Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Butter London: Come to Bed Red Review

Butter London is a sumptuous name for an organic or natural brand...although I feel it would be far better suited to a line of Shea butters than nail polish.

I've spent years not wearing nail polish (I lean towards barefoot hippy minimalism) so discovering it again at twenty six is quite exciting. It makes your nails look like tiny jewels! Why did no one tell me this? 

It also makes me really how many times a day I - and others - look at my hands. I once read that the jewellery designer Solange Azagury-Partridge said that rings are the most personal form of jewellery for women: necklaces, earring and even bracelets are for others to look at; whereas rings are for you to glance at throughout the day. I think nail polish serves the same purpose.

Butter London are exceptionally good nail polishes that are loved by both green and conventional beauty bloggers. They obviously aren't as natural as coconut oil or birch water, but they are free of the three toxic chemicals commonly found in nail polish: formaldehyde, toluene and DBP. 

So to the polish...the colours are intense, with witty (sometimes slightly offensive names: anyone fancy a bright blue polish named Slapper? Thought not...). Come To Bed Red is perfect though. A classic, blue toned, Hollywood red, The red of strawberries and post boxes and proper grown up lipstick. It's perfect for winter. 

I would advise using two coats and a base coat (to protect your nails) and a top coat if you feel like spending more. I like the Butter London Nail Foundation base coat, but it is slightly sheer - more of a BB cream than a foundation for your nails. I had been wistfully hoping that it would turn out to be a dupe for Chanel's Ballet Slipper. 

You can buy Butter London from Naturisimo or your local Boots

I am also trying a new nail polish remover, by Suncoat. I bought this from Steenbergs, during a rosewater stockpiling session. It comes in a glass bottle, which feels quite chic. It is quite moisturising and oily, which is good, because it doesn't feel as though you are stripping the natural oils from your nails. You do have to work quite hard to remove old polish, though, and there is not much remover for the price. I think I mostly like it becuase it looks as though it should be part of a watercolour set. You're probably better off trying the SpaRituals Nail Polish Remover, which you can buy from Lucy Rose, and which my mum swears by. 

I would love to hear your favourite Butter London nail colours, or reviews of other natural-ish brands that you like,,,

Badly painted, but still beautiful. Come To Bed Red by Butter London: looks more fuchsia in this light. 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Cheat's Chia Breakfast Bowl/desert

What are Chia seeds? Tiny black seeds (part of the mint family) from South America. They are a complete source of protein, essential fatty acids and lots of vitamins and minerals. 

They're pretty good for you. 

But they are also a bizarre seed to work into an everyday diet.

I find that the best way to eat Chia seeds is in something slightly milky. They swell up in liquids, but still retain a slightly nutty, crunchy texture. I find the texture similar to passion fruit. 

There are a plethora of complicated Chia breakfast bowl on different blogs, but this is my cheat recipe: just as healthy, thousand times quicker: no blender required. 

Cheat's Chia Breakfast Bowl

Chia seeds + M&S Strawberry And Vanilla Dairy Smoothie (Ingredients: yoghurt (milk) strawberry purée, pasteurised pressed apple juice, concentrated apple juice, vanilla extract). Any yoghurt based smoothie would work (this is my favourite: I don't like traditional fruit smoothies, because I find them too acidic, and yoghurt made with 'flavours' tend to be packed with refined sugar). 

Stir the two together. 

Leave overnight, or at least for a few hours. 

Top with strawberries, or whatever fruit you like (or is in season). I also like to leave strawberries and dates in the mixture overnight too. You can top with lots of extras, like flaxseed, or raw honey, or whatever you want. 

This is not only super quick, it's also easy to pack up and eat at your desk if you're in a rush. 

Do you have any simple recipes for Chia seeds? 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review of REN ClearCalm 3 Clarity Restoring Mask

I blame Beyonce. Ever since the single Flawless, and the subsequent plethora of #iwokeuplikedis Instagram posts, the pressure for perfect bare skin has been even more desirable. Normally I would dismiss this as rubbish and reach for my mineral foundation; but I've recently become slightly obsessed with face masks,

I love an ugly home-made face mask (raw honey is a particular favourite: it looks like you've covered your whole face with lip gloss). But some times egg whites and oatmeal won't do, and you need to smear your face with something that dented your finances. 

Five things you need to know:

1. It doesn't harden and give you that cracked, frozen face feeling. I love this - seeing my face splinter into a thousand pieces had always been my least favourite part of face masks.

2. It has lots of purifying Kaolin. Kaolin is a natural clay that draws out impurities from the skin. Other notable skin saving ingredients include sulfur (reduces inflamation and is antibacterial) liquorice extract (reduces production of sebum) and calcium carbonate (absorbs impurities). 

3. The natural scent is lavender (a natural antiseptic) with a hint of thyme: there are only essential oils used a a fragrance, so this mask is very suitable for sensitive skins. 

4. It works well as a one stop blemish treatment - I even leave it on overnight. 

5. It works in general: it calms skin, reduces blemishes and evens skin tone. There is a good reason why REN Skincare is so popular - the products do exactly what they are supposed to. 

It's also probably worth mentioning that I saw similar results with REN's Clarimatte Invisible Pores Detox Mask (although this is more mattifying, rather than drawing out impurities). At eighteen pounds it is slightly cheaper than the thirty pound ClearCalm mask. 

You don't have to buy this face mask, as home-made ones are so effective, but if the thought of kitchen cupboard beauty makes you shudder, then I highly recommend this mask. A weekly beauty mask is a nurturing ritual, even if it makes you look like a Halloween nightmare. 

We flawless. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

My tip for naturally glossy hair: Living Naturally Herbal Hair Rinse Conditioner Review

My list of 'must have' natural and organic beauty products is increasing rapidly. 

This is such a bizarre hair product to include on that list. It's not a shampoo, nor a conditioner. It's not even a leave in conditioner. 

This Living Herbal Hair Rinse Conditioner is more of a hair purifier. The main ingredient is organic apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar rebalances and neutralises the PH of your hair. But taking a bottle of apple cider vinegar into the shower just always feels slightly wrong. And the results of my homemade apple cider vinegar rinses have always been lack lustre; redolent of my awful bicarb of soda hair washing phase. There are some things that I am just not hippy enough for.

But this Living Naturally Hair Rinse Conditioner is completely different. I'm reluctant to sound like an advertisement, but is genuinely transformed my hair, and made it glossier and shinier - the sort of hair that you can run your hands through, without becoming entangled in a birds nest mess. You spray hair rinse onto wet hair, leave for a few minutes while you are in the shower, then use your normal shampoo and conditioner routine (for me this is currently Sukin Protein Shampoo and Ila Conditioner For Nourishing Hair). 

The scent? I love it. It's organic apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, chamomille flowers and marshmallow root mixed with lots of luxurious essential oils: ylang ylang, cedarwood, rose geranium and lavender. Although the first time I tried it was at my sister's house in Brighton, and she told me to get out of her bedroom and never return. So the scent is possibly an individual preference. The ingredients are almost flawless, completely vegan and made in the UK; by a family run business, who originally started by selling soapnuts. Feeling virtuous yet? 

I bought this at Infinity Foods, Brighton - home to a bounty of organic and natural beauty products. I was seeking out the new and untried...and the difficult to acquire in my usual haunts. But you can also buy this product from the Living Naturally Website.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this product...swaying your glossy hair around whilst quoting classic advertising slogans is completely optional.

Yes, you are worth it. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Healthy chocolate snacks from Infinity Foods*

None of these foodstuffs include chocolate.

This post is all abut the cacao.

Cacao is the raw version of cocoa. It is attributed with far more health giving benefits than cocoa, such as boosting your mood, protecting your nervous system, and nourishing your body with minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.*

Cacao is far more bitter taste than chocolate. When we used to visit the Cadbury's World factory in Birmingham as children, they would give some cacao in a drink, but I was never brave enough to try it, as all my school friends told me it was disgusting.

But once you reconcile yourself to the fact that this is a far bitterer taste - with only a vague haunting of chocolatey flavour - then you can really start to enjoy cacao as a delicious alternative.

Rebel Kitchen Chocolate Mylk

I loved this. I was inspired by Fran Phillips (a model with an eco concious beauty routine, and fellow Pai skincare obsessive) to find a healthy chocolate milkshake. While she opted for the Plenish Cold Pressed Cacao Maca Cashew Milk which is available at Whole Foods, I went for the Rebel Kitchen version which I picked up in Infinity Foods, Brighton. It's quite watery, which I love, because it sort of reminds me of the rubbishy milkshakes I would drink as a child...except that this is a far more nutritious option. I also really liked the minimalistic ingredients: water, coconut milk, date nectar and cacao.

Love Raw Coconut and Chia Chocolate Bar

This was similar to most healthy snack bars - fills you up, but is never quite as delicious as Green and Blacks. I also found that the chai seeds got stuck in my teeth! This was really nourishing and healthy, but I prefer the Bounce Energy Balls for flavour - especially the Coconut and Macademia Protein Bliss.

Organic Raw Cacao Nibs

I have become slightly obsessed with these. I put them on top of everything, but my favourite combination would have to be onto of Lizzi's Organic Granola, with fresh redcurrants and organic whole milk. This is as delicious as desert. Cacao nibs are really good with sweet things - try sprinkled over fruit for an extra crunch - I also love to mash them into fresh dates.

Do you love cacao? Or find the taste too bitter? I would love to hear your recipe ideas in the comments section below.


Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Thoughts on minimalist fashion

These photographs were taken at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. They reminded me of what I love about clothing: colour, texture and pattern.

This photograph was taken last summer, in my sister's old bedroom (so I don't have to take the blame for the unmade bed!). I'm wearing a beautiful white cotton embroidered dress from Beyond Retro that my sister actually found for me. It's so unusual to find pretty, simple cotton dresses in vintage shops - they are usually awash with leftover seventies synthetics. I am also wearing a vintage handbag that my Mum bought many years ago in Italy and a silver cuff from Spain.I included this photograph because it's one of my favourite outfits, and typifies the sort of clothing I love to wear.

Thoughts on minimalist fashion

When I was slightly younger, I believed that a minimalist wardrobe naturally equated to pristine white shirts and charcoal wool trousers. The art gallery owner look, or perhaps death by GAP. 

I love this look, on someone else. I'm messy. I'm disorganised. You know that cliché of a teenage boy picking up rumpled clothing from the floorboards and re-wearing? That's often my routine.

I loved having less clothing because it simplified my choices, and therefore made the process of preparing to leave the house so much quicker. Casual drinks? Well I had three silky evening tops - one olive, one black and one navy - which were to be paired one inky pair of jeans, so that was a pretty easy decision.

But in my desire for simplicity, I lost another element of clothing that I love: colour, texture and pattern. I wore a lot of washed out navy and black cotton, because it was easy to wear again and again. And again. But there's only so many times an engraved silver cuff will save a dark blue rag. 

I missed the day-dream fashion of my early teenage years, pouring over coffee table books of Vivienne Westwood and punks and threadbare copies of Vogue. 

I relented, and spent a year and a half nourishing my senses with all the materials and colours that I had so missed: raspberry wool, sky cashmere, nutmeg silk. Slips of watercolour camisoles, blurry cotton tea dresses, woven dove grey jumpers, gold square sequins and conker brown boots. All second-hand, (somehow more ethical) all purchased online. 

I would look in my wardrobe and almost drink in these colours, and run my hand along these different materials.

And just like that, my thirst was sated. 

I stopped pursuing second-hand dresses. I had enough. 

So now I practice a different kind of minimalism: cherishing the collection of clothes that I have. 

Even if I do store them on the floor. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Beauty products that I want to steal from my sister...

Am I the only one who loves those articles that detail the contents of another woman's makeup bag? The Top Shelf series by Into the Gloss are a particular favourite. 

IRL, I rifle through my sister's makeup bag whilst making a shopping list.

Here's what I want, in order of how much I want them:

1. Pacifica roll on perfume in Persian Rose. This is a rose scent, and I love the idea of being able to carry a delicate glass roll in my makeup bag and reapply throughout the day. My one criticism I would possibly need to reapply this as the scent fades after a couple hours. This is going to be on my holiday essentials list for next summer. I've sampled all the other fragrances by Pacifica during my last trip to Infinity Foods, Brighton (I had an invisible sleeve of delectable scents) by the Persian Rose is by far my favourite.

2. Lots and lots of Lily Lolo lipsticks. I was actually given one of these by sister (thank you!). It was the shade Intense Crush, a beautiful rose neutral - my lips but bitten. The one in the photograph is the shade Desire; which is vibrant raspberry shade (it looks more orange in my photograph). The packaging of Lily Lolo lipsticks is more minimal and monochromatic now, but I love the patterned silver cases too. These lipsticks are so moisturising - think of a highly pigmented lip balm. My sister compares them  to the Revlon Lip Butters. 

3. Borlind Natural Liquid Concealer. This is a natural dupe of the YSL Touche Éclat. From From my sister reports, it is a good light reflector and under eye concealer, although it is not as highly pigmented as the RMS 'Un Cover Up'. It also creases slightly, but the real Touche Éclat did that - I find that using a mineral foundation on top smooths this out. I would love to try this, as I sometimes secretly miss my YSL highlighter. 
Please also note that I took this photograph to the background noise of my sister's grumblings: "What the hell are you doing? Don't get lipstick on my throw!"