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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

August 30, 2017

3 Budget Cruelty Free Mascaras

After blogging about switching to cruelty free with my beauty and the process I went through to achieve it, I thought it would be great to recommend some of my favourite CF products that have had to replace some firm favourites before I transitioned to cruelty free only beauty. Finding particular makeup products was difficult for me because I either used the same product previously for years and loved it or liked to try new products again and again as I liked to experiment. So when it came to finding a new mascara, I wasn't too worried about finding something new that I loved but the brands I previously turned to were non-CF so it would mean more experimenting than usual. I also had fell in love with a L'Oréal mascara not too long before I switched to CF so I not only needed to find some favourites that I liked, I needed to find some that would be better than my firm favourites such as the L'Oréal Baby Roll mascara and the Bourjois Volume Clubbing Mascara.

Something I wanted to do when switching to CF was find some mascaras for a variety of looks - I used to have certain mascaras I would use depending on the looks I wanted to achieve and therefore had a range of different ones I would purchase. There would be natural ones, ones for volume, and more. So although I still like to dabble in the world of mascara and test out different ones regularly, here are three firm favourites from great CF brands which I will repurchase again and again.

Essence Lash Princess Volume Mascara | 12ml | £3.3O: First up I need to talk about a mascara I used to love but somehow forgot about. Essence are one of my absolute favourite cosmetics brands as they're extremely affordable and have a range of fantastic products (obviously a blog post all about these guys will be coming to NB in due course). One of their products I've been a fan of for years is the Lash Princess Volume Mascara because it's ridiculously cheap but ridiculously good. This is only £3.3O and knocks the socks off any high end mascara I've ever tried. As the name suggests, this mascara gives your lashes volume and the curved end to the wand also gives them a great lift and curl. I find that it never clumps up and really separates the lashes making your lashes look full and thick. The formula is very lightweight so it doesn't feel heavy on the eyes and doesn't dry out and go flaky or crispy on the lashes. The packaging isn't my favourite as it's a little cheesy and feels like something I would have liked when I was 12/13 years old, but I am *more* than happy to look past this for the great effect you get on the lash. If you are a fan of the popular Maybelline or L'Oréal mascaras that really boost and volumise the lashes, this is a great CF and cheap alternative that lasts all day.

Essence Lash Princess False Lassh Effect Mascara | 12ml | £3.3O: The next mascara I love is another Essence offering from the same Lash Princess range. The False Lash Effect Mascara has a very similar formula to the Volume option as you'd probably expect but it's a little harder to work with. Sometimes I find that some mascaras need to dry out a little first before they're really good and grip and coat the lashes well and this is definitely one of those. Once this one has dried out however, I do really love it - it's great for lengthening the lashes and separating them. I've mentioned before that my lashes are pretty good as they are which is why I like to try different mascaras, but this one is great at giving them length. Usually, my lashes get a good natural curl so if a good curl is something you need from your mascara, this one is probably not for you but if you want that length then this is your jam. The wand is very simple and has a typical bristle head which goes into a triangular point so it's great at grabbing each individual lash. Something I forgot to mention about the Lash Princess range is the fact that the mascaras are all 12ml - that's around 4ml more than most other drugstore mascaras - so you get a lot of product for your tiny price point!

Seventeen Falsifeye HD Mascara | 9ml | £6.99: My last fave mascara is from another go-to brand I love a lot - Seventeen. Their Falsifeye HD Mascara was the first mascara I purchased since my switch to CF and has stayed a firm favourite. Despite the claims of giving your lashes lots of volume, length, thickness, and definition, I like this mascara on days when I want a really natural looking lash. The Falsifeye mascara definitely gives the lash all of those previous claims, but I find the formula looks really natural on the lash and I can't quite decide if it's because it doesn't look mega black on the lashes or if it's super thin. Those aren't complaints about this mascara by the way as this makes the product the perfect option for layering on the lash. I usually opt for one solid layer of mascara but this is a great day-to-night option as you can wear a minimal amount for the daytime and then layer it up if you need to go out straight out after work etc. The wand has a typical tapered shape but has rubber bristles which really grab and coat the lashes well. When I want definition and separation I always reach for this one and if I need my mascara to last for longer than normal, I always choose this one too as it never flakes or feels dry on the eyes.

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August 28, 2017

Desert Cliché

Happy Bank Holiday Monday folks! I hope you're all doing something fun today (and for those of you who are working - I hope the day goes by super fast and it's smooth sailing!). I'm spending my day doing some minor shopping getting some bits and pieces I need in my skincare and also having a huge sort out of my stuff at home. It's confirmed - I'm moving into my very own house (a one I actually own - I know) in just three weeks time so I need to sort through everything I own and see what I can get rid of so the moving is fuss-free and easy. I'm super excited but it's also mega scary as it's such a huge "grown up" step. So I guess I'll use this as an opportunity to say that my future blog posts will definitely reflect the move and some DIY projects etc. that I am looking forward to sinking my teeth in to. I'm also *so* happy at the thought of actually having space to cook some awesome meals and share the recipes here on NB and just generally improve my blog.

As for this outfit, I'm sticking with my comfort zone big time at the moment because the weather keeps fluctuating between typically-British sticky hotness to equally typically-British drizzle and chill. This summer has been such a bizarre one and doesn't really feel like we've had a summer so I'm trying to see it out as best as I can with floaty dresses and boho vibes.

Bardot Ditsy Maxi Dress | Asos Western Belt | Matalan Bucket Bag (similar) | Jeffrey Campbell Boots (similar)

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August 25, 2017

The Novice Guide to Going Cruelty Free

Hey gang, today I thought I'd talk about something that I worry that you're all sick of me banging on about however I also still feel damn passionate about it so it's gonna happen anyway (sorry not sorry - that old chestnut). I've been making the cruelty free transition since May and I'm finally completely CF in all aspects of my skincare, haircare, cosmetics and household cleaning products. The process is something that has been a long time coming but it can be a little overwhelming to delve in to. I felt quite clueless to begin with and the more research I did, the more I found out such as the differences between the different cruelty free logos and what they represent, to what it truly means to be cruelty free for a brand. As it was a bit of a minefield when I started transitioning to CF beauty, I thought my very novice tips might be of help to some of you who might be in a similar situation or if you're sitting on the fence about making the jump to CF living.

It can be information overload so look for some easy peasy helpful go-to sites. When trying to swap to cruelty free, there are a lot of websites that contradict each other or downright lie. Unfortunately many brands aren't straight to the point or crystal clear about their stance on animal testing so finding reliable sources on which brands do and don't test was vital for me transitioning. The first ports of call for me was PETA, Choose Cruelty Free, and Cruelty Free International.

PETA are a great base to start if you want to search specific brands to see their CF stance as you can search not just cosmetics, but also household cleaning products and even office supplies. You can download an app to access the info on the go (mega helpful if you're in a store shopping and can't see any CF logos), and also access PDF lists of CF brands and their availability in specific countries. Although Choose Cruelty Free (CCF) is an Australian-based site, us Brits can definitely still value the information it provides. They have a fab CF list with a great key for identifying whether products are CF or also vegan and more. My favourite however is Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny site as they are responsible for the Leaping Bunny logo on many of our beauty products and again, the site has a super easy to use and seach A-Z list.

Blogs are your CF minefield best friends. I would honestly be *so* lost without blogs. The wonderful individuals who run CF blogs who go to so much effort to benefit others by outreaching to brands to get responses and clear answers on the ethics should be acknowledged and applauded. My absolute go-to girl is without a doubt Cruelty Free Kitty. Her blog is fantastic and is a great starting point if you need to know the ins and outs of animal testing, what CF actually means and if you want a definite answer on whether or not your favourite brands test on animals as she collates responses straight from the horse's mouth. Logical Harmony is also a perfect blog as Tashina has fantastically extensive lists of CF and vegan beauty brands and My Beauty Bunny is my favourite blog for detailed product reviews of 1Oos of CF products. If you want to go the "whole hog" and you're looking for completely vegan brands, definitely check out the gorgeous Gemima's blog - Lovely Witches as she covers everything you need to know about vegan lifestyle and beauty.

Be truly aware of what "cruelty free" means. I don't feel qualified enough to fully explain this clearly so I highly recommend the various links provided above but, it is important to initially get your head around what CF really is before you even try to buy CF-only products. The problem I first faced was the fact that there are various logos that show products or brands are against animal testing and not all of them mean the same thing. Many people rely heavily on the Leaping Bunny logo as it's the only internationally recognised logo meaning it is applicable everywhere, but there are also other logos which are equally as valid and it all depends on personal preference which ones you buy into. Brands actually have a number of different ways in which they can identify as cruelty free, but ultimately a lot of it stems from their refusal to sell in mainland China. Selling cosmetics, skincare etc. in China means brands are required by law to have either the finished product or the ingredients of said product tested on animals. Therefore this can be both pre-market and post-market/production meaning that no matter what, at least one ingredient has been used on animals in cruel, cramped, horrific conditions. I'm not going to get preachy here, but I am a firm believer that no lipstick nor mascara is worth the suffering or potential death of any animal - laboratory based or not. The logos to truly look out for are from those same reliable organisations I mentioned above:

Source: Cruelty Free Kitty

It's worth noting here that the really important message about the logos is that some brands actually use fake logos (which I just can't get my head around at all!). The fact that some brands lie to their market/customers dumbfounds me, but it's also just so unethical to confuse those who are trying to cruelty free beauty/living. Just as an example, a brand I was shocked to see using this method was Batiste on their very popular dry shampoo products. Using a fake logo is very misleading but it seems to be extremely common so the best safe bet is to stick to the three widely recognised ones listed above as they're genuine and well-known.

Use lists to clear out your collection. When I decided to go CF, I started with my skincare and makeup and emptied literally everything I owned out onto the floor and used concise lists of CF brands to do a pile of CF and non-CF products. This then made it easy to see what to keep and what I needed to make sure I never repurchased. This was a massive shock for me because I was quite disappointed to see just how many products I had in my collection that weren't cruelty free. I then split the non-cruelty free pile into further separate piles: non-CF I use daily, non-CF that is new/lightly used, non-CF that can go in the bin. This meant I could see what I actually truly used and needed to find CF replacements for. I then proceeded to give away the products I had only used lightly to friends and family who were not cruelty free specific users and my collection was instantly minimised. Seeing how many products I needed to replace also helped me start to research effectively - I could ask folks on Twitter for good replacements and could also see which products would be running out soon so I knew what to prioritise.

It can't all be changed overnight. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that transitioning to a cruelty free lifestyle/beauty products can't be done in a flash. It would be unrealistic and not cost-effective to just throw out everything then repurchase replacements. For me, I slowly used up the non-CF beauty products and replaced them when they were needed and made sure all my skincare, haircare, and cosmetics were completely cruelty free before then moving on to household cleaning products. Splitting it also made it more enjoyable to find products I liked and the best thing? So many budget brands are cruelty free meaning this worthwhile transition won't break the bank - it will also make your home much more eco-friendly!

Don't be disheartened by parent brands. One thing I was always a little aware of but never truly understood until researching CF beauty was parent brands. Mother/parent brands are basically umbrella brands who own many smaller brands. A good example of this is when L'Oréal used to own The Body Shop. A lot of CF beauty advocates wouldn't buy from The Body Shop previously as L'Oréal test on animals whereas The Body Shop do not. I personally love The Body Shop so they were one of my go-to stores for CF skincare in particular when I first transitioned. I understood at the time that their parent brand did in fact test on animals and sell in mainland China, but The Body Shop were a safe and comfortable brand for me to explore in. Now (thankfully!) the CF brand Natura have become The Body Shop's new parent brand which is fab, but if you're comfortable with buying from brands who have parent brands who aren't CF, don't beat yourself up about it and don't let others. There's wriggle room for everyone's approach to switching to CF-only beauty, and don't let others dictate how you do it.

It may sound cheesy, but switching to cruelty free living has definitely improved how I feel about myself and my purchases. I am so pleased I made the change but I strongly believe that you shouldn't let others tell you how to do it - everyone finds their feet and its your journey for your own personal reasons. I'm by no means an expert and still finding my way with CF beauty however, I think the best way to carry on along your journey is to openly talk to others and find out more and more information. Discussing CF beauty and asking for advice and recommendations from others is *the best* way to learn and grow your knowledge and understanding. There's so many great sites and blogs out there that can direct and explain things greater than I, but hopefully if any of you guys are stumbling your way through this journey as blind as I did to begin with, I've given you some comfort in the fact that you're certainly not the only one!

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August 23, 2017

My New Travel Companion

Happy Wednesday gorgeous folk! Today I thought I'd share with you a relatively new makeup palette to my collection because it has been the greatest travel companion this past week. Last week I went home to Newcastle to see friends and fam and whenever I travel back, I pop on a quick 1 hour flight as it is much nicer than the 12+ hour coach trip I used to make! As I fly, I like to pack as light as possible and take clothing, products, and items I only really *know* I'm going to use or need. Therefore when it comes to my makeup choices, I like to pack products that are either multi-functional or have everything in one convenient palette. So in step this blush palette from L.A. Girl Cosmetics.

L.A. Girl Cosmetics are brand I've always been interested in trying but until recently, I thought they weren't cruelty free (turns out they are! Gettup!). So on a recent quick browse on Beauty Bay for some restocking of my fave items, I popped this Beauty Brick Blush Palette in the shade range "Spice" in my basket because it had some good reviews, looked like it had lovely blush shades (especially that dark reddy-pink) that weren't in your face, and at £8 - it was a steal for 4 products. So once it arrived, I quickly ripped off the outer packaging, eager to test the powders out.

The palette itself is a typical budget style of packaging - it's a cheap coated cardboard with one of those pretty pointless skinny mirrors inside. The cardboard isn't flimsy though and the whole palette is streamline which meant I instantly thought it would be a good option for travelling as it wouldn't take up too much space in a case or bag. The palette is a magnetic closure which works just fine and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was a protective film over the powders to keep them clean and prevent breaking. The powders themselves are a good size and are embossed with the words "blush", "bronze", and "highlight" obviously depending on the particular product. Each one feels powdery to the touch but that's not a negative - they don't feel chalky - they just feel like you'd expect a powder to feel. Upon being a heathen and sticking my finger in each product to get an initial swatch, each powder was very pigmented but not ridiculously unrealistic in colour which is something I look for when it comes to my cheek products.

Both of the blush shades are just lovely. The lighter pink shade is very natural and gives you a very realistic flush and colour to the cheeks whereas the darker shade gives you a little added oomph. The darker shade makes me think more of autumnal shades of blush I like so I think I'll be saving this one for the colder months to really get my wear out of it. The contour/bronze shade was described as a "muted mocha" colour and I think that perfectly describes it. I was really surprised at the colour pay-off of this bronzer as it could have had the potential to be muddy upon application or be too orange etc. as a lot of budget bronzers are, but this one somehow manages to avoid those worries.

As you can hopefully see from the swatches below, although the bronzer is definitely warm in it's tone - especially against my very pale skin - it isn't too orange or too dark of a brown and actually gives a really complimentary warm flush of colour to the face. It also isn't too dark to use as a contour so when I travel, I use this shade as a bronzer and contour multi-use shade by using a lighter hand to apply it as my contour and building it up where I want more of a bronze. The two blushers and the bronzer apply smoothly and evenly onto the cheek which was so great for me as sometimes powder products can sit funny on top of my cheeks as I don't wear foundation as a base for them to stick to evenly. All three shades give a lovely velvet matte finish to the skin which blends seamlessly into the skin again, making these shades look very natural.

From top to bottom: L.A. Girl Spice Beauty Brick Blush Palette's highlight shade, bronzer shade, light blush shade, dark blush shade

Weirdly, one of the more negative parts of the reviews I had seen was what actually convinced me to buy the palette and that was about the highlight. I love using and wearing highlighters but I like them to give my skin a natural look. The most blinding I tend to get with my highlight is The Balm's Mary Lou Manizer and even then I only apply a little bit with a very light hand. So when I saw someone complain that this highlight in the palette was far from blinding, I wanted to give it a shot. I typically go for light champagne or warm pearly shades and this one looked like a great colour. As you can hopefully see from the images above, it's actually a really great shade choice for my pale skin as you can barely see it on the swatch on my arm. This got my hopes up as I knew this meant it had a better chance blending into my skin. When applied and worn on the cheek or nose, this highlight is really lovely for anyone who likes a subtle highlight or who likes to tone it down day-to-day for work etc. If you're a pale girl, it's a really nice light champagne shade and doesn't look powdery on the skin. It doesn't sit on top of the skin either meaning it looks more realistic and skin-like once all your makeup has set for the day. It has very small glitter pigments in it so it doesn't look chunky or fake on the cheek and this is one of the very few highlighting powders I've tried that doesn't draw attention to any imperfections or pores it covers.

The highlight does give quite a bit of kick-back when you put your brush into it, but I don't mind this too much. The blush shades and bronzer also have a little kick-back but it is no where near as much as the highlight (this may be because they're matte shades - who knows!). As for longevity, I would say that the bronzer and the darker blush shade stay on the skin really well. I have tested all of the powders on long days and the bronzer and dark blush last a good 8-9 hours on the cheeks without fading whereas the lighter blush fades a little bit. The darker blush can be a little bit fiddlier to apply as it can run the risk of going patchy, so some patience and a light hand applying thin layers is needed. The light blush however is super quick and easy to sweep onto the cheeks so it's a great option for when you're running late or need to just get up, get ready, and go. As the highlight is subtle upon application already, it lasts about 4 hours before dulling down. This doesn't bother me at all because my natural oils tend to give me a natural highlight throughout the day, but if you're a dry skin girl then it might be something to bear in mind!

All in all I'm really impressed with this palette and having used it exclusively on my recent trip up north for a full week, I will definitely be taking it on all future trips. It's easy to pack, it gives you options on colours (the dark blush looks great with nude lips, the light blush with brighter or dark lip shades), and most importantly - it works. The powders are a little on the powdery side and they don't last an insane amount of time, but when each product technically cost just £2, can I really complain?

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August 21, 2017

Denim Dress

Happy Monday! I hope y'all have productive and happy weeks ahead of you - I'm back to work and back to normal life after spending some much needed time at home seeing family and friends. I had a lovely time at home but I'm happy to be getting back to my regular daily life and pleased to have some breathing space. Family are incredibly important to me, but I sometimes find that I feel suffocated visiting home as I never have the chance to do anything for myself - everyone runs around after me which is great for like, 2 hours, but I soon grow frustrated with it (I know, I have a cheek to complain right?).

I've mentioned a couple of times now that I really want to give NB a bit of a revamp and I'm certainly putting the whole thing in motion at the moment. This isn't going to be a flitting change of content etc. over night, but it is something I want to plan out properly and make sure is executed with carefulness too. A blog post last week really stirred up some anger and varying opinions after discussions were had over whether or not something such as beauty blogging is as valid as something that may be deemed a serious issue in society etc. It really got to me because I've always liked to blog about whatever I like, but at the same time, I've always tried to stick to a few categories so my blog doesn't end up too varied - one of those categories being beauty. So I took to Twitter just as many others did, and voiced my opinion. I'm strongly behind the idea that although the blogging world might be incredibly saturated and "busy" with millions of people talking about the same things, we're all unique in our take on said things, our opinions, our writing styles etc. so blogging is also extremely diverse and that's the best thing about it. No two reviews about the same product are the same. No two posts about sustainable fashion are the same. Everything is solely dependent on the author and creator behind each blog and although blogging has become such a *big thing*, that aspect of it has stayed burning brightly throughout it. So I'll say what I said on Twitter again right here - write about what you want, when you want, however you want. Blogs are for the writers first and foremost and no one should ever lose sight of that.

Second Hand Primark Denim Dress (similar) | H&M Hat (similar) |
Primark Embroidered Bag (similar) | Lotta From Stockholm Low Clogs

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August 18, 2017

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Periods

Gang, if you're someone who doesn't like to talk about periods or you think there's a limit to the discussion, today's post will more than likely not be one for you. I've talked about periods briefly only once before on NB; discussing the ways in which I make the whole riding the crimson wave easier and more pleasurable for myself but, I didn't really talk about the taboos and discoveries surrounding menstruation that I've made over the years. There seems to be a menstruation movement in the media in recent years where talking about periods is more widely accepted and encouraged and I could *not* be happier about this. Back when I was a pre-teen to teen, period talk was the bare minimum and the best (and sometimes the only way to find out anything about them) was in teen magazines with those agony aunt sections. Even then, the information presented was often basic, flowery with the language, and never straight to the point. It would cover the fact that you will leak blood for a few days, generalised that every girl and woman would be angry and upset during the whole process, and that was that. Since reading those slightly misguided mags as a 13 year old trying to understand the cycle she would endure for many years to come, I have discovered many more things - some good and some bad - that I just *wish* someone had mentioned to me all those years ago.

Periods are not the same every time. As a teen when I first started my periods, I was honestly led to believe that it would be a "same shit, different month" sort of deal and it absolutely is not. Most of the time my periods are extremely painful and draining for a good 2-3 days, but other times it's 1Ox worse and makes me generally ill - there's no other way to describe it. I also was not aware of the whole irregularity that many women experience and the whole "you will have a period every 28-32 days that will last around 3-5 days" one size fits all claims don't apply to many - including myself. Although I didn't go out of my way to ask if it would be the same each and every time, I feel like it's obvious general knowledge for all women who have experienced it at least a few times so you know, shout it from the rooftops a little more so the younger generation know.

PMS is not the same every time. And it's also not limited to *just* when you're actually *on* your period. Something I was also led to believe as a teen is that PMS would involve being angry, upset and tearful, and "acting crazy" and this was what to expect. When I think of the teen-girl magazines that I got this information from, they should have made more of an effort to explain that everyone is different and each individual might have different experiences from time to time - they certainly should not have fed into the "girls on their periods are crazy" bullshit that a lot of men (and unfortunately women) feel the need to shout into the void. Typically, I get a little bit tearful the week before my period, physically drained and sore/tender in various areas of my body, and my skin acts out and breaks out into extremely painful spots. These are usually "clues" that make me think I might be due soon, but no one prepared me to expect this before the period started. I then feel physically sick, have horrendous cramps and headaches, and generally just feel rough throughout my period so I actually feel pretty damn rotten 2 weeks out of the month. Bliss magazine didn't tell me about that now did they? It's also so important for people to be aware that PMS effects all women completely differently. Some with have physical ailments, some with feel mentally drained, some will be emotionally unavailable - it's such a unique experience for everyone who goes through it and it shouldn't be generalised.

Sometimes you won't have any symptoms and it will be a surprise... sometimes you'll get extra surprises. Once I started to get to grips with the idea that each period could be different each time, I then discovered that sometimes you won't get any warning at all - no PMS, no crying, no nothing. This can happen at the most inconvenient times and it doesn't matter how much you love being a woman and how period positive you can be, you will swear effs and jeffs at your uterus for being such a burden and party pooper. This can happen when you're on public transport, when you're swimming, when you're having sex... Taking it all in your stride is the aim but of course this is easier said than done. If it happens to happen when you're having sex, at least it will tell you a great deal about the character of the person you're sleeping with is all I'm going to say! The other end of it is that you might experience spotting or change in your discharge. Again, not being aware of these things can cause panic and distress but it's completely normal and you can sometimes even experience "mini-periods" where you might have a normal flow for a day then things might resume as normal. Period tracker apps can be a godsend for these surprises as if it something that is happening frequently and it is worrying you, you can view just how frequent it is and speak to someone about it.

You will either shit your guts out and need to do it more than regularly or you will be in a painful constipation coma. This is living, girls.

You will also potentially (probably) become incredibly horny and guess what? Having sex is fab. Periods are always talked about as being some disgusting phase every month that shouldn't be talked about - especially amongst teens I found - so one thing that certainly was never discussed when I was younger was period sex. Having sex on your period might not be for everyone but the important thing here is that it *is* an option and it can be enjoyable. People often curl their nose up at this as they think its gross or messy, but it doesn't have to be. If you're that bothered by it, try it in the shower! But I fully understand that not everyone is okay with the sight of blood, so for those of you who are curious and want to try it, here's a great blog post suggesting some easy ways to prevent period sex replicating *that* scene from The Shining. In all seriousness though, if you're with a partner who thinks its disgusting then I am sorry because your body is doing it's thing, it's going through it's natural process and actually? It's still just you and your body just slightly different for a few days. Period sex can be great as our hormones run high and we can crave sexual activity more than usual (not to mention orgasms can suppress headache pain to boot).

You will stain everything you ever loved. Especially at least a handful of pairs of your "nicest" pants.

There's more to periods than tampons and disposable pads. Fantastically informative period positive bloggers such as Cattitude & Co. and Eco Fluffy Mama are paving the way to educating more of us - young and old - in the ways of period talk and expectations but one area in particular that these two ladies (to name but a few,) are really excelling is raising awareness about disposable products. Disposable products have a shockingly large amount of "bad" ingredients but luckily, more companies and brands are going down an organic and natural route and products such as reusable moon cups and cloth pads are a thing and they're thriving. These options would have been a completely alien concept for me as a teen and I only really recently fully understood what they were, how they work, and the silly stigma surrounding them. There's a lot of different options out there for women to try and feeling confident and comfortable to explore these various options is becoming more accessible and filling us all with more knowledge with is fab.

Your period shouldn't be used against you. When I was younger (and possibly more naive? Who knows), I used to think it was okay for others to blame things on my period. If I was angry, hurt, or upset - oh it's because Amy's got the painters in. Ah, she's just lost her temper - it's because Aunt Flo's visiting. So many jokes are made about women's actions and reactions during "that time of the month" but honestly? I don't find them that funny. This isn't me being a Sensitive Sally here as I strongly believe when so many women can go through such extremely painful, draining, and frankly taxing periods, it's incredibly compassionless and actually demeans a woman's sheer daily strength.

Wanting to cough or sneeze will make you audibly scream "no no no!" every single time.

Day two of having the painters in will always be worse than the day one dread.

Being honest and open about my cycle is much more rewarding and confidence boosting. I would say until the last couple of years, I was actually quite ashamed of my period. I would hide sanitary products on trips to the toilet and certainly wouldn't have a chat about my period with my ex partner beyond the whole "I'm on this week" only to be met with a notification alerting me to the meme about how it was blow job week (I know. Woe is fucking me lads). Nowadays I'm very open about my period in my relationship and various friendships. I work in a predominantly female environment and I'm always so thankful that myself and colleagues tell each other when we're on our periods and when they're particularly causing problems. It makes my work environment more positive and has meant we've shared ideas, tips and tricks for easing cramps and heavy flows. It's also took my relationship to a completely different level because as silly as it may seem, it has created an air of vulnerability on both our behalves as I've been very vocal and Matt has been extremely understanding and eager to further educate himself. It makes the pain of my cycle easier to deal with and also makes instances like having an extremely heavy flow whilst out for date day lunch (sorry jeans, you were destroyed) something to react lightheartedly about by his side instead of apologising and feeling embarrassed.

Leaking is just something that happens and sometimes it just can't be avoided.

I feel like I could waffle on about this for so much longer and there's bound to be things I wanted to say that I'll only remember long after this post went live, but I think openly talking about menstrual cycles and the way they effect us is so important as it can be eye-opening and can produce valuable knowledge for not just women but friends, family, partners, and employers of said women. Some of us have unfortunately had pretty shoddy education on the topic at school, from parents, and from similarly clueless friends at the time it was most vital to learn, but now that it's becoming a wider topic in social discussions and stigma surrounding periods is slowly fizzling away, I hope people can see the great side to them and appreciate that talking about them only makes us more comfortable, accepting, and educated.

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August 16, 2017

Some Current Fave Face Masks

Happy Hump Day gang! Today I thought I'd share with you some of my current favourite face masks as it's been a long ol' time since I shared a post like this. Recently, my skin has generally been in pretty good condition for me, but I've been fighting some stubborn spots that have been hanging around and not fading, so I've been using some pretty damn good masks to try and fade the current and battle any future spots. I love all these masks I'm going to mention, but I love them all for very different reasons. So let's talk about why I love each one:

Oh K! Sleep Mask | 2Oml | £4.Oo - I've talked about this absolute joy of a mask on NB before, but it's still a favourite and one I use more than a few times weekly. The Oh K! sleep mask is really affordable and contrary to the packaging claims, I have gotten around 15-2O uses out of one 2Oml sachet so they're so good for cost per use. I apply this just as the brand instruct - just before bed to clean and dry skin. It's got a gorgeous smell and smooths over the skin gently cooling the skin briefly and feels extremely hydrating instantly. It takes a little while to sink in and depending on how thick of a layer you apply, the mask can sit on top of the skin but it isn't sticky or uncomfortable. I use this when my skin is looking tired, drained, or if I have any dry areas of skin (particularly after a bad breakout). The next morning, my face always looks plump, so much clearer in terms of blemishes, and has a great deal of deep moisture to it which doesn't make me excessively oily. I will always repurchase this mask but I just *wish* they'd bring out much bigger jars or bottles of it!

Pilgrim 55 Organic Black Charcoal and Liquorice Scrub Mask* | 6Oml-12Oml | £9.99 - £12.99 - Pilgrimm 55 are a skincare brand that are relatively new to me but after reviewing a few of their products last month, I'm happy to say I'm still using and loving the products I reviewed. This charcoal and liquorice mask is great for detoxifying the skin and is my current go-to choice when I'm facing problem/blemished skin but also facing sensitivity as this mask is surprisingly gentle on the skin. I love how natural this mask's ingredients are and the mask is incredibly comfortable to wear as it never dries down properly and doesn't make the skin feel tight or pulled. After using this mask, my skin instantly looks a bit brighter and more awake and then the next morning I also see a positive effect on my oil production and my acne. Although this is described as a "scrub mask", it is very gentle and makes the skin incredibly soft. If you want a mask that is super easy and nice to use and from a brand that are environmentally conscious
and cruelty free, try this one.

The Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask | 75ml | £16.Oo - Okay okay guys, I love this mask and have sang it's praises before, but it's still a firm favourite. This mask is my heavy duty option and is the one I reach for when I need instant results and my skin needs a lot of TLC. The charcoal element of this mask totally gets rid of my excess oil and helps minimise my spots almost instantly. It dries down and is quite difficult to wash off but once you've scrubbed it off with a flannel, it buffs the skin to baby softness and makes your skin glow. It is a lovely face mask to use as it feels very luxury considering the reasonable price point and it has never failed to make my skin look more radiant and cared-for than before the application. I use this once a week when I feel I *really* need it and it rejuvenates my skin so I don't look so goddamn tired.

Although I often look for masks that can help with my oily, spot-prone skin, in recent months I've dabbled more and more with ones that promise the glow, nourished skin, and deep moisture. If you have any you'd recommend that you love, help a girl out and hit me up with your recommendations!

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August 14, 2017

Summer Dress-ing

As you guys are reading this, I'm frantically throwing the rest of my stuff into my suitcase for a glorious week back at home up north to see friends and family. As my current job runs over the school summer holidays, I'm not sharing the delight of the six weeks holidays like fellow teachers, so I'll take a week at home instead. It's my little brother's 16th birthday this week and I just can't believe he will be heading into sixth form in the next few weeks! The time has honestly flew by and I'm so proud to call myself his sister as he's turning into an incredibly witty, intelligent, unconditionally caring, and downright funny young man. I'm looking forward to treating him for his birthday (and also being a horrible big sister and making him do chores around the house that my mam let's him avoid). I'm also super looking forward to seeing my mam and just generally spending some time with my family. Living down south is absolutely grand and I love my job and where I live etc., but the amount I miss home is unreal at times so I just can't wait to be back in the frozen north.

I've purchased a new film camera too so I'm excited to get out and about and get some (hopefully) lovely photographs of the beauty countryside and of course, the stunning architecture, in and around Durham and Newcastle.

Second Hand Summer Dress | Asos Fedora (similar) |
Poor Boy Vintage via Asos Marketplace Saddle Bag (similar) | Truffle via Boohoo Clogs (similar)

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