EVER HEARD OF ALTAI OBLEPIKHA? NATURA SIBERICA HAS THE ANSWER

For those of you who are regulars to Fresh Beauty Fix you’ll have heard of Natura Siberica, the Russian-born natural skincare brand using Siberian wild herbs to treat skin concerns. I discovered Natura Siberica in Wholefoods and got in touch with the brand’s UK distributor to find out more (check out my Q&A with Carolyn, Media Manager at Nature’s Dream to read more). Having never heard of the brand before I was pleasantly surprised at the pretty packaging, natural and organic certifications, affordability of the range and above all how good the formulas felt on my skin. So of course the next step was to trial a hair and body care range. I’ve made no secret of my penchant for miniature toiletries (five years in the hotel amenities business will do that to you), and as my summer holidays were fast approaching, Natura Siberica’s Oblepikha Travel Kit seemed the perfect collection of products to test.

Four Four Natura Siberica mini toiletries on a stone background

The Travel Kit

In this compact travel kit you receive 4 mini 50ml bottles: shampoo, hair conditioner, shower gel and body lotion – the basics needed for any trip away from home. Travel sizes for these types of products will typically range from 25ml to 60ml and I find 50ml the most convenient for a one-week holiday. For a mini break the 30ml dose is plenty. Although a travel kit can rarely be considered as the best example of sustainable packaging – mini sizes and additional outer packaging by their very nature aren’t really green – at least the cardboard box is simple in design without any excess, and you can reuse the bottles once empty (and cleaned) to decant your favourite lotions into. I’ve already sung the praises of Natura Siberica’s pretty packaging and this travel kit is no exception: the lovely bright turquoise and orange berries pattern with touches of gold is attention grabbing without being gaudy.

The Star Ingredient

Ever heard of Altai Oblepikha? No me neither. But then doing a little research I discovered that this Siberian berry is also referred to as Sea Buckthorn and that definitely sounded familiar. I’ve come across this ingredient in a couple of products already such as I Love Skin Scar Oil and now it’s piqued my interest. Buckthorn oil comes from orange berries (as illustrated in the range’s pretty pattern) that grow in parts of Europe and Asia and has traditionally been part of Russian natural medicine way before westerners discovered its benefits, ranging from regenerating skin to strengthening hair and healing wounds. No wonder it’s a popular ingredient in skincare and hair care.

Natura Siberica travel kit on a stone ledge

Oblepikha Nutrition & Repair Shampoo

The shampoo comes in a milky peachy colour that reflects the colour of the Sea Buckthorn berry. Ideal for weak, dyed, highlighted or damaged hair, the formula is enriched with the ubiquitous Sea Buckthorn Oil which helps to strengthen hair, while Moroccan Argan Oil gives hair its shine and Siberian Flaxseed Oil helps hair retain moisture. All sounds great, however the moment I open the bottle I’m greeted with the strong smell of what seems like fake orange sweets. Very odd. Is that what Sea Buckthorn Oil smells like? Not from what I can see from a quick online search, where the oil is described as ‘moist wood’ or with a ‘strong musky scent’. That doesn’t really fit with what my nose is experiencing, so I can only imagine it’s one of the other natural oils or a combination of them that produces this unique scent. The good news is that it doesn’t linger on your hair, which is left gently cleansed – rather than stripped of its natural oils – and moisturised.

Oblepikha Nutrition & Repair Conditioner

This conditioner complements the shampoo by offering similar benefits: repairing damaged hair and sealing the hair surface with a protective layer. For some reason the conditioner bottle is the only product in this set that comes with a push down cap that flips open rather than a standard screw cap. Not sure why as the plastic of the bottle is so thick and sturdy that I can’t squeeze the conditioner out with one hand, I need both hands to wrestle with it before I’m able to get product out. As with the shampoo (and shower gel and body lotion) I’m surprised by this unexpected artificially sweet medicinal fragrance, however the formula itself is pleasingly thick (I’m not really a fan of thin runny conditioners) and once dry my hair feels super soft, sleek and tame, without any residual scent other than that of freshly washed hair.

Travel size toiletries on a rock surrounded by plants

Oblepikha Energizing Freshness Shower Gel

Enriched in radiance-boosting and hydrating vitamin C and antioxidant vitamin E, as well as Sea Buckthorm, Cranberry and Cedar Oils, the shower gel feels hydrating: only minimal tightness once skin is dry and no irritation thanks to a gentle formula. As with most products the effectiveness of an ingredient will depend on its concentration. So how much Sea Buckthorn Oil do you need exactly for your skin to reap any of its benefits? Of course the pure oil is likely to deliver more visible results than if it’s diluted with many other components, and with a wash off product (shower gel) rather than stay on (like body lotion) the effects are probably limited. The star ingredient is featured quite high up in the list of ingredients, under its scientific name Hippophae rhamnoides: it’s the 6th ingredient and the first oil.

Four mini toiletries on a stone ledge with flowers and a plant pot

Oblepikha Nutrition & Hydration Body Milk

To complete the mini collection, the white creamy body milk features Macadamia and Moroccan Argan Oils for nourished and moisturised skin. The formula is quite thin which goes against my usual preference for thicker creams, however for a milk this feels like a pleasant texture, and as with the conditioner, the bottle is so sturdy that if it was thick I’d really struggle to get it out. With a low viscosity the milk is easily absorbed into skin, leaving just soft nourished skin.

At £9.99 for the set that works out at just under £2.50 per bottle, all of which I’d consider travel staples so it feels pretty good value. The odd sweet scent isn’t for me but that is down to personal taste, and as it didn’t leave any scent on my skin or hair it wasn’t a barrier for me to continue using all four products throughout my holiday. Which brands and products do you turn to as your travel essentials? Leave a comment below to let me know.

Features gifted products.

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