Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Gorgeous for Good | Day #2

You guys probably already know that I am collaborating with Sophie Uliano to go through her Gorgeous for Good thirty day program (prior to the books release in April). I am so lucky to have the lovely Liz as my gorgeous buddy, and I will be doing weekly posts about our progress. I will be giving a full review of the book and the program at the end of the process, but for now I want to simply set the scene.

The Gorgeous for Good is an introduction to setting good habits for life, that will help you feel energetic and confident as you age. It looks at four overlapping areas: skincare/beauty rituals, food, exercise routines and mindfulness. The idea is that you try new ways of doing things, and eventually at the end of the 30 days, find your own approach, that you will be sticking to for good. Since you will feel so fab that you would never want to give it up! It rolls out slowly, the first immediate change is food (unless you already eat that way), it eases you in into everything else.


 The diet is predominantly plant based, with only a few recipes including eggs and feta cheese (but also giving vegan alternatives for these ingredients). The meals are all planned out, but how closely you follow is up to you as long as you stick to the principles. I like to experiment in the kitchen, and since I try to eat as seasonal as possible, some recipes will be getting minor adjustments. I have decided to make at least one meal exactly as in the daily plan, but let my imagination fly with the rest (obviously sticking to vegan choices as much as possible and keeping an eye on the protein, healthy fats etc). So yesterday was officially completely vegan for me, and Mr RF by proxy (we normally take turns to cook, but since I will be cooking every day for this program, he is all of a sudden extremely happy to go predominantly vegan). Today is the day when I get my Riverford organic box delivery, so it was time to make good use of what was in the fridge. I made my version of "everything salad" for lunch, which did include some left over organic cheese. I never use milk, but I really enjoy an occasional cheese board. It is more of a rare treat though, so 28 more days without it is not going to be hard. I love love coconut milk, so I was completely shocked when I did not enjoy coconut yogurt. I did not make one myself (there is a recipe, but I'm just a bit funny about fermenting my own food), so maybe I need to try some other brands? If you guys have any suggestions I would very much appreciate them!


Now Liz has a skincare routine that is very similar to what is in the Gorgeous for Good book, mine on the other hand is very far in terms of the amount of steps taken, not how 'green' the products are. It is a good thing for once that my beauty and sample stash is huge, so I have assembled a routine that seems about right. The beauty routine will be kicking in tomorrow.

For the morning I chose Suki foaming cleanser or valia face wash, akamuti orange blossom water, samples of vit C serum (I don't actually like the ingredients in this so wouldn't get a full size even if it is fab), La Bella figura barbary fig seed oil samples, gaia creams veggie cocktail, devita spf30.

For the evening I chose Kris D'amour cleansing balm or Ren cream cleanser (both are almost finished so I want to use them up, and in the view of recent developments I will no long be purchasing ren), akamuti orange blossom, pai rosehip oil.

For my body I chose gaia creams veggie cocktail and Lyonsleaf body butter. I will stick to my soaps and the same hair care as I use now.


So far has been very manageable, we shall see how I handle it since you are supposed to be doing it 6 days a week. The idea is that you incorporate cardio, flexibility and strength training in your weekly work out plan. I have an underlying health condition that I don't really advertise, but I feel that it is relevant to mention here. The exercise that I do has to be somewhat adapted, for example I wouldn't be able to do all types of cardio (but walking and dancing is fine), and I can't do all the yoga poses (I see a yoga teacher every fortnight so I do have an adapted routine). I will also have to be very mindful with weights, but I am very excited to explore all the possibilities.


Will be incorporated in the next few days, so far I had to choose a space where I could be by myself and undisturbed for 15 minutes. In a flat of two whole rooms it is a rather easy choice.

The biggest challenge so far for both Liz and I has been the food preparation. To be making three different dishes every day (granted breakfast one doesn't take that long), while working morning to evening is very time consuming. My decision has been to make enough for dinner so that there are left overs for lunch, and then I just make my breakfast and juice in the morning (leaving the juicer cleanup for the evening).

The lovely Ru (short small sweet) is also taking part, so I will be having a peek at how she is doing.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Gorgeous for Good

 update: Liz is gorgeous buddy!

I am oh so very excited! You are probably familiar with Sophie Uliano and her books, they were one of the first few that I purchased when starting my green journey. Well now there will be a whole new one called "Gorgeous for Good". As if that in itself was not exciting enough, I will be taking part in the 30 day program ahead of the book's release in April (in collaboration with Sophie Uliano). What's even more wonderful is that I get to pick one reader to do it with me! 

So here are the dits:
The program focuses on skin, nutrition, fitness and soul. At the end of it you will hopefully feel Gorgeous and stay that way for Good (too much play on words?).  The idea is that we will be doing it together, I will be your personal support group. In addition you will get to join Sophie herself via Google hangouts throughout the duration of the program. Of course you are getting access to the e-version of the book as well via Netgalley widget. We will need to stay in touch during the 30 days so I know how you are doing and include that in my posts, via email, Twitter, Instagram (what ever floats your boat really). The whole thing starts on 9th of March and finishes on 8th of April. If you would like to be my Gorgeous buddy please leave a comment, or email me tamara(at)rainbowfeet(dot)co(dot)uk if you prefer! I will be choosing someone randomly on 6th of March. 

Here is a link for more info on Gorgeous for Good. http://sophieuliano.com/hit-ground-running/

Mindful Beauty Project | Toners

The thing that can be tricky to remember when you are a beauty blogger (even if you are a green one), is that it is quality over quantity. Every time a favourite brand brings out a new product, or I read a review about some new exciting line that I have never heard of before, the little want monster wakes up from his slumber and won't leave me alone. I have been slowly watching every available surface in my bedroom and bathroom disappear under the onslaught of beauty goodies. Some of my sample boxes and jars had to migrate to the living room shelves, and I even managed to put a couple of things on Mr RF's night stand (he was surprisingly accommodating).

You are probably familiar with the power of "Yes", I have come to a conclusion that it is time to embrace the power of "No". Most natural/organic brands tend to have a shorter lifespan even if left unopened, the most you can expect is 12m after opening (but you are likely to find 6m and even 3m). Having loads of products and normal to oily skin means that without close supervision, a good percentage of those products is waisted. I can easily skip moisturising my body half of the time, and use only a few drops of face oil, so even a tiny 5ml sample bottle can last me a month. I really don't like waist, not only is it very much against my eco mindset, it is also akin to pouring your money down the toilet. It could be spent on a day out, instead it is getting dusty on my shelf and then what? Migrates to the bin because it has expired? That is not an outcome that I want to see. If I was like other ladies that seem to use up 10-15 product every month, it would not be so much of an issue. I tend to use up about 2-3 products if I'm lucky, there have been months when nothing was used up, and then replacing those few with 5 new ones, yet hoping to get my stash under control. Well that is the definition of madness! So the new mantra is "use more, buy when needed". To help me with this project I am devising a system of how many items in each category I want to get down to, and having a detailed expiration dates files for each product so nothing gets left behind.

I decided to start with toners. My thinking was that it is my most favourite item of skincare, I tend to use them more consistently and I thought I did not have that many. An easy first step right? Then I went through my boxes and shelves, just to discover how mistaken I was!

The current situation.

I counted, and I have 10 bottles of toners and floral waters all together. Well I can mix all the flower waters and pretend that it is one toner, but that wouldn't be very honest, since I tend to use them as a stand alone product. I do find it comforting however that 3 out of 10 are only travel sizes, 4 are unopened and 3 more are on the brink of emptiness.

One Love Organics vitamin D mist. My current love, and almost empty. I don't want to say too much as I am writing a full review of it, but the only thing I don't like about it is how quickly it is running out.

Pure and Light Organic essential floral toner*. I really like this combination of flower waters, and the fine mist that the bottle provides. I only stopped using it before it finished to test some other toners, and yes you guessed it, it was left behind some taller bottles on the shelf, was convinced that I finished it! You can check out my previous review here.

R.L. Linden thousand petal mist. Completely unopened, travel sized bottle from the petit vour ltd edition winter collection. I did have a little tester of this toner, but it was not quiet enough for me to make up my mind.

Akamuti floral waters (or hydrosols would be more accurate). I have orange blossom and chamomile. Chamomile in the old packaging is almost gone, and while it has been wonderful for my skin, the scent is a bit too strong for my liking. Mr RF refers to it as my stinky stuff, so not likely to be a repurchase. Orange blossom I really like, I keep using it here and there in the mornings. Really lovely and works well with all the oils that I layered it with so far.

Pukka rose water. Unopened for the time being, it is my most favourite rose water ever! I am sure I mention it a lot on instagram and twitter, and every chance I get really. It has been repurchased so many times, a true staple for me.

George's Aloe spray mister. Very nice and refreshing, it is a great budget buy. Simple, works well with my skin and comes in a huge bottle of 236ml. It lasts forever, I am almost at the end of it, but it was purchased last spring and I have been using it as a body mist from time to time too.

Pacific mist. Only used a few times so far, it seems pleasant but I keep being distracted by other toners. It is a travel size from the NMDL box.

Mel Millis Neroli toner. This was part of a souk souk box, yet to open it. Again this is travel size. I love that their boxes have seeds in the cardboard, seems like a lovely brand, will be trying it shortly.

May Lindstrom Jasmine Gardens. Brand new and unopened. I know that I like it as I had a 30ml bottle of it already (or was it 15ml?). I am crazy about Jasmine, was sort of saving it for a rainy day, but it is a silly thing to do as it does not last forever.

The plan.

I though about it for some time, and came to the conclusion that I can realistically cut it down to 4 toners. One simple toner in a form of single hydrosol (akamuti, pukka, or George's), one wipe of toner (S.W. basics), two complex spray toners (yuli and OLO are my current choices for these positions). That way I can have some choice as I like to have options, and my skin is not the same every day, sometimes it needs something more gentle and other times a bit more active. But then I sort of know myself, my love for discovering new skincare is just too strong, so I need a wild card, a place for something that might take my fancy in the spur of the moment. At the moment I am aiming to cut it down to 4 toners, once I am there, I will replace the ones that finish for the toners that will be a permanent part of the routine. Keeping the 5th space open for new discoveries. That way I will have my faves with me at all times, still experience new toners, but have a manageable amount of products.

The filing system.

I decided to use notes on my Ipad instead of normal paper, this way I can easily correct the dates once the product is opened and also delete anything I no longer have. Every time I get a new toner I can easily add it to the list and it is much quicker having a look at the notes, rather than going through all my boxes each time I run out of something!

*PR sample

Monday, 2 March 2015

Month in review...

February has always been a bit of a tough month for me. After the initial excitement of reaching a new year, the cold short days get to me, my mojo is severely lacking and it is hard to feel inspired. Luckily I got a chance to go to two wonderful events that kicked me out of my grumpy troll mood.

Meeting Rose-Marie Swift at Being content was a highlight of the month, she is a force of nature and a breath of fresh air. Natural and Organic expo at London Excel was a little smaller than I anticipated but it was still an interesting experience. I finally met the founder of Bloom Remedies, even if it was a short conversation between the seminars that she was attending. I also guest posted on Naturally Paula, check it out if you missed it!

Most loved beauty product of February has to be De Mamiel rosey lip balm. I just couldn't get enough of the scent, it has been used on cuticles, as eyebrow tamer, and in its intended capacity, on the lips. I find this balm absorbs really well, there is no sticky residue and my lips seem to stay much more hydrated. I don't need to constantly reapply, there were days when I was quiet happy to go without any lip balm.

Wellness product of the month is Lotus Wei holiday cactus. I have mentioned this flower elixir a few times, Katie Hess is better than any magician in my eyes. This 30ml bottle of nectar helps keep your mind on the things that are most important. I often find myself counting days till spring, and effectively wasting time during February. With the help of this remedy I have been able to take some important steps towards necessary changes now, and not when the weather is more pleasing.

Favourite new acquisition is the Bulles et Molecules chocolate and roses cupcake soap. I absolutely love their soaps, but this cupcake is just taking things to another level. Admittedly I have not used it yet, as I have been to busy admiring this soap. I just find it so inspiring how creative artisan soap makers are, and have to keep reminding myself not to eat it.

Bottom of the jar. I have managed to finish a few products this month, and even though three out of five are travel sizes, I still feel very smug. Rahua shampoo is a personal favourite, and will be repurchased as soon as I finish all the others (mainly travel sizes that I managed to collect), because if I have this in the house nothing else will get used (you can find my previous review here). Marble and Milkweed rose and cardamon bath salts, previously reviewed here, have been something of a staple, and more than likely will be repurchased once again. The travel size of Body deli melon face wash lasted me good 4 months of once daily use, I will be reviewing it shortly, and I am planning on getting a full size. Weleda citrus deodorant, is good to have handy in my locker just in case I need to freshen up midday at work. It is alcohol based, so probably not the best choice for everyone, but it works well for me as a top up to my usual cream deo. However I do prefer the rose scented version to the citrus one. Evolvh moisturising shampoo, it was nice enough. A good one to use after an oil treatment, but a bit too drying on my hair. It did smell a bit synthetic to me, even though it states that it is all natural, not a repurchase.

I have been guilty of collecting beauty products more than actually using them in this past month, and I have come to this shocking realisation, drum roll please, that organic beauty doesn't actually do anything for your skin if you sit and stare at it, you actually need to use those beauty product before they expire. So in the light of this life changing epiphany, I have decided to do a Mindful Beauty project. I will attempt to reduce the size of my stash, and keep it that way, setting a maximum number of bottles/jars depending on category. I will be starting with toners in the next few days. Oh and one more thing, the blog now has disqus! Fingers crossed all the previous comments will be uploaded soon, and not just lost somewhere on the wild wild web.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Second Look: Gaia Creams

Most of my favourite discoveries of 2014 have been from small artisan brands. I find it both inspiring and slightly worrying. I am completely in awe of their creativity and amazed by the beauty of the products, the worrying thing is what if they decide to stop doing it? Judging by the sheer amount of beauty products on this blog, and currently present in my household, you might think me fickle, and yes maybe at times I am. However, when I find something that is truly unique, I become rather attached. My thought process is that I need to immediately let the creator know how much I truly appreciate their products, and often it is in the way of trying to slowly buy the entire collection, one jar at a time. The skin on my face is so picky, finding a good day time product with no citrus oils is a bit of a challenge. Gaia creams argan and sea buckthorn cream completely blue me away, I simply had to try more things from them.

Coconut mousse 2 in 1 makeup remover and moisturiser. I haven't purchased a special makeup remover in a very long time, I tend to use straight up coconut oil or double cleanse with my normal cream cleanser. I was very intrigued with this simple three ingredient concoction. I chose the version for sensitive skin, which consists of coconut oil, sweet almond oil and calendula. The texture is interesting, not exactly what I would call a mousse, but also much softer then a balm or a butter. The fragrance is light and ever so slightly nutty. On the skin it melts almost instantly, and feels really wonderful. After spreading it on the skin with a very light massage to loosen up makeup, all you need is a damp cloth to remove it. It performs really well and leaves my skin feeling clean and soft. While I can not definitively say that it works better than pure coconut oil at removing make up, it is a much lighter consistency, and I quiet like it as a break from the norm. What makes this product stand out is the fact that it doubles up as a moisturiser, while I haven't tried using it on my face, I absolutely love it on my legs post shaving. It is light enough not to over load my tender skin and it is super soothing thanks to calendula. One word of warning, if you are using it in warm/hot weaver it really should be kept in the fridge, I had a serious spillage accident when I using this product during summer, it became completely liquid, and I absentmindedly forgot to take that into account when opening.

Chia & Peach kernel superpower blend*. After my pumpkin post, that included an illustration of  Gaia creams, Anna was kind enough to send me this serum and veggie cocktail cream*. I have to say that I was already intrigued by it because of the chia oil. Other ingredients are peach kernel oil (as you guessed), rosemary essential oil, amaranth and frankincense essential oil. The scent is green and earthy, and it sort of smells gentle. The texture is what makes this stand head and shoulders above the rest, it is not exactly a gel but it has that almost silicony serum feel (minus the nasty peeling as this absorbs completely and is a seed oil). It leaves my skin so super soft, and is such an amazing base for makeup. Chia oil is a great source of Omega 3, which is quiet rare in plant based oils. For the skin it means keeping moisture in, prevention of wrinkles, and possibly reversing some of the lesser, faint wrinkles that are just starting to form. Omega 3 fatty acids can also play a role in decreasing skin damage from UV light. The anti-inflammatory properties mean that it is extremely soothing for sensitive skin. Peach kernel oil is rich in vitamin A and E, giving you a topical antioxidant boost to help fight free radicals. Rosemary promotes a healthy, even glow and is wonderful at bringing balance to the skin. Amaranth increases skin suppleness and elasticity. Frankincense calms the mind. This serum is a serious power house, but all of the ingredients are really gentle on the skin, it is one of those rare products that delivers results without being aggressive. I love using it during the day as it feels so light, and is readily absorbed by my skin. The one thing that I do have to constantly remember, is to shake the bottle. The bottle is a dark blue glass jar with their customary hand printed label (that I absolutely adore), however it is a fairly wide bottle neck. On the one hand I appreciate the absence of a plastic dropper or the rubber ended pipette, from a recycling perspective it is great, but yes you guessed it, their have been a few oops moments, when far too much product came out. Doing my imaginary scales impression, I still like the bottle for it's simplicity (even though it took some getting used to). I would say it took me about two weeks of daily use to start seeing the results from this serum, so no it was not love at first use, but one can not argue with smooth even looking skin, and frankly one does not want to.

Raw veggie cocktail face & body cream*. When I was planning my very first order, this was the product I was most drawn to. When I examined the ingredient list more closely, I noticed that it had jojoba (which can make my facial skin unhappy depending on concentration), and that was the only reason that I never got it for my personal use (however I did get it for a rather special Swedish babe). Since this product is designed to be used on both face and body, I knew that I at least would be able to use it as body moisturiser. After cautiously trying it on my face, I have been pleasantly surprised that there were no issues, so I can use this product pretty much head to toe. All Gaia face & body creams are a mixture of shea butter and other oils. There are different grades of shea butter, grade A is the one I would personally choose to use at is the only unrefined one, that has all the vitamins intact and is truly raw. This is exactly the type of shea butter used in this product, and is a wonderful source of topical antioxidants in its own right, but for my facial skin it is not an ingredient that I can use by itself. The veggie cocktail however has been an absolute marvel. Shea butter is whipped up with evening primrose, carrot, jojoba and pumpkin oils. Evening primrose oil contains high level of GLA, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Carrot oil used here is a macerated carrier oil (dried small pieces of carrot are mixed with another oil and left for a few weeks to infuse before separating the carrot from the oil), it is probably what gives this cream such a cheerful sunshine yellow colour. For the skin it is full of Betta-Carotene, which helps to repair UV damage, and generally is a wonderful oil for healthy skin. The last ingredient is Pumpkin seed oil. As someone who used to battle spots on the daily, pumpkin oil is a treasure (but it really should always be part of a blend even though it is a carrier oil), it is high in linoleic acid, full of antioxidants and Zinc, which is often deficient in acne sufferers. Texture of this product is more of a soft butter, that melts instantly on contact with skin. I love it as my morning moisturiser, and on those few occasions that I get complements on my skin, it always seems to be on the days that I used veggie cocktail. I was convinced that I would not like it nearly as much as I did the argan & sea buckthorn version of the cream, but now I may be liking it slightly more. It makes a huge difference to my skin tone and the overall texture of my skin is just so much smoother, with pores appearing smaller. The cream itself is also a little lighter and since my skin tends towards oily, I feel like veggie cocktail might be a better overall choice, even though I think that both creams are superb.

Gorgeous Foot & Leg Balm. This has to be the priciest foot product I have ever purchased and the most exotic one. The melting buttery texture is very much like that of the face and body creams, but a little more emollient, a little richer. It is very concentrated, and since I don't really have dry skin on my legs (the soles of my feet can get occasionally dry however), I tend to need very little of the product. This is a mixture of shea butter, cocoa butter, safflower, sesame, hemp seed, rosehip, coconut, carrot, sunflower and sweet almond oils, horse chestnut and calendula, with essential oils of fennel, tea tree, lime, lemongrass, lavender and peppermint. As you can see there is a lot going on in this product to make sure that your legs and feet are in tip top condition. It takes care of the dryness, has strong anti-fungal properties, absolutely marvellous for tired feet, and horse chestnut is a traditional remedy for leg vein health. This is my absolute holy grail foot cream, I am very fussy when it comes to texture and scent of my foot care and I don't really like to try lots of different products on my feet. The only reason I even purchased this, is because my previous favourite was discontinued. The balm sinks in beautifully, gives me enough slip for a massage, but does not leave any greasy residue. It genuinely makes my leg muscles feel better after a long day. The scent is light peppermint with a hint of citrus, and most importantly during summer it kept me from getting any foot rashes.

What I love about Gaia is the commitment to creating gorgeous products, what is inside the pots and blue coloured bottles is absolute perfection (based on the products that I have tried so far). Of course what is inside is what counts the most, yet a shallow part of me wants my beauty products to look good on the shelf too. These absolutely do, with their hand printed labels, that can be personalised at no extra cost. The commitment to recycling is more than admirable. In a few weeks time I will have 5 empty containers and I will be sending these back to Gaia in exchange for a 30ml product of my choice. To top it off, a percentage of all sales is donated to select charities. All of these factors make me really proud to have Gaia products in my home, but of course what will keep me coming back is how happy my skin has been since I have started using them. These products are made to order, so you need to allow a few days for that before they will be shipped. The shelf life is fairly short 3-4 months after purchase (the expiry date is on the label), and it is not something that you can keep in the cupboard for the future, it is a use it or loose it type thing.

*So some of the products in this post have been a gift from the brand founder, however there was not an expectation of a review. No one has been running after me with a baseball bat to make me write this post, all the opinions are my own, honest and based on personal experience. Tested on my own skin for months.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

License and Registration Please

This blog is not a place of controversy, I do not generally write about the hard topics that tend to, at times, divide the green community, and I do not really talk much about the green community at all here. There are different types of green bloggers, we are driven by different passions and tend to concentrate on what is important to us. Some people are just starting their journey, and you can follow their progress and learn as they learn, others have an extensive knowledge of the industry, and there are even some who have backgrounds in science, that gives them a greater insight into ingredients. This space has always been reserved for straight up reviews, without trying to preach the wonder of organic/natural (at least I hope there was no preaching), because chances are if you ended up here, you already know that. I also wanted it to be about the products that are great in their own right, who wants to use a mascara that is acceptable for a "natural" mascara? I want a brilliant mascara as good as any, that happens to also be natural. This has been my goal, to share amazing beauty products and some other things, like fashion and holiday destinations to keep things varied.

Let Me Introduce Myself.

I have always been fascinated by beauty products, when I was a kid, going through my aunt's vanity table was one of my favourite things. I tried to make my own cream and rosewater when I was 8, by mixing my moms preexisting creams with some apricot shampoo, to make it smell nice, and putting rose petals in a bottle filled with cold water, then shaking really hard (clearly I had a lot to learn). When I was a teen I was more interested in makeup than skincare, I had a few spots as most teens do. In my late teens things changed drastically, I was breaking out like crazy and had to see a dermatologist (luckily a very good one, who had a holistic approach). Looking back on it, I know that the causes were pretty poor diet, combined with stress of college, and some unhealthy personal relationships, but I had to learn the hard way. With the help of my dermatologist and regular facials, my skin was clearing up, not a flawless airbrushed perfection found on the covers of magazines, but nothing I couldn't live with. The problem was I couldn't seem to find a skincare routine that I was happy with. Every payday Boots was my first destination, I would come back with a few bottles, read every bit of information on the products (without really understanding any of the Ingredients). After getting hooked on Lush and reading the Lush Times, I started to gain a bit more understanding of the ingredients. But this new fondness for more natural beauty was a slow journey, there was not a great deal of information, no wikipedia, no green blogs that I was aware of, no Content store and no Whole Foods. When Mr RF (fiance at the time) and I moved in together, in an effort to save money, I tried to make most of the beauty products myself. I was successful with face washes, toners and masks but not moisturisers, those I still bought from a store (from more conventional brands I should add). This was the time that I also became obsessed with Organic Life magazine, unfortunately a fairly short lived publication, that never the less had a huge impact on me and gave me that push to switch completely to natural/organic beauty. Now we have  finally reached the era of  Content, 2008 when I placed my first order with them (no my memory is not that good, I had to look it up), I am proud to say that I was with them from the very first year that they opened, and they are still my favourite destination for beauty and wellbeing. I did not start blogging until 2011, and at that point my skincare and body care were all pretty much "green", but not my makeup. The posts that I did were not exactly frequent. Fast forward to 2013 and I discovered the existence of other green blogs, and that gave me a boost to be much more serious about my own. Now to the present day, if we are talking well known green beauty brands that have existed for a few years there are very few that I haven't tried, I know how to read a label and rarely come across ingredients that I don't know (it still happens occasionally but less and less often), I also know what works for my skin. Most reviews that I do are for things that I purchased myself and I tend to take a long time before I am ready to post. I take pictures while the product is still mostly full, but I don't start writing until I have been consistently using it for at least about 4 weeks if it is skincare. Whenever I get offered something for a review, my first reaction is gratitude, because to me that says that what I do means something to other people, and it gives me a chance to review something of interest to my readers and yes it helps to keep the blog alive, because I am not rich and I can not just go and buy every single beauty product out there, no matter how much I wish it was the case. The second thought is, is this brand as good as it sounds, and the third is would it work for me? That means I have to do a little digging, have a look at the ingredients, and sometimes agonise over emails about how to phrase certain uncomfortable questions, in order not to offend but also to get a straight answer.

License and Registration Please.

I think this is a good time for a metaphor in a shape of a story (just to be clear this is completely made up and I would never actually do something like that). I have no driving license, but I do know how to drive, I just never bothered to take a test. While hubs is asleep I decide to take his car for a spin, as I have a sudden urge to pop into Harrods. My friendly neighbour, who is aware that I have no driving license, but otherwise we are not close, tries to tell me it is not legal for me to do that, but I brush his concerns under the carpet, and proceed anyway, because a close friend told me it was ok. I never actually bothered to find out for myself. On my way to Harrods, there is a random police check where they stop everyone, and once the police officer realises that I have no driving license he suddenly becomes less friendly. Somehow, my assurances that I know how to drive, and my pleas for him to trust me fall on deaf ears. He seems to think that the law is the law, and no matter how safe a driver I am, I have no actual documents to back that up, and taking my word for it is simply not good enough, no matter how wonderful a person I might be.

What does this have to do with beauty? Well very simply anyone who manufactures and sells beauty products in EU has to be registered with CPNP, and I mean anyone. If I make a cocoa butter massage bar and give it to my mother in law that is fine, however if she asks me to make her another one and gives me a fiver for my efforts that makes me a seller in EU, and that also means I should register my product with CPNP before I take that money. 'Simples', right?

'Simples' it is not.

You made your batch of yummy sugar scrub, that smells like frosting and makes skin baby soft, and you are aware that you have to register with CPNP.  You take some photos of your ingredient labels and your packaging, and try to upload them to the database. Unfortunately that is not how it works. You have to get your product assessed first for safety by a qualified person (and you need to be careful who you choose), your labels or outer packaging, or inside leaflet included with the product has to include INCI ingredients, batch number and manufacturing address. You also have to have a few documents on file before you register with CPNP and start selling. Here is a link that gives more info on this.

Welcome to the Jungle.

Natural and Organic are just words that only become meaningful once backed up by certifying bodies like EcoCert, Soil Association etc. In the last few years, since natural/organic has become trendy, and with phenomenon of Etsy, you are spoilt for choice, and brands are claiming all sorts of things. Sometimes big splashy promises of Organic Argan oil on a shampoo bottle, waiting for the unwary customer, are making you think that it is a good buy, but apart from that one ingredient the product is really not much different from your ordinary shampoo and you instantly feel duped. As a consumer in the 'green' industry you have to be pretty savvy but at times also trusting. Smaller brands simply can not afford to have these more expensive certifications, that does not mean that what they have is a product that isn't truly organic or natural, since if they use all organically certified ingredients it is an organic product, just without certification. What proves their claims is the traceability of the ingredients used, which is part of the Product Information File and a legal requirement for beauty product manufacturers in the EU (and for products that are imported with intention to sell).

Don't stomp on the little guy.

While I don't request to read the Product Information File before purchasing from hand made brands or any brands for that matter, it is an option that I know I have when buying products in EU. Jumping through registration hoops for a small business is time consuming, costs money and can be a serious headache. But from a consumer perspective I know that what the ingredients label says is what I am actually getting, without documents to back it up the label is actually meaningless. While I keep an open mind and trust that smaller brands are telling me the truth, well I did not switch to 'green beauty' because I had great belief in the cosmetic industry or the ingredients that they use, it would be strange if I however suddenly started taking claims of hand made beauty producers at face value. I love and support hand made beauty, but they get the same scrutiny as any other beauty product. US beauty products do not have the same strict legislation to follow, which is why you see so many more hand crafted beauty goodies over the pond, but that is also one of the reasons why most of them will never get a European stockist, the process of registering is just too costly and only worth it to those companies who want to expand. So yes I like all sorts of brands yet hand crafted, properly registered UK brands get my support every day of the week, and I vote with my wallet.

The Grey area.

The common names on the labels are much easier to read, and on a personal level I don't really have a problem with common names. Go ahead and include them in brackets next to INCI ingredients, or on your website if you are selling in EU. However if I get a product, be it for review or purchased online and it only has common names and no INCI it is a red flag. How could you possibly have gone through all the proper registration and not have the correct labelling? Yes I am a blogger, and if a product was sent to me it is technically a gift, there for the rules are a bit grey as no money exchange took place, so no law broken. Yet if I test it and review it, I need to know that you are in fact following the legislation, otherwise I am openly promoting what is effectively a rogue operation. Why on earth would I do that? Let us not forget that every blogger is also a customer or a potential customer, the way you handle communication with us is the way you treat your customers. Some of us have connections and are more than happy to share the advice necissary for a start-up, after all that is what 'green' beauty community is about, support. But at the end of the day every single one of us also buys beauty products, a lot even, and we are pretty loyal to brands we like. If we like your products you are likely to have a customer for life, who will also shout from the roof tops how amazing your products are. Yet if you are not complying with the law and not listening to what we have to say, you will never get our custom. It is not a bloggers job to prove to you what the law says, Trading Standards Office is a free resource that is there to help with exactly that. It is also not a bloggers job to drag every non complying business into the sunlight (unless of course it is what their blog is all about), we are not 'green' beauty police.

In conclusion.

While I do buy some products from across the pond that have common names instead of INCI on the labels, I am very selective, and actually would prefer for them to have INCI labels so things could be standardised. When it comes to products sold in EU it is a deal breaker, for the absence of INCI makes me instantly suspicious, and it is also against the law. Current Legislation does pose an entry barrier to new businesses and yes can be very costly, but it is also there to protect consumers, from getting potentially unsafe formulations (as there are plenty of natural allergens and essential oils have to be used in certain proportions). While I like to believe that 'green' companies are basically honest and founded by people who want to make a genuine difference, good intentions do not excuse anyone from following the letter of the law. If you feel that this particular law is disagreeable and unjust, you need to change it through politics, not by ignoring it.

Friday, 13 February 2015

RMS beauty event at Content

 If you are a regular reader of this blog you are probably aware of my favourite little beauty boutique in the heart of London. Content Beauty and I became friends early on in my green journey and while I may not be the most loyal when it comes to products I am very loyal to my favourite retailers. Because it can take me anywhere between an hour or two to get there (and you never quiet know how long it will actually take you), I do most of my shopping with them on-line ( safer for my wallet too), however I only need an excuse of a good event to make the journey. Now, it is not a big secret that I have a little soft spot for RMS and even have a box dedicated specifically to RMS, so an event with Rose-Marie Swift in Content that was just a dream come true. When I booked a place there was a choice of two slots one at five and another at six in the evening, I chose a later one as I thought it would give me a better chance of actually getting there on time. I was counting days until the event and for a few days I was afraid I would have to give up my space, but my lucky stars aligned and I was able to make it.

I arrived almost half an hour early to the site of a full store of ladies from an earlier group and Imelda outside, signing for a delivery of radiance juices (my guess is for Rose-Marie and the staff). My little ego was boosted by the fact that Imelda recognised me straight away, she said I was welcome to sneak in at the back. I chose to stay outside at first to take a few photos but the cold quickly changed my mind. You see Rose-Marie is so enthusiastic about beauty and is just so fun to be around, that the two group thing didn't quiet work out. I think what happened before I arrived was a general presentation of products from the range on one of the girls from Content I believe ( I caught the tail end of it), and then Rose-Marie asked what questions people had and if anyone wanted to come up for product/colour suggestions (and that was about ten minutes to six). While group one was taking their turns in the make-up chair group two just sort of joined up at the back and even though a couple of people left after getting their one on one, majority stayed. As she was doing everyones makeup, Rose-Marie was discussing each issue that she noticed with regards to how to enhance someones look, if someone had a foundation colour that didn't quiet work or lipstick. This was so helpful because even though she did something different for each of us, tips on how to do bronzer and where to apply the highlighter are very useful for everyone. She also made a point about hyaluronic acid creams not really agreeing with makeup in general (she new straight away which ladies used one, amazing party trick me thinks).

                                                             Rose-Marie doing my makeup

When it was my turn I have to say I was a little awe struck. Rose-Marie was wearing an all black outfit with skinny jeans and a beanie hat, no eye makeup from what I could tell, perfect base and a bold red lip (it all very much reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Funny face). When she asked me what colour I tend to wear most I said coral, while I do wear coral lips about 50% of the time, the thing is there is hardly any colour that I do not use in my makeup and I completely forgot to ask of a way to use the living luminizer on me (and that was something I was planning on while standing in the audience). She told me that I have really nice skin (at this point my head was like omg Rose-Marie has seen so many faces and she thinks I have nice skin), she used the new tinted un-powder in 2-3 to even out my skin tone on half of my face to show the difference to everyone, before proceeding with the other half. On the eyes she used a little seduce topped up with the same unpowder, and then she also used seduce on my eyebrows again topped with unpowder. Since I have given up trying to find a good eyebrow match (they are all either too grey or too brown), I was pleasantly surprised that seduce was a perfect match. So the top priority personal tip I got was to do my eyebrows!

                                                               Me after the mini makeover

Rose-Marie's approach to makeup for normal life (i.e. not artistic photo shoots and fashion runways) is that less is more. There were no drastic makeovers with people looking like they are about to go on stage (which yes I have seen once or twice at a Mac counter). Everything was about finding key features and colours that would work best on the individual. Uncover up was applied with fingertips and blended in pretty much like a moisturiser, no light tapping, really blended into the skin, but not all over the face, just on the areas that needed the extra coverage. On the individual spots a small, fairly stiff brush was used, but again just for individual spots not the whole surrounding skin. Un-powder was pressed in a rolling motion with a cotton disk to set the uncover up when used or straight away on bare skin to even out the skin tone a little when she felt that uncover up was not needed. Lip2Cheeks or lip shines were applied to both cheeks and lips in light washes of colour (yes she applied lip shines to the cheeks and they looked amazing), and even used imagine on one of the girls as a lip colour (she had a beautiful tanned olive complexion and it looked stunning). With mascaras, Rose-Marie pointed out that the defining version is actually her preferred formula especially if you are trying to get that extra wow effect. With one of the girls she used the mascara, dotted a little inspire in the middle of the lid (also mentioning her less is more mantra and how it is not necessary to do the whole lid from corner to corner all the time), and living luminizer on the cheekbones, what can I say, amazing to watch a master at work. With living luminizer she put up two finger directly under her eye and said to use it underneath them, so directly on the cheekbones and not under the eye, mentioning if used on the under eye area it will look like you are crying, and also not to bring it too close to the nose (the two finger rule as with blush I think is a good guideline). When covering dark circles under eyes not to go  with a very light colour but actually match closer to the colour of the rest of the face. At the same time one of the girls from content was righting out cards with colours of the products that were used in the mini makeovers, I found this sweet and helpful.

                                                                   Imelda and I

The whole evening was very entertaining due to the fact that Rose-Marie is super funny, even when she gave constructive criticism it was with jokes, making it impossible to take offence. If you are ever at dinner party that is not all that, you want her sitting next to you. She was so honest, with no hard sell, openly admitting that her eyeshadows are not a good choice for some one with oily lids (although mine are and I have found a way to use them). Sharing anecdotes about her world and stories of packaging woes for her line (the mascara wands will soon be upgraded). Rose-Marie is an amazing personality and I hope there will be another event like this and maybe next time I will be a little bit more of my usual self and actually ask the questions, or I will be reduced to a school girl at a One Directions concert yet again, who knows.

P.S. Now that I made you read the whole post there is actually a short Vlog about the event.