5 best: organic beauty products


It’s Organic Beauty Week so as I’m a fan of all things organic, here are a few of my favourite organic beauty products:Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 20.06.12

Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps

It’s a cult brand, with five generations of family business behind it. They’re Fairtrade, made with organic ingredients, untested on animals and packed in recycled plastic bottles. It’s proper old-school, no-frills, no-fuss gentle cleaning. How’s this for an impressively short ingredients list? ‘Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Organic Olive Oil, Natural Green Tea Fragrance, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Citric Acid, Tocopherol’ (the last is vitamin E).

Dr Bronner’s Magic Soaps 18-in-1 Hemp Green Tea Pure-Castile Soap – to give its full name – will clean your skin without drying it and, as the company says, ‘wash with a clean conscience’. Its plain printed packaging will also give you a lot to read: it’s crammed with the personal philosophy of company founder Emmanuel Bronner, ranging from a description of soap itself (‘one of humanity’s oldest and simplest products’) to advice on washing with minimal amounts of the product and hot water.

It’s billed as having 18 uses, and one is toothpaste. I don’t recommend this; I tasted a little in the interests of thorough research – and it tastes like soap. I refilled my hand-soap dispenser by the kitchen sink with this, topped up with a title water. My skin is quite sensitive and even organic cleaning products can leave my hands dry and tight. I put the rest of the bottle in the shower, where a tiny amount is enough to clean you thoroughly. You can also wash your hair with it.

£1.99 for 59ml, from the Dr Bronner website.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 19.46.55Organic Surge Moisture Boost Shampoo

This shampoo smells heavenly and leaves the hair soft, shiny and, of course, clean. Moisturising is delivered by olive and grape seed oils, and lemon peel extract and black pepper boost the shine. Good stuff – that’s why I included it in my organic shampoo round-up for Prima.

£6.95 for 250ml from Organic Surge.

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 20.08.09TanOrganic Self Tanning Oil

Frankly, I was dubious. I’ve tried both self-tanning products and dry oils before, and had difficulties with both: self tanning (like sun tanning, for me) resulted in patches and streaks; dry oil always felt too greasy. Both meant not putting your clothes on for some time!

However, this oil really does have a dry texture when applied. And, even with my slapdash application (with my bare hands; no mitt needed), it gave a gentle tanned glow. And where my hands had stroked it on more generously, the difference in shading looked pretty natural. A little goes a very long way, and there’s no smell.

Its organic ingredients include aloe vera, argan oil and borage oil.

It costs £24.99 for 100ml from Boots.
This product was supplied free of charge. 

Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 20.03.21Neal’s Yard Remedies Frankincense Nourishing Cream

Fragrant with the mossy, earthy tones of frankincense essential oil, this face cream is designed for mature skins. It’s rich and thick, but so easily absorbed.

£24.99 for 50ml from Neal’s Yard Remedies


Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 17.10.56Weleda Wild Rose Pampering Body Lotion

The scent of rose is intoxicating, one of the prettiest natural perfumes on the planet. So scenting your whole body with rich, rose-saturated lotion is truly pleasurable. And it’s not just pretty; the essential fatty acids in rose oil help smooth and plump the skin. This takes the everyday act of moisturising the skin to a sublime new level.

£19.95 for 200ml from Weleda

The five best… things I tried this week

Bingley five-rise locks

Bingley five-rise locks

British skyr: Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt-type dairy product which has recently hit our supermarket shelves. I first tasted it at a breakfast buffet in Iceland in 1990, and went back for more every morning. It’s like yogurt but has a higher protein content. This morning I ate Hesper Farm skyr – Britain’s first home-produced skyr: creamy, thick and tangy. I bought it from Town End farm shop, when we stopped off on a bike ride from Malham Cove to Gargrave.

Straw Poll beer: Brewed by Thwaites, this is a light ale with a very subtle hint of strawberry – nothing like traditional Belgian fruit beers (which I’m also very fond of). Supped after a long walk at a hillside pub in Foulridge, Lancashire it was very refreshing.

Leeds & Liverpool Canal: I’ve been narrowboating before but not on this canal. The stretch we covered included the above-mentioned Gargrave, five miles from the magically stunning Malham Cove, the impressive staircase of five locks at Bingley, Salts Mill gallery at Saltaire, Skipton Castle, Bolton Abbey.

Digital detox: Not my choice! However, the twisting, turning canal, sometimes high in the hills, sometimes sunk in the valleys, meant an elusive mobile phone signal, affecting our 3G, 4G and thus internet access. Very, very frustrating but in the end, very relaxing.

Memory foam bike saddle: I’ve been using the saddle that came with my bike, but storing my bike outdoors over the winter has caused deterioration. Then I was offered the chance to try the Selle Royal Classic Freeway Fit Foam saddle, £29.99 from Halfords. Initially mounting up near home I thought it felt harder and less squishy than I would have imagined. However, last week, on gravelly towpaths, rutted dirt tracks and potholed country roads, it’s proved its worth. Its solid malleability offers sound shockproofing against the cycling surface, and now I don’t want to ride on anything else!

See my five best… pubs on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

The five best… pubs on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Leeds & Liverpool Canal milepost

Leeds & Liverpool Canal milepost

Having just spent a fortnight narrowboating on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, I’ve found a few favourites along the way. Here they are, in no order whatsoever.

Beer Engine, Skipton
Open just over a year, this one-room micropub is simply but comfortably furnished, with custom-built cask racks behind the bar from which you can see the beer flowing along the pipes. It won CAMRA Pub of the Season and had a party to celebrate, which we were invited to, but missed due to an appointment with some locks. A warm welcome and a friendly clientele. And newspapers to read.


Narrow Boat, Skipton
Just around the corner from the Beer Engine. Set on a narrow cobbled street, leading to the canal basin, it has a pillared overhang outside, and a wooden interior, with canal-style decorations with a gallery upstairs. Lots of draught beer, Belgian fruit beers, and the sound of folk singing coming from upstairs.
Find out more: www.markettowntaverns.co.uk/the-narrow-boat

Mason’s Arms, Gargrave
There are oak beams and an open fire are inside this solid stone-built pub near the river Aire, apparently. I saw none of that as it was so hot I sat at a table outside across the road by a dry stone wall. Lovely pint of local cider and a fantastic lunch featuring a veggie chilli-filled Yorkshire pudding and a very imaginative selection of veg including purple mange-tout.
Find out more: www.masonsarmsgargrave.co.uk

Anchor Inn, Salterforth
Sometimes a warm, dry pub seems like heaven after a long, rainy day on the tiller or working the locks. The white-painted canalside Anchor appeared at the perfect time, and, even better, was serving dinner. And better still, something to suit a fussy vegetarian! The pub dates back to 1655 and is built partially underground – the cellar has impressive stalactites. And after dinner, just a 50-yard stroll back to where the boat was moored.
Find out more: www.facebook.com/anchorinn.salterforth

Green Chimney, Colne
Bare, painted brickwork, exposed-filament lights – and a bright green painted chimney in the middle of this café/bar/restaurant. Local food, local ales and live music. We ate well and although the halloumi on my chickpea burger was oddly tasteless, the best sweet potato chips I’ve ever had: crispy, not soggy. Bloody long way from the canal, though!
Find out more: twitter.com/thegreenchimney