Monday, 24 October 2016

From Hating to Loving the Gym

    My relationship with exercise and the gym has been challenging up until recently, to say the least. I went from being a fit, active child to a lethargic, unfit teen when playing tag stopped being a socially acceptable thing to do on top of lacking any concept of portion sizing.  Later, I very quickly lost loads of weight when I started university - this was for no reason other than the fact that the food in my catered halls was nasty shit. Through all of it, I hated exercise. I hated cardio especially. I hated the thought of ever going to a gym; I just imagined them to be awful places full of judgemental athletic women and obnoxious meatheads.

When Chris and I moved to Leeds a few years ago, I started to take up working out at home and I was pretty good at it! I began to feel a bit fitter and more energetic, but I still hated every second of the exercise itself and had to force myself to push through it knowing I’d feel better for it afterwards. After we left Leeds and headed back down south, I decided to join the gym at work since it was right across from my office and essentially on the way home. This was totally against my anti-gym code, but it was a little gym with only a handful of machines and there were only ever one or two other people there, so it suited me fine. I started out with the treadmill, switched to the elliptical when I realised running wrecked my legs and ankles, and eventually started using weights. I still hated exercising, but again, I forced myself to do it because I felt amazing afterwards – all the more so after I started lifting weights, because I could actually see myself gaining muscle. My little noodle arms had muscles for the first time in my life, and that was some crazy motivational stuff right there.

Fast forward to this year, and I was offered a better job at an organisation that didn’t have its own staff gym, presenting me with a dilemma: do I give up and find a new way to exercise (bearing in mind that I could do no jumping or cardio in my flat due to it being a thin-floored first floor flat), or do I finally bite the bullet and join a real gym? A public gym? With people?

I joined the gym, and after nearly three months I haven’t regretted it for a second.

Gyms aren’t for everyone, but as it turns out, the one I chose is just right for me. What really hooked me were the classes included in the gym membership – most weeks I go to at least four or five classes, which is great not just for motivation and direction for your workout, but for picking up tips for good technique and for learning moves you wouldn’t have thought of yourself. I now know how to do various exercises properly and can try to perfect the technique on my own and add them to my independent workouts, and some of the personal trainers are now familiar faces that know me and my fitness levels and are open to any questions I might have.

I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to motivate myself to go somewhere else to workout either, but having it as a set part of my routine, leaving the house and going to another location encourages me to dedicate myself to it while I’m there and to work out properly to make the most out of the visit. When I exercise at home, it’s all too easy for me to get distracted or decide I’ll do it later (and to then not do it later…) or to not work as hard as I know I really can, but going to a place that’s sole purpose is for people to exercise kind of helps with that. For the days that I go to classes, they’re already scheduled and my name is on a list, making it all the more motivating for me to actually get up and go. I was surprised by how well I took to it to be honest; I don’t even go straight after work either, I sit around for a couple of hours at home and then go, which a few years back would’ve been a disaster.

Getting into it was tough. I think the most difficult part of trying to get fitter is simply getting to the stage where you’re not quite fit, but you’re no longer unfit, and the workouts stop being an exhausting, onerous task and start being fun and uplifting and leave you feeling strong and capable and like you can take on the world. It’s like a climbing a steep cliff that later levels off into a nice, steady hike up a hill.  Now that I’ve busted through that wall of being knackered all the time and feeling like I’m getting nowhere, I love every second and actually enjoy pushing myself and trying new things and basically looking like a hot mess dripping with sweat. The results are visible too, although they aren’t anywhere near the focal point of my motivation. My body looks leaner and my butt finally has some lift to it again – when I first started exercising regularly all the fat in my booty dropped off but it wasn’t until recently that I actually started doing muscle-building butt exercises so much to my frustration, I’ve basically had a flat butt for months! As usual though, I ignore the scales, and I encourage everyone else to as well. My body has clearly changed, but perhaps surprisingly, I weigh roughly the same as I did several years ago before I started working out at all.

Whenever my classes finish, I’m already looking forward to kicking ass in the next one, and as I type this I’m itching to get back at the gym after over a week off thanks to a conference for work followed immediately by a bad cold (my entire, big office is a coughing, phlegmy mess right now and two of my co-workers are off sick…). Had you asked me five years ago if I’d ever consider joining a gym, I would’ve laughed in your face, but actually, I like gyms! And there are probably jerks and meatheads who go there who I haven’t encountered yet, sure, but everyone I have is super nice. Especially when you go to classes, there’s a quiet sense of camaraderie, you get chatting to people and everyone is – gasp – not actually horrible just because they go to the gym regularly. We’re all there for the same thing at the end of the day!

Are you a gym person?  If not, what’s your favourite way to get your exercise?

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Autumn Foliage Eyes

Whenever autumn rolls around, me and every other makeup obsessed bincho immediately gets excited and starts whipping out the warm orange and burgundy and red eye colours for some killer fall looks. Not that I don’t experiment with different colours during the rest of the year but, you know, autumnal makeup looks are fun and help me get more excited about the season! I was itching to do something inspired by the changing leaves and I hadn’t used a couple of eyeshadows in my Z-Palette for a while so decided to play around with a makeup look that would make them the focal point.

My base for this look was also a nice little experiment as I’m currently in the process of trialling the new PHB Ethical Beauty liquid foundation, so in addition to my current routine of primer and colour corrector, tried my hand at applying this (followed by concealer) and wearing it throughout the day for the first time too. The results will come in a later blog post, for now this is all about the eyes!

I applied my brows a little bit differently to how I’ve previously described the process – I’ve started applying a coat of brow gel before my Anastasia DipBrow Pomade and two coats after, as I’ve really been enjoying the slightly dishevelled look where the hairs near the centre stand as upright as possible (not that you can tell much from the photos). Once my brows were done, I tidied them up with some clean strokes of concealer that I blended out carefully, and then began applying my eyeshadow over my already primed eyelids. Primer is a must if you’re going to be working with bold colours!

First, I applied a nude shade over the entirety of my eyelid to make blending the bright colours out a little bit easier, then I carved out my crease with a medium warm brown to get the general shape I was going for. Once I was happy with that, I covered all of my mobile lid with MakeUp Geek’s eyeshadow in the shade Bitten – a lovely dark, cranberry red. I blended this all the way up close to my brows simply because of my eye shape (I like my eyeshadow to be seen, so having very hooded eyes I often blend it pretty far out but you don’t need to do this yourself), going back in to keep building up the colour to my desired intensity. I applied it under my eyes too, blending it out quite far down.

Once I was happy enough with Bitten, I went over the blended areas with the shade Nuts About U from the Too Faced PB&J Palette – this is a very warm, rusty brown verging on orange. The idea was to go for a red that faded out into an orange-y shade as it blends out, so I kept going back over this and then decided I wasn’t quite happy with the shade or intensity of the orange hues. Luckily, Sleek’s UltraMatte v1 palette has a beautiful bright, true orange in it so I layered this over the top of Nuts About U and the outer-most parts of Bitten to give it a more vibrant, orange hue. Again, I blend this quite far up my brow and underneath my eye to ensure as much colour is visible when my face is relaxed as possible because, boo, hooded eyes.

I chose not to contour my eye in any way with a darker crease or outer corner colour, but I did want an extra pop of dimension to the look. Taking a little bit of Moreish from Phee’s Makeup Shop on the tip of my finger, I dabbed this onto the centre of my lid near the lashline – and again directly underneath it below my eye – and blended this out slightly, resulting in a gorgeous bright gold that fades out into red that then fades out into orange. I topped this off with just a little bit of Inika’s black liner in my waterline and then added a generous coat of mascara. Not that you can tell, because as well as having hooded eyes, my eyelashes kind of suck. Normally I would add false lashes to a look like this, but I wasn’t really feeling it today and just decided to let the colourful eyeshadow stand alone instead.

I then applied a little bit of Cabana Boy from theBalm for my blush; I thought that the natural mauve-y tones would complement the reds and oranges quite well. The next star products I used were also from Phee’s Makeup Shop and they are the lovely pressed highlighters in the shades Bellini (a peachier shade) and The Original (a champagne gold) mixed together. I’ll be doing a full review and swatching of these products along with the white gold shade, Luna, that came with them as a trio but let’s just say that these are some real little beauties. The photos don’t do justice to how radiant and reflective they look on the skin at all. I used both on my cheekbones, the inner corners of my eyes, the tip of my nose and the tip of my chin for this particular look and then finished my face off with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light.

Finally, the lips! I wanted something subtle but also wanted to try out a metallic lip, so I decided to use GOSH’s Velvet Touch Lipstick in Darling (which you might remember from my top 5 nudes for pale folks post a while back) and then patted a little bit more of Moreish over the top of it for a hint of gold around the centre. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure if I really like how this turned out in the end but I had fun doing it and Moreish is so pigmented and such a true gold it’s like applying the real thing to your face so you can’t really go too far wrong.

And there you have it - an autumn foliage inspired makeup look, complete with leaf-coloured eyes and gold tinted lips. If you have a favourite autumnal makeup look, let me know what it is!

All products used:
KIKO Skin Tone Corrector Primer in 02 Violet
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion *
Sleek MakeUp Colour Corrector Palette Green, Lilac & Yellow shades
PHB Ethical Beauty Pure Skin Organic Liquid Foundation +SPF30 in Cream
NYX HD Photogenic Concealer in 02 Fair *
GOSH Defining Brow Gel in shade 003
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Medium Brown
Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow in Black Sand
Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette, shade W.O.S. *
Too Faced Peanut Butter Jelly Palette, shade Nuts About U †
Makeup Geek eyeshadow in Bitten †
Sleek MakeUp Ultra Matte V1 Palette, shade Strike †
Phee’s Makeup Shop Eyeshadow in Moreish
Inika Certified Organic Eyeliner in Black
Barry M That’s How I Roll Mascara †
theBalm Cabana Boy †
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Ethereal Light
Phee’s Makeup Shop Pressed Highlights in Bellini and The Original
GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Darling †

* Parent company is not cruelty free.
† Product is not vegan.

Low Battery t-shirt from Pull & Bear

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Eating Vegan in Madrid

When you think of Spanish food, you don’t necessarily think of it as being particularly vegan friendly. When we were planning where to go on our city break, I was a little bit sceptical of visiting Spain because of this, but as soon as I looked up Madrid and discovered that there were actually a wealth of veg-friendly places to eat I realised I probably wasn’t going to struggle to eat there at all! Today I’m going to share with you the three restaurants I ate at and what the vegan scene is like in Madrid.

(Excuse the poor quality food photos in this post, I had to use a crappier camera because I still feel super uncomfortable whipping out my giant DSLR in tiny, full restaurants…)

The first place we ate it was a fully vegan tapas bar called VEGA only a short walk away from where we were staying in trendy Malasana. It’s a very small restaurant – only a handful of tables altogether, and the interior décor feels very artistic and cosy. To start we had a trio of appetisers for €4.50 including a beetroot hummus, an aubergine pâté and what I think was muhammara (a roasted red pepper and walnut dip) with some bread. The aubergine thing in particular was delicious! Rather than opting for a main each we thought we’d share a handful of tapas dishes together so we could try as many things as we could.

We went for the mushroom croquettes served with a wonderful creamy sauce, focaccia topped with a variety of roasted vegetables and a beef tomato carpaccio topped with nuts, rocket and pesto. The croquettes and the sauce they came with were out of this world – healthy, I assume, but still fried and comforting and delicious. The focaccia was tasty too, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the tomato carpaccio! I’m not much of a raw tomato kind of person, but the thinly sliced beef tomato with the flavourful pesto and nuts was a gorgeous, fresh flavour combination.

VEGA also serves a variety of vegan beers including some local ones, which were a delight to enjoy too. It was a great start to our trip and a high standard to set for vegan cuisine in Madrid, but after visiting some of the other restaurants this is probably ranked lowest on my list. Not for lack of quality – the food was fantastic and the service was good, if a little cold, but it doesn't seem from the reviews that anyone else had similar stiff service experiences. It just didn’t have the same comforting, casual and friendly atmosphere as some of the places we visited later. Nonetheless, VEGA is one of the top vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Madrid and if you want high quality vegan dining in a hipster, artistic atmosphere then this is the place to go.

The next stop was a lunch at Rayén Vegano, another vegan only restaurant a little further away from where we were staying. It was a bit of a pain to get to in the end because one of the most central and accessible Metro stations near us was closed for renovations and it made for some very inconvenient train journeys and a lot more walking than we would’ve preferred, but Rayén at least was worth it. It serves all organic food and is adorable inside, with cute tables, cushions and doilies and pro-veganism messages mounted on the walls. At lunch they do a set menu with two choices for each course, and we opted to try one of each and swap halfway through.

The starters were a soup made from apples, and a salad that I can’t quite remember exactly – it was either marinated vegetables or roasted vegetables, but either way both dishes were delicious.  I never would’ve thought to include apple in a savoury soup but the flavour combinations were wonderful.  Next was a vegetable tart with a creamy mushroom sauce, and curried chickpeas and vegetables on a bed of seasoned rice.  Again, both of these were amazing!  The seasoning they use was minimal but tasty, letting the fresh, organic produce speak for itself and the mushroom cream sauce was… wow.  I’m not exactly sure what was in the tart – I believe it was bean and tomato based – but the sauce worked brilliantly with it.

Finally we had a pair of desserts, which were a chilled cacao cheesecake and blueberry muffin.  The cheesecake was incredible, like eating a creamy, dark chocolate ice cream with a digestive biscuit base.  The muffin as lovely too with a gorgeous blueberry sauce filling, but it really needed the filling as I found it just a little bit dry.  The flavour combinations were still on point though, and we enjoyed the lunch so much that we booked a table for dinner the following night.

For dinner at Rayén they have a full menu that you can choose from, so we decided to have just a couple of mains and desserts between us. First up were the vegetable momos, which are apparently a Tibetan dish. They’re essentially little dumplings that were filled with veggies, some of which seem to remember were pickled? They were very tasty and incredibly moreish, and the soy dip they were served with was perfect. The other dish we tried was East Asian-style miso marinated tempeh, stir fried veggies and a bed of seasoned rice. Again, this was delicious and it was my first experience of tempeh – definitely going to be trying to get my hands on some for my own cooking soon, the texture was great!

Dessert was a pair of cakes, one carrot and one chocolate mousse cake. The carrot cake was beautiful with a faux cream cheese frosting and wonderfully moist in the middle, and the chocolate mousse cake was unlike any cake I’ve ever really had before. The cake itself was quite dense and a tiny bit dry, and it was on top of a biscuit-y base and topped with a chocolate mousse frosting.

I absolutely loved Rayén Vegano; the food and atmosphere were both wonderful and you can tell that the staff are vegans who love their lifestyle and sharing their food and their ethics. Perhaps the only downside is that it is a very ‘healthy vegan’ restaurant that focuses on nutritious, organic produce, so if you’re hankering for vegan junk food you won’t find much to satisfy your craving here. It’s a very small restaurant so if you go for lunch you’ll want to get there early, and if you’re going for dinner I would suggest you book in advance. The three course set lunch was crazy affordable at only €13.50 per person, but dinner was a little pricier at closer to €10 for a main. Definitely make some time to check it out if you’re ever in Madrid!

One place we were both super excited to visit was Llanten Veggie Bar once we saw that they had vegan chorizo on the menu – vegan chorizo! We simply couldn’t visit Spain and not have a vegan version of chorizo, come on. Llanten was just north of where we were staying and was either a not-too-long walk or a short Metro ride away, and is a traditional style vegan tapas bar. The décor is very simple and basic and it doesn’t look like anything fancy from the outside, but the food is really where it counts.

We first visited Llanten for a tapas dinner and shared our longed-for vegan chorizo and a couple of vegan empanadas. The chorizo was incredible. It was beautifully seasoned and subtly spicy, and the texture was more similar to black pudding than real chorizo. It lacked that chewy, fattiness that the genuine article has which, quite frankly, I was never a fan of anyway. Served with some lovely, crispy chips and an oddly coloured green, creamy sauce (which was also amazing, it just looked strange) they really hit the spot, and the empanadas – filled with mushroom – were amazing too. For dessert, we shared a mango cheesecake which wasn’t super mango-flavoured but was still smooth and creamy.

We loved the food at Llanten so much we came back for another round for lunch on what I think was our last full day, opting for the vegan chorizo (again) and a couple of burgers that we’d spied on someone else’s table on our first visit and decided we had to try. Again, these were amazing. The burgers were Mexican-style from what I can remember and were largely black bean based, but were still crispy and light and were served with a salad, skinny fries and a kind of spicy guacamole crossed with a tapenade that was the perfect combination of smooth, fresh, spicy and sour.

The meals we had here were definitely what we needed after the delicious but a little too on the healthy side for a holiday food that we’d had at the other places. Llanten is an excellent place to go in Madrid if you want vegan comfort food with a slightly traditional, Spanish twist. The staff are extremely welcoming and friendly and everything was really affordable and totally mouth-watering – just thinking about that chorizo again is making me hungry!

The last restaurant I have to share is one that serves meat but is otherwise veg- and vegan-friendly. Zombie Bar is a quirky, colourful bar that also serves a variety of burgers and I’d read that as well as having their own dedicated vegan burger, all of their other burgers could be made with the vegan patty. So, for a quick lunch we wandered over there and I had an amazing burger with pickles and onions, served with a side of still-hot, crispy chips. The patty, which I believe is soy-based, was incredible and startlingly similar to actual meat in texture. The food here was probably some of the most expensive we had in Madrid (the menu is similar in content and price to Hobgoblin in Brighton – gourmet burgers with vegan and vegetarian options for around £10-£15 each) but if you love a good vegan burger, give it a go. It’s a super casual place as it’s mainly a bar and it doesn’t even have a sign outside so you need to know where you’re going before you set out, but the food and cocktails are both great there, and it’s also super weird-in-a-good-way!  The menu is a little comic book, and they give you your bill and change in an old VHS box!

We were only in Madrid for a few days so I didn’t get the chance to try all of the vegan and vegetarian places I would’ve liked – we had tried to stop by La Oveja Negra and B-13 bar, both of which are more traditional tapas bars with an anarchistic feel and menus full of traditional style tapas and vegan junk food, but unfortunately both were closed whenever we came by and La Oveja Negra in particular was a bit too far out of our way to trek back to again. As well as those, just around the corner from us was Sanissimo, a vegan-friendly veggie deli and café and if you check, there are a ton of other restaurants there that have vegan options or can in some way cater to vegans and vegetarians. One of the craft beer bars we frequented – Irreale – was in no way aimed at veggies but had a very clearly marked, fully vegan option on their food menu (I had wanted to try it but on that day, they weren’t serving food, boo).

Don’t let Spain’s culinary reputation fool you, Madrid can be a haven for vegans and I hope this post helps anyone looking to visit!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

2 Favourite Dry Skin Saviours

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have days when my skin is dry. as. hell. Usually there’s some kind of a reason for it – drinking the night before, illness, exposure to a lot of air conditioning, for example – but other times, my skin just feels in need of hydration and I can tell it’s starting to get dry patches even when I’m moisturising regularly. My skin type started to change late last year and it’s no longer combination sensitive but dry sensitive, and thankfully my bestie Kate led me down the path of shea butter which made a huge difference! Sadly, shea butter doesn’t always cut it though, and on those really dry days I sometimes need to look elsewhere.

Enter, these two beauties.

My first dry skin saviour is a new addition to my collection that I received in my first LoveLula box in September: FOM London Hydra Plump Serum*. This little bottle is only a sample size, and the full 30ml bottle costs a whopping £46! Honestly, I wouldn’t have looked twice at it if it hadn’t come in my beauty box (it’s also not vegan, as it contains silk protein), but little did I know that this is basically a skin miracle worker. FOM London are a skincare brand that is centred around enhancing your skin’s natural renewal cycle, so that your skin stays healthier and retains elasticity, and you look more radiant and youthful naturally. All of their products are free from synthetic fragrances, parabens, silicones and more and all of their products are manufactured here in the UK. They’re also cruelty free – their website says that their products are never tested on animals, but not being satisfied with that single statement I got in touch and they confirmed this and that their ingredients are sourced from cruelty free suppliers, too, which was great to hear.

Their Hydra Plump Serum is designed to bind moisture and prevent its loss throughout the day, plus it contains hyaluronic acid and a fig complex with vitamins A and C to further enrich the skin. It boasts collagen support, complexion clearing and all kinds of other goodies, but that moisturising aspect is really where it shines. It's a very loose, liquidy serum and the instructions say to apply it in morning and evening by massaging around the face and then pressing the skin for several seconds in places between the chin and the forehead (which seems to set it and make it go very slightly tacky), but this is honestly so moisturising I don’t dare to use it twice a day every day. After the first day of testing it out, my skin wasn’t dry at all and I actually found that my nose was a little bit oily again (but not excessively) as if my skin type had switched back to how it used to be, instead of being bone dry. This is an expensive serum so I probably wouldn’t recommend taking the plunge without trying it out first, but unfortunately the trial size I received in the beauty box doesn’t seem to be available to buy anywhere, grr! Even so, the affect it’s been having on my skin is pretty much skincare witchcraft and I’m so happy it was included in my LoveLula box.

If the price tag of the above is out of your range though, then my next favourite product for quickly repairing dry or drying skin might be more up your alley. The Balm Balm Rose Geranium Organic Face Balm* is also 30ml for a full sized bottle, but is much more budget-friendly at only £8.95. Balm Balm is another natural brand that’s also 100% organic and made to Soil Association standards, and the products are designed to create affordable, multi-purpose skincare items that are nourishing and versatile. They’re also certified cruelty free and bare the Leaping Bunny logo!

The Face Balm, although advertised as a face balm, can also be used to moisturise your skin, tame your eyebrows, condition your eyelashes, soften your cuticles and condition your nails and more (and it can even be used on babies’ bottoms to protect their delicate skin). The little tube is convenient and perfect for travelling, and it contains shea butter, various oils and rose geranium essential oils which – so they say – is apparently good for balancing hormones. Unfortunately, it contains beeswax so isn’t vegan, which is a shame since there are other great natural vegan alternatives to beeswax! Still, this is a stellar product for anyone who buys cosmetics that contain bee products and is looking for a balm that will dramatically moisturise their face.

A little goes a long way as this product is very rich and softens to spread more easily, and it really is very hydrating. I first used this after a particularly heavy night of drinking and could feel my skin tightening up throughout the following day, so that evening I applied some of this a bit heavier than is usual to use as a night time moisturiser, and when I woke up there wasn’t a trace of dry skin in sight and my skin felt incredibly plump and happy. I also took a little pot of this with me on my recent trip to Madrid, and it helped to rehydrate and protect my skin after it was bombarded by dry, recycled airplane air, a new climate, tiredness and an irregular schedule!  It’s a nourishing, natural balm that doesn’t share quite as many of the skin-smoothing and collagen restoring properties as the FOM London serum, meaning that the latter might appeal more to folks looking to combat ageing and other specific skin issues, but it’s nevertheless a wonderful, simple little product in it’s own right.

One is certainly more expensive than the other, but each brings its own strengths to the table and it just depends on what type of product you’re looking for in a product. If anything, it just goes to show you that a skin saviour can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and costs (but both of these are can be found on if you’re after one). Needless to say, my dry skin is officially tamed and I will continue to love both of these and be reaching for them whenever I know my face needs some much-needed moisture and TLC!

What are your favourite products for your dry skin days?

* This review is not sponsored and has not been paid for, however the products were sent to me free of charge. All views and opinions expressed are my own.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Packing a Hand Luggage Only Skincare Bag

 This time several years ago, I would never have thought that I’d struggle to pack all of the skincare items I needed into my carry on luggage. The last backpacking trip I went on was to Thailand in 2012 and, well, let’s just say that my makeup and skincare regime was a little bit different and my beauty addiction hadn’t quite taken hold just yet. Given that I use about a million different products now and can use an ungodly amount of those in one day alone, I was pretty nervous about packing for my next couple of trips because – dun dun duuuun – I will be flying with only my hand luggage for both.

By the time you’re reading this post, I’ll be in sunny Madrid, and I can already tell you that my skincare packing was a success! I was honestly shocked to have managed to fit all of my necessary items into a clear bag smaller than the airline requirements. I know, unbelievable, right?! Since most of my readers probably have similar issues packing up their skincare stash to go travelling, I thought I would share a few tips that helped me to cut the crap and pack like a pro.

When you’re flying with only hand luggage, liquids are your worst enemy, so wherever you can, swap them out with something else. In the little Lush tub you can see pictured above are my soap (Lush’s Baked Alaska) and a solid deodorant (also from Lush, but I can’t remember which one). Also, fragrances – ditch the liquid perfumes! Don’t waste your valuable liquid space just for the sake of your signature scent; if you have a solid perfume, just take that instead.

I know everyone hates makeup wipes and says that they’re not good for your skin, but when you have a limited amount of space and liquids you can carry, you don’t want to be screwing around bringing makeup remover or cleansing oils or micellar waters. I usually use B.’s micellar water to remove my makeup, but I’ve swapped this out in favour of some Yes to Cucumbers travel sized wipes I nabbed on sale in my last LoveLula order. They’re lighter weight, easy to pack, don’t have to be stored with your liquids and no, using makeup wipes for a couple of nights on a city break isn’t going to ruin your skin. We all have to make sacrifices.

I don’t know about you, but when I dye my hair I go through several packs of product and always end up with spare sachets of shampoo or mini bottles of conditioner leftover. If I don’t feel like these are necessary for my hair’s recovery post-dye, then I save them for travel. This little Directions sachet is perfect for going in my hand luggage for a long weekend away (I only ever need to wash my hair once every few days so will only need do this once, if at all, on this trip) and the conditioner is a non-cruelty free brand I had stashed away from years ago.

If you use a day cream and a night cream or a day toner and an evening toner or a moisturiser in the morning and a hydration serum at night, ditch the excess! Find the products you have that work for you in multiple scenarios rather than just specific ones. Usually I use a different moisturiser in morning and evening, but my Ooh! Cacay Oil makes a great morning or night moisturiser, so I’m taking that instead of two products and saving space. I’m also only bringing the eye drops I can use with my contact lenses, when I usually have multiple drops on the go, only some of which can be used with contacts.

If you’re only going for a short amount of time, it’s not the end of the world to cut a few products out of your life for a few days. I’m not bothering to bring a toner, for example, because I know I can survive without it and it just takes up too much valuable space even when transferred to a smaller bottle.

Cases for reusable contact lenses make excellent tiny little pots to store your products for a few days! In mine I’ve packed a few days’ worth of my brightening serum, a face balm, a face mask and my face wash (which I’ll use with a muslin cloth to save packing an exfoliator). Don’t bother spending lots of money on cute little mini pots or bottles from Superdrug or Boots, just buy a pack of these off eBay – you can get about ten for as cheap as £2 and if you’re smart about how much product you’ll need, they can save you a hell of a lot of space.

Don’t waste your money on expensive travel-sized bottles of sun block, just squeeze your usual favourite into a smaller bottle. If you’re going hand luggage only, chances are you aren’t going to be there for long, so a little bottle of SPF50 should be enough to last you, especially if you’re going to a city where you’ll spend a lot of your time at indoor attractions like museums. On a semi-related note, pack a small bottle or a contact lens case of sunscreen for your face too, since I don’t know about you but I can’t stand having to use normal sun lotion on my face and it totally screws up my skin when I do.

When travelling with hand luggage only, you want to go minimal, but travel and flying can be really hard on your skin so for me, it’s also important not to forget the products that can save it when it’s in a real bind. Flying really dries out your skin, so pack a little bit of a product that you know will immediately rehydrate and rescue it after your flight. (If you know you’re going to be drinking booze a lot on your trip, this product can also act as a bonus anti-hangover dry, puffy skin saviour…) Different climates and different water while travelling can also create havoc with your skin, so if you can fit a teeny tiny bit of a face mask that you know helps to calm and balance your skin when it’s being troublesome, it can save you a lot of grief later. You don’t need a lot of product to make a big difference in how your skin reacts to your trip.

I hope these tips were at all helpful for you! Let me know what you’re favourite packing hacks are for travelling with only your hand luggage.