Review / KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo

Saturday, 26 August 2017

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair Tones
Is there anyone these days who doesn’t love a good dry shampoo? To be honest, I’m surprised there haven’t been any baby boomer articles about how millennials are held together by layers of dry shampoo and have killed the art of hair washing (please prove me wrong I want to laugh at this if it exists). Still, finding a dry shampoo that actually suits you and your hair can be challenging, and more challenging still is finding one that’s cruelty free and vegan.

Since I discovered that Batiste isn’t cruelty free, I’ve been on the hunt for a good dry shampoo to replace it, as I am one of those greasy gals who tries to avoid washing her hair for as long as I can get away with. Better still if it’s a natural dry shampoo; after a while, I’ve started to notice that aerosol and chemical-based ones have been leaving my scalp irritated and my hair in worse condition than I’d like.

So, when someone from KiteNest got in touch with me to ask if I wanted to try out one of their organic dry shampoos*, how I could I say no? KiteNest is a brand of 100% natural creations all handmade in Lincolnshire, and nothing they produce contains parabens or other nasties, nor has anything been tested on animals. As well as their dry shampoos, they also do ranges of lip balms, body butters and more, although many of these products are non-vegan as they contain beeswax.

They offer two options for their dry shampoos: one for light hair, one for darker hair. The only difference in these is the type of clay used in the product, with Kaolinite (white clay) used in the lighter hair version and Morrocan lava clay and Illite (clay) in the darker hair one. This makes sure that, being a powder rather than a spray, the product isn’t too noticeable sitting on your scalp or in your hair. Getting stuck with weird white-ish silver roots after using a dry shampoo isn’t great, am I right fellow dark-haired folks? Other than the clays, the ingredients lists aren’t extensive or full of anything that seems unfamiliar. Arrowroot powder, essential oils etc. make up the bulk of the rest of the ingredients list, including various citrus oils that give it a zesty, fresh scent.

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair Tones

The packaging is pretty cool – the branding and design is vibrant and interesting looking, but the tube is also made from recyclable cardboard for less waste. One thing that I don’t like about the packaging however, is that I cannot for the life of me break the plastic seal so that I can use the sprinkle lid in the way that it’s supposed to be used. I can see that there’s a little bit on it that you must be supposed to pop out in some way, but no amount of pushing or prodding or bashing it with a knife seemed to make any difference, so I’ve had to resort to just popping the whole lid off and using my fingertips to collect and apply the powder! I’m not sure if anyone else had this problem, as everyone I spoke to who’s also tried it did manage to get the lid open in the end. Maybe I just got a faulty one? Even if I could get it open, I can’t see it being super secure though, as it’s not airtight and there’s no way to fully reseal it so I’d imagine it’s vulnerable to leaking.

The dry shampoo itself however, I like a lot more than the lid. I gather up some of the product on my fingers and try to sprinkle it into my roots, massage it in a little bit and then leave it to sit for a minute or so. This, so they say in the instructions, allows it to soak up the excess moisture. Do make sure that you give it that time to settle; otherwise you might accidentally end up topping yourself up with more powder than you need. After 30 seconds or more, they recommend brushing it though, but I tend to just use my fingers for this as my thick, wavy/curly hair doesn’t respond well to hairbrushes. The result is pretty darn great! After use, my hair no longer looks or feels oily, and my scalp feels much better using KiteNest’s dry shampoo than it has vs other dry shampoo brands.

KiteNest Organic Dry Shampoo for Dark Hair Tones

Extended use of this product doesn’t start to dry out or irritate my scalp like other dry shampoos can, and the smell of it is lovely and leaves you feeling like your hair is refreshed and clean again, without having to actually wash it. My hair also doesn’t feel to dry and brittle after using this, either. I don’t know about you, but the super dry, almost slick texture that my hair goes after using traditional dry shampoo is really unpleasant to me and also makes it nasty to touch and difficult to style, but I don’t have that problem at all with this. After using KiteNest’s dry shampoo, my hair just feels like hair. You do need to be careful of how much product you use (too much and you’ve basically just got clay sitting on your head until you wash it out again), but once you find the right balance for you and your hair, it’s can be a great little addition to your haircare routine.  Oh, and try to remember that you’ve used it because if you scratch your head you might end up with some clay under your fingernails and get a lil’ confused like I did!

If you’re concerned about nasty chemicals, this is a great alternative to high street dry shampoos that doesn’t break the bank. One tube of KiteNest’s is only £10 for 150g, and so far it’s lasting me much, much longer than my aerosol dry shampoos ever did. You don’t need a lot of product to do the job, so the 150g will go a lot further than sprays tend to. This baby is also 100% natural and organic, vegan friendly and cruelty free, plus you also get the bonus of supporting a local, British independent brand.

After trying this out, I’m definitely converted to natural, powder dry shampoos and I’ll definitely be repurchasing this for myself! What are your favourite dry shampoo brands?

* 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 / Inika Certified Organic Primer

Sunday, 20 August 2017

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

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

Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid

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

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

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

Inika Certified Organic Pure Primer with Hyaluronic Acid

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favourite cruelty free and vegan primers?

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

Fitness shouldn't just be about aesthetics.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of your favourite parts of working out?

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