Sustainable Skin Care

Guilt Free Skin Treats

Scrolling through my Instagram feed last month, I happened across an ad for The Pip Box. If ,like me, you’ve never heard of it either, basically, it’s a monthly subscription service where, for £25 per month, you get a box of cruelty free, vegan friendly beauty goodies delivered straight to your door.

For more information on The Pip Box itself, check out their website (The Pip Box | Cruelty-free & vegan friendly makeup subscription box)

Each month there’s a different theme of products for you to try – this month (June 2021) it was “sustainability” meaning the products selected are kind to our skin, bodies and our planet.

As well as this, the whole point of The Pip Box is to push animal friendly, good quality, cruelty free products over brands who aren’t so ethically minded.

For a long time, I thought I was choosing cruelty free products – all my beauty products proudly proclaimed that they were “not tested on animals” so I wrongly assumed that this meant they were cruelty free. Not so. Unfortunately, the beauty industry has a dirty little secret. A lot of well-known brands say that they do not test on animals and, technically-speaking, that is quite correct. What they don’t tell us though, is that these well-known, household name brands often have sister-companies that do test on animals so that they can quite legitimately say their company does not test on animals yet all the while they know full well that another company that they are affiliated with is doing precisely this. And personally, I think pretending not to test on animals based on a technicality and branding your company on being cruelty free when you know it isn’t, is twice as bad as testing beauty products on defenceless animals in the first place.

My eldest daughter first woke me up to this sad fact of the beauty industry and now we tend to look for the “Leaping Bunny” logo when buying products. My understanding of Leaping Bunny is that to acquire this certification, not only must the final product be cruelty free, but so must all of the ingredients used that go into making the final product About Leaping Bunny | Leaping Bunny

So I was pretty excited when this month’s Sustainable Beauty edition was sat patiently waiting for me earlier this week when I arrived home from work. There’s an eye cream which seems already to be working better than my usual eye cream after only two applications and some lovely soft reusable make up remover and exfoliating face cloths. There’s also a “superfood” skin cream and a hydrating multi-purpose balm that I’ve tried on myself and the whole family.

My absolute favourite though is the Organic Foot Balm which I’ve already looked at buying more of from Sknfed Organic Foot Balm – Peppermint | Sknfed. My feet feel amazing!

The box itself is said to contain £58+ of products. At the recommended retail price, I’m sure that’s true but I also know that I would not have paid £58 for it! Five items for a fiver each though seems fairly reasonable. Having said that, I’ve noticed that the price has recently gone up from £20 per month which has upset a few existing customers from the comments I’ve seen online. The gripe seems to be that other subscription beauty boxes are available for cheaper. Honestly, I haven’t looked into it so I don’t know but I’ve been impressed with the quality of the products I received in this first box.

I also know that organic products tend to cost more, as do true cruelty free beauty products so it’s something I’m happy to pay for. It also helps me get familiar with these brands whose values chime with my own much more than some familiar brands who can seem at face value to be ethical but who in reality are just paying lip service to this growing movement. Guilt free beauty is definitely something I think is worth paying for if you can afford it.

Another benefit is that whilst it is a subscription service, you can choose to discontinue at any time if you decide that it’s no longer for you. Not me though! I’m already looking forward to July 2021’s delivery based on the theme of “Summer Prep” – just in time for my holiday!

Weight Loss – Are We Overthinking This?

Could Less be More When it Comes to Weight Loss?

Having decided recently to address a couple of extra pounds I’d started piling on, two weeks ago I came across the NHS Weight Loss Plan that is a 12-week weight loss programme that now comes as a handy and completely free app (find it here: Start the NHS weight loss plan – NHS ( I’ve just started Week 2 of the programme and I’m already seeing some positive progress.

Fortunately, I’ve always been within what’s described as a “healthy” BMI range. That being said – I’d also like to keep it that way! So as I began to notice that I was creeping up towards the top end of the healthy range, I wondered what I could do to reverse the trend. I noticed that there were no limits to the fad diets and fasting cleanses/detoxes out there but none of them seemed particularly healthy which was my only real stipulation aside from losing those extra pounds and inches. Looking into the NHS Weight Loss Plan, I discovered that it’s really created with those above or below the healthy BMI range in mind, however, I still found it packed with helpful information and features that really resonated with me so decided to embark on it anyhow.

What It Is

In essence, it’s a basic calorie counting feature along with weighing yourself at the start and end of the week and measuring your waist. After inputting your personal information, it will give you your daily calorie maximum.

For me, it just said stay eating at 2000 calories because I was within the BMI range. However, that was what I had been doing and it clearly wasn’t working or I was miscalculating somewhere. I had to adjust my daily diet to around 1400 calories to see positive changes.

So although it is helpful, it is also somewhat limited. I took the view that everyone’s body is different and, at the end of the day, a computer programme can only do so much. I was also going to have to listen to my body as well and take my cue from how I was feeling to see if this would be enough for me or if I would have to up my daily intake.

How it Has Been Going

Currently at the third day of Week 2, I’m still very much in the early stages. Week 1, however, did see me lose around 4 pounds and a centimetre of my waist which I took to be an auspicious start. What did I do to achieve this? Well, firstly I told my husband that I would make my own evening meal through the week as I used to do most nights before lockdown hit and he started working from home. When it was just me and the kids eating, I’d often have more of a supper for tea, a lighter bite, and certainly not the big meals I’ve gotten used to over the last 12 months.

This has been going really well so far. No one is complaining that they are being force fed healthy foods as they get to eat just what they normally do. The only complaint I’ve heard so far is that mine looks nicer than theirs! I get to portion control, which I think has been the overwhelming factor in the increase in weight anyway for me and to get a bit more creative. The other night I had a salmon pasta (which I can’t normally have as my husband hates fish), there’s been quinoa and couscous salads, jacket potato with feta cheese, carrots and peppers and even scrambled egg, mushrooms and cherry tomatoes on toast. I’ve snacked on (and had to share with the dog!) apples and carrots and made us all a fruit cocktail after our evening meal to which my 9 year old declared, “We should do this more often”!

Week 2 is when you’re encouraged to get moving more. I’d already been trying to do more of this by walking more and using my phone’s pedometer to beat last month’s personal best which I’m proud to say I’ve already smashed. Week 2 also coincided, unintentionally, with a week off work before I start a new job. I’ve used this time off to up my structured activity time too by simply sticking on You Tube every day and completing a 5-minute warm up and then a 10-minute cardio before rounding it off with my usual daily Yoga with Adriene as my cool down.

You’re encouraged not to weigh yourself daily – I do anyway as it’s a habit I’ve practised for years. Somewhat discouraging is to notice that I’ve managed to put 2 pounds back on already this week but I’m not too concerned about this at the moment. I’m willing to keep the faith and see where I am at the end of the week to hopefully see results as part of the bigger picture. Our weight fluctuates daily to some degree so I’m hoping this hiccup will be rectified by then.

Week 3 & Beyond

With starting a new job where I’ll be sat down most of the day, I’m very aware that I simply won’t be able to keep up Week 2’s pace from next week. But I’ve already got a plan. Every work day, I already get up at 6.15 a.m. and practise yoga so I’ll keep this going. I generally then have kefir and fruit for breakfast and pack my lunch and snacks. At my new role, I get an hour and 15 minute lunch break – I plan to then take at least a 15 minute brisk walk every lunch time, 5 days a week. That would total 75 minutes of moderate intensity cardio a week. I can then use my weekends to try and get active either alone or with the family to get up to the recommended 150 minutes per week moderate intensity cardio or mix this with a shorter, more vigorous intensity cardio workout on these days.

As someone who has tried gyms and sports clubs and really does not like them, I have to find ways to get active at home. Hoping that this might be a good start – we’ll see!

Obviously, it’s far too soon to know whether this basic calorie based healthy eating plan works in the longer term but I do think it’s one of the more sensible plans out there. Focus on fuelling your body with good quality calories (not all calories are created equal), and not taking in more than you can reasonably burn off in a day. No restrictions on what you eat, I have eaten crisps if I’ve wanted to and even chocolate, but do it mindfully. Take your measurements at the start and end of the week and assess and tweak your progress as needed.

For me, there have been days when I’ve snacked on unhealthy foods like crisps or chocolate because I haven’t taken in enough healthy calories. No guilt, no judgement because rarely in life does that help! I try to just get up and try again tomorrow, spacing my meals out so that I’m less hungry the next day and upping my calories to keep the hunger pangs at bay.

I think the trick is going to be to pace myself – there’s a long way to go and this is going to be a marathon not a sprint if I’m going to not only lose those couple extra pounds but keep them off by implementing all of these healthy lifestyle choices in the longer term.

Maybe I’ll add an update in a few weeks when I should have a better idea as to how it’s all working. Until then!