Wunder Workshop is the turmeric brand, sourcing this fragrant organic spice from Sri Lanka and creating products that benefit your health & wellbeing. Recently the brand added two adaptogens to its product family, one that helps you counteract the negative effect of stress, the other to enhance your skin’s natural glow & I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts about them with you.

One of the signs of our times, with a wider reaching tentacles of the world-wide web is that many people prefer to self-diagnose themselves or go to the doctor at the first sign of a cold, asking for antibiotics. On my recent trip to Moscow I was horrified to see the bombardment of the nation with medication ads on TV, followed by my eldest bewildered question: ‘ Mum, why are there so many pharmacies in Moscow, are people here very sick?’ There is a time and the place to consult the doctor, but a lot can and should be said about the benefits of lifestyle and holistic practises that we can all benefit from in the long-term.

As human lifespan become longer & we all will be expected to work for an extended period of time before retiring, compared to previous generations, good health becomes paramount. After all, we only have one health and while many take it for granted while it is good, it helps to shift the focus from superficial good looks to looking after our long-term health & wellbeing, both of which, make us not only feel better, but looking better too.

Adaptogens are widely used in Chinese medicinal practises because they help increase our resilience to environmental, mental, biological, emotional and physical stresses that we all experience daily. Certain herbs and plants help to normalise functions within our bodies and make us feel better in our skin, as well as in our bodies. A long time ago I remember listening to an interview with a well-known Russian doctor, who said that happiness and health for her is when she wakes up feeling energised and with no aches or pains. Ask yourself, how often do you experience that?

Zoe Lindt Van’t Hof, co-founder of Wunder Workshop, has been a long-term follower & advocate of holistic lifestyle, in a non-restrictive way. When you see her, with the sparkling eyes, glowing skin and contagiously grounding vibes, you instantly understand that she is the best advertisement for her brand and efficacy of the products she creates, as well as holistic lifestyle that she leads. Zoe is inspiring as a person, and as professional, yet she remains calmly focussed and generous with sharing her knowledge & tips.

Latest Wunder Workshop additions, launched earlier this summer, are brand’s first adaptogenic blends. Zoe & Tom, her right-hand partner,  have picked the ingredients based on their single functionalities, but also factored in the synergies between the ingredients. Unlike centuries ago, now spices seem to be widely available from retailers, but for me the choice often correlates to the quality of the spices & when it comes to turmeric, I can honestly say that Wunder Workshop is my favourite turmeric brand. Why? Well, simply put it is because Zoe & her team are dedicated to sourcing the best ingredients, factoring manufacturing practises in cultivation, quality of the soil, climate & harvesting times into their products.

Golden Balance is a blend (organically certified) of turmeric with Ashwagandha, Licorice, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper. This unique blend of organic Ayurvedic herbs and spices is designed to combat a stressful modern lifestyle, managing cortisol levels and improving hormone balance. Ashwagandha is rich in iron, improving alertness, as well as strengthening the body’s response to stress and anxiety by reducing adrenal fatigue and stabilising thyroid hormones. Turmeric, liquorice and ginger have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, whilst cayenne pepper stimulates metabolism and circulation, revitalising and rejuvenating the body.

‘In our society’s hectic lifestyle where our bodies and hormones are constantly put to the test, Golden Balance helps to maintain your balance day in day out. It can be enjoyed at any time of the day in juices, smoothies, lattes as a nutritional supplement’

I have started my trial of those two adaptogenic blends with this one and has made it daily, generally in the evenings, either with full-fat organic milk or Rude Health Brown Rice Drink, which vanilla undertones compliment the taste of the blend. However, when I met Zoe & Tom during their customer presentation at Content, they mixed it up for me with oat milk and I have to say that it really does compliment the malty taste of the blend perfectly. It also works well in banana smoothies, as well as green smoothies or juices, but of course, this always comes down to personal taste.

The second blend, called Golden Glow is a blend of turmeric* with Maca*, Rice Bran, Brahmi*, black pepper* (organically certified ingredients). Zoe believes that glowing skin starts from the inside & this is full of beneficial antioxidants and vitamins. Rice bran is a rich source of vitamin E, which protects skin from premature ageing and environmental pollution. It also contains tocotrienols (“tocos”), which may have anti-cancer, neuroprotective and cholesterol lowering properties. Maca, a natural hormone balancer, can enhance the body’s ability to combat anxiety and depression which may negatively affect skin appearance. Furthermore, the antioxidants in brahmi, turmeric and rice bran help to relieve stress and expel toxins from the body and the upper epithelial layers of the skin, stimulating skin cell regeneration. Brahmi is a potent Ayurvedic nootropic herb that has been known to naturally boost cognitive ability, helping you to feel focused and alive.

To “glow” is more than just having wonderful skin, it is about having a radiance that transcends appearance and that is often affected by our mood and alertness.

Golden Glow is a versatile blend that can be enjoyed at any time of the day in juices, smoothies, lattes as a nutritional supplement. All you have to do is add 1/2 tsp to your morning smoothie or to warm milk/mylk. I also add it to my protein shake, which I drink half an hour before working out or instead of lunch, on a hectic day.

Who knows the brand better than its founder? With this thought in mind, I asked Zoe a few questions, in order for you to be armed with knowledge and information, giving you food for thought and fuel for your brain.

Are your adaptogenic blends meant to be taken daily, alongside each other at different times or interchangeably?

Zoe: ‘We recommend that people take them over a certain period of time and then take a break from them, with ayurvedic herbs (and most potent herbs in general) more isn’t always better. It is best to take small doses spread over the day, for example one half teaspoon in the morning with your smoothie and then half a teaspoon for an afternoon latte. They can be taken alongside each other, but they have different purposes. So, if one is really looking to balance their hormones and stress levels, Golden Balance is the one. Golden Glow’s main focus is for enhancing brain cognition and nurturing the skin from the inside out.

Do you recommend them for women of different ages who lead hectic, stressful lives & what effect can they expect when taking those supplements regularly?

Zoe: ‘We recommend them for both adult men and women who lead stressful lives, as adaptogens have the unique ability to restore the balance of endocrine hormones and immune system. Dr Nikolai Lazarev (fellow Russian 🙂  defined adaptogens in 1947 as ‘an agent that allows the body to counter adverse physical, chemical and biological stressors by raising non-specific resistance to such stress, thus allowing the organism to adapt to the stressful circumstances’.

Are there are contraindications to taking those adaptogenic blends, like under or overactive thyroid?

Zoe: ‘We always recommend to speak to a specialist when taking any food supplements, if one suffers from certain diseases or conditions. However, we do know that Ashwaghanda should be avoided, if you have hyperthyroidism, as it is one of the few herbs that has direct effect on thyroid function, making it useful for hypothyroidism.
For those of you you, who are interested to learn more about adaptogens, there is a lot of interesting research on the specific herbs we are using and on adaptogens in general.

When you say use adaptogen for a certain period of time & then take a break, can you expand on that recommendation a little, in terms of the time frame for taking/abstaining?

Zoe: ‘There is no fixed guideline on this, but from what we have learned, one would suggest that if you are using them for say six weeks, do take a full week off. These ‘breaks’ are suggested to let the adaptogenics take effect in your system’.

Each adaptogenic blend comes in a dark amber coloured glass jar, with a screw on lid. You can store it in the kitchen, away from direct heat. Make sure it is stored in a dry & cool place. The jar is practical for travel. Each blend is very finely milled, making it very easy to blend with any liquid – I tend to use a hand whisk when making a cup of milk in the afternoon & it leaves no tiny particles behind. Easy to use, delicious to drink.

As to the effect of taking those adaptogenic blends, after taking each of the blends for a month, one after another, here is what I have noticed:  as I am genetically blessed with my skin, I can’t say that the Golden Glow blend has transformed my skin, however, my skin looks more radiant. Yes, summer always makes us look better, but with the heatwave, skin can become unbalanced and mine coped really well, so I can attribute it to the positive effect of the blend. As to the Golden Balance, it has become a much-needed & trusted ‘assistant’ and I am sure it will continue being one when the warmth of summer gives way to the gloominess of autumn and dampness of winter. It does help the mind cope better with multiple tasks at hand. With the children on the summer holidays, when you have to combine work and entertainment, tempers might flair, even when it’s warm and sunny, but you are pulled in different directions. Taking a supplement to help balance your body and hormones is a good idea, as long as there are no counter indications, nor a big pile of supplements you are taking already. I did my testing of those two blends, one after another, with no additional supplements in my diet, apart from protein powders that I favour. I like the taste, I like the science & research that Zoe diligently did, before launching those products and I do feel better in myself, when it comes to daily life, full to the brim with professional & personal tasks.

For more information about Wunder Workshop and their range of supplements, including adaptogenic blends, priced £17.50 per 40g jar, please click here

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As the discussion on the positives vs negatives of coffee on our bodies rages on, I unequivocally fall into the category of coffee lovers. My acupuncturist has been trying to gently convince me to give it up, but I tell him time and time again that I would rather give up watching the news, that aren’t good for hearts or minds, than give up my daily cups of coffee. A few weeks ago I started a dialogue with an Australian brand called Frank Green, across which I came on Instagram, and they very kindly sent me one of their Smart Cups for testing. My coffee might be iced at times, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time to test SmartCup, as summer means more time spent outside and more travel adventures!

I have gone through my fair share of coffee cups in the last couple of years and without sounding preachy, I believe that a reliable & portable coffee (or tea, as I love tea too !) cup is a worthy friend, who helps with recycling and makes our planet more environmentally friendly. Think of all the cups that are thrown away daily vs one that you carry with you or travel with? Just one reusable SmartCup can offer a saving of 10-25p for the cafe you get your hot drinks from for every disposable cup avoided – this can lead to a saving of about £50 per customer per year.

Frank = Honest        Green = Environment

Until recently my relationship with portable coffee cups has been fractionate. Bodum one leaked mercilessly, even though it had a reliably looking screw-on lid. Another one from a brand which name I sadly can’t recollect had the same problem after six months of use, when the silicone closure started leaking too. I recently bought a lovely one from eCoffeeCup, as it was made from recycled bamboo and recommended by the lovely Nath, founder of resourceful Beautycalypse blog. The cup really appealed to my inner panda, yet I clumsily dropped it a few days after buying it & a big chunk of it broke off. But I wasn’t giving up in my search for a trusted coffee side-kick & then SmartCup came along….

Frank Green is an Australian brand, which is now sold around the world. The philosophy behind the design is simple – create innovative products that are stylish, functional & good for the environment. Sustainability is becoming a more pressing issue and even my kids are on the subject regularly, chiming in with their ideas. I tell them off for using plastic straws, they carry their Swell drinking bottles with them everywhere. Little steps lead to a big progress!

Having a cool reusable product isn’t just a slogan for Frank Green and since I started carrying my SmartCup around, it has become a starter point of many conversations.

  • This cup supports local industry and is designed, engineered and made in Australia.
  • It comes in two sizes regular (230ml/8oz) or large (340ml/12oz).
  • It is made from stain and odour resistant materials – so you can keep any hot beverage – coffee, tea, miso soup, hot chocolate in it and provided you wash it well between uses, there is no residue, nor aftertaste with regular use.
  • You can wash it into dishwasher, but I prefer to do it with my own hands!

It also feels great in the hand when you carry it around and its non-slip grip is perfect for those of us who are rushed or clumsy! Its shape fits perfectly into cup holders in the car, so no adjustment is required! Another handy feature is its smart double-walled thermo plastic outer layer that helps keep hot drinks warmer for longer than your average reusable cup – it certainly towers, not just wins, compared to the steel Bodum cup! The SmartCup also has a clever push button to keep the spill-resistant lid open or closed, so if you are rushed in the morning, you won’t pore it over people or yourself on the public transport.

Another great feature of this cup is that you can choose from plenty of colour options when you order your cup. My funky personalised one has coral/orange body, green lid and a yellow push button and I revel in the sunny brightness it brings, as soon as it catches my eye. You don’t have to go all Austin Powers like I did though – there are some subdued, more classic colours to choose from !

When I first received the cup, I washed it in warm, soapy water with some Dr. Bronner lavender soap and then let it dry. Make sure not to use abrasive cleaners, in order not to damage the cup! Another good tip is to make sure you don’t overfill the cup – there is a ‘max fill’ line on the exterior of the inner cup, which is easy to see – and screw the lid on fully and securely, but without any force.

 

When I received the SmartCup that was sent to me, a couple of weeks into testing it I realised that it leaked sometimes – ‘oh no’, I said to myself and got in touch with Frank Green customer service team, explaining my predicament. I was helpfully reminded to a) make sure I don’t go beyond the ‘max’ fill line. If you notice a ‘leak’ between base and the lid, it relates to liquid filling beyond the ‘max’ line, and b) make sure I assemble the cup correctly. I was also assured that cups are tested for leaking before the dispatch and with that assurance, within a few days I received a prepaid return envelope, as well as a replacement cup in the colours I asked for.

My ‘replacement’ cup has now become an extension of my arm and no sign of any problem after three or so weeks of regular, at time daily use. The ‘original’ cup I was told is now also on good form, after the top seal had been replaced. Why am I telling you this? Well, first and foremost, I believe in honest disclosure and secondly, what’s the point of reviewing something, if I don’t share my full experience with you? We often moan about bad customer service, yet forget to praise good one, so in part, this is my ‘thank you’ to Frank Green & to Rod, who has kindly assisted me and answered the barrage of my questions – always quickly and politely, but no less importantly, very helpfully & insightfully.

While I am at it, let me address another issue that might be of interest to some of you. Plastic. I did ask about it and here is a reply that I received:’ We understand that some people have an issue with plastic, however it is the material of choice to deliver a superior reusable & highly transportable cup. Glass & ceramic smash & ours doesn’t leech the taste of plastic into coffee’. I should also add that materials used in the manufacturing of SmartCup are BPA-free.

As the cup is doubly insulated, sip your drink carefully, if it was pored quite hot, so not to burn your tongue or your mouth. When the ‘push’ button is in the closed position, hot liquid will naturally cause the steam to build up the pressure inside your cup, so either open the lid or the ‘push’ button to let the steam escape and be sure to do it away from your face – that’s the word of caution on the cup’s instructions, but I never had an issues in that department.

After you use the cup, make sure you disassemble it correctly and wash the parts properly – it is easy to do, once you read the instructions carefully (please see the image above) and it will help make sure that the Smart Cup will serve you for a long time. I will also admit to a bout of recent clumsiness & dropping my cup recently – no scratch, no damage, no spill – just a slightly raised heart rate on my part, as the memory of the eCoffee cup flashed through my mind. So practicality, drop & spill tests passed with flying colours, some, it has to be said, unintentionally, as I have no desire to drop my cup full of coffee & make it shaken, like Bond’s martini.

Last, but not least, for the tech bunnies among you – you can download the CafePay app, register your details & pair it with your FG SmartCup or smartphone. Then you can make orders with cashless payments & be rewarded for your loyalty with free coffees. However, it will take a few more months for the App to be rolled out and be more widely available.

For more information about Frank Green and its coffee & water Smart Cups, please click here

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As any modern woman knows, we seem to be sadly attached at the hip not to our loved ones, but our computers and mobile phones. While our other halves, friends and children bring joy to our lives, computers, iPads and mobile phones have not just a practical effect, but negative one as well, in the form of blue light & zapping our energy with prolonged use, as well as contributing to a sedately lifestyle, the effect of which, among other facts, won’t be known for many years. As I am one of those people whop spends a fair amount of time in front of her laptop daily, I was intrigued to test the latest launch from the British brand Amly, whose Radiance Boost Silver Rich Facial Mist has become my regular daily and travel companion since its launch last year. Now I welcome Digital Detox into my facial mist family fold.

Beneath an organic wildflower meadow in East Sussex, comes a source of naturally silver-rich water. This unique self-replenishing supply filters through layers of ancient mineral-rich rock, making it a pure source of natural trace elements and minerals, all of which help to sooth, revitalise and purify not just your complexion, but your senses as well.

When I think of the word mist, I imagine clear & refreshing rain droplets on my face, hydrating & refreshing the skin, while washing the negativity away, as you loose yourself in the precious moment of just being.

It took Amly founders Kerry Moore (a specialist in Biodynamic craniosacral therapy and homeopathy background) & Lisa Smallpiece (an artist & resident of the organic farm attached to Amly), two years to refine & research the perfect combination of ingredients that jointly offer anti-pollution & stress-combating treatment to the skin, protecting it against the damaging effect of modern urban living, office work & constant digital presence that sadly seems to be on the rise, as we all try to keep up with the pace.

But its not just the artificial light that our computers & mobile gadgets, as well as TV screens emit, its also the electromagnetic radiation. If your skin is already dry or irritated, those problems, compounded by the negative effect of daily environmental aggressors, become worse and more noticeable to you when you examine your skin in the mirror. Lisa & Kerry don’t believe in launching products just because this is expected from them as a brand – after all, they launched not with a plethora, but with just one products to start with. Creating products that help your skin look and feel better, as well as have a positive effect on your body via your senses is what truly matters. Digital Detox builds on nature’s ability to refresh and replenish, by utilising hydrating marine actives, purifying magnesium salts and energising oils that together have a powerful effect on you, as you inhale the vibrant floral scent, close your eyes and allow your features to relax into a contented smile. At times I simply continue misting my face and decollate gently humming ‘OM’, be it with my feet firmly planted on the floor under my desk or sitting on my yoga mat in the evening. It is one of those easily accessible tools that become second nature and make you feel better in your skin – be it at home, on the tube or plane, or while toiling away in the office.

When you use Digital Detox mist for the first time, shake the bottle gently but firmly, close your eyes and spray liberally, while taking deeper breaths and allowing the aromatic oils to stimulate your senses and giving your mind a temporary respite from whatever you have been focussing on. Try to focus on deciphering the scent and notice energy-cleansing Frankincense, Yarrow and Niaouli; Refreshing yet calming, this clarifying spritz blends together Juniper, Cedarwood and Ginseng which aid concentration, while Rose Quartz, Orange Blossom and Ylang Ylang are valued for their harmonising and anti-stress properties. Life is hectic, we all say this out loud, instead of greeting each other nowadays, so use this to ground, energise and calm yourself before you get on with the tasks at hand.

I spray it on my face sometimes in the morning, instead of the tonic, but most often it stays by my side, like a cacti, next to my laptop and when I feel that my mind wants to wonder to the social media or web pages away from work, I take a few moments to mist my face and centre myself, before continuing with the task that needs attention or completion. This mist is very fine and the particles seem to sink into your skin almost as soon as they land on it, which gives a lovely, calming sensation to the skin.

I also have another trick up my sleeve when it comes to using this mist – there are times when I feel angry or hyper and instead of raising my voice, I mist my face and it seems to silence the roaring giant that wants to escape from the back of my throat. While it doesn’t necessarily prevented a conflict from erupting – after all, I can’t say to a client or a person with whom I might have an unpleasant conversation – ‘wait a moment, let me ground myself before we continue this conversation’, it has stopped me in the tracks on a few occasions when kids tested my patience.  On occasion this action on my part made them stop their tantrum mid-way and focus on examining my ‘I don’t care right now, I am trying to be zen’ face.

Each batch of the product takes about eight weeks to be prepared, as it undergoes the resting phase & infusion after the wash phase, with Kerry & Lisa renewing the process every four weeks, so a new batch is ready every month. It just shows that in the ever-increasing pace of life some things require not just effort, but time to be ready, without compromise on the quality or the results you might expect from the product.

Now, last but not least, a few words on the natural actives and ingredients, that make this mist such a luxuriously indulgent pleasure of daily life.

Salicornia extract: a hardy coastal plant, known for its extraordinary ability to defend itself from dehydration. The extract is scientifically proven to strengthen skin’s lipid barrier & boost moisture levels

Marine Algae: a phytonutrient-rich plant known for its ability to protect itself from environmental aggressors, including UV light & radiation

Niaouli helps to clarify skin & mind, while possessing anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties

Natural Bioavailable Silver Salts are known as nature’s antibiotic, silver aids tissue repair & wound healing with its anti-microbial properties

Magnesium Salt & Himalayan Pink Salt both gently purify & remineralise the skin, while imparting protection against damaging electromagnetic radiation

Gotu Kola, Juniper, Cedarwood & Ginseng aid concentration

Neroli & Ylang Ylang help to bring harmony & calm

Rose Quartz has been used since ancient times to uplift the senses 7 balance the emotional state, while also offering a protective frequency to the product which has been infused with it.

Full list of Ingredients: Aqua, Glucose, Rapeseed Acid, Sodium Chloride (Himalayan Pink Salt), Magnesium Sulfate, Aloe Barbadensis (***Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, *Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Gum Oil, *Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, *Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine Absolute) Flower Oil, *Melaleuca Quinquenervia (Niaouli) Leaf/Twig Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, *Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil, *Tilia Cordata (Linden) Flower Oil, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, *Pelargonium Roseum (Rose Geranium) Leaf Oil, *Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Wood Oil, *Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Fruit Oil, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract, Quartz Powder, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, Salicornia Herbacea (Glasswort) Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beetroot) Root Extract, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Silver Citrate, Lactobacillus Ferment, Hydroxyacetophenone, Tocopherol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Citric Acid, **Limonene, **Linalool, **Geraniol, **Citral, **Citronellol, **Benzyl Benzoate, **Benzyl Alcohol, **Eugenol, **Farnesol, **Benzyl Salicylate

*Natural Pure Essential Oils **Potential Allergens ***Certified Organic Ingredients

I think that modern lifestyle depletes our bodies, minds and skin, so a product that can revitalise you, remineralise & detox, as well as hydrate the skin, calm & clarify the mind and make you feel more awake is something that deserves a place on your bathroom shelf or being your travel companion. I think you colleagues or fellow companions will agree too, when the effect of your misting your face and space around you with Amly Digital Detox reaches their nostrils. I call it Amly unity .)

For more information about Amly please click here

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A lot of things related to our diets & nutrition are becoming contested, as nutritionists & dieticians are battling in their war of words with influencers & food bloggers, the latter often with much bigger followings than people who are actually qualified to give us advice relating to our eating habits. As I have regular conversations with brand founders of supplements brands, as well as nutritionists, I choose the supplements that I use carefully, never waylaid by marketing hype. Lately protein has been a subject of a documentary on BBC & that made my trial of That Protein new launch, Nutty Nutty Peanut Butter Super Protein, particularly interesting & timely.

That Protein was founder by the lovely Irish woman Darlene McCormick. Darlene has been voted Northern Ireland’s Top Businesswoman, but before starting TP, she owned one of Ireland’s top PR firms, which she sold, in order to follow her passion for plant based nutrition. By creating her own company & brand she puts her products into the limelight, while she works tirelessly in the background, replying to my messages & customer enquiries herself. She also loves spending time in her kitchen, developing new recipes that she shares regularly on her social media pages, as well as trying the ones that her customers send her. Some of you would be interested to hear that she is vegan & so are the That Protein powders. She also makes sure that her products are dairy free, non GMO, are high in fibre & Vitamins like B1, B2 & B6 & don’t contain refined sugars or sweeteners.

Now, to proteins & the role they play in our bodies. Our bodies require different types of food, with the three building blocks being carbohydrates, proteins & fat. On top of that we need to add vitamins & minerals, which stimulate enzymes & chemical reactions in our bodies. Another important element is of course water! As a rule of thumb we need about 60% carbs, 10-15% proteins, which depend on your activity levels & 25% of fats, minerals, vitamins & fluids. Like with everything in life, we all need to achieve balance, which depends on many factors & our individual traits, bodies & DNA.

Proteins are our body’s building blocks. As well as helping to build muscles, they support repairs within our bodies, help digestion & assist our immunity system. We mostly get proteins from meat, fish, milk products, eggs, nuts and from some vegetables. Then there are the complete & incomplete, as well as high- and low-quality proteins, which refer to the amino acids they supply. Few foods are purely one element and most of our sources of protein also supply us with either carbs (vegetable proteins) or fats (animal proteins). Meat & fish eaters probably get enough of proteins, but need to be conscious of the amount of fat they consume. Equally, vegetarians need to make sure they don’t miss on the vital nutrition block and get enough amino acids essential for building protein (muscles). When we lack protein in our diet, it can lead to anaemia, tiredness and potentially weakened immune system. Interestingly enough our brain, with its main source of nutrition being glucose, would make a very bad dietician, as it doesn’t take into account whether glucose that we consume comes from protein, vegetables or fat.

The BBC1 documentary I mentioned earlier was focussed on the popularity of protein supplements and the high-protein diet favoured by athletes and body builders. The latter often consume excessive amounts of protein daily, which can lead to unpleasant side effects and potentially serious illness, if this goes on for a prolonged period of time.

As a meat eater, I do get enough protein through my diet, but there are days when things get hectic and that’s where supplements like That Protein come to play the leading role. Mix three heaped table spoons with your preferred milk or add into your smoothie and that allows you to fuel the body in the right way. As protein contributes to growth and maintenance of muscle mass, I often take it after my workout and that gives my body exactly what it needs to recover after an intensive exercise session.

This limited edition Peanut Butter Protein powder contains the following ingredients: partially defatted peanut powder & pea protein powder (81%), Chia Powder (10%) & Palmyra Nectar (9%). Palmyra Nectar,which comes from the Palmyra Tree in India, is an ingredient fairly new to me. It was chosen or this formula because of the raw nutrition it provides, according to Darlene and because it is high in B vitamins, is a low GI sweetner & has a slightly malty taste.

Now, how best to consume this ? Ultimately you need to try different combinations & see which ones gives you the biggest pleasure. According to That Protein, it is designed to be added to mylk, so I have tried it with organic diary milk, which I like, as well as Oat Milk (ok, but a bit too bland) and Rude Health’s Brown Rice drink with a hint of vanilla, which is my favourite option. Darlene recommended using 300 ml of cashew milk, three heaped table spoons of the protein powder and a little of Pip & Nut butter of your choice – for my own decadent treat, particularly when I crave something sweet, I add a generous spoon of Pip & Nut Chocolate & Hazelnut Butter to my protein cocktails. I also tend to add a small banana or a handful of blueberries, as well as The Beauty Chef Cleanse Powder or some Maca for energy and some Baobab, if I feel like a need a bit more of Vitamin C. Darlene also gave me an option of adding this powder to yogurt (it works well with natural or vanilla Coyo) and I sometimes add it to my morning granola, where grated pear compliments the overall flavour. This protein powder also works well as one of the porridge ingredients, which you add to the porridge when it is ready. Or mix it into the buckwheat pancake batter, which adds a little bit of maltiness to the flavour.

When I noticed that the Peanut Butter was partially defatted on the ingredient list, I asked Darlene about it and she replied saying that if a full-fat peanut butter was used, it would have been too ‘oily’ for the powder and also very high in fat. This process doesn’t affect nutrition & demonstrates that That Protein does look at the multiple angles when developing their protein powders, which is reassuring to me, as consumer. I also appreciate an open dialogue with the brand, allowing me to not only get answers to my questions, but actually expand my own knowledge going forward.

For more information about That Protein & its products, please click here

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While my own kids no longer fit into the baby category, they still enjoy using Childs Farm products, which we have been using since they were babies. Joanna Jensen, Childs Farm founder, has started creating beautifully fragrant & naturally nurturing products for babies & children long before organic & natural beauty became the popular buzzwords to be thrown around. As  mother, I trust Joanna, a mother of two herself, & her products to keep the young generation happy & bubbly & so I always keep an eye on brand’s new launches. Recent new additions to the product range include Biodegradable Baby Wipes & Biodegradable Wipes for toddlers & young kids, alongside the Sensitive Scalp Shampoo, all of which have been met with thumbs up from my young consumers of beauty products.

Childs Farm Sensitive Scalp Shampoo, 250ml, £4.99

Childs Farm sensitive scalp shampoo is un-fragranced and contains Salicylic Acid, which helps to gently exfoliate dry, flaky scalp skin, then soothes and calms it. Salicylic Acid, which comes from Willow Bark, is the principal ingredient in aspirin, and has been used since Roman times to relieve pain and inflammation. It works by removing loose and dead outer layers of the skin, and occasionally does give a tingling feeling to the scalp. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties.

This shampoo doesn’t smell like all the other CF shampoos, but I find that using it occasionally helps to keep my children’s scalps ‘healthy’. Recently I was having a conversation with my hair colourist & complaining about my own occasional scalp dryness, so she talked to me about some lifestyle and dietary changes, but also mentioned that using Head & Shoulders shampoo once a week will help to keep my scalp healthier, by getting rid of the ‘top’ dead skin layer & making my scalp & as a consequence hair, healthier.

Like all Childs Farm shampoos, the sensitive scalp shampoo contains coconut derived surfactants and cleaning agents, as well as moisturising Argan Oil, and of course Salicylic Acid, the he levels of which are appropriate for use on babies & children.

Remembering that piece of advice I swapped H & S for this shampoo & it actually works nicely, making this new addition to Childs Farm helpful not just for children’s scalps, but grown-ups too! In the context of kids haircare, I also want to mention an ‘old favourite’ of mine, Childs Farm Hair Detangler, which is a now not-so-secret tool in our home haircare arsenal, as it also contains tea tree oil, a known head-lice deterrer. Sadly those pesky, tiny creatures get an unwelcome mention in many schools newsletters – touch wood, my kids never had head lice & I credit Childs Farm for that!).

Baby Wipes, 64 in the pack, £2.49

Babies bums get mucky and the job of cleaning them up become more complicated when you travel & don’t have access to clean running water, when the nappy has been on for a few hours. True to form, Childs Farm has developed baby bum wipes which help clean up all sorts of messes and leave babies skin clean & moisturised.

Another welcome bonus is that the wipes contain over 99% naturally derived ingredients & are biodegradable too, so guilt free wiping is assured & the planet will breath easier. Its worth mentioning that wipes are un-scented & contain Aloe Vera, which is soothing and repairing on skin. My one small gripe (I actually carry those wipes in my bag, in order to wipe my own hands when they so require, as well as the hands of my inquisitive rascals) is that the ‘closure’ sticker comes undone when I am mid-way through the pack, which speeds up the process of drying up the wipes. Having said that, I also realise that a plastic closure/insert, isn’t going to be so kind to the Planet, so my mumbling here can be disregarded .)

Considering the competitive price, as well as the fact that those wipe are gentle & contain ingredients that are natural & have been dermatologically tested, I hope you will consider buying those wipes for your children, as opposed to Pampers & Johnson & Johnson that you purchase at the supermarket during your weekly shop.

It also has to be said that I give Childs Farm products to friends with new babies, as I think it helps to start looking after babies delicate skin with the right type of products from the beginning, particularly when statistics show that more & more babies are born with sensitive & eczema prone skin.

Everyday Wipes, packs of 20 or 64, £1.49-£2.49

Everyone gets grubby hands, faces & even feet (hello sandpit or barefoot beach walk ) that need an emergency clean up from time to time. Those wipes grab your attention with their bright orange packaging & make life easier when you are dashing around the city or are travelling. These wipes contain over 99% natural ingredients, are scented with grapefruit & contain organic tea tree oil, which enhances the zingy fresh fragrance. No less importantly, they are completely biodegradable, which is music to the ears of those of us, who believe in global warming & the negative impact that some of our lifestyle choices have on nature & the Planet we all call home.

Smaller sized-ones are perfectly suited to handbags or school bags, as well as for travel or for small accidents, when driving a car, involving food & spilled drinks. As with all the Childs Farm range, all these new products have been clinically proven to be suitable for sensitive and eczema prone skin, including newborns. CF products are paediatrician and dermatologist approved, so you can use any of them on the most delicate of skin with confidence, whether you are a new mum, a teen, a working woman or a helpful grandmother, looking after her grandchildren.

For more information about Childs Farm products, please click here

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Sometimes a brand emerges on the beauty scene that captures your heart within a short time, the bond becoming stronger with every new product launch. This doesn’t happen often to me, making Aurelia Probiotic Skincare even more special, as far as I am as consumer are concerned. Aurelia Restorative Cream Body Cleanser & Firm & Replenish Body Serum were launched in late spring and having tested both of them since early May, to say that I am smitten would be pretty accurate. One of the main reasons being that both products treat not just the body, but mind too. As a busy woman I appreciate it more & more.

Our faces are our calling cards, so we lavish out attention on them, often neglecting our bodies, which isn’t smart in the long run. When it comes to the products that I use in the shower, I prefer natural formulas, scents that make me dream, rather than choke and no less importantly, make my skin feel nurtured, rather than carelessly attended to on the run. When creating the formula for the Restorative Cream Body Cleanser Claire Vero, Aurelia’s founder, mother of one, with another baba on the way, ‘wanted to create beautiful skincare that surpassed the biggest expectations of modern women’. Combining the science with ethical, sustainably sourced BioOrganic ingredients, she managed to create product that caresses your skin, while making you feel feminine and confident in your inner power. Don’t be surprised, if your Aurelia skincare helps you make male hearts beat just a little bit faster, as well as garner compliments from other women. And remember that a confident woman is easy to spot, as she makes others feel good about themselves, because she is innately confident in her own abilities, strengths and even weaknesses.

Aurelia Restorative Cream Body Cleanser, 250ml, £32

The cleanser has natural coconut creamy base and lathers, not surprisingly, very well, covering the body in tiny cleansing bubbles that respect your skin’s natural Ph balance. I emerge from the shower (aim to use cool, rather than hot water, as the latter tends to dry up your skin) with my skin feeling clean and hydrated. There are often times that it feels so soft & silky to the touch, that I don’t apply anything to it, just leaving it slightly damp & letting the scent linger, making me feel like I am floating in my own feminine cocoon. When I use it in the evening I let the water wash away the worries and stresses of the day, while the cleanser helps get rid of the pollution & negative vibes that get accumulated by all of us living in busy, congested cities.

The cleanser is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and has been dermatologically tested. In terms of key ingredients you have restorative botanicals, namely Baobab, Kigali Africana, Hibiscus (rich in Vitamin E) which enhance cleanser’s antioxidant & nurturing effect on your skin. Aloe Vera soothes & heals skin’s top layer and essential oils, expertly layered and steam-distilled, create a fragrant veil over your skin, while delivering therapeutic benefits via your sense of smell. Geranium, combined with Clementine Oil, offer delicate floral notes that lighten the mood and your step. There is also uplifting Mandarin for elevating stress and tension accumulated in the body, while Rosemary is added for focussing your mind on things that matter. Stepping out of the shower, after using this cleanser, makes you feel light, energised & confident in who YOU are.

Ingredients list: Aqua/Water/Eau, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice (Aloe vera), Sodium cocoyl isethionate (coconut based), Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil, Stearic acid (vegetable based), Glycerin (vegetable glycerine), Hibiscus sabdariffa flower extract, Kigelia africana fruit extract, Adansonia digitata fruit extract (Baobab), Citrus clementina peel oil (Clementine), Citrus nobilis (Mandarin orange) peel oil, Pelargonium graveolens flower oil (Geranium), Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary) leaf oil, Cymbopogon citratus leaf oil (Lemongrass), Cymbopogon flexuosus oil (Malabar grass), Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) oil, Cananga odorata flower oil (Ylang ylang), Decyl glucoside (sugar based), Glyceryl caprylate/caprate (vegetable derived), Sodium cocoyl glutamate (coconut based), Xanthan gum (natural), Lactic acid (natural), Potassium sorbate, Hydroxypropyl guar hydroxypropyltrimonium chloride (vegetable based), Salicylic acid (vegetable based), Citric acid (derived from lemon), Allantoin (vegetable based), Sodium phytate (derived from rice), Sorbic acid (natural preservative), Benzyl alcohol, Dehydroacetic acid (natural association approved preservative), Limonene*, Geraniol*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Citral*, Benzyl benzoate*, Benzyl salicylate* (*naturally occurring in essential oils).

Aurelia Firm & Replenish Body Serum, 250ml, £48

While there are plenty of days when I feel that using the body cleanser is exactly what my skin needs in the morning, there are days, especially when it is hot or cold, when this serum becomes a perfect ‘side-kick’ and gives the skin that extra layer of ‘umps’ – a ‘hero’ product for your legs it definitely is! What stands out is not just this serum’s scent, which while a little different from the body cleanser, compliments it perfectly, like two perfect apple halves, it is how quickly the skin absorbs it. I want my skincare to be particularly efficient at times when I have little time for self-nurture and this serum moisturises, fragrances and within a couple of minutes you are good to dress and walk, run or skip .)

The serum feels light-weight, but it does moisturise the skin better than many of the body creams or serums that I have tried in the past. It also delivers antioxidants & omegas, as well as exquisite fragrance, which is summery & easy on the senses (a combination of Mandarin, Angelica, Bergamot & Cedarwood provide an uplifting cocoon for your skin to be in), making it practical & effective, something that isn’t easily found when it comes to body care in the home environment.

Tips from Aurelia’s team on how to make the most of this body serum

Post Workout: perfect for cooling & nourishing tired limbs

After Sun Hydrator: apply with a light touch to sooth & repair

Layering: apply before Aurelia’s Firm & Revitalise Dry Body Oil for deeper hydration & adding glow to the skin

Mummies-To-Be: perfect for growing tummies. Helps to keep skin soft, supple & nourished

Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive

Adding Shea and Cocoa butters to the formula (not that you would guess, judging by the lightweightness of the serum) helps to soften the skin, as well as smooth it and I noticed an improvement in my skin’s texture after only a couple of weeks of regular use – by regular I mean every other day. There are also added benefits of the Argan oil that helps to hydrate the skin, making it a really effective product for the ‘ravished’ skin – be it in cold or hot months of the year. It works particularly well on your legs, when you don’t have a natural suntan, but wave goodbye to wearing tights.

Most of us don’t drink enough water daily and over time one starts to notice the difference in the skin, particular in the areas that tend to be drier, like elbows and knees. This serum is also non-greasy & doesn’t leave behind any extra residue – just well-moisturised, more even & visually plumper skin, which is smoother and softer to the touch and is a simple joy to be in.

In addition to visually noticeable benefits, there are also sensory ones. Uplifting Mandarin is blended with Angelica Root to calm, while Lemongrass invigorates and Chamomile helps to relax, with notes of sweet Bergamot & grounding Cedarwood completing the blend. What makes Aurelia particularly special is that due to the unique scent of each product for the face or body, men really notice the scent and end up complimenting women who use the products – while this might sound superficial to some of you, I draw pleasure in using products that help me feel good about myself, while making my skin look good. Additional compliments are a welcome bonus.

List of ingredients: Aqua/Water/Eau, Coco-caprylate (coconut derived), Glyceryl caprylate/caprate (vegetable derived), Cetearyl alcohol (vegetable derived), Prunus amygdalus dulcis (Sweet almond) oil, Glyceryl stearate (naturally derived), Arachidyl alcohol (vegetable derived), Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) butter, Cetearyl glucoside (derived from corn sugar), Argania spinosa kernel (Argan) oil, Angelica archangelica root oil, Anthemis nobilis (Chamomile) flower oil, Boswellia carterii (Olibanum) oil, Cananga odorata (Ylang ylang) flower oil, Citrus aurantium bergamia (Bergamot) fruit oil, Citrus grandis (Grapefruit) peel oil, Citrus nobilis (Mandarin orange) peel oil, Cymbopogon citratus (Lemongrass) oil, Juniperus virginiana wood oil (Cedarwood), Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) herb oil, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Salicylic acid (vegetable based), Hibiscus sabdariffa flower extract, Kigelia africana fruit extract, Sodium phytate (rice based), Adansonia digitata (Baobab) fruit extract, Glycerin (vegetable derived), Sorbic acid (natural preservative), Citric acid (derived from lemons), Dehydroacetic acid (natural association approved preservative), Behenyl alcohol (naturally derived), Glyceryl caprylate (coconut derived), Hydroxyacetophenone (preservative booster), Benzyl alcohol, Arachidyl glucoside (vegetable derived), Dehydroxanthan gum (naturally derived), Sodium hydroxide, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citral*, Geraniol*, Benzyl benzoate*, Benzyl salicylate*, Farnesol*, Eugenol, Isoeugenol* (*naturally occurring in essential oils)

For more information about Aurelia Probiotic Skincare please click here

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Like many of you earlier this week, I sat in silence, with tears streaming down my face, watching in disbelief the inferno that engulfed residential Grenfell Tower in North Kensington late at night, when most people were fast asleep in the seeming safety of their beds. 24 floors, 120 flats, over 600 residents – men, women, children. A disaster of this magnitude touched many people, as some rushed to help, others, like incredibly brave firefighting teams, were already at the scene, alongside policemen & emergency services, fighting fires and trying to save those people who were trapped inside. When life is good, we all take it for granted, when human tragedies like that happen we unite over the innate need to do something, to help, to hug people, to wipe the tears and give survivors hope that they aren’t alone. We can’t make horrible memories disappear or bring back to life those people who lost their lives, but we all can do something to help elevate the pain, fear, anger and despair. Many people, famous or not are coming together with the initiatives to fundraise the funds for those in desperate need in a middle of the city we all call home.

As some of you might know, I write a lot on the subject of beauty. As part of my work I receive products from brands for testing, but I also buy many beauty products myself, accumulating too many products over time. Some are given as gifts, some I start using, but quickly realise that while they are lovely, they might not work for my skin. Lately I was looking at a large bag of beauty products and contemplating what to do with them – do I gift them? Do I donate them to a shelter? What’s the best way to share them, without taking advantage of brand’s generosity or making any undue profit for myself?  After watching the news & thinking about life & loss, as I held my own kids hands tightly after the school run, I just knew that I want to do something with this beauty stash to help those people who suffered unimaginable loss – of family members & loved ones, of their homes, that were supposed to be their safe harbour and of the things that they held dear, like photos, favourite toys or simple things that we all use daily, yet take for granted but without which we feel a bit lost – toasters or kettles, a favourite armchair, a dress that makes us feel like a million dollars, a pebble from the beach, picked up during the holiday, a baby tooth or lock of hair, a favourite book…..

So here is my idea that I put forward for your consideration: below is the list of products that I have. All full-sized, most brand new, some gently (partially) used, but hygienic & not contaminated – each will have details next to its name, as well as the size. Here is what I want to do. If you want any of the products below, or several of them, please make a donation of at least £10 pounds for each product that you want directly to the JustGiving Fund for the residents of the Grenfell Tower – I attach the links to JustGiving Fundraising pages at the end of this post. In turn, I will send you the product or products, each valued at more than £10 pounds to your home address, if you are a UK, Scottish or Irish resident (lets discuss postage, if you want to order something to be sent to Europe, America, Canada, Asia or North Pole – I will be happy to find a solution that will be satisfactory to you), covering postage & packing myself. If I know you, please just let me know the amount of your donation, so I can keep a tally and will know how much our joint effort will raise for those people who desperately need it. If I don’t know you personally, please DM or e-mail me confirmation of your donation, as well as the address to which you want me to post the products and I will do it as soon as I can. Many people consider beauty superficial & I want to change that perception by raising funds for those people who really need them right now. At a time of loss, like many people, I want Grenfell Tower residents to know that they aren’t alone in this world & that they will be able to rebuild their lives in time.

Beauty Products List

Tropic Skincare Good Skin Day Serum, 30 mms, external packaging opened, internal untouched

Tropic Smoothing Cleanser, 120 ml, brand new

Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Basic Set, includes Facial Cleanser 30 ml, Argan Oil 30 ml, Facial Lotion 30 ml. Brand new

Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, 118 ml, new

Ren V-Cense Youth Vitality Day Cream, 50 ml, brand new

Nourish Argan Anti-Ageing Peptide Serum, 30 ml, brand new

Nourish Skin Renew Cleanser, 100 ml, brand new

Nourish Kale 3D Cleanse, 100 ml, brand new

Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C BB Cream SPF 20, shade: fair, 50 ml, used one one occasion only

Therapi Honey Skincare Rose Otto Propolis + Ultra radiance Cream, 50 ml, brand new

 

Bodhi & Birch Neroli Luce Revitalising Face Oil, 15 ml, brand new

Bodhi & Birch Body Oils Mini Collection (3 x 15 ml), brand new box set

Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant, 100 ml, brand new

Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream, 1,7oz, gently used

Balance Me Radiance Face Oil, brand new

Dr. Scheller Argan Oil & Amaranth Anti-Wrinkle Intensive serum, 30 ml, brand new

Skin Oil Beauty Drops, lavender, 30 ml, brand new

Skin Oil Beauty Drops, geranium, 30 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Melvita Natural Lift Youthful Skin Cream, 50ml, new

Mallow & White Sooth Face Mask, 30g, brand new

Antonia Burrell Radiant Light facial Oil Serum, 15ml, brand new

St. Ives Apricot Face Scrub, 30 ml, brand new

Max & Me Circle of Protection Body Oil, 10ml, brand new

de Mamiel Atmospherique Pure Calm Cleansing Dew, 100 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Flow Kosmetikka Cloudberry Anti-Age Facial Serum, 20 ml, brand new

Philip Kingsley Elasticiser, 40 ml, brand new

Mun Akwi Purifying Cleanser, 100ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full

Nubo Bio-Regenerating Concentrate, 30 ml, brand new

Weleda Skin Food, 75 ml, brand new

Perricone MD Chia Serum, 30 ml, brand new

Lilfox Cleopatra Restorative Milk & Honey Beauty Mask, 1 oz, very gently used, more than 2/3 full

Laurel Facial Serum Sun Damage Repair, 30 ml, brand new

Once the product has been chosen by someone via their donation, I will put the line on it, so you know that it’s gone. Products will be send on the first come, first served basis.

Books:

Emma Cannon’s Total Fertility, lovingly used but in good condition

Goop Clean Beauty by the editors of Goop, gently used

Glop Goop Parody by Gabrielle Moss, gently used

Let’s get together & raise some money for those that really need the funds to start rebuilding their lives, while getting used to live with the loss or horrors that they endured. Beauty can be meaningless, if it doesn’t have a soul & I truly believe that together we are stronger in facing the future, even when it is uncertain. People who lived in that tower weren’t well-off and right now might feel that their lives didn’t matter to those whose actions, in some way, led to the unimaginable tragedy that happened in the middle of a summer night in London. There is a lot of anger, understandably & I sincerely hope that our joint effort will help in a small way to change things for the better, compared to what they are now.

As an additional incentive for you to donate, I promise that I will enclose some samples for you, alongside the product or book you want, while my stock of the samples lasts. I hope this initiative resonates with you & by our joint fundraising effort we hopefully will help give the residents of the Grenfell Tower to get the things that they need now or in the future, which they will be able to choose by having financial means to do so. I hope that my initiative will show the strength of our emotion & the feeling of love and affection that we are united by, no matter our sex, age, race or religion. Tragedies happen to good people and together we help each other survive the unimaginable horrors and sorrow that otherwise would break hearts completely. This tragedy tore at the fabric of London, like several terrorirism acts in the last few weeks – something that sadly more and more people around the world can relate to. Lets come together and shelter those who suffered from even bigger storms. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this and for hopefully donating to the cause that we can all relate to, while luckily hugging those that we dearly love together & saving our blessings.

Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund for Grenfell Tower Residents

The Kensington & Chelsea Foundation

Link to Just Giving sites raising funds for the residents of the Grenfell Tower Block

If you have any questions in regards to the products, please DM me via Instagram (galinaap) or Twitter (@galinaachkasova) or e-mail me on galina@galinka.co.uk

Note: this is my personal initiative. The minimum donation for any full-sized product is £10 & all the funds that you donate should go to the fund of your choice that benefits Grenfell Tower Residents. I won’t accept any donations or money for this personally.

Thank you for your generosity, Galina x

P.S. On a separate note, I have asked my children to go through their toys & books & choose the things that they want to donate to a charity local to Grenfell Tower for the children who have survived the horrendous fire, but were left with nothing. Once my kids go on their summer holiday, we will go to North Kensington together so they can see the devastation with their own eyes & not on a TV screen.

I also want to put out a separate appeal to a charity that is local to Grenfell Tower. We have a beautiful wooden Boori bed with a bottom drawer that my kids outgrew. We will disassemble it & would donate it for a child or children from the Grenfell Tower, if someone can come to collect it in a van, as it is made from solid wood. The bed comes with a mattress, protective cover, as well as two bed sheets, three pillows & quilt that you can see in the image. Please contact me via social media or e-mail, if you are interested & able to collect it ( I would want to see ID or credentials, in order to make sure that this bed goes & gets to a child from Grenfell Tower who needs it).

Posted in Beauty & well-being, Women's issues | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some brands are very well-known in their own right, thanks to their founders, but it is the people that often work behind the scenes who help enhance your perception of the brand with their knowledge & experience. This certainly runs true when it comes to a Dr. Sebagh signature facial performed by facialist Tine Hagelquist, who has worked for the brand for many years.

As spring started weaving its magic wand around nature, my own pale complexion emerged into the spring sunshine, looking for its own rejuvenation & re-awakening. Instead of a kiss from a handsome prince, it received Tine’s magic touch, enhanced by Dr. Sebagh’s skincare.

When I arrived to have a facial, I though I was entering a secret dungeon, as I took the steps into the basement of Dr.Sebagh’s clinic, located in Wimpole street. While I haven’t met the handsome French doctor in person during my visit, I do know on good authority that he is adored by many beauty editors, supermodels like Cindy Crawford & Elle Macpherson (who travels with Dr. Sebagh’s Rose de Vie Serum & Supreme Day Cream) & many of his loyal clients of various ages simply because he tells them things as they are, never suggesting a treatment that his clients actually don’t need.

I was met at the door by the beaming Tine, who led me into the natural light streaming through the windows of the serene & artfully designed treatment room that was done by Dr. Sebagh himself – clearly a man of not a singular, but many talents! There is a little bathroom & a shower room, where you can re-apply your make-up after the treatment, if you so wish, a little kitchen, a sitting area, that combines comfort with an artistic touch & the actual sanctuary for the facial, a massage table covered in inviting red & white sheets, matching the packaging of Dr. Sebagh’s skincare. The whole place feels more like a peaceful artistic cocoon that nurtures creativity, as well as your complexion, rather than a skincare clinic or treatment room.

As Tine knows me & my skin quite well, she brought me some water to drink, while we quickly caught up on our busy lives & I dived under the comfortably warm covers, having taken my jewellery off & leaving the day’s stresses at the door. Tine is a wonderfully vibrant person, but she also has calming & grounding vibes around her, that within minutes she imparts on you. As the grey light streamed through the windows & bird song caressed my ears, Tine put a cotton band around my hair, making sure nothing got in the way of her pampering my face, told me to take a few deep breaths & her nimble fingers got to work.

The 60 minute facial starts with a double cleanse, using Dr. Sebagh Foaming Cleanser, which makes sure your skin is properly cleansed, before deeper work starts on it. As make-up & pollutants were cleared from face & neckline, Tine followed it up with citrusy-smelling Deep Exfoliating Mask, which was developed to boost skin’s natural glow, as well as to smooth & refine its texture (there are two versions of this mask, one for normal skin, with 17% Lactic Acid & one suitable for sensitive skin with 7% lactic Acid, so do check, if considering its purchase10. If you use it at home, you can do so once or twice a week, depending on your skin type. The mask is applied to clean & dry skin and is left to work for up to five minutes, before being removed with a face mitt, which has been emerged into warm water. Tine also applied the mask to my hands, which often give away our true age quicker than our faces, after which we tend to look much more diligently, all the while doing gentle pressure point massage on my face –  around the eye, brows and sides of my face and with a little more vigour around my nose area.

In my case Tine customised mask application by applying Perfecting Mask to my T-zone & Rose de Vie Hydrating Mask to the cheek area (it hydrates, soothes & regenerates your skin after each application. The mask was formulated by Dr. Sebagh in order to purify the top layer of the skin, helping skin look & feel more radiant when used as part of your skincare routine). That’s one of the things which makes Tine’s approach to each facial she gives quite unique – she examines your skin & chooses products accordingly, creating a personal experience just for you each time, within a Dr. Sebagh facial protocol. While I am not a huge fan of rose-scented skin or body care products, I enjoyed this mask as part of my facial experience, in part because it’s scent is subtle, not overwhelming & secondly because it has light, gel-like texture that also imparts a cooling sensation on your skin as soon as it is applied, making it particularly effective on those days when you feel hot & bothered.

After removing the masks from the face & hands, Tine applied High Maintenance Hand Cream – something I forget to do regularly, even though I have various hand creams dotted strategically by the sink & bedside table at home – one of the benefits of having a regular facial & having other body parts pampered, as part of your treatment.

One of the best parts of this facial for me was the lymphatic massage done on the face & neck with Rose de Vie serum (it’s a lightweight oil-like texture sinks into your skin within seconds, but still allows the facialist to effectively massage your face), that is really akin to a workout for your face, but done by someone for you, as you lie down & enjoy a rare moment of tranquility in the middle of a busy city. While many of us do skin brushing at home on our bodies, thus promoting lymphatic drainage that helps our bodies get rid of toxins & stagnant energy, our faces don’t get the same treatment.  Tine recommends doing it daily – you don’t have to be a facialist to master the technique – just ask the facialist to teach you & do it every morning or night, as part of your skincare routine & you are sure to notice a difference in your complexion within weeks, if not days!

Tine also does a strong, but not at all unpleasant pressure point massage, which helps to release the tension from the jawline, sinus & eyebrow area – this feels like a happy tsunami on your face, something that I haven’t experienced before. As your face feels like it is a grip of the stormy sea, you physically feel tension leave your face, giving way to relaxed, more radiant complexion & uplifted mood. Bliss isn’t the word for it & I can’t recommend it highly enough – I almost wish Tine did this on my face daily, as it feels THAT good!

If that wasn’t enough, you facial massage also extends to your neck & shoulders, as well as the upper spine, as Tine’s strong & experienced fingers reach those points where tension finds its permanent residence (those who work on their laptops at their desks will know exactly what I am talking about), so knots come undone & tension literarily floods out of your body, as you breathing calms down. Your skin is cocooned in a thick layer of the brightening & firming mask, which combined with vigorous massage technique wakes up your skin, as your circulation is boosted – I so wish Dr Sebagh develops the same technique for a body treatment one day, as let’s be honest, our faces might be our calling cards, but our bodies are the machines that move us all forward into the future.

As I struggled not to succumb to a happy  slumber (after all, I had to remember the finer points of the treatment in order to share it with you, my dear reader), Tine removed the mask with warm mittens & applied Serum Repair, a moisturising collagen booster with hyaluronic acid that you can apply on its own or under your usual moisturiser, mixing some Vitamin C Powder Cream ( which brightens the skin & supports the process of collagen production by your skin ) & adding a few drops of Supreme Maintenance Serum (a firming serum containing resveratrol). If that wasn’t luxuriously pampering enough, Tine added some High Maintenance Cream (if that doesn’t make you feel like Cleopatra, I don’t know what will). My neck also got some love with the application of the Supreme Neck Lift ( I don’t know if that was age-proofing strategy or Tine gently reminding me that I am no longer a teenager :)))). Another point worthy of note – during the facial Tine also used some feathery strokes, which I thought were her fingers, yet, in fact they were two cotton wool pads soaked with water that caressed the contours of my face like the lightest, silkiest brush that a curator might use to clean a rare book – a very sensual & relaxing sensation that puts a contented smile on my face, as I type away & try to give you a description of what it felt like.

Tine let the products sink in and then applied Anti-Pollution Anti-Oxidant SPF30 all over my face, neck & even my ears, told me to stretch my arms & legs away from my body, taking some deep breaths. This little ritual helped me float gently back to reality & gather my thoughts. Within a few minutes I felt fully awake & ready to surge ahead with my day. When I was ready to sit up, Tine showed me my face in the mirror – a relaxed, dewy, glowing complexion with no sign of dehydration (do you, unlike me drink enough water daily, thus keeping all of your cells plumped up & hydrating, working at full, not sleepy capacity?) or late nights? She also reminded me that one shouldn’t focus on one’s age, but instead try to live each day with a positive attitude, no matter what life brings along – it times of current uncertainty & certain dangers those words seem particularly poignant & relevant.

After seeing Tine you can expect to emerge with lots of helpful tips on not just skincare, but wellbeing & nutrition as well. You can also fall asleep with a tired complexion & wake up towards the end of a treatment with a naturally glowing & revitalised face & mind. But that’s not all – when you book in for this signature facial, you will also walk away with a Dr Sebagh product kit, allowing you to have a personalised & scientifically designed skincare routine in the privacy of your home. Each product has been developed by Dr. Sebagh & his team with modern women & their skincare needs in mind & made in France, so you can be sure of the quality of the products. What I also appreciate as consumer is simple names of products, each box telling you the aim of this product, with no bogus claims or misleading labels.

For me having a facial is part of the rare, but essential ‘me-time’, so it has to be be so much more than just fluffing about or cleansing or mask application – I can do it myself, in the privacy off my own bathroom. When I have a facial I look for not just some tranquility & pampering, but for elements that enhance the experience, massage being a big part of that. Tine’s massage technique re-awakens the muscles & helps reveal the dormant strength and beauty of your facial muscle structure. Tine rolls & taps her fingers all over your face, neck & decollate, with Dr. Sebagh skincare creating a perfect canvass & allowing the facilist’s fingers to glide effortlessly with no pinching or dragging of your skin. When you have a facial, you don’t want the faciliast to slap the mask on your face & just walk out, while you twiddle your fingers & beat yourself up mentally for parting with money & having no fun while you are at it. This facial allows you to engage with your facialist, relax & learn, while your skin is nurtured & facial muscles are exercises vigorously.

Tine is a naturally positive person, so you can count to emerge from her Dr. Sebagh treatment room in a relaxed & happy mood and with a pampered, glowing complexion, which will look even better several hours after the treatment – I actually continued without a trace of make-up for the rest of the day – bar a few strategic gentle pitches on my cheeks to bring some more colour into my cheeks. A very special signature Dr Sebagh facial performed by knowledgable caring hands – and I can’t recommend the face tsunami strong enough! I felt like a super surfer on the crest of a wave facing the sun glinting on the water surface. One hour of pure, pampering bliss!

As I got ready to leave, Tine reminded me to start each day with a cat-like stretch before getting up from my bed & saying a mantra ‘it will be a happy day’. She also shared a juice recipe that she starts her day with: juice ginger & pineapple, add a pinch of black pepper & turmeric, drink it up & then go & brush your teeth & get on with your day, helping your body & mind start the day on the right note. Suffice to say I left an even more adoring fan of Tine’s than I was when I arrived on Dr. Sebagh’s clinic steps.

Dr Sebagh Signature Facial with Tine Hagelquist lasts 1 hour & costs £120 (the price currently includes a skincare gift set worth £90) & is located at 25 Wimpole street, London, W1G

For more information about Dr. Sebagh, his products & treatments, including this Signature facial please click here

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One of the reasons why I started my website many moons ago was an opportunity to interview incredibly talented people many of who, for a variety of reasons, don’t get to be in a spotlight, yet have an amazing affinity with us, impacting lives in the most wonderful ways. Founders of the Boxwalla, a husband & wife team who prefer their work & creativity to speak for themselves, shunning spotlight, fit this category perfectly.

Earlier this year I reviewed one of Boxwalla‘s book boxes & since then I was like a dog with a bone, intent on spotlighting Lavanya & her husband & telling you in more detail about the creative process behind each of their subscription boxes (dispatched every two months) & dedicated to beauty, book & film lovers around the world & food lovers in the US. And it’s not just what’s inside each subscriber’s box that matters, it’s the thought that went into choosing the box that houses the ‘treasures’. Each artisan box is fashioned from handmade paper, making it not just beautiful & practical, but sustainable too. The paper is made from cotton scraps from local garment industries & the actual process of making each box is time-intensive & traditional. Your recyclable & reusable box is made by local villagers, giving them a steady income in order to support their families & not just scrape a meagre living. That’s one of many reasons why I really treasure my Boxwalla as much as I do its contents & to me that’s just one aspect that makes this subscription service stand out head above the rest.

Lavanya & her husband love beauty in all forms & are intent on supporting small shops & artisans, paying attention to the tiniest details that matter to those of us, who aren’t after instant gratification. If like me, you prefer slowness  – be it when it comes to savouring a book, a glass of wine, a vial of a beauty product or a movie, then Boxwalla would fit perfectly into your lifestyle. Boxwallas, as Lavanya & her husband call themselves, come up with themes & weave a story for you about things to love, buy, keep or share, encouraging deeper connections in our flaky & fast-paced world. They offer you transformative & fun discoveries, as well as changes of existing perceptions into your life. Below are the Q & As with Lavanya – the actual process took a while, but I am happy to say that the answers turned out to be even more intriguing than I expected them to be.

What’s your professional background and what inspired you to start Boxwalla?

Lavanya: My academic background is in the Sciences. I have a PhD in an interdisciplinary psychology/neuroscience-related field, which involves applying principles from physics and engineering to Human Neuroscience.

My husband (aka business partner) and I wanted to create a platform that would allow us to showcase the artists and artisans, whose work we loved. But in a way that would allow people to easily experience their work while understanding the context that inspired their creation. And so we launched Boxwalla, as a bimonthly subscription box, showcasing four categories : Green/Clean Beauty, Artisanal Food, Literature and Art Cinema

We believe that in order to enjoy something more fully, it is important to understand its context : why that thing was made, what need it fulfills, what inspired the artist/artisans? And I think this applies not only to something like a beautiful painting or film but also to things we read like books, and the things we use, like perfume and skincare,

We are inspired by small, independent businesses where the passion and knowledge of the owner is so evident in everything they create or curate. Like independent bookstores, where you can chat with the bookshop owner about life, books and their own reading preferences, independent music stores with an owner so deeply knowledgable about a very niche category of music. There is something very special about connecting directly with people who create or curate the products one enjoys. I think these connections make the experience of the product even more enjoyable. And we are inspired, not only to showcase businesses that provide this kind of excellent service, but also to form these personal connections ourselves, with our own subscribers and customers.

We are inspired by excellence in every field and most of the time, we find this excellence, in work produced by independent, artisanal businesses and so we felt and still feel compelled & inspired to share their work with the world.

Here is a more detailed post on what inspired us to create Boxwalla, that I wrote a while ago : https://www.theboxwalla.com/blog/1822/why-does-boxwalla-exist

What does Boxwalla mean and why did you choose it to call your business?

Lavanya: Boxwalla literally means ‘Box-person’ or ‘Box-seller’ in Hindi (which is one of many Indian languages). It also refers to the traveling merchants who carried their wares in large boxes. ‘Walla Walla’ is the Native American term for ‘place of many waters’. So we think of ourselves as traveling merchants. getting drunk on things of many waters, and then sharing those things with our subscribers.

What were your favourite childhood books?

Lavanya: Some of my favorite childhood books, from different stages of my childhood, included many many things by Enid Blyton, The Anne series and Emily of New Moon by Lucy Montgomery, Little Men by Louisa M. Alcott, Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster, The Madman by Kahlil Gibran, I loved some poems by Tennyson and Alexander Pope. Pride and Prejudice (but of course ), Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Moon and Sixpence by Somerset Maugham, Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being. There was also this book about festivals from around the world that I loved reading as a child : I loved learning about the ritual of floating candles during Loy Krathong in Thailand and about the little red purses during Chinese New Year. This time when I visited my parents in India, I found that my parents still had this book. I was grateful that they hadn’t given it away as I want to save it to read to my own children (now 4 and 2.5).

How do you choose the books for the bi-monthly box?

Lavanya: With the book box we wanted to showcase the greatest writers from all over the world who are not as well known as they should be. Writers whom we think will win the Nobel Prize for Literature in the next decade or so. So we scour the literary landscape, so to speak, for books that we think are, or will become, classics. Since we showcase writers writing in different languages, one of our aims is to ensure that we pick books that are not only great in their original language, but also great English translations. And so, when available, we also read multiple translations of the books we are looking to showcase.

Who are your favorite writers and what are the three best books that you read last year?

Lavanya: Among my favorite writers are George Eliot and Orhan Pamuk. I also enjoy the whimsical writing of Spanish writer Enrique Vila-Matas. But there are too many great writers that I’ll be sorry to have left off. I can’t reveal some of the best books I’ve read, as some of them might find their way into future book boxes. But three that I loved and that were featured last year include: Japanese writer Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel,Norwegian novelist Jon Fosse’ Morning and Evening and British writer Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women. Oh and Anne Carson. Anne Carson is just amazing. Anything by her is worth picking up.

Since the Boxwalla Book Box is a reflection of both my husband and my taste in books (and we have slightly differing tastes), I feel compelled to share his favorites as well. His favorite writer is Ernest Hemingway. He also loves the work of Dostyevesky, Flaubert & J.M Coetze.

What’s your take on electronic vs paper books? Does the book have to have substance to be enjoyed, or do romantic novels, like Mills & Boon or modern celebrity memoirs also bring something important to the experience of reader?

Lavanya: I think both electronic and paper books have their place. To me, I enjoy the sensory experience of holding a book, flipping textured pages, running my fingers through them and generally the whole experience of reading paper books. However, one can’t discount the value of electronic books and how portable they can make a library and their sustainability. I haven’t been able to get into an electronic reader (although I know many book lovers who have), but I do read stuff on the kindle app on my phone from time to time.

Anything can be enjoyed and one can’t really dictate what can or cannot be enjoyed by a reader. Since I don’t read Mills and Boons or celebrity memoirs because they don’t interest me particularly, I can’t comment on those specific choices. But a book that affords you enjoyment can come in all shapes and sizes, figuratively speaking. I do think one should read many different kinds of things, within one’s comfort zone but also stepping out of it – you never know what you might end up enjoying (My Dostyevesky loving husband is probably also the most up-to-date on every piece of celebrity gossip you might want to know).

Sometimes after a long hard day, you can’t always read high brow literature so it is tempting to read something light. And that’s ok..Light reading can also be high quality. Writers like Barbara Pym and Josephine Tey come to mind with their dry humor and incisive wit and commentary on the society they live in. However, I do find, that most people, including me, think that they don’t have the capacity to read great literature after a long hard day. That they won’t have the mental energy to keep up. But what I’ve found is that the more you trust your capacity to read and give yourself the time and space to read, the easier it is to read a lot. And after some time your brain just gets tuned to the kind of literature you feed it and you start to get lesser and lesser enjoyment from anything that is of an inferior quality.

What determines your personal book reading choices and do book covers matter to you?

Lavanya: As a reader, for me, the depth of enjoyment comes from the substance of a novel, or the distinctive style of a writer or his narrator, how immersive the experience ends up being, how much I never want the book to end, and I guess most importantly, how much I am moved by the book in terms of some intangible truth that it embodies.

Book covers do draw me in to pick up a book that I might chance upon. A great book cover can covey the excitement and the uniqueness of the contents of a book. But beyond that, once I actually start a book, I am not sure how much the cover matters. I do like looking at nice book covers though and sometimes when the book and the book cover match in quality they become entwined in the happy memories of reading that book. I’m also sentimental about book covers in that I if I loved a book, I like to own the same edition (with the same book cover) that I first read – since the book cover reminds me of the experience of first falling in love with the book.

Are you a member of a book group and if yes or no, why?

Lavanya: No, I am not..Not until Boxwalla which is sort of like a book club/book group.

Running a business is a 24/7 thing, how do you find the time to read? Is there a secret?

Lavanya: I admit, it has been difficult reading while running a business 24/7, especially since I do everything (with help from my husband) from curating, sourcing, updating the website, writing copy, social media management and even packing and shipping packages. But I think the secret is to just prioritize reading. I always carry a book in my handbag, so if I’m waiting somewhere I have something to read. I try to read after the kids go to bed, especially if they end up going to sleep early (which doesn’t happen as often as I’d like). Also, resisting the temptation to surf on instagram/facebook or watch things on Netflix/hulu and instead reading, also really works, though THAT is easier said than done. 🙂 Although I try. However, there never does seem enough time to read everything that I want to.

What are the books that changed your life?

Lavanya: I am not sure exactly how to answer that question, because one doesn’t really know what changes one’s life until much later in life, when one gets a better vantage point. But there are books that sort of served as turning points for me both as a reader and as a writer at different parts of my life, that sort of marked the different stages of my reading/writing life (so far). Those books were : Anne of Green Gables when I was 11, Wuthering Heights when I was 15, Unbearable Lightness of Being when I was 16, Of Human Bondage when I was 17, and then as an adult : J.M Coetze’s Disgrace, George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Orhan Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence and all the bits of Proust that I have read. And then more recently Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red. These were not all necessarily my favorites (although many of them also are), but these were the ‘important’ books that expanded my notion of what a novel can be and what great writing can do.

With each Boxwalla box you can expect to receive a sensory, creative, intellectual experience that will delight & enchant you. While Lavanya & her husband prefer to keep a veil of privacy over their faces, their work, natural curiosity & dedication to supporting creative forces speak for themselves, drawing your senses, head & heart towards them. My life has certainly been enhanced by Boxwalla & the time for dialogue that Lavanya generously allocated to me. A veritable treasure that I in turn wanted to share with you, hoping that you have discovered something new while reading this post or were inspired by Lavanya’s answers & insights that she shared.

To find out more about The Boxwalla, please click here

Picture credits: the Boxwalla boxes images are courtesy of Boxwalla; Typewriter image is courtesy of DidiFox. The rest of the images features are by CRiL

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With so many beauty products being continuously launched, it is somewhat reassuring to review products from the brands that I already know well. When I know brand’s background & ethos, it becomes interesting to see what they come up with next. Recently I have been testing a new cleanser from Nourish London & a re-launched face oil from Bodhi & Birch, both are British brands that fall into my favourite ‘natural’ category.

Nourish London Skin Renew Cleanser, 100 ml, £20

Skin Renew Cleanser caught my eye on Nourish stand at the recent Natural & Organic trade show at Excel (the brand recently changed its packaging & I think it works well, keeping brand’s identity, yet making a stronger visual impact). If you don’t know Nourish London, it is a natural, certified organic by Soil Association skincare brand, led by the knowledgable Dr Pauline Hili, who actually prefers her products to have the spotlight, while she & her team work tirelessly in the background.

This cleanser was developed to gently, but effectively clear away impurities & make-up from the skin. An omega-rich creamy formula with Argan, Borage & Jojoba, it helps replenish skin lipids, while counteracting negative effects of pollution, making it a good choice for in your evening skincare routine. It also contains Kale ( Dr Hili pioneered use of kale in skincare & started a very popular trend, as now even some nail polishes contain it ) & Griffon extracts, which help protect the skin matrix against pollution & environmental aggressors ( a ‘hot conversation topic’ when it comes to lifestyle & skincare ).

You can apply this cleanser to either wet or dry skin, using cotton wool or your own fingers – I prefer the latter. Use one pump, apply it all over your face, including the eye area & massage it with the tips of your fingers all over your face, extending the cleanser to your neckline – you would be surprised to see how much dirt you accumulate there by the end of the day! As we age our neck starts to give away our age, in part because we tend to ignore it, while the skin is plump & supple there. I also find that extending my cleanser to my neckline as part of my evening skincare routine, prevents congestion & makes the skin on the neck more even & soft – comes handy, if you don’t want to hide your neck in a turtle neck .)

Rinsing this cleanser with warm water makes the skin feel clean & refreshed, ready for the rest of your skincare routine. I enjoy using this cleanser, but for me it doesn’t have the same ‘wow’ factor as Kale 3D Cleanse (it is designed to work with water), which makes me feel like a science professor. Having said that it is a natural, effective & reasonably priced alternative to many creamy cleansers already vying for your attention. I deem it worthy of your consideration, especially if you are thinking of switching from mainstream brand, like Liz Earle & her Cleanse & Polish cleanser to a more natural one. You can also use it alongside Kale Exfoliating Cleanser for some regular exfoliating action. A credible contender with a genuine natural ingredient list, delicate scent & thorough cleansing power.

Ingredients

• Moroccan Argan Oil is rich in vitamin E & essential fatty acids, which help to heal & restore the natural lipid layer;

Kale extract is a rich source of powerful antioxidants & has a unique enzyme system, which protects skin cells from environmental damage, whilst maintaining skin elasticity & suppleness;

Griffon extract protect skin from UV-induced cell damage & environmental stressors;

Myrrh oil stimulates collagen & fibroblast production, leaving skin smooth & firm;

Borage oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which contribute to reduction in skin irritation, stimulating repair & reducing water loss;

Rosehip oil aids tissue regeneration & repairs damaged skin cells. Rich in vitamins A and C, it nourishes & soothes the epidermis:

Tocopherol protects skin against pollutants & UV radiation plus Vitamin E is vital for the synthesis of collagen.

Full list of Ingredients: Aqua, Rosa damascena (rose) flower water*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil*, Glycerin, Cetearyl alcohol, Glyceryl stearate, Cetearyl glucoside, Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil*, Argania spinosa (argan) kernel oil*, Brassica oleracea acephala (kale) leaf extract*, Borago officinalis (borage) seed oil*, Rosa canina (rosehip) fruit oil*, Tocopherol, Bisabolol, Griffonia simplicifolia seed (griffonia) extract, Sodium levulinate, Sodium anisate, Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate, Citric acid, Aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice powder*, Olibanum (frankincense) oil*, Zingiber officinale (ginger) root extract, Commiphora myrrha (myrrh) oil, Xanthan Gum, Pelargonium graveolens (geranium) flower oil*, Lactobacillus/dipteryx odorata seed (tonka bean) ferment filtrate, Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil*, Citronellol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool. *Certified organic. Naturally present in essential oils.

To find out more about Nourish London, please click here

Bodhi & Birch Desert Rose Facial Oil, 15ml, £38

It has to be said that my review of this product nearly didn’t happen. When Elijah Choo, my friend & founder of Bodhi & Birch, approached me about testing the updated version of this face oil, I honestly told him that I am not a huge fan of roses in my skincare. While I was happy to play with a sample, I didn’t want a full-sized product – having said that, I also don’t review samples, so it was meant to be a simple & short product testing – or so I thought!

Having tried the original version of this face oil, I thought I knew what to expect – how presumptuous I was ! Elijah is a tireless perfectionist when it comes to his product formulas & trying to satisfy his customers needs & requests. He changed the name of the product from Desert Rose Rejuvenating Face Oil to Desert Rose Facial Oil because that’s what most customers and bloggers referred to it as as ( plus it’s punchier). This facial oil was originally launched in 2013 & consistently remained one of Bodhi & Birch best-selling product. Over the years Elijah have had a stream of comments about it, from reducing strength of the EO blend to removing Wheatgerm Oil, because it is comedogenic. Also, a few customers didn’t like the scent of Strawberry Seed Oil in the base (it smells slightly sweet and musky). Finally, Kukui Nut Oil is very unstable and goes off easily, if it is not used up. So Elijah had wastages from the production & so he dared to challenge himself by tying up loose ends & creating something that will enhance customer’s experience with this facial oil. Those who don’t dare, don’t drink champagne, or so the saying goes .)

As soon as I applied this rose-scented face oil on, I just knew that it was VERY special. Elijah managed to improve various aspects of the face oil – the texture is more sophisticated, lighter, yet weighty to the touch, easily gliding over your face, encouraging you to massage it in. It sinks in almost instantly & adds instant glow to the skin. Desert Rose facial oil has the beautiful scent of summer roses in bloom, swaying like dancers in a warm, sunny breeze & it puts a smile on my face as soon as I inhaled its flowery scent. The almost instant dewy plumpness that the oil imparted on my skin made my eyes widen, as I examined my skin in the mirror. Suffice to say that within a few days I was calling Elijah & blushing sheepishly professing my true love for the updated version of this face oil. Luckily for me, Elijah graciously chuckled, but didn’t make fun of my original ‘neigh’. A measure of a very humble man !

Brands often re-formulate their products, not always with the best results, but I think it is always brave to take a popular product & tinker with it, when it already has a loyal following. Elijah takes things in his stride & while I am sure he was a bit nervous prior to re-launch, I know that deep down he was proud of undertaking this challenge that he set up for himself. We often talk about skincare with Elijah & while I don’t come nowhere close to Elijah’s encyclopaedic knowledge of plants & ingredients, I certainly know what I do & don’t like when it comes to skincare products, oils included & I don’t shy away from expressing my opinion.

Desert Rose Facial Oilformerly known as Desert Rose Rejuvenating Face Oil ) is made with 100% natural botanicals, of which 95% are certified organic. Elijah handcrafts this face oil blend in micro-batches in order to ensure the utmost quality & possibly it is one of the reasons why the oil comes in a 15ml size. When you like a face oil, isn’t it better to have a smaller size, use it & re-purchase a new, fresh one, instead of getting bored of using a large-sized product that goes on forever? I don’t mean to criticise the product sizing in general, as there is a time & need for larger product sizes, especially when you & your skin like it & want value for money, but it brings up an interesting topic of freshness & efficacy up for discussion, much like freshness of the food that we eat.

Drawing inspiration from the healing & mesmerising power of nature & traditional botanical remedies, Elijah has spent over a year researching & re-inventing this Artisanal series product. The new formula features an organic blend of Argan, Rose, Prickly Pear (contains the highest levels of betalains of any known plant) & Starflower oils, making this face oil exceptionally rich in Vitamins A & E (consider them your stress-free first aiders for home use!), as well as Omegas 3,6 & 9, Gamma-Linolenic Acid & Betalains (plant pigments, which are super antioxidants with powerful anti-ageing effect). Plant nutrients in this formula work in unison by nourishing & moisturising the skin, refining its surface & structure, boosting cell regeneration, evening skin tone & diminishing blemishes.

One of the things that makes this face oil special for me, a firm non-lover of roses in my skincare, is Elijah’s alchemist talent. With knowledge & precision he blended together Bulgarian Damask Rose Otto sourced from the Valley of Roses with Tunisian Neroli, Somalian Myrrh & Australian Sandalwood Oil, creating a very evocative, mysterious, feminine aromatherapeutic journey. Just the smell of this oil alone gives me an almost instant sense of euphoric rapture, but the oil also fuses together historical traditions & geographical aspects housed within a Biophotonic Violet glass bottle. A journey in time, with multiple aspects & benefits for the individual consumer. The oil works well for normal & dry skin types and particularly well for mature skin. Having said that, it imparts a wonderful glow that women of different ages strongly desire.

‘This is my homepage to the Rose, a legendary skincare ingredient. It began with a thornless old rose that was inherited along with Bittell farm, where Bodhi & Birch first started. And it all came together during a spiritual moment on a mountainous sand dune in the bleak serenity of the Saharan night. That’s how Desert Rose was born.’

Elijah managed to change my opinion on a rose-scented product before, when he launched a trio of body oils, Sicilian Rose being one of them. After being on the ‘testers panel’, I was perfectly aligned with another body oil, called Nordic White, but after trying the finalised versions of the body oils (third being Chinois Blue ) my head has been turned. Since then Nordic White has been on equal footing with Sicilian Rose & both have joined the ‘adored beauty product’ rank. The only other rose-scented product that I like is Shay & Blue Amber Rose perfume, which makes me feel very feminine when I spritz myself with it. Elijah now has the honour of being a person who made me change my mind about rose-scented skincare twice!

Now, back to my musings about Desert Rose Facial Oil. As I continued to test it, I mentally compared it to other face oils that I used, in terms of texture, scent & efficacy & interestingly enough, found that for me it very clearly comes above Vintner’s Daughter, which is a lovely & very popular face oil, yet whose hype I still fail to understand. Of course we all like or are drawn to different skincare products, but I was genuinely taken aback how strongly I fell under the spell of Desert Rose. It sinks in almost instantly into my skin & I savour its changing scent, as my skin warms up with a facial massage & I become quietly happy. In the morning I wake up to noticeably plumper skin, even if I haven’t drank enough water the day before. All the more the reason that makes me appreciate the skill of a man behind Bodhi & Birch, who toils away in his lab, perfecting the products or creating new ones. After all, when a new product is being launched or an old favourite being re-launched, don’t we genuinely want to be wowed by it, as opposed to it falling short on the marketing promises & us being disappointed in our own gullibility?

Active Botanicals

Organic Argan Oil: Rich in essential fatty acids (80% unsaturated), Argan Oil contains tocopherols (Vitamin E), phenols, carotenes and squalene to help preserve cell integrity and restore skin’s elasticity. It also helps stimulate skin cell renewal, rehydrates dry, damaged skin and effectively reduces wrinkles to help reverse the ageing process.

Organic Rosehip Oil: Well known for its outstanding skin regenerative, softening and moisturising properties, Rosehip Oil is proven to decrease signs of premature skin ageing. Its broad spectrum of EFAs and Vitamins are proven to benefit skin against surface blemishes, skin pigmentation and photo-ageing, restoring skin back to its youthful glow.

Organic Prickly Pear Oil: Exceptionally rich in Vitamin E (over 88%), Vitamin K and Omega 6, Prickly Pear Oil is shown to nourish and soften skin to restore elasticity. Its high fatty acid content plumps skin, reducing wrinkles and adding firmness, as well as intercepting free radical damage. It also contains the highest levels of Betalains of any known plant. Betalains are super antioxidants with powerful anti-ageing effects.

Organic Starflower Oil: Cold-pressed from the seeds of the borage plant, Starflower is the richest natural source of Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA). It helps restores skin’s moisture barrier and maintain metabolism, keeping skin strong and healthy.

Taking into account past customer feedback, Elijah removed Kukui Nut, Sweet Almond, Wheatgerm and Strawberry Seed oils from the original formula. The new blend includes Prickly Pear and Starflower oils, along with Argan and Rosehip which remains unchanged. The EO is also slightly decreased, so it is a lot brighter.

Full list of ingredients: Argania Spinosa (Argan) Kernel Oil, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Seed Oil, Opuntia Fiscus-Indica (Prickly Pear) Seed Oil, Borago Officinalis (Starflower) Seed Oil, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose Otto) Flower Oil, Mixed Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Citrus Aurantium Amara (Neroli) Flower Oil, Santalum Spicatum (Sandalwood) Oil, Commiphora Myrrha (Myrrh) Oil, Citronellol, Eugenol, Farnesol, Geraniol, Limonene, Linalool

So here you go, two new face care launches from brands that I know & trust & who prefer their products & not the PR department to do their talking.

For more information about Bodhi & Birch please click here

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