About Me

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Vegan. Ex-makeup artist. CFS/ME sufferer. Cares about human rights, equality, animal rights, conservation/climate change.


Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Protecting Your Skin, Protecting Animals – Vegan Sunscreen

The bright days of spring are getting longer, and soon they'll turn into the sun-drenched days of summer. Finally, we can emerge from under our coats, scarves and jumpers and spend some time outdoors without getting hypothermia! This is excellent news if you're like me - I loathe the freezing dreariness of winter - but it might not be such good news for your skin.
Ultraviolet radiation from the sun is at it's peak in summertime. This radiation is a leading cause of skin cancer and photoaging, so sunscreen should be a vital part of your skin-care regime.
We usually only spare a thought for sunscreens in summer, but sun damage occurs all year round, even on overcast, winter days. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 70-80% of the sun's rays go through clouds and fog.
Hopefully this article will help you make an informed, cruelty-free and vegan choice about sun protection!

To protect ourselves fully, we need to know what we're up against. There are two types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA (long-wave) and UVB (short-wave). UVA rays account for around 95% of all UV radiation that reaches the Earth's surface. It can penetrate clouds and glass, and is generally at the same intensity all year round, during daylight hours. This type of light does not cause sunburn, but can still cause skin damage that can lead to cancer.
UVA is the main cause of photoaging – that means wrinkles, dark spots and a dull, uneven skin tone.
Take a look at this guy. William McElligott was a truck driver for 28 years. The left side of his face was exposed to sunlight through his window, the right side was in the shade of the cab. This is the result.

UVA is also the chief cause of tanning. There is no such thing as a 'healthy tan', a tan is the skin's response to DNA damage – it darkens to try to protect itself from further damage. The healthiest way to get bronzed is from a self-tan bottle!
UVB rays are the kind that cause sunburn. They also cause photoaging, and are a leading cause of skin cancers. These rays are strongest in the summer months.
Darker skins generally have slightly more protection from the sun (due to higher levels of melanin) but even the deepest tones are not immune to burns and damage. Excess sun exposure tends to cause patchy areas of darker or lighter skin in these skin tones.

So now that we've exposed the sun's evil plot to kill us and/or make us look like wrinkly raisins, we need to protect ourselves!
Effective sunscreens offer broad spectrum protection – keeping both UVA and UVB rays at bay. Experts recommend a minimum of SPF15 all year round to prevent skin cancer and photoaging. For summertime or periods of extended exposure, higher protection may be necessary. At these times it's best to break out the SPF50.
Unfortunately, most of the stuff in the shops is tested on animals, and some contain animal byproducts. But don't worry! I'm here to offer my top vegan sunscreen recommendations!

Superdrug Solait Mattifying Face Fluid SPF50

This non-greasy lotion offers UVA and UVB protection in a hydrating formula. It leaves no white cast, and works perfectly under make-up. It does have a light scent, so it may not be suitable for the most sensitive of skins. It's currently on offer for only £1.99 at Superdrug! I would expect to pay a ton more for a product of this quality, so my advice is to snap it up quick!
I can also vouch for their Clear Spray SPF50 for body, which offers the same high protection and makes you feel wonderfully silky.

EltaMD UV Daily Broad-Spectrum SPF 40

This is on the pricier side, but it has glowing reviews all over the internet. The brand is cruelty-free, and many of their products are vegan. It won't leave a ghostly white cast on your face, and contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin. Available from DermStore, or UK-based peeps can get it from Amazon.

Lovea SPF50 Daily Face Cream

I've heard great things about this sunscreen. As well as high UVA/UVB protection, it contains organic nourishing ingredients like argan oil. It also contains no ingredients that may be harmful to ecosystems like coral reefs. Available at mypure for £17.99. There is also a version for the body available.

Alba Botanica Hawaiian Sunscreen SPF45

This sunscreen contains green tea, aloe vera and sunflower seed oil, as well as broad spectrum SPF. Water resistant for 80 minutes, it is paraben free and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation. It smells heavenly, but I'd suggest using it on your body only, as it stings your eyes like contact lenses made of onion. $11.49 in the US, £7.49 in UK health food shops and at Lucy Rose.

Fragrance and paraben free, this sunscreen is sweat resistant, which is handy when you're out and about on a hot summer's day (my sunscreen needs to withstand hot, crowded public transport – yikes!) UVA/UVB protection. $10.69 in the US, and around £7 to £9 at UK retailers. Available at health stores and VitaminGrocer.

Sun Tips!

  • Sunscreen should be applied 30 minutes before sun exposure to give it time to sink in, to ensure you are protected fully.
  • You should use around 1oz, or a shot glass full, to cover your whole body. For just your face, a quarter of a teaspoon is enough.
  • Wait 3 minutes after application before putting on make-up. Don't rely on make-up with an SPF, you'd have to apply a ton to get the SPF on the label, and that would look like a cakey mess!
  • Sunscreen degrades with continued sun exposure over time. If you are in the sun for more that 3 hours straight, reapply every 3 hours to ensure you are still protected.
  • Reapply after swimming or bathing.
  • Vitamin D is important, but getting it from the sun means risking skin damage. To stay sun safe and healthy, I recommend taking a vitamin D supplement, such as Vitashine vegan vitamin D3.
  • Wear sunglasses outside to prevent sun damage to the eyes (which can cause cataracts). This also stops you from squinting against the sun, which can cause crow's feet!
  • It's easy to get dehydrated in the heat. Carry a bottle of water at all times, and remember that most restaurants and coffee shops will refill it with tap water for free. Hydrated body = plump, healthy looking skin! If you do get dehydrated, drink coconut water to replace electrolytes.
  • Wear a hat. Not only will you look super stylish, it can prevent your head from overheating and your scalp from burning.

Now go forth and enjoy the sunshine!

Til next time,


This is not a sponsored post, and contains no affiliate links. William McElligott picture via Huffington Post. References: Skin Cancer Foundation, Paula's Choice

Monday, 10 March 2014

Released By Love - Behind The Scenes Photoshoot!

Last year I worked on an elaborate engagement shoot with Vivida's Simeon Quarrie. The theme was 'Released by Love', the bride was a beautiful marionette doll, the groom snuck in to free her from her strings, before they strolled off into the sunset - hand in hand and utterly in love. It was great fun to work on, and the location was unreal! See if you can spot the door in the ceiling!

What do you think?

Til Next Time,

Friday, 7 March 2014

B. Firm Day Cream SPF 20 Review

I am a skincare fanatic. I carefully choose what I use on my skin, determined to get the most bang for my buck. All whilst keeping it cruelty-free and vegan, of course. So I thought I'd share with you a product that has been through my rigorous testing regime, and passed with flying colours.

B. Skincare has three 'phases'. Phase One is for the first signs of aging - to use in your 20s and 30s. Phase Two is for use in your late 30s and 40s, and Phase Three was created for mature skin, 50 years or older. Let me just say that I disregarded this and went straight for Phase Three. My skin is very dry, and products tailored for older skin are usually richer - helping to lock moisture in. Plus, when I have a choice of potent anti-aging ingredients or weaker ones, it's a no brainer, right? Surely it's better to stop a wrinkle as it is forming rather than waiting til after the damage has been done? 

So rebel me bought Phase Three B.Firm Day Cream in Superdrug, on special offer at £6.97 - that's over half price! I couldn't resist. The cream is bursting with anti-aging ingredients, Reforcyl, a blend of plant extracts which supposedly 'Measurably improves skin elasticity by 16% in just 4 weeks', niacinamide, a B vitamin which helps to reduce hyperpigmentation when applied topically, and a tetrapeptide. Peptides are amazing for anti-aging, and have become something of a beauty buzz-word in recent years. Peptides are chains of amino acids - a tetrapeptide contains four. Protein is made of amino acids, and your skin is made of protein (namely collagen). When collagen breaks down, your body recognises the amino acids left behind, which stimulates it to make more collagen. Peptides are able to penetrate the skin, tricking it into thinking its collagen is breaking down, which means, hey presto, more collagen is produced!

This is all brilliant for anti-aging, and I do feel like my skin has been firmer since using it. I'm most impressed by it's hydration - it's very difficult to find a product that will quench my thirsty skin and leave it feeling soft for longer than five minutes after application. This product delivers. The product page boasts that it 'Significantly increases hydration by 72% after just one day's wear', and I'd believe it. This must be due to the high levels of hyaluronic acid - another beauty buzz-word - a powerful humectant which helps the skin retain water. Hyaluronic acid is naturally present in the skin, but levels decline as we age. 

The main reason I bought B. Firm Day Cream is not only for its impressive anti-aging arsenal, but because it contains SPF 20. According to research, the sun's UV rays account for 80% of skin aging, and most of this isn't happening on your summer holiday, but every day, even in cloudy conditions, and in winter. So if you're interested in looking young for as long as you can, skincare with SPF is a must.

The cream is thick and absorbs well, with a light fragrance that isn't overpowering.

Another thing I like about this cream is how well it applies under make-up. I've had issues with moisturisers pilling into little balls of product when you try to apply make-up over them, but with this it went on very smoothly, almost like I was wearing a primer. I also can't bear strong 'perfumey' fragrances in skincare, and this has a light, fresh scent which is almost undetectable. 

A moisturiser has to tick a lot of boxes to impress me, and this one has managed it, plus it's a bargain! Suitable for vegans and certified cruelty-free by the BUAV. You couldn't really ask for more!

Til next time,


Product was bought by me. All opinions are my own. Gif from Imgur.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

2013 Flashback - 60s Jet Set Shoot

Seeing as my last post was a bit depressing, I thought I'd better tell you about some of the fun things I got up to in 2013!

One such thing was organising a photo shoot featuring my beautiful niece, who happens to be teen actress Lucinda Mason. Not only did I design the hair and make-up, I also acted as stylist - sourcing the clothing and accessories. I put a lot of work into this shoot, and I'd like to think it paid off!

The first thing I did was come up with the theme. I was inspired by my model rushing around, travelling between home, school, Sylvia Young Theatre School, castings and photo shoots. She's a busy girl! So I decided to go with 'Jet Set' - an in-demand young model/actress, flitting through the streets of London, from social events to jobs, all the while maintaining a calm, sophisticated elegance. I was inspired by the charm and poise of film stars from yesteryear, such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. I decided to base the styling and make-up on the early sixties.

I headed over to Pinterest and compiled a mood board of inspiration images. I sent these to Lucinda and our photographer, so we would all be on the same page.

Mood Board - Pictures via Pinterest
Next, I set about scouring the shops and eBay for the clothes and accessories. It would have been easy if I'd had a bigger budget!

Our photographer was the talented Stephanie Yt Chan. She takes amazing pictures and is an absolute joy to work with. I cannot recommend her enough! We did the make-up and hair at Stephanie's apartment in Chelsea, and shot in the surrounding areas.

Would you like to see the final images?

Blouse - Spitalfield's Market. Skirt - H&M. Gloves - Vintage. Bracelet - Vintage. Bag and Headband - New Look. Shoes - Peacocks. Sunglasses - Festival Specs
Dress - Dorothy Perkins. Earrings - Peacocks. Headband - New Look
Top & Headband- New Look. Skirt - Dorothy Perkins. Bag - Primark. Necklace & Shoes - Vintage.
Dress, Earrings & Suitcase - Vintage. Headband - New Look. Sunglasses - Festival Specs
Headband - New Look. Jacket - H&M. Dress - Forever21. Shoes - Primark. Earrings & Necklace - Vintage. Hat Box - Maison Michael.
Headband & Jacket - New Look. Top - Primark. Jeans - Oasis. Satchel - LYDC. Shoes - Peacocks. Jewellery - Vintage.

Make-up Breakdown!

Face -

Gosh Velvet Touch Foundation Primer.

Illuminare Concealing Extra Coverage Mineral Foundation - as concealer.

OCC Skin Airbrush Make-up for foundation, highlight, contour and blush.

ELF HD Powder in Clear.

Eyes - 

Shadow and Brows - white and taupe Yaby shadows.

Black Liner and Painted lower lashes - Yaby black cake liner mixed with ELF Studio Lock & Seal.

White Liner - Barry M white kohl.

Mascara - Barry M Intense Black Mascara 3 in 1.

Lashes - Ardell.

Lips - 

OCC Lip Tars, custom blended, mixed with Barry M Lip Gloss Wand in Clear.

For the hair, I started out by curling Lucinda's hair using large barreled tongs, putting each curl into a large velcro roller as I went. I used Superdrug Style Expertise Heat Spray beforehand, and Superdrug Hairspray Ultra Firm Hold afterwards. I then dressed out the hair, forming a small beehive on her crown and fixing it with bobby pins. I gave it a final spray with the hairspray. For some of the pictures, I pinned Lucinda's long hair up, twisting it into a french pleat.

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as we enjoyed the shoot! 

Stay tuned, there's a review coming up!


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Where Have I Been? A Confession

The more observant among you may have noticed that I haven't been a very frequent blogger. Me and blogging have a kind of long distance relationship - it's great when we're together, but we spend too much time apart. So I've decided to write this post to get you up to date and tell you the reason I haven't written a post in over a year! 

Now this is quite difficult for me to admit, because I've been hiding it or downplaying it to all but my closest friends and family. 

I've been ill. 

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression. There, I said it. It's in the open. That wasn't so hard, was it? So why have I been so reluctant to tell people? Because I'm vegan. Let me explain.

A lot of vegans, myself included, feel like ambassadors - representing veganism to omnivores wherever we go. To a lot of my friends, clients and acquaintances, I'm the only vegan they know. If the only vegan they know is sick, it doesn't give a very good impression. And if somebody chose not to go vegan because of me, that would be awful. The animals they ate - their blood would be on my hands.

Of course my illness isn't caused or contributed to by my vegan diet. The diagnosis of CFS is reached by eliminating other causes of fatigue until there are none left. The first thing they check is your diet and blood for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Multiple blood tests came back completely normal, and the dietitian I was referred to said I had the healthiest diet of anyone they'd seen!
In all my research I've only ever come across one other vegan with CFS. (She's lovely, by the way, a real inspiration.) I'm a member of many vegan groups and forums, too, and found the vast majority to be in the best of health.

I didn't want to be the stereotypical pale, skinny, ill vegan.
But I knew that wouldn't matter to people. They were going to take one look at me and make a connection in their minds between illness and veganism. I couldn't let that happen. So I hid it. When you work freelance, it's easy to have a rest between jobs and outings to allow yourself to recover.  Every once in a while you can put on a smile and hide the debilitating tiredness, knowing you'll pay for it tomorrow. However, as time went on, the gaps between working grew wider, and the depression that has afflicted me since childhood worsened. There are few things more frustrating than being unable to live the life you want, be active and do the things you love. 

Because there is no official consensus on the causes or cure for CFS, the NHS simply don't treat it. They don't even try. All I have ever been offered is occupational therapy, to help me adapt and cope with my limitations. So out of desperation I began my own research online into treatments.

There is a vast array of information and misinformation out there about CFS treatments. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent reading and researching, how much money I've spent on supplements and herbs that had no effect. I've pored over every post in every forum, desperate for some glimmer of hope. 

In the course of my research, I came across what I believe to be one of the main causes of CFS. Methylation problems. Put simply, the methylation cycle is the way the brain uses folic acid and vitamin B12, converting them into a range of chemicals needed by the brain and body. This process is controlled by certain genes, and mutations in these genes can cause illness. Looking through the list of diseases caused was like looking through my medical history - CFS, depression, anxiety, IBS, ADHD. It is also said to cause autism, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, heart problems, and a host of other conditions too numerous to mention. So I immediately set about learning all I could about the methylation cycle and the associated genes. I mean, how hard could it be?

I got my DNA tested at 23andme and ran the results through geneticgenie and nutrahacker. I found that I had a lot of mutations in the genes responsible for methylation, and in genes that research has linked to depression, IBS, and CFS. 

So, with my GP's blessing, I have begun a treatment plan, a 'methylation protocol'. The supplements recommended vary depending on your specific mutations, but usually consist of methylcobalamin and methylfolate, easily absorbed forms of B12 and folic acid. They advise starting with low doses and gradually increasing them, with some doctors and experts recommending many times the RDA. 

I haven't been taking the supplements for long, but I have been noticing subtle improvements.

Hopefully my health will continue to improve, and I will be able to work more often. In the meantime, I intend to resume blogging. So watch this space for new posts...

*** Disclaimer - The info here is provided for entertainment purposes only. I am not a doctor or medical professional, consult your doctor before you start any supplements and never self-diagnose! ***

For more information, look up Dr Amy Yasko, Rich Van Konynenburg, 'Methylation Made Easy' on Youtube, and the Phoenixrising.me forums.

Photographs from Google Images.