I have anxiety. Easy enough for me to type/ say that now but all my life it's been something that I've had to battle with right from a very small child. I didn't 'know about anxiety' or realise I had it until my early twenties. Up until then I thought I was just... I dunno I just thought I was not good at life like everyone else was. I have also always had OCD tendencies and nervous habits/ticks. In my mid-teens I went on the pill as we thought it was my hormones, and it 'seemed' to help. But by the time I was in 6th form college (about 17yrs) it was full blown and I was hiding it from everyone which made it worse. Despite several meltdowns at school I still never 'understood' what was wrong. I knew it wasn't right as no-one else seemed to be that way but I just thought I was weird and a big scaredy cat! In fact I'm pretty sure all my family thought I was just a very nervous and odd child. I was an odd child. It's a family joke, my brother always say he doesn't know how I've turned out so well given how odd I was.

I think despite still struggling with anxiety regularly, I have turned out well, because I've been working at it so so hard, everyday. 
Every. Single. Day. 
Week after week, month after month, year after year. I could write a thousand blog posts on how I've been working on controlling, tackling, managing, coping with, preventing and healing (etc etc) my anxiety, OCD, nervous habits and everything that comes with it. But today I want to focus on the newest aspect of my life that has helped me make the biggest and best leap in my life. The one that has been the quickest, easiest and most comfortable method for me - Meditation. 
In particular a programme called MINDSPO.
I've dabbled in plenty of meditation in the past, but I never felt comfortable with it. Didn't think I 'could do it', didn't 'get it'. Now I know I just hadn't found the right programme for me. I came across MINDSPO after following the gorgeous YouTuber Rochelle Fox. As someone who struggles with anxiety etc, her channel is all about positivity and health, and being real, open and honest which I love. Not long after she started videos regularly she started talking about meditation. Talking about it in a way I connected with. No cliches, just a very modern, easy approach. First came a 5 minute video which I watched and practiced over and over again and realised the potential of meditation for me. And then Rochelle along with her partner Chris, launched MINDSPO as a full course and I signed up the day it launched. 
MINDSPO is a very modern and cool and fun and accepting course that runs over a month. You get heaps of information videos and 4 weeks of meditation guides that start you from the very beginning to progress from 5 mins to 10 mins, 15 and eventually the optimum 20 minute meditation session. Rochelle narrates and guides you through every video, from the info videos to the actual meditation sessions. Once you've bought the course, you have it for life and can even download the audio files onto your phone etc so you can meditate anywhere anytime, which I've done and found invaluable.

At first meditation can be hard to get to grips with, you're always thinking 'am i doing this right?' but that's the beauty of MINDSPO, Rochelle talks openly about that and so many other things that you might be struggling with. There is no 'perfection', no 'right or wrong', it's an open and accepting course that lets you just do it without any worry and soon enough you find you're meditating for 20 mins and it feels like the most refreshing moment of your life.

Meditating 'with' Rochelle/MINDSPO has helped me in so many many ways. My anxiety is dramatically less frequent and less intense when it does occur. My mind is always so much clearer and more centred. It doesn't seem to buzz and hum and whiz about so much in a bundle of stress. When I have a stressful situation I find I can more easily step back from the situation or simply be  calmer and more rational during it than before. Previously my mind would freak, I would sweat, tears would come to my eyes and I'd breath too heavily and occasionally have full blown panic attacks. FYI I haven't had one single panic attack since meditating daily. Honest truth. 
My OCD is well under control, I can identify it so easily now. I used to have lulls and be fine then get stressed (whether I knew I was stressed or not) and it would trigger my habits to full scale. Now I can identify those feelings, that need for control and accept it but also accept that it isn't necessary. I'm not saying I'm 'perfect' or 'cured' but I'm in control and I'm ok with it. 

That's a huge change that meditation has brought to me - acceptance. Part of my internal stress with anxiety etc came from myself. Hating myself because I didn't think I was 'normal', thought I was stupid, pathetic, weak, weird. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I would mentally beat myself up over and over and over. That obviously would make my situation worse, but the worse I was the worse I beat myself up. A vicious circle. Meditation made me realise that I am none of those things. Made me realise that in actual fact, the very fact that I have got through so much in my life despite my anxiety, despite not knowing what the hell was going on in my mind and why it was, I still got through it, sometimes I blooming exceeded despite everything. Meditation has taught me to be kind to myself, accepting of myself and more open and honest with others. This in itself  has taken away a huge chunk of stress. Meditation has taught me control, and the fact that I can have control, without being over the top about it. At the same time it's taught me that I don't always have to have that control over some things, I will be just fine letting things flow.

With meditation I sleep better, enjoy moment sin life more, don't over analyse situations before and after they happen. I laugh more and pretend to be 'ok' less. i'm more open and free to saying 'yes' to things. I'm also so much braver about things like being personal on this blog. I could go on and on about the positive effects but I think you get the picture...the benefits are HUGE & ENDLESS!

MINDSPO and meditation has taught me so much already and I know I still have A LONG WAY TO GO but the change in me is pretty profound and I know that I always have MINDSPO as my guide. I know it sounds strange to credit so much to a course that on the surface doesn't seem to 'have much to it' other than sitting and 'not thinking' but honestly it is SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT. A million trillion times more than that. It both gives you so much and helps you take away so much. The only way to understand is to try it yourself, commit, be open minded and try.

I've written the post purely motivated by my experience and have no affiliation with Rochelle or MINDSPO at all, other than the fact that I LOVE the course. I paid for the course myself with my own money and I would recommend it to anyone who hasn't managed to find a meditation course that they have clicked with yet. The latest MINDSPO course is now open to sign up to and I believe there is even a cheeky discount available, so take advantage. MINSPO is not expensive at all but every penny helps.

Check out MINDSPO: website- https://mindspo.com Instagram & Facebook -@mindspo #mindspo
Check out Rochelle: Instagram & Twitter - @rochelle_fox

I want to do another post on meditation that looks into it a bit more about techniques I've learnt etc so let me know if you'd be interested in that too. Happy meditating!

Self-Care Sunday // Meditation ~ Mindspo

Personally when I first started exploring natural beauty it was for purely selfish reasons. I didn't want to be pumping crap into my body. Over time though I realised that often what was bad for me was also bad for the environment. I think due to my upbringing I've always been quite an eco-minded person, but this has definitely become more of focus and conscious aspect of my life since I made the switch. In the industry as well there is certainly more of a focus on making products that are both less toxic for humans and for our earth, which makes everything that much easier. More and more these days packaging is becoming more eco friendly, more paper and glass and less of the 'beast' in beauty - plastic. 

The 'war on plastic' is doing wonders, most plastic used these day in green/natural beauty products is recyclable and often made from recycled plastic, as are products such as razors and toothbrushes. Plastic windows in packaging are being swapped for biodegradable veggie cellulose windows and brush handles made with sustainably sourced bamboo or cork (research on these is key as it's not always sustainable) Plastic micro-beads are being given the boot. Heck even bikinis these days are being made out of recycled plastic. But there's still some areas where plastic creeps in and gets over-looked. Cotton buds, Q-tips, Baby Gays, Cotton Swabs - whatever you call them we all know what they are and use them for a large variety of reasons, beauty, cleaning, personal hygiene etc etc. But often we don't consider that those tiny sticks of plastic can be adding up to cause big trouble for our environment, polluting our rivers and seas, poisoning wildlife and ending up back in our food. Scary. 

For a long time now I've made a conscious effort to recycle my cotton bud sticks (a task both time consuming & a bit gross), only to find out a few months ago that they are non-recyclable! Genuinely you can't recycle them. Doh! Clearly I wasn't as green as I thought & I wasted time and effort for nothing. So to clean up my act I went a few months without using any cotton buds at all - I figured that I could easily get by without them. Unfortunately I realised that without them I was more wasteful in other ways, overusing and wasting cotton wool and tissues. 

My salvation came in the form of Organyc 100% Organic Cotton Buds*. As the name suggests the buds are made from 100% certified (by GOTS & ECOCERT) organic cotton which is one of the most environmentally friendly option out there for cotton. The stems are made from recyclable cardboard as is all the of the external packaging. What isn't recyclable is biodegradable. How do these compare to other cotton buds in terms of use? They are exactly the same! They do the exact same thing as traditional cotton buds do, the buds feel just as soft and the stems just as sturdy. It's a win win situation, they perform just as well while being better for the environment and potentially ourselves was well as there's been no contact with pesticides or bleach/chlorine.

Since making more of a conscious effort with my cotton buds I've come across two great UK projects that focus on tackling the plastic cotton bud situation. The first project I came across was The Cotton Bud Project and most recently the #SwitchTheStick campaign. Both want to tackle the problem of the plastic stick, firstly to stop people flushing cotton buds down the loo (I didn't even think people did this, so that was an eye-opener for me!) and second to get manufacturers to make all cotton buds from cardboard instead of plastic. Both schemes are well worth checking out! Thanks to these schemes, (in association with FIDRA) a large number of major brands and retailers including Waitrose, M&S, Co-op, Aldi, The Body Shop, Johnson & Johnson, Tesco and Sainsburys (plus more) are all switching or have switched over to recyclable cardboard stems. Most may not be organic, but it's a huge step in the right direction! 

Greening up my beauty routine // Cotton Buds

Time to heart to heart.

Let's face it, being green and clean is not easy. Sure the market is booming, more people are getting interested and wising up in the industry. More shops are selling natural alternatives to traditional offerings and online websites are abundant,  but it still isn't something you can do without thinking. 

With traditional beauty, lifestyle, fashion etc etc you simply walk into a shop or hop on a website and your only tough decisions boil down to the most simple aspects. Colour/pattern/fabric, scent/taste, size/fit and price are top of the list, every individual will have other personal preferences but these sum up the vast majority of areas to debate during purchasing.

In the green/clean 'world' it just isn't that straightforward. Heck we can't even agree on the terms, words, phrases and names to use for it. There's a whole lists of terminology out there that are used and often abused and we're all trying to find one that fits just right, but there isn't one. 
Because like with everything else in life it breaks down to being about personal preference. Never in a million years will everyone ever agree full heartedly on the exact same thing. 
Then add into the mix; brands, ingredients, do's and don'ts, research/new research/old research, application techniques, ethics, environment, humanity, trends, experts, bloggers, opinions, facts, opinions, research, studies, opinions, facts....aaaaaarrgh. One day, one research study says ABC about a topic of choice the next month a new study says XYZ about the same thing! It's enough to make you question every. single. little. thing. And that ain't easy.

Step in blogging for newbies. So you've jumped on this, lets be real, MAMMOTH journey of exploring and transitioning to natural living and if it wasn't tough enough you've decided to blog all your successes and all your pitfalls and everyone will be reading and having their opinions on your opinions.  Well.....when you think of it like, as the phrase goes; shit just got real. 
Over time you feel confidence grow, you get to grips with all those long complex ingredient names, can trot out facts and figures to anyone asking. You merrily blog away until out of the blue something, or nothing as can sometimes be the case, comes up and makes you start to question everything you thought you knew or your decisions, your choices, your ethics. All of a sudden you feel like the newbie on the block again. What a sucker punch to the gut that feeling is.

So this is where I find myself again. After years and years of blogging I seem to have come full circle again and feel like I'm back where I started on the natural journey. I'm talking most specifically about beauty as that is my strongest area of focus for my blog. I've felt lately I've really found my niche and my passion with makeup, I've always loved it and gaining the confidence to really bring it to my blog has been amazing. However, along with this I've started to now question and struggle with my choices, molehills becoming mountains. Should I be/do/say/choose this? Should I be/say/do/choose that? I've had this in my head for a while and feel it's only honest to share on my blog. As I say my blog is about successes and failures and I've never claimed to try and be perfect, so this is real and honest. I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing right now! I'm wading through options and feeling torn in so many directions. That's the honest truth.

I feel like I can write this now because I've finally settled in my mind what I want to do about my 'inner turmoil' and that is to except the fact that there is no perfect, there are no rules, things are always going to be changing, conflicting and that is just part of it all. It's part of the journey and I'm going to try and incorporate that in my blog a lot more. I always wanted to find a set guideline in my own mind of strict rules that I follow, but with the ever changing industry, new ingredients and research popping up daily, having a set guideline or rules in my head isn't realistic. So my new personal mind project is about flexibility and COMPROMISE. Not being scared to compromise, to make choices, to choose a 'lesser of two evils' approach if I just don't want to give something up completely.

And so leads me on to my next  lengthy heart and soul searching, slightly ranty post, about 'compromise'. But that is for another blog post, another day.

HEART TO HEART // It's not easy being green

So here it is, my review of THE HOTTEST bit of makeup on the green beauty circuit at the moment. I've got to say there's been plenty of hype over products in the past but never one to this scale. Green People have just seriously upped the green makeup stakes, and it is awesome. 

As this was so hyped about I avoided reading  reviews prior to trying the lipstick and reviewing it so that I wouldn't be biased but it was hard to miss all the positive messages on social. So, a green makeup product that is bang on trend - while the trend is still going strong no less - and one that actually performance and lives up to it's promises. Let's see shall we? 

So as you probably know by now Green People are celebrating their 20th anniversary this spring and to mark the occasion they are bringing out two new special edition collections, Damask Rose and Orange Blossom. This gorgeous looking lipstick is their new Velvet Matte Lipstick in Damask Rose*.

Yes- a MATTE lipstick. I've tried other lipsticks claiming to be matte but often in the description they slip in the semi-matte term and you find that they still have a sheen to them. On the other hand I've had some that are so matte that its pretty much like putting colourful chalk on your lips. With Green People's Velvet Matte formula it is neither of these - it's near on perfect!
This lipstick glides on smoothly with a creamy texture and gives, as promised, a true matte finish. The pigmentation is strong and the coverage is opaque. As it is a matte finish it can tend to make your dry patches show more, but a quick lip scrub before applying helps reduce this a lot. The formula of the lipstick feels very lightweight on the lips and despite being matte is not at all drying. This lipstick actually feels quite nourishing as you wear it thanks to the added benefits of the  two waxes used -sustainable beeswax and organic Carnauba wax and of course the added Vitamin E as well as the blend of oils such as sunflower and castor.

For staying power this lipstick surprisingly holds up quite well. As I mentioned it is quite a creamy formula but its not 'wet', it is a touch on the more dry side and that really helps the longevity of it as it doesn't shift and slide off your lips. Like all lipsticks it does transfer a little onto cups etc but nothing out of the ordinary. 
Now lets talk about the colour- Damask Rose. The shade is described as a nude-rose and I would tend to agree with this description. It is a beautiful blend of pinky and slightly peachy tones, creating a very warm toned nude. This is a little lighter than my natural lip colour but it is very flattering. The warm tones seem to suit my skin tone very nicely and the lipstick tends to show more on the peachy side than on the pink, which is definitely my preference. I'm not sure it would work with all skin tones as they say, but I think as nudes go it's a very adaptable colour for most people. On my lips the shade is quite true to the shade as it is in stick formula.

Another great aspect of this lipstick that really makes it stand out is that it doesn't smell or taste bad. I've previously used other 'matte' green/natural lipsticks and often they can taste and smell very peculiar - a little like crayons. Not so with this one from GP. To me it smells and tastes slightly fruity- I can't quite put my finger on it and the ingredients only list it as 'Aroma' so it's hard to say what it is, but I really like it.

GP kindly also popped over the Lip Primer* to try with the lipstick. This is great to use under the lipstick if you want much more sheer look and to make the matte finish more of a satin effect. Personally for me I found I much prefer the Damask Rose on its own to give it its full effect, but I've been popping on the primer like a balm since getting it and it works wonders on my very dry chapped lips.

What I do think would work well with this would be a lipliner in the same shade. With nude lipsticks it can be hard to keep your lip outline well defined especially around your cupids bow. I popped on a nude lipliner I had just along my cupids bow and that really helped the colour on my lips have a more distinct shape. It wasn't quite the perfect colour match though so fingers crossed one will be in the pipeline for future launches!

The Velvet Matte Lipstick in Damask Rose will be available from Tuesday 28th March on pre-order (officially avail 4th April). Also for all you lovely readers there's a 15% discount code which you can use on any platform. This code offers 15% off Velvet Matte Lipstick in Damask Rose (+Free UK delivery). Valid right up until 31st April 2017. 
Price: £15

Trying a trend - Velvet Matte Lipstick // Green People

My bathroom shelf goes through cycles, sometimes it's full of products I love, sometimes it's there to force me to use up products I'm not keen on but can't palm off to other people. Other times it's my place of experimentation, a platform for trying new things. Sometimes with great results, and sometimes not. Now is one of those times.

Lately, I've been quite fixated on my teeth. I hate them. There, I've said it. I think they are awful but aside from having expensive work done, there isn't a huge deal I can do about them so I decided to turn my shallow focus on them towards a more healthy avenue and make sure they are as healthy as can be. Step in three new products that I've added to my routine with mixed results:

A product that has been sitting in my toothpaste collection (yes I have a collection) for a while. I was finding that using my good old fav - Jason Powersmile, while great for my teeth was starting to make my gums sore. So I sought out this Ratania toothpaste from Weleda that promises to care for the gums as well as doing all the other jobs a good toothpaste should. I would one hundred percent say my gums have improved, less soreness and less receding. My gums very rarely bleed now which is terrific. I'm not sure I can really say it 'tightens gum texture', I mean what does that even really mean? But none the less my gums are looking and feeling in much better condition. As for the other aspects of the toothpaste, the texture is good, not too gritty or chalky and the mint flavour is subtle but refreshing. Teeth feel clean and my breath is freshened. All good stuff. It also amuses me that it is such a bizarre colour - a pinky toned mauve. The bf still finds it a tad bit disconcerting...wait til he sees the charcoal one I've got in my stash! Would I recommend this toothpaste? Absolutely. Will I repurchase? Certainly. At just under £5 it's pretty pricey but then most natural toothpastes are so I'm not up in arms about it.

This is one of those products where the theory is sound, but in practicality terms it just doesn't work out. This bizarre and very intriguing looking toothbrush is the Scuba Toothbrush from the brand Radius. I was totally intrigued and thought it sounded brilliant with all it's fancy technical jargon. The brush head is huge! it's about twice the size of a standard toothbrush head and is completely oval. According to the marketing it has over 300% more bristles than a regular toothbrush which helps you not only reach and cover more tooth surface but also evenly distribute pressure and avoid damaging your teeth. Sounds great, expect it is too big to fit in your mouth comfortably. If like me you don't have the largest of gobs then your pretty much stuffed because you simply cannot reach the back teeth without contorting your mouth into extreme shapes and having to wedge it in tight spaces. It's uncomfortable and unpleasant. I thought the size would make it perfect for cleaning my tongue, however the 45degree angle of the handle may be great for using on the front surface of the teeth but it stops you being able to give you tongue a good scrub without smashing your front teeth with the handle. Without being TMI my gag reflex has never been more active than when trying and failing to clean my tongue with this. The handle is also very very short, however the design (mine is a right-handed one) does make it very comfortable, so that is one good thing I can say about it. I also find that the bristles are so dense that it makes it hard to clean and toothpaste gets clogged in it no matter how clean and careful you are. I wish I could be complimentary about this as it really is a great idea sadly it just is not practical. It's also deathly expensive, almost £13- for a toothbrush!

On to better things! This is a great product. 
I've been using natural mouthwashes for a good few years and flittered between a few different ones and I've always struggled with the taste of them. Thankfully that issue has been resolved with this Organii Mouthwash in the Citrus flavour. It is citrusy but not overpoweringly so, but enough to mask any typical mouthwash flavour. This doesn't burn my mouth at all (I'm assuming thanks to the aloe vera) and leaves it feeling super clean and fresh. You know sometimes you chuck the shot of mouthwash a bit too far and choke on it a bit? Well, that's not so bad with this one because the taste doesn't make me gag and it doesn't have the alcohol edge to it like other mouthwashes do despite the fact is does contain ethyl alcohol. Other top notch factors include the fact that it is certified organic by ICEA. Plus the packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic and is completely recyclable after use. 

The Bathroom Shelf Edit // Dental Care

Spring has arrived and I'm feeling inspired. I'm a summer baby and the sunshine is always on my mind. Nothing has cheered me more than seeing the days grow lighter and flowers and blossom trees burst into colour! This makeup look was sort of inspired by the purple/ lilac crocus that have been popping up lately, the way the petals blend from white into an ombre of purples. It's such a pretty colour transition. So that is what I was trying to replicate for this look.
This look as always seems a little more subtle on screen but in real life it's quite bright as the purple hues catch the light.
To create this look I immediately went for two PHB Ethical Beauty pressed mineral eyeshadows because I'm so impressed by them. They have a good colour selection, the formula is beautiful and the pigment and colour pay-off is strong. They have a little fall out but nothing to cry over. The two shades I chose to create this look were Acai Berry* - a deep dark velvety aubergine, and Amethyst* - a blue toned lilac/ lavender shade.

I began with a neutral base topped with Amethyst. I swept this over the whole lid on a dry fluffy brush. Like all the PHB pressed mineral shadows this shade is very shimmery and I found that in the light the blue undertones really shone through more than the lilac that I wanted. To add back in the pale purple hues I topped the eyeshadow with another colour from Alva called Li-La-Lilac, a pinky toned mauve lilac. I concentrated this colour in the centre of the eye. This is the first time I've tried Alva and again i'm very impressed by the pigment of these loose shadows, applied both dry and wet the colour payoff is great. They pack a lot of product into the pot so it can be a struggle to get out but once you do it's worth it. This shadow blends like a dream and is a lot less shimmery than the PHB which is a good option to have for a more textured look. This little pot was only £7.50 and is going to last a lifetime!

To complete the ombre purple effect I focused Acai Berry on the very outer wing of the eye to replicate the crocus petal shape a little. I kept it darker towards the furthest points of the eye and along the lash line and faded it towards the centre to blend with the the Li-La-Lilac shade. Finally I took my favourite eyeshadow Snowflake by Bellapierre and heavily concentrated it on the inner corner extending into the centre to fuse with the lilac and purples. I popped on a few coats of Lavera's Butterfly Effect Mascara, and then I made a mistake. I wanted to go a little glam with this look so I tried out some new lashes from EcoTools. I chose the lashes 1259 and I what a mistake. I've worn a lot of lashes in my time and these were just not good. The band is much too thick, straight and stiff and the effect is clunky and chunky even after I trimmed them down a lot. These were meant to be soft and natural looking lashes. I don't mind the dramatic look at all but I do mind the band showing and constantly becoming unstuck. Like I said I'm no falsies newbie and I could not get the band to fit my eye at all. As a result you can see that big gap where the lashes have come away even when filled in with eyeliner. Oh well. Live and learn. I don't think they ruined the overall look too much.

Spring Makeup Look // Purple Crocus

Mother's day is coming up fast. Whether you are a pre-planner or a last minute purchaser, the chances are that the majority of you guys will buy your mum or mother-like loved one flowers for the big day. Sure there are plenty of people who buy gift vouchers, spa breaks, books and the like, but when it comes to Mother's day, flowers rule the roost. Just check out some of these stats that I found:
Pretty impressive statistics don't you think? But are you thinking about the impact of these? Where do these flowers come from, how are they grown? Organic or not? Are they ethically grown and sourced, are they fair trade etc etc. Here are some more stats to think about:
Most people tend to forget about the biggest mother of all - Mother Nature during Mother's Day, but that can change!

I've found a few great places that have made a conscious effort to keep Mother Nature and Mother Earth in mind when they provide flowers for Mother's Day and other special occasions. And there are gazillions more out there so it's worthing taking the time to do a little bit of research to find the perfect eco flowers for her!

British Flowers:

A British company that is actually a social enterprise to help the local community and work with people disabilities. Organic Blooms grows most of it's own flowers right here in the UK and what is more they focus on growing their plants organically. When they outsource their flowers they do so from reputable growers within the UK. They also have workshops, courses and gift vouchers to give the best floral experience around.

Part of the Wiggly Wigglers natural gardening company, the Great British Florist are another company that focus on British flowers. This company goes beyond sustainability with there flowers but also for the whole farm that they have. They focus on biodiversity, crop rotation, recycling and sustainability for flowers, crops, cattle and more. They are also campaigning to establish a proper British Flowers Quality Assurance Mark to help the cause of #GrownNotFlown flowers.

British and International Flowers:

Wild & Wondrous Flowers are another online retailer of flowers and plants. W&WF's USP is that their main focus is on selling UK native and British grown flowers to keep down the carbon footprint of flower production as much as possible. When they do provide flowers that need to be imported they make sure they are ethically sourced. Again they support many of the sustainability initiative and certification bodies such as Florverde and Fair Flowers, Fair Plants as well as:
  • Veriflora - top certification body for sustainability in floriculture and horticulture 
  • Rainforest Alliance - an organisation working to biodiversity and promote sustainability practices.
W&WF also use as much biodegradable packaging as possible avoiding cellophanes and plastic. They also source their wrap and packaging from the UK to keep their carbon foot print low.

Bunches are an online floral service that are dedicated to making sure that they stock flowers and plants that are good for the environment and people. You can check out their entire ethos on their website here, but I've broken it down in a nut shell:
  • Florverde - Bunches.co.uk source their carnations from Columbian farms that are part of Florverde, an initiative that strives to produces organic flowers in the most sustainable way. The also promote fair pay for all their workers.
  • Fair Flowers, Fair Plants - another initiative that promotes sustainability in flower products from start to finish along with ethical working conditions for employees.
  • Recycling -  Newly certified ISO 14001 and their packaging is 100% recyclable.
  • Charity - 10% off their profits are donated to charities with the UK and the rest for the world
There are many more sites to check out. It's also worth noting that if you do have to buy through sites such as Interflora etc then check out to see if they have a FairTrade section- which many of them do and choose from that selection so that you know that the flowers you buy will be improving conditions of the workers within the flower production.

Buying Instore?
Buying in store? Look for native British flowers and plants or flowers that are labelled as grown in the UK or that have a certification or accreditation logo testifying to their sustainability and ethics if they are from international countries. The flowers in my photo are British Begonias, grown in the UK and being  pot plant will last for many months if looked after carefully. You can scoop up plants like this in all major supermarkets and garden centres. 


Mother's Day for Mother Nature // Ethical Flowers

One of the reasons I love blogging is that it forces me to try new brands and products. Case in point - Greenfrog. I'd never heard or read about Greenfrog before I found them on Lovelula but once I read about their USP with being made from soapberries, I had to try them. 

I scooped up two of Greenfrog products: Botanical Handwash -Neroli & Lime* and Botanical Bodywash - Neroli & Lime*. In hindsight I wish I had chosen two different scents as I soon realised that while I like the accents of lime in the products scents, I don't actually like the smell of Neroli. Obviously this is just my personal preference and despite not being keen on the scent, I am impressed with how potent it is and how long it lasts. Often natural products smell strongly but the scent fades quite rapidly. The handwash that I have smells much more of lime than the bodywash, so I find it much more appealing. Perhaps next time I will choose one of the other scents available in Greenfrog's range.

As mentioned these products are both formulated with the unique ingredient of soapberries (not the same as soap nuts - soap nuts are the husks from around the berries I believe) which give them their super cleaning powers. The soapberries are also very hydrating and nourishing. Both of these products are very similar in formula with just a few ingredients different between them and I find their results very much the same, except for I feel the bodywash is a touch more gentle than the handwash.
Both leave you feeling clean without your skin being stripped or feeling tight. In fact my skin and hands are lovely and soft since using these, I think this is helped by the added Aloe vera in the formulas. I can really tell the difference between when I use the bar of soap in my bathroom versus when I use this handwash in the kitchen.

For me, the downside to having such 'soapy' and nourishing ingredients is that the formula can feel quite slimey and super slippery, which if I'm honest I'm really not a fan of. It's an odd sensation as it feels like it is just sliding over your skin and I really have to rinse a lot to wash it away. Thankfully the slippery sensation doesn't last long and you're not left with a residue so it's fine. While I don't like this element of the products, it's not enough to stop me using them.

Pricewise, these are pretty pricey at almost £9 for 300ml or almost £4 for 100ml. Quite a lot for products that you rinse off I think.

Other points to note. The products are certified Cruelty Free, certified Vegan and contain Organic Ingredients (soapberries certified by Ecocert). Free from SLS/ALS, parabens, palm oil and mineral oil etc.

Discovering a brand // Greenfrog Botanic

Like most beauty bloggers I love a good trend, but when you're part of the natural/ green beauty world it can be hard to keep up or even have the option of new products that will work with the latest look or technique. The green beauty world moves that much slower and is a lot less fashion focused. There's always a new must-have ingredient that pops up every now and then like Argan oil etc, but things like innovative makeup, application techniques and new formulas don't pop up all too frequently.
One trend that has really caught my eye lately is metallic lipstick. It's so out-there and I just love it. I've spent a good few months tracking down products and techniques that can help me achieve this look without having to resort to using conventional products. 

After many trials (blog posts on those to come soon) in came Bellapierre Mineral Lipstick in Fierce!

While this isn't the perfect metallic lip effect this beautiful copper lipstick definitely has that special oomph that  I so admire in metallic lipsticks. In these photos some of the effect is a little bit lost, in real life the metallic sheen is much stronger and it really does look incredible. Plus the copper colour is stunning on it's own. It's quite a dreamy combo. 

The formula of this lipstick is very soft and creamy, while this makes it amazingly easy to apply, it also means that it wears off and smudges very very easily. The colour also applies quite sheer and is very hard to build up to give the effect that it has in it's lipstick stick form. The photos above shows the lipstick with two coats without a liner underneath. Below you can see the swatch of the lipstick as it is on my skin tone. A very coppery colour, which is sensational and quite pigmented. On my lips, which are quite pigmented themselves, the colour is a lot less copper and has much more of a red undertone from my lips showing through. Despite it being more sheer than I would like, I still think the effect is pretty stunning! 
Another thing I love about this lipstick is that it smells like chocolate! It doesn't have much of a taste which is good as I hate lipsticks that I can really taste on my lips, but the scent is heavenly! It also feels quite moisturising as it contains ingredients like Jojoba oil. Due to it including beeswax it is not vegan.

On their website Bellapierre describe Fierce as a 'frosted' lipstick. I've noticed a few in their range that are also classed as frosted including a gorgeous plum purple shade call Couture which I'm hoping will give the same gorgeous metallic effect. Roll on payday! 
This lipstick cost £20 as a single but you can also get it in a set of 4 lipsticks for £35.

Trend Testing // Metallic Lipstick

I blinked and it became February, I blinked again and it was time for the LoveLula beauty box*! This month's beauty box features 5 products worth £37. Like most of the beauty boxes it heavily focuses on skincare but this month has a little nail polish in there too. Here's a quick round-up of the products that are included in this latest box from LoveLula.

 Brand:  Madara
 Product:  Micellar Water
 My Thoughts:  You probably know by now that I love Madara and I have used their products for a long time now. My go-to toner has always been the Madara Comforting Toner but it's time to try something new. This Micellar water is designed to be a bit of an all-in-one product, both cleansing and toning as you go. As a skincare minimalist, the less products the better for me.

Brand:  Maggie Anne
Product:  Nail Polish in Jasper
My Thoughts:  My heart always does a little skip of joy when I see a non-skincare product included. After all there is only so much skincare you can try out before your skin hates you. Nails on the other hand (no pun intended) can be polished and varnished and lacquered up as much as you like as long as you use a good base. Ive never tried Maggie Anne as a brand before so that's one good thing. Another is that it's a 6-free formula with gel like effect. I'm not immune to the trends and wanting to get a gel polish nail polish is high on my list. I hope this one holds up to my hopes. Colour is Jasper a very pretty dusky pink-mauve taupe.

Brand:  Weleda
Product:  Skin Food
My Thoughts:  I love this product, but I've had it a million times before. While it's not a super exciting product, it's great to always have a stash that I can keep in different places wherever I go. One at home, work, handbag etc.

Brand:  Greenfrog 
Product:  Botanical Bodywash
My Thoughts:  I'm not sure. I have this in the hand wash version and the jury is still out on that one. It's the same scent and I'm starting to realise that Neroli isn't my most fave scent out there. I also hope this a slightly different texture from the hand wash which again, I'm finding hard to get to grips with (again no pun intended.)

Brand:  Ooh! Oils of Heaven
Product:  Marula Replenishing Face oil
My Thoughts:  There's always a new ingredient or oil of the moment and the new kid on the block is Marula Oil. Despite it popping up in everything but your mother's cooking, I have yet to try it. I sued to be a bit ambivalent about Ooh products, but actually since I've been testing out a few of these tiny samples, I'm finding that I'm rather enjoying them. The Argan oil that came in a previous month's LL beauty box has turned out to be a sweet little addition to my skincare on occasion. 

To grab your own beauty box head on over to the LoveLula website here.

LoveLula Beauty Box // February

Unless you have been living under a rock, you'll know that Valentine's day is coming up. Love it or loath it there's no denying that whether you're rocking it solo or spending it with a special someone, it's the perfect excuse to go for a bit of a special make up look.

With this in mind I've been playing with a red infused cranberry eye makeup look that I have fallen in love with (yes all these puns are intended!)
I've been seeing cranberry eye looks everywhere over the past few years, and while mine isn't as dramatic as most, it still has hints of the look that keeps me hooked on YouTube tutorials.

With the help of a bundle of beautiful eyeshadows and eyeliner this is my more subtle take on the cranberry eye, which is perfect for a sultry look on Valentine's day. In real life this look was a little bit more dramatic but it doesn't pick up quite as well on camera, but it still looks pretty here and you get the idea.

To create this look I started with my usual BellaPierre Makeup Base, topped with a neutral matt shadow. Once I'd prepped the lid it was time to go in with the cranberry tones. As a transition colour I started with the PHB Pressed Mineral Eyeshadow in Grape*. The swatches of this shadow and the colour description online made it look and sound a lot more red toned, but I actually found that in the pan and with application it was more of a cool plum toned brown (see swatches below). Nevertheless the shade is very beautiful and did work pretty well for the transition and crease shade. The colour pay off is brilliant with barely any fallout on the eyes or from the pan. The formula is a packed powder but it feels quite creamy and smooth and blends very well. I swept this three quarters of the way across the lid leaving the inner corner bare. I also connected the colour under the lower lash line.

Next step to deepen the colour and add the cranberry pop I was seeking I added a strong sweep of SoulTree Kajal Eyeliner in Purple Hazefocusing heavily along the upper lash line. Again the colour name and online swatch didn't reflect the true colour of this liner. It is neither purple like the name suggests or as red as the imagery. However it is fairly cranberry in colour with a slight brown undertone and worked beautifully as the main colour. I've used SoulTree before and find the formula to be lovely and buttery without being too soft. You can blend them out but they still retain their colour pigment. Being creamy this eyeliner provided the perfect base to add the final touch to this look.

The final cranberry touch was to add a little Valentine's glitter with the stunning BellaPierre loose eyeshadow in the shade Wild Lilac from the Serenity Shimmer Stack collection. I am in LOVE with this shadow. It is glorious! I firstly started with this dry but then found that adding a spritz of my current fave Skin & Tonic Rose Mist onto my brush made the shimmer apply much bolder and more dramatic. Dotted on the centre of the lid the final result is more metallic than shimmer and I couldn't love it more. 

To complete the look I added a pop of Snowflake from the BP Shimmer Stack to the corners of my eyes and layered up a couple of coats of Lavera Intense Volumising Mascara* in Black on my lashes.

And there it is, my final cranberry Valentin'es day makeup look! 

Makeup // Valentine's Cranberry Eye

I have had this post sitting in bullet point form in my drafts since April 2015 when the RBM first launched. I can't remember why I didn't post it back then but I think it's time to dust it off, tart it up and open it up to the world. 
Why now? Well, the RBM is growing bigger and better everyday but I still don't think it gets quite the attention it deserves. So for all it's worth, I'm going to shine my little blog spotlight on it.

 What is the Real Beauty Manifesto (RBM)

Launched by Sonia White, the RBM is a collective of natural and organic advocates and brands that have the aim to unify the world of natural and organic beauty to create a consistent level of sustainability and honesty.

We all know that in the world of beauty the words 'natural', 'organic', 'clean', 'toxic free' and so on and so forth can be used whenever and wherever they like. Certifications for organic beauty have been growing more prominent over the years with the help of COSMOS combining Soil Association and Ecocert etc together. Yet it is not a legal requirement and it only applies to organic. Similarly there are certifications for the term 'natural' though they are few and far between.

The RBM aims to go that one step further. Their guidelines encompass organic and natural but also look at, to use their terminology; sustainability, integrity, community and compassion. 
They are there to help us know that a product is not only natural and/or organic, but that it has been made with the utmost care and consideration to the environment and workers etc.

 What do the RBM stand for? 
Now, so that I don't mistakenly misinterpret these I've taken them directly from the RBM guidelines:

Purity – we avoid all harmful chemicals and toxins in the products we sell and promote natural and organic living to safeguard our health, our planet and our children’s future.
Compassion – we aim to be considerate as companies and as individuals. We refute the need for animal testing in any form during the production of beauty products and refuse to sell or stock any products tested on animals.
Honesty –  we oppose promoting unrealistic beauty ideals that contribute to the increasing number of young people developing negative body image, low self-esteem and eating disorders. We aspire to promote equality and operate without prejudice.
Community – we endorse equal opportunity and support small and local enterprises to encourage a diverse and healthy economy in tune with their communities.
Transparency – we believe the price you pay for a product should reflect the value of its ingredients and that these should be clearly displayed on its packaging.
Sustainability – we recycle whenever possible and actively minimise the waste we produce and the resources we use to run our business, with a particular focus on our ingredients and packaging.
 Who's part of the RBM? 

There's more and more brands joining up to the Real Beauty Manifesto all the time including brands such as: Madara, Balm Balm, LoveLula, Nailberry, Bodhi & Birch, Vertue, Soil Association and loads more!
To see a comprehensive list check out their supporters here
You can also join yourself - It's free to do so.
 Look for the logo 

There are loads of brands on this list but to see if your product is part of the RBM, look for the logo. This is what you should look out for. More and more products are including the RBM logo like this Balm Balm Rose Floral Water Hydrosol.

Real Beauty Manifesto

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I hate taking painkillers, I don't like taking any type of pill and fiercely refuse to until the very bitter end. I'm very very stubborn about pain, I get a lot of people who get frustrated and say 'why do you make yourself suffer by not taking anything?' My reply is always 'I'll take something if I can't cope anymore, until then I'm not touching any tablets'. In extreme cases I have and do take pain medication, but I honestly can't tell you the last time I had even half of one.

Now let me just say this, I am in no way against modern medicine. I think it is vital and I've relied on it many times. I believe in having vaccinations and in people managing chronic pain, diseases, conditions and everything else through medication. I understand that everyone is different and deals with things differently. I just personally do not like taking pain medication if I can help it. I don't often have to deal with chronic pain so if the pain I'm dealing with is a headache or something minor then I'm always looking for an alternative.

Which brings me to the two products in this post! 
I've taken arnica homeopathy tablets in the past to help with bruising etc but didn't know it could be used topically until I developed the most energy draining pain in my shoulder blade and shoulder joint. I still have no idea what it was, a trapped nerve or a ripped muscle or what, but I do know that it was like what I imagine having a knife slicing into your shoulder from the inside would feel like. After about a week I decided enough was enough and headed to the pain section of Holland & Barrett and ended up buying this massage balm. 
Like with anything there are always other factors that could account for a result, but I had been massaging my shoulder since the pain started and it would only ease the pain while I massaged or had someone work the area for me. After that the pain was the same. With this oil I do genuinely believe after a few days of working it in with the massage I'd been doing before, it reduced my pain substantially. Note, it did not remove my pain completely - to expect results like that would be pretty ambitious. The ingredients such as Arnica, Rosemary and Birch combined with the massage help to relax and ease muscles, reducing stiffness and swelling/inflammation which can often by the root of pain. In my case it seemed to do the trick. 
The downside is that this is A) expensive and B) it has a short shelf life after opening. Also you can't use this if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also goes without saying that you should avoid it if you have any allergy to any of the ingredients.
Cost: £7.95 (50ml) 
Buy: Weleda or other health store like Holland & Barrett

Another little name I like to call this is the 'Absolute F*cking Lifesaver'.
Again a purchase made under extreme pain circumstances. My period cramps one month were so extreme I was pale, shaky, sweating and finding it hard to catch my breath, let alone speak or think coherently. I have a high pain threshold and as we've established I'm very stubborn and perhaps a bit too proud about my pain coping abilities. But this month was like no other. In the end I decided that  a walk would help ease my cramps, a good idea except for the fact that I could barely stand up and had to limp doubled over. (I know, I know this is very dramatic but I also know for a fact there will be a large number of girls who know exactly what I'm talking about. Aside from childbirth  - which is pain in a whole different realm - there is literally no other pain quite like chronic period cramps.) Anyway, on this occasion I decided that I'd walk to the chemist so if the walking didn't help then at least I would have other options at my finger tips. My aim was to get some heat pads (which I also bought but have yet to try -anyone got any feedback on these?) and I was at the point of giving in and grabbing a pack of pain killers when I saw this Paingone pen.

The Paingone pen works almost like a Tens Machine. It contains a quartz crystal which when you 'click' the pen it creates a small electrical impulse that sends a signal to your brain to produce endorphins and send them to the area of pain. Endorphins are the body's natural pain remover and when pain isn't present produce a sort of 'high' and boost your mood such as you experience after exercise. Your body is treating itself without you adding any extra chemicals or anything into your system. The effect of stimulating endorphins with the pen is no different than from doing exercise to get the endorphin rush. All you have to do it stick the nib of the pen on the point of pain or on a relating acupuncture point (a guide is included, see below) and click it 30-40 times. It doesn't hurt but you do feel a 'zing' depending on where you put it and occasionally you'll find a nerve  point where it's very noticeable - but not painful. 

I hold my hands up and say I thought this would be a gimmick, an expensive but useless piece of equipment even as I was buying it. But I was desperate and decided that if I believed it would work then maybe I would at least get a psychosomatic or placebo effect from it. But I don't call it the 'Absolute F*cking Lifesaver' because of the placebo effect- I was as shocked as anyone that this worked. Worked like a little lifesaving miracle worker. I shakily zapped my lower abdomen then curled up in ball of self-pity for about 15 minutes. Then the most amazing sensation happened. It was like someone was pulling the pain away, like a....like a blanket slowly being pulled off a table. You know that lovely sensation as you ease into a warm bath slowly and the water inches up blissfully- it was like that. I actually burst out laughing and shouted 'It works! It f*cking works, oh my god, oh my god!' to my colleagues! After a few hours I felt a bit twingey again so I zapped it away again. You can use this pen as often as you like and it lasts for over 100,000 clicks or approx 2 years.

Downside: it was an eye watering £30 - but 100% worth it! Plus it doesn't degrade or go off like creams or medication. Also like with many things there are restrictions like you can't use it on your head or over your heart, if you have a pacemaker or if you are pregnant etc. So please ALWAYS read up on this before using it. Oh and it can singe the hair on your body, just a tiny bit!

Cost: £30 (depending on retailer)
Buy: Boots/ Superdrug & other select pharmacy/chemists

Managing Minor Pain Without Pills

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