Tuesday 30 December 2014

Tea with La Bella Figura

It has finally happened, La Bella figura has finally crossed the pond! But you may not know why I am so excited about this fact. You see, for the past two years I have been eagerly awaiting for this brand to grace the shelves of Content. From my first order of travel size collection, to the last of their new makeup line (reviews here and here), I have been absolutely charmed by the luxury, performance and delightful scents of La Bella Figura products.

To top everything, Victoria ( one of two founders of LBF) was visiting London, and held a tea with the help of  the epic blogging duo that is Mayah and Sabrina from Call it Vanity (oh how I envy their organisational skills). It was a small intimate affair, with eight people attending, including two other wonderful bloggers Amber (Amber's Beauty Talk) and Lynda ( Wonderlusting). The venue was charming Camellia's tea house, on the second floor in the Kingsley court just of Carnaby street. The place itself was absolutely wonderful, with welcoming decor, friendly staff, completely unpretentious and very busy. After choosing our personal tea and cake, we were greeted with towering platters of sandwiches, scones and a wonderful selection of fruit. 

Of course the tea itself wasn't the main point of the occasion, we came to meet Victoria and chat beauty.

La Bella Figura has been around for four years and they still blend all their products in their own studio, however they feel that they have outgrown it, and will be moving to a different location at some point in the new year. What is even more exciting is this move will be accompanied by a whole new look for their products, and a bunch of new additions. All of which sound like something you wouldn't want to miss. In the UK they are starting with a capsule collection of four products, due to the length of EU accreditation process, with the hopes of bringing the entire line across. I could not resist asking Victoria what her favourite La bella figura product was. It turns out it is none other than the Barbary fig oil, which she uses not only on her face but also her hair. I loved finding out that Victoria and Karen visited all of their suppliers and that the Barbary fig oil they use comes from Tunisia (hence why they refer to it as Barbary fig rather than prickly pear).

Since we were talking all the things beauty, naturally other brands came up and it turns out that Victoria loves supporting other green brands and some of her favourites were Laurel, W3ll people, May Lindstrom, Kjaer Weis and Gressa ( I am sure there were others but these are the ones I remembered). I am sad to report that a Night for Green Beauty is not coming to Europe, but the ladies from La Bella figura ( Victoria in particular) is hoping to come back in the spring. Personally I am eagerly awaiting new additions to the La Bella Figura line and who knows, maybe a London perfume is on the cards.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Christmas Wishes

Christmas is my favourite time of year. I don't mean just the actual few days when everyone gets to take time off work I mean pretty much the whole month of December, and let's throw in the New Year's eve in to the mix too! The whole build up is something I look forward to every year, ticking of each day with an advent calendar (this year it happened to be an advent candle), searching for those perfect presents, sipping on mulled wine while watching Christmas movies, decorating the tree with bobbles in all the different colours. Our tree has always been a mish mash of rainbow coloured lights, gaudy bobbles and a little bit too much tinsel, a far cry from a stylish arrangement you find on a pages of a magazine, and that is exactly how we like it.

When it comes to the day itself spending it with family is what makes it perfect for me. Bucks fizz and nibbles in the morning, swapping gifts, playing board games and just general catching up. Followed by THE Big Lunch, random Christmas specials that are on TV, possibly a movie if someone has a DVD as a present, and more gifts (this time little ones) as soon as it is dark. Now I will admit that I am very partial to the present receiving part of the holiday, but this year it so happened that we had significantly fewer family gatherings then in all the years past, and I really miss everyone. I am just really looking forward to catching up. I always have this feeling that something magical is just around the corner during this time of year, like something wonderful is about to happen.

I hope that you get to have your own perfect version of Christmas be it spending the time with your family lazying about in pyjamas, dressing up and having dinner parties with friends (aka extended family), travelling and exploring new shores or spending it with just one significant other cuddled up under a mistletoe. Whatever it maybe I hope you get it, I wish that you may never loose that Christmas magic that makes ones life feel full of wonder. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Friday 19 December 2014

In pursuit of energy...

The hustle and bustle of everyday life can sure take it's tall. There is always a million things to do and not enough hours in the day. This constant race against time can leave one with zero energy. The best and simplest option is to slow down, and when that fails to be a viable solution there is always a way to cheat.

A good diet is a corner stone of having more energy, but it is just inevitable that we all feel a bit less ready for action during winter. The daylight hours are scarce, most of us leave for work in the dark and come back home in the dark, vitamin D deficiency is a strong possibility for anyone in UK. Finding a quality supplement that works for you could make all the difference, but of course you should seek advice from a health care professional if you are experiencing serious fatigue. When I am a little low on energy my not so secret weapon is Pukka Vitalise. It comes in both capsule and powder form, I find capsules more convenient. It is a blend of 30 energising botanicals including beetroot, bilberry and ginseng, and it is vegetarian. I find Vitalise to be a huge help as long as I am actually taking them, I often eat at odd hours and half the time don't eat at home, makes it a bit trickier to keep up with taking supplements. I do feel the difference fairly quickly, within a few days, and I have been taking them on an off for the past three years. The only supplement that I have repurchased time and time.

What could be better than a cup of coffee? Well coffee is actually not that great for you, sure it perks you up for a little while but it also a diuretic and washes out all the good stuff like vitamins and minerals from your system that little bit faster. As a rule of thumb I only have coffee on occasion when meeting up with girlfriends for a daytime catchup. Now the Ministry of Herbs coffee (specially blended for Being Content) is a whole other cattle of fish. This brew looks pitch black but although the taste is slightly reminiscent of coffee, the resemblance in my opinion is not that strong. It is very enjoyable in its own right with a hint of chocolate and cinnamon. It really does perk you up (maybe not as much as coffee but it also doesn't come with a midday slump like the former).

Sense of smell is a powerful thing. A scent can bring out forgotten childhood memories, make you feel unwell, take you to a happy place or even make you feel more awake. I always have the Neal's yard Energy roll on in my bag, it is perfect for when I am out and about. The remedies to roll are a mixture of essential oils in a sunflower oil base. The energy one in particular is a combination of rosemary, lavender, grapefruit, geranium and vetiver. The citrusy herbal scent never fails to make me feel a little more alive. When I know that a long day is ahead of me I turn to Lotus Wei, a little Pure Energy perfume on pulse points first thing in the morning and a top up with the Mist in the same scent through out the days keeps me going. This one is a mixture of essential oils and flower remedies of grapefruit, cinnamon, pomegranate, black pepper amongst other things, and all the spicy notes make this scent very unusual, but hey it works a treat. After a night out or a long flight it can feel like the pull of gravity is just too much and the foggy head syndrome hits you like a tone of bricks. La Bella Figura Travel therapy is the ticket to feeling a little closer to your normal self. Blue tansy is the star of this potion and what gives this therapeutic blend its cheerful blue colour, making you feel more relaxed and less stressed. Blood orange and rose lift up your spirits.

None of the above make short winter days feel even remotely like summer, but they do make me feel like winter is not so bad. Of course these are not really seasonal products but that is when I find myself relying on them more.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Gressa skin minimalist makeup

While my love for makeup has no bounds I also like to look like me, it is always a battle between being true to myself and having fun with the latest colours. Natural beauty can be a bit of an oxymoron when it comes to makeup, there is nothing natural about London Bus red lips no matter where the pigments came from, but it is so much fun hunting down that perfect shade of pink or a flattering dark berry. Seeing yourself transformed from a girl next door in to a sexy seductress by the virtue of a smokey eye. Makeup looks have their own language and they say as much about the wearer as they do about the occasion.

Gressa Skin Minimalist glamour collection is the new wave of makeup that also nourishes your skin, for the moment the collection consists of corrective serum foundation, contouring serum bronzer, illuminating serum and six lip boosts. I have tried all of the above (not all the lip boosts though) but in this post I want to talk about the three products that have become a corner stone of my own makeup language.

Corrective Foundation Serum.

The very first ingredient in this foundation is Broccoli seed oil. This oil gives a similar slip to that of silicone, no other oil comes close to the silkiness of this one and you can only imagine how truly wonderful the serum feels on the skin. If it was not for the colour I would be convinced that this is a luxurious skin care and not an item of makeup. I use three drops and that is enough for the entire face. The shade that I have is 02, and right now it is perfect, during the summer I will be opting for 03. The coverage is light to medium, and it looks exactly like it should, your own even toned complexion. This product doesn't really compare with anything else out there it is effectively a tinted face oil, I don't need to use anything special to prime my face, just a light oil or moisturiser is all that is needed and this foundation serum actually feeds my skin with it's impressive ingredients like barberry and sea buckthorn extract. The dropper bottle makes it really easy to control the amount of product.

Lip boost Bare.

 I always like the idea of pale nude pink lips, and then I look in the mirror and am more than a little horrified. The shade just makes me look like the risen dead, I know how gorgeous it can look on other people but I have not been able to pull it off. Until the Bare lip boost that is. It is one of those colours that goes so well with the "I've just rolled out of bed hair and Bambi eyes" (you know like in the Hollywood movies, where the heroin has been supposedly caught before having a chance too get all made up, but looks all fresh and stunning).
I find the texture of this product extremely interesting. It is harder than other potted lip products that I have come across, you really need a good lip brush for best results, and it seems like it might be drying but actually on the lips it feels so creamy, and it imparts just a touch of glossiness. Even when my lips are feeling slightly dry I don't use a lip balm under it and my lips feel transformed within a minute. There is no obvious scent to the lip boosts, just the mixture of ingredients, and I actually prefer it for makeup not to be scented.

Lip boost Radiant. 

Most of the above applies to Radiant, although I think bare is a little creamier in the pot but only just a smidgen. The main difference is the colour and how it behaves. Radiant is an absolutely gorgeous orchid, that happens to be both extremely vibrant yet somehow not over the top, I have never ever come across a more flattering lip product in this shade. It also leaves a tint behind that lasts for hours. I love how you can vary the intensity of the shade depending on how much product you use, and it has been my most used colour during this fall. Normally the next morning after a night out I find that my lips are a little cracked and very dry, however on both occasions when I wore radiant they were absolutely fine the next morning. You only need a tiny amount even for a bold lip, so a pot would last a very long time.

Every time I wear Gressa's foundation or lip boost, I know I am also looking after my skin, I am not wearing a mask I am giving my complexion a little boost, and the choice of lip colour reflects my mood, bare for chilled and relaxed, radiant for playful and ready to bring the house down.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

The "Me Time" tag

The lovely Amber (Amber's beauty talk) tagged me to share a few things about my down time as I call it. I think it is healthy to carve out some alone time and here is how I spend those precious moments.

What do you watch or read during me-time?

I love to read and I especially like fantasy, just something about magic, dragons, knights and heroins that are not afraid to kick ass that really appeals to me. I am in between books at the moment but some of my favourite authors are Juliet Marillier (seven waters trilogy in particular), Peter V. Brett, Brent Weeks, Trudi Canavan, Patrick Rothfuss, Simon R Green and Maggie Furey.

I don't really watch proper TV, I'm more of a NetFlix and On demand person. I like to have TV series marathons where I try to get through as many episodes as humanly possible in one go. I just finished watching all 8 seasons of House and thinking on starting on House of cards. I also like watching old and slightly twisted movies like Splendour in the Grass and La Dolce Vita. If I'm feeling a bit down I turn to Rom Coms (The Holiday is a fave) or reality TV that doesn't require much thought, something like The Real Housewifes of OC (appalling TV as Mr RF calls it).

What do you wear during me time?
Without a doubt a pair of checked brushed cotton PJ bottoms and a soft T-shirt "borrowed" from Mr RF, and a pair of brown cashmere socks. It is a relaxation uniform of sorts.

What are your me-time products? 

It depends on when in the day is the "me-time" happening. In the evenings I like to have bath accompanied by a candle and some salts. I always have a few types of bathing salts on hand, Bon Grapefruit and rosemary salts are very refreshing and a little different from my usual rose. In the day time I am more likely to do a face mask, I often customise white clay with fresh carrot juice, oils or floral waters depending on how my skin is feeling. Once in a blue moon I give myself a proper manicure and even use a cuticle oil. I really like the one from RL Linden that came in one of the limited edition seasonal boxes, those boxes are so well put together, pretty much everything you need for a fabulous pamper session. To make things feel a little more special I spray my surroundings with Lotus Wei Infinite Love and put on on some music.

 What do you eat/drink during me-time?

I like to make myself little nibble platters of bite size veg and dips, or fruit and cheese ones depending on what I have in the kitchen. It is often a selection of some of the following: celery, pepper, olives, carrots, home made aubergine dip, mozzarella, goat cheese, figs, Sharon fruit, apples, grapes and pomegranate. My love for tea and herbal infusions has no bounds, I normally make a pot and slowly sip it from the May Lindstrom "I am love" cup. I absolutely adore this sipping bowl and it makes the tea ritual even more special. Some of my favourite teas are from Ministry of herbs for Content and Solaris Botanicals. If I'm not in the mood for tea then I will make a fresh juice, carrot, celery, tomato and parsley combo is my go to.

Current favourite essential oil?

At the moment I am loving refreshing scents so sweet orange and peppermint combination like in the badger cheerful mind is at the top of the list. Also I can't get enough of cinnamon during the holiday season, such a comforting spicy scent.

Do you have outdoor me-time?

Right now? That would be a no, seriously cold weather is not my thing! In the summer on the other hand there is nothing better than finding a quiet corner in the park with a book and an ipod (yes I read and listen to music at the same time), or sunbathing in the garden with a mocktail.

Would you ever see a movie alone?

Err should I be admitting to this? Yes I would, and I'm even happy to go to a cinema by myself, I haven't done that in years but I used to all the time after school, and when I was in college too. I always passed a cinema on my way back home so if there was a movie that caught my eye I would just go in. I always preferred cinema to TV even when I was 3, and if you go alone it's just a different experience somehow. I love going to see a movie with friends but don't see a problem with going by myself if I so wish.

Favourite online shop?

Even though I shop a lot online, I don't really have an absolute favourite but I prefer shopping at places like Being Content and A beautiful world, where there are many different brands, an easy shopping experience, fab customer service and even free shipping options available. If we are talking clothing it tends to be People Tree, Hush-Uk or Atterley Road.

Anything to add? What else do you do during me-time?

I think I would go absolutely crazy without having some alone time every so often. I don't even have to be doing anything special just relaxing for a few hours with music, or doing some yoga is plenty. The most important thing is that I am just left with my thoughts so I can reflect on what is happening and how I am feeling in that particular moment. It is all about finding a balance of being around people and socialising and spending some quality time on your own.

I am tagging:

Liz from Well Meaning Being
Nic From Organic Obsessions
Britanie from Beauty by Britanie

Thursday 4 December 2014

Winter Chronicles: skin and mind saviours

Winter is a funny season. I always look forward to it namely for the promise of presents, delicious food and family board games at Christmas. Yet I also loath the cold bitter winds, constantly grey sky and the looming possibility of snow, that looks super pretty when it is all white and fluffy, but somehow without fail lands me on my arse at least once when I try to walk on the icy pavement. Again, the season wins me over with mulled wine and roast chestnuts, cute and cosy jumpers. While I tell everyone who would listen how much I am not a fan of winter, I know that deep down I do actually like it, because it lets me rest. The truth is I sometimes get tired of socialising, I need to be away from people to recharge my batteries and when it's cold outside and gets dark around four, staying at home is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I can relax with a glass of wine, wrap up in a blanket with a good book, or maybe even run a bath, not something I would be doing during the summer around six in the evening. That being said I still find winter hard to get through, maybe if I could take a long hibernating vacation it wouldn't be so bad, but I do have to brave the elements and carry on with things as normal no matter how much I would rather stay inside enjoying the warmth.

My skin really dislikes the cold and needs that extra layer of protection that only balms seem to be able to provide. I finally cracked the Blue Cocoon code. This little beauty from May Lindstrom is a perfect winter companion. First I spray my face with Yuli Cocoon elixir, this is super soothing toner that gives my skin an extra hydration boost (previously reviewed here), followed by a half a pea sized amount of Blue cocoon. It is like a double protective cocoon!

The two products work so well together, protecting my skin from wind and central heating. Yuli toners are like nothing else I have ever tried. They make my skin the best version of itself and cocoon especially takes care of any sensitivities. May Lindstrom's balm smells so good, it instantly calms me down when I am feeling stressed. I use it on my pulse points for the arometherapeutic benefits through out the day and it also makes a rather fabulous moisture boosting mask. All you need to do is apply it thickly, leave it on of about 20 minutes and wipe of with a damp face cloth, voila baby soft skin.

I do find myself drinking more tea to stay functional, but there is only so many cups I can have before setting up a permanent residence in the ladies, so I had to look for another option to ignite that winding spark of energy. Bodhi & Birch Mint the temple balm is a pot of pure magic, that sharpens your senses, makes you feel cool, calm and collected and can even relieve headaches. You can also use this to ease muscular aches and panes, or rub it on sore tired feet. I don't find holiday season stressful per say but I don't leave the house with out this balm. Sometimes just opening the jar and inhaling the minty, intermingled with eucalyptus aroma is all it takes to make me feel more present in the moment.

While I have been proctoring Yoga for a few years now, meditation side of things has always been more than a little tough. I have no problems with a guided meditation, but just sitting (or lying down) and breathing by myself ... Like always having a ritual seems to be the trick, rubbing a little Badger yoga and meditation balm before self practise, helps me have the right frame of mind. I feel like I'm not just sitting there, with each inhale the essential oils help me relax, sort of like hitting a reset button on a computer, I am less sluggish and much more alert after the fact.

Blow drying my hair is something that I try to avoid, during the colder months it becomes an almost weekly occurrence. My best friend to protect my hair from the heat is Yarok Feed Your Ends conditioner, it smells like summer, makes hair easily manageable and silky soft despite the hair dryer. I can't believe how big a difference this product makes to the health of my hair, without it after blow drying my hair looks more like straw and my bouncy waves all but disappear.

I would never dream of going outside in the winter cold without a lip balm. De Mamile rosey Lip balm is a blend of nourishing oils including camelia, monoi, evening primrose and has the most delightful rose scent to perk up the senses. This one is a must for every rose lover, the consistency of the balm is perfect to go under lipstick, it sinks in very quickly without an oily residue and leaves my kissers super smooth.

Normally hand products are far from a priority for me, but the winter season completely changes things, my hands become dry as parchment and need some serious tlc. Bohdi & Birch Lime blossom protecting hand serum, is very special. Not only does it smell like a tropical fruit cocktail, making me want to apply it more often than necessary, it completely transforms my skin. My hands feel so smooth I can't help but stroke them every so often to double check that I am not imagining things. Serum sinks in faster than any cream, and all is needed is one pump. This is creme de la creme of hand care and easily doubles as a cuticle treatment.

I am not sure I will ever be a true winter fan, but I always have these beautiful  products to turn too and enjoy, regardless of what the season throws my way.

Monday 1 December 2014

Tis the season for bathing

After a long difficult day a bath is a perfect way to relax, with the days getting colder and shorter I find myself longing for the feel of hot water on my skin almost daily.

For me a bath is an experience, an hour to myself, to forget the outside world, and leave all the worries behind. I like to set the scene, an aromatic candle a glass of cool water with a slice of lemon and something to sprinkle in the tub. All of these things make it a ritual, transform an ordinary soak into something that helps me feel restored at the end of it. Normally my sprinkle of choice is bath salts, but I do like to experiment.

Skinlix Decadent Chocolate Bath Milk* is a very curious concoction of organic milk powder, organic cacao powder, sodium bicarbonate and epsom salts. The salts help relax the muscles, the rest of the ingredients soften the water and give your skin a helping hand. Adding a few handfuls to the running water turns your bath into what looks like "peach beer" (ahem quoting Mr.RF). This is not really a scented product, so if you are hoping for a bathroom that smells like chocolate this is not it, when the powder first hits the water there is a chocolaty scent but it doesn't really linger for long (I think you would need to use a lot of product for that to happen). In the pot the scent reminds me of German rye bread, earthy spiciness, a very homey scent.

After the bath my skin feels wonderfully soft, I am sure this has something to do with the gentle exfoliation that milk and baking soda provide. I am really not a fan of bath oils but bath milks are really starting to grow on me. This chocolate treat ticks all the boxes, relaxes my muscles, softens the water and my skin without me feeling like I need to take a shower to remove residue of my skin. Forget Cleopatra, who wants to bathe in plain old milk if you can bathe in chocolate.

You can get 10% of Skinlix until the 25 of December with the code BLOG.

*PR sample, all the opinions are my own based on my personal experience with the product.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Fall diaries: makeup favourites

It is the last day of autumn and in the final Fall Diaries post I wanted to share what makeup I have been reaching for the past few months. Each season seems to inspire certain colours in me, sometimes they coincide with what the magazines and latest fashions dictate and sometimes they don't. This autumn my favourite makeup selections were built around lilac, teal and orchid with a stronger focus on the eyes.

Lips and Nails.

Rms have done it again, the lip shine in Royal is a gorgeous shade of lilac, which can be worn sheer or very intense. It works both for day and night, and mixes well with different lipsticks (there will be a post on that). Curious is a muted orange that distantly reminds me of pumpkins, a perfect daytime colour to brighten up a rainy day. Gressa skin's radiant lip boost is an incredibly beautiful product, it transforms your lips, it goes on almost like a stain, with such a beautiful colour. The most flattering orchid I have ever come across.

I quiet like to match my lips and nails, Kure Bazaar in September is a perfect partner for Radiant. Intensae in irreverent is a dark morello cherry, that appeals to me during the colder seasons and is a perfect companion to smokey eyes. Priti NYC in tulip tree is a gorgeous teal, it is not as bright as most summery nail varnishes but still has that pop of colour, that livens up gloomy rainy days.


I always liked the smokey eye look and I have really enjoyed experimenting with the intensity of it this autumn. Living nature eye shadows in glacier*(grey with slight shimmer) and slate*(matt black) are absolutely sublime, the texture is so soft and silky, blend really well and stay put all day.

When I was feeling more adventurous or wanted to match my eyeshadow to my nails, Honey Bee gardens party girl palette is what I turned too. While the colours look really bright in the pans, they are actually very wearable. You can easily wear them as a wash of colour or build them up more intensely to line your eyes.

I am still enjoying all of the above choices so much that I am sure I will continue using them through out winter as well, maybe with a few more deep berry editions, I think with the cold weather and the party season up ahead it might be time to give in to the dark side of makeup.

*PR sample all the opinions are honest, my own and based on the experience with the product

Tuesday 25 November 2014

La Bella Figura More than Makeup

La bella Figura happens to be my krypronite, every time they come up with a new product I helplessly reach for my wallet, and then Mr RF has to wrestle it away from me. Hey the products are fabulous but they do come with a price tag that my pocket can't always handle, so it is nice to have someone who can be the voice of reason. So instead of immediately purchasing the whole range I keep saving up and getting one or two products here and there (impatiently waiting until the time my favourite London boutique will start stocking the range).

When the new make up line had a red lip colour and a gold highlighter the decision of what to get next made itself. As part of the order I also received samples of blush in Just Jenna (which I really wanted to get) and a limited edition Disco Queen Gloria (which immediately went to a friend to avoid temptation).

Golden Corrective Highlighter Brazilian Denise. Is a very warm buildable gold. It is a slightly paler shade of gold than I was expecting based on the picture, and it took me a few tries to make it work on me. I find that it does look best on my cheek bones and on the brow bones, I did not like it down the bridge of the nose or on my eyelid. I love the texture, it blends in seamlessly and gives me a glow that doesn't look sweaty or greasy. The shimmering particles are super fine, it looks more pearlescent than sparkly.

The highlighter has a slightly sweet, very pleasant scent. I find that it lasts all day, but when you apply it initially it goes on a little brighter, after 10-15 minutes after it had time to sink in, that is what it looks like for the rest of the day. The way I use it, it is not in your face make up, it is more of  a glow from within. My skin loves this product and I have been very pleased with how it enhances my features.

Radiant Creme Blush Just Jenna. What can I say, I really hope that this sample will last me a long time because I absolutely love this blush. You only need a tiny amount, and it immediately perks up your face. A good blush does wonders, you can skip all the rest of your makeup and still look fabulous, and Just Jenna is the best blush I have come across in a long time.

You can use the lightest touch or go bold with this one, it is very versatile. The colour is vivid orchid that seems to be neither overly cool nor too warm, I think it will work on most skin tones. It has slight floral scent that reminds me of roses. It lasts all day and is more intense at the beginning, just like the highlighter.

Hydrating Lip colour Lisette La Coquette. First of all I love the name, makes me think of innocent flirting and playful glances. The colour in the pan is a reddish plum, it is not that dark on the lips but does give your pout a dose of cranberry colour. It would not be my choice for an evening lipstick, but I love it for daytime.

It has a glossy finish and is indeed very moisturising, lip balm is sort of unnecessary unless your lips are seriously dry. Because of that, the lasting power is somewhat similar to a tinted lip balm, you need to reapply every 2-3 hours if you want it too look more intense. The scent is rosy like Just Jenna. I think this is perfect for everyone who likes red lips from afar but isn't quiet brave enough for the London Bus experience, or anyone else wanting a more daytime friendly red lippy.

I continue to be in love with this line, and I am hoping they will expand their permanent collection of colours. I love how all of these work together, this makeup could easily take you from day to night, and as I am getting older I really appreciate that It is taking care of my skin. I love that the products make me feel glamorous and that it looks so effortless on, and the fact that I can be done in less than 5 minutes without touching a brush. This makeup line has all the bells and whistles, but allows you to nurture your inner minimalist, I mean I love getting ready as much as the next girl but surely we could all use that time for something else?

Saturday 22 November 2014

Christmas gift ideas

I love the run up to Christmas, all the shops come up with some cookie items that you never see for the rest of the year. The craft fairs with delicious food and handmade items, and of course the beauty gift sets. While the process of finding the right gifts can be immensely frustrating, it is also one that I really enjoy. I like coming up with a theme for a person and then creating a package that fits it.

All the gift bundles in this post are ideas of presents, and not really the exact things that I will be giving this year, simply because I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet. If you are curious about the beauty gift sets that I decided to go for here is the video.

For the Holistic beauty.

 This present bundle is for someone who likes the idea of approaching beauty from inside out and is happy to have a simple skincare routine.

Eat Pretty. Is a book full of insight, the cover is very girly but also fun and the advice is very sound.

Content Beauty skin tea. This is probably not the most delicious thing in  the world, but it is also not the worst. I found it to be really beneficial to my skin, and you can also use it topically in the form of a toner.

Morihata face cloth. This organic face cloth is fast drying and incredibly gentle, perfect to use with oil or balm cleansers, plus it look rather stylish.

Lyonsleaf beauty balm. This is your skincare routine in a jar, it is a cleanser and moisturiser, plus regular use of face cloth could make the need for exfoliator redundant.

For the Dreamer.

This is for someone who likes fairy tails, pretty things and making plans more so than actually pursuing them.

Alice in Wonderland and through the looking glass. The clothbound classics from Penguin is simply gorgeous to look at, it is a wonderfully crazy story that someone who hasn't lost their child like enthusiasm will likely appreciate.

Enamelled mirror. Continuing with the theme of the story, and one can not have too many cute looking compacts surely?

Marble and Milkweed rosy lip tint. This is a lovely, lightly tinted lip balm that  smells fabulous.

Lotus Wei  Holiday Cactus. Your own very version of the "Drink me" potion, helps to promote gratitude, awareness of your legacy, mindfulness. Tastes like honey berry nectar and helps you form a clearer picture of what you want to achieve.

For the Romantic.

This is for the person who likes a happy endings, candle light dinners and dainty things.

Pride and Prejudice. Another cloth bound classic, this is one of my favourite books, it takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotion, the writing transports to another time and yes the ending is a happy one.

People tree bow earrings and bracelet. Very delicate looking set that won't look out of place during the day or in the evening.

Indigo wild Zum lavender and mint candle. This gorgeous candle transforms a room in to a summer garden, perfect for relaxing in a bath or for setting the mood.

For the Adventurer:

This is for someone who is always on the go, enjoys the great outdoors and hasn't lost their sense of adventure.

Treasure Island (clothbound classic). You say adventure, I say treasure hunting and pirates. While it never makes me want to jump on a ship, it always inspires me to be more active and do something exciting.

People tree Pom Pom hat. One needs to keep warm during all the outdoorsy pursuits. People tree hats are always both stylish and functional.

Green people body brush. One of the best things to give your circulation a boost first thing in the morning, making you ready to face the day.

Badger balm muscle rub. You can use this little gem both before and after strenuous activity, soothes everyday aches and pains, every active person will benefit from it at some point.

Tension soother. When your day is jam packed with excitement there comes a time when you might need some help relaxing. Tension soother promotes calm, courage, and relaxed awareness when times get tough.

For the kitchen God/Goddess.

For foodies and anyone who enjoys coming up with their own recipes a festive food hamper is a great way to go. Just find an appropriate sized basket that you want to fill and go crazy at your local health store or a good supermarket. Possibilities are endless, you can have a theme like an Italian or Japanese cuisine and select items that fit, or just go for random choices of spices, preserves and pulses that you know the recipient enjoys. If you are looking for some slightly unusual ingredients Ottolenghi has you covered (and yes they deliver nationwide, and most things internationally).

Moleskin recipe journal is a perfect place to record all the fabulous creations that they come up with.

I hope this little guide has given you some ideas, and may you find Christmas shopping a pleasure this year.

Monday 10 November 2014

Pure & Light Organic Essential Toner review

For me toners are an essential part of my beauty ritual. The benefits of a good toner are noticeable after a few weeks and you get an occasional gem that soothes your skin almost instantly. There are different options available to help "purify" your skin (I am guessing that is a marketing term for help clear blemishes and clogged pores), "plump" your skin (that would be the ones for dry/mature skin), "revitalise" and so on. I divide toners in to two groups: wipe-off and spray-on. A wipe-off toners job is to remove any remnants of cleanser, and to bring skin's PH into balance after cleansing. Spray-on toners job is somewhat similar, to bring the skin's PH into balance and provide extra hydration before applying moisturiser, effectively sealing the toner before it evaporates.

One argument against the use of toners is that gentler formulations of cleanser no longer make it necessary to balance the PH levels, but that is only true if the cleanser that you are using is indeed that gentle. A well formulated toner however will help with your overall skin appearance and function, i.e. help it be less oily, or dry, or sensitive, generally bringing it closer to the happy middle. Over the years I have noticed that my skin is often happier with products designed for all skin types rather than something for oily/combination skin which is often too drying (and the normal/dry is often way too rich).

Pure & Light organic Essential toner* is one such product that has been formulated for all skin types and is recommended for people over the age of 18. The ingredient list consists of a combination of three organic distillates: orange blossom, geranium and rosemary. Orange blossom is often recommended for mature and dry skin types and it helps with general skin health, geranium helps balance hormonal skin and keep skin supple, rosemary has anti-bacterial properties and is fantastic for skin that tends to get congested.

I absolutely love the packaging of this toner. It is an airless pump container, and every time I use it I can feel the inside mechanism moving from the bottom, I think that is pretty fabulous and very clever. At the bottom of the bottle you can find both production date and expiry date (which I wish more companies would do), and once you started using your toner, it stays fresh for six months.

The scent is very mild and orange blossom is the more dominant, not surprising since it is the very first ingredient. I find this to be an excellent morning toner, I have been using it exclusively (morning and night) for the past two and a half weeks and I really like how it works for me. My skin is balanced and it helps keep the texture of my skin nice and smooth (something that only very few toners manage to do). The reason why I like this as a morning toner especially, is due to a short ingredient list. Before this toner was sent to me I have been using an Aloe hydrolat so my skin wouldn't get upset with a more active formula, and I found that Essential Toner* mixes happily with my morning skincare, without flaring up any sensitivities, and improves the appearance of my skin ( it just looks a bit smoother and pores seem a bit less noticeable). Honestly there wouldn't be anything more that I would look for from a toner. I find the quality of this one to be very high.

Now we come to the question of price. It retails for £35 which in itself is not a problem for me as I do tend to splurge on skincare and have a few pricey toners. However the size is 45ml (based on similar sized toners, I expect it to last about 3 months used once daily, with occasional twice daily use), making it a slightly rounded up £0.78 per millilitre, and it also makes the most expensive toner per millilitre in the organic beauty market that I know of. That being said I still feel that it is worth having and at the moment there are a couple of offers, if you spend £60 on the Pure & Light organic site you will get free shipping and a toner for free, and they also have a few Christmas gift sets that have the toner in them with really good savings.

If you live in London and want to see it in person before committing you can pop over to Janna Organic Remedies who carries the range in their store.

*This product was sent to me for a review. All the opinions are my own honest representations, based on my personal experience with the product. 

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Green Beauty on a budget: skincare

When it comes to green beauty I tend to get carried away, I love pretty packaging and feeling of luxury that some of the higher end products give. However there are plenty of brands that offer great results with quality ingredients without breaking the bank. Organic skincare doesn't have to be about saving for months to get a bottle of face oil, unless that is what you want. The choice is yours whether or not to splurge or save, but it is good to have options.

This time I am focusing on skincare, and if you fancy watching the video instead of reading (or maybe both) here it is.

Konjac sponge. I feel like I've talked about these a lot and here is a comprehensive behind the scenes post. These are £7.99 and if you look after them properly should last you around 3 months. This is a good morning cleanse option, or a second cleanse in the evening. If you use it regularly you won't need a separate exfoliator.

Lyonsleaf beauty balm*. This balm is an awesome all rounder, it can be used as a cleanser or as a moisturiser. Used with a hot cloth nightly a separate exfoliator also becomes unnecessary (well maybe once in a blue moon if you feel like it). Just massage a small amount into dry skin, let a damp hot cloth sit on your face for 30 seconds to loosen things up, and wipe off. Used as a moisturiser just apply a half a pea amount (a little more if your skin is dry) to damp skin, massage for a minute or so (face massage is great for your skin). It is £12.95 for 55ml.

Bathing beauty Miracle soap. This honey oat loaf of goodness is a great choice for a second cleanse. While I would not recommend most soaps for face use, this one is a good option. I would still limit it to every other day use, but you can see how your skin responds to it. It is £4 and will last you a good long time.

Essence of Eden organic coconut oil. While not everyone gets on with coconut oil, if you do it is a great inexpensive product. I mainly use it for makeup removal or to protect my face in a hot shower. A 300ml jar will set you back £14.00. There are other options of coconut oil out there, I don't think all of them are of equal quality and personally I didn't get on with some other coconut oils but this one works a treat.

Jason Aloe Vera pure beauty oil. This is a steal at £6.49 for 30ml. It is a multi purpose product for face and body, for the times when your skin is feeling sensitive or sun burnt. I also use it as an eye makeup remover. It only has three ingredient sunflower seed oil, aloe vera leaf gel, safflower seed oil and is USDA certified organic.

Odylique Spot-on Serum*. This product comes in 2 sizes for £15.00 you can get 60ml, or 20ml for £8.00. It can be used as a targeted spot treatment, or to soothe insect bites and minor skin damage. You get a lot of product for your money, and it is a really handy serum to have around on summer holidays.

Akamuti Flower water. I am a champion of toners, and flower waters offer really good skin benefits, my personal favourite is rose, however it really depends on your skin type. Akamuti chamomile water (pictured in old packaging, they now come in spray bottles) is £6.50 for 100ml and is a great choice when you want to be gentle with your skin.

Gaia creams veggie cocktail*. This product is very concentrated, and while 30ml will set you back £15.00 if used purely as a face moisturiser it will most likely last you pretty much the entire freshness period. However it is designed to be used both on face and body, so the choice is yours.

Our tiny bees purifying vitamin face mask. A great face mask is a must. This one is a mixture of white clay a kaolin, honey, oats and mango. It can be used both as a gentle scrub or as a mask. A 100ml jar comes to £7.95.

Jane Irredale magic mitt. This is the one product I forgot to mention in my video. On beauty bay it retails for £13.95. It is a make up remover, all you have to do is dampen the mitt and then gently wipe of your makeup. That is it, and yes it actually does remove every trace of makeup. Afterwards wash the mitt with soap (Dr Bronner's is good) and leave it to air dry. I have had mine for several years now and it still performs the same, however I have never used it for eye makeup removal, my eyes are super sensitive, I stick to a gentle oil blend for that.

*These products were sent to me/part of goodie bags, there was no explicit expectation of review or mentions. As always I only include the products that I genuinely like, all opinions are my own based on my experience with the products.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Fall diaries: The Outfit

When I was much younger, it feels like another lifetime, I would practically buy myself a whole new wardrobe with the beginning of each season. I am much wiser now, and I tend to spend my money on a few key pieces here and there that will stand the test of time (and lets face it, I need all the extra cash for beauty products).

This Autumn I was really feeling the colours of red wine and teal, and what do you know turns out they are in fashion at the moment. I did the sensible thing looked through my wardrobe, pulled out everything I had in those colours and realised that although I have plenty of teal, a burgundy jumper wouldn't go amiss.

While I do enjoy dressing up for the evenings, my daytime clothes have to be comfortable and look good without trying. So what is better than a relaxed sweater and skirt combo? A dress that looks like one of course! Hush has the laid back style down to a t and this dress is just a pleasure to wear.

But I don't want you guys to worry, I am definitely not becoming a fashion blogger, just wanted to share my favourite look for the season. Trying to pose for pictures with Mr RF as the photographer is a lengthy process, it goes from "hey you are supposed to take pictures of me not the ducks", to not being able to stand straight from laughter because of the passing commentary.

The dress is called Rosie and comes in two colours, the one I have is Damson/Navy. I would suggest signing up to their news letter as they often send discount codes.

Saturday 1 November 2014

Let's talk RSPB

Warm rays of sun, soft rustle of leaves underfoot, an autumn day when staying indoors is just unthinkable. On such a day my favourite place to be is a park or a botanical garden, where I can enjoy the simple beauty of everything around me, and poke fun at the ducks, who are very happy to show of their behinds from under the water.

As we were about to leave the park an RSPB (Royal society for the Protection of Birds) stall caught our attention (to be truthful it was at the entrance to the area all along, it's just somehow I managed not to see it on the way in). I love animals and a cute fluffy toy is always bound to get my attention, ahem I mean a book about wildlife. When it comes to charities I am very choosy and I ask a lot of questions, and if I'm honest I tend to avoid those people that try to get me to sign up to something on the high street. Somehow this felt different. There was no hard sell, no one was blocking my way or tried to get my attention by shouting, it was just a well presented stall manned by someone who seemed to be happy to be interrogated by me and most importantly I did not feel pressured.

RSPB is a nature conservation charity (so they are not solely concerned with birds, but habitats and other wildlife as well), while most of the projects are UK based they are involved in some international projects as part of BirdLife International. What makes them special is that they run over a hundred of nature reserves around Britain that are open to the public.

If you decide to become a member you get two passes that give you free admission to these nature reserves and a subscription to Nature's home magazine that comes out quarterly (as well as feeling amazing that your money is going towards conservation of animals and their habitats).

Membership fee is a charitable donation so you effectively choose how much you wish to give by setting up a monthly direct debit, the perks are yours regardless of the amount. RSPB pledges that ninety pence from each pound donated goes directly towards conservation. So are you going to vote for Bob?

Thursday 30 October 2014

Face masks Halloween special

As it is Halloween I thought it would be appropriate to discuss how creepy some face masks can look. I mean seriously if I was having a pamper session and opened a door wearing one of those masks to an innocent trick-or-treater, they are bound to have a fright of their life.

The masks in the video are Our Tiny Bees detox mask, Stark Green Tea mask, Gressa Skin pumpkin peel (only available as gift with purchase while stock lasts) and S.W. Basics hibiscus mask. Please vote for your favourite Scare Factor contestant, who wins is up to you.

Monday 27 October 2014

Trip to Marseille

It all seems like a distant memory, but at the end of September Mr RF and I took a short break in Marseille. As I was doing a Vlog of the trip there aren't many photos, but the city left a long lasting impression on both of us.

This was not our typical holiday, as in there was no research done, no planned out places to visit, all we had was our flights and hotel reservation. It worked out beautifully. Armed with a French phrase book and good old charades skills we set out to explore Marseille. I'm not sure if we were just lucky but everyone we had a reason to speak to was exceptionally friendly. Food incredibly delicious, and the sights breathtakingly beautiful.

We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel Dieu, which previously was a hospital and is one of the iconic buildings of La Panier district. It was a really great place to stay, we manged to get a late check-out at no extra cost, and even though we arrived almost 3 hours before the check-in they still gave us a room straight away. The hotel itself was absolutely beautiful and the restaurant well worth checking out.

As the hotel was situated right in the thick of things we mainly walked, but I here public transport in Marseille is inexpensive and well organised. Right across the road from Hotel Dieu there was a wonderful place The cup of Tea, with the biggest selection of teas I've come across and if you are early enough, you might be able to snag yourself a pain au chocolate. About a minute walk from here there is another place Cafe des Epices, open from lunchtime and serves the most delicious food. The menu is written in Chalk on a black board and is changed daily. You can choose a set menu of 2 or 3 courses, and I can honestly say that deserts are well worth having.

Down in Vieux Port there is a free ferry boat that can take you to the other side of the port, saving you a bit of energy (however it does run only between certain times). On this side of the port there is a wonderful restaurant La Passarelle. It is a sort of two parter, with a little cafe and a vegetable shop on one side, and the main garden restaurant across a narrow road.

The menu is changed every single day depending on what produce is available. They grow a lot of their own vegetables and source most of the other ingredients locally. The gentleman serving us went to great lengths to explain to us what everything was, and even though it seemed more of a place for the locals, we were made very welcome. Food was sublime, I wish I could go back there now.

And Here is the Vlog of the trip.