Thursday 31 December 2015

Christmas Presents 2015 | Cruelty-Free & Vegan

Cruelty-Free & Vegan Make-Up on Lovely Witches

I love having a nose at what other people got for Christmas, so here I am sharing a peek at my presents too. My family, friends and boyfriend are fantastic at the whole buying cruelty-free and vegan thing by now so I was very lucky and got some brilliant beauty bits this year. 

I was so excited to unwrap this GOSH Smokey eyeshadow palette, the colours are so gorgeous. I'll definitely be using it for some day to night make-up looks through the rest of winter. I can't find it being sold individually but currently you can nab it as a freebie from Superdrug. The GOSH lipliner is the shade Raspberry Dream and it's a beautiful plum colour I've had my eye on for a while. I've never tried lipliner before but here goes! I've also been after the Prime 'n Set powder for a long time as it has fantastic reviews for oily skin, so I can't wait to try it out with my new GOSH Foundation Drops.

I also got a second setting powder, but this one's a pressed compact from e.l.f. I picked up the B. Sheer Finish Powder a few months ago and was quite disappointed by it so we'll see how e.l.f.'s offering compares. And one more for my ever growing Barry M collection is the super glittery red nail polish Ruby Slippers. It certainly added some sparkle to Christmas day!

Cruelty-Free & Vegan Beauty Gifts on Lovely Witches

The Deep Steep Peppermint Vanilla Body Wash smells just as sweets as it sounds and foams up a treat in the shower. I can't find it anywhere online but if you're lucky T.K. Maxx might still have some in stock, along with the lovely Sugar Plum hand wash

Rose Jam is another incredible smelling shower gel from Lush that only comes out once a year, and for me Christmas just isn't complete without it. It's like fresh roses and Turkish delight in a bottle, so I'm absolutely spoilt for choice for delicious shower gels now. Another rosy gift under the tree was this lovely Neal's Yard Remedies skincare kit, which I can't wait to review as I haven't tried any products from them before.

Harry Potter Illustrated Edition & Harry Potter Colouring Book. Christmas Presents 2015 on Lovely Witches

Of course I'm a huge fan of Harry Potter, so these two were some of my favourite presents I had to show you. The Harry Potter Colouring Book is filled with detailed pictures from the films and I'm sure it'll take me many, many happy hours to complete. And the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is beautiful. It's wonderful to see a whole new and different imagining of such a beloved story, it now has pride of my place on my bookshelf.

What did you get for Christmas? Any cruelty-free beauty presents? Let me know in the comments ;)


Tuesday 29 December 2015

The Vegan Kind December Box

The Vegan Kind December Box on Lovely Witches. Looking for a cruelty-free and vegan subscription box? Read my review of The Vegan Kind and the amazing vegan snacks in this month's box.

I've been a subscriber of The Vegan Kind for over a year now and I'm very pleased to say that the boxes just get better and better. If you haven't heard of them before, The Vegan Kind is a monthly subscription box of surprise vegan food and lifestyle goodies. 

I absolutely love not knowing what's going to be in each box and getting to try all different vegan snacks and cruelty-free finds. Last month's birthday box was filled with amazing dairy free chocolate. Usually I don't review each box but as soon as I opened this month's, I knew it would be my favourite one yet.

Nakd bars are one of my favourite vegan snacks and so easy to pick up as they sell them in most Tesco stores. My favourites are the Cocoa Orange bar and the incredible Salted Caramel Fruit & Nut Nibbles. So imagine my delight at a Christmas Nakd bar! This tastes 
exactly like a mini Christmas pudding. Yum yum yum.

Freedom Mallows are a treat I've had before from a Vegan Kind box and I was very happy to have them again, as vegetarian or vegan marshmallows are very hard to come by. These are incredibly moreish and make me feel just like a kid again.

A couple of months ago I was very lucky to win three different flavours of Choc Shot and featured this Orange Spice flavour in my October Favourites. That one is long gone now so I was very pleased to have a replacement. This syrup is such a delicious winter treat and makes for the perfect hot chocolate with almond milk.

Vegan Oat & Cranberry Sticky Mix Cookies

I really enjoyed making these Sticky Mix cookies on Boxing Day, not least because the ingredients were all measured out for me so nothing could go wrong. Oats and cranberries make for a very tasty combination and I added cinnamon into a few to up the Christmassy factor. The cookies turned out so well that I'm definitely going to try and re-create this recipe, as it was so simple too.

Harper's Bizarre are another excellent company The Vegan Kind have introduced me to. Their soy wax candles smell amazing and are very strong, filling the room with their lovely 
scents. The Christmas candle this year didn't disappoint and smells of a lovely mix of Christmas cake and spices.

The Cocoa Libre Peppermint Owls are something I'd like to think you might find in Honeydukes, and just as scrumptious. Dark, creamy, minty chocolate that melts in the mouth, I already want some more. I'd also very much recommend their vegan honeycomb (honey free!) chocolate which is equally good and tastes absolutely luxurious.

What a fantastic box! I can't wait to see what's in the January one and how it compares to last year's

Are you a member of any subscription boxes? What are your favourite vegan snacks?


Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you're all having a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying everything Christmas. Tomorrow I'm planning on tucking into my delicious treats from my Vegan Kind box, watching films and chilling out on the sofa with my cats.

I just wanted to write a short post to say thank you to everyone this year who's been reading my blog, sharing my posts, leaving me lovely comments and tweets and even mentioning me in your own posts. It really makes me so happy that you all enjoy what I write! Here's to a very merry Christmas and a happy 2016 :)


Wednesday 23 December 2015

Christmas At Hogwarts | A Trip To The Harry Potter Studio Tour

Christmas At Hogwarts | A Trip To The Harry Potter Studio Tour on Lovely Witches

A special Christmas post today! A few weeks ago my friends and I took a trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour and I wanted to share it with you. We planned our visit so that we'd be there when all the Christmas decorations were up and it was, of course, absolutely magical.

If you haven't been before, the tour is at Leavesden Studios near London where they filmed all the Harry Potter films. There are hundreds of sets, costumes and props all saved from the films which are so wonderful to see in person.

Hogwarts Great Hall at Christmas | Harry Potter Studio Tour

The Great Hall of course looks incredible all decorated for Christmas, complete with flaming Christmas puddings. The other stand out parts for me are Diagon Alley, Umbridge's office and The Burrow. I just couldn't do them justice in photographs! I really love all the artwork made for the films too, like the Quidditch World Cup posters, Hogwarts school book covers and Ministry of Magic propaganda, which really makes Harry's world feel complete.

My number one tip if you're going on a visit to the studio tour is to bring your own packed lunch, as there are zero vegan options and very few vegetarian ones. If you plan ahead there's a cafe and an outside area halfway through the tour where you can eat your own food. It's also a shame that other than Butterbeer there isn't any themed food - I'd have loved to try a pumpkin pasty.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Christmas Cake | Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hogwarts Gryffindor Common Room at Christmas | Harry Potter Studio Tour

My friends and I had all visited at least once before, but we were yet to see the new exhibit, the real Hogwarts Express! Inside there are eight compartments each dressed to portray the films in chronological order. We had so much fun peeking at the spell books, cauldrons, wands (and an escaped Scabbers!) through the windows of the compartments and reminiscing about all those trips to Hogwarts like they were our own.

Hogwarts Express | Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hogwarts Express Compartment | Harry Potter Studio Tour

Hogwarts Filming Model with snow | Harry Potter Studio Tour

One of my favourite parts of the tour is the model of Hogwarts at the end. It's absolutely huge and was used to film the exterior shots of the castle. And at this time of the year it's all covered in snow!

Currently I'm working my way through all the Harry Potter films again whilst I wrap Christmas presents for my friends and family. It's so much fun to spot all the little props and details we got to see at the tour as well as the incredible sets. It's a fantastic day out for any Harry Potter fan and I know I'll be making another visit soon.

Have you visited too? What were your favourite parts? Let me know in the comments :)


Saturday 7 November 2015

An Interview With Vicky Of Ethical Elephant

Today I am so excited to introduce one of my favourite cruelty-free bloggers, Vicky of Ethical Elephant (formerly Elephant In The Room). Vicky's site is so inspiring, and it really is an excellent resource for learning about cruelty-free. I could pick so many of her posts to share with you but a few to begin with are Your "Cruelty-Free" Brand Is Lying To You, The Cruelty-Free Dilemma and What Makes A Product Cruelty-Free?

Vicky also covers topics such as ethical fashion and beauty reviews as well as publishing cruelty-free statements from brands along with lists of their vegan products, which can be really helpful whether you're a seasoned cruelty-free shopper or just starting out.

Ethical Elephant Cruelty-Free Blogger Against Animal Testing

Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself and your blog.

My name is Vicky and I’m from Vancouver, Canada with a desire to do good work for the greater good. My blog is called Ethical Elephant and it's a place to celebrate a cruelty-free and vegan lifestyle that is ethical yet practical for kind compassionistas wanting to inspire change in this world!

When did you start blogging and what inspired you to start your own?

I started advocating for animal welfare as early as 2013 and attended a handful of events, festivals, and even setting up a table at Whole Foods to hand out leaflets and educate the public. It was a fun experience but it took a lot of time, resources, and money to set up at these events and to stand around hoping to inspire passersby to make kind choices. I decided to try and spread the cruelty-free lifestyle message online, where it’s virtually free (to some level) and quickly discovered the online platform was a more efficient use of my time and energy. It wasn’t until April 2015 where I revamped my website and started to explore the idea of creating online content and getting the cruelty-free message in front of those that were already interested in the lifestyle. 

What are your favourite cruelty-free products?

Great question! =) An answer that’s always changing for me so I’m going to let you in on my favourite cruelty-free brands that do not disappoint:
Sukin, Pür Minerals, Mineral Fusion, 100% Pure, Pacifica
..but if I had to choose ONE product I can’t seem to live without right now.. it’s gotta be 100% Pure’s Maracuja Mascara, it makes my lashes look super long and full without any nasty or harmful ingredients! 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to buy cruelty-free?

Do it now! Do it today!! I think a lot of people are resistant to take the leap because they don’t feel like they have enough information or they’re nervous to try something new so they just go back to buying products from the same ol' brands they’re used to. 
It’s a growing process to switch over to cruelty-free products so don’t feel like you need to have it all figured out. Start small or start with just one product but it’s important that you just START! Know that you’re going to make mistakes along the way and that’s OK. Strive for progress, not perfection and the animals will thank you! =) 

What’s your favourite part of blogging?

Love this question! I love the creativity that goes behind each post. There is just so many ways we can tell the same story over and over again “Animal testing is unnecessary, outdated, inhumane and finding cruelty-free products is fun and super easy!” but the part of blogging that I’ve enjoyed the most is re-telling the same story but in my own voice and approaching it differently with the ultimate goal to inspire change in others. Whether that is wording something differently, creating an infographic, or designing a compelling image that speaks for itself —the options are limitless! That’s the true beauty in using a blog as a platform to advocate for animals… there’s really no ‘one way fits all’ approach! 

Thank you so so so incredibly much Gemima for asking such wonderful and fun questions! It’s been a blast and honour to share my story with you and your fabulous readers =)


Thank you Vicky for such a fantastic interview! Make sure to also check out my interviews with Ana of Aniqa DreamsSarah of The V Nice LifeEmily of The Bell JarMorag of mo'adore and Kelly of The Vegan Taff for their thoughts on blogging and buying cruelty-free. You can read the whole series so far here.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

October Cruelty-Free & Vegan Favourites

October Cruelty-Free & Vegan Favourites

Wow, October went quickly! I hope you've all been loving the autumn leaves and scenery as much as I have. Here's what I've been up to lately...

At the start of the month my boyfriend and I took a trip to Bristol Comic and Zine Fair to sell his mini comics and it was such a fantastic creative atmosphere. We both left with lots of ideas for new projects to keep us busy. 

Recently two new vegetarian and vegan eateries have opened in Cardiff which is so exciting. Anna Loka is an all vegan cafe and Atma is a vegetarian cafe with a yoga studio too. Shamefully I'm yet to visit either but let me know if you'd like me to post about them when I do check them out.

One of my favourite hobbies is reading, and lately I've started doing some very short book reviews on my Instagram. Take a peek if you like fantasy, science fiction, dystopian or horror, as that's what I love to read.

Also this month the lovely Natalie of The Tofu Diaries interviewed me about my cruelty-free story, favourite brands and my process for finding out if a company is really cruelty-free. Read the interview here.

November is set to be a busy month as I'm currently looking for a new place to live, trying to minimise all my things and I'll be taking a trip to London to go to the Lush Prize Awards. In case you missed it, you can read my post all about the judging here. I don't think I could be any more excited about an event!

October Cruelty-Free & Vegan Favourites

The Favourites

Choc Shot

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to win three Choc Shots from the Vegan Lifestyle Association! It's free to join their site and you get access to lots of cruelty-free discounts and vegan competitions. This chocolate syrup is delicious in an almond milk hot chocolate and I love to dip it with apple slices for a sweet autumnal snack.

Superdrug Cherry & Macadamia Body Butter

This sweet smelling moisturiser is a life saver for my dry skin as well as feeling absolutely luxurious. So thick and lovely, I adore the rich cherry scent and it's one of the few beauty products I buy again and again.

Crazy Rumors Mint Chocolate Lip Balm

After running out of this tasty lip balm I had to go pick up another one. It's all natural and easily keep my lips hydrated. I'm also very keen to try the HibisKiss tinted lip balms and pretty much all the other fun flavours.

Bettes Beauty Serum

I love to use this serum at night as it feels so nourishing. After using it I wake up with lovely soft and hydrated skin. The scent is a wonderful autumnal mix of pumpkin and herbs, just right for this time of year.

Superdrug Hand Cream 2 In 1

I really like this hand cream as it's budget friendly, never greasy and absorbs quickly. I find I only need to apply this twice a day and it leaves my hands soft and smooth even through the colder months. 

Coconut Curry

I had a go at making Minimalist Baker's recipe for vegan coconut curry and it turned out to be absolutely divine. Very rich, creamy and filling. I was amazed at how easy it was to make such a delicious meal and it's easily the best vegan cooking I've achieved so far. Highly recommended!

Aniqa Dreams

Ana is a brilliant blogger and youtuber who shares tips on ethical fashion, eating vegan and buying cruelty-free. You can read our interview here where we chatted about Ana's favourite brands and her advice for finding animal friendly beauty. A few of my favourite videos are her Cruelty-Free Beauty Hacks & Tips and Easy Vegan Breakfast Ideas.

More from the month of October...

Posts to check out

Vicky's excellent guide Is It Cruelty-Free? 5 Ways To Know If Cosmetics Are Tested On Animals

Sarah hosted her very first Vegan Essex Social and it looks like such a fab event.

Bianca of The Friendly Fig's Cruelty-Free Nails: Buffy The Vampire Slayer edition.

Steph's Current Favourite Autumn Make-up made me swoon over that berry lip.

Gemma's thoughts after her first 6 months as a vegan.

Some recent Instagrams

Products I'm lusting after
e.l.f. Studio Need It Nude Eyeshadow PaletteLush Rose Jam Shower GelAutograph Matt Velvet Lipstick in Plum

What have you been loving this month?


Wednesday 28 October 2015

The Natural Mascara That Looks Fantastic But Isn't For Me

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans
A few months ago I read an interview in Vegan Life with Rose Brown, the founder of PHB Ethical Beauty, which was both a really inspiring read and made me keen to try out their products. Their credentials are fantastic, all products are both Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society approved as well as being natural and eco-friendly. After looking at several natural and vegan mascaras, I was swayed for this one by the reviews and a very nice 30% discount from the Vegan Lifestyle Association.

When I first tried this mascara, I loved it. In the photo above I'm wearing one coat, which pushes up your lashes, curls, lengthens and thickens them. No need for eyelash curlers! (I've always hated eyelash curlers). I thought I might have found the one mascara for me. I was also very pleased that the natural ingredients don't irritate my eyes at all, which is always something to be careful of when you have sensitive eyes.

However, the more I've used this mascara, the more it tends to clump up on the brush and my lashes. Not just a little, but sticking a lot of eyelashes together. I could wipe off the excess from the brush on to a tissue each time I use it, but I'm loathe to lose that much product. So I solve this problem by combing through my eyelashes with my e.l.f. Lash & Brow Comb immediately after applying.

This works nicely and gives me my desired effect of full (but not clumpy) lashes. But it is an added step to my routine that I'd rather skip. I've also found that towards the end of the day, the mascara tends to flake and I end up with little black bits under my eyes. They're easy enough to sweep off and in fairness I have experienced this with natural mascara before, but I have to remember to check my make-up. Altogether, I love the look of this mascara but it's too high maintenance for me.

Do you use natural make-up? Do you have any fantastic mascaras to recommend? 


Saturday 17 October 2015

Bettes Handmade Organic Skincare

Bettes Handmade Organic Skincare Review | Cruelty-Free & Vegetarian

Bettes Luminous Face Scrub Review | Natural Skincare | Cruelty-Free & Vegetarian

Natural skincare is something I've been really get into this year. I love the ethos of green beauty and how it goes hand in hand with living cruelty-free. I'm also very keen to support independent and handmade businesses too. So when Mette, a lovely lady from Denmark, got in touch to tell me how she had moved to the countryside to fufil her dream of making natural skincare I was delighted to try out the results. Mette grows her own herbs and vegetables in her garden to make skincare full of fresh, organic ingredients and free from animal testing. 

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

I love this serum, it feels like a little bit of luxury before I nod off to sleep. I use it by applying a few drops to the back of my hand with the pipette, then dabbing with my fingertips and smoothing on to my face. The scent is lovely, a mixture of the natural pumpkin seed, sea buckthorn and coconut oils inside. The pumpkin especially feels very autumnal!

The serum takes a few minutes to completely absorb, but it does plenty on its own to hydrate my skin so I'm happy to go without moisturiser afterwards. I really feel like this serum has done my skin some good since I started using it - my face feels softer and my skin looks brighter. A bedtime treat for your skin.

Suitable for vegetarians

I really like this cream as a morning moisturiser. It has a very thick consistency which at first I worried would be too heavy for my oily/combination skin. However it works wonderfully to really sink in and leave my skin feeling fresh and looking matte. 

There is a spatula included to apply the cream with, but I prefer to just use my fingers. One of the main ingredients is marigold, which certainly shows in the bright yellow colour! It took me a little while to get used to the scent, a natural buttery smell of herbs. More organic ingredients are chamomile and cocoa butter which make for a very soothing combination that feels lovely on the skin.

This cream does contain beeswax, but Mette reassured me this comes from biodynamic sources. Every season, when the bees make new wax for the hive, the wax from the last season is harvested sustainably.

Suitable for vegetarians and vegans

This sugar scrub really does a fantastic job to exfoliate my skin. I was hesitant at first that the sugar might be too rough for my face, but as you rub it in the sugar granules begin to melt as they exfoliate. Organic olive, coconut and carrot tissue oil really balance the scrub so it feels nourishing for my skin, rather than drying as some scrubs often do. After a good scrub I rinse my face with water to wash off the sugar, then go over once again with a warm muslin cloth to take off the oil and leave my skin really clean.

I sometimes get a little dry patch on my forehead, right between my eyebrows, which is a nightmare when trying to apply concealer or foundation. Since using these three lovelies, the dryness hasn't reappeared once which is quite impressive as the weather is changing.

My skin is still naturally oily, but this routine does help to balance it out. The beauty serum and cream are very moisturising so if you have dry skin or need a bit of extra hydration through the colder months I can certainly recommend Bettes.

Do you have any favourites for natural skincare?

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Autumn Empties | Cruelty-Free & Vegan

Autumn Empties | Cruelty-Free & Vegan Beauty

My first empties post was nearly five months ago so I thought it was about time I showed you my stash of finished beauty products. There's nothing like using up a product completely to really put it to the test, so here are my thoughts on these ones. All of these are of course cruelty-free and vegan too.

Dr Organic Moroccan Argan Oil Restorative Treatment Conditioner

After I cut my hair short at the start of the summer I got lazy and stopped using hair masks so I haven't replaced this one yet. My hair was in desperate need of something nourishing last year and this treatment really helped to smooth out the frizz and get it hydrated again. I'd also recommend it if you have long hair that gets really knotty like mine did, as this mask will keep it nicely conditioned. Once the weather gets colder and my hair is in need of some TLC I'll be happy to repurchase this. Here's mfull review if you want to read more.

e.l.f. Studio Eyebrow Kit

loved doing my eyebrows with this kit. It's half wax and half powder and very easy to build up a bold brow with. For ages I didn't see the need for the powder, hence why it's so unused. Then I started applying the powder too and realised the benefits - it makes the colour of the wax darker, more natural looking and keeps it there all day. To see what it looks like on, take a peek at my e.l.f. make-up look. I'm not entirely sold on the colour, which is a little warm for my ashy brown eyebrows, so I'm currently debating whether to re-purchase this kit or try out the new e.l.f. Brow Pencil.

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Age Defying Eye Cream

I really liked this eye cream but after switching to my White Rabbit Skincare one a few months ago, I discovered that the skin around my eyes needs something a bit more heavy duty to stay moisturised. This is a really smooth and gentle cream to apply and never irritated my sensitive eyes. If you're after a light, all natural eye cream this is certainly worth a try.

Sibu Beauty Sea Buckthorn Nourishing Facial Cream

This is such a lovely moisturiser and it did a great job of balancing my combination skin, probably better than any other I've tried for hydrating whilst keeping shine at bay. It has a yummy fruity smell and absorbed really nicely, making my face feel soft and smooth. I currently have two other moisturisers to test out and finish but I would certainly buy this one again in the future. Here's my full review of this facial cream and the Sibu eye cream too.

Crazy Rumors Lip Balms in Mint Chocolate and Raspberry Sherbet

These vegan lip balms are so much fun. Both delicious and moisturising, my only complaint is that I wish the flavours tasted stronger. I seemed to use them up a bit quicker than my usual lip balms, probably because they taste so good! They smell lovely and sweet too. I have a few tinted lip balms on the go at the moment so I haven't repurchased these yet. But I am keen to try out the many other flavours so I expect they'll have a spot on my Christmas list as they make for great stocking fillers. Here's my full review from last December.

What beauty products have you used up lately? I'd love to hear your recommendations!

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