Shopping small – Discover some of my favourite brands *Jewellery Edition *

2021 was the year of sustainability and shopping small for me. Discovering handcrafted items instead of mass-produced mania that would be out of style in a month. It may be a little more expensive initially but if you know what to look for it will last far far longer! I actually wrote a post on christmas gift ideas from small brands in 2020 which sparked off my love for supporting independent creators dreams.

I’ve learnt a lot about jewellery in recent years and even though last year I started focusing more on shopping sustainably for clothing I very much ended the year only buying jewellery that would last, both in quality (sterling silver) and from small vendors.

Lil Danglers

I discovered Lil Danglers on Instagram and for the longest time admired from afar. My best friends 30th birthday came around and I knew the mermaid cat necklace would steal her heart, the only problem was I wanted one too. Now this isn’t the kind of piece I would usually wear, I would buy this kind of piece ornamentally but I felt that would be a bit of a waste so I decided to jump right in and buy both Sarah and myself matching necklaces despite it not being my intention for us to get matching jewellery! I also picked up a beautiful juxtaposition of cute and retro in star shaped earrings with acrylic lightning bolts. I wanted to support a brand I absolutely love in style but also wanted to branch out in my style slightly – so if there are any recommendations on what to wear the necklace with please do shout out!

Daffodils and dangles

Becoming a brand rep for Daffodils and Dangles was honestly a highlight of 2021! I spoke briefly about it in my recap because it’s so much more than getting a product and promoting it. I’ve become part of an amazing and influential group of girls who get the insight on new lines, have our own little market research conversations about the next release and do get the added benefit of trialing some earrings. I chose the candy cane hearts from Meg’s Christmas line as I was trying to move into more sustainable accessories and thought this would work all year round as well. I’m most impressed though by the hoop daisy’s! Oh my god I’m honestly in love with them! On paper they’re not ‘my style’ but I’ve not stopped wearing them all weekend and this proves you should always try new things because you’ll never know what you’ll fall in love with! They’re perfect spring/summer vibes and the hoop is not too heavy which I do have issues with on larger pieces and usually have to take my left hoop out, also the way they secure means I can be confident they’re secure all day unlike a lot of hoops I wear.(I had my left ear stretched as a teen- only to 6/8mm so not even big – but it never went back properly so lots of earrings hang very loose that side and tend to fall out a lot if it’s not a super secure fastening).

Wearing the candy cane hearts from the Christmas collection

I’m so excited to see this brand grow this year and I can tell you that her Valentines line is not one to miss. If any of you would like to purchase from Daffodils and Dangles you can use the code ohsoviki10 for 10% of all purchases on her Etsy!

Sour Cherry

Sour Cherry is more of a daily wear for me, stainless steel or sterling silver pieces in a variety of overlays but no base metal in sight and at it’s core long-lasting, wearable collections. It’s incredibly easy to pair with a variety of outfits from casual shop trips, 12 hour shifts or a night out.

I have to say I went a bit mad in the January sale – something which I had done so well with up until here! This hand on heart was a company I’d watched progress from a tiny little start up in Sheffield and I just love their designs and want people to ask ‘ooh what are you wearing’ so I can promote the hell out of them – they deserve it. Plus it’s not often you get matching sets in the sale so when I saw matching earrings and necklaces I had to have them – I have really been co-ordinating lately I think it ties together a whole outfit and frankly I’ve spent all my life just slapping things together that I individually like with no cohesion.

What are some of your favourite independant brands?
Would you like to see more posts in different fields of this?
Let me know in the comments below

Veganuary new releases – Takeout Taste Test

It’s the time of the year major chains release new items and despite me often just thinking they’re doing it for the publicity I will never turn down trying out some new vegan treats! Some long-lasting favourites such as Subway’s meatless meatball marinara and Greggs Vegan roll have found their fame from this month, so I’ve decided to trial this month’s offerings and boy do I think we have some winners!

McPlant – McDonald’s.

McDonalds first fully vegan burger! The McPlant released Nationwide for Veganuary.

The McPlant was released structurally over the country last year but despite living around some major cities and working in London I never had chance to try it until it’s nationwide release this January! Before purchasing I decided to order it as is with no adjustments, after all they’re the coinnesseurs in fast-food burgers (if you can call it that) and I wanted to try it as they intended. Usually I would’ve ordered with no onions, no mustard and no pickles, but I’m glad I didn’t! Despite the thick white uncooked onions being overpowering the mustard and pickle actually worked well and opened me up to trying it in future with this combo and just eliminating the onions entirely.

The actual burger itself is a bit thinner than I’d like and from other social posts I think that’s the general consensus for it too but it is nice and a gives a change to their veggie stick burgers. I’d love to see them tweak the recipe and make it available in wraps too! It’s good for a quick bite, if you’re travelling or it’s late at night and you need a snack. I think it’s also good, despite McDonalds being predominently meat suppliers that they’re offering this for people as I know meat eaters who have opted for it when they want something less dense or bloating and every little helps right!

The only thing I will say is, if you’re going to get it, eat it straight away, don’t take it home, don’t uber eats it, it’s awful cold and an absolute waste. Had I had the uber one first I would not have given it a second go, but i’m glad I did!

Krispy Kreme

Three new signature flavours to go alongside the vegan original glazed donut Krispy Kreme released prior.

Krispy Kreme released not one, not two but THREE vegan donuts nationwide this month alongside their classic vegan original glazed donut and even better they’re not short on stock! These have been out for a while on trials like the McPlant and I know some vegans who travelled 100 mile round trip to taste them, now I see them in Tesco’s big and small!

All three new vegan donuts from Krispy Kreme released nationwide.

My favourite Krispy Kreme was always the plain one with raspberry jam, although they have some lovely combos they’re quite sickly sweet so I often chose plain but that does not stop me devouring non-stop sweetness once in a while! The new releases offer a good variety and some excellent combinations of Fudge Brownie Bliss, Caramel Choc Delight and Apple Custard Crumble have been released. They have the authentic airy Krispy Kreme taste and really are on par with their regular donuts. I’d love to see them expand on this as most vegan options in donuts are drier and denser but Krispy Kreme nailed their variations!

Surprise sensation – the last of the pack was the surprise winner!

Burger King Nuggs

Burger King’s vegan royale is hands down my favourite fast food vegan burger, its juicy and I prefer ‘chicken’ over ‘beef’ so it has everything going for it in my book! They released some Nuggets as a new meal this year which is great if you don’t want something so dense with the bread.

Burger King is definitely too expensive for what it is so this isn’t something I’ll have often, frankly I could go to a restaurant for a couple quid more for a gourmet vegan burger and a better experience than eating in my car but it is good on the go!

I’m still wondering if they will fully veganise their ‘plant based whopper’ as despite it being plant based it’s cooked the same way as their normal whopper to give you the same authenticity but to me that defeats the purpose.

Dominos PepperoNAY

You’d think one of the largest Pizza chains championing Vegan options for years now would’ve released the classic and fan favourite Pepperoni Pizza replacement many moons ago but somehow it is a 2022 launch in collaboration with The Vegetarian Butcher. I’ve never really been a fan of pepperoni, before being vegetarian it was too spicy for me as a kid, then when I developed a taste for spice there were never really options for vegans/vegetarians until recently. I have tried the pizza hut version but pepperoNAY tends to be thin and you don’t fully feel like you’re satisfying the craving as much as say jalapeno.

We all know my favourite pizza is Jalapeno and Pineapple so I decided to get this pizza half and half, one half fully as recommended and one tailored for me – unfortunately Domino’s is temporarily not delivering to my village due to a road closure so I had to go for Caprino’s vegan pizza which was actually a fantastic replacement! I’ll definitely by trying the Domino’s Pepperonay before the end of the month but considering my disappointment in not being able to try it so far I found a my pizza cravings satisfied regardless.

White Rabbit Calzone – Honorary Mention

If anyone follows me on instagram you will see me constantly complaining about no Vegan calzone options in takeaways or asking for restaurant recommendations. I think when you don’t have something for a while you end up craving it more and more and that’s exactly what’s happened here. So although this is not a takeout I just want to mention it

Subway blew up among vegans last year when they released their meatless meatball marinara and they haven’t stopped there! They recently released their T.L.C Tastes like chicken Tikka and T.L.S Tastes like steak but unfortunately they’re only due to be on the menu till mid-feb and aren’t available nationwide instead stores will tend to have one or the other with T.L.S (the more recent release) being more available in the South. These options kind of feel more like a marketing ploy instead of genuinely caring or giving them a shot to succeed in the wider branches, but saying that the Meatless meatball marinara has stuck around so subway just need a reason for them to stay! It is good to see the cookie option too though so you really can make a meal out of it – kudos to subway there!

Going forward bringing in facon and being a bit more aware of cross contamination would see subway as a regular stop for me!

Coffee shops – Nero, Starbucks and Costa

Quick mention as although they’re nice they are quite expensive so I won’t be trying these yet.

Caffè Nero made in collaboration with plant-based meat company THIS™ menu includes plant-based chicken arrabbiata panini and a sausage ciabatta. Alongside Vegan croissant

Costa boast one of my favourites which is Vegan Macaroni Cheeze. They also advertise the Vegan BBQ Chick’n Panini but I have 100% had this before and although it’s lovely is not a new release and BOSH! ™ Chocolate & Pecan Slice. Their collabs with BOSH are historically lovely, this one I will skip purely as I don’t like Pecan’s but I’ve no doubt if you like chocolate and pecan you’ll love this

Did I miss your favourite Veganuary treat?

What are you most looking forward to trying first?

Let me know in the comments below
and stay tuned for Veganuary supermarket releases next!

How 2021 changed me – Doing more in a pandemic than the other 8 years of my 20’s

It’s been a long year boys and girls, with plenty ready to turn a new leaf at the stroke of midnight on the 31st December, making resolutions and expecting exponential changes to suddenly occur on January 1st and although I don’t believe things change overnight, they do change with time.

2021 was a pivotal year for me. A year where I really settled into my life (it only took me 29 years!) It started off as a regular year but then somehow I found myself working my dream job in media for the Tokyo Olympics, creating content on TikTok to a whopping 20k followers, exploring my creative spark writing a novel, ticking off a lot of fun adventures securing a promotion and becoming financially educated and secure.

But somehow something changed. I was growing rapidly and happily creating content everyday. My work/life balance was better than it had ever been, I was going out regularly to events I love and able to do so much, but then the inevitable pressure came. I was going home and immediately climbing in bed, I would not spend time in any room other than my bedroom which became cluttered and cluttered life leads to a cluttered head. My anxiety to open up my blog or TikTok became overwhelming, a day of not posting turned into a week, turned into a month. I had people not just asking but actively wanting more content and that’s what I always dreamed to achieve. I didn’t find it hard to create, ideas were flowing but I found it hard to just open up anything for fear of the unknown after time.

People said ‘just do it’ but it’s never that easy, I’ve never been one for ‘new year new me’ so it is not the fact we’re entering a new year now that is making me focus, its that even outside of posting people have been interested and seen my potential. I was approved to be a brand rep for the beautiful Daffodils and Dangles and even briefly chatting to the other brand reps made me fall in love again with why I do this.

So i’m back, raring to go and so excited for not just where 2022 will take me but to release all my adventures from the back end of 2021 that I never got round to posting yet carried on documenting anyway because I hoped one day to be the motivation to someone else that I so desperately needed.

Life isn’t perfect, nor are any of us, so don’t put pressure on yourself to be, if you need time off take it, you’ll naturally always be drawn back to those things that you love and that’s what is important.

Becoming a brand ambassador for jewellery, watching my best friend get married, working at the Olympics, exploring my new home. Just some of the highlights of 2021.

How 2021 developed me.

I worked my dream job at the Olympics. I got promoted to a broadcast engineer. I direct consistently for the UK’s only live beauty channel fusing my personal and professional passions. I stepped in front of the camera and presented a live tv show. I got my finances in order and made great progress with not only saving but splitting savings into different pots and making my money work for me (happy to do a post on this). I became a brand rep. I did more in the last year (in a pandemic) than I did for 5 years of my mid twenties – Life really does start at 30 for me.

… and for the less glamorous but nevertheless needed developments.

Just some of my Vegan adventures from the year

I had a few vegan (and even vegetarian) mistakes, but something that would’ve made me cry or lash out a few years ago I just shrugged off as none of them were intentional and I realised that’s what matters. I feel incredibly lucky at the amount of Vegan options available now and got to try so many new things in 2021, but 2022 is the year to focus on vegan and cruelty free as more than food and beauty but home products such as washing liquid which can often contain animal fats!

I learnt that anxiety and depression can hit you even when everything’s going right, and people will shrug it off this time and tell you to ‘sort it out’ a lot more as there’s no visible reason. It will hurt, it can make you feel a thousand times worse, like you’re broken or wrong but you aren’t.

Goals (not resolutions) for 2022

It is important for me to set some goals for the year instead of resolutions. Resolutions by the name are resolute, they are that or nothing, which I think already starts with a negative vibe. If you fail once you feel like a failure, whereas if you set goals you only measure your progress instead of a pass/fail type system. So a few of my goals are things like recycle more and stop impulse buying but instead focus more on saving (I did really well at the end of the year with my extreme budget series on TikTok so it won’t be a shock to the system) Also I will try to be more sustainable with fashion, jewellery and beauty.

These may seem a bit overwhelming all at once so I have started by picking a couple of things I can actively work on and develop from there:

Sustainable swap #1 – cat food. You cannot deny the price and convenience of individual sachets but the single waste packs are such a waste so i’m moving to tins and just bulk buying.

Sustainable swap #2 – disposable cups. I’m a nightmare at work for being a coffee fiend but I have a terrible habit of single use cups and although the paper cups get recycled the plastic lids probably don’t so keeping a flask and water bottle at work is a big but simple change for me

So there it is…

2021 was nothing like I expected. I just wanted normality, I didn’t want big, unachievable changes. I wanted to go out and do things, I wanted to be able to buy things for me without worry. I wanted to make myself happy. Although there were some down points, and a sense of sheer overwhelming to carry on with content creation that I love so dearly, overall within myself, 2021 was my year of development. I’m not fixed, but i’m not broken, and if i’m making the right decisions along the way that’s all that counts.

Hello 2022. Nice to meet you.

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!