Teen Skin: Spots and Stripes

As a mother, choosing the safest skincare products I applied to my kids skin was consciously important for me from day one of motherhood. But once you master how to look after your baby’s skin, read more

Organic Beauty Week: my September natural product choices for the face

I normally don’t do monthly product posts, spotlighting the products I use, but with Organic Beauty Week and Organic September in full swing, I thought I would make an exception. By highlighting some brands and products for you, I am hoping to inspire you to switch one or two of your  mainstream products to a natural or organic one, suitable for your skin’s needs – you might be pleasantly surprised by its effect on your skin. My product selection below comes from brands that don’t have Soil Association Certification, but I do know brand founders and trust their practises and ethics, so am happy to recommend them. Does certification matter ? The answer to this question is not straightforward and probably requires a lengthy round-table discussion with experts, brand founders and us consumers, in order for you to make an educated, conscious choice. I will go on record & say that my own purchases aren’t determined by certification alone ( I do hold Soil Association in very high regards ), but what does matter and I hope you will it take on board after reading this post, is that your skincare purchases need to be determined by your educated choice, as opposed to clever marketing practises of others aimed at you. Question is whether you actually choose to make conscious product choices when it comes to your beauty and skincare routine, as it would require extra research time on your part, or you are happy to delegate your choices to people who work on commission and don’t necessarily hold your best interests at heart when it comes to choosing appropriate skincare routine. On top of that, there is sadly often misleading information about organic and natural content of beauty products, so for those of you new to the organic and natural beauty niche, certification is there to help you feel a little less confused but don’t rule the purchase of the product out purely because it isn’t certified.

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have been using some of those products since July and it would be fair to say that I think they are special for more reasons than one, read more

Meet Nuori Skincare, a Scandinavian fresh beauty brand

People who live in Scandinavia are not only blessed with good looks genes, they tend to lead a more holistic and nature appreciating lifestyle. Yes, a lot of time is spent outside, which can ‘weather’ the skin but I know many people whose skin is beautifully enviable and leads to a question ‘what do you use on your skin’ ? When Content exclusively launched Nuori skincare products in September, I jumped at a chance to meet Jasmi Bonnen and ask her about her ‘fresh skincare’ concept in person.

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Jasmi used to work at L’Oreal and having researched the subject of skincare ‘shelf life’, she decided to create her own line of products ( at the moment there are eleven ) based on the principles of efficacy and freshness. We prefer to eat fresh food, so Jasmi applied the same concept when creating Nuori, making sure that products are created in small batches every 12 weeks. You have ingredients of natural origin, which are also pure, as they don’t contain synthetics normally needed to extend shelf life. Add to that vitamins, amino acids, plant extracts and essential oils and you get a ‘freeze frame’ of what Nuori is about.

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When you pick up any Nuori product you have two dates stamped on it: a ‘start-using-by date’ meaning the time by which it is recommended you start using the product, at the latest, as the ingredients would be most potent and the more familiar ‘expiry date‘, which is when you should replace your Nuori product with a fresh one. My first purchase was Vital Foaming Cleanser, which had a start date of November 29th, 2015 and an expiration of February 16th, 2016. Initially, speaking to Jasmi, I found the concept a little baffling but as I started using the products the concept made more sense. I buy my food fresh and enjoy the freshness and maximum nutritional value that it gives to my body, why shouldn’t I do the same for my skin ? I remember my grandmothers making strawberry or egg masks for their faces, so this concept, if you think of it, fuses the past and the present of beauty perfectly and sums up Nuori message to its customers.

1) you have efficacy of active ingredients that aren’t weakened by time-related breakdown of potency.

2) you have skincare that is pure due to the absence of preservatives or synthetics that normally extend the shelf life of products.

Often we have several cleansers, moisturisers, serums etc. in our arsenal and use them depending on our skin’s need on a particular morning or evening but is freshness worthy of consideration when it comes to choosing one’s skincare products? I also like the fact that on each packaging box ( white & yellow) you can see that the products are:

– manufactured in Denmark

– Are free from paragons, read more

Mesmerizing eyes courtesy of Armani & W3LL People

Like Brooke Shileds I have strongly defined eyebrows ( but luckily not as strong as Leonid Brezhnev’s ) and lessons taught by the threading queen Vaishaly Patel continue to serve me well. But what if you want to defy your eyebrows and eyes but don’t know where to start? Luckily, Armani & W3LL People‘s recent launches will give you a helping hand-just make sure yours is a steady one!

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I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Armani in person yet but know from a few people who work for him that even though he is in his 80s, he still keeps a sharp eye on everything going on in his empire, including developments within his beauty line that has been gaining fans steadily pretty much from the moment it was launched. His beauty products are practical, on-trend yet timeless and they make you look like the best, polished version of yourself without being overdone.

Armani Eye & Brow maestro is a product that you will like simply because it will help you make your eyebrows, as well as eyes, look beautiful. All you need is just one pot and a brush. My mini make-up lesson was guided by one of Armani make-up artists working at the Selfridges counter, whose advice I value as she knows what colours suit me and never does a hard sell.

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Mr Armani is known as a master of light & shadow and this product will help deliver exactly that effect. Put some of it on top of your hand, wiggle the specially designed Armani brush in it gently and brush the eyebrows upward, applying it from inner to the outer corner of the brows. The spiral applicator, like the one you get in your mascara, helps to evenly distribute the product and you can build it up, if you want a stronger look or if your eyebrows are a little sparse. Fancy some eyeliner? Use the angled side of the brush, that is very precise, and trace the line alongside your lash line, guiding it almost into your eyelashes for a natural, Bambi-eyed look. If your eyes aren’t big, do it half way, from the middle of your eye to the outter corner. Need an eyeshadow? No problem, dab some on your finger and apply to your eyelids, blending it well. You can also use it to contour under the cheekbones, like bronzer, but it does depend on the shade that you choose and the colour of your skin ( the shade that I bought is called ”Ambre” and it certainly does the above named multitude of jobs for me ). Enclosed instructions also say that you can ‘use Eye & Brow Maestro as hair touch-ups to bring a touch of colour-again” but do check if it is a match for your hair first )

Giorgio Armani Eye & Brow maestro
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Tried and Tested: body creams

Having recently reviewed the beauty posts I have done, i realised that it looks like I am concentrating on the face and not the body, so let me assure you that it isn’t the case. I have been trying the creams covered below for the last two months or so, going as far as trying one on one side of the body and another on the other-all in the name of beauty result comparison .)

Amala myrtle detoxifying body oil, £42 for 100 mls: I came across Amala products about six months ago (thanks to great advice from Cindy at Content beauty/wellbeing store in Central London) and since then my bathroom shelvesAmAb has been making way for a few products from this wonderful organic German range.

I have done a very light detox in early September and decided to use this oil after skin brushing. I am very choosy about body oils, having been spoilt by my aromatherapist friend Michelle Roques-O’Neil (her oils are just so wonderful, they actually work on both your body i.e. its health state and your mind plus they also smell just beautiful)  and that’s the first time i actually ‘strayed’-all in the name of research!

This oil smells lovely and sinks in your skin quite quickly, without leaving a greasy shin- I have been applying it before going to bed though. This body oil contains jojoba, sweet almond, apricot kernel, lemon peel, sandalwood, basil, cardamon seed and sunflower seed oils that nurture and support skin and help your body with shifting of the toxins. I absolutely love it and think it is a great oil to use during autumn or even winter to nurture your skin!

Tracie Martyn Shakti Resculpting Body Cream 200 mls: I have heard about Tracie Martyn and her skincare and body range from aTM few of my American girlfriends but until recently you couldn’t get your hands on her products in the UK-and I know that a few companies tried unsuccessfully to become this range’s stockists in the last couple of years . A few months ago I have received Harrods magazine and saw a small article stating that Tracie’s products will be stocked up at Harrods’s Urban Retreat, so as you can guess, I made my way there only to be looked at like I was a crazy woman by the staff there-supposedly they have never even heard of it. Well, I went to the Beauty hall on the ground floor, made some enquiries there and found the products on the bottom shelf somewhere in the corner-no prices and no clue from the staff. I was asked to wait, while they checked the price list. Having returned an hour later, I saw that the products were actually taken off the shelf…..Well, to cut an already long story short, I did get my hands on the Shakti sculpting scream-I wouldn’t have been myself if I failed on that mission and have to say that it’s as impressive as my girlfriends made it to be. This cream helps with slimming, firming and moisturising your hips, thighs, legs, arms, torso and any other area that you think might need a little help in the ‘lift’ department-ok, let me say that unless you drink water, watch what you eat and exercise this cream isn’t going to change your life, but put some effort in and you will see pretty good results. You have ingredients like rose water, black currant seed lipids, carnitine, caffeine, rose hip oil, honeysuckle extract, organic green tea extract (boosts metabolism), organic Bulgarian rose essential oil and nano technology delivered blackcurrant lipids. This cream does have an interesting smell but it took me a little to get used to as it smells nice, but unusual compared to the creams I have used before……..

Absolution ‘certified
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Natural Beauty of Imelda Burke-Being Content

Certain processes in life are gradual, you start the journey with one intention and sometimes end up in a different place all together-this definitely applies to my love of cosmetics and beauty brands.

If someone said to me a few years ago that I will take organic brands seriously and not just that, but start using them more often than the more well-known cosmetic brands and that their effect on my skin will be quite profound, I would have giggled at best. But as they say, life is a journey, we live and learn.

My opinion about organic brands and the actual consideration of what is it that I actually put on my skin started to gradually change when I got pregnant with my first child. When you become a mother, your life changes instantly and you start questioning your judgement while caring for a tiny bundle, who can be susceptible to the nasty environmental effects with long-term health side effects. And one of the first things that I realised was that Johnson’s baby products didn’t work for us and I wanted to use something gentle and full of goodness on my child’s skin, yet there was hardly anything on the shelves at the time-be it for the mother or the baby for that matter. 

I went for treatments to Michelle Roques O’Neil and she mixed me oils to nurture my skin and the baby growing inside of me- myBeingContent body bounced back pretty quickly post birth and I had no stretch marks. I massaged my babies with Michelle’s oils (my son hardly even had a cold in his first year of life) and desperately wanted to find a place where I could try a variety of effective organic skincare. I started looking around, trying things but remained skeptical and then, one gloomy day, I was passing a small store, off Marylebone High street and the name Content beauty/well-being attracted my attention. I went inside and the first thing that caught my eye was the Butter London nail polishes ( I used to go and have pedicures by the lovely woman who started the brand called Nonnie Creme at Vaishaly’s spa). The place was quite, in a meditative kind of way, and the staff didn’t hassle me, allowing me to get on with peaceful browsing.

Time passed and a few months ago I popped into the store again, looking for something for my skin that has become a little temperamental. A young woman, called Cindy answered my questions and recommended a brand called Amala, that she used on her skin. The range had a cute packaging and smelled delicious, so I thought I would try one of the cleansers. I also got some Suki products (unfortunately my skin didn’t like it but it was my choice, not a recommendation and there is a lesson in it-everyone’s skin is different, so it doesn’t mean that this brand won’t work for you !) and decided to buy a couple of products from  the range called Stem Organics-so that’s how it started and this love affair continues to grow. I now also buy RMS Beauty products there, Dr. Alkaitis, Barefoot Botanicals, W3ll People and Suvana’s paw paw and honey balm.

The store itself reminds me of the apothecaries with interesting products on the shelves, yet the whole place breaths health and BeingContent2contentment-it’s in the small hand held mirrors hanging on the walls, in the decor that accentuates the brands yet doesn’t push anything on you-it always whispers to you ‘come in, browse  and you will discover a secret that is just waiting to be discovered by you’. 

Content was started and remains a huge passion of Imelda Burke, who cherry picks small, niche organic brands (some of the products are uniquely distributed by Content boutique or their online store ) that in the long-term will revolutionise our skincare routine and well-being. Her staff is smiley, welcoming and honest, so when you make your choice, you know it will work, hence you won’t be disappointed.

Sometimes the store can be quite, with just a couple people browsing and sometimes it’s full of laughter, as women of different ages seem to converge on it and exchange tips and happy banter, while browsing the shelves. I have never seen a place like that before in London and can truly say that their customer service is second to none. You can try the products there or ask for samples and if you place orders on the Internet, not only do they arrive pretty speedily, but your package always contains samples, often of the brands that might not be well-known now but will definitely grow and become big.

I couldn’t resist asking Imelda a few questions and she was kind enough to answer them, so please read the Q & A below. Having metBC3 Imelda I can honestly say that her passion for natural cosmetics is contagious and I only wish that more of you started thinking about what it it that you are actually  putting on your biggest organ, your skin, daily and what goes into your body and blood stream. Don’t you deserve to be healthy and beautiful, just like the nature and life cycles intended?           

Q & A with Imelda Burke, owner of  Content store in Marylebone

GAP: Can you please tell me about your professional background and how you the idea of Content was born?

Imelda Burke: I was in the fashion industry for 15 years. The idea came from my own needs really. I had a mild skin condition from birth and was prescribed creams for it by my doctor. In my 20’s it suddenly occurred to me that I had been rubbing this cream on my whole body for over 20 years – everyday! I looked at what was in it and didn’t like it, so looked for alternatives. This lead to a dissatisfaction with what was available in the natural and organic sector. I didn’t want to purchase my products from a health food store. So I created CONTENT.

GAP: What has been the biggest lesson you learnt while setting up Content?

Imelda Burke: I started in a recession with a very niche product selection. The greatest lesson has been learning to hold your nerve. Three and a half years down the line the new brands we had at the time, which no-one was interested in, are now becoming household names. You need to be incredibly passionate about what you are doing when setting up a small business independently. It is this passion that keeps you going late at night.

GAP: From your point of you, what’s your secret of running a successful beauty store with a difference?

Imelda Burke: Customer service. Switching beauty brands is like starting over again. Many of the people that shop with us are trading up to natural and organic brands for the first time and it can be confusing choosing where to start. I wanted the store to have a more personal feel to it and I think people appreciate the extra lengths we go to. We don’t always get it right but we always attempt to.

GAP: How do you choose which brands to stock and which has/have been the biggest success/surprise so far?

Imelda Burke: There are lots of different criteria to choosing the brands we stock, ingredients being only of them. This sector can be confusing with the different certification bodies, some brands choosing not to certify, and some synthetic ingredients being allowed under certification. So we aim to provide an open discussion between brands and customers.

GAP: Can you please share a few of your full-proof beauty secrets?

Imelda’s Tips:

  • Sleep!. My skin looks rubbish if I have a late night.
  • Raw unbleached coconut oil for removing make-up.  RMS beauty

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