As you probably know, I love me a good facial oil! My skin drinks the stuff, and since diving into the green beauty domain I've come across a few that are perfect for my sensitive skin...

I suppose it comes with the territory, but plant-based facial oils never seem to have a bad reaction with my skin. However, as a conscious consumer, I do prefer those that are also chiefly organic to minimise any nasties getting onto my skin and into my bloodstream, so I really appreciate the transparence of my Angela Langford Bloom & Glow Facial Oil*. Containing 88% organic ingredients (and 100% natural ingredients), it's been proving to give my usual facial oil a good run for its money in the purity department!

On top of this, it's been keeping my skin soft and glowy whether it's applied on its own (after a good cleanse, tone, and moisturise of course) or under foundation. My skin is starting to behave itself now, now sticking to a regular routine each month, but especially in the winter I need more hydration and something that is sustained throughout the day - I hate finding flaky skin by the afternoon! This facial oil however has been great at ticking all these boxes alongside my other winter skin favourites.

The differentiator for the Bloom & Glow facial oil is that it has a spectrum of natural ingredients that I haven't come across is any other facial oil, bolstering omega 3 through chia seeds and rosehip, with rose geranium to balance hormones and sea buckthorn for added superfood goodness! It also has a pleasant floral scent that rests delicately above a more earthy one, which is the norm for most other natural facial oils I've tried.

If you are looking to try facial oils, I would definitely recommend looking through the Angela Langford range, as they cater to different skin types as well as skin ages, with all natural ingredients found in the kitchen, inspired by Angela's stint on Master Chef!
There are a lot of differences between organic and what is sadly known as normal fresh produce. Recently, I've been finding that my predictions of how long certain foods will keep are way out - and often it's because I've switched between the two.

Organic food is a big focus in my life, and so it's the same on Curiously Conscious. The same goes for local food, although I do find it hard to source both of these sometimes - avocado is one such example. As I explained in my local food essay, exotic fruit such as this is something we will naturally have to sacrifice in order to support local agriculture, which is often organic too when you sniff it out.

Either way, I've been finding my food keep times are dramatically different depending on whether I buy organic or 'normal' groceries! And this differs still from when I buy food from the market, have a food box delivered, or buy it from the supermarket...

That's actually a massive clue right there, and it's something I didn't realise for quite some time. I usually stick to purchasing the majority of the Dirty Dozen as organic food, and since I've started a new job that's quite the commute, I keep a certain amount of spinach both at the fridge at work, and my fridge at home. It was when I started noticing the spinach in the fridge at work wilting far quicker than my one at home that I started to investigate.

It wasn't exactly the most scientific of experiments; I didn't measure the difference in fridge temperature, size, or placement of spinach. But I did realise that my organic spinach at work was bought from the supermarket round the corner, in the heart of London, whereas my one at home was sent fresh in an organic veg box. Both organic, but one had come straight from a farm around 50 miles away from me, still covered in dirt in a brown bag. The other was from somewhere in Britain, steamed in on a lorry, clogged up in a soft plastic bag and completely clean. The latter wilted far faster.

And non-organic spinach? Quite often it's from Spain, which is a triple threat: Spain supports GMO crops, as well as the non-organic pesticidal use, plus flying it in affects its freshness, and also causes quite a bit of harm to the environment. I can imagine it wilts pretty darn fast, and if not, what kinds of chemical preservatives are keeping it alive longer?

Essentially, organic food very often lasts longer due to its natural ties with local food. Farmer's markets and local veg boxes are the best for this, with the quickness of its picking and delivery supplying more nutrients on top of the avoidance of chemicals. Plus, after reading through The Microbiome Solution, I now know that a little mud left on my veggies is actually pretty good for me too!
I know the word natural comes with a lot of caveats, but these face masks truly are natural - and they work great on greasy and dry skin alike!

You must know by now that I'm a face mask junkie. If I could get the time (and a regular schedule!) I would do one every week, like I did in university, sat in the bath while my face slowly dries and is then revealed all fresh and soft again.

Having tried so many different types, it's testament to Earth Kiss Face Masks* that they actually stand up to my favourite few. I know that it's down to their clay base that they work well on my skin, and being all-natural means the light scents and different textures don't cause me to worry like I would with synthetic ingredients.

I'm pretty sure I've gone over it before, but to clarify, natural applies to these masks over organic because they would need over 75% organic plant matter to gain this certification. Earth Kiss is made with a number of different clays, such as kaolin, bentonite, glacial mud, dead sea mud, and more, which means it doesn't reach this threshold. However, from looking through the ingredients list, I can vouch that its ingredients are pure, although some of the masks do feature a preservative derived from milk, meaning it's not vegan.

On the flip-side, Earth Kiss are pretty animal-friendly, being certified cruelty-free by The Leaping Bunny and PETA, as well as suitable for vegetarians.

The packaging is also recyclable, although I think it would be nice to see these masks available in larger sizes, for multiple applications and to save on waste. That is of course based on the assumption that the clay doesn't dry out with a little air exposure - as all of the ones I've tried were one application only.

Of all the range, my favourite was definitely the Miracle Clay Facial Bamboo Sheet Mask* as it left my skin so soft, didn't dry out too much, and was also my first sheet mask! I might have looked like Hannibal Lecter but I also had baby soft skin!
I've spent a long time thinking about what I put in my gut... but what about what lives there naturally? Robynne Chutkan's book has opened my eyes to how important the "good" bacteria that work symbiotically with my body really are...

I'm starting to really enjoy my Book Club series. It might not be very frequent but the range of books I'm enjoying around healthy eating and sustainable living are helping me to not only keep on the right track but also deepen my understanding of what it really means to be healthy and mindful.

Over the last few weeks I've been commuting with my buddy The Microbiome Solution*, and I've come to find myself marvelling at the direct influence of my microbiome - all the micro-organisms living on and inside me - on my health. It's actually quite astonishing how I've never considered the influence of all the life my own body sustains and is affected by, but then again, it's the same for conventional medicine.

Looking back at my personal medical history, I really relate to the cases featured in this book. Being prescribed long doses of antibiotics for blips in my health to acne issues, I'm now finding the symptoms that still haven't cleared up despite my generally healthy diet and regular exercise. These include rosacea, acne, and UTIs, all of which can be easily triggered by bad bacteria, as the book explained.

Not only does The Microbiome Solution go through this, it shows how to cure it - with tips spanning from diet changes to natural DIY beauty creations, with recipes to boot. I love this approach, as it makes it so accessible to change up your current state and promote growth of a healthy microbiome at a rate of your choosing. Whether you simply want to add more plant-based fibre for digestive issues, go the whole way by trying a vegan or paleo diet, or upping your intake of fermented foods, it's all in there, and explains how to rewild yourself too. This is essentially introducing exposure to bacteria in its natural habitat, learning to be a little less hygienic and a little more accepting of the elements to permit your body to grow its own natural defences.

All in all, The Microbiome Solution has cemented my belief in a wholefood diet, as well as made me more aware of my own conditions and how I could help look after the organisms working with my body to protect and heal me, inside out.
You've seen it everywhere - manuka honey, with its grades and its alternate shelf in the shop. But do you know where it comes from, why it's so different, and why it's so good for you?

I've been intrigued by manuka honey for quite a while - being a complete sweet tooth as a kid, honey on toast remains a guilty pleasure, but manuka promises a lot more than just a sweet treat. It's worth noting here that honey is something I'm quite happy to eat provided it is sourced sustainably (whereas other bee-products, such as royal jelly, remain on my banned list).

You could say manuka honey is a rarity, because it comes from the bush of the same name, grown in New Zealand and New Zealand alone! It's for this that we see higher prices, but its origin is not its only redeeming factor (although I'm a strong advocate for local food in general). Manuka honey comes in a range of grades, from 5 to 25+, denoting the potency of the honey itself.

Unlike other foods, this grading is not simply denoted due to its production, such as olive oil. The Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) grade is given by the independent UMF Honey Association after testing for three key ingredients: dihydroxyacetone, methylglyoxal, and leptosperin. These are all present in real manuka honey, the threat being that the global market is flooded with fakes that do not have the same health properties manuka does. Essentially, the higher the presence of these three, the higher the rating (and thus, the more effective the health benefits).

Manuka honey is essentially a superfood in both culinary and beauty standards. Depending on the rating, it can go from being an immunity booster to a digestive aid, burns treatment, and DIY face mask perfect for rehydrating skin. Considering the colder weather can negatively impact both our immune system and skin in one fell swoop, manuka honey is a store cupboard essential!

Over the past few weeks, I've been using Steens Manuka Honey* in my kitchen, chiefly as an immunity booster in a cup of lukewarm lemon water, doubling up the digestive and immunity boost from lemons themselves. I've also tried it straight (because I'm still a sweet tooth deep down!) and while I'd advise against using it as a refined sugar alternative, it's a delicious treat for when you have a sore throat. It's also good to note that Steens Manuka Honey is raw, cold-pressed, unpasteurised, and you can even trace your pot of honey back to where the bees collected your honey!
Here's my latest fashion find! I'm excited to unveil my Yenna Label organic cotton t-shirt, made with eco-friendly inks and eco-friendly packaging too!

From being a fan and avid supporter of ethical fashion for a good while, you start to learn which brands are doing it for the market, and which are doing it for the love of the planet. Yenna Label are one such passionate group, who have dedicated themselves to producing artful and sustainable pieces of affordable fashion.
As you can see, I'm enjoying my new Surf Your Life tee* despite all this cold and wet weather (although my hair did not fair as well...) Pairing it with an old denim shirt, I love the laid-back look and the photograph from Fistral Beach in Newquay throws me back to being 18 and going to my first festival there! Hey, perhaps the messy hair was actually a tribute to all those surfers...

The main thing I love about Yenna Label is that while they're a young, independent business operating in the UK, all of their t-shirts and sweatshirts are made from 100% organic cotton, hand-painted with eco-friendly inks, and sent out in bio-degradable mailing bags, using recycled card where necessary. This practice of sustainability throughout for such a small operation while still offering their collection at high-street prices shows than being green genuinely doesn't cost the earth, both as a sustainable start-up, or as a conscious consumer.

It's an incredible pleasure therefore to also be able to offer an exclusive discount code when shopping in their brand new boutique on ASOS Marketplace. Until 29.02.16, you can get an extra 30% off your clothes with the code 'curiouslyc'. If you do grab yourself something nice, be sure to tweet myself and Yenna Label - I'd love to see what you choose and share it with my followers!
A New Year brings a new diet - and when I say that I mean 'all the food I eat in the day', not 'a strict discipline to lose weight'! I've decided to give up cheese for a while, and cashew cheese is definitely making it a lot easier!

I'm going to be honest, the only reason I love cheese is for its umami and salty taste. It's the same as crisps, but so much more accessible - grated cheese on veggie bolognese, parmesan on your pizza, feta in a salad - it adds that yummy zing that cuts through the bulk and the vegetables.

And that's where cashew cheese comes in - there is no sacrifice needed, it's completely vegan, and the probiotic nature of it means it's umami, salty taste remains, with benefits for your gut!
This January I've been loving the new chive flavour casheese* from Gozo Deli. Not only does it have less fat and salt than regular cheese, it's creamy, doesn't harm animals, and did I mention it's organic?

I've taken to adding little dollops on a black olive, tomato, cucumber and spinach salad, along with whipping it up with courgette noodles. It works just like cream cheese, but I actually think it has a little more of a kick, and the chives give it a more flagrant flavour too.

As for Gozo in particular, I love that since my first try, they've switched to glass jars that are not only cute enough to house bobby pins and spare buttons, but can be recycled and aren't as bad to the environment has their plastic predecessors. Nice one guys!
I'm a total skincare junky, but it's actually been a long time since I added make up remover and toner into my routine. Here's why I'm hooked to these natural micellar and floral waters...

For some strange reason, I've been living in the dark ages for quite a while when it comes to pampering my pores. I've been a big fan of natural creamy cleansers for ages but just not the process; sprinkling warm water onto my socks and having it run down into my pyjama sleeves as I scrub each night is actually one of my pet hates. Now though, instead of being careful, I just crack out my Melvita Micellar Water* and Floral Water*.

Here's why it's such a joy to use these two organic waters: they smell beautiful, and really do the job. I take a warm soft face cloth and apply my micellar water to it to start with, swiping away the day's makeup and grime, leaving my face clean but not overly scrubbed. You'll note that I use a face cloth rather than cotton wool to do this, as it's a much more sustainable option. Then I spritz my face with the floral water, which smells really divine. It helps close my pores quickly while keeping my face dewy before bed.

And what's even nicer about these two is the fact that there is no sacrifice whatsoever. With a lot of natural beauty alternatives, there's some kind of downside that keeps it from competing with synthetic alternatives, or there's at least one ingredient I avoid sneakily hidden in its formula. Melvita actually lives up to the price tag and delivers pure products that are also certified organic. I think I'm in love!
Another few items I have been enjoying from their range is the famous L'Or Bio face oil* ('organic gold' in French) which smells sweetly floral like no other organic face oil I have ever tried, and their 3 Honeys balm* which works great on dry patches and lips alike. As always, I'm a sucker for pretty packaging as much as I am for the products they hold, so I love having these on display in my bathroom and makeup counter, although I do think the balm needs to be more shallow so I stop dragging my nail through it!

If you are vegan, obviously the lip balm isn't going to be on your wishlist but I'd definitely recommend the skincare waters. Plus, the company does not test on animals and works with French charity One Voice to fight against animal abuse.
Let's be honest - sometimes we don't have enough time for breakfast in the morning. While I am all about mindful eating in the fact that I look forward to food, plan it, prep it, and give it all my attention, my new commute has made things difficult... Luckily, Perkier has helped out.

I've started a new job and while three days might be a little quick to judge, let's just say... I love it! I love the hustle and bustle of London, I love whizzing along in the tube, and more importantly I love the people I work with and the work I'm doing. So I suppose it's a little odd that I'm still so happy considering my eating routine has fallen out of place. I've got my lunches sorted, filling the fridge with salad bits to make every lunch time, and I cook batches of food on the weekend to keep me sorted for dinner but breakfast... breakfast is my weak point.

Getting up earlier has basically confused the hell out of my stomach. Do you ever get that nauseous morning feeling when you have to wake up early? My muscles are tired, and my stomach wants to continue to fast for a little longer, meaning I don't crave food until I'm on the train to work. Luckily, I've had these Perkier quinoa bars* on hand and they have kept me good company.

Made from organic quinoa, oats, sprouted grains, nuts, and berries, they definitely fill a hole. I've got to admit that the oat bar is my favourite, followed by the cacao and cashew quinoa bar, but I think that's my sleep-disoriented brain picking out my guilty pleasures. I love quinoa for lunch and dinner, so it's actually nice to have it for breakfast too! The one thing I suppose I didn't like was the strong pumpkin seed taste in the seedier bar (cashew, chia, and pumpkin quinoa bar). Pumpkin seeds are okay, but just not a nice flavour mixed in with awesome seeds and grains!

I'm hoping to get my breakfast routine nailed soon (give it a few more days of going to sleep earlier and waking earlier and I'm sure I will) but for now, these make a great alternative and a healthy bar to snack on any time of the day really!
It's pretty rare that I'll do a 'haul' style post, but as I got lovely presents for Christmas I thought I'd share with you my favourites!

This baby definitely takes centre stage - I was so happily shocked that I almost cried when I unwrapped it! I've been meaning to invest in a better camera for a long time now, and had mentioned that this was my ultimate due to its vlog-friendly features as well as packing a mighty DSLR punch in a compact body, so my family all put in to make my wish come true. Since then I've read the manual cover-to-cover and am trying out new lighting and composition styles, so watch out for the arrival of newer, even cleaner photos to hit the blog!

My boyfriend was sweet enough to pick up a Burt's Bees gift set for Christmas, to go alongside a beautiful and delicate dream catcher (I'll have to show you it on a house tour sometime... using my new camera of course!). While I'm not a massive fan of the parent company of Burt's Bees because they test on animals, I do love the Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub for a super fresh face after a shower, and if the Wild Cherry Lip Balm is anything like their A├žai version, I know I won't be able to get enough!
2016 DIARY
Alongside my camera, my darling sister bought me a set of reflectors - but they were so unexpectedly huge we had to send them back! Instead, I picked up an A6 Noto 2016 Diary from Paperchase, which not only looks lovely but is also made from recycled paper. (You may also notice the difference from the top photo and this one as I swapped to my camera to take it!)
Finally, I got an unexpected gift from the wonderful people at Cha Tale, with tea infuser and all! I haven't yet tried these new flavours but I'm looking forward to healthy brews in my mug at work. From left to right, I was sent: pear lychee green tea; elderberry blossom; damask rose buds, and; bamboo tea.