What's Made Me Happy This Month? | May 2015

Friday, 29 May 2015

Dearest readers, I present you with my, erm, underwear; my favourite pointy shoes made an appearance when the sun came out; pretty flowers which I couldn't afford but Instagrammed anyway because it was a shit day, weather-wise, and they made me feel better. I filtered all of these photos using #candyminimal on Pixlr because it's the coolest thing if you get the right colour combination.

1. Game of Thrones. Okay, teeny confession: I don't actually watch the show. I am so unbelievably squeamish when it comes to fictional blood, violence, and gore that I literally can't. I'm fine when it's all in a medical context  Embarrassing Bodies doesn't bother me in the slightest, and I can watch gastric band operations without wincing  but anything else is just a no-go. But I have read all the books in the series so far, and I absolutely love them, so I like reading about how they've been adapted for the screen and what changes they've made. It also means there's a lot more Kit Harington all over my internet, and I'm not complaining about that in the slightest.

2. Being home. I'm actually travelling back to Wales today, but for the rest of the month I've been at home in Kent and it's been lovely, so relaxed and stress-free. Nearly all of my closest friends still live here, too, so I've been spending more time with them doing all the normal things like going out for food, having drinks in the pub, and spending evenings in with a takeaway. I think friendship is my favourite form of love.

3. High waisted knickers. Not boring white ones (I have a serious aversion to white underwear), but pretty ones. They are so damn comfy, but they look cute in an old school kinda way, and they fit perfectly under my Joni jeans. As soon as my spending ban is over I'll be rushing out to buy them in bulk.

4. And not-so-high-waisted knickers. I found a pair in Peacocks with '#peachy' written across the bum, so of course I had to buy them. Silly? Yes. Cheesy? Yes, especially with the hashtag, but they made me smile. 

5. Earning money. So far this month I've been a Poll Clerk, a ballot-paper counter, a tea lady at my dad's cricket club, and a barmaid. It feels good to be earning money and not relying solely on my student loan, and means that I'm not so worried about making the money last until mid-September.

6. Volunteering for a very good cause. More importantly, I've just started volunteering in my local Cancer Research shop and it makes me happy knowing that I'm contributing to the charity in some way, especially since I don't know a single person who hasn't been affected by cancer in one way or another. I've got plenty of time until uni starts again, so I may as well spend it doing something worthwhile.

7. Getting 1sts for my Writing Fiction and Writing Non Fiction modules. I'm so unbelievably happy that all the work I put into those projects paid off, and I'm especially proud of my result for Non-Fiction  I got 76% for my portfolio. It's made me more determined than ever to make writing into a career somehow; I will make it happen.

How has May been for you? Let me know in the comments!

What No One Tells You About... | Trying to be Healthy

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Trek Protein Flapjacks
I received a mixed case of Protein Flapjacks, but they came in a Banana Bread box. This is to save on packaging, and I think it's a great idea!

For the past few months I've been trying to take care of my health more. My housemate Giulia studies nutrition, so it's partly her good habits rubbing off on me, partly a desire to clear up my skin, and partly because I'm genuinely more interested in the ingredients in my food and how they're all going to affect me. But, as with all things in life, there are things people never tell you. Such as...

1. Your energy levels will increase... Okay, so I have heard this one before, but I thought it was just an irritating myth. However, once I started cutting down on the amount of processed food I was eating, I found I felt more awake, and my concentration levels were better too. It still takes me forever to get out of bed in the morning  I am not human before breakfast  but once I'm up I find I can face the day with a little more energy than before.

2. ... but so will your food shopping bill. This was mainly because I started eating things like salmon. Meat and fish are effing expensive! 

3. You'll crave junk food less... I didn't believe this at first, but it does actually happen. You know me, I love my food, but the junk just seems less appetizing when you're reaping all the benefits of a healthier diet. There are exceptions, though: whenever the odd hormonal craving strikes, and at the end of a night out when a big, greasy cheeseburger suddenly seems like the BEST IDEA EVER.

4. ... but sometimes only your favourite comfort food will do. Case in point: there was one evening, not long ago, when I scooped up my mac 'n' cheese with Chilli Heatwave Doritos and it was heaven. Even Gwyneth Paltrow includes several recipes for mac 'n' cheese in her recipe book, and I think that it's actually much healthier to have a bit of what you want and then move on. So many diets place strict limits on the types of food you can eat but, let's face it, it's not realistic (or particularly enjoyable) to live your entire life following them to the letter. Eating everything in moderation seems to me to be far more achievable in the long run.

5. Healthy snacks can be hard to find. So I was delighted when I got the chance to try these Trek Protein Flapjacks* from Natural Balance Foods. I got the mixed case, which contains Original Oat, Oat and Raisin, Cocoa, Cocoa Coconut, Morning Berry, and Banana Bread, so I've been able to pick and choose whatever I fancy. They come packaged in a re-used box, which is a really good idea (it really annoys me when products have excess packaging, anyone else?) The texture of the flapjacks is interesting: chewy like you'd expect, but they also contain something called protein crunchies, which (not surprisingly) add a little bit of crunch. All of the flapjacks are full of flavour, but my personal favourite is Cocoa Coconut, which has a thin layer of chocolate on the top and coconut pieces underneath. I like to take a snack with me when I'm out and about, since food is the best thing to keep my blood sugar levels up  I've been known to faint if it gets too low  and these are great for just chucking in my bag. They leave me satisfied until my next meal, and are also gluten and wheat free (some of them are also free from dairy). 

6. You'll start drinking a tonne of water, and feel really pleased with yourself... and you'll need to go to the toilet about a million times a day. TMI? Sorry. But it's all gotta go somewhere. The glamour!

Have you ever gone on a health kick before? What's your favourite healthy snack? Let me know in the comments!

Beauty | Searching for a New Shampoo

Monday, 25 May 2015

Guys. How many times have I said to you that I've finally found a shampoo that works for me, only to go looking for a new one a few months later because it's not doing its job anymore? Too many — I dread to think of the amount of unfinished shampoo bottles I've had to get rid of over the years.

But the fact is, my scalp is sensitive. And my hair can never quite decide what it's meant to be: it's fine but frizzy, which means volumising shampoos can dry it out after a while (which makes the roots go greasy as they desperately go in search of moisture). However, frizz-taming shampoos, which are normally designed with thick hair in mind, are too heavy and make my hair go limp and, yes, greasy. I can't win.

Moroccanoil's Extra Volume Shampoo had a promising start. It has no sulfates, and it left my hair clean and a little bit bouncy. But after two months or so of use, I noticed that I was leaving less and less time between washes because the roots would get greasy mere hours after I'd washed my hair. I try to leave as long as I can between washes, so I don't strip the hair, but I didn't have a choice because I looked like I'd dunked my head in a vat of oil. I also noticed an increase in flakes — massive, white chunks of skin were falling out of my hair (such a lovely image, I hope you're not reading this over breakfast).

This can't go on, so once again I'm on a mission to find a shampoo that is: a) cruelty-free, b) scalp-friendly, c) lightweight, d) frizz-taming, and e) inexpensive. Mission impossible? We'll see. Right now I'm using Lush's Rehab, which smells nice but can be a bit drying with regular use, so something a little more moisturising (but not heavy) would be ideal, and then I can alternate the two so my hair doesn't get bored.

Do you have trouble finding shampoo? Do you have any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

My Make Up Habits #3 | An Interview with Steph

Friday, 22 May 2015

Steph and I have known each other for nearly nineteen years, and she is essentially my sister, so it only seemed right that she'd be one of the people I interview for My Make Up Habits. Both of us were introduced to make up at an early age because of the shows we used to perform in at our dance school, but unfortunately that introduction involved bright blue eyeshadow and red lipstick — worn together. I'm happy to report that both of us have moved on from that look, as you'll see below: 

Beth: First of all, what make up do you wear on a daily basis?
Steph: At the moment I'm wearing concealer because I'm having awful breakouts which I never used to get [snap]. I went through a phase when I was wearing concealer, foundation, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, and bronzer on a daily basis and then I got really lazy and couldn't be bothered anymore, so now I only put it on for special occasions.

B: Do you have a skincare routine?

S: I actually do now! Erm, do you remember that Clean and Clear Deep Cleansing Lotion  the one you introduced me to  I still use that, and I use Benefit's moisturiser. I have their under eye cream too, and that is amazing. I don't use it as much as I should.

B: What's your favourite skincare product?

S:  Hmmmmmm, I'd have to say, it's gotta be the Benefit moisturiser, it's lush.

B: What do you wear on special occasions?

S: Concealer, foundation  ooh! I actually have two concealers, one for under eye, and one for blemishes. I use Erase Paste for under eye and, er, it's called Boiing for blemishes. It really makes me laugh because it says it's industrial strength. Eyeshadow, eyeliner  liquid on the top, pencil on the waterline, mascara, erm, ooh I use a primer as well, two colour correcting primers. One of them's more for pores, it's by Smashbox, and I use the No7 one as well, which does the job of concealing the redness. I have a Smashbox powder, it's called Photo Finish, sets it all. I use Benefit bronzer, Hoola. I sometimes wear lipstick, sometimes don't, and if I use it, I use it very sparingly. I basically have a red one which I used to wear for shows and I dab that on, or I use rose tint Vaseline. 

B: Do you have a signature scent?

S: I wear, what's it called, it's a body spray, I don't really wear perfume. It's a Hollister one, it's something sands? [Silver Strand Beach Mist, it has manadarin, mango and coconut in  sounds lovely.]

B: Which products, if any, do you never use? 

S: This is a hard one! Erm... I know what it is. I never use eyebrow pencil. I actually own one, but I only use the brush side of it. Where my brows are dark anyway, it can be overkill if I use eyebrow pencil on them. I think it really changes someone as well. Maybe one day I'll find out the perfect way to do it and it'll be brilliant but right now I haven't and it just looks a bit silly.

B: And what's the worst product you have used?
S: I know exactly what that is! Do you remember when we were little, and there was that shimmery dust stuff? It went all over my room and my mum threw it out straight away.

B: I remember! Didn't we cut out transfers and make shapes on our skin?
S: Tattoos, yeah! How funny.

B: Aside from the shimmer stuff, do you have any beauty regrets?

S: Mine is probably when highlighting first became a thing, and I didn't own a highlighter, so I thought 'I know what'll be a good idea!' and I used white eyeshadow instead. That much contrast isn't a good look. And not finding tweezers fast enough. I look at old pictures of myself and I've got really odd eyebrows  really odd eyebrows. It's offensive.

B: Finally, do you have any tips or tricks?

S: No... [laughs] erm, my thing  I know it's around a lot and it's nothing new, but doing your under eye concealer in a triangle instead of a circle. I didn't think it would make much of a difference, but then I started doing it, and it does, I noticed.

I have to admit, until we started reminiscing I'd completely forgotten about the shimmer dust, but it was in one of those sets for children and we thought it would be a good idea to plaster ourselves with it. Well, if you can't get away with a bit of glitter when you're a child, when can you?

Did you have any make up disasters when you were little? Let me know in the comments!

Treats From... | GOSH — Primer Plus Hydration, Velvet Touch Lip Liner, and Growth Mascara

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

GOSH Primer Plus Hydration

If you've been reading my beauty posts recently then you may have noticed a certain brand making themselves more and more known in my make up bag. I am, of course, talking about GOSH, the Danish brand sold in Superdrug which I've been a fan of ever since I found their CC Cream Foundation, which is actually made in a shade pale enough for me.

Since then, I've been keen to try other products of theirs, so I thought I'd share my thoughts about what I've bought recently.

A primer tailored for dry skin, the texture of this feels less like the silicone-y, balm-y primers I'm used to and more like a gel moisturiser. It feels so comfortable on skin, and creates a beautifully smooth base for foundation. I'd advise leaving it for a couple of minutes after application, almost to let it set. It works well with liquid foundation, but I've also used it with a mineral formula and had no trouble at all. Well worth a try if your skin is on the drier side.

GOSH Growth Mascara
Left: One coat. Right: Two coats.

Growth Mascara, £9.49 for 10ml
Now, I've said this before and I'll say it again, I've never noticed a change in the length of my lashes when I've used this. But it does create pretty, separated, fluttery lashes which are perfect for day but can be built up for night, and the brush is easy to work into the inner corners of the eye to capture every lash. I'm not a fan of brushes which are too bulky, so this is a bonus for me.

GOSH Velvet Touch Lip Liner in Angel Kiss

Velvet Touch Lip Liner in Angel Kiss, £4.99
Possibly my favourite lip liner at the moment, I've been wearing the Velvet Touch Lip Liner under lipstick and also on its own (although make sure your lips are in good condition!) It defines lips, feels smooth on application, and has good staying power too — in fact, I always notice that my lipstick lasts longer when I've remembered to use it, and I really like the peachy shade. A make up bag staple.

Have you tried any of these products? What should I try next? Let me know in the comments!

Spending Ban Update #1 | #NoMoneyMay

Monday, 18 May 2015

For those of you who aren't aware, I'm currently on a spending ban, which I've named #NoMoneyMay. Beauty products, clothes, accessories, shoes, food on the go, and Graze boxes are all banned, but exceptions will be made if I run out of essentials like skincare products.

So, how has it been so far? 

Day 1 and I'm already facing my first challenge, when I end up going out for last-minute drinks with my friends. Normally I'd use this as an excuse to eat food at the pub but instead I hurriedly make some ham and mushroom pasta before leaving. Since Jess is driving me there and back I spend a grand total of £3.30 on a rum and coke (and wince at how much it costs; until I moved to Wales, I had no idea how expensive it was to drink down south).

Day 2 and I face temptation yet again, when my well-meaning dad draws my attention to an offer in Saturday's Telegraph - they're selling a box of Rituals goodies for under £20. I love, love, love their Fortune Scrub so I really think about caving in and getting the box, but there's nothing in there that I need. I let it go. In the afternoon I make the teas for my dad's cricket club and earn myself a nice £25, which goes straight into my purse and stays there. I feel smug.

Day 3. £5 from Nan. Win.

Day 4 and Dad's treating us to dinner (living at home for the summer does have its perks). I thoroughly enjoy my vegetable lasagne  is it weird that I actually prefer the veggie version to the meat one? It's not as stodgy and I have a feeling this ban would be a lot more difficult if I was still in Wales.

Day 5. Today was quiet, no temptation.

Day 6: I save a few quid on the bus fare by getting a lift into town. I go to Pork&Co, my current favourite place for food, with Dan and Spag, two of my closest friends. Socializing and all that comes with it is allowed, I'm just not allowed to be excessive, and I eat my pulled pork mac 'n' cheese without feeling guilty. I have to buy new moisturiser, which means a trip into Superdrug  so tempting, but I make it out of there without buying anything extra, yay me!

Day 7: I'm working as a poll clerk for the general election so there's no risk of going anywhere; I have a fifteen-hour working day and I'm not allowed to leave the building.

Day 8: I'm counting ballot papers today, so, again, no risk of spending any money, since lunch is provided. When I arrive home at 7 all I want to do is eat and go to bed.

Days 9 and 10: I eschew the usual trip into town (too tempting) in favour of a lazy weekend so I can catch up on blog posts and just relax after working in the election.

Day 11: So, I caved. Sort of. Not really. I'll explain: I had an appointment at the bank to discuss savings accounts, and while we were there the advisor added up the amount of debt I'm going to have by the time I leave uni. I freaked. It's not like I wasn't aware of the debt (I am) or that I don't know anything about the student loan system (I do) but I never actually had a concrete number in mind before, it was just my student loan. But of course, she said the figure out loud and it was all I could think about

So, I did what I always do in times of crisis, and shopped (because the natural response to finding out how much debt you're accumulating is to go out and spend more money. I don't understand myself sometimes). Thankfully, everything I bought was for the festival, and therefore wasn't banned, it just felt like it was because I was in panic-mode. I got a parka that folds up into a pouch (in case of rain), high-waisted shorts (I only owned one pair before and yet they're the one thing I always reach for in warm weather), and a mini cross-body bag (soooo cute). Then I went home and ate an entire bar of milk chocolate with salted butterscotch.

Day 12: I'm supposed to be going out for lunch today but the plans are cancelled. While this might not be good in terms of socialising, my bank balance is much better off.

Day 13: One of my friends asks if anyone's up for a trip to Prague. My immediate response is 'Errrr, yeah' because I've barely travelled anywhere and the older I get, the greater my wanderlust gets, but I do have to take a step back and think about the ol' bank balance. Luckily, the holiday will be relatively inexpensive, and I have savings that will cover it. I'm hoping and praying Prague will be a thing.

Day 14: I hold my hands up: I genuinely caved today. I went to M&S Simply Food with Mumma (dangerous, but I survived) and then afterwards we went to Matalan  Mumma to look for jeans, and me to see if there were any work-experience appropriate tops in there. There weren't, but they did have the cutest jumper with a Peter Pan collar, and I made the mistake of touching it and it was so soft and then I tried it on... and it fit perfectly. It was clearly meant to be so I bought it and I regret nothing. Actually, that's a lie: I feel bad for breaking the ban. In hindsight, setting one at a time when I knew I'd need to buy things was a really stupid idea (not that I need anymore jumpers). But, be proud of me, I also fell in love with a pastel blue satchel and didn't buy it, so it's good to know I still have some restraint.

Day 15: A quiet day writing blog posts and cleaning the house = no risk of spending money. And I should think not after yesterday!

Day 16: Miraculously, I don't spend anything on the trip into town, and then it's off to work at the cricket again. 

Day 17: We go for lunch at a family friend's house, miles from any shops. It's the perfect Sunday: food, family, and lots and lots of laughter. Plus Nan gives me another fiver, which is always welcome!

Despite failing, I'll be continuing with #NoMoneyMay, just to see if I can stick it out for the remainder of the month; I'll let you know how I get on in a couple of weeks' time! Wish me luck (and maybe don't hold your breath...)

Brand Focus | Balance Me Beauty

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Balance Me products

I discovered Balance Me through Glamour magazine and their beauty freebies, and my love for them grows with every product I try. Their products are as natural as possible, and they're also cruelty-free, so I thought it was about time they were the subject of a Brand Focus post. Here's what I've been loving:

Super Moisturising Body Wash
This doesn't contain any sulphates, but still lathers up rather pleasantly. I always notice how soft my skin is after I've used this  so soft, in fact, that it means I can skip moisturiser if I'm in a hurry (or, errrrrr, I can't be bothered to use it).

Super Toning Body Wash

Okay, so there's no magic fix for getting toned, just the usual healthy diet and exercise route, but this is very refreshing and it does leave my skin feeling firm and hydrated.

Moisture Rich Face Cream

This might be a bit too heavy if your complexion is oily but this is a dream for drier skins. It can take a little while to sink in but the results  smooth, comforted, hydrated skin, with none of that horrible tight feeling  are well worth it. My favourite of the bunch.

Radiance Face Mask

I've only used this once, so this just my first impressions, but I really liked it after my initial use. The mask contains grains, and despite not usually being a fan of manual exfoliators I actually found this to be very gentle, and my skin looked bright and smooth. I can't wait to start using this on a regular basis.

Have you tried anything from Balance Me? What are your favourite products? Let me know in the comments!

Lifestyle | Right Now I'm...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Pulled pork with mac 'n' cheese; my current favourite accessory; Lemon Meringue and Cosmopolitan cocktails

... listening to Love Me Like You Do by Ellie Goulding, and Style by Taylor Swift. I have absolutely no interest in Fifty Shades of Grey, and my feelings about the books could take up another post entirely so I won't go off on a rant. But the soundtrack to the film ain't too shabby, and this song in particular has been stuck in my head for weeks. As for Taylor Swift, my love for her grows more and more by the day, and Style is just so damn catchy. It's good music to listen to when you're travelling by train (which I've done quite a lot recently).

... reading Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. I spotted this in my local library recently and snapped it up  all I knew was that it was about World War 1, and that it was adapted for TV a a few years ago. It's not an overstatement to say that I adore this book. I really admire Faulks' writing because it's just so absorbing, and the emotions of the characters are captured subtly, in a way that really gets to you. I've cried a couple of times, not even at particularly dramatic points, because even though the characters are fictional, the war happened, and the men who were sent to fight didn't realise how horrific it would be. I don't often say this about a book, but Birdsong is a must-read.  

... watching The Royals. This is without a doubt the second most trashy TV show I have ever seen (number one is Keeping Up With The Kardashians, and it wins because it's real). Trashy TV has been my guilty pleasure ever since my friend Jess and I sat down at the age of thirteen and ended up watching an entire season of The Simple Life in one sitting, so The Royals was right up my street  it's so bad, it's good. It's about a fictional British royal family, some of whom have questionable English accents, and they get up to all sorts of scandalous things. It stars William Moseley, who played Peter Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia films, and, as Buzzfeed so beautifully put it, inspired many a pre-teen sexual awakening. Katy and I both think he's beautiful.

... drinking cocktails! To celebrate finishing our assignments Giulia and I went mad with the 2-for-1 cocktail offer at Peppermint Cardiff, and I discovered a new favourite: the Lemon Meringue. I can see visits to Peppermint becoming a regular thing.

... eating pulled pork from Pork&Co. I'm going to be dedicating an entire post to this place, because it's amazing, but basically they do the best pulled pork ever. It's lucky I live in Wales for most of the year because otherwise I'd be spending all my money in there.

... wearing this gorgeous statement necklace I picked up in New Look on a whim. Normally I like very delicate jewellery — midi rings, little earrings — but when it comes to necklaces, the chunkier the better. I really like this blush pink shade, and it adds a little bit of colour to my mostly black-grey-and-stripes wardrobe.

What have you been up to recently? Have you got any trashy TV show suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments!

First Impressions | Soap & Glory Birthday Box

Friday, 8 May 2015

I loooooooove Soap & Glory so naturally I was very excited when I opened my birthday present from my friend Steph: she bought me the Soap & Glory Birthday Box! We've experimented with all things beauty from a young age, as you'll see soon  Steph very kindly agreed to be one of the participants in the My Make Up Habits series, and you can catch my interview with her in a few weeks' time.

So, what's in the box?
  • One bottle of Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Shower Gel, AKA my favourite shower gel of all time.
  • One tub of The Righteous Butter, one of the few body butters I actually like (some of them are so sticky and greasy, no fanks).
  • One shower puff

Clean On Me has the classic Soap & Glory fragrance, which lasts for aaages on skin and smells lovely to boot. But the best thing about this shower gel, in my opinion, is how long it lasts. Because you only need a tiny bit on a shower puff each time, one bottle can last you well over six months with daily use so it's excellent value for money.

The Righteous Butter somehow manages to be thick and light at the same time, which is why I love it so much. I cannot stand any kind of cream which feels greasy on my skin, it makes me shudder, but my skin needs the hydration, and this is the perfect balance. I'd probably prefer it if The Righteous Butter came in a tube (I'm paranoid about making sure my hands are clean before I dip into the tub) but, then again, it'd probably be quite difficult to squeeze the product out. This also has the classic Soap & Glory scent; it's just so pretty.

Clean On Me is available here.

The Righteous Butter is available here

Are you obsessed with Soap & Glory as much as I am? What are your favourite products from the range? Let me know in the comments!

A Cruelty-Free Update | LUSH May Day Bath Bomb, and a New Cruelty-Free Index

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

When I decided to go cruelty-free, about a year and two months ago, I underestimated how difficult and confusing it would be. Not every brand is open about their animal testing policy, which makes it ten times harder than it needs to be and has led to a few mistakes on my part.

Take Bourjois, for instance. Their website says 'our products are not tested on animals ' so I assumed they were safe. They're one of my favourite high street brands so I featured them on this blog quite a lot... and then I found out that they still sell their products in China. Gutted is not the word.

And then there's Nuxe. They're a relatively new discovery of mine, but I've been raving about their lip balm and their perfume, which I received for my birthday. Marks and Spencer sell Nuxe, and since they pledged to only sell products which were cruelty-free I assumed Nuxe were a safe brand too. Then I found their Chinese website.

I'm planning to be a lot more open about being cruelty-free from now on. I want to talk more about the difficulties of knowing whether a brand is cruelty-free or not. I want to give more attention to brands who are openly cruelty-free, because (as I've discovered) a lot of them aren't. I want to talk about the Leaping Bunny and the Humane Society, and other organisations which are committed to cruelty-free beauty.

I've also made a new page: a cruelty-free index. It's a list of cruelty-free brands with a link to their animal-testing policies, so you can see for yourself what they have to say. Suggestions for additions to the list are welcome, so please let me know if you think I've missed any.

It seemed like perfect timing when I walked into LUSH Cardiff a couple of weeks ago to find their new May Day bath bomb: all proceeds (minus VAT) go towards the Votes For Animals campaign. The bomb itself is lovely, with a badger face and paw print, and it contains fennel oil, rosewood oil, and bergamot oil, which creates a really sweet smell (the website describes it as 'sherbety', which I would agree with). Unfortunately it started to crumble before I could take a photo of it (dragging it across the country in suitcase probably didn't help!) but it made my skin feel really soft, and I felt very calm and relaxed after my bath.

I didn't know anything about Votes For Animals prior to my trip to LUSH Cardiff. Basically, you can go to their website and find links to various campaigns relating to animals. You can go to Animal Aid to find out where your local MP stands on animal issues, visit the Common Decency website (which looks at MPs as individuals instead of parties as a whole), and visit the League Against Cruel Sports website too. I still haven't decided who I'm going to vote for (and the election is tomorrow!) but all of this has definitely given me food for thought.

The LUSH May Day Bath Bomb costs £2.95.

Have you ever considered going cruelty-free? What experiences have you had with brands and animal testing? Let me know in the comments!

Review | A Clear Lip Liner? The Body Shop Lip Line Fixer

Monday, 4 May 2015

Okay, so when I first saw The Body Shop did a clear lip liner I was like 'Wut?' but when I actually thought about it, it made a lot of sense. A 'one shade suits all' approach doesn't always work, but I think in this case it has some merit. I haven't always worn lip liner, but since becoming a convert I've discovered that matching your liner to your lippie can be a challenging and expensive endeavour (especially when you switch shades on a daily basis).

And that's where Lip Line Fixer comes in. It's a clear pencil which, like a regular lip liner, is designed to define the outline of the lips and seal in any colour, preventing feathering. The website describes it as 'creamy', but I actually think it has more of a waxy texture. Either way, it doesn't drag, and because it's retractable you don't have to worry about needing a sharpener.

That, I'm afraid, is where my praise ends, because when I use this I barely notice a difference. My natural cupid's bow is a little bit wonky (it's not symmetrical or particularly defined) and I usually use lip liner to correct this, but Lip Line Fixer doesn't really change anything. I don't know whether it's just because it's clear, and more difficult to see where you're applying it  maybe the fault lies with me  but I've tried this over and over again and had the same result each time. I haven't noticed a difference in terms of longevity either. I really wanted to love it but it's just not working for me.

Lip Line Fixer costs £8 and is available here.

Have you ever tried a clear lip liner before? Is it something you could see yourself using? Let me know in the comments!

The Spending Ban | #NoMoneyMay

Friday, 1 May 2015

Yep, I went there with the hashtag.

My student loan may have just come in, but with a summer retainer, train tickets, and a new iPod to pay for (mine broke and I has a sad),  I am by no means rolling in it. I do have some work to do over the summer break, but it's sporadic. Oh, and I'm going to my first ever festival next month. I'm ridiculously excited about it, but festivals do not come cheap, I've discovered, so I thought it was about time I brought back the spending ban.

I did one last year and it was great, but it was really more of an experiment — I wanted to see if I could actually do it. This year I have a purpose *inhales dramatically*: I want to save money so that I can last the festival (and the rest of the summer) without getting broke.

So, what are the rules?


1. All beauty products, except festival necessities like sun cream, and anything vital I happen to run out of. By vital, I mean things like moisturiser and make up remover, not lipstick.

2. Clothes/shoes/bags/accessories (apart from socks for my wellies!)

3. Buying food and drink on the go. No Boots meal deals, no sun-dried tomato bruschetta and feta cheese dip from Tesco, no Naked smoothies. I'll be taking bottles of water and homemade lunches with me instead.

4. Graze boxes *sobs*

In short, anything that's not necessary (like travel costs) is forbidden. I'm allowing myself to socialize, because for the majority of May I'll be back home and wanting to catch up with everyone there, but I'm going to be strict about the amount I spend. No extra food (I'm guilty of ordering cheesy garlic bread as a 'small snack' when I go to the pub) and no pricey taxis if possible — I'll be relying on public transport and lifts from people (and by people I mainly mean my friend Dan, who is basically my personal chauffeur) instead.

I'll let you know how I've been getting on with #NoMoneyMay in two weeks' time. Wish me luck!

Have you ever been on a spending ban? Is there anything you're saving up for? Let me know in the comments!

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