Saturday 30 May 2015

Summertime Nails | Barry M Speedy Nail Paint in Lap Of Honour

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Paint in Lap of Honour Review

Cruelty-free & vegan

If you've read my blog for a while you'll know I have a real love for Barry M nail polish. After including this one from the new Speedy range in my Vegan Spring Wishlist it was only a matter of time before I added it to my collection! It's such a pretty lilac pastel that just screams sunshine and ice cream to me.

Despite the name 'Speedy Quick Dry' I wasn't actually expecting this formula to be any different to the classic. But it does indeed dry faster! Not super fast in seconds, but certainly a few minutes quicker than the usual nail polish. I am terrible for painting my nails and then immediately smudging them so this was a very pleasant surprise. The brush is also different to the classic nail paints, tapered and wider at the end. I actually really like this new design as it's quicker and easier to cover the whole nail.

After two days of wearing it, I decided to have a go at some nail art as I'd also picked up the Matte White. I used strips of sellotape, stuck on my hand a few times so they weren't too sticky, to cover the purple and then painted the white above that. Unfortunately it didn't make the nice crisp clean lines I wanted. For real nail polish pros check out Dahlia Nails, The Vegan Taff and Efflorescent Dream

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Polish in Lap of Honour Review

Barry M Speedy Quick Dry Nail Polish in Lap of Honour, White & Clear Topcoat Review

I finished it off with the clear topcoat which smoothed out the lines. This is now my second bottle of this topcoat as it's just so smooth and really helps to stop varnish from chipping. I've now been wearing this polish for more than a week and there are only a few small chips around my cuticles. Not bad at all!

What do you think of this colour? Any tips for easy nail art? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Superdrug Empties

Best Products From Superdrug

I think a true test of a product is whether you use it up completely. So, perhaps a little weirdly but in beauty blogger tradition, I saved up these empty products for you to take a peek at. As Superdrug is my go to shop for all things cruelty-free, these are all from their own brand which is Leaping Bunny approved, plus these five products are all suitable for vegans too.

A super affordable heat protector that I've used for ages is this Style Expertise Heat Spray. I think this bottle lasted me around a year, using it twice a week. Pretty impressive! But sadly it's not all that. It does the job and certainly works to prevent me destroying my hair with heat, but I just feel like it could be better. This is one of those products where you get what you pay for, but nevertheless I have repurchased it.

Next up, I'd never be without my bottle of B. Pure Micellar Water. It suits my combination skin so well, and always helps to soothe my sensitive eyes. I use it for taking off all my make-up, sweeping over my eyes morning and night and as a quick and easy cleanser on make-up free days too. So refreshing!

Another trusty favourite that I use all year round is the Hand Therapy Anti Age Cream. It's a super thick moisturiser that absorbs quickly and keeps my hands smooth for hours. I've bought this again and again and will happily carry on doing so. It's certainly earned it's place in my handbag!

Yum yum yum the Cherry & Macadamia Body Butter is the most deliciously scented pot of goodness. It smells just like cherry yoghurt and is actually a very good moisturiser too - super thick and lovely. I've already repurchased it and as soon as this goes on offer (because I'm a cheapskate) I'll be stocking up. My cruelty-free blogger friend Kelly, a.k.a. The Vegan Taff, loves it too.

This pot of B. Ready Day Cream lasted me a good long while, and it's certainly my favourite moisturiser I've found with an SPF. It's nice and light and provides plenty of hydration for my skin without making it greasy. As for moisturiser without SPF however, Sibu Beauty's Daytime Facial Cream triumphs and I'm now using that morning and night so I've not bought another one of these.

What products have you used up lately? What do you buy over and over?

Saturday 23 May 2015

Vegan Switches | Cutting Down On Dairy

Vegan Dairy Alternatives

Recently I've been making a renewed effort to reduce the amount of dairy in my diet. Going vegan is something I've tried and failed to do many times in the past, but after reading Mica's post about her favourite dairy alternatives I realised there were definitely some easy changes I could make.

Margarine and butter was first to go, and easily replaced with Pure Sunflower Dairy Free Spread. To me, it tastes exactly the same as margarine and the only difference is that it's easier to spread! It's also suitable for baking so the next time my sister's making a cake I'm planning to sneak this in there.

Milk is something I used to have everyday, on cereal and in my many cups of tea. At first I tried switching to almond milk, which is very sweet, a little nutty and perfectly nice on cereal. But I just couldn't get used to having it in tea. So I switched again to soya milk, which does take some adjusting to but after a few days I like it just as the same as regular milk. I make sure to get the unsweetened soya because the regular stuff is full of sugar!

Yoghurt is a dairy product I also used to eat a lot of. I'd never tried vegan yoghurt before, in fact I don't think I knew it existed! So I was very happy to discover that the Alpro soya yoghurts are absolutely divine. The big tub of vanilla I like to eat with lots of fruit and some sunflower seeds mixed in. It's delicious - just as good, if not better than, dairy yoghurt. The little dark chocolate pots I'm already hooked on; they're on offer at the moment and I've stocked up on three packs (already minus a few that I've eaten). I've actually had to limit myself to one a day!

Another big bonus to soya and dairy free products is that they last so much longer than real dairy, so I don't have to worry about them going off before I can finish them. Plus of course, it helps me to be a bit kinder to animals.

Do you eat any dairy free products? Do you have any favourites to recommend?

Saturday 16 May 2015

Adopt Don't Shop | Let's Talk About Pets

Today I'm going to talk about my cats! Matilda and Inca are our family cats and we adopted both of them as kittens from the Cats Protection League. They're an excellent charity who shelter cats in need - both Matilda and Inca were hand reared there without their mothers. 

There are so many animals in need of a home, that I can't help but see breeding them for profit as inherently cruel. Many 'breeders' are actually just a front for kitten and puppy mills, where the animals are bred and sold as quickly as possible in horrifying conditions with no concern for animal welfare. This also happens with birds, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. In fact every household pet you can think of.

So how can we stop this from happening? The answer is adopt don't shop. Shelters are filled with animals who need a loving person to look after them and give them a good life. Instead of shopping for a puppy or kitten from a breeder, take a trip to your local shelter and see if one of their animals in need can't win your heart instead.

And if you need any more convincing, keep reading so I can tell you all about my adopted cats :)

This is Matilda, also known as Milly, also known as Lily. My Mam, my sister and I couldn't agree on what to name her so we each call her by a different name. Luckily she's very clever and responds to all three! She loves a good scratch behind the ears and always does everything very elegantly. She hates the rain and getting her paws wet. She's also very protective of her little sister Inca and always looks out for her. Even though the two of them are very different!

Inca is a little fluffball who loves attention. She will sit and meow until someone makes a fuss of her - if she had it her way she'd be fussed all day long. When we first brought her home, she was amazed to find she had an entire house to live in, having only ever been in a cage until then. She's very happy now! Inca's fascinated by moths and all things that fly. Weirdly for a cat, she thinks playing in the snow is the best thing ever. She also loves to bother her sister Matilda by following her around and trying to get her to play.

I also have to give a special mention to Benga, who my boyfriend and I have been looking after for the past year. He belongs to a friend of ours, and was originally adopted before that, so I like to think of us as his foster parents. Benga was pretty badly behaved when I first met him (he liked to go to the toilet all over the house, including on the sofa), but nowadays he's much more chilled out. It turned out all he needed was some routine and stabililty - something I'd recommend for all animals. He likes a little fuss now and then, especially at breakfast and dinner time, and the rest of the time he will happily hang out with us just out of arm's reach. He's happiest watching and chittering at birds from the windowsill and sleeping in the sun.

As you can probably tell, I love all three of them a whole lot. I absolutely plan to be a crazy old cat lady when I'm in my twilight years. Of course, adopting isn't only limited to cats and dogs - I have a friend who has adopted a hamster and a chinchilla, and even Pets At Home have rescued rabbits who need adopting. So if you're thinking about getting a furry friend, I urge you to adopt, don't shop.

Do you have any pets? I'd love to hear about them :)

Thursday 14 May 2015

Tips For Hosting A Twitter Chat

I'll start by saying I'm no pro at Twitter, but having hosted the cruelty-free bloggers chat, once last week and once in April, I wanted to share the bits I've learnt from my first few times hosting a Twitter chat. Here we go!

1. Schedule your questions

For the first chat, I had my questions ready to copy and paste but I was constantly keeping an eye on the time and trying to judge the best point to post them. For the second chat I used Buffer to schedule the questions beforehand, to go out at ten minute intervals. It made it so much easier for me to participate properly! You also know your questions are under 140 characters and that you won't forget to use the chat's hashtag.

2. Use a multi-view platform

Whether you're hosting or chatting, Tweetdeck is awesome. You can see every tweet containing the chat's hashtag, your home feed, messages and any other timelines you want all at once. Especially if a lot of people are chatting this makes it a breeze to keep up. Hootsuite is another free platform that does the same.

3. Write back-up questions

The first chat I hosted was quite busy, so five questions were plenty as there were lots of answers and mini conversations sparked from those. The second chat I hosted was pretty quiet so the questions were answered quickly by those taking part. In between I posted extra questions as well as my scheduled ones to keep up the momentum, which worked out nicely!

4. Make graphics

This is something I meant to do but didn't get around to, but I do think it's important if you have the time! Make a graphic for the chat with the day, date, time, timezone, hashtag and your theme if you have one. A picture is much more likely to stand out on someone's Twitter timeline and then (hopefully) be remembered and retweeted. You could even make graphics for the questions too if you want to.

5. Promote to your audience

No need to go overboard, but make sure you let people know! Ask yourself who you'd like to see in the chat and who'd be interested in your topic. For example for the cruelty-free bloggers chat, I used the hashtags #crueltyfree #vegetarian and #vegan as well as #bbloggers (beauty bloggers). Plus don't forget the chat hashtag, e.g. #cfbloggers. I also made sure to send promo tweets at the times when most people are checking Twitter - early morning, lunchtime and evening.

And lastly, have fun! I always enjoy the #cfbloggers chat so much, because it's a joy to talk to like minded people. And if you've never joined a Twitter chat before, you definitely should :) It's like chatting in a big online club with other cool people who like the same stuff you do. Also if you want even more tips for creating your own chat, Morag of mo'adore (and founder of the #cfbloggers chat) has an awesome post here.

Do you join in Twitter chats? Have you ever hosted one?

Sunday 10 May 2015

Vegan Tuck Box

When the Vegan Tuck Box offered me a free box to review I snapped up the chance. I love the old school idea of a tuck box and it is so handy to have vegan snacks to take out with you when there may not be any vegan (or vegetarian) options in sight. I got one of the Classic boxes, which contains 10-12 products, but there are also mini boxes with 5-6 products available and gluten free options too. Plus, 20p from each box is donated to Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

When I opened my box I may have got a bit too overexcited about unpacking all the goodies inside. There were a lot of them! Of course, I had to find a huge amount of patience to take these photos before gobbling it all up. 

I was most excited to try the Yummy Scrummy brownie, which tasted absolutely heavenly, every bit as good as (actually, better than) a non vegan brownie. Made with Ecuadorian Raw Cacao butter and packed full of dates, walnuts, raisins and goji berries it was truly scrumptious.

The Fig & Linseed flapjack, made with agave nectar, was another particularly sweet and tasty treat. The Emily Fruit Crisps were not my thing, but my boyfriend happily ate them all and I know they're pretty popular in general. Even though I'm not usually a crisps fan, I did really enjoy the BBQ flavour Ten Acre crisps which definitely reminded me of summertime. The Organic Raw onion and garlic crackers were also surprisingly good, especially dipped in peanut butter.

The Spicy Peanuts were very hot! They were too spicy for me but if you like a snack with a kick these are for you. The Superseeds were a sweet mix of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, very nice on my morning cereal and I also liked them mixed with fruit and yoghurt. I really didn't expect to like the Provamel Rice-Coconut drink and left it until last to try, but it was delicious! It was very sweet and refreshing and I'd happily buy a whole big carton of it.

I was very pleased with the amount of chocolate in the box as the only vegan chocolate I've tried before I didn't like. Not the case this time! The Sarelle bar was a chocolate bar with a wafer, almost like a Bueno but better. The Cocomels were mouthwatering chocolate covered chunks of caramel. The iChoc bar had tasty little bits of cookie all smothered in (non-) milk chocolate. And the Doisy & Dam bar was sumptuous dark chocolate with fruit and nuts. All delicious dairy free goodies!

I'm so happy to be introduced to all these yummy vegan treats and I'll certainly be buying more of my new favourites from the Vegan Tuck Box website, which has a section to buy any individual goodies you like the look of.

I think this is a really great value subscription box, especially if you're looking for new vegan food to try or you just want a box of yummy snacks every month. If you're interested in trying a Vegan Tuck Box for yourself, just enter the code "blog20" at the checkout to get 20% off your first order.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Lyonsleaf's Natural Skincare

Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm review

Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm review, cruelty-free and vegan

Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream and Body Butter review

Lyonsleaf are a U.K. brand who make 100% natural skincare, with an emphasis on treatments for those with sensitive skin and allergies. When I emailed asking about their cruelty-free status, the owner Vicky was kind enough to quickly reply with clear straightforward answers and sent me a few samples to try. All three of these products are suitable for vegans, and their entire range is vegetarian.

I was also very lucky to win a Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm in a giveaway held by Chesca of Fern & Moss. I'd wanted to try this balm for a while so I was super excited to win!

The Beauty Balm is made with 95% organic ingredients and has a lovely scent of shea butter and almonds. As soon as the balm warms on your fingertips it becomes an oil, which feels lovely to massage into your face. 

I wipe off the balm with a warm flannel, which really helps to exfoliate my skin. Any make-up and dirt is lifted easily. After washing it off my skin feels refreshed, and so soft that I don't even feel the need for moisturiser.

I always get blackheads on my nose, but using this balm twice a week has really helped to get them under control. It's rid a fair few of them and I find that less new ones are appearing.

The Calendula Cream has a pleasant smell of essential oils and feels very nourishing for my skin. You can use it on your face and body and as a natural treatment for eczema and psoriasis. I've been using this little pot as a hand cream and it's perfect for helping those little dry patches that often appear between my fingers. Plus, you really only need to use a tiny amount as it spreads so smoothly.

The Body Butter is very much like butter in it's consistency! It also spreads very nicely and (unlike butter) leaves no greasiness at all. It takes a little time to absorb but then melts into my skin and leaves it feeling very soft and smooth. I can certainly see myself buying a full tub of this in the future.

Have you tried Lyonsleaf before? What are your thoughts on natural skincare?

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