Sunday, 6 November 2011

Henara Intensive Treatment Wax

How I discovered it: I was turned on to the benefits of henna products by a Mexican girlfriend who had the most fantastic hair – yes, I know that it was probably genetic, but that thick, shiny mane meant that I took her advice on all things trichological. 

What they say: “This is the original Henna treatment wax formula made from the finest ingredients. Pure Henna is extracted from Henna (Lawsonia) leaves; and makes an excellent ingredient for deep penetrating hair conditioners. It will deeply penetrate each hair shaft conditioning from root to tip. Natural classic treatment wax revitalises all hair types particularly hair which has been damaged by bleaching, perming and over-styling. Use it regularly to make your hair lustrous, stronger and beautiful to look at.”

What I say: This is a fantastic at-home spa treatment that – I think – makes a real difference to your hair. You work a blob of the thick, white cream through from roots to ends, then wrap your hair in a warm, wet towel, and leave it for half an hour, re-warming the towel as needed. It is a bit labour-intensive, but perfect for those evenings when you want to lock yourself into the bathroom for a good long soak (candles and glass of wine optional!). At around £5 (I’ve seen it as cheap as £2.99) for a 400g jar, it has the advantage of being fantastically cheap – it’s a great product for the price. I would say that this isn’t a treatment for making your hair sleek and soft (see my post on Phytojoba for that) – this conditions, thickens and builds body. I always take a bit of extra care with the blowdry after a henna wax treatment to make sure my hair is smooth. As a once a week or once a month treatment, I can’t recommend it enough.

What could be improved: My only tiny quibble is the smell. It doesn’t have a strong scent, but there’s a smoky under-smell that I’m not crazy about - but I just blend in a little blob of Molton Brown’s hippie-ish Indian Cress conditioner, which makes it all smell a bit like a head shop in the 60s. Lovely.

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Monday, 31 October 2011


How I discovered it: My birthday is very close to Halloween and my birthday parties were always Halloween parties, with all of us in costume, surrounded by Halloween-themed decorations and cake - so for as long as I can remember, it’s been a part of my life.

What they say: “The evening of October 31; the eve of All Saints' Day; All Hallows Eve: observed especially by children in costumes who solicit treats, often by threatening minor pranks."

What I say: Halloween has always been my favourite holiday, knocking Christmas into a cocked (Santa’s) hat. I love it all – the planning, the pumpkins, the costumes, the candy, the scary stories...

Britain finally seems to be getting into the spirit of things now, but when I first moved here they didn’t celebrate it in quite the same way. I remember my husband taking a child of our acquaintance trick or treating in Marylebone a few years ago – 8-year-old Christopher was desperate to have the American Halloween experience. We cobbled together a costume for him with what we had at hand (I’m ashamed to say we sent him out as a pimp, dressed in my husband’s old bomber jacket, a dozen of my gold necklaces, and a pair of shades), and off they went.
They returned 20 minutes later with Christopher’s haul: a banana, 50p and a hard-boiled egg.

Not quite the same as the American Halloweens of my youth, when we’d come back with pillowcases full of chocolate and all kinds of candy, popcorn balls, Crackerjack and toffee apples. (I never actually saw him do it, but Dr. Ziegler, the neighbourhood dentist, must’ve rubbed his hands in glee.)

I also loved the religious element - the fact that it was a ‘hallowed’ evening. I know that these days some Christians think Halloween is wrong – but at my Catholic school, we celebrated it freely, and the next day we were at Mass, celebrating All Saints’ Day. Full of sugar...

What could be improved: I know it’s wrong, wrong, wrong, but I wish adults – oh all right, me! – could still go trick or treating. 

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Oil Soap

How I discovered it: 10,000 years ago, when I was very young, I came across a little bottle of this liquid castile soap in a health food shop. I started reading the label (of which more anon) – and had to buy it! I used it for years, but I couldn’t find it when I moved to the UK. Until now! I was in John Bell & Croyden (the best drugstore/chemist in the world!) the other day, and I came across a whole shelf full of the stuff! 

What they say: “The peppermint essential oil tingles the body and clears the mind. Because therapeutically peppermint oil is a mild stimulant it increases vitality and clarity. All oils and essential oils are certified organic to the National Organic Standards Program. Packaged in 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles.
INGREDIENTS: Water, Organic Coconut Oil*, Potassium Hydroxide**, Organic Olive Oil*, Mentha Arvensis*, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Organic Peppermint Oil*, Citric Acid, Tocopherol
** None remains after saponifying oils into soap and glycerine”

But the real message is on the label ...

What I Say: This is the purest, most gentle, most wonderful multi-purpose stuff – it’s a great face wash (I prefer it to most cosmetic cleansers), an invigorating body wash, a terrific travel soap for your smalls - they say it’s a good shaving soap and that you can wash your hair in it too. Peppermint is the original, and they now make a few different kinds: rose, orange, lavender, and so on – but peppermint is still the one I like best... 

And I can’t help having a soft spot for eccentric Dr. Bronner, his positive spirit and his wild Spaceship Earth ‘we are all one or we are all none’ philosophy. Great product, great company, great value, great fun!
The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Heston from Waitrose Oak-Smoked Salt

STOP PRESS!! For those who are interested, Waitrose are now selling this at 25% off, instore and online.

How I discovered it: Looking for pear puree for my husband (don’t ask), I saw this adorable, fat little jar full of what looked like sugar crystals. On closer inspection, I saw that it was dirty-looking salt – but it went in the basket as soon as I saw the word ‘smoked’ – anything smoked, and I’m in! 

What they say: “Smoked Anglesey Sea Salt. Great for sprinkling over steamed vegetables and barbecued meats for a deep, smoky flavour. This salt is smoked over Welsh oak and adds a smoky flavour to food. Sprinkle a little over steamed vegetables or fried eggs, on barbecued meat or smoked fish to enhance the smokiness or try a pinch on top of a chocolate pudding or barbecued bananas to add an unexpected element.”

What I say: Wow. Smells divine and tastes divine! So far I’ve tried it on eggs and fish – and (medical professionals, look away now!) on its own. Delicious! My husband says it’s fantastic on his favourite potato-fried-onion combo. I’m determined to try it with something chocolate at some point – and if I could be bothered to barbecue a banana, I’m sure it would be wonderful on that too. At £5.49 for a small jar, it definitely falls into the ‘special treat’ category – but it looks great on the table, and would make a nice little present for a foodie friend.

What could be improved: Not a thing! 

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Hennaplus Hairwonder Serum

How I discovered it: The chemist (drugstore to those of you Stateside!) John Bell and Croydon on Wigmore Street is one of my favourite London stores. I can spend hours there browsing! While trawling the haircare aisle, I came across these babies.

What they say: “14 concentrated serum hair treatments, with nourishing and conditioning properties for instant repair of damaged hair. The ingredients penetrate deep into the hair shaft leaving hair healthy, silky, soft, shiny and easy to comb.”

What I say: These little red capsules are perfect for travelling – I pop a few in my washbag when I go the States. Or Manchester. Or Bath. Besides being small, light and packable, they are super-easy to use. Shampoo, towel dry, break open the capsule and deposit contents evenly through your hair. The serum does double duty, acting as both conditioner and styling product. It’s light, non-greasy, and leaves my hair looking great. I also use it at home if I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to do deep-conditioning after shampooing. At around £8 for 14 capsules, they’re pretty good value.

What could be improved: As far as the product goes, can’t think of a thing. These are handy and effective. My only gripe is that they’re a little bit hard to find!

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Aromatherapy Associates Relax Bath Oil

How I discovered it: I received it in the mail (beautifully packaged in a duck-egg blue box) as a birthday present, with a gift card signed only ‘M’. All very mysterious. Quite a lot of brain-racking and phone-calling went on, but by a process of elimination I finally established that it was from my agent, Miranda.

What they say: “Natural oils. Pure nature with nothing added. Expertly blended with key oils of vetivert, camomile, sandalwood. Instil peace and tranquillity, a worry free mind and a restful night’s sleep.” 

What I Say: Miranda told me she was hooked on this oil and – like any good junkie – she wanted to share her addiction. It worked. I can’t do without it now! The smell is utterly seductive - I have the bottle in front of me for reference, and my husband just walked in, sniffing the air, saying, “What is that? It smells so good.” At £37 for a 55ml bottle, it’s very expensive, but the good news is that a little goes a long way. They say to use a capful in your bath – but I think that’s way too much! You need no more than two or three drops, so a bottle lasts ages. Besides using it in the bath, I sometimes put a dab on my wrists or in my hair. Does it instil peace and tranquillity? Hard to say – but it’s utterly delicious.

The verdict: Lorelei loves it!