Katie Vibes
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DIY: 4-Ingredient Nourishing Nail Oil
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I have a confession to make - over Christmas, I got Biosculpture gel nails. Although not natural, Biosculpture is free of certain toxins, completely vegan, and cruelty-free. My second confession is I don't feel too guilty about it, but what I do feel guilty about is that after I couldn't get an appointment to get them removed properly, I removed them myself *cue gasps*. It was a fairly simple process but my usually strong nails are hating me for it. After a couple weeks of super flakey and breaky nails, I decided to do something about it and DIY a super nourishing nail serum to help them grow and repair themselves. After consulting various ingredients I had laying about the house, I came up with this super simple and easy recipe. 

Avocado and argan oils help to moisturise the cuticles and repair the nails, while magical lemon and lavender essential oils helps to stimulate growth and strengthen. I used some carrier oils that I had laying around and don't really use but you can source cheaper (and still organic) options from supply stores such as Naissance - either from their website or select products are available via Amazon. This is also where I get the majority of my essential oils. Lavender and Lemon EOs are not too expensive so this DIY should be reasonable cost effective - you may even have some of the ingredients already! Check out the recipe below.

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Ingredients:
- 10ml argan oil
- 20ml avocado oil
- 10 drops lemon (citrus limonum) essential oil
- 15 drops lavender (lavandula angustifolia) essential oil
(essential oil amounts based on 30ml carrier oil - check dilution guideline information such as this for other amounts)

Remember: Lemon essential oil increases your sensitivity to sunlight so I would suggest only using this serum in the evening.

Do you DIY your own beauty products? Will you be trying this nail serum?

4 Easy Zero Waste Lifestyle Updates

Although I don't think I'll ever manage to be 100% 'zero' waste (just not wholly possibly where I live), I have been trying to make continuous small changes to reduce my contribution to landfill. Some changes are a lot easier than you'd think and often save you money, rather than costing a lot to implement. Here are some easy changes that are affordable too:

1. Reusable drinks cups
This change is quite obvious and this probably isn't the first time you've heard about it. Using a reusable drinking container just makes sense. This is something I've been doing for years and I have multiple containers for slightly different uses - although this totally isn't necessary. I love my 24Bottles Thermo bottle for taking ready-made hot drinks out of the house with me as it keeps drinks hot or cold for hours on end and the stainless steel means it never holds on to smells. I used to take a coffee with me on the drive to university at about 7am and I could only just sip it at about 9:30am... so it works! I've never attempted to get this filled at a coffee shop so I can't speak too much on that but its 500ml capacity makes it possible. I have a plain old university-branded thermos mug that I use for this and then of course, I also use reusable water bottles.

2. Shop more secondhand
This one is probably something you occasionally do already but I try to source almost everything secondhand before I commit to buying something new. I love to browse for clothing in charity shops and online on sites like eBay and Depop. Depop is primarily for clothing but eBay is great for almost anything secondhand and if you're looking for home bits, try asking around friends and family first because you never know what people have lurking about their lofts.

3. Switch to bar soaps
We use liquid soap for a lot of things; shampoo, shower gel, shaving. A lot of these unneeded plastic bottles can be avoided by trying to incorporate my bar soap products into your routine. Unfortunately shampoo bars don't seem to work for me but I love using interesting (palm-free) bar soaps instead of shower gel and they're also super handy for travel as they don't contribute to your liquid allowance! Some of my favourite places for bar soaps include CoutiverLiving Naturally, and Odylique.

4. Make your own
Making your own stuff is underrated - and this goes for food as well as beauty. Not only is it fun, but it saves money and packaging. I enjoy making my own salad dressings, and sauces and storing them in up-cycled jars that I have kept to reuse. I also occasionally experiment with making my own powdered cleansers, deodorants and other products. Most recently I've made a deodorising foot powder for shoes and sugar hair removal wax.

What are some of your favourite 'zero waste' swaps?

Hygge for Self-Care

'Hygge' - the Danish concept of cosiness - had a bit of a moment towards the end of 2016. Countless books were published, claiming to unlock the secrets of Scandinavian happiness. I will admit, I was a little sucked in, especially as I was planning a trip to Northern Europe for the summer. Hygge can be implemented in nearly every area of one's life, and today I'm going to be focusing on implementing the ideas of 'hygge' into your self-care and suggesting some easy-to-source products (all available from LoveLula) to step-up your routine.

'Hygge (pronounced 'hue-gah') is a quality of presence and an experience of belonging and togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered.'
The Book of Hygge

Setting the mood
Creating a relaxing, safe, and cosy atmosphere for your self-care is really important. I suggest lighting a candle (as long as your living situation allows it), and something along the lines of this Joik Masala Chai soy wax candle* would be perfect as the warming spices really help to invoke a feeling of comfort in this time of year's harsh weather. A good herbal tea will also help to warm you up and calm you down. Beauty Brews offer a completely organic loose tea named appropriately 'Hygge'* made from beautiful ingredients such as orange, cinnamon, and apple. Finally, if a lovely smelling candle isn't enough for you, try an aromatherapy roll-on to calm the senses. I love the Ground roll-on from Yogandha*. Frankincense and sandalwood are great for crafting a 'hyggelig' atmosphere and this roll-on also doubles as a beautiful light perfume.

The beauty picks
To me, 'hyggelig' beauty products need to be natural, soothing, and multi-purpose. My first choice for this was of course the fantastic Lyonsleaf Beauty Balm*. This totally vegan balm is an amazing cleanser, moisturiser, mask, and more. The formula is oily-skin friendly (no coconut oil) and it's really affordable. I love to put a thick layer of this on before a shower as a mask but it's also great for removing makeup and/or giving your heels and elbows a little TLC. Check out my full review for more information. If you want a moisturising mask but your skin is definitively on the drier side, check out the Madara SOS Hydra-Moisture and Radiance Mask*. I find this to be a little rich for my combo skin but it would be a great option for those with drier skins who want something you can just slap on and leave overnight. You could also use the Lyonsleaf on your lips but for something more specialised, try BEING Lip Service*. Another completely vegan product, this lip balm has a really interesting mint & basil scent and its waxy texture is great for moisturising without being too greasy. BEING is a new company to me but their simple aesthetic and small-batch nature is really appealing.

Do you 'hygger'? What elements, for you, make up an effective self-care routine?

 

The Mini Vegan Christmas Gift Guide

Admittedly I have been a bit pants when it comes to gift-guiding this year. Unlike the troves of beauty bloggers who are actually prepared for Christmas content, I am drowning in uni work and have barely any time to eat let alone buy fancy Christmas decoration for my pictures (in case you were wondering, that handsome reindeer sits upon our windowsill all year long). Therefore, I've submitted to doing but a 'mini' gift guide, including some cute present ideas pertaining to natural and vegan beauty. Enjoy!

Bath Treats
Of course, everyone loves a good bathe and there is something distinctly 'winter' about sinking into a nice hot bath with a candle burning. Talking of candles,  Harper's Bizarre Candles recently released their Christmas selection and my pick, Let it Snow, is absolutely to die for. This peppermint and vanilla scent is pretty universal and non-offensive and so is likely to be enjoyed by everyone. Harper's Bizarre candles are adorable and the cute tins mean that you could probably just get away with popping them in a gift bag.

More bath options include the fabulous Living Naturally Bathtub Teas that I reviewed here. I absolutely adore the Coconut Milk & Chai* variation but they also offer Coconut & Rose, Calendula & Comfrey, and Hibiscus & Lavender. These can be a wee bit messy but they're one of the only bath products that don't irritate my eczema and they create the most relaxing bath. And come on, who doesn't want to smell like a chai latte? For more traditional bath options, I really love the Deep Steep range and the Brown Sugar & Vanilla Bubble Bath is a lovely Christmas sweet treat. I've linked it from iHerb but you can often find Deep Steep products in TK Maxx. 

Traditional Gift Sets
Green People create some really beautiful gift sets and it's hard to say no to their wonderful butterfly gift sets. Their Joyful Body Wash & Body Lotion set* has a super clean and fresh scent that any family or friend would love. It's a little more expensive but the gorgeous presentation makes up for it. Green People are a brand that I trust in terms of effectiveness and ingredients and so I'll be happy to pass this on this Christmas. Secondly, we have the Mallow & White Soothe range which is great for all skin types and would make a great introductory gift for someone only just getting into green skincare. Unfortunately I don't have the actual gift set to show you and I haven't tried the face oil, but I have tried the other two products from the Soothe range (the Cleansing Oil* and Face Mask*) and love them both. The Facial Kit includes a full size facial oil and a full size mask.

Stocking Fillers
And to end, just a couple cute stocking ideas that are a little different. Firstly, this wonderfully presented Women's Fragrance Sampler from Ravenscourt Apothecary. This little set contains samples of all of Ravenscourt's literary inspired women's botanical perfumes including Alice, Anne of Avonlea, Elizabeth Bennett, and Jane Eyre. All of these perfume oils are created with natural ingredients and are available in equally as gorgeous full sizes if any tickle your (or your lucky friend's) fancy. Finally, Nailberry nail polishes are the definition of green luxury and they make brilliant stocking fillers. They come in a variety of vegan & 5-free shades, with something for everyone. I have the shade Blueberry*, a dark royal purple but other winter appropriate shades include Berry Job, Number 69, and Pink Sand.

What have you got your eye on this Christmas?