The benefits of plants: Saskia Flower Essences

We live in a truly abundant world, where nature is generous with its gifts and teachings, if only we took the time to notice, learn and appreciate them. Eating seasonal foods instead of the same ones[...] read more

Lippy Bunny: ‘Enchanting Blooms’ by Rouge Bunny Rouge

I wouldn’t exactly call myself a lipstick addict, but I do like using them to help create a mood or enhance a fashion look of the day. When a brand launches lip balms that look and feel like lipsticks and have poetic inspirations and secret Victorian times messages behind them, I get intrigued. Welcome to the spotlight – Rouge Bunny Rouge Tinted Luxe Balms.

When a beautiful parcel that looked like a hat box arrived a couple of weeks ago, I was as enchanted, as my little girl – we almost had an argument about who was going to open it first. When I opened the box, finding inside a chic fascinator and six RBR Enchanting Blooms underneath, I instantly switched from sporty to flirty mood. I did my hair, attached the fascinator and started playing with the colours. Some conservatively subtle, others striking or daringly bohemian – I think there is something for every woman to be transfixed.

Each of the six shades is lightweight, non-sticky and fairly long-lasting, but with a difference – as time goes by after initial application, it slowly fades away, if not reapplied, giving way to a subtle, flattering tint that enhances your lips without being obvious. Not exactly barefaced beauty, but neither is it overtly obvious (depending on the shade you go for).

Each balm promises to hydrate, plump and repair delicate skin on the lips and has an understated sweet, flowery scent. The shape of the balm is ‘cut’ in such a way, that it glides easily along the lip contour, without you needing to be too precise or eagle-eyes. Something that is very welcome when the head and eyesight might be blurry in the morning and needing a shot of expresso to properly kick you up a gear.

Six colours you can choose from are as follows:

099 Captivating Camellias, its Secret Victorian Meaning distills to: ‘I Am Perfect And So Are You’

098 Mysterious[...] read more

Galina Reviews: Amly serum collection that combats the negative impact of modern living

As someone who has been writing about beauty products for many years I am not easily surprised when it comes to new concepts or launches. While my attention remains razor sharp, few products make it[...] read more

Taking your skincare routine to a next level with Nourish London Probiotic Multi-Mineral repair Mask

Having recently read Clemence von Muffling ‘Ageless Beauty’ book, I came across a great saying that really distills the essence of why every woman[...] read more

Galina Reviews: Superfood Series from Bodhi and Birch

Having been a fan of aromatherapy for years, Bodhi and Birch bath and shower therapies fall into a deeply cherished category of products for me. Elijah Choo, brand’s[...] read more

Summer scrubbing with Skin and Tonic

Summer wakes up our mind and senses and calls for some gentle action when it comes to the care we give to our body – something that we often leave on the back burner, unlike our skincare. Conveniently, British beauty brand Skin and Tonic just launched it’s first bodycare product – a Sea Salt Body Scrub – and I have been putting it to ‘vigorous’ use.

The scrub arrived in a chic silver sealable pouch, which makes it easy to use in the shower or bath and is practical to take with you on your travels or a holiday. Blending together sustainably harvested, mineral-rich Atlantic sea salt with certified organic bergamot, spearmint and rose oil, it makes a lovely first impression, but will it stand the rigorous efficiency test?

Some information about the ingredients, to start with:

Irish Sea Salt

The team has worked hard to source sustainably harvested, non-oxidised sea salt. Due to its sealed extraction from deep currents in the Atlantic Ocean, it contains lots of rich minerals and micronutrients that help to eliminate toxins and hydrate the skin.

Bergamot Oil

This beautiful, certified organic bergamot oil is cold-pressed from the rind of the fruit. Grown mainly in Southern Italy, this sweet, fresh citrus oil is widely used in perfumery. Fun fact: It takes 1,500kg of bergamot to produce 1 kilo of oil!

Rose Oil

Luxurious Rose Centifolia flower oil helps to even skin tone and balance skin moisture levels, whilst soothing away anxiety. Did you know rose is a natural anti-depressant? Nurture and nourishment for both body and soul

Spearmint Oil

Milder than peppermint, this antibacterial oil enlivens and invigorates the skin, helping to stimulate circulation. Spearmint’s fresh aroma will also help to clear headaches and de-stress the mind.

List of ingredients:

Sodium chloride (sea salt), Vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil*, Citrus aurantium bergamia (bergamot) fruit oil*, Mentha spicata (spearmint) leaf oil*, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (almond) oil*, Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower oil*, Rose centifolia (rose) flower extract

*= Certified Organic



How to use:

  1. Massage onto clean

[...] read more

The power of adaptogens in skincare & supplements: Lumene & Wunderworkshop

I have been a fan of Zoe, founder of Wunderworkshop, for a few years now and this petite and incredibly pretty young woman made a lasting impression on me from the moment we met. Driven and pro-active, with an infectious smile always on her face, she is also calm, honest, generous and reflective on the ebbs and flows of life. Zoe was one of the first supplement brand founders to put turmeric into the public’s field of attention and now she is doing the same with adaptogens.

Wunderworkshop turmeric product are very much loved and used pretty much daily in my household, so when Zoe launched Golden Shrooms, brand’s third (you can read my review of the first two, Golden Glow and Golden Balance here) adaptogenic product, an adaptogenic blend of Cordyceps, Reishi and Turmeric, I got my hands on the jar as soon as you can say ‘tired’.

According to Zoe ”it was mainly inspired by my fascination for Cordyceps, as I especially relied on it for occasions, where I needed that tiny bit extra energy or endurance. Throughout my twenties, when I used to go to festivals, I would take Cordyceps instead of drugs or alcohol to keep me going and not feel exhausted’.

Interesting fact: Cordyceps really got into the limelight in the early 1990s, when some athletes of the Chinese Olympic team took Cordyceps to enhance their athletic performance.

Since cordyceps are also an adaptogen, Zoe realised that they can be useful for internal wellbeing on a daily basis and therefore it might be worthy to try to combine it with some other powerful and potent ingredients such as Turmeric, Ginger, Cacao and Reishi – another mushroom adaptogen with potent qualities, foremost its immune-boosting effects. In combination with all the ingredients, it creates an anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and specifically endurance enhancing blend.

A note of caution though: it is very important to know that not all mushrooms products are the same and eating or injecting certain types of them can be dangerous, and even lethal in some cases (a cautionary tale on this subject was taught by Nicholas Evans, who wrote ‘The Horse Whisperer’. He went mushroom gathering with his family and later they cooked and ate the mushrooms that they gathered. Unknown to them, some of the mushrooms were inedible and he and some of the family members ended up in intensive care. An event that nearly tore his family apart and had long-term consequences. So make sure you check provenance of mushroom products you buy). One should always look for the extracted powder version, and not just a full-spectrum powder, as that is just ground mushroom. Traditionally they are brewed in hot water and let to sit for many hours in order to extract the functional ingredients. Zoe kindly provided me with some extra information on the subject as well, in order to help you understand this topic better:

“Mushrooms, are chitin based. Chitin is probably the hardest natural material found on earth – it is also the main building block of lobsters’ claws and insect’s exo-skeleton. Chitin does not degrade in alcohol or water (which is the reason why mushroom tinctures are mostly useless, therapeutically speaking). Most people cannot digest unprocessed mushrooms or mushroom products – they lack the enzyme chitinase in their stomach, needed to break down chitin. The bioactive ingredients are embedded in the chitin, like LEGO bricks in a LEGO wall, and in order to benefit from them the chitin should be removed. Heat is very effective to ‘melt’ the chitin and set the embedded “bioactives free, thus making them bioavailable.A hot water extraction is probably the most common and cheapest process to create a therapeutically useful mushroom product. Mushroom teas or mushroom soups are in the core crude hot water extracts. Still, extraction costs money, so many supplement producers skip this step, knowing that 99% of their potential customers will be unaware of the limited bioavailability of their products.

How to use this adaptogen blend: add 1/2 tsp to your smoothie, tonic, juice or warm milk/mylk. Zoe takes it in the mornings, particularly on days when she knows she will need a lot of focus or when a busy day lies ahead and she needs to increase her indurance.

Armed with Zoe’s advice, I tried it in juice (I find that it works well in predominantly green juices with frozen banana, as it does have an earthy, woody taste, so a little bit of a sweet undertone helps to create a balanced flavour), as well as my morning coffee. I also tried it with my morning or afternoon smoothies, mixed with protein powder & can recommend it in a smoothie with papaya, cucumber, green apple & half a tsp of cinnamon.

I can’t say that I feel extra energetic when I take it in the morning, but it certainly helps power me through (without the jitters) in the afternoon, when I feel that my energy is dipping, yet I still have plenty of things to do. Like with most of Wunderworkshop products, this one won me over fairly quickly, but I don’t use it daily – when my schedule is strenuous or I have a tiring concession of days, I definitely now make sure to take it, otherwise it stays on my supplement shelf and waits with patience for the time when my body asks for it. Listening to your body and learning to interpret its signals is something that I highly recommend, if you want to feel well in herself.

Ingredients: Turmeric (23%)*, Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) extract (20%)*, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidus) extract (20%)*, Ginger*, Cacao*, Black Pepper*. *organic ingredients

Before I move on to another product, let me share something else about Wunderworkshop: one of the reasons why I regularly take their supplements is because I place my trust in the brand founder’s knowledge and integrity when it comes to sourcing the ingredients and creating the formulas that can bring long-term benefits to consumers. Zoe is always very measured and honest when it comes to the information she provides, concerning the effect her supplements can have on you, never promising miracles or stretching the truth. To me truth is what matters when I choose supplements that I take, not the clever marketing tricks.

Wunderworkshop ‘Golden Shrooms’, cordyceps, reishi & turmeric mushroom Adaptogen blend, 40g, £17.50

[...] read more

Eco chic beauty: Botanika Box by Alice and White

The popularity of beauty boxes, in all shapes & sizes, doesn’t seem to be subsiding, but few deliver the ‘wow’ factor that lingers in the atmosphere, as you continue trialling or using the products. One such service is provided by a Swedish-based retailer, Alice and White, which opened its doors for business in 2011. Company’s founder Lona Darouze-Kemi champions natural & organic niche skincare brands. Lona was the first retailer to offer British beauty brands Bodhi & Birch, as well as Aurelia to the Nordic customers & now sells many niche brands from around the world, some now famous, other remaining under the radar, but worthy of attention & carefully & thoughtfully curated by Lona, providing her customers with products that deliver results, as well as pleasure.

Earlier this year Lona offered to send me one of her popular Botanika eco chic boxes (the information about how you can get one for yourself will be at the end of the post) & after talking to her & finding many personal & professional commonalities, I was excited to try a trio of Nordic brands, one familiar (Henne Organics), the other two (True Organic of Sweden (all you need is me) & Body Bazaar) completely new to me. Lona certainly impressed me with her knowledge, as well as the carefully curated selection of brands & products that she offers to her clients, online & in-store, in Stockholm & shipping to European countries, including UK. Well, for now at least.

It certainly is a challenging time for a small independent retailer, like Alice & White, when competition comes from all sides, including Amazon & big retail chains, like Finnish Ruohonjuuri, expanding their outreach to a relatively small market in Sweden. However, Alice & White is more niche & selective with the brands they take on, while other retailers go for mass market eco brands.

Life of an entrepreneur can often be overwhelming, particularly when work hours become unlimited & work takes over weekends as well, leading to late nights & mailbox overloads. Customers don’t see that, instead they expect 24/7 communication, pronto. What Lona prides herself on, is listening to customer feedback & stocking the brands that customers want, as well as those that she discovers & trusts to deliver up to high expectations.

I haven’t head the pleasure yet of visiting Alice & White showroom, conveniently located in central Stockholm, but browsing the website gave me a pretty accurate idea of the type of retailer that the company is. In an ideal world Lona would love to sell brands sourced locally, but for now it remains a dream. Instead, she sets her search outreach far & wide, looking for intriguing indie brands, recently adding Tata Harper & Josh Rosebrook to her quality green beauty brand list. It is a conscious choice to represent possibly more expensive, often hand-made & artisanal ranges though, building up awareness & appreciation of that beauty segment of the market among more people.

Now, to the brands & products that were sent to me…

Henne Organics Nordic Berries Lip Exfoliator, 10ml

Founded in 2015 by Laura Xiao, the brand was created out of necessity really. When Laura moved from snowy Stockholm to arid Las Vegas, she ended up combining the practical knowledge & experience of living in the harsh desert & cold climate conditions. Cold & heat both produce an accumulated negative impact on your skin, particularly your lips. Being an active proponent of organic lifestyle, Laura wanted to create a balm that will sooth, soften & nurture her chronically dry lips, as at the time she couldn’t find a natural product to satisfy this need.

Laura launched her brand with just one product, the now ‘cult’ Luxury Lip Balm, which contained just seven ingredients, including avocado oil, beeswax & shea butter. Now, in addition to lip balms (choose from a stick or the one encased in a pot), you can also buy lip tints (four shades) & exfoliators (choose from lavender mint, rose diamonds or nordic berries flavours).

”Think about it: When you put something on your lips, you’re going to ingest some of it. If you use conventional lip products, you’re ingesting an insane number of chemicals.” Laura Xiao

Organic sugar cane crystals are the prime ingredient in Henné Lip Exfoliators, Laura’s second beauty creation under the umbrella of her brand.  Combined with coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, Vitamin E, Jojoba seed oil, Raspberry fruit seed & Vanilla flavour, sugar crystals gently scrub away flaky skin & residual lipstick, softening the lips in the process. I have been testing Nordic Berries, which Laura said were inspired by Swedish nature. This exfoliator is as effective in colder months, as it is nurturing in warmer ones – I use it in the morning or evening, depending on my needs & the process of gentle exfoliation allows for a lovely pause, as well as naturally brings some natural colour back to the lips.

Laura’s embrace of Swedish nature — as well as the country’s eco-friendly sensibility & minimalist design[...] read more

Galina Loves: ‘Restore Balm’ from Mallow and White

At the time when the prices, as well as the number of ingredients going into beauty products seems to be climbing, some indie brands choose to stay accessible & make a positive impact via low numbers[...] read more