I had intended to post this on Friday evening but I was too lazy to type and then the sun was out in full force on Saturday, which meant it was pushed back to today, Sunday. So, here I am, sitting in bed (even though it’s after midday, ahem) with a cup of tea and a quiet determination to actually write a blog post – no mean feat when your creative energies are at an all time low. I know I’ve banged on about it before but I’m feeling like a bit of slacker these days when it comes to this space but I’m hopeful my blogging will soon be reignited properly … I just think I need to take things slowly.
I’ve read posts before about bloggers hitting a creative wall – and in my case, it is often stunted further by the amount of uh-mazing food and lifestyle blogs that are springing up left, right and centre complete with professional-looking images and all perfectly curated for your perusal. Then again, this space was never about that. It was never about perfection, instead striving for honesty and a glimpse into my far from perfect world. Whilst I always want it to be a pleasant place to visit, I never sugar-coat where I’m at or how I’m feeling … integrity is everything to me. Anyway, you can see that my thoughts are currently quite scattered so let’s move onto the subject at hand – Tropic Skincare.
Full disclosure – I was kindly sent these items by Chelsea at Tropic Skincare who asked would I be interested in checking out their range. Rather fortuitously I had just squeezed the last drop out of my Argan Oil so was definitely in the market for a new face oil – cue, the Organic Elixir Oil of my dreams. I’d heard good things about this oil (and indeed the range) before and I’m pleased to say it matches the online hype. I’ve been slathering it liberally over my face and neck, twice a day now for well over a week and it is simply glorious … if you have dry skin like me, you will be wowed.
Even if I hadn’t been gifted the oil, I suspect I would’ve coughed up the £30 anyway because I’m always happy to invest in a quality moisturiser, particularly when it’s as natural as this one – I won’t bore you with the ingredients list but suffice to say, it’s impressively simple. It absorbs quickly into the skin and is the perfect base for applying make-up … I often have dry patches that are worsened by make-up application but I’ve seen a massive improvement even in the short space of time I’ve been using the oil. Equally, it’s rich enough to be used at night, which means you don’t have to buy a separate product thus saving ‘dem pennies … great news for those of us who are on a meagre budget but still want great skin.
The concealer and brush have also been welcome additions to my routine. I would recommend the concealer for a daytime look, as it’s quite light, giving a nice natural coverage. The (cruelty free) make-up brush has become a bit of staple too now that I’ve swapped my ‘Winter’ blush for a more summery bronzer … the slanted style is terrific for highlighting cheekbones and is super soft – I doubt anyone would know it’s ‘vegan’.
For me though, it really is all about the elixir – I honestly can’t get enough of it. Nothing more to say other than ‘two thumbs up!’
I am just about clinging on this month so I need every materialistic comfort I can get my hands on to see me through. Surrounding myself with pretty things is just the ticket to beating these January blues and a good book (namely ‘Not That Kind Of Girl’) is also required, especially during this so-called ‘digital detox’ I’ve imposed upon myself. Luckily for me Lena Dunham’s witty writing style is perfect bedtime fodder and the make-do tea lights (more on those in a minute) are on point too in setting that sleepy-bye-byes mood.
A couple of things here are Christmas gifts from my Husband (that man truly gets me) but before I wax lyrical about my latest Mary Quant scarf let me draw your attention to the cute personalised stamps I acquired from NotOnTheHighStreet. I must confess, I’d never ordered anything from there before although I’ve always been intrigued by their wares. I’d intended to give out edible gifts at Christmastime (hence the stamp) but unfortunately due to my absolute self-confessed stupidity I listed the wrong postcode meaning it (along with the requisite cellophane bags) didn’t arrive in time. Ugh. Idiot. Thankfully I’ll still get good use out of them but I was infuriated (at myself) at the time.
Onto the scarf then. Another absolute beauty sourced online and given to me by my wonderful Husband… I adore Mary Quant and this colourful option is going to get so much wear during the summer. I’ve been playing around with different ways to style it although I think I’ll probably end up using it most as a headscarf. What can I say? J’adore.
The charm bracelet was a ridiculous (like, five quid ridiculous) bargain I found at a terrific vintage jeweller’s in Derry called The Whatnot. They have sooooo much incredible stuff in there, I could seriously spend hours browsing the shelves. We were actually on some official earring business (my Dad was buying my Mum’s Christmas gift) when I spied it out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to have it. I kind of feel like it’s an homage to our London days, even though it wasn’t actually bought in London. And I can’t deny, I did come over all nostalgic for those happy years we spent in the capital although I’m not sure how much fun it would be now. Rose tinted glasses, eh?
Herbal teas are where I’m at and Yogi is a fav brand of mine – this one was Sweet Chai and it has a real spicy kick to it. Sometimes I add a splash of soya milk and a teaspoon of agave but today I enjoyed it ‘au naturale’. I also love how each bag comes with a philosophical saying or quote. This one read:
In distant travel you learn about yourself
Having just recently discovered my skin type is ‘dry’ (and what with this winter weather wreaking havoc with my skin) I was desperate to find a natural solution. I did some research (YouTube is a wondrous thing!) and Argan Oil came up a lot, so I knew I had to try it. I’ve been using it solidly since before Christmas (I apply it after removing my make-up in the evening) and now I’m a total 100% Argan Oil convert – it really does live up to the hype. Whereas before I was waking up in the morning with a tightness in my skin, it now feels soft and supple and totally hydrated. If, like me, you also suffer from dry skin then I honestly can’t recommend this stuff highly enough. The brand I went for was Dr.Organic, which can be purchased at Holland & Barrett. Go try it ! Now!
Oh, and those simple glass tealight holders once contained scented candles. All I did was wash them out and I must say I really am quite taken with them. That’s my kind of recycling! What are you currently coveting? Leave me comment below.
Can you believe we are less than three weeks away from Christmas? Seriously, where does the time go?! I’m here in Ireland helping out with my Dad (who is soldiering on magnificently, by the way) whilst trying to get myself in the festive spirit … and all without my Hubby by my side. He’s currently still in Cornwall but will join me here on the 20th. I. Can’t. Wait. My Sister flies in from the States on Christmas Eve (no doubt we’ll be the ones picking her up at the airport), which is when the festivities will truly commence. So, as you can see, it’s a bit of a weird one this year but I’m still as gung-ho as ever about maxing out all Christmas possibilities. And that means (first and foremost) family, (secondly but also crucial) food as well as films, fashion, beauty, gifts, wrap, cards and carols… and anything else that makes Christmas, Christmas. It’s a long list, so lets leave it there.
Anywho, here are some bits and bobs that are making my Winter a little brighter starting with the bling. Now, you’re probably thinking this necklace is a bit OTT and I would tend to agree. In fact, it’s so not me I’m amazed I actually bought it but hear me out before you click on another blog with decidedly better taste. I’ve been on the lookout for a statement necklace for a while. In truth I was hoping to nab one of those JCREW style pieces that make a simple outfit a standout one but (1) they are usually way out of my budget and (2) up until spying and trying this one I was unsure I could pull it off in the nonchalant way I desired. Fast forward to me wandering around Debenhams when this not-so-little beauty caught my eye in Phase Eight. I was wearing a denim shirt at the time (a JCREW one, in fact – ha!) and immediately threw it on. Let’s just say I was instantly smitten and my Mum loved it so much she actually bought it for me – thanks Mum! It’s going to get a lot of wear this Christmas – watch out for a plaid shirt, blingtastic statement necklace combo very soon.
Another day, another shopping trip and this time it was Wallis that came up trumps with their incredible range of leather-free boots and shoes… seriously vegans, check out their website pronto, they have an impressive array of footwear available and it’s all so reasonably priced! Again, I had been on the lookout for a pair of black ankle boots and was finding it impossible to find the right kind… y’know what I mean, cuban-style heel (not to high, not too low), nice textured pleather (always looks better than smooth) with a bit of an ‘edge’. Well, these ‘mid heel cowboy boots’ were (are) them. I almost shrieked when I checked the label only to discover they could be mine after-all … don’t you just love those ‘man-made’ fabric moments?
And then there’s this hat. A cute pompom adorned number that, yes, you guessed it, is also made from synthetic fibres. I’m on a roll here. It was love at first sight – although I did wrangle between the rust and mustard before settling on this one because, you know, mustard. It’s already a staple. If you’re after one yourself check the men’s section in New Look.
Confession time. I’m not a big wearer of nail varnish. Tootsies, yes. Fingernails, no. I think it was my violin playing past that put me off having anything of colour on my hands – I just found it way too distracting. However, I’m really trying to break the habit of a lifetime and this vegan friendly mustard gelly polish from cruelty-free beauty brand BarryM is just the ticket to ease me in. Whilst I’ve had it on my toes for a while now I think it’s time to give the aforementioned fingernails a go… and this gorgeous hue could not be more fitting. Check instagram for the upcoming nail varnish wearing evidence.
Dionne Necklace /Phase Eight @ Debenhams
Mid-Heel Cowboy Ankle Boots/Wallis
Navy & Mustard Bobble Beanie/New Look
Mustard ‘Gelly’ Varnish/BarryM
Patent Mary-Janes (similar here)/Topshop
Shoes, shoes, shoes. A girl can never have too many, am I right? I actually bought these patent Mary-Janes a few months back (and I can’t find the exact ones on their website now… sorry!)but knew they would come into their own around Christmas time. They really lift any outfit (equally perfect with pants, dresses and skirts) and are a must-have in my opinion. Again, it was squeal-time in Topshop when I realised they weren’t actually leather. Adorable and cruelty-free – what more can you ask for?
Since moving to Cornwall I’ve become a bit of a Spa pro. There are so many options down here (what with it being a holiday makers haven) it can often be difficult choosing which one to go for… but fear not, I am here to help. Deciphering the veritable wheat from the chaff, as it were, and giving you insider tips on who does what well where. Yes, my love for alliteration knows no bounds.
Let me draw your attention then to St.Michael’s Spa and Hotel in Falmouth – located, funnily enough, opposite one of our favourite Fally hangouts, Gylly Beach Cafe (they do an awesome soya latte and always have a good selection of vegan cakes), and surrounded by the most incredible grounds and one heck of a gorgeous view. I’m a sucker for ambience and St.Michael’s definitely sets the perfect spa scene with all it’s nooks and crannies, super staff and top notch treatments. Of course, me being me went for the full shebang. Namely the AFYNA Ultimate Relaxation. Clearly, I don’t do things by halves.
Being a bit of a massage expert my standards are pretty high when it comes to back rubs – in case you’re wondering I always request firm pressure… it’s the only way to deal with those knots I’m so prone to although I often find masseurs are a bit too gentle for my liking. I needn’t have worried though because Carly applied the perfect pressure and all those weeks of recent stress seemed to melt away in seconds. In not time at all I was totally zen.
After the back rub it was time to work on my face. Eek. Okay, fess up time, as this was my first ever facial (I know!) so I have absolutely nothing to compare it to (but, but , but!) I think I possibly enjoyed this more than the massage. Call it narrow mindedness or sheer stupidity but I’ve never really ‘got’ facials. I realise I’m a total idiot for underestimating the power of a good facial but the thought of having my face pulled and prodded just never really appealed. How wrong I was – and may I just say, weirdly, having my eyebrows gently pinched was perhaps the most relaxing bit of the whole treatment. Or maybe I was just so relaxed by that stage it just felt like it was. Either way. Eyebrow pinching. I highly recommend it.
Of course, for us vegans, it’s important to know what products the spa uses, which is were St.Michael’s also comes up trumps. The AFYNA and ESPA ranges are both cruelty free and I was lucky enough to be given an EPSA home spa treatment kit to take away with me. More on that later. Oh, and did I mention they’re British brands – hurrah!
And it doesn’t stop there. Afterwards, I was asked whether I would like to know my skin type to which I eagerly replied ‘Yes’! Now, I always thought I knew my skin pretty well and had already self diagnosed myself as having having combination skin, i.e. dry with an oily t-zone. Not so! I have dry skin. Plain and simple. It wasn’t exactly a surprise but it prompted me to figure out a skincare routine that would better suit my skintype, which I’ve been following rigidly for the last three weeks and guess what?!! It’s working! From making sure I apply my moisturizer to damp skin (not bone, towel dry as per my previous routine) and using a facial oil at night instead of a cream, I’ve noticed a steady improvement in my face and on my body.
I’ve incorporated the ESPA kit into my routine, which has really helped, meaning my dry patches have pretty much cleared up … in a nutshell, my skin has never felt better. I am so excited to give the AFYNA range a go now too (just as little compare and contrast) – in fact, you could say I’ve become a bit of a skincare obsessive of late, especially as I’m attempting to wean myself off cheap high street brands and ensure my products are all paraben free and mostly organic. I shall definitely keep you posted. In the meantime, I cannot wait to get back to St.Michael’s to sample a few more of their treatments. Another facial is absolutely on the cards.
*I was kindly gifted the treatment but my opinions are entirely my own and 100% honest.
Cruelty free beauty is on the up and up friends. Big brands are slowly but surely seeing the light and following suit when it comes to phasing out animal testing and I could not be more delighted. As a self-confessed beauty junkie myself I want to be able to buy the latest foundation without having to worry about the process its gone through before I smear it all over my face but for us vegans that privilege can often come with a hefty price-tag. Of course, my often meagre budget means that those expensive purchases are few and far between so I’m always seeking out more affordable options such as Superdrug and Soap & Glory. Not that I’m complaining mind because these wallet friendly items happens to be pretty wonderful anyway so I thought I’d share a few of my current favs…
1. Superdrug are currently stocking a brilliant range of products that mimic what all the top beauty brands are doing… the B-Pure Micellar Water I bought recently is along the sames lines as that well regarded fashion-pack fav Bioderma and in my opinion is a 3-in-1 miracle worker. The fact they label everything clearly (BUAV symbol – check! ‘Suitable for Vegetarians and Vegans’ – check and check!) ensures shopping there is an absolute pleasure.
Also from the B-Confident range is the Colour Correction Cream, which has an added SPF 45… essential for pale skinned peeps like myself who worry about exposing their face to the sun. Like many over-30s my skin tone is a little more uneven so this make-up bag addition has become something of a ‘must-have’. I put it under my foundation but you could easily use it on its own – kind of like a tinted moisturizer. I recommend it for a smooth finish and it’s very reasonably priced too so what’s not to like?
A not-so-new discovery is their own-brand make-up line but it’s still the most exciting for me. I could spend hours browsing the small but perfectly formed range (and I could list a dozen more items I’m currently coveting) with the All Lengthening Defining Mascara (basically clump-free, lengthening, easy-to-apply awesomeness) and B-Defined Eyebrow Kit (didn’t actually realise how much I needed this!) possibly being the best. Even though my brows are pretty dark this little kit helps me reign in their unruliness, and i’ve become increasingly reliant on it for finishing off my look.
Oh, and how could I forget the BB 5-in-1 Eye Cream. Ideal for covering up those dark circles whilst looking completely natural too, I also love the application brush although it will require some further blending – I just use my fingers for this – before applying your foundation. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to concealers and this rates pretty well alongside more expensive brands – not bad for a budget purchase, eh?
And yes, I know I’ve banged on about Superdrug a dozen times before so consider this simply a reiteration of my love for this wonderful high street store. Nice one Superdrug, keep doin’ what yer doin’.
2. Soap & Glory have come a long way since I first discovered them when it comes to providing information. I remember clearly having to send emails regarding individual products and it was a lengthy, laborious process waiting on the response. Thankfully now they have a handy list on their website, which lists all the vegan friendly options and this 3-in-1 Face Soap and Clarity Facial Wash is one of them. I’d been wanting to try a new face wash for a while now and the little beads that are dispersed throughout are gentle enough to scrub away any deep seated dirt without being too abrasive on the skin. One word. Love.
3. Okay, so now let me remind you of a brand I have given a mention to on the blog (or was it just my vlog?) before but you may have forgotten about. Pure Nuff Stuff is a brilliant little homegrown company based right here in Penzance that utilizes all natural ingredients. I was in desperate need of a rich body moisturizer that could combat my ‘prone to dryness’ skin and so far it has exceeded all expectations. The lady in the store was incredibly attentive and was very excited to tell me she was in communication with a new vegan website (didn’t catch the name unfortunately) that will be featuring their fantastic ‘almost completely vegan’ range very soon. Having opted for the fragrance-free Shea Souffle option I wanted to give it a couple of weeks before offering up my official verdict but I can now emphatically award it a double thumbs up. I was initially a wee bit concerned when I realised how incredibly thick it was, however, I needn’t have worried because it melts into the skin like a dream and keeps it hydrated right through to the next morning – and can I just say I adore the little jar it comes in too… #justsayin