Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Posts tagged ‘Natural’

Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps – Which is your fave?

Dr Bronner Magic Castile Liquid 18 Soaps

LtoR – Almond, Rose, Citrus Orange, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint.

Who doesn’t love Dr Bronner’s Magic Castile Soaps, from those who’ve tried them? (‘Castile’ refers to olive oil based soaps made in the same/similar style to that originally in Castile, Spain.)

Dr Bronner’s soaps are some of the best known all natural, environmentally friendly and vegan friendly soaps on the market. They have a ton of uses but are officially recorded to have ’18-in-1′ uses and are also packaged with the most unique labelling I’ve ever seen. There’s so much information packed onto the label template that there’s no space and it’s full of his philosophy, I don’t agree with all of it but it makes an interesting read.

I’ve used all seven of the classic ones with the Almond and Lavender being my favourites and the Rose and Tea Tree coming a close second. They share the ingredients below along with their title top note:

INGREDIENTS: Water, Saponified Organic Coconut*, Organic Palm* and Organic Olive* Oils (w/Retained Glycerin), Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Essential Oils**, Citric Acid, Vitamin E

I like that they come in a variety of practical sizes, liquids and solid soaps, and are very good value for money both in price and quality – they are much more economical than many of the other healthy alternative soaps I’ve tried and last a long time. I initially found them too drying/strong for my skin when using ‘normal’ amounts but quickly realized a few drops were more than enough and cleaned just as well. They also have a rich and sizable amount of lather, which isn’t necessary in soap at all but it makes it easier for those trying natural soaps after having gotten used to commercial soaps that have synthetic ingredients added specifically to make lather. Basically, people have gotten used to it and like it so having it naturally is a bonus.

I find these soaps particularly helpful to take out with me in a small bottle or as refills. Before I was vegan I never liked the soaps at work or public places with their awful colours, textures, smells and questionable quality but was too lazy to take my own. Then I went vegan and had to take my own soap and found these ones beneficial.

What are the 18-in-1 uses?

Dr. Bronner recorded the “18 in 1 uses” on his label, which we have left mostly intact since his passing in 1997; however, people have told us many, many more uses for it than that. Here is his version.

Dr. Bronner’s version:Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath! Peppermint is nature’s own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant! A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean! A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash! Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach! Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, Douche. Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart. Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe – keeps cool! 3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables! 1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!

Which of the recommendations have you tried and have you tried other ways? I’ve used them for hands/face, shower, shampoo, washing clothes and general household cleaning like surfaces. I love the idea of trying them on fruit/veg! I’ve never used the solid soap bars so would be interested in reading your views on those.

Renowned for their quality, versatility and eco-friendliness, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps enjoyed a small but loyal following in the early years. In the late 1960s, however, soap sales started to explode, due to the unsurpassed ecological quality combined with Dr. Bronner’s urgent message to realize our transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides. Word-of-mouth soon made Dr. Bronner’s the iconic soap of that era, and in the decades that followed the soaps spread into every health food store in the U.S. and then into the mainstream as well — winning over fans from all walks of life on the way to becoming the number-one-selling natural brand of soap in North America.

Link (if you want to know more about the history, look at the timeline tab it’s very interesting!)


MuLondon Promotion – Send in a review for freebies!

MuLove = free MuLondon products & accessories (worldwide)


I love a company that listens to its customers and rewards them and so was happy to be informed about a great promotion from the fabulous MuLondon.

Here’s what you do and what you get:

– Video review (2 minutes+): FREE MuLondon product + accessory of your choice, sent to anywhere in the world! Worth £35+.

– Text review (100 words+) with an image of you and your MuLondon product: £8 MuLondon voucher + T-shirt or a cosmetic bag! Worth £18.

– Text review (100 words+): £3 MuLondon voucher + small coin purse! Worth £8.

Outstanding videos and images will get extra prizes! Worldwide entries are welcome.


Make your submissions through my contact page: http://www.mulondon.com/contact/ – Mark your entry “MuLove” and enclose the links to your image or video. You will get a personal response within 48 hours.

Text reviews need to be at least 100 words. Images should be submitted as high-resolution files, at least 800x800px. Videos can be uploaded via YoutTube or Vimeo and need to be at least 2 minutes long and in English. This promotion is available worldwide and subject to quality control. Complimentary accessories are sent out with your next order. MuLondon reserves the right to disqualify invalid or inappropriate entries. One submission per person per month. The promotion applies to new reviews only. By submitting text, images and video, you grant MuLondon the rights to use these. That said – have fun, be creative – and please share to let your friends know.

For more info about the promotion, prizes and tips go HERE

Bomb Cosmetics – They are ‘da domb!’ (and make great gifts)

I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to bomb cosmetics recently, by the same friend who introduced me to Lush years ago (thank you friend!) and wow – I was impressed.

Bomb cosmetics have a wide variety of delightful and delicious looking (don’t eat them!) products that really appeal both asthetically and nutritionally for your body. Just looking at their product displays is somewhat overwhelming, it’s like being a child on their first trip to a candy store. The designs, colours, smells and for an adult, knowing that the company is one with values.

Now I’m the kind of person that likes to give gifts, for whatever reason or even no reason, if I like someone (and sometimes even if I don’t lol) I like to give gifts. It’s just my nature and I’m always looking for ethically minded gifts that people in general will like, whether we share the same ethics or not. That way I’m not going against my principles and the recipient still gets something truly beautiful and enjoyable.

From Bomb Cosmetics I think that the Bomb Cosmetics Luxury Ballotin Assortment Bath Gift Set would make an excellent introductory purchase or gift since it lets you can try six of their best selling cocoa and shea butter based bath products for a much lower price than if you bought them separately – bargain!


The set includes:

Rose Bath Creamer, Purple Bath Mallow, Marigold Bath Creamer, Rosebud Buttercup, Pink Bath Gem and Jade/Turquoise Bath Gem. Great for some luxuriating bath times and all vegan friendly.

OR for the more creative and quirky tastes there is:


The Bomb Cosmetics Soap Paint Gift Pack is a gift set with three colours; rich raspberry (pink), crunchy apple (green) and oceanic wave (blue).  They are fruity, rich and cleansing soap paints are enriched with essential oils and make bath time for fun especially if bath time is shared (not suitable for children of 3 and under).

Some more info about their company:


One of life’s necessities but also one of life’s greatest pleasures. At Bomb Cosmetics we believe bathing is a time to indulge, a time to reflect upon and enjoy those increasingly rare opportunities to spend a little quality time by yourself. But being a little selfish and enjoying some “me time” doesn’t need to come at a price to the environment.

Environmental Issues

At Bomb Cosmetics, we aim to run our business in the most environmentally friendly manner possible. For example, the card we use in our products has a minimum recycled content of 70%. We use glass, aluminium and PET for our jars and bottles, all of which are easily recycled.

Animal Testing

Animals shouldn’t suffer because we choose to take these little pleasures in life. We ensure that none of our suppliers test our ingredients on animals by committing to a fixed cut off date policy in line with major animal right groups recommendations. We never will and never have tested our finished products on animals. We will support raw material manufacturers who fund alternative methods of testing the raw materials we buy.

Our manufacturing is very simple – we make everything by hand.

All of our products are mixed, pressed, moulded, rolled and shaped by hand. We don’t use anyone else to make our products and all of our products are made in our factories by our own trained staff. This way, we make sure our product quality is of the highest order – all of our products are 100% inspected before they are packed.

Our commitment to animal rights and the protection of our environment are commitments we take very seriously.

Hand Made Soaps

Our soaps are all made by hand in our own factory by hand. Each block is poured by hand, and then sliced by hand. All the shapes you see in the slices are made of soap and they are made by hand too. We use the finest quality ingredients and essential oils to make our soaps. They all contain Glycerine (from Palm oil) which is proven to lock moisture into the skin, meaning our soaps moisturise while gently cleansing your skin. They are very mild, having a pH of around 7 which is neutral. Our soaps contain the very finest perfume oils which means they leave your bathroom smelling fantastic, even when they are not being used. Why not treat yourself and find out how good they really are?

We take the art of bathing seriously

At Bomb Cosmetics we take the art of bathing seriously. Whether you want to relax after a hard day, refresh yourself before you go out or just lock yourself away for a little time to pamper yourself, we have designed our products with all of these situations in mind.

Our aim is to design products that make you feel special every time you use them. We combine fragrances that make your mouth water, or remind you of special times, or simply make you smell divine, with the finest, carefully selected essential oils.

And to complement our fragrances, we use natural ingredients like Cocoa Butter, rare oils like Gold of Pleasure and exotic naturals like Tabatinga White Clay which is harvested from the rainforests of the Amazon in a sustainable manner.

Their ingredients are not 100% natural but they are head and shoulders above many of the normal high street brands. This is a great introduction into the world of natural health.

They also sell soaps, face/body cosmetics and fragrances; a one stop shop for skincare 🙂


Weleda Products Review – Oils and Body Wash

Weleda Goodies – Mini Oils and Creamy Body Wash

Weleda is the world’s leading producer of anthroposophical medicines and natural cosmetics. We exist to serve humanity and the world as a whole. We believe that every human is a unique individual, connected to the world in body, soul and spirit.

For the past ninety years we have been working in harmony with nature and the human being, using the purest natural ingredients to create meaningful products that enhance your body’s own vitality and the ability to nurture and heal.

100% Pure and Natural. All our products are certified natural by Nature and we aim to use only the purest wild-crafted, biodynamic or organically grown ingredients.
– No petroleum derived ingredients
– No synthetic chemicals
– No synthetic preservatives
– No synthetic fragrances
– No GMOs
– Never tested on animals

Disclaimer: I was kindly sent these sample size goodies by Weleda PR but all thoughts and opinions are my own after having tested the products. All of the products tested are vegan friendly.

Weleda Oils Body Wash Rose Lavender Sea Buckthorn Pomegranate Sweet Almond

Oils that do the business! 10ml

I am a big fan of natural oils, for food, skincare and healing so I was more than a little excited to try these and I have to say that I was and continue to be very impressed. They are packaged in small yet solid glass bottles/vials, with a leaflet inside a cardboard box.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Ingredients – Sesame Seed Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Fragrance* Limonene*, Linalool*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Benzyl Salicylate*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Farnesol*. (*From natural essential oils)

This was the first oil I tried and even after having used many oils, I was still a Sea Buckthorn oil newbie and for the first time in a long time I had a ‘Wow’ feeling after using this. I hadn’t really moisturized that much during the Summer heat especially not with oils but with the change in temperature my skin was ready for some pampering nourishment and it got it, and then some, with this oil.

It is a bright Orange rich/heavy oil with a subtle (and imo lovely), slightly heady smell. I primarily used it overnight, first cleansing my skin and then putting a little on before going to sleep, and when I woke up in the morning had the pleasant surprise of glowing and ultra soft skin. For the first week I woke up to these lovely results and my skin also looked a little fuller (alas with age the face tends to get more defined and the ‘rounded’ face of youth becomes a memory). After that my skin stopped glowing and the youthful look wasn’t as pronounced but my skin was still extremely soft whilst looking and feeling well nourished. I also found it especially helpful to use after steaming e.g. having a bath, when the skin needed moisturizing more this oil really stepped up to the plate and my skin did not feel like it lost anything through the exposure to water.

Overall I’d give this product a 9/10 because it does what it says on the packaging though I would have liked the initial reactions to have lasted a bit longer before my skin got used to it. But anything that naturally makes my skin both look and feel younger has my appreciation!

Sea Buckthorn Body Oil. Intensely nourishes and revitalizes. Helps skin regain its natural vitality.

Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil

Ingredients – Jojoba Seed Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Wheat Germ Oil, Macadamia Seed Oil, Millet Seed Extract, Fragrance*, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Sunflower Petal Extract, Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Limonene*, Linalool*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Coumarin*, Farnesol. (*From natural essential oils)

As you can see this particular product is like an oil powerhouse. I don’t usually use so many in combination as I find, even with the best ingredients they can have different effects and some ingredients will downplay or overwhelm others hence it’s hard to get the full range of benefits. However, using this product showed me that the recipe was balanced and complimentary in its effect.

This oil is the more traditional Yellowish tone and has a strong scent that reminds me of sweets/candy but with a sourness too. I used it mostly as an overnight product due to its ‘richness’ and because of all the different oils included I was slightly worried about how long it would take to absorb. It turns out that I was right and that it served best overnight on my ‘normal’ skin (not too dry or greasy), as well as an after-steam moisturizer.

It didn’t have the same ‘Wow’ factor as the Sea-Buckthorn but I was still more than pleased with it – I had the initial (though shorter lasting than the Sea-Buckthorn) ‘glow’ that I tend to have when trying new products and deeply moisturized feeling but the difference was that with product the softness lasted all day. I’d top up my skin’s condition with cream/lotion after washing, but overall the skin was still soft so I didn’t need to use as much. With long term use I’d guess that I wouldn’t need to top up with lotion as much because the oil would improve the overall condition of my skin.

Overall I’d rate this as 8/10 – it does what it says on the box and over time I think would be good value for both younger and mature skin but with the combination of oils might noticeably work differently for different people.

Pomegranate Regenerating Body Oil. Promotes skin renewal. Helps to increase appearance of skin firmness.

Almond Soothing Facial Oil

Ingredients – Sweet Almond Oil, Plum Seed Oil, Blackthorn Flower Extract

When I read the ingredients list on this one I thought ‘now this is my kind of product’ – I like such lists to have few and whole ingredients, though that is just my preference and I’m not adverse to longer lists as long as they show quality over quantity.

As many of you will know sweet almond oil makes an excellent base for other oils that need to be used more sparingly and as such it is quite mild and suitable for many skin types. I therefore knew that I could use it more casually than the Sea Buckthorn and Pomegranate oils and was happy to see it combined with what I’ve read as ‘super’ nourishing and beneficial ingredients. It has a very light Yellow tone and very subtle smell that I can’t quite figure out what it reminds me of – but nevertheless should please those who dislike fragrant products.

I used this particularly after the temperature/climate significantly told us ‘Winter is here’ when my facial skin was feeling sensitive and a bit sore. I found the oil to be gentle and soothing like a light barrier, and it absorbed quite quickly with some massaging. It didn’t act so much as a preventative or very protective shield for the cold as it did a soothing balm but it isn’t supposed to be – it worked well for what is was/is, all day mid-level to cold (but not too cold) weather conditioner and buffer for sensitive to normal skin. Coupled with warm clothing it did the business.

Overall I’d give this a 7.5/10 because again this product does what it claims is a gentle general/all purpose oil but does not have the extra noticeable benefits that many are looking for nowadays like regained youthfulness, extra softening, sustained results over time, firmness yet elasticity etc. (Note – the full facial oil product size is 50ml, whereas the body oils reviewed are 100ml.)

Almond Soothing Facial Oil. Calms and nourishes sensitive skin. Ideal to use an eye makeup remover.

Lavender Relaxing Body Oil

Ingredients – Sweet Almond Oil, Sesame Seed Oil, Lavender Oil, Fragrance*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Geraniol*, Coumarin*. (*From natural essential oils)

Lavender is well known for its relaxing yet uplifting properties for both the skin and the mind. What is lesser known about it is that it has anti-sceptic and anti-inflammatory properties – two things that I gladly welcomed when for the first time in years my lips were invaded by cold sores! Perhaps its age combined with life and the quick change in whether we experienced in the UK recently but whatever the reason(s) I was not happy about them and was glad that I had a helper, in the form of Lavender oil on hand. In addition to using it as a shield on the more exposed parts of the body (hands, face and neck) I carefully used it around the cold sores (both when fresh and after having dried and turned into scabs) and noticed that even though the cold sores were still present and stayed as long as cold sores do, there wasn’t any actual ‘soreness’ to the skin. It didn’t hurt or later itch when using the oil and most importantly they didn’t spread or resurface in later infections.

The oil has a barely Yellow tone and doesn’t have as strong a smell as other branded Lavender oils I’ve used but that may be because there are two oils before the Lavender in the Weleda version whereas I am used to one base/carrier oil.

Overall I’d rate this as an 8/10. The oil isn’t as softening as other oils but it’s special in its soothing/calming properties and health care value, also a little goes a long way and it absorbs quicker than heavier oils. The main point I’m unsure about is based on people’s preferences – if you prefer a bigger dose of lavender this may not be for you as it is more subtle than others I’ve tried, but on the other hand a milder version might just be what you are looking for.

Lavender Relaxing Body Oil. Soothes and calms. Helps to reduce tension and harmonize the mind.

Wild Rose Body Oil

Ingredients – Jojoba Seed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, Rosa Damascena (Rose) Flower Oil, Fragrance*, Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Benzyl Alcohol*, Benzyl Benzoate*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Eugenol*, Farnesol*. (*From natural essential oils)

I had’t been too impressed with many other rose products that I’d tried so far but that was until I tried this rose oil…

The first things I noticed was that this oil has quite a strong Yellow colour and the smell, wow the smell – The first time I opened the bottle and got a waft of the scent I thought ‘beautiful’ and then when I put it on the palms of my hands to put on my face and it warmed with the temperature, only then did I realize fully how beautiful the aroma is. It is enchanting and I can see why rose oils have been used since ancient times to attract one’s love interest. It really is like walking into a rose garden every time I use it.

The oil is fairly absorbent and doesn’t take too long to sink in with massaging so I was able to use it during the day (hands, face and neck) as well as overnight. I noticed that not only was my skin very soft, it was also smooth and more taut. There were a few nights during the testing period where I was too tired to moisturize before bed and where I didn’t sleep in good positions i.e. I ended up sleeping on my face but the following mornings I noticed that the tautness remained from the day use of the rose oil, all the way through the night and to the next morning. My skin would be drier than when I’d first applied it but as soon as I got up it went straight back into place rather than leaving sleep lines.

Overall I’d give this 10/10 – again it’s a Weleda oil that does was it says on the box, but it also has everything my skin needs. It’s moisturising, nourishing, improves the skin’s aging condition, is absorbent, long lasting and smells heavenly.

Wild Rose Body Oil. Pampering care. Helps improve skin’s suppleness and elasticity leaving it smooth and radiant.

(From advertising received) Musk rose oil is rich in skin-caring essential fatty acids, and helps stimulate the skin’s natural functions. The Wild Rose Smoothing Facial Care range contains a selection of products to protect, moisturise and care intensively for delicate skin. The scent is uplifting, refreshing and feminine. It takes three tonnes of fresh rose petals to make just one litre of precious essential oil of rose.

Weleda’s European beauty consultant, Lilith Schwertle, explains: “In our 30s the skin retains still its youthful resilience and elasticity but is also starting to show the fist signs of ageing, mostly around the eyes. Our unique facial characteristics are beginning to form. The skin may not glow as much as it used to in our 20s, and may be drier. At this time it’s important to support the regenerating processes in the skin with ingredients high in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as Rosa Mosqueta seed oil. This helps skin stay elastic and firm, strengthens the skin and builds up the protective barrier functions. Rose seed oil has also been traditionally used to counteract and reduce scar tissue and pigmentation, and to stimulate skin cell renewal. This nourishing oil contains vitamins A and E which help minimise the signs of ageing. Rosa Mosqueta helps the skin to maintain a harmonious balance.”

Shower Special

Pomegranate Creamy Body Wash 20ml

Ingredients: Water, Coco-Glucoside, Sesame Seed Oil, Alcohol, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Sunflower Seed Oil, Glycerin, Fragance*, Carrageenan, Macadamia Seed Oil, Pomegranate Seed Oil, Millet Seed Extract, Sunflower Petal Extract, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid (non-milk, plant based [confirmed by Weleda PR]), Limonene*, Linalool*, Citronellol*, Geraniol*, Citral*, Coumarin*. (*From natural essential oils)

For those special minutes showering each morning that I need to wake me up properly, I also worry about losing skin moisture. I’ve tried a number of shower cleansers and have liked very few. In this case as the name said it was creamy, and soft – but not only that, it actually felt somewhat revitalizing. I say somewhat because in general I use just enough and don’t lather up in soapy way but it’s enough to make me feel more awake and alive lol.

My skin felt instantly softer underneath it and retained some of that softness after toweling dry, unlike a number of other products I’ve tried where none of the softness stayed once washed off. The smell wasn’t one I particularly cared for as it was a tangy sweet smell that generally reminded me of lozenges but as I no longer use anything with artificial perfumes/fragrances, I appreciate that it’s the smell of natural ingredients and it doesn’t last after the wash. However my skin quickly got ‘used’ to this product and the post-towel softness decreased.

Overall I give this product a 6.5/10 because I have products that moisturize more, are more creamy and luxurious feeling and I personally enjoy the smell of more (which hence serves to enhance my mornings). The product also doesn’t really say ‘pomegranate’ to me, but it does clean and softens well whilst washing. The full size product is 200ml (in recyclable plastic) and this sample lasted just over a week so it would have been long last and value for money had I bought a full sized squeezy tube.

Here are choice quotes I found interesting from the advertising I received:

Enjoy this ultra-creamy cleanser with the confidence that the eco-friendly ingredients are as gentle on the planet as they are on skin. In standard shower gels the foaming agents – tensides – can adversely affect the environment as well as upset your skin’s natural balance. But the genuinely natural cleansing agents in this Weleda body wash are especially mild, are made from sugar and coconut, are quickly and entirely biodegradable and ecologically-sound even for aquatic life. Unlike many shower gels which can irritate delicate skin due to their high alkali content, this creamy body wash is naturally pH balanced, and it’s also free from sulphates (SLS/SLES) which are known skin irritants.

Weleda’s organic pomegranate comes from the fertile valleys in the coastal region of Icel in southern Turkey. This thriving fair trade farming partnership ensures Weleda has a top quality supply of organic pomegranate, and guarantees the farmers a reliable income. Harvesting begins just after dawn, the crop is hand picked, carefully and laboriously, to ensure the best quality fruit. The juice is extracted (for Weleda’s new hydrating Pomegranate Facial Serum) and the seeds are then dried before they are cold pressed to extract the valuable oil for this Creamy Body Wash. To produce just 1kg of the precious oil requires 500kg of pomegranates.

As aforementioned, Weleda caters to people in general, not just specific target groups and so they also offer cosmetic lines for Mother and Baby Care, Mens skincare, Oral Care (for all people) and natural Medicine (helping issues like muscular pain, stress, upset stomach, first aid and coughs/colds) and homeopathic remedies. One particular line I’m interested in are their additive free, sugar free (diabetic friendly) juices and elixirs – some of which are also honey free (vegan friendly). So if anyone has tried them please let me know!

I hope, dear reader, that you have found this review helpful and interesting; my thanks to you and to Weleda PR for giving me the opportunity to review these products.

All the best!

Urtekram Olive Hand & Body Lotion – Lasting Lovliness

Urtekram – Olive hand and body lotion 245ml (used to be 250ml)

This is a company that really seems to care, not just about the quality  of their products but about the consequences of their actions and  manufacturing. For those of us that don’t have gardens and have  limited indoor/outdoor space or those without access to farmer’s  markets and so it’s harder to make our own cosmetics – companies like  this are fantastic.

 Urtekram Manifesto Values
Urtekram Ecology

Reading through the sections on the above links are impressive, they  state and give examples of how they care not only about the quality of  their products but also the individual steps in how they made from the  ground to the factory to shipping/exporting. Awesome!

The lotion itself is an Ivory/Cream colour and has a medium texture, meaning it’s not thin and liquidy or it’s not thick and creamy. It absorbs quickly and instantly makes the skin look younger, softer and somewhat radiant. A little goes a long way and I can use it frequently  throughout the day without taking too much time and it keeps that  fresh/youthful look all day, or I can use it at longer intervals and it will keep my skin looking younger and softer but obviously isn’t as soft/radiant as when I use it more, it also depends on how many times you wash your hands. I find that it is also easily absorbed into my nails and makes them look shinier, which is nice since I have fairly long nails but I rarely decorate them.

I’ve been using this for months and unlike many other products I’ve tried the effect was not only immediate but long lasting. Most products I’ve tried have had a very nice instant hydrating, moisturizing and youthful effect but after a while it’s like my skin gets used to it and the effect decreases – meaning that even just after I put it on, my skin doesn’t look or feel as nice as it did when I started using the product. I have yet to find a product that actually has anti-aging effects whereby the skin stays soft and supple after washing, most products maintain the skin until I wash my hands for example but this one has had the same effect through continuous use and the effect lasts the longest. That is especially important to me as I dehydrate quickly (it must be all that hot bloodedness… Hehe.)

The rest of my body likes this lotion as much as my hands, and my skin appreciates the instant hydration as well as long term moisturizing effect it has. I find it helpful for drier areas such as elbows, knees and ankles/feet. It combines nicely with oil or body butters and helps them absorb faster so you don’t have to sit around massaging/rubbing the skin for ages before being able to move around or change clothes.

I’ve tried other lotions in their various ranges e.g. the Rose, Lavender, Aloe and Chamomile lotions. An interesting note is that all the aforementioned are labeled as ‘body lotions’ whereas the Olive is the only hand and body one. That might be because, in my opinion, is it the most moisturizing/strongest one. The others are excellent too and display the properties of their namesake e.g the soothing/’cooling’ effects of Lavender and Chamomile for itchy or irritated skin, but they aren’t as ‘rich’ as olive oil, a characteristic which makes it particularly helpful for areas that show aging the most, like hands.


Water, glycerine*, olive oil*, jojoba oil*, shea butter”, olive oil and palm oil products, apricot kernel oil*, lecithin, pea flour*, broccoli seed oil*, lavender oil*, anisic acid, citric acid, vegetable vitamin E. Nothing else.
* = Organic Farming

(the list below is the same above, just with their scientific names)

Aqua, glycerin*, olea europaea oil*, simmondsia chinensis oil*, butyrospermum parkii butter*, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, prunus armeniaca kernel oil*, cetyl alcohol, lysolecithin, pisum sativum*, brassica oleracea italica seed oil*, glyceryl caprylate, lavandula angustifolia oil* (aroma*), p-anisic acid, sodium citrate, lavandula hybrida oil*, citric acid, tocopheryl acetate, limonene”, linalool”
* = ingredient from Organic farming
” = ingredient from essential oils

100% of the total of the ingredients are of natural origin
20% of the total of the ingredients proceed from Organic Agriculture.

Natural and Organic Cosmetics certified by ECOCERT Greenlife according to ECOCERT Standard available at cosmetics.ecocert.com

The only ingredient that I’m not sure about is the ‘palm oil products’ – as many of you know, the manufacturing of palm oil has been very destructive and the qualiy has been questionable with it being used commonly as a filler with little value. However there are companies, such as Lush, that use palm oil from sustainable farming. Side note  – unfortunately I have never seen a cosmetic product that states where the water comes from or how it is treated e.g. if it is filtered.

They also have a non-perfumed body lotion, in which it seems they use alcohol instead of an essential oil (which gives the fragrance in the others, it’s not a ‘perfume’ as in a synthetic perfume made up of lot’s of unnamed ingredients), as well as a non-perfumed baby lotion, a children’s lotion and a family sized lotion.

In Conclusion

I find this essential, as both a stand alone product and as a partner to thicker/oilier emollients. It can be used throughout the day, for pick-me-ups and overnight. The skin doesn’t become dry again too quickly after using and with long term use keeps the skin softer overall.

It’s cost effective in comparison to other products of a similar type and size. I’ve never paid over £6 for a bottle and I find many online stores give a discount when buying a few of them. Most other products I’ve seen in similar sizes are noticeably higher priced and their ingredients lists aren’t always as impressive, so this is a star buy for me.

PLUS – They do food too! You can see on their website that they make pasta, muesli, cereal flakes and rice cakes too – how cool is that?


Argan oil – giving it a go!

Olinia Argan Oil 100ml – cold pressed, organic certified by Ecocert

I’ve been hearing a lot about Argan oil (from the Argania Spinosa tree in     Morocco) and the opportunity to buy   some presented itself recently, so I  decided to see what all the hype was  about. As a regular user of a variety of  oils, I’m quite content and so wasn’t in a  rush to try Argan oil, which is why I’ve  left it until now but two main factors  persuaded me to go for it; firstly the  price (£8.38 from eBay) and secondly the brand was a  Vegan Society registered one. Now I  know it’s just a single ingredient oil and  before I buy any cosmetic the  prerequisite is that it has to be ethical  and natural, so there was no need to buy  a specified vegan brand. An ‘accidentally  vegan’ brand would have been fine (one that doesn’t have certification but is still vegan friendly) but I thought I’d show some support to a company that has gone through the hoops to make itself obviously available to those who need the clarification or to people starting in ethical and natural products. So basically, for me, this was a bargain.

The container/bottle itself is plastic with airless pump – I usually prefer dark glass bottles but this was an impulse buy. However the same brand has smaller amounts available in the type of packaging I prefer – 30ml and 50ml in screw-top bottle. I went with the 100ml one because I use a fair bit of oil and because I didn’t notice the smaller ones ’til after I’d paid, ha!

The oil is cold pressed and filtered/decanted, which the company explains HERE, I found that page very helpful and informative. As far as I know there are also two other methods; the expeller and unrefined. The expeller method uses a higher heat than cold pressing and is more economical than cold pressing. I prefer unrefined, because I like that the oils solidify when cold or room temp, the strong flavour (and nutritional content for food purposes) and the rich smell they have (no added perfumes) is to me, indicative of quality. However, I’ve found it quite hard to find unrefined oils and cold pressing seems to be the more common option for organic products.

Tried everyday for 1 week on face, hair & hands.

Some of the oils I usually use on my skin and hair are coconut (in warm/hot weather), carrot, olive, neem, jojoba, tea tree, avacado and ginger, and some of those are blended sweet almond oil as a base. My skin type is normal, though it used to be problem skin. My hair type is thick/coarse, curly Asian and is bleached (the exception to my natural ethos alas) though I leave to grow out a fair bit before doing the roots (thank goodness for the ombre trend being popular!)

The bottle label reads ‘Use only 1-2 drops on skin, hair and nails’. I personally find that very hard without a specific dropper insert in the neck of the bottle or a dropper pipette so I was skeptical at first, but tried as little as I could get out of the bottle in one go.

Face: the label reads: ‘Massage into skin using gentle circular motions’. I tried it on my face first and it left a nice healthy/well nourished looking, subtle sheen and was suitable to leave or put make up over. However, it’s not hydrating enough to use only that amount for a long period of time and would need touching up which would be difficult if you put make up over it but fine if you intend to wipe/clean your skin and re-apply e.g. from a day to evening look. For overnight use it would mean waking up and putting more on, so instead, I used more before I went to sleep.

Hair: the label reads: ‘Wash hair, towel dry, then apply through ends of hair using fingers.’ I personally use three methods for oil application on the hair.

1) Put it straight on the scalp and hair and do nothing else with it, let it sink in by itself and do its work.

2) Put the oil on and then a quick warm (not hot) blow dry.

3) Put the oil on and then have a bath so it steams into the hair.

Using those methods I found that, akin to other oils, it makes the hair softer and shinier but unfortunately like other oils in general it tends to make my scalp itch. I didn’t always have that issue and I used to use a lot of oily hairspray (Dark & Lovely mainly) on my hair and scalp but something changed as I got older – now very few things (incl. 1 oil) will sit comfortably on my scalp and this isn’t one of them.

Hands: the labels reads ‘Mix equal amounts of argan oil with lemon juice in a bowl to treat nails’. I haven’t tried this but I did use it on my hands and found it was nice and softening but enough for me and so I mixed it with my hand lotion and it worked better that way.

Observations: After a week’s regular use I’ve found that it’s comparable to other oils – which all have their own specific properties but in general are all nourishing and moisturizing. Like the other oils I use, it leaves the skin soft and makes my skin look/feel younger. It doesn’t make the skin look more taught/toned but it does seem to add a subtle, youthful radiance whereas other oils such a neem or tea tree give a more brightening/glowing radiance. Just a note – for those only just starting to use oils instead of, or in addition to other emollients, such as creams and whipped body butters – you may find that oils alone (and unwhipped) soften the skin but don’t visibly make it look softer or younger. Both my mother and I found that when we first started but that changed over time. Now it’s a case of hydration, where oils take time to sink in, and they soften and nourish but other emollients hydrate faster and make your skin feel quenched and refreshed. Shea and cocoa butter offer a balance have to be whipped or made into a cream to be softening, nourishing and hydrating, otherwise they are very thick, turn oily when warm and take a long time to absorb.

The one thing I definitely agree with from the information I’ve read, is that it is quick drying/absorbing – it’s the fastest absorbing oil I’ve come across when used in small amounts and so is very handy for commuting or traveling, you can touch stuff quickly afterwards without leaving greasy stains. I think it could be very handy for short trips when you don’t want to carry too many lotions and potions with you lol.

Conclusion: Argan oil, though an ancient oil (from a pre-hisoric tree), seems relatively new to the commercial market or at least, it has recently become popular and though it may have enjoyed the spotlight previously it is being lauded in the media as ‘miraculous’ and as if it were new. I don’t know if there are strict cultivation/production limits for it, but the advertising and production might be factors behind the price. From the range of prices I’ve seen it is approximately £10 per 100ml (on eBay), whereas I usually pay approx £4.50-£5 for 150ml refined oils (bricks and mortar shops), and £6-8 for 250-500ml organic/cold pressed (online). So far, even though I like the oil, it doesn’t seem to be any better or worse than the others I use, and since I tend to dehydrate easily I find I need to use more than recommended and so it would be more costly. I can use it with a cream or other oil to address that issue and it works well with other products I use but the same can be said for other oils, so there doesn’t seem to be much point. I’m not saying that it’s not value for money, from what I’ve read it’s a slow and difficult manual process, though with the production done by womens cooperatives and the introduction of mechanical aids it has gotten less time and labour consuming but I’d guess it is still hard work. Also, I read that:

‘It takes all the fruit from an average tree, about 250 pounds, to yield enough seeds for just one litre of oil. The fruit is traditionally harvested by entire Berber families.’ (moroccolondon.co.uk)

So it’s definitely value for money and I believe that oils are essential for both internal and external health, and organic oils using higher quality extraction methods are more pricey (what an upside down world we live in eh when using less ingredients and cultivating them in more natural ways is more expensive than using more – usually a lot more ingredients, many unhealthy – and not treating them). However, for the time being there doesn’t seem to be a greater benefit to using this over the others and because it’s out of my price range, for me personally, it doesn’t seem worth the investment. That might change though. I don’t give up on ethical and natural products just like that, I know that things don’t often happen overnight and that products will work differently and at different rates for different people, so I’d love to hear from any of you that have experienced the long term benefits or have any recommendations for different brands.

I think for external use the product may be best for people who need or prefer only a small amount of oil and who don’t use many other oils, that way they will probably reap more of the benefits. For myself, I think I may try using argan food oil (which is slightly roasted in production) if the price becomes less prohibitive (the same problem with cumin/black seed oil which I love). I would notice it more in my food as I use various oils for different tastes and cooking/preparation methods. For example I use sunflower oil as a base because it can stand high heats and safflower, grapeseed or flaxseed as finishers to add flavour or cold meals to retain the most nutritional content. I also use olive or macadamia as either a base or topper/finisher. I love the different tastes of oils and blend them with different herbs and spices, and depending on whether I’m making sweet, savoury or sweet/sour foods so I will probably enjoy it more that way.

Finishing note – remember that when using any natural product, I’ve found that the best way to experience as many of the benefits as possible is when also sticking to a healthy diet and lifestyle. I don’t always find that possible, and certainly not easy in the environments many live in, but overall I find I look and feel better when I manage it at least a little. 

Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s [Any activity] Shampoo & Conditioner

Aubrey Organics Swimmer’s Shampoo & Conditioner

I’m a big fan of Aubrey Organics, they’ve been around for 44 years and know what they’re doing, like it says on their products ‘100% natural since 1967’. They are against animal testing, they use biodegradable recyclable containers and many of their items are vegan. Their ingredient lists are also top notch, I find they use natural ways to overcome filler/bulking and solid to liquid issues, they don’t compromise on quality. They are a US based company and one of the best ‘known’ brands, though not mainstream/high street. I buy their products online from UK stockists.

Ok no:1) Swimmer’s Normalizing Shampoo for Active Lifestyles, ‘Gently removes chlorine, sale & perspiration to prevent dry, brittle hair’. The hair ‘type’ on the label is ‘Special Care – Stressed’. I’m not a swimmer but I first used this years ago after swimming on holiday and I have to say that my hair felt really clean after using this and I was worried about the impact of pool chemicals on my coloured blonde hair and recently done roots but I had no problems using this.  It also states on the bottle ‘Ideal for gray or blond hair. Safe for colour treated hair… Has your hair been overexposed? Sun, salt, chlorine and perspiration can take their toll on unprotected hair. Take cover from dryness and brittleness with this protective, PH-normalizing shampoo. Naturally removes chlorine, minerals and other impurities to neutralize odor, prevent discoloration and leave hair soft, rebalanced and revitalized’.

I’ve just bought this product again because I do a lot of exercise and it will be good to use after sweating. I find Aubrey shampoos very strong/stripping/cleansing so even though they recommend to shampoo twice and then condition I usually shampoo once. This particular shampoo features some of my favourite ingredients; coconut oil, shea butter, aloe vera and almond oil – excellent mix!

No:2) Swimmer’s Normalizing Conditioner for Active Lifestyles, ‘Protects & detangles to keep hair soft, healthy and shiny’. This works as most conditioners where you leave for 1-2min before rinsing or up to 15 min for deeper conditioning. After the strength of the shampoo, the conditioner is very welcoming and leaves my hair really soft. Both this and the shampoo are 325ml containers.

Additionally, I didn’t get to photograph them (as some have already been ‘borrowed’ and one’s in my bag somewhere) but I also got a bunch of samples including their Blue Chamomile Hydrating Shampoo, Green Tea & Ginkgo SPF15 Moisturiser for normal skin and Lumessence Eye Cream. Awesome! Aubrey is another company that gives samples to their buyers, and they are not tiny either so if you buy these from a stockist, don’t be afraid to ask.

A’Kin Hair Products – Conditioner & Vit Masque

A’Kin 24 Hour Leave-In Conditioner and Intensive Moisture Vitamin Masque

Don’t you just love it when you discover a shop near one of your usual locales like home or work has a whole range of a brand you like and isn’t always easy to find? Well I discovered A’kin that way in a pharmacy near my workplace 2-3 years ago and have been a fan since and if I can’t find what I’m looking for I can always buy online. A’kin is a an Australian brand from The Purist Company http://www.purist.com and from their own products it says:

‘A’kin products are free from sulphates, ethoxylates, parabens, propylene glycol, petrochemical cleansers, phthalates, DEA, silicones and artificial colours. A’kin products are ingredient rich, vegan, using organic ingredients where possible, 100% natural botanical aromatherapy and formulated without animal ingredients or animal testing.’

I mention this because as a long term vegan I’ve noticed that more and more people are becoming aware of what goes into their products and the cruelty free or animal free labels.

Ok so on to the products :)! Firstly, I intended to only top up on their ‘Lavender & Anthyllis 24 Hour Intensive Moisture Leave-In Conditioner for normal, dry and textured hair’ (so very versatile). Now when The Body Shop sold out to L’Oreal years ago and heavily reduced the sizes and upped the prices of their products as well as discontinued a bunch of favourites i.e. their Amlika Leave-In Hair Conditioner, it left me at a loss because I used that frequently. I have naturally curly coarse hair, it’s not rough but it’s thick and can be wiry (when I was little my mum used to put my hair in pigtails and I looked like Minnie Mouse lol and my aunt used to say I had bird’s nest hair) and I tend to use a lot of oil on it. However, the liquid/cream style conditioners are very helpful for quick maintenance and revitalisation when outside, so I tried lots of products until I found A’Kin 24 Leave-In Conditioner. It’s creamy, not watery and isn’t sticky or leaves a residue. It has a subtle smell but doesn’t make your hair smell like you’ve spritzed it with perfume.

It comes in 150ml squeezy containers and lasts a long time, I have long hair and it lasts because you don’t need to use much. It says on the front ‘Unique daily moisture care for all hair types with amino acids, anti-oxidants, herbal extracts & vitamins. Richly nurturing Australian jojoba & certified organic avocado oils add moisture & help defend your hair from heat styling & environmental damage. It will look smoother, shinier, curls defined, styles held longer, feel luxurious & soft.’ I can attest that it does what it says on the label. My only qualm is the ‘hydrolyzed wheat protein’ in the ingredients, even though it says GMO free I’m not a fan of hydrolysed and hydrogenated ingredients but like I said I use this as a quick fix and it’s still vastly superior to the ingredients/chemical formulations of mainstream/high street brands with things like formaldehyde in them. You also have to be aware that non-solid products such as creams, liquids, moisturisers/conditioners, shampoos etc will have to use some of the less favourable ingredients to give and sustain the liquid texture.

On to the second product! My friend has been moaning (um I mean pleasantly explaining) about her hair getting used to the products she uses and hence staying dry rather than getting the usual lustrous effect after the initial uses and quite frankly she was getting fed up. Now since I can’t rely on just getting my moisture from shampoo/conditioners and use other things after washing, when I saw A’kin ‘Ginkgo & Jojoba Intensive Moisture Vitamin Masque for hair that needs extra care’ I thought ‘hmm, she might like this’. Basically, after washing/drying your hair you put some of this in and leave for as little (5min) to as long (overnight) as you like and then wash out and style as usual. It says it can be used weekly. It also comes in a 150ml squeezy container and from what I know of their products a little should go a long way. It says on the front ‘Richly nurturing & caring ingredients such as pure Australian jojoba & certified avocado oils combine with ginkgo & white tea, vitamins E & B5, rice amino acids & wheat protein to help restore hair moisture & flexibility & maintain colours & perms. Your hair will look shiny, healthy & feel more smooth and manageable’. Sounds good eh!

As an extra bonus (since A’kin is delightful in itself) I received samples for ‘Ylang Ylang Shampoo for colour treated hair’ and ‘Macadamia & Wheat Protein treatment Conditioner for intensive care’. Never feel shy to ask for samples,  stockists/business buyers receive samples with their orders and it doesn’t hurt to ask if they have a sample of something.

Lush Massage Bars!

Therapy, Each Peach Twos a Pair

Lush Lush I love Lush. When I walk into a Lush store it’s like Charlie’s Chocolate Factory.

I remember my first time… it was like a sparkling dazzling sensation being awed by products that looked good enough to eat and I wanted one of everything. They display huge loaves/wheels of soap and open/chilled face masks so you can see what’s inside. The smell is also amazing, I always feel energised, revitalised and strangely happy when I’m in there though I know a few people who dislike it and it’s true that you can smell a Lush down the street lol. I like that Lush has gone from strength to strength although sadly they lost their sister company Be Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful (B Never for short) that specialised in awesome make up and other ornately fair trade/decorated cosmetics. They support a lot of causes and are against palm oil deforestation, they have excellent customer service all across the board from in-store to on the phone or online and they actually listen to customer feedback, taking on board requests and ideas. They also have schemes to reward recycling their containers, free gifts with purchases… and yes, sample heaven! Also, 70% of their products are vegan friendly. Note though, that all that glitters is not gold and though Lush is awesome they aren’t completely natural; it bothers me because they have/use a plethora of natural ingredients but they combine them with a lot of artificial colours, perfumes (remember when you see ‘perfume/parfum’ on a label that that one ingredient is itself made up of up to 100’s of ingredients, mostly synthetic and quite possibly unhealthy), SLS, ALS and parabens. That said, they are a gem amongst the high street and surpass The Body Shop in my opinion.

Products I bought – massage bars! Oo er ;).

1) Therapy Massage Bar – marketed as ‘Euphoria-inducing bar with uplifting neroli. Therapy is a wunder-bar, which we make to help your hard life get softer. First, it moisturises with cocoa and shea butters to make your hard skin get softer. Then, it softens your tensions with lavender and neroli oils – neroli is the one which gives you a feeling of euphoria, especially when you have someone massaging it into your shoulders. Give Therapy a try and you’ll feel better in no time. 100% certified organic.’ I haven’t tried this bar before so I’m looking forward to it and can smell the Lavender in it too as thankfully it isn’t scented/perfumed.

2) Each Peach and Two’s a Pair – bought this one for a friend (Lush products make great gifts, they even have gorgeous gift boxes that are more cost effective than buying separately) because she could do with a boost. It’s marketed as ‘The one to brighten, lighten and throw off the gloom with a concentrated citrus fix. We make the Each Peach Massage Bar with fruity avocado and mango kernel butters, mixed with our cocoa butter and shea butter base for an extra nutritious, softening treat. Essential oils of Persian lime, red grapefruit, sweet orange and mandarin help to encourage a sunny disposition. Use it to help boost your partner’s confidence. Very reviving: best for mornings.’

I find massage bars in general are best used after a bath as they melt nicely in warm hands and go on like oil, a little goes a long way so they last for ages (Lush solid products have very long Best Before Dates). Massage bars look like soap but softer to the touch obviously and you can buy tins to keep them in though the Lush tins are quite expensive and any container will do really.

Neal’s Yard Moisturisers

Power Berry and Orange Flower

Neal’s Yard is a top ethically inspired cosmetic UK brand using other UK companies for testing and manufacturing. They have their fair share of awards and a firm believer in organic and natural ingredients. They’ve been around for 30 years and advocate cruelty free experimentation, support many causes and believe in benefits of herbs for health and well being. They aren’t a high street brand but they are well renowned and are better than Lush in my opinion, though I love Lush and their ‘unique, fun’ feel, I appreciate Neal’s Yards serious approach and that they don’t compromise on their products for the sake of distinctive image. They don’t use petrochemicals, SLS, mineral oil (paraffin), synthetic perfumes, silicones, unnatural preservatives, parabens or phthalates. Remember that those ingredients can cause skin irritation so if you have sensitive skin or if you don’t want ingredients that your skin can’t process it’s always good to keep an eye on the label or these brands that are committed to high quality. They do use plastic packaging for their products but many benefit from their trademark blue bottles; blue glass and dark glass in general act as a filter for UV and preserve oils for longer (cooking oils also) and prevent the leeching of plastic chemicals into the product, plus the glass bottles are re-usable. http://www.nealsyardremedies.com

Products I bought:

1) Power Berry Daily Moisture 50ml – marketed as ‘lightweight, easily absorbed daily moisturising lotion containing antioxidant-rich acai, bilberry, goji berry and rosehip, supports the skin with hyaluronic acid to boost skin moisture levels, whilst a synergistic combination of buddleia and thyme, containing antioxidant flavonoids, and anti-inflammatory saponins and triterpenoids, acts as an anti pollutant to help combat ‘city stress’ and promote skin radiance and vitality.’

I just came across this mini 50ml version which will be handy for when I’m outside. I find this very hydrating and revitalising, and even though I don’t have sensitive skin my face can react unpleasantly to creams but I haven’t had any problems with this *fingers crossed*. I also find that I dehydrate quite easily so this is very helpful for my skin which feels quenched afterwards. Plus I love berry mixes though I will not be purchasing a full size as I am concerned about acai farming and for me any berries are fine I don’t need exotic ones.

2) Nourishing Orange Flower Daily Moisture 25ml – marketed as ‘Replenishes and protects dry skin. Nourishing neroli and antioxidant pomegranate oils intensely moisturise, soothe and protect dry skin in a light, easily absorbed lotion.’ This is a new one for me, and even though it’s a face cream I tried it on my hands earlier after cooking, combined it with some lemon juice and wow, very nice, soft hands and shiny nails, I’m going to try it on my face later too. Citrus is very good for when your skin is being troublesome e.g. lemon for gently clearing blemishes and reducing spots and orange for moisturising.

Neal’s Yard products come as part of a range or skincare regime, so ‘power berry’ is the name of a line of products which work together for a total routine but if you have good skin and are young you don’t really need to do all that. I personally use specific items but for general use lol and many of the products are complimentary to each other anyway.

On a sidenote for anyone in or visiting London – Neal’s Yard’s flagship store is just off (but still part of) Covent Garden in a very colourful little courtyard along with several health food cafes/restaurants (all behind a big Holland & Barrett). It really is a delightful area and nice for sightseeing.