Looking Back at My 2016 Goals

Friday, 30 December 2016

And just like that, I'm writing the last blog post of 2016.

Isn't that crazy? It always seems like time passes so quickly without much happening, but then I think about everything I've crammed into the year and realise that actually, I've been busy for most of it.

I've seen a lot of people say they can't wait to put 2016 behind them and I can't say I blame them, frankly.

But in personal terms this year has been pretty damn good. Full of changes, but I've finally got to the point where I find this prospect more exciting than terrifying (we'll see how long that lasts!)

I had a look back at my goals for 2016 to see if things panned out the way I planned them...

Looking back
I'd like to think I was contemplating something deep and meaningful, but I'm pretty sure I was just amazed at how big the Atlantic Ocean is.

Cruelty-Free Favourites from 2016

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

This was originally supposed to be a Top 5 post.

But as much as I'd like to be, I'm not very good at minimalism when it comes to beauty. I like having choice when I get ready in the morning. The products I choose depend on my mood, how much time I have, and where I'm going.

So instead of choosing a Top 5 straight away, I photographed everything I really loved and then picked five favourites for each category  the five things I really can't imagine living without.

Favourite 2016 Make-Up (Part 2)

LoveLula Beauty Box, December 2016

Friday, 23 December 2016

Is it really that time again already?

December has gone by so quickly  even more so than the rest of the year  and I can't believe it's Christmas in two days!

It felt like Christmas had come early when this month's LoveLula Beauty Box arrived at my house. There's a sugar scrub for the shower from PHB Ethical Beauty, fancy skincare from Madara, and even a little bottle of oil from John Masters Organics, who make my favourite hair treatment (Rose & Apricot Hair Milk).

It's about time I shared my first impressions, so let's take a closer look inside...

LoveLula Beauty Box December 2016

Cruelty-Free Bathroom Essentials from PHB Ethical Beauty

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

After such a good experience trying PHB Ethical Beauty's Skin Brighten Gel for the first time, I couldn't wait to check out more of their product range.

I ended up finding everything you need in your bathroom, from your head to your toes. Shampoo, soap, body wash, body lotion... the works.

PHB Ethical Beauty is a British family business that makes natural, vegan, and Halal products  all of them cruelty-free. They've taken care to use packaging made from recycled sources (which can be recycled again) so their eco-friendly credentials are pretty damn good too.

(PHB stands for Pure, Handmade, British.)

PHB Ethical Beauty Volumising Shampoo and Conditioner

In My Make-Up Bag: Everyday Products for the Festive Season

Monday, 19 December 2016

I love seeing everyone's suggestions for Christmas party looks and beauty products, but I always struggle when it comes to deciding what to pick. I end up wanting to do everything at once and never know where to start! So this year, rather than create a whole new look from scratch, I've added a few festive additions to my make-up bag.

A little bit of gold, a little bit of red, a little bit of sparkle  sorted. A Christmas cliché? Undoubtedly. But if you can't have fun with your make-up at this time of year, when can you?

Lush Sugar Plum Fairy Lip Scrub, Fairfield Gardens Raspberry Rose Lip Balm

What I Ate #2 — Meat-Free Meals Out

Thursday, 15 December 2016

I won't lie to you  I was worried about how giving up meat and cutting down on dairy would affect my experiences when I go out to eat.

More specifically, I was worried that there wouldn't be much for me to choose from.

Going out for food is something I do quite a lot and catching up with friends or family over a good meal is one of life's joys, so I was never going to stop doing it; I just need to adapt.

It's been an interesting eye-opener, to say the least.

roasted cauliflower soup

The Impulse Buy: Sleek i-Lust Eyeshadow Palette in Diamonds in the Rough

Monday, 12 December 2016

It was the packaging that got me first.

Matte black with a jagged geometric diamond design in holographic silver; it looks so gorgeous when it catches the light. The box is a complete contrast, with shades of soft pink and peach.

And then there are the shadows themselves. Gold, rose gold, powders, creams... everything you need in a festive eyeshadow palette. There's even a double-ended brush, and one of the ends is an actual brush instead of a disappointing sponge.

As we all do from time to time, I popped the extra make-up I didn't need in my basket and went on my way.

Sleek i-Lust Eyeshadow Palette in Diamonds in the Rough (packaging)

7 Life Lessons from 2016

Sunday, 11 December 2016

I think we'd all agree that as a whole, 2016 has been an absolute shitter of a year.

But on a personal level, things haven't been too bad for me, though I've certainly had my ups and downs (as we all do). I've got a lot to be proud of and a lot to be grateful for  something I try and remember when it feels like the whole world is on fire. I also feel like I've learned a lot this year.

Gingerbread Graduate

5 Dairy-Free Substitutes for Everyday Foods

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

I've talked about how difficult I'm finding it to stop eating dairy products, so today I'm going completely the other way  I've made a list featuring five of the everyday substitutes I've found so far.

All of them are easy to get hold of in supermarkets, which is for the best. Mostly because I can't really justify weekly trips to my local Wholefoods (I just end up spending too much money on snacks. All the snacks).

Dairy-Free Staples

Green People Christmas Collection

Monday, 5 December 2016

I'm going to get straight to the point: Green People's Christmas collection is absolutely bloody gorgeous and would make a great gift for anyone who loves beauty.

This year it has a butterfly theme  all of the packaging is decorated with beautiful illustrations and a donation from each gift going to the Butterfly Conservation, which protects and preserves British butterflies, moths, and the environment. 

Green People gift bag


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

It feels like November has both sped by and dragged on.

I swear it was just yesterday we were all talking about Lush's Halloween collection, and yet I've read enough stories about the US election to last me a lifetime. (I suspect there'll be plenty more in the coming months and years.)

Seeing the fear and helplessness unfold once the result was confirmed was heartbreaking, especially on the other side of the pond. As a reminder that there's still some good in the world, Katie Brennan set up the #TodayImGrateful hashtag and I suggest heading there if everything that's going on in the world is getting to you. It's completely and utterly heartwarming, and anyone can join in. I try and take part most days. (I've noticed there's at least one food-related item on there every time. No shame!)

Vegan Beauty From Arbonne

Monday, 28 November 2016

I barely knew anything about Arbonne before I tried these products.

I love that, though. I love trying out new brands, seeing what works for me (and what doesn't). I love knowing there's another cruelty-free option out there for everyone to use.

Arbonne's philosophy can be summed up in three words: pure, safe, and beneficial.

Arbonne Make-Up

When Adult Acne Comes Back

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Back in April I wrote about the things that help to clear up my acne.

That's the end of that, I thought. I've been through my acne phase and we can all move on. (There were even a few days in June and July when I left the house with a completely bare face.)

Except I can't move on. It came back.

Sad pug
This is how I feel when I'm hiding from the world. We've all been there.

LoveLula Beauty Box, November 2016

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Surprise post is my favourite.

Not the boring kind, like letters from the bank trying to flog you products you don't want or need, but fun post, like parcels.

So I was very excited when the postman delivered the November edition of LoveLula's Beauty Box* to my door. Trying new products is one of my favourite things to do, but I've never really bought into the whole beauty box thing before (most of them feature brands that are non-CF, so it's a waste of money).

Fortunately, the LoveLula box is full of cruelty-free products, with plenty of natural ingredients to boot. (You also get 20% off the brands featured in the box, just in case you fall in love with any of the samples.)

LoveLula Beauty Box, November 2016

Cruelty-Free Evening Shower Routine

Monday, 21 November 2016

There are few things I look forward to more than coming home to jump into a hot shower.

I don't really have the time (or patience) for baths these days, but showers? I bloody love them. And since I like to spend as much time as possible in bed every morning, I shower at night so I can wind down before I go to sleep.

I switch my products up quite a lot, but there are three I've been coming back to recently (and all of them are suitable for vegans!)

Naturelle Coffee Scrub

5 Favourite Dairy-Free Snacks

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Giving up dairy is hard.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm not quite managing it at the moment but I think it's much healthier to take it a step at a time. Once you start to look for it, you realise dairy products are everywhere.

Fortunately I've found plenty of dairy-free snacks to keep me going, no matter what the occasion.

Booja Booja Ice Cream

The Battle for Groomed Brows, with NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Oh, eyebrows, how I love you.

At least, I love you when you look good.

But making my brows look halfway decent isn't always easy. They're incredibly sparse, my right eyebrow has a random bald patch, and you know the saying Your eyebrows should be sisters, not twins? I'm pretty sure mine aren't even related.

High street brow products

5 People I See On My Commute

Monday, 14 November 2016

Once you get into the swing of commuting, you find yourself noticing a little bit more than you did previously.

This makes it perfect for people-watching.

And I've had plenty of time to observe everyone around me over the past few months. On my twice-daily train journeys in and out of London, I've noticed first and foremost that the world really is a diverse place, which is wonderful. But I've also noticed that there are a few stereotypes mixed in with it all.

I see the same people every day.

5 People I See On My Commute

Cruelty-Free Eye Cream: Budget vs. High End

Sunday, 13 November 2016

I go through phases with eye cream.

Sometimes I forget to use it and sometimes I'm obsessed; there is no in-between.

For the past few months I've been obsessed because I've been trying out two eye creams from Love Lula  one budget option, and one high end option.

But which one is better?

Budget: Laidbare Pack Your Bags Lighten & Tighten Eye Cream*

They say: Pack those bags and say goodbye to sleepy eyes! Our clever eye cream contains buckwheat wax, an incredible ingredient to help reduce puffiness and dark circles. Shea butter hydrates and eyebright helps reduce the appearance of redness and brightens the skin.

High End: Antipodes Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream*

They say: A luscious yet light eye cream that provides a cooling and soothing sensory experience. Super rich Vitamin C from the seed of the New Zealand kiwi works superbly to repair damaged tissue. Assists in tissue repair, hydration and moisture. Clinically shown to stimulate synthesis of collagen production in human skin cells by up to 82%. Serves to improve skin tone and complexion and awaken tired, dull skin.

I've been using the Laidbare cream on my left eye and the Antipodes cream on my right (for side-by-side comparison purposes) since the end of August.

Working Out What's Important (and What Really Doesn't Matter)

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

One of the biggest lessons I learnt at university was that it's okay to like what you like.

It sounds so simple and obvious when you write it down as plainly as that, but after being around people at university who looked down at everyone and everything that didn't conform to their own personal views of how things should be, I started getting into the habit of explaining myself.

The light bulb moment came when my friend Lannee looked at me during one of these explanations and said, "Beth, you don't have to justify yourself."

And she was right.

I'd become so accustomed to backing up my opinions, no matter how straightforward or inconsequential they were, that I'd begun to defend myself automatically. Putting the disclaimers out there, just in case. (I still have to stop myself from doing it when I meet new people.)

So I made a list. A list of things that are both big (people and my career) and relatively smaller (my skincare habits. Seriously, I'm obsessed) so I could get some clarity about what matters and what doesn't. And I'm sharing some of the list today.

Working Out What's Important

Doesn't matter: What other people think of me  it's none of my business and you're never gonna please everyone.
Does matter: What I think of me.

Doesn't matter: Having a traditional 9-5 job. Well, if the job is right for me then I'll take it, but I'm also open to finding something less conventional if it suits me.
Does matter: Getting my writing career going.

Doesn't matter: Publishing a fiction novel.
Does matter: Publishing a book of my own autobiographical writing, with plenty biography thrown in for good measure. I love reading fiction but I find non-fiction so much more fulfilling to write.

Doesn't matter: People who look down on my eating habits (no meat, limited dairy, and plenty of avocado on toast, fyi).
Does matter: Making my eating habits as ethical as I can, and eating healthy food that also tastes amazing.

Doesn't matter: Sleeping in a tent with no access to hot water or clean toilets. Sounds like a random one but you'd be surprised by the amount of people who think I'm missing out by not having any interest in camping. I like walls and a solid roof over my head, ta.
Does matter: Sleeping in a comfortable bed with a bathroom mere feet away.

Doesn't matter: Anyone who tells me my skincare routine is 'excessive'.
Does matter: Cleanser, acid toner, face oil, moisturiser, spot treatment. Happy skin.

And perhaps most important of all...

Does matter: My friends and family. Spending time with them is what keeps me going and I want them to be happy.

What's important to you? And what doesn't matter? Let me know in the comments!

Snow Fairy and Friends

Monday, 7 November 2016

Snow Fairy is my favourite Lush scent.

No. Ignore that.

Snow Fairy is my favourite scent ever.

It's cute and comforting, and yes, I will say it, it reminds me of Christmas. Which makes more than enough sense seeing as Snow Fairy is a solid part of the Lush's festive range!

I'll admit, I went into my local store on the very first day they released the festive range because I just couldn't wait. I ended up with a bottle of Snow Fairy Shower Gel, the Magic Wand, and the new Snow Fairy Body Conditioner.

Emma (the assistant  very friendly and helpful) did show me some shimmering powder but as tempted as I was, I didn't buy it because I just can't see myself wearing it regularly. The dress code in my office is very casual but I think even they would draw the line at glitter.

Snow Fairy and Magic Wand

Snow Fairy Shower Gel, from £3.95 for 100g

Let's start with the original. This candyfloss shower gel has been one of the loves of my beauty life ever since I first gave it a sniff. Bright pink with subtle silver lustre running through it, it smells of bubblegum and sweets and everything good in the world. It also leaves my skin thoroughly cleansed, although I would recommend using a moisturiser afterwards.

Snow Fairy Body Conditioner

Snow Fairy Body Conditioner, from £7.95 for 100g

I'm guessing it wouldn't be a surprise if I told you the conditioner was pink? It's a lighter colour than the shower gel, more of a marshmallow pink, but with the exact same scent (of course!) which means you can layer them.

You simply apply the body conditioner in the shower, leave it for a mo, and then rinse it off. I love this idea in theory, since it's less faff, but no matter how much rinsing I do I'm left with a sticky residue on my skin, which I'm not a fan of. For that reason, I wouldn't buy it again.

(Can we have a Snow Fairy body lotion please? With a texture like Dream Cream? I would buy tubs and tubs of it.)

However, what I do love is that the person on the Lush website who's applying the body conditioner is a man with tattoos. There is something wonderful about knowing a man with body art is taking the time to use a pink moisturiser that smells of sweets. More men should feel free to do this.

Snow Fairy and Friends

Magic Wand reusable bubble bar, £5.95

I was never the girl who wanted all things pink and glittery while I was growing up, but how can you not love a fairy wand covered in sparkles? All you do is swish Magic Wand around in the bath for a bit and there you go - candy-scented bubbles.

I love having a Snow Fairy-scented bath but Magic Wand is not particularly practical. Where on earth do you store it? You can't leave it to dry out on the side in the bathroom because it won't; it's too damp. But it stains everything pink, so where else can it go? I have it balanced in a storage box with the star poking out and I must say it's making my room smell lovely. But I think Lush need to start selling a bigger tin.

Have you tried any of the Snow Fairy range? What's your favourite festive scent? Let me know in the comments!

What I Ate In a Day #1 — The Transition Phase

Sunday, 6 November 2016

When I wrote my Giving Up Meat and Dairy post, I asked if people would be interested if I started writing about food and what type of posts they'd like to read if so.

The answer to the first question was a definite yes and I got a fair few comments and tweets suggesting I do What I Ate in a Day posts. I probably would have written them anyway, because I love reading them and wanted to have a go myself, but it's nice to know that people are interested all the same!

This particular day was a weekday, so I was at work, and I'm calling it the transition phase because although giving up meat has been way easier than I thought it would be, giving up dairy hasn't been so straightforward. But I'm taking things one step at a time, and trying not to pressure myself.

Nakd Nibbles (Coconut)


Banana oat smoothie

My smoothie obsession began when I was struggling to function in the morning after starting my internship and needed something that was easy to take with me, in case I didn't have time to eat at home.

This particular smoothie is easy to make  you just blend frozen banana, yogurt, oats, and almond butter together, and then top it with whatever you fancy (I like blueberries). The frozen banana gives it an ice-cream-esque texture which feels really indulgent.

At the moment I'm using natural yogurt which isn't dairy free because the only alternatives I've found contain soya, which my skin hates. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Soup ingredients

Mid-morning snack

Graze Zesty Lime & Red Pepper Salsa with Wholemeal Pitta Chips

By the time 11am rolls round I've already been awake for five and a half hours, so getting to lunchtime without having a snack is impossible (trust me, I've tried). I get my Graze boxes sent on Saturdays so that I have four snacks ready to go for the week ahead  four is normally enough because we go out to eat on Fridays and lunch tends to be a bit more filling  and I like not knowing what to expect each week.

The lime and red pepper salsa is a favourite of mine and you get just the right amount of pitta chips for dipping. Although I must confess, I do get paranoid that everyone in the office can hear me crunching away  does anyone else ever feel like this?


Creamy green vegetable soup; rosemary focaccia bread roll from Pret

This soup contains peas, broccoli, courgettes and cannellini beans and I'll be posting the recipe once I've managed to take some decent photos of it! It's quickly becoming one of my staples because takes less than fifteen minutes to put together and makes a comforting cold-weather lunch.

I'm not sure there's much you can say about bread, except that it's delicious and perfect for dipping. (Plus I got mine on the house the other day, which was an unexpected but welcome surprise.)

Butternut squash and chickpea curry
No, I don't eat my dinner in bed! But the lighting in my kitchen is shit, to be frank, so I had to photograph the curry in my bedroom instead.

Afternoon snack

Nakd Coconut Bliss Fruit & Nut Nibbles

I don't know what I'd do without Nakd's snacks, I really don't! I like a lot of their range but the coconut nibbles are by far the tastiest, in my opinion, and you get just the right amount to perk you up when the afternoon slump inevitably hits. The ingredients are simple: dates, cashews, raisins, cocoa, and toasted coconut, plus a little rice flour and natural flavouring.


Butternut squash and chickpea curry with wholegrain rice

A recipe I created myself which has fast become one of my new favourites. Roasted butternut squash, cauliflower, chickpeas, red onion and spinach, all cooked in a coconut milk and lime sauce (with a little bit of korma paste for extra flavour). Delicious and filling, it's a dish I love coming home to, or taking into work the next day for lunch.

What kind of thing do you eat on a weekday? And do you have any dairy-free yogurt suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Bee Good Award Winners

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

You may remember a time a while back when it felt like almost every blogger was featuring British skincare brand Bee Good.

I read every review with interest (especially since they were pretty much all positive!) but never got round to trying any of their products. Until now.

Before we start, here's a little bit about the brand. Bee Good was founded in 2008 by Simon, a beekeeper, and his wife, Caroline. Caroline was interested in using the excess honey and beeswax to create skincare products and so the brand was born. I really love that they've found a use for the excess instead of simply throwing it away.

I received the Award Winners* gift pack, £9.50, which contains a small 30ml tube of the much-hyped Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser and 10ml of the Vanilla & Honey Lip Balm.

Bee Good Award Winners

Honey & Propolis 2-in-1 Cream Cleanser, £11.50 for 100ml

The gift pack comes with a teeny muslin cloth, which is so small that there's no point it even being there; I may use it as a duster. But the cleanser itself is lovely. The creamy texture feels soft and nourishing on the skin, without being too heavy, while the eucalyptus scent reminds me strongly of Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish  something to bear in mind if you like/dislike that particular smell, although the honey in this does balance it out a bit.

I would only ever use this as a morning and/or second cleanser, though, because it stings like nothing else when you use it to take your make-up off. This is never welcome, but it's especially unwelcome when you have to put contact lenses in the next day.

That said, the Honey & Propolis Cleanser hasn't upset my skin or caused an acne flare-up, nor did I wake up with panda eyes the next day. I won't be investing in the full-size version but I'd be happy to use it in the mornings for now.

Vanilla & Honey Lip Balm, £4.75 for 10ml

I'll be upfront: I'm in love. I am not loyal to lip balms in the slightest and try to have as many on the go as possible (insert your own jokes here) but this is definitely one I can see myself buying again. Smooth and moisturising with a sweet scent, it glides on lips and has a long-lasting effect, instead of drying your skin out about half an hour or so.

For some reason I was convinced this had white chocolate in, but no  it's the sweetness of the vanilla and honey that does it. Some may find it quite sickly but I have to admit, I like it. It's comforting in the same way your favourite dessert is after you've had a difficult day.

Have you tried anything from Bee Good before? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!


Monday, 31 October 2016

I think October might be my favourite month.

The winter coat comes out, my tartan scarves go on, and I get to make all my favourite comfort food. (Well, I do that no matter what the time of year, but it just feels right.)

I'll be honest, I've got into such a routine now that the days all seem to blur into one, but I do have some October highlights:

Lush Sparkly Pumpkin

Watching the Alvin Ailey Dance Company live.

I saw them at Sadlers Wells and they took my breath away. Six years later and they did exactly the same again; I've never known time to go by so fast. They performed four numbers (including their famous piece, Revelations) and there was never a point where I started to wonder what was next. I was just in the moment - to the point where I forgot that I was sitting in a theatre  and it was a beautiful place to be.

Miss Saigon's 25th anniversary.

Okay, so the actual anniversary was two years ago but they've only just shown the recording in cinemas. It was so worth the wait. I already knew the soundtrack so it was wonderful to put some visuals to the music, and I was very proud of myself for not crying (although there were many close calls!) Favourite parts include the Eva Noblezada's performance in the latter half of Act 1, Lea Salonga's appearance at the end, and pretty much everything Jon Jon Briones said or did.

Finding a dairy-free milk I like.

A small thing, maybe, but buying coconut milk has given me more freedom with cooking. I'm working on some foodie posts to share at some point but they won't be rushed out because I want them to be good quality.

Lush Boo and Sparkly Pumpkin

I watched... Steps: The Reunion and Steps: On The Road Again. I loved a good documentary and I love a good nostalgia trip, so finding these programmes about Steps when I was off sick felt like a lifeline at the time. I remember doing the dance routines when I was younger and wanting to be in a band so badly (the fact I can't sing did not factor into this).

I read... The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, a fascinating look at what makes somebody a psychopath (according to a checklist by Bob Hare) and The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. I got through The Girl On The Train in a matter of days and loved it, although for the first time in my life I managed to guess the twist correctly; I guess I'm getting better at picking up on clues!

I listened to... I Remember by AlunaGeorge, Good Grief by Bastille, and Shine by Years & Years.

I bought... Some new pyjamas from Boux Avenue. So damn cosy (and they come in their own little bag!) They were, and still are, on a buy-one-get-one-free offer, so if you need some winter pjs now might be the time to snap them up. 

Blog posts I loved:

Product of the month: It was difficult to decide but I had to go for Lush Big Shampoo in the end. My hair loves it as a once-weekly detox treat.

How was October for you? Let me know in the comments!

Post-Uni Problems: No More Daytime Naps

Sunday, 30 October 2016

No lie, one of the main things I miss about university is being able to nap during the middle of the day.

I can't do that now. I work 9am-6pm five days a week, and napping on the train during my commute just isn't the same as curling up in a cosy bed.

I also don't think my superiors would be too impressed if I brought in a blanket and snuggled up underneath my desk for some shut-eye  I try and wake myself up with a snack and a small screen break instead.

So when the lovely people from Holland and Barrett offered to send me a bespoke sleeping bag full of products to help me sleep better at night and stay more awake during the day, I jumped at the chance, and I'm sharing my favourites with you today.

(I'm a daytime dozer, apparently  you can take the sleep quiz here.)

Holland and Barrett Sleeping Bag

During the Day

Early mornings are definitely my least favourite thing. I'm used to my routine now, so waking up isn't quite as excruciating as it used to be, but I still wince whenever I set my alarm for 5:30am.

At Home

To brighten up my breakfast I've been adding Cherry Active Concentrate* to my pint of water in the morning; it's 100% concentrated cherry juice so I make mine quite weak. It's a nice change from regular tap water and I do feel a bit more perky after drinking it, but I'm not sure if this is because of the juice or whether it's a placebo effect. I don't think I'd seek it out but I'm enjoying trying it out regardless.

Most of the time I shower at night so I have less to do in the morning, but occasionally I need something extra to wake me up, and that's where Miaroma's Peppermint Pure Essential Oil* comes in. If you add a couple of drops to a bath it creates a cooling effect and the peppermint scent is so refreshing. Beware: this is definitely something to do in the morning or in summer when you're too hot. Don't make the same mistake I did the first time and add it to an evening bath  it's not quite the same (read: it gets bloody chilly).

On the Train

Both the Metro and the London Evening Standard always have more than one sudoku puzzle so I work my way through those on my train journeys and honestly, it's such a good way to kill time. Plus the sense of achievement I get from completing one of them (especially the difficult ones) is surprisingly cheering: it's a little victory, but a victory nonetheless.

At Work

As I mentioned earlier, I tend to snack in the afternoon and normally reach for a Nakd bar for a bit of an energy boost. My current favourite flavour is Bakewell Tart (which tastes just like marzipan, heaven) but I've also been enjoying the chocolate orange variety lately. Oh, and they're dairy-free, too!

Holland and Barrett Sleeping Bag products


Once I've got home and had dinner, I shower and get into my pyjamas as soon as humanly possible. I've been trying out Dr Organic Lavender Skin Lotion* post-shower and I have to say, I'm impressed. It's thick lotion but it sinks in unbelievably quickly, leaves skin nice and smooth, and the lavender scent isn't overpowering in the slightest.

Although the Mioroma Relaxing Lavender Temple Balm* is designed for dotting at, well, the temples, I must confess that I don't actually put it there. One of the places my acne tends to flare up is round my hairline and temples, so I make do with the wrists instead. The lavender-scented balm doesn't leave too much of a sticky residue on the skin and while I know not everyone is a fan of the smell of lavender, I find it very soothing at night. I've been keeping this little pot with my hand cream and lip balm so I don't forget to use it.

I always try and make time to read before I go to sleep, even if it's only for five minutes or so. I tend to save anything that requires a bit more concentration (thrillers, for example  I just finished The Girl On The Train) for my commute and anything more lighthearted for bedtime. I'm currently loving Pretty Iconic by Sali Hughes, which is a lovely, nostalgic look at beauty products from times gone by.

What did you do to get a good night's sleep? And how do you stop yourself from dozing during the day? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Monsoon Rose Gold Perfume

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finding a perfume you love can be something of a challenge.

Finding a cruelty-free perfume you love? Even more so.

So I was delighted when I got the opportunity to try Monsoon Rose Gold* and found myself wearing it every day without fail.

Rose Gold is what I like to think of as a year-round fragrance. It's light enough for summer but it doesn't feel out of place now the weather has turned cold, either. The scent is pretty, fresh, and floral, and it develops really nicely once it settles on the skin. Sparkling lemon is layered with rose, tuberose, neroli, and cyclamen, while the base notes (Eastern woods, vanilla, mosses, musk, and balsamic amber, which sounds like a condiment) balance out the sweetness.

I have to mention Rose Gold's staying power: I spritz it on at about 6am each morning and by the time I arrive home at 8pm I can still smell it. Impressive.

The bottle is simple and classy, with a lid that reminds me of the perfume bottles my nana kept on her dressing table, which is a nice nostalgia trip. And at £24 for 30ml, it won't break the bank.

Have you tried Rose Gold before? What would your ideal perfume be? Let me know in the comments!

When You Graduate and Your Career Becomes Everyone's Business

Monday, 24 October 2016

I've noticed a definite shift in people's attitudes since I graduated from university.

Things are all exciting when you're getting results and going to your ceremony, but once the cap and gown have been returned and the photos have been shared it's back to reality, and it can be grim.

No, actually  scrap that. Other people sticking their noses in can be grim.

When Your Career Becomes Everyone's Business

Some people are interested and supportive and sweet, and I love them for it. Others have strong opinions about what's best for you, no matter how little they know you, and they aren't afraid to share them. Those people can do one.

Well-meaning advice and suggestions are welcome; judgement is not.

A lot of the judgement seems to stem from the fact that my first role in the workplace post-uni is an internship, not a job. The concept of an internship baffles a lot of people, particularly those of an older generation, but I felt like it was the right thing for me.

Post-uni, I decided I wanted experience at a digital marketing agency so I could work on a variety of different projects. I wanted to work as some kind of content writer. I wanted to work in London. My internship gives me the opportunity to do all of those things and I'm learning a lot, without the commitment of a permanent role, which makes it less daunting. I'm discovering what I want and what I don't want from my career.

In short: It's valuable experience that I'm very grateful to be getting.

For some people, this is not enough. They think I should already have a substantial salary, a job role they've heard of, and that I should have moved out of my parents' house (like I wouldn't have if I could!). But these things aren't easy to get, especially when you're only just starting out. And the roots we choose to go down in life aren't as set in stone as they used to be.

I have so many options and I need to think about what's right for me.

Of course, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks  if they disapprove of the decisions I make then that's their problem, not mine. You can never please everyone and I try to remember that when things start to get to me. But I really needed to vent about this, and maybe there are other graduates out there experiencing the same thing?

In an ideal world I'd cheerily be able to tell anyone who looks down their nose to fuck off and mind their own business, but I can't (and won't) because I'd rather be polite than confrontational. So how would you/did you deal with this type of situation? And can you relate to it? Let me know in the comments!

Two Vegan Halloween Buys from Lush

Sunday, 23 October 2016

My favourite thing about Halloween is definitely buying Lush products.

Halloween has never been a holiday I've loved, particularly. At uni it meant throwing on a pair of cat ears and scrawling whiskers on myself before going out to make the most of the cheap drink offers.

Now I'm working, going out out on Halloween is not an option and I fully intend on having a soak in the bath with a bubble bar.

LUSH Boo Bath Melt

Boo (v), £3.50 

I couldn't wait to use Boo after I bought it; I had such high hopes. And it's lovely. I always get excited when I find a Lush bath product that contains cocoa butter, which is the main ingredient of this bath melt, because it really works to soften the skin.

The scents are subtle and gorgeous too  bergamot, geranium, ginger, sandalwood, mandarin... all in the form of oils for extra moisturisation. Grab yourself a Boo (or two!) before they're gone.

Sparkly Pumpkin (v), £3.95 

Of all the bath products I tried last autumn, Sparkly Pumpkin is the one that stuck in my mind so I was thrilled when I found out Lush were bringing it back! Normally I'm not into any of the glitter (or lustre, as they call it) that Lush seem to be putting into more and more of their bath products, but I'm happy to make an exception for this.

Sparkly Pumpkin is a bubble bar  you simply break off a chunk and crumble it underneath the hot tap to create lots of lovely bubbles. Juniper, lime, and grapefruit combine to create a refreshing citrus-y scent with a little bit of warmth, which makes it ideal for pretty much any kind of day. I'll be using mine in the evenings when I need to wind down after work.

Have you tried any of the Lush Halloween products? What would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

A Month Without Meat and Dairy (Sort Of)

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Four weeks ago I told you all how I'd decided to cut meat and dairy out of my diet, so today's post is an update on how that's going and everything I've learned so far.

I can't remember the actual date I started and in hindsight I kinda regret not making a note of it, but my feelings were (and are) that I didn't wanna pile too much pressure on myself. I think this approach is working well so far!

Tucking into bruschetta-inspired tomatoes on wholemeal sourdough toast. It was absolutely delicious but I stank of garlic for the rest of the day!

Giving up meat has been easy

At the start I thought I would miss pepperoni pizza, pulled pork, and chucking chicken into my pesto pasta. But actually, I haven't really found myself wanting to eat meat much at all. I very nearly caved when I went to Honest Burger with my colleagues (even my head of department, who's pescatarian, admitted that their burgers were worth slipping up for) but my friend Rachel, who's vegan, told me to 'Think of the face' when I'm tempted, and it works. So I had the veggie burger instead and you know what? It was lush.

Giving up dairy? Not so much

I'm finding dairy so difficult to cut out  it's everywhere! So rather than imposing a blanket ban, I'm taking one food at a time and finding an alternative (I'll be compiling a post about substitutes once I've build up a good list of them). Sacla make a dairy-free pesto which tastes exactly the same as their regular one, so that was easy, and since I've found dairy-free butter and coconut milk I've been working on a recipe for vegan cheese sauce.

Dealing with cravings can be tricky

Normally I crave savoury foods like nachos with salsa and houmous with crackers, so they're easy to cope with. But the other day I really, really wanted some chocolate  proper milk chocolate  and nothing else would do. I'll admit, I eventually caved and bought a bar of Lindt Lindor, but I also asked my fellow #cfbloggers what they do when the cravings strike. The conclusion? I need to stock up on Vego bars, dark chocolate, Booja Booja ice cream, and mango sorbet. I'm also planning to subscribe to The Vegan Kind's monthly box to see what else I might like.

I haven't found a vegan cheese I like yet...

Lots of you recommended Violife so I bought a block, but it didn't taste good when I tried to make cheese on toast  in fact, it tasted like plastic. I haven't tried it straight out of the fridge yet (my first experience has put me off a bit) but I haven't given up hope that I can find a dairy-free cheese I love.

... but Sainsbury's have released some vegan Gary

Yep, Sainsbury's have a whole range of vegan cheese, including my favourite of all-time, Wensleydale with cranberries. I have a feeling this is going to make Christmas a hell of a lot easier.

How did you cope when you first gave up meat and dairy? Do you have any dairy-free snack suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

A Hair Detox

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Sometimes my hair is the bane of my life.

A little overdramatic, maybe, but it never does what I want it to do and despite my best efforts, it insists on frizzing up at every opportunity.

The solution, I've decided, is to stop fighting it. My hair will never be sleek and silky, but I can do a wavy, mussed-up bed-head reasonably well.

I'm also trying to take better care of my hair by reducing the amount of heat-styling I do (not always easy in winter, admittedly) and treating it with good quality products. I want products that contain lots of natural ingredients and won't make my hair dry out (or go the other way and make it look like a greaseball).

Enter LUSH.

The Scalp Treatment: Roots, from £10.75 for 225g

I'll be honest, I wasn't even looking for this, but I got chatting to the assistant at the till and upon hearing about my hair woes, she insisted I try a sample of Root she was convinced I'd love it. And I do!

Roots is a treatment which you apply to your scalp and the roots of your hair and leave for twenty minutes. It contains three different types of mint (peppermint, spearmint, and a mint infusion), extra virgin olive oil, honey, and nettle. I find it very soothing on the scalp and although its formula is quite thick, it doesn't weigh my hair down or leave greasy patches. If anything, I've had fewer problems with greasy hair since I started using this.

The key to washing Roots out, I've found, is to apply shampoo and then wet the hair, so that the treatment has already been loosened up a bit when you start to rinse it out.

The scent is a blend of neroli, grapefruit, and sweet orange oil but the mint really comes through, too, which is refreshing. Definitely buying the full-size version!

The Shampoo: Big (v), from £6.75 for 100g

The ultimate detox shampoo. Big is a bit too drying for everyday use, but used once or twice a week (depending on how often you wash your hair) it works a treat at getting all the gunk out of your hair  especially useful if you're working in a big, polluted city.

Key ingredients include sea salt and sea water for volume, coconut oil and seaweed for softness, and lemon and lime for shine. Sounds too good to be true, but I've found that Big really does bring out all those qualities in my hair.

This is also the only shampoo containing SLS that has never caused any irritation for me.

You only need a tiny bit and the pot is huge, so I expect I'll be using Big (and loving it) for a long, long time.

The Moisturiser: R&B (v), from £11.95 for 100g

I tried a small sample of this ages ago and I finally, finally got myself a full-size pot!

R&B is just the most joyful hair product I've ever tried in my life  it smells of Christmas (yep, I said the C word). If you have thick, dry, coarse hair you can use it as a treatment, and if you have fine, dry hair like me you can apply a little bit to the ends for a moisture hit and some subtle definition.

A word of warning: You only need a tiny bit, otherwise your ends will go from looking defined to stringy. But don't let this put you off trying it! The oat milk, avocado, coconut oil, and jojoba oil all go a long way to helping your hair feel a little more alive.

What do you use when your hair needs a detox? Have you tried any of these before? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

I Swapped My Flannel for a Konjac Sponge

Monday, 10 October 2016

I've tried tonnes of different skincare products over the years but I've rarely switched up the method I use to wash off my cleanser.

Until now, that is.

For a while I was a slave to the muslin cloth, then I switched to a regular flannel and never looked back (I love the exfoliation).

But even so, I couldn't resist trying out this Bamboo Charcoal Face Sponge* from the Konjac Sponge Company.

Bamboo Charcoal Face Sponge

I have spot-prone combination skin with plenty of oiliness on the T-zone, so the bamboo version was ideal. According to the Konjac Sponge Company, bamboo charcoal contains minerals that 'enhance absorptive ability', a rather eloquent way of saying that they help to mop up excess oil.

Bamboo charcoal helps to fight bacteria (which can cause acne) but it shouldn't upset sensitive skin  thankfully I didn't notice any irritation while I was using the sponge. 

The sponge itself is 100% natural, made from konjac, and free from colours and additives. It's biodegradable, so you don't have to worry about its effect on the environment once you're done.

This is probably my favourite thing about the Konjac Sponge Company; I'm always very impressed when a company takes environmental issues into account as well as animal rights (often the two go hand-in-hand).

I did worry about the sourcing of the bamboo (gotta take care of the pandas!) but since it's grass it grows at a fast rate and the company assure their customers that it's sustainable.  

How to Use a Konjac Sponge

  • Wash the sponge thoroughly, making sure it has fully absorbed the water.
  • Gently massage the face in a circular motion (you can add a little cleanser if you want a deeper clean).


  • It's easy to use.
  • You don't always need a cleanser.
  • You don't have to remember to chuck your flannels in the wash.
  • There are different versions for different skin types.
  • It costs £8.99, so it won't break the bank.
  • It lasts for several months.


  • It doesn't mix well with my acne cream in the mornings.
  • I was never sure if my skin was completely clean, especially at night.
  • The sponge doesn't dry out fully and I'm at work during the day, so I can't turn it over to ensure both sides get an equal amount of air.
  • It doesn't work very well with balm cleansers (the balm clogs up the holes).

I love the idea of a konjac sponge in theory but in practice it just didn't suit me  Ultrabland and my acne cream have to take priority.

Have you ever tried a konjac sponge before? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

3 Ways I'm Updating My Content

Sunday, 9 October 2016

It's time to mix things up.

I bloody love beauty and I've learnt to be completely unapologetic about that love, but I'd just like there to be a little more variety on this blog now, especially since a lot has changed for me in 2016.

Basically, I want Toasty to reflect what's going on in my life a bit more, so there are three main topics I'll be blogging about from now on.

Updating My Blog Content

1. Cruelty-Free Beauty

There'll still be a tonne of cruelty-free beauty, with the usual honest opinions about products for every budget. I've been leaning more towards high end recently but I'd like to include more high street options again, although it can be quite difficult to think outside the box! I'll do my best and let you know what I find. 

2. 20-Something Life

I'm hoping to write more posts about life as a newly-graduated 20-something because, well, I'm a newly-graduated 20-something sticking my nose out into the real world for the first time, and it's scary. And yet there's so much possibility out there that sometimes I forget to be nervous (only sometimes though!) Sharing my experiences will hopefully make them less daunting  chances are someone else will be going through the same thing.

3. Food

Finally, there'll be some food posts. I recently made the decision to cut meat and dairy out of my diet and I'd like to document the process, sharing recipes and What I Ate in a Day posts with you. I'm going to be figuring out how to make meat-free, dairy-free versions of my favourites, too, so I'll let you know whether or not they're a success.

That sums it all up, I think! Is there anything you'd like to see on the blog? And what do you do when your blog needs a refresh? Let me know in the comments!

Bold Autumn Lip Colours

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

There's something about autumn that makes me want to abandon all my nude lipsticks and go straight for the darkest colours the beauty world has to offer: reds, purples, and (this year) browns.

Since trying my first dark lipstick two years I've been adamant that they can have a huge effect on your mood. Dark shades make me feel like I've got my shit together  a feeling I like to cling to at the best of times, but especially when I'm extra busy (and trust me, full-time work has been a shock to the system. If wearing a lipstick can put me in a good mood then damn it, I'm gonna wear the lipstick).

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Birkin Brown

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Birkin Brown, £23

Brown is a scary colour for a lipstick but I decided that if anyone knew what they were talking about, Charlotte would, and I braved it. I was right: Birkin Brown is a proper nineties shade that allows you to embrace the brown lips trend, but it's also warm enough to liven up the complexion, thanks to the hint of dark red. The matte formula isn't drying in the slightest and glides smoothly over the lips. If you're looking to invest in a brown shade of lipstick then I can't recommend this enough.

Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Dare

Sleek True Colour Lipstick in Dare, £4.99

This is the lipstick that once survived a full English in Spoons (pre meat-free life). A matte burgundy red, Dare is dark and warm and a teeny bit gothic, and I love it. Seriously, this stuff barely budges (maybe a teeny bit of fading in the centre of the mouth) when you're drinking or eating, although it doesn't survive a sloppy avocado sandwich quite as well. The matte formula isn't quite as slick as the Charlotte Tilbury one but it's consistent, not patchy, and it doesn't dry your lips out very much.

Sleek Gloss Me in Phoenix Rising; Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown

Sleek Gloss Me in Phoenix Rising*, £4.99

I know it's said that lip gloss is the easiest way for someone to try out an intimidating colour but if anything this is the product that takes me out of my comfort zone the most. It's a gloss. It's glittery. It's basically everything I would normally avoid. But there's something so mesmerising about all the glitter in the tube and it doesn't look particularly sparkly once it's on the lips  just nice and shiny with a subtle hint of shimmer. It's not sticky either, and it fades evenly when you're eating and drinking. Not something I would have picked up myself, but I'm glad I tried it out! 

Bold Autumn Lip Colours - Swatches
L-R: Birkin Brown; Dare; Phoenix Rising; Foxy Brown

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown, £16

The best way to keep your lip line defined and stop your lipstick from bleeding. It's slightly darker than Birkin Brown but not to the point where you're rocking that awful Light Lips/Brown Liner trend that should never have seen the light of day. Foxy Brown is firm but won't give you that horrible dragging feeling when you apply it and it lasts all day long.

What lip colours do you like to wear in autumn? Any recommendations? Let me know in the comments!

Top-to-Toe Cruelty-Free Skincare for Cold Weather

Monday, 3 October 2016

The autumn/winter season is a tricky one.

I love this time of year. My skin, however, does not. It's tempting to go mad for the heaviest moisturisers I can find but to be honest, most of them end up being far too greasy for my liking.

Thankfully I'm well on my way to building a collection of products for face and body that I can rely on  mixture of new discoveries I was very lucky to be sent (PR samples are marked with a *) and old favourites I always repurchase. Let's get stuck in.

Winter Skincare from Top to Toe

Soap & Glory Flake Away (v), £2.50 for 50ml or £8 for 300ml

The body scrub I always come back to, no matter what. Flake Away is grainy without being too harsh on the skin and it really makes a difference to dry areas like elbows and knees in particular. The fruity, musky scent is lush too.

Lotil Foot Cream*, £6.94 for 114ml

A cream for the feet which is actually more like a thick balm and smells a teeny bit like almonds. The skin on my feet is ridiculously dry but this stuff is incredible, and works a treat at softening the many (many, many...) rough patches my feet seem to have. I like to apply a tonne of the Lotil Foot Cream and then put a pair of socks over the top before I go to bed.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter (v), £10 for 300ml

There's something oh-so-satisfying about embracing a full-on Soap & Glory scent. This is actually one of the few body butters I can bear to use because it sinks in reasonably quickly, doesn't feel sticky, and keeps your body moisturised for hours and hours. The scent is the same as the Flake Away one, too, so you can layer up.

The Jojoba Company 100% Natural Australian Jojoba*, £12.99 for 30ml

This natural oil can be used on your face, on your body, on your skin, and even on your hair. I do love a multi-purpose product! Personally, my favourite use for it is all over the body after a shower, or on my cuticles as a treatment before bed. I find the consistency quite thick for an oil but it sinks in reasonably quickly and I think there's something quite luxurious about applying oil to the skin. Jojoba has plenty of benefits (it's antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory) and since it's an oil, a little bit goes a long way, especially with the pump dispenser. I'll definitely be investing in a bottle when this one runs out.

Balm Balm Tea Tree Organic Lip Balm Tube* and Fragrance Free Lip Balm Tube*, £5.50 each for 10ml

These moisturising balms are a welcome addition to my collection of lip-care products. They becoming strangely runny after a while so I don't like taking them out in my bag, but I'm happy to keep them at home for overnight use. The Tea Tree version is a particularly favourite  I just really like the scent and tea tree has antibacterial properties too.

Balm Balm Rose Geranium Organic Face Balm*, £8.95 for 30ml

I'll admit, I was a little wary at the thought of trying out a balm on my face  would it be too thick and clog my pores? Luckily it melts beautifully upon contact with the skin and hasn't upset my acne at all. This Face Balm sits really well underneath make-up and hydrates any dry patches (which unfortunately start to appear at this time of year).

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask*, £21.99 for 75ml

A soothing spot-buster that softens the skin. I adore this mask because it does pretty much everything you could wish for: it calms down spots, hydrates the skin, and gives it a lovely, healthy glow. Pricey but so worth it.

Yes To Cucumbers Daily Calming Moisturiser, £11.99 for 50ml

My morning essential. Yes To are one of my favourite high street brands for reasonably priced cruelty-free products and I was lucky to grab this while it was reduced to £7.99 (Boots have Yes To on offer quite a lot so it's worth keeping an eye out!) This moisturiser is so soothing and yet so light at the same time, and it doesn't upset my acne, even when I'm having a flare up.

Soap & Glory Hand Food (v), £2.50 for 50ml or £5.50 for 125ml

I own so many hand creams but Hand Food is by far the one I reach for most! I'm so bad at remembering to use hand cream so I try and keep it in places where I might see it and pick it up. This one lives by my bed and makes me smile every time I sniff the girly vanilla/musk scent.

What products do you like to use when it's cold? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan
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