7 Reasons why ‘detox diets’ are nothing more than a bunch of toxic lies

If you, like me, are ALREADY starting to see January detox and diet talk online, here is a blog post filled with everything you should need to help you ignore it all. With over 13 million posts hashtagged with #detoxtime on Instagram and brands, newspapers and magazines still pushing the ‘new year diet’ agenda, it’s fair to say that detox culture is still hanging on, despite the best efforts of more progressive magazines, webzines and internet users.

If you’re in any doubt as to whether or not the concept of ‘detoxing’ is something you should be buying into, here’s a fact to get you started: Detox is the process by which the liver and kidneys remove toxins that enter the body through eating, drinking, breathing etc, and flushes them out via urine and sweat. Bowel movements also play their part. There is no other form of detox that takes place in the body. No detox tea is ever going to ‘suck’ toxins out of you, it’s just a straight up lie, and you cannot ‘stimulate’ the liver to work more efficiently (at least not by using starvation techniques or drinking juice). Making yourself go to the toilet more often doesn’t mean that your body is ‘flushing’ toxins out. The one and only way to efficiently detox is to have a healthy liver and kidneys. So anyway, lets debunk some myths:

1. Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses force your body to deal with extremely high levels of sugar with no fibre, fat, protein or complex carbs to actually nourish your body. Whether it’s lemon juice with maple syrup, or a selection of various vegetable juices mixed with ‘superfood extracts’, it makes no difference. Fresh juice contains vitamins and minerals, but you’d consume less sugar if you just ate gummy vitamins (please don’t do that either). 

2. Detox Teas

Detox teas are even worse than juice cleanses. Some of them contain unregulated levels of laxatives and diuretics that will dehydrate you and stop nutrients and real medicines from being absorbed, and can upset the balance of gut bacteria in your digestive system, just like with any bout of the runs. Other detox teas just do absolutely nothing other than cost you a lot of money. Again, they might contain healthy nutrients and be better for you than a sugary coffee, but they do not do anything to ‘detox’ your body. Purging is not detox. 

3. Diets

Detox diets generally rely on you starving yourself and eating lots of leafy salads. And restrictive, temporary diets have been proven, time and time again, to be completely and utterly ineffective. A healthy diet full of veg, wholegrains and freshly prepared food is great, a crash diet is literally one of the worst things you can do, not just to your body, but also to your poor mind.

4. Drinking water to get clearer skin

Water does not ‘flush toxins out of your skin’. When you’re hydrated you sweat more – this sweat forms one half of the oil-water barrier that protects your skin. If there isn’t enough water to make sweat, your skin produces more oil to compensate. This is the only reason why your skin can start to look clearer if you drink more water. Too much oil = spots. More water to sweat = less oil. 

5. Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal absorbs certain poisons from the digestive tract in medical emergencies, but charcoal taken as a ‘detox supplement’ absorbs vital nutrients and some medicines too. Charcoal is good on the skin, but it does nothing for your health if you ingest it, and can actually damage your health by absorbing things that are actually good for you. 

6. Detox ‘symptoms’

Something really awful that detox advocates will talk about are the ‘symptoms’ of detox. They’ll tell you that having an upset stomach, no energy, nausea, headaches, shakes, bad skin, anxiety, flu-like symptoms, are all signs that your ‘detox diet’ is working. This is a big fuckin’ lie. People who give up certain addictive drugs or alcohol go through this when their bodies start to remove those substances. But it’s their bodies, the normal liver-kidney function, that are removing the substances, and it’s the withdrawal from the drugs that makes them feel terrible. It has nothing to do with a damn juice cleanse. If you feel like crap when you do a detox diet it’s because your body is starving and probably overloaded with sugar. It is not healthy.

7. Unhealthy attitudes

The idea of ‘indulge in December then detox in January’ is dangerously close to ‘binge then purge’ and it is not a healthy way for anyone to think. There are people who can’t help but think this way because of eating disorders. Stop making it harder for everyone, stop reinforcing detox culture. Hide the diet ads you see. Don’t buy skinny teas. Unfollow the celebs that sell them. Don’t talk about feeling ‘fat’ and needing to ‘detox’. It is not healthy. The only reason ‘January detox’ exists is to sell us stuff, it’s not for your health. 

Let yourself live

Detox culture is toxic. It’s unsustainable. Making REAL healthy changes like eating nutritions food (no judgement on what the food is, a pizza has more nutrients in it than a bowl of lettuce after all), and drinking more water isn’t interesting, doesn’t make for great marketing material, and certainly doesn’t make you better than anyone else. But if you want to help support your body’s natural detox functions, being well hydrated and getting lots of nutrients though your food really is all you need to do. Love yourself, enjoy winter, have a happy 2019, and ignore marketing messages that prey on your insecurities, because you don’t deserve to put your body through this all.

Further reading…

If you want to know more about detox, and just why exactly it’s a giant scam, here are a few links you might like to read:

https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-one-thing-you-need-to-know-before-you-detox/

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/detoxes-cleanses

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/detox-diets-101

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox



How to make the most out of winter

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been experiencing a really weird mix of festive joy and SAD-induced low moods since winter hit this year. I wanted to try and combat this by attempting to take my depression by the horns and focus on embracing and enjoying life, so I wrote out a few ideas for making the most of the next couple of months. And I thought, well, I have a blog, I may as well share! I hope you find some inspo here, from self care to self improvement, fun social ideas and yummy treats. 

Make a seasonal wreath

I know Christmas is almost upon us, but I don’t see why a winter wreath has to be exclusively a Christmas Day thing. It’s a perfect way to bring some nature into your home, in a stylish kind of way. There are wreath making sessions all over the country that you could go to, but what I did instead was buy a handmade wooden wreath at a craft fair, and do it up a bit by adding holly leaves and painting bits of it gold. It looks lovely and wintery up in my flat!

Start a creative home project

This could involve upcycling old picture frames, making a macrame plant hanger, painting some plant pots to look cute and trendy, or even organising your books and DVDs by colour to make a striking feature out of your bookshelves. You could hand make candles or bath products, or dry out some oranges and make pot-pourri. Basically everything on Pinterest. In fact Pinterest is probably your best starting point – create a board with all the projects you would genuinely like to do, and work your way through them! 

Learn something new at home

Short, cold days mean spending more time indoors for most of us – a weekend trip or a night out can really lose their appeal when it’s dark, raining and bitingly cold. Instead, why not invest some time into learning a new skill you can practice at home, perhaps even on your sofa? I’m about to start learning BSL using an at-home course which I’m really excited about! But you could start sketching, doing embroidery, learning a coding language, photography, photoshop, woodworking, making model planes, knitting, baking, yoga, indoor gardening… so many of these things get written off as ‘millennial grandma’ activities but hell, both my grandmas are/were awesome. And actually, innocent hobbies like these are fucking FANTASTIC for your mental health (less innocent hobbies are also included! Doesn’t have to be PG to be good for you). Of course they won’t cure you, and if you have depression you’ll probably abandon a few along the way (hi, me). But carrots don’t make you see in the dark either, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat your veggies, right?

Socialising

On the complete flip side of the last point, is this. Making plans with others and sticking to them is one of the key ways that Norwegian people get through their long, dark winters. I certainly have a tendency to hibernate in winter, which I’m determined to stop doing! It helps to structure your days, get you out of the house, and spend some time laughing and smiling with others. So look up fun free/cheap things to do near you and invite a few friends along! It doesn’t matter if this isn’t something you do very often – so many people are lonely these days that your friends are more than likely aching for extra human contact too. If you really are isolated, and you genuinely don’t have anyone to ask to go out, try the friend section of Bumble or join Meetup.com to find new people. 

Volunteering

Look up opportunities in your area – you could work in the warehouse of your local foodbank, do social media outreach for a local charity, organise clothing collections or meet up with isolated elderly people for a cup of tea. The volunteering world always needs eager, friendly and kind people to give their time, and to give it unconditionally. Also, with the decimation of our social services, many jobs in the health, social care and justice services that were previously paid are now volunteer positions, which is disgraceful, but if you have the time, that’s the only way many vulnerable people will ever get the help they need. And if all else fails, I don’t think there’s a charity shop in the country that will turn you away from a stint volunteering as a sales assistant! 

Bake stuff!

Life’s too short for bullshit January detoxes, diet culture and food shaming. Winter is a time for enjoying wholesome home baked goods, and in our household we plan on embracing this completely! I’ve been enjoying making gingerbread this year, and I think I’m going to try ginger biscuits and maybe even my first ever fruitcake too. James has been perfecting a danish pastries, and he’s gotten really good at them! Here’s a Pinterest board full of yummy treats you might like to try – lots of vegan ones in there too. 

Read! 

If you’re already in the habit of reading, that’s great, but if not, here are some tips. Reorganise your space so that there’s a lamp nearby, which will mean you can read comfortably. Phones and computers can be read easily with a light halfway across the room, but the same can’t be said for books, so make sure your space is adapted for it. Set aside one or two of your evenings in each week where you don’t open your laptop or do extra work. Put music on as soon as you walk through the door, and eat dinner without turning the telly on, because you’re guaranteed to get sucked in if you do! There are so many distractions that it really can be hard for a lot of people to get in the habit of reading, but this should help you make a start. 

Rewatch your favourite films

Buy some snacks, make some popcorn, stock up on DVDs or downloads, light some candles, snuggle under a blanket and shamelessly spend a weekend rewatching every feel-good film you’ve ever loved. Not to bang on about Pinterest, but I do find it particularly useful for organising my thoughts, and I’ve actually created a surprisingly pretty board to remind myself of all the films I enjoy – here’s the link if you want to check it out!

Get outdoors

Not to get all ‘Cordially Invited’ on you, but yes, enjoying the outdoors during winter is GREAT. A winter walk is bracing, beautiful, and fantastic if you suffer from SAD. A walk that doesn’t involve too many slopes is ideal if you want something relaxed, because there’s less risk of slipping on ice (we used to go walk around a beautiful reservoir called Carsington Water when I was a kid, really chilled out but absolutely beautiful). Or you could go ALL the way, rent out some winter hiking gear and attempt Ben Nevis like we did last March 😉 Here is a website full of accessible walks if you or a friend/family member has a disability too: Walks With Wheelchairs

Cook some seasonal yummyness 

I like to keep things fresh and seasonal, and find that it keeps me interested in cooking when SAD and depression take their toll. Of course, James takes over when things get really shit, and makes us yummy, healthy comfort food. Here’s my food Pinterest board for some inspo, I absolutely love using Pinterest to find new and interesting seasonally appropriate meals! 

Declutter and tidy

I recently read an article in Breathe Magazine about a scientific study that was done on cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and its relationship to mess. Cortisol rises throughout the day when you’re at work, and in the study, people who came home to a tranquil, clean environment saw their cortisol levels fall as the evening went on. People who came back to a messy flat did not experience a fall in cortisol levels, and instead their stress levels stayed the same until they went to bed. Having a tidy space does really make you feel better. If you can (i.e. if you aren’t depressed or ill) get up and tidy the area you spend most of your time! Especially in winter when we do spend so much time indoors, being in a pleasant environment is super important. 

8 lovely, simple ways to embrace autumn this year

I don’t know about you but I love autumn. Knitwear, hot chocolate, an excuse to fill my flat with candles and spend evenings reading under a pile of blankets… But more than this, it’s the natural, seasonal changes that I love the most. Darker evenings, crisp mornings, the turning leaves, seasonal vegetables (especially apples, I love in-season apples). There’s a huge trend on Instagram at the moment about embracing seasonality, and I really think it’s wonderful – it inspires people to get out and enjoy nature in different ways, depending on the time of year. Spending time in nature is phenomenally good for our wellbeing, so I thought I would share some of my favourite ways to embrace autumn, but not just outdoors: indoors too (because let’s face it, those cosy evenings inside are THE BEST).

IMG_8763.JPG

Get crafty with a cosy homemade project

Recently I’ve spent a few evenings upcycling a rarely-worn jumper into two cuddly hot water bottle covers, and I’ve also made several vanilla and cinnamon soy candles – I used vanilla extract and cinnamon powder, which smells UNREAL. It’s not that much cheaper to make your own candles really, especially if you use baking ingredients for the scent. But it’s incredibly satisfying and there’s less waste when you’re reusing using old candle glasses. There are so many other things you could try as well – did you know that Flying Tiger (or Tiger? Not sure what they’re called now) sell watercolour colouring books? So you don’t have to be able to draw to use watercolours! And there are dozens of embroidery kits out there too, which is something I’ve got my eye on right now. Whatever crafts you choose, it’s really good to spend a little bit of time focused on creating something. And if you’re feeling daring you could always make a coffee table like I did last month 😉

IMG_8931.jpg

Seek out seasonal foods…

…and cook with them, of course! Supermarkets make it easy nowadays, there’s always a union flag on products that have been produced in the UK. Plus, here’s a great website to help you find seasonal foods. Apples are in season now in the UK, I really have a soft spot for seasonal apples because my family used to grow and sell them. But butternut squash, leeks, kale, shallots, beetroots and more are also all in season in autumn too so get cooking!

Try baking something cosy too

Gingerbread loaf, apple pie, pumpkin tart, carrot cake, cinnamon apple cake, honey cakes… are you salivating yet? I certainly am. It’s not just the joy of eating baked goods of course, it’s also the process of baking that gets you into the autumnal spirit. The spices, chopping and stirring, the oven making everything warm, the smell of a cake as it cooks… it’s all so homely! I love it.

Find a cosy book to curl up with 

There’s the obvious, but still lovely choice of Autumn by Ali Smith, or a modern classic like The Night Watch by Sarah Waters. An exciting new release like Melmoth by Sarah Perry or a brilliant work that’s stood the test of time like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (one of my all time faves). I mean, let’s face it, autumn is the perfect time to spend a rainy day reading that book you’ve always meant to read, with rain hammering against the windows and a hot chocolate in your hand. Here’s another blog post I wrote about brilliant books everyone should read, to get you even more inspired!

img_8777.jpg

Make more plans 

A tried and true method that Norwegians use to get through the dark (and in Norway it gets reeeeally dark) months of autumn and winter is to make plenty of plans. You don’t need to have a buzzing social life or huge friendship group to do this so if you’re socially anxious don’t panic! Just make plans to do specific things with people you like, with your partner, and even with yourself. It will get you out of the house, and make you feel like you’re making the most of your time.

img_8856.jpg

Make your home a nice place to be

Making your home a nice place to be is essential during autumn and winter, so that you can really feel relaxed and at ease when the weather is raging outside. There’s a reason that Scandinavians take their homes seriously, and this is it – you need a good base camp to cope with cold, stormy weather. When you’re out on a cold walk, or your feet are soaking from the rain, or you’re at work with a winder cold, you need to know that you have a cosy space to come back to. The first step is to make sure your home is actually warm. Even if you’re renting and can’t really control the insulation or heating system, there are things you can do such as using blackout curtains, which will keep the heat in at night, and picking up some insulating strips to use on doors and windows. Next, get yourself some candles. Nothing makes a home cosier than candles! Wilko do a great selection of affordable ones, or if you live near an Ikea, go wild in their candle section too! Lastly: blankets. Don’t skimp on the blankets. And some soft, brushed cotton bedding, too! James and I have just bought this set, because we live right next to one of London’s deer parks and we can watch the deer grazing from our living room window, so it seems appropriate! Wilko, again, have a fantastic selection of cosy blankets and bedding, and they’re great quality for the price, too. You don’t have to spend a fortune on making your home a cosy, calm space. Even just tidying up can do wonders for that ‘hygge’ feeling!

IMG_8857 2.JPG

Go for an autumn walk

Not to get too simplistic on you here, but if you haven’t yet then get to your nearest botanical garden, nature reserve or park and enjoy the changing leaves, look for squirrels and breathe in that autumnal air. An autumn walk is a magical thing, just make sure you dress appropriately – bring a bag that will fit your coat in if you get too warm, but also bring along a waterproof, gloves and extra socks, because autumn gets cold, it gets wet, and it gets unexpectedly warm too. If you’re well prepared, you’ll be able to enjoy it no matter what. Also – here is a directory of accessible walks across the UK, for people who are disabled.

IMG_8948.jpg

Get in the bath

Of course, it wouldn’t be autumn without a hot, candlelit bath, and it wouldn’t be my blog without me recommending one, would it?! Check out this other post I wrote about the best bath products I’ve ever used (out of like, hundreds of products guys, when it comes to baths I do not mess around).

Happy autumn everyone!

 

12 of the best tips for staying cool in the heat

This blog post goes out to all my fellow wilting Brits (and anyone of any other nationality who lives here and has acclimatised to our usual rainy drudgery). We’re struggling right now. It’s rough.

IMG_6374

I felt like I was gonna faint when I took this photo and it was literally 10am

I’ve found it strangely hard to find good, practical advice about staying cool in the heat. I think this is probably because apart from Northern Europe, we’re the only country that has this problem because everywhere else is well prepared, with aircon and homes that are designed to let heat out in the summer. It’s really, really tough to not be able to cool down. I’m finding that my anxiety is getting worse, and I know other people are struggling in even worse ways. So I spent a little while compiling advice from various sources in the hopes that you’ll find some things that actually work for you.

1. Damp face cloths

Not the most glamorous or tidy option, but keeping a few damp washcloths in a bowl in the fridge is a lifesaver when you need to cool down quickly. Just get them out, and lay it over the back of your neck, on your forehead, or use a few and lay them over your arms and legs. If you do this just before you get into bed, it should help keep you cool enough to drop off to sleep.

2. Keep fizzy and still water in the fridge

It’s absolutely essential to keep cold water in the fridge in heat like this. So refreshing and quenching! I find that too many fizzy drinks make my teeth feel furry, but I love the refreshing feeling of the fizz, so I keep fizzy water in the fridge, though obviously that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Whatever you drink, make sure you have enough of it for your wee to be pale. If it isn’t, you aren’t drinking enough.

IMG_6661.JPG

At least these echinacea are loving the weather

3. Windows at dawn

If you can sleep with your windows open, I’ll assume you’re doing it already. If you can’t, set an alarm for 5am, open them all up, and go back to bed. Your home will be much cooler when you wake up to start the day. Likewise, when you go out, close your curtains and leave the windows open as far as you safely can.

4. Cool the breeze

At night, hang a damp tea towel in front of any breeze you might be able to create (whether from a fan or an open window). This drastically cools the air down, but because tea towels are so thin it doesn’t stop the breeze from getting to you. You can also use a length of a thin fabric like muslin.

IMG_6357.JPG

Maybe you could stay cool if you lived in this topiary hide?

5. Wear white when you go out

Yeah we’re at that stage of heat where I no longer think this is a ridiculously middle aged thing to do. Cover up in white. Get yourself a linen shirt or trousers. It really, REALLY makes all the difference.

6. Use a black umbrella as a parasol

See above. Nuff said.

7. Get dramatic

Wet a large towel with cold water, wring it out, then lie on the floor underneath it and fan yourself with a stiff piece of card. If anyone sees you, who gives a fuck. It’s hot as balls.

8. Ice water bottle

Half fill a hot water bottle with water, then stick it in the freezer. About half an hour before bed, take it out and put it in your bed, to cool your sheets. Then, cuddle the bottle like you would in the winter, or if you’re like me, rest your feet on it. Just wrap it in a towel first!

IMG_6517.JPG

Limiting activity and taking lots of breaks is also a good way to cope in hot weather, but it’s just no fun

9. Water sprays

When I worked in central London, in an office with no air con, we kept a supply of Caudalie Grape Water in the fridge and sprayed it ALL THE TIME. You can do this with Avene Thermal Water or any other brand that sells the big sizes of aerosol cans, or you can just get a couple of spray bottles from a garden centre, fill them with tap water and spray them all over your face, neck, chest, arms and legs whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed from the heat.

10. A cold ending

When you’re showering (if you’re anything like me this is certainly happening more frequently than usual), gradually turn the temperature of the water down, until by the end of the shower it’s completely cold. When I was in the Amazon we only had freezing cold water and I found it HORRIBLE to have that jolt of cold when the shower turned on. If you like that feeling, then go ahead and have a fully cold shower, but I can’t stand it, so I let it happen gradually instead.

IMG_6045.JPG

Literally two seconds away from just jumping in tbh

11. Sleep under a wet sheet

At this point, pretty much everything we’ve been taught about not getting things wet incase they get mildew has gone out of the window. Even if your mattress gets wet, it won’t stay wet in this weather. So if you’re really struggling to sleep, take a sheet, get it wet, and sleep under it. Apparently this is what the Egyptians used to do! Just maybe put a towel underneath you to limit how much your mattress does get soaked.

12. And finally, don’t leave the house without…

A spare pair of socks and baby powder if you have to wear shoes to work.

Sunscreen (you need to be wearing this every day now, without fail, this is holiday weather).

Deodorant.

Your favourite thigh-rub remedy if needed.

Flip flops for your journey to and from work.

A mini water spritz (Caudalie, Avene, Evian and Mario Badescu do good mini sizes).

A massive bottle of water.

Blister plasters.

And a hand held or makeshift fan.

Good luck! Together we might survive climate change for a few more years 🙂 

Spring Clean with KINN* – toxin free, natural products for body and home!

Thinking about doing a bit of spring cleaning? Perhaps you’ve read the recent news stories about household cleaning products being an underestimated source of air pollution? Or maybe you heard about the new research, which has found that women are more likely to experience respiratory illnesses due to inhaling cleaning products over extended periods of time? Not long ago I tweeted about how looking after your home is a form of self care, but how can it be when the products required to clean a home are so dangerous? These news stories really left me feeling a bit despondent.  Luckily for me, when these stories were published, I had been invited to try a new, non-toxic and organic lifestyle brand called KINN… and trust me, you’ll want to learn all about this amazing brand too!

Four bottles. One is a body lotion bottle, one is a bath oil, one is a kitchen cleaner and one is washing up liquid. there are two plants behind them.

KINN products are non-toxic, vegan, and have fully traceable ingredients (which is something that very few brands actually have). The brand was created by mother-daughter duo Marie and Sophie, who set out with the aim of creating products for the body and home that would be enjoyable and effective to use, without doing damage to the consumer or the environment. I’ve tried four KINN products so far, two from their cleaning range and two from their body care range, and have been absolutely delighted with every single one of them!

Two bottles sit on top of three cookbooks. The bottles are washing up liquid and kitchen cleaner in modern, clean packaging. A plant is next to them.

Eco Friendly Kitchen Cleaner – £3.50

This is without a doubt the best cleaning spray I’ve ever used. It’s anti-bacterial but not in the same way that Dettol is anti-bacterial – instead of horrific chemicals, KINN use rosemary and lavender extracts to kill off unwanted germs sustainably. The scent is absolutely beautiful, a clean rosemary scent, and it cuts through dirt to leave surfaces absolutely sparkling clean. I actually really do not like cleaning, but the gorgeous scent of this stuff, and how satsfying it is to just absolutely blast through kitchen worktops, the hob, cubboard doors etc with this stuff makes it so much more enjoyable.

Eco Friendly Washing Up Liquid – £3.50

Easily the best washing up liquid I’ve ever used. Although in this country, everything that goes down the drain is heavily treated before being released back into the ecosystem, I do know that your water company’s job is made a lot harder when weird chemicals go into the mix. So when I put things down the drain, I prefer them to be as natural as possible. This is an absolutely brilliant washing up liquid, it’s so effective, it’s kind to my hands and smells wonderful; those lavender and rosemary extracts again.

Two white bottles sit on a white tile in front of two green plants. The bottles are of body lotion and bath oil.

Organic Body Lotion – £18

This body lotion is absolutely stunning, and is 90.9% organic, amazingly. The scent is ylang ylang and lavender, with orange in there too to lift it up. The base is sunflower seed, shea and cocoa butter which makes it rich, but absorbs really beautifully. And there’s aloe vera in there too which gives it a gorgeously soothing feel as you massage it in. A little goes a very long way too, and I find that when I use it after I shave my legs, it completely prevents any dryness from occurring, which is a recurring problem for me with shaving – so it’s clearly an amazing body lotion if it can treat that!

Organic Bath Oil – £28

This might actually be my favourite product of the four I’ve tried. It’s not like any other bath oil I own, which have very herbal scents like arnica, pine or rosemary. This is a delicate, uplifting scent that put me in a good mood as soon as I poured it in. The scent comes from tangerine oil, lavender and ylang ylang and it’s just so lovely. The oil blend is composed of sweet almond, grape seed, avocado and sunflower seed oils which are very good for nourishing the skin, but they are all very easily absorbed meaning it doesn’t make your bath or your skin oily. There’s added vitamin E for extra skin-loving nutrients. Every time I have a bath in this I just do not want to get out, ever! The oil is 100% natural and 99.5% organic too. It doesn’t get better than that.

I hope you enjoyed reading about KINN, this brand has been an absolute revelation to me and I can’t believe how much I enjoy using their home cleaning products! They have lots of other gorgeous sounding products too, including a body oil and body wash, a bathroom cleaner and a floor wash. I really want to try their body wash, it sounds divine!! You can buy KINN products on their website here, or they are also available in Waitrose.

 

 

Knixwear: The Most Empowering Bras In The World! #ad

The topic of bras has always been a bit of a minefield for feminists, and it’s not hard to see why. Bras are often uncomfortable, horrendously impractical and outrageously expensive. So much focus is given to how bras (and the breasts in them) look, that most companies seem to have forgotten that the people wearing them have ribcages, plain t-shirts and active daily routines. It’s difficult to know what to do, when you know that this happens because of the objectification of women, but you also know that you need the support of a proper bra. Or it was, until an amazing brand popped up in Canada and changed everything…

Knixwear is a feminist company that makes bras, pants, loungewear and tank tops designed with actual human women in mind. Their products are extremely comfortable, flexible, and made to fit a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They move with you, instead of constraining you, which is something all clothes should do, but thanks to sexism, throughout history, women’s clothes never truly have.

knix_8_in_1_bra_2.jpg

Knix very kindly sent me their signature 8-in-1 Evolution Bras to try out, and I have to say that it delivered on every single claim they make. They began with a mission to make ‘the most comfortable bra ever’ and I really do believe it is. It’s so comfortable I keep forgetting I’m wearing it! The support is effective, but subtle; it doesn’t push your cleavage up under your chin, but it keeps everything right where it should be – for me the shape it gives is like a firmer, higher version of my natural breast shape, which I really love. The bra is reversible, seamless and wireless, but because of the brilliantly engineered material, it still has ‘cups’ so you don’t get that annoying single-boob look of other non-wired, crop top bras. You can run for a bus in it, you can bend forward in it; everything stays just where it should. I even tested it out in Yoga sessions and it performed flawlessly. Wearing this bra, I do feel truly empowered because I know it was made specifically to meet my needs, as a human being with a pair of breasts.

knixwear_8_in_1_bra_1.jpg

Not only does Knix prove itself by selling the most comfortable bra in the world, you can see their empowering ideals shine through in all the products they make. You can get a pair of thigh savers to beat the chafe, leak-proof underwear that looks exactly the same as normal underwear and super comfy looking loungewear with POCKETS!! …Everything in their range looks fantastic, is there to make women’s lives more comfortable, and to make underwear shopping a fuss-free experience.

IMG_0984.JPG

So there you have it, I’ve actually found a bra that makes me feel like a valued human being, and to me, that’s true empowerment. No more angry red marks around my breasts at the end of the day. No more tight shoulders. No more boob sweat. No more underwire (!!!) No more poking my ribs as soon as I sit down. Hello to comfort, real support, and never having to think about how irritating my bra is ever again. Hello Knixwear!!!

This post was very kindly sponsored by Knixwear but every opinion expressed is my own. 

A Gender Neutral Valentine’s Gift Guide For 2018

It’s that time again! I’ve thought a lot about Valentine’s Day over the years and I’ve realised that just like with weddings and engagements, my problem isn’t with the thing itself, it’s how unbearably performative and consumerist they are. How we love doesn’t have to be controlled by outside forces; and what other people think and expect should never be a part of how you express your love for each other.

gender_neutral_valenties_gift_guide.jpg

But there simply isn’t very much inspiration out there for people who don’t want to browse through ‘for her’ and ‘for him’ gift guides which rarely feature anything your wonderful, unique partner would actually like. The decision to put something in a gendered gift guide is limited by the necessity that the things are masculine or feminine, and I think that’s a terrible way to choose a gift for your lover. So I thought I would try to help by providing some ideas for you to express your love with a thoughtful, unique and gender free gift! Throughout this guide, I’ve suggested a mix of luxury brands and smaller independent brands, so you can choose what kind of ‘special’ you want your gift to be!

All-Blankets_1024x1024

© Tartan Blanket Company 2018

A cosy blanket for snuggling under. I think these Tartan Blanket Company blankets are just absolutely delightful, and you can even get ones made out of 30% recycled fabric, which is awesome! They come in every colour type imaginable too so whatever your, and/or your lover’s home looks like you can find something that will be perfect!

il_570xN.1356546191_pe7m (1)

© Bloomtown UK

A massage oil or bar. Who doesn’t love a massage from their significant other? A luxurious oil, together with the promise that you’ll both get plenty of use out of it, is the perfect gift. There are so many different choices when it comes to scents and textures, but I think Bloomtown Botanicals has to be up there with the best. Their massage oils come in a variety of scents so you can pick one you know you’ll both love. One of my personal favourite massage oils is Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment which smells floral and heady without being sweet. It also leaves the skin phenomenally soft. If you want something with less packaging though, try a massage bar instead. Lush are definitely the masters of the massage bar, so check them out!

retina

© Life of Spice

Fancy herbs and spices. If your lover loves to cook, this is a great gift for them. Life of Spice make the most amazing herb and spices, both single and mixes and they’re available in sets too. I love the little tins they come in as well, very practical and cool looking.

AW17-Thought-Clothing-Sustainable-Socks-950x507.1506426723

© Thought

Some really nice socks. Everyone talks about how socks are a super boring gift but seriously, have you put new socks on recently? It’s the BEST. Especially if they’re fancy, not a multipack from H&M. I don’t know about you but I wear my socks until they resemble a string vest because for some reason, buying myself new socks is an adult chore I’ve just never gotten into. Socks are a great gift, and I love the brand Thought for their sustainable selection which includes bamboo, wool and cotton. There’s a tonne of designs to choose from too!

il_570xN.1357271387_kr2o

© Rustic Retro Furniture

A Bath Caddy. Does your love enjoy long soaks in the bath? A bath caddy is the perfect gift for anyone who likes to read in the bath too as there’s space for a book, candle and drink. They aren’t as expensive as I expected either, and this one from Etsy is really affordable, and has amaaaaazing reviews!

il_570xN.1234606496_tfad

© Emina Botanic Boutique 2018

Bath Salts. If you read my blog you should know there was no way I would ever not recommend buying someone a nice bath product. And if your love doesn’t have access to a bath, or doesn’t like them, what about a gorgeous body scrub? Soothed muscles and soft skin are a great gift to give someone you love. One of the best body scrubs to give as a gift is Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Scrub which contains pumice and bamboo suspended in a thick, geranium scented gel. It’s absolutely beautiful and very luxurious. If you’re looking for a luxurious bath oil, go for Olverum – it’s one of the oldest bath products in the world and has an absolutely stunning rosemary scent. If you’d like something by a small-maker, Emina Botanic Boutique does a gorgeous range of bath salts, as well as a Grapefruit Body Scrub. Or if your lover likes to exercise, what about this post-workout relaxation kit from Golden Rooster Balms? I also love the look of these Himalayan Bath Salts, it has jasmine and green tea in it! Can you imagine how soothing that must be? I think I might just treat myself to that one…

IMG_0951.JPG

An amazing cookbook. Another one for people who love to cook, or someone who wants to cook more from scratch. I cannot recommend Anna Jones highly enough, her recipes are beyond delicious and very nutritious in a ‘taste comes first’ kind of way. She uses ingredients and combinations that may seem unfamiliar at first, but will quickly become staples in your home because of how easy to make, and utterly delicious they are. I have all three of her books, A Modern Way to Cook, A Modern Way to Eat and The Modern Cook’s Year and any of the three is a great choice.

il_570xN.981991334_s0mn

© James Barker Draws

A cactus, succulent or houseplant. What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than adopting  a baby together? Just kidding. But still, everyone needs more plants in their life (unless you’re me and you live in a literal jungle already, in which case, what about a cute little plant themed embroidery gift? Or a leaf print shopping bag?) If they live in a small flat, what about a little selection of succulents from Plant Parcel, or if they have a bit more space, a beautiful Monstera Deliciosa?

I hope these suggestions have helped inspire you! Happy Valentine’s Day when it comes!

Self Care Ideas That Don’t Cost Any Money

In today’s world, self care is essential. It can be as simple as remembering to drink water, or as elaborate as a seven step skincare routine followed by 40 minutes of yoga. The type of self care you need depends on the level of wellbeing you are currently at. You shouldn’t feel pressured to engage in mindfulness meditation when you can’t even get out of bed! And you certainly should never feel obligated to spend money on making yourself feel better, despite how many magazines and websites say otherwise. Even the most well meaning self care ‘listicle’ is only really there to sell stuff. When brands are saying that you *need* the latest luxury bath salts or £40 face mask, it’s really just regular old marketing, re-spun, so that instead of saying ‘you’ll look better!’ they’re saying ‘you’ll feel better!’ Capitalism has taken the concept of self care and resold it to us as a commodity.

Free_self_care_ideas.png

You can absolutely look after yourself without buying anything new. I’ve complied a list of free ideas for people who can’t splash out, or are suspicious of the idea that self care should cost money. Obviously these are some of my personal favourite ways to look after myself, but I thought they might also be helpful as inspiration to get you thinking about creative ways you can rest and recharge on your own terms:

Turn your headphones off when you’re walking home in the rain – Listening to the rain is one of the most effective ways to soothe my brain and always has been, ever since I was little. I love walking home listening to the water hitting my umbrella. Perhaps it’s the same for you, or perhaps you love the sun and could try crossing the road whenever you can to walk on the sunny side. Or if you love the wind you could go to an open space on a blustery day and let it whip up into your hair and blow the cobwebs away.

Water and tend to your plants, then sit with them for a while – I have an enormous family of plants in my flat and I always feel more positive and recharged after I’ve spent a little time checking in on them; watering, dusting their leaves, repotting etc. I talk to them too. Houseplants are inexpensive, and do not take a huge amount of time to care for. If you don’t already have one, bringing some greenery into the home has been demonstrated time and time again to have lots of positive effects!

Read to your partner and have them read to you – James and I absolutely love doing this together, and usually read a few pages at a time before swapping. It’s lovely to do this while snuggled up under warm blankets and pillows, with bedside lamps just bright enough to read by. Everything you remember about how nice it was being read to as a child will come flooding back and you and your partner will be left feeling warm and fuzzy.

File the dead skin off your feet – Gross, fun and sooooo satisfying. Set aside 20 minutes for this, get right up in there with a pumice or file, then have a shower to wash it all off, and finish the job by rubbing in some body lotion, if you have any!

Cook yourself food and allow yourself to enjoy it – Anyone who has ever suffered from stress, exhaustion, physical or mental illness or financial difficulties will have been through a time where cooking food and letting it nurture them was impossible. I’ve been to that place. There are hundreds of reasons why someone may not have eaten properly for a while. If that’s you, when the time does come to give yourself a hot meal, try this method to make it as restorative as possible: Choose a meal that you know how to cook, and get the ingredients out before you start. While you cook, focus on the way the food feels in your hands, how it smells, how much you’re looking forward to eating it. Wash things up and clean as you go so you don’t have a pile of pots to tackle after you’ve eaten. When it’s ready, pour a large glass of water and bring your food to somewhere you find comfortable. Put some music on; don’t watch your shows while you’re eating today. Eat it slowly, let yourself enjoy the warm feeling that food can bring you. Drink your glass of water as you eat.

Make taking a shower into a cleansing ritual – For some, the simple act of getting in the shower is a taxing enough act of self care, and they should be proud to have managed to do that for themselves. But for other people, the way in which you shower can have a powerfully energising, restorative effect. It’s very basic, but the act of focusing the mind on something simple is so good for us. This is how I like to use my shower time to rest and refocus my mind: Get in the shower, squeeze out a generous amount of body wash, and massage it into every inch of your skin, from your toes to your neck. Pay attention to soaping up every part of your body, bit by bit. If you have a body brush or scrub, do the same with that and exfoliate your whole body. Just focus on the sensations, the smell of your shower gel, the heat of the water, the softness of the bubbles. If you want to, wash your face and hair too with the same degree of care, and finish by giving yourself a thorough rinse, letting the water wash everything away, leaving you shiny and new.

Get everything ready for bed, then run a bath and read in it for ages – I particularly love to do this when I’m reading a book I’m really enjoying. Get the washing up done, get your bag ready for work tomorrow, teeth brushed, alarm set, phone on charge, bed made. Then run a hot bath, put some bubbles in, soak and read away, until you’re ready to dry off and slip into bed.

Listen to an entire album that you love from start to finish – I suggest putting your headphones on for this, and lying on your bed. While you listen, try to focus just on the music, the emotions it stirs in you and any happy memories it may bring. Calmly but firmly steer your mind away from negative thoughts or worries that will try to creep in during this quiet time. This isn’t an opportunity for you to mull things over, make plans or ruminate – this time is for you and your brain to hang out together with something you both enjoy. If I do struggle to stop my mind racing, I say this to myself: “No. I’m not thinking about that right now. I don’t need to and I don’t want to. I am going to enjoy Zaba by Glass Animals until it is finished, because that is what I set this time aside to do.” Then, I will focus on the lyrics or pick out different instruments and follow them through the songs until my mind quietens down again.

Ecotherapy – Being out in nature is clinically proven to help improve mood and reduce stress. Jump at any chance to simply be out of doors, even better if you can take your shoes off and put your feet on the ground! In Japan this is known as ‘forest bathing’ and is regarded as essential, particularly for those living in densely populated urban areas.

Move around – Exercise is a personal thing and I don’t like to talk about it because it has the potential to make people feel bad when they haven’t done anything wrong. But still it seemed weird to leave this off the list, as it really does make a lot of people feel a bit better. If you’re able to, and you want to, I would definitely suggest trying exercise when you’re feeling down. It can be as simple as going for a walk or run, or you could try one of the millions of workout and yoga session on youtube. All completely free!

Some of these methods may seem trivial or pointless, and some of them might seem silly to you, but remember that I’ve tried to create a list that will inspire everyone, no matter what life situation they might be in. Whether you’re a student, a new parent, physically or mentally ill, in financial trouble or stressed at work, you are allowed to spend time on yourself. It’s not just nice to do, it’s necessary for your wellbeing which means you should never feel bad for taking the time to do it. Spending money doesn’t validate your self care, and doesn’t necessarily make it more effective either. The most important thing is that you approach your self care with the intention of taking some time to look after yourself, because you, just by virtue of existing on this planet as a human being, deserve it.

How To Exfoliate Sensitive Skin

When your skin is delicate, easily irritated or frequently tight and uncomfortable, it can be tempting to avoid exfoliation all together. If you have a medical condition that affects your facial skin, like eczema or rosacea, you might be right to avoid it. However you just have sensitive, delicate skin, not only are you really missing out, you might even find that exfoliating helps your skin to become less reactive! Yes indeed – removing all that dead skin can better allow your natural skin oil and your added moisturisers to work better, which has an amazingly soothing effect on sensitive skin.

face_scrub_sensitive_skin.jpg

However, there are a few secrets to successful exfoliating when you have sensitive skin. The first is to pick the right kind of exfoliator. Chemical exfoliators, scrubs, face brushes and sponges are all popular ways to slough away dead skin, but for delicate skin you have to choose carefully. Personally I would avoid exfoliating sponges like konjac sponges because they create a lot of friction, even with a creamy product on them. They feel lovely, but I find my skin to be red and irritated after using them, and not very well exfoliated. Face brushes like the Magnitone or Clarisonic are a good option but they are expensive and it’s hard to know whether or not your skin will get on with one. Unfortunately they don’t make testers of these, so it’s a bit of a risky investment whenyou have temperamental skin! Chemical exfoliators can be a good option but you must be very, very careful with them. I’ve written a post already about how to use a chemical exfoliator when you have sensitive skin, you can read it here.

Finally, we get to scrubs. I find that when you choose the right scrub, they are the easiest, most convenient way to exfoliate delicate skin. You can easily control how deeply you exfoliate by the way you use it; how much of it, when, where, and even how you massage it onto the skin. I thought I’d tell you about my favourites and then give you a few general tips and tricks on using them; that way even if you find a different scrub that you’d prefer, you can still benefit from these exfoliation hacks for sensitive skin!

best_scrubs_sensitive_skin.jpg

Caudalie Gentle Buffing Cream – £20

This is undoubtedly the richest scrub I have ever come across – the thick, creamy consistency contains small jojoba beads to very gently lift away dead skin and grime. The thickness of the cream protects delicate skin from the exfoliating particles, making it super gentle! It contains grape seed oil and honey to hydrate and soothe the skin, and it’s also perfect for dry skin types because of it’s nourishing, oil based formula. Tip: If you really want the gentlest exfoliation possible, try mixing a scrub with a creamy cleanser (like Caudalie Gentle Cleansing Milk). I was amazed the first time I tried this – I was expecting it to achieve absolutely nothing! But my skin was left super soft, clean and nourished. Get it here

Mario Badescu Botanical Exfoliating Scrub – £23

This is my favourite scrub ever. It’s not quite as gentle as the other two, but I only exfoliate twice a week so my skin can tolerate it really well. The exfoliating particles are made from finely ground palm seeds, and the super-thick gel texture creates a buffer between the granules and yours skin, meaning that they aren’t nearly as abrasive as theysound. The gel itself is very calming and hydrating, it’s an aloe and coconut base infused with gingko and green tea. It smells utterly delightful, and leaves the skin perfectly clean and unbelievably soft. Tip: if there are areas of your skin that are more sensitive than others, try using your exfoliator only the places that actually need it – for me that’s places like my hairline, jawline and nose, whilst I tend to avoid my cheeks which are very delicate. Get it here

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – £48

This is a total cult product, and I absolutely love it. It comes out as a powder that you apply to wet skin, where it transforms into a beautiful milk with very soft exfoliating granules. It contains a whole host of exfoliating ingredients, including rice enzymes and papain as well as salicylic acid. There’s also gingko, colloidal oatmeal (which you can totally smell when you use it!) and green tea to soothe the skin as you exfoliate. I know so many people with sensitive skin who love this, and I have never had an issue with it because the exfoliating enzymes are rinsed off (I can’t use any of them in products you leave on, but my skin loves them here). Tip: Massage your exfoliator in small, slow circles over your skin, applying light pressure. This means that your scrub will be less abrasive, because you will reduce the amount of friction between the granules and your skin, but it will still be just as effective. Get it here

I hope you found this little guide to exfoliating sensitive skin helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, or your own holy grail scrub to recommend!

Scrub Love Body Scrubs Review

Scrub Love exploded onto the market recently and their cute packaging, 100% natural formulas and super interesting range caught my eye immediately. I’ve tried three ‘flavours’ so far, and am absolutely obsessed, so here are my thoughts!

IMG_4591 2.jpg

IMG_8431.jpg

(Coconut Mango is the brown one on top, Original Coffee is at the bottom right and Avocado and Aloe is bottom left)

Avocado & Aloe Vera with Activated Charcoal Body Scrub – £13.95

This scrub was the first one I tried, and it was unlike anything I’d used before. It’s a completely dry powder, and when you apply it to wet skin, the charcoal powder and aloe vera juice turn into a grey paste while the coconut shell fragments deeply exfoliate the skin. I think this has got to be the most effective scrub I’ve ever used, it leaves my skin absolutely, perfectly soft and when I follow it up with a luxurious body oil…I’ve never felt anything as smooth in my life! You need to use a shower gel to get rid of the charcoal, and it doesn’t smell good in the packet, but I’m not remotely put off by either of those things because it’s SO effective. I have read some reviews of this product where people are absolutely horrified by the fact that it leaves charcoal residue on the skin, but it comes of so easily with shower gel, it’s really not an issue. I would say you don’t need to use it more once every couple of weeks because it works so well, so it’s also amazing value for money!

Original Coffee Body Scrub – £11.95

This one is totally different to the charcoal one, and uses coffee grounds and rock salt to exfoliate the skin. It is much wetter, and contains almond and orange oils to make it much more nourishing than the charcoal one – I would recommend this one for people who’s skin can get a little dry or delicate, anyone under 18 or people with sensitive skin. The smell is so strange – a combination of weak coffee and Terry’s Chocolate Orange, which isn’t unpleasant, but it definitely a bit weird. I really enjoy using this, but I love a deep, deep scrub so if I had to pick I would go for the charcoal one.

Coconut Mango Body Scrub – £12.95

Again, this one is completely different to the others. Formulated for drier skin, it’s super nourishing and rich in coconut and macadamia oils. There’s also mango fruit powder which gives it the most glorious scent EVER, and to exfoliate there’s a bit of coconut shell, coconut flour and coconut sugar. This is a really gentle, gorgeous product and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone, but especially to people with dry or sensitive skin types.

I adore all three of these scrubs but for different reasons, and also for different uses; I’ve actually started to use the Charcoal one for my legs, feet and arms, the Coconut Mango for the softer skin of my torso, and the Coffee as an all rounder to travel with. I would recommend them all, and can’t wait to try more from this gorgeous range! You can see the full range on their website, here.