UK Cruelty Free Products


When I was on my lunch break yesterday I was accosted by a group of people sporting rabbit ears and super-cute face paint, accompanied by someone in a full bunny mascot suit. They were a team from the Body Shop gathering signatures for their Forever Against Animal Testing campaign. Apparently if they get 8 million signatures, the Body Shop and Cruelty Free International will be able to ban animal testing for cosmetics forever. Even if you eat meat or aren't passionate about animal rights, I'm sure we can all agree that animals don't deserve to suffer for our vanity or products we can do without. A global ban on animal testing would be incredible, so if you're inclined or see a team of bunnies in a town near you, please take a few minutes to sign the petition

After reading up about this, I was inspired to share some recommendations for the cruelty-free products I use here. I'm not going to focus on make-up (for the curious - some of my favourites brands are Urban Decay, Charlotte Tilbury & Glossier) because there's an impressive range of cruelty free beauty available and hundreds of beauty-bloggers, so it's easy to make conscientious decisions. When I started transitioning to products that aren't tested on animals, alongside make-up reviews I found a lot of recommendations for U.S products, but struggled to find suggestions for affordable essentials like toothpaste, shampoo and cleaning products that can be purchased over here. Sure, bathroom cleaner isn't as exciting as bronzer, but it's necessary!

Here's what I've purchased recently and whether or not it's worth buying: 


Soft & Gentle Antiperspirant | Apart from roll-ons which I find uncomfortable or natural deodorants which I don't trust to get me through a full working day and a trip to the gym, Soft & Gentle is the only cruelty-free deodorant brand I've found so far. These antiperspirants don't leave marks on my clothes, last all day and keep me feeling fresh. I don't rate either the two scents I've tried, the Wild Rose & Vanilla (far too perfumed) or the Jasmine & Coco Milk (the better of the two), but they don't linger after application so that's incidental. I'll stick with this brand, and plan to try their 0% aluminium range next. 

Palmer's Cocoa Butter Gradual Tanning Lotion | I've purchased this product in the past but I picked up the Palmer's Natural Bronze Gradual Tanning Lotion on a whim the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find a statement against animal testing on the back. This lotion smells delicious and leaves you bronzed after just one application, good for days when you want a glow!

Shower Gel | Much like make-up, it's not tricky to find a great cruelty-free shower gel. Original Source products have always been a permanent fixture in our shower (I love the Mint & Tea Tree Shower Gel) and at the moment we're using the Green Banana and Bamboo Shower Milk which smells great and leaves your skin really soft. We're also big fans of the Treacle Moon Bath and Shower Gel in One Ginger Morning, despite the twee packaging. If you're looking for a place to start with products that aren't tested on animals, both these brands are affordable and the products last a long time. 

Anatomicals Face Masks | I recently picked up some Anatomicals face masks in 'Look You've Got Chocolate All Over Your Face' and 'Hawaii Five-Glow'. These are reasonably priced at £1.50 and soothing on the skin... would buy again.

Method Hand Wash | There's only so much you can say about hand soap, but I highly recommend the Method Foaming Hand Washes. We've currently got Pink Pomelo and Green Tea & Aloe (which smells like spa/hotel toiletries) on the go and because they're foaming they last for ages. Method also offer refill pouches for some of their products, including their hand wash (although they only seem to have one scent available at the moment), which is great if you're trying to reduce your plastic consumption. 

Cleaning Products | If you aren't already bored of me waffling on about deodorant and soaps, brace yourself, I'm about to talk about cleaning. A lot of people are aware of animal testing in the cosmetic industry, but might not have given any thought to the brands behind their household products. Method offer a good cruelty-free cleaning range. So far we've tried their Anti-Bacterial Spray in Wild Rhubarb (which smells so good!), the Kitchen Cleaner in Clementine and the Daily Shower Cleaner. The brand Ecover have products from dish washer tablets to Limescale Remover that are certified by Cruelty Free International. As a more affordable alternative, Tesco have a suprisingly wide range of own-brand cleaning products that are not tested on animals. I recently picked up their Window & Glass Cleaner Spray and Bathroom Cleaner. I haven't been disappointed by any of these products, they all do the jobs they're supposed to and are guilt-free.


Kingfisher Natural Toothpaste | Kingfisher's Natural Toothpaste in Mint was my first foray into cruelty-free toothpaste and... it's just OK. It doesn't lather much whilst brushing, nor does it have a particularly strong 'mint' flavour. After a few minutes of cleaning your teeth it's pretty much tasteless. In the past, my preference was for super minty, whitening toothpastes and without a lingering flavour or much foam this product just doesn't leave my mouth feeling as clean as others I've used in the past. It does the job but I'll look for an alternative once it's used up. 

Kind Natured Shampoo | Much like the toothpaste, the main downfall of the Kind Natured Colour Care Shampoo is that doesn't lather enough, which doesn't leave my hair feeling cleansed. I've seen some other haircare brands that aren't tested on animals, so I won't repurchase this!

I'll end this post by saying I'd really encourage anyone to try to and swap some of their products for cruelty-free alternatives. Perhaps this is an odd comparison but when Sean first started eating gluten-free five years ago there weren't many product options available. It's been really interesting for us both to see an ever-increasing range of higher quality items available and I'm sure it's down to the increasing awareness of gluten-free diets. I believe in voting with your wallet and we often try new gluten-free products to support the companies making them. Attitudes towards animal rights are changing, not just in the food we eat but in the fashion & cosmetic industries too. When I picked up the Anatomicals face masks they were on a whole stand highlighting different cruelty-free brands in Boots. In another example, last year Gucci announced they were going fur-free and Donatella Versace vowed that the Versace brand will stop using real fur just this week. It's really remarkable for such influential brands to take this kind of stand. I'd hope that the more people put their hard-earned cash towards bunny-friendly products, more brands will pledge to end animal testing. 

I'll keep sharing my recommendations here... let me know if you have any!

February Round-Up


In contrast to the endless misery that is January, February really flys by, doesn’t it?

February was busy and tiring, I’ve had a lot on at work recently and have been pushing myself in the gym, but we got up to some fun things! Sean & I celebrated Chinese New Year and Valentines Day. I know Valentines day isn’t everyone’s cup-of-tea, but I actually think it’s pretty cute. I enjoy picking out a card for Sean, and I don’t even mind seeing everyone’s soppy social media posts. More love in the world can only be a good thing.

This month we caught up with one of our oldest friends - George - who we hadn’t seen for a few years. We also went out with a group of our friends to ‘Junkyard Golf’ -  a boozy mini golf-course with a bar half-way through. Alcohol unfortunately didn’t help my game, I truly suck at mini-golf, but it was fun! 

Here’s a short round-up of some of the things I enjoyed:

Queer Eye | Sean and I discovered the 'Queer Eye' re-boot on Netflix and, you guys, I can't even express how much I love this show. I remember watching the original ‘Queer Eye For The Straight Guy’ with my parents, but this re-make is amazing. The 'fab five', a team of five gay men, revamp the lives & looks of men who have lost their mojo. Not only are the team adorable and hilarious, but every episode of this show reduced Sean & I to tears at least once.  It’s so touching and I plan to re-watch it at least 50 times between now and Season 2. Watch it!


Chinese New Year | I was in London for meetings on Chinese New Year this year, and before getting my train home I walked over to China Town for a look around and to take some photos. Sean & I had a celebratory meal at Sojo in Oxford, and ate our favourite Gan Bian beans & stir-fried shredded potato, a dish my sisters  recommended when they came to stay with me last summer. One day I'll make it to China to celebrate the New Year with my relatives there, but for now, I will take any excuse to stuff my face with delicious food...

Running | To balance out stuffing my face, I spent a lot of time running this month. It might be difficult to relate to this one if you’re not unfit or overweight, but hear me out. At the start of the month I could barely run for 1 minute without shin splints, getting out of breath or getting a stitch, but this month I decided to push myself. I committed to running at the gym (and twice outdoors!) as frequently as I could and I’m really proud to say that as of today I can easily run for ten minutes without a break, and can push myself to 15 minutes most times. In March I’d like to push myself up to 15-20 minutes and work on my speed. I’ll keep you posted!

Florence | In February I played through 'Florence' on my iPhone. Florence, which could be described as a visual novel or interactive experience, tells the story of Florence and her love interest Krish. You follow the daily monotony of her life pre-Krish, snoozing her alarm, riding the subway to a dull office job, scrolling through people's Instagram posts and enduring strained conversations with her mother. After meeting Krish you experience the awkward magic of new relationships through Florence's eyes, finding a routine and fumbling through conversations. The mechanics here are so clever, on Florence's first date with Krish the conversation bubbles are presented as jigsaw pieces that you have to rush to fit together, but over time these become easier to match up until they don't feel challenging at all. When Krish moves in, you have to put away some of Florence's things to make room on her shelves for his belongings and when - spoiler - he moves out again, it's hard to remember which things belong to each person. The story Florence paints of relationships is real, human and at times moving. There are moments anybody who has fallen in love could relate to and when I finished the final scene, I wished there was more. At £2.99 for about 45 minutes of run time you might not be able to justify buying this, but I'd really recommend giving it a shot. 

What did you do last month?

Buying Our First Home


Last year, Sean & I unlocked a massive adult achievement and bought our first house. It's been almost a year since we bit the bullet and reserved the plot of mud & scaffolding that would one day turn into our little home and what followed were some of the happiest, most exciting and stressful months of my life.

As is to be expected, through buying our house we learnt a lot, and so I thought I'd write down the advice I have. These tips may or may not be obvious to you, but are all things I hadn't thought of before we made a start. 


Sean and I made the decision to consult mortgage broker rather than going through a bank, and I'd recommend that anyone buying for the first time does the same. He ended up being an invaluable resource, we were able to ring him with any queries we had and he patiently explained every step of the process. You have to be prepared to evidence your whole identity to be accepted for a mortgage and honestly, it would have been so overwhelming gathering this information together without our broker to guide us. 


You're going to need to provide a minimum of three months worth of bank statements (every! transaction!) to be accepted for a mortgage, which really focuses your mind on what you waste money on. We were fine, but I'd really recommend cutting down on takeaways, frivolous spending and things like online betting where you can to make this process less embarrassing. The extra money you save can go towards your house anyway!


We knew that was 2017 was the year we were going to buy a house but we procrastinated on searching for one for a good few months, it was just so hard to know where to start. When you're buying a house, you'll quickly realise what you will & won't compromise on. It's a good idea for you (& whoever you're buying with!) to get down all those ideas down before you start looking, having some criteria to narrow down our search really helped us in the beginning. Are you willing to commute? Do you want to be near family? Do you want a garden? Do you have pets to accommodate... or do you want to get a pet? Need a dishwasher or parking spots? How many bedrooms would you like? Do you like open plan living? The list will quickly grow and you'll probably end up buying a house with two of the things you listed, but at least you won't be searching aimlessly. 


Once we had our deposit, we were ready to buy a house! What we hadn't really accounted for was all the fees that come along with doing that. In terms of the actual buying procedure we needed to cover our broker, a solicitor, reservation fees, searches and surveys, credit checks... the list quickly added up. Don't be discouraged, but don't be naive (as I was) about the fact that you need a good chunk of change on top of your deposit either. It's also worth bearing in mind that if you're buying a house for the first time, chances are you've been renting or living at home up until this point and don't have much in the way of furniture. It's wise to set some money aside for 'essentials' you'll want or need to be comfortable when you first move in and then build from there. For us this included our bed & mattress, a couch and white goods; a fridge and a washer/dryer. That shit is expensive!


Before we bought our house, we were choosing between a 2 & 3 bed model. We ended up going for the 2 bed because the larger houses weren't going to be completed when we needed to move in. We thought our budget could have stretched to either house but when we started to add on the cost of everything that isn't included, the difference between the prices of the two houses quickly narrowed and we wouldn't have been able to stretch ourselves. You don't want to blow your whole budget and have nothing left to play with. 


If you're buying a new build house, as we did, don't assume anything is included. It was a real slap in the face for me and Sean to learn that flooring cost extra. When something as basic as flooring wasn't included, we were surprised to find that other, more trivial things were. Included in the cost of our property was an outside light (front & back!), a decent choice of kitchen fittings and a glass shower screen. We (...Sean) managed to get some bits thrown in when we reserved our property, but we needed some money to pay for extras we wanted like a garden tap (ha, adulthood) and a better shower.


On the topic of new builds, I have some advice on measuring your expectations. There's a 99.9% chance your house will not be ready on time. I was furiously optimistic about this until ours ran-over, and in the end it was almost two months late. It's also likely that your home builders won't be willing to go 'off-plan' for some of the things you want. Our house is in a terrace of five other houses and three of them have porches. We weren't allowed a porch... even in exchange for money. It was also a 'no' when we wanted our bedroom door rehung, wanted to squeeze in a dishwasher and a breakfast bar, wanted to run plumbing out to our shed... and well, do anything that was off-plan. The sales office strung us along, but ultimately everything was a 'no'. 


Honestly, when we were buying our house I got to the point where I couldn't remember what it was like to not be stressed. I have zero chill anyway but it's hard and you have to make a lot of sacrifices. We had to turn down no less than three holidays and a lot of invites to do fun things with our friends. There were times when we had to leave the house & go to a coffee shop just to motivate ourselves to read the small print on whichever piece of paperwork we were completing. There were so many morning's when my colleagues would ask me how things we coming along with the house and all I could do was grumble. It will all come together in the end though, so hang in there and try to enjoy the process as much as you can.

We feel so incredibly lucky to own a home. Once you're in, it really is the best thing ever and five months later the novelty has yet to wear off!

January Round-up


This January felt like it was 100 days long and I mostly spent it sulking about being cold/tired/hungry, not achieving any of my 'resolutions' and counting down the days until payday. 

I thought I'd start doing little monthly round-ups of things I've done that don't warrant a whole blog post and sharing some recommendations for things I've enjoyed, so here are a few of my favourites from the past month:

The Heart of It with Estee Lalonde | I've loved Estee's Youtube videos for a long time; she's cute, hilarious, relatable & Canadian - what's not to like? This month I realised her podcast series is available on Spotify and quickly binged through every episode. She's covers topics like feminism, tattoos, identity and travel by sharing her personal experiences and interviewing some amazing women. I particularly loved the episodes where she interviews her Mom and social historian Madeleine Marsh.

Basquiat 'Boom For Real' | I'd been wanting to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective 'Boom for Real' since it opened in September and on it's last weekend, I snuck off to the Barbican Centre after a day working in the city. I haven't been to an exhibition for ages and despite my five years of art schooling I wasn't very familiar with Baquiat's work so I didn't want to miss the chance to see this retrospective. I'll admit, his work isn't necessarily 'my thing' but it was interesting to learn more about him and it felt so good to wander around and make some time to enjoy an exhibition. 


Night in the Woods | To be honest, I delayed writing this post so that I could finish playing NITW. This game has quickly gained a spot on my list of favourite titles. You play as Mae, a 20-year old anthropomorphic (...can you believe we're only three posts in and I've used the word anthropomorphic twice?) cat that returns to her back-water hometown after dropping out of college. As you reconnect with family & friends and figure out a routine for life back home, you uncover pieces of Mae's troubled past and investigate eerie events around town. The characters and the writing of this game are outstanding, contributing towards a story that is both hilarious and incredibly touching. Night in the Woods is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation, XBOX and PC and I really recommend you play it.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby | I'd not heard of Samantha Irby before, but I was drawn to the lurid yellow cover of We Are Never Meeting in Real Life and I'm glad I picked it up. Irby recounts events in her life and covers topics that aren't always easy to talk about - poverty, disability, weight, race - with refreshing self-depreciation and unique humour. If you like essay collections, this is worth a read!

Breaking Bad | I'm sure you've seen Breaking Bad and loved it, so I'm not going to tell you how great it is. If it's been a few years since you watched it though, do yourself a favour and watch it again. Sean & I first finished the show about three years ago and in January we decided to give it another go. It's been just long enough that we'd forgotten the plot lines and are back to binge watching 'just one more episode'. So bloody good. 

What were your favourite things last month?

5 Of My Favourite Video Games


I've always played video games, but since deciding to spend the rest of my life with a gaming-obsessed Canadian, my interest in the industry has definitely... levelled up. I've gone from casual gaming to consuming some form of game-based media every day; whether that be listening in on Sean's chosen podcasts or hearing him rave about upcoming titles, to putting in hours on my all-time favourite console - the Nintendo Switch. I've been a bit stuck for blog-post inspiration this past week, so I decided to borrow from Sean and write about games. 

Like a lot of people, I grew up on kid-friendly classics like Pokémon and Crash Bandicoot, as well as some less popular titles. I will always maintain that Rugrats in Paris on PS1, Shrek 'Hassle at the Castle' for Gameboy Advance & Finding Nemo on Xbox 360 were GREAT. GAMES. I was never particularly skilled at gaming (although I could always kick my Dad's ass at Tekken 3)... despite the hours I sunk into Pokémon Silver on my Gameboy Colour I could never progress past the Sudowoodo blocking the path in Goldenrod City (if you know, you know!)... but I was always enthusiastic. I'd like to say that my taste in games has matured since I was a kid, but honestly, I still lean towards cutesy titles. I often judge games 'by their cover' and until last year, I never made an effort to keep up with new releases.

That being the case, if your taste in games is anything like mine, here's a not-very-current round-up of five of my all-time favourites:

1 | ANIMAL CROSSING NEW LEAFAnimal Crossing is my favourite game... although it almost feels like a disservice to call New Leaf a 'game' when it offers you a whole new world with daily 'tasks' you can dip into for years at a time. You play as the mayor of a town where all of your neighbours are adorable, anthropomorphic animals. As major, you can spend hours fishing and catching bugs which you can sell to pay off your mortgage or donate to your local museum's collection. You can create new public ordinances, build benches and fountains around your town or build local amenities like a coffee shop & a police station. There's an island where you can play mini-games, 100s of clothing and furniture items to collect (that include references to Mario, Zelda & Metroid!) and seasonal events to enjoy. It's relaxing, charming and I am awaiting Animal Crossing for Switch with baited breath. Available on: Nintendo 3DS.

2 | ZELDA BREATH OF THE WILD: I love this game so much I actually feel emotional when people talk about it, like a proud parent. I'm not exaggerating, to me it's perfect and it took most outlets 'Game of the Year' awards last year so I'm not alone in my sentiments. It's worth pointing out here that unlike my love for the Animal Crossing franchise, I am not a die-hard Legend of Zelda fan, I haven't played any of the 2D games and have dabbled in Ocarina of Time but never completed it. This was the first game in the franchise to win me over, I sunk 170 hours into BOTW and haven't even completed the latest DLC yet. I won't dive into plot points or what you can expect too much as there's tonnes of information to be found elsewhere, but here's my glowing recommendation. Please play this game. Available on: Nintendo Switch & Wii U.

3 | DREAM DADDY: Last year I was struck down with the flu for the second time, and Sean treated me to Dream Daddy to cheer me up. Dream Daddy is a dating simulator, where you play a Dad who's just moved to a new town with his teenage daughter and discovered that the town is full of dateable daddys. Your one goal is to romance your way around town, scoring dates with the help of 'Dadbook'. It's honestly amazing! The theme song is catchy, the colours are kitschy, the stories are endearing and if you have a successful date aubergine emojis fly at the screen. What's not to like! In addition to all of this, Dream Daddy is inclusive. When building your character you can choose to be transgender, one of the Dad's you date is transgender and you have the option to choose whether or not your daughter is biological or adopted. Whilst these topics are referenced in the game, they aren't overdone or sensationalised. If you are looking for a fun, quirky and heartwarming game (or are curled up on the sofa dosed up on cold & flu) - definitely give Dream Daddy a go. You could blast through this game in a weekend but if you're anything like me, you'll want to date all the Dad's just to see each story line play out. Available on: PC.

4 | OVERCOOKED: After years of gaming, this is one of only two co-op games Sean & I have ever completed together... the other being the relationship-testing Super Mario 3D World (there was *lots* of fighting over Tanooki costumes). In Overcooked, you're dropped into a kitchen and your goal is to make meal requests for hungry patrons within a time limit. Sounds simple enough but the addition of an Onion King, blow-torched turkeys, slippery ice and flaming truck-kitchens make this a riot of a game that I would recommend to anyone. Plus, if you're not a confident gamer, the controls are easy to pick up! Available on: Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation & PC.

5 | THE WOLF AMONG US: OK, so this one doesn't really fit my 'cutesy' gaming aesthetic but did I mention I also love 'spooky', horror related things? As Sheriff Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf) you set out to investigate a brutal murder in 'Fabletown' with Snow White at your side. The game mechanics are 'choice and consequence' so you get to shape the evolution of the story you're playing. If you've not tried this style of game before, it's great fun and accessible, there are only a few challenging moments that a less-adept gamer (like me!) might stumble on (...I made Sean do those bits). Based on the comic 'Fables', The Wolf Among Us references classic fairy tales alongside gritty and gory gameplay, making this a truly unique experience. Available on: Xbox, PlayStation & PC.

What's your favourite game?