Thursday, 1 January 2015

Winter Skin Essentials

Moisture, moisture, moisture. Come wintertime, my skin is crying out to be smothered in oils, balms and butters. From bitter winds to blasting central heating and switching between the two, winter can be tough on skin. Not to mention all those Christmas parties with mulled wine and salty snacks…

So, here are my top natural solutions to our parched complexions.

Coconut Oil
This is an all-year-rounder in my vanity essentials and it packs a punch. It is a heavy oil, so I like to smother this on at night time before bed and give myself a facial massage while I’m at it. It’s high in beautiful saturated fats and smells amazing. My skin drinks it up! I recommend organic, virgin (cold-pressed) coconut oil for the best quality.

Shea Butter
An excellent butter for chapped lips, dry cuticles, even sore or red nostrils if you have been suffering from a cold or flu. I always keep a small tub of this stuff on hand for moisture emergencies. I also use it as an ingredient if I am DIY-ing lip balms, body butters or massage bars. The whipped stuff is easier to use but plain old shea butter will do the job just as well!

Carrot Seed Oil
This stuff is just ridiculous. The smell may take some getting used to, I hated it at first but now I associate it with amazingly soft skin. I put a few drops into a bottle of argan oil and use as a skin serum. It would also pair well with any other light face oil such as rosehip. Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Clean Cauldron
If you haven’t yet tried out Viv’s skincare goodies, please give them a go! Her body moisturisers and lipbalms are heavenly. They smell delectable and have a wonderful whipped texture. I can’t wait to stock up on more!

Steam Cream
Sometimes I prefer the texture of a cream product instead of an oil. Steam cream is one of my favourite moisturisers. It is scented with lavender and somehow reminds me of the smell of Sudocreme! I love that you can get loads of limited edition tins and then re-use them for whatever you want. I’m a sucker for tins. (contains parabens)

Pai Skincare
Pai do an amazing range of skincare products, if your budget stretches that far.. You can try samples on their website for €6 and they often have sales, so keep your eyes peeled! Their moisturisers are particularly top-notch. Personally I love their Macadamia moisturiser at this time of year, even though it is marketed for aging skin.

How many of you will be gifting skincare items for Christmas? Let me know what natural goodies you’re selecting for your friends and family this season!

Monday, 29 December 2014

Get glowing skin, naturally!

I love to incorporate food ingredients from my kitchen into my skincare routine. I have found that a minimal, but diligent routine suits my skin the best. Here are the most effective food products that work wonders for my skin.

*May not be suitable for gluten-intolerant people! Give this a try with certified gluten-free oats.

Why: This is my go-to face cleanser when my skin is irritated, breaking out, dehydrated – you name it. It always improves the texture and softness of my skin, and cleans really effectively. Pair with a cleansing balm or oil first if you need to remove makeup.

How: Take a small handful of oats, let cool/lukewarm water wash over them until they get mushy. Gently massage the oats into your face and neck. This can be a messy process, so you may want to plug the sink so that all your oats don’t disappear down the drain! Bonus: rinse your face with the oaty water, which is filled with goodness.

Lemon Juice/Apple Cider Vinegar

Why: I swear by this simple, yet effective chemical exfoliant. The acid gently removes old or dry skin, resulting in a baby soft face. I only use this once a week to keep my skin perky.

How: Squeeze a tablespoon of lemon juice or acv into the palm of your hand, and then massage it into your skin for up to 5 minutes. This can sting in places, especially if you have any active acne or breakouts. My skin also goes pinky/red, which is completely normal! If you have sensitive skin, dilute half-half with water. Avoid contact with eyes!

Egg White, Turmeric


Sea Salt
Why: This is my best spot-busting treatment. I use this any time I get a huge spot, or in an emergency if I need to clear a breakout fast! Works every time.

How: Dilute half teaspoon of sea salt in half a mug of boiling water, add some cold water or wait to cool. Using a cotton bud, saturate with the saline solution and hold to the spot.
Allow the heat of the water and the salt to draw out the dirt from the pore. Be patient and don’t try to squeeze it!
Depending on the size of the breakout, this may take several cotton buds (you could also use a cotton round).
When you have drawn out all that nasty stuff, rinse with cool/cold water to close the pore. You can also apply tea tree oil afterwards to keep the area clean (I dilute it in almond oil first).

Green Tea
Why: It’s iced tea for your face! Totally refreshing and packed with nutrients, your skin will love this treat. Green tea is wonderful if you have been indulging in too many high sugar or salt foods, or haven’t been sleeping well. The caffeine and antioxidants lift and brighten the skin, and the cool soothes and de-puffs. Perfect morning skin-fix!

How: Boil a strong cup of green tea, either with loose leaf or several tea bags. Allow to cool, then pour into ice cube mould. Store in freezer to use when necessary. Apply to face wrapped in muslin/cotton cloth to puffy areas, especially around the eyes.

Alternatively, allow the tea to cool and store in a spray mister bottle in the fridge to use as a toner or skin refresher.

How do you pamper your skin naturally? Leave your top tips in the comments!  

Friday, 26 December 2014

Beat a cold, the natural way

In the midst of the inevitable cold and flu season, it is easy to get carried away with piling up our bodies with drugs, antibiotics, cough syrup and painkillers in an attempt to feel better. If you want to beat a cold naturally, follow my tips and you’ll be back to your full health in no time!

In the meantime: put your feet up, get an extra blanket, drink 2-3 litres of water a day, hug a hot water bottle and sip a tea. Rest is the most important element when you’re under the weather, so get plenty!

Why: This is a wonder! I take it 4 times a day in the depths of a cold, it is the only thing I trust to get me back on my feet again.

How: Add 15-20 drops to some water/juice and knock it back like a shot. This stuff is a power house, I cannot be without it.

Lemon, ginger, honey
Why: A winning tea combination. It’s like medicine with “a spoonful of sugar,” a la Mary Poppins. The honey soothes achey throats, while the ginger and lemon boost your immune system and kick up the heat in your body.
How: Squeeze half a lemon into boiling water, add 1cm chopped fresh ginger to a tea strainer. Complete with a heaped spoon of local honey, organic if you can get your hands on it.

Why: Soup is so comforting for the soul. It is easy to digest, easy to make, packed with nutrients and bound to make you feel better. Pumpkin soup is a personal favourite, but throw in any veggies you have lying around.
Tip: add garlic and turmeric, these will help your body fight the cold and eliminate toxins and nasty bacteria. It’s also good to avoid dairy if you are fighting a cold, as this can increase mucus secretions.

Salt and water gargle
Why: Saline solution gargle rinses out your throat, taking down any inflammation or redness and cleaning the area. I do this especially in the morning time when I wake up with a sore throat and it works a treat at reducing pain.

How: 1 teaspoon sea salt dissolved in boiled water (wait until it is cool enough to drink). Gargle at the back of the throat for 30 seconds, then spit out. Repeat as necessary. Careful not to swallow: it tastes nasty and can make you feel ill.

Facial steam
Why: This can help relieve the symptoms of congestion and blocked sinuses. I added lavender essential oil to mine, but eucalyptus would be better if you have it. The steam works really well to loosen up any pressure, which relieves headaches and pain around the nose. Bonus: it’s great for your skin, too! Rinse your face with cool water after and pat dry with a clean towel.

How: Fill a basin or sink with boiling water, add a few drops of your essential oil and breathe in the steam through your nose for 5 minutes. Keep your head covered with a towel to catch all of the steam. Keep some tissues on hand, as your nose will start to run!

Monday, 22 December 2014

EcoFriendly Wrapping Ideas

 Let’s start with the main event: the container for the goods! These are easily located lying around your house, in charity shops or even in dumpsters and bins sometimes! Depending on the size of your gift, you can choose from:
Jars, bottles, pots. Pans, casserole dishes
Old Boxes, big and small
Bowls or mugs
Plant pots
Paint tins, biscuit tins.. any type of tin!
Old VCR/ videotape boxes
Baskets (DIY perhaps?)
 … and many more!!

Interesting wrapping paper:
You can use brown paper, greaseproof paper, old maps, newspapers or magazines, paint or stamp your own design… Or if you don’t want to go down the paper route, you canalways try a fabric bundle!

Fabric bundles
Youtube has some great wrapping tutorials using a single piece of fabric, but you can also get creative and design your own wrapping method! Perhaps it will become your signature wrapping style!

As for labels:
If your house is anything like mine, you will have loads of paper and cardboard flying around. You can paint, draw, papier maché, use markers, stick magazine clippings, stamp, stencil… the list is endless. You can also stitch labels on fabric, write them on old CDs, carve them in wood, knit them, write them on old playing cards, etc!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Eco Thrifty Gift Guide


What a season of pressure! I can’t count how many times I heard people saying they “had to buy” this or that for their loved ones this Christmas. Why not give friends and family a gift to remember this year by making it yourself? I know not everyone has time to spend hours DIYing handcrafted masterpieces for everyone on their Christmas list, so here is a list of simple ideas.

Anything home-baked
I would be so happy to receive a tin of home-made cookies for Christmas! This is the time of year for home comforts, and everyone is indulging their foodie side a bit more. Gingerbread is an especially festive choice, and you can make a huge batch then personalise to suit the person being gifted! Have a leaf through foodgawker for inspiration if you are feeling stuck. You can also gift anything else home-made such as vinegar, wine, jam or herb-infused oils!

You can't go wrong with gingerb

Old photos in a frame
You can hand-make, source around your house, or pick up at a charity store interesting and cute photo frames, or even entire photobooks or scrapbooks. Sentimental and thoughtful gifts are always cherished and appreciated! If you have no old photos feel free to take a scroll through either instagram of facebook to find some!

My friend Senita and I
My friend Eimear and I. She got me this frame for my 18th, signed by friends!

I will be designing several notebooks to give away this year. You can give anything from a dream diary, gratitude journal, friendship book for 2 people to share, notebook for lists.. There are so many options! Plus you can customise to your hearts content using coloured paper, fabric, paint… And throw in a cute pen to complete the gift!

Another cheap and cheerful gift to give is a carefully curated playlist – the modern equivalent of a mix-tape. Whether this be movies, songs, TV shows or Youtube channel and blog recommendations, this is a gift you can make to suit anybody. You can create a theme for the playlist and give it either on a USB stick or a CD, and if you’re crafty you can design the CD cover! This year I am giving a ‘Sunshine Playlist’ to somebody close to me, filled with songs about the sun and sunshine to bring joy and happiness!