2 Vegan-Friendly Multipurpose Balms
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This article was first published on the now defunct LoveLula Blog. It has been re-published on Katie Vibes with their permission. 

One of the hardest beauty products to find as a vegan is a good multipurpose balm. These balms are great because they can be used for nearly everything and you can get them for all kinds of skins. They can be used as a cleanser, mask, moisturiser, or as a heavier balm for keeping elbows and knees in check. Balms are the 'classic' green beauty product but they often come with animal-derived ingredients such as beeswax. However, there are vegan balms available and they're just as good as their non-vegan counterparts...

Skin & Tonic London Calm Balm
Although Skin & Tonic aren't a completely vegan brand, they have some really amazing vegan options and one of them is their fabulous Calm Balm. Calm Balm is a shea butter based balm enriched with lavender. It's mainly marketed as an aromatherapy balm but I've found that it works great for so many other things. For example, it isn't too rich to use as an overnight balm on oilier skins and when my skin is a little flaky, this is the first thing I reach for. I also love to use it as a protective layer before a particularly hot shower. The texture is quite hard but all you need to do is warm up a little in your hand before applying. The packaging is really beautiful and so, if you do choose to use it as a night time sleep balm, it's gonna look good on your bedside table. The Calm Balm is £23 for 5og or £10 for a cute mini size, perfect for your handbag.

Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm
Lyonsleaf create really effective products that are all water-free. This means that they don't require the usual preservatives needed for water-based products. So, if your skin is really sensitive, this might be a better option for you. Their Beauty Balm has a much softer texture than the Skin & Tonic and so makes a great balm cleanser; my face has never been so clean! This also makes a wonderful moisturising mask that can be left on overnight. The Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm won silver in the FreeFrom Skincare Awards 2014 and so you be sure that you're getting quality product. It's also really affordable at only £12.95 for 55ml (that goes a really long way!)

What other great vegan balms have you come across?

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On My Bedside Table: Current Skincare
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It seems I haven't shared a skincare routine on the blog in the longest time! To be honest, I'm chopping and changing routine constantly so it often seems a bit disingenuous to share some kind of pseudo-regular routine. Saying that, I have actually been keeping to a routine lately as I've been having a nightmare time with my skin. I've been working full time for most of summer and I begin my Masters course this week; safe to say me (and my skin) are stressed.  

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In the AM, I like to use a gel cleanser. My usual pick is the Andalou Naturals Kombucha Cleanser but unfortunately I have just used it up and it has now been reformulated. I'm currently trying the Green People Oy! Clear Skin Foaming Wash* but I think, in the future, I would definitely prefer a thicker gel cleanser with a bit more oomph. This offering from Green People almost vanishes into the skin and I'm not really in to it. In the PM I preempt this with a cleansing oil and at the moment I'm loving the Vedani Botanicals Silky Face & Body Oil. This isn't currently on sale and I was very lucky to receive one from Mercedes as part of a giveaway prize. I absolutely love this oil and it also works as a great multi-tasker when I need to pack minimally for travel. I'm definitely not looking forward to when it finally runs out. It's absolutely fabulous at removing makeup but I do occasionally loosen off any heavy eye makeup with the Madara Micellar Water*.

Serum-wise, I'm currently testing some products from The Ordinary. They aren't the cleanest, but they use a selection of natural/organic ingredients and everything is cruelty-free and most products are suitable for vegans. I've been using the Advanced Retinoid 2% (now called Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion) in the evening as a super-charged de-clogging serum for my closed comedones. I definitely think it has been effective and I am happy to continue using it as my comedones are a constant battle that hasn't yet been improved that much by completely natural products. I've also been using the Salicylic Acid 2% as a spot treatment. It is the same strength as the Bravura peel but the thicker consistency makes it easier to apply to smaller areas. I haven't noticed a huge difference from using this but I may give it another go when it runs out due to the great price point of The Ordinary's products.

At the moment I am pre-empting any moisturising product with a good spritz of the Evolve Beauty Skin Defence Moisture Mist*. This is a relatively new release from Evolve and probably one of my favourite products of theirs that I have tried. I find this mist to be moisturising (without making my face greasy) and it provides a perfect base for any kind of face oil. I also love using it as a refreshing face mist post-gym! Skincare-wise however, I enjoy using it before my oil of the moment, the Vedani Botanicals Silky Skin Serum. Unfortunately this is also not available at the moment but if it ever pops up, pick this up. I absolutely adore this serum and I am going to be truly sad when it runs out - which will be soon. It's absolutely perfect for my skin, which is to be hoped as it was a bespoke blend from the lovely Mercedes. I really enjoy giving my skin a good facial massage with it before bed. In the AM, I'm loving the Hynt Beauty Sun Prep Broad Spectrum SPF30. This SPF is one of a kind in the green beauty world, in that it is almost completely transparent. It provides a smoothed and protected base before makeup and its light texture makes it perfect for combination/oily/acne-prone skins like my own. If you're going to try anything from this post, I suggest picking up a sample ASAP from Glow Organic.

What has been featuring in your skincare routine lately?

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Scandinavian Travel Diary: Copenhagen

In the second week of June, my boyfriend Rhys and I embarked on our long-awaited anniversary trip to Scandinavia, with stops in both Copenhagen and Oslo. As a long-time admirer of Scandinavian culture, the locations were 95% my suggestion but we both had a fabulous time. As expected we immersed ourself in the fascinating Norse history, spent a lot of time outside, and spent a lot of time eating some delicious vegan food. The vegan coffee 'nice cream' pictured above was an accidental find, but came highly recommended after a sneaky trip to the Woron studios. It's true - it really is the best ice cream I have ever tasted, vegan or otherwise.

We were ever so lucky during our Copenhagen jaunt as the weather was absolutely beautiful most days and we were able to spend much of our time enjoying the nature, architecture, and scenery in general. Pictured above is the Copenhagen Botanical Garden - a must-visit if you're looking for something fun (and free) to do on a sunny Summer's day. There's a wonderful palm house and the gardens are located very near the Botanical Museum that often features art exhibitions and the like. On our first day, we visited a fascinating art exhibition within some old abandoned cisterns that was both creepy and beautiful.

If you ever visit Copenhagen, make sure you visit Copenhagen Street Food at PapirØen (Paper Island). This is basically a large make-shift street food market within a warehouse, complete with shipping containers, graffiti, and a cow-shaped disco ball. The seating is mainly communal so you're free to pick and choose what food you would like before sitting down with some (for Scandinavia) reasonably-priced beer. Rhys and I ended up sharing two pitchers (oops) of a really delicious organic option.

For food, Latienda served us up some amazing Columbian-inspired treats. We had a quinoa burger, a pulled seitan burger, and plantain chips. The chips were phenomenal and I will say that I now have a plantain-shaped hole where my heart used to be. Latienda offered some of most delicious vegan food that I have ever eaten.

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Another amazing vegan eatery find was 42Raw. I had heard of this place online before jetting off but had no idea how prevalent it was. I had assumed it was a small one-off but we actually came across a few branches, including one in a subway shopping centre! As the name suggests, 42Raw sells mostly raw food - nothing cooked above 42 degrees. The menu included raw pizza, burgers, smoothies, cakes, and even sweet potato fries! On our first visit I had an amazing sandwich and of course, a matcha latte. This is definitely somewhere we would hunt down again and it was so nice to have a fully vegan restaurant so readily available. Luckily it was never as busy as the website's header suggests...

Then we were off to Oslo! Watch this space for more specific photo selections (more from the botanical gardens and a visit to the WORON studios prehaps?) and the Oslo travel diary.

Have you ever visited Copenhagen?