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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 Β£23 for 5og or Β£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 Β£12.95 for 55ml (that goes a really long way!)

What other great vegan balms have you come across?

This post contains affiliate links.

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!

Review: Skin & Tonic Coco Mask

I was lucky enough to receive the Skin & Tonic Coco Mask* as a Christmas gift from the brand last year. I've always been a big fan of Skin & Tonic and really appreciate their simple and fuss-free approach to ingredients and formulation. I've tried almost all of their vegan-friendly products including this mask, Calm Balm, Brit Beauty Oil, and their Beard Oil (although I must admit that was my boyfriend, not me!) The Calm Balm featured in my favourite products of 2014 and the omega-rich Brit Beauty Oil is turning out to be one of my favourite face oils for when my skin is playing up.

Before now, I've found powder masks to be a little annoying to use but this one is nothing less than a pleasure. My favourite way to use it is with a little warm water and a few drops of the One Love Organics Morning Glory serum (the old formulation). I've been trying to use up this oil for months and I find that it works really well with this simple mask. The concoction leaves me with the most glowy and healthy-looking skin, so it's great for party prep. The coconut milk powder means that it has a gorgeous fresh scent and is suitable for even the most sensitive of skins. Skin & Tonic are a brand truly with sensitive skin in mind and everything is formulated to be super gentle. This mask also contains one of my absolute favourite ingredients, aloe leaf juice powder, that ensures your skin is soothed. Although the mask dries to an extent, it isn't drying and is comfortable and easy to remove.

If you were thinking of trying this mask or anything from Skin & Tonic, now's the time! They're currently having a bank holiday sale where everything on their website is 15% off with the code FLASH. However, you better be quick as this ends midnight bank holiday Monday. Get going!

Coco Mask IngredientsCocos nucifera (coconut) milk powder, Zea mays (corn) starch*, Kaolin clay, Aloe barbedensis (aloe) leaf juice powder*, Lavandula augustifolia (lavender) flower oil*

*Certified organic

My Natural Vegan Skincare Routine

First of all, let's just ignore this horrendous photo. Long story short, I forgot to take a photo while there was ACTUAL sunlight. So... unnatural lighting. We'll have to deal.

Moving on, today I'm sharing with you, my most recent skincare routine! My routine is always changing, but recently I've been settling in to a certain selection of products - which are all natural, vegan and cruelty-free of course!

AM:

Cleanse: Blissoma Mild Rice Facial Cleanser

Tone: Primavera Sage & Grapeseed Toner

Treat: Herbfarmacy Pure Hydration Serum*

Moisturise: Andalou Naturals Untinted BB Cream or Skin & Tonic Calm Balm

PM:

Remove Makeup: DIY Cleansing Oil w/ Jojoba and Lavender

Cleanse: Blissoma Mild Rice Facial Cleanser

Tone: Andalou Naturals Brightening Clementine + C Toner

Treat: Yours Truly Organics Fix Me Serum

Moisturise: Pai Rosehip Oil or Skin & Tonic Calm Balm

Okay, so failed photo-taking aside, these are the products that I have been using and loving lately! I'm choosing not to go in to many details today as I'm looking to do full reviews over the coming weeks. Those products that already have corresponding reviews, have been linked accordingly :-) Hope everyone is having a fantastic week, and join me tomorrow for a very special review... ooooooh!