Second-hand, First-choice. My charity shop journey begins here!

I’ve often seen people getting amazing products in second-hand shops. Whether you’re after something vintage, a bit more limited edition or you want higher quality materials at a lower cost, there’s plenty of reasons why people are turning to hunting through rails of pre-loved items to renew and refresh their wardrobe.

Despite spending a good amount of my last 10 years on quite a low income I never really thought of shopping in charity shops as a valid method for acquiring new clothing and often was stuck with easily worn, cheap clothing that I wore to death till they were worn out. There wasn’t really a reason to this, I didn’t think I was ‘better’ than second-hand, I just wasn’t aware of the options out there, and even now I am in a more fortunate position to have hauls at my favourite clothing stores I am now realising the impacts of fast-fashion so turned to my TikTok followers (@ohsoviki) to ask for their best tips and tricks to getting the best quality items to revamp my wardrobe for all seasons!

Last week I headed home for some quality time with friends and family for my birthday and made it my mission to go on a treasure hunt to see what I could find! I have to say even in the short time I’ve been shopping second-hand I’ve learnt so many tips and tricks, learnt a lot about fast-fashion and our growing textile demands and been able to afford some brands I used to only dream of with absolutely no shame of giving these items a new, loving home!

The response to my hauls and adventures has been completely overwhelming so I decided to translate my series both from my TikTok’s into a running blog series right here too. I started my journey in Grimsby and Cleethorpes and after listening to tips from commenters I took what I learnt and journeyed more locally to my home, from Camberley to Guildford, Fleet and Frimley. I’m yet to venture to Basingstoke, Windsor and Reading as I’m so intrigued to see the differences in both stores and areas.

I’ll be bringing you haul posts, tips to find good products, ethics behind charities and fast-fashion and much, much more. So if you’ve always thought about making second-hand clothing your first choice, stick around, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have!

Synake – Synthetic Snake Venom for effortless Vegan anti-ageing

Snake venom has been used for decades in beauty and medicine. Painless to the skin but triggering minor paralysis on a molecular level mimicking a snake bite so your bodies natural defences are relaxed, lessening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is becoming ever prevalent in anti-ageing skincare alongside bee venom which is used to plump out skin. The only issue is, it’s really not a nice ingredient, without getting too much into the preachiness of it snakes go through a lot of discomfort for our vainness which is where Synake comes in.

What is Synake?

Synake is a synthetic compound modelled on snake venom designed to work on relaxing the muscles in the face to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. You don’t need a degree to understand it but to get sciencey the peptide mimics a peptide called Waglerin-1 which prevents uptake of sodium in muscles which stops your nerves in your muscles reacting and keeping them relaxed, like a much less potent form of Botox this reduction in movement stops the form of fine lines and wrinkles.

How Does Syn-ake Work?

Synake is mimicked from a particular snake called the Temple Viper. The Temple Viper uses it’s venom to paralyse its prey and scientists found the cause of this to be the Waglerin-1 peptide, so by creating a chemically similar structure the synthetic version produces the same effect. Unlike Marine Collagen (which we discussed in this post) Synake is small enough to penetrate deep into the skin and get to work where they need to, however this is temporary and very targeted to the specific area. Due to the small percentage in concentration and the targeted effect there’s no need to worry about snake entering your bloodstream and causing muscle weakness overall.

Most peoples main areas of concern are the eyes and mouth. Because your face moves so much with expressions your skin is constantly expanding and relaxing, when you start to loose collagen then your skin does not snap back which is the main cause of wrinkles. Synake has a unique ability to temporarily and in a small dose relax your muscles so these expressions are not so prominent to cause these – it is not as drastic as botox though so you are not a blank stare and still have that loveable personality.

Pros and cons

Much like most anti-ageing products synake comes with pros and cons, and they’re pretty similar to most others on the market.

THE GOOD:Syn-ake may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles through reducing the ability of the facial muscles to move.

Can be used on most skin types except those who are allergic to it.

THE NOT SO GOOD: It can irritate the skin, resulting in swelling, itching, and stinging.

Synake test

So as we’ve discovered Synake is more of a preventative ingredient, therefore it’s really good to use for me as I’m only just starting to worry about fine lines and wrinkles. It’s not as extreme as botox so I don’t expect to have any kind of facial paralysis but I do expect to feel some form of skin tightening.

skinChemists: SC Advanced Wrinkle Killer Snake Serum 6% – 30ml

First thing I noticed before even using this product is it’s actually a pretty potent concentration. Most on the market are 1-4% which is good for sensitive skin or for anyone unsure on trialling it but this being in a higher concentration makes it worth every penny!

From the initial pump I realised this was quite a heavy serum. I’m always dubious about using heavy concentrations around my eyes as it’s such a delicate and thin area that too much product build up can actually contribute to bags and milia (small white spots). I focused application on the top of my cheekbone flowing upwards to my temple and then allowed the small amount of product left to go higher towards my eye.

I’m quite impressed with the month I’ve been using it. I find I don’t have as many deep pillow lines after sleeping and am looking forward to seeing some more results over continued use. What I find more impressive is that technology has come along enough that we can now synthesise these concoctions without the need of taking them from animals.

Have you heard of sy-nake before?
Would you try it out?
Let me know in the comments below!

ZERO WASTE , ZERO EFFORT – 5 small changes I’ve made whilst still living life in 2021

Going ‘zero waste’ is becoming more and more popular now, for years I’ve used recyclable cups, glass Tupperware and ditched the baby wipes but I’ve never realised just how much single use plastic I contribute to landfill on even a daily basis.

With more and more lifestyle changes becoming accessible now I feel like it’s time to actually educate myself in this area and see just how damaging my efforts are and how even some simple small changes can help. The thought of going fully zero waste can be daunting and it’s not something that can be done overnight.

Problem areas

So the first thing I did was actually look at my lifestyle personally to see where I’m wasteful, there’s no point implementing a reusable coffee cup if you don’t even drink coffee right? My main issues were overbuying and buying single use. I’ve had glass Tupperware for a long time yet still buy fresh lunch everyday that use a lot of single use plastics.

Here are 5 changes I’ve recently implemented over time:

Facial cleansing – Despite being in love with beauty and skincare regimes frankly the last thing I want to do after a twelve hour shift is spend a good amount of time cleansing so I’ve been known to use micellar water and cotton pads. Now cotton is biodegradable sure, but lately I picked up two different options from TJC. The first is my more permanent solution and it’s the silicone facial brush from Opatra.

Opatra pure brush duo features two silicone sonic cleansing brushes with different sized bristles either sides and contoured to gently exfoliate the face.

You may have seen these in many iterations, they help cleanse your face with gentle sonic vibrations and there’s nothing single use about them! With the silicone material it’s easy to clean and not porous so no need to worry about bacterial growth.

Pack of 4 makeup cloths each suitable for approx 500 washes

Secondly I picked up some erase your face reusable wipes. Made from a gentle cotton blend these are good for on the go cleansing when I don’t have my opatra pure or for applying anything that I wouldn’t want to use my hands for. I am a bit conscious of bacteria growing on these so do wash them frequently but it’s a far better choice than baby wipes and cotton pads.

Bambody period pants – let’s normalise talking about periods! I haven’t used pads or tampons for years! For one I find pads ridiculously uncomfortable and tampons have toxins in them, but secondly the sheer amount of these you get through is ridiculous! I tried out a moon cup for a few years which I had on and off success with, sometimes there would be leaks and on days like that I was always on edge, but when it worked it was amazing, it was so freeing and felt really clean.

I decided to try bamboo body pants as an alternative. I had a few reservations at first, what about leaks, or smells, but I’m honestly overwhemlmed at the success! There’s a weird feeling on heavy days after you’ve been to the toilet that frankly you’d just have to try to understand but they’re hygienic, they make me feel like I’m safe and secure, they even alleviated some cramps once with the elasticated band putting on just enough tension in that area.

They’re ridiculously cost effective over their lifespan and bamboo is renowned for antibacterial and anti microbial properties. I paid around £25 for three pairs which have done me for even my heaviest days, I think I’ll buy one more pack because even though I’m good at washing them straight away it’s just peace of mind. A three pack should do you fine if you wash and dry regularly but if you have a busy schedule or can’t guarantee they’ll dry in time ( you can’t put them in a dryer and they do take a while to fully air out) then just two packs is still cheaper than what you’d pay for a year of period products.

Reusable tote bags – This one doesn’t need much explaining and people have been doing it for years, it’s such a simple idea but something I never do, I always forget to pack bags but this year I’ve made a conscious effort to just have one in my bag constantly and if I go shopping and forget it in the car I’ll just nip back out for it instead of dismissing it. I feel like this is something everyone is aware of but so many just forget or don’t dedicate time to it so if you need a sign to make this a habit then this is it!

Buying loose fruit and vegetables – now the markets have been closed this has been tough for me for things like fruit lately. Back home I used to be subscribed to a weekly fruit and veg box that was all loosely packed and perfect portion sizing, as my schedule is so changeable here I’ve not looked into one locally because I don’t want the food going to waste, I have however been buying any veg I can loose and when things open up again I will definitely be shopping around for both food that has no single use plastic and also is more locally produced.

Conscious food buying – I have really started buying just what I need, I have a small freezer (just one shelf within my fridge) so can’t fit anything in for storage. A lot of food would go off before I could finish it and usually it would be in single use bags so I’ve really started evaluating sizes of food I’d buy and if I’d get through it or not. The biggest change I found wasn’t actually for me but it was buying my cats food in tins. The amount of disposable packets I’d bin on a daily basis just for convenience of dishing up was shocking when they piled up whereas tins can be recycled.

Overall thoughts

Realistically I think going completely zero waste is kind of impossible in our current world but reduce reuse recycle goes a long way to helping that. I’m tired of seeing the needless amounts of single use plastic in supermarkets specifically on fruits and veg as that’s such a large portion of my diet! I try to buy loose where possible but today for example I needed some ginger for a sore throat and a small piece of ginger was in a big single use plastic bag! I got home and realised literally next door was a local supermarket that has fruit and veg available loose! I guess the lesson here is that this is a lifestyle that you are proactive with and don’t beat yourself up over, you make small changes a day at a time until it’s second nature and just think over your decisions a little more. It’ll take time, but it’ll get there.

Are you or Have you ever thought about zero waste?

If there was even one change you could make what would it be?

Let me know in the comments below!

Shein accessory haul

Lately i’ve been trying to mix my wardrobe up, it’s coming to spring so there’s a lot of chance to experiment with different styles for all the weather, but one thing I always push to the side is combining accessories. For the most part i’ve kept the same ear piercings in from when they were first pierced, I’ll always forget to put on a necklace and i’ll just pick up ten different rings and throw them on whatever finger will fit. I realise i’m missing out on making a coherent look and being able to flawlessly change the style or theme of an outfit with a few small adjustments so I decided to do a big accessory haul to see what looks I can create just by changing up accessories.

The great thing about Shein is the price and variety, i’ve bought things I would NEVER usually wear just because it’s a price point that’s so friendly that if it doesn’t really work it’s no loss to me. I’m generally a big fan of shopping from smaller independent businesses but that is something i’m working towards overall so this is a good way to test run different styles for me

7 Rings

I bought some multi-packs of rings, I used to be a nightmare for going to primark and bulk buying packs of 12 ring sets and wearing them all at once. I love the design of the hamsa and geometric set, so much so that i’d honestly just keep them on display! The second set had more of a nautical theme which for me personally would be a very specific wear in summer. The fit is ok but not ideal, the quality of most are good but they will definitely tarnish quickly (I actually applied a THIN layer of seethrough nail polish to them to make it last but i’ve found in the past that gets tacky in warm weather even after fully drying)

I think really, i’ve got to the point where rings are my main accessory so I should just focus on spending a bit more on quality but I just love the variety and wearing multiple rings at once so this is a good way to do that for different occasions and have long-lasting ones for everyday wear.


Ok, who doesn’t love a classic curb chain?! I used to think it was incredibly chavvy but i’m obsessed now. I’ve bought good quality curb necklaces but I thought i’d get a few bracelets to match. The large one honestly feels like plastic, it’s completely hollow and I know it’ll go green after one use, the smaller one is a lot better but you can really see the quality matches the price here.

The gemini bracelet was a bit of a shock because i’m positive I ordered a necklace. I love it though! As a bracelet it’s way too big even at it’s smallest point which you can see above, I also don’t think as a bracelet it’s my style but I’ve worn it with a necklace extender under a large collar so you don’t really notice and I think it’s a much better look overall! I love the figaro chain design used on it as it fuses modern design with a classic chain but i’m not sure you’ll see much of that with a necklace extender as i’d have to wear it under a bigger collar.


I bought the gummybear earrings honestly because they were cute! They’re actually incredibly well made and good quality! I’ve had no reactions from any of the shein earrings and i can only usually wear surgical grade stainless steel and above for longer than a couple of hours! The gemini earrings are a cute concept albeit seen in most places, the quality is quite rough but unless you’re up close it’s acceptable.

The dangle earrings are my favourite! I bought these same ones last summer and broke it so re-ordered, they have cute accents of faux diamonds and are shaped like paper cranes, they’re also adjustable in length and I think they’re simple but effective.

For the price I actually rate Sheins earrings, do be careful though, just because i’ve not had a reaction doesn’t mean they’re ok for everyone with sensitive ears as they are definitely a cheaper material but there are so many styles available and i’m pretty impressed with the results.


Moon and pendant clip – This is adorable! The latch is quite fiddly and not quite secure but I love it! Truthfully it is quite hard to find the right amount of hair to put in so it is secure and the pendant doesn’t move but also closes fully.

Multi-hoop gold hair rings – I picked these as a trial item because I wanted to experiment with different styles this summer. I think this is definitely for more of an edgy look over a cutesy and I will need a lot of practice with braiding but I love these in a side braid tight to the head or a ponytail!

Belt – A chunky yet hollow curb with an excentuated chain on a pleather belt. The holes in this aren’t quite enough for different sizes but if you want

Golden belt – I completely forgot this was a whole wrap-around belt and thought it just clipped on either side of some trousers. This can definitely jazz up a casual plain black t-shirt dress or be worn on nights out. The quality is cheap (no surprise when the cost is equivalent) but because it’s not direct skin contact I think this will be fairly long lasting because colour won’t be worn away like cheap jewellery which reveals the brassy undertones or green.

Over the knee socks – Simple but needed. These are only one size and quite thin higher up so not truly one size. They are incredibly thin material and easily worn but a cute design to mix up an outfit.

Overall thoughts

Ok the quality is cheap, but the product is cheap, so there’s no surprise there. This has really opened up my eyes to being adaptable to trying different styles and not being scared to dip away from the norm. I am a bit concerned about the amount of waste from this type of shopping and that’s something I learnt from this haul as I think some of the brass and glass pieces won’t last more than a few wears.

I love that Shein isn’t afraid to try new concepts, a cute ‘gemini’ bracelet with a classic figaro chain is a really nice juxtaposition of contemporary and classic, the pleather belt with the statement curb to break it up is also another example of this.

I think if you pay attention to user reviews and pay attention to price you’ll do ok here, the cheap cheap stuff really isn’t worth more than one wear and that is wasteful but the midrange pricing is the acceptable level of quality you need for statement pieces to add to your wardrobe and jewellery box.

I think Shein for me is definitely a way to escape my comfort zone and trial new things i’d usually think are too bold or tacky for my style because i’ve often fell in love with them! It’s a great way to experiment and then take what you’ve learnt to spend more money on quality pieces that will last longer – because frankly there’s nothing worse than your favourite accessory breaking or tarnishing.

Will you be mixing up your style this spring/summer?
Would you like to see more haul pieces to mix up the beauty reviews?
Let me know in the comments below!

Increasing your collagen – Vegan edition

Did you know your collagen starts depleting from 25! TWENTY FIVE! Still practically a baby to the actual world yet having to combat one of the main signs of ageing already! Collagen is the building blocks of bouncy skin making up around 40% of it. It contributes to elasticity and plumpness of skin as well as flexibility in joints and muscles. We all want to age gracefully and looking after your collagen production factories will help you do so.

A beauty expert I work closely with recites one solid piece of advice that the first sign you notice of collagen loss is pillow lines – and I’ve started to get them! It is A LOT easier to take active steps to continually produce collagen than try to gain everything back once you pass a certain point, and despite a lot of people telling me I don’t need to worry just yet, I’m past that 25 year age bracket and I have been paying particular attention to this lately.

There are a wealth of products available already that contain collagen (derived from animals) however topical products contain collagen molecules are actually too large for your skin to absorb and reap any benefits so you’re paying a hefty price tag for something to sit atop your skin layer. Today I’ll be debunking some Collagen myths and looking at how we can boost collagen levels with just a few small changes in a cruelty-free and vegan way.


Collagen cream will fix everything so lather collagen cream on you – This is actually a terrible thing to do twofold, especially around the eyes! If you put too much cream on, your product will actually build up in the most sensitive area of skin, producing a bulbous effect and leading to bags, milia etc. The second reason this won’t work is something I’ve already touched briefly on which is that collagen molecules are actually too big to penetrate your skin to a deep enough level so simply using a cream is not enough to break through and ‘add collagen’ you need to stimulate this production from within.

Only marine collagen will help you – now it is a fact marine collagen obtained by fish is closer to ours and more effective than bovine collagen, but again the molecules are just too big to be obtained topically and eating it your body processes it into food rather than plumping and lifting. There is marine collagen derived from algae which isn’t as effective as fish collagen but definitely better ethically.

You don’t need to worry till you’re in your 40/50s – As I said collagen starts depleting in your 20’s so it’s never too early to make a few small lifestyle changes to continue a higher level of production, if you get into the habit early it’ll become second nature and won’t seem like a big change for rapid results.

The only way to boost your collagen is to eat or apply it – Humans don’t actually need to eat, nor apply, collagen from another being to have healthy levels of the protein within their bodies. There is a big misconception that simply eating collagen will automatically boost your levels and whilst it definitely helps add some it is such a small percentage as your body breaks the collagen down to food proteins, it’s not to know you want to divert the collage to firming up the skin or restoring elasticity.

“You cannot restore your body’s own collagen” – YOUR BODY DOES NOT STOP PRODUCING COLLAGEN! It is only the level of production that is reduced and that level can’t be increased by topical application of collagen creams as we’ve discovered. Instead, the production needs to be stimulated by active ingredients and from within your body and that’s what we will explore now…


A good facial – I’m lucky that I don’t need to be in a spa to enjoy spending an hour or two on skincare every Sunday. I don’t find it taxing, I enjoy relaxing and playing around with products. I can understand it’s quite time consuming and may not be relaxing for some. That’s why I take time in my daily routine to use products like Retinol – see my Retinol bible here, to exfoliate at a deeper level, exfoliating dead, sun-damaged or congested skin. An SPF is also standard come rain or shine, protecting your skin to reduce the outward appearance of damaged skin and continually promoting glowing skin. If you don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to weekly facials then implement small changes into your daily routine specifically focusing on removing dead skin cells and stimulating production of fresh ones.

Red light – Working harmoniously with the above point I’ll give myself an at-home red light facial weekly (twice a week when I have time and frankly can be bothered) There are plenty of stimulating products. I use the Opatra Dermisonic weekly and the Dermi-eye Plus daily to add my eye cream (mainly because my eyes are my main area I’d like to preserve) It’s such an adaptable product I can utilise it for around lips or any other smaller areas of concern, making it a lot better for daily use. Red light helps your products penetrate deeper into your skin so the ingredients in them can actually work at a deeper level rather than just at the top layer, therefore being more effective.

Diet – Vegan diets generally contain more plants which are rich sources of anti-inflammatory properties so effortlessly eating good foods will help. Low-starch foods, leafy greens, nuts, lentils, beans, citrus fruits and avocados are just a few examples of foods that will promote collagen production by reducing inflammation. Vitamin A,B3 and C contribute to higher levels of collagen production for healthy skin, hair and nails and limiting salty, sugary, alcohol or caffeine will help not to counteract these (Don’t worry, I’m still constantly with a coffee in my hand, we have to have some vices)

Load up on antioxidants – There are things called free radicals (which I only learnt about during research for this post) They’re caused by toxic cells releasing from the likes of alcohol, tobacco, etc. They can be neutralised by antioxidants and frankly I’m lucky enough to love foods rich in antioxidants (especially blueberries!) so to me this isn’t really something I’ve had to implement it’s just about understanding how to do it right. I’ll naturally eat antioxidant rich foods throughout the day but if I’m treating myself to smoothies I will always opt for cold pressed and this is something I was doing wrong for years. Most shop bought smoothies contain a tonne of sugar and have the nutrients stripped out of them, even ones you make at home. This is because when they’re being made the motor spinning it heats up and kills off all of the nutrients. That’s why you want cold pressed to keep all of those benefits such as Vitamin A and C which we know work in tandem with your body to promote collagen production.


When it comes to collagen start working on it early, the small changes or additions you implement now the more collagen you will continually produce and the easier it will be BUT REMEMBER It’s not all or nothing – what’s a life worth living if you aren’t enjoying yourself, so think of this as a kind of menu where you pick and choose the small changes you can implement without obstruction, small changes are better than letting it pass you by. And it’s good to look good for your age, not questionably young/fake.

Do you work daily on keeping your collagen levels up?
What tips and tricks do you have?
Let me know in the comments below!

All About Acids! AHA & BHA survival guide.

Sometimes we can get lost in the world of beauty terminology, everyone want’s great skin without the need for a science degree, but it’s important to understand some key ingredients and their use in skincare so you can make sure you’re getting the best products for your skin type and concerns. There’s no one size fits all as everyones skin is unique but you spend the most time looking at your skin, you have a good idea of issues you may want to tackle so use products to target those concerns.

Frankly there are endless acids on the market. Last week we looked at Retinols and today we will be looking at the difference between two of the most popular acids – AHA’s and BHAs. Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid. Don’t be scared off by the term ‘acid’ here as these ingredients can be fantastic for some major skin concerns.

If we get down to the bare bones of it AHA’s tend to work at a surface level whereas BHA’s penetrate deeper into the pores to tackle congestion at a deeper level. AHAs are water-soluble acids made from sugary fruits, by peeling away the surface skin level it generates skin cell renewal which reveals evenly textured skin. My Beauty Bay Skincare review featured their correcting serum which at its core features AHAs for this exact reason.

Unlike AHAs, BHAs can get deeper into the pores to remove dead skin cells and excess sebum and are oil-soluable.

So what are the shared benefits?

  • decrease inflammation, a key marker of acne, rosacea, and other skin concerns
  • decrease the appearance of large pores and surface wrinkles
  • even out your skin tone
  • improve overall skin texture
  • remove dead skin cells
  • unclog pores to prevent acne


  • mild hyperpigmentation like age spots, melasma, and scarring
  • enlarged pores (please don’t make the mistake I have by trying to reduce pores, this is a beauty myth, however your pores look bigger when they are full of dirt so simply by cleansing thoroughly and unclogging deep dirt your pores will not have that deep look anymore)
  • fine lines and surface wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone


  • acne
  • sun damage
  • calming sensitive skin (in low concentrations!)
  • Boosting skin cell turnover drying out excess oils and unclogging pores
An example of AHA & BHA in the same product.

Both AHA’s and BHA’s are exfoliators so it’s important to use a good moisturiser in combination with it. Some occasional use products will contain both of these but they can cause irritation if regularly used together. For example, I use The Ordinarys AHA & BHA peeling mask but only weekly as it can be abrasive on skin, I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone with sensitive skin! Personally I will alternate between them, using AHA’s which are for top level concerns in the morning and using BHA’s in the evening where the product can sink into my skin unencumbered by makeup and daily battles so they can be more effective. You are the best judge of this, there is no harm in using the product in different parts of the skin where there are different concerns or even just seeing what your skin needs that day and using it accordingly.

Just to complicate things AHAs and BHAs are an umbrella term for a lot of other acids which may become confusing when reading ingredients lists. Most products try to make it simple for you on the bottle now but as a little cheatsheet Salicylic acid is the only BHA whereas Glycolic, Lactic, Citric, Malic and more come under the AHA label

That’s all there is to it!

If you’re struggling to remember anything just look for your skincare concern here:

AHA’s are for surface level issues, build up of product, dry skin relief or anti-aging benefits
BHA’s are for deep level unclogging, tackling acne, oily skin and overall speeding up skincell renewal

So there we have it! The difference between two of the most popular skincare ingredients so you know what to look out for in your next purchase! There is no right or wrong or one size fits all so it’s about finding what works for you with your skincare concerns! Let me know some of your skincare faves in the comments below!

Retinol 101 – what, why, how and a natural alternative

Almost everyone has heard of the wonders of Retinol but most people still don’t know what it is, what it does or how to determine which product is right for you. Maybe you’re even sat there thinking you can’t or don’t want to use Retinol because you’re prone to reactions or worried about cons! Well i’m going to break it down for you in a Retinol bible and even weigh in on a mystery ingredient that’s taking the beauty world by storm as a natural alternative to Retinol!

So let’s get started on this journey to improve your skincare with one fabulous addition!


Retinol is a miracle ingredient that sinks deep into your skin and speeds up cell regeneration which helps fight signs of ageing by eliminating dull, dry and wrinkled skin by forcing your skin to regenerate fresher, younger cells. Retinol is a potent form of Vitamin A which comes in different strengths within skincare products.

It’s often used to prevent signs of ageing (wrinkles, dullness) fight imperfections (dark spots, uneven texture) treat acne and even out your complexion but…

Due to the shedding of cells some users will find their skin prone to redness, irritation or dryness. Therefore it’s pivotal you choose the right product for you, and trust me, there’s something out there for everyone to get all of these fabulous benefits!


There are thousands of products on the market so there is no ‘one size fits all’ here. It’s common for people to start with a product containing a smaller active dose and then work up. The Ordinary have a fabulous starter kit for this which contains 3 Retinols at different percentages (0.5%/1%/2%) so you can work up to the higher one in a sustainable way that get’s your skin used to it with less risk of inflammation or issues. I personally prefer Retinol in this form rather than a moisturiser as it breaks through your skin barrier deeper to actively combat issues at better levels than a moisturiser containing it which I feel can’t go as far as the molecules are bigger and less easily absorbed.

The absolute BIGGEST MISTAKE most people make without even realising it is using Retinol in a pipette form! (Unfortunately this is how The Ordinarys come) You’ll notice with Retinols that they come in dark brown glass bottles. This is so sun rays can’t break through the bottle and affect it which renders it useless, but those glass bottles often come with a pipette applicator. Every time you squeeze the pipette you’re sucking up oxygen as well as Retinol into a small space and it oxygenates the serum. This massively reduces its effectiveness when you put it back in the container and it’s shelf life is vastly reduced.

ALWAYS USE A SUNSCREEN! I never use Retinol in the daytime, it’s always at night directly before bed but because it is generally quite harsh and opens your skin to the elements it’s so important to wear a sunscreen! You should do this everyday anyway whether we’re in a blistering heatwave or darkest winter but it’s so, so, so important to remember this step when using Retinol in your regime.


So you’ve heard all your friends raving about how Retinol is saving their skin! You’ve tried it yourself and even starting at a lower % your skin isn’t reacting well, or maybe you don’t even like the thought of it enough to try it. This is where a relatively new staple beauty ingredient comes in … BAKUCHIOL!

Now I like to think I keep up with skincare trends and key ingredients so it comes as a surprise to me that skincare buffs have been talking about this ingredient for a while, it’s popularity however is vastly growing amongst consumers now for its claims of skin cell renewal in a natural and gentler way to Retinol.

Bakuchiol is something I recently tried from the By BeautyBay Skincare range. It is a plant derived Vitamin A alternative that is kind to all skin which means it plumps and hydrates skin without the sensitivity, peeling and redness that can occur for some with Retinol use. It’s CV is endless, it calms and soothes skin whilst firming skin and fighting wrinkles by plumping, but it doesn’t stop there, it also fights blemishes, redness and large pores by deep cleaning. At this point you have to ask why you need anything other than this, right?!

With a list of claims this long it’s easy to question it! Bakuchiol’s small molecules deeply penetrate your skin and work with your skin to promote skin regeneration and cell renewal (thus removing imperfections and blemishes) in doing this it’s also promoting collagen production and it is NEVER too early to work on that! You start loosing collagen at 25 and it’s far easier to keep a consistent regime early rather than scurrying around for a miracle when you’re older and at 20% of what you used to produce!

Reap the rewards of this miracle ingredient by using it both morning and night as it doesn’t make skin sensitive like Retinol does, so despite me preaching you should wear an SPF regardless there’s no need to fret using this before you face the day! That by no means should signal that this is less powerful though, studies have in fact shown that when comparing only 0.5% of Bakuchiol to 2% Retinol in fighting blemishes that Bakuchiol won!

So there it is! A complete guide on Retinol and it’s natural alternative! For me I don’t personally have an issue with Retinol use however I have become so obsessed with Bakuchiol that i’ve been using it every morning and am definitely starting to debate using it to replace my Retinol completely!

Do you use Retinol in your regime?

Have you been swayed by the power of Bakuchiol?

Let me know in the comments below!

Beauty Bay Skincare – Review

Once in a while a new company that you’ve been buying from religiously decides to come out with their own range of skincare. Whether they market a New usp, trusted expertise or ethical sourcing it seems everyone is trying their hand at it now, and I’m totally here for it!

Beauty Bay have been a consistent supplier of my beauty shelf for many years now, I originally found them as they were an exclusive supplier of some of my favourite brands only sold in the US. They started bringing out their own ranges of 24 pan eyeshadows that rivalled Morphe for both price, quality pigmentation and inspired colour palettes. Their skincare range released last year with a good base, there’s a large variety of products for different skin types and the only initial downfall for me is the options in moisturiser.

This week I’m delving deeper into skincare with a look at some of the products I trialled in todays sum up post as well as some further detail on some beauty musts that help you understand the reason these should be in every skincare enthusiasts beauty cupboard!

The Skincare by Beauty Bay packaging is simple yet chic, it gives all the relevant information in an easily digestible format and the website breaks down all of the products so you can easily find out which products are right for your skin, you can also use the handy online skincare builder to find a regime that suits you!

Without a doubt their serums are the stand-out. Named SkinHit as each have a unique target which you can use alone or with other products. They even say you can combine a few drops in a moisturiser however I always put lighter products on first so they seep in further. It can be quite daunting looking through so many products to see which is right for you, so check out the main points of each below!

Since the announcement that The Ordinary is being sold to parent company Estée Lauder (a non cruelty free brand) I need a new place for skincare, My Main focus is Niacinimide, Retinol and their bible product Buffet. Beauty Bays Niacinamide serum is a relatively new release so missed out on this haul. My concern is whether it’s an active ingredient for me to warrant it it being a comparable replacement however in my next Beauty Bay Haul I will try it because you can’t really go wrong for the price.

In the few months since launch the skincare range has already seen an expanse into masks, applicators and more. You can opt for one of their sets or build your own. Beyond a doubt their biggest range is their serums now totalling 9 unique serums targeting a wide range of skin issues. The most exciting new update is the protecting serum with anti-pollution and blue light actives which is something I’ve genuinely not seen anywhere else. Is it a gimmick? Who knows, but it sure got my attention!

For now though we will look at the products I did purchase. Like I said their range is laden in serums so I chose two – the clarifying and correcting. And then I chose the day one moisturiser which boasts protective and hydrating properties. The only mask they do is a clay one which I find very drying to skin and I didn’t need a cleanser as I have too many to go through so I felt this was a good start.


£6.50 Bakuchiol and Oatmeal tackling breakouts whilst moisturising skin.

Bakuchiol is something a lot of beauty buffs have been raving about lately! Albeit research for this post was my first encounter with it. It claims to be a natural alternative to retinol, providing all of the benefits with minimal side effects such as redness. This means it supports blemish control whilst tackling pigmentation.

Colloidal oatmeal is the second active ingredient that is used to moisturise and restore the skin. Often dry skin overcompensates with oils which leads to breakouts so whilst it’s good to use ingredients that help control breakouts it’s important to remember to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised or your products will work against your skin instead of alongside it.

Overall I really like this serum! I don’t personally have issues with Retinol based products so I’ll be looking for another Retinol but if you suffer from side effects of Retinol definitely try this!


£5.95 AHA & PHA actives to tackle congestion and texture concerns.

Texture concerns can often be caused by product build up so this serum uses glycolic acid as a key ingredient which delivers a gentle exfoliation and speeds up skin cell turnover. This evens out skin texture and reduces pigmentation. My main issue with this is that it markets itself as a concentrated exfoliating serum – would you wash off after? Surely if it boasts a gentle exfoliation it needs a cleanser after? There’s no information about this on the site so I’m not really sure if i’m overthinking this or it’s clever marketing to people who wouldn’t think too much into it.

This product glides seamlessly into your skin and definitely feels great after prolonged use, I think it’s quite overwhelming the amount of serums they have and I do feel I have issues with product build up despite cleansing thoroughly, my skin does feel fresher after using this for a few weeks!


£6.50 Ginseng and Squalene for protecting and hydrating skin

Moisturising is so important in your skincare routine! If your skin is dry it will produce excess oils to compensate which leads to breakouts. Beauty Bay unfortunately only offers two moisturisers. This one is incredibly lightweight and I suffer from dehydrated skin so for me this is something I’d need to apply consistently. It would be great as a starter moisturiser or for anyone who doesn’t suffer dehydrated skin.

Squalene hydrates whilst strengthening skin to stop hydration escaping whilst Indian Ginseng helps protect and shield the skin from damaging effects of screen emitted light (not something I can personally vouch for as I’m not a scientist but it’s quite a unique marketing point)

The second moisturiser they offer is definitely the one I should have gone for but unfortunately it was out of stock when I purchased! It is a thirst quenching rich moisturiser with oatmeal and oat lipids – something we also found in the clarifying serum.


Despite picking some products that aren’t personally right for me I can tell if you choose correctly these products will help where needed! They’re cost-effective without compromising on ingredients and I’m genuinely impressed at the range of serums they have bought out. I would like to see them branch out more into different products and not rely too much on serums as the moisturisers/masks and more seem like an afterthought or something they’re releasing just for sales whereas the serums genuinely seem like they’ve been thought out with due care and attention in genuinely tackling skin concerns.

I will definitely be purchasing some more of the serums to find my ultimate, I’m excited at trying the niacinamide and hopefully it can live up to The Ordinary version.

Have you purchased any Beauty Bay Skincare?

Which serums would you try out?

Let me know in the comments below!

My Veganuary Journey – it isn’t ending here

Veganuary may be over but it is the start of a new chapter in my life. Being Vegetarian for the past 12 years and eating 80% vegan for the past 3-4 years I decided it was time to fully make the commitment. Vegan diets are becoming more and more popular than ever with many more options on the market making it convinient for everyone, supermarkets and takeaways are all jumping on the bandwagon this year more than ever with a growing number of options which will hopefully stick around past January. If you thought about taking on Veganuary it’s not too late to try this lifestyle and I’m here to walk you through my experiences this past month.

The first big shop

A £50 bonus voucher from work for christmas was the perfect start to veganuary. That way I could get a variety of food, try lots of new things and it was more of a taster month of what I’d enjoy going forward. I headed to tesco and after spending £10 on cat supplies I had the other £40 to play with, I tried to get a variety of foods and some accompaniments to give a bit of variety to my meals.

Staples – Frozen veg, chicken, mince and frozen berries. I chose a variety of own brands and the more expensive brands for the fake meats and have to say they all tasted great, sure you can tell brands like oumph! and Naked glory have a premium taste but own brands are definitely good enough for day to day meals.

New Trials – Variety of sauces to spice up meals, vegan pulled pork bao buns, halloumi and feta. I also got a block of tofu, I love tofu in premade meals or at restaurants but have never cooked it before.

Treats – Vegan pizza and wine, mint choc chip ice cream (£2 from wicked kitchen, much cheaper than other brands that add a premium to vegan icecream)

Day to Day swaps

Starbucks surprised us all with their Vegan whipped cream!

I’ve despised milk for so long that it has not been an issue for me at all to swap that out! There’s so many different alternative milks now, Soya is a free replacement in most coffee shops, almond milk is my personal favourite but Costa Coffee’s new caramel oat latte+ is my daily fix now!

I don’t know why but i was shocked when I found vegan butter in my shop! I’ve had vegan margerine for years but butter is something new to me! It tastes really nice and seasoned.

Vegan cheeses taste a thousand times better than they used to when I first tried them 6 or 7 years ago! I got slices for burgers, Feta and Halloumi for salads and the vegan cheese alternatives delivered by dominos and pizza hut are so creamy and delicious!

Fancy Night In

With the current lockdown limiting us from going out for a nice dinner I decided I wanted a nice night in with a restaurant vibe. The one thing I knew I’d miss despite hating pasta generally was spinach and ricotta tortellini. I found Wicked kitchens Spinach and Wild garlic ravioli for £3 in Tesco and got that with a vegan garlic bread, vegan rose wine and Salted caramel Gü pots.

The ravioli was amazing, I was shocked at how soft it stayed as the usual tortellini I get goes cold 30 seconds after you plate it up and stiffens up pretty quickly. I didn’t use any sauce just a little bit of vegan butter and pepper and that was more than enough as the inside was so creamy! It really tasted as good as a restaurant and I was very impressed.

The salted caramel Gü pot was quite overwhelming at first, i didnt know what to make of it but halfway through i liked it, the biscuit base is noway near thick enough to counter the sweetness of the cream on top though which i think is why it was overwhelming.

Best Veganuary treats

  • Dominos Chick-Ain’t pizza
  • Starbucks Beyont meat breakfast burger – made with scrambled tofu, coconut cheese and delish own brand relish.
  • Fruit pastilles – Since their inception they were always made with gelatine but their latest batch isn’t and is suitable for vegans! Beware though, it’s only the new sharebags labelled vegan that are, a lot of old packets especially the small single rolls arent although going forth they should be. I had my friend try both of these and he said there was no difference!

Overall Thoughts

Entering Veganuary I knew this wouldn’t just be a month long commitment for me, but I’m surprised at how easy it was for me, on long 12 hour shifts the staple wicked kitchen stir fried tofu kept me going with some fruit as snacks. The options in supermarkets are ever growing and I can’t wait to see what they do next! I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything anymore as animal by-products are slowly being phased out of some products and there are great alternatives for the others. I’m proud of finally reaching this transition and frankly this month was a lot of exploring pre-made food, I’m actually excited to start learning how to cook my own foods.


So I asked all of you on my instagram @ohsoviki for your questions about my experience.

  1. I’ve wanted to transition from vegetarian to vegan but is it more expensive?
    I can relate to this! It’s one of the reasons I haven’t done it sooner because it would have just been me eating a plate of vegetables – plain! For years Quorn had the smallest percentage of milk or egg in it and then when they bought out their vegan range it was double the price! Luckily now theres so much more variety, lots of own brands are vegan, Aldi has some absolute steals! They have vegan pizza for £1.50! There’s also lots of ‘accidentally vegan’ food choices, it takes some time but with the right research you’ll realise you have so many options fit for all budgets!
  2. What do you miss most?
    Ooh thats tough because theres so many more options now! I’d say cheese but I didn’t *love* cheese before, theres lots of vegan cheese options now but you have to know how to cook it right, that’s probably what most vegans miss. As much as I don’t have a massive sweet tooth i’d say a good vegan cookie, there are so many out on the market now but none in any of my local stores as I live in a small village, they’re definitely out there though, co-op, tesco, aldi, marks and spencer, they all have their own vegan cookies now. I’ll just need to stock up when I get there!
  3. Is it healthier?
    Day to day I’d say yes because I have to think more about what I’m eating and planning food for work I make sure i’m eating healthier but there are so many more junk food vegan takeawy options than there was even a year or two ago! I ate so much vegan pizza last month and other junk food just because I wanted to try vegan options whilst it was veganuary and shops had it in.

Did you take part in Veganuary?
What’s your favourite vegan treat?
Let me know in the comments below!

Cruelty-Free & Vegan Beauty that flawlessly doesn’t break the bank! – Body Collection England

There are some places that I would never expect to visit to get a new fix of cruelty-free, vegan beauty that doesn’t break the bank, Wilko’s is definitely one of them, but last summer at the peak of lockdown I discovered a brand called Body Collection England, a homegrown vegan and cruelty free makeup brand that averages £2-4 for everyday makeup essentials (currently on 3 for 2 as well!)

Stepping in I was worried that it would only be certain branches that have this, Wilko’s beauty section is always right at the front of store and something I never even stop to browse at as it’s so limited and I’ve only ever seen the generic big brands that retail in China under the same parent company and test their products on animals. I walked in and was immediately surprised at the sheer amount of goodies lit up in front of me! There wasn’t just a wide range of different products but multiple types of each!

All of my haul clockwise : Eyeshadow Palette – Red Carpet Glam £2.50 | Poreless Primer £3 | Illuminating Liquid Foundation £4 | Baked Illuminator Pink Sand £2.50 |Liquid Illuminator Bronze £3 | Under-eye concealer £2.50 | Long Wear Eyeliner £1.50 | Lip Plumping Clear Gloss £1.50 | Lengthening Mascara £2.50 | Liquid Lipstick £2.50

I picked up all of my staples – primer, foundation, mascara, liquid lipstick and eyeshadow and then grabbed some treats to make sure I gave the whole range a good try, liquid and baked illumination, concealer, eyeliner and lip plumping gloss (something I recently got addicted to before the need to wear masks everyday and something I can’t wait to get back to) Cashing in at £26 which I think is incredible for 10 products, especially when I bought some just to try out meaning you could easily get a face full of essentials for around £15.


I love the packaging of all of the products, the touches of rose gold and geometric shapes add a touch of class to these products, the foundation, primer and illuminator feel a lot more expensive than they are.
The eyeshadow range is incredibly well thought out in terms of colour combos, I obviously went for a classic look in the shade ‘red carpet glam’ and the range of matte, sparkle and glitter work well together, they even give you a guide on the back of which order you use them in for optimum performance. It’s a handy travel size but does feel like the kind of product that would break fairly quickly in my makeup bag, and the brush you get with it isn’t one I’d ever use.
The lip colour ranges are incredibly basic (maybe this is just in the store i was in) but saying that, they’re safe bets and my everyday colours, don’t expect any NYX or Jeffree dupes here though.
They had different types of primers for different skin, and the same goes for mascara including lengthening, waterproof and volumising. I love that they’re giving options here as everyone is different, in fact that’s the reason I bought both a baked and liquid illuminator as it’s never something I’ve found my personal favourite with so I felt it best to trial both for a fair shot.
Finally I love that the eyeliner is a twist one, honestly who keeps around eyeliner sharpeners I ALWAYS loose mine and even though this will blunt quicker for a dull edge I will only use a pencil liner and blend it anyway, I will leave sharp cat eyes to liquid eyeliner.

The only thing missing from this range is a good eyeshadow product. I can’t remember seeing anything other than a powder or pencil and I only use pomades myself so I glossed over that quick, but the option is there if that’s your preference!


Primer – This seems like a basic primer, at £3 it’s worth the price but not going to help fill in deep lines to smoothen out your foundation (as I unfortunately found out on my forehead), it did do great with pores though.
Foundation – A really blendable foundation in a range of shades, it’s light-medium coverage so doesn’t help me with my current ‘mascne’ situation I have going on but I think on a day to day basis it would be good, I didn’t get any sort of setting powder so used my daily one for this. The range also carries an ‘airbrushed skin tint’ but nothing for full coverage.
Concealer – I don’t love concealer that comes in twist pens that have a brush built in, I think its quite unhygienic as when you try to clean it it gets into the product. The concealer itself seems to do a great job though. The range do a £1.50 general concealer and I was only drawn to this for the ‘under-eye’ element but I’d be interested to try the other one out to see if there’s any difference or they’re just upping the price for the thought of fixing an area most people are conscious of.

Eyeshadow – One thing I didn’t pick up was an eyeshadow primer so used my day to day revolution one as an eye primer is a must, I thought the palette was missing the base colour but when applied the bottom right it worked wonders. The colours don’t hold a tonne of saturation but they are really buildable so work eventually. The glitter shade is incredibly faint so I opted for the mid-right instead for a glittery finish as the one directly next to it didn’t apply as well. I chose a smaller travel-sized palette as I honestly have too many already but they do bigger palettes, for the price though I’d probably choose Revolution over this just because it’s a bit more saturated and has more of a colour range.

Mascara – I was very impressed with this mascara, it isn’t heavy or gloopy and does a great job of separating the lashes that really helps with the lengthening look, it’s also really easy to get off! This one was a shock to me as the brush is so thin but it really does work and I got a lot of compliments.
Liner – I skipped over this one, I tried to apply it but it wouldn’t apply over my eyeshadow and I felt like it would ruin the look. I think the eye look would be better with false lashes and in that instant I’d be all over the liner but wasn’t feeling it for today.
Illuminator – The liquid one is so incredibly easy to blend and has a nice, even colour, for this whole look I chose the baked one purely as I’m going to work after and feel this is a more subtle choice but for a night out the liquid one would be my first choice, they’re both great and well worth the money!
Lips – The liquid lip was so buttery soft whilst applying, it dries down to a really nice matte lip without feeling too drying on the lips. The colour is a staple for me so I couldn’t say anything bad even if I wanted to! The lip plumping gloss is also great, it has a really nice scent to it and isn’t an instant lift but over time so it’s not a shock to you like some lip plumper you put on that are quite stingy, its a pleasant experience. I don’t think anything will top two faced lip plumper but this is a great cheap daily alternative.


After a 12 hour night shift I’ve got to say my eyes look just as fresh as the moment after I first did them! The addition of the primer definitely helped with that, the foundation was well worn though but with constantly wearing a mask it’s what I expected.

Overall I love this brand! Some products will definitely stay as daily staples for me and I’m excited to see where else they go, it’s great that we are getting more vegan and cruelty free brands. This brand is definitely geared towards nude/neutral looks but that’s my daily style anyway so I’m loving it. The mascara, baked illuminator and both lip products will be sticking with me. The eyeshadow is good, I recieved so many compliments when I got to work about my eye look! I have so many eye palettes though and it’s my favourite thing to experiment with so I don’t think I will ever exclusively use one brand. The primer, foundation and concealer do a good job on smooth skin but at the moment that’s not me, I think they’ll work wonders for me in Summer but in the current climate my skin needs a bit more investment. I’d love to see a full coverage foundation from this brand, I think that’s really what is missing from ‘drugstore’ cruelty-free and vegan beauty brands right now!

Have you heard of Body Collection England?
Will you be purchasing from them in the future?
Let me know in the comments below!