NIU BODY

Founded in 2017 by Laura Burget and Connie Lo, NIU BODY is an independent producer of personal care products. Based in Toronto, the company has focused on making high-quality natural skincare accessible and approachable. Healthy products can be prohibitively expensive –$120 for jar of face mask is not realistic for most people – so Laura and Connie have stripped back the formulas, packaging and branding to create a line of affordable yet effective solutions.

 NIU BODY Founders

NIU BODY Founders

At present the range includes oil-based cleansers, toning mists, serums, face masks, lip polishes, and make-up remover pads. Every item is suitable for vegans, free from parabens, sodium laurel sulphate, alcohol, phthalates, chemicals, colourants, preservatives, fillers, mineral oils, petroleum, and packaged in body-safe, recyclable materials.

I spoke to Connie and Laura recently about inspiration, integrity, and what will come next.


Q&A

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START NIU BODY?

Laura: When I was a student I began using coconut oil as a natural make-up remover. I loved how effective it was, and that it didn’t sting my eyes, but I couldn’t stand how messy it was to use. And the packaging is unappealing to look at on the bathroom counter. I struggled to find a coconut oil-based make-up remover on the market and so I created my own. From this, NIU Body’s first line of cleansing oils was born.

WHY DO YOU FEEL IT’S IMPORTANT TO USE NATURAL INGREDIENTS?

Laura: So much of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream. We need to be more aware of the chemicals that we expose ourselves to through the use of personal care products. There are also so many amazing benefits of botanical ingredients, all of which help to nourish and feed skin.

FROM WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR INGREDIENTS?

Laura: All of our ingredients are sourced from a supplier based here in Toronto. Whenever possible, we intentionally source locally (even if it’s more expensive) as it allows us to have more control over our supply chain and decrease our carbon footprint.

HOW DO YOU KEEP PRODUCTION PROCESSES ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE?

Laura: One of our core company values is integrity. We believe in doing the right thing even when no-one is looking; this applies to our manufacturing processes, too. All of our packaging is 100% recyclable and we minimise our use of plastic wherever possible. We also strive to reduce our waste by recycling and reusing materials used on-site.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR NIU BODY?

Laura: We’re excited to be launching a new aloe and amino acid gel cleanser in the next month. This is our most advanced formula to date and cleanses while replenishing your skin of natural lipids. We also have a few other products in development for next year.

THE SECRET TO RADIANT SKIN IS…

Connie: A combination of a healthy diet, quality sleep, plenty of water, and taking care of your skin every day. (This means removing your make-up before bed, no matter how tired you are…)

WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?

Connie: Quality over quantity. I’ve been really focusing on a eating a wider ranger of whole, nutritious foods.

FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT IN TORONTO:

Connie: Oh, there are so many! If I had to narrow it down, here a few of my favourites: SoSo Food Club (Taiwanese), La Carnita (Mexican), Pai (Thai), Mamakas Taverna (Greek), Enoteca Sociale (Italian), Shoushin (Japanese), Bar Isabel (Spanish).

For brunch: Portland Variety, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen and Bar Reyna.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO MAINTAIN YOUR HEALTH AND WELLBEING?

Connie: I really enjoy exercising to clear my mind and stay focused. I go to the gym 4–5 times a week, and I am currently obsessed with Barry’s Bootcamp and BodyLove Boxing. Spending quality time with friends and family is also extremely important for my well-being. Scheduling ‘me-time’ is crucial for my mental health – this includes pausing my email inbox and disconnecting from technology. Finally, something I’ve been working on is daily meditation. A friend commended the Calm app, and I love it.

WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?

Connie: Quality time with loved ones, exploring new places and immersing myself in new cultures, trying new restaurants and bars, and spending time in nature.



NIU Body | Hydrate Facial Serum

 

With every winter that comes you’re another year older and your skin requires even more help to stay soft and flake-free during the colder months. However, face oils can be quite expensive which is why I was so intrigued about NIU BODY’s affordable line of serums.

Made from a blend of pumpkin seed oil, almond oil, lavender oil and vitamin e, the Hydrate serum is formulated to revitalise dull and tired complexions. The pumpkin seed oil is rich in vitamins and fatty acids while the lavender oil lends it a beautiful (and relaxing) aroma.

 NIU BODY Hydrate Serum | © Helen Pockett

NIU BODY Hydrate Serum | © Helen Pockett

I apply a few drops to my face, neck and chest after cleaning and toning. I don’t wear make-up so I can wear it in the day, but it is a rather heavy oil so might be best used at night before bed. The word ‘dewy’ is overused…but it leaves my skin looking so dewy and, well, hydrated.

The serum is made from organic ingredients, is suitable for vegans and is packaged in glass. As with all oils, it is best kept out of direct sunlight. It is recommended for all skin types.

30ml | $28 | niubody.com


Review sample kindly provided by NIU Body.

 

Celery Juice

There’s something vaguely childish about declaring one’s dislike for a certain food. But I really dislike celery. Lately, though, I’ve been seeing celery juice everywhere (by which I mean, on Instagram). They say that drinking 450ml a day on an empty stomach can ameliorate the symptoms of everything from arthritis and stomach issues to thyroid dysfunction. So, ever the masochist, I’ve been forcing myself to like it. And it’s really not as bad as I thought it would be.

It has a very soft mouth feel, with none of the harsh kick of a greens juice. I’ve been on a low-sodium diet for a few months and the overwhelming flavour was salt – sort of like when you accidentally gulp down a mouthful of seawater. The aftertaste takes a bit of getting used but can be overcome by eating a small piece of fruit. If you find it impossible to drink, lean in by mixing in some apple or cucumber juice, reducing the amount of added juice over time. Better that than trying it once, deciding you hate it and never drinking it again. Whatever works, right?

 Celery Juice | © Helen Pockett

Celery Juice | © Helen Pockett

INGREDIENTS

550g Organic Celery

METHOD

Slice the stalks from the bulb, discarding the yellow leaves in the centre. Wash thoroughly under running cold water to remove soil. Pass the stalks through a juicer on a slow speed. Run the pulp through the juicer again. Sip slowly and wait for 15–20 minutes before eating.

450ml | 1 Serving | 10 Minutes


Livia | TENS Machine

I was diagnosed with endometriosis when I was 16 years old and even though I've lived with it for a long time I'm still never quite prepared for how much pain I'm going to experience. Over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen don't touch it; I was prescribed mefenamic acid but with its numerous side effects it did more harm than good. So I've mainly been relying on a combination of head pads, dietary supplements, distraction techniques and prayer (if crying out 'please god, make it stop' counts as prayer...) Then a few weeks ago I was watching a video about a device that promised to deliver pain-free periods. I had to try it.

 Livia TENS Machine | © Helen Pockett 

Livia TENS Machine | © Helen Pockett 

Livia is essentially a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation machine. When stimulated, nonnociceptive fibres – nerves which can't transmit pain signals – indirectly inhibit the firing of Aδ and C fibres, which in turn inhibits the firing of a projection neuron, therefore blocking the transmission of pain stimuli. TENS machines emit an electrical current to stimulate nonnociceptive fibres – to say that the machine itself stops the pain is too simplistic. The makers of Livia are reluctant to call it a TENS machine, but they do concede that it works on the gate control theory outlined above. It is more expensive than similar devices but, crucially, it is smaller, lighter and far more discreet. It clips on to the waistband of your trousers or skirt and can be worn under clothing, allowing you to go about with your day as normal. 

The electrical current is delivered via two electrodes, placed 10–15cm apart on your lower stomach or back. When you first turn it on (or turn it up) there is a slight shock – it's doesn't hurt but it is quite an interesting sensation. You'll know you've found the right level when you can hardly feel anything, but if your cramps are particularly painful, it might be necessary to increase the strength of the pulse every thirty minutes or so. The Livia can be worn for up to ten hours, but I would not suggest wearing it while sleeping. (And obviously it can't be worn in the shower or bath...) There are also some other limitations – it is not suitable for those with a pacemaker or for those who experience seizures. The electrodes should not be positioned on the head, neck, chest, over broken skin or in close proximity to cancerous legions.

 Livia TENS Machine | © Helen Pockett

Livia TENS Machine | © Helen Pockett

So...does it work? The honest answer is sometimes. It didn't do much to stop the very intense cramps I get on the first few days (I suspect the only thing that's going to stop them is a hysterectomy) but it did help between cramps and allowed me to be more active generally. If your pain doesn't typically confine you to bed then this would probably work perfectly for you, especially if, like me, you're loathe to take any kind of medication. Ideally, the next generation device would have some connectivity – an app on your phone that sends you a notification when the battery is running low would be particularly useful – and an indicator to show how high or low you have set the pulses. It takes about two hours to charge and a full battery lasts for about 12 hours. If you're looking for a pill-free option, I would definitely recommend giving it a try.

£145 | mylivia.com


Review sample kindly provided by Livia. 

Mildreds | Mango Summer Rolls

'Summer rolls have proven to be a very popular addition to the menu. Gluten-free, vegan and very light, they make a great snack on a hot day. They are really simple to make but you may have to go to an Asian supermarket to find the rice paper sheets.'
–Daniel Acevedo, Head Chef at Mildreds

 Mildreds Mango Summer Rolls + Spicy Peanut Sauce  | © Jonathan Gregson

Mildreds Mango Summer Rolls + Spicy Peanut Sauce  | © Jonathan Gregson

INGREDIENTS

 


For the spicy peanut sauce:

200g Crunchy Peanut Butter
200ml Water
1 Red Chilli, finely diced
Juice of 2 Limes
1
tablespoon Dark Muscovado Sugar
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
1.5cm Ginger Root, finely chopped

 

For the rolls:

90g Vermicelli Rice Noodles
100g Bean Sprouts
1 Red Chilli, finely diced
Rind of 2 Limes, 
finely grated
12cm x 22cm Rice Paper Sheets
Half a Cucumber, cut into 5mm-thick batons
1 Small Ripe Mango, cut into 5mm-thick batons
A handful of Mint Leaves
A handfuls of Coriander Leaves
1 Beetroot, coarsely grated
1 Carrot, coarsely grated


METHOD

1. Cook or soak the rice noodles in boiling water according to the packet instructions, then drain well and leave to cool. Once cool, tip into a bowl with the bean sprouts, chilli and grated lime rind and mix together well.

2. Wet a rice paper wrapper by dipping it in a bowl of water for 15–20 seconds until it starts to soften and become pliable, then place it on a clean work surface. Arrange a few batons of cucumber and mango across the centre of the wrapper, leaving a gap of 4–5cm with side for folding. Add a few mint leaves and coriander leaves, then a small handful of the noodle mix and grated vegetables.

3. Bring the bottom and top edges of the wrapper tightly up over the filling then fold the sides in over it. Continue to roll up tightly and place on a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining sheets and filling ingredients until it is all used up.

4. To make the spicy peanut sauce, put all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth.

5. Serve the rolls accompanied by the spicy peanut sauce and garnished with coriander leaves.

Serves 4–6 | 30 minutes


Recipe kindly contributed by Daniel Acevedo, from his book, Mildreds: The Cookbook.