Skin care routine – Revised

Last year in September I wrote a post about my newfound ideal skincare routine. It involved doing absolutely nothing to my skin except washing my face twice a day. I kept it up for a few months and it kind of worked, until I flew back to Europe over Christmas and my skin turned into a desert.
My skin is naturally on the dry side, however since I live in New Zealand I haven’t really experienced THE REAL WINTER: Wellington is very wet even when it’s cold, so in the past year and a half I’ve had to deal with different skin issues.
But while in Italy I knew I needed some extra moisture. Since I hadn’t brought any face cream with me, I thought I’d be a good idea to hunt for something locally made and as Zero Waste as possible. My mum is a big fan of L’Erbolario (they are awesome: all their products are cruelty free and locally made, mostly packaged in glass, and the company is really into environmental sustainability and social responsibility), so we went to one of their shop where I purchased this amazing face cream which I mainly picked because it smells delicious (it’s made with Argan leaves) but also because it was recommended for skin types that are prone to dryness.

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Back home it really helped make my skin softer and more nourished, and I’m still using it now that I’m back in New Zealand.
So in the morning I still only wash my face with lukewarm water, then apply this face cream and that’s it.

In the evening, though, I decided to spice things up a little, especially because when I came back from Europe it was the middle of an uncommonly hot summer, which required me to wash off layers and layers of sunscreen every night.
I’d seen the local vegan community writing good reviews on this particular face wash barso I thought I’d give it a go. It’s made of activated charcoal, French clay and peppermint oil, and it’s designed to remove impurities and fight blemishes, which I have a bunch of. It’s going down quite quickly and I can definitely see myself purchasing it again because I love it.

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After my face is all nice and clean, I take a homemade cotton round (find out how to make your own here), and I tone my skin with Thayers alcohol-free rose petal witch hazel toner (could the name be any longer?). This is definitely not a Zero Waste product but I’ve been wanting to try this toner for years and I eventually gave in – hopefully it’ll last me a long time. I really like it so far and my skin definitely feels cleaner at the end of the day.

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In those rare occasions when I wear make up, I would use a bar of African Black Soapwhich is a bit drying for me so I need to make sure I moisturise profusely afterwards. However I still prefer to remove my make up with this rather than coconut oil, as I found that coconut oil makes me break out if I use it too much.

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(My homemade face scrub is still coconut oil-based, but I only use it maybe twice a month. You can find the recipe for that here.) Talking about scrubs, I also have this face polish that I got from work, I’ve only used it once so far and it’s very gentle which I appreciate.

As for moisturiser, I switch between a few products at night.
The first one is my loyal and forever favourite Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask by Origins, also not Zero Waste but I’ve had the same bottle since way before I even started thinking about reducing my impact on the planet. In fact, I purchased this baby in Canada back in 2013. I haven’t used it every single day, but man this face mask will last you! A tiny bit really goes a long way, and as I’m approaching the bottom of it I’m getting more and more torn on whether I want to repurchase it. I do love it a lot but it obviously come in plastic and – alas – Origins is not cruelty free (they sell their products in China). So yeah I guess the answer is pretty straightforward.

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I also got myself some rosehip oil, which I’ve had my eyes on for a while. Other than coconut oil, I had never used “liquidy” oils on my skin and I was very intrigued. I can’t say love it (I really don’t like the smell), but it does the job: the morning after my skin feels soft and nourished. I picked rosehip oil because it’s supposed to help with discolouration and even out your skin tone, but I don’t think I’ve been consistent enough in using it to see any results just yet.

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Talking about oils, the final product I’ve been using is Jason’s Vitamin E oilwhich I also got from work.
(I should specify, I do get free skincare products from work, and that’s the reason why I have so much stuff. I’m experimenting, but mostly I wouldn’t go out of my way to purchase all these products, especially since most of them come in plastic.)
Anyway, I haven’t been using this oil for very long but I am LOVING it so far. I might even dare to say it’s running right behind the Origins overnight mask in my favourite skincare products ever.

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Finally, I’m still using up the Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque that I’ve had for ages, I’m almost out now but this is something I’m definitely not going to buy again. Its successor is going to be this Antipodes mask which I also got from work, I’ve used it once so far and I like it, although my favourite face mask ever will forever be Mask of Magnaminty from Lush, which I haven’t used since I ran out of it last year but I am considering getting myself some when I go back to London in October.

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Overall, my skin feels good. I regularly get a few pimples on my chin when I’m on my period but I know that’s hormonal and there’s nothing I can do about it. (Also this is new for me: I used to get pimples on my cheeks or around my nose, as well as some small bumps on my forehead, but only recently I started getting them on my chin. I wonder what it means?) I’m eating pretty healthy since I started working in this organic supermarket, but I also know food has nothing to do with the state of my skin. Finally, I’m not drinking enough water, which is also nothing new. So I’ll probably keep all this up and will check back in a few moths.

(I apologise for how gloomy these pictures look, it’s 2 in the afternoon but the Great Flood is happening outside and it honestly feels like the end of the world.)

Raw Vegan Challenge – Conclusions

Hello beautiful people, my raw vegan challenge week is officially over and I’ve just filmed an extra long video drawing my conclusions (I had a huge vegan calzone today for lunch so you can imagine what those are). To quickly sum it up, I’m very happy that I put myself through this, I had been thinking about it for so long that it had to be done, plus it gave me the chance to learn something new about my body and to do some more research on the subject. I do believe that a raw vegan diet is sustainable, that you can get all your nutrients and calories and be happy and healthy, but I also believe that it is a bit high maintenance -especially at the beginning- and that it really does make a difference where you live and what your lifestyle is (i.e. what kind of job you have). I know I’ve only done this for a week which is probably not long enough to have a clear idea of what being a raw vegan is, and although I can see some benefits in it, overall I haven’t been feeling great, I really have been struggling with how cold I constantly was, and I didn’t like how my relationship with food was being shaped. After this experiment I have decided that raw veganism is not for me, at least for the time being. Now that I have a blender I will surely keep on having breakfast smoothies (which I love!), and I’m not excluding that I might try raw veganism again in the future (when it’s hot enough), however for now I’m very happy to go back to my regular vegan diet and enjoy bread and soups and oh my god mash potatoes.
Of course I’m not against this lifestyle and if you are a raw vegan thumbs up to you, you’ve got all my respect!

Here’s my (very extensive) explanation on what I’ve learned in the past seven days. As always, thank you so much for stopping by and stay tuned for more vegan-related posts!

Raw Vegan Challenge – Part 2

Yesterday I filmed a quick recap of the first three days as a raw vegan. (I had some cooked food on day 2 cos I was at a friend’s for lunch but that’s fine.) Day 1 and 2 were good, however day 3 was a bit of a challenge because 1. it was cold, and 2. I keep on pooping. Is this normal? It seems like all I’m doing is going to the toilet. I understand that with all the liquids and greens I’m introducing, my body’s reaction can only be to digest at the speed of light and make me bend over with cramps three times a day. But I wonder if this is just a first stage I have to go through to let my guts adjust to the new diet, or if it’s going to be like this forever as long a I eat this way?

Anyway, it’s still too early to draw conclusions and for now I’m happy I’m experimenting. Enjoy some food porn and the Grandma version of myself below!

I only feel beautiful when I’m hungry

Today I want to disclose something that I’ve never really shared with anyone but that I feel it’s important to talk about at this point in my life. Today’s topic is how I see veganism in relationship with eating disorders.

I’m not going to go into details on this (it would require a whole different blog post), but long story short, I used to suffer from disordered eating when I was about 20, during my first and second years of university. I was never diagnosed with a specific eating disorder, but I went through a phase in my life where I thought I was worthless and didn’t deserve food. So I stopped eating. I was punishing myself – I don’t know for what. But depriving myself from food was part of a set of strict rules I was imposing on myself, turning my whole life into a rigid discipline that was only aiming at making me smaller and smaller – in every sense.

Eating disorders and mental illnesses are very complicated to explain. The good news is, I got over mine. I recovered, and my relationship with food became “normal” again. However, although I did gain my weight back through the help of a dietician, I never received any psychological support. Looking back at those days now, I honestly wish I did. Sometimes I’m really scared it’s all going to come back. I know I’m in a safe place now, and when I do sense those feeling creeping back up, at least I can recognise them in time and stop them. But I’m not sure it’s normal they are even coming back,  nor whether they would be coming back if I had talked to somebody at the time.
Although I do enjoy food now, I take pleasure in cooking and I can safely experiment with different “diets” without worrying that I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, from time to time I do feel a sense of guilt when I eat too much or I have something I think I shouldn’t have.

I no longer want to feel this way.

That’s one of the reasons why I’m about to embark in yet another food experiment: I’m going to eat raw vegan for a week.
I’ve been following a bunch of raw vegan YouTubers in the past months and this lady in particular inspired so so much and made me want to give raw veganism a go. Among the many reasons she gives on why you should eat a raw vegan diet, she explains that when you follow this kind of plant-based regime it’s very hard to binge. The thing I struggle with the most as a result of having suffered from an eating disorder is the urge to binge – as in, to eat not when you’re hungry, but when you’re bored, or stressed, or you just feel like eating in your mind but you’re body is not actually sending you any hunger messages. I decided that I want to try and see what it’s like to listen to your body, and to actually eat as much as you want, without feeling guilty or bloated or just not good.
I’m doing this while being in full possession of my faculties, and I promise there are no reminiscence of disordered eating or will to lose weight or anything like that. I’ve done TONS of research and I will make sure to take in all the nutrients and calories I need.

Regardless of the results after this week, I think it’s important to remember that I’ve already came a long way in terms of how I see food now as opposed to how I considered it in the past. Veganism has helped me immensely in this sense.
When I first went vegan my parents were worried because they thought it was just another way for me to restrict my food intake. It took a lot of effort and research to show them that being vegan doesn’t mean starving yourself, that you can in fact gain weight on a vegan diet, and that overall veganism is actually much healthier than “standard” meals revolving around meat and dairy. It was only once I went vegan, some six years after my eating disorder, that I finally started to really enjoying food again.
Eating vegan took the guilt out of the equation. I now know that I’m eating healthy, delicious food, and I’m loving it. Every time I sit in front of a meal, I know I’m not hurting any animals, I’m helping the planet, and I’m doing a favour to my body. This also helped me love myself more, for doing something good. It shifted the focus on my actions, rather than on my appearance. What I do is more important than what I look like.

This was kind of a personal post but I’m glad I’ve shared it and took it off my chest. I’m extremely happy and grateful to be in the safe place I am right now. It took a lot of work, but I made it. And I’m very excited to be constantly learning about my own body and mind.
Stay tuned for more updates on my food experiment and a whole bunch of What I Eat in a Day videos! Thank you so much for stopping by and I will talk to you soon!

Whole food for a week – Conclusions

I’m done with my food experiment a couple of days earlier because I already knew what I was going to say so I thought there was no point to keep on filming every single meal I had.
I’m really happy I experimented having whole foods for a week, however re-watching these vlogs I realised that I wasn’t very clear on the reason why I did it and also I should have explained what “whole foods” mean to me better.

What I tried to eliminate were foods that came with too much packaging and that contained a bunch of unknown ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce. So for example I didn’t have any frozen, ready meals like fritters, veggie burgers, or vegan cheese. But I still had peanut butter or olive oil, because although they are technically processed foods, they only contain one ingredient and they come in recyclable glass containers (I actually buy my olive oil in bulk so even better). The only two exceptions I made were nutritional yeast (which is a necessity for vegans) and a tub of ice cream (which came in a recyclable cardboard container).

Recently I’ve become more and more interested in how to reduce waste. I started shopping at the farmers market more and I’ve been buying goods in bulk as much as I could. I realised that eating whole, unprocessed foods goes hand in hand with reducing waste, as it’s quite easy to buy fruit, veggies, rice and so on unpackaged.

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My main conclusions are that eating whole foods is a great way to reduce the waste we produce, but that we also shouldn’t set too many rules for ourselves and that it’s ok to make exceptions. I will carry on with a whole-food based vegan diet, but I will also allow myself some processed foods from time to time if that’s what my body wants. It’s ok to make “exceptions” as long as we are aware of our choices and we don’t restrict ourselves.

More details below (apologies about the huge pimple in the middle of my face):

Whole food for a week – Part 2

Part 2 of my food experiment: I had ice cream for lunch halfway through the week. But I don’t see this as failing: I see this as listening to my body and my cravings. I’m not trying to prove anything, I’m simply testing myself and seeing what it’s like to try and cut out processed foods from my diet. Outcome so far: harder than expected, high sweet cravings, very little waste produced, need to stock up more food in the fridge.

Final video tomorrow featuring the last meal and overall conclusions. More details below!