I'm always on the look out for amazing natural makeup brands and while the industry is growing, I still find it hard to find a brand that meets my expectations. More often than not natural brands are let down by aspects such as design and packaging and often product performance too.

Thankfully, there are some really amazing brands that have been popping up since I made the switch to more 'clean' and 'natural' cosmetics etc. One brand that I have just recently discovered is Arbonne.

Arbonne are a, what they describe themselves as, science based company who strike to use the purest of ingredients combined with the latest research and technology to create beautiful, safe healthy cosmetics. Arbonne, have a huge list of ingredients that they don't use including all the usual culprits such as parabens, propylene glycol etc, although they do use Dimethicone in some products. They are also cruelty free and vegan!
I first discovered them a while back on social media, but I admit I didn't look into them that much. It wasn't until I came across their stand at the Love Natural, Love You show that I really stopped and had a look.

As I was new to the brand I decided to indulge in a little makeover with the lovely Arbonne consultant Sarah, who was there that day. Sarah was amazing, talking me through the products from skincare to makeup, showing me what was best for my problem areas and hooking me up with a foundation that actually matches my skin tone. I loved the final look and ended up buying a few bits and pieces to start off my collection.

Here's a snapshot of some of the pieces of makeup I bought, which I thought would give you a nice overview of the brand, like it did me. If you want full reviews etc let me know in the comments and I can do a more in-depth look at each of the products.

First purchases were these two lip products. Smoothed Over Lipstick in Dream, a silky pink that in the package looks like it has more peach undertones, but on the lips for me it is more of a softer blue toned barbie pink which I adore. To accompany it I got the Lip Liner in Posey which is a much darker deeper red toned pink. Both are gorgeous, super pigmented, very creamy and the lipliner is really long lasting!

For Blush I bought the shade Blossom which is a lovely warm bronze toned peach with fine gold shimmer running through it. It's so stunning and the colour payoff is amazing, you have to use a light hand.

Last but not least I got the Perfecting Liquid Foundation in the shade Honey Beige which is a medium coverage foundation, it blends like a dreams and gives a semi-matt finish. Oh and it has SPF 15 too. What is really great about Arbonne foundations is they have lots of formula options, cream, liquid etc and a great range of shades from pale to dark skin tones, suitable for a wide range of skin tones and ethnicities.
I partnered this purchase with the Makeup Primer which my first impressions are so far good, but I want to test it some more.

Overall, from first impressions I'm really loving Arbonne as a brand, now they aren't the 'cleanest' of brands out there, as I mentioned they do use Dimethicone in some products, but in general I'm comfortable using their products and I think they have an incredible range for a more natural brand.

Brand Introduction // Arbonne

So about a month or two ago I cut all my crazy long thick hair off. While it was amazingly liberating, it did mean that I had to get used not only changing up my whole haircare routine, but all my products too! I've gone from only washing my hair once a week to twice a week and for me this is a huge change.

I was previously using another conditioning shampoo and conditioner but after having my hair cut I found it was simply becoming too heavy on my hair and instead of nourished it became greasy, so I would wash my hair again, which made it over produce oil, combined with the heavy products id have to wash it again...on and on. It was a bad cycle. Thankfully, after few tests of other shampoos in my stash, Tints of Nature came to my rescue.

After finding huge success with the Tints of Nature Dry Shampoo, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed with the brands Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner* set.

First thing you notice is the scent, it's actually very strong for a shampoo and conditioner (they have very similar scents) but it is so amazing. It's like Raspberry ripple sweets or something. And while you may see the word 'Parfum' and wince, it actually states that they use only 100% Natural Aromatics so I'm a happy chappy because scents are a huge deal to me.

Another major bonus for me is that these are both colour safe, and I can definitely vouch for that aspect of them, I'm a serial hair dyer and have had horrible experience before, but these keep my colour really well. I guess what with being originally a hair colouring brand, they really know how to protect it. The shampoo is free from SLS and Sodium Chloride which is one of the reasons they are so gentle on colour.

As for their cleaning and hydrating power, they do exactly what they say they do without over stripping the hair or weighing it down. The shampoo is lovely to use as you still get a slight lather despite the absence of SLS and you only need a palm sized amount to have a proper clean. With this shampoo you can actually also massage it in and leave it on for 5 minutes to get a really deep clean, which I've found really effective after I've gone a bit heavy on the natural hairspray.

Both the shampoo and conditioner are definitely very hydrating, but they don't weigh my hair down or leave any residue in my hair and it doesn't get greasy nearly as quickly now I've swapped over to these. One key thing I've found, thanks to them not having silicones in, is that they leave my hair really shiny and glossy and 'floofy' without being frizzy. Tints of Nature also have a Hydrate Treatment which is like a hair masque but I've genuinely not needed to use it as the conditioner, like the shampoo, can be left on for 5 or so minutes to really do it's thing. With my short hair that works wonders as it is.

Other things I like about these two are:
  • they don't contain animal ingredients and aren't tested on animals
  • they have Soil Association certified ingredients and Natural and Organic Standard ingredients - such as Wheat Protein, Chamomile, Aloe, Black Oat Seed extract etc.
  • reasonably priced at £6.98 each
  • sensible sizes - the shampoo (250ml) is bigger than the conditioner (200ml) (because no-one uses conditioner as fast as shampoo, it's a fact of life!)

These genuinely are two great products that I'm very pleased to be using currently, it's no wonder that they won the Haircare Range award at the Natural Health International Beauty Awards 2016. The Hydrate Conditioner has even won the 'Best Buy' category in the The Green Parent Natural Beauty Awards 2016.

More hair salvation from Tints of Nature

As girls, when your menzies comes along it's understandable that, without sounding crass, you're more concerned about what's coming out, than what's going in...
(UM Eeeww. I joke, but no seriously, it's an important topic).

For the past few years I have been tracking down and testing out some more natural alternatives to the standard tampons and pads you get in your local Boots.
There have been some serious hits and misses (and embarrassments) along the way! So when I do find a new brand to test out, I'm all for it.

A few moons ago the lovely company JO SAYS contacted me and introduced their line of natural and organic tampons. Impressed by their standards I was more than happy to give these a whirl! So, for the past few months I have been testing out both the JO SAYS Super and Regular Organic Tampons*.

Firstly, I was delighted to discover they were applicator tampons. I don't think I really need to explain that further do I? I mean I'm totally open and don't care about TMI but you guys might so...moving on.
As mentioned these tampons are made using organic cotton, and boast a number of different certifications, including FDA, OCS (which means it's also approved by ECOCERT), GOTS and more. To have a product with this many certifications and such major ones as well really makes them a standout in the field of organic famine hygiene products.

As for performance, like everything this will completely depend on each and every persons body, but for me these to be very comfortable, easy to use and work exactly as traditional tampons would and I've experienced zero leaking. In fact I think they are a little more absorbent as when they (both super and regular) are 'full' they don't tend to start saturating the string, which is something I've unpleasantly had to deal with before with other brands. There are several styles of expansions with tampons and these expand outwards into two side 'wings' like a figure of 8 that are concertinaed into an 's' shape when dry. Usually I do opt for tampons that expand in more of a flower 360 way, but these have proved to be just as effective.
The applicator tube is made from cardboard and has the usual smooth coating so it's much better than having a non-biodegradable plastic one and just as comfortable.

On another note, it is great to see a brand with lovely packing, I know really it's not that important but it is refreshing to have a brand that isn't emblazoned with the typical green and yellow floral designs (i'm not throwing shade at other brands here). These look stylish and a bit more appealing somehow.

JO SAYS is a company based in both Paris and Shanghai and currently these are available to buy online. They even do a monthly subscription so you can get your tampons sent through just when you need them, which is pretty cool! Seeing as they are organic, they are pretty pricey, when I converted the cost of one box of 20 regular tampons from ¥90 it works out to be about £10. Which yes is super expensive but sanitary care is expensive anyway and these are organic which bumps the price up more. Ultimately, it's all down to how much you think your health is worth.

Monthlies // JO SAYS

Is this not one of the prettiest lamps you have ever seen? This is a Himalayan salt lamp and I have been wanting one for years. This year for my birthday I was lucky enough to be given one from my bf (with some heavy hinting/directing). These lamps come in both pink and white salt rock/cyrstal, I love the pinky orange ones but it was a white one I had my heart set on. And I am over the moon with it.

So why a Himalayan salt lamp?
Well, there's a lot of research into the health benefits of salt lamps on the body and the mind and I am up for anything that can improve my environment and health in a natural and non-disruptive way. Now I like to think I'm quite open minded but at the same time I am quite a cynical person, I like 'facts' and 'science' and 'proof' while also believing that we can never know anything for certain (basically i'm just super confused and hedging my betts). So, I tend to take everything with a pinch of salt (pun totally intended). Here's some reasons why these lamps are thought to be so beneficial.

The Science Bit:
In a hyper condensed and simplified nutshell the best way to explain it is that all the technology in out lives creates positive ions in our environment. This is called 'electromagnetic radiation' (EM radiation). EM radiation is known to cause stress, negativity effect sleep, lower the immune system, and increase static etc. Himalayan salt lamps have the opposite effect. They produce negative ions which neutralise the EM radiation. Thus improving your health and environment.

Not only do salt lamps cleanse the ions in the environment they are in, but they also cleanse the air. The lamps draw moisture (water molecules) from the air and locks it into the salt. Amongst the water molecules there are all sorts of other particles in the air such as dust, pollen and smoke etc. When the salt lamp draws in the water molecules it takes in these other particles too. The heat of the lamp then evaporates the water from the salt, but the particles are kept locked in the salt, so your air is cleansed and even deodorised. Clever no? This can really help with allergies and people who suffer with asthma.

There are a whole bundle of other benefits (improved sleep, reduce coughs, treating SAD, improving energy etc etc) but I think these are the two most major ones for anyone to think about. This post deliberately only offers a snapshot into the benefits as it's best to do lots of research of your own and there are so many gazillions of articles out there that can explain everything (including the science stuff) in much clearer and better detail than me.

As for me, I've been really enjoying having my lamp in my bedroom where I use my laptop and phone a lot. The soft glow is super calming and while i'll never have science to explore any personal changes to my life from the lamp, I feel great having it. Next up I want to expand my collection with a pink himalayan salt lamp and a few small tea light ones for other rooms in my flat.

What are your thoughts on Himalayan salt lamps?

Home Additions // Himalayan Salt Lamp

I already stated this on my Instagram, but I'm going to be bold and state it right from the get go on here too. This is hands down the best natural mascara I have ever tried! Yep. Genuinely. Now mascara is my desert island beauty product and I've tested out, and fallen in love with quite a few. But this one from Lady Green just ticks all the boxes and has me reaching for it day after day!

I previously discovered this Lady Green Divine Mascarade Mascara* about a year or so ago in Wholefoods. But as soon as I realised that it was a real keeper, it disappeared off the shelves. And I couldn't find it again in the UK. Then the lovely people at BigGreenSmile got in touch saying they had some amazing new brands, and one of those brands was Lady Green! 

I wasn't too sure if it was the same mascara at first, but when it arrived and I saw it's distinctive pretty patterned packaging I knew it was the one! This mascara does everything you would want from a mascara. It lengthens a lot, adds volume, holds a curl and separates the lashes, doesn't clump, and despite not being waterproof, it barely smudges at all! The shade is called Noir and the formula is a lovely true black, they describe it as 'ultra-pigmented' which I definitely agree with. It is the perfect fluidity, neither too wet nor too thick. There's actually nothing that I dislike about this mascara, for me it hits every mark. It doesn't flake and gives perfect natural look with one coat and a much more dramatic look with two or three.

Lady Green is a french brand that is Ecocert organic certified and cruelty free. They are all about providing natural and organic products for young ladies, designed to give young women confidence and be positive about their bodies. As I said it was really hard to find them in the UK but thankfully now some of the range including this gorgeous Divine Mascarade mascara are available in the UK thanks to BigGreenSmile, one of my favourite online natural products retailers. This mascara retails for £14.99 and I think it's worth every penny!

The Most Divine Mascara

When it comes to my hair, I'm mega lazy! Up until the past few weeks I've had very long, very thick hair for quite a few years and anyone with long thick hair knows, you can get away with not washing it for quite a while. In fact I only ever washed my hair once a week! Now I've cut all my hair off above my shoulders and this changed things pretty quickly!

During the adjustments period this little bottle of Dry Shampoo from Tints of Nature* has been a very good friend to me. I first tried this out just before I headed out on holiday (the main reason I cut off all my hair) and I knew straight away that it was amazing. I've mentioned before that I've tried other natural dry shampoos and been super impressed, but compared to this one they pale in comparison. During my holiday it was great to have this on hand, a dinky travel sized bottle that packed a punch in a matter of minutes. I wanted time for sunbathing not washing my sweaty barnet.

On my way back from holiday I'll be very open and admit that I started having one of the longest, most stressful anxiety attacks of my life. I don't know why it happened or what it was about but it lasted almost 5 days nonstop and dealing with that, going back to work and everything else that makes up day to day normal life got the better of me. Most mornings I was forcing myself out of bed, making myself have the briefest of showers and in the evenings I was curled up in bed endlessly reading humorous comics to distract myself in anyway possible. Washing my hair was not on my agenda. Long story short this Dry Shampoo turned up at just the right time and saved me from an extra chore.

The ingredients are ridiculously simple and clean, like many dry shampoos it is based on using natural starches to absorb oils and it works wonders. What I like best about the formula is that it doesn't have the big beads of product that often natural shampoos have to add more volume. Somehow it manages to give volume and texture without the chunky bits, making applications and wear much easier and cleaner. Also I was impressed to find that once settled and blended into the hair it doesn't look chalky or white in your hair (mine is quite dark) which again is greta if your'e being speedy, no need to panic it's showing!
Now I don't know what ingredients they use for scent as they are guarded under the privacy term of 'parfum' but it smells dang good!and it's stated as 100% fragrance. Definitely picking up some citrus and gingery scents, maybe the scent from the eugenol perhaps. Very fresh and clean.

The bottle is also genius, again like other natural dry shampoos it is non-aerosol pump bottle, but what makes this so unique and so 'user-friendly' is the brilliant design of the application nozzle which can be moved and twisted for easy application. It's pretty genius and we all know I'm a sucker for great packaging design. After use the nozzle also slots down onto the main bottle and catches on a lip that stops it from puffing out in your bag. See, I told you it was super clever design!

This tiny bottle packs up to 100 'washes' (15g) and costs £11.99

Tints of Nature Dry Shampoo

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