Archive for the ‘Personal grooming’ Category
The humble Brazil nut. Enjoyed either plain or covered in chocolate. Except it’s a rather extraordinary nut, not just because it comes from the depths of the Amazonian rainforest, but because it takes an epic journey, which The Body Shop is keen to raise awareness of with its relationship with Community Fair Trade and the new Brazil nut collection.
Last week I met Gaston Vizcarra, the founder of Candela and Community Fair Trade Supplier of Brazil nut oil at the unveiling of this new range. He struck me as the Santana of Brazil nuts (a compliment – honest). There is something immediately heart-warming about Gaston in the first few minutes of meeting him. Maybe it was the pocketful of Peru he had brought with him (his home) and as the evening unwound, so did his adventurous stories. Accidentally stumbling into a tiger’s den whilst looking for Brazil nuts definitely makes my life pale into insignificance. (FYI – Tigger was not home.)
Gaston has been supplying Brazil nut oil since 1989 through the Community Fair Trade programme to businesses like the Body Shop who use it to make those much-loved toiletries and cosmetics we love to use.
This ‘trade not aid’ relationship has helped immensely to sustain, harvest and protect over 3,000 hectares of the Peruvian rainforest by providing a livelihood for the nut collectors and nut crackers part of the Candela co-operative. Did I say Peruvian? I did. That’s because Brazil nuts are grown in Peru, as well as Bolivia, Venezuela and Brazil (of course).
Gaston works with more than 270 nut gatherers who hand harvest Brazil nuts from the Madre de Dios region, providing a safe alternative to logging and illegal gold-mining which results in deforestation and pollution. And because the Brazil nut is so invaluable as a source of income to both parties, the environment is also protected to ensure this cycle continues for future generations.
This 5 minute video by The Body Shop sums up the story of the Brazil nut perfectly:
Last year, The Body Shop International bought over 20,000kg of Brazil nut oil from Candela. This oil came from approximately 280,500m2 of forest, from nearly 3,000 trees. It’s pretty remarkable to know Gaston’s hopes and dreams came from a small bottle of Brazil nut oil that he brought to the UK all those years ago.
Understanding how this chain of events leads to the pretty lotions and potions we pick off the shelves was an eye opener. I think we are familiar with how passionate the Body Shop is about creating products derived from natural resources but the realisation of the long and arduous process involved gives much food for thought and indeed value and appreciation. Now I can’t look at a Body Shop Body Butter without pausing to think about how it got there in the first place.
You may recall the Body Shop brought out a Brazil nut Body Butter a while ago. Well it has returned by popular demand and this time, it’s brought some new friends to join the party:
Body Butter (£13)
Beautifying Oil (£9)
Body Mist (£7.50)
Shower Cream (£4.50)
Eau de Toilette (£8.50)
Cream Scrub (£12.50)
The first thing that is striking is the subtle sweet scent – it’s like chocolate or toffee with vanilla but aromatically sensual without being sickly sweet. I admit I wasn’t a fan of the Body Shop’s chocolate range (it was a little on the nauseous side) but the Brazil nut has won me over, especially the Body Mist and Eau de Toilette.
Another favourite is the awesome scrub with the shells crushed into smithereens for exfoliating. I am not impressed with scrubs that are too soft to work. Give me something that will do its job, and this offering certainly does.
The creamy Body Butter speaks for itself, considering it’s always such a popular and sought-after product of the Body Shop. In total the entire collection will set you back £55, which is (pea)nuts, so you could indulge in it entirely without feeling guilty (that’s how I justify multiple goods purchases) and hey, it is a worthy cause.
I can remember when Anita Roddick founded the Body Shop, and how strong her ethics were so I am pleased to see her legacy lives on with The Body Shop striving for the same beliefs:
AGAINST animal testing
SUPPORT community fair trade
ACTIVATE self esteem
DEFEND human rights
PROTECT the planet
The new collection drops on 23rd April. You can also visit the Body Shop’s website on Community Fair Trade here.
I’m writing this with my tail between my legs. Why? Because nearly two months ago I wrote about the new IPL Hair Reduction System from Gillette Venus and I was supposed to document my findings in a video.
In spectacular fashion, plans fell by the wayside with juggling other product trials and reviews on top of a full time job. However, I am still committed to sharing my experience with using this IPl device and will be filming a video for it very soon.
By being truthful with the frequency of my use of Gillette Venus’s IPL system, I hope the results will be reflective and accurate. I believe the outcome will depend on the individual and how often the device is used, and to be fair, it is difficult to stick to a timed routine with the day-to-day things we all have to deal with – plus with it being winter, leg hair removal is usually the least of any woman’s worries!
I have used Gillette Venus’s IPL device twice since the beginning of November and it’s enough for me to get an understanding of how it works and its results.
Over the years and possibly due to a combination of hormones slowing down and other hair removal methods used (including IPL sporadically), my hair growth has slowed down substantially. So much that I can get away with shaving once a week and the regrowth is very fine. I realise not everyone is this fortunate, but in the past I had to deal with hair growing back after 3 days from underarm waxing done at a salon and leg hair sprouting up every day after shaving.
To use the Gillette Venus Naked Skin IPL system, you’ve got to first shave the areas you plan to treat. This is to allow direct contact with the IPL and the hair follicles for effective results. I should point out this device is not suitable for everyone depending on your skin tone. Generally speaking it will work best on dark hairs on lighter skin and there is a chart included to colour match against.
Then you must check the level to set the machine at with the light sensor reader by pressing it against your skin. This will differ depending on which part of your body you wish to use the IPL device on and more importantly your skin tone will define the strength. It’s so simple and straight-forward – an IPL I had tried once was extremely complicated with various settings according to your skin tone, which was really off-putting. This device is very light, is powered at the mains and comes with a long cable, which is brilliant.
While the machine fires up, apply a thick layer of Activating Gel the kit comes with over the area you wish to zap. The gel increases the effect of the IPL working plus it cools your skin down at the same time. If you go to a clinic for laser hair removal, they will blast the treated area with ice cold air (or use an ice pack) during the process so this is very similar.
When you’re ready, look away or close your eyes whilst holding the handset at a 90 degree angle. Then press the button and there will be a big flash of light and a warm sensation. I know it’s a big, blinding flash as once or twice I forgot to look away. Don’t do this!
It is important to hold the handset correctly (with the window of the laser pressed on your skin) or it won’t work. The IPL will re-set itself in seconds and indicate when it’s ready so you can move on.
It doesn’t hurt I’m surprised to say, it just feels like a little shock or sometimes ticklish. The machine isn’t noisy either and you could do this while you’re watching Eastenders.
It took 45 minutes to do one lower leg and coverage with one tube of the gel would cover both legs fully for one session. However, it’s really tricky to do the back of your leg whilst trying to hold the handset at the correct angle.
I also tried it on my underarms, which didn’t hurt at all. The IPL was more noticeable on the legs especially on the bone near the ankle.
It is a really easy and painless IPL system; I am pleasantly surprised. I have used other IPL devices which were bulky, complicated and painful – and I have a high pain threshold.
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been consistent in using this device. However in just a couple of sessions I have noticed regrowth is finer and sparse. On some parts of my legs, I have just patches coming back. If I stick to this regularly then I am confident it will reduce hair growth substantially, maybe even completely.
I’m off to power up this baby for a long overdue session and I will bring you a video next time and very soon, I promise.
The Gillette Venus Naked Skin is available from Boots and www.boots.com currently priced at £449.99.
It’s been a while since the last hair grooming post and here’s one that’s quite a throwback (for me any way) – hair removal cream.
I haven’t used a depilatory cream since I was about 13 - I remember finding a tube in the bathroom cabinet belonging to mum (my first foray into hair removal). If one memory has stuck with me, it’s the smell of hair removal cream – let’s be fair, it’s quite rank.
I’ve never used Nair products, so when I was sent a big tube of their Brazilian Spa Clay Shower Power Cream to try, my curiosity was piqued. The product name sounds exotic and claims to remove “all visible hairs”. Well for this experiment, my leg hair was at a difficult stage. Over the years, the speed of which my leg hair grows has gone from super-fast to sporadically slow. I can get away with shaving once or twice a week and the re-growth is so minimal. It makes a change from when I would have to shave every day. Hormones, eh?
This 200ml tube of cream’s formula is different to the usual hair removal cream as it can be used whilst showering. Firstly you slather it all over your dry legs with the plastic spatula provided about 2 minutes before getting into the bath tub, then you leave it on for a further 3 minutes while you’re in the shower but avoid getting water on the legs (well, duh, that’s kind of impossible when you’re in the shower!). However, the cream is very thick and so doesn’t wash away that easily.
When you’re cooked, you scrape it off with the spatula except I realised I wasn’t very good at this (well, it’s been frigging years, OK?) when removing my, er, lady briefs as they got covered in some of the cream. Nice. So slap on the cream when you’re naked if you plan to do your legs. There, I’ve said it.
Initially the scent seemed quite pleasant. Then I was hit with that OLD depilatory pungent smell. And it happens when the cream starts to burn the hairs. That is what the smell is – the hairs burning! You can feel it working and as I noticed it, I imagine those with sensitive skin won’t like it one bit.
Using the spatula is like using a razor blade over shaving foam/gel but without the actual razor. The action is the same and without it, you won’t achieve smooth hair removal. So it begs the question – why bother? Shaving is far quicker, neater and doesn’t leave a lingering pong in the bathroom. The tub was also looking like a murky mess with lumps floating as the thick cream takes longer to disintegrate.
This hair removal cream has been clinically and dermatologically tested, and slapped with a patented ‘odour control technology” (but I can still smell something!) and is apparently gentle enough to use on the bikini and under arms. Bikini, OK – don’t venture any further, it won’t be pleasant (I am guessing).
Finishing wasn’t bad actually on really short hairs. Most had been removed and my legs felt soft and moisturised though I think hairs need to be at least 1cm long for effective results.
If you’ve read previous posts on hair removal, you’ll know I’ve been through them all – shave, epilators, laser, warm wax, cold wax, wax strips, threading…the whole kit and kaboodle. Depilatory creams are way down at the bottom – messy, too much waiting around, barely neat results and there is that ghastly odour. I realise they work wonderfully for others, it’s just not for me.
A 200ml tube costs £6.69. Nair’s Brazilian Spa Clay Collection also includes wax strips, which would be my personal preference. For more information www.naircare.co.uk.
Yesterday Helen and I were taken on a personal tour of John Lewis’s multi-million pound new beauty hall at their flagship store on Oxford Street and what an experience it turned out to be.
Costing over £7 million to revamp and a whopping 18,000 square feet of retail space, if heaven is all bright white lights and pretty things then this must be it. I defy you not to be marvelled by what welcomes you the moment you enter the double glass doors of the store’s entrance.
Designer gpstudio has carefully planned the concept of this breath-taking haven with precision and style and created an ambiance that soothes and relaxes customers. It’s a complete turn-around from other beauty halls, which are usually very daunting and sometimes claustrophobic. John Lewis’s epic beauty hall was completed in seven phases, with the final unveiling only yesterday.
Based on the idea of a Town Square, the premium cosmetic brands are positioned like ‘houses’ around a central area focused on fragrance and niche assortments such as haircare, skincare and nails. It is a pleasure to stroll through and take in the sights, sounds and scents. I think this was the first time I could stop and look around in without other shoppers pushing past or shoving me out of the way.
Major international names are neighbours with niche brands and some highly prestigious names. It’s wall-to-wall beauty with something for everyone.
You can make a bee-line straight for Creed, Tom Ford or Diptyque or drool over favourites Chanel, Nars, YSL and Dior. Both Lancome and Guerlain have treatment rooms but there is also room for firm favourites L’Oreal, Carmex, Neal’s Yard, Ojon, Origins, Elemis, Liz Earle, Clarins and Clinique (to name but a few).
John Lewis has also secured concessions with Burberry (the first one outside of Harvey Nichols), Top Shop (the only place other than Top Shop itself to stock their make-up range) and the jewel in the crown (in my humble opinion), a Jo Malone concession that blasts other JM concessions out of the water.
You also can’t miss the incredible OPI glass cabinet housing hundreds of OPIs (can we have one commissioned for Helen, please?) surrounded by Nails Inc, Jessica and Leighton Denny delights.
Even gadgets have been incorporated (such as electric toothbrushes, haircare electrical goods, hair removal and magnifying mirrors) so all your beauty needs are covered.
It’s the ultimate beauty experience and the ultimate beauty hall. Mind you, I couldn’t leave without actually experiencing it properly, now could I? So I picked up YSL lip stain and then had the pleasure of spending an hour or so in the company of Stephanie at Jo Malone. The purse is a bit lighter (as is my head) but John Lewis’s new beauty hall is amazing. There. I’ve made my point. Now go and see it for yourself.