Monday, 25 May 2015

ED4OLO vitamin D moisture mist



I remember how excited I was when I discovered Elizabeth Dehn's capsule collection. The whipped Shea butter was pure perfection ( I liked it so much that I still have the jar that I now fill up with my DIY concoctions). The moisture mist was very different to anything I tried before, and while I was considering whether or not to get a full size and possibly try the face oil, it was all gone. While I was busy with my wish list and hesitation, I completely missed the announcement that the factory they used went out of business, and there will be no more Elizabeth Dehn beauty products. It was a really sad day, and while it may seem a bit melodramatic, if you ever had a favourite product discontinued you know how hard it can be to find a replacement.

I was both ecstatic and apprehensive when One Love Organics announced their collaboration with Elizabeth Dehn. It took me awhile to get on that horse, I wasn't sure if I would be disappointed as these products seemed so different from her own line. They were also only available over the pond, and while the main OLO range has been in Europe for some time the ED4OLO part of the collection still hasn't made it here. Last year I finally took the plunge and I can honestly say that the products have surpassed my expectations. However, I'm starting to feel a little bit like I did on that day when Elizabeth Dehn was no more.

You see OLO is going through some changes, they have a new look and now the line is Ecocert certified, that is all very exciting, but there have been some tweaks to the original formulations. Let's face it I'm not really bothered about that happening to the products I haven't tried before, but when it comes to my favourites, I'm not at all pleased. I will of course reserve my judgement until I actually try the new formulations, but based on the experience of the past, I have yet to like a reformulated product from any brand (and I'm talking about the products that I used to adore).

What I loved about this toner is that it really delivered on the promise of providing moisture. Of course you need to hydrate from within and any relief from skincare is very much superficial, but sometimes superficial is just the ticket. My skin is prone to being oily, and while it does act more normal in the winter, I still have to walk a very fine line in order to hydrate yet not to overload my skin with products, or it will get super greasy at the drop of a hat. The vitamin D mist was exactly what I needed to give my skin a moisturising boost during the cold months, without needing to resort to heavier face oils or balms. I found it to be incredibly soothing and calming on my easily irritable and reactive skin. The scent was pleasant, a gentle refreshing floral scent, very light and not something that lingers. Mushrooms are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D, a very important vitamin that we get from the sun. I'm not exactly sure what benefits it would give as part of skincare, shiitake mushrooms are an amazing powerhouse when taken internally, so hopefully some of it rubs of topically as well. While the bottle lasted only about 2 months (normally a similar sized mist would last me 4), that could be explained by how often I reached for it. I would use it morning, evening, and for my pamper rituals. It was like other mists stopped existing, that is how wonderful it made my skin feel.

Here are the original ingredients:
aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice*, aqua (water), carthamus tinctorius (safflower) oleosomes**, rhododendron ferrugineum (alpine rose) extract** (and) glycerin, oryza sativa (rice) extract* (and) lentinus edodes (mushroom) extract*, polyaminopropyl biguanide
The one ingredient that gave me pause is the preservative used: polyaminopropyl biguanide. Preservatives are always tricky and they always come with their good and bad points, while this one is a synthetic ingredient it doesn't score very highly on EWG database (of course that is not necessarily the highest authority on everything ingredients but I normally take it as good sign).
And here is the new spruced up version:
aloe barbadensis leaf juice*, rhododendron ferrugineum (alpine rose) extract (and) glycerin*, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) oleosomes (and) aqua, oryza sativa (rice) extract (and) lentinus edodes (mushroom) extract*, caprylic/capric triglyceride (and) rose extract, dehydroacetic acid (and) benzyl alcohol
While the changes are not hugely drastic: the order of some ingredients changed (which normally implies a higher concentration of certain ingredients that moved to the front, however when concentration of something is less than 1% the ingredients can be listed however the brand prefers). The move to add fractionated coconut oil (caprylic/capric triglycerides) on top of other changes is making me think that this version might be a little to oil heavy for my skin. They also changed the preservative to dehydroacetic acid and benzyl alcohol, my sensitive skin is not a huge fan of benzyl alcohol (which coincidentally has a rating of 5 on EWG). While the preservative change would possibly not be a deal breaker for me (there really isn't such a thing as a perfect preservative in my books), I am concerned with the overall change. They are not major, and if your skin is pretty easy I doubt they will effect you. On the other hand, my skin can have a freak out if I add moisturiser on top of a serum, even though both products don't cause reactions separately. So yes I maybe a little over cautious, but I am not rushing to by the new incarnation of Vitamin D moisture mist. It maybe epic, you know like a caterpillar changing into a butterfly, but change isn't always good. I guess time will tell, and hopefully it will actually be available in UK, that will make it so much easier to get a sample and put my doubts at rest.
In the meantime there are still plenty of old formulations around and I might stock up at epic beauty bar.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Gorgeous for Good overview



The 30 day Gorgeous for Good adventure came to an end a month ago. I did not stick to my original plan of weekly updates, frankly because I was a little overwhelmed, and by the time I was ready, my laptop sadly was not. I have to say that I really enjoyed the experience and in large part that was because I had an amazing partner in crime to do it with, Liz. But I feel like I need to start at the beginning, and it all began with a book.

The Book.

It was quiet exciting to get my hands on an unpublished copy of Sophie Uliano's Gorgeous for Good. Her Gorgeously Green was one of the first few books that I purchased when I started switching from conventional beauty, naturally I was very excited to take part in this programme. The book consists of three parts.  After reading the introduction for some reason I was expecting there to be a strong empathises on nutrition, however the first part is about taking care of the outside and focuses on skincare, makeup and there is even a discussion on plastic surgery. The approach is that beauty products and treatments are a fast fix, so while they treat the symptoms and they are not by itself enough, but they can yield fast results. This part is almost half of the book, there is loads of information on how to choose your products and some very well explained clarifications on ingredients. There is a whole chapter on makeup, my philosophy here is a little bit at odds with Sophie Uliano, it is pretty clear that I do like make up, but I also like how my face looks without it, and I certainly do not wear it every day nor do I feel that I should.

The second part is about taking care of yourself from the inside, with focus on nutrition, movement and your inner world. This part is about a quarter of the book, with one chapter dedicated to food. This is more of a how to approach food and best practises rather than a complete nutritional analyses, which makes sense since the first two parts are all about guidance on how to approach the programme itself. The real "meat" of the book is in part three, which includes the day to day detailed descriptions of the 30 day gorgeous for good journey, and recipes for food and diy beauty (there is no actual meat in the book/programme, the recipes are in fact vegan).


The Programme.

Every day of the programme is planned out from your morning and evening beauty regime, to me time that includes sipping on water, three yoga poses and meditation, to the food that you should be eating for the entire day and exercise.


Liz's experience: 

I said that as long as I could have my long run meals (marathon training getting in the way) then I would love to be Tamara's buddy. And, to my surprise, Porridge (a classic) and Banana and nut butter toast are on the Gorgeous for good menu. So is pasta. Delicious carb loading pasta.

So will a bit of a rejig, I have tried to follow the program.

I have always liked a smoothie, so it was good to get back in the game. I'm not too fond of juices but that's not anyone elses fault, it's just my preference. I have never thought of taking a smoothie for a snack at work. So that has been a nice change.

There were a lot of new recipes to try as well as the familiar ones. I really enjoyed the soups and once I combined it with a side of quinoa or rice it became a staple lunch, as did the tomato and basil lunch. I have to be honest I repeated a lot of lunches. It was easier for me when planning. I also missed a lot of juices but tired to keep up with the smoothies.

I loved adding a bit of vanilla to my Chia Pudding! What a great Idea!

Dinners were fine, if busy I would have to have soup again or I went for tacos, mac and cheese or risotto. Again, I'd like to stress that I know it is not hard to plan meals but for some reason I couldn't follow it strictly all the time. The recipes created are great though and the healthy muffins will be turning into a regular occurrence. I'm sure.

Beauty:

This is what I wrote in week one:

I had a really similar skincare routine to the one Sophie advised. I didn't have the same brands but the ethos was there and I was quite chuffed to see that I had got there on my own. For some it may be a lot of products and actually twice a  week, I usually take the routine back to basics with a good carrier oil. So we shall see how my skin does later on. As for bodycare I'll be honest that's where I really lack consistency, so Sophie has kicked my butt into action about that one!

I'm not wearing make up everyday, I have never done so and have not changed for this routine.

Around two and half weeks into the programme, my skin erupted in to a huge rashy mess. It has only just begun to clam down. I'm putting this down to outside stress and not the challenge. I loved the body d.i.y's but I went back to basics with facial skincare, using just jojoba oil as my cleanser and moisturiser, as I really wanted to clear up my skin.

Me time and exercise:

Creating some me time has been essential these past weeks and taking in the little messages from Sophie each day has been really positive. I often meditate, just not everyday. When reading what Sophie says about making a commitment to yourself, I have noticed how easy it is for me to make excuses and talk myself out of doing things. It's self sabotaging. This has not stopped but has lessened. I've noticed that less self sabotage has also transferred to my exercise.

 Whilst my exercise routine has not changed, I have kept to my running/cross training schedule. I have become less guilty when I have not performed to what I think is my potential. I don't really beat myself up anymore. I do what I can and that is fine. It's exercise. It's all good.

 Now that the challenge is over, I still believe that the plan is quite flexible and you can make it work for your needs, as long as you make time for it...It's just about the prep. Which I still need to practise! 
I think that I will be buying a hard copy to flick through at leisure. I didn't get on well with it as a kindle book. Turning pages is best when wanting to quickly reference and stare at pretty pictures!

My experience:



The first week was pretty easy, I loved the food (often creating my own recipes inspired by what was in the book) and me time. I decided to get a journal to keep track of everything and I have found it to be incredibly useful, and that is why I can tell you exactly how many times I went off track (I had a little bit of chicken on two occasions, turkey on one occasion and fish in sushi on four occasions) because of family gatherings and events.

Food.



I have to say I loved the recipes in the book, and what's even better Mr. RF liked most of them too. I had to do some adjustments to breakfasts as some of the recipes were too sweet for my liking, and I'm not always a big fan of smoothies. The soups and the mains were absolutely scrumptious, however I rarely eat quinoa and I don't cook with it, so when it was suggested as a side I would use buckwheat instead. Now I am not about to become vegan, but I think I can easily be a weekday vegetarian (being veggie Monday to Friday and having whatever I like on the weekend). I think that is more realistic for me at this point. What I realised is that I can easily cut down on the amount of meat that I eat and not feel like I am missing out, but when it comes to family gatherings and special occasions I am not quiet ready to let it go. A strange but wonderful side effect of this diet, is that my sweat has become less shall we say smelly... Now that is a huge bonus in my book, because now my natural deo is able to cope with ease. Sophie is a qualified nutritionist, the meal plans are very well balanced with proteins and healthy fats, so if you decide switch things up you need make sure that you are not missing out on anything. This is not really a diet and more of a way of eating, no portion control in this plan.









Excersise.

This is the part that I found hardest, I have a job where I am on my feet all day so putting in an extra 40 min workout 6 days a week has proved more than a little difficult (since I already feel like I've been running around on the days that I work). After talking to Sophie Uliano over google hangouts she suggested doing 20 min yoga instead on the days that I work, and that was much more manageable. But I will be honest I did more 4-5 days of exercise a week not 6. I will definitely continue with this practice and maybe at some point I will get to 6 days, but for now I am aiming for 5. I do find that being more active has made me feel well... more active, I have been feeling more energetic overall.

Beauty.



I was starting from a place of my skin being pretty happy, in fact my only real concern is slightly uneven skin tone. Still I wanted to give the suggested skin care ritual a try just to see the difference.
After trying out the full regime for a few days my sensitive skin had a bit of a freak out. I simplified my routine drastically and took Sophie's advice on sticking with vit C serum but skipping the retinol at night, however I reintroduced it slowly. Effectively my routine ended up being very similar to what I was doing before the Gorgeous for Good, with the addition of the vitamin C serum and using an Spf as the last step (I normally used to use spf straight after toner). My skin has accepted the extra step and I really like the results that I have seen in the last 2 weeks, so I will continue. The fact that everything was planned out for each day meant that I used my body brush, I'm very pleased with that as I always feel great after body brushing but never remember to actually do it.

Mindfulnes.

I think this has been my favourite part of the programme, I love the 'me time' and I feel so focused after those 15 minutes. I have found the few writing exercises extremely insightful and I loved the walking meditation. For me to sit still and meditate for even 5 minutes is a bit of a challenge, and on a few occasions I have caught myself opening one of my eyes to peek at the clock, but something has to be said about the sharpens of intentions straight after the practice. I found that rubbing a badger balm or a calming aromatherapy roll on onto the pulse points helped me be more relaxed and focused during the meditation.

Conclusion.

One thing that I do want to mention is the budget, if you want to follow the book to the letter and you are starting from scratch be prepared to set some few hundred pounds aside. I already had my clean skincare (and was lucky enough to receive a few things as part of this collaboration), and some seeds, nuts, and coconut milk, but I still had to spend about a 100 pounds on things I did not have like seaweed, tofu, tempeh, millet, green lentils, sprouted bread (this was in addition to the weekly shopping). While individually these things are not uber expensive it adds up when you are stocking up your cupboard from ground zero, and good organic skincare can cost quiet a bit, especially if you need to change everything at once.You also really need a good juicer and blender (my blender is average but I will not upgrade until it dies) to get the full benefit of the programme. So while you can totally make it work on a tight budget I think the idea that everyone will be able to start it in full swing the same day they get the book is a little flawed. Overall I have nothing but good things to say about the programme. It is an integrated approach that I would like to carry on exploring. The 30 days is a sort of challenge, and there is emphasis on trying new things especially when it comes to exercise, but the idea is that you will carry on with the practises that best suit you. In Sophie's own words "you will get as much out of the programme as the effort that you put in". Realistically I think I put in about 75% of an effort. But the great thing is I can do it on a loop until I get to 100%.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Bodhi and Birch at Les Senteurs



A few minutes walk from Marble Arch and a stone throw away from Edgware road, there is a street with a rather different vibe. In fact Seymore place feels like a different universe to the normal hustle and bustle of central London. It also happens to be home to a very interesting boutique: Les Senteurs. 

With it's charming blue front, spacious interior and high sealing, Les Senteurs completely broke out of what I picture a perfume shop to be. The first clue I guess is that they position themselves as a specialist perfumery, and the second (and probably the most important one) is that amongst the variety of fragrant bottles you can find a selection from Bodhi & Birch. If you take a look in my bathroom (who am I kidding, there are beauty products all over the place), you will find that I don't really have many unscented products. I love scent, however I do not love perfume stores. Even before I went green, the perfume sections of any department store would have me fleeing for the exit. I still have nightmares about the perfume court in Harrods, a heady headache inducing cloud of fragrance that you just can't shake off even after leaving. You can imagine I was a little apprehensive stepping into a perfume boutique, no matter how welcoming it looked from the outside (but nothing can stop me from hanging out with Mr Choo, so I took a deep breath). I really should have left my prejudice at home. Les Senteurs is like a neutral zone, you can stay there for hours (in fact I did) and not feel suffocated despite all the spraying going on around you (no idea how they do it, I'm thinking some kind of unicorn magic going on).



I hope you can tell that I was very impressed with the venue, but it is probably time to move on to the event itself. Centre stage was taken up by a split level table. On the highest point you could find a circle of individual dropper bottles of essential oils, lower level boasted the complete range of Bodhi & Birch shower gels flanked with two different perfumes per shower/bath therapy . You might have read the same magazine articles about perfume as I: use an unscented shower gel and body cream if you are wearing perfume (or the body cream that has same exact scent as your perfume, specially created by the brand to intensify your perfume experience). The point of this event was to challenge that rather boring way to use perfume, share the art of layering scents and to showcase some of the essential oil combinations that give the signature scents to Bodhi & Birch shower therapies.



I was extremely surprised to find out that my personal favourite Jasmine Falls has lavender (shame on me really, clearly need to go on a label reading refresher course), and Mint The has may chang, now it makes sense why I it reminds me of mojitos as this particular essential oil boasts a lemony scent. Elijah (aka Mr Choo, Bodhi & Birch founder) put drops of different essential oils on the strips so we could experience the difference between how they smell on their own and together. The biggest surprise had to be Frankincense, to me it smells resiny and almost swampy (you can probably tell I am not a fan), but together with a few other essentialn oil strips it smelled almost nice, and then I was told that it is in Neroli Luce! The expression on my face must have said it all, but Neroli Luce smells so good?! How could that be? I guess I have to give up my prejudice against the frankincense too, and go on product by product basis, simply astonishing.




The most exciting perfume pairing was Siam ginger and a super sweet honey vanilla perfume. I kid you not the perfume by itself was making me feel like I fell into a vat of cotton candy, completely not my style, yet layered with Siam ginger it transformed into something exotic, worthy of Arabian nights. Unsurprisingly, I really loved a light fresh rose scent layered with Jasmine falls. I am normally partial to both scents and the perfume chosen wasn't a heavy rose, so the combination of florals managed to be exciting, seductive yet not overly feminine. The piece de resistance for me (and the only perfume that I actually remembered the name of) was the pairing of Mint The and Jardin du Poete. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I am a little weird when it comes to mint, I love it in my tea, toothpaste and foot care, but not so much in other things. The exceptions do exist but they are far and few between, well I am adding another one to the list. Jardin du Poet was created to make you think of a Sicilian garden with bitter orange, cypress and spicy notes of pepper... that is not what I smell, I got fennel, coriander, a mixture of freshly cut sweet herbs. If you look at the base, middle and top notes you will see that I am completely wrong, yet I am sticking to it. One thing is certain: everyone who I forced to smell this eau du toilette loved it too, and it happens to be Elijah's personal scent that he wears most days. While none of the fragrances in the store were "green" I was seriously considering to let my standards slip for this one.

What I took away from this event is not to be afraid to use scented body care with completely unrelated perfumes, while some things will never work, others may surprise you by transforming you trusted old favourite into an exciting new discovery. I may be bored of lavender, not fond of frankincense or patchouli, however, I will no longer blacklist a product based on just one essential oil that doesn't appeal because it is no longer about the individual in a blend, it is all about how they play together.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Coming up on RF


       


It has been a little while since my last, and there is a simple explanation for that, every bloggers nightmare has struck RF household. My laptop has given up the ghost! I have been clinging to hope that it could be fixed for the past few weeks, but alas no such luck. Unfortunately for yours truly I have not budgeted for an upgrade, so it will be a fair few months until I can get a new machine (insert sad violins). Not all is doom and gloom, I have an extremely old and rather weighty Toshiba laptop that has come to my rescue (it feels like a glorified typing machine and takes about 15 minutes to boot up, and yes everything takes an eternity on it but it works). 

While it has been great to have some extra time to dedicate to my art projects, the backlog of blog posts has become just to massive to ignore any longer. It might be a little unconventional, but since it will take me a few weeks to catch up, I thought I would share with guys what posts I am cooking up.

Reviews:

I have been trying out a lot of new skincare and a few body products. In the next few weeks there will be toner, serum, cleanser and body oil reviews for One Love Organics, De mamiel, Bodhi & Birch, Odacite, Laurel Whole plant organics, Skin Owl ( and probably a few more brands). A few makeup posts are also in the works: Kari Gran lip whips, Jane Iredale and Brija cosmetics.


Brand focus:

These are the post where I do reviews of quiet a few of the products from one brand in one go. This time it will be for pretty much the whole range of Lyonsleaf and about 60% of Leahlani products. I have had a lot of time to makeup my mind on all of the above, it is most definitely time to share my thoughts.


Compilation posts:

These are mini reviews of a selection of things that have a common theme. I won't go into too much detail, but I'll give you the post headlines. Sweet like chocolate, Jasmine seduction, Mermaid hour, Unexpected rose. I really enjoyed coming up with these selections, I really hope you guys like them!

Lifestyle posts:

I haven't been able to give my Gorgeous for good Book and program overview, this will be up in the next few days. I will also be doing a recap of the Bodhi and Birch Les centeurs event.

Something old, something new:

I feel like it is time to resurrect the "time for a cup of tea" posts and I have been contemplating on doing some book reviews. Do let me know what you guys think about that!


This is the plan so far, let me finish by saying I appreciate every single one of you and if there is any particular post you want me to prioritise, tell me in the comments!

RF out.