Year in Review / The Emotional Roller-coaster of 2016

Friday, 30 December 2016

2016 has been an interesting year, to say the least. The most difficult thing about it for me has been to reconcile the fact that – in spite of the world crumbling down around me – my life has actually been pretty great this year. 2016 seems to have been the year that everything in my life clicked into place, and I now feel (for the most part) as though I’m actually a capable, relatively successful adult for the first time. Looking back at my 2016 Hopes & Goals that I posted back in January, I’ve achieved or stuck to all but one of my hopes for the year, the odd-one-out being moving back up North. Sadly, I’m still stuck in Surrey, but with the various other improvements and successes in my life, it may not be the end of the world to have to settle here for now after all.

It’s been one hell of an emotional rollercoaster. I started the year by passing my driving test (finally!) and felt my quality of life dramatically improve, although I still couldn’t wait to leave my job. In May I had a dream come true couple of weeks with my best friend, who I hadn’t seen for five years, and we were lucky enough to be able to visit beautiful places, reminisce and make new memories together again. I also got to visit Madrid and Berlin and finally scratch my travel itch.  And then, of course, in between all of that the Referendum vote happened, and only a day or two before my 25th birthday my hope and faith in the world took a crushing blow only for it to happen, again, in November after the US Presidential Election too. Those are only two of the horrible things to have happened this year, but they were by no means the only ones. 2016 has been a dark year, with no end in sight to the fear and pain felt worldwide.

As far as blogging goes, I’ve had a few ups and downs there too. I was absolutely thrilled when my Twitter follower count surpassed 1k a while back, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive all kinds of exciting products to try from lots of different brands. I also got to go to my first blogger event! I did have a couple of spells where I was unable to post as regularly as I would’ve liked though, and ultimately had to reduce my posts-per-week to just one rather than my previous two. I love blogging, but it’s a tough thing to do when you also work a full time job and want to have time to do other things in your spare time too.

In spite of my own personal successes, 2016 has not been an easy year, and will be one that I remember as the year my heart broke for many to come. But, in the spirit of keeping things somewhat positive, here’s a few of my blog post highlights!

 My Why Go Cruelty Free? post has been super popular ever since I posted it and has received such a positive response!

Back in March we had an amazing time at the Science Museum checking out the Cosmonauts exhibit, and enjoyed a great vegan Japanese meal and some ice cream at Yorica! afterwards.

The day of the Referendum result left me feeling shaken and hurt, and I poured my thoughts into a post about what on Earth my identity even is anymore after this new revelation.  It was one of my most personal and carefully written posts, and the rawest post I’ve published to date.

I’ve written a couple of What I Eat in a Day posts, and they’re something I hope to continue in 2017!

I didn’t manage to write up nearly as many posts of make-up looks as I’d have liked (I simply haven’t had as much time and as good lighting as I would’ve hoped) but I did really love this autumn foliage-inspired eye look I created.

2016 was the year that I actually got really, really into the gym.  I talked a little about my journey from hating exercise to being excited at the thought of headed to the gym in this post.  This wasn’t the most exciting post or one that got me much engagement, but the gym has become such an important part of my life now it’d feel silly to leave it out!

A post about my hopes for the next year will come in January, but for now I’m just trying to reflect on this year and try to focus on the positive things that have happened in my life.  How has 2016 treated you?  Were you lucky enough to meet some of your hopes and goals for this past year?

Review / Kimberly Sayer Gentle Almond & Lavender Organic Face Scrub

Monday, 19 December 2016

Kimberly Sayer Gentle Almond and Lavender Organic Face Scrub
On top of everything else that’s marked 2016 as an eventful year, it’s also the year I got super into facial treatments. I’ve used the odd mask here and there for the past few years now, but since I’ve started to notice the first signs of ageing I’ve been really keen to start nourishing my skin and protecting it from the elements and the slow and steady onslaught of time.

One of my favourite treatments that I’ve tried recently has been the Kimberly Sayer Gentle Almond and Lavender Face Scrub*. At £21.60 it seems like a lot at first, but I only use a small, fingernail-sized amount each time and despite using it twice a week for several weeks, I still have plenty of it left. The exfoliating scrub itself is somewhere between a creamy, luxurious mask and an actual exfoliator; the ‘scrub’ part of the product is actually almond meal and jojoba beads (which, unlike microbeads, are biodegradable and sustainable!), and the almond makes it smell incredible! It’s like rubbing your face with marzipan or a bakewell tart. The result of this pairing is a unique texture that gently rubs and massages rather than outright scrubs, making it perfect for people with particularly delicate skin who struggle with harsher exfoliating scrubs.

This face scrub also contains shea butter and coconut oil, making it a highly moisturising product as well as an exfoliating one. So, in addition to gently scrubbing the skin, it feels as though you’re applying a soft, creamy balm too, and the combination of both of these elements leaves the skin feeling incredibly soft afterwards. According to the instructions, you’re only supposed to gently rub then rinse off, but I’ve noticed that if I leave it sitting on my face for a little while it makes my skin feel even softer and plumper.

Kimberly Sayer Gentle Almond and Lavender Organic Face Scrub

As far as the effect it’s had on my skin goes, it’s complimented my current skincare regime very well. I use this a couple of times per week paired with some of the other moisturising products I own as part of my winter skincare regime, and it’s been a real help with some of my dry skin issues since it does the job of both removing dry, flaky skin and adding additional moisture without the rough, moisture-stripping aspects some of my other scrubs have.

I’m new to the brand Kimberly Sayer, but in a nutshell, they produce a range of higher end (but not excessively costly) gentle, natural products that are cruelty free and mostly vegan. Given that I’m wanting to start giving my face some tender love and care, I’ve also been more interested in trying products that are a little bit more expensive than usual –much as it pains me to switch from some of my cheaper alternatives, I’m trying to consider it an investment! Having said that though, Kimberly Sayer’s products are on the lower end of ‘high end’ prices, and this one has left me pretty impressed and willing to spend the extra cash anyway because it feels worth much more when you’re using it. If you aren’t one for £20 skincare treatments though, this would also make a great gift for someone special you think could use a bit of a pamper – the scent alone is enough to tempt me into repurchasing!

You can buy this facial scrub from – I’ll be keeping an eye out around Boxing Day as they usually have a little discount floating around for occasions like that.

* 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.

Silent Snapshots / Madrid 2016 pt. 1

Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Winter Makeup Look ft. Some Favourite Natural Brands

Sunday, 4 December 2016

winter makeup ft. natural brands
Long time, no see! Things have been pretty hectic for me the past month or so – everything always seems to kick into overdrive as it gets closer to the holidays, and since November I’ve ended up with virtually no free weekends, which means virtually no free time to sort out blog posts! It’s all starting to feel a bit overwhelming, but at least some time off over Christmas is on the horizon and all of the things I’m doing are (for the most part) fun and exciting. If you fancy seeing what I’m getting up to in December and don’t already follow me on Instagram, give me a follow @thezombiesaid because I’m doing lazy/busy gal’s vlogmas over on Instagram Stories.

I don’t know about you, but here there’s been a bit of a cold snap recently, and with the chilly weather and the need to have the central heating on all the time, it’s no surprise that skin starts to suffer. Back before I got into makeup, I never used to understand why anyone would bother switching up their makeup routine with the seasons, but man do I get it now! Of course, I don’t just switch it up according to the seasons – I like to listen to my skin, and lately it’s had a hankering for more natural, nourishing makeup. For the most part, I’ve actually stopped wearing foundation – I just apply a bit of concealer and colour corrector to the areas that need it now – and when I do think about doing a full base nowadays, I’ve been reaching for products like BB creams more so than anything else. So, I thought I’d share with you a simple, every day winter makeup look that showcases some of my favourite natural brands and the new PHB Ethical Beauty BB Cream that I’ve been trying out.

PHB Beauty Botanical BB Cream and Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer

Whether I use a foundation or not, if I want my makeup to last all day I still always use a primer. My go-to natural, vegan primer is still the Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer, which while it’s not as great as some high end products at locking product onto my face all day, it is still a good, affordable product and is relatively light-weight, breathable and (perhaps most importantly) silicone free, so doesn’t clog my pores. For my base in this look, I’ve used the PHB Ethical Beauty Botanical BB Cream in the shade Porcelain♥, which is a light and silky BB cream that nourishes the skin as well as helps to even out skin tone.

PHB Ethical Beauty Botanical BB Cream in Porcelain Swatched
PHB Ethical Beauty Botanical BB Cream in Porcelain Swatched & Blended Out

Like most BB creams, this isn’t a full coverage product, so if you want something that’s going to turn your skin into a nice, blank canvas, this won’t be for you. But for me, it’s perfect! It leaves my skin looking like skin, but it tones down blemishes and redness and gives my skin a slightly more even but still completely natural complexion. The nourishing, moisturising nature of this BB cream also makes it perfect both for colder, winter months when skin is at its driest, and for folks like me who like a luminous, dewy finish to their base makeup. I was a little bit worried that Porcelain might actually be too light a shade for me at first (it’s the fairest one available), but once blended out it ended up matching me pretty well.

The Botanical BB Cream comes in a glass, recyclable bottle with a handy, hygienic pump and the packaging feels sturdy and relatively high end. My only complaint would be that the cap has a tendency to come off when it’s bopping around in my makeup bag while travelling, and for some reason the white cap is also especially prone to marks which – while obviously not a big deal – isn’t the best when you want to take nice blog photos of it!

If one of these tickles your fancy, they’re available on LoveLula at a discount right now for only £13.95 – they’re usually £18.95! Even at full price I’d recommend it since it’s so difficult to find a good BB cream that not only matches my pale ass skin tone, but is also 100% natural, vegan and cruelty free, so grab one on sale while you can.

Once I applied my BB cream, I then went over my dark circles with a bit of NYX HD Concealer in the colour correcting yellow shade, and then over them again with their Fair concealer shade and used it to cover up the redness on my nose, chin and between my brows. Next, I applied generous coats of my GOSH brow gel to my brow hairs, and then went in and sculpted them using my Anastasia Beverly Hills DipBrow Pomade. I usually go for Medium Brown rather than the Dark Brown I’ve used here, but I stuck my Medium Brown one in a handbag and have been too lazy to go and get it and, actually, I’ve been quite liking how the darker shade looks on me at the moment anyway. I think I went off it back when I used to use it because when I first got it, my hair was black and I felt the darker brows looked a bit too harsh, but with my hair it’s natural medium brown again it’s actually quite flattering! Once my brows are filled in, I then went back over them with more brow gel. I use a lot of brow gel these days; I love the bushy, dishevelled brow look but lack the natural brows to really achieve it perfectly.

Natural, vegan and cruelty free makeup products ft. Ere Perez, Neve Cosmetics, PHB Ethical Beauty and Lily Lolo
Natural, vegan and cruelty free makeup products ft. Ere Perez, Neve Cosmetics, PHB Ethical Beauty and Lily Lolo

For the eyes, I wanted to do something that was simple and natural (in both appearance and formula), but still had a bit of a wintery feel to it, so I opted for a muted gold look. I have a few different gold eyeshadows, and Lily Lolo’s Gold Digger loose eyeshadow (which sadly doesn’t seem to be available on their website right now, wah!) is my favourite for a more understated look. It’s a very neutral-toned gold shade that’s extremely flattering on my pale skin, and blends effortlessly with my other Lily Lolo shadows. I used their Soft Brown shade to map out my crease, then applied Gold Digger to the mobile lid and dragged it down underneath my eyes, and darkened the crease further with their dark brown shade, Black Sand. I went back in with Soft Brown to warm up the transition from the gold to natural skin-colour again afterwards, as well as pulling it down underneath my eye as well.

I didn’t go for much in the way of eyeliner for this look since I wanted to keep it basic, but I did apply a touch of Lily Lolo’s natural eye pencil in Brown close to my lashline on the outer third of my top and bottom lashes, and then tightlined with PHB Beauty’s black eyeliner pencil. Last but not least, I added a final Lily Lolo eyeshadow to the look by dusting their beautiful shimmery white shade, Orchid, in my inner corner for a contrasting, icy highlight, before applying my usual PHB Beauty natural mascara. As much as it pains me to take photos for a blog post without false eyelashes on, I made myself hold back for the sake of the ‘natural’ theme of this post..!

Winter makeup ft. natural, cruelty free brands close up

Winter makeup look ft. natural, cruelty free brands

Another few stars of this show that I’ve blogged about previously, are my three products from Ere Perez Cosmetics. I used the Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in Holy as my blush, dabbing it on with my fingers and then blending it out with a small stippling brush, and then applied it to my lips as well for a mauve-y red flush. This blush balm in particular really shines through in the photos, it looks wonderfully natural but can be built up to be as intense as you’d like – just be careful blending it out. I then added a nice, silky sheen to my cheeks using the Versatile Vanilla Highlighter, which – while not as in-your-face as I tend to like my highlighters – adds the loveliest, natural glow that’s perfect for adding luminance and a hydrated look to the face on a chilly day. I also used just a dash of the Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint to my lips to add further colour and a kind of ‘just bitten’ ombre effect to the lips.

Love that subtle, cheekbone glow!  (And my totally overgrown undercut...)

Finally, I finished everything off with my Lily Lolo Finishing Powder in Translucent Silk. This was one of my go-to products a couple of years ago, and I kind of rediscovered it recently and have gone back to using it every day instead of my Hourglass powder. It’s a natural, lightweight setting powder that just gives your skin a beautiful, soft finish and helps to set liquid and cream products, and it’s honestly one of the best powders I’ve ever tried.

That just about does it for today’s look! It’s very simple and very understated, but I hope it does a good job of showcasing how lovely some of my favourite natural brands can look. What are some of your go-to natural makeup products?

All products used:
Neve Cosmetics Brightening BioPrimer
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion *
PHB Ethical Beauty Botanical BB Cream +SPF15 in Porcelain♥
NYX HD Photogenic Concealer in 10 Yellow *
NYX HD Photogenic Concealer in 02 Fair *
GOSH Defining Brow Gel in shade 003
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Dark Brown
Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow in Soft Brown
Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow in Gold Digger
Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow in Black Sand † 
Lily Lolo Mineral Eyeshadow in Orchid
Lily Lolo Natural Eye Pencil in Brown
PHB Ethical Beauty Organic Natural Eyeliner in Nearly Black
PHB Ethical Beauty Natural Mascara in Black
Ere Perez Cosmetics Clever Carrot Cheek & Lip Balm in Holy
Ere Perez Cosmetics Versatile Vanilla Highlighter in Falling Star
Lily Lolo Finishing Powder in Translucent Silk
Ere Perez Cosmetics Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in Joy

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

 I received this product free of charge, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.

Review / Barefoot SOS Repair & Renew Nourishing Cleansing Cream

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Barefoot SOS Repair & Renew Nourishing Cleansing Cream

Since I started receiving LoveLula beauty boxes, I’ve been really excited to try out new brands that I may not have thought to buy from before. In October’s box, one of those such brands was Barefoot SOS. The name rang a bell, but I hadn’t really heard much about them and was intrigued to try the product that arrived with the rest of the subscription box a few weeks ago. Like most of the brands you can buy from LoveLula, Barefoot SOS is one that prides itself on creating natural products that are based on the power of botanical ingredients, without the need for additional chemicals and additives. There are two product lines – one for Dry & Sensitive skin, and one to Repair & Renew skin.

The Barefoot SOS item in the latest beauty box was from the Repair & Renew range and is the Nourishing Cleansing Cream*, a gentle cleanser said to help remove makeup and leave skin feeling cleansed, toned and supple. The Repair & Renew range is suitable for all skin types, but is specifically formulated for mature or dry skin using the anti-aging properties of a particular rosehip oil pressed from the seeds of a rose from the Chilean Andes. Rosehip oil is something that plenty of natural beauty fans already know has anti-aging and general skincare benefits, so it seems like an enticing product on paper – bonus points that it’s good for my dry skin!

Barefoot SOS Repair & Renew Nourishing Cleansing Cream

As well as rosehip oil, the Nourishing Cleansing Cream also contains other lovely ingredients like cocoa butter, mallow flower extract, lavender oil and orange peel oil and is best applied using either a cotton pad or muslin cloth dampened with warm water. The cream itself is extremely light, soft and silky, easily melts into the skin and has a very gentle, floral aroma. I’ve been using it twice a day every day since I received it, and I’ve really been enjoying it so far! I tend not to use it to remove heavy makeup (I prefer using my trusty B. Micellar Water for the stuff that tends not to budge) but it does a good job of melting away my lighter makeup. It can and will remove thicker or waterproof makeup, but it takes a little bit more work.

This feels beautifully refreshing on my skin in the morning. I much prefer to use a cream cleanser to cleanse my face in the morning as opposed to a foaming or exfoliating cleanser or anything that requires water as I find my skin just doesn’t need anything more than that when I wake up, and the Barefoot SOS cleanser is just what I’ve needed, especially with the sudden switchover to winter weather.

As far as noticeable improvements to my skin go, it’s always difficult to pinpoint stuff like that, but I have felt as though my skin looks brighter and my complexion somewhat more even since I started using this. It does also seem to help with my skin’s oil production, as despite how dry it can be lately, my nose in particular does sometimes end up excessively oily by the end of the evening.

If this cleansing cream is anything to go by, I’m definitely interested to try more of Barefoot SOS’s products (like maybe their eye serum to take care of those damn fine lines I mentioned in my last post!) and at £20 for a bottle it’s a great item to have received in a subscription box, if a little on the higher end side of price ranges if you’re buying it alone.  And, of course, it’s cruelty free and vegan!

What’s your go to cleansing cream these days?

* 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.

Review / Red Clay Konjac Puff Sponge

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

  If you’re no stranger to the world of natural beauty, you might have already heard of konjac sponges – they’ve been around for a wee while now! In a nutshell, konjac sponges are puff sponges made from a plant called the konjac potato, native to Asia. The nature of the plant means that the sponges are 100% vegetable fibre, and also sustainable, biodegradable, non-toxic and free from any chemicals and impurities. The Konjac Sponge Company is probably the most reputable and well-known brand to make these, and I’ve actually used a few of their facial sponges in the past and thought it was high time that I finally reviewed one.

These sponges are very soft and porous, fit into the palm of your hand and have a little string attached to them so you can hang them up to dry. All you need to do is add water, gently squeeze out the excess, and rub them on your face to cleanse your skin.  After use, just gently squeeze (don’t wring them out) and hang them up and allow them to dry out again somewhere airy – they’ll shrivel up a little bit, but soon spring to life again when you next use them.  Clean sponges can also be dried on heated towel rails or kept in the fridge to keep them fresher for longer, although I haven’t tried the latter yet!  Cared for properly, they can last up to 3 months or so, but do be careful with them if you live in a damp household and store them somewhere dry when they can dry out fully quickly – I have been pretty frustrated once before in a past flat to find mould starting to grow on a relatively youthful sponge that I had to then replace...

Used alone, it’s an extremely gentle way of cleansing that would probably be suitable for even very sensitive skin, but you can also add a drop of your usual cleansing products to these too, in which case the sponge supposedly helps the product to go further and make more of a difference. I generally use mine with a smidge of a gel or foaming cleanser by applying a bit of the cleanser to my face with my hands, and then using the sponge to massage my skin and work the product in. I’ve heard of other people having very mixed opinions when using this with cream cleansers, but in my own experience it seems to depend on the cleanser. I’ve used some where it works a dream, and others where something about the consistency just didn’t mesh well with a sponge compared to a muslin cloth. I would say that I prefer to use these with a cleanser rather than without, particularly when I’ve been wearing makeup throughout the day (and I don’t use them to remove my makeup either), but they’re nice to use alone when I’ve been going barefaced too.

You can buy the facial konjac sponges for £8.99 from the brand website or from LoveLula, where I’ve been getting mine.  This particular sponge is the Konjac Sponge Company Red Clay Face Sponge*, which is ideal for dry and mature skin types. I figured that since I’m finally starting to show signs of aging (hello new fine lines under my eyes) and my skin is pretty dry these days that this one would be a good choice for me, but I’ve also tried the French green clay, bamboo charcoal and original sponges too. To be honest, I can’t say for certain if the different clays and infusions in the sponges make the biggest difference to my skin – my fine lines have hardly been reversed using this one, for example – but I can certainly see why any of them would be good for your skin in the long term. I love using these because the packaging is right; they’re like having a mini facial every day. Something about the feeling of the smooth sponge on my skin is extremely relaxing and appealing, and I still feel as though my face has been properly cleansed and ‘scrubbed’ afterwards even though while using it, it doesn’t seem as though it would be doing as good a job as a muslin cloth or exfoliating scrub. The idea that these offer a much gentler way of effectively exfoliating and cleansing the skin always draws me back to them, because I’m sure some of the scrubbing and pulling and tugging we do to our faces sometimes can’t be good for us in the long run.

Are konjac sponges a miracle, holy grail product? No, but they are a lovely addition to your skincare regime and the Konjac Sponge Company is a brand that deserves some love too, since not only are their products natural environmentally friendly, but they’re Leaping Bunny and Vegan Society approved too. They’re also an excellent alternative to harsher cleansers and exfoliating clothes or scrubs for those of us with sensitive skin, and for folks who just want to incorporate a more natural product into their routines.  As a cruelty free and vegan gal trying to use more natural beauty products and do my part to look after the environment, these certainly suit me a treat!

Have you ever tried a konjac sponge before?

* 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.

1k Twitter Follower Giveaway!

Sunday, 30 October 2016

  If you follow me on Twitter, you might remember that I mentioned a while back that I was planning on doing a little giveaway sometime soon and, well, now is that time! Last week I finally hit 1,000 Twitter followers, which may not be much in the grand scheme of blogging, but it certainly feels like a lot to me. I didn’t set out with any real expectations as far as where my blog was going to go, but seeing my social media followers, page views and so on just keep on climbing is pretty mind boggling! I’m sure everyone says it, but I’m honestly just shocked and humbled by the fact that even ten people care what I have to say here, let alone as many that follow me across all my platforms.

So, in honour of that milestone I wanted to host a little giveaway to say thank you and give one of my lovely readers the chance to win a few goodies. All of the products you could win are 100% cruelty free, vegan and two of them from a couple of amazing independent shops.

One lucky winner will receive:
* Dairy-free mint chocolate from Plamil
* Boss Lady pin from Hand Over Your Fairy Cakes
* Iwako cow eraser from Paperchase
* Apple Spice lip balm from Crazy Rumours
* Raw Rainbow Aura Quartz Necklace from Kiss the Future

Although I’m mainly known as a cruelty free beauty blog, I wanted the giveaway to include bits and pieces that I enjoy and want to share with my readers that aren’t just beauty products, and I hope that whoever wins will be as psyched about things like girl power pins, autumn flavours and handmade crystal jewellery as I am!

The giveaway will be open until 12am Sunday 27th November and is open to UK residents only. (I want to do an international giveaway so all you other lovely non-Brits get a chance to win something sometime in the near future too, but for now I have to keep it local!) To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. The winner will then be randomly selected, and I will contact them within 48 hours – be sure you’re willing to give me a postage address to send your prize too and check your email, as if I don’t receive a reply or can’t send you the goodies I’ll have to select another winner. False or duplicate entries will be disqualified.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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