Thursday, 27 August 2015

Living Naturally Bergamot, Ylang, & Rose Soapnut Salve cured my eczema, and has the scent of rose petals, what more could you want for £8.50?


It's worth saying at this point that I'm not going to turn this blog into a natural eczema blog: Sarah at Sugar Puffish has got that covered. I don't regularly suffer from eczema (like my sister does) but I get little patches every now and again - but with a trusty collection of natural salves and shea butters, it never lasts for long. This is my current favourite antidote. 

I was actually sent the Living Naturally Ayurvedic Herbal Powder Hair Mask to review (which I will, it's lovely) but I thought this Living Naturally Bergamot, Ylang & Rose Soapnut Salve deserved a little post of it's own. 

It's a rich natural salve infused with anti-flammatory herbs, with soapnuts as the special not-so-secret ingredient. There are three different scents to choose from, this one, Cardamon & Lavender and Chamomile & Rose. I'ved reviewed the Cardamon & Lavender one before, and it has a rich, herbal scent, but oh my goodness, the Bergamot, Ylang & Rose is literally like sticking your face in a bouquet of roses. Without the thorns. If you love an authentic rose scent (from essential oils) you will be very happy. 

This is also such a multi-purpose product. It would be perfect on heels, elbows or dry skin, sunburn, insect bites, or small cuts and grazes. Think of it as an all over soother - or a natural beauty equivalent of Sudocreme.*

*I say Sudocreme because when we were growing up it was my Dad's fail-safe response to any tiny cut or graze. Sort of like the father with Windex in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. 

What's your favourite natural balm or salve? 

£8.50 for 60g

Full Ingredients: Shea butter, olive oil, Jojoba seed oil, candelilla wax, sunflower seed oil, Soapnut extract, Calendula flower extract, marshmallow extract, Chickenweed extract,  Plantago Species leaf extract, Greater Burdock extract, Dandelion extract, Grape vine seed oil, Damask Rose flower oil, Bergamot Fruit oil.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

I'm moving into my new home! + Greenfrog Botanic Neroli & Lime Hand Wash Review


I'm sorry I've been so quiet.

I'm currently in the process of moving into my new flat with Dan (yay!). This will be our first home together (even though we don't own it) so it's really exciting. 

However.

This flat (a lovely, quiet, top floor flat in Oxford, with a little balcony) is a bit of a 'fixer upper.'

And by 'fixer upper' I mean it was left completely filthy by the previous tenants. 

As you will know from reading my blog, I'm quite a fan of being clean. I really like soap.

So the first evening in my new flat wasn't so much unpacking cardboard boxes and popping Champagne, as it was weeping and vacuuming. 

Luckily, I had lots of help: Dan as a van driver/source of all calm, my Mum as head gardener, and my Dad as general footman. 

So that's why my blog has had virtual tumble-weed drifting across it for the last few days. I've been carrying boxes up four flights of stairs whilst surviving on Ikea vegetarian meatballs and the chocolate biscuits that my Mum bought for my boyfriend. 

Luckily, a habitable flat is within sight. 

And to celebrate, I have a fancy hand soap in my bathroom, to let everyone know I'm a proper grown up, with nice hand soap and neatly folded towels. 

I won this Greenfrog Botanic Neroli & Lime Hand Wash on a Twitter competition, and it's been a lovely discovery. I received the Neroli and Lime, and it has a subtle, zingy scent (I'm aware that is a contradictory description!). It's a rich,  moisturising hand wash, as it includes Himalayan soapberries and aloe vera as two of its ingredients, and the packaging looks so pretty. There's a really lovely story about how Julie and Nick started their company on their website, which is worth a read - especially if you like British natural beauty brands (they're based in Hove! I always love Brighton companies, as my sister lives there). They also have a couple of body washes that look equally luxurious, and currently have 25% off. 

Greenfrog Botanic Neroli & Lime Hand Wash £7.80 for 300ml

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

How to reduce your makeup collection...

I love my lip liners: this is their (slightly messy) home that they share with their friends, the makeup brushes.
I know this title might seem slightly strange. Surely I should be writing a post on which new product to purchase? But if you are reading my post (and my blog) it is possible that you are a collector of natural and organic makeup. Collections can be lovely, but being faced with eleven choices choices of lipliner on a Tuesday morning can be slightly daunting. Unless you like lip liners, that is (I do). Basically this is not so much a guide on how to have a minimalist makeup collection, but how to not have lots of unused makeup collecting dust at the bottom of your bag.

1. Learn which product you are going to be a maximalist about. Everyone has one product that you stockpile, and always love sourcing new versions of. For me, it's lip pencils. You might need to have a lip balm stashed in every pocket, or a rainbow palette of eyeshadows.

2. Find your holy grails. This piece of advice is tricky, because we all know that finding a holy grail beauty product can take years, with lots of near misses. But my point (and one that I fail to do myself) is not to buy a new version of a product if you have found the perfect one for you. I can't do this, because I always want to try new things.

3. Find someone you can swap beauty products with. This is one of the many occasions in which it's useful to have a sister. We're lucky in that we have quite different tastes in makeup - she's a bold lip girl, and I prefer bronzes and  neutrals. So she gets my lipsticks, and I inherit her mineral eyeshadows. Be careful when swapping makeup - the eye area is especially prone to infection, and mascara should never be swapped.

4. Learn which products you really don't like. This is trickier than it sounds. I wasn't really into wearing makeup until my late teens and early twenties, so I didn't really have that embarrassing, teenage, trial and error phase. The downside of this is that I am playing with makeup at a time when I am in full time employment, and coming in with glittery eyebrows is frowned upon! For example, I love my new copper eyeshadow, but it is quite a strong look for daytime.

I've learnt from the last few months that I don't like eyeliner. Sticking a little stick in my eye never produces results that make that worthwhile to me. I'm also not quite sure if I like the texture of lipstick. I know this sounds weird, but it's the oily, buttery texture, I've given a lot of my lipsticks to my sister, and I really think I prefer a lip liner and lip balm combination. Other beauty products that I never really opt for: liquid eyeliner, false lashes (too clumsy for both) contouring powder, (not skilled enough) lip gloss and experimental nail polish colours (bad teenage memories!). I think that the best way to decide whether you really like a product or not is this: do you enjoy the process of applying it? If not, then it might be one you can skip in the future.

5. Try to buy products that you know you will use up. For me, this means concealer and mineral foundation. Unless I have bought a lurid orange shade I can happily use these up in my quest for (slightly nicer) skin. Pots that I have used up and enjoyed include Honeypie Minerals, Lily Lolo and Neal's Yard Remedies.

6. The irritating 'one in, one out rule.' This is the sort of rule that proper minimalists say you should do with your wardrobe. But who is going to give away a soft cotton t-shirt just because they've bought a new pretty beaded one? But with makeup I find it actually works, The best three products to do this with are foundation, concealer and mascara. Provided that the current product is working well enough for you, then it makes sense to use up every last drop before moving onto your next purchase. Then switch up different coloured eyeshadows and lipliners to fill the boredom gap.

I hope these tips were useful! I would love to know your best tips for keeping a minimalist and tidy makeup collection - let me know in the comments below.

I'm not this minimalist. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

If you can't have fresh sea air, then Zk'in Organic Hydrating Mist is the next best thing...


I've recently been to the Suffolk coast, and am longing for the feeling of fresh sea air on my skin. I feel that when I go for a walk by the sea, I return with with my skin feeling cleansed by the salty air, plumped up and flushed in a pretty, BBC Jane Austen drama sort of way. 

So, as I am currently land bound, I've been substituting with the next best thing: Zk'in's Organic Hydrating Mist.

Zk'in (pronounced as skin) are an organic Australian skincare brand devised by Grace Culhaci after several health issues drove her to focus on an organic, holistic lifestyle.  I'm really starting to feel that Aussies know their skincare beans. This is definitely the hardest working toner I've ever tried. I love simple floral waters, but this is a lot more than than. The seaweed extract helps repair UV damage and the aloe vera leaf juice, lavender flower water and glycerin mean that this is a proper shot of hydration. So this is the perfect product to take on holiday with you - post flight it will rejuvenate your skin, and day to day to prevent any dry or damaged skin. 

Except that I don't just want this to be a fleeting Summer romance, I'm going to use this toner all year round. Not only is it more hydrating than a pint of lemon water (probably) it has a delicate floral scent, that is both pretty and unusual, and for some reason reminds me of the beauty department in Whole Foods (possibly to do with the floral scents of lavender combined with the earthy fragrances of ylang ylang and patchouli). The ingredient list is stellar, it's cruelty free, and vegan. But also (because I'm a bad beauty blogger who doesn't research things until they actually write the post) I didn't realise how good the price is: £22.95 for a hearty sized bottle that will surely last for months. And free delivery to the UK. I'm currently eyeing up their Clarifying Exfoliator and Brightening & Hydrating Mask - has anyone tried these two? 

£22.95 for 120ml (with free shipping to the UK)

Ingredients
Aloe Vera leaf juice, lavender flower water, radish root ferment filtrate, glycerin, natural perfume, brown seaweed extract, lavender oil, vanilla fruit extract, ylang ylang flower oil, patchouli leaf oil. 97.45% organic


This is a well tested and classic skincare routine for me. Sukin Cream Cleanser (another Aussie brand) followed by Zk'in Organic Hydrating Mist. I usually give this a couple of minutes to sink into my skin. Then my holy grail moisturiser: Pai's Geranium and Thistle Rebalancing Day Cream. Then at night (or in the day if I fancy a dewy, glowing makeup look) a few dabs of Pai's BioRegenerate Rosehip Oil, and a couple of times a week Balm Balm's Hibiscus Face Mask as an exfoliating cleanser. I've also included my holy grail natural toothpaste: Jason PowerSmile and Sarakan Mouthwash, all finished off with a slick of Hurraw SPF 15 Sun Protection 'Balm on my lips.



Yep, this is what I'm missing. 

Monday, 10 August 2015

How to heal yourself on holiday (with beauty products) + 1001 Remedies review...


How many hours do you sleep each night? A scrappy four? A health conscious eight, waking to sip from  a glass of cold water? Or a voluptuous ten? 

I ask because I don't sleep enough. 

Not nearly enough. 

But if you were to ask me for beauty or skincare tips, I would say: sleep more. If you asked me what I was most looking forward to this weekend? A lie in. The one thing that made instantly makes me happier, and calmer? More sleep. Oh, and copious amounts of shut eye stops the cravings for Green and Blacks and roast potatoes, as you don't need food to prop you up throughout the day. 

And it's FREE! I'm about to review some luxury, luscious products in a moment, but let's bear in mind that the ONE thing that would make me (and you) look more gorgeous is extra sleep. 

So why don't I do it?

I'm not sure. Night time always seems like a good time to write blog posts, watch YouTube videos and reorganise my makeup collection. Perhaps I'm afraid that I need to squeeze out a little more fun from the day, before nestling into my bed. 

So I'm making a blog pact. For the next five weeks (my Summer holiday) I will ease into going to bed earlier. Starting from my current average bedtime of eleven *coughs* (twelve) and try to get it down a by half an hour or an hour each week. 

By the end of this holiday, I want to be a nine o'clock girl. Wish me luck!


So, to these gorgeous products from 1001 remedies, and their role in my bid for more sleep. 1001 Remedies are a luxury French brand based on aromatherapy, by Sofia Belcadi. 


The first is a one ingredient organic Moroccan Argan oil. Argan oil has earnt its place on many a bathroom shelf for its multi use purposes: it's equally luscious on hair, body and face. This particular Argan oil is very pure, and has a nutty scent to go with it - none of your Morocanoil rubbish here, just lovely fatty acids and natural Vitamin E. But what really makes this product different to your average Argan oil from the chemist is the packaging - a satisfyingly heavy, gold edged spray bottle. It's the spray bottle that makes the difference here - it gives you the perfect amount to smooth into your limbs or add a little texture to your hair. I'm so clumsy that applying oils is usually like a bad cartoon sketch, involving the a hasty dollop slipping through my fingertips. It feels so luxurious to spritz this Argan oil onto my body just after showering - I find that having a hot bath or shower just before I go to sleep really helps me to drift off - it's something scientific to do with the dip in your body temperature.  I would also love to buy a sample size of this argan oil in the future, as it would be perfect for holiday. 

£39.00 for 100ml

Ingredients: organic Argan oil. 


I was slightly foolish with this night balm at first - I glanced at the label and thought it was for your face! And although it is incredibly moisturising, there are slightly too many lovely essential oils to make it wholly suitable for this. But it's actually even better - it's a night balm that you apply to your wrists and the hollow of your chest, and the combined effect of the essential oils will soothe you to sleep. I love this product, because I don't always have time to have an essential oil laced bath, but it's exactly on those nights when I need aromatherapy to calm me. The ingredients are suitably luxe too: St John's Wort has been used for years as an antidote to depression, lemon balm (Melissa oil) calms and relaxes the heart and lavender eases anxiety. I loved the luxury of this product - a gleaming gold pot next to my bedside calms me as much as essential oils. But in seriousness, my Mum suffers from insomnia - I'll often walk down in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, and see her reading a novel, or watching a film. But I gave her this balm to try, and she now swears by it. I will absolutely be repurchasing this for her - the golden packaging would make it a perfect Christmas gift. 

£29.00 for 30ml 

Ingredients: Jojoba seed oil, olive oil, beeswax, lavender essential oil, chamomile flower oil, St John's Wort, lemon balm oil, rosewood essential oil, neroli essential oil, Vitamin E. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Copenhagen Day 9 + 10 + 11 Paelo cheesecake, Matisse and lots of organic food

Friday 


Does anyone else wait until the end of their trip to pick up the things they've been eyeing up? Because that's exactly what I do, especially if I have a little leftover money - it's the perfect excuse. The two stores I've been circling all week are Sostrene Grene and Notre Dame - basically small homeware stores. Sostrene Grene is slightly less expensive - I bought these two gold rimmed glass tumblers for about £1.20 each. 


From Notre Dame I picked up these little wooden spoons and a mini grater - I want to use the spoons to mix face masks (and to use in blog photographs, to be honest!) and I love lemon zest, but never use it enough, so hopefully the tiny pocket sized grater will enable me to do this. These were all one or two pounds each. 

I also bought lots of lovely presents for my Mum, Dad and sister Sarah, but I can't show you photographs yet because they read my blog!

Dan and I met up at around lunchtime, and we had gourmet pizza by 'Gorms,' It was made from scratch in the little stall. It was really good, but we accidentally ordered one with salami, spinach and Gorgonzola which wouldn't have been our first choice! It still tasted really good, though. 



And then. Just across from the Gourmet pizza place was a Paleo restaurant (imaginatively called Paelo). I spotted one of my favourite things in the world: raw cashew nut cheesecake. 


It also had dates and coconut oil and almonds and was just so scrumptious - even Dan had to agree. I really want to start making my own raw cheesecakes when I get my own blender.

We also shared a chocolate milkshake, that was organic soy, cocoa and protein powder. 


Being full of fancy junk food, we wandered over to the art gallery. 


There was lots of Danish art, but I found it to be too dark and oppressive. I loved the painting by Matisse the most. I love his use of colour!



I included a photograph of this onion picture for my sister. 

Saturday 


Saturday was a super quick whip around the shops (because I was with Dan, who isn't the most stoical of shoppers!). I wanted to use up the last of my coins, and I loved one of the presents for my sister so much, I went and bought the exact same item! I also picked up some pink Himalayan sea salt from Tiger, because it was really cheap, and I've read good things about it. I also picked up a distressed white plant pot and a wooden box for storage, but they aren't photographing well, so I'll show you them when Dan and I move into our flat. 


We also bought some nice organic chocolate for Ben, my sister's boyfriend, from Irma - I love these supermarkets, they have so much organic food! I hope this doesn't have nuts in, because he hates nuts. 


For lunch we went to BioMio - I've wanted to go to this organic restaurant all week! It's in a old car parts shop, and has a real dinner feel. 


I had a unsweetened Chai tea with milk, because the diner style was making me want a milkshake. 


Continuing my exploration of Copenhagen's organic junk food: an organic burger, with coleslaw, aioli, roasted new potatoes and a chunky Portobello mushroom. It was easily the best burger I've ever had in my life, with the exception of the bun, which was slightly too much to eat - I like burgers that are just wrapped in Portobello mushrooms and beefsteak tomatoes. 


I knew this organic restaurant was good, because they had decaf coffee! And they didn't make me feel like a loser for asking! We also had petit fours, which were chocolate ganache with thyme flavouring. They were a delicious texture, but the flavour was weird - like having a roast dinner and a chocolate pudding in your mouth at the same time. 


After lunch, we walked through a flea market, and I bought this necklace for two pounds: it's very thin and light, which I love in a necklace. 




On the way home we went into a couple of HAY stores, because I'd heard some good things about them. They were okay - very Scandi style. 


Then in the afternoon we went to the beach...


Why can't I take a decent photograph without squinting all over the place? I'm wearing a vintage white cotton dress from Rokit in London (my sister chose it!) and  dusty pink silk cardigan from Jigsaw via eBay. 


Dan bought these for me a couple of days ago from the market, and they are sooo good. I cannot convey how lovely this flavour combination is: almonds, covered in white chocolate, then dusted with the powder of freeze dried strawberries. I really want to try and replicate this recipe at home - it's like eating strawberries and cream and almonds all at once. I'm trying to save some for my family to try, but I can't make any promises!


Sunday 



Sunday was a really relaxed day, with a picnic in the park. Wholemeal roll, hummus (Danish hummus has the consistency of a smoothie, and is really garlicky). Blueberries, salted pistachios, dates. 


I look really washed out here (I had a little nap in the sunshine) but here's my ootd: my Mum's vintage silk skirt and t-shirt, hat from & Other Stories. 


I'm writing this blog post when I should be making pasta for Dan, and packing. But I thought I'd give you a little preview of some of the beauty products that I bought: mostly for five pounds each from a discounted basket in Helsam. Full product reviews coming soon!

Goodbye Copenhagen! 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Copenhagen Day 7 + 8 Natural beauty shopping Nirvana and raw chocolate mulberries...

Wednesday 


Makeup of the day: Lily Lolo Mineral Foundation, their pressed eyeshdaows, NATorigin Lengthening Mascara Green People Pressed Mineral Blusher in Rose my Jane Iredale Lip Pencil in Rose mixed with Hurraw lip balm in Black Cherry. My hair is scraped back to protect my poor sunburnt scalp. 


Look at all these vegetables! This lunch made me happy. Leftover chickpea and coconut curry, raw broccoli and cucumber, natural yoghurt with mint. 


Today I was searching for a shop called Pure, which is the largest natural beauty shop in Denmark. But thanks to a relaxed attitude to map reading, I didn't find it. Instead, I had a wander around the fancy department store Magasin Du Nord. It's just like the plush department stores in London, except that in the beauty section you will find Pai Skincare, Estelle and Thild, Madara and The Organic Pharmacy. In the beauty section there was a Benecos stand! I don't wear all of Benecos's makeup, as they use talc, but I absolutely love their lip liners and eye liners. I'm not as confident wearing eyeliner (I usually feel like I am poking myself in the eye with a small colourful stick). But I absolutely love the olive green shade below. 


I swatched the Benecos eye liners (far right) Dr Hauschka lip liners, a Lotus Minerals lilac eyeshadow, and the Benecos Eyebrow Pencil.


I also discovered a little natural beauty shop called Helsemin (more of which later!). I had run out of the gorgeous lemony Trevarno soap from my sister, so I bought this organic rose one from Urtekram - they are a Scandinavian brand, so it was really cheap, only £1.20! (That's cheap for organic soap!).


I've gotten into a phase of watching really healthy 'What I ate today' style videos on YouTube. One of the bloggers recommended the raw chocolate covered mulberries from The Raw Chocolate Company. I've always seen these, but passed them by, as they look a little bit like tiny brains/animal droppings. But they are really delicious and moreish! The taste and texture is exactly like chocolate raisins, so if you were looking for a slightly healthier alternative, these would be a good option. They're pretty expensive (I bought a 125g bag that was on sale for £4.00, which Dan said was more expensive than organic steak). That cacao doesn't come cheap! 


I'm squinting like a fool because Dan took the photograph and is sitting in the sunshine. My silk camisole is secondhand from Topshop Unique. The cropped jeans are from a charity shop in Suffolk, and the pink silk cardigan is Jigsaw via eBay. 


It's Copenhagen fashion week, and Marc Jacobs had created an Instagram campaign in which blonde women in white dresses were giving out long stemmed daisies - the idea was that you took a picture of yourself with the flower. I love daisies. Daisies are the friendliest flower. (Nora Ephron). 

We wandered over to the Rosenborg castle, near the town.


This was a house in the castle grounds. 



They have a wooden hut in the grounds - I think it's for children to play in. I love the design - pale wood is so Scandinavian. They also have a beautiful rose garden. 


This photograph is of a concrete skate park in the middle of the city. Then we went browsing in the Torvehallerne food market, which is apparently where the chefs go to source ingredients. It has tons of fresh fruit and vegetables, lots of little restaurants and cafes, handmade chocolate and organic wine. It's such a lovely place to wander around. 







The market also had a few natural beauty products - I love the gold taps.


Aren't these bottles pretty? We thought they were olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, but it's alcohol. 

After wandering around for a while we went home and had organic pasta, pesto and spinach. 

Thursday 


The first natural beauty shop I hit up was tiny, and down a side-street, but filled to the top with natural and organic beauty, and health food yumminess. There was more of an emphasis on affordable beauty - think Lavera and Benecos, although there was a little Dr Hauschka too. So sort of like a natural, organic chemist (or drugstore, for my American friends). And what made it a complete, perfect chemist style experience for me? They had a wicker basket on the till, full of reduced Lavera and Dr Hauschka lip liners and lipsticks. It completely took me back to my teenage years, when I bought three reduced lipsticks from my local chemist, and had been so gleeful at their cheapness and horrific colours (blood scarlet, deep purple and charcoal black, if I remember correctly, I was a bit of a punk/goth). I'd actually been into this shop yesterday, and been really calm and restraint, and just selected one Dr Hauschka lip liner from the basket. 

But I couldn't stop thinking about the red lip liner that I had left behind - so I went back the next day. I was also sampling lots of mineral eyeshadows, when an assistant asked me if I had seen a particular brand that was tucked away behind the essential oils. They are basically little glass pots of highly pigmented mineral sparkle, at £4.50 each; and I bought three: bronze, copper and gold. I will photograph and review all of the products I bought when I'm back in Britain. 



The second shop I went to was the elusive Pure - not actually that elusive, I just needed to actually look at Google Maps before I left the house. It was so gorgeous - all white and minimalist and fancy products everywhere. Proper beauty Nirvana. 



If I lived in Copenhagen all the time I would be so, so broke. Ooh, I also sampled a bit of the Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint - it had a deliciously light, mousse like texture and a good pale shade. Has anyone tried/loved this? 



BEST. DAY. EVER. Yep, I did walk around for most of the day with my arm looking like an artist's easel. There are too many swatches here for me to explain, but let's just say that I had a really happy day swatching colours. I can't test natural makeup like this in Britain (unless I go into London) and it's so exciting! I actually had an idea of what the colours looked like before I bought them.


I bought a lipstick for my sister as a gift (sorry, Sarah, the surprise is ruined!). I'd asked the shop assistant if she had any small shampoo samples I could buy, as I was running low. She went over to a new box of John Masters products, and gave me several handfuls of samples. I was so grateful, but I'm not sure that I conveyed this to her, as I was so surprised. So - thank you!

Dan and I met up, and decided to go to the National Danish Musuem. It had some really interesting exhibitions: including the artefacts that people used to be buried with, and Denmark's role in WW1.


Wandering through the grounds of the palace, on the way to the National Museum. 





Centaur brawl!


Buddha!




After going to the museum, it was still really light and sunny, so we wandered around for a bit and got some food bits from Netto (Netto have organic pesto here, is this possible in Britain?). I also chose some crackers, and this juice, because I liked the label. It was really sweet, and tasted like guava, which was unusual. It was only two pounds fifty for a huge smoothie in a glass bottle, which puts our sickly British smoothies to shame. Is it weird that I'm really excited to reuse this bottle for carrying water or juice? It's the perfect size! Recycling and re-purposing jam jars and glass bottles makes me immeasurably happy. 


Snacking black grapes and fresh mint tea.