LUSH Haul: Product Reviews

I have been shopping at Lush for several years now, but recently I started really getting into their products. Having all, or at least more, natural ingredients is increasingly important to me. This month I splurged on a handful of products I thought could be worth replacing some of my usuals.

Here it goes:

Magical Moringa Primer: I first read on the lovely youth reviving benefits of moringa oil before purchasing this. This is one of the more expensive Lush products (it cost me around €36 here in Belgium) but I don’t regret buying it! If you try it start with only a little! It really goes a long way. I used a quarter sized scoop and had to blot a lot of with a piece of tissue paper before applying makeup. I love that with this product you don’t even need a moisturizer because it acts as both a moisturizer and a primer. It might feel slippery under your makeup or bare skin at first, but after some rubbing in and time it turns into a very mattifying primer effect. I have oily skin and I only blotted my face once! For oily skinned people – you know that’s nothing! On top of that, I knew my skin was being nourished by natural oils instead of fake chemicals sitting on top of my skin. If I had to rate, I would give it a 8/10.

Cheer Up Buttercup Bath Bomb: I havetried many bath bombs by Lush. I enjoyed several, but this one is my absolute favorite! It has lemon oil as one of the main ingredients and truly, if you feel gloomy you WILL feel better after this bath bomb. I felt so nourished and happy, yet relaxed for bed. I plan on buying a handful when I go back for my moody days! 10/10

Breath of Fresh Air Toner: This product is nice for freshening up the skin after a shower or before putting on moisturizer. I got it to spray over makeup as a freshen up since it has sea water, and I wanted that sea salt effect I love from the ocean. However, it doesn’t go that great over makeup and really only works for me on a clean face to remove residue and tone my face with a cotton pad. I enjoy the product, but it isn’t really necessary to me right now. I would rate this a 6/10.

Ultrabland Cleanser: This cleanser has beeswax as one of its primary ingredients, which is a bit scary to try with oily skin since it is so waxy, but since I am maturing and winter gives me a dry/oily feel I thought I would try. I actually love this product. Especially at night, I love how my face feels cocooned by moisture. When I use it in the morning I have to blot or use another cleanser after in order to put on makeup or B.B. cream without feeling too greasy. I will keep using this for winter and probably change to a lighter cleanser in the summer months. It is a 7/10 for me.

Let the Good Times Roll Cleanser/Scrub: This scrubby cleanser smells like popcorn and makes my face feel baby soft after using. However, I used it every day for a couple of weeks and my face felt a bit raw from using a cleanser so scrubby. I think it is best every few days, not as a daily cleanser like Herbalism or 9 to 5. I would rate it a 7/10.

Snow Fairy Body Conditioner: I am so lazy to put moisturizer on my body after a bath or shower. I don’t know why, but I want to do my face skincare and then snuggle up with my husband ASAP. This is my solution. I slather it on after washing and let it soak a minute or two then rinse. My skin is moisturized and smells like candy and I can get cozy so much quicker. I will definitely re-purchase this one! 9-/10.

Deep Sleep Shower Jelly: It was very confusing when I first opened this product because I had no idea how to get it out. You pull the entire jelly out and wet it in order to release the soap-y particles and wash your skin. It is actually quite fun to use, and I can smell the essential oils and feel as clean as a chemical based body wash. I really like this product but I prefer when I can scoop the soap rather than hold a jelly ball in the shower. I would give this a 7/10 – I love the ingredients but I will repurchase in a normal jar next time.

F*ck it femininity: femininity as a means of rebellion

I had weird career goals when I was 14-16. My dreams often varied from my peers. I wanted to be something a bit extreme. At one point I very seriously wanted to be a nun and devote all of my body and mind to spirituality. I craved a magical and intense mysticism to enter my life. Later, I wanted to be a Geisha (cringe I know). I asked my parents to let me move to Japan to start my maiko training, which obviously didn’t work out. But again, I don’t think I wanted that path as much as the essence of it. I always wanted to live my life and devote it to something feminine and artistic. I wanted a path with passion and creativity. Of course many won’t go these extreme routes, but I do believe there are women out there searching for something spiritual, magical, feminine, deep, and creative. They want a life that is anything but ordinary. We admire Jane Goodall and her exploration, and Lady Diana and her grace and compassion. To me, this is radical femininity.

Today women are increasingly valued by how they measure up to men. Of course we deserve equal rights, pay, and opportunities. Yet, some women give up a part of their hidden feminine hearts in order to be successful how we define it today. Success is defined in our culture often by our career position, income, and external value. Traditionally, feminine values are not of this sort. Women are valuable by their essence, their nature, and their simple act of being themselves in their authentic energy. All of us have different levels of gender identification, so this may not fit each person. But to me, being vulnerable, tender, creative and loving in every situation is an act of feminine rebellion against the masculine system today. Women are often seen as more valuable (societally) when in their masculine essence and exhibit qualities like aggression and ambition, both in love and work. Let yourself be seen when the world says stuff those pointless feelings away!

If you like ruffles and frills bust them out among a grey or trendy office. If you hear words of anger, dare to be compassionate. If someone hurts you, dare to say, “I am hurt” instead of “I hate you”. Dare to be vulnerable and go on a limb to change the status quo of what is held to be valuable today. Offer love even when you can be rejected. Show the world that softness has immense strength.

My Poetry

Here are a couple of poems from some of my hardest times. I have written a book of poetry coming out soon, and during the time I wrote this I was dealing with very serious depression and the two suicides of long-time boyfriends. The book together deals with grief and turning it around.

Here are a few samples:

Autumn comes in quiet corners.
The windshield wipers pump the
rain up and down
like momma's breathing.
It's okay again, to feel beautiful
Because the earth mourns around
you, and with you.
The silence wakes me
and deeper it goes into my heart.
You drive around looking for ghosts,
but I am looking for people,
who are alive.

This is grief,
like the ache for poisoned blood.
I loose more parts of my soul
than I can capture.
Even as the stars and moon get dolled up,
and I walked down the streets of my ancestors,
It means nothing.
It is no cure.
Why does death now taste like love?
I can't remember where my lives begin
Neruda, Nabokav, my communion
is stale.
Lost is my teenage heart.
Dead in your borrowed bones.

Monthly Favorites: August 2018

Here are a few of my favorite things from this lovely August month, here as summer meets autumn:

This is a prescription level vitamin A cream that is available over the counter in France! Also, it is easily available online on Amazon for around $20. It is between a strong prescription strength and a normal retinol cream. Therefore it promises to create changes in the skin (smoother, clearer, build collagen and elastic) but not irritate and cause peeling and redness. And guess what… It does exactly that! I have tried both hard core prescription retin-a and OTC retinol and was too irritated, or saw no improvement. This is easy to use every night and it actually works! I can't imagine not using this for my whole life…

This is another prescription cream from France, but again is easily available on Amazon for around $15. This is prescription level hyaluronic acid. This "acid" really just plumps you skin and binds moisture deeply to the skin. It a compound naturally found in healthy youthful skin, and using it will bind more moisture to the skin. I prefer this with a serum or oil underneath to bind even more moisture. Did you know water does not moisterizer skin, but requires other ingredients to bind moisture to the skin? Don't skip a good moisturizer if you want pretty skin! I even prefer this to hyaluronic serums because it is creamy and really appears to trap in moisture, also it is a prescription level concentrate.

I bought this on a whim at a local grocery store. Not expecting much from a product that only cost 7€, but I was happily shocked. My split ends are finally decreasing so that I can grow out the long princess hair I have always longed for. It works well on both dry and wet hair. I use it after washing at night, and also some mornings. My ends are more full and healthy since using it.

"Desert Flower" by Waris Dirie instantly attracted me after I had heard her name mentioned in Vogue. I forgot to google her, and a week later she stood in front of me at a local bookstore. This is her autobiography of her life. She escaped an arranged marriage by traveling across the African desert alone. She survives assaults and abuses and comes out in the end a gorgeous advocate, model, and political influence. I have the most respect for her and I am finding my heart blooming for women everywhere endearing hardship across cultures, but rising above in the end. (Trigger warning for assault survivors in this work).

I was a bit skeptical over this new Anne and I admit maybe I would have casted some characters a bit differently if I had a say, but I really enjoyed this show! Season one and two are both on Netflix. Season two was my absolute favorite! I love that the show is full of marvelous hair and dress inspiration. Also, Anne's frequent literary quotes and constant positive attitude despite hardship left me feeling refreshed and light after watching. The show also deals with deeper issues such as sexual preference, abuse, beauty and self-esteem, and social stigma.

20 Ways to Create Your Own Fairytale Lifestyle

My heart and inner world has always been like a fairytale. Sometimes it gets buried, but it is always there. I enjoy creating a world around me that is simple and beautiful. It is not superficial, but deeply spiritual, and one of the ways I connect with and glorify God and nature, and feel a purpose. Never believe creating a little beauty, shining a little light, or little acts of kindness are not important. Your own life is your artistic statement and needs no explanation.

1. Create a ritual tea time. For me, it is late afternoon and each morning. There are so many varieties of tea to suit each person. You can buy a specific tea set for your own ritual, and pair the tea with milk or lemon.

2. Learn to make your own clothing. You can have something unique to your tastes and body. At the least, making simple dress or skirts is a creative way to pass the time and end up with a lovely look.

3. Have dinner parties, preferably outside with lights illuminating the surrounding plants. Serve several small courses, dessert, and coffee. Use your best china, maybe find antique pieces. Include a vibrant mix of people new and old to create new connections and ideas flowing. Play card games while drinking champagne. If they don’t want to play cards, one it starts, trust me they will get competitive and lively!

4. Practice a hobby. Making dolls, watercolors, ballet, or embroidery can help you meet others, or have something lovely to add to your home.

5. Have picnics. Whether alone with a book, or with friends. Wonderful places include by a fountain or river, or in your city’s most beautiful park. You can play croquet when with friends.

6. Buy yourself a plant, name it, and speak to it (it honestly helps it grow!) and practice giving a little love to your new friend and it gives beauty to your home. Better yet, make your own secret garden somewhere…

7. Find new uses for flowers, whether pressing them in books and making collages, decorating frames, hanging them in a room, or more.

8. Create your own space for creativity in your home. Whether it is a photography set up with natural light and props, or a comfy corner to set up your painting canvases.

9. Take yourself on dates to museums, historical sites, plays, and natural wonders. Absorb their beauty and let your mind wander. Bring a sketchbook for drawings or poetry.

10. Only watch, read, look at, and listen to things that are true and lovely. Read some of your favorite children’s books. I enjoy the book “The Girl in the Tower”. Children's books and fairytales still ring true for me. The body, mind, and soul don’t age according to turns around the sun, but how fresh and new we are inside and treat ourselves.

11. Create a little vanity with your skincare, makeup, bows, and hair brush. Whatever makes you feel pretty all in one place.

12. Read books and watch films from other eras and bring some of their style and positive mannerisms into today.

13. Go vintage shopping (aka treasure shopping). Need I say more?

14. Be the person who goes out of their way to make someone feel special. Listen awful hard and with a full heart speak respond, make little hand made little gifts, and remember their favorite things.

15. Start a collection. It could be coins, teddy bears, fans, tea sets, whatever you love.

16. Volunteer. Wherever you are is the best place to start healing others.

17. Pet every dog you see, and cats (if they let you). I believe the best people in the world are dogs. It doesn’t have to make sense.

18. Make creative, simple, and healthy takes on your favorite meals. Less sugar, more life giving ingredients. (But sometimes chocolate is good for the soul).

19. Decorate a box to put ticket stubs, letters, flowers, little gifts, and instax photos. You can go through them and remember the fun times.

20. Make everything fun for you. If you are doing chores, sing or listen to music. If you are doing homework, reward yourself every 45 minutes with little things like a latte or small walk. If you are watching your children, set up some me time for a bubble bath and paint your nails. If you are working, bring some poems to memorize when things get slow, or some essential oils and flower remedies for when things or fast. There is always a magical remedy.

Art and Architecture

Today I had a delightful visit in Musée Longchamp. The name came from the architect of the museum, and I think he is worth a google if you enjoy gorgeous buildings. Architecture and sculpture move me more than any art form. They live and breath with you. They make you feel taller, smaller, proud, and humble all at once. Isn't it amazing that we have our own architecture? Our bones, skin, and essence have a potential to inspire the way art does, with a promise of more inside, more treasures within to be explored. What would the art inside of you look like?

*skirt by Rouje

Les Cévennes: A Lost Paradise of France

My love tells me he dreams of this place every night. I thought that was bizarre until I saw it. This land where he grew up is like a garden of Eden. I felt like a fairytale character wandering the forests with a straw basket and provincial dress. I climbed cherry trees to pick and eat the juiciest fruits. We find wild mushrooms to eat with dinner. The stones in the forest are silver and sparkle in the sunlight that creeps through the canopy of leaves. Chestnut trees, some 2,000 years old stand watch over the place, and will long after we are gone. Little creatures peek through the trees and stones. Neighbors of this very sparsely inhabited land peek out of their stone homes to say hello and offer fresh grape juice. Everything feels ethereal, like a place to rest from earth, yet a place filled with more earth than I have ever seen. My hair feels softer, my skin feels smoother, and I am filled with peace spending my days reading in front of the waves of green trees, or napping in front of the stars so clearly defined a meteor seems to pass every five minutes.

Here are some lessons I have learned here: