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the merionwen blog

It is here that you will find all my thoughts, findings and musings on all things skincare related. I shall be adding hints and tips on keeping your skin in tip top condition. I shall share with you the findings of further research into natural skincare. I will post my thoughts and feelings on the ethics of the products and the skincare industry as I find it. I shall entertain you with my adventures in the Merionwen lab and now and again I shall even share with you the odd recipe or two.



'ol mother hubbard

Category: merionwen's musings

*Drum roll*

Well, the shop is in place.

It has been a mammoth task for the techie team and indeed myself. There was much cursing, muttering and swearing when certain aspects didn't go according to plan.

There are only so many times you can use words like luxurious, sumptuous and soothing before they seem to be the only words that will come out of your mouth.

Shipping is a veritable minefield of complications regarding size v's weights. But we want to make sure you get the best price possible while ensuring you products arrive in top condition.

The upshot of all of this is that the shelves remain a little bare - for now.

In time they will overflow with Merionwen goodies. However, for the fist few days they will have to sit bare. I am attempting to put up new products daily.

We also need to add pictures of the products.

I'm very lucky in that The barefooted one is a fabulous photographer and a lengthy session is planned within the next couple of days also. We are determined to take advantage of the sunshine and get some lovely natural shots to reflect the natural products.

A quick list of just some of the things you can expect on the pages soon are :-

facial oil cleansers,
moisturising serum,
night creams,
hand creams and balms,
refreshing foot creams,
bath milks, oils, melts and bombs,
clay face masks,
sugar scrubs,
and of course soap.

Over time these will just be a small selection of what we offer. With a little luck and plenty of dedication, Merionwen will grow and blossom, just like all things natural.

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12:55:58 16-07-2013
 

from little acorns

Category: merionwen's musings

With just 4 days until opening the shop I am looking at my stock shelves with a furrowed brow.

In an ideal world I would have a huge list of stock, and many products lining the shelves like a veritable superstore.

In the real, and much more sensible world my stocks are a lot smaller.

Here is the reason why.

I wish to make sure I give the best quality products to my customers. To do this I make them in small batches that can be repeated at will. I don't make bulk amounts, nor allow any sort of compromise in the ingredients.

Everything I make is as chemical free as I can get it to be. In aqueous products (products with water) I have to add a preservative by law. Due to my desire to keep any preservative as naturally derived as possible it is more economical to make them in small batches.

This desire to remain as natural as possible also mean that the products have a shorter shelf life from say a body scrub purchased in tesco or sainsbury's. Therefore I cannot afford to have products sitting on shelves using up their valuable shelf life. I prefer to have all my products go out to my customers as fresh as possible. Some of my products will benefit from living in the fridge. I will send them out in double lined packaging to ensure freshness.

With this in mind I do hope my clients will not be disappointed when the shop launches with a limited number of products.

Once launched, however, more goodies will be going up daily.

You may find that the particular product seems to be sold out. This, in itself, should not put the customer off but encourage them to realise that they are going to get the freshest product possible. There will be a facility to request a "sold out" product. This will then be made up and sent to you in less than a week.

There will also be a coming soon symbol. This is to show customers products that are undergoing challenge testing or waiting for essential legal paperwork. It does not mean I have not got around to it. This will also be a valid method of showing you all what soap is available. It will be made up and cut and you will then be informed of what will be available. However, soap has a 4-6 week cure time so selling it immediately is not viable.

There is also scope for limited edition seasonal products. If these are waiting to cure or test then it will be possible to reserve them.

All in all, I simply ask my clients/customers to understand and be patient and they will have the best quality natural skincare I can provide.

M x

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15:24:10 11-07-2013
 

labels, labels, labels

Category: merionwen's musings

I think labelling is rapidly becoming one of my primary bete noires.

There is so much to include in such a teeny tiny space.

They can prove massively expensive.

You have to make sure your design fits your ethos and aims.

And now, due to EU law you need to include even more info.

To those who are not in the know, the labels in an entirely natural product can read like one of the most chemical laden bottles of muck on the market.

You can't just tell people it is made with cocoa butter and shea? Oh no, they have to be told it contains theobroma cocoa and butyrospermum parkii.

Your beautifully crafted collection of simple and fresh goodies reads like a list of chemical warfare who's who.

So, what it the answer?

Well, my thoughts at the moment are to put both sets of ingredients on the list. Long complicated INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) names, alongside the names that will be recognised by the general public.

This only poses a problem with small things like lip balm.

My question is this. Do I add a box and place both product and small leaflet inside? I like the idea of people knowing what is really in a product and finding out a little about the choices I have made.

But, I am also attempting to reduce the packaging and carbon footprint of the products. Adding additional packaging seems to go against this ethic.

It's all food for thought and I've yet to make a decision.

Any thoughts would be most welcome.

M x

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16:09:31 10-07-2013
 

heaven is a massage bar

Category: products

Only five days left until the grand opening of the on-line shop.

Here, in Merionwen Towers we are run off our busy feet.

One of today's goodies being made are massage bars.

There is nothing quite so luxurious as a relaxing massage from a loved one (or therapist, although I'm sure you all love your therapists because we are lovely). Or you could step out of the bath or shower and grab a massage bar to seal in the moisture to keep your skin feeling great.

Merionwen's massage bars are a base of cocoa butter and shea butter. The melting point is just slightly above skin level so they stay firm in the box yet glide silky oils when applied to the skin. The first collection have been made in a pleasing flower shape that echo's the Merionwen daisy. It fits snugly into the hand and allows smooth application.

These first few have a floral them. There is of course vintage rose, a delightfully aromatic jasmine and lavender and ylang ylang.

The lavender and ylang ylang comes from a particular blend of after sun oil I have formulated that will also be hitting the shelves.

I have also been asked to make a few more manly shapes and scents. So far I have rounds of patchouli and peppercorn. This aroma is a particular favourite with us here at The Towers. There is also a blend of rosemary and cedarwood in the offing.

Watch this space and as ever, if you have any requests of suggestions please get in touch.

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15:43:49 10-07-2013
 

lip smacking good

Category: products

Hi,

I just thought I'd pop a quick lunch time blog post up to tell you all what is coming together at Merionwen Towers today.

As we near shop launch I am ensuring there is a good and varied amount of goodies on offer.

This afternoons product is a good stock of lip balm. With the weather heating up it is essential we don't forget to look after our lips.

So, today has brought about :-

Turkish delight lip balm. A cocoa butter base with a rose scent and slight pink hue. (eastern spice)

Melissa and mint lip balm. The nourishing effect of melissa (lemon balm) coupled with the freshness of mint. (country garden)

St Clements lip balm. Orange and lemons! (eastern spice)

Strawberry lip balm. As requested by my teen daughter. A slight pink hue and a delicious strawberry flavour. (country garden)

Soothing calendula. Made with skin loving calendula infused oils. (botanics)

Currently they will be offered in a small glass jar but twist up tubes are on their way too.

Don't forget, I will do requests ;)

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11:54:49 08-07-2013
 

seven days to go

Category: products

Hello there,

Today at Merionwen Towers I am busy filling the virtual shelves with non virtual goodies. After all, shop launch is in a mere seven days. I have so much to do. I am elated, daunted and excited all at the same time. In just a week you will see the shiny new shop tab on the main page title bar and can brows the ethical natural goodies to your heart's content.

The techie team is beavering away making it all shiny and new. We are aiming for easy to navigate, with a fresh and natural look.

Staying within the parameters of the four "ranges"; vintage, country garden, eastern spice and botanics.

The idea is to be able to mix and match the scents and themes to provide a wholesome package that you can style to you own needs. You could mix vintage rose body soap with the eastern flavours of turkish delight lip balm. Or the fresh country garden aromas of lemon and peppermint body and face spritz can enhance the lingering zip of melissa and mint salt scrub. The choice is yours.

In good time there will be many goodies on offer.

However, there will also be a variety of services too.

You could book in for a skincare consultation or an aroma fuelled hot stone massage. We will even be offering a service to have your own range of skincare tailored to your own needs. comprising of skincare routine recommendations, advice upon the nutritional aspects of good skincare. Young and healthy skin is supported by a good diet and you will see the external effects of internal care. and or course you can have your own specialised products formulated and supplied.

In the fullness of we will also be bringing to Merionwen the therapies and holistic services we have to offer. Although, I do currently offer deep tissue massage, swedish massage, aromatherapy massage, phytotherapy consultation, skincare consultation, these are yet to be added to the website. If you are interested in any of these therapies please feel free to contact me through the contact page or directly to my e-mail, helen@merionwen.co.uk.

There is so much to do in the next seven days but you never see a miserable busy bee :)

Health and happiness

Merionwen x

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11:23:42 08-07-2013
 

would you like salt with that?

Category: products

Today's fun in the blending room of Merionwen Towers as produced a delicious bath salt.

If, like me, you live in a hard water area there is nothing better than a generous scoop of salt in the bath to add softness. Coupled with that is the mineral benefits of adding natural salt to a bath.

Himalayan salt is hand mined, washed and dried at the foot hills of the Himalayas in Pakistan. I personally do my best to seek out a sustainable source and make sure it is fairtrade certified wherever possible.

Himalayan pink salt contains an almost identical set of elements to those in our body - in the same proportions as occur in our blood. The distinctive rose pink colour is a result of the high mineral content in the salt (iron, potassium and magnesium). So in my opinion why would you put in your bath something you would not put into your mouth. With this in mind I find this particular salt ideal.

I am blending it with a variety of good aromaceuticals, for both properties and wonderful scent. Of course there will be blend with finely ground rose petals. We all love roses right? Anti ageing, soothing and they smell great.

However, I am also looking at a spice blend, something floral, a botanical aspect and a citrus zing.

These salts have a dual aspect as they can also be used as gentle shower scrub. What better way to start a morning or sooth an evening?

Served up in a sweet kilner jar to make your bathroom look pretty. Or, if you so choose you can add to the experience with an ethically sourced wooden tub and scoop. These will also be available through the shop. I will also be making available bags of refills so you don't need to worry about having to ship a new jar each time.

I have tried to think of everything!

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10:32:43 21-06-2013
 

parabens, why not?

Category: choosing natural skincare

Parabens, Why not?

Well first of all we need to know what a paraben is, and where to find it.

Parabens are a group of compounds (methyl-, butyl- and propyl- paraben, they are also known as hydroxybenzoic acid such as methyl-para-hydroxybezoic acid).

This class of chemicals is widely used across the board in cosmetic manufacture as a preservative.

They are also to be found lurking in the pharmaceutical industry. Found in off the shelf shampoo, moisturiser, shaving gel, deodorants, make up and toothpaste. These compounds and their associated salts are commonly used for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

It all sounds good so far doesn't it? After all who wants musty deodorant or furry moisturiser?

There are arguments going for and against the use of parabens. It has been widely circulated that the use of these compounds is mostly safe. However, it has also been widely publicised that parabens have been heavily linked to cancer. Personally I would rather err on the side of caution. Through research carried out at Reading University upon the breast tissue of patients who have undergone mastectomy due to breast cancer it was found that 99% of all the samples contained parabens 60% contained all five types of paraben that were being tested for.

Here is alink to NHS site that carries the relevant information.

Parabens can mimic the hormone oestrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancers. The paraben propyl paraben has been linked to a decrease in sperm level. This is with a daily intake of the accepted EU level of this paraben. The way it mimics oestrogen has been linked to young girls going through puberty at a younger age. An age where they may not be emotionally developed enough to cope with such changes without distress.

The jury is still hung over the effect of this chemical on the development of young adults and babies. However, I for one do not wish to take these risks with either my own lifestyle or in Merionwen's products.

It is for these reasons you will never find parabens in Merionwen's products.

If you want to get involved yourself have a look at the http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=291

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Indeed, there are much kinder forms of preservative out there. Due to EU law we have to have a preservative in hydrous products as the very presence of water can encourage fungal and bacterial growth. Rest assured, Merionwen will only use the most natural, gentle and kind preservatives.

One such preservative I shall be using is Preservative Eco. The ingredients are as follows :-

Benzyl alcohol. An organic compound, benzyl alcohol is produced naturally by many plants and is commonly found in fruits and teas. It is also found in a variety of essential oils including jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang. It acts as a bactericide.

Salicylic Acid. An organic acid the term salicylic comes from the latin salix meaning willow. It has historically been extracted from willow bark and meadowsweet and used as the active ingredient in aspirin. It acts as a bactericide.

Glycerine. A by-product of soap making. Even soap made with natural ingredients! It is a clear, viscose liquid that is harmless and used across the board as a suspension for other compounds.

Sorbic acid. Isolated from unripe rowan berries this is an entirely natural compound. It is antimicrobial in it's action. It has the added advantage of degrading quickly in soil so it has long been considered extremely environmentally friendly.

Now enough science and back to the blending room.

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19:37:04 20-06-2013