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.

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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…

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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!

Review: Amchara Detox Retreat in Gozo, Malta

amchara spa malta juice detox review

In August I visited Amchara Detox Retreat on Malta’s sister island, Gozo for a review in Health & Fitness magazine. I stayed for five sunny days, three of which I spent on a juice detox and two were spent on a raw food diet. After a summer of festivals, holidays and fun it was a welcome break but the no-food-only-juice days were a shock to the system, mainly mentally because I hate going hungry! But after day two I started to settle into the process and after a few treatments a more positive feeling took over. Amchara is a laid-back, down to earth, nurturing and the people (staff and guests) really make the stay extra special. If you’re a first-timer to detoxing or fancy a relaxed retreat this is a great place to start. Here are the highlights with snapshots of my stay…


About Amchara Detox Retreat

Guests come to detox and fast at Amchara for a variety of reasons: to inspire a healthier lifestyle; learn about detoxing and nutrition; lose or manage weight; address health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome; or simply to rest and recharge. The Amchara team includes naturopaths, a colonic therapist, a health director, a raw food chef, massage therapists and a yoga and fitness instructor – all are invaluable at guiding and inspiring guests through the process, and always on hand for advice.

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The juice detox programme

An initial health screening with the naturopath identifies which of the two programmes you should choose: a classic juice fast aimed to stimulate the body’s natural healing processes or a raw food diet. I chose a three-day juice fast and two days of raw food. Based on the philosophy of functional health, Amchara aims to tackle the underlying cause of health conditions, not just the symptoms. Your relationship with food as well as your lifestyle, genetics and environment are all considered. You can stay from three days to a month or more and there are no fixed start dates.



A typical day at Amchara

The vibe here is relaxed and laid back. Juices and superfood shots are delivered with nameplates daily at 9am, midday and 3pm, with an evening broth at 6:30pm. The juices are based on a mixture of beetroot, cucumber, fennel, courgette, apple, carrot, celery, ginger and lemon to support your digestion, cleanse the liver and feed your body with essential nutrients and vitamins.


The shots of nutritional super supplements can include chlorella, wheatgrass, spirulina, turmeric, maca and bitter aloe, selected by the naturopaths to suit your health needs. Headaches, fatigue or nausea can be experienced before you feel better – I felt grumpy, hungry and had headaches on the first day, but this cleared by the end of day two. To stave off hunger, we had unlimited herbal teas and psyllium husks with water– as well as lemon and Himalayan salt with water to aid hydration and the detox.



Gentle activities such as yoga, Pilates, a walk, a health talk or aqua aerobics punctuate the days but there’s no pressure to join in. The mellow evening activities might involve a local guest such as a Tibetan sound healer or a group sunset walk. Bikes are available for a coastal ride or you can go for a gentle jog. Other activities include visiting the local town, Victoria or going to Comino island.
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The treatments

An important part of the detox process at Amchara is intestinal cleansing, so colonic hydrotherapy and enemas are encouraged. Sally Jobes, a registered colon hydrotherapist, is a wealth of information. I chose an enema (once with water and once with coffee, which stimulates liver detoxification) and felt brighter with a burst of energy after. You can also have massages, facials, lymphatic drainage and food intolerance tests. All treatments cost extra. I also had a health mentoring session with health director Kirstie Chisholm (€180 for 90 minutes). After discussing daily nutrition, emotional concerns, stress management and work-life balance, I walked away with a manageable plan.


The rooms

With only 26 apartments at the retreat, you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere but still be sociable. Each apartment has air con, a spacious double bedroom, living area, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom and a balcony or veranda overlooking the central pool.


In a nutshell, is Amchara for you?

If you’re looking for a relaxed and gentle detox experience, Amchara is perfect. There are no bootcamp vibes and ideal for first time detoxers. If you’ve had enough of the juice cleanse you can go onto the raw food programme, no quibbles. I left feeling mentally and physically revived. There is also Amchara Somerset for those looking for a UK detox.

Visit: for prices and more info


Spa at home

Health and Fitness magazine, Jan 2014 Spa at home, Yanar Alkayat
‘Picture this. You’ve just had a luxurious body treatment and are enveloped in a sea of warm aromatic water, petals and herbs scattered on its surface. There’s a cup of fresh mint tea at your side and a blend of fragrant essential oils fills the air with an uplifting scent. As you lie back and close your eyes, the distant sound of waves gently drifts towards you… No, you’re not relaxing at an exotic spa, this is your private retreat, right in your own home.’
Health and Fitness magazine,  Jan 2014 Spa at home, Yanar Alkayat
My piece in the January issue of Health & Fitness magazine is on creating the perfect spa experience at home, out now, featuring some of my favourite spa brands, Ila, Decleor, Neal’s Yard Remedies, Elemis, Balance Me, Ushvani, Elemental Herbology, Aveda, Sultane de Saba – the brand to turn to for an authentic Hammam-style black soap – and many more.
There is also expert insight and recommendations from Carole Jones of Germaine de Cappuccini,

Katharine Mackenzie Paterson from Spa Illuminata and Melissa Choi from Choi Time Teas, for creating the right ambience and setting as well as tools and spa rituals for a bespoke spa experience at home.
Now is definitely the season, weather and time for retreating indoors for a cosy, rejuvenating and pampering night in. Pick up a copy here. Enjoy!

A very shiny organic manicure

I feel slightly behind the times as I only managed to visit the new WholeFoods in Piccadilly the other week, several months after it opened, and wow what a difference a few square metres make. This large new home, just around the corner from the old, is impressive; spread across two floors with a mouth-watering fresh foods area, dining mezzanine and treatment rooms, you can fulfil every natural health and beauty need.

Treatment I tried:  Pink’s Boutique Organic Manicure

Why it’s great:

If you want a truly organic manicure, this is the only treatment you need. Nail varnish can never be truly natural or organic so this is by default, a polish-free manicure. But fear not style-seekers, you’ll step out with the shiniest nails ever and won’t miss polish one bit.

Wow moments:

– A 100% natural sugar, salt and jojoba oil scrub for hand exfoliation. Skin has never felt so irresistible to touch.  This was the softest my hands have EVER been.

– A slice of fresh lime to whiten nail beds and nail tips. This natural beauty tip works real wonders before your eyes. Try it at home – just take a slice of lime and smooth under your nails for a fresher look.

– Nail buffing for shockingly shiny nails. Who needs polish when you can have ten totally natural and eye-poppingly shiny nails? I was mesmerised.

Founder of Pink’s Boutique, Kirstie Allen was in town that day and I was lucky enough to have my treatment done by the queen-bee herself, a very down-to-earth and lovely lady. An inspirational entrepreneur at just 32, she finished a history degree at Oxford University and decided to follow her passions in natural beauty and wellbeing; she set up the company with her partner Luke.

Luckily, this no-polish manicure is not just available at Wholefoods in London. You can find a beauty salon doing Pink’s Boutiques manicures around the UK here.

Enjoy and let me know if you have also loved any Pink’s Boutiques treatments.

New spa opens in the heart of central London

W London Leicester Square Away SpaLast week, after dodging through Chinatown’s people-heavy streets, late and stressed, I got whisked upstairs to the sixth floor of the newest hotel in town – W London Leicester Square. The hotel’s dark and minimalist hallways and corridors are a complete opposite to the spa: bright white and slightly futuristic. Flushed lacquer furnishings, fringe curtains, a sleek central lounge area and staff (also in white) speaking in whisper-like tones.

The atmosphere is definitely serene which is exactly what was intended. The treatment menu tends to the needs of tired (or partied-out) travellers – facials and body treatments by Ren and Aromatherapy Associates with relaxation and rejuvenation in mind.

I had the Away Facial which was shortened slightly (because I was late, of course) but I still managed to walk out with younger-feeling skin – the fruit enzymes in the Ren products are excellent at smoothing skin without the use of exfoliating granules or beads.

Ren Omega 3 Night Repair Serum

In the goodie bag was my now-favourite product – Ren Omega 3 Night Repair Serum. It’s a lightweight serum that is meant to help skin repair overnight but I can’t resist its gorgeousness with a light and zingy lemon scent, so I’ve been slathering it on morning and night and some of the day in between too. I’m sure Ren won’t mind will they?!

New spa scrub for smooth skin

A new blog post is long overdue. It’s been a busy month at work, getting the third issue of Expert Beauty out the door but in a few weeks it will hit the shelves in WHSmith and it will all be worth it! In between the late nights and early mornings, I managed to squeeze in a visit to a detox event at The Organic Pharmacy, sneak a peak at their new product launches (more of that later) and discover a new body scrub that’s really worth its price tag.


First up, is a French spa range that’s just launched in the UK – Cinq Mondes ( Award-winning in France, it’s one of those brands that’s less about the glamour and pamper and more about giving you results for your hard-earned beauty buck.  The Gommage Aromatique aux Epices – which is Sea Salt and Spices Smoothing Body Scrub – is an unusual scrub-experience for a few reasons:

1. it’s a dark, murky brown colour

2. it smells a bit like a forest

3. it goes onto skin like squidgy putty

4. and then washes off in a milky-water way

I haven’t painted a very good picture but this scrub is really very good for a number of reasons:

1. it’s made mainly with sea salt and oils, plus a good pinch of spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla – ingredients that promote circulation, soft skin and the removal of skin-dulling dead cells

2. when you work it into skin you suddenly feel like you’re in a Turkish hammam – the aroma of spices and gritty-doughy texture that say smooth skin is about to be yours

3. a little goes a long way across each limb as it doesn’t disappear quickly like some scrubs do

4. the milky wash off feels lovely and smooth to wash off (but be warned the smell isn’t that hot)

5. there are no mineral oils, artificial colours, animal based ingredients or silicones

6. you get a cute leaflet explaining how to give yourself a ‘dynamic massage’ with pointers to pressure points across the body

I always so you can tell a good beauty brand by the quality of its scrub (face or body), which means I’m looking forward to trying other Cinq Mondes products. The Tropical Nuts Melting Balm looks particularly good – another one that seems like it means the business for smooth skin.

Tried and tested: New Year's day massage in Zanzibar

Local flowers at Mrembo Spa, Zanzibar

Me at Mrembo Spa, Zanzibar

Local flowers 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.

Each appointment starts with a relaxing drink of ginger and lemongrass tea, while feet are gently washed in warm, flower-infused water. Local Taarab music (melodic and Arabic in origin with sweet vocals) plays in the background (no rubbishy windpipe music here!) reminding you you’re in one of the most exotic islands in the world.

The massage itself was perfectly gentle for my partied, safaried and travelled-out limbs. After weeks on the go, this was just what I needed. Traditionally, Zanzibari girls indulge in a full body flower scrub before their wedding day, made up of lots of crushed local flowers, cloves, sandalwood and geranium oil and rosewater. Delicious.

Local handmade crafts, Mrembo Spa, Zanzibar A big barrel of lemongrass at Mrembo Spa in Zanzibar

All the products are handmade and natural, using plants and ingredients from the local area, and they’re all available to buy in gorgeously presented bottles and wrapping. The spa also sells locally-made clothes using the famous ‘khanga’ – large, beautifully coloured, printed scarves used by Tanzanian women to make clothes and head scarves. Many of the spa’s furnishings, and even the knickers, are made of this so there’s less waste and more reuse.

Mrembo Spa, set up by a Dutch lady, has embodied so many elements of Zanzibari life, the females and their beauty rituals. On top of that, the staff have a very warm and gentle way about them.

If you ever find yourself down Stone Town’s eccentric, narrow and windy streets be sure to seek it out.

More info about the local traditions on the Mrembo website