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

Spotlight on Acne: Review of Ra Oils ‘Eternal Radiance Oil’ and ‘Clear Skin Cleanser’

Acne is a skin condition that affects people irrespective of age and even with a lot of skincare products on offer within a beauty marketplace, there are still few that offer non-invasive solutions without the long-term side effects, like increased sensitivity. Frida Jonsdottir, founder of Icelandic natural skincare brand Ra Oils, which she created with her mum, is particularly passionate about this subject, as the brand and products were the result of her own long & painful journey towards happier and healthier skin. Reviewing two of the products turned into my own discovery of how emotionally debilitating this skin condition is and while I don’t have acne myself, I wrote this post with plenty of insight from Frida, which I hope will be useful to you, if you suffer from acne and so far hasn’t managed to get in under control or are still trying to find a more natural & long-term solution.



‘Our products consist of high quality oils, designed to target specific skin concerns. We don’t use any ‘fillers’ or preservatives in 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[...] read more

The power of adaptogens in skincare & supplements: Lumene & Wunderworkshop

I have been a fan of Zoe, founder of Wunderworkshop, for a few years now and this petite and incredibly pretty young woman made a lasting impression on me from the moment we met. Driven and pro-active, with an infectious smile always on her face, she is also calm, honest, generous and reflective on the ebbs and flows of life. Zoe was one of the first supplement brand founders to put turmeric into the public’s field of attention and now she is doing the same with adaptogens.

Wunderworkshop turmeric product are very much loved and used pretty much daily in my household, so when Zoe launched Golden Shrooms, brand’s third (you can read my review of the first two, Golden Glow and Golden Balance here) adaptogenic product, an adaptogenic blend of Cordyceps, Reishi and Turmeric, I got my hands on the jar as soon as you can say ‘tired’.

According to Zoe ”it was mainly inspired by my fascination for Cordyceps, as I especially relied on it for occasions, where I needed that tiny bit extra energy or endurance. Throughout my twenties, when I used to go to festivals, I would take Cordyceps instead of drugs or alcohol to keep me going and not feel exhausted’.

Interesting fact: Cordyceps really got into the limelight in the early 1990s, when some athletes of the Chinese Olympic team took Cordyceps to enhance their athletic performance.

Since cordyceps are also an adaptogen, Zoe realised that they can be useful for internal wellbeing on a daily basis and therefore it might be worthy to try to combine it with some other powerful and potent ingredients such as Turmeric, Ginger, Cacao and Reishi – another mushroom adaptogen with potent qualities, foremost its immune-boosting effects. In combination with all the ingredients, it creates an anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and specifically endurance enhancing blend.

A note of caution though: it is very important to know that not all mushrooms products are the same and eating or injecting certain types of them can be dangerous, and even lethal in some cases (a cautionary tale on this subject was taught by Nicholas Evans, who wrote ‘The Horse Whisperer’. He went mushroom gathering with his family and later they cooked and ate the mushrooms that they gathered. Unknown to them, some of the mushrooms were inedible and he and some of the family members ended up in intensive care. An event that nearly tore his family apart and had long-term consequences. So make sure you check provenance of mushroom products you buy). One should always look for the extracted powder version, and not just a full-spectrum powder, as that is just ground mushroom. Traditionally they are brewed in hot water and let to sit for many hours in order to extract the functional ingredients. Zoe kindly provided me with some extra information on the subject as well, in order to help you understand this topic better:

“Mushrooms, are chitin based. Chitin is probably the hardest natural material found on earth – it is also the main building block of lobsters’ claws and insect’s exo-skeleton. Chitin does not degrade in alcohol or water (which is the reason why mushroom tinctures are mostly useless, therapeutically speaking). Most people cannot digest unprocessed mushrooms or mushroom products – they lack the enzyme chitinase in their stomach, needed to break down chitin. The bioactive ingredients are embedded in the chitin, like LEGO bricks in a LEGO wall, and in order to benefit from them the chitin should be removed. Heat is very effective to ‘melt’ the chitin and set the embedded “bioactives free, thus making them bioavailable.A hot water extraction is probably the most common and cheapest process to create a therapeutically useful mushroom product. Mushroom teas or mushroom soups are in the core crude hot water extracts. Still, extraction costs money, so many supplement producers skip this step, knowing that 99% of their potential customers will be unaware of the limited bioavailability of their products.

How to use this adaptogen blend: add 1/2 tsp to your smoothie, tonic, juice or warm milk/mylk. Zoe takes it in the mornings, particularly on days when she knows she will need a lot of focus or when a busy day lies ahead and she needs to increase her indurance.

Armed with Zoe’s advice, I tried it in juice (I find that it works well in predominantly green juices with frozen banana, as it does have an earthy, woody taste, so a little bit of a sweet undertone helps to create a balanced flavour), as well as my morning coffee. I also tried it with my morning or afternoon smoothies, mixed with protein powder & can recommend it in a smoothie with papaya, cucumber, green apple & half a tsp of cinnamon.

I can’t say that I feel extra energetic when I take it in the morning, but it certainly helps power me through (without the jitters) in the afternoon, when I feel that my energy is dipping, yet I still have plenty of things to do. Like with most of Wunderworkshop products, this one won me over fairly quickly, but I don’t use it daily – when my schedule is strenuous or I have a tiring concession of days, I definitely now make sure to take it, otherwise it stays on my supplement shelf and waits with patience for the time when my body asks for it. Listening to your body and learning to interpret its signals is something that I highly recommend, if you want to feel well in herself.

Ingredients: Turmeric (23%)*, Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) extract (20%)*, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidus) extract (20%)*, Ginger*, Cacao*, Black Pepper*. *organic ingredients

Before I move on to another product, let me share something else about Wunderworkshop: one of the reasons why I regularly take their supplements is because I place my trust in the brand founder’s knowledge and integrity when it comes to sourcing the ingredients and creating the formulas that can bring long-term benefits to consumers. Zoe is always very measured and honest when it comes to the information she provides, concerning the effect her supplements can have on you, never promising miracles or stretching the truth. To me truth is what matters when I choose supplements that I take, not the clever marketing tricks.

Wunderworkshop ‘Golden Shrooms’, cordyceps, reishi & turmeric mushroom Adaptogen blend, 40g, £17.50


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Galina Loves: ‘Restore Balm’ from Mallow and White

At the time when the prices, as well as the number of ingredients going into beauty products seems to be climbing, some indie brands choose to stay accessible & make a positive impact via low numbers[...] read more

Skin Owl multiple product review

After sharing insights into Skin Owl and introducing Annie Tevelin to those of you who weren’t familiar with her work before, I thought I would jump right into sharing some of my insights into Skin Owl products that Annie kindly gifted me, as well as the others that I purchased from Cult Beauty, brand’s main UK retailer for the time being.

Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM, 60ml, £79

This product replaced Annie’s first product Beauty Drops, that was very much loved by women around the world. As I mentioned in my previous post, Annie was honest with her customers and followers, telling them about planned product change that was in the works, as well as the reasons behind it. It is something that some of the other brand founders can learn from, instead of instantly taking a product off the shelf with no prior warning or explanation. In my experience disengagement from loyal consumers that support the brand from the beginning can be a very costly mistake.

Annie developed this product with all skin types in mind, from oily prone to breakouts, to mature that needs extra hydration. Maqui Beauty Drops contain antioxidants & phytochemicals that neutralise DNA – damaging free radicals, thus reducing cell damage. With regular use you will hopefully notice dull skin become visibly radiant, congested skin will become clearer and uneven texture and tone will visibly improve for the better in time. It also promises to tighten & reduce pore size, as well as calm irritation and redness.

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Maqui Berry Drops have antimicrobial & antibacterial properties. Depending on your skin’s needs, apply five to seven drops after cleansing to your skin in the evening, instead of your usual serum or moisturiser. Inhale the fruity, uplifting scent and turn your evening skincare application into a mini-beauty ritual, massaging the tension out of your face.

When formulating her products, Annie makes sure they don’t contain synthetic fragrance, parabens, ethoxylated ingredients  and each formula is cruelty-free & vegan (interestingly, just as I was editing this post, I received an e-mail that contained information about Naturissimo launching a ‘vegan’ section on their website). For those of you contemplating swapping your mainstream beauty brand, like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate, this product is a good option, as recommended by Annie and her team.

Maqui Berry Drops ‘pairs’ well with the Beauty Whip, which I will talk about in more detail below, as well as any morning/daytime Beauty Drops, like Lavender, Geranium or Clary Sage ( I have a particular affinity with Lavender Beauty Drops and sometimes cheekily use Maqui Berry in the morning and Lavender drops in the evening, but as always, this is down to individual and skin type preference).

In terms of ‘key ingredients‘ in this formula, you have Maqui Berry Oil, Omega 3,6 & 9, Vitamin A, D, E & K, as well as Tangerine & Vanilla essential Oils. Annie chose them for their nourishing and healing properties, as well as ability to boost collagen production and slowing down premature aging of the skin. You can also count on them to calm, reduce inflammation, moisturise and decongest the skin, so the formula is quite versatile for different skin types, as well as ages to which it caters.

The pale, almost translucent colour of this oil opens up on your warm skin and delights the senses with an uplifting scent of orange groves. The ‘rich’ texture sinks into the skin within seconds, leaving behind smooth, more supple skin, but also allows you to massage your face and neck without dragging or pulling of the skin. For me it is definitely a face oil that stays on the beauty radar, rather than disappears from it.

Ingredients: Raw, organic, cold-pressed African Adansonia digitata (Baobab) Oil, pure Aristotelia chilensis (Maqui Berry) Oil, Vanilla planifolia (vanilla) Co2 extract, Citrus reticulata (tangerine) oil.

Maqui Berry Beauty Whip, 57g, £68

I first tried this product a few months ago, through my Beauty Heroes subscription box, where it played the role of a helpful ‘side-kick’ to the Beauty Drops. While it is primarily a mask, I enjoyed using it most as a primer before make-up application, as I found it not only ‘primed’ the skin, but also allowed the make-up to ‘stay’ in place for a bit longer than usual, which is a bonus when you don’t want to, or have the time to re-apply your make-up during the day.

 

According to Annie, this product is a three-in-one – ‘a face mask, makeup primer and Beauty Drops booster’. This gentle, creamy skin-drenching mask is boosted with ace hydrators like Hyaluronic Acid, Organic Olive and Jojoba Oils, plus antioxidant-rich Patagonian Maqui Berry, Organic Rooibos, toning DMAE and smoothing MSM‘.

The way to use it is to mix one pump’s worth with any of Skin Owl’s Beauty drops, this way is will act as a moisture booster and make-up primer. If you want to use it as a mask, then cleanse your skin and apply a thin layer of the Beauty Whip, avoiding the eye and lip area, and leave it on for up to thirty minutes. Due to its light texture akin to moisturiser, it sinks in, so you can get on with doing things around your home, without scaring your friend, roommate or family member away. You can also leave it on overnight and rinse off in the morning, following  it with the application of the Beauty Drops of your choice. It really is up to you how you want to use it, so try it in a variety of ways and find what suits you.

Tip: once in use, keep Beauty Whip in the fridge, for extra plumping and de-puffing benefits. It really perks the skin up with its cooling sensation.

If you are looking for swapping for a more natural formula, than this product can be a suitable alternative to ‘Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask’ & it pairs well a soothing Eye+, as well as Lavender, Geranium, Clary Sage and Maqui Berry Beauty Drops PM.

List of ingredientsOrganic Aloe Leaf Juice (Aloe Barbadensis), Organic Olive Fruit Oil (Olea Europaea), Organic Alcohol, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil (Simmondsia Chinensis), Emulsifying Wax (Cetyl Alcohol, Stearyl Alcohol, Lecithin), Stearic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid, MSM (Dimethyl Sulfone), DMAE Bitartrate (Dimethylaminoethanol Bitartrate), Rosehip Seed Oil (Rosa Canina), Organic Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis), Organic Rooibos Leaf Extract (Aspalathus Linearis), Organic Lavender Extract (Lavandula Angustifolia), Maqui Berry (Aristotelia chilensis) Concentrate Powder, Organic Calendula Flower Extract (Calendula Of cinalis),Organic Green Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis), Organic White Tea Leaf Extract (Camellia Sinensis), Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Sun ower Seed Oil (Helianthus Annuus), Xanthan Gum

Beauty Steam in ‘Lovey Dovey, limited edition

I have been a somewhat reluctant to join in recent excitement about the re-emergence of face steaming, as my childhood experiences of steaming over garlic water or Vicks, when I had colds, left an imprint of a sweaty face and a sense of boredom. Having said that, I have done face steaming with fresh herbs in the past and in the right circumstances (when I am in the sauna, for example) and provided your skin isn’t easily aggravated by steam, like skin prone to rosacea, it makes for a wonderful experience in the colder months of the year.

Annie created this combination of herbs, which includes lavender and rose buds, as a special treat for Valentine’s Day, offering women some extra moments all to themselves. It’s not often we get to enjoy some peace of the ‘me time’ and the precious moments of silence and reflection that come with it. I actually added it to my bath water, to which I added some milk as well, a la Cleopatra, and had a dreamy time listening to my favourite tunes, all by myself. Alternatively Annie shared her tip for face steaming: provided you haven’t dripped your sweat into the bowl, using a sieve and then drink the warm steam water as a soothing cup of tea, which helps you be more open-hearted when it comes to matters of the world. Longer breaths, calmer mind, happy tummy and complexion. That’s what I call a beautiful multi-tacker.


Skin[...] read more

In the spotlight: Berezka Lab Day & Night serums

As promised in my recent Insta video, this post is dedicated to a Russian ‘first’ – and no, I am not talking about President Putin. I mean a luxe natural skincare brand Berezka Lab. Only launched a couple of years ago by Dana Sagidullina, her passion for family life and nature informs her lifestyle choices and product creation. Having spent a few years living and working in Asia and increasingly appreciating a close connection between nature and human beings, Dana was determined to create skin, hair and body products that will give consumers the best of what nature has to offer. In Asia women have been using plants, oils and essences for centuries in their beauty rituals, so Dana wanted to create products that modern women can use with pleasure, while also noticing visible results on their skin.

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).

[...] read more