Cruelty-Free Brand of the Month — Green People

Monday, 29 February 2016

This month's Cruelty-Free Brand is a company I've read about here and there, but never really investigated until now: Green People.

Their Ethics
Green People was created when its founder, Charlotte Vohtz, started looking for products to help calm her daughter's skin allergies. Many of the natural products she found contained mostly synthetic ingredients so she started making her own organic creams and began sharing them, leading to the launch of Green People in 1997. From the start, the brand decided never to use SLS, parabens, synthetic fragrances and colourants, or alcohol, to name but a few ingredients, and they have never tested on animals, either. (For more detail, head over to the Green People site.)

I've Tried...
The Daily Aloe Shampoo, £12 for 200ml (v) which I actually use every other wash, alternating with the Maple Holistics Winter Blend Shampoo. The Daily Aloe Shampoo is surprisingly foamy for a shampoo that's free from SLS, and it leaves hair feeling clean without stripping it of any moisture, which I really like. The foaminess means you only need a tiny bit each time as well, so it should last me for months (always good on a student budget!) I find that I can't really leave my hair any longer than two days before washing when I use it, though, but I guess that's to be expected from a frequent-use hair product? I wash my hair every other morning anyway, so it doesn't bother me, but it's something to bear in mind if you prefer not to wash your hair too often.  

A Wishlist
  • Well, where to start? My hair responds best when I alternate between shampoos so I'd love to try the Irritated Scalp Shampoo for days when my skin needs a little bit of love.
  • I'm a sucker for a face mask and the Vitamin Mask sounds lovely. It contains avocado, shea butter, and seaweed and is said to plump and soothe the skin, something I really need right now because my prescription acne cream is really drying. 
  • You can never have too many shower gels or body lotions, so the Body Care Duo would be ideal. The set contains the Moisturising Shower Gel, which is free from SLS, and the Nurture Body Lotion, which contains shea butter and evening primrose to moisturise dry skin.

Have you ever tried anything from Green People? What would you put on your wishlist? Let me know in the comments!

My First Bloggers' Event: Springtime at LUSH Cardiff

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Clockwise from top left: Glitter from Golden Egg; Fluffy Egg; Which Came First?; Sunrise Soap 
So on Monday I reached a bit of a blogging milestone and attended my first event! It was quite last minute (massive thank you to Rachel for letting me know about it) but eventually I ended up outside LUSH Cardiff to have a nose at some of their new products for Mothers Day and Easter.

The whole thing got off to an awkward start when I sloshed some of my blueberry fizz on the floor (I was nervous, 'kay?) and then left my phone in my coat pocket. Fortunately someone found it for me and we began our tour of the store. Rachel, Zoe, Olivia, and I were all in the same boat, having never been to a bloggers' event, and it turned out that Carys (our guide for the night) had never worked at one before. Well, I wouldn't have known if she hadn't said so because she was utterly lovely, answered all our questions, and made sure we got to look at everything we wanted to. Carys  you are a babe.

Clockwise from top left: Somewhere Over The Rainbow soap; Carys doing her thing with a bubble bar; inhaling the scent of the gorgeous Sunflower bubble bar

I don't think there's a corner of the store that we didn't cover, but here are some of my highlights.

We got straight into the Easter spirit with a look at the Bouncy Bunny Shower Jelly (v), which smells of Brazilian orange. It would be great for waking you up in the morning  partly because of the fresh scent, and partly because the jelly is so slippery that it takes some concentration to keep hold of it. Olivia and I had a race to see who could lather the fastest but I don't think there was a winner because my bunny's stomach split and Olivia's bunny ended up headless. RIP.

My two favourite bath products were definitely Golden Egg (v) (so much glitter!) and Fluffy Egg (v). Fluffy Egg probably has the edge because it smells of Snow Fairy, my favourite LUSH shower gel, but Golden Egg smells pretty damn good too  toffee, bergamot and orange oils create a sweet and fruity scent and there's cocoa butter in there, too, which always makes my skin extra soft. I can't wait to use it!

Which Came First? (v) is a wonderful take on the Chicken or the Egg? riddle. Most bath bombs last for one use only but you can crack open the egg to get to the chick inside and split Which Came First? into three. It also contains grapefruit and lemon, which I love. Sunrise Soap (v), from the Mothers Day range, is also gorgeously citrus-y, thanks to the mandarin, and although I don't use soap I know plenty of people who would love to have this in their bathroom.  

Face masks and scrubs! Not gonna lie, the massive pot of Rub Rub Rub reminds me of Slush Puppy

I may not use soap but that didn't stop me from squealing over Somewhere Over The Rainbow (v)  just look at those colours! We also had a lot of love for the Sunflower Bubble Bar (v), which sadly is only available in the Happy Mother's Day Pamper Hamper. I say sadly because it smelt incredible, like lemons (and there's a hint of gardenia extract in there too). 

In case you haven't realised by now, citrus scents are my favourite (anything fresh, really) so I fell head over heels for the Sun perfume (v). Cruelty-free perfumes are not something I'm familiar with, so it was lovely to find a product I can actually buy and wear (the last perfume I got was by a brand I thought was cruelty-free, and then I later found out they sold their products in China. Needless to say, this ruined it for me and I no longer buy from them). Sun contains Brazilian orange oil, mimosa and sandalwood and is the perfect summer fragrance (although tbh I'd probably wear it year-round). 

Our last stop was scrubs and face masks. I reacquainted myself with an old favourite, Catastrophe Cosmetic (v), and also sampled Mask of Magnaminty, which I keep reading glowing reviews of. Unfortunately I think it'd be too harsh for the skin on my face, especially when my acne flares up, but I can see myself using it on my body. I was very tempted by a pot of Rub Rub Rub (v) but I still have quite a lot of Sugar Scrub (v) left so I decided to wait until that runs out.

Everything I picked up from the store! Clockwise from top left: Catastrophe Cosmetic fresh face mask; a sample brick of the Brun henna; Yummy Mummy Shower Cream; Fluffy Egg; Golden Egg

Phew! Everything went by in a bit of a blur but looking back I can see just how much we got through! I picked up a pot of Catastrophe Cosmetic and a sample of the Brun Henna (v) (I fancy freshening up my colour but I don't wanna use the standard pack of dye you can buy in Boots). We were also given goodie bags with Yummy Mummy Shower Cream (v), Fluffy Egg (v) and Golden Egg (v) and I'm really excited about trying everything out myself. Bring on bathtime.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone at LUSH Cardiff, especially Carys, for being so lovely and welcoming. I had a great time and it was wonderful meeting Zoe, Olivia and Rachel (you can catch Rachel's post about the night here). I'll be posting a review of the products I picked up in a few weeks!

Have you tried any of the spring goodies from LUSH? Have any of the products here caught your eye? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

I Bought Two More Berry Lip Products...

Monday, 22 February 2016

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte; Kiko Smart Lip Pencil in 710 Rouge Noir

NARS Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte; Kiko Smart Lip Pencil in 710 Rouge Noir (swatches)
Left: Kiko Smart Lip Pencil in 710 Rouge Noir. Right: NARS Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte

Well, I say bought; the NARS lippy was a Christmas present, and a very welcome one at that. Regardless, I now have two more berry-coloured lip products in my collection and I'm loving life.

The NARS Audacious Lipstick in Charlotte is perhaps the ultimate dark lipstick. An oxblood red, it's dark enough to vamp up your look but not quite purple enough to be plummy  a more approachable take on the berry lip, if you will. Everything about it screams luxury, from the sleek black case, to the stamped bullet, to the magnetic close (that snap is so satisfying). The lipstick itself is luxurious too, applying smoothly and lasting for hours without drying out the lips. You do get that a loss of colour around the inside of the mouth when you eat but thankfully it doesn't end up smudging all over your face, and it's easy enough to top up. Basically, the Audacious lipsticks are lovely, and I should bloody hope so for the price.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to make more use of lip liners but I also don't want to spend a fortune on them, and that's where Kiko comes in. Their Smart Lip Pencils are a mere £2.50 each but do the job admirably. I have the shade 710 Rouge Noir and it's beautifully pigmented. The formula is creamy and doesn't drag, but it doesn't go too far in the other direction and smudge, either. It sits really well underneath my favourite plummy lipstick, Matt Plum by GOSH, and I'm now wondering how I lived without it. Well done, Kiko!

Are you like me, and obsessed with berry lips, or are you looking forward to the lighter colours of spring? Let me know in the comments!

Note: Although NARS was a cruelty-free brand at the time of writing, they have since decided to sell their products in China as of June 2017 and therefore are no longer cruelty-free.

5 Cruelty-Free Essentials For Stressed Out Skin

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Whenever I'm dealing with more stress than normal it always shows up on my skin in some way, be it in the form of spots, dry patches, or even the occasional rash. Fortunately I've built up a rather wonderful little arsenal of products that care for my skin and calm it down, so I thought I'd share some of them with you today.

Balance Me Lip Quench Balm*, £8 for 10ml
I've been holding out for a cruelty-free alternative to the Nuxe Reve di Miel balm for a while now, so when Beauty Expert asked me if I'd be interested in trying the new Balance Me Lip Quench Balm of course my answer was yes. The Lip Quench Balm is free from petroleum, which is wonderful because although petroleum (a common ingredient in lip care products) creates a barrier between the skin and the elements it doesn't offer any actual moisture. This balm moisturises your lips using shea butter, cocoa butter, and mango butter and I find it very hydrating without being too gloopy or thick (although you might want to give it a moment to sink in if you're applying lipstick over the top). The spearmint oil adds a lovely fresh scent too, and the tube is easy to carry around for re-application throughout the day.  

Soap & Glory Dr Spot Super Strength Breakout Clearing Gel, £8 for 15ml
I use a prescribed cream to treat my acne but when I ran out earlier this year I picked this up to tide me over and was very impressed. While it doesn't quite have the strength of my prescription cream it does contain salicylic acid and witch hazel, both excellent spot-busters, and it calms aggressive spots with continued use. Soap & Glory claim that you can apply it whenever you need to throughout the day but it does that thing that literally every single spot treatment does and goes tacky when it dries  I'd stick to using it early in the morning (if you have time) and in the evening after you've taken your make-up off.

LUSH Love and Light Hand Cream, from £7.95 for 100g (v)
I do love a good hand cream, and this one is gorgeous. Two of its major ingredients are jojoba oil and cocoa butter, so it's incredibly moisturising and leaves hand silky soft, and the neroli oil and Brazilian orange oil give it a fresh herbal scent. The tub means it's probably more practical to use at home than on the go but Love and Light is definitely one to keep around.

Superdrug Vitamin E SPF15 Moisturising Day Cream, £2.99 for 100ml (v)
A cheap and cheerful daily moisturiser that comes into its own during the winter months. Superdrug's Vitamin E Day Cream is incredibly kind to skin, and you only need a little bit at a time. It has quite a thick texture but it doesn't feel too heavy first thing in the morning (best to let it sit for a bit before you get going with make-up, though). Best of all, it provides the gentle moisturisation that dry, flaky skin needs.

LUSH Dream Cream Hand and Body Lotion, from £6.25 for 100g (v)
I haven't tried this on my hands (although I imagine it's wonderful) but my word this is a godsend if the skin on your body is easily-irritated. The scent is not for everyone  it contains lavender  but try and look past that if you can. The primary ingredient of Dream Cream is oat milk and oats contain antihistamines, which calm down the skin, and the lotion feels really cool when you apply it. Somehow, this manages to be the most hydrating lotion I've ever used and the lightest. True love.

What are your go-to products when your skin needs a little love? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

8 Moments That Make Final-Year Uni Students Panic

Monday, 15 February 2016

I'm currently in my final term of my final year at university and damn that's scary. I genuinely can't believe how quickly time seems to have passed, and suddenly I'm faced with the prospect of being thrown into the real world to live a real adult life. Fortunately, I'm not alone, and I imagine a lot of you who are in similar situations are having the same moments of panic as me. Such as...

1. When you go to your usual pub and suddenly everyone in there looks way younger than you.
I've been watching the rugby in my local (bloody love the Six Nations) and every week I've spotted people who make my baby face look look wizened and old. Similarly, when I was at home for Christmas my friends and I met up for drinks in the pub we'd been going to since we were eighteen (most of us are now 21/22) and we were the oldest people in there. We were sat in our jeans and jumpers talking about work and dissertations and how tired we are while everyone else was dressed to kill and (probably) going on their first nights out.

2. When your tutor asks what everyone's post-uni plans are.
 People will start piping up things like 'Grad scheme' and 'PGCE' and then they get to you and you're like 'Erm...' and everyone looks at you with pity in their eyes. I'm working on it, I swear.

3. When you're torn between needing to focus on all the work you have to do and wanting to make the most of being a student while you still can.
I have deadlines to meet and words to write and I would like to do my best for all of my assignments... but there's also part of me that wants to go to the union to drink cheap shots and abuse my student discount at the local shopping centre, while I still can. 

4. Likewise, when you feel like you're done with formal education, but also terrified at the prospect of having an actual adult job.
You've had enough of coursework, enough of lectures, and enough of being told that students are lazy alcoholics, but you're not sure if you're ready for the old nine-to-five life.  

5. When the realisation that there's a high chance you'll leave your uni city hits you, and you're just not ready to say goodbye.
Quite frankly I'm happy to go anywhere in the UK when I graduate, but part of my heart will always be in Cardiff. And yes, I know that's massively cheesy, but I have a lot of feelings right now. 

6. When you look round at all the people in your class and realise your days of having fun together are numbered.
I enjoy our debates about dialogue, and reading everyone's fantasty/sci-fi/detective/travel writing, and having book recommendations flung at me left, right, and centre.. Sometimes, someone will bring in some food and we'll all eat cookies as well. I need this in my life. 

7. When you start wondering who you'll stay in touch with when you're not all living five minutes away from each other.
Distance does funny things to people and I hate saying goodbye, especially when you don't know when  or even if  you'll see someone again.

8. When your tutor tells you how many weeks you have left. NO.
Let me live in blissful ignorance for a little while longer. Please?

How did you cope with your final term at university? Are you going through the same thing as me right now? Let me know in the comments!

3 Products That Didn't Make The Cut

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Hello everyone, how are you all?

I try not to have expectations one or way or another when I'm testing out new products, but it's hard  I always have high hopes. Most of the time I like everything I buy (which is good, since I'm very picky about what I spend my money on). However, sometimes I'll come across a product which I just don't get on with, for whatever reason. Here are three budget buys that just aren't for me.

I like my kohl liners to be have the best of both worlds  they need to be easy to smudge and they also need to stay put. The Ultimate Natural Soft Kohl Pencil is very soft, which I was expecting from the name,  but it's so soft that when you smudge it it just blends away into nothingness. The shade I picked, Walnut, is too light and too yellow to really do anything flattering to the eyes, least of all create the subtle definition I was hoping for. All in all, it's not a good product in my opinion (although I'd still be interested in trying other products by Beauty Without Cruelty).

This was a case of 'it's not you, it's me'. I just can't seem to get on with using a gel for my brows; I either use too much product and create a crusty mess, or not enough, which leaves my rather sparse brows looking bare. I know a lot of people love a good brow gel so I'm going to give Sleek the benefit of the doubt (they so rarely do me wrong) but when it comes to eyebrows I'll be sticking to my trusty pencil and powder combination.

In contrast, this is definitely a case of the product being a problem. The Hydro Powder is cakey, it doesn't set my make-up, and it clings to flakey skin and blemishes  basically it does everything I don't want a powder to do. Granted, I didn't exactly pick the best powder for my combination skin, but since all my dry patches are on my t-zone I thought it'd be worth a try. As it turns out, the Hydro Powder and I are not suited.

Have you tried anything disappointing recently? And have you tried any of these products before? Maybe you're shaking your head in disagreement because one of your favourites is here? Let me know in the comments! 

The Cruelty-Free Mascara That Holds a Curl

Monday, 8 February 2016

B. All Mascara from Superdrug

I'm incredibly flighty when it comes to mascaras, and I think I've repurchased one only once. I'm not sure if I know what I'm looking for, exactly  I love long lashes, but I don't want them to look natural and spindly; I need a bit of volume in there, too. And my eyes can get quite watery, so something that stays put is a must. Am I asking for too much? Maybe.

I was browsing in Superdrug recently when I noticed they had 50% off their own-brand make-up range, B. One of the mascaras, B. All (v), was described as being lengthening, defining, and volumising, as well as being waterproof, and it was also reduced from £9.99 to £4.99. Needless to say, I grabbed it (there was only one left on the shelf).

I have to say, I really like this. B. All does indeed lengthen the lashes, and it gives them that little bit of extra oomph. It's buildable, as well, which is something I think is essential when it comes to mascara. I usually apply two coats for day and then add one in the evening if needed.   

The main thing that sold it for me was when I sneezed soon after application and it didn't budge. Not a bit. What about later in the day? Well, it doesn't really last on my bottom lashes, but it also doesn't smudge so I don't mind this too much. It does, however, stay put on my top lashes, and it holds a curl to boot. There was a worrying moment when I thought the mascara was making my eyes itch, but this turned out to be a tear in one of my contact lenses  just as painful as it sounds but luckily I had a spare! I'd say B. All is pretty damn good, and it's made me excited to try more products from the range (which is Leaping Bunny approved and vegan).

Have you tried anything from B. before? What do you look for in a mascara? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Glowy Skin and Red Lips with theBalm

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The festive period may be firmly behind us but does that mean I'm going to stop wearing bright red lippy? Does it heck. I've spent most of this winter wearing a full face of make-up and I don't see why I should change that any time soon. If anything, I think February on its own is a good enough excuse to keep experimenting, because like its predecessor, February can get dull. Here in Wales I'm pretty sure the heavens have opened permanently, and it makes it so much more difficult to leave the house. And yes, I know I chose to move here, but to be perfectly honest with you I haven't really noticed a difference in the weather here and the weather back home. So there.

Anyway. What I was trying to say before I got distracted by the weather (how very English of me) was that having fun with my make-up always cheers me up, and there's no brand more fun than theBalm. I bought the Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Loyal back in December  the perfect postbox red  and I was over the moon when I found the much-raved about Mary Lou Manizer Lumanizer in my stocking on Christmas morning. 

theBalm Mary Lou and Meet Matt(e) Hughes in Loyal (swatched)

And oh my goodness, Mary Lou is everything I hoped she'd be. A sweep of this powder along the cheekbones adds a subtle highlight that makes skin look 10x healthier. There's none of that horrible fibre-optic glitter particle kind of look here, just a pretty glow. £17.50 is a lot of money for a highlighter but there's a reason everyone raves: it's worth it. If you're going to splash out on only one product, make it Mary Lou

Meet Matt(e) Hughes needs a bit of a top-up after eating but it survives drinking very well, and it doesn't budge; it even stayed put when I spilt prosecco down my chin (don't ask). Once it dries it has a matte finish, as promised, but it doesn't feel like your lips have been encrusted  or dried out  it's perfectly comfortable. There's also no feathering, even though I tend to skip liner with this one. Meet Matt(e) Hughes has a peppermint scent, which I know some people love and some people can't stand, but fortunately I fall into the former category. It's something to consider though, if you're thinking of giving this liquid lipstick a go.

I'm very impressed with both of these offerings by theBalm, and I'd love to try more from the range. What on earth do I pick next? 

Have you tried anything from theBalm? Are there any products you'd recommend? Let me know in the comments!

There's a Kiko Store in Cardiff and I'm a Little Bit Excited

Monday, 1 February 2016

Giulia and I were wandering round St David's towards the end of last year, as you do, when we spotted something wonderful: a Kiko store. Giulia is Italian and very familiar with the brand, whereas I'd never tried any of their products but had read good reviews on blogs etc. We looked at each other and, without saying a word, marched straight over to the store and started browsing (she bought the cherry Kiss Balm, which is now her favourite thing ever). I bought a lip liner that day, which I'm going to be talking about in next Monday's post, and then last month when I went back I grabbed a few more things to try (well, they did have 50% off).

Eyes Rescue Total Perfection Eye Contour Serum, £11.50 for 15ml
No lie, my eyes have been looking rough lately. I haven't actually tried this yet (I'm using up the last few dregs of my cream from Dirty Works) but apparently this serum is designed to fight dark circles and and puffiness immediately, quite the promise. More believable is the claim that it keeps the skin around the eyes moisturised, something my eyes most definitely need at the moment. Does anyone else get dry patches round their eyes at this time of year, or is it just me? Anyway, I can't wait to try this out, and I'll let you know if it makes a difference!  

City Filter Sunscreen Primer (SPF50) £12.90 for 30ml
While we don't have to worry about the sun any time soon here in Wales, I am aware that UV rays can have an effect on skin all year round, particularly if you use products with AHAs in. I do, so I wanted something that would offer some protection without me having to buy a full-on sun cream. I'm glad I bought this because it's not as heavy as the facial sun creams I've tried in the past, and although it has a slightly thicker texture than your average primer it still creates a smooth base for my foundation. There's no pilling (when the product peels off in little balls) which I find is a huge problem with sun cream in general, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Blotting Papers, £6.90 for 100 sheets
Those of you who read my adult acne rant from a couple of weeks ago will be aware that the doctor suggested I go home in the middle of the day to wash my face. Obviously this isn't practical in the slightest, but I did go out and buy some blotting papers (I find that layering on more powder from my compact just makes my skin look cakey). These are incredibly easy to use, you just press the paper against your skin and wince at the amount of oil that it absorbs  my skin never used to be like this! The packaging is slim enough to fit in a bag without taking up too much room, and I think the little envelope looks really cute. A definite repurchase.

Have you tried anything from Kiko before? What would you recommend? Let me know in the comments!
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