Friday, 12 September 2014

Green People

Organic Beauty week is not quiet over yet. Everyday this week Green People are having a different offer and today's is a free Moisturising gel with every purchase of their Nurture Body lotion.

Green People have one of the biggest, most comprehensive ranges when it comes to "green" beauty. There really is something for each member of the family (yes even for the men in your life), and 90% of their products are certified organic (not only by Soil Association, but also by Ecocert and Organic Food federation). The two products at hand are for the citrus lovers.

It is no secret that I am a big fan soaps, but I do always have a shower gel in my bathroom to use with a sponge, and for a spot of DIY. Moisturising Shower gel* has the right amount of sudsing action, without making my skin feel like dry parchment. What really makes this shower gel stand out to me is the aroma, it is subtle yet distinct. Fresh and vibrant citrus notes, mixed with gentle calm of field flowers. It is a joy to have this product in my shower. I always liked foaming body scrubs, however I haven't come across an organic version, so I make my own when I feel like it by mixing equal amounts of shower gel and salt (I tend to prefer pink Himalayan salt), and let it sit for an hour or so. While it is not an uber fancy exfoliator, it is really handy if you've run out of body scrub. Moisturising shower gel is made with 84% Organic ingredients.

Nurture Body lotion* is a perfect companion to the shower gel. Their fragrances complement each other effortlessly. Again the scent is not overly strong but noticeable, with sparkling bergamot being dominant. Despite the fact that this is a lotion, a little of the product goes along way. Skin is left feeling smooth and supple with no noticeable residue (and smelling oh so delicious). I really like the pump bottle that the lotion comes in, it is very easy to control the amount of product that comes out. As well as shea butter and sunflower oil, this lotion contains squalane from Olives and Perilla oil, combination of these makes it rich in Omega 3-6 as well as antioxidants. This lotion is made with 91.6% Organic ingredients.

When talking about switching to organic beauty it is always advised to start with body products (especially when you use them daily), as they are used on the largest area of skin, body products have potential to be most disruptive if they contain certain synthetic chemicals. There is really no time like the present to try something new, and if you enjoy fresh scents this duo is just the ticket.

*These products are PR samples in honour of Organic Beauty week, I have been buying Green People products for many years and genuinely like their formulations, including the products reviewed above. As always it is my own honest opinion. Just to paraphrase my PR policy: no likey no reviewy...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Soil Association Organic Beauty event

As part of Organic Beauty week Whole Foods Kensington were hosting a Soil Association event for press and bloggers. I was not entirely sure what to expect from this evening, and even though I arrived at 6.30 on the dot (which was the time on the invite), it looked like I was late as the area was full of people chatting and sipping on prosecco.

Luckily I spotted Amber very quickly, and a few minutes after we were joined by Abi from Odylique (aka essential care). It felt like an informal gathering, a table full of delightful beauty products and a chance to chat with people who created them. Brands showcased were Green People, Neal's Yard, Odylique, Pai, Therapie and Natracare.

In the middle of the evening there was also a more formalised Q&A with a panel of experts (including representatives from above mentioned brands), discussion revolved around organic beauty, certification, ingredients and packaging. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Whole Foods make a point of only stocking products that are certified organic if they make any organic claims. So you can be assured that if you bought something from their stores with the words organic on the front, it is genuinely organic.

After that we had another opportunity to mingle and that is when Amber and I were joined by Tanya from Therapi. I only wish there was more time, as per usual I did not get a chance to speak to everyone I wanted to before we had to leave.

We did not go home empty handed, this was rather unexpected and I am really looking forward to trying everything.

At the same time as the event upstairs, in the Whole Foods beauty department there was an evening of  "organic bubbles and beauty" for all the customers. In the Kensington store there will be a pop up "Green room" from 12th-14th of September, with different guest speakers one of whom is Sarah Brown founder of Pai.

The effort that Soil Association is putting into creating bigger awareness of organic beauty is very impressive and commendable. There are so many amazing brands that make fantastic products, which are head and shoulders above their conventional counterparts, it is a little disheartening to realise how few people truly know about them ( in comparison to brands sold on the shelves of Superdrug). Being in the bubble of the "green" beauty community I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with what is in my beauty cabinet, or even with all the different organic certifying bodies. While I have reservations about making organic certification in the beauty industry a part of legislation, I also feel that at present you need to dedicate a lot of time to be able to spot a pretender, and that means that people become sceptical about whether organic products are really worth it.

This event turned out to be not only fun but also very informative, and guess what Pai will be introducing two new products very soon, and they sound pretty fantastic...


Monday, 8 September 2014

Pinks Boutique manicure set review

Today is the start of Organic Beauty week, and of course that means lots of offers to entice you to switch your regular beauty items for the organic ones. Now is a good time to stock up on your trusted favourites or discover something new.

Pinks Boutique is a brand of organic luxury products made in the UK, while you can choose to have a pamper session at one of the Spa's that carries the range, there is nothing stopping you from recreating this experience in the comfort of your own home. As part of the organic beauty festival they have an offer on their try me sets were you can get two boxes for £25 (excluding the anti ageing box which will have its own promo). I love introductory sets, they make fantastic gifts, small bottles are perfect for travel and they give you a chance to find what products from the range (if any) work for you at a fraction of the cost.

Upon setting your eyes on one of the Pinks Boutique try me set boxes you might be expecting some exquisite chocolate confectionery, however this particular treat does not require a sacrifice of your waistline. The manicure set* consists of five products that will create a spa inspired ritual.

To set the scene there is Sweet orange & Neroli elixir, which is a room and linen spray. This scent really reminds me of a treatment room, with lots of different massage oils and balms intermingling together to create that relaxing soothing smell.

The next step is a hand soak (that can also double up as a foot soak), a mixture of salts and essential oils to aid circulation and soften cuticles. Once mixed in the water, the citrus aroma becomes more noticeable, overall the scent is more calming rather than invigorating. As part of the decoration, the set comes with dried rosebuds, and I like to add a few petals from them to the soaking bowl to give my pamper session that something extra.

Once the hands are nicely prepped, there is a bit of a choice, you could use Indonesian Body oil or Hand balm for a light hand massage. Both products sink in really well and have a wonderful exotic fragrance, which is slightly similar in both products but a little stronger in the body oil. The scent is a mixture of sweet nectar and sharper citrus notes, it does stay on the skin, although you would have to have a very sensitive nose to notice it after half an hour. Both of these are recommended for evening use and are suitable all over the body (but not the face). The hand balm has a buttery texture and I find that my hands only need half a pea sized amount (my hands a rarely dry however so others might need more). The body oil is very light, it has more slip than a dry oil but sinks in just as fast,  perfect for a massage.

The last step is the cuticle oil. It has a really fresh crisp scent, most likely thanks to the addition of fennel oil. You only need a few drops for all the nails and their respective cuticles. The whole process from the hand soak to the cuticle oil takes about 10-15 minutes, and is a perfect addition to my usual Sunday mask ritual. In the morning my nails are all ready for painting, or I just rub a little more cuticle oil on them to give that extra shine and leave them au naturel.

I was trying really hard to figure out my favourite product from the box, and I failed miserably. The only thing I probably wouldn't make a part of my collection is the room spray, because I generally prefer scented candles. Despite seemingly small quantities, the products are lasting quiet sometime (especially the hand balm and the cuticle oil), I find myself needing only a small amount at a time, that leaves my hands perfectly moisturised with shiny nails. I love the attention to detail from the box, to the labels, to the wonderful scents, all of it combined is what makes Pinks Boutique manicure try me set* such a wonderful treat or a gift to someone who enjoys having a little me time/spa ritual every so often.

*This set is a PR sample sent to me for a review, as usual the opinions are my own and based on my experience with the products, I want to say scout's honour...but I've never been a scout, so I'm just going to settle for honest.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

To Lush or not to Lush (Collab)

A few weeks ago Lush held a live preservatives debate, in the aftermath an idea for this collaborative post was born. Sarah (Sugarpuffish), Amber (Amber's Beauty Talk), Paula (Naturally Paula) and I, all have different experiences with the company and for our own reasons have decided to give a few alternative suggestions to some of the products from the line up. For the other puzzle pieces of this story you will need to visit these ladies blogs.

My Lush story:

I first discovered Lush when I was a teenager (this is probably not surprising). I remember rushing into the store every payday in hopes of discovering something new. My favourite moment was bringing it all back and poring over the Lush times, looking for ingredients and reviews for each one of my products. You see, as long as I can remember, I have been reading the ingredients lists of every single beauty product I bought, but Lush times was were I was learning what those words actually meant. Straight away I spotted that not all ingredients were natural (although at this point it mattered little to me), I liked the idea of colour coding that made it easier to see how many synthetic chemicals each product had. As I was growing more aware and trying to make better choices with my beauty products in my twenties I was choosing to buy products from Lush that had only those ingredients I was happy to use. I stopped using their soaps and shampoo bars, and was sticking to a couple of cleansers, massage bars, one bath bomb (the Big Blue), fresh masks and of course my beloved Aqua Mirabilis. My favourite products that were all natural Baby face and Sweet Japanese girl were both discontinued (that was quiet some time ago), yet I still kept going to the store, hoping that they would be back.

As I was expanding my knowledge base and finding new natural/organic brands my trips to Lush were becoming less frequent. It felt like I was growing up and changing, yet my old friend Lush was not moving with me. Like with old school friends, with some you have an amazing relationship and with others there is simply nothing to talk about. Lush and I had less and less in common. Nostalgia however is a powerful thing, and the one product I would come back for was Aqua Mirabilis, this was what I used in the morning of the day I got married, and every time I smelt this body bar it brought back happy memories. To be truthful I have not been inside one of their stores for more than a year, but I wasn't actively avoiding Lush, it just was not at the top of my list.

The things I like about their products is that quiet a lot of them are free of packaging. The fact that they recycle their black pots and if you bring 5 back you get a free fresh mask (that is why I still have some empty black pots from forever ago). All the ingredients lists are readily available.

However they use quiet a few ingredients that I personally do not want in my products, and now to confuse things even further they have this "self preserve range" which only addresses the paraben part of things. Somehow it all makes me very sad, while before I would hang out in a Lush store after getting a pay cheque, now my destination is Wholefoods Beauty aisle.

As a person who tried pretty much everything from the range in the past (so not any new products in the last 2 years), I thought I would share what I use instead of my old Lush favourites.

I used to adore Lemony flutter for the scent alone, smell of lemons is so refreshing and uplifting, however as soon as Burt's bees lemon butter cuticle cream came into my life I knew it was here to stay. While the two products smell almost identical, Burt's bees is like a miracle worker when it comes to strengthening my nails.

Lush was probably partly responsible for my soap obsession and two of my favourites were Honey I washed the kids and Porridge. My discovery of Bathing Beauty solved this little problem, the Miracle soap that combines oats and honey is like a magical hybrid of the two but without any of the ingredients that I avoid, and it is just so amazing.

One product the I still want to replace is my beloved Aqua Mirabilis, however I think I will need to resort to some DIY to do this. I figured out a recipe that I'm going to use, but it is yet untested as I am missing one ingredient, which I was going to get at the end of  beauty challenge 10. So if you guys are interested let me know in the comments and I will do another post on it.

Friday, 29 August 2014

The starting over tag

Since I have been tagged for this by both Rachel (all natural aspirations) and Amber (Amber's beauty talk) there was really no way out. The idea behind this tag is that for some horrifying reason (truly this is what the nightmares are made of ) your beauty stash has disappeared entirely and to make the matters worse you can only get 16 items to replace those that are now somewhere in the black void.

Well at first I was thinking 16 items that is loads, easy... Yet, this has to include everything make up, skincare, shampoo... The truth is if I was doing this list last week it probably would have looked different, but at this moment in time it is a mixture of some tried and tested staples and a couple of things that I am lusting after. Why would I give up some of precious spaces to these unknown quantities? The truth is that is part of my character, even when I go to the shops to buy a replacement for something I often comeback with a product that I haven"t tried before, because I am curious about it. So even if I was starting from the beginning I wouldn't only buy things I know work, I would always want to discover something new.

Tried and tested.

Skin/body care:

1.S.W. Basics cleanser
2. Kris D'amour cleansing balm
3. S.W. Basics toner
4. Yuli Cocoon Elixir
5. George's Aloe vera spray
6. May Lindstrom Blue cocoon
7. Lina Hanson Global face serum
8. Kahina Lavender & Rosemary soap
9. R.L. Linden Deodorant


10.Kjaer Weis eyeshadow Wisdom
11. RMS beauty Lip 2 Cheek Beloved
12. Avril organic mascara
13. W3ll people tinted lip balm N.1 coral

The Unknowns.

14. Odacite peach + cypress serum
15. Yarok moisturising Shampoo
16. RMS lip shine Royal

This is my list, I had to think about it alot, the first 12 products were always unchanged through my deliberations. Those are the products that have been the corner stones of my daily routine ( the R.L. Linden deo being the only exception sinceI only have a travel size, but this will be rectified after the no-buy challenge). As I have been using makeup rather infrequently I only include my favourite and most used items.

Now that I had three spaces left for the untested items I just went for things that I will be trying to get in the near future. You will notice that there are no body oils/butters/moisturisers on the list, mainly because my skin is not dry, these are the things I can happily go without for long periods of time and if push comes to shove there is always olive oil in my kitchen.

To the nominations part, I am tagging:

Liz Smells Like a Green Spirit

Lilly Genuine Glow
Nic Organic Obsessions

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tabitha James Kraan dry shampoo review

The state of my hair can dictate my mood for the day. Is this shallow? Probably, but I am sure most of you can relate to what I am talking about. You wake up: hair tangled, no matter what you do flyaways don't stay in place and you are supposed to be out of the door in the next five minutes... Does not make a beginning of a wonderful morning. However when hair looks really good, all of a sudden you find yourself using less make up yet looking and feeling fabulous. A good shampoo and conditioner combo should do the ground work, but as every lady with long hair knows, washing your hair everyday is a no no. I tend to wash my hair every 3-4 days depending on how dirty/oily it gets and what I am doing (if I am staying at home it can wait an extra day... best friends wedding, it is getting a wash).

The thing is after the second day (and occasionally even the first) my hair does not look all that great. While the lengths are fine the roots (especially in the summer) are getting somewhat oily, the look reminds me of boys from Grease. While it may work for some, I am most definitely not pulling it off. The obvious solution to this problem is dry shampoo, but finding one that works proved to be a much more difficult task then previously undissipated.

My luck changed when Tabitha kindly sent me a dry shampoo* from her capsule collection. Tabitha James Kraan runs an organic hairdressing salon and an online shop of natural beauty products, as well as her own capsule collection of hair treats. The dry shampoo in particular took 18 months to formulate and comes in two versions one for fair and one for dark hair.

The ingredient list is pretty impressive:

Tapioca (manihot utilissima)*, Rice (oryza sativa)*, Chestnut (castanea sativa)*, sodium bicarbonate Chick pea (cicer arietinum)*, Maize powder (zea mais)*, Burdock Root (arctium lappa)*, Chamomile (anthemis nobilis)*, Lemon (citrus limon)*, Comfrey (symphytum officinale)*, white tea (camellia sinensis)*, Potato (solanum tuberosum)*, Nettle (urtica dioica)*, Lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus)*, Rose Geranium (pelargonium graveolens)*, Rose Otto (rosa damascena), Myrrh (commiphora myrrha)*, (citral geraniol citronellol farnesol limonene linalool – all naturally occurring components of essential oils)

* Denotes Certified Organic Ingredients

I mean I was expecting baking soda and corn flour, and maybe even rice powder and tapioca are no great surprise, but chestnut? burdock root? rose otto in a dry shampoo?  That is pretty special. Of course the main point does it work? Yes it really does. What makes it stand out head and shoulders above its counter parts is that it does not cause my head to itch like a family of fire ants has made my scalp their home, it provides volume that lasts all day, and it doesn't make the lenghts of my hair dry.

The sleek golden packaging doesn't only look good it is actually very practical. The bottle is slightly narrower than other powders I have used and somehow this means I don't make a mess while applying it ( I still do this before getting dressed just in case, but my bathroom floor and sink don't end up covered in powder so this is a big step up). The application process that works best for me is as follows:

-Sprinkle a bit of powder on top of the head, quickly massage in to the roots to ensure even distribution
-Flip my head and hair to the side, sprinkle powder on the roots and a quick massage
-Flip my head to the other side and repeat
-Look down and distribute some powder to the lower part at the back of the head
- Get dressed and then brush my hair upside down

On the instructions it suggests that for more volume you should blow dry your hair on cold setting while brushing out your hair, sadly my hairdryer is a prehistoric thing with no such setting so I was not able to test this out. If you don't want the extra volume and your aim is just to get your roots looking a bit fresher, go ahead and brush your hair like normal and this dry shampoo will give you an apperance of a clean mane. The powder has a light floral scent that is very pleasant, not at all overpowering yet strong enough to mask that not so fresh hair smell.

The beauty of this dry shampoo is that it also doubles up as a texturising powder. When I use it this way I normally sprinkle some on my hands and then apply to my roots, scrunching up my  hair as I go along with my fingers. This gives fantastic volume that can be incorporated into an updo or left as is. You can tell that this dry shampoo was created by someone who knows hair, I have never had a pleasure to use a powder that was this fabulous and worked so well with my hair.

*This product was sent to me to try out, every word of this review is my own honest opinion as always

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Bodhi and Birch Rosa Rosa event

It is always exciting to here about new launches, but to get an opportunity to play with the products and chat to their creator, well that is just a dream come true to any self respecting green beauty addict. Especially if the brand in question is Bodhi and Birch.

If you are a regular reader of this blog you would have noticed that I have never reviewed anything from this brand, the reason is simple I have never tried any of their products. My knowledge of them was purely second hand, yet when I heard about (and saw the pictures) of the Rosa Rosa addition to the line up, I just knew that my impressive self restraint of the past few months (which is only impressive in the light of my usual shopping habits), was not going to hold out much longer.

The introduction of Rosa Rosa and the newly tweaked Bodhi and Birch took place at a lovely St Martin's lane hotel in central London. I arrived in the evening so stayed almost to the end. As I walked in, the first thing that hit me was how beautiful the display was, all the attention to detail was just breathtaking. And of course you could not help but notice energetic Elijah (the brain and the beauty, the creator of the collection) floating like a butterfly from one person to another, with product know how and a ready smile.

                                                                                                    Elijah & Rebecca

I was also very happy to be able to catch up with Rebecca (Biteable Beauty), who I haven't seen in absolute eternity, as I'm new to the brand she shared with me her personal favourites, and in the end we both came to a conclusion that Bohdi and Birch is one of those rare lines where everything smells good.

Within Bodhi and Birch there is a little division into the main range so to speak (which includes the shower and bath therapies, body lotions and now Rosa Rosa) and artisanal range that is packed in dark glass jars/bottles. The artisanal range is made in small batches every few months so the products you are getting will be really fresh, and they are very concentrated, they might appear smaller than their counterparts from other brands, but they will actually last you along while. There is something extremely appealing about the dark glass packaging, and these offerings from Bodhi and Birch artisanal range would no doubt make every bathroom look a little more decadent.

                                                                                                   Rosa Rosa display

Rosa Rosa range consists of a cream cleanser, mist toner and a face cream/lotion and the ingredients that it revolves around are rose, chamomile, rosehip and neroli (in the cream products). I tried everything on my arms and really liked the consistency of the products. They are formulated for normal to dry skin, yet the cream products did not feel heavy. If you are not a fan of rose scents (which is one of the ingredients in the range), the cream products actually smell more dominantly of neroli (the scent is not very strong which I for one appreciate in my face products). The toner (this really made my eyes sparkle from desire) a wonderful blend that includes rose water, orange blossom and chamomile, has a very faint scent to it and felt really wonderful on the skin no stickiness whatsoever and is apparently completely edible, so no worries about having your mouth open when you are spraying your face with this beauty (yes I admit, it happens to me more often than I would like).

                                                            Moustache cup: enjoy your cuppa whilst keeping your tash tea free and fabulous

The highlight of the evening was the moustache cup... No of course I am kidding, as fabulous as it was, the undeniable highlight was talking to Elijah Choo. It is always encouraging when the founder of the brand is in love with his own creations, and it was very apparent that Elijah is very passionate about his line. I did make him choose his favourite (yes yes so horrible of me, but I just could not resist), and it is the Rosemary Chi salt scrub. I must say it did look and smell very good, very fine pink Himalayan salts in a mix of softening shea butter, carrier and essential oils, very hard to deny my skin such a wonderful sounding treat. As we got talking about Rosa Rosa and skin types Elijah pointed out that for my skin (combo towards oily in the summer) during winter the cleanser and toner in the range are the ones to go for, but to swap the face lotion for Neroli luce face oil instead.

                                                                            The wonder scrub between the temple and lip balms

I left the event on a high feeling better than when I arrived (possibly something to do with the delicious food on silver trays that was carried around, and the healing aromas of Bodhi and Birch products that were wafting through the room). I did not leave empty handed, I believe the goodie bags content varied at random, but the luck pixies were clearly on my side as I was blown away by Jasmine falls and the shower/bath therapy in this scent was one of the things that was in mine (now I can literally bathe in jasmine and feel like Cleopatra). The other item in the bag was Rosa Rosa daily moisturiser, now even though I was told that it is probably not for my skin, since I have my hands on it, I really want to try it (I rarely find cream products that my face likes so if it works I will be over the moon), as soon as it is colder I will be opening it and crossing my fingers for success, it just sounds so good and it felt wonderful on my arm, I am keeping it to myself and no one can stop me.

Rosa Rosa and some wonderful travel/try me sets from Bohdi and Birch should be available in September.

And here is a short video blog to recap the event: