Thursday 29 September 2011

Skin Deep talks to...

Kristy Goodger, Founder of Elemental Herbology.

On a recent trip to London, I met the fabulous, inspirational and just downright nice Kristy Goodger, founder of Elemental Herbology. Given the success story behind the brand, it's easy to forget that Elemental Herbology is just three years old. I'm delighted to host Kristy as this month's Skin Deep talks to... interview subject.

SD: How did Elemental Herbology come about?
KG: Over the years I have worked with a large number of skincare and spa brands but found there was a bridging divide between the indulgence of natural lines and the results of high performance brands. I was inspired to create a brand that would bridge this divide by using bio-science alongside aroma-therapeutic plant oils to offer our customers products that are equally effective as they are luxurious. And thus, Elemental Herbology was born!

SD: What struggles did you overcome in setting up the business?
KG: Inevitably, there will always be struggles- it's the nature of starting a new business, there will always be lows (as well as highs). It is really tough securing financing and getting a concept off the ground when you are the only employee and working from home with noone to share the journey. However, we launched through SpaceNK in 2008 and after a very successful launch phase, we were rolled out through all 60 stores nationwide, which was a major turning point from which we have literally hit the ground running. Our products are now stocked in 22 countries through some of the most exclusive retail and spa properties.

SD: What is the best aspect of running your own business?
KG: I consider myself very lucky as I absolutely love what I do and get so much pleasure from creating new products and spa treatments. Positive feedback from our customers who say our products not only make their skin look amazing but also make them feel so pampered and indulged is very satisfying.

SD: And the worst?
KG: Perhaps never being able to fully switch off- when you build a business from scratch you care so passionately about every aspect and sometimes it can be difficult to let go.

SD: Who/ what inspires you?
KG: So many things- my family and friends, world travel, learning from different cultures. I'm particularly interested in the Chinese principles of five element theory and was hugely inspired by this when launching Elemental Herbology.

SD: What has been the highlight of your career to date?
KG: Each new breakthrough feels like a highlight such as when we launched at Pennyhill Park, one of the most exclusive spa hotels in the UK. But having said that, my greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the letters and emails we get from customers saying my products have transformed their skin. That is the greatest honour and highlight.

SD: What advice would you give to someone thinking of setting up their own business?
KG: Always remain positive and don't be discouraged if things don't work out first time around. It won't always be a smooth ride but stay focused and strong.

SD: How do you envisage Elemental Herbology developing?
KG: It is my vision to create a global spa brand that is synonymous with the most beautiful and indulgent treatment experience, nutrient rich skincare and cutting edge plant science.

SD: What would you be doing if you weren't running Elemental Herbology?
KG: I love interiors and can't get enough of Elle Decoration and Wallpaper and spending my weekends mooching around interiors shops so in my altered reality I would definitely be an Interior Designer.

SD: If you were to introduce Elemental Herbology to someone for the first time, which product would you recommend they try?
KG: Without a doubt, that would be Cell Food! I really can't get by without it. With balancing long working hours, family life with my baby and frequent flying, I find it's the only thing that keeps my skin nourished and replete. It instantly boosts radiance and I really see a difference when I don't use it so I'd definitely recommend that.

SD: If you could have created any other beauty product/ brand, what would it be?
KG: Chantecaille. They produce such beautiful products and have achieved such a great synergy between the use of high tech plant actives and a sensory and indulgent skincare experience.

SD: What do you predict will be the next big thing in beauty?
KG: Home Spa experience. Taking more time out to pamper ourselves with products that really change the way we look and feel.

SD: What is your number one beauty tip?
KG: Of course basics such as cleansing thoroughly every evening, exfoliating at least once a week and doing a home facial every weekend to balance your skin are the fundamentals of good skincare practice. But I also believe it's very important to find a state of equilibrium where all aspects of your life are in balance, your body and mind will flow in sync and you will naturally look more healthy and vital. I really believe it is essential to have a good work life balance, eat healthy nutrient-rich food, exercise regularly and drinks lots of water but don't be too fanatical or serious. A glass of wine, chocolate pudding or an afternoon on the couch watching films is healthy for the soul. Being too strict can manifest in stress and stress can really deplete the skin and lead to breakouts or just leave your skin looking sallow and dull.

SD: What is your beauty pet hate?
KG: Products that don't have an aroma. Products that incorporate beautiful plant oils are mood enhancing and make any basic skincare routine feel like an indulgence. It is amazing how sensory and enjoyable even a simple facial cleanse can be!

SD: Finally, what does Skin Deep mean to you?
KG: I really look and feel my best when I am eating well and have a nice work/ life balance. Inner vitality and health definitely come from within and it is amazing what a jog around the park can do for getting back your glow. By using wonderful, nutrient rich and indulgent skincare that is just as effective as it is "feel good" further enhances the health and vitality of your skin.

For further information and to check out the product line, visit

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Speed Review: Jurlique Moisturising Hand Sanitiser

I don't actually like hand sanitisers: firstly because I think germs are good & we should embrace them more and also because on the few occasions that I have tried a hand santiser, I've found the high alcohol content to be extremely drying. However, I recognise that they serve a purpose and for many, have become a handbag essential. So, with cold & flu season quickly approaching I decided to give Jurlique's Moisturising Hand Sanitiser a go.
Jurlique Moisturising Hand Sanitiser is designed to elimate 99.9% of germs in seconds after application, leaving hands moisturised and silky smooth. Whilst I can't comment on whether germs were eliminated, I found that the gel dried quickly and did leave my hands feeling smooth. As with most hand sanitisers, the main ingredient is alcohol and it has an overpowering scent during use. The blurb states that Australian Bush Mint provides "highly effective antimicrobial properties to fight germs on contact" and whilst this may be true, I do feel that it's slightly misleading as it gives no mention as to the high alcohol content. I really like the lingering, botanical scent once the gel is dry and I certainly didn't feel that I wanted to wash my hands after using as I, ironically, tend to with standard hand sanitisers. I haven't used the hand sanitiser over a long period of time so am unable to comment on the moisturising effects with prolonged use.
At £5 for 50ml, I believe it's more expensive than standard versions. I'm still not a hand sanitiser convert but compared to others I've used, I liked Jurlique's version.

Monday 26 September 2011

Speed Review: Shiffa Basil, Mint and Black Pepper Body Wash

With my job, I'm very lucky to be sent the latest beauty products to try and because of this, I tend to chop and change regularly as I test out the most recent product to arrive on my doorstep. It's rare that I use a second bottle or tub of product as once I've finished it, something new comes along. There's a few of exceptions to this rule, such as my favourite perfume, my beloved La Biosthetique shampoo, Benefit Badgal Mascara or Elemis' Monoi Moisture Melt but in general, it's fair to say I'm fickle in my product usage.
With this in mind, it's arguably all the more impressive that I'm now enjoying my second bottle of Basil, Mint and Black Pepper Body Wash from Shiffa Dubai.

It may sound like something which belongs in your kitchen not your bathroom but don't let that put you off Shiffa Basil, Mint and Black Pepper Body Wash. I'm currently loving the energising shower gel for use on sluggish autumnal mornings when frankly, all I want to do is hit snooze and roll over. With a predominant hit of mint, the Body Wash smells absolutely incredible and genuinely offers effective energising properties, more so than any other shower gel I've tried. It's certainly bringing some of that famous Dubai sunshine into my morning routine.
The texture of the body wash is quite jelly-like and a little goes a long way. It's a natural shower gel without SLS so there's no real lather to speak of but I like that it leaves my skin feeling conditioned.
The presentation is suitably luxurious- a sleek, slimline bottle presented in a ribboned box. When I first tried Basil, Mint and Black Pepper Body Wash, I didn't really like that you had to pour the product out of the bottle to dispense it so I'm pleased that they've listened to feedback and my second bottle has a handy pump offering much more control.
At over £20 for 200ml, it's not cheap but is justified in that it's more affordable than my Starbucks habit.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Speed Review: John Frieda Salon Shine Ionic Hairdryer

I wasn't planning on reviewing my new hairdryer, the John Frieda Salon Shine Ionic Hairdryer, on here, presuming that it wouldn't be a topic which people would be interested in reading about. After all, I've always purchased hairdryers based on the in-store offer or received as a Christmas gift and only tried this after being gifted it by the PR. However, when a friend recently asked me for my recommendation, I decided to run this post.

I have fine hair but quite a lot of it. Although it tends not to take too long to dry, it is susceptive to frizz. So, would a hairdryer make a difference? Quite simply, yes.
But let's start with the design itself. A sleek silver colour which looks smart, I like that it's comfortable and lightweight to hold. There are 3 heat settings and 2 speed settings and the 2200W dryer has a professional, salon quality motor. The cord is also quite long (3m) which is handy for me as my electrical socket is the other side of my bedroom to my mirror.
I've timed how long it takes me to style my hair using this and it took just 3 minutes, an improvement on my standard hairdryer and perfect for when I'm getting ready in a hurry. I really feel that it delivers on claims of creating smoothness and shine and whether or not this is actually down to the "advanced ionic technology" (the hairdryer releases a stream of ions to surround and condition each strand of hair, neutralising static, smoothing the outer layer of the hair cuticle and controlling frizz), it's made a huge difference to my naturally frizzy hair. I like that the cool air shot genuinely does give a blast of cool air to help set styles.
I'm so impressed with John Frieda Salon Shine Ionic Hairdryer and honesty don't know how I ever lived without it. I'd highly recommend it, particularly if you naturally have thick or frizzy hair.
At £60, it's not cheap so it might be worth shopping around for offers or buying when Boots are running an advantage points promotion.

A very belated post...

Whoops- this one completely slipped through the net. I meant to post a link to the lovely Eyelining Obsessions blog who featured me in her blogger interview series. Sorry for the delay- still, I hope you'll head on over to her blog and check it out, it's especially good if you're on the hunt for some bargain beauty buys.
Click here to read the post.

Friday 23 September 2011

Speed Review: The Body Shop Spa Wisdom Moroccan Black Olive & Argan Oil Scrub

As a general rule, I tend to opt for rich salt scrubs suspended in balm style formulas for indulgent and thorough exfoliation. However, at this time of year, I like to use a lighter body scrub for a gentle exfoliation which keeps my tan looking fresh whilst maintaining the hint of colour and the Moroccan Black Olive & Argan Oil Scrub from The Body Shop's Spa Wisdom range fits the bill perfectly.

I rather like The Body Shop's Spa Wisdom range for affordable home pampering and recently included the Moroccan Black Olive & Argan Oil Body Scrub in a home spa piece for one of the magazines I write for. Although not the most functional (a tube would work bettter with the texture of the scrub), I really like the packaging which looks fab in the bathroom.
The gel itself feels very soft and the texture reminded me of lightly set jelly, without the stickiness. I expected to have to use a lot so was pleasantly surprised that you only need to use a little.
During use, the scrub is so gentle that it doesn't feel effective so if you like to feel your products working, this might not be the best choice for you. Having said this, my skin was left feeling soft and smoother than I antipated. The effects weren't to the same extent as with a salt scrub but I didn't want them to be so this lived up to my expectations and for this reason, I'd happily pay the reasonable £12 pricetag for 200ml.
The scent is difficult to describe but certainly not unpleasant and lingered delicately on my skin.
Just a couple of bugbears..The ingredients list does seem unnecessarily long and filled with unprounacable preservatives and suchlike but then I admit to being biased as I prefer my products natural.
And finally, a word of warning- this left a real mess in my shower as the olive stone granules don't dissolve in the same way as a salt or sugar based scrub does.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Speed Review: Organic Blue Wake Up Mandarin & Ginger Shower Gel

We don't really know the long term implications of choosing organic or non-organic beauty options, however, there's one area where I've experienced noticable benefits by choosing organic even in a short space of time so I felt this would be a suitable conclusion to Skin Deep's Project Organic. That area is shower gels and by swapping from SLS laden versions to natural and organic options, the condition of my skin has vastly improved especially when it comes to dryness and patches of eczema.
So, on with the final review of Project Organic, which looks at Organic Blue's Wake Up Mandarin & Ginger Shower Gel. I'm a big fan of aromatherapy shower gels and especially look out for energising and uplifting benefits at this time of year. This appealed on the basis that it comprises invigorating mandarin and stimulating ginger.
This is the first product I've tried from Organic Blue, a British brand inspired by global influences which creates products which maximuse the use of certified organic ingredients. The products incorporate aromatherapy to benefit mind as well as body. Dannii Minogue is a fan.

On first impressions, I didn't really like the blue packaging as it seemed rather early 1990s but considering the name, I actually think it works.
I was really impressed with the product itself, particularly the texture of the shower gel. Despite being 100% organic, Organic Blue Wake Up Mandarin & Ginger Shower Gel successfully recreates the formula of a traditional shower gel- other natural shower gels I've tried previously have tended to be quite liquid- so I'd say this is a good option for first time users of natural shower gel. The scent itself wasn't particularly to my personal taste as I found it very heavy on the citrus but it didn't linger on my skin afterwards so I could happily overlook this.
At £3.99 for 250ml, Organic Blue Wake Up Mandarin & Ginger Shower Gel represents fantastic value for money so why not give it a go?

I hope you've found Skin Deep's Project Organic useful. I'd love to hear any comments you have and your experiences if you've decided to switch to organic.

Speed Review: Organic Glam Liquid Shimmer Highlighter

I've previously blogged about organic makeup being relatively difficult, although far from impossible, to find. I thought an apt follow-on from my Organic Pharmacy body scrub review earlier this week would be a review of Liquid Shimmer Highlighter from the makeup arm of the brand, Organic Glam.
I love using highlighters to pep up skintone so I was intrigued to try this, particularly as makeup tends to sit on the skin for long periods of time and therefore, I feel that it's worth considering organic options.
The packaging is quite sleek although I wasn't overly wowed by it. The square tube has a small brush applicator integrated into the lid which is a nice touch, although it's quite fiddly to work with when highlighting larger areas such as cheekbones and doesn't lend itself to blending. Still, it's handy for precision application such as along the nose. I like that the tube is transparent so that you can see how much product is remaining.

The soft texture is pleasant and creamy and dries to feel like a powder, adding to its staying power.
I like that it's available in three shades; Warm Gold, Silver Ice or, as I trialled, Pink Ice. I was impressed with the colour itself although I found that the high degree of shimmer particles meant that it wasn't particularly wearable on an everyday basis.

At £19.95 for just 5ml, it is expensive and you can find very similar non-organic products which offer far better value for money and personally, this is the most off-putting aspect of Liquid Shimmer Highlighter. For this reason, I'd only recommend investing if organic is particularly important to you.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Speed Review: The Organic Pharmacy Cleopatra's Body Scrub

If you're trying organic for the first time then may I direct you to The Organic Pharmacy? With fans including Kylie Minogue and Donna Air, this is modern organic beauty at its best (and f.y.i the Carrot Butter Cleanser is to die for).
The clean white packaging is far from worthy and is instead sleek and luxurious with well thought out details such as the inclusion of spatulas for hygenic and convenient dispensing from tubs.
I've been testing Cleopatra's Body Scrub which is made with 75% organically produced ingredients.

With a blend of both sugar and salt granules, it's an effective scrub yet it feels gentle on the skin. The thick scrub even has rose petals suspended within it and it's these, along with Ylang Ylang and Rose Geranium which lend it a gorgeous, grown-up fragrance without being overbearing.
Following use, my skin felt wonderfully nourished and pampered which I'm putting down to the inclusion of honey and olive oil in the scrub.
At £37.95, Cleopatra's Body Scrub has a pricetag fit for a queen however, I do feel that this is a quality product and you receive a generous 400ml for your money. Highly recommended.

Monday 19 September 2011

Neal's Yard Remedies: Product Amnesty

As you'll know following my review this weekend, I'm a big fan of Neal's Yard Remedies who are celebrating their 30th anniversary this year.
In recognition of the milestone, the natural and organic brand has announced a Product Amnesty, starting today and running until 25th September. The Amnesty is designed to make you more aware of what ingredients you're putting onto your skin and act as an invitation to switch to a more natural alternative. Simply bring along your not-so-natural products to any Neal's Yard Remedies store and in exchange, receive 20% off their products. It's such a fantastic opportunity to check out the British brand. To help with your clearout, I've put together a quick snapshot of common ingredients which you'll find in non-organic products.

Mineral oil- a by-product of the petroleum industry, do you really want to put something on your face that you put in your car? If that doesn't put you off, products containing this merely sit on the skin and act as a barrier, not offering any additional conditioning benefits and can clog pores.
Parabens- preservative ingredients which have become quite a point of contention within the beauty industry- some say they're perfectly safe, whilst others have cited a link with breast cancer and reduced sperm count.
Sodium lauryl sulfate- a cheap detergent which gives products such as shampoo and shower gels their lather but can strip skin of it's natural oils. I've made a conscious effort to avoid SLS which I've found pretty easy to do and feel that my skin has benefitted from the choice.
Triclosan- commonly found in toothpaste, the safety of this antibacterial and antifungal agent is currently under review.

Sunday 18 September 2011

Speed Review: Trilogy Rose Hand Cream

There's certainly a rosy outlook on Skin Deep this weekend with my second review looking at Trilogy's Rose Hand Cream.

If you're not familiar with the brand, Trilogy hails from New Zealand and the products are based on Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, renowned for its rejuvenating properties. There's a cute family story behind the brand as it was set up nine years ago by two sisters, Sarah Gibbs and Catherine de Groot who wanted to create a simple, vital and pure skincare line and it's these three traits which inspired the name Trilogy.

The Trilogy packaging is clean and modern and that of the Rose Hand Cream is no exception. Presented in a matte 50ml tube, it's functional and a convenient size. I really like the cream- it's conditioning with a rose fragrance. The cream itself is lightweight and easily absorbed, without a greasy residue- overall, a very pleasant texture and it's easy to see why it has been recognised as an award winner in the Anti-Aging Beauty Bible. I'd happily pay the £9.50 it costs.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Speed Review: Neal's Yard Remedies Wild Rose Daily Moisture SPF30

Neal's Yard Remedies may not be the first beauty brand which springs to mind, they're not big advertisers after all, but I really like their products. This year, the proudly British brand is celebrating 30 years of organic loveliness and accordingly, there are lots of exciting new launches.
One of the new launches which really caught my attention was Wild Rose Daily Moisture SPF30 because it's notoriously difficult to create stable, organic SPFs and Neal's Yard Remedies deserve special recognition as it is the first sunscreen to be certified by the Soil Association. It also provides UVA and UVB protection. Although we're now moving out of what can only be described as this year's pathetic excuse for summer, I wear SPF on my face year round so I still feel that this is a relevant product.
I don't love the Neal's Yard Remedies packaging but it's easily recognisable and certainly not offensive. The tube format is functional and the 50ml size means it's flight friendly if you are planning on jetting off to warmer climates (or skiing for that matter). I like that the box provides clear information regarding the eco credentials of the product, which is 56% organic.
The sunscreen itself is 100% mineral zinc oxide so it's a good option for sensitive skin types. The good news is that physical sunscreens (i.e. mineral based ones which create a block against harmful rays as opposed to chemical ones which absorb them) no longer equal ghostly white residue so put aside any preconceptions that Wild Rose Daily Moisture SPF30 will leave you rivalling Casper, it won't.
As tends to be the case with physical sunscreens, the texture is thick and for this reason, it won't be to everybody's liking. It's actually quite an unusual texture in that the cream itself feels thick to apply yet it dries onto skin with a powder-like feeling that's almost akin to silk. If you don't like the scent of roses, you won't like this as it is quite strongly fragranced due to the inclusion of antioxidant wild rosehip oil, along with milk thistle extract to fight free radicals.
Overall, I'm really impressed with Wild Rose Daily Moisture SPF30 and at £23.50 for 50ml, I feel that it is worth every penny. Here's to another 30 years Neal's Yard Remedies!

Thursday 15 September 2011

Speed Review: Madara Ecolips Softening Lip Balm

Firstly, apologies for my silence this week readers... I'll be catching up with lots of blog posts so stay tuned!

Anyway, on with my review of Madara Ecolips Softening Lip Balm which is the first product I've tried from Madara. I really like the ethos behind the brand which believes that natural ingredients offer the best protection for our bodies. The message that "Madara natural and active ingredients help to fight distress, illnesses, allergies and other harm caused by environmental pollution and human alienation from nature" may be pushing things somewhat but I appreciate where they are coming from. Marketing blurb usually draws me in but I did find that some of the Madara information verges on overkill, for example "Madara products have been specially developed in a way which allows us to mimic the way that flowers cleanse themselves"... REALLY??!

The box which the lipbalm is presented in is also rather worthy, a green cardboard to really hammer home the eco message, just in case you missed it. However, the lipbalm tube inside makes up for it with its sleek matte white presentation which feels far more luxurious than the box suggests. Plus, it's functional as you can apply directly to lips which I find more hygenic than a pot and fingers, particularly on the go!
The lipbalm has reasonable eco credentials as it is 100% natural and with 67% organic ingredients, it's earned the well regarded EcoCert certification. I like this as it makes sense to me to choose lip products which are as natural as possible. However, it does contain lanolin so not a product for vegetarians.
The balm itself is the perfect texture- soft, not gloopy and just thick enough that it feels nourishing to apply without being difficult to squeeze out of the tube. It has a fruity fragrance which I found quite pleasant.
At £9.90, it's not cheap but I'd definitely recommend this and will be carrying a tube in my handbag as the temperatures drop.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Speed Review: Lavera Trend Sensitiv Organic Tinted Moisturising Cream

I quite like natural German brand, Lavera, although I do feel that the packaging is generally in need of an update. Although organic skincare and bodycare is now ubiquitous, makeup options remain fairly limited so I was intrigued to try this Organic Tinted Moisturising Cream. Ok, it's still skincare to an extent (although Lavera do have a makeup line) but incorporates colour for those who require some coverage.
In fact, I was surprised at the level of coverage provided. Although it feels lightweight and is by no means as heavy as a foundation, it is heavier than I've come to expect from a tinted moisturiser.
I was sent "Natural" shade and for me, the colour was a little dark. Looking on the website, it seems that there are 5 shades offered so not hugely extensive but there is some choice. I'd say that you definitely need to try before you buy as I was surprised at how dark the "natural" shade came out.

Although I generally think that Lavera packaging needs updating, I didn't mind the presentation of the Tinted Moisturising Cream which reminded me somewhat of Bourjois' Bio Detox Organic Foundation. It doesn't look expensive but it is functional and I liked that the pump dispenser means that there's no wastage. My one complaint would be that I'd prefer a transparent bottle so that I'd know when I was running low.
Suitable for all skin types, I found that it felt very wearable. I could definitely tell that I was wearing more than a standard moisturiser but still felt that my skin was able to breathe. Being a cream formula, it gives a modern, dewy finish which I really liked.
I'm not hooked- I still prefer my Heaven by Deborah Mitchell Tinted Moisturiser but this is an affordable option worth checking out at £11.90 for 30ml.

Friday 9 September 2011

Speed Review: Beyond Organic Rescue Salve

Beyond Organic is a range of 100% natural, certified organic skincare which hails from Cornwall. The packaging has a homemade feel to it which is functional if not particularly luxurious.

I was sent Organic Rescue Salve which contains Chamomile and Calendula. It's made around a base of Sea Buckthorn Oil which deeply penetrates the skin and has been used in the treatment of burns. It's a handy little multitasker to keep in the bathroom cabinet to treat the whole family as it is designed to help with skin irritations such as eczema, dermatitis and even psoriasis. It can also help with bites, grazes, cuts, rosacea and inflamations.
The Organic Rescue Salve isn't cheap at £28.86 for 50ml. A little of this rich cream goes a long way and delivers on its promises of soothing skin via pure ingredients and for this reason, I think it's worth the money.
However, I do feel that there are more indulgent organic products on the market for the price and if you're new to organic beauty, I'd recommend either checking these out first or trying a more affordable product and working your way up. I was surprised at both the texture and the colour of the salve as I expected it to be a balm formula but I was impressed with the results.

There are plenty of Beyond Organic products to choose from, whether you like the temptation of chocolate lip balm or the simple effectiveness of organic body oil. Visit for details.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Speed Review: NEOM Sensuous Candle

Well, it certainly seems as though Autumn has arrived if today's awful weather is anything to go by. I have to confess that I'm a bit pathetic when it comes to wintry weather and try my hardest to avoid facing the elements. After all, why would I want to be outdoors getting blown to bits and soaked to the skin when I could be tucked up in cosy cashmere in the warm indoors with a good book and a scented candle burning.
My choice of candle, as you may remember from last year's Skin Deep blog awards, is one from the gorgeous NEOM Organics range. I absolutely adore them. Yes, they're pricey but the eco credentials mean that I can truly relax, safe in the knowledge that I'm not inhaling nasties. If there's one area where it makes sense to me to choose organic, it's candles. Standard candles are often made with a base of paraffin wax or incorporate cheap, synthetic scents which is why they burn with black soot- not something I want to breathe in, thanks. NEOM candles are made using the finest organic ingredients (a minimum of 70%) and contain the highest legal amount of pure essential oils for a truly therapeutic experience. What's more, they are made using vegetable waxes and hand poured into chic recyclable containers in the UK, completed with pure cotton wicks. It's hardly surprising that Kate Middleton is a fan.

I was excited to hear about NEOM's new limited edition candle, Sensuous which combines Ylang Ylang, Frankincense and Patchouli. It's a warm, soothing fragrance yet it isn't overwhelming. Sensuous is a very likeable scent, ideal for this time of year and I found that the fragrance delicately lingered within a short time of being lit. I tried the travel candle which is designed to give up to 20hrs burn time, although I have to admit that mine seemed to burn quite quickly. Having said that, I do feel that the travel candles offer fantastic value for money at £13, making them a great option if you want to try NEOM for the first time. The limited edition Sensuous fragrance is also available in the larger, 3-wick version for which NEOM are famous and is encased in a black glass tumbler for a change. I definitely recommend NEOM Sensuous candle and why not pick up a couple of extras? They make the most wonderful gifts.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Speed Review: Badger Cheerful Mind Balm

I'm a big fan of Badger Balms, which I first discovered back at university when my flatmate's mum kindly bought us a tin of the good-enough-to-eat Tangerine Breeze Lip Balm each. The quirky tins are so cute, not to mention handy to throw into a handbag or pop into a desk drawer.
New from the brand are the slightly larger tins of Mind Balms. There's a Tension Soother,Clear Mind Balm, Yoga & Meditation Balm and, last but by no means least, Cheerful Mind Balm, which I was sent to try.
Cheerful Mind Balm contains essential oils of sweet orange & neroli (renowned for their uplifting properties), lemon, rosemary, spearmint, ylang ylang and cinnamon to name just a few. It makes for an unusual yet pleasant, natural scent.
The aromatherapy balms have impressive eco credentials as each is 100% natural and at least 80% organic. I like that the balms are easy to use- simply massage onto hands or temples- so there's no getting to grips with carrier oils and essential oil blends. I tried Cheerful Mind Balm as an alternative to reaching for the chocolate when I felt PMS creeping up on me. It's difficult to say whether the balm itself helped to lift my emotions or if it was simply the act of taking a minute to pause, combined with the soothing action of massage but I certainly found it enjoyable to use.
At £5.99, I think these are an affordable and non-daunting way to try out aromatherapy and I definitely want to try the others in the range. Thumbs up.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Speed Review: Purity Organic Regenerating Overnight Moisturiser

I like the ethos behind Purity Organic Skincare, who use sustainably grown ingredients and are EcoCert certified. Each of the products keeps ingredients to a minimum and, where possible, the ingredients used across the skincare line are the same so that the products are neither overwhelming to your skin or your wallet. Plus, it's a British brand, something which I always like to support.
I've been meaning to try Purity Organic Regenerting Overnight Moisturiser for a while and my Project Organic created the perfect opportunity. Although I've previously tried Purity Organic Anti-Aging Serum & Mask and been impressed, the distinctly underwhelming plastic packaging means that Purity Organic isn't a brand which has remained particularly memorable.
All of the products are suitable for vegetarians and many (although not Regenerating Overnight Moisturiser which contains beeswax) are suitable for vegans so it's definitely a range worth checking out if you need your products to comply with such criteria. Purity Organic Regenerating Overnight Moisturiser is 98% natural and 76% organic.

Although the directions state to apply liberally, you really only need a very small amount of this as the cream is incredibly rich. The pot is going to last forever! I found it took quite some time and effort to get it to sink into my skin although it meant that I paid more attention to facial massage than I confess I usually do. If you have oily skin, you probably won't like the texture of this. I like that it's fragrance free, making it a good option for those with sensitive skin.
Personally, I don't feel that this is sufficiently hard working to give noticable results to those starting to show signs of aging. It's a fairly basic cream in a plastic pot and I have to say that I wasn't wowed by this. I wasn't expecting miracles although it has good hydrating benefits and is very reasonably priced at £7.99 for 50ml so I'd recommend this to anyone looking for their first night cream.


Monday 5 September 2011

Speed Review: Skin Blossom Care & Protect Hand Cream

I love discovering new brands so I was delighted to stumble across the fabulously named, Skin Blossom during the course of my research into organic beauty. What's more, I like to support small businesses.
Certified by the Soil Association, Skin Blossom was started in 2007 with the mission of creating affordable, safe and effective skincare as they believe that everyone is entitle to healthy, beautiful skin. The range of skin, hair and body products is made using the maximum possible certified organic ingredients and is, of course, free from nasties such as petro chemicals, DEA, SLS and artificical fragrance & colour.
I was sent Care & Protect Hand Cream to try which contains 92% organic ingredients.

At £5.35 for 60ml, I feel that Skin Blossom Care & Protect Hand Cream offers excellent value for money given its organic credentials. The tube is a handy size which is as easy to throw into a handbag as it is to keep in your car or desk drawer.
My only gripe would be that, to me, the word "protect" in skincare suggests that there should be some form of SPF included. It's notoriously difficult to create an organic SPF so I can let this go, despite being slightly disappointed. I also wouldn't describe it as a cream. It's a wonderfully lightweight lotion which is easily absorbed and didn't leave a greasy residue, something I really hate in a hand cream so this was definitely a bonus.
It's delicatly scented with rose geranium which is pleasant without being overbearing.
I found it nourishing, enjoyable to use and would recommend this.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Speed Review: Kneipp NatuRenew Organic Body Oil

Regular readers will know that I'm a big fan of body oils as a quick way to nourish my skin. There's no faffing about rubbing in as with a lotion, or waiting for it to absorb as with a rich cream so I tend to use oils when I need to be ready in a hurry.
I'd never heard of Kneipp before and certainly have no idea how to pronounce it- neep? knee-ip? Apparently it's a world renowned spa brand so when I was sent a bottle of the recently launched body oil, I was keen to try it.

Now I have to admit that on first impressions, I didn't find the packaging particularly exciting. It's that typically worthy style for organic products which I thought we'd moved on from. Having said that, it's functional enough and the dropper allows for controlled dispensing.
Kneipp NatuRenew Organic Body Oil contains a blend of nutrient-rich golden safflower and olive oils, along with grapefruit and it's this which really comes through in the fragrance. The scent is a tempting blend of sweet citrus fruits which I really liked although I didn't find that this lingered on my skin.
It sinks in easily and locks in moisture without leaving a greasy residue. My skin felt nourished for the entire day. It's also supposed to help improve the appearance of skin conditions such as stretch marks, dry patches, scars and have a firming effect, although I haven't been using it for long enough to notice any of these benefits.
At £8.95 for 100ml, I feel that this offers fantastic value for money and definitely recommend it.

Saturday 3 September 2011

Speed Review: The Body Shop Nutriganics

Today marks the start of the annual Organic Fortnight and to celebrate, I'll be showcasing an organic beauty product each day for the 2 weeks. Whether you're dubious about the effectiveness of organic beauty or already a die-hard fan, I hope you'll enjoy the reviews and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
First up, The Body Shop's Nutriganics range which I've chosen as an introduction because The Body Shop is everywhere and therefore, it's an easily accessible brand if you're looking to try organic beauty. The Nutriganics range was launched in October 2009 and carries the well-respected EcoCert mark.
Given that The Body Shop was always at the forefront of campaigns such as Against Animal Testing and Fairtrade (Community Trade), I've been disappointed that it's taken them this long to release an organic beauty line and that the range is so limited, having finally arrived back in 2009 when organic beauty was already well within the average consumers' consciousness.
Nutriganics has been specially designed to target the first signs of aging and with prices starting at £8, it's affordable organic skincare. I was sent the Smoothing Mask to try which is described as an intensive cleanser to leave skin feeling smooth.
The ethical credentials don't stop at the 98% natural and 42% organic ingredients as it also contains fair trade organic Babassu Oil from Brazil, fair trade organic sugar from Paraguay and fair trade organic olive oil from Italy.
Presented in one of The Body Shop's recognisable tubs, it's sleek albeit not particularly luxurious. The mask itself is a clay based formula which I found quite thick and therefore difficult to smooth over my face. It has a pleasant, fresh scent which reminded me of more expensive products.

After the directed 10 minutes, the mask hadn't completely dried onto my skin so it remained comfortable with no tight feeling. I needed to moisturise afterwards but I certainly didn't feel that my skin had been stripped, which it can with some clay products. I always find clay based masks difficult to rinse off but this wasn't TOO bad.

Being clay based, it's inherantly going to give your skin a deep clean so I find the description a little overzealous, plus I expected some exfoliating benefits given the "smoothing" description and although it contains sugar, I didn't notice any granules within the mask, nor did I feel that my skin had been effectively exfoliated.
I can't say that it's made any overwhelming difference to my skin but I enjoyed the pampering experience. 
At £14, you get a fair amount of product for your money and a little goes a long way (I think you'd get at least 10 masks out of the tub) so in that respect, it's good value for money. However, I'd personally prefer to invest in something more results driven.

This week I'm loving....

Lucas Papaw Ointment

For some reason, I've had really chapped lips recently and my standard lip balm wasn't quite up to the job so I had a rummage through my trusty "things to try" box and dug out my tube of Lucas Papaw Ointment, which I picked up at a trade fair a few months back.
Lucas Papaw Ointment is a cult product, best described as Australia's equivalent of 8hr cream but with more natural credentials. It's a handy little multipurpose balm which can be used to treat boils, burns, chaffing, cuts, cracked skin, gravel rash, splinters, open wounds, insect bites and nappy rash- it's basically Ray Mears in a tube. And a handy tube at that- it's a good size at 25g as a little goes a long way and I like that the bold red colour makes it easy to find in an oversized handbag. I don't actually like papaya but Lucas Papaw Ointment doesn't have a noticable taste, however, it has cured my chapped lips. It's no wonder that the likes of Alexa Chung, Cate Blanchett and Sadie Frost are counted as fans.
I'm super impressed.
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