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Monday, 13 February 2017

Review / Alchemy Oils Amla Hair Remedy

Alchemy Oils Amla Hair Remedy
For nearly the entirety of my teenage years I never made any major hair mistakes. I was one of those lucky kids who avoided totally ruining their hair or doing anything silly with products they didn’t quite understand how to use. The most out there I ever got was in my first year of university, when I dyed my hair a not-so-adventurous shade of black cherry red, until I finally decided to try and hop on board the pastel hair train a couple of years ago.

I had my black hair dye stripped out at a salon, was irritated with how average a job they did for an extortionate amount of money, and attempted to bleach the rest myself. I actually didn’t do too bad a job, but my problem is just bloody patience! After the fourth round of dying my roots and attempting to further lighten some of the stubborn patches, I just gave up and realised I was too lazy for super light hair. You’d feel the same if your hair was three times as thick as most other white gals and was three boxes and a full day’s commitment to bleach or dye.

My hair has almost recovered, with only an inch or so of chemically damaged hair left now, but I’ve been on a quest for products to strengthen and nourish my hair ever since. I came so close to having straw for hair, and I don’t want it to ever go back to that again. So far the only products I’ve sworn by are Paul Mitchell’s Super Strong range, and I’ve been keeping an eye out for treatments, oils and sprays that would help strengthen my hair and promote hair growth to use alongside it.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited when Alchemy Oils got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to try one of their products – what perfect timing! They’re a natural hair oil company, producing 100% vegan and cruelty free products that are free of parabens, harsh chemicals and other nasties. Their Amla Hair Remedy* naturally caught my eye as it’s described as a ‘potent blend of 5 super oils to promote growth and strengthen hair’. Alchemy Oils can be used as hair and scalp treatments (just leave them on for 30+ minutes) or you can use only a little bit to run through your damp hair and style as normal for lustrous locks. The Amla Hair Remedy is heavier than their other hair product, the Grapefruit Hair Remedy, and is better suited to coarser and thicker hair as a styling product, so I figured it would probably be well-suited to mine.

To start, the packaging is rather lovely. They come in a pretty 100ml corked glass bottle (which lends itself well to the name as it looks like it would look right at home on a potion master or alchemist’s shelf) and is sturdy and hasn’t leaked even when I’ve accidently had it laying on its side for a couple of days. Being glass, the bottle is a little on the heavier side so isn’t necessarily ideal for travelling, but Alchemy Oils do also sell little travel-sized versions of their products too. The only major downside of the bottle is that the design does make it a little bit difficult to pour, and it’s easy to tilt it just a tad too much and end up with way more product than you wanted.

The smell of this oil is half the joy of using it – as well as argan, coconut, avocado, sesame and amla oil it also contains a bit of lemon essential oil which makes it delightfully refreshing to use. In terms of texture, it is a thicker, heavier oil so (as they suggest) it may not be better for thin or grease-prone hair, but for mine it’s been perfect. As a styling product, I use just a tiny amount or just dip my finger into the bottle, rub it all over my palms and fingers, and then work it into the length of my hair. On my hair, it doesn’t feel too oily and it adds a beautiful sheen (and scent!) while calming my frizz and helping to tame my hair in general.

I’ve been using the Amla Hair Remedy for a few weeks now in the ways that they suggest: I use this on my hair dry; use marginally more of the oil on my damp hair before my usual routine; and once a week or so I massage it into my roots and scalp, work it into the length and leave it as a mask for a couple of hours before I wash it out again. I have to say, I’ve seen a noticeable difference in how manageable my hair is. Particularly when my hair is shorter, if I go too long without having it trimmed and thinned out again, I run the risk of turning into a puffball and my volume and curls become impossible to keep tidy. Since using this, my hair has calmed right the hell down (even though I’m in dire need of a trim) and my curls and usual poofiness have softened, making it look sleeker, shiner and more like I’ve actually styled it.

In terms of how quickly it’s grown, it’s sort of difficult for me to judge because my hair has always tended to grow relatively quickly when it’s short compared to when it’s longer, but judging by how often I’ve been having to trim my undercut it’s been growing at least one to one and a half centimetres every three weeks or so. That could just be my hair’s natural rate of growth kickstarted by the Amla Remedy rather than purely the product but, well, even then that’s pretty impressive!

At £27 for 100mls it certainly isn’t cheap, but I’ve been using it for quite a while now at least twice a week to style and once a week or so as a treatment, and I’ve only gone through about a quarter of the bottle. Usually I am a little sceptical of more expensive products, but when it comes to haircare I don’t skimp. My big bottles of Paul Mitchell were £35+ each and my heat protectant spray was about £20 – when it comes to my hair, I’m just willing to invest and I will definitely be buying another bottle of this once mine runs out.

I’ve honestly been really surprised and thrilled with the condition that my hair has been in and the speed at which it’s been growing. I’ve finally found a hair product that not only makes a difference to my hair health and texture, but does so with purely natural ingredients to boot! If you’re interested in giving it a go yourself, you can buy the Amla Hair Remedy from Alchemy Oils’ website.  You can even use the code: thezombiesaid for an extra 10% off your order!

What are your favourite natural products to use on your hair?

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the product was sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Review / Barefoot SOS Dry + Sensitive Range

Barefoot SOS Dry + Sensitive
Not long after I wrote about my experiences with their Repair + Renew cleanser, I was asked if I’d be interested in trying out some of the products from their Dry + Sensitive line too. Given that especially during the winter months, my already sensitive skin is quite susceptible to dryness I thought I’d be a great test subject for seeing how some of their products perform!

My skin has been sensitive for as long as I can really remember, although it’s not nearly as bad as some folks’ skin – for example I don’t react to fragrances or have any allergies that I’m aware of. That said, I have always suffered from mild eczema, my face is prone to dry patches and I have to look after the skin that I shave very carefully or I end up plagued with all manner of rashes, razor burns and ingrown hairs.

Barefoot SOS’s Dry + Sensitive range is specifically formulated for anyone who suffers dry, uncomfortable, irritated or sensitive skin, especially those prone to eczema and psoriasis. Their products are supposed to have cooling and soothing benefits while being comfortable, moisturising and delivering protection from the environment and free radicals.

Their Daily Rich Body Lotion* is a nourishing moisturiser that can be used all over the body to provide hydration for dry, sensitive skin. It’s fast absorbing and pleasantly scented without having an over-bearing, unnatural fragrance to it. I’ve been using this every day for a while now on my upper arms as they’re where I tend to get patches of flaky skin, and while this product alone did not make them vanish it helped to reduce them and their itchiness significantly. Half of the moth on my arm tattoo was covered in dry patches but there’s now only a couple of half centimetre-sized spots that insist on sticking around.

This is an easy, thicker lotion to apply with good benefits and I’ve been enjoying using it – the only thing that I’m perhaps not a fan of is that it’s £11 for a 100ml tube, and while the price itself doesn’t necessarily put me off, I would much rather see a bigger size for an all-over body lotion. If I were to use this on my legs (which would probably benefit from it as the skin is so sensitive) I feel like I’d blow through the whole tube in less than a couple of weeks!

The next product I’ve been using is the Soothing Face & Body Wash*, which has been a pleasant surprise! I wasn’t sure what to expect as generally washes that can be used on body and face, or body and hair, tend not to be the best for your skin, to say the least. Essentially, this is a cream cleanser that can be used to wash either your body or as a facial cleanser and I’ve been using it as both.

During my shower at the end of the day, I’ve been using this cleanse my body all over and then using a little bit product with a muslin cloth to gently cleanse and exfoliate my face, too. It has a silky texture and is SLS free so doesn’t foam – to be expected for a facial cleanser, but it’s an odd sensation for a body wash as most associate a foamy cleanser with a good clean. Having said that though, my skin seems to enjoy it and it feels as though my body retains much more moisture post-shower when I use this vs my traditional body washes.

Just because it’s gentle doesn’t mean it doesn’t clean you properly either; I frequently use this after extremely sweaty and intense gym sessions, and this removes sweat and odour just as effectively as any other body wash but with the added benefits of conditioning and soothing your skin at the same time. This is even gentle enough to be used to bathe babies and kids with sensitive skin.

The face and body wash is £16 for 200ml of product, which seems more money than usual for the same amount of body wash but at the same time, is a bargain for a cream cleanser as I very rarely see any face cleansers or washes this generously-sized.  So, I guess it depends on how you intend to use it whether or not it’s worth the cash.

The last product I’ve been testing out is their award-winning Face & Body Rescue Cream*, which comes in three different sizes: 25ml for £5.95, 50ml for £10.50 and 100ml for £18. This is a much more intensive moisturiser than the Daily Body Lotion. although the texture is very similar, and can also be applied to problem skin on the face.

This is advertised as helping to control patches of eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis; provide extra moisture for dry elbows and knees, hydrate sun- and wind-damaged skin and help to soothe allergic flare-ups. It’s a thicker formula than the daily lotion, and has a soft, chamomile-y fragrance.

I’ve used this quite a few times on my entire face overnight as well as more frequently on specific patches of dry skin, and it pretty much does what it says on the tin! Again, like the Daily Body Lotion, it doesn’t magically zap away your eczema, but it’s nonetheless extremely helpful at keeping dryness under control. Those last remaining patches of eczema I mentioned were further reduced when I started using this on it, and they now feel much less tight and irritated even if they didn’t totally disappear.

This has also been a pleasure to use on my face every now and again, because it’s so hydrating but gentle enough that it doesn’t over-moisturise or bother my sensitive skin. This is a new favourite I’ve added to my little collection of dry skin saviours, and is perfect for whipping out on those days when your face is tight and getting a lil’ flaky; it pretty much fixes the problem for me overnight. I will definitely be taking this to save my skin from the nasty, dry, aeroplane air when I’m on my long haul flight next week!

Barefoot SOS Dry + Sensitive Cruelty Free & Vegan


I’m pleased to have found some sensitive skin products that not only seem to help my eczema patches without the need for a prescription, but they’re also cruelty free and vegan to boot which is seems to be a rarity for things that actually help with long term skin issues. My issues with eczema are only mild though, so if you suffer very badly from eczema, psoriasis or dermatitis then the severity of your condition vs mine might mean your experiences with these products are different. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this as a range that will solve all of your problems and make your ailments disappear (they didn’t cure mine and I’m also not a medic; always consult your GP and use their recommendations for serious conditions), but it may be worth a try and, if nothing else, they might be great gentle products that compliment any prescription treatments you use for your sensitive skin.

For me and my own dry and sensitive skin at least, I’ve definitely noticed a positive difference and will continue to use the face and body wash in particular as I’ve never had the pleasure of using an SLS-free, sensitive body wash before. The fact that it can double up as a face wash also makes it a perfect space-saver for travelling, and I fully intend to bring it with my on holiday! In addition to these three products, you can also buy Dry + Sensitive hand cream and Dry Scalp Treatment Shampoo and Conditioner, the latter of which I’ve decided I’d love to try out next since I also suffer from a dry and flaky scalp.

Have you tried any of Barefoot SOS’s products? What are your cruelty free recommendations for sensitive skin?

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the product was sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.