Attention people who menstruate: Buddha Nose Girl Balm

I’m really adverse to using everyday painkillers because I don’t believe that drug companies necessarily want the best for us, and I’d rather know what’s happening in my body so I can be aware of changes. That’s just me though, I know everyone is different. And of course that doesn’t mean I don’t get horrendous period cramps every month. Just today I almost blacked out while talking to someone (they didn’t notice). A while ago I went on the hunt for something natural that I could carry around with me as if it were a sleeve of paracetamol, to help me get through the cramps.

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And hey, guess what, I found something! Buddha Nose’s Girl Balm is a thick organic balm made with a glorious mixture of warming ingredients with bright scents that help to sooth away pain and cut through sluggish pain-induced nausea.

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Now obviously, it goes without saying that this doesn’t eliminate pain like popping a pill. What this does is all together more holistic, and healthier. I’m not saying that people with low pain thresholds or extreme cramps will be able to get along with just this, because I’m not one of those people, but I do think that it will restore a sense of wellbeing, help you to calm down and definitely ease that sicky feeling.

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It has a really gorgeous scent –  refreshing ginger and bright, sweet rose geranium. I can smell lemon in the scent too, although there’s none in the balm. There’s no musk or wood in the fragrance at all, which is important because as I said, much of the effectiveness is aromatherapeutic, and those types of scent really don’t help with feeling groggy.

You rub it on your lower belly and back, and if you’re unlucky enough to have pain spreading down your thighs too, pop a bit on them as well. It absorbs very quickly for me. I think that’s because the base oil is jojoba, which is the most easily absorbed oil since it’s closest to human sebum. This also means that the ingredients can be absorbed better, because they’re being held in jojoba. Along with the ginger, black pepper provides the heat, and it’s amazing what an effect these two run of the mill kitchen ingredients have! Obviously, the action of massaging the area has an effect on the pain too, but with this balm you get the added effects of the ingredients, which I do believe are considerable. I also like to pat a bit behind my ears so I can enjoy the scent for longer. Since owning this, I haven’t used a single other form of pain-relief, (apart from warm baths because they’re just nice).

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I think (though I have no actual experience) that this would be a good product for pregnant mums too? The gingery rose scent must be good for hormone induced nausea, and rubbing it on a painful back would be effective no matter what’s going on in your uterus.

I really find that I forget about the pain for a long time after I use this. I can’t say whether that’s because the pain is gone but it definitely doesn’t bother me. I’m so happy I found it, and I really recommend it. I know I sound a bit diplomatic about it, but I would never want to assume someone else experiences pain the same way I do, so although Buddha Nose Girl Balm is perfect for me, I don’t want to try too hard to convince you that it would do the same for you. Hopefully by reading about my experience you’ll be inclined to try it, and will love it as much as I do! The only stockist in the UK that I know of is Naturisimo.com, where you can get it for £20. It’s actually great value I think, given that I’ve had it for half a year and only used that much!

Do you have any natural pain relief tips or tricks?

Review: Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser

Ok. It took me a helluva lot longer to review my Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser than it should have. Almost as soon as I bought this, I knew it was the best decision basically ever.

Though I adored my previous one, the Replenishing Foaming Cleanser, I noticed that as the weather got hotter my face was getting oilier. I thought this one, with a tonne of chamomile, calendula and marshmallow in it, would be perfect.

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Also, I really like the colour? I’m weird. But it looks really old fashioned and natural you know, which makes me feel like I’m really doing my skin some good. The other thing I love about it is that it FOAMS. So much. Look at this.

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That is one small pump’s worth of product. It’s a lovely soft foam, that leaves your skin feeling so clean. Not squeaky clean, which is actually really bad for you, but fresh, smooth, and soft. It isn’t drying, although I do of course moisturise afterwards.

Like all Jurlique products, it contains a glorious plant cocktail to get your skin to do what you want. Let’s take a look:*

Aloe Vera – Soothing, moisturising

Calendula – Antimicrobial, soothing, healing, anti-inflammatory

Chamomile – Calms, soothes, reduces redness

Daisy –  Evens skin tone

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Grape Seed – Antioxidant, healing

Green Tea – Antioxidant, limits sun damage, reduces redness

Honey – Antibacterial, healing, protective

Marshmallow – Protective, healing, moisturising, reduces redness

Rosa Gallica – Combats acne, smoothes wrinkles, heals irritations

Self Heal – Anti-viral, healing, calming

Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory, evens skin tone, calms irritations, maintains youthful suppleness

Violet – Combats acne, eczema and flakes

Witch Hazel – Astringent, anti-inflammatory, smoothes

It should be pretty clear from that list that bad skin doesn’t stand a chance against this cleanser. I’m obsessed, in love, and delighted with it, and so it my skin. The scent is really lovely too – it’s herbal, fresh and reminds me of aloe vera a lot for some reason – even though I don’t think there’s much aloe in there. I think the aloe and mallow leave an invisible protective layer on your skin – you won’t notice it but it’ll be there. The reason I think that is that I spilled it the other day (I was being an idiot, don’t be like me) and after being covered in it for ages, my hands had this amazing smooth layer on them even after washing.

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One bottle of this stuff lasts for ages (this is a new bottle, long story) – my other Jurlique foaming cleanser lasted about 6 months!! Jurlique’s Balancing Foaming Cleanser is perfect for anyone with skin that goes from dry to oily whenever it pleases, and I think it would be great for skin that’s slightly oily all the time too. It regulates oil production whilst keeping the skin clean and free of spot-causing bacteria. In fact, since I’ve been using it, I’ve only had spots in two places, and I know these breakouts happened in spite of this amazing cleanser (hello, hormones). I can’t recommend this highly enough, especially for summer. Get it here!

*OH ALSO!! By now you’ve probably spotted one or two of my posts about protecting Kew Gardens. You might be interested to know that Kew had a hand in completing this post! Their Species Browser provided me with the medicinal uses of several plants I didn’t already know, including daisy and self heal.

Review: Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Leave In Conditioner

Oh wow is it hot in here. And by here, I mean ALL OF LONDON. It’s ridiculous. I had two job interviews this week and had to go out and buy new clothes because I don’t own anything smart but breathable enough for this weather. Anyway, sweating almost as much as I did in the Amazon aside, this kind of heat does all kinds of dreadful things to my hair, things of the dry frizz variety. Enter: Palmer’s Coconut Oil Formula Leave In Conditioner.

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First things first, this stuff smells DIVINE. I used it just before going out one night (you’ll see the effect below) and one of my friends was drunkenly telling me over and over how good my hair smelled! It’s coconutty, but doesn’t get the stale smell that pure coconut oil gets if you put it on you hair. Consistency-wise, its a very watery lotion, so its perfect for my super thick hair, as cream takes an age to distribute.

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Hope you like my set up. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to break out the ludicrous hawaiian shirt I bought on Brick Lane. Have you ever seen such an angry toucan? Anyway, back to the thing I was supposed to be talking about…

I’ve used the Leave In as a product on wet hair, and to revitalise dry hair, and it’s been great for both. After washing, I needed to dry my hair better than I usually would, because obviously its quite a liquidy formula, but it’s such an amazing defrizzer that it didn’t matter. My hair feels so smooth when I put it on, really really silky and soft.

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After following with my other styling products, the curls stayed soft for several days, which was amazing. But then naturally, they started to frizz up a bit after that. So I reapplied. Here’s a before and after of how that went (hint: really rather well)

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I LOVE this Leave In. It goes perfectly with the Coconut Oil Hair Milk to leave me with silky soft, shiny, perfectly defined curls. I don’t like to use things that make my hair crunchy, but equally I hate having fluffy hair, and this hits it right in the middle. I can’t use the milk when my hair is dry as I can’t brush it, so the leave in is the ideal alternative. And it’s super cheap – only £4.99 on feelunique.com! 

While I was setting up this ridiculous set of photos, I realised that I’ve accumulated quite the collection of Palmer’s products! Not even I realised I loved the brand this much, but I do!

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Before I go, I want to talk about that awesome little thing down in the bottom right. Cocoa Butter Lip Balm.

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Again with the angry toucan, I can’t get enough of it. This lip balm has obviously been around forever, but this was a shape I hadn’t seen before, its oblong rather than round. They do loads of different cocoa butter swivel sticks (a friend of mine used to use a gigantic one that I always thought was cool because you could use it on dry skin too) but I really like this version.

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This is the point where I gave up and just made the photo all about the angry toucan. But do you see what I mean? It’s a really nice shape to use, and its the wonderful Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm you’ve doubtless bought before and loved. If you haven’t – try it out, it goes on silky, and really nourishes wonderfully. Get it from Superdrug for £1.89!

Kew Gardens – A centre for scientific research

Have you read this great article about Jane Goodall’s take on the Kew Cuts? Make sure you go to KewCuts.org for all the latest updates on the situation, as well as links to press and info. This past week has been quite the learning curve – I’ve read so much about the different research projects that Kew is running and how important they are. I’ve picked out some of my favourites below to share with you, because I want to illustrate why it’s so important make the effort to pressure the government about this.

 Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS)

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Herbal medicines are increasingly in demand, as is the public interest in natural body care, which means that there is an growing trade in medicinal plants. Across the world all these plants have different names, some subtly different from one another, some completely so. Kew’s MPNS database will provide a free resource for medicinal plant identification, to avoid confusion and mistakes.

This is very much a ‘behind the scenes’ service, without much intrigue for consumers. But it is so important. Could you imagine buying something you thought was one plant to use in a medicine, and it turned out you’d bought, and used, a completely different one? For example, click here and type in ‘chamomile’ then click ‘go’ and then click ‘Matricaria chamomilla L.’ – you’ll see the gigantic list of different names you can buy chamomile under on the world market. This resource will allow the people who make your natural remedies, health supplements, body lotions, and herbal medicines, to know exactly what they’re selling to you. Thanks, Kew!

Coffee in Ethiopia

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Well, coffee is my favourite thing in the world so it makes sense I’d want to share this with you. This short film is about research Kew did into the effect of climate change on coffee production – you probably saw that in the news because it made quite an impression, and rightly so.

Something that really struck me in this film is where they mention the counterargument ‘well, its just a beverage’. I can’t believe anyone has this viewpoint! Would people really rather see a plant go extinct as a result of human activity, than actually do something about the activity? That’s like loosing all your friends by being horrible to them – wouldn’t you just rather be nice to them instead! This study was so important, and really puts the effects of climate change into perspective. Would we even know about this if it weren’t for Kew scientists? There’s no reason to assume so.

The Fungarium

This is so cool. I know next to nothing about fungi, which is hilarious, because the novel I’m writing actually has a lot of mycology in it. This film is a wonderful behind the scenes peek at a part of Kew you’d never see otherwise. Kew has the largest collection of dried fungi in the world – and a rare team of mycologists to go along with it. Working on the understanding and conservation of fungi is something you might have never thought about, because lets face it, we don’t generally spend much time thinking about mushrooms. But it’s unquestionably important that we have these people researching them and learning about them, without outside pressure or monetary interests.

I could go on. And on and on, seriously, they have such an incredible list of different amazing projects. Here’s a link to a list of environmental research projects including ones on biodiversity, food crops, water and agriculture. Their page on Plants and Fungi also has access to a whole load of databases on plants and what they do – which for a plant geek like me is just absolute heaven.

Now, some news – with the cabinet reshuffle today, we have a new Environment Minister, Liz Truss. Remember the petition you signed? Well, it was addressed to the old one, Owen Paterson. Paterson was a right wing green-hater (literally I don’t even think he’d be offended by that description?) and although I don’t know anything about this new person, I don’t see how she could be any worse than him.

I don’t know exactly what will happen with the petition, but my suggestion for anyone reading this would be to tweet at her, and make parliamentary noise by writing to your MP asking them to sign or support the Early Day Motion. If you follow @KewCuts on Twitter they’ll be sure to keep you updated on the petition. While I’m certainly no political expert (or novice even) it seems to me that it would make sense for Truss to listen, because she’ll be able to make lots of people happy without spending much money at all. Let’s face it, this government have pretty much alienated any voter with a shred of green integrity.

Review: Niki’s Organic Original Balm

First things first, I want to say thank you to anyone that shared my post about Kew Gardens, I was blown away by the amount of interest, and I will be talking more about it soon.

I bought this little pot of Niki’s Organic Original Balm almost a year ago, from an exhibition at a health show. I kind of forgot about it and it just ended up in a nondescript box of things in my bathroom.

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I knew it had loads of uses, but having so many other products to use I never had a reason to get it out. Until I actually got it out, and tried it on a spot that was taking ages to heal. And wow, is it amazing! I’ve become obsessed with it, and have been putting it on all my ‘healing’ blemishes. I’m of the opinion that spots that are coming to a head need completely different treatment to ones that have already done their damage, and are calming down. So, Weleda Aknedoron when they’re red and angry, Niki’s Organic Original Balm when they’re healing.

I can really see the difference in healing since I’ve been using it – my skin is prone to hormonal outbreaks so I tend to spend one half of the month trying to control spots and the next half dealing with the aftermath. Now, I literally have nothing apart from a few marks that haven’t completely gone away yet (I’m still not showing you my face without makeup though). I scoop a bit out with a clean nail, and just pop it on the problem area in the evening after I’ve washed and moisturised. It goes on so smoothly, and feels lovely when it’s on!

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The balm smells absolutely beautiful – and no, there isn’t any lavender in there but I have a whole bunch of dried buds which I needed to use for something. The smell is zingy and refreshing, and comes from lemon tea tree which I’ve never heard of before, but I like it very much. The balm itself is one of those gorgeous mixtures that blemishes and skin problems don’t stand a chance against:

Calendula oil – gentle healing, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory and protective

Hypericum – healing and antibiotic

Tea tree – antibacterial

Rosemary – stimulates microcirculation to enhance healing

Beeswax – antibacterial, healing and protective

Sunflower oil – gentle carrier oil, nourishing, protective, non-comedogenic

Vitamin E – good for scarring

Lemon Tea Tree – yummy scent

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I’m so impressed with Niki’s Organic Original Balm, and really pleased I came across it when I was last at home! Make sure you check out the list of uses on the website, because it’s really versatile. At £4.99 for a 10ml pot, I think it’s amazing value because you don’t need to use much at all, and it’s really effective. You’ll also be supporting a handmade product which is really important – there are some absolute gems out there in the independent market. This is unquestionably one of them.

Save Kew Gardens – funding cuts and how to stop them

Yesterday I went to the Houses of Parliament, to protest the Kew Gardens funding cuts. I wasn’t sure what I was in for as I walked through the ornately decorated halls and corridors, but it was an absolutely fascinating, motivating experience. Most of the attendees were employees of Kew, and I think I was the only person there with no real connection to place. Given that the petition to stop the cuts has over 90,000 signatures, this was a surprise. But this anti-cuts campaign is falling victim to the same thing that many others have – not enough noise is being made about it. Kew has worldwide influence, and it’s up to people who know how important a place it is, to take the initiative and make the government listen.

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The thing is – it shouldn’t be that hard. Recently, the government boasted about spending over £7 billion on scientific research. With the cuts, Kew only has a £5 million deficit. While that’s disastrous for Kew, in comparison to the kind of money the government normally works with, it’s nothing. This isn’t like trying to convince the government to re-privatise the rail service, or stop the destruction of the probation service. In reality, there aren’t many things the government can do with that £5 million, but saving a British institution of worldwide environmental importance is most certainly one of them.

It’s worth noting that much of that £7 billion the government spent on science has been spent on car manufacturing and overseas oil research. A lot of things could be said about that, but let’s leave it at this: they could probably stand to spend a little bit of money on GREEN science now. Science that will not only benefit the environment, but also the people who live and work in their country.

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Already, 100 jobs have been cut at Kew, and having experienced first-hand a government mandated ‘voluntary exit’ scheme, I know how utterly horrible this is. Everyone is worried about their job, and the ones who are left have a sudden, unbelievable workload to cope with. The work the other people were doing doesn’t just go away. I know a government worker who, in the two weeks following the privatisation of her sector, worked a conservative estimate of 30 hours of overtime in two weeks. And there were people at the Kew meeting who were doing the same.

It’s easy to forget about the human cost of these things – but it’s important not to. You might not think about how job cuts will affect the people who work at Kew, or you might not find it particularly motivating. But you should. After all, humans are what bring you all the wonderful things that Kew does, and without them, there is no garden. Those beautiful flowers and stunning buildings only exist because there are people maintaining them, and the world-renowned research only happens because there are people conducting it.

Sometimes I have to wonder if politicians completely forget this – I mean, they’re kind of prepared for a life of stress, pressure and an absence of job security. That doesn’t mean everyone else is, or that everyone else should be. Stress is not a measure of success, especially in science, the arts and many public services. Being overworked is not an aspiration, it is a problem. And the government, whether they realise it or not, are creating a population of exhausted, stressed, underpaid workers, who never signed up for any of it.

I’ve learned a lot about the amazing work that Kew is doing, and why it’s so important. I will be sharing this with you soon too, but I wanted to talk to you about the people behind Kew, because I met a lot of them yesterday and they were wonderful, dedicated individuals with an enormous, undeserved weight on their shoulders. You can help them, and by helping them, you can help Kew Gardens.

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Wherever you come from, sign this petition, and if you’re in the UK, write to your MP (instructions are below the main text). It doesn’t matter where in the UK you live, because the wider the reach, the better. Although I’m in London now, I still contacted my old MP because technically I’m still registered there, and I thought it would make more sense to spread the word further afield. Neither of these things are hard or take much time, but they make a lot of ‘noise’ in parliament. We were told at the meeting that this ‘noise’ is what makes politicians take note of something – so the more of it you make, the more notice they’ll take.

Sample reviews – REN, Adore, Carmex, Egyptian Magic

Over the past few months I seem to have developed quite the collection of beauty samples. I really don’t know where they’ve all come from, but I thought it was high time I got through a few of them and told you what I thought.

Adore Nourishing Hand and Body Lotion

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This is a brand that I’ve never seen anywhere, apart from a shop near Bond Street where they tried to convince me I needed to spend £100 on some exfoliator that didn’t actually do anything. I picked this up on my way out, and I have to say, it doesn’t really do anything either. It smells horrible – I can’t stand white musk, and this is the muskiest of them allIt’s a light lotion that absorbs fine, but it doesn’t do anything else. Glad I saw through their sales pitch!

REN Ross Centifolia Cleansing Gel

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A while ago I asked REN for a sample of one of their masks, as I wasn’t sure how my skin would react to it, but they sent me this instead. Well, it was free I suppose, but I can’t help but think they shot themselves in the foot slightly by sending me something completely unsuitable for my skin, instead of the thing I already wanted to buy. Unsurprisingly, I did not get on with this one bit, it made my skin very flaky, tight, and didn’t leave it feeling the slightest bit clean. Although it smells beautiful, it has a strange gel like consistency that doesn’t later or spread out over the skin very easily. All in all, not a fan.

Carmex

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Isn’t this adorable? They were handing them out in Westfield Stratford City on Valentine’s Day. I had forgotten that Carmex even existed, and after opening one of these up I remembered how much I love it, and went out to buy a tube. So if you’re reading this Carmex, your Valentine’s Day marketing was a success! Though I’m sure you already knew that :)

Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream

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I’ve read a lot of rave reviews, and I’ve read a lot of ‘what on earth is all the fuss about’ reviews. I fall squarely in the second category. The simple ingredients sound great on paper – with all those bee products they’re certainly doing the worldwide insect population some favours. I’ve tried it on as many things as I can – spots, dry patches, hands, hair and a small bit of my body (I only got a small sachet!) and it hasn’t had any affect at all. Very disappointed, as I like simple things like this. Oh well.

Have you tried any samples recently? Anything you bought after trying it out? I have loads more samples in the works so I’d love to know if you like this kind of post – I’ll do more if so :)