Yoga and cultural appropriation

It’s almost impossible to cope in our narcissistic, capitalist, violent and fragmented society without something to help. For an ever-increasing number of people, that thing is yoga. And that’s great. Yoga is a wonderful thing to do – it helps with anxiety, stress, poor posture, flexibility, joint health and muscle tone, which in turn can help support your immune, digestive and even endocrine systems, as well as improve your patience, sleep and mood. But yoga also has a long, dark history of cultural appropriation and class exclusion. No one is saying that westerners should stop doing yoga (although they certainly could) because of this, especially if it already forms a part of our self-care routine. However, it is extremely important that we are educated about it, and that we take steps to ensure that our yoga is inclusive and respectful.

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If you practice yoga, you have almost certainly engaged in cultural appropriation of some kind. This video is the ideal starting point for learning about cultural appropriation in yoga, as well as this article on Everyday Feminism. It’s pretty much a certainty that all western yoga students have done something disrespectful, ignorant or arrogant at some point. It’s frustrating to hear, of course, whether because you feel guilty or because it’s inconvenient for you to acknowledge it, but either way, lets move on to some practical ways for you to be a better yoga practitioner!

Call it what it is. It’s difficult to know exactly what to do when you realise just how deep the issues of colonialism, religious oppression and cultural appropriation go. If I’m not spiritual, but yoga is, should I just say to people that I’m going to a ‘meditative stretching’ class? Of course I shouldn’t. The stretches are yogic stretches and if I call it ‘lying on my back in the dark’ instead of savasana, I’m erasing the fact that it was invented in India thousands of years ago. Learn about the ever-developing history of yoga, and keep in mind that yoga is founded on religious teachings. There is nothing wrong with learning lessons from different religions. But there is a lot wrong with benefitting from something and not knowing about, or giving credit to, the culture that created it. And if you are only engaging in the physical aspects, perhaps you could consider clarifying that when talking to your teachers, to give them the choice about if, and how to engage with you.

Step away from the skinny white rich people. Western yoga is notorious for classism, racism and fat-shaming, and really doesn’t do well when it comes to inclusivity and acceptance. The fact that the most popular yoga instructors on instagram and youtube are white, skinny and able-bodied is sickeningly reflective of our society, and it needs to change, because that is not what yoga is about. Please stop following that tidal wave of brand-endorsed whiteness, or at least cut down. Instead, why not follow some of my faves: @biggalyoga@yogaplegic@nolatrees,  @daughteroftheuniverse, @mynameisjessamyn, @curvygirlmeetsyoga@justferd. It’s so important to show diverse bodies participating in yoga, because everyone deserves to benefit from it, and how will people know that yoga is for them if no one like them does it?

Join, or support, a more physically and financially inclusive yoga group. The relationship between yoga and money is complex, and an unfortunate by product of capitalism. But there are some things you can do. Practise yoga somewhere that makes an effort to be actively inclusive. People on low incomes, children with learning difficulties and pregnant women are almost certainly in need of the healing properties of yoga more than you, so support a group that supports them (unless you belong to one of those groups, in which case, here are some places you can go!) My suggestions are all based in London because I’m only one woman, but do your own research and I’m sure you’ll find one where you live too! Most cities will have a pay-what-you-can Yoga group (so if you can’t afford Yoga you can donate a little, if you can afford yoga you can donate more). Donate to Special Yoga which is just about the most amazing idea I’ve ever seen. The West London Buddhist Centre does low cost and community classes. There’s pay-what-you-can yoga at the DIY Space for London, and St Margaret’s House in Bethnal Green does the same thing. Triyoga offers discounts to seniors, jobseekers and students, so if you are one you could sign up with the discount, and if you aren’t, sign up anyway so they can continue offering the discount to those that need it! And the Iyengar Yoga Institute is an incredible charity that offers free classes to pregnant women and kids, as well as being extraordinarily knowledgeable about the practise.

Don’t perpetuate the show-off culture so prevalent in westernised yoga. Yoga is not a trend, it’s not cool and it’s not a sport. It is a culturally significant, physically challenging, deeply spiritual practice that should be approached responsibly and sombrely. Make sure that your attitude towards yoga is in line with the intentions of yoga. You aren’t better than someone else because you have expensive yoga pants, or because you pulled off a headstand on your first try. Be nice to everyone in your class, take steps to ensure you don’t make anyone feel embarrassed or self-conscious. In the UK for example, black women practicing yoga can often feel like outsiders. That’s not fair, or in line with the intentions of yoga. Obviously you shouldn’t be going up to women in your class saying ‘hey, you’re welcome here!’ but you could at least be nice to them and ensure that no one is being actively excluded.

Buy ethical or inexpensive yoga clothes/mats. You don’t actually need special yoga stuff (again, that’s not really in line with yogic intentions). But if you don’t have anything that can comfortably accommodate a warrior pose sequence, or the Lululemon yoga pants that you got when you didn’t know any better have sprouted an unfixable hole (hi, that would be me), then you need to get something from somewhere. It’s extremely difficult to find ethically made (or any, actually) yoga pants for less than £45, and most are £60-£70. This isn’t right, and if you’re financially unable to buy adapted yoga pants you shouldn’t feel like you can’t take part – all you need is a stretchy pair of leggings that you feel comfortable in, and a top that doesn’t ride up or fall down. You don’t need a £62 bra, £18 thong, £52 yoga mat or a £138 cardigan (yes, I just went on the Lululemon website to find all those…feel free to browse for a great lesson in white privilege…they sell a ‘namastay put’ thong. Seriously?) As for mats, well you don’t actually need one, but again the most ethical are the most expensive. If you can afford to spend £50 on a jute mat, get one, but if not, please don’t feel guilty about buying a £6.50 plastic one.

Yoga is not perfect, and neither is anyone who has been, or is, is involved in it. That’s kind of the point. No one is perfect and we’re always learning. You are benefitting from yoga, so you must take it seriously, treat it with respect and approach it with humility. Avoid explicitly capitalist behaviour like buying expensive clothes, or paying loads for classes in studios that only benefit themselves. There is a fantastic website called Decolonizing Yoga that you should definitely visit if you want to continue learning to be a better western yoga practitioner.

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A Feminist Engagement

A quick note: In this blog post I will talk about how my partner and I got engaged. This is in no way intended to criticise any one else’s proposal – ESPECIALLY LGBTQ+ couples who have had to fight for their right to just to have access to the traditional, patriarchal symbolism of marriage and engagement. The story is in essence heteronormative because we are a middle class cis man and woman, but the actual message is intended to be highly inclusive. I am not going to compromise when sharing my opinions on engagement traditions, because if I can’t share them here, where can I? But I don’t mean for you to feel hurt or judged if these formed part of your (or your dream) proposal. I believe that we have a responsibility as feminists to challenge the way things are done. It’s not a personal attack on you or your relationship, I know that there are many factors to take into account when considering how to get engaged and married, and I respect your right to choose your own path. Just as I don’t know your backstory, you do not know ours. 

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A year and a half ago, walking down Tottenham Court Road at the weekend, my partner James and I were talking about the future. We’d spoken about it many, many times before, about love, marriage, relationships, children. But this time, the conversation bent a little and we drew ourselves into a discussion about when. We stopped outside Boots, with half of London pushing past us unnoticed, and hesitantly, emotionally landed on 2017 as the year we wanted to get married. A consensual agreement, whatever form it takes, is essential to any feminist engagement. Springing a marriage proposal on someone out of nowhere has been widely misrepresented as romantic because of the misogynistic, heteronormative assumption that women are always ready to get married. These surprise proposals can range anywhere from a bit misguided to emotionally manipulative, and there’s just no need for it.

Over the next few months we frequently discussed the idea of a ‘proposal’, and whether or not we wanted it to be a part of our love story. James asked me about rings, saying he didn’t want to get me a diamond because not only are they horrifically unethical, their value came purely from a marketing campaign by De Beers in the early 20th Century (and also, as a geologist he has serious opinions about rocks). But I was adamant that I didn’t want a ring, and his response was relief. We both think that ethically sourced wedding rings are a beautiful way to symbolise your dedication to your partner. But engagement rings are yet another example of imbalanced, gendered expectations between women and men. ‘Marking’ a woman as yours when you have no such mark yourself. ‘Buying’ her. I’m not saying I think they’re inherently bad, especially since it’s becoming more mainstream for non-heteronormative couples to have them too, but for us it just seemed like pointless consumerism. There was absolutely no way that one of us was wearing an engagement ring while the other wasn’t, but we also didn’t see the appeal in both of us wearing one.

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However, the idea of proposing just seemed so lovely. A declaration of love, a statement of intent and a memory that we could share. Plus, neither of us had cried over the sheer weight of our feelings for each other since we first said ‘I love you’, and it’s nice to do that occasionally. We were immediately in mutual agreement that I would be the one to do it. Much of this was from a desire to challenge the status quo of course – engagements have a very sexist history, there’s no denying it. But also, I am bisexual, so until I met James I never knew who I’d end up with. I never really imagined being proposed to, but often thought about myself doing it, because that’s just who I am – it’s the kind of gesture I live for.

If you’re wondering how James, ‘as a man’ felt about the subject – he simply didn’t. As a feminist the idea of anything being a ‘threat to his masculinity’ is laughable to him. I’m not sure what else to say on the subject, other than by him being strong enough to free himself from oppressive, fragile ideas about how to ‘be a man’, he was able to experience the joy and excitement that comes with the person he loves making a grandly romantic gesture of love towards him.

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So with that decided, the task fell to me to decide how and when I was going to do it.  I had a vague idea in mind but it didn’t fully form until we decided to go on holiday to Paris. James’ birthday fell in the week we planned to go away and I thought to myself that it would be the perfect opportunity to ask him. But Paris didn’t seem like a particularly personal choice, so I suggested we spend a few days there and then travel south to explore the Calanques National Park on his birthday (a beautiful national pack on the coast near Marseille that consists of incredible rocky cliffs leading into little beaches, the perfect holiday spot for a geologist). He enthusiastically agreed to this, because one of our favourite things to do as a couple is hike. I think it must have been pretty obvious what I was planning at this point, and he tells me he was pretty sure after I suggested a ‘birthday hike through a beautiful outcrop of rocky cliffs’, haha.

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Location decided, my plan for how to actually go about it came to me almost immediately. We briefly discussed the idea of gifts like watches and bracelets instead of a ring, but we were both totally disinterested and a bit uncomfortable with the whole ‘here is a gift, will you marry me’ thing. We definitely felt like there was something missing from the whole thing, and I realised that it was the idea that our love should benefit only us. I decided to spend the money I would have spent on a ring on charity donations. I worked out that if I were to save up to buy a ring in my current financial situation, I could afford to spend £500 on it (another thing that we really need to stop doing? Selling the idea that a proposal has to be extravagant. Not everyone has disposable income and people shouldn’t feel the need to empty their bank account for love) so I set that as my donation budget, and that’s when the full idea came to me:

I chose five charities that reminded me of something I love about James. They were things that are external to our relationship, aspects of his personality that I deeply admire but have nothing to do with me. I donated £100 to each charity, and asked them if they would be able to send me a ‘thank you’ letter (all but one said they do this anyway so I wasn’t putting them out, the other emailed it to me so I printed it and put it in an envelope). On the back of each of the envelopes, I wrote the reason why I’d donated to that particular charity.

5 reasons2.jpgThe charities chose were WaterAid, Women’s Aid, Woman Kind, Amnesty International and Mind.

After spending a magical few days in Paris, we travelled down on the TGV to Marseilles, and the next day was his birthday. I packed us a picnic in our backpack, hid the five letters in different places in there and put a note on the top saying ‘five reasons’. I wouldn’t let him go in the backpack until we had hiked to our picnic spot – one of the hundreds of secluded beaches dotted along the Calanques coastline.

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After we had settled on the beautiful stony beach, I told James he could finally look in the backpack. He drew each letter out and read the notes on the backs (I told him not to open them until he found them all) and was completely confused, but touched by whatever I was doing. After he had found them all and had opened a couple, I took his hands and said that these charities all worked on areas that are related to things I admire about who he is as a person, and then started telling him all of the things I love about the way he is with me. The way I love how safe he makes me feel, how patient he is with me, how he makes me laugh so much and how he is so open, so kind, so affectionate. Obviously we were both crying at this point, and through my tears I managed to say ‘I want to marry you’, to which he responded ‘Of course’ and kissed me. Then we both realised I hadn’t actually said what I meant to say, so I pulled away and said ‘Will you marry me’ to which he again responded ‘Of course’, and we kissed. So yeah, I messed that part up lmao.

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We cried a bit more as he read all the letters. We had our lunch (brie and tomatoes on still-warm bread from the patisserie next to our AirBnB), and splashed in the freezing water for a bit. It was absolutely perfect, and I was so happy and proud that I was able to make my partner feel so loved and wanted.

Everything about our proposal was intensely unique to both of us, but at the same time it also helped other people. Me being the one to do it ended up being the least important part. Our proposal’s unique, personal nature, combined with a concerted effort to help make other people’s lives better is what made it feminist. And we will always be proud of that. I hope that weddings and engagements don’t go away, because they are a wonderful way to express dedication and love. But they are steeped in years of oppression, negativity, consumerism and selfishness. I’m absolutely not saying people should do what we did and I’m definitely not saying that I created the perfect proposal. Rather, I just want to share this and use it to communicate the idea that we all need to work hard emotionally, creatively and intelligently to make these gestures as beautiful and inclusive as they have the potential to be.

How to do something for the world (instead of just feeling bad about it)

The world is in terrible state right now and it’s frightening to sit and watch it happen. It’s easy to feel powerless when we look at the awful things that are happening to people at home and abroad. I’ve participated in my fair share of volunteering and activism over the years, so I thought I would share a few ideas on ways that you can help. This isn’t about being a ‘saviour’, this is about the fact that people reading this almost certainly have a far more comfortable existence than a lot of people in the world. We have a moral duty to do something with our personal resources. Sharing posts on Facebook, by the way, isn’t on this list. Sorry, but it isn’t enough just to ‘care’ anymore. I’ve split these suggestions into sections – things everyone can do, things you can do with money, things you can do with your time, things you can do with yourself. I hope you find something helpful! It’s not exhaustive by any means, but if I’ve missed something you think is vital, please let me know.

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Things everyone can do

These are just a few little ideas that you can adopt into your life to help your everyday life make a more positive impact on the world.

Reduce meat consumption or cut it out entirely. The meat industry contributes to global warming more than almost anything else, so the less of it you can eat, the better. If you feel you have to, stick to poultry. The dairy industry is also linked to this of course, so reduce that too if you can.

Buy ethically. Sounds daunting but it’s really not! Shop in Lidl, Aldi, the Co-op, M&S or Whole Foods. Make leftover food into lunches. Use The Guardian’s ethical fashion directory for clothes, or buy on second hand apps like Depop. Get clothes, homeware items and cosmetics from independently owned companies or creators. Donate your old clothes to charity. If you have enough money to be looking for a car, get a hybrid. Let your license fee lapse (the BBC promotes fascism, sorry). Consider boycotting some of these. Bank with Nationwide or the Co-op, if you have a choice of energy supplier get an ethical one like Ovo Energy. Buy cosmetics and household products that are as natural as possible, and buy recycled toilet paper. Basically whenever you hand over money for something, think to yourself ‘is this doing damage, is it fairly neutral, or is it doing good?’

Do what you can to make your home more energy efficient. From double lining your curtains to making sure nothing gets left on standby, from timing your showers to only flushing the loo when you have to.

Join a political party (you don’t have to have any money OR time to do this), and vote in every election you can, even if you think it’s meaningless. There’s no such thing. Not sure who you should join? Take the Political Matchmaker!

Things you can do with money

There are thousands of worthy charities in the world – you can commit to one and donate just to them, or dot your donation around different ones. Either way, if you have disposable income this is the best way to use it if you want to help people. 

Donate to Syria. There are specific Syrian charities such as Syria Relief that you can donate money too, or you can donate to UNICEF, UNHCR, Oxfam or Save the Children.

Donate to environmental charities. While humans may be pretty preoccupied with killing each other right now, the war on the environment rages on in the background. Deforestation, waste, the depletion of resources such as rare earth elements, fossil fuels and water is still happening, as it global warming. Pollution is through the roof, in the UK especially. Crops are fucked. The World Land Trust, WWF and Rainforest Alliance are solid choices.

Donate to human rights/wellbeing charities. Mental health care in the UK is in disarray at the moment, and it’s clear that huge groups of people are suffering massively from mental health problems. You can donate to Mind to help with this. Or how about Amnesty International, to help end female genital mutilation, to help hold war criminals to account, to protect refugees and to protect human rights worldwide. If you’re particularly concerned about women, perhaps you could donate to Womankind, a charity that supports female entrepreneurship in developing countries. Or Women’s Aid, a UK charity that helps female and child victims of domestic violence. What about water availability? Wateraid works to provide safe drinking water around the world. Poverty in the UK is rising fast. Why not donate to Shelter or Barnardos?

Donate to your chosen political party. This will help them to fight the rising altneo-rightnazis which as we can all clearly see, is growing problem that we really fucking need to do something about. Donating to the party that you believe is the best for the job will help them to eradicate white extremism.

Things you can do with your time

Not all of us have spare time, but if you do, these are great ways to spend it.

Take the UNICEF free online course on Social Change. This is a wonderful thing for anyone who wants to be a better citizen, activist or campaigner. The course looks at the distinctions between societal norms and societal conventions, before moving on to social change, and the tools that can be used to enact it.

Do volunteer work for political parties or charities. Small charities and parties in the run up to elections are often desperate for tech savvy people to do a bit of SEO, HTML, Photoshop or photography for them. During the last general election I volunteered on Natalie Bennett’s campaign and learned photoshop so I could produce digital campaign communications as well as doing some social media. Unfortunately I was in the middle of moving jobs and I had to stop, which is why it’s very important to work out if time is something you have to give. Just like some people don’t have money to give, others don’t have time.

Work for a helpline. I put this in ‘time’ but it depends. Sometimes helplines that offer online or social support will let you do it from home, and I’ve heard about helplines doing the same, but more commonly you will have to go to their office. Samaritans, LGBT+ Switchboard, Refuge and SANE all offer volunteer positions.

Sign petitions and write to your MP. A while ago I campaigned against funding cuts that were being made to the research teams at Kew Gardens – I attended some advisory meetings and learned a lot about how to put weight behind a cause. Making ‘noise’ is one of the best ways to do this, and can be done by writing to your MP about an issue you are concerned about, whether it’s sending aid to Syria, poverty in the UK or violence against women For lots of campaigns, especially ones that have a petition attached to them, you will be able to send a pre-written letter to your MP that you personalise as well.

Things you can do with your self

Some of these are very big commitments indeed, but I thought I’d put them in because if you’re in a position to do something big, why not? 

Sign up to the UN Volunteers Database. I joined this recently. Basically you go on their website, fill in all necessary details about yourself and your skills, as well as the level of commitment you can offer. If anything comes up that’s suitable for you, they get in touch.

Do VSO. Voluntary Services Overseas is an organisation that sends skilled people to other countries to help the community using their skills. I know someone who helped with tourism infrastructure in Sri Lanka because she had lots of business knowledge, but there are positions for loads of different areas of expertise including accountancy, education and agriculture. The great thing about this particular organisation over others is that you are required to have skills that a community can benefit from before you can be placed somewhere. You aren’t just buying a trip to ‘Africa’ to ruin the lives of some children play with orphans.

Join MSF. Médecins Sans Frontières is one of the most important critical aid charities in the world. They are at the forefront of every health crisis, be it conflicts, epidemics or natural disasters and their teams are fearless. They don’t just need healthcare professionals though – HR managers, pharmacists, technical engineers, supply chain management, finance, communication and admin coordinators are all needed. This is a very big choice. I’m not suggesting you join MSF after reading one blog post by an irrelevant woman in London. But it’s worth being aware of, no?

Do some community volunteering. Something less perilous and much closer to home! There are always local groups looking for help maintaining a nature reserve, painting a school, being a friend to an isolated person or working in museums. I can’t link to this obviously, but here’s the website for my area, hopefully it will give you a clue as to how to search for yours.

Canvas for a political party. I’ll never forget how cold I got handing out leaflets at 7am for the Green Party in February 2015. But it was important, so I did it. You can do house calls, leafleting or phonecalls for your chosen party, depending on what you prefer.

Join a protest. Numbers make an impact. If a protest for something you believe in takes place, stand up and be counted if you can. Protest marches have been effective many times before. Often they aren’t, but it is one of the purest expressions of our democratic rights and you can’t deny its importance.

Fundraising! Everyone loves a sponsored half marathon, coffee morning or whatever else you fancy doing. Not only does fundraising generate more funds than you might be able to give yourself, you also raise awareness of the cause you’re helping. Plus, it’s usually pretty fun, especially if you’re an outgoing sort of person with lots of friends.

And one final thing that everyone, everyone who doesn’t have to use them should do? Donate food to your nearest foodbank. 3.8 million workers in the UK are now living in poverty – and that’s just people in work, let alone people out of work. If you can afford to feed yourself, you can afford to buy a little bit of food for someone else.  

Sonic Chic Electric Travel Toothbrush Review

I’ve been an electric toothbrush user for ever. I’ve had periods of time where I’ve used normal toothbrushes, but nothing has ever made my teeth feel clean like an electric. However, I really struggle to cart my enormous everyday one around when I travel, and it’s SO annoying to find somewhere to put the heads. I always end up putting them in a plastic sandwich bag that is disgusting by the end of my trip (I’m super obsessive about germs so I can’t just put it in my washbag!) – this means that if I’m going somewhere for a long time, I bring a normal toothbrush and HELLO FURRY TEETH. Urgh. So when I had the chance to try an electric TRAVEL toothbrush, I jumped at the chance. Say hello to Sonic Chic!

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Sonic Chic’s Electric Toothbrushes are SO pretty, and I love the gold colour of the Deluxe model. It has everything going for it – USB charging, a hygienic ventilated lid, slim lightweight design and serious cleaning  power with up to 32k strokes per minute.

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I usually use a very heavy duty electric toothbrush which kind of feels like the dirt is being mechanically drilled off my teeth – not the most gentle sensation, so I was surprised by how little this seemed to be vibrating when I first used it. But that’s the beauty of sonic toothbrushes – they leave your teeth perfectly clean without shaking the hell out of your mouth. The Sonic Chic Toothbrush is also much quieter than a normal electric, another thing that makes it perfect for travelling! It has this really cool feature to help you get the most efficient clean as well – the toothbrush automatically turns off after two minutes, but it vibrates at thirty seconds, one minute and one minute thirty to tell you to move onto another quadrant of your mouth, making sure you don’t get distracted and spend five minutes scrubbing your left molars.

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The Sonic Chic Deluxe Travel Toothbrush is small enough to fit into even my most compact wash bag, and everything about it is innovative, well designed and incredibly effective at what it does! I am SO happy to have one, and a few stints in hotel rooms recently, I have found it to be absolutely perfect for the job. Get it from Look Fantastic for £29.99

 

Would I buy this if I hadn’t been gifted it? Oh my god, yes! If I had known toothbrushes like this existed, I would have been first in line to get one, it is amazing. 

Blemish Targeting Skincare

It’s a sad but irrefutable fact that every single adult human is going to get a spot at some point in their lives. While it might not be as frustrating and horrible full-blown adult acne, breaking out is still bloody annoying. I’m certainly no stranger to the odd facial eruption (and true to cliched form, stress and important events break me out every time). I’ve come up with a really effective emergency treatment routine though, so thought I’d share.

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First up is Caudalie’s Purifying Mask. Unlike most clay masks, this one doesn’t dry, and therefore doesn’t suck the moisture out of easily dehydrated adult skin. Instead, ingredients like sage, zinc and clay work to draw out impurities and purify the skin, while grape seed oil stops it from getting dry. While drying out a spot might seem like a great idea on paper, it can lead to further irritations and imbalances, so you should avoid it. The great thing about this mask is that you can use it as a targeted treatment on your blemishes (and because it isn’t drying you can even leave it overnight!) as well as using as a ten-minute mask all over your face. I like to use it as a preventative when I can feel that my face is starting to get out of balance, as well as use it as an overnight treatment on anything that does pop up unexpectedly.

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Another great ‘on the spot’ treatment is Antipodes Manuka Honey Mask. This is also non-drying and is supposed to hydrate the skin, while the manuka provides an anti-bacterial, healing effect. I love this mask because it smells and feels wonderful, and I can really see that the redness and inflammation of an angry spot is visibly reduced after I’ve used it. However, I can’t use it all over my face as it stings my more sensitive areas. What I like to do is leave gaps around spots when I do a regular mask, and apply this to the spots afterwards (see above photo). It really is amazing for inflammation, which is why I still recommend it despite not being able to use it properly. If you don’t have sensitive skin, I’m sure it would make a fantastic all-over mask too.

The next recommendation is product I wasn’t quite sure how to use when I bought it but am now a firm fan of – Elizabeth Arden’s Fragrance Free 8 Hour Cream. My boyfriend and I have both found this to be an amazing product for healing popped spots over the course of a couple of nights. It really is amazing. I also use it as a lip treatment whenever I do a face mask – I apply a thick layer and it leaves my lips healthy and soft. If you want to get the fragranced version instead of the fragrance free – here’s a link to that too.

Oh and before I go I have to recommend another amazing product that I actually wrote a whole blog post on a while back – Weleda Aknedoron Purifying Lotion – although it smells of sulphur, it’s another great option in the hunt for effective blemish elimination!

What are your favourite blemish hacks?

 

No Spend September

It’s so easy in today’s world to end up spending way more than you need to on cosmetics. Especially when you have an active interest in cosmetics anyway. Now, I never spend more than I can afford, but I definitely spend more than I need to. So I have decided that throughout the month of September, I’m not going to buy ANY cosmetics, even if I run out. 

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Obviously this is just a fraction of my collection, but I’m not tall enough to take a picture of them all. *dies of embarrassment*

Anyway, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to focus on what I have, rather than what I want to try next, as well as making a bit of space in my flat! Also I’m hoping I’ll be able to do a good empties post at the end of the month so you can see which ones I enjoy and what I don’t. I have kind of a mixture of things I haven’t really used much but really like, some things that I didn’t love but didn’t hate enough to throw away, and things I just haven’t gotten to. So this should be a great opportunity to get through some of it! Who knows, depending on how low I get with my staple products I might keep going into October too…

Have you ever done a no-spend month? How did you find it?

 

 

How to pack your makeup bag

When it comes to daily life, I’m a big believer in convenience and practicality, combined with a healthy dose of prettiness. I never buy dresses or skirts without pockets for example, or a bag (no matter how small) without a zip up compartment. My makeup bag reflects this, as I hate nothing more than carrying extra stuff around with me – so I thought I’d share how I put it together!

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Let’s get the unglamorous essentials out of the way first. Money – you should always have an emergency stash of money in your makeup bag. For tipping, an unexpected empty Oyster card or a Big Issue you actually want to buy. First Aid – I always have plasters, antacids and paracetamol. You, or someone you know will undoubtedly need one at some point! Nail File – this one should be self explanatory, as should a Hair Tie. Anyway, now for the more interesting stuff:

Hand Cream – You really should carry hand cream at all times. I love this Dexeryl stuff by Pierre Fabre, it’s a really cheap, plain emollient for eczema but it sinks into the skin without any greasiness whatsoever, and doesn’t smell, making it perfect for an everyday cream.

Deodorant – Especially if like me, you don’t use anti-perspirant! This Weleda Sage Deodorant is amazing at eliminating any smell. I use a salt deodorant in the morning that works really well most of the time, but it’s never going to stand up to a 35 degree tube carriage or running to a meeting you’re late for.

Concealer – You know that point where there isn’t enough left in your concealer tube to properly cover things up in the morning, but you can still get a bit out of it? I use these semi-empty tubes in my makeup bag to top up throughout the day. You don’t need a thick layer when you’ve already applied, so it’s perfect for refreshing your look after lunch or before a date. I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer because it’s simply the best I’ve ever tried.

Blotting Paper – These work better than powder for refreshing your makeup and getting rid of shine. I am utterly obsessed with them, and these DHC ones are only £4! An absolute handbag essential, your friends will love you for them too. Amazingly, they don’t disturb your makeup at all, even if you’re wearing full contour/highlight/blush.

Hand Sanitizer – It’s nice to have, even if it doesn’t kill as many germs as people think. I really like the Merci Handy gels, and they have about a million scents/colours to choose from!

Lip Balm – Everyone has a preference, and you should never be without yours. I adore this Hurraw Coconut Lip Balm because it melts onto the lips instantly and leaves a lovely sheen of nourishment. Make sure your fave is in your makeup bag at all times!

Caudalie Beauty Elixir – There are a million facial mists out there, but this Beauty Elixir is my new favourite. The scent is bewilderingly refreshing and unlike anything I’ve smelled before, and your skin really does feel incredibly good after using it. The herbal mixture restores radiance and helps set makeup, so it really is the perfect mist for your handbag. Plus I don’t know any other facial sprays that come in a 30ml handbag size!

Perfume – These little perfume atomisers are amazing – you fill it by pumping directly out of your perfume bottle so the scent doesn’t degrade by coming into contact with air. This is perfect if, like me your perfume is bloody expensive.

Your Lipstick – This is a really good habit to get into: when you finish applying your makeup (I assume everyone else does their lips last too?) just pop your lip product directly into your makeup bag. As soon as you’ve put it on, go to your bag, take out yesterday’s and put today’s in. One of the easiest ways to refresh your makeup is to reapply your lipstick, so this really is essential.

This is how I pack it. You’re less likely to want easy access to hand cream, deodorant or a nail file as you need privacy or a few minutes to use these. So put them on the bottom, and fit everything else on top, depending on how often/much you’ll use them. My makeup bag has these perfectly sized pockets that all the small stuff slots into as well.

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As you can see, I’ve packed quite a lot in to this little bag. It’s an Oliver Bonas makeup bag, and while I think this lovely design is probably sold out by now, they always have loads of them with the same shape and different cute prints. I really love this shape of bag because you can pack loads in without it looking like it’s about to explode. I have one of their washbags too (just a bigger version of this shape) and they are SO practical. Check them out on the Oliver Bonas website here – link

What do you keep in your makeup bag? Anything I’m missing?