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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.

every day is a school day

Category: merionwen's musings

Well hello there folks.

It seems an age since I last posted.

Here at Merionwen Towers it's all go. Things are hectic and fun packed as usual.

Not only am I constantly stirring the lotions and potions, but I am also embarking and the great adventure of education.

I've always loved learning new things. Indeed, my dear and wonderful Mummy Merionwen has endlessly referred to me as the eternal student. A moniker I am more than happy to live up to. Of course, I've not gone completely barmy and started to study quantum physics or Art History (although this is where my A-levels lie).

I am undertaking a BSc (hons) course in Herbal Medicine. This will further my existing qualification in this field. I'm just reaching the end of the first term and I am loving it. It is so very very in depth, studying subjects like biochemistry, pharmacology and other such ologys...

I also do one day a fortnight of clinical practice at Lincoln Uni's training clinic. Now for a quick plug...If you are in the area and wish for a consultation please make an appointment. The number is 01522 886113. All the consultations are free and any medication is very reasonably priced.

I hope to follow this up with an MSc in the same subject and the possibility of a teaching qualification. I would love to be able to share my knowledge on a professional basis. Of course I also wish to use my love of herbs in my lotions and potions.

We'll all be scented like the most delicious garden if Merionwen has her way :)

18:54:38 02-12-2013

all the fun of the fair

Category: merionwen's musings

Happy, sunny Sunday, potion lovers!

It may well be a day of rest but that doesn't comply here at Merionwen towers. However, is potioning really work? It certainly doesn't feel like it.

Today has led to the formulation of a few more goodies that will be coming soon. Stay tuned to find out what they are.

I am also busy buzzing away making more goodies for the coming fair next weekend.

We will be at Barton Marina for the first of a regular monthly outing. It's all rather exciting. Barton Marina is a lovely place and I have family links to the area. My Dear Old Dad was from Burton Upon Trent and we would spend many summer holidays visiting his side of the family (I grew up in Wales).

I am hoping we will find ourselves with a few regular customers from both Barton Marina and a regular monthly outing to Derby Market Hall.

This last few weeks has seen us making our faces known at both the Buxton Dome and Bakewell Town Hall.

Both events were equally lovely and both towns warm and welcoming. We were surrounded by both vintage goodies and wonderful crafts alike.

I would like to say thank you to The Vintage Suitcase,as both Gemma and Allison are a pleasure to deal with. They put on a spectacular show and are superb people.

I'm very pleased to say that we are going to rejoin the team on October 20th back at the beautiful Buxton Dome.


Charlie was in residence, with added mischief. Possibly because he was in the hands of Andrew the Barefoot techie hero.

We like to drag Charlie around with us to demonstrate our passion for making our products palm oil free.

We actively support Orangutan Appeal UK, and wish this to be known to all our customers as it is something we feel strongly about.

In fact we are in the process of formulation a product with a specific purpose. All the profits from this particular product will go to the charity. we will also continue to show out support by adopting a wee little baby Orangutan.

All in all, it seems we have quite a busy few months ahead of us.

It's all good :)

16:23:33 18-08-2013

my reply to samantha brick.

Category: merionwen's musings

I know this does not correlate directly to my business. However, I am in the line of skincare, beauty and nutrition.

Good natural products are not the be all and end all of good skin.

Good nutrition is essential. From eating plenty of vitamins and minerals to drinking lots of water, it is the key, and should be the first port of call.

With this in mind, I wish to revisit the outrageous article published by Samantha Brick in the Daily Mail. I am not a big fan of DM at the best of times and feel they go in for sensationalising and bigotry.

However, words like this are out there and I worry for the vulnerable people that read them and take them to heart.

So here is my reaction to the offending article. Some of you may have read it before but I feel it deserves addressing on here and not just on facebook.

For My teen daughter (my reaction to Samantha Brick's article)

My Darling Daughter,

I have just sat and read an article published by the Daily Mail (yes, I know, I know) by Samantha Brick.

I am sure you are aware I have strong views about the way the public is influenced by what they read and see. But, this particular article has left me with enough feeling to want to address her words. In particular, I want to address them with you and your beautiful friends in mind.

You are all of an age where body image is becoming important to you, and seeing this drivel in print alarms me. I know you are sensible enough to take it with a pinch of salt; but I would not want one single grain of this to enter your psyche.

The italics are the words of Samantha Brick.

"When my husband and I invited friends to dinner, I knew they'd want to bring something along as a contribution to the evening."

As is right and proper in polite society.

"and made a point of saying that wasn't necessary."

As we all do.

"So when one friend arrived and thrust a hefty box of chocolates into my hands, I rewarded her with ice-cold contempt rather than the grateful smile she was clearly expecting."

What a self centred and ungracious attitude. It is amazing there are any friends left.

"At the end of the evening, that very expensive box of hand-made French chocolates was consigned to the bottom of the kitchen bin, the contents ruined by the coffee dregs I had deliberately poured over them."

Would it have killed you to stop at a local hospital/nursery/hospice/charity and drop them off there, to the hard working staff who could do with a little treat and cheer during their day in, day out slog of caring for others?

"I am 42 years old and have been on a permanent diet for the past 30 years."

How sad and empty for you!

"The logic is simple and irrefutable: any self-respecting woman wants to be thin, and to be thin you need to spend your life on a diet. "

No, you don't! You need a balanced nutritious diet to maintain optimum health. The healthy size you should be will naturally follow.

"I don't believe overweight is ever attractive."

I feel it is what you *do* believe that is more of a concern

"Whether we like it or not, we live in an age and a part of the world where men and women regard thin as beautiful."

How many real men have you asked? I have always found that men prefer women to look healthy, and not look like the teaching apparatus from the biology lab.

"As an actress, this is something Joan Collins understands only too well, revealing last week that the secret to maintaining a perfect hourglass figure into your 70s is spending every day on a diet."

Perhaps she means a healthy balanced diet? Not the type of damaging self denial you are twittering on about.

"Joan, 79, said she controlled her weight during a long career so that she could stay in work - an entirely laudable attitude."

I expect she has. However, she has always been famed for her beautiful curves, not dieting to the point of looking like a hat stand.

"Like Joan, I have no intention of letting my body slide flabbily into middle age. I believe that any woman with a modicum of self-respect should watch her figure with the same vigour. Is it any coincidence that Joan is still attractive and in demand for work? "

It is my firm belief that any woman with a modicum of self respect should be aware of what she is eating. Maintaining a balanced diet to stay fit and healthy. Being aware of environmental issues surrounding the food on your plate. Not adding to the growing issue of food wastage while others starve.

"I was glad to see the back of Easter this month, as it seems to have been hijacked by the greedy masses who regard it as a free pass to gorge on chocolate."

Or perhaps a joyful time for families and friends to get together over a good meal, and treat each other with a gift of chocolate that they would not normally indulge each other in. Yes, some may over do it, but many still have Easter eggs in the house that will last a good while longer, and be treated as an on going treat to be enjoyed in moderation. Also, let's not forget that Easter is a Religious occasion and thus extremely important to some.

"Not a morsel passed my lips. Chocolate, cakes, sweets and any other calorie-rich, fat-laden 'foods' are banned in my home."

Clearly, self indulgent smugness isn't!

"For three decades, self-denial has been my best friend."

You have some strange friends! I refer back to your first paragraph! Is it any wonder that you consider things like self-denial as friends when you treat people so shoddily?

"And one of my biggest incentives is that I know men prefer slim women."

No! Not a sentient, respectful and kind man!

"I have only ever dated men who kept a strict eye on my figure. My partners are not only boyfriends but weight-loss coaches. "

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear! What an empty battery of relationships you must have slithered through!

"My first love continually reminded me that one can never be too rich or too thin, and my husband of five years frequently tells me that if I put on weight he will divorce me."

Would you like the number for relate, or a good divorce lawyer?

"In the workplace, male bosses will always give the top job to a woman who looks fit and in control, rather than one who looks like a bulging sack in danger of imminent cardiac arrest."

Fit and in control does not equate to "on the fast track to an eating disorder". Incidentally one of the long term effects of poor nutrition is cardiac arrest. When did you last have you heart checked?

"I have some insight here, as I was overweight until I was 14 years old. Bitter experience taught me that the world pays no attention to dumpy girls."

Overweight until 14? Unless you had a remarkably poor diet I suspect you looked much like your peers. I may be wrong in this, but your vitriol about being fat leads me to believe your problems are more psychological in origin.

"Little wonder that in my mid-teens I decided to lose my puppy fat, transforming myself as I lived, for the best part of a year, on Marmite on toast (no butter)."

Good god woman! I am amazed you didn't develop rickets or scurvy! And what did your parents make of this behaviour?

"The first summer I felt thin coincided with a family holiday abroad. While this provided an opportunity to show off my svelte new figure, I had to watch my calorie intake even more carefully."

I thought family holidays were for enjoying your family's company and doing things you wouldn't normally do; like sight seeing, swimming in the sea and trying local cuisine. Not just poncing around in your swim suit trying to catch the eye of the local lads. And did they know you were only 14?

"I am 5ft 11in and slimmed down to a size 8. One of my lecturers was so worried she pulled me aside to voice her concern. I put her intervention down to jealousy, as she was a size 16."

A sorry state of affairs when you think the genuine concern of a person in authority is jealousy of your unhealthy bony body. Especially when she probably looked fab as a size 16!

"The Polo diet paid off: I could wear whatever I wanted and looked fantastic. I stopped only after a stern lecture from my dentist about the damage I was doing to my teeth."

Really? Really? btw, if you were going for sugar free polos they cause diarrhoea if eaten in excess. Nothing says sexy like the runs!

"My 20s were dominated by dieting, and I managed to stay a steady size 8/10. If I put on a pound or two, I simplyskipped a meal. I actually enjoyed - and still do - the hunger pangs. Isee them as a reminder that I am not pigging out on pizzas and fast food."

Heroin addicts get a buzz of their antisocial addictions also, and that is an illness too! Hunger pangs are your body telling you you need to feed it before your cells atrophy!

"I even chose holidays according to the indigenous diet. India was a favourite because I lost weight on meagre vegetarian servings."

This is what you brought back from a visit from a heritage and culture rich country?

"Florida was a disaster, so obscenely huge were the portions. Never again."

Just because it is on your plate doesn't mean you have to eat it all. Eat until you are satisfied and NO LONGER hungry.

"In those days I didn't use scales to tell me if I'd gained weight: I went by the fit of my clothes. My benchmark was a pair of unforgiving, size 8, Agnes B skinny-fit trousers. "

Buy a slightly bigger pair. No doubt you could have used the money you saved by not buying food!

"A friend and I had a coded way of referring to the success of my latest diet. 'Ah! The Agnes B trousers are on!' she'd say, as I strutted across to the table at whichever restaurant we were meeting in."

If she was a real friend she may have been seeing this as a cause for concern? If she is encouraging you in this self destructive way of life then she is as bad as you and needs a good hard look at herself.

"In my early 30s I lived in Los Angeles. The entire city is permanently on a diet, heaven for a serial dieter like me. I was a size 8, and became accustomed to surviving on fewer than 1,000 calories a day. "

Like a concentration camp?

"I'd have a large black coffee for breakfast, so strong the caffeine would make me tremble. For lunch I'd eat a bagel with the bread inside scoopedout and replaced with salad. Evening meals were either sushi or egg-white omelettes."

Anything that makes you tremble when consumed is clearly a poison and should be treated with caution. Your diet seems to have a serious lack of protien.

"To avoid culinary temptation, I even made a point of renting a house without a kitchen."

I'll bet the landlord was laughing all the way to the bank!

"Of course, constantly denying myself food was not and is not easy, but it has always brought enough rewards to make it worthwhile."


"In Los Angeles, for example, where I worked as a television producer, I was never out of work and never without a boyfriend."

You clearly lack the need for a deep and meaningful relationship. You certainly elude to there being a string of boyfriends. I wonder why none of them lasted?

"My self-control has slipped, on occasion, and I have found myself putting on weight. When I married my French husband, Pascal, in 2008, I wasn't at my thinnest. I suffered a bout of depression after losing my television company the previous year, and had gone up to a size 14."

Blimey...what a porker! I'll bet your internal organs were breathing a sigh of relief to finally be given the nutrients they need..

"Luckily for me, there is no better weight-loss incentive than a Frenchman. Pascal would not tolerate a fat wife and has told me that if I put on weight, our marriage is over. What more motivation do I need?"

You don't need motivation, you need couples counselling! Also looking at the photo of you two, perhaps he should put the same rigorous conditions on himself. The large belly is not indicative of a healthy diet, and he could have at least had the respect for you to have had a bit of a shave and tidy up before being photographed with you for a national newspaper.

"Today I am a size 12 and I never eat between meals. Elevenses isn't an excuse to gorge on carbs - it's just another hour on the clock."

Many others live by the same self discipline and don't feel the need to spout such rubbish. You are misguided if you think the rest of the nation are gorging on carbs mid morning. The majority are hard at work earning a living or raising their families. The majority of people don't have time to stop at eleven for a snack.

"Typically, I eat porridge for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and meat or fish with vegetables for dinner. Occasionally I allow myself some cheese, and I often have a yoghurt after dinner."

Well, it sounds like someone made your realise that protien is essential. You *allow* yourself some cheese, or even a yoghurt? blimey! reckless! I do wonder if you drink? Do you *allow* yourself that glass of wine?

"I maintain a food diary. I never shop when I'm hungry, I always read the packaging, and I weigh myself every other day."

I also have successfully kept a food diary, and discovered certain foods that made me ill. I never shop when hungry as being hungry is a sign of poor nutrition and will be adressed. I always read packaging, to check the food I am buying is ethical. I also try to buy things with minimal packaging. I also weigh myself once a week when the mood takes me. Obsessing about your weight is pointless when you are healthy!

"Like my female French in-laws, I follow an extreme low-calorie diet four times a year - one each season. I lose at least half-a-stone each time, though the side-effects mean that I don't have the mental or physical fortitude to work."

Surely this is showing you that it is a stupid way to treat your body? Side effects of a good diet should be more energy, clarity of mind and clear skin! Not an inability to work!

"The world admonished Kate Moss for claiming that 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' but I'd go further. As I see it, there is nothing in life that signifies failure better than fat."

Shall we ask the many beautiful "fat" celebs out there? By "fat" I man your bench mark for "fat"! Lets call Nigella, Dawn and Adele to the stand! I feel their success, vibrancy and beauty far outshines yours, missy!

For what it is worth I feel almost certain the Samantha Brick is a parody of today's celebrity attitudes. I think she is a joke! But if there is one grain of truth in these opinions of hers I would want my daughter (and son for that matter) shielded from them.

I would wish you, my darling daughter, to grow up to be happy, healthy and full of life.

I'd like to quote Joan Collins myself, "yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that is why it is called the present". Life is too short to spend it moithering about your weight.

Follow the simple ideals you have been brought up with and you will always have the correct figure for good health. Maintain a balanced diet and you will be able to continue with the metabloism you are blessed with. Indulge in life's little treats but do it in moderation. Keep an eye on the ethical aspects of what is on your plate. All in all do not conform to the perception of the "ideal".

Be yourself and you will always be beautiful.

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.”



16:46:18 05-08-2013

busy buzzy bumble bee

Category: merionwen's musings

There is never enough hours in the day here at Merionwen Towers.

I have been popping things into the shop as an when I can. However, this also involves a lot of backstage organising. There is the shop, pifs (product information files), EO sensitisers to work out and lets not forget the new EU fun and games of uploading all information on a spanking new EU cosmetics notification portal. All this to make sure that every thing is in place the way it should be.

However, that is not all that is happening here at the towers. I am also completing a few courses. I do love to learn and research. I already have a few relevant qualifications but I like to tick boxes and make sure I am fully informed. I have to date a HND in phytotherapy (master herbalism); and high level diplomas in a variety of other therapies; massage, cosmetology, aromatherapy, hot stone massage, anatomy and physiology to name a few. My long term goal is to secure a HND in clinical nutrition and a BSc in phytotherapy.

All in all this makes for a very busy bee, but I am loving it.

Perhaps it is time I told you a bit more about myself?

Well, I am a mum of two splendid kids and devoted my early twenties to them. When I went back to work I forged a career in the history and heritage sector. I often found myself playing a medieval or tudor herbalist and found a new love of herbs and all things natural.

I had always loved the more natural way of life and had been a keen gardener for many years. I have always been aware of what I was putting into my body and what I was putting on my skin.

In this particular sector I found myself tasked with growing a medieval herb and pleasure garden. I went about it by researching the appropriate plants and herbs and why we used them. My knowledge base grew as did my passion.

Then due to unforeseen circumstances my life took a bit of a left turn. I gave up my much loved job to concentrate on my children, home life and health.

I found myself floundering and in need of something to stimulate my passions for nature and it's relationship with human health.

In the next couple of years I completed my HND in phytotherapy. This grew into further training and qualifications in complementary therapies including cosmetology.

And that, dear reader leads us nicely to here.

I am now the proud owner of a growing business. A successful complementary therapist and an eternal student.

I don't think I will ever stop learning. But it makes me happy.

Next up I think will be advanced reflexology, botany, horticulture and of course the HND and BSC. (I have an extensive list).

Everyone needs a hobby, right?

23:19:10 17-07-2013

'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.

12:55:58 16-07-2013

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

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.

19:37:04 20-06-2013

techie heaven

Category: merionwen's musings

The techie team at Merionwen Towers are happy bunnies today.

We have taken delivery of some exciting new equipment. Funded by the hugely successful crowdfunder pitch.

Chief tech wizard, the barefooted one, is busy unloading and positioning. He is itching and waiting to get his paws on the tech and make it do his bidding. Unfortunately, it is the middle of the working day and he will have to wait just a few short hours until he can play.

We have become the proud owners of a silhouette cameo and a spanking new laser printer. This exciting new addition will enable us to keep all packaging and labels in house. Affording us the luxury of entire control. We don't have to conform to standard shapes or colour, and will be able to do justice to the remarkable and wonderful designs provided by the talented Ann Lewis. Square labels? Pah! We laugh in the face of normal!

This weekend we are planning a marathon photography session. I consider myself very lucky that even this can be done to a professional standard in house. There is clearly no limit to the barefoot one's talents! Heck, he can even put together the perfect sarnie, and his tea is the business.

So a big hurrah for the Barefoot boy. Techie wizard, accounts manager, chief guinea pig, photographer and tea boy. What a guy!

13:50:33 18-06-2013

welcome to the blog

Category: merionwen's musings

Hello and welcome to the all new 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.

It is my honour and privileged to be able to share with you the path to wonderful skincare.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those who have assisted me in my quest to reach this point.

Thank you to Andrew Howard for his assistance and expertise in building this beautiful website. I also owe him heartfelt thanks for his unfailing belief in me, not to mention his willingness to be my primary guinea pig. He seems to take great delight in making himself available to be smothered in creams, lotions and potions. He never complains and is open and honest with constructive advice.

Thank you to Ann Lewis for her inspired artistic vision. She has a true and remarkable talent and I feel very lucky that she has shared it with me.

Thank you to Star Khechara, and the school of holistic cosmetology. A truly inspirational mentor who has given me the confidence, training and knowledge to be able to make my dream a reality.

Last but by no means least, thanks also goes to every one of my customers past, present and future. You are all WONDERFUL!


13:16:44 13-06-2013