Handmade Naturals Sensitive Face Cream – what a find!

Someone recently said to me ‘I would never put anything on my skin that I wouldn’t eat’, and I’ve thought about it a lot since then. If our skin is our biggest organ then we should be far more mindful of the chemicals we allow it to absorb through cosmetic use. When you read the ingredients list of your make up and facial creams, how much do you actually recognise? People now understand the benefits of eating healthy, fresh food but this is only part of the battle.

Due to my feelings about animal testing and the use of animal derivatives in products, I have almost stopped visiting shops like Boots. So this led me to search more widely on the internet and also ask questions on relevant Facebook boards. When I asked about plant-based, beauty for sensitive skin types I was recommended Handmade Naturals. I will be forever grateful to the person who did. It is a truly natural skin care range, using many of the oils I have been reading about as alternative antioxidant treatments. They are a small UK business and all their items are made here too. They are also 100% vegan and cruelty free.

I always try new products with some trepidation as I get reactions so easily. I was able to try their Unscented Sensitive Face Cream in a small travel sized bottle so I could check whether it was a great as I hoped before buying a full bottle.

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The ingredients are: purified water, virgin organic shea butter (butyrospermun parkii), unrefined rosehip seed oil (rosa moschata), golden jojoba oil (simmondsia chinensis), peach kernel oil (prunus persica), emulsifying wax, aspen bark extract, vegetable glycerin, vitamin E oil (tocopherol).  I would happily eat it all!

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I used my small bottle within a couple of weeks and my skin absolutely loved it. No flare ups, no dramas. Jojoba oil, shea butter and rosehip oil are all well documented as being of great benefit to the skin and are also not irritating (though it is very important that every person tests their own skin’s reaction to new things). It is absorbed quickly, leaves the skin felling silky smooth and calm.  The creams come in pump-action bottles which are fantastic as they protect the cream from contamination (avoid buying anything to put on your face that comes out of a tub!) and stop you from using too much. One pump covers my whole face.

I have just bought their Unscented Plum & Avocado Face Cleanser and Unscented Hand & Body Lotion with Almond, Plum Kernel and & Virgin Cocoa Butter as I am hoping the rest of the range will be equally talented. If it passes the face and hands test then I an a genuinely very happy (and not itchy) person!

 

 

 

Rosehip Seed Oil – a one stop antioxidant choice for itchy people

I began to get interested in facial oils when I realised how many seed and fruit oils were used in my (then) favorite brand, Paula’s Choice – who I hold responsible for the turning me into a personal skin detective. Her ‘Skin Recovery’ range was a revelation, none of it irritated my skin and I particularly loved her moisturizing serums which made my skin keel silky and smooth. After examining the ingredients, along with other items in her range I realised how much of it stemmed from plant and seed oils; grape, olive, raspberry, cranberry, evening primrose, the list goes on.

My skin reacts horribly to any fragranced essential oils and although many companies produce natural cosmetic products using these oils as their base they so often add this killer ingredient which makes it immediately unusable for me. So I decided that I would learn as much as I could about these simple oils and make my own.

I contacted bloggers, and people who sold the oils online to get the best feel for what could work for my skin. They all invariably started with Rosehip Seed Oil.

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The first thing it is important to know is that oils are not bad for your skin. It is a common held belief that applying oil, especially to acne prone skin will cause breakouts, clog pores and generally cause greasy havoc. The reality is that oils protect the skin’s lipid barrier and are great at preventing moisture from evaporating from the skin. Most natural oils are easily absorbed, not greasy, and noncomedogenic; that is, they have a low potential to clog pores, which makes oils perfect for all skin types, even mine.

Rosehip Seed oil is extra special because is a ‘dry oil’ meaning that it soaks into the skin easily and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It is high in fatty acids and rich in vitamins and antioxidants, especially Vitamin C, Vitamin A (retinol), and linoleic and linolenic acids which are all great for your skin’s health. It is particularly good in the fight against dry, weathered, and dehydrated skin which at this time of the year is my main problem.

I was nervous the first time I tried it neat from the bottle  and was fully prepared for the nightmare of face-rash breakout. To my surprise, my skin drank it in like water. Since then I have worn it under my night-time moisturizer and also used it as a super gentle make-up remover which it does brilliantly.

I bought my little bottle from Rejuvenoils, a small family business who sell through eBay. There were really informative while I tried to decide which oils to buy and the product is of a very high quality.

 

Urtekram – Danish Organic Hugs for your Hair and Skin

My local health food shop (Well Natural in Salisbury) is small but manages to cram a lot into its shelves, stocking everything from vitamin supplements to vegan chocolate and even a little coffee shop. The staff aren’t particularly knowledgeable, especially when it comes to being vegan (I’ll probably have a little rant about this in another post). But it has been a life saver over the past few newly vegan months.

I’ve been able to research brands they supply to see which would be suitable for a vegan with über sensitive skin like mine and was excited to see a new brand: Urtektram on the shelves in the shampoo section. The excitement came, not only because it was cruelty free and vegan but because it have ‘NO PERFUME’ in bright yellow on the front of the bottle – score!

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In the days prior to my enlightenment regarding my allergy triggers (fragrance/SLS/lanolin etc) I had to wash my hair wearing rubber gloves. This has been a source of great hilarity for my friends and family.  I still do in fact, many years of bad reactions has left me nervous of risking days of steroid ointment and white cotton gloves as my poor hands recovered. I’m very fond of my yellow marigolds! However, in order to test how gentle a seemingly ideal product is, I give it the no gloves test over a week. It has been a revelation. The only other shampoo that I have found as good as this has been Jason Naturals Fragrance Free. However, I think this beats it hands down. I have super-fine flyaway hair and it leaves it clean and residue free. It also foams which makes it easier to ensure you have cleaned it thoroughly. I used to wash my hair every other day but this easily adds one more wash-free day which in the long is better for you hair. You can see from the water on this bottle that I have just used it!

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In the last few months I have been researching the positive effects of certain natural plant and nut oils on sensitive skin and it is really interesting to see that the main ingredients of this shampoo are Sodium Coco Sulphate ( a mild, non irritating surfactant made from coconut oil) and aloe vera. There are lots of interesting articles around Sulphates on the internet, most around the negative effect of Sodium Lauryl/Laureth Sulphate which are irritants and often both toxic and carcinogenic. But it is not ‘Sulphates’ that are the problem as there are many that are useful and not harmful to you or the environment, the issue is the word that comes before it. If you see a sulphate that you don’t recognise – check it before you buy.

Urketram is a brand that has been around in Denmark since 1972, selling herbs at a time when awareness about the environment was “an idealistic matter of the heart to a few people”, they pioneered the use of organic and fair trade produce. In the 1990s they led the way in bringing organic products into the mainstream and their stockists are ever-increasing. Their name is a clever play on the traditional Danish word for a herb seller, “urtekræmmer” and the work for a hug: “kram”.  They have a new fan in me. My local shop only stocks their shampoo and conditioner so I will need to look online for other products in this range and see if they are great as this.