Sunday, 16 February 2014

How to: Decongesting & Purifying Face Mask

L-R jojoba oil, green clay, manuka honey, raw cacao, cinnamon
Face masks are the simplest products to make yourselves at home. I also believe that home-made face masks are the best because they are freshly made. If you have oily or combination skin, I have a great mask for you! This face mask uses clay to draw out impurities, as well as heating properties of raw cacao powder and cinnamon to really decongest and revive the skin. Raw cacao has more antioxidants flavonoids than blueberries and green tea. In addition, I like to add some nourishing and moisturising ingredients to balance the purifying action of the mask and make sure it is not drying, by mixing in some nourishing oil and manuka honey. 
This mask is very easy to make and perfect for a Sunday evening ritual. The cacao makes it smell chocolaty, so its a real pleasure for the senses. 
What you will need:

  • Clay (I like to use green clay powder)
  • Raw cacao powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Oil (such as olive, argan, coconut, jojoba... )
  • Manuka honey 
  • A little bit of water or green tea
Mixing the clay, cacao & cinnamon first

First I mix the powders together: I use about two tea spoons of clay powder, a 3/4 tea spoon of raw cacao powder and about a 1/3 tea spoon of cinnamon. If you want the mask to have stronger heating properties then use a bit more cacao and cinnamon. However, if you have sensitive skin don't use too much: this face mask really heats up and your skin is quite reddish at the end. I then add a little bit of water: to create a thick yogurt consistency of the mask. Be careful with the water, add it little by little not to make the mask too watery, start off with a tea spoon and add more as you go along if needed. I then stir in about a tea spoon of manuka honey and a few good drops of your chosen oil. What you get at the end is a thick yogurt consistency grey-brown face mask. It smells absolutely delicious thanks to the cacao and cinnamon. 

The ready mixture
The mask on the skin

Put a thick layer on your face and leave for 15-20 minutes. If your skin is quite sensitive, leave only for 10 minutes. When I use more cacao and cinnamon, my face is quite red at the end, and feels quite hot. After the mask the skin feels really clean and refreshed. It's great at drawing out impurities and nourishing the skin at the same time. Raw cacao has lots of benefits and I am surprised how it is not used more often in skincare. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend

I don't know about you, but I find the whole business about Omegas 3,6, 9's quite confusing. Which are better? What ratio? Just as I was looking for a good omega supplement, and was getting confused by all the ratios, I was contacted by Udo's Choice asking if I would be interested in trying out their Ultimate Oil Blend. I often see this brand in many health shops' fridges, so I jumped at the offer because I was very interested in trying a high-quality oil. 
The oil is a pure supplement, it comes in a dark, amber glass bottle. Udo's Choice gives quite strict directions about how the oil should be kept: it should be stored in the fridge and the oil should be consumed within 8 weeks of opening to ensure you are getting the benefits of the freshness of the oils. Perhaps needless to say, all the oils included in the blend are cold-pressed and certified organic. Now to the actual blend. Here is what is included:

Flax Seed Oil*, Evening Primrose Oil*, Sunflower Seed Oil*, Soy Lecithin, Sesame Seed Oil*, Rice Bran and Rice Germ Oils, Coconut Oil*, Oat Bran and Oat Germ Oils*, Mixed Tocopherols (*Certified Organic)

Udo's Choice suggests that consumers currently realize that our diet can be deficient of Omega 3s, which we obtain through foods like fish, nuts and various vegetable oils. They also report that people are presented with an idea that we obtain enough Omega 6s, which are present in some nuts, oils like sunflower oil and some seeds. We also supposingly obtain it from spreads, peanut butter etc. However, what Udo's Choice suggests we don't realize is that most of the Omega 6 oils that we consume are  often damaged in some way: in other words they are not in their best natural format to carry much health benefits. Therefore we might actually not be receiving a good enough amount of good, unrefined, unprocessed Omega 6s, and this should be incorporated in the Omega supplement. Therefore, the choice of oils included in the Ultimate Oil blend includes a 2:1:1 ratio of Omega 3: Omega 6: Omega 9. With this blend you are getting the super-healthy Omega 3 Essential Fatty acids, but not forgetting about the also essential Omega 6 and 9 which are extracted in a clean, unrefined way. 

Due to the delicate structure of some of the oils present in the blend, Udo's Choice recommends the oil is never heated as the structures of the oils can be damaged. At first I thought it may be tricky to incorporate this oil in my food, but in reality it turned out to be very easy. 
The oil is of a dark, rich yellowy-orange colour and has quite a distinctive taste, I would say it is pleasantly nutty. For example, I find that it is too strong for my taste to use only this oil as a salad dressing, but instead I put about a table spoon of this oil and just add some olive oil to 'dilute' the taste a little. So it has been very easy just adding it to salads. 
You can add it to dips, salads, pasta when its cooked. One of my favourite things to do with the oil was to mash up some avocado, a desert spoon or two of Udo's Choice oil blend, some sea salt, black pepper and spread this lovely mix on a rye bread toast. Delicious! With bland tastes like avocado it actually adds a nice richness to the taste. The 500 ml bottle lasted me about 6-7 weeks even though I was adding it to my food on a daily basis. 

Overall I think Udo's Choice is a great way to get your Omegas in the freshest and balanced form. This oil is also perfect for vegetarians and is gluten-free. When taking this oil, in combination with a balanced diet, I was feeling very good and had very good skin over the summer months. I then became very busy and let things slip a little bit, and it definitely was reflected in how I felt/my skin. It is a commitment to remember to incorporate this oil in your food especially if you have a busy lifestyle, but if you get it in your routine you get a great ratio of essential omegas in the freshest, unrefined way! Is anyone taking Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil blend?

Monday, 1 July 2013

Lucy Annabella: Argan & Bergamot Organic Treatment Oil

I have recently been contacted by Lucy Annabella Organics asking if I would be interested in trying out their products for a potential review. To be honest, I did not know much about Lucy Annabella, but I did remember seeing their pretty bottles on a natural products website. After having a quick look at their brand and their ingredients I was very interested!
Lucy Annabella is a brand from Northern Ireland, and its creator, Colleen Harte is a Complimentary Therapist and Clinical Aromatherapist. Being passionate about all things natural and organic, and combining this with her knowledge and interest in the power of aromatherapy, Colleen created Lucy Annabella Organics. The brand incorporates products for body and relaxation. They have a collection of body/massage oils, bath milk and candles The products are all beautifully scented to help people relax and unwind in their busy lifestyles while feeding their bodies with healthy and organic products.
The products of the brand are certified by the Soil Association. I always think that its very important for body care products to be organic because you use so much of them.
Soon after our conversation, a lovely box landed on my doorstep. Upon opening I was delighted to learn that it was a body oil, Argan & Bergamot Organic Treatment Oil. As if knowing my fondness  for body oils, Martina from Lucy Annabella made me very happy to receive this. In addition, my previous body oil was running out, so the timing could not be better.

Lucy Annabella Argan & Bergamot Organic Treatment oil
I recently switched to using body oils instead of moisturisers and have been very happy with the results.  When I looked at the ingredients list, I was excited to see that this oil contained argan oil high up in its ingredients list. I believe that everyone has 'their' oil, that works best for their skin, and I think argan oil is 'mine'. This body oil is a deep yellow colour and comes in a very pretty patterned glass bottle. It contains nine organic oils to revive and nourish the skin. A combination of soybean, argan, sesame, avocado and apricot oils feed the skin with Vitamin E, softening and protecting it. I believe this body oil contains a combination of the most beautiful, skin-nourishing oils out there. The body oil is very delicately scented by organic essential oils of lemon, bergamot, rosemary, lavender and cypresse. I am not a fan of strong, essential oil smells, but the scent of this product is very delicate, refreshing,  and beautifully balanced. It is slightly citrusy, but with more depth to it.The scent does not linger for too long either, which is a bonus for me. It does give you a very uplifting feel when the product is applied.
I use the body oil straight after the shower. Upon the first use I was amazed by how quickly the oil sank in, leaving no residue within a minute. The skin felt incredibly smooth and silky to the touch, and I can honestly say I never had such a quick response to a product. Whenever I use a body oil I always rub the leftovers all over my hands, and I have noticed that after using this oil my hands look don't get dry as they usually do, there is even little need for hand cream. A little bit of the product definitely goes a long way, so this bottle should last ages. I have been using it every other day for over three weeks, and am probably not even a third through the bottle. One thing I would comment on however is that the bottle is not dark glass, therefore sunlight may damage the oils. Its not a problem if you store it in a bathroom cabinet, but I like to keep mine in its box just to be safe.

The body oil on skin
My skin is not particularly sensitive to any ingredients, so I cannot comment on any allergies. But I think because the ingredients are very straight-forward, you will be able to notice anything that you can't tolerate. My skin has been very soft and smooth after using this oil. I would highly recommend it as a very fast-absorbing, nourishing and luxurious skin treatment. After-shower use of this oil uplifts the senses so you feel you are in a country field with a mix of lovely herbal scents on a fresh and sunny day!

Lucy Annabella Organics are available to purchase online at and on 
The products will also be available at the Nutri Centre, The Hale Clinic, 7 Park Crescent, London W1B 1PF 

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Ilia Beauty: beautiful reds

I have noticed that I am coming up with a bit of a collection of red/pink lip colours, mostly from RMS and Ilia beauty brands (RMS colours to follow soon). One of the difficult things about shopping for natural brands that are not so wide-spread is not quite being able to tell what colour it is exactly. The problem with taking photos and uploading them on the blog still remains: the flash and camera distortion still make it impossible to demonstrate the true colour of the lipsticks. Nevertheless, I wanted to do a post showing some of the lip colours that I own and perhaps through seeing them next to each other, some of you would find it useful. 
Ilia beauty colours are amazing. The lip tints are very moisturising and I love how they smell. The greatest thing about them is that you can really play with how much colour you want to get out of them, e.g. one layer gives a nice tint, while if you re-apply a few times you get a proper lipstick-rich colour. And, once you own a few of these pretty things, you can mix up the colours to get something new every time. Here are some of my favourites:

Ilia in Bang Bang

Ilia in Arabian Knights
Ilia in Shell Shock

Ilia Beauty L-to-R: Bang Bang, Arabian Knights, Shell Shock


Sunday, 17 March 2013

S5 Skincare Balance Fluid Review

I first came across S5 Skincare at Content shop in London (literally the best all natural skincare boutique!). I was shopping with my mum who was stocking up on some lovely skincare products, and not wanting to feel left out I thought I should look for something for myself too. My current moisturizer was close to running out, and I was also feeling like it was not providing enough moisture. It was formulated for problem skin prone to breakouts, but it felt like was sort of compromising on the moisture aspect. 
So, in Content, when I explained my situation, I was recommended the Balance Fluid by S5 Skincare, and it sounded so good that I thought why not give it a try? 
Before I review the cream, here is a little background information on the company. S5 Skincare is a relatively new brand, created by Laura Rudoe (who is also behind the affordable natural company Evolve) and Violaine Bargues. There is a beautifully written in-depth background review of the company in Galina's blog if you want to learn more. 
The main ethos of the brand is to use natural, high-quality ingredients to protect the skin from adverse effects of stress and aging. The line is 100% natural and uses very interesting ingredients that come from plants that flourish in  harsh and difficult climates (e.g. the arctic, sea depths, mountains, deserts). After considerable research the brand creators found that these ingredients are very beneficial in helping skin fight stress and look its best. The products contain proven bioactives from 5 most extreme ecosystems, especially formulated to target 5 skin problems/conditions: 
  • Arctic (sensitivity and reactive skin)
  • Alpine (skin pigmentation)
  • Desert (dry skin)
  • Marine (wrinkles and lines)
  • Rainforest (problem and blemish-prone skin)
Today I will be focusing on the Balance fluid, which uses rainforest bioactives to help de-stress and balance the skin, preventing blemishes. Rainforest is an ecosystem that is capable of sustaining rich life throughout extreme weather conditions: torrential rain, extreme heat and humidity. The founders of the skincare found that extracts from the rainforest will help balance the skin, reduce inflammation and provide a 'climate control system' for the skin, where oil production, moisture and nutrition can all be balanced. This is what attracted me to this product: its proposal to balance the skin without compromising on hydration and nutrition.

So far I have only used the Balance Fluid moisturiser. Some of the key actives used in this moisturizer include Epilobium fleisheri, which is an Alpine bioactive found to help reduce inflammation, decrease sebum production and improve skin's appearance. It also contains Arctic Rhodiola, which is ecologically harvested in Siberia. This plant has been shown to improve oxygen consumption in the skin, de-stress the skin and protect it from temperature fluctuations. In addition, the moisturizer contains Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid, which is vital in locking in moisture in the skin, and also reduces skin hyper-reactivity. The product is EcoCert certified organic, with overall 67.99% organic ingredients, and is overall 99.25% natural. Here is the full list of ingredients: 

Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Coco-Caprylate , Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Glycerin, Mica, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Aqua (Water), Isostearyl Isostearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Epolobium Fleischeri Extract*, Rhodiola Rosea Root Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Salicylic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Arachidyl Alcohol , Sodium Dehydroacetate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Behenyl Alcohol, Cellulose Gum, Tocopherol, Arachidyl Glucoside, Gluconolactone, Lauroyl Lysine, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Anisate, Parfum (Natural, Low Allergen Fragrance),  Titanium Dioxide, Talc, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Benzyl Alcohol, Citric Acid.

I found this moisturizer extremely pleasant to use: it sinks into the skin immediately, and smells absolutely delicious, as if of Alpine herbs. The smell is very delicate and I think it must be my favourite moisturiser smell. It has a smooth creamy consistency. I must say that after one application, sometimes my skin did not feel quite moisturised enough, and I would go back and put another small amount on. I have been using the moisturizer for almost two months now, and my skin has been calm and I have not experienced any unpleasant blemishes, maybe a couple occasional ones, but much less than usual. What I also really liked is that the skin felt nourished and well-moisturized after using this product, and I am happy with the overall condition of the skin, not only the blemish aspect of it. This, I guess, is their 'climate control system' really working! The 50 ml pot comes at £39, so it is certainly isn't cheap. But, after using mine for two months, I find that I have used very little, so I think it will last for ages. 
The line also contains specially formulated serums for various skin conditions, and I would now really like to try out their Purity Serum!

S5 skincare line is available at Content instore and online. 

Saturday, 16 March 2013


I thought I'd do a post on the benefits of seeds. These little things have amazing nutritional value, but can often be overlooked. It is very easy to incorportate seeds into your daily food routine, by adding them into smoothies, sprinkling them over toast, porridge or salads, or just eating them in their own right. Lets have a look at a couple of the healthiest seeds out there. 

Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are edible seeds of... um, pumpkins! These have amazing nutritional value. Pumpkin seeds are rich in calories, which mainly come from protein and fats in these seeds. The fats are the good type, they are rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which help to balance the cholesterol levels and may help with prevention of heart disease. Pumpkin seeds are also rich in  amino acids,  tryptophan and glutamate. These, especially glutamate, when converted help sleep, reducing anxiety and irritability. Furthermore, pumpkin seeds are rich in essential minerals, such as copper, magnesium, zinc and calcium among many others. 

Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds come from Sesame plant, which is a tall annual plant, most widely grown in Asia, especially China, Burma and India. The seeds come from the pods that are formed from the flowers on these tall plants. 
Sesame seeds are an amazing source of various essential minerals. Particularly, they are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, manganese and selenium.
These seeds contain plenty of folic acid, which is essential for DNA synthesis. In addition, they are a great source of B-complex vitamins, which help reduce anxiety and neurosis. Sesame is super rich in different fatty acids, which help balance the cholesterol levels. As if all of that wasn't enough, sesame seeds are also rich in different antioxidants, such as sesamol and sesaminol, which help fight-off harmful free radicals within the body. 

Chia Seeds
Chia seeds come from Salvia hispanica plant, which grows abundantly in Southern Mexico, and is actually a member of the mint family. These tiny seeds were an important part of Mayan and Aztec diets back in the day. Chia seeds are super rich in everything it appears! They have a great source of Omega-3, and various anti-oxidants. In fact, it has been written that they are so rich in antioxidants that chia seeds can be stored for lengthy periods of time without deteriorating. Chia seeds are also very rich in fiber (25 grams of chia provide almost 7 grams of fiber), which means that these seeds will help you feel full in a healthy way. Like the other seeds, chia are also a great source of minerals like calcium, phosphorus,  copper, zinc, magnesium, manganese and iron among others. 

Sunflower Seeds
Apparently sunflower seeds began to be used over 5,000 years ago by the Native Americans, and then the Spanish introduced them to Europe and surrounding countries. Some of the benefits of sunflower seeds include its rich content of Vitamin E, which has been linked to preventing cardiovascular disease. Vitamin E is also a great fat-soluble antioxidant, and is therefore anti-inflammatory as it neutralizes free radicals in the body.  These seeds are also rich in magnesium, which helps to maintain healthy bones and also helps maintain healthy nerve cells!

Monday, 9 July 2012

How to: Papaya Face Mask

The papaya mask delicious ingredients
Papaya is an amazing fruit for the skin. It is a great antioxidant due to the very high content of Vitamin A. In addition, papaya fruit contains papain, which breaks down inactive proteins, and therefore helps to remove dead skin cells. This gives this bright orange fruit great exfoliating properties. If that all was not enough, papaya has also been said to have good anti-aging properties due to the high content of alpha-hydroxy acids (the AHAs). In addition, papaya can help with blemishes, uneven skin tone and will bring a lovely glow to the skin. 
I have read about all these amazing papaya qualities, and when I saw a reduced price fruit in a supermarket, I thought 'Why not give it a try?'
The mask is easy to do, but I must confess I did make a bit of a mess in the kitchen when preparing it. But I think it was mostly due to the fact I do not own a blender, and therefore a lot of mushing things up was involved. 
What you need:
- Half a papaya, pips scooped out
- 2 table spoons oats
- A dash of olive/coconut oil
- Juice of about 1/4 of a lemon
In the process
  1. Scoop out the seeds of the papaya and remove the skin. Cut the fruit into small pieces and mush it up either in a blender or with a fork
  2. Grind the oats 
  3. Mix the papaya and the oats together
  4. Add the oil and the lemon juice, and you're set to go!
  5. Apply the mask onto the whole face and neck, avoiding the eye area, leave for 10 mins or so and wash off
The end product...

Using half a papaya was actually enough for two applications. The oats in the mask helps to sooth the skin and add more exfoliation upon rinsing. After the mask my skin was very soft and refreshed, and it felt lovely to apply fresh and completely natural ingredients to my face! Would definitely recommend! My ingredients are only a suggestion, you can alter the recipe to suit your skin, for example you can add honey for sensitive skin, or maybe yogurt... If you try it, let me know how you get on...