Monday, 27 March 2017

Niki Groom Makers 4 Refugees Auction

I don't usually share artwork by other artists on this blog, but I have a pretty good reason to break the status quo. Niki Groom, who happens to be one of my favourite illustrators, is auctioning some of her artwork every evening this week as part of the Makers 4 Refugees project. All the proceeds are going to Help Refugees UK. The project has currently raised 5000 with the target being 10000.

Quiet a few years ago, I happened to attend one of the workshops run by Niki, this was one of the turning points for me personally as I realised that illustration was something that I would like to pursue. Her work is absolutely incredible, and I can bear witness to the fact that she can create some fantastic pieces in a very short time. However, her Kenzo painting took a full 3 weeks to complete. The original artwork is all done by hand, and resulting prints are giclee. Every auctioned item will come with a hand wrapped parcel that will include some of Niki's greeting cards, packaged in materials from her personal collection, including some of her favourite pieces of paper, beautiful stamps, and a hand drawn greeting tag. You will be receiving something truly special.

The auction will take place on Instagram every evening at 8pm, starting today (in a matter of hours) with a one-off A4 Kenzo (artists proof) and a hand wrapped parcel. Each day you will be able to bid for a different piece of artwork and Sunday will conclude with a one to one 2 hour art lesson with Niki in Bristol and a hand wrapped parcel.

There has been a lot of ups and downs in the past year, and it can leave us pretty helpless. Makers 4 Refugees is such a heartwarming project, and if you happen to make the winning bid at the auction, you will be a proud owner of some truly meaningful artwork.

 *all the photos courtesy of Niki Groom.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lightly stepping into Spring

There used to be a time when the beginning of a new season meant a complete wardrobe overhaul (accompanied by an unsurprising "I'm so broke" period shortly after). Whether or not you fancy yourself as a fashionista, clothes have their own language. No matter how many times we say things like "don't judge a book by its cover," it happens, even if it is just on a subconscious level, and it isn't always a bad thing. A cocktail dress will tell you that someone is doing something special in the evening, shirts and formal trousers in the mornings are a pretty good indication of the office crowd, you can see people who would rather blend in, who wants to stand out and those who always prioritise comfort no matter what the occasion. For the most part, clothes we choose are an extension of our personalities.

There is one other statement our garments make, and in the case of mainstream fashion (designer or hightsreet), this time it is not a message that most people would want to convey. Fashion industry has a very ugly side, from the way the cloth is produced to the way the clothes are manufactured, and even to what happens with them after the wearers have moved on to trendier outfits. Whether or not you agree with the message, choosing clothes that are made a certain way, you become a walking billboard of the brands you wear. On occasion, when out and about, strangers would complement my outfit and ask where I got a particular item. When complementing others, they would often volunteer the name of the brand their clothes are from. You can not underestimate the power of subtle influence like that.

Nowadays I am lot more choosy when it comes to clothes. First of all I am very aware of how much space there is in my wardrobe (or lack thereof to be more precise). So any new item has to be compatible with what I already have (often it will be a replacement for something similar that is worn out) and I also have to really love it. As you can imagine, easy to mix and match basics are what I get most.

The transitional seasons are probably the most awkward. As we are changing from winter to spring, picking an outfit can be tricky not only from an aesthetic point of view, but actually just getting it right to fit with the weather. Mornings and evening tend to be pretty cold, but during the day, especially if the sun has decided to grace us with its presence, it gets a lot warmer, so you are always at risk of either freezing or turning into a sweaty mess mid-day. It is no groundbreaking news to mention that the obvious solution to this particular dilemma is layering, we all know this, yet it still can be a bit of a mission finding the clothes that match the criteria.

Leave Nothing But Footprints is a Canadian brand based in Toronto, who's focus is on flattering, timeless silhouettes in combination with environmentally conscious fabrics that use fewer chemicals and less water to manufacture than synthetics and conventional cotton. I don't normally pay too much attention to the name of the brand, what they do is much more important rather than how cool or catchy it sounds, but seeing  "Leave Nothing But Footprints" on a label did make me ponder a few philosophical questions, and I really appreciate things like that.

Brenda U neck Tee*. If you have a closer look at my wardrobe, the number of t-shirts I have is far greater than any other type of clothes. There are some weeks where I will wear the same jeans but change my t-shirt every day (cut and colour of which will entirely depend on my mood). To be 100% honest, my favourite t-shirts are actually grey. The reason is simple: they match with a lot of different colour shirts, cardigans, and bottoms; they wash a lot better than whites, and if you need to pack light for travelling, they don't get grubby as easily as most other colours. I do have a long body, so finding a good length t-shirt is somewhat of struggle. LNBF tee is not only a nice length but is purposefully a little bit longer at the back for extra coverage, making it really flattering from every angle. The fabric is 95% bamboo viscose with 5% spandex, it feels so lightweight and ridiculously soft (the first day I wore it, I kept asking Mr RF to touch my t-shirt just to confirm how soft it was), I don't think I have any others that feel as nice.

Pauline cardigan*. When it comes to layering, cardigans are kings. This particular one has what I refer to as "waterfall" feature at the front. Personally I think this type of piece is a must for a capsule wardrobe. It is so easy to style up or down, and I practically live in it on weekends. I am that sort of awkward person that likes to look stylish even if I am just going to a pond to look at ducks (whether I succeed or not that is another question entirely, but the point is that is my intention). However, that does not mean I would sacrifice comfort. Even in evening wear I have to have both (yeah I don't want a lot, only for clothes to look really good, be comfortable, ethical and eco friendly, easy right?!). I simply love this cardy, it looks so flattering on, super easy to layer with t-shirts or long sleeved tops. As the fabric isn't heavy, having a jacket on top doesn't restrict movement and it even has pockets! I don't know what my obsession with pockets is, but when dresses and cardigans (especially the longer ones) have them, it makes me really happy.

Abby denim legging*. Finding a pair of jeans that fits nicely can be a bit of a nightmare, I don't think I am the only person that struggles?! My behind is not particularly flat, so  many styles either won't button up in the right size, while a size up will leave a huge gap at the back, or if by some miracle everything looks fine when standing, once it is the time to sit down, not much is left to the imagination. Jeggings are a life saver for me, they look like jeans minus all the awkward and frankly embarrassing side effects. These particular denim leggings caught my eye because of the really cool pin tuck detail at the thigh. It makes them really stand out and it fits my personal style to a t. They look really nice on and I do get a lot of complements when I wear them. I would have loved it if they had back pockets as well  the front ones (or even instead of).  I think that would have made them look even more flattering.  At the hem they have a side slit feature, giving you some interesting options to play with  when it comes to footwear.

I find that my favourite clothes tend to work in different seasons, and this is the case with all of the above LNBF pieces. Weather in London tends to be fickle, and even in summer there are many days that need boots and a cardigan rather than shorts and sandals. I will not be packing any of these away even after this transitional period is over.

If you are currently  looking to update your wardrobe and also want to Leave Nothing But Footprints, I have a 20% off Discount Code for my readers: TAMARA20. It is valid until 22/03/17 EST. It is valid on all online LNBF orders, but cannot be combined with any other offers.

*PR sample, as always all of the above is my honest opinion, based on personal experience with the clothes. I chose all the pieces and wouldn't write about them if I wasn't prepared to part with my own money to get them. Just to clarify, I am not getting any commission if you use the above discount code.

Friday, 16 December 2016

Mallow beauty.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. What is this fascination with beauty products all about? Because let's face it, it was there long before I became interested in mindful living, and long before the words "green" and "organic"  started to be part of my vocabulary, infused with special meaning. It could have been my subconscious that led me here, having had to deal with some seriously bad rashes as a kid, and acne when I was older. When your skin goes through ups and downs it is only natural to want to look after it, and it really does go beyond vanity and looking good. Yet this is still only part of the story, there was a time when I was more interested in individual products, and if the rest of the brand wasn't as clean, I didn't really care (as long as what I was using fit my ingredient standards). I still look at all the products individually, and I think it is a good model, however, what the brand stands for overall, has become increasingly more important, especially since my skin is no longer as problematic. I now have the luxury of choosing from a range of things that work, instead of sticking to that one cream that doesn't aggravate my skin.

Choice is really what it comes down to. Without realising it, especially if you tend to be pretty loyal to beauty products, you are inviting certain skincare products to be part of your life. You are applying them morning and evening, often in a rush, hoping for a particular outcome, sticking to the products if they achieve it and moving on to something else when they don't. What is it in the products that makes them work? Why do some blends seem to be akin to magic potions transforming our skin and others have no effect or even make things worse? If this question is asked of a natural or organic brand, the answer is somewhat obvious, it is all about the plants.

It is a rare brand indeed that can boast to be certified organic and to use plants grown on their own farm in their formulations. Herbfarmacy isn't just focused on botanical skincare, plants are the heart and soul here. After visiting their farm this summer and witnessing the making of Mallow beauty balm*, it brought a few things into perspective. The whole point of organic beauty is the quality of the plants and their properties. The plants are not going to have much to offer without healthy soil, so while picking up a pot of cream we might think "skincare and formulators", we really should be thinking "farming practises and formulators". There really are a lot of parallels between food and skincare. The best restaurants have not only talented chefs, they also make sure that the produce that they work with is of the highest quality. Similarly, the best skincare is not simply about the inventive formulations, it is about the quality of the plants, and all of it goes back to healthy soil.

Herbfarmacy farm is gorgeous, especially since when I visited everything seemed to be in bloom: marshmallow, mullein, calendula, echinacea, and chamomile, all contributing to a spectacular landscape. Yet none of it would be the same without Paul Richards, who's love for plants is evident every time I talk to him. It is clear that plants and their properties is what he is taken by, and I think this is why Herbfarmacy is so special. While you will find some essential oils on the ingredients lists, the plants grown on the farm are actually used as macerates and extracts. Most of the flowers, once picked (with calendula, each flower head is picked by hand), are dried, and then these flowers will go through a process of maceration, where they will infuse particular oils, before being used in final formulations. As you can imagine, this is a long process from farm to skin. The result is products that really put "care" in "skincare" (yeah, I had to go there).

About 40 minutes away from the farm, in Malvern, there is a place called Pure Hair Design. This is not simply a natural hairdressers, upstairs there is a treatment room and they offer organic facials using Herbfarmacy products. The therapist referred to Mallow beauty balm* as "skin food", and it was the true star of the facial. She used it as a first step cleanser and a nourishing mask, also employing a lymphatic drainage technique using brushes, somewhere in the course of the facial. The whole experience of having these gorgeous products used in a facial made me truly appreciate the delicate scents, and how soothing the formulations are on the skin. Mallow balm* not only smells like flower nectar, the star ingredients, marshmallow root and mullein, have fantastic skincare properties. Marshmallow holds and attracts moisture to the surface of the skin, and mullein has antiseptic properties and helps with redness, making this balm my personal winter favourite (to be perfectly honest, since it is a multipurpose product, I tend to use it all year round, but during colder months I reach for it more often).

The 30ml pot of Mallow beauty balm* is like a super hero, even if all you have is this balm, muslin cloth and access to warm water, you can still have a pretty fab nourishing pamper session. Use it to cleanse your face, like you would any other balm cleanser, taking time to massage the skin and removing it with a warm damp cloth. Follow by a generous layer of the balm, applied like a mask, place a hot cloth on top to deepen the effects, leave on for 10 minutes. After removing it all, you can apply a tiny amount to damp skin to seal in the moisture. It really is that versatile, the key is in how much and what way you are applying it.

This year Herbfarmacy is celebrating a pretty big anniversary, 10 years! Since it is such a momentous occasion and the holiday season is upon us, we have teamed up to give away 10 pots of Mallow Beauty Balm. Yep you got that right, there will be 10 winners. I decided to split it up a little, I will choose 5 winners from people who enter here on the blog, and 5 winners from Instagram entries. You are welcome to enter both here and on Instagram, I will make sure to choose 10 different people so no one walks away with 2 pots, but this way you double your chances. The giveaway is UK only, it will close on 31st of December 2016. Winners will be announced on 2 of January 2017.

Herbfarmacy Mallow Beauty Balm Giveaway

*PR sample. The Mallow Beauty Balms for the prizes have been generously provided by Herbfarmacy. The writing is my own based on the experince with the product, I have been using Mallow Balm on and off for several years, while the latest jar I have was given to me on the trip, I have bought my own in the past and would do so again. As always, keeping it honest and transparent for you guys. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, 12 November 2016

The power of Dandelion | Lotus Wei

I have always been fascinated with dandelions. They may not be exotic, as they grow all over the world, and some gardeners might consider them weeds, but they are far from it. Every part of dandelion  is edible and can be made into tonics, salads, wine and the roots are also used for a coffee alternative. As a kid I used to make flower crowns from the bright yellow flowers, and once their heads would transform into the soft, white, round shapes towards the end of their cycle, it was time to blow on them and make wishes. This three stages of dandelion: simple green leaves, followed by the appearance of a tall stem with a bright yellow crown, succeeded by a soft sphere with seeds parachuting away with the winds; that is the transformation that always captured my imagination.

After becoming familiar with Lotus Wei and the way Katie Hess works with flowers, it introduced me to a completely different kind of transformation, that once again, involves dandelion. One of my favourite things to do on the Lotus Wei website is to take the flower test. This is pretty simple, all you need to do is take a look at the flowers and pick 3 that you are most attracted to.What never stops to surprise me is how accurate the results always are.

Katie Hess teamed up with Louie Schwartzberg and created an interactive book,  FLOWEREVOLUTION, which involves some of the the principles of this test, where you can see what each flower you are drawn to says about you. You can get a sneak peek at the first two chapters and find out more about the book here.

                                                 Photo courtesy of Lotus Wei

"Being visually attracted to dandelion means that you most likely have tension in shoulders and neck, it dissolves physical tension and helps you become more aware about how you store stress in the physical body. It helps you identify mental and emotional causes of muscular tension."

Neck and shoulder area have always been problematic for me, especially during the times of stress (don't get me wrong they are not permanently in the state of tension, but it happens often enough for me to identify it as an area that needs working on). The elixir that contains dandelion is Quiet Mind*. It is supposed to relieve tension in neck and shoulders, quiet your mind and help you sleep soundly (and we all know that without decent sleep, stress levels become of the chart).

The elixir is super easy to use: you can dissolve a full dropper in a bottle of water and sip it throughout the day, or pop 5 drop under the tongue 5 times a day. Drops under the tongue is the way I use it. The presence of honey in these flower remedies makes them really pleasant, so I actually look forward to using the elixir.

With quiet mind, I have found it to work really fast in the elixir* form, I also have a perfume and mist* versions, but the elixir is the one that seems to give the best results (I still love the mist and perfume, and all 3 together work like a magical tag team). I find the tension is pretty much gone within a day. If I am really stressed, however, I do need to keep using it for about 3 days to start feeling completely like myself again.

I always use some sort of form of quiet mind when I travel. I generally need a few days to get used to a new place before I can get a decent night's sleep, which is a problem when going on short trips, since it makes me into a zombie and then I need forever to recover once I'm back at home. Since I have been using quiet mind on my trips, the problem has become practically non-existent. I would still sleep a bit less than I would at home, but at least I am longer staring into the ceiling for most of the night.

The transformation that I see in myself after using Quiet Mind elixir*, has opened up a new dimension to why I am still mesmerised by the dandelion. There is a quiet power in this flower, not only in the way it changes itself with the seasons, but in the way this often overlooked plant effects our wellbeing.

Of course dandelion is not the only flower present in the Quiet Mind, so to read about the passionflower, carry on to the next post in the Flower Circle on Smells like a green spirit.

*PR sample, in this instance I was sent quiet mind elixir and mist to review, all the opinions are my own based on the experience with the products. I am a huge fan of lotus wei, as can be clearely seen in my previous blog posts, where I bought the products with my own money. Keeping it honest in every post, is what this blog is all about.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

New Look | Leahlani.

Let's start with a little disclaimer about the title... It has been forever since Leahlani revealed their new look! However, I haven't actually reviewed any of the products since the re-branding, and now that a couple of them are just days from becoming empty containers, I feel finally ready.

When I first heard that Leahlani was updating their look to glass packaging I had no idea how much of an overhaul it would actually be. In my had I assumed it was a simple swap from plastic pots to glass, easy! Of course that was not what happened, everything changed. We are talking labels, new products, slight tweaks to some of the old ones and a gorgeous website was also launched.

To state the obvious, it is sort of hard not to like Leahlani's new packaging. It looks fantastic: frosted glass, labels with watercolour designs, gorgeous shades and golden lids, all come perfectly together. If I have never previously heard of the brand, its good looks would have surely made me want to investigate a little further (I'm not even going to pretend that I do not judge a book by its cover, I totally do). Yet in this case I was already familiar with what Leahlani has hidden inside those pretty jars, and it was the case of a brand blossoming into its own. This is really weird, because it kind off makes you feel like you had something to do with this transformation, since you "discovered" it during its slightly humbler beginnings (but of course in reality, where the brand was and now is, is solely to the credit of its founder, Leah Mason Klasovsky).

I am a little susceptible to this chase after the "latest", "shiniest" offerings from beauty brands, but lately I have been really working on having products in my stash that I enjoy most, and the ones I know give great results. So when it came to placing my orders (I made two with a few months apart), I went for a mixture of old favourites and new offerings.

This mask is probably the most iconic Leahlani product, with good reason. I almost want to say this is my favourite product from the line, but I can't quite make myself choose. It has definitely been the most used as you can see from how little is left in the jar. At this point I'm sort of addicted to the way it smells. Mixture of honey, sea buckthorn and coriander are the scents that my nose seems to be picking up, but the essential oil blend is more complicated than that (there is rose, lavender, chamomile, and orange amongst others). These scents, unique to each products, is one of the characteristics that for me distinguishes Leahlani from other brands. Don't get me wrong, you don't need pretty scents for effective skincare, however when you go to a spa and get yourself a facial or a body treatment, most estheticians will use some sort of blend to help you relax at the begining of a session. Leah's experience in this sector really shows in her products. I am a strong believer in aromatherapy, and what people often forget is that skin is really susceptible to how we feel. When we are stressed, upset, emotionally drained, our skin reflects it all. So having a face mask that works both on the surface of the skin and on a subconscious level to lift up your spirits is a massive bonus.

I have reviewed Mermaid previously, so I don't want to repeat myself on how it works. You can see the slight changes to the mask at the bottom of description on the Leahlani website. As far as the results, if I am honest, I didn't think this mask had a formula update. I do seem to enjoy using it this time round even more (maybe that is due to new ingredients?). I had to restrain myself a little because I was using it up so fast. On occasion I have used it as my morning cleanser by applying a pea sized amount to damp skin. It works fabulous in this way and gives skin a quick refining boost (spirulina and chlorella, suspended in honey, provide very mild exfoliation, perfect for those days when you didn't have time to do a full on mask session the night before).

Ingredients: Organic Hawaiian raw honey, organic Hawaiian spirulina (Spirulina Maxima), pure organic chlorella (Chlorella Vulgaris), french green clay, pure sea clay, luminess algae, organic sea buckthorn CO2 (Hippophae Rhamnoides), vanilla CO2 (Vanilla Planifolia), essential oils of: (organic orange (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis), moroccan chamomile (Tanacetum annuum ), roman chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) , geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens), palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini), lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), ylang ylang (Canaga Odorata), rose (Rose Damascena), white lotus flower absolute (Nelumbo Nucifera), beeswax absolute (Apies millifera), coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum).

This is another one of the products that won its place on my shelves well before the re-brand. When I opened the new extra pretty jar, I didn't think anything changed, the scent was exactly what I remembered. Yet when I first used it, the texture felt a little different. The fun part of this product is that it is 3-in-1. You can use it as a cleanser, mask or exfoliator (previously reviewed here). Upon closer inspection it does look like the ingredient list has changed slightly: in addition to ground hibiscus and corundum crystals, now there is maqui and noni fruit in the formula. These two ingredients have been added for their antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties.

When fully mixed, texture feels a little grittier then in the previous version. If I want to use it as cleanser, I make sure to take just a little of the top layer so I don't use those exfoliating particles, as all the crystals tend to stay at the bottom. My favourite way is to use it in the shower. Before jumping in (after giving Honey mask a good stir in the pot) I apply thin layer a to dry skin. Once in the shower, I add a splash of water to my hands and gently massage it for the exfoliating effect (I do this very carefully so as not to be too harsh, as this is a physical scrub). After that, I just let the water wash the rest of the mask away as I'm washing my hair and doing other showery things.

Being prone to congested skin, I find that physical exfoliants work a lot better for me, and Honey love is in my top 3.

Ingredients:  Organic hawaiian raw honey, organic wildcrafted whole maqui berry fruit (Aristotelia chilensis), organic wildcrafted whole noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia), rose clay, organic hibiscus flower (rosa sinensis), organic lavender flower (Lavandula Angustifolia), organic cold pressed jojoba oil, essential oils of: (organic lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), chamomile (Chamomilla Recutita) , organic orange ) Citrus sinensis), organic vegetable glycerin, corundum crystals.

At the time of the re-launch there were quite a few new products, and yes I would love to try all of them, but at present I have tried 3 (well OK I have also had a sample or two of Kokoleka, which seems gorgeous but that is not enough to do a proper review). I do like all of the latest additions, but one of them in particular has  been having me change my mind like a yo-yo.

This was the first product that I have tried from the new line up (and yes it has been very much because of one particular person, you know who you are). With my love for balms and multi-tasking products in general, there was no way I could resist. I had high hopes for it, but at the same time I was not too sure what to expect.

Having a quick glance at the ingredients I found old favourites like argan, camellia oil and shea butter, as well as oils that are considered to be a bit more exotic like passionflower, marula and moringa, and the very last ingredient is pink clay. This is not really a combination in any way similar to any other balm I have ever come across, let alone a multi-purpose one.

As soon as I opened the jar the intoxicating scent hit me. It smells deliciously floral (and florals are a hit and miss with me in general), like a beautiful garden first thing in the morning, when the flowers are still crisp and fresh from dew. The downside is that I want to dip in and apply the entire content of the jar all over my body! If I was to do that though, I don't believe the 30ml jar would last very long. Instead I have been using it as a cleanser, directly on dry areas of my face and occasionally as a deep moisture hand treatment.

You can use it as you would use any cleansing balm, but I really enjoy this trick that Leah shared with me. Massage a small amount of balm onto damp skin, and then instead of using a washcloth, simply tissue of. I often do this as my first step in a cleansing routine, or when I'm having a full on pamper session I love following this with honey love.

I have tried using it as an all-over face moisture balm, but I find it a little too rich for my skin, however, on dry areas around my nose and cheeks when it's really windy it works a treat. A few times I took a little too much product out of the jar and ended up rubbing the excess into my hands. The result was such buttery soft skin, that now if my hands are feeling really dry (normally on painting days, as I'm using so much water and soap to clean brushes etc.), I treat them to a little bless and it restores my skin within minutes.

Ingredients: Organic cold pressed argan oil (Argania spinosa), organic cold pressed camellia seed oil (Camellia oleifera), organic Shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), organic cocoa butter (Theobroma Cacao), organic cold pressed maracuja passionflower oil (Passiflora Incarnata), organic cold pressed moringa oil (Moringa Oleifera), organic cold pressed marula oil (Sclerocarya Birrea ), cymbidium grandiflorum orchid extract, wildcrafted blue tansy oil (Tanacetum annuum), neroli oil (Aurantium Dulcis), organic rosehip fruit (Rosa Moschata), rose clay

Oh how I love a good toner, and even though they are many on the market, the really effective ones seem to be few and far between. When I first started using Citrus and Citrine, I admit thinking it was a little average. The scent, unsurprisingly, is really gorgeous: sparkly and playful orange, instantly uplifting. However, for the first week results on my skin did not seem to be all that different from my using pure neroli hydrosol (I of course love hydrosols, but I do expect something more from a blended toner). 

It was only about a third way through the bottle (close to a month in) that I really started to appreciate it. My combo skin was loving it. I immediately put it in my top five toners that work great at balancing, all while leaving skin fresh and hydrated. Then I was about half way down the bottle and I started testing a different toner. A month later, as memory started to fade a little, I was starting to think that maybe citrus and citrine wasn't all that, and of course I had to go back to it to find out once and for all.

Now that I am on the last dregs, the bottle will surely be finished by the end of the week, I can say without a doubt that my skin loves this toner. Since turning 31 I have started to notice fine lines here and there, and my skin is definitely loosing moisture quicker, so hydration is key. Of course it still tends towards oily, so hydrating mists are really where it is at. This mist is amazing at boosting those moisture levels and making the fine lines less obvious (I'm basing this on comparison with a plain floral water and keeping the rest of my skincare routine identical, this is of course a study of 1, so not what you would call a rigorous scientific experiment). 

Ingredients: Hawaiian spring water, organic aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), alaea (hawaiian sea salt with alaea volcanic clay), hawaiian sea silt (sea silt ferment), essential oils of (neroli (Citrus Aurantium), organic orange (Aurantium Dulcis), organic grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), organic mandarin (Citrus Deliciosa), organic tangerine (Citrus Tangerina), witch hazel distillate (Hamamelis Virginiana), sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), lemon fruit (Citrus Medica Limonum), organic vegetable glycerin, leucidal liquid (radish root ferment), organic turmeric (Curcuma Longa).

I didn't actually buy this mask myself, it was a lovely gift from Lea, and it is an absolute treat. This is like an antioxidant rich breakfast for your skin. Strawberries, bananas, guava, star fruit, honey and grapefruit; sounds like I'm describing a fruit platter, but no, these are some of the ingredients found in this delicious mask.

It smells like an indulgent dessert, the illuminating nectar is really the most appropriate description for it, it leaves skin absolutely glowing. Meli Glow is a really rich mask, so I tend to use it when my skin is in need of some TLC. I can see this becoming a real staple in the winter months.

I haven't used this mask as much as I have the other products, so I am still in the process of getting to know it better.

Ingredients: Organic raw Hawaiian honey, pure rose clay, organic rose hip fruit (Rosa Canina Fruit), *organic starfruit (Averrhoa carambola), *organic strawberry fruit (Fragaria Ananassa ), *organic guava fruit (Psidium Guajava ), *organic banana fruit (Musa Sapientum), *organic grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi), organic argan oil (Argania Spinosa), organic sea buckthorn CO2 oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides), apricot kernel oil (Prunus Armeniaca), avocado fruit oil (Persea gratissima),  olive squalane, pure hyaluronic acid-vegan, Vitamin C ester, vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), proprietary blend of essential oils.

While I think all of the above products are a absolutely gorgeous, the honey based masks is where I think Leahlani absolutely excels. Even though I think honey is a wonderful ingredient, my skin does not love all honey based products. Some masks in the past have left me looking blotchy and my pores feeling clogged. Mermaid, Honey Love and Meli Glow on the other hand, always leave my skin feeling and looking amazing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Figs, pomegranates and red wine.

Fall used to mean to me a complete wardrobe and makeup overhaul. Now that my priorities are somewhat different that doesn't really happen, but that is not to say that some changes don't take place. Instead of following the latest fashion trends, I am paying attention to the colours I am drawn to. Weirdly enough, I have noticed that the make-up and clothing I am finding most appealing, seems to reflect what is in season in the plant kingdom, to an extent.

In the past few weeks figs have been available with my organic veggie box, and now pomegranates are also on the menu. The rich deep red of these fruits is exactly what I am most attracted to when it comes to lipstick and nail colour right now.

I am pretty fussy when it comes to lipstick. I want it all: great ingredients, gorgeous colour, smooth texture and pretty packaging. The one thing I'm not overly bothered about is staying power (within reason of course, it needs to be longer then 5 minutes), I actually enjoy the act of reapplying lipstick. Also it does worry me if you need an industrial strength make-up remover to take it off, I mean seriously what is in that stuff if it stays on all day no matter rain, shine, or greasy burger?

When it comes to ingredients these Odylique lippies really tick all the boxes. The mineral colours are approved by Ecocert and said to be free from lead and arsenic (as lead occurs naturally in the earth, when it comes to minerals, there is every chance that they could have traces of it, there is a standard set for what is considered to be acceptable trace amount to use in cosmetics, so any lipstick, natural or not, could potentially have some heavy metals). Up to 86% of ingredients including oils, butters, and waxes are certified organic (mineral colours themselves can not be certified organic), making these some of very few certified organic lippies around. 

I love the texture, it glides on very easily and feels seriously moisturising like a lip balm (in fact they really remind me of ilia lip conditioners). The finish is a little see-through and glossy but without sparkle. It works really well with the colours, making it really flattering and versatile to an extant (you could use it with a really light touch for a hint of colour, or 2-3 layers for a more intense burst). These two colours in particular tend to fade within 1-2 hours living just a hint of colour behind. Combined with practical rather than pretty packaging and the somewhat see-through appearance on the lips, these are more daytime then evening for me (having said that, if I was going for a dark or smoky eye these would go really well).

12 Raspberry coulis is described as a raspberry red, it is a fairly accurate description, although you could call it red wine or pomegranate and you would not be wrong. 16 Cherry tart is a little more pigmented and not as glossy, but still plenty moisturising. The colour is in somewhat similar red-wine/cherry family, but without that hint of purple. The two colours might not be different enough for most people to justify having both, but I can imagine everyone liking one over the other. Personally I quite like having the two. Even though I'm drawn to berry lippies during autumn, I still have different fancies: sometimes I want a more purple berry, and other times more red. The fact that they are super moisturising means I need not worry about the lipstick drying out my lips, if anything I think they have been adding some extra protection from the wind.

They do have a somewhat unusual scent, I do like it, but it is not something I have come across in lip products, yet I kept thinking that it is oddly familiar. Only when I was examining the ingredients closer did it dawn on me what it was: sea buckthorn!

There is no carmine in these lippies, but they do have beeswax so they aren't suitable for vegans.

I absolutely love when a nail colour description lives up to its name, it is so super accurate in this case, I was holding up my manicured nails to a glass of red wine to double check (as you can see, I take this testing very seriously, and well, since the wine was already poured, it would be wasteful not to drink it, right?).

This is my third little ondine colour and funnily enough it is my favourite. Instead of your usual foul smelling concoctions (which promptly make Mr. RF disappear to another room for a good hour), these don't really smell of much at all. It is a mixture of water, resins and colourants. I find them to be really easy to apply, the brush is nice and big, allowing each nail to be done with 3 strokes. It goes on evenly without streaks. This particular colour has a glossy finish but the shade itself doesn't have any sparkles. I find it dries somewhere around 5 minutes (depending how thick I made the layers it can be faster or maybe 1-2 minutes more).

The lasting power on my nails is somewhere around 2-3 days (I could get an extra day if I was careful when applying and using their secret base/top coat, but I am a bit lazy on occasion). Once the manicure starts misbehaving or I feel the need for a change, I just peel them off (like that glue some of us used to dip our fingers in so you could peel it off a few minutes later).

In general, little Ondine is becoming my favourite nail polish brand because of the fact that they don't stink up the house and I don't need to use a nail varnish remover. I do hope they will introduce a few more colours so I could swap out some of my old favourites.

What sort of makeup shades have you been drawn to this autumn? Let me know in the comments. 

*PR samples as part of Love Lula blogger program, as usual all opinions are my own, based on personal experience with the products. As part of the program I get to choose the products that I am interested in testing, take my time doing so and only review the products that I genuinely enjoy using.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Organic beauty experiment.

Whenever I meet people in person, and on these virtual pages, I keep going on about how important organic standards are to me personally. However, if you look inside my beauty cabinet you will find plenty of products that are not certified. The truth is that there are no legal requirements for a beauty brand to be certified to have organic written somewhere in the description of the bottle (and yes even having organic as part of the name is also acceptable), as long as they comply with Consumer Protection From Unfair Trading Regulation. What it means in real terms, is that in the absence of a clear definition of natural and organic, there is room for personal interpretation and what I or you think of as organic, is not necessarily what we will find inside a cosmetic bottle.

Instead of diving into the woods of trying to figure out who is and who isn't trying to mislead you, trusting a third party certification body like Soil Association can be a viable option for many, who are not particularly interested in scrutinising every bottle, trying to make sense of the ingredient lists. If you want to find out what is behind the Soil Association logo on cosmetic products, I have recently interviewed them for the peridot mag

I am actually quite fussy when it comes to what is inside my products (be they certified or not), but again I find myself not always agreeing with other green bloggers on the type of ingredients I choose to avoid, and I think, in the absence of definitive or in-depth studies on many of the things used in cosmetics today. that is only natural (yes, I just gave myself a pat on the back for this pun).The one thing I have never done however, is look through my beauty products and see how many of them are certified organic.

This Organic September I wanted to do an experiment, use only cosmos or soil association certified beauty products for my routine (including makeup). Now if I went shopping that wouldn't be so tough, instead I wanted to use what I already had. The first fail was toothpaste and deodorant, while what I have is 'natural', neither of them have organic ingredients (let alone certification). The second fail is more of a semi-fail, my green people shampoo and conditioner duo is certified organic, but not by cosmos or soil association (although green people do have SA certification for some of their products).

I have managed to find a surprising amount of products (a mixture of things that I have purchased myself, brought home in goodie bags, and a few things that have been sent over for a review). Instead of grabbing absolutely every certified product, I tried to pick products that were already open and not more than 3 of the same type of product (I still want to have options, there is just no way I could stick with only one body oil for the rest of the month).

As my skin is both reactive and temperamental, to minimise the risk, I didn't introduce anything that my face wasn't already familiar with, still I took a bit of a chance as it wasn't a combination of products that I have tried out together. 

Throughout the organic beauty week I will be going into detail of each step of my current beauty routine, and at the end of the month I will let you know if I cheated on any aspect of it, what worked and what didn't.