Ditching The Plastic – My Shampoo Bar Journey

I’m not one to stick to my New Years resolutions, but as the clock struck 12 on 1st January 2020 I vowed that this year I was going to make a conscious effort to reduce my plastic waste. This resolution seemed more achievable than my usual ‘eat less chocolate’ or ‘exercise more’ goals that I seemingly failed to do each year. I was easily able to ditch my makeup wipes and single use cotton pads for reusable hand stitched cotton pads, which if anything actually cleaned my skin better than the single use ones! Next I was able to switch my toothbrush for a bamboo toothbrush, my ear buds for bamboo ear buds and my plastic shopping bags for more durable fair trade cotton bags.

I made many switches but the last thing I was reluctant to ditch were my (plastic bottled) shampoo and conditioner. I’ve tried in the past to switch to a shampoo bar but it was disastrous. Many shampoo bars don’t contain SLS (SLS is round is most standard shampoo and stripes your hair of its natural oils) so you have to go through an adjustment period when you switch which can take up to two months. I really tried for months with other shampoo bars but was left with lank greasy hair, the transition phase seemed to never end. Due to this I was reluctant to try a shampoo bar again, however mid lockdown as I browsed the shelves of my local Waitrose for the ever scarce hand sanitiser or soap I spotted Beco Argan Oil Shampoo Bars for just £4 a bar, which I had only spotted due to someone placing it in the soap section of the store and not the haircare section! I mean what was the worst that was going to happen? If they gave me greasy hair like the others at least no one would see me due to lockdown!

After I got home and searched Beco I found out how much of an amazing company they are. Their products are vegan, cruelty free, 97% organic, hypoallergenic, pH balanced, biodegradable as well as being plastic, paraben and SLS free. But the most amazing thing about Beco is that they’re a social enterprise that help disabled people get job by actively encouraging other companies to employ disabled staff, with 80% of own workforce being disabled. Unfortunately the employments rates amongst disabled people are higher than the rates amongst people without disabilities, but Beco are campaigning to change this.

The product itself comes unwrapped in a FSC certified recyclable cardboard box. The first thing I noticed about this shampoo bar was how amazing it smelt, I could even smell it through the box! Surprisingly when I used the bar for the first time it lathered up really well compared to other bars I’ve used, which is thanks to the Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate it contains – a natural mild surfactant derived from coconut. After using it my hair felt lovely and clean, where as with other bars it felt heavy and greasy. I expected there to be a transition phase using the Beco Argan Oil Shampoo Bar but my hair was perfect from the start! Not only did my hair not get greasy as fast but it was left beautifully soft. I was really impressed with the results from this £4 bar! The best part about it was the bar lasted SO long, one bar lasted me around 2-3 months which is far longer than a standard bottle of shampoo would last me. It should also be noted that because this shampoo bar doesn’t contain natural oil stripping ingredients you can use it without conditioner and still have beautiful soft hair. I have bleached hair and use this bar without conditioner most days, or use a silicone free conditioner when I feel my hair needs a little nourishment. You may think using no conditioner would ruin your hair but my hair has become more healthy with less split ends!

The Beco Argan Oil Shampoo Bar comes in 3 different scents – honey blossom and spring meadow; I tried both and they both smell lovely. Beco also sell bars of hand soap and liquid soap and you can find their products in Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Co-op, Boots and The Ethical Superstore. To find out more about Beco and the amazing work they do visit their website https://betterconsidered.org

What shampoo bar brands have you tried?

Laura 

10 Things You’re Doing That Are Causing Spots

Is your skin getting you down? You think you’ve tried everything but you’re still getting those stubborn spots? Well there may some things you’re doing that you don’t realise which is causing your skin to be this way! You might have the perfect skincare routine but there are many surprising causes of acne that you probably didn’t know about!

1. Not Washing Your Hands Before Touching Face

Your hands harbour loads of bacteria from everything you touch during the day, including propionibacterium acnes which is a bacterium that lives on the skin and is responsible for clogging pores which causes spots! Not only is there bacteria on your hands but also oils, which again can cause spots, so keep those hands away from your face! If you do need to touch your face remember to wash them before doing so or to use hand sanitiser.

2. Using a Dirty Towel to Dry Your Face

Every time you wash your face if you’re not using a clean towel to dry it then you will unfortunately be transferring bacteria onto your lovely clean face, which can result in spots and worsen existing skin conditions. A cute idea to help you with this is having a small basket in your bathroom with neatly rolled face cloths stacked up, ready for you to use a clean one every time you wash your face!

3. Not Washing Your Makeup Brushes Regularly

Makeup brushes are another location where bacteria can grow if you don’t clean them often. All that old makeup and bacteria, as well as oil buildup from your skin, makes dirty brushes a major cause of spots! You wouldn’t put dirty water on your face so why put dirty brushes on your face?! It’s important to clean your brushes at least once a week; you can even buy some gadgets to make your brush cleaning less of a chore, like the Stylpro Original that cleans and drys your brushes in seconds.

4. Transferring Bacteria Into Your Makeup

It’s strange that a lot of makeup brands don’t produce their foundations with a pump so you end up having to pour it out onto your hand if you can’t find a pump that fits. Not only is this annoying but it causes bacteria to be transferred into your foundation! This also applies to other products you have to dip into so it’s important to buy makeup pumps where you can and always use clean brushes when dipping into products to prevent your makeup from being contaminated! It should also be remembered that makeup actually has an expiry date, and it’s not recommended to use the products after this date because it’s safe to say they will definitely contain a good dose of acne causing bacteria!

5. Not Changing Your Pillow Case Regularly

For a long time I wondered why I was getting spots on the side on my face, in particular my cheeks. It wasn’t until I realised it was being caused from my pillow cases that I discovered a build up of oils from your hair can transfer to your pillow, which in turn transfers to your face and can cause spots. I made sure to change my pillow cases at least twice a week and like magic I started seeing an improvement in my skin! It’s particularly important to do this if like me you love putting argan or coconut oil in your hair, which can transfer onto your pillow cases.

6. Letting Your Hair Touch Your Face Constantly

Similarly to changing your pillow case, always allowing your hair to touch your face can cause spots. Your hair is coated in natural oils, along with any other products you may add which probably won’t agree with your skin. If your hair is always touching your face these products can transfer onto your skin and clog your pores. Wearing some cute clips to keep your hair off your face or using less products can help prevent them from forming!

7. Using Too Many Harsh Ingredients in Your Skincare Regime

When you have acne it’s can be very easy to think that throwing everything at it that you’ve got will make it disappear, but this can cause the acne to get worse or other skin conditions to appear. It’s important to remember to treat your skin kindly, it’s very easy to dry your skin out by overusing AHA/BHAs which can make your skin more sensitive, trigger more spots or lead to dermatitis. You may think that moisturising will make acne worse if you already have oily skin but trust me moisturiser is not your enemy! Investing in a good oil free moisturiser will make sure that you’re not over drying your skin and can actually help regulate sebum production. When you over dry your skin, it can respond by producing more sebum than before so it’s important to get the balance right.

8. Making Calls on Your Phone Frequently

If you’ve been changing your pillow cases frequency but are still getting spots on your cheeks then it might be because your making phone calls a lot. A recent study showed that your phones harboured more than 25,000 per inch and some even had more bacteria than a toilet seat! The issue is that your phone is rarely cleaned, if you’re someone who likes to sit on the toilet with your phone, you’ll most likely wash your hands after but not your phone. Additionally, all the bacteria from everything you touch during the day gets transferred to your phone, and this gets transferred to your face, in particular your cheek area when you make phone calls. It’s worth investing in some headphones with a microphone to make calls or carrying round alcohol wipes to give your phone the much deserved cleaning it needs!

9. Increased Stress Levels

We all get stressed at the best of times, but most people don’t realise that stress can have a negative effect on your skin. Stress doesn’t directly cause acne but it has been found that the stress hormone called ‘corticotrophin releasing hormone’ increases the production of oil on the skins surface which can cause more spots to form. Another important factor to remember is that when we are stressed we may forget to follow our usually skin routine!

10. Poor Diet

Many studies have shown that eating a healthy diet can improve your skin and help reduce the amount of spots you get. Diets high in sugar increase your insulin levels, which in turn caused your oil glands to produce more oil causing more spots. Sugar is not the only thing in your diet to do this, but also high glycemic carbohydrates, dairy, saturated fats and trans fats. If you want to help your skin it’s suggested you consume more:

    Fruit
    Vegetables (especially leafy greens)
    Legumes
    Whole grains
    Oily fish
    Nuts and seeds

Final Note

Recognising the underlying causes of your acne is the first step towards helping to treat it. If you follow these 10 easy steps then your on the way to getting your acne under control! Always remember that if you’ve tried all of these steps, as well as over the counter products, but your acne persists then its best to seek advice from a dermatologist.

What’s your best tips to fight acne?

Laura 

#PaisleyBrownies – Brownies Delivered To Your Door

If your anything like me, and the rest of the U.K. for that matter, then you’ve probably been spending most of lockdown baking away. I’ve had some good bakes and some not so good. So after many bags of flour and failed bakes later I decided it was time to call in the professionals. This is where Paisley Flour comes to the rescue!

Paisley Flour is a bespoke catering company located in the Worcestershire town of Bewdley. From cakes to wedding catering to private dining there’s nothing that Paisley Flour can’t do! But more recently they’ve been running the exciting (and very delicious) #PaisleyBrownies campaign, delivering boxes 8 different flavoured brownies across the whole UK. I can’t think of anything better than receiving this little box of joy in the mail, whether it’s for a special occasion or because you just deserve a treat!

I was kindly gifted a box of brownies to try by Paisley Flour. They were perfectly wrapped to keep them protected during the journey and arrived looking like they had been freshly baked only hours ago! When I opened the box it was love at first sight, I was greeted by 8 decadently moist brownies of a variety of flavours. The flavours I received in the box were:

  • Orange Liquor Cointreau & Terry’s Chocolate Orange
  • Tia Maria Glaze with Rich Belgium Chocolate & Peppermint After Eight
  • Honey Jack Daniels & Almond with Toblerone
  • Traditional Chocolate Brownie
  • Salted Caramel & Peanut with Snickers
  • Peanut Butter with Peanut M&M’s
  • Malteaser Cookie Dough
  • Espresso Martini Kitkat Brownie

After trying all of them there wasn’t a single one that I didn’t like. My favourite had to be the malteasers cookie dough, as I’m a real sucker for anything that has cookie dough in! Paisley Flour changes the flavours each week so there’s something different every time you try a box. What I love about the company too is that they’re donating £1 from every sale to charity and you can even add a personal note in with your order, making the #PaisleyBrownies the perfect gift for any chocolate lover!

You can get your hands on these boxes of pure chocolatey heaven by visiting the Paisley Flour website here. For just £17.50 you get 8 uniquely flavoured hand baked brownies, a personal message included (if you want one), and postage included too! No longer do you have the hassle of baking and making a mess whilst doing so, but you’re also supporting a small local business! The #PaisleyBrownies make the perfect gift for any occasion or even as a little lockdown pick me up to get you through the tough times. But one thing I can assure you is that if you order #PaisleyBrownies they most definitely won’t disappoint!

What’s your favourite flavour brownie?

Laura 

Disclaimer: I was gifted this brownie selection box, however all opinions are genuine and my own.

 

The Barnt Green Inn Review

Located in the leafy Worcestershire village of Barnt Green, the popular country pub favourite of mine, The Barnt Green Inn, has recently had an exciting new refurbishment. I couldn’t wait to visit to see how this beautiful historic listed pub had reinvented itself! I’ve always loved the food at The Barnt Green Inn, so for me the most exciting part was the brand new menu which was chosen to incorporate fresh fresh flavours and ingredients inspired by modern world food trends.

Eager to see the transformation I headed to The Barnt Green Inn for their re-opening night so I could be one of the first to see the exciting new chances. At the door I was met with the usual warm welcome by the staff but was taken aback by the breathtakingly new lush interior, which brought a twist of modern to the classic feel of the half timbered original decor.

The bar area was large but had a private feel to it and was still as cosy as I remembered it before! Situated in the bar on the opening night was something I’d never seen before – a build your own gin station. Filled with an array of fresh fruit, garnishes, and botanical, something I couldn’t resist. With the expertise of the staff I was able to craft a gin and tonic that consisted of the perfect combination of flavours for my personal taste.

It has to be said The Barnt Green Inn has really succeeded in creating a luxurious venue whilst still incorporating the classic charm the building had before its renovation. I don’t think there’s an establishment within the Midlands quite like it! I really am impressed with the new interior but I have to say my favourite part is the toilets (strange I know).

I absolutely adore the chic feel of the bathrooms and couldn’t help taking a few pictures of myself in the cute little mirrors either. If only I could have a bathroom this stylish at home!

Now onto the food. I’d probably say my favourite hobby is eating, so I was definitely excited to taste the new menu that had been created by the team. I was spoilt for choice, everything sounded so lovely but I finally settled on the Pork Belly Bao Buns and my mother opted for the Seared Wild Atlantic Scallops. Our food arrived shortly after we order and looked an absolute treat! The Pork Belly Bao Buns came with a red chilli, pineapple and mango salsa which perfectly complimented the pork. Additionally the chilli gave the dish a fiery kick that went nicely with the sweetness of the mango and pineapple. On the side was a pot of thai-style dipping sauce if you fancied adding a little bit of extra heat to the dish! I really enjoyed the Pork Belly Bao Buns; they were perfectly flavoured, very filling and brilliant for sharing.

I’ve never tried scallops before and as my mother opted for the Seared Wild Atlantic Scallops I found this the perfect opportunity to try one for the first time. The scallops were served along lobster and a crab bonbons with a pea and truffle oil velouté. My mother really enjoyed this dish and I have to say so did I…my first time tasting scallops was a success! I expected them to be overpoweringly fishy, but instead they were tender and juicy, with a very subtle seafood taste. Now I know that they’re delicious I will certainly be ordering them in the future!

For the main I opted for the Outdoor-Reared Heritage Breed Rotisserie Sticky Glazed Pork Belly. I had pork as my starter so probably shouldn’t have opted for it as my main, but it sounded too delicious to resist! It was served with smoky creamed corn, roasted butternut squash, calvolo nero mashed potato, red wine jus and crispy crackling. The pork was cooked to perfect and was so tender it melted in my mouth. Surprisingly I’ve never tasted roasted butternut squash before, I’ve only tried it in soups but it was really flavoursome and I’ll definitely be trying it at home in the near future. The creamed corn went unusually well with the dish, adding a unique flavour when paired with the pork. My only criticism is that I would have liked more calvolo nero in the mash as I adore it, but I guess that’s just a personal preference!

My mother opted for the Four Bone Lamb Rack which looked impressive to say the least! This was served with chorizo, butternut squash purée, roasted shallots, calvolo nero, dauphinoise potatoes, chimmi churri and a red wine jus. You were able to choose how you wanted your lamb cooked and to my mothers delight it was cooked expertly, with it being exactly how she had asked for it to be. I didn’t try dish myself but I’ll take my mother’s word that it was all cooked to perfection, being one of the nicest meals she’s had in a very long time!

After finishing two mouth-wateringly delicious courses we browsed the desserts menu and decided on the Icon Sharing Dessert Birdcage. This exciting dessert consisted of a half birdcage structure with three tiers of desserts. The desserts included were vanilla cheesecake, strawberry, chocolate & pistachio smash; blackcurrant mousse & mango coulis; home-baked brownie, French almond macaron & pecan praline ice cream. This dessert is made to be shared between two to three people, or just one if your appetite is big enough! I was excited to try each dessert of this trio, as they weren’t too similar in taste or texture and it seems like the selection was picked so as to bring you an array of different flavours to excite the tastebuds. My favourite was the chocolate brownie as it was really light and fluffy, but decadent at the same time! Overall, I really did enjoy all the elements of each dessert and would definitely recommend the Icon Sharing Dessert Birdcage if you’re stuck on what dessert to choose, not only is it delicious but also makes for a great picture!

Overall I had an absolutely amazing night at the newly refurbished Barnt Green Inn. The staff were as friendly and attentive as ever, but I was really taken aback by the effort that has gone into designing the luxury velvet interior which merges perfectly with the original timbered structure. Before the refurbishment I didn’t think the food could get any better at The Barnt Green Inn but I couldn’t be anymore wrong. I throughly enjoyed every course I had and wished I could have ate it all over again!

The Barnt Green Inn has really put itself on the map as a luxury dining destination. Perfect for family outings or special occasions, it’s really worth giving this establishment a visit as you certainly won’t regret it. You can find out more information about The Barnt Green Inn and see their menus here.

What’s your favourite country pub?

Laura 

Disclaimer: I was gifted this meal, however all opinions are genuine and my own.

 

Heaven Sent Lichfield Review

It’s not often that I get time to pamper myself, so I set it as my new years resolution for 2020 to start giving myself the pampering I deserve! There’s nothing better than having a relaxing massage or facial after a hard week at work and in late 2019 I discovered the newly opened Heaven Sent in the charming cathedral city of Lichfield, located in Staffordshire.

Heaven Sent is a luxury salon spa located in a beautiful listed building on the scenic cobbled streets of Lichfield. Already having a branch in Sutton Coldfield, Heaven Sent opened the Lichfield branch in December 2019 offering an array of skin and beauty therapeutic treatments. After visiting the salon in December when it first opened, having an amazing facial and massage treatment, I couldn’t wait to come back. Eager to visit again I returned this month to try out the ‘Lichfield Luxury Ritual‘.

Upon entering the salon you’re greeting by the bright fresh chic interior and friendly staff who show you to the stylish seating area to relax and enjoy a drink whilst you wait for your treatment. After a few minutes I was then shown to the ambiently lit treatment room where the ‘Lichfield Luxury Ritual’ would be taking place, which had amazing heated massage beds and candles lit to set the mood. I was so warm and cosy that I could have nodded off! The treatment started off with some relaxing inhalation’s of lavender and vetiver to bring a calming feel of tranquility to the experience; this is something I’ve never done before but it really relaxed me!

The ritual then proceeded which started off with a well needed soothing foot exfoliation for my tired feet. My feet were then wrapped in warm steamed towels whilst my back was coated in a cleansing body lather that contained olive grains to exfoliant and cleanse my skin. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, a soothing mask was applied to my feet, followed by amazing heated booties. I was in heaven! To finish the ritual my whole body, including face and scalp was massaged with luxurious body oil followed up with sleep well nourishing body cream.

The whole ritual took about 80 minutes and I was left feeling a new level of relaxation I’d never felt before, with super soft skin! After my treatment I was able to return to the stylish waiting area where I chatted to the lovely staff and helped myself to the drinks on offer for clients. After a tiring January at work this was just what I needed to revitalise myself! After the treatment I returned home and had one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a long time. Heaven Sent go above and beyond to make sure your experience is one to remember, from the beautiful interior to the attention to detail to goes into perfecting every treatment. Kelly and all the team at Heaven Sent really know how to make you feel special and this is reason why I will be returning again and again for the fantastic treatments they have on offer!

If your local to Staffordshire or the West Midlands I’d definitely recommend visiting Heaven Scent, you certainly won’t regret it! Whether you’re tired and worn out, or just need some pampering, Heaven Scent has a treatment to fit your every need and bring you back to feeling like your best self! You can find out more about what they have to offer on their website here.

When booking you can use ‘LAURA15’ to gain 15% off the price of any treatment!

What’s your favourite spa treatment?

Laura 

Disclaimer: I was gifted this treatment, however all opinions are genuine and my own.