The Quest for the Leaping Bunny – 2017

At some point last year (though I cannot remember exactly when) I decided to try and switch from your standard cosmetic products to products which had the leaping bunny logo.

leaping bunny

Why?

I’ve always been an animal lover, and still cannot contain my excitement whenever I see any sort of creature (as long as it’s not too scary).

Although I’ve known for years that many household name products contain ingredients which have been tested on animals, it appeared that there was no way of discerning which companies do and don’t do this.  It’s the same with clothes – there are brands which obviously use sweatshops because the garments are of such poor quality, but there are other brands which are better quality, but shady about whether they use sweatshops or not.  I find this paralyzing and guilt-inducing, because I don’t have time to make my own clothes from scratch or concoct my own beauty products, but need to wear/use something to appear presentable in modern society.

However, from stumbling across two videos by Youtubers justkissmyfrog and Emma Blackery and subsequently discovering that brands I thought were ‘Cruelty-Free’ actually aren’t, I did some research and came across https://www.crueltyfreeinternational.org/LeapingBunny

I was relieved to discover that if a product has a Leaping Bunny Logo on it, it means that the product as a whole has not been tested on animals AND none of the ingredients in the product have been tested individually on animals.  When I use a leaping bunny product, I have peace of mind that animals aren’t suffering to make me look/smell nice.  If a brand states on the product that they don’t test on animals and don’t have this logo, it means that the whole product itself is not tested on animals, but unfortunately, the ingredients they use have been tested on animals.  Understandably, this isn’t reassuring.

Cruelty-Free Alternatives

So since discovering this, whenever I go out shopping, I never buy cosmetic products unless this logo is on the back.  As I was (and still technically am) a student this year, and needed to save the pennies, I focused on using up the products I already have, before purchasing more.  So there are a couple of products I am still finishing up which are not cruelty-free, but I have managed to find some really good products which do not cost the earth (literally and metaphorically).

Already used

Make-Up

Now I don’t wear loads of make-up, but about a year ago, I came across two great finds in my local TKMaxx.

Bellapierre’s Glowing Complexion Essentials Kit – http://www.bellapierre.com/uk/glowing-complexion-essentials-kit.html – which was knocked down to £15

Alba Botanica’s Fast Fix for Undereye Circles Vanishing Concealer – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Alba-Botanica-Undereye-Circles-Ounce/dp/B00V2SXSC6 – which was also reduced.

As I wear a light amount, these two products have been great, and it goes to show that it is worth looking in the beauty section of TKMaxx to find any reduced products.

Toothpaste

I’ve been using these two Cruelty-Free toothpastes alternatively over the last month (having said goodbye to my beloved Colgate), and have actually been enjoying them.

Superdrug’s Pro Care Sensitive Whitening Toothpaste 

Jason’s Powersmile® Whitening Anti-Cavity Toothpaste

Skincare

Still have about three moisturisers on the go which are definitely not Cruelty-Free, but bought Bulldog’s Protective Moisturiser (out of curiosity) and really like it.

I really love Superdrug’s Facial Wipes.  At the moment I’m using their ones for Sensitive Skin .  I also tried Sainsbury’s Aloe Vera Wipes , which do the job, as it were, but feel a bit harsher than Superdrug.

When I’ve remembered to use Night Cream, I also found Alba Botanica’s Even Advanced Night Cream in TK Maxx, and though it’s hard to tell whether its claims to reduce dark spots and discoloration  work, it smells lush and it feels truly hydrating.

Hair Products

I regularly use hair detangler after I wash my hair, and having used L’Oreal Kids Shampoo and a variety of other brands which are not Cruelty-Free all year, discovered this gem from Superdrug , which is amazing.

Have been using a lot of Shampoo and Conditioner by Sainsbury’s, including their Classic Anti-Dandruff Shampoo (for that extra clean feeling), Apple Shampoo and Conditioner, and Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner.  The apple and coconut flavour ones have just had a cheeky rebrand, and the fact that it is sold in large amounts for cheap is great if you’re on a budget (like me).

Having finally finished John Frieda Frizz-Ease Original 6 effects Serum after three years (definitely not Cruelty-Free) have appreciated Superdrug’s own hair serums: Hair Therapy Oil with Coconut and Hair Therapy Oil with Argan.  I prefer the Argan because the effects are more visible.

Deodorant

In TKMaxx a year ago, came across All Good Deodorant – Rose Geranium & Jasmine, which lasted for ages, smelt great and was a really good deodorant.  Unfortunately, it appears that the only way to buy it is online, but it’s worth investing!

Surprisingly, Sainsbury’s Basics Roll-on Deodorant, also worked really well, despite being very cheap.

Products to be used…

On my last Sainsbury’s trip, I discovered their new line called ‘My Hair Matters‘, which is Cruelty-Free and very affordable.  Once I’ve used up my current shampoo, I’m going to try their Nourish & Repair Shampoo and Conditioner.

I haven’t used Dry Shampoo in years, but am going camping for the first time in six years in a couple of weeks time, and know it would be handy to have some.  To my delight, I’ve discovered that Phil Smith Be Gorgeous Volume Boosting Dry Shampoo is also Cruelty-Free, and I’m really looking forward to trying it out.

In anticipation of finishing all my shower gel which is not Cruelty-Free (but one was given as a birthday present a while ago and still smells lovely), I’ve stocked up on Superdrug’s own Shower gels which smell amazing: Strawberry & Raspberry and Orange & Satsuma.  They remind me of the vegan but unfortunately not Cruelty-Free Original Source Shower Gels – it’s a shame they don’t have a lime flavoured one!

Deodorant-wise, have discovered Sainsbury’s have some more roll-on deodorants which are Cruelty-Free: Sensitive  and Cotton Mist (which appears to have been discontinued on the Sainsbury’s website).  Intrigued to see whether either of these live up to their claims!

I’m also looking forward to, once I have a bit more money, buying some hair products from the Whole Foods Market near me.  I feel particularly drawn to Avalon Organics.  I also want to invest in some good quality make-up, and going to have a bit of a browse here for some ideas.

Conclusion

As you can see, it’s not too difficult to switch to Cruelty-Free products, and often you don’t have to go out of your way to buy new products.

If you’ve come across any great products with a leaping-bunny on the back, please feel free to share them in the comments below 🙂

The time I tried Christian online dating…

I was in two minds whether to share what happened a couple of weeks ago.  I posted it, and then took it down.  I am now posting it back up again because 1) I have told a few people what happened already, including my mother, so feel more comfortable putting this up, and 2) two weeks later, it still has comedic value.

On Thursday, my throat was killing me, I had a cold and felt quite achey, so took two sick days off work.  I would never have envisaged what happened in the next few hours. Continue reading The time I tried Christian online dating…

11 things I learnt from going back to school

I spent the last academic year working in a school.  Not as a teacher, as some assume from my Facebook statuses, but as a receptionist, especially for the students.  I entered into the job wanting to get a better idea of what I wanted to do, and open to the possibility of entering the teaching profession.  I now have a better idea of what I want to do long term, and it is NOT teaching.

However, I learnt loads, and wanted to share it with the world (maybe I should be a teacher after all!).  So here are the eleven things I learnt which changed me deeply.

  1. Teachers are heroes.

If you have had no experience of teaching teenagers, you will probably fall into one of two camps.  You may think that being a teacher is easy – as effortless as English teacher Clara Oswald in Doctor Who.  Or as casual as history teacher Alfie Wickers in Bad Education.  That teaching is like anything you see on a television programme or film which is school related.  Or you hear the horror stories about violent pupils, pushy parents and Gove’s curriculum changes, and baulk at anyone who decides to pursue a teaching career.

As a receptionist, I observed many teachers striding grimly to and from lessons, heard stories about tough situations in classrooms and had to deal with some challenging students myself.  Teaching is no picnic.  It’s tough, yet a task which needs people who can do it, not who slide into it because they think it’ll be easy.  We need people to bear with this country’s young people, patiently continue to teach them and truly care about their well being, not just about their grades.

2. Support staff are unsung heroes, and should be honoured more

I have been a member of a school’s support staff team.  And I noticed that teachers were bigged up more than support staff.  Probably because they have (usually) had more training and are paid more.  But support staff are vital for a school to run.  I’m not just talking about office staff, but staff who run the behavioural and special needs units, teaching assistants, student supervisors (i.e. student police officers/medical help), lunchtime supervisors, careers advisors, kitchen staff, science technicians, IT staff, cover teachers, support workers and key workers.  So much of their work goes unnoticed by many people, but without their help, teachers would have even more work to do.

3. I don’t take what I have for granted any more.

Before I started working there, I took my academics, family and upbringing for granted.  Then I spoke to so many teenagers who haven’t had my privileges, and realised how blessed I am.  I worked hard at school and university, and it really did pay off.  My parents are still together, still love each other, and have sacrificed so much to give my sister and I the best education we could have.  I have never been abused by them or members of my family.  Apart from not going on expensive holidays and having expensive gifts, I have lacked nothing.  It has made me so thankful for what I have been given, and sad that others do not have and will not have the same lot in life that I have had.

4. Children lie.  A lot.

I slowly realised this throughout my job, but this has still not really clicked.  But I know this is true.  Children lie a lot.  At least, they lied a lot to me.  And even when they look distressed and properly upset, they could still be lying.  Usually there is no way of knowing if they are telling the truth unless a trustworthy adult affirms what they are saying.

5. Many children do not realise how important it is to get their schooling right the first time

I spoke to teenagers who were doing their GCSEs – some were genuinely concerned about them and were keen to do well.  However, many of them seemed not to care at all.  I wish they could see what I do now – I work in an adult college where many people apply to take their English, Maths and Science GCSEs again.  And they do it because after leaving school and not realising after about a decade they really needed them, they then realise that to do whatever they want to do, they need a C in Maths and English GCSE.  If only they had heeded their teachers back in the day.  If only they knew how important it was to have tried hard and not slacked off.  And spaces are few in adult colleges to resit those GCSE courses – I hate having to tell people that there is no space on those courses.  It means they have to wait another year before applying for that nursing course/A-level course.

6. So many home situations are dire.  And it really messes up children.

Our society is so broken, and many children live in buildings, not homes.  I made a deliberate effort not to not think about students’ situations I was informed about, because dwelling on them was depressing in itself.  And children do not bounce back from the abuse they suffer.  It is why many children are unhappy in school and behave badly, and then eventually drop out of school.  And I don’t blame them for wanting to truant and not doing what adults tell them to.

7. UK secondary education is not about the enjoyment of learning.  It’s about meeting targets.

The love of learning for the sake of learning is teetering on the brink of extinction.  It’s why I do not want to become a teacher in this country in the secondary sector.  It’s all about targets, levels and reaching for high qualifications.  And don’t get me wrong, it is important, as I said earlier.  But education is now a means to an end – getting to go to university to enjoy the freedom of being away from all you’ve known, getting a highly paid job and more money and a better lifestyle.  What about the joy of learning?  The joy of learning how something works in its intricacy, the joy of speaking another language fluently, the joy of reading and thinking and discussing?  No student or teacher mentioned that to me last year.  Which is a real shame.

8. Muslims are portrayed poorly by the media  – either as victims or fundamentalists.

I got to know several more conservative Muslims last year, for the first time ever.  And they are normal people.  They may have an ideology which is extreme, but they are normal, lovely, down to earth, funny, caring people.  And knowing this makes me take offence at people who make assumptions about Muslims, who have never ever had a proper conversation them, and are blinded by fear that they forget – Muslims are human too.  This distrust and suspicion is just making the world’s situation worse, and the media is not helping by fuelling this.

9.  How to deal with confrontational situations.

I had a few situations when I was in my previous job, and already have had a few in the last month.  I would recommend staying calm, not taking anything the person says personally, not raising your voice to match theirs and standing your ground.  Let your no be no, and if you threaten something, make sure you follow through, so you show your do not mince your words.

10. Immigration is a grey area, and it’s inadvisable to generalize about it

I have met parents who have come to this country and made an effort.  They try and speak English.  They are employed, or trying to find employment and they persevere when speaking to someone who does not speak their own language.  And I have met parents who refused to converse with me, because they took one look at me and saw a young white woman who would not know any Sylheti.  Evidently, they have made no effort to integrate into the UK at all.

I am now of the mind that we should allow people to remain in this country if they are prepared to earn their keep and become part of this society, not remain cocooned in their ghettos.  However, it does sadden me that there really are people who sponge off our benefit system, and are able to learn English and work, but choose not to for no good reason.

11. Most people do not read signs.

Even when you plaster them all over a door and the security system, telling them to use another entrance.  90% of people will not read them.  That is because despite the education we have received, and that many people can read, we are lazy and would prefer having someone repeat the same information face to face over and over again.

Perhaps we should dispense with our education system entirely, and in fifty years time, there will be no need to read anything again!  Only joking, but still, I found something ironic about people being unable to read signs, when they send their children to school for that purpose – to learn how to read.

But even when adults want to learn, later in life, they still do not read signs and still cannot follow basic instructions.  I guess the education system will never be perfect, as well as people!

10 Kinds of Annoying People on the Tube

tube-strike

Hello Internet.  Sorry for the (totally unintentional) hiatus.  For most of last month I was spending each spare minute of the day job hunting and sleeping, and also officially moved churches at the start of June.  I now have a new job lined up for the end of August (praise the Lord), which is much closer to home and church, and the end of my current job is in sight.  So I’m back.

On Thursday there was a tube strike.  You may or may not have known that.  If you live in London, or anywhere near the capital, you would have known.

On an overcrowded Overground service at five o’clock in the afternoon, I scribbled the first version of this furiously into my notebook.  I was fed up, my throat was killing me and wanted to vent.   I planned to publish this as soon as I got home, but then caught myself.  Why should I publish it? Would it make things better?  Or is it just venomous and vindictive?  I decided to put it off until I was in a less angry state, and could evaluate the decision more rationally. Continue reading 10 Kinds of Annoying People on the Tube

Recent Graduate Life: what might happen to you

Funny hat throwing picture © Helen Kitley
Funny hat throwing picture © Helen Kitley

My mind boggles at the thought that nearly TWO YEARS ago, I graduated from university with a 2:1.  Recently on Facebook, I’ve noticed a lot of acquaintances and friends have just finished their degrees, and are waiting for their results.  I’m sure they’ll do fabulously (if they’ve worked their socks off).

But, to all you graduands out there, I want to warn you about what MAY well happen to you as you enter the big bad world.  I found out many of these the hard way.  Beware.

1)            Graduation day will be euphoric.

Whatever your result, wearing a mortarboard (which you end up praying won’t fall off during the ceremony) and a flowing (but heavy) gown on a (hopefully) sunny day, will feel EPIC.  If your parents are anything like mine, they’ll make you feel like a celebrity.  It is fantastic.

2)            But brace yourself for the continuing job search (or starting it) Continue reading Recent Graduate Life: what might happen to you