Saturday, 22 March 2014

Fresh Therapies Eden natural nail varnish remover review

    Nail care is always an area where the line between natural and not natural can get a little blurry, there are better for you options but some synthetic chemicals or heavy processing seem to be necessary to make something like a nail varnish which you want to adhere to the nails. Whilst I do like nail varnish I don't do my nails that often, purely because of time and effort but I have found a more natural routine that I am very happy with and which encourages me to look after my nails, I wrote about my cleaner greener manicure here but I wanted to go in to some more detail about one of the essential products I use which is the Eden natural nail varnish remover from the brand Fresh Therapies.

    Fresh Therapies was founded by Nicola Dickinson and it has recently won another award from the Natural Beauty Bible. The brand uses biodegradable food grade and plant based ingredients and is also acetone free to create a non-toxic and gentle formula, as if that wasn't enough the product is also vegan and not tested on animals, I honestly was so excited to try this when I bought it, on paper it sounded like the perfect product, so did it live up to it's expectations? I can honestly say it did 100% and it actually surpassed them for me. I suffer from very dry and brittle nails and regular nail varnish remover just used to make my nails break right off, since using Eden my nails are stronger and healthier and I don't dread removing my nail varnish any more, after months of use I could never go back to using another remover. 

    The formula feels a nourishing and has more of an oil base, it has a lovely light lime scent and takes no time at all to remove all your nail varnish I just soak a cotton pad and press it gently to the nail leaving it for a few seconds before wiping the polish away. It has worked with every polish I have used it with, even when I had a shellac manicure (Something I only did once and have not been inclined to do again!) I resented having to go back to the salon to have it removed to I thought I would try with the fresh therapies and to my surprise I managed to remove all the shellac with this, granted it did take me a lot longer than conventional nail varnish but still I was incredibly impressed. Anyone with dry nails should use this product regardless of whether you are concerned about natural ingredients or not because it is just so moisturising. I never thought I would be declaring my love for a nail varnish remover but I truly love this product, it is the best nail varnish remover I have ever used natural or otherwise. A little goes a long way and whilst the bottles don't look big they last a long time. It is also worth pointing out that the product comes in a lovely glass bottle that can be easily recycled, another big plus point. 

    You can find Fresh therapies on their Website or at Sophia's Choice (£8.99 for 50 mls) they also have samples sizes and nail varnish remover wipes which I will be picking up to try for my holidays. If you are searching for natural, environmentally friendly and cruelty free nail care then this is a must try. 

Ana x 

Sunday, 16 March 2014

The green guide to using plant oils on your hair and scalp

    By far one of my most popular posts is about using coconut oil as a hair and scalp treatment, but it isn't the only oil that has benefits for hair and there are lot's of other options, so today I thought I would I would talk about the main oils that I use, the benefits and how to get the most out of them. The idea of using natural oils on the hair for some is more than a little scary, the first question people ask is will they make my hair greasy. Using natural oils (By natural I am referring to plant based oils with no added ingredients such as silicones which are added to commercial oil based styling products on the market) is very different to using styling products in the traditional way, all of these oils I use as an intensive mask and I always use them on hair that is due to be washed, so think of these as a treatment rather than a styling product, if I ever use pure oils for styling I use them in very small amounts only on the ends of the hair. Using pure oils should result in softer smoother hair with less damage, alter the amount of oil you use depending on your hair type, thicker hair can use a lot more than thin hair which is easily weighed down. 

    For most of these oils application is very similar, the only exception to that is perhaps coconut oil as it is solid and does require warming either in hot water or with the heat of your hands to apply it. I personally like to do this at the weekend, when I have a bit more time, I will often blend up some oils and apply to hair whilst popping on a face-mask and doing some blogging, my point is that the more time you have the better to let the oil really absorb, natural oils are not a quick fix but the benefits for the hair and scalp really are worth the effort. This kind of intensive treatment works wonders on a dry scalp and colour treated or heat styled hair, if your scalp is not dry then you can just add the oil to the ends of the hair or the areas that you feel need it.

    I start by giving my dry hair a really good brush to make sure there are no knots, I then take the oil of my choice, sometimes it is a single oil and sometimes it is blend depending on how I am feeling. I start at the scalp and work my way down to the ends taking the hair in sections and really taking the time to give my hair a good massage to stimulate blood flow. I love to use my Tangle Teezer to make sure I distribute the oil throughout the hair as it is easy wash but any plastic comb will do. What I do next depends on the weather, in the winter and if I am using coconut oil I will always cover my hair with either a shower cap or warm towel or both (warm towel over shower cap) as coconut oil will solidify on the hair in the colder weather and can become difficult to wash out, covering hair also aids the absorption so is best to do this if you are short of time. I do sometimes keep the mask on overnight being sure to cover my pillowcase well with towels but to be honest I prefer to do this in the daytime and wash out before bed. Leave the oils on for as long as you can, coconut oil is thicker and I find needs longer to work than others such as Olive oil or Avocado oil, the only way to find what works best for you is to experiment. Here are some that I use: 

Coconut oil Is one of the most widely recommended oils for the hair and scalp it is rich in Lauric Acid, Vitamin E and some research has found that it can help to restore damaged hair (study link), whilst the science bit is generally not what I am good at coconut oil seems to generally accepted as being beneficial and my personal experience with it is good. What I will say about coconut oil is that whilst I love the effects it has particularly on my very dry and tight scalp, there are no cutting corners whilst using it, I find for best results I have to keep it on for 12 hours + so it is more of a time commitment than other oils. I found it to be the best for me in getting rid of an itchy scalp and use it more or less depending on the state of my hair and scalp. I like Virgin unrefined coconut oil, it is widely available and the price is reasonable, some good brands include Akamuti and Viridian but there are many more. It is harder to wash out than other oils especially if you have not had it on for very long or you have used too much but I generally find that an extra shampoo will do the trick, also go easy on the conditioner after using as your hair should not need too much at all. If solid coconut oil is too heavy or you want to mix it with other oils you can use fractionated coconut oil which comes in a liquid state. 

Avocado oil Is my oil of choice especially in the week when I don't have time to commit to a coconut oil treatment. Avocado oil boasts a high level of vitamins and fatty acids and really is a great product for skin and hair. I love it as a body oil and after sun and can even be used on the face. It has a deep green colour and a light smell. Unlike coconut oil this comes in a liquid form, I choose brands with a pump or decant it in to a pump dispenser to make it really easy to apply to the hair, it is wonderful for the scalp and is very hydrating but is lighter and easier to work with compared to coconut oil. I leave this on for as long as possible but I find that when pressed for time it still works well, some days I only have 30 minutes to an hour but I still see benefits from using it. If you want avocado with added benefits you can use a pre-blended product such as Yarok's Feed your Youth serum which contains Yarrow oil which is balancing for the scalp, this kind of product does work out a little more pricey than using pure avocado oil or blending your own, but it works really well especially if you are in a hurry. The brand of Avocado oil I use is Eden they sent me a bottle to try and I have since repurchased several times. 

Argan oil Is the oil that started the hair oil trend and is an ingredient is many of the hair oil treatments available, for me pure Argan oil is a wonderful ingredient and I love to mix it with Avocado oil and other oils. One of the more exotic oils it is sourced from the Argania Spinosa tree which is mainly grown in Morocco, the tree nuts are pressed to make the oil. When dealing with Argan oil it is worth pointing out that quality does vary between brands, I am still exploring different ones and trying to find one I will repurchase, it is worth looking out for organic and fair-trade and checking the label to ensure it is not blended with any other oils. It is not a cheap oil and it should be packaged in dark glass or a container that will keep out the light ideally. I currently am using this one from the Argan company but would prefer one which is an opaque container for next time. 

Olive Oil Is in many ways overlooked in skincare I think but everyone has some at home, it is inexpensive and readily available. I personally use food grade extra virgin olive oil the same kind I pop on my salads, as I tend to mix it with other oils I don't see the point in buying some purely for cosmetic use. Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet and is high in anti-oxidants and healthy fats it is incredibly nourishing and has been used for centuries as a moisturiser. I like to combine this with other oils and use it warm as a hot oil treatment, it mixes really well with oils such as sweet almond, avocado and Argan oil. 

    There are plenty more oils that you can use to make your own hot oil treatments and masks, once you start to experiment you will find out what your hair likes best. My favourite combination at the moment is equal amounts of Olive oil, Avocado oil and Argan oil with a dash of sweet almond oil and a few drops of rosemary essential oil which can help to increase circulation and adds a lovely herbal scent to the mixture. If you use oils on your hair I would love to hear how they work for you and which ones you prefer. 

Ana x 


Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bee Inspired Creams

    I think it is no secret by now that I love honey and products that contain it, Bee Inspired are the most recent brand to pop up on my radar and they make a selection of skincare products containing honey as one of the star ingredients alongside a range of plant oils and essential oils. All the products are free from mineral oils, parabens, SLS and SLES, all of the ingredients are listed on the site and they also have a very useful Ingredients page which is very helpful especially if you are new to reading ingredients lists as it tells you all the names in latin and English. I really love the name of the brand, I find bee's to be very inspiring creatures so it seems a very fitting name for a brand who champions bees to have.

    I was sent three of their creams in a beautiful gift box to try, the products themselves come in simple jars with the branded labels, I thought the gift box was a lovely touch and would definitely make a beautiful gift for someone. The products themselves are all very well priced and the body cream especially feels like great value for money as you get a lot of product in the jar. All the creams contain honey and beeswax alongside some lovely moisturising ingredients such as cocoa butter, sweet almond oil and castor oil. My favourite thing about all of these creams is that they are really silky and smooth and all very easily absorbed, if you are in the market for nourishing and non-greasy creams which are affordable I have to say I would recommend these highly.

    Fab face cream with jasmine and rose* (£12.50 for 50 mls) Is a simple moisturiser that smells beautifully of Jasmine and Rose, it leaves the skin soft and supple and is easily absorbed. If you like your skincare to be simple and uncomplicated but also pleasurable to use then this cream will be for you, with just a handful of ingredients this does what it says on the tin and it does it well especially for the price point. If you have sensitive skin they also do an unscented version which is great to see for a small brand, not everyone can tolerate essential oils so unscented options are definitely a really positive addition in my eyes. I adore the scent of this cream and if you love floral scents then it is a lovely product.

    Orange and geranium body cream* (£12.50 for 200 mls) Just like the face cream is easily absorbed and very smooth in texture, I really enjoyed the combination of the geranium and the orange in this product it is fresh and slightly earthy very pleasant. Apart from adding a balm for the heavy duty areas like my elbows and knees this cream has been doing a brilliant job at keeping my skin soft and flake free, you can dress straight away afterwards and is a pleasure to use. This has gone straight to my repurchase list, it is great value for money and after weeks of use I have barely made a dent in the pot!

    Jasmine silky hand cream* (£12.50 for 100 mls) Lives up to it's name and is rich but also instantly absorbed, if I am honest the formula of these creams all seem very similar with subtle variations so they could probably be multi-purpose if you didn't want to buy a different hand a body cream you could get away with just one. The hand cream feels slightly thicker than the body cream but only slightly, it leaves a beautiful scent on the hands and you can really feel the change in softness to the skin. 

    If you love handmade brands and especially skincare with the added benefits of honey then Bee Inspired is a lovely brand to try out, nice products and affordable prices. You can get an exclusive 20% off until the end of March with the code MAR20, enjoy!

Ana x

*Samples provided for my consideration

Monday, 10 March 2014

Heartwood candle company review


    I am never without a candle to burn around the house, I am very pleased by the amount of cleaner candles that are available these days and I take full advantage of the fact that soy/vegetable wax and essential oils seems to be more and more readily available from small and artisan producers as opposed to the petroleum and artificial fragrance which rules the high street. 

    My latest candle discovery is a really really good one, in fact I have to admit I had a real soft spot for this company even before I tried their products and actually even before they launched. I met Laura and Dominique who created Heartwood candle through Twitter and they joined in a some of the weekly chats I used to organise, which incidently I am thinking of starting again, but I digress... The first thing that struck me about this pair was their passion for what they do but also that they don't take themselves too seriously, they went so far as to post a photo of themselves sitting on a massive bag of eco-friendly packing peanuts which made me laugh out loud, and from that moment on I knew I really liked them. 

    When they launched the candles themselves I loved the simple and clean layout of the site and the scent combinations and bookmarked it for future candle purchases.The candles are all made from 100% natural sources and all have recyclable packaging. A few weeks ago they very kindly offered to send me a candle and I was delighted to receive the Rose Palmarosa and Rose geranium candle* (£22) to test. Now I have tried a lot of different candle companies from the most expensive to some of the smaller companies which are more competitive in price and the differences in each is often subtle, making them quite hard to review, this candle from the Heartwood candle company impressed me just as much as the more expensive and you could say leading brand on the market (which I love but reserve for special treats due to the price!). There were a few reasons for this, firstly the wax itself on this candle is a rich beautiful deep yellow, you can tell it is great quality. The scent itself is beautiful and you don't have to have it lit for long for it to have a beautiful scent throw, this is predominantly a Rose candle but the palmarosa does come through, it adds a nice freshness and the rose geranium rounds the scent off with it's sweetness. The last reason for me being incredibly impressed is that this candle burns 100% percent cleanly right to the end of the candle (yes mine has all gone now, sob!), the reason I waited to finishing the candle completely before reviewing is because some brands appear to burn cleanly with no black soot and then towards the very end of the candle the glass gets completely covered, I suppose it's a minor criticism but I love that the Heart wood candle didn't do this because it looked and smelt beautiful to the very end. 

    These candles burn for 25-30 hours, my experience is that mine lasted towards thirty hours easily, the prices vary depending on the essential oils used in each blend, this is one of the pricier candles but you can get some of them for only £18 which is an absolute bargain for a candle of this quality. I also want to mention the presentation, these were so beautifully packaged when they arrived with the handwritten label and brown paper and twine. As with all my glass containers from candles this one will also be recycled I am not sure what I will use it for yet but it is too beautiful to throw away, I love the fact that the logo itself is etched in to the glass as opposed to being a sticker because this also adds to the feeling of quality. To make the most out of your candle take a look at Laura and Dominique's tips on how to do so, this really does make a difference to the life of your candle (Candle FAQ's). I am going to make a very bold statement and say I think this candle is one of my favourite to date and I have tried lot's of very nice one's, the price point is excellent and so is the blend, Heartwood Candles donate 10% of their yearly profits to the woodland trust too, giving back to nature, I told you these ladies were amazing! If you are looking for a Mother's day gift, I can't imagine anyone not loving these beautiful candles and for those of you lucky enough to still have your mums around make sure to give them a big hug. 

Heartwood Candle Company

Ana x

*Sample generously provided by the Heartwood Candle company opinions and experiences entirely my own.


Saturday, 8 March 2014

Organic Glam Eye-shadow Palette review and swatches

    Firstly sorry for disappearing from the face of the earth this week, I have no excuse other than that I have been really busy and I didn't feel I had the energy to write, thankfully things are a little easier now so I am back and I have lot's to share with you. I am starting with a brand I have wanted to try for a while Organic Glam. I got this palette for Christmas I wanted a nice eye-shadow palette with good wearable colours and this one seemed to fit the bill. I had heard rave reviews about Organic Glam make up, for those of you who don't know they are the make up brand to the sister company The Organic Pharmacy who make high end natural and organic skincare. 

    First thing to say about this palette is that it is tiny a total of four grams of product to be exact, but the size and the fact that it comes in sturdy plastic packaging does mean that it is very travel friendly. I have the Smokey quad and you get a nice selection of shades, a dark grey/black with a hint of fine glitter, a sparkly brilliant white, a very light taupey brown which has very pretty purple undertones and  a matte neutral colour which leans a little to the yellow side. All the shades a decent amount of pigmentation although in my opinion the darker colour is a little disappointing, they all apply and blend well and you can create a few different eye looks with the colours meaning it is quite versatile. They are nice but there is nothing about these that blows me away, I definitely felt underwhelmed by them considering how excited I was to get them. 

    Now I will admit that I asked for these without having read an ingredients list, I read a review of the face powder which was talc and silicone free and assumed these would be the same but when I received my palette they were not, I was a little disappointed in the ingredients given the price of this is £32.95. I also can't seem to find the ingredients listed anywhere on-line neither the Organic Pharmacy themselves or Naturisimo seem to list them so when I came to writing this review I went to search for the outer packaging to list them for you and annoyingly I can't seem to find it. I am on the fence about this product really, this is a fairly big company and for the price I think you could do better for your money in terms of ingredients even if I don't have a problem with the performance, not being able to find the ingredients listed is always a bit of a turn off for me, so my advice would be if you are keen on this brand and have particular preferences when it comes to ingredients you will need to think carefully and research individual products. 

    I did manage to find a blog post with an INCI so I have linked that for you to take a look at here, you can probably see why I was underwhelmed. My favourite pressed eye shadows still come from Green people, you can see my review here but I am also going to be getting some of the new Lily Lolo pressed eye shadows to try out soon. So there we have it not a terrible product but not one that I will be buying again, the search for the perfect eye products continue! You can find the range at Naturisimo

Ana x 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Therapi Rose Otto Honey Skincare review

    Just before Christmas I received the most amazing package from the brand Therapi with some of the products from their gorgeous Rose Otto range, I previously reviewed their Orange blossom range and the products are simply divine (see review here) so I was curious to see how the Rose Otto would fair in comparison. Therapi have three ranges in total the third range is one that I haven't tried and that is the Lemon Myrtle range which is aimed at a more oily skin, all three ranges are based on the benefits of honey and this range is first and foremost about the makers of the honey, the bees themselves which is reflected in the beautiful logo and in the brands ethos. Tania Hawkes the founder is a passionate bee keeper turned skincare alchemist, I am a lover of bee beauty and there are plenty of small brands that are bee keepers and also make handmade products, but I have never seen another that has tapped in to the more luxurious end of the skincare market like Therapi has, from the minute I saw the brand I knew I wanted to try the products and they have not disappointed.

    Therapi donate 5% of their yearly profit to Bee conservation projects, it is no secret that the humble honey bee on which we rely so heavily to pollinate our crops is struggling in the wild, this is worrying for so many reasons but the brand has a genuine passion to help the situation which is always lovely to see.

    I have been using all of the products from the Rose Otto range for the past couple of months, the products are gorgeous I can't hide my love for this brand and I can see it going from strength to strength.

    Rose Otto honey gel cleanser (£25 for 100 mls) I had a couple of samples of this cleanser from purchases I had made so this wasn't sent to me by Therapi, but I thought it would be useful to share my thoughts and compare it to the orange blossom cleanser at the same time. This has the same gorgeous gel consistency as the orange blossom cleanser and is cooling and soothing on the skin, the main difference is the scent and that the rose Otto is a touch more hydrating and more suited to dry and sensitive skins. It has a light Rose scent, I personally would have been happy if it was more strongly scented in the same way as the Orange Blossom line, but this is more subtle so if you don't like Rose I would urge to try a sample anyway as this way pleasantly surprise you. It leaves the skin soft and clean and bright, I think they are perfect morning cleansers but can be used any time of day and I always look forward to washing my face with these products. 

    Rose Otto Hydrating facial Toner* (£25 for 100 mls) This is a gorgeous Rose water toner, it smells beautiful, this is a fresh cut rose type scent which is lovely. It can be used like a traditional toner and also as a refreshing spray, I love this toner, it is on the upper end of my budget for a toner but I just can't resist a good rosewater spray and this one is excellent. I did feel the hydrating effects as you would with any quality hydrosol and I love the packaging, it is stunning. This is the kind of product I would buy if I was feeling flush, the toners do seem a little more expensive than the moisturisers or the cleansers which I would say are incredible value for the quality but in terms of effectiveness I love this product and don't have a bad word to say about it. 

    Rose Otto Honey Moisturiser* (£30 for 50 mls) Just like the cleanser I didn't find the scent of this to be overly rosey although it is very pleasant, it has rose geranium and sandalwood and it is a fairly subtle scent. Just like the Orange Blossom moisturiser I really think the formula of this is spot on, I found it hydrating and a perfect base for make up. If you are unsure of which to choose I think possible this would be better if you have more sensitive skin because it is less scented but honestly I use the two interchangeably, or at least I did because my samples of the Rose moisturiser are now all gone. This is a beautiful product and well priced considering the quality, Apricot kernel oil, Shea butter, coconut oil and honey are just a few of the gorgeous ingredients used, the list really does read wonderfully. 

    Therapi Propolis+ Ultra radiance cream* (£35 for 50 mls) This is a product I have been raving about to anyone who would listen on Twitter and I have to say it is THE product that takes this line from good to amazing. This isn't a cream I use every day although you can do if your skin is very dry, but I like to use it like a face mask or a treatment, if ever my skin is looking dull, dry or dehydrated this cream is now my go to product. It's hard to describe the consistency of this cream, it is extremely rich, it is packed with propolis which has a rejuvenating effect and honey which is anti-bacterial and moisturising, it does take a little while to absorb so I use it like a Face mask but don't tend to wash it off, instead a apply a small amount and let it absorb slowly. Despite the richness of this product my skin seems to crave this now and it feels like it's quenching it's thirst, it's excellent at reducing redness and will leave you with a beautiful glow, no matter what state my skin is before using this, it never fails me and it always looks it best when I have finished. I use this very sparingly and you get great results, especially after exfoliation, if you have dry or mature skin and only try one product from the line, this in my opinion should be it. 

    Beautiful Soil Association Certified organic products that also help the bees, that is Therapi honey skincare, both the Orange Blossom and the Rose Otto ranges are highly recommended by me.

Ana x

*Samples provided for my consideration
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