Review / Inika Certified Organic Primer

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid
Primers, primers, primers. Second only to concealers, primers are probably the beauty staple that I’ve struggled with the most since going cruelty free and vegan. Finding one would be a relatively simple task if it wasn’t for the fact that I also try to avoid silicone-based primers – I can use them occasionally, but regular use doesn’t really do my skin any favours. My Neve Cosmetics primer does a pretty great job and I would still recommend it since it’s an affordable vegan, cruelty free and silicone-free option, but I’m not a fan of the fact that it has a colour to it and I’ve still been left wondering if there’s something else out there that might be better for me. I only really discovered primers after I went cruelty free, so I hadn’t really had the chance to test many out and to be honest, I wasn’t always aware of what I was missing or what really makes a high quality primer.

Needless to say, when I discovered that Inika do a pretty good looking primer that seems to tick all of the boxes for me, I was dying to try it. Inika is an organic, natural brand that’s gentle on the skin, so their Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid* seemed like a good bet for someone like me who currently has sensitive, break-out prone skin.

Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid


Hyaluronic acid is pretty well-known in the beauty world for its moisturising properties, and the idea behind a primer containing it is that as well as creating a smooth base for foundation on top of your skin, it also helps to turn your skin into a better base by increasing hydration, plumping it up and evening out some fine lines and wrinkles. As I’m currently trying to put more time and effort into caring for my skin and focusing on improving my complexion without makeup, the idea of a cosmetic product that can help nourish and improve my skin on the occasions that I do choose to wear makeup is certainly an alluring one.

As with all Inika products, their primer is hypoallergenic and alcohol free, and boasts cruelty free, vegan and organic status. The packaging is the same look and feel as all of the other Inika products I’ve seen – simple, sleek and black, and this particular item comes with a lid and handy pump (which I much prefer for the sake of good hygiene).

The primer itself looks and feels much more like a moisturiser than the other couple of primers I’ve used; it’s just a soft, white cream in texture. It rubs in similarly to a moisturiser too, and feels extremely light on the skin. When I first tested it out, I wasn’t too certain that it did much for me, but when I tried one half of my face with the primer and one without, I noticed that the primed side actually felt quite a bit softer and looked plumper and more hydrated, and on closer inspection my fine lines and pores appeared ever so slightly reduced (but bare in mind, this isn’t a miracle worker, they didn’t vanish completely). And, because it’s so soft and light, I’ve found that a little goes a long way and you don’t need much to blend over your entire face.

Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid


When it comes to foundation, Inika’s primer does a great job working alongside that too. Using this primer, my liquid foundation holds up much better and thanks to the hydrating properties of the primer – which seem to give me skin a more dewy, natural glow – I find that I don’t need to go quite as heavy with my foundation as I might without it. Except for lip products, I never touch my makeup up throughout the day, so any items that can help it to wear a lil’ better and last a lil’ longer are winners in my book, and this primer has made the list. Particular around my chin (that I have a terrible habit of touching constantly), my nose, and other areas that can be a little troublesome by the end of the day, I’ve noticed that I tend to have a little bit more foundation left at the end of the day than I do when I haven’t used the Inika primer.

Be warned, though! This is a hydrating primer and although it gives my foundation a bit of extra staying powder and has definitely be great for my skin, it does mean that my skin looks a tad oilier once I hit the afternoon or evening. This is a primer that better suits people like me who want a more natural finish and don’t mind a bit of a sheen as it’s not mattifying at all, and if you have oily skin it may contribute to further oil build-up throughout the day.

Having said that though, in addition to it adding to how long my foundation lasts and its skin-replenishing properties, the fact that Inika’s primer also feels virtually weightless on my skin is a huge, huge bonus. I used to use a lavender tinted primer by KIKO that, although it helped to neutralise blemishes and smoothed out my skin really well, it also had a sort of unpleasant feeling on my face that I was always acutely aware of.  Primers are supposed to create a barrier on the skin, and, well, it definitely felt like I had an extra layer of something on. Even my Neve primer, despite containing no silicones, has a certain presence on my skin that I’m very aware of even directly after application and throughout the day, but that isn’t the case with the hyaluronic acid primer at all. As I said, it applies like a moisturiser and feels like a moisturiser – you can whack it on and forget that you’re even wearing a primer!

I can only think of two things that could be improved upon: 1. It’s a minor niggle, but having used a lavender-tinted primer before, if Inika’s had a lavender element to it to brighten the skin and neutralise discolouration, it would really take it to the next level for me and make it pretty much everything I want in a primer. 2. It ain’t cheap. At £29.50 for a 50ml bottle over on LoveLula I would consider this a high end product, although it does deliver great benefits and high quality for the price.

Inika’s products are known for being great quality, vegan and cruelty free alternatives to other brands and their Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid is no different. Even with the expensive price tag, I would recommend this and repurchase it in a heartbeat, because everything it brings to the table is well worth the cost. It’s smoothing, compliments my foundations well and increases their lasting power, and it also helps to nourish and hydrate so that my skin is improved too. It hasn’t broken me out, it doesn’t clog my pores and it doesn’t irritate or feel heavy on my skin either.

If you need a cheaper primer, I’d still point you in the direction of Neve Cosmetics or, if you aren’t fussed about silicones, then drugstore brands like B., Barry M and GOSH are super cheap and accessible and do some great, more affordable primers. But, if you are willing to invest in a product that will last you for quite a while and will help your skin as much as it helps your makeup application, then definitely give Inika’s Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid a try!

What are your favourite cruelty free and vegan primers?

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

Fitness shouldn't just be about aesthetics.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

It’s summer, and we’re well into ‘bikini body’ season. That means plenty of companies are clambering all over each other to try to get us to pay to work out or hit the gym or do whatever it takes to be skinny and svelte and, apparently, not feel embarrassed to chill in a swimsuit.  Bleh.

Encouragement to exercise is overwhelming focused on aesthetics and the pursuit of visual ‘progress’; anyone like myself who follows fitness influencers will no doubt see before and after photos on a daily basis. Images like these and the rhetoric that surrounds them and other campaigns to get fit place so much emphasis on achieving a nice-looking ‘result’ when, really, there are plenty of great benefits to exercising beyond changing our appearances.

Exercise doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym, ‘working hard’, running on treadmills or lifting weights. It can be anything from doing a little yoga sesh at home, going to a pilates class once in a while, deciding to cycle to work or just trying to walk a bit more often. It’s easy to feel intimidated by the time, effort and dedication that others put into working out, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you for in order for you to feel positive about it – we’re all unique, and we have to find what works for us.

So, what are some of my favourite non-aesthetic pros of working out?

It can be good for your mental health. If you’re lucky enough to have a good relationship with exercise, it can do wonders for your mental health. For me, working out is part of my self-care and is one of the only times when my anxiety switches off and my mind finally goes blank – all there is is me and whatever I’m doing at the time. Even just going out for a walk on your own to take in the sights and sounds around you can be therapeutic, uplifting and give you some time to get away from some of your daily struggles.

Of course, take this with a grain of salt, because contrary to what others might love to tell you, going for a walk isn’t going to cure your mental illness. Exercise can be a great addition to a healthy lifestyle for many people, but it won’t negate any mental health difficulties you might face.  Oh, and never feel like you need to try working out if you’ve struggled with things like disordered eating, over-exercising and so on before. You are never obligated to make yourself do something that makes you feel uncomfortable or at risk.

You get to wear cute workout clothes. Ok, maybe this is kind of an aesthetic point but, oh well.  I never used to be that into gym clothes, but honestly, I’m obsessed with sportswear now. Being really into the gym and going on such a regular basis, I now get to wear comfy, cute athletic-wear basically all the time and it’s great. Sorry uncomfortable jeans, I’m ditching you for some cute workout leggings that are functional and comfy as hell so I can go straight from lounging on the sofa to out and about around town to killin’ it at the gym! I am 100% on board with the athleisure trend and spend very little money on anything that isn’t sportswear these days.  Bliss.

It can be good for your physical health. Kind of a no brainer, but according to the NHS 150 minutes of moderate exercise (i.e. exercise that raises your heart rate, and makes you feel warmer and breathe quicker) is enough to dramatically reduce your risk of all kinds of different illnesses, from giving you a 20% lower risk of breast cancer to a 30% lower risk of dementia to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture. Assuming you’re physically able to, then doing small spurts of physical activity on a regular basis can contribute to living happily, healthily and independently into old age.

This won’t be the case for everyone (and, again, never force yourself if you’re injured, unwell or struggle mentally or emotionally with fitness) but taking up regular exercise has dramatically increased my energy levels. Although my body is obviously tired after weight training, I’m also positively buzzing and raring to go. The thought of going to work, then the gym, then out on the town used to seem utterly impossible to me in the past, but nowadays it’s something that I’m not only more than capable of, but actually do sometimes and feel amazing!

You can make or find great playlists. I don’t really listen to music in the gym anymore, but back when I did it was a great opportunity to find cool new music and curate my own badass playlists that got me motivated and excited to kick butt – all the more so when I rarely, if ever, listened to music any other time.  Some of my favourite songs and remixes I discovered through my old gym playlists I used to get off 8tracks (before it went to shit and stopped letting me stream through the app in the UK, R.I.P.). Since working out is a nice little slot of ‘you time’, it’s also the perfect opportunity to dedicate to listening to tunes you enjoy without worrying about anyone or anything else.

It can be fun. If you find something you enjoy, it can become something you look forward to each week instead of a punishment you dread every time it comes around. When I first started getting into fitness, I loved circuit training classes and the buzz of being in a group environment with all kinds of different people, and the positive atmosphere made it super enjoyable and kept me coming back for more. Things like swimming, team sports, dance classes, exercise classes, cross fit, hiking, dog walking and more are all vastly different and can be wonderful once you find the right one for you, and can be even more fun if you find a buddy to do them with and turn it into a social activity too.

Exercise may not feel enjoyable until you find something that actually suits you, but it takes time to figure out what gets you pumped. Fitness isn’t ‘one size fits all’, and it’s important to remember that you don’t have to love what everybody else loves. Just because fitness gurus or your friends are doing something, doesn’t mean you have to!

You can get stronger. A lot of us, sadly namely women, have the misconception that exercise = running or some form of cardio, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all. There are tons of different things that you can do instead of just hopping on a treadmill or cross trainer, and many of those things (like weight lifting or body weight exercises) make it really easy for you to feel how far you’re progressing in terms of strength. When I first started using dumbbells I could only do bicep curls with 2kg, but now I can do 7-8kg on a good day and I’m getting stronger all the time!  10 squats might be tough work for you the first time you do them, but within a few weeks it will seem like a piece of cake and the confidence and pride that can give you is pretty amazing.

It reminds us of what our bodies can be capable of. It’s easy to feel negative about our bodies when so much emphasis is put on how we ‘should’ look day in, day out. If you approach exercise with the right frame of mind though, it can become a great demonstration of how powerful you are and remind you of how magnificent your body and all bodies really are irrespective of how we look or what others think we should be. Whether you’re a competitive powerlifter, an average person who ran a new personal best or someone who struggles with chronic pain and simply managed to get up and out and about, all of those things – no matter how big or small – are physical and mental feats worth celebrating.

You don’t have to have a lean, muscular physique or a perfect peach booty to be a proud, powerful fitness badass. The images and accounts we tend to see when we peruse fitness communities online are only a small sub-section of people who actually exercise, and these communities are plagued with the same preferential treatment of thin, white, cis, able-bodied and conventionally attractive people that we get everywhere else. Strong, fit people who look like you exist, they just don’t get pushed to the forefront as often as they should be. ‘Strong’ and ‘fit’ don’t look the same on everyone.

You can learn to exercise for the simple joy of movement. Once you’ve picked out your cute clothes, found a good playlist and figured out what your favourite fitness activities are, you can learn to just enjoy exercise for the sake of enjoying it. Pure and simple movement, getting your heart rate up and doing fun, cool things with your body should be what fitness is all about; not grinding away, bored and frustrated, in pursuit of an aesthetic goal. At the end of the day, exercise should be loved as an activity in and of itself, not as a means to an end. If you don’t love it, then no matter what anyone else says, you don’t have to do it!

What are some of your favourite parts of working out?

You don't have to be perfect to be cruelty free.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

A selection of cruelty free beauty products
It’s funny sometimes being part of little pockets of the blogging ‘community’ – it’s easy to forget that not everyone is as into (so called) ethical living as it might seem in our little echo chamber. Every now and again, something squeezes its way into the bubble and shatters the illusion that… well, that people actually give a shit.

Despite it being 2017, if you tell other folks that you don’t buy cosmetics tested on animals, they’ll likely still look at you as if you’re some kind of hippy weirdo. When your average Joe reacts to this apparently shocking news, the tone of their voice and the look on their face often says it all and they may as well just tell you straight: “What? You don’t buy from brands that fund unnecessary, cruel animal experiments?! That’s pretty extreme.” It’s not surprising, therefore, that there are still scores of people who, while they might not admit it, quite simply can’t be bothered to go cruelty free and more still who feel they shouldn’t bother because it will never be ‘enough’.

There are a number of valid reasons why someone may not be able to buy exclusively cruelty free cosmetics, such as their income being dependent on it (i.e. small MUA businesses), skin conditions that mean they can only use certain brands, living in areas where few, if any, cruelty free brands are affordable or accessible, and so on. Can you guess how many people who aren’t cruelty free cite any of these reasons as why that’s the case? Hint: it’s a very, very small number. In fact, the majority of people who aren’t cruelty free who ever openly talk about why they’re not cruelty free often simply say that either a.) they feel like there’s no point, because they can’t go vegan or vegetarian or be fully ethical or go zero waste or blah blah etc. or b.) they like their favourite, animal-tested products too much to give them up.

Now, let me cover point b. in one quick swing: that’s some selfish bullshit. Yes, you read me right! I’m sure that might ruffle some feathers but, at the end of the day, if the only reason why you won’t even consider cutting animal-tested cosmetics – which aren’t even a necessity – out of your beauty routine is because you like the products too much or boo you won’t be able to wear your favourite lipstick anymore then yeah, that’s a load of shit. To prioritise lipstick and blush and nail polish over reducing the suffering of animals in laboratories who are tortured and killed in order to produce them makes you, quite frankly, lazy and extremely selfish. If there are no other circumstances like those I mentioned above that might make it more difficult for you to buy cruelty free, but you still choose not to in spite of the wealth of excellent quality alternatives at your fingertips, then I say it again: you are selfish. If that stings to read or bothers you in some way, then consider why. Take a seat, take a long hard look at yourself, do some research and try fucking harder.

With that out of the way, back to point a: “I can’t be a perfect cruelty free, ethical consumer so why even bother?” I get it. I really do – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all of the different ways to be ‘ethical’ and the different and increasingly demanding expectations that ethical lifestyle gurus seem to have of everyone. We don’t just have buying cruelty free cosmetics after all, we have being vegetarian or vegan, we have being minimalist and zero waste, we have buying organic and non-GMO and local, we have supporting independent brands, we have giving up fast fashion and much, much more. These requirements for being an ethical consumer just stack up and up and up to the point where it starts to seem completely impossible to actually be a good person, and makes you doubt the impact of even trying. Further still, it makes you doubt how well you’ll be received by the rest of that community – if I’m not seen as doing ‘enough’, there’s going to be people who don’t like that and will criticise me for it. If I don’t try at all, at least I won’t be seen as a hypocrite for claiming to be cruelty free but not being cruelty free ‘enough’, right?

Almost everything we buy presents a choice and an opportunity to pick the ‘more ethical’ one, but that simply isn’t possible for everyone. I’m vegan and cruelty free, and I’m trying to make an effort to reduce my waste and to stop buying from fast fashion retailers, but I also still use a lot of plastic and packaging. I still drive and use petrol. I still have to buy some things from fast fashion shops, because I need certain professional, office-appropriate clothes for work. Sometimes I still buy non-vegan clothing or animal tested brands for relatives who asked for them for gifts and wouldn’t take kindly to being presented with anything other than exactly what they wanted. I sometimes slip up and accidentally eat non-vegan things, or forget that some home accessories contain wool and buy them without realising. I will never be zero waste, and I will never be able to live off the land and be carbon neutral or anything like that.

And that’s okay!

There seems to be this common misconception among non-veggies and non-cruelty free folks that if you can’t go the whole hog, you’re not wanted and you may as well not bother. Honestly, I’m kind of tired of hearing that as an excuse. If you weren’t guaranteed that your hard work would get you a good grade or perfect score at school, did you just not bother? “Well, I know I’ll never be perfect so I’m not even going to try!” You can’t avoid accidentally stepping on a snail at some point in your life, so do you just make a point of stomping on all the snails that end up in your path because there’s ‘no point in trying when you can’t be perfect’?

This ‘all or nothing’ approach seems totally ridiculous when you put it into any other scenario, and whether you realise it or not, at the core of it you’re essentially saying: ‘I can’t completely wipe out all pain and suffering and bad things in the world, so I’m just going to carry on inflicting as much suffering as everybody else rather than make some small changes that might have a positive impact.’

The problem is, being cruelty free or vegan or vegetarian or trying to simply be a more ethical consumer has never been about being perfect. We know that we make mistakes, or that small animals might die when the vegetables we eat are harvested or that yes, the chemicals in our beauty products may have historically been tested on animals even if they aren’t anymore. We weren’t disputing that. No one is perfect, and if any other cruelty free people try to tell you that they are, I promise you that they’re full of shit and need to get in the sea. The point isn’t and has never been perfection; it’s reduction. Either we can be causing as much devastation as absolutely everybody else, or we can try to drop it down a few pegs and do what we can to make a difference. If we can all take small steps, within our means, to reduce animal suffering and the demand for animal testing in cosmetics, then we can begin to send a message to big businesses that they need to change.

That change is already happening. The Body Shop’s ethical principles had been heavily criticised since they were bought by L’Oreal (a brand notorious for its animal testing) a few years ago, and recently they were purchased by a new cruelty free parent company. This is at least in part down to the impact of cruelty free consumers challenging their supposed anti-animal testing views while simultaneously contributing money towards animal testing at their parent company.  In spite of their attempts to show that they were still an ethical brand, they simply couldn’t shake the backlash of being owned by L’Oreal.  Years ago Urban Decay had planned to start selling in China, where animal testing is required by law, but pulled out after heavy criticism and boycott threats from buyers who called them out for abandoning their cruelty free morals for the sake of extra cash.

Each time you go makeup shopping, you have a choice. Cruelty free products are not difficult to find, and they’re no more expensive than their animal tested counterparts. You cannot, in good conscience, claim to be against animal testing while still willingly purchasing from brands that test on animals. When you are informed and empowered and financially or geographically able to choose cruelty free products over animal tested ones but still chose not to, your decision is directly funding the torture, suffering and death of lab animals. It isn’t a complex ethical dilemma or a personal opinion – it’s a simple, empirical fact that your money is going towards animal testing, and that your continued custom will reassure businesses that they can carry on animal testing with no consequences to their profits.

Is your favourite lipstick worth the life of the innumerable number of rabbits or mice or dogs (yes, dogs) that suffered in order to produce it or to legally sell it in China? Is your favourite mascara worth the life of the animal who was repeatedly poked, prodded, burned, injected, had scalding chemicals dropped into its eyes and was finally ‘humanely’ euthanised once it looked to be in ‘too much’ pain? Sounds pretty extreme and very grim, right? Well, that’s the reality of beauty brands that aren’t cruelty free.  And all for what, right?  Makeup?  Really?

Next time you go shopping for your usual beauty products, consider trying out a new cruelty free brand instead of the animal tested giants like Rimmel, Revlon, L’Oreal, MAC and so on. If the thought of animals in pain when they don’t need to be strikes a chord with you, consider spending your money elsewhere instead of on NARS, who have now committed to selling in China and will begin testing on animals in order to do so. If you’re not sure where to start, there’s tons of online resources out there that can offer up a wealth of exciting, wonderful brands with ethics as lovely as their products – give them a try! Ask cruelty free beauty bloggers for their tips or suggestions, check out cruelty free reviews on YouTube.

No, we’re not perfect – none of us ever, ever will be – but you have so much more power than you realise, and the choices you make can help to change the world.

If you’re interested in going cruelty free, check out some of the cruelty free directories/blogs below and, as always, feel free to get in touch with me!

Review / Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity
When I first heard about Nabla Cosmetics, I knew I was going to have to order from them sooner or later. They do an amazing range of eyeshadows that you can have both as pots or refills to create your own palette, they even have cream eyeshadows and everything is vegan and cruelty free. When they announced that they were releasing a line of matte liquid lipsticks… that was it. Let the order commence.

In terms of shipping times, customer service etc. Nabla was pretty fantastic. I ordered a selection of eyeshadows and one of their Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipsticks in the shade Sweet Gravity, and was lucky enough to get express shipping half off during a special offer. Although based in Italy, delivery was attempted (but sadly not received as the courier only delivered on weekdays and I work full time…) within three days which is a hell of a lot quicker than some companies based even within the UK. And, although possibly for a limited time only thanks to Brexit, since the company is based within the EU we don’t have to pay extortionate customs fees in the UK to order from them!

The eyeshadows I’ll be reviewing in a separate post; today I just wanted to share my thoughts on the – spoiler alert – lovely liquid lipstick.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity Ingredients
Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity

Nabla’s Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipsticks are described as having an intense pigment that dries to a true matte finish, and is both long-lasting and non-sticky. They’re supposed to be ‘dreamy’ soft on the lips, so won’t feel heavy or be one of those liquid lipsticks that you’re acutely aware of on your lips as you go about your day. They’re also coconut and vanilla scented!

Sweet Gravity is one of their nude shades, and is described as a warm, rosy brown that looks like a great ‘my lips but better’ colour in their swatches. I was extremely tempted to order some of their bolder berry and red shades too (it’s hard to find a great matte vegan liquid lipstick in red) but I decided to just go for a nice natural shade to test them out, plus I’ve just plain been feeling nudes recently. If you’d like to read a review of one of their other shades, Vivi of Sammy Sans Cruelty did a great review of a pinkier shade called Roses that you can check out here.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity



Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity
The packaging for this lipstick, while pretty, does feel a little bit excessive. I don’t think the extra plastic and paper it comes in is really necessary, even if it does look lovely. The tube itself has a sort of frosted matte finish, but you can still see the colour through it, plus a nice, classy-looking gold lid and detailing. The doe foot applicator is one of the better ones I’ve used; it’s stiff but not too stiff, and very precise.

In terms of formula, I’m a real fan. The smell is lovely (but obviously wears off relatively quickly), and it is quite loose and easy to apply. One swipe is enough to get a nice, opaque coat, it dries quickly and, as promised, dries to a true matte finish that doesn’t transfer. On the lips, it doesn’t exactly feel weightless, but it certainly feels a hell of a lot more inconspicuous than other liquid lipsticks I’ve used. As it’s a matte lipstick, it does still slightly dry out the lips, however it’s light and airy enough to not feel unpleasant at all. As it fades, it fades subtly and doesn’t clump or flake, meaning that it both wears out in a flattering way, and is easy to re-apply without either taking it all off and starting from scratch or looking like a hot mess with 12 layers of chunky lipstick. As far as lasting power goes, it isn’t as long lasting as my Colourpop Ultra Mattes, but for the most part it still holds its own against them and lasts for most of the day and even through non-greasy meals.

The shade is one that I really like on me. I am always wary of warmer brown and nude shades, as I don’t always feel like they look the best on my skin, but this is a winner. On my lips and with my complexion, it just looks like a nude with a little more substance, and adds a bit more warmth to my face. Like any good nude lipstick, it draws a makeup look together and makes you look polished with minimal effort, and can be used with bolder and more natural looks. I think this could potentially look great with a variety of skin tones, but cooler toned folks may be better complimented by one of their other shades.

Nabla Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sweet Gravity Swatch


Sweet Gravity has become one of my favourite nude liquid lipsticks and one that I find myself regularly reaching for nowadays. It’s a great all-rounder, and with plenty of shades to choose from I already know I’m going to be doing another order for more! Each Dreamy Matte Liquid Lipstick is €14.90, so around £13.10 with the current exchange rate (damn it, Brexit), which is on the slightly higher end of affordable but much cheaper than most other accessible, long-lasting liquid lipsticks. As much as I love Colourpop’s Ultra Matte’s and how cheap they are, with the cost of shipping and customs fees it’s much more economical for me to order my liquid lippies from Nabla for the foreseeable future. Their current shade range is an exciting and unique collection for a first release – as well as more standard reds, pinks and nudes, they also have a more mauve-y greige shade, a powder blue, a black and a petrol green that all look incredible. I can’t wait to order that green and some of their glam red shades.

This lipstick has been super impressive and has definitely left me wanting more! Have you ever tried anything from Nabla before?

Review / PHB Ethical Beauty Liquid Eyeliner in Black

Saturday, 24 June 2017

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black
PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black

I’ve been a fan of PHB Ethical Beauty for a very long time now. I think I first started using their skincare products in 2013 or 2014, and those and their mascara in particular have been staples of my skincare and beauty regimes ever since. When I saw that they had come out with a liquid liner a while back, I knew that I was going to have to try it at some point!

The PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner* comes in two shades, black and brown, and of course I went for black because that’s just who I am. As well as claiming to be long lasting and water-resistant, the PHB liquid eyeliner also advertises major benefits for people like myself with sensitive eyes – they say it’s great for eyes that water easily, and is also PH balanced and made from botanical oils and minerals that are kind to skin. Over the past several years, my eyes have grown increasingly sensitive and I’ve found that they can get quite irritated when I use heavier eye makeup, so a natural alternative to liquid eyeliner that won’t leave my eyes a bloodshot mess was certainly appealing to me.

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner - Black

The eyeliner comes in a little tube with a thin, brush tip applicator. When I first took it out of the box, I could see at a glance that it isn’t quite like other liquid eyeliners – it isn’t as jet black, and there’s just something about the consistency in the packaging that seems different.  It also somehow almost seemed glittery in the tube and on the brush, even though it isn’t at all!  The brush itself is decent, but I personally feel it would have benefited more from a sponge-based brush or felt tip applicator like many other liquid liner pots like this tend to have. Although the brush does still manage to achieve thin, sharp lines, if you’re not careful it also has a tendency to leave little bristle lines that you can see in the swatch below.

The formula is a great consistency – not too liquid-y, not too thick, but it doesn’t give you a swipe of perfect, opaque colour and if you want a darker, more intense liner you do need to go over it a couple of times to achieve a bolder look. One thing to also be aware of with this product versus other liquid eyeliners is that, as I suspected, it isn’t a true opaque black. It looks a little bit like a dark, charcoal grey on the lids which I don’t dislike, but obviously won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner Swatch

When wearing this, I can definitely feel its sensitive eye benefits. My eyes didn’t go bloodshot, they didn’t get irritated and they didn’t water after applying this or throughout a day of wear. Often it’s a challenge for me to just get my winged eyeliner done without my eyes freaking out and looking awful afterwards, but that wasn’t an issue at all with PHB Ethical Beauty’s liquid liner. At least for me, this is clearly an excellent option for those days when I want to wear more dramatic eyeliner but my eyes might not be feeling up for being plastered in irritating products.

Throughout the day, I don’t really notice a lot of wear or fading when wearing this and it also doesn’t flake as some liquid liners I’ve tried in the past do (even more of a plus for my sensitive eyes). I can also rub it a lil’ bit and it doesn’t smudge or transfer. However, I will warn you that although it says it’s water resistant, it’s not nearly as waterproof as other liquid eyeliners on the market. It will withstand minor eye-watering, but if my eyes start streaming it starts to smudge in my outer corners and I don’t think it would stand a chance if I started crying or decided to wear it to a sweaty gym session. On the plus side, it’s quick and gentle to remove without ending up with panda eyes or black streaks across your face while you’re taking your makeup off.

Okay, it may sound from the above like this eyeliner doesn’t have tons going for it, but I actually really, really like it (and as you can see from my Instagram, it looks as bomb as any other eyeliner). Compared to other liners there are certainly some criticisms, but it’s also worth noting that none of the other liquid eyeliners I’ve ever used are natural – I’ve only ever used things like NYX, theBalm, Stila and (back in the day when I was still using animal tested stuff) L’Oreal. As a natural product that contains zero harsh chemicals and is designed to be gentle, this eyeliner actually holds up really well. For people like me who suffer from dry, irritable eyes it’s kind of a godsend. The eye makeup I want to do is no longer quite as dependent on how my eyes are feeling – if I want to wing it out and my eyes are feeling sensitive, now that I have PHB Ethical Beauty’s eyeliner I can!

If you live for a bold, sharp, blacker-than-the-abyss wing that will last all day even if you go swimming then, no, this product probably won’t be your jam. But if you’re like me, enjoy a good wing but don’t expect it to face every single trial life will through at you, and have problems with dry eyes or find that traditional liquid liners tend to irritate them or you’ve ever had a reaction to them, then this is probably a perfect alternative for you. This is also a great product for all you green, natural beauty lovers out there, because it’s cruelty free, vegan and contains none of the usual nasties that can end up in liquid eyeliners.

The PHB Ethical Beauty 100% Pure Liquid Eyeliner is available from LoveLula for £12.95, and on PHB Ethical Beauty’s website.

Do you have any liquid liner recommendations for sensitive eyes?

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

New B. Makeup First Impressions

Saturday, 17 June 2017



A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be invited to B. Makeup’s relaunch event in London. B. is a brand owned by and exclusive to Superdrug, and I had wondered why it seemed to disappear off the shelves for a little while – as it turns out, it’s because they were undergoing a complete rebranding and had some exciting new product releases lined up!

The event was great fun (any event with vegan donuts gets my thumbs up) and I even got to meet some wonderful vegan bloggers for the first time, which was really the icing on the cake. While we were there, we got a sneak peek at what they were going to be releasing and a goodie bag featuring some of their new range to try out too.

After checking out their displays at the event, I was very pleased by what they have to offer now they’ve rebranded. Although I love many of B.’s skincare items, I was never thoroughly impressed with their makeup. One good thing going for them at least was that everything was cruelty free and vegan, and that’s something that they’ve really uplifted and embraced with their relaunch. I like to think they’ve seen how well-received the brand was for being cruelty free and vegan-friendly, and are responding to demand - they even added a small snippet at the back of the promotional booklet we received, explaining the rise of veganism in the UK, demand for items free from animal products and how they continue to avoid any ingredients containing them that don’t fit with the vegan promise.

The first thing we noticed about the makeup is that it has a new look and I’m loving the direction they went with it. There wasn’t really anything that stood out about the old B. packaging (if anything it looked a bit cheap before), but their new packaging is all about sleek, matte blacks and simple, white logos that make everything look chic, luxurious and much more expensive than it actually is. The quality of their brushes has also gone up dramatically – I had a feel of a few of their new ones and they’re by far the softest, nicest high street brushes I’ve ever felt.

Since the event, I’ve been testing out the makeup bits and bobs that I received and wanted to share my first impressions*

Sculpt & Highlight Contour Pen in Dark (£8.99)

Okay, so obviously this is not the shade for me and my white bread complexion, but this is nonetheless an impressive little product. This is a soft, creamy pen with a dark end for contouring and a light end for highlighting, and it glides on and blends like a dream. It comes in four shades – light, medium, dark and universal (whatever that means?!) and although I’m not getting the best use out of it with it being too dark for me, I have still had a little play around with it and was impressed by the results. The formula gives a beautiful natural, dewy radiance that doesn’t look too stark when blended out and at £8.99 is a perfect product to try if you’re new to contouring and prefer cream products.

Velvet Matte Lipstick in Boom Shakalaka (£6.99)

I don’t really use traditional lipsticks much these days, but I can I get a holla for B. for coming out with a range of matte red and berry shades that are all vegan!? I swear, a good vegan red lipstick is hard to come by. This particular lipstick is a lovely true red shade with a matte finish that still retains a bit of sheen, and although it isn’t as long-lasting as I’d prefer it also doesn’t bleed or smudge around too much either. Despite it being a matte lipstick, the formula isn’t drying at all and it’s a perfect cruelty free, vegan alternative to other high street lipsticks. I much prefer to use nude coloured bullet lipsticks to bold shades, and having used this I’m really excited to give their two natural colours a go!

Defining Duo Liner (£6.99)

Another product that I was thrilled to see B. was releasing was this liquid liner pen. Again, decent felt tip liquid eyeliners that are cruelty free and vegan are very hard to come by, and this one has not one but two tips – one slightly thicker, and one thinner for sharper, finer lines. So far so good with this product; I’m always wary of pen eyeliners because I find the tip can start to dry up relatively quickly but I haven’t been using this long enough to know whether or not that will be a problem with this one. As far as colour goes, this is a true, opaque black, glides on like a dream and even produces some great, sharp flicks. My only minor complaint with the colour would be that it does sometimes look a bit glossy, as is the case with several liquid liner pens I’ve used in the past. While it isn’t waterproof (seriously, do not expect it to stay on if you’re really sweaty or cry) it is smudge proof to an extent – rubbing it only causes a bit of greyish transfer and wear but doesn’t smear it all over your face.

Velvet Matte Liquid Lipstick in Ravenous (£6.99)

Matte liquid lipsticks are pretty much my life, and I’m so excited that B. have released a range of colourful vegan ones. The one I received, Ravenous, is a lovely berry shade that applies smoothly and dries to a matte finish relatively quickly. It isn’t sticky and it isn’t as drying as other liquid lipsticks I’ve used, but you do still feel its presence on your lips. It isn’t as long wearing as my Colourpop liquid lipsticks (I can eat even greasy foods carefully in those, but this wouldn’t stand a chance against that), but still lasts a while and when it does wear out, it’s easy to touch up without having to remove the lot and start again. For £6.99 I’m pretty impressed with these – there’s currently 8 shades to choose from (including a great looking 90s brown called 1995) but I really hope these take off and they expand their shade range.

Lip & Cheek Tint in Frivolous (£6.99)

I feel like I don’t really see too many multi-purpose products on the high street, so it was nice to see that B. have created a range of cream lip/cheek products. This soft, lightweight tint is easy to apply and to blend and when used on the cheeks creates a lovely, natural flush once blended out. Although this isn’t a shade I’d have chosen myself, I still like it, it still suits me and the formula is great. This is a perfect product to take out in your handbag for a blush touch-up or to add a quick bit of no fuss colour to your lips on the go. As a lover of dewy finishes, I also love a good cream blush so these are perfect for me.

In addition to the above, I also received a few skincare items but I won’t go into any detail about those as, save for a few new products (including a great Beard Oil for men) their skincare line remains largely the same and has always been great quality for the price. Included in my goodie bag but not pictured, I also received one of their new eyeshadow blending brushes and it’s quickly become one of my favourite brushes, though not for its intended purpose! I’ve been wanting a new highlighter brush for ages but never really had a proper one before; I used to use my Real Techniques eyeshadow brush, my fingers and I had a brief foray into using a fan brush for a while and really didn’t get on with it. B.’s eyeshadow blending brush however, is the perfect soft, fluffy brush that’s still dense enough to give me a blended but bold highlight and I’m pretty much in love with it.

I’m super impressed by B.’s relaunch so far and looking forward to trying out more of their new range. Most importantly, they have fully embraced their vegan appeal and are actively providing an affordable vegan, cruelty free, high street option and have been the first high street brand to really commit to doing this.

The new collection is available on Superdrug.com and in some stores – I’ve heard from other bloggers that not every shop is stocking the new range yet, but fingers crossed and keep your eyes peeled.

* All of the products featured in this post were given to me free of charge, however this post is not sponsored and all views are my own.

The Good, the Bad & the Morality Language Assigned to Food

Friday, 26 May 2017

“I’m going to be naughty and have a donut, YOLO.”


“I’m being bad today, I’ll have a biscuit.”


“Oh, you’re being good having a salad for lunch!”

You may have seen other bloggers and even myself in a previous post mention the problem with ‘morality’ language surrounding food and dieting, and the above are only a few examples of what we mean.  They’re seemingly harmless, inoffensive comments that people make around us on the daily, but this kind of talk about food does far more damage than a lot folks might realise.

Most of us don’t even think twice about saying we’re ‘being bad’ by treating ourselves to a food we enjoy, but the reality is that this one of the many symptoms of a society that values thinness and weightloss goals, and shames those who aren’t thin or at the very least aspiring to ‘health’ or a smaller, more toned body.

When we hear this kind of stuff, it’s almost always light-hearted and never really serious, of course, but this type of language is code that (when you add it together with everything else in our world that elevates thin bodies, dieting and pursuit of so-called wellness or fitness) eats its way into our subconscious, to the point where we can no longer even talk about eating certain foods in some settings without having to either justify it, or to admit to ourselves and those around us that we’re somehow less principled for eating them.

I know what some of you might be thinking – but some foods are bad for you, that’s just a fact! And you’d be absolutely right! Some foods are bad for our bodies (although usually just when consumed in large quantities), or are generally unhealthy, but how often do you hear the people around the office say it’s the digestive biscuit they’re snacking on that’s bad? Or the donut that’s a little bit naughty? Or the low fat yoghurt that’s good and well-behaved? You don’t… because they’re almost always referring to the people eating them, and deciding that they’re behaving either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on the item of food they’re consuming. If it’s a healthy food, congratulations – you’re good! If it’s an unhealthy food, you’re living dangerously at best, naughty if you fancy a cringe or you’re down right bad at worst.

The problem with this way of talking about food is that you’re assigning moral language to yourself and to other people based on what they’re eating. The same can be said for ‘cheat days’ in the fitness world – if you have a day where you treat yourself and eat something you enjoy that might be a little less healthy, you’re likening yourself to a cheater, i.e. immoral, bad, untrustworthy. In a certain well-known diet group (you know the one), foods you’re supposed to avoid are even called ‘syns’, as in, you know, some of the most immoral acts you can apparently do according to some religions…

As innocuous as this language can seem when you’re chuckling about it with friends or family or co-workers, it’s closely interwoven with a culture that doesn’t just fear but loathes fat, and upholds the dangerous ideas and stereotypes that ‘we are what we eat’ and that what we choose to put into our bodies somehow dictates whether or not we’re deserving of respect.

Implying that someone is ‘being bad’ for eating a cupcake might seem like nothing, but it’s actually one of thousands of tiny little ripples that feed the tidal wave associating fat bodies with being gluttonous, sinful and shameful. When pieced together these comments create a clear and harmful picture of thin bodies (i.e. those who are good and consume good, healthy foods) as an ideal we are all constantly expected to aspire to, while fat bodies (i.e. those who are bad and consume bad, unhealthy foods) are seen as unsightly and indicative of laziness and a lack of self-respect.  If you’re fat then you’re likely to be automatically branded ‘bad’ at first glance, but if you’re seen as trying your hardest to be ‘good’ and to have set weight-loss goals and be eating ‘good’ foods, then you can be redeemed.  Those who make a point of trying to be thin are elevated somewhat above those who don’t actively advertise to the world that they’re attempting to fit into the very small, lean mould we expect them to.

Regardless of whether or not a particular food or a person is healthy, we need to stop assigning praise to some foods and guilt to others – we should never be made to feel guilty for eating or inferior because we wanted to eat something we actually enjoy instead of something we’re supposed to feel like we ‘should’. That guilt is what can develop into calorie tracking, working out so that you feel deserving of food, low self-esteem, body comparison or in some cases, even eating disorders.  How often have you felt like you ‘need’ to hit the gym because you had a couple of these naughty foods and need to work off the extra calories to feel better about your decision to eat them?  I’ve lost count of how many times this has crossed my mind over the years, and it’s a product of this form of diet talk!

Eating healthy or unhealthy, being thin or fat, or fit or unfit doesn’t define your character. At the end of the day, whatever you choose to eat, your food is just fuel. If you choose to fuel your body with healthy things like salads and quinoa and roasted veggies then that’s cool, but contrary to what this coded language we use to talk about food implies, it doesn’t make you better than someone who chooses to fuel their body with chips, beans and pizza. Further to that, sometimes these so-called ‘bad’ foods are exactly what we need at the time – I don’t know about you, but the occasional donut or burger can be great self-care and make me feel happy!

Eating unhealthy foods doesn’t make you any less deserving of respect and you most certainly don’t have to earn the right to indulge. Next time you think about calling yourself bad or your friend good because of what you’re eating, stop yourself. Remember that saying things like that can feed your own and others’ insecurities, and that food is just energy and not a test of character.

 You’re not cheating for ordering what you want when you’re out to eat with friends; you’re just treating yourself. You’re not bad for eating a cookie because you fancied a cookie with your cup of tea. You’re not naughty for eating a bag of Asda jam donuts all to yourself; you’re just living your best life and eating what you love. You deserve to eat nice things, and you should never have to justify it to other people or to yourself.

You do you boo, treat yo’ self.

Review / Walden Natural Perfumes: A Different Drummer

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Not long after I started to get more interested in perfumes, I received the latest press release for one of the latest additions to LoveLula, and was delighted to see that it was a new high end, cruelty free and vegan line of fragrances. The new brand, Walden Natural Perfumes, takes its name from the works of transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The book itself is a reflection of simple living in natural surroundings, and walks the line between an autobiography, and a social critique of consumerist attitudes and attachment to the material, hustle and bustle world in which we live.

The brand shares much the ethos detailed in Walden – one that I can very much relate to as a nature lover who is increasingly feeling alienated and frustrated by the materialist ways of today’s world – and each fragrance is said to be made from only the finest natural absolutes, resins and essential oils. The perfumes are named after and inspired by quotes from the book, and were created with the themes of nature, spiritual awakening and solitude in mind.

Given the heavy links to nature and the natural world, I was very keen to see how they smelled since I’m someone who tends not to enjoy traditional perfumes; I find they smell too harsh, alcohol-based and manufactured (and just stinky and unpleasant). I did a little reading about each fragrance, and eventually selected A Different Drummer* to try, as it sounded right up my street.



This particular fragrance drew me in almost immediately, as it’s described as opening with a spicy blast of pepper, followed by cedarwood, amber, and finishing with sandalwood. I tend to prefer spiced, woody, earthy smells so it seemed like my perfect scent on paper. When I first tested it out, I must say – I wasn’t sure if it was for me! The smell caught me off guard, and was indeed quite strong and peppery, with an almost musky kick. Once it started to settle however, I noticed the other notes to it, and the fiery blast dulled down to a warm, spicy scent complimented by the clean, woody smell of cedarwood and the sandalwood notes. After a while of mixing with my body chemistry, it takes on a faintly sweeter dimension but maintained the warm, musky tone to it.

From what I know about traditional perfumes, this doesn’t last quite as long as some (but none can be expected to last the entire day). I can still smell it very faintly on my skin at the end of the day, but I’ve found spritzing a little bit on my sleeves or collar as well as my skin helps to layer the scent and keep it going for a little while longer.

Despite my initial reservations when I first smelled it, I’m extremely enamoured with it now and have been really enjoying wearing it. It lends itself well to the quote after which it’s named: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” It’s a truly unique scent, unlike anything that I’ve ever really smelled in a perfume before, and the way that it changes after a while of hanging in the air or of settling on my body throughout the day is so multi-dimensional. It evokes warmth, confidence and self-assuredness; a reminder to grow, follow your own rhythm and resist the conformity that our world so fiercely tries to box us into.

I look forward to applying A Different Drummer each morning, and am happy to say I will definitely be looking to Walden Natural Perfumes for my future fragrances. The packaging for each perfume is beautifully simple and elegant; a 50ml glass bottle, with a removable wooden lid that reveals the nozzle. The prices vary very slightly between fragrances, but A Different Drummer is £50 per bottle, which I would argue is reasonable and expected for a cruelty free alternative to high end fragrances.

To me, Walden’s fragrances successfully set themselves apart from the over-produced, sickly scented high street, high end perfumes that I’ve learned to hate over the years; these really do march to the beat of their own drums, and it’s a beat I can get behind.

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

The Fatphobic Problem in Plant-Based Living

Saturday, 6 May 2017



Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you’ve probably heard all about the Lush controversy. I won’t get too bogged down in the nitty gritty of the issue, but in an nutshell, they shared some rather insensitive ‘medical facts’ relating to obesity, lifestyle and early death on their Instagram feed. Ultimately, as Lush is a brand who has claimed heart-felt ethics, inclusivity and has used body positivity as a marketing tool in the past, it didn’t go down well that they were sharing content that – medical fact or not – alienated and shamed swathes of their own customers.

In the wake of those posts, a lot of problematic issues in various communities came bubbling to the surface. Slews of bloggers rushed to their defence, in one way or another, creating a divide in the body positive community between those whose body positivity extends only as far as healthy (read: acceptable looking) bodies, and those who believe that all bodies deserve respect and love irrespective of health.

Obviously, there is a lot to be said about that, but I’m not the one to say it today. Instead, I want to address a couple of different groups that intersect here – the vegan, plant-based and general ‘wellness’ communities. Given the circles I surround myself with in the blogosphere, it’s not surprising that a few of my fellow plant-based Internetizens had a few things to say about this, and honestly, what many did share didn’t surprise me at all.

Veganism and plant-based living have long been equated with fatphobia; a certain amount of it I would argue is created by those outside, looking in. A lot of omnivores have a certain image of those who abstain from animal products as being super skinny, athletic and existing with 1% body fat on nothing but veggies and copious amounts of fruit, and many of those same omnivores might dip their toes into plant-based diets purely for the supposed health benefits. Vegans who don’t fit this skinny, fit mould or who are just straight up fat occasionally find non-vegans questioning whether or not they’re really vegan, because ‘aren’t vegans all really slim and skinny and healthy-looking?’

That said, the nature of some of the arguments behind why we should go vegan leads plenty of those who promote plant-based and vegan living down a hella fatphobic road. The health benefits of a varied, plant-based diet are many – eating large amounts of certain animal products is correlated to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, high cholesterol and, on the whole, dying earlier than those who don’t eat these things. Not to mention the fact that meat and animal products are also generally less nutritious than they were fifty years ago (thanks to industrial farming and animals reared in unnatural environments and on less nutritious meals themselves) and are also often hormone-, drug- and/or disease-ridden.

Given all of that, it’s only natural to want to spread the word about how eating fewer animal products and more plants can help to improve your health. I’ve felt plenty of major health benefits from going vegan myself; I’m more energetic, I look healthier and more radiant, my hair and nails are stronger, my IBS symptoms have improved and my hormones are less all-over-the-place than they were pre-veganism. How we go about doing that though, is where the problem lies.

Vegans and plant-based folks are often accused of fatphobia and bodyshaming because, well, they often are fatphobic and bodyshame. For some, fat bodies become a tool used to guilt and scare people into giving up animal products.  For example, I’ve seen a number of illustrations shared among the plant-based social media communities in the past, depicting fat silhouettes filled with illustrations of burgers, chips, chicken wings, donuts etc. contrasted with skinny silhouettes filled with vegetables, fruits and nuts.  Pro-plant-based cartoons and illustrations depict images like fat people lounging on sofas, stuffing meat-based fast food into their mouths with ‘ironic’ speech bubbles such as ‘I won’t go vegan, that’s not a healthy lifestyle’. The identities of fat people and the fact that they are living, breathing humans deserving of respect are stripped away, and instead they become a cautionary tale or a side-by-side comparison essentially to say ‘this is what a vegan body looks like, but this is what a body that eats meat and cheese looks like – yuck!’

Warnings about the so-called obesity epidemic are rife in plant-based communities, because plant-based diets are viewed (understandably) as a solution to that ‘problem’. And this isn’t just vegans, of course, it’s the ‘wellness’, ethical and sustainable living communities too. Basically, any group of people for whom what we eat is a large part of our lifestyle and our view of the world around us. The issue here though, is the fact that folks who use this as ammunition in their fight to promote these lifestyles are often dehumanising other people. They’re reducing fat bodies to a societal problem to be solved, a symptom that can be cured if only you would only put down your bacon sandwich and pick up a green smoothie instead, and that is not okay.

For a start, at least in the vegan world, not every vegan or plant-based individual is healthy. You can be vegan and exist on little more than potatoes, Oreos and pizzas smothered in Tesco free-from mozzarella – that’s not healthy. Secondly, not every fat person is unhealthy. Regardless of whatever statistics you want to try to throw at me, ill health and being fat might be correlated in some circumstances but are not intrinsically linked; a fat person can eat well, get plenty of exercise and still be fat. Fat people can even suffer from eating disorders and, yep, you guessed it! still be fat. You simply cannot know just by looking at the size of someone’s body what their lifestyle and diet are like. Finally, and this is the kicker that has come out of all of this, even if someone is unhealthy it doesn’t mean that they are undeserving of respect and being treated like a human being.

It’s absolutely okay to use statistics and facts to back up the very real health benefits of giving up animal products, but what’s not okay is to use living, breathing people and entire body types as expendable props and horror stories to justify our arguments. You just need to learn the damn difference.

Sharing with a friend that those who eat a wholefoods, plant-based diet have a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who eat your average, animal product inclusive diet is totally cool. What’s not cool, for example, is the sharing of ‘shocking’ images of fat bodies and talking about how diet-based lifestyle choices are going to kill you and how going vegan would ease the strain of obesity on the NHS. Nor is talking about how obesity and being overweight is killing us all, and that ‘lifestyle choices’ (i.e. being fat) are a major cause of death, so 'lol go vegan!'. Nor is using the simple idea of looking fat as a cautionary tale for giving up animal products, and promoting thin bodies as a holy grail you can finally find if you go vegan or plant-based. In the first example, you’re sharing an objective statistic about the benefits of a plant-based diet. In the others, while they may be ‘facts’, you’re demonising and dehumanising an already marginalised group of people, equating body size with total body health, and reducing fat bodies to curable, medical conditions that are at best just lazy and at worst burdensome.

Those might sound like odd or extreme examples, but they’re all examples that I’ve seen. There are certain vocal members of plant-based communities who feel the need to comment on Instagram images of fat people, and share why they should go vegan for the sake of their health and appearances. There are plant-based YouTubers who tell their viewers that if you’re plant-based and fat, then you’re being lazy, not working hard enough and you’re doing it wrong. There are plant-based people who fight for the rights of animals to not be used as objects for human consumption, yet at the same time will reduce fat people to faceless fat bodies, unsightly creatures and problems viewed from a medical lens – essentially, turning them into objects, using the same tactics commonly used in the media used to scare the public and serve certain agendas.  Hypocrisy much?

If we can extend our compassion to animals and the environment, we should be able to extend our compassion to other groups of humans who are so often marginalised and mistreated by society. Veganism and plant-based diets have plenty of benefits without having to resort to turning fat bodies into objects to use to promote our lifestyles. If ‘but you can be skinny instead of looking like THAT’ or ‘but don’t you know obesity is costly and deadly and you’re less likely to be obese if you’re vegan/plant-based’ are the only arguments you can think of to adequately fight your corner then, honestly, you’ve got some problems with your ethics there, sort yourself out. Fat people are people; not statistics, not propaganda. Fat bodies are deserving of respect regardless of whether or not they are healthy, and fat people deserve more than to be treated like medical symptoms, deterrents or fucking wake-up calls.

If you take away nothing else from this, then at least remember that as a movement that can benefit so, so many, it simply doesn’t make sense to alienate and exclude groups of people in the way that this approach to plant-based activism does. This type of behaviour and this use of other people as ammo for your cause does little to sway many towards plant-based living and gives veganism and plant-based communities a terrible, exclusive and uncompassionate reputation.

Basically, don’t be that guy.

My First Cervical Screening

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Cervical screening, smear test, pap smear, whatever you want to call it, if you have a cervix they’re important to have done. If you don’t already know, cervical screenings are a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, enabling you to get them removed and often prevent cervical cancer. In the UK, they’re offered to all women aged 25 and beyond who are registered with a GP, and between ages 25 and 49 you need to have them done once every three years.

Cervical screenings themselves don’t actually detect cancer, but they do detect the abnormal cells that could later develop into cancer, enabling them to be swiftly removed with no harm done. According to the NHS, since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cases of cervical cancer per year has decreased by about 7% - clearly it’s something worth doing!

And yet, they have a pretty bad rap – it’s only been in the past couple of years or so, when people in my social circles have started to become more open and passionate about promoting regular screenings, that I’ve actually started to hear anything ‘positive’. Prior to that, it was all horror stories and tales of discomfort and awkwardness and embarrassment over having another person shove a plastic duckbill up your junk.

I must admit, although I preach booking in for screenings and looking after your vagina, cervix and everything else in that vicinity, I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I was first invited for a screening about a year ago. I didn’t avoid going out of fear or embarrassment, rather I was convinced that working full time and based on previous experience, I wouldn’t be able to get an appointment that I could actually go to at my GP, so I just kept putting it off. Much to my surprise, when I finally bit the bullet and rang up last week, they gave me a 7:30pm appointment just over a week later! So, I went for my screening.

The nurse was very open and honest, and made me feel perfectly at ease. She verified that I was on the implant (I am), asked when my last period was (it’s been irregular lately, I’ve had two in the space of a month and a half) and asked if I was aware of any possibility of pregnancy (I hope not). After that, she explained the process. Essentially, all the nurse does is lube up a speculum (a plastic device that slides in and can be opened slightly to widen the vagina and enable them to insert the brush), sticks it in, opens it, inserts the brush used to collect the samples, and once the cervix is found a quick sample is taken and you’re done. She didn’t mince words and warned up front that it doesn’t feel pleasant, but that I was under no obligation to power through it if I was really uncomfortable. She maintained that it was important that, especially as it was my first experience, I wasn’t horrified into not coming back again for my future screenings and needed to leave the surgery feeling comfortable and confident in coming back again.

I was already wearing an easy-access dress, so all I had to do was kick off my shoes, take off my underwear and hop onto the bed. Don’t do what I did and whip your legs open there and then – apparently the proper position is feet together but knees apart and relaxed, and I have no boundaries… But, once I was comfortable, she talked me through each step.

First she applied lubricant to the speculum, which isn’t really all that intimidating looking if you’re already sexually active and use penetrative toys, but maybe that’s just me. She let me know exactly when she was inserting it, and really the only major discomfort was when she opened it. That was probably the worst part of the whole experience, and even then it was only grimace-inducing discomfort and not something that I was desperate to recoil from.

Next, she inserted the brush. Contrary to what people suggest, you aren’t literally scraped with some horrible metal scraping device – it’s just a little soft, rubbery brush and it’s rubbed gently along the wall of the cervix. This was the part she warned me could take a bit longer and potentially be quite uncomfortable, because it all depends on how easy it is to find your cervix. It was an odd sensation, but I wouldn’t say it was awful. We chatted about it briefly afterwards and both agreed that it just felt off and not-quite-right as opposed to outright unpleasant. In any case, if there are no other positive things to be said about me, I at least have an easy-to-find cervix and the entire physical procedure of my cervical screening was over in probably under two minutes altogether, if that!

After that, I just popped my pants and shoes back on and went on my merry way. The results will take about two to four weeks and are sent to my house directly; if there are any abnormalities, they will invite me to another appointment at a hospital to investigate further within ten days of receiving the letter. Because it’s a preventative measure that might save a life, they’re pretty hot on getting people in as quickly as possible. If I do have to attend an appointment like that and confirm abnormal cells, they laser them there and then, and then I’d have to go back for another look later, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

When I got back home, I did notice some bleeding, but this is apparently not uncommon and I expect it may be in part due to my irregular periods the past couple of cycles and the fact that I could be due for mine literally today.

All in all, the experience really wasn’t as intimidating or awkward as we can be made to believe, or as we make ourselves believe from overthinking. Provided that your nurse or doctor is warm and professional, you shouldn’t have a problem and the procedure itself is extremely quick in spite of the discomfort.

In England during 2014-2015, 6.4% of the 3,073,833 of those screened showed some kind of abnormality*. Not all of those may have been or develop into something dangerous, and 6.4% may not seem like a lot, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that I could be in that percentage, or my friends could, or my family could. In 2014 in the UK, around 9 people were diagnosed with cervical cancer every day, and cervical screenings – however awkward they may feel – are there to prevent that from happening.

If you’ve been putting off booking your cervical screening, I encourage you to bite the bullet and do it. It’s really nothing to be afraid of, and it’s an important procedure to look after your physical health and protect you from serious illnesses later on down the line. You can book yourself in for a screening by contacting your GP, and you can find out more information about cervical screenings in the UK on the NHS website.

* Statistics from Cervical Screening Programme for England, Statistics 2014-15

Why I Don't Like Diets

Monday, 17 April 2017



Like every other year, January was filled with diet-talk a-plenty and the past couple of months have been filled with people getting ‘bikini body ready’ and doing ‘summer shreds’, but one thing that I never really expected to see was, well, criticism of people criticising diets. Maybe I just wrapped myself up too well in my body positive bubble, but I had thought for some time that most people were in agreement that diets weren’t a good thing and that we should be challenging the system that promotes them.

Quick disclaimer though, when I say ‘diet’ here, I’m obviously (I hope) not referring to people who simply talk about what they eat – I talk about my diet in terms of the food I eat all the damn time on my blog because I’m vegan and that’s part of what I blog about. Other people may talk about their diets a lot out of necessity or to spread awareness because they’re gluten intolerant, because they’re recovering from an eating disorder, because they’ve got a bowel disorder, whatever. What I do mean here when I use the word ‘diet’ is dieting, overthinking, obsessing, restricting, eating in unusual, unhealthy etc. ways strictly for weight loss.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against health and fitness, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the notion that dieting and healthy living are one in the same – they’re not. There’s nothing healthy about this kind of diet culture at all; it’s an industry designed to foster insecurity, to tell us that we always need to be a little bit slimmer and have to spend our money to achieve it. After the holiday festivities of December, in January we’re bombarded by ads for weight loss products and programmes, sold a future of being happy and beautiful if only we can drop a few pounds.  Then there’s a brief lull, before the pressure starts all over again to be fit and skinny for summer, so that we can look ‘good’ in a bikini.

If you want to start eating better and getting fitter and living a healthier life then that’s cool and I’ll always support people in their goals to live well! I did much the same thing a couple of years ago now, and I haven’t looked back. Making healthier lifestyle changes is a hugely positive step to take and can have a dramatic impact on your mental and physical health, and a changing body can also be a side effect of that. The difference between that and dieting though, is that one is a simple, healthy lifestyle change. A resolve to eat a lil’ healthier, get a bit more exercise, to treat your body better. The other, however, is an industry that encourages calorie restriction, guilt, excessive exercise, self-hate, shame, disordered eating and anxiety over numbers on a scale that, in reality, are little to no indication of your health or, yes, even your size.  They don’t care about your health or happiness, they just want your money.

A lot of folks try to argue that there are benefits to these types of ‘dieting’ but, come on, when you so much as look up the dictionary definition it’s all about pure and simple restriction with the purpose of weight loss. Look up synonyms and you see things like eat sparingly, eat selectively, abstain, fast. There’s nothing wrong with altering what you eat and how you live for the sake of your physical health, but ‘diets’ and the restriction that they promote simply aren’t healthy. What most fail to realise through no fault of their own, is that restriction not only often ultimately leads to failure when trying to lose weight, but also poisons our relationships with food in a long-lasting, dangerous way.

I can understand why people who have resolved to go on a diet might be frustrated by all of the criticism flying around; those of us who are against dieting can be quite vocal about it and it’s easy to see why some might take it personally. It’s a criticism of a choice you’ve made for yourself, so it’s bound to rub you the wrong way. That said, at most a dieting person is annoyed and feels awkward and a bit singled out. Diet talk and promotion of dieting on the other hand is incredibly toxic for those around you, and upholds the damaging status quo that we should all be aspiring to weight loss, that success comes with weight loss, that happiness is attributed to weight and that the food we eat is an indicator of our morality (i.e. ‘being good’ vs ‘being bad’ depending on food choices).

 Diet talk and bikini body seasons are dangerous times for people who already struggle with food and body image, and we’re all already inescapably subjected to weight loss ads and encouragement to diet simply from the media that we have no choice but to consume – we don’t need it from all sides in the office, online community and social circles we surround ourselves with too.

When people say ‘I don’t care about your diet’ or criticise diet culture, it isn’t necessarily intended as an attack on those who wish to lose weight. It’s an attack on the industry that teaches us that our worth is measured by the size of our waistlines, and that being skinny should be a goal we all aspire to regardless of the costs. It’s an attack on the industry that is responsible for and continues to promote eating disorders and other mental health issues associated with body image. Hell, on the day that I first sat down to write this months ago, a so-called ‘body positive’ model and ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) had been criticised for using her platform to promote her restrictive weight loss and exercise plan for crying out loud.  (She has since apologised and taken it down, I believe, but come on!)

If you want to get fit, to eat better, then do it!  It’s an intensely complicated subject, but a desire to change your body or to get fit doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t love yourself as you are.  There isn’t necessarily any shame in wanting to change your body (although the dream would certainly be to live in a society where everyone is comfortable and happy in their own skins as they are). But, if you’ve decided to try and lose weight, you also need to be critical of why that is and to remember that if your end goal is to simply look thinner, it can’t really be just for yourself.

A desire to be slimmer does not and simply cannot exist in a vacuum – it’s the product of a society that pushes thinness and beauty on us from such a young age that children as young as three are now known to be affected by body image issues. A wish to exclusively lose weight (not to get fit, to get healthy, to eat better, to get stronger, to get better at running, to take up a sport etc. – just to lose weight, to get smaller, to be thinner) can never just be our own because our aspirations to be smaller are intrinsically linked to the messages our society feeds us associating thinness with being ‘better’.  These messages can be as obvious as fatphobic advertising or as insidious and subtle as the sea of super slim bodies that dominate our screens.  They tell us, in no uncertain terms, that to be thin is to be happier, more beautiful, more successful, more intelligent, more worthy of being loved, more able to love ourselves.

I don’t like and will never support diets because messages like those should be challenged, not inadvertently promoted.

If you’ve chosen to make weight loss a goal, please take care of yourself. Don’t listen to the diet talk and don’t allow yourself to be manipulated into thinking that you are only worthy of taking up space if you manage to shed a few kilos. Don’t over-exercise or listen to the people that tout it as a great method of weight loss, and don’t believe the lies that people and brands tell you about restrictive diets being a key to slimming success. Eat healthy, don’t let yourself go hungry, be active, be patient (physical changes take months or even years of work, not the mere weeks diets would have you believe) and, most importantly, remember that whatever your goals, your beauty, confidence and whether or not you deserve to go ahead and live your best life now are not defined by your size.

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