Simplicity at its best: new launches from Mallow and White

Lately I have been having many conversations about skincare routines, in part, a consequence of a collaboration that I have been doing with Bio-Extracts. Or maybe it is the fact that festivities aren’t read more

Bio-Extracts and Curious Russian in London collaboration

In addition to writing my blog, I consult brands in the beauty and wellness sector, but it is the first time that I collaborate with a relatively new brand on a project that is consciously meant to benefit you, beauty consumer. I was introduced to Bio- Extracts, a British-based, vegan beauty brand, founded by Marina Shcherbinina (she is also the founder of premier beauty brand NuBo) in the summer and recently did a detailed review of the products, but now Marina and I are going a step further.

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I often lament beauty brands that fail to engage with consumer, by ignoring the feedback or failing to provide helpful customer service. When it comes to skincare the choices we face might be plenty, if not overwhelming, but making the right choice for yourself isn’t easy, when you don’t want to be swayed by the marketing spiel and are looking for the products that will work for your skin and address your needs. Marina and I created a

sample set, which comprises three
read more

Review: the wonder of Bodhi & Birch body oils

It is always intriguing to be on testing panel of brands whose products I love using, as it offers glimpses into the creative process that most consumers don’t get before the product appears on shop’s shelves, TV or press ads. Elijah Choo, founder of Bodhi & Birch, is a man who never ceases to surprise me with the depth of his knowledge, but the trio of body oils that he recently launched turned out to be a much bigger revelation than I anticipated.

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Elijah created an aromatic trio of body oils to celebrate the scent, colour and culture of Europe and offer women (and men) a range of handcrafted products made of 100% natural botanicals and in small batches, thus offering the freshest quality. When I was on a panel of testers, Elijah sent all of us three samples and after using them, we filled in and sent him back a detailed questionnaire. I also talked to Elijah in detail about my experience with the oils, as one of them smelled particularly strong and another I wasn’t too sure of, as generally I am not a huge fan of rose-scented products, possibly finding them a little too ‘girly’. Having said that, this particular rose-scented body oil took me on a journey of such immense discovery, I was completely taken aback – but more on it later.

After all of the feedback was in, Elijah continued to tweak and refine the final formulas – always a perfectionist when it comes to his products and making sure they live up to customer’s expectations ! – while also enhancing their unique beauty and wellbeing. Only when he was satisfied, did the products launch and I hope you will find them as transformative as I did. One of my own biggest surprises when it came to those body oils, was a truly successful fusion of aromatherapy and perfumery, so much so, that now I wear two of those oils as a natural perfume, dabbing it on my pulse points, behind the ears and on my neck, after I apply it all over the body.

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Nordic White Body Oil: the name of this body oil made sure it had me at ‘hello’, and not because ‘hygge’ is the current buzzword. About three years ago, Elijah was in Stockholm, visiting Bodhi & Birch retailers. On his way to one of the meetings, he walked from his hotel, located in central Stockholm, all the way to a more hippie area, where the meeting was supposed to take place. Stockholm is one of Elijah’s favourite cities, as it allows him to walk from one island to another, while observing the beauty of nature, forests and decor of the houses, which he absorbs, nurturing his creative life force. In a way Nordic White is Elijah’s love letter to the city, with an assembly of notes that popped into Elijah’s head as he walked around the city, drinking it in. Original birch notes were taken out, but alpine notes – more wood than leaves, as well as berries, moss, hints of sea and fennel  were blended together creating, a ‘fresh, open, balanced white scent’. Elijah had the clearest picture of what this oil should smell and look like out of the three body oils he created , but he went through two versions, before the third satisfied him.

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Elijah sees this oil as ‘a curative tonic of Spruce, Cypress and Pine enlivened with the freshness of Sweet fennel with soothing undertones of Frankincense. The scent is clean and reassuring, balanced with a soft lingering sweetness’. To that I can add that to me it feels like a hug from an old, comforting friend who knows what to say on every occasion, be it sad or happy. Before I apply it, I warm it in my hands for a few seconds, savouring the smell and then apply it to my body, rolling my fingers over muscles and circling it in when a certain area feels a little tight or painful. I draw comfort from this scent and as my skin warms up from the massage and the scent settles and changes, I end up drawing my wrist to my nose, inhaling it, as the day progresses, in order to ground & center myself.

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‘Nordic White Body Oil is rather special to me. It is my interpretation of a moment when everything about the world is right. There is an open quality read more

Guest blog: Elena Rayner-Melnikova & the story behind Golden Oils

One of the reasons why I started my blog several years ago was that I wanted to give spotlight to people and brands that might not be familiar to you, but you might want to know about. Today I want to introduce Elena Rayner-Melnikova, founder of Golden Oils, as well as share my opinion on two of Elena’s products with you.

Elena Rayner – Melnikova

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‘Moving house is considered stressful per se. What could I have expected from the experience of building a nest in what were, at the time, both a new country and culture for me, as a carefree youth?

Looking back, I still remember a type of heavy sensation in my head, something which would descend by the end of each day. Everything was new: the language, people, social rituals, customs, food, shops, roads and ways of life. Now that I have taken a course in neuroscience, I appreciate the deluge of information my brain was integrating on a daily basis. I was driven to make the best of not merely a living in a new country, but making Hampshire my true home.

A happy life is possible when you express yourself both professionally and personally. My Siberian roots and philosophy on life have led me on the journey which I’m on today. So, starting Golden Oils – to provide the best quality Siberian pine nut oil in the UK – was an obvious choice for me.

Golden Oils’ Siberian Cold Pressed Pine Nut Oil is 100% pure – free from preservatives, other added vegetable oils, artificial colouring and flavours. It is mechanically cold pressed from the kernels of Siberian pine trees, which grow naturally in remote and unpolluted regions of Siberia. Our cold pressing process preserves the nutritional value, mild woody taste and golden colour of the oil.

Throughout my childhood natural products were a way of life. I distinctly remember how my grandma would use ribwort leaves on my grazed knees, but now I also understand why their anti-inflammatory and astringent properties made them such an effective topical treatment. She also swore by bearberry infusions to treat our family’s coughs. Rumour has it that bearberry gets its name because the bright red berries are a favourite with bears! Either way, I appreciated the healing properties of plants from a very young age.

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“Nature itself is the best physician.” – Hippocrates

Back home in Siberia, pure pine nut oil is deemed to be ‘worthy of a Tsar’ and was another natural remedy my grandmother swore by when I developed an excruciatingly sore tummy. The cold pressed oil would calm the inflammation and bring natural relief, in the same manner as it would have for generations before me. It’s not coincidence when natural remedies work. They have been tried, tested and trusted for centuries.

Generations of people in Siberia and a growing number of customers, both in the UK and worldwide, use pine nut because of its soothing and natural healing properties:

– to relieve digestive disorders, including acid reflux, irritable bowel read more

Bio-Extracts – Beauty Lego for the face

It’s not often when a founder of a successful beauty brand decides to branch out and launch another one, alongside the original one. That in itself intrigued me, when I heard that Marina Shcherbinina, founder of NuBo beauty, is launching a new beauty concept. When we met for breakfast before the start of the summer holidays, Marina showed me the pre-launch samples of her new brand, which were due to be launched  on QVC in late July. Marina is not a woman to rest on her laurels, so after building from scratch a successful brand NuBo in London a few years ago, which now sells also in Europe, Hong Kong and Russia, she felt that she was ready to introduce Bio-Extracts to the world. Sitting at the breakfast table and listening to marina talk about her new brand, I ‘played’ with serum syringes & thought to myself that it all looked like Lego for our face – pieces of the puzzle coming together to build protective armour for your skin.

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Russian women pride themselves on their appearance and Marina, who has scientific background, wanted to utilise the power of bio-technology and its use of highly purified ingredients. By extracting plant actives, Marina and her team choose to  focus on creating bespoke solutions to multiple skin problems. Bio-extracts deliver effective and bespoke formulations that will also satisfy exacting vegan standards. By offering airless jars, that at a touch of a finger dispenses an exact amount of cream, you can also boost its efficacy with up to four serums that come in separate booster syringes. So you have functional packaging and effective skincare, which also harnesses the power of mood-boosting fragrances. You can also expect non-greasy, rapidly absorbed formulas, some of which will also have a gently cooling effect on your skin.

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After our meeting I went home with the prototypes and in the course of the summer I was giving Marina my initial feedback. What also intrigued me, is Marina’s use of multi-lamellar system in her new skincare formulas. The upper layers of the skin, body’s lipids, oils and fats, are organised into highly-structured, lamellar arrangement, which form the skin’s barrier function, keeping important fluids in and external aggressors out. Bio-Extracts multi-lamellar system carries a distinct structural similarity to those natural skin layers, mimicking skin’s own lamellar structure. It is designed to act like a ‘patch’ on the skin, restoring its barrier function and so preventing trans-epidermal water-loss. It also makes a great base for other active ingredients in the formula, as it helps to ensure a uniform distribution of the actives  for optimal skincare performance. The system, originally developed for  treating extra-sensitive skin types, offers an innovative type of moisturiser, a step ahead from ‘water in oil’ or ‘oil in water’ emulsifiers.

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One of the keys to skincare performance is an effective delivery system. In case of Bio-Extracts you have phospholipids-based delivery system, that ensures that Bio-Extracts actives penetrate deeper into the skin layers, thus helping to restructure and repair cellular membranes & preserve skin integrity and health.

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How does the Bio-Extracts system work?  You do a self-skin assessment via Bio-extracts website and then choose moisturiser and boosters. Then, every morning and night, you mix up to four boosters, depending on your skin’s needs in the moment in time, and add them to the pre-measured dose of moisturiser, apply it to your face, neck and decollete and you are ready for the day ahead or to lay or head on the pillow, while your skin regenerates & repairs.

When it comes to moisturisers, you simply press down either side of the plate lid with your thumb to  dispense a pre-measured amount of the cream on the plate lid. Then, examine your skin in the mirror and decide if you want to use it on its own, or mix it with a booster shot. If you choose to add a booster, simply mix it into your moisturiser with a clean finger and apply lovingly to your face.

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The Moisturiser:

There are three textures to choose from:

Light Moisturiser: suitable for oily, problematic and combination skin. I found it worked perfectly for my skin in the summer and have continued to use it thus far into the autumn. It has ultra-light formula that mattifies the skin which is quickly absorbed into the skin. Expect well-hydrated skin with some cooling sensation upon initial application.

– Normal Moisturiser: this one is suitable for day and night use. It contains argan oil & is suitable for normal and combination types of skin.

Rich Moisturiser:  suitable for dry and mature skin types, it works particularly well on most skin types in the colder months. It contains Cupuacu Butter, produced from seeds sourced from this tree, which grows in the Amazon (don’t confuse it will online retailer ), which helps your skin feel well hydrated for longer without skin feeling overloaded.

At the base of those three moisturisers lie bio-mimetic emulsifiers, of 100% vegetable origin, which match your skin’s lamellar structure. Their role is to act as ‘second skin’ and help restore the barrier of damaged skin. The formula is quite mild, so even if your skin is sensitive, with regular use it will help to build up skin’s tolerance, while sugar esters will help moisturise your skin.

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Over the latter part of the summer I have been using the Light Face Cream, which absorbs oil and mattifies the skin. But for me it was the scent that caressed my senses and that lingers on my skin. Now, with the weather becoming colder and heating turned on, I switched to the Normal face Cream, which is perfect for the day and its fresh, floral scent is again a winner for me. If your skin needs some extra moisture, then go for the Rich one ( it won’t feel heavy on the skin, but will make the skin feel soothed and cocooned. Perfect for travel or when you go skiing or mountain hiking ).

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The Boosters

Whatever your skin needs, Marina made sure that a certain booster is on offer for you to choose from – you have quite a choice !

Anti-Wrinkle: read more