Kitty Blackadder

Kitty Blackadder

A Scottish blog about anxiety, minimalism and eyeshadow.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Blog Posts I Read and the Blog Posts I Write

The original title for this post was "Finding My Voice", but that made me sound like I'd had a reverse-Ariel moment and had in fact discovered I was the next Idina Menzel (ooh, mixing my Disney princess references... hardcore.). Anyway, I wanted to talk a little today about why I write, and what I write, and just generally to explore the difference between what I consume, and what I project.

Header image of a notebook bearing the title "Finding My Voice"

I first really got into blogs and started following along when I was 20, so six years ago. Among the first I followed were Lily Melrose, J for Jen, and, like a lot of other people I was hooked on Zoella and Essie Button. My Bloglovin' feed was filled with lipstick reviews, shopping hauls, Christmas makeup looks and cute hair braids and believe me, I couldn't have been happier. I had a Birchbox subscription, I bought suitably seasonal candles and I made this blog, of course, to write about, and bask in my love for makeup and everything that the beauty bloggers were. I wanted to be ahead of the curve, I wanted to be original, I wanted to be funny, I wanted to be wanted basically - but, if you take a look at the stats of this blog, you can easily tell, none of those things happened for me. I think it's because while, yes, I was besotted with the idea that the Lush PR team might send me the Christmas collection, and yes I really DID love writing about what shower gel I was using - oh and the photographs, I freaking loved taking the photographs - the reality was that it wasn't my love for a bargain concealer that kept me writing over the years. I LOVED writing about makeup, but somehow, it still wasn't my passion, on a deeper level - I think I wrote about beauty mostly because there were 1000 blogs out there doing the same, showing me it was safe to do so: that this was how to express creativity as a woman in my early twenties.

3 Lipstick Queen lipsticks laid out
Man, I loved taking these sorts of photos.

But actually, I've always written, right through childhood and through my teens, there has always been something being fervently typed up on my laptop late at night, or scribbled in my purple fuzzy diary after I had put the "padlock" on my door to keep my little sister out. The subjects have varied wildly from musings about whether my teacher was a witch (18 years on and I still think she might have been tbh), to huge, elaborate tales of pirates with incredibly emo names, and every imaginable subject in between until, of course, we came to beauty. Because there were already so many wonderful beauty blogs out there, in creating my own I instantly had so many of my creative "needs" met: I had goals to work towards, I had a schedule, I had motivation, community, validation and of course, control. When I wrote a "Top 5 Highlighters" post, I could have everything just so. I could take 1000 pictures and redraft 100 times in order to create something that I felt was correct. So writing a beauty blog allowed me to channel my fairly aimless writing into something that seemed 'worth it', that there was a point to, that I was joining in and maybe someday could become a way to meet people or even be a job. I felt like it turned my scribbles spread over 57 different notebooks into a clear narrative - but whose narrative was it?

Real Techniques blush brush and three baked blushes from MUR.

In retrospect, I think it's fairly easy to see that a  part of the reason that this blog never 'went' anywhere was because I wasn't being myself, and yes, I know that's incredibly cliche, but I think it's the truth. I DID rewrite everything 10 times, I edited and edited my personality to try and make myself better and more like Lily, or Zoe or whoever else: what do they have that I don't? Why can't be that together? I tripped over myself trying to follow every rule about post length, image placement, SEO and click-baity titles and really, all I ever wanted was to write what I felt.

A big turning point was joining the Project Panning community on YouTube, where, in stark contrast to the blog, I had a great time, almost instantly falling into an amazing group of women (Amber F, megsmakeup8, and Emily R being just a few of them) where we all communicated about issues we were having and gave each other support and encouragement. There, I didn't need to pretend to have it together or to have an Instagram-Ready flat - I could just be me, and they saw and appreciated that. I didn't have to always behave the same, or to self edit; I could have funny days, sad days, chatty days and, in contrast to how things had been on the blog - all of that was ok. I realised that I didn't need to try and be anything, I really could just be me.

Picture of me posing for a YouTue thumbnail
YouTube thumbnail shot from back in the good old days. Not completely sure what's going on with my blush/highlighter/bronzer situation, but it didn't matter so much then, I was happy.

As time passed and my interests changed and grew - exploring new topics like marriage, minimalism, vegan diets and home interiors, I realised that so many of the bloggers I once squealed to see on my Bloglovin' feed were now being completely ignored. Instead, I leapt on posts from A Cup of Jo, Extraordinary Routines, Rowdy Kittens, Jenny Mustard and many others who offer a more varied, lifestyle based content. Sure, you'll find mentions of a particularly fantastic lipstick, but they also explore more in depth topics like mental health, decisions about having children. women's rights and more - so why wasn't I writing about any of this when it's clearly what I was passionate about?

Well, it all came down to fear. While I may never have been good at beauty writing, it was safe, it was formulaic. I could sit down tomorrow and write a review of my Hoola bronzer (mmm... I can even see the photo props), and I would have a great time doing it. I could post it up, send out a couple of tweets, nothing to worry about. But, if I was to start writing about my anxiety, well, gee, I could give bad advice, or offend someone. If I wrote about the meals I cooked, well, I mean what do I know, I'm no Judy King? Writing about minimalism or jogging or mental wellness in general, I mean, I'm not an expert, I would hate to get it wrong. Best play it safe and write about some mascara then...

Fruitbowl on a wooden table
More recent blog photos have looked like this: nobody panic, we do actually keep more fruit than that in the house, but the kiwis were not very photogenic and the bananas wouldn't cooperate.

As time has gone on though, I've realised that I may not know much in life, but I do  know my own story and I know my own mind. At 26 I believe I am finally (freaking FINALLY) on the road to overcoming the anxiety that has crippled my life for more than 2 decades. I have quit trying to pursue a career with my degree because I just honestly don't want to work in that industry, and instead I'm working part time as a barista, surrounded by 20 year olds who're all way cooler than I ever was at 20, and I'm trying to teach myself Software Development to a degree level. I'm learning to love exercise for the first time in my life, I'm learning to care what I put in my body. I'm planning a wedding (erm, or well I should be planning my wedding...), I'm navigating a minefield of family relationships and I've managed to keep a plant alive for more than a month (well, actually, it's three plants, but I mean I don't want to blow my own trumpet) - all of these are stories I want to tell, and conversations I want to start. I don't want to be afraid of my own voice anymore, because I believe I do have a story to tell and ideas to share - I want to start being a positive force and writing the kind of posts I would like to read, that would help me, or inspire me or make me laugh. The bigger the subject, the bigger the risk of stepping on toes or embarrassing myself, but I know I have more in me than thoughts about blush, and I really want to get that out there.

So if you made it through this post, well done, and thank you! I'm so excited to get my teeth into writing again and begin sharing more dynamic, though provoking content on here, and, additionally (I'm making it public here so I can hold myself accountable), I've started work on my book - To Gatwick and Back -  which tells the story of growing up with an anxiety disorder, and now, as an adult, dealing with all the mess it has made. At the rate I'm going I should have it finished sometime in 2072, so, hold onto your hats folks!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

My Employers Told Me I Had to Wear Makeup and Heels, and I'm Not Okay with That.

So, it's been a minute. In the month or so since I last sat down to write a post I got a job (yay!), and then had to leave the job before I could even start (booooo!). Now, I could, and may yet write a bit more about the full set of circumstances that came about - because I think it's an experience worth writing about, if I can only pick my jaw off up the floor and do that, but for this post, I want to talk about just one of the issues that I had with this employer.

As you might be able to tell from the title, I was hired by a company that enforces an excessive dress code and grooming policy. I would love to share the specifics or quote phrases from the several-page-long document to show the harsh language used, but frankly, the document was marked as 'confidential' and there's a long paragraph at the bottom telling me exactly what I'll happen if I share any part of it - can't imagine why they'd hate for this to become public - so I can't do that, but anyway, this isn't ultimately isn't a piece about me blowing the whistle on a specific company, it's about how I felt being faced with these appearance guidelines and how it's changed the way I see things now.

 WARNING: A completely bare and unedited face not fit to be seen in the workplace.

To give at least a little context to things: it was a High-Street, retail job, working for a major, international company that sells high end beverage machines and their supplies to the public. I knew nothing about the dress code when I applied, and due to there not currently being a store in my city, or nearby for that matter, I hadn't seen the work environment first hand. I interviewed in another city’s store and have to say it was a very positive experience for me, staff were lovely. I wasn't overly aware of the dress code then - I was interviewed by a manager not in uniform, and the only staff member I saw for longer than a quick wave was male - so I couldn't see the issues I would soon find out about. I was thrilled to get the job, and everything seemed great - the job hunt was over, the super tight financial belt could be loosened and a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.

Fast forward two weeks and major cracks had started to appear in the company's communication and coordination - dates pushed back, emails from me ignored, that kind of thing - but in amongst all the fog and whispers, I received one piece of information loud and clear. The dress and grooming standards. Now, I've worked in a lot of customer facing jobs - I've worked in everything from busy food and beverage locations, all the way up to fragrance counters and high end wedding wear - I am aware of the need to present oneself well, and to look clean, approachable and professional at work. I am also aware that for brands that aim for a more 'high end' feel they may be stricter with things like neon coloured hair ties, or coloured socks peeping through between your black shoes and black trousers. I don't think it's unreasonable for a company to want their employees to look fresh and well-kept because I do think that speaks to the customer, and is more welcoming, and while I'm not personally a 'fan' of uniforms, I do appreciate that when a company spends thousands of pounds designing their products' aesthetic, and decorating their store, they don't want the attention drawn instead to the staff member wearing a tie-dye pair of overalls (‘cos that's what the kids are wearing today, right?). So yeah, I get looking 'proper' at work. Neither men, nor women should be allowed to come in with creased, soiled clothing. Nobody should stink of alcohol, cigarette smoke or last night's Chinese takeaway. Both genders should polish scuffs of their shoes, wrestle their hair into some sort of compliance and have non-offensive breath - are you with me?

My issue with this dress code came in the form of how much more than men women were expected to be. How much more uncomfortable, how much more sexualised, how much more maintained and how much more out of pocket. Now, the dress code for gents seems reasonable enough to me - gents can have a beard, but they need to keep it nice, or they can be clean shaven. Uniform is a standard shirt and tie and typical black shoes - and everything else for gents is as I discussed above. Please shower. Please have tidy hair. Please brush your teeth. When you get onto the dress code for ladies, it is more than double the length and much more invasive. Women must wear heels. Women must wear the provided uniform - a fitted dress. Women must wear various, specifically mentioned items of makeup, including, but not limited to, foundation, lipgloss and red lipstick - and the woman is responsible for keeping this up to standard all day. Women must not only have their hair tied up, but it must be pinned and pleated or placed in a bun. Oh, and wear perfume, wash your hair every day and y'know obviously, all the usual hygiene requirements too. I cannot fathom how in this year, in our society, this seems okay to anyone. I am there, allegedly, to greet customers, to use my product knowledge and experience to advise them on the best beverage products for their requirements and to efficiently process their transactions. Can anyone tell me how wearing high heels, red lipstick and eyeliner would help me do this?

 No makeup, but still exactly the same knowledge of customer service as I would have with eyeliner on...

I can understand that if you work for a makeup brand, you might be expected to showcase their products on your face to help sell them, likewise, if you work in a clothing store it might be inappropriate to walk about in a t-shirt with a huge Nike tick on it (erm, unless you work for Nike I guess?), however, for me to dress up like that in a beverage-selling environment, frankly the only thing I'd be selling is sex. Selling myself as a desirable, sexual image.

When I read the document initially (after the pit of my stomach had finished dropping below sea level), I phoned my sister, and, while not breaking confidentiality, gave her the gist of the situation. Hearing the anger and the defiance in her voice filled me with relief - to know that I wasn't being 'silly', or overly sensitive about the issue overwhelmed me brought me to tears. My mum, my gran, and other women had the same reaction. Anger. Frustration. Disbelief. But I think maybe the most emotional reaction from me came from telling my Dad, who is not, it has to be said, an overly-gushy individual - normally, Dad sticks to the facts. Telling him about this and how it was making me feel he was silent and let me finish, then he simply sighed and said that he found it upsetting that anyone would consider his daughter not competent enough to do a job unless she was covered in a face of makeup. That I somehow wasn't as professional as a man and had to make up the difference. That I wasn't good enough as I am.

And that was the crux of the issue for me. I'm not "pretty" by our society's standards, I never have been, and I am 100% okay with that now, but I was bullied all through school in large part for how I look. For being pale. For my massive mane of curls. For my refusal to wear makeup. For my "boyish" choice of shoes and clothes. Like a lot of women, by the time I hit my twenties I was a wreck of insecurity. It has taken me years to come to love my face and body - and some days, it's still a work in progress. It has taken me decades to accept, and embrace my curly hair. And you know what, I own not one single pair of high heeled shoes, but 5 pairs of Converse Hi-Tops and I am FINE with that. Growing up I eventually came to realise that the playground bullies were just that; bullies. That I didn't need to listen to what they said - because what did they know anyway? But now... well, now the people telling me my face is not okay to be seen as it is, that my hair needs to be disguised and that comfy shoes are NOT okay... well, they're not just bullies, they can reject me for employment if I don't comply.

 As it happens I do now wear makeup most days to work - because I want to. On the other hand, if I choose not to get up 30 minutes earlier to put on a face of makeup – because I’m tired, or because I have something more pressing to do than apply lipgloss - I don't see that there's anything wrong with that either, and I certainly don’t expect to have to explain myself to an employer, or to face disciplinary action at work because of it. I have complete respect for women who go the full hog with makeup for work - up to contour and false lashes - and also for women who are there bare faced. It makes not a jot of difference to how knowledgeable, friendly or competent they are.

 If I was a man showing my bare face at work would be okay, but because I'm a woman, it isn't.

I take a minute out of each and every single day to feel grateful that I am a woman living in 21st century Scotland, and to be painfully aware of the inequalities that generations of women before me, and still women in parts of the world now endure. I am not comparing my experience to any of theirs, but my point instead is that I guess I always thought when it came down to it, I was an equal in my society. I always thought I looked professional without lipgloss, I always thought I was being hired for my ability to do a job and not how my legs look when I wear high heels. I suppose what I'm trying to say is that while I've always considered myself passionate about women's rights, I didn't necessarily ever consider that my rights might need defending. I always fought and protested and signed petitions with the abstract feeling of 'our' rights, I did feel part of a bigger cause and I did care about the outcomes, but I never necessarily felt I personally had anything at stake. But now, having been emailed by a man, confirming these grooming standards were to be adopted from day one of our (non customer facing) training, so that he could ensure I was meeting the standards, well, boy, don’t I feel belittled. To be sitting on the morning of your first day of a new job and not brushing up on some company stats, or looking forward to meeting new colleagues, but instead to be trying to get those lips looking nice and full and red, and making sure to cover that skin that looks so you know, like skin, well, colour me shocked. This was not the society I thought I lived in.
Ultimately, I'm writing this not because my experience was so out-there or shocking, quite the opposite really. I'm writing this because - as you may have seen in the news - many companies out there still think a double standard in appearance for men and women is okay, many companies think the fact that "sex sells" is justification to sexualise women, and many companies seem to disregard information about the long-term damage regular high heel wear can do to women, because hey, as long as it helps them sell products, right?. What happened to me was actually tragically commonplace - maybe you could write a similar story yourself - but I think it matters now that we do speak out about the things that we want to change, because I know I certainly don't someday want my future daughter or granddaughter to call me up and tell me they can't go to work unless they wear high heels.

Friday, 10 February 2017

The Cabinet.

When Kenny and I moved into our flat we didn't have a lot of money and so we were incredibly lucky that the previous owner left us all his furniture (actually, he just packed a suitcase and moved out so he also left cupboards full of food, his slippers by the bed and 72,000 containers of shoe polish, but that's a story for another day...). Anyway, yes, we were very, very fortunate not to need to worry about buying furniture or appliances for the flat at all initially, however, as grateful as I am, there were two big downsides to this. 1) I got kinda lazy about the furniture. I really didn't like a lot of it, but hey, I mean, it was there. Even when I did have decent money coming in, I kind of didn't bother to even look on GumTree or anything for something I liked more (we live on a third floor flat, so moving furniture in and out is not the most fun thing ever), so I was never really happy with how the place looked. When people came round I often felt uncomfortable. 2) You know how they say that fish grow as big as their pond/tank allows them to? Well, I did that with my posessions. If there were 8 drawers to fill, I just kept shopping and filled them. Whereas if we had initially had zero furniture, and everything was in bags on the floor, I think I'd have been much more aware of what I owned.

Over the 2 years we've been here, we've been able to swap out almost everything in the living room and kitchen area (except the sofa, which is filthy underneath the 20 blankets covering it, but I swear it is the COMFIEST sofa of all time...), but until very recently there was still one hold-out from the original storage-set. The Cabinet. It was actually one of a pair, which, for most of the two years we've been here were JAMMED full of stuff - to the point where I couldn't close the drawers a lot of the time. Then, when my KonMari-ing hit full swing last Autumn, we finally got rid of one. FINALLY. The other one was still an absolute mess though, in fact, I think I somehow smooshed contents from the first cabinet into The Cabinet, just so I could actually get rid of one. It was just this huge, unworkable mass of stuff that for whatever reason, I just could not break down. I mean, I think I knew, even then that most of it was 'junk' (as in, dead weight, things that didn't add any value to my life, not actually broken things) but I just couldn't see how I could possibly reduce it. Eventually, after a lot (and I do mean, a lot) of discussion, Kenny and I decided to pick up a set of the tall Malm drawers from IKEA to replace the cabinet - a lot shorter and neater, and more in line with the other furniture in the room, but still a lot of storage. We picked a day to go and get them and on the day I just shrugged off the plans. Time, and time again.  Day after day.

I don't even know why the whole thing bothered me so much. Given the size of the room, it certainly wouldn't have looked 'too much' to have the Malm drawers there, and let's face it, if we ever didn't need them, we could shift them on GumTree or Free Cycle, really quickly. But it bugged me. I would just stand and stare at that cabinet. Then open a drawer. Then close the drawer.

Over the Christmas period I managed to pick up some retail work, which saw me doing a lot of hours and I swear, literally every day I would come home and stand at the doorway and just glare at that stupid Cabinet, filled with all my stupid stuff. Knowing I had no time to deal with it, suddenly lit a fire under me to face up to it at the first possible opportunity. So January 1st rolled around, the tree came down, my contract ended and I had time to finally take care of the thing - finally.

Going through this Cabinet is the only time I've really been angry or frustrated with myself during the whole decluttering process. Usually, even if I feel inner turmoil or I'm just not thinking rationally, I'll just kind of let it go that day and go back to it when I'm in a better zone. But not this Cabinet. Inside it was my 'memories' drawer, my art supplies, my documets (which actually, if you consider the fact I'm a collage artist who works in quite a frenzied manner, perhaps storing necessary documents right next to scrap paper for collage was a really bad idea...), just paper, paper, paper. Piles of it lying about the floor, stacks and flurries and the cat making a nest with some. I was so angry; angry at myself for keeping SO MUCH PAPER, angry at the fact I'd moved almost all of it into this flat with me two years ago, angry that I didn't practice my art much any more, angry at finding that document I thought I'd lost... for some reason, this Cabinet just took me to a bad place.

So this was the only time I broke the 'hold each item and see if it sparks joy' criteria. I just couldn't. Not with this Cabinet. Not with this paper. I separated the documents, because I had to, and then with all the art paper I just grabbed chunks and bagged them to donate. I filled bags and bags. I kept barely anything at all actually; sitting deliberating between shades of salmon paper just seemed so ludicrous all of a sudden. Honestly, I still have no idea what I all got rid of - which I think says something in itself. All that paper, all those pens that over my years as an art student I researched and shopped for, cared for, used, shared and loved. I sat there looking at it all, and realising that I couldn't even tell you specifically what a lot of it was for (I mean, I still know what a pen does, but I couldn't tell you why I liked a certain brand or which ink was the blackest), and it made me really sad. I didn't just study art at university, I freaking lived it for years. I made art every day, almost subconsciously, as naturally as breathing and now, it would be about as natural as that scene where Bambi takes to the ice. I do still draw, sometimes, sort of, but the person I was years ago at uni was in that Cabinet and in a lot of ways I was saying goodbye to her. I don't understand what changed and why I broke away so much from my art, and I think I just sort of froze everything in time, hoping that someday I'd figure it out, and maybe I will, maybe one day it'll all come flooding back, but for now, it hurts too much to look at it all everyday and wonder why I lost what I did. So it's almost all gone.

The Cabinet, the empty shell that it was in the end, is gone too, and nothing was bought to replace it. I moved over drawers I already had, and we got a lamp (because our ceiling light is as atmospheric as grocery store lighting) and now that corner feels like me, like part of my home. I have claimed that space and banished The Cabinet. But it still makes me a little sad. Yes, it feels like me now, yes I no longer spend time glaring at that corner of the room, but I guess it raises other questions too, about who 'me' is. About why I don't practice my art much, about the feeling of disconnect - of trying to understand if I'm meant to say goodbye to that part of myself, or dig her out from under all the makeup and candles. Art student me would have hated this room. But I am not art student me. I'm mid-twenties me, I'm enagaged to be married me, I'm anxious and minimalist and Glaswegian me. Or am I? How do I know? How can I tell? Who the fuck am I?

So the Cabinet is gone, taking it's prescence; it's weight and shadow with it. Out of sight, out of mind I guess. I hoped emptying it out would close the chapter and let me move on - that making a firm decision would have earned me some closure. But it hasn't. The Cabinet is gone but the doubt remains. I don't regret physically letting go of... well, whatever it was that went, but I do wonder where the path is taking me now. To loop back around to my art with fresh eyes, and someday end up with another cabinet of paper, or to continue to move further away from one of the keystones of my identity.

Stupid Cabinet.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

5 of My Cruelty Free Favourites For Winter

My Bloglovin' feed has been filled with 'Winter Warmers' and '5 Treats to Help You Feel Cosy' type of posts for weeks now, and this time last year I would have been avidly reading them all: what can I say, I like when people curate little lists and share little combos of their favourite products. This year, however,  while I'm still excited to hear what people enjoy and what products friends have tried, I'm finding the overall experience less enjoyable now that of the five (totally lust-worthy) items mentioned, maybe only one is Cruelty Free.

5 of my Cruelty Free Winter Favourites

I'm far (fffaaaaaaarrrrr) from an expert on all the different Cruelty Free options out there, but I thought I would share a few of the items I love to reach for at this time of year that happen to actually be Cruelty Free - I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a few of my all time winter favourites already fell into this category!

Lush Hottie Bar

Lush Hottie Massage Bar - £5.95

I suspect this may be my most talked about product on the blog over the years, but what can I say, it really has 'Holy Grail' status for me. Warming, hydrating and relaxing, this is like the ultimate winter treat for my scaly lizard-legs. I have to admit, I initially found the scent a 'bit much', but I absolutely love it now and make a point of taking deep relaxing breaths to breathe it all in as I massage my legs with the Hottie.

Crazy Rumors Lip Balm

Crazy Rumors Lip Balm - £3.50

I came across Crazy Rumors lip balms a couple of years ago and have never looked back! My first scent was the gingerbread option and let's face it, that's pretty awesome for this time of year, but I have to say that my all time favourite is probably the orange juice. It just smells literally like OJ, and I'm big into bright, citrusy scents. As a lip balm these are effective at hydrating and not super greasy on the lips - though I wouldn't apply one right before whacking on a dark berry lip or anything.

Molton Brown Eucalyptus Bath and Shower Gel - £20.00

I was surprised and delighted to find out that I could still use this product, it's been a go-to for years and I have just never found anything else quite like it. I absolutely love using this in a bath if I'm feeling choked up, or have been freezing and soaked in the rain - it's just so cleansing and soothing
and no matter what anyone tells me, I still think it smells like Eucalyptus mixed with Dolly Mixtures.

Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter

Lush Lemony Flutter Cuticle Butter - £6.95

I had tried this product out in store numerous times, and was so fortunate that my mum bought me some for Christmas. Such a luxury concept; a butter for one's cuticles, but just taking a few minutes to massage it in and show my hands some caring is just a great, positive ritual for me. I use it as a time to be grateful for my nails, my fingers, my hands, and everything that they enable me to do. Plus, my cuticles don't look like they've been attacked by lethargic pirranha anymore.

Lush Skin Drink - £13.95

And rounding off the list with a third Lush product, I couldn't not mention Skin Drink which has been my go-to night cream for the last three, if not four, years. This is almost more like a sesame oil than a cream when it hits the warmth of my skin, but it is honestly the only night cream I have ever found that leaves my skin feeling plump and still hydrated the next morning. Shame about the sesame smell, though I've found I've almost come to enjoy it these days - I think just because I associate it with being such a treat for my skin!

5 of my Cruelty Free Winter Favourites

Please share below what your winter favourites are, I'd love to add some more items to my list to try :)

Friday, 3 February 2017

3 Reasons Why I Can't Shop For Toiletries Like a 'True' Minimalist

I've been reading a lot of blog posts and watching a lot of YouTube videos featuring tours of minimalistic homes recently, and possibly my favourite bit - the shot that almost gives me a dirty-feeling thrill - is when the bathroom storage cupboard is opened and there's like one spare toilet roll and a shampoo bottle in there. And nothing else. "I only shop when I need to", says the zen-like minimalist. And for a long time, I thought this was what I was aiming for, I thought that this was a realistic short-term-ish goal for me. I want visitors to peek in my medicine cabinet and find only nail clippers and two toothbrushes (seriously, where do all my toothbrushes come from?!?!), I want to have so much space in my pantry that the vegetable box becomes a viable location during hide and seek, but you know, the more I learn about minimalism and my life, I just don't see this style of living and shopping working out for me - at least in the short term - and here's why.

Cruelty free makeup from Essence

1. Lack of immediate availability of a lot of cruelty-free/ ethical brands.

There are all different kinds of minimalism and all different reasons that folks are drawn to a more simple life. For some people, it's about aesthetics or having the right 'feeling' in their home - for a lot of these people, it's easier to shop "only as needed" because they can just pick up whatever from the store. For me, and many others, my minimalism goes hand in hand with my desire to consume less, and to make more ethical consumer choices - the downside of this, however, is that a lot of the brands and items I'll be using, I don't have day to day access to. Take the cruelty-free, drugstore cosmetics brand Essence, for example. I plan to purchase a lot of 'staple' items like mascara and brow gel from them, but the nearest store for me to buy it in is 50 miles away. Now, while I do find myself in this town, we're talking a couple of times a year, so yeah, within reason I am going to have to 'stock-up' a little on those visits because I can't just run out of mascara 3 weeks later and grab something from Boots.

Necessary toiletries

2. My Anxiety

You know how for the majority of people, going into a store and buying shampoo just isn't a thing? Well for me, with my anxiety, it can be. As silly as I'm sure it will sound, my anxiety gets bad when I start feeling like I "have" to do lots of things - now, of course, some of those things like going to work, are things that I "have" to do and I just need to suck that up... somehow. Problems occur however, when I've also run out of shampoo that morning AND I NEED TO WASH MY HAIR THAT NIGHT... etc. My anxiety can get bad to the point where I can't leave the house, let alone face going into a crowded city centre to do some shopping. For this reason I can never leave essentials until they run out to the point of being 'needed'; for me it just creates far too much pressure, and also, potentially, a lot of greasy hair.

Lush Bath Bombs in Mason jars

3. The Need to Budget

 While sometimes I sure wish it was otherwise, I really do need to stick to a budget - a very tight budget at the moment in fact. The reality is that, while having entire cupboard full of shower gel isn't a good idea (trust me, I've been there), there is also some sense in purchasing consumable items you know you're going to use, a few at a time when a good offer is on - expiry dates permitting of course. For the past couple of years I've kept spreadsheets tracking my consumable items (toothpaste, deoderant, hair gel... it's an exciting spreadsheet) and how long it takes me to use them, as well as tagging on reviews for different items, so that I don't re-buy a toothpaste I hated the first time around. This means that I can safely order 5 deoderants when they're half price and know I LOVE that brand and that Kenny and I will use them up. Sure it's annoying to open drawers and see 5 bars of soap stacked up, but I'm really not in a position to turn down 50% off prices on items we need.

How about you - how does your shopping style fit in with your minimalism? Any tips for me on how to streamline the whole process?

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