El Huerto de San Lucas, Madrid

El Huerto de Lucas

This was a delight to find in my neighbourhood! An organic emporium, albeit not on the scale of a Wholefoods Market but much quainter and with a more local, community feel.

El Huerto de Lucas in Calle San Lucas is a ‘green’ haven in the centre of Chueca, a now gentrified area once known for its grimy, seedy streets. Upon entering you are met with walls of plants pots sprouting bright, fresh, green leaves; the space then opens up into the main market area (La Cantina) which is luminous. There are various counters selling organic fruit, veg, meat and cheese; a bakery supplied by Harina, a salad bar and drinks bar. The food is created by well-known Spanish chef Javier Muñoz-Calero using 100% organic ingredients.


Near the entrance is an organic beauty and food shop too that caught my eye plus a therapy centre for massages, facials and manicures. I love the way you can buy the bath salts and handmade soaps by weight!

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The concept is an eco-gastro-cultural-marketspace! Even the design of the space, the building materials used in its construction and furniture are all eco-friendly, using locally sourced wood and stone or using paints that are chemical-emission free. On top of this the plentiful use of fresh plants and natural light create an atmosphere of well-being.


So this will become my new haunt for juices and fresh, organic salads, which up until very recently have been hard to come by in Madrid.
Its great that the Madrileños appear to be catching onto the ‘green’, ‘eco-friendly’ bandwagon, let’s hope that this gem inspires a keener interest in eco-lifestyles and practices in the city!
Visit http://www.elhuertodesanlucas.com

Neroli firming day face cream SP15


I have been using this face cream since I bought it on a recent trip to London (you can buy it in Boots) and I LOVE it!  It smells divine, its the neroli essential oil that it contains. Neroli essential oil is known in skincare for its rejuvenating and regenerative properties, helping to promote smooth skin and alleviate stretch marks and broken capillaries. The oil is extracted from the small white blossom flowers of the Bitter Orange Tree. It is excellent for calming the mind and body in times of stress or anxiety, promoting a sense of tranquility and ease, it can also be used during pregnancy (in moderation) as it induces relaxation and is a useful uterine tonic.

But back to the cream!  So I have found this cream a delight to use, it doesn’t thankfully contain any parabens, mineral oils or synthetic fragrances. The texture and consistency is creamy but light and it glides beautifully onto the skin and the smell, the smell is wonderful, uplifting and yet calming!  It has a an SPF of 15 which whilst I am wary of sunscreen chemicals is helpful in the summer months. It works well under makeup too as it doesn’t leave any greasy film.

Una Brennan certainly is a ‘Super Facialist’!  www.superfacialist.co.uk


10 Ingredients to Avoid in Cosmetics

On the back of any beauty product you buy there is a list of ingredients that to the majority of people are either ignored or seen as a series of unknown, unpronounceable names.  However it is worth taking the time to recognise and remember some of these substances as they are really best avoided if at all possible.

The great website Organic Beauty Talk  lists 10 ingredients that you should make a note to be aware of in any beauty product that you buy/use from shampoo to lipbalm.

1)Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40): a very drying and irritating solvent and dehydrator that strips your skin’s moisture and natural immune barrier, making you more venerable to bacteria, molds and viruses. It is made from propylene, a petroleum derivative and is found in many skin and hair products, fragrance, antibacterial hand washes as well as shellac and antifreeze. It can act as a “carrier” accelerating the penetration of other harmful chemicals into your skin. It may promote brown spots and premature aging of skin. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients says it may cause headaches, flushing, dizziness, mental depression, nausea, vomiting, narcosis, anesthesia, and coma. Fatal ingested dose is one ounce or less.

2)DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine) & TEA  (triethanolamine): hormone-disrupting chemicals that can form cancer-causing nitrates and nitrosamines. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic effects. In the United States however, they are still used despite the fact that Americans may be exposed to them 10-20 times per day with products such as shampoos, shaving creams and bubble baths. Dr. Samuel Epstein (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Illinois) says that repeated skin applications…. of DEA-based detergents resulted in major increase in incidence of liver and kidney cancer. The FDA’s John Bailey says this is especially important since “the risk equation changes significantly for children”.

3)DMDM Hydantion & Urea (Imidazolidinyl): just two of many preservatives that often release formaldehyde which may cause joint pain, skin reactions, allergies, depression, headaches, chest pains, ear infections, chronic fatigue, dizziness, and loss of sleep. Exposure may also irritate the respiratory system, trigger heart palpitations or asthma, and aggravate coughs and colds. Other possible side effects include weakening  the immune system and cancer.

4)FD&C Color Pigments: synthetic colors made from coal tar, containing heavy metal salts that deposit toxins into the skin, causing skin sensitivity and irritation. Absorption of certain colors can cause depletion of oxygen in the body and death. Animal studies have shown almost all of them to be carcinogenic.

5)Fragrances: mostly synthetic ingredients can indicate the presence of up to four thousand separate ingredients, many toxic or carcinogenic. Symptoms reported to the FDA include headaches, dizziness, allergic rashes, skin discoloration, violent coughing and vomiting, and skin irritation. Clinical observation proves fragrances can affect the central nervous system, causing depression, hyperactivity, irritability, inability to cope, and other behavioral changes.
Alternative – Organic Essential Oils.

6)Mineral Oil: petroleum by-product that coats the skin like plastic, clogging the pores. Interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, promoting acne and other disorders. Slows down skin function and cell development, resulting in premature aging. Used in many products such as baby oil which is 100% mineral oil!
Alternatives  – Moisture Magnets (Saccharide Isomerate) from beets; Ceramides, Jojoba and other vegetable oils, etc.

7)Polyethylene Glycol (PEG): potentially carcinogenic petroleum ingredient that can alter and reduce the skin’s natural moisture factor. This could increase the appearance of aging and leave you more vulnerable to bacteria. Used in cleansers to dissolve oil and grease. It adjusts the melting point and thickens products. Also used in caustic spray-on oven cleaners.

8)Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol: gaseous hydrocarbons which in a liquid state act as “surfactant” (wetting olagents and solvents). They easily penetrate the skin and can weaken protein and cellular structure. Commonly used to make extracts from herbs. PG is strong enough to remove barnacles from boats! The EPA considers PG so toxic that it requires workers to wear protective gloves, clothing and goggles and to dispose of any PG solutions by burying them in the ground. Because PG penetrates the skin so quickly, the EPA warns against skin contact to prevent consequences such as brain, liver, and kidney abnormalities. But there isn’t even a warning label on products such as stick deodorants, where the concentration is greater than in most industrial applications.
Alternatives – water extracted herbs, Therapeutic Essential Oils, etc.

9)Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): detergents and surfactants that pose serious health threats. Used in car washes, garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers – and in 90% of personal-care products that foam. Animals exposed to SLS experience eye damage, depression, labored breathing, diarrhea, severe skin irritation, and even death. Young eyes may not develop properly if exposed to SLS because proteins are dissolved. SLS may also damage the skins immune system by causing layers to separate and inflame. When combined with other chemicals, SLS can be transformed into nitrosamines, a potent class of carcinogens. Your body may retain the SLS for up to five days, during which tie it may enter and maintain residual levels in the heart, liver, the lungs, and the brain.
Alternative – Ammonium Cocoyl Isethionate.

10)Triclosan: a synthetic “antibacterial” ingredient – with a chemical structure similar to Agent Orange! The EPA registers it as a pesticide, giving it high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It is classified as a chlorophenol, a class of chemicals suspected of causing cancer in humans. Its manufacturing process may produce dioxin, a powerful hormone-disrupting chemical with toxic effects measured in the parts per trillion; that is only one drop in 300 Olympic-size swimming pools! Hormone disruptors pose enormous long-term chronic health risks by interfering with the way hormones perform, such as changing genetic material, decreasing fertility and sexual function, and fostering birth defects. It can temporarily deactivate sensory nerve endings, so contact with it often causes little or no pain. Internally, it can lead to cold sweats, circulatory collapse, and convulsions. Stored in body fat, it can accumulate to toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidneys and lungs and can cause paralysis, suppression of immune function,brain hemorrhages, and heart problems. Tufts University School of Medicine says that triclosan is capable of forcing the emergence of “super bugs” that it cannot kill. Its widespread use in popular antibacterial cleaners, tooth pasts and household products may have nightmare implications for our future.
Alternative – Therapeutic Essential Oils.

Full article here.

Crème du Jour, anti-age, SO’BiO etic

There are tons of anti-ageing creams on the market, many with dubious ingredients in. The latest daycream I have bought to try is this pictured below by Lea Nature, a French company.


Their products under the brand name ‘SO’BiO etic‘ are certified by ‘Ecocert’ and do not contain any parabens, mineral oils, silicon or synthetic fragrance.


It contains organic argan oil and hyaluronic acid to help combat skin-ageing by maintaining the skin’s hydration levels in the epidermis.
The cream is medium consistency and has little smell. It glides on the skin well with good absorption. My mother is trying it and so I will update with the results of use over time.
The price is very reasonable, at under 15 euros (£12) let’s hope that it does the job!

Summer Sprays

I love my essential oils and marvel at the sometimes little-known power of them. With the heat of the summer approaching here in Madrid, the use of cooling sprays is a delight.citronella. Essential oils of citronella and lemongrass have been used for years to ward off insects, midges and mosquitos.  They also help to purify the air. For keeping midges at bay during the hot evenings I make a spray blend with citronella and lemongrass essential oils. BLueGlassSprayAroma You need:

  • an empty spray bottle, dark coloured glass is best, but plastic will do (150ml).
  • A little of the purest alcohol, vodka is fine, also vodka has no smell to interfere with the oils.

Method:  Add a small amount of vodka, about a tablespoon to the 150ml bottle, fill with water almost to the top, then add about 3-5 drops of each oil. Shake the bottle (lid on!) vigorously to disperse the oil in the water, the alcohol facilitates this. Et voila, your spray is ready!

I keep mine in a cool place and spray around my bedroom at night and on myself.  It does work and its all natural, no harsh chemicals in sight!  Just water, alcohol and plant oil!

I recommend the following sites to buy good quality essential oils.

Julia Lawless Essential Oils

Absolute Aromas gardenparty,social,landscape,wishes,garden,summerevening