Cruelty free household cleaners.

Having a baby around the house means you will probably want to keep the place clean so your tiny human does not get messy and dirty and contract diseases. Okay, that might be a bit farfetched but obviously you will want to clean up after cooking in the kitchen and keep mould at bay in the bathroom. Thankfully there are a lot of ‘natural’ eco-friendly brands appearing in supermarkets and you can easily get hold of a cruelty free brand at any price point.

Astonish – their whole range is 100% cruelty free and vegan, with both the Cruelty Free International leaping bunny and the Vegan Society logos on their products. Their prices are super wallet friendly and you can find them in places such as Home Bargains, B&M, The Range, Wilko, as well as Asda, Morrisons, and Booths and many more retailers.

Ecover – has been around a while and is the first eco brand I heard of. They have the leaping bunny on their products and they source their (mostly plant based) ingredients ethically and their packaging is recyclable. Their range is easily accessible in Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Morrisons. In some independent stores you may even be able to find their refillable products.

Method – is a US brand that has recently been acquired by Ecover and can be found in Waitrose, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s. Their packaging is bright and simple and their products smell lovely! They also operate a refill system for some products (laundry liquid, liquid hand wash and washing up liquid) which saves on packaging.

Seventh Generation – sell their products in packaging which is 100% recyclable or biodegradable which is great for the environment. Their website says they are taking a break from selling in the UK but you may be able to find them in Tesco, who stock them exclusively.

Kinn – a brand that is exclusive to Waitrose and one I have not tried yet but their chic packaging is really drawing me in. Their products are eco friendly and formulas are based on aromatherapy and stemmed from wanting non-toxic products to use on babies. Kinn also have a range of skincare products.

Faith In Nature – has a great ethos. As well as being vegan and cruelty free and avoiding ingredients such as parabens, SLES, fragrances, phthalates etc. they also ensure their ingredients are sourced ethically.

Earth Friendly Products – is found in smaller independent stores and also Holland & Barrett. Use their store locator on the website to find your nearest stockist. It is amazing that they are a carbon neutral company throughout the whole product life cycle. Their products are friendly to humans and to the earth.

Have you made the switch to eco friendly cleaners? Do you want to switch to more natural cleaners since having a baby?

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Cruelty free eyeshadow singles.

Eyeshadow palettes can be a thing of beauty. There is a new palette released almost everyday from drugstore to highend to luxury and they might be neutrals or a mix warm tones or all shimmers and have some beautiful shades in them, but would you use ALL the pans? It is hard to love every single shade in an eyeshadow palette so that is why some people choose to create their own palette using single pan eyeshadows. Depending on how many pans you buy it might be more expensive this way but it also means you end up liking every shade and thus use every colour and none will go to waste! Plus curating your own palette can give you such a smug feeling when you finally find your perfect combination of colours.

First up is Makeup Geek. You can purchase from the US website or find them on Beauty Bay. The eyeshadow formula of these singles is excellent, especially at the £4.95 price point. Marlena has avoided adding parabens in her products and most of them are also talc-free. There are even some vegan eyeshadows. If Wayne Goss mentions Makeup Geek in his yearly favourites video then you know they have to be good.

The eyeshadow singles from Anastasia Beverly Hills are pricey but they really are buttery soft and blend perfectly. Normally they are £12 per pan, but you can get four for £30 + free pan holder or eight for £50 + free pan holder. Sometimes they have 50% flash sales so keep an eye out for those. The ABH eyeshadows do not contain talc but be aware they have a short expiry once open (6 months).

Nabla eyeshadow pans are bigger than MUG or ABH and start at £5.75. They are an Italian brand and are available from Beauty Bay but if you order from their EU website, you get a free magnetic palette when buying six or twelve pans. I have not tried these but I am really curious as all the swatches I have seen look stunning.

If you like your eyeshadows bold and bright then Juvia’s Place is the brand for you. I have not tried this brand either but I think their pans are also on the bigger side of the spectrum. The pans are £6 and can also be purchased from Beauty Bay (this is starting to look like a giant BB ad).

Coloured Raine also has some colourful eyeshadow singles as well as a lot of more neutral-warm toned shades. I have heard they have a great formula and these can also be ordered off Beauty Bay or ASOS. The pans start at £4. I have only tried their liquid lipsticks. At first I found them drying but now I quite enjoy the formula.

From the people who brought you Makeup Revolution comes Freedom. It is their pro line and they have a range of eye shadow singles. Superdrug sell Freedom online but I haven’t seen them instore. I imagine the formula is similar to the shadows in the Makeup Revolution palettes, so that means you get pigmented shadows at a great price point. The magnetic palette I store my singles in is by Freedom.

Superdrug have also recently started stocking Bleach London products. They are originally a hair salon but have begun to produce cosmetics. Their makeup comes in magnetic pans and many of their eyeshadow colours are based on the brightly coloured hair dyes they use, so this is a great brand for anyone who loves rainbow colours. Pans are only £3 so you can build your collection fairly cheaply. All their products are vegan!

Another brand that is easy to get hold of in a store is Nyx and you can find them at Boots or Debenhams. You will not be able to swatch the pans as they are sealed in little packets so have a look online for swatches. Quality varies between colours but the pans start as low as £2.50 and come in a variety of finishes.

Another well priced brand is Essence and they are found at Wilko. Their range is called ‘my must haves’ and you can pop them into one of their four pan palettes. Although they are not the best quality, you cannot complain about the £1.50 price point.

Are there any brands of eyeshadow singles that you love? Do you enjoy creating your own palette or would you rather just buy a premade one? What colours would you have in your dream palette?

Review of Close Pop-in reusable nappy.

You may have heard of Close as they make baby carriers as well as cloth nappies. In fact we used the Close Caboo carrier with Emery for eight months until he got a bit too heavy for my poor shoulders. Emery enjoyed being close and snug in that sling but that’s a review for another day!

The Pop-in nappy is on its second version “gen V2” and comes with super absorbent bamboo or quick drying minkee fabric, so you trade longer wear for slower drying times. The prints on the Close nappies may not appeal to all. I don’t want to say “abstract” or “macabre” as those words are too extreme but I quite like the darker prints they do.

The Pop-in is an “all in two” style of nappy so the nappy insert and booster are clipped in. The poppers are cleverly colour coordinated so you won’t put them on back to front.

The nappy is secured at the waist using Velcro tabs so the fit can be adjusted perfectly to suit all babies. Initially I didn’t think there were any fold back tabs for the Velcro to prevent the nappy sticking to things in the washing machine but on the second wear I noticed the tabs are supposed to be tucked into the nappy which is a nice touch.

Pop-in is a birth to potty nappy and the front of the nappy has rows of poppers to alter the length of the nappy as baby grows. Close also do a newborn size nappy for smaller babies.

When I first received the Pop-in nappy I didn’t think it would fit Emery as it looks quite small compared to all the other nappies I have tried but it was surprisingly roomy when I came to put it on him. This also means it is a slimmer looking nappy therefore you probably will not struggle to get clothes to fit over the nappy. In fact, after using the Pop-in I felt like other brands were too baggy. I also liked being able to tuck the liner into the flap but that is not a reason to buy the Pop-in.

Drying time on these bad boys is reasonable. You can detach the insert and booster to create a bigger drying area. The boosters are not too thick so they dry fairly quickly but they soak up adequate amounts of urine.

The Pop-in retails for £18.95 but you may be able to find deals online. You can also buy them in a starter pack which will save you some money. I do find that “all in twos” seem to cost more but I think the Pop-in may be my favourite cloth nappy so far!

Have you ever tried the Close Pop-in nappy? Do you prefer the bamboo or the minkee? What are your thoughts on their prints?

How to save money when you have a baby.

We all know babies are expensive to raise. As much as we love them and want to buy that fancy £1000 pushchair, it might not be sensible if it pushes you into the red. Also, would your baby know the difference between a £250 pram and a £1000 pram? More importantly, you need to make sure you can pay those bills and put food on the table. If you can afford it, then buy whatever you want and as much as you want for your baby but not everyone is lucky enough to. Here’s a few things I did and some I thought about that may help you out. Not saying you need to do them all if something doesn’t suit you but might give you a few ideas.

Breastfeed – I know this isn’t possible for everyone but over time breastfeeding saves so much money compared to buying formula. If you pump, then you will also need to buy bottles, steriliser etc. but you do save a lot of time breastfeeding as you do not have to prepare any bottles, you can just whip out your boob and that is GREAT during those sleepless nights. Furthermore, when you go out, your bag will also be much lighter without all the bottles.

Don’t buy too many baby clothes – as cute as some baby clothes are, your baby does not need a huge wardrobe. With tactical washes you can make a small capsule wardrobe last all week. Secondly babies grow into the next size really quickly so there is no point buying a really expensive outfit unless they will get lots of wear out of it.

Buy baby clothes during sales – the best time to buy baby clothes that only last 3/6 months is during a sale! If I see something I like online, I will keep checking on it to see if the price drops before purchasing. If you have enough room, then you can also buy clothes to wear in the future. For example, in the boxing day sale you can buy a Christmas jumper in a bigger size for the following year. You can also try buying second hand clothes at baby sales, car boots, or charity shops. Some childrens’ centres also do clothes swaps. This tip also applies to toys, high chairs, books etc.

Exchange gifts you do not like – this sounds ungrateful but if you receive an outfit you don’t like then you are less likely to put your baby in it and it will be a waste of the purchaser’s money. They would want you to have something you like. Most stores are pretty good with exchanging baby gifts.

Buy items in neutral colours – you may be expecting a girl and want to buy everything in pink but what if you have a second baby and it’s a boy? It wouldn’t bother me if a boy sat in a pink car seat but others might not like that, therefore buy a shade like black or grey or brown and you can reuse it. Gender specific clothes are not so bad but big ticket items like a car seat or a pushchair can cost a lot so being able to reuse a gender neutral one for a second or third child definitely helps.

Use reusable nappies and/or wipes – the initial cost can be hefty but in the long run you can save a lot of money. You are also helping reduce waste! Washing can be a pain but once you get into the swing of it, you will know how many fresh nappies you need for the following day. Ask friends and family to put money towards the cloth nappies as some may be stuck for a gift.

Make your own baby food – when it comes to weaning then preparing your own food in batches and freezing it will definitely be cheaper than buying packaged baby food. It can be time consuming but it is worth it. Also have a look in the ‘whoops’ discounted section in supermarkets for food that will be expiring that day. As long as you can cook it that day (or freeze it immediately) then the food is fine for consumption.

Sell unwanted things online – if you are on maternity leave then it is a great time to sell items on eBay, Gumtree, Shpock etc as hopefully you have a bit more time to take photos and post listings. Once you get into the groove you won’t be able to stop. After years of saying I wanted a new dining table I eventually posted an ad online at the end of my maternity leave and used the money towards a new one. I also went to my mum’s house and sold things I had stored there for over eight years.

Do not buy things you don’t NEED – if you have one changing bag already, do you really need a second one (as beautiful as it may be)? For some people priorities also change after having a baby. For example previously you may not have thought twice about buying a new handbag but then you realise you would rather buy something for your baby instead.

Shop at discount stores and stick to your shopping list – you can get great things at pound stores these days but do not let yourself get sucked into the deals. Make a list of things you need to buy and try hard not to go crazy and fill your bags. You walk in planning to get a roll of bin bags and come out with two bags full of shopping.

Check if you are entitled to any benefits – check out Gov.uk to ensure you know your maternity/paternity rights, whether you can apply for tax credits, information on healthy start vouchers, locations of Sure Start centres, help with childcare, and more.

Be savvy with ‘little luxuries’ – it is still nice to be able to go for a meal with your partner or get your haircut but just keep an eye out for deals such as an early evening meal offer or 20% off cuts. Check places like Groupon or Wowcher for experiences and dining out. Also when you go out for the day, take your own home made lunch to eat or order water at a restaurant. Small things like that can make a big difference at the end of the day.

Do you have any tips on how to be savvy with money when you have a baby? Is there anything you wish you did or didn’t do?

Review of Treaclemoon bath and shower gel.

Treaclemoon is a brand managed by “blue orange”. They do a collection of bath & shower gels (pictured above), body scrubs (£3), hand cream (£2), shower mousse (£3), and body butters (£4) in a wide range of scents to suit all tastes, from ginger to watermelon.

You can find them in Tesco, Waitrose, or online. Bath gels come in at £3 for a generous 500ml but look out for offers at your local supermarket! I picked up a bunch of these as Christmas stocking fillers. They also have gift sets with mini sized products so you could try a few different ones before you commit.

Before purchasing I contacted the company to confirm their cruelty free status. The reply was quick and was told they (or a third party) do not test their products or ingredients on animals, nor do they sell in a country where animal testing is required by law. With regards to becoming certified with the “leaping bunny” logo they said:

“Our on pack bunny symbol is our own design and not that of the Leaping Bunny Organisation (BUAV). We have discussed possible accreditation with BUVA and are still considering it. However whilst our products comply without issue we do need to consider the lengthy and additional administrational requirements on both us as a small team and our supplier to satisfy.”

I understand their decision but hope they make steps towards certification in future as I know some cruelty free folk will only buy certified products.

Having only tried the bath and shower gel products I can say that I am satisfied with them and makes me interested in the scrubs and body butter as well and look forward to using those but I have other products to try out first.

The gels smell absolutely divine, especially the plum custard one which is a limited edition flavour. If lather is something you look for in a bath gel then this gives you sufficient bubbles. Honestly what else can I say about a shower gel? Give them a sniff next time you are in Tesco or Waitrose. I promise you won’t be able to walk away without one!

Do you ever want to eat your shower gels because they smell so good? Which of the scents pictured appeals to you the most?

Which style of reusable nappy is right for you?

So you’ve made the great decision of choosing reusable nappies on your precious baby and you go to research brands and the colour drains from your face because there are SO MANY options and you think you might just stick with the disposables that everyone knows about.

I know the feeling. There are so many types of nappies and they seem to run into each other. All in one? All in two? Pocket nappy? Sized? Organic? Bamboo or cotton? Which is cheapest? You can get an all in one organic bamboo one size nappy or an all in one sized microfibre nappy.

Whilst I am no expert hopefully this post will shed a little light and make the world of cloth nappies a little easier to navigate. Also note the terms “reusable”, “cloth”, and “real” are often interchanged.

Real nappies have these basic parts:

1. Waterproof outer, most often made of PUL (polyurethane laminate) but other materials also found. The outer usually has fun prints.

2. Inner absorbent “nappy” part, usually made from bamboo or cotton or microfibre. Mostly plain but some, such as Totsbots Bamboozle, may have prints.

3. Liner (optional), used to catch poo and may be flushable, disposable, or washed and reused. Fleece liners also help remove the feeling of wetness.

4. Booster/insert (optional). If you feel your nappy doesn’t provide enough containment you can add one or two (or more if you don’t mind a bulky bum?!) boosters for extra absorption. Can be made from bamboo, charcoal, hemp, cotton, or microfibre.

5. Velcro or poppers. Some nappies are made with Velcro tabs for an adaptable fit whilst some brands use poppers. It’s up to you which you prefer. Some “birth to potty” nappies have poppers to adjust the size from small to large but close at the waist with Velcro.

6. Wet bag (optional). You will need a wet bag if you plan to go out and about with cloth nappies. You’ll have to bring soiled nappies home so best to keep them in a special nappy bag! You could also use a wet bag at home instead of a nappy bucket to store used nappies until you wash them.

ALL IN ONE.
This is the easiest kind of nappy to use as it is just like a disposable. The inner absorbent nappy is sewn onto the waterproof outer and you put it on baby as you would a disposable. You can add a liner or booster if you wish. Since all the pieces are sewn together you may experience longer drying times.

Bambino Miosolo – prints
Tickle Tots – cute prints
Tots Bots Easyfit Star – plain or printed
Bum Genius elemental or freetime* – plain or printed
Grovia* – plain or printed
Sweet Pea all in one* – plain or printed

POCKET NAPPY.
Pocket nappies look similar to all-in-ones but there is an opening at the back on the inside half of the nappy. You can stuff boosters into this pocket to adjust the absorption level to your own requirements. These are quite user friendly as well and dry fairly fast as the boosters can come out.

Baba + Boo – plain or printed
Little Lamb – one size or sized
Milovia – lots of prints
Wonderoos – plain or printed
Bum Genius original* – plain or printed
Sweet Pea pocket* – plain or printed

ALL IN TWO.
The absorbent part of the nappy can be attached and detached from the waterproof layer using poppers. The absorbent pads can be made from different materials to suit your absorbency needs. Once boosters are attached the nappy is as simple to put on as a disposable. Drying times are fairly fast since you can separate the two parts. These can be cost effective as sometimes you can reuse the outer and just replace the pad at changing time if the outer is not soiled.

Bambino Miosoft – prints
Close Pop In nappy – prints
Tickle Tots
– cute prints
Tots Bots Peenut system – plain or printed
Bambooty Basics* – mostly plain colours

HYBRID.
This style is just like an all-in-two but the inserts are disposable so there is less washing to do.
Charlie Banana* – covers and reusable or disposable inserts
Flip by Bum Genius* – covers and various inserts
Grovia hybrid – covers and reuseable or disposable inserts

SHAPED NAPPIES.
This is a two part nappy. You need to buy a waterproof wrap as well as the actual absorbent nappy part. The nappy can be made from bamboo, cotton, or microfibre. Bamboo is most absorbent but takes a long time to dry. Microfibre is least absorbent but dries quickest. Cotton sits in the middle but can feel crunchy in hard water areas.

Bambinex – bamboo or microfibre
Little Lamb – available in various materials
Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch – bamboo material in different prints

PREFOLD.
These are similar to Terry squares used by your grandmother. They are squares of material that are pinned together. You will require a waterproof wrap to go over the top. They are the cheapest cloth nappy option and dry easily but from what I have heard, are also the trickiest. I have never used prefolds so cannot really comment.

SIZED VS ONE SIZE/BIRTH TO POTTY.
Just like they sound, sized nappies come in sizes for example 7-18lbs or 18-35lbs. One size or ‘birth to potty’ nappies come in one size and tend to have poppers to change the sizing. Sized nappies cost more as you will need to buy a new set of nappies when baby gets bigger but this can be useful if you have two young children close in age. One size nappies should last throughout the whole nappy period but some nappies may not fit well on younger babies and you may need to use disposables until baby is bigger. You can get sized and one size nappies as shaped, pocket, all in one, or all in two styles (ie nappy size then nappy type).

Baba + Boo – pocket nappy for 5-18lb
Close Pop-in newborn – 5-12lb
Tots Bots Teenyfit Star – all in one for 5-12lb

I hope this blog post has made things a bit clearer for you! Any links to brands are not sponsored or affiliated. I have tried to include mostly UK or EU based brands. Any links with an asterisk * are brands based outside UK/EU.

What is your favourite type of reusable nappy? Do you have a few different ones in your stash? If you have never used them has this post helped at all?

Cruelty free skincare in the UK.

Becoming cruelty free may be one of your new year resolutions. If so, good luck and feel free to message me for advice on cruelty free shopping and I’ll do my best to help. One of the things I found tougher to buy (cruelty free cosmetics was easy peasy) was facial skincare. After doing some research I’m pretty happy with the options out there. There are LOTS.

If you want to pick something easily from the high street then have a look in Lush, Marks & Spencer, or Superdrug. Their own brand skincare is all cruelty free. M&S has a lot of different ranges aimed at various skin types. Lush always has a smiley salesperson who is willing to help you out.

The brands listed below are not sponsored or affliated. I have not used them all so cannot comment on every single one. I will mention stockists but obviously you can buy them online. Most (if not all) have the Cruelty Free International ‘leaping bunny‘ logo on their products and they avoid using ingredients such as parabens, pthalates, SLS etc so there’s no need to worry about nasties.

A’kin – Australian brand where all the products are 100% vegan and cruelty free. They don’t use any ‘nasty’ ingredients and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. Find them at Holland and Barrett, Superdrug, Waitrose.

Balanceme – tried a sample of one of their cleansers in a Birchbox which I enjoyed. The price range is mid to high and you can find them in Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose. Join their mailing list to receive promotional offers.

Bee Good – UK brand that aims to source all their ingredients from home soil. Power to the British bees! I have only seem them in Waitrose.

Bryt – products with fun packaging and also do a range for men. I have only seen them in Waitrose but have read good things online.

Bulldog Skincare – British mens skincare brand that you can find easily everywhere! Prices are low and products are suitable for vegans. Check them out at Boots, Tesco, Superdrug, Asda.

Burt’s Bees – US brand that has been around for ages and their lip balms and salves are great. Can find them in lots of stores; M&S, Debenhams, Boots, Holland and Barrett, Superdrug, John Lewis. Note that their parent company (Clorox) is not cruelty free.

Dermalogica – higher end brand that is found at Selfridges, John Lewis and Harvey Nichols. As well as being recognised by CIF and PETA, they also source palm oil in a way that does not affect local wildlife.

Liz Earle – their hot cloth cleanser has won so many awards and you know it’s good when Aldi does a copycat version of your product! Prices start fairly low. Shop this brand at Boots or John Lewis.

Man Cave – obviously a brand that is aimed at the less fair sex. British company where ingredients are sourced on the isles. Pick them up at Boots or Waitrose.

Neal’s Yard Remedies – aromatherapy specialists with a great range of skincare too. They have their own stores in bigger towns and cities but are also found in John Lewis and Marks and Spencer.

Nourish – not only are all their products cruelty free, they are also organic, ethically sourced, and vegan! The range is produced by a scientist so it’s got lots of research and knowledge behind it. I have only seen them at Waitrose.

Pixi – UK brand by a makeup artist. They do cosmetics as well as skincare products. Cute chic brand that you can find in M&S or Liberty of London. They are available on ASOS and you may be able to get a discount sometimes.

Urban Veda – holistic company where all products are vegan and also certified by the Vegetarian Society. Packaging is recyclable! Find them at Waitrose or Holland and Barrett.

There are sooo many options for cruelty free skincare and you don’t have to comprise on the ingredients or price either! After doing this research I can’t wait to go shopping for my new facial cleanser but I think I have made it too hard for myself now as there are so many choices in front of me.

Have you got any cruelty free skincare product recommendations? What are your favourite cruelty free brands?