5 Red Lips for Femme Fatales

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

I love a good red lip. Even after getting into makeup, it took me years to confidently leave the house wearing red lipstick, but once I did there was no going back and now the sky’s the limit. Bright red, orange red, dark red, sheer red, matte red – I’ll wear all of it whether it’s supposed to be flattering on me or not! To match my previous post on 5 nude lip products for pale people, I thought I’d do one for red lips too so that I can share some of my favourite red lippies with you.

I’ve included a little bit of variety again in terms of formula, type of product and so on, but some of these products may be more suited to some undertones and skin tones than others. For the most part, I think other pale folks will look fantastic in these shades and I think most darker complexions will look lovely in these products too, but if you’re a stickler for getting the right base to your red lipstick (i.e. blue-based, orange-based, true red etc.) you might want to try these out for yourself just to be sure.

All of the below are also cruelty free (and those with non-cruelty free parent companies marked with an asterisk) but unfortunately I don’t think any are vegan, so please let me know if there are any great vegan red lip products I should try!

 Now, on to the lipsticks...


GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Lambada was one of the first red lipsticks I ever bought. I’d heard everybody raving about GOSH’s lipsticks a few years back, so I thought I’d give this one a go as my first foray into bold lips. It’s a crème formula that has a fair bit of shine to it, and it doesn’t go on quite as opaque as some higher end brands, but it’s nonetheless a lovely colour.

This is a bright, fire engine red that’s more of a neutral red and doesn’t have much of a blue or orange undertone. It doesn’t have the most staying power though and will move and smudge throughout the day and as you can see from the lip swatch above, it is semi-sheer unless you pack it on, so lip pencils are a must if you want a bolder, more statement lip. If you’re just getting into reds though this is a great starter product and it’s one I still use when I fancy red, but without the opacity some of the next few products give me.


Next up is the Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in F-Bomb*. This is another bright, classic red that leans slightly more towards the orange side of the spectrum but is still relatively neutral compared to some of the other reds in their range. Urban Decay’s lipsticks are some of the best I’ve ever tried, and this one is no exception – it’s super pigmented, lasts for ages and for some reason these lipsticks are all really easy to apply! I’m not sure if it’s the shape of the product that allows for easy, clean lines without needing a lip brush, but something about it is working for me either way.

This can smudge or bleed if you’re going to be eating or drinking much, so I would advise using a lip liner with it if you are, but otherwise this is a very low maintenance red and can be easily worn all day with a few touch-ups. This one is a lot pricier than GOSH’s Lambada, but you get much higher quality for the money.


Another Urban Decay product, but this time in a pencil form is their 24/7 Glide-On Lip Pencil in the shade 69*. This is a classic, blue-based pinup red that (like most lip pencils) goes on matte and lasts a hell of a long time. This is another low maintenance red as it stays better than F-Bomb does on its own, and it has the bonus of actually being a lip liner so it’s easy to line and overdraw my lips with nice, clean lines. Like F-Bomb, this can last all day with only a few touch-ups, but it’s worth exfoliating and using a lip balm beforehand.

I’m not certain that this or the F-Bomb lipstick are still available at the moment as I understand Urban Decay have been repackaging and possibly refomulating their lip range recently though, and I haven’t tried any of their newer stuff.


The first liquid lipstick of the bunch is something a little different in a darker, merlot shade of red: theBalm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick in Adoring. When I first heard that theBalm was bringing out liquid lipsticks, I lost my shit because I already loved them as a brand and I was just waiting for a good, cruelty free brand I liked to release them. I got my hands on this one for a Christmas present, and it’s wonderful. The formula is so lightweight it’s easy to forget you’re wearing a dark lip, it has a decent doe foot applicator for easy application, and it lasts really well.

Again, eating and drinking can cause it to fade around the middle, but it can easily be reapplied over itself without horrible clumps and other grossness, so this isn’t a problem. This is a lot darker than the other reds featured in this post, but it’s a fantastic lipstick that would look killer on a lot of other pale people and darker complexions alike. Plus, it smells like peppermint!


Finally, we have my new favourite lip product! The Colourpop Ultra Matte in Creeper was love at first sight, and this is now my most worn red lip. A bright, true red that dries matte, it’s both a bold statement and easy as hell to wear because this shit does not budge. Granted, eating a greasy burger will cause some product to transfer around your face, but the damage is minuscule compared to other lip products and is easy to fix. If you want a red lip to slap on and forget about for a long day, this is your winner. It’s also so opaque and long lasting that you don’t need a lip liner - I can overdraw my lips just with this and it won’t budge on the outside until I try to remove it, and even then I struggle to get it off.  I will definitely pay the annoying extra shipping fees to have some other company get a Colourpop order delivered to the UK for me just for this lipstick when it runs out.

Left to Right: GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Lambada, Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in F-Bomb, Urban Decay 24/7 Lip Liner in 69, theBalm Meet Matt(e) Hughes in Adoring, Colourpop Ultra Matte in Creeper
As you can see there’s a bit of a range here in formula, opacity and shade so hopefully there’s at least one new product I might have peaked your interest in! Excuse the tiny swatch photo, but it was one of those days where every photo turned out blurry and, well, after a while you get bored of fighting with your camera. Oops. Adoring looks a little bit streakier and less opaque in the swatch and although it can be very slightly streaky on the lips, this generally isn’t a problem unless you’ve literally just applied lip balm, and it’s layerable so you can easily achieve your desired intensity.

Let me know what your favourite red lip products are!

Referendums, Reflections & Reassessing Identity

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Compared to others, I had a somewhat nomadic childhood. Born in the UK with a British mother and a Canadian father, we moved to the United States to live in Florida when I was around two, and I spent much of my childhood there. After starting kindergarten, I quickly lost my English accent in favour of an American one, but I never found a real sense of belonging. Even as young as I was then, I never felt quite like Florida was the right fit for me.  Whether it was the town we were in or the way I was raised or simply that it just wasn’t meant to be, I don’t know.  I remember being one of only two children in a large class who did not raise their hands when asked if they belonged to a church. My mum let me try it, but it wasn’t for me.  Something in me always felt like I was on the outside, looking in, that I was only ever really a visitor, a spectator, never a participant.

When my mother finally decided to return the UK when I was around ten years old, I wasn’t sad. It was difficult to say goodbye to friends, of course, but there was a new adventure and a new home on the horizon that was calling to us, and I never regretted having to leave. I looked out at the patchwork quilt of farmland and towns stretched out before us as our plane descended, and knew that I was home.  I felt British as soon as we landed, in spite of later being baffled by cheap Sprite being called ‘lemonade’ and being given sweet popcorn instead of buttered. My English accent returned albeit with a mild but nonetheless detectable American twang, and as I grew up and as we travelled, I treasured my home and how privileged I was to always get to return there.

When I was older and began to comprehend politics and ethical issues, I came to appreciate how progressive and liberal and open-minded my nation was, at least compared to many others. I felt safe, secure, and extremely lucky to live here, with our NHS and our reproductive rights, and I was proud of our multicultural cities and diverse populations that many foreigners (often with a stereotypical image of the UK as double decker buses and red phone booths and white gentlemen and ladies saying: “God save the Queen”) didn’t even know existed. My mother raised me as a traveller, an explorer, and filled my heart with wanderlust and a desire to see everything, everywhere. She raised me to respect what else was out there, and to understand that others may be different, but that this was no bad thing. I visited other countries, other continents. I studied German and briefly French at school, and with an aptitude for language and a desire to try something new, I was accepted into university studying Japanese.

I moved cities to study, and then countries when my year abroad came around. I lived in an international dorm with students from all over the world – the US, Canada, France, Germany, China, Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines and more – and my accent morphed again, my hint of North American growing stronger while my speech became a bizarre and apparently implacable idiolect, a melting pot of Norfolk, Manchester, Canadian and American. We learned about each other and our home countries, and Japan became a second home, in spite of home sickness and longing for my own culture, my beloved countryside and my accepting and diverse population. Being in as homogenous a nation as Japan for as long as I was had left me appreciative and proud of how far the UK had come and where I had come from.

I returned from my year abroad changed – evolved, I suppose, into a better, stronger, wiser person. I didn’t ‘find myself’ in East Asia, but I thought then that I had solidified my identity, that I was a traveller and a citizen of planet Earth, but that ultimately the UK was still part of me and part of my soul. Wherever I ended up, it was where I would always want to bring my suitcases back to; it was my home and I was British.

Over the years after my return, that feeling began to fade. Our nation voted again for a politician and a party that did not represent nor protect the working classes or our most vulnerable people or institutions, and I cried over an election result for the first time. I grew frustrated with how the nation was being mutated, how backwards steps were being taken and how our population had willingly voted, overwhelmingly, for a party that was gutting organisations that we treasured and attempting to turn higher education back into the realm of the elite. The the media painted new staunchly liberal and idealistic Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, with his pacifism, social justice and truly for-the-people politics, as some kind of vile, villainous man and either polluted his name or simply didn’t cover important stories about him, and this frightened me.  This government no longer represented me, and I started to feel less like this was where I needed to be.

In and amongst the dodgy political moves and biased media coverage, the cuts to nursing education bursaries and the unrest and low morale beaten into our doctors, the international terrorism scares and airplane hijackings and the refugee crisis in Europe and the migrants desperately seeking a better life here with us repeatedly flashed before our nation’s eyes, and it changed. I was not naïve; I knew that racism and xenophobia were alive and well, that Muslims, people of colour and people of Eastern European descent in particular were often subject to abuse and harassment.  I knew that we had as much of an intolerance problem when it came to minority groups as anywhere else. I knew that we were far, far from perfect.

I didn’t know, however, just how much hate had been bubbling away just below the surface, waiting to erupt like a dormant volcano that had been sleeping quietly since long before my generation was even born. When immigration became the scapegoat, the thing that the government could point to in order to divert blame for hospital waiting times and the housing crisis and rental prices and traffic jams and unemployment and high taxes and any and all other problems that were chipping away at our quality of life or our happiness or our livelihoods, it finally happened.

We were all discontent, and so-called uncontrolled immigration and the European Union’s influence on our borders and its apparent lack of democracy had been nicely lined up for the firing squad.

As much as I had prepared myself for the worst, I had somehow subconsciously still reassured myself that the British public would never vote in favour of leaving the EU. Surely we wouldn’t vote for something that would not only be such a dramatic change, but something that would shake and divide our country to its core, plunge us into uncertainty and paint us as unwelcoming nationalists?

 I read the news that the votes had almost all been counted and that the UK was set to vote Leave in shock at about half four in the morning, and it didn’t truly register for another twenty minutes or so. I cried, quietly, every so often for much of the morning and again on the drive home. My mum and I texted each other – my mum, who gave me my love of the wider world, and who had also enjoyed the benefits of the European Union, who loved free movement and her foreign friends and what immigrants to our country had contributed to it – and she later told me that she had stared in disbelief at the news for a moment before bursting into tears.

I used to feel British, to identify with ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ (in spite of its clichéd over-use), to enjoy our stereotypical and self-deprecating sense of humour and to appreciate what it meant to be British and have so-called British values.

But if this is what it means to be British now, then I am not British.

If to be British is to isolate yourself, to turn your back on your neighbours and to quite clearly say that you do not want any more ‘others’ crossing your borders, then I am not British. If to be British is to place your own selfish wants above unity and togetherness and the needs of those struggling in other countries, then I am not British. If to be British is to walk away in the face of a problem instead of using your voice and fighting it head on, then I am not British.  If to be British is to disregard logic and expertise and the pleas of not just our fellow European nations but non-EU countries too, and to instead swallow up far-right propaganda like Farage swallows pints with a gloating smirk, then I am not British. If to be British is to, in spite of the problems within the European Union and valid reasons for challenging them, willingly align yourself with manipulative, right-wing fascists and racists and give them your support whether you agree with their xenophobia or not, then I am not British.  If to be British is to make those who do not speak with a British accent and do not fit into the stereotypical caricature of our country that does not and never has existed cry tears of sadness and fear and feel like they and everything they have done for us are unwanted, then I am not British.

I no longer feel that same tie to this nation that I did years ago. Yes, it’s home for now, but it doesn’t have to be. It isn’t a valuable piece of my heart anymore. I have let go; I no longer need to be here, for this to be the place I always come back to. ‘British’ no longer represents me. This country no longer represents me, one of the many young voters who had a vision of togetherness, of working with Europe and helping those in need, of becoming a bigger, brighter, more skilled, more educated, more open-minded nation with the help of our neighbours. I had hoped one day, even if perhaps decades and decades into the future, for a borderless Europe and an EU that had resolved its many issues and shortcomings through member states standing side-by-side and fighting together for a better Union and a better world.

Enjoying, utilising and valuing our global connection with the rest of the planet through the internet and the expansive world it opened up to us, our generation voted to stay together and be as connected in physical world politics and economics as we were online, and we were silenced.  Instead, the UK voted to walk away from that unified future and made it clear that we did not desire it. We laughed and joked about the audacity and ridiculousness of American Presidential nominee Donald Trump to want to build a wall between the States and Mexico, and then on the 23rd June we put it to a vote, and as far as the rest of the world is concerned, as good as said that we wanted that for us too.

Only we don’t need to build a wall; we’re already an island.

Many of us are beginning to question ourselves and just what our identity is now that the majority, apparently, has spoken and our own voices have been drowned out.  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all had a complicated, brutal history with ‘Great Britain’ and its identity being oppressively thrust upon them, but there are those who, in their hearts, did feel British until the vote.  Not anymore.  British and Britishness no longer apply to them. This is not who they are, what they voted for.  What meaning the word and the identity had for them, for me, has been corrupted, tainted. We are all struggling to come to terms with what this means for us, and who we are on both a personal level and on an international scale. Who are we now? What are we? Where does this leave us?

Even after years of being back in the UK after living in Japan, I have never lost my strange accent and unusual idiolect. It is my passport; a mark of the people and places that are a part of me, of who I am. It is a mishmash of identities and experiences and societies. I am European, Canadian, a gaijin, an Earthling, an inhabitant of a vast and incomprehensible universe of which our entire, unlikely world is only a tiny part.

I refuse to simply be British anymore.

Surviving Hayfever Season

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Anyone who’s met me will know that I suffer from hay fever, and anyone who knows me well will know the misery it has caused and sometimes still continues to cause. I developed it suddenly when I was a teenager and it’s been the bane of my summers ever since, and it’s something that I’ve only just started to get under control in the past couple of years after it finally forced me to take time off work because I just couldn’t cope anymore.  (Sinus infections and bulging eyes from constant streams of mucus aren’t fun.)  That’s all part of the joy of hay fever; it can feel just as bad as flu to people who really suffer from it badly, but when you tell most others that you have it, all they think is ‘oh you have the sniffles, that sucks’.

So, in the spirit of the snotty grass allergy season, I thought I’d write a post about some of the tips and tricks I use to get through the summer months.

The first and most obvious tip is to take some kind of medication for it, but if you really struggle with your hay fever then you also need to make sure that the various medicines you use are combating all of your symptoms. A lot of people think that popping a Benadryl will be enough to ease all of the issues hay fever can bring about, but if you get it particularly badly, you might want to consider a more well-rounded approach and use multiple products to target symptoms individually, too. Most days I take cetirizine, a drug you can get at your local Boots or online, as well as fexofenadine which is a prescription drug that, from what I gathered, tends to only be dished out to folks like me who literally nothing else was powerful enough for (and boy did it help). If drugstore pills don’t do the trick, try visiting your GP and see what they can recommend!

 As well as these, I use eye drops for my itchy, dry eyes and nasal spray to ease my sneezing and itchy throat.  In addition to nasal sprays like Beconase (pictured) that tackle and improve your symptoms, I also recommend investing in a bottle of salt spray like Sterimar (also pictured). Although they advertise themselves as good for allergies I don’t know that that’s necessarily true, but what I do know is that they’re actually great for clearing out my nasal passages after a tough day out breathing in pollen. Basically, I use the salt spray to wash out some of the pollen still stuck in my nose, and then use the Beconase spray to sort out the symptoms. That way, my nose doesn’t continue to get irritated by the same crap that’s been stuck up there all day and the medicated spray can better do its job!

Eye drops aren’t the only trick for easing irritated eyes; it seems simple enough, but wearing glasses or sunglasses of some kind when you’re outside can also lend a hand at protecting your eyes. Glasses – particularly those with big frames, or sunglasses that wrap around your face a bit like goggles (I have no idea what to call that style…) – help to shield your eyes from the pollen in the air. It isn’t a cure and it doesn’t always make much of a difference on really high pollen count days, but particularly when it’s windy and pollen is essentially being blown straight into all of your facial orifices, it sometimes helps eyes to be less sore and dry than usual. Oh, and it goes without saying, but avoid contact lenses or any flaky mascaras, because if your eyes are already irritated then these will only make it ten times worse.

One little beauty that not many folks might be aware of is the nasal filter. I got mine on Amazon, and in a nutshell, these are little screens that you stick in your nose that prevent pollen from being inhaled and causing excess snot and sneezing fits. They come in different brands and sizes, and usually have a clear plastic connector that – although visible – is barely noticeable and at worst just looks like you’re wearing a small, clear or flesh-coloured septum ring. They can be tricky to get used to and when I first started to use one, I found it only irritated my nose more and then made it difficult to blow my nose, but I soon got the hang of it.

 I don’t wear mine all the time, but I find it particularly useful for making sure I don’t get exposed to loads of pollen and end up a disgusting, miserable mess before I get to a destination. When I used to be outdoors for much of my commute to work, I would wear it for the journey and then remove it once I got to the office and it made such a difference because my nose simply wasn’t being bombarded with pollen that would make my symptoms flare up and then irritate me for the rest of the day. Cleaning my nasal filter is also as simple as running it under cold water and gently rubbing the filters.

My last tip is to use some kind of pollen tracking app! There are a few available and many weather apps also include a pollen count, but my favourite so far has been the Clarityn pollen forecast and tracker. As well as telling you the weather, temperature and what the pollen forecast is, it also says what type of pollen is most prevalent at the moment (I’m allergic to grass pollen, but later in the summer and early autumn tree pollen can be a nightmare for other sufferers), and it allows you to log how your symptoms felt each day so you can produce your own graph and track how you react throughout the seasons.  This helps you to learn your body’s reactions and to predict when you might feel better or worse, and once you’ve worked that out it makes it much easier to prepare for the next year of hay fever.

As awful as it might sound, even with all of these tricks I do recommend planning any outdoor activities around the pollen count and the weather if you suffer to the extent that I do. On High and Very High days, I try to avoid going out unless it’s absolutely necessary, and it’s those days that I make sure I’m using my entire arsenal of anti-hay fever weapons. Save your days out or afternoons when you open all of your windows at home for lower pollen days, or even for when it’s raining. It might not be the most fun going out in the rain or after a storm, but it helps to temporarily wash away the pollen so you can actually enjoy the fresh air instead of fear it (but it does usually peak again the day after a shower).

My hay fever used to completely ruin my summer. I’ve spent many days in bed or on the sofa covered in my own mucus with tissues stuffed up my nose and sore ribs from sneezing incessantly, and other people don’t often realise quite how badly it can impact your quality of life. I feel worse when I have bad hay fever than I ever have with a regular fever or a cold or a stomach bug, and worse still because it isn’t recognised as something that ‘should’ stop me from doing things and having fun.

I have a better handle on it now though, and I’ve learned to work around the pollen counts and predict them based on the weather, as well as learning to work with my own body and its reactions. My summer still isn’t the dreamy time that everyone else’s is and I can’t go for picnics on freshly cut grass, but it’s a hell of a lot better than it used to be!

If you’re a victim of the evils of pollen too, I hope you found this post helpful. Let me know in the comments if you have any tips of your own!

5 Nude Lips for Pale AF Folks

Sunday, 19 June 2016

When you’re super pale – that is, so pale that most high street foundations are too dark for you – it can be challenging to find nude lipsticks that actually suit your skin tone. This gets more challenging still when, like me, you only buy cruelty free products! Fortunately (or unfortunately for my wallet…) I’ve become quite the lip product fiend over the years, and thought I’d share five of my favourite nude shades for pale ladies that are regulars in my lip rotation.


First up is the only gloss of the bunch and, frankly, the only lip gloss product that I actually enjoying wearing. The NYX Butter Gloss in the shade Tiramisu is an almost perfect ‘my lips but better’ shade for me. It’s a natural looking lip colour that’s ever so slightly brown leaning (compared to similar shades in the range that tend to be more pink than I’d like) and it’s a perfect lip product for those days when you just can’t really be bothered to commit to a lipstick. This particular shade would likely suit any undertone as it’s pretty neutral, plus it would also look great on plenty of darker skin tones too.

Unlike other glosses, the NYX Butter Glosses aren’t super sticky – they just feel a bit slick on the lips, and although they’re not long lasting, the formula and the fact that they’re quite sheer mean that they fade pretty well and are quick and easy to re-apply. It won’t last through food or drinking but it’s so fool-proof to put on that it really doesn’t even matter. This is my go to lip product when I want to just put on something that will pull my face together and make it look as though I tried, but that will look flattering even after fading and will require nothing more than a couple of swipes to reapply later on.

The first of two lipsticks from GOSH I’ve picked is their Velvet Touch Lipstick in the shade Nude. Their standard lipsticks have a very luxurious, creamy formula that applies and lasts well but doesn’t have quite as much staying power as liquid lipsticks or some higher end brands. Nude (although it looks very pink in the photo) is another MLBB lipstick that just about matches my lips, but enhances them too. In the tube it has a bit of a peachier tone to it, but it can be applied as heavy or as lightly as you like for a sheer or opaque finish. This particular product is a little bit warmer toned, but not so much so that it would look awful on cooler toned folks.

The second GOSH product is their Velvet Touch Lipstick in the shade Darling. Now, some people might remember this one being all the rage about three or four years ago – everyone was raving about it online. After a while, the appeal must have disappeared because instead bloggers seemed to liken it to the days when people had super light, concealer lips and didn’t count it among their favourites any more.

I’m not ashamed to say that I still love this lipstick. I featured it in my autumn makeup look last year, and I still think it looks great on me. It is a very light shade and it can look overdone if you pack it on, but swept over for a more sheer look or even just dabbed on with your finger and blended out a little, it’s super flattering and is perfect for enhancing the lips a tad but allowing the rest of the focus to go to your eyes. I love using Darling to compliment smoky eyes and more intense eye looks, but it also looks great without there being any drama elsewhere on your face. In the tube this does basically look like a light, neutral concealer but don’t let that put you off!

One of my most used lip products for the longest time was the Sleek MakeUp Matte Me Lipstick in Birthday Suit. This is a slightly darker, faintly brown-leaning liquid lipstick that looks lighter in the tube than it does on my lips. This was the first liquid lipstick I ever tried, and I’ve clung to it for so long because it took the UK a wee while to catch up to the US and elsewhere in terms of the liquid lipstick craze so Sleek was basically all I had.

The formula is relatively long lasting but disappears at the first sight of oil, however the fact that it’s a nude shade means that it fades in a flattering way and after eating something greasy, the edges still hold up fantastically even if the middle disappears. It’s easy to reapply though and doesn’t clump or cake with reapplication, so top ups are as simple as swiping a little more over any spots where it’s melted off.

Last but by no means least is a new favourite of mine, Colourpop Ultra Matte in the shade Midi. This was one that grew on me – when I first tried it, I was a bit disappointed both by how light it was and how pink it looked on my lips. It seemed much more neutral in the tube, and when I first tried testing it out it also really caked onto dry patches and sunk into the lines in my lips.

Once I started playing around with it a bit more though, I fell in love with it. Exfoliating and using a lip balm beforehand is a must, but this has become my go-to matte lip product when I want a nude that has a bit of a faint pink kick to it too. From what I’ve read though, what this looks like on your lips will vary wildly depending on your natural lip colour – on me it looks like a subtle, almost pastel pink nude so don’t expect it to look identical on you. Oh, and the staying power. Honestly, the Colourpop UltraMatte formula is incredible and I can’t wait to get more one day – it took a lot of willpower not to order the entire range even before I’d tried one, now it’s going to be next to impossible. This doesn’t fade after drinking, barely fades after eating and is kiss proof (as long as you’re not full on sucking face).

Left to right: NYX Butter Gloss in Tiramisu, GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Nude, GOSH Velvet Touch Lipstick in Darling, Sleek MakeUp Matte Me Lipstick in Birthday Suit, Colourpop Ultra Matte Liquid Lipstick in Midi

Excuse the awful swatches (I have yet to master the art of this…), but hopefully they help to illustrate what these look like side-by-side. As you can see, Darling is easily the lightest shade and Birthday Suit the darkest, with Midi being more pink-toned and Nude peach-toned. Despite the subtle differences in undertone though, all five shades look great on me and I think they’d look gorgeous on most other pale babes out there too.

What are your favourite nude lip products?

TAG / Infinity Dreams Tag

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Behold, the Wednesday slump has set in and today all my lovely readers get is a tag… but it’s a fun tag, in any case! Liv of Petticoats and Patriarchy was kind enough to tag me in her post for the Infinity Dreams tag, and who am I to say no?

The rules are nice and easy – you need to post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions left by the person who tagged you, and then think of your own 11 questions and tag 11 different bloggers. I can already say now I’m probably not going to tag 11 people because much like in real life I don’t feel like I know enough people to invite anyone to anything but uh, let’s roll with it.

With that all out of the way, let’s get on with the tag…

1. I have eaten an entire 18 inch pizza in one sitting and I'd do it again.
2. I'm half Canadian and have a dual nationality.
3. I think the Big Bang Theory is trash.  The TV show, that is, not the scientific theory.
4. I didn't learn to ride a bike properly until I was 20.
5. I'm not much of a music person and can't relate to folks with emotional attachments to bands at all.
6. I used to be really into art until my GCSE Art teacher literally killed my spirit.
7. I'm a sleep diva; I can't even stand the sound of my other half breathing when I'm trying to sleep.
8. I've seen basically every episode of Air Crash Investigations.
9. I don't like Quentin Tarantino movies.
10. I've licked a bath bomb just to see if it tasted as good as it smelled.
11. I could eat nothing but fresh bread, hummus and extra virgin olive oil if that was even remotely healthy.

1. What did you want to be when you were 5?

I wanted to be a lot of things when I was little but I think when I was five it was either veterinarian or storm trooper! (I was reppin’ the Empire at an early age.)

2. What is your favourite drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic)?

I don’t think I can pick just one so I’ll have to say English breakfast tea, hemp milk and mojitos. Just not together, please.

3. Who is your biggest source of inspiration?

I don’t really have any one person who inspires me in any particular way. Creatively, I get most of my inspiration from media around me whether that’s other bloggers, television, films, books etc. and as far as bettering myself goes, I don’t really have an ‘inspiration’. I just strive in general to make myself, my partner and my mother proud.

4. What is your political persuasion?

‘Bleeding heart liberal’/’social justice warrior’. I voted Green in the last election but next time around, Corbyn has my vote.

5. If you could only wear one outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Assuming this includes that one outfit being social acceptable for all occasions, probably a loose black t-shirt and my obnoxiously printed loose harem-style trousers because they basically feel like I’m wearing pjs and honestly all I want is to be comfortable 24/7.

6. Favourite book?

I haven’t finished a book for a really disgusting amount of time but probably still Stephen King's Pet Sematary because it creeps me the hell out. And for nostalgia’s sake, the entire Young Jedi Knights series (may it rest in no-longer-canon peace).

7. Least favourite word?


8. What would your final meal be on Death Row?

Big spread of fresh bread with olives, oil, hummus etc. followed by a big ol' pizza.

9. What is your best talent?

I don’t think I have one?! I don’t have any particularly unique skills but I can code websites, know my way around a couple of graphics editing programmes and I used to be pretty damn good at creative writing.

10. Would you rather live without your phone, or live without your laptop/computer/tablet?

Since getting a smartphone, I’d probably give up my laptop I’m ashamed to say…

11. Write me a poem!

I could be wrong, but
I'm hoping that a haiku
might satisfy you.

1. What is your favourite animal?
2. Are you a coffee person or a tea person? Or both?
3. Share a smell that you associate with a happy memory.
4. How many countries have you travelled to?
5. What’s your Myer’s Briggs personality type?
6. White, milk or dark chocolate?
7. Describe your perfect house.
8. What’s your favourite pizza topping?
9. In a zombie apocalypse, would you band together with others or go it alone?
10. Would you rather live in the Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter universe?
11. If you had to have either wet noodles or bread sticks for arms, which would you pick and why?
I TAG...

A Scent-sory Evening with Gorilla Perfume

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited by the lovely Danie of Spiked Black Tee to join her and other bloggers at an event at Gorilla Perfume’s store in Islington. Gorilla Perfume will be familiar to just about anyone who is a fan of LUSH – it’s their range of fragrances inspired by art, music and poetry! Each scent has a story behind it, and each is as unique and beautiful as the last.

The evening was an exciting demonstration of not only their fragrances, but how scent can be influenced by our senses. I always knew that smell could impact on the flavour of food, but had never considered that this might be the same the other way around, or that our overall environment including the sounds and lights and atmosphere could change the way we perceive scents too.  Ever notice how one day you might love a fragrance and the next not be that bothered?  It might all be down to everything else you were experiencing when you first smelled it!

We began by trying a couple of perfumes alone, then tasting some lovely chocolates custom made for the scents and discussed how not only the flavours of the chocolate changed, but the dynamic of the smells too. Taste can bring out floral notes or citrus notes or tone down spiciness in a fragrance, and the fragrances could make some more bitter and others sweeter. Next were some cocktails (along with a booze-free mojito inspired by their well-known fragrance Dirty to welcome us). One was prepared for us and was a beautiful fragrant, spiced drink inspired by their Sikkim perfume. This is a warm, gently floral fragrance with notes of jasmine and was complimented beautifully by a cocktail featuring Ophir black pepper spiced gin (my new favourite), jasmine and a touch of cardamom.

Then, it was time to pick our favourite fragrance as a team and create our own! Lovely ladies Danie, Amie (The Curvaceous Vegan), Kaye (Fordtography) and I chose All Good Things, a sweet but very slightly smoky perfume that we all thought would be fun to replicate as a drink. Completely accidentally, we ended up creating an alcoholic version of cream soda, but we weren’t complaining…

The final demonstration of senses and scent was a performance by a live musician and various fragrances to accompany the music. Luise of Broken Forest treated us to some acoustic numbers inspired by some Gorilla Perfume scents, and the combination was a winner. The songs and perfumes were both beautiful and Luise had an incredible voice, so go give Broken Forest a listen!

We were generously treated to a goody bag as we left so I thought I’d also share some of the gifts they gave me. Among the other treats including a couple of pins from Gorilla Perfumes and Broken Forest, a lovely tote bag and Sun perfume postcard, I also received Cyanide Pill and Guardian of the Forest bath bombs, a pot of Dear John solid perfume and two samples of Dirty and 1000 Kisses (two of the scents we’d experienced alongside treats earlier).

I was thrilled to see that they’d included the Dear John perfume, as this was one of my favourite fragrances of the evening. I tend to favour woody, spicy, earthier scents and Dear John is a beautiful mix of citrus, clove, cedarwood, coriander and others that evokes feelings of curling up in a log cabin, but was originally inspired by the creators’ unknown father and his idea of what he may have smelled like. It’s a masculine scent compared to what’s generally considered popular among other women but it’s a gentle, comforting smell too.

Dirty is one of the stars of LUSH and features in some of their other products, and this is a cool, invigorating fragrance with notes of spearmint, thyme, sandalwood, oakmoss and tarragon. It’s an amazingly refreshing scent that’s perfect for summer and I’ve been enjoying getting whiffs of it when it’s hot out.

1000 Kisses is another beautiful but very different fragrance – it’s sweet and fruity with notes of citrus and apricot, but with undertones of earthiness from myrrh and osmanthus. It’s floral, but subtly so, so it’s something that smells spring/summery that I’m actually really enjoying when I normally tend to avoid floral perfumes.

I haven’t had a chance to try the bath bombs yet since we don’t use our bath very often (the water from the bath tap never quite heats up properly…) but I’m planning to take them with me next time I go stay at either mine or the Other Half’s parents’ places for a nice relax. They smell amazing in any case, and have been doing a great job of keeping our bedroom smelling great.

My favourite fragrance of the evening and from my goody bag was definitely Dear John and I think once the solid perfume runs out I’m definitely going to repurchase a spray version of it. I’d recommend all of Gorilla Perfume’s scents though, as they’re all wonderfully unique and perfect for people who fancy a perfume but (like me) hate the majority of popular, high street fragrances. Gorilla Perfumes scents feel organic and earthy and are much more ‘me’ than any of the popular, mainstream brands I’ve ever tried!

I had a great time at the event and it was amazing meeting Dani, Amie and Kaye for the first time – thanks for the laughs ladies, and a big thank you to Gorilla Perfume for the scentsory (aha) experience..!

6 things I used to say before I was vegan

Thursday, 9 June 2016

I pretty much went pescatarian over a year and a half ago, and it’s now been over half a year since I’ve been eating vegan. Of course, it wasn’t always that way and it’s almost amusing looking back how anti-vegetarian I was in my teens, especially. I think some people – both meat eaters and meat-free folk alike – can forget how much we can change when it comes to beliefs and ideals in relation to our diets; ten years ago I was one of the first to snort and say that vegans were all idiots and, well, now I am one.

So, I thought I’d do a little post about some of the things I used to believe, and how my views have changed to what they are today!

Humans can’t survive without meat!
I used to cite everything in the book of anti-veggie/vegan bingo to say that humans have always eaten meat, that we were designed to eat meat, that we will all be malnourished and shells of our healthy selves without meat. After all, my canines were obviously designed for tearing into the rare steaks I loved so much.

It’s certainly true that humans have eaten meat for most of our evolutionary history, and it’s definitely true that not everyone is able to give up animal products and still be healthy (this can be for any reason from medical to a simple lack of good veggie/vegan groceries in someone’s area). Having said that, though, there are plenty of people around today who may be politically, environmentally, religiously, culturally or even just accidentally vegetarian or vegan who prove that it’s perfectly possible for many folks to live happy, healthy lives without meat or animal products.  For some, there are even health benefits to be gained from making the switch, so long as they do so sensibly and with an awareness of nutrition.

Vegetarians & vegans are all pushy, preachy assholes!
We all know the stereotype – people who don’t eat meat are inevitably obnoxious and loud and take any and all opportunities to shout about their diet and lifestyle from the rooftops whether you’re willing to listen or not. I’d experienced plenty of asshole veggies/vegans online back in the day, and that admittedly was part of what put me off even considering giving up animal products – they all just seemed so illogical, intolerant, ill-informed and hateful.

Am I a pushy, preachy asshole now? Well, I like to think not. I try not to even mention being vegan out in the physical world unless it’s a necessity to make sure I get the right food. As for everyone else, once I ended up in the right online communities, I encountered plenty of tolerant, compassionate, lovely vegetarians and vegans who didn’t fulfil the much-loved stereotypes touted by veggie-hating omnivores and the media.

Not everyone who is meat-free thinks meat-eaters are scum, or thinks themselves above everyone else. Not every vegan thinks vegetarians are cop outs for not giving up dairy and eggs, not every vegetarian thinks omnivores are cruel or heartless for eating meat. Vegetarianism and veganism have their extremists like any other movement, but that’s exactly what those types of people are – extreme. In the right spaces, you can find people who are immeasurably supportive and loving towards omnivores, vegetarians and vegans alike!

Vegetarians & vegans are wasting valuable land with their soya crops!
A lack of intersectionality and compassion towards humans is an issue with the vegan and to an extent the vegetarian movement that I’ve known about for the longest time, and it’s one that I’m still very aware of now. A lot of those who are against eating animals and animal products almost seem to prioritise animal welfare above human welfare, and the shining beacon of hypocrisy that I’d honed in on was the amount of land dedicated to precious soya that vegans especially loved so much. Vegetarians weren’t immune either though, because in many of these same impoverished areas where soya is grown, grains like quinoa that are ever-popular with vegetarians as a source of healthy protein were plucked from the cultures they originated from, in some areas even banned for natives’ consumption, and instead mass-produced in developing countries for wealthy, predominantly white vegetarians’ and vegans’ consumption.

It’s true that there are those who certainly care more about abused farm animals than say, the humans who are exploited by animal agriculture, and there is a wealth of horrifying truth in the amount of land that is used to grow soya crops.  What I didn’t know (or perhaps didn’t want to know) was that the vast majority of these soya crops don’t go on to become soya milk for ignorant, privileged vegans or soya mince for wealthy, yoga-pant wearing vegetarians – it becomes feed for the hundreds of thousands of cattle that already take up way more valuable land than the Earth can sustain, and it takes many, many times the acres of land to produce meat and dairy than it does to grow vegetables and grains to feed the same amount of people.  Opting out of animal agriculture essentially cuts out the middle man and helps to protect dwindling space and the wild environments that animal ag is constantly encroaching on.

That doesn’t mean that meat-free diets are also free of guilt or pain, because even in the normal agricultural industry humans are harmed and exploited constantly, but what I am able to see now that I didn’t then is that I can carry on as normal, contributing to as much suffering – human and animal – as everyone else, or I can try to reduce the suffering I contribute to, even if it won’t remove it entirely. I used to believe that if I can’t eliminate all the suffering, then there’s no point and I shouldn’t even bother trying, but now I realise that by making certain changes to my lifestyle, I can at least do what I can to eliminate some of the suffering, and that’s still a positive step towards change.

Meals have to have meat and dairy or they’re just sad bowls of nuts and grass!
One of the most common perceptions of veganism (aside from the stereotypes of what vegans themselves are like) is that vegan food must all be bland, boring and sad. I used to feel like meals had to have meat and dairy and eggs and so on, otherwise what else would it be other than just a plate with a depressing piece of lettuce or boiled greens? Giving up not just meat, but dairy and eggs as well, seemed so restrictive and they’re basically in everything so there goes cake, cookies, crisps, tasty fried things and anything and everything else comforting or flavoursome. I get so much joy from food, and being unable to enjoy so many foods would really affect my quality of life.

It’s almost funny to me now (but nonetheless frustrating) how so many other people I encounter seem to think that a meal can’t possibly be complete without animal products, but that shit’s cultural and rooted in tradition, not reality. If we think back to the meals we were fed by our parents when we were growing up, if we think about – in the UK, anyway – our staple, national dishes, they all centred around meat and then something starchy, with vegetables as a side. Oh, and the vegetables were usually overcooked and gross, which I imagine further feeds the idea that vegetables can’t possibly be the stars of the show. Kate and I were chatting about it back when she was visiting and it’s amazing how our own parents didn’t even enjoy some of the veggies they used to cook, and have since learned new ways of cooking them from us that changed their perceptions of those vegetables; it just never occurred to them before because that was how they and everyone they knew always cooked.

I won’t deny that vegan cooking can be challenging, especially if you’re a fussier eater. I’ll basically eat anything, so I’m down for all the veg, all the beans, all the lentils, tofu, vegan alternatives, sweet stuff, raw stuff, processed stuff – just cram it all down my throat and I’ll love it. Preferably not together, though. Veganism did make me have to rethink cooking and almost figure out how to prepare meals again, but now I’ve come out the other side and I can say it was totally worth it. I used to think I could never be vegan because food was such a huge part of a fulfilling life for me, but that fulfilment isn’t lacking at all. You discover new favourites, and you also realise that you don’t need animal products to make exciting dishes.

Oh, and vegan junk food is hella tasty. Dairy chocolate can suck it now I’ve found Vego bars.

I could and would never give up cheese and bacon!
What? You want me to stop eating cheese? But cheddar is so delicious, pizza is incomplete without mozzarella, and don’t even get me started on Wensleydale with cranberry! And bacon, obviously I can’t give up bacon and all its salty goodness. What is there even to live for if I can’t enjoy bacon with a fry up or have a nice greasy bacon sandwich every now and again?

I haven’t consumed bacon for well over a year now, and cheese (intentionally, at least) for probably around nine months. I haven’t died from withdrawal, and I actually don’t miss it. I used to be that omnivore who said I’d eat two cheeseburgers just to make up for the vegetarians not eating them, and now I honestly don’t want one anywhere near my mouth or my stomach. Granted, part of that comes from my health issues and the fact that for all I know my bowels may well explode at this point if I eat meat or dairy, but mostly it’s because after some time apart, it doesn’t taste as amazing as everyone insists it does, and I feel so much better for abstaining. I feel lighter, I’m more energetic, I have less digestive issues, my IBS is better.

I don’t deny that these things taste good, of course. They do taste good. But my teenage self seemed to think that my life would collapse in on itself if I were to deny myself these things that taste good, when that isn’t the case at all. In my Christmas post I mentioned that I did treat myself to some smoked salmon (one of my all-time favourite foods, way more so than bacon and cheese) on Christmas Day and I’m glad I did, not because I missed it so much, but because it wasn’t nearly as good as I’d remembered. I finally let go and realised that I really don’t need any of these coveted foods that everybody else is obsessed with any more and I can find fulfilling flavours elsewhere now.

I will never, ever be vegan.

If you’re meat-free or animal product-free, what kinds of things did you used to believe or say way before you made the switch?

vaKATEtion Photo Diary #2 / Strolling through Painshill Park

Monday, 6 June 2016

On one of our less adventurous days, Kate and I decided to do something a little bit closer to home and spent the afternoon at a nearby garden. Painshill Park is an 18th century landscape garden in Surrey, and has a nice variety of landscapes in it from woodland (which at the time was full of bluebells!) to meadows and rolling hills, with the odd ruins, rivers and more cultivated flower gardens dotted throughout. It’s a really beautiful place and certainly somewhere you could spend the whole day relaxing with a picnic, we definitely could’ve got there a bit earlier than we did in the middle of the afternoon!

Like most of my posts about Kate and I’s day trips are going to be, this is a really photo heavy post, so most of it will be below the cut – you’ve been warned!

vaKATEtion Photo Diary #1 / Brighton, Bees & Boho Gelato

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Some of you may know that my best friend, Kate, flew over from the US to stay with me for a couple of weeks! This (and general lack of inspiration and willpower) is why I’ve been a bit quieter on the blog and social media over the past month or so, but I’m slowly working my way through all of the photos we took and working on a few other ideas that I’m excited to share with you.  It’s kind of funny though, because we’d talked a lot before she came about vlogging and taking loads of photos together and blah blah blah and in the end we did about zero of that and just lived in the moment and enjoyed each other’s company as if we’d never been apart.

Anywho, as you can see, I’ve decided to name the series of posts relating to Kate’s visit here my vaKatetion because I’m hugely witty, so enjoy.  Most of these will be really light on the text but heavy on the photo, so hopefully you're into that!

The first little day trip we took was over to Brighton since it wasn’t that far a drive, and although it resulted in my nearly trashing the car in a car park, it was an otherwise nice day spent wandering the streets and doing a little bit of shopping. Naturally, we took advantage of the veggie/vegan food available and enjoyed some more burgers from Hobgoblin and an ice cream from Boho Gelato (this time mine were the experimental flavours of lemon and ginger, and mango and chilli – both excellent!) and we took a few snaps, but I didn’t realise until we got there that it was ridiculously busy due to some kind of festival that ended that morning, on top of it being a Saturday. It made for quite a chaotic and stressful day trip in the end, but it was still nice to get out by the seaside on a nice day.

We happened to wander into a little indoor market and were delighted to find a photobooth, so obviously we had to get some photos taken. What we didn’t realise was that there were no instructions and we had no idea when the photos were going to be taken; hilarity ensued.

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