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.