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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Currently obsessed with: Roses


The title of this blog post is rather deceptive because Rose is not just a current obsession, but an all time one, I adore rose in skincare, body care or perfume. I know rose tends to divide people, there are those that love it, like me and those that find it's really not for them. If your only experience has been with synthetic Rose, these natural treats are a whole world apart and may just convert you!

When I discovered that Lavera had a Rose line I knew that it was slightly dangerous for my obsession, the brand is such great value and the Wild Rose Hand cream (£4.45 for 50 ml) is a perfect handbag staple. The cream is nourishing, absorbs quickly and leaves the prettiest rose scent behind, all for a great price it has become a big favourite of mine.

As an aromatherapy obsessive I am pretty attached to these portable balms by Scentered, currently the Love Therapy Balm (£14.50) has been in my handbag on almost a daily basis. This balm is a spicy blend of Rose, clove, orange, patchouli, vanilla and jasmine. Although not a traditional rose scent this balm is pure happiness, warm and comforting.

One of my favourite brands for body care and aromatherapy at the moment is Tisserand, the rose products were love at first sniff and I am currently using the Rose garden hand wash, perfume and perfume roll on from their collaboration with the National trust, prices are very reasonable and start at £7.50 for the roll on. All three have a floral but slightly sweet Rose scent, the perfume is very easy to wear everyday!

For affordable premade face masks I am really enjoying the Ooharr-Rosie Glow Deep cleansing mask* (£1.20 for 15 mls). Each packet contains enough mask for two applications and the sachets are perfect for travelling and taking on holiday with you. The mask itself is a gentle mix of clays and leaves the skin with a gentle glow all whilst smelling of Roses. I have a few sachets left to use and it is great for when I don't have time to mix my own mask.

I bought a few products from the Andalou naturals 1000 Roses range recently, this brand is a great budget line, everything I bought was nice but my favourite was the Rosewater Mask (£12.99 for 50 mls Available in the UK at Wholefoods, Revital and online at Natures Healthbox). The mask has a gel/cream texture and is lovely and hydrating, perfect for a pampering session.

If you love roses as much as me, what are your favourite products? Any of these take your eye?

Ana x

*Indicates samples were provided, all thoughts, opinions and beauty musing my own. Post contains some affiliate links, see my full disclaimer for details.

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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Green Parenting: Why I use cloth nappies


What kind of nappies to use is just one of the many parenting choices we are faced with, recently cloth nappies are making a bit of a come back as people discover some of the benefits. I used cloth nappies for my first baby seven years ago and this pregnancy I knew I wanted to explore cloth again. As we thought we were only having one child we had passed on all our baby things, so this meant starting again, although it meant more expense financially, I have had a great time exploring some of the styles and nappies available, I think cloth is slightly addictive!

So what are the benefits of cloth nappies?

The most obvious benefit is for the environment, the average child will get through 4000-6000 nappies in their life time and disposables take an average of 500 years to decompose in landfill, quite a scary statistic. With many councils in the UK cutting back on rubbish collections to fortnightly for many people space in the bin is at a premium, adding nappies their waste means extra smelly and full bins.

The second benefit is that cloth nappies are made from super soft and safe materials on babies skin, using cloth means you can avoid some of the chemicals in disposables including absorbent gels and petrochemicals. There is some evidence to suggest that for some children using cloth nappies can help to reduce nappy rash too.

The average cost of nappies for a child in their lifetime is quite a scary figure, I have seen £800 widely quoted but this will depend very much on the brand of nappies you use and at what age your child is potty trained. The joy of Cloth nappies is that they can be used for more than one child and if in good condition tend to have a good resale value too, in fact there is a booming second hand market. Cloth can save £100's of pounds, especially if you are a savvy shopper and you use them for more than one child. Some councils offer discount schemes and incentives too, worth checking to see if that is the case in your area before buying.

Using cloth nappies can lead to earlier potty training in some children, the rationale behind this is that disposables contain super absorbent gels, meaning that the child doesn't notice they are wet. With real nappies the sensations are different and therefore a child becomes more aware of what is happening with his/her body and when they need to be changed.

Cloth nappies look great! When you compare cloth nappies to disposables, nothing looks cuter than a fluffy bottomed baby. There are such great prints and styles available and importantly cloth nappies take around the same time to change as a disposable. I do believe there is such a thing as cloth nappy addiction, I am forever browsing prints and styles to add to my stash.

What types cloth nappies are right for me?

When deciding to try out cloth nappies many people make the mistake of buying lot's of nappies before baby is even born, only to find the fit or style isn't quite right for them. Personally I think those first few weeks new parents have enough to get their head around, so I would recommend waiting until baby is a few weeks old and then exploring the best options for them. Lot's of areas have a nappy library service where you can borrow a variety of styles to test on your baby, also some independent retailers will be able to advise you on the systems available. These are some of the options, not an extensive list but will give you the basics:

All in one nappies, are the closest to a disposable, they are very convenient and easy to use, especially if you are new to cloth. All in one nappies can be slightly more expensive than other types of nappies and you need to have enough in your stash to allow for drying time. AIO nappies come in a variety of fabrics that will affect their performance and drying time but they are generally quite versatile because you can boost them if needed and are slim fitting. Most AIO nappies are Birth to potty with the inclusion of poppers (snaps) that allow you to adjust the nappy to fit your baby but they also come in different sizes.

Pocket nappies, similar to all in ones except the nappy comes with a separate insert that needs to be stuffed or attached to the waterproof wrap cover. These are a little more fiddly than all in ones, but it also means they are quicker to dry as you take them apart and can boost them as needed with different inserts to suit the needs of your baby at different stages.

Two part fitted nappies, consist of a basic shaped nappy and a separate waterproof cover. This type of nappy can be a little bulky and take a while to dry depending on the fabric chosen but is also very absorbent and ideal for night time and means you can use the waterproof wrap several times before needing to wash it. These generally come in two sizes for a better fit. You can also get a similar system that uses terry squares and a waterproof cover.

What will I need to get started?

Whichever system you choose there are some basic accessories that are useful to have. A nappy bucket with a lid, preferably one that clips shut to contain any smells. A couple of netted bags that can be inserted in to the bucket and means that you can just pop the whole bag in the wash with no need to handle the nappies. Nappy liners, either fleece or flushable for catching the worst of the poop. A wet bag for transporting the wet nappies when you are out and about and finally your chosen nappies. How many depends on how often you want to have to wash them, the kind you have and if you are using them full or part time (remember it doesn't have to be all or nothing, many people use them at home and use disposables when out and about or on holidays). An average number to go for seems to be 20-30 nappies for full time use.



For the first few weeks of Baby Green's life we used more eco-friendly disposables (See my change bag essentials post), partly because I wanted to give myself time to recover from birth before adding any extra washing and partly because I wanted to use birth to potty nappies which can be a little bit big on a newborn, most recommend a starting weight of 8 to 10 lbs. I had bought a few nappies whilst pregnant of brands that I wanted to try so I started with around 10 nappies when Baby Green was 10 weeks old. This was more than enough to start using cloth part time, Baby Green isn't a heavy wetter so I change her nappy every three hours approximately during the day, more or less after every feed. I have added another six nappies to my stash, so I have more than enough to use nappies in the day time and use disposables at night and if we go out for the entire day purely because I need to get a new change bag to accommodate cloth nappies as the one I have currently is rather small. My total investment so far is around £200, this has included the 16 all in one, birth to potty nappies (bought new), a starter set with a bucket,  two mesh bags and six packets of flushable liners. I also have a couple of roomy wet bags which can be used not just for nappies but are also great for use when swimming or for storing dirty clothes when children are older.

So are cloth nappies more work?

I would say yes, but only very minimally! In fact for me the benefits certainly outweigh a small amount of extra effort. I pop a nappy wash on every other day at the moment, that also includes washable wipes which I will cover in another post. To make things more environmentally friendly I wash at 40 degrees (unless heavily soiled) and I line dry, outside if possible but often inside as the British weather rarely co-operates. You don't need to soak the nappies, just pop them in the bucket and if soiled the flushable liner takes care of the worst part so it really is no more messy than a disposable as you flush the poo down the toilet. It takes around fives minutes to then re-stuff the nappies ready for use next time, I do this job sat on the floor whilst chatting and singing to Baby Green. Over the next few weeks I am hoping to progress to full time cloth use, but it will only mean a few extra nappies to wash and dry, so that really is it in terms of effort.

My current nappy stash consists of a mixture of brands: Bambino Mio Miosolos, Tots Bots Easyfit V4's, Tickletots, Pop-In New Generation V2 and Milovia. My most used are currently the Bambino Mio Miosolos and the Tots Bots nappies and it is likely I will adding more Bambino Mio to the stash because I love, love, love the prints and Tots Bots too as they have now released a new nappy called the Easyfit Star which is said to be even better than the V4's. I also intend to buy some two part nappies, as I have heard that they can be great for night time. If you are interested in specific nappy reviews or comparisons, feel free to leave a request in the comments!

Do you love cloth nappies? Are you thinking about using them for your next baby? I would love to hear from you.

For more information see the Go Real Nappy information website

Ana x

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Monday, 27 June 2016

Products to cheat a good nights sleep


Ahhh sleep, a thing of such joy and so essential to looking and feeling your best. At the time of writing this post I haven't had a full uninterrupted eight hours for nearly six months, the last trimester of my pregnancy whilst I could of been sleeping, I was plagued with insomnia and as Baby Green is currently three months old she wakes several times a night to breastfeed. So I have been missing sleep and I think about what it would be like to have a lie in or more than three hours without being woken up rather a lot. Whilst we all know that sleep is important, so many of us struggle to get enough or to wind down, so I thought I would share some products that either help me to relax and sleep better, get to work on your skin whilst you are asleep or can help the morning after a rough night to cheat a little the effects of your regular eight hours.

And Relax....

There is nothing worse than being tired and also wound up to the point of not being able to sleep, in the weeks after Baby Green was born I found myself feeling very tense in the evenings. Whilst it is not a magic bullet, especially if you have severe sleep problems, I regularly turn to aromatherapy to relax  and get a better nights sleep. I have mentioned the This Works Deep Sleep pillow spray* (£16 for 75 mls) before, but it deserves another mention as it is a part of my regular night time routine. The blend of lavender, chamomile, Vetiver and patchouli is deeply relaxing, I like to spray it just before I am ready for bed and sit and take a moment to inhale the aroma, the whole ritual is helpful to give the body the signal that it is now time to rest. Another brand I talk about often is Tisserand, because they create great quality aromatherapy products, the Sweet Dreams blend is one of my favourites to help me drift off. It combines lavender, jasmine and sandalwood and its such a unique and soothing blend. The best bit is that they have created lot's of different products in the same scent to mix and match, so you can start with a relaxing bath featuring the bath oil* (£10.95 for 100 mls), there is a beautiful matching body oil* (£9.95 for 100 mls) which pampers the skin with Moringa and Jojoba oils, last step you can choose from an aromatherapy roller ball* (£5.95) which is brilliantly handy for on the go or the vaporising oil* (£6.95) brilliant if you want to scent the whole room. This range won several awards this year including a Beauty shortlist and Natural Health award and it is so well deserved, I come back to these products time and time again for their excellent performance and value.

Skin Prep....

The days of long elaborate night time skincare routines are sadly behind me, I am usually rushing around doing a million jobs as quickly as possible, however a few key products have been making a big difference to my skin overnight and making my complexion look better than expected in the morning. Oils are brilliant for overnight use, skin always looks a little better than it did before and even a few seconds massage is helpful to awaken tired skin. There are so many great blends that work well on the skin overnight, as a rule of thumb I save my more active blends for night time and use simpler ones in the morning but many are useful for both. The Nourish Radiance Firming oil* (£25 for 15 mls) is an all round player, perfect for an evening facial massage it get's to work on the skin overnight making it brighter but it is equally as brilliant either on it's own or added to moisturiser in the mornings. This is a great blend that works exactly as it should, the oils are extremely high quality and Nourish never fails to appeal to me for it's great value. Macadamia, rosehip, borage, Damask rose and Frankincense, what can I say other than gorgeous! If you prefer a night cream or like to layer your products the A'kin Purely Revitalising Firming night cream* (£28.50 for 50 mls) is a heavy hitter that will improve the look of the skin overnight. It is designed for mature skin types but could be used by skin in need of hydration after partying too hard and makes a rather lovely hydrating mask too, so you can remove any excess before bed. The Echium oil gives a dose of omegas whilst the hyaluronic acid binds moisture to the skin making you all round fresher by morning.

The morning after the night before....

If despite your best intentions you have woken up not looking your best all is not lost, I have minimal time in the mornings and am usually trying to get out the door to do the school run but I have a few go to products that have been helping me look and feel better with minimal fuss. The Odacite serum boosters are rather clever little products, designed to be added to your moisturiser enabling you to customise your routine further to tackle your skins needs. The selection available is quite impressive with something to tackle every skin issue. The Pomegrante Rose Geranium Serum concentrate (£33 for 5 mls, Content and Naturisimo also stock and ship worldwide) is great for dull and tired skin. Just a drop or two mixed with your daily moisturiser adds a real glow to the skin, making you instantly more awake. The only downside to the Odacite boosters is the price, so if your budget can't quite stretch I have also been reaching for the new Ooh! Oils of Heaven Rosehip oil* (£19 for 30 mls). Roship is tried and tested for adding radiance and I like to mix this one with my moisturiser to give an extra helping hand to my skin, if you prefer you can also use it on it's own. I am testing out the rest of the Ooh! oils including the new Cacay oil so I will be reporting back on them soon. Lack of sleep can often leave the skin look a little pale, the This Works Energy bank sun flash* (£28 for 30 mls) gives a dose of colour that is natural and not at all obvious. You can mix it with your skincare or apply it neat, it is a very versatile product and has some great natural ingredients including chicory and vitamin C. I love this, whenever I wear it I get comments on well I look, a real confidence booster. Once skin is sorted I like to give a little attention to the eye area, as it does tend to give you away when you are lacking sleep. Eye products often struggle to tackle lines, darkness and puffiness all at once. I favour oils and creams in the evening and a gel in the mornings. Skin Owl Eye+  (£36 for 0.8 oz, available at Cult Beauty with International shipping) is a wake up call for the under eyes, it is instantly tightening so great for puffiness and contains cooling cucumber that feels fantastic when your eyes are feeling sore too. I am a little bit in love with this product, it really helps to brighten dark circles and the ingredients list is a thing of beauty. Interestingly you can use this as a make up primer too which is great as I love a multi purpose product.

If you have tried any of these products let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Ana x

*Indicates a sample was generously provided, post contains some affiliate links, see my disclaimer for full details. All thoughts, opinions and beauty musings my own.

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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Cleanse and Tone with Pinks Boutique



If you love organic products then Pinks Boutique is a brand you need to know about. Founded by Kirstie and Luke, their common love of Asia inspires the brands products. I have blogged about the brand quite a few times before, every product I have tried has been excellent quality and I especially love the Indonesian inspired range for body. Today I have two face care products to share with you, the cornerstone of any routine a cleanser and a toner.

The Hydrating deep cleanse melt (£40 for 60 grams, product shown in photo is a trial size so 30 grams) is a beautiful silky cleanser, it has the benefits of a cleansing balm with the convenience and ease of removal of a cleansing milk, perfect for anyone that is new to balms. There are three cleansing balms in the Pinks Boutique collection, this one is suited for sensitive and dehydrated skins. With calendula, chamomile and lavender the scent is as soothing as the product itself and is perfect for winding down after a long day. This cleansing balm is very easily removed thanks to a slight emulsification that happens when you apply water, I still prefer to use a flannel to remove it, I use a cotton and bamboo mix as they are very soft, but rest assure you will not have to work hard to remove it at all. What I love about a cleansing balm is that combined with a facial massage you really get the circulation going, helping blood flow, the oils gently soften the skin and the removal process gently exfoliates. This cleansing balm also happens to be vegan, so absolutely perfect for those of you that avoid beeswax. I have found that in the summer months it is best to keep this in the fridge to ensure the balm doesn't melt.

Following on from the cleansing balm you can spritz the skin with the Ocha Organic Toner* (£17.50 for 52 grams) suitable for normal, dry and dehydrated skins. This product has a spring water base that is boosted with Japanese green tea for it's anti-oxidant effect, glycerine to bind moisture and lavender to refresh the skin. This toner comes out of the bottle as a super fine mist, extremely refreshing and perfect for preparing skin for the all important serums and helping them to absorb in to the skin. I have thoroughly enjoyed this product, the fact that the bottle is now empty tells you just how much. Despite the inclusion of organic alcohol in the formula I didn't find it drying or problematic in any way, I mention it because I get a lot of questions about organic formulas and alcohol as it is used as a preservative.

Pinks Boutique is a gorgeous organic brand to explore, the products are certified by the Soil Association the range is 100% natural with no synthetic ingredients. Pinks Boutique is a professional range too, used in Spa's across the country.

Previous reviews:
Hand balm, bath salts and candle
Anti-ageing serum
Manicure Try me set

Ana x

*Products highlighted have been provided for review, all thoughts, opinions and beauty musings my own.
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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Senspa: Spa products without the Spa prices


If you love a good pamper session then you are in luck, I have been testing a British Spa inspired range without the hefty Spa prices that rivals easily some of the more expensive brands. When I was pregnant I was lucky enough to enjoy a Spa day for my Birthday but as it will be quite a while before I can have a day like that again I have been making the most of grabbing half an hour here and there to relax and treat myself.

Senspa is not a new brand to the blog, in fact I did a review when it first launched, but recently after testing some more of the range I was left thoroughly impressed and reminded that there are some gems in the collection. Racking up several awards including a Natural Health International beauty award and a Beauty Shortlist 2016 award winner, this British made brand has three scent ranges to choose from, Nourish, Detox and Relaxing. I was excited to see that the products include bodycare, skincare and haircare and include a minimum of 97% natural ingredients for each product.

I tested three of the products, the Nourishing body oil contains Argan, coconut and sweet almond oils as well as a lovely essential oil blend, including Jasmine, orange and clove. The detox wash is lovely and fresh, with rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils, perfect for a pick me up in the mornings. The surprise standout though is the Lava Clay hair and scalp mask, a gorgeously think and pampering mask with Abyssinian oil the really hydrates and softens hair that is dry. The products are really well priced, starting at just £3.95 and with a lot of products coming in under the £10 mark you can't go wrong. You can shop the range at some Waitrose stores in the UK or online at www.senspa.co.uk.

Ana x

*Samples were generously provided, all thoughts, opinions and beauty musings my own.

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