Friday 12 September 2014

Green People

Organic Beauty week is not quiet over yet. Everyday this week Green People are having a different offer and today's is a free Moisturising gel with every purchase of their Nurture Body lotion.

Green People have one of the biggest, most comprehensive ranges when it comes to "green" beauty. There really is something for each member of the family (yes even for the men in your life), and 90% of their products are certified organic (not only by Soil Association, but also by Ecocert and Organic Food federation). The two products at hand are for the citrus lovers.

It is no secret that I am a big fan soaps, but I do always have a shower gel in my bathroom to use with a sponge, and for a spot of DIY. Moisturising Shower gel* has the right amount of sudsing action, without making my skin feel like dry parchment. What really makes this shower gel stand out to me is the aroma, it is subtle yet distinct. Fresh and vibrant citrus notes, mixed with gentle calm of field flowers. It is a joy to have this product in my shower. I always liked foaming body scrubs, however I haven't come across an organic version, so I make my own when I feel like it by mixing equal amounts of shower gel and salt (I tend to prefer pink Himalayan salt), and let it sit for an hour or so. While it is not an uber fancy exfoliator, it is really handy if you've run out of body scrub. Moisturising shower gel is made with 84% Organic ingredients.

Nurture Body lotion* is a perfect companion to the shower gel. Their fragrances complement each other effortlessly. Again the scent is not overly strong but noticeable, with sparkling bergamot being dominant. Despite the fact that this is a lotion, a little of the product goes along way. Skin is left feeling smooth and supple with no noticeable residue (and smelling oh so delicious). I really like the pump bottle that the lotion comes in, it is very easy to control the amount of product that comes out. As well as shea butter and sunflower oil, this lotion contains squalane from Olives and Perilla oil, combination of these makes it rich in Omega 3-6 as well as antioxidants. This lotion is made with 91.6% Organic ingredients.

When talking about switching to organic beauty it is always advised to start with body products (especially when you use them daily), as they are used on the largest area of skin, body products have potential to be most disruptive if they contain certain synthetic chemicals. There is really no time like the present to try something new, and if you enjoy fresh scents this duo is just the ticket.

*These products are PR samples in honour of Organic Beauty week, I have been buying Green People products for many years and genuinely like their formulations, including the products reviewed above. As always it is my own honest opinion. Just to paraphrase my PR policy: no likey no reviewy...

Thursday 11 September 2014

Soil Association Organic Beauty event

As part of Organic Beauty week Whole Foods Kensington were hosting a Soil Association event for press and bloggers. I was not entirely sure what to expect from this evening, and even though I arrived at 6.30 on the dot (which was the time on the invite), it looked like I was late as the area was full of people chatting and sipping on prosecco.

Luckily I spotted Amber very quickly, and a few minutes after we were joined by Abi from Odylique (aka essential care). It felt like an informal gathering, a table full of delightful beauty products and a chance to chat with people who created them. Brands showcased were Green People, Neal's Yard, Odylique, Pai, Therapie and Natracare.

In the middle of the evening there was also a more formalised Q&A with a panel of experts (including representatives from above mentioned brands), discussion revolved around organic beauty, certification, ingredients and packaging. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Whole Foods make a point of only stocking products that are certified organic if they make any organic claims. So you can be assured that if you bought something from their stores with the words organic on the front, it is genuinely organic.

After that we had another opportunity to mingle and that is when Amber and I were joined by Tanya from Therapi. I only wish there was more time, as per usual I did not get a chance to speak to everyone I wanted to before we had to leave.

We did not go home empty handed, this was rather unexpected and I am really looking forward to trying everything.

At the same time as the event upstairs, in the Whole Foods beauty department there was an evening of  "organic bubbles and beauty" for all the customers. In the Kensington store there will be a pop up "Green room" from 12th-14th of September, with different guest speakers one of whom is Sarah Brown founder of Pai.

The effort that Soil Association is putting into creating bigger awareness of organic beauty is very impressive and commendable. There are so many amazing brands that make fantastic products, which are head and shoulders above their conventional counterparts, it is a little disheartening to realise how few people truly know about them ( in comparison to brands sold on the shelves of Superdrug). Being in the bubble of the "green" beauty community I sometimes forget that not everyone is familiar with what is in my beauty cabinet, or even with all the different organic certifying bodies. While I have reservations about making organic certification in the beauty industry a part of legislation, I also feel that at present you need to dedicate a lot of time to be able to spot a pretender, and that means that people become sceptical about whether organic products are really worth it.

This event turned out to be not only fun but also very informative, and guess what Pai will be introducing two new products very soon, and they sound pretty fantastic...


Monday 8 September 2014

Pinks Boutique manicure set review

Today is the start of Organic Beauty week, and of course that means lots of offers to entice you to switch your regular beauty items for the organic ones. Now is a good time to stock up on your trusted favourites or discover something new.

Pinks Boutique is a brand of organic luxury products made in the UK, while you can choose to have a pamper session at one of the Spa's that carries the range, there is nothing stopping you from recreating this experience in the comfort of your own home. As part of the organic beauty festival they have an offer on their try me sets were you can get two boxes for £25 (excluding the anti ageing box which will have its own promo). I love introductory sets, they make fantastic gifts, small bottles are perfect for travel and they give you a chance to find what products from the range (if any) work for you at a fraction of the cost.

Upon setting your eyes on one of the Pinks Boutique try me set boxes you might be expecting some exquisite chocolate confectionery, however this particular treat does not require a sacrifice of your waistline. The manicure set* consists of five products that will create a spa inspired ritual.

To set the scene there is Sweet orange & Neroli elixir, which is a room and linen spray. This scent really reminds me of a treatment room, with lots of different massage oils and balms intermingling together to create that relaxing soothing smell.

The next step is a hand soak (that can also double up as a foot soak), a mixture of salts and essential oils to aid circulation and soften cuticles. Once mixed in the water, the citrus aroma becomes more noticeable, overall the scent is more calming rather than invigorating. As part of the decoration, the set comes with dried rosebuds, and I like to add a few petals from them to the soaking bowl to give my pamper session that something extra.

Once the hands are nicely prepped, there is a bit of a choice, you could use Indonesian Body oil or Hand balm for a light hand massage. Both products sink in really well and have a wonderful exotic fragrance, which is slightly similar in both products but a little stronger in the body oil. The scent is a mixture of sweet nectar and sharper citrus notes, it does stay on the skin, although you would have to have a very sensitive nose to notice it after half an hour. Both of these are recommended for evening use and are suitable all over the body (but not the face). The hand balm has a buttery texture and I find that my hands only need half a pea sized amount (my hands a rarely dry however so others might need more). The body oil is very light, it has more slip than a dry oil but sinks in just as fast,  perfect for a massage.

The last step is the cuticle oil. It has a really fresh crisp scent, most likely thanks to the addition of fennel oil. You only need a few drops for all the nails and their respective cuticles. The whole process from the hand soak to the cuticle oil takes about 10-15 minutes, and is a perfect addition to my usual Sunday mask ritual. In the morning my nails are all ready for painting, or I just rub a little more cuticle oil on them to give that extra shine and leave them au naturel.

I was trying really hard to figure out my favourite product from the box, and I failed miserably. The only thing I probably wouldn't make a part of my collection is the room spray, because I generally prefer scented candles. Despite seemingly small quantities, the products are lasting quiet sometime (especially the hand balm and the cuticle oil), I find myself needing only a small amount at a time, that leaves my hands perfectly moisturised with shiny nails. I love the attention to detail from the box, to the labels, to the wonderful scents, all of it combined is what makes Pinks Boutique manicure try me set* such a wonderful treat or a gift to someone who enjoys having a little me time/spa ritual every so often.

*This set is a PR sample sent to me for a review, as usual the opinions are my own and based on my experience with the products, I want to say scout's honour...but I've never been a scout, so I'm just going to settle for honest.

Thursday 4 September 2014

To Lush or not to Lush (Collab)

A few weeks ago Lush held a live preservatives debate, in the aftermath an idea for this collaborative post was born. Sarah (Sugarpuffish), Amber (Amber's Beauty Talk), Paula (Naturally Paula) and I, all have different experiences with the company and for our own reasons have decided to give a few alternative suggestions to some of the products from the line up. For the other puzzle pieces of this story you will need to visit these ladies blogs.

My Lush story:

I first discovered Lush when I was a teenager (this is probably not surprising). I remember rushing into the store every payday in hopes of discovering something new. My favourite moment was bringing it all back and poring over the Lush times, looking for ingredients and reviews for each one of my products. You see, as long as I can remember, I have been reading the ingredients lists of every single beauty product I bought, but Lush times was were I was learning what those words actually meant. Straight away I spotted that not all ingredients were natural (although at this point it mattered little to me), I liked the idea of colour coding that made it easier to see how many synthetic chemicals each product had. As I was growing more aware and trying to make better choices with my beauty products in my twenties I was choosing to buy products from Lush that had only those ingredients I was happy to use. I stopped using their soaps and shampoo bars, and was sticking to a couple of cleansers, massage bars, one bath bomb (the Big Blue), fresh masks and of course my beloved Aqua Mirabilis. My favourite products that were all natural Baby face and Sweet Japanese girl were both discontinued (that was quiet some time ago), yet I still kept going to the store, hoping that they would be back.

As I was expanding my knowledge base and finding new natural/organic brands my trips to Lush were becoming less frequent. It felt like I was growing up and changing, yet my old friend Lush was not moving with me. Like with old school friends, with some you have an amazing relationship and with others there is simply nothing to talk about. Lush and I had less and less in common. Nostalgia however is a powerful thing, and the one product I would come back for was Aqua Mirabilis, this was what I used in the morning of the day I got married, and every time I smelt this body bar it brought back happy memories. To be truthful I have not been inside one of their stores for more than a year, but I wasn't actively avoiding Lush, it just was not at the top of my list.

The things I like about their products is that quiet a lot of them are free of packaging. The fact that they recycle their black pots and if you bring 5 back you get a free fresh mask (that is why I still have some empty black pots from forever ago). All the ingredients lists are readily available.

However they use quiet a few ingredients that I personally do not want in my products, and now to confuse things even further they have this "self preserve range" which only addresses the paraben part of things. Somehow it all makes me very sad, while before I would hang out in a Lush store after getting a pay cheque, now my destination is Wholefoods Beauty aisle.

As a person who tried pretty much everything from the range in the past (so not any new products in the last 2 years), I thought I would share what I use instead of my old Lush favourites.

I used to adore Lemony flutter for the scent alone, smell of lemons is so refreshing and uplifting, however as soon as Burt's bees lemon butter cuticle cream came into my life I knew it was here to stay. While the two products smell almost identical, Burt's bees is like a miracle worker when it comes to strengthening my nails.

Lush was probably partly responsible for my soap obsession and two of my favourites were Honey I washed the kids and Porridge. My discovery of Bathing Beauty solved this little problem, the Miracle soap that combines oats and honey is like a magical hybrid of the two but without any of the ingredients that I avoid, and it is just so amazing.

One product the I still want to replace is my beloved Aqua Mirabilis, however I think I will need to resort to some DIY to do this. I figured out a recipe that I'm going to use, but it is yet untested as I am missing one ingredient, which I was going to get at the end of  beauty challenge 10. So if you guys are interested let me know in the comments and I will do another post on it.