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

Posts tagged ‘Organic’

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Living by Example is Hard; be Prepared to be Coughed/Sneezed/Laughed/Spat at

Organic and fairtrade products: are they part of your shopping list and do you think it’s just another marketing argument?

People, you can’t live with them you can’t live without them though many seem to think or would prefer to employ automatons. People are a massive resource and hence massive drain in terms of needs i.e. supply and demand, everything from food to  living/entertainment space. Mechanization increases but people are still needed and they still need jobs and it’s damned hard to find the right people because an increasing amount have been introduced to the ideas of pay they don’t need to top up with ‘benefits’, timetables that don’t run them ragged, safer buildings/tools , sick time, time to have babies, family emergencies etc. What to do, what to do and in many cases the only thing possible; go abroad/outsource.

Competition makes the world go round, keeps the market place fresh and free from monopoly? It’s easy to see the benefits of competition but people are people so monopolization doesn’t stop; pit two or more suppliers against each other and you have a bidding war effectively setting the prices you will pay. What can producers/suppliers do? Exterminate/undercut the competition a lot of the time but some team up and say this is what it costs to make plus justifiable overheads. We need to make what we make and sell sustainable, we need to keep our economy and environment accessible and not outprice ourselves and if sh*t happens like damaged crops we need to know we’ll have some security and assistance from other growers who can pick up the slack and provide for us too, like we would for them. That is fairtrade and community trade. We also don’t want to damage our health and land or have to kill ourselves and our families because the GMO seed we were encouraged to buy doesn’t yield crops that reproduce/well and so have to keep buying neither do we want further restrictions on natural pesticides/fertilizers and forced use of agrochemicals; that is organic, or at least not GM. The ‘trick’ of organic marketing? You’re asked to pay more for what you would traditionally make/use if you weren’t making/using GM. The ‘trick’ with fairtrade is that it’s like minimum wage, it falls short in many ways and can make you dependent/limit your social mobility and yet many would say it’s better than nothing. I say do a bit of research at least and find out which companies/organisations you don’t mind your money supporting and show the companies whose practises you disagree with that you’ll be finding alternatives.

It’s not all about Organic vs GM; ‘organic’ means being certified and hopefully adhering to rules and guidelines from certain organizations. That doesn’t necessarily mean others don’t meet those/similar standards or are low quality just that the manufacturer couldn’t, wouldn’t or haven’t yet gotten organic status. Then there’s genetically modified (GM or nowadays GMO) crops. This can make it confusing with ingredients that either aren’t labelled ‘organic’ or ‘GM’ (if the ingredients are labelled at all) or aren’t one or the other.

Have you ever tried to grow those potatoes that you don’t/can’t eat but don’t want to waste? Leave the GM ones and see what happens, nada or next to nothing, even after months. Organic or in-betweeners (neither one or the other label) will do what they’re supposed to do and invert themselves into new.

Like anybody else I’m constantly confronted by things/people that question me and my way of life, it’s not easy or comfortable but I’m always looking to improve and my standards are high; even if I feel the desire to be defensive doesn’t mean I’ll ignore these things but it also doesn’t mean that I’ll specifically pay attention to them to demean them.

Fairtrade is another label but shouldn’t be, it should be the default. Think about every product you buy/use/consume and then think about every piece/ingredient in the composition and then the quantities needed for at least one population let alone the resources needed to make those. ‘Fairtrade’ makes up a tiny proportion of that labelled or not and for those who think of it as charity, why hasn’t it begun at home? We’ve got plenty of poor in this country, yet bargain fever has become rampant in the last decade and has taken haggling or scouring discounts/clearance/seconds as a normalcy for poor to just trying to rip of traders to get items as cheap as possible and it’s fun and fulfilling. That’s just added to cheapness over value and ‘fast’ items that that people feel even less inclined to take care of and keep in as good condition as possible.

From the above you can see that fairtrade and organic don’t just apply to food/drinks; think about cosmetics and clothing/fabrics for example. We can’t always buy from those areas so what are the other options?

  1. I donate clothing to various charities but I make sure to split them into two groups – saleable items and non-saleable items. I’ve found that a lot of charity stores are only interested in items that they can re-sell but many people have items that are no longer saleable, but still in good, wearable condition so for those clothes I’ve found places that give the items directly to the vulnerable, rather than sell them first.
  2. In London there are also some shops near me that took clothes and recycled them into new clothes themselves and then sell them.
  3. The local council picked up bags of clothing recycling if there’s a lot of them and there are clothes ‘bins’ (big recycle containers) for donations and recycling in local areas.
  4. There’s always local Salvation Army type centres and shelters.
  5. There are businesses that will collect clothes from your door if you use their bags to put them in – it’s best to find and contact them yourself though because there are a few of those who advertise door to door and then sell the clothes left for them.
  6. There’s also quite a few social alternatives for passing on clothes nowadays; ‘swap meets/parties’ are becoming increasingly popular and shops that will pay you for giving them items. There are public ones and private ones where friends organize a get together at somebody’s home and swap clothes, it can fun to look into each other’s wardrobes so to speak and swap clothes with each other. The public ones are cool as well because there’s so much to choose from. Each public one will work differently but they generally give you an amount of points or currency value for the clothes you bring in and donate and then you can spend that amount on the clothes available. Or some have a barter system where you can offer a piece of your clothing for something of similar value with someone else if see someone with an item of clothing you like.
  7. Then there’s vintage fashion shops and fairs/fayres – some where you pay a small admission fee and then explore and spend to your hearts content (some of them even sell by weight which is awesome) but you can also sell items. Vintage shops will often buy nice second hand pieces as well. Local fairs of any type are easy to donate too as well e.g. school jumble sales or anyone doing a fundraiser.
  8. There’s also the option of selling your clothes through places like auction sites (e.g. eBay) or simply giving them to family and friends.
  9. Or if you’re like me you keep clothes as long as possible, you have socks leftover from when you were a kid, you handwash (or many who have washing machines use ‘gentle washes’), you have lot’s of hand-me-downs and hand-me-ups whereby people borrow/take your clothing.
  10. However as many of you probably do already; if you want to buy new on-trend items voucher/coupon websites very helpful and cashback sites where you register, sign in and then shop ‘through’ them i.e. they have the major shops connected to their website and you click on the links to the shops that you would normally go to via the cashback site. Then when you make your purchases you get cashback and/or rewards.

Back to Food

We’ve seen a rise in comlady munity if not fairtrade in the form of foodbanks, something I admire and advocate though it doesn’t always go as well as it should. Mum & I qualified for a foodbank at one stage, well we probably almost always have but had never been spoken to about it or looked into benefiting from them ourselves though I have donated (I’ve lived by an old Indian adage of splitting income roughly into quarters; to taxes, family, charity and yourself; unfortunately I’m the only living Indian I’ve known to do that). We were excited that finally we might have something different to eat, more than small portions and not have to stress/worry about food for the week. We’re vegan but many people don’t know what that means traditionally let alone what it can entail in today’s age of food sensitivities so I spoke to a lady there in advance to find out more and to explain our situation; usually they chose people’s food for them (4 carrier bags a head) and either left it to be collected or delivered it but sometimes people chose for themselves. They decided it was best for us to do so and agreed that since we wouldn’t be taking some items that it would be ok to take more of others. We went and didn’t think there’d be much accessible to us but tried not to have any other expectations other than we were just grateful to have the opportunity but were amazed at the variety they had and so many items that would could eat. We got on really well with the staff there and obviously they supervised us picking our items. We walk a 6-mile roundtrip to town so asked for the items to be delivered and they confirmed they would be so by the other shift the following day. Lo and behold it was pouring down the next day and said shift were in a rush so knocked, left everything outside and drove off before I opened the door; we;d been eagerly awaiting the day since we’d only taken some rice crackers and peanut butter for the day before (as wisely advised by the staff we’d met since you have to eat every day) but we were dismayed to find that they gave us 1 person’s allowance and 2/3 of of that had been replaced; the whole lot was a typical vegetarian ‘order’ with things like rice pudding, custard, sauce with fish in it, cosmetics etc and items we didn’t need such as toothbrushes and cloths. So we called and I spoke to the lady who I’d originally spoken to who said to return the items and get more suitable ones. We lugged it all back but unfortunately were not met by that lady or the staff we’d met but the staff who’d repacked our bags and they did not like it one bit. They were all talking about us and when I tried to ask one a question she told me not to talk to her, she wasn’t dealing with us. I went to the one ‘dealing’ with us and she said that because of our ‘irregular and oversized’ order they’d had a meeting and changed the rules for everybody and now there was an itemized list that all people going there had to adhere to, no exceptions. I said that wasn’t necessary and not fair to everybody, perhaps we could just fix the situation, but the fact that we’d brought back the whole delivery so as to start again and not keep anything/get more than others it gave them (yes all of them) ammunition to pick apart why we wouldn’t accept things that they thought we could/should have due to their notion of ‘vegan’ and how we should prepare those foods if we didn’t want to go the normal route. Then not only did she supervise us, she escorted us to the items on her list whilst they all continued to talk&whisper and she kept going on about the amount of sweetcorn we took “13 tins, 13 tins – how many do you need? We can’t let you have more, we have to think about everybody, there’s more people than just you, you can’t take from them” in increasing volume and cut me off every time I tried to answer. I finally got tearful and upset enough to almost have to yell over her “What size were those tins and what sizes did you replace them with?” Stumped she went back to the pack and conferred… At the same time one of the staff from the first day we’d visited arrived and greeted us but was told not to talk to us, she said “they’re ok, I met them the…” She couldn’t finish “that’s enough (name), we had a trustee meeting last night about this and decided on a new process.” Then oh dear, it turned out that the sweetcorn we had chosen were 2 sealed packs of 6x100g tins plus an extra that had been separated. They replaced those with 3x400g tins… Yep, no problem there really was there? She said there must have been a mistake, they must have mixed up the deliveries, I replied she could have just called us if she had any qualms about our order instead of changing everything as that would have prevented the situation and she actually agreed but said that it was too late. I agreed it was and told them we’d just continue living off seaweed, thank you for the opportunity and sorry it turned out this way, we didn’t mean nor want to cause any trouble; and walked out.

The tip of the iceberg of that situation? They’d packed a delivery note with the items that mentioned God 4 times and how if we’re thankful it should be for His mercy and generosity through His workers (the foodbank) and supporters and that He has charity and love for all. Obviously not for vegans.

Community trade is a great thing in society but it has be organized fairly, as a whole we people have not matured or moved on from the ego, for all our enlightenment and good intentions fairtrade is not the norm.

Food Sensitivities – Higher Quality and Organic aren’t Myths

As we develop in and from childhood we are weened onto many foods that we wouldn’t otherwise digest/digest well; I’ve spent much of my life de-acclimatizing and I find I’m no longer immune to many ingredients that I could previously eat without obvious issues; part of that is probably due to getting older but I’ve also been careful not to get to a point in my life where the digestion goes (inflammation, gas, acid) and overall health steadily follows suit from blood pressure to disease. Other than sleep, digestion accounts for a huge amount of our time (& energy).

  1. I’ve always been unable to eat GM fruit/veg unless cooked; my gums, tongue, cheeks, throat swell up and itch like mad – even my teeth feel irritated because of that and sometimes it affects my nose.
  2. I can regularly consume cacao; it aids my digestion and I don’t gain weight. Cocoa does not help as much, it still counters inflammation but does not fully ease or remove gas or quickly pass the ‘food’ that caused the issues through the system, I also gain weight.
  3. The same goes for refined oils; I love oil and know that it isn’t a case of saturated vs unsaturated but more of overly processed and refined vs organic or raw/virgin. Unrefined helps my weight maintenance or even indeed makes me feel hungrier quicker but refined has the opposite effect.
  4. White sugar – this is a recent development; I can eat molasses, muscovado, demerera to my heart’s content but refined White sugar = a downer. I can have a bit and you’ll be hard pressed to not have any in foods you buy but even a packet of crisps with it as one of the main ingredients can lead to days of me sat with my head on the table, unable to concentrate, feeling out of it and not able to move about much.
  5. White salt – again I have no problems with rock salt/Himalayan Pink/Red/Black salt, Epsom, Bicarbonate of Soda, Nigari (specially extracted), I’m a little wary of sea salt due to pollution but am ok with it but refined White salt? Forget it.
  6. GM and low quality pasta and sometimes even rice (cereals and grains) can cause indigestion for days as well, not the case with organic and higher quality grains. I even get that from sprouting unless they are wholegrains.
  7. I stopped eating artificial colourings, flavourings, preservatives; most E-numbers and gelatin at age 13 so when I see them used commonly even in things like dried fruit that doesn’t need them (and if really necessary a little oil would do) I avoid them.
  8. Raw vs traditional methods of heat preparation/cooking – I’m not a raw foodist but do believe that the more you heat (and moreso for microwave ovens) the more damage you do to the food. Given that I do cook food I’m not prepared to have even less nutritional value available to start with GM ingredients.

Organic does Not have to mean having a Big Budget

Many of you have probably heard of/use is MoneySavingExpert; on the food forum there are lot’s of people who post about deals/sales/clearance and there are some dedicated members that regularly post about organic food they find/look for which is very helpful and of course you can add your own. There are also sites that specialize in food that is past their sell by (but within ‘use by’) and best before dates but are still fine to have.

Buying in bulk really helps too, moreso from places that sell wholesale to the public or if you buy over a certain amount, plus member deals.

Money isn’t the only currency; just like we write reviews for vouchers/points/digital cash, there’s also exchange, bartering, cashback/point schemes; it was those that really helped me through being freegan for a year.

I haven’t starved yet.

Many of you may be thinking what the hell do I eat and would be surprised at just how varied and sophisticated my palate is and how I don’t find it restricted at all in terms of foods that I can eat, the limitations are not in my choices but the availability/accessibility or mostly the lack of opportunity to have them like those animals you see being pushed away from the food they can see all over the streets in their faces but not being one of the chosen.

Those who say they don’t have money to burn but still do. Priorities.

Mum & I forage and don’t find it shameful or embarrassing. Plenty stare and talk about us like we’re crazy whilst they go past usually with shopping bags or in big or pricey cars. Granted I live in the New Forest now so there’s a ton of vegetation but most still rely on supermarkets and to an extent their gardens, there’s a distinct lack of green grocers in this town though there are farms/nurseries (there’s an M&S, Waitrose, Tesco & 99p Stores and a mixed product market on Saturdays) and the council spend a lot of resources clearing and cutting back the flora as well as making the place pretty with decorative plants/trees; if government just planted obvious food growing plants/trees instead or even just fruit trees there’d be a lot less hungry people but that wouldn’t be good for business and people buying into established energy hungry processes is more important than the immediate poverty need. Better to buy a whole load of industrial scale grown food, make it more well travelled than the people, radiate and treat it some more, rely on people neither understanding sell/use by/best before dates, nutritional tables or that food doesn’t need to be ‘pretty’, and them wanting it as cheap as possible than having them realize there’s lot of free food around if they know where/how to look and show etiquette in their picking habits i.e. not going into people’s gardens, not destroying plants and not taking too much. What happens to all the food/plants that aren’t bought or needed – mostly destroyed/dumped.

When you look at the back of a book or toilet roll what do you see? Is there an FSC or similar ‘renewable’ ‘sustainable’ ‘well managed’ etc sign/label on there? Yeah we know the downsides of forest management but we also know the downsides of deforestation and yet what do you prefer – good quality paper and wood or mdf/wood filler and false economy bog roll that disappears quickly, the price is higher for one unless you budget, moderate your use and look after your items well but it’s better than the other isn’t it? The same goes for food – do you prefer wholefoods or foods filled with filler (like cellulose ironically)?

For many food and all the items they put in/on/through their body pale in importance to other obligations and hobbies but ultimately you only have yourself to rely on in this life and I figure the less you care about the things that directly/immediately affect you at the very least, the more you are robbing yourself… Of your consciousness, your health, yourself.

What’s the Alternative if Not Fairtrade and Organic?

Those of you who grow your own fruit/veg/herbs and even animals without GM and hormones; would you go back to/give it up for supermarket equivalents and I don’t mean the ‘luxury’ stuff ?(Though growing & asking for less/simpler processes is ironically seen as luxurious/more pricey.) I’ve tasted the difference between juicy, sweet fruit and the dry, fibrous, weak tasting (especially in comparison to organic farms I’ve been to), barely or over-ripened supermarket fruit that sometimes hasn’t had the benefit of sunlight.

People are people – the majority of this planet live in abject poverty and I don’t agree with the ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ (I’ve been told that how many times myself and it’s one of my aims never to say that anybody except perhaps those who’ve though it ok for others) GM thinking that they should be mollified with low grade & cast offs. I’ve come across production people here wanting to hire women so they can pay them less and those with the mentality that those they import off abroad have it good nowadays ‘they can buy this on this day, that on that day, this many times a week‘ yet they can buy it any or all the time almost anywhere. If we don’t use our power & influence with purchasing decisions, thinking such things are luxuries that can’t and shouldn’t be afforded until one’s situation is better then I don’t think we have the right to wonder why wages are low or stagnant whilst prices rise – why? Because most think that way and it adds up, we’re not one person – we’re part of a very large group/family and within that are groups living off each other. I prefer fair/community trade in this world model we live in and I prefer what I consider ‘cleaner’ organic or high quality ingredients/items, I’m not in to buying anything whether cheap or expensive that has likely come from a sweatshop or underpaid overworked adult labour and I don’t want to push traders into buying from them at practically cost price either. I don’t think blood, sweat, tears, greed and ripoff should go into it. We can’t expect with one hand, take with the other and think things will get better.

Organic Farmer GMO Hazmat Farmer

The purpose of this was to simply provide personal experience, ideas and scope – things that can easily get lost in the subject as we get used to advertising campaigns. I’ve not gone into studies because when I read those it’s usually for specific things and not getting caught up in the hysteria, there’s results that come out in favour or against all of the sides and much is dependent on the sponsors. Like everybody else I try to just keep going but I also try to live/be real positive change and not just pontificate about it, that’s why I have my body and mind afterall 🙂

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VWCosmetics Prickly Pear Seed Oil – The ‘Next Big Thing’ After Argan?

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Prickly Pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) Seed Oil is another treasure finding its way out of Morocco following its hugely successful predecessor Argan (Argania Spinosa) Oil. It’s currently one of the most expensive oils available to buy purely for its own value rather than say, couture brand label mark-ups and packaging so it’s quite an honour to be writing about something that I wouldn’t usually come across. If Argan oil is known as ‘liquid gold’ then would that make Prickly Pear liquid platinum? I took it for a test drive to see 😉

Please note – the bottle of 10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil I’m reviewing was provided by VWCosmetics at http://www.vwcosmetics.com/ in exchange for a fair opinion and company mention, both of which I always include as a matter of course in a review 🙂

OVERVIEW OF THE SITUATION

I was offered the chance to try this oil whilst nursing a scald/burn on my left hand so this review is the sequel to the one featuring Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex, it continues the treatment here’s a re-cap of where I left off:

Timeline

Approx 1 week after the burn

Time for a change from the aloe vera and lemon juice, started using Dr Organic’s Vitamin E Pure Oil Complex.

Approx 1 week after that

Time for another change – I find it best to do this as the skin (body in general) can get used to one thing/treatment and the effects can plateau but I still needed more healing so started using the Organic Prickly Pear Seed oil (OPPSO) on affected area and the above oil on the areas around it.

And approx 1 week after that

Dabbing apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ intact on the wound as a finishing touch, this was left to the end as it is a high strength, unrefined vinegar and not generally found on the highstreet. It’s very strong (so should be diluted) and also very versatile for health, cosmetic and cleaning – so using it here to eat through the damaged layers, heal, soften (yes this type of vinegar softens skin – and hair – whereas lemon juice dries) and lighten the skin. Using OPPSO and argan afterwards.

Note on terminology from now on:
OPPSO – refers specifically to VWCosmetics Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil
PPSO – refers to prickly pear seed oil in general, organic or not, virgin & cold pressed or not.

WHAT IS A PRICKLY PEAR?

It’s not a pear as we know and love but a colourful cactus fruit that grows in arid and semi-arid regions of the world. Ever heard that joke about treating a porcupine for pins and needles? Well this plant and its fruit are covered in spindles so it no joke when local growers say to leave the higher growing fruit to the birds since it’s not a good idea to use ladders near these plants!… Ouch. They remind me a tad of dragon fruit on the outside and pomegranates on the inside so that should give you an idea of how exotic they are and how small their seeds are. The Daily Mail stated that it takes 1 million seeds to make 1litre of oil and the Chelsea Physic Garden say that their 3in spines used to play 78rpm records on gramophones before steel needles, yikes! They have a Mayan heritage but were also found throughout Africa as a precious resource for food and health then taken to the Mediterranean where they were hailed and regaled before being brought to the spotlight again in current times.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

Photo credit: photowalk.mostlyfiction.com/category/desert-plants/

What are those spikes protecting?

A heck of a lot of vitamin content (E & K primarily) and unsaturated fatty acids (Linoleic/Omega 6, Oleic/Omega 9 – has the ability to penetrate beneath the upper layer(s) of skin for longer lasting benefits) as well as saturated acid (Palmitic), minerals and amino acids. And that’s just in the seed oil, the rest of the seed and fruit as a whole are very nutritious. In terms of cosmetic use PPSO is suitable for residents of such dry climates and when shared with the rest of us, in theory a great health booster particularly for those advancing in years and those with dry skin/hair, lines/wrinkles and for some masking to removing discolouration of skin and light scarring. I’ve read about those with heavy scarring and birthmarks having ‘miraculous’ results but personally I doubt that would happen for me. There doesn’t appear to be many sources of info (other than the invaluable and irreplaceable experience of the those who’ve been consuming/using it for ages of course) but the general consensus is that PPSO outclasses argan oil in tocopherols and tocotrienols (the 10 groups of Vitamin E) and leaves olive oil in the dust so to speak hence has the highest amount of Vitamin E out of most oils available for cosmetic use. Other oils noted for Vitamin E are wheat germ and almond. Remember though that Vitamin E can only be taken internally in much smaller amounts than topical use – so olive oil is still excellent for eating and for thicker texture.

I’ve tried to explain Vitamin E in a number of reviews but basically unlike other vitamins it’s not a single ‘thing’ – it’s a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols (5 of each) that are collectively known as Vitamin E though on many products you’ll notice a prominence of tocopherols mentioned e.g. ‘tocopherols enriched’. As a beauty aid Vitamin E is noted and used for anti-oxidant ability and focus on regeneration so all round anti-aging and weather protecting.

PUTTING IT THROUGH THE PACES

First impressions – texture and packaging

The oil is lightweight, has a faint scent that reminds me of cocoa butter and is very smooth – that might sound strange but many oils thicken and get blobby to in the cold but this one doesn’t. That might be because it’s a ‘stable’ oil meaning that it retains more of its nutritional value in conditions that other oils would start to degrade in, given that it’s cultivated and used in hot climates with bright sunshine it’s impressive that it also holds well in the cold. It’s also quick to absorb.

It comes in a cute, little dark Brown glass bottle and matching thick card Brown box. It has an inbuilt, plastic dropper pipette which I found was slow/clogged at times so perhaps not quite wide enough but other than that functional and prevents waste.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review

On the burn

I started using this on the burn because I felt it would be better to use a single ingredient product to get the full benefit, product blends are great but sometimes I feel the properties are competing and you might not get the force of the ones you want as they are subdued by others. I was tempted by another product I had used in the past that is a powerhouse of oils but I decided for the burn area itself to go with the OPPSO for the higher concentration of Vitamin E. I’m not one who goes for either phrase ‘if you eat well it shows so you shouldn’t have to worry about your skin/hair/nails’ or ‘the product you apply in one area spreads and affects all the other areas so why bother with specific areas’ … I agree with both to an extent as through research and experience (and quite frankly common sense) one does affect the other, it’s all connected but at the same time some areas need more attention than others and tailored attention at that. That’s exactly why in my Dr Organic Vitamin E Oil review I stated that I felt it important to keep the whole hand well nourished so the skin around the burn wouldn’t suffer as well and could indeed boost aid to the affected area but at the same time the affected area has different/extra needs.

By the time I started using this my skin had that overly smooth/non lined look like a gel blob were it liquid and if left like that looked as if it would probably acquire that somewhat shiny look of stretch mark and cut/torn based scars as well as the lines from the surrounding skin. I wanted to avoid that because it’s a large and noticeable area.

I only needed upto 4 drops to cover the affected and surrounding area and used it regularly especially after washing. I found that it wasn’t as softening or smoothing as I had expected but my hands are problem areas in that respect and need more in the way of lotion or body butter for that effect. However it addressed the shiny tissue issue and made the skin look more ‘real’ and matte again. It now looks more like a birthmark or skin discolouration than an injury scar and the area is not raised but level with the rest of the skin. I think that’s the most I could hope for given the severity of the burn, my skin being prone to scarring and using this at a later stage of the treatment instead of earlier.

Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil Review Natural Burn Treatment Home RemedyVegan

Uneven skin tone

Interestingly enough PPSO has notable amounts about both Vitamins E and K; the former being a blood thinner and the latter a thickener – in that sense I can imagine that having a balance of both would or should assist with uneven skin tones, not taking into account skin colourants but more the formation of skin cells. That said old scars and marks run deep and can take years to noticeably reduce since even new skin copies the old when it comes to those so it’s important to use something that is high in Omega 9 to get to those layers or be present when they grow, it’s one thing to have the Vitamin E it’s another to get it where you want it to go, (argan oil has much more Omega 9 than PPSO).

It’s supposed to help with shadows on the face and like many other people probably have been doing I’ve been sleeping under the blanket since on the onset of cold weather and that leads to blotchy facial skin and the darkening of the sides of the nose and under the eyes especially. I’ve tried the oil in that area and haven’t noticed any difference but that’s unlikely to change unless I come up for air and actually get some more oxygen! I’m thinking if I steamed my face & neck and then put this on as an overnight moisturizer it would have a much better chance.

Other

I had a few places of torn skin near my cuticles and this healed them in no time, they didn’t even itch – just went straight back to normal skin.

It’s apparently also really good for achieving glossy locks with a little going a long way, since this is a 10ml bottle and I’m pre-occupied with my skin at the moment I haven’t tried it but I’d hazard a guess that since its rich in Omega 6&9 it’d be better for thick and/or coarse (prone to curling, wiry) or dry and/or damaged hair – it might be too heavy/greasy feeling for light and/or thin hair unless washed out shortly after or heat dried-in.

VALERIE WIDMANN COSMETICS

Looking at the VWCosmetics website I was impressed by the passion shown by the founder for the products from production to sustainability. There is a focus on organic argan and prickly pear seed oil products, both of which are grown by fair trade women’s cooperatives with an interest in helping and forwarding their position in society and protecting their environment. Acquiring both oils is extremely labour intensive e.g. for OPPSO the seeds have to be carefully separated from the pulp and ‘Because each seed contains only 5% of oil, up to 35 kilograms of seeds are necessary to get about 1 litre of Oil.’

There is a lot of info on the site so I won’t reproduce it here but it’s poignant to note that this is pure OPPSO and not a cheaper alternative where PPSO has been blended with other oils or actually from the cactus blossoms and not the fruit seeds.

Also for company info:

VWC OPPSO is
-produced on demand ensuring freshness
-elite quality
-first cold-pressed
-organic and unscented
-sustainably harvested
-virgin and unrefined
-does not contain artificial or chemical additives
-paraben and cruelty-free
-brown bottles for maximum protection
-distributed from Germany in consideration of the strict German cosmetic directives

OPPSO Eco – Certification
VWC only works with Producers in Morocco that have their OPPSO classified as a “Natural and Organic cosmetic” holding both ECOCERT and USDA certification.

CONCLUSION

I think on the whole I’d benefit a lot more from OPPSO if I was older or had weather beaten skin/hair, the fact that I use oils regularly (and have a high oil ‘fat’ diet) perhaps made the effects less noticeable but I can imagine that if the weather was hotter, more oil used and dried in over a longer time period the properties would have more of a chance to shine. Plus this is a small bottle but I’d be interested to see how it fairs on other problem areas on the body. That said in terms of healing damaged skin for both a burn and tearing it did a good job and for that I’m grateful – to Mother Nature, the women who cultivated this and Valerie Widmann who offered it at a coincidental time.

10ml Organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil €24.95/£19.57

http://www.vwcosmetics.com/products/organic-prickly-pear-seed-oil-products/10ml-organic-prickly-pear-seed-oil.html

Gallery

Dr Organic Rose Otto Lotion – Not all Roses but Does the Business

Advantages – Moisturizes, Hydrates, Refreshes, Smoothens, Softens, Firms, Tones, Anti-Aging, Absorbent.

Disadvantages – Not so much rose? A lot of ingredients for the formulation of the lotion as well as the nutrients.

Dr Organic dr.organic Rose Otto Damascena Body Face Lotion Moisturizer Moisturiser Bioactiv Bioactive Anti-AgingWHY I BOUGHT THIS – and Who it Might Be Helpful For

I recently came down with an inflammatory illness that lasted 2.5 months and was pretty much bedridden for approx 1month of that. It started with joint swelling and then all over in some places. Some of the heaviest swelling was on my jaw which ended up ‘locked’ and so I liquid fasted for that month. I just wasn’t in the mood to think about let alone keep up with a skincare routine but I was still worried about the effects prolonged stretching and contracting would have on my skin – stretching from the swelling, contracting from the major weight loss and then subsequently weight gain after being able to eat again. Then there were the effects of alternating hot and cold e.g. hot water bottles and ice. I didn’t want stretch marks, loose or extra dry skin. I needed my skin to stay supple yet firm and be able to manage transitioning for a long time especially in the recovery period when joints were not back in place, and then hopefully go back to its original texture.

Other factors I took into consideration were my age, soothing properties for swelling and the weather. Being early 30’s in addition to the illness meant I wanted something ‘extra’ in comparison to what I usually go for, so I decided on something specifically anti-aging. The weather being mild meant that I didn’t have to worry about the product being too heavy or light but I did intend to use lots of it hence I didn’t want taking too long to absorb yet I did want to feel the benefit of instant hydration as well rather than moisturizing without thirst quenching. Asking a lot eh?

Thankfully I came across Dr Organic Rose Otto Lotion at just the right time and it falls into the ‘affordable’ price range for organic beauty/health products.

COMPANY INFO

Dr Organic or ‘dr.organic’ is an extensive and attractive skincare brand primarily available at the ever wonderful Holland & Barrett, purveyors of more ethically friendly food and health items (e.g. vitamins and cosmetics) for those with special diets, health needs and just a general interest in improving/maintaining health with a purer quality of product. The ‘Dr’ is a British brand with an international reach in the ingredients they source (though I’m not clued up about their ethical policies for sourcing, fair trade, transporting etc), are enrolled in a number of organic standard certifications and have a plethora of awards.

http://www.drorganic.co.uk/about.asp

”’Our Promise…”’

Organic ingredients – We strive to use organically grown ingredients. Where an organic ingredient cannot be used we will always source sustainable natural alternatives
Bioactive ingredients
Natural ingredients
No harsh chemicals
No parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), perfumes or artificial fragrances.
All our products are suitable for vegetarians.
No animal testing
No mineral oils – Petro-chemicals such as paraffin and petroleum are avoided, plant based oils and extracts are used.
No GM ingredients
Preservatives – Where necessary preservatives are used to guarantee product safety and shelf life. Only the highest grade broad spectrum naturally derived preservatives are used.

What does bioactive mean?

I posted some Dr Organic lotion reviews on my blog a while back HERE and have found them to be amongst some of the most popular search items in my reader statistics and the term ‘bioactive’ comes up a fair bit too.

They describe themselves as providers or ‘bioactive skincare’; bioactive basically means a substance that can be used to affect or promote a response from a living organism, and/or can extracted from a living organism. To me it sounds like a very general slogan which can be applied to any number of cosmetics and non-cosmetics alike.

I couldn’t find an exact definition on their website. However they do state that they are committed to creating products that are ’ functional by design and formulated to capture the key active properties within the ingredients used’ To me that implies that Dr Organic are interested in conveying the beneficial properties of the items used without clashing or heightening/playing down some characteristics over others and attempting to bring out the best in most if not all them. That’s no easy task and a big claim and since they can’t please/cater to everybody at the same time with a product I don’t doubt that some are hit and miss for different people. But in conjunction with the ingredient lists I’ve seen on products in general in the past I respect that ethos/aim because more often than not I come across products that use key words to promote products and then you find that the corresponding ingredient(s) is only included in a very minor percentage or as a topnote. Such disappointing advertising is also often accompanied by numerous filler ingredients both natural and synthetic but mostly synthetic and possibly some other ‘nasties’ that can cause skin irritation as well as other speculated undesirable side effects. The ingredient lists I’ve seen on Dr Organic lotions are not top notch and have more ingredients then I would ideally like for aesthetics rather than nourishing properties but they’re hardly synthetic or as unhealthy as a whole than the majority of highstreet buys e.g. I’ve seen formaldehyde in some hair conditioners. In comparison to those Dr Organic is quite mild so worth checking out for sensitive skin types but for those with grain intolerances bear in mind the Xanthan Gum and Sodium Phytate in the ingredients.

Ranges

The ranges available are Aloe Vera, Pomegranate, Tea Tree, Vitamin E, Lavender, Manuka Honey, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Rose Otto, Coconut Oil, Moroccan Argan Oil and Dead Sea Mineral. All of the ranges are vegetarian friendly and most vegan friendly; the lotion in this review is vegan friendly and 200ml in size.

Each range has a variety of products available including the usual Lip Balms, Body Butters, Hand & Nail Creams, Face Masks, Face Scrubs, Soaps, Body Scrubs, Body Washes, Face Washes, Shampoos, and Conditioners etc. Some more interesting items are toothpastes, deodorants and items focusing on the foot care.

PROPERTIES

This product has the Rose Otto signature so I would have thought Rose Oil, Extract and perhaps Rosehip would be the main ingredients. There is no Rosehip and the Rose Oil and Extract are quite far down in the list. I’m not a chemist so I can only give Dr Organic the benefit of the doubt due to their ambition for ‘bioactive’ skincare and rely on Rose being one of if not the main active component in this lotion and as such will give a few properties here.

It’s one of those multi-faceted oils being known for antidepressant, antiphlogistic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, aphrodisiac, astringent, bactericidal, cholagogue, cicatrisant, depurative, emenagogue, haemostatic, hepatic, laxative, nervine, stomachic and uterine properties. Generally rose oil can be used to aid stress/anxiety relief as it is soothing and uplifting and in cosmetic skincare has maintained popularity in older women due to its fatty acids and vitamin content that nourish, moisturize, fill out the skin as well as stimulating skin cell renewal which is helpful for new skin but also can potentially help with scars and pigmentation.

Note that Geranium Oil and Geraniol are in this mixture. The Geranium is before the Rose ingredients; Geranium is often used as a substitute and/or filler for Rose in Rose products as it is cheaper and the Geraniol at the end of the ingredient list is harder to speculate on as it can come from Roses, Geraniums or a number of other plants.

Consistency

The lotion was a thick, pure White cream which felt very soft and silky smooth and I really mean silky – it felt slippery to the touch though not thin at all and yet rich at the same time. To me it didn’t smell very rose like but there’s a heck of a lot of oils in it so in that sense I wasn’t surprised but was surprised and amused that the overall blended smell reminded me of lychee/litchi fruit with an after-smell/hint of rose. I love litchis so found it pleasant but obviously something to think about for those who don’t like sweet, fruity scents.

Though a thick lotion it wasn’t greasy to the touch and absorbed quickly as well giving instant hydration in a reinvigorating and soothing way. It made both an effective day and night cream, I didn’t try it under make up but I think a small amount could work and for touch ups to awaken tired eyes and on/around the mouth after eating.

Directions

‘Apply liberally to the skin. Repeat as often as required. Suitable for use all over the body. Avoid contact with eyes. Due to the ingredients natural origin, colour and consistency may vary from batch to batch. This does not affect the quality of the product.’

From my experience a little of this goes a long way as it spreads really easily, perhaps an effect of its silky consistency. I also found it very gentle and soothing on both the sensitive swollen (both hard and soft swollen) areas and areas that are generally sensitive due to thinner skin such as around the eyes. A 200ml bottle would usually last me approx 2 months but since I was slathering it on it lasted half the time.

HOW WELL IT WORKS

Taking into account the properties described above the lotion did everything I’d hoped for; it refreshed, soothed, moisturized, hydrated, toned and prevented the rapid aging I’d worried about – the swelling underneath it would go down a little too when I’d first apply it which was helpful. It softened the harder areas directly over joints like elbows and knees and really softening and filling out the dry skin on my hands. It didn’t make my skin radiant or glowing with youth as some oils I’ve have but I really just wanted it as a preventative and for damage control and in that sense it got top marks. On areas of loose/loosening skin it shrunk/toned and on the ‘regular’ skin it maintained and thirst quenched like a thicker body butter would do.

For those with stretch marks and scars I wouldn’t say this decreases the visibility of them but it should help prevent them spreading or new ones.

Regardless of my age and health I’ve always had spot prone skin, yet I was using a lot of this and constantly but amazingly my skin didn’t breakout so I found it really breathable and non-irritating.

In regards to layering I did try it with other lotions and oils and at no point did I find it created any bad smells or negative affect on my skin, all in all it was like a nursemaid throughout. I would think that it would layer ok with fruity, sweet fragrances should you choose to wear it alongside a scent but of course let it sink in fully first.

In terms of lasting ability I’m pretty confident in thinking that had I not been ill it would have not only been a great assistance during that time but would have improved the quality of my skin in general and with further use the anti-aging properties would probably have been more noticeable. As it was, it helped keep my skin the way it was before I got ill.

INGREDIENTS – Know What You Put in Your Body and Why

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aqua, Dicaprylyl Ether, Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Isocetyl Palmitate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Theobroma Cacao Seed Butter, Butyrospermum Parkii Butter, Glyceryl Caprylate, Tocopherol/Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Pelargonium Graveolens (geranium) Oil, Eugenia Caryophyllata (clove) Flower Oil, Rosa Damascena (rose) Flower Oil, Parfum (Natural and food grade), Rosa Damascena Flower Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Extract, Tilia Europaea Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Phytate, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Geraniol, Linalool, Citronellol, Eugenol.

Breaking the above down abit:

The base includes Aloe Vera Juice, components of Olive Oil, Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, Liquorice and Vitamin A,C&E.
Then Irish/Carrageen Moss (a type of Red algae), and the oils of Geranium, Clove, and Damascena Rose.
Then Damascena Rose, Passionflower, Lime flower, Calendula and Chamomile Extracts.

Quite a power house and packed with properties I could benefit from. They all share/overlap in quite a few of their properties but generally:

Aloe, Lime Flower and Chamomile all have soothing, calming and healing properties.
Irish Moss and Clove have anti-inflammatory properties.
Liquorice and Passionflower both have pain relief properties.
Calendula is revitalizing plant, a wake-up call, giving immediate energy.

The Vitamins are all antioxidants preventing degenerative oxidative stress on cells, and are all immune system maintainers/boosters. They have individual properties but in general for skincare Vitamin A promotes and maintains skin tissue quality and can help with acne, E is a soluble fat helping to keep the skin plump/youthful C prevents discolouration of skin.

Compromises

Bear in mind the ingredients list isn’t the most natural you can come across but I was compromising due to lack of choice at the time, choosing a lotion for thirst quenching hydration combined with soothing plus texture convenience over the heavier/thicker/messier/longer to absorb body butters and oils, and price. At this level it was unlikely I was going to find a pure formula with less and completely ethical, natural bonding and liquefying agents and preservatives – things that are necessary to making and keeping solids and oils in blended lotion/cream form. Plus it’s cheaper than buying all the ingredients and making my own.

In regards to the less recognizable ingredients in the base;

Emollients/Emulsifiers:

Dicaprylyl Ether – derived from coconut or palm kernel oil, skin conditioning ingredient promoting quick absorption.

Polyglyceryl-3 Methylglucose Distearate – an emulsifier, sometimes emollient, provides water resistance (prevents separation of ingredients) and maintains the cream consistency when combined with stearate – stearate can be an irritant, though considered low hazard in this mixture.

Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride – again from coconut or palm oil, this time specifically the Caprylic/Capric fatty acids of the oil, making it lighter than a carrier oil, more compatible with emulsifiers and silky. Not the same as ‘fractionated oil’ which is from distillation combining all the fatty acids.

Isocetyl Palmitate – A combination of Isocetyl Alochol and Palmitic Acid. A viscosity increasing agent, water resistant – again to help maintain the consistency of the cream whilst including the most common fatty acid found in plants and animals, in non-animal cosmetics most likely to be from palm oil. (Palmitic is often an added to cosmetics and food to add texture.)

Myristyl Myristate – Mix of myristyl alcohol and myristic acid, vegetable derived, primarily used for making cosmetics White and holding them together particularly where there’s lots of oils/butters, and thickens the product.

Glyceryl Caprylate – natural thickener and emollient produced from vegetable oil and fatty acids from coconut or palm oil, it also maintains the ‘wet’ texture of the cream.

Preservatives:

Sodium Benzoate – also known as E-Number E211. It’s a salt derived from benzoic acid found in some fruits and spice. It’s commonly used in food, perfumes, medicine and cosmetics. It’s a masking agent, anti-corrosive, prevents bacteria and fungus but is controversial in the natural health sphere. The original benzoic acid is not the issue but the sodium benzoate can interact with Ascorbic Acid (part of Vitamin C) to make the known carcinogen Benzene. Light, heat and shelf life can affect the rate at which Benzene is created.

Potassium Sorbate – A salt derived from Sorbic Acid, a common preservative and ingredient often found in fragrances too. It’s naturally occurring and aids against fungi, mold and yeast though not anti-bacterial. A paraben alternative with shorter shelf life and one that needs to be used with other preservatives. Considered a mild preservative and safe long term though can cause skin irritation for some and has lesser carcinogenic concern regarding neurotoxicity and endocrine disruption.

Other:

Sodium Phytate – A salt from of Phytic Acid which is found in the seeds of cereal grains and is derived commercially from corn. Sodium Phytate is a chelating agent usually used in oral care for detoxifying metal agents or treating hard water…

More natural, streamlined and presumably higher priced lotion/semi-liquid/easily absorbed products (as long they’re high quality) should be expected to perhaps harden a bit in cold weather or separate/go a bit runny in hot conditions or after some time. Either is easily remedied though by warming the product a bit or shaking/mixing it. Whereas products like this lotion tend to last longer due to the less desirable ingredients and the amount of them but even many of the ‘best’/priciest brand products will have a blend of synthetic and natural preservatives in which some of the natural ingredients will likely not be labeled or thought of/used as preservatives but do have the properties. Whenever water/aqua is a base ingredient alcohol is often used and preservatives are needed to retain quality and prevent contamination unfortunately. Pure oil or shea/cocoa butter bases don’t need that so much if at all and have longer shelf lives (unless compared to products with parabens in them), they’re not immune to contamination but as long as they’re kept safely and hands are washed before use it’s not such a worry.

Really pure, minimal ingredient products are usually custom made in small batches with a short shelf life and sometimes need to be refrigerated. It’s the age old paying more for less/pure formulations and paying less for more cheap, filler ingredients. Particularly ingredients from palm oil that anybody interested in ethical products will know is a massive environmental issue, not the tree or oil itself by the methods of cultivating, deforestation/loss of habitat and fertile land, use of workers and pollution. Dr Organic state on their website that whenever they can’t source an organic ingredient they use a sustainable natural alternative instead.

That’s the toss up in using lotions over or along with high quality body butters and oils.

Price

£7.39 currently at Holland & Barrett, I think that’s a bit more then when I bought it but remember that H&B do frequent buy-one-get-one-half-price and buy-one-get-one-for-a-penny sales.

THE PACKAGING – Mainly a Disadvantage

I find their packaging to be quite heavy/bulky and for some products less could be more making it easier on you and recycling. The lotions come in the form of squeezy containers, very thick plastic which is very secure against damage and spillage but a pain once you’ve used half of it and have to put more effort into getting the product out. When I get to the point where squeezing the bottle yields nothing and it feels much lighter in weight telling me it’s ready for the bin it’s actually concealing a lot more. Be prepared with a strong pair of scissors as the lid will just not come off, not even with consistent effort lol so I always have to cut off the top half to reveal at least 1 week’s worth of lotion throughout the innards that would be an absolute waste to unconsciously throw away. Note – remember to cover the chopped bottle halves or place them in a container to prevent the lotion drying up and going hard before you can finish it.

CONCLUSION

I like that the first ingredient is aloe vera and not water; I have no problem with water of course but in this day and age it’s hard to know where it’s coming from, what’s in it and how/if it’s been filtered even in organic products. The additional use of coca butter, shea butter and sunflower oil (not sure about the olive oil unsaponifiables which I relate to soap making rather than lotion) for the base help make these lotions nourishing and moisturizing. This particular lotion made a nice barrier and boost for the skin, successfully living up to its ‘anti-aging’ tag in my opinion with complimentary oils and extracts that soothed, calmed, restored, firmed as well as softened.

It was very easy to use, lasted long enough and thankfully in my experience there’s usually a Holland & Barrett on most highstreets but they also have a website making them a helpful and convenient alternative to hunting down appropriate lifestyle products on foot or online especially if looking for organic or plant based products.

I’d rate this 3.5/5 or 7/10 because it is an above average product but the amount of emollients/emulsifiers, preservatives and Sodium Phytate used are offputting plus and I would have preferred Guar Gum over Xanthan. It is still high quality, does what it says it should and large size product for the price although I really don’t need an item to be White in colour or silky. The thickeners I understand but to an extent since I don’t mind thinner lotions though with all the oils and butters in it that shouldn’t be a problem. It seems a case of culmination, adding one ingredient to solve an issue only to need more because of it like the parable of the ‘Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly’.

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mulondon-natural-organic-vegan-skincare

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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.