The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid: Worth The Hype?

Anyone even vaguely interested in beauty and skincare will know at least a little bit about The Ordinary. In a world where wonder creams can cost as much as a designer handbag, The Ordinary go against the grain with their no-bullshit approach, doing away with fancy packaging and overblown claims to deliver simple skincare at an affordable price tag.

After seeing the brand on almost every beauty Instagram around I really wanted to try something from the range, so when they finally dropped on ASOS I ordered the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. I’d recently come to the realisation that my skin was probably more dehydrated than oily (as I’d thought it was for years) so thought that the serum would be a good option to work into my nighttime routine.

Because there's no such thing as too much of The Ordinary 😍(coming soon)

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It also helped that the brand were loud and proud about being cruelty-free and vegan – something obviously very important to me. So, did The Ordinary live up to the hype?

The price: The Ordinary’s USP is their low price point, so this was never going to be an issue. At just under £6 (plus student discount and free delivery), this is a great product to try even if you’re not sure it’s the one for you. If cost is something that’s important to you, check out my budget vegan beauty buys for more affordable beauty, body and haircare products.

The packaging: The Ordinary’s minimal aesthetic was, I don’t think, never intended to be such Instagram bait, but here we are. The stripped-back bottle was designed to keep costs low, meaning customers wouldn’t have to fork out for fancy packaging instead of a quality product. I loved the clean look and recyclable bottle and would definitely keep this product proudly on my dressing table.


The product: My first impressions of this serum weren’t as great as I’d hoped. The texture is a little thicker than expected, it felt a bit tacky and didn’t glide over my skin as smoothly as others I’d tried. But I persisted, first using the serum at night when I felt like my skin needed a boost, hoping to wake up in the morning looking glowy and refreshed. Although the hyaluronic acid performed probably as well as my other serums, it just didn’t give me the exceptional results I was hoping for.

I switched things up and tried using this serum in the morning, but again didn’t see the change in hydration I was expecting (instead, I fell head over heels for Soap and Glory’s Speed Plump moisturiser which I talked about in my 2017 favourites blog).

I hate wasting products, so even though I wasn’t amazed by this serum I used it every evening as part of my regular routine. Even after weeks and even months of use, I didn’t see any difference in the way my skin looked.


The final verdict is almost a shrug. The serum definitely didn’t do anything bad to my skin, but I didn’t see any improvement either. For £6, I’m sure it provided as good a boost to my moisture levels as any other serum I could have used, but I’m not sure if I would repurchase this particular product.

Have you tried anything from The Ordinary? Let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for other products I should try from the brand, because all this hype can’t be for nothing…


ftoxins On Their Favourite Natural Brands, Greenwashing and The App They Can’t Live Without

‘Natural’ and ‘organic’ beauty might be all the rage right now, but the duo behind organic beauty blog ftoxins (I’ll give you three guesses as to what the ‘f’ stands for…) are in this for the long haul.

Offering no-nonsense swaps for your favourite products, from essential skincare to cleaning products, sisters Delphine and Ariane are on a mission to educate you about the nasty ingredients you could be soaking into your system and turn your beauty bag clean, green and organic.

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I grabbed some time with ftoxins to talk greenwashing, the problem with parabens and the products the sisters can’t live without.

When did your interest in all things organic start?

Delphine: Our mum’s a homeopath so we’ve always grown up holistically-minded but TBH, I didn’t really start dabbling in natural and organic products until my late teens or early twenties. I used to use all the usual brands (Rimmel, Bourjois, Maybelline, Barry M glitter…) because yes, I was the teen who rocked baby blue eyeliner with pink hair mascara. Growing up, I used to have loads of pimples of my forehead – a sign of stress from what you’re ingesting from eating or putting on your skin – and I also used to suffer from bad headaches. Honestly, changing to natural beauty helped to alleviate both those issues so I started looking into it more.

Ariane: As Delphine said we grew up in a holistic household, but I was spending a lot of money on ‘designer’ makeup until I was about 25. My interest in all things natural and organic grew when I started to put a conscious effort into my health and wellbeing. The research is really difficult to ignore once you’ve read it. The best bit now is that I actually spend a lot less money on makeup than I used to. Trust me when I say that there is nothing luxurious about designer cosmetics.

How hard did you find making the switch to natural, organic beauty?

D: At first it was tricky because it wasn’t that available. We used to have to order our favourite brands (Lavera and Benecos) from America or Germany, so that was the biggest struggle. On a social level, I’d have to make sure I had my makeup on me as I was more conscious about buying or borrowing something random.

A: Letting go of things we love (even when we know they are bad for us) is always difficult. My MAC lipsticks were the last things to go because I struggled to find a good replacement for them but once I did, I never looked back. That’s why we focus on ‘swaps’ so much on ftoxins – it’s not about giving up your favourite beauty products, it’s about upgrading them.

Is there one product you miss the most?

D: If you’d asked me this a few weeks ago, I would have said dry shampoo. I’d been looking for a good alternative to using Batiste for a while because real talk? I wash my hair twice a week max so sometimes girl needs a lift. Now, I’ve found the amazing Acure brunette powder which you just puff onto your scalp and brush through, or I use Nature’s Baby Organics Silky Dusting Powder which is an amazing alternative to talc, made from tapioca starch.

A: I’ve never thought about this before but there really isn’t! You can find everything from great natural hairsprays to amazing natural fake tans nowadays, so there is truly nothing to miss.



What are the most dangerous ingredients to watch out for?

D: We have a list of ingredients we try to avoid and why on our blog but as an easy rule, try to remember to avoid SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), parabens (all of them like propyl, isopropyl, butyl and isobutyl) and propylene glycol. These are all preservatives to keep our toiletries on the shelves longer (ergo, saving money.) They are also chemicals used as primary ingredients in things like brake fluids. These toxins can combine with others to become carcinogenic, can affect endocrine and reproductive systems and can be serious skin irritants. Just say no!

A: Even though I’ve been on this organic beauty journey for a few years now, I still find myself using the ThinkDirty app or searching for an ingredient on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database quite a lot, especially because you can’t always trust the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ claims brands make. My general rule is that if it looks like you need a science degree to be able to understand it, don’t put it on your skin.

Do brands twist the truth when it comes to their ‘natural’ claims?

D: Absolutely! Greenwashing is so rife now that the organic beauty industry has become so popular. Sadly, a lot of brands are jumping on the train just to make money rather than to make the world a healthier place so I’m very conscious of labels like ‘paraben free!’ or ‘natural ingredients’ because of course the more natural, the better, but those claims don’t mean that those brands don’t contain other terrible ingredients. 

A: Greenwashing annoys me so much. Lots of the big, been-around-forever, companies have recently come out with ‘natural’ lines because they know consumers are becoming more savvy about ingredients. But while they may be made without parabens, sulfates and phthalates, they still contain ingredients I personally would never use. Newer brands do this too and I find it really disappointing. 

A reader of ours asked us to look into Tarte Matte Shape Tape Foundation to see if they used any toxic ingredients. It’s obviously great that this brand is cruelty-free and made without parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, SLS and gluten but their first ingredient is Cyclopentasiloxane. This is a silicone that helps make fluids easily spreadable and forming a barrier on the skin to fill in lines/wrinkles. There are many concerns around the harmful effects it has on marine life and the environment when flushed away and it’s been known to cause skin and eye irritation. It also contains PEG 12 Dimethicone, another silicone-based polymer which can contain impurities like Ethylene Oxide that are known to increase incidences of cancer. It’s advised that PEGs are never used on broken or irritated skin so seriously, we shouldn’t be using this ingredient to cover up popped pimples! ~ I don’t use liquid foundation myself but expert acne coach @amy_skyntherapy recommended @nuicosmetics foundation as a great alternative for that matte full-coverage and after looking at its 90% certified organic ingredients list, it might just convert me to wearing foundation too.

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What are your top three organic products?

D: I’m obsessed with Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. I’m trying to avoid using aerosols in general and a lot of women’s commercial deodorants have aluminium in them which you definitely want to stay away from. I’ve been using Soapwalla for a year now, so for all seasons, and it’s amazing. It smells fresh, goes on so easily and dries in seconds so don’t get put off the ‘paste’ texture.

Antipodes lipsticks have been my saviour when looking for bright shades, they have everything! Benecos are a great cheaper alternative too.

And, cheating here as this will add up to four, but Lavera Endless Definition Mascara gives me life (they also do great eye makeup and highlighters) and Green People’s Pressed Powder makes me look airbrushed IRL.

A: I couldn’t live without my Hurraw Lip Balms. I have a serious lip balm addiction so have tried them all (natural and not) and these are by far the best. They are made of raw and organic ingredients and are delicious. I wear the Tinted Black Cherry Lip Balm during the day and their Moon Lip Balm at night.

Organic oils are another must have for me. I have hemp oil, jojoba oil and argan oil on rotation and use them as a face and body moisturiser, hair serum, makeup remover… There’s nothing they don’t do or can’t fix.

If I only put on one bit of makeup it will be to fill in my eyebrows a little with my Benecos Eyebrow Pencil so I guess that has to be the third favourite! They are such good value for money and really perform well. Benecos have a comprehensive list of stockists here if you prefer to see them in store. It’s a safe bet that where there is Benecos they’ll be Lavera and other great organic makeup brands.




Do you have any advice for others starting their organic journey?

D: Everyone has to start somewhere. Learning about ingredients and introducing yourself to new brands can seem like a long and daunting process, but just take it one step at a time. There’s never been a better time to go on an organic journey because it’s so readily available now. Once you educate yourself and realise that commercial brands don’t usually have the consumer’s health or interests at heart, you start realising what you want and expect from the products you’re paying for and that’s really liberating. I want my products to be ethically-sourced, completely cruelty-free, free of pesticides and toxins and ones that’ll make me feel beautiful and glowing inside and out.

A: I think the easiest way to make the switch is to buy organic bit-by-bit. Instead of buying your usual face wash when it runs out, try a natural one. When you fancy a new lipstick colour, treat yourself to an organic one. Also follow some organic beauty bloggers on Instagram – they are continuously inspiring me and introducing me to new brands and products.


Image background: Virginia Lackinger on Unsplash

There is a Saved By The Bell lipstick set and I need it immediately

Of all the things I think you should know about me, one is most definitely that I am a Saved By The Bell superfan. I have all the series on DVD (including Good Morning Miss Bliss and SBTB: The College Years), I have both feature-length movies in my stash, I’ve read the Saved By The Bell advice book, have the Pop! Vinyl figurines and I am the reigning champion of the Saved By The Bell x Cereal Killer Café quiz. It’s safe to say that me and the gang are Friends Forever.


So just imagine my delight when I discovered (via Cosmopolitan) that a Saved By The Bell liquid lipstick collection is imminent, inspired by the babes of Bayside. The set of three metallic shades comes from Sola Look, a Dominican and Jewish owned indie brand who state that they are cruelty-free. All three shades in the Saved By The Bell collection are also certified vegan.

Saved By The Bell liquid lipsticks

Jessie Spano’s shade is a deep bronze-copper, Kelly Kapowski’s colour is a vibrant salmon pink and Lisa Turtle’s hue is a metallic mauve, all in a velvet matte finish. All the shades look highly pigmented, are lightweight on the lips, long-wearing and smudge-proof.

Saved By The Bell Liquid Lipstick Swatches

The packaging is totally old-school too, with zig zags and swirls, just like the iconic opening credits. And if that wasn’t enough, each order comes with a Saved By The Bell sticker and a Bayside Tigers pencil. I am sold.

The collection drops on February 3rd at 11am PST, which works out as 7pm GMT. You can sign up for a reminder here.

I’ll add a mini review if and when I manage to get my hands on this set, and let me know in the comments if you do too. Until then, here are three more vegan pop culture-inspired beauty sets to shop in the meantime.

Spectrum Collections x Mean Girls Burn Book And Brush Set Spectrum Mean Girls

Bésame x Snow White collection (note that the lipsticks are not vegan as they contain beeswax)

Besame Snow White

Storybook Cosmetics ‘What’s In A Name’ Rose Brushes (inspired by Beauty and the Beast)

Storybook Rose Brushes

My 2017 Vegan Style Favourites

Hands up who still thinks it’s 2017? I’m definitely guilty and I cannot believe how quickly the past twelve months have flown by, but it’s a whole new year and we have 52 fresh weeks (well, 51 at this point) to fill with new experiences, travels and memories. Before we get too far into 2018, I wanted to take a quick look back at some of my favourite vegan products from last year, shouting out the brands and pieces I couldn’t keep my hands off throughout 2017.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ve never tried a shampoo and conditioner as good as Ouai’s Curl range. It’s hella pricey at £20 for the conditioner and £22 for the shampoo, but it makes my curls look glossy, bouncy and defined without seeming crispy or frizzy. It also smells like jasmine and makes me feel expensive when I walk out my front door. I normally save my Ouai for special occasions, but thanks to my Dad I unwrapped a fresh bottle of conditioner and the Ouai To Go Kit on Christmas morning. I wonder how he knew…


I’m mixed-race (half Indian, half English) so my skin is always olive in tone, but I feel so pale in the colder months. St Tropez’s Gradual Tan Tinted Body Lotion kept me feeling bronzed even when my legs hadn’t been seen out of my Joni jeans in weeks. Even though I find the lotion a bit stiff to rub over my skin (does anyone else get that feeling?), I love that I get an instant wash of colour without that biscuit-y smell.


Am I going to talk about the Clean Beauty Co Rosy Glow oil AGAIN? Yes I am! After following Cosmopolitan’s Digital Beauty Writer Laura Capon on Instagram (and letting her infiltrate my psyche with her beauty tips) I started to crave a glowy, dewy finish to my skin rather than the oil-free, matte finish I’d been giving myself for years. Enter Soap and Glory’s Speed Plump All-Day Super Moisture moisturiser mixed with two drops of the Rosy Glow oil (which is now sadly discontinued). The combination made my skin so glowy and healthy-looking, and not only does Speed Plump sink in quickly but it also has an amazing grapefruit scent. I finished the whole tube and am waiting to get through another couple of moisturisers before I repurchase this.


If I have to pick just one favourite beauty product of the whole year, it would have to be Beauty Bakerie’s Lip Whip in the shade ‘Mon Cheri’ (I think this has been renamed to ‘matte red’ on the ASOS website). The liquid lipstick is super pigmented and I love this bold, deep red colour. It glides on smoothly and trust me when I say that once this is on your lips, it isn’t budging. There’s no smudging, no bleeding, no fading and no drying – you really do forget you’re wearing anything on your lips. At £16 it’s not the cheapest lipstick on the market, but it’s worth your hard earned money.


The surprise winner for my favourite nail brand of the year is one you might not be all too familiar with, even though it’s been around since the 1960s. The brand I’ve been tipping myself with the most this year is Mavala, using their Gel Finish Top Coat, Oil Seal Dryer and the deep red Singapore nail polish (from the Electric Collection). When used with a colour-gripping base coat, Mavala’s range gives me a glossy manicure that lasts all week in one of my favourite (and highly pigmented) shades. I also love that Mavala’s pots are smaller than your average nail polish, meaning they fit easily into my liquid allowance when I’m travelling.


I’ve never been minimal when it comes to my jewellery so this one’s a hard one, especially as this year I was given or bought some very sentimental pieces. I have four rings from The Great Frog now and each is very special to me, all handmade in Soho and sized to my fingers. This year I added the Soaring Eagle to my collection after landing a job at Hearst magazines (a congratulatory gift to myself), then ended the year by having the Smallest Evil Skull ring gold plated. As much as I love my Great Frog collection, my most special accessory was given to me by my best friend in May this year – three bracelets from Iran. She knows why they mean so much to me.


Of all the clothes I’ve bought and worn this year, it’s almost impossible to pick a single favourite. I’m guilty of wearing something constantly if I love it, before a new piece comes in and takes over my day-to-day wardrobe. I’m going to cheat and say that my favourite pieces are all the band t-shirts I’ve picked up at some of the incredible gigs I’ve seen this year; The Maccabees’ farewell tour (I’m still crying), Mystery Jets’ Jetrospective and my first Queens Of The Stone experience. I am a huge fan of daytime sequins so these t-shirts help to dress down my outrageous office wear, while also reminding me of some amazing nights and my favourite music.


I have been lusting after a pair of Old Skool Vans all year, but until they ditch their leather stripe and suede toe they won’t be finding their way into my wardrobe. Instead, inspired by Mancunian fashion blogger and all-round cool chick Megan Ellaby, I picked up a pair of classic High Top Converse All Stars. These babies have seen me through everything the great British weather can throw at me, paired with black skinny jeans (Joni, naturally), cropped ankle-grazers and summer dresses. With these shoes, I’m one step closer to my dream of dressing like a glam rock Ramone.


The whole aim of this blog is to prove that vegan fashion and beauty isn’t like the stereotype in most people’s minds of expensive, hard-to-find plain pieces in various shades of neutral. All of my 2017 favourites came from mainstream brands whose ethos isn’t specifically to be vegan (with the exception of Clean Beauty Co who consistently eliminate animal products from their new Bybi beauty range). I hope I’ve shown that it’s fairly easy to avoid animal products when it comes to your style without changing your shopping habits too much. Let me know your own favourites in the comments below!

Gucci Goes Fur Free, But What Does That Really Mean?

It’s the high-fashion news animal activists never thought they’d hear – Gucci is going completely fur free from SS18. In a surprising move, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri announced during his 2017 Kering Talk at the London College of Fashion that the Italian label would remove all fur from future Gucci collections, starting with SS18. The brand are partnering with the Fur Free Alliance to make the change, and hope that their clout in the industry will encourage other brands to follow suit.

As reported on, Marco explained “We’ve been talking about it, Alessandro [Michele] and I, for a few months. Technology is now available that means you don’t need to use fur. The alternatives are luxurious. There is just no need.”

Needless to say, they’re right. Very few people need animal fur as a means of survival, and one of the only reasons people continue to profit from pelts in 2017 is vanity. Faux furs are cheaper, more ethical and much, much cooler – so why are high-fashion brands taking so long to cotton on? Stella McCartney has already proven that fur-free fashion sells, as has Hannah Weiland at Shrimps and the countless faux-fur high-street brands you’ll see tagged all over Instagram; try Urban Code and Jakke as a starting point.

Speaking of Instagram, the move means it’s out with Gucci’s infamous Princetown loafer. The shoe was previously made with kangaroo fur, but since the beginning of 2017 the company has switched to using lamb’s wool instead. Other swap outs will include mink, lamb fur, coyote, raccoon dog, fox, rabbit, Persian lamb and all other species specially bred or caught for fur.

While a fur-free fashion house is a massive step in the right direction, Gucci show no signs of ceasing to use leather, silk or other animal-derived materials in their collections, as evidenced by the swap from kangaroo fur to lamb’s wool in the Princetown loafer. It’s clear that there is a pervasive notion that fur is disgusting but leather is fine, but there’s still a long way to go before brands boycott animal cruelty in its totality.

What are your thought’s on Gucci’s new move? Let me know in the comments below.

13 Reasons Why Illamasqua Set An Example To Beauty Brands Everywhere

When it comes to high-end beauty, Illamasqua are firmly up there as one of my favourite brands. Their products are incredible and the packaging appeals to my dark side, but most importantly, founder Julian Kynaston runs the British brand with ethics at its heart.

Firstly, Illamasqua is staunchly cruelty-free – they have never and will never test on animals. They also have a growing range of vegan products and only use synthetic hair in their make-up brushes. As a brand, Illamasqua are mindful of the ethical impact of their environmental impact and package their products accordingly. You can read Illamasqua’s full policy here.



Earlier this year, Illamasqua also released an Anti-Fascism Pledge, banning Trump supporters from buying their products. You can enjoy that pledge here.

Just when you thought you couldn’t love Illamasqua any more, they go and hire Munroe Bergdorf as part of their ongoing #Illamafia campaign.

In case you missed the furore earlier this month, model and activist Munroe was controversially dropped from L’Oreal’s True Match campaign. As the first trans model to take part in the campaign, and a woman of colour at that, Munroe’s participation was a massive deal. After a mere three days as a face of L’Oreal (I brand I do not support as they test on animals), a Facebook post on racial violence written by Munroe after the Charlottesville protests was used by the Daily Mail to smear the model as a ‘racist’. She was promptly dropped by L’Oreal for not supporting their values of “diversity and tolerance”.

As a longstanding Illamasqua collaborator, we are angered to hear that @munroebergdorf has been dropped from the L’Oreal True Match Campaign. Illamasqua is a brand that stands proudly and unashamedly for diversity and equality. We don’t stand or accept any form of racism. But we also believe Munroe’s comments have been edited out of context by a certain media title (who we won’t bother naming) without telling a true story. In order for our generation to move forward and create a more inclusive society, its not just about showing diversity. We must all be free to talk about social issues in a constructive and tolerant way. #istandwithmunroe #munroebergdorf #illamafia #equality #diversity #loreal #thisistruediversity #weloveyoumunroe

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The decision to drop Munroe was disgraceful and hypocritical, and social media agreed. So it’s no surprise that Illamasqua picked up Munroe as part of their #Illamafia campaign, known for embracing diversity in all its forms. According to Munroe, this collaboration was planned before the whole L’Oreal saga. Speaking to Metro, she said: ‘it means the world that they stood by me during this tough time. ‘This is the first major campaign that I’ve modelled in for them and I can’t wait to kick off this new chapter.’

If that’s not enough to convince you that Illamasqua deserve your support, here are my three favourite vegan products:

  1. Hydra Veil is a cult classic for a reason. Hydrate and prime in the chicest way possible.


  1. Beyond Powder can be used wet or dry for buildable luminosity.


  1. Gel Colour is the blush you never knew you needed.


Introducing Art de Parfum: An Interview With The Ethical Perfume Brand

Why is it that so few fragrance companies are truly cruelty-free? Jo Malone, Viktor & Rolf, Chanel and nearly all of the major fragrance houses sell perfumes tested on animals, meaning that the quest for a signature cruelty-free scent can often run dry.

One brand throwing their name into the mix is Art de Parfum, a London-based perfumery founded by Lithuanian-born Ruta Degutyte. The brand has a chic French aesthetic, making luxury perfumes that have ethics at their very core: not only are all the scents vegan and cruelty-free, they are GMO free and packaged in recyclable materials.

To find out more about Art de Parfum, I spoke to Ruta about her inspirations, her values and why more fragrance brands aren’t following in her footsteps.

4000x4000 HR 002 Bottle

What sparked your love affair with fragrance?
Nature was my first great inspiration. I grew up in Lithuania and folk medicine using flowers and herbs plays a huge role in our culture. As a child I would go to central market in Vilnius and I remember the piles of yarrow, comfrey and periwinkles on traders’ tables – everything had a purpose.

I was always interested in how things smelled. My first experiments involved soaking rose petals in water when I was eight, a basic attempt at enfleurage. Needless to say, my first experiments didn’t smell good at all.

My mother’s dressing table was my inspiration and my altar. I remember the sheer awe with which I would uncap those tiny bottles of extrait and sniff the stopper. It was that, more than anything, that taught me that perfume is a gift, capable of evoking emotions.

What inspired you to start your brand?
I saw a gap in the market for perfumes that communicated powerful emotions, but in a clean, uncluttered way. There is too much Baroque posturing in perfume these days. The message of these perfumes gets lost in all the noise. I thought that there would be men and women out there who would welcome a line of perfumes that put across a feeling with elegant minimalism, and I was right.

The people who buy my fragrances often choose them as their signature fragrance rather than as an addition to an already crowded collection. My perfumes speak to people on a deeply personal level. The emphatic choice of one over many says a lot.

My bottles, the marketing, the language used to describe the scents – it’s all pared back as much as possible to allow the perfume to speak for itself.

4000x4000 04 HR product

You’ve lived all over the world – has that inspired Art de Parfum?
Most definitely. The relaxed, beachy lifestyles of the South of France and the South Pacific really draw out my sensuality and sense of fun – qualities that might be more hidden in places like London.

Living in London has taught me about the attractions of unfussy design. There’s a minimalism to my packaging and bottles that I think is quite British. I’d define the brand’s aesthetic as halfway between English restraint and Japanese minimalism.

For me, it always goes back to France, where I went to look for a perfumer and raw materials. The lifestyle that I loved the most was in the South of France, on the Riviera. People there are far more hedonistic and relaxed in their own sensuality. When I’m there, it’s easy to imagine Zelda Fitzgerald strolling down the beach for a pre-prandial whiskey or three. I love the escapism!

What’s the one thing French girls know about fragrance that the rest of the world need to know?
I don’t think that French girls are that much different from the rest of us when it comes to fragrance, actually. Like us, they tend to be monogamous when they find a scent they love.

If there is one thing that’s slightly different, it’s this: French girls regard perfume as an essential part of the grooming process. For them, scent is as crucial a decision as hairstyle, make-up, or clothes. They are unembarrassed about perfume and like to discuss it with their friends. Other cultures tend to be a bit reserved about admitting their interest in fragrance because they think it makes them seem superficial. French girls don’t care about that.

4000x4000 HR 005 product

Have you always had such a strong ethical standpoint?
Ethics is a part of who I am, so when I started my own company there was no question that ethics would lie at the heart of the brand. For me to go about it any other way would have gone against the grain of who I am. It’s that simple.

The first thing I did when I established Art de Parfum was to draft a Code of Ethics that still stands as core company policy today. The general principles outlined in our Code of Ethics are:

All fragrances are 100% cruelty-free
We do not use natural musk, castoreum, civet, honey, or even ambergris.

All raw materials and packaging are environmentally safe
The packaging and bottling is often the most expensive part of the process for a small company like mine. Most bottle plants have a minimum order of 20,000 units, never mind the cost of finding recyclable materials. Still, I knew that I had to put my money where my mouth is.

The cap on our perfume bottles is made from sustainably-planted wood, and the bottle is 100% recyclable glass. Everything comes with certificates of origin for green and bio-hazard-free production. The box is made of a natural, linen-covered cardboard material that biodegrades fully.

The company does not use GMO-related products or raw materials
I don’t want Art de Parfum to support, however indirectly, efforts to control the natural reproductive systems of plants and flowers.

All fragrances are free of nano-particles
Art de Parfum will continue to keep their products nano-particle-free until scientists prove conclusively that they do not cause any damage to humans, plant life, or water sources.

The company will use only raw materials that do not harm the economic interests or physical safety of indigenous hunters and farmers in third world countries.
Art de Parfum does not use raw materials that may endanger the livelihood or physical safety of farmers in third world countries. Instead of oud wood, which is now endangered and the process of harvesting resinated wood in the deep jungle is hazardous for local hunters, I chose to use cypriol oil to approximate the scent.

4000x4000 HR 003 product

Why do you think so few perfume brands are cruelty-free and inconsiderate of their environmental impact?
Because being ethical is expensive! It requires a serious investment of time and money to ensure that every part of the company’s operations in line with the code of ethics.

For example, you can’t say you are ethical and then use packaging that contains more plastic than a toy store. Ensuring that the raw materials are not tested on animals also means that you have to have eyes on every part of the supply chain. For many small businesses, that’s near to impossible. I am lucky in that I work with a small team of suppliers, and my perfumer knows to check everything that comes into the lab.

What animal ingredients should we watch out for in other perfumes?
In general, there are no concerns about ingredients coming from animal origin if synthetic molecules are used, because these are synthesised in a lab. For example, instead of using natural ambergris in Sea Foam, we use Ambroxan, a synthetic molecule synthesised from clary sage, a herb.

For natural raw materials, avoid perfumes that use natural castoreum, deer musk, or civet. Natural ambergris, hyraceum, and honey do not involve animal cruelty because of their manner of harvesting,  but they are of animal origin. So few companies use these animal substances in their natural form, so it shouldn’t worry consumers.

4000x4000 HR 001 Bottle

Do you think more fragrance brands will follow in your ethical footsteps?
In my experience, ethics flow from the top down. If the CEO is ethically-minded, then it stands to reason that ethics will be at the heart of everything they do.

I chose an ethical route for my company but I recognise that not everybody feels the same. One thing I will say is that it’s always better to educate people about ethics and allow them to come to their own personal awakening than to force it down their throats with aggressive legislation. Small business owners struggle to stay afloat, and excessive intervention by any official body, be it a regulatory body or a decree, is always met with resentment.

Instead of making ethics a burden, they should be rewarded or incentivised in some way. Of course, the best incentive is when your customers continue to buy from you because they trust you as a source of ethical products.

Shop Art de Parfum at or in store at BLOOM, Covent Garden

UPDATED: Bybi Beauty Launch Three New Beauty Staples

How do I love Clean Beauty Co? Let me count the ways… No seriously, let me count them.

Founded by Elsie and Dominika right here in the UK (I am all for British female-founded brands), Clean Beauty Co have always stood for cruelty-free, clean and (mostly*) vegan beauty and skincare. First I fell in love with their coffee body scrub and Fuss Free Moisturiser (which you can read about here), then I tried their Rosy Glow Face Oil which has become my daily glow-giver. I will be distraught when this runs out.

Since then, Elsie and Dominika have gone on to release a natural beauty book (with recipes for the likes of this Zest Espresso Scrub) and launch Bybi Beauty, a 100% natural skincare line inspired by innovation in beauty and skin without compromising on high-quality, non-toxic ingredients. The inspiration for the name? By Beauty Insiders.

We’ve already been treated to Babe Balm (£28), a multipurpose beauty balm that you can use as a highlighter, a moisturiser, a lip balm, a glitter sticker (I’m coining the technical term) and much, much more. Made with pink sweet potato extract and Brazilian Pequi oil, this balm smells as juicy as it looks and it’s a fixture on my bedside table.

Babe on babe on babe 😍

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Next up was Prime Time (£24), a creamy face scrub made with apple and pineapple acids that smells like a holiday in a pot. I talk a lot about the texture of scrubs on this blog and you’ll know by now that I hate pathetic no-scrub scrubs. Prime Time manages to be gentle on my skin (even moisturising thanks to the oil ingredients) but still get rid of dry skin and make my face feel fresher.

Now, Bybi Beauty have just unveiled the full range of #tribybi launches (three new products launched over three weeks) – world, firstly meet Detox Dust (£22), an anti-pollution powder face mask with activated charcoal to chill out stressed skin. Boasting papaya enzymes, kaolin clay, ginseng, blackcurrant extract and more, mixing a teaspoon of this mask with a few drops of water, oil or (better yet) vegan yogurt and leaving on for 10-15 minutes will leave you with decongested skin that feels cleaner, purer and calmer.

The powder consistency means Detox Dust has a longer shelf life than fresh face masks and doesn’t count in your holiday liquid allowance – double win.

Next, the natural beauty brand dropped the Mega Mist Hyaluronic Acid Toner (£26), a facial mist which doubles as a toner, rejuvenating, refreshing and hydrating dry, thirsty skin. I definitely notice a difference in my skin when I consistently use a toner at night, and knowing that this won’t irritate my skin is a big plus. The key ingredient, hyaluronic acid, is a major player in keeping your skin plump, while rose, orange blossom and pomegranate also boost moisture.

🌹• Triple threat

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The world cannot get enough of facial mists right now, so choose a natural, cruelty-free and vegan version over something riddled with dubious ethics and synthetic ingredients.

Finally, Bybi beauty introduced Supercharge Serum (£32). As I mentioned, the Clean Beauty Co Rosy Glow oil is my life saver, so my ears prick up whenever I see another oil or serum come from this brand. Supercharge Serum is packed with (vegan) squalane, prickly pear (anyone else getting Jungle Book vibes?), jasmine and watermelon seed oils, ingredients hand-picked to deeply penetrate skin and promote rapid cell renewal, combating dull and uneven skin.

This nutrient-dense corrective serum is rich in antioxidants and will target dry skin as part of your nightly routine – what’s not to like?

So how many ways do I love Clean Beauty Co? I count fifteen, and the list is ever-growing. Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any Bybi beauty products, I’d love to hear what you think.

*Ingredients have included beeswax and honey in a limited amount of products

This post has been updated with Bybi Beauty’s newest launches

What To Buy Now Nars Is No Longer Cruelty-Free

In case you missed the news last week, Nars Cosmetics recently announced that they would be expanding their business into China. As harmless as this might sound to non-vegans, the move means that the once staunchly cruelty-free make-up brand will now be legally required to test on animals, despite their so-called ethics.

In a statement released on their Instagram page (where fans flooded @narsissist with #boycottnars), Nars attempted to justify the move stating “The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws… We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region.”

We want you to know that we hear you. The global elimination of animal testing needs to happen. We firmly believe that product and ingredient safety can be proven by non-animal methods, but we must comply with the local laws of the markets in which we operate, including in China. We have decided to make NARS available in China because we feel it is important to bring our vision of beauty and artistry to fans in the region. NARS does not test on animals or ask others to do so on our behalf, except where required by law. NARS is committed and actively working to advance alternative testing methods. We are proud to support the Institute for In Vitro Sciences (IIVS), a globally recognized organization at the forefront of advancing non-animal methods in China and around the world. NARS is hopeful that together, we can work toward a cruelty-free world. For more on the good work IIVS is doing, see:

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I’m calling bullshit on this – the sole reason for expanding into China is greed and money and Nars’ poor attempt at an apology did not go down well with those who have long supported the brand’s cruelty-free status.

Now that they’re firmly on the AVOID list, I’ve put together a guide to what to do with your favourite Nars products. Use up what you’ve got or donate it to women in need (like Give and Makeup), then make some ethical swaps. Here are five cruelty-free and vegan products to take their place.

SWAP Nars Blush for Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Powder Blush

So long, Orgasm. Swap the cult blush for Urban Decay’s long-lasting powder blush with just the right amount of shimmer.

SWAP Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil for B. Matte Lipstick

Creamy, pigmented and affordable, B.’s Matte and Luminous lipsticks are the perfect swap for Nars’ iconic pencils. The entire make-p range is vegan and cruelty-free (you can read my blog post about it here), so shop eyes, lips, cheeks and face without fear.

SWAP Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

Collection’s Lasting Perfection Concealer is the most underrated base product around. A little goes a long way, it blends flawlessly and it costs less than a pint. If you are looking for cheaper vegan options, I wrote a blog on the best budget vegan beauty brands here.

SWAP Nars Bronzing Powder for Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow

Charlotte Tilbury’s Filmstar Bronze and Glow looks as good on your face as it does on your dressing table.

SWAP Nars Sheer Glow Foundation for Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup

If you’re looking for sheer, lightweight coverage (especially in this heat), Urban Decay can’t be beaten when it comes to cruelty-free, vegan, blendable face products. Read my love letter to the brand here.

What are you doing with your old Nars products and what will you be swapping them for? Let me know in the comments below!

Instagram/ @sttropeztan/ @soso.smith

4 Of The Best Vegan Gradual Tans

When it comes to the great British summertime, here in England we’ll take whatever sun we can get. Anything above 18 degrees Celsius is considered Pimms o’clock while lunchtimes are spent soaking up rays on a dusty patch of grass rather than chomping on a Pret sandwich at your desk. But for all the extra hours of vitamin D, some of us still need a helping hand when it comes to transforming into a bronzed goddess. Step in, gradual tan.

For people like me who steer clear of full-on fake tan (and avoid dangerous sun beds), gradual tans are lifesavers. It’s easy, buildable colour, it’s difficult to go wrong and they don’t add an extra step into my morning routine. I used to use Garnier’s Summer Body Lotion when I was a teen, but because they test on animals (BOO!) I’ve since switched to cruelty-free and vegan alternatives – here are four of the best gradual tans for a cruelty-free glow this summer.

St Tropez Everyday Tinted Body Lotion (Gradual Tan Tinted)

St Tropez are known for their incredible tans, so it’s no surprise that this gradual tanning lotion is impressive. Coming in a 200ml bottle, the tinted lotion gives an instant wash of colour to my skin without any glittery chunks. I don’t find the lotion the easiest to apply in that I have to rub it in quite firmly, but it’s still my number one recommendation.

St Tropez Everyday Multi-Active Toning Lotion (Gradual Tan Plus Sculpt And Glow)

Are you starting to see a theme here? I tend to pick up these gradual tans at my work’s beauty sales which is why this tube is in my collection – I’d normally go for a darker shade, but I’m still impressed with this. The lotion is slightly easier to apply than the Tinted Body Lotion and it does give a nice colour to skin, as well as a visible shimmer. If that’s not your preference, maybe steer clear. This is also supposed to tone up my skin after four weeks of regular use, but I haven’t seen incredible results just yet. Watch this space!

St Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower (In Shower Tanning Lotion)


OK, so this blog post is turning into a bit of a love letter to St Tropez. I am a huge fan of anything you can use in shower to save time in the morning, so this is a fixture in my bathroom. Waiting naked in the shower for three minutes while this develops can be annoying (time it with one song on your playlist or brush your teeth in between) but it gives a good colour, no smell and doesn’t rub off on your clothes.

Skinny Tan Gradual Tanner

I’ve only used this tan a couple of times so I don’t think I can give a proper review just yet, but from first impressions this could be a winner for some of you. Connotations about the name aside (your body is beautiful whatever size you are), Skinny Tan’s 125ml Gradual Tanner is really easy to apply and doesn’t immediately have that tell-tale fake tan smell (I did smell a biscuit-ty scent when I applied this one morning but I didn’t follow the instructions and wash off after five hours). When used for a couple of days in a row, I did see my skin start to shimmer, but I need to test this more to see if the gradual tan works for my skin tone.

Are there any vegan gradual tanners I don’t know about yet? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

Image via @sttropeztan/ @soso.smith