Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Walking for your health: Suffolk in the sun

I spent a couple of days back in the county I grew up in last week and went for a much needed and desired country walk. I enjoyed the walk so much that I thought I would write a quick post about the different benefits that can be found through walking.
I have recently made my home in the city but was raised in a little village in the countryside so I do crave green, wide-open spaces to walk in or just 'be' sometimes. The gym is all well and good for working out more intensely but nothing can live up to breathing in fresh air, cocooning yourself in nature and exploring your surroundings. I think we should all try to incorporate a bit of a walk into our daily routines. Whether it be getting off the tube/bus/train one stop early, going to get your lunch at the shop further down the road or even going for a 20 minute stroll on your lunch break. It does (most) people a whole lot of good getting the body moving and it's also great for your psyche. I have found that, although I may feel more tired after a walk, I do feel more cheery and spritely. It can be a great way to switch off as well. By changing your environment you can also help to change your mindset and by paying attention and becoming more mindful of your new surroundings your brain will be able to let go more easily of what has been absorbing it beforehand.
Views from the Stour Valley: the raging river, Constable skies, village churches and country lanes.

From the sublime (clock-wise first three photos) to the ridiculous (getting stuck in the mud in the last photo.)

Wildlife out in force. From waterfowl to farm animals to hares...

For me, going on a proper 1-2 hour walk feels like a real indulgence especially when I'm in London as it can take some planning for me to think where would be a lovely place for a walk. However I have found so much pleasure and excitement from exploring the more built up areas of London just as much as taking a walk in one of the parks this city has to offer. I would imagine that those of you who also live in cities and bigger towns may feel the same way. The hustle and bustle of people, the mixture of the new and the old, the interesting and often surprising buildings that are waiting just around the corner, the hodgepodge of working and living spaces.
There can be beauty in graffiti just as there is beauty in a spray of cherry blossom. There can be pleasure in the sound of rain on pavements just as there's pleasure in birdsong. There are the delicious smells of cooking food which are as fragrant as the tang from fresh-cut grass and banks of flowers.  There is life in the people you pass on the streets just as there is life in the fields and hedges of the countryside.
Wherever you walk, however you walk and whoever you walk with, open your eyes and minds to what is before you. Not only may it surprise you but it will encourage you to continue walking towards that which you find attractive/energising/interesting/puzzling.
Walking isn't only good for the mind and the body but it's good for the soul too!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Skincare: The Natural and Pure way to treat skin

Your skin is the largest organ in the human body and accounts for around 15% of your total body weight, so it's a pretty important thing to take care of. We're all very different from each other in how we think, feel, react and are 'built'. So it's not too much of a generalisation to say that our skin's needs differ from person to person too. However, common life experiences and shared knowledge can shape how we might want to fulfil those needs.

Huge amounts of time and money are being spent on researching the effects certain chemicals can have on us when absorbed into our systems, whether through the skin or by ingesting them.
People are becoming more aware, and also more concerned, about not only what we eat and drink but also what we slather on ourselves for medicinal or cosmetic reasons.

There may be many reasons why someone might wish to go down the more organic route. Some people may have been advised by medics to avoid certain chemicals used in cosmetics due to pre-existing conditions such as allergies, eczema, rosacea, chemotherapy treatment. Others may feel they would like to live a more 'natural' life and want to reflect that in their skincare regime. Some may wish for vegan-friendly and non-animal tested products. However with the enormous and overwhelming amount of lotions and potions on the beauty market it's a daunting (and expensive) experience trying to sort the effective from the defective in the natural and organic ranges.

For years I have been interested in, and valued, the more natural cosmetics and have tried and tested lots of different things in search of products that make a difference to my skin but aren't chock-full of an endless list of chemicals and hyper-processed ingredients. I have tried to compile a list of some of the products I personally have found to be of benefit and to write a quick overview for each.


Michael Todd's Honey and Oat Facial Wash - a deliciously effective cleanser that smells like lemon sherbets and washes away the day's grime in a trice.
Clarisonic Mia - this whizzy little tool is a dream to use and makes removing a full face of make-up a breeze. Also brilliant for men who get stubble rash or other beard-related difficulties. It's a wonderful multi-tasker efficiently cleansing, toning and slightly buffing your skin to leave it glowing, clear and ready to moisturise.
Pai's Camellia and Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser - my absolute favourite. I don't think I will ever change cleansers again. A lovely creamy consistency that I massage into my skin in the evenings before either washing off with warm water or using the Clarisonic brush. It removes eye make-up completely and doesn't sting them. Leaves skin feeling plumped up but purified.


Pai's Chamomile and Rosehip calming cream - a lovely moisturiser that also contains brilliant ingredients to protect and heal. Great for those with sensitive skin who still want some added moisture.
Korres' Lip Butter - my go-to lip product at the moment. I mentioned this lip balm in my blog post on how to survive colds here. I have a range of colours although they do also have a colourless option too. Apply for great moisturising and conditioning benefits without the sticky, claggy consistency.
Neal's Yard Remedies' SPF 15 Daily Moisture - a relatively thick cream that packs a punch with awesome ingredients. A great non-chemical SPF too.
A'kin's Revitalising Cellular Radiance Serum - a lovely treatment that boosts radiance, protects skin from damge past and present and locks in moisture without being greasy.
Burts Bees' Almond & Milk Hand Cream - great for this time of year if hands are dry and cracked from central heating and the bitter winter. 100% natural ingredients too.
Burts Bees' Tinted Lip Balms - a brilliant little product that is similar to the Korres one but leaves less of a sheen on the lips so would be the better option for men.
Burts Bees' Lemon & Vitamin E Body & Bath Oil - a very luxurious feeling product. I dribble it in a hot bath and it's like bathing in one of those scented steam rooms you get at spas. Deliciously zingy fragrance of lemons and it leaves your skin soft and smooth for hours afterwards.


Invisible Zinc's Face and Body Sunscreen SPF 30+ - an absolute essential come rain or shine. Protecting your skin from UVA and UVB rays should be part of everyone's daily routine no matter how low maintenance you are. This sunscreen  has broad spectrum protection containing zinc oxide.


Oskia's Get Up & Glow - a treat for your face. A beautiful serum that creates a healthy and radiant complexion while containing an amazing range of super-ingredients to help boost skin health.
Pai's Rosehip Bioregenarate Oil - similar to A'kin's serum this oil is also non-greasy and is brilliant if you suffer from redness or have sun damaged or dehydrated skin.
Good Things' Five Minute Facial Mask - a relatively inexpensive product and is a great quick fix to brighten, refine and moisturise your skin.

Other great natural/green/organic brands:

REN, Green People, LoveLula, Wild About Beauty, Lavera, Weleda, Aveda,

What are your favourite beauty products? Is natural skincare a priority for you? If so, why?

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DISCLAIMER: I am not being paid, endorsed or compensated for this article. These are all products that have graced or currently still grace my bathroom cabinets. All of the products were bought with my own money. My opinions are completely my own and I am not a representative of any of the companies or brands mentioned. Please also keep in mind that (as mentioned above) everyone's skin is different and so what may work for me may not have the same effect for you.