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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!

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?

Review: Schmidt's Natural Deodorant Stick

Great news! The famous Schmidt's Natural Deodorant is now available in a handy stick form. I had originally heard the news over on their Instagram and so, when I found out they were being stocked at A Beautiful World, I was ecstatic.

Schmidt's is most definitely the best natural deodorant I have ever tried but I always had one niggling issue with it. The packaging. Frankly, I just wasn't a fan of the whole rub-in-to-your-armpits situation. Therefore, the new stick form is right up my alley. I was quick to purchase the Bergamot & Lime scent which is my favourite out of the lot. It really lingers throughout the day and the new stick formula successfully held up against a stressful day of exams. I also really love the Lavender & Sage for something a little gentler - I'll be purchasing that one next. I would also say that all of Schmidt's scents are universal so they're great for people who don't like the normal floral-type scents or for sneaking some green beauty into your boyf's routine...

The good thing about Schmidt's is that you can try samples of each scent in a little pot (also sold at A Beautiful World), and these are perfect for travelling or for sneaky top-ups throughout the day. The sample pots are small enough to slip into your handbag but big enough to give you a good couple weeks use. 

Schmidt's does contain bicarbonate of soda but I've heard reports that their formula doesn't tend to irritate people with a sensitivity. However, please try a sample to make sure you're not wasting your money! Sensitive to essential oils? Even better news - they also do a fragrance free version.

So, if your switch to natural deods has been hindered by a distaste for unhygienic little pots, definitely give Schmidt's new stick formula a try.

Available in the UK from A Beautiful World or Ecco-Verde

Ingredients for Bergamot & Lime stick: maranata arundinacea (arrowroot powder), cocos nucifera (coconut oil), euphorbia cerifera (candelilla wax), butryspermum parkii (shea butter), sodium bicarbonate, triglyceride (fractionated coconut oil), citrus bergamia (bergamot essential oil), citrus aurantifolia (lime essential oil), tocopherol (vitamin E), camellia sinensis (green tea extract).