“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will ensure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” Rachel Carson
Spring is here! It’s been a month since my last blog entry because I was traveling a lot and I trying to reduce my internet activity to a therapeutic minimum. Every once in a while I find it quite relaxing. I’ve seen lovely little vintage stores in London, done a little punting in sunny Cambridge and seen the incredible Prague skyline you see when you walk up the castle at night. But going on a journey with hand luggage only for weeks can be a challenge and requires smart packing skills. My favorite helpers are the milky-translucent Muji E.V.A. Zip Pockets (about 2 EUR), which are actually file houlders, but I use them as minimalistic toiletry storage (and every airport seemed to accept it as translucent liquids bag) and the little dust bags COS hands out for free when you shop their accessory for storing socks and underwear. Out of the few things this was with me: The refreshing Oliveda Face Serum, Aesop ‘Shine’ hair serum and the translucent scrunchies by Invisibobble.
Some of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook already know I’ve been in a developing process of a face serum (and oil… psshh) for a while now and still testing out all kinds of ingredients from the ocean and modern botany. Anyways every now and then I still test out other brands, too. With a sleek and minimal packaging Oliveda’s Anti Aging Face Serum (about 50 EUR) caught my attention, which was in my ‘Douglas Box of Beauty’, the german equivalent of Birchbox. It is full of potent antioxidants and has a lovely, herby (spring!) smell. The most interesting ingredient is Olea europea (olive) leaf cell extract which contains numerous phenolics and antioxidants like e.g. Oleuropein. The serum has a green, gooey gel texture and so far it leaves my face moist and plump. If you like Heliotrope-like, exotic flower fragrance as much as I do and still need a hair serum for shiny hair Aesop ‘Shine’ will be your go-to product. After I washed and towel-dried my hair I add 2-3 drops and massage it in my lengths. It adds shine to my naturally curly hair and a little definition when I leave it to air-dry. In spring I like to wear my hair natural and slightly unruly which is why I am very happy I discovered Invisibobble scrunchies which are not only ‘invisible’ but add volume to my ponytail, too. I think spring and the new semester can come with these kind of time-saving essentials! I’d rather have a nice espresso than spend 5 more minutes in front of the mirror. Best, Ea
“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare
When it comes to Rodin’s Olio Lusso I am a little envious one woman makes million over million girls happy with such simplistic products. In 2007 Linda Rodin, ex-model of the 70s and 80s, fashion stylist and now founder of Rodin must have felt unsatisfied with common anti-aging skincare (and the delay of visible change, read here) so she created Olio Lusso Face Oil which soon found its hype all over magazines and the internet. Many products joined the line, like the marvellous Hand and Body Cream you see above and 2014 big Estee Lauder acquired Olio Lusso which prooves of its success. One thing I have to add is, if you don’t want to splurge your money on the costly Face Oil (170 USD) and Crema (84 USD), the simple ingredients list gives you a good start to follow the recipe and do your own version of it! The face oil has Sunflower Oil as a base, which you can find in good qualities in organic food stores and for the rest of the essential oils I love Eden Botanticals (click here) or french Huiles et Sens (click here). For the Hand and Body Creme you need a good Shea Whip as a base (good recipe here) which you infuse with natural oils, sounds hard to DIY but it’s as easy as frothing your Latte Macchiato milk at home. I have only love for the inspiring, simplistic product design and basic, natural ingredients list, Ea
“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions, and into actions which bring results.” Florence Nightingale
Just a few days ago I received a package from Down Under with probably the most exciting content: minimalistic, holistic bath products and a special tea. I am a big fan of skincare brands which offer a tea to go with, e.g. super cute facecare brand MIYU and organic henna guru Night Blooming. Be Genki however offers a Herbal Tea complimenting every conceptual line they have: Be Sensual, Be Serene, Be Tranquil and Be Vital. Let’s take a look at the tea and bath products I chose:
First off I chose Be Genki Be Sensual Tea instead of the Be Serene Tea (which would fit the rest of my products) since it caught my attention with the most wicked and secret, ancient ingredients for intensifying sensuality and lust. Plenty of the ingredients were used to cure, let’s call it, not-now’s. The Lemongrass, Ginseng and Ginger base is both delicious and vitalizing. Jasmine buds and Rose petals add a delicate flower bouquet to it. The rest of the ingredients combine to a super potion of aphrodisiacs: Horny Goat Weed, Damiana, Maca and Tribulus. I found a fun-to-read abstract on Maca to significally have increased the amount of orgasms in mice (here). Horny Goat Weed aka Epimedium contains some Icariin (in standardized extracts 5 to 60 percent), a flavonoid which shares several mechanisms of action with compounds like sildenafil (Viagra) and vardenafil (Levitra, read 1, 2, 3) and has shown to have antidepressant-like effects on mice (see 1, 2, 3). Damiana has long been claimed to have a sexually stimulating effect and its use as an aphrodisiac originated way back in ancient mexico. There is a study of increased sexual activity in rats, male and female (here). In the end it is up to you if you make this tea work like this. There are plenty studies on the aphrodisiac effects of the ingredients but since it has only verifiable effects on rodents I would not rely too much on it alone and combine it with a romantic bath to get things really going. This tea is perfect for you if you like flowery-herbaceous teas and love potions.
Next we have the amazing bath products, face mist and candle. The overall minimal product design wrapped in thick, wavy paper is enchanting and deserves a special mention as it feels really luxurious. My academic studies can cause a lot of tension and stress and the possibility to lose the plot or fail the next test puts me into an all-anxious and depressing mood sometimes. This is why I chose the Be Serene Line with its uplifting and relaxing fragrances of Palmarosa, Rosewood, Patchouli, Neroli and Rosa damascena. Most of the oils are organic, which make it even more likeable. For a big bath I only needed 4 drops of the Oil Blend and the warm steams made my bathwater smell like a fairy forest and flower meadow. It was absolutely impossible to have negative thoughts in an environment like this. Applying the quickly absorbed, golden body oil (see above) I literally went to bed with this kind of fantasy. I am not able to pick a favorite in this line as I am pretty convinced they work best as a team. The amazing organic candle burns when I take a bath, study and before I sleep. Oh, and I pumped the face splash onto my face in the minute I first saw it and since then it is my everlasting company to university if I need a stress relief but a refreshing kick after lectures. It accompanies me right next to my favorite sunglasses for this year’s golden autumnal sunrays. So all in all, if you are looking for a minimalistic, holistic bath and body routine you should definitely check out this and the rest of Samantha’s great brand Be Genki! Australia must be a birth place for organic beauty brands like this with Leif and Aesop. Relaxed and a little sensual today, Ea Birkkam
“I dress for the image. Not for myself, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men.” Marlene Dietrich
First of all let us talk about the immaculate minimalistic product design. This is definitely the kind of haircare I would love to put in my minimalistic bathroom. The mostly brown, simple bottles and the clean white label look very sleek and effortless. It was only a question of time I ordered my first Sachajuan product and when I finished my Aesop hair oil I went straight to this: The Leave-In Conditioner.
Sachajuan is the brand of Sacha Mitic and Juan Rosenlind who opened up their first hairsalon 1997 in Stockholm, Sweden. 2003 they must have felt like creating their own line and released their Sachajuan haircare products. What a great decision! I have already read some reviews about their products and most describe Sachajuan Leave-In Conditioner as very ‘lightweight’ and fragrant. I can definitely agree to the ‘lightweight’, you can apply the Leave-In Conditioner on your whole hair and scalp, which was the reason I bought it the first place. I needed something that could add a little moisture to my superdry scalp without getting my hair oily and I must admit: This is the perfect product for the job! You can describe the fragrance as a mixture of regular high-end salon product with a whiff of herbal ‘Aesop’-like scent, very pleasant and medium strong. I like it! The results I get with this conditioner are great on my backlenght hair, not as super shiny as with my Aesop Shine Oil, but ‘healthy’ shiny. Though I am not a big fan of selfies I will post a picture on instagram (see) to give a resemblance, since results are science too. I am saving the INCI check for the next entry, because I am visiting friends in Berlin. Will definitely visit legendary MDC apothecary, filippa k and &otherstories and if you want to stay updated with my journey feel free to add me to your bloglovin or follow me on facebook! Excited, Ea Birkkam
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery
An effective, minimalistic diy facemask with scientific backup that takes only one(!) ingredient next to water: Oatmeal (aka Avena Sativa). Preferably finely milled to colloidal oatmeal. Who knew that grandmother’s old house remedy turns out to be so much more effective than most pricey beauty products. I must admit I was a little surprised. There are a lot of things in oatmeal which make it a great face mask. Starch, lipids, proteins, and beta-glucan (a polysaccharide) serve both to keep water inside and on top of your skin. Oatmeal has also been shown to normalize the pH of your skin and protect it a little bit from harmful UV rays (read more here). The best about it? It is very, very low irritating and allergenic sensitizing (see here).
Additionally you can find research implying it is a great remedy for atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and drug-induced rash (e.g. 1, 2, 3) mostly because of one attractive component of oats: chemicals called avenanthramides (see picture above for one of them, Avenanthramide B). These only make up 0.03 per cent of dry oatmeal by weight, but are powerful antioxidants, and have strong anti-irritant and anti-inflammatory effects on the skin. Aventhramides seem to act as a soothing agent to relieve itch and irritation (read here and here). I think that is a lot of efficiency for a 20ct-worth face mask compared to the average face care product. Oatmeal is a healthy snack, too! It helps you to curb your appetite and leaves you satiated for a while(see here). Well, I am pretty sure tomorrow i am going to eat my morning porridge with much more enthusiasm. Best, Ea Birkkam.
“The conscious mind may be compared to a fountain playing in the sun and falling back into the great subterranean pool of subconscious from which it rises.” Sigmund Freud
While they researched on regenerative energy sources made of microalgae, San Francisco based biochem startup Solazyme came across an ingredient that, according to them, might have significant anti-aging properties: Alguronic Acid. A broad mix of polysaccharides produced by microalgae. The structure of the molecule is a little more complex than the one of Hyaluronic Acid, which found its way in our cosmetics a few years ago but it has a similar hydrating feeling. According to Algenist officials, alguronic acid was better than the other compounds in inhibiting the formation of melanin, a pigment that creates age spots (and a tan, beach bronze girls beware); increasing the production of elastase (contributes to skin firmness and elasticity); diminishing the production of elastase (enzyme that breaks down elastin) and decreasing inflammation in skin tissues exposed to UV rays.
Algenist’s tests were conducted in vitro, which means using human tissue made in lab, and all in all it may sound very promising but hence the fact there is no independent research on beneficial effects of Alguronic Acid skin critics (see here and here) and me are not very intrigued on spending up to $65 for their eye renewal balm to $135 for their anti-aging moisturizer, but reviews of The Algenist Concentrated Reconstructing Serum were quite promising (see here), probably because it contains the highest concentration of the active microalgae ingredient and niacinamide out of any of the Algenist products (niacinamide has been clinically proven to treat hyperpigmentation, soften skin and to eliminate mild cases of acne). For scientific reviews of the other products you should check out Paula’s Choice list, which is gives a short overview of the products’ ingredients. Big props for the minimalist product design, Ea Birkkam.
“Beauty is certainly a soft, smooth, slippery thing, and therefore of a nature which easily slips in and permeates our souls” Plato, Lysis
Long, healthy and beautiful nails. There is an ocean of products promising it and most of them are nail polishes. You find them in almost every colour. But if you have really brittle nails you look for a great nail hardener first and most of the polishes have formaldehyde as a hardening agent which is neither good to breathe in or when touching the skin (see here). Today I came across a very interesting article in the Journal of Dermatology and Clinical Research about a product that sounds kind of auspicious, it is characterized as a “medical nail polish.” A colorless, water soluble nail lacquer which is a medical device for treating nail dystrophy (very brittle nails). You have mainly 3 ingredients that make it work:
-Hydroxypropyl-chitosan (HPCH), which is a bio polymer and a film former (similar chemistry as shrimp shells).
-Horse tail extract (ancient roman house remedy for brittle nails and a diuretic- ok, let us skip this one…)
-Methylsulphonyl-methane (a penetration enhancer, presumably to deliver the HPCH into the nail.)
So far i came across 3 products available online, check the right bar for them, i would love to test one of them the next weeks and see how it works. Regards, Ea Birkkam.
“Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.” Franz Kafka
Never without a makeup remover, post shower oil or a good face serum if you have a bottle of olive oil in your kitchen (which i guess you do). The oil you dip your bread in can also have great benefits for your skin. Basically the chemical principles of cleaning your face with olive oil is that “like dissolves like.” It means that oil-based makeup and the oil on your skin would dissolve when olive oil is used as a cleanser. Almost every waterproof mascara i had to fight with came off with olive oil.
But it is also a great moisturizer and anti-carcinogenic. Two studies on mice have found that out: One study showed that topical application of olive oil delayed the onset of UVB-caused tumors (read here). Another study found that a diet rich in olive oil helped inhibit lung cancer (see here), so keep dipping that bread in olive oil. Several classes of polyphenols it contains are the reason for both cases (read it here).
Another great fact is that olive oil not only protects from UV-induced tumors but has also been shown to help protect skin from UV-rays altogether (see here). Resveratrol, an antioxidant polyphenol with major anti-aging properties (read here) can also be found in Olive oil (see here). So i think we have plenty scientific research on olive oil telling us a few drops on your skin every now and then is more than good for you. Just be sure to have a good cold-pressed version of it. Hungry for olives, Ea Birkkam.
“Art is the right hand of Nature. The latter has only given us being, the former has made us men.” Friedrich Schiller
Babassu Oil or cusi oil is a South American light yellow vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of Attalea speciosa (a palm). In cosmetics this oil has properties similar to coconut oil and is a great alternative to it. Babassu oil is about 70 per cent lipids (mostly Lauric-, Myristic-, Palmitic-, Oleic-, Stearic Fatty Acid; read here) and therefore a great skin-like oil since Lauric and myristic acids have melting points comparable to human body temperature. It makes a great solid melt followed by a cooling sensation.
Buriti Oil or moriche oil comes from a South American swamp palm. It is a dark orange oil extracted from the fruit of the moriche palm. The oil contains high concentrations of oleic acid, tocopherols (vit e) and carotenoids (vit a), especially betacarotene (more here). There is scientific research about the Oil on filtering and absorbing cancer-causing UV rays from the sun (see here). It would make a great tanning oil with light spf.
Tamanu Oil, a polynesian dark/greenish inedible oil, has proven track record as a skin healing agent through its unique process of Cicatrization (ability to speed up wound healing and promote the formation of new tissue, read here). It is a widely used traditional tropic aid and Pacifit island folk medicine uses it liberally on cuts, burns, insect bites, acne and more. Feeling tropical, Ea Birkkam
“What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter – a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” Henri Matisse
Blue, calming and naturally anti-inflammatory. Azulene, named after the Spanish word for “blue,” azul, is an organic compound; an isomer of naphthalene, the simplest polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (see here). Whereas naphthalene is colourless, azulene is beautifully dark blue, i really like the colour. Almost since the 15th century it is derived from the steam distillation of chamomile, blue tansy, roman chamomile or yarrow. Azulene oil is a very calming ingredient and used in skincare products for sensitive, irritated skin. The fact it is calmingly blue (see this exotic azulene-coloured mushroom here) makes it a very interesting colouring compound aswell.
Sadly azulene is mildly comedogenic and slightly problematic for people with super-oily skin. Furthermore ther seems to be research indicating that azulene can cause cellular mutation when exposed to UVA light and you might want to stick to rinse off products only if you expose your skin to alot of sun. But still, it makes a fantastic ingredient for an anti-redness face mask, just be sure to wash it off. Calmly, Ea Birkkam