Get your feet summer ready! | Cruelty free and vegan foot care

Hi altrocklifers! You probably wouldn’t believe it if you looked out of the window today, but summer is drawing ever closer.  As the weather gets warmer, we must say goodbye to our boots and shoes and replace them with sandals and flip flops, and those poor feet that haven’t seen the light of day in six months are suddenly exposed to the outside world.  When you’re constantly wearing proper shoes and slippers it becomes easy to neglect your feet, so if you’re looking to get summer ready, or just give your toes a treat, here’s my foolproof method to get gorgeous feet.

You will need:

  • A pumice stone, or electric foot exfoliator – I use the SilverCrest electric hard skin remover
  • Lush’s Volcano foot mask
  • Two tie-handle bags – I use large sandwich bags usually
  • A pair of thick, warm socks or slippers
  • Lush’s Pumice Power foot soap
  • Soap And Glory’s Heel Genius foot cream
  • A pair of ordinary cotton socks

Step one – exfoliate

Exfoliation is always the best way to start a foot routine, especially if it’s been a while since you last looked after your feet!  There are all sorts of manual exfoliators available, some from as little as £1 from discount shops, but I personally like to use the SilverCrest electric hard skin remover.  It gently removes any built-up hard skin on the heel and balls of your feet, and leaves the skin feeling soft and smooth.  If it’s been a long time since you last exfoliated your feet, I can guarantee that this will be extremely satisfying.

Step two – mask ’em up

Next up, it’s time to grab your Volcano.  I recommend applying this sat on the edge of the bath or with your feet in the shower tray, as you wouldn’t want to spill this anywhere!  I apply Volcano in a thick layer on the bottom of my feet, focusing on the heel, the balls of my feet, and the bottom of my big toe, as this is where I get the most hard skin build up.  The Lush website recommends using the mask all over the foot, but I don’t find it makes much difference to the skin on the top of my foot.  This also means the pot lasts longer, so that’s a plus too!  Once you’ve applied the mask, take your plastic bag and tie it at the ankles, to stop the mask drying out too much.  I also put a pair of thick socks over the top of the bags, to help keep my feet warm which prevents the mask from drying out.  I then leave the mask on for anywhere up to half an hour.

Step three – get scrubbing

Now it’s time to remove the mask.  I tend to take a folding chair into the shower with me, so I can sit down whilst rinsing off my feet and prevent slipping over, but if you can think of a better method, let me know!  I take the bags off my feet, get my hands wet, then gently massage the mask into my feet for a couple of minutes.  Then, I use my hands to rub the mask away.  Once my feet are clean, I grab my Pumice Power foot soap and scrub it into the same areas I applied the mask to.  Leave the orange scented lather on your feet for a couple of minutes before rinsing away.  Get out of the bath or shower and pat your feet dry gently with a clean towel.

Step four – moisturise

The final step of this routine is to apply a generous layer of Heel Genius all over your feet.  I can’t recommend this product enough – I’ve been using it for years to maintain the softness of the bottoms of my feet, and I find it’s the perfect ending to this routine.  Just pop a pair of clean socks over the top to allow the cream to soak in without walking it all over your home.


So, there you have it!  Have you used any of these products before?  What did you think? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: How to make a tattoo appointment

Good afternoon altrocklifers! Today I thought I’d cover something a bit different, and discuss the ins and outs of getting tattooed.  A lot of the articles and blog posts I read around this topic are very America-centric, which isn’t much good to us UK tattooed folks as the culture (especially around tipping) is very different.  I’ve already got four tattoos, and I just booked my fifth one, so I thought I’d walk you through the process of finding a studio, picking out the right artist for you, and booking the appointment itself.

Step one – decide what tattoo you want

Deciding what tattoos you would like can sometimes be a long and complex process, and sometimes very simple.  Sometimes the ideas behind tattoos can have significant meanings – such as my robin and teacup tattoos, which are memorial tattoos for my grandparents – and therefore it’s very important to find an artist who will translate your perfect design into a tattoo. Others – such as my poppy tattoo – don’t have as much meaning, so as long as you find an artist who’s work you like and you trust, it shouldn’t be too difficult to get the end result you’re looking for.

In my case, I have a number of different tattoos I’d like to get, some with a lot of meaning, and some with little past “I think this design/concept is cool and I want it on my body”.  Either way, before committing to getting any of my tattoos, I gave the ideas themselves a lot of thought over months or sometimes years to help to prevent potential tattoo regret.  Tattoo regret is something that I reckon most tattooed people feel about at least one of their tattoos, so by ensuring you find the right artist, you can minimise the risk of coming out with a tattoo you’re less than totally happy with.

Step 2 – finding your ideal artist(s) and tattoo parlours

This step can vary depending on your circumstances: for example, this weekend I’m going to Manchester, so I looked up Manchester tattoo parlours to find a good artist for me.  First, I checked out the websites of a number of parlours, both to look at artist portfolios and to see if the website was a) well made, b) had high quality photos of the artists’ work, and c) was of a decent quality with good spelling and grammar throughout.  That last point might make me sound like a bit of an elitist, but for me a well written website helps to reassure me that the parlour and its artists pay attention to detail and will provide a high quality service.

Then, I start to look for the artist, or artists, that I would like to tattoo me.  This is where  Facebook or Instagram come in to play, as sometimes website portfolios can be out of date so artists’ most recent work can usually be found on social media.  I’ll take a look through the tattoo parlour’s page, identify the artist or artists that I like, and then look for that artist’s personal page to see even more of their work.  Thanks to Instagram I’ve identified a number of tattoo artists with incredible portfolios dotted all over the UK and abroad that I would love to be tattooed by some day.

Step three – booking the appointment

This step can be a bit of a long one, so I’ll try to break it down for you.  Booking an appointment with an artist will vary depending on how they organise their books: sometimes, the artist will manage the bookings themselves, and sometimes, the parlour they work in will organise them for you.  I’ve dealt with both: when getting tattooed in Bournemouth, I dealt with the artist directly, but I booked my appointment in Manchester through the tattoo parlour.

Booking with the artist directly

This step can sometimes start with a consultation with the artist.  Before I got my first tattoo by Ana Tatu, I messaged her via her Facebook page to book a consultation, and spoke to her so I could get to know her a bit better and decide if she was the right artist for me.  Some artists will book tattoos via social media, but others will only communicate through email, so make sure you check out their bio to find out how they do things!  Otherwise, your message might not be seen and you could miss out.

If the consultation goes well and the artist wants to tattoo your design, they will usually then ask for a deposit.  Most parlours I’ve seen only take cash, so I’d advise taking out some money beforehand – deposits can vary from £20 to £100 or more depending on the size of the piece and the time it will likely take.  If you’re booking the tattoo over social media or email, the artist may ask you to pay your deposit via bank transfer or PayPal.  This deposit will then secure your booking, but if you have to cancel the appointment, the deposit is likely to be non-refundable.

The artist will usually then ask for you to send some reference pictures to them – these can either be pictures of other peoples’ tattoos that you’d like them to take inspiration from, or simply photos of the animal/item/landscape/person you want tattooed.  They can then work on designing your tattoo!  Remember, don’t expect your artist to copy another tattoo outright – this is art theft, and the mark of an untrustworthy artist if they are willing to copy another person’s work. There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from other peoples’ tattoos, but copying is always a massive no-no.

Booking through the tattoo parlour

The process of booking through a tattoo parlour is slightly different to the above – in my case, when booking the tattoo I’ll be getting this weekend, I haven’t actually spoken to the tattoo artist at all!  First off I messaged the parlour’s Facebook page to ask if my preferred artist had any availability on the dates I’ll be in Manchester, and if they were interested in tattooing my design.  They then asked for the rough size of the piece – this makes it easier for the parlour to book me in, as it gives them an idea of how long the tattoo will take.  They also asked for some reference pictures, so I sent over some tattoo designs that I liked, as well as some photos of my tattoo subject.

The parlour then confirmed roughly how much the tattoo would cost, how much the deposit would be, and gave me details of how to pay said deposit.  Then, this morning I phoned the parlour, paid my deposit by card over the phone to confirm and book the appointment, and gave the parlour my contact details so they could get in touch if anything changed.

You’ll remember that earlier I mentioned tipping culture as being different in the UK to the US.  Over in the US it’s expected to tip your artists, but as the UK doesn’t have much of a tipping culture, it’s definitely not expected to tip your tattoo artist here.  I’ve personally never tipped my artists, but I’ll usually ask if they’d like me to bring them a drink or snack if I’m picking one up for myself.  If you think your artist has done an amazing job, and you’re not sure if they accept tips, just ask! I’m sure they’ll be flattered that you asked even if they don’t like accepting tips.


So there you have it!  Did you find this information helpful?  Have you had a different experience of booking tattoo appointments in the UK?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Lifestyle: Westwood Cross and Petticoat Lane clothing and homeware haul

Good afternoon altrocklifers!  Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to visit the garden of England, AKA the beautiful county of Kent, where my Mum’s side of the family originates from.  We stayed in a lovely, quaint AirBnB in Broadstairs, ate gorgeous gelato at Morelli’s, and attended a leaving party for my cousin before he and his family moved to Florida.  But what kind of holiday would it be if there was no retail therapy involved?

Myself and the family decided to take a trip to Westwood Cross, a large shopping complex between the towns of Ramsgate and Margate, and as I always do at Westwood Cross, I ended up spending more money than intended on clothes and homeware.  We also visited Petticoat Lane Emporium in Ramsgate to check out their vintage, retro, and crafty wares.  Here’s a round-up of the spring/summer clothing I purchased, as well as the new homeware I discovered in amongst the 202 stalls at Petticoat Lane.

Clothing

 

Floral dress with removable straps: £24, New Look
Rust coloured check shirt: £9.99 (reduced from £12.99), Select Fashion
Palm print shirt: £15.99, Select Fashion
Pink and grey pyjama set: £5, Primark
Pink satin pyjamas: £4.50 for the top, £5 for the bottoms, Primark

Homeware

 

Bronze mirror: £4, Primark
Early-harvest raspberry shower gel: £3.50, The Body Shop
Flamingo glasses: £15 for a set of six glasses, Petticoat Lane Emporium
Dickens & Hawthorne Australia rose water reed diffuser: £4.99, TK Maxx
Morgan & Grace Australia mango gelato reed diffuser: £4.99, TK Maxx
Framed stag print: £5, Petticoat Lane Emporium


What do you think of my clothing and homeware choices?  Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Afternoon tea at Blanchards, Sleaford

Now, if there’s one thing we Brits love, it’s a good pot of tea, some sarnies and a slice of cake or two.  Back in December, my sibling and I promised my Nan that we’d take her out for afternoon tea as part of her Christmas gift, so on Tuesday we made good on our promise and headed to Blanchards Coffee Shop in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.  Better late than never, eh?

I’ve been to Blanchards many times, and I’ve always enjoyed their English breakfasts, jacket potatoes, and especially their homemade mushroom soup.  However, their afternoon tea service takes things to the next level.  The cafe is family run, having been established in 1922, and you can really sense the amount of pride and care that goes into running the business.

We were greeted at our table with a huge teapot, because honestly, you can’t beat a good brew, can you?  After pouring our tea, these two cake stands laden with sandwiches, cakes and scones appeared, and these photos don’t do justice to just how magnificent the spread was.

Blanchards are happy to cater to different diets, so my being vegetarian wasn’t an issue.  I tucked in to my sandwiches filled with cheese and salad, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg mayonnaise.  My meat-eating counterparts also had thick-cut ham sandwiches which looked very impressive.

We then moved onto the scones, which like everything else is hand made on site.  They were delicious, full of raisins, and the strawberry jam and clotted cream is the perfect accompaniment.

Then, on to the selection of cakes.  The selection you get during an afternoon tea varies depending on what they have on offer that day, and in our case we had rocky road slices, a lemon curd/drizzle cake, and meringues with fresh cream and fruit.  I’m not a big fan of lemon so I didn’t try that cake, but my Mum and Nan reassure me that it was delicious.  The rocky road cake was made with very rich dark chocolate, with fruit throughout to stop it from becoming too sickly.  The meringues were absolutely perfect; crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, accompanied by slices of strawberry and blueberry.

The best part about this wonderful afternoon tea?  Blanchards only charges £10 per person for great service and a very generous quantity of food and drink.  If you’re ever in Lincolnshire and find yourself near to the market town of Sleaford, I would highly recommend stopping by – even though Blanchards requires 24 hours notice to prepare an afternoon tea, the wait is definitely worth it.

Where’s your favourite place to have a traditional afternoon tea? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Can’t keep up with a bullet journal? altrocklife gets organised for 2017

Hi altrocklifers! Today I decided to do something a bit different on this blog, and turn my hand to making a YouTube video.  As we have now entered the new year, I decided to get myself organised and ready to tackle the year ahead, by combining a weekly desk planner and the Google Calendar app on my phone.

I absolutely love watching videos of people drawing up and planning out their bullet journals, however my messy handwriting and incapability to draw and design attractive pages means it’s not really the organisational tool for me.  I decided to purchase a weekly desk planner, with a section for each day already drawn out for me, where I can write down all of the essential to-dos and appointments for that week.  This is combined with the Google Calendar app, which I use to schedule appointments, my work hours and social events as they’re organised.

So, without further ado, here’s my video!

There you have it! Did you find my video useful?  Do you think you’ll be taking on my organisational tips for 2017? Let me know on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

altrocklife’s cutest and funniest Christmas cards 2016

If you’re one for celebrating Christmas, or if you’re simply a fan of sending cards via snail mail to your friends and family, you’ll probably be aware that you’re running out of time to post your cards.  With 10 days remaining until Christmas Day, there’s just over a week to get your season’s greetings sent out.  However, if you’re struggling to find the right card for your friends and family, hopefully this guide of some of the funniest cards I’ve seen this year will give you some inspiration.

Merry Xmas, Asshole card – link here

If you’re a bit of a joker and don’t want your cards to be too traditional or emotional, this card is ideal.  Make sure you don’t accidentally give it to your Nan though, because if your’s is anything like mine she probably wouldn’t find it funny.

Groot Christmas Card – link here

Even if you’re not a fan of the Marvel film Guardians Of The Galaxy, you’ve got to agree that Baby Groot is absolutely adorable, and even more so when wrapped up in Christmas lights.

Little Baby Cheeses card – link here

If your friend or family member is a fan of a) plays on words and b) dairy products, this is the card for them.

Dave card – link here

I personally believe that this is the perfect card for anyone named Dave, however it might be worth checking that they didn’t apply for the new reindeer position, in case this card rubs salt in the wound of their rejected application.

Merry Christmas You Prick card – link here

Cacti patterns have been bang on trend throughout 2016, so this card is ideal for those who love their spiky friends.

Winter Is Coming card – link here

This festive card is perfect for the Game Of Thrones fan – or fans – in your life.  Make sure they’re on the side of the Starks, however, or the direwolf on the front may offend their Lannister sensibilities.

Avo Merry Christmas card – link here

Surely everyone knows at least one person who’s absolutely obsessed with avocados.  Whether they’re a veggie or vegan or simply into their healthy fats and instagrammable breakfasts, this card should leave a smile on their face.

Brussels Snouts card – link here

Whether you enjoy eating sprouts or not, I can guarantee that you’ll know at least one person who does like them, and this is an ideal card for them.

Seasons Greetings card – link here

I have a great friend who loves puns, so I’ve sent this card to them, and if you have a pun-loving friend or family member this should get a chuckle out of them.

What do you think of my selection of Christmas cards? Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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.

Essential albums you need in your car

Hi altrocklifers! In massive life news, I officially got my first car this week, and I feel like I’m one step closer to becoming a responsible adult.  It’s a cute little navy blue Ford Ka, 11 years old, and named Lzzy after one of my favourite vocalists, Lzzy Hale (cringey, I know).

Katie sat in her new car on her driveway
Isn’t she cute??

Naturally, as a music lover the part I was most excited about when I got the car home was filling the glove box with CDs.  I haven’t driven it much, which isn’t surprising considering I haven’t passed my test yet, but here are the albums I’m looking forward to listening to on the road.

Slaves – Take Control

I love this record, and the aggressive riffs and lyrics means shouting along is a great way to channel any road rage without crashing the car or giving other drivers the middle finger.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Blossom

I always think it sounds badass when a car blasting punk music drives past you: that’s what I’m aiming for when I play this record.

We Are The Ocean – Ark

This record is great for long drives, especially at night: plenty of big choruses to keep you awake, and some more mellow numbers for stretches of empty road.

A Day To Remember – Bad Vibrations

This is, so far, my favourite album released this year, so of course I had to put it in my car to maximise the amount of time I spend listening to it.

Pure Love – Anthems

Frank Carter’s discarded project produced one of my favourite all-time records.  You can’t beat a car sing-a-long to tracks like Handsome Devils Club or Bury My Bones.

Bastille – Other People’s Heartache Part 3

If I fancy listening to electronic music, this EP by Bastille is always one of my top choices.  My favourite track on the EP is Remains, featuring the beautiful voices of both Rag N Bone Man and Skunk Anansie.

Foals – What Went Down

This album always manages to keep me occupied and entertained during boring, stop-start town driving.

What are some essential albums or tracks on your car playlist?  Let me know your on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

Things you only know if you have alternative piercings

Since December 2014, I have officially been a person with alternative piercings.  I personally define ‘alternative piercings’ as any body piercing which isn’t located in the earlobe.  I consider myself to have three alternative piercings: my tragus and helix on my left ear, and my left nostril.  I also have each earlobe pierced twice, and I have further plans for more alternative piercings, such as a microdermal on my chest, my other nostril and septum, and potentially more cartilage piercings on my right ear.

Now, before I get into this post, I’d like to make the disclaimer that my experiences as a person with alternative piercings are fairly mild compared to some people with more body modifications.  However, I thought I’d write about my experiences navigating the world as a person with alternative piercings, and how I interact with people who don’t have them.

1 – The pain you feel when you snag your piercing on your hair/clothes/bed sheets/towel

I still snag my nose piercing all the time when I’m washing my face, or I catch my helix piercing when I pull a t-shirt over my head.  No matter how long you’ve had a piercing, and whether it’s fully healed or not, it will still take you by surprise and you’ll end up snagging it on something.  I’ve had my tragus pierced for nearly two years and I still catch it on my towel when I dry my hair.

2 – Is my piercing infected, or does it have hypertrophic scarring? Or a keloid?  Or an irritation bump?????

There are all sorts of things that could potentially go wrong with a piercing.  If you irritate it, as mentioned in the first point, you could end up with an irritation bump.  These are harmless and will reduce in size and eventually disappear when the irritation stops, for example I finally stop knocking my nose when I’m applying face scrub.  There are other possibilities, however: you could have a hypertrophic scar, which is essentially a build up of collagen.  These aren’t really harmful, but if they’re large enough and close to your piercing the size of it may push on your piercing and cause it to migrate.  Alternatively, you could have a keloid, another type of scar tissue, which is more of an issue.  If all of these have been ruled out it’s possible that you may have an infected piercing, which is a risk when trying to heal an open wound.  If you think that might be the case, speak to your piercer and ask for their advice, or if you think it looks serious book an appointment with your GP.

3 – How do you cope with all the risks that come with piercings, as mentioned in point two?

Sometimes, it feels like the effort of trying to heal your piercing isn’t worth the hassle. I’ve had what I believe is an irritation bump on the back of my helix piercing for months, and it’s become infected a couple of times. However, I love how my helix looks, and I reckon that I’ve already come this far, so I ought to keep up the hard work and eventually I’ll have a fully healed piercing that I can love for the rest of my life.  In my eyes, it’d be a waste of time if I just took my piercing out and gave up now.

4 – How much did it hurt? How much did it bleed?

I personally hate being asked how much my piercings hurt, because people seem to forget that every person has a different pain threshold.  I’m an absolute wimp, so I’m worried that I’d scare people from getting piercings that they really want because my pain rating out of ten seems high to them.  I’ve discussed pain levels with people who have the same piercings as me and we all have different perceptions of how much they hurt.

5 – How long did your piercing take to heal?  Is there any way I can speed up the process?

I’m not gonna beat around the bush here: some piercings are absolute buggers to heal.  And once again, the time it takes varies from person to person.  My immune system isn’t particularly fantastic, so my healing times are probably longer than most peoples’.  I’ve had my helix pierced for a year and a half and it still hasn’t fully healed.  On the other hand, my tragus was fully healed within a few months, when others suggest it can take 12 to 18 months.  You absolutely cannot predict how quickly your piercings will heal, as other influences, such as illness or poor nutrition, could slow down your immune system.  Plus, there is no way to rush the healing process.  You have to remember that your piercing jewellery is a foreign body that your immune system will want to fight and reject, so healing the piercing is a tricky process.

6 – You should twist your jewellery twice a day to speed up the healing process!

This is the old way that piercers recommended you heal your piercings, but nowadays this process is frowned upon.  This is because it’s been discovered that twisting your jewellery only damages and tears the cells in the fistula (the hole of the piercing), which actually delays the healing process.

7 – You should use contact lens solution to heal your piercings!

This is a common misconception, because most piercers recommend using saline solution (a.k.a. salt water) to heal your piercings, and contact lens solution is very close to being pure saline. However, if you read the ingredients contact lens solution often contains other elements which could irritate your piercing and prolong the healing process.

8 – You look better natural, without any piercings.

Too bad, I like them.

Do you have alternative piercings?  Are there any other points that I’ve missed off of this list? Let me know 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.