The hair care brand that brought my hair back to life

Hair care was a range of products I particularly struggled with to find a Cruelty-Free brand that actually made my hair look great. My hair is naturally mousy brown and can be extremely dry and frizzy, so I needed a product that added moisture, tamed frizz and could give my blonde ends some gloss – sounds like I was looking for a miracle.

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After visiting my local beauty wholesalers and talking to an extremely helpful sales assistance I was introduced to Maria Nila.

Who are Maria Nila?

My first thoughts were who are Maria Nila and why have I never heard of them before. Well Maria Nila is not your average hair care company – they are 100% vegan and cruelty-free, certified by Leaping Bunny, PETA and the Vegan society (so there really is no confusion) – if you are not sure what the certifications mean click-through to my post here. If that wasn’t enough Maria Nila also climate compensate the packaging of their full product range – so every time you purchase a Maria Nila product, you contribute to the planting of new trees in South America. So all the ethical boxes are ticked – but how does product quality compare.

The collections 

Maria Nila has the following product ranges;

Head & Hair Heal, True Soft, Pure Volume, Structure Repair, Luminous Colour,  Sheer Silver, Colour Refresh, Style & Finish, Minerals, Maria Nila Soaps

I have mixed and matched three different ranges into my one routine to try and manage all my hair care needs.

Shampoo

I chose to use the Head & Hair Heel shampoo, as I often suffer from a sore and flaky scalp. The Head & Hair Heel shampoo is an anti-inflammatory, hair growth stimulating shampoo that uses natural Aloe Vera extract to treat and prevent scalp problems, with Vitamin E to stimulate the hair follicles for increased hair growth. Due to my large head of thick unruly hair, I usually have to use around a palm of product but with Maria Nila, I only needed half. The instructions advise you to massage the shampoo into the head and hair then rinse.

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After the first use I noticed that my scalp wasn’t dry and after two days, didn’t start to flake. I no longer had the embarrassing “dust” on my black jumpers. After three uses my hair felt stronger and after five uses I no longer had issues with my scalp – I am still using this today and have no problems.

Conditioner 

After heeling my head with the Head & Hair Heel shampoo, I decided to help my dry, frizzy hair become soft and silky. The True Soft range is designed for coloured hair, using aragn oil to moisturise and revitalise dry, brittle hair and help reduce the loss of color usually associated with washing and heat styling.

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I cannot begin to describe how much I love this conditioner. My hair is soft, silky and smooth without being greasy. After using the hairdryer I don’t look like a crazy poodle – I have a less crazy beach wave going on. I use my trusty large paddle GHDs to straighten out the waves with my hair usually deciding to go static, but this didn’t happen.

Colour Refresh

I love having my hair cut and coloured but as it is so long and thick it can become really expensive, so I only get it treated 2-3 times a year. Thank goodness for the ombre and balyage trend!

Maria Nila’s Colour Refresh range is a great fix for in between treatments and doubles as a nourishing hair masque. The masque contains temporary colour pigments that come in 13 different shades;

Pearl Silver, Vanilla, Sand, Bright Copper, Autumn Red, Cacao Red, Cacao, Cacao Intense, Black, Pink Pop, Azure, Vivid Violet, Bright Red, White Mix

The various pigments can never brighten up an already existing colour and only work on coloured hair, with the result depending on the hair’s existing colour or quality. You can mix the different shades together to get your perfect pigment. The Application was relatively simple; Shampoo your hair and then apply the Color Refresh to towel-dried hair. Let the product sit between 3- 10 minutes,  then rinse the hair and finish with conditioner – using supplied gloves.

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I used the Pearl Silver to rid my hair of the slightly warmer blonde tones that lurk within and left the Colour Refresh on for 8 minutes.

My hair did not turn out silver but looked as if I had been to a salon for a toner top up – and I am really pleased with the result. The most impact this Colour Refresh had however was how incredible my hair looked and felt after using it. Soft, silky, glossy and in great condition even though my last haircut was 4 months ago.

The Verdict…

Maria Nila is 100% winning on product quality. I am not saying this brand is a miracle to the hair care industry but alomost and I absolutely love it. I can honestly say my hair and head is in the best condition it has ever been.

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Click here to see the Maria Nila range Maria Nila

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Cruelty-Free – Understanding who is, isn’t and the in between

Starting my new life Cruelty-Free was not as simple as I first thought it would be. There are so many companies that claim to be Cruelty-Free that do test on animals and lots of logos that sit alongside products to verify their Cruelty-Free status. So what is the “gold” standard and how do these other certifications fit in.

If I’m honest I felt utterly confused about what I should look for, that at one point I stopped trying anything new and stuck with one or two trustworthy brands. But where is the fun in that!

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So what does Cruelty-Free actually mean?

The term Cruelty-Free refers to animal testing only, not necessarily the wider animal cruelty issue. A company that claims it is Cruelty-Free is suggesting that they do not test their products on animals.

And what does Vegan have to do with cosmetics?

Vegan is used to describe something that does not contain anything derived from an animal, therefore Vegan approved cosmetics do not contain any animal by products – this however cannot be used as a reference to animal testing. So for the purpose of this post, I will not be discussing how to determine if a product is Vegan.

Cruelty-Free..

Unfortunately the term “Cruelty-Free” and “Not tested on animals” are often thrown around by companies but not always regulated. So pretty much any company could say they are Cruelty-Free, when they aren’t.  I know, what hope do we have finding these companies who really are legitimate, well Leaping Bunny is leading the way in terms of gold standard certification.

Leaping Bunny 

Leaping Bunny has become the international gold standard of Cruelty-Free certification due to the commitments expected by companies who pass and maintain a strict set of criteria including;

  • Introducing a fixed cut-off date after which none of their products or ingredients are tested on animals
  • Establishing procedures for verifying the strict implementation of the fixed cut-off date with product manufacturers and raw ingredients suppliers to monitor their supply chains
  • Adopting an animal testing policy verified by Cruelty Free International
  • Allowing independent auditors to evidence compliance with Leaping Bunny criteria

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PETA – Beauty Without Bunnies

PETA validate if a company is Cruelty-Free by either signing PETA’s statement of assurance or providing a statement that verifies they do not conduct or commission any animal tests on ingredients, formulations, or finished products and pledge not to do so in the future. peta-bunny-2

 

Choose Cruelty-Free

Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) is an Australian based organisation and to become accredited by CCF, you must fill in a questionnaire & application for Accreditation (Q&A), including a legally binding contract.  If companies use third parties to manufacture their products, they are also required to submit a completed Q&A and supporting documentation.

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The declared but not accredited 

Some companies may claim the following, meaning that the products and its ingredients were not tested on animals, however not all with have accreditation from Leaping Bunny, PETA, CCF or other accredited organisations to verify these claims.

No animal testing
Not tested on animals
We don’t test on animals
Against animal testing

In an ideal world, I would be happy accepting these statements with no evidence but unfortunately this isn’t the case. Companies can legally state they are Cruelty-Free but not comply with the standards set by Leaping Bunny, PETA, CCF or other accredited organisations, by commissioning third parties to conduct animal testing on their behalf or using their ingredient suppliers to conduct animal testing on the raw ingredients.

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In my opinion you cannot go wrong with looking for the Leaping Bunny logo and using PETA’s App “Bunny Free” for clarity. I have looked into doing research of my own with particular companies but as this is time-consuming and nowhere near as thorough as the accreditation’s above, I try not to rely on this completely.

 

Budget Beauty – The balm that does it all

I have tried so many multi-use miracle balms that claim they can do everything, after trying them I am bitterly disappointed to find out they are only good for dry lips. Most balms are to thick to put on my hands and stay greasy for a really long time. With the UK currently so cold outside and warm inside, my skin has been crying for some TLC.

Dr Lipp’s – Original Nipple Balm for Dry Skin, Luscious Lips & Glossy Bits – £12 per 15ml

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This award-winning balm is made from only one natural ingredient, medical-grade lanolin from free-roaming sheep down under, with no additives and definitely no animal testing.

Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm is great for all skin types, it is not addictive, allows the skin to breathe and also helps your skin to regulate its own moisture balance. So basically Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm helps fix the problem instead of trying to cover it up.

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I personally use Dr Lipp’s Nipple balm for the following and had amazing results;

  • Chapped lips
  • Dry cuticles
  • Dry nose 
  • To tame my often flying frizzy ends 
  • Keeping my eyebrows in place
  • Dry patches on my hands
  • Anywhere my skin feels sore or overly sensitive

But there are so many more uses that I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet..

Treat chapped lips, Long lasting lip gloss, Lipstick primer, Softens dry cuticle & skin, Eyelash conditioning, Breast feeding, Eyebrow shaping, Glitter glue, Shine up scuffed heels, Touching up a moustache, After-sun, Babies bottoms, Sore spots on the skin, Cheek shine, Under foundation for a flawless finish, Sore noses, Pigment mixing and the list goes on…..

So for that go to beauty product that does even more than it says on the tin, I would highly recommend Dr Lipps Nipple Balm. I will definitely keep this handy 3ml squeezy tube in my bag at all times!

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Click here to purchase  – Original Nipple Balm for Dry Skin, Luscious Lips & Glossy Bits

Keeping it clean – A simple way to talk all things Cleansers

The role of a cleanser in your beauty regime is to remove make-up, dirt, dead skin cells and pollutants from your face. Cleansers also help to unclog pores and prevent nasty skin ailments such as acne.

There are so many Cleaners available on the market today but having too much choice isn’t a good thing, if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. One thing to remember is that not all of these cleansers will be suitable for your skin type and personal preference plays a huge role in finding the right product. So where to start…

1. Gel Cleansers 

Skin Type: Oily, Combination

Gel cleansers are transparent or clear and have a soft jelly like texture. Gel is a great way to clean deep into the pores of your skin helping to reduce excess sebum production and keeping acne at bay.  Remember that Gel is activated by water, so have a damp face before applying with your fingertips.

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2. Cream Cleansers 

Skin Type: Dry, Sensitive 

Cream cleansers are thick and feel more like a night cream than a cleanser. Cream cleansers contain moisturising ingredients like botanical oils, therefore gently cleanse your skin without stripping it. Cream cleansers should be applied directly onto dry skin, massaged in and removed with either cotton pads or cloths. Although there are some great products on the market, I just don’t feel super clean when finished. This could be psychological as I’ve not used any water but it also left my skin feeling slightly oily – I have Normal/Combination skin.

3. Oil Cleansers

Skin Type: Most Skin Types 

My personal favorite are oil cleansers, as I have found an incredible product – listed below in my cleanser recommendations.  I know, using oil as a cleanser sounds slightly crazy but trust me it works. An Oil Cleanser works wonders on removing everyday and waterproof makeup, softly, without drying the skin.  If you do choose to use an oil cleanser it is really important you wash it all off thoroughly with a wash-cloth so your skin is clean for the remainder of your regime. Oil can act as a barrier, so you want to ensure you skin can absorb all of the lovely products you apply after the cleansing stage.

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4. Milk/ Lotion Cleansers

Skin Type: Dry, Sensitive

Milk and Lotion cleansers are a thinner consistency to cream cleansers but should be applied in the same way. Remember, applying Milk or Lotion cleansers to damp or wet skin will dilute the product and the Cleanser will be less effective.

5. Butter & Balm Cleansers

Skin Type: Sensitive, Dry, Combination

Cleansing balms and butters are gentle, nourish the skin instead of stripping it and are amazing at removing dirt and impurities. Most cleansing balms and butters should be warmed up in your hand, then applied to dry skin. You can add a bit of water for easier use as you massage it on your skin. To finish, rinse it off with warm water and a muslin cloth. The Oil from the balm can act as a barrier, so you want to ensure you remove it completely. Balms and butters in my experience provide great results but take slightly longer to apply and remove properly.

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6. Foam Cleansers

Skin Type: Combination, Acne prone

Foam cleansers are ideal for removing oil, layers of makeup and even waterproof makeup. Some Foam cleansers can be a little bit harsh since they’re made to slightly dry out the skin, so make sure you buy one that includes some form of oil to provide a more nourishing experience. Remember that foam is activated by water, so have a damp face before applying with your fingertips.

7.  Micellar Cleansers

Skin Types: Dry, Sensitive

I have tried Micellar cleansers and personally these are not for me, I just don’t get that deep clean feeling but a lot of my friends continue to rave about them. As Micellar water doesn’t have to be the most expensive product in your regime, I would say give it a go – I have recommended by favorite Micellar cleanser below. Micellar waters feature “micelles” or oil molecules suspended in water, which attract oil, dirt and makeup, making the removal simple. You do not need to wash this off with water, but you do need to use cotton pads or a more Eco-friendly alternative to wipe away the dirt, makeup and impurities.

8. Clay Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily

Clay cleansers are thick and creamy and can be various different colors including grey, white and pale green. Clay is suitable for oily skin due to the deep cleansing and pore tightening properties. To use, put the clay into your fingertips and add water to transform it to a mousse like consistency. Gently massage the cleanser onto your face using circular motions. Once you’re done doing that, rinse thoroughly with warm water.

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9. Powder Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily, Sensitive

Powder cleansers have been around for some time now but are becoming a lot more popular. These cleansers are powdery soft and disintegrate into a creamy mixture  when combined with water. Powder cleanser thoroughly cleanse your skin while providing a light exfoliation. You can use them every day even on sensitive skin.

10. Sponges, Mits and Cloth Cleansers

Skin Types: Oily, Combination

I am a fan of the micro fiber cloths every now and again, especially when I have got in from a good night out with a full face of makeup. These cleansers are made with special fiber and don’t usually require the use of any additional cleansing products to thoroughly remove makeup and impurities. They are quick and easy to use with a wet, wipe and go approach. I have found though, if I use this everyday my skin looks a little dull and dry.

My Cleanser Recommendations.. 

Cloth Cleansers

Magnitone – London Wipeout! The Amazing Microfibe cleansing Cloth – £14.99 x2 cloths

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This Magnitone Microfibe cloth needs to be put into a 30 degree wash before the first use to activate the fibres. The first time I used this cloth I was surprised to see how quickly  and easily my makeup came off and how clean it felt. The Magnitone Microfibe cloth also comes with a handy hanging tag to hang out to dry after use. I tend to use this twice before washing again, one side per use and only every now and again. I found using this everyday made my eyes and my problem areas (nose & chin) dry out.

Click here to purchase the Magnitone Wipe Out The Amazing MicroFibre Cleansing Cloth x1

Oil Cleanser

Elemental Herbolody – Vital Cleanser – £29 per 100ml (Currently on sale £23.20)

This is my all time favorite cleanser. The Vital Cleanser lasted me two months and I used this religiously every evening and most mornings. The Vital Cleanser is a lightweight oil made with Manuka Honey, Vitamin C, Papaya extract and Green Tea – this sounds more like a super-food smoothie than Cleanser. The Vital cleanser made me want to put more makeup on just to take it off again.

Butter Cleanser  

Organic Pharmacy – Carrot Butter Cleanser – £43 per 75ml

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Yes this is a pricey product and I would not say this should be your first butter or balm experience as they are not for everyone.  If however you do really like Butter cleansers this is a fantastic combination of ingredients including Shea Butter, St Johns Wort, Lavender, Carrot and Rosemary. The smell is delightful and the butter almost melts away makeup and dirt from the skin. 75ml doesn’t sound a lot but used correctly, this tub goes a long way.

Click here to purchase the The Organic Pharmacy Discovery/Travel kit

Micellar Water Cleanser

Sanctuary Spa – Foaming Micellar Water – £8 per 200ml

IMG_1949The Micellar water from Sanctuary Spa is simple and effortless. The key ingredients are rose-water and argon oil, which in my opinion are super-foods for the skin and great to reduce redness. The pump on the bottle pushes the micellar water out as a light fluffy foam which prevents too much product being poured onto the cotton pads. I used a delicate sweeping motion to remove my day makeup, which was quick and simple. This product was a delight but as I mentioned earlier, I do prefer using a different type of cleanser which requires water to finish cleansing my skin.

Click here to purchase Sanctuary Spa Foaming Micellar Cleansing Water 200ml

5 reasons you should join the Cruelty-Free future

I often wonder why companies are still testing on animals. Honestly it seems crazy that in 2018 this still happens. Unfortunately countries such as China make it mandatory to test on animals for any company to sell their cosmetic products to the end consumers, making it harder to financially justify a change.

So here are my 5 reasons why you should make the change to Cruelty-Free right now.. 

Number 1 – What really happens to the animals 

I have been researching what happens to animals during animal testing, thinking it cannot be as bad as people say. Well I was very wrong.  Cats, Dogs, Rabbits, Mice, Rats and Primates (yes super cute little monkeys) are locked inside barren cages in laboratories across the country. They are in pain, suffer from extreme frustration, loneliness, and long to be free.

All the animals can do is  sit and wait for the next testing procedure that will be performed on them. Their lack of space and companionship alongside the stress of their living situation, can cause animals to develop neurotic types of behavior such as incessantly spinning in circles, rocking back and forth, pulling out their own fur, and even biting themselves. After all of this, almost all of them will be killed.

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Number 2 – There are great alternatives for testing

Technology is an incredible thing, especially in the world of product testing. Rather than testing how much a product burns a rabbit’s eye, scientists can form cornea-like 3D tissue structures produced from human cells to do it instead, this is known as In-Vitro testing.  There is also voluntary human testing and computer modelling testing.

Number 3 – We have so many Cruelty-Free options 

So animal testing is awful and having researched reason number one, I have sworn never to knowingly use products tested on animals again.

Believe it or not there are so many great brands that are Cruelty-Free, giving you a huge amount of choice to find the most amazing products. I have included a list of some of my favorites but if you aren’t sure, PETA have created an app called “BunnyFree” to help you know who is and isn’t Cruelty-Free, not all brands are on there but a lot of the big ones are.

My Favorites

Cover FX, Tropic, Organic Pharmacy, Elemental Herbology, The Balm, Glitter Eyes

My top tip when looking to buy Cruelty-Free is to understand what the parent companies also do. Liz Earle is Cruelty-Free but as they are owned by AVON who isn’t, I personally do not feel comfortable using or recommending their products.

If you would like to know more about how to recognise what companies are or are not cruelty free take a look at my post here.

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Number 4 – Ignorance is not bliss 

If you weren’t aware of how bad animal testing was, I don’t blame you. For years the beauty industry has hidden their ugly-side very well.  But now you know, ignorance is not bliss and you can make a difference. If people stop buying, the companies will eventually have to stop testing.

Number 5 –  Cruelty-Free is a gateway to a healthier you

Understanding if the products I use are Cruelty-Free has made me stop and think about what ingredients are in them. The skin is our biggest organ, its absorbs everything we apply to it and understanding how those lotions and potions filled with parabens and harmful chemicals affect our skin is eye-opening. Another app I have found really helpful for understanding what products have these nasty ingredients in is ThinkDirty. Again this has a reasonably limited product range but has most of the bigger brands.

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Toners; To tone or not to tone..?

Friends and family are always asking me “why do I have to tone my skin?” and “are you sure this isn’t just another product to spend money on?” My response has always been yes of course you need to tone your skin.. but without much rational as to why.

So why should we use a Toner?

After some research into the world of Toners it is safe to say that for a full and balanced beauty regime, Toners are a great addition to seal the deal.  The role of the Toner is to re balance your skin’s pH levels after the cleansing process which brings your skin back to its most glowing appearance. An average pH level for the skin is around 5.5.

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How do I use Toner?

Toners should be used after the cleansing stage before applying any serums or moisturizers. Toners are traditionally poured out of a bottle onto a cotton pad which should be swept across your face. There are also spritz style toners which can be sprayed directly onto the skin without the use of the cotton pad.  I personally prefer the latter as there are no cotton pads going into the bin and less product is being used in one go.  Spritz style Toners however will only dilute the harmful elements on the skin unlike wiping which is meant to remove them.

What should I do if I want to skip the Toning step?

As a beauty addict I would of course recommend to complete the full cleanse, tone, and moisturize steps. If however you are short on time or money, you can look at using a pH balancing cleanser instead.  Click here for more information on pH balancing cleansers and some great product recommendations.

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The Verdict….

Yes I believe we should be toning our skin. There are a great selection of products available across all different price points and with the spritz toners taking a matter of seconds to apply, time should not be an issue. Our skins pH is responsible for a multitude of ailments including acne, premature aging and skin sensitivity. Get the pH right and your skin will be bright and glowing. Get the right Toner and this can help re-balance your skins pH.

My favorite Toners to try..

Herbal Toner – Organic Pharmacy – £35 per 100ml

The Organic Pharmacy as a brand have a collection of amazing products which smell like you have been walking through a delicious herb garden and of course the Herbal Toner is no exception. The texture of this Toner is light and refreshing, allowing the skin to breathe. The Herbal Toner is a spritz product so the bottle lasts a good while. I noticed my skin felt fresh and clean throughout the night with less breakouts in my problem areas (nose and chin) after only a week of use. If you can afford to splurge a little, I would say the Herbal Toner is worthwhile.

Click here to purchase The Organic Pharmacy Herbal Toner 100 ml

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Glow Tonic – Pixi – £5 per 15ml / £10 per 100ml / £18 per 250ml

Firstly I love that the Glow Tonic by Pixi comes in three different sizes. This gives you the opportunity to try a sample size before you commit to the 250ml bottle. As mentioned before I prefer the spray bottles especially as the sprays use alot less product and the Glow Tonic is no exception – I had used 1/4 of the 15ml bottle after 3 applications.

The product felt smooth when I applied this and had a soft pleasant fragrance on the skin. I would suggest avoid applying to close the eye area and any broken skin as this didn’t feel pleasant however the discomfort only lasted for a few seconds.

The biggest impact this toner had, was how my skin looked for the rest of the day. My skin felt fresh, bright and literally glowing even after a long day of housework. Glow Tonic is definitely a pick me up for the skin and bought my dull complexion back to life.

Click here to purchase Pixi Glow Tonic With Aloe Vera & Ginseng 100ml by Pixi

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Budget Beauty Toner – under £10 – Review to come

Hello from Charity Grace of Gracie Talks Beauty

This is the post excerpt.

I started Gracie Talks Beauty as a place to talk about products which are cruelty free. I struggled for years to understand what was and wasn’t animal friendly, let alone discover new products which do what they say on the tin. I want to say if a product is great, good or just plain awful and find cruelty free alternatives to the traditional cult favorites.

I am a self confessed beauty addict, qualified beauty therapist and makeup artist with experience working alongside a beauty buying, I am however new to blogging but enjoy sharing my thoughts on all types of products with my friends and family.

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Gracie Talks Beauty will showcase new and exciting products alongside the cult beauty classics and products I don’t believe are worth the money. All reviews are on products I have purchased from my own pocket, with nothing sent to “try ” and no paid for posts.

I would love to hear from you with any product recommendations you have or products you would like me to review, just use the Contact page to get in touch.

I hope you enjoy and stay cruelty free,

Gracie

XO