Monday, 29 April 2013

Beginners guide to going "green" with your skincare

I have had a few tweets lately asking where to start if you are going to go "greener" with your product choices and the truth is there is far too much information for 160 characters. I thought I would share with you what I think are the most important aspects of being green and buying greener skincare.   

Reduce the amount of products you buy:

This may seem odd coming from a blogger, as I do have more products than your average person, but in truth I never have more than one or two of the same product open at any one time. This is something that is really important when you are buying natural and organic products as less preservatives means a shorter shelf life, if I buy a product that I do not like for some reason I will try to use it up in a different way or pass it on to friends. The days of stockpiling products for me have long gone, I keep a backup draw with a few essentials and that is it, everything else get's used up.

Multi purpose products are your friend when it comes to being green as it means less packaging and waste and it also means good value for money. A lot of products can be used in different ways I use shower gel for shaving with, multi purpose balms can be used all over the body and sometimes on the face, coconut oil can be used everywhere even on the hair and makes a great make up remover, the possibilities are endless.  

Learn to read labels but don't let it drive you crazy:

The list of ingredients that could potentially be problematic is long and frightening, it is easy to demonise any ingredient by looking on the internet, even those in natural and organic lines can have lists of potential side effects listed. Whilst I do subscribe to using natural skin and earth friendly ingredients I do think there is a fair amount of scaremongering and mis-quoting of research that goes on, genuine research has to be interpreted objectively rather than taken out of context. Some of the most common ingredients that are reported to be problematic are SLS (a surfactant and foaming agent), Parabens (preservatives) and Petroleum based products (mineral oil which is a by-product of the petrochemical industry). The EWG skin deep database is a commonly used resource where you can check not only individual ingredients but they will also give you hazard rating for the whole product too. As I have learnt more about reading labels and have found out more about EWG I do not place any weight on their rating system any more, but it can be useful if you are just starting out. Another site I prefer and use frequently is Truth in Ageing.

I always ask some basic questions to help me decipher product labels which at times can feel as if you need to be a bio-chemist to read:

What is the product base? Water based products tend to have more ingredients and more preservatives than oil based products, for this reason I think learning to embrace oils and balms for the face and for the body is an easy way to eliminate certain ingredients, not only that but they are more concentrated and last a long time.

Products are listed from largest percentage to smallest on the label so if the first ingredient is water then that is the highest percentage ingredient. Foaming products are often some of the most chemical laden (especially problematic for people with skin disorders already), and for that reason I avoid them wherever possible and switch to low foaming alternatives.

Do I know what the majority of these ingredients are? If the answer is yes then go ahead and buy it if you have confidence in the brand, if the  answer is no, skip it, there are so many great brands out there that as consumers we needn't settle for anything we are not 100% happy with. Some brands have their ingredients lists in INCI (International Nomenclature for Cosmetic ingredients) which is the scientific names for ingredients, this can lead to even natural ingredients sounding scary, for example Vitamin E is often listed as Tocopherol. This does make reading ingredients lists slightly more tricky but there is a link here which provides some of the common ingredients and their INCI names for reference.  

How is the product preserved? Preservatives are one of the biggest concerns for most people, water based products need preservatives other wise they could be dangerous breeding grounds for bacteria, so check to see what kind of preservatives are used and in what quantities, great brands will minimise the use of preservatives and some use airless packaging where possible to help them do so, this is ideal as it is the most hygienic way to store products.

Look for organic or natural certifications to help you spot whether a company is genuinely pure in it's ingredients or whether is just wants to appear natural, these certifications all mean different standards for how the ingredients are produced and what ingredients are allowed in that product but they are a good way to tell whether a brand is genuine or not, especially when you start out buying green. I favour Soil Association organic, but also use Natrue certified products, BDIH or Eco-Cert if you see any of these certifications it is going to mean that the product is going to be better for you than a conventional product.

As you learn more about ingredients you can begin to be more specific about what ingredients you personally are happy with and which you are not, a lot of this will also come down to the individuals needs, someone with allergies or skin conditions is going to have to be more strict than someone just wanting to live a greener life. The list of ingredients that I avoid has grown bigger over time (but sometimes I make exceptions for a certain product), it is OK to be a work in progress. 

My last thought on ingredients is that sometimes we get so caught up in checking for "nasties" we forget to check to check the product has any beneficial ingredients for the skin, look for ingredients that your skin enjoys and that are suitable for purpose, that is half the battle.

Look for ethical sourcing and packaging:

Ingredient's are of course really important to me when choosing my products but they are not the only factor that I consider important, a brand can produce a 100% natural product but it may not be sourced in an ethical or sustainable manner. The brands that I trust and go back to again and again take all aspects of their product development into account, they often also support charitable causes too.

Packaging should be as close to 100% percent recyclable as possible, some brands you can return the packaging to the brand itself for recycling, others you can just recycle normally as you would your food packaging.

Re-use and Up Cyle where possible, I re-use glass dropper bottles, jars and spray bottles when making my own products, there is no need to put everything in the bin, sometimes it is nice to give something an alternative use. I also up-cycle my empty glass candle holders for storing make-up brushes and lip products, they look great and are practical too.

Start with your most used items:

In terms of which products to switch first I believe it is products that you apply on a daily basis and which are absorbed into the skin that are most important to switch. Those are body lotion and moisturiser for most people, they are also really easy to switch because they are products that the natural brands do just as well or better than conventional products.

As already mentioned shower gels shampoos and other foaming products can be an issue especially if you have certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, so I would look at those next. Swap one thing at a time as your conventional products run out that way you can research brands and products to avoid wasting money on products that are wrong for you.

I have found blog reviews invaluable when switching products, it is always nice to hear other people's experience with a product and I have found some great brands through my reading list and for that I am really grateful.

Lastly I think we have to accept that all our choices have an impact both on us and the planet, it is impossible to tread on this earth with out making a mark, but if we all try and tread as lightly as possible we can make a difference.

Feel free to share any of your personal tips or information about switching products in the comments, it is always nice to hear what other people think.

Ana x

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Bloom Remedies Rose, Geranium and Sweet Orange moisturiser review.

   Today's review is of a brand that I stumbled across on twitter called Bloom Remedies, after looking at the website I was thoroughly impressed with the range and keen to try out some of the products. I featured one of their body butters in a Wishlist Wednesday post and Marie the head of the company kindly offered to send me one of their products to try.

    I was delighted to receive the Rose, Geranium and sweet orange moisturiser*, I have been searching for a lighter moisturiser for the coming summer months and I am pleased to say I have fallen head over heals in love with this one. It came beautifully packaged and was a real treat to open.

    Bloom makes it's beautiful skincare and body care by hand in Cornwall. The brand is Soil Association certified organic and has a brilliant ingredients policy as you would expect from an Organic brand. Another big plus is that the percentage of organic ingredients is stated on the packaging of the products so it is easy to know exactly what you are getting, no green washing here!

    I was a little apprehensive about trying this to begin with because it is labelled for normal skin and my skin can be very temperamental. I am glad to say that I needn't of worried, this is the only moisturiser I have used since receiving it, my skin absolutely loves this and drinks it up.

    I found this balanced my skin perfectly it was hydrating but it also cleared up a few blemishes that I had too, I find when my skin is going through a difficult time a really simple regime with great products such as this one really helps and I would thoroughly recommend this if you have slightly stressed skin like mine.

    This is wonderfully scented with essential oils, It difficult to describe but it smells very uplifting. The texture is lovely beautifully light and nourishing. It sinks into my skin immediately and leaves no residue on the skin. It is packed full of lovely ingredients such as Shea Butter and Vitamin E which my skin really enjoys.

Aqua, Sunflower seed oil*, Sweet almond oil*, Geranium flower water*, Rose flower water*, Glycerin*, Lavender flower water*, Meadowfoam oil*, Shea butter*, Glyceryl stearate, Cetyl alcohol, Cetearyl alcohol, Benzyl alcohol, Beeswax*, Potassium sorbate, Vitamin E, Cetearyl glucoside, Sweet orange essential oil*, Xanthan gum, Rosemary flower extract*, Geranium essential oil*, Rose essential oil*, Cedarwood essential oil*, Benzoin essential oil* Lavender essential oil*, Thyme linalool essential oil*, Rosemary essential oil*, Ho leaf essential oil*, Seabuckthorn extract*, Citric acid. *Organic ingredient
(76% of the ingredients are organic)

    I really like the glass bottle with the pump, it is practical and easy to use but looks pretty too. This costs £10.99 for 50 ml's and I love it as much (or more!) than my Pai or REN moisturisers that I have paid two or three times the price for. The range also caters for a variety of skin types and has some beautiful looking body care. Nothing is tested on animals, an issue that is always important to me.

    I am very excited that Bloom Remedies are offering my readers 15% off all their products, so that you can discover this lovely range for yourself, just enter the code ana15 at the checkout (not to be used with any other discount codes). You can also follow Bloom on twitter @BloomRemedies stop by and say hi, Marie is lovely!

Ana x
*PR sample

Weleda Pomegranate body oil review


    When I was thinking about the items to include in my products I would repurchase collaboration I realised that I had never reviewed this product despite it being my single most repurchased product of all time, I have used probably about 8 of these gorgeous bottles at least over the last couple of years. I have a few Weleda products that are staples in my routine and for good reason they are a great brand, the ethics of the company are superb and their focus on sustainable sourcing and bio dynamic farming means the products are great for the environment too.

    Since starting this natural beauty journey I have become a total oil convert and I feel strongly that they are something that everyone should include in their routine. They make a big difference to skin and unlike water based products need very little in terms of preservatives.

    I will say that the main reason for buying this again and again aside from how wonderfully nourishing this is, is because it is a pleasure to use. I am someone who needs to enjoy my products to ensure that I apply them, otherwise even the most effective of products will sit in a drawer unloved.

    The smell of this (like the Weleda Pomegranate creamy body wash that I reviewed here) is just so wonderfully addictive. It's very fruity but with a hint of spice, as Weleda is widely available and I strongly suggest you have a smell of this in person as I really can't do it justice on a blog post. As you would expect from a Weleda product the scent is all natural from essential oils.

    The oil itself is what I would describe as quite rich so it is best applied on to wet skin after a bath or a shower. It is wonderfully moisturising thanks to the lovely blend of natural oils including jojoba, sesame and of course the pomegranate seed oil. I like to use it all over my body and I really notice a difference in the condition of my skin since using it.

INCI: Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Triticum Vulgare (Wheat) Germ Oil, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Panicum Miliaceum (Millet) Seed Extract, Fragance (parfum)*, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Petal Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Coumarin*, Farnesol. *From natural essential oils.

    It's described as regenerating and it is great for any type of skin imperfection such as scars, stretch marks keratosis pilaris etc... It's one of those products that I always have in my stash and would never want to be with out it now.

    I have tried all the Weleda body oils and they are all gorgeously scented, this however is my favourite and the one I come back to again and again. They are also available in Citrus, Sea Buckthorn and Wild Rose.

    You can find this product on the Weleda Website it retails at £21.95 for 100 mls, you can also buy trial sizes of the many Weleda products which is great so that you can decide whether you want to invest in the full size.
    Do you like body oils? Did you try this one, what did you think?

Ana x

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Natural Wisdom: Rose and Pomegranate Antioxidant hydrating toner review

     Natural Wisdom are a company that I was introduced to by Danny from Holistic Green Beauty and Sandra from Beauty Balm. After seeing that both of them spoke really highly of the brand I decided to try the Rose and pomegranate Antioxidant toner.

    Natural Wisdom is a British company with strong Eco and ethical values, it was founded by Maeve Smith originally for herself because she wanted high performance natural skincare. I love supporting smaller brands and whilst Natural wisdom doesn't have a big selection of products everything they do have sounds wonderful.

    This toner comes in a miron glass bottle with a spray dispenser, it's slightly thicker than your average toner but is very easily absorbed into the skin. I like to spray it onto my hands and pat it into the skin. This is for me a multi-use product because not only does it make a great toner but it is great for a quick cleanse and refresh if I have to makeup on sprayed on to a cotton wool pad.

    The bottle has 50 ml's of product and it has lasted me a surprising amount of time, it's still going strong after over a month of use, I think this is because when used as a toner I don't use any cotton wool, and the slightly thicker consistency means it is easy to apply that way.

    I was at first a little sceptical as to how hydrating a toner could actually be, but I have definitely noticed a difference in how much moisturiser I need both morning and evening.

    Overall I have really enjoy my first Natural wisdom product and will be trying some more in the near future. The ingredients are great, there is no denatured alcohol or anything that is stripping to the skin, it is the hyluronic acid which give it it's moisturising qualities and that is also an anti-ageing ingredient.

Ingredients: *rosa damascena (rose) flower water,punica granatum (pomegranate) fruit extract, *symphytum officinalis (comfrey) root extract), *aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf powder, sodium ascorbyl phosphate (Vitamin C), sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid) powder, benzyl alcohol, salicylic acid, glycerine, sorbic acid. *certified organic ingredient.

    This toner is £15 from Natural Wisdom, have you tried any Natural Wisdom products? What did you think?

Ana x

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Essential Care lipstick in Praline review

 I bought this lipstick at the same time that I bought the Essential care concealer which is a brilliant product (review here), I am pleased to say I love this just as much and it has been my lipstick of choice for work almost everyday.
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