Review: Lush’s Garden Party gift set

Last Christmas, I was lucky enough to be given one of Lush’s beautiful gift boxes by my sibling.  Whilst everyone else was busy unwrapping boxes of chocolate and bottles of wine, I was in my own little world of cruelty free and vegetarian cosmetics.  Now that I’ve had a chance to use all of the products, I decided today would be a good time to round up the positives and negatives of each of the products.

Just to note: two of the products from this gift box, Rose Jam and Sleepy, are no longer available to buy as they were winter exclusive products. Apologies, but hopefully next winter you’ll be able to pick some up for yourself.

Respect Your Elders soap (vegan, £3.50 for 100g, link here)

Initially I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy this product, as I’ve never been the biggest fan of using bars of soap.  However, I was won over by the scent of Respect Your Elders, which has a lovely, light berry fragrance.  It’s does a brilliant job of cleaning my hands as it lathers up very well, and the scent lingers on my hands for ages after each wash.

Ro’s Argan body conditioner (vegan, £16.50 for 225g, link here)

If you’re a fan of rosy scents, then Ro’s Argan is the product for you.  This body conditioner is extremely buttery and decadent, and it really makes me feel like I’m pampering myself when I use it.  I often get patches of very dry skin on my arms during winter, but Ro’s Argan has kept these at bay.

Sleepy body lotion (vegan, no longer available to buy)

When I went into Lush in December, I gave Sleepy a sniff and I honestly wasn’t a very big fan of the scent.  I also wasn’t a massive fan on Christmas morning, when I opened up the tub to give it another try.  However, I used the lotion one night after a shower and the fragrance absolutely transforms itself when it’s rubbed into the skin.  It’s a wonderful comforting fragrance of lavender, and it helped me drift off to sleep that night, as the name suggests.

Rose Jam shower gel (vegan, no longer available to buy)

If you want to have a wonderfully decadent shower, I recommend using Rose Jam, followed by Ro’s Argan.  The fragrance of roses lingers on the skin for hours after your shower – I couldn’t stop smelling my arms!  Rose Jam is an excellent shower gel, which cleanses effectively yet gently.

What do you think of these products? Which of Lush’s winter products are your favourites? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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Lifestyle: altrocklife’s daily cosmetic essentials

This year, skincare has become extremely important to me.  I’ve spent a lot of time (and money!) investing in various products to suit my combination skin, and I’m happy to say that I think I’ve found a winning combination.  I’ve also been wearing make-up for years now, and I’m pretty happy with how my face ends up looking after 45 minutes in front of a mirror, plus an extra five minutes spent on my hair, so I decided to take you on a tour of my cosmetics and toiletries drawer.  For reference, here’s my face and hair on a good day, as well as close-ups of the products.

(P.S.: Some of the items I’ll be highlighting are not cruelty free, and I am currently using up these products before making the swap to a cruelty free alternative.  I will make it clear which items are and aren’t cruelty free, and whether they’re vegetarian or vegan.)

The best products inside my make-up bag:

Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit in Light-Medium (Cruelty free and vegan)

Even though I bought the lightest colour palette, the lightest powder pretty much matches my skin tone and the darkest powder makes me look half starved.  So, I use the middle shade to contour and the next product to highlight.

Barry M Illuminating Strobe Cream in Frosty Pink (Cruelty free and vegan)

I absolutely love this cream: it’s very easy to control whether you want a subtle glow or to shine bright like a diamond.  I don’t use blusher because my cheeks are naturally pretty rosy, so I like the subtle pink colour of this cream to give my skin more of a glow.

Soap and Glory Archery Brow Tint and Precision Pencil in Love Is Blonde (Cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

This is the eyebrow product I’ve been using for years, and I can’t see myself straying from Soap and Glory.  My eyebrow hair isn’t as dark as the hair on my head, so I use the brow tint to darken the hair whilst using the pencil to fill in any gaps.  And believe me, my thin eyebrows always have loads of gaps.

Arbonne It’s A Long Story Mascara (Cruelty free and vegan)

A couple of months ago I was sent a sample sized tube of this mascara by Arbonne rep Tori Waight, and I absolutely love it! I’ve been using it sparingly to try and make it last as long as possible, but it makes my eyelashes look beautifully long, and it never clumps.  Full disclosure: I was sent this with a selection of other Arbonne products for free, but I had no obligation to publish a review and this is 100% my unbiased opinion.

Some stunning skincare essentials:

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for sensitive skin (NOT cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Garnier was one of the first brands to jump on the micellar water bandwagon, and their waters are some of the best on the market.  Unfortunately Garnier are not a cruelty free brand so once my current bottle is empty, I’ll be seeking out a cruelty free alternative.

Simple Kind To Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes (NOT cruelty free, vegan)

On the odd occasion where I’m too lazy to use micellar water to remove my make-up, or if I’m not wearing make-up on a particular day and I want to refresh my skin, I’ll use these facial wipes.  They leave my skin soft and refreshed.  Again, they aren’t cruelty free so I’ll be finding an alternative soon.

Lush Vanishing Cream Moisturiser (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

Vanishing Cream has become my absolute lifesaver, and I genuinely cannot imagine myself living without it.  It has a wonderful lavender fragrance, and it’s the most intensely moisturising cream I’ve ever used, which is perfect for me and my dry, dry skin.  I can definitely believe Lush’s claim that this is one of their bestselling products.

The Body Shop British Rose Instant Glow Body Butter (Cruelty free, but owned by a parent company which isn’t cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

I absolutely love anything rose scented, so this body butter is perfect for me.  It sinks into the skin so quickly and leaves my arms and legs soft and smooth, with no signs of dry skin, peeling, or the dreaded scaly-looking lizard legs.

Lush Elbow Grease Moisturising Bar (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

I bought this product to help me along the process of healing my tattoos, because when my tattoos get scabby and dry, a hit of Elbow Grease helps to calm the itchiness.  Plus, I like to use it on my already healed tattoos to help them appear brighter.  The smell of this product is absolutely divine too!

The Body Shop British Rose Petal Soft Hand Cream (Cruelty free, but owned by a parent company which isn’t cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Like the Body Butter mentioned above, I love the fragrance of this hand cream.  It absorbs into the skin super quickly and leaves my hands feeling soft and smooth.  My current part-time cleaning job means I’ve constantly got my hands in water or using chemicals, so I need a decent hand cream to keep my hands from completely drying out.

My weekly lip care product:

Lush Popcorn Lip Scrub (Cruelty free and vegan)

This scrub helps to prevent the build up of dead skin, especially during winter when my lips get hella chapped.  Plus, the coconut oil in the formulation means that this scrub isn’t too harsh on my lips.

Everyday hair styling:

Lush Hair Custard Hair Dressing (Cruelty free and vegetarian)

The scent of this product is absolutely divine, and it works as a medium hold product to keep my flyaway hairs in place.  It’s great value for money as well, as I’ve been using my tub since July and I’ve hardly made a dent in it!

Cien Hairspray (Cruelty free, unsure if vegetarian or vegan)

Even though this Lidl hairspray is a much cheaper alternative to other high street brands, it’s a brilliant hairspray.  It doesn’t get sticky and has a brilliant hold, so I’d recommend it to anyone.

What are your daily skincare essentials? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: Where do you draw the line between cruelty free products and a vegetarian/vegan diet?

You may remember from last month that I wrote a post discussing my favourite Lush products, which is a brand well known for being 100% vegetarian and cruelty free. Following that post, I’ve been pondering my stance on consuming products where animals have been harmed in some way, whether through my dietary choices or cosmetics.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure where I stand yet, so I thought I’d write down my thoughts and hopefully get a discussion going with you, my lovely readers.

First of all, I’ve reduced my consumption of animal products over the past 18 months or so.  In May 2015 I became pescetarian, which means I cut out all animal flesh from my diet except for fish and other forms of seafood.  This was for two reasons – I didn’t think I would commit to full vegetarianism straight away so I wanted to ease myself into it, and I also really love(d) calamari and teriyaki salmon.  However, my last taste of fish was some fancy salmon mousse on New Year’s Day, and since then no animal flesh has passed my lips (except for the time my Stepdad accidentally gave me some pasta with ham in).

My current rule is that I won’t eat an animal product if the animal has had to die for me to be able to consume it. This includes all flesh, gelatine (made from animal bones) and rennet (made from calf stomach lining), and means that I still consume milk, eggs, and other dairy products.

This rule also means that I won’t purchase products made of leather (excluding the leather bag my Mum bought me for my birthday last year), suede or other animal skins, but I will by products made of wool.  When I move away from diet and consider cosmetics, this is where the line between what I can and cannot purchase becomes to blur.

For me, my reasoning for becoming vegetarian (and eventually aiming to become vegan) consists of two main factors. The first is that I am against the unnecessary cruelty involved in the farming industry. The second is that I have found that I am capable of living a healthy life and meeting all of my dietary and nutritional requirements with a vegetarian diet, plus iron supplements.  However, like meat products, soap and conditioner are not life necessities for me: even though I wouldn’t have many friends if I didn’t wear deodorant, I wouldn’t die without it.  This video ( which includes some strong language, by the way) by Australian lifestyle and beauty YouTuber Nibbles Official explains that side of the argument quite well, whilst also going into why she herself doesn’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Most of the toiletries I buy are already cruelty free. A number of them aren’t vegan as they contain products such as honey, but because I am only vegetarian at the moment I’m happy to still use toiletries containing animal products.  The main area where I struggle to draw the line is make-up and other cosmetics.  According to the RSPCA, it is illegal to sell products in the EU which have been tested on animals or have ingredients which have been tested on animals, which means that all of the products on the shelves at Boots are cruelty free.  This is reassuring, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that the brands themselves are totally cruelty free, because China legally requires cosmetic companies to test their products on animals before they can be sold in the country.  That means that companies that do sell their products in China do still test some of their products on animals.

This is why I struggle to draw the line: if the make-up brands I use sell their products in China and therefore test on animals, should I stop purchasing from those brands, even though I know the products on UK shelves haven’t been tested themselves?  Am I OK with supporting a brand who does test on animals under certain conditions, even though the products I buy are cruelty free?  Again, make-up isn’t a life essential (although you might think it is if you knew how long I spent on my eyebrows in the morning), so shouldn’t I work harder to ensure that my purchases do not enable or condone animal suffering?

I’d be very interested to hear from my followers, whether you use cruelty free products, are vegetarian or vegan, or just have a strong opinion on the subject. Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: My favourite Lush products

Hi altrocklifers! Today I thought I’d do something a bit different, and discuss my recent foray into purchasing from ethical cosmetics giant, Lush.  The company, which had humble beginnings in Poole in 1995 (the year I was born!) has reached worldwide acclaim for their 100% vegetarian and cruelty free products.

Now, Lush always seemed like a niche shop to me, and I used to be quite nervous about going inside and asking questions.  Plus, a lot of their long term customers, AKA Lushies, can be a little bit fanatical about the brand.  I went pescatarian last May and fully vegetarian in January, so since then I’ve been making a more conscious effort to purchase toiletries from cruelty free and vegetarian brands.  I’m very glad I did, as the products are fantastic and I can use them guilt free!  Plus, all of the staff in my local branches (Bournemouth whilst at university and Lincoln whilst at home) are absolutely lovely and were brilliant at helping me find the best products for my skin and hair.

I’m going to go over the products I’m currently using and how I feel about them, as well as products I’ve tried in the past and didn’t continue to use and why.

HAIR

Soak And Float – solid shampoo bar

Lush's Soak And Float solid shampoo bar on a plastic grass design soap dish
The soap dish was £3 from Tiger, by the way. It’s a fab way of storing my shampoo bar!

I’ve always struggled finding suitable shampoo, as I have mild dandruff and medicated shampoo only ever managed to keep the worst of the flakes at bay. Thankfully, Soak And Float is absolutely fantastic at calming my scalp, and I’ve seen nary a flake since starting to use this solid shampoo about two months ago.  It’s fantastic value for money as well: Lush suggests that each bar lasts up to three months, but because I have very short hair I think mine will last even longer than that.  Scent wise, I can’t put my finger on what the dominant scent of this product is, but it’s quite gentle and a little sweet.

Price: £5.95 for 55g
Recommended for: People with sensitive scalps or dandruff
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★★★★

American Cream – conditioner

250g bottle of Lush American Cream conditioner

American Cream has mixed reviews across the board: some hail it as a conditioner deity, others think it smells like curdled milk or baby sick.  Personally I lean much further towards the former.  Whilst I don’t think this conditioner smells like strawberry vanilla like it’s supposed to, it does have a sweet, pleasant creamy smell which reminds me of crème brûlée before you caramelise the top.  I have fairly thick hair, and this conditioner is thick enough to thoroughly condition whilst being light enough not to weigh down my natural curls.

Price: £9.95 for 250g
Recommended for: People with normal to thick hair
Status: Vegetarian
My rating: ★★★★☆

Hair Custard – hair dressing

A sample pot of Lush's Hair Custard
I always leave Lush with at least one free sample. It’s great!

Last time I went to Lush in Lincoln the person who served me suggested I give Hair Custard a go, and I’m glad they did.  It’s a light, creamy product with a strong vanilla fragrance which I use to fight the frizz which comes hand in hand with curly hair.  I also use it as a light styling product to keep my curls in place.  The product is ideally used in wet hair before blow-drying, but because I leave my hair to air-dry I don’t know how well it works in that way.  I’ll definitely be buying a full sized tub next time I go to Lush.

Price: £12.95 for 100g
Recommended for: People who want to tackle frizz or hydrate their hair
Status: Vegetarian
My rating: ★★★★☆

FACE

Cup O’ Coffee – face and body scrub

Cup O' Coffee Lush face and body mask

I absolutely love coffee, so I was drawn to Cup O’ Coffee straight away.  It has a very sweet, chocolatey smell, with crushed coffee beans which add the exfoliating touch.  I have combination skin – oily in some places and dry in others – so the crushed coffee beans help to exfoliate away dead skin, and the agave syrup and coriander oil soothes and moisturises.  You can use this product to exfoliate your body too, but at the moment I only use it on my face.

Price: £6.75 for 150g
Recommended for: People who get dry, flaky skin
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★★★★

Popcorn – lip scrub

Lush's Popcorn lip scrub

This was part of a lovely birthday gift from my sister, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.  It’s lasted a very long time, and it does wonders for exfoliating my lips.  I get very chapped and dry lips, especially in the winter, so I like to exfoliate with Popcorn and apply a moisturising lip balm before bed.  It’s got a lovely sweet taste, and actually does smell like popcorn! Bonus.

Price: £5.50 for 25g (but it lasts a really long time!)
Recommended for: People who frequently get chapped lips
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★★★☆

BODY

The Olive Branch – shower gel

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Remember to give The Olive Branch a good shake before using, because the olive oil separates and forms a separate layer at the top of the bottle.

At first I was a little nervous about using this product, as it contains olive oil and I was worried I would end up with more spots on my back and chest than before.  Thankfully, this wasn’t the case, and The Olive Branch helped my dry arms and legs become smooth and moisturised.  It has a lovely citrus scent thanks to the mandarin and bergamot oil.  It is very runny, which took me aback when I first used it, but once you get the hang of how much you need a bottle goes a long way.

Price: £9.95 for 250g
Recommended for: People with dry skin
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★★★★

PRODUCTS I NO LONGER USE AND WHY

Veganese – conditioner

Veganese conditioner by Lush

I absolutely love the scent of Veganese – it has a very strong and refreshing lemon scent.  The product was recommended to me by one of the members of staff in the Lincoln store, because I was looking for a fairly light conditioner that wouldn’t weigh down my curls.  Unfortunately for me this conditioner was too light, and didn’t leave my hair feeling conditioned at all. I passed Veganese on to my Mum, who has straighter, thinner hair than I do.  She really likes it, so I can vouch for it being a good quality product, but it just wasn’t right for me.

Price: £9.95 for 250g
Recommended for: People with normal-to-thin, straight hair
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★☆☆☆

Angels On Bare Skin – face and body cleanser

Lush Angels On Bare Skin face and body cleanser tub

I actually used up two whole pots of this cleanser before moving to Cup O’ Coffee, and it really served me well whilst I was using it.  It has a very strong lavender scent, which I love, but others seem to find overpowering.  The ground almonds in this cleanser exfoliated my skin whilst the chamomile and lavender calmed and soothed.  Unfortunately I found that it didn’t exfoliate enough, and my face was left with patches of dry, flaky skin.  I also found the process of adding water to the product before mixing to a paste quite tedious.

Price: £7.25 for 100g
Recommended for: People with slightly dryer skin who don’t need too much exfoliation
Status: Vegan
My rating: ★★★☆☆

Are you a fan of Lush?  Have you tried any of the products above? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Review: Ted Baker’s body soufflé is absolutely delicious

Now I know this is a little different to the kind of posts I usually write, but I made an amazing discovery when cosmetics shopping the other day and I had to share it with you.

Currently, Boots have a massive 3 for 2 offer on a whole range of skin-care, cosmetics and make-up.  You can tell, because I went in only needing a couple of low priced items and left £18 lighter.

I decided to make the most of the offer and pick up some new fancy looking moisturisers – including a travel-sized Ted Baker Treasured Orchid Body Soufflé for £2.50.  And let me tell you, it is gorgeous!

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Its fragrance is subtle, but the combination of sandalwood, rose and vanilla is really lovely.  As soon as I opened the lid I knew I had made a good choice.  It has a lovely silky-smooth texture, and it absorbed into my skin super quickly, which is always a plus.  It is a lovely thick cream which feels luxurious, and it hydrated my skin really effectively.

My only issue with it is that, due to the name, I expected it to have a fluffier, mousse-like texture, rather than just being a regular cream.  However, I would still definitely recommend it as it’s one of the best quality moisturisers I’ve used – and believe me, I’ve tried a lot of moisturisers in my time.

I bought this 50ml tub from Boots, but it is also available from other large cosmetics stores.  And, because it was part of the 3 for 2 offer currently going on in-store, I picked it up for free!  If you feel like you deserve a bit of luxury in your life, this Body Soufflé will definitely deliver.

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