Sunday, 21 December 2014

Cruelty free festive daytime make-up...

I wanted to showcase some of my favourite products and how easy it is to create a wearable, confidence-boosting daytime to evening look that's 100% cruelty free! With Christmas days away and the make-up counters full to bursting with glittery winter shades it's the perfect time to experiment with your make-up. Leaving the lips bare, adding some shimmer to the lids and a pop of blush on the cheeks is a really nice way to create a look that's natural enough for daytime but still a little special for the Christmas period.

Follow these steps to create the same shimmery look...


  • To create this look I started by buffing my Body Shop Extra Virgin Minerals foundation into my skin using a cruelty free duo-fibre brush. Make sure to buff and blend all the way along the jaw line, hair line and down under the chin to avoid any lines. Using the same duo-fibre brush (wipe off any remaining foundation) I stipple some OCC concealer underneath my eyes, along the tops of my cheekbones and along the brow bone. I then use the tips of my fingers to press and blend the concealer in under the eye (the warmth from your fingers creates a much more natural blend than a brush would in this area). 

  • Contouring: everyone's gone contour crazy at the moment. For daytime though, you don't really want to go heavy on the bronzer and highlighter so I find that a sweep (use a tiny amount this stuff is super pigmented) of my contour powder by Sleek just under the cheek bones and up into the temples is all I need to add a bit of shadow and definition to my cheeks during the day. Patting some of the shimmery Sleek highlighter along the tops of my cheekbones, forehead and chin also lifts my make up, adding a nice glow. For a final pop of colour, I buff in some of the pastel pink blusher from my Barry M Natural Eyeshadow Palette.

Perfect Brows
  • Next, using a cotton bud or tissue, I wipe any excess foundation off my brows - as you want the base for any eyebrow products to be your bare skin not a liquid foundation as any pencil will just slide off. I then pencil in my brows where needed, using light brush strokes near the front and harder and more defined along the arch and tail. Once you're happy with the shape, to make your eyebrows appear really sharp and defined you can outline the edges with concealer. You'll want to use an angled concealer brush for this and just paint a very very fine line underneath your brow, following the arch and then using your finger carefully blend down into the lid (never up into the brow, you want the line to be sharp). Finally sweep some clear brow gel through to set and you're done!


  • For all of the shadows used I used my Barry M eye-shadow brush; it's definitely worth buying a brush rather than using the little foam wands that come with the sets. For the lids I started by using shade 2 - white - of the Natural Glow Palette all over the lid to create a nice base. I took this colour right up into the arch of my brow as it also works to highlight that area. Next I used shade 3 of the Natural Glow Palette and simply blended that in along my lower lid into my lash line. Shade 3 is sort of a neutral brownish - I'd call it "mushroomy" - colour that's perfect on it's own for daytime wear. To add some colour, however, I blended in shade 1  of the Starry Eyed Palette (a matte yellow gold, almost an ochre kind of shade) across the whole lid, into the outer corners of my eye and underneath my lower lashes. I think taking any colour below the lower lashes really finishes off any look that you're going for. Then to add a final touch of sparkle, I dusted my brush with shade 4 of the Starry Eyed Palette (a dark shimmery gold) and simply pressed the colour along my lids. It's important simply to lightly press this colour on top of the look you've created so far as opposed to blending because this is a dark shade and would simply cover the other shades you've already applied.
  • To finish and set off the whole look, I applied 2 coats of my Supercurl Curling Mascara in Black.

Ta-Da! All done. An easy to wear daytime look that's a little bit special and best of all: 100% cruelty free.

I've included a list of all the products and shades used below and please don't hesitate to leave a comment below if you have any questions, tips or thoughts :) Thank you!


The Body Shop Extra Virgin Minerals Liquid Foundation in shade 102 Natural Ivory

Sleek Contour and Highlight Palette in shade Light

OCC Skin Concealer in Y1

Barry M Blush in pale pink from the Natural 1 Palette


Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara

The Body Shop Brow Pencil in Brown

Barry M Natural Glow Palette

Barry M Starry Eyed Palette


Burts Bees Lipbalm

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Manic Panic Vampire Red Hair Dye (cruelty free AND vegan)

I've gone red for Christmas! (Admittedly I do this almost every single year without fail- it's just so seasonal!) Anyway, I just had to put up a quick review of this Manic Panic hair dye as it's without a doubt the best dye for achieving vibrant colour that I've ever used and it's 100% cruelty free and vegan to boot! 

What is 'Manic Panic' ?

Manic Panic is a semi-permanent hair colour designed to add vibrant bold colour to bleached hair. However for those of us who aren't naturally blonde or willing to bleach their hair, there are a few of their shades that will still show up gorgeously on dark locks: Vampire Red (My personal favourite), Infra Red, After Midnight, Enchanted Forest, Green Envy, Purple Haze, Hot Hot Pink, Raven and Shocking Blue. Even better is that Manic Panic Hair Colour, unlike harsh chemical dyes (think L'Oreal, Garnier, Nice 'n' Easy) is conditioning and gentle on the hair; fortified with a herbal and protein complex. Meaning it can be left for up to three hours on the hair to achieve intensely bright colours without any damage!

I think the results will do all the talking but here are some points I must mention:

  • I used the 'Amplified' version of Vampire Red which has a stronger formula and lasts 'up to 30% longer'
  • This stuff STAINS. I guess it's a good thing as you know it's going to stick to your hair but it'll also stick to your counters, your sink, your bath, your floor, your face, your scalp, your hands and so on. My advice: just cling film it all. Just cling film everywhere. Or newspapers. And for goodness sake make sure you wear gloves! (That goes for rinsing too)
  • Once I'd applied about a whole tub (my hair is fairly long) to every inch of hair I could see I piled it on top of my head, wrapped it in cling film and left it on for approximately two hours. I'd recommend doing this to prevent any accidental dripping or staining and also it prevents the colour from oxidising so you end up with a more intense red.
  • I also applied heat every now and then using a hair dryer as Manic Panic suggest doing this to achieve a brighter colour.
  • My hair colour has lasted about ten days now and is still as bright as when I first dyed it which in my experience is a pretty good result for red hair dye. (Which is notorious for fading FAST)
  • However, a big downside is that my hair is still 'bleeding' (not actual blood) meaning every time I wash it I have pools of red water at my feet and red stains on my hair towels. (You're going to want a set of old towels you don't mind staining for a couple of weeks after dying your hair)
  • BUT on the plus side, this is definitely the reddest my hair has ever been and I think that's mostly due to the fact that I haven't been dying it with chemical dyes for a long while so it was like dying virgin hair again. I most likely did have henna still left in from September (read Henna review here) however from my experience I would say that Manic Panic and Henna seem to work fine together, I've had no unwanted colour nightmares that you might expect from mixing Henna and chemical store dyes together.
  • One tub of Manic Panic is about £10.00 and I usually buy mine off of Amazon as you can usually get good deals on there!

Overall though, I LOVE this dye, if you're a brunette and looking to go red I couldn't recommend it more highly. It will definitely do the job. It's kind to the animals and kind to your hair, what's not to love! Well, I think I've covered everything there but if you have any questions or thoughts please please feel free to leave a comment below and I'll try and answer as best I can or check out Manic Panic's FAQ. Personally I love this dye ... it may be messy but it achieves such a gorgeous colour that's so worth it!


                       Before                                    After (In sunlight)                            After (Indoors)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

November favourites...


Okay it's not quite Christmas. But hey I'm feeling festive and something tells me these products are going to be key essentials when it comes to party season. Some are old favourites and some are new discoveries but here's the cruelty free goodies I've been absolutely loving this November ...

The Barry M Natural Glow and Limited Edition Starry Eyed Palettes

Ooh my I can't praise these palettes enough. For some reason I've never really experimented with eye-shadow much and I've only just recently started wearing eye-liner again (I'm not sure why I ever stopped!). Anyway, these palettes are simply perfect for beginners and at £6.49 they're such a bargain. I've never been brave enough to splash out £30 + for those glossy Urban Decay palettes when I don't wear eye-shadow a lot and - honestly- wouldn't have a clue where to start. So these palettes by Barry M have been a godsend. They've sparked a new love for eye-shadow in me. Each palette has a mix of shimmery and matte shades in a range of gorgeous colours. From me to you, The Starry Eyed Palette is Limited Edition so grab it whilst you can. To do these palettes full justice I'll be popping up a a full review soon!

The Body Shop Baked-To-Last Bronzer

I've been a fan of this bronzer for years and years now (it was one of my very first reviews on this blog - read here). It's really become such a staple in my make-up bag. Its warm, it's pigmented without being heavy, it has light-reflecting shimmer in it that leaves a lovely sheen and it's a mosaic of colours that leaves you with a warm blush unlike the flat block of orange that you get with some other bronzers. It comes in two shades, 01 a light golden peachy colour and 02 a more deeper golden brown. It's on my November favourites because I've recently swapped back to this after using the Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder for a while, which is more of a one dimensional colour and also more matte, it was lovely however I've gone back to my shimmery bronzer with Christmas coming up!

Soap and Glory Supercat Fat Eyeliner

It's a jumbo carbon black pen eye-liner that has re-sparked my love of cat flicks, wings and everything eye-linery! Having not worn eye-liner since I was fifteen I thought I'd ease my way back in with a pen, as opposed to all the gels and liquids that can go oh so wrong. This little number from Soap and Glory has been a really nice new touch to my going out make-up, it's easy to apply, wears really well and all in all I'm happy to be re-learning the precise art of winged liner.. full review coming soon! (Once I've mastered it!)

Urban Decay 'All Nighter' Make-Up Setting Spray

Another old favourite. After all that time you spend getting ready and putting on your make-up, you feel close to despair when you catch yourself in a mirror at the end of the night and gone is your masterpiece; replaced by some smudged mascara and patchy foundation. I think I might have found this after a desperate Google search: 'ways to set your make-up... FOREVER'. (Slight exaggeration but you get the point). Anyway this stuff is good. Really good. Being a student I couldn't splurge out on the £20 full size bottle but I bought the travel size in order to keep my Halloween make up in place and as usual it worked a treat, and with party season coming up I won't regret the investment. Read a full review here.

Sleek Face Contour Kit

So since swapping back to my shimmery Baked To Last bronzer, I could no longer use my bronzer for contouring (you want any dark shade you use to contour to be really matte, not sparkly). I'd seen this product talked about quite a lot in various places but had never taken the plunge as I was quite happy using my bronzer and light shade of concealer for all my contour and highlighting needs. Anyway, suffice to say that this stuff really does the job. I'm not crazy about the highlighting powder but the dark contour colour is so pigmented and so matte that it works better than any bronzer I've used. I'll pop a full review up soon to show you some swatches and how I use it!

The Body Shop Indian Night Jasmine Eau De Toilette

This is fast becoming my signature scent. It's absolutely heavenly. I can't even describe the smell to you, you'll have to go check it out. The Body Shop have got a fantastic range of perfumes and they're also a lot cheaper (£16) than some of the big designer fragrances on the highstreet (most of whom test on animals - tut tut)! You can buy their fragrances in glass bottled Eau De Toilette form or if you don't want to spend too much, they're all available as body mists too. Yummy!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

REVIEW: The Body Shop Hair Chalk (Pink)

Festival season might be over, but with grey days ahead who really needs an excuse for a splash of colour? A splash of blue or candy pink to be precise, in the form of The Body Shop hair chalks. I have been dying to try these out ever since they appeared in stores in the spring. And now I have finally been able to live out my 11 year old hair fantasies. For apparently pink streaks never go out of fashion...

Using the hair chalk was pretty simple. The 'instructions' consisted of three easy-to-follow steps:
1. Place a towel around your shoulders to protect your clothes. (Do this!)2. Gather a section of hair, place the colour pad on top with your thumb underneath and glide down to tip.3. Brush through the excess powder and seal with hair spray.

It really is that easy. I have to say though, I was a bit lax in following the instructions and the white t-shirt (yep, white) I was wearing ended up looking like I'd been at a paint party. Also, I later discovered a small printed 'tip' below the instructions, to wear gloves - I'd definitely recommend this too as the chalk managed to spread from my thumb all over my hands and up my arms.

However, don't let this put you off because the effect really is great. It took me no more than ten minutes to achieve the look I wanted. I was also really pleased that the chalk showed up in my dark hair, my past forays into the world of exciting hair colour (namely hair gadgets from Argos when I was in primary school) have always left me disappointed as the colour was never as vibrant as I envisioned. The Body Shop Hair Chalk was therefore a pleasant surprise, the pink did show up!
I took a photograph of the results, sorry for the poor quality image (it was evening when I took it so I couldn't get very good lighting)! I've also stolen a photo of my beautiful best friend Beth who used the chalk before a festival - to show the results she got with her blonde locks! As you can see the result is darker on brunette hair compared to the blonde, but still a good colour in my experience! 
That's all the lovely good points so scroll down for some of the issues I had with the product...




Sighhh, number one would have to be this:

Sadly this is not a great value product, especially if you have long hair. This is the state of my hair chalk at the moment and that is after use. At £5 for one colour tab, this isn't an every day kind of product. It works out great for a one off occasion but sadly, that's all. Personally, I think it would be much better if the product came in packs of two, one pink and one blue - then at least you'd get two uses out of it! 
Number two? I didn't get great wear out of it. The product seemed to be falling out my hair before I stepped out the door and by the time I got to my event a lot of the vibrancy had gone *cry*. However, Beth's hair lasted for a whole weekend and therefore I think the reason mine didn't stay in so well might have been because I didn't have any hairspray to set it in my hair so perhaps all hope is not lost. I have also been informed by Miss Bethany that she re-applied her chalk three times and still has quite a bit of the product left - so it seems that you need to use quite a lot more product to cover dark locks!
I'd say the only other downside to this product is that it is quite drying on your hair and a good deep condition is needed once all the chalk is rinsed out! (TBS also recommend conditioning before hand!)


I think this is a really good product. It's certainly the best short term colour answer I've found, sadly however that is very short term with the product lasting just one measly use. For those looking for more permanent cruelty free colour answers, I'd recommend checking out Manic Panic's site where they have an awesome range of cruelty free colour dyes. For one off occasions however, this product certainly does what it says and gives great colour on both dark and fair hair, and with a bit of hairspray it could last days!


What did you think of this review? Have you tried hair chalks before?! Let us know your thoughts and feelings by commenting below!! We love to hear :)

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

REVIEW: OCC Skin Concealer

Voila! A beautiful cream concealer by one of my favourite cruelty free brands: Obsessive Compulsive CosmeticsI love this little find. Before diving into the pros and cons I'll quickly mention that I seriously considered making this product part of a cruelty free 'dupes' post due to it's striking resemblance to MAC's Studio Fix Cream Concealer... however, I'll save that for the future and just say that if you're a fan of MAC's Studio Fix you should definitely make this cruelty free switch!

  • The product comes in twelve shades that use the same undertone system as their foundations. From the lightest yellow based shades to the darkest red based shades you are certain to find a match - OCC are really good at this!
  • The consistency of this concealer is really nice, it has a creamy texture that doesn't dry out on the skin and being solid rather than a liquid means it not only stays where you put it but is easily build-able (for those unhappy skin days).
  • The translucent ivory shade of Y0 doubles up perfectly as a highlighter when applied along the brow line and nose.
  • It lasts! And lasts and lasts and lasts... my concealer was the last item in my make-up bag to make the switch to cruelty free and that's because my MAC Studio Fix concealer lasted me forever. But this little find stands up to the cosmetics giant because after months of use I've not even made a dent! Very happy indeed!


  • Woe of woes... Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics is, sadly, a US based company. Which I do have to forewarn you makes getting hold of their products in the UK a little tricky. (Luckily I'm really nice and have made a little list of sites where you can purchase their stuff, here.)
  • Just like its evil (tested on animals) MAC counterpart, our cruelty free alternative sadly comes with a little over-average price tag of around £10 - £15 depending on where you buy it. However it does seem a little nicer when you consider it as an investment: spending £5 every couple of months or £15 every 6 months to a year... I know which one I'd choose!

Overall it's a thumbs up from me! This top end concealer does everything a concealer should. From hiding away blemishes and perking up tired eyes to highlighting your best bits, OCC Skin Conceal is an all round cruelty free gem!


Did you enjoy this review? Have you tried Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic before? Share your thoughts below and leave a comment! :)

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The perfect nude? Barry M 'Just Peachy' Lipstick and Lipliner Review

Here we go, another lippy review and this time it's a pretty little Barry M find called 'Just Peachy 165'... and of course it's 100% cruelty free!

  • Well, where to begin. First off, what have Barry M done to their lipsticks and why did I not discover it sooner! I used to avoid buying Barry M Lip Paint because I found them far too dry with little staying power. Now I'm not sure what they've changed but it is brilliant! I've found it so so so moisturising and that's with everyday wear, too. 
  • Next, the shape of this lipstick is fairly traditional but nonetheless it's a tried and tested shape that works. As expected it allows you to follow the natural line of your lip easily without going over the edges or smudging. Thumbs up from me.
  • Oh but by far the selling point of this particular lippy is the colour. 'Just Peachy', number 165 may well be the elusive 'perfect nude' that every girl needs in her make-up bag. I was almost reluctant to write this review and share my well-kept secret of two weeks but that would be mean so off you all go, buy buy buy! Perhaps I'm getting a little too excited over a lipstick but in all honesty, the shade of this lipstick is beautiful. In my opinion it looks a lot more expensive than its RRP of £4.49 which makes it a bargain and an investment! I've worn this stuff every day since purchasing it!
  • If you're not convinced by the colour though not to worry! Barry M Lip Paint comes in 21 shades so there's plenty of choice! (Take a peek here)

  • Are there any cons? No. (Hehe)
  • Although if I had to pick one flaw it would be that the colour, perhaps being a subtler shade, is not so pigmented as their other lipsticks. However I've found it easy to build up the coverage with two to three coats!
  • Additionally Barry M, unlike Urban Decay, don't provide a matching lip liner range for their lipsticks. Which made finding a matching liner a little more difficult...but don't worry I've done all the hard work for you and would recommend the Barry M Lip Liner in 'Russet' (See photos below)

Colour swatches...

Wearing 'Just Peachy' 165 on it's own without any liner. As you can see it's a gorgeous pinky nude...

If you wanted to go a little darker and a little more matte for a more intense/nighttime effect, I think the perfect partner for this lippy is the Barry M lipliner in Russet. I filled in the whole lip with pencil and then used Just Peachy over the top to create a really lovely dark nude lip:


Did you enjoy this post? Have you tried any of the Barry M Lips range? What are your thoughts? We'd love to hear so please comment below! :)

Saturday, 16 August 2014

LUSH Henna Hair Dye Tutorial and Review...

Yay I have finally written up this review and tutorial and I'm so excited to share it with everyone as it's definitely my favourite new cruelty free find! 

So, about two weeks ago I dyed my hair using Henna. Henna is a natural (and cruelty-free) alternative to chemical/synthetic hair dyes and has been used for centuries to colour the skin and hair. Unlike synthetic hair dyes it is not damaging to the hair as it does not enter the cuticle but simply coats the strand, making your hair look thicker and shinier! I purchased my Henna from one of my favourite cruelty free companies LUSH for approximately £8 a block, a little pricey but as you'll see I think it's worth it. LUSH creates their dye blocks by mixing the finest Persian Henna with cocoa butter and essential oils - so lots of extra conditioning goodness for your hair. One of the most important things to note before you dye your hair with Henna is that all Henna hair dyes contain a red pigment. LUSH combines different quantities of indigo with the red Henna to give different results. They come in four different colours: Caca Brun, Caca Marron, Caca Rouge and Caca Noir. Here's a rough guide to the colours you can expect from their Henna's:

            Caca Brun:  Beautiful Brunette           Caca Noir: Inky Black
            Caca Marron: Glossy Chestnut         Caca Rouge: Fiery Red                       

So, Henna is good for your hair, cruelty free and 100% natural. Sounds good! But how do you use it? Dying hair with Henna can be lengthy and just a little messy, so to make it easier I've broken it up into six easy to follow steps...


Test the (Henna-ry) waters...

Let's get started! Before you do anything you need to choose your Henna and make sure you're happy with the colour. I popped into my local LUSH and they were more than happy to give me a couple of squares of Henna (at no charge) with which to do a strand test. I took home the Caca Marron and Caca Brun and did a strand of each and then a strand of the two mixed together. Once you've done your strand test and are happy with your chosen colour (remember the colour continues to develop for 24 hours after you've washed it off) you can do the whole head!


Be prepared...

Okay so you've chosen your colour(s) and now it's time to commit. No joke. An important thing to know about Henna is that it's very very permanent and can take years to fully get out of your hair. The colour will of course fade however the Henna remains and this can and will react with chemical hair dyes in the future. You don't flirt with Henna, you marry it! 

First things first, get all your gear together. You will need:

  • Rubber gloves (These should be provided when you buy your Henna)
  • A Bain-Marie or heat-proof bowl
  • A saucepan
  • A mixing spoon
  • A knife or grater
  • Chopping board
  • Newspaper to protect floor and work surfaces
  • Clingfilm
  • Old towels
  • Moisturiser
  • A free evening where you can hide from the world and watch films for about four hours

Before you start cover the area in which you'll be applying the Henna with newspaper, this makes clearing up a lot easier and quicker later on! It's important that the Henna is hot when you apply it so having everything ready saves time so the Henna stays hot for maximum effect.


Chop, chop, chop, chop, chopping...

Next, chop up your block of Henna. If your hair is very long you may need to use more than one block of Henna. To create my colour I mixed approximately two-third's of Caca Marron with a third of the Caca-Brun. You can break up your blocks using a knife or a grater. The finer you chop your block the less lumpy your Henna paste will be when melted which makes applying it much easier!  Once chopped, pop all of your Henna into a heat-proof bowl ready for melting and put the kettle on for step four...


Just add water...

 Place the bowl into a pan of hot boiling water (or use a proper bain-marie if you have one). Add hot water to the chopped Henna and using a wooden spoon stir the mixture, keep adding boiling water until the consistency is that of a smooth paste. It may not be the most attractive dye in the world but your hair will thank you later:


Slap it on...

First make sure you've applied a thick moisturiser to your forehead, temples, ears and back of the neck. This will make it easy to wipe off any Henna that splats there (as you can see above) and prevent staining the skin.

Now, the official instructions say to part your hair into sections using clips and to then use a tint brush to apply the mixture section by section. This is probably a good idea. I did not do this. In all honesty I just scooped the mixture up using a gloved hand and slapped it on any which way. I made sure to rub the mixture in well but getting into all the strands was difficult as the paste is so thick and grainy (that'll be the coffee beans in the Caca Marron). Anyway, after about ten minutes all of the mixture was in my hair which I then piled on top of my head and wrapped in cling film for good measure! Note: wrapping the hair in cling film is also a good idea if you want to bring out the red colour as it prevents oxidisation, if you want to go darker then leave your hair open to the air!

Next is the wait... being a natural dye Henna takes quite a bit longer than synthetic dyes for the colour to develop. If you just want to add a gloss to your hair then an hour is fine but if you're looking for a deep colour change then you'll want to leave the paste on your hair for at least three hours. 


Scrub it off and... Ta-Da!

Before and after using LUSH Henna Hair Dye
This part isn't a 'rinse and go' job. You'll need some commitment to really scrub the thick paste out of your hair. Cocoa butter hardens as it cools so whilst the Henna might have been creamy when you applied it hot, after three hours of sitting on your head the paste dries around your hair. 

You can't really do this over the bath so I suggest standing under a powerful hot shower for a few minutes. I remember wondering if I'd ever get it all out... but do persevere as it will eventually begin to slide off! Once you've got a good chunk of it out use some shampoo to start washing out any residue and you'll soon be marvelling at how soft your hair is feeling - even when wet! Once it's all out, dry, style and enjoy!


Pros: Wow. I have to say, this is a wonder product. It may be quite pricey with a lengthy application process but it is definitely worth it. Unlike the synthetic dyes I have used in the past that claimed to be nourishing for your hair (whilst in reality they left me with a day of shine and weeks of straw like damaged strands) this stuff really is GOOD for your hair. As well as the gorgeous colour it imparts, the essential oils and cocoa butter act as a deep conditioning treatment that really did leave my hair feeling the healthiest it has in years. I cannot praise this stuff enough. After using it I immediately decided to top up my colour once every two months simply to keep my hair in this amazing condition.

Cons: The price and lengthy application have been mentioned however the colours are also, sadly, not suitable for all. Being a natural dye, there's obviously no lightening agents in there. Therefore it is unfortunately not the perfect alternative for those looking to go lighter or blondes looking to retain their colour. (Although those with fair hair wishing to go dark or a bright red would achieve fantastic results with Henna).

10/10 from me!

Have you used Henna before? Did you enjoy this post? Do you have any questions about the process? Please comment below I'd love to hear from you!!!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

ZSL Abseil for Lions! A big thank you to everyone who sponsored...

Yesterday afternoon was my Abseil for Lions challenge and luckily it all went without a hitch... although I have to say leaning backwards over a 90ft drop was one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my life. Aside from the jelly legs and pre-abseil nerves it was a brilliant day out with friends and family and I'm so glad I did it.  The abseil, however, is really nothing compared to the outcome and purpose of it - which was to raise money for the planet's dwindling Asian lion population. So in this post I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored the abseil and donated to the campaign, as everyone who knows me will know that animal conservation is a passionate subject for me and I'm so pleased to be able to say that together everyone has helped raise a grand total of £221.96!!!

The Lions 400 campaign is such a brilliant cause and as I really can't say thank you enough to everyone who sponsored I want to provide you with some more information on what your donations will mean for the Asian lion population - so you can all feel super super good:

  •  At the moment, the Asiatic lion exists only in the isolated Gir forest of India and as the campaign name (Lions 400) suggests, there are only 400 individuals of this ancient species remaining. The Gir forest is at capacity and this is forcing more and more Asian lions to wander into the unsafe territory surrounding the forest in search of food. Part of the ZSL conservation project (funded by your donations) includes preparing a new and safe area of forest - which will have a protected status - in the same region of India. This will enable the Asian lions to expand their range into new territory without the risk of hunters or poaching. Expansion is vital to the survival of the Asian lion, for whilst they remain grouped in one area just one natural disaster or disease could mean extinction for the species.

  • Your donations will also help the ZSL extend their leading conservation technology to the rangers and custodians of the Gir forest. Forest rangers will be able to receive real time data and combined with a unique ‘lion hotline’ set up by ZSL, this technology means ' the forest ranger rapid response team will be able to act immediately on problems and mantain the harmony of the forest with the community that lives in and around it'.

  • The Lions400 project is also working on extending accurate and effective veterinary care to the lions of the Gir forest with their vet exchange programme. Your donations will help to fund the training of forest rangers in 'the latest and best disease surveillance techniques and veterinary procedures' ensuring the wild lions can be treated successfully. Your donations will also mean the ZSL can send their expert vets to India where they will run accessible veterinary training courses for trainee Gir forest rangers. 

These are just short examples of the amazing work that the ZSL are doing in India to protect the last 400 Asian lions but thank you again to everyone that donated and I hope this has helped you realise what a difference your money will help make to the Lions400 campaign!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Going cruelty free, a collection of myth-busting thoughts...

Why make the "effort"? Why go cruelty-free?

Apologies for the lack of posts recently, I've been a bit low on funds and I must use up all my current make-up before I get to make any exciting new purchases! However I thought I'd take this opportunity, not to do a product review or beauty feature but to focus a bit more on the thinking behind cruelty-free. My cruelty-free approach to cosmetics gets a really favourable response and generally sparks conversation. People are positive and supportive and kind. They applaud the idea, but at the same time many people feel the need to tell me why they personally don't buy cruelty free: 'it's too expensive', 'it's too much effort', 'it's not as good as my current make-up'. Occasionally when shopping with friends, they will awkwardly apologise - 'sorry Annie', 'oh no don't judge me' - when buying non CF make-up. This makes me a little sad, as I'm not here to judge, no-one should feel like they have to apologise for their choices. My blog is here not to shove the cruelty-free ethos in people's faces but to raise awareness of the brands that are cruelty-free, it's here to give people a choice and information. Because that's what going cruelty-free is all about for me, it's making choices here and there that you can be confident in.

To answer the question 'why go cruelty free?' it's tempting to post a photo of a tortured rabbit, a blind kitten, or a burnt and hairless mouse. And yet, no one wants to see that, people have had the shock treatment, everyone already knows the facts, they've heard the numbers. I think the question that needs to be posed back is: 'well, why not go cruelty free?'

Again, the reasons: 'it's too expensive', 'it's not as good as my current make-up', 'I don't care', 'it's too much effort' might pop up but I intend this post to act as a kind of cruelty free 'myth buster' as I mull over my own experience of and thoughts on making the transition to cruelty free. It might just be a lot of nonsensical rambling but I hope someone, somewhere, gets something from it...

I think a common misconception might be that going cruelty free is an all or nothing sort of thing.'Going cruelty-free' wasn't a snap decision for me, it's been a gradual transition over one or two years where I have tried and tested different products and replaced those I can with cruelty free alternatives. I can now happily say that my make up bag is entirely made up of cruelty free products.  Likewise, the shampoos, conditioners and body washes in our household have all made the transition, along with many of our household cleaning products, too. Yet that's not to say everything non cruelty free has been chucked out. My MAC concealer lasted me two years and has only recently run out and so I have only now replaced it with a cruelty free alternative. I also have lots of old Rimmel eyebrow pencils - that have been sharpened down to the nib admittedly - but I still use these in-between buying new Body Shop or BWC pencils. The point is however, that making the change to cruelty free doesn't have to mean throwing away everything in your house that isn't CF certified, or going to the shops and spending a fortune on new hair and make up products.

It's all about choices, the next time your foundation does run out or you're looking for a new mascara, in the same way that you might consider buying a Maybelline foundation instead of a Rimmel,  consider buying from a cruelty free brand. You might love it, you might hate it BUT it's the same process and decision making that would go into a Maybelline Vs L'Oreal Vs Max Factor Vs Rimmel choice - so, what have you got to lose? £10.99 ? £5.99 ? Naturally some money would be spent, and if you didn't get on with that make up perhaps you might feel it was a waste of money, or perhaps the cruelty-free alternative is slightly more expensive than your usual brand?

To help demonstrate how I view the money side of going cruelty-free, consider these two situations.

  • Imagine you are walking by a shallow pond and you notice that an animal - say a cat or puppy - has fallen in and is drowning. Of course, you think, you must save it. Then you remember that you're wearing a brand new pair of expensive shoes and they'll get ruined if you rush into the pond. Is that a reason for not saving the animal? Of course, I'm sure most people will answer without hesitation: no, the life of this animal is worth more than a pair of shoes, no matter how expensive.  (Peter Singer originally posed this theoretical question about a child)

  • Now, a more straight forward example. Imagine if you have £10 to spend and are given two possible outcomes. Option one, you spend your £10 and nothing happens. Option two, you spend £10 and an animal is tortured and killed. It seems an obvious decision, or perhaps it seems an unlikely scenario...

and yet this is a choice that is being made by billions of people at make up counters every single minute.

And herein is my thought process - and I'm sure the thought process of many thousands of others who have pledged to go cruelty free - is that ten pounds a waste of money when every cosmetic decision you make is, effectively, a life or death decision? For me, it's not whether I can afford to buy cruelty-free, it's whether I - my conscience - can afford not to. 

Now for the 'why make the effort?' 'it's all poor quality' myth busters ...Is it an effort? Is it difficult?

No! Many many people shy way from cruelty free because it's just not obvious enough, it's not shouted about. The lists of naughty and nice, of parent companies, where to buy where not to buy, may seem endless, too confusing, and sometimes contradictory. However there are so many resources to help you on your way to cruelty free. There are the many cruelty free brands, the leaping bunny and CF labelling on products, blogs, (Yoohoo! Over here!) and much more that can help you.

However, from personal experience, it's not about memorising long lists of what to buy and what not to buy. It's about finding products you love. I can't give you a definitive list of what companies test and what companies don't test off the top of my head (that would be impressive) what I can - easily - do however, is list my favourite products. My Body Shop foundation, my Naked shampoos and conditioners, my Treacle Moon bubble bath, my Burts Bees lip balm, my Urban Decay mascara. You see? Going cruelty free is about discovering products you love and sticking with them. It's not about trawling the beauty counters looking for the leaping bunny logo or sending endless emails to companies (that's my job!), simply make cruelty free choices where you can and once you find a product you love - stick with it!

I started with the big name brands, The Body Shop and UrbanDecay, but over two years I've discovered many more fantastic companies I would never have known about if it weren't for my cruelty free journey; OCC, Beauty Without Cruelty, Manic Panic etc. Even better, is the excitement when I discover that a brand or product I've always loved - Barry M nails varnishes anyone? - are cruelty free. Going cruelty free really isn't about 'giving up', it's not a sacrifice, it's enjoyable! My make up bag has better products in than it ever did before my switch to cruelty free and that isn't to do with them being cruelty-free, it's because they're GOOD. I'm looking outside the box of mass produced high-street make up and finding specialist brands that have been used by celebrity make up artists for years (Face Atelier, OCC).  Finding good quality, cruelty free make up isn't a bonus or a surprise, it's the norm!

Really in this post I've just outlined a few of my own thoughts and experiences surrounding cruelty-free shopping however I hope it might have shed some light on the ways in which you can begin to make cruelty free choices and to have broken it down into not so much a "massive lifestyle overhaul" but lots of small "here and there" decisions. If you're thinking of choosing cruelty-free next time you do a make-up shop then check out my Go Cruelty-Free page for more information and a list of CF brands or check out my Beauty Features page for product reviews of some of my favourite CF products. 

Will be so interested to hear peoples responses to this so please leave any comments below!

Friday, 6 June 2014

Beauty Feature: REVIEW: The Body Shop Aloe Vera Skincare Range

Ta-da! This summer I have invested in a skincare set from The Body Shop (Yay!) Having normal to dry skin I opted for their Aloe Vera hydration range, which means I have been treating my lucky skin to: a facial wash, a toner, a pre-moisturiser serum and a day cream. To see the full range including an eye cream and a restorative mask (my budget didn't stretch to the full 14 products) click hereIf you're interested in beginning a new cruelty-free skincare routine for summer, read on for my thoughts on this range.


Aloe Gentle Facial Wash

Pros: The product comes out as a soft foam and one or two pumps is enough to cover your face and neck. It has a light pleasant smell and really lives up to it's 'gentle' promise as the foam is not harsh or drying at all, I've practically rubbed this stuff into my eyes on several occasions (not recommended) and it hasn't stung at all. It leaves my skin feeling soft, fresh and super clean and in my opinion my skin has been looking brighter and clearer, too. 

Cons: The only downside to this product is that it doesn't effectively remove make-up. Personally I don't mind this as I use a cream cleanser beforehand to wipe mine away and I like to see this product as an extra treat for my skin underneath, clearing away any remaining traces of make-up or dirt.


Aloe Calming Toner

Pros: I've never really bothered with a toner before as they usually contain alcohol which can be very drying. However I was happy to find that this one is alcohol free and I've grown to really love it. It's only got something like 6 ingredients making it really gentle and natural and it's brilliant for wiping away any last traces of mascara. It has a cooling effect which really wakes me up in the morning along with a cucumber-y (cucumberous?) smell which, again, is really summery and fresh. The best thing about this stuff is that it really preps my skin for moisturiser, helping it to absorb almost instantly into my skin.

Cons: There isn't really a downside to this product, it's quite pricey for what it is at £8 for 200ml but I've had mine for nearly a month now and it's barely gone down. I wouldn't buy it without an offer however (I got 50% off) as I don't see this as a vital part of a skincare routine but it is nice to have. I'm also not a massive fan of the bottle, I'd probably prefer a pump or a spray lid but then that's me just being fussy.


Aloe Protective Serum

Pros: This is perfect for sensitive skin as it is fragrance, colour and alcohol free. It's also super hydrating and works as a pre-moisturiser. Applied after the toner and before the day cream it makes my skin feel super silky. Light and fresh it absorbs really well and despite acting as an extra protective barrier for your skin, once absorbed it's weightless. I love the pump dispenser as you can see how much you have left and it allows for easy application; one pump will spread easily across the whole face. Having used this as a "pre-moisturiser" for extra hydration I've really noticed a difference to my usually dry skin and its a fantastic base for make-up.

Cons: At £11 for 30ml this is really pricey and again, I can't see myself purchasing it without some kind of offer (The Body Shop usually have some kind of online or in-store offer). The amount you get is quite small for the price too and despite a little going a long way I would prefer a few more mls. 


Aloe Soothing Day Cream

Pros: Finally, after I've foamed and toned and "serum-ed" my face I massage in this "soothing" day cream. Being a cream opposed to a lotion, it is thicker in consistency to most tubed or bottled moisturisers and therefore I would not recommend it for those with oily skin. For those with normal to dry skin however this cream really quenches any dryness and leaves your skin plumped up and bright. Furthermore with daily use the Aloe Vera extract in all of these products appears to have cleared and prevented any redness or breakouts in my skin - which is great!

Cons: This cream is great but again at £10 it is pricey therefore, again, I would never buy at full price and always utilise an offer. Being a cream it also takes very slightly longer to absorb into my skin than would a lotion or a fluid moisturiser and especially if teamed with the serum I find I have to let both products sink in a while before cracking on with my make up. Another downside for me is that there is no SPF in this moisturiser!

Overall, I'm loving this range (even if a massive part of it is being impressed at having kept up a skincare routine for over a week)! The products are gentle and natural meaning I have no qualms about applying them daily and after a good few weeks using these products I believe that the range has really improved the health and appearance of my skin! Also the range is massive which means you can mix and match to suit your own needs, if you have oily skin forget the serum and go for a mask or a lighter moisturiser, or if you want to target problem areas swap the toner for eye cream or a soothing gel!

Did you enjoy this post? Have you tried any of The Body Shop's skincare range? What did you think? Comment below and share your thoughts!!