Curiosity Gap Recommends: ‘Yang Sheng: The Art Of Chinese Self-healing’ by Katie Brindle

With all of modern supposed advances, most of the people, when asked how they are, seem to reply that they are ‘tired, stressed, exhausted, anxious etc’. A sign that not all is right in[...] read more

Curiosity Gap Review: Dafna’s Skincare Purify Cleanser

Cleansing your face is akin to a spring renewal, the only difference being that spring arrives only once a year and you get to clean your skin twice a day, making it fertile ground for the actives in your moisturisers, serums, balms or serums. Dafna Shaham, founder of Dafna’s Personal Skincare, considers cleansing a very important element in daily skincare routine and her latest launch, Dafna’s ‘Purify Cleanser’ was developed in order to give you an enriched experience, irrespective of age or skin type.

‘Purify Cleanser’ is a second cleanser for the brand, joining ‘Recovery Cleanser’ ( which is oil-based and works best during the colder months of the year due to its luxuriously indulgent texture ). The new addition offers a particularly sensorial experience with a deeply pleasing & light texture, which when it comes in contact with the skin, gives you a feeling akin to rapture, engaging all of your senses. ‘Purify’ is a lighter cleanser than ‘Recovery’ and Dafna carefully considered the need for the skin to be cleansed twice a day, more thoroughly in the evening and with a lighter touch in the morning, while developing her latest product launch. The combination of the two cleansers will allow you to have a richer experience, giving the skin what it needs depending on the season, as well as time of cleansing the skin. Being able to reach people with different skin needs was another important consideration for her as the founder of the brand that places customers needs at the centre of the creative process.

Radiant Skin. Combat Skin Oxidation. Feel Fresh. 

In a way this cleanser is a unique product because it works equally well for mixed skin, as well as drier or more mature skin types. Part of this product’s DNA is that the combination of ingredients is very respectful to the skin’s balance, but their synergy also addresses the negative side of photo-ageing & daily oxidative processes, both becoming more noticeable, hence critical, as we age. With regular use of this cleanser you can expect to see reduction in the obvious signs of ageing. It’s not a magic tool in your skin’s arsenal, but it will help deliver a nicer, more even, brighter look of the skin, with the improvement of the glow that many try to artificially create with the help of make-up. It’s also a good reminder that skin has a naturally healthy glow which starts from within and no make-up product is able to truly replicate that. Giving your skin a proper chance to heal, renew and rejuvenate can actually lead you to use less make-up and not mask it by layering multiple make-up products on top. It’s one thing to try to mask the problem, quite another to use your make-up to enhance your looks and who you are.

Happy Skin Will Always Look Good

Indulgently formulated with eight antioxidants & natural oils known for their renewing properties, as well as nutrients like Pomegranate Extract & Geranium Essential Oil, Purify Cleanser also contains MelaCare combination Oil that gently cleanse the skin, remove impurities, unclog the pores, fight daily free-radical damage and the appearance of spots & pigmentation. Another bonus of this cleanser is that it can help reduce the appearance and signs of hormonal acne.

Ingredients Intel:

  • MelaCare Oil (Eramanthus Erythropappus Branch/Leaf Oil, Camellia Japonica Seed Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil): helps to brighten and balance the skin. Fights photo-ageing symptoms. Helps control melanin production by blocking its synthesis, so in time skin will become naturally brighter, more even and with the visibly decreased signs of pigmentation.
  • Pomegranate Extract: considered to be a ‘super fruit’ in Ayurveda. Known as a powerful anti-ageing active ingredient thanks to high Vitamin C content. It also gives the cleanser its rich, pinky-red creamy colour, the likes of which I haven’t seen before in natural cleansers. Interestingly enough, this was the first extract that Dafna started formulating with in her 20s. As Dafna was born & raised in Israel, where pomegranates are part of the wonderful symbolisms of the Jewish New Year (a year rich in pomegranates promises to be fruitfully prosperous), she knew that apart from being both beautiful & delicious, it is also one of the best ingredients for the skin due to its hight Vitamin C content. Not surprisingly, Dafna loves this oil as much now, as she did when she first started formulating!
  • Olive Oil: Nurtures the skin, helping keep it smooth, soft & healthy looking.
  • Essential Oils: Geranium is used to help maintain harmonious equivalence & reduce the appearance of spots associated with monthly hormonal fluctuations. Sweet Orange was chosen for its fresh & aromatic scent, as well as skin regenerating properties.

This cleanser showcases Dafna’s personal favourite combination[...] read more

The Eyes Have It: Berezka Lab Eye Serum review

The eyes are often called the windows of the soul, but they are also one of the first things to give away our age, emotional state, levels of stress, sleep patterns and lifestyle, so no wonder that many brands are launching a variety of products aimed at looking after this particular area of our face. Dark circles, dryness and diminishing collagen levels are something that women notice and fast in the eye area. When Russian luxuriously green beauty brand Berezka Lab launched their first eye product a few months ago, I was intrigued. Having used their Eye Serum for about a month, I am now a delighted convert.

With lack of sleep, late or broken nights, the first thing you notice are the dark shadows that lay claim to your under-eye area. While make-up and expertly applied concealer can definitely mask the problem, addressing the cause, making the lifestyle changes when possible (you can’t switch the volume off the crying baby or tell a sick child, who paddles into your bedroom saying the tummy ache is bad, that your beauty sleep comes first) is the first step. The second is finding the right eye care product for you. Dana, founder of Berezka Lab, is a mother of three, and with her brand growing and expanding its retail footprint, she knows all about tiredness. With practical experience under her slim belt and multiple customer requests, she set out to create an eye serum that will revitalise, brighten, restore firmness and resiliency, while intensely moisturising and protecting delicate eye area. A tall order, I say! For ease of application, she encased the serum in a glass bottle with a rollerball applicator – no mess, no oxidation and a cooling effect when you need it.

Formulated with the 100% ingredients of natural origin (also organic, wild-crafted, vegan and without the GMO), the serum is akin to a light oil that almost instantly sinks without a trace into the delicate, clean & dry skin all around the eye, never leaving behind an oily residue. All you need to do is roll it from the corner of your eye clock wise once and voila, let me magic begin. Tip: sometimes I also ‘re-trace’ the movement of the rollerball with my little finger in order to boost the circulation & make the product work even more effectively.

Dana has a very interesting selection of ingredients that she combined in this product – some you might be already familiar with, others surprising and rarer, like Birch Leaf Extract & Siberian Cedar Sap & Oil, ingredients that are native to Russia and hence unique in their qualities and effect on the skin when used in skincare formulation. In fact, I can’t remember seeing those two jointly in any European or American skin products (let me know, if you do).

Jojoba & Macadamia: decrease dark under-eye shadows, minimising the appearance of small wrinkles due to age, sun exposure & natural face movement.

Pine nut &

[...] read more

Beat The Blues Ilapothecary launch

Nowadays instead of greeting each other with a ‘hello’, people are more likely to lament how fast-paced life is and how exhausted they seem to be feeling. While this does hold true in many instances, re-framing our mindset and having the tools at our disposal to address subtle emotional changes is something that can help prevent a minor problem from turning into a big one. New trio of additions to the ‘Beat The Blues’ range from Ilapothecary were in fact developed in order to put those tools at your disposal. Their launch in early February, considered to be the lowest energetic month of the year, wasn’t surprising. What is surprising is how multi-dimensional their effect seems to be on the mind & body, once they come in direct contact with your skin or your senses.

Denise Leicester, founder of Ila Spa, Soul Medicine and Ilapothecary is a petit woman with an incredible inner reserve & knowledge, as well as multiple professional qualifications under her belt. A former nurse, yoga teacher, healer and aromatherapist, she is also a singer with a voice of an angel and a tireless creator of products that have a potential to become instant classics. In early February she & her team hosted intimate gatherings to introduce the products, so they could be better understood and described, as well as the sound bath to complete the experience. To spend time with Denise is the best remedy for the mind, body and soul if you ask me, with the effect of her words & her singing lasting for hours, if not days.

“The Beat The Blues range has been created to help capture your inner smile, hope and joy as you connect with yourself and your purpose”. Denise Leicester

Joining the ‘Beat the Blues’ signature collection is the ‘Beat the Blues Shower and Bath Oil’ – an alchemical, mood-balancing blend of essential oils to revitalise and clear the mind, as well as the ‘Beat the Blues Pulse Point’ – a therapeutic, mood-balancing blend of essential oils that boost self-esteem, ease frustration, revitalise and stimulate happiness. There is also ‘Beat the Blues Room Spray’ that helps to clear the atmosphere and make your work place or home more peaceful energetically.

Ilapothecary[...] read more

Smell of nature: Corpus deodorants

At the time when I started to look into using more natural deodorant formulas, few were available & they didn’t look (or smell appealing). I wanted a reliable solution to my roll-on, but I certainly wasn’t going to go primal and rub salt crystals into my armpits. Luckily more and more women were joining the conversation and brands responded, from green beauty pioneers like Weleda to more recent entrants like Natural Deo Co, Soapwalla, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare and now a US vegan brand Corpus, that landed on the beauty hall shelf at Liberty London in January.

Softly launched in July of 2018 in LA and quickly selling out, Corpus re-launched in October of 2018 in the US and in January in London, as well as in Europe. Distinctly packaged in unisex mint green paper boxes & sustainably manufactured (utilising renewable solar & hydroelectric energy, as well as using recycled materials for the box and deodorant case) from naturally-derived vegan ingredients, it attracts your gaze. When I unscrewed the lid, deodorant appearance reminded me of my father’s favourite Issey Miyake deodorant roll-on. But there is more my dear reader!

There are currently five Corpus deodorant sticks. Choose from Santalum, Third Rose, Cedar Flora, No. Green & the Botanist ( I was torn between the last two and decided to go with No. Green & its sophisticated bergamot, pink lemon, orange blossom & cardamom fragrance notes). The brand consciously choses to use naturally derived vegan ingredients, layering essential oils & isolates with fresh & intriguing fragrance palate. Each fragrance blend (which are created by blending of derived enzymes and plant extracts) is intriguing on the nose and apart from a more feminine ‘Third Rose’, the four deodorants scents would be equally appealing to men and women. Upon application the scent settles on the skin, but best of all, the efficacy of the formula is long-lasting, whether you lead a sedate lifestyle or a fast-paced one.

It’s also worth noting that Corpus doesn’t use baking soda in their formula. Something that many customers will appreciate, as unfortunately many people start reacting to baking soda deodorants sooner or later. Having never been ‘sensitive’ to that ingredient myself, last summer all of a sudden I developed red, itchy patches in one of my armpits and after they refused to go away, I went for a check-up with GP, who said it was a skin reaction and nothing more sinister than that. This of course prompted me to explore the alternatives, as all of a sudden natural deodorants that I adored and that I came to rely on had to be relegated to the back shelf. I am happy to report that my ‘sensitivity’ to baking soda has since subsided (my regular swimming in sea in the summer probably aggravated the problem), but I am glad to have experiences what I have, as when it comes to this issue I can now offer practical solutions depending on the preference.

As packaging plays an important part in our perception of the brand, I reached out to Corpus to learn more about this aspect of their design process. Currently they use a plastic applicator, which is made from a combination of new & recycled plastic (both post-industrial and post consumer) and it is 100% recyclable. The outer packaging, the box into which each deodorant is packed for transportation & displaying purposes, is made using sustainable forestry and recycled pulp. Brand’s philosophy is to evolve towards green solutions whenever possible, and as new sustainable alternatives become available, Corpus plans to adopt them.

Top Tip:  apply this deodorant to clean, dry skin because applying it to moist skin will dilute the product & decrease its effectiveness.

Sweating is as necessary for our body’s function, as breathing, but most of us don’t want to smell of our own sweat. The problem is that many mainstream deodorants contain parabens, PEGs, hormone disruptors like fragrances, petrochemicals and aluminium or its compounds. The latter has been linked with breast cancer (I am not a scientist to agree or refute that fact, but it is certainly something worth considering, when choosing a deodorant). Ultimately you need to read the list of ingredients and consider potential pitfalls in terms of your long-term health.

While doing research on Corpus Naturals, I was assisted by their helpfully responsive team and below is a small Q & A to give you additional insights into the inner world of the brand.

   What[...] read more

Thoughtful Beauty: Ilapothecary products review

At the time when beauty brands continuously churn new products to keep up with Millennials and Generation Z fleeting interests, some brands focus on creating products based on what they can do for our[...] read more

In Gucci We Trust: make-up maestra launches Westman Atelier

If you haven’t heard of Gucci Westman and her lightness of touch when it comes to  make-up application technique, which helps create countless stunning editorials, then you most definitely will be intrigued by her debut make-up range Westman Atelier. And if you are familiar with her work with the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon & Julianne Moore and cosmetic giants like Revlon & Lancome, where she was global artistic director, then you will be as eager to get your hands your her products, as I was.

‘I’ve taken a ‘skincare’ approach to make-up, combining beautiful, melting textures with the best plant-based active ingredients’ Gucci Westman

Launched towards the end of 2018, a line of blushers (in a creamy stick & powdered compact formats), brushes, bronzers, tinted highlighter and foundations, Gucci wanted to incorporate skincare benefits into the make-up products bearing her name and create something unique and not readily available in the already over-saturated beauty marketplace. Together with her husband, David Neville, who was the co-founder of fashion brand Rag & Bone, Gucci decided to focus on ‘conscious luxury’ and the price point of her products certainly fits into that category (my recent order from Niche Beauty, a German luxury beauty retailer which is currently Westman Atelier only European retailer), came just over 200 euros for four products at the till.

Westman[...] read more

January Wellness: Aime supplements for beautiful skin

As the winter festivities came to a logical close and the new year started pacing us, an onslaught of detox ideas began landing in our inboxes and field of vision. At the time when you and your body need to be nurtured, you are urged to join the gym & start eating clean. Even though the bombardment seems more subdued this year, with mental health books dominating the shelves at the booksellers, I thought I would start the year with a post about a new range of French skin supplements that was launched towards the end of last year, called Aime. Mathilde Lacombe and Francois Morrier, co-founders of Aime supplements, want you to examine your skin, get to know it and address its needs from inside out. You would be happy to hear that the process has nothing to do with restriction, but rather helping you glow from inside out.

Mathilde, tall & willowy, with big, beautiful eyes, is unmistakably French in her elegance (she wore simple black jeans and a chequered blazer over a cashmere sweater on the morning we met). She also has beautifully clear, even & glowing skin (I don’t think she will mind me saying that she is in her early 30s & has suffered from acne & rosacea in the past), making her a true testament to the efficacy of her skin supplements that she came to London to introduce to the British press. When you talk to someone who works in beauty or wellness industries in close proximity, you can’t help but examine their skin, wondering if you want to learn from them. Looking at Mathilde’s complexion in the morning light, streaming through the windows of Feya cafe, where press breakfast was being hosted, I thought to myself  that whatever she does to her skin, deserves to be listened to & taken on board. While our genes & lifestyle play an important part in how our skin looks, how we look after its needs daily is no less significant!

Mathilde has background in commerce (she was the founder of Birchbox and worked at French Elle in the past, as well as written a book ‘Une Question d’Equilibre’ in 2017). She met her business partner Francois over ten years ago, while working on Birchbox and he is the one who is gloriously responsible for the branding of Aime supplements (check out his Instagram account, as his interior design talent is no less special!). While appealing to the millennial & their penchant for all shades of pink, Aime branding & packaging appeals to older women as well, with its laconic attention to detail that makes you curious to investigate, rather then screams ‘look at me’.

It took about two years to develop Aime and started with Mathilde’s own skin problems, particularly during her pregnancies (it’s hard to believe that she already has three small children, yet is hands on with her multiple businesses & travels daily from her home base in Reims to Paris for work). Skin problems made Mathilde quite self-conscious, so after using multiple skincare products with not much of an improvement, she ended up going to see a naturopath, who told her that before she will see any significant improvement in the appearance of her skin, gut issues would need to be addressed and laid to rest. A light bulb moment that gave birth to the idea of Aime!

Aime attracted my attention for several reasons and the more I listened to Mathilde and prodded her with questions during the press breakfast (she is a very eloquent & engaging speaker), the more she won me over with her factual & logical arguments & story. Aime trio of supplements (PURE GLOW, URBAN GLOW & FRENCH GLOW) address the inflammation within the body, something that’s drawing scientists, researchers and dermatologists attention more & more, in order to address the increasing number of skin problems women of various ages experience throughout their life span.

‘Serums, creams, layering, masks: beauty routines are getting more & more complex & it’s taking its toll. Women are looking for their own[...] read more

Let It Glow: in time for festive season Ellis Faas launches Glow Down & improves packaging

It’s heart-warming to see a brand respond to customer feedback, particularly when it leads to creation of even better product. Ellis Faas, a make-up artist and founder of synonymous make-up brand, strives to move with the times and offer women (and men) the products that are modern, innovative and dare I say it, cool?

With party season in full swing, we want our make-up to stay put, not slide like our legs over the dance floor. First into the spotlight, a compact powder with a difference. Ellis devised Glow Down, a light powder that acts as an invisible mattifier, helping perfect the skin tone, whether you have a light, medium or dark complexion. When applied on top of your usual make-up, it will help set it with a porcelain-like matt finish, adding warmth to the appearance of the skin. Unlike many traditional products, the innovative formula will also enhance the complexion without adding coverage or actual colour – making it a good addition to the make-up kit. It can also be used as a primer underneath your eyeshadow or lipstick and help absorb unwanted oils that can lead to the ‘shiny’ face look we all want to avoid, in real life and in our photos.

Not only that, Glow Down, a vegan and cruelty-free product, was formulated with vitamin E, amino acids, omega 3 oils, ginger root, galangal and rapeseed oil, which together help rejuvenate the skin and protect it with a unique Anti-pollution complex.

It comes in a practical packaging, with a powder sponge and all you have to do is insert it into Ellis Faas case, which has a mirror in its lid and you are good to go. I prefer applying it with a powder brush, but if make-up needs to be re-applied or corrected between meetings on the go, the sponge does the job perfectly – just don’t forget to give it a wash with a gentle soap once a week and let it dry before putting it back into the compact.

Light, practical and hard-working product that will make your finished make-up look effortless !

Creamy Eyes, 21 shades. Vegan. Made in Italy. Fragrance-free. £24

At the same time that Ellis launched Glow Down, she has updated or rather improved the packaging of her Creamy Eyes & Lights eyeshadows, so what used to be a clicker dispenser, that at times got clogged & simply refused to dispense the product in the ‘orderly’ manner, is now a wand. Easy does it: turn the cap, pull out the wand, apply!

Creamy Eyes are ideal for a quick smoky eye, allowing you to correct mistakes or ‘lighten’ the shade before it dries up. And thanks to the precise tip of the new applicator, you can now use Creamy Eyes as a thick eye pencil. Just untwist the pointy top and extend out the spongy wand that flows easily over your lid and ensures precise application. I got to eye test the ‘Creamy Eyes’ in shade E127, which is a matt brown that would work wonderfully on any eye shade and can easily take your from day to night time. It’s a creamy product, so you can spread it with the finger all over your lid, lightening the colour up a little, if you so wish.

My particular appreciation though goes to the Ellis Lights highlighter. I tested the E303 shade and was quite impressed after just one use. A bronzy gold that might be possibly meant for the evening make-up look, yet I love wearing it during the day because it makes me feel very glam. It sets within minutes and looks fresh and bright, reminding me of the vivid make-up shades I see in Pat McGrath’s feed. In fact it ‘sets’ so well, you will need a creamy cleanser to take it off, but it guarantees staying power, without making your eyes feel dry. You can use Lights to create an illusion of metallic eyes, if applied topically. Or apply it all over your eyelid – subdued or with artistic flair, if you dare. Either way you will look like lightening – striking and memorable!

Ellis Faas Lights: 8 shades. Made in France. Cruelty-free. £26

For more information about Ellis Faas &[...] read more