little ondine
As a woman obsessed with natural beauty (or green beauty) there are very few opportunities for me to get excited about new beauty products. Luckily, this little subsection of the beauty industry is hugely innovative and has produced all of the wondrous products below:

Ayurveda Pura
Ayurveda Pura’s ‘De-Tox’ Herbal Tea is the first of three products I have grown to love from their line. As a tea lover, I have tried a number of Ayurvedic teas but nothing featured such a beautiful blend of certified organic ingredients. By the brand’s admission, it helps to gently flush out toxins, clear the energy channels, improve metabolism, and stimulate without caffeinating. A complete staple

Their next product – the Skin-Radiance Exfoliating Cream: De-Stress Formula – has become I godsend I didn’t realise I even needed. Unlike harsh exfoliators, this formula is perfect for drier and more sensitive skin types. While it exfoliates with jojoba grains, it also nourishes with jojoba oil (anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory!) and essential oils of neroli, lemon and frankincense. The perfect addition to a coconut oil cleanse.

Last from Ayurveda Pura: the Daily Replenish Face Cream: Re-Fresh Formula. I rarely choose to use face creams as I don’t feel comfortable when I can feel things on my skin, but this blend of aloe vera, almond, peach and essential oils (rose, neroli and orange) sinks into the skin in less than one minute with no residue. Unbelievably nourishing, to boot.

Little Ondine
Another surprise favourite! Every ‘natural’ nail polish I’ve tried until Little Ondine has been, well, catastrophic. These guys were the game-changers with their all-natural and chemical-free combination of natural resin, organic colourants and water.

Not only do they stay put as long as a normal nail polish, but they actually hydrate your nails and come off by simply peeling from an edge. The odourless polishes come in a slew of pretty hues (even glitters!) meaning you are sure to find a natural dupe for your chemical-laden favourites. A complete no-brainer.

ayurveda pura
little ondine

bath and unwind
Few beauty retailers do natural beauty like Bath and Unwind (and you know how I feel about natural beauty). With a carefully handpicked stock of superproducts, there are just a handful of websites that can rival their repertoire. You find something you want to try and you can rest assured, you’ll love it.

Nonetheless, they refuse to rest on their laurels and have employed a small group of beauty bloggers to conduct continual, unbiased reviews on products of their choice. Myself included (hence, ‘Tried and Tested’!).

For this round of trials, I thought I would review a few things that double up as bangin’ Christmas gift ideas.

First, the Ole Henriksen Ole La La Glow from Head to Toe Blockbuster Kit:
The £59 kit contains a bevy of glow-making products – get this – worth £129. As I can honestly say I’ve become obsessed with each product in the kit, this is an absolute steal.

The real highlights for me are the African Red Tea Foaming Cleanser (zesty, luxurious, antioxidant-rich, and filled with anti-ageing botanical extracts) and the Truth Serum Collagen Booster. Facialists always harp on about the magical properties of Vitamin C, but I haven’t had a smidge of solid proof until using the paraben-free Truth Serum. It is remarkably weightless (a short pump covers my entire face and neck) yet smoothes out wrinkles, hydrates, and smells like citrus cake. Potentially my favourite skin product of 2013.

Though I rate the full set of products, I found the Truth to Go Cleansing Wipes and Truth Is in the Eyes Peel Concentrate particularly strange and wonderful. As well as doing my morning ‘wash’ with the wipes (note: after fully cleansing the night before), I don’t seem to look ‘myself’ without a few dots of the Peel Concentrate anymore. Initially refusing to use a peel on the delicate eye area (associated thoughts: I AM GOING TO BURN MY EYES OUT), positive reviews encouraged me to try the super gentle formula, and I’m glad that I did. It could just as easily be named Dark Circles/Eye Creasing No More (and again, you need SO little).

Nuxe Love from Paris Cocooning Gift Set:
Anyone who has ever received a beauty box will be well aware of (and probably in love with) Nuxe. Their hair and body oil – Huile Prodigieuse – has reached cult status thanks to its hydrating, reparative plant oils and antioxidant vitamins. It also doesn’t hurt that the scent of featured oils like sweet almond and camellia are sexy as hell.

Though this particular gift set includes Huile Prodigious (sold!), it also features Nuxe’s Reve de Miel Lip Balm and Hand Cream. Products I wouldn’t normally purchase from a luxury brand, but as both are fragrance and paraben-free with no preservatives or artificial scents, they have become absolute godsends. Think buttery honey and grapefruit mixed with argan oil. Then try not to eat them.

Caudalie Vine Body Butter:
I remember first trying Caudalie’s magical skin products some ten-or-so years ago when Oprah was praising the brand’s serums to the high heavens. I’m not sure when they fell off my radar, but my reintroduction to the brand – via this natural body butter – has been a welcome treat. My skin is an absolute nightmare in the Winter and this is the only remedy I have tried that is actually a delight to apply (I can thank the fragrant orange tree, bitter orange, orange blossom and orange wood for that one). In addition to being soothing to the touch, it is packed with active ingredients that repair damaged skin and restore the natural hydrolipidic barrier for added protection against dryness.

Decleor Prolagene Lift & Brighten Eye Cream:
I’ve been swapping between the Ole Henrikson eye gel and Decleor’s eye cream because I:
A) …think both deserve a medal.
B) …am terribly indecisive.
C) (All of the above).

C, duh. Both products are gorgeous, but the Lift & Brighten eye cream has the added benefits of illuminating and tightening the eye area (what Decleor call their ‘L-Proline complex’). Though my twenty-something eyes aren’t the kind they’re targeting, the addition of an application spatula (helping to massage the eye area, increase drainage and minimise puffiness) means I’m holding onto this baby for future morning after and heinous box set marathons, if anything.

bath and unwind

birchbox april 2013
As a former Beauty Editor for a beauty box company, I am unreasonably picky when it comes to throwing pesos down to get unidentified beauty loot. With that said, it has been interesting to take a look at the progression of beauty boxes that have been released in the UK over the past year. It probably comes as no surprise to many of you that the unofficial creators of ‘beauty boxes’, US company Birchbox, seem to have been the box to beat since launching in the UK.

Which is why, mon cheres, I am here to review their April 2013 box for you!

My Birchbox included:
mirenesse Perfect Kiss Lipstick pencil in 14 Perfect Kiss
Lip pencils, aka Crayola For Ya Lips, are one of my favourite beauty products. This version by mirenesse was a gorgeous coral-tinted natural pink but rather sheer on application. Though it’s not going to be a handbag staple, I imagine quite a lot of natural beauties would love this.

La Societe Parisienne De Savons Soap
The Art Deco-inspired packaging was lovely, but soap in a beauty box is never going to do it for me.

Gerda Spillmann Renaissance Age Serum
As a cult product, Gerda Spillmann’s Renaissance Age serum uses the extract of edelweiss as its key ingredient and, thanks to the addition of tamarind seed extract, both smells lovely and packs a punch.

Weleda Skin Food
All natural beauty product! Yay! Though Skin Food is quite a heavy product, it is one that I have used a lot on models and can attest to its super nourishing and soothing properties. A little goes a long way which means – even with the sample size – you will get a lot of use out of the product.

Natio Renew Radiance Foam Cleanser
Birchbox provided either Natio’s foam cleanser or their ‘Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser’, of which I received the former. Like Weleda, they are quite a plant-based brand as well as being rich in vitamins and antioxidants. The ‘Renew’ cleanser was efficient, gentle, but didn’t live up to its make-up removing properties. I will keep it at hand for travel purposes, but generally prefer something with a few more active ingredients to cleanse my skin.

Paname Paris Mirror
Okay, it’s a mirror. Though it’s not a ‘normal’ beauty product, I always find it helpful to have an extra mirror lying around (vanity exposed) and love Paname Paris’ Hair (The Musical)-inspired artwork.

What I didn’t receive:
Green & Spring Relaxing Conditioner OR Green & Spring Relaxing Shampoo
I believe one of ‘wildcard’ products in the boxes were Green & Spring’s Relaxing hair products. As a natural beauty junkie, I feel like I would have loved this line of UK-sourced handmade and all-natural products.

With the soap ditched and the Green & Spring sent to all subscribers, this coulda woulda shoulda been an ideal beauty box for me.

What to wear for CHristmas
This week my Outfit of The Week mood board owes a thanks to bevy of new designers I spotted on Kleidoo. Always on the lookout for simple pieces, I think this look is a perfect mashup of well-made staples. An oversized sweater and cape would keep any snow bunny warm while the tight (but stretchy) trousers and statement boots prevent the full ensemble from looking too casual.

Beauty-wise, keep to a soft layer of bronze eyeshadow with a highlighted browbone and inner corner of the eye. By adding mascara and a warm-toned pink lipgloss, you have the epitome of almost-natural beauty.

Get the Look:
Azizi poncho
Beinn trousers
Cruba Cape
Sam Edelman Petty Roccia Python Leather Boot