Pregnancy has provided me with the opportunity to try out various pregnancy-related products, a number of which I found to be extremely useful. One of the best English companies that I discovered was Shea Mooti, with their Mama's Everything Body Balm and Mama's Soothing Leg & Foot Cream. All Shea Mooti products use pure, natural and ethically-sourced ingredients. The fabulous body balm is a slightly grainy product comprised of jojoba seed oil, beeswax, shea butter, baobab oil, cocoa seed butter, lavender, bergamot, camphora bark, and mandarin peel oil, and vitamin E; the balm literally melts into the skin, leaving it coated in a gorgeous-smelling, protective buttery layer. Mama's Soothing Leg & Foot Cream has a wonderfully cooling, soothing effect, due to the inclusion of aloe vera, shea butter and niaouli oil. It moisturises, hydrates and calms sensitive or inflamed skin, and also has a most appealing odour.
I used oils to help prevent stretch marks, and found two in particular that I would recommend: Viridian's Skin Repair Topical Oil and Organic Golden Camellia Oil. Viridian products are credited organic by the Soil Association, and the Topical Oil features a blend of soothing oils including rosehip, lavender, jojoba and calendula. It has a gloriously herbal aroma and sinks into thirsty skin, leaving it soft, hydrated and nourished. Organic Golden Camellia Oil from Gentle Bodycare is another good pregnancy oil - camellia oil is traditionally used as a stretch mark preventative and remedy. This particular oil is for the face, hair, body and/or bath, and is gentle enough to be used as a moisturiser on the baby as well as by the pregnant mother. It is a light, pure, completely natural, odour-less oil.
Daisy Baby, meanwhile, offer further mother and baby products, including a baby hamper. This is a useful starter kit for the new mother, containing, as it does, a teddy bear (with a lovely face, as my husband pointed out), a very soft hairbrush and comb, a large pure cotton cloth, large flannel, cotton bib, very soft, fleecy blanket, towel with hood and five pairs of white cotton socks. All of these are nicely presented in a wicker basket, making it an immensely useful and well-thought-out hamper, perfect for giving as a gift.
On my increasingly fast-growing hair I used products from Toni & Guy's own label, label.m. The Honey & Oat Conditioner and Shampoo have a malty aroma that may not be to everyone's taste, but they work well, the shampoo washing thoroughly with quite a soapy feel and making the hair very soft, while the conditioner leaves hair well-conditioned and shiny.
The Baylis & Harding Boudoir Collection comes in different versions: a body lotion and bath crème mini double-set; a large bottle of luxury body wash; and a gift set containing shower gel, body wash, bath milk and larger bottles of bath crème and hand and body lotion. All are beautifully presented in substantial boxes, some decked in ribbons, in pale rose with gold writing on top, and they all make for very special-looking gifts. The Pink Orchid luxury shower gel appears elegant--albeit all rather pink (both in colour and in smell!)--and it washes and lathers well on the skin.
Further treats of all kinds were forthcoming from Lush: shower gels, bath ballistics, cleansers, body lotions and gift boxes. The Ponche shower gel is one of their alcohol-free products, and is inspired by Mexican fruit punch. Containing plums, oranges, cinnamon and davana oil (a citrusy oil used by aromatherapists for calming, balancing and soothing skin), it has a powerful scent and bright orange colour, and lathers and cleans well.
Dream Cream hand and body lotion is one of Lush's best-selling products - a light, easily absorbed moisturising cream with a nice texture (neither too thick nor too thin) and a pleasant, if relatively faint, smell. Ingredients include oat milk, rose water, cocoa butter, tea tree oil, extra virgin olive oil and lavender oil, and it works very well, moisturising gently. The Sikkim Girls body lotion is rather at the other extreme: a boldly and gorgeously- scented cream, with jasmine, vanilla, Darjeeling tea and creamy cocoa butter. The lotion itself is quite thick but applies and sinks in reasonably well.The wonderful aroma lingers and infuses clothes as well, so that one smells superb all day long.The cleanser that I tried was Buche de Noel, a face and body cleanser made with ground almonds, dried cranberries, cocoa butter and various oils. With a fruity scent, it did a thorough job, resulting in squeaky-clean skin.
Two bath ballistics provided me with bath-time fun: Love Locket is pink and heart-shaped with jasmine and neroli oil, which fizzes madly, turning the water soft and pink and leaving many tiny pink hearts in the shimmering water, while Golden Wonder features orange and lime oil. This provides an explosion of colour and effervescence as it turns the bath different colours in sequence, from yellow and orange through to a final, shiny deep turquoise, with tiny glimmering, shimmering particles. Cleverly, the more solid white crunchy topping can be used as a scrub while the rest of the ballistic melts. A popular Lush gift set is the Lots of Love box, which comprises a bath ballistic, a soap, a Tender is the Night massage bar, Ro's Argan Body Conditioner, and the Prince Charming shower gel (with marshmallow root, vanilla and pomegranate, like candyfloss tempered with more sophisticated floral and citrus overtones), all of them beautifully presented in a brightly coloured box with ribbons.
I discovered a superb facial wash in the Body Shop's Tea Tree Cool and Creamy Wash (a gentle, universal cleanser, suitable even for blemished and very dry skin). Brilliantly invigorating, this boasts tea tree oil and menthol, leaving skin feeling thoroughly clean but nourished.
Finally, lavender also made its presence felt in the pregnancy routine: Natural Empathy's Luxury Natural Hand Wash is gorgeously lavender-fragranced, while Tisserand Aromatherapy's hand and nail cream also includes lavender, alongside mint and damask rose, with kukui nut for softening, and nourishing cocoa butter and linden blossom extract. This quickly-absorbed cream leaves hands feeling soft and smelling gorgeous. Both of these come highly recommended.
Now that young Tristan has been born, however, it's goodbye to the pampering pregnancy products and stretch mark creams, and back to testing a wider range of products from England's innovative shores....Em Marshall-Luck