5 Favourite Cruelty-Free Lip Balms

Monday, 22 May 2017

No bag, desk, or bedside table is complete without lip balm.

I'm trying my best to only buy products I really need, but I've had a stash of lip balms for as long as I can remember and I know I'm not the only one. They're addictive (and essential!)

Today I'm sharing five of my favourite cruelty-free lip balms. Not only are all these balms not tested on animals but each brand goes beyond that, be it because of their sustainability, natural ingredients, or vegan credentials.

Oh, and all of them will leave you with change leftover from a fiver. Bargain.

5 Favourite Cruelty-Free Lip Balms

Vegetarian Week, Part 3 | 7 Tips for New and Potential Vegetarians

Sunday, 21 May 2017

I'm rounding off my National Vegetarian Week mini-series with an advice post. (Click the links to read Part 1 and Part 2.) It was reading blogs and speaking to other cruelty-free bloggers that made me feel like I could transition from a flexitarian diet to a pescatarian one, and then a pescatarian diet to a vegetarian one, so I'd really love to add my voice to the conversation and share what I've learned since I stopped eating meat and fish.

I've only been vegetarian since the start of 2017 so I'm still figuring things out, and the tips here are a summary of everything I've learned so far. Whatever stage you're at, the good news is that it's impossible to be perfect when it comes to ethical living; knowing this takes the pressure off enormously. There's a lot to be said for doing what you can.

Banana Pancakes

Vegetarian Week, Part 2 | I Finally Watched Cowspiracy

Thursday, 18 May 2017

It's the documentary everyone seemed to mention when they talked about veganism and vegetarianism.

And for ages I kept saying I'd watch it, but then I'd put it off. I don't know why. Maybe because everyone I know who had seen it kept saying what an eye-opener it was, and I wasn't ready to face whatever it unearthed (no pun intended)? I'm still not sure.

Anyway, I finally decided to sit down and watch Cowspiracy. It was definitely the eye-opener everyone described, but in a different way to what I was expecting...


Vegetarian Week, Part 1 | Q&A

Monday, 15 May 2017

Happy National Vegetarian Week! And welcome to the mini-series I'm writing in honour of the occasion.

National Vegetarian Week was started by the Vegetarian Society and the idea is that everyone who signs up to the newsletter  veggie or not  eats nothing but vegetarian food for a week. It's a way for potential vegetarians to get an idea of what a vegetarian lifestyle might be like, with plenty of recipes and tips provided along the way.

(This post is not sponsored btw; I just really like the idea. In one of my recent posts someone commented that there needs to be more of an open dialogue between meat-eaters and non-meat-eaters, and I think National Vegetarian Week is a good way of starting that.)

I did an FAQ about going vegetarian earlier this year, but I thought it'd be fun to see if any of my family or friends had different questions now they're a bit more used to my eating habits. (Shoutout to my pal Alex, who was especially curious and without whom this post would not have been written on time. Ta bbz.)

National Vegetarian Week

How I Look After My Skin Now My Adult Acne Has Cleared

Sunday, 14 May 2017

One thing I think we can all agree on is this: adult acne sucks.

I've been dealing with it, on and off, since I was 20 and it's taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what does and doesn't work.

It can be difficult to pinpoint what makes you break out but my skin seems to be responding well to the changes and products below, which is a relief after years of wishing the bumps on my forehead and chin would Just. Bugger. Off.

Last time I wrote a post about adult acne my skin was in a better state than it had been for a while, but it was still recovering. Since then, I've started using more natural beauty products, stopped eating meat and fish, and switched prescription creams. (I now use one called Acnecide, which sounds a bit like the name of a superhero.) I also took a course of antibiotics, which worked wonders.

Now my skin finally seems to be stable  it's normally pretty clear, aside from the odd pigmentation scar  so I thought I'd share an updated skincare routine with you. These products aren't a miracle cure, but they've helped me maintain a clear complexion and that's all I ask for.

Cruelty-Free Morning Skincare Routine

Becoming Less Wasteful

Thursday, 11 May 2017

I've been reading a lot about eco-friendly living recently.

Green beauty, ethical fashion, creating less waste in everyday life... it can all seem a bit overwhelming and difficult to know where to start. One thing I know for sure is that I'd like to be less wasteful. 

Fortunately, this seems to tie into a minimalist, cruelty-free, vegetarian lifestyle. Minimalism is about making sure everything in your life has purpose and value, which makes you less wasteful because you consider any purchases carefully.

Being cruelty-free and vegetarian means I'm aware of how my consumerism affects animals in particular, but now I'm starting to think more about the environment and the earth  what can I do to reduce my impact?

(The Vegetarian Society have a really interesting leaflet about going vegetarian or vegan for environmental reasons  you can order it here.)

The Valleys

First Impressions: Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation Samples

Monday, 8 May 2017

I love it when brands offer samples of base products.

You can't really win when you have pale skin, you see. The lightest high street shades aren't normally light enough (although this is slowly changing!) while high end foundations come in so many different shades and undertones that it's difficult to know where to start.

This is not a bad thing, by any means  it's about time women of all skintones and ethnicities have access to make-up that matches their complexion, if they choose to wear it. (If it's difficult for me, a white woman, to find base products then I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for a person of colour.)

But online swatches can be misleading, and I don't want to spend good money on a foundation I'll never wear. So when I found out Illamasqua offers you the chance to add free foundation samples to your order, I was pleasantly surprised, and added three sachets to my basket.

Here's what I tried out:

Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation samples

Can Kiss The Moon Products Help You Sleep Better?

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Sleeping is one of my favourite things to do.

I'm not someone who can function on four hours of sleep, or have a late night and still get everything done the next day. Anything less than seven hours (I prefer 8) and I end up in a foul mood, flip-flopping between being irritable and wanting to cry.

(What with this and my need to eat at regular intervals, you could be forgiven for thinking I was a toddler in an adult's body. I have a lot in common with my second cousin Arthur, who is three.)

Basically, I take my sleep seriously. So when I came across beauty and wellness brand Kiss The Moon on LoveLula, it seemed like the perfect time to try making my bedtime routine even better.

I tried out three products, with incredibly mixed results...

Kiss The Moon

My First Vegan Cooking Class

Monday, 1 May 2017

My first vegan cooking class... and my first-ever cooking class at all.

I've loved cooking and baking since I was little but I've always done it in the kitchen at home (and the odd Food Tech lesson at school  I still use the chow mein recipe they taught us). I'm very introverted and cooking is something I do by myself to unwind, so going to a class with actual people was a step outside my comfort zone, but I'm really happy I went!

Raw Chocolate Tart
Raw chocolate tart, so bloody good.

Cruelty-Free Updates & Blog Posts I Loved | April 2017

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Welcome to my new Cruelty-Free Updates series!

As promised, I'll be doing my best to bring you cruelty-free news at the end of every month. I've been making a note of the stories I've seen so that you can find them in one handy place  feel free to tweet me if you think I've missed something important or you'd like to see a specific topic addressed.

I'll also be sharing the love and linking to my favourite blog posts, because I read a lot of them that make me laugh, or make me nod along in agreement, or make me reevaluate, plus who doesn't love a good read? Enjoy, and feel free to link to your own posts or recommendations in the comments.

Cruelty-Free Updates (April)

Two Cruelty-Free Cleansers Under £10

Thursday, 27 April 2017

I'm a huge fan of double cleansing.

I wear SPF every single day and make-up more often than not, so I like my skin to feel clean  but not stripped  before I go to bed.

And although I'm willing to invest in good skincare when I can, if I can find a high-quality, cruelty-free product at a reasonable price, then I'm sold.

Enter Sukin.

About Sukin

An Australian brand, Sukin was created when its founders spotted a gap in the market for natural, reasonably priced skincare.

Their tagline is 'Skincare that doesn't cost the earth' and it sums up their philosophy perfectly. Everything is carbon neutral, affordable, cruelty-free, vegan, and made from lots of lovely, natural ingredients.

There's also a long list of ingredients Sukin won't use, including parabens, preservatives, sulphates, mineral oils, artificial colours, synthetic fragrances, and propylene glycol.

As you can imagine, I was very excited when the brand got in touch to ask if I'd be interested in testing out two of their cleansers. I chose the Cream Cleanser (for make-up removal) and the Oil Balancing Cleanser (as my second cleanse). I've been using them every day since the beginning of March, so I thought it was time to share whether these products are as good in real life as they are in theory.

Sukin cleansers

I'm Bored of the Vegan/Vegetarian Backlash

Monday, 24 April 2017

I had a really clear vision of how I wanted this post to turn out.

And yet, now I've sat down to write it, I'm finding I can't get my words out just right. But I'm gonna try my best.

You see, there's something that's been getting on my nerves for a while, something I noticed even before I went vegetarian, and that's the attitude many meat-eaters seem to have towards vegetarianism and veganism.

There appears to be an assumption if you've taken steps to cut down on your consumption of animal derived products, or cut them out completely in the case of veganism, then you're pushy and even militant about it.

We all know this stereotype. They're the person who just has to drop their dietary habits into every conversation, who lectures everyone, and generally Won't. Shut. Up.

vegetarian cafe

Cruelty-Free First Impressions

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Being away for much of early 2017 meant coming home to lots of exciting post, including two LoveLula beauty boxes.

The LoveLula beauty box is similar to other beauty boxes you might have heard of, in that you get a selection of products to try out every month, but what makes this one so much better in my eyes is that everything you get is guaranteed to be cruelty-free.

You also get to discover products that aren't normally available on the high street, so it can be a good way to start supporting more independent brands and shop more ethically, something I've become more conscious of recently.

March's box arrived just as I was planning to write this, so I decided to do a bumper cruelty-free first impressions and let you know which products I love  and which products I'd leave behind.

LoveLula products

Some Thoughts About Minimalism

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A few weeks ago I spent a rather lovely, lazy Sunday morning watching documentaries in bed. One of them was Cowspiracy, which I'll be writing about next month. And one of them was Minimalism.


Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things follows Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists, as they go on a tour to promote their book, Everything That Remains.

(The documentary is available on UK Netflix if you fancy it.)

I was aware of the concept of minimalism before I watched the documentary  I'd read a few blog posts about it, notably on The Private Life of a Girl  but seeing real-life play out on a screen threw it all sharply into focus for me.

In a nutshell, minimalism involves simplifying your life so that everything you own has purpose and value. Life becomes less about owning stuff, or searching for happiness by buying more things (something I think we all do  who hasn't had a therapeutic shopping trip?), and more about practicality and experiences. Quality over quantity.

Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips in Kim K-W
Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks may be expensive, but I use them all the time and they're excellent quality, so I don't mind so much.

Mum's First Lush Face Mask

Monday, 17 April 2017

I found five empty Lush pots underneath the bed last month, and we all know what that means.

(A free face mask, just in case Lush isn't really your thing.)

When it comes to Lush's Fresh Face Masks, I have two firm favourites, Catastrophe Cosmetic and Rosy Cheeks, but I have other products I'm using at the moment. So I decided to treat my mum, who rarely has the time or the patience to use extra skincare treatments but enjoys them nonetheless. We headed down to our local Lush and the assistant  who was lovely  asked for her preferences before trying out all the samples.

Now, my mum hates almonds and bananas, so which mask did she choose?

Oatifix. In which two of the main ingredients are almonds and bananas.

Lush Oatifix

15 Scary Things That Make Me Feel Like An Actual Adult

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

23 is a funny age.

I've emerged from the student bubble relatively unscathed, but I'm not quite used to life post-uni yet. (Not having a set routine or a set place to live probably have something to do with that.)

I'm no longer in mourning for my university days, although I do miss my third-year housemates a lot, but the idea of being an adult  a functioning one  has me in two minds.

On the one hand, I can't deny that growing up, having some stability, and being taken more seriously aren't appealing.

On the other hand, I still feel like teenage Beth a lot of the time  really bloody scared of life and all it entails, and utterly bewildered by how quickly the years seem to be passing.

So in order to make myself feel better about all of this, I started writing. And what I ended up with was a list of silly but also kind-of-scary things that make me feel like I might just be a grown-up.

(And I also reminded myself of something my mum says frequently, which is that no one ever fully feels like a grown-up because everyone is winging it. Puts it all into perspective.)

In case you're wondering why this beautiful stretch of coastline is relevant, this is Porthcawl in south Wales and it's one of my favourite places in the entire world. You know when people say you should 'go to your happy place'? Porthcawl is one of mine. It's where I dream of being when adult stresses get too much.

My Favourite Vegetarian Cafe

Monday, 10 April 2017

A good vegetarian cafe is a gem, so I was more than a little bit excited when I found one in Kent.

The Wallflower Cafe is vegan and vegetarian friendly, with everything on the menu 100% plant-based. (They also cater for coeliacs.) There's something for everyone  I've taken non-veggie friends there to eat and they always come away feeling slightly amazed that meat-free food could be that good, despite me insisting that there are plenty of options out there.

Sweet potato and avocado wrap

Brightening Skincare from PHB Ethical Beauty

Sunday, 9 April 2017

I'll admit it  I'm slightly obsessed with PHB Ethical Beauty.

Their products are cruelty-free, palm oil-free, vegan, and Halal, plus 15% of their profits go to charity. They make practically every beauty product you can think of, from mascara to body scrubs to candles, and their prices are reasonable too, starting at £3.95 for a bar of soap. (And their soaps last forever.)

Basically, they're an excellent starting point if you'd like to branch out from the high street and try an independent cruelty-free brand.

Today I'm going to be looking at two products that are designed to brighten your skin and even it out, to see if they live up to the claims. Let's get started.

Brightening Skincare from PHB Ethical Beauty

What's In My Bag? ft. Matt & Nat

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

I've reached a point where I feel pretty comfortable with my eating habits and life as a vegetarian, so it was only a matter of time before I turned my attention to another cause.

And it seems that doing research about where my food comes from has led me to reflect on where my possessions come from, too. Specifically, I've been wondering whether the clothes and accessories I normally buy are made in an ethical way.

Sadly, I suspect the answer most of the time is no.

This needs to change, but it's not that simple. Having looked on the websites of several ethical fashion providers, I've found that I simply can't afford to spend that much money and I'm definitely not the only one. But then again, I'd rather buy less, save up, and put my money towards a brand whose ethics I believe in.

In the meantime, I reverted to the old I'll put it on my wishlist move, and I was very lucky to unwrap a saddle bag from Matt & Nat on my birthday last month. So in honour of this rather beautiful creature, today's post is my first-ever What's In My Bag?

What's In My Bag

5 Favourite Vegetarian Recipes from Around the Web

Monday, 3 April 2017

The internet is a godsend.

Whenever I get stuck in a food rut all I have to do is go on Google and there they are  plenty of vegan and vegetarian recipes for me to try.

Sometimes I'll try a recipe once and never go back to it. I had a disaster with a meat-free alfredo pasta and some cashews the other day which I'm still really disgruntled about; I had such high hopes.

Other recipes become a staple part of my diet, like the ones listed here. Generally I like wholesome, natural foods with lots of complementary flavours, although I can never normally resist an enormous bowl of mac 'n' cheese (my biggest weakness in this world, aside from petting strangers' dogs).

Today I'm sharing five of the best vegetarian recipes I've found and why I love them so much. Enjoy, and please feel free to leave links to your own favourites in the comments!

First Impressions: The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Range

Sunday, 2 April 2017

It's been a very long time since I bought anything from The Body Shop.

But the Almond Milk & Honey range caught my eye. Made especially for dry, sensitive skin, it's designed to relieve dryness, dehydration, and irritation, which sounds perfect for me right now. The skin on my body has been reacting to everything recently  it almost feels prickly at times  so anything that makes it feel comfortable is more than okay with me!

The almond milk in question is organic and sourced from Spain, while the Community Trade honey is from Ethiopia and has antibacterial properties.

I picked up a Cleansing Bar, £4, and a mini Shower Cream, £2.

The Body Shop Almond Milk & Honey Cleansing Bar

Blog Posts I Loved | March 2017

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

This post was supposed to be longer originally.

I wanted it to be a whole list of updates and stories and lists and I had notes written here and there, but then on Monday  the day I was going to put everything together  I nearly fainted by the bras in Marks and Spencer (thankfully my mum managed to half-drag me to the baby changing facilities before I collapsed on the floor). I spent Monday and Tuesday in A&E seeing various medical teams to try and figure out what was wrong.

Long story short, everything is okay and normal and good (and the NHS staff are all amazing!), but it meant I didn't get things done the way I planned to. And now I've had time to think about it, I want to change what I was planning anyway  hopefully you'll be getting a revised, more in-depth updates post at the end of next month instead!

Lunch at Skinny Kitchen

Monday, 27 March 2017

Despite walking past it many times, it never occurred to me to visit Skinny Kitchen.

For a start, the name really put me off. The word 'skinny' when associated with food just has too many negative connotations  diets; those tasteless, reduced-fat versions of food that are laden with sugar to make up for the loss of flavour; and pressure to fit a certain body type, which is unrealistic for many.

(Obviously there is nothing wrong with having a thin frame. But I don't like it when it's suggested that you should look a certain way or be a particular shape or size. There should be a place for everyone.)

As it turns out, Skinny Kitchen's focus is foods that complement your fitness routine and suit your lifestyle. Their ingredients are natural and locally sourced, and they are very accommodating towards vegetarians and vegans, with notes dotted throughout the menu telling you how a meal can be made vegan.

I went to Skinny Kitchen one lunchtime for a good old catch-up with my friend Steph, who'd eaten there before and fallen in love with the pancakes. Well, I'm not going to say no to pancakes...

Skinny Kitchen Taco Bowl

Can a Powder Primer Help Oily Skin?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

I've fallen in love with PHB Ethical Beauty over the past six months or so.

Their products are good quality and their ethics are sound  everything they make is cruelty-free, halal, and vegan, plus 20% of their profits go to charity.

I've tried several of their toiletries now  highlights being the soap and the body scrub  and I've also been using a couple of skincare products (review coming soon!)

But I hadn't really looked into their make-up offerings until recently, when I started using their Pressed Mineral Primer* (v).

It was the first time I'd ever come across a primer in powder form, so I was very interested in testing it out. Would it work? Would it calm down my permanently shiny forehead? Let's find out.

PHB Ethical Beauty Pressed Mineral Primer

13 Facts I Learnt From the Vegetarian Society

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The main reason I started browsing the Vegetarian Society website was to make my mum feel better.

She was very concerned about my protein intake when I stopped eating meat and fish, so I thought some advice would put her mind at ease (and also help me. More research never hurts, right?)

It was the cruelty-free community and their stories/fact-sharing that led me to go vegetarian, so I hadn't really looked at what the Vegetarian Society had to offer. This was a mistake, because they have a whole range of free leaflets they can send to you about the environment, your, health, your diet, and animal welfare (or lack of it).

I found them really useful and informative (you can get them here!) so I thought I'd do a round-up of some of the facts I learnt. 

A few parts of this post might be upsetting for some  no one likes thinking about abattoirs  but I think it's important to talk about the reality of the meat industry, especially now vegetarian life is a key topic here on Toasty.

Vegetarian Society Leaflets

Cruelty-Free Make-Up for Spring

Monday, 20 March 2017

It's finally spring!

Well, I'm writing this while looking at the dull, grey sky outside my bedroom window, but technically it's finally spring and that makes me happy.

I've always liked spring as a season. The air feels fresher, you get those odd bursts of sunshine, and everyone seems to perk up a bit. I always seem to gravitate towards slightly lighter make-up, too  a little less eyeliner, paler shades of pink on the lips.

(Although on days like today, when the clouds are getting darker and darker every second, I might still be drawn to my favourite berry lipstick.) 

Today I thought I'd share the products I've been using regularly now the weather is brightening up a bit. As always, everything is cruelty-free and I've noted which products are vegan where possible  just look for the (v).

NARS Orgasm Blush

I Tried Making Energy Balls...

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

... and I failed. Miserably.

Well, miserably if you consider it absolutely essential that they be perfectly round. They are energy lumps, which sounds like a bizarre, Black Eyed Peas-esque euphemism for breasts.

But all is not lost  whatever you want to call them, these snacks taste pretty good, so I may as well tell you how I made them.

I used the Almond Butter Oat Balls recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. My failure, I think, is entirely down to me being too enthusiastic with the microwave when I softened the almond butter and coconut oil, rather than the fault lying with the recipe itself.

I wouldn't say the oat balls/bites (bites? I'm going to call them bites; it sounds nicer than 'lumps') were a particularly healthy snack  they're more like a (delicious) vegan alternative to chocolate or cake. They're tasty, moreish, and there for you when you need them.

Almond Butter Oat Bites

The Ultimate Cruelty-Free Manicure Session with Zoya

Monday, 13 March 2017

I'm a bit all or nothing when it comes to nails.

Either they're completely bare or I've taken the time to do multi-step manicure  there is no in between.

And I'll admit, most of the time my nails have nothing on them, because I just don't have the time to paint them properly. I don't really see the point in making the effort when the polish will be chipped in a few days.

So when Love Lula gave me the opportunity to try Zoya's Mini Colour Lock System*, I was curious. It claims to make your manicure last for fourteen whole days  quite the promise!

Zoya Mini Colour Lock System

17 Things From My First Solo Trip Abroad

Sunday, 12 March 2017

At the end of January I flew out to Dubai.

I'd been invited there to see if me working in the city could be an option and, well, I wasn't going to say no to that!

It was a trip I wanted to make without putting pressure on myself to write about it, which is why I've only alluded to it on the blog, but now I'm back I quite fancy doing a round-up of sorts, if only to let myself process everything properly.

I've spent the past six weeks going from pinching myself to panicking ('What on earth am I doing?!') because this is not the safe option. Working abroad is something I've been quietly thinking about since my second year of uni and now there's a chance it could actually happen. And that means uprooting myself.

Will I go back? It's too soon to say. So in the meantime, here's a list of all the weird, wonderful, and random things I discovered during my time in Dubai. Enjoy!

Burj Khalifa View

A Natural Treatment for Fine Hair + Alchemy Oils Discount Code

Monday, 6 March 2017

My hair can be a mess.

Dry ends, oily roots, itchy scalp  it's all going on up here.

I also have very fine hair which doesn't react particularly well to heavy, moisturising treatments, so I can be quite hesitant when trying new products, particularly on the roots.

But when Alchemy got in touch to ask if I was interested in trying their Grapefruit Hair Remedy(v), I was curious, because it's made for fine hair just like mine.

Alchemy specialise in hair oils, with three available to choose from (including a peppermint one for beards!) Their products are free from parabens, PEGS, phthalates, sulphates, silicones, mineral oil, glycols, DEA and TEA.

Not only are they cruelty-free, but they're also registered with the Vegan Society and certified by PETA.

Alchemy Oils Grapefruit Hair Remedy

NYX Double Stacked Mascara — Do Lash Fibres Make a Difference?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

I'm incredibly fickle when it comes to mascaras.

There are a couple I'll repurchase from time to time, but generally it doesn't take much for me to be swept away by the promises of a new product. I want those doe-eyed lashes, damn it, and I'll pay for them.

(But not too much, because mascaras never really last past the three-month mark, do they?)

This is how I ended up dropping NYX Double Stacked Fibre Mascara into my basket at Boots. Double Stacked includes one tube of a dual-use base/top coat and one tube of lash fibres. Base coat + lash fibres + top coat must equal falsie-esque lashes, surely?

Let's find out.

NYX Double Stacked Mascara

Running Out of Fucks to Give

Sunday, 26 February 2017

I love me some non-fiction  in fact, it's all I seem to read at the moment  but I have mixed feelings when it comes to self-help books. There's something about them that just seems a bit, well... wanky and pretentious.

I flew by myself for the first time at the start of 2017 and since I get quite nervous on planes, I downloaded a lot of new books on my Kindle to serve as a distraction. One of them was the much-raved-about The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight. It's been all over the blogosphere over the last few months and I can see why.

It's sweary, it's straight to the point; it's my kind of self-help book.

While it would be a massive cliche (and also a lie) if I said that it had changed my life completely, it's definitely helped me to put things into perspective and figure out what's important right now.

The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck

A Vegan Lip Kit from Fairypants

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

We've reached the next stage in my quest to find and try more independent cruelty-free brands, and today it's the turn of vegan beauty brand Fairypants to go under the metaphorical microscope.

Fairypants started back in 2009, selling handmade products at Chester Market. Increasing demand from family and friends caused the business to grow and they now sell cruelty-free cosmetics, skincare, and perfume with snazzy retro packaging.

Absolutely everything in their range is vegan  how wonderful is that?

There are so many different products and shades to choose from that I wasn't sure where to start (I kinda wanted everything!) but in the end I bought myself a lip balm, a lip paint, and a lip brush; a vegan lip kit, if you will. Lets take a look.

Fairypants Vegan Lip Kit

Illamasqua's Anti-Fascism Pledge

Monday, 20 February 2017

Normally I save anything political for Twitter, but on Friday a newsletter appeared in my inbox and it was too important not to talk about in more depth.

In a nutshell: High-end make-up brand Illamasqua have made an anti-fascism pledge and shared it via email and on their website. It outright states that they do not support Trump and his values and they do not wish for his supporters to buy their products.

Illamasqua Pledge

Intense Cruelty-Free Treatments for Your Hands

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Every winter, without fail, my hands get chapped, cracked, and sore.

So every winter I rummage through my stash of hand creams and slather them on in an attempt to stop this assault on my skin in its tracks.

Some people hoard foundations; I hoard hand creams.

I'm in Asia at the moment, so the temperatures here aren't exactly freezing, but I've used everything in this post in the run-up to Christmas and right up until I flew out here at the end of January, so I know all too well how these products fare when it's bloody freezing outside.

Last year's selection was a good one, but this year I think I might have gone one better with my weapons of choice. Let's take a look.

FAQ — Going Vegetarian

Monday, 13 February 2017


That's the question a lot of the people I know asked me when they found out I was going vegetarian.

And I get it, I really do  I come from quite a meat, vegetables, potatoes kind of family  but sometimes they say it with a sort of... incredulity, or faint horror.

(My aunt actually went 'No!', all shocked. I cracked up; you'd have thought I'd announced I was pregnant or something.)

So I thought this post would be a good opportunity to share some of the questions I've been asked since I turned pescatarian (five months ago) and subsequently vegetarian (at the start of 2017) and clear up any queries and misconceptions people have about what it's like to adopt a vegetarian diet.

These are just my experiences but I hope this post is useful, whether you're thinking of going vegetarian, a vegetarian in need of some solidarity, or simply curious.

This is an old picture of a breakfast I made last summer, because where I'm living in Asia at the moment the avocados cost the equivalent of £7.40. EachIs it bad that the lack of avocados here would genuinely put me off emigrating?

Bathtime Treats from Bloomtown Botanicals

Monday, 6 February 2017

When I decided to branch out and try some new cruelty-free brands this year, Bloomtown Botanicals were at the top of the list.

Bloomtown Botanicals was born after its founders (Preyanka Clark Prakash and Medwin Culmer) moved to Bali and saw the destruction palm oil cultivation can cause. They stopped using products that contained palm oil and eventually began to create their own. 10% of their profits go to environmental and animal rescue charities, which I think is wonderful!

I'd read some positive reviews and when I looked at their website I was taken in by the array of products they make. All the products are available in Bloomtown Botanicals' signature scents, such as:

  • The Grove (blood orange and pink grapefruit)
  • The Hedgerow (blackberry and honeysuckle)
  • The Meadow (lavender and rose geranium)
  • The Spring (blue clay and indigo leaf)
  • The Woods (vetiver, cedar and bergamot)

I chose The Hedgerow because the smell of blackberries makes me feel all nostalgic  we used to go blackberry picking with my grandparents when I was a kid and then bake pies. (Which were delicious. It's been a long time since I've had homemade blackberry pie.)

Bloomtown Botanicals

Natural Alternatives to High End Brands

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

It can be hard to find high end brands and products that are also cruelty-free. Companies will hit you with the old 'We are against animal testing' mantra, but look a bit closer and you'll soon find that they 'do not test on animals, except where required by law'.

So you do test on animals then?

There are a couple of high end brands I love, like NARS and Urban Decay, but while they themselves are cruelty-free, their parents companies aren't. I'm happy to buy from them, in order to show demand, but others feel uncomfortable doing so. Both approaches are okay, I believe  you've gotta do what's best for you and what you think is right.

But all of this has got me thinking that it might be time to look beyond the beauty counters, so I started hunting down some natural high end alternatives. LoveLula were very kind and sent me some make-up to try, so I'll be sharing my thoughts with you today.

RMS Un-Cover Up

January: The Month of Fresh Starts

Monday, 30 January 2017

The New Year rang in quietly. I sat in my pyjamas and listened to Big Ben strike twelve, watched the fireworks go off, hugged my mum and then went to bed.

(Two years ago that would have horrified me but I'm not embarrassed about my lack of enthusiasm for parties anymore. I'm an introvert, and I like it.)

At the start of 2016 I had a vague idea of what I might be doing by the end of the year. I wanted to have graduated and be living and working in London. I graduated, I worked in London, I decided I didn't want to move there, and I paused. So this time, at the start of 2017, I had no idea how things were going to go. There's no academic year to base my life around now.

Then the opportunity to go abroad came up. And after messaging and emailing back and forth, and a slight setback involving a cat or six, I finally got the go-ahead. As this post goes out I'll be in the first few days of my time away and I can't wait!

2017 Diary

All-Day Veggie Breakfast at Kitch

Sunday, 29 January 2017

I came across Kitch by pure accident.

Mumma and I needed to find somewhere to go for lunch  somewhere with a decent selection of vegetarian food. Kitch popped up on a Google search, so I clicked on the menu and we were sold by the all-day breakfast (we love a good breakfast). Luckily we weren't disappointed.


Finding a new local foodie spot always excites me, more so when their approach to food is in line with mine. Kitch focus on natural, unprocessed foods that are free from additives like refined sugars and they have tonnes of vegetarian options, most of which can easily be made vegan. Everything is cooked fresh to order, too.

Beauty On a Bad Day

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beauty definitely plays a role in my bad days.

It goes one of two ways  either I can't be bothered with make-up at all, or I want a full-on face of it. There is no in-between.

Fortunately I have options for both those scenarios, so I thought I'd share them with you today.

Beauty On a Bad Day (Make-Up)

Going Back to Your University Town

Monday, 23 January 2017

I always knew I'd never be able to stay away from Wales for long.

Cardiff is one of my favourite places in the UK and many of my friends are still there, including two of my housemates from third year. When they invited me to go and visit them for a couple of days there was no way I was gonna refuse; they're like brothers to me.

But going back is strange.

Things have changed so much for me since I left university, but everything there was the same. Well, all the freshers looked incredibly young and there was a new Lego wall in my old local where someone had written 'Send nudes', but apart from that...

The Valleys

Recipe: Creamy Green Vegetable Soup

Sunday, 22 January 2017

I love a good bowl of soup at this time of year.

There's just something so cosy about curling up on the sofa to eat soup, especially when you've made it yourself.

This particular recipe is incredibly easy, so it's perfect for lazy days  you just shove everything in the same saucepan, blend it all up, and serve. (I like to have mine with wholemeal toast on the side for dunking.)

The creaminess of the soup comes from the cannellini beans. It feels indulgent but it's actually very healthy, what with all the vegetables, and the beans are a good source of protein.

(In the interests of full disclosure I should add that I took the basic recipe for this soup from the first Deliciously Ella book and then adapted it to suit my tastes and the contents of my fridge. Buying Deliciously Ella was my first proper foray into vegan cooking and I often use the recipes when I'm stuck in a rut.)

Anyway, if you want an easy, healthy, make-ahead lunch that you can microwave in (three) minutes, this is the soup for you.

Creamy Green Vegetable Soup

Testing Spot-Controlling Skincare for Adults

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Acne can be a minefield, especially when you're an adult. (The realisation that acne still happens after puberty is a devastating one.)

A lot of products for spotty skin are aimed at teenagers and are full of horrible things like sulfates and microbeads  ultimately, they do your complexion (and, in the case of microbeads, the environment) more harm than good.

The products in the today's post are different.

They're targeted towards oily/combination skin but don't aim to aggressively strip it of all moisture (thereby making the problem worse). So I put them to the test, to see if they made a difference to my spotty, stressed-out face.  

Spot-Controlling Skincare from LoveLula

Vegan Make-Up Brushes from Spectrum

Monday, 16 January 2017

I'm so late to the party.

I first saw Spectrum on Katie's blog, loved the look of the brushes and the ethics of the brand... and then just never got round to ordering anything. Until the end of last year, that is.

Spectrum make the most gorgeous, mermaid-esque make-up brushes you've ever seen in your life, with brightly coloured handles and bristles.

Ombre is a favourite style of theirs but we're not talking blonde and brunette, oh no  we're talking blue and purple; pale pink and magenta; turquoise and black. Spectrum brushes are fun.

Another feature that makes Spectrum stand out is their ethics. The brand is vegan and cruelty-free, with the bristles on each brush made from synthetic hair.

But are they any good?

Spectrum Vegan Make-Up Brushes

Recent Vegan Eats at Chain Restaurants

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Eating at restaurants when you're a vegetarian can be frustrating.

Eating at restaurants when your diet is vegan? Even more so.

Often there will only be a couple of token veggie options on the menu, and if you want vegan food? Forget it.

Thankfully, times seem to be changing. I've had a couple of really good experiences at chain restaurants recently so in the spirit of Veganuary I thought I'd share them, just in case anyone needs a boost or some ideas.

(I've only just stopped eating fish and I'm concentrating on that, so I'm not doing Veganuary this year, but I do like to order vegan options to show demand for them. And also because I try and consume as little dairy as possible  a lot of veggie options can be on the cheesy side.)

Toby Carvery Vegan Roast
The problem with Toby Carvery is you end up piling everything on your plate.

Grassroots Health Natural Unscented Body Range

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One of my goals for this year, as you might know, is to try more products from independent cruelty-free brands.

It was inspired, in part, by Grassroots Health, who got in touch towards the end of last year to ask me if I was interested in trying out their Natural Body Range* (v). I said yes, a) because the products sounded lovely and b) because the brand's ethics are right up my street.

The Grassroots Health beauty range is:

  • Cruelty-free
  • Vegan
  • Handmade in Scotland
  • Free from SLS, ALS, parabens, and chemicals
  • 100% biodegradable

The collection is currently reduced from £25.50 to £21, or you can buy each product individually.

Grassroots Health Unscented Lotion Bar

When You're Stuck

Monday, 9 January 2017

Right now I'm in bed wrapped up like a burrito and I've temporarily abandoned my Bill Bryson book  The Road to Little Dribbling, in case you were wondering  so I can write. Sorry, Bill. (I'm on the chapter about the Lakes and loving it.)

By right now, I mean right now as I'm writing this on Sunday evening, not right now as in Monday, when the post will go live. I may be unemployed but I have standards; I wrap myself in blanket burrito on the sofa during the day (but only when it's freezing). 

Today's post is the word vomit kind: thoughts and recent worries and the like. Because now the festive season is over and the new year hype has settled down, I'm feeling a bit stuck. Everything is up in the air at the moment  a situation I suspect every recent uni graduate is familiar with  and I don't know what's going to happen next.

Book and Socks

Recipe: Banana Oat Pancakes

Sunday, 8 January 2017

After some thought, a little bit of experimenting, and a lot of shouting at my temperamental phone camera, I can finally bring you my first recipe post.

I am not a food expert or a nutritionist; I'm a vegetarian who really, really loves her food. (Yes, the two things can co-exist.) You won't be getting anything too crazy or revolutionary from me  it's all normal food you can find in your supermarket.

But that's the point. I want to show that vegetarian and vegan meals don't need to be boring or difficult to make. And although I've always loved it, cooking has become a huge part of my life since I left university so I wanted to share that on the blog.

We're starting with breakfast.

Banana oat pancakes have been one of my favourite breakfasts for a while now. I make them at the weekend. I make them when I need a pick-me-up in the morning. (An urgent one, because otherwise it'd be every morning. I don't like starting early.) I made them for my friends when we were in Portugal and I swear they've never said less in their lives.

Because they were too busy eating, I hasten to add, not because the pancakes were terrible.

Bananas and oats go together so well, while the cinnamon adds a little more warmth to contrast with the sweetness of the fruit. Use the ripest bananas you have  this recipe is an excellent way to use up any bananas that are starting to turn black. No food waste and a tasty breakfast? My dad would be so proud.

Banana Oat Pancakes

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Ski Bunny and Surf Betty

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Lipsticks are definitely the beauty product I'm most drawn to.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm terrible at hoarding them. It doesn't matter how many shades I already love; there's always another one that catches my eye and I'll find a way to justify buying it ('The undertone is different, I swear!' Anyone else?)

But on this occasion it wasn't the colour that got my attention first, but the brand.

Lippy Girl Vegocentric Lipstick in Ski Bunny

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