Galina Loves: face cloths

When it comes to washing our faces, we all have different preferences. Some just use their nimble hands. Some love their Clarisonic, others prefer Foreo. But there read more

Skin Owl multiple product review

After sharing insights into Skin Owl and introducing Annie Tevelin to those of you who weren’t familiar with her work before, I thought I would jump right into sharing some of my insights into Skin Owl products that Annie kindly gifted me, as well as the others that I purchased from Cult Beauty, brand’s main UK retailer for the time being.

Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM, 60ml, £79

This product replaced Annie’s first product Beauty Drops, that was very much loved by women around the world. As I mentioned in my previous post, Annie was honest with her customers and followers, telling them about planned product change that was in the works, as well as the reasons behind it. It is something that some of the other brand founders can learn from, instead of instantly taking a product off the shelf with no prior warning or explanation. In my experience disengagement from loyal consumers that support the brand from the beginning can be a very costly mistake.

Annie developed this product with all skin types in mind, from oily prone to breakouts, to mature that needs extra hydration. Maqui Beauty Drops contain antioxidants & phytochemicals that neutralise DNA – damaging free radicals, thus reducing cell damage. With regular use you will hopefully notice dull skin become visibly radiant, congested skin will become clearer and uneven texture and tone will visibly improve for the better in time. It also promises to tighten & reduce pore size, as well as calm irritation and redness.


Maqui Berry Drops have antimicrobial & antibacterial properties. Depending on your skin’s needs, apply five to seven drops after cleansing to your skin in the evening, instead of your usual serum or moisturiser. Inhale the fruity, uplifting scent and turn your evening skincare application into a mini-beauty ritual, massaging the tension out of your face.

When formulating her products, Annie makes sure they don’t contain synthetic fragrance, parabens, ethoxylated ingredients  and each formula is cruelty-free & vegan (interestingly, just as I was editing this post, I received an e-mail that contained information about Naturissimo launching a ‘vegan’ section on their website). For those of you contemplating swapping your mainstream beauty brand, like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, this product is a good option, as recommended by Annie and her team.

Maqui Berry Drops ‘pairs’ well with the Beauty Whip, which I will talk about in more detail below, as well as any morning/daytime Beauty Drops, like Lavender, Geranium or Clary Sage ( I have a particular affinity with Lavender Beauty Drops and sometimes cheekily use Maqui Berry in the morning and Lavender drops in the evening, but as always, this is down to individual and skin type preference).

In terms of ‘key ingredients‘ in this formula, you have Maqui Berry Oil, Omega 3,6 & 9, Vitamin A, D, E & K, as well as Tangerine & Vanilla essential Oils. Annie chose them for their nourishing and healing properties, as well as ability to boost collagen production and slowing down premature aging of the skin. You can also count on them to calm, reduce inflammation, moisturise and decongest the skin, so the formula is quite versatile for different skin types, as well as ages to which it caters.

The pale, almost translucent colour of this oil opens up on your warm skin and delights the senses with an uplifting scent of orange groves. The ‘rich’ texture sinks into the skin within seconds, leaving behind smooth, more supple skin, but also allows you to massage your face and neck without dragging or pulling of the skin. For me it is definitely a face oil that stays on the beauty radar, rather than disappears from it.

Ingredients: Raw, organic, cold-pressed African Adansonia digitata (Baobab) Oil, pure Aristotelia chilensis (Maqui Berry) Oil, Vanilla planifolia (vanilla) Co2 extract, Citrus reticulata (tangerine) oil.

Maqui Berry Beauty Whip, 57g, £68

I first tried this product a few months ago, through my Beauty Heroes subscription box, where it played the role of a helpful ‘side-kick’ to the Beauty Drops. While it is primarily a mask, I enjoyed using it most as a primer before make-up application, as I found it not only ‘primed’ the skin, but also allowed the make-up to ‘stay’ in place for a bit longer than usual, which is a bonus when you don’t want to, or have the time to re-apply your make-up during the day.


According to Annie, this product is a three-in-one – ‘a face mask, makeup primer and Beauty Drops booster’. This gentle, creamy skin-drenching mask is boosted with ace hydrators like Hyaluronic Acid, Organic Olive and Jojoba Oils, plus antioxidant-rich Patagonian Maqui Berry, Organic Rooibos, toning DMAE and smoothing MSM‘.

The way to use it is to mix one pump’s worth with any of Skin Owl’s Beauty drops, this way is will act as a moisture booster and make-up primer. If you want to use it as a mask, then cleanse your skin and apply a thin layer of the Beauty Whip, avoiding the eye and lip area, and leave it on for up to thirty minutes. Due to its light texture akin to moisturiser, it sinks in, so you can get on with doing things around your home, without scaring your friend, roommate or family member away. You can also leave it on overnight and rinse off in the morning, following  it with the application of the Beauty Drops of your choice. It really is up to you how you want to use it, so try it in a variety of ways and find what suits you.

Tip: once in use, keep Beauty Whip in the fridge, for extra plumping and de-puffing benefits. It really perks the skin up with its cooling sensation.

If you are looking for swapping for a more natural formula, than this product can be a suitable alternative to ‘Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask’ & it pairs well a soothing Eye+, as well as Lavender, Geranium, Clary Sage and Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM.

List of ingredientsOrganic Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe Barbadensis), Organic Olive Fruit Oil (Olea Europaea), Organic Alcohol, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis), Emulsifying Wax (Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Lecithin), Stearic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, MSM (Dimethyl Sulfone), DMAE Bitartrate (Dimethylaminoethanol Bitartrate), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Organic Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis), Organic Rooibos Leaf Extract (Aspalathus Linearis), Organic Lavender Extract (Lavandula Angustifolia), Maqui Berry (Aristotelia chilensis) Concentrate Powder, Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Of cinalis),Organic Green Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis), Organic White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis), Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Sun ower Seed Oil (Helianthus Annuus), Xanthan Gum

Beauty Steam in ‘Lovey Dovey, limited edition

I have been a somewhat reluctant to join in recent excitement about the re-emergence of face steaming, as my childhood experiences of steaming over garlic water or Vicks, when I had colds, left an imprint of a sweaty face and a sense of boredom. Having said that, I have done face steaming with fresh herbs in the past and in the right circumstances (when I am in the sauna, for example) and provided your skin isn’t easily aggravated by steam, like skin prone to rosacea, it makes for a wonderful experience in the colder months of the year.

Annie created this combination of herbs, which includes lavender and rose buds, as a special treat for Valentine’s Day, offering women some extra moments all to themselves. It’s not often we get to enjoy some peace of the ‘me time’ and the precious moments of silence and reflection that come with it. I actually added it to my bath water, to which I added some milk as well, a la Cleopatra, and had a dreamy time listening to my favourite tunes, all by myself. Alternatively Annie shared her tip for face steaming: provided you haven’t dripped your sweat into the bowl, using a sieve and then drink the warm steam water as a soothing cup of tea, which helps you be more open-hearted when it comes to matters of the world. Longer breaths, calmer mind, happy tummy and complexion. That’s what I call a beautiful multi-tacker.

Skin read more

In the spotlight: Berezka Lab Day & Night serums

As promised in my recent Insta video, this post is dedicated to a Russian ‘first’ – and no, I am not talking about President Putin. I mean a luxe natural skincare brand Berezka Lab. Only launched a couple of years ago by Dana Sagidullina, her passion for family life and nature informs her lifestyle choices and product creation. Having spent a few years living and working in Asia and increasingly appreciating a close connection between nature and human beings, Dana was determined to create skin, hair and body products that will give consumers the best of what nature has to offer. In Asia women have been using plants, oils and essences for centuries in their beauty rituals, so Dana wanted to create products that modern women can use with pleasure, while also noticing visible results on their skin.

In some ways Dana views brick walls as opportunities to levitate and extend one’s abilities and I am happy to see that BL is getting a much deserved spotlight in the Russian press, which has been relatively lukewarm when it comes to the subject of genuine natural beauty brands. Single-handedly Dana seems to be changing perception that natural products are hippish and ineffective by sourcing high-quality ingredients and expertly creating the products that make you pause and appreciate the awesome beauty of what nature gives us so abundantly. With 100% natural formulas and no synthetic ingredients, cold-pressed plant oils, extracts, clays and essential oils allow you to create efficient and indulgent beauty rituals to nurture your inner goddess in the way that won’t have a negative impact on your long-term wellbeing.

Berezka Lab Day Serum, 30ml, 4280 Russian roubles (appr. £54, depending on conversion rate)

With an impactful, but unobtrusive herbal scent and rich texture, this day serum is a combination of 15 plant and essential oils, which hydrate and protect your skin during the day. Rich in photo-nutrients and protected by dark photo glass, that prevents formula oxidation & ultraviolet light from penetrating of all the BL products, organic ingredients help support skin’s hydro-lipid balance and assist your body’s natural regeneration process.

In combination all of the ingredients prevent oxidative stress within your skin and fight against free radical damage, while hydrating the skin and helping it appear more plump. Having used it in the summer, when it was particularly hot, I actually ‘got away’ with just using it on its own and only applying my regular sun protection on top of it and my skin didn’t become dry. And having used it this winter, when it has been particularly cold (I do ‘top it up’ with a Tata Harper illuminating moisturiser or Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm, if I feel that my skin needs it later in the day, I feel that it offers skin ( I have normal/combination skin type) adequate support.

Its rich colour, which reminds me of the colour of the sun just before the sunset above horizon when you sit mesmerised on the beach, it sinks in very quickly and acts as a perfect ‘primer’ before you apply your make-up. I quickly cleanse my skin in the morning, leaving it slightly damp to the touch and then apply about five drops of this serum all over my skin. The amount of ‘drops’ – a little more, a little less – depends on your skin’s needs in the moment in time, as well as your age and skin type. You can also use it around the eyes (as a contact lens wearer I never had any reactions, but of course it’s always best to try a little bit to start with and see how your skin reacts) and extend it to your neckline and decolette.

After a few weeks of regular use in the morning and provided you use the right products for your skin at night time, you might also feel that you need to use less make-up during the day (of course, you might barely wear any already .) Just add a little bronzer or blusher, a lip stain and eyeliner – depends on your preference and you are ready to face the world. For me it really is one of those products that makes me feel good about about myself and the state of my skin. Easy to use, slightly heady when your first smell it, it is one of those ‘must have’ products for me now, something that even in the overly-saturated beauty market isn’t that easy to create, achieve or find.

List of ingredients: Jojoba oil*, Grapeseed oil*, Hazelnut oil*, Avocado oil*, Rosehip oil*, Marula Oil† , Apricot kernel oil*, Vitamin E (non GMO), Rosemary extract, Ylang ylang*, Immortelle*, Frankincense*, Roman Chamomile*, Geranium*, Fennel*, Seabuckthorn extract (* Certified USDA Organic; † Wildcrafted)

Berezka Lab Night serum, 30ml, 5120 Russian roubles (around £64 depending on conversion rate)

Now, bedtime routine and choice of products is particularly important, as it is at night that our body reinvigorates and regenerates itself. Berezka Lab’s night serum is a veritable antioxidant cocktail that was developed with the above said in mind. Dana chose and combined 17 plant and essential oils which promise to address free radical damage, tiredness and signs of stress (having said that, the power & effect of hydration and sleep can never be underestimated, irrespective of your age!).

Lighter in colour than a day serum, this one also has a richer texture, which never-the-less almost instantly gets absorbed by the skin. Rich in photo-nutrients & lipids, this oily serum stimulates cell regeneration, speeds up collagen and elastin production, while also hydrating the skin and making it look more even-textured. Examine your face before you apply it and five minutes after you apply the serum and I hope you will see a plumper, more radiant complexion, before you sign the day off and dose off into the land of peaceful dreams contentedly. In the morning my skin looks plump and energised, something that I don’t take for granted.

This serum also works well on helping heal acne scars and making them less noticeable, but as I haven’t suffered from acne, I can’t comment on that personally, but it is something that is mentioned by Berezka Lab in this product’s description and they aren’t the ones for boastful & unsubstantiated claims.

The way your beauty product smells, helps determine how you feel when using it. If the scent puts you off or you have a bad association with its smell from the past, that’s not going to enhance your skincare ritual. With Berezka Lab you get sensory and olfactory indulgence, which should encourage you to take deeper breaths, helping to focus (morning) or calm (evening) your mind. Deeper breathing also encourages better oxygenation of your body, helping expel toxins from your body more effectively and giving you a better complexion, hopefully, in the process too.

List of Ingredients: Carrot seed oil †, Almond oil*, Evening Primrose oil*, Seabuckthorn oil*, Jojoba oil*, Pomegranate oil*, Grapeseed oil, Vitamin E (non GMO), Fennel*, Palmarosa*, Rosewood*, Turmeric*, Patchouli *, Frankinsense, Grapefruit*, German blue Chamomile*, Neroli*, Rosemary extract* (* Certified USDA Organic, † Wildcrafted).

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Ways to keep healthy in winter: Cytoplan supplements

Like many of you I have been run off my feet in the last few months. With work & family demands tearing me at the seams and often making me feel frustrated that one or the other has to give, at times I lack time and energy to workout daily for longer than ten minutes and eat my lunch on the move or while working at my desk. Add to that late nights and the body rightfully starts to rebel. That’s when a good supplement plan comes into play and I am grateful to Charlotte Fraser, who while wearing a PR hat, also happens to be a mother, who can relate to pressures those of us who balance family and work face daily, and is a qualified nutritionist as well. First, she recommended Cytoplan supplements to me (my daughter is already huge fan of Cytoplan’s Nutribears, about which I wrote here and which thus far allowed her not to succumb to colds & viruses of the cold months), while also helpfully making some suggestions based on my lifestyle choices. Luckily for me, I was also guided by Cytoplan founder/managing director & registered nutritional therapist Amanda Williams and now I can share with you my Cytoplan supplements journey of the last few months. The fact that I am still standing after very busy and festive December and haven’t succumbed to colds and flu that have been making rounds is the testament that supplements, chosen with intention and knowledge, can help make up for our personal shortcomings when it comes to diet & lifestyle.

Cytoplan takes nutritional advice very seriously, so if you want to have ‘personalised’ supplement recommendation, you need to fill their comprehensive questionnaire online, which takes into account your medical history, lifestyle, hormones & emotional problems you might be going through among other things. To be honest I ‘chickened out’ of doing it, as it is quite lengthy & does take time to complete it (being thorough when it comes to choosing supplements is a very good idea and the fact that Cytoplan offers this for free is a testament to how seriously they take their clients wellbeing), but Charlotte kindly acted as my nutritional fairy and based on the things that I told her, she recommended some Cytoplan supplements to me in early autumn ( I am sorry to say I am not a fan of Krill oil but take BareBiology fish oil  (liquid or in capsule) daily), as in her opinion ‘they represent the different aspects of the range, but are also good for skin health at this particular time of year. Vitamin D is, of course, the one that you should also consider as that is one of the most common deficiencies come the shorter days – however, you can also get that from natural food sources’. (Galina’s note: I use ‘Better You’ Vitamin D spray daily from October onwards, both for myself, as well as for my children, as the brand makes it for adults, babies and kids. My spray provides me with 1000 IU in one spray, but if your blood test shows you are low on it, based on your doctor’s or registered nutritionist advice, you can increase it to 3,000 IU in dark autumn and winter months, when we feel the lack of sunshine quite acutely). Now, apart from Vitamin D & BareBiology, I stopped taking any other supplements from October, so I can see & feel how my body responds to Cytoplan. I put three to the test, Super B Extra, Wholefood Zinc & Cherry C & throughout the post added advice & comments from both Amanda & Charlotte, to give you a well-rounded view of my experience.

The Super B Extra tablets (an example of their Food State range, 60 tablets), £15.90

Charlotte Fraser: ‘One of my personal favourites, and a popular one amongst my nutrition clients. I take two at breakfast, but if I am dog-tired or jet–lagged, I might take two at lunch too. These are brilliant for revving up your energy, but also keeping you super chilled – wonderfully supportive to the nervous system. Of course they are also very good for skin health too. You can’t store B vitamins in the body, so you will urinate out any excess. Super B Extra is fast acting and it contains good levels of magnesium as well to combat stress and help relax muscles. B vitamins are great for also making the glass half full – I think of B for ‘bounce :)’.

The recommended intake on the tablet box states ‘2 tablets daily, can be increased to 4 tablets daily if required as food supplement or as directed by your practitioner. This supplement shouldn’t be used as a substitute fora varied diet’. I take two tablets (the have a slightly flat oval shape, making them fairly easy to swallow) after breakfast with a small glass of water and after taking it for about three weeks, I noticed that overall I became slightly milder in my general attitude to life, which when you are particularly busy, is a very welcome bonus. Somehow I became more subdued when dealing with stressful situation and while the grumpy gremlin in me hasn’t disappeared completely, I multi-task more efficiently and am calmer. Now, having been taking it consistently for three months, I can feel the difference it makes to the nervous system & think it is definitely the one to be taking on a regular basis when you deal with stressful situations on a regular basis. It helps make you a better person of sorts .)

Wholefood Zinc (7,5mg, 60 capsules), £13.20

Charlotte Fraser: ‘This is made from hydroponically-grown brassica (a member of the broccoli family). Zinc is a hugely important mineral and one that I find a lot of clients are deficient in. It is a particularly good idea to top up Zinc levels in the Autumn months, more as an insurance measure. It is of course the ‘vanity’ mineral, great for skin, hair and nails, however it is super important for helping to maintain optimum gut health, boosting the immune system, maintaining hormonal balance, growth, libido, brain function & helping to combat depression – the list is too long to mention. Everyone can benefit from some additional zinc in the lead up to Christmas when the bugs are flying, just to bolster one’s immune system. The best time to take Zinc is supper time. If you don’t like the capsule wholefood format, Cytoplan do a Food State variety called Zinc & Copper, which is nice too.

You don’t feel an instant difference taking zinc. You slightly have to reach the end of the tunnel and then look back, and then you wonder how it is that you now see the world in colour; you aren’t conscious of a particular ‘Eureka moment’, but you realise that you feel significantly different from when you set out along the tunnel. It is more gradual, but Zinc can have a very profound effect on someone’s physical health and mental wellbeing. The dosage I prescribe for Zinc differs depending on clients’ individual circumstances – there are maintenance, therapeutic and clinical doses.’

Following Charlotte’s advice I have been taking one capsule of zinc in the evening, after dinner and just as Charlotte described, gradually, within a few weeks, I find myself calmer and not as fussed compared to let’s say the run up to Christmas last year. Yes, there were the usual jitters along the line ‘how will I get everything done on time’, but I kept my head on, genuinely smiled outward and just got on with the ticking of the items of my daily ‘to do list’. Now, as we dive into January, after various indulgence and family travels, I feel like a better version of myself, ready to tackle the excitement and work projects that lie ahead.

The Cherry C (whole food Vitamin c 200mg, 60 capsules), £15.50

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In time for autumn equinox: Bodhi and Birch Limited Edition Bath & Shower Oils collection

As autumn arrived on our doorstep, with cooler temperatures & beautiful foliage strewn across the roads, it also heralds peaceful contemplation of the changes to your skin & body care routines. With showers being quicker & easier, but baths being more indulgent & relaxing, new limited edition Bath & Shower Oil collection from Bodhi and Birch offers you ultimate moments of indulgence not just for your senses, but for your body as well, which is going through seasonal adjustments.

Jumping into shower is second nature to most of us, but an occasional indulgence with a long bath shouldn’t be underestimated. Elijah Choo, founder & creative force behind Bodhi & Birch, contemplated this, as he hand-blended finest essential oils in his lab in order to create antidotes to the stresses of modern life. With my kids firmly in the grip of a new school year & after school activities, I feel that we all need another holiday & as it isn’t forthcoming until Christmas, running a bath & inhaling the new scents that Elijah crafted, allows me to let go of the worries, while doing poetic escapades in the depth of my mind, aided by intriguing notes that my nose & mind try to decipher.

A beautiful box that fits into the palm of your hand, has beautiful art motives in blues & purples, providing a calm vision before your eyes, before you slide the box cover to reveal three pretty bottles nestled inside. The first intriguing aspect is that while each clear bottle with a black screw-on lid looks one colour against the white box background, it change magically, if you hold each against the light. A little meditation in itself – stop, pause, discover. Longer & deeper breaths that make us feel more grounded & calmer. A journey of discovery begins.

Rosa Verde  promises to ‘gently lift your mood, restore the spirit & awaken your soul’. Rose is renowned for its rejuvenating & renewing powers over our senses, while Lime & Geranium help to sooth & uplift the frowns from the forehead & Frankincense grounds & helps to balance the hormones.

The way to use each of the bath & shower oils in this collection is to pour a cupful into a warm bath & enjoy the aromatherapeutic benefits. Alternatively Elijah recommends massaging a few drops onto your torso, breathing in the aroma & making sure you take deeper breaths & then stepping into the shower to wash day’s grime or troubles away.

My eldest is a big fan of Bodhi & Birch bath products & chooses them in the evening before his shower, depending on what kind of a day he has had. Interestingly enough, this one turned out to be his favourite out of the three. Do be aware that those products were developed for adults, not children use, so make your judgement accordingly.

I, on the other hand, found it a little bit too feminine, as the scent developed on my skin after direct application. I thoroughly enjoyed the full renewing benefit though when I poured the oil directly into the the running water, inhaling the scent as the bath filled up. Later, luxuriating in the bath, while reading Maria Sharapova’s biography, I appreciated the olfactory experience provided by this particular oil more fully than in the shower.  Not sure if Maria is a bath fan, but I am a big fan of her talent, as well as Elijah’s !

Jasmin de Lune ‘is a powerful blend for helping relax your body & mind’. Jasmine Absolu reduces stress & promotes quality sleep ( I am truly addicted to Jasmine Falls bath & Shower Therapy, which help me sleep like a princess & look as relaxed as a queen in the morning ), High-Altitude Lavender soothes the senses, while Vetiver acts as a natural sedative, without the side effects or drowsiness. It’s worth noting that high-altitude Lavender is more potent compared to other types of lavender, so expect a deeper sense of relaxation all around.

This is the product I would recommend you reach out for when you feel really tired or had a truly stressful day, when stress seems to linger & holds you in its tight grip. This bath & shower oil is up to the task of breaking the uncomfortable grip for good. I also want to note how soothing this & other two oils in this collection feel on the skin when you apply it directly to it – do make sure to do a patch test though, if you are new to essential oils or have skin sensitivities. My skin felt not only nurtured, but well moisturised after the bath, so when I was testing those bath & shower oils I didn’t feel the need to moisturise my skin after gently towel-drying my skin. Part of the reason was that I don’t use the water that is too hot, as it dehydrates the skin. The other contributing factor is that Elijah fuses the essential oil blends with a carrier Safflower oil, which is a potent hydrator. Safflower Oil is also packed with essential vitamins that keep skin soft & supple. It worth noting that using those bath & shower oils isn’t recommended, if you are expecting.

La Botanica, the most intriguing of the trio for me personally, ‘revitalises the body & revives the senses’. Lemon & Eucalyptus oils energise read more

Need to know: The Hayo’u Method part two, rituals & products

Having introduced you to the Hayo’u Method & its formidable founder Katie Brindle in the part one of my post, in my second post I want to talk to you about daily rituals and products that are part of the method. I will also talk about the effect they had on me in the last couple of months.

Katie devised four simple rituals – Beauty Restorer for the face, Body Restorer, Reset & Rescue Breath. Each ritual need only take one minute  of your time & will either calm & de-stress or rejuvenate & re-energise your system. A case of simple, but efficient results, when you commit to being a little bit more disciplined & take time to nurture yourself.

As to the products, there are four plus two tools. A jade Beauty Restorer de-Stress Face Tool, a steel Body Restorer, a Treat-Rite de-Stress Face Oil & Body Oils,  Bathe-Rite de-Stress Shower Minerals & Bath-Rite de-Stress Bath Minerals. During our meeting Katie’s honesty gripped my attention. She clearly prides herself on creating well-thoughtout & researched products, but says that if you already have your favourite bath, body or facial products, you don’t have to switch in order to use her face & body tools. Use them alongside the products that work for you and see what transpires. I often hear brand founders say how you should use only their products in your routine, as they have the best synergy, yet here is a woman who wants you to be happy in your skin & body by using what appeals to YOU.

Simple Daily Rituals & Practical Techniques

Hayo’u offers four daily self-treatments using techniques & tools that are most effective in protecting the read more

Need to know: the Wunderous power of adaptogens

Wunder Workshop is the turmeric brand, sourcing this fragrant organic spice from Sri Lanka and creating products that benefit your health & wellbeing. Recently the brand added two adaptogens to its product family, one that helps you counteract the negative effect of stress, the other to enhance your skin’s natural glow & I thought it would be helpful to share my thoughts about them with you.

One of the signs of our times, with a wider reaching tentacles of the world-wide web is that many people prefer to self-diagnose themselves or go to the doctor at the first sign of a cold, asking for antibiotics. On my recent trip to Moscow I was horrified to see the bombardment of the nation with medication ads on TV, followed by my eldest bewildered question: ‘ Mum, why are there so many pharmacies in Moscow, are people here very sick?’ There is a time and the place to consult the doctor, but a lot can and should be said about the benefits of lifestyle and holistic practises that we can all benefit from in the long-term.

As human lifespan become longer & we all will be expected to work for an extended period of time before retiring, compared to previous generations, good health becomes paramount. After all, we only have one health and while many take it for granted while it is good, it helps to shift the focus from superficial good looks to looking after our long-term health & wellbeing, both of which, make us not only feel better, but looking better too.

Adaptogens are widely used in Chinese medicinal practises because they help increase our resilience to environmental, mental, biological, emotional and physical stresses that we all experience daily. Certain herbs and plants help to normalise functions within our bodies and make us feel better in our skin, as well as in our bodies. A long time ago I remember listening to an interview with a well-known Russian doctor, who said that happiness and health for her is when she wakes up feeling energised and with no aches or pains. Ask yourself, how often do you experience that?

Zoe Lindt Van’t Hof, co-founder of Wunder Workshop, has been a long-term follower & advocate of holistic lifestyle, in a non-restrictive way. When you see her, with the sparkling eyes, glowing skin and contagiously grounding vibes, you instantly understand that she is the best advertisement for her brand and efficacy of the products she creates, as well as holistic lifestyle that she leads. Zoe is inspiring as a person, and as professional, yet she remains calmly focussed and generous with sharing her knowledge & tips.

Latest Wunder Workshop additions, launched earlier this summer, are brand’s first adaptogenic blends. Zoe & Tom, her right-hand partner,  have picked the ingredients based on their single functionalities, but also factored in the synergies between the ingredients. Unlike centuries ago, now spices seem to be widely available from retailers, but for me the choice often correlates to the quality of the spices & when it comes to turmeric, I can honestly say that Wunder Workshop is my favourite turmeric brand. Why? Well, simply put it is because Zoe & her team are dedicated to sourcing the best ingredients, factoring manufacturing practises in cultivation, quality of the soil, climate & harvesting times into their products.

Golden Balance is a blend (organically certified) of turmeric with Ashwagandha, Licorice, ginger, black pepper, cayenne pepper. This unique blend of organic Ayurvedic herbs and spices is designed to combat a stressful modern lifestyle, managing cortisol levels and improving hormone balance. Ashwagandha is rich in iron, improving alertness, as well as strengthening the body’s response to stress and anxiety by reducing adrenal fatigue and stabilising thyroid hormones. Turmeric, liquorice and ginger have powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and digestive properties, whilst cayenne pepper stimulates metabolism and circulation, revitalising and rejuvenating the body.

‘In our society’s hectic lifestyle where our bodies and hormones are constantly put to the test, Golden Balance helps to maintain your balance day in day read more

Why modern women need Amly Digital Detox

As any modern woman knows, we seem to be sadly attached at the hip not to our loved ones, but our computers and mobile phones. While our other halves, friends and children bring joy to our lives, computers, iPads and mobile phones have not just a practical effect, but negative one as well, in the form of blue light & zapping our energy with prolonged use, as well as contributing to a sedately lifestyle, the effect of which, among other facts, won’t be known for many years. As I am one of those people whop spends a fair amount of time in front of her laptop daily, I was intrigued to test the latest launch from the British brand Amly, whose Radiance Boost Silver Rich Facial Mist has become my regular daily and travel companion since its launch last year. Now I welcome Digital Detox into my facial mist family fold.

Beneath an organic wildflower meadow in East Sussex, comes a source of naturally silver-rich water. This unique self-replenishing supply filters through layers of ancient mineral-rich rock, making it a pure source of natural trace elements and minerals, all of which help to sooth, revitalise and purify not just your complexion, but your senses as well.

When I think of the word mist, I imagine clear & refreshing rain droplets on my face, hydrating & refreshing the skin, while washing the negativity away, as you loose yourself in the precious moment of just being.

It took Amly founders Kerry Moore (a specialist in Biodynamic craniosacral therapy and homeopathy background) & Lisa Smallpiece (an artist & resident of the organic farm attached to Amly), two years to refine & research the perfect combination of ingredients that jointly offer anti-pollution & stress-combating treatment to the skin, protecting it against the damaging effect of modern urban living, office work & constant digital presence that sadly seems to be on the rise, as we all try to keep up with the pace.

But its not just the artificial light that our computers & mobile gadgets, as well as TV screens emit, its also the electromagnetic radiation. If your skin is already dry or irritated, those problems, compounded by the negative effect of daily environmental aggressors, become worse and more noticeable to you when you examine your skin in the mirror. Lisa & Kerry don’t believe in launching products just because this is expected from them as a brand – after all, they launched not with a plethora, but with just one products to start with. Creating products that help your skin look and feel better, as well as have a positive effect on your body via your senses is what truly matters. Digital Detox builds on nature’s ability to refresh and replenish, by utilising hydrating marine actives, purifying magnesium salts and energising oils that together have a powerful effect on you, as you inhale the vibrant floral scent, close your eyes and allow your features to relax into a contented smile. At times I simply continue misting my face and decollate gently humming ‘OM’, be it with my feet firmly planted on the floor under my desk or sitting on my yoga mat in the evening. It is one of those easily accessible tools that become second nature and make you feel better in your skin – be it at home, on the tube or plane, or while toiling away in the office.

When you use Digital Detox mist for the first time, shake the bottle gently but firmly, close your eyes and spray liberally, while taking deeper breaths and allowing the aromatic oils to stimulate your senses and giving your mind a temporary respite from whatever you have been focussing on. Try to focus on deciphering the scent and notice energy-cleansing Frankincense, Yarrow and Niaouli; Refreshing yet calming, this clarifying spritz blends together Juniper, Cedarwood and Ginseng which aid concentration, while Rose Quartz, Orange Blossom and Ylang Ylang are valued for their harmonising and anti-stress properties. Life is hectic, we all say this out loud, instead of greeting each other nowadays, so use this to ground, energise and calm yourself before you get on with the tasks at hand.

I spray it on my face sometimes in the morning, instead of the tonic, but most often it stays by my side, like a cacti, next to my laptop and when I feel that my mind wants to wonder to the social media or web pages away from work, I take a few moments to mist my face and centre myself, before continuing with the task that needs attention or completion. This mist is very fine and the particles seem to sink into your skin almost as soon as they land on it, which gives a lovely, calming sensation to the skin.

I also have another trick up my sleeve when it comes to using this mist – there are times when I feel angry or hyper and instead of raising my voice, I mist my face and it seems to silence the roaring giant that wants to escape from the back of my throat. While it doesn’t necessarily prevented a conflict from erupting – after all, I can’t say to a client or a person with whom I might have an unpleasant conversation – ‘wait a moment, let me ground myself before we continue this conversation’, it has stopped me in the tracks on a few occasions when kids tested my patience.  On occasion this action on my part made them stop their tantrum mid-way and focus on examining my ‘I don’t care right now, I am trying to be zen’ face.

Each batch of the product takes about eight weeks to be prepared, as it undergoes the resting phase & infusion after the wash phase, with Kerry & Lisa renewing the process every four weeks, so a new batch is ready every month. It just shows that in the ever-increasing pace of life some things require not just effort, but time to be ready, without compromise on the quality or the results you might expect from the product.

Now, last but not least, a few words on the natural actives and ingredients, that make this mist such a luxuriously indulgent pleasure of daily life.

Salicornia extract: a hardy coastal plant, known for its extraordinary ability to defend itself from dehydration. The extract is scientifically proven to strengthen skin’s lipid barrier & boost moisture levels

Marine Algae: a phytonutrient-rich plant known for its ability to protect itself from environmental aggressors, including UV light & radiation

Niaouli helps to clarify skin & mind, while possessing anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties

Natural Bioavailable Silver
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CRiL Reviews: Nutty launch from That Protein

A lot of things related to our diets & nutrition are becoming contested, as nutritionists & dieticians are battling in their war of words with influencers & food bloggers, the latter often with much bigger followings than people who are actually qualified to give us advice relating to our eating habits. As I have regular conversations with brand founders of supplements brands, as well as nutritionists, I choose the supplements that I use carefully, never waylaid by marketing hype. Lately protein has been a subject of a documentary on BBC & that made my trial of That Protein new launch, Nutty Nutty Peanut Butter Super Protein, particularly interesting & timely.

That Protein was founder by the lovely Irish woman Darlene McCormick. Darlene has been voted Northern Ireland’s Top Businesswoman, but before starting TP, she owned one of Ireland’s top PR firms, which she sold, in order to follow her passion for plant based nutrition. By creating her own company & brand she puts her products into the limelight, while she works tirelessly in the background, replying to my messages & customer enquiries herself. She also loves spending time in her kitchen, developing new recipes that she shares regularly on her social media pages, as well as trying the ones that her customers send her. Some of you would be interested to hear that she is vegan & so are the That Protein powders. She also makes sure that her products are dairy free, non GMO, are high in fibre & Vitamins like B1, B2 & B6 & don’t contain refined sugars or sweeteners.

Now, to proteins & the role they play in our bodies. Our bodies require different types of food, with the three building blocks being carbohydrates, proteins & fat. On top of that we need to add vitamins & minerals, which stimulate enzymes & chemical reactions in our bodies. Another important element is of course water! As a rule of thumb we need about 60% carbs, 10-15% proteins, which depend on your activity levels & 25% of fats, minerals, vitamins & fluids. Like with everything in life, we all need to achieve balance, which depends on many factors & our individual traits, bodies & DNA.

Proteins are our body’s building blocks. As well as helping to build muscles, they support repairs within our bodies, help digestion & assist our immunity system. We mostly get proteins from meat, fish, milk products, eggs, nuts and from some vegetables. Then there are the complete & incomplete, as well as high- and low-quality proteins, which refer to the amino acids they supply. Few foods are purely one element and most of our sources of protein also supply us with either carbs (vegetable proteins) or fats (animal proteins). Meat & fish eaters probably get enough of proteins, but need to be conscious of the amount of fat they consume. Equally, vegetarians need to make sure they don’t miss on the vital nutrition block and get enough amino acids essential for building protein (muscles). When we lack protein in our diet, it can lead to anaemia, tiredness and potentially weakened immune system. Interestingly enough our brain, with its main source of nutrition being glucose, would make a very bad dietician, as it doesn’t take into account whether glucose that we consume comes from protein, vegetables or fat.

The BBC1 documentary I mentioned earlier was focussed on the popularity of protein supplements and the high-protein diet favoured by athletes and body builders. The latter often consume excessive amounts of protein daily, which can lead to unpleasant side effects and potentially serious illness, if this goes on for a prolonged period of time.

As a meat eater, I do get enough protein through my diet, but there are days when things get hectic and that’s where supplements like That Protein come to play the leading role. Mix three heaped table spoons with your preferred milk or add into your smoothie and that allows you to fuel the body in the right way. As protein contributes to growth and maintenance of muscle mass, I often take it after my workout and that gives my body exactly what it needs to recover after an intensive exercise session.

This limited edition

Peanut Butter Protein powder contains
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