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.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

The illusion of power



Knowledge is power. So why is it that the more I know the more I realise how little power I actually have? We live in an age where information is thrown at us on the daily whether we want it or not. Even without turning on a news channel or owning a TV, if you have access to the Internet and facebook/twitter/instagram you are likely up to date with the latest shock and horror stories.  The question is do you have the tools necessary to figure out what is real and what is BS? This not the question of intelligence, street smarts or even expertise. It is funny how when you start researching any industry be it food, fashion, beauty, etc you soon start seeing similarities with regards to hidden dark corners, dishonesty, misinformation and lack of responsibility.

Let's get a couple of things straight: there are very few certainties (if any), when it comes to natural order of things, science or life in general. So many things through the history of humanity that used to be considered as undeniable, undisputed facts have come to be disproved. Our societies have seen remarkable transformation, so why is it when it comes to our daily lives we seem to be rather accepting of the status quo and believing that it isn't in our power to create real and lasting change? Why is that we are so content with the superficial power of our consumer choices? 

Making decisions on incomplete, often biased studies, when it comes to food and beauty products. Purchasing clothing based on convenience of what is available to us. Being saddled with the full responsibility for the potential health consequences of our nutritional choices, or wanting to appear more attractive through the use of beauty products. Because somehow it is up to us as individuals to understand potential risks of what is in our lotion, or in our food, because we are adults? 

Never mind the fact that large proportions of population leave formal education by the age of sixteen in the rich countries (we are not even talking about what is going on in the so called developing world), and the quality of education varies ridiculously between school to school, country to country. Yet we are responsible for our own wellbeing, and we are told that the things sold to us in the shops are there because we want them. How is that exactly? When given a choice, with explanation of all the consequences and effects that certain ingredients have on our bodies, what mother would choose to give their child food with colourants that could potentially cause their child ADHD? But I mean it is not certain, and in small quantities it is OK right, so lets just roll with it.

Going to an attraction park and not packing a lunch with me (admittedly an oversight), it turns out that my only food options are chips, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, or soup (on a hot summer day), so how exactly do I show my consumer power and preferences for healthy food... oh that is right, I don't, I go to eat elsewhere (where is that exactly when you are in middle of nowhere?). So I get a stupid sandwich, or go hungry. 

How am I supposed to definitively make up my mind on whether or not organic food and beauty is worth it when the supposedly leading scientific minds keep playing tug of war with their findings? Because of course I have time, money, and the presence of mind to subscribe to all the research articles and publications in the fields of environment, nutrition, cosmetic chemistry, and also keep an eye on what goes on in the field of economics, and politics (not of just my own country mind you, but worldwide), read them, and without fail figure out what is the absolute truth. Then I go to the shops and vote with my wallet for the real change in the world. Because I am an all powerful consumer, and if I just keep shopping for fair trade goods, organic produce and natural beauty I am going to change the world. It is up to me and all the other consumers, it is our collective responsibility as walking, talking ATMs to show big business that we are against child labour, food that makes us sick, and beauty products with questionable ingredients. Consumers are ultimately responsible for not only what goes on in the supply chain and the environmental impact of production industries in distant countries, they are also responsible for the effects that cosmetics have on us purely by the simple act of buying one product over another. You have the power to buy or not to buy, with power comes great responsibility.

So now with my new found power, I am drastically changing my shopping habits, yet my budget is still the same. I buy less, a lot less, since instead of 5 dresses I can now only afford 1, and what happens if every single person does the same, what happens then? Well there aren't that many dresses being sold, so either price goes down to encourage people to shop more or all those people who used to make dresses have to find themselves another type of work. And if the price keeps going down, does this mean that those exact things I wanted to avoid by buying a more expensive dress will just happen again? If overnight the whole world goes organic, all non organic farms have to change or go out of business. It is a similar story with beauty. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well that depends on who you ask. Time does not stay still, change happens whether or not we are open to it. While we are free to choose, we can only choose from the selection that is available to us. If you have no access to clean water, you still have to drink to live.  

My buying choices are made with the best information I have at the time, but I am not a mindless consumer of things, I am a person. I had no part in deciding who made a shirt that is hanging in a department store, and it is very unlikely that I will ever find out who made it. I have to put my trust in instutitions and certifying bodies to tell me that a particular item indeed was made under fair conditions, or made with ingredients that it claims to have. I do not have access to all the relevant information, or even the capacity to process it all if it is presented in a particularly confusing way.

While I am great believer in individuality, and yes one person can really create change, they never do it without the support of other like minded people. There is such a thing as too much emphasis on individuals, no one person is responsible for all that is wrong in the world or indeed for fixing it. Yet when we don't have reliable institutions that actually ensure that what is available to us is indeed safe, that the environment doesn't get polluted, and that workers are treated with respect, it falls on the shoulders of individuals to figure what is what. 

So maybe I should see myself as a consumer and embrace this power of shopping after all? At every corner, being met with different opinions presented as facts based on contradicting  information, I will be making choices. Am I vegan? No... Oh that must mean that I do not care about animal cruelty or the environment, and if I do than I am a delusional hypocrite. Do I use only unpreserved organic skincare? No... well that is unfortunate, but I can't be part of the purist green beauty club. And if I happen to be a blogger but do not share every part of what I do, every single beauty product that I have ever used, and some of the ones I missed out on taliking about aren't too clean, if I share green smoothie recipes but do not document the fact that I had a coke once in a blue moon, that means I am just plain inauthenic. Because as everybody knows, having a blog means everyone is not only entitled to know every sinle thing about me but it is frankly my civic duty to overshare in the name of authenticity.

So please clear some room while I get on my high horse, cloak myself in authenticity and point my finger at all the others who fail to navigate this minefield of information, while shopping into oblivion and shaping the world into a better place with the mighty power of my wallet.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Staring at the ceiling...



Alone in the room, looking up above.
My eyes meeting the white concrete instead of blue sky.
Emotions overpowering, consuming my entire being:
Anger, sadness, disbelief.

This too will pass.

There is two of us, watching the patterns and intricate designs,
This man made canopy holds such beauty.
Not in the wildest dreams have I felt so happy:
Amazement, gratitude, disbelief.

This too will pass.

There are people around, yet I am completely alone.
The prison of solid stone will not let me jump any higher.
The answers that seemed so true, have turned on me:
Grief, despair, disbelief.

This too will pass.

Overwhelmed, tired, constantly questioning my own resolve.
Is it true what I see, is it my thoughts that betray me or is it you?
How can you not see the damage, all this pain?
Acceptance, denial, disbelief.

When will it pass?

Keeping quiet, choosing my words.
This cage I created, will not be reinforced.
What I am looking for, you do not possess.
Strength, determination, belief in myself.

This is my path.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Pamper sessions | Isla apothecary



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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A touch of coral



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





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

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

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

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

What colours are you most drawn to this spring?

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

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Seaweed in my cream?






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

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

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






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

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

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





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

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

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


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

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

In pursuit of restful slumber...



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

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

Lock down on electronic devices.

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

Time for feet.

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

Aromatherapy.

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

The big guns.

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


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