Formula Botanica Review : Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation Course

Formula Botanica

Hi folks. Today I will give you a brief idea about the Diploma in Organic Skincare Course by the online formulation institute, Formula Botanica. Many of you who follow natural skincare bloggers might already have come across this institute, but for those who doesn’t know, let me tell you about it.

Formula Botanica

This is an accredited online organic skincare school based in UK. The courses they offer are self paced and they have students from all over the world. The courses include Certificate, Diploma and Advance Diploma in streams like skincare, haircare, cosmetic preservation etc, to name a few.

Diploma in Organic Skincare Formulation

This course is for beginners in formulation and is divided into 8 modules. Each module has two or three submodules. Apart from the course material, the website also provides a student librabry which has study resources and, an online classroom hosted in Facebook. This online classroom is where the students interact with other students and feature their products for suggestions. The course duration is 2 years and the final project has to be submitted within this time frame.

What does this course offer

Formula botanica provides a framework for us to get started, in the Diploma course. So don’t expect to be spoon fed on formulations. The course in itself is quite basic and simple. Each module needs to be unlocked by passing an online test of previous module. You get three attempts to pass this quiz. You can finish all these course material in no time. Each submodule has a basic formulation video, course notes, video notes and any additional info documents.

The real work starts when you start researching on ingredients and for mulations. Formula botanica facilitates the students to start exploring more on the topics. Google is the real guru here and the amount of information you research will be directly proportaional to the progress in the course.

The final test will be the only time you submit a formulation to the tutors and it will decide whether you pass the course and get the diploma certificate. The best students and their work will find a place in the Student Hall of Fame.

This course doesn’t give you the license to sell in shops and it doesn’t equip you to test the products yourself. It is all about how to approach natural skincare formulation, in a systematic manner.

Who should take this course:

If you are someone who is looking for DIY skincare recipes or want to take formulation as a hobby, I would suggest you check Youtube videos and blogs. There are so many recipes and information online that you can try successfully. You can also sign up for the Certificate courses offered by Formula Botanica or take up the course by School of Natural skincare.

But if you want to take it up as a profession you should definitely go for the course. Incase you are already a formualtor and would like to learn in depth, go for the Advanced diploma. But incase you like specifically to learn about product preservation, face mask formulation etc, they offer certificate courses.

Time, space and investment : These three factors are essential to successfully complete the course. Researching about ingredients and formulating, will require alot of time. Then you need to buy the raw materials and equipments, and as you know organic ingredients are expensive. Then you need to set up a small lab in your home and start your formulation experiments.

My experience with the course:

I went through many months of procastination before signing up for this course. I reached out to many students of Formula Botanica to get a better idea of the course. I have been into natural skincare for about 5 years now and I have been blogging for more than 3 years.  So for me, this feels like a natural progression. Having used natural skincare products of many many brands over the years, I know the existing gaps and I hope to fill them with high quality skincare products one day.

Since the course is self paced, I take it up over weekends mostly. Each student approaches the course differently, so there is no hard and fast way of learning. I have a full time job and family responsibilities. So I take it up mostly when I have enough time to spare.

Formulating a product is a tedious process. You end up wasting most of these expensive ingredients initially. A slight temperature change, measurement variation, pH variation can all affect the quality of the end product. Documenting all these observations is another task.

You can find my formulations on our Insta . I also share easy formulations with the blog subscribers.

So far the tutors have conducted two video live sessions. In these sessions we interact with other students, all over the world and share our views on certain ingredients, formulations or products.

Coming to starting a business, from what I understand getting a license is a costly affair. Some people go for it and some of these licensed formulators even demotivate other home based formulators from selling their products. So this path obviosuly comes with hurdles, but there is also a strong community that supports you when in need.

Some things I learned:

  • If a product is hydrous(containing water), preservation is essential for the safety of the consumer.
  • An unpreserved natural skincare product containing water content, pose safety issues to the user. Preservation is essential for product stability and shelf life.
  • The formulation process can alter the characteristics of ingredients. The benefits of ingredients might not be transferred to the end product. Hence the claims by skincare brands may not hold true for the end product, if the right formulation method, temperature requirements are not followed.
  • No skincare brand in the market is supposed to make claims of their products having healing effects.
  • These days most products, lists the ingredients not present in the product, to attract customers. ‘No parabens’, ‘No fragrance’ etc are common in Indian market. This is banned in EU, which has one of the most stringent laws on cosmetics. Brands should rather be transparant about the ingredients present in the product and as customers, we should read the label and avoid the ones that doesn’t display all ingredients.
  • A transparent brand claiming to be natural will disclose full ingredient list including the list of allergens in the Essential oils (if present in the stated proportions) and not just the active ingredients.
  • Essential oils are not to be messed with. They can do more harm than good, if used directly on skin and not within the dermal limits. This varies for each essential oil.
Now let me answer some questions you folks sent me in Insta about the course:
  • I did their sample class, didn’t find it intriguing. So is the course worth it.

The community feeling and the exposure to all the wonderful formulators around the world, is the best part of the course. As I said, the course material is pretty simple and straight forward. The video classes are going to be similar to the sample class. So it is upto you to decide, what you are looking for and choose accordingly.

  • Are ingredients and equipments easily available in India?

Again, it is upto you to decide what ingredients and equipments to work with. Basic ingredients used in the course material like oil, hydrosol, waxes etc are available in Amazon and with many other suppliers. Incase the ingredients you are looking for are not available, you can get it imported from some other place.

  • How is the level of diffculty in teaching method? Can someone with no experience in formulation actually formulate with this course?

As I mentioned, the course is very simple and apt for a beginner. Yes, this course is especially designed keeping beginners in mind.

Formulation is not an easy task. Many successful products in the market are a result of years of experiments and lab tests. The consumer safety should be given utmost priority. Your interest, patience and effort is what matters to successfully complete the course.

Incase you have any further doubts, please comment below and I shall reply soon.

Millet in diet : Ragi Idli and Foxtail millet recipes

Millet is not a staple diet in Kerala as much it is in Karnataka. The only millet I was familiar with before moving to Karnataka, was Ragi. Because Ragi is a popular baby food. So after moving here, I was quite surprised to know the different ways millet varieties can be added to diet.

Ayurveda

Millet is a grass variety with small seeds. Millet is resilient to infertile soil, droughts and needs minimum care in cultivation. According to Ayurveda millet is light, sweet and dry grain. It balances Kapha but can increase Vata and Pitta in excess. So it is advised to soak the millet in water and cook with cumin and coriander to make it suitable for all Doshas.

Millet is particularly high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. Ragi, or finger millet is the richest in calcium, with about 10 times that of rice or wheat. In general, millets are fairly high on the Glycemic Index (GI) so it is best prepared with a little high quality oil, like pure desi ghee, or with additional high fiber foods, to slow the GI of the whole dish.

NOTE :
If you have Thyroid problems it is better to restrict the Millet intake. Millet is a great alternative to rice for diabetes patients. But incase you have no such condition, millet being a dry crop can increase the Vata and dry out your body. So it is advisable to use it in moderation in diet and also to include it as millet flour, as it is easier to digest by the body.

According to Ayurveda your food should be seasonal and local. So if you are used to eating rice, don’t switch to millet immediately. Especially if it is not locally grown.

Foxtail Millet:

My first attempt in cooking with Millet was with Foxtail variety. It is similar to quinoa in that, it gets fluffy one it absorbs hot water.

Soak the millet in water for an hour. Then add it to boiling water and let it sit for 15-20min. The millet will drink up the water and expand. Use a fork to fluff it and this can be used to prepare dishes like salads and upma. For dishes like Kichdi, Pongal and Payasam you can add the soaked millet with other ingredients in a pressure cooker and cook it.

Foxtail millet doesn’t have any specific taste. So the taste depends on the ingredients you use for the dish.

Ragi:

Finger millet, ragi or panja pullu is my current favorite. The sprouted ragi glour powder with jaggery is my current go to beverage. I thought it would have the flour taste but surprisingly it has a nutty flavour and makes a great drink.

I wanted to try making dosa batter with ragi. So I soaked the whole grains overnight with urad dal and tried grinding it in grinder, like I normally do with rice dosa. Unfortunately, the ragi didn’t grind at all with the Urad dal. So I transferred it to the mixer jar and tried grinding it in mixie. That worked, eventhough it took a while to get it a smooth paste.

So I would advice you to grind urad dal and mix it with Ragi Powder before leaving it to ferment.

Anyway the dosa and idlis turned out great. Especially the idlis were soft and fluffy.

So that’s it on millet. I will add more recipes in the insta page as and when I try new dishes with it. Hope you liked the post.

 

Korean Skincare Products : The textures in skincare

Korean skincare products are quite different from our Indian skincare products interms of the ingredients and texture. More and more skincare brands across the world, are trying to implement similar formulations in their product line owing to the popularity of Korean skincare.

Korean Skincare Products:

We are familiar with creams, oils, gels, balms and powders and all these have different textures and penetration capabilities on skin. Toners are the lightest of all as they are herbal waters and balms are at the other end of the spectrum.

But when it comes to Korean skincare product texture and its feel on skin is equally given importance. Serums (not just oil based ones), ampoules, essences and sheetmasks come into picture and even within these, the textures differ greatly from product to product. Also chemical exfoliation is preferred over physical exfolication and the AHAs, BHAs and PHAs are loved by most. Terms like glass skin and honey skin came about with the nourished, hydrated, smooth and supple skin which gives a dewy look, achieved with the right products and commited routine.

Textures in Korean Skincare:

Korean skincare gives immense importance to hydration. The layering of products is aimed at retaining the moisture for longer periods, which would eventually help in plumping up the skin and thereby delaying the signs of ageing. The lighter product texture makes it ideal for layering multiple times based on skin type and needs.

A little goes a long way with these products. A drop or two is enough for the face. Also I prefer emulsion and products with water instead of balms. Especially because balms even though concentrated, forms an occulsive layer on skin to prevent lose of moisture but it doesn’t provide any hydration. So if your skin is already dry, it will make it overly parched and oily.

Since this post is on textures, I am not going for a detailed review of these products. I am only including the products I have tried and liked.

Slimy : CosRX Advanced Snail Mucin Power Essence

This essence has a texture similar to aloe extract, semi liquid, viscous and is somewhat slimy on touch. Eventhough it has 96% snail mucin as the major ingredient, it is not sticky on skin but takes a little time to get absorbed completely. No color or fragrance.  Snail mucin is known to heal acne, pigmentation, scars and marks and moisturize the skin well.

Watery : Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence

Unlike CosRX snail mucin essence, this one is watery. No color or fragrance and is extremely light (just like water). If not for its efficacy, the texture would have been a let down for the price. What makes this product popular is the high percentage (93%)of naturally fermented ingredients. It is like a skin tonic.

Watery gel like Emulsion : Skin Food Yuja Water Serum

I don’t even know the right words to explaing these textures. When I say gel, you might imagine something like aloe gel, which is not the case.

This serum is not as watery as Neogen essence, not slimy as CosRX essence but not as thick as a lotion either. It is light emulsion with no oiliness and has organic Yuja (a citrus fruit) extract as the major ingredient.

Light serum : CosRX Triple C Lightning Liquid

This antioxidant rich serum contains 20.5% pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and 72% black chokeberry. This serum is lighter than water, in the sense that it gets absorbed as soon as it is applied. The texture is so light that it just have to be pushed lightly to skin as it won’t remain in skin periphery to massage in. Also it has a faint ascorbic acid smell. This is a cult product as it has fresh Vit C from natural ingredients as well as pure vit c which helps with pigmentation and full skin. 

Apart from these, even the sheet masks comes in different textures. Some are gel like and wobbly, some are like fabrics drenched in essence, some have dispersed ingredient particles in it and so on.  Many of the Korean and Japanese sunscreens also have a light milky gel like texture unlike the common ones that leave oilines or white cast on the skin

So that’s it for this post. Hope you liked it.

Let me know what else you would like to know about Korean skincare regime.

My first tattoo experience

In case you are someone who is planning to get a tattoo done or contemplating on it, do read this blog post to know my experience and suggestions.

The story:

I got a tattoo done recently. For someone like me, who doesn’t even visit a salon for shaping eyebrows(owing to the pain of course), getting a tattoo done is supposed to be a well thought out decision. But to be frank, it was quite impulsive.

I love body art and I have always been fascinated by Theyyam, Kathakali and similar art forms in which face painting and body painting plays a prominent role. But in my early adult life I never contemplated on getting any thing permanently drawn on me.

Image courtesy: Google

How I found the artist:

A graphic designer I follow in insta, posted about her new tattoo and the tattoo artist was Sahana. That’s how I came across Sahanatattoos and I loved her drawing style.

I contacted her and came to know that she is in Mumbai. Also she was visiting Bangalore soon for a guest spot. Even then, I did not think I was going to get something immediately. If at all I got a tattoo in the future, I thought I would get it done by Sahana. After few days, she messaged that if I am still interested,  she can draw for me. So I gave her an abstract on what I needed and we discussed it over chat.

Tip: Wear comfortable and loose clothes on the day, so that it wouldn’t rub against the skin and cause irritation. Have a good meal before you start. Keep a bottle of water with you.

Design decision:

My concept of a tattoo was always something small, minimalist and simple. But the essence of the concept I gave, was not something that could be captured in a small and simple design.  I took around an hour to think about it and select one of the two final designs.

I feel that incase you are seeing the design for the first time on the day of tattooing, it is really important to take the time to understand if you are ready for it. Especially if it is a big tattoo, all the more reason to take it slow.

Always go for a unique tattoo designs, something designed just for you, even if it is a simple and small design. If you don’t have any unique ideas, ask the artist to create a new design by taking inspiration from the favorite designs you have come across.

Tattoo
Sahana at work

*Once she started tattooing the outline

The folks at Sculp studio seemed as happy as Sahana that I chose this design instead of the other options.

In total it took around 6 hours for the entire process (It took around 3 hours for deciding the design, resizing the design based on placement and adding details) and many customers came and got small tattoos done with the artists at Sculp studio, in the meantime. I was at ease throughout the process. I spent the time talking to my husband who was there with me throughout the process and watching funny youtube videos when things got real 😛 .

Cleaning the canvas

Once the tattoo was completed, Sahana cleaned it up with a foam cleanser, applied a moisturizing balm and covered it well with a plastic film. There was left over ink over the skin which I cleaned up the next day using a mild cleanser.

Girl with a girl tattoo:

Taken on the next day
Love the details

Sahana incorporated all the details I asked for, in the design. The redness is quite visible in these pics. I shall update new pics once it has healed.

I am very happy with the experience and I like to believe that the universe conspired to make this happen in the best possible way.

Some final thoughts:

People get tattooed for different reasons. Some folks think it is cool, some might want it for emotional reasons or just for the beauty of it. Be very clear about why you want to get one and then it would be easy to choose what you want to get. This is going to be a part of you for the rest of your life and hence is a big commitment.

If you have any questions, do comment below.

My top book picks for 2018

If you love reading and is looking for book suggestions, here are my top 3 favorite books from 2018.

These three books portray strong female characters and are extremely gripping, even though they belong to three different genres.

  • Becoming by Michelle Obama

This is a best seller for good reason. Michelle Obama candidly captures her life before and after becoming the First Lady of USA. I am not always a fan of biographies or autobiographies, because of the matter of fact approach most authors take. But this was a great read as Michelle Obama portrays her life honestly and I felt her feelings relatable. This would be a book that will appeal to people of all ages and everyone will have some good take away from this. I felt assured about many aspects in life after reading this and felt a sense of belonging to the universal sisterhood.

  • Night Film by Marisha Pessl

I usually get zoned out among the pages of long reads, but this was an exception. If a book of nearly 600 pages keeps you hooked till the end, I would say it is a masterpiece. It is haunting, suspenseful and has an eerie air to it for the most part. A different plot from what the usual thrillers is not the only element that makes this book interesting, but also the amount of details in the form of photographs and paper clips the author has added that makes this experience almost realistic. I got a second hand (but looks quite new) copy of this book from amazon and it came at a much cheaper rate. If you liked Gone Girl, you will like this for sure.

  • Jasmine Days by Benyamin

Aadu Jeevitham(Malayalam) or Goat days by Benyamin is a book that my grandfather gifted a younger me and it was a great emotional read. When I came across Jasmine Days at Blossom Book House at Church Street, I am quite eager to get hold of the original Malayalam book. My husband gifted me the same for my birthday and it was a double surprise as it came as a pack of two books.

One of the books is the story of Middle Eastern life through the eyes of a Pakistani girl, Sameera, who works as a radio jockey. As per the author, this book is a translation of the original Arabic book written by Sameera, that came to his possession through another person. This book changed my perception of the life of immigrants and the different Islamic sub castes in the country, altogether. The next book is the story of how Sameera’s book came into possession of the person, whose story Benyamin has ghost written. I read both the books while vacationing at Wayanad and it has been a memorable read.

Here is a wonderfulreview of this book that will give you a better insight on it:

https://scroll.in/article/893545/with-his-new-novel-jasmine-days-benyamin-once-again-skilfully-presents-fiction-as-fact

Winter skin care

The climate is chilly and dry. Our skin and hair tend to get really affected by the change in climate. I have previously written a post on winter skin care regime in 2016  but I should say the only product I still use from the stash is the burt’s bees lip balm.

My skincare regime has evolved over these two years and I am more inclined towards the Korean skin care method of layering products on skin, than using heavy products on skin.

So here are some products I have been using for quite sometime now and the only difference I would make for the Winter, is to layer it more.

  • Cleanser : Washed ghee(click for review)
  • Toner : Chamomile and Roman Witch Hazel mist from Indulgeo essentials.

Continue reading “Winter skin care”

Ecofriendly, safe baby and toddler care products

A mom knows what is best for her kid and I feel it’s not a good practice to give unsolicited advice in this matter. Many of you from my insta family has asked me to write about baby care products and so even though I have not much personal experience with this, I shall list out some helpful products that I came across in my research.  This is an assorted list of all things that are helpful for parents. Also these might make great gifts.

Kolkol Ergonomic Baby Carriers:

Let me quote the brand:

Ergonomic baby carriers let you carry your baby in a position similar to how you would hold them in your arms. This means the utmost comfort for you and your baby. It promotes bonding and helps breastfeed anywhere. It helps the parent handle everyday chores while taking care of the baby. There are many studies that show carried babies sleep, feed and grow better, and significantly cry lesser.

And with Kolkol you can carry your babies hands free. Their ring sling cloth carriers looks very simple and comfy for the babies and the buckle carriers can be used for toddlers.

Also their ring slings are on sale now.

Check them out : Kolkol

Cloth Diaper:

If you are someone who is conscious of the environment and would like to reduce the non-biodegradable waste generated from household, you can checkout this alternative to regular baby diaper.

In India there are many brands selling cloth diapers : Bumberry, Easyfeel, Superbottoms, Bumpadum to name a few.

Also Qtrove has a Bath and Health section for babies and many reusable cloth diapers from some of the above mentioned brands are featured here.

You can also join this FB group called Clothdiaperingindia, to get answers for your queries.

Safe wooden toys:

PC: Varnam Craft Collective

Majority of the toddler toys in the market are made from plastic. In a matter of months most of these toys will end up in waste bins and ultimately in land fills. Also many of these toys are coated with toxic paints including lead and can be harmful for kids. So why not switch to eco-friendly ones. I am listing down some options you can look into.

  1. Varnam Craft Collective  : Varnam brings a modern twist to the traditional Channapatna toy craft. They also have a variety of home decor and accessories collection that looks as good as showpiece items. They have two stores in Bangalore and they can be spotted in exhibitions as well. I have come across their stalls many times in exhibitions and they even have some quirky printed kids wewar in their collection.
  2. Shumee : This brand was started by the mom, Meeta to fill the gap of not having trust worthy safe toys in India. Their site also features Children’s books.
  3. Onlywood : An Indian brand that claims to make toys that are safe with no sharp edges, decorated with vegetable colors that is NON-TOXIC and LEAD FREE.
  4. Funwoodgames : Their toys are made from ivory wood and they support Indian cottage industries and rural artists. This brand offers free home delivery as well.

Cleansing and nourishing products for kids:

Eventhough there are many natural and ethical brands in India selling baby care products, do understand that natural products can also cause adverse reactions on skin, if the ingredient doesn’t suit your babies skin type. So my suggestion would be:

  1. Use minimal to no products on your baby. Regular oil bathing should be enough for the baby’s skin.
  2. If you do want to use any soap/cream/powder on your baby, either seek advice from the doctor or make sure you are buying from a trusted brand.
  3. All the trusted natural skin care formulators are always open for clearing any doubts. So talk to them and go as per their expert suggestions.
  4. Choose products with minimal ingredients with no synthetic colorants or fragrance.

I have only included very few trusted brands here. All these brands are 100% transparent about the ingredients and you can hence choose the products that would suit your toddler.

Krya : I have reviewed many Krya skincare products before and they are a brand completely based on Ayurveda (in its truest sense and not like brands that claim to be ayurvedic for namesake). They have separate line of products for babies and toddlers. Even separate cleansing powders for boys and girls. They have added elaborate description of everything you need to know here.

For toddlers they have anti lice products as well. Find the details of toddler care products here.

Juicy Chemistry : A regular reader of my blog will be familiar with almost all the products of JC so far. So this certified organic brand also has products for kids. I gifted the baby shampoo, soap and diaper balm from this range to my baby niece. I wanted to buy the mosquito repellent cream as well but on checking with the brand, they did not recommended it for babies. Check out their kids range here.

MamaEarth : This brand caters products for Mamas, Papas and babies. How cool is that? They are the first MadeSafe Certified Brand in Asia and the products undergoes dermatological tests. Some of the interesting products are  natural toothpaste, teas for expecting moms and organic bamboo based baby wipes. They do use a synthetic but safe preservative in their product. You can check out their website.

Toddler fashion:

Kids clothes from most brands are more expensive than adult clothes these days 🙁 . In our family we love using pre-owned clothes for babies and toddlers. Aunts and cousins circulate the clothes which are in good condition, to the next generation. Kids grow out of their clothes very fast and I feel these sustainable practices should be encouraged. All my clothes as a kid was stitched by my mom from cloth scrapes and were really beautiful. No she did not do any stitching before or after that. I guess kids clothes are relatively easy to stitch.

But incase you are looking forward to twinning with your kid on a special occasion, The Khadi Cult and Indieproject offers some colorful, quirky prints.

Read and grow:

I just had to write about books even though it is not exactly in context with this blog post. My love for books happened because of my grandpa. He used to take me religiously to kids library and then to public library as my reading matured. He would sign up for plans from DC books. On paying a small amount every month, we can take books for double the total amount at the end of the year. These days many of us live away from family and there might not be a grandpa around. But parents should find time to read to the kids and later introduce them to amazing books.

The Irrelevant Project:

I need a separate blog post to write about the amazing work, this awesome group of people does. They simply aim at bringing the stereotypes and biases surrounding gender/class/caste/religion etc, to light. Sometimes our opinions are strongly based on prejudices that are imbibed in us from our childhood and we don’t even realize it most of the time.

PC: The Irrelevant Project

Currently they have 5 books in store that are for ages 6 and above (I say 6 and ‘above’ because even though these are illustrated and written for easy understanding of children, the topics they talk about are relevant, current and applicable to all age groups.)

The books cover topics like body positivity, gender stereotypes, diversity, bullying and consent to name a few.

The books are available in Amazon.

PC: The Irrelevant Project

You should definitely follow their Insta account. The posts explains schema, gendered language, priming etc in a very simple and easy to understand manner.

Public Libraries:

Do take your kids to old book shops, public libraries or Just books atleast once or twice every month. It would help them to get to know the book loving community around and also develop reading into a habit than a hobby.

So that’s all for now. Let me know if you liked this post and found it helpful. Also do comment your go to brands for kids, so that it is helpful for others as well.

Insta shopping : 6 desi brands redefining Indian fashion

Indian textiles is rich in beautiful printing and weaving techniques like block/screen prints, ajrakh, kalamkari, tie and die, ikkat and many more. Many of these has influence from other cultures and geographies. But mostly when we think about these, we tend to lean towards ethnic wear like salwars and saris. But here is a list of popular Insta desi brands, that has redefined Indian fashion while staying strong to the roots.

Some tips to keep in mind before you ‘insta shop’:

  1. Make sure the brand is authentic : Check out the reviews in google or see if they have a website. Look out for customer ratings or comments under the product. Many instagram sellers just posts the pics from other sellers and sells bad quality products. So be careful.
  2. Chat with the brand people : All these brands are run by women entepreneurs themselves and they are always happy to reply to your doubts and needs. So if you want customizations done or if you are not sure of what to get, or need to know about the return policy, you can always reach out to them.
  3. Look out for a sale : Especially for clothing and jewelry, I eye my favorites and wait till a sale comes around the corner, to purchase them. You save a lot (really alot) and wouldn’t even have to pay the shipping charge most of the time.
  4. Buy from ethical brands: I am always looking out for brands that not only claims to be ethical in production but that sources their raw materials ethically as well. Many brands works in empowering women in rural areas. And it feels good to know that when you buy from them, you are also encouraging their efforts.
  5. Be respectful: Many of these brands are owned woman entepreneurs, passionate about their art and work. These clothes are not like the mass produced ones you buy from big brands, but are lovingly handcrafted. Many of them even made from natural fibres and dyes, handprinted painstakingly to achieve the precision.
  6. Payment: Almost all the brands I have bought from accepts only bank transfer, with a few exceptions who accepts paytm as well. So netbanking is the best mode of payment and make sure you correctly add the bank details of the seller, to avoid any issues with payment.

Iam not a fashion blogger, and these are mostly mobile clicks from my travel. Some of you might be familiar with these pics, as I have posted all these pics in my Insta handle.

What makes these labels special is that, these are all founded by strong passionate women, who thinks out of the box and paves their own path.

The Khadi cult

Oh this is my favourite of the lot.  This label is owned by Priyanshi Jariwala, aka theroundwoman, who is super cute and friendly.

 The Khadi Cult endorses the idea of being a ” KHADI- VADI” but in a voguish way.

You can also purchase from their website. I love the latest prints in their summer collection. Incase you like a print, you can get it customized in any design you want as well.

Udaipur shopping : In the wonderland of wooden curios

Who knew that prints in Khadi could be so cool and quirky.

Vipoojitha

Do you spot the mini white elephants?

This is a home based clothing brand by, Pooja based in Kerala. The clothes are simple, beautiful and very comfortable. Also super affordable. I usually ask her for fabrics in stock and get them customized.

Matching matching

Rivaaj Clothing

A Jaipur based brand that sells beautiful block printed dresses.

They are rightly priced, compared to many of the mediocre but highly expensive brands out there in the market today, especially for handblock prints. But customizations are not available.

 

 Okhai.org

Okhai is an initiative by Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD) for empoweing rural and semi-urban women and rural artisans across India.

Mix and match

 Okhai’s mission is to encourage women from less privileged backgrounds to acquire new skills; to give them the self-confidence and self-esteem required to earn by their own industry and initiative; and to enable them to carry this newly discovered skill and confidence into the wider world.

Their website has a huge collection of apparels for men, women and also homedecor items and accesories. All their attires are made for the modern women, with strong roots in tradition. Their kurtas are smart, flared, elegant and perfect with pockets.

Mogra Designs

I never thought I could afford one of their pieces but then again, they had a huge sale before they took a break last year.

The fabric is soft and the dress is very light, flared and comfortable. The the best things is it has pockets.

Margazhi Designs

I am not a sari lover and I don’t think I will ever get the draping right, but I couldn’t resist buying this piece from Margazhi designs.

The beautiful owner Madhulika, wears them with such elegance and poise. It’s a madurai cotton sari and Iam planning to turn it into a dress later.

If you love saris, especially traditional woven ones, this is the handle to follow.

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This has been the most requested post and many of you has been asking about my attires posted in Insta. Do subscribe and comment below and let me know if this post was interesting. Depending on that I will make a post on more brands.

Cool tips for the summer

Summer is my favourite season. Nature is bright and colorful and it brings delicious seasonal fruits like mangoes, jackfruit and the clothes come out crisp and warm after drying. On the downside, it is extremely humid and our skin is prone to damage easily during summers.

You know the usual drill of keeping hydrated and applying sunscreen. So here are some other tips to come out of this summer all refreshed :

1. Make the regular water interesting

Noone has to force us to keep hydrated in summer because we feel thirsty all the time. But you can make it much tastier and refreshing by adding a spring of mint, basil seeds or a dash of lime to a bottle of water. This will make it interesting for kids as well.

Refreshing hydration

Easy Fruit Punch:

Cut some seasonal fruits like watermelon and pineapple into thin tiny pieces. Soak some poppy/basil seeds in water and let it puff up. You can add this to your regular lime juice or to a mix of lime and pineapple juice and it will taste sooo good.

A great welcome drink for guests

2. Face mist to hydrate and protect your skin

A spritz of cool face mist helps in calming irritated and sensitive skin and protects it from sun damage.

Steam distilled rose, lavender, aloe, vetiver, orange blossom waters can be refrigerated and sprayed on skin frequently throughout the day to wake up and cool tired/hot skin.

3. Use natural deodorant instead of anti perspirants

We tend to sweat a lot during summers and everyone usually opts for anti perspirants. The ingredients in it like aluminium compounds, clogs the pores of sweat glands and prevents sweating. This is quite harmful, as sweating is a natural cooling mechanism and it is a way of eliminating toxins from the body.

A little goes a long way

4. Multi purpose natural skincare

It is better to keep skincare simple and basic on summers. Aloevera gel is a versatile skincare product that can be used as a moisturizer, face mask, hair conditioner and after sun gel to prevent sunburn.

Click on image for the post

Avoid claybased masks that dehydrate and heat up the skin.

5. Eat your water and drink your food

Include more seasonal fruits in your diet, especially the ones with high water content. Also have light and easy to digest home made smoothies, salads and soups including more vegetables in the diet.

Eat the greens

6. Wear clothes made of natural fibres

Clothes made of cotton, linen, jute etc are apt for summer and will let your skin breathe underneath.

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A complete guide to India’s truly natural skincare brands – 1

Many of you must be interested in switching to natural/organic skincare and beauty products, but could be hesitant. One reason is that, the popular ones we all know of are mostly luxury brands (like Forest Essentials & Kama Ayurveda), which are obviously very expensive. Also sometimes people blindly buys products from brands claiming to be natural/organic, when in reality they might just have a very small percentage of natural ingredients and thereby end up having a bad experience. Sometimes even the most popular brands we know hides majority of their ingredients under the name ‘base’, eg: Biotique.

Handmade natural skincare products are safe and are multitasking ones. For eg: a handmade soap made with natural ingredients can be used as a hair, body and face cleanser.  Would you dare to use your shampoo as a face cleanser otherwise?

There are many Indian natural skincare brands that sells quality products at affordable prices. These brands are transparent about the ingredients used and gives all the ingredient info in the label. Here is the list of few such natural Indian skincare brands, that I have already introduced you through the different posts.

1. Juicy Chemistry

The first time I tried JC products was three years back when they had just the fb handle and some amazing products. Now they have grown to be a very popular organic certified brand with a store in Coimbatore and products extensively available through online sites.

The brand is started by a husband wife duo, Pritesh and Megha Asher. The products are pure and made of high quality ingredients and has 0% chemicals/preservatives. All their products smell amazing because of the exquisite combination of essential oils. So eventhough you might feel this is not very pocket friendly, let me tell you, it is worth the price.

Products I recommend:  Body scrubs, body butters, soaps, face mists.

Read my reviews :

Juicy Chemistry citrus and sage foot scrub

Decadent body scrubs for all skin types

Juicy Chemistry Rose Sandalwood Mask

Juicy Chemistry Hazelnut & Vanilla Latte Soap

My favorites and not so favorites from Juicy Chemistry

Spicy Apple Pie anyone???

Juicy Chemistry : Choco-Vanila Body Butter – Now discontinued

2. Gia bath and body works

This is the first natural skincare brand I tried. I wouldn’t call all products completely natural as some of them contains fragrances and safe food colors. The brand is run by Gayatri based on Mumbai. She takes into account customer suggestions and even customizes perfumes. Her soaps are a work of art and looks edible. The fragrances are so good that your bathroom will smell amazing.

Products I recommend: Chocolate creme silk soap, cup cake soaps, oats based face cleansers in various flavours.

Read my reviews :

Pomegranate facial cleanser from Gia 

Daily cleansing method for soft and glowing skin

A divine chocolate soap you will fall in love with

Butter Cream Whipped Soaps

My favorite hair cleanser from Gia

Mintensity Foot soak
3. Zofla

This is one of my recent finds. I have used just one product from this brand, which is the rose water face mist. Unlike many commonly available brands like Dabur that sells chemical solution in the name of rose water (check out the ingredient list next time you feel like buying this : Aqua, Fragrance, Rose Oil, Propylene Glycol, Propyl Paraben, Methyl Paraben, Bronopol.), this rose water is made by steam distillation of organic Kannauj rose petals.

The product comes in a plastic spray bottle and can be just sprayed on to your skin for a boost of hydration, freshness and can be also used to mix your face packs or to calm skin inflammations. I bought this from amazon and it costs only 160Rs for 100ml.
4. Greenberry Organics

Started by a Mom-son duo, this brand is the first ECOCERT certified brand in India. I have used their most popular product, MUDASH 3 In 1 Face Mask, Scrub and Cleanser. The particles are a bit too gritty and hence suitable best as a body scrub. The brand also offers many more skin, body and hair care products.

Read myreview : Best Skincare Finds : Multitasking products for all skin types

5. Blend It Raw Apothecary

Incase you wish to whip up your own skincare recipes or if you are an essential oil junkie, this is the best brand to buy all the flower powders, clays, oils, face mists and what not. I would always recommend getting the ingredients and making products like face mask, scrub, lipbalms, body butters on your own; because then you really know what goes into the product and also these are much cost effective but equally good. The brand is the brain child of my fellow blogger and skincare enthusiast Aarushi, based in Delhi.

Read my review : Dandruff free silky hair and soft supple skin with simple DIY skincare recipes
6. Krya

With roots strongly based on Ayurveda, Krya adhers strictly to the age old textual methods of product preparation. This is a lifestyle brand and apart from skin and hair care products, this brand has baby care and home care products as well that are 100% herbal, vegan & cruelty-free.

Preethi Sukumaran, one of the founders, always finds time to respond to customer queries. She prescribes a holistic approach where she suggests changes to lifestyle and food habits. She also posts videos in the Krya blog addressing the lifestyle issues of urban life and ayurvedic way of living.

Products I recommend: Hair oil and hair wash powder, hair color, detergent.

Read my review: 

Summer hair care with natural hair wash powders : Featuring Krya and JivaVrksa

All natural and safe home care products
7. Burst of Happyness

Baed on Pune and run by Shreya Sharan Pawar, this brand was started as a result of her quest to find remedy to the allergies brought about by chemical based skincare products. The brand offers vegan soaps, shampoo bars, serums and many more body care products.

Product I recommend: Natural deodorants in lavender and rose scents.

Read my review: All natural and vegan deodorant
8. Cape Of Good Hope

Manisha creates beautiful art in soaps. Her soaps looks so pretty and smells amazing as well. The last product she sent me was a geode soap customized with ingredients that are harmonious with my zodiac. She also customizes products based on customer needs.

Products I recommend: Let Manisha know your skin concerns and leave the rest to her. My favorites are the Rose wine scrub and Green tea soap.

Read my reviews:

CGH Pepper soap review and a little surprise

Take time to smell the roses

Teas Please from Cape of Good soap

Cape of Good Soap : Rosewood and Mint soap

9. Junaili

Can a product so simple and pure that it is a raw material in itself, be as effective as the skin care concoctions with many exotic ingredients?

Junaili carries the purity of the Uttarakhand mountains and mist. This himalayan apothecary run by a family, uses just one raw material : Apricot.

The cold pressed apricot oil is customized into hair, face and body oils and the kernals are processed into scrubs.

Read my review: http://flavoursofbeauty.com/junaili-apricot-body-scrub-simple-and-pure/
10. Ancient Ayurveda

This Kerala based brand works with Prajwala, the world’s largest anti-human-trafficking shelter based in India, to empower women. Wood ash soaps are their specialty and these soaps oozes of ayurvedic tailas. The soaps are so soft and melts easily.

Read my review: Ancient Ayurveda Woodash Soaps

11. Amara Organix

This Chennai based brand is by the lovely lady, Mehar. You name it and they have it, a wide range of skin care, bath and body products and exotic soaps that caters to all kinds of skin care needs.

Recommended: Handmade soaps,  Brightening Face mask

Read my review: Moisturizers and face masks curated for summers : Introducing The Skin Pantry and Amara Organix

Hope you liked this post. I have not included any luxury brands in this feature. I will be consolidating more products and introduce you to more authentic brands in the upcoming posts.

Comment below about your favorite natural skincare brands and the recommended products.