Since coming back from the summer holidays, where shopping wasn’t high on my agenda, I dived straight into online retail, but came back for air with mixed emotions. The question that I keep on
My first meeting with Helena Chapman & Maja Griffith, founders of the British natural brand Rosalena Skincare, happened during London Fashion week
As some of you might know, I write a lot on the subject of beauty. As part of my work I receive products from brands for testing, but I also buy many beauty products myself, accumulating too many products over time. Some are given as gifts, some I start using, but quickly realise that while they are lovely, they might not work for my skin. Lately I was looking at a large bag of beauty products and contemplating what to do with them – do I gift them? Do I donate them to a shelter? What’s the best way to share them, without taking advantage of brand’s generosity or making any undue profit for myself? After watching the news & thinking about life & loss, as I held my own kids hands tightly after the school run, I just knew that I want to do something with this beauty stash to help those people who suffered unimaginable loss – of family members & loved ones, of their homes, that were supposed to be their safe harbour and of the things that they held dear, like photos, favourite toys or simple things that we all use daily, yet take for granted but without which we feel a bit lost – toasters or kettles, a favourite armchair, a dress that makes us feel like a million dollars, a pebble from the beach, picked up during the holiday, a baby tooth or lock of hair, a favourite book…..
So here is my idea that I put forward for your consideration: below is the list of products that I have. All full-sized, most brand new, some gently (partially) used, but hygienic & not contaminated – each will have details next to its name, as well as the size. Here is what I want to do. If you want any of the products below, or several of them, please make a donation of at least £10 pounds for each product that you want directly to the JustGiving Fund for the residents of the Grenfell Tower – I attach the links to JustGiving Fundraising pages at the end of this post. In turn, I will send you the product or products, each valued at more than £10 pounds to your home address, if you are a UK, Scottish or Irish resident (lets discuss postage, if you want to order something to be sent to Europe, America, Canada, Asia or North Pole – I will be happy to find a solution that will be satisfactory to you), covering postage & packing myself. If I know you, please just let me know the amount of your donation, so I can keep a tally and will know how much our joint effort will raise for those people who desperately need it. If I don’t know you personally, please DM or e-mail me confirmation of your donation, as well as the address to which you want me to post the products and I will do it as soon as I can. Many people consider beauty superficial & I want to change that perception by raising funds for those people who really need them right now. At a time of loss, like many people, I want Grenfell Tower residents to know that they aren’t alone in this world & that they will be able to rebuild their lives in time.
Beauty Products List
Tropic Skincare Good Skin Day Serum, 30 mms, external packaging opened, internal untouched
Tropic Smoothing Cleanser, 120 ml, brand new
Kahina Giving Beauty Travel Basic Set, includes Facial Cleanser 30 ml, Argan Oil 30 ml, Facial Lotion 30 ml. Brand new
Acure Brightening Facial Scrub, 118 ml, new
Ren V-Cense Youth Vitality Day Cream, 50 ml, brand new
Nourish Argan Anti-Ageing Peptide Serum, 30 ml, brand new
Nourish Skin Renew Cleanser, 100 ml, brand new
Nourish Kale 3D Cleanse, 100 ml, brand new
Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C BB Cream SPF 20, shade: fair, 50 ml, used one one occasion only
Therapi Honey Skincare Rose Otto Propolis + Ultra radiance Cream, 50 ml, brand new
Bodhi & Birch Neroli Luce Revitalising Face Oil, 15 ml, brand new
Bodhi & Birch Body Oils Mini Collection (3 x 15 ml), brand new box set
Fresh Umbrian Clay Mattifying Face Exfoliant, 100 ml, brand new
Osmia Purely Simple Face Cream, 1,7oz, gently used
Balance Me Radiance Face Oil, brand new
Dr. Scheller Argan Oil & Amaranth Anti-Wrinkle Intensive serum, 30 ml, brand new
Skin Oil Beauty Drops, lavender, 30 ml, brand new
Skin Oil Beauty Drops, geranium, 30 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full
Melvita Natural Lift Youthful Skin Cream, 50ml, new
Mallow & White Sooth Face Mask, 30g, brand new
Antonia Burrell Radiant Light facial Oil Serum, 15ml, brand new
St. Ives Apricot Face Scrub, 30 ml, brand new
Max & Me Circle of Protection Body Oil, 10ml, brand new
de Mamiel Atmospherique Pure Calm Cleansing Dew, 100 ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full
Flow Kosmetikka Cloudberry Anti-Age Facial Serum, 20 ml, brand new
Philip Kingsley Elasticiser, 40 ml, brand new
Mun Akwi Purifying Cleanser, 100ml, gently used, more than 2/3 full
Nubo Bio-Regenerating Concentrate, 30 ml, brand new
Weleda Skin Food, 75 ml, brand new
Perricone MD Chia Serum, 30 ml, brand new
Lilfox Cleopatra Restorative Milk & Honey Beauty Mask, 1 oz, very gently used, more than 2/3 full
Laurel Facial Serum Sun Damage Repair, 30 ml, brand new
Once the product has been chosen by someone via their donation, I will put the line on it, so you know that it’s gone. Products will be send on the first come, first served basis.
Emma Cannon’s Total Fertility, lovingly used but in good condition
Goop Clean Beauty by the editors of Goop, gently used
Glop Goop Parody by Gabrielle Moss, gently used
Let’s get together & raise some money for those that really need the funds to start rebuilding their lives, while getting used to live with the loss or horrors that they endured. Beauty can be meaningless, if it doesn’t have a soul & I truly believe that together we are stronger in facing the future, even when it is uncertain. People who lived in that tower weren’t well-off and right now might feel that their lives didn’t matter to those whose actions, in some way, led to the unimaginable tragedy that happened in the middle of a summer night in London. There is a lot of anger, understandably & I sincerely hope that our joint effort will help in a small way to change things for the better, compared to what they are now.
As an additional incentive for you to donate, I promise that I will enclose some samples for you, alongside the product or book you want, while my stock of the samples lasts. I hope this initiative resonates with you & by our joint fundraising effort we hopefully will help give the residents of the Grenfell Tower to get the things that they need now or in the future, which they will be able to choose by having financial means to do so. I hope that my initiative will show the strength of our emotion & the feeling of love and affection that we are united by, no matter our sex, age, race or religion. Tragedies happen to good people and together we help each other survive the unimaginable horrors and sorrow that otherwise would break hearts completely. This tragedy tore at the fabric of London, like several terrorirism acts in the last few weeks – something that sadly more and more people around the world can relate to. Lets come together and shelter those who suffered from even bigger storms. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this and for hopefully donating to the cause that we can all relate to, while luckily hugging those that we dearly love together & saving our blessings.
One of the reasons why I started my website many moons ago was an opportunity to interview incredibly talented people many of who, for a variety of reasons, don’t get to be in a spotlight, yet
Vine Activ consists of four face products : Glow Activating Anti-wrinkle Serum, that is already garnering lots of positive feedback from beauty bloggers, Energising & Smoothing Eye Cream, 3-in-1 Moisturiser & Overnight Detox Oil. Caudalie’s newest patent contains four ingredients, namely Vitamins E & C, stabilised Grape Seed Polyphenol & Spruce Extract. I have been testing three of the products for the last month or so & below are my initial impressions.
Caudalie Vine (Activ) 3-in-1 Moisturiser, 40ml, £32: this light-textured moisturiser is perfect for the morning routine, as it limits the quantity of pollutants attaching themselves to your skin, as you work in the office or are doing things outside, be it in the garden, doing school runs or dashing between meetings. According to Mathilde Thomas, founder of Caudalie, the unique antioxidant complex will help to strengthen the skin barrier, in order for it to function better & slow down the ageing process. Star ingredients of this moisturiser are the Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamins E (derived from sunflower seeds) & C ester, which plump the skin & impart a natural glow to the skin.
I tend to apply the serum first and then follow it up with this moisturiser, which has a fresh smell and sinks quickly into the skin, making it feel well-moisturised. As winter is slowly giving way to spring, our skin looks pale and dull, so this moisturiser was a welcome addition to my morning routine, adding a little bit of a glow & making me feel more rested.
Caudalie Vine (Activ) Energising & Smoothing Eye Cream, 15ml, £27.50: not dissimilar in texture to the moisturiser, this eye cream was developed to smooth & re-energise the eye area, but can also be used around your lips. It evens out the eye texture, plumps the skin, making small wrinkles less noticeable.
The eye cream almost instantly improves dark circles upon application & does have a delicate smell, that is a bit different from the moisturiser. In terms of ingredients that need to be highlighted here there is Liquorice, that helps to decongest the delicate skin around the eyes, where capillaries are closer to the surface due to the thinner skin layer. Never underestimate the importance of correct eye massage when you apply the eye cream, as it can make a difference between making the problem worse or improving the micro-circulation and making your eyes look fresher. Grape polyphenols deliver antioxidant protection & help improve the appearance of wrinkles, while Vitamin C adds more antioxidants & brightens the eye area.
The brand was created by Dana Sagidullina & her creative journey is assisted by her husband, who is her business partner as well. Dana has been blending oils for about five years, since she became fascinated by the process while living with her family (she & her husband Vitalyi have three kids) in Singapore. Having returned to Moscow two years ago, Dana started creating blends for the kids, then progressed to blends for colds, body and aftersun care. She first tested the blends on her skin and then started using them on her family, as well as offering them to friends, learning from the feedback along the way.
One of the big problems that Dana encountered upon her return to Moscow was (and is still ) the lack of, as well as issues with, the sourcing of good quality oils. Most retailers and pharmacies sell predominantly synthetic ones, so Dana turned her gaze towards European producers & suppliers. Some agreed to ship directly to Russia, others did so through the intermediaries. At some stage Dana caught herself thinking about creating her own skincare brand of quality mono oils, but in time came to a decision to focus on the creation of blends based on her own recipes. Dana works intuitively and is basing her decisions on personal preferences, but her business is consciously a family one. Never underestimate a woman’s determination when she makes up her mind – by the end of last summer, as Dana and I exchanged e-mails, the vast bulk of preliminary work on her brand was done. Recipes were formulated, tested and perfected, suppliers chosen and designs finalised. Autumn was spent with the sharp focus on ingredient purchases and packaging, as well as placing the orders at the printers, which Dana admitted wasn’t as straight-forward as she would have desired.
At the same time Dana focussed on the website and instructions for users, which come both in Russian and English. While consumers in the West might take simple and precise product instructions for granted, in Russia this is something that deserves to be spotlighted, as natural and organic field is still sadly in its infant stages. Yes, natural & organic brands are being created and developed in Russia, with various degrees of success, but the potential for its growth is vast. Trust needs to be earned in any relationship and Russian consumer isn’t too trusting by nature, so Dana is determined to develop an open dialogue, as well as educating consumers about benefits of natural skincare. Dana truly believes that natural & organic cosmetics created from plant oils aren’t just useful, but can and do address a multitude of skin problems we all face daily, like ageing, stress, environmental aggressors, loss of moisture, pigmentation etc.
Why the name ‘Berezka Lab’? When I quizzed Dana about it, she said that it came to mind almost immediately when she started contemplating what to call her brand. Birch tree, lovingly called ‘Berezka’ in Russian, is associated with nature and purity, plus the tree is firmly ‘rooted’ in Russia. Dana formulates every product herself ( I will review two of BL initial launches ‘Cleansing Oil’ and ‘Green masque’ below, but this month Dana also launched day and night serums, that I hope to review later this year). For now ingredients are sourced from US and France and are USDA, Cosmos and Ecocert certified. Unfortunately, the only Russian aspects to the brand for now are the business base (Moscow), name and printers, but Dana honestly admits that the latter aren’t perfect, so she is exploring European-based options, as she isn’t the one to cut corners from incision of the brand. She is already in advanced stages of talks with the Russian-based retailers and I sincerely hope that in the not-so-distant future you will be able to buy Berezka Lab in Europe, US, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Africa and Asia.
Another thing that distinguishes the brand from the others in Russia. is that it is the only one that falls into the ‘lux’ segment of the natural & organic market place. Having tried the products, I can simply say that it deserves to be in that segment fair and square. Dana isn’t in great rush to grow, but rather wants to do things slowly and consistently, but that is not to say that she doesn’t have ambitions. Now that Dana and I have introduced Berezka Lab to you, let me tell you in more detail about my experience with the brand’s first two precious ‘babies’.
Berezka Lab Cleansing Oil
When I first inhaled the scent of this yellow oil with light green undertones and my nose caught a whiff of lime, I was intrigued. When I applied a
Olivia worked in investment banking, but eventually gave it up to create an online forum called Vanderohe.com, where she wrote editorials about beauty and wellness. Not long after starting it, Olivia became pregnant with her first son and was warned by the doctor to be weary of some beauty products, as some contain ingredients harmful to the development of the baby during pregnancy. Olivia admits to not considering this prior to getting pregnant and eagerly adopting a new philosophy ‘if it wasn’t good enough for baby, it wasn’t good enough for me!’
Olivia began examining labels and spoke to brand founders, while also researching the benefits of using plant oils in beauty routine. She also noticed that her skin changed after giving birth, becoming quite sensitive. Olivia’s gaze tuned towards natural products that addressed her skin’s needs and concerns effectively. During her second pregnancy she struggled to find skincare product the scent of which didn’t irritate her nose and senses in general – as those of you who have been pregnant know, each pregnancy can be a minefield of symptoms, aches, pains and irritations – physically and mentally. All of those things led Olivia to blend her own oils.
But it was a close friend of Olivia’s who has somewhat inspired the creation of her first skincare product, No.1 Nourishing Face Serum. She asked Olivia to create an anti-scarring oil serum and the rest, as they say, is history. Olivia chose potent essential oils known for their anti-scarring qualities and added multiple anti-ageing and nourishing ingredients into the blend, making sure her nose played ‘an active part’, as scent is such an important aspect when it comes to skincare and in many instances the word ‘perfume’ can mask a lot of unpleasant ingredients, which can have long-term adverse effect on one’s health. As Olivia perfected the blend, she realised how much she and her skin liked it. Then compliments about your skin’s natural glow started rolling in. After making the samples and testing them on willing friends and family, Vanderohe No.1 Nourishing Face Serum was born.
When you see serum’s external packaging you will notice that it grabs your attention, by it’s subtle and unusual combination of colours – you certainly won’t mistake Vanderohe for another brand. The synergistic blend itself, combines high-grade organic, cold-pressed and wild-harvested oils and is housed in a glass Miron bottle, to protect the potency and quality of the product. It was also important for Olivia to create a product that not only will address a multitude of modern skin does, from moisture loss to pigmentation and wrinkles, but made sure that women who use it benefit from aromatherapeutic effect through its delicate scent. So what started with personal interest and skincare workshops, culminated in Olivia’s blend of oils that makes sure that the balance is precise and that the synergistic benefit of ingredients is optimised, in order to bring maxim benefits to your skin safely.
The actual ‘perfectionism’ of the formula took about two years, as Olivia believes that ‘beauty is in details’. When it came to sourcing and selecting the ingredients, Olivia went for Soil Association certified organic cold-pressed oils, which were complimented by eight active wild-harvested essential oils, each chosen to enhance the formula. Expect balancing, anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing, moisture-boosting and skin-strengething effect on your skin over-time and with regular use, as well as reduction in pigmentation, redness and scarring.
I tend to use this oil nightly, but as it acts as a perfect base for make-up (more on this later), you can use it day and night. Apply three drops with a pipette to the palm of your hand, take a couple of deep breaths, inhaling the flowery aroma and massage it into clean skin, pressing carefully around the eyes. You can use it on its own (it has the texture of the oil) or add a few drops to your usual moisturiser for an active boost. It is very smooth and glides wonderfully over your skin. I had to forego using my eye cream when testing this and have to say that delicate eye area likes it as much, as the skin on my face. As the scent opens up, you are enveloped in the sunny, flowery scent, which was particularly uplifting on dark and gloomy nights when I first started testing this serum – Maria, thank you for letting me on about this serum!
Each ingredient of this serum is ‘native’, meaning it comes from the original source or the country, which is widely known for growing it for centuries. Responsible sourcing is important to Olivia, so as she sources the oils directly from countries of origin, she takes into account the carbon footprint and offsets it with tree planting donation. In addition, Vanderohe donates 10% of its profits to the marine savers programme at Four Seasons at Landaa Giravaaru, which acts as a ‘base’ for research on mantra rays and coral reefscaping into the Baa Atoll, a Unesco Biosphere Reserve – it is heart-warming to see that more and more brands bring charity into the fabric of their work.
Olivia is someone who is interested in many things, apart from beauty, including architecture, nature and art, which explains something that nestles alongside the serum bottle
My dear readers, finally I can share with you a Russian natural beauty brand worth shouting about. My own Botanic Garden journey started
I often lament beauty brands that fail to engage with consumer, by ignoring the feedback or failing to provide helpful customer service. When it comes to skincare the choices we face might be plenty, if not overwhelming, but making the right choice for yourself isn’t easy, when you don’t want to be swayed by the marketing spiel and are looking for the products that will work for your skin and address your needs. Marina and I created a
sample set, which comprises three
Russian women pride themselves on their appearance and Marina, who has scientific background, wanted to utilise the power of bio-technology and its use of highly purified ingredients. By extracting plant actives, Marina and her team choose to focus on creating bespoke solutions to multiple skin problems. Bio-extracts deliver effective and bespoke formulations that will also satisfy exacting vegan standards. By offering airless jars, that at a touch of a finger dispenses an exact amount of cream, you can also boost its efficacy with up to four serums that come in separate booster syringes. So you have functional packaging and effective skincare, which also harnesses the power of mood-boosting fragrances. You can also expect non-greasy, rapidly absorbed formulas, some of which will also have a gently cooling effect on your skin.
After our meeting I went home with the prototypes and in the course of the summer I was giving Marina my initial feedback. What also intrigued me, is Marina’s use of multi-lamellar system in her new skincare formulas. The upper layers of the skin, body’s lipids, oils and fats, are organised into highly-structured, lamellar arrangement, which form the skin’s barrier function, keeping important fluids in and external aggressors out. Bio-Extracts multi-lamellar system carries a distinct structural similarity to those natural skin layers, mimicking skin’s own lamellar structure. It is designed to act like a ‘patch’ on the skin, restoring its barrier function and so preventing trans-epidermal water-loss. It also makes a great base for other active ingredients in the formula, as it helps to ensure a uniform distribution of the actives for optimal skincare performance. The system, originally developed for treating extra-sensitive skin types, offers an innovative type of moisturiser, a step ahead from ‘water in oil’ or ‘oil in water’ emulsifiers.
One of the keys to skincare performance is an effective delivery system. In case of Bio-Extracts you have phospholipids-based delivery system, that ensures that Bio-Extracts actives penetrate deeper into the skin layers, thus helping to restructure and repair cellular membranes & preserve skin integrity and health.
How does the Bio-Extracts system work? You do a self-skin assessment via Bio-extracts website and then choose moisturiser and boosters. Then, every morning and night, you mix up to four boosters, depending on your skin’s needs in the moment in time, and add them to the pre-measured dose of moisturiser, apply it to your face, neck and decollete and you are ready for the day ahead or to lay or head on the pillow, while your skin regenerates & repairs.
When it comes to moisturisers, you simply press down either side of the plate lid with your thumb to dispense a pre-measured amount of the cream on the plate lid. Then, examine your skin in the mirror and decide if you want to use it on its own, or mix it with a booster shot. If you choose to add a booster, simply mix it into your moisturiser with a clean finger and apply lovingly to your face.
There are three textures to choose from:
– Light Moisturiser: suitable for oily, problematic and combination skin. I found it worked perfectly for my skin in the summer and have continued to use it thus far into the autumn. It has ultra-light formula that mattifies the skin which is quickly absorbed into the skin. Expect well-hydrated skin with some cooling sensation upon initial application.
– Normal Moisturiser: this one is suitable for day and night use. It contains argan oil & is suitable for normal and combination types of skin.
– Rich Moisturiser: suitable for dry and mature skin types, it works particularly well on most skin types in the colder months. It contains Cupuacu Butter, produced from seeds sourced from this tree, which grows in the Amazon (don’t confuse it will online retailer ), which helps your skin feel well hydrated for longer without skin feeling overloaded.
At the base of those three moisturisers lie bio-mimetic emulsifiers, of 100% vegetable origin, which match your skin’s lamellar structure. Their role is to act as ‘second skin’ and help restore the barrier of damaged skin. The formula is quite mild, so even if your skin is sensitive, with regular use it will help to build up skin’s tolerance, while sugar esters will help moisturise your skin.
Over the latter part of the summer I have been using the Light Face Cream, which absorbs oil and mattifies the skin. But for me it was the scent that caressed my senses and that lingers on my skin. Now, with the weather becoming colder and heating turned on, I switched to the Normal face Cream, which is perfect for the day and its fresh, floral scent is again a winner for me. If your skin needs some extra moisture, then go for the Rich one ( it won’t feel heavy on the skin, but will make the skin feel soothed and cocooned. Perfect for travel or when you go skiing or mountain hiking ).
Whatever your skin needs, Marina made sure that a certain booster is on offer for you to choose from – you have quite a choice !