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In some ways Dana views brick walls as opportunities to levitate and extend one’s abilities and I am happy to see that BL is getting a much deserved spotlight in the Russian press, which has been relatively lukewarm when it comes to the subject of genuine natural beauty brands. Single-handedly Dana seems to be changing perception that natural products are hippish and ineffective by sourcing high-quality ingredients and expertly creating the products that make you pause and appreciate the awesome beauty of what nature gives us so abundantly. With 100% natural formulas and no synthetic ingredients, cold-pressed plant oils, extracts, clays and essential oils allow you to create efficient and indulgent beauty rituals to nurture your inner goddess in the way that won’t have a negative impact on your long-term wellbeing.
Berezka Lab Day Serum, 30ml, 4280 Russian roubles (appr. £54, depending on conversion rate)
With an impactful, but unobtrusive herbal scent and rich texture, this day serum is a combination of 15 plant and essential oils, which hydrate and protect your skin during the day. Rich in photo-nutrients and protected by dark photo glass, that prevents formula oxidation & ultraviolet light from penetrating of all the BL products, organic ingredients help support skin’s hydro-lipid balance and assist your body’s natural regeneration process.
In combination all of the ingredients prevent oxidative stress within your skin and fight against free radical damage, while hydrating the skin and helping it appear more plump. Having used it in the summer, when it was particularly hot, I actually ‘got away’ with just using it on its own and only applying my regular sun protection on top of it and my skin didn’t become dry. And having used it this winter, when it has been particularly cold (I do ‘top it up’ with a Tata Harper illuminating moisturiser or Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm, if I feel that my skin needs it later in the day, I feel that it offers skin ( I have normal/combination skin type) adequate support.
Its rich colour, which reminds me of the colour of the sun just before the sunset above horizon when you sit mesmerised on the beach, it sinks in very quickly and acts as a perfect ‘primer’ before you apply your make-up. I quickly cleanse my skin in the morning, leaving it slightly damp to the touch and then apply about five drops of this serum all over my skin. The amount of ‘drops’ – a little more, a little less – depends on your skin’s needs in the moment in time, as well as your age and skin type. You can also use it around the eyes (as a contact lens wearer I never had any reactions, but of course it’s always best to try a little bit to start with and see how your skin reacts) and extend it to your neckline and decolette.
After a few weeks of regular use in the morning and provided you use the right products for your skin at night time, you might also feel that you need to use less make-up during the day (of course, you might barely wear any already .) Just add a little bronzer or blusher, a lip stain and eyeliner – depends on your preference and you are ready to face the world. For me it really is one of those products that makes me feel good about about myself and the state of my skin. Easy to use, slightly heady when your first smell it, it is one of those ‘must have’ products for me now, something that even in the overly-saturated beauty market isn’t that easy to create, achieve or find.
List of ingredients: Jojoba oil*, Grapeseed oil*, Hazelnut oil*, Avocado oil*, Rosehip oil*, Marula Oil† , Apricot kernel oil*, Vitamin E (non GMO), Rosemary extract, Ylang ylang*, Immortelle*, Frankincense*, Roman Chamomile*, Geranium*, Fennel*, Seabuckthorn extract (* Certified USDA Organic; † Wildcrafted)
Berezka Lab Night serum, 30ml, 5120 Russian roubles (around £64 depending on conversion rate)
Now, bedtime routine and choice of products is particularly important, as it is at night that our body reinvigorates and regenerates itself. Berezka Lab’s night serum is a veritable antioxidant cocktail that was developed with the above said in mind. Dana chose and combined 17 plant and essential oils which promise to address free radical damage, tiredness and signs of stress (having said that, the power & effect of hydration and sleep can never be underestimated, irrespective of your age!).
Lighter in colour than a day serum, this one also has a richer texture, which never-the-less almost instantly gets absorbed by the skin. Rich in photo-nutrients & lipids, this oily serum stimulates cell regeneration, speeds up collagen and elastin production, while also hydrating the skin and making it look more even-textured. Examine your face before you apply it and five minutes after you apply the serum and I hope you will see a plumper, more radiant complexion, before you sign the day off and dose off into the land of peaceful dreams contentedly. In the morning my skin looks plump and energised, something that I don’t take for granted.
This serum also works well on helping heal acne scars and making them less noticeable, but as I haven’t suffered from acne, I can’t comment on that personally, but it is something that is mentioned by Berezka Lab in this product’s description and they aren’t the ones for boastful & unsubstantiated claims.
The way your beauty product smells, helps determine how you feel when using it. If the scent puts you off or you have a bad association with its smell from the past, that’s not going to enhance your skincare ritual. With Berezka Lab you get sensory and olfactory indulgence, which should encourage you to take deeper breaths, helping to focus (morning) or calm (evening) your mind. Deeper breathing also encourages better oxygenation of your body, helping expel toxins from your body more effectively and giving you a better complexion, hopefully, in the process too.
List of Ingredients: Carrot seed oil †, Almond oil*, Evening Primrose oil*, Seabuckthorn oil*, Jojoba oil*, Pomegranate oil*, Grapeseed oil, Vitamin E (non GMO), Fennel*, Palmarosa*, Rosewood*, Turmeric*, Patchouli *, Frankinsense, Grapefruit*, German blue Chamomile*, Neroli*, Rosemary extract* (* Certified USDA Organic, † Wildcrafted).
In July, when I was in Moscow, I had the pleasure of catching up with brand’s founder Dana & the more we talked, the more I caught myself thinking how much I admire her professionalism & drive. Raising three kids is a full on job in itself, but Dana also started her brand & continues building it in the not so easy current economic & political environment in Russia. Yet, she doesn’t show any signs of stress – she is calm, smiling & very focussed on what she wants to achieve. She continues to develop & add more products to the already impressive range, does events & engages directly with consumers & retailers in a personal way. No task is too difficult, no target unachievable, if Dana puts her mind to it. She just puts her head down & makes things happen, while giving consumers products that engage their senses & nurture their skin.
Berezka Lab Nail Serum
Nails take about four months to grow from base to the top, so looking at them an experienced practitioner would be able to tell quite a lot about your[...]
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[...]