Spring has arrived somewhat unexpectedly this year and in the same way it’s now seemingly is coming to an end, while we walk around in various degrees of undress. Some still in coats, others in tank tops and barely there shorts. Clothes and time passing aside, I have experimented with a lighter moisturiser, a supplement that’s supposed to re-energise and help with hay fever, as well as some new launches and an old favourite from the original brand pioneering natural beauty and championing the health of the soil. Oh, and there is some bodycare from the sunny California. Welcome to May Newness!
Supplements: Earth’s Secret “Thrive”, five ingredients, 60 capsules, £35
According to Earth’s Secret “we cannot get all the super nutrients we need from our food alone 7 that’s why we createdTHRIVE as the optimum everyday Energy & Health supplement to enhance our health and create energy in all aspects of our life”. I tend to ‘test’ supplements on their own, meaning I don’t take any other supplement during the time of testing in order to ascertain whether I feel any different.
THRIVE contains Hydrocurc Turmeric, Organic Spirulina, Ginger Root and Reishi Mushroom, as well as Black Sambucus Elderberry. This combination of ingredients promises to “optimise performance, energise the body, promote healthy immunity and resilience, as well as aid muscle recovery and enhance digestive health. Turmeric has been used in Asian cuisine for centuries, but it’s only in the last few years that it has become quite ‘visible’ and celebrated in the West not only for its beautiful, vivid orangey-yellow colour, but for the multitude of benefits for the body, notably its potent antioxidant properties. In this instance Ginger Root was added to enhance the absorption of the turmeric on the cellular level.
Reishi Mushrooms has been used for centuries, in food and in tonics, as well as powder form because of its potency in enhancing the normal function of the immune system, while Spirulina that doesn’t taste particularly delicicious on its own, is full of vitamins, minerals and a particular phytonutrient “phycocyanin” that is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Reishi mushroom, sometimes called the ‘King of Mushrooms’ has been used for thousands of years as a restorative tonic. It contains over 400 bioactive compounds, including triterpenoids and polysaccharides, which have a number of medicinal effects.
- Reishi is commonly used by athletes, due to its performance-enhancing properties, helping to boost resilience and physical endurance.
- Taking Reishi Mushroom regularly has been proven in multiple scientific studies to help reduce fatigue and improve wellbeing
- Spirulina, known as ‘Nature’s Multi-Vitamin’ is a naturally occurring algae that is full of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, Beta carotene, Protein and Iron, as well as Omega 6 and 9.
- Spirulina has served mankind for hundreds of years, it is a primordial algae that was consumed by the ancient Aztecs.
- It’s been proven to help fight hayfever symptoms. In one study of 127 people with allergic rhinitis, daily consumption of Spirulina dramatically reduced symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching.
Simplicity of formulation, in the same way as in preparing food, often speaks highly of the skill of the person who creates or cooks it. Taking potent ingredients on its own is one thing, combining them in perfect synergy is where the secret of the efficacy lies. It also makes it easier for the consumer – in terms of reading the ingredient list, as well as researching particular insights into each ingredient, rather than being daunted by the list that is as long as your arm. Who has time for that really?
Another nutrient worthy of notice is the Elderberry, which is often used in cough and throat sprays and syrups due to it being high in flavonoid-rich compounds that help protect the cells. This is the ingredient that is often recommended by nutritionists even for small children during the cold months of the year and in my experience and in my personal experience it does help to get over a cold quicker.
Having taken this supplement for a month – on its own in the morning with a small glass of water or adding two capsules to the juice or smoothie – I can’t say that I noticed anything different about how I felt. But during this time I haven’t been down with a cold and have started exercising more intensely, after taking it a little easier during the school holiday. And unlike juniors I haven’t needed to take baths with Epsom bath salts and magnesium flakes, so maybe the benefit is there, subtly unseen.
Skincare for thirsty skin: Votary Nutrient Cream Light, 50ml
Votary is one of those skincare brands that not only resonates with different generations – from teens with blemish prone skin to quite mature women – but engages in an interesting dialogue with individual customers. The power of messaging when it comes to skincare has become a true forte of the marketers and influencers, but in Votary’s case the brand and its team don’t shout in order to stand out. They communicate clearly and are always helpful when it comes to answering any questions when it comes to their products. A gold standard of customer service that more beauty brands should take on board – whisper softly about your wisdom, rather than imply that your products are god’s gift to us.
I am a fan of Super Seed Nutrient Cream and use it in the colder months of the year, when I feel my skin needs some extra hydrating care. I do switch and adjust my skincare routine between seasons, taking into account both my individual skincare needs, as well as the effect of the temperature. This super light cream is inspired by the original formula, but was tweaked knowledgably in order to provide light, but effective hydration, particularly when it comes to dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin types.
With a unique delicate texture that allows the cream to sink in very quickly (and with no fragrance) the cream soothes and cools the skin, which is particularly welcome in hotter months of the year. A bespoke blend of 21 super seed oils in combination with plant oleosomes and hyaluronic acid, the cream delivers seemingly intense, but long-lasting hydration, alongside a boost of Omega goodness. You will also find phytoceramides in this cream’s INCI list that will help protect skin’s external barrier from environmental aggressors. Expect to see a difference in moisture levels and plumpness.
There is also an interesting ingredient called Collamung. It is a powerful antioxidant that helps push back against the negative impact of UV stress, nourishing the skin and strengthening its epidermal barrier at the same time. I appreciate any brand that clearly explains its products and ingredients, making the user feel like a science professor afterwards. I have used this cream in the mornings, applying it straight after cleansing my face and it created a perfect canvas for make-up application. I also noted that my skin did indeed feel adequately moisturised throughout the day, even on days when my water consumption was below what it should be ideally. Hydration is very important to our overall health and energy levels, so do keep and eye on yours in order to prevent the stress for your body cells, but this cream is indeed a wonderful addition to Votary range and is perfectly suited for using it in the springtime.
If we pay attention to the signals that our skin sends and address them timely in the right way, our skin will not only feel better, but look better. And when we look better, we gain confidence in our own abilities. Something that I feel very strongly about and one of the reasons why I spotlight Votary to your attention.
California bodycare: Lovesong Beauty Nectarous Body Cream, 227g, $34
One of the things that pandemic has reinforced for many of us is the importance of touch to our inner wellbeing. And what better way to practise self love than the application of the nurturing and nourishing product to our biggest organic – skin. California-based Lovesong Beauty focusses on natural haircare, but Emily Bowman, brand’s founder, also added a Nectarous Body Cream to her range in order to help moisturise the skin and add a subtle, healthy glow to it.
Fragrant extracts of rare Rose de Mai and sensually sexy Jasmine are mixed with Vanilla Planifolia and Vanilla tahitensis create a synergistic scent that will open your heart & make you feel more at easy with your inner core. Formulated with plant extracts & emollient oils, notably Coconut, Evening Primrose Oil, Jojoba & Calendula this lightweight body cream provides antioxidant protection, as well as hydration, while improving skin texture and elasticity. It has an almost gel-like texture with invisible bounce and once you apply and lightly massage it into the skin, it sinks in without a trace. The cream has a heady, dense scent with notes of Coconut, Jojoba, Marigold, Rose de Pai, Jasmine and Vanilla. Once you apply it all over the body, the scent lingers, then settles in, enveloping you in a comforting feeling – making the skin feel both well moisturised, as well as a little firmer to the touch.
Weleda Newness: Shower Bar & Relaxing Oral Drops
WELEDA is a brand that is very special in a multitude of ways, but at its core lies the celebration of nature and its cycles. Over the course of centuries mankind has been moving not towards the nature, but against it in the ways that is harmful to both sides. Luckily for the last 100 Weleda’s team has been acting as a helpful guide to those who are interested in being in touch with nature, even when living in a big city.
Weleda’s products are the ones that I often reach out for in times of stress, sadness or turmoil, or when I need to balance myself or my family towards calmer emotional shores.
Relaxing Lavender Milk (calming & balancing) 200ml
An old favourite of mine, this calming bath milk was very thoughtfully sent to me recently by a member of Weleda’s team. As soon as I lift the green glass bottle out of it’s paper packaging, I can’t help but relax a little by looking at the vivid colour ways of the glass bottle and label. The scent of lavender almost instantly relaxing the muscles, even before I dip the toes in bath water.
Weleda has partnered with Moldovan lavender farmers in 2005 (Moldovan dry climate and fertile soil have supported the cultivation of lavender on a significant scale for centuries). For every 100 kilos of lavender flowers only one kilo of oil is extracted.
Lavender flowers contain essential oils that are used in over 50 of Weleda’s products, compounds of which not only are scientifically proven to have a soothing effect on the central nervous system, but also aiding relaxation, promoting healthier sleep patterns and assisting the body to deal with tension, muscle cramps, circulation and digestion. Running a bath with this milk after a particularly stressful day is one of those things that not only helps the body to relax and the mind to feel more at ease, it also acts as something to be grateful for. Another benefit of this bath milk is that it leaves the skin gently scented with lavender and soft to the touch, without the need to hydrate the skin with a body balm or moisturiser.
A long soak (20 minutes) in this bath milk is an wonderful home therapy, perfectly suited for mental exhaustion, over-stimulated senses or restlessness. This Bath Milk is equally effective for adults, as well as children – I believe that teaching children about the benefits of herbs, plants and flowers from the young age is something that will continuously serve them well in the future. In case of Lavender, it helps to gently but very effectively sooth the body, so all you need to do afterwards is turn the lights off and settle into the comfort of your bed in the darkness. And there is no need to wash your bath tub after having this lavender bath either .)
May Newness: Solid Body Wash Bar, 75g, four scents, £4.95
With ‘sustainability’ ringing menacingly in everyone’s ears, more and more brands are consciously working on and implementing reduction in packaging waste. Weleda’s newest launch, Shower Bar, goes further – not only cuts down on plastic waste, but saves water in the formulation – a concentrated formula of this product lasts, according to Weleda, the equivalent of two 150ml washes. Each of the four Shower Bars – choose from ‘Ginger & Petitgrain‘ (invigorate & revive, perfect for a morning shower), ‘Ylang Ylang & Iris’ ( harmonising & balancing ), Lavender & Vetiver ( soothing & relaxing, perfect for nighttime ) & ‘Geranium & Litsea Cubeba’ ( uplifting & mood boosting ).
Shower bars, like face and hair solid bars, might have multiple sustainability angles, but many of such bars, like the original Clinique face bar, tend to either make the skin feel dry, meaning the PH balance of the skin has been disrupted, or go ‘soggy’ and uncomfortable for further use. With this in mind, I was curious about testing Weleda Lavender & Vetiver Shower Bar. With several uses I quickly discovered several things:
- very creamy lathering & the sense of indulgence from something seemingly so simple
- easily rinsed, without stripping the skin
- doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the skin that some soaps bars do
- cleanses & nourishes the skin
- moisturises the skin with pure, not artificial, essential oils, as well as Shea butter & plant-based glycerin
- fragrance expertly composed by Weleda’s in-house perfumers.
- Natural fragrances are either distilled or extracted from fruit, flowers, leaves, bark & roots. When you start lathering the bar, the fragrance comes ‘alive’, activated by warm water & adds a dreamy element to your shower, akin to travels of the mind to a favourite or planned travel destination, depending of fragrance notes. This bar makes me go to Province, picturing abundant lavender fields as far as the eye can see.
- organic Shea butter is sourced from Weleda suppliers in Western Africa, where nutrient-rich shea nuts ripen in intense sunshine, harnessing the sunny power in their buttery goodness for the skin.
I truly surprised myself by how much I actually enjoy using this shower bar. It can also be easily packed for a weekend or a longer getaway, not taking much space in your bag or suitcase, as well as guaranteeing there will be no messy spills when you arrive at your destination. It’s handy if you children travel to competitions or sports/summer camps, as you can be sure that they will keep their hands and body clean, without upsetting skin’s natural PH-balance. And really, an effective, 100% plant-based, naturally fragranced, biodegradable, Natrue-certified shower bar – what’s NOT to like in this evolution of a practical daily bodycare product that makes your skin and your senses feel indulged?
Weleda Relaxing Oral Drops, 25ml, £10.50
Weleda, like Bach Remedies and the Organic Pharmacy, have been wonderfully effective when it comes to medicinal tinctures, particularly for those people, who want to look at alternative herbal or homeopathic remedies first. When it comes to Relaxing Oral drops, Weleda has re-launched this product under a license as a medicinal product. The drops were formulated in order to help address the temporary relief of mild symptoms associated with stress, as well as sleep disturbances. Previously this product was known as Avena Sativa Comp Drops, but brand’s customers found the name confusing in relation to product’s benefits. Those drops are a unique Weleda remedy in that it can be labelled a ‘natural medicine’, which combines both herbal ingredients and a gentle action attributed to homeopathy. Those drops can be particularly helpful on those days when you might struggle with switching off in order to relax.
“In pre-pandemic times an estimated 31% of UK adults (16 million people) were suffering from insomnia & 67% from sleepless nights, of which 74% were women. As many as 1 in 5 have trouble falling asleep every night. Among those who took active measures to help them sleep better, 39% preferred natural methods. And it’s not just adults who suffer from sleeping problems. but 55% of young people, aged 18-24. The global market for traditional sleep aids, such as herbal remedies & dietary supplements reached $1,3 billion in 2018 7 is expected to hit $1,5 billion in 2022.”Weleda press release
Relaxing Oral Drops contain mother tinctures of four traditional natural plant sedatives: Wild Oats (Avena Sativa), Passionflower (Passiflora Incarnata), Hops (Humulus Lupulus) & Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis), the latter well-known for its history in the treatment of nervousness and anxiety, as well as mild insomnia. Weleda grows these organic plants at its Demeter-certified Derbyshire herb gardens, where it insures quality, freshness and purity – and Weleda’s medicines manufacturing site is in close proximity, literally down the road from the herb gardens.
There is also a little intrigue distilled into those drops – a homeopathic potency of coffee, chosen based on the principle that like cures like. Absolutely minute doses of coffee are used to make a homeopathic remedy Coffee tosta. The aim? To nudge body’s own healing system into action as the idea is that coffee’s stimulating properties can be used to combat overstimulation of the nervous system.
Those drops are easy (and pleasant) to take – if you are feeling stressed during the day, take 15-20 drops in a small glass of water (or into your water bottle) three times daily; if you want to help with improving your sleep, then take 20-40 drops in a small glass of water about half an hour before your bedtime. When I take this tincture for stress, I tend to add 15 drops and 20 at bedtime for more restful sleep. What I truly appreciate when it comes to those drops is that they don’t make me drowsy, nor affect my concentration – something that I have experienced in the past with other herbal/natural remedies. Of course everyone’s experience is individual and what might work for me, might not have the same effect on you, but I believe in trying alternative (scientifically-based though) remedies first, when I have a niggling issue, before turning to a doctor for help. Stress, like disrupted sleep, always has underlying reasons, so if you experience either of them, acknowledge the issue and see if you can make lifestyle changes in order to help address the problem, as there are never magic pill for stress and sleep problems. But I did find those Drops effective for dealing with stress and will continue using them when needed to gently support my body in the natural way that it recognises and positively responds to ( NOTE: this product is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people under 18 years old or in combination with other medicines to help sleep or relieve anxiety).
May Newness in Art: Colin Fraser “Conjured memories” exhibition at Catto Gallery
Some of the paintings used as the background for the products featured in this post are by a talented British landscape artist Colin Fraser, who specialises in using egg tempera. A combination of powdered pigments mixed with egg yolk and water, egg tempera is a flexible medium, when applied little by little, patiently, with layer upon layer, but it does demand a meticulous approach by the artist, as you can’t improve at a later stage.
I first saw his striking work at Catto Gallery many years ago ( he has been represented by the gallery for 27 years) and the paintings continue to draw the eye with quiet reflection and inner beauty, as egg tempera creates a luminescent visual on the canvas that always draw the eye in and cures lips into a gentle smile. According to Colin, his paintings convey a series of moments “like pockets of time that have slowed down, but are still ongoing.” Drop by the gallery and immerse yourself into a beautifully mediative state – even if for a short while.
Last, but not least, a simple idea. This lemonade bottle pictured above so charmed one of my children, it was lovingly carried back in the backpack from our European travels and now acts as a single stem flower vase on the kitchen counter. So don’t discard glass bottles, or jam jars, or candle holders – give them a second life in your home and use them to display flowers, storing nuts or seeds or miscellaneous items. It will act as a pleasant positive reminder of the past and serve a practical purpose in the present. it’s the little things, rather than marketing tagline, that help us do better, feel better and act better. Until June Newness my friends and thank you for reading this post.