How to have a zero waste shower

When the news came out about how lots of our ‘recycled’ plastic actually ends up in dumps on the other side of the world, I realised I had to start cutting down on unnecessary bottles. I’ve always been low-key worried about plastic consumption, and never really saw recycling as the answer, but I’d kind of repressed that worry for years because I didn’t know what to do about it. But after seeing those news reports, and learning about microplastic pollution, I decided that I was going to make changes. At the time, my bathroom was completely covered in tubes and bottles of shower gel (a byproduct of working in the beauty industry and being addicted to long hot showers) and so I decided that once they were all used up, I would try out bar soap in the shower instead. I was worried that bar soaps might dry my skin out – but if that happened, I decided I’d just apply body oil afterwards to counteract the effects.

What it did for my skin

It’s been almost a year since we started using bar soap full time again, and you’ll be amazed to lean that the skin on my body has barely needed moisturising at all in that time. Maybe once or twice a month, rather than after every shower. It turns out that apparently, soap and body skin (still not sure about the face) are perfectly suited, and I actually have SOFTER skin than before! There are lots of ways to use soap – if you rub it on a body puff you’ll be virtually drowning in bubbles before you know it (very fun), but obviously they aren’t ideal because they’re made out of plastic. Otherwise, you can just rub the soap directly all over your body, or rub it in your hands until it lathers, and then massage that all over. You can also buy a natural sponge, but they’re expensive as hell (and not vegan), or a loofah, but they’re pretty harsh and I can’t seem to get them to soften up.

How to shave with soap and a safety razor

Given the hundreds of shaving products lining up alongside all those plastic razors in the shops, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’d need something from all those shelves to successfully shave your unwanted body hair. But as it turns out, that’s just not true. Bar soap is perfectly adequate for shaving your skin, and safety razors are brilliant! To get a thick lather for shaving, wet the soap ever so slightly, rub it between your palms to get them well covered, and then rub your hands fairly vigorously over your leg (or wherever) until you get a good layer of white over your skin. Then shave away! It is slightly different to shaving with a disposable, but this blog post is getting long so I’ll revisit that later. My safety razor is by Bambaw, and I like it because it has a bamboo handle, which lessens the amount of metal that went into making it.

What about guests?

I don’t know about you buy I’m not going to make my guests use the same bar of soap as me, or even make them use bar soap at all if they don’t want to. Instead, I keep a glass bottle of Bloomtown Botanicals’ divine Hedgerow Body Wash in the shower for guests to use.

Zero waste exfoliators

I exfoliate with this Body Shop hemp bag – you just put a bar of soap in it and rub all over yourself. But when I remember, I also like to use leftover coffee grounds – I just stir in a bit of coconut oil or tea tree to make sure they don’t go mouldy.

Which soap to choose?

There are sooooo many bars of soap out there that it can be hard to pick (and very easy to go totally wild and fill your bathroom up with them…) so I thought I’d share a list of the ones I’ve tried so far, to give you an idea of what to look for, and what to avoid!

Lush soaps

These were the first we tried, and I hated them. They don’t lather up at all when you rub them on your skin, and don’t leave you feeling particularly clean. I also got a UTI while using them, I don’t know if the two things were related, but I’ve only ever had one UTI in my life before, and haven’t had one since. Do not recommend. 3/10 (only for the scents)

BECO Soap

I’ve tried the honey blossom and spring meadow scents and I think they’re both delicate and lovely. The soap itself cleans really well, and fits into my small hands perfectly. But the most amazing things about this soap are its eco and socially conscious credentials. They employ people with visual impairments, disabilities and financial disadvantages, and go the extra mile to accommodate their employees’ needs. That is tragically unusual, and absolutely brilliant in my opinion. In addition to that, their bar soaps are totally plastic free (including unlaminated boxes, which very few brands actually offer) and their ingredients are sustainably sourced. AND AND AND!!! You can get them in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and the Co-op. Effortless, eco friendly and the most socially conscious company I’ve come across. 11/10

Aesop Cleansing Slab

I’m so frustrated that Aesop wrap this in shrinkwrap plastic! If they didn’t do that, this would be one of my favourite soaps. The scent is divine, it leaves my skin perfectly clean, and it creates a super rich lather. It’s certainly the most expensive soap I’ve tried, but at £17 it’s less than I would have expected from Aesop. If it didn’t have that plastic on it, it’d be a solid ten, but as it is, 8/10

Faith in Nature Lavender Soap

For some reason I expected this to be rubbish, I’m not sure why, but all I can say is I was completely wrong! This is a great soap, really lovely lavender scent, and the best part is, this is one that can be bought completely packaging free in some health food shops! Plastic wrapped in others though. 8/10

Oliva Soap

I like the simplicity and affordability of this soap, but it doesn’t smell good, and it isn’t the most ‘lather-ey’. My skin didn’t feel very clean when I was using it, so I did a second cleanse with the Aesop afterwards. I ended up throwing it away because I couldn’t stand the smell, but it is a very tightly packed soap so it’s good value for money. 2/10

Dr Bronner’s Rose Geranium Soap

Love love love this soap. It’s a great shape, perfect for rubbing all over yourself, and it cleans just as well as their liquid soap. It’s a great option, not too expensive, and very solid so it lasts really well. Oh and, like with BECO, this comes in unlaminated card packaging. 9/10

Suma Rose Geranium Glycerin Soap

I LOVE this soap! I find the way it goes clear when it’s wet to be really satisfying, and the circular shape is really easy to hold. It lathers really well and it also leaves my skin feeling very soft too. This is also another one that you can buy packaging free in health food shops, or in an unlaminated box. 10/10

MOR Cyclamen Tuberose Soap

This is without a doubt the most heavily scented soap I’ve ever had in my possession. Luckily, the fragrance is absolutely divine, it’s like a Diptyque candle! It’s heady and floral but not at all sweet, I really love it. And you can get it from Waitrose. When I bought it I thought I was onto a winner – wrapped in brown card with a beautiful design, held together with a rubber band… but then I opened it and discovered it was wrapped in plastic. Eyeroll. 7/10

Well, I hope you found that useful! I’m on a mission to zero-waste my entire bathroom, so keep an eye out for a follow-up blog post when/if I ever manage it…

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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).

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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 😉

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

The best bath products ever

I love a good bath. In fact, I need them. I suffer from severe anxiety, which gives me terrible muscle tightness. I find that a warm bath, with candles and some gentle music helps to relax my body and slow my racing mind better than almost anything. Sometimes, especially when I use particularly fragrant bath product, I’ll even sit in the pitch darkness whilst I soak, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I love it.

Unsurprisingly then, I get through a lot of bath products, and now that the weather is getting colder (and apparently will be getting VERY cold indeed this year) I thought you might like to read about some of my all-time favourite bath products!

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Homemade bath salts – £4.95 approx

The ones in this photo are a mixture of Himalayan pink salt and epsom salts, dried rose petals and lavender essential oil. Bath salts are particularly amazing for sore muscles from sport and exercise. It’s quite inexpensive if you do it yourself by buying your own essential oil and a giant bag of salts like these from Westlab which are the ones I use. However, it can be tricky to get intense or more complex scents by DIY-ing it, so if you want a bath that will be less practical and more sensual, keep reading…

Olverum Bath Oil – £32

This is hands down my favourite bath prodcut on the face of the earth. Nothing compares to this formula, unchanged since the 1930s. It’s all natural combination of pine, lavender, eucalyptus, lemon verbena, which creates the most relaxing, soothing vapours you could possibly imagine. I pour it on my skin when I’m in the bath and then let the water gently wash it around so that I can absolutely maximise my experience of the scent, because the thing about this is, it’s pretty expensive. If I could afford it, I would use this all the time, but for now it’s really just a ‘treat’.

Weleda Bath Soak – £14.95

This is the perfect affordable alternative to Olverum. I absolutely love the Pine scent, which is the one pictured here, but I also ADORE the Lavender, Rosemary and Arnica scents. And the great thing is, they are 100% natural, nourishing and really potently scented so they last for aaaages. I reckon you could mix them up and get a very similar scent to Olverum too – Lavender, Rosemary and Pine are the main ingredients in that too! All in all, these are a fantastic choice for lovely, relaxing baths. Get them here.

KINN Living Bath Oil – £28

This is a delightful, subtly scented bath oil that’s 99.5% organic. The scent is ylang ylang, lavender and tangerine and it’s so delicate and beautiful. The oil base is really nourishing on the skin too. I love this brand, founded by a mother-daughter duo who wanted to create a range of toxin-free home and bodycare products.

Geo Mitchell Relax, Naturally Bath Salts – £14.50

This is another amazing small brand, who have a gorgeous range of products that include natural home fragrances, essential oils and bath salts. These Relax, Naturally bath salts are amazing, combining lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and peppermint oils in a dead sea salt and epsom salt base. It’s super relaxing but somehow also invigorating?! You get out of the bath feeling like a new person! I love it. It’s great in the bath but also probably one of the best things I’ve ever used as a soak for tired feet. Geo Mitchell have also very kindly provided me with a discount code for you: enter LYB15 for 15% off your first order!

Caudalie Purifying Mask – £22

This is my all-time favourite mask, but that’s not the only reason I’m including it in this list – the other is that it’s a mask that you can leave on for pretty much as long as you like – it doesn’t dry out, which means you don’t have to get out of the bath when your skin starts feeling tight! This mask reduces inflammation and removes impurities to help fix blemishes and give you a smooth, clear complexion. It smells gorgeous and is super gentle on the skin too. Cannot recommend it highly enough! Get it on Look Fantastic, here.

The Best Body Oils For Summer

HELLO! It’s me, with a blog post?! Yes I haven’t been blogging much lately, I have loads in my drafts I’m just focusing on other things at the moment. You know how it is. But I had to share my favourite recommendations for summery body oils because the wonderful weather we’ve been having has totally inspired me.

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For me, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I need to moisturise after I wash. I have dry skin on my body, which turns to eczema in winter but in summer I just get a bit of scaliness and roughness (nice). And of course when the inevitable post-burn ‘peeling’ happens, I need to exfoliate and moisturise even more! Hasn’t happened yet, but it’s early days yet, despite it feeling like we’ve already had our yearly allocation of sun about five times over! So anyway, onto my recommendations for body oils. I love body oils, and much prefer them to body creams. One thing to remember if you aren’t an oil convert yet, is that body oils are nearly always far more naturally derived than creams, and when you’re applying a product to such a large surface area, you should really be using something natural. These three are all light enough to be suitable for sticky summer days, but nourishing enough to leave your skin feeling gorgeously soft. Their fragrances are all very different, but each one is perfect for sunny days in its own unique way.

Aesop Geranium Lead Hydrating Body Treatment

This is the freshest smelling and most luxuriously textured of the three oils – the lightly floral fragrance of geranium leaf is combined with mandarin and bergamot for a really uplifting but intoxicating experience. It reminds me of extremely fragrant English country gardens, you know when the sun has been beating down all day and the flowers are just radiating their scents? It’s a wonderful massage oil as well, but I love to use it any time of the day – it absorbs very quickly when you apply a normal amount, but if you want to massage with it, just use more. It absorbs completely either way, you’re never left feeling sticky! I absolutely love the way this oil feels when you apply it – it truly is everything you could want in an oil. The scent lasts for a good while, as you’d expect from a luxury oil. The nourishing base is almond and macadamia oils which are both really rich in vitamin E, an essential antioxidant for preserving youthful skin. Get it from Beauty Expert, here.

Yves Rocher Orange Blossom, Lavender and Pettigrain Botanical Oil

First of all, I’m so sorry to have to direct you to Yves Rocher’s terrible website, but that’s the only way you can get their products in the UK! It’s worth it, I promise. This oil is glorious. It’s thick, but wastes no time absorbing. The scent of this one is primarily orange blossom or fleur d’oranger if you’re fancy, I can’t really get any lavender or pettigrain but that’s fine for me because orange blossom is my favourite fragrance IN THE WORLD. I absolutely cannot get enough of it. Orange blossom makes me feel so happy, it’s one of the most magically uplifting scents in the world. It’s rich and heady, like jasmine, but without being overwhelming, there’s a fresh element to is as well. I’ve had this oil for two summers and it’s still going strong, despite regular use, so it’s also fantastic value for money. The oils in it are very hardy – rapeseed, sunflower, coconut and macadamia, which makes it very effective at softening and nourishing the skin. The smell lasts at least half a day, which is incredible for a body oil if you ask me! Get it from their website here.

Lush Elbow Grease

I feel like I bang on about this oil at least once a week, whether online or in real life, but I just can’t get over how much I love the smell. It’s so tropical without being sweet or sickly, just makes me feel like I’m wandering through a flower garden in Tahiti or somewhere. It reminds me a lot of monoi oil although it doesn’t actually contain any – the scent is neroli, orange blossom, rosewood and ylang ylang. If you want to read more about this glorious slice of cosmetic heaven, you can read my full blog post on it here.

 

 

Skyn Iceland Skin Hangover Kit*

Why is it that getting older means worse hangovers? I don’t drink that often but when I do it’s like being hit with a tonne of bricks, it never used to be like that!! I know I’m not the only one, and I have a feeling that those brutal late-twenties/early-thirties hangovers may have been the inspiration behind this brilliant product I’m going to tell you all about…

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Skyn Iceland is a brand formulated with millenial women in mind. Their tagline is ‘Solutions for stressed skin’ and who among us doesn’t have stressed skin right about now? Whether it’s work deadlines, wedding planning, buying a house, kids, money, dealing with your landlord, worrying about pollution, concerned by the state of the world or literally suffering from anxiety, we’re all stressed out by something. Skyn knows this all too well, and their products are formulated to help support, soothe and care for your skin during stressful periods. I love brands like this, ones that think about what you want, rather than coming up with things to make you want. The Skin Hangover Kit illustrates this perfectly. Containing a detox mask, cooling gel eye patches, a hydrating moisturiser and a refreshing eye cream, it’s designed to help you feel fresh and awake on days where you can’t just pull the duvet up over your head and pretend last night never happened. Grab yourself a large glass of water and let me tell you more about it!

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Fresh Start Mask Sachets

I absolutely love this mask – I have a box of the sachets as well and enjoy using it whenever my skin is feeling dull. The first sachet contains blue clay to deep cleanse and purify, and the second sachet contains an activating gel which creates an effervescent effect to further stimulate the skin, and give you a really refreshed feeling. It’s a hangover cure it itself, even without the rest of the brilliant products in this kit! Buy this on its own here.

Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels

These lovely little patches help to de-puff the eyes and reduce fine lines with cooling and deeply hydrating ingredients. After just ten minutes they leave you looking totally fresh, absolutely perfect for when you wake up bleary-eyed and puffy. Buy a full pack of them here.

Icelandic Relief Eye Cream

I absolutely love this eye cream. It smells minty and initially I expected it to be like putting menthol under my eyes (cue: weeping!) but it’s very subtle indeed, just enough to make your eyes feel bright and awake without overdoing the tingling sensation. This eye cream helps to target puffiness for the rest of the day (after your eye gels have taken away the bulk of it), as well as reducing dark circles and fine lines. The eyes are the part of the face that really gives you away when you have a hangover, but these two together sort them right out. Buy this on its own here.

The Antidote Cooling Daily Lotion

Of course, there’s no point looking better if you don’t feel better, and while the wonderful eye products do help to relieve that tired-eye feeling, there’s still a whole face that needs some tlc! Once you use the mask, follow it with The Antidote which cools facial skin instantly, and really, deeply hydrates. I’m very picky about moisturisers so wasn’t expecting to like this, especially when I was hungover and moody, but I really felt better after applying this. The Fresh Start Mask gives your skin a wake-up call but this maintains that ‘awake’ feeling! Buy this on its own here.

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James and I tried the kit out the morning after celebrating a little too hard. We climbed Ben Nevis and may have overindulged on prosecco afterwards, and woke up feeling a little worse for wear. The Skin Hangover Kit contains two of both the single-use products, and plenty of the other two products so you can share it with your significant other, or a friend while you sip coffee and complain! The four products come inside a resealable packet, which means you could buy more of the single use products (both available separately, here for the mask and here for the eye gels) and restock the kit to bring with you if you’re going somewhere. I think it’s perfect for after a big night of celebration, such as a wedding, graduation, work party or housewarming, and I also think it would make a really nice bridesmaid gift, or something to put in your best friend’s bridal suit, perhaps a cheeky secret santa or even a going away to uni present! Get it here for £17.

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.

 

 

WHAT IS SELF CARE?

Ever since the concept of self care became a thing that we actively talk about, people have tried to define it in lots of different ways. I have to say, I’ve found a lot of these definitions lacking, because most of the time they seem to invalidate what one person does, in order to validate another person’s self care techniques. I’ve seen people laugh at and bully a wonderful internet activist who created an app reminding people to drink enough water. I’ve seen people describe taking a bath as ‘self care for people without any problems’. I’ve seen websites promote buying £200 weighted blankets for ‘luxury’ wellbeing, while these very same blankets are desperately needed by people with ADHD who often can’t afford them. I’ve seen people implying that the only valid form of self care is basic maintenance (sleeping, eating, drinking) whilst other people claim that meditation and mindfulness are the only true ways to perform self care. Others will tell you that self care is worthless if you don’t love yourself. The concept of self care is turning out to be quite a complex one, and I wanted to spend a little time unpacking it, to shed light on what has become so unexpectedly confusing.

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I believe that the root of the problem is consumerism. Brands have had a hugely negative impact on the way people view self care. Above, I mentioned a listicle of luxury self care items, and this is where I think the problem comes from. Most people will have first heard about self care in the media, so they see it as something luxurious, an indulgence. Something they have to spend money on. This makes many people who are truly in dire need of self care reject it, because it seems frivolous. It isn’t the bubble bath that’s the problem, it’s the women’s lifestyle website telling you that you need to spend £100 on accoutrements to go with your bubble bath.

This has led to people feeling that it doesn’t reflect what they actually need, and I completely understand. Just like the trivialisation of the word ‘triggered’ affected me in therapy, where we used the word when discussing trauma, thoughtless media treatment has put people off self care because they feel silly talking about it. This is why I’ve decided to spend time earnestly talking about it; I know how important it is, and want help other people see that self care isn’t a fancy lifestyle choice, it’s a basic choice that helps you live your life.

Some people have tried to get around this trivialisation by moving the goalposts – describing self care as being only things like taking meds, drinking water, brushing your teeth. But I believe this makes some very unhelpful assumptions, and doesn’t clear things up at all. First of all, it assumes that self care is only for people who are ill. It’s also very ignorant of the fact that illness and wellness both take many, many forms. You cannot make a statement about self care being one thing but not another, because you don’t know what other people need. At the Foodbank I volunteer at, we put bodycare products like lotion or bubble bath in with our monthly menstrual parcels, we put chocolate into all of the food boxes and we put lipbalm into every homeless food box. Why? Because people need more than just baked beans and tinned vegetables. They need to feel like a human being. Many people across the world go through terrible, horrible things whether it’s due to poverty, sickness, grief or abuse. They don’t just require basic self maintenance to feel better. I truly believe that there is a gross lack of empathy in a lot of conversations around self care.

The NHS describes self care as being the different ways you can look after yourself, both mentally and physically. What we really need to understand is that this looks different for absolutely every single person on earth. And we need to accept that we can never, ever know how much another person needs their self care, how hard their journey is or what’s going on with them. Self care can also be very hard for some people. Roxane Gay makes a very good point that this concept of self care seems to her like yet another thing women are expected to be good at, and I’ve been there; I used to suck at self care too. But you cannot expect people to be able to learn how to practice self care if it doesn’t sound accessible, or attainable. The only answer is to eschew rampant consumerism and to be empathetic when others talk about their self care. We should be open about how we like to look after ourselves, both the elaborate and simple methods, and be honest about how that doesn’t always mean doing what we want to do. You can’t change what self care is – it already is what it is.

What we should be spending our time doing is discussing how to ensure we make honest choices about self care, because it doesn’t always mean doing whatever you want. Being honest with yourself about what you actually need is essential. For example, you might really want to spend four hours cooking a fancy meal to cheer yourself up, but perhaps you only want to do that to procrastinate some less fun chores? Skipping school or work might be something you do need to do once in a while, but you must be careful – why are you skipping it and what are you doing instead?

Every human being on the planet deserves to practice self care, and some people find it harder than others. The most important thing to remember is not to be negative about what one person is doing to care for themselves, because you don’t know how much they need it, why they need it or what they’re going through. But next time you see a magazine listing the “40 Best Self Care items you need”, ignore it.