Sunday, 29 January 2012

Lazy winter skin care; natural oils and butters

Inspired by this post over at msn we decided to compile a truly lazy winter skin care regimen that relies on our favourite oils and butters (we'll post later in the week about 1 product that everyone should wear all year round: sunscreen - We forget to use it quite often but it is sage advice and there are some awesome non-toxic options out there).

Out of the three of us, Layla is the most oil oriented. Some creams just don't agree with her, all of the Oskia stuff that she tried out was a nightmare it just dried her skin up and made her look much older (we used a range of audiences so if you'd like to read our original Oskia reviews click here for our Oskia Bedtime Beauty Boost Review and click here for our Oskia Get Up & Glow Review). So she has picked her favourite winter essentials to get your skin in tip-top condition.

In reality, you're only really going to need 1 -3 of these oils. We are product junkies but you don't need to be to get the most out of your products. Layla tends to stick to one oil/butter or mixes two. It's a simple, effective way to give your skin a boost and not break the bank.

As a word of warning, if you have a treenut allergy you might not be able to use the following oils
please check with your health practitioner before purchasing!

We don't another situation similar to that of quinoa in Bolivia. So we urge you to buy your oils and butters from companies that promote sustainability and fairtrade, our go-to  supplier is Akua Wood @ Sheabutter cottage (who also do international orders).

#1. Shea Butter
Supremely moisturising, gentle enough for sensitive skin and odourless, shea butter has it all. It can be used all over and will leave your skin silky smooth. It works as an eye cream and a lip balm.   Our favourite brand is none other than Sheabutter Cottage - if you've read the blog before then you know the deal on this one, if not click here for our review.

Shea butter contains plant sterols, oleic, stearic, palmitic and linolenic acids, has high antioxidant properties (one of which is catechins - the antioxidants found in green tea), and is high in vitamins A and E all of which are great for repairing, healing and nourishing the skin. But there's more!

It also contains derivatives of cinnamic acid, commonly found in cinnamon and balsam trees. One animal study found that shea butter demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects and that one compound (lupeol cinnamate) helped to prevent tumor development in a carcinogenesis test (which is the name for when labs 'grow' cancer cells in a culture dish). Another study found that cinnamic acid esters help to prevent skin damage from UV radiation. 

Another study found that shea butter can help reduce nasal congestion when applied to the 'interior of the nose' in test conditions.

# 2. Marula oil

From the same fruits that are used to make Amarula, Marula is like a dream oil only better. Used in Sheabutter Cottage's famed Akuaba Belly Butter and Kimia's exquisite rejuvenating facial system this oil contains high levels of oleic acid and antioxidants (such as flavonoids, procyanidin, galattotannin and catechins) all of which promote skin elasticity, aiding the repair of scars and nourishment of skin tissue.

#3. Mango Butter

Studied as a partial substitute for cocoa butter, mango butter is yummy. We've never eaten it but we have an ongoing love affair with this butter, it's smooth and imparts the most velvety softness.
It's been found to reduce skin cell degeneration  and wrinkles, while increasing skin hydration due to a high percentage of tocopherols, phytosterols and triterpenes.
On top of that mango butter has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (ref).

# 4. Rosehip oil

Full of antioxidants, trans-retinoic acid (vitamin A) in the form of unsaturated EFA's which reduce the effects of aging, regenerates damaged skin, stimulates cell renewal and diminishes fine lines. Like magic in a bottle.
One study suggests the use of rosehip oil (as well as other oils high in fatty acids) to help repair radiotherapy-induced damage to the skin

#5. Argan Oil

We've blogged about the wonders of Argan Oil before but just to recap;
Argan Oil is rich in vitamin E, phytosterols, carotenoids, and EFA's, and is touted as one of the best anti-aging products. Topical use improves skin hydration, increases skin elasticity, and helps to prevent the formation and reduce appearance of stretch marks.

#6. Japanese Camellia Kissi Oil

Perfect for all skin types, this non-greasy, odourless quickly absorbed oil has been used for centuries in Japan for the skin, scalp, hair and nails. It's a rich source of Oleic acid and collagen which aids cell regeneration and helps to restore skin elasticity, which can help to reduce scarring and stretch marks.
Camellia kissi Oil also contains the antioxidants vitamins A, B, C & E and polyphenols (also found in wine, tea and chocolate).

What are your natural skincare go to's?

Em, Layla & Ella

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Zaggora Hotpants 30 day challenge update: Angela's first weigh in

The first week has passed and Angela has been working hard, since we last blogged about her her workout and hotpants schedule has been as follows:
  • 21/1: Zaggora Hotpants worn from 9am - 1:30pm + 7:40pm - 9:10pm. Exercise: 30 minute run on the treadmill + 45 minutes of Zumba.
  • 22/1: Zaggora Hotpants worn from 1pm - 9pm. Exercise: 30 minute run on the treadmill using 2kg weights.
  • 23/1: Zaggora Hotpants worn from 12pm - 3pm. Exercise: 40 minute run on the treadmill using 3kg weights + 45 minutes of Zumba         
  • 24/1: Zaggora Hotpants worn from 3pm - 5pm. Exercise: 15 minutes of Zumba + 25minute run on the treadmill using 3kg weights.
Last week she weighed in at 18 stone 3.5 lbs and her body measurements were 48-41-52.
One week on she weighs 17 stone 7.4 lbs and her body measurements are:
That's a loss of just under 2 inches on her bust and waist, and a weight loss of 3.33% or 10.1 lbs in 7 days!

 If you'd like to get your hands on some Zaggora hotpants @ 10% off enter the code Lprend at checkout!



Monday, 23 January 2012

Inika Mineral Eyeliners: Sapphire & Black Caviar

Rating: 3/5, available from Being Content with prices starting from £11.75 (+p&p), Naturisimo for £10 (inc p&p), and Feelunique for £11.75 (inc worldwide p&p).

It’s been almost a year since my last natural eyeliner post. I’ll admit to you now that when it comes to eyeliners I am a MAC girl. I love the glitter, the ease of application and the staying power. But I am aware that the stuff in MAC eyeliners aren’t exactly good for you, one of my friends bleaches her skin and she refuses to touch MAC products on the basis that “MAC products use petrochemicals”. Now if my friend who is willing to bleach her face isn’t willing to use MAC stuff, then maybe I should start to consider alternatives…

Up steps Inika mineral make-up with it’s sleek and sexy packaging. There are some great ideas here, like the sharpener incorporated into the lid – why don’t all eyeliners have this?
These eyeliners are easy to apply and to remove. Sadly that is their best and worst quality;  one accidental brush of the eyelid and 90% of your eyeliner is gone leaving behind a translucent black residue that stays on your eyelid, sweeping off into the direction of the accidental brush. My sister actually thought I’d accidentally rubbed dirt on my face. Why dirt? I don’t know, I like natural but I’m not in the habit of smearing myself with dirt. In any case, it didn’t look good. Who knows? Maybe dirt would have looked better…more Rambo and less smeary.  Ultimately it's staying power is super low and for that we've had to give it 3/5.

                Black Caviar            Sapphire             

The colours themselves are great, the black is really rich and if it stayed that way then we would most definitely be onto a winner, the sapphire colour is nice and subtle but there’s not much punch to it so it doesn’t work so well as a complementary colour. It just sits on your lid like when you spill a little water on the counter top. Aesthetically speaking, it’s not terrible. Ultimately, however, it’s now just another mess you need to clean up. Thankfully, Inika created something that will come off in an instant and you end up forgetting how bad it all was when you wake up in the morning only to start the smudge cycle again.
For now, I’m going to stick with MAC. I promise to try my best not to use it on my waterline and to use a natural cleanser when I take it off.

Have you ever used Inika eyeliners? what did you think?
We hope you've had a great day!
Ingredients: Jojoba Seed Oil, Candelilla Wax, Castor Seed Oil, Cetyl Alcohol.
May contain: (+/-) Mica (CI 77019), Ultramarine Blue (CI 77007), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499), Chromium Green Oxide

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Workout fixes; Dr Hauschka's Birch Arnica Body Oil & Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner Review

This week Angela’s 30 day challenge went viral. It was amazing and we are so grateful for all the e-mails of support to Angela and for all of the people who checked out TBT. As part of Angela’s 30 day challenge, we’ll be kicking off another 30 day challenge next week, reviewing various fitness products or products that help with workouts somehow.

Today we’re talking Dr Hauschka’s Birch Arnica Body Oil & Dr Hauschka’s Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner. Adored by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Dr Hauschka products are all made from natural ingredients that are either biodynamic, certified organic, or wild-harvested.

Both of these products claim to help you get rid of cellulite, that may well be the case, and given the ingredients it is likely. But we don’t know how long you’d need to use it or the efficacy of either product in relation to cellulite.

Review #1. Birch Arnica body oil

Rating: 5/5, 75ml bottles available from feelunique for £17.95 (inc worldwide p&p), Lovelula for £17.95 (Inc p+p), Dr Hauschka UK for £17.95 (+p&p) and Dr Hauschka U.S. for $28.95 (+p&p).

According to the Dr Hauschka site (UK, US) this oil activates the skin’s metabolic rate, increases circulation and is ideal for application pre- and post- workout (not to mention after an equally arduous…ahem..sauna). And this particular product was featured in the August 2011 copy of Vogue.

Let’s take a look at the ingredients, shall we?

  •  White birch extract is an all over stimulant and can act as an anti depressant, and when it stimulates circulation it can aid detoxification.  It is also a powerful antiseptic and analgesic - it helps to reduce joint pains, muscle pain, headache and tooth ache because it contains methyl salicylate, the active ingredient in aspirin. It's also anti-spasmodic and so helps to relieve cramps. And according to homeopathy, regular external application can help to reduce wrinkles, and sagging skin and muscles.
  • Mountain Arnica extract - In complementary medicine this plant is used topically for bruises, sprains, muscle aches, wound healing, joint pain, insect bites and swelling from broken bones. This study found that arnica root contain derivatives of thymol which can have an anti-inflammatory effect. This study found that arnica gel was as effective as ibuprofen gel in treating symptoms of hand osteoarthritis. 
  • Burdock extract – burdock has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties (there's no online link to the original study but it is mentioned in that paper).
  • Nettles are traditionally used to treat painful muscles and joints (not to mention eczema, arthritis and gout). And Black mustard seeds have been traditionally used to treat arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago and aches and pains.

So far so good, let’s get into the review…

Lemony scented and easy to apply this has become one of our post workout staples. A little goes a long way and it soaks in quickly - which is great if you’re in a hurry. Once you apply it there is a gentle warming effect, which is a great way to soothe your muscles after a workout but it’s also fantastic for sore muscles, lower back pain and people who haven’t managed to get into the habit of bodybrushing or simply prefer a nice massage.

We also think that this oil is also perfectly suited to zaggora hotpants given that the birch extract will enhance the hotpants bio-ceramic magic and the other ingredients will help protect your muscles from pain.

Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Mountain Arnica Extract, White Birch Leaf Extract, Nettle Extract, Burdock Root Extract, Jojoba Seed Oil, Fragrance, Linalool*, Citral*, Limonene*, Coumarin*, Citronellol*, Gerianol*, Farnesol*, Eugenol*, Black Mustard Seed Extract.
*Component of natural essential oils

Review #2: Dr Hauschka Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner

Rating: 5/5, 100ml bottles available from feelunique for £24.95 (inc worldwide p&p),Dr Hauschka UK for £24.95 (+p&p) & Dr Hauschka U.S. for $34.95 (+p&p).

According to the box this product revitalizes and nurtures arms and legs before and after exercise, reduces the appearance of varicose veins and cellulite and warms and enlivens legs that are tired from standing or sitting too long leaving your limbs energised and invigorated.

You know the drill, let’s take a look at the main ingredients;

  • Borage extract is a source of Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), which is required for moisture retention and healthy skin cells.
  • Rosemary essential oil is traditionally used to soothe aching muscles, relieve coldness and act as a pick-me-up. Historically it has been used to “renovate vitality of paralysed limbs” and Don Quixote used it to make the miraculous fierabras balm. How’s that for some culture?

I’ll be the first to admit that after using the Birch Arnica Body Oil this product came as a bit of a shock when I applied it; it is not oily, it’s a toner. If this had been a face product I would have fully understood that toner means not oily, but for some reason it didn’t sink in until I wearily applied it to my aching calves the morning after a lot of dancing and jumping around. It has a strong smell of rosemary which dissipates quickly after application. It drys on the skin almost instantly and even though it is a toner it does leave your skin moisturised.

This product was a lifesaver (in that instant and others)! Within minutes there was no weariness or pain in my legs or arms and, best of all, the pain didn’t come back at all. I don’t have any varicose veins but this product did help reduce the signs of my thread veins, which is always a plus!

Ingredients: Alcohol, Castor Seed Oil, Borage extract, Water, Fragrance, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Linalool*, Citral*, Gerianol*, Citronellol*, Coumarin*.
*Component of natural essential oils

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Zaggora Hotpants: the key to weight loss?

If I were to utter the words “hot pants” to you, what would cross your mind? Visions of teeny tiny spandex shorts? Some sort of fashion disaster? A potentially deadly wardrobe malfunction/mistake? Or even a play on the old schoolyard game hot potato? Some of you might even be thinking about an episode of a tv show that culminates in this image:

Luckily for all of us, we’re not talking any of those things.
Oh no, we’re talking neoprene cycling shorts with ‘bio-ceramic’ technology that causes these special not-so-little Hotpants to reflect body heat, increasing perspiration by up to 80% which will in turn promote deeper warming of tissue and the breakdown of fat cells. The harder you work, the more effective the Hotpants.
The Hotpants site even claims that if you combine Hotpants with your regular lifestyle (including workouts) for 2 weeks you could lose up to 2 dress sizes. And the deeper warming of tissue and breakdown of fat cells mean blasting your cellulite!

Ohhhhh yeaaaaah! I hear you say. The question is do they really work? According to the testimonials on the Hotpants site they are kicking butt. But promo testimonials have never really done it for us, they may well be true but we thought that we’d road test it for you.
A few months ago we mentioned our good friend Angela. She has kindly volunteered to be our guinea pig, she works long shifts, has erratic sleep patterns and exercises at least twice a week. Her diet comprises of salads, rice, meat once a week, dairy, eggs, teas, beans, fish twice a week, and fruit and vegetables. She's also known to have the occasional snack!
She currently weighs in at 18 stone 3.5lbs, has a BMI of 44.2 and she needs to lose 7 stone 3lbs. And her body measurements are 48-41-52.
For the next 30 days (starting today) Angela will be wearing her hotpants every day for at least an hour. We plan to measure her in a month and she’ll be providing us with a full review.
If you’re interested in being a part of this challenge and have your pic on the blog then all you need to do is send us your original weight and measurements (along with a before pic if you want) @ Wear your hotpants everyday for at least an hour, make a note if you exercise with them (what type of exercise and how long you exercised for), and at the end of the 30 day challenge send us your weight, measurements, and any comments you might have (along with an after pic if you’d like) and we’ll include them in our final review. Just in case you were wondering the info would only be used for the purposes of the review!
If you’d like to do the challenge without being part of the review, just follow the steps above without sending us anything.
If you’d just like to buy a pair of these 21st century cycling shorts then  you can get them from:
  • the Zaggora Hotpants site (they also sell leggings and capri leggings made of the same material)
  • or from Firebox for £44.99 (inc P&P) - Angela bought hers from Firebox.
We Hope You're Having a Lovely Day!
Layla, Em & L

p.s. Zaggora are currently offering a discount code on twitter: Get 25% off @Zaggora products using the tweet #Hotpantsrock and they'll send you back a discount code!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

damned food monkeys......

The food monkeys have got to me again, I'm so sorry for the lack of posting. I'm on the mend and promise to get some awesome posts to you soon!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

York Test Food Laboratories offering reductions on their allergy tests!

York Test Laboratories are recommended by the UK charity Allergy UK.

They are currently offering reductions on 2 of their tests. According to Allergy UK, food intolerance can contribute (if not cause some of) the following conditions:
Abdominal pains, aches and pains, asthma, arthritis, bloating, constipation, chronic Fatigue Syndrome, diarrhoea, eczema, fatigue, fibromyalgia (M.E), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), fluid retention, headaches, lethargy, Restless Leg Syndrome, rhinitis, sinusitis, skin problems, stomach cramps, tension, urticaria (hives), unexplained weight loss, wheezing.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms or conditions and were wondering whether food intolerance might be involved now might be the time to find out.

First off, the basic First Step Food Intolerance Test is a basic home-to-laboratory pin-prick blood sample test which tells you whether an IgG antibody food reaction is present in your blood. You send the sample back in the prepaid envelope and they will post you your results in 10 working days. It's been reduced by 50% and is now £9.99.

If you want something a little more comprehensive then the FoodScan 113 Food Intolerance Programme is what you're looking for, use voucher code JAN12 to get the test for £199 (a reduction from £250). You will receive:
  • A home-to-laboratory pin-prick blood sample kit to test for food-specific IgG antibodies against 113 foods. 
  • A personalised results pack containing detailed test results and a guide book explaining the principles of treating food intolerance by eliminating certain foods from your diet. 
  • A credit card sized summary of your results and two telephone consultations with a BANT (British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) registered Nutritional Therapist to support you in changing your diet. 
  • One year’s free membership to the leading medical charity Allergy UK.
If you're interested in these offers last until midnight of the 8th september 2012! Available to UK residents only. And if you go to the York Test Laboratories page on Nectar eshops you can collect nectar points too!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Chasing away holiday excess

We know how you’re feeling; Christmas and New Year have passed and, despite your best efforts, you were either tricked into eating something you couldn’t, ate something that used to be a food friend but has now turned it’s back on you, or you made the age old faux pas of taking just one teensy bite. You might even be suffering the effects of stress that the holidays bring.

A week on, you’ve been through the detox process and you’re not feeling so hot. You’re tired, bloated, have dark lines under your eyes, your joints are a bit stiff, and your skin has broken out. You might even find yourself sleeping for a lot longer than usual.

Never fear, we’re here to guide you through this difficult time. Sure, we’re not doctors and urge you all to check out any changes that you want to make to your health regime with your health practitioner first. We consider this more like a bunch of friends lounging around in their post Christmas belly glow (positive or not) talking about tips and tricks that have worked and any other worthwhile info that we’ve come across. With any luck, something will work for you!

Some tips will always be rehashed, in the cases of rehashing we’ll be adding a few more bits of information like research studies, specific brands and so on.

Fresh fruit and vegetable juices.
You’ve heard this one before; fresh fruit and vegetable juices are a superfast way to provide your body with nutrients. And it’s true. Consuming fresh fruit and veg is good for you, one study even found that when post-menopausal women increased their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables there was an increase in their bone mineral density.

If you’re tempted by store juices in cartons you might want to check out this article from July of 2011 – apparently our fruit juice labels aren’t as honest as you might think.

I have been relying on fresh pineapple and coriander juice (tastier than you think, just don’t overdo the coriander, a small handful will be enough when juicing half of a pineapple.) and pear and watercress juice this week. I can say that it’s helped give me a boost and has helped with the icky detox process. So I found out just what I was getting in my daily juice:

A fruit composed of coalesced berries, our beloved pineapple. Low in calories and high in soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, pineapple contains bromelain which is famed for breaking down protein. What you might not know about bromelain is that it also has anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-clotting properties. But be careful, when consumed in large quantities during pregnancy bromelain can cause uterine bleeding – I’ve not found any solid reference for that one yet but it’s worth noting.

Pineapple is also packed full of the antioxidant vitamin c, has good amounts of vitamin A and is rich in B-complex vitamins.

Coriander or cilantro also contains antioxidants and is a fabulous little herb. Some folk hate the taste because of their genes and there’s a bit of controversy surrounding the claims that it can help the body rid itself of heavy metals. But there are a lot of proven and widely accepted positives for this plant:

  • But it can be very good for you, it is traditionally used as an anti-anxiety folk remedy in Iran and this study found that it helped to reduce anxiety in busy mice.
  •  this animal study demonstrated that it helps the body release insulin and has an insulin-like effect in diabetics.
  • While this study demonstrated that coriander seeds helped to increase good cholesterol while reducing bad cholesterol – that’s pretty awesome.
Watercress is one of those superfoods that hides in the background, it’s peppery and can be an acquired taste to begin with. If you’re not so sure about it (and aren’t allergic to the stuff) it’s worth persevering.

A great source of iron, calcium, folic acid, vitamins A and C, studies have shown that watercress can help inhibit the growth of certain cancers (such as breast cancer, lung cancer, and prostate cancer). A recent study also found that it can help boost the concentration of carotenoids in the blood.

Due to it’s high iodine content it can also help to strengthen the thyroid, which is great news for hypothyroid sufferers.

But, there is a word of warning; watercress is a known inhibitor of certain drugs (I’m sorry I can’t list them here), as we always say, please check with your health practitioner that it is safe and suitable for you.


Sheesh, we get it already. You know the deal, it’s great for your gut and our favourite brand is bio-kult. But what we didn’t know is that probiotics are also awesome for your liver as evidenced here.

It’s an age old recommendation that everyone likes to give. But which ones help the body get over bloating and food-related madness?

Well, we’re here to tell you which ones Em, L, myself and all of our food-trouble friends have had success with:
  1. Yoga,
  2. Walking (and when you can tolerate it quick bursts of running),
  3. jumping around on a trampet trampoline, or in your kitchen for at least 2-3 minutes.
  4. going out in the fresh air 
If you’re interested in yoga dvd’s or books we have a few recommendations:

Rodney Yee Yoga, with products covering all yoga levels, rodney yee is a fantastic and well-paced teacher. Our favourite is Power Yoga Total Body, don't be alarmed by the title though. The trick with yoga is to follow your body, everyone who practices yoga is always learning something about their body and the yoga pose. This dvd works you out, so long as you take it at your own pace and pick and choose which exercises you partake in it’s not as intimidating as trying to force yourself to work through it.

David Hittleman’s yoga for health – this was my introduction to yoga, I discovered it at my gran’s house when I was 8 or 9 and asked her to explain. Just in case you’re getting visions of the kid who loooved Physical Education right now, I’d like to let you know that I sucked at P.E. (really) and would go to great lengths not to do it. This book has step-by-step illustrations which guide you through basic yoga moves, and with prices starting at 1p +£2.75 postage it's a steal!

If you'd like to check out our other dietary health tips you might like our posts on foods that  can help with blood sugar levels, the alternatives to sugar series, and the bloating posts. Unfortunately blogger is being slow right now so we can't update the post. Please check back later for links and our ultimate detox tea!

Thanks so much for reading, we hope our tips help!
If you have any detox tips let us know!

For all you keen readers out there here's a post from Scandi Kitchen with her tips for green cleaning and green grooming.  Make sure you check out her favourite deodorant recipe and her cooking recipes - they're scrumptious!

Freddy, if you are reading this, don't worry. We've hit the research hard and have found a few new products to test out. In the mean time check out this post on shampoo free hair cleaning. If you're not Freddy but would like to know who they are click here to go to our urtekram rose shampoo post and check out the comments, maybe you can help!