Beauty Advent Calendars – Day 1-4 highlights

It’s only 4th December but I’ve already had some fantastic items in my beauty advent calendars. As a reminder, I went for the M&S calendar and the LookFantastic calendar – neither have all cruelty free items but the majority in both are. Here’s some highlights so far…

2016 Advent Calendar Highlights: Days 1-4
2016 Advent Calendar Highlights: Days 1-4

Pixi Glow Tonic – Day 1 in LookFantastic calendar was a teeny tiny 15ml bottle of Pixi Glow Tonic. In my nighttime skincare I alternate between this and the Freedom Glycolic Radiance Tonic (both of which I love) so this will be really handy to take with me when I’m travelling.

Inika Loose Mineral Blush (Blooming Nude) – I’ve heard a lot of good things about Inika so was delighted to receive this full sized loose mineral blush in Blooming Nude for Day 3 in my LookFantastic calendar. I’ve never tried a loose powder blush and confess I had to search Youtube to find out how to use it! You only need a tiny bit of product but it gives a lovely natural flush which lasts all day. I don’t tend to wear blush every day but this is lovely and not too ‘made up’ so I’ve worn it today and yesterday over my usual CC cream. It’s £21 so not cheap, but I think it will last ages. Great value for an advent calendar item!

This Works Sleep Plus+ Pillow Spray – I have tried this before but got out of the habit of using it. My sleeping pattern is terrible at the moment (it often is!) so getting this in Day 4 of the LookFantastic calendar was a welcome item. I have a slightly earlier than usual start tomorrow so will be trying to wind down early tonight and using this to help me sleep. I’ve included the link to the 75ml spray which is the best value way of buying this, but if you want to try it out first there are plenty of gift sets available which include the smaller sizes like I got.

Pixi Brow Tamer (Translucent) – This was one of the items that I was particularly looking forward to from the M&S calendar so I’m glad it’s one of the earlier items (Day 4) – it’s the full sized product worth £12. I don’t tend to do much, if anything, with my brows but have been wondering about trying out a brow gel. This product doesn’t do a whole lot, but I don’t want a whole lot doing so it does the job for me. I’ve tried it out today and it doesn’t make my brows feel crispy at all; it’s just good for combing through and holding them in place.

So far so good – I’m loving having my beauty treats each day and am looking forward to trying out more 🙂


Cruelty free items from USA

A couple of months ago I attended a conference in Philadelphia and managed to squeeze a visit to Sephora, Ulta and CVS. Some cruelty free brands are much easier to find in the US, so I was particularly on the look out for some, whilst others I just happened to spot. I was really hoping to get some LaVanila perfume but only found deodorant. Here’s what I got…

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Cruelty free items from USA

Becca Opal Glow on the Go set

This little set was great value at $20. I’ve heard so much great stuff about Becca products, particularly the shimmering skin perfectors, and I know Opal is recommended for paler skin tones so thought I’d give this a go. I really like both versions of this. I mostly use the powder just for ease of application as I can use a small brush. I’ve used it as a highlighter and also as an eyeshadow too. The liquid version is great for taking with you if you’re travelling and don’t want to take brushes as you can blend it in with your fingers. I imagine these will last me ages, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for Becca products in future.

E.L.F. Foundation Serum in Fair/Light

I used to really like the Bourjois foundation serum and have heard great things about E.L.F so thought I’d give this a try (the fact it’s SPF 30 also attracted me to it). Sadly I’m not a fan. It’s an extremely runny liquid and not at all easy to apply. It’s only a light coverage which I don’t mind, but the finish is nothing special and the difficulty in application means I’m hardly ever reaching for it.

Physicians Formula Healthy Wear in Light to Natural

I got this mostly because of the high SPF factor. I’m a bit obsessive about wearing SPF, particularly on my face. My current favourite high SPF isn’t cruelty free so I’ve been looking for an alternative for a while. I thought I’d give this one a go and it’s great. It applies nicely, absorbs easily and isn’t too shiny like some SPF creams can be (though it’s not matte in finish). It’s tinted and is a bit too dark for my natural colouring, but as I have a bit more colour at the moment it works OK for me. Sadly there are only two shades so this won’t be good for my usual pale skin.

Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation Serum – sample size

You may be sensing a theme for my purchases here; this was yet another attempt to try to find a light coverage foundation with SPF (it’s SPF30). This is also watery, but not as runny as the ELF serum. Despite the name it does add a bit of coverage and leaves a nice finish on the skin. It’s not going to cover blemishes, but it’s great for evening out skin tone.

LaVanila Healthy Deodorant in Pure Vanilla – travel size

I have a full size one of these which I like, so when I saw this mini size I thought I’d pick one up. These has been really handy on long days in summer where I might want to freshen up during the day.

Bite Beauty Matte Crème Lip Crayon in Pastille

I’d been looking for a suitable every day lip product, and particularly one which matches my current favourite mauve lip product which isn’t cruelty free. This one is a bit more of a raspberry shade than a mauve and a bit brighter than I usually like so it’s not really an every day colour for me, but it’s a nice lip crayon (though the recently discovered nude Sleek lip pencil I mentioned in my recent favourites is getting much more use!).

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm

A rich lip balm has been another item I’ve been looking for a cruelty free replacement for, and I am so pleased with this. It’s only tiny but you don’t need much at all. I’ve been using this every night and my lips haven’t been anywhere near as dry as they can be. It can also be used in the day too, as although it lasts a long time it doesn’t feel too thick. I wish this was easier to find in the UK but at least I now know I can get it online.

Hourglass Ambient Light Correcting Primer in Mood Light – sample size

I got this free as I’d earned a points bonus (well, I almost did and the cashier was very friendly – the English accent always helps!). I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do as I don’t seem to notice any difference in my skin texture, colour or appearance when I use this as a primer. It’s an expensive product and not one I’ll be purchasing.

The stand out items are the Becca products and the First Aid Beauty Lip Balm, and I’d love to try more of the Perricone MD products (I just wish they weren’t so expensive!).

Cruelty free favourites – August 2016

I haven’t been wearing make up much recently, but have enjoyed some skincare and a couple of new items.

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Cruelty free favourites – August 2016

Sleek Lip Power Plump Pencil in Notorious Nude – I am totally in love with this. I bought it on a bit of a whim but am so glad I did. I love the colour (very natural nude), I love the texture (creamy, almost balm-like), I love the lasting power (it lasts a good 2-3 hours), I love the fact it doesn’t dry your lips, and I love the tingle you get from applying it (this apparently makes your lips look more plump – I’m not sure but either way I like it!). Admittedly it’s not the boldest of looks, but I’m a wimp when it comes to bold make up so this suits me perfectly. I also really like that I can wear this with other make up, or I can wear it on its own when I’m not wearing other make up. I also picked up another shade from the range, Berry Burst, which I do like but is much bolder so the sort of thing I’d usually wear when I’m wearing other make up and feeling a bit braver.

Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel – I didn’t want to love this stuff, but I do. It gets quite a lot of hype on other blogs and isn’t the cheapest product out there, but I’m going to add to the hype because I really like it. I’ve been using it every morning for a few weeks now and it’s lovely. It’s a gel that turns into an oil, and it really helps to both cleanse and moisturise my skin. I like the scent too, though I don’t think I did at first so it might be more of a grower! The frustrating thing is I have no idea how much I have left so I’m wary about running out (I *may* have ordered another earlier today so I won’t be without it!).

Soap and Glory Hand Food in Smoothie Star – I’ll never forget the day my Dad told me I had old lady hands. I was about 19 at the time. Thanks for that Dad! I obviously wasn’t too traumatised though as I’ve never really looked after my hands but the last few months I’ve been keeping hand cream in my bedside table and applying it every night. This one is really lovely – quite rich but not greasy, and the scent is heavenly (it’s the same scent family as the scrub and shower cream I love). Sadly it doesn’t seem you can buy on its own – I got it in a Smoothie Star set.

B Blemish Gel – I had a breakout recently so have been using blemish gel, but I’ve been trying this one as it has hyaluronic acid so is more moisturising than most blemish products which can be very drying. It’s similar in effectiveness to the Superdrug one but doesn’t seem as drying so I’ll be sticking with this one.

Barry M polish in Festival Fever – I recently had an incredibly luxurious day to myself, and one of the things I did was treat myself to a new nail polish and paint my nails. My poor nails have been quite neglected recently (well, pretty much all year to be honest!) so it’s lovely to spend some time tidying them up and painting them. I went for a pretty pink which isn’t my usual choice (purple or deep reds are usually my favourite nail colour) but it seemed appropriate for the season and I’m really enjoying having pink nails. It’s a limited edition shade that is currently available in Superdrug (and is part of the buy one get one half price offer).

Another good month for cruelty free favourites! What have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?

Cruelty free favourites – June 2016

Thanks to some new products and some rediscoveries during June, I have some more cruelty free favourites to share.

Cruelty free favourites - June 2016
Cruelty free favourites – June 2016

M&S Gradual Tan – I’ve blogged about this already so won’t go into too much more detail but I’m really impressed with both the gradual tan body moisturiser and the serum glow booster. Since the weather took a turn for the worse and I’ve been mostly wearing a waterproof coat and either jeans or thick tights, so I haven’t bothered quite as much with the body moisturiser the last couple of weeks, but I have been using the face serum every few nights.

Superdrug Clearly Youthful Glycolic Peel Mask – I’ve had a few blemishes that have been lingering recently, and decided to pick up a mask to try to clear them up. This mask contains salicylic acid which helps clear spots, but it is also designed to help improve the texture of your skin. I’m quite fortunate with my skin but it always responds well to glycolic acid, so as this has both ingredients I thought I’d give it a go. It is seriously good! It’s always great fun to use peel-off masks anyway (please tell me it’s not just me that takes great delight in peeling them off?!) but this makes my skin feel so lovely and soft. I’ve been using this once a week(ish) and find it is definitely helping get my skin back to normal.

Becca Opal Glow on the Go – I was at a conference in the US last month and picked up some bits from Sephora, Ulta, and CVS (I’ll blog about what I got another day). One of my favourite finds was Becca Glow on the Go – a travel sized set of Becca Opal highlighter in both pressed and liquid form. I’ve heard so much great stuff about this highlighter, particularly for paler skin tones, and I can see why. It’s a really flattering shade, lasts well, and doesn’t look glittery like some highlighters can. I’m not sure if I prefer the liquid or pressed version more but am delighted I have them and have been using them both.

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm – I’ve almost run out of my night time intensive lip balm and was looking for a cruelty free version. I came across this in Sephora and have been using it both day and night since. It’s very rich so I don’t use it all the time but when my lips feel dry it’s great. It lasts a long time too so really helps to nourish. It’s only a tiny pot but you don’t need much so I think it will last a while.

Another good month for cruelty free favourites! What have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?

LoveLula beauty box – June 2016

This month saw me receive my fourth LoveLula beauty box*. Here’s what I received:

LoveLula Beauty Box - June
LoveLula Beauty Box – June

Skin Blossom Gentle Face Wash* (150ml, worth £6.95) – I’ve had a couple of Skin Blossom items in previous boxes and given them to a friend, but I haven’t used a face wash like this for a while so thought I’d give it a go. It is indeed very gentle and I can imagine would be good for sensitive skin. I’ve used this a couple of times now and found it cleans the skin without stripping it too much. It’s good for my fairly dry skin and I’ll continue to use it. It’s nothing amazing so I wouldn’t rush out to buy again but I’ll definitely use it up.

Urban Veda Soothing Exfoliating Facial Polish* (20ml), Facial Wash* (20ml) and Day Cream* (10ml) – The collection this month is aimed at combination skin and helps to clarify and moisturise. As with the other Urban Veda range I tried, I’m liking this so far, especially the facial polish which I use in the shower. They’re a great value brand and one I’d consider buying in future. You can get sample versions* of many of the Urban Veda products if you’re interested in trying them out.

Pure & Light Essential Face Cream* (15ml, worth £8.70) – I don’t think this is anything special, but it does moisturise my skin well and doesn’t leave any residue. The scent is OK but the product isn’t something I’d personally rush out to repurchase, especially given the price (£29 for 50ml).

PHB Ethical Beauty Soothing Hand Cream* (50ml, worth £10.95) – sadly I’m not usually a fan of lavender scented things so I have tried this once but didn’t like the scent. I’ll be passing this on to someone who I know loves lavender and always needs hand cream!

The verdict

June’s box wasn’t as relevant for me as some of the previous boxes and having had four consecutive boxes (see my earlier blog posts on March, April and May beauty boxes) I now seem to have a lot of facial skincare to use up. I’ve therefore decided to take a break from the subscription whilst I use up some of the products I have, but I would still recommend the box and I’ll probably subscribe again in future once I’ve used some of the products up. I do love skincare but I wish it was a little more varied in terms of items in the box (e.g. haircare, make up) to reduce the chance of stockpiling!

Do you have any other cruelty free beauty box recommendations?

*Affiliate links




Marks and Spencer Gradual Tan

If you’ve met me in real life, you’ll know that despite my heritage I am very pale. I’m totally fine about this most of the time, but every few years I get frustrated with it and attempt some tanning. I’m not one for sunbathing (though I do quite enjoy sitting in the garden and reading), and am obsessive about sun protection, so my tan usually comes from a bottle.

I’m not brave enough to do a proper fake tan (I think I’m too pale anyway!), so I stick to gradual tan. I had a few brands I used to love but sadly they’re not cruelty free. I struggled to find a cruelty free gradual tan in Superdrug and their temporary bronzing cream made me look like I’d been tangoed (thank goodness for their 100% happiness guarantee returns policy!).

Then I remembered M&S are cruelty free and stumbled across the Autograph range. I went to pick up the Gradual Tan Body Creme in Light/Medium, and whilst I was in store spotted the Gradual Tan Glow Booster Serum. It somehow jumped into my basket and came home with me:

Marks and Spencer Autograph Gradual Tan
Marks and Spencer Autograph Gradual Tan

I’ve been using both products since (the face serum every other night and the body lotion every few days) and love them both. I mix a couple of drops of the serum in with my night cream, and apply the body lotion as a regular moisturiser (making sure to use a body scrub in the shower first, and being careful not to use too much around my elbows/knees).

They have a slight biscuity fake tan scent, but it’s very mild (and I like the scent anyway!). They definitely have an effect on colour, but it’s only subtle and fine for those of us who are paler to start with. I did catch the sun a bit in the garden earlier this month, and these products have helped prolong that effect.

You do need to make sure you rinse your hands properly after applying as I did get some staining on the back of my hand one time, but it soon faded.

If you’re looking for cruelty free gradual tanning, I’d definitely recommend checking the range out (they also have darker shades and regular self-tanning products).

Do you have any other recommendations for cruelty free gradual tanning solutions?


Cruelty free favourites – May 2016

It’s time to share some cruelty free favourites again! Here are the products I’ve been loving in May.

Cruelty free favourites - May 2016
Cruelty free favourites – May 2016

Sleek CC Cream – I’m fortunate that my skin is generally fairly good so I don’t feel I need a lot of coverage; tinted moisturisers/BB creams/CC creams are my usual staple. I prefer ones which have SPF in (I do tend to use a separate SPF product as well but still like them to have SPF as well), and the Sleek one is SPF 29 – strange number, but much higher protection than most so all good in my opinion. The other slightly awkward requirement I have is the shade. Despite my heritage from the West Indies (yes really, Francis Barber – a black ‘manservant’ for Samuel Johnson in fact), I am super pale so often struggle to find shades light enough for me. Even the ‘light’ is often too dark. Sleek however have a ‘fair’ option which is paler than the light one and suits me perfectly. I really like this CC cream as it claims to boost radiance and also mattify shine, which seems like a contradiction in some senses but I can see what it means. It definitely removes shine, but doesn’t make your skin look too flat either. I love it and have been using it most days this month – on both make up days and non-make up days. It’s great value too – only £8.99. big thumbs up for this one!

LaVanila Fresh Vanilla Lemon perfume – I added this to my birthday wishlist and was delighted to receive it (it can be tricky to find in the UK but I managed to find a supplier on Amazon). I took a bit of a gamble as I hadn’t ever smelt the scent, but I love vanilla and love fresh citrusy scents so thought I might like this. I was absolutely right; it’s my new favourite perfume and I’m delighted to have found a cruelty free perfume I love. I have the rollerball which is really convenient, but I may have to treat myself to a full sized bottle if I find one whilst I’m in America later this month.

Lush Sea Spray – I got this based on a recommendation from an excellent advisor in Lush Manchester. My hair is naturally wavy/curly, but can go very frizzy and it’s fine so can look very limp/lank (both awful words but I’m sure you know what I mean!). The Sea Spray adds volume and texture as well as holding it in place so it doesn’t go quite as flat by the end of the day. Based on the advice of the sales advisor, I spray it into the palm of my hand before scrunching through my hair (the spray is too concentrated to spray directly into my hair). I find just one spray is enough for me, so I would think this will last ages. I tend to use it on dry hair or almost dry hair. I find it useful for a quick refresh in between washes too.

PHB Ethical Beauty Brightening Eye Gel – I received this in my April LoveLula beauty box and have been using it pretty much every day since then. I wouldn’t say it is brightening, but it is very smoothing and feels lovely to apply. I’ve used a fair few eye creams in the last couple of years and never found any of them amazing, but I really like this gel consistency.

B. Radiant Overnight Mask – I read a review of the B. Radiant Overnight Mask on another cruelty free blog, Brianne Etc., and decided to give it a try. The B. range in Superdrug is often on offer so I’m not sure how much I paid but it’s very rare that you need to pay full price. Even at full price (£11.99) I think it’s worth it. I have dry skin so am always looking for products that will help moisturise, especially overnight when I like to treat my skin. This is a great overnight mask which moisturises really well but doesn’t feel tacky on the skin. I’ve been using it most nights and it’s really helped my skin and hasn’t broken me out. You don’t need much at all so I think it will last a good while.

What cruelty free products have you been loving recently? Any recommendations?