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The post man didn't get this months LoveLula Beauty Box* to me until today (talk about last minute) so I've been studiously avoiding all mentions of it and blog posts so as not to spoil the surprise of the goodies inside.
Finally I can take a look and share what lovely little bits are inside:

120ml
I've really been enjoying PHB products lately, but due to the quirk almost vintage packaging, I genuinely didn't realise this was a PHB product until I looked a little closer. I'm going to be honest and say that this product kinda scares me a little bit. The strong scent, the gel/jelly like texture and the  slightly off colour all combine to create the most bizarre product I have ever come across. The jury is out on this one until I work up the never to try it out! This is partly the reason I love beauty boxes like this LoveLula one, they present you with products you would never usually go for. 

10ml
Probably my most favourite of all bath oils. I have used up several bottles of this wonderful potion before and it's so fun and cool to be able to have a tiny shot bottle that I can take with me to pop in a bath while on my travels. This bath lotions cures everything from stress, sore muscles, cramps, colds and headaches and can both pep me up and relax me. Truly a miracle worker. I think I love this month's box just for this!

75ml
So interesting to come across Humble products, as a kid I always admired Kate Humble so it will be nice to discover her natural beauty range. You can never go wrong with a hand cream, although this one isn't my personal favourite when it comes to scent. I think what most attracts me to the brand is their environmental stance, it's great to have natural products but even better with those focused on being eco and environmentally friendly. The Beauty Miles concept is a really great aspect of the brand.

15ml
Another Ooh! product that has popped up in the beauty box in the past few months. Again this is another reason that I like having a beauty box because you can try a whole range of products from one brand, which you might not ordinarily do. 

 MADARA HYDRA MASK 
12.5ml
Again another brand that pops up in the box every few months. I am currently obsessed with a Madara product and have been trawling my stash for more of them. This one is very welcome- who doesn't love a good face mask on a Sunday evening for a end of week pamper?

This month's box was a good one as it provided me with brands and products that I both love and am challenged by or are new to me. It's got a great balance. My only other thoughts are that again it is all skincare focused and I would like to see a few more makeup or nail polish or even accessories pop up a bit more, just to change things up a bit.

LOVELULA BEAUTY BOX // NOVEMBER 2016


Everyone it has landed: Black Friday sales! 

Now I am aware that today is Thursday, but the lovely LoveLula team have let all of us LLBAP members share our black Friday code with you early! The sale officially runs from Saturday 19 November until the 30 November BUT the code will be active from TODAY.

To get amazing deals on LoveLula.com simply type the code: FRIDAY in at the checkout and you'll get a super 15% off!

There's a few things not included in the Black Friday sale on LoveLula:

1. LoveLula Beauty Box Subscriptions 
2. Gift Vouchers
3. Items already on SALE

Other than that, run wild with your virtual shopping basket!

Just in case you missed it the code you need is: 
Happy shopping!

BLACK FRIDAY SALES WITH LOVELULA!


I am not a winter person. I don't like being cold. Sure, I love the crisp autumn leaves, snuggly jumpers, being cosy inside while it rains outside, but in between all that, it's just not my season. I'm a summer baby through and through and one of my bad habits that gets triggered in winter is junk eating. We're talking always wanting hot meals, stodgy dishes, carbs, cheese and salty fatty foods. I'm pretty sure there must be some genetic reason for this, fattening up for winter and whatnot, but, while it might feel great at the time, all this ends up leaving me feeling more sluggish and lethargic. So it's time for me to whip out my favourite recipe books and eat myself through winter in a much healthier way. Meals can still be hot, stodgy and carby, they just don't have to be chockablock full of all the crap.

My three go-to recipes books are all well within the 'healthy lifestyle' category and are all chosen for their real, down to earth and feasible recipes focusing on a balanced eating (note no use of the often misused word 'diet'). There's a few books within my stash that are just not designed for the average person with a typical lifestyle, full of recipes with ingredients that have to be  sourced from places like outer Mongolia and cost a years worth of wages (yes, I'm looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow) but these three are tried and tested for even the busiest lifestyle and tightest budget.

 EAT SMART 
I'm not really one to be running out and buying all the Youtube merch (no shade!) but I've been following Niomi since she transformed her diet and have always enjoyed her recipes and food videos.  So when Niomi released this book a few months back I thought I'd give it a shot.
This recipe book is vegan /plant-based and have a lot of great recipes that really are easy, quick and pretty delicious. Some recipes aren't that different from in other books, but they mostly have a new twist on them that I like. Sometimes the recipes are simpler and more suitable to my life with ingredients that I can get hold of more readily. The best part is that there are a lot of hearty warming dishes which is ideal for me in the winter.

 HONESTLY HEALTHY 
The first book released by Natasha Corrett. This book is my slightly 'fancier' recipe book, in here there are dishes that require a little bit more sourcing of ingredients, and a bit more pre-planning and I'll go to this if I have a bit more time to 'prepare' a meal rather than 'rustle up' a meal. This book is different in that it is focused on an alkaline diet, balancing out the PH of your body especially your digestive system. It is mostly plant-based but not vegan as it includes cheese and eggs in recipes. Honestly Healthy provides a lot of pre-information on nutrition and digestion, ingredients, portion sizes and food combining. It's ideal to understand why the meals are made up the way they are and why/how they benefit you. I'm keen to get more of the Honestly Healthy books to see what other recipe gems they offer!
NB: I've had this book for so long that I've lost the cover slip so please excuse the cover title embellishment that I added post-production!

 DELICIOUSLY ELLA ~ EVERY DAY 
This is Ella Woodward's second book. I have her first which I love and bought based on her amazing blog. While the first book was a fantastic introduction to her style of vegan/ plant-based eating and provided in-depth tips and guidance on ingredients, food storing, cooking and prep, this one is more recipe packed. The recipes in the book are much more applicable to a busy lifestyle and again provide satisfying and easy to make recipes that also consciously avoid gluten as well as all animal derivatives, products and by-products. I would recommend both books! 

My top advice for using any of these books, is firstly go through and make a list of all the dry goods and staples then do a huge order. It may be expensive for this one shop, but things like rice last a long time and the cost will be justified over time when you're not having to repurchase staples repeatedly. 
Secondly prep, set aside and hour on a Sunday of Wednesday and pre-chop and cook up the building blocks of dishes you want to eat in the following days. Once you do it enough it will soon become routine and habit and you'l be whipping up dishes in no time!
All of these books actively avoid meat in the recipes but if you do feel the need to add meat, it would be easy to do so to any of the recipes. 

There's a few other books that I've got my eye on and on my amazon wish list including: The Healthy Life by Jessica Sepel, Get The Glow & Ready Steady Glow by Madeleine Shaw, Clean Eating Alice The body Bible by Alice Liveing and more! If there's any of these you think are a must have let em know, or suggest others I might not know about!

Eating my way through winter

Ever wondered how some natural toothpastes compare up against other natural toothpastes?...erm no, no probably not. But I have. Ergo this post. 
To save a whole bunch of singular toothpaste reviews or one epic lengthy written review, I've summarised my feelings about a few toothpastes I've used over the past year (surprisingly quite a big stash!). They're pretty much in order of preference, but they included the specs about each one (though some where impossible to find info on) and whether it is a paste or gel, contains fluoride or fluoride free. Rating out of 5 on Taste, Texture, Whitening effectiveness and Fresh Breath. 
1 = bad, 5 = excellent.

(For more info on the other specs, check this SPECS PAGE)
So there you have it, a quick skim summary of 10 different natural toothpastes! Any recommendations for toothpastes I should try next?

Natural Toothpaste round-up

It's that time of the month again where I get a super exciting parcel land on my desk! This months instalment of the LoveLula box* has arrived!

This month's box arrived with 5 skincare products with a value of over £40, including the brands John Masters, PHB, REN, Bon Natural and Barefoot SOS.
Let's take a look at the products:

NB: if you're not sure what any of the specs labels mean, click on the specs bar and it will take you to the specs key page which outlines all the details of the specs and costs.
 BAREFOOT SOS NOURISHING CLEANSING CREAM 
(125ml)
So glad to get a cleanser in this box, and a full sized one no less. Lately I've been using up small samples and my skins not overly happy about the repetitive changes. I've heard and read great things about Barefoot SOS as a brand so I have high expectations. The ingredients list is as long as my arm, chockablock full of oils and extracts so it will be really interesting to see how powerful a cleanser this is and what benefits it has for my poor skin.


 BON NATURAL PURE TISSUE OIL 
(5ml)
I have never come across Bon Natural before. To me this Pure Tissue Oil sounds the the natural alternative to BioOil. I have very very bad tiger stripe stretch marks so they should but this oil through it's paces! The ingredients look exactly as I would expect from a scar oil; Rosehip, Grapeseed and Tocopherol (Vitamin E) so I'm not sure how much it will out shine any other scar oil I've tried. Plus oils like this require time and this sample is so tiny. We will have to see!

 REN FLASH HYDRO-BOOST 
(10ml)
I'm sure I wasn't the only person to do a mini fist pump when I spotted this in the box! Massive love for REN as a brand, and I get on really well with their products. The application of the product is really intriguing, not a method I've used before so I'm an eager beaver to get trying this. Especially after a late night or an early morning when my face needs a bit of a sprucing!

 JOHN MASTERS LIP CALM  - ORIGINAL
(4g)
I always associate JM with haircare so to get a Lip Balm in the box from JM was a nice surprise. I'm a lip balm hoarder! There's a lot of citrus oils packed into this balm and to begin with it tastes incredible, like key lime pie or a lemon cheesecake, but after a bit it takes on a slightly rubber-like taste. Nothing too horrible though. First impressions are looking good, (i'm wearing it as I type this.)Also it is USDA certified organic. 


 PHB NATURAL SOAP - ROSEHIP & LEMONGRASS
(100g)
Again a brand I associate with other products, namely makeup in this case with PHB. I used to hate bars of soap. However we've been using one instead of a liquid soap for over a year now and have been converted a bit! The timing is perfect as our old one is on its last legs and this is all lined up to be it's replacement. I'm looking forward to using this as I reckon it will be a lot less stripping and more hydrating than my old one due to the coconut and olive oils blended in with the rosehip. Double points for it being palm oil free!

What do you think of this months LoveLula beauty box?

LOVELULA BEAUTY BOX // OCTOBER



Probably not the most exciting post, and not one you were expecting, but an important post nonetheless.  I love showers, much more than baths if I'm honest. Showers get me up in the morning, they make me feel clean and fresh and full of vitality...healthy. But what if they aren't actually that healthy?

This is something I've been thinking on for a while whether to write about or not. The topic first crept into my mind when I desperately needed a shower curtain replacement in my flat. I popped to the local shop and ended up with a choice between a garish patterned affaire that cost as much as a cinema trip for two or a plain white one that was cheap as chips. Obviously I scooped up the latter and thought to myself 'cheap and cheerful, it'll do!' Then I got it home and whipped open the packet, immediately I was assailed with a slap in the face wave of plastic stink and it set alarm bells clanging in the back of my mind.

As you can imagine, that smell is quite the indicator of things not being at all that healthy. Reason being was this shower curtain was made from pure PVC (Polyvinyl chloride). PVC is one of the most toxic plastics out there, and this innocent looking but deathly stinking PVC shower curtain was off-gassing up a storm in my bathroom. I did a bit of research on this and everywhere you get the same scary figures. My one little curtain could have been off-gassing up to 108 different chemicals or VOCs (volatile organic compounds), some of which are classed as unsafe at certain levels in indoor spaces and most of which can stick around for up to a month! Oh and some of those chemicals, such as this old nut which we've all come across before - Phthalates - well they can be release even more in warm conditions. I'm betting that like me you like your showers hot rather than cold? Yah.

That shower curtain didn't last a day. After some research I found some better shower curtain alternative ideas such as:

Hemp // While not at all waterproof, hemp is said to be both quick drying and have it's own natural anti-mildew properties. It's also able to be grown organically and is considered very eco-friendly. Sounds swell! The problem... cripplingly expensive. We're talking about £60 for a shower curtain people - not to mention hard to find!

Cotton // Cotton seems like the next best alternative, best if you opt for an organic one. Cotton doesn't have the benefits of being mildew resistant but that can be tackled with frequent washing. Depending on the thickness, this would effect the drying time as obviously again this would not be water-resistant.  Again we're looking at a steep price tag and limits availability.

Linen // This one runs along the same lines as cotton but also has the typical crumpled effect that linen takes on after the merest of movement. Again expensive and hard to source.

(Side Note: I actually came across a handy but non-vegan tip to waterproof fabric curtains- beeswax, melt it down paint it all over your fabric. Hey-presto waterproof fabric curtain. I'm tempted to try it, but I imagine it takes a heck of a lotta beeswax, at cost...)

Polyester // This is the option that I settled for. Not the most toxic-free option but nowhere nearly as nail bitingly bad as PVC. Polyester is obviously a form of plastic, but it doesn't off-gass and doesn't contain chlorine etc. It isn't waterproof but dries in a flash. It's easy to wipe down and rinse in the washing machine to tackle mildew and mould.

Nylon // Pretty much on the same level as Polyester, however it tends to absorb more water and take longer to dry out. Also sometimes they may be treated with water repellant chemicals to counteract this which may lead to more VOCs.

PEVA/EVA // The least favourable of all the options as again these are made from petrochemicals (polyethylene vinyl acetate and ethylene vinyl acetate) and they can still produce a bit of off-gassing. However they are chlorine-free which makes them better than PVC as the off-gassing is considerably reduced.

Out of cost limits and availability I've made sure that I've got a polyester shower curtain. While not the best option it still means I can rest a little easier knowing that I'm not filling my tiny flat with all sorts of unknown chemicals. Personally I would ideally like a glass door shower but considering I'm renting and don't have this option, this is the best option for now.

Will you be checking your shower curtain next time you pop into your bathroom?

Is your shower curtain toxic?

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