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Spotlight on Sweet Marjoram


Botanical Name (origanum majorana)

Marjoram, commonly known as sweet marjoram, is a green bushy plant native to the Mediterranean region but can be found in most herb gardens. It has a woody herbaceous aroma.

Sweet, warm and protective are the words that best describe sweet marjoram for me.

It is naturally anti-septic and contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol which has anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.

In a recent clinical study into the chemical content, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of marjoram essential oil, it was concluded that the essential oils of marjoram may be an alternative source of natural antibacterial and antioxidant agents.*

I chose sweet marjoram as a companion to my “warrior” oils – ravintsara and niaouli in my Carry-on Travel oil.


Sweet marjoram has been used since Ancient Times as a culinary and medicinal herb,

17th century physician and herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper wrote of sweet marjoram,

Our common sweet marjoram is warming and comforting in cold diseases of the head and stomach sinews”.

The Ancient Greeks called it the ‘funeral’ herb and planted it on graves to bring spiritual peace to both the living and the dead. It was also seen to represent peace and harmony and was used to make wreaths.


Firstly, sweet marjoram oil is wonderful to ease abdominal cramps or trapped wind. Put 5 drops of the oil in a tablespoon of sweet almond, coconut or sunflower oil and massage gently in circular movements in a clockwise direction on the abdomen. Cover with a warm hot water bottle and relax. It really helps to soothe the cramps**

Good for period cramps too.

The same formula can be applied to aching joints but I would add lavender to the mix for extra anti-inflammatory effects and pain relief.

To aid relaxation and promote sleep, lavender and sweet marjoram work really well together. I put 3 drops of each oil into an egg cup of sunflower, jojoba or sweet almond oil and add to a pre-run warm bath or use as a bedtime massage oil**

I use sweet marjoram frequently when cooking due to its high anti-oxidant properties. It is a good addition when cooking pulses. Helps to ease the ‘wind factor’!


In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:




Muscle relaxant



Anti- spasmodic


Brings a sense of calm and peace.

It helps to aid mental and emotional fatigue or ‘overthinking’ by settling any nervous tension and anxiety. It is a comfort to the lonely or those suffering from grief.


Non-sensitising and non-irritating to the skin.

Do not use directly on the skin but blend with a carrier oil ( e.g. sweet almond, coconut, sunflower, jojoba etc..)

Not to be used when pregnant.


* Reference:

**Not to be used when pregnant.

Spotlight on Powerful Ravintsara


Botanical Name (Cinnamonum Camphora Cineoliferum)


A key ingredient in my Carry-on Travel Oil is Ravintsara oil. A Native of Madagascar, this powerful oil is distilled from the leaves or this great rainforest tree. It has a fresh, medicinal aroma. I use it often and see it as the great protector.

I discovered Ravintsara oil 9 years ago when a friend brought me a bottle back from a trip to Madagascar. This mysterious island with its unique flora and fauna has always had a fascination for me and the oil itself was a revelation.

Just by smelling it you get the sense that the strong ‘punchy’ aroma is powerful. In its chemistry it contains an oxide called 1,8 cineole that is historically known to be anti-viral, anti- bacterial and an immune stimulant. This oxide is also found in more common oils such as Eucalyptus and Tea Tree.


Historically, it holds a place in traditional folk medicine in Madagascar. The ravintsara leaves were used to fight flu, headaches and infections.  Known by the Magasy people as “gold leaf” – The bark and leaves were burnt for their aroma or used as a tea to fight infections.


In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:


  • Anti-septic
  • Anti- viral
  • Anti – bacterial
  • De-congestant
  • Immune stimulant
  • Headache relief


I call it The Warrior Oil – It is stimulating. It boosts energy and positivity. It makes you feel protected. Also helps to calm and soothe the nerves.


If you feel you are getting a cold, put 2 drops on a tissue – and breathe in during the day. You can also leave the oil infused tissue at your desk by your computer screen.

It is also a very good to kick start the day. Put a few drops on the floor of your shower before you step in. It will really wake you up!

When I am travelling, I bring Ravintsara and Bergamot oils. As soon as I check in to a hotel, I put hot water the hand basin, sprinkle 3 drops of each oil and leave it there for a few hours. Not only does it make the room smell divine, the aroma is giving you a natural support.

It can also be beneficial as a steam blend to aid sinus congestion, I put 3 drops of Lavender and 2 of Ravintsara into a bowl of hot water (not too hot!) Place a towel over your head and the bowl, close your eyes and breathe. Do this for a few minutes twice a day. It really clears the head and can help to relieve the sinus congestion. The lavender is also analgesic which can help ease the pain. I have done this when I want to stop sinus congestion developing into an infection. I find it really helpful.

For a room diffuser, I would put in 4-6 drops of oil. On its own the aroma can be too strong so I experiment with other oils to soften it, by adding a citrus oil like Bergamot or lemon, another woody oil like Juniper or a more grounding oil like Frankincense to balance the blend.


  • As an inhalation it is non–irritating and well tolerated by adults.
  • Can affect those with severe asthma condition.
  • Not to be used undiluted on the skin.
  • Not suitable for children under 5
  • It is stimulating so don’t use it at night.




Spotlight on Vetiver


A key ingredient in our newly launched Flora + Fiona Velvet Skin Body Oil Vetiver is a great stress reliever long renowned to aid sleep. In this blog post we turn the spotlight on this oil distilled from the roots of a wild grass that grows in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar.


Botanical Name (vetiveria zizanoides)

Vetiver is a wild grass that grows in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar. The oil is distilled from the root of the grass.

Vetiver is my number one oil to relieve stress, to feel calm, relaxed, to aid sleep and to be at one with the world. In addition, because it comes from the root of a grass, it is a wonderful oil to make you feel grounded and balanced.

As with Ravintsara, a friend brought me a bottle back from a trip to Madagascar and the Vetiver was truly enchanting. I had never smelt anything quite like it. It has a deep, smoky and earthy aroma, and has a depth to it that is hard to define. Oils like this are always special and a little unpredictable.

It has cooling properties and is used in India to alleviate fevers. This makes it helpful in cooling sprays during hot flushes in the menopause.

It is very safe to use on the skin and is often used as a perfume either directly on the skin or mixed with a little jojoba oil.

It is very soothing and healing on the skin with anti-inflammatory properties. I have put it for this reason into both my facial oil and body oil but also for its profoundly calming effect on the emotions.

It has the added bonus in my body oil of acting as an insect repellent.


Known as the “Oil of Tranquility” Vetiver has been used for centuries for its aromatic properties. The dried grass and roots are woven into shades and blinds for houses which are cooling and fragrant while being anti-septic and acting as an insect repellent. It has been traditionally used in India and Sri Lanka as cooling oil to alleviate fevers and relieve headaches. It is anti-inflammatory properties also help as a balm or ointment for arthritis and aching joints.


In Aromatherapy the oil is valued for its many therapeutic properties:

  • Anti-septic
  • Promotes scar healing and tissue repair
  • Sedative
  • Anti- depressant
  • Cooling
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Deeply comforting.
  • Eases the over thinking and frazzled mind when you feel overburdened and exhausted. It brings you to a quiet gentle place – to sleep and return to your natural rhythm.

I love using this oil.  It clears all thoughts and brings such a sense of wellbeing.

For the bath before bedtime, it is a perfect choice. You are sleepy and relaxed, a perfect way to get a good night’s sleep.

It blends really well with many floral oils so it is good to try and experiment with the various options. I often put 3 drops of vetiver, 1 drop of rose or neroli (orange blossom) or jasmine. (1 drop of each if you are feeling extravagant. They are costly oils!) Add them to a dessertspoon of carrier oil and pour into a pre-run bath.

Soak for 10 minutes. No noise no distraction.

Vetiver is also good with lavender or bergamot – or if you want to go for the heady and the exotic, ylang ylang oil works wonderfully with it too.

This bath blend also makes lovely body oil for massage at bedtime. As well as its sedative action, it is also anti-inflammatory and soothing for any skin irritation.

I use jojoba oil as the carrier oil. It is not too greasy and is also very nourishing for the skin. This is why it has been blended with Egyptian Jasmine Blossom Prickly Pear, Black Cumin Seed, Calendula and Rosehip seed oils to create Flora + Fiona Velvet Skin Body Oil.  They are all rich in vitamins, omegas 3,6,9, and antioxidants with wonderful benefits to heal and soothe skin conditions.


Is skin safe oil and not know to cause any irritation.


Lots of people have been asking me how I would recommend using my facial oil.

To start:

Remove all make-up.

Put 3-4 drops onto the palm of your hand and rub together gently. (If you are using the roller ball, roll on your fingertips with circular movements to release the oil and rub together).

Hold your palms up to the front of the face and breathe in the natural aroma of the oils. For me this is the best part. Breathe in deeply and inhale the natural fragrance of the oils, creating a wonderful feeling of wellbeing.

Then, massage onto the face, neckline and décolletage with gentle upward movements. Be very careful around the eye area and just pat this delicate area with the fingertips.

Take as much time as you can, even if it’s just a minute or two, these are valuable moments to enjoy the touch and aroma sensations with these natural oils. Remember, it’s all part of caring for yourself and your skin and giving a little time to tune into nature and all its gifts.
When you are using pure plant oils, you will notice a visible radiance and glow to the skin. I have chosen some of favourite essential oils, Jasmine, Vetiver and Red Orange because they are deeply comforting and soothing and have mood enhancing properties that help to calm the mind and soothe the skin.  I have also added 5 other plant oils which are easily absorbed and packed with vitamin A, C and E, antioxidants and the Omegas, so necessary for the skin to be nourished and hydrated.

So when are my favourite times to use the Facial Oil?

Firstly, I use the oil post shower in the morning on damp skin. It gives me a positive start to the day and works well as a primer before make-up. My husband uses it after shaving as a skin balm.

But for me, my special time with the facial oil is the night-time ritual I have developed so that I take some precious time for myself. The bottle is on my bedside table and because the oils are calming and grounding, they are a perfect way for me to end the day.

Take a moment and feel beautiful with botanical oils.

The Facial oil comes in a 30ml bottle or a convenient rollerball bottle. To link to shop: FLORA +FIONA Facial Oil


Guest Blogger, Andrea Butje shares recipe for an energising shower gel

I am delighted to have a guest blog from one of the world’s leading aromatherapists and educators, Andrea Butje. Andrea, based in Florida,  is founder of the renowned Aromatherapy on-line training college, Aromahead. She also writes an informative and inspiring blog.  If you would like to learn more about aromatherapy and the use of essential oils, have a look at link below to Andrea’s new book, The Heart of Aromatherapy – just launched and full of recipes and information.

She shares some thoughts and a recipe for an aromatherapy shower blend:

Make your own: luxe morning shower blend

 Turn your morning shower into a calming, centering ritual with guest blogger, aromatherapist and author Andrea Butje’s home made Sweet Orange and Balsam Fir Essential Oils Shower Gel Recipe

Rain showers are so rejuvenating! They leave the earth fresh, fragrant, and nourished from the outside in. The water washes away all the dust and dirt, and everything comes out clean and renewed.

You could say the same thing about your daily shower. It can help you feel revitalized and centered no matter what time of day you take it. A morning shower can set you up to go through your day feeling your best, and showering in the evening can help your body and mind relax after a long day.

If you’re concerned about the ingredients in your body care products, you can make your own shower gel with essential oils, and then you won’t have to worry! Certain essential oils can add to the emotionally balancing effects of a shower, while offering nourishment to your skin.

Here’s a rejuvenating recipe for homemade shower gel with rejuvenating essential oils

Sweet Orange & Balsam Fir Shower Gel

  • 1 oz (30 ml) aloe vera gel (Aloe barbadensis)
  • 7 drops Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)
  • 6 drops Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea)
  • 3 drops Geranium (Pelargonium × asperum)

Make your blend in a 1 oz (30 ml) PET plastic bottle with a flip-top. (For shower blends, it’s safer than glass and is a non-reactive plastic that doesn’t leach.) You can just pour your aloe into the bottle, and then add your essential oils. Close the lid and shake gently. I recommend making this blend fresh every few weeks.

This homemade shower gel works in several ways to help balance your emotions. Sweet Orange is uplifting and calming, Balsam Fir has a centering presence, and just three drops of Geranium are enough to offer a comforting, heart-opening effect. The three oils work together to enhance one another’s properties.

Take a moment: A shower is an essential start to the day, often lost in the morning rush. Tomorrow, make it a tiny, life affirming ritual. Use an oil blend like this one, and breathe in the calming, centering aroma, for an amazing start to your day.



Aroma Magic: three blends to transform your mood

Aroma Magic: three aromatherapy oil blends with the power to transform your mood

For many years in my work as clinical aromatherapist I have witnessed, first hand, the ‘magical’ effect oils can have on your life.

I LOVE using essential oils and want everyone to experience their powerful effects for themselves. Essential oils can help to relieve stress, increase energy, boost the immune system, lift the spirits, help you sleep, keep you awake, ease pains and aches, bring you joy, clear your head, keep you calm, make you smile. And that’s just the beginning…

Too often, in the rush of daily life, we overlook the power and pleasure that scent can bring to our lives. One of the reasons why I became an aromatherapist is the ability of scent to evoke memories and to lift the spirits and the mood. For me, that means whenever I smell roses, I am brought back to my grandmother’s garden with my cousins, aged 4, making perfume in jam jars from rose petals. The memory and the scent transport me once more to those happy moments.

What makes scent special is that it makes you stop what you are doing – and insist that you take time-out to breathe in the aroma. When you inhale the oil, that’s when the magic begins. One of the quickest ways to give yourself a lift with aromatherapy is to keep some essential oils in your bag or purse, on a tissue. Here are my favourite go-to aromatherapy blends to enhance your mood throughout the day.

  1. To lift the spirits

Put 2 drops of Bergamot essential oil on a tissue and breathe it in deeply a few times during the day. Wonderfully refreshing, with a citrus and floral undertone, Bergamot always helps me to relax and “let go” a little.

I also like to put the bergamot-scented tissue in my car so that the beautiful aroma fills the space and makes the drive a much happier experience.

  1. To calm down

Add 2 drops of ylang ylang essential oil to a tissue.

Take three deep breaths breathing in the beautiful aroma of the exotic ylang ylang flower. The effect is immediate. Your anxiety lessens, your blood pressure lowers and you begin to feel calmer. This really works when you are nervous or anxious.

  1. To focus and energise

Really good when you need to stay awake, meet a deadline or just keep going. Add 2 drops of Rosemary and 1 drop of lemon to a tissue. Inhale slowly and you will soon feel stimulated and more alert.

Take a moment: Just remember, wherever you are, stop and make time for the magic of scent.

FLORA – it is all about FLORA

My love for plant oils and art is all rolled into one in Flora, the Goddess of Spring in Botticelli’s exquisite, Primavera.  

I spent ages trying to think of a name for my new products. When I thought about it, I realised it has always been about Flora – the plant kingdom, the goddess…she is always there – For me, everything begins and ends with her –

So the name became FLORA + FIONA.

Working with plant oils, understanding their chemistry and their therapeutic properties is fascinating.  When creating my oil formulations, I am always respectful of the origin and purity of the oils, I believe that when it comes to beauty, choosing a simple, natural formulation is the best choice.   The products work, you feel wonderful and it is true, less is always more.

Inspiration from the garden

This Spring a heather in the garden bloomed for the first time with beautiful star-like flowers.

The stunning photo taken by Anne-Louise Kelly was the inspiration for my logo. I wanted to create a feeling of being in a meadow surrounded by beautiful flowers.

It makes me smile every time I look at it.