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.

IMG_3417You have no idea how hard it is to take good selfies of my hair…

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 :)

 

The Palm House – Kew Gardens in Crisis

This place, this magical building bursting with life, is in danger.

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And so is the wonderful botanic garden and conservation heavyweight that contains it. That’s right. Our government is cutting its funding of Kew Gardens, endangering the history, collections and research that make it one of, if not the most important botanic gardens in the world.

I can’t believe I’ve only just heard about this stupidity. The government is making cuts left right and centre, which has resulted in a smaller workforce dealing with the same amount of work that they, and their old colleagues, were doing before that. The implication here is insulting – that government workers and civil servants weren’t pulling their weight beforehand. The vast number of hours the remaining workforce have clocked in overtime demonstrates that this just wasn’t true. What a surprise.

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Cutting Kew’s funding has had similar effects - but these won’t just negatively affect such unimportant areas as the NHS, the criminal justice system and the legal system (I hope you can hear the exhausted sarcasm here), these cuts affect the E N V I R O N M E N T. The current government hasn’t done nearly enough to protect the environment in the first place, but apparently they think they’ve been far too generous.

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Kew needs funding. It’s not a theme park, its not a trashy attraction in the centre of London with a metric tonne of touristy crap to buy. It’s quiet, sensible, beautiful and important. What does that mean? That is isn’t going to make enough money from ticket sales to operate without a subsidy, that’s what.

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I’m not trying to claim that Kew is a tiny victim that needs to be protected. It’s world renowned, has partnerships with huge corporations and an annual footfall of over a million. But a botanic garden and massive research centre has employees, it has costs, and when every square inch of a place isn’t built to make a profit, that means it isn’t going to make much profit. That’s the fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism, that everything worthwhile will make money. Frankly, the opposite is true, but I’ll get sidetracked if I say any more on that subject.

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Kew’s sponsorship was fulfilled, and cut, by DEFRA, who I actually have some experience working with. They [were?] a very creative government agency who a few years ago subsidised the creation of a website called Our Land, that encourages UK tourists to spend their holidays in eco-friendly places in protected destinations like the Cotswolds, the South Downs, the Cairngorms and the New Forest. The idea was that tourism was the only way to keep these areas profitable, and so by promoting tourism they were protecting the areas.

Very clever, and exactly what is happening in the rainforest with organisation like the Crees Foundation and the Rainforest Alliance. There was some disagreement within DEFRA about cutting Kew’s funding, and I’m sure they were under pressure to make cuts because of all this austerity b******t, so hopefully the people who actually care about the environment are still there. Or maybe I just want to like them because working for Our Land was what financially allowed me to volunteer with Crees.

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I wanted to make a post talking about how magical the Palm House is, how it was hotter and more humid than the real rainforest and made me feel like I was in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. Those things are true, but when I read about the threats and cuts being made, I couldn’t just keep my mouth shut. Enjoying natural beauty is great, but when we can, we have a responsibility to preserve and protect the things that please us.

On the 8th of July, there will be a Parliamentary Rally asking the government to reverse the cuts, and to cancel proposed new cuts too. You could go along and support it, you could tweet, send a letter to your MP, tell all your friends, or just generally spread the word. Our planet is in crisis, we are destroying the environment. Kew’s research can and will help us save it – help save them so they can do their job.

Update: I went to the Parliamentary Rally. Read about it here.

LGBT Pride-Proof: Clarins Everlasting Foundation Makeup Review

I’m writing this review through the haze of the kind of hangover only LGBT Pride can produce. You know the one that comes of jumping and screaming all day with no water, then drinking and dancing all night with lots of not-water. So I wasn’t going to write today for fear I wouldn’t be able do justice to Clarins’ brilliant Everlasting Foundation. But then I remembered a thought I had when, at ridiculous o’clock this morning, I sat on my floor to take my makeup off. That thought?

“Wow, my foundation is still on, this stuff really is amazing”

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That’s right. Over 12 hours of sun, rain, sweat, tears and pride. I shook hands with Sir Ian McKellen, I danced to Conchita Wurst, I stuck stickers on my face, I painted it with a rainbow, and I sang along to Cher. This foundation stayed with me through it all. I’ve been using Everlasting Foundation for about five months now, so I’m fully aware of how much I love it. I think the only reason I haven’t reviewed it yet is because my old bottle was scruffy looking from being in my makeup bag, so since I knew I’d be repurchasing I decided to wait.

It gives a wonderfully even finish, the creamy liquid feels lovely going on, and you wouldn’t be able to make it streak even if you tried. I’ve used many foundations over the years and this is the only one that’s stood up to my perpetual distractedness and never left a streak. It blends so well, and covers dark circles up beautifully. I use shade 103 Ivory, and it comes in seven others.

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It’s been great for my skin too, being non-comedogenic and oil free, but I don’t find it drying or irritating which such things can sometimes be. It also contains a tea extract, which will give it an anti-oxidant, pollution protective effect.I just apply with my fingers, and I find that the drying time is perfect for that – you can dot it on everywhere and then blend without it setting in a blob, yay! It also doesn’t transfer onto clothes very easily at all. I highly, highly recommend this, it’s definitely the best foundation I’ve ever had, and at £27 for something that’ll last about 4 months, I think its very well priced. Get it here!

I also recently had a bit of a Clarins splurge…well, you can see the evidence here. The minis and bag were a free gift with the blush and concealer, and I’ll be reviewing all of them soon! Obviously I don’t want to attack my face with all these new things in one go, but I’m working my way through!

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I love Clarins.