A Message on World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day and in light of that, I thought it would be the perfect time to talk about my own experiences with mental health.

I’ve talked about it briefly in different blog posts before, but I wanted to make this post solely about mental health, and not about physical health too. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Blog: Generalised Anxiety Disorder & How Therapy Helped Me

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression.

It’s something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager, even though at the time I didn’t realise it. Looking back at different periods of my life, I know my depression and anxiety was prevalent throughout, now I’m more aware of the symptoms and how they affect me.

I only really started seeking professional help for my mental health when I was 23, not long after I was diagnosed with a physical illness. But I suffered through poor mental health bouts long before that. It saddens me that mental health isn’t taken as seriously as physical health. If you feel physically unwell, you can see a GP usually within a week. If the GP cannot deal with it, they’ll refer you to a hospital or specialist and get seen within a few weeks.

Blog: Living with Anxiety & Illness

If you have poor mental health, most GP’s are not trained in it, and often dismiss it. That was certainly my experience for a while. Until I was eventually seen by a very empathetic GP who was brilliant, gave me antidepressants and referred me for therapy.

Now, to see a mental health specialist for therapy or counselling can be hit and miss. It’s an amazing step in the right direction that you can now get talking therapies for free on the NHS. However, the wait times are so long because it’s still very underfunded. The wait time can be 16 weeks, and in my case, it was 6 months before I saw someone. I only had 9 weeks of therapy, which is more than most I know. I felt like I could have gained so much more from a more in-depth course of therapy. 

As someone who struggles on and off with depression, I may not be depressed in 6 months. I certainly feel like therapy should be available when you need it. There needs to be more funding into mental health provisions, so people get the help they need; when they need it.

Mental health is just as important as physical health.

On that note, I have a message to everyone reading this:

Be kind to others, you never know what they might be struggling with. Often depression and anxiety etc, go unseen as it’s easier to say “I’m fine” and show a brave face.
More people have poor mental health than you realise. I know I’ve struggled in the past, been on different medications and had talking therapies. I’m back on the referral waiting list right now for therapy for depression - no one is immune to poor mental health.
Reach out to family, friends or a professional if youre struggling, you are not alone.
If you notice someone is quieter, not themselves or distanced away from your usual group. Reach out to them. Be a listening ear. Support them.
Here are some important helplines if you need to talk:
Samaritans: 116 123
Mind: 0300 123 3393
CALM: 0800 585858 (for men)
Childline: 0800 1111 (for under 19s)
The Silver Line: 0800 4708090 (for the elderly)

If you are in a crisis and you are in danger call 999.

September Favourites 2018

Is it just me, or it this year just flying by? I'm worried if I blink, I'll open my eyes and I'll be a Grandma! September was a busy month for me, but I still enjoyed quite a few beauty products as well as YouTube and Netflix!

My first favourite this month is the Madam Glam Nail Powders. Nail powders are a brilliant way to amp up your gel nails and make them look stunning. Madam Glam is also a brand that is cruelty-free, vegan-friendly and 5-free; meaning they're free from formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin and camphor... so they're non-toxic! I know that seems like a mouthful, but being a beautician; finding a salon-quality gel nail brand is hard to come by, so I'm super pleased I found them! 

I've also been putting more effort into my skincare routine, and I've been using the Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Tonic. It's 5% Glycolic Acid, which is a great Alpha Hydroxy Acid that really helps improve your skin texture, scarring, fine lines and exfoliates. It's low strength, so you can you it's daily and I've found it works pretty well. If you'd like to know more about exfoliators and AHA's I have a blog post all about them, and how to choose the right one for your skin type.

Exfoliators: Why, What and How?!

As we moved into Autumn, I started wearing darker, Autumnal lipsticks. I've been loving this Nyx Lip Lingerie liquid lipstick in the shade Exotic. It's a perfect deeper red, that almost looks like a more tinted red lip, perfect for the transition between seasons. It's long lasting, and non-drying too, just what I look for in a good liquid lipstick.

I may have accidentally waxed off a chunk of my eyebrow while testing out my new wax pot, late at night when it was quite dark... Yep, very typical of me. I'm brilliant with other peoples eyebrows but mess up my own! So, as a result, I've been attempting to grow my eyebrows back. I had heard good things about using castor oil for hair growth, and I've been using this Etrong Organic, Cold Pressed Castor Oil. I have to say, after a month or so of using it, I've definitely noticed a difference. It's become part of my evening routine now, and I'll certainly be keeping it up.

My only clothing favourite this month is this jumper from Primark, that has cute Harry Potter characters on it! It's adorable, comfortable and easy to throw on with a pair of leggings. I've been wearing it several times a week, I love it that much!

This month, Eric and I binge watched Netflix and one of my favourite series we got through was Disenchantment. It's by the same people who did The Simpsons and Futurama, and it's very noticeable. I do find it far funnier though, with more crude humour, which is what I love about it. If you fancy a good laugh, give this series a try!

Aaaaaand for my last favourite, but certainly not least. It has to be Shane Dawson and his docu-series on YouTube. Most recently his series on The Mind of Jake Paul, but I've also loved The Secret Life of Jeffree Star and The Truth About Tanacon. Shane is KILLING it with content on YouTube lately and I'm obsessed. He not only builds tension and anticipation for his videos, which no one else has been able to do with YouTube, but he has EVERYONE talking about it. I'm glad Shane is getting the attention and love he deserves, and I can't wait for the rest of his series on Jake Paul in October.

I'm excited for the rest of the year, October to December are my favourite months when it comes to activities and things to do (not so much the weather, yuk). There's Halloween, pumpkin carving, bonfire night, Christmas lights, and all sorts! Here's to a fun-filled end of 2018!

Exfoliators: why, what and how?!

Why do we exfoliate?

Exfoliation, lots of people do it, but do we really know why, and how to get the best results out of it? First, let’s talk about why we should exfoliate our skin in general. Over several weeks, the lower part of our skin moves up towards the surface. As the skin cells move up, they start to break down, and by the time they’ve reached the surface, they’re dead. So, our top layer of skin is full of dead skin cells. They do shed naturally, but exfoliating helps to speed up this process and leaves your skin fresh and clean. Removing these dead skin cells improves the texture of your skin, as well as increasing cell rejuvenation and collagen production. This then improves fine lines, scarring, acne, and clogged pores. It also helps your skin to absorb products better; so, when you use moisturisers, serums and oils, your skin is going to benefit from them more. So, it’s very valuable to exfoliate regularly.

What are exfoliators?

There are two main types of exfoliants, chemical and physical. Physical exfoliators are your traditional “scrubs” that contain bits in them, such as sugars, granules, pips or seeds. Chemical exfoliators use acids and enzymes, typically Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA).

Physical Exfoliators

Physical exfoliators are the most common types of exfoliators usually sold as face scrubs. They often contain sugars, seeds and granules and manually rub the surface of the skin to remove the dead skin cells. Microbead scrubs were once popular, however, are no longer recommended because the small plastic particles contaminate the ocean and are damaging to sea life and the environment.

Sometimes physical exfoliators come in the form of face brushes, loofahs, and flannels as these manually rub the surface of the skin to remove dead cells too.

Physical exfoliators are best for people with dry to normal skin. Dry skin tends to have a build-up of dry patches and these types of exfoliators are brilliant at removing these. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to avoid physical exfoliators as they can cause microtears and they can be quite harsh on the skin.

Chemical Exfoliators

The word chemical can sound scary, but not all chemicals are bad for us. Chemical exfoliators come in two main forms, Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA). The exfoliators are usually very mild for use on the face and work by using acids or enzymes to break down and dissolve the dead skin cells. You don’t need to rub chemical exfoliators into the skin, they just need to be washed off.

Alpha Hydroxy Acid:
Glycolic Acid
Lactic Acid
Citric Acid

Beta Hydroxy Acid:
Salicylic Acid
Citric Acid (depending on formulation)


AHA’s or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are essentially hydrophilic (water-loving) and are naturally sourced. For example, Glycolic Acid is derived from sugar while Lactic Acid is derived from milk. AHA’s are great for most skin types but are particularly good for normal, combination and oily skin. When quite mild, they’re also better for people with more sensitive skin. AHA’s also boost collagen production so are fabulous for more mature skin.

BHA’s or Beta Hydroxy Acids are essentially Salicylic Acid, which I’m sure a lot of people have heard of if they’ve had acne or pimples. BHA is fat soluble and so it’s brilliant for oily skin. It’s almost the same as AHA’s in that it dissolves and removes dead skin cells, but it penetrates deeper into the skin and really help to unclog pores, and is commonly used to treat acne and blackheads. When it’s a stronger solution it can even be used to treat verrucas and warts!

How often?

It’s recommended to exfoliate your skin at least once a week if you have oily skin, and twice a week if you have more dry skin. Exfoliating too often can cause an overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands, so that can just clog your pores up even more and is counter-productive. So, it’s important to find the right balance. Sometimes there are even smaller quantities of AHA’s and BHA’s in facial tonics and toners, which can be used daily too.

Since becoming a qualified beautician, I’ve found myself delving deeper and deeper into the science of skincare and how important it is, and I can’t help myself now. I will be posting more blogs on these types of topics as I love it so much, and they’re kind of educational! 

Tips for going Self-Employed

Some of you who follow me on social media might know that I’ve gone self-employed and started my own business. I’m now a mobile beautician and makeup artist for my company Becx Beauty. I trawled the internet for tips and tricks for what to do when first starting out, and I thought I’d put together my own tips, as well as information I found helpful or useful.

Make A Business Plan

The first thing I did, was write everything down that I could possibly think of. A lot of what I wrote down is in this blog. From the legalities to branding and prices. I wrote down all my ideas, costs, lists, websites and spent a few months looking into everything in depth. A business plan is probably the most important thing you can have before you decide to go self-employed.

Price Up Equipment & Resources

Before taking the leap, you need to make sure you can afford to do so. Pricing up everything you might need in your day to day work gives you a good idea on whether going self-employed is achievable. Some people take out a business loan to start up and get the things they need, while others use savings. I personally used savings to start up because then I didn’t need to worry about paying back a loan – but there are lots of affordable loans with a low-interest rate and low monthly pay-back costs. I made a large list of thing equipment and resources I needed and worked my way through it, keeping it all under my budget.

Research Local Services & Prices In The Same Industry

I found looking into local businesses in the same industry as me helped a lot. Not only did I see the average price of services which helped me set my own prices, but I saw where services were lacking. Finding a gap in the market and something to make your business stand out as unique or different can really help boost your clientele at the beginning. In my case, it was that there aren’t an awful lot of beauticians and makeup artists that use only cruelty-free products that also have vegan options.

Come Up With Your Services & Prices

Based off of the information I gathered so far, I was able to create my own list of services I want to offer, and how much I’ll be charging for them. I wanted to be affordable, but not undercut all the local businesses too much – that just undervalues what you can offer. Knowing how much the equipment and resources will cost, helps me to understand which services I can offer to start with, and perhaps look into branching out once my business is established.

Look Into Branding & Logo’s

I’m lucky that my boyfriend is a dab hand at graphic design and branding with him being a digital marketer… so he helped me with the design of my logo and branding. But before I went to him for help, I had a mood board filled with colours, images, drawings and keywords, that I knew wanted to resemble my business. Get all your ideas down on paper, some people use brilliant online services to make logos (like Vista) or go to freelance graphic designers, or even do it themselves!

Create An Email & Contact Details

You want a way for people to contact you for business, which is separate to your own personal contact details. I made a basic email with Outlook, and kept it simple and memorable, using the name of my business. Keeping everything separate makes it easier to manage, and really helps me a lot.

Create A Website

There are lots of ways to create a website. The way I found the simplest and most effective was with Wix. I paid for a membership to link my own domain, which is far more professional. There are templates to use, and they’re fully customisable too. Another good aspect of wix is the SEO. The SEO section is very user-friendly and helps get your website into Google searches.

Advertise Advertise Advertise

One of the main things I did as I was setting everything up, was advertise my company. I set up all my social media and posted regularly on them. I had business cards and leaflets made with promotional offers and posted them locally, as well as leaving some in GP surgeries, dentists, hairdressers and gyms. I also posted promotional offers on my social media, to get more clients in. This all helped boost my business at the start.

Plan Your Book-Keeping

One bit of advice that popped up on a lot of articles, blogs and videos online, was to do your bookkeeping regularly. It’s easier to keep up-to-date when you do it often, such as monthly. I have a folder where I keep all of my receipts and invoices, all sorted into each month. There are lots of online book-keeping software, and I’m using Sage. Sage helps to record your invoices, expenses and cash flow in an easy to use way, and it’s only £5 a month.

Register With HMRC

Probably the most important part when going self-employed, is to register with the Government. You can register easily online, and you need to declare your income and do annual tax returns. I haven’t done my first tax return yet. Once I do I think I’ll make a blog all about the process… but from what I’ve read and been told, it’s far easier than you expect.  

It seems like a lot to consider before going self-employed – and it is. But once you get the ball rolling it gets far easier, and much more exciting. Going self-employed has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am my own boss, and it feels amazing to take the reins on my own career this way. I hope this blog helps someone be able to take a hold of their own reins too! If you are self-employed and have any tips, please do leave them in the comments for people to see!

August Favourites 2018

Another month over, and we get closer to the end of Summer. August was a brilliant month for me - a lot happened. From getting my qualification to Eric's birthday bash and setting up my own company. While it's been super busy (sorry for the lack of blogs by the way), I still have some things on my favourites list!

The first thing is The Ordinary Peeling Solution. This handy little thing is a chemical exfoliant which uses Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid to remove the dead skin cells on your face. I personally prefer chemical exfoliants over the usual physical ones (which are the gritty type face scrubs). I started using this once a week, and then put it down to once every two weeks, and I love how my skin feels after I've used it. 

Since switching to being cruelty-free, I hadn't found a great haircare range other than Tesco's own until recently. I started using the Noughty Colour Bomb Shampoo and Conditioner, and my gosh they are a godsend. The smell reminds me of refresher sweets, and they're 97% natural with no parabens, petrochemicals, sulphates or silicones. I definitely think I'll be using a lot more products from this brand.

Since I started my own company this month, I've needed to get my arse into gear with regards to organisations. I bought this Leuchtturm 1917 Diary from Rymans when I was looking around at stationary and it's been a lifesaver. I hadn't realised Lechtturm was such a popular brand in the bullet journal crowd (yeah, I watch bullet journal videos on YouTube despite not having one!), but I'm glad I obviously made a good choice. I don't have the time for bullet journaling, so a good quality diary is a must for me. It has a year overview at the beginning and a week by week view. I find it really handy for recording client appointments, as well as my own personal bits and pieces. If you haven't tried this brand for diaries and the likes, you really should!

This leads on nicely to my next favourite. I STARTED A FREAKING BUSINESS. Yes, that's right... I'm a business owner. A self-employed beautician and makeup-artist. My company is called Becx Beauty. I've worked very hard to get to where I am today and I'm very proud of the things I've achieved over the last year, after being so poorly with my chronic illness. At 25 I went back to college to train in a new career path and then I took the plunge to start my own business and it feels amazing.

I usually have some TV or film favourites but this month we haven't really watched an awful lot. We did, however, binge watch all the seasons of The Walking Dead Telltale Series game on YouTube (played by Cryaotic). What an emotional rollercoaster. If you haven't seen the series, you really should watch it. I'm still not completely over the ending of season one... but I'm excited for the new episodes of Season 4 to come out!

I hope you had a lovely August yourself! ❤

Choosing The Best Food For Your Dog

So, your dogs are pretty important to you, right? And you want what is best for them? Well the first place you can start providing the best for them is to address their diet, after all, diet is the foundation of health. 

Before I begin on this post, I would just like to say that I am in no way paid or asked to promote any of the products mentioned in this blog, and have formed my own opinions on them. Any links to references, veterinary or nutritionist articles and scientific papers will be at the end.

Also, please, do not take this blog offensively in any way. I understand how hard money can be for some people, and I completely understand that the 'higher quality' commercial foods are not affordable for some. And of course, dogs need to eat something! So what I always say is, if you CAN afford it, then always try to go for better. I'm just writing this so people can make informed choices, whatever they choose to feed their pets. 

Photo of Daisy & Charlie taken by Rebecca Ashworth Photography
What Dogs Need.

Let's start with what dogs DO need. Dogs need a predominantly meat-based diet. Dogs are considered carnivores by genus but have been found to have opportunistic tendencies, meaning they may or may not scrounge for food to survive on in the wild. This does not mean that dogs are omnivores because they can 'survive' on scraps of food like some believe. They are carnivores, with opportunistic tendencies. 

This is because dogs do not produce a substantial amount the amylase enzyme to break down starches in carbohydrates nor do they produce enough of the cellulase enzyme to break down the cellulose in fruits and vegetables efficiently. They also have carnivorous teeth, a short digestive tract and an acidic stomach PH of 1-2 that all resemble that of their carnivorous ancestors. They are opportunists in that they can, if needed, 'survive' off a diet consisting of starches.

So this means that dogs don't 'need' carbohydrates in their diet, it is not a dietary requirement. So when picking a commercial food, you want foods with a high meat content, and little if any carbohydrates. 

This particular blog is about picking a complete commercial dog food, either wet or dry. So let's look at the ingredients in them, in more depth.

Photo of  Charlie taken by Rebecca Ashworth Photography
Meat Content

Meat, or protein, is THE most important thing a dog can eat, as it is the easiest digested source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Dogs, as a species, have evolved to eat meat and lots of it. 

The first ingredient in any dog food should be a named meat source like beef, chicken, lamb, or any other protein source you choose. I would always advise avoiding any dog food that does not name their meat source - if it says 'meat and animal derivatives', 'meat meal' and 'animal fats and oils' then stay clear. In my opinion, I want to know exactly what my dogs are eating. 

European Law deems that 'meat and animal derivatives' are "all the fleshy parts of slaughtered warm-blooded land animals, fresh or preserved by appropriate treatment, and all products and derivatives of the processing of the carcass or parts of the carcass of warm-blooded animals". Does that make any sense to you? The term is defined extremely vaguely, with no real idea of what your dog is actually eating! These meat and animal by-products are often the cheapest they could find at that time, and often change depending which animals are more available... and on top of that, the meat is generally 'cheap' for a reason. It is likely low in any nutrition and is certainly not chosen for their quality or ethics in how the animals lived previous to slaughter. Some manufacturers even use this term simply because the meat protein names might put some customers off buying the product, which doesn't sound like it would be a good protein source, does it?

Dog food may contain more than one protein source. More commonly seen, is a mixture of a meat source and a fish source, which is great as long as they are both named. Fish like salmon, trout and other oily fish are great, as they contain amino acids and other goodies for a dogs skin, coat and joint health. Containing more than one protein source is great if your dog does not have an intolerance to what may be within that food.

Sadly, because meat is so expensive in this day and age, many of the cheaper manufacturers will substitute meat sources with other protein sources. Let's not confuse meat with protein! So some dog foods contain high amounts of soya, maize and potato as protein sources, to make up for lacking in meat protein. The problem with this is that dogs cannot digest these easily, meaning a higher chance of dietary intolerance, and putting extra strain on their digestive system.

So, when picking a dog food, make sure the ingredients state a named meat source, which is a large proportion of the diet. For example, I've listed the ingredients in two different dog foods below, one is high quality, the other is low quality... which would you pick?

"Chicken 19%, Chicken 18% (from Dried Chicken), Salmon 15%, Herring 12.5% (from Dried Herring), Potato 12%, Chicken Fat 4.5%, Duck 4% (from Dried Duck), Sweet Potato 3.5%, Whole Egg 2.5% (from Dried Egg), Chicken Liver 2.5%, White Fish 2%, Pea Fibre 2%, Lucerne, Chickpea, Minerals & Vitamins, Carrot, Spinach, Apple, Rosehips, Chamomile, Burdock Root, Seaweed, Cranberry, Aniseed & Fenugreek, Fructooligosaccharides (461 mg/kg), Glucosamine (341mg/Kg), MSM (341mg/Kg), Chondroitin (240mg/Kg), Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Sage."

Or "Cereals, Meat and Animal Derivatives (including 4% Chicken), Oils and Fats (including 0.2% Fish Oil, 0.2% Sunflower Oil), Derivatives of Vegetable Origin (including 2% Dried Beet Pulp), Minerals (including 0.7% Sodium Tripolyphosphate), Antioxidants, Preservatives"

I have highlighted the bad ingredients you need to avoid. The sad thing is, the second list of ingredients, is a major pet food company sold in the UK (of which I will not name), yet so many people do not realise how poor the food actually is. 

Photo of Daisy taken by Rebecca Ashworth Photography
Grains, Carbohydrates and Cereals

In my opinion, any decent dry or wet dog food is completely grain free. But do not fall into the trap of grain free meaning it does not contain any carbohydrates, grain free does not mean carbohydrate free. In particular with dry foods - they all need some form of 'starch' to act as a glue to hold the little bit of kibble together, and to hold it's shape. This means even the highest quality of dry food contains some form of starch. It's unavoidable, so this is something to take into account when decided between wet foods and dry.

That is one of the reasons I would personally choose a high-quality wet food over a high-quality dry food, though some may have other factors to take into account (shelf life, storage, packaging etc). Another reason I would personally pick a wet food over a dry food is the moisture content. Dry foods are very low in moisture, and can 'swell' in the stomach, increasing the risk of bloat. Some lower the risk by soaking dry food before feeding it, some lower it by not feeding dry foods at all. 

The main issue I have with carbohydrates in a dogs diet is their capability of digesting them. As I said above, dogs lack the necessary amount of the amylase enzyme to efficiently digest them and gain anything from them. While dogs may live a perfectly healthy, and long life on a carbohydrate-based diet, there are some that don't. Some do not cope, whether it be shown through allergies and dietary intolerance's, digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and other gastric problems, or through something more severe like liver disease. If dogs show any kind of 'issue', the diet should always be considered as a factor, even if it may not be the cause at all, just to rule it out.

Photo of  Charlie taken by Rebecca Ashworth Photography

In this section, I will list the worst additives that can be in a dog food, and why it is something that should be avoided. The first one is artificial colourings. Even in the 1950's artificial colourings have been linked to behaviour issues in children, and this can be the same for dogs too. Ever asked that hyper dog's owner down the street what they feed their dog? A hyperactive dog means a dog that has a shorter attention span, is harder to train, harder to handle and just generally a bit of a 'nuisance'.

Many people have seen a considerable difference in their dogs' behaviour once change to a higher quality food (including my own dog). So, if a dog food says 'colourings', 'e numbers', 'sunset yellow', 'tartrazine', 'ponceau 4r', or 'titanium dioxide'... avoid! I'm pretty sure a dog doesn't care what colour their food is, as long as it tastes good. 

Another ingredient to avoid like the plague is Propylene Glycol. This ingredient is hands down the worst ingredient in any pet food, despite that it is approved for use in pet foods. It is most commonly found in 'semi-moist' foods. This ingredient is basically a 'cousin' to Ethylene Glycol... which is antifreeze!

Dry Foods and Wet Foods I recommend (and would feed to my own dogs)
  • Acana
  • Eden
  • Pure Pet Food
  • Taste of the Wild
  • Applaws
  • Orijen
  • Simpsons
  • Barking Heads
  • Canagan
  • Fishmongers Finest
  • Forthglade
  • Naturediet
  • Lily's Kitchen
  • Millie's Wolfheart
  • Natures Menu
Photo of Daisy taken by Rebecca Ashworth Photography
Moving on from commercial foods, you could always feed a fresh food diet, which is nutritionally going to be the best, but that's for a whole other post!

I hope this blog post has been useful to anyone that needed help with picking a decent commercial food for their dog. Again, I want to stress that I am in no way paid/sponsored to name any of the products in this blog and that I am in no way claiming to be a professional on this. This blog is formed from my own reading a research.

Here are some links below I would recommend, for further reading and research:

The Best and Worst Pet Foods, by Dr Karen Becker

Three Major Reasons to Feed Your Pet a Homemade Diet, by Dr Karen Becker

Grain Free Dog Foods: Solving Yeast and Skin Issues, by Dogs Naturally Magazine.

The Truth About Dog Food and Supplements, by Dana Scott, Dogs Naturally Magazine.

Dog Food: Ten Scary Truths, by Jan Rasmusen, Dogs Naturally Magazine.

What is in Your Dogs Food? by Dogs Naturally Magazine.

Why Most Manufactured Foods Should Not be Fed to Cats and Dogs, by Dr Michael Fox DVM, Dogs Naturally Magazine.

How to Select Top Quality Canned Dog Foods, by Nancy Kerns, Whole Dog Journal.

Pet Food Research, by Fiona McCann, Canine Health Concern.

Ingredients Glossary, by All About Dog Food.

Dog Feeding Guide, by All About Dog Food.

The Ingredients List - Seeing Through the Smoke and Mirrors, by David Jackson, All About Dog Food.

Dry Dog Food: The Cost of Convenience, by David Jackson, All About Dog Food.

Green People Organic Lifestyle Review

I love reviewing products, especially when it comes to new brands I've not tried before. I have been kindly gifted these items from Green People, who are an organic and cruelty-free company that do some fabulous skincare, hair care and even cosmetics!

The good thing about this brand is you can buy starter packs to try before you pull out money for the full sized products, which is a handy way to make sure you're happy with your purchase. I have 2 starter packs to review, both of which contain three 30ml tubes; a perfect amount to properly test the items out. 

The first starter pack is the hair and body care Superfood Starter Pack, which is the quinoa and artichoke shampoo and conditioner, with the quinoa and calendula shower gel. The first thing I noticed about these products is the smell; it has a very herbal and fresh scent, which really makes me picture how organic they are. The shampoo and conditioner are designed to refresh, revive, and uplift your hair with more volume, which is exactly what I need for my flat, lifeless hair. The shower gel is designed to boost your skin hydration and with hints of orange and lemongrass in there, it's really quite an energising scent on a morning. 

I have also been trying the Holiday Sun Starter Pack from the sun care range. The brilliant part about this range is that it's ocean-friendly and reef safe. The Edelweiss 15 SPF sun lotion also has aloe vera and avocado and helps to boost tanning by 25% while protecting your skin from UVA/UVB rays. The 30 SPF sun lotion is aloe vera, edelweiss and green tea, which has a higher UVA/UVB protection, is scent free so better for sensitive skin, and has added antioxidants and vitamins to support the skins immuine system while in the sun. Of course, it's not a "sun starter pack" without a good after sun. This pack includes a hydrating after sun with aloe vera, calendula and mint. It's peppermint scented and amazingly cooling on the skin. The best part about this suncare range is that they're not greasy at all, which you get from other brands of sun lotion or after sun. It soaks in quickly and is fast acting. 

Lastly, I was sent the Volumising Mascara which is a certified organic mascara in black. It has natural mineral pigments for the depth of colour, and natural cellulose microspheres boost the volume of your lashes. This mascara definitely does add some volume to my lashes, and I really like the effect it gives. I only wish the wand wasn't a straight, plastic bristle wand. I just personally prefer the pine cone, brush wands as they tend to grip my lashes more. The range of cosmetics are specially designed for people with eczema or psoriasis, so if you have skin conditions like this, these could be the products for you! 

It's great to come across cruelty-free companies and have a new brand to add to your "to use" list. I really enjoyed the shampoo and conditioner in particular and I love the look of their organic cosmetics. Overall, Green People seem to be a brand I haven't seen an awful lot of people talk about, but I really think they should be up there with the other well-known cruelty-free haircare, body care and cosmetic brands. 

Long-lasting, Affordable & Cruelty-Free Bridal Makeup

At the weekend, I was lucky enough to attend my best friends wedding as her bridesmaid. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out some bridal makeup, as I'm a budding makeup artist; who is planning on starting my own business in the very near future. I got my research cap on and looked into all the best brands for affordable, long-lasting, and cruelty-free makeup. 

Every single product used in this blog post is cruelty-free, drugstore or affordable, and really did stand the test of being on my face for 19 hours, in 25-degree (celsius) heat. It also withstood my sweat, stress and tears on such a long, emotional day!

Good makeup application always starts with a good, clean, moisturised canvas. So after cleansing, I applied my Superdrug Vitamin C Gel Moisturiser, which is brilliant for oily skin as it's so light. I've used the Superdrug Vitamin E Eye Cream for a while now, and that's a firm favourite that I use every day nevermind for an occasion. I then primed my skin using the Elf Poreless Face Primer, which is perfect for anyone with oily or combination skin and enlarged pores. They also have a hydrating one for dry skin. Now, colour correction isn't something I use on a day to day basis, but I think it's very useful for occasions where you're wearing makeup all day or when there's flash photography. In my case, I used the lilac to cover my dark circles, and the green to correct the redness from my blemishes and spots. I used the Sleek Colour Correcting palette. 

After my skin was fully prepped, I moved onto foundation. I used the Sleek Lifeproof Foundation, and had to mix 2 shades together since I was wearing some fake tan. For concealer, I used the Revolution Conceal and Define as an undereye concealer because of it's thin and blendable consistency. However, on my blemishes, I used the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer for the thicker consistency and higher coverage. I then used a cream blush from the Sleek Blush By 3 palette because a cream blush under the powder really helps your blush last all day long, and you still have a lovely rosy complexion by the end of the day. I'd always use a cream blush under a regular powder blush for any kind of special occasion. I finished my base with the RCMA No-Color Powder. This powder is perfect for long-wearing makeup, and because it has no pigment - it doesn't change the colour of your makeup or cause flashback in photos.

I then used the matte contour shade from the Sleek Face Form Contour Palette in the hollows of my cheeks, around my forehead, and under my chin to create more shadow and definition. From the same palette, I used the shimmery bronzer to bronze up my face and make sure my face matched the rest of my body. I went back into the blush palette and used the darker powder to add a bit more colour to my cheeks. I finished up with the Revolution Strobe Lighting Palette, using the yellow/gold toned highlight on my cheekbones, the tip of my nose, cupids bow and brow bone. A more gold toned highlighter is much more complimentary than whites and pinks when under flash photography. 

For my eyebrows, I used my trusty Nyx Micro Brow Pencil, which I've raved about for a while now. It's a great dupe for the ABH's range. I then set my brows with the Pixi Brow Gel, mines a bit gross looking, as I use it so much! For my eyeshadow, I decided to go for neutral-pinks to make my blue eyes pop, but they would look good for every eye colour. I used the classic Urban Decay Naked 3 palette, which is perfect for weddings. I used the shade Factory in my outer corner and crease, blended into the shade Buzz which went all over my lid. For the inner corner, I used the shade Dust, and took Factory back through my lower lashline.

 I decided to go for a classic winged eyeliner, because that's my signature look, using the Revolution Renaissance Flick liner. This eyeliner is pigmented, smudge free, and easy to apply. I applied some half-lashes, for a natural lash effect. I went for the Fleur de Force by Eylure Petit Fleur lashes and used my trusty duo glue. Duo glue really is the best eyelash glue on the market, I wouldn't recommend any other brand. I finished my eyes with the Nyx Worth The Hype mascara. My lipstick was the Sleek Lip VIP in the shade Reserved, but any kind of pink or nude lipstick would have looked great. Of course, as with any makeup look, I like to set the whole face using the Revolution Pro Fix Oil Control Fixing Spray, which helps my makeup last longer.

I honestly can't believe that my makeup lasted 19 hours without it melting off my oily skin in the heat. I just had to share all these goodies with other people, they impressed me so much. So much so that I've decided to stock some of these products in my professional makeup artist kit for when I get started!

July Favourites 2018

Just like that, July is over, and we're now only 5 months away from Christmas. The warmer weather is still around here in Newcastle, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it while it lasts. One of my new year's resolutions was to go cruelty-free on cosmetics, skincare and haircare - and I'm proud to say I've definitely kept that resolution going, as you'll see that everything in this post is cruelty-free! 

My first favourite is the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. I had been wanting this little gem for a while, but I didn't want to pay the delivery for just one item. This stuff is incredible. You use a cotton bud to apply the pink sediment to your spots and leave it on overnight... by morning spots are significantly reduced. I find it's particularly good for larges whiteheads. Although I haven't had this too long, it's fast become a staple in my skincare routine and I'd highly recommend it. 

My next favourite is another newbie in my life - the RCMA No-Color Powder. I bought this after researching powders to prevent flashback in photography for doing wedding makeup. Because the powder is colourless, with no pigment at all, it doesn't change the colour of your makeup or create flashback in photos. It sets my makeup really well, and I find it's very longlasting.

I've been slowly replacing my Rimmel and Maybelline lipsticks with cruelty-free alternatives and I got this Revolution Lipstick in the shade Awaken a couple months ago. I've started wearing this a lot this month. With the heat, I found matte lipsticks and liquid lipsticks were too drying and felt uncomfortable; so I started to wear more moisturising lipsticks. This one, in particular, is very soft and smooth on the lips, and the colour is gorgeous. It's very much a "your lips but better" kind of look and it's really affordable too. 

The other week, Eric and I enjoyed a trip to the beach. I stupidly had a mini nap in the sun and of course, suffered the consequences of sunburn on my back. I've been using this Solait Moisturising After Sun Body Butter to soothe and calm it, and it's helped so much. I like this after sun in particular because it's in a body butter texture instead of the usual oily, runny liquid that feels sticky on the skin. This reminds me a lot of The Body Shop body butter, but this was SO cheap.  

I've always been the type of person who always wears longer handbags or crossbody bags - then always complained about painful shoulders. I don't know why I never got a backpack earlier, but I'm glad I've finally come to my senses. I picked up this Rainbow Disney Backpack from Primark, and I've started collecting pins to attach to it. I've used this bag every single day. It's big enough for everything I need inside it and feels far better to carry around. I can't wait to finish adding pins to it, I love how cute it looks. 

My last favourite may seem a bit random, but I've genuinely played Sea of Thieves on PC every day for the last month or so. It's a great pirate game where you essentially do quests like finding treasure chests, skeleton skulls and other goodies to raise your reputation with different groups and gain coin. You customise your characters clothes, weapons and items as well as your ship. You can always play multiplayer, which I personally think is best, and there are also other gamers on the same server. If you're a gamer like me and like to play with friends, you'll love this game. It's immersive, imaginative and fun!

Please do tell me what you've been loving this month too - I'm always looking to try new things. Especially if anyone has any recommendations for cruelty-free foundations with no flashback, as that's something I'm looking into at the moment. I hope you're enjoying the summer!

Why Should I "Come Out" - Sexuality

Rebecca at Newcastle Pride in 2018

Last weekend, I went along to do the pride parade in Newcastle and proudly stood alongside the LGBTQ+ community to show support. I genuinely believe that love is love, regardless of gender, sexuality, or how people may want to identify themselves, and I’ve believed this from quite a young age.

I’m not really one for labels (they’re for clothes, not humans), but I supposed when thinking about the definitions I identify as Bisexual. I might even be Pansexual, I’m not entirely sure myself, I don’t really like having to label myself. If you’re not sure what they mean – Bisexuality is an attraction to both men and women, and Pansexuality is where you’re attracted to any person regardless of their gender or sexuality, so it can include people who are non-binary, transsexuals, etc. For me, it’s all about personality. I never “came out” so to speak.

Last weekend got me thinking about how people of the LGBTQ community have to come out to the people around them.

A pink, purple and blue poster saying Bi Furious

I know coming out is such a personal thing to do, and for some people, it’s an important part of understanding their own identity and they’re very happy and proud to do so. I never came out myself because I always felt like… why should I have to?

In my mind, love is love. Why do I need to declare what I’m attracted to as if it’s abnormal? Why do people not come out as straight? In this day and age, we should be able to fall in love with anyone, without having to declare ourselves as gay, bisexual, or whatever label.

I knew I was attracted to both men and women when I was around 16 years old. I didn’t come out, I just spoke about both genders in conversation – having crushes on both male and female, flirting with both boys and girls and so on. I miss how open-minded and how little people seemed to care in our teenage years.

This post isn’t particularly about anything too deep, I suppose I’m just using it to vent that I really don’t think everyone other than straight people should feel the need to come out as if we have to hide and then declare ourselves to others. Some people really enjoy coming out and that’s important to them as a person, which is brilliant too – whatever you are happy and comfortable with. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to put yourself into a category or label, I know I don’t.

I loved seeing Newcastle filled with so many people, of all genders and sexualities, standing up for love and seeing people of all backgrounds and ages join in to support the community. It was really moving, and quite emotional. I felt truly proud to be in a nation that’s forward thinking, where people are free to love anyone, where same-sex couples can adopt children and get married.

2 people at Newcastle Pride 2018, holding a rainbow flag.

There’s still a long way to go for a more inclusive society, but we really are stepping in the right direction. That weekend, I felt proud to be British, and proud to be supporting such a diverse and beautiful community.