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.