Current Favourite Products for Heat-Free Hairstyling

Sunday, 22 April 2018

A few years ago I resolved to take better care of my hair, and part of that process involved investing more time and more money into it. I’ve always had thick and (according to other people) luxurious hair, but as it gets longer and with it being colour treated, it’s extremely prone to breakages and split ends. Over time, as I’ve grown more and more comfortable with my natural hair and wearing it wavier or curlier, I’ve experimented with different products and methods of caring for it and I thought I would share three of my favourite things to use lately now that I’m avoiding using any heat tools on my hair.

Currently, my hair is lightened and dyed, so is most definitely chemically damaged. Since I started getting it coloured again, I decided to kick the heat-styling and have started doing wet-set pincurls for a nice natural, loose wave instead of using my straighteners. The less damage I can do to my hair the better, especially since I want to see just how long I can get it again before I inevitably decide to chop it all off!

As well as avoiding heat-styling, I should also mention that I only wash my hair once per week. Yes, once per week! I won’t go into my shampoo, conditioner and treatments in this post, but essentially I wash my hair only on Sundays and am now at a point where I only need a little bit of dry shampoo on Friday and Saturday to keep it looking fresh. After cleansing and conditioning, I try to use products that will not only help to keep my hair healthy, but will help to soften and smooth it as my hair can occasionally be quite coarse and prone to frizz.

Giovanni has come recommended to me as a brand by a number of people now; it’s cruelty free, vegan and more on the affordable side than some of the other products I’ve been using over the past few years. The first two of my favourite items at the moment are their Frizz Be Gone Taming Cream* and Leave-in Conditioning & Styling Elixir*. Both £8.99 and from the same range, these are products designed to help control frizz, add shine and keep control of hair in humid environments. They each have a whopping 20 benefits for your hair that I won’t list in detail since you can read it on the website or on the products themselves, but together they create a perfect pair for managing my wild tresses.

I apply the Conditioning & Styling Elixir first after gently towel drying my hair, and this helps to hydrate and soften it, and smooth down the split ends that I already have. I use about two to three pumps of it, and unlike similar products I’ve tried before, it doesn’t weigh my hair down at all or add any kind of product-y texture or stickiness to it while wet or dry. My ends in particular always feel noticeably more manageable and less likely to puff up when I use Giovanni’s elixir, and it’s a super light, easy product to work through the entire length of my hair too.

The Taming Cream is more of a styling product than the elixir, and can be used on wet or dry hair. I prefer to use this after the elixir while my hair is still damp, again to help smooth it down and try to maintain some semblance of control over it as it dries. This also has a soft to medium hold, so will help to retain more natural styles but obviously isn’t suitable for anything that needs a heavy duty hold. On dry hair, it helps to control fly-aways and frizz, and adds both smoothness and texture when I work it through my ends to get them to chill the hell out.  My hair is also usually at the mercy of humidity, and while Giovanni's Taming Cream isn’t a total solution to the problem, it does make it a much easier problem to manage (but, I would imagine that people with thinner, finer hair than me will find it protects them from humidity much more than it does mine).

Both products also have added heat protection, which was actually what first peaked my interest in them in the first place. I’ve been running low on my Paul Mitchell heat protectant for a while and had been on the hunt for a more affordable option instead, and was lucky enough to find it in these far more affordable, multi-purposes beauties instead.

The third product that I thought deserved a mention is the John Masters Green Tea & Calendula Leave-in Conditioning Mist* (which unfortunately doesn’t seem to be available at the moment). This is designed as a leave-in conditioner that you spritz onto your hair while damp, and it has a beautiful, light and refreshing fragrance that I can’t get enough of. Perhaps strangely though, I much prefer to use this on dry hair than on my damp hair, as for me it’s a perfect way of adding moisture back into my hair after it starts to go a bit puffier or has dried out after being battered by the elements. After my hair has been pincurled and the curls have fallen out, spraying this on each morning helps to reshape and add shine so that my waves look more polished and put together again. It isn’t really a styling product by any means, but for some reason it works brilliantly to calm mine and refresh my curl patterns.  The scent is also just another bonus, as I find it lasts a good few hours and makes my hair smell (and feel) fresh and clean again even after it’s gone a few days between washes.

I’m always on the lookout for other new hair products, especially as I’m committed to the hair dye life these days and have been having it coloured and lightened professionally. If you decide to try any of these out, let me know!

In the meantime, what are your favourite styling products?

* 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.

Say Hello to Plant Basic

Monday, 2 April 2018

You may have noticed that I disappeared for a couple of months – long story short, life got away from me for a little while there. I’ve had a few things going on in my personal life (the biggest of which being house-hunting to buy) and had been lacking inspiration and motivation to blog. I feel like everyone is a bit of a broken record about the issues within the blogging community these days, so let’s just say I didn’t have the same drive to get involved and keep producing content as I used to.

Now that I’m back to blogging again though, the biggest change is obviously my blog name: The Zombie Said is gone! I first came up with that name probably around six or more years ago, and while it’s always been a unique and eye-catching handle, I didn’t really feel like it properly reflected me or the kinds of posts I write anymore. So, after much painful deliberation, welcome to Plant Basic.

Ethical, plant-based lifestyle has been at the forefront of my content and my life for the past two years now, and my blog has slowly shifted towards one that allows me to share my voice as a positive advocate of plant-based living in a balanced, considerate way that can be lacking at times from the vegan community. I’ve been wanting to shift away from beauty and further into lifestyle for quite a while (but don’t worry, there will still be beauty posts), and sharing my thoughts and providing support and discussion for those already living or tentatively considering going vegan or living a more plant-based life is pretty much top of my blogging goals these days.

Plant Basic stems (haha plant pun) from two ideas: one being that I’m a plant-based basic bitch and fully embrace my excessive banana-eating and avocado obsession, and two being my desire to provide an approachable source for all the basics of plant-based, ethical living. I don’t live a lavish lifestyle or use a lot of weird, hard to find ingredients in my cooking. I don’t produce zero waste or have a minimal carbon footprint or never buy new clothes off the rack – I do my best, I do the basics, and I want to continue to use this blog to show everyone else those basics and remind us all that the little things can make a difference too.

I also intend to write a little more often about me and what’s going on in my life, beyond delicately curated content.  I’ve always been pretty casual and laidback, but I want Plant Basic to feel like a window into the home of a friend helping you on your own compassionate journey (I’d vlog for this same reason if only I wasn’t terribly awkward on camera).

It’ll likely take me some time to get back into the swing of blogging and really find my voice again, so please be patient with me! In the meantime, I’m really excited by the new direction I’m headed and hope you are too.

Review / Ere Perez Chamomile Eyeshadow Palette in Gorgeous

Thursday, 29 March 2018

As time goes on, I’m less and less inclined towards bolder makeup looks. That isn’t to say I don’t still love experimenting with it, trying new products or playing around with wild eyeshadow and lip looks every now and again, but on the daily I gravitate towards more natural looks. That’s where Ere Perez, one of my favourite brands, comes in to save the day.

As well as providing more natural, gentle ingredients in their products, Ere Perez’s makeup also leans towards fresher, more natural looks, too. When I saw that they also offered palettes, I knew that they would be a perfect option to revitalise my makeup routine and add a new every day, more subtle palette into the mix. They have a selection of different neutral palettes in various shade ranges, but all feature natural, earthy colours that compliment all kinds of skin tones.

I decided to go for the Chamomile Eyeshadow Palette in ‘Gorgeous’*, which contains six shades of balanced, warm-toned neutrals ranging from a sheer, peachy satin to a more chocolatey brown. The palette contains 3 matte and 3 shimmer shades, and according to Ere Perez is also perfect for sensitive eyes due to the calming chamomile used in the ingredients. Given how delicate and important the eye area is, using soothing, gentle ingredients in your eye products is certainly a good idea in my book, and as someone who suffers terribly with sensitive, watery eyes I’m so relieved that we’re seeing so many more options like this for our cosmetics.

On to the review. The packaging is typical of what I’ve seen from Ere Perez’s new rebranded items so far; it’s made of a sturdy white, sleek plastic and is very pleasing to the eye. It closes securely, and it doesn’t pop open or feel as though it could damage while bouncing around inside my makeup bag during travel. It’s also very compact compared to other similar palettes I own – this one is much better for when you’re tight on space in your makeup bag. Obviously aesthetics aren’t everything, but my Ere Perez products are some of my favourite to carry around or keep out for regular use – they just look so simple and elegant and picture-perfect on a dressing table. Not that I have one, since I have to do my makeup on the floor of our lounge!

Unfortunately I’ve lost the little slip that came with the palette that detailed the names of each shade, so bear with me! From left to right, we have a soft peachy, skin-coloured shimmer; a light matte very light brown, a matte warmer brown, a shimmer warmer brown, an antique gold shimmer and a soft, cooler brown. Each shadow compliments each other very well, and the palette can be used to create a variety of day and night looks without the need for further shadows, so it’s perfect for travel or overnight stays due to its versatility as well as its size.

The texture of each shadow is extremely soft and effortless to blend. When swatching on my fingers, they feel silky smooth and have no hint of chalkiness. They also don’t create any fall out, which further adds to their positive points for those with sensitive eyes (I don’t know about you, but fallout when applying eyeshadow has always been a real killer for me when doing my makeup).

My favourite shades in particular are the left-most, right-most and the antique gold shades. Each glide onto the eyelid like a dream, and create a beautiful, subtle wash of natural colour. My only complaint about these shadows would be that they are definitely not as opaque as other shadows I own, so either require a great deal of building up to achieve your desired opacity, or else are better left for more natural looks. Given that I haven’t been favouring bolder eyeshadow looks lately, this has turned out to be perfect for me and helps to refine and uplift my face in a way that looks more elegant and put together, but nonetheless understated and like my face, but better.

If you’re a very creative, artistic makeup artist who likes your makeup to be as loud and proud as you are, this probably isn’t the palette for you – there are other neutral eyeshadow palettes out there that have a wider colour range and better opacity for creating original and exciting looks. However, if you’re in the market for a simple, neutral palette that will simply help you feel more polished and serve you in a variety of different situations, if you’re someone with sensitive eyes and skin, or if you’re a beginner who wants an easy-to-use palette that doesn’t need you to be the queen of blending to achieve a beautiful end result, then Ere Perez’s Chamomile Eyeshadow Palettes are certainly an option I can recommend.

At £26.50 Ere Perez’s Chamomile Eyeshadow Palettes are similarly priced to many higher end palettes of the same size and shade ranges, so it is something I consider a worthy investment for myself, at least. This little natural, cruelty free and vegan beauty has been the perfect addition to my makeup bag as I shift towards subtler looks and is one that I’ve been reaching for again and again. If you’re interested, you can nab the Gorgeous palette or one of their other shade selections over at

* 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.

Reflecting on body building vs body positivity.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Since I got deeper into fitness and exercise and started to see real strength gains and the natural changes that my body went through as a result, I’ve grown more interested in the idea of low key ‘body-building’ in the sense of sculpting my shape using weight-lifting and food. A lot of women who are into weight training have shared a similar epiphany – for most of our lives, ‘fitness’ has been about running, forcing yourself through unpleasant workouts and restricting the food you eat in order to get smaller. Weight training offers an empowering alternative (to those of us who are in a good mental place for it); rather than restricting food, you have to eat, you have to focus on strength goals and you don’t have to force yourself to run on a treadmill for hours on end, either. Perhaps most importantly, it allows you to get bigger, to get stronger, and to take up space instead of shrinking and sweating and ultimately wilting under the pressure of the fitness goals you’re ‘supposed’ to have.

After over a year of weight training, I’ve not just seen my body lean out, but I’ve seen myself develop biceps, bigger glutes, back muscles, quads and calves. For a month, I had a brief glimpse of my own abs in the mirror most days! It’s a look that I’ve decided that I like on myself, and it’s made me realise that I want my body to look physically strong.

This is where I start to get into uncomfortable territory, because of the idea that you cannot truly be body confident or practice self-love and personal body positivity if you’re in pursuit of some kind of physical change. I get it, too. It goes against a lot of what I’ve taught myself over the past several years; we shouldn’t be aspiring to arbitrary changes to our bodies, we should be aspiring to love ourselves in our current state, against all odds and the expectations our society places on us.

For me personally, I want to be able to see evidence of my strength and determination when I look in the mirror, not just feel it, in the same way that I enjoy seeing a display of creativity and a different version of myself in the mirror when I wear makeup. I know that I’m already beautiful and that my body is and always will be perfect as is – no change required – but that doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t want to tweak bits and pieces of it that are within my control occasionally, either. Neither version of myself is better, neither the before nor after is superior in any way and I like neither more than the other - they're just different, and an alternative way I'd like to present myself.

Does this mean that any desire to change your body is inherently without flaw? Absolutely not. It is well within our rights to want to change our bodies as we see fit, but we fundamentally cannot escape the society in which we live - I've said it before and I'll say it again: our choices regarding our bodies and our appearances don't exist in a vacuum. Sure, we choose to change for ourselves, but there is always a pressure bearing down on us to look a certain way - whether we are aware of it or not - and that shapes our desires. Would we really still want to look skinny if looking skinny wasn't presented as an ideal, an aspiration, a representation of health, wellness, dedication, moral fibre, beauty and fame?

You could argue that being a woman and wanting to look thicker or more muscular is less of an issue, as these traits aren’t put on nearly as high a pedestal (and in the case of muscle in particular are often denigrated as being unfeminine, manly and ultimately, therefore, unattractive) but even desire for these too are heavily influenced by social media and beauty trends - after all, fitspo is the new thinspo and the peach is the new thigh gap. The ‘thicc’ booty builders on Instagram perpetuate just as problematic and impossible an ideal as the super skinny, popular fitspo that preceded them.

It’s an issue that is nuanced and extremely complicated. I don’t believe that we should feel ashamed of our desire to change our physical appearances in some way, especially if we have thought critically about why it is that we want to do it. In the war against body-shaming and fatphobia, it can be easy for those of us who’re working towards an aesthetic change of some kind or another to feel awkward, out of place and part of the problem. And I suppose in a lot of cases we are part of the problem - particularly when it comes to weight-loss or attempting to make your body better fit society’s cookie cutters. There are plenty of people out there who are maybe less educated about body positivity, fatphobia and diet culture and tell themselves until they’re blue in the face that they only want to be skinny for themselves, and are perhaps ignorant to the bigger picture of what our culture makes us want and how thinness won’t really bring happiness or inner peace.

That said, for me personally, I don’t believe it’s any different to why I get body modifications, and as someone who has taken a nine year, painstakingly difficult journey to critically unpack what I want out of exercise, I disagree with the idea that I should feel embarrassed or like I somehow love myself less for wanting to make certain changes to my body’s appearance. Do I secretly hate my body for wanting to get tattoos and piercings too, or is it just my desire to be leaner and more muscular that makes me full of hidden self-loathing?

Even with that being the case though, there are ways to go about pursuing change without aligning yourself with harmful ideas about bodies:

  • recognise that your body was good before as well as after,
  • understand that true confidence and happiness do not come with physical changes,
  • be critical of your reasons for wanting to change and aware of cultural factors that contribute to your desire,
  • never put down the aspects of your physical appearance that you have since altered,
  • never use fatphobic or body-shaming rhetoric when talking about your goals,
  • understand that the work you put into attaining a goal does not elevate you or your body above others,
  • validate all other bodies and remind yourself and others that not everyone has to aspire to your life and goals,
  • be mindful of the space you take up by claiming body positivity, and don’t dilute it into fitspo thinly veiled as self-love.

I think the latter points are perhaps some of the most key – we get into dangerous territory when we co-opt the concept of body positivity with our fitness goals, to the point where body positivity itself has been warped to an unrecognisable degree. ‘Body positivity’ as it used to be was a space created by and for fat and marginalised body types, and it’s only taken a few years for the hashtags and communities to be largely overtaken by more socially acceptable, conventional body types, many of whom are fitness influencers with ‘perfect’ svelte bodies (unintentionally or not) silencing those that need the movement most.

Maybe that’s the conclusion I’ve come to from my reflections and from reading pieces by fat, body positive influencers over the past few months; that provided our hearts and minds are in the right place, it is possible for myself and others to practice self-love, love our bodies and uplift all other body types while working towards certain aesthetic goals. What shouldn’t happen, however, is for our voices to take over communities that our lifestyles and goals don’t really belong in. Society could certainly use more fat women kicking ass and taking names dancing and weight-lifting and running and proving that you can be unapologetically fat, fit and a badass, but the world is already saturated with slim bodies doing those things.

Those of us who are already a part of the socially-acceptable end of the body spectrum however can have self-love, we can have self-confidence, we can have adoration and celebration of our own and of other bodies in any and all states that they’re in, but things like fitness-focused content and progress photos and photo after photo of our perfect intsta-booties or biceps or chiselled abs are perhaps best left to other hashtags and not foisted upon the #bodypositive community. Fit bodies are already celebrated enough and put on a pedestal by the world we live in, they don’t need yet more space.

What are your thoughts? Do you think that you can practice true self love or body positivity while working towards aesthetic fitness goals?

I don't know how I feel about having children

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The past few years I’ve had some real swings to and fro on how I feel about maybe having kids someday. I’ve never been a staunch ‘I never want kids’ kind of person; although I’ve never had a point in my life so far where I definitely thought my life would be improved by the addition of children, I’ve always been open to the idea that this might change. It does change, occasionally, but rarely for long. I had a brief broody period a couple of years ago during which I could imagine life as a mum, and how wonderful it would be to have a child to raise and grow with. I could hear their giggles and chattery conversations with me, and see myself as a cool tattooed mum kicking life’s ass and taking names all with a toddler on her hip.

Since then, for the most part, I’ve been dead against the idea.

I still have the odd moments when my maternal instincts kick in.  I think I’d be a good parent, and look forward to learning from and being shaped by a child as much as they would learn from and be shaped by me.

The problem is that these moments are fleeting, and I’m always brought back to the same conclusion: I don’t want to be tied down by huge, life-changing responsibility that isn’t and has never been my dream and that I might regret. Parents who criticise the willingly child-free like to call us selfish for not raising children, and to a certain extent that’s absolutely why I don’t always think I want any. I like my life. I like my freedom. As much as I adore animals and love pets (way more than I want kids), I found the commitment involved in even taking Wilson in and having to plan my life around her a huge struggle to wrap my head around, and she’s a very independent cat, not a child. I’ve only recently got to grips with managing my own life like a real adult, let alone caring for an infant or kid, and my peaks and troughs with anxiety make me concerned for my ability to adequately raise one at times.

In terms of regret, that’s a tricky one. I know parents are never supposed to say that they regret having children, but as discussion about the negative aspects of parenthood (and in particular, motherhood) have become somewhat less taboo, I’ve read a lot of stories from parents who – if they could go back in time and make different choices – they would choose differently. That isn’t to say that they don’t still adore their children, or haven’t enjoyed watching the grow up.  But, if they could do it all again knowing what they know now and that the experience of parenthood really wasn’t for them or knowing the life and opportunities that they missed out on due to opting for parenthood out of obligation or because their partner wanted kids or because they didn’t realise they had any other choice, they wouldn’t.

Luckily, as a woman in 2018 I don’t have quite the same pressure to be a mum that a lot of older women had when they were my age. Having children is no longer a requirement of being a woman, but I am still wary of the subtle, ingrained view that once you have your long term partner, and your career, and your house, the next step is largely still expected to be starting a family. It’s not a requirement anymore, sure, but it still tends to be ‘just what you do’, and I don’t want to unintentionally fall into that trap thinking it was just the natural next stage of life when it doesn’t have to be.

The logical person in me also looks to the facts: to over-population, to the state of the planet, to the fact that – other than frankly more selfish desire to hopefully have someone to care for you when you’re older – there is no real need to procreate. It also looks to the likely struggles that my child would endure thanks to the uncertainty of their future, of our politics. I don’t want to raise a kid if they aren’t going to be guaranteed the same privileges and head starts that I was; I don’t want them to struggle through life without the NHS or pay five times my tuition fees for university or be unable to experience the joys of travel because of cost and visas and lack of opportunity. (Unlike, as apparently voting statistics would suggest, many of the generations before us, I want my children to have everything I had and much, much more. They deserve better.)

Life for our generation as parents is going to be different to our parents’ lives with us. With the lack of increase in wages, the higher cost of living, the increase in tuition fees, the difficulty in getting decently paid jobs, it’s looking likely that just as our generation often find themselves stuck living at home with parents well into their twenties or even thirties, the same will probably be said for our children. So, on top of us having to struggle for longer to get our lives together and get houses and actually start to enjoy some semblance of security, once we choose to have children, we’re probably going to be sharing our home with them for far longer than our parents did with us simply because they won’t be able to afford anything better. We’re also having children later, due to the simple fact that we cannot afford to and are in no position to have them (generally speaking) any earlier than thirty.

On mulling it over, that means that, most likely, while our parents were able to see us properly fly the nest in our mid-twenties and settle down and enjoy their lives and retirements between their forties and sixties, that will be pushed back considerably for us. We may not even have children until our mid to late thirties or early forties. That means that we could be well in excess of fifty by the time our kids graduate university, and if the current trend is anything to go by, they might end up living with us for a long time after that. Our retirement age will no doubt be pushed back further, so we’ll be housing or supporting our grown-up kids (through no fault of their own) while holding down a job well into old age, possibly into our retirement, and then by the time they’re able to find solid ground we’ll be too damn old to actually enjoy our golden years without them.

Truth be told, there is no good time to have kids. There is no magic formula or plan you can have that will prepare you. For many, having kids is a reward in itself that makes it worth all of the trials and tribulations, and that’s cool. But I know me – I struggle. A lot. And having only just got to grips with my career and living my life and being my best self at 26, I’m not ready to give that up and the thought of not having my independence again until my late fifties or sixties is terrifying. Years ago, I had hoped that if I were to have kids, I would have them by 28 or 30. I wanted to be active and healthy and youthful enough to still play and keep up with them and relate to them (I’m constantly exhausted now at 26, I cannot imagine experiencing that plus parent-level exhaustion at 40+). Now I’m not willing to give up my youth just yet, which scuppers that plan, and leaves me wondering when – if ever – I will actually be okay with the idea of bringing a child into my life.

If I get pregnant, I get pregnant, and we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. Maybe it’ll happen and I’ll think of it as a blessing, I’ll immediately fall in love with the idea of parenthood and we’ll roll with it, or maybe it’ll happen and I’ll have the complete mental breakdown I expect myself to and I’ll know I’m either not ready or it’s just not for me.

Either way, all I know for sure right now is that I don’t know, and I’m not making any plans to commit to an ‘I don’t know’ and an increasingly bleak social and political future.

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