No matter how long I have been writing about beauty & wellbeing, I never get jaded about products, brands and people that I get to know or learn about. At this stage I can fairly quickly (and in
Unscrew the lid, close your eyes & take a few deep, slow breaths, inhaling the indulgently flowery, uplifting scent that brings an almost instant feeling of calm & comfort. Open your eyes & continuing to take deep breaths, dip your finger into the smooth surface of the balm (and feel the satisfaction, as it sinks into a rich texture, releasing its aroma even more).
Amanda developed this balm over months, testing & refining it tirelessly, trying to create a product that will nurture not just your skin, but your soul as well. Several moons ago, when I visited Amanda in her studio in Lewes, well before she opened her beautiful store, I showed her a multipurpose balm that I use for healing the skin. I stock up on it in Moscow during my visits, as I came to rely on it due to its multiple purpose use, but it has a big minus, as its texture becomes too runny when it is warm, which led to quite a few accidents during my travels in the past. A lovely, but in someways imperfect product (and not 100% natural), which clearly gave Amanda some food for thought & the end result of her creative process continues to blow me away with its nurturing loveliness. As I was writing this post & exchanging e-mails with Amanda, it was important for me to incorporate her wise & creative voice into the conversation about this product, as noone understands the process behind its birth better than she does.
‘I also find ridiculous pleasure in opening the new pot and pressing my finger hard onto the surface, feeling it give way to reveal the soft buttery interior…’
The beauty of life stems from the unknown that we face from the moment we are born – what’s going to happen, who is going to shape us up as people and members of society, what trials and
In early February I took a train to Lewes, where Amanda Saurin, founder and creator of AS Apothecary lives. After several awe-inspiring hours in Amanda’s company ( more of this soon in a separate post ! ), Amanda indulged me in her new product set, called Complete Box of Cleansing, as my parting gift, which I took home with a childishly excited grin on my face. Having said that, I held off using the kit until later that month, when flowers started blooming and I felt ready to change my skincare ritual and indulge my skin and the senses.
The design of the box itself reminded me of Japanese tea art form and precision. Precision of lines of this A4-sized black box doesn’t shout ‘pick me up’, rather it whispers gently, like the spring wind ‘come and have a look at what I hide inside’. Amanda is a very unique creative woman, who grows and gathers plants and uses her vast apothecary skills, fusing herbs and knowledge of homeopathy to create effective, gentle, bespoke products that nurture your skin and calm your mind, opening your eyes to the magic and wonder of nature.
‘An appreciation of the transformative nature of scent, of the rhythm of plants, of their terroir, of landscape and the inner-connectedness of us all, are pivotal
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
Biting of the nails deserves a separate post, but from personal experience I can recommend telling your child ( if they already lost their milk teeth ) that if they continue to bite their nails, they can break the tooth and a new one won’t grow in its place. It is a true fact, as I actually know someone to whom this happened at a ‘grand’ age of thirty and required a lengthy and expensive rental work to fix the problem, as the woman in question had no desire to look like a Russian hockey player Alexander Ovechkin.
When one of my kids started getting burrs, we first addressed the issue of biting the nails – sadly we can’t control the habits or traits kids pick up from their friends at school or nursery, but we can try to influence the change in the right direction. My second course of action was to start moisturising the hands better, using Childs Farm hand & body lotion that most kids love using & that gets quickly absorbed, without leaving any residue behind.
Last, but not least, I was also quite lucky to talk to Amanda Saurin, founder of A.S Apothecary and an incredibly knowledgable plant grower, homeopath, distiller – the list of her skills is endless, but you get the idea .) Amanda kindly made us a cute apothecary pot of the balm for the naughty hands. The smell alone is soothing and calming and it is a good incentive to encourage girls to nurture their nails with it, rather than start using nail polishes from a very young age. Amanda blended the following ingredients when making the personalised burr balm: shea butter, her own bees-wax from the garden, rosehip, calendula, arnica, plantago, hypericum & stellaria. If we didn’t have the time to apply the balm to the nails and the areas around it, where burrs occurred, in the morning, I made sure we did it with every finger at bedtime ( we also got into the habit of applying it to nails on the toes ). Initially we did it daily, then, as the skin started healing, we switched to every other or every two or three days. This process becomes part of the bedtime routine & creates a lovely habit of looking after one’s hands and nails, making both healthier and softer. When you do it on a regular basis, burrs actually retreat, much to the delight of a child, who thinks that they did good.
In addition I would recommend upping your child’s fatty acids intake in their diet, as they will definitely contribute to stronger nails and help improve dry skin. Hemp seed oil is a good supplements but I prefer Bare Biology Super hero fish oil, which kids actually enjoy taking voluntarily, with no prompting on my part.
Two months on, there are no burrs and we have a lovely habit of giving each other quick hand and nail massages, pretending to have natural treatments before bedtime. It is a joyful bonding experience, a chance to instill good habits in your child and to make sure your kid’s hands stay infection-free, as burrs can lead to significant inflammation. I say prevention is key and hope you will agree with me.
Standing out in the Atlantic, on the far northwestern edge of Scotland, Isle of Harris is a breath-taking place that needs to be visited to be believed, according to Amanda. The distillery itself was born out of the desire to combine island’s natural resources and beauty and residents skills in order to address economic problems that a small place like this can experience. The Tarbert Ten, a group of ten locals who form the foundation of the team that is tasked with the responsibilities of the day-to-day running of the Harris distillery, combine lots of interesting skill sets, from an engineering background to hotel hospitality business to a bagpiper.
The way Amanda’s career has evolved is an interesting one, deserving a separate, long article, but let me just say here that she doesn’t approach people but rather people approach her and she dives into the chosen projects with an enthusiasm of a child.
”Our collaboration is a meeting of minds and shared values, a love of this island and a fascination for the art of distillation”.
‘Val’, Amanda’s 200 litre Alembic Still, is made from hand-beaten copper providing an ancient method for producing quality essential oils and richly scented aromatic waters, so for the Isle of Harris range, Amanda and the team gathered flowers, leaves, roots, seaweed and moss together, taking a journey into Hebridean mountain, shore and sea. It was also an educational journey for the locals, as they weren’t aware of some of the plants local to the island growing there in the first place. The end result, according to Alex, one of the distillery’s team members, is that ‘Amanda has done a beautiful job of capturing the essence of Harris in the products range – a hidden gem of a place, where the pace of life is slightly different.”
The Isle of Harris offers Thyme, Meadowsweet, Ladies Bedstraw, Heather and many other wind-hardy plants that might be small in size, but resilient by nature and full of aromatic intensity. They also have Sugar Kelp, a seaweed that needs to be dived for and distilled into an Aromatic Water, which will help to bring a coastal flavour to the Isle of Harris Distillery Gin. The most important thing to consider before purchasing one or several of the Apothecary products is that a combination of beautiful oils and plant extracts gives it a subtle, nurturing influence, which not that many of modern beauty products can offer.
Amanda deliberately created a small Apothecary range for Harris Distillery, comprising of only seven products, namely:
– Sweet Gale & Thyme Candle,
– Heather & Thyme Shaving Balm,