Patchouli is B-E-A-U-T-Y for dry skin


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There was a time, four years ago, when I couldn’t stand the smell of patchouli, aka Pogostemon Cablin (the latin name!).

It’s now one of my favourite oils for my skincare, and a favourite aroma that I find really sweet, earthy and enriching.  I recently discovered it as if smelling it for the first time.

Take a strong, deep sniff, and you’ll find it a little sweet, a little spicy, a little woody, very rich and thoroughly earthy.  This is a wonderful “base” oil for grounding and nourishing; helping us to keep in touch with our physical self, and hence fabulous for a rich and indulgent night time treat for the skin. Continue reading

Step 2 to Beautiful Glowing Skin: Steam inhalation


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4 steps to beautiful glowing skin

Here’s the second step in our 4 easy steps to beautiful, glowing skin using natural products already found in your kitchen. Excellent for all skin types especially congested.

After you’ve exfoliated and hydrated using baking soda, lemon juice, honey and salt recommended in Part 1, it’s time for Step 2: unclogging your pores with an aromatic steam inhalation.

Before you gloss over at the thought of a home steam, I have to say: this is SO much more exciting than you might imagine, since it involves adding essential oils (clearly not something you might have randomly in the kitchen, as I suggested in the subtitle, but you can do this step just as easily without).

Immediately preceded by Step 1, your pores will be perfectly prepped for detoxification.

All you need to do next is:

Continue reading

King Arthur and The Witch


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Photo source: fan

This is an email forward with a fabulous moral.  Source unknown.

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a
neighbouring kingdom.  The monarch could have killed him but was moved
by Arthur’s youth and ideals.  So, the monarch offered him his
freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question.  Arthur
would have a year to figure out the answer and if after a year, he
still had no answer, he would be put to death.The question?...What do women really want?  Such a question would
perplex even the most knowledgeable man and to young Arthur, it seemed
an impossible query.  But, since it was better than death, he accepted
the monarch’s proposition to have an answer by year’s end.

Continue reading

4 Steps to Beautiful, Glowing Skin


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Photo by David Blaikie

Photo by David Blaikie

Easy steps for beautiful, glowing skin using natural products already found in your kitchen. Excellent for all skin types especially congested.

Ever wondered how to have beautiful skin without spending a fortune on expensive cosmetic skin care products?

Over the next four posts you’ll learn how to create a glow that usually only an airbrushing session can create!

There are four simple steps to beautiful skin that you can do at home, using everyday ingredients found in your kitchen.

To uncover your natural radiance you need to:

  1. Exfoliate
  2. Unclog
  3. Detox
  4. Nourish

Continue reading

Book Review: Driven to Extinction by Richard Pearson, PhD


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Concerned by the impacts if climate change on biodiversity, we learn about the disappearing Golden Toads of Costa Rica and Leaf-Tailed Geckos of Madagascar as Pearson guides us through the scientific methods used to assess the potential impact on our planet’s future.

We discover that the disappearance of frog and reptile species, the changing location of barnacle species, the distribution of fish and birds, and the dying Quiver tree are all the indications and irreversible effects of climate change.

Neither a catastrophist nor sceptic, Pearson concludes that while there is no debate on whether climate change is affecting natural ecosystems, it’s the future that divides opinion; will plant and animal species adapt in situ, change location, or become extinct?

As Pearson sheds light on divided interpretations of the data, it’s hard not to mourn the future loss of species, but we are left with a glimmer of hope: while change is inevitable, we can help chart the course for the future.

Get Rid of Cellulite or Die Trying


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get rid of cellulite
There are thousands of anti-cellulite creams on the market and hundreds more are launched every year.
The availability of so many brands claiming anti-cellulite capabilities only confirms one thing: there is no quick fix and no magic cure for cellulite.
Cellulite is a lifestyle problem and therefore making certain changes to your lifestyle is the most effective way to get rid of it.
Toxic chemicals are the biggest offenders; contained in many commercial anti-cellulite creams, they only add to the problem, as your body needs to flush toxins to get rid of the orange peel appearance of cellulite.
Ready made creams have made us lazy, but it’s time to get back in the driving seat. Continue reading

Delicious Recipe for Almond Milk


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Recipe for almond milk

Photo by HealthAliciousNess

Sick of regular dairy products, have lactose intolerance or just fancy a change?
Almond milk made from organic raw almonds makes a delicious and healthy milk alternative.
The recipe below is great for cereals, tea and coffee, baking and anything you’d use milk for.
I love adding it to Earl Grey tea, using it as a base for my favourite banana and kale smoothie, and adding it to porridge with cinnamon and maple syrup to make it really creamy! Continue reading

Why Do We Sleep?


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Why do we sleep?

Photo by Tambako the Jaguar on flickr

We all do it; birds do it; bees do it, and as the song goes, even fleas do it….
Although we spend over a third or more of our lives sleeping, we still have no concrete idea as to why.
Scientists have spent countless decades investigating the effects of sleep deprivation, sleeping disorders and cures for these disorders, such as insomnia, however the question of why we sleep is still one of the greatest mysteries. Continue reading

Was God the First GREAT Perfumer?

Ok, probably not.  The Egyptians definitely hold that crown, however God did show some talent in the area of perfumery.

As part of the Alternative MBA suggested by Chris Gillebeau in his book The Art of Non-Conformity, I’m reading The Bible.

Now, before you say: “What the….!!!”, wait just a minute!

It’s brilliant.

I’m only two books in, having finished Exodus late last night, and am drinking in every word. It’s filled with drama: sex, incest, husband sharing and, of course, lots of sin. Continue reading

Turned On Women Will Change the World


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Nicole Daedone Slow Sex Orgasm Meditation

Photo ©Timothy Archibald

Described by Vanity Fair as “the latest in a long line of female pioneers who’ve helped America shake its reputation as the Land of the Repressed,” Nicole Daedone is making waves in all the right places.

Founder of Onetaste, Orgasm Meditation (also known as “OMing”), and author of Slow Sex: The Art and Craft of the Female Orgasm, Nicole is taking on the onerous task of liberating our orgasm, for within it lies a fuller experience of life, deeper connection with our parters, and the key to changing the world – a notion supported by none other than the Dalai Lama.

A slow and meditative practice where a man strokes a woman on the upper left quadrant of her clitoris for 15 minutes, Tim Ferris has dubbed it “required education for every man on the planet.” Recently invited to speak at TED, Nicole’s work is hitting the mainstream.  While feedback is polarised, it’s the negative feedback that shows how far, as a society, we have to go in even discussing female orgasm.   (You can view the TED video at the end of this post).

I caught up with her earlier in the year, when Onetaste were preparing for the opening of the NYC hub.  She shared some insight on the practice of OM and how it feels to be in the driving seat of sexual liberation. Continue reading

How to Develop Your Perfume “Nose”


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Stephanie Holland Musings of an Aromastrategist

Photo by

Developing your “nose” for perfumery takes some some time, practice and dedication.

It may also involve flipping any previous knowledge of how to smell on its head; studying perfumery as an aromatherapist is changing my “smelling” perspective!

As an aromatherapist vetiver smells like “vetiver” and orange smells like “orange”.

As a perfumer vetiver smells like grass and wood, and orange smells like sunshine and happiness.

This is no wonder, as in aromatherapy, the aroma is secondary to the therapeutic benefits.  We create a blend with a specific goal in mind: to heal or soothe body, mind or soul.

In perfumery we might be trying to create the smell of the ocean in The Bahamas, or the forest in South Carolina.  We are seduced by the scent itself. Continue reading

Look After Those Marvellous Feet!


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Stephanie Holland Musings of an Aromastrategist

Photo supplied by Sunpower Yoga

Proper alignment of the feet is needed for strong energetic grounding, balancing and agility.

But, aside from the odd pedicure, how do you really look after your feet?

Good alignment is heavily reliant on excellent foot health, both structurally AND cosmetically.

By including your feet in your daily cleansing ritual and using essential oils to keep them looking, feeling and smelling great, you can reconnect with HAPPY and HEALTHY feet.

Your feet are important for movement, body health and in life in general; so it’s time to pay homage to the foundation of your temple! Continue reading

5 Simple Hangover Cures


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Stephanie Holland Musings of an Aromastrategist
Hangover cures are the holy grail.
The trick is to keep it simple by avoiding rich, fatty, sugary foods that encourage the liver to be sluggish. A Bacon and Egg McMuffin is a sure fire way to prolong the effects of temporary liver stagnation and that hungover feeling!

These 5 simple hangover cures can help flush the toxins from your liver and help to relieve that hungover feeling.

But first……..(a little more science…)

A hangover is your liver in turmoil!

The majority of alcohol has to be metabolised by the liver so the hungover feeling is your liver struggling to flush all those toxins through your system. Despite the abuse it can suffer as part of a modern urban lifestyle, your liver is a very clever organ and can renew itself almost entirely in only six weeks. It can be reduced by up to ninety percent and still be able to regenerate itself. It filters more than a liter of blood every minute to remove bacteria and toxins from circulation.

When your liver is struggling to detox more toxins than usual, you’ll experience hangovers that range from dull headache to the shakes.

Try the following 5 simple hangover cures to recharge your liver and flush out those toxins. Continue reading

Book Review: The Art of Mindful Gardening by Ark Redwood


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Stephanie Holland Musings of an Aromastrategist

“There is no separation between the garden and the gardener,” says Ark Redwood, a naturalist gardener, who introduces us to the art of being in the present moment.

In The Art of Mindful Gardening, we learn that we can be mindful during any garden task: planting, watering, composting and raking, as each is, in itself, a meditation that enables us to savour the simplicity and beauty of the moment.  Imagine yourself as the tiny insect on the leaf of a beautiful plant in A Plant Meditation, or simply practice mindful pottering after a busy day at work.

Join Ark as he pays homage to the energy of spring, the abundance of summer, the magic of autumn and the exhilaration of winter; as the unavoidable cycle of life unfolds and repeats.

At once a spiritual journey through the seasons, it is also a practical month-by-month guide to what needs to be done: composting in May and deadheading in July, and useful tips on slugs, mulching and copper tools.

For the avid gardener, this is a glorious tribute to your mindful art, and for the novice greenfingers, this is an exquisite introduction to the insight that: “This is a holistic universe, all is truly one.”

Eat Your Heart Out, Jimmy Choo!


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Stephanie Holland Musings of an Aromastrategist

Lady's Slipper Orchid

“Eureka” means: a cry of joy or satisfaction when one finds or discovers something.

That’s the moment I had when I cast my eye on the above beauty, also known as a “Lady’s Slipper”; it was clear why flowers have inspired hundreds of poems, literature, fashion, romance and, yes, even shoes!

Resembling a tiny slipper the size of my thumbnail, I thought of Jimmy Choo and wondered whether he and other inspired designers of shoes had ever cast their eyes on this orchid.

There’s definitely two schools of thought when it comes to flowers: “love” and “apathy”.

I remember when I was in the latter group; I was never interested in flowers as a child.

“You will be one day,” said my mother to my 7 year old self as she gazed at the zillionth field of poppies with reverie.

Like many children, I was certain that I would not, yet now I’m drawn to local botanical gardens like a bee to honey, enchanted and awed by the grandeur of the smallest of blooms.

But what is it about flowers that inspires, seduces and mesmerises?  That inspires colour palates, design and love poems? Continue reading

The Hypnotic Power of Smell and Why We Don’t Know More


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Aromachology and the power of smell

Photo by Dennis Wong

Ever wondered why that guy at work who irritates the cr*p out of you also makes you hot under the collar?  Or why the smell of brownies makes you salivate and feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

It’s only recently that the study of the behavioural impact of smells and aromas has been given a name: Aromachology.

And this next thing may surprise you: smell has been the lesser researched and, as a result, lesser understood of the senses.

But why? Continue reading

Laugh In the Face of Stretch Marks


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Essential oils for stretch marks during pregnancy

Photo by Thomas Pompernigg

It’s one of those things that expectant mothers consider frequently: how to avoid stretch marks.

Belly, bum, breasts and thighs, oh my!

A concern for expecting mothers of any age, some women get them and some women don’t.  The thing is, you won’t know till after your first pregnancy, so it’s hard to know whether you need to take preventative measures.

Either way, it’s good to keep your delicate belly skin nourished, and give baby a mini massage to boot, so treat yourself to a beautiful combination of essential oils and carrier oils to keep your belly, breasts and thighs hydrated and moisturised. Continue reading

Don’t Trifle With Cinnamon Bark CO2 – That Sh*t Burns!


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Cinnamon bark CO2 for perfumery

Photo from

Not to alarm you with sensational claims about the dangers of Cinnamon bark, but, seriously, I sustained a pretty painful burn the other day and it didn’t even come in contact with my skin.

It made me realise that:

  1. Our understanding is deepened by mistakes and accidents
  2. Our own experience takes the theory we glean from books one step further

Here’s how the incident unfolded:

  1. I’m sitting at my perfume lab, poised to study Cinnamon Bark C02, vial open in front of me.
  2. Reaching for a scent strip, I knock the vial over.
  3. I soak the spillage up with watercolour paper so that I can at least savour the fragrance for as long as possible.
  4. I place the scent strip between my teeth to avoid contamination with the kitchen surface, as I washed my hands (I know, Ayala, if you’re reading this, I know!).
  5. Within a few seconds I notice a tingling on my lips, mouth and cheeks.
  6. The tingling morphs into PAIN as I realise that my skin is *burning*.
  7. Holy cr*p!

Essential Oils for a Happy, Balanced Thyroid


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Essential oils for underactive thyroid

Essential oil of black pepper for an underactive thyroid

I have not a shadow of a doubt in my mind that you know someone with some kind of thyroid issue.

Whether under or over active, symptoms can be quite severe and make day to day life difficult to adjust to in the initial days and weeks.  3 close friends of mine likened their experience of it prior to diagnosis to absolute madness.  While they each chose to follow conventional allopathic treatments, I, ever the optimistic aromatherapist, want to let you know that a combination of carefully selected essential oils can be extremely effective for helping to treat the physical symptoms of thyroid disorders.

If that were all I was about to share with you, I don’t think I would have become an aromatherapist in the first place!  Their real USP (unique selling point) is their ability to create a positive state of mind and relieve stress.  Yup, that’s just one reason to explore this sensory healing experience.

In this post I’ve selected 5 effective essential oils that can be used for treating an under-active thyroid to give you an idea of how they can help (FYI there are dozens more out of the 300-odd we use in aromatherapy).

Continue reading

Obscuring Our Natural Scent Could be Paralysing a Primal Sense


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Snowflakes skittered in the wind, and Shams leaned forward to pull my shawl tighter.  For a passing moment, I stood frozen, inhaling his smell.  It was a mixture of sandalwood and soft amber with a faint, crisp tang underneath, like the smell of earth under the rain.

-Excerpt from The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi
by Elif Shafak, Penguin Books

What a marvellous description of Sham’s smell!  This book is a feast in itself, and as I savoured these words this morning, I began thinking about our natural scent and how rare it is to both reveal it, and smell it on others.

We spend a great deal of time and money masking our natural odours, often considering them antisocial, with mouthwash, deodorants, perfumes, and scented creams etc.  Even the hormones in our foods and the contraceptive pill may have a hand in obscuring our natural smell.  Aristotle himself said that pleasant odours contribute to the well-being of mankind, but if you consider that our natural scent is important for primal things such as sussing people out and finding a mate, could we be inadvertently paralysing one of our key senses?

In The Scented Ape: The Biology and Culture of Human Odour, Michael Stoddart says that our gut reaction to the people we meet has something to do with a subconscious awareness of the pheromones they produce.  Smell, whether overt or perceptible only at a subconscious level, has a huge impact on whether we like someone or not, and can even impact who we developfriendships, relationships and business partnerships with. Could this be the reason why divorce is so high and I am still single? Was my soulmate’s true scent masked by laundry detergent and his shower gel?!

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