30 things I’ve learned in my first 30 years of life

I turned 30 last week, and honestly, it feels great! Saying I’m 30 feels pretty surreal, but I don’t feel any dread or anxiety, which I honestly thought I would. I’ve put together a couple of posts to celebrate making it through this most tempestuous of decades, and this is the first, 30 life lessons I’ve learned in my first 30 years! Enjoy!

1. Life isn’t a climb, it’s a hike. It’s not about getting to the top, it’s about making your way along, at your own pace, seeing what’s there, being curious and enjoying the journey.

2. You’re way more competent than you think you are.

3. Your hair will NEVER do what you want, so you may as well let it do whatever it’s gonna do and enjoy yourself.

4. You are stronger – both mentally and physically – than you give yourself credit for. Like, A LOT stronger.

5. Don’t get into fights on Twitter.

6. You don’t have to finish every book you start – dump the ones that do nothing for you.

7. Showering before bed makes your sheets last longer between washes.

8. Some people don’t like you, and that’s fine (fuck ’em).

9. You also don’t have to like every single person you ever come into contact with.

10. When you start to notice signs of early depression, pay attention.

11. Embracing the seasons, surrounding yourself with nature and generally being more connected to the world is essential for your wellbeing. It’s not a cure or a treatment for anything, it’s a basic need.

12. Shaping your life around other people’s judgemental attitudes will not make you happy.

13. Be as feminine as you want, it doesn’t make you less intelligent, feminist, or queer.

14. There is such a thing as love at first sight ❤

15. Sort out disagreements openly and honestly – no games, no repressed feelings, no sulking.

16. Hiking up a mountain is one of the best feelings in the fucking world.

17. Grief is the most painful thing in the world, there is no cure and no escape, but it won’t kill you.

18. Puy lentils are the best replacement for beef mince and are perfect in shepherd’s pie, bolognese and tacos.

19. Add marmite to vegan stews, lentil dal and shepherd’s pie, and add a dash of red wine vinegar to pasta sauces to go all the way to flavourtown. Add both to bolognese.

20. When you start being able to keep a houseplant alive for longer than a few months it will become your child.

21. You will never get ‘compliment’ and ‘complement’ right the first time.

22. Your judgemental inner voice has the capacity to completely ruin your life, so learn to ignore it once in a while.

23. Having a tidy house makes you feel relaxed.

24. Doing the washing up actually helps you de-stress, stop pretending like it doesn’t.

25. Travelling is wonderful, fulfilling and educational, but it is a privilege, not a moral imperative.

26. Being stung by an Amazonian bullet ant F U C K I N G H U R T S.

27. Having problems you can’t overcome doesn’t mean you’re unworthy of happiness.

28. Having wonderful parents, a partner who respects you and friends who adore you makes you one of the luckiest people in the world.

29. You need to work harder on staying hydrated.

30. You aren’t doing anything wrong by being angry at the state of the world. Don’t let your anger hurt you or others, but hold onto it, and use it to fight for better.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

Tips for a happier period

Like anyone with a uterus, I’ve had my fair share of period disasters, stresses and excruciating pain. From clenching my thighs on the Victoria Line because I’ve been caught out, to panicking wildly about an early (or worse: late) period, it’s easy to have a pretty negative feelings about that time of the month. And that’s without even broaching the subject of dysphoria – I cannot imagine how hard it must be to experience gender dysphoria and still get your period. You guys are badasses. I don’t know if any of these tips will be helpful for trans/agender people but they have been written with the intention of being inclusive! Of course these tips also aren’t intended for people who have health problems – endo, pcos etc. I’m not a stranger to these illnesses but I would never presume to be able to help another person with them, I’m not a healthcare professional.

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How to go anti-perspirant free!

I stopped using anti-perspirant about three years ago now, and I will NEVER go back. I made the choice because I didn’t like the idea that I was blocking a natural process. I can see that it might seem like the kind of thing only inconsiderate ‘hippies’ might go in for. Well, I am a bit of a hippy, but that doesn’t mean I’m inconsiderate, because the thing is, going perspirant free does not increase the number of times I get body odour! Read on to find out how I keep myself smelling nice without stopping my body doing what it needs to do.

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How to keep body odour at bay without anti-perspirant

  1. Use a good deodorant. Of course, going anti-perspirant free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a good, natural deo. I’ve tried them all, and for my everyday, morning application I love PitRok and Salt of the Earth. I use PitRok if I’m not showering, but if I do shower I use Salt of the Earth which needs to be used on wet skin (or wetted before use). These both do an amazing job and I often find they last all day. 
  2. Keep underarm hair sweet. If you’ve decided to dump the razor as well as the anti-persp, I have one great tip for how to help yourself feel more confident with your newfound armpit hair, and that’s to look after it. Apply a scented oil or balm like Lush’s Elbow Grease and your armpit hair will be smelling like a fresh bouquet all day. You can’t beat it.
  3. Re-deodorise at your desk. Whatever your job, you will find that occasionally you have some odour to cover up. This can easily be sorted out with Weleda Sage Deodorant, which eliminates odour in seconds, and lasts for ages. If your job is less sedentary than mine, you may have to do it more often, but to be honest I walk (briskly) two hours a day and my boyfriend cycles to work and works on his feet and neither of us have ever had a problem that Sage Deo couldn’t fix.
  4. Nighttime protection. This is an important one for the summer. If you start to smell at night because you’re entwined in sweaty sheets (or a sweaty significant other) it’s very likely that some BO will set in overnight and be really difficult to shift come morning. You can prevent this with a sprinkling of dusting powder before bed – Lush’s Silky Underwear is my all time fave though they have others, some of which I think are actually designed to combat odour!

So, there are my tips! As I mentioned, I don’t have a hugely active lifestyle (I don’t work on a building site) but I do exercise and I do walk a lot to and from work, and this routine works perfectly for me.

Are you thinking of going anti-perspirant free? Or have you already done it and have your own fave products? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Thinx: Period Underwear

Two months ago, I discovered my holy grail. Not skincare, not hair care, not make-up. My holy grail? Five pairs of period underwear that make me feel sexy, comfortable and confident. These pant(ie)s have changed the way I feel about my period, and I honestly believe they are the best investment I could ever have made for myself.

Also…I would never in a million years have expected to be posting a picture of me in my underwear on this blog, but that just goes to show how amazing Thinx underwear make me feel. Read on to find out why!

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I’ve always been very forward about periods – I don’t find them disgusting and have never felt embarrassed by them. When I started my dad was the first person I told, and he reacted with pride. I cannot express how important that was, his joyously positive response to something that women are shamed for and silenced about. It taught me not to accept men’s immaturity in the face of a bleeding vagina, and to question phrases like ‘oh my god don’t make period jokes that’s disgusting’. I think this is one of the reasons I’m so annoyed by the lack of options when it comes to sanitary products, and allow myself to loathe both pads and tampons.

For a long time, I used a Mooncup, which I loved. However I’ve had an IUD for a year and was told by both my doctors and the Mooncup team that using a cup in conjunction with an IUD is a bit squiffy – so the cup went back into its box, and I went back to using pads. I never use tampons because my flow isn’t heavy enough and it’s like lighting a match EVERY SINGLE TIME I take one out… but after a while I got sick of pads, especially since discovering that the only brand I actually liked now puts perfume in all their products (really, Always?) So I started looking for an alternative.

And that’s when I discovered Thinx. Made of four ingenious layers of absorbent, antimicrobial, leak-resistant and moisture-wicking fabrics as well as an incredible design that just fits PERFECTLY, Thinx underwear come in six styles that can hold up to TWO tampons worth of blood! The level of absorbency varies depending on the style. As you can imagine, the hiphugger holds a lot more than the thong, so you can choose your pants based on your own flow. I bought five pairs of hiphuggers because I decided to use them without anything else, and I thought the style looked really comfy. Thinx recommend that you use them with tampons or a cup, but also stress that you know your own flow, and if you think it’s light enough to go it alone, that’s up to you.

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I went with the large size, which is bigger than I would usually buy in the UK (I’m a 12, sometimes even a 10) but about right for American undies – genuinely I think they make them differently as I’ve bought medium size underwear in Peru, New York and Toronto and they’ve ALL been to small! Anyway, large fits PERFECTLY. Despite being thicker than normal underwear, it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in a knicker-sized sanitary pad. It does feel different, but not uncomfortable, or even noticeable after a few minutes.

It’s amazing to just be able to get up in the morning and simply pull on some underwear, without having to worry about packing enough pads for the day. To be able to wear my skinniest jeans, and to be wearing underwear that I actually like! Washing them is so easy too. You rinse the top layer of blood off at the end of the day in cold water, and then pop them in a cold delicates wash with natural detergent (I use Ecover’s Delicate Laundry Detergent) along with all your other underwear and delicates.

Thinx are more than just an amazing underwear company though. Their factory in Sri Lanka is a family run company that is committed to training and educating their female employees so that that they can become empowered leaders in the community. Thinx ALSO contribute some of their profits to ARFIpads, an organisation that trains women in developing countries to sew reusable sanitary pads. They sell these pads to girls in their communities who are then able to attend school whilst menstruating, something that they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

In total my pants took me to about £100, which I was completely happy with to be honest. Yeah they’re not cheap, but the technology, ethics, the comfort, confidence and convenience make them more than worth the investment. Take a look at their amazing range here.

Stress, eczema and Eau Thermale Avène

I’m not going to go into much detail about why I abandoned this blog (a blog that I was really quite proud of to be honest) for six months. What I will say however, is that about two months ago I woke up to an itchy rash all over my torso. Having never seen anything like it before, I was horrified. Apart from dry hands I haven’t had any issues with the skin on my body at all. I ran off to my doctor immediately, and was diagnosed with eczema. When I told the doctor that this was the first time I’d had it, he seemed confused. Was I under any particular stress, he asked.

After I described to him exactly what kind of stress I was under, he sent me off with a steroid cream prescription, an IAPT appointment and instructions to come back if it got any worse. Suffice to say, I am coming out of this experience MUCH stronger, and FAR wiser.

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As I walked from the GP’s to get the prescription, my skin was on fire. I sent my boyfriend a text screaming for help, and he suggested a bath. What on earth was I supposed to put in a bath when I had this all over me? Everything I use is full of essential oils something you should never put on eczema. Lucky for me, my lovely local pharmacist knew exactly what I needed. Eau Thermale Avène Lipid Replenishing Cleansing Oil.

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I put about five pumps of this into a mildly warm bath, and my skin was so, so soothed. The irritation went right down, and I actually didn’t need to use very much steroid cream at all. I used the Cleansing Oil for about two weeks in the shower after that, by squeezing it onto a sponge and using it like soap. It foams up really nicely, and leaves the skin feeling clean and soft.

If you’re struggling with your skin I can’t recommend it highly enough. The soothing nature is incredible, I found that my skin felt calmer as soon as I rubbed it on. I’m so happy I had it.

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Since my skin healed quite quickly, I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of the bottle (you get a LOT for your money). Then one night I ran out of the makeup wipes I’d been using. I thought this stuff, being so gentle, must be ok for use on the face, and boy was I right! My waterproof mascara melted away after I lathered up twice. So if you decide to try the Cleansing Oil for a pesky skin condition, (which it then ends up curing) I highly recommend using the rest as a makeup remover.

I was having a rough time, and I would like to take a end by saying that IAPT stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapies, and is the NHS’s attempt to make sure people can get help when they first need it. If you’re struggling with something in your life, and haven’t gone to a doctor about it, you CAN now. This initiative is designed to prevent irreparable damage being done to your mental health, and no matter how mild you think your problem is, they have something in place for you.

Bringing the beauty – a Travel Post!

I’m super excited. Tomorrow I’ll be going to New York for the first time! And then up to Canada, to stay with a friend. I can’t wait, and I thought that before I go I’d share how I roll when it comes to travelling.

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These are my essentials for hand luggage. A good book. Palmer’s lipbalm. Weleda Skin Food (for my face). Weleda Rhinodoron spray for my nose (the dry air doesn’t like my sinuses). A mini Jurlique Rose Hand Cream (luxurious and nourishing, because I’ll be using a tonne of antibac hand wipes too). Pacifica Coconut Milk Wipes (for freshening up). Urbanears Headphones (the best, and prettiest). Gin Gin ginger sweets (for ear popping purposes). Benefit’s They’re Real! (because my eyelashes are more or less see through so I need mascara at all times). Buddha Nose Girl Balm (the smell is calming and refreshing at the same time).

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I’m so glad I invested in a few new mini bottles to decant all this in. Because it went from all that…

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To just these! So satisfying. I’m going to need to wash my hair while I’m away which is annoying, because I need to use so much shampoo and conditioner I have no choice but to bring whole bottles. But being able to shink the rest of the products down to just this has helped SO MUCH. Most of these bottles came from Muji, with the exception of the Travalo perfume bottle, and the oil bottle, which actually came from a Weleda Body Oil set.

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I’ve kept it super simple with make up. To be fair, my make up routine is very simple all the time anyway, as I rarely experiment. I just decanted a couple of broken eyeshadows into my tiniest travel pots to save a little space.

So that’s it! I’m really pleased with how much space I’ve saved with those Muji bottles. Happy travels, touch wood! And if you’re going away yourself this summer, I hope you have a great time 🙂

Ten things I won’t let out of my sight this summer

It’s really hard not to live up to my sterotype and start this post with a comment about the hot weather. No. I will not do it. TMI warning: I had my first cervical screening the other day, and what did we talk about? THE WEATHER. For those of you yet to experience/dreading to experience that particular facet of womanhood, let me reassure you it isn’t that bad. Don’t skip it out of embarrassment.

WELL, that was quite the way to kick off a post, wasn’t it? If you’re still reading, here are the things I’ve been using/buying/banging on about since the sun started coming out.

1. DHC Blotting Paper

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I reviewed this a while ago and predicted that this super cute little box would be ever by my side this summer. And I was right! Central London is hotter than anywhere else in the UK that I’ve ever been, and these babies have come in so handy, while on the tube, bus and after walking anywhere, so basically, all the time. My friends have been hella grateful for them too, and I still can’t get over how they don’t affect my make up AT ALL. Get it for £4.

2. M&S white ankle socks

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Here’s a life lesson you probably already knew that I recently learned: NEVER WEAR CONVERSE WITHOUT SOCKS.  I used to find it hard to wear ankle socks with my shoes because I have very wide feet at the toes and they seem to pull the socks down inside the shoe. Of course, it turns out that all I had to do was buy better quality ankle socks. Years of picking up a multipack from Primark, I’d kind of forgotten that other places sell them too (in fairness, I used to trampoline, and there’s no point buying good ankle socks for that because they’ll get destroyed two weeks after you buy them). Anyway, these M&S ones are great, they have a ring that goes around the arch to hold them in place, so they don’t slip down! Here they are, 3 for £5.

3. Travalo Travel Perfume Bottle 

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I don’t like to go anywhere without my favourite perfume, Philosykos by Diptyque, but the gorgeous glass bottle is heavy, and I’m always worried about breaking or losing it (£80 ya’ll). I was also reluctant to buy an ordinary spray bottle because I’d have expose my precious perfume to the air whilst decanting it, which might damage the fragrance. This travel bottle has a nifty rubber hole at the bottom, and all you have to do is remove the atomiser from the perfume, attach the travel bottle, pump a few times, and voila. Portable Philosykos. Amazon is where I got mine, for about £9.

4. Ambre Solaire Clear Protect SPF30

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Sun protection is hell of a thing. Endless choice, very little unbiased advice. Should I go with an all-natural version that doesn’t have EU certification and has questionable SPF, or should I get one with five different logos and a host of chemicals in it? Cream or spray? Pricey or budget? Well, this one just spoke to me – a dry oil that doesn’t need to be rubbed in, I really like the way it feels on my skin, because it isn’t sticky. Also, because of the fact that it isn’t a cream there aren’t any parabens in it. Bonus. Get it here!

5. A massive pretty dress several sizes too big for me

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If you haven’t thought of this yet, then seriously, do. The pretty pattern means that it retains a bit of style, but the extra fabric means my poor overheated skin can get some air without having to get sun at the same time. This one was from River Island and I got it in the sale. I got the largest size I could find and it feels so comfortable and summery. Glorious.

6. Bobble Bottle

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Buying one of these was the best desision I’ve made in a long time. The water tastes SO much better, and it’s a very pleasant bottle to drink from, which means you’re more likely to stay hydrated. If you’re in London or any other big city, one of these is an absolute must – especially since bottles of water are more expensive! They come in a huge variety of colours, and most of them are clear plastic rather than coloured. Mine is a Bobble Sport which means the body is made out of more robust plastic than the clear ones, because I don’t trust myself with anything. Oh and lots of different sizes too! Check them out.

7. Jurlique Balancing Foaming Cleanser

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I reviewed this the other day, and all I can say is I regret not doing it much sooner. This is the perfect cleanser for summer. My skin gets oily in hot weather, and this is perfect for removing excess oil while leaving my skin soft and fresh. Plus, I still can’t get over the foaming action.

8. Palmer’s Coconut Oil Hair Care

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If you’ve read my blog at all – well, then you know. I’m obsessed with Palmer’s. The coconut oil products are just SO great for my hair as the sun tries it’s hardest to fry it, plus they smell nice and summery too. Treat your locks.

9. Cute colourful ear studs

IMG_3590 I got my ears pierced relatively recently, in comparison to most women, when I was 22. I don’t know if it’s because I never grew up with them or if it’s just a facet of my scatty personality, but I suck at earrings. I forget about them for weeks at a time and I’m always annoyed at myself as I have lots of nice ones, but I’m always worried about looking too ‘overdone’ when I wear them. This casual set of studs is perfect for me, because I can just put in whichever set I see first and go, whatever I’m wearing (ok I make a bit more effort than that, but still). They’re simple, easy and the perfect accessories for when I’m desperate to get out of my boiling hot bedroom in the morning. I got these pretties from ASOS.

10. Smooze Mango Coconut

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Coconut milk and mango ice lollies, I mean come on, do I need to say any more? Get them from your local health food shop. There is a possibility that they’re made for children, but I literally do not care. They are delicious. Here’s there website for help finding them (if you live near a Whole Foods or As Nature Intended, I know they sell them, but I’m not sure about anywhere outside of London!)

Attention people who menstruate: Buddha Nose Girl Balm

I’m really adverse to using everyday painkillers because I don’t believe that drug companies necessarily want the best for us, and I’d rather know what’s happening in my body so I can be aware of changes. That’s just me though, I know everyone is different. And of course that doesn’t mean I don’t get horrendous period cramps every month. Just today I almost blacked out while talking to someone (they didn’t notice). A while ago I went on the hunt for something natural that I could carry around with me as if it were a sleeve of paracetamol, to help me get through the cramps.

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And hey, guess what, I found something! Buddha Nose’s Girl Balm is a thick organic balm made with a glorious mixture of warming ingredients with bright scents that help to sooth away pain and cut through sluggish pain-induced nausea.

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Now obviously, it goes without saying that this doesn’t eliminate pain like popping a pill. What this does is all together more holistic, and healthier. I’m not saying that people with low pain thresholds or extreme cramps will be able to get along with just this, because I’m not one of those people, but I do think that it will restore a sense of wellbeing, help you to calm down and definitely ease that sicky feeling.

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It has a really gorgeous scent –  refreshing ginger and bright, sweet rose geranium. I can smell lemon in the scent too, although there’s none in the balm. There’s no musk or wood in the fragrance at all, which is important because as I said, much of the effectiveness is aromatherapeutic, and those types of scent really don’t help with feeling groggy.

You rub it on your lower belly and back, and if you’re unlucky enough to have pain spreading down your thighs too, pop a bit on them as well. It absorbs very quickly for me. I think that’s because the base oil is jojoba, which is the most easily absorbed oil since it’s closest to human sebum. This also means that the ingredients can be absorbed better, because they’re being held in jojoba. Along with the ginger, black pepper provides the heat, and it’s amazing what an effect these two run of the mill kitchen ingredients have! Obviously, the action of massaging the area has an effect on the pain too, but with this balm you get the added effects of the ingredients, which I do believe are considerable. I also like to pat a bit behind my ears so I can enjoy the scent for longer. Since owning this, I haven’t used a single other form of pain-relief, (apart from warm baths because they’re just nice).

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I think (though I have no actual experience) that this would be a good product for pregnant mums too? The gingery rose scent must be good for hormone induced nausea, and rubbing it on a painful back would be effective no matter what’s going on in your uterus.

I really find that I forget about the pain for a long time after I use this. I can’t say whether that’s because the pain is gone but it definitely doesn’t bother me. I’m so happy I found it, and I really recommend it. I know I sound a bit diplomatic about it, but I would never want to assume someone else experiences pain the same way I do, so although Buddha Nose Girl Balm is perfect for me, I don’t want to try too hard to convince you that it would do the same for you. Hopefully by reading about my experience you’ll be inclined to try it, and will love it as much as I do! The only stockist in the UK that I know of is Naturisimo.com, where you can get it for £20. It’s actually great value I think, given that I’ve had it for half a year and only used that much!

Do you have any natural pain relief tips or tricks?