Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pamper sessions | Isla apothecary

It might have taken an eternity for warm weather to make an appearance, but now the heat is on! For me this means hello shorts and abundance of sunscreen. With all this skin being exposed I am definitely paying a lot more attention to my body routine. It is not about using lots of products, but more about being consistent: using some sort of exfoliant twice a week and a nourishing body oil every time after shower and/or sun exposure. It might not seem that way, but I have always been a little bit lazy about my beauty routines. There are lots of perfectly functional products that will get the job done, but the thing is, if they don't make me feel special in some sort of way I am not going to remember to use them (with the exception of spot treatments, those just need to do the job). I am really fond of beauty products that make me feel like I am in spa, or on an exotic holiday.

Isla apothecary is based in London, and the products are hand blended in small batches, they are rooted in the principles of aromatherapy and it shows. As soon as you open the jar of Blood orange + Vanilla body scrub the amazing scent starts working its magic. Honestly, I am not sure if I should be using it on my body or reaching for a spoon. The gorgeous blend of brown sugar, coconut oil, shea butter, peach kernel oil, vitamin E, blood orange and vanilla smells so delicious and uplifting, that it never fails to put a smile on my face. That is before I even use it! Despite all the oils and butters, the mixture is on the loose side. It is more like sugar with a touch of oil, as opposed to sugar suspended in oil. What this means is that when you are massaging a few handfuls of the scrub (I find that two is enough for my entire body) into wet skin, your bath/shower doesn't turn into a lethal ice rink. Skin is left feeling soft and moisturised yet not greasy. I actually find that I don't need to use a body oil after this treatment, my skin feels perfectly taken care of. The scent doesn't stay on the skin, but if your other half happens to wonder into the bathroom while you are busy scrubbing away, be prepared for them to have a sudden craving for Terry's chocolate orange.

I think my love for neroli is well documented on Instagram. This essential oil is distilled from the flowers of a citrus plant, so has the same mood boosting properties as citrus oils but it is also considered to be an aphrodisiac (this side effect is always welcome in my book). So how could I turn down an opportunity to try Isla's Neroli body oil*? The base of it is made up of safflower, coconut, pumpkin and rosehip oils, making it seriously silky and full of antioxidants. Pumpkin oil in particular is a power house of fatty acids, zinc and antioxidants making it a great addition to a post sun exposure skincare. Rosehip by itself is a dry oil, it sinks in without leaving any residue, when it comes to skincare benefits it seems to be especally helpful with mitigating photo-ageing (sun damage). The overall blend feels wonderfully emollient, leaving my skin super soft and smooth. The essential oils of neroli, patchouli, frankincense, petitgrain and mandarin, make for a very uplifting scent that isn't too sweet or overly floral. The best thing about the scent is that it's both noticeable and yet not at all over powering. I apply this body oil to damp skin after my evening shower. It is nourishing enough that I can see myself using it all year round, but I am especially loving it as part of my after sun routine. About 2 pumps is all it takes since my skin isn't particularly dry. The next morning my skin is still as soft as velvet. 

When I have an hour or two to myself, I really love taking my time with the body scrub and following it up with the body oil (I would use just a little oil as the scrub really is pretty moisturising, and mainly on my legs and arms since these are the areas that tend to be drier). Not only does my skin feel and look pretty darn amazing after, I really feel fabulous overall, in good spirits and very relaxed. This is the best part of combining seriously good skincare ingredients and aromatherapy.

As a very special treat, if you feel like experiencing the wonder of Isla Apothecary for yourself, I have a discount code for my readers: 'rainbowfeet' will save you 15%.

*PR sample, all thoughts are my own based on my personal experience with the product. The whole point of this blog is to introduce you to things that I genuinely think are awesome, so making stuff up would be trully.. well.. pointless!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A touch of coral

Spring is in full swing and I am finding myself being drawn to brighter colours and flowery scents. If the sun is a little shy about making an appearance, I am compensating for it with my choice of wardrobe and makeup.

Their is still a chill in the air, so even on a nicer day layering has been key. I swapped my heavier knits for cotton. People tree Kelly v-neck jumper* is becoming a bit of a staple this April. It has this cosy feel, but is light enough on warmer days. I have a feeling it will be used a lot this summer. I am partial to corals as it is, and I love the casual loose cut of this jumper. It is slightly longer on the back than at the front, so you can experiment with tucking it in at the front if you fancy styling it up a little.  So far I have mainly being pairing it up with jeans, biding my time for a change of weather when I can bring out my shorts. This jumper is made with certified cotton that is also fair trade. If you are asking #whomademyclothes during Fashion Revolution week, People Tree are not hiding the answer. I am keeping a close eye on the latest additions to their range, I think this Spring/Summer collection is one of their strongest. Beautiful colours, prints and some distinct tailoring. Use discount code RF10 to get 10% off full priced People Tree collection.

When it comes to body care there has been one particular oil I have been reaching for, Lani. The gorgeous scent and the silky smooth skin that it leaves behind have made it one of my most used products this spring. Of course the cheery coral colour of the bottle has also been making me notice it above others (I have reviewed it previously here).

    From left to right: Ilia Karma Chameleon, La bella figura Frida Fabulosa, Itha Orange Bloom, W3ll people #1 Coral

My makeup has been pretty minimal, I have been using La Bella Figura Frida fabulosa blush and going between 3 lip colours: w3ll people nudist #1 coral, itha london orange bloom, and ilia crayon in Karma chameleon. Nudist #1 is a tinted lip balm, it gives just a hint of colour, perfect for no fuss low key look. Itha lip conditioner is a non sticky gloss, with a gorgeous creamy feel. Karma chameleon is a long time favourite, full on punchy coral. Frida Fabulosa gives a lovely, natural looking flush of peachy/coral blush and works really well with all three lip colours.

What colours are you most drawn to this spring?

*PR sample, all thoughts expressed are as ever my own.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Seaweed in my cream?

Every spring I feel the need to switch up my skincare routine. I have yet to find a magic formula to do it smoothly, but I think each year I get a little bit closer. The lovely rich products, that were absolutely perfect during winter months, are just too much. Yet the feather light offerings, that are fab for summer heat, are also wrong. Getting that balance of not over drying my skin, yet getting those first signs of oiliness that come with warmer weather under control, can be a real challenge. What my skin really needs right now is hydration and soothing ingredients.

GreenPeople Beauty Boost skin restore* is an interesting concept. In the simplest terms it is a mask that you don't wash off (or you can think of it as a leave in conditioner for your face).  At first I was a little confused. The formula is that of a light cream, and the way you would use it, is pretty much like you would any moisturiser. So what makes this a treatment and not just a run of the mill day cream? That would be the performance. 

The instructions on the packaging are pretty vague: “Use daily or when skin needs a pick me up”. Despite not giving you much direction, it ends up highlighting the versatility of the Beauty Boost. I use it straight after cleansing, skipping my usual face mists and serums, there is enough going on in this product without me trying to mix and match with other formulations. Applying about 2 pea sized blobs, and leaving it to sink in. That is it. Now it is time to let the product do it’s magic. 

My favourite way to do this super simple routine of cleansing, followed by the Beauty Boost is in the evenings, especially on the nights when I’m washing my hair. Hot shower water is really not a friend to my complexion, Beauty boost restores the balance perfectly. I always wake up with skin that looks hydrated, calm and has a smooth texture. It does make a seriously good primer for makeup too, but I just love the effects of leaving it on overnight. 

Having a nose about the ingredients is my favourite part of getting know any product. I am seaweed obsessed when it comes to my food. With all the nutrients and minerals found in these aquatic plants it is no surprise that including them in beauty formulations makes for a spectacular product. There are two types of seaweed in the Beauty boost*: ulva compressa (green algae) and wakame, both boast skin soothing properties. Helichrysum (everlasting flower) extract has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-microbial effects. It can help with clearing up acne without drying effect on the skin. In fact wakame cell culture extract, what makes this formula a true hydrating star and aids with collagen renewal, also has anti-inflammatory properties. Perilla oil is an excellent source of Omega 3 essential fatty acids, which are needed for healthy skin (you really need to get your Omega 3s from your diet, but there is no arguing that topical application does make a difference). I do want to remark that the second ingredient is fair trade and organic plm oil. I do watch out for how palm oil is sourced, and if it had suspect origin I would not use a product with palm oil, here is what Green People say about their sourcing policy.

All the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich ingredients make this treatment an excellent addition to any routine. If you are prone to acne outbreaks, it is very important to keep the balance. The beauty boost* is an easy way to restore hydration and calm the skin if you accidentally went overboard and dried the skin out.

I love that the results are noticeable the next day, I even tried it on one of my hands so I could compare. The skin that was treated to the Beauty boost was much softer and smoother even 24 hours after applying. The lightweight pump packaging and the 50ml size means I can easily take it with me on a long haul flight. I can see this becoming a must to combat drying cabin air, and keep me looking fresh faced when travelling .

The scent is light and refreshing, with a hint of citrus. It doesn’t really linger and is not too strong, so never becomes annoying.

Beauty Boost skin restore is available for pre-order with 10% off until 7th of April.

*PR sample, all opinions are mine and mine alone, based on personal experience with the product. I don't even have to say that "this message is approved by me", because I wrote it. Every single word.

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

In pursuit of restful slumber...

Whenever I get excited about something, or in periods of stress, the first thing to suffer is the quality of my sleep. It doesn't really matter if the reason for a restless night is a happy occasion, if I don't get my 8 hours of slumber I turn into a gremlin (and not cute little fluffy Gismo, but the other version). Having a good night's rest influences a lot more than someones mood. It affects how well we function, physically and mentally, and of course it affects our appearance.

Due to my personality, I often go through periods when I struggle to fall asleep, or I am plagued by so many dreams that I feel more exhausted come morning then I did before going to bed. As much as I loathe the idea of having a bedtime routine, having some sort of structure really does help in this case.

Lock down on electronic devices.

Sometimes I forget that my phone is just a device and not an extension of my hand. It is very tempting to see what is going on Twitter or Instagram instead of counting sheep in my mind. The thing is, the blue light of the screen makes it even harder to fall asleep afterwords. So at least an hour before bed I lay all my electronic devices to rest. Mobile phone goes into a bedside draw (I will be able to hear an emergency phone call but it's out of sight). I do this before my usual skincare ritual, so once I'm back from the bathroom there are no distracting devices hovering about.

Time for feet.

On my bedside table I always keep a foot balm. Feet seem to have a connection with pretty much everything that goes on in the body, and they are always working so hard. I find that a good foot rub is not only relaxing but it really makes me feel so much better. At the moment I am using Bathing Beauty sock. I love the texture of this balm, it absorbs well but not too quickly, giving me plenty of time for a massage. The minty scent puts my mind at ease.


After a foot rub I normally like to read for a little, sipping on some chamomile tea. This really helps me to unwind and leave the working day behind. Once I feel like I am ready for some shut eye, I will use one of the two aromatherapy blends currently on rotation: Badger sleep balm or Bloom remedies serenity slumber. Both work really well for me, but I find with these things that they can be very effective in the beginning, and then once I get used to them they are not as helpful. Rotating between the two solves this problem as the scents are very different.

The big guns.

On those days when I just know my brain will be almost impossible to switch off, I bring out Mullein and Sparrow lavender body oil. While I am not always a fan of lavender in beauty products there is no denying that it really does help me relax. This particular body oil is a very simple blend of sunflower oil and lavender. I apply it to damp skin straight after a shower, and it works a treat. Sunflower is one of the less expensive oils but it still has a good deal of antioxidants, is high in vitamin E, and leaves skin super soft.

From time to time I get a little behind on the work, come back home late and the routine lapses. All it takes is a couple of bad nights, and I'm back on the waggon going through these steps. I would rather give up some spontaneity than be a gremlin.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Morning after the night before

In my ripe old age of 30 I have to say that I am not a big drinker. Alcohol is pretty much a special occasion or an event type thing. I don't have a bar at home like they do on Dynasty with whisky, brandy and whatever else. Even a bottle of wine is rare thing in this house (like a once a year thing). There is one occasion however when alcohol seems to flow freely, and it's a catch up session with my girlfriend. We are talking a bottle of red between the two of us, followed by some limoncello shots. While for some people this may not be a lot, it is way more than my occasional glass of prosecco. I think you can guess where this is going, after the last catch up I had to deal with a nasty hangover. So here is a little step by step of how I deal with the aftermath of a "wild" night out.

Since I would be coming home pretty late... OK fine, just after 11pm ( it's pretty late for me nowadays, my party days are very much in the past). The point is my makeup gets removed with micellar water, or some makeup removal wipes (kept just for such occasions). This means that my skin needs some serious TLC come morning, but I'm jumping ahead of myself.

Step 1 is hydration.

It's pretty obvious that alcohol is a diuretic, so keeping hydrated is number one priority. Upon waking up I will drain the glass of water on my bedside table. However drinking plain water to rehydrate is not what it's about, as it is necessary to replace the electrolytes that were lost. While drinking sports drinks is supposed to be a good option, I wouldn't touch that stuff with a barge pole. Instead I boil the kettle, cut a few slices of fresh ginger, pop them in the cup, poor the boiled water over them and drink the infusion once it's cool enough. Ginger settles the stomach, and while at this point I'm not exactly at the stage where I feel well, I feel like I can stomach some food. I will slice up one or two tomatoes (depending on their size) and sprinkle some herbamare salt on them. The salt will replace the electrolytes, tomatoes are 94% water and are a good source of beta-carotene (which our bodies convert into vit A) and vitamin C, and as it is technically a fruit it will help with those low blood sugar levels.

After this my stomach feels like it's ready for something a little more filling.

It is important to stay hydrated through out the day, coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes, but it needs to be the raw stuff. It is not something that I always have in my fridge so if I don't, I will keep having plain water followed by something like cucumber with a sprinkling of pink Himalayan salt to replenish those electrolytes (having too much plain water quickly without the electrolytes could be potentially dangerous).

Step 2 is nourishment.

The body needs to replace everything that it lost in terms of minerals and vitamins on the daily bases,  possibly a little more when drinking has been involved. So breakfast really needs to be not only nutritious but also easy on the stomach. I always go for porridge made with coconut milk, sliced banana for it's potassium, some goji berries for the amino acids and mineral content, chia seeds for the protein and soluble fiber, bee pollen for the easily utilised protein, and a teaspoon of almond butter for the fat. Oats are also a source of minerals and soluble fiber. The portion I would make is a little smaller than my usual breakfasts as the intention is to take it a little easier on the stomach, but I also wouldn't want to be left hungry, hence why I include so many toppings.

I will also have a small glass of fresh juice, "system reboot" is my particular favourite on mornings like this. I purposefully make it a small glass as I want to replenish nutrients, but I don't want to have too much liquid too quickly.

Step 3 is taking care of  skin.

People often forget that skin is an organ, it works pretty hard, and while detoxing the body is not it's primary function, it does pick up the slack. It is a good idea to give it a helping hand. I will run a bath, not a super hot one just warm enough that I'm OK to spend about 10-15 minutes in it. I add 1/2 to 2/3 of a cup of plain Pink Himalayan salt to the water, relax and let the salty water give my skin a deep cleanse. The salt is the same I would use in the kitchen, purchased in a health food store. I don't want to mess with essential oils at this point, or use any fancy bath salts. 

After the bath I use a magnesium oil spray. Magnesium  helps with sore muscles amongst other things, and in this form it is absorbed through the skin (Epsom salt baths are another way of doing this).

Finally it is time to right the wrongs of improper face cleansing of the night before. This is one of the rare occasions when I will use a balm cleanser in the morning, removing it with a warm flannel, and follow it up with a deep cleansing mask. The mask is my own recipe:

1 teaspoon green clay (if you have very sensitive skin swap it for white clay)
1/4 teaspoon matcha
1/4 teaspoon spirulina

Mix it all together for an even mixture, before adding approximately 2 teaspoons of carrot juice (you are aiming for a thick yogurt consistency (I would normally juice half a carrot or one small one and drink whatever liquid is left over). This is enough mixture for face and neck. Leave it on for about 10 minutes and rinse off.  Any mask that I missed gets gently wiped off with a damp flannel. The green clay might leave your skin slightly flushed, this should go away within half an hour.

At this point I do not dry my face, but let it stay as is and apply a rich oil to damp skin. Holistic Green Beauty pink lotus cellular repair oil* is particularly excellent. It is a seriously nourishing cocktail that leaves my skin glowing. This oil is chock full of antioxidants and gives a good slip, allowing me time for a little massage (one of the best things you can do as part of your beauty routine).

Step 4 is movement.

While doing hard core excercise when hungover could be anti productive and potentially dangerous if it leads to further dehydration, some stretching feels incredibly good. Naturally I turn to yoga. I pretty much do everything in this video minus the head stand (I don't do those in my regular practice, so it would not be something I attempt after a "night on the town").

I will take things easy for the rest of the day, probably whilst muttering something like "I'm never drinking again", and I won't for a long time, but most likely not forever...

This post is not medical advice, just a description of my personal plan of action. Alcohol poisoning is no joke, drink responsibly if you choose to drink and use your common sence. If something is seriously wrong go to a hospital!

*PR sample kindly provided, my opinions are based on personal experience with the product and are honest. I would say scouts honour, but I've never been a scout so that wouldn't be truthful now would it?!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

New and upcoming launches #2

There is so much going on the world of green beauty lately, so many things to discover. My head is spinning a little from all the new brands popping up. Yet it seems the already established names are not sitting on their laurels either, and some exciting releases went straight to my wish list.

RMS master mixer. It seems like everyone and their grandmother is wanting a piece of this action, yet if I'm completely honest I was a little bit dubious about the master mixer. Sure it looked pretty, but how is it any different from a bunch of highleghters I already have... And then I saw this video, not only did it make me consider changing my hair colour to blue, but it made me want the master mixer so badly, that I booked myself in for a preview of the product at Content. While this baby is already available in the U.S. it will be another week or so before UK beauties can get their hands on it. The pre-order option will be available soon on the being content website.

Gressa eye tints. I am huge fan of Gressa, and their lip boosts are pure perfection, a true epitome of no fuss glamour. I can not overestimate my excitement for these new additions to the line up. Judging by the pictures the colours have a pearlescent slightly metallic finish, and the three colours are a gorgeous plum purple, copper bronze, and pale gold. These will be available at the end of February, and hopefully not too long after they will come to Amazingy who stock the rest of the Gressa range in Europe.

Mun No.7 Ayour Body toning serum. This serum has been long in anticipation, and finally became available in U.S. a few weeks ago. Boasting a combination of olive, cucumber and barbary fig oils it promises to be a serious treat for the skin. I love Mun facial serum, it is such a great product, based on that I have pretty high hopes for this serum as well. I am keeping my eye on Reina organics to see when it becomes available in Europe.

With Valentine's fast approaching there are lots of offers and limited edition sets floating about. Itha has a particularly generous 50% off on the entire range, it is for a limited time but no exact date has been given. The lip glows are a particular favourite of mine, and they now come in handy tubes as well as pots, it is a great time to try them.

A.S apothecary has released a beautiful cleansing set which includes not only the mineral powder, their newest product, but a beautiful porcelain bowl and spoon. The set looks absolutely wonderful.

Content have put together a Love collection which includes some raw chocolate, a massage oil and a Lotus Wei infinite love anointing oil (this happens to be my absolute favourite scent).

Don't forget that my discount code for Angel eyes (reviewed here) RAINBOW25 expires on 15th of February.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Clean Beauty co Workshop

 The world of beauty products is a fascinating and intriguing place, some times it seem there is nothing that a jar of some magical cream doesn't promise to fix. Despite being drawn to new products with luxurious packaging like a moth to a flame, I must admit, I do get tired of being bombarded with miracle solutions to problems I did not realise I had. Reading label after label, trying to figure out if the products ingredients are up to my personal standards can be part of the fun, or it can be a massive headache. Not surprisingly these are the times when the idea of DIY beauty is looking very appealing.

I do go through phases: being like a mad scientist, whipping up face masks, body scrubs and hair serums, to doing no DIY at all for months on end. I am not good at making complicated stuff, so most of what I do are single use recipes with an occasional oil blend here and there. Oh, but the idea of being able to whip up something glorious, well now that is something that is always at the back of my mind.

Clean Beauty Co, represented by the dynamic duo Elsie and Dominika, are on a bit of a mission to make natural beauty accessible and DIY cool. They created a range of simple, clean products, focusing on quality ingredients, and a website full of recipes for treatments you could make with things found in your kitchen. Their enthusiasm is catchy and infectious, they make it sound like anyone can create effective products in the comfort of their own home. That was certainly the feeling that I got at their special workshop launch.

This was an event for friends, family and a handful of bloggers, in a way a trial run before the first official Workshop that will take place on 6th of February. So what is this all about? Why, beauty products of course! In the down stairs section of Maple & Fitz a table was laid out with bottles full of golden oil, empty glass jars and fragrant essential oils. We all knew we were in for a treat. I must admit my own DIY setup never looks like this. After a short presentation by the girls, explaining what we will be doing, things took a sinister turn. Let me paint you a picture: a fairly large group of women wearing hair nets, aprons and rubber gloves, gathered around in the basement of a venue that is not open to the public on Saturdays... There were a few mentions of "Breaking Bad" thrown around, but jokes aside, when making products you really want them to be safe to use so it is important to have a clean environment and sterile packaging. It was reassuring to know that Elsie and Dominika take such things seriously. 

We were divided into groups of 4 and, coincidentally, making 4 products in bigger batches before separating them into appropriate packaging. To distinguish between bottles, everyone came up with names for their products and printed out labels with an old school label maker. Let me tell you, it seemed a little dubious at first, but once you get going that label maker is seriously addictive. I am very tempted to get one.

The products that we made were: fuss free body moisturiser (which we got to customise with our choice of essential oils individually), scrub life coffee scrub, nutter hair serum and rose glow toner. Everything was surprisingly easy to make, and a lot of fun doing it in a group. Products have a decent shelf life: 3 months for the toner and 6 months for everything else. 

After the potion mixing part was done we all went up to indulge in some delicious treats from Maple & Fitz. The food was out of this world, I will be making a point of going back there. We left with our hand made products and an extra goodie bag of treats. I had such an amazing time and definitely feel inspired to experiment. When I looked through the bags I realised that ladies from Clean Beauty co included the recipe cards for the products that we made with exact measurements for a single bottle/jar so I can recreate these again and again.

The workshop tickets are £50 and it includes 3 products that you make on the day, food from Maple & Fitz, and a goodie bag. Elsie and Dominika are very knowledgeable and have lots of tips and tricks when it comes to making products. You can also purchase some of the carrier oils that you use on the day, if you want to recreate the recipes at home, or do some experimenting. It is a really fun event for anyone interested in natural beauty, it will give you a glimpse behind what processes take place to create things that you use on daily bases. Who knows, it might unleash a DIY beauty queen (or king) within.