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Dry shampoo and I do not have a good relationship.

Despite my best efforts, it's a product I've never been able to make work for me. The sprays I've tried have smelt floury, left a white cast on my dark roots, and haven't improved the overall appearance of my hair. Washing it has always been the easy option.

But then KiteNest got in touch. KiteNest are a British brand, they make 100% natural, handcrafted beauty products, and they never test on animals  exactly the kind of company I like to support. 

They have two dry shampoos on offer: one for light hair; one for dark hair. And I began to hope that there might be a cruelty-free bad hair day solution for brunettes after all.

KiteNest Dry Shampoo

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo* (v), £10 for 150g

The packaging caught my attention as soon as I opened the parcel  how cute are all the different colours and patterns? The tube is fully recyclable, too, so there's no need to worry about waste.

As for the product itself, this dry shampoo comes in the form of a powder that you sprinkle on your roots, rather than a spray.

Unfortunately it took me ages to open the hole at the top  you have to stab it so you can get to the little holes that create the sprinkle effect and stop the product from pouring out. I got there in the end with one of those skewers that you use to check whether a cake has baked, but it was bloody hard work. The sprinkler doesn't fully close, either, so you can't take the dry shampoo with you unless you decant it into a smaller, more secure tub.

(Once it's open, don't do what I did and treat the tube like a flour shaker, or you'll end up with powder all over your clothes. It came out of my jeans with a cloth and some lukewarm water.)

What about the ingredients? The dry shampoo is made from clays, plant powders, and essential oils, with no artificial additives in sight. The only difference between the light hair and the dark hair version is the type of clay used; the light hair version contains kaolinite clay, while this version contains Moroccan lava clay instead.

The essential oils are a gorgeous, citrus-y combination of grapefruit peel and lime, making this one of the best-smelling products I've ever tried.

But does it work?

KiteNest Cruelty-Free Dry Shampoo for Brunettes

To use the dry shampoo, you sprinkle some onto your roots, massage the product in, then wait for 30 seconds to a minute before you brush your hair through and style it.

It doesn't leave any white residue once you've massaged it in, unless you go to town and end up with a bit more than you bargained for. Less is more with this one.

Once massaged in, it gives my fine hair a good volume boost and absorbs any extra oil. It also makes up-dos easier to style, particularly the high ponytail, and gives hair that textured, undone look. I have a sensitive scalp but I haven't experienced any irritation, which is a bonus!

So, would I recommend it? At £10 per tube it costs a lot more than your standard high street dry shampoo, but then this isn't your standard high street dry shampoo to begin with: it's natural, cruelty-free, vegan, and  wonky sprinkler aside  it works. It's best used sparingly, so you'll get your money's worth, and you'll be supporting an independent cruelty-free company. I'll be buying another tube for future bad hair days.  

What are your thoughts about dry shampoo? Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Product sent to me by KiteNest for consideraton of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

Review: KiteNest Cruelty-Free Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo and I do not have a good relationship.

Despite my best efforts, it's a product I've never been able to make work for me. The sprays I've tried have smelt floury, left a white cast on my dark roots, and haven't improved the overall appearance of my hair. Washing it has always been the easy option.

But then KiteNest got in touch. KiteNest are a British brand, they make 100% natural, handcrafted beauty products, and they never test on animals  exactly the kind of company I like to support. 

They have two dry shampoos on offer: one for light hair; one for dark hair. And I began to hope that there might be a cruelty-free bad hair day solution for brunettes after all.

KiteNest Dry Shampoo

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo* (v), £10 for 150g

The packaging caught my attention as soon as I opened the parcel  how cute are all the different colours and patterns? The tube is fully recyclable, too, so there's no need to worry about waste.

As for the product itself, this dry shampoo comes in the form of a powder that you sprinkle on your roots, rather than a spray.

Unfortunately it took me ages to open the hole at the top  you have to stab it so you can get to the little holes that create the sprinkle effect and stop the product from pouring out. I got there in the end with one of those skewers that you use to check whether a cake has baked, but it was bloody hard work. The sprinkler doesn't fully close, either, so you can't take the dry shampoo with you unless you decant it into a smaller, more secure tub.

(Once it's open, don't do what I did and treat the tube like a flour shaker, or you'll end up with powder all over your clothes. It came out of my jeans with a cloth and some lukewarm water.)

What about the ingredients? The dry shampoo is made from clays, plant powders, and essential oils, with no artificial additives in sight. The only difference between the light hair and the dark hair version is the type of clay used; the light hair version contains kaolinite clay, while this version contains Moroccan lava clay instead.

The essential oils are a gorgeous, citrus-y combination of grapefruit peel and lime, making this one of the best-smelling products I've ever tried.

But does it work?

KiteNest Cruelty-Free Dry Shampoo for Brunettes

To use the dry shampoo, you sprinkle some onto your roots, massage the product in, then wait for 30 seconds to a minute before you brush your hair through and style it.

It doesn't leave any white residue once you've massaged it in, unless you go to town and end up with a bit more than you bargained for. Less is more with this one.

Once massaged in, it gives my fine hair a good volume boost and absorbs any extra oil. It also makes up-dos easier to style, particularly the high ponytail, and gives hair that textured, undone look. I have a sensitive scalp but I haven't experienced any irritation, which is a bonus!

So, would I recommend it? At £10 per tube it costs a lot more than your standard high street dry shampoo, but then this isn't your standard high street dry shampoo to begin with: it's natural, cruelty-free, vegan, and  wonky sprinkler aside  it works. It's best used sparingly, so you'll get your money's worth, and you'll be supporting an independent cruelty-free company. I'll be buying another tube for future bad hair days.  

What are your thoughts about dry shampoo? Do you have a favourite? Let me know in the comments!

Product sent to me by KiteNest for consideraton of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
GOSH hold a special a place in my heart.

They were one of the first brands I turned to when I went cruelty free and didn't know what to buy anymore. They were the first high street brand I found that sold foundation in a proper pale shade. The quality of their make-up is high  the Velvet Touch lipsticks are a noticeable stand-out  but without the high-end prices.

So when they offered to send me some of their new products for AW17, I couldn't say yes fast enough. (I may have squealed a little bit.) Let's see what the new season brings.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

Primer Plus Skin Adaptor Anti-Pollution in Chameleon* (v), £14.99
I haven't been able to test this the way I'd like to because it has a tint which is too dark for me, so I'd suggest swatching it in your local Superdrug first. (It does even out the skintone, but I've only been able to wear it round the house.) Primer Plus contains anti-pollution ingredients and I can only wish there'd been something like it available when I was working in London! If you live and/or work in a big city, aren't ghostly pale, and need protection from everyday pollution, this might be worth a try.

Colour Corrector Kit in Mix 001*, £11.99
Colour correcting seems to be having a moment and I'm all for it - it can work wonders if you have any skin discolouration or uneven patches. The colours in this kit have a cream-to-powder formula that you pat onto bare or primed skin before applying your foundation and concealer.

There are five to choose from: a fairly light shade of concealer; yellow to neutralise dark circles; green to neutralise redness; purple to eliminate yellow undertones; salmon to brighten the eye area and give olive skin radiance.

I've been using the yellow shade every time I wear make-up. I draw the pigment on in an upside-down triangle shape under my eye, the same way I would concealer, and then pat it in until the colour disappears and the blue tones are less obvious. I also really enjoy using the green shade, which calms down the appearance of flushed, red skin. I get a fair bit of redness around my nose and this evens it out before I dab concealer over the top.

All the shades tend to blend in without leaving any tell-tale colour behind. They do, however, have a tendency to sit in lines if you don't use a primer or set your handiwork with powder, so I've found it's best to use them when you're not in a rush. I find color correctors really useful but I also tend to reach for the same shades all the time and I'd love to see some individual colours available. I'd also like to see kits with darker shades of concealer available  not everyone fits in the Light/Medium bracket.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

Mix & Fix Blender Brush* (v), £9.99
Mix & Fix is flat-topped and has a little well built into the bristles, which makes it ideal if you need to blend two foundations together to create the perfect shade, or if you like adding skincare products to your base. I've been putting a few drops of liquid foundation and rosehip oil in the well and then using the brush to buff it into the skin. This gives a beautiful, healthy finish  polished, but natural  and the hairs are synthetic, so it's suitable for vegans.

Lift & Highlight in Nude 001*, £9.99
This double-ended pencil is designed to make your eyes look as wide-awake as possible, something I'll no doubt be grateful for once the mornings get darker and I get sleepier (there's definitely a correlation). There's a matte end, which is a pale nude shade, and a shimmery end, which is lighter and golden. Both can be used on the inner corners of the eye, the cupid's bow, and under the brow bone to lift and brighten.

I like to use the shimmery shade in the corner of my eye  the gold really accentuates blue eyes  and the matte shade underneath for a bit of definition. The matte shade is creamier and easier to blend, but both stay put throughout the day. The pencil adds an extra something, whether you've gone all-out or kept your face quite natural.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

My Favourite Mascara in Black*, £9.99
The best thing about My Favourite Mascara is the brush, which separates lashes with ease and creates a natural, everyday look. It can hold a curl, but with continued wear I've found that the pigment can drop when it's humid, leaving you with panda eyes. While I doubt this will be a problem as we go into autumn, it means I tend to wear it on my top lashes only.

Lumi Drops in Rosegold* (v), £7.99
I like using the Lumi Drops as a highlighter. Normally I squeeze a little bit of product on the back of my hand, then use my fingers to dab it along my cheekbones and on my cupid's bow. You can also mix the drops with foundation or body lotion, something I might try next time I need to dress up a bit.

How gorgeous is this shade? There's a reason so many of us love rose gold. This particularly interpretation of the colour isn't too pink, too yellow, or too shimmery (unless you choose to pile it on) and it creates a healthy glow that reminds me of summer evenings and sunsets. It'll also look beautiful in candlelight when you're all snuggled up and, dare I say it, it'll be a lovely addition to your festive make-up looks come Christmastime.

So what would I recommend? The Colour Corrector Kit if it suits your skintone and you want to create an even base. The Lumi Drops for sure (that glow!) And the Mix & Fix brush  you may end up creating a whole new foundation/skincare hybrid for yourself.

Will you be trying anything from GOSH this autumn? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan. For a full list of GOSH's vegan products, click here.

Products were sent to me by GOSH for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you go through to the retailer and purchase an item, I'll receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you.

GOSH Make-Up for Autumn/Winter 2017

GOSH hold a special a place in my heart.

They were one of the first brands I turned to when I went cruelty free and didn't know what to buy anymore. They were the first high street brand I found that sold foundation in a proper pale shade. The quality of their make-up is high  the Velvet Touch lipsticks are a noticeable stand-out  but without the high-end prices.

So when they offered to send me some of their new products for AW17, I couldn't say yes fast enough. (I may have squealed a little bit.) Let's see what the new season brings.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

Primer Plus Skin Adaptor Anti-Pollution in Chameleon* (v), £14.99
I haven't been able to test this the way I'd like to because it has a tint which is too dark for me, so I'd suggest swatching it in your local Superdrug first. (It does even out the skintone, but I've only been able to wear it round the house.) Primer Plus contains anti-pollution ingredients and I can only wish there'd been something like it available when I was working in London! If you live and/or work in a big city, aren't ghostly pale, and need protection from everyday pollution, this might be worth a try.

Colour Corrector Kit in Mix 001*, £11.99
Colour correcting seems to be having a moment and I'm all for it - it can work wonders if you have any skin discolouration or uneven patches. The colours in this kit have a cream-to-powder formula that you pat onto bare or primed skin before applying your foundation and concealer.

There are five to choose from: a fairly light shade of concealer; yellow to neutralise dark circles; green to neutralise redness; purple to eliminate yellow undertones; salmon to brighten the eye area and give olive skin radiance.

I've been using the yellow shade every time I wear make-up. I draw the pigment on in an upside-down triangle shape under my eye, the same way I would concealer, and then pat it in until the colour disappears and the blue tones are less obvious. I also really enjoy using the green shade, which calms down the appearance of flushed, red skin. I get a fair bit of redness around my nose and this evens it out before I dab concealer over the top.

All the shades tend to blend in without leaving any tell-tale colour behind. They do, however, have a tendency to sit in lines if you don't use a primer or set your handiwork with powder, so I've found it's best to use them when you're not in a rush. I find color correctors really useful but I also tend to reach for the same shades all the time and I'd love to see some individual colours available. I'd also like to see kits with darker shades of concealer available  not everyone fits in the Light/Medium bracket.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

Mix & Fix Blender Brush* (v), £9.99
Mix & Fix is flat-topped and has a little well built into the bristles, which makes it ideal if you need to blend two foundations together to create the perfect shade, or if you like adding skincare products to your base. I've been putting a few drops of liquid foundation and rosehip oil in the well and then using the brush to buff it into the skin. This gives a beautiful, healthy finish  polished, but natural  and the hairs are synthetic, so it's suitable for vegans.

Lift & Highlight in Nude 001*, £9.99
This double-ended pencil is designed to make your eyes look as wide-awake as possible, something I'll no doubt be grateful for once the mornings get darker and I get sleepier (there's definitely a correlation). There's a matte end, which is a pale nude shade, and a shimmery end, which is lighter and golden. Both can be used on the inner corners of the eye, the cupid's bow, and under the brow bone to lift and brighten.

I like to use the shimmery shade in the corner of my eye  the gold really accentuates blue eyes  and the matte shade underneath for a bit of definition. The matte shade is creamier and easier to blend, but both stay put throughout the day. The pencil adds an extra something, whether you've gone all-out or kept your face quite natural.

GOSH Make-Up A/W '17

My Favourite Mascara in Black*, £9.99
The best thing about My Favourite Mascara is the brush, which separates lashes with ease and creates a natural, everyday look. It can hold a curl, but with continued wear I've found that the pigment can drop when it's humid, leaving you with panda eyes. While I doubt this will be a problem as we go into autumn, it means I tend to wear it on my top lashes only.

Lumi Drops in Rosegold* (v), £7.99
I like using the Lumi Drops as a highlighter. Normally I squeeze a little bit of product on the back of my hand, then use my fingers to dab it along my cheekbones and on my cupid's bow. You can also mix the drops with foundation or body lotion, something I might try next time I need to dress up a bit.

How gorgeous is this shade? There's a reason so many of us love rose gold. This particularly interpretation of the colour isn't too pink, too yellow, or too shimmery (unless you choose to pile it on) and it creates a healthy glow that reminds me of summer evenings and sunsets. It'll also look beautiful in candlelight when you're all snuggled up and, dare I say it, it'll be a lovely addition to your festive make-up looks come Christmastime.

So what would I recommend? The Colour Corrector Kit if it suits your skintone and you want to create an even base. The Lumi Drops for sure (that glow!) And the Mix & Fix brush  you may end up creating a whole new foundation/skincare hybrid for yourself.

Will you be trying anything from GOSH this autumn? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan. For a full list of GOSH's vegan products, click here.

Products were sent to me by GOSH for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you go through to the retailer and purchase an item, I'll receive a small percentage at no extra cost to you.
Welcome to the latest installment of Eco-Friendly Beauty! I've been trying my best to cut down on the amount of waste in my everyday life, so I've started with beauty products.

In today's post I'm going to talk about solid soaps and scrubs. Until recently they were products I'd never really considered using, soap because I have vivid memories of getting a rash from a bar of Dove when I was little, scrubs because I thought they'd be a bit of a faff.

But things change. I'm keen to cut down on the amount of pointless packaging and plastic I use  switching to solid shower products is a simple step to take.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be an expensive one. PHB Ethical Beauty make a range of soaps and scrubs, with all of them leaving you with change from a fiver. They come in boxes made of card, so while they're not completely free of packaging, there's also no plastic (and the card can be recycled).

PHB Ethical Beauty Aloe Vera Natural Soap

PHB Ethical Beauty Aloe Vera Natural Soap* (v), £3.95
I was never a fan of soap until I tried PHB's offerings. There's a difference between what they have to offer and your standard supermarket soap  there's no animal fat, no palm oil, and this one is scent-free. (If you want something with a fragrance then I highly recommend the grapefruit one.) The base of all the soaps is a mix of shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, so it's quite moisturising, although I still like to use some kind of lotion afterwards.

I use the Aloe Vera soap in place of shower gel, massaging the bar into my skin to create a lather. It won't foam up quite as much as your standard shower gel but it's effective all the same, gently cleaning the skin with drying it out. A little goes a long way and my bar has barely shrunk since I started using it in July. I can't see myself going back to bottles of shower gel once I've used my existing collection up.

I've hunted high and low on the LoveLula website for some kind of budget soap tin and I can't find one, so I'd suggest either storing the soap in its original packaging, keeping it away from the bathroom and any wet surfaces, or buying a non-plastic container elsewhere.


PHB Ethical Beauty Avocado & Olive Handmade Sugar Scrub

PHB Ethical Beauty Avocado & Olive Handmade Sugar Scrub* (v), £4.95
This is surprisingly robust for something made of delicate sugar. It's on the scrubbier side, so make sure your skin is soaking before you use it  the bar can feel scratchy if you go in with too much enthusiasm. I massage into the skin in circular motions and there's something very satisfying about sloughing off dead skin, particularly on elbows and knees. You can't smell the avocado or olive, but this is a moisturising product so their presence is noticeable.

Unlike the soap, the Sugar Scrub wears down quite quickly. It's not an everyday product, so mine has lasted a good few weeks and will probably last one or two more, but it's something to bear in mind.

PHB Ethical Beauty Foot Scrub Bar with Dead Sea Salt & Orange

PHB Ethical Beauty Foot Scrub Bar with Dead Sea Salt & Orange* (v), £4.75
The skin on my heels is rough. While my feet are in a slightly sweeter state now I no longer dance en pointe on a regular basis, they're still not pretty. (Are anyone's though?) So finding an exfoliator that actually, well, exfoliates them properly isn't always easy.

The Foot Scrub Bar works, though. The dead sea salt helps to soften tougher areas like the heels and because the skin there is less delicate, you can be a little rougher. It's not a miracle cure  my feet aren't baby-soft just yet  but I can see an improvement. And the salt cuts through the orange to create a delightfully earthy scent.

So what if you want to start using solid shower products too? I'd recommend trying a soap bar first. They're reasonably priced, last for ages, and can be used to wash your hands if you decide it's not your thing.

Have you tried solid shower products before? Would you ever use them on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products were sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

Eco-Friendly Beauty: Solid Shower Products

Welcome to the latest installment of Eco-Friendly Beauty! I've been trying my best to cut down on the amount of waste in my everyday life, so I've started with beauty products.

In today's post I'm going to talk about solid soaps and scrubs. Until recently they were products I'd never really considered using, soap because I have vivid memories of getting a rash from a bar of Dove when I was little, scrubs because I thought they'd be a bit of a faff.

But things change. I'm keen to cut down on the amount of pointless packaging and plastic I use  switching to solid shower products is a simple step to take.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be an expensive one. PHB Ethical Beauty make a range of soaps and scrubs, with all of them leaving you with change from a fiver. They come in boxes made of card, so while they're not completely free of packaging, there's also no plastic (and the card can be recycled).

PHB Ethical Beauty Aloe Vera Natural Soap

PHB Ethical Beauty Aloe Vera Natural Soap* (v), £3.95
I was never a fan of soap until I tried PHB's offerings. There's a difference between what they have to offer and your standard supermarket soap  there's no animal fat, no palm oil, and this one is scent-free. (If you want something with a fragrance then I highly recommend the grapefruit one.) The base of all the soaps is a mix of shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil, so it's quite moisturising, although I still like to use some kind of lotion afterwards.

I use the Aloe Vera soap in place of shower gel, massaging the bar into my skin to create a lather. It won't foam up quite as much as your standard shower gel but it's effective all the same, gently cleaning the skin with drying it out. A little goes a long way and my bar has barely shrunk since I started using it in July. I can't see myself going back to bottles of shower gel once I've used my existing collection up.

I've hunted high and low on the LoveLula website for some kind of budget soap tin and I can't find one, so I'd suggest either storing the soap in its original packaging, keeping it away from the bathroom and any wet surfaces, or buying a non-plastic container elsewhere.


PHB Ethical Beauty Avocado & Olive Handmade Sugar Scrub

PHB Ethical Beauty Avocado & Olive Handmade Sugar Scrub* (v), £4.95
This is surprisingly robust for something made of delicate sugar. It's on the scrubbier side, so make sure your skin is soaking before you use it  the bar can feel scratchy if you go in with too much enthusiasm. I massage into the skin in circular motions and there's something very satisfying about sloughing off dead skin, particularly on elbows and knees. You can't smell the avocado or olive, but this is a moisturising product so their presence is noticeable.

Unlike the soap, the Sugar Scrub wears down quite quickly. It's not an everyday product, so mine has lasted a good few weeks and will probably last one or two more, but it's something to bear in mind.

PHB Ethical Beauty Foot Scrub Bar with Dead Sea Salt & Orange

PHB Ethical Beauty Foot Scrub Bar with Dead Sea Salt & Orange* (v), £4.75
The skin on my heels is rough. While my feet are in a slightly sweeter state now I no longer dance en pointe on a regular basis, they're still not pretty. (Are anyone's though?) So finding an exfoliator that actually, well, exfoliates them properly isn't always easy.

The Foot Scrub Bar works, though. The dead sea salt helps to soften tougher areas like the heels and because the skin there is less delicate, you can be a little rougher. It's not a miracle cure  my feet aren't baby-soft just yet  but I can see an improvement. And the salt cuts through the orange to create a delightfully earthy scent.

So what if you want to start using solid shower products too? I'd recommend trying a soap bar first. They're reasonably priced, last for ages, and can be used to wash your hands if you decide it's not your thing.

Have you tried solid shower products before? Would you ever use them on a regular basis? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products were sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
It's nearly September, which means it's nearly autumn, which means I'm very excited because autumn is my favourite season and always has been.

(As I'm writing this the sky is grey and there's a chill in the air, so it may as well be autumn already.)

September always feels like a fresh start  appropriate, since I'm trying to make one myself. I'm currently job hunting, car hunting, and finding my feet now I'm back in the UK for good. I'm looking forward to having a routine again; nothing makes me happier than getting organised and taking control of what's going on in my life.

It's not all admin though. I had a mini-break to north Wales at the beginning of August and it was exactly what I needed. Good friends, fresh air, beautiful views, gin... what more could you want? We even went on a cross between a rollercoaster and a toboggan through the woods in Betws-y-Coed, something I highly recommend if you're ever in Snowdonia.

Here's hoping September brings more laughs, some stability, and those crunchy autumn leaves.

Snowdonia National Park

Cruelty-Free Updates

Fairypants' Pressed Glitter Palettes Are On Sale Now

After weeks and weeks of teasing, Fairypants finally released their pressed glitter palettes and they look gorgeous. I've got my eye on Demeter, which is made up of bronze and gold shades. There's also Hecate  blacks and greys  and Amphitrite  shades of blue. The palettes cost £15.99 each, are made from cosmetic-standard glitter, and you'll be supporting one of the loveliest cruelty-free and vegan brands there is. (Not sponsored, I just love them.)

LoveLula Launch Glossworks

If you want your nail polish to be cruelty free and vegan then LoveLula's new range, Glossworks, is a contender. A capsule collection of reds, nudes, and pinks, Glossworks polishes are 9-free with a gel-like texture and finish. I received Name of the Rose in my August beauty box and I can't wait to paint my toenails once my current polish chips away.

The UK Government Bans Microbeads

Over a year and a half after Greenpeace started their campaign, the UK government has banned microbeads, which pollute the oceans and cause all kinds of trouble for marine life. All personal care products and cosmetics that contain microbeads have to be off the shelves by 30th June next year, and this could potentially include non-cosmetic products in future. (This article explains in more detail and also discusses the damage caused by single-use plastic.)

Blog Posts I Loved

Katie made a helpful list of foods you might not realise aren't suitable for vegetarians.

Steph sums up why fitness shouldn't just be about aesthetics.

Rosie introduced me to the concept of Earth Overshoot Day  the point we use more natural resources than this planet can renew before the end of the year.

Laura's post about plant-based burgers and nice cream got my mouth watering.

Elle & Company's guide to planning your work day made me feel motivated in a way I haven't for a while.

Finally, Dannielle's love letter to Britain made me happy I decided to stay put.

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

Life, Cruelty Free Updates & Blog Posts I Loved | August

It's nearly September, which means it's nearly autumn, which means I'm very excited because autumn is my favourite season and always has been.

(As I'm writing this the sky is grey and there's a chill in the air, so it may as well be autumn already.)

September always feels like a fresh start  appropriate, since I'm trying to make one myself. I'm currently job hunting, car hunting, and finding my feet now I'm back in the UK for good. I'm looking forward to having a routine again; nothing makes me happier than getting organised and taking control of what's going on in my life.

It's not all admin though. I had a mini-break to north Wales at the beginning of August and it was exactly what I needed. Good friends, fresh air, beautiful views, gin... what more could you want? We even went on a cross between a rollercoaster and a toboggan through the woods in Betws-y-Coed, something I highly recommend if you're ever in Snowdonia.

Here's hoping September brings more laughs, some stability, and those crunchy autumn leaves.

Snowdonia National Park

Cruelty-Free Updates

Fairypants' Pressed Glitter Palettes Are On Sale Now

After weeks and weeks of teasing, Fairypants finally released their pressed glitter palettes and they look gorgeous. I've got my eye on Demeter, which is made up of bronze and gold shades. There's also Hecate  blacks and greys  and Amphitrite  shades of blue. The palettes cost £15.99 each, are made from cosmetic-standard glitter, and you'll be supporting one of the loveliest cruelty-free and vegan brands there is. (Not sponsored, I just love them.)

LoveLula Launch Glossworks

If you want your nail polish to be cruelty free and vegan then LoveLula's new range, Glossworks, is a contender. A capsule collection of reds, nudes, and pinks, Glossworks polishes are 9-free with a gel-like texture and finish. I received Name of the Rose in my August beauty box and I can't wait to paint my toenails once my current polish chips away.

The UK Government Bans Microbeads

Over a year and a half after Greenpeace started their campaign, the UK government has banned microbeads, which pollute the oceans and cause all kinds of trouble for marine life. All personal care products and cosmetics that contain microbeads have to be off the shelves by 30th June next year, and this could potentially include non-cosmetic products in future. (This article explains in more detail and also discusses the damage caused by single-use plastic.)

Blog Posts I Loved

Katie made a helpful list of foods you might not realise aren't suitable for vegetarians.

Steph sums up why fitness shouldn't just be about aesthetics.

Rosie introduced me to the concept of Earth Overshoot Day  the point we use more natural resources than this planet can renew before the end of the year.

Laura's post about plant-based burgers and nice cream got my mouth watering.

Elle & Company's guide to planning your work day made me feel motivated in a way I haven't for a while.

Finally, Dannielle's love letter to Britain made me happy I decided to stay put.

How was August for you? Let me know in the comments!
One vegetarian hurdle I hadn't jumped over until recently was the humble BBQ.

Well, that's not strictly true  I went to a South African braai when I was in Dubai (and was very well catered for, thank you, Tiff!) But the Let's eat outside and pray it doesn't rain event that happens every summer in Britain? Nope.

I've always enjoyed a good British BBQ, despite the often-questionable weather, but what do you do when your go-to was once beef burgers and a couple of chipolatas from the butcher? Although I enjoy eating the odd meat replacement, I wanted to cook up something a little more creative.

So when Vita Coco offered to send me some recipes (and some coconut oil for cooking), I jumped at the chance to try something new. I was addicted to their coconut water when I was a student and I often use the oil (it works particularly well in curries and banana oat pancakes).


Vita Coco

Now, hands up who remembers Selasi from Bake Off?

I definitely do  he was an absolute sweetheart  and it turns out he's the brains behind some of the recipes I tried. (I hope he's still going on roadtrips to see Val #iconic.) I had most of the seasonings in my cupboard already, so I invited a couple of friends over and picked up the remaining ingredients I needed.

By some miracle, I managed to arrange the BBQ on one of the hottest days we've had this summer. It was a chilled out, let's catch up and eat tonnes of food and drink gin kind of thing, and everything we ate was completely veggie. (In fact, most things were vegan except a couple of the condiments.)


Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Chilli, Coconut & Garlic Marinade (v)

Ingredients (serves 4)

* 4 large, flat portobello mushrooms
* 2-3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
* 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (I forgot about this and just chopped mine, oops)
* Half tsp garlic powder
* Half tsp chilli flakes
* 1 tsp brown sugar
* Half tsp sea salt
* Half tsp ground black pepper
* 1 lime (juice and zest)

Method

Place the mushrooms in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix thoroughly and leave to marinade overnight.

Cook the mushrooms on the BBQ for about fifteen minutes, until they're nicely charred (but not burnt!)

I served each mushroom in a bun with roasted red peppers, salad leaves and sweet chilli sauce, then left other condiments out on the table so people could add what they wanted.

I think I got a bit carried away with the lime, so it's lucky everyone liked it! I know many vegans and vegetarians are sick to death of seeing mushrooms on the menu but I'm quite partial to a mushroom burger if it's been well thought through, and this marinade is a lovely mix of summery flavours.


BBQ-Grilled Butternut Squash and Red Onion (v)


Ingredients (serves 4)

* 2 tsp coconut oil
* 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
* 2 large onions, sliced
* 1.5 tsp paprika
* 1 tsp sea salt
* Quarter tsp black pepper

Method

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinade the squash and onions well.

(Optional middle step: I roasted my veg in the oven for 20 minutes before I transferred it to the BBQ.)

When your BBQ is hot enough, place the seasoned squash and onions on the hot plate side of your grill. Alternatively, place the marinaded vegetables in foil so you can cook them over the grill. Your squash and onions are ready when soft to the touch.

I swear everything tastes better when it's been on the BBQ! My brother in particular really enjoyed this dish  I had no idea he liked onions so much.


I also marinaded some corn on the cob with coconut oil, lime juice, and paprika, and ended up enjoying it so much that I forgot to photograph it. Coconut oil, lime juice, and spices seem to be a winning combination.

Dessert was vegan banana bread (I had some overripe bananas to use up) with dark chocolate drizzled over the top. The recipe is from Jack Monroe's book, A Girl Called Jack and you need the bananas to be quite mushy, so it's a simple way to prevent food waste. It disappeared in a matter of days and tastes exactly the same as regular cake; this is a good one for a family gathering if you don't want anyone to make comments about 'what you weird people eat' (I'm speaking from experience).

This was the first time I'd ever BBQ'd for anyone so I had no idea how well things were going to go. Adding the vegetarian thing into the mix made me even more nervous, since the idea didn't go down particularly well with my family. Fortunately my friends are very understanding and willing to eat pretty much anything if someone else cooks it for them  they were my guinea pigs! And they assured me the food tasted good. They finished everything, at least...

What are your favourite vegan and veggie BBQ foods? How have you dealt with going to BBQs where most people are eating meat? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Coconut oil sent c/o Vita Coco. Recipes by Selasi. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

A Vegetarian BBQ

One vegetarian hurdle I hadn't jumped over until recently was the humble BBQ.

Well, that's not strictly true  I went to a South African braai when I was in Dubai (and was very well catered for, thank you, Tiff!) But the Let's eat outside and pray it doesn't rain event that happens every summer in Britain? Nope.

I've always enjoyed a good British BBQ, despite the often-questionable weather, but what do you do when your go-to was once beef burgers and a couple of chipolatas from the butcher? Although I enjoy eating the odd meat replacement, I wanted to cook up something a little more creative.

So when Vita Coco offered to send me some recipes (and some coconut oil for cooking), I jumped at the chance to try something new. I was addicted to their coconut water when I was a student and I often use the oil (it works particularly well in curries and banana oat pancakes).


Vita Coco

Now, hands up who remembers Selasi from Bake Off?

I definitely do  he was an absolute sweetheart  and it turns out he's the brains behind some of the recipes I tried. (I hope he's still going on roadtrips to see Val #iconic.) I had most of the seasonings in my cupboard already, so I invited a couple of friends over and picked up the remaining ingredients I needed.

By some miracle, I managed to arrange the BBQ on one of the hottest days we've had this summer. It was a chilled out, let's catch up and eat tonnes of food and drink gin kind of thing, and everything we ate was completely veggie. (In fact, most things were vegan except a couple of the condiments.)


Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Chilli, Coconut & Garlic Marinade (v)

Ingredients (serves 4)

* 4 large, flat portobello mushrooms
* 2-3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
* 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (I forgot about this and just chopped mine, oops)
* Half tsp garlic powder
* Half tsp chilli flakes
* 1 tsp brown sugar
* Half tsp sea salt
* Half tsp ground black pepper
* 1 lime (juice and zest)

Method

Place the mushrooms in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.

Mix thoroughly and leave to marinade overnight.

Cook the mushrooms on the BBQ for about fifteen minutes, until they're nicely charred (but not burnt!)

I served each mushroom in a bun with roasted red peppers, salad leaves and sweet chilli sauce, then left other condiments out on the table so people could add what they wanted.

I think I got a bit carried away with the lime, so it's lucky everyone liked it! I know many vegans and vegetarians are sick to death of seeing mushrooms on the menu but I'm quite partial to a mushroom burger if it's been well thought through, and this marinade is a lovely mix of summery flavours.


BBQ-Grilled Butternut Squash and Red Onion (v)


Ingredients (serves 4)

* 2 tsp coconut oil
* 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed
* 2 large onions, sliced
* 1.5 tsp paprika
* 1 tsp sea salt
* Quarter tsp black pepper

Method

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and marinade the squash and onions well.

(Optional middle step: I roasted my veg in the oven for 20 minutes before I transferred it to the BBQ.)

When your BBQ is hot enough, place the seasoned squash and onions on the hot plate side of your grill. Alternatively, place the marinaded vegetables in foil so you can cook them over the grill. Your squash and onions are ready when soft to the touch.

I swear everything tastes better when it's been on the BBQ! My brother in particular really enjoyed this dish  I had no idea he liked onions so much.


I also marinaded some corn on the cob with coconut oil, lime juice, and paprika, and ended up enjoying it so much that I forgot to photograph it. Coconut oil, lime juice, and spices seem to be a winning combination.

Dessert was vegan banana bread (I had some overripe bananas to use up) with dark chocolate drizzled over the top. The recipe is from Jack Monroe's book, A Girl Called Jack and you need the bananas to be quite mushy, so it's a simple way to prevent food waste. It disappeared in a matter of days and tastes exactly the same as regular cake; this is a good one for a family gathering if you don't want anyone to make comments about 'what you weird people eat' (I'm speaking from experience).

This was the first time I'd ever BBQ'd for anyone so I had no idea how well things were going to go. Adding the vegetarian thing into the mix made me even more nervous, since the idea didn't go down particularly well with my family. Fortunately my friends are very understanding and willing to eat pretty much anything if someone else cooks it for them  they were my guinea pigs! And they assured me the food tasted good. They finished everything, at least...

What are your favourite vegan and veggie BBQ foods? How have you dealt with going to BBQs where most people are eating meat? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Coconut oil sent c/o Vita Coco. Recipes by Selasi. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
So you've decided to make the switch to cruelty free. Congratulations!

When I went cruelty free I went from feeling motivated and proud of my decision to wondering what on earth I should do first, so this post will talk about how you can gradually transition to having a completely cruelty-free collection of products at your disposal. Of course, if you'd rather do everything in one go, then that's cool, too  some people just want an immediate fresh start.

(Need a little more information on reasons to go cruelty free? Click here.)

Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy

How do I know which brands are cruelty-free?

This can be a tricky one. Some brands are very clear about their approach, others... not so much. I normally head to the About Us or FAQ page of the website to see if they state anything about their stance towards animal testing.

Generally, brands with a cruelty-free ethos will be proud of it and mention it at the first opportunity. If you're in a shop and you see a product with the Leaping Bunny logo (which looks like this) then that brand is cruelty-free, and will have had to pass strict requirements in order to display the logo on their packaging. Not every cruelty-free product will be Leaping Bunny-certified but it's reassuring to see the logo all the same.

In order for a brand to be considered cruelty free, they:

1. Must not test finished products on animals.

2. Must not test product ingredients on animals. (Every ingredient will have been tested on animals in the past, but the brand must now use humane alternatives.)

3. Must not hire a third party to carry out animal testing on finished products or ingredients.

4. Must not sell their products in China. (Products can be made in China; the regulations are different in that instance.)

If a brand says they are against animal testing, except when required by law, then it means they sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory, and they cannot be considered cruelty free.

If you're still not sure, you can email the brand directly and ask for clarification. This is something I'm planning to do more of so I can keep my cruelty-free brands list as up-to-date as possible.

Short on time? Logical Harmony and Cruelty-Free Kitty have brand lists you can use for reference.

Botanicals Hand Balm

Where do I start?

Look at your existing collection of products. You might feel motivated enough to tackle everything at once or you might decide to look at a category at a time, e.g. you could start with your make-up and then move on to skincare, hair etc, or you might look at a brand at a time.

When I sorted through my products I did one of four things:

1. Kept cruelty-free products

2. Kept non-cruelty-free products so I could use them up

3. Gave away any non-cruelty-free products that I didn't really use but were still full/in-date

4. Threw away any products (both cruelty free and non cruelty free) that had expired

Alex from AlexGraceJones suggests getting little stickers to mark the remaining non cruelty free products in your collection so you can chuck them out once they're empty and research replacements. I only wish I'd thought of this myself!

Zoya Nail Polishes

Making the Switch Slowly

Once you've had a bit of clear-out you'll be able to use everything you own as normal and see where the gaps are. Some products are easy to replace  shower gel, for instance  while others might prove to be a little more tricky. (I'm still searching for a cruelty-free alternative to a matte red lipstick I used to wear constantly.) We all have different skin types, skin tones, hair types, tastes etc so what's simple and what's not will vary from person to person.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give is this: take things at your own pace and don't be hard on yourself if you buy from a non-cruelty-free brand by mistake. The next installment of Going Cruelty Free is all about buying cf beauty on the high street so hopefully that will give you a good idea of where to start shopping!

What else would you like to know about going cruelty free? How did you make the switch? Let me know in the comments! 

Going Cruelty Free Step By Step

So you've decided to make the switch to cruelty free. Congratulations!

When I went cruelty free I went from feeling motivated and proud of my decision to wondering what on earth I should do first, so this post will talk about how you can gradually transition to having a completely cruelty-free collection of products at your disposal. Of course, if you'd rather do everything in one go, then that's cool, too  some people just want an immediate fresh start.

(Need a little more information on reasons to go cruelty free? Click here.)

Alchemy Grapefruit Hair Remedy

How do I know which brands are cruelty-free?

This can be a tricky one. Some brands are very clear about their approach, others... not so much. I normally head to the About Us or FAQ page of the website to see if they state anything about their stance towards animal testing.

Generally, brands with a cruelty-free ethos will be proud of it and mention it at the first opportunity. If you're in a shop and you see a product with the Leaping Bunny logo (which looks like this) then that brand is cruelty-free, and will have had to pass strict requirements in order to display the logo on their packaging. Not every cruelty-free product will be Leaping Bunny-certified but it's reassuring to see the logo all the same.

In order for a brand to be considered cruelty free, they:

1. Must not test finished products on animals.

2. Must not test product ingredients on animals. (Every ingredient will have been tested on animals in the past, but the brand must now use humane alternatives.)

3. Must not hire a third party to carry out animal testing on finished products or ingredients.

4. Must not sell their products in China. (Products can be made in China; the regulations are different in that instance.)

If a brand says they are against animal testing, except when required by law, then it means they sell their products in China, where animal testing is compulsory, and they cannot be considered cruelty free.

If you're still not sure, you can email the brand directly and ask for clarification. This is something I'm planning to do more of so I can keep my cruelty-free brands list as up-to-date as possible.

Short on time? Logical Harmony and Cruelty-Free Kitty have brand lists you can use for reference.

Botanicals Hand Balm

Where do I start?

Look at your existing collection of products. You might feel motivated enough to tackle everything at once or you might decide to look at a category at a time, e.g. you could start with your make-up and then move on to skincare, hair etc, or you might look at a brand at a time.

When I sorted through my products I did one of four things:

1. Kept cruelty-free products

2. Kept non-cruelty-free products so I could use them up

3. Gave away any non-cruelty-free products that I didn't really use but were still full/in-date

4. Threw away any products (both cruelty free and non cruelty free) that had expired

Alex from AlexGraceJones suggests getting little stickers to mark the remaining non cruelty free products in your collection so you can chuck them out once they're empty and research replacements. I only wish I'd thought of this myself!

Zoya Nail Polishes

Making the Switch Slowly

Once you've had a bit of clear-out you'll be able to use everything you own as normal and see where the gaps are. Some products are easy to replace  shower gel, for instance  while others might prove to be a little more tricky. (I'm still searching for a cruelty-free alternative to a matte red lipstick I used to wear constantly.) We all have different skin types, skin tones, hair types, tastes etc so what's simple and what's not will vary from person to person.

Ultimately, the best advice I can give is this: take things at your own pace and don't be hard on yourself if you buy from a non-cruelty-free brand by mistake. The next installment of Going Cruelty Free is all about buying cf beauty on the high street so hopefully that will give you a good idea of where to start shopping!

What else would you like to know about going cruelty free? How did you make the switch? Let me know in the comments! 
Today is A Level results day, which makes it five years since I got mine.

I was eighteen years old and I'd just started to tick off teenage milestones like going out out for the first time, passing my driving test, and kissing an actual boy (I was a late bloomer in that respect). I also had no clue what to do next.

My original plan of undertaking further dance training of some kind came screeching to a halt when I realised my heart wasn't in it anymore. But at that point I only had two A Levels and didn't even know if I wanted to go to university, so I was clueless in that respect, too. And I had no idea what kind of job I would apply for if I was to go straight into the world of work.

I spent that night in our local snooker lounge, affectionately known as Pool Club, burbling about my lack of life plan and getting emotional about everyone leaving for university. (I also got chatted up by a cute blond guy who was staying put, so the night wasn't a total waste, but that's beside the point.)

In short, I was stuck, or at least I felt like I was stuck. For the last five years I've muddled through and while I'm not where I thought I would be, I'm not there because what I want has changed. Copywriting and marketing hadn't even crossed my mind at that point.

I'm not going to tell anyone what they should do with their life  two of the main messages from this post, I hope, are that everyone goes about things differently and it's okay if your route isn't the norm  but I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learnt since that day in 2012.

Eighteen
Me at eighteen. Yes, I know I look about twelve.


Lesson One: The world won't end if you don't get the grades you want/need/expect.

I was a good student so the possibility of failing anything hadn't even entered my head. When it happened (I failed Art) I was gutted and had no idea what my next steps were.

At my mum's suggestion I headed back to the school to ask them for advice, which is how I ended up doing a two-year course in half the time to get the extra grade I would need for uni if I ever decided to go. There were options and that Art A Level hasn't defined my future.

I wasn't as artistic as I'd first thought, but I was happy to fling myself head-first into studying Psychology and you can safely bet your life that I bought a new pencil case and highlighters for the occasion. I was lucky the school were so supportive  what would I have done without Mrs Morse, Mrs Lawson, and Miss Large? Babes <3

Lesson Two: You don't have to go down the traditional path.

There's nothing wrong with doing the whole sixth form → university → grad scheme thing. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with not doing that.

Although I did eventually go to university to study Creative Writing, my way of getting there wasn't particularly conventional, what with doing three years of sixth form and a Psychology crash course.

Once I was there, I noticed that the happiest, most motivated people I met were the ones who studied a subject they genuinely enjoyed, not the ones who were there because 'that's what you do' or because their parents wanted them to go.

Lesson Three: Some friendships last. Some don't.

Friendships change so much once you leave school. You don't see each other every day like you used to  you may not even be living in the same country  and sometimes people grow apart.

But sometimes people end up becoming even closer and it's pretty damn wonderful. You see each other less and less but when you do get together it just feels normal and right. In my experience, the friendships that last are the ones where people keep in touch and make time for each other, with effort from both sides. I'm finding the same thing for uni friendships, too.

Lesson Four: Sometimes it's better to let go.

Undoubtedly the most difficult lesson I've had to learn. Toxic frenemies? They aren't worth your time. The ex who makes your self-esteem plummet? Not good for you.

The people I want in my life are those who listen without judgement, lovingly take the piss, and make me feel like I can (and should) do anything I put my mind to, be it applying for the cool job that scares me or demolishing a whole pizza in one sitting.

Lesson Five: Things won't always work out the way you expect them to.

And that's okay! We're all winging it. Do what's right for you and remember that it's normal to not be sure what that is. The best experiences I've had have happened when I've kept an open mind, tried new things, and listened to my gut instincts. My life now is completely different to how I imagined it would be, but I'm happy.

If you're getting your results today then I wish you the very best of luck! And if you've long moved on from sixth form and are starting to wonder why everyone in the pub suddenly looks so young (*raises hand*), what have you learnt since your schooldays? Let me know in the comments!

The Last Five Years: Post-A-Level Life Lessons

Today is A Level results day, which makes it five years since I got mine.

I was eighteen years old and I'd just started to tick off teenage milestones like going out out for the first time, passing my driving test, and kissing an actual boy (I was a late bloomer in that respect). I also had no clue what to do next.

My original plan of undertaking further dance training of some kind came screeching to a halt when I realised my heart wasn't in it anymore. But at that point I only had two A Levels and didn't even know if I wanted to go to university, so I was clueless in that respect, too. And I had no idea what kind of job I would apply for if I was to go straight into the world of work.

I spent that night in our local snooker lounge, affectionately known as Pool Club, burbling about my lack of life plan and getting emotional about everyone leaving for university. (I also got chatted up by a cute blond guy who was staying put, so the night wasn't a total waste, but that's beside the point.)

In short, I was stuck, or at least I felt like I was stuck. For the last five years I've muddled through and while I'm not where I thought I would be, I'm not there because what I want has changed. Copywriting and marketing hadn't even crossed my mind at that point.

I'm not going to tell anyone what they should do with their life  two of the main messages from this post, I hope, are that everyone goes about things differently and it's okay if your route isn't the norm  but I thought I'd share some of the lessons I've learnt since that day in 2012.

Eighteen
Me at eighteen. Yes, I know I look about twelve.


Lesson One: The world won't end if you don't get the grades you want/need/expect.

I was a good student so the possibility of failing anything hadn't even entered my head. When it happened (I failed Art) I was gutted and had no idea what my next steps were.

At my mum's suggestion I headed back to the school to ask them for advice, which is how I ended up doing a two-year course in half the time to get the extra grade I would need for uni if I ever decided to go. There were options and that Art A Level hasn't defined my future.

I wasn't as artistic as I'd first thought, but I was happy to fling myself head-first into studying Psychology and you can safely bet your life that I bought a new pencil case and highlighters for the occasion. I was lucky the school were so supportive  what would I have done without Mrs Morse, Mrs Lawson, and Miss Large? Babes <3

Lesson Two: You don't have to go down the traditional path.

There's nothing wrong with doing the whole sixth form → university → grad scheme thing. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with not doing that.

Although I did eventually go to university to study Creative Writing, my way of getting there wasn't particularly conventional, what with doing three years of sixth form and a Psychology crash course.

Once I was there, I noticed that the happiest, most motivated people I met were the ones who studied a subject they genuinely enjoyed, not the ones who were there because 'that's what you do' or because their parents wanted them to go.

Lesson Three: Some friendships last. Some don't.

Friendships change so much once you leave school. You don't see each other every day like you used to  you may not even be living in the same country  and sometimes people grow apart.

But sometimes people end up becoming even closer and it's pretty damn wonderful. You see each other less and less but when you do get together it just feels normal and right. In my experience, the friendships that last are the ones where people keep in touch and make time for each other, with effort from both sides. I'm finding the same thing for uni friendships, too.

Lesson Four: Sometimes it's better to let go.

Undoubtedly the most difficult lesson I've had to learn. Toxic frenemies? They aren't worth your time. The ex who makes your self-esteem plummet? Not good for you.

The people I want in my life are those who listen without judgement, lovingly take the piss, and make me feel like I can (and should) do anything I put my mind to, be it applying for the cool job that scares me or demolishing a whole pizza in one sitting.

Lesson Five: Things won't always work out the way you expect them to.

And that's okay! We're all winging it. Do what's right for you and remember that it's normal to not be sure what that is. The best experiences I've had have happened when I've kept an open mind, tried new things, and listened to my gut instincts. My life now is completely different to how I imagined it would be, but I'm happy.

If you're getting your results today then I wish you the very best of luck! And if you've long moved on from sixth form and are starting to wonder why everyone in the pub suddenly looks so young (*raises hand*), what have you learnt since your schooldays? Let me know in the comments!
I'm on a mission to use up as many products as possible.

I'd like to seriously cut down on the amount of products I own, but I also don't want anything to go to waste and I don't want to forget about something and then realise it's expired. I've been rotating the contents of my make-up bag so everything gets used (this also means I can weed out anything that I genuinely don't get on with) but nonetheless, favourites have emerged  some new, some not-so-new.

I may be happy going out without make-up these days but I do still enjoy using it  this post has ended up being a little longer than I expected! What can I say, I like to have options.


Base

These days it's unusual for me to apply foundation all over my skin because, quite frankly, I just can't be bothered. I use RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up in 000* underneath my eyes to brighten the skin and mask any dark circles. It's a dewy concealer/foundation hybrid, best used sparingly, and I find it works well when you want healthy, natural-looking skin.

On bad skin days I dot Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in Light* (v) over redness and blemishes. I thought it would be too dark for me but it blends right out and stays put, plus the packaging is like nothing you've ever seen before in your life. I'll be writing a more in-depth post about Pacifica at some point, so keep an eye out!

I blend both of these products with the B. Blending Sponge* (v), which is a little less squishy that other sponges I've tried before, even when wet. I think I prefer this, especially for concealing  blemishes  it feels that bit more robust than your standard blending sponge (plus it's latex-free).


Eyes and Brows

If I only use one make-up product, it'll be NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade in Brunette. I bought it the day before my graduation, so this teeny pot is well over a year old now and I'm not even halfway through. You only need to apply a little bit on an angled brush, using short strokes to mimic the way the hairs lie and fill in any gaps. £5.50 well spent.

If I'm feeling sleepy and it's showing on my face (oh, who am I kidding, I always look tired) then Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean (v) often comes to my rescue. It's a cream eyeshadow in champagne gold and it's also the prettiest make-up product in the entire world. It's expensive but I'd buy it again  it's the kind of product that looks beautiful on everyone. It can sit in creases if you get carried away, so I use my finger to pat it on lightly and then it lasts all night.

When I've got the time to attempt eyeliner I start with NATOrigin Organic Pencil Eye Liner in Brown*, tracing the colour along the outer third of my lower and upper lashline for some subtle definition. These days I truly have thrown caution to the wind if I decide to break out the eyeliner wings and at the moment I prefer a gel liner in dark brown. I've been using one by NARS but obviously they're a no-go now, so I'll be replacing it with a cruelty-free option once it runs out.

GOSH very kindly sent me some products from their AW17 collection and the one I've been reaching for most is My Favourite Mascara in Black*. GOSH are always my first option when I want to buy a high street mascara  I've repurchased Growth Mascara and Rebel Eyes (v) multiple times  and this one is a welcome addition to my make-up bag. It's easy to layer and holds quite the curl.


Lips & Cheeks

The Body Shop Baked To Last Bronzer in Warm Glow* (v) is the first bronzing product I've ever wanted to wear on a regular basis, which should tell you something about how good it is! The shade Warm Glow makes you look healthy and sunkissed, the shimmer isn't too aggressive, and the colour doesn't look out of place on pale skin. (There's also a darker shade available.)

I tend to wear one of two looks at the moment  a combination of peachy, coral-y shades that scream summer, or lightly flushed cheeks and vampy lips.

Sleek Blush in Life's a Peach gives skin a healthy glow and is just the right shade (i.e. it's not too orange). When I want to brighten things up even further I grab the chunky crayon-like No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter. Swipe, blend, done  the lazy girl's option.

I either dab Fairypants Lip Paint in Dorothy (v) on my lips to create a sheer wash of pale, natural pink, or I use a lip brush to apply Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna (v), a cool matte coral that strikes the balance between being moisturising and long-lasting.


Alternatively, I'll dot Pixi MultiBalm Cheek & Lip Colour in Wild Rose* onto my cheeks and lips straight from the stick. This shade is completely different to anything else I own  rosy with a lilac undertone  and while the colour payoff is noticeable, it's still quite subtle. Wearing the same shade on lips and cheeks instantly makes you look like you've got your shit together, too, and all with minimal effort.

Sometimes I apply a little of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown (v) over the top. I haven't really been using it as a lip liner, I've just been shading my lips in ever so slightly to get a sheer dark red colour. The Pixi balm tones it down somewhat, so it's a red/brown lip without the commitment. This combination has survived me eating food like vegetable lasagne and five-bean chilli burritos with only a little fading in the centre and no smudges, so I'm rather fond of it!

What are your go-to products at the moment? Have you rediscovered any old favourites? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for consideration of review. This post contains affiliate links.

In My Make-Up Bag: Old Faithfuls + New Favourites

I'm on a mission to use up as many products as possible.

I'd like to seriously cut down on the amount of products I own, but I also don't want anything to go to waste and I don't want to forget about something and then realise it's expired. I've been rotating the contents of my make-up bag so everything gets used (this also means I can weed out anything that I genuinely don't get on with) but nonetheless, favourites have emerged  some new, some not-so-new.

I may be happy going out without make-up these days but I do still enjoy using it  this post has ended up being a little longer than I expected! What can I say, I like to have options.


Base

These days it's unusual for me to apply foundation all over my skin because, quite frankly, I just can't be bothered. I use RMS Beauty Un Cover-Up in 000* underneath my eyes to brighten the skin and mask any dark circles. It's a dewy concealer/foundation hybrid, best used sparingly, and I find it works well when you want healthy, natural-looking skin.

On bad skin days I dot Pacifica Transcendent Concentrated Concealer in Light* (v) over redness and blemishes. I thought it would be too dark for me but it blends right out and stays put, plus the packaging is like nothing you've ever seen before in your life. I'll be writing a more in-depth post about Pacifica at some point, so keep an eye out!

I blend both of these products with the B. Blending Sponge* (v), which is a little less squishy that other sponges I've tried before, even when wet. I think I prefer this, especially for concealing  blemishes  it feels that bit more robust than your standard blending sponge (plus it's latex-free).


Eyes and Brows

If I only use one make-up product, it'll be NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade in Brunette. I bought it the day before my graduation, so this teeny pot is well over a year old now and I'm not even halfway through. You only need to apply a little bit on an angled brush, using short strokes to mimic the way the hairs lie and fill in any gaps. £5.50 well spent.

If I'm feeling sleepy and it's showing on my face (oh, who am I kidding, I always look tired) then Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise in Jean (v) often comes to my rescue. It's a cream eyeshadow in champagne gold and it's also the prettiest make-up product in the entire world. It's expensive but I'd buy it again  it's the kind of product that looks beautiful on everyone. It can sit in creases if you get carried away, so I use my finger to pat it on lightly and then it lasts all night.

When I've got the time to attempt eyeliner I start with NATOrigin Organic Pencil Eye Liner in Brown*, tracing the colour along the outer third of my lower and upper lashline for some subtle definition. These days I truly have thrown caution to the wind if I decide to break out the eyeliner wings and at the moment I prefer a gel liner in dark brown. I've been using one by NARS but obviously they're a no-go now, so I'll be replacing it with a cruelty-free option once it runs out.

GOSH very kindly sent me some products from their AW17 collection and the one I've been reaching for most is My Favourite Mascara in Black*. GOSH are always my first option when I want to buy a high street mascara  I've repurchased Growth Mascara and Rebel Eyes (v) multiple times  and this one is a welcome addition to my make-up bag. It's easy to layer and holds quite the curl.


Lips & Cheeks

The Body Shop Baked To Last Bronzer in Warm Glow* (v) is the first bronzing product I've ever wanted to wear on a regular basis, which should tell you something about how good it is! The shade Warm Glow makes you look healthy and sunkissed, the shimmer isn't too aggressive, and the colour doesn't look out of place on pale skin. (There's also a darker shade available.)

I tend to wear one of two looks at the moment  a combination of peachy, coral-y shades that scream summer, or lightly flushed cheeks and vampy lips.

Sleek Blush in Life's a Peach gives skin a healthy glow and is just the right shade (i.e. it's not too orange). When I want to brighten things up even further I grab the chunky crayon-like No7 Instant Radiance Highlighter. Swipe, blend, done  the lazy girl's option.

I either dab Fairypants Lip Paint in Dorothy (v) on my lips to create a sheer wash of pale, natural pink, or I use a lip brush to apply Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Sexy Sienna (v), a cool matte coral that strikes the balance between being moisturising and long-lasting.


Alternatively, I'll dot Pixi MultiBalm Cheek & Lip Colour in Wild Rose* onto my cheeks and lips straight from the stick. This shade is completely different to anything else I own  rosy with a lilac undertone  and while the colour payoff is noticeable, it's still quite subtle. Wearing the same shade on lips and cheeks instantly makes you look like you've got your shit together, too, and all with minimal effort.

Sometimes I apply a little of the Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Foxy Brown (v) over the top. I haven't really been using it as a lip liner, I've just been shading my lips in ever so slightly to get a sheer dark red colour. The Pixi balm tones it down somewhat, so it's a red/brown lip without the commitment. This combination has survived me eating food like vegetable lasagne and five-bean chilli burritos with only a little fading in the centre and no smudges, so I'm rather fond of it!

What are your go-to products at the moment? Have you rediscovered any old favourites? Let me know in the comments!

(v) = vegan

Products marked with an asterisk were sent to me for consideration of review. This post contains affiliate links.

Last weekend I took a trip up to North Wales to see some of my uni friends. I had to lug everything with me on the train so I needed to pack as little as possible, but here's where it gets tricky. As much as I'd love to be a complete and utter minimalist, I also feel much better when I'm prepared for every eventuality. I'm working on finding a balance between the two.

Luckily I'm pretty lazy when it comes to doing anything with my hair, so choosing what to take was easy. My hair gets oily at the roots fairly quickly and I knew I'd have to wash it while I was away (dry shampoo can only do so much). I threw in a mini shampoo and detangler duo from John Masters Organics and some styling spray by Ogario London, all of which I received in a LoveLula Beauty Box. One wooden comb later, and that was that.

John Masters Shampoo and Detangler

John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair*, £5.50 for 60ml

This Lavender Rosemary Shampoo does its job, in that it leaves my hair feeling clean, although it doesn't prolong the length of time I can leave my hair between washes (it's perhaps a little too nourishing on my oily roots). You can really smell the lavender and rosemary  they balance each other out quite nicely  and the scent doesn't linger on hair, which could be a plus or a minus depending on how much you like the fragrance. Personally I'm not keen on lavender but I do like it when mixed with other ingredients.

As with most sulphate-free shampoos, this one doesn't lather up as much as you might like but this doesn't affect its ability to cleanse the hair and scalp, it just takes some getting used to if you're not familiar with it. I wouldn't buy the full-size product but it's a handy to have a mini shampoo at my disposal, plus I can save on waste by reusing the bottle for future trips once it's empty.

John Masters Organics Citrus & Neroli Detangler*, £5.50 for 60ml

I'm a sucker for citrus scents and the combination of citrus and neroli smells lovely. The formula is a little lighter than my regular conditioner but since I have very fine hair this isn't a problem! The Detangler provides much-needed moisture and makes combing through tangles much easier; those with thicker strands might like to use another conditioning product afterwards. I'm not sure if I could quite commit to buying the full-size version but I'd certainly buy another travel-size mini if I needed to.

Ogario Styling Mist

Ogario London Styling Mist*, £16 for 60ml

It's rare for me to find a styling product I can be bothered to use, so hats off to Ogario for managing it with their lemon zest and oats spray. The key, I think, is that this isn't much of a faff  you soak up excess water with a towel after washing your hair, shake the bottle, then spray 2-3 times above your head and let the mist settle. If, like me, you rarely heat-style your hair then you just leave it to do its thing and if you prefer a blow-dry then away you go. It's that simple.

The first time I used this someone said 'Your hair looks nice, have you done something different with it?' (As usual, I was incredibly awkward taking the compliment.) The Styling Mist does make a subtle difference, though, by enhancing my hair's waves and giving them more of a beachy, tousled texture. You only need a little bit, although even when I got carried away spritzing (as you do) my hair didn't really go crispy or dry out. It just looked healthy, which is all I want.

Using this trio on my trip meant I could wash and go, leaving more time to enjoy the stunning Welsh countryside and catch up with my friends.

I'd recommend buying the travel-size versions of the John Masters Organics products to see if they suit you before splashing out on the pricier full-size versions, which cost £17 per bottle. There's not a miniature version of the Ogario mist, however it more than fits the bill if you want tousled waves but don't want to use a drying salt spray.

What do you pack when you go on holiday? Do you struggle choosing what products to pack? Let me know in the comments!

Products were sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

A Travel Hair Routine

Last weekend I took a trip up to North Wales to see some of my uni friends. I had to lug everything with me on the train so I needed to pack as little as possible, but here's where it gets tricky. As much as I'd love to be a complete and utter minimalist, I also feel much better when I'm prepared for every eventuality. I'm working on finding a balance between the two.

Luckily I'm pretty lazy when it comes to doing anything with my hair, so choosing what to take was easy. My hair gets oily at the roots fairly quickly and I knew I'd have to wash it while I was away (dry shampoo can only do so much). I threw in a mini shampoo and detangler duo from John Masters Organics and some styling spray by Ogario London, all of which I received in a LoveLula Beauty Box. One wooden comb later, and that was that.

John Masters Shampoo and Detangler

John Masters Organics Lavender Rosemary Shampoo for Normal Hair*, £5.50 for 60ml

This Lavender Rosemary Shampoo does its job, in that it leaves my hair feeling clean, although it doesn't prolong the length of time I can leave my hair between washes (it's perhaps a little too nourishing on my oily roots). You can really smell the lavender and rosemary  they balance each other out quite nicely  and the scent doesn't linger on hair, which could be a plus or a minus depending on how much you like the fragrance. Personally I'm not keen on lavender but I do like it when mixed with other ingredients.

As with most sulphate-free shampoos, this one doesn't lather up as much as you might like but this doesn't affect its ability to cleanse the hair and scalp, it just takes some getting used to if you're not familiar with it. I wouldn't buy the full-size product but it's a handy to have a mini shampoo at my disposal, plus I can save on waste by reusing the bottle for future trips once it's empty.

John Masters Organics Citrus & Neroli Detangler*, £5.50 for 60ml

I'm a sucker for citrus scents and the combination of citrus and neroli smells lovely. The formula is a little lighter than my regular conditioner but since I have very fine hair this isn't a problem! The Detangler provides much-needed moisture and makes combing through tangles much easier; those with thicker strands might like to use another conditioning product afterwards. I'm not sure if I could quite commit to buying the full-size version but I'd certainly buy another travel-size mini if I needed to.

Ogario Styling Mist

Ogario London Styling Mist*, £16 for 60ml

It's rare for me to find a styling product I can be bothered to use, so hats off to Ogario for managing it with their lemon zest and oats spray. The key, I think, is that this isn't much of a faff  you soak up excess water with a towel after washing your hair, shake the bottle, then spray 2-3 times above your head and let the mist settle. If, like me, you rarely heat-style your hair then you just leave it to do its thing and if you prefer a blow-dry then away you go. It's that simple.

The first time I used this someone said 'Your hair looks nice, have you done something different with it?' (As usual, I was incredibly awkward taking the compliment.) The Styling Mist does make a subtle difference, though, by enhancing my hair's waves and giving them more of a beachy, tousled texture. You only need a little bit, although even when I got carried away spritzing (as you do) my hair didn't really go crispy or dry out. It just looked healthy, which is all I want.

Using this trio on my trip meant I could wash and go, leaving more time to enjoy the stunning Welsh countryside and catch up with my friends.

I'd recommend buying the travel-size versions of the John Masters Organics products to see if they suit you before splashing out on the pricier full-size versions, which cost £17 per bottle. There's not a miniature version of the Ogario mist, however it more than fits the bill if you want tousled waves but don't want to use a drying salt spray.

What do you pack when you go on holiday? Do you struggle choosing what products to pack? Let me know in the comments!

Products were sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own.
Recently I set up a Facebook page for this blog, which meant inviting family and friends to like it and see what I do in my spare time.

The prospect of this was scary to say the least, but it's also lead to some interesting conversations about why I only buy cruelty-free products and what made me go vegetarian.

"I read everything you post," my dad said to me a few days ago. "But I don't always agree with what you say."

When I asked what he meant by that, he admitted he wasn't sure he agreed with my stance on animal testing. ('What about medicine?' always seems to be the question people ask, but my focus is beauty products.)

I'm not sure he realised quite how bad animal testing is. He didn't know there are plenty of alternatives to animal testing out there. And he didn't know the differences between EU law and Chinese law.

And, to be fair to him, you wouldn't expect him to. He doesn't wear make-up regularly (although he did once dress as a woman to help a friend in a beach hut competition. They won; Madame Fifi's Boutique looked awesome).

I had been planning a series about going cruelty-free anyway, since I see more and more people on Twitter taking those first steps  which is wonderful. I also see a little bit of confusion and a lot of worrying that what they're doing isn't good enough or just plain wrong. This, coupled with my dad's questioning, was the impetus I needed to actually start writing, so here we are.

Oh, and just so we're clear: What you're doing is good enough. Everyone has to start somewhere. Take it slowly, do what works for you, and you'll be sorted. You might slip up, sure, but that's because you're human. I've made tonnes of cf mistakes and I'll probably make more.

Cruelty-free lip products

What is cruelty-free?

For a brand to be cruelty-free, they must not test their products on animals, test any of their ingredients on animals, pay another company to test on animals, or sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory.

Animal testing became illegal under EU law in 2013, but many big name brands continue to market their products in China whilst simultaneously claiming that they are against animal testing. (A key phrase to look for is 'We do not carry out testing on animals, except when required by law.')

This is why the recent NARS controversy caused so much outrage. After years of being a high end staple for many cruelty-free consumers, NARS decided to enter the Chinese market. A company can claim they're against animal testing all they like but if they're willing to conduct it in order to sell their products then they're all about the £££. I have much more respect for brands which point blank refuse to sell in China (Barry M spring to mind) and brands which actually listen to their customer base (like Urban Decay, who abandoned plans to enter the Chinese market because consumers weren't having it).

Why is animal testing so terrible?

Sadly, it's not just a case of giving a bunny a good clean with some shampoo. Laboratory animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, rats, and hamsters are maimed, tortured, abused, and eventually killed. They might have chemicals put in their eyes, forced down their throats, and rubbed into their skin. They might be part of the Lethal Dose Test, and fed huge quantities of a chemical to see which amount causes death.

And this is all for the sake of cosmetics. It's a painful, miserable life which ends with a snap of the neck and it's not necessary  there are plenty of humane testing alternatives out there. I realise it's uncomfortable and upsetting to think about, but it's the reality, and one  as my dad proved  that not everybody is aware of.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick

What are the humane alternatives?

Every ingredient in the past has been tested on animals  that's not something we can get away from  but the key question is whether a brand has continued to do it. Many have a fixed cut-off date, which signifies when they stopped new testing (if they ever tested at all).

According to the Leaping Bunny: 'There are many reliable alternatives to using animals available, including cell and tissue cultures and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe. Cruelty-free companies can use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as employing in vitro tests and/or conducting clinical studies on humans.'

What about parent companies?

Some brands which don't test on animals are owned by brands that do. Whether or not you choose to buy from these brands is entirely up to you. The community is divided on the issue.

I like to buy from independent cruelty-free brands when I can, but sometimes you just have to pop into Superdrug to get some emergency sun cream or a new deodorant, for example, and I think outright stating that you can't be cruelty-free if you buy from brands owned by parent companies is very restrictive  especially for those who are making the transition to cruelty-free.

However, others may feel more comfortable avoiding parent company-owned brands altogether, and that's okay too. It's a personal choice.

Bloomtown Botanicals Bath Salts


Will I make a difference?

Yes. You'll be showing support for brands with a more ethical approach and refusing to support animal testing  voting with your wallet, as they say. You'll discover new brands which you might not have come across otherwise. You might start looking beyond beauty products to examine other aspects of ethical living, such as food and fast fashion (although don't let anybody tell you you have to be vegan in order to go cruelty-free. You don't. The perfect consumer does not exist. On the other hand, if going cruelty-free sparks an interest in veganism for you then that's amazing).

There are set-backs (oh hey, NARS) but changes are made, too. The Body Shop never really recovered from the backlash when they were bought by L'Oreal, one of the most notoriously animal-unfriendly brands out there, and have since been bought by cruelty-free company Natura. More consumers will shop there now, which means more money for the business, which means other companies will sit up and take notice. There's always hope.

Have you ever considered going cruelty-free? If you've already made the switch, what was the transition like for you? Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments! And please let me know if there are any topics you'd like me to cover in this series. I'm all ears.

Further reading:


Why Go Cruelty Free?

Recently I set up a Facebook page for this blog, which meant inviting family and friends to like it and see what I do in my spare time.

The prospect of this was scary to say the least, but it's also lead to some interesting conversations about why I only buy cruelty-free products and what made me go vegetarian.

"I read everything you post," my dad said to me a few days ago. "But I don't always agree with what you say."

When I asked what he meant by that, he admitted he wasn't sure he agreed with my stance on animal testing. ('What about medicine?' always seems to be the question people ask, but my focus is beauty products.)

I'm not sure he realised quite how bad animal testing is. He didn't know there are plenty of alternatives to animal testing out there. And he didn't know the differences between EU law and Chinese law.

And, to be fair to him, you wouldn't expect him to. He doesn't wear make-up regularly (although he did once dress as a woman to help a friend in a beach hut competition. They won; Madame Fifi's Boutique looked awesome).

I had been planning a series about going cruelty-free anyway, since I see more and more people on Twitter taking those first steps  which is wonderful. I also see a little bit of confusion and a lot of worrying that what they're doing isn't good enough or just plain wrong. This, coupled with my dad's questioning, was the impetus I needed to actually start writing, so here we are.

Oh, and just so we're clear: What you're doing is good enough. Everyone has to start somewhere. Take it slowly, do what works for you, and you'll be sorted. You might slip up, sure, but that's because you're human. I've made tonnes of cf mistakes and I'll probably make more.

Cruelty-free lip products

What is cruelty-free?

For a brand to be cruelty-free, they must not test their products on animals, test any of their ingredients on animals, pay another company to test on animals, or sell their products in China, where animal testing is mandatory.

Animal testing became illegal under EU law in 2013, but many big name brands continue to market their products in China whilst simultaneously claiming that they are against animal testing. (A key phrase to look for is 'We do not carry out testing on animals, except when required by law.')

This is why the recent NARS controversy caused so much outrage. After years of being a high end staple for many cruelty-free consumers, NARS decided to enter the Chinese market. A company can claim they're against animal testing all they like but if they're willing to conduct it in order to sell their products then they're all about the £££. I have much more respect for brands which point blank refuse to sell in China (Barry M spring to mind) and brands which actually listen to their customer base (like Urban Decay, who abandoned plans to enter the Chinese market because consumers weren't having it).

Why is animal testing so terrible?

Sadly, it's not just a case of giving a bunny a good clean with some shampoo. Laboratory animals such as rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, rats, and hamsters are maimed, tortured, abused, and eventually killed. They might have chemicals put in their eyes, forced down their throats, and rubbed into their skin. They might be part of the Lethal Dose Test, and fed huge quantities of a chemical to see which amount causes death.

And this is all for the sake of cosmetics. It's a painful, miserable life which ends with a snap of the neck and it's not necessary  there are plenty of humane testing alternatives out there. I realise it's uncomfortable and upsetting to think about, but it's the reality, and one  as my dad proved  that not everybody is aware of.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick

What are the humane alternatives?

Every ingredient in the past has been tested on animals  that's not something we can get away from  but the key question is whether a brand has continued to do it. Many have a fixed cut-off date, which signifies when they stopped new testing (if they ever tested at all).

According to the Leaping Bunny: 'There are many reliable alternatives to using animals available, including cell and tissue cultures and sophisticated computer and mathematical models. Companies can also formulate products using ingredients already determined to be safe. Cruelty-free companies can use a combination of methods to ensure safety, such as employing in vitro tests and/or conducting clinical studies on humans.'

What about parent companies?

Some brands which don't test on animals are owned by brands that do. Whether or not you choose to buy from these brands is entirely up to you. The community is divided on the issue.

I like to buy from independent cruelty-free brands when I can, but sometimes you just have to pop into Superdrug to get some emergency sun cream or a new deodorant, for example, and I think outright stating that you can't be cruelty-free if you buy from brands owned by parent companies is very restrictive  especially for those who are making the transition to cruelty-free.

However, others may feel more comfortable avoiding parent company-owned brands altogether, and that's okay too. It's a personal choice.

Bloomtown Botanicals Bath Salts


Will I make a difference?

Yes. You'll be showing support for brands with a more ethical approach and refusing to support animal testing  voting with your wallet, as they say. You'll discover new brands which you might not have come across otherwise. You might start looking beyond beauty products to examine other aspects of ethical living, such as food and fast fashion (although don't let anybody tell you you have to be vegan in order to go cruelty-free. You don't. The perfect consumer does not exist. On the other hand, if going cruelty-free sparks an interest in veganism for you then that's amazing).

There are set-backs (oh hey, NARS) but changes are made, too. The Body Shop never really recovered from the backlash when they were bought by L'Oreal, one of the most notoriously animal-unfriendly brands out there, and have since been bought by cruelty-free company Natura. More consumers will shop there now, which means more money for the business, which means other companies will sit up and take notice. There's always hope.

Have you ever considered going cruelty-free? If you've already made the switch, what was the transition like for you? Do you have any tips? Let me know in the comments! And please let me know if there are any topics you'd like me to cover in this series. I'm all ears.

Further reading:


I love products that have multiple uses.

You get more value for your money, plus it frees up storage space. I also find that multi-purpose products  the good ones, anyway  tend to be carefully considered when it comes to their ingredients and formulas. They've got to do more than one thing, so they'd better do it all properly. 

I've constantly been on the lookout for independent, cruelty-free brands this year, so I couldn't resist trying a couple of products when I came across Lyonsleaf's small but thoughtfully formed range on LoveLula.

Lyonsleaf Skincare

Lyonsleaf products are made on a small farm in Somerset using homegrown ingredients. Everything is designed to suit all skin types and be as multipurpose as possible. This is so customers can cut down on the amount of products they have in their bathrooms, something that appeals to the wannabe minimalist in me. Lyonsleaf also don't add water to their products, which means they don't need to include preservatives in the ingredients.

I chose to try the Calendula Cream* (v) and the Beauty Balm* (v).

Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream


Lyonsleaf 100% Natural Calendula Cream* (v), £8.99 for 30ml

An anti-inflammatory which is said to encourage healing, the calendula cream can be used by adults and children over three on eczema, psoriasis, insect bites, allergic reactions, new tattoos, and spots. Well, obviously the children won't be using it on tattoos, but you get the point. You rub the cream between your fingers to melt it and then massage it into your skin until it's fully absorbed.

It didn't work as a spot treatment for me, but it did come to my rescue when I had a two-week cold (which was as delightful an experience as you can imagine). The skin on my nose was red, flaky and sore, and very much in need of some comfort  exactly what the calendula cream offered.

The cream is an emollient, so it softens the skin, and it also acts as a barrier to keep out any nasties. I've used it an a barrier when my hay fever strikes and it works quite well, although it does make the skin look a little shiny and greasy. I tend to only do it when I'm at home and pottering around in the garden.

Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm


Lyonsleaf 100% Natural Beauty Balm* (v), £12.95 for 55ml

For years I've sung the praises of Lush's Ultrabland cleanser and I've always felt a little bit guilty for not being able to recommend a vegan alternative. Luckily, it's Lyonsleaf to the rescue  their Beauty Balm is the bomb.

Made from 100% natural plant oils, including macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil, this is a thick balm that melts down into a silky oil on contact with skin, removing dirt and make-up (including the most steadfast liquid eyeliner). I like to spend some time massaging it in, then I remove it with a flannel and some water. As with most balm cleansers you only need a little bit for it to go a long way, so I can see this pot lasting me a long time.

Or maybe not. Because not only can Beauty Balm be used as a cleanser, it's also a soothing moisturiser for the driest skin. I use it sparingly on my elbows, knees, feet, and my hands, which get flaky patches even during the summer. It takes time to sink in so I find it's best to do this before bed so you don't have to worry about it.

I can see myself buying the Calendula Cream and the Beauty Balm over and over again. Both products are cruelty-free, vegan, and handy to have at your disposal, considering the number of things they do. I'm more than happy to support another independent, ethical British brand.

Have you ever tried anything from Lyonsleaf? What are your favourite multi-purpose products? Let me know in the comments!

Product was sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own. Please note, Calendula Cream cannot be used on broken skin and Beauty Balm is not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.

Treating Stressed Out Skin with Lyonsleaf

I love products that have multiple uses.

You get more value for your money, plus it frees up storage space. I also find that multi-purpose products  the good ones, anyway  tend to be carefully considered when it comes to their ingredients and formulas. They've got to do more than one thing, so they'd better do it all properly. 

I've constantly been on the lookout for independent, cruelty-free brands this year, so I couldn't resist trying a couple of products when I came across Lyonsleaf's small but thoughtfully formed range on LoveLula.

Lyonsleaf Skincare

Lyonsleaf products are made on a small farm in Somerset using homegrown ingredients. Everything is designed to suit all skin types and be as multipurpose as possible. This is so customers can cut down on the amount of products they have in their bathrooms, something that appeals to the wannabe minimalist in me. Lyonsleaf also don't add water to their products, which means they don't need to include preservatives in the ingredients.

I chose to try the Calendula Cream* (v) and the Beauty Balm* (v).

Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream


Lyonsleaf 100% Natural Calendula Cream* (v), £8.99 for 30ml

An anti-inflammatory which is said to encourage healing, the calendula cream can be used by adults and children over three on eczema, psoriasis, insect bites, allergic reactions, new tattoos, and spots. Well, obviously the children won't be using it on tattoos, but you get the point. You rub the cream between your fingers to melt it and then massage it into your skin until it's fully absorbed.

It didn't work as a spot treatment for me, but it did come to my rescue when I had a two-week cold (which was as delightful an experience as you can imagine). The skin on my nose was red, flaky and sore, and very much in need of some comfort  exactly what the calendula cream offered.

The cream is an emollient, so it softens the skin, and it also acts as a barrier to keep out any nasties. I've used it an a barrier when my hay fever strikes and it works quite well, although it does make the skin look a little shiny and greasy. I tend to only do it when I'm at home and pottering around in the garden.

Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm


Lyonsleaf 100% Natural Beauty Balm* (v), £12.95 for 55ml

For years I've sung the praises of Lush's Ultrabland cleanser and I've always felt a little bit guilty for not being able to recommend a vegan alternative. Luckily, it's Lyonsleaf to the rescue  their Beauty Balm is the bomb.

Made from 100% natural plant oils, including macadamia nut oil, jojoba oil, and sweet almond oil, this is a thick balm that melts down into a silky oil on contact with skin, removing dirt and make-up (including the most steadfast liquid eyeliner). I like to spend some time massaging it in, then I remove it with a flannel and some water. As with most balm cleansers you only need a little bit for it to go a long way, so I can see this pot lasting me a long time.

Or maybe not. Because not only can Beauty Balm be used as a cleanser, it's also a soothing moisturiser for the driest skin. I use it sparingly on my elbows, knees, feet, and my hands, which get flaky patches even during the summer. It takes time to sink in so I find it's best to do this before bed so you don't have to worry about it.

I can see myself buying the Calendula Cream and the Beauty Balm over and over again. Both products are cruelty-free, vegan, and handy to have at your disposal, considering the number of things they do. I'm more than happy to support another independent, ethical British brand.

Have you ever tried anything from Lyonsleaf? What are your favourite multi-purpose products? Let me know in the comments!

Product was sent to me by LoveLula for consideration of review. As always, all words and opinions are my own. Please note, Calendula Cream cannot be used on broken skin and Beauty Balm is not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
Welcome to the latest installment of Eco-Friendly Beauty! I've been trying my best to cut down on the amount of waste in my everyday life, so I've started with beauty products.

This year I've become quite the fan of toners and chemical exfoliators, which I normally apply with a cotton pad or cotton wool balls. However, these always end up in the bin and if I remember to use a toner daily then that's two cotton pads per day, and fourteen a week, all going to landfill. Finding out that there was an alternative was a relief.

The alternative in question is Honour Your Flow's Washable Make-Up Wipes. I bought the 12-pack, which comes in a wash bag. Not only does having a wash bag mean there's no plastic packaging but it also ensures you have somewhere to store the pads, plus when you wash them in the machine you can keep them all together. (More on that later!)

Honour Your Flow Washable Make-Up Wipes

About Honour Your Flow

Honour Your Flow are a British company who makes washable pantyliners, sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons, breast pads, wash bags, and make-up wipes.

They take as ethical an approach as possible, including when it comes to their staff. A small team of women work from home to sew all the products, allowing them to plan their working hours around their family commitments. HYF take a Fairtrade approach to the people who grow, harvest, and manufacture the fabric, which is always chosen because it causes as little harm to the planet as possible.

About the Washable Wipes

The wipes are made from scraps of fleece and velour, a material I haven't had much to do with since I owned a black velour tracksuit with diamantes on the pockets at the age of eleven. (What can I say? I was very stylish back then.)

The fleece is soft, while the sensation of wiping velour over your skin takes a little getting used to  I imagine not everyone would like it. But if it doesn't bother you, then it's no different to using a cotton pad.

Honour Your Flow Washable Make-Up Wipes

Using the Washable Wipes

The main way I use the wipes is in place of cotton pads when I apply a toner with no spray nozzle or a chemical exfoliant like Pixi Glow Tonic. Sometimes I sweep them gently over my eyes with some micellar water if I've worn particularly heavy eye make-up. They do a better job than cotton pads for three reasons: because they do just as good a job at removing residue, because they're more gentle on sensitive areas like the eyes and patches of acne, and because I don't have to throw them away afterwards.

I've also tried using the wipes when removing cleanser but I prefer a flannel for this because it covers more surface area. I find that the wipes, while great with products that have a fairly thin consistency, don't work so well with balm cleansers like Lush's Ultrabland and Lyonsleaf's Beauty Balm.

Looking After Them

The wipes are easy to care for  you simply pop any used ones in the cloth bag provided and then when they're all in there you stick them in the wash with your clothes. (Be sure not to use fabric softener.)

The leaflet that came with the wipes said they sometimes get loose threads because of the way they're made; snip them instead of pulling them and all will be well. This hasn't happened to me yet, though, and I've had them for over four months now.

A Summary

Cost: £7.50 for 12 wipes and a wash bag to store them in.
Wash them: At up to 60 degrees. I wash them at 30 degrees and they're good as new afterwards.
Next step for me: Honour Your Flow pads.

Have you ever used reusable make-up wipes before? Are they something you'd consider adding to your skincare routine? Let me know in the comments!

Eco-Friendly Beauty: Washable Make-Up Wipes

Welcome to the latest installment of Eco-Friendly Beauty! I've been trying my best to cut down on the amount of waste in my everyday life, so I've started with beauty products.

This year I've become quite the fan of toners and chemical exfoliators, which I normally apply with a cotton pad or cotton wool balls. However, these always end up in the bin and if I remember to use a toner daily then that's two cotton pads per day, and fourteen a week, all going to landfill. Finding out that there was an alternative was a relief.

The alternative in question is Honour Your Flow's Washable Make-Up Wipes. I bought the 12-pack, which comes in a wash bag. Not only does having a wash bag mean there's no plastic packaging but it also ensures you have somewhere to store the pads, plus when you wash them in the machine you can keep them all together. (More on that later!)

Honour Your Flow Washable Make-Up Wipes

About Honour Your Flow

Honour Your Flow are a British company who makes washable pantyliners, sanitary pads, menstrual cups, tampons, breast pads, wash bags, and make-up wipes.

They take as ethical an approach as possible, including when it comes to their staff. A small team of women work from home to sew all the products, allowing them to plan their working hours around their family commitments. HYF take a Fairtrade approach to the people who grow, harvest, and manufacture the fabric, which is always chosen because it causes as little harm to the planet as possible.

About the Washable Wipes

The wipes are made from scraps of fleece and velour, a material I haven't had much to do with since I owned a black velour tracksuit with diamantes on the pockets at the age of eleven. (What can I say? I was very stylish back then.)

The fleece is soft, while the sensation of wiping velour over your skin takes a little getting used to  I imagine not everyone would like it. But if it doesn't bother you, then it's no different to using a cotton pad.

Honour Your Flow Washable Make-Up Wipes

Using the Washable Wipes

The main way I use the wipes is in place of cotton pads when I apply a toner with no spray nozzle or a chemical exfoliant like Pixi Glow Tonic. Sometimes I sweep them gently over my eyes with some micellar water if I've worn particularly heavy eye make-up. They do a better job than cotton pads for three reasons: because they do just as good a job at removing residue, because they're more gentle on sensitive areas like the eyes and patches of acne, and because I don't have to throw them away afterwards.

I've also tried using the wipes when removing cleanser but I prefer a flannel for this because it covers more surface area. I find that the wipes, while great with products that have a fairly thin consistency, don't work so well with balm cleansers like Lush's Ultrabland and Lyonsleaf's Beauty Balm.

Looking After Them

The wipes are easy to care for  you simply pop any used ones in the cloth bag provided and then when they're all in there you stick them in the wash with your clothes. (Be sure not to use fabric softener.)

The leaflet that came with the wipes said they sometimes get loose threads because of the way they're made; snip them instead of pulling them and all will be well. This hasn't happened to me yet, though, and I've had them for over four months now.

A Summary

Cost: £7.50 for 12 wipes and a wash bag to store them in.
Wash them: At up to 60 degrees. I wash them at 30 degrees and they're good as new afterwards.
Next step for me: Honour Your Flow pads.

Have you ever used reusable make-up wipes before? Are they something you'd consider adding to your skincare routine? Let me know in the comments!

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Beth, 23, South East England. I'm a writer with a love of books, lipstick, and the Oxford comma. I love beauty and I also love animals, so I only buy, use, and feature products from cruelty-free brands. (Seriously though, I am the person who stops to fuss over every dog she sees.) You can also expect posts about vegan/vegetarian food, and plenty of musings about life as a 20-something. Want to get in touch? Email me at beth.toasty@gmail.com

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