June Newness: calm, cleansing, clever gadgets & skincare to meditate with

In the month when we celebrated Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee (and what a joyous occasion it was!) and had a vote of confidence in the leadership of Boris Johnson (that left him wounded, but still residing in No.10), I discovered some new brands and tried some new launches from the brands I already know well. There is a lot to discuss, so let’s get going with all that I have in-store for you in my June Newness selection.

June Newness: something for your face – Bloomeffects Tulip Nectar Cleansing Cream, 90ml

blooming cleanse

Bloomeffects seems to be gaining traction well beyond its home of Netherlands thanks to unbridled enthusiasm and business acumen of brand’s founder Kim van Haaster. Recently the brand added a new cleanser to its product range and as a fan of its nourishing Royal Tulip Cleansing Jelly, I was curious to try the new cleanser and compare it to its ‘predecessor’.

Powered by a trio of fermented beta-glucans, ceramides and Bloomeffects proprietary Dutch Tulip Complex, this cleansing cream cleanses, as well as hydrates the skin. Kim, who herself suffers from skin issues, including acne, developed this cleanser with all skin types in mind, but paying particular attention to the needs of dry and reactive skin types. It promises to purify, hydrate and sooth the skin, without stripping it down. Massage a small amount of this cleansing cream into the damp skin and then wash it off thoroughly. If you want a more thorough cleanse at the end of the day, particularly if you’ve been wearing make-up and sunscreen, pair it with Royal Tulip Cleansing Jelly for the two-step cleansing.

Bloomeffects Tulip Nectar Cleansing Cream

While I like a light and creamy texture of this cleanser, which feels very pleasant on the skin and leaves it feeling refreshed and indeed hydrated, I am a little less enamoured with its slightly medicinal smell, which points to the fermentation and reminds me a little of kombucha. Well, I guess one needs to prioritise the health and contentment of the skin over the scent sometimes. This face cleanser delivers on its promises, cleanses thoroughly, without stripping the skin and is a good cleanser for any season. Another noteworthy element is the packaging, a flip top PICEATM blue wooden tube, made from an innovative material created from upcycled excess sawdust waste sourced from German carpenters. A case of a brand innovating for good, rather pretending to innovate in order to create appealing marketing slogans. TIP: Pay attention to brands that engage with you without screaming, rather than screaming popular nonsense at you.

Something to calm you down – Earth Secret CALM supplement refill pack, 60 capsules, £35

Calmly focussed

I have spotlighted this supplement brand to you in the past and it meets the “simple & accessibly priced supplement” criteria. Earth Secret focusses on the well-researched adaptogens and their potential to have a positive impact on your cognitive functioning, mood, and overall stress levels. 

Used for centuries in ancient Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic medicine, adaptogens can help to induce calm by naturally lowering body’s cortisol levels, make you feel more energised or focussed. CALM contains three herbs that can help boost brain power on molecular level:

Unshelling calm

Rhodiola Rosea 

Rhodiola Rosea is a popular Ayurvedic Adaptogenic herb, which was used by the vikings to enhance physical and mental performance. I wonder if Alexander Skarsgard was taking them while preparing himself for the role in Northman? On a more serious note, according to Earth Secret team this herb can help to increase concentration and focus, as clinical studies have shown it has the ability to reduce fatigue, enhance cognitive performance and produce an “anti-fatigue” effect in participants.

Holy Basil

In the Ayurveda system, Holy Basil is referred to as an ‘Elixir of Life’ for its healing powers and cognition-enhancing properties. Holy Basil has been said to be like yoga, with its calming effect that can lead to clarity of thought, along with a more relaxed and calm disposition. it certainly is a herb that has become more known over the last decade, with supplement brands like The Organic Pharmacy including them as star ingredients in their supplement range.

L-theanine

L-theanine is a naturally calming amino acid found in Green Tea leaves and mushrooms. L-theanine has commonly been used for its Nootropic abilities, as it may boost Alpha and Theta brain waves, which can enhance creativity and focus.

Earths Secret’s CALM Complex contains all three of the above – Rhodiola Rosea Extract (3% Rosavins, 1% Salidrosides), Holy Basil Leaf 5:1 Extract and L-Theanine, as well as Organic KSM-66 Ashwagandha Root Extract from Withania Somnifera standardised to 5% Withanolides and Organic Black Pepper – which in synergy can help increase cognitive functions, including memory, mental speed, and focus by enhancing one’s physical and mental performance by boosting Alpha and Theta brain waves, while promoting alert relaxation.

I can’t say that I noticed a vast difference in my focus or calm after taking this supplement for a month – I didn’t take any other supplement other than Bare Biology Omegas – but I certainly weathered a rather hectic month without any major upheavals. I also made a more conscious effort to read more books and editorials, rather than the news and spend less time on social media, which increasingly feels like a maddening and loud buzz, rather than a place for meaningful conversations on a variety of subjects.

June Newness: something to ground the mind and nourish the skin – Strange Bird GAIA Earth Drops, 30ml, $98

Earthy power of Gaia drops

I’ve been meaning to try this face oil for a while, as the brand and its creative founder have been lingering on my radar. Tina Chow Rudolf is a talented painter and Strange Bird founder, who believes that “wellness is the way we treat ourselves” and it’s something that deeply resonates with me. Women in particular have a propensity to nurture others, while often forgoing their needs or relegating them to the back burner. With increased pressures and stresses of modern life that’s something that can cause us lasting damage and I have been vocal on the subject to anyone, who cares to listen.

According to Tina one of the aims of her creating a brand was to support “both the skin and individual’s wellbeing”. Tina’s approach to daily self-care is simple, yet meaningful, if you care to put it into practise: “your body routine is not only about WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.” We might have the best intentions, we can take however many amazing images and share them on Instagram, but pretending that life is gloriously peaceful is far from the actual reality of life for most people. It probably won’t surprise you to hear that more and more people of different ages are saying out loud that they are actually struggling to cope with the daily grind, but very few can’t jump off the Ferris wheel and take a prolonged holiday in order to sort themselves out. What Tina and Strange Bird offer you are the simple skincare routine to cleanse/serum/moisturise your face, while doing a gentle meditation with a simple intention to look after yourself – a combination of product and meditation elevates daily self or skin/body care with your conscious intention for maximum individual benefit.

Strangely Wise Bird

Gaia Earth Drops is actually a face oil that promises to “heal, boost and manifest”. If that sounds a bit too ‘advanced’ for you, let me simplify things. Powered by the Fermented Camellia Seed Oil and Red Ginseng, this really is NOT just another face oil. It feels silky smooth on application and the fingers float like a cloud over the sky that is your face. There are many great face oils that offer a great slip for facial massage, but this one really does take it to the next level of heavenly comfort when it comes to the contact between the face, oil and your fingers, making them sing together in unison. At the same time this face oil creates a barrier of moisture protection – I use it in the evening, after cleansing and gently misting my face – instead of the serum, moisturiser or face balm. There are also sacred seeds of Amla and Goji Berry combined with the antioxidant-rich extracts of Dandelion & Ginger that work on healing, balancing and refining your skin, while you sleep. But of course who is to say you can’t use this face oil in the morning – you should do what works for YOU!

Because Strange Bird wants its products to work on all of your levels – meaning body, mind and spirit – there is also a hint of Roman Chamomile to calm both your skin and elevate your fears and a touch of Green Mandarin to inspire your Inner Child. If that sounds like too much “woo woo” for you, fair enough. But there is also one more layer to this product, if what I wrote so far makes sense to the inner you. Tina has worked with the yoga teacher and author Elena Brower, who created a special audio meditation to “accompany” your journey with Gaia Earth Drops. Just download it for free from brand’s website and I dare you not to fall in love with both the oil and the soothing voice of Elena guiding you to take better care of yourself for just a few minutes a day – there is fiery power, femininity, determination and immense kindness in the waves of her voice that take the mini ritual of massaging your face and turn it into a nurturing love letter to self.

If I made you curious about this US-based brand, do pop on their website and have a look at Tina’s answer to the question about what made her create a skincare line on “Meet The Founder Page”. Some of us take representation – at times naively, at times conveniently – for granted, but for many people, nationalities and ethnicities it remains a struggle to be seen, heard and appreciated. Read Tina’s words and see if they resonate with you, no matter where you live and who you are. Her words moved me and made me appreciate how wonderfully nuanced our world is because of all the wonderful individuals that populate it, sharing their creativity.

Last, but not least, feast your eyes on the red Bao Fu. I was lucky to receive mine as a gift with my Gaia drops order because it conceded with the Mother’s Day in the US I think. Created in collaboration with the Japanese artist and designer Chie Ushio, Strange Bird put its own spin on the traditional wrapping cloths that seem to be gaining momentum outside of Asia. I have seen wrapping cloths being sold in Waterstones book stores, as well as some fashion retailers in London. This one doesn’t feel like it, but it was created from a 100% recycled plastic. While at the end of the day recycled plastic is still plastic, this Bao Fu or FUROSHIKI, are traditionally used to hold the precious gifts or keepsakes – Strange Bird recommends keeping crystals, carrot cards or journals in them. The simple, yet intentional act of wrapping an object signals its sacredness and protects its energy. In my case I actually wear it as a scarf or bandana and I absolutely love it because to me it represents a precious gift of creativity of both Tina and Chie.

June Newness: something multi-tasking for the kids – Kiss Kiss Goodnight Yellow Star Prebiotic Bath Jelly & Cleanser, 30ml, US$24

June Newness: something mellow yellow for the kids

I have ordered this bath jelly from Boxwalla as a treat for my daughter, who likes to have an indulgent bath once in a while, especially after the overload of sporting activities that make her muscles ache. This Bath jelly comes in three formulas, a Yellow Star that contains Seabuckthorn, there is also the Blue Galaxy with Blue Spirulina and Red Luna that contains Hibiscus Powder.

While those gentle formulations were created with care for the little people, those alternative to bubble bath formulas Arte appealing to the pre and teens as well. With kids and babies this product will transform the bathwater into the soothing vegan milk bath. And for teenagers the ‘appeal’ lies in being able to use this product to cleanse their faces or even to use it to help shave – whether faces, armpits or legs.

Shelley Ann Winokur, the founder of the brand, has experienced the challenges presented by sensitive skin herself and with four kids of her own, she was determined to create products that will help look after babies delicate skin and help make it resilient – something that equally applies to teenagers skin that is impacted by hormonal surges.

who doesn’t like a multi-tasking body product that can also be used for face care?

My daughter very much enjoys using this product when having a bath and found that it makes her skin feel lovely and soft. As to using it on her face, she said it was nice, but she does prefer using her usual face cleanser from another brand – I think that’s simple a question of preference for her personally. What I am genuinely pleased about is that more niche brands are starting to create gentle and thoughtfully formulated products that are developed with young skin in mind, as babies and teenagers skin needs are very much different to those of grown-ups. Personally not only do I look carefully at the INCI list of products that my children use on their skin, I am teaching them to understand what to look for when selecting the body/skin and haircare products – and that is something that is much more important than simply how the product looks ‘visually’ or whether it was recommended by a friend to them. Engaging with your children on this subject is important and will hopefully help install good skincare habits that will serve them well for a lifetime.

June Newness: something special for the hair – Khali Min Clean Cream Leave-In Conditioner, 120ml,

daily hair moisturiser from Khali Min

Having introduced the brand to my website readers recently via the quick fire Q & A with the founders Anda and Vanessa, I now want to spotlight Khali Min Leave-In Conditioner that made quite an impression on my hair. Meaning “free from” in Arabic, Khali Min is a British brand that’s rooted in Egyptian beauty traditions and ancient rituals. Clean Cream is a multitasking conditioner that promises to ‘smooth, hydrate and detangle the hair, while protecting it against dryness and breakage”. When you squeeze a bean size amount into your hand, it feel more like a moisturiser, rather than a thick conditioner that we commonly apply to our hair. The other impressive difference is the very subtle, barely there scent and the formula that Vanessa and Anda made silicone-free.

June Newness: a leave-in conditioner for your hair that feels like a moisturiser for your skin

Even though the first ingredient on the INCI list is aqua, I note Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice towards the end of it, as well as Shea butter esters, Broccoli seed, Rosehip fruit & Rapeseed oils, Murmuru seed butter, Frankincense resin oil, Sweet Orange Peel extract and Lavender oil.

There are a few ways you can use this hair conditioner. Apply it to wet hair in the shower, let it work its magic on the hair shaft for a few minutes, encouraged by the water heat and then thoroughly rinse it off. You can apply it to towel-dry hair post shower or bath, from mid-length downwards, comb through and then leave it to work. Or you apply it to damp hair from roots to ends, comb through, so it’s evenly distributed and let it be.

When I used it as a leave-in treatment after the shower, the next day my hair looked glossier, but I thought that it was the effect of my recent highlights being done professionally and thus my hair settling into the new colour. I continued using the conditioner in the same way, every few days, after washing my hair and indeed noticed that “well-cared” state. Don’t get me wrong, I look after my hair and my scalp, I use nice leave in or wash off conditioners on a regular basis, but in this instance the effect was noticeable and pleasingly so.

As I was writing and editing the post, I shared that feedback with Anda and was intrigued to read her reply, saying that she finds that “it absolutely makes my hair both shinier and softer from the first application. I am Egyptian with fine curly hair, so it’s difficult to find a leave-in conditioner that isn’t too heavy (like all the ones targeting curly hair), or too light (where my hair feels like it needs more ‘slip’). I use it after every wash, which is every other day or so.” She also suggested that next time I travelled or went to the beach, I “add twice the normal amount from your mid-lengths to ends to protect the hair from the sun and sea/pool.” Anda added that sometimes she leaves it on as a hair mask on dry unwashed hair and then washes it off a few hours later, as “it’s great for locking in moisture, without making your hair look greasy.” Even though haircare is a quickly growing segment, it’s still more unusual than not to find the hair conditioner with an unobtrusive scent, which also has a visible positive effect on the hair without making it greasy, weighted down or limp within hours of washing.

June Newness: something for the eyes – PEEP Club Eye Wand, £60 

June Newness for the eyes – something to focus on

A few years ago I went for a routine, yearly eye check and when I was done and got the all clear, the optometrist suddenly got serious and asked if I use a warm mask on my eyes. I blinked at a strange question and replied that no, I didn’t, wondering why she asked me about that. Was it the state of my eyelids that she was referring to? The optometrist explained that underneath our lids, there are tiny meibomian ducts or rather glands that can get blocked. In order to have healthy eyes, warm masks or a washcloth should be placed over the eyelids on a regular basis in order to help loosen the oil. Doing this can help those ducts stay clear, make sure you avoid dry eye syndrome and thus improve the health of your eyes. The advice sunk in, but I can’t honestly say that I regularly put it to good use. I wasn’t proud of this and the advice lingered…..until I saw a mention of PEEP Club Eye Wand on Victoria Health. Call it serendipity, but that wand had to be tried in the name of research !

gentle vibration & LED light technology

Considering how much time we all spend reading things onscreen – be it on our mobile or computer screens – more people are noticing that their eyes are becoming more sensitive, as well as dry. Post pandemic even children are noticing the changes in their eyesight, saying that spending more time on-screen is starting to hurt their eyes. As a consequence and a potential solution to counteract the negative impact by blue light that screens emit, many parents now buy special clear lense glasses for the children to wear at school, watching television or when playing or using on their screen gadget.

Blue light is mentioned more and more often when skincare and ageing is being discussed, but not regularly enough when it comes to the health of our eyes. Being ten times thinner than the rest of the face, our eye area is first to flag screen-related damage and our actual eyes, including retinas, can be negatively impacted with regular, long-term use.

Peep Club Eye Wand – rehydrate & revitalise dry & tired eyes

According to Nicola Alexander-Cross, optometrist & co-founder of Peep Clubdry eyes have long-affected millions of women, especially those in peri-menopause and menopause, as it’s linked to hormonal changes, but it also now affects millions of younger women and men, as a result of increased screen- use“. The brand did its own research with the help of 250 people and the survey revealed that 80% were suffering from dry eye condition, which only gets worse if left untreated.

You might think that eye drops or face mist might be the solution, but unfortunately the solution to this particular problem is not as easy as that. “Dry Eyes encompasses everything from mild irritation (itchiness, a tired and heavy feeling, or overly watery eyes) to severe and even sight threatening issues” says Nicola. Why are screens to blame? Simply put, “you blink 6-8x less when you look at a screen, so your eyes are literally becoming parched, as you work all day long,” Nicola explains. A concerning thought, considering that screen use has increased by 187% over the period of UK lockdowns alone!

USB charger for once a week wand charging

What are our options to prevent and treat Dry Eyes in the longer run? Well, less scrolling of course or time spent online or heated eye masks, which – unless you have a pocket microwave to hand – are more arduous than ace. I have one from Clinique that has been lingering in my fridge for years – I kidd you not, but as I mentioned above, I hardly ever use it. So what about a light, chic, high-tech, infrared-powered, handbag-friendly massaging tool that Nicola and her friend, Natasha (another Peep Club co-founder) launched after thorough research and testing?

Designed to relieve dry, tired, irritated eyes by stimulating natural hydration, Peep Club’s Eye Wand is the desk-side device that is as practical, as it is pleasing 7 relaxing to use. How does it work? Unlike heated eye masks, the Eye Wand warms up to 45C in under a minute and retains that optimal temperature for as long as you need. The combination of heat and massage then works to gently stimulate and unblock the tiny glands responsible for hydrating your eyes. “It’s like a hot stone massage for the eyes,” says Natasha, who herself has suffered from on screen-induced dry eyes.

massage & lymphatic drainage in all but 5 minutes flat

But you don’t have to suffer from dry eyes in order to use this clever gadget. Boosted with circulation-encouraging and lymphatic drainage functions, the device also helps to de-puff both under and upper eyelids. It also promotes enhancing collagen and elastin production (that slows down as we age) thanks to red light LED therapy. As Natasha puts it, the Eye Wand is “a treat, not just a treatment for dry eyes” & I can’t but heartily agree with her, after using the Eye Wand several times a week for the past few weeks.

So how do you use this Eye Wand? Charge it, take your contact lenses out (if you wear them, never use this Wand with your contacts in your eyes!) and apply your usual eye cream or balm to the eye area. Turn the wand on and allow 60 seconds for it to heat up. Then very gently run the silver metal head along your lower eyelid (just underneath the lower lash line) for one minute. Repeat on your upper eyelid (above your upper lashes) for 1-5 minutes. If you are ‘treating’ the dry eyes, you only need 2/3 of the wand modes: set the heat on 37C and massage. Turn the red LED light off during this type of ‘treatment’. Remember to start initial use with the temperature of 37C and only increase the temperature up, if comfortable for you, after the minimum of three initial uses at this temperature. Also remember to run the wand from the inner corner of your eye outwards. The booklet that accompanies the Eye Wand has clear illustrations to help you use it correctly .)

June newness – eye care & light, may yours shine bright

If you need to treat fine lines and puffiness around the eye area, then turn all three modes on: heat, massage and red LED light. Unlike the dry eye treatment, which is done on both your upper & lower eyelids, this treatment is done only on your lower eye area and the side of your eyes. While the dry eye treatment is done close to your lower lashes, this treatment is done further away from your eye – 1-2cm BELOW your lashes. You just need to slowly move the wand from the inner to the outer corner of the eye for up to five minutes.

I have a healthy does of scepticism when it comes to beauty gadgets, as I know that sadly too many of them end up gathering dust after the initial vigour of using them. Not in this case – I find the Eye Wand both beneficial to my eyes (they feel less tired since I started using this wand), as well as meditative in its calming for the mind and soothing for the delicate eye area skin effect. You can use it after you come home after a tiring day or in the evening, as part of your evening winding down. It will not only help your look after your eyes and eye area more effectively, but it will bring some extra zen into your life on any given day. A case of very useful technological advances for the benefit of consumers coupled with optolpomologist’s practical experience

June Newness in Music: Harry’s House by Harry Styles

June Newness in music form

Unlike teen girls, I don’t gush over musician and style icon Harry Styles. Instead I appreciate a talented and multilayered musician that he is. Harry is a rare breed of a young multi-faceted creative, who after the stratospheric success of a boy band One Direction, continued his musical evolution, instead of resting on his well-deserved achievement laurels. He experiments with different musical styles, self expression and dives head on when it comes to interesting projects on screen, in fashion and now beauty (with his nail polish brand PLEASING) as well.

Before Harry’s House was launched, I happened to watch a video of The Late Night Show and James Corden filming a mock, US$300 video for one of Harry’s new songs “Daylight” in New York. It was as funny, as it was original and the song almost instantly got stuck in my brain like a popcorn kernel between the teeth – so much so that I downloaded it on my phone within an hour of watching that video. Since then four more songs from the album made its way into my iTunes library and I often listen to them on the loop. There is something very refreshing about Harry’s upbeat music & his soothing, melodic, nuanced voice that reminds me of the 80s European pop music and creates a temporary sense of lightness of being & simple, child-like joy.

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