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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!

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?

 

Gorgeously Green Gathering 2016

Finally, here are some pictures from Gorgeously Green Gathering 2016 that I attended last weekend with my lovely friend Hannah. It was originally planned that Rhys would be coming with me again this year but due to unforeseen circumstances, he could no longer attend. And so, after a wee freakout about how I would afford the hotel on my own, it came to be that Hannah would be attending with me and I'm glad to report that she really enjoyed it! So I had a brilliant time AND managed to convert a friend to green beauty...

The event was organised by the ever amazing Sarah and Jen, sponsored by Totally Organic, and we had the pleasure to hear from some great brands like Mallow & White, Terre Verdi, Evolve Beauty, and Beeutiful. Hearing brands' origin stories is always one of my favourite parts of GGG and they all had such lovely stories to share with us. It was also super exciting to see Amber get up and do a quick talk about Blossom Balm, her collaboration with Joanna of Mallow & White (unfortunately, not vegan!). 

I'm always a big fan of GGG because of its huge social aspect. Not only is it a great opportunity to meet up with some of my fave blogger babes, but you can't really beat a whole day of networking with some seriously inspiring brands. It's so lovely to talk to founders face-to-face, learning about their products, and really hearing first hand about what got them into green beauty. I'm also consistently humbled by how generous the brands are and not only did we all walk away with a smashing goody bag, but we even got to pour our own Terre Verdi cleansing oil (thanks Alessandra!) and get some skincare prescribed by Laura of Evolve Beauty & S5 Skincare. 

Gorgeously Green Gathering is my favourite annual event due to its personality, intimacy, and just how damn informative it is. Nothing has been confirmed for 2017 yet, but I really am hoping that GGG continues for a few more years! For now though, you can enjoy some of the (minimal) photos I managed to take and stay tuned for some reviews!