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It's been a while since I've written about beauty. Not from lack of enthusiasm, it's just that in striving to spend less and use up what I already own, I've found myself with fewer words to say on the subject. I've been trying to whittle down my products as more items run out, with the end point being a collection where everything is used on a regularly basis.

But while the shimmery purple eyeshadows and brightly coloured liners are gone for good (much like the days when I had the time and patience to apply a tonne of eye make-up), there are still products I love, and they survive the decluttering process every time. They're cruelty-free, they're from brands I'm happy to support, and they work. They're not passing fadsthey remain useful, and I'm happy to repurchase them. They're my hero products.

I'm starting this series with hand care. Exciting? No. Essential? Absolutely, especially at this time of year, when the cold bites at your skin.


Salted Coconut Hand Scrub (v)

Maybe a hand scrub seems pointless, especially for someone who's trying to cut down the amount of products they own. But the skin on my hands gets dry and flaky almost instantly at this time of year, whether I'm wearing gloves or not, and I like having something to slough off the dead skin.

Sea salt is the exfoliant in Salted Coconut, since it's packed with minerals that cleanse the skin, while coconut oil and cupuacu butter provide a moisturising base. They're both emollients, which means they absorb water easily. The sea salt has a fine, grainy texture, so it's not too harsh on sore skin, while the oils and butter add a pleasant slip that makes scrubbing easy. You can feel the difference almost instantly.

You can use Salted Coconut on wet or dry hands, but I find that holding your hands under the tap for a few seconds first brings out the creaminess of the scrub. I've been using it every night and although I do still get the odd dry patch on my hands, they're nowhere near as bad as usual. I can't recommend this enough.

Salted Coconut costs £8.50 for 130g, or £15.95 for 300g.


Helping Hands

I have hand cream on my desk at work, on my desk at home, and in the cupboard under the bathroom sink. (This is part of my effort to use up all my products before they expire.) Helping Hands is my bathroom sink cream, since I need to wash my hands before I use ithygiene and all that.

Originally created for nurses, the cream contains chamomile water to calm, almond oil to moisturise, cocoa butter to soften, and honey for its antiseptic purposes. It's light, gentle, and doesn't feel sticky or greasy, but my oh my does it work wonders for dry, lifeless skin.

I usually apply Helping Hands just after I use Salted Coconut, but before I go to bed, so I don't have to sit around waiting for it to sink in. My hands are always much softer in the morning, and any inflammation will have calmed right down.

Helping Hands costs £8.95 for 100g.


Why Lush?


  • They don't test their products on animals.
  • They have a large range of vegan products, which are all clearly labelled.
  • They have plenty of packaging-free products and regularly increase the range, which includes solid versions of classic favourites, like the seasonal Snow Fairy.
  • You can take your clean, empty pots back to any Lush store, and they'll send them back to Poole in Dorset, where they're reformulated into new pots and used again (a process that can be repeated). This is known as a closed-loop recycling system. Oh, and you'll also get a free face mask; my personal favourites are Rosy Cheeks and Catastrophe Cosmetic.


I'd like the Hero Products series to help others create their own collection of must-haves. While I'd highly recommend both Salted Coconut and Helping Hands, they're not going to be suitable for everyone. Some may think using a hand scrub is excessive; others might look for different ingredients. But a hand cream is an essential for many of us, and certainly worth the investment.

How do you look after dry hands in winter? Have you tried either of these products before? Let me know in the comments.

(v) = vegan

Hero Products | Salted Coconut & Helping Hands

It's been a while since I've written about beauty. Not from lack of enthusiasm, it's just that in striving to spend less and use up what I already own, I've found myself with fewer words to say on the subject. I've been trying to whittle down my products as more items run out, with the end point being a collection where everything is used on a regularly basis.

But while the shimmery purple eyeshadows and brightly coloured liners are gone for good (much like the days when I had the time and patience to apply a tonne of eye make-up), there are still products I love, and they survive the decluttering process every time. They're cruelty-free, they're from brands I'm happy to support, and they work. They're not passing fadsthey remain useful, and I'm happy to repurchase them. They're my hero products.

I'm starting this series with hand care. Exciting? No. Essential? Absolutely, especially at this time of year, when the cold bites at your skin.


Salted Coconut Hand Scrub (v)

Maybe a hand scrub seems pointless, especially for someone who's trying to cut down the amount of products they own. But the skin on my hands gets dry and flaky almost instantly at this time of year, whether I'm wearing gloves or not, and I like having something to slough off the dead skin.

Sea salt is the exfoliant in Salted Coconut, since it's packed with minerals that cleanse the skin, while coconut oil and cupuacu butter provide a moisturising base. They're both emollients, which means they absorb water easily. The sea salt has a fine, grainy texture, so it's not too harsh on sore skin, while the oils and butter add a pleasant slip that makes scrubbing easy. You can feel the difference almost instantly.

You can use Salted Coconut on wet or dry hands, but I find that holding your hands under the tap for a few seconds first brings out the creaminess of the scrub. I've been using it every night and although I do still get the odd dry patch on my hands, they're nowhere near as bad as usual. I can't recommend this enough.

Salted Coconut costs £8.50 for 130g, or £15.95 for 300g.


Helping Hands

I have hand cream on my desk at work, on my desk at home, and in the cupboard under the bathroom sink. (This is part of my effort to use up all my products before they expire.) Helping Hands is my bathroom sink cream, since I need to wash my hands before I use ithygiene and all that.

Originally created for nurses, the cream contains chamomile water to calm, almond oil to moisturise, cocoa butter to soften, and honey for its antiseptic purposes. It's light, gentle, and doesn't feel sticky or greasy, but my oh my does it work wonders for dry, lifeless skin.

I usually apply Helping Hands just after I use Salted Coconut, but before I go to bed, so I don't have to sit around waiting for it to sink in. My hands are always much softer in the morning, and any inflammation will have calmed right down.

Helping Hands costs £8.95 for 100g.


Why Lush?


  • They don't test their products on animals.
  • They have a large range of vegan products, which are all clearly labelled.
  • They have plenty of packaging-free products and regularly increase the range, which includes solid versions of classic favourites, like the seasonal Snow Fairy.
  • You can take your clean, empty pots back to any Lush store, and they'll send them back to Poole in Dorset, where they're reformulated into new pots and used again (a process that can be repeated). This is known as a closed-loop recycling system. Oh, and you'll also get a free face mask; my personal favourites are Rosy Cheeks and Catastrophe Cosmetic.


I'd like the Hero Products series to help others create their own collection of must-haves. While I'd highly recommend both Salted Coconut and Helping Hands, they're not going to be suitable for everyone. Some may think using a hand scrub is excessive; others might look for different ingredients. But a hand cream is an essential for many of us, and certainly worth the investment.

How do you look after dry hands in winter? Have you tried either of these products before? Let me know in the comments.

(v) = vegan
I've spent most of this week in a festive haze, eating copious amounts of food, catching up with friends and relatives, and curling up in an armchair to re-read the Harry Potter series from underneath a blanket. It's been cosy and slow-moving, and I've enjoyed myself immensely, but it also means the prospect of a new year isn't something I've thought aboutuntil now.

I've struggled to think of goals this year; I considered not making any at all. But I function best when I have something to work towards (even if it's small). So here are five goals I hope to achieve in 2019, plus the reasons I chose them.

Admiring the views in Florence


Go on holiday abroad with my best pals

Most of us have been on holidays together as part of larger groups, but never just the four of us, which is odd when you consider how much we all enjoy travelling. We're hoping the timing is finally right in 2019. I've got my fingers crossed for a city break and I'm already searching for inspiration on Pinterest...

Go on more trips in the UK

I went a few mini staycations in 2018, including a visit to Brighton and a night away in the northern countryside for a friend's birthday. We used to holiday in the UK all the time when I was a kid, which means I'm lucky to have seen a lot of it, but there are still plenty more places to explore. Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Pembrokeshire are top of the list, and I'd also like to visit York, Bath and Cardiff again. All recommendations welcome in the comments.

Read more than 40 books

I read 40 books in 2018, smashing 2017's record of 32, but there were long periods where I didn't have a book on the go. I can definitely read more, especially now I visit my local library on a regular basis. I'm going to try and switch late-night social media scrolling for reading non-fiction instead.

Start painting and drawing again

I doodled constantly when I was growing up, but lack of time (and the sting of a failed art A-level) meant I gradually stopped. Watching Lucie Fink's videos on the Refinery29 YouTube channel has helped me realise how much I miss it (she's into calligraphy and is always creating cool pages in her bullet journal) and I want to get arty again. No pressure, just some downtime spent having fun with a sketchbook.

Dedicate more time to creative writing

I always think I could be doing more of my own writing outside of work, and then another, more pressing responsibility comes along and I take care of that instead. The most difficult part for me has always been sitting down to get it done, partly because of that and partly because of nagging self-doubt. However, I'm not going to write a bookor even a short storyif I don't put the work in. I'm hoping a return to pen and paper and some scheduled writing time will help me ease back into it.


Do you set yourself goals for the new year? Is there anything you'd really like to do in 2019? Let me know in the comments, and Happy New Year to you all!

Goals For 2019

I've spent most of this week in a festive haze, eating copious amounts of food, catching up with friends and relatives, and curling up in an armchair to re-read the Harry Potter series from underneath a blanket. It's been cosy and slow-moving, and I've enjoyed myself immensely, but it also means the prospect of a new year isn't something I've thought aboutuntil now.

I've struggled to think of goals this year; I considered not making any at all. But I function best when I have something to work towards (even if it's small). So here are five goals I hope to achieve in 2019, plus the reasons I chose them.

Admiring the views in Florence


Go on holiday abroad with my best pals

Most of us have been on holidays together as part of larger groups, but never just the four of us, which is odd when you consider how much we all enjoy travelling. We're hoping the timing is finally right in 2019. I've got my fingers crossed for a city break and I'm already searching for inspiration on Pinterest...

Go on more trips in the UK

I went a few mini staycations in 2018, including a visit to Brighton and a night away in the northern countryside for a friend's birthday. We used to holiday in the UK all the time when I was a kid, which means I'm lucky to have seen a lot of it, but there are still plenty more places to explore. Liverpool, Edinburgh, and Pembrokeshire are top of the list, and I'd also like to visit York, Bath and Cardiff again. All recommendations welcome in the comments.

Read more than 40 books

I read 40 books in 2018, smashing 2017's record of 32, but there were long periods where I didn't have a book on the go. I can definitely read more, especially now I visit my local library on a regular basis. I'm going to try and switch late-night social media scrolling for reading non-fiction instead.

Start painting and drawing again

I doodled constantly when I was growing up, but lack of time (and the sting of a failed art A-level) meant I gradually stopped. Watching Lucie Fink's videos on the Refinery29 YouTube channel has helped me realise how much I miss it (she's into calligraphy and is always creating cool pages in her bullet journal) and I want to get arty again. No pressure, just some downtime spent having fun with a sketchbook.

Dedicate more time to creative writing

I always think I could be doing more of my own writing outside of work, and then another, more pressing responsibility comes along and I take care of that instead. The most difficult part for me has always been sitting down to get it done, partly because of that and partly because of nagging self-doubt. However, I'm not going to write a bookor even a short storyif I don't put the work in. I'm hoping a return to pen and paper and some scheduled writing time will help me ease back into it.


Do you set yourself goals for the new year? Is there anything you'd really like to do in 2019? Let me know in the comments, and Happy New Year to you all!
I've spent 2018 trying to find my new normal.

This is the first time in my adult life that I've known I'm going to stay put somewhere for the foreseeable future. It's taken a while for it to sink in that I don't need to pack up and move somewhere else, like I did every year when I was at uni, or live out of a suitcase, as I did for much of 2017. It feels good to be more settled, and to be closer (but not too close) to my family and most of my friends.

But then there's all the fear, loneliness and general bewilderment of being in your twenties. Even as I'm sitting here typing about how grateful I am, there's that feeling that I'm doing it all wrong (despite knowing everyone goes through life at their own pace). Chloe Plumstead summed it up well when she said half of you wants to go with the flow, and half of you wants to make things happen so you can get your shit together.

Except the older I get, the more I realise no one really ever has their shit together.

That's not to say 2018 has been a bad year. It's been a bloody good one, as far as things go, despite some setbacks. I can even remember one of the plans I made way back in January last yearnormally I forget what they are until I revisit the corresponding blog post in December. And that's exactly what I'm doing today.

Here are my plans for 2018 and how they turned out.

Exploring in Austria

Get more confident driving

After my car accident in 2017, there was a time when I couldn't drive without having a panic attack, and then I couldn't even bring myself to get in my car at all. Even being a passenger was an ordeal unless the driver was exceptionally careful. (Fortunately many of my friends and co-workers, who are kind enough to give me lifts when they can, drive with my nerves in mind.)

But with plenty of help, I've slowly built things up by driving with someone in the passenger seat, then doing laps round the neighborhood by myself, and driving the 15-20 minutes to my local supermarket. I've made considerable progress, and I'm proud. I'm spending the Christmas break playing chauffeur for my family and friends, and then in 2019 I'd like to conquer the drive to work.

Meet some of the cruelty-free community

This hasn't happened yet. What with my extended blogging break, something I think a lot of us have ended up doing this year, and just general busyness, I haven't been as involved with the community as I'd like to. I want to change that in 2019. We've seen considerable progress this year, what with Covergirl becoming the biggest make-up brand to be certified cruelty-free, and I'm excited to play my small part in the movement.

Skiing in Austria
Next step: snow plough without crossing my skis

Book some trips abroad

I ticked this one off better than I ever imagined I would, starting with a ski trip to Austria in March.

Zell Am See, Austria

I never thought I'd go skiing in my lifetime. They had an annual ski trip at school, but at £500-£800 a pop, it wasn't accessible to everyone, and to be honest the idea of strapping long sticks to my feet and whizzing down a mountain never appealed to me anyway. Speed scares me.

Even so, I was quietly excited when work announced we were going on a ski trip for our annual retreat. I would never turn my nose up at a free holiday, which is how I found myself waddling around Zell Am See in (rented) ski boots and sliding down the nursery slope on my backside.

Eventually I progressed to doing gentle runs of the nursery slope, which felt fast until I saw video footage of myself moving along at a glacial pace. I even mastered turning right. Left-hand turns still elude me, however, and if it wasn't for the helping hand of one of my co-workers, I'd probably still be drifting slowly down towards the cafe at the bottom of the slope.

Exploring in Venice

Tuscany, Italy

Italy has been my dream destination since I was a child poring over my Dorling & Kindersley book. I finally made it there in June and it was well worth the wait. The views were beautiful, the history and the architecture were fascinating, and the food was everything I dreamed it would besimple, fresh, and flavorful. Plus I got to spend time with my friends, who I see less and less of now we're all working.  

We stayed in the tiny village of Nugola, in a villa that was so charming none of us wanted to leave. And after a couple of holidays together, we've figured out how to balance exploring and relaxation, without wanting to run far away from each other by the end.

Venice, Treviso, and Tambre, Italy

I've been saying I want to visit my friend Giulia in Italy for at least three years. It finally happened this summer, when she took me on a whirlwind tour of the Italy she knows and grew up in. She packed a tonne of adventures into a long weekend, from finding the best viewpoints in Venice to exploring the charming mountain village of Tambre, and I was touched by her and her family's hospitality.

Keep cutting out the crap

This eloquently-worded goal refers to minimalism, and my attempts to clear out clutter. I've slowly started buying less, and I've donated or recycled anything that no longer serves a purpose for me. I'm doing a much better job of thinking carefully about my purchases and only buying items that are useful, but I think I have a way to go. I'm still an emotional shopper; I still get a little rush when I've placed an order online. This goal is a work in progress, but I'm having a lot of fun figuring it out.


I feel like I've made a lot happen this year, and I want to keep that going. I'm especially pleased with how much I've improved behind the wheel, although in terms of having a good time, travel beats driving hands down. I'd better start planning some more trips.

So that's it. I hope you've all had a wonderful 2018. I'm keen to hear how your years have been, so let me know in the comments what you've enjoyed, what you're proud of, and what you want to continue doing next year.

You might also like:

Looking Back at My Plans for 2018

I've spent 2018 trying to find my new normal.

This is the first time in my adult life that I've known I'm going to stay put somewhere for the foreseeable future. It's taken a while for it to sink in that I don't need to pack up and move somewhere else, like I did every year when I was at uni, or live out of a suitcase, as I did for much of 2017. It feels good to be more settled, and to be closer (but not too close) to my family and most of my friends.

But then there's all the fear, loneliness and general bewilderment of being in your twenties. Even as I'm sitting here typing about how grateful I am, there's that feeling that I'm doing it all wrong (despite knowing everyone goes through life at their own pace). Chloe Plumstead summed it up well when she said half of you wants to go with the flow, and half of you wants to make things happen so you can get your shit together.

Except the older I get, the more I realise no one really ever has their shit together.

That's not to say 2018 has been a bad year. It's been a bloody good one, as far as things go, despite some setbacks. I can even remember one of the plans I made way back in January last yearnormally I forget what they are until I revisit the corresponding blog post in December. And that's exactly what I'm doing today.

Here are my plans for 2018 and how they turned out.

Exploring in Austria

Get more confident driving

After my car accident in 2017, there was a time when I couldn't drive without having a panic attack, and then I couldn't even bring myself to get in my car at all. Even being a passenger was an ordeal unless the driver was exceptionally careful. (Fortunately many of my friends and co-workers, who are kind enough to give me lifts when they can, drive with my nerves in mind.)

But with plenty of help, I've slowly built things up by driving with someone in the passenger seat, then doing laps round the neighborhood by myself, and driving the 15-20 minutes to my local supermarket. I've made considerable progress, and I'm proud. I'm spending the Christmas break playing chauffeur for my family and friends, and then in 2019 I'd like to conquer the drive to work.

Meet some of the cruelty-free community

This hasn't happened yet. What with my extended blogging break, something I think a lot of us have ended up doing this year, and just general busyness, I haven't been as involved with the community as I'd like to. I want to change that in 2019. We've seen considerable progress this year, what with Covergirl becoming the biggest make-up brand to be certified cruelty-free, and I'm excited to play my small part in the movement.

Skiing in Austria
Next step: snow plough without crossing my skis

Book some trips abroad

I ticked this one off better than I ever imagined I would, starting with a ski trip to Austria in March.

Zell Am See, Austria

I never thought I'd go skiing in my lifetime. They had an annual ski trip at school, but at £500-£800 a pop, it wasn't accessible to everyone, and to be honest the idea of strapping long sticks to my feet and whizzing down a mountain never appealed to me anyway. Speed scares me.

Even so, I was quietly excited when work announced we were going on a ski trip for our annual retreat. I would never turn my nose up at a free holiday, which is how I found myself waddling around Zell Am See in (rented) ski boots and sliding down the nursery slope on my backside.

Eventually I progressed to doing gentle runs of the nursery slope, which felt fast until I saw video footage of myself moving along at a glacial pace. I even mastered turning right. Left-hand turns still elude me, however, and if it wasn't for the helping hand of one of my co-workers, I'd probably still be drifting slowly down towards the cafe at the bottom of the slope.

Exploring in Venice

Tuscany, Italy

Italy has been my dream destination since I was a child poring over my Dorling & Kindersley book. I finally made it there in June and it was well worth the wait. The views were beautiful, the history and the architecture were fascinating, and the food was everything I dreamed it would besimple, fresh, and flavorful. Plus I got to spend time with my friends, who I see less and less of now we're all working.  

We stayed in the tiny village of Nugola, in a villa that was so charming none of us wanted to leave. And after a couple of holidays together, we've figured out how to balance exploring and relaxation, without wanting to run far away from each other by the end.

Venice, Treviso, and Tambre, Italy

I've been saying I want to visit my friend Giulia in Italy for at least three years. It finally happened this summer, when she took me on a whirlwind tour of the Italy she knows and grew up in. She packed a tonne of adventures into a long weekend, from finding the best viewpoints in Venice to exploring the charming mountain village of Tambre, and I was touched by her and her family's hospitality.

Keep cutting out the crap

This eloquently-worded goal refers to minimalism, and my attempts to clear out clutter. I've slowly started buying less, and I've donated or recycled anything that no longer serves a purpose for me. I'm doing a much better job of thinking carefully about my purchases and only buying items that are useful, but I think I have a way to go. I'm still an emotional shopper; I still get a little rush when I've placed an order online. This goal is a work in progress, but I'm having a lot of fun figuring it out.


I feel like I've made a lot happen this year, and I want to keep that going. I'm especially pleased with how much I've improved behind the wheel, although in terms of having a good time, travel beats driving hands down. I'd better start planning some more trips.

So that's it. I hope you've all had a wonderful 2018. I'm keen to hear how your years have been, so let me know in the comments what you've enjoyed, what you're proud of, and what you want to continue doing next year.

You might also like:


Beth, 24, UK. I'm a writer who loves books, animals, yoga, travel, and the Oxford comma. I share my experiences of trying a cruelty-free, vegetarian and low waste lifestyle, with the odd think piece thrown in. beth.toasty@gmail.com

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