Friday 30 October 2015

Lani | Let's pretend you are a beach babe

When you think about it, most green beauty brands have an oil in their range, and while not everyone gets the fascination (I can literally hear some of you groaning "not another beauty oil"), I adore the stuff. I still get more excited about oils than most other products, because they genuinely work. With a lot of single oils and simpler blends you can actually use the same one as a makeup remover, moisturiser, hair treatment and body oil (very handy when travelling). Sometimes you might want a little more targeted blends, especially if you are like me and prefer stronger scented body products, but very lightly scented ones when it comes to facial skincare.

Looking at the vivid colours of the glass bottles from the Lani range, and inhaling the delicious scents, you might  think that the line hails from Hawaii or Fiji, or some exotic island. In fact it is made on that famously tropical Island of Great Britain (well some days it does feel like we are in a middle of a monsoon, so there). If you have a look at Lani"s instagram they are very much down with the beach vibe, and if you like your beauty products to provide a little escapism, this range is a definite winner. 

Lani tropical hair treatment. I have reviewed several hair oils in the past, but when you take into account performance and value for money, nothing gets better than this for someone with long hair. Natural oils from your scalp help keep your hair in tip top condition (that's why a good hair brush makes such a difference to hair health, it can spread the oils your scalp produces evenly across the whole length). The longer your hair the less of the good stuff gets to the very ends. So gorgeous ladies with short hair, and shoulder length hair, you don't need this. Long haired mavens, say hello to your new bestie. 

Using it is very simple, you massage some oil evenly into dry hair (I would say brush your hair before you do this, to make sure there are no knots, otherwise it's a bit tricky to distribute it), from the roots to the very ends, give your head a little massage while you are at it (trust me not only does it feel amazing, it is one of the best things you can do for your hair). Leave it on for half an hour or longer, I normally plait my hair afterwords and enjoy a silly movie, or a good book, all part of feeling pampered. Afterwards just wash your hair, they recommend shampooing twice to make sure you wash it all out, and condition as you would normally. The result is just beautifully bouncy locks, hair feels and looks really healthy.

The blend consists of 4 ingredients: camellia oil, coconut oil, kukui nut oil, and macadamia nut oil. The scent is like a sweet coconut dessert, which I really like, but if you are not a fan of coconut it is pretty strong, so you are not likely to enjoy it. I find myself using it most of the time when I wash my hair, which is twice a week (they recommend using it 1-2 a week for best results).  With the way I use it, it seems to last around 5 months, but on Lani website they say you can get anywhere between 6-18 uses out of the bottle (my hair is pretty long, hovers a little over my behind, and I just can't imagine how long the hair must be to go through this bottle in 6 uses, probably sweeping the floor).

Lani tropical body treatment. There was a lot of excitement when this coral bottle was being launched, and I actually won it in their Instagram giveaway. I have to say it is one of my favourite scents in a body product to date, and if there was a perfume with this fragrance I would be all over it. It's the mingle of coconut and Ylang Ylang that is just so darn intoxicating, I'm happy to just sit here and sniff at the bottle all day.

I don't have dry skin on my body, so I don't really need much of this at all. It is a very rich, silky feeling blend. While the bottle states you can use it on dry skin, I always apply my oils after a shower when my skin is still wet, you use a lot less product that way, and I find it just works better for me.I like the weight of this body oil, it's not like a dry oil, there is plenty of slip to it, but it isn't as heavy as a body butter, and it does sink in very well. Gives my skin a little luminosity, and leaves it lightly fragranced. I'm one of those people that wears perfume on special occasions, so I love a scented body product for the day to day. The scents are a lot more subtle, and go away within an hour or two, but they always put a smile on my face while I apply them.

Ingredients in the body treatment are: almond oil, coconut oil, camellia oil, baobab oil, moringa oil, and ylang ylang. All absolutely gorgeous for giving your skin some extra TLC. The coconut scent in this is not very strong, and it complements ylang ylang so well, that even if you are not a fan of coconut you just might find this a little irresistible. 

I have been very impressed with both products, and I do like the whole exotic island living vibe. Yes my body hasn't sported a tan in eons but I am a beach bum at heart. I do have one concern over the fact that as hard as I looked, I failed to see an expiry date or an open jar symbol to tell me how long the product stays fresh, on either of the bottles (this is a legal requirement for all cosmetics sold in EU). On the website it says that you need to use it within 12 months (I assume from when you recieve it). This information however should be on the bottle.

Have you guys tried any of the above products? Is a lack of expiry information on the bottle a concern?

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Halloween organic/natural beauty giveaway

I absolutely love Halloween, and while normally the treats in question are sweets, I thought that some of you guys might enjoy a beauty giveaway a little more.

In the goodie bundle:

1. Natracare makeup removal wipes (certified organic with Soil association)
2. Pink konjac sponge
3.Neal's yard Argan oil (certified organic with Soil association)
4. Josh Rosebrook Deep Nourishing conditioner travel size.
5. Myroo starflower & orange blossom facial serum
6. Fig + Yarrow facial steam summer.
7. Nourish calming moisturiser for sensitive skin
8. Lotus Wei truthteller lip balm.
9. Pai chamomile and rosehip day cream travel size (certified organic with SA)
10. Nourish cleanser for sensitive skin
11.Nourish serum for sensitive skin.

Little extras:

1. Pai cleanser 100ml (it includes a face cloth, completely brand new but the product will expire in the first week of January, that is why it is not part of the main prize).
2. Selection of travel size yarok haircare goodies.
3. Selection of samples cutomised to the winner.

This giveaway is not sponsored and international entries are welcome, but please note before entering that anyone outside of UK/EU will need to split the postage costs with me because the package will be rather heavy.

Good Luck!!!

Organic/natural beauty giveaway

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Spotlight on | Leahlani

When I find myself exceptionally stressed out I close my eyes, take a few breaths and imagine myself chilling on some sort of tropical island, with a huge coconut cocktail in my hand. While I have never personally been to Hawaii, there seems to be some sort of consensus that it is an absolutely beautiful destination. From the craziness of London, island leaving comes across like an escapist fantasy of gorgeous sunsets and easy going days (ok I'm sure life is never that easy anywhere, but you can't take away the scenery). While unfortunately I can't jump on a plane and be on the shores of Kauai, I sure can get at little Aloha in my skincare rituals.

Leahlani skincare range comes across deceptively simple: honey based masks, infused coconut oil, serums, body butters, island inspired perfumes. A closer look at ingredients and you realise that this is no simple DIY that anyone could whip up in their own kitchen, perfume blends in particular take both skill and talent. This Hawaiian gem of a brand is pretty popular amongst many bloggers, so I've been taking my time to see how I truly feel about the products. For the past year I have been slowly trying things out, growing my Leahlani stash one or two items at a time.

The mermaid mask. This was the very first product that I tried, and I'm not ashamed to admit that the reason why I got it was the name (yeah of course good reviews and the ingredients were also a factor but it was the name that made me want to get it). The jar itself is not that big 2oz (approximately 60ml and retails for around £15 depending on exchange rates), however the product is pretty concentrated and you need to use it up within 8 months of purchase (the shelf life is the same across all of the Leahlani skincare and bodycare items). As this is not the only mask that I use, I'm finding that it takes me pretty much full 8 months to finish a pot (however, Nic from Organic obsessions uses it 1-2 a week, and a pot lasts her about 3 months). As I ordered my Leahlani mask during colder months the contents of the pot were pretty solid on arrival, also a little warning be prepared for some strength exercises in jar opening, to make sure nothing spills in transit these babies have been closed up pretty tight (as on Hawaii the honey base would be pretty liquid). I would strongly suggest using a spatula to scoop some of the mask out, when it is on a more of a solid side add a little water to the mix before spreading on your face. Look in the mirror and enjoy pretending that you are a some sort of green goblin, or princess Fiona, sorry I mean mermaid.

This mask doesn't dry out because of the honey, so you need to time yourself, the suggestion is to leave it on for 3-5 minutes or longer. I normally have it on for about 5-10 minutes before jumping in the shower and letting water do its thing. I like doing it this way, because I'm pretty messy with most mask applications and while I love the wizard of Oz emerald green colour of this creation, it does inevitably end up in my hair and on my clothes, don't ask me how. It's just safer if I use it one the days that I'm washing my hair, plus since I'm applying this mask in the buff, I get an extra incentive to use my body brush, instead of randomly wondering around the flat creeping out Mr RF.

My skin is left feeling and looking pretty amazing, skin tone is even, pores look less noticeable and serums sink in like a dream after using it. I tend to buy more dry masks, there only 5 "wet" masks that I actually really like and would repurchase, mermaid is easily in the top 3. The scent is pretty unique, to me spirulina and sea buckthorn come across strongest, with a sweet hint of honey, the overall effect is a cross of  a tangy fruit jam and freshness of fennel (although there is no fennel in the blend).

Hawaiian raw organic honey, pure hawaiian spirulina, chlorella, luminess algae, sea buckthorn fruit, organic orange, chamomile, roman blue chamomile, bee balm (this is a name of a plant, not made from bees), geranium, palmarosa, lavender, ylang ylang, rose, white lotus, vanilla absolute, beeswax, coriander seed oil.

Honey love 3-in-1 cleanser, mask & exfoliator. The fact that I bought this at all is a testament to the power of samples, because if it wasn't included in with a previous order I would never have picked up the full size (I just wasn't interested in a microdermabrasion type product). The honey base is mixed with powdered hibiscus, lavender and chamomile flowers, and microdermabrasion effect is from corundum crystals. This is not the same as getting a microdermabrasion treatment in a salon, think of it as a physical scrub with very fine crystals instead of beads or nut shells. In a warm climate honey love is more liquid, so the crystals would naturally form a sediment at the bottom, making it easy to use as cleanser by scooping a little product from the top, or as a scrub by mixing it all up and scooping up an even mixture of ingredients. Which ever way you use it, you need to apply it to wet skin, you could also leave it on for a few minutes as a mask.

On the British isles the weather is rarely that warm, so instead this product seems so solidify with various pockets having more or less crystals. It turns out that the lighter areas have most of the crystals and the darker veins of the product have hardly any. I mostly use this a scrub, occasionally as a mask in the shower. The shower mask is especially great towards the bottom of the jar, when there are too many crystals left, I mix a bit of the product with water, applying to damp face making sure not to rub, the shower water completely removes the mask without any scrubbing happening. I generally find that physical scrubs work well with my skin, my pores are prone to blackheads and this product is pretty amazing at dealing with that particular problem. You do need to be careful when using it though, as you could easily end up with way more scrubbing action than you expected. Still for a while I thought this product was better than the Mermaid mask, but honestly can't decide between the two, which ever one I'm using at the time seems to be the better one! Maybe I should have had mermaid on half of the face and honey love on the other to test! Typical, only just thought of this when I run out so I can't do the comparison, how annoying. This mask comes in two sizes, the 2oz is about £12.

Unfortunately I have recycled my empty pot prematurely, so I can't give you guys the exact list of ingredients that I had, but there have been some changes. Here is the current ingredient list:

Hawaiian raw honey, organic hibiscus flowers, organic chamomile flowers, organic lavender flowers, leahlani balancing essential oil blend, organic vegetable glycerine, rosewater, rosemary antioxidant complex, organic jojoba oil, vitamin e, vitamin c, corundum crystal powder.

Coco Infusion Pua Lei. I love coconut infusions, my absolute favourite is monoi de tahiti with frangipani (which I unfortunately can't find since I've started being more selective with brands and ingredients). They make a brilliant multipurpose product for hair and body. Leahlani's in particular is a mixture of:  coconut oil, kukui oil, macadamia nut oil, seabuckthorn fruit, vitamin E and a blend of organic fragrances. Pua lei is a mix of puakenikini flowers and tuberose. The scent is intoxicating, it is what I would call a girly floral. It is feminine but not like a femme fatale, but a youthful playful fragrance, reminiscent of exotic holidays and summer romance, flirty, sexy, but not dangerous.

While the scent is strongest when first applied, it does linger for several hours, so if someone is close enough to kiss you on the cheek, they will notice it, but you are not walking around in the cloud of fragrance. My skin drinks this up, yet a little goes along way. I find that I need to be careful not to have too much product out all at once. As with most coconut oil based products it is practically solid at room temperature, however as it comes in a plastic bottle, I can easily squeeze some out (or you can always run the bottle under a hot tap to make it melt a bit more). It works beautifully as a hair treatment oil too, personally I don't use it as such because I have a few others, but I do like rubbing the tiniest bit between my hands and smoothing it through my hair to tame flyaways and for the scent. It comes in two varieties, plain or kula version which has sparkles (there is also another scent, Mahana, coconut and vanilla).

Mango Body butter. From the start I did not get on with this product. First of all I would not describe it as a butter, the consistency, look and feel is that of a yogurt. As I was expecting a solid butter, I wasn't very careful when opening the pot, so almost a quarter of the butter did end up on my bed, due to the way I was holding the jar. Now obviously there is nothing wrong with a cream consistency if that is what you are looking for, it can feel very soothing and refreshing, however I prefer balms and oils. There are only two body creams/lotions that I repurchase, and both are because I love the scent. I do not love this scent, at all. I have had mango body butters in the past and just adored them, this to me smells a bit like bubble gum (I'm not sure if something went wrong with my batch, but I really don't smell mango and I did ask Mr RF to sniff test it, we both seem to smell the same thing). Generally speaking the consistency is fab, it sinks in really well and moisturises wonderfully, so if you like lotions it is a lovely one, however this particular scent is really not working for me. In the light of the fact that I loved the coco infusions, and all the scents of other Leahlani products, I am really surprised that I disliked the body butter quiet this much.

The jar is around £14 for 8oz.

shea butter, veg glycerin, sunflower and olive oil, vit e, coconut oil, caprylyl glycol from coconut, glycine derivative preservative, fragrance and essential oil blend, rose ether

Perfume oils. At present I have three Leahlani perfumes: Pua Lei, Pikake, and Lychee. While I like all three it is probably obvious that Pua Lei is the favourite, since I have the coco infusion in the same scent. It is just absolutely gorgeous, the roll on is a little more intense than the body oil in terms of fragrance, but otherwise they smell the same. Pikake is a sharp floral that sort of reminds me of carnations a little, it comes of a bit stronger than the others originally, and settles down after a few minutes. I think of it as a floral for people who like to stay active, the fragrance is sort of bouncy and spirited, like a quick step dancer. Lychee is an odd one, while it doesn't smell like the fruit, and generally makes me think of vanilla when I sniff the bottle, on my skin it smells like a summer berry jam, but not nearly as sweet as it does in the bottle. There is an undeniable powdery note which I normally don't like in perfumes, but it somehow works here.

The perfumes need to be used within 9 months of purchase and are around £16. Some of the blends use fragrance oils, but they are alcohol and phthalate free.


As I was looking at the Leahlani etsy store to link up products for this review, I noticed that some of the ingredient lists are missing entirely and others are different from the listings on the pots. After asking Leah, it appears that there are lots of changes happening at once so things will be getting updated in the near future. As a rule of thumb I don't purchase from brands that don't list ingredients online. I have pretty strong feelings on the subject, and I really dislike it when brands don't have this information, due to personal skin sensitivities and in general, like many green consumers, I tend to make my purchasing decisions based on the ingredients list, so lack of them normally would loose me as a customer. In this particular instant I already tried and fell in love with the products, so I am just waiting for the updates to happen (if you don't want to wait and are happy to email, Leah is not keeping secrets she will send you all the info you need).

There are some exciting changes taking place with Leahlani, new packaging and products, that I am personally looking forward to. A lot of thought goes into creating this range and the products are made to order. Leah, the formulator and the belle behind the brand, is a trained esthetician who also went through a lot with her own skin, the range grew from a personal journey, and I think that is one of the reason why so many people are loving the products. For me both masks and the coco infusion are the winners. The masks especially stand out from the sea of facial care products as something that delivers wonderful results while still being very gentle with your skin.

Have you tried anything from the Leahlani range? Any favourites? Anything on the wish list?

Friday 2 October 2015

Bodhi & Birch | Flora Paradiso

Generally speaking beauty products are all about self care, taking time out from your busy day to take care of the one and only, it is time when you get to be very selfish and concentrate completely on yourself. It is what I like about having my little pamper rituals, for those 15-20 minutes (ok maybe an hour once in a blue moon), I really am the centre of the universe, letting my products make me feel like a princess from the Arabian Nights. Massage oils on the other hand are not really a part of this story, instead of focusing on self, massage oils let you focus on your intimate relationship. Just imagine lighting up some candles, opening up a fragrant bottle of oil to use on your loved one, the intimacy that this ritual creates is an incredibly seductive way to show your other half how much you care about them.

I could go on, but at the risk of this post becoming a Danielle Steel novel, I think it's time for Flora Paradiso* to take centre stage. As with any good massage oil, you are looking for a combination of carrier oils, that would give a good slip but are also not too heavy or they won't be properly absorbed by the skin. The base in this blend is a mix of caprilyc/capric triglyceride fraction of coconut oil, and apricot kernel oil, making it light and easily absorbed by the skin, yet still perfect for a massage that incorporates light strokes. Flora Paradiso* is actually inspired by traditional massage techniques from South-East Asia, which are guided by energy flow and balances within the body. If that is all a little too Zen for you, what makes any massage oil truly special is the choice of essential oils.

Essential oils have both topical and aromatherapeutic properties, while your skin and muscles are enjoying the physical benefits of a massage that the chosen oil complements, your mind is soothed by inhaling the scent. In this blend you will find: Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Atlas cedarwood, Chamomile, High altitude lavender, Patchouli, Petigrain, Bergamot, Damascan rose. There are a lot of different essential oils so you are advised to patch test 24 hours before use, Bodhi and Birch only uses bergaptene free bergamot in all their products which isn't photosensitising. The blend includes both relaxing and uplifting essential oils, with ylang ylang also boasting some aphrodisiac qualities. There is nothing stopping you from using it as a regular body oil to moisturise your skin. The scent isn't overpowering and does disappear within an hour, or maybe a little less, leaving you in good spirits with wonderfully soft skin. I do like using it in this capacity, but frankly I feel a little guilty not sharing all this goodness, so more often than not it is utilised as massage blend.

The fragrance is very soothing, a soft chamomile note works with the overall floral sweetness of the blend, making it more unisex rather than feminine (although let's face it, the lines of what is and isn't girly are more than a little blurred, so who cares as long as you find the scent appealing). In general I find massage is one of those amazing things that can make you feel like a million dollars, take away all the tension and out a smile on your face, it just feels so good to be on the receiving end. However, I'm also one of those people, if I don't feel completely comfortable with the masseuse, I just can't relax and get the benefit of it. It is just such a vulnerable position to be in, in the hands of a complete stranger. So while Mr RF is far from a professional, I always feel very safe in his hands, and when it comes to swapping places, it is my way of saying thank you and showing my love and appreciation for the fact that he is in my life. It wouldn't be right to use a product that didn't complement the sentiment. Flora Paradiso* has a scent and feel that is really conducive to romance, the rest is up to the participants.

*PR sample, all opinions expressed are my own, based on my personal experience with the product. No one spoon feeds me information, honesty and integrity are not things I take lightly. No amount of pressure (real or imaginary) would make me post something that wasn't authentic.