Barry M gelly nail polish – Goji Berry

As much as I love getting my nails done, since becoming vegan my nails grow so quickly that it’s only about a week before my nail polish will need to removed or redone due to the amount of growing nail visible. I am therefore always on the hunt for some decent nail polishes that I can use myself at home for times when I want to have my nails done but don’t necessarily want to spend my money on a full manicure just for it to need redoing in a week.

Now I do not wear nail polish all the time. In fact I am almost always without anything on my nails: As I say they grow so quickly it would take up so much of my already limited time to constantly be touching them up. But on my slower days and weeks, I do count painting my nails as a form of self-care. When I first went vegan there were also zero nail polish options out there that were cruelty free, let alone vegan friendly, and so I sort of resigned myself to using the same 2 colours of nail polish I had for about 10 years. But I have really noticed this year that the vegan nail polish options have skyrocketed, and there are actually a LOT of colours to chose from.

BarryM was always a non-vegan favourite of mine, and now that I am vegan they are probably one of my main go-to brands for make up and beauty products. BarryM really cornered the market (especially on the high street) as they are definitely the most colourful of the make up brands out there. Their eye shadows, lipsticks and nail polish selection is a whole spectrum of colour choices and all of them are easily wearable too. For a while their nail polish was mostly non-vegan, aside from maybe a basic french manicure set, but this past year they really seemed to have focused a lot on their nail polish colours and making sure their products are all vegan friendly and cruelty free.

I tend to stick with quite muted colours – nothing too bold or too bright – purely so that it is all work appropriate, so I decided to try the Goji Berry colour. In the bottle it looks like a dark red, but on my nails it was almost a burgundy colour. Which works perfectly for me because that is usually my go-to colour for most things as it is colourful without being too bold or ‘in your face’. Now the product does say to use a base coat first, but I didn’t check the directions before buying it so was already at home by the time I actually checked this. Therefore I did not use any sort of base coat.

I am actually very impressed by how well this lasted. I do a LOT of typing for work and have to deal with a lot of paper as a result, so my hands are pretty beaten throughout the day. I did my nails on the Sunday afternoon, and the polish didn’t actually start to chip until around Friday midday and even then it was only around the very tips of my nails where I am clearly hitting my keyboard keys a little bit aggressively. This was even with me working out, cooking, showering and having quite a busy week. I normally only expect my nail polish to last about 3-4 days so I was very impressed – especially as that was without even a base-coat or top coat on the polish. I imagine with both added on the polish would have survived quite a long time.

cheeky shot of the engagement ring too…

Each polish was £2.99, although you could also get the higher gloss/matt options for £3.99. Either way, since this nail polish will easily last me a year (if not longer) that is an absolute bargain in my books. While it is definitely not the highest quality of nail polish out there, it is a very strong contender for a reliable, robust and easily affordable product for day to day use.

The downside was that it is a lot thicker than other nail polishes I have used. I do not know if that is because of the vegan formula, but it definitely felt thicker on the brush and I also felt I needed a generous amount in order to coat my nails evenly. Another downside (although unavoidable) is that it is a very strong smelling polish – you would not want to paint your nails in any sort of crowded space or enclosed area as it will give a contact high to everyone in the room if you’re not careful. But that being said I don’t think any nail polish has ever smelt good – they all have a very chemical smell to them and I think that is purely because of the product itself and is readily unavoidable.

Overall: 8/10. A very reliable option that you couldn’t really go wrong with. Good quality for a very good price.

T xxx

Superdrug sugar and oil body scrub

One of my goals for this year is to take my skincare a bit more seriously. I am inching ever closer to thirty and while I do feel like my skin is pretty good, I know I don’t give it the attention it really deserves. I have been doing a lot of research and over the years I have worked out that my skin is quite sensitive, but living in England also means that my skin is pretty dry.

I have used the Vitamin E range from Superdrug before and got on pretty well with it. The night cream I use every night and it really does help hydrate my skin without being really heavy or oily. It also doesn’t make my skin break out or leave my face bright red because of heavy fragrances or chemicals in it. So I decided to try some more of their range, starting with the body scrub.

In the past, most body scrubs I used would just leave my skin bright red. Plus I think they all contained the microplastic balls in them (which is what made up the ‘scrub’ part of the product) so they are obviously no good now. I have seen people can make their own body scrub using sugar or ground coffee to act as the scrub element, so I tried to look for these more natural products moving forward.

I have found this body scrub to be brilliant. The sugar works as an exfoliant without it being very rough and harsh on my skin, and as it is sugar it does dissolve as you scrub. The oil also makes the whole scrub feel very soft and gentle, and when I get out of the shower after rinsing off, my skin feels so moisturised and soft. It means I also do not need to then also apply my body moisturiser as I am already done.

I use this maybe once or twice a week – definitely not every day – and find that it is more than enough to give my skin that little extra moisture boost while not being too harsh with the exfoliating. It has been exceptionally good during this winter season: It has been so cold these past three months – more so than usual I would say – and this scrub has really helped stop my skin from getting too dry. There is also something so comforting and relaxing about coming in from -3 degree (Celsius I add) weather, to a hot shower and soft scrub to literally wash the day off of you and leave you feeling so much nicer.

The tub was £6 and as you can see from the picture it is a huge tub (300ml according to the label on the tub anyway) and I bought it beginning of December and it is only now half empty in February. A small handful of product goes a long way so you can be slightly more sparing with the product than you think you can. As I say, it will most likely last me until about April based on my current usage, and for £6 that is a bargain. Granted it doesn’t do anything special – it smells nice, but isn’t heavily fragranced – as it really just does what it says on the tin. It is quite basic but it does that really well. You could easily find a more luxurious product, but as an affordable option this stuff does all that it needs to.

Overall: 8/10. Nothing special but does exactly what it needs to and still feels lovely.

T xxx

e.l.f sheer matte liquid lipstick

e.l.f (which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face) is a drugstore make up brand that is 100% vegan and cruelty free. I discovered this brand a year or so ago and it is probably now my main go-to brand: Their foundations do exactly what you need, and they have some really lovely shades of lipstick and eye-shadow that are fun and wearable. Now I am no where NEAR a ‘make up guru’ – I can do the absolute bare basics and even then it is not perfect – but I have slowly been trying to learn. I know that make-up can be a form of self-expression and creativity, and I defy anyone to not feel like a total bad-ass in red lipstick!

Now I bought this lipstick actually about a year ago and I have literally worn it everyday since I got it. I got the colour ‘praline petal’ which is a very soft rose gold tinted colour, and I absolutely love it. I feel it suits my (very) pale skin tones well without being too bold or ‘in your face’, since I do wear it every day for work. I also prefer a matte lipstick as sometimes I find the glossy lipsticks are too much for me and make me look far more ‘done up’ than I actually am. I also find they do not last as long because they stick to literally everything – and with my hair as wild as it is I need as little hassle as possible on my walk to work.

I am also very impressed at the staying power of this lipstick. I put it on just before I leave the house and when I come home in the evening it is STILL there. And that is even with me drinking about 4 cups a tea, 2 bottles of water and eating my whole lunch. I do not need to top up the lipstick at all. I would even go so far as to say that it is more like a lip tint than a lipstick as I have never seen this sort of staying power in a lipstick before.

the curls were a little wild on this day too…

The size is your standard size of a lipgloss, but as it has lasted me well over a year you clearly don’t need much to make the colour work. Also for £6 it is easily the best purchase I have ever made. I usually buy e.l.f products from Superdrug stores, however their brand website has a bigger range of products and also tend to do a lot of deals across their different make up lines. Personally I am always very impressed by e.l.f make up and they are easily my favourite make up brand out there. If you have been tempted to try their stuff before, I would highly recommend it.

Overall: 20/10. Best purchase I have ever made. I also think the tube will last me another 10 years at this rate!

T xxx

Lush Snow Fairy

This one is bitter sweet…because I did not think it would last me as long as it did and as such it is no longer available at Lush. This soap was part of their Christmas range and is therefore only available during the Christmas period. So this one is on me…

I LOVE this soap. It smells like candy – so much so that I have genuinely wondered if it tastes how it smells. Obviously I have never actually tried to bite into it (because it is soap, so please do not go around trying to eat soap of any kind!) but this soap just screams Christmas and holidays to me. It has scents of pear drops, bubblegum and fruity notes that end up leaving you smelling like Love Heart candies. And what more could you want from a product?!

It also lasted me ages I bought it around the beginning of December as a nice little Christmas treat, and it only ran out about a week ago. And that is with every day use too. It lathered up into lovely fluffy bubbles and left my skin feeling very soft.

As with all things Lush, they are expensive when it comes to soap. Yes you could easily get a decent soap for far less money, but there is just something so decadent and extravagant about Lush soaps that – for me anyway – the price is quite justified. I believe this bar was £5, and seeing as how it lasted nearly 2 months, that to me is really good value for money. The bars are usually 100g (give or take a few grams) so you do get quite a lot of product when you think about other bars of soap. Personally, I support Lush because not only do their products smell good enough to eat, but their ethos as a company is very refreshing: A vast majority of their products are vegan friendly (with all other products being vegetarian friendly) and cruelty free, as well as Lush being one of the big players in campaigning against animal testing.

You can find out more about the Lush ethos here where they discuss the cruelty free, non-animal tested, vegan friendly manufacturing processes of their products and how they are working towards new campaigns against animal testing across the globe. For me, I would rather pay a slightly higher price of the products when I know the company are campaigning for a cause very close to my heart and for an important cause.

Overall: 9/10. This soap is absolutely delightful and is easily my favourite. The one downside it has is that it is seasonal, so unless you stock up massively over Christmas to last you the rest of the year, it is a long wait until it (hopefully!) returns again.

T xxx

Trevor Sorbie curl cream

I am still trying to persevere with my Curly Girl method so am still trying to find the right products for my hair. The Trevor Sorbie range is completely new to me: I have never used them before for anything, and I haven’t seen that much about them on social media before. But they are one of the few products that was labelled vegan and cruelty free so I decided to try something out of the comfort zone and see how it went.

This does not lie when it says that it is ‘firm hold’. It is almost like glue. Which I was very surprised at. It feels like a really light cream in your hands, so being naive I coated my hair a bit too thickly the first time I tried it and my hair was almost concrete once the cream dried. I have since been a lot more sparing with the creme and so far it is working quite well.

Well it works well on wash day. I find that by day two, after sleeping on my hair, my curls are a lot wilder and the cream just keeps their wildness in a more tame way. As I say I am still learning what works best for my hair so this may just be something that I need to practice to really get the full worth from it.

That being said I am quite impressed with it. It is firm hold so on wash day my curls are actually defined, and while my hair is still quite big, it isn’t from frizz. I have also noticed that the reset days seem to work well with this product – I can wet my hair, brush it, scrunch it as normal and there will still be enough product in my hair to keep most of my curls defined and reduce a fair amount of the frizz that I normally have. Now this may just be me still using too much of the product, but so far it is working quite well for me even if it is a change to my usual hair routine.

Price wise, it was £7 (I bought it from Superdrug) for 150ml which sounds expensive, but the way I deal with my hair I would probably go through this whole tube in about 4-5 months. Maybe even longer if I start to use less of the product. Like I have said this does seem like a very sharp learning curve for me as it is a very different product to what I have used before and it is also a lot more heavy duty.

I feel I may have to do an update on this once I have finished the tube of product…I shall keep you updated!

Overall: 5/10. So far it is ok, but I think time will tell as to the longevity of this product.

T xxx

Lush’s Twilight bath bomb

A week ago I found myself in self-isolation. My NHS COVID app told me that I needed to self isolate for 5 days, on Sunday night. Therefore for 5 days I had to stay in my house and not go anywhere. At all. I couldn’t even go outside. Which meant that my lovely partner had to go and grab me a load of bits to keep me entertained for 5 days so that I didn’t spend those 5 days constantly annoying him while he tried to work from home.

I am not someone who really takes baths, but they are definitely a great way to spend a load of time. Light some candles, run a boiling hot bath, stick on a nice relaxing playlist (alternatively, I have just discovered LoFi mixes on YouTube – super relaxing and really nice background noise) and grab a good book. Maybe even a cup of tea. My partner surprised me with the Twilight bath bomb so I decided there was no better time to wallow than now.

This was definitely a relaxing bath bomb. It had a really strong lavender fragrance to it (so be warned) so once mixed with the hot water it was ideal relaxing tub time. It was also really relaxing watching the bath bomb melt: It started pink, then moved to blue, and then ended with purple. By the end, my bath tub looked like a glittery galaxy. It was also weirdly hypnotic to lay there and run my hands through the water and watching the glitter and colours swirl around me. I am normally really bad at sitting still – I get restless very easily and have to always feel like I am achieving something – but this bath bomb actually did make me slow down a bit and just enjoy soaking in a tub for a while.

I am a big fan of Lush as I find all of their products tend to be really good quality and really good value for money. I believe this bath bomb is £3.95, which is the standard I think for most of their bath bomb products. I also have long, soaking baths so rarely that I feel £3.95 is actually a total steal for the pampering it provides me. The majority of their products are also all vegan friendly, so there are loads of options to try. Lush also do a lot of campaigning to stop animal testing, so if I can help that cause by soaking in my bathtub for an hour or so, then I am all for it!

It also made my skin feel hydrated and smooth when I came out, meaning I didn’t have to use the lotions and oils I normally do when I come out of the shower. It felt nice to be able to pamper myself a bit, and to give my body a long relaxing soak in some boiling hot water for once. Needless to say I slept like a log that night too!

The only warning I would give is that it does contain glitter so be prepared to be sparkly when you come out. Your bathtub will also be super sparkly once all the water has drained. It did however wash away really easily with just a little hose down with the shower head so no permanent harm was done. I quite like being all sparkly – makes me feel like a fairy – but I know for some people that may be quite annoying.

Overall: 9/10. Super relaxing and very decadent feeling. Probably a new favourite.

T xxx

Noughty Wave Hello curl cream

I think I am slowly getting my hair routine down. I have heard great things about the Noughty range so decided to give their curl cream a go to see if it worked better than the jelly to tame my wild locks. I found the jelly did work well but it didn’t keep my curls intact for longer than a day, meaning I had to use it quite often to try and tame the frizz of my curls. Now I know some frizz is normal, but with it being so humid in England lately I would end the day looking like I had been struck by lightning!

This curl cream is definitely more heavy duty than the jelly. I currently only use it once or twice a week (depending on how my hair is looking) whenever I need to refresh my hair and give it a little bit of extra structure. It definitely helps my curls hold their shape even after I have slept on them, and also stops them getting too frizzy in the humidity at the moment.

I also preferred the texture of it being an actual cream, as I did start to find the jelly quite messy especially when using it so often. Just made me think I was playing with slime and I think I’m a bit too old for that! It doesn’t have any strong smell to it which is really nice, especially when it’s so hot out at the moment. The cream is quite thick, but it blends completely into my hair so you can’t even tell it’s on it even after my hair has dried. I also find it doesn’t clump or make my hair really crunchy – no need to scrunch the crunch with this stuff which actually saves a lot of time some days!

Price wise it is again, a bit more expensive than non-vegan non-curly hair specific products but….I have learned to accept this. Hopefully over the years, as veganism and curly hair care becomes more easily available the price should start to lower.

Overall: 8/10. It is only the second one I have tried, so probably shouldn’t get too excited. But I completely get the hype around this.

T xxx

Superdrug Tea Tree foaming facial wash

I am one of those lucky people who has odd skin: In the winter, my skin is stupidly dry, yet in the summer it can get quite oily. I do wear make up most days – mainly because of work or because I’m out seeing people – but I do try my best to always remove my make up properly before adding any creams or toners to my face before bed.

I find the Superdrug range to usually be pretty good, especially for how cheap some of the products are. I think this facial wash is about £2.50 and it usually lasts me a good four months or so. Superdrug’s own range is also always vegan friendly so you have so many options to choose from.

This stuff is probably my favourite. It removes my make up without completely stripping my skin or requiring me to scrub really hard, and it luckily doesn’t have that super strong smell that tea tree always has. The foam is also fun to play with – I like to give myself a foam moustache before I really start the washing process.

Only downside is that in winter it does dry my skin pretty badly. The cold weather obviously doesn’t help at all, but I do find my skin is not as soft after i’m done with this face wash. In the summer though, this face wash is really refreshing and wakes me up a bit after a long day of work. It also helps to get rid of any excess oil or stubborn make up from my face.

Unfortunately, England only has about 3 months of Summer and those days are not always consecutive. I have yet to find a product though that removes my make up as well as this does without requiring me to scrub my face with a scouring pad. If anyone has any suggestions please do let me know!

Overall: 7/10. It works perfectly for about 3 months of the year but I fear it may be a bit too harsh for the rest of the year.

T xxx

Maui shea butter shampoo and conditioner

As some of you may know, I am currently in the process of embracing and nurturing my true curly hair. I have spent at least the last 15 years straightening my hair, trying to tame it and control it and then getting mad when my hair would start to crimp at the slightest hint of moisture. Last year, I decided to stop fighting the curls, and to see what would happen if I really just embraced the curls and actually started to treat my curly hair as curly hair.

I have heard really good things about the Maui range and they do have a lot of options out there. I found this range in Tesco, Boots, Superdrug and Sainsbury’s (at least near me) so they are really available and easy to get a hold of. They are somewhat expensive – the shampoo and conditioner was £6 each! – but compared to some of the other curly hair products out there these are actually much cheaper. Why is curly hair stuff so expensive??

The brand is also vegan friendly which is obviously what I am after. Maybe that is why it’s expensive….?

In all honesty the conditioner is exactly like every other conditioner I’ve ever used. Cannot really tell any difference, except that it does smell really lovely. I come out of the shower smelling like a bowl of tropical fruit so that’s always nice! I have very damaged hair, so I usually always use a massive load of conditioner in an attempt to repair my hair. I am not 100% certain it is working, but my hair is definitely bouncier and when I brush my hair (with conditioner still in) I am getting some truly fat curls.

The shampoo also works really well for me. I had used the Umberto Giannini curl shampoo and that was more like a gel. But the Maui shampoo is much creamier. It doesn’t lather up much (as there are no sulphates, which I believe is what makes products lather up) but it does spread over my roots much easier than the Umberto shampoo. I do like that I don’t have to really pull at my roots or scrub at my head like a mad man. It again smells lovely, so that’s also a plus.

The downside however is the packaging. Plastic aside, these bottles are SOLID. Now granted I do not have the best grip strength but there is so little give in these bottles that I genuinely fear they might crack if I squeeze too hard. They may as well be made out of glass. It also makes me a bit nervous for when the bottle starts to get empty, as I fear I will be standing in my shower doing my best Norman Bates impression trying to shake the contents to the squeezey end of the bottle.

Overall: 9/10. Currently the best ones I have used, although I shall be trying the rest of the range to see if any of the others all stand up.

T xxx

Eden Perfumes: 309

Vegan friendly perfume has always been something that eluded me. I am someone that enjoys wearing perfume, and have spent the last few years using up some of my non-vegan favourites that I had a surplus of. Unfortunately most vegan alternatives are either really expensive, or are only ever really light ‘body sprays’ or ‘mists’, so never last long once put on. I came across Eden perfumes thanks to a very quick google search though, and after reading some of the reviews out there, I decided to give them a try.

Eden Perfume are based in Brighton and create scents that are based on mainstream favourites. They are not complete copies though so there is still a bit of a difference between the different scents. Eden perfumes are also 100% vegan and cruelty free. I have seen online that you can also grab Eden Perfumes at places like Holland & Barrett, but with lockdown I don’t think these places will be open as normal for a while yet.

One of my favourite scents has always been Chanel No.5. It smells so luxurious and classic that it’s hard to not enjoy it. I therefore first tried out Eden’s No. 007 perfume, which all of the reviews said was an amazing dupe of the Chanel. I can totally see why it is one of their most popular as it did smell really nice. Personally though, I found the 007 to be far too musky – it smelt far too much like my Nan and that just threw me off a bit.

The Eden customer service were amazing though and did offer me a free exchange. It came really quickly too so it meant I didn’t have to wait for ages to have my new scent.

I decided to therefore test out Eden’s no. 309, which is based upon the Marc Jacob’s Daisy. I love a good floral scent so thought this would be the most likely to succeed. Marc Jacob’s Daisy is also one of my favourite non-vegan perfumes so was very much on the look out for something to replace it when my stock ran out. The Eden version did not disappoint.

This scent smells AMAZING. I literally feel like a little bouquet of flowers when I wear this. It is also a really light smell so it isn’t overpowering at all. It also seems to last all day, and every now and again I’ll move my arms or readjust my shirt and get a little smell of daisies. It is only just now starting to feel like Spring here in England so this scent has done wonders for lifting my spirits on the cold and dark mornings.

The downside however is that, not being local to Brighton, I cannot go and test out a lot of different scents as on their website they have HUNDREDS that all sound gorgeous. Hopefully once lockdown is ended and travel outside of your area is allowed, I may need to take a road trip to finally test out all of the sets I have had my eye on. As I say though their customer service was fantastic, and when I ordered they did say that returns and swaps are perfectly allowed as they also appreciate that it can be hard to order a scent that you have never smelt before. They answered my questions really quickly and also sent my new perfume in really good time, even with lockdown in place.

The price is also a massive bonus. Each perfume is £18 for 30ml, which honestly feels like such a steal. I have had this bottle now for about three weeks, using it every day, and the volume in the bottle has barely changed. I have no doubt that this will last me a long time and for £18 I cannot fault it at all. They do offer bigger bottles for more money so I think I may have to order one of these next time to last me even longer!

Overall: 10/10. Really good value for money and no. 309 is easily my favourite scent….I actually prefer it to the original!

T xxx