Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The Choosy Chick fun in the sun bag

I love summer, I count days until I get to wear sun dresses and shorts. Days are long, evenings are warm, I spend as much time as humanly possible outside, and of course since my skin is on show it needs protection (yes even if it's cloudy). Normally around April, I start hunting down body care products that will work for both Mr RF and I. This year I did not have to work as hard, the Choosy chick did most of it for me with their Fun in the sun bag.

 

What you get is a cute jute bag, made with recycled sari fabric, filled with full sized and travel sized goodies. There are some variations that are clearly outlined in the description of this bundle. In my bag I found following products:

 

Raw elements broad spectrum SPF 30. This sunscreen is water resistant for up to 80 minutes, a perfect companion for a beach holiday or for a day out at an outside pool. Because of this the consistency is on the thick side, I normally use an antioxidant body oil before applying sunscreen anyway, and I've noticed it does the trick for this particular one to spread easily. There are a few things that make this sunscreen stand out in my eyes. Firstly, it is stated that it is reef safe, if you read any of the articles that talk about the effects of sunscreens on marine life, reefs in particular, you might feel the same way as I do about being careful as to what you use on a beach holiday. Secondly, it is the combination of ingredients in this product that I find pretty impressive. Organic green tea, organic black tea, organic hemp seed oil, organic coffee bean, mango butter, cocoa butter, to name a few. It is like an antioxidant power house, mixed in with skin nourishing butters and of course the broad spectrum protection comes from 23% non nano zinc oxide. This product is also non gmo project verified. It seriously ticks all the boxes for me, plus Mr RF has not complained about it, and that's a huge thing since he is unusually fussy with sunscreens.

 

Raw elements Eco tint SPF 30 stick. This is almost identical to the above sunscreen but is in a stick form and has a slight tint. For the life of me I can't figure out what gives this product a tint, but it is very light. I wanted to take a picture but you can't actually see anything, it subtly evens out the skin tone if you are very fair, otherwise it is your solution if you are not a fan of white cast that most zinc based sunscreens leave behind, this one doesn't. I don't feel like I need a moisturiser under it, it is very nourishing and more than plenty for my oily summer skin. Happy to report no break outs or irritations after use.

 

Badger sport stick SPF 35. Ever since I discovered this stick, about four years ago, it has been my summer must have. This was the first natural sunscreen I was able to use on my face without my skin going haywire, it is a real shame that due to the new EU regulations it is no longer sold in UK. I believe I have reviewed this sunscreen, but it was awhile ago. I like that the ingredients list is pretty short, in addition to zinc oxide this stick is made of extra virgin olive oil, beeswax, cocoa butter, Shea butter, sunflower vitamin E. Based on this list I was originally worried that it might be too thick for me, but I guess combined with zinc it just works. My face stays matte all day long, and since I'm already pretty pale, it evens out my skin tone and I'm more than happy to roam makeup free.

 

Badger sunscreen lip balm SPF 15. This is exactly the same as the sport stick but with a lower percentage of zinc oxide. It smells exactly the same, light scent with a faint hint of chocolate, but feels a little smoother when applied. I think if you forgot your sport stick but needed to reapply sunscreen, you could easily use this on your face and ears. It does make my lips look as if I applied one of those flesh toned/nude lipsticks, the effect is not unwelcome. All in all I do like this lip balm better than other SPF lip balms I have tried. People often don't bother with SPF on the lips, but skin here is thinner than everywhere else, you do need to look after your kissers.

 

Badger balm anti-bug spray. I like to spend time by the water in the summer, and so do all the bugs. I am a favourite mosquito snack, so before an evening stroll in the park or by the river, I take precautions. I have yet to find a bug repellent spray that would smell nice. I know it's not exactly on the cards, this is definitely the least offensive I have come across. More importantly I haven't had a reaction to it, and these sort of things often irritate sensitive skin (there is a warning on the bottle saying that allergic reactions in some individuals are a possibility). It is DEET free and made with all organic ingredients. In this kit I have a travel sized bottle of 79.85ml, I'm expecting it to last all summer since I don't use it all that frequently. Happy to report no bug bites yet this summer.

 

Solavedi healing calendula day cream with EPF. EPF stands for ecological protection factor, there is some zinc in this cream, approximately 8 SPF, but it is not specified on the bottle as I am guessing it has not been tested or designed as a sunscreen type product. I am a diehard face oil fan, and it's so rare for a face cream to suit me that I can count the ones that do on one hand. This little 15ml travel sized bottle is pretty much the reason why I haven't touched a bottle of face oil for almost a month. It is so good, sinks in like a dream, I only need about a pump, and it makes my face feel super soft. My big problem with moisturisers is that most of them make my skin look blotchy and my pores appear ginormous, none of that with this beauty. Extremely tempted to get a full size, I think it has potential to become a permanent part of my collection, time will tell.

 

Buttercup & Jake cocoa calendula balm. This little dinky 0.5 oz sample sized pot is the last piece of the puzzle. This multipurpose balm for dry or irritated areas smells like white chocolate cupcakes. It's fairly warm at the moment and the consistency of this balm right now is super soft. It goes on like melted butter and absorbs really well. If it was a bigger pot, I would be tempted to use it all over as after sun. For the time being I have been using it on my elbows from time to time, and on my under arms after shaving irritated them. A very useful product to have around.

 

I am super happy with this kit, I think it is a really good selection. If it did have an after sun product I think it would go from amazing to epic, but I did have fun choosing one on my own, and the kit is called "fun in the sun" not "fun in the sun and after", so I will let it slide. I absolutely love the jute bag, and have been keeping all the products in there when not in use, just in case I need to quickly grab and go, the whole shebang easily fits into a back pack or a larger shoulder bag. I hope these kits are available next year as well, I am most definitely planning on repurchasing.

 

 

Monday, 20 July 2015

Kae shimmering oil

The sun comes out, my legs are out. It's just one of those things, when the weather is hot I practically live in my shorts. That means a lot of skin being exposed, that doesn't really get to see the light of day the rest of the year. Taking into account that I don't spend time on the sun-lounger, I am pretty pale, during the day I am also pretty liberally covered in sunscreen. I love the look of tanned skin, however self tanning products are not for me. To have a great fake tan, the first key step is to exfoliate well, second step is even application. To put it simply I fail at the first step. I do however have a trick for glowy summer skin, shimmering oil. For me it is a summer must have, and something I would not go on holiday without.

Kae beaute scintillante* is an all in one beauty oil, suitable for face, body and hair. It works to enhance your tan, or if you are like me, and have no tan to speak of, it gives your skin luminosity, a sort of soft focus effect. This oil is certified by Ecocert to be 100% natural and 56% organic. Having a quick look at the ingredients I can see that the first ingredient is the only organic one, and it happens to be argan oil, so putting two and two together I figure that this blend is 56% argan oil. Some of the other ingredients are coconut derived emollient, castor oil and castor oil derived ingredients.
Ingredients: Argania spinosa kernel oil*, coco caprylate caprate, ricinus communis seed oil, castor isostearate succinate, hydrogenated castor oil, tocopherol, parfum, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, citronellol, limonene, eugenol, linalool.

So this is not a carrier oil blend with shimmer (some ingredients are processed) and it doesn't exactly feel like one. In the bottle it looks super shimmery, and if you are not a big fan of glitter you might pass this product by, but you guessed it, it looks a lot different on the skin. The sparkling particles are super fine and are only picked up when the light hits them. I tend to use this in the evening on my body and a few drops through my hair whenever I feel like it. The oil looks lovely on my legs in the evening light, so if dining Al fresco this is what I use without fail. When having a candlelight dinner I make sure to put some on my shoulders, I know everyone likes to highlight their collarbone, but I really like the look of bronzed face, with some shimmering oil on the shoulders and a few drops of it in my hair.



These are the times when I think this oils works especially well, however I don't wait for a special occasion to use it. It feels really silky going on and spreads easily, so while it does absorb well, it is not a dry oil and I don't really need a lot to reach the desired effect. There is no stickiness or feeling like an oil slick afterwards. I have been using it a few times a week as all over body oil, and after about a month I have 2/3 of the bottle left. I have not been using face oils lately, so I have not tried it in that way yet, but I am definitely curious. Despite looking bronze in the bottle, it doesn't impart any colour, just luminosity. This is your "summer glow without a tan" in a bottle, but of course if you happen to have a tan it will make it look even better.

The scent is very light, you would need to have your nose practically next to your skin to notice it. I am struggling to describe it, it is a little on the sweet floral side and just makes me think of beach holidays. This is one of those products that you could use all year round, but you really need to have it during summer. Especially if you like to have something that will make you shine in a good way.

PR sample, as always this is my own honest opinion, the whole point of this blog is to share what's out there, good or bad. It would have no meaning without me being truthful.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Spring/summer Green beauty swap 2015

 

I love doing swaps with other bloggers. You get to pass on some of your unloved items to someone who will actually appreciate them, and get a chance to try something new and exciting in return. Green beauty swap, masterminded by lovely Ria, is a little bit different. First of all, who you get paired up with is a luck of the draw. Instead of rummaging through your stash in hopes of finding something that your swap partner will enjoy, you come up with the budget together, find out eachother's likes/dislikes, and then go shopping for presents.

 

This is the third time I have taken part and while I love getting a surprise goodie box, it is also pretty wonderful to connect with another blogger. My partner in this swap was Annmarie.

 

I just have to point out that without prior arrangement we both sent eachother cards with Echinacea on them, clearly this is some sort of sign. Annmarie had a bit of a difficult task ( when she emailed me, after having a browse of my blog, saying that it seems like I tried a fair few things, I felt a bit bad), but she was determined to find things I haven't used before. She succeeded admirably.

 

 

I haven't opened everything up as I'm trying to be sensible, but obviously some things I just couldn't resist ( would you think I lost my marbles if I said I could hear them calling my name? Joking of course, that is insane... Or is it?). The first thing that I opened was the earth works cosmetics orange and lavender body oil. Lavender is not really a scent that I consciously go for, it's not that I don't like it, but it just seems to be used a lot in natural beauty products (and it also makes me think of elderly ladies, lining their linen drawers with lavender bags). Orange and citrus scents on the other hand I absolutely adore, can't get enough of them. I have never ever used a product that combined the two as the main fragrance, I was very intrigued. I absolutely love the texture of this body oil, when it first arrived it was almost solid, but after the heat wave it is completely liquid. It feels so silky, my skin just laps it up and the scent happens to be both refreshing and soothing. The lavender is less noticeable to begin with, but comes into its own once the citrus fades, like a piquant layered perfume, but at no point is it overwhelming to the senses.

 

 

 

Next thing to be opened was bloom remedies foot balm. In all fairness I should not have opened it as I'm using up another foot balm, I just couldn't resist. I have been wanting to sample something from this brand for ages, just never got round to it. I haven't actually tried it yet, I just had a sniff and yes it smells fab.

 

 

 

Now with this next product I'm starting to think that Annmarie has some sort of psychic powers. Obviously she picked up on the fact that I like aromatherapy, that is not what is surprising, it is the scent that she chose. Clear vitality from Bloom remedies. This is a pure essential oil blend especially designed for use with an aromatherapy diffuser. As I still haven't fully joined the 21st century, that is not something that I posess. Straight away I asked Marie (aka the Bloom Remedies Magic-woman) if there were other ways to use it. She gave a few different options, one of which is to use a few drops in a bowl of hot water as steam inhalation to ward off a cold. I immediately put it in my stash for winter use. But what do you know, a few weeks later I'm coming down with sniffles, at a very inconvenient time might I add. Of course it's never good to be sick, but this was the worst timing ever. You can only imagine how crazy I looked emptying up boxes, trying to find the one that held the little bottle of what I hoped would save my behind. Thankfully I found it, and it did work like a charm. The trick of course was timing, if the dreaded cold got its full hooks into me, the blend would not have been nearly as effective.

 

The rest of the beauty products I have yet to open: fig and rouge multi purpose balm in super cute packaging, organic surge shower gel with lovely sounding scent, scented candle with a wooden wick and a sachet of body scrub are all patiently waiting their turn.

 

 

 

As Annmarie works for A Vogel she very generously sent me some of their goodies. I will be doing a separate post on those.

 

I want to say thank you again for being an amazing swap partner, and choosing things that I would have never tried otherwise but absolutely love. If you are curious to see what I got for Annmarie here is her post.

 

 

Thursday, 9 July 2015

In pursuit of perfection...

Lately I have been coming across lots of statements advising to stop chasing perfection, that it is something unattainable and only leads to misery. We should be more content, focus on the things that we have and be grateful. It is so important to be happy with what you already have, not to neglect things that already work in your life, but why should I give up on perfection? After all, everything I have, everything I am so grateful for, it did not come about because I was content with things at the time, if you are so happy with the status quo where will progress come from? Wanting to perfect things is what drives incredible inventions, the first brick of a mobile phone was groundbreaking at the time, maybe everyone should have been grateful and content with that. Rethinking perfection however, is not such a bad idea. Just like beauty, perfection is in the eyes of the beholder. It's not something that is constant, it is fluid. What seemed to me perfect ten years ago is something entirely different than what it would be now. My perfect night out used to be dancing all night, and competing with my girlfriend as to who could collect more numbers from the boys. Now it is an evening spent catching up over delicious food and a bottle of wine. To me something perfect, doesn't mean it is flawless. A string of man made pearls, that are completely identical, might look perfect to the eye, but to me this is not the kind of perfection that I am looking for. I like seeing some irregularities between the pearls, then I know they are unique and real.

 

I am not aiming to be perfect, I am not looking to achieve flawless skin, I am searching for skincare that will suit my skin perfectly, for things that fit my personality like a glove. This doesn't mean that I spend every second of every day, obsessing about having those perfect products, those perfect moments, creating perfect memories. That's just unhealthy, and like those flawless fake pearls: not real, and not for me. Sometimes (actually a lot of the times) perfection finds you when you are not looking. It could be an unexpected gift, something that you would never think of getting yourself, but it turns out to be the best thing ever. It could be an unplanned day out, or being dragged along to some place you don't want to go, and it ends up being an absolutely fabulous experience.

 

 

I was not planning on getting Lina Hanson global face serum. I thought it sounded interesting but I did not feel like I simply had to try it. In fact, I spent hours looking at ingredients list for a different product, which I ordered, and when that oil arrived, I was reading ingredients again and spotted jojoba oil, which I am sensitive to on my face, and try to avoid as much as possible (especially in something I'm planning on using daily). So while on the phone, arranging to send it back, I was asked if I wanted to get something else instead. At the time I actually genuinely needed a face oil (I know shocking, I wasn't always surrounded by bottles of beauty products), and I just said Lina Hanson, as that was the one I was sure didn't have any ingredients that did not agree with me. If you find yourself browsing beauty pages of a magazine, you will more than likely come across advice of using your skincare products on neck and chest area. I remember my mom always saying that you often can not tell a woman's age by looking at her face, but you can by looking at her neck. Yet a few years ago we were having a conversation along those lines, and she said that since everyone started using beauty products on their necklines she rarely can tell any more. Well everything I have tried to put on my neck and chest was making my skin on that area itchy and blotchy, be it body or face products. I was resigned to the fact that my décolleté would tell the true story, let the skin on my face and neck not match. Global serum came out of nowhere and sorted that for me, I can happily use it on this part of my body. I'm not sure if I found this serum or it found me, but I know perfection when it lands on my lap. This oil is a permanent part of my collection, luckily a bottle lasts ages so I don't have to repurchase too often.

 

When I saw Lotus Wei for the very first time I was very intrigued by the concept, I had great success with Neals Yard study kit that had herbal tea and aromatherapy remedies inside it, so I was curious to explore this type of products. Just to save myself a big headache of choosing, I wanted to get the mini selection, it was out of stock. I can't remember what made me choose Infinite Love, it was not the name, I remember thinking it sounded a bit like a name of a potion you would get from a fortune teller's tent. It was not because of the flower test on their website, it recommended a different mist. It could have been something as ridiculous as the fact that the label for this bottle is red (yeah I am that person that chooses a book based on the cover, don't pretend like you don't, and you know a lot of the times the outside matches the inside too). The point is, I had no idea if I would even like it, and it turned out to be not only a brilliant aromatherapy mist but also that illusive perfume I have been looking for. It smells of real flowers, has a sweetness, but is also fresh.

 

I remember finally deciding to start swapping all my makeup to natural. Of course that is when Clinique decides to release their chubby stick crayons. Oh how I wanted one, I was having internal debates with myself, I came so close to getting it. In the end I stuck to my guns, and what do you know soon enough Ilia had crayons too. I don't know what it is about this product that was making me feel like I had to have it. There was no doubt in my mind that it would be perfect, and no doubt what colour was the one for me, Karma Chameleon. And it was. It is. Perfect. I like to have a lot of options when it comes to lipstick, yet if I couldn't, this would be my one and only. I often get compliments on my choice of lip colour, but when I'm wearing Karma Chameleon, I get more than ever. Corals suit me, they work with my complexion and make my blue eyes pop, this particular shade does it better than others. Even if my lips are a bit on the dry side, and I can't find a lip balm for the life of me, it works without it. A little bit of the colour lingers after a meal, so when I don't get a chance to a reapply, my lips have a touch of coral tint. You think it doesn't get better, but it does, it looks beautiful on cheeks too.

 

I feel like ever since I have decided to give up those weekly visits to a department store makeup counters, I have been searching for that perfect gold powder. Not that it was easy to find there, but I did, and then I had to give it up. There is gold, and than there is gold that works for me. It has to have a glow, a pearlescent sheen, it can't be glittery, it can't be overly pale or too yellow. It has to be something I can use as an eyeshadow and as a highlighter. You see, I don't want much. One of my birthday presents from my parents was Alima pearluster eyeshadow in Camel (they might have been given a nudge in the right direction by yours truly). It is not that perfect gold I was searching for, yet it is a perfect caramel bronze that I didn't know I was missing. It looks so unbelievably good that I even forget that I hate loose powder (Alima is one of very few brands that does that for me). Rest assured this is not the last mention of it on this blog.

 

I like to have a representation of each type of cleanser on my bathroom shelf. A cream, an oil, a clay based powder, lightly foaming gel and a balm. They all serve different purposes and which one I will use depends on weather, how my skin is and time of day. I have to say that balms are generally my least favourite type. I don't like using face cloths, hate having them hanging around as they are drying after each use (I guess if we had more space it wouldn't be an issue), and it took me forever to come across the ones that wouldn't irritate my skin (most muslin cloths are far to abrasive for me). I mostly use balm cleansers in the shower, I give myself a quick face massage with a small amount of balm prior to jumping in, and then let it protect my skin from hot water while I'm washing my hair. I had a balm that I really liked and was planning on repurchasing (I still might at some point). So why did you see De Mamiel botaniques restorative cleansing balm in the photo above? Because I was curious. I adore De Mamiel seasonal oils, in particular the summer blend. When Botaniques range was released I couldn't afford to get everything, so I bought the Cleanse and Exfoliate. When I had a bit more cash I added this balm to my collection. And it set there unopened, for ages. I did open it of course, and it blew me away, no other cleansing balm compares to this. This is the one that made me not want to try anymore. I cannot stress how rare that is. You see for me skincare is like dating. Sometimes you go on a date and within the first hour you know it isn't going to work. Other times you need to have a few more to see where it is going. Occasionally you have it good, and even though you are not sure if it is ideal, it works and feels safe, and well better than not having anything at all. Yet once in a blue moon it's like that mythical unicorn, love at first sight, when every fibre of your being screams that it is for you, and you just know that this is it, your holy grail.

 

 

I am most definitely never giving up on pursuing perfection, to me it is part of feeling alive. When I don't find it or achieve it, I don't feel defeated because of it. It is about the journey. I set the bar high, for my beauty products and for everything I do. It's something to aim for. When you don't get perfection, you either move on to something else or try harder. Perfection, like so many other things, is subjective, but that doesn't make it unattainable, just unique to each individual. Maybe overall perfection is impossible, but there are plenty of little things that are perfect. Like when the bath water is just right, watching the sunset with someone that you love, and yes that lipstick that brings out your eyes.

 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

LNLO 2015: highlights

X

 

I have been looking forward to Love Natural Love Organic (and the sister shows) for ages. I had a plan of action all figured out, and for the first hour I even managed to follow it. As soon as Amber made it to the show, however, method gave way to madness and we just wondered around stopping whenever something caught our eye, or we remembered a stall we wanted to visit. While not very efficient, it was a hell lot of fun, and we also met up with Katie and Ailish later in the day to wonder together and share our best finds. That ment some of the stalls were visited several time, while we never made it to others.

 

For me the day started at the Organisers office, where I was given a press pack (which I'm still going through, lots of interesting information in there) and names of a few brands that wanted to have a chat with bloggers. My next port of call were two neighbouring stalls: Bathing Beauty and Bloom remedies.

 

 

 

I finally got a chance to play with Bloom remedies vast array of products, while Marie did not bring the whole range, there were still a fair few things. I was very excited to smell her three signature scents for the body care range, and it turns out I am a huge fan of Serenity Slumber, I originally thought that I would be all about Clear vitality ( that is also very good of course, I guess I just need a bit more relaxation at this point). I was so pleased that Bloom Remedies won the overall best product FreeFrom skincare award for the men's moisturiser ( just for the record, ladies that have combo/oily skin and are partial to a more masculine scent, there is nothing to stop you from using this, I asked and it is just as suitable for the ladies). I also made a note of the toner for the future, I have no idea why I didn't take the advantage of the show discount (oh wait I remember, I'm trying to cut down on my toner stash, what bad timing).

 

Bathing beauty was showing off new, artsy packaging and the latest addition to the range, makeup brushes. Those brushes are simply fabulous. As soon as George did that pressure trick with an eye brush on the tip of my finger, I knew they would soon be mine (what do you know, I resisted for a whole of two hours before getting them, and I completely blame peer pressure). Rest assured I will be talking about these brushes and some other Bathing Beauty goodies much more thoroughly in the near future.

 

 

Terre Verdi, one of the brands I keep promising a review for (honestly there must have been a hex on my laptops) has picked up a silver for their Yoga body oil. I also learned that Alessandra has just been certified by Cosmos, so you can expect some packaging changes in the next few months.

Itha, my latest obsession, had a buy one get one free offer, so I added two more colours to the previous PR samples. The post with all the colours is coming, promise.

 

 

Amber and I also came across a super cute stall Wood-Knit-Bee. They had beeswax candles, soaps and skin balm. I have been looking for beeswax candles for ever! They have a lovely mild honey scent when they burn. As I'm impossibly terrible at these shows, I did not grab a candle, but I will make use of their website.

 

 

The favourite new brand find has to be Savon Stories. They had such an incredible display, and the scents of the soaps are fantastic. The fact that soap making tradition has been passed down through generations is making me feel like we are not only getting a lovely product, but are allowed to be part of a beautiful heritage as well.

 

It was pretty exciting to come across a brand that was launching on the day, The Organic Balm co (their website doesn't seem to be up just yet). I was particularly intrigued by the fact that they used hemp seed oil in all of their products. Not an oil I see often but it is a great one for balancing skin. We also came across a new online shopping destination for natural and organic skincare, however I misplaced the leaflet and I can't remember the name (argh I know it's here somewhere, will tweet about it as soon as I find it).

 

 

On the food side we missed a good 70% of what was out there but the stalls that left an impression were: coconut merchant with their coconut jam and lots of coconut related products , chi coconut water is the best I have tried that is out of the bottle, InSpiral have a new range of kale chips and coconut bites, Anandas marshmallows and wagon wheels are vegan, gluten free and delicious with it.

 

On the beauty side I only purchased the Bathing Beauty brushes and Itha lip glaze. I still left with a whole lot of products that were generously given for a review.

 

 

 

When it came to food I simply had to have those marshmallows, wagon wheels and chi coconut water. The coconut merchant goodies were kindly given.

 

 

 

In the press pack along with lots of info on brands I found lots of food goodies, and I am especially looking forward to trying Rebel Kitchen.

 

All in all it was a fun day out, although a little hectic. It was so good to catch up with the girls and get their opinions on what's exciting in the green beauty world. I left completely bit but also pretty stoked. Did I mention my new brushes? Those are rather spectacular.

 

Massive shout out to the girls, it would not have been nearly as fun without you!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Instructions for a heatwave


This was in no way a planned post, but as I am sitting here in my pants, furiously waving my old school fan to keep myself cool (my electric travel fan has gone mia, and yes I know technically the effort of fanning oneself technically makes you hotter not cooler because of the heart produced by performing a physical activity, but it's mind over matter type situation). I simply can not focus on anything else but the heat.

Don't get me wrong as much as I love to complain about the weather (I mean what self respecting British person doesn't?), I actually like it when it's hot. That doesn't mean I always handle it well, I find it hard to focus, my brain refuses to be task oriented and if I am lucky to have time off, I know it is simply pointless to force myself to finish projects. I end up having to redo everything anyway, so I might as well relax.

Clearly it is not just me who can't handle the heat, my back up laptop has given up the ghost in a rather spectacular manner, with white smoke and everything. I'm taking it as a sign that I'm cursed, just joking, I decided to take a few days for myself and suspend my previous blog schedule until next week. It was either that or succumb to despair. Frankly I'm in far too good a place for despair, but I could do with some pampering and book reading.


The biggest obstacle for me is that when it's hot I loose my appetite, the only thing I crave is watermelon. Obviously watermelons are awesome as 92% is water, keeping you hydrated. The lycopene content helps your skin boost the UV-defense properties that work together with your sunscreen. Watermelon reduces water retention and cools the body. It also happens to be a source of iron. Regardless of all the watermelon powers, it is simply not enough to nourish ones body if that is the only thing that you eat (and as always too much of a good thing becomes bad). Luckily I have been sent Ambronite* to try and it arrived right at the start of the heatwave. This is a drinkable supermeal, made with organic real-food ingredients and while I'm not quite ready for a proper review, this has proven a lifesaver in this weather.

I love my herbal and green teas, and yes I'm still drinking some of them hot (hot drinks keep you cooler under certain conditions, check this article by smithsonian), but I am also using them in slightly different way. When I have time, I make a fresh mint infusion in a caffeterier, freeze the liquid in an ice cube tray, and than just pop a few cubes in a glass of water whenever I fancy a refreshing drink. When it comes to chamomile, I have these convenient bags from tea pigs, so I just infuse it in a large cup, and again freeze it in an ice cube tray. These cubes, however, I use on my skin. After washing my face, I use it instead of a toner (I also like to use one on the neck and décolletage). Chamomile soothes my skin that, the cold from the ice cube helps with any puffiness and generally feels refreshing after a hot day.


Generally my skincare routine has not really changed, I have stopped using face oils until the heatwave passes, and just use sunscreen after spraying liberally with May Lindstrom Jasmine Garden. I also spray myself with it last thing at night. When it comes to body care, I decided to take a leaf out of May's book, and skip the towels. Straight after a shower, on fairly wet skin, I have been using Laurel whole plant organics Sun: before and after body oil. This is a seasonal product only available during the summer months. It is an amazing cocktail of antioxidant oils, that help with boosting your sunscreen and repairing some of the damage after sun exposure (obviously this is not a magic cure, it doesn't mean that just because you use this you can fry in the sun all day long and everything will be dandy, it really won't).

To cool down when I'm at home I have been using Deep Steep passion fruit-guava body mist. I love the product, but really not a fan of the scent. Made a major snaffoo when choosing it, it reminds me of Fa fruity soap (Anyone remember those deos? Do they still exist?) that I was fond of in my early teenage years. I will repurchase in a different version, as I love how fresh it makes my skin feel, just wish I could have a sniff in a store before I do...

As luck would have it, I ran out of the only deodorant that actually works well for me when it's hot, and it will be another week until it gets here since I realised it too late. That means I was forced to rummage through my stash, and what do you know, I fished out body Brana sensitive skin deo. They make it in two versions summer and winter, the difference is how hard the formula is, not how well it protects you from becoming pongy. Being true to myself, I forgot to specify that I need a winter version, and I'm sort of stuck with the summer one. Hence why it didn't really get any use, as the only time this is usable is when my coconut oil is completely liquid. Well it happens to be this week, and it has been happily traveling with me to work and having a great steam room experience in my locker, without breaking a sweat (see what I did there? Now you know why I simply can't write an adult post right now).


Outside, my BKR bottle has become my best friend, I really don't want to be drinking from your standard water bottles, which leach plastic into your water when they get hot from the sun. My jean shorts, that I have been wearing every day (obviously not during the work hours, but as soon as my shift is over I'm in them faster than Superman), and my massive sunglasses have become a sort of heatwave uniform of choice. I have also been bringing tatcha blotting papers everywhere with me in case my face gets oily. What is great about them is they will only absorb oil, leaving your moisture levels intact as well as whatever products you have on your face undisturbed. Ooh La Lara hair bands are in constant use. My hair is super long at the moment, and these have been amazing at keeping it on top of my head in a messy bun (hair style that is hands down the winner this week), without falling apart or damaging my hair.

As I can't really wind down without doing something I have been listening to my iPod (often to Summer Jam by the underdog project on repeat), or reading. It seemed appropriate to start a book by Maggie O'Farrell "Instructions for a Heatwave". Not my usual choice of sci-fi or fantasy, there are no dragons or unicorns in this as far as I can tell, but I like to do that from time to time, read something completely different to widen my horizons.

London might not be the nicest place to be during a heatwave, unless you manage to snag yourself a nice spot in the park. But it is where I am, and I am loving every minute.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

May Lindstrom at Content



I often feel very grateful for the fact that I live in London (well occasionally I do wish I lived on a coast in South of France, you know grass is always greener and all that), on this particular Saturday, there was no other city I wanted to be. Central London was extremely busy as there was a very festive London pride parade taking place, I and several other green beauty enthusiasts however were tucked away in a quieter Bulstrode street, for a much more intimate affair. Content beauty and wellbeing had a very special guest, May Lindstrom.

In my eagerness and desire to snag a good spot, I arrived seriously early, which gave me time to have a look at some newly arrived goodies from other brands, and witness Imelda setting the scene with gorgeous empty bottles from the line filled with flowers and mood uplifting crystals. May had some seriously bad luck while travelling, starting with witnessing Paris taxi riots and severe delays when coming from Italy. She arrived a little late with all her luggage in tow, looking absolutely glowing, if I did not see it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that she came straight from the airport.


To begin with, May started talking about her line and how she uses it. She is very animated when she talks, with some hand waving involved, immediately it was obvious that all the pretty crystals weren't going to last very long. Here I am looking at one of the most graceful put together women I have come across, placing the pretty decorations to one side, while saying that she is not very graceful. I immediately felt a lot of respect for how sure of herself she was, it was not said in any away of false modesty or self criticism, just stated as a matter of fact, that if things were going to stay how they are, those items would just get knocked down and it is best to find another place for them.

The first product that she spoke about was Honey Mud. This is her chosen cleanser for the everyday and one that doubles up as a mask. May also suggests using it in the shower (this happens to be my favourite way of using it) to protect your skin from hot water, the steam and moisture in the bathroom will also activate honey in the mask as it is a humectant, and you will get an even more therapeutic effect from the mask. As the rest of her line, this product was designed to delight your senses and make you feel pampered, as well as making your skin look and feel wonderful. May confesses to selfishly designing the range for herself. She has always had very sensitive and reactive skin, to the point that while shopping and brushing up against different fabrics while in the store, she is likely to come away covered in rash like blisters because of the dyes and protective chemicals used on the clothes. All the products therefore have been made to help her skin find its healthy optimum and calm it down after being exposed to the elements.

Clean dirt she uses about three times a week in the shower to give her skin a really deep clean. How often you can use it really would depend on how tolerant your skin is, some people can use it everyday, for others it is a once a week type of affair. There is a way to make Clean dirt a little gentler and that is mixing it with coconut oil prior to applying (a little coconut oil, tea spoon of clean dirt and a drop of water all mixed together). Jumping on ahead towards the end of the evening, when everyone was a having a more informal discussion with May, you could mix clean dirt with any oil that works for you if you have a coconut oil sensitivity. Also mixing it with blue cocoon makes a lovely spa like treat.



Next stop is The Problem solver. I get the impression that this is May's favourite product, she gets so excited when talking about it. It was put together on the premises that inflamed skin needs cooling, and the heat in the spices will provide a cooling effect. This is very counter intuitive and May gives an example of hot countries where people eat spicy food to help their bodies keep themselves cool. How much heat from the mask you will experience will vary greatly from person to person, and even on the way your skin is feeling at the time. May finds she feels most heat when her skin is stressed, and when it is looking good the effect is not as strong. The mask was designed to work in stages, it starts of neutral, gets hotter and hotter, and then back to neutral. You are meant to keep it on for some time, however, even if you wash it off after 5 minutes once you started to feel the heat, it already did some of the good it was created for, you just won't get the full effect (it does provide you with more options, as it means you can use it even if you are in a rush). May also likes to mix honey mud and problem solver together for a more moisturising mask.

Moving on to the Youth Dew. May feels that moisturising is the most important part of a routine, this oil has been created to sort of do it all. It has Coq10 that has been scientifically proven to fight wrinkles, and while this fact and the name of the product may lead you to believe that the product is for mature skin, it is actually really good for acne prone skin too. The bright orange colour is thanks to sea buckthorn that is rich in beta carotene, your natural sun protection booster.

Blue cocoon is the second moisturising product in the line, specifically made to calm skin and your senses. May mentions that when her daughter gets particularly overexcited, she reaches for the jar of Blue cocoon and the scent immediately calms her down. While it is described as a balm, it doesn't actually have any waxes which is normally what makes a balm, mix of oils and waxes. Blue cocoon is more of a solid oil for oily skin (I feel like I can make a suggestion with a description here, this product is effectively a face butter). She also uses it is as an eye cream. May often combines Youth Dew and blue cocoon together, using blue cocoon around the eyes and mouth and Youth dew on the rest of her face. While she openly acknowledges that this product is expensive, if used sparingly it can last a long time, she even gives examples of clients who buy a jar to share between six people (I can only imagine what sort of fight there is over who gets to keep the pretty jar). May herself on the other hand is quiet liberal in her application of this blue goodness, she admits to spreading it thicker than anyone she knows, I guess it is an advantage when you can make some more as soon as you run out.

Next on the agenda is the Jasmine garden. This is a product that May did not want to make. She was quoted in several interviews saying that she does not believe there is a need for a toner, and despite customer enquiries she did not want to make a product that she felt would be a waste of their money. When a bespoke client had approached her asking for a jasmine toner, May tried to send her away giving her a recipe for apple cider vinegar toner that could be made at home, saying that it would be a much better option. Even the idea of Jasmine was not appealing, bringing up images of very mature ladies. However when the client kept insisting, May resolved to make the best toner she could. Her issue with other toners that she tried has been that they felt sticky and like they did not absorb into the skin. Jasmine gardens does not leave any residue and is very hydrating. Since May tries all her creations on herself first, after sending the mist to the client, she soon realised that she missed it and simply had to add it to the line. Colloidal silver is on of the ingredients in the toner, it is not used here as a preservative, but for the effects that it has on the skin. The formula of Jasmine gardens does not require a preservative to last, but in spite of possible controversy May included colloidal silver as she felt that the product would not be as good without it. Now it is one of the products that she constantly carries in her bag, especially when travelling, constantly spritzing throughout the day.

The Good stuff was the last product to be spoken about, yet it was the very first one created for the line. Body is the largest area of skin and May wants to have beautiful skin everywhere not just on the face. There is a tendency to concentrate primarily on the face and sort of let everything else fend for itself. The Good stuff is here to make you want to change that. It is a gorgeous shimmery indulgence that both looks and smells fantastic. The scent has proven to be rather popular with the men, leading many of May's customers reserving this oil for special occasions, and almost signalling their partners that they are ready for a romantic night. But everyday should be special, and if used how it was designed it will last you a fair amount of time. May does not use towels on herself, calling them harbingers of bacteria (I remember reading somewhere that she would wrap her hair in an old t-shirt instead of a towel too), and her oils are meant to be applied to wet skin anyway. A few pumps of Good stuff applied this way is all that you need for your entire body. This helps the oils absorb better and would not leave your skin looking glittery. Applied on dry skin on the other hand you will use a lot of product and it will sit on top of the skin not absorbing properly, quiet possibly damaging your clothes, so doubly wasteful. May also likes to run a few drops through her while it is wet to help define her curls, and a little less on dry hair to help with fly aways. This oil also works as a hair treatment especially used overnight, it will make not so fresh hair smell pleasant while you sleep, and when you wash it out in the morning, you will be left with bouncy locks. The quality of the oils in the good stuff is just as good as the ones found in the youth dew, there is no compromise as your skin deserves it the best be it your legs or your face. Some of May customers use it the body oil on their face, her attitude is do what works for your skin.

Before letting us all ask questions May said a few words about the brush and the handmade bowl that are also part of the range. The bowl is gorgeous and has a 24c gold dandelion design inside, intentionally, so you can see gold coming through when mixing your mask. This is all part of having a skincare ritual that is enjoyable, and something that you would look forward to. The brush is made with special synthetic bristles that are naturally antibacterial so nothing will grow in your brush between uses. These are the sort of things you don't know that you need until you tried them, and then you wonder how you did without them.

My very first question was about I am love and if it will be making it into the permanent line, to cut a long story short the answer is not likely. May does not want to have unnecessary products in the line as Youth Dew already does everything, I am love was meant to be an indulgent romantic treat and that is how it will stay for the foreseeable future.

Discussion turned to how May sources her ingredients (I was thinking to myself: why did I not ask that question?). May is not a grower, she admits to killing house plants (boy can I relate, poor cactus is the only thing that seems to survive under my care). While they make colloidal silver in the studio, all the plant ingredients come from elsewhere. She has several people that she works with that are effectively middle man between herself and the farmers. Some of the farms are very remote and it is simply impossible for her to visit them all personally, so there is a great deal of trust involved. May does have very high standards for quality, there for it is not uncommon for her to get a phone call saying this crop will not meet your standards, the other one does but you will only get a tenth of what you ordered. Sometimes the best ingredients come from a small farm that can not afford organic certification, but if it is the best quality, that is what May will purchase. Due to how unpredictable farming can be, and even political situations (for the past year May could not get any ingredients from Africa), she does change suppliers quiet often but not the people who act in between. One of the members of May Lindstrom team is completely dedicated to ensuring that they are always well stocked no matter what the situation is. Interestingly two of products from the original line-up came to market with slightly different ingredients to the ones May envisioned, due to the fact that she could not trust her suppliers to deliver consistently. The youth dew was supposed to be based on barbary fig seed oil, and the good stuff was meant to be argan based.

When it comes to creating new products it is all about what is already out there, whether or not May thinks she can come up with something that would top that, and how well it fits with the overall idea of indulgent ritual. That gives you the reason of why there is no foaming cleanser in her line, because she can't beat the one that is currently the best in this category, and doesn't feel like there is any point in releasing something that would be either below or on the same level.

May rarely buys beauty products, if she needs something she just makes it. She does not make her own shampoo and conditioner though, her favourites are from Rahua or Yarok (both liked equally). In the shower May likes to use Korean scrubbing gloves without any soap or shower gel, on a few occasions when she feels like those are not enough she will use Dr Bronner's soap. When it comes to SPF, partly due to the fact that she spends most of her time in the studio, partly because she has not been able to find one that completely agrees with her skin, it is not something that she wears daily. On those occasions that she is out all day, Badger is the brand of choice, this is also what the rest of her family uses.

Of course I could not help myself and ask what makeup May was wearing on the day. To cover some redness around her nose she used alima pure powder, on the eyes just rms solar, no mascara since her eyes get extremely sensitive, on the lips Lover's choice from Kjaer weis, on the cheeks a little of the lip colour plus vapour organic beauty aura multi use blush in spark. The finished effect looked incredible, a touch of radiance, without making the make up look like a mask.



I found the whole evening an incredible insight into what makes this line what it is. In some ways May Lindstrom herself is the line, you can't help but fall in love with the creator. You can see that these products are her dreams coming true, from the packaging to what goes in to every jar. For a person who is so incredibly busy she was still encouraging everyone to send her an email if they needed any advice about the products. If you ever end up ordering from her website directly, you will be getting a hand written note from her, even though she now has a team of people. While it might be awhile until any new product joins the line up of the magnificent seven, you can look forward to mini sizes of some of the products in the near future. I also have a suspicion, if everyone writes an email asking May to add a deodorant to her line, it might actually happen. She has been considering the possibility, but is a little reluctant, as she is not convinced that it would fit into the idea of a pampering self care ritual. I honestly think that deodorant cased inside one of those beautiful jars or bottles would fit right in. Nothing makes me feel more confident than knowing that I smell good, and part of a beauty ritual is to give me that feeling of being confident in my own skin. So if your thoughts are along the same lines as mine, start writing those emails.