Tuesday, 28 April 2015

#reviewsdaytuesday: Oil Pulling

There are many British stereotypes that I adhere to: my love of tea, my over use of the word 'sorry', and, sadly, my teeth. I've always had wonky teeth because my mouth is ridiculously small (as in, I've had to have 6 adult teeth removed and worn braces for two years and my teeth still don't fit right), and due to lackluster dental hygiene they've always been a bit on the yellow side (probably due to all that tea I've been drinking).

So, when I saw Kylie Jenner advertising 'Coco White' on Instagram, I googled the company to see what they were about. As far as I could tell, they were advertising sachets of flavoured coconut oil, which you're suppose to swill around in your mouth for 10-20 minutes each day. The result, they claim, is whiter teeth, healthier gums, reduced bad breath and better all around oral hygiene. All for the somewhat extortionate price of £19.99 (without shipping).

After a little more research I found out that 'oil pulling' is actually an ancient Indian medical practice and has been used in oral hygiene for thousands of years. The theory is that the oil draws out toxins and bacteria in your mouth. Needless to say, Coco White wasn't around in ancient India, they just used whatever oil that could, so I decided to save the money and just use the oil I had around in the house anyway! Coconut oil was the most appealing out of my options, so I tried that.

I took a small tablespoon, poured the oil out (I had warmed it in the microwave first as coconut oil is solid at room temperature), and spooned it into my mouth. I'm not going to lie, it felt really strange.

At first the hardest thing to do was not to swallow. You have to hold the oil in your mouth for a really long time and it feels very unnatural. On the first day I only did it for 5 minutes before spitting out into the bin (not the sink, it can really clog up your pipes!), but my mouth did feel cleaner afterwards. I made it part of my routine to pop a tablespoon of oil in my mouth before my shower each morning and spit it out afterwards.

The oil grows in size as you use it (partly due to your own saliva, partly due to the stuff its pulling out) and you can really see it working (it turns milky with gunk). I haven't noticed a huge difference in the whiteness of my teeth, but looking at the pictures they certainly look whiter!

The lighting change makes it a bit hard to tell how much whiter my teeth have actually got, but it does showcase nicely how small my mouth is...

Everywhere I've read says that you're meant to use this technique for two weeks. Today is day 14, so that means my oil pulling experiment is over. I'm thinking about keeping it up for a little longer though to see if I can see more effects from it, and I'll update on Twitter (@VickiMaitland) if I stop or notice any huge changes.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Shopping at Lush and Checking Your Privilege.

I love Lush. I love their ethics. I love that all the products are organic. I love that they are a cruelty free company. I love that all their products smell amazing. I love the quality of their products on delivering their promises.

As much as I love all of this, and despite one of my recent Instagram posts, I will admit to becoming a bit tired of seeing huge Lush hauls, mostly because Lush products are expensive.

I am a huge fan of the Lush shampoo and conditioner bars - my shampoo bar has lasted me from NYE till now (and I expect it will last me to the end of the month). I've gone through 6 (ish) bottles of conditioner in the same time as one shampoo bar, and I am expecting the same results from my conditioner bar. The hair mask Roots and the hair treatment R&B have been similarly long lasting as you only need a tiny bit of product to get good results. The deodorant bar I use (review here) will easily see me through till the end of June, and I'm pretty sure the lip scrub I've got will go out of date before I've got to the bottom of it, despite using it every time I wear lippy.

However, some of Lush's other products are much less economical and can be very expensive for the amount of use you get out of them.

Take for example a bath bomb.

If you are regularly buying Lush bath bombs, and regularly enjoying hour long soaks in the tub, I think you are probably someone who needs to check their privilege. (I mean this in the kindest of ways).

Lush bath bombs range in price for between £2.75 and £4 (ish). So, if you're having a bath using this bath bomb, you are having a £3.50 bath. You want bubbles in that bath? A Lush bubble bar will set you back between £3-£5. Admittedly you can get more uses from one bubble bar than they advertise (they say use a whole bubble bar per bath, but it depends on how many bubbles you like). Let's say that you can get two uses from your bubble bar. That's about £2.50 added onto the cost of your bath.

Already you've got a £6 bath. This isn't including heating/water costs.

Baths like these are not practical: you don't use them to get clean, you use them to relax. This means you've got the free time (the most expensive thing of all) to have and enjoy a bath. The process of drawing a bath can be quite long winded, and I know I've had baths where I've soaked for an hour or so.

What I'm trying to say with all of this is: There are lots of people (beauty bloggers etc) who can make it seem like having a hundred or so pounds (£) of Lush products ready to go is the norm, and it really isn't. For the vast majority of us a Lush bath is a treat.

Checking privilege isn't about backing down from an argument (although it can be), but rather about acknowledging that not all people have the same circumstances, and that yours might be from a place of 'privilege'. Racial/ethnic background, sexuality, gender identity, and economic status all play a part.

I don't think this post was quite as coherent as I wanted it to be, but I am writing this after 3 hours of sleep, 22km of cycling, and after almost fainting earlier in the day.

In short: Lush products are luxury products for many (despite their high-street status). Having and using them regularly is probably a sign that you have a disposable income, and therefore that you are probably coming from a place of privilege (no matter how hard you may have worked to get there).

Any thoughts? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The 'Me Time' Tag

As promised, after Friday's post thinking about priorities I thought I'd take a step back and reevaluate my own 'consumption of time' (for want of a better phrase). The 'Me Time' tag was a collaborative project between Estee and Amelia.

Q1) What do you read or watch in your 'me time'? I have got super into The West Wing recently, and that's been my go to TV show for the past few weeks. Sadly I don't have access to it at uni (boo hiss), so my down time is mostly spent watching YouTube. Bob's Burgers is a great one for an essay break as they're only 20 minutes long. I'm (still) currently reading Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, so that's my 'me time' bath read at the moment!

Q2) What do you wear? I'm pretty boring and I'll just wear my average day to day clothes. I'm not a huge fan of trackie bottoms or hoodies, so if I want something super comfy I'll probably just pull on a pair of harems, a loose t-shirt and a snugly sweater. I used to always be a bra on gal, but recently I've been enjoying the freedom of going bra-less on a down day.

Q3) Beauty products? I'll normally have a bath on a 'me time' day, so I'll toss in a bath bomb (if I have one, they're such a treat - actually they'll be a post up soon about why bath bombs are a sign you may need to check your privilege, but that's for another day). I'll put on a hair mask - either make my own from coconut oil and castor oil or (as that's a bit messy and coconut oil can clog up pipes really badly) I'll massage some Roots into my scalp and let it tingle! I'll put on a face mask - any of the ones from my 'Mission Skin' post depending on where the mood takes me. After the bath I'll always take the time to do a full body moisturise (I just use Superdrug's own brand Vitamin E moisturiser) or at this time of the year I like to do a bit of gradual tanning - I use Turn Me On by UR CHEEKY gradual tan and let me tell you there isn't too much gradual about it! Normally 'me time' means a no make-up day, but if there's the chance I need to look presentable I'll slap a bit of concealer under my eyes and a flick of mascara on my lashes and Bob's your mother's brother.

Q4) Current favourite nail polish? I have been loving the Barry M Speedy Quick Dry polish in Pit Stop - it's such a great neutral colour. I also love Sally Hansen's Good to Grape polish (although that's not cruelty free - it was a gift!). Painting my nails can feel like it takes forever sometimes, so on a 'me time' day I take my time and put on an episode of my favourite show to watch whilst my polish drys.

Q5) What do you eat and drink? I will always have a nice big cup of tea during my 'me time' - a friend recently gave me a box of Teapig's Popcorn Tea which is an extra special treat. Give me a couple of malted milks and a bar of dark chocolate and I'm sorted! A nice freshly blended smoothie will also do the trick during summer.

Q6) Current favourite candle? I love minty scents - I think they're so clean and refreshing, and my sister got me a Candy Cane Yankee Candle for Christmas that I've been eeking out. Sainsbury's do a nice Madagascan vanilla one too. If I had the money I would splash out on a soy candle, but student living doesn't allow those frivolities!

Q7) Do you have 'outdoor me time'? In the spring/summer I love going for walks around the fields where I live. I'll either pop on a comedy pod cast or my favourite album and I'll just go for a wander. If it's super hot reading outside in the sun is just the best thing ever.

Q8) Would you go and see a movie alone? I haven't, and I don't know if I would. I'm not a huge cinema fan - unless it's a really big film I don't see the point in spending the money and I'd much rather watch it in the comfort of my own sofa.

Q9) Favourite online stores? If you saw my back to school haul you'll know I am a big fan of boohoo.com, ASOS is pretty good too . I don't actually shop much online - usually I'll have seen something in store first then I'll go back and buy it online if its not in my size or something.

Q10) Anything you like to do during 'me time'? I really enjoy re-ordering my bookshelves - so if I've got the time that will be a 'me time' activity. Going through old photos, letters and ticket stubs etc is really lovely way to spend down time too. A scroll through my Instagram feed is nice if the physical copies aren't there, as it reminds me of happy memories and days when I was feeling myself.

I'm tagging anyone else who wants to take part - tweet me (@VickiMaitland) to let me know that you've taken part! I'm also going to tag a couple of fellow bloggers, Katie and Gemima. I know tags might not be your thing though, girls, so no pressure!

Friday, 17 April 2015


Michael Aranda posted an interesting video on his WhatI'mDoingRightNow channel the other day where he talked briefly about the way we think about time (and, more importantly, our free time). If you want to watch the video, the piece I'm referring to is 2:25 in, and lasts for about a minute and a half.

I am always moaning that I don't have time for things. Mostly, I moan that I haven't had the time to read for pleasure. I love reading. Curling up with a good book, a cup of herbal tea, and a couple of chunks of dark chocolate or a couple malted milks is honestly one of my favourite ways to spend an evening. At uni, I rarely do that. I claim that it's because I haven't go the time, but as Michael so astutely pointed out, it's because it's not a priority.

I'm not going to claim it's as simple as that. I have leisure time at uni. I just choose to spend the vast majority of that time on the internet watching people like Michael, or else socialising with my friends and housemates. I regret the amount of time I spend on the internet, and it honestly saddens me when I look back on my day and see how many times I've checked Facebook, or else count up the minutes (sometimes hours) I've spent watching YouTube videos.

I don't necessarily prioritise these things over reading because they are more important to me or because they give me greater pleasure. I mostly prioritise them because they give me the kind of stress relief that I need.

My degree is very reading heavy. I spend hours of my day either reading my own work or the work of others. By the end of that day, as much as I adore reading, I am fed up of it. I want to have a break and wind down, not only my mind but also my eyes. Watching YouTube on a low light setting is a lot kinder on my eyes than continuing to read. That's the sad truth.

So, yes, priorities have something to do when choose our activities, and they definitely have a part to play in picking our work activities. But they aren't the be-all and end-all, and it's interesting to look at the other reasons you may have for picking one task over another.

However, it's important to remember that you also need to look after your mental health. Sometimes prioritising an activity that might not be important in terms of school or your career but is important to your well being is an important thing to do. Taking time out for yourself (in balance) is such a healthy way to live. Don't always push your favourite things down your priorities list, or else they might drop off altogether, and take your well being with them.

What fun activities do you wish you could prioritise over practical things? What is your favourite way to spend your 'Me Time'? Leave a comment below, Tweet me @VickiMaitland, or tag me in an Instagram photo of your doing your favourite thing!

As we're thinking about Me Time, my next post will be the Me Time Tag - started by two of my favourite beauty YouTubers Estee and Amelia.

On a final note, Michael Aranda, whose video inspired this post, is one of the most consistent YouTubers I've ever seen. His daily vlog channel is very well edited (I find a lot of daily vloggers to be very rambling), and although due to technical reasons he's a couple of weeks backlogged, his videos are always entertaining. Or, at least, I have become invested enough in his life that I find them interesting. If you are able to prioritise watching a YouTube video, check out his channel, he really is very good.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mini e.l.f Haul and #reviewsdaytuesday

 The other week I was reading one of my favourite cruelty free beauty blogs and it sent me into a panic with the news that e.l.f would no longer be distributing in the UK. e.l.f is one of my favourite budget cruelty free brands, and if you've read any of my make-up look posts then you'll have seen that e.l.f products are a huge part of my everyday make-up routine. I abandoned Gemima's blog post mid read and dashed (metaphorically) to their store to try and pick up some products before they were gone for good! Sadly my favourite pressed powder and liquid eyeliner were already out of stock, but I took the opportunity to treat my self to some cut price (up to 70% off!) cruelty free, vegan treats before e.l.f were gone forever (although in good news, they may be returning in the next couple of months).

I was a little disappointed with how slowly these items arrived (they took 10 days from order to delivery), and I know I've had slow orders from e.l.f before - however I did order them just before Easter bank holiday, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt. It helped that they threw in a free tote bag too - what a lovely surprise! I won't be giving full reviews of these products as I've only had them since Saturday, but I've tried them all once so I'll try and give a bit of a feel to how they measure up to their claims.

Top to Bottom: Studio Cream Blush in Seductress, Studio Cream Blush in Flirt, HD Blush in Superstar, HD Blush in Headliner)

HD Blush in Headliner

HD Blush in Superstar

HD Blush (Headliner and Superstar) - 

The Claim: Naturally sculpts and highlights for a soft focus effect that is great for everyday use. The Vitamin E enriched formula conditions and hydrates the skin for a healthy glow. The velvety soft, lightweight and highly pigmented colour creates long lasting result for all day wear.

These HD Blushes pack a bunch of colour. They have a beautiful light creamy consistency (almost whipped) and are really blendable. Less is definitely more, and you barely need a pump of product. I was very nervous the first time I used it after pumping out a full squirt when I first opened the product - it stained the back of my hand for hours afterwards (which, I suppose is a testament to its longevity) - but it's a very buildable colour, so you won't lose anything by starting slowly. The end result is perfectly described on the packet as 'soft focus'. I apply this product to the back of my hand, then stipple it onto my cheeks with my finger before blending out the edges with a brush, but I think a beauty blender would be great with this product, or even just a stippling brush. So far Superstar is my favourite out of all the blushes - it's got a beautiful coral tone to it which is perfect for spring.

Studio Cream Blush in Flirt

Studio Cream Blush in Seductress
Studio Cream Blush (Flirt and Seductress) -

The Claim: Smooths on as a cream and finishes as a velvety soft powder for long lasting rich colour that's never greasy. Easy to blend for layering and building colour for sculpting, highlighting and adding dimension. Lightweight and refreshing formula looks natural and radiates a beautiful glow for all skin types.

The way this product turns from cream to powder is staggering, and it honestly does feel velvet soft - I wanted to stroke my cheeks all day after applying it! I think it's actually a little more difficult to blend out than the HD Blush, mostly due to the differing consistencies of the products, but the colour is a less powerful so requires a little less blending anyway. This is not to say that this blush is delicate - you still get a lot of colour for the amount of product you use! I've been applying this product with my fingers and blending with a brush, but I might try applying it directly from the pot with a brush to see if that helps it blend any easier. I'm very impressed with the wear of this product - it's definitely long lasting!

Left to Right: Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Coco Loco, Sangria Starters and Tiki Torches

Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Coco Loco

Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Sangria Starters

Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick in Tiki Torches

Jumbo Lip Gloss Stick (Tiki Torches, Sangria Starters and Coco Loco) -

The Claim: This long wearing tinted lip colour glides on like a lip stick but looks like a gloss. With nourishing Jojoba, Soybean and Vitamin E ingredients it conditions and moisturises the lips. The twist up component and smooth glide formula is easy to use for on the go comfort.

I don't think this product applies like a lipstick or looks like a lip gloss, but I love it anyway! It feels, applies, and looks more like a tinted balm than anything else, and it doesn't dry out the lips at all. It isn't a pigmented as the Barry M Cor Balmy lip balms, but the delicate colours (particularly in Sangria Starters and Coco Loco) are very flattering. They really give a 'your lips but better' look, and would be perfect for a natural make-up look. Tiki Torches is a lovely colour but the flakes of glitter in it are slightly too big for my liking, but I bet it would look great at a spring/summer party. I love the smell of these Lip Gloss Sticks - they smell like minty crayons (which is lovely). Sangria Starters is definitely my favourite so far as I really think it brings out my natural lip colour, but that being said Coco Loco is a great brown tinted nude too. I've just had a look on the website but it looks like all the Jumbo Lip Gloss Sticks have sold out - sorry if any of these took your fancy, hopefully e.l.f will be back soon!

All of these products totaled in at just over £12, shipping included, which I think was a real bargain. I'll be so sad to see e.l.f go and I really hope they manage to set up a new UK distribution service soon!

If you're sad to see e.l.f go, or can recommend another cheap cruelty free brand, please Tweet me @Vicki Maitland or leave a comment below, or tag me (@vickimaitland) in your Instagram pics showing off your favourite e.l.f products!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Know Your Body (Still Learning)

I've written a few posts about my body, the way I look at it and the way I treat it. But I'm still learning a lot about myself and the way I function, especially in the two years I've lived away from home whilst studying at uni.

1) Sleep. One of the biggest things I've learnt about myself is that if I get 4 hours sleep I can function well (in the short term), or if I get 8-9 hours of sleep I can function well (in the long term). Anywhere in between or outside those I am a big, tired mess. For most of my life I've had a pretty strict sleep schedule, decided mostly by when I have to get up the next morning. At uni I don't have to get p every morning to be somewhere, so it's been interesting to learn how I best function and what works for me.

2) Mornings. On top of this, I've also reaffirmed my belief that I am a morning person. I'm at my most productive when I've started work by about 9am, and I tend to have switched off by 7pm. This also means I like eating early (in both the morning and the evening) and getting an early night (in bed by 10:30pm), which isn't always possible when uni social life tends to happen after hours.

3) Veg. I love vegetables. At uni it's a rare day when I don't have all of my 5 a day and then some. At home, I very rarely eat 5 a day - mostly because our meals are based around a meat and carb combination (ie. cottage pie, lasagna, roasts). My meals at uni are almost always centred around vegetables and they form the base of any meal I eat (don't worry, I still get my protein - mostly from nuts and cheese). I really feel the difference when I come home, and though there is often more fruit around the house I really miss the veg!

4) Periods. I've noticed my hunger levels change drastically depending what time of the month it is, particularly since being on the combination pill. If I've used the pill off licence (ran over, so I skip a bleed week), it really throws my body off and I get a lot more cravings. As soon as I get my period, my appetite drops off and stays that way till the week before my next period. If you are someone who gets periods, it can be really interesting to map a pattern in your hunger levels (among other things), as hormones can have a huge influence on how we act. I used to be so hard on myself for overeating in the week leading up to my period, but now I know that for the three weeks during and after my appetite returns to 'normal' I'm a lot kinder to my cravings!

5) Exercise. I have never enjoyed working out, but I've come to realise how much my body values exercise. Leaving the house, going for a short walk, cycle or jog makes so much difference to the enjoyment of my day, and to my state of mind.

What I'm trying to say with all this is that it's vital to learn how your body functions best, and though I'm still learning a lot about myself I feel like I've come a long way in the last few years. The body is a machine, and how you treat it (and what you fuel it with) will affect a huge amount of your life - not only the way you act but also the way you look and think about yourself.

Let me know what you've learnt about your body in the comments below, or send me a tweet @VickiMaitland.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

On Awkward Meet-ups

It's always a little daunting when you arrange to see someone you haven't seen or spoken to in a long time. You're never quite sure if they'll be the person you've remembered them as and you're certain you're not still the person they knew you as, and you don't know how they'll react to that change. It's more nerve-wracking when the last time you spoke wasn't on good terms, even worse when it's your ex and you haven't seen or spoken to them in the last seven months.

My advice? Try not to worry too much about it. Accept that you'll have both changed, and that those changes are probably a good thing. You'll both have grown and (hopefully) matured, so there's no need bringing up old issues which probably aren't relevant anymore and are just going to cause unnecessary tension. If you want to (and are making the effort to) see them after however long, chances are they are (or were) someone who was important to you. There was a reason for that. The worst thing that will happen is that you'll go back to not speaking to them, or you won't meet up again. Considering that's been the situation for the past however-many months, chances are it'll be okay.

I know I was almost ill I was so worried about how I'd react when I saw someone who had hurt me, but once we got talking I remembered exactly why we had been best friends for so long. Things weren't back to the way there were, and there was always going to be awkwardness and a bit of a guard up, but afterwards I felt so much better - not only about the person but about the whole situation surrounding them.

Have you had to meet up with someone you haven't seen in ages (friend, family member, ex-significant other)? How did it go? Any advice for someone else? Tweet me @VickiMaitland or leave a comment below.

Friday, 3 April 2015


I don't often have strong associations with words. In my first poetry seminar we were asked to write our favourite word on the board. I wrote something along the lines of 'mystery'. This was partly because I do quite like the sound of the word, and partly because I was afraid of spelling the word I actually really like the sound of the best (serendipity) wrong. But I don't have a favourite word based purely on meaning. Words alone don't tend to speak to me. But there is one word I have grown to dislike.


I hate the word after. It makes my palms clam up and gives me a sticky sensation in my stomach. Not only does it imply that the thing you are currently doing will end, but it also implies a time beyond that where you should have figured out what you're going to do.

For me, after has come in two questions recently, both of which have struck fear into my heart,

1) 'What are you going to do after you graduate?'
2) 'Do you think you're going to keep seeing him after you leave uni?'

Both of these terrify me. I love plans, I'm a big plan maker and to-do-list creator. I like to know what's going on, and even if the plans change I like to be kept in the loop.

This being said, I like to go with the flow. I'm quite a laid back person, and I don't like to set things in stone if it means I'm going to potentially miss out on something better at a later date. Especially when it comes to relationships with people, I tend to be a little afraid of arranging things too far in the future as people and situations can change pretty quickly.

The combination of these two characteristics means that I've got all these ideas about where I want to go and what I want to do, but no real path to take me there.

I know I'm a victim of circumstance. I took a degree to postpone real life for a bit, to further improve myself, and because for me there was never any other option which appealed. Now that I've come to the end of that plan, I've got this huge window of opportunity in front of me. There are all these huge helium balloons floating just out of arms reach. 'Editor in a big name publishing house' one reads. 'Marketing and Publicity for LUSH' says another. 'Travel' a third. 'Just write' a fourth. It goes on and on. It takes a jump to grasp any of them, and I definitely can't grab two at once. I'm just worried my fingers will slip on the rope and I'll fall.

My feet are over the edge of the ledge, what happens after I jump?