Curiosity Gap Review: Dafna’s Skincare Purify Cleanser

Cleansing your face is akin to a spring renewal, the only difference being that spring arrives only once a year and you get to clean your skin twice a day, making it fertile ground for the actives in[...] read more

The Eyes Have It: Berezka Lab Eye Serum review

The eyes are often called the windows of the soul, but they are also one of the first things to give away our age, emotional state, levels of stress, sleep patterns and lifestyle, so no wonder that[...] read more

Beat The Blues Ilapothecary launch

Nowadays instead of greeting each other with a ‘hello’, people are more likely to lament how fast-paced life is and how exhausted they seem to be feeling. While this does hold true in many[...] read more

Smell of nature: Corpus deodorants

At the time when I started to look into using more natural deodorant formulas, few were available & they didn’t look (or smell appealing). I wanted a reliable solution to my roll-on, but I[...] read more

Thoughtful Beauty: Ilapothecary products review

At the time when beauty brands continuously churn new products to keep up with Millennials and Generation Z fleeting interests, some brands focus on creating products based on what they can do for our[...] read more

Curiosity Gap Spotlight: Ra Oils & interview with the founder Frida Jonsdottir

Judging by the recent volume of write-ups in the press about acne, a skin condition that used to be associated with teenagers, seems to be affecting more and more adult women and men. British Vogue (Jessica Diner’s ‘Clear Future’), Grazia UK (Emma Strenner’s ‘Hit The Spot’ and Red Magazine (Eve Cameron’s ‘Seeing Spots’) articles flashed before my eyes, as I did my own research and tested two products sent to me by the Icelandic brand Ra Oils, their products aimed at people afflicted with acne and launched in the UK a few months ago on Cult Beauty.

Acne comes in many shapes and forms, but in essence it is an inflammation of the sebaceous glands. Located under the skin, sebaceous glands secret sebum, an oil that lubricates hair and ‘waterproofs’ the skin. When those glands become overactive, typically stimulated by high levels of hormones in the body, the skin becomes oilier than usual, as well as inflamed. Acne used to be associated with the changes in the bodies as they go through puberty during teen years, as the body uses sebaceous glands to expel the excess of the hormones that flood it. Sadly now it can also persist or flare up in adulthood and some women and men develop this skin condition in their later years, having not suffered from it during their teens.

What’s even more surprising is that while the beauty marketplace is saturated with acne products and treatments, the problem with the number of people who suffer from it seems to be worsening, not diminishing, causing many tears, frustrations and problems with self-confidence and self-esteem, no matter the age. As someone who has admittedly been lucky not to suffer from acne, I couldn’t help but want to address this subject, as a few people I know have suffered from different forms of acne and I have had requests to write about the subject for a while. While I can’t offer my own experience in this instance, I took it upon myself to ask Frida Jonsdottir, co-founder of Ra Oils (alongside her mum) about this debilitating skin condition, from which she suffered for many years. Thanks to the determination and input from her mum, not only did Frida manage to get her acne under control, but admirably she was inspired to share her own painful skin journey with others, offering hope, advice and effective products developed specifically for skin prone to acne (you can also use Ra Oils products on other skin types, more on this later in the post).

‘It’s important we start talking more openly about acne as a way too many women feel ashamed to have it (which included me for years!)’ Frida

So without much further ado, please say hello to the lovely Frida & I hope her answers to my questions will offer you some useful insights into acne, as well as practical tips and advice to help you, if you suffer from this skin condition.

Galina:[...] read more

Galina Reviews: Amly serum collection that combats the negative impact of modern living

As someone who has been writing about beauty products for many years I am not easily surprised when it comes to new concepts or launches. While my attention remains razor sharp, few products make it to my website’s ‘beauty section’, researched and tested for your attention, because I think life is too short and busy enough, and my intention is not to bombard you, but rather surprise, intrigue and hopefully delight, by showcasing things that I think are worth sharing. Amly is a British natural beauty brand that was started by two talented women, who focussed on creating Silver-Rich Face Mists with a difference. Kerry Moore specialises in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy and has background in homeopathy, while Lisa Smallpiece is a talented artist, who lives on an organic farm in Sussex, where the natural Amly spring is flowing through a wild-flower meadow. Their talents and knowledge compliment each other and allow them to create products that truly are unlike any other, created in small batches tonsure freshness and potency. Each of Amly’s three initial launches, spaced months apart, are incredibly impressive and prove that no good product is created quickly and on a whim, but rather based on individuality and synergy of quality ingredients and serving a specific purpose. A few months ago I received a press release that announced a trio of Amly serum collection launch, this time…. designed to combat the negative impact of modern city living. ‘Unexpected’ was my first thought and ‘wow’ was the first impression, when I opened the box from Amly that contained all three products. Below  is a story behind each product and why I think they are unlike anything else you might have experienced before, even if you are a beauty connoisseur.

Lisa and Kerry crafted signature blends of the finest essential oils and active organic flower compounds, designed to combat daily life challenges, notably damaging effects of pollution, sleep issues and keeping skin happy no matter your age. With the brand’s roots deeply planted in rural England, Amly is built on the ancient traditions of plant medicine, while also using cutting-edge scientific research to refine, adapt, enhance and improve the gifts of nature that are often taken for granted or forgotten in the digital and technological times. Lisa and Kerry believe in combining the powers of innovation when blending natural ingredients and respecting old traditions, while also ensuring that their formulations incorporate innovative bio-actives that are scientifically proven to produce real results. After all, when we buy this or that product, we do want to see an improvement in the skin or issue we are purchasing them for.

Amy’s process of product creation can be described as ‘botanical alchemy’ because it employs traditional methods to extract essential oils and hydrolates from flowers and plants that have been collected and used for centuries because of their healing properties. What Lisa and Kerry manage to do on each occasion, when they start developing a new product, is to combine botanical treasures with advanced bio-actives, which together create potent formulas that deliver consistent results not just visually, but internally to, by improving the health of the skin over time.

Amly City Screen protective Face Serum, £62, 30ml

‘Melt the urban stress from your complexion’

This super light, white-coloured fluid provides powerful defence against the negative impact that city living increasingly has on our skin. In general serums tend to have higher concentrations of active ingredients that work with a specific purpose to improve this or that skin problem. Lighter in texture than moisturisers, they bring higher potency and nourishment to the skin and this particular one is a delight to apply, because of its feather-light texture and the all-encompassing scent that reminds me of Amly first mist, Radiance Boost.

This serum was created to help boost skin’s pollution resilience, while also protecting your complexion. There is the power of Echinacea Complex that helps to detoxify and strengthen skin, while antioxidants Gotu Kola and Green Tea are blended together with Marine Compounds that help boost skin’s collagen levels. But that’s not all. There is also hydration-enhancing power of Squalene, purifying Niaouli (ingredient new to me, but commonly known as tea trees or paperbark, part of the myrtle family, which has many traditional uses, including treating colds, headaches, as well as in perfumery) and reviving White Willow that helps to clear the impurities from the skin, promoting a healthier looking complexion.

I would recommend using this serum primarily in the morning, after cleansing the skin. It sinks into the skin almost immediately and without a trace, leaving behind a delicate veil of scent that reminds you of the flowers and plants gently swaying in the early summer breeze. It lingers for a while and sets the mood for the day, calmly confident and content. After using it for several weeks I smile as soon as the serum comes into contact with my warm fingers, releasing the scent and a content smile on my face – something that is wonderfully special, be it rain or shine outside the window. The brow doesn’t frown and I am ready to face the day, work projects, deadlines, naughty children or a mountain of homework interlaced with cooking.

What also makes this particular serum special is the multiple benefits it brings to the mantle of your skin. By boosting hyaluronic acid levels it hydrates the complexion and helps plump the wrinkles for those, who fit the older age bracket. By balancing the skin, it increases its overall resilience to stress, in part because of the improvement of the natural detoxification and repair process that our skin undertakes daily. It speeds up the repair after UVB exposure, something that as a loyal sun worshiper I have to take into account, as it is one of the biggest contributors to the ageing process. And let’s not discount the powerful cocktail of vitamins & minerals that skin drinks in like you would water on a scorching day. If you skin appears lacklustre, it will benefit from the glow that is enhanced or renewed thanks to Beetroot extract, while the healing effect of Aloe Vera (I have put this serum to the test during my beach holiday and didn’t have to apply Aloe Vera gel that sometimes I have to after a prolonged sun exposure). Last but not least, there is also the extract of Lavender, with its deeply rich scent and bacteria-inhibiting benefit to the skin prone to spots and blemishes. One potent serum, wouldn’t you agree? Or feather-light complexion protection superhero –  either of those two descriptions are perfectly suited to the contents of this dark glass bottle.

Top Tip: Apply to face and neck after cleansing the skin with the upward motion. For increased detoxing and skin-protcting effect, use after Amly Digital Detox Face Mist (keep it in the fridge in the hot months to give skin a hydrating boost when it needs it).

INCI: Aqua, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Glycerin (Vegetable), Polyglyceryl-6 Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Tocopherol, Coco Caprylate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cylindrotheca Fusiformis Extract, Salicornia Herbacea (Glasswort) Extract, Echinacea Purpurea (Coneflower) Extract, Beta Vulgaris (Beetroot) Root Extract, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract, Salix Alba (White Willow) Bark Extract, Panax Ginseng (Ginseng) Root Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, ***Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Extract, *Boswellia Carterii (Frankincense) Gum Oil, *Citrus Aurantium (Neroli) Flower Oil, *Jasminum Officinale (Jasmine Absolute) Flower Oil, *Melaleuca Quinquenervia (Niaouli) Leaf/Twig Oil, *Pelargonium Roseum (Rose Geranium) Leaf Oil, *Juniperus Virginiana (Cedarwood) Wood Oil, *Anthemis Nobilis (Roman Chamomile) Flower Oil, *Cananga Odorata (Ylang Ylang) Flower Oil, *Tilia Cordata (Linden) Flower Oil, *Juniperus Communis (Juniper) Fruit Oil, *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, *Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) Flower/Leaf/Stem Oil, Cellulose Gum, Xanthan Gum, Sucrose Laurate, Polyglyceryl-6 Behenate, Squalane, Maltodextrin, Benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic Acid, Hydroxyacetophenone, ****Pentylene Glycol, **Linalool, **Limonene, **Citronellol, **Geraniol, **Benzyl Benzoate, **Farnesol, **Citral, **Benzyl Salicylate, **Eugenol

*Natural Pure Essential Oils  **Potential Allergens Within Natural Pure Essential Oils ***Certified Organic Ingredients ****100% Botanical Source

Suitable for all skin types, including blemish prone.

Amly Day Light Super Fine Face Oil, £72 for 30ml


‘Radiate[...] read more

Taking your skincare routine to a next level with Nourish London Probiotic Multi-Mineral repair Mask

Having recently read Clemence von Muffling ‘Ageless Beauty’ book, I came across a great saying that really distills the essence of why every woman should have a mask in her skincare arsenal. ‘The difference between good skin and great skin is masking. Doing an intensive treatment at least once a week takes your skincare routine to the next level’, according to Detox Market‘s co-founder Romain Gaillard. This is something that I tend to agree with, rather than with Caroline Hiron‘s recent Red magazine editorial, where she says that she has fallen out of love with masks. If like me, you do like masking for all the right reasons, then recent launch from British natural skincare brand Nourish London, Probiotic Multi-Mineral Repair Mask, is definitely worthy of attention.

This mask first came into my field of vision during the exhibition at Excel in April and I got to talk about its merits with Anne Hahlo, one of brand’s most knowledgable team members. I ‘played’ with the tester, smelling it and applying it to my hands, but properly started testing it on my face from the latter part of June, when the heatwave hasn’t yer reached the British shores. Now, having used it throughout the heatwave, as well as in the hotel bathrooms in France and Spain on my summer travels, I can share the knowledge and tips that you might find useful in your skincare routine as well.

Probiotic Multi-Mineral Repair Mask is an innovative product that provides the skin with the mineral power of magnesium, zinc, iron and copper, as well as Damask[...] read more

Evolve beautifully

We are all works in progress, but while some choose to be static, others just bream with ideas and desire to implement them. A brand is often a reflection of a person or people behind it and recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Laura Rudoe, founder of S5 Skincare, who also has another brand in her creative portfolio, called Evolve Organic Beauty. I have written about Evolve a while back ( please click here, if you want to go back in time, both for Evolve and the way my own website looked ) but recently the brand had a transformation and instead of a duckling, a young swan seems to be emerging.

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Evolve was a good brand but its branding wasn’t premium and it wasn’t a raving success, so Laura pragmatically re-examined things and at some stage even considered pulling the plug on that project, but fate had the pleasure of intervening. The branding changed, the engagement with the customer became closer and more personal ( you get regular updates, discount offers, suggestions for products to try, suitable for your own skin type ) and the products expanded – Laura and her team carefully note which products become popular with customers, what smells and textures they respond to and if something doesn’t work for customers, the product might be discontinued. Through the constant dialogue with existing customers and focus groups, ideas and new products emerge, initially in small runs and then, if demand continues, it becomes bigger. After all, it is important to be flexible, to listen to customer feedback ( I wish more brands took notice and became more personal, instead of pretending to be so and pushing what they want to sell, which might not be exactly what the customer needs ).

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Evolve had a soft launch last May, launched officially in September and now they seem to have gained customer trust, as well as attention from press and bloggers around the world ( the brand is available in France, at Mon Corner B, as a European example, as well as US organic store Credo Beauty, which is a fantastic concept and retailer ). Laura and team Evolve are developing lots of interesting ideas, so that was one of the points of focus of our conversation with Laura, as well as new products in development, one of which I am particularly excited about due to its originality.

Laura, who is a mother of three, and whose youngest child is under one, came to the meeting with her little one, yet she managed to cover all the points and answer my endless questions, while also keeping an eye on her daughter. Some women just have innate focus and ability to make the balance between motherhood and career look easily achievable, making the rest of us ponder in wonder how it’s possible to make it look so effortless.

Laura continues to work with her business partner Violaine, who is based in France and her London team is all female, so the skincare does not all have female perspective in its DNA, it also factors in demand of our skin at different ages, from blissful stage when we are carefree to the changes that motherhood or maturity bring.

Another appealing point about Evolve is that not only you can order a set of samples to try the products and experience their textures, smells and effect on YOUR skin, you can also buy products in travel sizes, which are perfect,t not just for travel but for trialling the product for longer – my face mask ( review here ) lasts a good few weeks ( if used weekly ) and the lip treat  ( one of my favourite Evolve products thus far ) has lasted a good few months, so Evolve ‘miniatures’ are not just practical, but generously-sized.

On this occasion, instead of doing detailed product review, I though I would go through the Evolve products that I have tried in the last few weeks, in order to share with you my impressions and hopefully giving you something to contemplate, as you are getting ready for your summer break.

FOR THE FACE

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Lip Treat, 30mls, £10: this lip balm is quite solid and comes in a glass jar. You need to put your finger in and try to warm it up, as it is quite solid. It has a lovely orangey smell and softens lips beautifully. I find its solid texture practical for carrying it in your handbag or on your travels, as it won’t ‘leak’ into your make-up bag, but some might find the ‘sizing’ a little too large.

As to the ingredients, there are three worth mentioning: shea butter that is rich in multiple vitamins (it provides essential nutrients to the skin and assists collagen production that make our lips and skin plumper in appearance). Cocoa butter is known for its emollient qualities, so your skin is not only protected, but moisturised as well. Orange Essential Oil boosts the mood and helps increase the blood flow to the skin.

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Gentle Cleansing Melt ( comes in two sizes, 30ml & 100ml):  best suited to normal or dry skin, this flowery smelling gel promises to nourish and protect your skin barrier, while getting rid of make-up and daily grime. I used a 30ml size and was somewhat annoyed that I had to hold the bottle upside down for the product to come out – that’s just my own practical observation.

It has a balmy texture when you put in on your ‘dry’ skin and it does feel nice to massage your face with it, while and then rinse it off with warm water, when the ‘melt’ becomes milky and reveals clean and soft skin, without the drying side-effects. It is a nice product to use in the summer, especially if you are spending the day outside or on the beach, but its vanilla smell might be a little too strong before bed-time, so might work perfectly in the morning and help you wake up. If used in the evening, cleaning your face with a flannel or bamboo cloth will add a gentle exfoliation benefit.

A noteworthy ingredient here is baobab, which many of us have been consuming internally in the last couple of years, due to its high Vitamin C content. Baobab is well-known for its amazing benefits for the skin, as it contains calcium and Vitamin A. Baobab oil helps to rejuvenate skin cells due to its high antioxidant content, thus assisting our skin protection against free-radicals.

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Fresh Face Facial  Wash, comes in two sizes, as above: If you have combination or oily skin, you might like this gently foaming Facial Wash with organic purifying Papaya. It was formulated to detoxify and rebalance normal, combination & oily skins. Natural sugars cleanse away impurities, organic papaya enzymes exfoliate, organic aloe vera softens, leaving skin clean, smooth and supple, while natural Goji Berry extract defends against pollution.

The wash comes in a bottle with a spray nozzle and one or two pumps of this liquid, gel-like formula are enough to cleanse both face and neck (apply to damp skin ) but you can also extend it to the decollete and by using cold water you can help you skin remain firmer for longer, as it boosts circulation – a simple but effective trick that was used by my grandmothers. I like this product’s aloe vera fragrance & texture, which is light, refreshing and makes the skin feel well-moisturised, even before you apply serum or moisturiser.

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Hyaluronic Serum 200, comes in two sizes, 10ml travel size and 30ml:  This pure clear serum for normal to dry skin contains 200 mg hyaluronic acid per bottle, hydrating skin from within and plumping up fine lines and wrinkles. With its delicate organic rosewater fragrance, it also appeals to our feminine side. When you apply it to your skin, it feels like lightly bouncy water drops and sinks into your skin almost instantly. Since I received my order, I have been known to apply it sometimes on top of my make-up, mid-way through the day, to plump and hydrate my skin externally, while making sure I drink water to hydrate my insides. This one is a definite winner for me.

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Miracle Face Oil ( two sizes, as above ): I will be honest, generally I shy away from products that[...] read more