Green Beauty: LoveLula Beauty Box - November 2017 review

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

LoveLula Beauty Box - November 2017 review
Earlier last week, my LoveLula Beauty Box arrived and I've been enjoying testing out this month's featured goodies which include three full-size products and an incredible overall value of £60! Sounds good? Read on to find out more!

LoveLula Beauty Box - November 2017 review
Madara Smart Anti-Fatigue Eye Rescue Cream (full size, RRP £31)
The star of the box for me this month is this full-sized Anti-Fatigue Eye Rescue Cream from Madara's anti-ageing Smart range. I've tried a lot of skincare from Madara (most of which I've loved and several products I've repurchased many times over), but I haven't really explored the Smart range properly yet. This line is packed full of antioxidants and innovative natural formulas for noticeable and effective anti-ageing results, so I've been wanting to try this Eye Cream because the eyes are always the first area that shows up those very first signs of ageing. I've only been testing this out for a week, but so far so good, and I love the texture of it. It promises to target fine lines, dark circles and reduce puffiness, so keep your 'eye' on a future Empties post to see how I get on with it.

REN Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum (2ml sample- full size is 30ml for £50)
This new launch from REN is an interesting one as their Perfect Canvas Skin Finishing Serum acts as a 'primer serum', to perfectly prep your skin for makeup. Free from silicones and rich in Probiotics, it leaves the skin feeling more plumped up and super smooth which I really like. I'm not sure if it's something that I'd purchase the full size of though, as it's very expensive and I feel like I already have a lot of similar serums in my skincare stash that give me the same results, but I've been enjoying trying it out nonetheless.

LoveLula Beauty Box - November 2017 review
Inika Organic Lipstick in Naked Kiss (full size - RRP £18)
I love Inika's makeup (I used their Liquid Foundation and a mineral blush from them this morning!), so I was over the moon to see this beautiful Organic Lipstick in this month's box. Formulated with Organic Shea Butter and Jojoba Oil, it has a creamy and moisturising feel which is perfect for dry winter lips and this shade Naked Kiss is a gorgeous, super easy-to-wear, everyday neutral pink that has a lovely golden sheen to it.

The Seaweed Bath Co Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner (sample set)
The Seaweed Bath Co are one of the newest brands to be stocked on LoveLula and to mark the launch, they've included this sample set of their Balancing Shampoo & Conditioner. These are the only products that I haven't yet used as I'm going to save them for my travel bag, but they sound promising for my tricky combination hair.

Laidbare Working 9 To 5 Anti-Ageing Hydration Cream (full size - RRP £7.99) 
The last product is an anti-ageing facial moisturiser from Laidbare which I've tried in the past, and sadly it's not for my skin type. As a general rule, my skin seems to love all the other Laidbare products, but this 9 To 5 Hydration Cream is just too rich and thick for my oily/combination skin, and would definitely suit dry and mature skin types much better, so I'll be passing this onto my mum.

LoveLula Beauty Box* is a monthly subscription box priced at £13.95 with free postage in the UK. Visit lovelula.com to find out more.

Have you subscribed to LoveLula's Beauty Box?

New In Beauty: My Favourites from CND Vinylux Nightspell & Glacial Illusion 2017 Collections - Review & Swatches

Monday, 20 November 2017

CND Vinylux Nightspell & Glacial Illusion Collections - Review & Swatches
If you hate nail polishes that just don't seem to last longer than two days before chipping, CND Vinylux Weekly Polish is the range for you! With a bold claim of lasting up to 7 days, I had to try some out for myself and was thrilled to see not one, but TWO, brand spanking new collections that they've launched recently.

Both of these new CND Vinylux collections are at the opposite ends of the colour spectrums, with the Glacial Illusion Collection being all delicate, creamy, icy cool tones and pale shimmers, and the Nightspell Collection comprising of mainly darker, moody and more intense, magical shimmers. Each collection boasts six shades each and I wanted to share some of my favourites because these are damn good nail polishes.  

CND Vinylux - Cashmere Wrap (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)
CND Vinylux - Cashmere Wrap (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)

I'm a sucker for a high-quality, creamy pale nude and Cashmere Wrap ticks all the right boxes. Perfect for a chic manicure that will see you through the Winter months and beyond. Applies smoothly in two easy coats (just ignore my messed up pinky nail - that'll teach me to try to rush taking photos when it starts to go dark at 4pm!).

CND Vinylux - Mystic Slate (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)
CND Vinylux - Mystic Slate (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)

My top pick from the Glacial Illusion Collection is this stunning shade called Mystic Slate. Even the name is cool, huh?! This cool toned grey-blue creme is absolutely beautiful and is neutral toned enough to go with lots of different outfits. Like Cashmere Wrap, this polish applied smoothly and evenly in just two coats.

CND Vinylux - Ice Bar (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)
CND Vinylux - Ice Bar (Glacial Illusion Collection 2017)

Glitter fans will love Ice Bar; a sheer pearlescent glitter with an interesting pink hue to it. It's impossible to photograph and looks a million times more mesmerizing in real life. This is one of those very sheer glitter polishes that definitely suits being a top coat glitter, rather than being built up and worn on its own (which isn't really achievable), so I've layered it here on top of Cashmere Wrap.

CND Vinylux - Eternal Midnight (Nightspell Collection)
CND Vinylux - Eternal Midnight (Nightspell Collection)

Another tricky to photograph shade is Eternal Midnight from the Nightspell Collection, and this one really looks special when the light catches it from different angles. A midnight blue with deep purple undertones and a spectacular duo-chromatic fine shimmer swirling through it, this is a fantastic option if you're looking to wear something darker and different this Winter. 

CND Vinylux - Hypnotic Dreams (Nightspell Collection)
CND Vinylux - Hypnotic Dreams (Nightspell Collection)

My favourite from both collections (and quite possibly my favourite new nail polish shade of the entire year!) is Hypnotic Dreams. My oh my! This rusty toned mega-shimmer has elements of bronze, purple, brown and a smidge of green. It applies sheer if you use two coats (see The Happy Sloths swatch here), but when layered over a brown or purple base, it really pops like you can see above where I've applied it over a dark brown shade. Hypnotic indeed!

Overall thoughts on the formula?
CND's Vinylux Weekly Polish have been specially formulated to be used with their Weekly Top Coat to provide up to 7 days of chip-resistant, vibrant colour. The Weekly Top Coat also delivers a glossy shine, and when your nails are exposed to natural light with this on it, help to ensure a longer-lasting manicure. So did it last 7 days? Not exactly as I saw some minor chipping start to happen around day 5, BUT I'm still impressed by this as many of my nail polishes only last 2-3 days max on me, so 5 days is definitely an achievement!

CND Vinylux Nightspell & Glacial Illusion Weekly Polishes* (15ml each) are currently on offer at Nail Polish Direct for £6.95 and £7.95 each. Shop the range here.  

What do you think of these new collections?

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Foodie Friday: Unboxing The Vegan Kind - November 2017 review

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Vegan Kind - November 2017 review
The Vegan Kind is one of my favourite foodie and lifestyle boxes, and it's a great way to try out a whole range of new and exciting products for a small monthly subscription fee. 

Everything in The Vegan Kind is suitable for vegans (so no dairy, no eggs, no animal ingredients of any kind etc) and I really enjoy the mix of food, drink, lifestyle, and sometimes beauty products, that they include in the boxes. I've been subscribed to them for almost two years now and they never disappoint, so let's jump right in and unbox November's TVK!

Fabulous Free From Factory Sea-Salted Chocovered Fudgee Bites
 Fabulous Free From Factory Sea-Salted Chocovered Fudgee Bites (65g, RRP £1.85)

I absolutely adore anything that's salted caramel flavour and these generously sized Fudgee Bites are made with hand-crafted sea-salted fudge which is covered in creamy dairy-free chocolate. So they're kinda like salted caramel and have a similar taste! As well as being dairy-free, these are also gluten-free and contain no hydrogenated fats, artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. They're super moreish and a real treat for when you have a sugar craving!

Big Boss Palm Coconut & Vanilla Soda
 Big Boss Palm Coconut & Vanilla Soda (250ml, RRP £2.29)

How pretty is the packaging for this soft drink? I haven't heard of Big Boss Palm before, but this is their Coconut & Vanilla Soda which is 99% sparkling coconut water, has no added sugar and contains all-natural ingredients and flavourings. I have to agree with the TVK on this one - it tastes very much like an adult version of cream soda - very sweet and bizarrely, it tastes a bit like a milkshake! I like it though as it's strangely refreshing and completely different from anything that I've tried before.

Good Hemp Hemp Flour
Good Hemp Hemp Flour (250g, RRP £5.49) 

This gluten and nut-free flour is an easy way to add extra protein, fibre and omega 3 to your home baking. You can use it in your cakes, breads, brownies, muffins and more, and as this flour is made from 100% natural hemp protein, you can rest assured that there are no other artificial ingredients in it. I love baking so I'm looking forward to trying this out.

 Holly's Lollies Raspberry Prosecco Lollipop
 Holly's Lollies Raspberry Prosecco Lollipop (85g, RRP £3.50)

Despite the fact that you can buy prosecco-flavoured everything these days, I was still pleasantly surprised to find a GIANT prosecco-flavoured lollipop in this month's box (and yes, it does contain actual prosecco!). Hollie's Lollies specialise in alcoholic confectionary and this lolly tastes amazing. It might take me a while to get through it all though!   

Astonish Rhubarb & Raspberry Antibacterial Handwash
 Astonish Rhubarb & Raspberry Antibacterial Handwash (500ml, RRP £1)

Antibacterial handwash may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but given how many bottles of it we get through in this house, I'll always happily welcome another! This one from Astonish has a delectable fruity Rhubarb & Raspberry scent and despite containing SLS, it doesn't feel drying on the hands after use. 

Landgarten Organic Coconut in Dark Chocolate
 Landgarten Organic Coconut in Dark Chocolate (50g, RRP £1.99)

Next up, I found a bag of freeze-dried organic coconut pieces which are covered in a delicious dairy-free dark chocolate. These are one of the latest vegan-friendly additions to the Landgarten range, and I really enjoyed them. As well as being organic, I was also pleased to see that this product is fairtrade too.
Eat Real Tomato & Basil Hummus Chips
Eat Real Tomato & Basil Hummus Chips (45g, RRP £0.70)

I'm a big fan of the Eat Real snacks and have purchased these Hummus Chips in a range of flavours including this tasty tomato and basil one. Made from all-natural ingredients, they're gluten and lactose-free and also contain 48% less fat than traditional potato crisps, but they are so yummy that you wouldn't even notice the difference! 

Also in the box: This month's recipe card by the Ginger Vegan is for some delicious looking Sticky Toffee Cupcakes, and November's chosen charity is Hugletts Wood Farm, who rescue farm animals and birds from the meat and dairy industry, giving them a new life on their sanctuary. Check out their Facebook page here for more info.

To find out more about The Vegan Kind, visit their website here. £10 + p&p each month in the UK, with worldwide shipping options available.

Have you signed up to The Vegan Kind?
What's your favourite, non-beauty lifestyle subscription box?

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Give Your Feet some TLC this Winter with Dr. Ceuticals

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Give Your Feet some TLC this Winter with Dr. Ceuticals
It's easy to forget about your feet when they're wrapped up in your cosiest pair of fluffy socks, but give them a little some TLC now, and you'll feel a million times more confident when it comes to slipping into your favourite pair of dancing shoes at your next Christmas Party!

I've tried a lot of footcare products over the years, and Dr. Ceuticals is one of those dermatological brands that many people (including myself) repeatedly go back to. They're not a natural brand, as most dermatological brands aren't, but they do have a decent percentage of natural ingredients in their formulas, and the synthetic ingredients are ones that I will happily tolerate on my stubborn to treat feet. Like the rest of my skin, my feet can get really dry very quickly, especially in the colder months, so I've been reaching for this superstar duo to help sort them out this year.

Dr. Ceuticals Pumice Foot Scrub* (150ml, £6.99, link)
This foot scrub is the next best thing if you don't like using things like files or those 'cheese grater' style devices on your feet! It's infused with Pumice to you an intense exfoliation which will remove hard dead skin and any rough patches easily, whilst Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter help to keep things nice and soft at the same time. It has a lovely minty scent thanks to the Peppermint Leaf Oil in the formula and rinses off easily, without any stickiness or residue. Soft, smooth feet in less than five minutes!

Dr. Ceuticals Cracked Heel Repair* (100ml, £9.99, link)
Cracked heels can be incredibly painful, especially if you have a job where you're on your feet all day, but thankfully this Cracked Heel Repair cream gets to work quickly to soothe and soften. Enriched with 25% Urea as it's key ingredient, it also contains Keratin and Shea Butter to deeply moisturise, nourish and help to repair damaged skin, making it soft and supple within just three days. Although the cream feels lightweight, I'd recommend only using a small amount of it as the formula is quite intensive, so a little definitely goes a long way. Like the scrub above, it has a pleasant, fresh Peppermint scent and it's one those products that helps to improve the texture of your feet in the long term. Very handy to have on your nightstand to apply before going to bed each night.

Dr. Ceuticals is currently in the Buy 1, get 2nd Half Price Offer at Boots, both in stores and online at boots.com

Are you a fan of Dr. Ceuticals?

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Introducing: Powder Beauty Drawer - November 2017 review

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Introducing: Powder Beauty Drawer - November 2017 review
You may have spotted this pale pink beauty drawer advertised in the glossy women's magazines, but I feel it's still one of those subscription boxes that has remained somewhat under the blogger radar when you compare it to the big boys like Glossybox and Birchbox

With this in mind, I wanted to feature Powder in my Introducing series for those who are looking for a new beauty box to try out - plus I really, really love the fact that the Powder 'box' is actually a pull-out drawer that you can stack and re-use, and it's a decent size too.

Powder is similar to other beauty boxes, but where most of the monthly beauty boxes send you four or five beauty treats, with Powder you'll receive up to seven products which will be a mix of full-size and samples from a range leading brands. The boxes are put together by a team of beauty experts (the company that runs Powder, Time Inc, also owns Marie Claire, InStyle etc), and they provide lots of additional tips and tricks on their website and with the accompanying leaflet, to help you to get the most out of the products included. Perfect for beauty beginners and anyone who loves trying out new launches!

Let's see what's inside the November Powder Beauty Drawer, shall we?

FaceInc by NailsInc Night Night Soothing Hydro Night Mask
 FaceInc by Nails Inc Night Night Soothing Hydro Night Mask (1 mask, RRP £5)

Night masks are becoming more and more popular, but I had no idea that Nails Inc had branched out into skincare?! Their FaceInc line is full of sheet masks and quick fix skincare treatments, where most of their products can be used in just 15 minutes. I used this Night Night Soothing Hydro Night Mask on Sunday night and loved how soft and nourished my skin felt on Monday morning. This Vitamin E enriched mask does a great job of plumping up the skin and giving it a moisture boost, so it will be ideal to use throughout the colder Winter months.

 Lottie London Nail Lacquer in Happy Hump Day
 Lottie London Nail Lacquer in Happy Hump Day (full size, RRP £5.99)

Inside this month's Powder, you'll receive a full-size Lottie London Nail Lacquer in one of seven different shades. I was really pleased that I got Happy Hump Day which is an awesome, blingtastic multi-coloured glitter with gold, silver, green and blue particles, all suspended in a sheer gel base. This nail polish is just screaming to be used for a Christmas party!

 HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner
 HASK Keratin Protein Smoothing Deep Conditioner (50ml, RRP £2.49)

Free from Sulphates, Parabens, Phthalates, Gluten, Alcohol and artificial colours, this Smoothing Deep Conditioner from HASK is formulated with Keratin Protein to strengthen and restore weak, dry and damaged hair. I've used it a few times in the past and it does a really good job of deeply hydrating frazzled hair that needs some TLC.  The generous 50ml sachet will happily provide two treatments for my hair so it's a very affordable option to use on a regular basis.

 The Organic Pharmacy Lip & Eye Cream
 The Organic Pharmacy Lip & Eye Cream (full size, RRP £26.95)

I'm a big fan of The Organic Pharmacy and have been wanting to try their Lip & Eye Cream for a while now, so thank you Powder! This rich and nourishing dual action cream is infused with the likes of Cranberry Seed Oil, Beeswax, Squalene Eyebright, Fennel, Bilberry and Frankincense, to reduce the appearance of puffiness, dark circles and fine lines. I will definitely try this on both my lips and eyes, but I think it could possibly work better as an eye cream for me as I have a lot of lip balms currently on the go - we shall see how this compares!

Brush Works HD Multi-Tasking Sponge
 Brush Works HD Multi-Tasking Sponge (RRP £6.49)

I always want to try out new makeup sponges and I love the look of this quirky, bright pink HD Multi-Tasking Sponge from Brush Works. It's soft and bouncy, with a pointed tip to blend concealer underneath the eyes and a flatter slanted edge to cover larger areas of the face. I used it this morning to apply my Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation and I was really impressed with it!   

Hugo Boss The Scent Intense For Her & For Him EDPs
Hugo Boss The Scent Intense For Her & For Him EDPs (1.5ml samples)

To finish off this month's Powder Beauty Drawer, I found two samples of Hugo Boss The Scent Intense (one for him, one for her) tucked away at the bottom of the white paper packaging. I've tried the female scent before and it's not my thing, so I'll be popping these two into a Christmas stocking for a friend to try out instead.

 Powder Beauty Drawer* is a beauty box subscription which costs £15 per month. To find out more and to subscribe, visit thisispowder.co.uk

Have you tried Powder?

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5 Products from B. to Add To Your Autumn/Winter Makeup Bag

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

5 Products from B. to Add To Your Autumn/Winter Makeup Bag
Want to give your makeup bag a seasonal update, but are on a budget? Head over to your nearest Superdrug and pick up these affordable, cruelty-free and vegan-friendly products from B.

B. Luminous Silk Lipstick in Suis Mois* (£6.99, link) and B. Velvet Matte Lipstick in Tainted* (£6.99, link)

One of the easiest ways to update your makeup bag for the new season is with a lipstick and B. have a fantastic range of lippies available in different shades and finishes. Their Luminous Silk Lipsticks are a firm favourite of mine because the formulas have Jojoba Oil in them, so they feel creamy, glide on effortlessly, have great colour payoff, and help to keep lips hydrated (a must at this time of the year!). From that range, I'd recommend the shade Suis Mois, which is one of those gorgeous, fuss-free, neutral pinks that you can quickly apply when you're in a rush in the morning. 

For something more vampy for an evening out, or an upcoming Christmas party, check out Tainted in the Velvet Mattes line. This stunning deep red ticks all the right boxes for a dramatic lip and has a comfortable, non-drying velvet matte texture. I wouldn't say it's a true matte as it still had a bit of a sheen to it, even when it had dried down, but the formula is lovely nonetheless and enriched with Shea Butter to keep dry lips at bay. 

B. Luminous Silk Lipstick in Suis Mois swatches review
B. Luminous Silk Lipstick in Suis Mois

B. Velvet Matte Lipstick in Tainted swatches review
 B. Velvet Matte Lipstick in Tainted

B. Powder Blusher in Darl review
 B. Powder Blusher in Darl* (6g, £7.99, link)

If you find that darker or berry coloured blushers don't suit you, opting for a medium-toned dusky pink can be much more flattering during Autumn and Winter. I've been wearing this B. Powder Blusher in Darl almost every day for a month now and I absolutely love how silky soft the powder is. It's so easy to blend and can be applied lightly or built up, depending on the look you're going for. Highly recommended if you're new to makeup or blushers, and want something that's foolproof to apply!

B. Pro Brow Styler in 02 Dark Brown* (£4.99, link), B. Kohl Eye Liner in 01 Black* (£4.99, link) and B. Glitter Pigment in Olive La Vida Loca* (£4.99, link)

A/W is a great time to experiment with a new look, so if you've always wanted to try out a bolder brow for example, why not try something like the budget-friendly B. Pro Brow Styler? Available in a range of shades, it comes with a slanted thin tip for feathering in some cheeky extra brow hairs in a way that looks very natural, and it also has a handly little spoolie brush on the other end to brush and style any wayward hairs. 

A good quality eyeliner is a must-have in my makeup bag and I've been loving the B. Kohl Eye liner in Black. This twist-up kohl liner is seriously pigmented (check out the swatch below!), long-lasting, smudge-proof, and applies smoothly without any dragging or pulling on the delicate eye area.

Lastly, I wanted to mention the B. Glitter Pigments which are an affordable way to add some Christmas sparkle to your party looks this year, and come in eight different colours. These loose pigments can be used to add a subtle or intense level of shimmer to your eyes, depending on how much you apply and whether you use them wet or dry. For a lighter look, I've swatched it dry below, but they're very easy to build up and really 'pop' when layered over an eyeshadow primer. I have the shade Olive La Vida Loca which is a beautiful olive green with golden shimmer - super wearable and so pretty for the festive season!

Swatches! From L-R: B. Glitter Pigment in Olive La Vida Loca, B. Powder Blusher in Darl, B. Velvet Matte Lipstick in Tainted, B. Luminous Silk Lipstick in Suis Mois, B. Pro Brow Styler in 02 Dark Brown & B. Kohl Eye Liner in 01 Black.

B. is exclusive to Superdrug, both in stores nationwide and online at superdrug.com

Have you tried anything from B.?

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Foodie Friday: How To Make A Reverse Advent Calendar for Your Local Food Bank #FoodBankAdvent

Friday, 10 November 2017

How To Make A Reverse Advent Calendar for Your Local Food Bank #foodbankadvent
The countdown to Christmas is well underway and like many, I'm looking forward to spending the festive season with my closest friends and family. I know that there will be presents, drinks and plenty of food for us to enjoy, so I'm joining in with #FoodBankAdvent to create a 'Reverse Advent Calendar' for my local food bank to help those who will have nothing to eat this Christmas.

My Background & Why I'm Joining In 
Five years ago, I started volunteering at my local Citizen's Advice Bureau (fondly known as 'CAB' and now renamed as simply Citizen's Advice) to get some work experience in Social Policy. I wasn't sure if this was an area that I wanted to study at degree level and a friend suggested that Citizen's Advice would be a good place to start, and she was right. They gave me a huge amount of free training and I gained a lot of knowledge across the whole board in a short space of time (and many friends as well!). Back then, Welfare Reform was still a relatively new concept and food banks were mostly unheard of.

This all rapidly changed in the years that followed. Very quickly, I began to see people come into Citizen's Advice with a brand new set of problems, stemming mostly from Welfare Reform and changes to how benefits were being assessed and paid. ESA (Employment & Support Allowance) and PIP (Personal Independence Payment) were the biggest issues, with a seemingly endless cycle of reassessments and appeals which left many very vulnerable, sick and disabled people without any money or support for months at a time. I started to document multiple cases of the gig economy and zero-hour contracts; I'd have to interview people who were at their wits end trying to juggle four or five different poorly paid jobs to make ends meets, and chase up employers who were illegally not paying them the National Minimum Wage.

I volunteered in both the Housing and Debt departments where I witnessed families being evicted, despite both parents being 'employed full-time' on zero hour contracts because some weeks they had work and other weeks they didn't have any. I wrote reports on single parents who were sanctioned for months at a time (left without any benefits or support) by the Job Centre for not looking for full-time work because they had to do the school run twice a day.

It's not just about people on benefits though. Citizen's Advice is one of the first local places that someone goes to when they have a big change in their lives and they can't cope or need advice on how to deal with what's happened. I've spoken to many people over the years and the main factors are always relationship breakdown/divorce, alcohol/drug abuse, domestic violence, disability or illness, unemployment or insecure employment, a new baby and bereavements. When you go through one of these, your whole life can be turned upside down and anyone can start to have money problems as a result which can lead to not being able to afford basics such as food and rent.

Things have sadly only gotten worse and now, millions of households in the UK rely on food banks for emergency food parcels. If food banks didn't exist, I strongly believe that the Government would allow these people to starve and we've already seen several cases of preventable deaths which have occurred because of Welfare Reform and the rollout of Universal Credit, where claimants are expected to wait six weeks before they receive their first payment. Six weeks! Imagine having no money for food, rent, heating etc for six weeks! Only recently, it was reported in the news that a man died in hunger whilst waiting for his first Universal Credit payment (here), and a mother of four died in her freezing flat after she missed an appointment due to being in hospital which led to her benefits being stopped (here).

These are just some of the reasons why I'm joining in with UK Money Bloggers to create a reverse advent calendar for my local food bank. I donate to my local one once a month, but for those who haven't donated before, Christmas is the perfect time to start! Referrals to food banks go through the roof during this time of the year, as many people have to choose between heating their home or feeding themselves and their families, so supplies are needed to meet this increased demand. It's also the season of sharing and giving, and a great way to teach children about these important values.

What's A Reverse Advent Calendar & Where Do I Drop It Off? 
With an advent calendar, you open up a door and get a chocolate or a gift, so with a reverse advent calendar, you PUT something into it, instead of taking something out. Easy! The idea behind the Food Bank Advent is that you get a large box and put an item into it every day during November, and then drop it off at your local food bank or supermarket collection point so that it can be sorted and distributed to those who need them, ready for Christmas. Find your nearest Trussell Trust food bank here

What Can I Put Into It?
The biggest organisation that runs most of the food banks in the UK is called The Trussell Trust, but there may be a different charity or organisation in your local area, so do a quick google search to see what comes up. To give some examples, in my area The Trussell Trust has a list of products that they need which includes:-
  • Long Life Fruit Juice
  • Pasta Sauces
  • Tinned Fish & Meat
  • UHT Milk
  • Instant Coffee
  • Instant Mashed Potato
  • Cereals
  • Condiments
  • Herbs & Spices
  • Tinned Soup
  • Tinned Vegetables like Tomatoes, Peas, Beans
  • Tinned Fruit
  • Tinned Pudding
  • Biscuits / Chocolates
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Savoury & Sweet Treats
  • Feminine Hygiene (sanitary pads/tampons etc)
  • Personal Hygiene (toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss, mouthwash, disposable razors etc)
  • Toiletries (deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel etc)
  • Baby Products (non-formula baby food, nappies, wipes etc)
  • Pet Foods

What I've Added So Far & Tips If You're On A Budget
Currently in my Food Bank Advent box, I've included a pack of disposable razors (£1), a bottle of shampoo (£1), a can of deodorant (99p), a pack of sanitary pads (66p), a tin of soup (59p), a tin of spaghetti hoops (49p), a bag of pasta (45p), two tins of fruit salad (39p each) and a tube of Smarties (free with a cashback app).

If you'd like to join in, but you're on a budget, here are a couple of tips:-
  • Own-brand supermarket products are very cheap, especially for basics like pasta, beans, and toiletries/sanitary items.
  • Big discounters like Aldi, Lidl and Poundland are also super cheap places to pick up products.
  • Cashback shopping apps often give you random weekly freebies so grab them and pop them into the box - it's not going to cost you anything!
  • Check your own cupboards at home - food banks will take anything that's in date so if you have a tin of soup that you're not going to get around to eating before it goes off, or an unopened jar of pasta sauce that you picked up on a BOGOF offer and didn't like, donate them.
  • Christmas is an expensive time so if you can't spare anything now, why not give something in the New Year? Your donations will be just as welcome at any time of year.

Overall Thoughts
I really shouldn't be writing this post, no one should have to donate anything, and food banks shouldn't even exist. The UK is one of the wealthiest countries in the world - why the hell do we have this problem?! I completely blame the Government and their hideously callous social policies which allow the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society to go hungry and suffer. I have no doubt that a change of Government will happen soon, but until then, food banks are required to provide the bare essentials to those who have absolutely nothing. Let's show others the compassion and humanity that's so badly needed right now - we are better than this Government, let's help.

"In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of." - Confucius
"In a country well governed then poverty is something to be ashamed of, in a county badly governed then wealth is something to be ashamed of", Confucius.
"In a country well governed then poverty is something to be ashamed of, in a county badly governed then wealth is something to be ashamed of", Confucius.

For more information about The Trussell Trust & their campaign to stop UK hunger, visit trusselltrust.org

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Cold Weather Skincare: 6 Natural Products To Try for Eczema & Dry Skin

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Cold Weather Skincare: 6 Natural Products To Try for Eczema & Dry Skin
Despite enjoying hot baths and cosy nights in, I'm definitely more of a Summer person and I really hate it when the weather gets cold! I swear one day that I'll finally take the plunge and move to somewhere that's mild and sunny all year round, but until then, I'll be relying on my arsenal of cold weather saviours to help save my skin.

As many of you already know, I've had eczema since as I was a child and I always find that seasonal changes in the weather have a tendency to provoke a flare-up, with the worst ones always arriving at this time of the year. Cold weather (and central heating) can also exacerbate any dry skin problem, so I wanted to share some of the products that I've found helpful in managing my own eczema and dry skin complaints. 

Quick disclaimer: I fully understand that everyone's skin is different and that some people may have allergies or reactions to certain ingredients that don't irritate me, so these products may not work for everyone in the same way. I also always recommend doing a patch test before slathering your whole body in a new product if you have sensitive skin, but I'm sure most people already do this :)

Cold Weather Skincare: 6 Natural Products To Try for Eczema & Dry Skin
Weleda Almond Sensitive Skin Body Lotion* (200ml, £14.50, link)
This sensitive skin body lotion from Weleda is pH balanced and contains Organic Almond Oil, Glycerin, Squalene and Beeswax to protect and defend the skin from the worst of the elements. I find it incredibly gentle and lightweight, absorbing quickly without any greasy or sticky feeling afterwards. Instead, my skin feels silky soft and smooth, as well as thoroughly hydrated. It does contain a small amount of fragrance (derived naturally from essential oils) that's the last ingredient in the inci list, which gives this body lotion a lovely subtle fresh scent and doesn't irritate my skin. 

Pure Potions Skin Salvation Intensive Moisturising Ointment* (30ml, £7.99, link)
Don't be put off by the slightly unappetising natural colour of this ointment, because this little tub is a soothing superstar! Developed by a mother who wanted to treat her daughter's chronic eczema in a more natural way without having to rely on steroid creams, Pure Potions was ultimately born and is now trusted and used by thousands of eczema sufferers. Skin Salvation is perhaps their most well-known product and the one that I've used for years. It's an incredibly thick and rich formula made from 100% natural ingredients such as Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Safflower Oil, Hemp Seed Oil and plant extracts, which really help to soothe any kind of eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and dry skin problem. A little goes a long way and you can apply it anywhere and everywhere to provide instant relief and long-term moisturising benefits.

Cold Weather Skincare: 6 Natural Products To Try for Eczema & Dry Skin
Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream* (30ml, £8.99, link)
This multi-purpose, all-natural, steroid-free cream has an interesting water-free formula which means that it can be naturally free of preservatives. In this jar, you'll find a wonderfully thick and rich moisturiser that's made from a blend of Cold Pressed Almond Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Cold Pressed Apricot Kernel Oil, Borage Oil, Vitamin E, and the star ingredient, 2% Calendula extract. It also contains Lavender, Frankincense, Juniper and Geranium essential oils which all have their different natural properties to benefit the skin. Like the Pure Potions Skin Salvation, you can use this  Lyonsleaf Calendula Cream anywhere and you only need a tiny amount each time to soothe away redness and any kind of irritation.

Laidbare Butter Me Up Organic Shea Body Butter* (250ml, £14.99, link)
If your skin can tolerate some natural fragrance from essential oils, Laidbare's Butter Me Up Body Butter is one of my favourite pampering treats to use after a bath or shower when my skin needs some TLC and I want it to smell good! The body butter is packed full of ingredients such as Shea Butter, Avocado Oil, Cocoa Butter and Rosehip Oil, to deeply hydrate dry skin, leaving it as soft as a baby's bum afterwards. It also smells heavenly thanks to an all-natural fragrance composed of Jasmine, Bergamot, Patchouli and Vetiver essential oils - so relaxing and uplifting at the same time!

Cold Weather Skincare: 6 Natural Products To Try for Eczema & Dry Skin
Organii Argan Shower Gel* (300ml, £5.95, link)
For bath and body products, I always recommend using SLS-free formulas because my skin usually suffers whenever I use something that contains sulphates as they are often far too harsh and stripping for sensitive and dry skin. Organii have a great range of affordable SLS-free shower gels which are also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. I've been enjoying using their Argan Shower Gel that's enriched with Argan Oil for a quick and easy shower that doesn't upset my skin.

Konjac Sponge Co Red Clay Body Sponge* (£11.99, link)
Lastly, for this feature, I wanted to include one of my beloved Konjac Sponges. A lot of people use plastic-based based loofahs in the shower to cleanse their bodies with, but I always find them to be too scratchy, so when I discovered Konjac Sponges a few years ago, they completely changed my bathroom routine! These innovative sponges are made entirely from the Konjac plant, so they're biodegradable and can be composted when they're worn out (they usually last for 3-4 months if you look after them properly). The Konjac Sponge Co have a huge variety of them, but I particularly love their Red Clay Body Sponge which is infused with Red Clay to help boost circulation for glowing, hydrated skin. Great for mature, dry and sensitive skin types, these sponges are such a pleasure to use as they're wonderfully soft and can be used on their own or with a small amount of your favourite shower gel.

What are your favourite products for treating dry skin and eczema? 

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Mid-Week Pamper: New Superdrug We Love Face Masks range

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Superdrug We Love Face Masks
Calling all face mask fans! Superdrug has just launched a new range of affordable own-brand face masks to get your complexion looking its best for the upcoming party season. Time for a cheeky mid-week pamper anyone?

Superdrug We Love Face Masks
Packaged in cute little tubs, the new range of Superdrug face masks are inspired by superfoods and wholesome kitchen ingredients. They're not 100% natural, but they do feature several key natural actives, are parabens free, vegan-friendly and, like the rest of Superdrug's own brand products, are certified cruelty-free

There are six masks in this new range, with different formulas for a variety of skin types and concerns. I've had the pleasure of trying out three of them over the past few weeks, so here are my thoughts!
Superdrug We Love Face Masks
Superdrug We Love Face Masks
Best for Oily, Congested & Blemish Prone Skin Types: Superdrug Charcoal Face Mask
Charcoal has been a main feature in the beauty spotlight this year, as more and more people have found out about its natural purifying properties and its ability to do everything from drawing out stubborn impurities in the skin to helping to whiten your teeth! In this face mask, Charcoal Powder is combined with the likes of Natural Kaolin Clay, Glycerin and Shea Butter to give the skin a really thorough deep cleanse, helping to detox and clarify for a clearer and brighter complexion. I really like this mud mask as it works well when my skin is feeling congested, but doesn't make it feel stripped or tight afterwards.

Best for Tired & Dull Skin Types: Superdrug Coffee Face Mask
Like a much-needed caffeine fix first thing in the morning, this face mask utilises the natural properties of Kaolin Clay and Coffee Seed Powder to help perk up a dull and tired complexion in just 15 minutes. This is the sort of mask that I would reach for the morning after a long night before - an excellent quick fix for hungover skin that needs some urgent revitalising!

Best for Dry & Dehydrated Skin Types: Superdrug Coconut Face Mask*  
If your skin is starting to feel the drying effects of the colder weather combined with indoor central heating, try the Coconut mask. This creamy tropical treatment will provide a much-needed boost of moisture to help to soften, smooth and rehydrate your skin when it's feeling parched. The only downside is that this mask does contain Mineral Oil (the others above don't), so perhaps have a look at the others in the range if that's something that you choose to avoid.

Superdrug We Love Face Masks* (75ml, £4.99 each) are available exclusively at Superdrug stores nationwide.

Have you tried any of these yet?

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