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!