About Me

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


Friday, 27 March 2015

zk'in Certified Organic Skincare Review

I am a skincare addict. Cleansing, exfoliation, moisturisation are my mantras. My way of life. So when I was given the opportunity to trial a 100% vegan skincare range brand new to the UK, I was rather excited!
Excited Space Cat gif
Yeah, I suppose I could review it, or whatever...
(gif via tumblr, source unknown)
Before we get onto my review, you better get out your notepads, because I'm gonna educate you on the brand.

zk'in is the brainchild of Grace Culhaci, who created the brand after developing a skin condition during her first pregnancy. The whole range is certified organic, cruelty-free and vegan! 

Things I love about the brand- 

1. They are kind to the planet 
Damn, that is a sweet Earth, you might say.
Image via graphicstock
  • Products contain no petrochemicals (which come from fossil fuels)
  • They use recyclable packaging from sustainable forests
  • They are mostly palm oil free except for a small amount of sustainable RSPO certified palm oil where unavoidable
  • They aim to be carbon neutral, and their waste management practices have achieved 95% diversion from landfill
  • The ingredients are produced using organic farming, meaning no harmful pesticides or herbicides are introduced into the environment.

2. They use clinically active ingredients, with evidence backed by independent clinical trials
Science Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I like to know that the ingredients in my skincare are going to be truly effective. It's a huge thumbs down for me if products use folk remedies, old wives tales or even homeopathy to make claims about their efficacy. I need evidence!

3. They don't use unrealistically photoshopped models. While they will still 'tidy up' their images (removing stray hairs, adjusting lighting, etc) zk'in vow to be honest in the representation of their models.
zk'in model Tanya Linney
zk'in model Tanya Linney. Image via zk'in

Things I don't love about the brand

1. They promote the fallacy that natural = good, and synthetic = bad. I like that natural products are often better for the environment, but that doesn't mean that synthetic ingredients are always chock full of harmful toxins and carcinogens. 
Zero Tolerance To Unnatural Ingredients. Most organic beauty standards allow for the use of petrochemical preservatives in their products, zk'in has a zero tolerance approach to synthetics and chemicals, only using a 100% natural preservative system.
Excerpt from zk'in's Honest Beauty booklet 
The most common cosmetic preservatives are parabens. Parabens are often demonised because they are mildly oestrogenic, which makes people panic and assume they are going to cause oestrogen sensitive cancers, like breast cancer. Parabens are 10,000 to 100,000 less potent than the oestrogen the body makes naturally. They do not build up in the skin or organs, have never been found to be carcinogenic, and they biodegrade easily in the environment. Parabens occur naturally in some fruits. (Source)

2. They promote a dangerous alternative cancer treatment.
In the brand's promotional Honest Beauty booklet, the CEO, Grace, mentions using 'vitamin B17' to try to treat an inoperable tumour pressing on her optic nerve. This is actually not a vitamin at all, but laetrile or amygdalin, a substance that produces cyanide when digested. (Source)
During my second pregnancy I was diagnosed withan inoperable tumour on my optic nerve. This condition, undiagnosed for many years had affected the vision in my right eye. This hurdle focused my attention on living a healthy organic lifestyle with a vitamin B17 nutritional program. Together with the honestly pure products we have created I now live a beautiful, pain-free life.
Excerpt from zk'in's Honest Beauty booklet
The idea is that the cyanide kills the cancer cells, but there is no evidence that this works, and the treatment poses major risks of cyanide poisoning. I understand too well how it feels to be clutching at straws with your health, while the medical field shrug their collective shoulders. It is one thing to choose a potentially dangerous alternative treatment for yourself, but quite another to promote it with no mention of risks in an unrelated skincare booklet.

Make of that what you will, but now...

On To My Review!

I received four full size products, and some samples of their other products.
Zk'in Calming Cream Cleanser, Hydrating Mist, and Relief Moisturiser Boxes
Calming Cream Cleanser, Hydrating Mist, and Relief Moisturiser

zk'in Brightening and Hydrating Masque and samples, in packaging
Brightening and Hydrating Masque and samples

 As you can see, the products came in cardboard boxes. These may be recycled, but I couldn't help thinking it would be better for the environment if this extra packaging was done away with altogether. 
zk'in Calming Cream Cleanser, Hydrating Mist and Relief Moisturiser, unboxed
Calming Cream Cleanser, Hydrating Mist and Relief Moisturiser
I like that the packaging is hygienic (no fingers dipping in tubs, introducing bacteria). I would've preferred to get a little more in the full size products, though. 50ml of moisturiser doesn't usually last me long! Luckily with most of the products a little goes a long way.
zk'in Brightening and Hydrating Masque, and samples unboxed
Brightening and Hydrating Masque, and samples.

The Calming Cream Cleanser is a soothing and hydrating milk. It dissolves heavy make-up with ease, even mascara (although it's not meant for eyes, and will sting if it gets in there!) I love that it contains oats, one of my favourite ingredients for hydrating and soothing sore or inflamed skin. My tip is to find an old pair of laddered tights (clean!) and cut the foot off. Fill it with a couple of good handfuls of oats, tie it off, and hang it from your bath tap letting the warm water run through it. Great for sunburn or eczema! Anyway, the only fault I can find with this cleanser is the smell - it kind of reminds me of play-doh!? 
zk'in Calming Cream Cleanser is £15.95 at Love Lula.

The Hydrating Mist is very refreshing, and I really feel it boosts the skin's hydration compared to just moisturiser alone. It has a very strong lavender scent, so this might be a little much for people sensitive to fragrances and essential oils. It would be great to mist on to rejuvenate your make-up after a long day. Hydrating Mist is £22.95.

I was surprised by the Brightening and Hydrating Masque. I was expecting it to be a white, creamy moisture mask, but it was a clay mask! It smells of essential oils and cocoa - again, these products are not for you if you prefer fragrance-free skincare! The mask leaves the skin slightly flushed, a common side effect of clay masks, but I found my skin was a little brighter and clearer the morning after I used it. Brightening and Hydrating Masque is £29.90.
Swatches of zk'in  Calming Cream Cleanser, Brightening and Hydrating Masque, Relief Moisturiser.
L-R, Calming Cream Cleanser, Brightening and Hydrating Masque, Relief Moisturiser.
The one product out of the bunch that disappointed me was the Relief Moisturiser. It was nowhere near moisturising enough for my skin, which felt tight and flaky five minutes after application! I thought this might be just because of my unusually dry skin, but after several family members tried it, the consensus was - not moisturising enough. Relief Moisturiser is £29.95.

The Rejuvenating Moisturiser,  which I got a sample of, is better, but still not quite rich enough for my liking. The Line Smoothing Serum is a thin, silky lotion, almost a gel. A little goes a long way. It is supposed to help prevent crow's feet by having a weak paralysing effect on the muscles - like a topical botox lite. I'm not sure if I'm imagining it, but I think my fine lines seemed slightly diminished after use. The product seemed to dry quickly to an invisible, almost film-like finish, which made it a little difficult to rub moisturiser or sunscreen over the top without disturbing it. 

Overall, my favourite of the products I got to try was the Calming Cream Cleanser,  by far. The products do all have a strange kind of scent, which I'm guessing is the natural preservative they use. It is made from bitter orange, radish root, vitamin E, essential oil isolates and basil extract,  and is strangely listed on the ingredients as 'parfum (natural preservative)'.

Would I purchase these products after they run out? Maybe the cleanser, but not the others. While the clay mask and toner are good, the smell is too strong, and I can find similar products cheaper than these. 


The products are priced a bit higher than I would've liked. The company has great eco credentials,  but products are too strongly fragranced for me, personally. 

Zk'in products are available to buy in the UK from Love Lula and Zynergy.co.uk

Til Next Time,


The products in this post were provided to me free of charge for review purposes. My reviews and opinions will always remain unbiased and impartial. Please see skimlinks disclosure in the sidebar.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Illamasqua Vegan Product List & My Wishlist

Once collection, via Illamasqua on Pinterest

Ever since the brand was launched in 2008, Illamasqua has held my attention with gorgeous, creative imagery, and a steady buzz of online adoration from bloggers and make-up artists.

With a focus on self expression and individuality, as well as a sound anti animal testing policy, they are definitely a brand after my own heart.

Fed up with faffing around with ingredients lists, I emailed them to ask for a list of their vegan products. They responded, and kindly allowed me to post it here for my readers. I have edited the format slightly to make it easier to read, as well as adding product links for your convenience. Keep reading after the list to see my wishlist!

Illamasqua Vegan List

Brushes & Tools


  • Hydra Veil
  • Matte Veil
  • Triple Primer
  • Radiance Veil
Highlighter, Contour

Gel Colour in
  • Charm
  • Fluster

  • Abyss
  • Alchemy
  • Glister
  • Scribe
  • Wisdom
Precision Gel Liner in
  • Strike
  • Stare
  • Glimpse
  • Awe
  • Embellish
  • Bibelot
  • Courtier
Pure Pigment in 
  • Reflection (Shades  Precipice, Acute, Graphica, Dart)
  • Freak
  • Freak Gold
  • Freak Scarab

Nail polish
  • Top Coat
  • Base Coat
  • Matte Top Coat
  • Alarm
  • Aorta
  • Bacterium
  • Baptiste
  • Bird Egg Fragile
  • Bird Egg Freckle
  • Bird Egg Mottle
  • Bird Egg Scarce
  • Bird Egg Speckle
  • Blizzard
  • Blow
  • Boosh
  • Boudicca
  • Cameo
  • Caress
  • Caryatid
  • Charisma
  • Collide
  • Creator
  • Dedicate
  • Design by You (their bespoke, create a nail polish service via Selfridges)
  • Devotee
  • DWS
  • Facet
  • Faithful
  • Faux Pas (Master)
  • Force
  • Fusion
  • Gamma
  • Geist
  • Gothiqua
  • Grab
  • Glister
  • Glitterati
  • Harem
  • Harsh
  • Hemlock
  • Jo'Mina
  • Kink
  • Lament
  • Load
  • Loella
  • Milf
  • Monogamous
  • Muse
  • Nightfall
  • Noble
  • Nomad
  • Nurture
  • Obsess
  • Omen
  • Optimist
  • Ouija
  • Perseid
  • Phallic
  • Pink Raindrops
  • Poke
  • Prosperity
  • Purity
  • Radium
  • Raindrops
  • Rampage
  • Rare
  • Ruthless
  • Shattered Star Fire Rose
  • Shattered Star Marquise
  • Shattered Star Mazarin
  • Shattered Star Peruzzi
  • Shattered Star Trilliant
  • Scarab
  • Scorch
  • Scorn (Master)
  • Seance
  • Serenity
  • Smash
  • Snap
  • Spartan
  • Stagnate
  • Stance
  • Superstition
  • Swarm
  • Swinger
  • Taint
  • Throb
  • Unnatural
  • Untold
  • Venous
  • Vice (Master)
  • Viridian
  • Whack
  • Melange
  • Prismatic
  • 002
  • 007
  • 008
  • 010
  • 011
  • 012
  • 013
  • 014
  • 016
  • 017
  • 019
  • 020
  • 021
  • 023
  • Grandeur
  • Lush
  • Diva
  • Bat
My Wishlist

Pics via Illamasqua
These Precision Brow Gels are getting great reviews, and I especially want to try the Awe shade. It's so hard to find a cool toned brow product for blondes, but this looks like the perfect shade. Warm or dark brows on a blonde are a pet hate of mine! I've heard these are better than ABH Dipbrows.

Pic via Illamasqua

I really want this Vintage Metallix cream eyeshadow in Courtier, it would make a lovely base colour to build on, or even on it's own as a lid colour it would be gorgeous.

Pic via Illamasqua
I'm so picky when it comes to fragrance. I don't want to smell like a florist, a fruit bowl, or deodorant/washing powder. That seems to discount the majority of women's fragrances! I like oriental and spicy scents, and when I smelled Freak in the Illamasqua shop I was smitten, and immediately doused myself in it! It's rich and warm, with a hint of strangeness that keeps you interested. Everything I aspire to be! I also adore the cute little snail on the bottle!

Are there any Illamasqua products you have your eye on?

Til Next Time,


Monday, 9 March 2015

#BlogForBunnies #BeCrueltyFree Week

Pic - from Banksy's The Village PetStore and Charcoal Grill via Getty Images

I am just coming back to regular blogging, so it makes sense that my first real post is about the main reason I started blogging in the first place. 

Finding cruelty-free (and vegan) makeup and beauty products can be a nightmare. Especially when companies word their statements to make it sound like they don't test when they do. In addition to this, once you find a cruelty-free brand, how do you know which products are vegan? If they are good quality or not worth spending on? I'd like my blog to be the place to go to get reviews and find out about new products. Where you can always be sure that the products are not tested on animals, and 100% vegan, too. I want this blog to be a reference for UK and worldwide cruelty-free beauty enthusiasts, and I want it to be fun to read! So that is what I aim for. My mission statement, if you will.

This is why I'm so proud to be a part of Humane Society International's #BlogForBunnies during #BeCrueltyFree week, 9th -15th March.

But wait, there's an EU ban on the import and sale of animal tested cosmetics, so shouldn't everything I buy in the EU be cruelty-free?

Companies are no longer allowed to sell animal tested products here, but if you buy from a testing company, your money is going to support their testing products on animals to sell in other parts of the world. HSI International is working with companies and law-makers all over the planet to end cosmetics animal cruelty.

Yeah but don't they just, like, put makeup on a bunny or whatever? It can't be that bad.

Typical animal tests for cosmetics include - 

Skin and Eye Irritation/Skin sensitisation tests. 
Chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into the eyes of rabbits, guinea pigs and ears of mice to see if it causes irritation or an allergic reaction. They are then killed.

Repeated dose toxicity.
To see if a chemical is poisonous, animals endure oral force feeding/inhalation or application to shaved skin daily for 28 or 90 days. They are then killed. 

Animals, such as rabbits or rats are forced to consume an ingredient to study how it is absorbed, metabolised and excreted by the body. They are then killed.

The rat, or other animal is force fed an ingredient for two years to see if it gives them cancer. They are then killed.

Reproductive toxicity.
This determines the effect a chemical has on an animal's fertility, pregnancy and young. Pregnant rabbits or rats are force fed an ingredient, then killed, along with their unborn babies.

There is no pain relief provided during any of these tests.

Oh. That sucks. But don't we need animal testing to make sure products are safe to use?

In short, no. Animal testing is only required on new ingredients. If it's already in use, it's already known to be safe. There are billions of different ingredients readily available to be combined in infinite combinations to make new products. There's no need to develop new ingredients. If companies want to make sure their product/ingredient is safe, there are more than 40 advanced non-animal tests available. These offer results that are more relevant to humans, and are often cheaper and more efficient.

What about ingredients that were tested on animals a long time ago?

We can't change the past. Cruelty-free companies operate using a 'Fixed Cut Off Date', meaning they won't use ingredients that were tested after a certain date. Other companies sometimes use a 'Five Year Rolling Rule', meaning they don't use ingredients that were tested on animals within the last 5 years. This is not as effective at curbing animal testing, though, as products can often take five years or more to formulate and get into production.

What about parent companies?

A lot of the time, a cruelty-free company can be owned by a bigger company that performs animal testing on some of it's brands. Many people see no problem with buying from them, as the products nor their ingredients have not been tested, and it shows the parent company that there is demand and support for cruelty-free brands. Others say that in buying these products, your money could end up paying for animal testing, as all profits go to the parent company. I personally try to buy mainly from brands with cruelty-free parent companies.

I hope you will join me in signing Humane Society International's #BeCrueltyFree Pledge, and I hope you will choose to #BeCrueltyFree.

Til Next Time,


Sources - Humane Society International, Cruelty Free International, Animal Aid. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

New Posts Coming Soon! Hurrah!

So, I'm going to start posting again! 

What would you most like to see on my blog?
  • Vegan beauty product reviews?
  • Other vegan-related reviews/content?
  • Tutorials?
  • Snippets of my life? (Working, coping with chronic illness)
  • Animal rights/human rights related posts?
  • Outlandish conspiracy theories?
  • Erotic fanfiction?
  • Any of your own ideas...?

Let me know in the comments!

Til next time,