Friday, 27 November 2015

Nutrition | Facts and fiction

This post is about a sensitive subject of nutrition and diets, I am not a trained nutritionist or a health care professional and everything that follows is based on personal experience. Use your common sense, if you have serious health issues seek advice from a qualified person.

It feels like nutrition is becoming a bit of a hot subject lately. While dieting for weight loss is not new at all, there has been more and more focus on the wellbeing aspect. More and more people don't want to just look good, they want to feel good. But what is the best way to achieve it? Well depends on who you ask doesn't it. There are so many dietary solutions that it can make your head spin, and every single camp is adamant that their solution is the only correct one. In the words of agent Mulder "the truth is out there", but boy is it hard to figure out. The frustrating thing is that the field of nutrition is moving at a fairly fast pace nowadays, and things that used to be considered as best practises no longer are. Yet the results of newest studies are often slow to be picked upon. In a way some of them are challenging peoples beliefs, and sometimes they are challenging experts. No one really likes to admit that they are wrong. Some studies can be really questionable in the way they manipulate statistics, or there maybe queries about their sources of funding. Even when several experts read the same study they seem to somehow come up with different conclusions, and cherry pick the statistics that support their argument.

Instead of trying to figure out who is right or wrong I decided to find what different approaches had in common. Obviously if you look hard enough you will likely find someone who disagrees with these points as well, but this is the theme that kept coming up from a bunch of different nutritional experts.

Our bodies use food as a fuel for energy but also to make cells and tissues, so there is no two ways about it: you are what you eat. Just because someone is slim does not mean that they are healthy, the "skinny-fat" is a thing, it describes people who are not overweight but have fat around their internal organs. Calories is not what matters most, it really is about the quality of those calories. Having the same amount of calories from soda or from broccoli will lead to completely different results where your body is concerned. The focus really is on real food, i.e. fruit, veg, whole grains not candy bars and crisps. Putting semantics aside of how far you can take the word 'processed', the main idea is to buy ingredients rather than ready meals and cook at home. Our bodies need a balance, so yes they need carbs, proteins and fats. Not all sources of these, however, constitute good building blocks for our bodies, and not everyone will need the same ratio of these macronutrients. There is no 'diet' that will work for everyone. 

It is a fairly recent phenomena that we have access to so much food, but also all this variety is often not something that can be grown in our own climate. It is not necessarily a bad thing but people tend to tolerate foods that their parents and grandparents grew up eating, and what they had as kids growing up (again we are talking real food here). Climate that a person lives in will play a huge role: an optimal diet for someone based in LA is not going to be the best thing for someone who resides in Reykjavik. Food looses it's nutritional content once it has been picked. Some things like beans and nuts store well, but your greens do not. Your spinach, two weeks after you bought, is not going to have much to offer you in terms of nutrients. So you can imagine that the longer it takes to get to you, the less of the good stuff it will have. 

Seasonal produce is always higher in nutrients, but there is no exact way of knowing the exact quantity of certain vitamins each particular carrot contains, these are just approximations. You need to eat a variety of foods for optimum wellbeing and to get the full range of nutrients. Even if you have the best diet in the world it does not mean you get all the nutrients if your body is not absorbing them. For a healthy gut probiotics are your friends, but we are not talking yogurt drinks from the store, we are talking quality fermented foods or supplements.

Vegetables, especially leafy greens, is something that is lacking in most peoples diets and should be at the heart of what we eat. Supplements are exactly that, they supplement your diet, they do not replace it. There are certain things that most of us need to supplement with because of lifestyle, like vitamin D (it is best to be tested to check if you do need it), B12 for those who are on a plant based diet, and most people could benefit from Omega 3 EPA & DHA, which are now also derived from seaweed and not only fish (these are essential fatty acids found in fish, but with overfishing and contamination of oceans there are questions about ethical and health implications of fish consumption). Still, what supplements will benefit you will depend on your indidvidual needs and there is a huge difference in terms of quality.

The most important thing to keep in mind is what we eat now, and yes I am talking fruit and veg here, is nothing like what people used to eat even a couple of hundred years ago. So you can forget about going on the bases of what people 'were meant to eat'. People adapt to what is available, which is not necessarily what is best for us. There are no short cuts, if you want to feel the best you need to stop dieting and start eating well, and yes you will have to be the one who figures it out for yourself. There are some great nutritionists who can guide you, but they can not do that without working with each person individually. It does not mean that everyone needs expert help, you can learn how to find the best way of eating for yourself. I really like the following books: 'Skin cleanse' by Adina Grigore, 'Eat pretty' by Jolene Hart, and 'Eat, nourish, glow' by Amelia Freer. The first book's main focus is skin, so it does not only talk about nutrition but also beauty products. All three books have certain points in common but have slightly different approaches with what foods they consider healthy (again we are not talking processed junk food), yet they all give you tools to find your own way of eating rather than giving you a step by step cookie cutter diet, which is never going to work for everyone.

I will be doing more posts on nutrition in general. Is there something in particular you would like me to write about? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

New and upcoming launches



While I do not love cold weather and the early onset of darkness, when it comes to green beauty the pre Christmas time is pretty amazing. Not only are there loads of discounts floating about but there are always some fantastic new product launches and limited edition gift sets. Also a few intriguing green beauty goodies are on the verge of being released. There have been so many things that caught my eye, but I managed to whittle it down to just a few that I am personally most excited about.


Leahlani Skincare are having a complete makeover. If you follow them on social media, you probably have been waiting for this since spring, it looks like we won't have to wait too much longer. Not only is all the packaging getting a face lift, there will be not one but three new products. Two new face masks and a multipurpose balm. I have been waiting to get my hands on this magical balm for oh so long, but now I am absolutely torn because Leahlani's masks tend to be pretty epic. I give up, I have no idea which of the three upcoming launches sound more exciting.

Kari Gran has teamed up with Jolene Hart (the author of "Eat Pretty") to create a limited edition lip colour. It is the most beautiful vibrant pink, and as soon as I saw it my heart was beating a little bit faster. It is already available for purchase, and is even stocked at one of my favourite online boutiques the Choosy Chick (who will be have 15% off the entire store between 27th-30th of November with the code THANKS15). I absolutely love Kari Gran lip whips, the texture is heavenly and this colour in particular is simply stunning.



Itha London seem to have a lot going on. Not only are they working on stunningly beautiful new colours, it also looks like there will be products in tube packaging as well. I have reviewed the line in the past, and I absolutely can not wait for them to release their new goodies. This promises to be seriously good. I am definitely keeping a watchful eye on them.


Terre Verdi is a small UK brand with Italian roots. They already managed to win a number of awards and just recently made a big change with their packaging. Some of the products are also different in their formulations, and they have brought out a number of single oils. Most of the line is certified organic with Cosmos (at the moment only 2 products are not certified). I am particularly excited about the Orange coffee cleansing mask which is not yet available online. I had a play with it at their pop up shop in South Kensington. I thought it sounded really interesting and I will be giving it a test drive shortly. Terra Verdi have a 20% off with the code BLACK20 valid until midnight GMT on Friday 27th of November.



So these are my top current and future launches, however I feel there are a few more that deserve a mention. La Bella figura has just released two beauty creams. Gressa have brought out a gorgeous purple colour. There is a brand new kid on the block, Holistic Green beauty. I am currently testing a couple of products, so you hopefully it won't be too long before a review. Content beauty have released a gorgeous limited edition well being box that would make a fabulous Christmas present (seriously if anyone got this for me I would be bouncing from happiness like a three year old hyped up on sugar). Also while these are not new products they have just now become stocked in UK: Vintner's daughter is available at Naturisimo ( until 1st of December you can enter BLACK15, or BLACK20 if you are spending over a hundried pounds, for some money off ) and Kypris is now available at Selfridges.



What products are you waiting for to get released? Any exciting new launches that you have come across? Let me know in the comments.


Friday, 20 November 2015

Fom London event

Last year I found out about a new natural beauty store, Janna Organic. Obviously it went on my must visit list. You can imagine my excitement when it turned out that Fom London was holding an event at this exact venue. I do love it when things work out that way, getting to spend time with the face behind the brand and explore a new to me green beauty store, perfection.

Janna Organic has a wonderful range of brands, with a lot of more budget friendly choices. I spotted some of my personal favourites: Lyonsleaf, Suvana and Pukka. It is not just beauty for the outside, there are plenty of delicious things to boost your glow from within on the shelves too. Of course Fom London is also stocked here.

I feel like I have been aware of Fom for a few years, yet I never tried anything from the brand until last night. When approaching the table I spotted three aromatherapy bottles, yeah you know it, one of those was the very first thing I opened up. I honestly was not expecting to be blown away, I have tried so many blends, and anyone who follows me on social media is probably aware of my favourite brand. Well, I was rather shocked to find that I thought these were just as good. At the moment the blends come as a trio, and are not available individually, but all three are seriously worth having. The mood booster could easily double up as a perfume, so delicious. Zaga, the founder of Fom, suggested that the best way to use them was not on the pulse points but rubbing a little bit between the palms of your hands, cupping your hands in front of your face and then inhaling. This way you will get the most aromatherapeutic benefits from the blends.

I was pleasantly surprised by the scents and textures of all the products, but of course a few things stood out. The cream cleanser for one. Not only does it double up as a makeup remover, it does not have any essential oils that could potentially irritate your eyes and it rinses off cleanly with just water. You do not need to mess around with a wash cloth (you know I do not love dealing with cloths). The eye cream felt super light, and definitely piqued my interest. With my latest body scrub obsession it really is not surprising that I was curious about the one from Fom. The whole body range has the same fresh almost lemony scent, so it is not just the scrub that smells this heavenly, the body oil and butter do to. But the most interesting thing about the scrub was that Zaga assured everyone that it does not leave an oily film. The scrub looked completely set, there were no particles floating in oil or anything like that. It is sugar based but it has some salt in there too. I was very intrigued, apparently I am not the only one since it is sold out on their website! It is still available on Love Lula.

I loved finding out about the brand. It was very reassuring to hear that Zaga worked with cosmetic chemists to ensure the potency and efficacy of the products. They did not purchase any base lotions, all the formulas are completely unique to the brand. I could not find the full lists of ingredients on their website, I did read them for all the products at the event but my memory recall is far from that of good Will Hunting unfortunately. I did not spot anything that I personally found problematic, the preservative used in the water based products was phenoxyethanol (I know not everyone's skin agrees with it, but I have not had issues so far).

Fom is about to undergo rebranding, so once things sell out they are likely to stay that way until all the new packaging is ready to be rolled out (this will be at some point in the new year). In the meantime if you would like to try some of the products out for yourself I have a code for you guys. You can get 20% off on all the products purchased directly from Fom by using EVENT20. The code expires at midnight on Monday (23 of November) so you don't have that much time. Another perk is that they have free worldwide delivery.

Are you guys familiar with this brand? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Seasonal Gifts | Green people

There is no denying it, the season of gift giving is so close that I am starting to panic a little. Normally I love getting presents for people, but generating ideas year after year for my nearest and dearest (who already have pretty much everything that I could afford to buy) is undeniably getting harder. A gift box of beauty products is always a good fail safe, especially when it is wonderfully presented.

Green people dialled up the cuteness factor with their limited edition collection in support of woodland trust. There are four different selection boxes: for face, body, hands, and even one for the guys. Each one is represented by a different animal and the illustrations on the packaging are absolutely amazing. I have been testing the hand care gift set* for the past month, which is represented by the badger.

Inside the box there are two differently scented 50ml tubes of hand cream. Lavender and rose geranium smells fantastic, sweet and lightly floral, it is fairly strong fragrance but not to the point of becoming of putting. The texture is light and the lotion sinks in like a dream, there is no stickiness or residue left behind. The size makes it easy to chuck into a handbag for use  through out the day. Ho wood and red mandarin has a slightly thicker texture, I tend to use it when my hands are feeling extra dry. It still doesn't leave any residue, which I find very impressive. The scent is not as strong and a little unusual, there is a mixture of sweet fruit, green leaves and a subtle woodsy note. Both creams are quiet concentrated, I only need a tiny blob for my hands to feel nicely hydrated. I only tend to need to reaply after washing my hands, the creams do a fab job at combating dryness.

From every purchase of this gift set Green people donate 50p to the woodland trust. If you are not familiar, Woodland trust are a UK conservation charity that protects forests from destruction, restores ancient woodlands and protects the wildlife who inhibits them. The hand creams are also made with 91% organic ingredients. The quality of the products, the sentiment behind them and creative illustrations make it a truly wonderful gift. After getting acquainted with the badger set, I find myself being very tempted by the fox.

Did any of the green people gift sets catch your eye? Let me know in the comments.

*PR sample, all opinions are honest and my own based on my personal experience with the products. That is just how I do things.

Monday, 16 November 2015

La Bella Figura | Happiness Therapy

As much as I would like for the opposite to be true, not every day is awesome. Some days are just average, and others can be truly disastrous. Yet no matter what life throws at us, we still have certain responsibilities. Even though hiding from the world under the duvet is what I want to do on occasion, facing difficult circumstances head on is the only real choice. On occasion, there is nothing to face really, I'm just not feeling chipper and doing my best impression of the grumpy cat. Regardless of the cause for my bad mood, I don't particularly enjoy being in it, no matter how justified. My first point of action is rubbing an aromatherapy treatment on pulse points, followed by closing my eyes and doing a yoga breathing exercise.  These two things complement each other so well, and while controlled breathing is amazing all on its own, paired up with a therapeutic blend takes things to another level.

La Bella Figura are becoming more and popular because of their skincare potions, but let us not forget that the founders original passion also involved perfume. Their scents Istanbul and Barcelona are still some of my favourites, so it was no surprise I wanted to get my hands on the Happiness Therapy mood booster pretty much as it came out. 

The ingredients:
Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Gardenia Tahitensis (Tahitian Tiare), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut Pulp) CO2*, Psidium Guajava (Guava Leaf), Citrus Aurantium (Bergamot), Rosa Damascena (Rose Otto) Essential Oil* and Therapeutic Clinical Grade Essential Oils Blend. 
*Certified Organic

The essential oils that have been listed promote feeling of relaxation and bergamot in particular is supposed to help ease anxiety. Rose Otto is one of the most expensive essential oils on the market (come to think of it, it well may be the most expensive), it has a magnificent delicate scent that helps keep you calm through emotional or tense times. The blend as a whole has a bit of a tropical vibe, yet despite being on the sweet floral side, it is very fresh. There are no powdery notes at all, and the whole combo reminds me a bit of a ripe papaya. Every time I open the Happiness Therapy I'm definitely thinking sunshine and holidays.

Not only does this mood booster work like a charm, the bottle travels really well in my handbag. I haven't experienced any leakages. I keep it with me at all times just in case I need a little cheering up, you never know what the day will bring you. I like to be optimistic but prepared.

What your favourite aromatherapy blends? Have you tried anything from La Bella Figura? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Bookshelf | Naked Fashion

I always find that a good book makes you think. There is definitely plenty of food for thought in "Naked Fashion" by Safia Minney. The way it is presented makes me think of a magazine: lots of interviews, photos, and info graphics. It is very visually engaging, no doubt about that, yet the message in the begging is not so pretty.

The opening pages ask you a simple question: Why are the clothes you buy so cheap? I mean who doesn't love a bargain, and personally I love to take advantage of a good sale. Yet if the cost of a garment is seriously low from the get go, not only is there not much further to fall, but surely it raises some eyebrows, how is it even possible? When you consider the chain of production starting from the raw material, that is made into fabric, sewn into your garment, and only than is presented in the store, at each point there are people involved. Taking into account that everyone, including the shop staff, needs to get payed, surely someone is a looser? In the very first chapter you get to see some of the people who got handed the short end of the stick from the fast fashion industry, and read their stories.

However, this book is not just about pointing out what is wrong,  it presents solutions with real life examples. Safia Minney is the founder of People Tree, not surprisingly the brand features in the book, but it is far from being the main focus. There are interviews with artists, photographers, industry insiders, people who not only chose the ethical way of doing business, but also have done so successfully. Some of the more familiar names are probably Orla Kiely and Emma Watson. I loved all the interviews, one of the most entertaining in a way was with Adam Harvey, an account manager at a creative agency. He let a picture of himself, wearing an unbuttoned shirt, be used to demonstrate what a difference photo touch up creates. There are three photos side by side: the untouched original, a 'natural' touch up, and one with a lot more work (which sort feels like the industry standard judging by some magazine pictures). You can see just your sort of decently built guy from the first picture, get transformed into someone who is sporting a six pack and somehow lost all body hair (not that there was loads to begin with). Also suddenly his shoulders were seriously wider. With editing programs at our fingertips possibilities are endless, it is so easy to reconstruct photos to the point that they are nothing like the original, and it is a little bit sad. Of course it is absolutely amazing the potential creative force of graphics, but should it be at the cost of our self esteem, or the actual art of photography? 

This book looks at the impacts of the fashion industry as whole: from the effects of growing cotton, to the treatments of models. It is beautifully put together, and printed on FSC paper. Even though it was published in 2011, and some things have changed, unfortunately the message is still painfully relevant. There will be a new book, "Slow Fashion", coming out in January 2016, I can not wait to get my hands on it.

I would love to hear what you guys think! Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Body Deli blueberry fusion micro-scrub review

I find facial scrubs to be a super awkward category of beauty products. People get really excited about exfoliation, with most decently formulated products you see pretty immediate results: smoother, more even toned skin and your other products suddenly work so much better. As is human nature, there is a temptation to exfoliate more often in the hopes that it will be even better for your skin. Doing that isn't really a great idea, it could interfere with your normal skin function and make it sensitised. To top it all up I don't believe that everyone even needs to exfoliate, and most definitely not all the time. If you are using konjac sponges or muslin cloths daily, you are not likely to need a weekly scrub as you are in away already exfoliating your skin. Generally speaking exfoliators are more useful when we get older, because the rate at which our skin regenerates slows down. If you do decide to go down this route, there are two types: physical or chemical. Here is where it gets even trickier as physical scrubs require harder particles, and depending on what is used, could be abrasive as they effectively use the rubbing action of these particles to buff away the dead skin cells. Chemical exfoliants involve acids (in this case AHA, BHA, and LHA) and instead of you physical polishing off the dead skin cells, they do their business over time by just sitting on the skin (that is probably why most effective products are supposed to be the ones you can leave on, i.e. toners, face creams, and things like acid face washes aren't considered effective as they simply don't stay long enough on the skin). I tend to go on what is happening with my skin day by day, so I end up exfoliating a couple of times a month (let us not forget I am in my thirties), with a mild physical scrub. I don't really like leave on products with acids and as the wash off products are supposedly a waist of money, they just did not seem relevant to my skin care.

So how on earth did I end with The Body deli blueberry fusion micro-scrub? Well because it has blueberries, obviously! On a more serious note, I tried several Body deli products, which I really liked, curiosity and a discount code did the rest. What is very interesting about this product is that it is a sort of fusion, it contains AHAs in the form of lactic, malic, and citric acids (from milk, fruit, and citrus fruit respectively), but it also has a physical exfoliator in the form of diatomaceous earth (remains of oceanic unicellular algae). The presence of puree from blueberries and acai, plus juices from pomegranate and black cherries, also made this product extremely interesting to me. As a rule, since AHAs are water soluble, products containing them are recommended for people with normal skin, as it won't dissolve oil plugs. I am not too in love with the idea of a static skin type, your skin changes with the season, climate, stress levels, so unless you are in a country with pretty constant weather, and everything else in your life is rather constant, chances are you will experience your skin going through several reincarnations. Judging by the info on the jar it claims to effectively remove dull, dry, and damaged skin cells (am I the only one who slightly cringes at the word dull when used to describe skin?). So clearly this was not designed to help combat blackheads. I do find that I enjoy using the blueberry scrub a lot more during the colder months, but even in the summer when my skin is more oily I do find it to be effective.

It is pretty easy to use, once you have cleansed your face, apply a quarter amount and gently massage in circular motion. Do not leave it on the skin, wash off straight away, this stuff is pretty potent and you will do more harm than good if you don't. I find I have to be pretty speedy, I'm not massaging my face for 5 minutes with this one, it is pretty much, put it on wash it off. The result is very smooth skin and an even complexion. So I don't know if it is the combination of all the ingredients, and not just the AHAs (or possibly the strength used), but I see a real difference. The only time I have experinced a slightly negative reaction was when I got distracted by a ringing phone, and did not wash of immediately, skin was pretty red for almost half our (and I'm talking serious here, I was considering if I should go see someone, but thankfully it went away). It is recommended to be used 2-3 times a week for best results. For me, I don't feel that it is necessary, once a week is plenty. It smells awesome, I definitely detect blueberries, sort of reminds of those berry smoothies, that you know aren't really the healthy kind, but they do taste nice. 

The jar is 2oz (60g), at my level of use it is pretty good value for money. Especially since it stays fresh for 12 months after opening, means I don't have to rush to finish the jar. If you did use it 2-3 times a week, my guess is it would last you somewhere around the 3 month mark. It has definitely made it to the list of my top 2 exfoliators, yet still I don't think it is a necessary product for anyone who is much younger than myself (effective basic skin care routine and an occasional face mask is more than plenty for most).

In UK the body deli is exclusively available at the a beautiful world, unfortunately at the moment this scrub is out of stock, but you can join a waitlist.

Have you tried this scrub? Anything else from the body deli? Let me know in the comments.