Introducing: a.po.the:ca Skincare - Rosewater Face Mist & Nourishing Face Oil review

Monday, 17 June 2019

a.po.the.ca Skincare - Rosewater Face Mist & Nourishing Face Oil review
Instagram is a great place to discover independent green beauty brands and my latest find is called a.pothe:ca who are based in London. 

Apotheca specialises in natural and organic skincare which is as clean, eco-friendly and effective as they come. Everything is produced in small batches, and all of the ingredients used are sustainably sourced and certified COSMOS Organic by the Soil Association. Naturally, all of the products are also free from ingredients such as parabens, phthalates, silicones, mineral oils, synthetic fragrance and ETDA, and Apotheca's commitment to the Environment ensures that all of their packaging is recyclable (both of the products featured below are in glass bottles and there's no outer cardboard box packaging to cut down on waste)

In a busy consumer market that's full of shady greenwashing, it always feels like such a breath of fresh air to come across such a pure and natural brand like this who are 100% transparent with their ingredients so do feel free to check out their website for yourself. Apotheca currently only stock three products, but there are more coming out soon. About a month ago, their Rosewater Face Mist and Nourishing Face Oil, arrived at my door and I've had them both on rotation in my skincare routine for the past few weeks. 

a.po.the.ca Skincare - Rosewater Face Mist & Nourishing Face Oil review
Apotheca Rosewater Face Mist* (100ml, £20, link)
I always have a Rosewater toner in my skincare stash, especially during the Summer months because they're one of the best natural products to use to instantly soothe, hydrate and calm the skin. Apotheca's Rosewater Face Mist is no exception as it feels wonderfully revitalising whenever I spritz it on and it can be used to set makeup, as well as being a handy little pick-me-up refresher to use during the day if you're feeling tired or stressed. Made from 100% natural/96% organic ingredients, it's a lovely facial mist if you're in the market for a new one.

Apotheca Nourishing Face Oil* (30ml, £25, link)
A real treat that most skin types will also enjoy is the Nourishing Face Oil which is composed of several skin-loving, plant-based ingredients such as Rosehip Oil, Jojoba Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Borage Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Frankincense, Sweet Orange Peel, Ylang Ylang, Neroli and Vitamin E. Despite its rich profile, the oil sinks into the skin well, and it's perfect to use with your favourite Gu Sha tools for a deep and invigorating facial massage to try at home. This Face Oil smells beautiful and 2-3 drops are all that's needed to leave your skin silky soft and glowy. It's 100% natural and 99% organic.

Discover more at apothecalondon.com

Have you found any new beauty brands through Instagram lately?

Health & Lifestyle: Cocobaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme review

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Cocobaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme review
Based on an ancient Ayurvedic method for promoting and maintaining good oral health, Oil Pulling has been a growing wellness trend in the West now for the past couple of years, so it's no surprise to see more brands bringing out their own kits that are focused on this healthy technique. One such brand is Cocobaci and I've been putting their 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme to the test.

What exactly is Oil Pulling?
Oil Pulling is based on the Ayurvedic tradition of using an oil (most commonly Sesame or Coconut Oil) to 'pull' out toxins and pathogens as the oil binds to these, making them easier to remove from the mouth and body, thus leaving your mouth, teeth and gums cleaner overall.

What are the benefits of Oil Pulling?
Whilst more scientific studies are needed, Oil Pulling has grown in popularity as people claim it helps to naturally whiten teeth, lessen the sensitivity of teeth and gums, removes plaque and bacteria, combats bad breath, prevents cavities, reduces inflammation and helps to keep the mouth free from harmful bacteria after oral surgeries which reduces the risk of infections. My NHS dentist recommended it when I had a wisdom tooth removed a few years ago, and I've been doing Oil Pulling on and off ever since.

Cocobaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme review
Tried & Tested: Cocobaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme
For many in the West, the allure of naturally whiter teeth is what attracts them the most to Oil Pulling in the first place but the oral health benefits are not to be missed! If you've never tried Oil Pulling before, Cocobaci's 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme contains 15 single-use packets for ultra convenience so that you can easily add it to your morning routine with minimal fuss. It's available in a range of different flavours which each have their own unique benefits, and I opted to try out the Cool Mint kit.

What's In It?
Each sachet of Cocobaci Cool Mint contains a simple blend of natural and certified organic ingredients; Organic Virgin Coconut Oil, Organic Peppermint, Organic Spearmint and Organic Oak Bud Extract.

How Do I Use it?
Before brushing your teeth, tear open one sachet and squeeze the contents into your mouth. Depending on how cold your bathroom is, you may find that the oil is solid but don't worry, it will soon melt in your mouth as it adapts to your body temperature. Swirl the oil mixture thoroughly for 5-15 minutes, pushing it through and around the teeth and gums to make sure that every single area gets a good 'pull'. Be careful not to swallow and once you're done, spit it out into a bin and never into your sink or shower as the oil will solidify and clog up your drains.

Overall Thoughts?
If you're new to Oil-Pulling, you may find it really strange to be swirling oil around your mouth and I'd recommend starting off with 5 minutes first and then working your way up to 15 minutes (and longer if you have the time). The Cocobaci Cool Mint has a lovely refreshing flavour and it left my mouth feeling much cleaner than when I'd just used Coconut Oil on its own. I stuck with the programme for the full 15 days and afterwards, I did see a small, subtle change in the whiteness of my teeth, noticing that mostly tea and coffee stains had been removed - yes! The biggest difference for me personally was in my overall oral health, as both my teeth and gums felt stronger and less sensitive which is always a big bonus for me as I often struggle with sensitive teeth. It's certainly something that I would be happy to continue doing on a regular basis!

Cocobaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme in Cool Mint* (15 x 8ml sachets, £19.50) is available from makeupbox-ldn.co.uk

Have you tried Oil Pulling?

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Foodie Friday: Rustic Fruit & Nut Flapjacks (Dairy-Free / Vegan recipe)

Friday, 14 June 2019

Rustic Fruit & Nut Flapjacks (Dairy-Free / Vegan recipe)
For busy mornings on the go, you can't beat a good old-fashioned flapjack to give you all the energy that you need to get your day off to a productive start. This much healthier version is refined-sugar free to ward off those sugar crashes and is packed full of tasty nuts, seeds and dried fruits.

Flapjacks are traditionally made with a lot of butter, sugar and golden syrup, but it's really easy to turn this humble oat-based snack into something that's nutritionally a lot better for you. The key to making healthier flapjacks is to ditch all of that added refined sugar and replace it with dried fruits like Dates and Raisins. There's still a lot of natural sugar present, but the fibre content of the fruit helps to lower the spike in insulin and slows down the speed at which the body digests carbs, so you shouldn't experience the fatigue that comes with a sugar crash later on as your energy levels will be more stable. Dates are also surprisingly low GI (Glycemic Index) which is why I love to use them in my recipes (plus they taste amazing!).

You'll still need to use some kind of fat to keep the flapjacks from falling apart - don't be tempted to make low-fat flapjacks because they will just crumble to pieces when you try to pick them up (trust me, I've tried!) and they'll have an awfully dry consistency and bland flavour. Instead of butter, you can simply use Coconut Oil which will work in the same manner and allows vegans to tuck into these tasty treats too!

I love making a big batch of fresh Flapjacks on a Sunday evening, ready for the week ahead. They make brilliant 'grab and go' snacks for busy commuters and families alike, and you can use any combination of your favourite nuts, seeds and fruits so have fun experimenting :)

Rustic Fruit & Nut Flapjacks (Dairy-Free / Vegan recipe)
Ingredients (makes around 8-12 depending on how big you want them)
  • 125g Jumbo Oats
  • 80g Medjool Dates (pitted)
  • 120ml Water
  • 50g Almonds (or any nut of your choice)
  • 75g Mixed Seeds (I used a combo of Linseed, Pumpkin and Sunflower)
  • 35g Raisins
  • 2 tbsp Coconut Oil (melted)
  • Pinch of Ground Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Method
  • Line a baking tray or brownie tin with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 180C / Gas mark 4.
  • Add the Medjool Dates and the Water to a food processor or blender and blend until they've formed a sticky paste. 
  • Scoop out the date paste and transfer it to a large bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the Coconut Oil and stir until combined. 
  • Next, add the melted Coconut Oil and again stir thoroughly - everything should now be coming together nicely.
  • Carefully transfer the Flapjack mixture to the lined tray and push everything down as hard as you can, using a spatula to smooth down the top. Try to get the mixture as compact into the tray or tin as possible.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the top starts to turn lightly golden brown.
  • Allow to cool and then cut into slices - enjoy! 

Storage tip: Keep the Flapjacks in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Rustic Fruit & Nut Flapjacks (Dairy-Free / Vegan recipe)
Do you like healthier Flapjacks?

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New In Beauty: Lashes & Nails from Kiss and Leighton Denny - Review & Swatches

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

New In Beauty: Lashes & Nails from Kiss and Leighton Denny - Review & Swatches
June is in full swing and with it often comes numerous social events like graduations and weddings. If you have a big 'do approaching, why not treat yourself to some of the newest launches from Kiss and Leighton Denny to add some extra glam to your day?

Kiss Lash Couture Naked Drama Collection in Chiffon and Lacey
Kiss Lash Couture Naked Drama Collection in Chiffon and Lacey* (£7.99 each, link)

I love wearing false lashes for a special occasion and these newbies from Kiss are so fluttery and beautiful!  I've been a big fan of the brand for a long time and have several of their styles in my makeup drawer, but I have to say that these two designs are some of the best that I've seen them come out with. The Lash Couture Naked Drama Collection is a fantastic range to try if you want high-quality falsies that are easy to wear but still deliver that 'wow' factor (without being OTT). These lashes have been created to mimic a '3D mink effect' without the cruelty, and the softness of the synthetic fibres is really convincing.  

They feature a cushion flexi band which makes them easier than some other brands to apply so ideal for beginners to try out, plus they fit across the lashline well and feel comfortable to wear. Both of these designs have a full and fluffy element to them with lots of volume. Chiffon is a real 'princess' type of lash (wispy, elegant and fluttery), whilst Lacey is more dramatic for a bolder, but still very pretty, statement look (perfect for evenings and nights out). I love them both and they're currently on offer in Boots on a buy one, get one half price deal.

Leighton Denny Wanderlust Collection SS19 - Private Beach and I'm In VIP
Leighton Denny Wanderlust Collection SS19 - Private Beach and I'm In VIP* (12ml, £12 each, link)

For nails, you can't beat a brand new seasonal collection from one of Britain's best, Leighton Denny, of course. His latest range for SS19 is called Wanderlust and features colours that you can wear for the ultimate luxury Summer getaway. There are six new shades to pick up and my two personal favourites are shown below.

Leighton Denny Wanderlust SS19 - Private Beach swatches
 Leighton Denny Wanderlust SS19 - Private Beach

Private Beach is a sophisticated coral peach that I know I'll be wearing all Summer long. The muted pinky element also makes sure that this shade never looks too bright or cheap, and instead, it compliments a tan beautifully and goes with pretty much everything. It applied smoothly in two super easy coats and looks stunning on toes too!

Leighton Denny Wanderlust SS19 - I'm In VIP
Leighton Denny Wanderlust SS19 - I'm In VIP

Fans of clean and chic neutrals will no doubt be snapping up I'm In VIP quicker than you can say add to basket, and it's interesting to see the growing popularity of these always on-trend colours year in, year out. This soft cream nude has a subtle pink undertone which I find more flattering and easier to wear during the Summer months - just add a crisp white shirt with skinny jeans and you're good to go. It's a little tricky to apply as it needs three very thin coats to achieve full opacity, but the extra effort is definitely worth it.

What new Summer beauty products have you been picking up lately?

Currently Loving: 3 Skincare Products To Try This Summer from Wooden Spoon, Fushi & Antipodes

Monday, 10 June 2019

Currently Loving: 3 Skincare Products To Try This Summer
Many people, including myself, like to switch up a couple of their skincare products in the Summer months to accommodate the (hopefully) warmer temperatures. But if you've already added sunscreen to your daily routine, what else can you do? Here are just three skincare products that you could try for a range of different skin types and conditions.

Wooden Spoon Organic Troubled Skin Serum
Try If You Have Oily & Acne Prone Skin: Wooden Spoon Organic Troubled Skin Serum* (30ml, £19.50, link)

Whilst some find that spending extra time in the sun helps to clear up their spots, others often report the exact opposite as excess sebum and sweat production in hotter climates can lead to clogged pores and breakouts.  If your skin has a tendency to freak out when the mercury rises, there are two things which you can do to help; firstly, make sure that you're cleansing your face properly in the evening/before going to bed to remove all traces of sunscreen, makeup and daily grime, and secondly, using a dedicated blemish-fighting serum once or twice a week should make a noticeable difference.

One of the latest serums that I've been testing out recently is Wooden Spoon Troubled Skin Serum which is a brilliant product for oily and acne-prone skin types. This all-natural serum is made from 95% certified organic ingredients and features Tamanu Oil as its main superstar. Tamanu has some interesting anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-microbial and antibacterial properties, and it also helps to heal wounds and regenerate skin tissue, which makes it very useful for treating acne and its scars. 

In addition to the Tamanu Oil, there's also Marula Oil (high in Vitamin C, antioxidants and Oleic Acid), Vitamin E (an essential antioxidant for skin health), Rosemary Extract (helps to fight free radicals and promote collagen production) and Parsley Essential Oil (contains a strong antimicrobial and antiseptic agent)

This serum can be used morning or evening underneath your moisturiser or face oil to protect and treat your skin, and you can use it all over the face, but I tend to just dab a tiny bit directly onto any blemishes. Within 24 hours, it vastly reduces any irritation or redness and within a few days, most spots have been banished or have come to the surface where they are then easier to deal with. Make sure that you use less than you think as it has quite a thick serum/oil texture, so a little definitely goes a long way.

Fushi Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil
Try If You Want A Multi-Tasking Oil That All Skin Types Can Use: Fushi Organic Sea Buckthorn Oil* (50ml, £25, link)

You guys know how much I truly love a great multi-tasking product and this newbie from Fushi has been ticking all the right boxes. Their latest release is a 100% pure, virgin, organic and cold-pressed Sea Buckthorn Oil which is made from berries that have been sustainably grown in Germany. I've been a big fan of Sea Buckthorn as an ingredient in both skin and body care for a long time, and utilising this incredible natural berry is a common and popular practice throughout mainland Europe.

Sea Buckthorn Oil is one of the only plant-based sources that contains all four omegas (Omegas 3, 6, 7 and 9) which makes it beneficial in skincare due to their abilities to fight free radical damage. Omega 7 (also known as Palmitoleic Acid) is particularly revered as it helps to protect and heal damaged skin, whilst other nutrients in the oil such as Carotenoids, Lycopene, Vitamin C and Vitamin E all play their part to further nourish and hydrate the skin, whilst also promoting healthy collagen production. This makes it useful for all skin types, but especially sensitive, mature, and dry complexions will certainly appreciate it.

It's not just good for your skin - it can be applied to hair and scalp to add essential moisture, preventing brittleness and thinning, and you can also take this food-grade Sea Buckthorn Oil as a liquid supplement to internally benefit from its high levels from Vitamin C and abilities to reduce inflammation, support gut health and digestion, keep your skin and eyes healthy and boost your immunity at the same time. 

For skin use, I would recommend mixing a few drops with a carrier oil like Sweet Almond Oil (it has a bright orange colour which gives a very 'tanned' look to the skin, so diluting it will avoid this) and apply it 2-4 times a week, depending on how dry your skin is. For hair, just massage in a small amount directly onto the scalp, leave it on overnight and rinse with shampoo the following morning, and to use as a supplement, simply consume 1-2 teaspoons a day with food. A true multi-tasking oil!

Antipodes Blessing Anti-Pollution Light Face Serum
Try If You Live/Work/Are Travelling In A City: Antipodes Blessing Anti-Pollution Light Face Serum* (30ml, £34.99, link)

Anti-Pollution has been a massive area of interest in skincare circles over the past couple of years, as more research is showing how pollution (such as diesel and petrol emissions from cars) accelerates the rate in which the skin ages, showing up as premature ageing that's visible through fine lines and wrinkles. So if you live or work in a city, or are planning a city break holiday, you may want to add a helping hand into your morning skincare routine.

This new product from Antipodes is called the Blessing Anti-Pollution Light Face Serum, and although it's oil-based, it has a surprisingly super lightweight texture that's more reminiscent of a regular water-based serum. Full of natural ingredients such as Kiwi Seed Oil, Vinanaza Grape, Asian Ginger, Jojoba Oil, Marshmallow Bloom, Avocado Oil and Licquorice Root, this serum packs a punch when it comes to its high antioxidant content to protect skin against the ageing effects of pollution and free radical damage. It also has a decent amount of natural Vitamin C to help brighten dull complexions which is a nice added bonus.

I would recommend applying Blessing first thing in the morning underneath your moisturiser as a protective layer against the elements of the city - it absorbs quickly, smells gorgeous and sits well underneath makeup. 100% natural and vegan-friendly, I'd say that this serum is suitable for all skin types, especially oilier skins who want something ultra-light and non-clogging.

Have you tried any of these?

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May Empties: Products I've Used Up

Monday, 3 June 2019

May Empties: Products I've Used Up
The Empties basket in my bathroom has been overflowing this past month with mainly skincare items, so it's time to dig through the trash and have a quick recap on all of these beauty products that I've recently used up! Let's get stuck in, shall we?

Antipodes Hosanna H2O Intensive Skin-Plumping Serum* (reviewed here)
A solid favourite of mine for a number of years now, this is one of Antipodes' best serums which can be used by all skin types, but benefits dry and dehydrated types the most. I suffer from the latter every now and then, and Hosanna instantly gives my skin what it needs and noticeably plumps it up with each use. It's oil-free too, so great for acne and problem prone complexions to try. Repurchase? Will do once I've used up some other serums first.

Aveda Daily Light Guard Defense Fluid SPF 30* (reviewed here)
Another skin care product that I've been using for a long time is Aveda's bestselling Daily Light Guard Defense Flud SPF 30. I originally reviewed it back in 2016 and I've repurchased it every Summer since, though I do tend to use it all year round. It lasts ages and works well underneath makeup without peeling or flaking off. Repurchase? Yes.

Madara Age Defense Day Cream* (reviewed here)
A brilliant anti-ageing moisturiser for anyone who wants something lighter and easily absorbed in texture than most anti-ageing formulas (which can be on the thick and heavy side of the skincare spectrum), but still retaining its hydrating properties. I've gone through at least three tubes of this stuff! Repurchase? I'm testing out some others at the moment, but I'm sure you'll see it again in a future Empties post.

Weleda Skin Food (reviewed here)
I always have at least two or three tubes of Weleda's iconic Skin Food somewhere in my house; one's usually in the bathroom, one mini like this in my handbag, and the other is often by my bedside table. If you've yet to try it, it's an ultra thick, seriously moisturising multi-purpose product that can be applied anywhere and everywhere to deeply hydrate. Repurchase? Yes.
May Empties: Products I've Used Up
Kueshi Double Effect Makeup Remover
I can't remember where this came from, possibly a GWP or a beauty box?! Anyhow, it's a Spanish brand and I really enjoyed using it. It's one of those dual-phase, shake-them-up formulas and it removed all traces of waterproof eye makeup without any tugging or irritation. Repurchase? I haven't seen it in the UK yet but I'd definitely pick it up again in Spain!

Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream(reviewed here)
Here's another Antipodes product that I've been using for a few years now and still very much love. This Nourishing Night Cream is very hydrating and always leaves my skin so soft come the morning. One jar will last me a good couple of months as you only need to use a tiny amount. Repurchase? Yes.

DHC Cleansing Oil (reviewed here)
I promised myself that I was going to go through my minis stash and use more of those up, and then I end up with mostly full-sized empties instead - hey-ho! Well, I did finish off a travel size DHC Cleansing Oil which I used as a first cleanse to remove makeup and SPF. Brilliant stuff, it gets rid of everything and doesn't leave your skin feeling greasy afterwards. Repurchase? Already have another in my stash.

True Organic Of Sweden All You Need Is Me Balm (reviewed here)
A friend bought this for me when she was in Sweden over Christmas and I've only just used it up as a tiny amount goes such a long way! I've used this before in the past and it's basically an all-natural and organic version of Vaseline, so you can use it on chapped lips and dry cuticles etc. Repurchase? I can't seem to find anywhere that stocks this in the UK sadly :(

May Empties: Products I've Used Up
Handmade Naturals Face Cleansing Lotion(reviewed here)
You can never go wrong with a good quality, affordable everyday cleansing lotion and this one from Handmade Naturals has a short but sweet ingredients list. Lovely gentle formula, it's great for removing makeup, and daily grime, as well as being a really nice morning cleanser if you prefer to use light cream formulas. Repurchase? Will do once I've used up some other cleansers first.

Phyto 9 Nourishing Hair Day Cream (reviewed here)
Finally, a haircare product! I picked this up in the Black Friday sale from a local salon, but I've used it a couple of times in the past. Again, it's another one lasts a long time and I highly recommend it as a leave-in conditioner/treatment for anyone who has very dry, damaged or fine hair because it adds moisture without weighing your tresses down. Repurchase? Yes.

Tropic Wild Mint, Lime and Pineapple Body Wash (reviewed here)
Another sale bargain that I couldn't resist picking up when I saw it on offer, Tropic's Wild Mint, Lime and Pineapple Body Wash is like a holiday cocktail that you slather on in the shower! I love the rich, creamy formula which is very similar to the ones that Weleda do, but in a different scent. Repurchase? Will definitely buy it again when it's on offer.

Rosenrot Festes Koko Shampoo
Finally, my last empty is sadly a disappointing one because I've been trying to find a solid shampoo bar that works for my hair to no avail, and this one just wasn't compatible either. My friend sent it from Germany and I'll probably use it up to clean my makeup brushes with. Repurchase? No.

What have you used up recently?

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