My Cruelty Free Journey: Skincare

My skin seems to really hate me. As a teenager, I wasn’t very spotty, but I’ve suffered from cystic acne for years. I also have oily skin, particularly on my T zone, and suffer from redness and scarring. Yay!

As such, it took me a long time to get a skincare regime that actually works. Clinique has been an absolute life-saver, but, sadly, they’re not cruelty free. And they’re expensive AF. So I need to find alternatives.

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I decided to hit The Body Shop, taking advantage of their Black Friday sale. I’ve been using the Clinique 3-step for oily skin for about half a year now, and it has made quite a difference. I feel like I’m going to need to try several products before I find a suitable alternative, so I’ve splashed out on a range of new items.

Face Wash

I bought the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash and Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Scrub from The Body Shop. In the shower, I started with the scrub, then used the facial wash. They both have a really pleasant smell, if you like tea tree oil that is! And my face felt brilliantly clean after use.

I’ve also bought some Nip+Fab Glycolic Fix Foaming Facial Cleanser on Amazon, which I’ve yet to try out.

Cleanser & Toner

The cleanser in the Clinique 3-step is strong yet gentle on my skin, banishing oil and grime. I knew this would be the most difficult thing to replace, so I bought a few options.

I bought some Micellar Water from Superdrug, and I shit you not, it is incredible. It’s so gentle, but it tears through grime and makeup like it’s made of steel. I love it, but I don’t think it’s quite enough to cleanse my face properly. I also bought some Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner from The Body Shop, which is supposed to be good for oily skin. On first application of the toner, I felt a slight stinging across my cheeks. But it soon disappeared, and afterwards my skin felt so clean and fresh, with no oil in sight.

I started using Pixi Glow Tonic a few months ago, and I was delighted to discover that they’re CF! So I’ll stick with this magic in a bottle. Don’t buy it on Amazon though – places like Beauty Expert are much cheaper. I’m going to use this at night in future.

Moisturiser

I have to be pretty careful with moisturiser. Too much, and my face will glow. I rarely get dry skin on my face, so I just use a tiny amount after cleansing and toning, and only at night. I’ve been using the Clinique 3-step moisturiser, but I decided to try the Tea Tree Mattifying Lotion from The Body Shop.

After using this skincare routine, my skin was baby soft. I used the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash and Tea Tree Squeaky-Clean Scrub from The Body Shop in the shower, followed by the Micellar Water and the Seaweed Oil Balancing Toner, finishing off with the Mattifying Lotion. In the morning, I used the Micellar Water and Seaweed Toner before applying my makeup. At time of writing, it’s almost lunchtime, and my skin is still matte, my makeup still in place.

Face Masks

One huge cruelty free brand taking social media by storm is Sand&Sky, an Australian company that only sells one product: a face mask.

I love a face mask. I was using L’Oreal before, but I never really felt like they did anything (and they’re not CF, so bye Felicia!). Enter, Sand&Sky. You can read my full review here, but I will just say that Sand&Sky is well worth the money.

I’ve been really lucky in finding cruelty free skincare alternatives. I feel like this new regime is going to work perfectly. It does mean buying more from different shops, which makes it a bit more difficult, but it’s probably cheaper than the Clinique products. You can read about my cruelty free cosmetic alternatives here.

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Eden Perfumes: The cruelty free, vegan company doing everything right

Followers of this blog will know about my quest to swap all my cosmetics and toiletries to cruelty free alternatives. I’m also trying to opt for vegan and more natural products where possible.

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague told me about this company called Eden. They provide cruelty free and vegan dupes for your favourite branded perfumes. It sounded too good to be true, but I decided to give it a try.

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I only wear Britney Spears perfume, and have done for many years. Other brands are usually too much for me, overpowering (and if you have fibromyalgia, you know that we can also suffer from sensory overload). Britney Spears’ range is also pretty affordable, so I’ve stuck to it since I was a teenager.

When you enter Eden’s website, it throws up this message: Type in the name of your favourite designer fragrance or your favourite scent into the search and we will show you a vegan alternative. So I typed in Britney Spears, and up came an option. No. 422 Fantasy – Floral Fruity Gourmand Women’s.

A 30ml bottle is £18, which is a bit more expensive than the original, but I decided to give it a go. Many designer perfumes may actually cost more than Eden’s alternative. Eden offers free UK delivery (and they do deliver to other countries too), and my order arrived about a week later.

Eden’s No. 422 Fantasy is an exact dupe for Britney Spears Fantasy (pink bottle). I honestly cannot tell the difference. It smells gorgeous, sweet and fruity, and honestly, the only thing that’s different is that Eden’s dupe lasts longer than the Britney version, which is a plus! I am an official convert.

Why wouldn’t you opt for a natural, vegan, and cruelty free alternative to your favourite perfume? Eden also allow you to send your empty bottle back for a cheaper refill, which is good for your bank balance as well as the environment.

I honestly can’t fault this company. Of course, I’ve only tried one of their products, so I can’t comment on how accurate their entire range is, but this one is spot on.

I’m keen to hear what the rest of Eden’s range is like, and how they hold up against other branded perfumes. If you’ve decided to try this company out, let me know in the comments below!

Sand&Sky: A miracle product from Australia

If you haven’t seen Sand&Sky advertised on social media, where have you been?! Crawl out from under that rock of yours, and grab yourself a tub of this miracle face mask.

Whenever I products being celebrated as a miracle product, I tend to turn my nose up. It’s a big claim to make, but if anyone can make it, it’s Sand&Sky.

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This teeny tub costs almost £40 (with free worldwide delivery), which is an extortionate amount of money. But a little really does go a long way. I’ve used it four times now, and I’ve barely made a dent. It also comes with a free little brush, which makes application so much easier.

I have sensitive and oily skin, and I suffer from cystic acne and redness. My T zone in particular is super oily, and by lunchtime, it’s usually showing through my carefully applied makeup. Sigh.

This product was literally popping up on my social media feeds every single day. It was on Facebook, it was on Instagram. I could not get away from it. So when they had a pre-Black Friday deal, offering 15% off, I went for it. And I am so glad I did.

Sand&Sky claims to detox, invigorate, refine, and brighten your skin. It’s made from Australian pink clay, as well as a bunch of other stuff (you can find it all on their website). They claim that their formulations are created from nature, and supported by science. Impressive, right?

When I first applied it, my skin started tingling, then stinging. I almost panicked and washed it all off, but I’d read a few comments about the Vitamin A upsetting people’s sensitive skin. After a minute or two, it stopped stinging, and the mask dried nicely within 10 minutes. When I washed it off and dried my face, it was like running my fingers across a baby’s cheek. Honestly, my skin was so soft.

A couple of weeks later, and my skin remains lovely and soft after use, and my oily skin is kept at bay. It doesn’t sting as much as it did the first time, so I guess my sensitive skin is getting used to it. I didn’t come up in a rash or anything, and it wasn’t super painful, so I wasn’t overly concerned.

Based on the rate I’m using it, roughly twice a week, I imagine this little tub will last at least 2-3 months. It is expensive, don’t get me wrong, but I’m going to make room in my budget for it. I really can’t praise it enough; this mask is definitely not too good to be true, because it really does work. I’m officially converted!

Oh, and Sand&Sky is also cruelty free! Plus, it doesn’t contain any animal components or by-products, and they’re gluten free. So this product fits well into my journey to becoming cruelty free. You can read more about that journey under The Bandwagon Does Beauty category.

My Cruelty Free Journey: Cosmetics

I’ve been meaning to go cruelty free for years. It’s one of those things that I’ve always been intending to do – testing on animals is abhorrent, and so unnecessary in this day and age – but when it came to it, I never followed through. So this time, I took it seriously. I started by taking advantage of the Black Friday sales, hitting places like The Body Shop and Superdrug to start buying cruelty free cosmetics.

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At the weekend, I also decided to have a clear out of my makeup bag. I don’t know about you, but I had several old, crusty mascaras and blunt eyeliners from years back, dropped to the bottom of my makeup bag to decay forever. I don’t know why I hold on to these things, so I threw out all the old, unusable makeup, keeping only a few that I knew I would use. Any unopened products (and there were a few!) will be donated to charity.

People close to me will know that I come from a working class background. My parents never had much money, and whenever they did, it somehow disappeared quite quickly. When I went to university, there was no Bank of Mum and Dad. I worked as a cleaner while studying, barely scraping enough together to eat, let alone visit home.

But why am I talking about class on a cruelty free beauty post? Well, a lot of people perhaps don’t appreciate that there can be a class divide when talking about such issues. It seems to have gotten easier with time, but I appreciate that it can be difficult to go for ethical products when they cost more than you can afford. It’s also unreasonable to expect people to throw out all of their cosmetics and toiletries, and replace them all with CF stuff immediately. It’s also wasteful, hence my slow transition.

 

Last year, I did my own makeup for my wedding. It was a low-key event, nothing huge, so I knew I could rely on my own skills. I learnt a lot about makeup, different brands, and techniques, but recently, I’ve decided to gradually transition over to using cruelty free (and, where possible, vegan) products.

Why vegan? I’m not vegan, not even a vegetarian – I still eat meat and dairy – but we recently went organic. Again, this is a class issue, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover the organic milk isn’t a lot more expensive than non-organic milk, and the organic cheese at Tesco can actually be cheaper than Cathedral City. Supporting our local farm, and buying as ethically as we can is something we feel passionate about. So I thought, why use cosmetics and toiletries containing animal products when I don’t need to? So I’m also going to make an effort to use vegan products, as well as cruelty free.

Let’s begin my journey, swapping my cosmetics for CF and vegan alternatives! (I’m also going to be swapping my toiletries and household products, so watch this space!)

Face

Primer

Old primer: Rimmel | CF primer: e.l.f. Mineral Face Primer

I absolutely love the e.l.f. primer. It’s satin soft, and goes on smoothly. I also feel like it definitely keeps my makeup in place and helps stop the oiliness coming through. I adore it. It’s more expensive – around £7 – but it’s worth it.

CF available at: Superdrug

Foundation

Old foundation: Fit Me by Maybelline | CF foundation: e.l.f. Flawless Finish Foundation

Earlier this year, I finally found a liquid foundation that suited me. I’d actually still been using Dream Matte Mousse, the foundation of my teens! In came Fit Me by Maybelline. It goes on beautifully, matches my vampire-pale skin tone, and lasts for hours. But, sadly, Maybelline isn’t CF. I bought the e.l.f. foundation and tried it out on a Sunday, a day I didn’t need to leave the house.

Sadly, the e.l.f. foundation just isn’t as nice as Maybelline Fit Me. It’s thicker, and you need to use a fair bit more to build up a decent coverage, and it’s got a strange perfumed smell to it. I have oily skin with redness and some blemishes, and the coverage just doesn’t do it for me. The shade is also slightly too dark for my skin. Unfortunately I don’t think it’s a winner, and I may have to revert back to Maybelline until I find another CF alternative. Suggestions welcome!

CF available at: Superdrug

Concealer

I haven’t found a decent CF concealer yet. I’m still using Maybelline Fit Me concealer, but I’ll have to find a new one soon. I am using the e.l.f. Shadow Lock Eye Primer, so I’ll probably go with something from their range.

Powder

Old powder: Rimmel Stay Matte | CF powder: e.l.f. High Definition Powder (Sheer)

This powder is amazing. It keeps my oily skin calmer, stops my glasses rubbing off all the makeup along the sides of my nose, and just gives a nice matte finish. I do have to buy about one a month, but it’s worth it.

CF available at: Superdrug

Setting Spray

Old setting spray: L’Oreal Infallible Fixing Mist | CF setting spray: Makeup Revolution Setting Spray Pro Fix Oil Control

Makeup Revolution is another brand available at Superdrug which is cruelty free. I already have one of their eyeshadow palettes, so I’m fairly confident in using this brand.

CF available at: Superdrug

Eyes

Mascara

Old mascara: Rimmel Wonder’Full | CF mascara: B. HD Lengthening Mascara

A few months ago I was hunting high and low for a decent mascara, without paying any attention to whether the company was cruelty free. Now I’ve had to wade through the fairly limited options, but the fact that Superdrug’s own brand is entirely cruelty free gives me way more options than I originally thought.

CF available at: Superdrug

Eyeliner

Old eyeliner: Rimmel Soft Kohl Jajal Eyeliner Pencil| CF eyeliner: B. Kohl Eyeliner

I also use Laval Waterproof Twist Up Kohl Pencil in brown on my upper lash line. You can buy this for around £3 on Amazon, so I was delighted to learn that Laval is cruelty free!

CF available at: Superdrug (B.) and Amazon (Laval)

Eyeshadow

I’ve been using the Makeup Revolution Redemption palette for a while now. I don’t tend to use a lot of eyeshadow, so I’ll be sticking to this for now. I also have the e.l.f. Aqua Beauty Molten Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold, which is lovely.

Lips

I don’t wear much on my lips, but it made me super happy to discover that ColourPOP is cruelty free! I fell in love with the range last year, and even though they are difficult (and expensive!) to get in the UK, I still love how long-lasting they are. For this reason, I’ll be sticking with ColourPOP, but I may also check out the B. range at Superdrug.

CF available at: Amazon

Perfume

I recently found out about a website called Eden, which makes CF and vegan dupes of popular branded perfumes. The company has a shop in Brighton, but they deliver within the UK for free. I bought their dupe suggestion for the Britney Spears range (don’t judge me!) last week, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival.

That’s it for cosmetics so far! Coming up in this blog series, I’ll be talking about my skincare regime, attempting to move away from the life-saver that is Clinique. I’ll also be reviewing Sand&Sky, the new face mask taking social media by storm.

Unrest: A film about chronic illness by Jennifer Brea

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Jennifer Brea is an active Harvard PhD student about to marry the love of her life when suddenly her body starts failing her. Hoping to shed light on her strange symptoms, Jennifer grabs a camera and films the darkest moments unfolding before her eyes as she is derailed by M.E. (commonly known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), a mysterious illness some still believe is “all in your head.”

In this story of love and loss, newlyweds Jennifer and Omar search for answers as they face unexpected obstacles with great heart. Often confined by her illness to the private space of her bed, Jen is moved to connect with others around the globe. Utilizing Skype and social media, she unlocks a forgotten community with intimate portraits of four other families suffering similarly. Jennifer Brea’s wonderfully honest portrayal asks us to rethink the stigma around an illness that affects millions of people. Unrest is a vulnerable and eloquent personal documentary that is sure to hit closer to home than many could imagine.

  • “Astonishing”– BBC
  • “Brilliant” – The Daily Telegraph
  • “Riveting…equal parts medical mystery, science lesson, political advocacy primer and even a love story.” — San Francisco Chronicle
  • “Remarkably intimate, deeply edifying and a stirring call to action…an existential exploration of the meaning of life.” — LA Times
  • ★★★★★ “A sensitive, powerful documentary” that’s “compulsive viewing.” — BritFlicks
  • “An intimate essay” that even feels like “a suspenseful thriller” and “packs a significant emotional punch.” — The Spectator

You can watch the trailer here. For information on how to watch the film, visit the website, or find a screening near you.

Enemies of Peace by M.K. Williams

Introducing Enemies of Peace, the thrilling new book by M.K. Williams.

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Enemies of Peace literally starts with a bang: an explosion captured by two teenage girls of a house engulphed in flames. In the summer that lead up to the explosion, the Hydroline Corporation hired Timothy Lawson and his firm to represent them in a class-action lawsuit. While juggling his caseload, he and his wife Cynthia decide to buy their first house. It should have been the happiest summer of their lives. Nevertheless, their date with death was looming. 

Who could have possibly done it? Could it be the corporation that Timothy was defending, did he uncover one secret too many? Could it be the cousin that Cynthia has forbidden Timothy to talk with anymore? Could it be the other man who is in love with Cynthia, his jealous rage driving him to kill? Or, could it be the quiet neighbors next door, the unsuspecting extremists living in American suburban splendor?

Enemies of Peace will be released on November 9th 2017. You can read Williams’ Ask The Author interview here.

img_3695MK Williams is an Indiana-born, Philadelphia-raised, Florida-transplant working and living beneath the sunny, and often rainy, skies of Tampa. Williams’ writing influences include a lifetime of watching suspenseful mysteries and action movies and reading Stephen King, Ian McEwan and J.K. Rowling.

 

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Remember, remember, the 5th of November: Weltanschauung turns 1!

On the 5th of November, Weltanschauung will turn 1. To celebrate, I’m giving away 3 signed copies of my short story collection.

41mh26eZQyL._UY250_The harbinger, the oddball, the remaining twin… Weltanschauung seeks to open your eyes to different stories, set in different worlds and at different times, but with the same theme in mind: to make you question your worldview.

This collection of short stories traverses genres, introduces a variety of characters, and shines a light on some of our deepest fears.

Challenge your perceptions.

You can enter to win a signed copy on Goodreads. Don’t forget to join me on Facebook, and let me know what you think!