Sunday, 26 April 2015

My Essential Oil Collection



I love essential oils. They are the one product that I will always purchase, even if I've only popped into Holland and Barrett for Spelt pasta (my new love, by the way). I find scent really therapeutic, and love how these tiny glass bottles of scent can last for months or even years. They also have a vaguely medicinal quality, which always assuages my guilt.

There are far more intelligent articles on the internet about the uses of essential oils (and I would strongly recommend that you do some research before creating your own concoctions, essential oils are pretty potent).

Here are some of my ideas and uses:

I like a mixture of tea tree and lavender to dab onto blemishes. I tend to buy lavender and tea tree whenever I see them at a reasonable price, although I do prefer organic for lavender. Mix these with an oil such as Jojoba or almond before applying to your skin.

Lemon or Lemon Eucalyptus is wonderful for cleaning (mixed with cheap white wine vinegar) and adding to conditioner sprays/body mists. It's also good for getting rid of insects in summer.

Peppermint or Spearmint blended with a little Jojoba oil is lovely on pulse points when you are stressed or have a headache. I also really want to make a D.I.Y mouthwash, but haven't quite figured out how to accomplish this yet.

For hot baths, I love Lavender or Rose, but my absolute favourite is Geranium from Neal's Yard Remedies. It's like rose, but more earthy and grounding.

In D.I.Y deodorants I like lavender and tea tree. Or Patchouli, to mimic the scent of my favourite Lush deodorant (the only thing I would buy from Lush, FYI).

For D.I.Y body mists, I like a mix of Geranium and Patchouli, which is floral but intense. Or something lemony (a lemon body mist also doubles as a lovely laundry spray). I tend to mix the essential oils with floral waters, like orange blossom and rosewater. I also use the Tisserand Rose Absolute or Lavender essential oil as a travel perfume.

I tend to buy my essential oils from Neal's Yard, but have started buying some from Holland and Barrett - although this is trial and error, as some are better quality than others. Tisserand also have some lovely essential oil blends.

I would love to hear about essential oil based recipes, please share in the comments, or Tweet me.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

What's in my makeup bag: Spring






It's Spring!

I don't actually adapt my makeup that much to match the seasons (I don't have that much makeup, and I like mixing and matching throughout the year). But there is something about the light and warm weather of Spring - after a bitter English winter that has seemingly lasted for fourteen months - that makes me want to freshen up. 

My makeup bag: is a beautiful gift from my Aunty Heather. It's by the Sweetheart line from Lie Down I Think I Love You, a leather accessories company that make their products by hand in London. It's a floral canvas with a leather pocket on the front, and a zip that looks exactly like a Malteaser. When my boyfriend saw it he asked mournfully if it was a gift from an ex -boyfriend (he took the brand name quite literally).


For lips: I tend to travel with about a thousand lip products, but today I've been a minimalist and only gone with three! My basic lip balm is Odylique's Lip Silk - it's a fail safe, certified organic balm with shea butter and coconut oil, that tastes like oranges.

My lip stain is Balance Me's Shine On Tinted Lip Salve in Ruby Red - it's a gorgeous, glossy,
berry tone, with a slightly peppermint taste, but I would like it to be slightly more moisturising. 

My final lip to cheek product is Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Multi Use Blush Stain in Impulse. It's such a pretty pink, and there's something so summery about a cream blush. I only have a sample at the moment, which is actually brilliant for being on the go. Read my full review here. 

For base, I'm still a bit in love with Honeypie Mineral's Mineral Foundation in Fair. It's such a light base, and doesn't look flat or chalky, as some mineral foundations can. Read my full review here. I'm also topping this up with Green People's Pressed Powder SPF15 - I intend to write about this in the next couple of weeks, it's the perfect finishing powder, light and with minimal, organic ingredients. I'd apply both of these with my EcoTools Retractable Kabuki brush. I'm such a geek for wanting clean brushes or finger tips when I'm reapplying makeup, so this is one of my most loved products - and it has the dents in the copper casing to prove it!

For eyes I can't stop wearing my Honeypie Minerals Eyeshadow in Mushroom - don't let the name deceive you, it's the most beautiful grey taupe. It is perfect for everyday, without being a dreary neutral. 

For hands, I have bizarrely packed a tiny tin of body butter, but there you go. Actually, this Orange Cardamon and Geranium body butter by Bloom Remedies skins in perfectly, and is the perfect size for travel (it was part of a gift set). Longer review here.


p.s My hair looks mental in this photograph because it was a blustry, sunny Spring day, and we were in a park in Oxfordshire, that promised bluebells (we were too early) and peacocks (terrifying).

p.p.s My mascara in this photograph is NATorigin Lengthening Mascara in black - I love it, but I don't carry it with me in the day. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

I don't sleep anymore, because this Green People Age Defy+ Eye Cream is so good



Let me start this post by stating that I have really weird eyelids. For my age (twenty six) they are really wrinkly, properly engraved with laughter lines, and just generally the texture of a Gecko lizard. 

I'm not sure why I have such prematurely aged eyelids, so as a result, I use eye cream every couple of nights. I don't use it religiously each night, because I forget, and because good eye cream tends to be quite expensive, so I use it sparingly. 

I've used Pai's Echium and Argan Gentle Eye Cream before, which is a rich buttery cream, and lovely, but I see immediate results with this Green People Age Defy Line Eraser Lip and Eye Cream. It tightens the skin - in a nice way! And the next morning the skin around my eyes seems less marked and softer.

I know I've rambled on about Green People's Age Defy range before (especially their DD cream) but I can't get enough of their products. The quality is so good, and the products just work. In the case of this eye cream, it's probably due to the 23 actives, including stem cells cells from Sea Holly, and Beech Bud extracts to increase the skin's natural collagen, with Hibiscus extract, to even skin tone. It also includes Bicalin, which is derived from the Skullcap herb, which prolongs cell life. 

You can also use this eye cream on your lips, but I can't really comment on that, because I don't have lines on my lips yet, but I have used it on blemishes that were healing, and it really reduced the scarring and pigmentation of those blemishes (bit of a bonus!). 

It's a gel like texture, in contrast to most buttery eye creams. I like this - the skin around your eyes is so delicate, that a cream can feel too heavy - this just feels hydrating. The scent is also quite floral and delicate: a mixture of Rosewood, Palmarosa, Blue Chamomile, Ylang Ylang, Lavender, Rose Geranium and Ho wood. 

It's £18.00 for 10ml. I really don't like to promote a product as 'anti aging', because I think it's quite manipulative (although I will happily - or should that be miserably? Fork out for anything that promises to reduce blemishes, which is another form of marketing). Anyway, my point is, this product promises to reduce fine lines around the eyes, and I think it does just that. I would never want to steer you wrong, or to recommend a product that I wouldn't repurchase myself. This is a lovely eye cream. Rambling rant over. 

The downside is that I now keep skipping early bedtimes, because this makes me look so good in the morning.  But I can cope with that...



Let me know if you've tried any of the other Age Defy+ Products - I've used up my normal Green People Gentle Cleanse and Makeup Remover, so I'm going to try the Age Defy+ one next. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Neal's Yard Haul and D.I.Y ideas...


Mini post here...a few things I have bought over the last couple of days. Let me know if you like first impression posts like this, or whether you would prefer more detailed reviews. 

I popped into Neal's Yard for Neem oil, because I'd read that it was an Ayurvedic remedy for blemishes. But after sampling it in the Oxford branch, I realised that I couldn't stand the scent (like burnt peanut butter).So instead I bought...

1. Geranium Essential Oil: possibly my favourite essential oil, ever (although it would have to have a battle with Lavender). Is a balancing, earthy rose scent, which I use to lace hot baths. 

2. Patchouli Essential Oil: a different purchase for me. My favourite Lush Aromaco deodorant has the scent of patcahouli, and I want to replicate this in a D.I.Y. deodorant or solid perfume. I know it's a bit old school hippie, but I secretly love that. 

3. Kelp Powder: I bought this to include in D.I.Y face masks, and I've already tried it - I love the scent - it's just like being on the beach, surrounded with seaweed and salt water. I think it's slightly too gritty for face masks, though, so I'm going to find another use for it. 

4. Marshmallow Root: I've wanted to buy this for years, after watching Cloudy Apples' YouTube video on a D.I.Y leave in conditioner. I've never used Marshmallow root, and am really excited to incorporate this into beauty recipes - speaking of beauty recipes, have you seen the new Neal's Yard Beauty Book? It's on my wishlist...

Let me know if you have some good D.I.Y recipes for these ingredients. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Vapour Organic Beauty Aura Multi Use Blush Stain...a natural dupe for Benetint







If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that the one non organic or natural beauty product that I really, really, miss is BeneTint. I discovered it when I was a teenager (and Benefit were impossibly sophisticated) and I just thought it was so pretty.

 I've never found a product that can mimic that china doll pink prettiness, the staying powder, or even just a product that looks dewy and flushed on the cheekbones, and like a bitten berry stain on the lips. 

But I think Vapour Organic Beauty Multi Use Blush Stain* in Impulse might be my dupe. 

Firstly, the colour. As you can hopefully see from the photographs, it's a deep raspberry pink - the sort of shade that could be built up to be a pink toned red. On this lips, this is perfect. I am still a hopeless beauty blogger that doesn't own a red lipstick, and this is as closest I've been so far. On the cheeks, this is a doll like cream blush. I love the way the lips and cheeks match exactly - I've never really achieved this with my haphazard collection of blushers and lipsticks, but it feels very ladylike, like wearing a matching bra and knickers, or carrying a proper handbag. 

I also love the consistency: the mix of oils (sunflower and castor) and beeswax give the stain a shea butter type texture, but still with a rich colour. It also has tomato fruit extract! 

The one downside? It's pretty expensive. Vapour Organic are a luxury American brand, with the requisite prices to match. I have purchased the sample from Naturismo for one pound, but I know I will work up the courage to buy the £31.00 full product soon - probably as soon as it is my birthday! I just know it will last for ages.

As it is a cream blush/lipstick, it does need to be reapplied, which is the only real difference between this product and my former love, BeneTint - however I believe the real packaging is a metal tube, which would make this quick to reapply. 

Let me know if you have any natural or organic beauty dupes - I'd love to find a natural Touche Eclat. 


Sample bought from Naturisimo.com, for £1.00. 

*Yep. Longest name ever. 

D.I.Y Herbal Facial Steam: Lavender, chamomile and rosemary


This is a lovely treat for when you're broke at the end of the month (no? Just me?). It's basically a thrifty facial in a bowl. In the same way that the steam from a bath, or a sauna can be really relaxing and beneficial, this facial steam will hydrate and soften your skin. Plus, it's cheap!

Ingredients:

Chamomile flowers (I tore up about four inexpensive tea bags.)
Lavender (this was growing in my garden. It's one of the few plants that survive my poor plant parenting skills.) You can also buy little glass pots of lavender flowers from Steenberg's.
Rosemary (also from the garden. Also a survivor.)

Instructions

You are supposed to boil a few cups of water, add your herbs, then let it steep for a couple of minutes.

I couldn't be bothered to do that.

So I just added my herby loveliness to a glass mixing bowl, and poured a few cups of hot water on top. I left it for about two minutes (no one wants a scalded face).

Then, I put the bowl on my bed, then draped a towel around my head and shoulders like some mad sort of cape, and lay on my stomach, with my face tipped over the bowl. I use the towel as an insulator, so that none of the steam escapes.

I do this for about ten minutes, with a song or YouTube video in the background.

Afterwards, I notice that although my skin looks a bit pink, it's a lot softer and smoother. I also find that when I next use cleansers and moisturisers, that they seem to 'sink in' a lot better (make sure you do the facial steam with a freshly washed, but not moisturised, face).

I really like this as a weekly alternative to a face mask (although face masks are lovely and useful too). It's a perfect treatment for a Sunday afternoon.


Let me know if you try this facial steam, and what herbs or dried flowers you use. I think I might opt for Steenberg's rose petals next time...

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Three desserts that aren't really desserts



So you've come in from work, and you're exhausted. You haven't eaten since you wolfed down a half hearted avocado sandwich at twelve (and the avocado was starting to go off). You want a cup of coffee and something sweet. But mainlining a hunk of Green and Blacks organic chocolate every evening isn't the best plan. So here are three 'desserts' that have good quality, healthy ingredients, and that you can whip up in the time it takes to boil a kettle. Taste tasted by a bona fide sweet tooth cookie monster (me).


 Sort of raw chocolate mousse.

Take a large avocado, a tablespoon of raw honey, and four tablespoons of cocoa powder or cacao powder (I like to use two of each). 

If you want the mousse to be completely raw, then you need to use cacao powder, which has lots of vitamins and minerals, but is more expensive and difficult to source than cocoa powder. I use both, because I like the health benefits of cacao powder, and the authentic chocolate taste and glossiness of cocoa. 

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, crush with a fork, and then blend (I just have a rubbish hand held blender, so you don't need a Vitamix). Taste test: add more raw honey if you want it to sweeter, more cocoa if you want it to be richer. 

Serve in small ceramic ramekins. Dust a little cacao powder on the top, and garnish with edible rose petals, if you want to be fancy. I like Steenberg's rose petals - they add a Turish Delight flavour to the dessert. But if it's really after work, I eat it straight from the mixing bowl.


Banana bread in a mug

I discovered this on Lucy Travers' Instagram, and couldn't believe that I hadn't tried it before. I adapted her ingredients slightly, to make it a little sweeter and floury.

You will need: one organic egg (medium or large) one large banana (it's better if it's slightly old and bashed), a few tablespoons of flour (I used Spelt flour) one heaped tablespoon of raw honey, and a teaspoon of baking powder. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl, then pour into a large mug.  

Cook on a medium heat for twenty five minutes. Eat hot from the mug with a cup of decaf coffee with frothy milk on the side.

As with any banana bread, this can be customised depending on your preference, or what you have in the kitchen cupboard: a pinch of cinnamon, a tablespoon of cocoa powder or a few crumbled walnuts would make good additions (although not all at the same time!). 


Stuffed dates

I invented these! Errr...not so much a recipe, as a combination of delicious fruits. I didn't try organic dates for years because I thought they looked like tiny rainforest poos, but I was so wrong (happens a lot). They taste like nature's fudge, and have such a sweet, caramel flavour that you won't believe they are fruit. Top tip: always buy organic Medjool dates, they are the squishiest and most delicious, other varieties can be quite dry. 

I used Sainsbury's So Organic Medjool dates, which are £2.15 for a box. Tear open the dates to take out the stone, then stuff with a soft fruit, like raspberries or strawberries. Think of them as natural D.I.Y truffles. 

Serve with decaff organic frothy coffee (I like Whole Earth Organic No Caf from Holland and Barrett, but Aldi do a nice decaf coffee too).