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.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Organic September | Day 1


I actually can't believe how quickly Organic September has come around. Last year I did the whole 'post for every day of September' thing, and it felt like a blogging marathon. I will not be doing it this time around purely because of the fact that I am also writing on The Peridot and I just don't think I would be able to cope with it all.

I feel like I am in a little bit of a different place from what I was last year, and while my views on the importance of Organic standards haven't changed I am reassessing of what organic lifestyle looks like to me. I am not going to tell you that my fridge and cupboards are completely filled with only organic produce, all my beauty products are certified organic and that all my clothes are made with organic cotton, that would not be true. Of course I aim for it, but the reality is that while organic items are more and more available even in my local stores, there are some things like spices that last for some time (and tend to be given as presents) that I will not be getting rid of because they don't have a certification. 

When it comes to the food that I personally buy, I go to the farmers market that has several organic stalls and I also subscribe to a Riverford Organic box. However if I see some papaya in a local green grocers and I really want it I will get it! Do I wish that it was organic? Of course! However, what I think is most important is for the food that I eat all/most of the time to be organic, not an occasional exotic offering. It really is about the things that make the most impact. I am not going to obsess about my cupcake that I had at a cafe not being organic, this is something I have just a few times a year! My potatoes, rice, veggies and greens that I have every week on the other hand, those I make sure are organic. So if you are starting to introduce some changes this month look at what would make the most impact? Are you partial to tomatoes, peppers or spinach? Those are the things to concentrate on.

I find myself shopping mostly outside of supermarkets. It suits me better, there is more choice of what I am looking for and I don't get bombarded with aisles and aisles of processed food. With lots of online retailers it is pretty easy to stock up on cupboard essentials really cheaply too. Organic food really doesn't need to be very expensive if you know where to look and how to make the best use of google.

When it comes to fashion, production of textiles is extremely polluting unless they have been created specifically to an eco standard. There is a lot of clothes already out there, floating around in the world, I don't feel the need to always buy 'new' clothes when so many unworn items are hanging on the rails in charity shops and are sold on e-bay. Of course if I really fancy something that isn't second hand or vintage, yes I will look for it to be eco or organic.

Skincare and beauty is really tough. To create a small bottle of face oil, a lot of plant matter is used. I don't really see any distinction between growing natural skincare ingredients and food production, so if I want my food to be organic it only makes sense that I want my skincare to be organic too. I will go into more detail on this subject during Organic Beauty Week.

Throughout the month I will be sharing some of my favourite products, recipes and just more about my personal approach to organic lifestyle. I will be keeping the content quite fluid, so if there is a particular subject matter that you would like me to cover more, let me know in the comments, I am very happy to oblige!

*Image courtesy of Soil Association

Thursday, 4 August 2016

The Model Zone facial + Giveaway



Coming from a family were both my mom and my grandma are amazing with a sewing machine, house full of Burda Moden magazines and my mom's contagious love of quality fabrics, my interest in fashion is not a surprise. For a long time I was completely mesmerised by the glitz and the glamour, patiently waiting for my monthly glossies. Like a lot of girls, at one point or other, I daydreamed about being a model (I've always had a wild imagination). Of course the stories in the media about the darker side of fashion open up your eyes to the harsh reality of the kind of pressures models face and how few actually make it big in the business.

The Model Zone is the British Fashion Council's project, created to look after the wellbeing of models during the London Fashion Week. As you can imagine, things get pretty intense, and a lot of the girls are young and far from their homes which adds to the pressure. Weleda UK have been supporting this project for several seasons, providing their products to use on the first occasion, and then getting more deeply involved with a team of beauty therapists and homoeopaths. The place is like a little oasis or a mini retreat: a space to relax, get a massage or a facial, stock up on healthy food and recharge your batteries. The location is confidential each season for obvious reasons, but to give us a taste of what it would look like this September (and to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Skin Food) Weleda recreated the Model zone experience a few months ago.


                                                         Photos courtesy of Weleda

The setting was a swanky apartment suite at Ham Yard in Soho, I was assured by Natalie Lewis (my therapist) that it was pretty much the same set up as at the The Model Zone, just a different location. Treatments on offer consisted of hand and foot massages, and of course the signature Skin Food facial that was specifically created for the occasion. Walking through the doors it already felt like a place of calm, of course I have no idea what the atmosphere is like on the day, but it was definitely all set up with relaxation in mind. 

I got to experience the signature facial. I have to admit that I was completely baffled by what Natalie was doing, first I could smell the undeniable sent of rosemary (which turned out to be a hot flannel soaked in Rosemary bath), then my nose told me that something from the almond range was being used (that was the almond cleanser). Luckily, Natalie was very obliging, she not only answered all my questions but also assured me that I would have the step by step instructions of how to recreate this ritual at home in the goodie bag. That was the point when I started to relax a bit, letting my annoyingly busy brain fall into rest mode.

The cleansing was followed by a massage with almond soothing facial oil. The massage extended to neck and shoulders, which in my case are super tense (every time I get a massage, therapists comment on it), so it was really nice to get some of that tension out.


                                                                Photo courtesy of Weleda

Moving on to the piece de resistance, a generous layer of skin food was left on the skin for 5 minutes to do its magic. I have to say this was my first interaction with skin food, the few samples that I had were snapped up by other members of the family so I never got to try it for myself. I actually quite like the scent, it is sort of sweet and herby. One of the ingredients in this product is Lanolin, which means it is not suitable for vegans. Here is what Weleda have to say about their lanolin and it really comes down to whether or not you trust the brand. From all my experiences with Weleda so far, I trust them (of course it is up to you to make up your own mind).

With a flannel soaked in hot water and a little lavender bath the mask is taken off, and the last step is a light application of Almond soothing lotion. The whole process was about 30 minutes, but it left me feeling incredible. Getting ready to come to the event I was definitely a little worse for wear, completely run down and super stressed. Half an hour with a Weleda therapist and I was ready to take on the world. I would have never thought of using Skin Food as a treatment mask, but if your skin is feeling dry it really does the trick. For those of us with oily complexion, the recommendation is to skip the T-zone and only use it on dryer areas, to avoid overloading the skin.

                                                                Photo courtesy of Weleda

I have teamed up with Weleda UK to gift one of my readers with the whole shebang of  the products used in their signature facial, unfortunately a therapist is not included, but they are throwing in some organic teabags and a muslin cloth. The giveaway is open to UK residents only and it closes on 15th of August 2016  (don't worry, there will be something else happening for my international readers shortly after).

The prise:

 Rosemary Invigorating Bath Milk 200ml
Almond Soothing Cleansing Lotion 75ml
Almond Soothing Facial Oil 50ml
Skin Food 30ml
Lavender Relaxing Bath Milk 200ml
Almond Soothing Facial Lotion 30ml
Organic cotton muslin
Organic cotton wool pads
Organic chamomile unbleached tea bags
Weleda Skin Food facial booklet

Good Luck!



Weleda Skin Food Facial Bundle

Thursday, 16 June 2016

New look | Herbfarmacy



When a brand announces a new look it always brings up a mixture of emotions: excitement and a little bit of dread, you just never know which way it is going to go (and of course I wonder if the packaging is the only thing that is changing). In the good old days, when Love Lula used to be owned by Claire Braithwaite and sent out cute inspirational cards with every order, on their site I first came across herbfarmacy. Balancing face cream was the first product I ever tried from the brand, the funny thing is I'm sure even at that time Herbfarmacy weren't knew to the game of organic skincare. Over the years I have come to regard them as a solid reliable brand, but let's face it, with the sudden explosion of the green beauty scene it is easy to get lost. 

Herbfarmacy has become like a pair of my favourite but slightly worn out jeans, I know they fit perfectly and show off certain assets in a very flattering way, and of course I wear them from time to time, but not exactly running up to my girlfriends screaming " Check out these jeans, don't they look fantastic?". Now it seems my old favourites have been brought back, with the same cut, the same fit, but also some extra cool detailing, so while these new jeans do exactly what they did before, well they look all sparkly and worth more than a few mentions. OK I'm done with the metaphor, it maybe shallow to talk about packaging, but I am not one to shy away from shallow pursuits (you know, everything in moderation is my motto). So let's dive into Herbfarmacy's new look and overanalyse it.



The jars and bottles are now emerald green glass, aside from the fact that it is just gorgeous, it turns out that when they first launched green glass was what they wanted to go with, but went for clear glass at the last moment, as they didn't want to clash with another brand who was using the same coloured glass. In a way this is like coming home, bringing back the original vision for herbfarmacy. The illustrated labels have been their signature from the get go, but now this print feels a lot more modern, and the terracotta red background adds a new twist to the overall look. Finally there is also a super cool logo on the lids of the jars and on the fronts of the bottles. The logo personifies the view of the hills on the herbfarmacy farm. So when you put all of these together: we have terracotta label representing the fertile soil, green glass representing plants and growth, botanical print showing off herbs and flowers, and the logo giving you a look at the rolling hills of where it all grows. Each jar and bottle is basically a visual story of where your products comes from.

Situated in the Welsh borders, the organic five acre Herfodshire farm established over 32 years ago is where the magic happens. The organic seedlings are hand sown, time is given for the plants to grow and reach their full potential, before being handpicked and turned into beautiful tinctures and extracts. The herbs grown on the farm are not used for essential oils, they are turned into macerated oils or water extracts, which become the bases of all products in the Herbfarmacy range. The most famous being the Marshmallow root.



The roots of marshmallow (the plant of course, not the gooey stuff that marshmallow man is made of) contain soft mucilages that become gel-like in water. In fact if you get your hands on a fresh root, and break a little bit you can feel it for yourself. The inside of the root when is super silky smooth to the touch, it is pretty incredible. These mucilages attract and hold moisture in the surface of the skin, not surprisingly this herb features in quite a few of the products (including Marshmallow and vanilla lipbalm which I have previously reviewed here). 

Other superstars are calendula and echinacea. While calendula, aka marigold, probably needs no introduction, it is an incredibly soothing and anti-inflammatory herb, amazing at calming sensitive and troubled skin. Echinacea is well known as a cold remedy, but it turns out as a mild astringent it is great for toning, and in creams for oily skin types (it is also a hit with bees and butterflies, always a good thing).



As well as a great range of skincare, herbfarmacy has an incredible selection of balms. Multipurpose mallow beauty balm, that can be used as a cleanser, moisturiser and even targeted fine lines treat and skin rescue balm for skin irritation and redness, these two are just the tip of the iceberg. Meditation, easy breathing, bruises, muscle tension, itchy skin, you name it they have a balm for it. I could create a wellbeing cabinet with all these jars (hm maybe I should)!



I have special respect for brands that grow their plants, really understand how to get the most out of them, and have genuine love for the land. To me they always stand head and shoulders above the rest, of course it doesn't hurt if the packaging is gorgeous. Every time I pick up a Herbfarmacy jar I fall in love with it a little bit more. There is just something about it, like a song that you like at first listen, but each time you hear it,  you just enjoy it more and more. Hello gorgeous green bottles, welcome to my top shelf, you are here to stay.