Packing a Hand Luggage Only Skincare Bag

Sunday, 25 September 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review / BonPom Maca & Lucuma Powder & Cacao Nibs

Sunday, 18 September 2016

BonPom Lucuma Powder, Cacao Nibs & Maca Powder

 On my quest to eat healthy and to make sure my diet is as varied and nutritious as possible, I’m naturally intrigued by a lot of superfoods. I find it can be a bit of a mixed bag; for example, blueberries contain much of the same wonderful vitamins and antioxidants as acai berries but only the expensive latter is considered a ‘superfood’. Still, every now and then I discover something special that I’m excited to incorporate into my meals and I stumbled upon a few of those when I was lucky enough to receive a few items from BonPom.

Based in Kingston, BonPom is a brand that strives to provide foods and ingredients that aren’t just healthy, but delicious too, and it stocks a number of things that I’d honestly never even heard of before I discovered the brand. Some things I was already aware of, like the ever popular cacao and cacao nibs that I’d still never tried, but they also sell things like maca, lucuma, baobab powder and more – all of which were totally foreign to me! I believe most of their products are raw and organic (the ones I tried and browsed are all certified organic by the Soil Association) and they also sell selections of culinary and bath salts that sound equally as interesting. BonPom packages their products in very simple resealable bags, each with a pretty design on the front and the nutritional details, serving and recipe suggestions etc. on the back.

I got to try three different items that peaked my interest – cacao nibs, lucuma powder and maca powder*. I’ve seen cacao nibs doing the rounds for ages now but had never actually decided to try them – they seemed awfully expensive whenever I’d seen them in shops. Lucuma and maca powder I had never even heard of however, but on Googling them I was surprised to find that they were apparently a pretty common health food that had just totally passed me by.

BonPom Lucuma Powder, Cacao Nibs & Maca Powder

The lucuma powder was the first thing that I tried. Lucuma is a yellow-fleshed fruit from South America, and is full of vitamin B, anti-oxidants and fibre and also has a low GI making it a great, mild sweetner. It’s also apparently good at helping to curb cravings and appetite (not that anything can ever hold back my appetite) and is a good immune booster. That all sounds great and all, but how does it taste? When I first tried it, it was kind of a confusing flavour! I’d seen some people describe it as faintly caramel-like, and others say that it tasted like sweet potato. I personally agree with the description that BonPom provide of the flavour – an odd combination of sweet potato and maple syrup. Lucuma is most popularly used in smoothies, lattes, raw cakes and puddings and can also be used to sweeten and flavour banana nice cream. I opted to try this out as a topping for a nice cream that I shared in my previous post and turned it into a kind of caramel sauce using coconut oil and almond butter, and it was absolutely delicious! BonPom Lucuma Powder is £8.99 for 200g, which is pretty expensive if you’re on a tight food budget so I wouldn’t really recommend it if you’re trying to live cheaply, but I’ve found it’s a handy ingredient to have on hand for healthier sauces and flavourings.

Similarly to lucuma, maca is found in South America but is a root rather than a fruit. It’s part of the same family as radishes, but surprisingly has a taste very similar to butterscotch. Maca also contains lots of vitamins, and is also supposedly a great near-instant energy booster but without excess calories or caffeine. I’ve been enjoying both the lucuma and maca powders, but I think the flavour of maca powder is only just my favourite of the two. This particular powder is recommended for use in smoothies and hot drinks too, but also in baking. I’ve so far tried it as a flavour in nice cream (subtle, but yummy) and in hot chocolate, which was lovely. I’m also planning to share a recipe for some amazing vegan maca energy bites soon, so keep an eye out for that in the next few weeks if you’re interested. Also like the lucuma powder, the maca powder is £8.99 for 200g.

BonPom Cacao Nibs

Finally, I tried the famous cacao nibs. I wasn’t really sure what to expect; I knew that they were the purest form of chocolate and were, of course, much more bitter, but I still wasn’t certain of whether or not I would like them or just how bitter they’d be. The very first thing that I noticed was when opening the bag – they smell incredible. They smell like a rich, decadent, pure dark chocolate. When I first tasted them though, I wasn’t too sure about them. The texture is almost a cross between chocolate and a coffee bean, and the taste is bitter. I’d read on the bag that they were good to eat straight out of the pouch but wasn’t convinced until I’d had a few more tastes over the next few days. Once I was used to the flavour (honestly, that chocolate smell kind of makes you expect a sweeter, chocolatey taste and texture) I actually decided that I really love them. I enjoy these mainly in my morning fruit and muesli and on top of nice creams and, yep, I actually just munch on them on their own now too. I am officially a cacao convert. These are a little cheaper than the aforementioned powders at only £6.99 for 200g, and from cacao nib prices I’ve seen in other stores that’s actually a pretty reasonable price for them.

Overall, I’m very impressed with these interesting superfoods from BonPom! I can’t decide whether or not I’ll buy the maca and lucuma powder again – I’m leaning towards getting another bag of maca powder at the moment – but I’ll definitely be ordering some more cacao nibs once I run out. I can’t imagine not having them on hand for my breakfasts and desserts anymore, and I’m excited to try them out in some other recipes too. Ingredients like these are always great fun for me because I love trying out new things and experimenting with recipes I might never have thought to try before, so if nothing else I’d recommend checking out BonPom if you want to try some exciting new ingredients that are also nourishing and good for you.

Have you tried anything from BonPom before, and was it just me who’d never heard of lucuma and maca powder?!

* 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.

What I Eat in a Day: Healthy & Vegan #2

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Welcome to another instalment of vegan things that I eat in a day! If you haven’t caught my other posts on this topic, you can check out my very first post about a week of basic, vegan meals here and my healthy, vegan meals in a day post here.

Today’s post is another insight into the healthier plant-based meals that I eat on an average day. I’ve been really into eating well and exercising a lot recently, and I’ve been loving how energetic I feel as a result. Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself – life isn’t worth living without cinnamon buns and takeout – but it does mean that I’m a little bit more thoughtful about what I regularly put into my body and how it might help or hinder me later. When you’re vegan or even vegetarian, thinking about your own nutrition is all the more important since you need to make sure you eat a very varied, nutrient-rich diet to keep on top of all of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy. (But no, it’s not as difficult as non-veggies claim!)

Whether you’re vegan or vegetarian or neither, hopefully this post will give you some inspiration for tasty, plant-based meals you can try out yourself. Anyway, without further ado, here is what I ate in a day…

Unless I’m going all out and cooking up a stack of pancakes, I try to keep my breakfasts relatively light. As I’ve said in previous posts, eating too much or too early tends to make me feel off for the rest of the day, so lighter meals are the way to go for me before midday. For breakfast today, I enjoyed a slice of seeded toast with mushroom tofu scramble, topped with chives and a few squirts of sriracha. I finally found a big bottle of sriracha sauce in one of my local supermarkets and since then have been using it on pretty much anything and everything that it goes with. I only had one slice of toast rather than two, but made up for this with a much bigger portion of the tofu scramble. This meal is filling but not heavy, and the seeds in the bread paired with the tofu make it a good source of protein, with the mushrooms ticking off one of my five-a-day.

Next up, lunch! I’ve been making a conscious effort to have good, hearty salads both at home on weekends and at work, but on this particular day I was running kind of low on my usual ingredients. I made the best out of what I had though, and cooked up a warm buckwheat salad with green beans, parsley, pine nuts and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Buckwheat is a great health food that’s high in vitamins and minerals, but low GI and low calorie without sacrificing satisfaction – this was very filling, and also relatively quick and simple to prepare. Given more ingredients I probably would’ve done something a little more interesting with my buckwheat, but this wasn’t too bad for whipping something up out of next to nothing!

Whenever I have a gym session or class planned, I always make sure to leave time to have a quick snack beforehand to give me enough energy to get through it. Before my late afternoon class, I had a nectarine, a corncake with crunchy Meridian peanut butter (it’s 100% peanuts!) and one of my own homemade energy bites. These were inspired by a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s superfoods recipe book, and are essentially just nuts, dates, oats, seeds and dried berries. They’re a great little pick-me-up that are totally raw and natural, but also full of healthy ingredients. I have plans to develop this recipe further using a few lovely ingredients I received from BonPom Healthfoods too so keep an eye out for that if vegan nibbles are your jam.

This dinner is one of my favourites that I’ve created so far! Back before I went vegetarian, one of my all-time favourite meals was a pork and chorizo stew with fennel and butter beans, and I decided to recreate those flavours in a dish similar to pasta e ceci, a dish I also adore made up of chickpeas and pasta. Basically, this is fennel seeds gently warmed in extra virgin olive oil, followed by chickpeas, celery and fresh fennel stewed in vegetable stock. Season with copious amounts of paprika and smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and blitz up half of the mixture with a soup blender, then add the other half back in with butter beans and soup pasta and cook until the pasta is tender. Top with another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some leftover fennel tendrils and wow. This is grade A indulgent comfort food, but it’s healthy because it’s still low in fat, totally plant-based and contains plenty of protein from the beans and chickpeas. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again…

If you haven’t heard of banana nice cream then dude, where have you been? If you have a freezer and a blender or food processor, you can make amazing healthy ice cream using simply frozen bananas and whatever other ingredients you’d like to add to them for flavour. Today, I made peanut butter, chocolate nice cream with a caramel sauce, topped with cacao nibs. The caramel sauce was a delicious concoction made from raw lucuma powder, almond butter, agave nectar, sea salt and oil and was just perfect with the nutty, chocolatey nice cream. Cacao nibs are also a new one for me and I didn’t like them much at first – when you’re used to chocolate, it’s a bizarre texture and very bitter taste – but they’ve really grown on me and I now love topping all of my breakfast bowls and desserts with them.

There you have it – another day of healthy, vegan meals. Let me know if you’ve found this post helpful, and definitely send me photos of anything you make yourself because I’d love to see! What are some of your favourite healthy but tasty dishes?

Review / Ere Perez Highlighter, Lip & Cheek Balm and Lip & Cheek Tint

Sunday, 4 September 2016

Ere Perez Packaging

Versatile Vanilla highlighter in the shade Falling Star, the Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in the shade Holy, and the Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in the shade Joy
I’m always on the lookout for new natural, cruelty free brands and was pretty excited when I spotted Ere Perez on It’s a brand name that was completely new to me, but the minimalist but feminine packaging really appealed to me and the products sounded interesting and like nothing I’d really seen before, so I was keen to give some of their cosmetics a try! For those of you who are as unfamiliar with the brand as I was, Ere Perez is an Australian company with Mexican heritage, and all of their products are cruelty free, vegan (except for some of their mascaras, which contain beeswax) and made with only natural, toxin and GMO-free ingredients. They never use artificial scents or perfumes, and their products also contain various extracts, oils and vitamins to help nourish your skin on the inside as well as look beautiful on the outside. I chose to try out the Versatile Vanilla highlighter in the shade Falling Star, the Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in the shade Holy, and the Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in the shade Joy*.

Versatile Vanilla highlighter in the shade Falling Star, the Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in the shade Holy, and the Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in the shade Joy

The packaging of each product is extremely simple but aesthetically pleasing. Everything is white, with the cute handwriting-style silver logo that makes it feel classy but a little more girly than some other brands – it reminds me a little bit of the flirty, feminine logo Lily Lolo used to have before their rebrand. Each item comes in its own box which, while very nice to look at, isn’t my favourite thing in the world because it always feels wasteful to me to make these tiny boxes that are just going to be (hopefully) recycled anyway. That said, at least it’s a recyclable material. As well as the outer packaging being nice, the main packaging for each product is also minimalist, pretty and feels very sturdy and well made.

Ere Perez Versatile Vanilla Highlighter in Falling Star

The first product that I tried out was the one I was most excited about, and that was, of course, the Versatile Vanilla highlighter, which is £18 for 11g of product. I’m a sucker for highlighters, and I’ve been on the hunt for a nice cream one for quite a while now. Among other lovely ingredients, this highlighter contains olive oil, cocoa butter, vanilla extract (hence the name) and vitamin e to keep your skin hydrated and naturally dewy as much as highlighted. It doesn’t seem to be scented, but it does have a smell that I can’t quite put my finger on – it smells similar to some unscented lipsticks I remember my mum using in the past, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily but might be off-putting to people who are really sensitive to smells in their beauty products.

I was a little disappointed when I first opened the compact, because it looked super dark compared to what I was expecting. But, once I started to rub my fingertip into it, the colour totally changed; you can see the difference between the above close-up and the group photo I took when I first received them. I imagine because it’s a natural, oil-based product that there might be some mild separation and the oils just need to be worked back together again after they haven’t been used for a while. The shade Falling Star is described as suitable for all skin tones, but it’s just on the cusp of being too dark for me so if you’re extremely pale I would maybe test this out before committing, and unfortunately they don’t seem to stock anything lighter. That said, it’s a really beautiful, almost cream-coloured highlighter that’s not quite champagne but isn’t gold or silver either. On first swatching it or applying it to your face, it’s pure, reflective shimmer with no glittery bits that makes your skin look like you just woke up glistening.

There are a couple of downsides to this highlighter that you may want to consider, though. The first is that, for me personally, it is quite subtle. I’m someone who’s used to piling on the highlight and I like to be visible from space, so while this is beautiful it doesn’t quite pack the punch I had first expected. Even so, I have really been enjoying using it because it just gives you the loveliest, most natural glow that none of my powder highlights really achieve. You really do look like you’re glowing from within or like your skin is just naturally radiant. The second downside, which kind of links to the first, is that it does get toned down quite a bit when you set it with a setting powder (which, as it’s a cream highlight, you tend to want to do) which makes it even subtler. You can still see the glow and it still looks fine, but the reflect is significantly reduced when layering powders over the top. After much experimenting though, when worn alone it does work well with setting sprays instead of powders, and it also makes a lovely base for powder highlighters.

Despite my initial issues with it being so subtle though, this has become one of my everyday staples because I just love how it makes my skin look. It’s the perfect highlight for those of us who lean more towards ‘no makeup’ makeup looks and want to look as though they’re naturally radiant and dewy rather than obviously wearing highlighter.

Ere Perez Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in Holy

The next product is the Clever Carrot Lip & Cheek Balm in the shade Holy, £16 for 10g. As the name might suggest, this does actually contain carrot oil, but rather than being carrot-orange it’s a gorgeous cool-toned plum colour. This is designed to be worn on both the cheeks and the lips, and like the Versatile Vanilla highlighter it contains a wealth of other natural oils to hydrate and look after your skin while you wear it. It’s described as ultra-waterproof, and all you need to apply it is your fingers – no need for lip or blush brushes, so it’s great to toss in your bag for travelling or fixing up your makeup on the go.

I absolutely love this product and I’m counting down the days when I can go into full on autumn-mode because the shade is perfect for colder months and would look especially stunning on all of you pale babes out there. On the cheeks it looks like a lovely, natural flush and you can use very little product or build it up for a more opaque colour. I would say that when you’re first using it, less is more as this is quite pigmented and it’s not uncommon (at least for me…) to accidentally go overboard when applying cream blushes. It’s easily tapped onto the cheeks and blended with your fingertips but I like to use my powder brush or a stippling brush to gently blend out the edges just in case anyway, being a blending fiend and all. I’m not sure I’d say it’s definitely waterproof because it does fade somewhat throughout the day, but it does also seem to slightly stain the skin so while it may not be quite as colourful by the evening as when you first applied it, it can still be used as a longer wearing blush or lip tint.

The formula of this balm is a little hard to put my finger in; it looks pretty matte on the cheeks, but in the pan it looks like it’s a little bit shimmery and the shimmer comes through when you apply it to your lips, too. When worn as a lip product, it’s not slick or slippery in the slightest so stays put when you apply it, but it’s also non-drying and you can’t really feel it on. Depending on the natural colour of your lips, it might be a fairly subtle lip colour, but it does add an extra oomph to natural makeup looks that pulls the look together without being a super bold purple. One thing I do notice when it’s on my lips though is that I can kind of taste it, and it smells quite similar to highlighter as I mentioned before.

Ere Perez Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in Joy

The last product is the one that I was the most curious about, but that I’m also the most unsure of how it looks on myself! This is the Beautiful Beetroot Lip & Cheek Tint in the shade Joy, which is a bright, vibrant cherry red. This contains rosehip oil and beetroot extract, and as you’d expect from something made from beetroot, this colour packs an almighty punch. It comes with a roll-on applicator, but I quickly learned not to use the roll-on directly onto my cheeks unless I wanted big red stripes down my face. This is less of a tint and more of a stain, and as the brand recommends, a little goes a long way. Once you get the application right though (either roll onto a stippling brush, or carefully use your fingers to pat it on and rub in to blend - be careful, it dries quickly!) this gives you a gorgeous matte, red flush that looks like part of your skin.

On the lips, it’s on the bolder side of lip stains and makes you look a little bit like you’ve been eating raspberries or a nice, cherry popsicle. What I love the most about this is that it’s the closest I’ve ever really seen in the Western market to Korean lip tints, which are subtle but beautiful and often used to do things like pretty gradient lip effects or to give a ‘just bitten’, flushed look to the lips. If you dab this into the inner part of your lips and blend it out, the result is basically a fancy, Korean lip tint without having to hunt around for a good cruelty free, Korean product. And, like I said, this is one hell of a lip stain. Once it’s on, you don’t really have to worry about re-applying unless you’re eating something very oily, and although it’s quite a bright red you don’t have to worry about it bleeding or transferring at all. This would be a great all day lip and cheek colour for hot days, travel or even sport.

This colour would probably look fantastic on plenty of people, but despite my undying love for bright red lips, I can’t decide if it looks quite right on me or not. I’d love it if they did a more plum-toned one similar to the Clever Carrot Balm, but in the meantime I’m determined to make this work for my skin tone and make myself love it because it’s too good a product not to use!  At £16 for 10ml it might not seem like a lot for the money, but believe me when I say you really don’t need a lot of this baby each time you use it, so it’ll last an age.

Ere Perez Highlighter, Lip & Cheek Balm and Lip & Cheek Tint Swatches

Despite having never heard of Ere Perez before, I’m very impressed with what they have to offer and I really hope they bring out more shades of their Cheek & Lip Balm and Tints! All of these products are available from and, as I mentioned earlier, are cruelty free and vegan too. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but Ere Perez is proving to be another great example of why you don’t always need unnatural ingredients and certainly don’t need animal testing or animal products to make great quality cosmetics.

* 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.

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