simple skincare from Mallow and White

I grew up in a household where women used cosmetics alongside homemade skin and haircare masks, so it is not surprising that while I follow the latest beauty trends, I appreciate simple skincare as well. Mallow and White is a natural brand that was only launched this year, but it is making impressive strides with products that use six or less ingredients.

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Joanna White, Mallow & White founder, worked for BBC Radio for 20 years, studio producing for ‘live’ news programmes, as well as presenting. However her sensitive skin led her to experiment with natural ingredients in her free time, in order to find solution for itching and discomfort. As her experiments successfully evolved, she realised that simple recipes actually delivered effective results, so for seven years she continued to  research, did courses and testing, before re-branding & launching her Mallow & White products ( she used to make soaps and sell them at craft fairs under the brand name White Wash Soaps ). For more insights from Joanna herself, click on her guest post for Curious Russian in London here

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Herdfordshire-based, Mallow & White is a 100% natural capsule facial skincare range, harnessing the potent power of botanical ingredients that promise to pamper & nurture your skin, irrespective of age. The range itself consists of three face oils and three face mask powders. Each is tailored to the special needs of normal/dry (Restore, five ingredients), mature (Revitalise, six ingredients) or sensitive skin (Sooth, five & four ingredients). Products are not mass-produced but hand-crafted instead, with ‘best before’ dates & batch numbers written by hand. My mask also had a lovely ‘made with love’ message.

Mallow & White’s packaging deserves a special mention, if not column inches. It is not just the fact that Joanne consciously  tries to use minimal packaging (don’t worry, everything is securely packaged and arrives intact), but using recycled or recyclable materials, such as class for the face oils and masks. My parcel arrived and when I opened it and found the products lovingly packaged in popcorn and petals, I whooped with delight, like a child. As Joanna explained to me, in reply to my gushing e-mail about her unique packaging concept, ‘it is also fully compostable and great bird food’.

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In addition, 10% of profits is donated to KIVA, a charity that helps to elevate people from poverty. So by purchasing the products ( which are quite well priced: £36 for the 30 mls face oil and £20 for the 30 g face mask ), you will also contribute to changing the world, while enjoying effective, natural skincare.

Before Joanna has sent me her products to try, she asked me about my skin and suggested the products, but as I wanted to give you a little bit of a wider overview in terms of the skin type, I decided to trial RESTORE face Oil, which is suitable for normal & dry skin and SOOTH Face mask for sensitive skin.

Mallow & White RESTORE Facial Oil

The oil comes in a bottle with a handy pipette, so you can control dispensation of the product. Put two to three drops on top of your fingers, read more

Guest post: Q & A with Joanna White, founder of Mallow and White

Often the difference between generic brands and small niche ones is that there is a story behind the latter and a real person, who distills the passion into products, hoping to make the difference in a very saturated market.

Today I want to present to you Joanna White, founder of British skincare brand Mallow + White:

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GAP: What is your professional background?

JW: My professional background has nothing to do with beauty and skincare. I worked at BBC Radio for many years, both on Radio 4 programmes, such as Women’s Hour and Desert Island Discs, and then in the news studios of BBC World Service.

My passion, however, has always deviated towards evocative scents, beautiful looking and feeling skincare.  One of my first memories is of picking up handfuls of stunningly scented rose petals and stirring them vigorously in jam jars for homemade perfume.

For years I had shelves upon shelves of moisturisers, perfumes and hand creams. Unfortunately, my skin started reacting violently to the many highly fragrant products crammed onto my shelves.  Doctors prescribed steroid creams, but I wasn’t too happy with that & instead started cutting down on what I was putting on my skin, and my skin calmed down. I realised that the simpler my skincare was, the better my skin looked and felt.

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GAP: What inspired you to start Mallow and White?

JW: My Eureka moment happened eight years ago, whilst working at the BBC. I was reading a newspaper article about making soap from scratch with olive oil.  I tried it, and it was a revelation!  A simple olive oil recipe was so soothing and moisturising and so completely different from anything that could be found in the shops. For my sensitive skin, 100% natural and minimalist ingredients really worked, so an obsession was born !

Encouraged by a growing band of enthusiastic family and friends, I started selling in craft markets. All of my spare time was taken up by researching the properties of ingredients and designing recipes. My customers loved the effective simplicity of the ingredients in the increasing number of products.  There is nothing so satisfying as hearing the delighted “oohs” and “aahs” of customers trying out the tester pots!

Mallow and White was launched after taking voluntary redundancy from the BBC. Without wanting to sound too morbid, I didn’t want to be lying on my deathbed and wondering what if I’d given it a go. I knew that my simply minimalist recipes were effective and my growing band of loyal customers loved the results on their skin. I just had to go for it. Mallow + White is the result of that big, scary and exciting leap.

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Christmas gifts part two: brands & products

As I said in part one of my post on Christmas gifting, I try to choose and buy my gifts mindfully, hoping that the person for whom it is meant will be genuinely surprised and delighted. At the same time, I prefer to buy & thus support brands or people who combine business acumen with humility & passion for what they do, as this resonates with me as a person. So, shall we begin?

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For the make-up lover

One of the best things related to make-up that I came across this year is a set of make-up brushes designed in collaboration between Bathing Beauty and read more

SkinPoetry facial treatment with John Tsagaris

Sometimes seeing a practitioner you have known for many years but haven’t seen recently leads on a curios path of discovering the changes and new developments. In what seems my past life, I used to see John Tsagaris for body treatments that involved John’s extensive acupuncture knowledge & left me stronger, healthier and centred. John always seemed to stand out as practitioner with his zen-like approach to holistic body treatments and his Chelsea clinic has the air of the same tranquility.

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John travels a lot for his work, jetting from Dubai to Spain via Moscow, where he is now based at Buro Beauty as a resident practitioner a few days every month. Yet he still calls London home and his voice seems to fill with happiness when he mentions it, alongside his own clinic & the clients that he sees there.

The clinic is located at the end of a peaceful Godfrey street, about five minutes away from King’s Road. As soon as you enter, you breath out stress and breath in calm ambiance. With the fire casting a warming glow from fireplace and a glass of Evian waiting for you on the table beside the sofa, all you need to do is fill in a medical questionnaire, before John softly enters, ready to take you upstairs to his treatment room. John offers a variety of treatments but his current focus is on facial rejuvenation and using his skincare line called Skin Point Eight. John hasn’t put the words natural or organic on the packaging but the leaping bunny symbol offers reassurance that his skincare line is indeed more about holistic lifestyle ( fused with scientific approach ) than your average mainstream brand. I will be honest in saying that the price of his products is eye-watering ( ranging from £180 to £360 ) and sadly I couldn’t find the information about ingredients lists on neither John’s website nor online at Harrods, which stocks it exclusively. I guess having a facial treatment with John gave me a good excuse to discover his products, from textures to smells, as well as ask John directly all the questions about them.

Looking after your face is not about anti-ageing, the term that John  clearly dislikes. Instead John looks at your face as a diagnostic landscape, examining & then helping to improve your skin & muscles tone via various techniques, including lymphatic drainage, acupuncture stimulation & facial shiatsu, which increase blood flow and collagen production among other things.

I am sure that John sees some clients who use Botox but when questioned, John says it doesn’t prevent him from treating them – if anything people who have Botox regularly, have more pale skin in the treated area, so he works on improving blood flow to start with & boosting skin radiance.

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John starts with examining my face & asking about my concerns. I take my shoes off and go to lie down on a comfortable treatment table, decked out in fluffy towels and read more

New skincare brand on the block: Holistic Green Beauty

New skincare ranges are being launched all the time or so it seems to me lately, but it’s not often that a person that I know dares to dream big and launch a skincare brand within a couple of years of conceiving it. You might already be familiar with Danny, a wonderfully knowledgeable beauty blogger behind Holistic Green Beauty but now he took a big step into the spotlight in a different capacity – that of a founder of a skincare brand, alongside his business partner Scott.

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Danny is quite young but ever since we started our first conversation about skincare, I knew that his interest in the subject ran quite deep. When Danny started developing products I was ‘entrusted’ with the secret and kept true to my word, even when he has sent me samples that were met with glowing approval by my skin and girlfriends or colleagues started asking what I was using or doing to my skin. To see someone realise his dream is a privilege, to be a trusted friend is an honour but to officially review that products is somewhat daunting, because I need to be honest, yet I feel protective towards Danny from the day when when Holistic Green Beauty was just a dream that he chose to confide in me. Truth be told, I needn’t have worried, as Danny takes skincare genuinely seriously and his perfectionism shows as soon as you pick up the packaged products.

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Danny has sent me preliminary information before an official launch and asked me what I wanted to try, having enquired about my skin type, just to be sure. I also took on board his recommendations and in late October I received a parcel with two full-sized products, a Chocolate Cleansing Balm and a Pink Lotus Cellular Repair Oil for my face. So the trial began, with me wearing ‘triple’ hat: that of consumer, of a journalist and the heaviest of them in this instance, a friend.

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The packaging is subtle but eye-catching and unique, you certainly won’t confuse it with another brand. There is reflection in it and attention to detail and the jar for the cleansing balm, as well as the face oil & mist bottles are made from Miron glass, to protect the ingredients and formula potency.

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Now, let me start with the HGB Chocolate Cleansing Balm that you are initially more likely to want to lick than put on your face, as it smells of chocolate, cookies and caramel – the best desert not meant for your stomach. Danny told me that the balm is solidified and to make sure I don’t keep it in a warm place, as it can melt. The jar comes with a little spatula with which you are meant to scoop a small amount of the product (making sure you don’t introduce dirt or bacteria in it, thus keeping the ‘integrity’ of the formula intact), put it on the tips of your fingers and gently emulsify it for a few seconds, before massaging it thoroughly all over your face, in the upward direction. By the time you start massaging the balm into your skin it softens and turns into a consistency that I can only describe as an almost liquid oil that smells of enticing happiness. Focus on massaging your face for at least thirty seconds ( regular massage stimulates the cells that release collagen, thus improving skin elasticity ), add some water, massage further, with a cleanser emulsifying and then take a muslin cloth that comes with the cleanser and wash it off you face. Danny & Scott recommend using the cloth in the evenings, for gentle exfoliation.

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To be honest I prefer to wash the cleanser off with my fingers and warm water, without the use of the cloth but bear in mind that a clean (!) cloth used daily will act as a gentle exfoliator and buffer for your skin, which is beneficial for speeding up cell turnover from 30 upwards. I have also tried using it with my Foreo and while the result is good, I still prefer to massage this product in to my face with the tips of my fingers, varying degree of pressure, inhaling the scent and letting the worries of the day go down the drain with the water. Goodbye grime and daily worries, hello beautifully cleansed, soft skin that feels moisturised even before I apply anything to it, following the cleanser.

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Key Ingredients:

Wild-crafted Mafura Butter & Organic Cacao Butter: revitalises, calm & nourishes, leaving skin super soft.

Acai berry, Organic Cacao extract, Green Tea & Rosehip: potent antioxidants that help to fight free radical damage.

Organic Coconut, Almond, Avocado & Sunflower Oils: hydrate skin & provide it with essential nutrients that boost radiance.

Calendula & Copaiba: sooth skin & help to decongest it.

HGB Chocolate Cleansing Balm, 100mls, £45 (incl one organic muslin cloth)

HGB Pink Lotus Cellular Repair Oil is one of the two oils that is part of the initial Holistic Green Beauty product release, in part because Danny and Scott are big believers in the efficacy and power of facial oils, provided they are created from high quality ingredients. This oil is seabuckthorn orangey in colour and does have a strong smell – I wasn’t initially sure of it but after a few days of use, it grew on me. Scent is a very personal thing – some of us prefer stronger smelling products, others like subtle smells and of course there are those who like scent-free products for various reasons.

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One or two drops of the oil ( the pump is quite good at dispensing the right amount of the oil that you will need and it doesn’t create a mess that some pumps do, spraying contents everywhere ) is enough for your face and neck. Apply it to a slightly damp skin and with gentle upward strokes massage it all over, avoiding lip and eye area. You can use it both in the morning and evening but I ‘tested’ it by using it at night-time. When you apply it, it leaves behind some sheen initially. Having said that, this oil sinks in within a couple of minutes without a trace, so you can easily apply make-up on top of it, if using it in the morning.

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The main aim of this particular face oil is to help repair & heal the skin from the damage inflicted by daily stress and pollution. It not only hydrates your skin ( and is even more effective when you apply it to slightly damp skin) but helps to improve elasticity (thus making wrinkles and fine lines more plumped up then grooved into your face), assists in repairing sun damage ( consider incorporating sun protection into your daily skincare routine and your skin will thank you by somewhat ‘slower’ appearance of the signs of ageing, like pigmentation ) and adds radiance to lacking complexions. And thanks to the Pink Lotus, known for its antioxidant properties and natural AHAs, you cell renewal process will be improved, which is particularly handy if you are – no, not over the rainbow, but over the age of 30.

Would I say it is the best face oil that I have tried, considering the price? No, it didn’t move my favourite face oils off from the shelf for the time being but it certainly deserves the spotlight for its reparative properties alone, as the list of ingredients that work hard on improving your skin, particularly if it has taken the beating from the elements, stress and pollution is impressive. Would I buy it myself ? In order to answer that question, I will need to finish the bottle first and look in the magnifying mirror without prejudice. For now my skin is plump and even but I at this stage I, personally, contribute this to the effect of the cleanser. I have , however, been getting compliments on my skin lately, which is a good endorsement of the skincare routine that I currently follow.

Key Ingredients:

Pink Lotus: encourages process of cell renewal

Organic read more

Meet Nuori Skincare, a Scandinavian fresh beauty brand

People who live in Scandinavia are not only blessed with good looks genes, they tend to lead a more holistic and nature appreciating lifestyle. Yes, a lot of time is spent outside, which can ‘weather’ the skin but I know many people whose skin is beautifully enviable and leads to a question ‘what do you use on your skin’ ? When Content exclusively launched Nuori skincare products in September, I jumped at a chance to meet Jasmi Bonnen and ask her about her ‘fresh skincare’ concept in person.

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Jasmi used to work at L’Oreal and having researched the subject of skincare ‘shelf life’, she decided to create her own line of products ( at the moment there are eleven ) based on the principles of efficacy and freshness. We prefer to eat fresh food, so Jasmi applied the same concept when creating Nuori, making sure that products are created in small batches every 12 weeks. You have ingredients of natural origin, which are also pure, as they don’t contain synthetics normally needed to extend shelf life. Add to that vitamins, amino acids, plant extracts and essential oils and you get a ‘freeze frame’ of what Nuori is about.

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When you pick up any Nuori product you have two dates stamped on it: a ‘start-using-by date’ meaning the time by which it is recommended you start using the product, at the latest, as the ingredients would be most potent and the more familiar ‘expiry date‘, which is when you should replace your Nuori product with a fresh one. My first purchase was Vital Foaming Cleanser, which had a start date of November 29th, 2015 and an expiration of February 16th, 2016. Initially, speaking to Jasmi, I found the concept a little baffling but as I started using the products the concept made more sense. I buy my food fresh and enjoy the freshness and maximum nutritional value that it gives to my body, why shouldn’t I do the same for my skin ? I remember my grandmothers making strawberry or egg masks for their faces, so this concept, if you think of it, fuses the past and the present of beauty perfectly and sums up Nuori message to its customers.

1) you have efficacy of active ingredients that aren’t weakened by time-related breakdown of potency.

2) you have skincare that is pure due to the absence of preservatives or synthetics that normally extend the shelf life of products.

Often we have several cleansers, moisturisers, serums etc. in our arsenal and use them depending on our skin’s need on a particular morning or evening but is freshness worthy of consideration when it comes to choosing one’s skincare products? I also like the fact that on each packaging box ( white & yellow) you can see that the products are:

– manufactured in Denmark

– Are free from paragons, read more

Q & A with Danny Stokes and Scott Bentley, founders of Holistic Green Beauty Skincare

Before I review two out of four products later this week from the newly launched British natural skincare brand Holistic Green Beauty, founded by the green beauty blogger Danny Stokes and his business partner Scott Bentley, I thought I would give you a chance to get to know them, their brand and the passions that drive and inspire their creativity through the Q & A. I often find ‘niche’ brands more endearing, because there are real stories behind them that are more likely to resonate with you, as consumer, than another mass market beauty brand launch. Green beauty spotlight on:

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Galina:

Why did you decide to start your own brand of natural
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Activated charcoal from Sister & Co. to polish your teeth

If you read magazines and blogs regularly, the focus on activated charcoal couldn’t have bypassed you. It is ‘presented’ to us as the latest ‘must-have supplement’ but let me start this blog with a cautionary tale.

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In Russia activated charcoal has been used for years as a supplement to help flush toxins out of your body when you have food poisoning, drank too much or are feeling bloated due to indigestion. It is not something that you would take daily to ‘enhance’ your body’s detoxing and elimination process. I am not suggesting doing so would do you harm, but as with taking antibiotics when you don’t need them, taking a supplement because someone tells you it is good for you isn’t necessarily your call for action. When I saw a drink with activated charcoal that was launched a few months ago that you are supposed to drink post-workout, I questioned one of the brand’s founders face-to-face and was somewhat taken aback when I was told that he wanted to be the first to introduce it into the beverage, ahead of the competitors. Not a good argument for me to take something that really shouldn’t be taken daily and his words actually have put me off buying drinks from this particular brand, even though it is creative and innovative in many ways.

However, I was quite intrigued by the product that was launched a few months ago by Sister & Co. Skin Food that is called Raw Coconut & Activated Charcoal Tooth Whitening Polish. Founded by a former lawyer Sophie Thompson, whose brand journey started with her own skin problems and evolved into launching a line of products that use coconut oil as its primary base ingredient.

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“THIS JOURNEY LED ME TO BECOME PASSIONATE ABOUT THE

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