body from neck to toes. It’s a luscious mixture that I can’t get enough of. I love both products on their own (and would be perfect for spring) but together they make cold mornings worth getting out the shower for.

Finally, a great quote from Geraldine Howard, founder of Aromatherapy Associates on why essential oils carry so many skin benefits which is so apt for this time of year:

“Essential oils are made up of very small molecules and therefore able to penetrate into the bloodstream and optimise the cell renewal process. The skin absorbs oil-soluble substances more easily than water soluble ones, so as essential oils are oil soluble, when diluted with a plant or vegetable carrier oil (most are too potent to apply directly to the skin), they travel through the epidermis, into the dermis, delivering results deeper down than products that do not contain essential oils.”

So get some oil into your beauty regime and you’ll welcome spring with better skin. What beauty concoctions do you swear by?

 

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.

3 Brilliant Moisturisers

Now that winter is officially on its way, moisturiser is back on the must-have list. Friends are always asking what moisturiser to recommend is so here’s a round-up of my three current favourites. Each one is ideal for a different type of skin or budget so take your pick.

There’s one for mature or ultra skin, one a bit less heavy on the pocket that’s also great for dry or very dry skin and one for sensitive skin. All three are more than worthy of a place in your beauty bag.

Nude Advanced Cellular Renewal Moisturiser

It’s one of the softest creams I’ve ever put on my face and I look forward to using it every morning. It feels like I’m soaking my skin in the most hydrating special formula ever and the coolness of the cream adds to the sensory experience. It’s pricey at £78 (ouch!) but if you like to spend a lot on your moisturiser (as more and more people are) this one’s worth considering – far better than some of the big counter brands.

Trilogy Ultra Hydrating Face Cream

If you love heavy-duty creams built to fix dry skin then you’ll love this. You can feel it working as it’s a thick, creamy consistency but sinks in effortlessly rather than sits on your skin like some. PERFECT for winter skin (sorry I’m a  bit late on this one!) and really good for really dry skins. Great price too at £34.95

Senzimi Daily Moisturisers

You may not have heard about this brand but the moisturizer is really impressive even if the packaging is modest (but not as bad as the original which is still on the website). I can feel it’s a clean formula with no added ingredients and believe it would work for sensitive skin (for which it’s formulated for). The website has loads of info about ingredients etc and it’s comes at a really budget price (can’t remember exactly but under £15). Check it out.

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.

Lush: Love it or loathe it?

Lush Peace massage

Lush Peace massage We need to talk about Lush and I have a confession to make. In all my years of writing about beauty I still haven’t reviewed or written about any Lush product.

Maybe it’s that unmistakable, heady aroma wafting out into the street that people love to hate or the bath bombs that I just don’t understand, because, to be perfectly honest with you, there’s nothing that appeals to me less than sitting in a pool of floating flower parts and foliage.

So while I’ve simply managed to dodge Lush trials and reviews, my time has now come. Last weekend I was kindly sent a bag of Lush goodies at Cosmo which I’ve made a special effort to tuck into and try.

I scurried home with keen intention until I looked inside the bag. I just didn’t know what to do with any of the paper-packaged balls and oblongs with kooky names and not enough clues as to what to do with them.

Naturally, I bypassed the bath bombs and found something I liked the look of: Lush Peace Massage Bar. However, if it wasn’t for the press release I wouldn’t have realised what a gem of a product this is.

The caption said: “Invented by Mark Constantine OBE. A solid, environmentally conscious, preservative and packaging-free alternative to massage oils in a bottle. All Lush massage bars are full of the highest quality essential oils and made with a deeply moisturising cocoa and shea butter base.”

Well if only they’d told me that to begin with – you couldn’t get more eco if you tried! Packaging-free alternative? Environmentally conscious? I’m in!  This packaging-free product will LEAVE NO TRACE. The holy grail in green beauty.

It’s a pleasant product to use, albeit a bit uncomfortable when you rub the bar around bones, elbows and ankles, but who cares – it’s my latest green goddess beauty find. It even left a sheeny film on my skin without any unnecessary greasiness.

So there you have it – a real, honest and dare I say, positive review of a Lush product. But this is not to say I’d love all Lush products as I’m aware several are loaded with SLS and parabens and while they give the impression they are natural, they are definitely not.

Love it or loathe it? Let me know what you think in the comments box below. For this, it’s a love it – just as long as you don’t give me a bath bomb!

x

Black Chicken Remedies: Tres Chey

Yep, I love a good beauty oil! Morning, day or night, face or body, bottle or balm, it’s oil every time. So when I met founder of Black Chicken Remedies, aromatherapist Chey Birch, we had someting to talk about. She launched Love Your Body oil with 11 different oils – that’s like Christmas and a birthday in a bottle for me! You’ve got the usual suspects in there – jojoba, avocado, rosehip – as well as other more interesting ones – carrot, hazelnut, coconut.

Even better news is that Black Chicken Remedies Body Oil now has a sister – Love Your Face Serum. More skin-conditioning and nourishing ingredients for your skin and 100 percent natural. Totally and wholly natural. Every last drop. In the words of Chey, “why put chemicals on your skin when you don’t need to?”

It’s not cheap but the design, box and branding won me over instantly – what do you think? I guarantee you’ll love the contents too! Available at Selfridges and online at blackchickenremedies.com

Beauty inside out

functionalab supplements

functionalab supplements

Most people are finally cottoning on the fact that outer skin beauty comes from inner good health so I guarantee you more and more beauty brands will be launching supplements to er, supplement, their skincare lines in the near future.

Functionalab is playing the game ahead of the pack. Following its extensive range of supplements (in SpaceNK now), it launches a skincare range this October (available at Harrods too) with the target being anti-ageing, of course. You know the score – fine lines and wrinkles, sagging skin, first signs, dehydrated skin, etc etc…

I met the formulator this week and liked what he said. The products are ingredients driven so no cheap fillers and silicones which give the false impression of an effective cream with no real benefits. Instead, they’ve gone for a less-is-more approach with a high concentration of key ingredients such as oat protein and a delicate touch of essential oils.

I didn’t expect the range to have any ‘free-from’ credentials so I was pleasantly surprised. In a nutshell for you greenies, the formulations are: silicone-free, sulphate-free, perfume-free and paraben-free. Some of the supplements are also vegetarian and vegan – ah wonderful news for me. I’ll be diving into my beauty dose of Hair, Skin and Nails this weekend.

While the skincare range isn’t cheap (around the £50-£75 mark) a little squirt goes a long way – a suggested two months use in one glass, recyclable bottle. Looking forward to reporting back in a few months’ time with radiant skin and Florence Griffith-Joyner-nails.

When I met founder of Antipodes Skincare – the new natural beauty brand from New Zealand

Antipodes Skincare

Antipodes Skincare collection featuring the wondering Nirvana Body Wash

It’s great meeting the founders of beauty brands – it’s like catching a quick glimpse inside someone’s wardrobe. I found Elizabeth Barbalich – gorgeously stylish with a big mane of dark curly hair – to be a delight. Armed with a science background she discussed ingredients in detail and the challenges of being carbon neutral and relatively new (around four years old) company.

Here is a small collection of wonderful things I learnt about Antipodes Skincare:

* There’s an overarching aim to share and promote the exotic local ingredients and plants (some of which are exclusive to New Zealand) with excellent skin benefits. 80% of the ingredients are locally sourced. Favourites are: vinanza grape (very high in antioxidants) and kiwiseed oil (has good antibacterial properties).

** Harakeke is one of the oldest plants in NZ – used in Antipodes Skincare for its soothing and hydrating properties, a bit like aloe vera. More fascinating facts about Harakeke here.

*** The Nirvana Body Wash (picture above) has the most exhilarating smell – of blackcurrant, spearmint and cardamon. Worth getting up for in the morning! Plus a dose of avocado  and macadamia nut oils to soften the skin.

Antipodes Saviour Skin Balm

***  Six of the products stimulate type 1 and type 3 collagen. This is the protein the holds skin together. Over time it diminishes and breaks down resulting in loose and less bouncy skin. Check out the night cream, eye cream and hydrating serum all of which contain avocado oil – the hero ingredient.

**** The new Saviour Balm (pictured above) – in a cute tin reminiscent of vintage years – is a great ‘rescue’ product to heal broken or wounded skin.

******The Grapeseed Butter Cleanser is a make-up removing champion. Massage into skin and eyes and remove with a damp muslin cloth or cotton wool.

*****Ten out of the 20 ingredients used in Antipodes Skincare are organic.

******The carbon neutral status is a challenge. Air freight and air travel are the biggest hurdles. The aim is to reduce the company’s carbon emissions by 5-10% each year.

****** A make-up collection launch is on the horizon with a small collection of lipsticks and foundation (loose powder form).

******* The brand is found in eight countries and 220 stores in NZ. Here you can find it online as well as Harrods. From September it will be in Selfridges too.

Try and let me know what you think!

The secret behind paraffin wax

Ormonde Jayne candle Ormonde Jayne Replenishing Body Lotion

Snow snow go away because I’m supposed to be on a flight to Tanzania but I’m back at home blogging! Well at least I can tell you about a fabulous meeting I had with the founder of boutique perfumery Ormonde Jayne in London last week when I had my ‘ah’ moment about paraffin wax.

In green beauty world, it’s a clear no-no. Paraffin wax is a cheap bi-product from refining petroleum, and releases a soot that is potentially harmful to health, containing pollutants such as polycyclic hydrocarbon, a known carcinogenic.

So alternatives such as soy or beeswax became popular in recent years, and usually preferred by the green-beauty world for a cleaner burn that release fewer chemicals. But it’s worth noting the environmentally unfriendly issues related to soy production, which also cannot be ignored.

But fragrance houses still prefer paraffin wax is because it’s odourless, colourless and provides a blank canvas for fine fragrance. Soy and beeswax says Linda Pilkington, founder of Ormonde Jayne, have a strong smell and interfere with sophisticated scents.

Apparently, it’s the same for body lotions – fragrance houses usually use cream formulations that don’t nourish the skin because the priority is using a base that holds a fragrance, not one that’s kind on skin.

Luckily, Ormonde Jayne is different on this. The brand’s bathing range is specifically made without petrochemicals, parabens, sulphates and colourings. The Replenishing Body Lotion provides softening skin benefits and keeps you smelling beautiful.

If you find yourself in Sloane Square, check out the beautiful new shop at the back of Peter Jones and let me know what you think!

 

 

New out now: Betty Hula handmade skincare

It’s getting colder, fact. Hands, fingers and nails are dry and flaky minutes after leaving the house. Yuk. So how delighted I was when I got home this evening to find a little sample of Betty Hula Shea Butter Moisturising Cream flavoured with ‘champagne & spice’. Champagne in a beauty product? Oh yes!

Thick, creamy and smells delicious. It sunk straight in and banished any signs of winter weathering. And then 20 minutes later, when I’m going about my everyday business, I catch a subtle sniff of a sweet lingering smell and realise it’s the champagne and spice! Not overpowering at all but a welcome linger.

There are two other cool flavours in the pack – ‘kiwi & lime’ and ‘rum & blackcurrant’ – and I expect  them to be just as perfectly balanced as this one.

The branding is fab – strong and instantly attractive – and the product range is small enough to try and love.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

bettyhulla.co.uk

Winter soft skin – Is it really possible?

Akin Instant Radiance Masque

Soft winter skin – sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it. But fear not, it is possible. Plenty of oil-rich products morning and night will definitely help – and try a mask too – this Instant Radiance Facial Masque from A’kin perhaps.

I’m not a great fan of masks but this one was comfortingly soft and moisturising. Its creaminess is the first draw and then once you’ve left it on for about five minutes, you’ll notice half of it has disappeared into skin, leaving you with soft cheeks to touch.

What’s in it? Lots of fruit acids (AHAs) to help smooth skin, hyaluronic acid (a moisturising agent), rosehip seed and pomegranate extract for a radiance and hydration and tons of other gorgeous ingredients for seriously soft skin.

How often to smother onto skin? As often as you like. The label recommends “before a special occasion or as part of your weekly beauty regime”.

Available at health food stores and pharmacies nationwide. Visit www.purist.com for stockists.

Breast Cancer Awareness beauty: Elemis

Beauty product for Breast Cancer Awareness Month are everywhere with magazine pages filled with pink inspired beauty collections. Here’s one I like by Elemis: Sparkling Beauty Collection, limited edition for October. Inside the snazzy pink bag, there are pieces in special pink packaging, of course, including one of my favourite Elemis products, Skin Bliss Capsules – little ampoules of facial oil to soothe and rejuvenate skin.

I’ve also popped up the ingredients promise by Elemis, which says certain products are free from parabens, sulphates, mineral oils, artificial colours and silicones. According to the press office, all future products will carry this promise. While it isn’t a certification by a regulatory body, it’s still a great move in terms of cleaning up formulations from unnecessary ingredients.

Back to the Sparkling Collection – you save a ton of money (priced at £50 but worth over £90) and with it comes the Elemis pledge of £10,000 to Breast Cancer Care, so that’s double the benefits.

Sparkling Beauty Collection, £50 at timetospa.co.uk

Out now: Neal’s Yard Remedies make-up

Neals Yard Remedies makeup

British natural beauty brand, Neal’s Yard Remedies‘ make-up collection is on shelves now – the first cosmetics line with the Soil Association seal of organic approval. The range is a simple offering of three eye pencils, four mineral eye shadows and six lip glosses and took a few years to develop because it’s so difficult to create organic make-up.

I talked to Lou Green, Head of Sustainability at Neal’s Yard, to understand why it’s such a mean feat.

“We had to challenge convention and challenge why certain ingredients are used and offer alternatives. Mineral oils and paraffin are so cheap and it’s what everyone uses but it’s an oil base so we replaced that with an organic plant oil. And we replaced talc with cornstarch, which actually works beautifully and created an organic lip gloss base with our suppliers in Gujarat.”

Synthetic fragrances were out, and essential oils were in giving products a gorgeous sweet smell. Standard preservatives out and combinations of white tea powder and vitamin E used instead for their preserving power.

Not all the ingredients can be organic because anything that’s not farmed – e.g. minerals or water, by default cannot be organic. Instead they have to meet high ecological standards in processing, environmental impact, biodegradability, among others.

So what are the results like? Well, the lip glosses are an absolute pleasure to use with a subtle orange scent thanks to the sweet orange peel. The eye pencils are perfect for day wear – you may not get a Twiggy smoky eye but add a dab of  mineral eye powder and you could be on your way. They are great for sensitive eyes and the eco-credentials are seriously impressive. Well done Neal’s Yard.

Mineral Eye Shadow, £10.25/Colour Lip Gloss, £9/Eye Liner, £9

Available in stores and www.nealsyardremedies.com

Essential Care for Breast Cancer Awareness

Essential Care Organic Rose Petal Tonic

Rose toner is one of those under-rated skincare products – never quite an essential but an absolutely pleasure to use when you have it. Obviously you need to like rose and for those who do, Neal’s Yard Remedies and Lucy Russell both do divine rose waters.

And then Essential Care Organic Rose Petal Tonic landed on my desk last week, and I loved it even more. Yes, the packaging isn’t very sexy but it’s what’s inside that counts.

This is not a thin and runny water and doesn’t drip pathetically over skin. It sprays evenly (a good spout = a good facial mist), drenching skin without a wince.

And despite its modest exterior, the actual tonic feels luxurious and silky on skin – probably because each bottle has over 1000 rose petals. (Sourced from an organic cooperative in Bulgaria no less).

The best times for spritzing is on holiday/travelling and when skin is feeling tired and dry. I think it’s just the notion that it’s hydrating skin and the delicately sweet scent, that I love.

And if you buy during October, 20% of the RRP will go directly to Breast Cancer Awareness. Even better. Now I’m off to pop this little lovely by my bed to spritz over me morning and night.

£16, www.essential-care.co.uk

Babies love Weleda



I was recently invited to visit the Weleda head quarters in Nottingham as part of a press trip to see how they make the wonderful, award-winning calendula baby range. In case you’re not acquainted, Weleda is one of the best health and beauty brands on the market – Swiss by origin.


They grow a lot of beautiful herbs and flowers there, many of which make up their homeopathic remedies, creams and tinctures, and part of the trip was spent pounding the bright yellow calendula plants to make calendula oil.


The best bit about the trip was learning how delicate baby skin is and how susceptible it is to reacting to harsh ingredients – many of which are found in common bathing products. SLS is the most obvious baddy – it’s a harsh irritant used to add foam and thickness to products but could cause rashes, itches and general nastiness to young (and any) skin. And it’s easy to avoid too as it crops up at the top of ingredient lists.


So of course a feature was born. Look out for a piece from me in Natural Health magazine on newborn baby skin and how many products could be doing more harm than good to precious baby skin. That will be out in December issue.