Tuesday 29 March 2011

Inika Mineral Foundation

I swore a solemn promise, not so long ago, to seek out the best green make up, for my own personal use and rather ambitiously, my make up kit too. When I say green make up, I just need to add we're not talking Kermit. But you know that, and if you don't, it's about time you caught up!

So looking around there are the usual loose powdered foundations, which (I'm a little ashamed of admitting this... here goes)... I have never actually tried. I know! Shocker. Call myself a make up artist when there is an entire foundation format completely overlooked. The reason is this. I don't really like loose powders. There. I'm fussy. I can't really be bothered with the faff. And I spend enough of my time cleaning brushes in my kit to be bothered to clean my own in my make up bag! Fingers are my friends and they work very well with my Chanel. And yet not so well with powder.

But the quest has begun and with my aversion to powders it seemed right to opt for a liquid mineral base. It didn't have to be completely pure (let's face it, there ain't nothing pure about a made up face) but it did have to exclude the silicones (hate that feeling of siliconed skin), the parabens and PEGS etc too.

The first brand I've tried is Inika, completely surpassing my expectations on purity as they are a 100% natural make up range and from Australia too. Good going Oz. That means Inika exclude from all their products parabens, petrochemicals, fillers, talc, bismuth oxychloride, mineral oils, pthalates, GM ingredients and fragrances. They are also non-comedegenic as in they don't clog the pores which causes acne. You can read more about the brand and it's ethos on the website here.

I'm using the liquid foundation base in Cream, the lightest shade. A note on colour, seriously, wear the one meant for your skin. I have been dabbling in trying slightly warmer shades that I thought might lift my skin tone but it never looks quite right... if you want a warmer glow, think about a decent bronzer in the right places. Foundation goes all over and will unbalance your natural colouring, which will look just a little bit weird. Having said all that, there are only four shades in this range, which doesn't give you a lot of choice. I am using the lightest and although it is a little too light for my skin, it definitely doesn't look too chalky or ashen and it does seem to compliment my own skin tone. So there is a little flexibility there!

Trying it out on my hand, I was very impressed. But it is a curious formula. It's definitely more a cream, than a liquid and when I tried it out for the first time on my face I was a little concerned. But the key is this: abandon all prior understanding of how a foundation moves and behaves on contact with the skin. Don't expect this one to look or feel the same. Do persevere in applying it thoroughly. As you begin to blend it in it almost separates in a kind of patchy way. But once you finish blending, it does in fact leave you with a very even dewy kind of complexion.

Admittedly, it's not one for a full coverage effect, and my skin is reasonable happy so I'm not sure how well it would perform if I did have major skin complaints. But I do really like the finish. It is decent coverage, it's not wishy-washy. And the thing with maximum coverage is that is can actually draw attention to the very things you are trying to disguise like dryness, uneven texture, enlarged pores and spots. This almost completely disappears into the skin (eventually) leaving it looking mysteriously better and more even-toned without you really seeing why. Clever. Very clever in fact. The only thing I would add is that because it is quite a thick cream and it does move a little strangely on the skin, you must take care when blending around the eyes so as not to drag or pull the delicate skin in that area. Got it? Good.

What's really interesting, I think, is what makes up this foundation (excuse the pun). The first ingredient is aloe vera leaf juice, followed by shea butter, macademia nut oil, coconut oil and cocoa butter. You can't beat that for skin-friendliness. Much better in my eyes than the number one ingredient on a foundation I had been using, cyclopentasiloxane, which is a silicone.

I'm happy with this first venture into natural make up and I'm feeling quite smug about it actually because I have been wanting to 'greenify' this area of my life for some time now. I think products that get absorbed into your skin are the most important ones to address and so I will be happily wearing this, for the time being at least - I have a sneaky suspicion it will not last overly long as I feel like I have already used half the tube in about two weeks. This may be due to the squeezey tube / pump dispenser combo which is designed to keep air out and thus be more hygienic (nifty) but it does mean it feels like there's next to nothing left in the tube! I will keep you posted on this detail...

Inika Liquid Mineral Foundation in four shades 30ml £25 approximately
Available in store from Whole Foods retailers. I got mine at Content Beauty / Well Being in store but also available online.

Saturday 26 March 2011

The Vitality Show

Hey folks, a quickie to let you know about the Vitality Show at Earls Court II this weekend. I feel a little guilty not posting this sooner because it has actually been on for two days now! But my internet has been a real pain and I am in fact feeling pretty let down by it. You hear that BT? Yes, you have let me down with your rubbish signal. Anyway.

The Vitality Show, in my own words, is kind of a cheesy, girly day out. That obviously isn't how they are marketing it, that's more like 'a day out with the girls where you can learn how to look better, feel better and live better.' In reality its a big get together of health and beauty brands with live talks and therapies and a hair salon and live exercise classes. You have make up, cosmetics, Rosemary Conley, yoga, crystals, Rosemary Conley, hair styling and accessories, Rosemary Conley, juicers and foodie bits and energy healing and tarot and household gadgets and Rosemary Conley.

(I some how have an exercise video, yes video, by Rosemary Conley in which she helps you get a flatter tummy to such Eighties classics as Agadoo and YMCA. See an example with slightly better musical accompaniment here. )

I wanted to go to The Vitality Show to see how well represented organic skincare was and to do a little shameless promoting of this blog! And I did with reasonable success, which you will be hearing about in due course!

Brands present included the gorgeous Pai, the very natural and luxurious Speizia range, Green People, Lavera, Evolve, Une, Celgenics (can't wait to tell you about that one) Aeos (nor this one) and a few smaller outfits which I admittedly didn't really explore! So not loads, but it was clear this show wasn't for the real natural enthusiasts nor the new age demographic. This show was definitely more about 'left of the mainstream', where women are becoming a bit more informed and want to make healthier lifestyle choices without only wearing hessian shoes and crochet.

In it's third year, the organic pavilion was definitely a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be but when you look at the rest of the beauty brands represented there (hardly any in the scheme of things) it was a promising thumbs up to this part of the beauty industry...It was great to talk to some of the people behind the brands as it can be hard to actually get to try these products in a proper retail setting with genuinely knowledgeable people on hand for more information because they simply aren't available in your average Boots or department stores and of the few that are- there isn't the service to go with it! But the very inclusion of an organic skincare section and the reported increase in demand for it is reassuring of the shift towards a more considered and holistic approach to beauty.

And like I said, I have some very curious products with very innovative technology to tell you about. Coming soon...

The Vitality Show is on til Sunday 27th March if you have nothing to do tomorrow. Tickets may still be available on the door. The Vitality Show

Sunday 20 March 2011

Being Content - Content Beauty / Well Being Shop

Hey all. Lovely weekend. For a change to the usual online browsing of exciting and attractive natural skincare brands, I decided to spend Saturday afternoon traipsing around in the hazy London sunshine finding an actual shop where I can actually see, hold, squish and smell all the products I'm currently coveting. 

See, although you often get great prices on the internet, as we all know, it's no good when trying to discover something new. As a child my mum was always telling me 'don't look with your fingers' which although sounds a bit strange simply means don't pick up (break) anything (everything). However, this is exactly what is needed when selecting what you might like to put on your own face.

So then, just off Marylebone High Street is a rather lovely little shop called Content Beauty / Well Being which is attached to a very good looking website, also called Content. It's  a clever play on words, because it's really about Being Content with the contents of your products. Get it? Good.

As well as stocking a good selection of natural brands I already know, I wanted to visit there because it also has many gorgeous brands that I don't know one bit. So let's get stuck in.

The shop is very beautiful, nicely decorated, very compact,  cool array of hand mirrors adorning the walls. 

Brands stocked include Pai, Oskia, Ren, Suki, Nude, Jurlique, Barefoot Botanicals, Stem Organics, Live Native, OY!, MV Organic Skincare, Absolution, Amala, Dr. Alkaitis, Weleda, Huiles et Balmes, RMS, Inika, Nvey Eco, Jane Iredale, Green and Spring, Evolve, John Masters, Green People, Lavera, Less is More, Hurraw, Lotus Wei, Scent Systems, Strange Invisible Perfumes, Tsi La, Tallulah Jane and I think that might be it. Very comprehensive. 

Some of these brands I have never heard of so it's great to see how much is available on the organic skincare front and for every price point too. I mean, a lot of these brands are high-end and you'll pay a pretty price for a pretty face. But that's because we are seeing pioneering technology and research in this fastest growing section of the beauty industry, delivering such exciting products that will beat the hell out of your usual routine items. Natural products aren't just about what is left out of them, but about using and exploiting the most beneficial properties of plants and minerals that will not only leave your skin and body unharmed but boosted, nourished supported, protected. And I for one am going to need to get some kind of bank loan or sponsorship to indulge this! Let me say it again. You have to pay a pretty price for a pretty face. New T-shirt slogan anyone...?

Content also has treatment and therapy rooms.
Content Beauty / Well Being Shop 14 Bulstrode St (off Marylebone High Street) London, W1U 2 JG

Friday 18 March 2011

Oskia Renaissance Mask

If you remember on the Oskia, A Love Story post I boldly declared my new found feelings for a nutrition-based skincare company after never having tried the products. Brave! you might say! I'd say Thank You! But that's how I am, I wear my heart on my sleeve. And here's what happened. Cupid, in the form of the lovely people at Oskia, sent to me some products to try. My heart sings, my lashes flutter, once again I think love is in the air.

Oskia bases all their products on MSM which is the most bio-available form of sulphur, known as the beauty mineral. It boosts collagen production and repairs and regenerates skin. Other ingredients in the Renaissance Mask, plucked from the grocers as well as the laboratory, include natural fruit AHAs, papaya enzymes, lactic acid, ribose, butterbur, Swiss garden cress liposomes and prebiotics. Wow.

To spotlight a few of those, AHAs help to exfoliate skin on a more molecular level, unbinding cells instead of scraping them off! Ribose has an oxygenating effect on cells which improves luminosity (with some very scientific charts and graphs to prove it here.) And papaya enzymes work to decongest pores for a thorough cleanse.

This is what I like about Oskia, the decisions on the ingredients used are made on the basis of  convincing research and facts, giving you products that work. As you know, I don't believe in the use of harmful synthetic chemicals especially when there are similar, high-performing substances which can be harnessed from nature. And when science can be used to back that up, then bring on the pie charts!

So then, the Renaissance Mask. It comes in a pleasingly heavy jar and kind of reminds me of a melty sorbet. Or a strawberry cream centre. It's fruity! And kind of gooey in an edible sort of way. But don't waste it eating the stuff - get it on your face! For it claims to brighten and resurface the skin, with those AHAs exfoliating away the dead outermost layer of the skin revealing a more radiant complexion. Here goes...

It massages in very nicely, turning a milky colour so you know it's working. And to reiterate, it smells delicious. Like breakfast for the skin! Then you need some patience to wait 10 - 15 minutes before removing with warm water. It's very pleasant to wear, whilst you are waiting, as it doesn't dry out or feel too sticky. Although, with most masks you do have to look like you might have gently dipped your face in a custard pie. But that's OK. It's part of the fun isn't it?

Rinsing with warm water takes a few goes and maybe a quick wipe with a cheeky flannel but it does indeed reveal a brighter complexion! My skin felt very, very soft - thanks butterbur. And it did look clearer and smoother and more even. 

You see, I had a very late night, so was feeling particularly puffy and achy-faced this morning when I used it. But the process of using the Renaissance Mask - massaging it in, the energising smell, obviously the ingredients used - all breathed sweet life back into my tired face! And left me not only looking brighter, but feeling it too! 

Oskia, you had me at hello.

Oskia Renaissance Mask is £48.50 for 50ml
Available at online at Oskia and Apostle and in store at Liberty's

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Neal's Yard Remedies - Holistic Facial Treatment

Having been so openly devoted to Neal's Yard Remedies, I was invited to try a facial treatment in their Marylebone High Street store. Oh boy! Now, I admit this is a little bit of a new experience for me but let me tell you straight up it's definitely something I will continue to do.

 (This is actually the lovely Covent Garden flagship store. 
Even though each store is lovely, this one just looks prettiest)

Let me set the scene. I woke up the day before my appointment feeling fine and spritely, to be blighted an hour later with the coldest of colds. Suddenly, as I was going about my day, my head filled up, my eyes filled up, my nose rather rapidly unfilled. I was compelled to spend the rest of the day moping back and forth to the kitchen with a constant need for hot cups of tea and bed. I was pretty worried that this might impede my enjoyment of my facial the next day but Good God! I wasn't going to miss this! And so the following afternoon, feeling even more cloudy-headed and bunged up, I plodded my way to Marylebone High Street.

Stepping into a branch of Neal's Yard is already one of my favourite pass times and on this occasion, like every other, the welcome was instant and the atmosphere relaxed. As usual at NYR, I was offered green tea (LOVE that) and as usual I accepted - a little cup of their detox tea (recommended) made a good start to the experience!

My facial treatment was with Chiara Simonelli who is absolutely lovely. The treatment is holistic and so takes into account lifestyle and the health of the rest of the body. This helps to tailor the treatment to meet your own specific needs. So the products used, the techniques employed and the recommendations made afterwards will all help to get you looking and feeling your best.

After discussing my own skin and general health, Chiara selected a range of products best suited to me to begin the facial. These were Lavender Cleanser, a gentle, suits all formula to remove make up. Lavender Water, to tone and freshen. Orange Flower Facial Polish, which is actually for drier skin but is again very gentle and still suitable for other skin types. My skin is OK, 'normal' I guess but still a little oily on T-zone, a little dry on cheeks, with some pesky fine lines beginning around the eyes. This was definitely the most luxurious cleanse I've ever had! And I will add that thankfully my eye make up was still intact - relief was felt at the prospect of not having to walk back to Oxford Street entirely make up free!!

Chiara massaged in the cleanser, including my shoulders and neck, then removed it carefully with a warm cloth. The toner was then applied with cotton pads and the cooling, freshening sensation of this was so relaxing yet energising. By the time it came to the facial polish I gave up trying to pay attention and gave in to the dreamy sensations occurring about my face! I was careful to note the other products after the treatment so I can still tell you what happened next!

So then, the Wild Rose Beauty Balm, massaged all over face, neck and shoulders. This is a bit of a cult product with impressive versatility and something I have come across before (in discussion of the Trilogy Everything Balm which seems to get mentioned in every post some how!!??) This balm smells simply gorgeous, is incredibly nourishing and extremely restorative in its properties with rosehip, hemp, geranium and rosemary seed oils. Incidentally, the rosemary was very good in helping ease my laboured and snuffly breathing so I was already beginning to feel better for this reason alone!

Next up, White Tea Enriching Facial Mask, which is another very nourishing product, suitable for dry and sensitive skin but with powerful antioxidant effects helping to improve fine lines. Whilst this mask was setting to work, Chiara gave my arms and hands a massage which was wonderful and, although not something I expected to have great relevance in a facial treatment, I could feel it really making a difference in releasing tension, improving the posture of my shoulders and easing me into an even deeper sense of relaxation, which surely shows on the face!

The main facial massage was using the Rose Facial Oil. In my sorry state of Coldness I could really feel this working to further ease my congestion and as Chiara expertly pummelled and smoothed and tapped my face, neck and shoulders (a lot on the neck - felt incredible) I not only completely forgot I was ill but felt good and alive and awakened!

What followed after this was the White Tea Eye Gel for those pesky fine lines, Mahonia Clear Skin Gel for a mountainous spot I failed to mention and finishing with my favourite, the Frankincense Hydrating Cream.

Sitting up, sipping water, I was a amazed that an expertly-given facial could also be the most indulgent cure for a cold! I felt great! My sinuses felt clear! And my face was glowing, the tone visibly improved! And I tell you what, I have never really properly appreciated the meaning of those words before because I have never really seen much improvement to the tone of my skin. Sure, lots of people have said my skin looks clear, looks good etc. but as everyone has their hang-ups mine is often a lack of tone. And I have certainly used products that have given a healthier look to my skin. But this is different. If my face could have a six-pack, then here it was. It just looked in better shape, the muscles underneath just more toned. After all, the face is a group of muscles that need supporting and strengthening. Massage can give you that.

And I guess that this is the difference between sitting at home and having a go yourself or having someone taking time and care to do it for you. You get a much better result because you get a much better, deeper massage. And you can't beat that, which is why I will definitely be booking myself in for more!

Neals Yard Remedies have a range of therapies and treatments, at various stores across the country. See the website for details of your nearest.
I had the holistic facial treatment with Chiara Simonelli at Marylebone High Street store.

Thursday 10 March 2011

Weleda Skin Food

I love a good meal. So you can imagine how happy it makes me when a product offers to feed my skin. Yum. Please sir, can I have some more?

One of Weleda's best sellers, Skin Food is an anything and everything product, providing extreme nourishment for deprived, dehydrated, dry, depressed and desperate skin. You can use it on your lips, on your elbows and knees, on your face for a super-intensive mask, on your hair to smooth over flyaways or dry ends. You can use it like a hand cream, a nail balm, or you can just smell it because it smells delicious, like you might just squidge it all over a freshly baked ciabatta roll.  (Don't actually do that)

Skin Food contains a very simple list of ingredients including sunflower seed oil and extracts of wild pansy, calendula, rosemary and chamomile to nourishes and protect skin. It does this so well that it has won 10 Awards in 2 years, apparently, most recently bagging Best Skincare Product in the Ethical Living Awards. And it has been around since 1926 as one of the first products made by Weleda. The old ones are always the best!

I have included this product for a while in my make up kit as a natural alternative to classic Eight Hour Cream, and I carry it in my set bag too - invaluable for quick fixes for the actors and even the rest of the crew too. You always get someone wanting lip balm or hand cream. And they always come back for more!

Weleda Skin Food RRP £8.50 for 75ml
Available online at www.weleda.co.uk and in good health food stores.
Also available at Naturisimo for £6.50 saving £2. Magic.

Little Update

So, again, I have been somewhat absent from here, mainly down to working on a short film last weekend. Quick review of that: Stressful. Car broke down. Early mornings. Crying scene. Script supervisor as well as only make up artist. Shock and panic of no tubes on a Sunday morning. Great food. Lovely actors and crew. Happy in the end.

But now, I'm back with not much else to do so here's what's new.

I'm still (very slowly) reading Toxic Beauty by Dawn Mellowship and I have to say if you have been inspired in any way reading this blog, this book is a must read! In fact, it could almost be shelved in the Horror section of your local Waterstones because, without trying to sensationalise the issues, its pretty terrifying. But it's great to get some proper facts from reliable studies. I will be posting up little tit-bits for you soon.

I'm loving the new Pai cleanser as reviewed in the last post. Such a great brand and I'm definitely going to have a look at the rest of the products. Here's a great review of their eye cream on a model recommends. I want to try that one next for sure!

And I would like to give you an update on using the NYR Beauty Sleep Concentrate- it's working wonders! The little lines around my eyes have really and truly gone! I couldn't actually believe it! Because I'm certainly not getting any more sleep. But my skin hasn't felt nor looked this good for years! So how exciting! Products that work!!!

My biggest issue right now is natural make up. Skin, hair and body care is pretty well covered in that there are some fantastic brands, producing some excellent products which really give results (like the above mentioned!) But I have to admit I'm struggling to find make up that I genuinely love. Working on this last job and reading this book has given me the inspiration to make not only my own make up bag natural and green but also my make up kit as well, at least as much as possible! It's all about reducing exposure to the synthetic chemicals we encounter and if I can keep a working make up kit that uses natural skincare and make up that would truly be something remarkable. So then, any discoveries that you might have made, do tell! Otherwise, I will be striving to find the products that will actually convince me (and maybe you) to put down the Chanel without compromising on the look! GULP! What have I said??

Watch this space...

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Pai Camellia and Rose Cleanser

Pai meet Sarah, Sarah meet Pai. Nice to meet you Pai, I've heard so much about you! Yes, all good. Well mostly from magazines, from Natalie Portman raving about you in interviews, from browsing around Planet Organic and Whole Foods etc. So good to finally meet you.

This is how my first introduction to Pai went. We're firm friends now, me and Pai. Here's why I love it.

I mean look at it, it's beautiful. But that's not all...

You may have clocked how I'm into my cleansers. And I was trying to find a truly lovely natural one (after realising that I was using one which wasn't so natural after all and I was running out of another one I was relying on instead) It was time to be bold. And try something new. Something uncharted. How exciting!

I have come across Pai from the many hours I have spent loitering in organic shops and I have heard a rumble of applause and appreciation around it recently too. Pai, formulated with sensitive and allergy prone skin in mind, are very purist in their approach to caring for your skin. They are very transparent about the ingredients included and excluded (and why) and all completely organic, certifiend by the Soil Association. Top marks!

So then, the Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser. This is the only cleanser Pai does, which I think is kind of nice and straightforward in its suits-all kind of simplicity. Who doesn't want gently cleansed skin that feels hydrated? No one! That's who! As the packaging suggests it's gorgeous. It comes in a lovely pump bottle and a little organic cotton cloth. Just massage into damp skin and remove with the cloth and warm water. It's a light and creamy formula and is just such a joy to use. It massages in well, doesn't dry out or start to drag the skin (unlike others in this family of cleansers.) You could go around and around your face for hours if you want to! And when you have and it's time to remove, the cloth does a very good job of exfoliating away dead skin cells and lifting dirt. It actually has quite a rough texture which I wasn't used to but it makes me take better care of how I handle my skin. There's no need to scrub away at it!

And then there's the smell. So calming! Like a stroll through a garden in springtime. It's kind of herby, but subtle. But here's what I love about it the most. It can also be used as a very effective eye make up remover. I hate taking off eye make up. I was always put off cream removers (until now) because they seemed too thick and just got in my eyes and made them blurry. Liquid removers often used to sting. I used to use wipes but they too would sting and make the skin red in the corners. I thought I had found a decent, gentle one but decided it was full of rubbish. And then I started using the Trilogy Everything Balm (which is still good and I still like). But this is just so easy! Pop a bit on a cotton pad and sweep over eyes. Done. Its so soothing, doesn't sting or make my eyes sore in any way which I can honestly say it a very rare find. And it does the job so easily and quickly. I love not having to bother with another product! Again, so simple!

Camellia oil is full of Omega 3 and vitamins A, B, C and E and has been used for centuries for nourishing skin and hair. Rose helps skin retain moisture and has rejuvenating properties.

The results, a very happy, balanced complexion. My skin tone appears more even, brighter in fact. And I'm all the more happier for it. Thanks Pai, great to meet you and I can't wait to try the rest of the range...

Pai Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser £25.00 (including cloth) 100ml
Available from Pai where if you sign up for their newsletter you receive 10% off your order.
And if you fancy trying a few samples for FREE, see here for a trial pack. WOW.