Life Update & Making Exceptions

Happy weekend! Today we're having a bit of an interlude from beauty because I thought it was about time to give you a little life update and address something that has been on the tip of my tongue for some time now. 

Late September saw the start of my third (and final!!!) year of my undergraduate degree in English Literature with German. It's already throwing the punches and so that's why my posts have once again, been a little thin on the ground. Despite this, I'm really enjoying my modules this year and am rather excited to jump back into essay writing - because yes, I am one of those weirdos. This year won't be my final year of overall education however as I am planning to apply to do my MA in 2017. Applications have only just opened so things haven't gone to far yet but it's all so exciting! Not much else to report apart from the fact that yesterday I purchased my ticket for Clean Cult Christmas! I'm so happy to be attending as the original event fell during my Croatia trip. I'll be there between 12-3pm so definitely come say hi if you're also going on Sunday 4th December! You can get your tickets here.

Now on to my vague topic to address... making exceptions within a 'clean' and 'green' beauty regime. I feel that the green beauty community can sometimes seem to push a very pure and almost unattainable standard of 'natural' living, specially when considering green beauty products. I will be the first to admit that I have often felt guilty when lusting after a particular product that I knew others in the community would not approve of. But then, isn't it all about balance? 

This first came about when I was trying to heal a particularly bad bout of acne towards the beginning of the year. I had (unsuccessfully) tested a whole army of green beauty products and nothing was making a dent. I was at my wit's end and the acne really started to take a toll on my mental health. I would often cry and really get down about it. It was then that I decided to give the Bravura Salicylic Acid Treatment a go. Not natural by any means, but something with simple ingredients and good reviews. And you know what? It worked - and I didn't feel guilty. Because why should I feel guilty about healing my skin, and healing my mind in the process? I'm not saying that green beauty doesn't offer effective acid products for cystic acne (just look at moss), but they can be expensive and hard to source when living within a student budget. Sometimes a decision has to made: what do I care about more, my green beauty standards or my happiness? 

This is something that I have also considered when thinking about indie beauty products. The indie world is an absolute passion of mine. There is nothing I enjoy more than supporting independent lady-businesses and trying truly unique products. However, indie doesn't always equate to natural. 99% of the indie brands I purchase from ARE also natural (e.g. Brija Cosmetics), but sometimes I do treat myself to a liquid lipstick with dyes and silicones, or a perfume oil with synthetic ingredients. Natural also doesn't equal vegan and occasionally I like to break the rules a bit to try new things. 

Of course there are still some standards that I won't break. I will NEVER buy from a company that uses carmine (horrifyingly popular within the indie world). I only buy vegan and cruelty-free products, and I still avoid certain things like petrochemicals and phenoxyethanol. Perfume-wise, a lot of the companies I enjoy use a mix of natural and synthetic ingredients (ethically sourced and often phthalate-free), and many also carry 100% natural lines (which are likely to be pillaged by myself in the near future if not already). The indie world is fun and care-free, and to be honest, as much as a hate to admit it and submit to consumerism, it makes me really happy. 

This is not a post to warn you about a change of content; most definitely not. KV will continue to be heavily focused on natural and green beauty. I will still happily purchase from natural brands, and there are some natural products that I will never stay from. But, it's also important to remember: balance is important, and so occasionally I may feature something that is not up to your standards, and that's okay. 


New In: PHB Ethical Beauty Pressed Makeup

L-R: Peony blush, Ash Blonde brow powder, Smokey Quartz eyeshadow, Grape eyeshadow, Dove Grey eyeshadow

L-R: Peony blush, Ash Blonde brow powder, Smokey Quartz eyeshadow, Grape eyeshadow, Dove Grey eyeshadow

PHB Ethical Beauty's pressed makeup collection isn't quite new, but it is still rather under the radar within the green beauty community. Natural pressed makeup is rare, and pressed makeup that is both natural and vegan? Well... it's the holy grail. PHB's new pressed line is both of these things, along with being halal-certified and great value for money. Yes, I know that the packaging isn't quite the prettiest to look at, but the pans can be removed and placed into a z-palette and the performance definitely makes up for this fact.

Over the last couple months, I have been testing a couple of the eyeshadows, a brow powder, and a blush. I chose the eyeshadow shades; Dove Grey, Grape*, and Smokey Quartz*. Overall, impressions have been good but I will say that the formula isn't quite perfect for me. I feel like the pigmentation can vary between shades (shimmer/metallic shades seem to work best), and they can kick up quite a lot of product. However, when you consider that most natural eyeshadow is loose, it really isn't that much of an issue. Their pressed form still makes them more favourable in terms of things like travel-friendliness. My standards when it comes to pressed eyeshadows can also be a bit high as I have recently got into pressing a lot of my indie eyeshadows (sneak peek above). The pigmentation for the Peony Blush* is brilliant and this super bright shade calls for an incredibly light hand. It does look a little metallic in the pan but goes on completely matte.

They definitely have an extensive eyeshadow shade range and hopefully this will continue to grow in the future. There's also a good selection of shades for the brow products and the blushes. However, they seem to currently be lacking in the base department and it would be brilliant to see some deeper shades for our darker-skinned ladies. I will say though, that the shades do seem to go pale enough for me (that can usually be an issue), and I've also found suitable shades in their new liquid base products - review coming soon for those. The Ash Blonde Brow Powder* is also a pretty good match and is ashy enough that it doesn't come up with too much red in it; a classic problem for 'blonde' eyebrow products! I still prefer to use a waxy product for my brows but occasionally it is nice to get a little more definition by following with a powder. It helps them stay in place on those nights out!

Overall, I'm rather impressed with all of the new makeup products coming out from PHB Ethical Beauty. They're one of my absolute favourite brands and I'm really excited to see them pushing the boat out for natural and vegan makeup! Check out their line at LoveLula.

Autumntal Bath Time with Living Naturally

Some months ago now I was sent some absolutely wonderful products by the soapnut-centric vegan organic brand, Living Naturally. They are a brand that's been on my radar for some time as I had been intrigued by their well priced, but luxurious sounding products. I was given the opportunity to try a couple and I've been suitably impressed. Many of the products contain ingredients derived from the soapnut, a naturally 'soapy' fruit. I'd heard of soapnuts being used as a laundry detergent alternative, but never in skincare! But what can I say, it works. Soapnuts are actually a great foaming agent alternative for those with eczema and/or sensitive skin as it's very mild and 100% natural. It also occurred to me that all of these products would be wonderful going into the autumn with their spicy and warm scents.

My absolute favourite product that I was sent was the Coconut & Chai Spice Bathtub Tea*. I'd actually asked to be sent this one because anything involving chai gets my spidey senses tingling. Coconut milk is also one of my favourite ingredients as I find it unbeatable at soothing the skin, especially for my eczema. The 'bathtub tea' is a gritty powder that you pour under a running bath. It doesn't completely dissolve, but it fills your bathroom with the most amazing spicy scent. Sometimes I can't help but to open the jar just to have a whiff. I've already used rather a lot of this and I have even decanted some for friends. I can definitely see myself repurchasing this next winter when I'm looking for something that bit interesting to add to my pamper sessions. 

I was also sent the Cardamom & Lavender Organic Sugar Softening Body Scrub*, which is, as it sounds, a sugar-based body scrub with a very light and non-offensive scent. This scrub definitely leaves a film on the skin (due to its thick base of castor), which although something I don't usually enjoy, is pleasant in the cooler months due to the fact that you don't really need to moisturise afterwards. My only issue was that the packaging leaks very easily - as you can tell from the picture above. This isn't the biggest issue as I tend to keep my scrubs standing in a cupboard, but I have had to clean up a few messes when it has fallen over or I haven't put it down carefully enough.

Finally, I tried the Rose Soapnut Soap*. To be honest, I don't really have much to say about this. It's a lovely, basic soap and thankfully, the rose scent isn't too strong. It lathers up well and leaves the skin really clean and smooth. I think it's a good size too as sometimes I can get a bit bored of a scent when I'm trying to use up a particularly large bar of soap. I have a lot of soap bars to use up at the moment but I do think I'd consider repurchasing as overall, this brand is just really brilliant value for money. In fact, everything I have spoken about in this post is £10 or under, which is amazing for a brand using 100% natural, vegan, and organic ingredients. 

Have you tried anything from Living Naturally?

Recent Empties #8

Come on guys, do I really need an intro for these things anymore?

Odylique Tea Tree & Herb Shampoo
This will forever be in my empties. No explanation needed (but I will be doing a full review soon). I’m trying to hunt down a cheaper alternative but unfortunately, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that nothing else keeps my scalp as soothed and itch-free, without the need for an ACV rinse. Also, it smells AMAZING.

Green People Quinoa & Calendula Shower Gel*
Green People sent me this a while ago along with the deodorant from the same line. I have done a full review, but in short, I do enjoy this shower gel. It has a really fresh scent but if I’m honest, if I’m to spend this much on a shower gel, then I’m probably more likely to spend the money on something like Bodhi & Birch that lasts about five times as long.

Acure Organics Argan Oil
I bought this argan oil way back when I first started using green beauty; in my first ever iHerb order in fact. I bought it with my hair in mind but actually ended up using it as a straight body oil in a bid to use it up. I also used it on my eczema and my skin actually reacted really well to it. However, I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing as there are other basic oils (like Soil Association certified sunflower oil from eNaissance – love!) that are easier to get hold of and have a similar effect on my angry skin.

Hugo & Debra Naturals Grapefruit Himalayan Pink Salt Scrub
This was a really lovely basic scrub with decent ingredients, a decent price, and decent availability. I got this as a Christmas present from my boyfriend’s Dad who bought it from TK Maxx. The grapefruit was refreshing but not overpowering and the ‘scrubiness’ was just perfect. TK Maxx can actually be a bit of a gold mine for green beauty. I assume he picked it up just because he just saw the words ‘natural’ and ‘vegan’ but damn, he did well. Leave a comment below if you’d like to see a post on the kinds of brands you can pick up!

Herbfarmacy Pure Hydration Serum
I have done a full review on this. I absolutely loved this product the first time around when I received it as a PR sample and this was my repurchase. However, I do think my love has waned and I can no longer justify its price tag. These days I prefer to use something with a thinner consistency and a higher concentration of hyaluronic acid that can be mixed with other serums. I’m now really enjoying this offering from Evolve Beauty. The Herbfarmacy has more of a milky consistency and can pill when used with other products. If you prefer all your products to be organic certified then go for the Herbfarmacy (they are certified by the Soil Association – my certification of choice), but I do find the Evolve to be a lot more versatile.

Hynt Beauty Skin Prep Serum (sample)
I was sent the Hynt Beauty Skin Prep as a free sample when I ordered by Sweet Canyon Palette. It’s a really lovely makeup primer which gorgeous botanical ingredients like algae (it does also contain carageenan though which I need to look into). I’d really consider buying the full size of this, but cannot decide whether I’d be more suited for their SPF version, the Sun Prep. Maybe I’ll try a sample of the later before I make my decision as I’m thinking of making another order for their cult concealer to see my dark circles through the early university mornings this winter.

Harper's Bizarre Bizarre Zombielicious Candle
Harper's Bizarre is my absolute favourite indie vegan candle company. They make the most gorgeous scents and although they’re not all from essential oils, they don’t give me a headache (important) and they make me extremely happy. Zombielicious was another of their limited edition Halloween scents that I bought last year. And, as Halloween is again fast approaching, I’ll soon be stocking up when I see them at VegFest London and/or Cambridge Vegan Fair in October.

Schmidt's Bergamot & Lime Deodorant Stick
This deo has HG status. Full review here. I have repurchased put decided to try the Cedarwood & Juniper scent.

Vedani Botanicals No. 21 Cleanser
Another one of my favourite products that needs no explanation. Full review here (I swear I'm not doing this just to be lazy). I have loads of cleansing oils to use up at the moment but I will be repurchasing in the future.

Botanicals Mandarin & Chamomile Cleansing Melt*
This is a really gorgeous product but unfortunately it makes me a little nervous because of the coconut oil. My skin has reacted badly to coconut oil in the past and so I'm hesitant to try anything bigger than this sample jar. I did enjoy it though and definitely suggest you try it if you have more combo/dry skin.

What have you used up lately?