Turning Coarse Frizz Into Shiny Waves In Just 4 Steps – Without Heat Styling

Bit of a difference eh?

This is a great way to keep your hair healthy and natural looking, whilst weather-proofing it against wind, rain and humidity, even a fun night out!

Using these four products only and no heat styling tools.

1, Shampoo

If you find a shampoo and conditioner that are full of natural oils and butters then you shouldn’t need any hot oil pre-wash treatments. Choose products which are gentle and, ideally SLS free so they won’t strip your hair of it’s own natural oils. Use the mildest products first and then get tougher ones, only if your hair really needs it.

I add a blob of shampoo to a plastic beaker and then fill the rest with warm water and stir it with my finger. I then wet my hair through and poor it over the places I most need it. It’s a great way of spreading shampoo through thick hair without over-doing the amount you use.

I’m using Faith in Nature, Brave Botanicals Shampoo

2,  Condition

Very gently squeeze out any excess water and spread conditioner through hair from roots to tip. Rinse after a few minutes and then when hair is still very wet add a little more to mid-lengths and ends. Leave for a few minutes before gently squeezing out any excess water/conditioner residue.

I’m using Noughty, Intensive Care Leave-in Conditioner

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3, Oil

A lot of people think only people with afro hair really need to oil it or it’s only to be lightly used as a finishing product. Wrong. If you have thick hair that’s coarse or frizzy/fluffy this will be like a drink in the desert for it!

You want hair to be as wet as possible, without it actually dripping, so gently pat hair with a towel. Either poor hair oil onto palms, rub together and spread through hair or if that sounds scary, mist all over with a spray oil, paying special attention to the ends.

I’m using Pierre’s Apothecary, Argan Renewing Hair Treatment Mist or olive oil when my hair is freshly bleached or very fluffy as it has a thicker consistency.

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4, Style

Let hair absorb the oil for a moment but don’t let it get much dryer and then apply curl cream. If your hair is wavy – rather than curly – gently scrunch or twist to encourage shape and definition. If you only have very slight waves in your hair you might want to use a salt spray to encourage texture and movement instead. Remember, the more you faff about with hair as it gets dryer – the more it will freak out and frizz up.

I’m using Amika: Curl Defining Cream (since re-packaged) throughout my hair. 

Now just leave your hair alone to air dry! [If you absolutely have to use a hairdryer, use on it’s lowest and coolest setting with a diffuser and don’t completely dry the top few layers.]

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My hair journey

Between the ages of 13 and 18 I used to think my hair was wonkily wavy but mostly just unruly fluff. I couldn’t do anything with it. So I permed it to get it curlier (wow, did it take!) and then years later I used straighteners to get it straighter (which lasted a few hours at most). In my twenties I went to multiple hairdressers who would straighten it “‘To fry calm it” and then tong “Proper” waves back in!? When all that needed doing was looking after it by not using harsh generic shampoos; replenish it with oil and then gently style it in a way that encouraged – rather than ‘corrected’ it’s natural shape.

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I really hope this has helped some curly girlies and the wavy wenches out there to appreciate and style their natural hair. Let me know in the comments.

Chrissie

July Monthly Blog Round-up

Turns out I’m still figuring out how to get my eye makeup to show up under my glasses. I’ve tried black eyeliner on the top and sparkly gold colours on my lids and lower lash line. This is the amazing result – oh. I’m going for masses of metallic blue and green liner next time, maybe a bit of pink!

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Ordered from Zad’s in Chorlton as I really fancied some veggie junk food. It did not disappoint – OMG it was lush!

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I reviewed the Pixi Strobe and Sculpt palette. It came out at just the right time when I needed to restock a few things, which all happened to be included in this palette! Read my review here.

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Not so great timing was finding this yellow colour corrector by Nip and Fab which you can mix with foundation that’s too orange – when I’d just thrown out three foundation which were, yup, too orange. Still, useful for that in the future and I can use it under lighter coverage foundation to tone down any redness I have.

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I found some really nice firm tofu called Toofoo. It’s great grilled with a coating of chilli oil or some BBQ sauce.

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When I heard that LUSH were releasing a solid foundation called Slap Stick and that it came in 40 shades with three undertones, I had to try it. See what I thought here.

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After half a year of summer I’d gotten a bit fed up coconut water or almond milk based smoothies. I chucked a load of blueberries and raspberries and water into a blender and blended thoroughly, then I added around 10 ice cubes and pulsed to create a slushy . It tasted wonderful!

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I bought some amazing unicorn inspired brushes and realised I couldn’t fit them into any makeup bags I own. I saw this sparkly pencil case in Tesco and they fit great…Now that I’ve sawn off the giant pointy bit at the end. I actually think they look better now and are easier to use.

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I have combination hair, y’know oily roots, meh mid-lengths and frizzy ends. I can’t tell you how many pre-wash treatments or overnight treatments I’ve used and two thirds of my hair LOVED them but my roots looked like I’d been at a festival – for a year. So I thought I’d share these two products that have solved the need for all of that, read the post here.

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This has been my fave outfit since the heatwave broke and I can stand to wear trainers – rather gladiator sandals – again. Doing outfit flatlays is hard! I miss Polyvore.

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Chrissie

 

 

The Perfect Shampoo & Conditioner For Combination Hair

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Everyone has heard of ‘combination skin’ but many people also have ‘combination hair’ too. Y’know, greasy at the roots, average or coarse in the mid-lengths and dry or fluffy toward the ends. Most generic shampoos for greasy hair strip roots of ANY oil but pre-shampoo conditioning masks or oil based leave-in-conditioners can often only be used on ends. It can feel like a crazy balancing act with too many specific products, time and money.

Here’s my hero duo…

Faith in Nature – Brave Botanicals, Shampoo (£4.50, 250ml) Shampoo which cleanses greasy roots, while Demask rose and Argan tame frizz and replenish important oils, to give hair strength and shine. Certified vegan and Cruelty Free Internal/BUAV approved. This also quite kind to coloured hair I’ve noticed.

Noughty Intensive Care, Leave-in Conditioner (£6.99, 150ml) One of the very few leave-in-conditioners which doesn’t leave roots feeling flat or heavy. Argan oil, Shea Butter and Natural Source Vitamin E leaves hair naturally balanced and healthy. Oh, and I’ve just noticed this conditioner has won multiple awards and is certified vegan.

If your hair is long and combination like mine, this duo will reduce your shower time dramatically and save the strength in your arms for styling!

Chrissie

 

 

Slap Stick Foundation LUSH

I care a lot about environment because the planet is my home and also home to so many other people, plants and creatures who depend on it functioning properly. I’m doing my best to support companies committed to reducing waste packaging or using recycled/recyclable packaging so I was looking forward to trying Slap Stick £16.95, 30g from LUSH. It’s a solid foundation egg, flat on one side and coated in wax (so you have some part to hold), which lives in a little cardboard box…

…That was until I opened it and it already looked a mess and then when I tried to lower it back into it’s box, I covered the sides in foundation and when I tried to close the lid it skimmed some foundation off the top of the stick! I get that LUSH are trying to reduce packaging but to reduce it to the size that it doesn’t actually fit the product? Ah – no.

The second thing that really attracted me to this product was the range has 40 shades, including warm, neutral and cool undertones and yellow/golden tones in general. The website matches the staff from LUSH to the shades in videos and there is a handy comparison photo showing three peoples arms sampling the whole range. I think I have pale-medium skin with warm (yellow) undertones as my veins look purple and teal; not blue or green as is the most common way you are supposed to be able tell. So I chose 12W.

The line in-between the shadow on my face near my ear and the glow of light on the front of my cheek, is where I’ve left the foundation unblended. Perfect match! Even though the stick looks too dark, the colour is surprisingly sheer but the coverage is still medium.

Slap Stick contains a massive 45% coconut oil as well as Jojoba oil so it moisturises skin. I know that some people do tend to break out with coconut oils because of allergies so I’m a little surprised they chose this ingredient but fortunately my dry skin absolutely loves it!

The texture is like a cream to powder compact and the only way I was able to spread it was to apply, leave for a few minutes and then spread with the warmth of my fingers. It stayed put all day though and covered any redness I had.

Rating 3/4

Chrissie

SaveSave

Monthly Round-up June

Style

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Find this in a pile of the Bloke’s old clothes and ‘adopted it’.

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I finally found two dresses, that hide my pizza handles; are a practical but un-frumpy length (at least for me) and aren’t too prom-dressy. Both from EMP.

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When you can’t be arsed hiding your natural resting bitch face, ha! This Casual Urban Summer outfit felt surprisingly cool (before the heatwave) and also worked well with gladiator sandals for casual evenings.

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I’ve been trying to find sunglasses like these very old ones but haven’t been having much luck, as I guess they are very early-2000’s in style. I’m also learning how to take selfies with a point and shoot camera…I need more practice.

Food and Drink

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Someone gave us an Aloe plant about a year ago and this is the first time that I used it in a drink. It tastes so bitter but if you only use half a finger, somehow that tartness goes away when you mix it with anything sweet, like perfectly ripe strawberries.

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The Bloke has bringing me veggie koftas by Gosh from the ‘posh’ Tesco in Didsbury. I don’t always have enough energy to make and fry my own falafel or to get to the deli before they close so these are a great alternative and last for ages in the fridge.

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We bought some chilli seeds around two months ago and now we have this lovely gangly thing. In the morning it raises it’s leaves and then bends toward the sun in an arch throughout the day. Just after sundown, it lowers it’s leaves again and stays still. I’ve just pollinated it, with it’s own flowers but I can’t see any yellow pollen so I have no idea if it worked and we will get chilli’s.

Beauty

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Hempz, Herbal range are some of the best products I’ve ever used to style my crazy, frizzy natural hair so they were a joy to review.

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These three are the most borrow-able items in my blokes bathroom and they smell great too so I thought I’d review them in Pinching My Blokes Skincare.

Lifestyle

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I was offered a free star map from Modern Map Art and chose to get one done for my Dad for Fathers Day. Here’s my review if you want to know more.

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I found this, which made me laugh as it was so appropriate at the time ^_^

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I’ve nearly finished series 5 of Gotham. It has it’s usual gangster slant and a new intelligent baddy for young Bruce. They’ve added more of a horror element this series and also the violence is less comic book and just plain graphic. I’m not a big fan of either of the above. Poison Ivy and Butch aren’t pictured here, probably for good reason, so as not to spoil the surprise of how they look.

I made this using the Geek Alphabet created by The Nifty Nerd. Such a great idea!

Chrissie

Pinching My Bloke’s Skincare

These are the best skincare products for men, which also work just as well on women too. Sometimes you only have a small amount of storage space in your bathroom or if you live separately, you can’t be bothered to lug a wash bag around every time you stay over, so why not share your basic skincare! I also think that certain scents can be very androgynous and so are sexy on everyone!

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Faith in Nature, Blue Cedar, Handmade Soap £1.99

BUAV approved; certified vegan; organic and SLS free, this soap is as kind as it gets. It’s also kind to every skin type and can be used for face and body, as it contains moisturising vitamin E and soothing green tea. The cedar scent is also super sexy!

Bull Dog Original Moisturiser £6.00

I cannot tell you how many moisturisers I’ve tried that either give my skin a ‘velvety’ texture (read ‘sucks all of the radiance out of it’) or they have a strong flowery scent or are cheap but too harsh for my complexion or are effective but way too expensive! This moisturiser, made with aloe vera, camelina oil and green tea is so calming and moisturising, without feeling too heavy. It also works well under many types of foundation – perfect! Oh yeah, my bloke loves it too, ha!

AA Skincare, Grapefruit & Cedarwood Deodorant £4.95

Another Cedarwood scent but much zingier due to grapefruit essential oil and Aloe Vera. I’m showing my age here but the scent reminds me of Impulse O2 body spray from the late 90’s – which the boys used to borrow of us. This isn’t an antiperspirant so no good for heavy exercise (as if!?) but a wonderful fresh and effective deodorant. It doesn’t contain any aluminium salts which can clog pores and is perfume and alcohol free so non-drying, equalling happy pits – I mean ‘under arms.’

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My bloke has just read this and actually snorted with laughter at the term ‘under arms’. “Do we have ‘under elbow’ and ‘under knee’ too or is that ‘side elbow and ‘side knee’? No wait, that sounds like our body parts are being bitchy, like ‘side eye'” I can’t imagine what else he’d come out with if he read my copy of Cosmopolitan.

Chrissie

 

 

Monthly Roundup – Feb & March

FEB

I’m going to start off with ‘Our Day’ as we call it because it’s around Valentine’s Day but it doesn’t HAVE to be on that exact date. We went to our favourite Asian vegetarian restaurant for traditional dishes, contemporary dishes and as many of the amazing mock meats we could fit!

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For Autumn and Winer and lets face it, most of spring in the UK I’ve taken to wearing JJH – Jumper, jeans and heels. For warmer days I pick a light knit with a wide neck, looser boot cut jeans and strappy heels. For colder days a chunky oversize knit, skinny jeans and high heeled ankle boots.

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After a busy afternoon or a night out at a gig, I’d be pretty useless the next day. I was being defeated by simple things like opening bottles, getting dressed and combing my hair, and also saying sentences which went around in circles without any point because I was really brain fogged as well as fatigued and utterly uncoordinated. So I sat down and kind of forced myself to think of 10 Reasons Why I Love My Wonky Body. The post got so many positive responses, from gentle encouragement to people saying they totally empathised and I’d made them feel better.

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I have to confess, in the 80’s I loved bumbags or fannypacks (for peeps in the US). Now the trend has been recycled into the more fashion friendly ‘belt bags’. So here are 12 Belt Bags for Spring.

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I also blogged 10 No Nonsense Life Lessons as it’s taken me a while to figure some of them out and I wished I’d have know all of them in teens and twenties.

Me and the Bloke celebrated Shrove…Pancake Day this year and made some rather substantial pancakes by adding too much flower – oops! We have them in the traditional neutral/savoury way, with lots of sugar and lemon.

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I always get flabby over winter from over eating and hibernating but I figured while the weather is cool I should get my butt moving now, before the weather gets too hot in Spring/Summer. I’m pretty pleased with the result, although those shiny nylon type of leggings act like cellophane (saran wrap) and do a lot of the work aesthetically!

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MARCH

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What a top night! The supporting band was Afro Cluster (reminds me of a retro hair product) who’s sound I’d describe as funky jazz hip-hop with a fantastic MC. Charles obviously knows his Northern Soul, trad soul and funk as he’s been doing this for over a decade now but I loved that he threw in three of Stevie Wonders funkiest tunes. Band On The Wall were lovely when it came to reserving me a banquette (as part of their disability accommodations) so I didn’t have any anxiety over standing in pain or passing out with heat fatigue.

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It snowed!!! Yes, as you can tell, I love snow. This is my view from the living room window. Rather Narnia-esque isn’t it? ^_^

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I’ve finally found a dairy-free chocolate and nut spread which tastes like Nutella, better actually! Here’s my review of Meridian Cocoa & Hazelnut Butter.

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Now the weather is getting milder (utterly indecisive) for Spring, I’m moving toward my trusty 90’s grunge look as the layering is so practical, plus, it’s more socially acceptable than going out in PJ’s.

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Eeeh, pie! For too long it has been a case of No woman, No pie, so for British Pie Week we accepted an invite to Pieminister on Church Street – which is quickly becoming my fave city centre street. I chose Wild Shroom pie; mushroom and asparagus in a creamy white wine sauce and the Bloke chose Saag Pie-neer; pea, paneer cheese, potato, chilli and mango, both with mash spud and gravy, of course (£7 for one).

The pies were amazing, pastry not too flakey, not too stodgy, with perfectly balanced flavours. I loved the mash but the Bloke thought it a little over-worked. He liked the gravy and I thought it would go perfectly with any pie on the menu but, for me, it didn’t taste savoury enough. Pieminister also offer three gluten free options but it depends were you go for your pie (pub, cafe, restaurant) as they aren’t available everywhere.

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It would seem that I’m going grey early, or rather, gold. My nearly black hair has been getting lighter and lighter, as have my pale green eyes, which are now a golden-amber shade. So does that mean I’m going to be a golden oldie? Haha! Sorry.

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I was sent this Hempz body moisturiser which has the scent of banana, which is just heavenly! It contains pure hemp seed oil, an absolute saviour for dehydrated, under nourished skin. It also contain Shea butter and ginseng to sooth skin (I used it after shaving my legs and it didn’t irritate them) and vitamins A, E and C to protect against environmental damage.

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We are growing a chilli plant, well it was three chilli plants but we killed the other two somehow. I was going to give it a name but the Bloke advised me not to get too attached, going off the overall survival rate.

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These Violife dairy free (and vegan) cheese slices taste like Kraft Cheese Slices but better. I’ve been melting them onto nachos in the microwave for 40 seconds for very melted on with salt and pepper or 20 seconds which is like that sweet, gooey, cinema cheese.

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I decided to check out Peacocks, a brand I used to love in my 20’s. They’ve gotten even better. I bought, beautiful lingerie, an initial cup, an initial makeup bag, a rose gold (and very sturdy) charging lead, and the most blinging hand-warmers and beanie I’ve ever seen. Everything I bought is well made, well fitting, reasonable priced, not to mention, very pretty!

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For anyone who is too old or just too damn cool for an easter egg, I did a little post of Dairy-free Chocoalte Treats for Easter.

Chrissie

Best of My Alternative & Urban Lifestyle 2017

January 

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Best footwear – Iridescent Nike ID with my name ‘Wench’ on the back.

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Best Chinese/Japanese/Thai Eatery – Lotus, Wilmslow Road, Withington, is a vegetarian family restaurant serving an amazing choice of mock meats and fish as well as traditional EA dishes.

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Best Cruelty-free Face Serum/Moisuriser/Oil – Eden’s Semilla Serums. If you have an uneven skin texture or your skin is dry/combination or you are seeing signs of ageing, then these two serums will leave your skin noticeably plumped, hydrated and balanced all day.

February

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Best Stationary – I bought this diary from Paperchase as I loved the colours and the layout. I decided to use it as a ‘Best thing today’ or ‘happiness’ journal where I write down anything positive that happened that day, even if it was just getting creative in the kitchen for lunch.

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Best Dairy-free Snack – These Ten Acre crisps taste amazing! I had three people insisting that they read the ingredients because they just couldn’t believe they were dairy free. Gluten and MSG free too.

March

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Best Cruelty-free, Temporary, Hair Dye – Manic Panick (the one in a tub) has a thick consistency which means it’s really easy to dip a tint brush into and apply, without getting it every where. It comes in every colour you can imagine and is gentle on coarse/dry/damaged hair. It started out a deep teal colour and has now faded to this after around 12 washes.

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Best Place To Buy Affordable Jeans – Matalan. Yup, for real. They do various fits with several styles in each. I chose a skinny, mid-rise style. Even if if you have a food-baby the next day it doesn’t matter because they stretch to fit, which also means you can wear them for ages before they go baggy at the knees and need washing.

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Best Cruelty-free Mens Skincare – My Bloke loves Bull Dog Original range because it doesn’t have a strong scent and is cruelty free with no unnecessary ingredients so it’s very simple yet effective.

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Best Place For Omnivores and Vegetarians To Eat Together – Zouk. I was invited to try their new menu and found that there were enough choices to keep me satisfied and the food was of good quality and cooked well. There’s also a little cocktail bar with a wonderful menu. I can imagine most groups of friends being happy here.

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Best Smoothie/Blended Drink Recipe – I will share this with anyone who will listen LOL Rice Milk/Soy Milk, Heaped tbl spn peanut butter, Medium banana, Maple syrup/Golden Syrup. Add Bournville choccy powder (mixed with a little cold milk first) to turn into a Snickers smoothie.

April

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Best Cruelty-free Nail Polish – I love the original colours and finishes that Zoya offer. I’ve also found that it’s very gentle on my brittle nails and last as long as other ‘long wear’ polishes which are double the price.

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Best Manchester Outdoor Space – Fletcher Moss. Is a beautiful landscaped garden filled with flowers, trees and a pond, with a little heather garden to the side. They have toilets (very rustic) and a cafe. Stenner Wood is right behind if you want to feel like you are in the countryside for a little while.

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Best Cruelty-free Household Product – Beauty Kitchen. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t dream of using beauty products tested on animals but never consider getting CF items for around the house. Gentle on sensitive and/or dry skin with a beautiful scent this organic hand wash is a winner.

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Best Alternative Online Shop – EMP have branched out from rock/goth wear, band merch and geek pop-culture to also include urban style. Honestly, I could browse it all day. Some clothing items can be a bit pricey (depending on the brand) but they have little twists of originality, are of high quality and the sizing charts are the most accurate I’ve come across.

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Best Dairy-free Easter Chocolate – Choices, found in Holland & Barrett and supermarket free-from isles – if you are lucky. Remember those white mice you used to get as a kid? Well this is 100% better!

May

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Best Spirit – Dark rum in general of course but has to be Sailor Jerry, followed very closely by The Kraken. SJ took it for their perpetually creative labelling.

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Best Unexpected Bargain – I got bored while my bloke was in the army surplus shop and found this tiny vest on sale! I chopped the neck out slightly so it was more flattering.

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Best Tidy Solution – I used this pretty box a prezzie came in and an old watch tin a friend gave me to store the makeup that I use daily. I’ve chucked out anything that really wasn’t working for me and the rest (very similar colours to what’s here already or party makeup) is in a transparent wash bag under the sink. So much quicker to see what I’ve got and where it is!

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Best Indian Eatery – Hands down has to be Lilly’s in Ashton, Greater Manchester. They have an extensive but comprehensive menu of the most delicious vegetarian food. From hearty traditional dishes to quick street food for lunch and creative combinations of ingredients on their Indo-Chinese menu, you will want to visit several times to try it all.

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Best Cruelty-free Makeup Brand – Elf. Every single one of their product I’ve used has worked perfectly for me. Products are true to how they’ve been shown/described on the site, they are easy to apply and long wearing. Worst goes to Soap & Glory – just ugh!

 June

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Best Charity Merchandise – This One Love Manchester jumper I bought for the survivors of the Manchester Arena bombing. Obviously being a Manc this is very close to my heart but I genuinely love the graffiti style of lettering.

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Best Cruelty-free Shampoo – Weleda, Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash. Rarely have I come across a shampoo that is so gentle on my coarse frizzy hair as this. Some ‘natural’ shampoo’s I’ve used have left my hair matted and feeling like straw but I didn’t even need conditioner after this! As usual I just oiled my hair when it was still damp and left to air dry. Perfect.

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Best Full Vegetarian or Vegan Eatery – V Revolution. Creative American-style fast food, which is surprisingly healthy and tastes of individual ingredients, rather than salt and ketchup. Order a White Russian cocktail for a glass of heaven.

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Best Energy Drink or Snack – I had to go with Rockstar as they taste like fizzy pop, rather than that sickly, slightly medicinal thing other energy drinks have going on. I fill a drinks bottle with 2/3 energy drink, 1/3 water and a pinch of salt and sip it when I’m flagging to keep my energy and electrolyte levels up. One bottle usually lasts me two days.

July

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Best Cruelty-free All Round Moisturiser – Faith in Nature Coconut Body Lotion. I use this on my body and my face as it’s thin enough to sink in quickly without being oily.

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Best Accessory – I’ve looked at so many pins from various places this year. This Milk & Moon one was thoughtfully packaged and the gold and black theme looks classy rather than cartoonish, which is what I wanted.

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Best Book – Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (YA Fiction) is the perfect blend of fantasy and every day, which escalates to serious proportions. Easy to read, with engaging characters and a plot which could lead literally anywhere.

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Best Funko Pop! – I have to go with The Cheshire Cat from (the modern) Alice in Wonderland. He’s so quirky-cute and makes me smile every time I notice him. Plus the fur and stripe detailing is really well done.

August

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Best Cruelty-free Skin Treatment – Murad Radiance Peel has transformed my skin from being dull, flakey and hopeless to being smooth, radiant and able to absorb moisturisers, serums and oils.

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Best Book I Would Recommend – I do love The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern but the first part of the book, before the two main characters even meet was hard going for me. However, I thought the rest was wonderful and utterly absorbing.

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Best Impromptu Selfie – I took this while I was waiting to get ready for a night out and liked it so much more than the one I took when I was ready! Check out my sexy owl PJ’s lol

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Best Alternative/Urban OOTD – I usually like to mix alt and urban style but I decided to go all out rock festival with this one for Summer.

September

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Best Surprising Food Combo – Edamame and Avocado. Followed closely drinking Tia Maria with seaweed/miso/Chinese flavoured food. Try it ^_^

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Best (Gluten Free) Larger – Peroni has always been my fave larger for how light and refreshing it is, and now they’ve started doing a gf one, which is just as good.

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Best Everyday Look – I love this outfit because it’s practical, flattering and represents the Gorton girl in me with the hoodie and big sparkly hoop earrings. I can also take my hoodie off and have a nice top underneath for evening.

October

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Best Place To Buy Lingerie/Nightwear – Boux Avenue make THE BEST bra’s. Pretty but comfortable and in a flattering range of styles and colours. Their night/lounge wear is also really lovely.

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Best Gluten Free Pizza – Pizza Express by a mile. They also have other great gf options and are very understanding of dietary requirements.

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Best High Street/Drug Store Cruelty-free Makeup – Well, Topshop makeup is new to me as I’d never used it before. Affordable, great colour payoff, easy to apply and stays put. I’m really impressed!

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Best Dairy Free Choccy – Sarelle is like a Fererro Rocher but with sweet dark chocolate, rather than milk. This is a decent sized choccy bar but it still isn’t big enough, ha!

November

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Best Cruelty-free Party Makeup – Barry M, Matte Me Up lip linner and lip paint. Metallic, yet oddly matte this is actually really wearable for anyone with an olive-dark skin tone. I think if you were paler, you would be making a much bigger statement with it.

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Best Fashion Trend – Apart from Rosegold – which I’ve always liked since I was a 13 year old looking at jewellery in the Argos catalogue – it has to be knitwear with subtle corset and grunge detailing, mainly fraying, large gaps in the crochet and random lacing.

December

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Best Veggie Sweets – Made with real fruit juice, these Organic Mini Fruit Bears by Biona are possibly the tastiest sweets I’ve ever tried. Everyone I know who’s tried them – loved them.

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Best Tech – Nokia 105. You can drop it, accidentally sit on it, play different versions of Snake on it, it’s a petty retro colour, it has a torch which is actually effective, it’s really light weight, no scally will want to rob it off you and you will only need to charge it twice in your life time. Bargain!

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Best Cruelty-free Lipbalm/Skin Saviour – I know that I could just buy a big cheap jar of coconut oil from the local market but Dr. Organic is organic (duh), contains an SPF 15 and is so handy to carry around. One of the very few things that makes any noticeable difference to my lips at all.

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Best Healthy Convenience Food – This veggie sushi from Tesco is as tasty as it is pretty.

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Best Homeware – I love the duck egg blue colour of this Tesco blanket and it is unbelievably soft! I live in it now – we are one.

Best Alternative/Independent High Street Shop – Aflecks, Tib Street/Oldham Street (established the year I was born – a fact which I love). This giant maze-like building s an Alladin’s cave of independent shops. I don’t know any other place where you will find quality fancy dress, vinyl records, American candy, vintage clothes, Japanese imports, band merchandise, a vegan shop, a cute cafe, a clothes embellishing and customising service, retro toys/collectibles, rave/rock/urban clothing, cruelty free makeup and hair dye, along with piercing, tattooing and hairdressing studio’s.

I hope you enjoyed my alternative 2017 awards!

Chrissie

McCall’s Organics – A Great Resource for Dairy-free & Gluten-free Vegetarians in Manchester

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McCall’s Organics is located on Church Street, where the family have been trading since 1920! They stock fresh fruit and veg, baking goods, snacks, veggie pâté, veggie ready meals, fresh bread, spreads, healthy drinks, cruelty free beauty and household goods, dairy free cheese and chocolate.

Usually in a small-ish shop I have to really search to find anything gluten or dairy free and have even been so pleased to find something that I haven’t noticed it contained meat! McCall’s stocked every single veggie free-from thing that I usually buy, apart from the Genius brand, which I can get from any supermarket anyway. It was like someone had made a shop just for me!

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Here is my shopping, you might have noticed I’ve reviewed some of these before. I would have gotten more but this is all I could carry. (clockwise in a spiral sort of shape) Eat Real Quinoa Chips in Sundried Tomato and Roasted Garlic; These are so tasty and perfect for scooping up humus or guac. Free and Easy Tomato Soup; I’ve really missed Heinz cream of tomato soup and this is fairly sweet with a lovely thick consistency. V Pud, veggie black pudding which, although not perfect, is very recognisable as black pudding and very tasty. Vio Life Pizza Cheese; Not only does this melt well and grate well but it actually tastes of pizza! Bouja Bouja Hazelnut Truffles; Little sweet choccy truffles with a light dusting of bitter choccy on the outside (best kept in the fridge so they don’t go too gooey). Kingfisher Toothpaste (they stock various flavours) which is cruelty free of course. Free and Easy Vegetable Balti is a spicy vegetable stew type of curry, which is great with rice but surprisingly filling on it’s own. Weleda Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash for kids but I love it as it makes my course hair incredibly soft and shiny. Organic Smoked Tofu; I like this fried with white onion and yellow sweet pepper, with added salt and pepper. Faith in Nature Soap, which helps to balance skin, rather than dehydrating it. Ecoleaf Aloe vera Handwash (not seen), which is antibacterial, cares for skin and only has a subtle scent so perfect when cooking.

What are your favourite free-from and cruelty free shops?

Chrissie