Wednesday 19 November 2014

Keep the Bugs Away with Alfresco

Now I know that summer has passed us by and we are well and truly into Autumn / Winter now, however many people jet off to sunnier climes at this time of year to get a rest bite from the more changeable, cold weather we are blessed with here.

If that’s you, then you may wish to take something to ward off those pesky biting bugs that just love to have a nibble when you’re dining out at night. My husband is one of them and if mosquitos head for anyone it’s him. He obviously tastes too good!

Alfresco kindly sent me one of their Anti Bug Bite Moisturisers and one of their Insect Repellent Fine Fragrance Sprays, Acqua D’Alfresco to try out. Both products were developed by Sarah-Lou Morris who describes herself as “a 5 star meal to insects”! After spending many years experimenting with essential oils and lotions she finally came up with a fragrance blend which she loved and bugs hated.

Sarah-Lou excitedly took this formula to an apothecary and formed an alliance with a very old established English family run factory who produced the quality Sarah-Lou wanted to sell to the world. And Alfresco was born.

With a fragrance spray and body lotion to choose from these products are made as naturally as possible and can be used on children right up to adults. The fragrance is floral and spicy and described by Alfresco as Floriental.

The fragrance spray can be used as a perfume in its own right as well as an insect repellent spray and will certainly appeal to those who like a strong scent. For me it was just too strong, however I don’t wear perfumes much and when I do they tend to be more citrusy blends than floral, musky, spicy ones. I wasn’t expecting the fragrance to be quite so strong however there are a lot of people that this type of product would really appeal to.

Ingredients: Alcohol Denat., Aqua (water), Parfum (fragrance), Diisopropyl Adipate, Benzyl Alcohol, Benzyl Benzoate, Benzyl Salicylate, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Cinnamal, Citral, Citronellol, Coumarin, Eugenol, Geraniol, Isoeugenol, Limonene, Linalool, Alpha Isomethyl Ionone, Evernia Prunastri (oakmoss) extract. Includes: Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (orange) oil, Cinnamomum Zeylancium Bark Oil, Pogostemon Cablin (Patachouli) Oil, Melissa Officinalls Leaf Oil.

The anti-bug bite moisturiser is more subtle in its fragrance so would suit those who weren’t looking for a long lasting fragrance spray but wanting the same bug preventing effect. With Cinnamon Leaf, Patchouli, Cedarwood oils to repel insects, this moisturiser when reapplied every 3 hours should keep you bite free on your next holiday .

Ingredients:  Aqua (water), Isopropyl Palmitate, Caprylic/Capric, Triglyceride, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Alcohol, Triethanolamine, Parfum (Fragrance), Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon) leaf oil, Pogostermon cablin (Patchouli) oil, Juniperus virginiana (cedarwood) oil, Phenoxyethanol, Dimethicone, Benzophenone-3, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA, Ceteareth-20, Benzyl Salicylate, Limonene, Linalool.

We go camping every year and in the evenings mozzies and midgies are rife so although I’m not sure I’m in love with the fragrance I may well be packing these 2 products to try out particularly on my feet. Here’s hoping they end up bite free.

If you’d like to find out more about Alfresco’s range of natural anti-bug products, then pop across to their website for a browse. You will also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Have any of you tried the Alfresco range? Let me know in the comments if you have.

Until next time x


Disclaimer: I was sent an Alfresco Acqua D’Alfresco Insect Repellent Fine Fragrance Spray and a Anti Bug Bite Moisturiser to try out. All opinions are my own honest thoughts and feeling on the products I tried.


zk’in Certified Organic Skincare – Honest Beauty at its Core

This year has been a year for making connections, for meeting people. I have spent a lot of time over the past 2 years whilst writing this blog, connecting with so many amazing people over Twitter, and 2014 has finally been the year when I have met some of them.

One such person is Tracey Robinson from Vert PR. We only live 2 counties away from each other here in the West Country, however it took the fabulous Organic Beauty Week at London’s Wholefoods Kensington to finally bring us together in September and I also had the honour of meeting Grace Culhaci the founder of zk’in Organic Skincare at the same time, who was launching her amazing certified organic skincare range in the UK that week.

We spent many an hour chatting and I have to say it was like catching up with old friends. The time whizzed by and if I’m honest I could have chatted all day!

Grace is one of those women you meet who glows. She has an amazing smile and her generous nature makes you feel at ease straight away. Her passion for her certified organic skincare range is evident from the moment she shares with you the many benefits they bring and some of the unusual ingredients they contain.

Grace, like many others was guided to change her life when she had her first daughter. She developed a skin condition in pregnancy which made her take a long hard look at the products she was using. Carcinogens and toxic ingredients in even those products which professed to be natural inspired Grace to research, study and learn to create her own organic alternatives and through their use her skin condition cleared.

However, during her second pregnancy Grace was to be diagnosed with an inoperable tumour on her optic nerve which left undiagnosed for many years had affected her vision in the right eye. This life changing moment made Grace focus her attention on creating and living a healthy, organic lifestyle with a vitamin B17 nutritional program. This and the use of her pure skincare products meant that she now lives, as she puts it ”a beautiful, pain free life”.

I was given the opportunity to try out some of the zk’in range and I have to say that my skin went through quite a few weeks of positive change. I’ve only had this with 2 other skincare ranges so far; AEOS and Live Native. More on that later.

Grace has a zero tolerance policy to anything less than the best:
  • Zero tolerance to unnatural ingredients. They choose instead to have a 100% natural preservative system.
  • Zero tolerance to unsustainability; all packaging complies with food grade standards and is BPA free. The packaging is recyclable and sustainable.
  • Zero unsustainable ingredients and business practices.
  • Zero tolerance to animal cruelty; no testing of products or ingredients on animals, no selling to markets that require compulsory animal testing and the range is proudly vegan.
  • Zero tolerance to dishonest marketing; no photo shopping of images of women used in their promotional literature. Remember this is honest beauty.
  • Zero petrochecmicals, zero parabens and sulphates, zero GMO ingredients, zero nano particles.
I was given products from their oily / combination skin range to try; the purifying cleansing gel, clear skin toner, rebalancing lotion and then the line smoothing serum and clarifying exfoliator.

I began with the main 3 products from the oily / combination range for the first few weeks to get my skin used to the new regime. I was glad I did, as my skin went through a type of cleansing. Our skin is our largest organ and it is a great detoxifier. The zk’in range uses healing Aloe Vera at its core, being the first ingredient on each of the product lists. I found that my skin started to shift out toxicity quite quickly after starting with the new products and I erupted in spots around my jaw line which is a key area for me if my skin decides to clear out.

Now I could have decided to stop there and not continue on, however knowing that my skin was taking this opportunity to throw out some toxicity I persevered and after about 4 weeks of using the cleanser, toner and rebalancing lotion my skin settled again to reveal smoother, clearer, smaller pored skin. Wow, I was impressed. I then started to introduce the line smoothing serum and once a week the clarifying exfoliator.

I have continued on with this regime for about 7-8 weeks now and my skin is calm, clear and much less shiny in the t-zone area. I’m really impressed. I have only ever had this change with two other skincare ranges AEOS which uses biodynamic ingredients and Live Native who like zk’in only use a 100% natural preservative system. My skin seems to love the purity of these ranges.

Purifying Cleansing Gel – This is an oil free gel which uses clinically proven Quillaya Bark Extract to help reduce shine. It doesn’t foam which is a shame, but it gently cleanses the skin leaving it feeling clean and matt.

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice*, Sucrose cocoate*, Quillaja saponaria (Quillaja) bark extract*, Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate, Sclerotium gum (natural gelling agent), Avena sativa (Oat) kernel flour*, d-Limonene#, Parfum (natural preservative), Citrus reticulata (Red mandarin) peel oil*, p-Anisic acid (natural preservative), Citrus aurantium amara (Bitter Orange) peel extract, Citrus aurantium bergamia (Bergamot) peel oil*, Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) oil*, Linalool#, citric acid.(*certified organic, #natural component of essential oil). 96.11% organic of total

Clean Skin Toner – This light toner was lovely to use. With astringent witch hazel and anti-acne Willow Bark, this fresh toner was effective yet gentle. My only criticism would be that I’d love to see it as a spray toner. I love to spritz my toners onto my face – I’m lazy !

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice*, Aqua (Hydrosol of Leptospermum petersonii (Lemon scented tea tree)), Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel) bark/leaf extract*, Alcohol* (natural), Salix alba (Willow) bark extract, Leuconstoc/Radish root ferment filtrate, Leptospermum petersonii (Lemon scented tea tree) oil*. (*certified organic). 95% organic of total

Rebalancing Lotion – This has a lovely citrusy smell and sinks well into the skin leaving it matt and ready for make-up. It features EPS Seamat to mattify shine within one hour of use. My skin loved it and stayed matt pretty much all day which is normally unheard of!

Ingredients: Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice*, Macadamia integrifolia (Macadamia) seed oil*, Simmondsia chinensis (Jojoba) seed oil*, Aqua, Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate, Cetearyl^ olivate (natural emulsifier), Sorbitan olivate (natural emulsifier), Avena sativa (Oat) kernel flour*, Sclerotium gum (natural gelling agent), d-Limonene#, Citrus reticulata (Red mandarin) peel oil*, Parfum, (natural preservative), Citrus aurantium amara (Bitter orange) fruit extract, p-Anisic acid (natural preservative), Citrus aurantium bergamia (Bergamot) fruit oil* (Bergaptene free), Boswellia carterii (Frankincense) oil*, Tocopherol (non GMO natural Vit. E), Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) seed oil, Linalool#, Plankton extract (Bacterio genus), Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang) flower oil*, Phenethyl Alcohol (natural), Benzyl benzoate# (natural from Ylang Ylang). (*certified organic, ^RSPO sustainable palm input, #natural component of essential oil). 92.63% organic of total

Line Smoothing Serum – This beautifully light skin serum smells of vanilla and sinks beautifully into the skin. It uses clinically proven active Galuline Expression which temporarily blocks the muscular contractions that contribute to expression lines. I can’t say I noticed much difference with this however, I am blessed with few lines even at my now 42 years young. Oily skin does have its benefits in the end !

Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice*, Rosa eglanteria (Rosehip) seed oil*, Alcohol (natural from beet), Aqua, Cetearyl^ olivate (natural emulsifier), Sclerotium gum (natural gelling agent), Leuconostoc/Radish root ferment filtrate, Sorbitan olivate (natural emulsifier), Parfum (natural preservative), Lavandula hybrida (Lavandin grosso) oil*, Spilanthes acmella (Paracress) extract, Citrus aurantium amara (Bitter orange) fruit extract, Linalool#, Vanilla planifolia (Vanilla) fruit extract*, Cananga odorata (Ylang Ylang) flower oil*, Pogostemon cablin (Patchouli) oil*, Benzyl benzoate# (natural from Ylang Ylang), d-Limonene#, Geraniol#, Coumarin#. (*certified organic, ^RSPO sustainable palm input, #natural component of essential oil) 95.05% organic of total

Clarifying Exfoliator – This exfoliator uses coffee beans and colloidal oatmeal to remove congestion, refine pores and improve clarity. I preferred to use this almost like a mask which is recommended to drier skins. It was quite coarse in its texture and smelt amazing. I don’t like to drink coffee but the smell is fabulous. This exfoliator smells of freshly brewed coffee – delicious.

Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera) leaf juice*, Coffea arabica (Coffee) seed powder*, Sclerotium gum (natural gelling agent), Citrus aurantium amara (Bitter orange) fruit extract, Avena sativa (Oat) kernel flour*, Citrus reticulata (Red mandarin) peel oil*, d-Limonene#, Citric acid. (*certified organic, #natural component of essential oil). 97.90% organic of total

Overall I’m really impressed with zk’in’s COSMOS certified skincare range. It’s well thought out, effective yet gentle and with a 100% natural preservative system you really can’t go wrong with this one.

The range extends to normal to dry skin and sensitive skin and several of the products transcend all skin types. The range is reasonably priced making it accessible to most budgets which was one of Grace’s wants. Good quality skincare shouldn’t need to cost the earth.

If you’d like to find out more about this great skincare range then pop across to the zk’in website for more information. In the UK you can currently purchase zk’in at Xynergy and Love Lula. 

Have you come across, or used any of the zk’in certified organic skincare range? If so, do share your thoughts below.

Until next time x


Disclaimer: I was given a Purifying Cleansing Gel, Clear Skin Toner, Clarifying Exfoliator, Line Smoothing Serum and the Rebalancing Lotion to try out for review. All opinions given are my own honest thoughts and feelings on the products I used.

UPDATE: zk'in is no longer available to buy direct from the UK.


Wednesday 12 November 2014

Amphora Aromatics – Competition Giveaway


It’s always nice to be able to bring you a competition giveaway and with Christmas only 6 weeks away (yes, really !), this giveaway may just suit someone special on your Christmas list. Lets’ hope so.

Amphora Aromatics began life in 1984 in Bristol and I remember using their aromatherapy base and essential oils in my holistic massage treatments when I had my practice before having my children.

“Amphora Aromatics founders, Christine and Peter Carroll, travelled the world and spent time in a Himalayan hill town, studying native traditional medicine systems and associated philosophy.  On their return, they set up Amphora Aromatics - taking inspiration from their travels overland through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan to India.”

Combining traditional formulas with exotic herbs and oils, their philosophy is to create high quality products at very competitive prices.


Ruth Romano – Natural and Handcrafted Bodycare

As time goes by, I love being able to connect with like-minded people with similar or the same values that I have. Over the two years that I have been writing this blog I have connected with some amazing people and brands. I feel blessed to have found such an array of natural products to try out and share with you, my readers.

I’m a pretty uncomplicated person at heart, so I tend to be drawn to products which have simplicity at their core. It’s all very well have fancy ingredients and names but if the product doesn’t do what it’s supposed to then for me anyway, it’s not worthy of my precious time.

Some of the best natural products I’ve used, have had the shortest ingredients lists and have changed the way my skin feels and looks. That’s one of the things that drew me to Ruth Romano.

Founded by Ruth Cartwright, Ruth Romano’s products have simplicity at their core. I was kindly sent one of their Lavender soaps and orange lip balms to try out and I have to say I loved both.

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