I won’t pretend to be simplistic in my skincare rituals, but I certainly am mindful when it comes to my skin, body and haircare product selection. With more and more beauty brands and products being launched, I tend to be even tighter in my personal edit ( hence only three products in my March beauty trials ) and respectfully say ‘no’ to brands whose products don’t peak my curiosity. My job is to spotlight innovation and interesting new launches, rather than to actively bombard you with purchasing suggestions.
This small, UK-based brand was started by a mother & daughter team. Grace, the daughter in the duo, started this brand while she was at university and it’s been growing steadily ever since. The aim is to be a small, organic brand with a ‘kitchen table’ feel for the customer. Grace juggles online responsibilities for the brand alongside her main job in the beauty industry, while her lovely mother Jeanette focuses on the ‘day-to-day’ responsibilities of running a brand – she was the one who packed and posted this charming new launch to me this month.
The balm comes in a simple glass jar with an aluminium lid and even thought it is slightly bigger than your ‘average’ lip balm jar, it’s still a convenient size for those who like to carry theirs in the make-up bag.
It comes in two shades – a ‘Natural’ that I have chosen to test, and a tinted version ‘Barely Peony’ pink. The formulation itself is vegan and promises to ‘minimise fine lines, moisturise, treat dryness and heal’. According to Grace, the balm was crafted to ‘deeply hydrate and condition the lip area’ and it’s definitely more of a treatment lip product than your average lip balm.
My first impression was that the balm was a little ‘looser’ than I expected, however after using the balm regularly I can only add that it is meant solely as a compliment! However in hotter months of the year I would certainly recommend that you keep it in the fridge, in order for it to be a bit more ‘solid’, without impacting the quality or effect. The balm softens the lips and feels very nourishing as soon as you apply it – Grace half-jokingly describes it as a “massive moisture hit’!
You only need a small amount to achieve ample ‘coverage’ – whether your lips are thin or naturally big and plump. I probably would have preferred a hint of peppermint, rather than a neutral taste, but that is a personal preference and something that the brand has taken on-board for the future. Your lips will definitely feel and look more nourished, especially when we all continue to wear our face masks and it continues to negatively impact our skin. The balm acts as a perfect base, if you want to apply lipstick on top.
There are two other additional ‘bonuses’: the ‘natural’ shade of this balm looks like a hot dessert sun in the jar and it is suitable for use by young children – I can also see its appeal to the teen girls and have shared mine with my daughter. A case of a simple, yet effective formulation and pleasure for the user.
Ingredients: Jojoba wax, Castor Oil, Calendula Oil, Sea Buckthorn oil, Olus oil, Hemp oil, Organic Rosehip oil, Apricot oil, Organic Shea Butter, Vitamin E, Mica
This past year has changed the perception of face mask most of us had – we used to talk about them as part of our beauty arsenals, now we mention them as a means to protect ourselves from picking up the virus. Yet wearing masks on our faces – be it polyester, medical-grade, cotton or silk – has its downfall in the negative impact they have on our complexion. Not surprisingly, unlike make-up, beauty face masks have only grown in popularity during the pandemic.
Generally I prefer ‘pre-made’ creamy masks to ‘powdered’ ones for practical reasons. I tentatively mentioned it to Yelena, founder of the British green beauty brand Lena Wild. But Lena clearly knows way more about her products and their efficacy than I do, so she charmingly sent me a sample to try. After the first use I was intrigued, after the second – converted. Now her Harmony Rescue Mask has joined Bodhi & Birch Renshen Root mask in the ‘exceptional’ category when it comes to the powdered masks I actually thoroughly enjoy using – even if I have to wash the sink after .)
Yelena is undoubtedly proud of this creation of hers and it remains one of the consistent best-sellers for the brand. It is also a ‘true hero’ according to Lena when it comes to packaging waste, as she was able to pack it ‘wholly’ in the glass jar, which let’s be honest, remains quite a challenge when it comes to cosmetic packaging. The glass jar is so beautifully quaint it’s no wonder customers tend to re-use it, rather than simply recycle – I plan to put flower stems into mine, when I run out of this particular mask. Or just keep it in its presteen form on a bathroom shelf – it reminds me of old-style apothecaries and the potions and lotions such bottles contained when displayed on the shelves in the cabinets behind the till. When it comes to Harmony packaging range, it is made entirely of cotton fibres, a byproduct of textile industry, which is 100% Tree Free.
Now, to the mask itself. It is a beautiful shade of mellow green that reminds me of the 1000 Irish shades of green. It is very fine-powdered and gentle and comes to your skin’s rescue in good times and bad. The mask will help to remineralise the skin by utilising the synergy of White & Green Clay, Matcha tea and Willow Bark. Its calming scent owes its pleasure to Yarrow and Lavender and acts as a gentle reminder to pause and savour the time.
I think of Japanese artisans every time I mix this mask with water using Bodhi & Birch brush and bowl, observing the vivid colour transformation – you get gradients from darker moss green to spring-like greens and that in itself adds an element of Zen to the masking – by the end you are left with a tranquil mind and a happier and more serene complexion. You can also use this mask as a targeted spot treatment or a gentle weekly facial exfoliator.
An element that I find even more enticing is the sensuality that the skin experiences once you apply the mask and it starts to gain momentum and cool your complexion. You might start masking as a hot-head, but you end up feeling like a cool, calm and collected Ice Queen – yes you do!
Ingredients: Illite (Green Clay), Oryza Sativa (Rice) Powder◊, Kaolin (White Clay), Camellia Sinensis (Matcha Green Tea) Leaf Extract◊, Salix Alba (White Willow)Bark Powder◊, Myrciaria Dubia (Camu Camu) Fruit Extract◊, Chlorella Vulgaris (Green Algae) Powder◊, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) Oil∆, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil◊∆, Limonene*, Linalool* – ◊ Ingredient from organic farming; ∆ Wildcrafted ingredient; * Naturally occurring in essential oils
Odacite somehow manages to peak my curiosity with it’s launches because the products tend to be ‘beauty keepers’, rather than the “one-time wonders”. The latest paunch, Montana Harvest Omega Oil Cleanser, is made with hemp & sea buckthorn that effectively cleanse away makeup, excess sebum, pollution and sunscreen (don’t forget to wear it daily, protecting skin from the long-term cell damage).
The story of how this oil came into existence is an interesting one. Valerie, founder of Odacite, met a farmer from Montana during a conference in New York and was intrigued by his determination to farm organically. So the name of this cleanser pays homage to the harvested (especially for Odacite) hemp & safflower seeds that are grown on that particular, one of the first organic farms in Montana.
- Sea Buckthorn – Studies show that Sea Buckthorn Oil contains approx 190 bioactive substances that support skin’s health. It is also known to help acne-prone skin, as well as breakouts.
- Hemp and Safflower – Seeds are carefully harvested and freshly cold-pressed on demand for Odacite, producing oils that is rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids.
Pump the oil into your hand and massage it all over your face into dry skin for about 30 seconds, then wet the fingers with water and spread across the skin, creating a silky emulsion and rinse off with warm water. You will be left with a soft and relaxed complexion that is receptive for the next steps in your skincare routine.
A particular pleasure can be found in the scent of this cleansing oil – Sweet Basil and Lemongrass blend lends a delightful aroma that makes you feel as if you are having a pleasurable facial experience – something many of us long to have in the actual spas that for now remain out of bounds. This oil is also easy to remove with just warm water and no residue is left behind – a testament to the quality of the ingredients that are combined in this synergistic cleanser that works for all skin types. The oil binds impurities on skin’s surface and helps remove them effectively, without stripping the skin of its own natural oils, making it a really good evening cleanser, especially if you live in the city.
Ingredients: Carthamus Tinctorius [Safflower*] Oil, Cannabis sativa [Hemp*] Seed Oil, Olive Squalene, Di-PPG-2 Myreth-10 Adipate, Olea europaea [Olive*] Oil, Glycerin, Hippophae Rhamnoides [sea buckthorn*] Oil, Avena Sativa [Oat ]Oil, Mixed Tocopherols [Vitamin E], Rosmarinus Officinalis [Rosemary*] Antioxidant, Cymbopogon Flexuosus [Lemongrass*] Essential Oil, Ocimum Basilicum [Sweet Basil*] Essential Oil, Citral, Eugenol, Geraniol. Citronellol, Limonene, Linalool