Monday, 3 May 2021

TAAJ MAHARANI Crème de la reine Anti-âge absolu

 


by Sarah Cross

RRP: €59/£42.60 for 50ml

--What does the promo say?—

Crème de la Reine” (The Queen’s cream) contains 40 rare, precious and natural anti-ageing ingredients plus hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin. It contains no silicones. An exceptional face cream, it envelops your skin in a gentle protective veil, leaving a satiny and comfortable finish. Skin is left visibly younger, plumped up and revitalised. Firmness and elasticity are restored, wrinkles are smoothed and the complexion becomes radiant and uniform.

The MAHARANI cream is inspired by the legend of Amrita. The Amrita is the nectar of immortality of the Hindu gods and goddesses. It is said that only the MAHARANIS, queens and wives of the maharajas, held the recipe and poured a few drops into their skin care to preserve their youth. Recommended for mature skin."

--Ingredients--

Developed in France in partnership with a laboratory in India on the plateaux of the Himalayas, TAAJ beauty products are made from Himalayan spring water and extracts of plants and essential oils whose properties are beneficial to the body.

Himalayan spring water is the company’s star active ingredient. It is particularly pure; its pH of 7.3 respects sensitive skin whilst contributing to enhancing the active ingredients it contains. Its calcium concentration helps to regulate the body’s own pH. Rich in Silicium oxide, a molecule that consolidates the structure of Hyaluronic Acid, Himalayan Spring Water helps to combat ageing skin. The emulsion formed from this spring water and the associated oils is therefore more than a simple excipient and is the solid base for all our skincare products.”

--Company Philosophy—

TAAJ is the first modern French range of beauty products to be inspired by the philosophy of AYURVEDA. It has adapted ancestral principles to the highest standard for international cosmetics. Through its refined galenics and exquisite fragrances, TAAJ offers high quality and effective beauty products to women all over the world.

The website has much information on the ayurvedic philosophy and you can fill in a questionnaire to ascertain your own ayurvedic ‘profile’ to determine your ‘dosha’ (biological humors and psycho-physiological energies described in the Ayurveda) with associated beauty products, lifestyle and food recommendations.

80% of TAAJ products are also certified VEGAN by the Global Vegetarian Certification Services. The rest of the products contain beeswax or honey derivatives, which remain close to the principle of veganism because the beeswax used does not come from ‘domestic’ hives but from wild bee colonies in India.


--Packaging--
TAAJ products are generally in white or transparent boxes/containers with the distinctive TAAJ logo in gold lettering. However, the precious Maharani face cream stands out from the crowd in that it comes in a rich, royal blue box with gold lettering.

I love the fact that the cardboard box contains all the instructions and details of the ingredients printed on the inside, rather than additional folded paper inside the box - representing a saving on packaging. There is also a special card with the legend of ‘Amrita’ printed on it and small colour pictures of all the different ingredients. In a quality product, it was nice to see that so much attention had been paid to the detail of the special ingredients. 

The cream itself is in a cylindrical royal blue pump-action dispenser with gold lettering and has a gold top encased in a clear cap.

Whilst I find this container beautiful, there are two disadvantages. One is that you cannot tell how much you have used; the only way is through the diminishing weight of the container in your hands. (Why don’t the manufacturers leave a thin line section of this type of pump clear at the back so that you can see when you are reaching the bottom?) Secondly, because the tube is hard, you cannot cut it in half, as I do with so many of my beauty products, to scrape out whatever remains of the cream inside once the pump is no longer working. I have often found that I can use products for up to two weeks after the pump no longer works if I can cut the tube open, so I find myself gazing wistfully at this dispenser when I re-cycle it, wondering just how much of that precious cream is still lurking inside.

Only a minor disadvantage, though, as I feel the product benefits from being hermetically sealed in this way.


--Application--

Apply morning and/or evening to freshly cleansed face and neck.


--Appearance--

An opaque white cream that comes out in a small squiggle on your fingertip. The amount dispensed with one pump action is just right for one side of your face and neck. So, two small pumps and you are done!


--Scent—

Hardly surprising, with all these amazing ayurvedic ingredients, that this cream smells totally DIVINE. Aromatherapy in a pot. I would wear this as a perfume.


--Texture and consistency--

Relatively thick and creamy but fluid enough to spread easily over your face. A little goes a long way.


--Effects on the skin—

Blends in easily and leaves the skin silky smooth. Attenuates fine lines. My dry skin loves it.


--Value for money--

Compared to some face creams on the market this is at the top of the range but is, I feel, well worth the money for the quality of the product and the research and care that has gone into producing it. I started using my first tube just after Christmas and I am still using it, morning and night, at the beginning of May.


--perfect partners--

HUILE DELHICIEUSE 100ml 22.40€

EAU MICELLAIRE 500ml 13.20€

EAU MICELLAIRE PEAUX SENSIBLES 500ml 14.50€

LE REGARD DE REINE eye and lip contour cream 44.90€

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Gelpop On-The-Go Hand Sanitiser

 


RRP: £14.99, with refills available for £2.99

--What does the promo say?--

"GELPOP is made out of sustainable silicone and has a convient clip-on device that easily attaches to your backpack, purse, buggy or more. Designed in London, UK. "Cool, Clean and Colorful describe our first 5 GELPOP models!” GELPOP is a socially conscious, clean company that aims to reduce the use of handwipes and other pollutants as it provides refills for the pocket holders. Our GELPOP GEL can be sold separately and kills 99.9% of germs. Our GELPOP GEL is fragrance free and has a light texture to dry quickly and to use as often as you need. It includes natural aloe vera preventing dry hands for you and your little ones."

--Packaging--

The designs look professional and are made of sustainable silicone. They are fun as well and offer something for everyone: I would choose the sleek black 'Gentleman' design for my husband, and my mother bought the cat for my son as well as the blue skiing one for herself. In short, they will go with any fashion taste and reflect any interest. The holder is substantial, even a little bit weighty, for the amount of gel it delivers. Nevertheless, it's quite compact, and could be clipped to a changing bag, golf bag...or ski kit! Its flip-top lid is practical as well.

--Application--

The gel bottle offers controlled dispensation. One drop on the hands is enough. Rub into skin like normal. Overall, an easy product to use.

--Appearance--

The gel is clear regardless of which outer design you choose. No visible residue is left on the skin.

--Scent--

The product is technically fragrance free, but this just means nothing artificial has been added - if anything, though, the fragrance is slightly powdery. This, however, does not cause any problems, as the scent is not strong and does not have a powerful smell of alcohol. 

--Texture and consistency--

The gel absorbs very quickly, so that hands immediately feel dry, creating an impressive result.

--Effects on the skin--

Hands are immediately clean, and do not feel dried out.

--Value for money--

This product seems expensive initially, but you are paying for the convenience - it is great for being out and about, and will not be easily lost. It's always readily to hand, so is perfect for those who are busy or always losing things thanks to it being clipped to a visible place. One drop of product covers the front and back of both hands, so one bottle will last a long time. You could also always refill the bottle with your own gel if you prefer after the initial purchase. Overall, a great value product that fills a gap in the market and makes an excellent stocking filler too.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Payot Uni Skin Perles des Rêves

RRP: £54 for 38g

--What does the promo say?--

"The latest addition to the Uni Skin perfecting routine, Perles des Rêves offers your skin just what it needs to ensure a more even, brighter complexion in the morning. Its pearls enriched with shea butter melt on the skin, enveloping it with infinite softness. Used night after night, your skin will look more beautiful, softer and more harmonious."

--Packaging--

The jar is elegant and ergonomically designed, with the opaque glass jar beautifully displaying the pearls. The Payot logo is minimalist and unobtrusive. The white lid is a screw top, but it has no place for the opaque white spatula to sit or slot in, which seems inconvenient. The spatula itself is a good size. There's also a cover once the lid has been removed, to protect the pearls. This is easily pulled off when you need to use the product, but sits securely when not in use, so that you can travel with this product with confidence.

--Application--

The Payot website instructs, "In the evening, use the spatula to collect a pearl, then melt it in the palm of your hand. Apply to the face and neck after thorough cleansing." Unfortunately, I didn't read this prior to use and don't remember it being indicated on the silver cardboard box that encased all of the above. So I took four pearls (as that was the amount that seemed to sit comfortably on the spatula). This was probably too much - but I am not sure that only one pearl would cut it either (more of which below).

--Appearance--

The white pearls are gorgeous to look at and have the sheen that you would expect as well. When warmed in your hands, they melt and coalesce to create something resembling a more traditional face cream that we would be familiar with. Once rubbed into the skin, no visible residue is left.

--Scent--

A more heavily perfumed scent than I would normally choose for a face cream, proving quite botanical thanks to the various plant and flower extracts that are included. However, this soon settles down and doesn't feel too intrusive once the cream has been rubbed in, though it is still detectable. I actually quite liked this in the end as it made the bedtime routine feel more ritualistic.

--Texture and consistency--

As mentioned, four pearls was probably too many. This amount moisturised my face and neck generously this evening. However, I feel like one pearl would not do my full face, let alone my neck. So I will definitely be trying 2 or 3 pearls next time and seeing what works for me and my skin. This was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I felt that the pearls, even once melted, had quite a thick texture and were not easy to rub into the skin compared to other face creams I have tried. This lack of smoothness perhaps detracts from the overall experience. The cream sat somewhat stickily on the skin for a while after applying it. While, as a night cream, we could argue that this does not matter as it has plenty of time to absorb, I have used other night creams that sink into the skin more easily than this one does.

--Effects on the skin--

This product promises a more uniform complexion, more nourished skin, and increased radiance. It may well be purely cosmetic (thanks to the product's literal pearlescence) but I suspect the product's slightly shimmery effect does indeed make the complexion appear more uniform and radiant, thanks to the effects of light-reflecting particles. Whether this is indicative of any deeper changes perhaps remains to be seen. Similarly, it promises to be "anti dark spot", meaning that ironically, for a product to fulfil its preventative aims, nothing should happen - so it's difficult to tell whether dark spots might have developed even if I had not used this product. However, I strongly suspect that increased nourishment is possible with this product thanks to its luxurious thickness and high-quality ingredients - and a higher percentage of users reported seeing this effect than increased uniformity (according to the statistics on Payot's website).

--Value for money--

Payot is a prestigious brand and so I was pleased to pick up this jar in my local TK Maxx for a mere £12.99. As a result, I would definitely be interested in trying more from the Uni Skin range (or indeed even their Pâte Grise anti-blemish range). Different websites and shops seem to be offering it at a range of different prices at the moment, so definitely shop around online and near you for the best deal. However, I am not sure if I would pay the full £50+ for a jar, just because I typically wouldn't spend this much on moisturiser anyway. More objectively, it's a luxurious product in terms of texture and scent which many will find a pleasure to use - and it's a visual treat as well. More to the point, I genuinely believe it does nourish the skin - so it will tick many people's boxes and would make a beautiful gift this Christmas.

perfect partners

Uni Skin Masque Magnétique, £38

Uni Skin Mousse Velours, £36

Uni Skin CC Cream, £41

Uni Skin Concentré Perles, £82

Uni Skin Yeux et Lèvres, £45

Monday, 23 November 2020

Soin des lèvres au Lait de Jument de Camargue

RRP: 8€

--What does the promo say?—

"Moisturisation and protection guaranteed with our SOIN DES LEVRES! This lip balm is so rich that it will quickly repair and protect your lips from the effects of the cold and the sun. Good for cracked and sore lips, it is rich in moisturising ingredients such as shea butter and beeswax, which reinforce the qualities of Camargue mare’s milk. It nourishes, softens and protects your lips to the maximum. It does not contain a UV filter and is a natural product containing no chemical ingredients. (Any conservation agents used have been approved by Ecocert.) Suitable for daily use."


--Ingredients--

Shea butter, grapeseed oil, beeswax, aloe vera, jojoba oil, argan oil, lemon essential oil. 


--Packaging--

The SOIN DES LEVRES comes in a standard lipstick format. It has a paper wrap- around label with discreet logo of a horse’s head, the Camargue cross, the name of the product in black and green lettering and an attractive picture of mares in the Camargue.


--Application--

Apply like a lipstick, to top and bottom lip, and rub lips together to smooth the product in thoroughly.


--Appearance--

The SOIN DES LEVRES is a solid creamy-yellow stick.


--Scent—

The scent on this is very faint indeed, which I prefer to other lip balms I have used. You are not left with a strong taste on your lips. It feels completely natural.


--Texture and consistency--

The texture is quite solid and hard. I have a feeling that it will last longer than most sticks of this type because it doesn’t ‘melt away’ or wear down quickly as some do.


--Effects on the lips —

My lips feel instantly hydrated and the effect lasts a long time. A bonus: I also apply it around the contours of my lips to reduce the fine lines and it works a treat. Used before going to bed, it keeps my lips moisturised all through the night.


--Value for money--

Very good value for the quality of the product and the fact that it will last a long time.


perfect partners

CRÈME DE SOIN VISAGE (Face cream) 30€

LAIT DEMAQUILLANT (Make-up remover), from €9

CRÈME PEAU SECHE ET SENSIBLE (Cream for dry and sensitive skin), from €9

SAVON AU LAIT DE JUMENT NATUREL ET HYDRATANT (Natural moisturising mare’s milk soap), from €2

CRÈME POUR LES MAINS (Hand cream), 11.90€ 

CRÈME POUR LES PIEDS (Foot cream), 11.90€

COMPLEMENTS ALIMENTAIRES (dietary supplement capsules), 29.90€ 

https://laitdejumentdecamargue.fr/

Lee Stafford Coco Loco with Agave Blow and Go 11-in-1 Lotion


 RRP: £6.99

--What does the promo say?--

"This moisturising Genius Lotion is packed full of coconutty goodness. And now blended with Agave Essence for added moisture, movement and shine. The tropical tube does at least 11 things including helping to repair damaged hair and strengthen it.

  • Conditions, Nourishes & Smooths
  • Protects from heat styling
  • Shields against humidity and protects against colour fade
  • Improves combability
  • Softens and enhances shine
  • New tropical Coconut and Agave fragrance"

--Packaging--
The light pink colour scheme clearly identifies this product as part of the Coco Loco range and gives an elegant and feminine impression, accentuated by the gold lettering. The coconut imagery makes the main ingredient central and the 11 benefits are identified concisely on the packaging as well. The flip-top tube makes for practical use on a day-to-day basis.

--Application--
Smooth liberally over towel-dried hair, then dry and style as normal.

--Appearance--
A bright white lotion which leaves no visible residue on the skin or hair.

--Scent--
Beautifully coconutty, but perhaps not terribly nuanced.

--Texture and consistency--
Incredibly smooth and combs through hair easily.

--Effects on the hair--
Hair feels volumised and smoothed, with frizz being minimised. The conditioning effects are immediately apparent and over time hair is undoubtedly strengthened. Blonde hair also appears more luminous and wavy hair is tamed sufficiently between washes without having to fight to brush it.

--Value for money--
One tube provides many uses, and the effect of just one use is confidence-boosting and stress-reducing. Hair has volume and shine without frizz, and this effect lasts for days to tame and straighten hair. While I was sent mine for free by Lee Stafford's PR, I would shell out my hard-earned on this without a shadow of a doubt. An indulgent treat that makes managing your hair easier.

perfect partners

Shampoo, £1.99-£10.99 (50ml, 250ml, 600ml)

Conditioner, £1.99-£10.99 (50ml, 250ml, 600ml)

Hairspray, £5.99 (250ml)

Mousse, £5.99 (200ml)

Moisture Mist, £6.99 (150ml)

Dry Shampoo, £4.99 (200ml)

Heat Protection Mist, £5.99 (150ml)

Blow & Go 11-in-1 Lotion, £6.99 (100ml)

Colour & Damage Defender, £4.99 (100ml)

Mask, from £1.99 (20ml)

Monday, 16 November 2020

Crème de soin visage au Lait de Jument de Camargue

by Sarah CROSS

RRP: 30€

--What does the promo say?—

“Let nature take care of you thanks to the legendary qualities of Camargue mare’s milk. The magical effect of mare’s milk remains an enigma for scientists; however its healing properties are indeed real. It has been shown in the past that drinking mare’s milk cured certain illnesses and that the face and skin looked younger and more beautiful as a result. This discovery led to the development of cosmetics using mare’s milk as it seemed clear that external application would also have a beneficial effect on the skin. Mare’s milk in the form of creams and soaps is therefore particularly suited to problem skin and helps to make it look more beautiful. All our beauty products are natural and handmade. This product is more like a beauty serum than a face cream as it is made from 40% mare’s milk (the highest percentage in our range of products). It leaves your skin feeling sensationally soft and provides all-day protection. It’s non-allergenic and kind to the skin. Its neutral pH means that it is suitable for all skin types: dry, sensitive, greasy or combination skin. Mare’s milk also helps combat skin problems such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, allergies and itchy skin.

--Ingredients-- 

Mare’s milk, hordeum vulgare, calendula officinalis, chamomilla recutita and rosa centifolia plant extracts, organic lavender essential oil, organic geranium essential oil

--Packaging--

The CRÈME DE SOIN VISAGE comes in an opaque white pump-action dispenser. It has a paper wrap-around label with discreet logo of a horse’s head, the Camargue cross, the name of the product in black and green lettering and an attractive picture of mares in the Camargue. It looks clean and minimalist. The sealed container keeps the product inside clean and stops it from drying out.

--Application--

Simply press down the pump once and the nozzle dispenses a small dose of cream to massage into your face. A little goes a long way. I find that two squirts, one in each hand, do my entire face and neck. The cream is easily absorbed into the skin without leaving any oil or residue behind.

--Appearance--

CRÈME DE SOIN VISAGE is an opaque, liquid moisturising serum and is milky white.

--Scent—

Sold as ‘natural’, the cream has no distinct or over-powering scent but smells clean, sweet and vaguely floral. It is a pleasant smell to have close to your nostrils and all over your face.

--Texture and consistency--

The texture is that of a serum, a thickish liquid that comes out of the dispenser easily.

--Effects on the skin—

I have quite dry skin so I really appreciated the consistency of this serum. Once applied, it was quickly absorbed and left no oily or greasy traces. My skin just seemed to drink it in. The appearance of fine lines was reduced and my skin looked glowing and healthy.

--Value for money--

Initially I thought the container quite small for 30 euros; however, I was quite astonished at how long it lasted. Applied both morning and night, the tube lasted ten whole weeks! I am really enjoying using these products and, since I live near the Camargue, I am very happy to be supporting a small local business that has a love and passion for animals and for creating natural beauty products. Have a feeling I will be using these products for some time to come. Watch this space for more reviews.

perfect partners

LAIT DEMAQUILLANT (Make-up remover), from €9

CRÈME PEAU SECHE ET SENSIBLE (Cream for dry and sensitive skin), from €9

SAVON AU LAIT DE JUMENT NATUREL ET HYDRATANT (Natural moisturising mare’s milk soap), from €2

SOIN DES LÈVRES, €8

CRÈME POUR LES MAINS (Hand cream), 11.90€ 

CRÈME POUR LES PIEDS (Foot cream), 11.90€

COMPLEMENTS ALIMENTAIRES (dietary supplement capsules), 29.90€ 


https://laitdejumentdecamargue.fr/

Thursday, 1 October 2020

You'd better check yourself: Estée Lauder Breast Cancer Campaign 2020

Perhaps unsurprisingly, thanks to Covid, comes the alarming news that not only is the winter set to bring a perfect storm in terms of mental health, but just as seriously, nearly half of women in the UK are now less likely to share their breast cancer concerns.

One in five women have deprioritised their breast health; this rises to 1 in 4 for those under the age of 45. GP surgery closures during the pandemic have already made it more difficult to visit a doctor; this is despite the fact that a fifth of under-45s are unlikely to visit, even if they have noticed a change in their breasts.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made two-thirds of women feel less connected and more isolated. But the good news is that the vast majority want to unite in the face of breast cancer.

A step towards this can be taken by saving a date in your diary: on Wednesday 21st October, 2020 at 7pm UK time, The Estée Lauder Companies UK & Ireland are looking to host the largest ever self-check via Zoom with special guests including Global Ambassador Elizabeth Hurley and Dr Zoe Williams. This has been organised in the hope of bringing people together and encouraging everyone to be breast aware.

If you can't make the self-check, you can also support the campaign by buying classic beauty products - purchases of the following products in October result in a donation to help fight breast cancer:



• AVEDA – Hand Relief Moisturising Creme with Cherry Almond Aroma ($5 per purchase) 

• BOBBI BROWN – Luxe Matt Lip Color Duo (100% RRP minus VAT)

• DARPHIN – INTRAL Redness Relief Soothing Serum (20% RRP minus VAT)

• ESTÉE LAUDER – Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex (20% of RRP minus VAT)

• GLAMGLOW – Bubblesheet Oxygenating Deep Cleanse Mask (20% of RRP minus VAT)

• JO MALONE – Peony & Blush Suede 100ml Cologne (£20 per purchase in the UK and €25 per purchase in Ireland)

• LA MER – Crème de la Mer Moisturising Cream 15ml (50% of RRP minus VAT)

• ORIGINS – Blooming Lip Duo (100% of RRP)

Details of how you can support the campaign this year, download our self-check leaflet and access the live self-check are at https://www.elcompanies.co.uk/en-GB/our-commitments/the-breast-cancer-campaign

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Lee Stafford Coco Loco with Agave Shine Mask

 

RRP: £7.99 for 200ml (20ml travel version £1.99)

--What does the promo say?--

"An Intensive Treatment designed to bring hair back to life. This moisturising Coconut Mask with Hydrolyzed Milk Protein and Agave essence, works to reduce protein loss, strengthen hair and prevent breakage. Moisturising, strengthening, smoothing. Enhances shine. New tropical Coconut and Agave fragrance."

--Packaging--

Mine arrived from Lee Stafford's PR in a neat little 20ml sachet, which is perfect for travel. For at home use, you can buy a whole pot of the stuff with a practical screw-top lid. Both capitalise on the range's pale pink colour scheme and position images of the product's key ingredients prominently. The "Coco Loco" element of the logo is embossed onto the packaging in shiny gold letters, adding a further luxurious feel.

--Application--

Smooth through wet hair after shampooing. Use around 20mls-worth through your entire head of hair, smoothing it through to the end. Leave in for 5 minutes and then rinse thoroughly; you can also follow up with conditioner if you like, but I didn't find it was necessary.

--Appearance--

A pale pink lotion which leaves no visible residue on the hair.

--Scent--

As promised, very coconutty, and as such immediately evocative of summer holidays, without going full suntan lotion on you.

--Texture and consistency--

Sumptuously thick without being lumpy, and smooths through hair easily, without sliding out during the treatment time. Conversely, when you want to wash it out, this is not tricky at all, with no sticky residue.

--Effects on the hair--

Hair definitely felt softer and fluffier, and visibly voluminised and shinier. Does everything it promises! I also found I could go longer between hair washes (always a blessing when you have longer hair) when using this product.

--Value for money--

The large pot of this contains 200ml, or approximately 10 uses. This comes to 79p a use - definitely worth your dosh. While the single-use sachets are more expensive than this, they're great for pimping your hairdo while travelling, and I would still thoroughly recommend them as an affordable treat that has the desired effect. Lee Stafford...the boy done good.

perfect partners*

Shampoo, £1.99-£10.99 (50ml, 250ml, 600ml)

Conditioner, £1.99-£10.99 (50ml, 250ml, 600ml)

Hairspray, £5.99 (250ml)

Mousse, £5.99 (200ml)

Moisture Mist, £6.99 (150ml)

Dry Shampoo, £4.99 (200ml)

Heat Protection Mist, £5.99 (150ml)

Blow & Go 11-in-1 Lotion, £6.99 (100ml)

Colour & Damage Defender, £4.99 (100ml)

*at the time of writing, use code NATIONALHAIRDAY at www.leestafford.com to get 15% off!

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Mooncup celebrates real users



I have no shame in saying that I am a complete Mooncup evangelist - so am more than happy to shout its name from the rooftops as it turns 18 and launches its #RealMooncupUser campaign.

In its virtual ‘word of mouth’ campaign, hundreds of real Mooncup users have come forward with their diverse stories, celebrating 18 years of the Mooncup menstrual cup, and its impact in smashing menstrual taboos. These stories have been compiled into a series of videos to showcase women's real experiences.

I started using a menstrual cup myself a few years ago now - definitely for a few years already before having my son in 2018. As such, I've used it both before and after vaginal birth, and can recommend it in both cases. Convenient, comfortable, lower cost, better for the environment, no dryness, no risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome), and a chance to know your own body better. What is there to lose?

I can't deny I had anxiety about using a Mooncup before actually starting to do so. I had heard horror stories about people being unable to remove them. And just what do you do when you're out and about, in a toilet without a sink? Happily, these concerns are all completely surmountable or even just completely unfounded.

Mooncup Director Kath Clements said; “We’ve had an overwhelming response to our shout out to our community to share their experiences as part of the #RealMooncupUser campaign. It’s been such a privilege to hear from so many, telling it like it is, without shame. The success of the Mooncup® has always been driven by word of mouth recommendations, and these days even more are choosing to take control of their bodies and make the switch to a positive, ethical one-off purchase. Many have told us that it feels empowering, all the more so with growing awareness of the environment, and our social and cultural structures.”

You can watch all the stories on the Mooncup blogwhere the 6 women talk about first periods, menstrual cup folds, first Mooncup impressions, and what they love about the Mooncup. You can also catch them on Youtube.

I'm a huge advocate of being more open about bodily processes and how we handle them. I guess being a huge proponent of hypnobirthing - as well as having taught sex education to teenagers - made me a fairly ideal candidate for Mooncup use. But ultimately if we overcome our traditional British reticence and talk more about our bodies, our overall health will improve - and I think Mooncup users have experienced this first-hand, and so naturally want to share their stories so you can find out more too.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Review: Aromatherapy Associates 1-2-1 Consultation


After a long hiatus (where theoretically I should have had more time for blogging thanks to lockdown...), Bianca's Beauty Blog is BACK, and it's all thanks to Aromatherapy Associates.

The salon I normally go to for manicures and pedicures uses their oils for massage and other therapies. As a result, my husband bought me one of the full-size bath oils for Christmas. It's so incredibly aromatic, moisturising and a joy to use, but I still wasn't sure if I was using it properly or to its fullest (I am quite new to aromatherapy, having only really become interested in it when preparing for the birth of my son in 2018).

So now that salons and spas are closed thanks to lockdowns around the world, wellness and self-care brands like Aromatherapy Associates have drawn upon the valuable resource of their education staff - who would normally do workshops in spas - to carry out group and one-to-one consultations online. Amazingly, these are all free and easy to book online via their website. 

In preparation for mine, I purchased the kit pictured above - the Discovery Bath and Shower Oil Collection*. It contains 10 dinky bottles covering the brand's mainstays, including the Revive oil whose full-size version I'm currently using in the bath. At £28 - already reduced from £40 - it's a really good value set, and if you can get your mitts on a discount code, so much the better (10% and 15% off coupons are readily available online). You don't have to buy any Aromatherapy Associates products in advance of your consultation, but I found it was helpful to have the oils alongside me so I could smell them as we were talking about them.

My consultant, Amy, was right on time for our Zoom call and was patient, professional and friendly throughout. She was telling me that thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns, people are doing a lot more self-care at home, but if they're beginners, don't necessarily know how to use the products to their best advantage and to help them with their individual needs. This explains why there's been a great uptick in demand not just for these types of wellness products but also for the consultations - which will definitely continue throughout the summer now that (sadly) spas and salons are not permitted to reopen on July 4th as they had hoped.

Those signing up for these consultations - whether beginners or old hands - will not be disappointed. I had emailed in my concerns beforehand (mainly about my migraines and insomnia - both chronic problems which come and go) so we were able to get straight to these for a focused discussion. Amy was able to recommend specific products for each concern, whether in the classic oil form or in rollerball format. The recommendations also bore in mind the type of treatment needed (though she takes care to emphasise that this is indeed not a medical consultation and should only ever be regarded as complementary therapy). Got a migraine and want to take a bath? The classic bottles of oil are for you - especially their Lavender and Peppermint Support blend. Wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep? The rollerball of their De-stress Mind or Deep Relax is best for immediate application.

Amy was able to advise me about the best way to use the bath oil to really enhance my experience. In short, rubbing it onto the chest and stomach before getting into the bath allows for longer-lasting effects than just inhalation; a little can also be sprinkled over the surface of the bath water once you have run the bath for optimal therapeutic effects (pouring it into the running water just dilutes it, apparently, making it less effective).

We were also able to discuss how the Support Breathe oil can be put into a bowl of hot water in a bedroom at night to open up the airways if you have a cold; this can even be done for babies, which is great news for me next time my son has a cold (remember that you should not apply essential oils directly to babies' skin).

Furthermore, we didn't just discuss the different types of insomnia I experience, and the types of oil that might be best for them (if thoughts are racing, De-Stress Mind will be the most effective blend, whereas if your mind is just empty apart from "I'M AWAKE", Deep Relax might be more helpful), but also the possible causes of my insomnia and migraines, and their potential links to other conditions (such as the hormonal condition polycystic ovary syndrome, and hyperhydrosis). In addition, we briefly talked about the problems that she, I and others have been experiencing during the pandemic and how this has fuelled the use of self-care products generally, with people hoping to alleviate their anxieties in this way.

All of this took place in a mere half an hour - an amazingly effective and enlightening use of time. Furthermore, it was swiftly followed up by an email from Amy with all of her recommendations in writing. These came with instructions for each ritual (e.g. "apply directly to temples/area of migraine") as well as benefits (such as "to ease migraines and cool down the body"). The email also came with a 15% discount code - a nice little bonus, I think we'll all agree!

Overall, the pandemic has made many people reassess their priorities, whether it's going back to an old hobby or trying something new, going for a complete career change, or just deciding that now's the time to take even better care of yourself. These online consultations will help so many people (including the shielding vulnerable who may not feel comfortable enough to go out even when restrictions are eased) and Aromatherapy Associates should be so proud of their innovation in this regard. My next stop in my shower? De-Stress Muscle, after my (socially-distanced) swim tomorrow. Aaaaaand relaaaaaaax.

* contains 3ml of each of the following essential oil blends: Deep Relax, Light Relax, Inner Strength, Revive Morning, Revive Evening, Support Breathe, Support Equilibrium, Support Lavender & Peppermint, De-Stress Muscle, De-Stress Mind