Christmas gifts part two: brands & products

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


For the make-up lover

One of the best things related to make-up that I came across this year is a set of make-up brushes designed in collaboration between Bathing Beauty and make-up artist Caroline James. I have reviewed this ten piece set of brushes in the past and remain no less enamoured with them now. A great gift for a woman who wants her make-up to look flawless, yet has fun with different make-up looks and product textures.

open box of 10 vegan make up brushes


No matter your age, a woman always needs a make-up bag and not always just for storing her make-up in it. Earlier this year Aurelia probiotic skincare added a beautifully feminine signature print beauty bag to its collection that I can also double-up as a clutch for your nights out with girlfriends. Currently there are various deals on purchasing the bag together with Aurelia products, so have a look on Aurelia website, as well as on Net-a-porter and the Outnet. It is also worth knowing that if you sign up for Aurelia’s loyalty programme, you get samples & special offers on a regular basis.


Aurelia signature print beauty bag £25 (on its own)

For the natural skincare lover

This one is a little tricky, because I can have hours-long conversations with you on this subject, however let me put forward a few products or brands that I thoroughly enjoyed discovering or using this year.

Skin & Tonic is a young brand that only launched in August of last year, yet their passion for effective skincare that is not only organic, but ethically sourced is palpable when you start discovering their products. Just in time for Christmas, why not order a special set of minis that will allow the recipient to discover the brand and pamper their skin: Steam Clean 15 ml; Gentle Scrub 20g; Brit Beauty Oil 10 ml; Naked Lip Balm; Organic Cotton Face Cloth; Organic Cotton Travel Bag. It costs £45 & truth be told, I would love one for my travels.


Just in time for Christmas, another natural beauty brand, Nourish Skincare, launched their first face oil as its Christmas exclusive. Enriched with rosehip, borage & pumpkin seed oils, Radiance Firming Facial Oil will lift and firm the skin, making it a wonderfully thoughtful gift for someone with mature or lacklustre skin. Life, for a moment at least, will smell of roses & the gift will comes beautifully packaged in a bespoke festive box (£25).


Skin is out biggest organ that not only protects our body from external aggressors, but gives us confidence in our own beauty. What’s the easiest way to nurture it? A good shower gel, which not only comes handy after hectic days or workouts but also can relax our minds or quite the opposite, wake it up. Bodhi & Birch collaborated this year with Heartwood Candle Co – together they launched four gift sets, called Joy, Love, Peace & Wish. Each beautifully designed box ( it is so pretty, you want to hug it ) contains an aromatherapy duo: a full-sized and indulgent bottle of Bodhi & Birch bath & shower therapy, paired together with a Heartwood candle – the smells complement and enhance each other beautifully, creating a truly indulgent experience. £38


Another interesting brand is Yun Ya, meaning beautiful and graceful in Korean. Each of their five shower gels combines natural qualities of the five elements of lunar calendar ( Earth, Fire, Wood, Metal & Water ) with the plant power of essential oils & aromatherapy. The gels don’t lather like crazy but give you enough lathering power to cleanse the skin & enhance your mood, depending on what element you prefer. I was particularly drawn to Earth, Fire & Water when testing them. Gift set of five miniatures is £18.99 or they can be bought full-sized for £15 for 250 ml bottle.


If you know the skin type of the person you are buying the products for, you can’t go wrong with the Facial Kits from Mallow & White. Using a maximum of five ingredients per product, each kit contain a face oil and powder face mask that will nurture the skin & the senses. Skincare doesn’t need to be complex in order to be effective! There are three kits to choose from, priced at £49 each.


For the Fashionable Fitness Fan

We all know that sportswear is becoming more and more prominent in our daily lives and savvy brands aren’t being consumer friendly in terms of their price point. But what if I told you that you can order personalised sports apparel, like leggings or a bra for a friend without doing major damage to your wallet? Check our DBA sports apparel that will do just that for you, as designs are created by the brand founder who does thorough testing on her designs as a professional athlete herself. Prices start at £25 for a sports bra


For a Nutrition Lover

Tara Stiles have been gaining fans all over the world with Strala Yoga but she is not just a yogi, but a woman who loves spending time in the kitchen, creating delicious and nurturing recipes, often inspired by her friends, as well as wide-reaching travels. Her second book ‘Make your own rules cookbook is a fun way to try new recipes and experiment with flavours, as well as satisfying snacks.


If you are like me & can’t be bothered to support yet another brand marketing the latest ‘it’ supplement that is going to change your life – it won’t by the way, only you have that power ! – then gift protein powders from That Protein. They come in four flavours ( Hemp & Baobab, Pumpkin & Chia, Brown Rice & Raw Cacao, as well as the latest & delicious addition, Choca Mocha with Organic Coffee ), help to build and repair muscles, especially when one works out or does sport on a regular basis, adds fibre & calcium to the daily diet, as well as assists healthy weight management. It helps reduce fatigue and grumpiness ( well, in my case it does ) and allows you to experiment with what works best, as it can be added to smoothies, baked with, added to cereal or yogurt or mixed with different types of milk for a plant protein shake. This is also a great gift for those who want to make changes to their diet & wellbeing in the new year but want the intent and the result to last. Available from That Protein website & costing from £12.99 to £14.99


For the Book Lover

I might be old-fashioned in my preference for the actual books, as opposed to their digital counterparts but luckily there are always options. I mulled over reviewing each of the four books that I am putting forward to you, but to be honest, I don’t think I will do them justice. Let me just say that each made a lasting impact on me.

‘It’s What I do: A photographer’s Life of Love and War’ by Lynsey Addario:


Having met Lynsey briefly at the Women of the World Summit in London, I found it almost hard to believe that this petite and radiant woman travels the world on her work assignments covering conflicts in Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan & Iraq. Her work is a testament that the power of the image can be stronger than words and on occasion, because of that, some magazines decided in the past against publishing some of her images as they were too strong for the American public. I read this book during my summer holidays and found it so riveting, I couldn’t put it down until the last page. It not only allows you to peek into the world of a professional war photographer but makes you realise that many of us lead a relatively ‘sheltered’ existence, not thinking beyond the news segments that we watch on the TV about the true hardships and tragedies of the people around the world. At times funny, dramatic and an absolute must read that will allow you to feel gratitude for your life and become a little less de-synthesized to the problems of others.

‘The Kindness’ by Polly Samson:51X3t-CYxaL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_

I love the way Polly writes, fusing poesy & dreaminess with precision and realism. ”The Kindles”, her latest book, published this year, is a story of love & family. Don’t be mislead by the title, it is not all lightness and happiness but a complicated story that reels you in, like a fisherman’s hook and won’t let you go until the last page. Without giving much away I will say that the ending is not at all what I imagined it to be at every stage of reading this book and the beautifully mastery of Polly’s writing will make you remember this book for months to come.

‘How to make your life work: daily guide to sanity’ by Axelle Bonaparte41PyFdf1HlL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

while it is quite compact, this book imparts some wisdom relating to life in general and lifestyle in particular that will make you giggle (a lot!) and probably take stock of your daily choices relating to relationships, wellbeing, skin or bodycare. It offers some helpful tools to make changes to the areas of life that you are struggling with or want to make some small but impactful changes. With chapters focussing on Body & Mind & Spirit, Axelle draws on her experience as a Metaporphic technique practitioner & Tsuboki therapist, as well as woman and I would highly recommend this book for anyone contemplating ‘mental’ rather than ‘body’ detox in January, a time for nurturing, not starving yourself.

‘Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death & Brain Surgery’ by Henry Marsh:51NHL3VLvbL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

Most of us, probably & luckily, don’t know much about doctors and hospital insights unless we or our loved ones have had the misfortune of being quite unwell. This book, written by UK’s leading brain surgeon, not only lifts the lid on the realities of brain surgery & ‘asymmetric relationship between doctors and patients’, but quite unusually, also boldly expresses honest views on the inner functioning of the NHS. A tall man, who can be mistaken for a University don due to his music-like worldly eloquence, Henry Marsh talks about surgery as an addiction for many surgeons and describes his book as a ‘factual thriller’. Personally I would say that it is a roller-coaster of a book that will make you laugh, as well as well up with tears. Being a man of many talents in his life outside of the hospital, you will be thoroughly engrossed by this book on more levels than one.


For a man in your life

Christmas and New Year is the time when everyone enjoys festive drinks, so let me draw your attention to this amazing collaboration between a small whisky distillery & a Lewes based plant lover. I can’t as yet describe the taste of Isle of Harris gin ( the bottle is waiting to be opened this Christmas ) but the sea kelp water and accompanying beauty range and candle that Amanda Saurin has created will remind you of the mossy smell and the timeless beauty of the sea. It will no doubt surprise & impress any man with good taste & appreciation of artisanal skills.


The Isle of Harris Gin costs £35 for a 700 mls bottle. There is also a unique offer for the first whisky release scheduled for 2019. Apothecary price range starts at £8 for a lip balm.

For the Tea Lover

There are many tea brands but there are two that I want to put on your radar. One is called PositiviTea and will appeal to anyone who likes to experiment with the flavours and is drawn to holistic lifestyle. Each of the tea blends focusses on a specific body chakra & helps to balance your energy. Until recently there were seven to choose from (Thrive, Create, Achieve, Love, Inspire, Imagine, Connect) but there is also now the Three Chi Chai that blends together Cocoa, Chilli, Ginseng & Cinnamon (make a dirty chai by adding a shot of expresso to it for the afternoon energy slump or try it with almond or coconut milk).

Another tea brand worthy of your lips is Amanzi, which sells both loose teas & tea bags and has a huge choice of teas, from white to herbal, as well as the blends for the kids.


Last but not least, I would like to wish you a Merry Christmas & a Happy 2016. I hope it will be a more peaceful year & we all practise more tolerance towards each other, learn from each other and build a meaningful and respectful dialogue irrespective of our age, gender, nationality or religious beliefs.

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