Kew in the Summer

I think by now my love for Kew Gardens is pretty well documented. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I went again recently!

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It was beautifully hot, and absolutely magical. They have a patch of eucalyptus trees which we walked through, and I’ve never smelt anything so wonderful in my life – they don’t smell the way you’d expect, its spicy, dry and wonderful. I didn’t get a photo of them because they just looked like dry leaves but next time you go, look out for them. But I thought this flower was rather lovely too.

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I explored lots of different places this time, and this bridge over a lake was one of my favourite parts. It was so serene, with ducks and dragonflies everywhere. It’s easy to forget as you walk around this idyllic place, that Kew is still in trouble, that below the surface they’re having to cut jobs. Parliament isn’t in session at the moment, and with the recent changes to the cabinet it’s difficult to tell what will happen. But the Early Day Motion MPs were asked to sign did really well, so that means Parliament supports preserving this wonderful place!

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We went up the brilliant Treetop Walkway, an 18 metre high, 200 metre long platform that you walk around, and gives you absolutely stunning views, as well as the rare chance to see trees from canopy level. I’ve recently learned that I’m funny with heights (why this didn’t occur to me before I don’t know, as I’ve had MASSIVE freak outs on both the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, and when climbing an emergent tree in the rainforest). Anyway, this was taken near the end, when I actually managed to slow down from dragging my friend round at the speed of light. It was really cool though, you should definitely try it!

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And of course, no visit to Kew would be complete without a visit to the Palm House. Check out this awesome plant! I don’t know what it is but it looks like a lily?

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Did you know that Kew is a finalist in the Google Impact Challenge Award? They’re developing a device that will allow them to map disease carrying mosquitoes – a device that would be worn as a wristband or downloaded as a phone app! So cool. It’s this kind of innovation that I love about Kew, yes they do lots of quietly sensible research, but at the same time they’re so creative. Vote for them here.

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Here’s a wonderful video about Kew’s archives and the development of our understanding of the plant world. I can’t work out how to embed it, but you must watch it because it’s beautiful, and fascinating.

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If you’re in London this summer, make a point of visiting Kew. They have so many incredible things going on at the moment, and the whole place looks great. Both times I’ve been I’ve discovered something new and fascinating, this time I think my favourite was the Marianne North Gallery. North was an artist in the 19th century, who travelled the world painting the most incredibly vivid nature scenes. Most were tropical scenes that will transport you to a warmer place when you look at them, or if you’ve already been, bring back memories of the sights and sounds you experienced. It’s amazing to look at these small colourful paintings in their dark air conditioned gallery and feel as though you’re back in the jungle (Speaking of feeling like you’re back in the jungle…look at those leaves!)

 

 

Bioré Skincare Review

The last time I ordered something from ASOS I received two Bioré samples with my clothes. They were a brand I hadn’t tought about for a while, and so I eagerly set about trying these two new/reformulated products. There was a £1 off voucher in there too, so off I went to Boots to see what other products I could try.

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In sample form I got an Ultra Nose Strip - you know, their famous and fun strips that you use to pull the grime out. I love them, how could anyone not. I found it very effective, and they’ve added menthol it seems, so the skin is left feeling lively and refreshed afterwards. I also got some Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser. This uses charcoal to draw impurities out, and leave the skin super clean. I used it once a day, washing with my regular Jurlique cleanser the rest of the time.

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It starts off as a black gel, and smells very nice indeed. It has a mild tea tree/witch hazel scent, and as you use it the tingle of menthol really refreshes. My skin felt clean, fresh and it definitely looked clearer after I’d used this for a while. It’s really good. I probably won’t switch to this, just because I love my Jurlique cleanser so much, and my skin isn’t that congested so I probably don’t need to use it every day. But if you do, I’d recommend it.

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This is the product I bought with my voucher (I got some Ultra Nose Strips too but I imagine you all already know what those look like). It’s the Self Heating One Minute Mask, which comes in single use sachets, a sensible way of storing this kind of product as I think it reacts with air.

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You just tear one of these open and spread it over your face, before massaging it in for one minute and rinsing off.

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The thing I really liked about this is (if you’re still reading after seeing that ludicrous photo) that the mask gets much hotter than these ones normally do, and so it really felt like it was opening and clearing out my pores. My skin felt so fresh and tingly after I used it, and I could really see that my pores were clearer. It’s not often you can see the effect of something like this so quickly, which means this really is a great product. Well done with your reformulating, Bioré!

Bringing the beauty – a Travel Post!

I’m super excited. Tomorrow I’ll be going to New York for the first time! And then up to Canada, to stay with a friend. I can’t wait, and I thought that before I go I’d share how I roll when it comes to travelling.

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These are my essentials for hand luggage. A good book. Palmer’s lipbalm. Weleda Skin Food (for my face). Weleda Rhinodoron spray for my nose (the dry air doesn’t like my sinuses). A mini Jurlique Rose Hand Cream (luxurious and nourishing, because I’ll be using a tonne of antibac hand wipes too). Pacifica Coconut Milk Wipes (for freshening up). Urbanears Headphones (the best, and prettiest). Gin Gin ginger sweets (for ear popping purposes). Benefit’s They’re Real! (because my eyelashes are more or less see through so I need mascara at all times). Buddha Nose Girl Balm (the smell is calming and refreshing at the same time).

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I’m so glad I invested in a few new mini bottles to decant all this in. Because it went from all that…

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To just these! So satisfying. I’m going to need to wash my hair while I’m away which is annoying, because I need to use so much shampoo and conditioner I have no choice but to bring whole bottles. But being able to shink the rest of the products down to just this has helped SO MUCH. Most of these bottles came from Muji, with the exception of the Travalo perfume bottle, and the oil bottle, which actually came from a Weleda Body Oil set.

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I’ve kept it super simple with make up. To be fair, my make up routine is very simple all the time anyway, as I rarely experiment. I just decanted a couple of broken eyeshadows into my tiniest travel pots to save a little space.

So that’s it! I’m really pleased with how much space I’ve saved with those Muji bottles. Happy travels, touch wood! And if you’re going away yourself this summer, I hope you have a great time :)

Ten things I won’t let out of my sight this summer

It’s really hard not to live up to my sterotype and start this post with a comment about the hot weather. No. I will not do it. TMI warning: I had my first cervical screening the other day, and what did we talk about? THE WEATHER. For those of you yet to experience/dreading to experience that particular facet of womanhood, let me reassure you it isn’t that bad. Don’t skip it out of embarrassment.

WELL, that was quite the way to kick off a post, wasn’t it? If you’re still reading, here are the things I’ve been using/buying/banging on about since the sun started coming out.

1. DHC Blotting Paper

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I reviewed this a while ago and predicted that this super cute little box would be ever by my side this summer. And I was right! Central London is hotter than anywhere else in the UK that I’ve ever been, and these babies have come in so handy, while on the tube, bus and after walking anywhere, so basically, all the time. My friends have been hella grateful for them too, and I still can’t get over how they don’t affect my make up AT ALL. Get it for £4.

2. M&S white ankle socks

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Here’s a life lesson you probably already knew that I recently learned: NEVER WEAR CONVERSE WITHOUT SOCKS.  I used to find it hard to wear ankle socks with my shoes because I have very wide feet at the toes and they seem to pull the socks down inside the shoe. Of course, it turns out that all I had to do was buy better quality ankle socks. Years of picking up a multipack from Primark, I’d kind of forgotten that other places sell them too (in fairness, I used to trampoline, and there’s no point buying good ankle socks for that because they’ll get destroyed two weeks after you buy them). Anyway, these M&S ones are great, they have a ring that goes around the arch to hold them in place, so they don’t slip down! Here they are, 3 for £5.

3. Travalo Travel Perfume Bottle 

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I don’t like to go anywhere without my favourite perfume, Philosykos by Diptyque, but the gorgeous glass bottle is heavy, and I’m always worried about breaking or losing it (£80 ya’ll). I was also reluctant to buy an ordinary spray bottle because I’d have expose my precious perfume to the air whilst decanting it, which might damage the fragrance. This travel bottle has a nifty rubber hole at the bottom, and all you have to do is remove the atomiser from the perfume, attach the travel bottle, pump a few times, and voila. Portable Philosykos. Amazon is where I got mine, for about £9.

4. Ambre Solaire Clear Protect SPF30

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Sun protection is hell of a thing. Endless choice, very little unbiased advice. Should I go with an all-natural version that doesn’t have EU certification and has questionable SPF, or should I get one with five different logos and a host of chemicals in it? Cream or spray? Pricey or budget? Well, this one just spoke to me - a dry oil that doesn’t need to be rubbed in, I really like the way it feels on my skin, because it isn’t sticky. Also, because of the fact that it isn’t a cream there aren’t any parabens in it. Bonus. It’s also half price at Boots right now!

5. A massive pretty dress several sizes too big for me

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If you haven’t thought of this yet, then seriously, do. The pretty pattern means that it retains a bit of style, but the extra fabric means my poor overheated skin can get some air without having to get sun at the same time. This one was from River Island and I got it in the sale. I got the largest size I could find and it feels so comfortable and summery. Glorious.

6. Bobble Bottle

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Buying one of these was the best desision I’ve made in a long time. The water tastes SO much better, and it’s a very pleasant bottle to drink from, which means you’re more likely to stay hydrated. If you’re in London or any other big city, one of these is an absolute must – especially since bottles of water are more expensive! They come in a huge variety of colours, and most of them are clear plastic rather than coloured. Mine is a Bobble Sport which means the body is made out of more robust plastic than the clear ones, because I don’t trust myself with anything. Oh and lots of different sizes too! Check them out.

7. Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser

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I reviewed this the other day, and all I can say is I regret not doing it much sooner. This is the perfect cleanser for summer. My skin gets oily in hot weather, and this is perfect for removing excess oil while leaving my skin soft and fresh. Plus, I still can’t get over the foaming action.

8. Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hair Care

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If you’ve read my blog at all – well, then you know. I’m obsessed with Palmer’s. The coconut oil products are just SO great for my hair as the sun tries it’s hardest to fry it, plus they smell nice and summery too. Treat your locks.

9. Cute colourful ear studs

IMG_3590 I got my ears pierced relatively recently, in comparison to most women, when I was 22. I don’t know if it’s because I never grew up with them or if it’s just a facet of my scatty personality, but I suck at earrings. I forget about them for weeks at a time and I’m always annoyed at myself as I have lots of nice ones, but I’m always worried about looking too ‘overdone’ when I wear them. This casual set of studs is perfect for me, because I can just put in whichever set I see first and go, whatever I’m wearing (ok I make a bit more effort than that, but still). They’re simple, easy and the perfect accessories for when I’m desperate to get out of my boiling hot bedroom in the morning. I got these pretties from ASOS.

10. Smooze Mango Coconut

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Coconut milk and mango ice lollies, I mean come on, do I need to say any more? Get them from your local health food shop. There is a possibility that they’re made for children, but I literally do not care. They are delicious. Here’s there website for help finding them (if you live near a Whole Foods or As Nature Intended, I know they sell them, but I’m not sure about anywhere outside of London!)

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!