September

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Aaaand that's another month gone.

I was happy to enjoy the last of the sunshine but at the same time I'm so ready to wear winter jumpers, ankle boots, scarves, and my favourite coat. September has always been one of my favourite months and this year it holds a particular significance when it comes to living a cruelty-free lifestyle.

September was the month I decided to give up meat and dairy.

It sounds like a big decision but it hasn't really felt like one, mostly because I never ate much meat to begin with. The worst thing is being tempted by Other Side at Kerb on Friday lunchtimes but apart from that I haven't really missed meat at all.

Dairy-Free Pecan Brownie
A dairy-free pecan brownie I picked up at my local food festival. So delicious, and you never would have guessed that it was dairy-free.

The support from bloggers has been amazing, so a huge thank you to everyone who's tweeted me with advice and product suggestions, and to those who left such thoughtful comments on my Giving Up Meat and Dairy post. It's made the change a lot less stressful and has reassured me that I'm doing the right thing.

As for the offline world, my co-worker Elycia in particular has been incredibly helpful with tips and recommendations, and has given me her recipe for white sauce  which means I can still make lasagne! Expect a recipe once I figure things out (and hopefully Elycia will be starting her own food blog soon. She has us drooling when she describes the food she cooks and it's something that needs to be shared with the world. The food, not the drooling).


I watched... Pretty Woman, finally. I think I may love it nearly as much as I love Dirty Dancing, which is saying something.

I read... The Taming of the Queen by Philippa Gregory and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. I've managed to get into more of a routine with reading now I've settled in at work and I'm really enjoying it. The Taming of the Queen was a rare look at the experiences Henry VIII's least-talked about queen might have had; no one quite creates the claustrophobia of the Tudor court quite like Philippa Gregory. As for Me Before You? I cried buckets. The film has swiftly been added to my To Be Watched list.


I listened to... Some old favourites that I hadn't put on my iPod for whatever reason. Took me on such a nostalgia trip! A little bit of The Arctic Monkeys, some Paolo Nutini, some Franz Ferdinand... my train journeys are always much better when I have new music to listen to.

I bought... a denim dress. I managed to find one that didn't fit me weirdly, about bloody time! Normally A-line skirts sit in all the wrong places on me, but this one skims over my buttocks quite nicely.


Blog Posts I've Loved: Isabelle's post about looking to the future, Steph's What I Eat in a Day, and Jess's trip to Bath, which is really making me want to go back there!


Product of the Month: Avril Organic Roll-On Deodorant for Women. A cruelty-free deodorant that actually works (and it smells so fresh!)


How was September for you? Let me know in the comments!
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Review: Urban Decay Naked Skin Foundation and Concealer

Monday, 26 September 2016

Well look at me, straying away from NARS. What an adventurer I've become.

After seeing Urban Decay's base products appearing in more and more blogs and vlogs, my curiosity was sparked and it finally got the better of me back in July.

I bought the Naked Skin Concealer first, after ending up at the Urban Decay counter to find a light base product to take with me on my holiday to Portugal. The assistant helped me out with swatches and recommended the concealer, which I took away with me and loved.

She recognised me when I went back to try out the foundation a couple of weeks later so we're basically best friends now.

I know many of us with a paler complexion struggle with finding base products. I also know that (frustratingly) the best pale-skin shade matches tend to be found on high end beauty counters.

I'm always wary of splashing the cash unless I already know the product works for me, so I thought I'd review some of the Naked Skin range as best I could. Hopefully this post will give you a better idea of what Urban Decay can offer!

Urban Decay Naked Skin

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Make-Up


Price

£27.99 for 30ml. I would much rather pay less than that for a foundation, truth be told. And yet at the same time I realise that I wear base pretty much every day so I do get my money's worth. But still, that payment always makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Packaging

A circular bottle with a pump included, definitely got one over NARS Sheer Glow here! The lid is metallic in classic Urban Decay style and the bottle is sturdy  being the clumsy person I am, I've dropped it multiple times and it has yet to break.


Shade


I have the shade 0.5, which is a good match and definitely not orange. Naked Skin is less yellow than Sheer Glow, so it might be better for those with more red in their skintone. (Any shades that end in .5 are better for those with cool skin, and those ending in .0 are better for those with warm skin.)

Application


I use the Real Techniques Buffing Brush to work the foundation into my skin  one pump is just about the right amount to cover my face. It works well with the brush and despite the slightly runny consistency (see below) it isn't too difficult to buff and blend.


Formula and Finish


The formula feels thin and is on the runnier side, so it pays to be careful when you're putting it on the back of your hand. The coverage is on the sheerer side of sheer-medium but is easy to build thanks to the light texture and the finish is nice and glowy.

Staying Power


Not amazing, truth be told, to the point where Naked Skin's staying power is a deal-breaker for me. Along with my powder it tends to cake on the forehead, no matter how sparing I am, although my forehead is where my oily patch is so that may well be the problem. Still, I'm not impressed.

Verdict


Naked Skin isn't bad at all, but will I repurchase? Probably not. Its staying power is just not up to scratch (especially when you take my long working day into account) and it also has a very chemical smell. Not for me.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer


Price


£17.50 for a 5ml tube.

Packaging


A round tube with a doe foot applicator and the classic metallic Urban Decay lid. It looks good next to the foundation (which shouldn't matter either way, really, but I like that they match).


Shade


The Fair Neutral shade is light  paler than the foundation  but not so light I look like I'm going back to the goth look I used to sport back in the day. It looks particularly pretty under the eyes, since it covers dark circles and gives you a natural-looking glow.


Application


I use the applicator to draw a triangle shape under my eyes, then blend it out with my fingers. It also works well with a sponge, although I prefer using my fingers in this instance because they absorb less product.


Formula and Finish


The formula is even thinner than that of the foundation, with a dewy finish. Somehow, the dewiness doesn't draw attention to spots, which is quite the achievement!


Staying Power


Naked Skin concealer stays put quite for a while over spots, but only if I remember to stop touching my face. It also sits well underneath the eyes (although it can sink into lines if you get a bit carried away!)

Verdict


I am definitely buying this again! It's rare for me to find a concealer that covers everything I need to hide, especially in such a perfectly pale shade as Fair Neutral.

Have you tried anything from the Naked Skin range? Let me know in the comments!

Note: Urban Decay do not test on animals but their parent company, L'Oreal, do. For an objective look at the issue of parent companies and animal testing, read Gemima's post here.
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Storing My Cruelty-Free Stash

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

I am a hoarder.

I'd love to be one of those people who keeps everything really minimal and uncluttered, but I'm not.

I've always found it difficult to throw things away because I think 'What if?' 'I could use it for...' 'I used to love that..' and then it always gets thrown in a box under the bed, and only comes out when I attempt my next clear-out.

But my everyday stuff? Well, that takes pride of place. 

Everyday Make-Up


Contents: My Face

Most of my make-up lives in a small box under the bed but I keep my everyday stuff close to hand. I get up at 5:30am during the week and I really don't think properly at that time so day  who does?!  so I like everything to be where I can just grab it and go.

All, that is, except my everyday lipstick, Charlotte Tilbury Bitch Perfect, which lives in my bag so I can apply it on the train  when I remember. There's been many a time when I've rocked up to the office wearing a full face of make-up and bare lips. Lovely.

(Btw I got the make-up bag from Waldo Pancake years ago and it remains one of my favourite things! It's incredibly sturdy and I do love a sassy caption.)

In my everyday make-up bag: 

  • Soap & Glory Sunshield Superfluid
  • Urban Decay Naked Skin Liquid Foundation in 0.5
  • Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer in Fair Neutral
  • NYX Lush Lashes Mascara XXL
  • NYX Tame & Frame Brow Pomade in 03 Brunette
  • Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush in First Love
  • theBalm Schwing Liquid Liner
  • Pixi Eye Pencil in Graphic Griege*
  • NYX Lip Lingerie Liquid Lipstick in Lace Detail

Everyday Bathroom Products

In The Bathroom

My skincare and some of my shower products are all shoved in a box, which was actually my mother's excellent idea (she got sick of seeing my stuff strewn everywhere, and to be honest I can't blame her). I basically just chuck everything in there without a thought, so about once a week or so I reorganise it all and make sure that whatever I have is still being used.

Everyday bathroom favourites:

  • Avril Body Oil*
  • Superdrug Nail Polish Remover
  • Soap & Glory Hand Food
  • Soap & Glory Flake Away
  • Pixi Hydrating Milky Mist*
  • Antipodes Juliet Brightening Gel Cleanser
  • Pixi Glow Tonic To-Go*
  • Avril Organic Deodorant*
  • Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask*
  • LUSH Greased Lightning
  • Yes To Cucumber Moisturiser
  • Superdrug Contact Lense Fluid
  • Laidbare Eye Cream*
  • Antipodes Eye Cream*
  • LUSH Ultrabland


How do you store your stash? Are you a hoarder like me? Let me know in the comments!
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Avril: Cruelty-Free French Beauty

Monday, 19 September 2016

There seems to be something innately sophisticated about the French and their style.

Chic, minimal, and always elegant, it's incredibly easy to lust after, Combine this look with cruelty-free, certified-organic vegan beauty and you have the recipe for a dream  exactly what new brand Avril are offering (and all for very reasonable prices).


Body Oil* (v), roughly £6.77 for 150ml

I don't use body oils but I have no idea why that is, because this is lush! A non-greasy mix of sunflower oil and argan oil, it feels very luxurious when you apply it to the skin and sinks in gradually (which is why I prefer to use it in the evening). This body oil smells lovely  it's a faint lemony scent that doesn't overpower you and, most importantly, hasn't caused any irritation (or leaked over my things, result).



Organic Roll-On Deodorant for Women* (v), roughly £2.12

Finding cruelty-free deodorant that works is perhaps one of the bigger challenges once you pledge to avoid animal testing. But I feel like my search is over, because the Avril deodorant smells beautifully fresh  a little bit like pears and newly-washed cotton sheets  and it keeps body odor at bay. It contains chamomile flower extract to soothe and I believe it does its job, since I haven't had to deal with any itching or stinging.

Instant Nail Polish Remover* (v), roughly £4.23

A cruelty-free, acetone-free version of the nail polish remover pots that were the range a few years ago (remember the fanfare? They were such a revelation). There's not much you can say about a nail polish pot, really  just stick your finger in, twist, and you're ready to go. A time-saver for sure.


Body Moisturiser with Shea Butter(v), roughly £5.93 for 200ml

A light body lotion that moisturises the skin and doesn't leave any greasy residue, although you do have to work a little harder than usual before it disappears into the skin. Its scent reminds me of the pears/sheets combination of the deodorant  very fresh  so it's definitely one for mornings when you need a wake-up call (and actually have the time to moisturise!)

Body Scrub* (v), roughly £5.93 for 200ml

More of a body polish than a scrub, in my opinion, since it's so gentle, but it leaves my skin feeling very smooth after use. Unlike many body polishes I've tried you don't have to use a tonne of product just to get enough particles (organic sugar, rice powder, and almond shell) to exfoliate properly, so it's a good option for when your skin needs a little bit of a boost. Oh, and it smells of grapefruit and sweets!

Perhaps this goes without saying, but I think Avril are such a lovely brand and a welcome addition to the cruelty-free and vegan beauty market. It's worth mentioning that all the writing on the packaging is in French, which is frustrating but I like to think it gives my bathroom an air of mystery. Even so, I will definitely be ordering some more products when these run out (I need the deo in my life) and maybe even trying out something else.

Have you tried anything by Avril? And what do you think of French style? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan
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The Sunday Ramble: Giving Up Meat and Dairy

Sunday, 18 September 2016

I finally crossed the line.

Thinking about it, it was always going to be a case of when rather than if, but I did it: I've decided to stop eating meat and dairy products.

I'd been flexitarian for a long time  to the point where my third-year housemates thought I was vegetarian, until we went out for food and I ordered something with chicken in  and my reasoning always was that I would eat more meat and dairy if I banned myself from it (forbidden fruit being tastier and all that).

I never thought I'd be capable of cutting it out completely.

This post is about my attempts at being animal-friendly, so please enjoy this picture of Pippin. Any excuse! (She's not even mine, I just really love dogs.)

However, as I've educated myself and my tastes have changed, I've come to the conclusion that actually, I probably could give it a good go. And I want to give it a good go.

Learning about the meat industry and the dairy industry through fellow cruelty-free bloggers has been an eye-opener and I just don't enjoy eating animal products anymore. It's also been helpful seeing what normal people eat in a day, since it's made me realise that it's possible to eat a healthy plant-based diet without spending a fortune (or spending every minute of your spare time in the kitchen).

The reaction of the people around me has been wonderful, to tell you the truth, much better than I was expecting.

In real life, my friends and workmates have been interested in hearing my reasons for making the switch (not in a hostile way, just curious) and have given me plenty of food suggestions. My best friend even introduced me to Marks & Spencer Dairy Free Coconut Ice Cream, which is all kinds of yum, so I know where I'll be going if I ever need a tub of something sweet to cheer me up!

The support from the cruelty-free community on Twitter has been amazing, and I've been given lots of tips and links to handy posts and YouTube videos, which I'm currently working my way through. I may compile them into a post if anyone would be interested?

At one point my mum turned to my aunt and said 'She's gone vegetarian', in the same way you'd tell another parent at school that your child wants to dye their hair green, but she's been really supportive too, trying out recipes like chickpea bolognese (totally delicious, btw) and making sure we have things like Quorn and cuts of fish in the fridge/freezer.

That brings me nicely to my next point: I'm still eating fish. I want these changes to be gradual and long-term and for me, I don't think cutting everything out immediately is the answer.

'Are you still eating chicken?' my dad asked me.

No, I'm not still eating chicken.

I am still eating eggs, a) because I cook with them a lot and I don't think it's realistic to give them up immediately, and b) because egg substitutes are hideously expensive. I'm sticking to free-range for now.

I think that sums everything up so far! I'll be writing updates every so often so I can share my experiences with everyone. I'm going to be completely honest in these posts, but I need to know: what kind of thing are you interested in reading about? What I eat in a day, other people's reactions, going out to eat, something else?

Let me know, because as well as documenting this process I want to be able to help others who may be thinking of doing something similar. (And even if you're not a vegetarian or a vegan, I hope I can at least share some tasty recipes with you!)
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Battle of the Liquid Lipsticks: Sleek Matte Me versus NYX Lip Lingerie

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

It took me a while to be convinced by the whole liquid lipstick thing.

You see, I love traditional lipsticks, with their buttery formulas and their pretty cases, but I also really like the matte look liquid lipsticks give. theBalm's Meet Matte Hughes in Loyal is my go-to come Christmastime, thanks it its festive red shade, but the rest of the year I like something a little less high maintenance. In the end I picked up two shades I'd heard wonderful things about:


But which one is better?

Sleek Matte Me in Birthday Suit; NYX Lip Lingerie in Lace Detail

Price

Sleek: £4.99
NYX: £6.50

Winner: Sleek

Packaging

Sleek: A square tube. The matte black top and minimal lettering is exactly the kind of thing I'm drawn to.
NYX: A round tube. I love the lettering along the side of the tube - it's girly and fits with the whole lingerie theme really well.

Winner: Well, the Sleek tube looks more expensive in pictures, whereas the NYX tube feels heavier in the hand. Neither one of them have had any lettering scratch off while in my make-up bag. I'll call this one a draw.

Wand

Sleek: A thin, doe-foot applicator.
NYX: ... A thin, doe-foot applicator.

Winner: Another draw. There's really not much of a difference between them in this instance.

Left: NYX Lip Lingerie in Lace Detail. Right: Sleek Matte Me in Birthday Suit.


Shade

Sleek: It may be called Birthday Suit but it's actually pretty pink, and it gets darker as time goes on. Pretty, but not quite what I was expecting.
NYX: Finally! A pale pink nude that doesn't wash me out or make me look like I've got foundation lips.

Winner: NYX


Formula and Finish

Sleek: Thin but creamy (the main ingredient is dimethicone) and not too drying. However, you need to take your time with application, otherwise things can get a little streaky.
NYX: Thicker than its Sleek counterpart and a little less creamy, but has a beautiful, even finish. It's more likely to set in any cracks, so make sure you prep your lips!

Winner: NYX. I may have to slather on more balm but I like the finish of the Lip Lingeries much more.


Staying Power

Sleek: Fades to a stain instead of vanishing. Needs a touch-up after you've eaten but doesn't disappear completely.
NYX: Will leave your lips completely after you've eaten.

Winner: Sleek

Can you apply it while sitting on a moving train?

Sleek: No
NYX: Yes

Winner: NYX


Verdict

Sleek: 2 wins, 2 draws
NYX: 3 wins, 2 draws

Winner: NYX... but only just!

While the shade and the formula of the Lip Lingeries won it for me, I would still recommend a Sleek Matte Me if you fancy trying out a liquid lipstick. Both lipsticks are very good quality considering they cost under £10 and there are plenty of shades available to try!

Have you ever tried liquid lipstick from NYX or Sleek? Which one do you like the look of? Let me know in the comments!
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