Subscription Boxes, the ethical way!

Bye bye bags!

MOA Brand Spotlight

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Read all the way through this post for exciting giveaway news at the end!!
I recently stumbled upon a company on Instagram that immediately grabbed my attention: TOTM Organic, a business for lady's business.

Their mission is to provide transparency about period products, create a convenient way to remain well-stocked on tampons and pads, and promote a healthy relationship with menstruation to help eliminate the shame around bleeding.  And to top it all off, they are dedicated to a ethically sourced, no-nasties range!  Winning all around!

After a brief survey of what products I was wanting to purchase and the length of my cycle, I finished setting up my subscription, and four days later, I had my first delivery.

I chose to receive one box each of the Day pads and Night pads, as I have gone off using tampons in the last year or so.  I tend to use pads during the first few days of my bleed, and at night, and as my cycle has been so disrupted by my mini-pill, I can be bleeding for two weeks at a time some months.  I think 18 pads for the month is more than enough for me most times, but we will see if I end up adjusting my subscription deliveries.

The packaging is discreet, though I do not mind that aspect so much, and the amount of plastic and printing ink used is minimal (just the wrapper that protects the sticky side of the pad).  The pads themselves are biodegradable, and TOTM has expressed a desire to work on a completely biodegradable presence in the future.  Again, a huge plus in my book!  I am always looking for fully 'zero waste' products.

I am constantly searching for new approaches to period products, and while this may seem pretty traditional compared to moon cups and period pants, I am honestly excited by the organic aspect of these tampons, pads, and liners.  The cotton used in all of them is not only 100% cotton, but is also organic, and free from synthetic fibres, pesticides, perfumes, chlorine and dioxins.  They absorb just as well as any other high street brand, but offer you a safer alternative to those items that remain non-disclosed in regards to additives.  If you want to read more about the terrifying extras added into many brands, take a gander at this article from TOTM's site: Truth About Tampons.

Now, an added bonus to TOTM's subscription service is actually a newly introduced Perks system.

"Our subscription service got a little makeover this year as we launched our TOTM perks. Alongside our organic period care we wanted to give our subscribers a few extras now and then as a lovely little surprise. This might be a little treat enclosed inside those sugarcane packages that land through your letterbox, or an exclusive promo code landing in emails. We like to mix things up!
 [...] In addition to Urban Veda we’ve worked with some fantastic brands to deliver these perks including Miss Patisserie, Raw gaia, Sweet Revolution, Macacha, my Teatime and People Tree!"

These 'extras' include exclusive promo codes for brands, access to competitions, early access to new TOTM products, loyalty rewards, and samples from ethical brands.  For February, TOTM has paired up with The Natural Deodorant Co., so all subscriptions will get a sample of the brand's deodorant balm.  I for one am excited to test out another natural deodorant, as I have loved the ones I have tried previously from Native Unearthed and The Ohm Collection.  Maybe I will discover another hit!

If you would like to set up your own subscription with TOTM, head on over to their website.  The process is quick and easy, and you can pause or change your deliveries at any time.  And, if you use my referral link, we can both benefit!  Your vagina gets a toxic-free product for the monthly bleed plus occasional bonuses like the February sample from The Natural Deodorant Co., and I will use any money saved through credits to buy the products you want reviewed.


If you do subscribe, let me know what you think in the comments below!  And if you don't, I would love to know your thoughts on subscription services like TOTM.



As announced on Twitter, The ecoLogical has reached the first milestone of 150 Twitter followers, so it is time for our VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!  And in keeping with the past collab between TOTM and Urban Veda mentioned above, the prize for our competition is a lovely bundle of goodies from Urban Veda's "Reviving" range!

The Revive range uses the power of rose and botanics to restore and regenerate the skin.  This prize bundle contains a full size Reviving Body Scrub worth £12.99, and the Reviving Facial Ritual Travel Set that has the Daily Reviving Facial Wash, Reviving Exfoliating Facial Polish, and the Reviving Day Cream, worth £11.99.

You can enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter from now until March 10th! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
There will be one winner.
Any entrants who unsubscribe within 28 days of the giveaway will be excluded from future giveaways.
The prize is the item pictured in the blog post (four Urban Veda items).
There is no cash alternative.
There is no limit on the number of entries per person, follow the instructions to enable multiple entries.
Winner will be notified within 28 days.
The winner must claim their prize within 7 days or it will be forfeited.
All entries must be received by the date and time specified.
The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter & notified by email.
Giveaways are open to the UK only.
The winner's name is available upon request.
All entries will be checked - any entry that is found to have not fulfilled the entry requirements will be removed.

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

The grey skies of February have brightened momentarily and brought the newest edition from Love Lula Beauty Box!  With three full size products and a deluxe sample, this month's collection is worth a massive £65!  For value for money, Love Lula truly delivers a high quality box of goodies.

There are a lot of familiar faces in the February box, including Ooh! Oils of Heaven, Urban Veda, and Madara.  Plus Pure & Light Organic Skincare, not so much the new kid on the block, but definitely a brand we haven't seen for a while.  I have tried all of these brands before, and for the most part have loved the results from their products, so all in all I am pretty happy with this box.

The avocado oil from Ooh! Oils of Heaven has to be my top choice from this collection, and as it is the brand's newest oil I am properly excited to test it out.  Though currently out of stock, the oil is £19.00, and is cold-pressed, which from my previous posts you know is one of the first things I look for in an oil.  This should be great for my partner's dry, mature skin, but I am not sure how it will react with my combination skin that is prone to hormonal breakouts and congestion along the t-zone.  Since the oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, it may not be a good fit for my whole face, but it will definitely help the flaky spots I have on my forehead and cheeks!

Ingredients: 100% Persea Gratissima Oil

Next up in the box is the Urban Veda Radiance Hydrating Toner.  This product usually retails for £12.99, but is currently on sale for 20% off.  The toner is meant to be pH balanced and ideal for revitalizing "lack-lustre skin" due to the tumeric and added botanicals.  I have used on of UrbanVeda's toners before, but I found it a little drying on my skin due to the alcohol content.  I may give the brand another go, or I might just save this one for my upcoming giveaway.

UPDATE: The toner itself smells lovely, and I have decided to give it a second chance as it does not contain my nemesis phenoxyethonal, and while there are some ingredients I am not keen on, I have run out of my previous product and this seems to be doing a decent job so far.

Ingredients: Aqua, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, PPG-1-PEG-9 Lauryl Glycol Ether, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Terminalia Arjuna Bark Extract, Carica Papaya (Papaya) Fruit Extract, Lycium Chinense (Goji berry) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Pogostemom Cablin (Patchouli) Oil, Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Seed Oil, Cedrus Atlantica Bark (Cedar) Oil, Tagetes Minuta Flower (Marigold) Oil, Parfum, Benzyl Alcohol, Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, Sodium Phytate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Citronellol, Geraniol, Hexyl Cinnamal, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Limonene, Linalool, Hydroxyisohexyl 3-cyclohexene Carboxaldehyde, Alpha-isomethyl Ionone

I am not surprised to see Madara in the box again this month, but I always hold out hope for a lesser known brand.  I do love Madara, and every single product I have used from the brand has been brilliant, but I do find their skincare is more ideal for dry or mature skin rather than my 25-year-old face.  However, my partner loves when I get products that aren't suited for me, as he then gets free pampering!

I do have high hopes for this full size Exfoliating Oil-To-Milk Scrub, as it states on the back that it is ideal for all skin types.  Reading the ingredients list I do not see anything that is overly heavy, so I am looking forward to giving it a try.  It smells lovely, and the grain of the wax microbeads is quite fine so it should not be an aggressive exfoliation.  I would be wary of using this with additional exfoliation methods, so I will just be splashing the milky formula off my face when I have finished rather than using a muslin.  The product is worth £24, so definitely a well-priced product for 60ml.

UPDATE:  While I still haven't been able to use this on my face due to an incident with an enzyme peel, I have used this on my hands and found it really fantastic.  The texture is perfect, and it doesn't leave any slick residue like I was expecting from a 'milky' consistency, plus my skin was so smooth and soft afterwards.  I can't wait until my forehead heals so I can finally try this out as it was intended!

Ingredients: Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin***, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Aqua, Sucrose Laurate Esters, Sucrose Palmitate, Ethano, Copernicia Cerifera (Carnauba) Wax, Aroma, Tocopherol (VitaminE), Talc, Cera Alba (Beeswax), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oïl*, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Oil*, CI77019 (Mica)****, CI77499. CI77491,CI77492 (Iron Oxides)****, CI77891 (Titanium Dioxide)****, Linalool**, Limonene** * Ingredients from organic farming ** Natural Essential Oils *** Made using organic ingredients **** Pure mineral pigments

Last, but not least, is the deluxe sample of Pure & Light Organic Skincare's Essential Face Cream.  The full size of this item is £34.00 for 50ml of product, making this 15ml tube worth just over £10.  I have used a few things from this brand before, and found them great value for how much you get and for how well they work.  This cream smells pretty standard - basically a "face cream" smell rather than a strong essential oil which might be great for sensitive skin.   While the list of ingredients is quite long, almost all of them are natural and give this face cream great potential.  I am worried about it containing phenoxyethonal, especially in a cream at this price point, as I have found my skin has reacted very badly to this in the past.  I will do a test past before fully using, and will see how it goes.

Ingredients: Spring water (Aqua), Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)*, Glyceryl Monostearate, Vegetable Gyceryne*, Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalus)*, Apricot-Kernel (Prunus armeniaca)*, Cetyl Alcohol, Olive (Olea europea)*, Shea Butter (Butyrospernum Parkii)*, Cocoa butter (Cocos nucifera)*, Vitamin E*, Phenoxyethanol-ethylhexyglycerin, Distillates of Orange Blossom (Citrus Aurantium Fleur)*, Rose Damask (Rosa Damascena)*, Geranium (Pelargonium Asperum)*, Ylang-Ylang (Canaga Odara Extra)*, Palmorosa (Cymbopogon Martinii)*. Frankincense (Bosweilia Carterii)*, Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis)*, Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum)*, Evening primrose (Oenothora biennis)*, Avocado (Persea gratissima)*, Macadamia (Macadamia tetraphylla)*, Argan (Argania Spinosa)*, Borage (Borago officinalis)*, GrapeSeed (Vitis Vini)*, Carrot Seed (Daucus Carota) Extract, Tamanu (Calophyllum inophyllum)*, Rosehip (Rosa Rubiginosa)*, Orange Blossom (Citrus Aurantium Fleur)*, Rose Damask (Rosa damascena)* *certified organic ingredient

Overall the value of this box is impressive, and I am thrilled to finally be able to try Ooh!'s new avocado oil -- I spotted it in my network directory and have been wanting to test it ever since!  While I am not keen on some of the ingredients in two of the products, the items are great value and the focus on facial care is very well done.  Plus, I know there are many members that are excited to see more high street brand showing up in the beauty box, so the Urban Veda is a great addition for those looking for accessible products.  I am reserving judgement on both the Madara and the Pure & Light Organic Skincare items, and will be adding an update next week, so keep an eye out for that!

What is your favourite product from this month?  Is there anything you are hoping to see more of (or possibly less of) in the upcoming boxes?  Let me know in the comments below!  And if you would like to sign up yourself, you can get a rolling subscription for just £13.95!

Plus, please remember to follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and hit that subscribe button to keep up to date with The ecoLogical xx



As announced on Twitter, The ecoLogical has reached the first milestone of 150 Twitter followers, so it is time for our VERY FIRST GIVEAWAY!  And in keeping with the toner included in the February Love Lula box, the prize for our competition is a lovely bundle of goodies from Urban Veda's "Reviving" range!

The Revive range uses the power of rose and botanics to restore and regenerate the skin.  This prize bundle contains a full size Reviving Body Scrub worth £12.99, and the Reviving Facial Ritual Travel Set that has the Daily Reviving Facial Wash, Reviving Exfoliating Facial Polish, and the Reviving Day Cream, worth £11.99.

You can enter the giveaway via Rafflecopter from now until March 10th! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
There will be one winner.
Any entrants who unsubscribe within 28 days of the giveaway will be excluded from future giveaways.
The prize is the item pictured in the blog post (four Urban Veda items).
There is no cash alternative.
There is no limit on the number of entries per person, follow the instructions to enable multiple entries.
Winner will be notified within 28 days.
The winner must claim their prize within 7 days or it will be forfeited.
All entries must be received by the date and time specified.
The winner will be picked at random by Rafflecopter & notified by email.
Giveaways are open to the UK only.
The winner's name is available upon request.
All entries will be checked - any entry that is found to have not fulfilled the entry requirements will be removed.

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

Monday, 12 February 2018

I love ethical subscription boxes.  I love receiving treats through the post and having a pick me up that boosts my mood and is economical.  I love thoughtful businesses that take on feedback and are as environmentally friendly as possible.  And this is why I love The Cruelty Free Beauty Box.

Launched in May of 2017, The Cruelty Free Beauty Box promises a subscription that does not skimp on ethics.  Every featured brand and every product included in their boxes fulfills the following five criteria:

1. They DO NOT test on animals at any point during production of their products.

2. They DO NOT allow third parties to test their products on animals.

3. The ingredients they use from suppliers are NOT tested on animals.

4. They DO NOT allow countries to test on animals when required by law (For Example, Cosmetics sold in China are required by Law to be tested on animals)

5. They are NOT owned by a company who isn't Cruelty Free

Not only do they do the work for you, they aim to make the switch to cruelty free and vegan products as simple and fun as possible.  And all the while you can receive a box full of lovely treats every month.

There are three main options with The Cruelty Free Beauty Box: the monthly Beauty Box, the monthly Makeup Box, and the well-stocked shop.  Not only does The Cruelty Free Beauty Box offer a rolling subscription that can be cancelled or skipped at any time (though to be honest I am not sure why you would want those options!), but you can buy the products featured in their boxes at any point directly from their online store.  This is especially great if you do end up pausing for a month and then realize you're desperate for some of the items, or if you end up falling head over heels for a specific product.

I have placed so many orders with the shop (I can't help it!!), and I love the option to combine shipments with your next Beauty or Makeup Box.  For someone looking to create as little waste as possible and to shrink their impact on the environment, this is ideal.  My latest bundle of goodies arrived today with my February edition, and as always, I was well impressed by the care that went into packaging, the little extra treats that came inside my parcel, and the personalized discount code for my next shop order.

I ended up buying a full box of Spacemasks, a product that was featured in December's box, as well as a pot of Fairypants' lip paint, Tisserand's De-Stress room mist, and a Benecos eyeshadow sponge.  The sale The Cruelty Free Beauty Box shop was offering a few weeks ago was too good to pass up, so I ended up choosing more than my usual one or two items, but I am so happy with this little bundle!  The spray smells better than I imagined, and while the lip paint is not as pigmented as I expected it is incredibly hydrating.  Plus, I did not have to worry about delivery fees or an added carbon footprint!

Along with my shop purchase, I got the February Box which is jam packed this month.  Overall, the box has a total value of over £42 and boasts four full size products and a deluxe sample.  

Inside, there is a face balm from Okko Skincare made from Clary Sage and Rose Geranium.  The balm is suitable for all skin types, and the instructions state only a tiny amount is needed, meaning this sample size (4.5g for £4) should last a fair amount of time.  The February edition contains two full size products from Evolve Beauty, the "Cotton Fresh" Deodorant Cream worth £10 and the Hair Elixir, a product I have sampled before and loved, worth £16.  There is also a soap that smells so mouth-wateringly good I have already popped it in the upstairs shower to use (it seems too good to wait!).  The Friendly Charcoal Detox Bar is worth £2.62, making it one of the best value for money items I have seen in a long time.  The final full size product is the Witch Lash Mascara from Medusa's Makeup, a cruelty free brand that many are excited to see debut in the Beauty Box (it has appeared in the Makeup Box before!).  The mascara has a volumising and lengthening formula, and is worth £9.95.

I am particularly excited to try out the Friendly Detox bar and the Evolve Deodorant Cream, as these are items I have been eyeing up recently to purchase myself.  I love trying out new natural deodorants, and I am really looking forward to seeing how this compares to some of the other balm/cream based ones I have used in the past.  And the Friendly soap smells divine -- I could smell it through the cardboard before I even opened the box!

I love the variety in February's collection, as it really covers the key areas of beauty and has provided items that a lot of people will consider staples in their routines.  I find this time of year really difficult, as the lack of sun starts to wear on me, and I tend to start getting lethargic and not wanting to go out as often.  For a month that I struggle with, this could not have been a better box.

One aspect I appreciate is that The Cruelty Free Beauty Box does not just feature the big brands that circulate some of the more mainstream boxes, but shares smaller up and coming companies and less advertised businesses as well.  My very first box introduced me to Fairypants, a vegan brand that offers natural skincare and makeup products in a huge variety of scents and shades.  And this month, I have discovered another name that is new to me: Okko Skincare, a Britain-based balm brand that blends essential oils into a variety of products in handy on-the-go tubes.  My boxes have been so varied and so well thought out, and I love that I can look forward to new and familiar faces with each new collection.

I have been a supporter since the very beginning, and you can view the majority of the past boxes I have received in my Year of Ethical Subscription Boxes post.  One thing I can say as someone who has been regularly getting these boxes since May of last year is that the focus on the natural aspect of beauty has been growing more and more, and this is a change I greatly appreciate.  Over the last nine months there have only been two or three products that I chose not to use, which for a box that delivers five to six items per month is extraordinary!

This shift can also be seen in the Makeup Box, which, like the Beauty Box, delivers five to six products per month.  This option caters to those who are looking for a more focused subscription (or one without skincare) and includes makeup and makeup tools.

Cruelty free brands that have found their way into the monthly boxes include both boutique and high street finds such as Barry M, Medusa's Makeup, Fairypants, Saturated Colour, Benecos, Manna Kadar, Honeypie, Nanshy, Bellapierre, and one of my personal favourites, PHB.  There is seriously something in these boxes for everyone, no matter if you are just beginning playing with cruelty free makeup or if you are a seasoned pro at winged eyeliner and blending foundation.

The Makeup Box has included so many hits in the past, including one of my all time favourite finds -- RawGanic facial wipes.  These makeup wipes are all natural (and include no phenoxyethonal!) and are so effective.  I have bought at least five or six packs of these since first discovering them in a summer box last year, and will continue to do so as they are super convenient, smell wonderful, and leave my skin feeling refreshed and slightly hydrated.

A new love of mine is the Honeypie Minerals matte blush, which is made from 100% natural minerals and contains no added nasties.  The powder is super light, which is great for my skin which is easily congested, and did not leave me looking overly flushed.  Having red hair and being very pale, it is easy for me to come off looking overly pink, but this blusher is subtle enough to wear without worrying about me looking like a clown.  And an added bonus is that it contains natural UV protection -- win!

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Makeup Box has helped me branch out in terms of the types of products I use as well as the brands I own.  Before subscribing, I had hardly any face products -- I had maybe one powder and a few highlighters.  I never thought that a blusher would work for my skin tone, or that I could use a concealer stick without breaking out.  Discovering new areas of beauty that I had not explored myself before has been one of the best part of subscribing to TCFBB Makeup Box for me.

If you are interested in subscribing to The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, you can now pre-order a one off of the March edition here, or sign up for a rolling subscription for 
£14.95 (Beauty Box) or £19.95 (Makeup Box) per month.

I will be posting highlights of the products shown in this post throughout the week over on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow to learn more about these fantastic treats, and remember to hit the subscribe button to always keep up to date with The ecoLogical!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Oil Games was meant to be a contest of champions -- twelve face oils duking it out for the grand title of Best Oil.  I have to admit the showdown didn't end up having the effect I anticipated, and my hoarding has officially reached next level.  Remember my collection of oils I shared with you the other day?  It has grown to nearly double the original amount from my initial showdown!  And my love of facial oils must be spreading like wildfire, as I had three bottles from Natural Spa Factory's range arrive at my door last week!

Natural Spa Factory is a brand from Bath that focuses on creating luxurious botanical-based products free from parabens, SLS, MCI and methylisothiazolinone.  NSF carries a wide range of items, from scrubs and shampoos to massage candles and body wraps, but my favourite (as you might have guessed!) has to be their 100 Percent Oils collection.  There are five oils to choose from - rosehip, jojoba, passion seed flower, apricot, and baobab - and all of them are cold-pressed, organic, and packed full of beneficial nutrients.  Right up my alley!

I have been trying out Natural Spa Factory's Rosehip Oil, Apricot Oil, and Passion Seed Flower Oil, and I have been thrilled with the results so far.  Each of these oils works great for my skin type (combination, with hormonal blemishes and occasional dry patches), and is great value for the quality and the size of the bottle.  Plus, two of these oils are kinds I have not seen around many places, so I was excited to expand my knowledge of carrier oils even further.

I have talked loads in the past about the benefits of rosehip oil, as I find it truly is my miracle oil.  Not only is it packed with fatty acids, but it contains b-carotene and vitamins e, c, d, and f, all of which are great for balancing the skin and keeping the cells working effectively.  Natural Spa Factory's is a lovely amber/ruby colour, and is so smooth -- it's seriously the definition of skin food.  And their Apricot Oil and Passion Seed Flower Oil are no different!  The apricot kernel oil is ideal for dry or sensitive skin, and is high in linoleic acid which helps maintain ideal moisture levels.  It is also high in oleic acid which is great for soothing irritated skin and packing an intense hydration punch.  NSF's Passion Seed Flower Oil is less intense than the apricot oil, and is geared towards youthful skin that does not need a heavy product.  This might be my favourite find in ages, as I find many skincare products are aimed at more mature skin and tend to clog my pores, so having a "Youth Blast" is refreshing!       

Now, most people don't have a collection of 20+ facial oils, so using the oil as intended is probably what the majority opt for.  But I have started worrying about how in the world I am going to use over 500ml of oil before it expires, so I decided to get a bit crafty.   With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I figured what better way to start my experiments than with some natural and organic beauty hacks for kissable lips, dewy skin, and a pre-champagne purifying mask! 

It took a few tries to get the ratios and textures right for my DIY beauty products, but it was so fun playing around with Natural Spa Factory's oils and my stock of natural skincare bases.  I have been getting more and more into aromatherapy, so I loved being able to try my hand at creating products!  All of these recipes can be changed so they cater to your own skin type, and you can substitute different scents to suit your needs -- is there anything better than having the perfect product suited exactly to your wishes??

1: All Natural Lip Scrub

What you need: pure coconut oil, brown sugar, carrier oil (I chose NSF rosehip), essential oil (I chose peppermint)
Optional: chocolate flakes, additional carrier oil for extra hydration

This four ingredient lip scrub took me less than five minutes to make, and worked just as well (if not better) than the store bought ones I have tried in the past.  Plus, if you have the ingredients on hand already, it does not cost a thing!  Fresh lips for free?  This couldn't sound better!

Basically all you need to do is blend 2 teaspoons of solid coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar, three to four drops of rosehip oil, and one to two drops of peppermint oil.  Be sure to thoroughly blend all the ingredients, as the essential oil needs to be worked into the carrier oils so it doesn't cause any sensitivity to your skin. 

For extra hydration, try adding in a second oil -- the passion seed flower oil would be great for this as the scent is not too overpowering.  And, if you want a hint of chocolate to make your lips extra tempting, mix in half a teaspoon of chocolate flakes!  This makes for a fantastic chocolate chip lip scrub that is too tempting not to try.

2. Naturally Purifying, Ultra Hydrating Face Mask

What you need: clay (I opted for kaolin), carrier oil (I chose a 50/50 blend of NSF apricot and passion-seed as these are ideal for hydrating youthful skin), essential oil (I chose frankincense and lemongrass as these are ideal for brightening and tightening!)

Before starting to mix in additional ingredients, you want to get the clay wet and near the right consistency for application. You can use water or hydrosol for this -- I do a mix of both as I find this adds an extra boost to the mask.  Depending on how thin you want the clay (the thicker it is the longer it takes to dry!), you will add between three and four tablespoons of water to one heaped tablespoon of clay.  I did find I ended up with a fair amount extra when I used these ratios, but I used the extra on my partner for some added fun -- seeing his face covered in mud was a right treat!

As I usually find clay masks drying, I added five drops overall of the apricot and passion-seed flower oil (so 2-3 drops of each) to my DIY.  This made my face feel so much less tight, and I could feel the added benefit of the hydration boost from start to finish.  And for the essential oils, I only used a single drop of each -- remember that essential oils are super concentrated and less is more when it comes to skincare!

Be sure to mix thoroughly before applying, and let the mask sit for about fifteen minutes before washing off.  This gives enough time for the clay to absorb all the nasties from your face and the oils to sink in and provide the healthy benefits you are looking for!

3. Get the Glow Natural Highlighting Drops

What you need: carrier oil (I opted for the NSF Passion Seed Flower as it's ideal for my skin type right now), your favourite natural shimmer eyeshadow or mica

We have all seen those 'natural glow' products that help give the appearance of healthy, radiant skin, but have you checked what is in most of them?  While I have to admit I am pretty pasty and could do with some extra colour, I would rather be stuck as Snow White than pile chemicals on my face.

This beauty hack brings the best of both worlds though -- you can get the glow that gives you a dewy, fresh faced highlight AND stay toxin free.  All you need to do is take a shimmer eyeshadow and add a tiny amount (and I mean TINY) to the tip of your finger.  Loose powder is easiest, but you can use the fallout from pressed shadow as well.  Then, simply take a single drop of your face oil and thoroughly mix with the shadow.  And voila -- instant highlighting drops!  I love using this when I don't want a strong highlight but still want a subtle shine, plus find it so fun experimenting with the shades!  

I love that I have found new uses for my oils, and won't stop the DIYs here -- I will be playing with some hair mask recipes and even some body butters in the next few months, as I love the freedom making my own products gives me.

Let me know if you try these Valentine's hacks, or if you have any of your own to add.  I am always looking for new ideas to try, and anything that helps keep us healthy and hydrated is worth sharing!

And if you would like to try Natural Spa Factory's 100 Percent Pure face oils, head on over to their website -- they have an option for every skin type, so it's well worth checking out!  Plus, you can score 5% off your first order by signing up for their newsletter.  Good skin and great bargains?  Count me in!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

So you all know by now about my tendency to hoard face oils, but did you know I used to actually be afraid of using oil-based products and avoided them like the plague?  I thought that because I had combination skin that was prone to spotting (mainly hormonal blemishes, but still!), I couldn't try anything that was slick or would increase the grease.  Well, when I finally found out that was totally wrong I was shocked!  All those years of potentially clear, healthy skin were lost.

I have heard a lot of similar stories recently, so I thought it was time to answer some Frequently Asked Questions about these magical skin potions, and maybe even help some of you choose the best oil for your skin type.  Ready??

1. Why on earth would I use oils on my already oily skin?

You ever hear that sciencey phrase, like dissolves like?  It really does apply here!  The oil produced by your face (sebum) can be cleansed and dissolved by an oil product, and not only that, the oil you use can actually help regulate the oils you are naturally producing.  It essentially tricks your body into thinking it does not need to produce any more oil!

2. But I don't have oily skin.  What other benefits are there?

What benefits aren't there?? Depending on the oil used, the product can reduce wrinkles and the appearance of fine lines, moisturize, reduce clogged pores, balance acne, brighten skin, even complexion, calm and sooth irritation, fortify and strengthen the skin's barrier, protect against pollutants, and more.

3. I'm sold, but how do I know the oil I am buying is a high quality product?

There are three main factors to consider when choosing an oil:

- Ingredients
Check the ingredients before going any further with your purchase!  There are three kinds of oil you might encounter -- 100% pure, blended, and diluted/over-processed.  Pure oils are single ingredient products, and the label should reflect that fact.  Blended oils are a mix of several types of carrier oils (and sometimes essential oils) that are combined to target a variety of skin concerns.  Both pure and blended oils are great, and can be used in a variety of ways.

The one you want to avoid is diluted and over-processed products, as these oils tend to be low quality and mixed with loads of filler ingredients and potentially toxic additives.  These low quality oils are usually able to be recognized by their long list of ingredients (usually containing several unpronounceable words) very strong smell or a lack of any scent, a watery texture, and low price.

- Production Method
There are two types of oil -- refined, or unrefined.
Refined oils have been created using chemicals and/or heat treatments which then remove any unwanted elements such as natural toxins (like ricin in Castor Oil) and unpleasant smells.  While there are benefits to refined oils (they have a longer shelf life and have little to no scent making them great for blending with essential oils), these products no longer contain the high level of nutrients found in their unrefined counterparts and are often artificially bleached and deodorized.

Unrefined oils, on the other hand, are mechanically extracted, which leaves the final product mineral-rich and highly effective.  The process can be either through squeezing the oil from the source without any temperature regulation (expeller pressed) or by keeping the heat to a minimum (cold pressed) to retain as much of the natural fragrance and colour as possible.

When hunting for your ideal beauty oil, look for unrefined, cold-pressed products, as these will be the most untampered with and should yield the most effective results.

- Container

You should also take note of the type of container your item comes in, as oil in translucent bottles can be degraded by sunlight and cheap plastics can cause nasty chemicals like BPA to leech into your product.  Try to opt for dark glass containers when possible, and when buying online, check with the company beforehand so you avoid any potential disappointments.

4. Okay, but what type of oil should I be looking at for my skin type?

If you have a single skin need, it is quite simple!:

Dry - Look out for oils packed with fatty acids and Vitamin E like macademia, jojoba, almond, grapeseed, apricot, meadowfoam seed, and buriti.

My tried and tested?: Natural Spa Factory Apricot

Aging - You want oils that have cell-repairing, collagen boosting, and fine-line reducing qualities such as seabuckthorn, argan, rosehip seed, cacay, pomegranate seed, moringa, and chia seed.

My tried and tested?: Trilogy COQ10 Booster

Oily/Acne Prone - Opt for anything high in linoleic acid or that has antibacterial qualities, like tamanu, grapeseed, pumpkin seed, hemp seed, evening primrose, rosehip seed, sesame, or sunflower.

My tried and tested?: Ooh! Oils of Heaven Tamanu, Trilogy Antioxidant Rosehip

Discolouration - Try an oil that has tyrosinase, an enzyme that brightens the skin naturally. Rosehip seed is great for this, as is papaya, mustard, sesame, and argan.

My tried and tested?: Le Mont Botanique Rosehip

Sensitive - Test before fully applying, but anti-inflammatory oils could do the trick.  Look for borage seed, hemp seed, avocado, and evening primrose.

My tried and tested?: KIKI Hemp Seed

Finding you have combination skin or multiple skin needs?  No worries!  You can opt for an oil that is ideal for multiple skin types like rosehip oil, or make or choose a blend!  Pre-made oil blends will all list what the product targets on the label, so simply look for your skincare needs on the item.  Remember that Frankin-Sense Divine Serum from Awake Organics I talked about in my Face Oil Showdown?  That was a blended oil containing thirteen oils/botanicals, and it did wonders for my combination skin!  Or you can combine two base oils yourself and have a good old fashioned DIY -- have dry, oily skin?  Try a 50/50 mix with jojoba and argan!

5. Are these oils just for the face?

No!  You can use base oils like this for so many things, including making your own bath oils, body oils, lip balm, body balm, deep conditioner, shaving oil, eyelash serum, face mask, massage oil, sugar scrub, or even a bronzing mist.  There isn't really a limit to how to use these oils, and I would love to hear all of your ideas down in the comments!

Base oils can really change your skincare game, and when you pick the right one (or combination of several) you definitely notice the difference.  Personally, my skin has never been as soft, clear, smooth, or radiant as it is now, and I owe most of that to the small changes I have made like introducing oils into my routine.  So what do you think about oils?  Are they something you use regularly?  Were you as scared of them as I was?

Keep an eye out for a follow up post on Sunday, where I will be putting my DIY skills to the test.  I will be taking three oils from Natural Spa Factory and making some lovely treatments perfect for your Valentine or your Galentine!  Want to make them alongside me? Grab 5% off your first order by signing up for their newsletter.

[And remember, you can get 40% off all Balm Balm products using the code BB40 before Friday the 9th of February!  Or, if you are looking for some facial oils to add to your routine you can use code HEAVEN for 40% off all Ooh! Oils of Heaven.   Hurry before it's gone!]

Sunday, 4 February 2018

We live in a beautiful world.  Unfortunately, that world is also swimming in chemicals.  From the air we breathe, to the products we put on and in our bodies, toxins are constantly building within us.  They are in the ingredients and additives found in household cleaners, our underarm antiperspirants, favourite lipsticks and perfumes, packaged foods, and more.  It is impossible to fully escape these pollutants, but it is conceivable to avoid what toxins we can, and protect ourselves against those that are unavoidable.

Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day, a day to remember love ones we have lost, celebrate those who have been saved, and unite in the fight to find cures and preventions.  The goal is to raise awareness, spread information, and to urge people to take action.  One of those actions is as simple as taking care of your skin.

We have all heard of this thing called 'detox' but have you looked at the details as to why it is beneficial?  Basically, our bodies are designed to automatically fight any nasties coming in, expelling them through a natural detoxification cycle. But, with the rate of pollutants increasing every day, our cells can't eliminate the waste fast enough.  This is when things start to malfunction, toxins begin to build, and disease has the opportunity to strike.

The good news is that there are products on the market that can help get rid of all these added impurities, and help maintain healthy cell renewal.  One of my favourites is made by Awake Organics, a British brand focused on utilizing the power of aromatherapy and avoiding exposure to unnecessary toxic chemicals.  I first heard about Awake Organics after receiving their vegan Frankin-Sense Divine Face Serum in The Cruelty Free Beauty Box, and I was immediately hooked on both the quality of their products as well as their ethos.  The brand promises a range free from GMOs, fillers, synthetic fragrance, parabens, artificial colour, animal testing, mineral oil, phthalates, and chemical preservatives, making this ideal for those of us trying to steer clear of  avoidable toxins.

Melissa was kind enough to send me a Green Tea + Detox Divine Face Mask, a product that is intricately handcrafted from raw-honey, enzymatic dead sea mineral mud, bentonite, and active essential oils.  Packed with natural ingredients, this mud mask is leagues ahead of any others I have tried.  The smell is luxurious, rich, and calming, with an initial burst of frankincense followed by lightly floral rose geranium and a hint of matcha.  It is as divine as its name implies!

And for those of us worried about living not just a clean lifestyle free from added nasties, but one with as little waste as possible, Awake Organics again delivers with this bespoke product (and all of their range!).  The packaging is simple, with no ink or imprints on the recyclable cardboard box or glass jar (with metal lid, not plastic!).  The instructions come on a small, thick piece of card so you can look back at them when needed.  Everything is 100% recyclable, and everything looks sleek and upscale without having any added nonsense.

Awake Organics Green Tea + Detox mask hits it home in terms of usage as well, as it can be used in two ways: as a weekly deep detoxifying treatment or as a daily cleansing clay with detoxifying benefits.  As a cleanser, you simply need to apply to damp skin and then rinse with warm water.  Any dirt, residue, makeup, and oil will be washed away, and your face will get a jolt of potent minerals.  To get the full benefits as a mask, you just leave on for a minimum of five minutes after massaging onto your face, and then remove.  Five minutes to fight the damaging effects of daily pollutants.  Five minutes to start cutting the risk of cellular dysfunction.

As I live within a city (albeit a smaller one!), and I spend a fair amount of time walking around outside, I choose to use it to detox.  I have to say, the first time I used this I was completely blown away.  My face has never felt so pampered and so taken care of, and I have tried more than my share of natural skincare products!  Even my partner noticed how immediately clear and bright my face looked after washing the mask off.  I felt refreshed, and just so so clean.

The product is thick, but not in an unpleasant way.  The mix of honey and mud really makes this mask feel like a luxurious spa treatment, but without the guilt of steep prices and unethical practices. It applies smoothly, and I can honestly say a little goes a long way.  I used less than a teaspoon worth for the entirety of my face, so I think this 28ml pot will last me at least three months if not longer.

Not only are the mineral rich clays drawing out impurities and acting as a healthy boost to the body's own detox abilities, but the Green Tea + Detox Divine Face Mask's natural enzymes and acids are effectively exfoliating and restoring the skin without harshness  or irritation.  The mask is not drying, but actually the opposite as it is full of rich antioxidants.  I found it incredibly hydrating, probably due to the grape seed, honey and geranium.  My face was unbelievably soft afterwards, and I can't wait to see what months of frequent use does for the firmness of my skin, my complexion, and most importantly, my overall well-being.

Living in a chemical world is not ideal, but with brands like Awake Organics creating bespoke products that address the issue of high-pollutants, establishing as clean a lifestyle as possible has never been easier.  Making small changes like switching up your skincare routine can really make a difference, and can help protect against the negative effects of toxic ingredients.  By learning as much as possible about what goes in and on our bodies, we can do our best to be sure we are making healthy choices, and those choices can help prevent life changing damage.

If you want to get involved with World Cancer Day, you can donate, volunteer, or simply spread the word using #WorldCancerDay #WeCanICan

Macmillan Cancer Support

Friday, 2 February 2018

I have decided to make your February shopping a whole lot easier by collecting all the deals and putting them all in one place!  So if you are on the lookout for a skincare steal or great beauty buy, have a hunt through this post!

Love Lula:

40% Off Balm Balm: BB40
(Expires 09/02/18)

40% Off Ooh! Oils of Heaven: HEAVEN
(Expires 09/02/18)

40% Off FOM: Automatically applied!
(Expires UNKNOWN)

25% Off Urban Veda: Automatically applied!
(Expires UNKNOWN)

Early Bird Valentine's Box: Automatically applied!
(Expires 14/02/18)

15% Off First Orders (+ 1 FREE GIFT): Sign up for newsletter!
(Expires 31/12/18)

15% Off First Orders (+3 FREE GIFTS): LLFRIEND
(Expires 31/12/18)

Free Gift With Purchase (Various Options): Purchase from the applicable brand!

General Sales (Always Updating): Purchase products up to 50% off!


20% Off Antipodes: Automatically Applied!
(Expires 07/02/18)

Blogger Note: Every product mentioned in all of my posts are purchased with my own money, are gifts from friends or family, or were won in public competitions unless otherwise stated.  However, my posts may contain affiliate links. This will never change my approach to my reviews, nor will it influence how I represent the products I am writing about, as I only choose to represent or work with brands and companies that I 100% respect and trust.

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