Friday 16 December 2016

Mallow beauty.

Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do. What is this fascination with beauty products all about? Because let's face it, it was there long before I became interested in mindful living, and long before the words "green" and "organic"  started to be part of my vocabulary, infused with special meaning. It could have been my subconscious that led me here, having had to deal with some seriously bad rashes as a kid, and acne when I was older. When your skin goes through ups and downs it is only natural to want to look after it, and it really does go beyond vanity and looking good. Yet this is still only part of the story, there was a time when I was more interested in individual products, and if the rest of the brand wasn't as clean, I didn't really care (as long as what I was using fit my ingredient standards). I still look at all the products individually, and I think it is a good model, however, what the brand stands for overall, has become increasingly more important, especially since my skin is no longer as problematic. I now have the luxury of choosing from a range of things that work, instead of sticking to that one cream that doesn't aggravate my skin.

Choice is really what it comes down to. Without realising it, especially if you tend to be pretty loyal to beauty products, you are inviting certain skincare products to be part of your life. You are applying them morning and evening, often in a rush, hoping for a particular outcome, sticking to the products if they achieve it and moving on to something else when they don't. What is it in the products that makes them work? Why do some blends seem to be akin to magic potions transforming our skin and others have no effect or even make things worse? If this question is asked of a natural or organic brand, the answer is somewhat obvious, it is all about the plants.

It is a rare brand indeed that can boast to be certified organic and to use plants grown on their own farm in their formulations. Herbfarmacy isn't just focused on botanical skincare, plants are the heart and soul here. After visiting their farm this summer and witnessing the making of Mallow beauty balm*, it brought a few things into perspective. The whole point of organic beauty is the quality of the plants and their properties. The plants are not going to have much to offer without healthy soil, so while picking up a pot of cream we might think "skincare and formulators", we really should be thinking "farming practises and formulators". There really are a lot of parallels between food and skincare. The best restaurants have not only talented chefs, they also make sure that the produce that they work with is of the highest quality. Similarly, the best skincare is not simply about the inventive formulations, it is about the quality of the plants, and all of it goes back to healthy soil.

Herbfarmacy farm is gorgeous, especially since when I visited everything seemed to be in bloom: marshmallow, mullein, calendula, echinacea, and chamomile, all contributing to a spectacular landscape. Yet none of it would be the same without Paul Richards, who's love for plants is evident every time I talk to him. It is clear that plants and their properties is what he is taken by, and I think this is why Herbfarmacy is so special. While you will find some essential oils on the ingredients lists, the plants grown on the farm are actually used as macerates and extracts. Most of the flowers, once picked (with calendula, each flower head is picked by hand), are dried, and then these flowers will go through a process of maceration, where they will infuse particular oils, before being used in final formulations. As you can imagine, this is a long process from farm to skin. The result is products that really put "care" in "skincare" (yeah, I had to go there).

About 40 minutes away from the farm, in Malvern, there is a place called Pure Hair Design. This is not simply a natural hairdressers, upstairs there is a treatment room and they offer organic facials using Herbfarmacy products. The therapist referred to Mallow beauty balm* as "skin food", and it was the true star of the facial. She used it as a first step cleanser and a nourishing mask, also employing a lymphatic drainage technique using brushes, somewhere in the course of the facial. The whole experience of having these gorgeous products used in a facial made me truly appreciate the delicate scents, and how soothing the formulations are on the skin. Mallow balm* not only smells like flower nectar, the star ingredients, marshmallow root and mullein, have fantastic skincare properties. Marshmallow holds and attracts moisture to the surface of the skin, and mullein has antiseptic properties and helps with redness, making this balm my personal winter favourite (to be perfectly honest, since it is a multipurpose product, I tend to use it all year round, but during colder months I reach for it more often).

The 30ml pot of Mallow beauty balm* is like a super hero, even if all you have is this balm, muslin cloth and access to warm water, you can still have a pretty fab nourishing pamper session. Use it to cleanse your face, like you would any other balm cleanser, taking time to massage the skin and removing it with a warm damp cloth. Follow by a generous layer of the balm, applied like a mask, place a hot cloth on top to deepen the effects, leave on for 10 minutes. After removing it all, you can apply a tiny amount to damp skin to seal in the moisture. It really is that versatile, the key is in how much and what way you are applying it.

This year Herbfarmacy is celebrating a pretty big anniversary, 10 years! Since it is such a momentous occasion and the holiday season is upon us, we have teamed up to give away 10 pots of Mallow Beauty Balm. Yep you got that right, there will be 10 winners. I decided to split it up a little, I will choose 5 winners from people who enter here on the blog, and 5 winners from Instagram entries. You are welcome to enter both here and on Instagram, I will make sure to choose 10 different people so no one walks away with 2 pots, but this way you double your chances. The giveaway is UK only, it will close on 31st of December 2016. Winners will be announced on 2 of January 2017.

Herbfarmacy Mallow Beauty Balm Giveaway

*PR sample. The Mallow Beauty Balms for the prizes have been generously provided by Herbfarmacy. The writing is my own based on the experince with the product, I have been using Mallow Balm on and off for several years, while the latest jar I have was given to me on the trip, I have bought my own in the past and would do so again. As always, keeping it honest and transparent for you guys. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday 8 December 2016

Titanic Spa Getaway

Situated on the edge of the Pennines in West Yorkshire, there is a building that has been standing since 1911 (the same year that the passenger liner RMS Titanic was built). Once it was a traditional textile mill, today it contains residential apartments and a Spa.

When the building was renovated, it was done with Eco standards in mind: rrenewable energy is generated through solar photovoltaic roof panels, low U value windows virtually eliminate draughts, energy-efficient lighting and appliances are installed through the building. Titanic Spa has its own water source found 100m below (this was the original water source when the building was a working textile mill). These days it provides fresh drinking water and bathing water for their plunge pool, salt water regulated pool, showers and ice experience. You can find different treatments and relaxation packages at the Titanic, the most luxurious being overnight breaks.

Overnight stays include: 1 course light lunch, 2 course evening meal; use of all of the spa facilities; complimentary robes, slippers and towels; overnight accommodation (in one of  the 32 apartments integrated throughout the residential apartments); continental breakfast and a  choice of treatment (this would depend on the type of the package you go for, or you could choose the Simply Spa package without any treatments).

The arrival time for the Overnight break is between 10.30 and 11.00, and that is exactly the time that we arrived. Check-in was very quick and easy, followed by a welcome drink and a short tour of the facilities. We could choose to leave our bags at the reception for the staff to take up to the apartment once it was ready at 14.00, or put them in the locker that was provided for our personal belongings (our overnight bag was uncharacteristically small, once we changed into swimwear it made more sence just to leave it in the locker).


Newly robed and slippered, our first stop was the salt regulated swimming pool. The water was gorgeous, such a pleasure to swim in, completely relaxing, and not a whiff of chlorine. Part of the swimming pool is squared off, with the under water sitting area and aqua jets that work at the push of a button, this is the hydrozone experience. There is a steam room and sauna next to the swimming pool, but it has nothing on the dedicated Heat & Ice experience. The hot tub is situated outside on the terrace.

The Heat & Experience, was our next stop, and it is truly special. As you can guess, it consists of several heating and cooling areas. The main area is in a shape of a circle, with showers and a plunge pool in the middle, and different rooms behind glass doors along the outer circle. It is suggested to vary between the heat experiences and the cooling down ones. It is up to you what order to follow. You could take your time in the aromatherapy room, with heated floor, benches and walls, that offers a dry, warm environment for perspiring and cleansing the pores, and follow it with a cool tropical shower to wash it all away.

Go into the Saunariam for the combination of traditional Scandinavian sauna with the benefits of steam infusion. This allows you to stay longer in the cabin and lets the warmth sip into your muscles and joints. Follow this experience by dipping into the plunge pool if you dare.


Next it could be the crystal steam room. The combination of heat and essential oils is very relaxing, and is meant to be beneficial for the respiratory system. The ice room would make a delightful next stop. The temperature in this room is at constant 15C, so it isn't freezing but feels very cooling, especially if you are just coming out of a steam room or a sauna. You will find crushed ice here, and gently applying it to your body feels really invigorating.


The herbal infusion room and the sauna cabin had to be my favourite heat experiences. Think of a traditional steam bath, combined with the aroma of pine, lavender and eucalyptus, this is the herbal infusion room in a nutshell. The sauna cabin provides dry heat that is wonderful for tired and aching muscles. To finish the fun on a cooler note, there is a bucket shower, which is actually not as scary as it sounds, and rather enjoyable.

This area also has the access to the private mud chamber (but this experience is extra) and foot baths, which are a great way to sit back and relax after all the heating and cooling down.

Titanic has a range of organic treatments on offer using Neom Luxury Organics products. I went with the full body massage. As luck would have it, a few days prior to the trip I sprained my ankle pretty badly, so having the treatment that I was booked in for was out of the question. The therapist was so accommodating, straight away making suggestions on how we could customise the massage for me. It ended up being an upper body massage, concentrating on back and shoulders, with a little of a head massage there too. I was so completely relaxed, and I felt absolutely amazing. Even though I love pampering treatments, getting a massage can actually make you feel pretty vulnerable. It takes a special kind of person to make one feel at ease and relaxed. I was so absolutely comfortable with the therapist at the Titanic, that even the stress of having a dodgy ankle didn't take away from the treatment. The products that were used on me smelled lovely without being overpowering, adding to the relaxing effect of the massage. My skin felt wonderfully soft too.

In between exploring different parts of the spa, we kept coming back to the relaxation lounge. This area has a bean bag pit with a holographic fire (that makes soothing crackling noises just like the real one), a book shelf with reading material, loungers with pillows and blankets, banked seating and huge bean bags scattered around, which are unbelievably comfortable. This quiet area has dimmed lighting, relaxing music and a water dispenser, you could easily lose several hours in here snoozing or reading.


The apartment that we stayed at was absolutely gorgeous, very light, with huge windows and a lovely lounge. Fitted with a fully functional kitchen, you could easily pop out to the shops and make something for yourself if you wanted to. The continental breakfast was placed in the wicker basket (milk and orange juice were in the fridge). Lunch and dinner were served at the bistro in the spa.

Menu changes with the seasons and what is available from local suppliers, with preference being given to organic and fair-trade ingredients whenever possible. Food was absolutely delicious, vegetarian and pescatarian options were both on offer, but I didn't see anything that was vegan. As the menu itself is not huge, any dietary requirements need to be mentioned upon reservation. The bistro itself had a wonderful atmosphere, with a perfect setting for a delightful evening.

All in all, Titanic spa is a fantastic destination, that takes its eco credentials seriously, from its laundry practices to the building itself. The facilities are incredible and all of it is made even better by very friendly staff. If you are thinking of spoiling someone this Christmas, a Titanic spa gift card is definitely the way to do it.  Titanic spa is open over the New Year, if you want to have a romantic celebration, or a girls getaway and make use of the champagne lounge.

Saturday 3 December 2016

Victoria Fantauzzi | La Bella Figura + Giveaway

When buying skincare most of us are looking for effective formulations. The delightful Victoria, from La Bella Figura, strongly believes that there is a lot more to the bottled up potions than meets the eye. Beauty products have an ability not only to make us look good, but also feel good. It is all part of the experience.

How did you get involved in making skin care, what was your journey?

It was really a decision to change careers. We experienced this decline in the economy, it was 2007-2008. Karen and I were freelancing, working with autistic kids. One day we were talking about how heavy the job was and what we would if we weren’t doing this job. Both of us wanted to do something creative with cosmetics or perfume. The thought was kind of crazy at the time because we knew absolutely nothing other than the products that we loved. We started researching, and I thought we could do this, it would be a lot of work but we could do it. That’s how it started.

When we first planned it, we were going to do mostly perfume, that was something we really wanted to get into, to be a perfume brand. Never ever, not even in our wildest dreams did we think we would be where we are now. Like when you start a hobby, and you love it so much, you make that hobby a career and it becomes successful, that is just so joyous. That is what happened for us.

You must have fallen in love with some ingredients.

We did! At the time we were really in love with argan oil, and we still are, but then I started to notice that it was being used by everyone. It was even used by not so clean brands, these big brands, that were taking notice because everyone was talking about argan oil. We thought we can’t really use it, what would set as apart from everyone else? We started researching and that is when we found barbary fig seed oil, and we thought ‘wow, this is better, and it’s not being used in formulations here in the States’.  We are so glad that we went with barbary, as now it is kind of popular here and more widely used. This was when we realized that if we focus on the quality of the ingredients and education, we can really connect and do our job of proving that these [natural] types of products really do work. But you really need to understand, where and how they are made, where the ingredients are coming from. We decided to focus on that.

Even to this day, there are many people who are confused about organic ingredients. There are organic ingredients that are used that aren’t raw, they are processed, but are still certified and are called organic. What we do is, we look for raw, unrefined, unprocessed ingredients. Sometimes the end result looks different from one production to another, that’s why our products might have  slightly different coloring from one batch to another. To us, having the consistency or the color of the cream to be exactly the same, every single time, is not the most important thing, I care more that the ingredients are not touched. This is where there will be more antioxidants, and that’s the value of the ingredient. We learned that from dealing with the barbary fig seed oil, and how hard it was to get into the United States produced raw.

From wanting to be a perfume brand, to gradually moving into skincare, did you always intend for La Bella Figura to use natural and organic ingredients?

Yes, from the very beginning. The idea was that we wanted to do these beautiful solid perfumes, and then we didn’t, because we started to get into skincare. The perfumes in our range were created later on. We knew that we wanted to be natural and organic. It doesn’t matter to me that we are not certified USDA organic because a lot of ingredients that we bring in are grown in the wild, where plants aren't sprayed with chemicals, but our suppliers either can’t afford to get organic certification, or it is not worth their time. As long as we know that they aren't treated with chemicals, we are ok with that.

Why did you want to go with natural?

When we were working with a lot of autistic children, we noticed that there was a correlation between their diagnosis and having lots of issues with food, allergies, and chemicals that triggered certain behaviors. We have studied that for a long time, and we knew about it. My great-aunt, who recently passed away, was a nutritionist. She was always very healthy and she taught us about all things natural and organic, about growing your own. That was always part of my personal makeup and how we ate. So when it came to LBF, we had to do it the right way. We weren’t going to add junk and then tell people to buy it, knowing full well that we were adding terrible things into our products. We set out with the idea that we are going to do this as clean as possible, and use as high-grade ingredients as possible, and we are going to have a lot of integrity.

We knew this was going to be a hard job, and a hard educational process. At the time, a lot of people were in the mindset that natural just doesn’t work. We were going to have to break some stereotypes that were ingrained in people’s heads (like oil is bad for your skin). We knew from the very beginning that we were going to be natural and a natural brand.

How do you ensure the quality of the ingredients you source?

Recently we were sourcing grape seed oil for our capsule collection and I tried a few different ones, and I wasn’t happy. A friend told me about a winemaker who was producing grape seed oil in California. I went to meet him, see the whole process and try the oil. It was just so beautiful, dark and pure, I was so happy. A lot of the times we will travel to the place where we can see how the ingredient is being produced to try it. We go through a lot of trials.

Ingredient picking is the most important thing. This is where I am very picky, I am very passionate about us having the best quality. I will just keep looking until both Karen and I are satisfied with how good the raw ingredients are.

Has it ever happened that you loved the quality of an oil and then, a year or two down the line, it wasn’t the same?

This is the hard part of having this kind of business, we have had to deal with that. We have also had a supplier that just couldn’t do it anymore, it wasn’t cost effective to produce certain ingredients. We have had to beg people sometimes, 'please keep making this for us'. It is always very challenging. We’ve had years when an ingredient was wiped out from the market because of a storm. There was one year when helichrysum oil was impossible to find. The consistency is not there, and that is the hard part of the job. When you are using natural ingredients, you are also relying on good weather and good seasons for the producers, and that is when things get tricky for natural brands.

Do you think it is possible to focus on the quality and scale-up the business?

Yes, I do. This is how I figured it out. The more educated our customers are about ingredients and how products  work, the more excited they get about new and upcoming releases. They are willing to talk to their friends, and the more benefits they see the more involved they get. I see it as being very honest and having good conversations with people who buy our products, about how things are. Those customers appreciate the work that we and other brands do, what it really means to make skincare this way. They do seem to understand if there is an issue because an ingredient isn’t available and we can’t produce a certain product for a while.

I think that the hard part about scaling is not really the customer because the customer is so patient and understanding when they are in love with the product. It is actually the middle person who gets impatient, the retailer. So if we run into a problem where we have a sourcing issue and can’t produce a certain product, then it is very frustrating for them, and the retailers get very scared. But I think those retailers are also in a position to have a conversation with their customers, explain what is different about the products, and why it is taking longer to come back when it is sold out. People get scared because they are so into money-making and not losing customers. But I think really good customers, the ones that get it, are understanding. They do not want us to change the formula by using lesser quality ingredients. I think people would be very disappointed if we did that.

Just imagine if we chose ingredients on the basis that it was something that was always in supply, even though it didn’t really give results.  I would not be ok with that, this is not how we wanted to build our business. At some point, this will be a challenge, but our customers are so savvy that they are ok with that. It is really about changing the conversation not only between brands and customers but also between retailers and customers, explaining why something is out of stock. I know this is scary for a lot of the brands trying to grow their business, there are so many people talking about how to scale up, whether or not to manufacture out, and it’s really up to the individual brand. But here at LBF, I just could not imagine doing that, and telling my customers 'we changed the formula and now it’s completely different'.

Does sustainability come into question when you are working on formulations?

It does a lot. When we are making something new, we always think about sustainability, it is a really big thing for us. We want to make good quality things and we want to be sensitive, kind to the environment, but we do have a footprint that we are making. We send things across the country, or the world and we try to be mindful of all of that. From the packaging to where the ingredients are coming from, it all goes into consideration.  We try to find a couple of producers in the same area, so we have fewer things flying in from all over the world too.

You mentioned having a nutritionist in the family, how important is food to you when it comes to beauty?

Oh, as far as making a difference, it is very important. We know that food, the way you eat and take care of your body, do manifest in your appearance. It affects how you feel, how your hair looks, and your health. Of course, that matters. A lot of times when we get customers asking for skincare advice, we will ask them about their diet, lifestyle, stress levels and so on. We want to be really honest, we definitely want to help people choose products that help transform their skin and make them look as good as possible, but we don’t want to tell people 'this is going to change your life, this is the cure'. That is not true. A lot of times when we are talking to people directly when we meet them at events, and they tell us some of the things that they are going through related to something that they are eating, or they recently figured out that they are allergic to something. We hear it all the time, we know that there is a definite correlation between food, health, and beauty.

Do you think it is important for food to be organic?

I personally feel that it is, for several reasons. I consider myself an environmentalist, just the thought of sprayed chemicals, GMOs(I know it is a very political issue) and all that, makes me really upset with how it impacts the planet. Also, I really can taste the difference. If you have an organic peach and one that isn’t, I can really tell. Conventional fruit and vegetables are picked so early, that they don’t get a chance to ripen. They are sold at the grocery store and it looks very beautiful, people sometimes don’t even know what a strawberry is supposed to taste like. The taste and the flavor is a big thing for me because I like to eat, and I want to eat well.

What environmental issues are you concerned with most at the moment?

I am really concerned about pesticides and bees disappearing. Of course, I am concerned about climate change, but I am really troubled  by the fact that people either don’t understand or don’t appreciate how severe of a problem this is, bees disappearing, and the crazy amount of pesticides sprayed on flowers, fruits, and vegetables. We don’t have good legislation to monitor that, we have big companies, big corporations behind all sorts of research. I don’t feel that research is very fair, and that is really scary to me. Bees disappear, we won’t have food, we can’t live. Colonies are collapsing and we are not really doing anything about it.

With having a business and a family, how do you find balance?

I am going to tell the real truth: when you are an entrepreneur, there is no balance. It's about priorities. We do things on a priority basis, you make decisions everyday on what is most important to do today. What is going to affect my business today? What is going to affect my family today? There is no real balance. Anyone who runs a company and tries to pretend that there is a balance, or says that there is a balance, is not telling the truth.

I know a lot of other brand owners, I know them well, and we all have some of the same issues. I don’t have children, and those of my friends with businesses who do, I am just amazed. How do you throw kids into the mix of how we are living our lives? Every day is a different day, it is never the same. To me, that is very exciting, to some people they wouldn’t be able to handle it because they need things to be calm and consistent. There are days when I could be up at 3 o’clock in the morning, and I’m being interviewed by someone in London that is 6 hours ahead or talking to a producer in Tunisia and the day won’t end until midnight. Those are long days. Other days I’m in production or doing creative things, like a photo shoot. There is a lot of guilt all the time.

Your company is like your baby, you need to nurture and focus on it all the time. When you have a relationship, partner, kids, family, it is really hard. The last few weeks have been really tough for me, with the crazy elections that we had, it being the holiday season , and my great-aunt getting really ill. I am lucky that I have a great business partner, who understands and who took on a lot of extra responsibility when I needed to go be with my family. You have to make decisions like that every day, but there is no balance.

As far as doing things that I find pleasurable, I love going to the art museum. We travel for work all the time, but whenever I can I take a break, I travel for fun. I don’t want to check my work emails and stay so connected, I want to take photos and meet people. Have coffee, and go for long 3-4 hour dinners with friends. I really try to appreciate that time. Even trying to find some time on the weekend, just a bit of time for yourself, I think is really important. When you own a business you work on the weekends too. Having that time when you can disconnect and be in your present life is a good thing, so I try to do that as much as I can.

You mentioned that traveling was something that you like to do to unwind. Out of all the places, you have visited, which ones stood out?

There are still so many places I haven’t been to! I really love Spain a lot, and Europe in general. I like places where food is good. I am more of a 'cultural' type of traveler. I do like hiking and nature, and I do that all the time, but I feel antsy if I can’t see a museum and I want to go to every art museum. I love food markets and staying at air BnBs, I think this how you get a real sense of what it is like to live in that place. I don’t want to be a tourist, sometimes you are a tourist you just can’t help it, but I want to experience things, and occasionally that means getting on a wrong bus or train, getting lost and trying to find your way back. I really love that.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find it in art, music, food, cooking and listening to people, finding out what makes them happy. One of the things about beauty products is that everyone who uses them, men or women, can say that they make them feel good. Using things that you really love, doesn’t just make your skin look good, it really does make you feel good too. The smell, the packaging, it is all an experience. This is really important to us because we want people to connect with LBF as not only a brand that produces good quality products but also gives them a unique experience. I think we do this really well, and that is always what we aim for. Every time we think of something new that we want to do, we really think about what we could do that would be different, makes people excited.

Have you ever had days when things weren’t going so well and you just wanted to give up?

Yes recently! The capsule collection was really hard, it was a hard thing to put together. To make those spheres we use a process called reverse spherification, and we do this ourselves in our studio. It was hit or miss every time we were making the spheres. If you make a tiny 2-second mistake, it would ruin the whole thing, you would need to start from the beginning. It was getting really frustrating, and with all the delays, I was starting to think maybe we shouldn’t launch this for another year. Eventually, we decided to push through and got it all together, but it was really hard.


Where did the idea for the capsule collection come from?

Both Karen and I love to cook, we have tons of cookbooks. I just watched a documentary about a chef. We were having a meeting about new products and what to do, and I said, “what if we did something really crazy, and created a product where our customers would make their own products”. Karon asked, “like what?”, and I said, “like a capsule".

We included some formulated products, and others are single ingredients, that allow people to design their own serum, moisturizer, whatever they need. We both thought the concept was a bit crazy because people buy products from us so they don’t have to make their own, and not everyone can make products. Yet we also knew that some of our customers were already customizing. They would tell us that they mix Aria with Crema Virtuosa and so on. I was hearing that they were doing that with some other products, and other brands. So I thought we had a very interesting customer demographic. They are so smart and savvy about ingredients and skincare, about how antioxidants work. Why not allow them to create their own products, based on what we choose to put into this capsule? That is how it came about.

Because of the spheres, it really takes no time to mix something together, and it is a lot of fun. The product is very potent because you are using it right then and there, the need for an emulsifier is also eliminated. It was a bit of a wild idea, but people are really getting into it.

What do you do to de-stress? Do you have a special “happy place” you go to?

It varies. If I am at work and it is a really stressful day, and I am sitting at my desk in front of a computer, going through tons of emails, I will put my headphones on and I will go for a walk. We have a beautiful park down the street. Sometimes it will be a 5-10 minute walk, other times it will be 30. Being outside makes me feel really good.


When I really want to de-stress I go to the art museum. The art museum here in Chicago is my favorite. I know it so well, I could direct people on how to get to different paintings. I often don’t go there to see something specific, but just to be there. I find it so soothing and so beautiful. I get really inspired every time I am in this beautiful building, with all the amazing paintings. I also find cooking to be very therapeutic. Shopping for ingredients, making something for my family, I like that a lot.

Now here comes the surprise... GIVEAWAY! 

We have teamed up with Reina Organics and La Bella Figura to giveaway a Capsule Collection to one lucky reader! To take part you need to share a picture of your "Happy place" on Instagram or Facebook by 21/12/16 tagging @theperidotmag + using #happyplace and #theperidotchristmas. The winner will be announced on 22/12/16, open to European Residents only.

Saturday 12 November 2016

The power of Dandelion | Lotus Wei

I have always been fascinated with dandelions. They may not be exotic, as they grow all over the world, and some gardeners might consider them weeds, but they are far from it. Every part of dandelion  is edible and can be made into tonics, salads, wine and the roots are also used for a coffee alternative. As a kid I used to make flower crowns from the bright yellow flowers, and once their heads would transform into the soft, white, round shapes towards the end of their cycle, it was time to blow on them and make wishes. This three stages of dandelion: simple green leaves, followed by the appearance of a tall stem with a bright yellow crown, succeeded by a soft sphere with seeds parachuting away with the winds; that is the transformation that always captured my imagination.

After becoming familiar with Lotus Wei and the way Katie Hess works with flowers, it introduced me to a completely different kind of transformation, that once again, involves dandelion. One of my favourite things to do on the Lotus Wei website is to take the flower test. This is pretty simple, all you need to do is take a look at the flowers and pick 3 that you are most attracted to.What never stops to surprise me is how accurate the results always are.

Katie Hess teamed up with Louie Schwartzberg and created an interactive book,  FLOWEREVOLUTION, which involves some of the the principles of this test, where you can see what each flower you are drawn to says about you. You can get a sneak peek at the first two chapters and find out more about the book here.

                                                 Photo courtesy of Lotus Wei

"Being visually attracted to dandelion means that you most likely have tension in shoulders and neck, it dissolves physical tension and helps you become more aware about how you store stress in the physical body. It helps you identify mental and emotional causes of muscular tension."

Neck and shoulder area have always been problematic for me, especially during the times of stress (don't get me wrong they are not permanently in the state of tension, but it happens often enough for me to identify it as an area that needs working on). The elixir that contains dandelion is Quiet Mind*. It is supposed to relieve tension in neck and shoulders, quiet your mind and help you sleep soundly (and we all know that without decent sleep, stress levels become of the chart).

The elixir is super easy to use: you can dissolve a full dropper in a bottle of water and sip it throughout the day, or pop 5 drop under the tongue 5 times a day. Drops under the tongue is the way I use it. The presence of honey in these flower remedies makes them really pleasant, so I actually look forward to using the elixir.

With quiet mind, I have found it to work really fast in the elixir* form, I also have a perfume and mist* versions, but the elixir is the one that seems to give the best results (I still love the mist and perfume, and all 3 together work like a magical tag team). I find the tension is pretty much gone within a day. If I am really stressed, however, I do need to keep using it for about 3 days to start feeling completely like myself again.

I always use some sort of form of quiet mind when I travel. I generally need a few days to get used to a new place before I can get a decent night's sleep, which is a problem when going on short trips, since it makes me into a zombie and then I need forever to recover once I'm back at home. Since I have been using quiet mind on my trips, the problem has become practically non-existent. I would still sleep a bit less than I would at home, but at least I am longer staring into the ceiling for most of the night.

The transformation that I see in myself after using Quiet Mind elixir*, has opened up a new dimension to why I am still mesmerised by the dandelion. There is a quiet power in this flower, not only in the way it changes itself with the seasons, but in the way this often overlooked plant effects our wellbeing.

Of course dandelion is not the only flower present in the Quiet Mind, so to read about the passionflower, carry on to the next post in the Flower Circle on Smells like a green spirit.

*PR sample, in this instance I was sent quiet mind elixir and mist to review, all the opinions are my own based on the experience with the products. I am a huge fan of lotus wei, as can be clearely seen in my previous blog posts, where I bought the products with my own money. Keeping it honest in every post, is what this blog is all about.

Thursday 3 November 2016

New Look | Leahlani.

Let's start with a little disclaimer about the title... It has been forever since Leahlani revealed their new look! However, I haven't actually reviewed any of the products since the re-branding, and now that a couple of them are just days from becoming empty containers, I feel finally ready.

When I first heard that Leahlani was updating their look to glass packaging I had no idea how much of an overhaul it would actually be. In my had I assumed it was a simple swap from plastic pots to glass, easy! Of course that was not what happened, everything changed. We are talking labels, new products, slight tweaks to some of the old ones and a gorgeous website was also launched.

To state the obvious, it is sort of hard not to like Leahlani's new packaging. It looks fantastic: frosted glass, labels with watercolour designs, gorgeous shades and golden lids, all come perfectly together. If I have never previously heard of the brand, its good looks would have surely made me want to investigate a little further (I'm not even going to pretend that I do not judge a book by its cover, I totally do). Yet in this case I was already familiar with what Leahlani has hidden inside those pretty jars, and it was the case of a brand blossoming into its own. This is really weird, because it kind off makes you feel like you had something to do with this transformation, since you "discovered" it during its slightly humbler beginnings (but of course in reality, where the brand was and now is, is solely to the credit of its founder, Leah Mason Klasovsky).

I am a little susceptible to this chase after the "latest", "shiniest" offerings from beauty brands, but lately I have been really working on having products in my stash that I enjoy most, and the ones I know give great results. So when it came to placing my orders (I made two with a few months apart), I went for a mixture of old favourites and new offerings.

This mask is probably the most iconic Leahlani product, with good reason. I almost want to say this is my favourite product from the line, but I can't quite make myself choose. It has definitely been the most used as you can see from how little is left in the jar. At this point I'm sort of addicted to the way it smells. Mixture of honey, sea buckthorn and coriander are the scents that my nose seems to be picking up, but the essential oil blend is more complicated than that (there is rose, lavender, chamomile, and orange amongst others). These scents, unique to each products, is one of the characteristics that for me distinguishes Leahlani from other brands. Don't get me wrong, you don't need pretty scents for effective skincare, however when you go to a spa and get yourself a facial or a body treatment, most estheticians will use some sort of blend to help you relax at the begining of a session. Leah's experience in this sector really shows in her products. I am a strong believer in aromatherapy, and what people often forget is that skin is really susceptible to how we feel. When we are stressed, upset, emotionally drained, our skin reflects it all. So having a face mask that works both on the surface of the skin and on a subconscious level to lift up your spirits is a massive bonus.

I have reviewed Mermaid previously, so I don't want to repeat myself on how it works. You can see the slight changes to the mask at the bottom of description on the Leahlani website. As far as the results, if I am honest, I didn't think this mask had a formula update. I do seem to enjoy using it this time round even more (maybe that is due to new ingredients?). I had to restrain myself a little because I was using it up so fast. On occasion I have used it as my morning cleanser by applying a pea sized amount to damp skin. It works fabulous in this way and gives skin a quick refining boost (spirulina and chlorella, suspended in honey, provide very mild exfoliation, perfect for those days when you didn't have time to do a full on mask session the night before).

Ingredients: Organic Hawaiian raw honey, organic Hawaiian spirulina (Spirulina Maxima), pure organic chlorella (Chlorella Vulgaris), french green clay, pure sea clay, luminess algae, organic sea buckthorn CO2 (Hippophae Rhamnoides), vanilla CO2 (Vanilla Planifolia), essential oils of: (organic orange (Citrus Aurantium Dulcis), moroccan chamomile (Tanacetum annuum ), roman chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) , geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens), palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini), lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), ylang ylang (Canaga Odorata), rose (Rose Damascena), white lotus flower absolute (Nelumbo Nucifera), beeswax absolute (Apies millifera), coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum).

This is another one of the products that won its place on my shelves well before the re-brand. When I opened the new extra pretty jar, I didn't think anything changed, the scent was exactly what I remembered. Yet when I first used it, the texture felt a little different. The fun part of this product is that it is 3-in-1. You can use it as a cleanser, mask or exfoliator (previously reviewed here). Upon closer inspection it does look like the ingredient list has changed slightly: in addition to ground hibiscus and corundum crystals, now there is maqui and noni fruit in the formula. These two ingredients have been added for their antioxidant content and anti-inflammatory properties.

When fully mixed, texture feels a little grittier then in the previous version. If I want to use it as cleanser, I make sure to take just a little of the top layer so I don't use those exfoliating particles, as all the crystals tend to stay at the bottom. My favourite way is to use it in the shower. Before jumping in (after giving Honey mask a good stir in the pot) I apply thin layer a to dry skin. Once in the shower, I add a splash of water to my hands and gently massage it for the exfoliating effect (I do this very carefully so as not to be too harsh, as this is a physical scrub). After that, I just let the water wash the rest of the mask away as I'm washing my hair and doing other showery things.

Being prone to congested skin, I find that physical exfoliants work a lot better for me, and Honey love is in my top 3.

Ingredients:  Organic hawaiian raw honey, organic wildcrafted whole maqui berry fruit (Aristotelia chilensis), organic wildcrafted whole noni fruit (Morinda citrifolia), rose clay, organic hibiscus flower (rosa sinensis), organic lavender flower (Lavandula Angustifolia), organic cold pressed jojoba oil, essential oils of: (organic lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia), chamomile (Chamomilla Recutita) , organic orange ) Citrus sinensis), organic vegetable glycerin, corundum crystals.

At the time of the re-launch there were quite a few new products, and yes I would love to try all of them, but at present I have tried 3 (well OK I have also had a sample or two of Kokoleka, which seems gorgeous but that is not enough to do a proper review). I do like all of the latest additions, but one of them in particular has  been having me change my mind like a yo-yo.

This was the first product that I have tried from the new line up (and yes it has been very much because of one particular person, you know who you are). With my love for balms and multi-tasking products in general, there was no way I could resist. I had high hopes for it, but at the same time I was not too sure what to expect.

Having a quick glance at the ingredients I found old favourites like argan, camellia oil and shea butter, as well as oils that are considered to be a bit more exotic like passionflower, marula and moringa, and the very last ingredient is pink clay. This is not really a combination in any way similar to any other balm I have ever come across, let alone a multi-purpose one.

As soon as I opened the jar the intoxicating scent hit me. It smells deliciously floral (and florals are a hit and miss with me in general), like a beautiful garden first thing in the morning, when the flowers are still crisp and fresh from dew. The downside is that I want to dip in and apply the entire content of the jar all over my body! If I was to do that though, I don't believe the 30ml jar would last very long. Instead I have been using it as a cleanser, directly on dry areas of my face and occasionally as a deep moisture hand treatment.

You can use it as you would use any cleansing balm, but I really enjoy this trick that Leah shared with me. Massage a small amount of balm onto damp skin, and then instead of using a washcloth, simply tissue of. I often do this as my first step in a cleansing routine, or when I'm having a full on pamper session I love following this with honey love.

I have tried using it as an all-over face moisture balm, but I find it a little too rich for my skin, however, on dry areas around my nose and cheeks when it's really windy it works a treat. A few times I took a little too much product out of the jar and ended up rubbing the excess into my hands. The result was such buttery soft skin, that now if my hands are feeling really dry (normally on painting days, as I'm using so much water and soap to clean brushes etc.), I treat them to a little bless and it restores my skin within minutes.

Ingredients: Organic cold pressed argan oil (Argania spinosa), organic cold pressed camellia seed oil (Camellia oleifera), organic Shea butter (Butyrospermum Parkii), organic cocoa butter (Theobroma Cacao), organic cold pressed maracuja passionflower oil (Passiflora Incarnata), organic cold pressed moringa oil (Moringa Oleifera), organic cold pressed marula oil (Sclerocarya Birrea ), cymbidium grandiflorum orchid extract, wildcrafted blue tansy oil (Tanacetum annuum), neroli oil (Aurantium Dulcis), organic rosehip fruit (Rosa Moschata), rose clay

Oh how I love a good toner, and even though they are many on the market, the really effective ones seem to be few and far between. When I first started using Citrus and Citrine, I admit thinking it was a little average. The scent, unsurprisingly, is really gorgeous: sparkly and playful orange, instantly uplifting. However, for the first week results on my skin did not seem to be all that different from my using pure neroli hydrosol (I of course love hydrosols, but I do expect something more from a blended toner). 

It was only about a third way through the bottle (close to a month in) that I really started to appreciate it. My combo skin was loving it. I immediately put it in my top five toners that work great at balancing, all while leaving skin fresh and hydrated. Then I was about half way down the bottle and I started testing a different toner. A month later, as memory started to fade a little, I was starting to think that maybe citrus and citrine wasn't all that, and of course I had to go back to it to find out once and for all.

Now that I am on the last dregs, the bottle will surely be finished by the end of the week, I can say without a doubt that my skin loves this toner. Since turning 31 I have started to notice fine lines here and there, and my skin is definitely loosing moisture quicker, so hydration is key. Of course it still tends towards oily, so hydrating mists are really where it is at. This mist is amazing at boosting those moisture levels and making the fine lines less obvious (I'm basing this on comparison with a plain floral water and keeping the rest of my skincare routine identical, this is of course a study of 1, so not what you would call a rigorous scientific experiment). 

Ingredients: Hawaiian spring water, organic aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), alaea (hawaiian sea salt with alaea volcanic clay), hawaiian sea silt (sea silt ferment), essential oils of (neroli (Citrus Aurantium), organic orange (Aurantium Dulcis), organic grapefruit (Citrus Grandis), organic mandarin (Citrus Deliciosa), organic tangerine (Citrus Tangerina), witch hazel distillate (Hamamelis Virginiana), sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), lemon fruit (Citrus Medica Limonum), organic vegetable glycerin, leucidal liquid (radish root ferment), organic turmeric (Curcuma Longa).

I didn't actually buy this mask myself, it was a lovely gift from Lea, and it is an absolute treat. This is like an antioxidant rich breakfast for your skin. Strawberries, bananas, guava, star fruit, honey and grapefruit; sounds like I'm describing a fruit platter, but no, these are some of the ingredients found in this delicious mask.

It smells like an indulgent dessert, the illuminating nectar is really the most appropriate description for it, it leaves skin absolutely glowing. Meli Glow is a really rich mask, so I tend to use it when my skin is in need of some TLC. I can see this becoming a real staple in the winter months.

I haven't used this mask as much as I have the other products, so I am still in the process of getting to know it better.

Ingredients: Organic raw Hawaiian honey, pure rose clay, organic rose hip fruit (Rosa Canina Fruit), *organic starfruit (Averrhoa carambola), *organic strawberry fruit (Fragaria Ananassa ), *organic guava fruit (Psidium Guajava ), *organic banana fruit (Musa Sapientum), *organic grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi), organic argan oil (Argania Spinosa), organic sea buckthorn CO2 oil (Hippophae Rhamnoides), apricot kernel oil (Prunus Armeniaca), avocado fruit oil (Persea gratissima),  olive squalane, pure hyaluronic acid-vegan, Vitamin C ester, vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), proprietary blend of essential oils.

While I think all of the above products are a absolutely gorgeous, the honey based masks is where I think Leahlani absolutely excels. Even though I think honey is a wonderful ingredient, my skin does not love all honey based products. Some masks in the past have left me looking blotchy and my pores feeling clogged. Mermaid, Honey Love and Meli Glow on the other hand, always leave my skin feeling and looking amazing.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Figs, pomegranates and red wine.

Fall used to mean to me a complete wardrobe and makeup overhaul. Now that my priorities are somewhat different that doesn't really happen, but that is not to say that some changes don't take place. Instead of following the latest fashion trends, I am paying attention to the colours I am drawn to. Weirdly enough, I have noticed that the make-up and clothing I am finding most appealing, seems to reflect what is in season in the plant kingdom, to an extent.

In the past few weeks figs have been available with my organic veggie box, and now pomegranates are also on the menu. The rich deep red of these fruits is exactly what I am most attracted to when it comes to lipstick and nail colour right now.

I am pretty fussy when it comes to lipstick. I want it all: great ingredients, gorgeous colour, smooth texture and pretty packaging. The one thing I'm not overly bothered about is staying power (within reason of course, it needs to be longer then 5 minutes), I actually enjoy the act of reapplying lipstick. Also it does worry me if you need an industrial strength make-up remover to take it off, I mean seriously what is in that stuff if it stays on all day no matter rain, shine, or greasy burger?

When it comes to ingredients these Odylique lippies really tick all the boxes. The mineral colours are approved by Ecocert and said to be free from lead and arsenic (as lead occurs naturally in the earth, when it comes to minerals, there is every chance that they could have traces of it, there is a standard set for what is considered to be acceptable trace amount to use in cosmetics, so any lipstick, natural or not, could potentially have some heavy metals). Up to 86% of ingredients including oils, butters, and waxes are certified organic (mineral colours themselves can not be certified organic), making these some of very few certified organic lippies around. 

I love the texture, it glides on very easily and feels seriously moisturising like a lip balm (in fact they really remind me of ilia lip conditioners). The finish is a little see-through and glossy but without sparkle. It works really well with the colours, making it really flattering and versatile to an extant (you could use it with a really light touch for a hint of colour, or 2-3 layers for a more intense burst). These two colours in particular tend to fade within 1-2 hours living just a hint of colour behind. Combined with practical rather than pretty packaging and the somewhat see-through appearance on the lips, these are more daytime then evening for me (having said that, if I was going for a dark or smoky eye these would go really well).

12 Raspberry coulis is described as a raspberry red, it is a fairly accurate description, although you could call it red wine or pomegranate and you would not be wrong. 16 Cherry tart is a little more pigmented and not as glossy, but still plenty moisturising. The colour is in somewhat similar red-wine/cherry family, but without that hint of purple. The two colours might not be different enough for most people to justify having both, but I can imagine everyone liking one over the other. Personally I quite like having the two. Even though I'm drawn to berry lippies during autumn, I still have different fancies: sometimes I want a more purple berry, and other times more red. The fact that they are super moisturising means I need not worry about the lipstick drying out my lips, if anything I think they have been adding some extra protection from the wind.

They do have a somewhat unusual scent, I do like it, but it is not something I have come across in lip products, yet I kept thinking that it is oddly familiar. Only when I was examining the ingredients closer did it dawn on me what it was: sea buckthorn!

There is no carmine in these lippies, but they do have beeswax so they aren't suitable for vegans.

I absolutely love when a nail colour description lives up to its name, it is so super accurate in this case, I was holding up my manicured nails to a glass of red wine to double check (as you can see, I take this testing very seriously, and well, since the wine was already poured, it would be wasteful not to drink it, right?).

This is my third little ondine colour and funnily enough it is my favourite. Instead of your usual foul smelling concoctions (which promptly make Mr. RF disappear to another room for a good hour), these don't really smell of much at all. It is a mixture of water, resins and colourants. I find them to be really easy to apply, the brush is nice and big, allowing each nail to be done with 3 strokes. It goes on evenly without streaks. This particular colour has a glossy finish but the shade itself doesn't have any sparkles. I find it dries somewhere around 5 minutes (depending how thick I made the layers it can be faster or maybe 1-2 minutes more).

The lasting power on my nails is somewhere around 2-3 days (I could get an extra day if I was careful when applying and using their secret base/top coat, but I am a bit lazy on occasion). Once the manicure starts misbehaving or I feel the need for a change, I just peel them off (like that glue some of us used to dip our fingers in so you could peel it off a few minutes later).

In general, little Ondine is becoming my favourite nail polish brand because of the fact that they don't stink up the house and I don't need to use a nail varnish remover. I do hope they will introduce a few more colours so I could swap out some of my old favourites.

What sort of makeup shades have you been drawn to this autumn? Let me know in the comments. 

*PR samples as part of Love Lula blogger program, as usual all opinions are my own, based on personal experience with the products. As part of the program I get to choose the products that I am interested in testing, take my time doing so and only review the products that I genuinely enjoy using.

Sunday 25 September 2016

Coming up rosehips | Pai Skincare

When you start exploring organic skincare, you almost inevitably get sucked in into the world of plant oils. And what a confusing place it is! Different oils vary by their composition, weight, and feel, making them work for some skin types and not others. Throw in the fact that essential oils are not the same as carrier (also known as base or fixed) oils, and that each month there seems to be a new hyped up contender vying for your attention, it can be very overwhelming trying to figure out which is the real and which is a flash in the pan.

Rosehip oil is one of those base oils that has really proven itself many times over. The plant from which the oil is obtained is sometimes referred to as rosa mosqueta, but the term actually covers the three main species of rosehip plants used for oil: rosa rubiginosa, rosa canina and rosa moschata. Rosehip oil in beauty products is likely to come from the Andes (Chile or Argentina) where the shrubs grow wild, but rosa rubiginosa and rosa canina (dog rose) are also native to Europe  and Western Asia (dog rose also comes from North Africa).

Rosehip seed oil is considered to be a dry oil, meaning it absorbs fairly quickly and without living residue. Like with all oils, it is advised to apply it to damp skin so it can lock in the moisture. This oil is particularly rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, making it great at bringing plumpness back to the skin and helping it retain moisture (as we age our skin starts to lose moisture quicker, so the topical use of oils rich in fatty acids becomes particularly beneficial). On the other hand, the presence of these polyunsaturated fatty acids also means that rosehip seed oil has a much shorter shelf life and is not as stable as some other carrier oils. In the case of rosehip oil it appears that cold-pressed isn't necessarily best, and instead, Pai Skincare uses supercritical CO2 extract.

This extraction method uses carbon dioxide as a solvent, but at the end of the process, there is no solvent residue. CO2 is volcanically sourced, and the method not only makes the rosehip oil more stable with a longer shelf life, but the oil ends up having more of the good stuff like carotenoids which act as antioxidants.

Typically rosehip oil used in cosmetics refers to just the seed oil, but Pai also uses the fruit extract. Rosehips are similar in size to cranberries, the flesh is fairly thin, and the inside is filled with tiny seeds and tiny hairs (the hairs are really irritating). Before turning into oil rosehips go through a process of drying, de-hipping, and removal of irritants. Using the extract from both the flesh and seeds gives more of a nutrient-rich profile to the oil.

Rosehip oil is one of the rare oils that is beneficial to many skin types from oily, to sensitive and even to very dry skin. Of course, like with most things, there is a possibility of a reaction for some people. Particular benefits reported are the improvement of the skin tone, scars, and skin elasticity.

The hero product from Pai is naturally their Rosehip BioRegenerate oil, which contains CO2 extract of both fruit and seeds. You only need to use 2-3 drops, and as it is so light, it is a wonderful product to use at night without overwhelming your skin. The great thing about their rosehip oil is that not only can you use it as a face serum, but also as a targeted scar treatment, or even a body oil if you like. Containing twice the sterols and five times the amount of carotenoids than the seed oil alone, it deserves its place on the top shelf. However, this is far from the only product that is benefiting from the wonderful qualities of rosehip in the Pai skincare range. Rosehip BioRegenerate rapid radiance face mask also contains both the seed and the fruit extract. It is designed to calm sensitive skin and give it a moisture boost. Rosehip seed oil is excellent for cuticle care and is great for nail health, so it is no surprise that you can find it in Instant Hand Therapy Cream. You may have heard of the effectiveness of rosehip oil on stretch marks, and if you take a look at the ingredients of Pai stretch mark system, you will notice that the oil contains rosehip seed oil, and the cream sports the rosehip fruit extract. Of course, we can't forget the Chamomile and Rosehip calming day cream. Here, the rosehip seed oil is used for its reparative properties and to protect skin from environmental stresses.

Rosehip oil is really versatile and it is great not only for facial care but all over, and with potentially beneficial results from as little as 10% of a formulation, you really don't need to use it neat if you prefer creams. Pai Skincare has you covered whether you want a quick boost from a mask, something gentle and long-term like their face cream, or a really potent treatment in the form of the BioRegenarate oil. Whatever product you decide to go with, your skin is bound to reap hips of benefits!

Friday 23 September 2016

Beauty from the sea | Voya

Seaweed beauty maybe all the rage right now, but like with many things, in a way, it is a revival of an old forgotten tradition. It seems that therapeutic properties of seaweed have been long known along the Irish coast, and seaweed baths used to be quite a popular thing with around 300 seaweed bath houses in Ireland at the beginning of 20th century. The picture changed towards the end of the century, and with the popularity of other types of treatments, this tradition practically disappeared. Yet to Neil Walton the revival of a the seaweed bathhouse tradition in his hometown of Strandhill became somewhat of a mission, and in 1996 with his family he did just that: opened voya seaweed baths. Fast forward to 2016 and Voya is a global business with deep family roots, proud of their beginning, and their organic beauty products line is celebrating 10 years.

The beauty range first launched with one product, Lazy Days, organic seaweed combined with dead sea salt, for a seaweed bath in the comfort of your own home. Now there are many more products, all centered around the wonderful properties of seaweed.

Fucus serratus, commonly known as toothed or serrated wrack, is an olive-brown seaweed from North Atlantic that features in a few of Voya products. This seaweed is full of minerals and antioxidants, making it amazing for skincare. Voya harvests their seaweed by hand, making sure that the marine life is not harmed and only a small portion is taken at a time.

With my love for oils and citrus based products, it is not surprising that I was very curious about Angelicus Serratus body oil. The scent is mild with sparkly notes of mandarin, lemon, lime and an ocean breeze. Combination of sunflower oil, evening primrose oil, rosehip oil and fucus serratus seaweed extract creates a really nourishing base, skin is left velvety soft to the touch. This oil makes an amazing follow-up to the seaweed bath experience that will make you feel like your home has turned into the most relaxing spa (especially if you can persuade someone to give you a massage with this oil).

If citrus doesn't really float your boat, Voya will be launching their total tranquility collection over the next few months, and Mindful Moments body oil will become available from the 1st of October. This body oil will be infused with lavender essential oil and as well as leaving you with super soft skin, it premisses to relax your senses and aid with getting a restful night's sleep. The seaweed extract in this body oil is that of himanthalia elongata (sea spaghetti).

Voya range is very extensive, you can find skincare, haircare, and a variety of body products. They even have a small selection of organic teas! You can find the line in some breathtakingly luxurious spa locations around the world, as Voya are available in 37 countries, alternatively you can get your hands on the products by ordering on-line.

However much I wish for it to be otherwise, a trip to Kandolhu in Maldives is not really on the cards in the near future, seaweed beauty experience in the comfort of my own home... Now that I can do!

Thursday 22 September 2016

Shopping for DIY Organic beauty ingredients

Making your own beauty products can be a lot of fun. From single use recipes using things found in your kitchen, to longer lasting oil blends and massage bars, there are a lot of things that you could safely create in the comfort of your own home. Once you have a few ideas of what DIY beauty products you might want to make, it all boils down to getting your hands on ingredients. As it is Organic Beauty Week, we put together a list of stockists who supply organic oils, butters, and herbs in small quantities, perfect for your DIY beauty experiments.

Neal's Yard remedies. As well as their large range of beauty and wellbeing products, they carry a range of base oils, butters, beeswax, essential oils and dry herbs. Majority of the ingredients stocked are certified organic with soil association, they are all clearly labelled when you are looking through the descriptions. What's more, you can even find various sized bottles and books with DIY beauty recipes (have a look in the aromatherapy and wellbeing sections). If you are just starting to explore making your own beauty, this can really be a one-stop shop to get everything you need.

Primavera. In addition to their skincare and body care products, you can find a small selection of single carrier oils and a really great selection of essential oils. The carrier oils are in the section with organic body oils, but the single oils are also perfect for use in facial serums too, just take a look at the ingredients list to make sure you are getting the right thing.

Akoma Skincare. Here you can find so many different ingredients for making your own products, even those needed for fairly complicated recipes. The selection of organic essential oils is not huge, but the selection of organic carrier oils is really great, you can even find prickly pear and sacha inchi oils, these are certified with Soil Association. They also stock organic cocoa and shea butters. The best thing about Akoma is that you can buy really small quantities, starting from 30ml for some carrier oils.

Oshadhi. Pretty much everything you want for aromatherapy you will find here: carrier oils, essential oils, hydrosols and butters. There are a lot of certified organic oils and waters, but not everything is, however they do dedicate themselves to stocking really pure ingredients. If you are interested in finding out more about aromatherapy in general, there are lots of information in their education section.

*All of the above stockists ship worldwide.

In celebration of Organic September (#organicseptember), we’d love to hear what ‘certified organic’ means to you by taking part in our little survey (here). We truly need and value your opinion and we promise it takes less than 5 minutes. Thank you!