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2016 Year in Review (including the best natural/vegan beauty!)

I understand that this is a little late, but it's finally time for my 2016 year in review post! 2016 was a good year for me personally (despite certain public events). I travelled to the Netherlands and Croatia, got my degree grades on track for my Masters application, and ended the year with a lovely 'stay-cation'; exploring the beautiful town of Stratford-Upon-Avon. Blogging also went well this year. I feel like I managed to avoid any long breaks, I contributed something to the Peridot, and was asked to join a major blogging programme. So, without further ado, let's get on to the five most popular KV blog posts of 2016: 

1. Review: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant Stick
2. H&M Conscious Beauty... To Buy, or Not To Buy?
3. Review: Kypris Beauty Clearing Serum
4. Review: PHB Ethical Beauty Botanical BB Cream and Pure Skin Foundation
5. First Impressions: Pacifica Makeup

And of course, now on to the part we've all been waiting for, my top green/natural/vegan beauty picks of 2016!

Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2%
Despite being the only non-natural product on my list, the Bravura salicylic acid peel has probably made the biggest impression on my 2016 skincare routine. I have been struggling with closed comedones on my cheeks and jawline for the last two years and this product seems to be one of the only things that keeps them at bay. Natural sources of salicylic acid (like willow tree bark) were, in the beginning, no where near strong enough for my acneic skin. So, this gem has really made a difference and I am finding myself relying on it less and less - definitely making it one of my top skincare products of 2016.

Skin & Tonic Coco Mask*
I was lucky enough to receive this as a Christmas gift from Skin & Tonic in 2015 and I have been loving it ever since. It's a wonderful gentle - but potent - mask with a coconut milk powder base that makes it perfect for a little face mask alchemy. I love mixing this with a brightening face oil and rosewater.

Green People Beauty Boost Skin Restore*
I waxed lyrical about this product in a full review so I won't harp on too much but this is pretty much the only water-based moisturisier I can use on my face. I find most to be too heavy, but this is perfectly nourishing while still feeling light. I definitely prefer to use face oils but I occasionally follow with this when my skin is really dehydrated. It's also great under makeup as it dries to a relatively matte finish.

Brija Cosmetics Gilmore Girls Matte Eyeshadows
To be honest, the entire Brija Cosmetics makeup line blew me away in 2016 but my favourite products have to be the matte eyeshadows, inspired by Gilmore Girls. Brianna has the greatest range of colours and every shade blends beautifully. If you're struggling with finding good natural matte eyeshadows, then I urge you to try Brija. Trust me, the loose formulation and ordering from the US is worth it. I'll be doing some swatches soon!

Mallow & White Soothe Cleansing Oil* (& Vedani Botanicals No. 21 Cleanser!)
I was gifted this cleansing oil at Gorgeously Green Gathering this year and I really do love it. I generally prefer lighter cleansing oils (like my beloved Vedani Botanicals) and this option fits the bill perfectly. I find it works quite similarly to the Vedani and so I didn't feel the need to include both on this list (and I don't have a bottle of the Vedani at the moment) but definitely check them both out. I've already done a full review of the Vedani and have a review for Mallow & White coming very soon in 2017.

Pai Kukui & Jojoba Bead Skin Brightening Exfoliator*
This is 100% not a new product for me, but it's one that I have got some serious use out of in 2016. With my heightening use of acid products this year, my skin has occasionally looked a bit flaky. This is quickly remedied by Pai's wonderful exfoliator, a brilliant hybrid of physical and enzymatic exfoliants. I love using this in the shower (it can be a bit messy otherwise), and I'm not looking forward to it running out - which will probably be very soon.

Zuzu Luxe Liquid Eyeliner in Raven
I finally found the perfect vegan liquid eyeliner in 2016 in the form of Zuzu Luxe's Liquid Eyeliner in Raven. It's super popular in the US green beauty community and recently became available in the UK from Amazon. I was quick to try it and very quickly impressed. It's super easy for me to apply as the applicator is very similar to one I used in my teens, and it doesn't smudge too bad on me either. I'm currently loving a liquid eyeliner from Colorisi but this is the baby that saw me through 90% of the year.

Schmidt's Natural Deodorant Stick
This needs no introduction as my review actually made my most popular blog post of 2016. I've only ever tried two scents in this deodorant (the bergamot and lime being my favourite) so I can't speak for the whole line, but Schmidt's seems to be the only natural deodorant that has so far worked for me. They recently brought out a baking soda free version that I am super excited about (as I do get a little irritation these days) and I'm excited to try that one next.

What are your top five products for 2016? I would love to know!

Pastel Fairy Dream: Brija Comsetics Eye Look

Just a quick blog post to show you this pastel-vomit cute eye look I did recently with all Brija Cosmetics. I was desperate to use some new shadows that I received including the three year anniversary gift with purchase, aptly named Three Years. I also used some of the all matte Gilmore Girls collection.

Without further ado...

I used Punctuality all over the lid to aid blending. I then used Hit By a Deer and Vicious Trollop in the crease with a tiny bit of It All Comes Out In Moron to deepen it up. I applied the absolutely gorgeous Three Years (a lilac with gold reflects) all over the lid and blended it out. I applied Three Years over the Brija Adhesive Eye Wax to really bring out the colour. Finally, I added a tiny bit of the Brija You Know Who Highlight to my inner corner. 

So yeah, definitely something a little different for me but I'm really digging it! Have you tried any eyeshadows from Brija Cosmetics?

The Summer Makeup Refresh

So June is finally upon us and that means that the summer has finally reared its sweaty head. Where has the last six months gone? Who knows. All I know is that it's time to ditch the bold lips (yeah... not really) and whack out the SPF. Since going green with my skincare and incorporating facial oils into my routine, the oiliness of my skin has drastically decreased and I am well and truly embracing the glow. Here's some of the makeup things I'll be using this summer - we're talking warm tones and highlighter. Lots of highlighter.

A super recent purchase is the 100% Pure Tinted Moisturiser in Alpine Rose and so far so good. Alpine Rose is one of the newer shades, pegged as for the fairest of skins. However, the shade is actually very similar to their Creme incarnation but with a definite pink undertone. Luckily, due to the sheerness of the product, my yellow-leaning neutral skin can pull this off but I'll definitely be looking to Creme if I decide to repurchase. I find it moisturising without being too greasy and the SPF 20 (although not certified) is handy too. On particularly warm days I've been pairing this with my old faithful RMS Beauty Un-PowderI don't use this too much in the winter as I tend to stick to powder foundation, but in the summer it's great for keeping the oil at bay. It's expensive, but this has lasted me nearly two years and the pure silica formula leaves your skin super smooth and the perfect level of matte. 

For the cheeks, I've been loving (as always) my favourite Antonym Baked Blush in Peach. I got this in a past #greenbeautyswap and it's possibly my most used blush of all time. The dome shape has significantly flattened and I'm constantly eyeing up the other shades. Unfortunately, these blushes are expensive - especially with customs charges involved - so I'm staying faithful to Peach for now. It's the perfect all-rounder warm shade that goes with everything while imparting a gorgeous glow that steers clear of the glitterball effect. I then amp up that up with the Brija Cosmetics You Know Who Face Highlight, something that will be purchased in the full size very shortly. 

Also from Brija, I've been loving one of the gift-with-purchase shadows, Good Vibes Only (not available - link to similar). In addition to the perfect blog-appropriate name, this shadow is all kinds of unique. It's a beautiful peachy baby pink with stunning blue reflex. It's absolutely gorgeous on the lid and great for adding a little pizazz when it's too hot to wear excessive eye makeup. But when I do want a smokey eye, I'm reaching for my Hynt Beauty SUITE Eye Shadow Palette in Sweet Canyon. This is a great trio with some great colours. You can hear more about it in my full review. Finally, I'm still LOVING the Pacifica Devocean Lipstick in Natural Mystic. This is a great option if you're into those Kylie Jenner shades (think MAC Soar) and it's super great value for money. I'm definitely going to be picking up more lipsticks from Pacifica.

What will you be wearing this summer?

A Moment with Brija Cosmetics - Vegan Brand Spotlight

Welcome back to the 'official' Katie Vibes small vegan brand spotlight series! Over the next couple weeks I will be talking to a variety of 100% vegan small businesses about their products and why they find it so important to be a vegan brand. Brands will vary from makeup to skincare, and from widely-known to truly indie companies. Enjoy! 

This week, I'm finishing up my first cycle of spotlights with the wonderful Brianna of natural and vegan makeup brand, Brija Cosmetics. You might also know her from her YouTube channel - iluvjesse444.

What brand do you represent and what is your title?
Brija Cosmetics, Owner and Founder.

Tell me a little about your brand - what was the motivation behind starting it?
I myself have been passionate about nontoxic products since I was sixteen years old. After focusing on skincare for a few years, I started purchasing from other mineral makeup companies that were releasing themed collections and they made me super excited. I decided to throw my ideas into the ring but only using very clean, simple ingredients. Our products are completely vegan, cruelty free, gluten free, palm oil free, and - very important to me - dye free. I have incredibly high ingredient standards and I wanted to create a brand that is not only affordable and fun, but safe. 

Why do you find being a vegan brand so important? 
Before starting Brija, I decided being a vegan brand was a no brainer. In my eyes, vegan products perform very similarly to non-vegan and there are vegan ingredients that can be so easily swapped for non-vegan. I welcomed the challenge and I knew I could make my products great without using any animal byproducts. I knew before I made my first product I would make it a vegan brand. Currently no vegan certifications but in the future I would definitely like to get some.

Tell me about some of your best-selling products?
The Adhesive Eye Wax is the front-runner right now for best-selling products. It's a oily wax consistency that most people doubt at first, thinking it would be too oily to keep shadows on. But with the thinest layer, it foils your eyeshadow and they won't move all day. For very oily lids, you can layer the Powder Eyeshadow Primer underneath.

Hoola Hoop Bronzer is our dupe for Benefit's Hula Bronzer. It's perfect for fair skin girls that get nervous about contouring/bronzing. It's not too orange or too dark, I use it every day. 

Where can we find you online?
SITE http://www.brijacosmetics.com/
ETSY: http://www.etsy.com/shop/brijacosmetics
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/brijacosmetics
GROUP/CHAT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/brijacosmeticschat
INSTAGRAM: Instagram.com/brijacosmetics
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/brijacosmetics

Anything else you'd like to mention?
My favorite product from the line are the organic lipsticks. They were reformulated late last year to use organic oils - they are so silky and pigmented. Being a beauty vlogger, I've used a lot of nontoxic lip products, and the Brija lipsticks really are my favorite. I may be biased, but for $8, it is a bargain for a high quality organic lipstick.

Thanks Brianna! 

Although not yet mentioned on the blog, I use and love so many of Brianna's products. My faves are the Stolen Luxury Highlighter, Hoola Hoop Bronzer, and the Cream Eyeshadows!

Brija is always releasing awesome makeup collections, the most recent being the Halloween and Wanderlust collections. Also - shhhh - the next collection is going to be a Titanic inspired dye-free lipstick collection! I'll see you there for that one...

[image credit: Brija Cosmetics]