Tuesday 30 June 2015

May Lindstrom at Content

I often feel very grateful for the fact that I live in London (well occasionally I do wish I lived on a coast in South of France, you know grass is always greener and all that), on this particular Saturday, there was no other city I wanted to be. Central London was extremely busy as there was a very festive London pride parade taking place, I and several other green beauty enthusiasts however were tucked away in a quieter Bulstrode street, for a much more intimate affair. Content beauty and wellbeing had a very special guest, May Lindstrom.

In my eagerness and desire to snag a good spot, I arrived seriously early, which gave me time to have a look at some newly arrived goodies from other brands, and witness Imelda setting the scene with gorgeous empty bottles from the line filled with flowers and mood uplifting crystals. May had some seriously bad luck while travelling, starting with witnessing Paris taxi riots and severe delays when coming from Italy. She arrived a little late with all her luggage in tow, looking absolutely glowing, if I did not see it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that she came straight from the airport.

To begin with, May started talking about her line and how she uses it. She is very animated when she talks, with some hand waving involved, immediately it was obvious that all the pretty crystals weren't going to last very long. Here I am looking at one of the most graceful put together women I have come across, placing the pretty decorations to one side, while saying that she is not very graceful. I immediately felt a lot of respect for how sure of herself she was, it was not said in any away of false modesty or self criticism, just stated as a matter of fact, that if things were going to stay how they are, those items would just get knocked down and it is best to find another place for them.

The first product that she spoke about was Honey Mud. This is her chosen cleanser for the everyday and one that doubles up as a mask. May also suggests using it in the shower (this happens to be my favourite way of using it) to protect your skin from hot water, the steam and moisture in the bathroom will also activate honey in the mask as it is a humectant, and you will get an even more therapeutic effect from the mask. As the rest of her line, this product was designed to delight your senses and make you feel pampered, as well as making your skin look and feel wonderful. May confesses to selfishly designing the range for herself. She has always had very sensitive and reactive skin, to the point that while shopping and brushing up against different fabrics while in the store, she is likely to come away covered in rash like blisters because of the dyes and protective chemicals used on the clothes. All the products therefore have been made to help her skin find its healthy optimum and calm it down after being exposed to the elements.

Clean dirt she uses about three times a week in the shower to give her skin a really deep clean. How often you can use it really would depend on how tolerant your skin is, some people can use it everyday, for others it is a once a week type of affair. There is a way to make Clean dirt a little gentler and that is mixing it with coconut oil prior to applying (a little coconut oil, tea spoon of clean dirt and a drop of water all mixed together). Jumping on ahead towards the end of the evening, when everyone was a having a more informal discussion with May, you could mix clean dirt with any oil that works for you if you have a coconut oil sensitivity. Also mixing it with blue cocoon makes a lovely spa like treat.

Next stop is The Problem solver. I get the impression that this is May's favourite product, she gets so excited when talking about it. It was put together on the premises that inflamed skin needs cooling, and the heat in the spices will provide a cooling effect. This is very counter intuitive and May gives an example of hot countries where people eat spicy food to help their bodies keep themselves cool. How much heat from the mask you will experience will vary greatly from person to person, and even on the way your skin is feeling at the time. May finds she feels most heat when her skin is stressed, and when it is looking good the effect is not as strong. The mask was designed to work in stages, it starts of neutral, gets hotter and hotter, and then back to neutral. You are meant to keep it on for some time, however, even if you wash it off after 5 minutes once you started to feel the heat, it already did some of the good it was created for, you just won't get the full effect (it does provide you with more options, as it means you can use it even if you are in a rush). May also likes to mix honey mud and problem solver together for a more moisturising mask.

Moving on to the Youth Dew. May feels that moisturising is the most important part of a routine, this oil has been created to sort of do it all. It has Coq10 that has been scientifically proven to fight wrinkles, and while this fact and the name of the product may lead you to believe that the product is for mature skin, it is actually really good for acne prone skin too. The bright orange colour is thanks to sea buckthorn that is rich in beta carotene, your natural sun protection booster.

Blue cocoon is the second moisturising product in the line, specifically made to calm skin and your senses. May mentions that when her daughter gets particularly overexcited, she reaches for the jar of Blue cocoon and the scent immediately calms her down. While it is described as a balm, it doesn't actually have any waxes which is normally what makes a balm, mix of oils and waxes. Blue cocoon is more of a solid oil for oily skin (I feel like I can make a suggestion with a description here, this product is effectively a face butter). She also uses it is as an eye cream. May often combines Youth Dew and blue cocoon together, using blue cocoon around the eyes and mouth and Youth dew on the rest of her face. While she openly acknowledges that this product is expensive, if used sparingly it can last a long time, she even gives examples of clients who buy a jar to share between six people (I can only imagine what sort of fight there is over who gets to keep the pretty jar). May herself on the other hand is quiet liberal in her application of this blue goodness, she admits to spreading it thicker than anyone she knows, I guess it is an advantage when you can make some more as soon as you run out.

Next on the agenda is the Jasmine garden. This is a product that May did not want to make. She was quoted in several interviews saying that she does not believe there is a need for a toner, and despite customer enquiries she did not want to make a product that she felt would be a waste of their money. When a bespoke client had approached her asking for a jasmine toner, May tried to send her away giving her a recipe for apple cider vinegar toner that could be made at home, saying that it would be a much better option. Even the idea of Jasmine was not appealing, bringing up images of very mature ladies. However when the client kept insisting, May resolved to make the best toner she could. Her issue with other toners that she tried has been that they felt sticky and like they did not absorb into the skin. Jasmine gardens does not leave any residue and is very hydrating. Since May tries all her creations on herself first, after sending the mist to the client, she soon realised that she missed it and simply had to add it to the line. Colloidal silver is on of the ingredients in the toner, it is not used here as a preservative, but for the effects that it has on the skin. The formula of Jasmine gardens does not require a preservative to last, but in spite of possible controversy May included colloidal silver as she felt that the product would not be as good without it. Now it is one of the products that she constantly carries in her bag, especially when travelling, constantly spritzing throughout the day.

The Good stuff was the last product to be spoken about, yet it was the very first one created for the line. Body is the largest area of skin and May wants to have beautiful skin everywhere not just on the face. There is a tendency to concentrate primarily on the face and sort of let everything else fend for itself. The Good stuff is here to make you want to change that. It is a gorgeous shimmery indulgence that both looks and smells fantastic. The scent has proven to be rather popular with the men, leading many of May's customers reserving this oil for special occasions, and almost signalling their partners that they are ready for a romantic night. But everyday should be special, and if used how it was designed it will last you a fair amount of time. May does not use towels on herself, calling them harbingers of bacteria (I remember reading somewhere that she would wrap her hair in an old t-shirt instead of a towel too), and her oils are meant to be applied to wet skin anyway. A few pumps of Good stuff applied this way is all that you need for your entire body. This helps the oils absorb better and would not leave your skin looking glittery. Applied on dry skin on the other hand you will use a lot of product and it will sit on top of the skin not absorbing properly, quiet possibly damaging your clothes, so doubly wasteful. May also likes to run a few drops through her while it is wet to help define her curls, and a little less on dry hair to help with fly aways. This oil also works as a hair treatment especially used overnight, it will make not so fresh hair smell pleasant while you sleep, and when you wash it out in the morning, you will be left with bouncy locks. The quality of the oils in the good stuff is just as good as the ones found in the youth dew, there is no compromise as your skin deserves it the best be it your legs or your face. Some of May customers use it the body oil on their face, her attitude is do what works for your skin.

Before letting us all ask questions May said a few words about the brush and the handmade bowl that are also part of the range. The bowl is gorgeous and has a 24c gold dandelion design inside, intentionally, so you can see gold coming through when mixing your mask. This is all part of having a skincare ritual that is enjoyable, and something that you would look forward to. The brush is made with special synthetic bristles that are naturally antibacterial so nothing will grow in your brush between uses. These are the sort of things you don't know that you need until you tried them, and then you wonder how you did without them.

My very first question was about I am love and if it will be making it into the permanent line, to cut a long story short the answer is not likely. May does not want to have unnecessary products in the line as Youth Dew already does everything, I am love was meant to be an indulgent romantic treat and that is how it will stay for the foreseeable future.

Discussion turned to how May sources her ingredients (I was thinking to myself: why did I not ask that question?). May is not a grower, she admits to killing house plants (boy can I relate, poor cactus is the only thing that seems to survive under my care). While they make colloidal silver in the studio, all the plant ingredients come from elsewhere. She has several people that she works with that are effectively middle man between herself and the farmers. Some of the farms are very remote and it is simply impossible for her to visit them all personally, so there is a great deal of trust involved. May does have very high standards for quality, there for it is not uncommon for her to get a phone call saying this crop will not meet your standards, the other one does but you will only get a tenth of what you ordered. Sometimes the best ingredients come from a small farm that can not afford organic certification, but if it is the best quality, that is what May will purchase. Due to how unpredictable farming can be, and even political situations (for the past year May could not get any ingredients from Africa), she does change suppliers quiet often but not the people who act in between. One of the members of May Lindstrom team is completely dedicated to ensuring that they are always well stocked no matter what the situation is. Interestingly two of products from the original line-up came to market with slightly different ingredients to the ones May envisioned, due to the fact that she could not trust her suppliers to deliver consistently. The youth dew was supposed to be based on barbary fig seed oil, and the good stuff was meant to be argan based.

When it comes to creating new products it is all about what is already out there, whether or not May thinks she can come up with something that would top that, and how well it fits with the overall idea of indulgent ritual. That gives you the reason of why there is no foaming cleanser in her line, because she can't beat the one that is currently the best in this category, and doesn't feel like there is any point in releasing something that would be either below or on the same level.

May rarely buys beauty products, if she needs something she just makes it. She does not make her own shampoo and conditioner though, her favourites are from Rahua or Yarok (both liked equally). In the shower May likes to use Korean scrubbing gloves without any soap or shower gel, on a few occasions when she feels like those are not enough she will use Dr Bronner's soap. When it comes to SPF, partly due to the fact that she spends most of her time in the studio, partly because she has not been able to find one that completely agrees with her skin, it is not something that she wears daily. On those occasions that she is out all day, Badger is the brand of choice, this is also what the rest of her family uses.

Of course I could not help myself and ask what makeup May was wearing on the day. To cover some redness around her nose she used alima pure powder, on the eyes just rms solar, no mascara since her eyes get extremely sensitive, on the lips Lover's choice from Kjaer weis, on the cheeks a little of the lip colour plus vapour organic beauty aura multi use blush in spark. The finished effect looked incredible, a touch of radiance, without making the make up look like a mask.

I found the whole evening an incredible insight into what makes this line what it is. In some ways May Lindstrom herself is the line, you can't help but fall in love with the creator. You can see that these products are her dreams coming true, from the packaging to what goes in to every jar. For a person who is so incredibly busy she was still encouraging everyone to send her an email if they needed any advice about the products. If you ever end up ordering from her website directly, you will be getting a hand written note from her, even though she now has a team of people. While it might be awhile until any new product joins the line up of the magnificent seven, you can look forward to mini sizes of some of the products in the near future. I also have a suspicion, if everyone writes an email asking May to add a deodorant to her line, it might actually happen. She has been considering the possibility, but is a little reluctant, as she is not convinced that it would fit into the idea of a pampering self care ritual. I honestly think that deodorant cased inside one of those beautiful jars or bottles would fit right in. Nothing makes me feel more confident than knowing that I smell good, and part of a beauty ritual is to give me that feeling of being confident in my own skin. So if your thoughts are along the same lines as mine, start writing those emails.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Lippy girl hot diggity yam

When it comes to true summer, my makeup days become even less of a thing than they are the rest of the year. But I do find myself doing my nails more often and applying lipstick. I remember when I was younger it was lip gloss all the way, I hated the look and feel of lipstick. I am not sure if it's the textures that have changed or my taste, but I would not give up my 'green' lippies for anything. Lately I have been particularly drawn to softer shades that work by themselves or paired up with bronzer, yet without the need for eye makeup.

Lippy Girl vegocentric lipstick in hot diggity yam* is a nudy peach colour, it comes in their signature black casing that feels quiet sturdy, like it can withstand the trials of being thrown around in my bag (and so far it has proven true after several months of hard use). This lippie is vegan so if you are trying to avoid crushed up bugs (aka carmine) it is a perfect choice. Instead of beeswax to hold everything together they use a combination of Carnauba and Candelila wax. It is a completely matte  finish, which means you need to do a little prep before applying. I did not find it drying, which can be a case with some matte formulations, however if your lips are not at their optimum at the point of applying it will settle in looking powdery in areas, unlike a moisturising lipstick. If you want to keep that matte texture going for a Brigitte Bardott look, which this colour is perfect for, you need to use a lip scrub (just a little brown sugar mixed with a drop of oil you find in your kitchen) before applying and skip the lip balm. Afterwards the colour will look like a dream, especially paired up with dark eyeliner. I find that it lasts well through out the day, but you still need to reapply after eating (which is true for pretty much every lipstick in my collection).

On a minimal makeup day, or if I just fancy wearing lip colour, I use a glossy lip balm (de mamiel is perfect for this) underneath. This makes the colour a little more see through and changes the look of lipstick completely, giving it almost a wet look. This way it doesn't last quiet as long, you would need to reapply after drinking (some of the colour does remain, but not the full effect). I do really like this look so I don't mind the extra application.

                                  In both pictures lipstick is applied over lip balm but taken in different light
The colour is fairly pale, yet it does not leave me washed out like some other nudes. It was a little difficult to give an accurate swatch on my hand so I did a swatch on a napkin as well. I feel like every girl needs to have at least three colours: a flattering red, a versatile pink and a good nude. Hot diggity yam makes a great staple nude, that like any good lipstick can take you from day to night with simple adjustment of your eye makeup.

Have you guys tried lippy girl? What do you think of this colour? Let me know in the comments.

*PR sample, as always my reviews are completely honest and the fact that I received something does not guarantee a review, I will only review something if I genuinely find that it is good. Integrity is paramount, and I would never compromise your trust in my blog.

Saturday 27 June 2015

Weleda insight day

It will come as no surprise that I get quite excited about green beauty (otherwise what is the point of having this blog right?!), the highlight for me personally is when I get a chance to find out what goes into making the products . Weleda insight day took it a step further with the garden tour of where quite a few of their ingredients grow! I am rushing ahead of myself however, let us go back to the beginning.

                                                              Original garden

Arriving at Weleda HQ in Derbyshire first thought that enters my head is "look that building is pink", and the second is "wow what a lovely place to work". The garden room, where the meet and greet happens (and majority of the day is spent) has a lovely terrace in front and as the name suggests, views of the garden. This was the original Weleda garden, but as it is no longer big enough, it has now become a show garden for visitors. It is basically a small scale representation of what goes on in the Weleda garden that is used to grow herbs and flowers for the products. Next to some plants you can see pictures of the products that they are used in. Weleda is not simply a beauty product brand, it makes homeopathic medicines and tinctures. About 80% of the plants grown in the UK gardens are used in that respect.

                                                             Main garden

The main garden is shaped like a doughnut with the whole in the middle ( the middle is occupied by the retirement home that got encircled over time as Weleda kept expanding, it is a separate entity and that land does not belong to Weleda). Apparently it takes only about 15 minutes to make the full circle on foot, however, even after spending more than an hour walking through the field, it didn't feel like it was enough time. Parts of the garden are neatly organised, with rows dedicated to certain plants, sometimes having a whole row, sometimes having only about a square meter. There was even a patch of wild strawberries covered by a net to supposedly protect the berries from wild birds, but I strongly suspect it's more to prevent visitors from eating them all up. Other parts were more like wild fields of flowers, and we also walked through an area that resembled an enchanted forest (I suspect on a day with a very dark sky you would wish for a torchlight going through there).

After the garden walk we were treated to a field presentation of how a chamomile tincture is prepared. Of course normally it would not be done in a tent, but what is cool is that it would still be prepared on sight by the same people who grow the plants (just in a building with all the proper equipment and following procedures that would insure the same concentration and potency from each batch). The fact that Weleda grows the plants biodynamically means that not only do they follow organic standards but they also look after the whole ecosystem of the area where they grow things, which of course means it is much healthier for the wildlife and we did see a rabbit happily roaming around as we were leaving the field.

Back in the garden room after lunch is when we were given a sneak pick at new releases and upcoming launches. Due to climate and a smaller scale of UK operations (this garden is tiny in comparison to the one in Germany), not all plants are grown on site, especially when it comes to the ingredients for the beauty products. We had a presentation on some of their European suppliers. Arnica for example needs a mountain climate, which is not something you can achieve in Derbyshire. The products that have been manufactured in UK use a supplier in Scotland with some clever transportation to ensure freshness. 

What struck me most of all is Weleda's approach to new products. Let's face it no one likes when you find a perfect beauty staple and a month later it gets reformulated to make it "better", and it no longer works for you. The approach here is that it only gets launched once it is ready, once they are sure that it works only than it is launched, and the formulation will not be adjusted later as their is simply no need. Some products from the original concept to release took 8 years. They will not compromise on the quality of their ingredients and ethicasy of their suppliers, if they can't source an ingredient from a reputable source or grow their own than they would stop the production of a product until they can find one.

This brings me to the new  and upcoming launches that we got to try on the day. Evening primrose range is designed for women in their later stage in life, and while it is not for me just yet, I can still appreciate the quality of the products and the vastness of the range. The most popular product so far has proven to be the lip and eye treatment. Admittedly that was the product that also caught my eye. It is hard to judge products only by testing them purely on your arms, so with certainty I can say that the texture was really nice and they sunk in quickly without any unwanted residue being left behind. Evening primrose signature scent is really lovely, and while it is not a requirement for performance, it sure is nice to have something that works and smells appealing if you are putting it on your face every day.

For the very first time, this August, Weleda will be bringing out a shower gel (the other washes are shower creams). A pretty unusual one at that as its featured ingredient is Arnica, since it is a wash of f product they are not making any promises or claims in terms of how it will affect your muscles, instead it is meant to be refreshing shower gel that sort of perks you up in the mornings, and since it is a foaming product it is perfect after sports. If you like arnica scent than you will love this, I find myself intrigued by this one, even though I rarely get excited by shower gels.

Now the crown jewel is the Almond body range that will become available this September. It is basically the extension of their sensitive skincare range and it has no essential oils, the gorgeous bitter almond, marzipany scent is from the mix of ingredients. I don't want to give too much away until I am ready with a review, but this stuff is seriously good.

One of the last things that we did was some seemingly simple DIY soap making, trust me to mess it up (there is a reason why I only mix oils, face masks, and body scrubs). We were provided with soap flakes, containers of water and olive oil, lavender seeds, calendula flowers, and a choice of essential oils. The idea is that you put 5ml of water, 5ml of oil and start mushing the soap flakes together so they wills start to bind, then add some essential oil and petals if you wish, if things are not binding add a few more drops of water or oil, or both. Afterwards you pick it all up and shape the soap with your hands. When I attempted to roll mine into a ball, instead of becoming a coherent objec,t it all fell apart with soap flakes sticking to my hands but not to each other. Thankfully ladies at my table came to the rescue. Amber, Christina, Evelyn and Majka practically in unison told me to add a few more drops of oil, and guess what it worked. My DIY disaster was salvaged and I took the fruits of my labour with me, as well as very generous goodie bag.

I will be trying out the upcoming releases and will be posting reviews about them around the same time as they become available, so you guys can have something to help you decide whether or not these products are of interest. However, I will most likely pass on the evening primrose to someone else, as I wouldn't be able to truly assess it. I also vlogged on the day, I am hoping to upload it in the next few days, as I just didn't have time to edit the video yet. I feel like I have forgotten to include lots of important stuff, there was so much going on on the day, that it is simply impossible to include it all in one post, I could right a book about Weleda. Actually I think there should be a Weleda book, after all that's the fashion now isn't it?

Thursday 25 June 2015

LNLO:save the date + free tickets

I am seriously late with this post, I was planning to post a month or two before the Love Natural Love Organic show. Somehow I found myself in this bubble were I have all the time in the world to day dream and put things off until later. Well in truth, yet again, time waits for no one. Big dose of reality, there is only one week left until this amazing event and I have yet to utter a word of why I think it is so special!

I visited this event last year (big thank you to Sugarpuffish for the introduction) and you can read all about it here if you fancy. Ever since then I was already living in the anticipation of the next show (no it is not normal for me to plan so far in advance, that is how impressed I was). It takes place in London Olympia and the huge space hosts three shows at the same Free From, Love Natural Love Organic and V for Vitality. Your ticket (here is a link so you can get unlimited free tickets if you plan on attending) entitles you to visit all three. It is a green beauty lovers dream come true, finally you can see and touch products that are most often available only through online purchases. What is even more exciting it is a chance to meet the master minds behind the brands, and ask them about their creations in person. However this is not only a 'come and see what is available' type of event, all the products presented are for sale at greatly discounted prices especially for the show.

Not only you get to spend the day discovering amazing green beauty brands, thanks to the sister events you can get a chance to sample some delicious foods as well. Here I found a stall with exotic fruits, where I had my first ever fresh young coconut, that was cracked open right in front of me. You bet I am going to be looking out for it again.

There is a lot going on and it can get pretty crowded, so this year I have a game plan. I had a quick look at the exhibitorslist and noted down the stall numbers of the ones of most interest to me (to make sure I do not forget to visit them in all the excitement). Akoma skincare stall L141 and L139 is the ingredient supplier that I use when I fancy doing some uncomplicated DIY, their raw organic cocoa butter is divine. Bathing Beauty L107 is an amazing collection of handcrafted beauty goodies hailing from Wales, I have a few reviews on the blog and an interview with the founder, if you only plan to make one purchase from her stall be prepared to face a very tough choice as everything I have sampled so far is absolutely incredible. Bloom Remedies L111 has a great reputation among green beauty bloggers, while I have given these products as gifts I admit I haven't actually tried anything for myself (although I did just get a few in a blogger swap), so I am really looking forward to having a play at this table. Itha L49 is a brand of tinted lip shines that smell incredible and come in two formulations one with beeswax and another completely vegan, I have been testing these so watch out for a review very soon. Terri Verdi L242 has a few finalists in the Free From awards, I first saw these prodocts at the Exel show and I was given a serum to test, not to give too much away it is rather good, also look out for the Yoga body oil.  These are just a few of the stalls that I will be visiting, and I will do my best to post reviews of the products that I have been testing from the above mentioned brands, so if you are planning on attending you can get a better idea of what might be of interest.

So... Are you coming?

Thursday 18 June 2015

The Mermaid hour.

No matter how much I love nature, I'm not a country girl. Sure it's therapeutic to spend a weekend or even a week in the country, surrounded by fields and never ending rows of trees. However, most of my favourite shoes would get completely ruined by grass, not to mention hidden mudslides patiently waiting for the inexperienced. No, I truly am a city girl, that runs through fields of flowers strictly during morning meditation.
Being near the Ocean on the other hand is something that flips the switch, my shoes are completely forgotten and I don't even care if the salty water ruins my pretty blouse. Ever since I was a kid, before I could even swim, you couldn't get me out of the water, even when my lips would start turning blue I would insist that I was not cold. It wasn't a summer holiday if it wasn't spent by the sea. After the holidays were over, every bath time I would spend playing with my toy mermaid (no rubber duckies for this girl).
One of my favourite stories was 'little mermaid' by Hans Christian Andersen, not the Disney version, but the one where the ending is melancholy, the mermaid turns into sea foam. Every time I see a frothy wave I think of mermaids. It has been many years, and by all accounts I am a grown up, yet the idea of mermaids and secrets of the ocean still have not lost their appeal, I'm still mesmerised by the folklore. I can no longer spend every summer by the sea. It's more like a few days here and there. So I just cheat, I no longer have my toy mermaid, now I have a whole bunch of mermaid beauty products instead (and sounds of the ocean on my iPod).

Bulles et Mollecules sea salt soap. This soap looks like a slice of sea foam cake topped with spruce needles. The scent instantly brings back memories of a beach in Bodrum, with majestic pines providing coveted escape from the burning sun and clear cool water of Aegean sea. Bulles et Mollecules Sea salt soap has as much salt in it as it does oils, it is not as moisturising and doesn't lather the same way their other soaps do. Lather feels quiet creamy, yet the soap felt quiet scrubby the first few uses. It somehow feels more solid than their other soaps. I absolutely love using it, the scent and the texture are very refreshing, making my skin feel extra smooth. Salt helps soften hard water, so while this soap won't have quiet the same effect as soaking with bath salts, I find that my skin has been feeling really nice after using this salty bar. I find it is a really great choice for summer, on hot and sticky days showering with this bar feels like a lovely refreshing treat.

Leahlani Mermaid mask. Opening a pot of this superfood for your skin can be a tricky affair. In fact I had to wait until a pair of strong manly hands was available. There is a perfectly good reason for this, as it travels all the way from Hawaii (the land of summer), Leah tightens the pots extra tight to avoid this treasure spilling before it reaches you. When you do manage to open it, be prepared for your senses to play tricks on you. It smells a bit like a speciality marmalade with cardamom or something else to give it a little spice, but it looks like a handful of emeralds has been ground up and mixed with honey, and if you catch the light in the right way you can see them sparkle. The consistency of the mask will change somewhat depending on the weather, on this island it stays mostly solid, at the moment with slightly warmer temperatures it seems to have a consistency of wet mud, not quiet solid but not liquid either. To use it you need to scoop out a little from the pot with a spatula and mix with a little water before applying to your face, keep for 3-5 minutes and wash off. I find that I get pretty messy with this mask and always manage to get some on my hair, for that reason I use it just before a shower or while I am taking a bath. I like to imagine myself to be a mermaid masking with nourishing emerald green seaweed, Mr. RF on the other hand calls me the Hulk every time I am using it. I find this mask to be a great all rounder, it evens out the skin tone and clears my pores, while still leaving my skin feeling pretty well hydrated (I don't consider this to be a hydrating mask however, more a clarifying one that doesn't dry out the skin). This mask is pretty concentrated, I do find that my skin tingles sometimes, so I make sure to dilute with a little more water and scoop out only about a pea sized amount.

Mungo Murphy seaweed bag.* I must confess I was extremely intrigued by these sea-bags for quiet a few moths before taking the plunge. It has been a very interesting experience. Before you pop your bag into the bath you need to activate it so to speak. You need to put your bag into a pot of hot/boiling water and let it sit their for ten minutes, this rehydrates the seaweed and releases its natural oils, then you pour the contents of the pot (water, bag and all) into your bath water. Squeeze the bag to release extra oils and voila. Seaweed in the bath apparently can be used to treat skin imperfections, cellulite, and soften stiff muscles. I can honestly say that my muscles felt very relaxed, but I would need to use a few more bags before I can comment on the other claims. The smell is well like pretty strong seaweed ( a tad fishy), but only if you put your nose right next to the bag, mixed with all that water it was just vaguely reminiscent of the ocean, but honestly pretty much like taking a bath with no products. Water on the other hand felt so much softer, I wasn't expecting to enjoy it so much. I also gave my self a little rub down with the bag, it is just a muslin bag so it felt mildly exfoliating yet nourishing thanks to the seaweed oils that kept coming out. My skin felt pretty darn soft and there was no need for moisturiser. Apparently you can let the contents air dry and than use them as a body scrub, but in our tiny flat it didn't dry over night and it was becoming just a little too stinky, so it had to go before I could try it out.

Captain blankenship mermaid sea salt hair spray. I always find that my hair looks its best on a beach holiday, my natural waves are more pronounced, overall it looks more bouncy and full. Naturally, when I first came across a salt spray I figured that it would be a perfect solution and it would give me that holiday hair. The truth is while it did give me 'beach babe' hair, it was more of a 'hair just after a dip in the ocean' kind of look. While there is a time and a place for that sort of look, and I do like it in the summer on a relaxed lazying about in the park day, it was not exactly what I was longing for. Truth be told I was expecting Captain Blankenship spray to be similar to those other salt sprays, but it had a little trick up its sleeve. It actually delivered on those bouncy locks, even a little volume at the roots (if you choose to spray it there), without any stickiness. I can run my fingers through my hair with ease. As a cherry on top it actually smells pretty amazing, when I read that it contains essential oils of palmarosa and rose geranium, I was not all that sure (I have never liked any other products with palmarosa), but it has quickly become my favourite smelling hair product. The ingredients are pretty simple: water, pacific sea salt, aloe vera gel, organic sea kelp extract and those two essential oils. It is pretty much what you would expect from a sea salt spray with the exception of sea kelp extract, I am guessing the addition of this ingredient and how everything is combined together, is what makes this spray extra special and why it works so well.

Fig + Yarrow sea scrub. I am a little obsessed with body scrubs at the moment, this scrub in particular has been making me pretty happy. It has a fairly long list of ingredients, there is a lot going on in here but it feels like every ingredient has a purpose, they are not here just to bulk up the numbers. Here you will find salt from the Dead sea (the mineral composition of this salt differs from your normal sea salt and is considered to be more therapeutic for the skin), sea clay as well as coconut oil, shea butter and even Irish moss. It also contains rosemary leaf extract and five essential oils, including juniper and cypress. It is a real treat for your skin and your senses. The scent is mild yet distinctive, I find it very uplifting. The 170g jar seems pretty small for a body scrub but if you follow the directions, you are only supposed to extract a modest amount, and it has lasted pretty well. My skin really loves this stuff, it is like a scrub and a mudpack two in one, and even though the salt particles do seem a bit bigger than in some other scrubs, it never feels abrasive.

What do you guys think of my mermaid themed rituals? Anyone else get the calling of the ocean? Please share in the comments.

*affiliate link, it doesn't affect you in anyway, all it means is that if you do decide to purchase the product a small percentage will trickle down to me to help with the costs of the blog, we are not talking big bucks here but you never know I may become a millionaire! Oh just imagine how good the blog would look then!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

In the news: Cosmethics app.

                                                                        photos curtesy of Cosmethics

I remember when I first read No More Dirty Looks. Every bottle in my house was subjected to re-reading of ingredients, and every time I came across an ingredient I didn't recognise, I would flick through the book to see if it was on the 'offending' list. Admittedly this was never the most prudent of systems, and eventually, after committing most of the worst to memory, I stopped doing that. Whenever I feel like I have a handle on things there is a new ingredient with a strange name that trips me up. Sometimes it is perfectly natural like Pogostemon cablin otherwise known as patchouli oil, but other times it is a man made synthetic that I would rather avoid. The beauty of INCI ingredients is that they provide uniformity, the downside is that even the most familiar common names like avocado become completely alien persea gratissima. While I am more than happy to sit and study every label of a beauty product that comes my way, I realise that it is not everyone's idea of a great time. Sometimes the writing on the packaging can be quiet small and you can easily miss an ingredient that you might like to avoid due to personal sensitivity (this happened to me on more occasions than I care to admit). We do live in a world of wonder and technology, a handy app is most definitely here to help on this occasion.

Cosmethics app is a free tool that helps you weed out products best avoided from your possible new beauty purchases. On the home screen you are presented with a choice of scanning a barcode or searching for a product. If for what ever reason your barcode isn't being picked up, you can type it by hand. This app has been developed in Finland, so the database has quiet a range of products that are available in Europe, however green brands like RMS or Ilia are not currently present. If the products are not in the database they ask for two photos and promise to get back to you within a few hours over email (during the daytime of course, everyone needs sleep). If you don't have a particular product in front of you can search for it by name, or just generally browse different categories like makeup, fragrances, hair care. At this point products that are deemed 'toxic' are the ones that contain parabens, phthalate, formaldehyde, in other words the worst offenders. If you click on any product it gives you a full list of ingredients, and each ingredient is linked to a wiki page. However if a list contains an ingredient with a 'toxic' sign, that particular ingredient will be linked to an article created by the founders of the app, based on data from EU scientific committee on consumer safety and scientific research articles.

At this point still quiet a few products that I personally wouldn't like to use are still considered safe by the app. To get the most from this experience you need to login, and here is where the true magic happens. You can make your on personal lists of ingredients that you would like to avoid or activate premade alerts for plastic derived ingredients,  or non vegan ingredients. Basically you get to choose how green you want to go, you can easily put the whole list from No More Dirty Looks and any other book you can think of and see what options you have, without having to memorise one single ingredient ever. What more you van click the share button and all your friends can get access to your list as well. At this moment the only way to log in is through your Facebook account, but in about a months time google login will be live. As soon as it is live I will be creating my own lists for sure, but in the meantime I am simply browsing.