Thursday, 16 June 2016

New look | Herbfarmacy



When a brand announces a new look it always brings up a mixture of emotions: excitement and a little bit of dread, you just never know which way it is going to go (and of course I wonder if the packaging is the only thing that is changing). In the good old days, when Love Lula used to be owned by Claire Braithwaite and sent out cute inspirational cards with every order, on their site I first came across herbfarmacy. Balancing face cream was the first product I ever tried from the brand, the funny thing is I'm sure even at that time Herbfarmacy weren't knew to the game of organic skincare. Over the years I have come to regard them as a solid reliable brand, but let's face it, with the sudden explosion of the green beauty scene it is easy to get lost. 

Herbfarmacy has become like a pair of my favourite but slightly worn out jeans, I know they fit perfectly and show off certain assets in a very flattering way, and of course I wear them from time to time, but not exactly running up to my girlfriends screaming " Check out these jeans, don't they look fantastic?". Now it seems my old favourites have been brought back, with the same cut, the same fit, but also some extra cool detailing, so while these new jeans do exactly what they did before, well they look all sparkly and worth more than a few mentions. OK I'm done with the metaphor, it maybe shallow to talk about packaging, but I am not one to shy away from shallow pursuits (you know, everything in moderation is my motto). So let's dive into Herbfarmacy's new look and overanalyse it.



The jars and bottles are now emerald green glass, aside from the fact that it is just gorgeous, it turns out that when they first launched green glass was what they wanted to go with, but went for clear glass at the last moment, as they didn't want to clash with another brand who was using the same coloured glass. In a way this is like coming home, bringing back the original vision for herbfarmacy. The illustrated labels have been their signature from the get go, but now this print feels a lot more modern, and the terracotta red background adds a new twist to the overall look. Finally there is also a super cool logo on the lids of the jars and on the fronts of the bottles. The logo personifies the view of the hills on the herbfarmacy farm. So when you put all of these together: we have terracotta label representing the fertile soil, green glass representing plants and growth, botanical print showing off herbs and flowers, and the logo giving you a look at the rolling hills of where it all grows. Each jar and bottle is basically a visual story of where your products comes from.

Situated in the Welsh borders, the organic five acre Herfodshire farm established over 32 years ago is where the magic happens. The organic seedlings are hand sown, time is given for the plants to grow and reach their full potential, before being handpicked and turned into beautiful tinctures and extracts. The herbs grown on the farm are not used for essential oils, they are turned into macerated oils or water extracts, which become the bases of all products in the Herbfarmacy range. The most famous being the Marshmallow root.



The roots of marshmallow (the plant of course, not the gooey stuff that marshmallow man is made of) contain soft mucilages that become gel-like in water. In fact if you get your hands on a fresh root, and break a little bit you can feel it for yourself. The inside of the root when is super silky smooth to the touch, it is pretty incredible. These mucilages attract and hold moisture in the surface of the skin, not surprisingly this herb features in quite a few of the products (including Marshmallow and vanilla lipbalm which I have previously reviewed here). 

Other superstars are calendula and echinacea. While calendula, aka marigold, probably needs no introduction, it is an incredibly soothing and anti-inflammatory herb, amazing at calming sensitive and troubled skin. Echinacea is well known as a cold remedy, but it turns out as a mild astringent it is great for toning, and in creams for oily skin types (it is also a hit with bees and butterflies, always a good thing).



As well as a great range of skincare, herbfarmacy has an incredible selection of balms. Multipurpose mallow beauty balm, that can be used as a cleanser, moisturiser and even targeted fine lines treat and skin rescue balm for skin irritation and redness, these two are just the tip of the iceberg. Meditation, easy breathing, bruises, muscle tension, itchy skin, you name it they have a balm for it. I could create a wellbeing cabinet with all these jars (hm maybe I should)!



I have special respect for brands that grow their plants, really understand how to get the most out of them, and have genuine love for the land. To me they always stand head and shoulders above the rest, of course it doesn't hurt if the packaging is gorgeous. Every time I pick up a Herbfarmacy jar I fall in love with it a little bit more. There is just something about it, like a song that you like at first listen, but each time you hear it,  you just enjoy it more and more. Hello gorgeous green bottles, welcome to my top shelf, you are here to stay.


Thursday, 9 June 2016

The illusion of power



Knowledge is power. So why is it that the more I know the more I realise how little power I actually have? We live in an age where information is thrown at us on the daily whether we want it or not. Even without turning on a news channel or owning a TV, if you have access to the Internet and facebook/twitter/instagram you are likely up to date with the latest shock and horror stories.  The question is do you have the tools necessary to figure out what is real and what is BS? This not the question of intelligence, street smarts or even expertise. It is funny how when you start researching any industry be it food, fashion, beauty, etc you soon start seeing similarities with regards to hidden dark corners, dishonesty, misinformation and lack of responsibility.

Let's get a couple of things straight: there are very few certainties (if any), when it comes to natural order of things, science or life in general. So many things through the history of humanity that used to be considered as undeniable, undisputed facts have come to be disproved. Our societies have seen remarkable transformation, so why is it when it comes to our daily lives we seem to be rather accepting of the status quo and believing that it isn't in our power to create real and lasting change? Why is that we are so content with the superficial power of our consumer choices? 

Making decisions on incomplete, often biased studies, when it comes to food and beauty products. Purchasing clothing based on convenience of what is available to us. Being saddled with the full responsibility for the potential health consequences of our nutritional choices, or wanting to appear more attractive through the use of beauty products. Because somehow it is up to us as individuals to understand potential risks of what is in our lotion, or in our food, because we are adults? 

Never mind the fact that large proportions of population leave formal education by the age of sixteen in the rich countries (we are not even talking about what is going on in the so called developing world), and the quality of education varies ridiculously between school to school, country to country. Yet we are responsible for our own wellbeing, and we are told that the things sold to us in the shops are there because we want them. How is that exactly? When given a choice, with explanation of all the consequences and effects that certain ingredients have on our bodies, what mother would choose to give their child food with colourants that could potentially cause their child ADHD? But I mean it is not certain, and in small quantities it is OK right, so lets just roll with it.

Going to an attraction park and not packing a lunch with me (admittedly an oversight), it turns out that my only food options are chips, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, or soup (on a hot summer day), so how exactly do I show my consumer power and preferences for healthy food... oh that is right, I don't, I go to eat elsewhere (where is that exactly when you are in middle of nowhere?). So I get a stupid sandwich, or go hungry. 

How am I supposed to definitively make up my mind on whether or not organic food and beauty is worth it when the supposedly leading scientific minds keep playing tug of war with their findings? Because of course I have time, money, and the presence of mind to subscribe to all the research articles and publications in the fields of environment, nutrition, cosmetic chemistry, and also keep an eye on what goes on in the field of economics, and politics (not of just my own country mind you, but worldwide), read them, and without fail figure out what is the absolute truth. Then I go to the shops and vote with my wallet for the real change in the world. Because I am an all powerful consumer, and if I just keep shopping for fair trade goods, organic produce and natural beauty I am going to change the world. It is up to me and all the other consumers, it is our collective responsibility as walking, talking ATMs to show big business that we are against child labour, food that makes us sick, and beauty products with questionable ingredients. Consumers are ultimately responsible for not only what goes on in the supply chain and the environmental impact of production industries in distant countries, they are also responsible for the effects that cosmetics have on us purely by the simple act of buying one product over another. You have the power to buy or not to buy, with power comes great responsibility.

So now with my new found power, I am drastically changing my shopping habits, yet my budget is still the same. I buy less, a lot less, since instead of 5 dresses I can now only afford 1, and what happens if every single person does the same, what happens then? Well there aren't that many dresses being sold, so either price goes down to encourage people to shop more or all those people who used to make dresses have to find themselves another type of work. And if the price keeps going down, does this mean that those exact things I wanted to avoid by buying a more expensive dress will just happen again? If overnight the whole world goes organic, all non organic farms have to change or go out of business. It is a similar story with beauty. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Well that depends on who you ask. Time does not stay still, change happens whether or not we are open to it. While we are free to choose, we can only choose from the selection that is available to us. If you have no access to clean water, you still have to drink to live.  

My buying choices are made with the best information I have at the time, but I am not a mindless consumer of things, I am a person. I had no part in deciding who made a shirt that is hanging in a department store, and it is very unlikely that I will ever find out who made it. I have to put my trust in instutitions and certifying bodies to tell me that a particular item indeed was made under fair conditions, or made with ingredients that it claims to have. I do not have access to all the relevant information, or even the capacity to process it all if it is presented in a particularly confusing way.

While I am great believer in individuality, and yes one person can really create change, they never do it without the support of other like minded people. There is such a thing as too much emphasis on individuals, no one person is responsible for all that is wrong in the world or indeed for fixing it. Yet when we don't have reliable institutions that actually ensure that what is available to us is indeed safe, that the environment doesn't get polluted, and that workers are treated with respect, it falls on the shoulders of individuals to figure what is what. 

So maybe I should see myself as a consumer and embrace this power of shopping after all? At every corner, being met with different opinions presented as facts based on contradicting  information, I will be making choices. Am I vegan? No... Oh that must mean that I do not care about animal cruelty or the environment, and if I do than I am a delusional hypocrite. Do I use only unpreserved organic skincare? No... well that is unfortunate, but I can't be part of the purist green beauty club. And if I happen to be a blogger but do not share every part of what I do, every single beauty product that I have ever used, and some of the ones I missed out on taliking about aren't too clean, if I share green smoothie recipes but do not document the fact that I had a coke once in a blue moon, that means I am just plain inauthenic. Because as everybody knows, having a blog means everyone is not only entitled to know every sinle thing about me but it is frankly my civic duty to overshare in the name of authenticity.

So please clear some room while I get on my high horse, cloak myself in authenticity and point my finger at all the others who fail to navigate this minefield of information, while shopping into oblivion and shaping the world into a better place with the mighty power of my wallet.