April Empties: Products I've Used Up

Monday, 30 April 2018

It's that time of the month again where I share my recent Empties with you all, so here's everything that I've used up recently and whether I'll be repurchasing them again or not.

Rossi Intense Rejuvenation Rose & Pink Clay Face Mask*
This is the second jar that I've managed to use up and I absolutely love it! It's got a fantastic 100% natural formula that uses a clay base to draw out impurities and unclog pores, but it also has other ingredients which make it feel hydrating and nourishing afterwards. So if you're looking for a clay mask that won't strip or dry out your skin, this one is a must try. Repurchase? Yes.

Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo
I picked this up during Aveda's Christmas sale and whilst it did a good job of cleaning my hair, I much prefer the other conditioning products and treatments in this same range for their repairing abilities. I didn't notice much of a difference by using this shampoo on its own. Repurchase? No.

Alucia Organics Calm Balm*
I feel like I've had this in my skincare stash forever - they really weren't kidding when they said a little goes a long way! This multi-purpose balm is packed full of soothing ingredients to calm any irritation, whilst keeping dry skin moisturised at the same time. Great for eczema flare-ups and excellent value for money considering how long it lasts! Repurchase? Yes.

Herbfarmacy Rose & Mallow Facial Oil*
One of my favourite face oils, I think this is my second bottle now. Perfect to try if you have sensitive skin that needs something which is hydrating, nourishing and softening, plus it helps to boost radiance too, so it's also ideal if your skin is looking a little grey or dull. Repurchase? I have too many other face oils open at the moment that I'm working my way through, but I'll definitely buy it again at some point in the future. 

CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray
Another good product that I recommend for eczema flare-ups is this multi-purpose spray that you can use all over the face and body. It has lots of natural anti-inflammatory ingredients and absorbs quickly into the skin, providing instant soothing relief. You don't need to use much per application, so I'd suggest picking up their travel size bottle if you fancy trying it. Repurchase? Yes. 

Green People Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF 30*
I love this SPF from Green People, and although I have used it on my face with good results, I tend to stick with it as more of an all-over body sunscreen. Feels moisturising, doesn't irritate my skin or leave it feeling sticky, and basically does the job with really good organic ingredients. Repurchase? Yes.

This Works Deep Sleep Stress Less
I'm a terrible sleeper but I find that this does help me to relax and get off to sleep sooner than I usually would, especially if I've been feeling stressed out or anxious during the day. Very easy to use as it's a rollerball, so you can just dab a bit onto pulse points like the wrists, breathe in and relax.  Repurchase? Yes.

Which beauty products have you used up this month?

Green Beauty: LoveLula Beauty Box - April 2018 review

Friday, 27 April 2018

LoveLula Beauty Box - April 2018 review
The LoveLula beauty boxes are such a treat to receive every month and April's edition is another fine selection of natural and cruelty-free products. Want to take a closer look at what's inside?

LoveLula Beauty Box - April 2018 review
Dr Botanicals Kale Superfood Nourishing Day Moisturiser (30ml, RRP £14.99)
Dr Botanicals are a new brand to me, and they're also new to the LoveLula website so there are two products from them in the box this month for subscribers to try out. The Kale Superfood Nourishing Day Moisturiser helps to smoothe and improve the appearance of your skin, whilst providing essential nourishment and hydration. And yes, as the name suggests, it does contain Kale extract which is high in vitamins C and E to help protect the skin from the elements. I've only been using it for a week so far, so early days yet, but I like the texture and it does feel hydrating, without being too much for my combination skin. 99.9% natural and vegan-friendly. 

Dr Botanicals Coffee Superfood Renewing Facial Exfoliator (30ml, RRP £14.90)
The second Dr Botanicals product is a pretty awesome manual facial exfoliator. It contains Green Coffee Oil (high in antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids) and finely crushed Walnut Shell Powder to gently polish away dull dead skin cells, leaving the complexion looking instantly brighter. It feels gentle but effective, and has a lovely texture that's also rather nourishing! A fab new addition to my skincare routine. 100% natural and vegan-friendly.

LoveLula Beauty Box - April 2018 review
INIKA Certified Organic Cream Eye Shadow in Champagne (full size, RRP £21)
Worth £21 on its own, this Certified Organic Cream Eyeshadow from INIKA comes in a super pretty shimmery champagne shade that quickly brightens your eyes. It adds a subtle sheen of colour to the lids, and I'd even say that you could try using this as a liquid highlighter on the tops of the cheekbones as well for some extra glow to your look. It's easy to squeeze out a tiny bit through the nozzle applicator, dabbing and blending onto the eyelids with your fingers, or for a slightly more intensified look, you can pack it on with an eyeshadow brush instead.

Balm Balm Little Miracle Rosehip Balm (full size, RRP £12)
My favourite product from this month's box is the newest release from Balm Balm; their Little Miracle Rosehip Balm which really is amazing stuff! This fantastic multi-purpose balm can be used anywhere and everywhere to give your skin some TLC when it needs it the most. It features a deeply rich and hydrating mix of Rosehip, Jojoba and Borage Oils, expertly blended into Balm Balm's classic Balm base. There's also a range of essential oils added, such as Frankincense, Rose Geranium, Palmarosa, Juniper and Mandarin, to thoroughly pamper the skin from top to toe.

MADARA Skincare Samples
Lastly, there's a sample skincare set from MADARA which includes three of their bestselling products to try out; Cleansing Milk, Brightening AHA Peel Mask and Smart Antioxidants Fine Line Minimising Day Cream.

LoveLula Beauty Box* is a monthly subscription box priced at £13.95 with free postage in the UK. Visit lovelula.com to find out more.

Have you subscribed to LoveLula's Beauty Box?

Skincare Helpers from Hope's Relief for Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Skincare Helpers from Hope's Relief for Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis
The arrival of Spring can trigger flare-ups for those who suffer from inflammatory dry skin conditions such as Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis, but help is on hand from the natural brand, Hope's Relief.

If you've been following my blog for a while now, you'll probably already know that I've had eczema since I was a child and it's been an upward battle trying to find products that help with flare-ups which aren't loaded with steroids and petroleum. Thankfully, I've been fortunate enough to be able to have tried and tested numerous products over the years, and through a lot of this trial and error, I've discovered that my skin reacts a lot better to more soothing and natural formulas, than it ever did to the steroids-heavy prescription creams that my GP would give me. 

One brand that I've often recommended to fellow eczema sufferers who are looking for a natural alternative is Hope's Relief, and during a recent flare-up due to the change of season (and probably some exam related stress!), I've been able to put these two products below through their paces.

Skincare Helpers from Hope's Relief for Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis
Hope's Relief Topical Moisturising Spray* (90ml, £15.95, link)
This multi-purpose topical spray offers fast-acting relief for those times when your skin is feeling horribly dry and itchy, and is ideal for anyone who has generally sensitised/irritated skin, as well as those who are prone to Eczema, Psoriasis and Dermatitis. The formula is made from 98.5% natural ingredients and includes Calendula, Aloe Vera, Tea Tree and Borage Oils, to quickly cool, soothe and calm itchy, irritated skin in a matter of minutes. 

Free from steroids, fragrances, SLS, parabens, paraffin, lanolin and petrochemicals, I've found this spray very easy to use, especially on larger surface areas as a light spritz is all you need to cover it, so it would be great for babies and young children who won't let you put creams on them. You can use them anywhere on the body, but I'd recommend spraying it onto a cotton pad first if you want to use it on your face, so that you don't get any in or around your eyes.

Hope's Relief Itchy Flaky Scalp Soothing Conditioner* (200ml, £16.99, link)
It can be easy to forget about the skin on your scalp, and many people who have eczema also experience sensitivities and dryness on their scalps which can lead to unbearable itchiness. I always suggest cutting out SLS in your haircare to see if that helps first, but if you're looking for an additional specialised product, this Itchy Flaky Scalp Soothing Conditioner can certainly lend a helping hand! Virtually everyone can use this (including babies as a treatment for Cradle Cap) and it's highly suitable for those who have Eczema, Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff problems. 

Being fragrance-free, pH balanced and hypoallergenic, it's a very gentle but effective formula which contains hospital grade Organic Manuka Honey UMF 10+, Gotu Kola, Aloe Vera and Calendula, to soothe the scalp and condition the hair. To use it after shampooing, I simply massage a generous amount into my scalp, leave it to do its magic for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out. Afterwards, my scalp feels much happier and less tight and dry, with the 'no itchy' feeling lasting usually until my next wash (so a few days for me as I only wash my hair twice a week). If you have very dry hair (lengths and ends), you may want to keep it just as a scalp conditioner/treatment as I prefer a much more heavy duty conditioner and this is definitely a lighter conditioning option, but I imagine it would be ideal to use if you wash your hair every day.

Hope's Relief products are available online from LoveLula.com

Have you tried any of these?

4 Must-Try Skincare Products from Caudalie

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

4 Must-Try Skincare Products from Caudalie
Caudalie are one of my favourite French skincare brands, and they're one that is readily available here in the UK. If you're new to the brand and haven't tried anything from them before, here are four of their bestselling products to put you in the right direction.

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser* (50ml travel size shown, full size is 150ml for £15)
With the warmer weather finally on its way, you may notice that your skin doesn't need a heavy cleansing balm or cream cleanser in the morning anymore, and this Instant Foaming Cleanser is perfect to use during Spring and Summer because it feels so lovely and light. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive, this is a brilliant gentle cleanser which is enriched with Chamomile and Grape extracts to soothe and calm any redness. I really like using this as a morning cleanser because it's very refreshing, but you can also use it in the evenings to remove light makeup if desired, though I personally found that it doesn't remove waterproof makeup.  Oh, and don't be put off by the 'foaming' name - there's no harsh SLS or SLES in this, so it won't leave your skin feeling stripped or dry.

4 Must-Try Skincare Products from Caudalie
Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil (150ml, £18)
If you wear a lot of waterproof and/or long-lasting makeup, this clever Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil will effortlessly shift it all for you at the end of a long day. It features a 100% natural formula which includes a blend of plant-based oils including Sunflower Seed, Grape Seed and Sweet Almond, so it's incredibly nourishing on the skin and melts away makeup like it's no big deal. I generally use 2-3 pumps, massage it directly into dry skin and then add some water to emulsify it. A quick once-over with a flannel and some warm water is all you need to get the job done in less than 5 minutes and it works on a charm on waterproof mascara without stinging the eyes - easy peasy!  

Caudalie Glycolic Peel Mask* (75ml, £22)
Caudalie's Glycolic Peel Mask is one of the most gentle products that I've tried when it comes to the sometimes intimidating world of Glycolic Acid treatments, so I'm not surprised to see that it's recommended for all skin types to try. It uses the key actives of Papaya Enzymes and Glycolic Acid to exfoliate the skin without the need for harsh scrubbing (remember this is a 'chemical' exfoliator, not a manual one, so the enzymes and natural acids basically munch away all the dead skin cells on your skin, instead of using scrubby bits to remove them), which helps the skin to look instantly brighter and clearer in just 10 minutes. If you've never used Glycolic Acid before, try this first!

Caudalie Vine[Activ] Overnight Detox Oil* (30ml, £30)
For an anti-ageing facial oil with a difference, the Vine[Activ] Overnight Detox Oil boasts an innovative 100% plant-based formula which helps to promote healthy cellular renewal and eliminate toxins from the skin. Infused with Grapeseed that's naturally high in anti-oxidants, there's also Rosehip Oil, Neroli, Lavender and Carrot Oils in this mix to purify, regenerate, and soothe skin that's frequently exposed to stress, pollution, UV's and other free radicals. What I like the most about this oil is that it has a dry oil style texture, so it's one that I often recommend to people who don't like the feel of a heavy or greasy oil on their skin. Instead, this one sinks in quickly, yet still feels nourishing and leaves the skin feeling super soft and smooth. Lovely to use as the last step in your evening skincare routine. 

*Special thanks to Love Me Beauty for sending this box to me!

Have you tried any of these?

Currently Loving: Zessoo Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian Bracelets review

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Zessoo Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian Bracelets review
Ever since I was a teenager, I've been mesmerised by gemstones and crystals, reading countless books about their meanings and cultural associations. Naturally, my jewellery collection reflects the beauty of these natural stones, and two of my latest additions come from the cruelty-free fashion brand, Zessoo.

You may remember my original post last month about Zessoo and their amazing vegan-friendly wallets which are made from leaves (yes, really - check out that feature here if you missed it!), and I was over the moon when the founder AJ Joshi asked me if I'd like to review some of their jewellery as they have a huge range of gemstone bracelets. 

Each bracelet is made from stones that are 100% natural (never tinted, dyed or made of recomposed material) which are sourced worldwide from areas such as South East Asia, Brazil and Africa. Once found, the stones are cut and polished in India, and then sent to Thailand to be hand-strung onto high-quality 4-ply elastic bands to ensure long-lasting durability. It's worth noting that Zessoo works only with suppliers that can guarantee traceability and high ethical standards along the whole production chain, from extraction to cutting, and then polishing and stringing, so you know that everyone who makes these has been treated humanely and fairly.

Zessoo Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian Bracelets review
With such a wide range of bracelets to choose from, I decided to pick two that featured stones that I didn't already have in my jewellery collection; Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian.

Black Onyx is often seen as a strong protective stone, one that helps to shield a person's body and mind from negative energy, as well as helping to ground them in the here and now. It helps to prevent the draining of personal energy during times of emotional turmoil such as periods of stress, confusion or grief. 

I was immediately drawn to the beautiful and unique pattern of Snowflake Obsidian, which is a volcanic glass that's created when lava cools down. Revered as a stone of purity, many believe that it has healing properties which can help to balance the mind, body and spirit, calming the senses and clearing built up toxins that can prevent the flow of positive energy.  

Zessoo Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian Bracelets review
rudraksha seed (in Gold or Natural) is added to each bracelet, and these are harvested from trees growing in the foothills of the Himalayas. Like semi-precious gemstones, they're highly valued for their protective and healing virtues and have been traditionally used as prayer beads for centuries in Hinduism (the name translates as 'Lord Shiva's teardrops'). Rudraksha seeds are believed to increase concentration, clarity, memory and bring peace of mind and prosperity, as well as providing spiritual and mental guidance in meditation.

I was absolutely smitten when the bracelets arrived because they looked and felt more incredible in real life than I was expecting. The high-shine glossy finish on the stones is superb, and I've had so many compliments and questions about them from friends and family! If you're looking for some new gemstone bracelets, definitely check these out.

Zessoo Black Onyx and Snowflake Obsidian Bracelets* (£29 each) are available from zessoo.com

Do you like gemstone jewellery?

New In Beauty: Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero + Exclusive Reader Discount Code!

Monday, 23 April 2018

Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
Fed up with premade palettes that always seem to have at least one shade that you never, ever use? Fancy building your own perfect eyeshadow palette instead? The latest makeup release from Phase Zero lets you do just that!  

Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
Last month, I introduced you all to the shiny new world of Phase Zero cosmetics (check out that post on their amazing Liquid Lipsticks here if you missed it), which is the new cruelty-free makeup range that's available exclusively from Love Me Beauty

If you'd like to get your hands on Phase Zero, you'll want to subscribe to Love Me Beauty for £5 per month (less than the price of a latte and a sandwich from Starbucks!) to get the best deals. This allows you to purchase any Phase Zero makeup at much more affordable prices, with up to 77% off the RRP. As the range is new, they are adding products on a monthly basis, so currently there's a range of Liquid Lipsticks, Lip Glosses, Lip Toppers, and these latest Eyeshadows for their Build Your Own Palette concept. 

Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zerolove Build Your Own Palettes because I often find that many premade palettes have at least one shade that I'm unlikely to wear, and I hate feeling like I've wasted money on a product that I'm never going to use. A number of makeup brands now offer BYO palettes, but naturally, they're often a lot more expensive than the premade ones, so it's great to come across one like this that's easier on the old purse strings!

Let's get this party started with a quick overview of the palette itself (£4.80 member's price). The front design has a cool holographic style print alongside the Phase Zero logo, and it feels very much like a Z Palette. It's sturdy yet compact, and has a large mirror on the reverse of the lid inside. Opening it, you'll find space for up to 12 Phase Zero eyeshadows, although I would only recommend it for 11 at most as it's quite a snug fit for all 12. The eyeshadows are on magnetic bases, so you all you need to do is select which ones you want, and then they'll automatically stick inside the palette. 

You can buy the eyeshadows in a range of colours, and currently, everything available has more of a neutral vibe going on, with some stunning metallics in the mix. The eyeshadows are available to purchase singularly (£2.90 each, member's price), in duos (£5 member's price), trios (£6.99 member's price), and in sets of 6 (£9.99 member's price)

I have 12 of the eyeshadow shades to show you below to give you an idea of what's on offer:-

Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
 From L-R: Party Dress, Pearl, Cashmere and Snowball

  • Party Dress - A gorgeous dark grey/black with lots of silver glitter. Seriously pigmented!
  • Pearl - Beautiful, glowy pearly-pink shimmer that looks very pretty all over the lid.
  • Cashmere - A rusty coppery-pink with fine gold shimmer and a sheer satin finish.
  • Snowball - Pale white highlight with a bright golden shimmer. 
Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
 From L-R: Banana Beige, Nude Newbie, Bright Light, Coffee Cup

  • Banana Beige - Golden sheer satin with yellow undertones. Quite pale on my olive skin tone.
  • Nude Newbie - Light pink shimmer, again this pulls very light on my olive skin tone.
  • Bright Light - Super pigmented white highlighter shade - look at that shimmer!
  • Coffee Cup - Beautiful rich chocolate brown with fine gold shimmer.
Build Your Own Eyeshadow Palette with Phase Zero
From L-R: Cocoa, Warm Taupe, Velvet, Mush-a-Boom

  • Cocoa - Mid-brown shimmer with warm undertones, lovely crease shade to add definition.
  • Warm Taupe - Gorgeous soft taupe shade with a golden satin sheen finish. Beautiful all over the lid.
  • Velvet - Incredible warm purple with red undertones and golden shimmer, absolutely stunning and insanely pigmented!
  • Mush-a-Boom - Warm grey taupey shade with subtle shimmer.

Overall thoughts?
These eyeshadows have been some of my most reached for over the past month and I think they're all fantastic quality that's comparable to the likes of MAC and Urban Decay. There are definitely a couple of shades that I'm completely in love with (Pearl, Coffee Cup, Cocoa, Warm Taupe, Velvet and Mush-a-Boom), and they all have a silky soft formula that makes them easy to blend and work with. 

Some of the paler shades like Banana Beige, Nude Newbie and Bright Light don't do a lot for my skin tone, but I think they would work well for others. The only shade that I struggled with was Snowball as the formula was a little too soft and I experienced a lot of fallout with it, but there are enough shades here to keep me happy and there are plenty more to choose from on the Love Me Beauty website!

Exclusive reader discount code: use EVELYN5 to get £5 off your first purchase!


Phase Zero* is available exclusively online at lovemebeauty.com

What do you think of Phase Zero? Will you be subscribing?

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Foodie Friday: Brazillionaires Shortbread (Meridian recipe / Vegan)

Friday, 20 April 2018

This twist on the classic Billionaire's Shortbread makes good use of one of the most underrated types of nut butter (Brazil Nut Butter) and is easily made with just six ingredients.

I was in the mood for something that was a little bit biscuity, a little bit chocolatey and a little bit nutty the other day, and found this recipe online which ticked all of those boxes! Created by Meridian Foods, it uses their amazing Brazil Nut Butter as a tasty key ingredient, and no, this post isn't sponsored (although if Meridian want to get in touch, you guys know how to email me!), I just absolutely love Brazil Nut Butter and rarely see it mentioned anywhere, so I felt compelled to give it a shoutout!  

Although this recipe is a no-bake one, it does require some freezing time to set everything together, but it doesn't take too long and the results are well worth the wait. These are perfect for popping into your lunchbox or nibbling on when you're feeling peckish, and you can cut them up into bars or smaller chunks to suit your snacking needs.

Brazillionaires Shortbread (Meridian recipe / Vegan)
Ingredients: (makes around 10-15 pieces depending on how big you want them)

  • 100g Raw Whole Oats
  • 100g Ground Almond
  • 2tbsp Agave or Date Nectar
  • 50g Coconut Oil
  • 90g Brazil Nut Butter
  • 100g vegan Dark Chocolate

Method:
  • Line a loaf tin or similar sized tupperware with greaseproof paper. 
  • Whizz the Oats in a blender until they are a similar consistency to the Ground Almonds. Add the Agave Nectar and the Ground Almonds to the blender, whizz again and then add 3 tbsp of cold water. Blend until the mixture starts to form clumps.
  • Press the blended mixture into the lined tin and freeze while you make the next layer.
  • Melt the Coconut Oil and combine with the Brazil Nut Butter. Spread over the frozen oat base and return the tin to the freezer.
  • Break the Dark Chocolate up into chunks and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water to melt. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  • When the Brazil Nut layer has set, pour over the melted Dark Chocolate and spread to the edges. Place it back into the freezer for an hour. Remove and cut into bite-sized pieces. Enjoy!

Storage: Keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week.

Brazillionaires Shortbread (Meridian recipe / Vegan)
Have you ever tried Brazil Nut Butter?

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Green Beauty: 3 Luxury Pampering Treats To Try From MOA (Magic Organic Apothecary)

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

3 Luxury Pampering Treats To Try From MOA
If you're a beauty box fan, you may have already tried MOA's most well known and best-selling product, The Green Balm, but there's more to the brand than just a pot of multipurpose balmy goodness, as you'll soon discover below.

MOA stands for Magic Organic Apothecary and if that's not reason enough to check out this brand, I don't know what is! Amongst the cool name, the beautiful packaging, and the 100% natural formulas (everything from MOA is free from parabens, artificial preservatives, perfume, alcohol, SLS and lanolin), there are some gorgeous luxury products to be found throughout MOA's small, but heavenly range. 

I picked up these three luxury pampering treats online from LoveLula last month, and instantly fell in love with this wonderfully English green beauty brand. 

3 Luxury Pampering Treats To Try From MOA
MOA Fortifying Green Bath Potion* (100ml, £27.50, link)
The Green Bath Potion has something of a cult following amongst the LoveLula Natural Beauty Club (come join us on Facebook here), and it really is a magical bath potion to help soothe away the day's emotional stresses and physical aches and pains. The key ingredients in this are Peppermint, Fennel, Fir Needle, Yarrow and Sweet Birch, so it smells very minty and herbal which is ideal for clearing the sinuses if you've been suffering from a cold or the flu recently. It's a very potent and concentrated product, and for each bath, you only need to use one or two capfuls (I'd recommend starting off with one at first as it's quite strong if you're not used to it!). Breathe in the aroma and feel uplifted and relaxed within minutes. Bliss!

MOA Hello Sunshine Energising Body Oil* (150ml, £22.50, link
I love a good pampering body oil, and Hello Sunshine is the perfect way to put you in a positive mood for the day thanks to its incredible scent. Packed full of active ingredients, this exquisite blend contains lots of skin nourishing oils such as Sunflower Seed, Rapeseed, Olive and Sesame Seed to moisturise and soften dry skin, whilst Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Lemongrass, Pine and Peppermint essential oils provide a delightfully zesty and slightly woody aroma, to help wake you up and revitalise the senses. A must-try for anyone who enjoys using body oils in the morning.

MOA Dreamy Mineral Soak review
MOA Dreamy Mineral Soak* (400g, £25, link)
Drift off to a peaceful night's sleep with the help of this Dreamy Mineral Soak for the bath. Composed of a base of mineral-rich Himalayan Pink and Sea Salt to draw out toxins, this salt bath also helps to boost your circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite, whilst the infusion of Lavender, Pine, Lemon Peel and Cardamon essential oils, all promote relaxation of the mind, easing away stress and giving your skin a purifying cleanse at the same time. I did notice a little bit of a residue on my skin after using this, but it didn't dry it out or leave me super wrinkly so I wasn't too bothered. I absolutely love the scent of this bath soak and a couple of handfuls is more than enough for a full-on relaxing and pampering experience in the tub.   

Have you tried any of these?

Women's Health: Femna Confusion Infusion Herbal Tea for PMS review

Monday, 16 April 2018

Healthy Living: Femna Confusion Infusion Herbal Tea for PMS/Mood Swings review
PMS is the bane of many menstruating women's lives, but can a natural herbal tea really help with those pesky monthly mood swings? 

I've suffered from PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) ever since I started my periods at the age of 11, and it's been one hell of a rollercoaster to ride into adulthood. My symptoms tend to vary in their extremities from month to month; I may manage to 'get away' with just a few 'mild' annoyances like breakouts, bloating, headaches and feeling more tired than usual, but then I have times when I experience full-blown PMS to the point where I find it incredibly difficult to get out of bed due to migraines, nausea and feeling depressed. 

I'm lucky enough to have a local female GP who understands periods and PMS, and for people who have the milder to moderate symptoms, a few tweaks in your daily life such as eating a more balanced and healthier diet, and doing more exercise, can make a big difference to managing the worst of PMS. However, one symptom that I've always struggled with has been mood swings, so I was interested to see what natural alternatives were out there to help with these. 

Whilst I was researching online, an email popped up in my inbox from an independent wellbeing brand called Femna, and it was like the universe was putting us in touch! Spooky, eh?!

Healthy Living: Femna Confusion Infusion Herbal Tea for PMS/Mood Swings review
Femna are a small Berlin-based company who specialises in women's well-being, and they've developed a range of natural teas and products to help in the areas of PMS, menstruation, fertility, pregnancy and menopause. Founded by two young social entrepreneurs, Maxie and Emily, these two women are committed to helping other females in a more holistic and natural manner, rather than the traditional Western approach which sees women popping countless pills and not really fully understanding what's happening to their own bodies.

When I browsed their products, a pop-up questionnaire appeared at the bottom of the left-hand side of their website, with some short statements about PMS and how you feel when you have it. Typically, I ended up ticking 'all of the above', and was re-directed to the Confusion Infusion Tea.  I was curious to see if it would help with my mood swings, and Femna kindly sent me a sample to try.

The Confusion Infusion Tea* is blend of beneficial anti-inflammatory herbs to help with general PMS and mood swings. It contains Lady's Mantle, Yarrow, St John's Wort, Lemon Balm, Silverweed and Peppermint to help calm the mind, soothe menses pain and brighten your overall mood. The tea is a loose-leaf one, so you just need to add two teaspoons to 200ml boiling water, infuse, strain and enjoy. You can drink 2-3 cups a day during the week before your period is due for the most noticeable results. It tastes similar to Green Tea strangely enough which I found pleasant and can be taken warm or cold, although I would recommend warm for the best soothing benefits. 

Overall thoughts?
This tea did seem to help a little with my PMS mood swing symptoms. I didn't notice any huge changes, but I did feel a bit less snappy and my housemates kindly commented that I was 'less moody than usual' which is a firm positive! I'll certainly finish up the bag and consider repurchasing it in the future.

Femna Confusion Infusion Herbal Tea* (€8.90, 50g which makes 25-20 cups of tea) is available from femna.eu)

Have you tried anything like this for PMS?

P.S: Always visit your GP for professional advice if you're struggling with PMS, depression or anything else, and remember that you can request to see a different GP if you feel that the first one you see isn't listening or taking you seriously. Trust me, I've been there and it's always worth the effort to find the right GP to help you.

New In Beauty: Tropic Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut Luxury Bath Foam & Soothe The Senses Bath Soak review

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Tropic Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut Luxury Bath Foam & Soothe The Senses Bath Soak review
Tropic have been busy with some brand new releases lately, two of which are these heavenly scented, luxury pampering treats for the bath. Now, who doesn't enjoy indulging in a long soak in the tub?

It's been a busy week of revising for Uni exams, which has left me feeling pretty run down and stressed to be honest, but the weekend is fast approaching - hooray! I have Gin in the cupboard and I'm going to be making the most of my free time, with plenty of self-care planned. At the top of my pamper list are these two luxury bath products from Tropic, which I've been loving since they were launched last month. If you're in the mood to truly spoil yourself, you'll want to pick up at least one of them for your own bathroom!

Tropic Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut Luxury Bath Foam & Soothe The Senses Bath Soak review
Tropic Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut Luxury Bath Foam(260ml, £18, link)
Tropic darling, you had me at the words 'Tahitian Vanilla and Coconut' - I mean, can you think of any scents that remind you more of tropical islands than those two? I'm pleased to report that this Luxury Bath Foam smells as good as it sounds, and once you try it, you'll want to bathe in it every day. Seriously, it's one of the most addictive scents that I've ever smelt! 

The fragrance comes naturally from Vanilla and Coconut Extracts, but there's some Sweet Orange and Grapefruit Oils in the blend to make it even more deliciously tropical. This 100% natural bubble bath is one of those products that I've been looking for, for such a long time, as it's SLS free, yet creates a decent amount of lovely bubbles thanks to Coconut-derived cleansers. For a bath, I'll use 1-2 capfuls, but you can use 3 if you want an even more bubbly experience. It leaves my skin feeling soft afterwards and your whole bathroom will smell like a tropical island spa.

Tropic Soothe The Senses Bath Soak* (260ml, £38, link)
For something even more luxurious, the Soothe The Senses Bath Soak is something that I imagine pampered princesses using on a regular basis to delicately soften and scent their skin. This Limited Edition product is a welcome addition to Tropic's Soothe The Senses range and it truly smells like heaven on earth. 

Featuring a range of plant-based oils such as Macadamia, Sweet Almond, Coconut and Sunflower Seed, this oil-to-milk formula instantly transforms when added to the water, into a decadent bath milk that moisturises and nourishes the skin. It also contains a range of therapeutic aromatherapy oils like Cedarwood Essential Oil which helps to ground and comfort the mind, Lemon, Mandarin and Sweet Orange to brighten and uplift, and Frangipani to relax and soothe. A splurge-worthy purchase for those who want to soak away the day's stresses in the best possible way.

P.S These are both packaged in plastic for health and safety reasons.

Have you tried anything from Tropic?

Currently Loving: Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Seductive Beauty - Review & Swatches

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Seductive Beauty - Review & Swatches
On my beauty wishlist, you'll find a lot of Charlotte Tilbury products, such is my obsession with her makeup. The insanely popular Instant Look In A Palettes have been on my radar ever since they launched about two years ago, and now I finally have one!

The story of how this came into my possession is a straightforward one; after one too many glasses of Rioja on a cold, rainy evening last month, I found myself browsing the Charlotte Tilbury website after seeing an offer on Instagram from an online friend who sent me a £15 off voucher code. Bizarrely, I've never ordered directly from the site before, despite having an arsenal of Charlotte Tilbury makeup in my beauty drawers, so I was determined to make good use of this first customer discount.

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Seductive Beauty - Review & Swatches
The wine gave me the courage to splurge and splurge I did. To be fair, I had been on a no-buy for three months prior so it wasn't too bad for my bank balance. I added to my basket an online-only lip liner and lipstick duo and then my attention was drawn back to the gorgeous Instant Look In A Palettes. I'm a sucker for a pretty palette as many of my regular readers will know, and with three colourways to choose from, I did a little online swatch checking and decided to go for Seductive Beauty which I'm absolutely smitten with. 

It arrived promptly with the rest of my order and to say it was love at first sight, is an understatement. 

The Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palettes have all been cleverly designed so that you have the majority of your makeup curated together in one palette hence the 'instant look' name. The idea behind it is that you can do your makeup quickly and easily, simply by following the numbers in order - perfect for beginners and those who are unsure of what colours go with what - it's super convenient and you only need to add your foundation, mascara and a lippie, and you're good to go!

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Seductive Beauty - Review & Swatches
The palettes are beautifully packaged as you'd expect from Charlotte Tilbury. The outside is kept minimal and classy with her signature logo, and inside there's a huge mirror which is a firm selling point for me as you can just (carefully) throw this into your bag without worrying about packing much else. Overall, it feels luxurious, sturdy, is a relatively compact size (great for travel), and there are no annoying brushes taking up valuable makeup space, so you get excellent sized pans of product, compared to most palettes from other brands.

As you can see, Seductive Beauty is the palette to go for if you love your neutrals!

The top row of Seductive Beauty features three shimmery eyeshadow shades:
  • Eye Brighten - a light, peachy-beige with an almost frosty, but fine golden shimmer. Ideal for the inner corner to make your eyes look more awake.
  • Eye Enhance -  this is one of those gorgeous medium-taupey browns that looks amazing as an all-over the lid shade and again, it has a hint of fine golden shimmer. 
  • Eye Smoke - richly pigmented, this is a killer medium-dark brown to smoke out your eyes with and it has a little golden shimmer for good measure.

All of the eyeshadows apply smoothly without any fallout issues. They blend easily and can be layered up for a more intense look if desired, but are equally as pretty for softer, everyday looks as well. I always wear an eyeshadow primer underneath as I have oily lids, though I have tested them on my sister who never wears a primer and they lasted on her well throughout the day without creasing.

For the second row, we have four pans:
  • Face Bronze - this is darker than the bronzer in Charlotte Tilbury's Bronze and Glow palette and actually suits my light olive skin tone a lot more, as it's a medium shade with slightly reddish undertones and a little fine golden shimmer. Blends so nicely on the skin without ever looking muddy, but is quite soft and pigmented, so you need to tap off the excess from your brush before applying.
  • Cheek Swish - a warm, light-medium pinky blush with a bright coral quality to it. Has some lovely golden shimmer running through it which gives the cheeks an instant glow.
  • Cheek Pop - this is a more medium rosy pink that compliments the Cheek Swish shade well, but can easily be worn on its own of course. Both of these blusher shades are so easy to work with and blend out effortlessly.
  • Highlight - a pale golden shimmer with a warm peachy undertone. Incredibly pretty for a more natural glow to the face - it's not going to give you a highlight that you can see from a million miles away!

Overall thoughts? 
I've seen some mixed reviews of the Instant Look In A Palettes, with most of the negativity being directed at the quality not being the same as Charlotte's stand-alone products, an issue that often comes up for many brands who make palettes like this. To be honest though, I can't see a huge difference between them, other than perhaps the powders in this palette being a fraction less pigmented and perhaps a little bit drier than the stand-alone bronzers, highlighters and blushers. Even if that's the case, it's still a beautifully put together palette with products that are easy and enjoyable to work with. 

If you want some Charlotte Tilbury in your life, but don't necessarily have the cash to splash on all the separate products, I think the palettes are a great way to try a lot of shades out and they are amazing for travel too. Neutral lovers definitely need to pick up Seductive Beauty!

Charlotte Tilbury Instant Look In A Palette in Seductive Beauty* (£49) from charlottetilbury.com

Have you tried out any of these palettes?

Tried & Tested: Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review (results on Dark Brown Hair)

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Henna hair dye is something that I've only used once in my life, and it was such a messy experience that I vowed to never use it again. Of course, now that I'm a bit older and perhaps a little wiser with my product choices, I decided the time was right for me to re-experiment with this ancient form of hair colour.

My hair is naturally dark brown which rather limits my colouring options, unless I want to bleach it to lighten it first. I did this a lot throughout my teenage years whilst at college, and although I had a lot of fun, I ended up completely ruining my hair to the point where it was snapping off every time I tried to drag a brush through it, so you could say my love affair with bleach ended at that point! For the next couple of years, I let my hair recover and didn't use any dyes on it during this period.

However, when I reached my late 20s, I started to see some inevitable grey hairs starting to appear here and there, so I decided to seek out some natural hair dye alternatives. I've tried numerous brands with varying levels of success, and have mostly stuck with a basic semi-permanent dark brown shade to match my natural colour. Lately though, I've been craving a bit of a change and after some late night online browsing, I stumbled across Saacch Organics.

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review



Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Sacch Organics are an all-natural haircare brand that specialises in plant-based hair colours which can be used on all hair types and by all ages. They're particularly useful for those who have sensitive and hypersensitive skin, as well as consumers who are looking for dyes that are free from the common irritants of PPD (Para-Phenylenediamine), Ammonia and Peroxides, which are regularly found in most mainstream hair dyes. 

Instead, Sacch Organics use a 100% naturally derived formula based on herbs that are grown and harvested to Ayurvedic traditions. Indigo Leaf Powder and Natural Henna form the base of this powdered semi-permanent hair dye, and there are several colours to choose from. I know that these dyes can't and won't lighten my naturally dark brown hair, but I picked up the Burgundy shade in the hope that it would add a nice reddish tone and cover up my greys - if your hair is much lighter than mine, you're more likely to achieve the colour shown on the box above.

Inside the box, I found:-
  • Natural Hair Colour (75g powder)
  • Natural Hair Colour Protect Shampoo (50ml)
  • One pair of Gloves
  • Hair Cap
  • Applicator Brush
  • Instructions

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Before applying: There's a lot of conflicting information online about how best to use Henna/Indigo Leaf Powder, and the instructions provided with the box just say to 'apply it to the hair' (which didn't help matters!), but it seems like it's down to a matter of personal preference as to whether you want to apply it to dry, dirty, clean or wet hair. In the end, I washed my hair with a clarifying shampoo to remove all traces of dirt and any product build-up, then I left it to partially dry so it was still damp, but not soaking wet.   

Next, I covered the bathroom floor with lots of newspaper and made sure that I had some old towels nearby to mop up any spillages. The purpose of any 'dye' is to stain and it's always better to be safe than sorry as my mum always says! To protect my skin, I applied a barrier balm (anything similar to Vaseline will do) on my ears, around the base of my neck and hairline to prevent any weird marks, and tucked in an old towel around my shoulders - I'd recommend wearing a T-shirt that you're not precious about as well, just in case!

The instructions were simple and easy to follow, but they didn't tell me how much of the Natural Hair Colour powder to use for my hair length. After a bit of googling, I decided to use the whole packet and hope for the best! Thankfully, this worked out for me and was more than enough to cover all of my fine, shoulder-length hair - if you have longer/thicker hair, you may need two boxes to be on the safe side. I mixed the powder with 1 cup (235ml) of lukewarm water and blended it in a bowl until it became a 'spreadable paste'. 

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Applying: Firstly, make sure you've got your gloves on! If you've ever used any kind of Henna product before, you'll know that it smells pretty bad and this was no different - it's kinda like damp, earthy woodland mixed with lots of mud; I enlisted the help of one of my housemates to do the back of my head for me and she almost gagged at the smell, but I soon got used to it. The paste is thick and tricky to apply - it's incredibly messy stuff and you will likely get it everywhere, so be careful. I found the included Applicator Brush to be mostly useless and ended up using my hands to slather it on, making sure that everywhere was evenly covered. 

After around 20 mins of applying, I gathered my paste-covered hair up and pulled on the sexy hair cap to let it do its thing. The instructions state that it should be left on for 1-2 hours depending on the colour intensity desired, and I left it on for the full two hours. Once the time was up, I hopped into the shower and attempted to rinse it out with water only, as instructed, and my whole shower looked like it had had a bad encounter with the Swamp Thing. It took about half an hour to completely rinse it all out, and probably an extra half an hour to clean my bathroom afterwards. C'est la vie!

I wrapped my hair up in an old towel and then left it to air dry for the rest of the evening. It was pretty dark by this point, so I couldn't immediately see any difference, other than my hair feeling quite rough and dry. When I went to sleep, I made sure that I put an old towel over my pillow and then left my hair to do its thing over the next 24 hours. During this whole time, it smelt very damp and earthy and I couldn't wait to wash it.

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy review
Results: On day two, I gave it a good wash with the included Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour Protect Shampoo and my heart sank when I saw how much dye was coming out and going down the drain, but I needn't have worried. My hair was very tangled by this point, so I used some conditioner on the lengths and ends, rinsed it out and left it to air dry. 

Now I could finally see the fruits of my labour! Inside, my hair didn't look any different - you could maybe see the tiniest tinge of red if you squinted hard enough. But outside and when the sunlight hits, it's transformed into a richer brown with a noticeable warmth of dark red which is really impressive considering that my hair is naturally dark brown to start with (check out my profile picture in the sidebar over there to see what I mean). Perhaps the biggest change though is in the overall condition - it's insanely shiny and just feels so much bouncier and full of life. Oh, and all of my greys are completely covered!

After nearly three weeks, I've continued to use the Colour Protect Shampoo and it stills looks pretty shiny with that lovely reddish tint, though not as obviously vibrant as it was in the first week. No signs of any grey and my hair feels really nice and soft still. 

Would I use it again? Yes! Despite the mess and length of time that it takes to apply and rinse out, I'm very happy with the results and would certainly consider using this on a long-term basis to cover greys and give my hair an overall boost when it needs it. It feels good to use something that's 100% natural!

Saach Organics Natural Hair Colour in Burgundy* (£10.95) is available via LoveLula.com

Do you use natural hair colours?

Foodie Friday: Spinach & Oat Flour Falafels recipe (Gluten-Free/Vegan)

Friday, 6 April 2018

Spinach & Oat Flour Falafels recipe (Vegan/Dairy-Free)
Falafels are something that I've regularly eaten for a long time and they're often a staple for many people who are vegetarian and vegan, but they're so tasty that everyone can enjoy them! 

However, I've been pretty lazy in the past and used to always buy them ready-made from the supermarket. That was until I moved to a more multi-cultural city, and my palate was opened up to the wonderful flavours from the local Lebanese and Middle Eastern restaurants, where falafels are made fresh on the day and taste a million times better. Since then, I've experimented with a couple of different recipes, adding in other ingredients when I've fancied a change. 

The classic Falafel recipe is very simple and delicious, but try this one below the next time you want to make some. The addition of Spinach gives them an extra nutritional boost, and using Oat Flour instead of Chickpea Flour can give them a slightly thicker texture.

Falafels are naturally high in fibre, high in protein and low in fat, but will easily absorb oil during the frying process which bumps up the fat content. To keep them lower in fat, fry them in a pan instead of a deep fryer - they won't be as crunchy on the outside, but they'll still taste good!

Spinach & Oat Flour Falafels recipe (Vegan/Dairy-Free)
Ingredients:
(makes around 15-20 Falafels depending on how big you want them)

  • 400g Dry Chickpeas (NOT canned - drained and soaked the night before making)
  • 1 small Onion - finely chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves - crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh Spinach
  • 3 tbsp Oat Flour*
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander
  • Pinch of Salt & Black Pepper
  • Coconut Oil - for frying
  • Tahini - to serve

Method:
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for a few minutes until you have a coarse like texture that is becoming easy to mould together (see photo above). You may need to stop and start it to make sure that the sides don't build up - just push these down back into the mix with a spatula.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and make balls by squishing the mixture into your hands. Set aside.
  3. In a frying pan, add 1tbsp of Coconut Oil and fry the Falafels for a few minutes on each side, until they start to turn slightly golden brown.
  4. Serve in a wrap or pitta with your favourite veggies and drizzle over some Tahini. Enjoy!

Storage: Keep your cooked falafels and any uncooked falafel mixture in the fridge for up to 4 days. 

*You can make your own Oat Flour cheaply and easily at home - simply blend 35g of Gluten-Free Rolled Oats in your food processor until it turns into a fine powder - that's Oat Flour! :)

Spinach & Oat Flour Falafels recipe (Vegan/Dairy-Free)
 Raw Spinach Falafels before frying
Spinach & Oat Flour Falafels recipe (Vegan/Dairy-Free)

Do you like Falafels?

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