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July 2, 2011

Weleda’s Travel Health Heroes

This article was previously published on Body Confidential.

Weleda’s Travel Health Heroes


Thea Euryphaessa rounds up natural and holistic travel essentials from Weleda

When you’re away on holiday, especially abroad, it can be difficult to find the remedies you usually use for all those minor mishaps, so it’s worth being prepared by packing a few summer health essentials. Holistic healthcare brand Weleda have a whole range of handy-sized remedies – made from 100% natural ingredients – so you can cope with common ills and spills that could potentially spoil a well-earned break. So pack up your troubles with these great travel health heroes:

Problem: Dried out nose                                    Solution: Rhinodoron Nasal Spray (rrp £5.95 20ml)

Air travel is famously dehydrating. Combine that with hotel air-conditioning or chlorinated swimming pools and you’ve a recipe for a dry, sore nose that will be more susceptible to pollens, dust, and other irritants. I swear by Weleda’s Rhinodoron Nasal Spray as it helped me survive this year’s hayfever season without so much as a sneeze. It contains organic aloe vera gel for a long-lasting moisturising effect to soothe stuffy or irritated nasal passages. Highly recommended, this is one of my holistic health and beauty heroes.

Problem:  Travel sickness and tummy troubles      Solution:  Melissa Comp Drops (rrp £7.50 25ml)

It can be difficult to avoid travel sickness and stomach upsets on holiday. A simple change of diet or the anxiety and disruption of the journey can cause mild tummy troubles and holiday misery. This remedy is made from Melissa (Lemon Balm) to help settle the stomach and counteract the effects of too much rich food. Easy to take (try 10-20 drops in water every hour as required) it’s handy for travel sickness and nausea.

Problem:  Insect bites                                        Solution:  Combudoron Spray (rrp £5.95 30ml)

Made with extract of Urtica urens and natural anti-inflammatory Arnica, this little pump-action spray provides relief from insect bites and helps soothe irritation and swelling; ideal to pack in beach bags and knapsacks, or take on summer picnics and day trips.

Problem:  Cuts and grazes                     Solution:  Calendula Lotion/Ointment (rrp £7.50 50ml, £5.95 25g)

Weleda’s Calendula Lotion is great for bathing grazed knees if your family enjoy biking holidays or exploring outside. Or try their natural antiseptic Calendolon Ointment to soothe cuts and minor wounds. Made from organically-grown Calendula known for its natural anti-inflammatory action, this ointment is a useful all-rounder to have to hand for any nasty little cuts from sharp objects hidden in the sand.

Problem:  Bumps and bruises                                             Solution:  Arnica Ointment (rrp £5.95 25g)

Holidays can be demanding times: windsurfing, climbing, hiking, or even carrying a heavy suitcase. Made from organic Arnica, Weleda’s ointment is specifically formulated to relieve muscular pain, stiffness, sprains and bruises, naturally. Rub gently onto any unsightly little bruises and they will soon fade away. I swear by this stuff – it’s been a bathroom cabinet staple for as long as I can remember.

Problem:  Nodding off                                   Solution:  Avena Sativa Comp Drops (rrp £7.95 25ml)

The long haul traveller can find jet-lag a serious kill joy. Different time zones can play havoc with your body’s internal clock. Avena Sativa Comp Drops may help restore precious sleep patterns by helping you to wind down and relax when your body has other ideas. If trying to sleep on the plane, Avena Sativa Comp may help you to nod off. Try 10-20 drops in a little water half an hour before settling down for a sleep. Ingredients include natural sedatives Avena sativa (oats), Passiflora and, Valeriana.

The above Weleda medicines are available from independent health stores and pharmacies. For mail order or for stockist information call 0115 944 8222 or visit the online store at www.weleda.co.uk

Always read the label.

Follow @UrbanDeva on Twitter.

:::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Forbes (Journalist)

June 30, 2011

Intimate Lifestyle Products Reviewed

(This article was previously published on Body Confidential.)

Intimate lifestyle products reviewed

Thea Euryphaessa reviews free-from-nasties products of a personal and pleasurable nature

Since my initiation into the ways of Tantra in a workshop I did back in February (see review here) I’ve spent much more time researching and reviewing intimate lifestyle products. Oh, the fun I’ve had. Take massage candles. In fact, take massage candles you can drip onto your lover… and lick off. That’s right — hot, delicious edible wax. I’m telling you, massage candles are the future. And the sex toys I’ve had the great pleasure of trying out (if you’ll pardon the unintended pun). Good Lord I’m surprised I haven’t exploded out of my skin with a mind-altering orgasm and floated off into some sexual nirvana. I’ll share a selection of my favourite products in upcoming reviews. Meantime, here’s a selection of products I’ve recently discovered.

I Love My Muff

Muff.

I don’t think I’ve heard that word since I was ten-years-old. It is important, however, that one pays as much attention to one’s muff hygiene as one would one’s oral hygiene. In a highly enjoyable book I recently read by Betty Dodson entitled ‘Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving’, Ms Dodson who is affectionately known as the ‘Grandmother of Masturbation’ encourages women to whip out a hand mirror and take a good long look at their vulvas. This visual self-exploration is also encouraged in Tantric circles. The idea is to liberate and get intimately acquainted with, what is still for many women, their dirty little secret. Just read Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’ on the shame and angst women harbour about their ‘down belows’. It’s an enlightening must-read for both sexes.

I Love My Muff continues in the vein of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ championing loud and proud muff/yoni/vulva love. ‘It’s no longer a whisper’, they say, ‘it’s a statement. I love my muff’. What I particularly like about this range, though, is their handmade products are cruelty-free, vegan, and free from parabens/SLS/synthetic colours and fragrances. I have their blue Maintenance Kit which includes a wash, spray, lotion, and wipes and is guaranteed to leave your muff feeling spa fresh. These are premium feminine-care products for the discerning woman. And watch this space for details of the men’s maintenance line, I Love My Muffler.

Available to order from one of my favourite online beauty treasure troves, www.beautyworkswest, the RRP for the blue Maintenance Kit is £29.99.

Yes

British-based company, Yes, describe their products as a revolution in organic intimate lubricants. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that their utterly fabulous lubricants bagged the top spot in the Best Body Care Award category at the recent 2011 Natural and Organic Products European Awards. A well deserved win.

If you’re still using K-Y Jelly, Durex Play, or Vaseline, stop it. Stop it right now. Their products contain eye-watering nasty ingredients you do not want to be applying to sensitive and intimate areas.  Yes’s products, on the other hand, do not contain parabens, glycerine, glycols, grapefruit seed extract (GSE), sodium benzonate, or mineral oil. They are also certified organic by The Soil Association (the world’s first intimate lubricant to be organically certified).

If you’re using condoms then use the water-based lubricant (psst, if you’re a long distance runner, I also recommend the water-based lubricant for areas prone to chafing). My favourite, however, is their oil-based lubricant. Damn it’s luscious: luscious, sensuous, non-staining, and best of all, kind to your body. It lasts and it lasts and it lasts: perfect for marathon sex sessions. Available to order in a variety of sizes and starting at just £4.99 for 25ml through to £16.49 for 125ml, I cannot recommend it enough. One of my beauty heroes, order online from www.yesyesyes.org.

Trinkets

Tampons just got sophisticated. Not just sophisticated, but much more convenient and discreet. These, ladies, are tampons you can have delivered to your front door. Despite this being the 21st Century there are still many women who find it difficult to buy sanitary wear in public. Women bleed, yes, and they bleed on a monthly basis, but it still remains one of the most taboo subjects in our culture. Bleeding, you see, is something you’re taught to keep firmly to yourself. Yet another ‘dirty little secret’ countless women harbour; which is where Trinkets step in.

Made from cotton and free from synthetic rayon additives, Trinkets have firmly established themselves as a favourite among thousands of women who regularly subscribe to their phenomenally popular doorstep-delivery service. No longer do you have to worry about being caught short, your tampons are delivered every three, four, or five weeks through your letterbox in an über-discreet package. Once opened, each beautifully designed box also includes a handy and discreet zip-lock purse pack in which to store them while out and about (perfect for teeny-tiny clutch bags).

Available in all absorbencies, prices start at just £2.29 per box (including delivery) for non-applicators and £2.99 per box (including delivery) with applicators, Trinkets, along with Yes and I Love My Muff, is yet another brilliant, inspiring example of a female-led company taking back responsibility for the unique needs and requirements of women’s bodies. Order and subscribe to their postal delivery service online at www.trinketwomen.com.

Lavera’s Honey Moments Body Oil

Finally, I’m including this body oil in this feature because I want to tell the world just how much I love it. It’s one of the most delicious, most gorgeous organic body oils on the market and I cannot get enough of it. At just £7.95 for 50ml it’s also an absolute steal. Slather this on yourself or share with your beloved. This is one of my beauty heroes. A must buy. Order direct from www.pravera.co.uk.

Follow @UrbanDeva on Twitter.

:::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Forbes (Journalist)

May 31, 2011

Luxury Perfumed Products Reviewed – Part Two

(Click here to read part one.)

Luxury Perfumed Products Reviewed – Part Two


Thea Euryphaessa concludes her two part series on quality smellies for the Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool Confidential regional online publications

Oskia

Fresh out of London and just over a year old, Oskia is a skincare range I’ve fallen head over heels for. The word ‘Oskia’ derives from the ancient Greek and means ‘delivering nutrients’ and ‘beauty’ – and my word how their entire range does. Most importantly, though, their products really work. Add to that their elegant packaging and this gentle, natural range stands head and shoulders above the rest, leaving the Big Guns of the mainstream cosmetic world for dust.

I’ll be reviewing their luscious moisturising range in my next skincare article, but wanted to recommend their ‘Rose de Mai Massage Candle’ here (£34.50 for 200g) – highly recommend it. As a recent attendee of a Tantra workshop, all I’ll say is this candle – made from beeswax, soybean, and coconut oil, and lightly scented with perfume from the May Rose – is just the ticket for lovingly lavishing on oneself or dripping and massaging onto a loved one. Silky, sensuous, and downright classy, this candle is, without a shadow of a doubt, sure to impress. A modern classic. oskia.com

Green & Spring

I didn’t like Green and Spring’s ‘Indulging Home Candle’ (£29 for 235g) on first smell. In fact, I was quite disappointed – so disappointed, I sent it to stand in the corner of the bathroom and condemned it to wear a dunce’s hat. Handmade in the British Isles with essential oils including, among others, rose, elderflower, jasmine, it was described as smelling ‘sensual, balancing, and comforting’. I, however, disagreed.

Then, a strange thing happened: every time I lay in the bath, I’d get a whiff of a sophisticated, complex, intriguing scent. This happened several times. Eventually, after nosing through several lotions, I tracked it down to the dunce candle in the corner. Well, dunce no more – this is now my bathing candle of choice and one whose, free-from-nasties, scent I inhale deeply while soaking with a glass of wine in one hand and Kindle in the other. Let this be a lesson to me never again to write off a scent on first smell. Evocatively sublime. greenandspring.com

Escentric Molecules

Here’s a curious one which sharply divided opinion in the Confidential offices; so much so, in fact, I’m going to revisit it in a later article as I’d like to invite you, dear reader, to head to your nearest Harvey Nichols and sample this for yourself (put it on your skin – not on a blotter card – and apply sparingly). ‘Molecule 01’ (£64.50 for 100ml) is what you’re looking for – a scent our Leeds’ editor, Simon Binns described as reminiscent of ‘a teenage girl’s first foray into cheap perfume’ before later saying it ‘smelt like piss’.

What’s particularly intriguing about this unisex ‘fragrance’, however, is that it’s not a traditional fragrance per se – you won’t necessarily smell this product on yourself (I could and I like it) but others will smell its effect on you: hence the company positioning this product as an ‘anti-fragrance fragrance’ – an ‘effect’ or ‘aura’, rather than a traditional perfume. The other scent I recommend readers try and, once again, I’ll revisit, is their ‘Escentric 01’ (£64.50 for 100ml). Once again, available in Harvey Nichols (incidentally, Escentric Molecules’ range is the fastest-selling fragrance range, ever, at Harvey Nichols London). Here’s the bumph from the Escentric Molecules’ website:

‘Molecule 01 consists of one single ingredient, which is also known as ‘Iso E Super’ in the fragrance industry. On its own it is less of an aroma than an effect.

The wearer may notice a pleasant, subtle velvety-woody note which will vanish, then re-surface after some time, but more than this, she or he will notice the impact it has on other people, because Molecule 01 lends an indefinable radiance to the water. In fact, its effect is almost pheromonic. This is fragrance at its most radical.’

Over to you.

escentric.com

Weleda

Finally, if all this talk of perfume and what-not is getting up your nose –and irritating it – may I recommend Weleda’s new ‘Hayfever Kit’: a natural remedy manufactured from 100% natural ingredients. If, like me, you suffer from hayfever, the sooner you start taking their ever-so-soothing ‘Rhinodoron Nasal Spray’ (rrp £5.95 for 20ml) and homeopathic ‘Mixed Pollen 30’ remedy (rrp £6.95 for 125 tablets), the better. And if you buy both products together in the special hayfever kit, you’ll pay just £9.90, saving £3 on the usual combined retail price of £12.90. Available online at: weleda.co.uk

::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Forbes (Journalist)

April 11, 2011

Luxury Perfumed Products Review — Part One

Luxury Perfumed Products Review — Part One


Thea Euryphaessa starts a two part series on quality smellies for the Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool Confidential regional online publications

Shiffa

Shiffa is a young brand and one I was introduced to only recently. I initially approached their products with suspicion, if only for the fact I’d never heard of them before; until, that is, I smelt one of their ‘Signature’ candles called ‘Prosperity’ (the other being ‘Sensual’). Wow. Words cannot describe how I felt when I first opened the exquisite box and inhaled the treasure it beheld; I was so overwhelmed, in fact, my olfactory bulb dropped to its knees and wept tears of sensory delight. Shiffa’s candles make Jo Malone’s seem dowdy and passé in comparison.

Wild, heady, and enchanting, I’m not surprised Shiffa’s ‘Prosperity’ candle (£31.62 for 200ml — based on today’s exchange rate) is what the very best-dressed bathrooms are wearing. The highest grade frankincense, patchouli, cinnamon, and saffron contribute to a candle with a bewitching fragrance guaranteed to stop people in their tracks. I particularly recommend their ‘Gemstone’ candles (£31.66 for 200ml — based on today’s exchange rate) for healers and therapists who are looking to stand out from the crowd and exude an air of exclusivity and tranquillity in their practice or reception area.

And don’t even get me started on their body oils. As mentioned earlier, you really do get what you pay for, and with the highest-grade almond oil, Persian flower, Ylang-Ylang, and rose-scented geranium, their ‘Sensual’ body oil (£50.31 for 100ml — based on today’s exchange rate) is of such a high quality, it effortlessly doubles up as a sexy, seductive perfume with excellent staying power. Order online at: shiffa.com.

Korres

Korres (pronounced ko-RES) have their roots in Athens’ first ever Homeopathic Pharmacy and derive almost all their ingredients from nature, with an extensive natural and certified organic skin and hair-care range (400 products and counting). Their packaging, with clear listings of ingredients, is exemplary and a must for those who wish to know exactly what their skin and bodycare products do and don’t contain (with almost their entire range being free-from-nasties including parabens, mineral oils, propylene glycol, etc).

To be honest, I can’t say enough good things about this company — particularly their fresh, springtime ‘Fig’ scented range of body products which are ideal for those on a budget. Standout products include their Body Mists, Body Milks, and Body Butters — perfect for layering and with noteworthy staying power. I’m not in the least bit surprised this brand counts David Beckham, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and Woody Allen among its legion of celebrity fans.

Their Saffron/Amber/Agarwood/Cardamon eau de toilette (£24 for 50ml) is one my boyfriend has taken a shine to and, I have to say, has incredible staying power smelling nigh-on divine on him. A timeless woody, oriental, amber scent, this eau de toilette is intensely sexy yet gentle — definitely one to wear if you wish to stand out from the crowd korres.com

REN

Back in 2005 I had a lodger who was a die-hard fan of REN’s products. I can’t say I was particularly into rose-scented products back then, but that didn’t stop me appreciating the aphroditic smells emanating from my bathroom after she’d finished bathing and/or showering. I’ve only just laid my hands on products from their ‘Moroccan Rose Otto’ range, but can already say this is the stuff from which goddesses are made — what a sublime scent. I’ll be reviewing body and bath oils in a future article, but already the Moroccan Rose Otto Body Wash (£17 for 200ml) is worthy of praise — the epitome of luxury, showering in this scent will transport you to Marrakech’s fragrant and bustling souk. renskincare.com


(Part two to follow.)

:::

To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

“This is a story that truly reveals its author. You’ll discover her beliefs, her flaws, her loves, her fears, her mistakes, her drive and her compassion.

And you’ll like her.”

— Rowena Forbes (Journalist)

March 26, 2011

Organic/Natural Skincare — Cleanser Review

Thea Euryphaessa reviews the crème de la crème of natural, organic, and irritant-free cleansers for Manchester (Leeds and Liverpool) Confidential.

Organic/Natural Skincare — Cleanser Review


It’s one thing to walk into a shop and be bamboozled under glare of bright lights and the spin of slick sales speak into a later, unwanted purchase. It’s quite another to spend time with products in the privacy of one’s own home in order to separate the wheat from the chaff, the unsung heroes from those overhyped products parading about as the Emperor’s New Clothes — which is what I’ve spent the past few weeks doing.

Fast approaching thirty-five, I’m much pickier these days about what I put on my skin. Therefore, products containing parabens and sodium laureth sulphate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) are out. As are products containing mineral oil, phthalates, alcohol, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, artificial fragrance and colourings, and phenoxyethanol.

Occasionally, I let irritants sneak through the net; for example the preservative, phenoxyethanol, although recently banned for use in certified organic skin care products by Ecocert and COSMOS (the new EU organic certification standard) does appear in a few of my absolute favourite products, but I make sure not to use those particular products every single day. Forewarned is forearmed. So, without further ado, here’s a round-up of the natural, organic, and irritant-free cleansers I’ve been most impressed by.

My absolute favourite ‘lazy’ cleanser is Weleda’s One-Step Cleanser & Toner — ‘lazy’ because I use it when I can’t be bothered with the rigmarole of washing and drying my face: a quick wipe with a cotton pad and my skin’s left deeply cleansed, soft, and refreshed. Free from synthetic preservatives, fragrances, colourants, and mineral oil derivatives it does, however, contain fragrance from natural essential oils which may irritate super sensitive skin types. Still, I can’t praise this product enough. In fact, I love this citrus-smelling milky cleanser so much, I’ve almost finished the bottle – and that’s with a bathroom full of cleansers to choose from. A must buy. £9.95 for 100ml. www.weleda.co.uk


The Organic Pharmacy is a range I’ve dipped in and out of over the years who deliver consistently stellar products that look glamorous too. Their Carrot Butter Cleanser (£32.95 for 70ml) ain’t the cheapest, but while moping about with a hangover I discovered it doubles up as a decadent face mask. Packed with nourishing anti-oxidants such as carrot, chamomile, and über-soothing calendula, I left this on for an hour before rinsing off to discover a surprisingly fresh and glowing complexion — most impressed. No wonder Kylie’s a fan. Free from preservatives, colourants, fragrances, and petrochemicals, I reckon Carrot Butter would be particularly effective after a long-haul flight or a day of harsh sun/wind-exposure. www.theorganicpharmacy.com


Caudalie is a brand which caught me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting to like them. Why not? Well, with their fancy packaging they reminded me of the other big cosmetic hall brands such as SK-II, Lancome, and La Prairie etc. I knew they didn’t use parabens, phenoxyethanol, artificial colourings, mineral oils, or animal derivatives but was still resistant… until I tried their products for myself. Wow. There are those brands I like in the sense of their packaging, their ethos (regards not testing on animals etc.), their eco-commitment, and then there are those products my skin likes — or, as in the case of Caudalie, adores. I’ve tried their Cleansing Water (£14.50 for 200ml), Toning Lotion (£14.50 for 200ml), and Gentle Cleanser (£14.50 for 200ml) for all skin types. Their Cleansing Water alone leaves my skin feeling plump and notably softer. I’ll cover their luscious, must-buy moisturiser (Vinosource Riche Anti-Wrinkle Nourishing Cream — £27 for 40ml) in a later article, but suffice to say, I’m smitten. This entire range is a must for thirty-something skin upwards. I can’t wait to try the rest of their products (particularly their body range). www.caudalie.com/uk


Trilogy is a consistently high-performer and reliable stalwart of contemporary natural skin and bodycare. Made in New Zealand, one of their directors was a journalist who, after spending her time sampling endless lotions and potions, put her money where her mouth was and set up Trilogy with her sister. With clear labelling you know exactly where you stand with the ingredients in all their products. Their Cream Cleanser (£22.50 for 200ml) is soothing and moisturising and particularly effective at ridding stubborn eye-makeup in one fell swoop. Interestingly, my forty-something boyfriend who suffers with ultra-sensitive skin has gravitated towards this product. And I have to say I’ve noticed a positive improvement in his complexion — smoother and brighter. With a change in seasons and the need for less moisturising, my skin has responded well to their soap-free Balancing Gel Cleanser (£22.50 for 150ml). My complexion tends towards being oilier, so although I couldn’t use the Balancing Gel Cleanser in the colder months, it’s a must for spring and summer. In fact, I recommend this product together with their Energising Face Lotion (£26.50for 100ml) for younger skin (teens, twenty-somethings). www.trilogyproducts.com


Pinks Boutique is a range I stumbled across on the deepest, darkest Internet. Supplier of manicure, pedicure, body, facial, and waxing products to industry professionals, their gorgeous-looking almost entirely natural and organic range is accredited by the Soil Association and hand blended in the UK. I sampled their Lemongrass and Mandarin Cleanser (£35.00 for 235 grams) which is included in their Lemongrass Facial ‘Try Me Set’ (£23.50). To be honest, anything with lemongrass in it is fine by me — a soothing, yet uplifting smell. This deep cleansing cleanser left my skin soft, radiant, and super clean with no tautness. Pinks have quietly established themselves as one of my favourite organic ranges — so much so, I plan to track down their nearest ‘Celebrated Spa’ and indulge myself. Recommended. www.pinksboutique.com

Last, but by no means least, Evolve is another natural and organic brand I stumbled across while poking about on the Internet and the one I rave about and adore the most. So far I’ve only sampled their Gentle Cleansing Melt (£12.99 for 100ml) and Multi-Action double cream moisturiser (£14.99 for 50ml). Thing is, their Gentle Cleansing Melt is so sublime I almost don’t want to tell anyone about it for fear of a frantic stampede and sell-out à la Waitrose’s ‘Bottom Butter’ — that’s how good it is. Perfect for hypo-allergenic skin, this stuff is incredible in a gentle, understated way. Unimpressive at first glance it smells like Vaseline but with a softer, gloopier consistency; however, wait until it’s on your skin and you start massaging it in — my-oh-my, it’s heavenly. It emulsifies on contact with water and is easy to rinse off taking all traces of eye-makeup with it. What a gorgeous product — and, so far, my absolute favourite. Great value for money too.  www.evolvebeauty.co.uk

:::

Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

March 3, 2011

Pai Organic Skin Care Review

Pai Organic Skin Care Review


My interest in organic skincare stretches all the way back to childhood when mum vetoed me playing with a lipstick grandma tried giving me. All I recall of the conversation were the words ‘Japanese’, ‘illegal whaling’, and ‘Greenpeace’. Something like that.

The only makeup mum wore was mascara and occasionally, eyeliner. But that was it. She was a passionate advocate of allowing skin to breathe, using only the purest, most natural skin and body care products available. During my teens I joined the BUAV (British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) and even gave speeches on their work in secondary school.

In my late teens, however, and with an onslaught of acne I dropped my cruelty-free organic stance in favour of anything that would clear my vesuvian-blemished complexion. So it was I finally ventured into the cosmetics hall in search of products which promised clear skin. I finally settled on Clinique and went the whole hog buying up their entire range. Did it work? Not really. To be fair, they did help a little but only because their products were so bloody abrasive. I was also sucked in by the fancy packaging.

During my early twenties, and with my skin still not playing ball, I progressed onto Dermalogica’s products. After a series of their intensive facials and investing thousands of pounds on their products over a several year period, my skin was finally wrestled into submission. To give them their due, I’m not surprised they’re considered one of the world’s top skincare brands. In terms of packaging they may not be all that to look at but they definitely sorted my skin out.

In my late twenties, however, my organic bent reared its head again as I began reading labels and gradually switched all my household products to eco-friendly versions. Soon after, skin and bodycare products followed. Thing is, it’s not been an easy road.

Just because I opt for organic, environmentally-friendly products doesn’t mean I want to look like one of those poor looking eco-heads who don’t look like they’ve washed in years, have matted hair, and permanently smell of musk. Just because I shop natural/organic, doesn’t mean I want to be asphyxiated with overpowering essential oils which are equally capable of stripping skin, particularly if it’s sensitive. Neither do I want down-in-the-mouth-looking skin/bodycare products which smell and look no different to the stuff I put down the loo.

I want products with a luxury feel and bathroom-shelf chic which are free, wherever possible, from nasties such as parabens (natural and synthetic), alcohol (dries and irritates skin), propylene glycol, phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde and beeswax (pore blocking and comedogenic); which is why Pai’s products hit all the right notes.

Perfect for super sensitive skin, this is the skincare range of choice for porcelain-skinned, Oscar-winning actress, Natalie Portman. It’s also the skincare range of choice for my boyfriend who’s snaffled almost all my Pai products and claimed them as his own in a scary Gollum-like fashion, hissing “Mine!” whenever I so much as attempt to use them.

We’re both fans of their Macadamia & Rose Organic Dry Skin Cream (£22 for 30ml). It’s ever-so-slightly scented, but still gentle on the skin. My skin isn’t particularly dry but still drinks this moisturiser up leaving no trace of oiliness. My fella’s skin, however, is permanently parched but it seems to do the trick for him too.

They only have one cleanser and that’s their Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser (£25 for 100ml). It comes complete with an organic, unbleached muslin cloth — nice touch. My word is this product understatedly luscious. It leaves your skin deeply cleansed, hydrated, and soft to the touch causing no irritation whatsoever. I wish this product had been out back in my teens when I was struggling with acne. It’s also sensitive enough to use by those who suffer from rosacea, urticaria, adult acne (or any age acne for that matter), eczema, and contact dermatitis.

I also carry their Fragonia & Seabuckthorn Instant Hand Therapy Cream (£16 for 50ml) in my bag at all times. It has a base note which, admittedly, does smell a little odd but you soon get used to it. Regardless, its overall smell is pleasant enough. Most importantly, it’s fast absorbed, deeply nourishing, and, once again, über gentle.

My fella has completely claimed their Anti-Aging Echium Eye Cream (£24 for 10ml) for himself and seems happy enough with it. I, however, have managed to hang onto their Bergamot Orange Organic Lip Care (£6 for 7g). It’s not greasy and does the trick, keeping my lips kissably soft.

They offer sample sizes of many of their products so you can try before investing in the full-size versions. Without a doubt, Pai is a must have organic and cruelty-free range for ageing and sensitive skin. To buy their products visit their website at www.paiskincare.com.

:::

Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

March 1, 2011

Women’s Invitation: Shakti Tantra Workshop Review

My latest Manchester Confidential article on Shakti Tantra’s women’s only Tantra weekend-long workshop I recently attended.

Of Womanhood, heir


If there’s one thing that tires (read: bores) me more than anything, it’s the press’s mind-numbingly predictable, tittilatingly-sensationalised coverage of all things Tantra related. The words ‘Sting’ and ‘go at it for hours’ spring to mind. You see, when it comes to sex and sensuality we’re a prudish lot. Although we like to think we’re sexually liberated and laid-back, we’re mostly fearful, uptight, and embarrassed when it comes to sexual matters.

We’re also terrified of intimacy. Speaking from my own experience, it never fails to surprise me how insecure and inhibited men also are once they’re undressed and in a sexual situation. I’ve seen penises retreat so far inside bodies I’m surprised they’ve not popped out the other side. Men, it seems, carry as many sexual hang-ups and bodily insecurities as women despite their bravado to the contrary.

You see, no-one teaches us about sex. In fact, no-one even teaches us about our bodies and the intricacies of our intimacies. And so, we stumble and fumble in the darkness beneath the duvet or in candlelight (if we’re feeling adventurous). Although men regularly handle their ‘vajras’ (Tantric term for penis) when they pee, and women may entertain their ‘yonis’ (vagina) with a Rampant Rabbit or, horror of horrors, their fingers if they dare touch themselves ‘down there’, the potentialities of our sexual centres remain a relative mystery.

My interest in Tantra stretches back five years. In fact, it probably reaches all the way back to my early twenties (albeit unconsciously) when Sex and the City first ever aired in the UK. I watched the girls’ every move, eavesdropped on their conversations in an attempt to learn all they knew about sex. Why? Because I already knew something was amiss in my own sex life — I either wasn’t consciously connecting with partners, or was going through well-rehearsed techniques and rote routine. Whatever, sex was a tense, orgasm-focussed, BANG-BANG-BANG event rather than a juicy, sensually erotic opportunity to enjoy the experience in and of itself.

But with sex education limited to a half-arsed book and a biology class on the reproductive system, I was pretty much left to my own devices. And so it continued until early 2007 when a friend emailed me details of a talk being given to a group of women about Tantra by an organisation called Shakti Tantra. Intrigued, I went along. Although my curiosity was piqued, it would be another four years before I finally wound up on one of their ‘Women’s Invitation’ weekend-long courses — last weekend to be exact.

I signed up for the course at the end of January somewhat absent-mindedly. I knew I wanted to do it but was busy with other stuff so didn’t really pause to consciously consider what the workshop might entail. ‘It’s with a load of other women’, I thought. ‘It’ll be fine’. Hmm…

To say the workshop was life-changing would be the understatement of the millennium. One of my very first thoughts was if every eleven year old girl did this workshop in secondary school our culture would be transformed overnight; pregnancy rates would drop and the number of sexually transmitted infections would fall as young women’s relationships with their bodies were given a solid, confident foundation from which to grow.

Contrary to the British media’s parochial fixation about Tantra solely enabling folk to have sex for hours on end while withholding orgasm and/or ejaculation, it’s actually about far more than that. It’s about healing broken relationships with the body by consciously reconnecting with oneself from the neck down at a physical and emotional level. It’s about carving away the many layers of long-held, mostly unconscious fear and bullshit, and coming into one’s true essence.

For reasons of confidentiality and in the spirit of the ancient Greek Eleusinian Mysteries, I can’t reveal specifics of what took place; suffice to say the women I attended the workshop with were among the most courageous, most supportive, most inspiring individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Like me, these were women who were tired of trying to be something they weren’t or no longer wanted to be. These were women who wanted to drop the guilt, shame, and fear and face all future sexual interactions with every single cell in their body consciously engaged and with an open heart and generosity of spirit. These were women with whom I laughed and cried and am now proud to call my friends.

To be clear, none of the workshops Shakti Tantra run are for the faint of heart; rather, they’re for those who are ready to drop the crap and connect with themselves and others at the deepest, most profound level possible. Let me put it like this: Hilly, co-founder of Shakti Tantra and our workshop leader, had more presence and sexual magnetism in her little finger than many so-called glamour models have in the whole of their silicone-pumped, surgically-enhanced bodies. One seriously sexy dame. Her assistants, also, were bottomless wells of support and compassion guiding us through all the exercises with the utmost tenderness.

And the food? Did I mention the food? I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an erotic looking spread. It was the sort of stuff you want to lay all over someone and lick and pick off them at leisure. Everything about the overall experience was class. Nothing seedy or cheap. The venue, the food, the accommodation, and the teachings were all top drawer. I can’t wait for the next-level residential workshop in June.

They also run men’s, couple’s, and mixed-group workshops. Whether you go alone or with your partner; whether you’re single or in a long-established relationship, please — do yourself the biggest and best favour you could probably ever make in your life and book on one of their workshops. I guarantee it will change your life.

For details of Shakti Tantra’s future workshops visit their website at Shakti Tantra.

:::

Thea is author of the inspiring memoir Running into Myself. Buy a copy from Amazon UKAmazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide).

Thea’s personal journey is utterly compelling. I couldn’t put her book down. Thea manages to make Greek mythology not only understandable, interesting, and relevant to our lives today, but shows how it can be utilised as a tool for self development. She introduces ideas and ways of thinking that broaden your mind, and lights the way for others to follow.”

— Melinda Messenger (TV Presenter)

January 25, 2011

And stretch and yawn…

My latest article for Manchester Confidential:

Thea Euryphaessa indulges in a Yin yoga session at the new YogaPilates studio, Chorlton (Mcr, UK)


I didn’t take up yoga until three years ago when a knee injury sustained during a marathon brought me to a grinding halt. Stubborn bugger that I am, I limped the remaining thirteen miles to the finish line like Hopalong Cassidy. Paid for it afterwards, though.

Any runner who’s ever had the displeasure of feeling their IT (illiotibial) band inflict untold excruciating torment upon their knee during every single step will have felt Eddie Izzard’s pain when he regularly had his IT band ‘stripped’ during his epic Sport Relief marathoning endeavour. How he continued, I’ll never know. My injury, however, drove me first into the arms of a myofascial release therapist and, soon after, into my first Pilates class.

Pilates must be one of the most subtle, stealth-like ways of achieving tone and strength I’ve ever encountered. After just one class, I stepped out onto the street, shoulders back, feeling several inches taller. Since taking it up, several strangers (I kid you not) have approached me to comment on my apparently excellent posture. It’s also a phenomenal way of increasing core strength for endurance events such as the marathon, helping drastically reduce fatigue across the back and shoulders, post-race. But it was my instructor who, on learning about my IT band issues, recommended I try Yin yoga as it works deep into the myofascia.

Myofascia (also known as the connective tissue) holds the muscles in place, much like how the pith of an orange holds the segments in place beneath the outer flesh. Until this point, I’d been reticent to try yoga. I had enough on my plate recovering from an injury and training for another marathon without contorting myself at speed in a heated room à la Bikram yoga. Running’s hard enough as it is. But much to my surprise, like Pilates, Yin yoga was another revelation.

I like to call Yin yoga, yoga for lazy so-and-so’s, although I’m not sure my instructor would necessarily agree or be best pleased with that description. In my opinion, Yin yoga is perhaps the most deliciously indolent style of yoga available but, paradoxically, one of the most challenging too. How so?

Well, in Taoist philosophy ‘yang’ is the hot, hard, fast, dynamic principle; whereas ‘yin’ is its complementary counterpart, typically characterised by cool, yielding, slow, soft qualities. So, in Yin yoga, rather than quickly moving from position to position in a state verging on the manic (which is how Ashtanga yoga felt to me), each position is held for several minutes – several very long, very challenging minutes. Several of the poses were developed and practised by sages to help them strengthen the body so they could sit for long periods of time in meditation. In fact, it’s said that Yin yoga involves some of the most ancient asanas around.

If you’re the type who spends every day rushing, flapping, always ‘doing,’ Yin yoga is the perfect antidote as it simply allows you to ‘be.’ For some, however, therein lies the problem: this simply ‘being’ malarkey can cause a fair few folk to get twitchy. With little else to distract and the gradual lengthening and deep stretching Yin yoga involves, there are those who find it difficult to fully surrender to each pose and hold it for the allocated time. But for lazy buggers such as me, it’s the perfect way to completely switch off, unwind and allow my body to do its own thing, in its own time.

I struck gold with my Yin yoga instructor, Mathew Godebski. Grounded and straight-talking, there’s nothing unnecessarily esoteric about the way he teaches, which is just how I like it. He also prescribed a specific set of poses for me to complement my running practice and help alleviate my IT band injury which, I’m pleased to report, has now fully healed.

If you’re interested in trying Yin yoga, Mathew’s new YogaPilates studio can be found at Unit 14, Albany Road Trading Estate, Albany Road, Chorlton, M21 0AZ. Yin yoga classes take place every Wednesday evening between 7.30pm – 9.00pm. For further details, visit his website at yogapilates.co.uk

~

Buy a signed, limited edition copy of Thea’s inspiring book here.

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