Spotlight on… Sunflower

Cheerful, bright sunshine on a stem, sunflowers have a special place in our hearts (Shire Farm wouldn’t be the same without them). Not just pretty things loved by bees and hoverflies, they’re also multi-tasking health and beauty heroes thanks to their antioxidant and nutrient-rich seeds.

 

And how fitting that this complexion-boosting powerhouse was first cultivated for its beauty – sunflowers were initially brought to Europe from North America to adorn gardens as ornamental plants…

 

  1. Why your skin loves sunflower oil

 

Mild scent, check. Light texture, check. Sunflower oil is absorbed quickly and leaves no oily residue (just a silky feeling), making it an ideal addition to beauty formulations. And that’s not all.

Dreaming of supple, hydrated skin? Sunflower oil is packed with vitamin E, a supercharged antioxidant that does double duty by locking in moisture as well as protecting your complexion from environmental damage. High concentration of linoleic acid (omega-6) in sunflower oil also adds to its skin-soothing powers, making it ideal for dry or irritated complexion in need of some TLC.

Treat your skin to the rejuvenating powers of sunflower oil with two of our award-winning formulations:

 

AEOS Enriching Moisturiser

 

Quench thirsty skin and treat your complexion to a rejuvenating lift with our Enriching Moisturiser Pink or Blue. Sunflower’s nourishing properties shine in this award-winning formula.

 

AEOS Biodynamic Nail and Cuticle Oil

 

Show your nails some sunflower love: our Biodynamic Nail and Cuticle Oil will not only strengthen your [Read more…]

Adieu mood swings – step off the hormonal rollercoaster

You know the drill… sudden mega emotional outburst… followed by the thought “oh no, not again”… followed by the ‘strap yourself in and get ready for the ride’ mentality of just-getting-on-with-it. Whether it’s that sudden urge to burst into tears because they don’t have your usual brand of cereal on the shelf – or feeling like the world has come to an abrupt end the moment you wake up (when it all seemed so fine yesterday) – the hormonal rollercoaster can be a slippery slidey (yet surprisingly unspoken about) female nightmare.

 

But that doesn’t mean we just have to put up with it. Read on to learn how your lifestyle might be affecting your hormones and how to cruise every day of your cycle with more peace, love and vitality.

 

  1. Hormone-friendly eating

 

General healthy eating advice applies to keeping our hormones balanced too. So avoid crash dieting and limit sugar, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods. And ensure you include plenty of fruit, colourful veg, good fats and other nutrient-rich whole foods in your diet.

 

A few foodie resolutions apply specifically to hormonal balance though. Soy is one food that can become problematic if we consume a lot of it (easy to do if you’re a new vegetarian and eat a lot of soy-based ‘replacement’ foods, for example). Soy contains a high level of phytoestrogens which mimic the natural oestrogen in our bodies, and while not a problem in limited quantities, eating too much can cause our hormones to get out of whack.

 

While it’s not necessary to shun all soy, go for moderation and pick organic and fermented soy products (enjoy miso and tempeh) when possible, and add a variety of other healthy sources of protein to your diet, such as nuts and seeds.

  1. Halt the xenoestrogen build-up

 

Eating soy is not the only way oestrogen-like compounds enter our bodies. So what should we watch out for? Xenoestrogens (synthetic compounds that imitate oestrogens in a similar way to phytoestrogens) are found all around us, including many pesticides and herbicides as well as plenty of plastics and some cosmetic preservatives including parabens.

 

It’s impossible to avoid all xenoestrogens, but we can take steps to minimise our exposure. Choose organically grown food, natural cosmetics and cleaning products when possible, and avoid drinking from plastic bottles and storing food in plastic containers when you can.

 

  1. Do a life-style health check

 

How’s your daily routine? If you’re eating all the right stuff but still struggle with hormone-induced mood swings, there could be room for improvement in other areas of self-care, especially sleep and exercise.

 

Our body does a lot of its hormone production and tweaking at night while we slumber, and skimping on sleep (especially on a regular basis) may well be one of the main culprits pushing your hormones off balance. Recognise yourself? Take your time to create a pleasant bedtime routine that works for you, and keep it as consistent as far as possible, making sure you get those 7–8 hours of shuteye every night.

 

Regular exercise is another thing we often don’t feel like we even have the time for anymore… But a daily (or so) dose of physical activity could be your ticket to a gentler monthly cycle (not to mention countless other benefits). Through exercise, your body can rid itself of excess oestrogen via perspiration and [Read more…]

Draw strength and courage …from your fears

Do you often lose sleep over niggling fears and worries? Or are you generally confident and only ever rattled by the major setbacks in life? Either way, experiencing fear can be super uncomfortable – and something that most of us would gladly live without.

But is fear really a ‘bad’ thing? Perhaps if we learnt to look at fear differently, it could become a source of courage for us instead of an obstacle to overcome. And those things in life that get our heart pounding in an unpleasant way – be it public speaking, boarding that aeroplane, driving down the freeway or blushing in public –  might cease being barriers to living our life to the full.

Fear you’re a little sceptical? Let us explain…

1. A friend in disguise?

How easy life would be if we were completely fearless! Or would it? No matter how uncomfortable fear is, we experience it for a good reason. Fear is a natural response to potentially dangerous situations (without it the human race wouldn’t have survived for very long).

Of course, sometimes our fears are disproportionate considering the situation at hand. A job interview can induce a full fight-or-flight response in us even though we’re not in any sort of physical danger.

But even in those situations we can choose to view fear as an ally. And with that choice, comes power. Psychologist Kelly McGonigal speaks about stress and the power of looking at it from a positive angle: stress seems to be only as detrimental to our health as we believe it to be. We can apply the same wisdom to dealing with our fears. Every time fear comes knocking, think of it as an ally helping you rise up to the challenge – Light-headed? Know that oxygen is pumping round your body to help you face any situation; Pounding heart? Hello adrenaline that will help you think faster…. And watch for the shift.

2. Channel your inner Susan

Few books have been as influential in helping people achieve their full potential in life in spite of their fears, as Susan Jeffers’ best-selling ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’.

One of Susan’s core messages is that fear is inevitable. And she believes that this is a key to our liberation: If we can accept that experiencing fear is just a fact of life, we can start seeing the many fear-inducing situations as pointers to the areas of our lives where there’s room for growth, rather than barriers to our success and happiness.

So what would Susan do when faced with a fear? That’s right: she’d do it anyway – and trust that she could “handle it”. Doing the thing that terrifies us is the quickest way to tame the fear and stretch the limits of our comfort zone.

3. Use body language to harness fear in a positive way

We know that body language influences how others feel about us. But it may come as a surprise that body language (even faking it) can also change how we feel about ourselves. According to social psychologist Amy Cuddy, taking just a couple of minutes to stand in a ‘power pose’ before a stressful event can significantly boost our confidence.

About to give a presentation or go on a first date? Why not test it out… Like Amy says, find a [Read more…]

Organic vs biodynamic? Here’s the difference

We’re living and breathing biodynamic here at AEOS, but what does this mean? And is it really any better than organic? Well here’s the lowdown…

  1. Going the extra mile

You could think of biodynamic farming as ‘organic plus’. Biodynamic farmers follow all organic principles (such as excluding all synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and genetically modified organisms), but they take extra steps to work in greater harmony with Mother Nature, tending the land using holistic and sustainable methods that help it thrive not just today, but also in the long term.

Self-contained, self-sustainable

What is a farm? From the biodynamic farmer’s view, it’s a single entity made up of numerous interdependent parts. And each part (the bacteria in the soil, the crops, the livestock, the wildlife and the human stewards of the land) plays an integral role in helping the farm as a whole thrive.

And while an organic farm may bring in organic fertilizers and seeds from elsewhere, the goal of biodynamic farming is to be as self-sustaining as possible by producing everything that is needed in situ.

Soil in the starring role

Biodynamic farmers know just how crucial the role of healthy soil has in producing crops that are full of life-force, potency, and resistant to pests and disease. Healthy soil brims with nutrients, beneficial microbes and life-sustaining water, and key methods of achieving this goal include crop rotation, growing soil-enriching plants such as legumes and using farm-derived composts and special biodynamic preparations made from herbs, minerals and animal manures.

In tune with natural cycles

Biodynamic farming methods harness nature’s rhythms, such as lunar cycles, in decision-making. These cycles can energise or slow down plant growth, and thus determine the optimum times for planting and harvesting crops. A careful observation of, and working in harmony with, these vital rhythms, ensures that plants achieve their fullest potential when it comes to vitality and strength.

  1. What biodynamic means for your skin

Maximum potency

We all want to see a real difference when we use a beauty product – and we get the best results by applying the purest, most potent ingredients rich in complexion-enhancing nutrients. And there are no short cuts to cultivating plants that can deliver that. Vitality can’t be faked or forced; it takes a fertile, thriving ecosystem to produce ingredients with maximum benefits – which is what biodynamic farming is all about.

Beauty, guilt-free

 

In biodynamic farming, the land is never manipulated or ‘forced to perform’ at the expense of its long-term health. Biodynamic farmers cultivate the land with deep respect for the earth, working with nature every step of the [Read more…]

Creatively blocked? Let your inner artist out to play

Creative-at-heart type? Creatively-blocked type? “Not-a-creative-bone-in-my-body” type? According to Julia Cameron (author of ‘The Artist’s Way’), there is no such thing as a non-creative person. But for many of us, it can seem impossible to find the time, confidence or outlet for creative pursuits. But are we neglecting that part of ourselves to our own detriment? Studies show that expressing ourselves creatively can calm anxiety, lift a low mood and even strengthen us physically. Not to mention that when we take time on a regular basis to create art we often begin to feel more energised and alive. Some would even go so far to say, creativity is an essential element of our lifeblood.

 

  1. Why we might suppress our creativity

 

Children are highly creative and see opportunities to express themselves everywhere. Why then do we often lose touch with that part of ourselves when we grow up?

 

Adult life is full of responsibilities, and many of us can end up feeling that we simply don’t have the time anymore for something as frivolous as painting or writing a poem. Maybe we tell ourselves that making art is what professional artists are for, and that we wouldn’t be able to produce anything ‘good enough’ anyway. Or we worry about making a mess, or feeling foolish, or wasting money. Maybe we’ve even dreamed of being an artist once, but abandoned that dream fearing the bad rep that artists get (who’d want to end up a lonely eccentric with a drinking problem anyway?).

 

But give your inner artist another chance. Because they’re there, waiting in the wings… Creativity is a natural part of us all, and finding enjoyable ways to express ourselves may be as beneficial for our wellbeing as regular exercise.

 

2.Start somewhere, anywhere

 

If we haven’t really done anything creative in a long while, starting again can feel awkward. So let it feel awkward, and just start. Try anything that appeals to you. Sing, dance, draw, write, take photos, knit a hat, decorate a cake, or arrange leaves and pebbles into a nature mandala. Sprinkle a little creativity on your daily activities – think twice about how you prepare your food or wrap a gift, experiment with makeup and clothes, doodle when inbetween taking notes.

We don’t need to produce something exceptional when we create. Or wait for inspiration to strike. Just produce something. Elizabeth Gilbert (author of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and ‘Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear’) suggests that we stop thinking of creativity as a ‘talent’ or a ‘gift’ but instead view it as a source that everyone can channel.

And if you feel really blocked because you loathe the idea of making a mess or a mistake during your creative process, pick up a copy of Keri Smith’s ‘Wreck This Journal’. As the title suggests, the journal is [Read more…]

Crystal spotlight: Get to know the amethyst

Amethyst is a beautiful quartz with a pinkish violet to deep purple hue with a soothing and balancing energy – it’s easy to see why it’s been a highly prized gemstone throughout the centuries and is still just as popular today.

 

  1. Amethyst history and lore

 

Amethyst is associated with numerous myths and legends – think Ancient Egyptians and Catholic bishops who wore amethyst amulets and ornaments for their powerful protective properties. At one time amethyst was so rare that is was considered as valuable as diamond and became associated with English royalty.

 

The name amethyst is derived from the Greek word amethustos, which means ‘not intoxicated’, and ancient Greeks and Romans believed that the gemstone could stop them from getting drunk. The myth about the origin of amethyst is also linked to wine: in the legend Amethyst is the name of a young maiden whom the goddess Diana turns into a clear crystal to save the girl from Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. The remorseful Bacchus ends up pouring wine over the crystal, which turns the gem purple.

 

  1. Beneficial effects of amethyst

 

Historically, amethyst has been used for purification and protection, and today one of its key uses as a healing stone is to promote rest and sleep. Check out more of its healing wonders below:

 

For the body

 

Amethyst is thought to have a strengthening effect on the immune system and to be helpful in relieving migraines.

 

Amethyst’s soothing energy and moisturising properties also make it a valuable addition to skincare formulations – its calming qualities are particularly suited to nourishing irritated and inflamed skin. We use the crystal essence of amethyst in several of our formulations, including Refreshing Hydrating Mist, Realive Serum and Enriching Moisturiser.

 

For the mind

 

Amethyst promotes relaxation and calm through its harmonising effect on the nervous system. It’s also thought to increase mental clarity, boost our creative and intuitive abilities and enhance our connection to the divine.

 

To harness the powers of amethyst at home, try keeping a piece of quartz next to your bed (or even under your pillow) at night for more peaceful sleep, or hold one during meditation to help clear the mind and access the stillness within. Or simply wear amethyst jewellery to enjoy the gem’s exceptional beauty and day-long zen boost.

 

When green isn’t really green – how not to fall for ‘greenwashing’

Ever picked up a beauty product thinking it was 100% organic and natural, only to notice that it contains a long list of suspiciously chemical-sounding ingredients? If your answer’s ‘yes’ then chances are you’ve been ‘greenwashed’.

More and more of us want high quality products that are good for us and the planet alike. And many companies are stepping up to meet the growing demand by investing in green technology, adopting sustainable farming practices and sourcing high quality natural ingredients. Unfortunately, some others are merely investing in marketing ploys that make their products sound greener than they are.

1. What is greenwashing?

‘Greenwashing’ is when a company makes intentionally false or misleading claims about the green credentials of their products. And when it comes to beauty products it’s shockingly easy to get away with it. Unlike organic food (for which very strict regulations are usually in place) a shampoo bottle or a cleanser can say ‘organic’ on the label even if it contains only 1% of organic ingredients.

Similarly, there are no legal standards or rules that determine at what point a moisturiser or a bar of soap can be called ‘natural’, ‘botanical’, ‘eco-friendly’, ‘pure’ and so on. We’re also sometimes mislead by statements such as ‘paraben free’, which is on the label to distract us from spotting the other potentially toxic ingredients in the formula.

2. Navigate the label jungle

So how can we avoid the cheap and synthetic masquerading as sustainable and natural and get the real deal?

Spot the logo

Companies have the option of going through a certification process to prove that their formulations are genuinely sustainable (and those serious about their green credentials, like AEOS, are likely to have done so). The quickest way to suss out if a product is truly green or not is to look out for the logo of a recognised and independent certification body on the packaging.

What’s really in the bottle?

Many of us are already in the habit of perusing the ingredients list when we shop for food, so it’s fairly easy to extend that habit to our beauty buys too. While a label may contain soothing claims about the purity of the ingredients, a quick glance through the list at the back can clarify if that’s really the case.

Speak up

What if you spot a ‘green’ product that is in fact anything but? Or are wondering why a company that seems genuine hasn’t been independently certified yet? Pick up the phone, or get in touch with the company in question via email or social media. One person speaking up may seem like a drop in the ocean, but the more of us that make it clear we want genuinely sustainable products with clear labelling, the more likely we are to get it!

  1. The AEOS way

The desire to be a genuine force for good in the world has always been at the heart of our operations from the very beginning of AEOS. Creating our skincare and beauty formulations in harmony with [Read more…]

Want to feel more zen? Try ditching the dogmas

“I need to quit alcohol/caffeine/dairy/[fill in accordingly]”. “I must get up earlier / train every morning / get a new job / declutter my house / only eat ‘clean’…” How many times a day do you reprimand yourself for not doing the things you “should”, or bully yourself into doing the things you “must”? Be it the new diet that will keep that weight off for good, or the exercise regime that will make you feel and look ten years younger – whatever the promise it is we make to ourselves, why do we still slip and fall back into our old ways after a while? And then the guilt creeps in… So what on earth is going on, and why can’t we just do it?

There’s no need to beat ourselves up over our ‘failure’ to replicate someone else’s formula for wellness. If something is starting with a “must” or “should” or “need to”, our heart’s probably not in it. Maybe what our failure is really saying is to care less about what anyone else tells us we ‘should’ be doing and more about what our own intuition is guiding us towards?

  1. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ path to health and happiness

Who wouldn’t want to be their healthiest, most vibrant and joyful self? On our quest to make that happen, we often look to others for advice. And while we can learn a lot from wellness experts and healthy living gurus, we must stay tuned into our own intuition too to get the best (and happiest) results.

It’s easy to be swept up by someone’s enthusiasm when they’ve discovered something that works well for them. And oh how we love to believe that if we can just manage to follow steps A, B and C in the exact same way, we’ll get the same results – that ‘all or nothing’ is the way forward. But we’re not all the same. And trying to stick to a strict set of rules is, more often than not, a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

  1. What’s right for you?

Have you ever tried to stick to a new diet or fitness plan but felt miserable in the process, or quit just after you thought “this is the one!”? Try tuning into what’s going on within. Make a list of anything in your life that you think you ‘should’ do or ‘have to’ achieve. Then take each sentence and say it out loud.

How did each statement feel? Good, or not so good? If you cross out the ‘I should’ and replace it with ‘I want to’ does the statement still ring true? Follow up each statement with ‘because’ and see what else comes up. Try applying this mindful attention while eating and excercising too, “does this feel good for me?”

Everything in moderation… including moderation!

Hopefully, by asking our true selves a few questions, we can see more clearly what we truly want (and what’s external mental clutter). And maybe we’ll choose to carry on but at the same time start to let go of the pressure to be perfect and the associated guilt. We don’t need to do something 100% all day every day for it to have a positive effect in our lives.

  1. Go ‘flexi’ on everything

What if we looked at any recommended plan just as a starting point? What if we believed that it was ok to experiment, adjust and shift things along the way to find out what works for us in each moment? What’s right for us one day, may not be the next day.

If you start to feel deprived or resentful …stop. We’re not just physical bodies (and certainly not robots). We’re holistic beings, and sometimes ‘breaking the rules’ may be what we need in that moment to nourish a different part of ourselves. (And thankfully, indulging in an occasional treat or sleeping in one morning isn’t going to erase everything we’ve done up to that point.) When we remain flexible and open-minded and let ourselves be both imperfect and continuously evolving human-beings, we’re more likely to be kind to ourselves and to remember to keep joy at the heart of it all. (And isn’t feeling better what we’ve been aiming for all along anyway?)

Spotlight on Calendula: The delicate herb that’s a skin-healing powerhouse

Youthful glow, hello! Calendula, an extract from the Marigold Family, has been used as a natural cure for wounds for centuries, but it has a little secret… this delicate flower has tremendous healing powers for your skin. Yes, this impressive anti-inflammatory and restorative powerhouse is your skin-loving go-to for quenching skin with deep hydration, leaving you with a gorgeously-smooth complexion.

 

 

So what’s its secret?

 

Calendula’s nourishing and uplifting properties are thanks to its high levels of carotenoids (vitamin A-like compounds) – the skin superheroes that help protect our skin from premature aging – yet it’s gentle and safe enough to use on the most delicate complexions and around the eyes. A regular boost of this flower’s power will help leave your skin feeling stronger and more supple and radiating with health.

 

Medicinal magic

 

Thanks to its strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, calendula is a natural healer, making it great for skin problems and irritations like eczema or acne. It can also be used to help promote the healing of wounds, minor burns and any other inflammatory skin conditions.

 

Give your skin a calendula-boost with three of our award-winning products:

 

AEOS Gentle Exfoliant

Reveal a fresh, radiant and polished complexion the calendula way with our Gentle Exfoliant Pink or Blue. With its calendula-rich award-winning formula, your skin will enjoy an immediate boost.

 

AEOS Skin Replenisher Cream Rich

Quench thirsty skin with our Skin Replenisher Cream. Brimming with calendula extract for an intense burst of [Read more…]

Healing journeys – where will yours take you?

We all intuitively know that nature has far more to offer us than food, raw materials and even pretty pictures to download onto our desktop computers. But, as we sometimes struggle to keep all the balls of our complicated lives in the air, boxed within four walls, it’s way too easy to feel removed from the natural world. Yet, reconnecting with nature may just be the thing we’re needing if we’ve begun to feel disconnected and restless in our lives.

Nature is there for us – particularly when life deals us a particularly rotten hand and we end up feeling broken and lost or worse. Numerous people have dealt with their grief and troubles by heading to the great outdoors for a very long walk, coming back transformed.

  1. What we seek on the trail

 

What makes someone want to walk on their own for days, weeks or even months on end on dirt tracks and forest paths? While many people hit the trail simply because of their love for the outdoors or because they fancy a challenge, many others seek the solace of the desert or the mountains because they’re dealing with something difficult in their lives and they’re in search of guidance.

For Cheryl Strayed – who at 22 was grieving her mother’s death and the end of her marriage – hiking over 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail was a transformational experience that became a turning point in her life (her memoir Wild was later made into a film, starring Reese Witherspoon, by the same name). Robyn Davidson, whose 1,700 trek across the Australian Outback in the company of four camels and a dog was also described as a memoir and later made into the film Tracks, explained that at age 25, she felt directionless and was desperate to do something that would give her life meaning. For others, it’s because of their struggles with self love or accepting their body, addictions or just a nagging feeling that something in their life is not quite right – that gets them hitting that trail. Sometimes people don’t even know why they feel the pull to go before they get there.

But rest assured, whatever people seek out there, they often end up finding inside themselves.

  1. What I found on my own walk

By Nita, writer for AEOS

 

As a writer for AEOS, I was asked to share my own healing journey that took me to the Scottish Highlands in July 2017, alone, for a week. I felt vulnerable and broken-hearted at the time and had a strong urge to do something to regain my faith in myself. I also wanted to ‘get away from it all’ and a week of solo hiking and wild camping fitted the bill nicely (while making me nervous too)…

In the end, I found that the most magical thing about walking in nature for me was that on some fundamental level it always made sense, even when it felt that nothing else in my life did. During the hike, I’d wake up in the morning, lace up my boots and walk. That’s it. One step after another. While physically demanding, the simplicity of life on the trail seemed to create this wide open space in which to process my feelings and untangle my thoughts. What I brought back with me was a renewed sense of strength and clarity.

 

  1. Choose your own journey

 

Long hikes have changed many lives for the better and come highly recommended (as long as they are thoroughly planned and prepared for). But what if you could do with a dose of ‘walking therapy’ but don’t really fancy trekking in the wilderness for months or even days? Thankfully, healing isn’t a competitive sport, and walks in nature can be undertaken on any scale that suits us. In the end, after even a few hours spent in solitude (or good company) out in the woods, on the beach or on the hills you’re sure to come back more energised and [Read more…]