Monday 5 September 2022

9 Amazon UK kitchen essentials to make cooking easier

I dislike lots of clutter in my kitchen - that being said, if there's a gadget or piece of tech that will make my life easier, I'll make a place for it somewhere amongst the pots and pans!

Lately, with the cost of living rising, I've been finding myself cooking a lot more meals at home. Where I would usually treat myself with a meal out on a Saturday night, I know that I can make it so much cheaper with ingredients from the grocers. And, as I enjoy cooking so much, this act of making myself a delicious meal with my own hands has become an important act of self care for me.

Having begun cooking so much more frequently, I've been browsing Amazon to check for tools to make the process simpler and more enjoyable. Many of these tools I've found are relatatively reasonable in price and - even better - have a very low cost-per-use as I'm utilising them almost every day.

Here are 10 kitchen essentials that I would highly recommend if you love cooking, if you want to cook at home more due to the rising cost of living, or if you just fancy treating yourself.

1. 9-in-1 vegetable chopper

If there's one thing I physically can't stand, it's chopping onions. I've tried everything that the internet has suggested, from wearing glasses to soaking the onions in water prior to chopping. My eyes stream when I cut them, and it's not just irritating, it's painful. I guess I just have very sensitive eyes...

This vegetable chopper does the job for me in one swift move - no chopping board, no knife, no crying. It comes with a load of extras too, including:
  • Hand peeler
  • Juicer
  • Spiraliser
  • Egg separator
Bar the peeler, I had none of these tools prior to buying this set, so my kitchen is well equipped!

Buy it here.

2. Food Huggers

Talking about onions, have you been in that position where you've only used half of one, and had to store the other half? I prefer not to use cling film as it's a single-use plastic and therefore a poor environmental choice, and placing it in tupperware seems to dry it out. 

Instead, these food huggers come in handy! Just pop one over the cut side of the onion, and it keeps it fresh, ready for when you need it. They can also fit over the tops of jars and tins, and they're reusable and dishwasher safe!

Buy them here.

3. Nesting mixing bowls with attachments

Before the pandemic, I had just one mixing bowl - a plastic mixing bowl that I bought around six years ago, that has been used for everything from making meringue to mixing up guacamole. While it's still well used, these nesting bowls have also come in very handy for their various sizes and attachments.

They've got non-slip bottoms, which means that they won't slide around on hard kitchen counters. They also come with lids, which is ideal for storing food, marinating and more! But what's really handy is the attachments - a shredder, grater and slicer. These fit into the top of the largest bowl, so you can shred, grate and slice directly into it, and the bowl will catch all the food.

Buy them here.

4. Large silicone ice moulds

I know what you're thinking - these ice moulds aren't really a cooking utensil. But in fact, they come in very handy for storing liquids which can be ready to use in cooking, such as stock, which can be frozen for up to four months. You can also use them for portions of soup, smoothies, and my personal favourite, coffee (great if you love iced coffee but don't want it watered down with ice cubes made with water.

Buy them here.

5. Stasher silicone food bags

These are a little on the pricey side (£56 for a pack of four at the time of writing), but they last for SO long, and they can be used in the dishwasher, microwave and freezer for storing food. They're ideal for leftovers, or for taking food to work or school - you can also used them as makeup bags for travelling, pencil cases, and much more.

Each bag is self sealing, featuring air tight technology which is great for marinating, which I do a lot of! I'm a big fan of tofu, and these bags are ideal for marinating cubes or slices for use in a couple of hours of the next day. Best of all the bags are BPA, PVC and latex-free.

If the price is too high, save these in your wishlist until there's an Amazon Prime day, or wait for the Black Friday sales!

Buy them here.

6. Silicone pot holders

I love making one-pot meals, and if you have a few people round and want them to serve themselves, you can use these holders to pop your pot on so that it doesn't burn your table. They're non-slip, which is perfect if you're using a hard surface, and they're foldable - making for easy storing! I used to have a metal grid on which I'd place hot pots to serve, but it took up so much space in the cupboards. These holders really save me space!

Even better, being made from silicone, they're so easy to clean. You can hand wash them or place them in the dishwasher and they won't suffer from heat damage.

Buy them here.

7. COSORI Air Fryer

Air fryers are so popular lately, and the hype is totally justified. You can make SO many meals in an air fryer (from roast potatoes, to pork chops, to desserts) and you'd use far less oil than you would when frying. Air fryers are also so much better than a microwave when it comes to reheating food, as they reduce the reheating time, don't leave leftovers soggy, and reheat evenly (no more cold spots in your food). 

If you're worried about the cost of living increasing, an air fryer is a great initial investment. According to Heart, an electric oven could cost you up to £316.54 to run per year, whereas as air fryer costs just £52.74 per year - that's just over 14p per day. It's also very easy to clean!

This COSORI air fryer has rave reviews on Amazon. Have a read for yourself here to see if it's the right one for you.

8. Fresh cut herb keeper

I love to grow herbs, but I use them a lot in my cooking, so when I've run out I tend to pop to the shops to keep me topped up while my plants put out new leaves. However, I do find that cut herbs go bad really quickly, which is where this herb keeper helps!

You pour some water in the bottom of the tank, then stand the herbs up inside and cover over with the clear top. Then, you just pop it in your fridge until you're ready to use the herbs. They'll be much fresher than leaving them in a bag without hydration.

Buy it here.

9. Bowl huggers

Taking hot dishes out of the microwave can be cumbersome - I can't recount how many times a bowl has slipped out of my hand because it was too hot and the tea towel I was covering it with wasn't thick enough to protect me from the heat.

These bowl huggers are microwave safe, which means they you can place your dish or bowl of food inside them and microwave them together. They're also great for holding your food while you're eating!

Buy them here.

Want to shop more kitchen essentials? Take a look at my Amazon storefront, where I've created lists of everything that I use in the kitchen and the rest of the home.

Saturday 25 June 2022

How to keep your skin in check post-workout

Whether you love exercise or you see it as a necessary mood-boosting practice, it’s a great way to take care of yourself.

The benefits of a good workout can’t be underestimated; it reduces stress, increases cardiovascular fitness, and can even give your skin a radiant glow. But if you’re not looking after your skin properly post-workout, you could be doing more harm to it than good.

Here, I have the ultimate guide to your post-workout skincare routine so you can reap the complexion-boosting benefits of your sweat sessions.

The right time and ingredients for cleansing

It won’t come as a surprise that your skin needs a thorough cleanse following exercise. Sweat is a sure-fire sign you’ve had a good session, but there has been mixed advice on whether it’s good for your skin and how and when to cleanse yourself of it.

Most of us now know that sweating is beneficial for our skin because it can flush impurities out of our pores. But did you know it could help you fight visible signs of ageing too? Exercising can make the mitochondria in our skin act younger, according to dermatologist Whitney Bowe MD – meaning a collagen boost, better hydration, and as a result, bouncier skin. And we’ve all experienced that unrivalled radiant post-workout glow.

Sweat becomes problematic if it dries on the skin – the impurities that it’s pushed out of your pores can be absorbed right back in. That’s why it’s essential to cleanse immediately after working out. Add an extra pore-cleansing boost by using a cleanser with salicylic acid to dissolve all the gunk that’s come out of your pores. If you have drier skin, choose a silky-textured face wash that gently foams to wash away any dirt and debris while leaving your skin soft and hydrated.

Boost your skin with treatments

Once you’ve purged all the sweat and impurities from your skin, you can use your serums and treatments. Your skin could become red and sensitive temporarily after a workout, so a nourishing treatment will help boost hydration and calm any inflammation or sensitivity.

Look out for ingredients like niacinamide, which can reduce redness in the skin and strengthen your moisture barrier – essential after a workout. As an added bonus, it can reduce the appearance of pores, helping to keep out any other pollutants that might try to work their way in there post-cleanse.

A face mist is another great option for post-workout skin because it can cool your face down while delivering hydrating ingredients that’ll replenish any water lost during your workout. It can also supercharge the rest of your routine, adding an extra layer of hydration that you can lock in with your next step.

Moisturising and protecting

Keeping your post-workout skincare routine simple will not only allow you to freshen up faster, but it’ll also ensure you’re not overwhelming your skin. Moisturiser is an essential step in any routine, but especially a post-exercise one. Sweat contains sodium, which can potentially dry out the surface of your skin. If you have a condition like eczema, sweat can exacerbate it.

You can use your tried-and-trusted moisturiser after working out if it already works for your skin. If you have oily skin, it’s best to stick to a gel texture that won’t overwhelm your post-workout skin. Dry skin will need a rich moisturiser to replenish any lost moisture – and if your skin isn’t overly oily, you might benefit from a cream with a thicker texture after working out to rehydrate your complexion.

If you work out during the day, don’t forget that all-important SPF – if you’ve exercised outdoors then we trust you’ll have applied it before working out. If you’re heading out again after your post-workout cleanse, you’ll need to reapply. Worked out at the gym? Don’t forget to reapply it before you leave.

Don’t forget your body

A lot of skincare advice focuses on our faces, but we can’t forget our bodies – especially after exercise. Make sure you change out of your workout gear as soon as possible. Fitted clothing can trap sweat on our bodies and lead to itching, irritation, and body acne. You should even change out of looser clothing too, so the sweat doesn’t get a chance to dry on our sensitive skin.

If you suffer from body acne, especially post-workout, use a body wash with active ingredients that can tackle the bacteria and sweat that’s causing it – salicylic acid is great at clearing away impurities both on the skin and in your pores, while benzoyl peroxide fights bacteria.

Like your face, your body needs to be rehydrated after a workout. A rich body moisturiser will leave your skin happy – and if you enjoy making the most of your post-workout glow, adding tan drops into it will leave your skin bright and bronzed without streaking or sinking into your pores.

The don’ts of workout skincare

You now know everything you need to do to care for your skin after exercising. But if you’re thinking about adding in a few steps, make sure it isn’t one of the below:

  • Using a harsh scrub: facial scrubs often do more harm than good, but harsh scrubs are a total no-go after exercise, when your skin is more sensitive and could even tear more easily.

  • Working out in makeup or with dirty skin: it’ll come as no surprise that makeup can stop sweat from flushing out your pores, but skin that hasn’t been cleansed can have the same effect.

  • Going hard with active ingredients: while cleansers with actives can be especially effective after a workout, don’t double down with strong acid-laden serums. And leave the retinol for your nightly routine – or another night if you enjoy an evening workout.

  • Scrubbing with a towel: you might want to sop up sweat with a towel as you work out and that’s fine, but don’t scrub too hard – this can make your skin sensitive and sore.

Exercise is important for maintaining balanced mood and health, and it also has a lot of skin-boosting benefits. But it’s important that we protect our skin after a sweat session to prevent clogged pores, sallowness, sensitivity, and dryness. By following these tips, you’ll have a natural, radiant glow for hours and days after your workout.


Wednesday 22 June 2022

3 influencers who are making an impact in the beauty industry

Perceptions about beauty change over time and across different cultures. In Ancient Egypt, a slender figure and a symmetrical face accentuated by green and blue eyeshadows, bright-coloured lipstick, and a strong eyeliner made from animal fat was the beauty standard. Later, the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan era, and the Victorian era appreciated pale skin and minimal make-up.

Today, we’re seeing an eclectic amalgamation of beauty trends that fuse dramatic contouring, full matte lips, and dense eyebrows with skinimalism, which embraces the ‘less is more’ principle.

There are certain people that are paving the glittery way to the beauty realms through their astonishing social media accounts. Designer bikinis brand Heidi Klein roamed the internet to rank the most popular beauty influencers based on their Instagram engagement rate, average Instagram earnings per post, Instagram followers, and average Instagram likes.

Here are the beauty influencers that are changing the face of beauty in 2022.

Chiara Ferragni: on a rollercoaster of life and beauty

“The life that I'm living right now, I never thought it was possible ever. I try and remember that, but I also allow myself to feel down. You can't always fight the bad and miserable times; you have to accept that life has ups and downs. It's not about where you are right now, it's about the whole ride, which is why I always say, ‘No one queues for a flat rollercoaster’.

“The idea of trying to be happy all the time is way too much pressure. We cannot always be at our best, full selves, and allowing yourself time to feel will help you appreciate the better days more,” says Chiara Ferragni in an interview with Glamour magazine.

Chiara’s journey into the world of beauty influencers started from afar. As a student in international law at Milan’s Bocconi University, she started her fashion blog The Blonde Salad all the way back in 2009. What started as a hobby turned into a full-time job very quickly, so she dropped out of her degree.

Currently, she has 27 million followers on Instagram, 291,858 average likes per post, and an engagement rate of 163%, which brings her to the top of the chart. But what’s most shocking about her influencer game is that she is earning an average of £56,275.65 per Instagram post, which is more than double what the second most popular beauty influencer Zoe Sugg is earning.

The fact that Chiara Ferragni has such a dedicated social media community comes as no surprise. She is not only sharing her beauty routine with them but is also showing her real life, featuring her husband and two children.

One of the most spectacular events that highlighted Chiara’s glamour was her wedding extravaganza in Sicily in September 2018. Over the course of three days, Chiara wore three custom-made dresses by Dior. The wedding even had its own Instagram hashtag ‘#Ferragnez’ that gain 67 million views, shares, and reads, which is the equivalent of the UK population.

Zoe Sugg

It’ll be a big surprise if you haven’t heard of Zoella. The blog, and now the brand, is the brainchild of beauty influencer Zoe Sugg, who also happens to be the sister of influencer Joe Sugg.

Zoe started her fashion and beauty blog in 2009, the same year as Chiara Ferragni, in her bedroom in Wiltshire while doing an internship in interior design. Since then, she has launched multiple cosmetics products, gift ranges, and books in her brand. On Instagram, the influencer prides herself on having over 9 million followers, 191,517 average likes, and a 3.07% engagement rate. She’s earning a whopping £19,587.66 per post on average.

Zoe is a pioneer in the beauty blogging and influencer industry and has over 16 million YouTube subscribers that are enjoying her beauty tutorials. Her influencer game doesn’t end on social media, though. Zoe is a fervent mental health advocate and has been announced as a Digital Ambassador for mental health charity Mind. For her 28th birthday, Zoe she raised a whopping £13,848 in followers’ donations for Mind.

Victoria Magrath

Victoria Magrath is yet another influencer who revolutionised the beauty blogger industry all the way back in 2012 when she founded her blog and YouTube channel, both called inthefrow, which is a play on ‘in the front row’.

Recently, the British influencer changed her Instagram account name to Victoria, and the change might have something to do with her continuous evolution. “I am a brand ambassador, content creator, fashion and beauty blogger, brand consultant, author, influencer, and entrepreneur. I am also the director of a social media marketing company, with a team to consider and inspire,” shared Victoria in an interview for Harper’s Bazaar.

Talking about the stigma around the label ‘influencer’, Victoria commented: “Our channels are a bridge between brands and their customer base; carefully curated, direct-to-consumer marketing paired with increased engagement allows the consumer a voice."

Victoria constantly shares engaging content that incorporates the latest trends, including reels and TikTok videos. With a PhD in Fashion and having worked as a lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester, Victoria sure knows her fashion and beauty, and that’s evident in the content she produces.

On Instagram, she has 3.4 million followers, 234,000 average likes, and an engagement rate of 4.50%, attesting to the quality of her work and her creativity. In return, she is earning a whopping £8,690.00 per post on average.

The way the world of beauty evolves is dictated by us, the people. The success stories of these beauty influencers show us that beauty trends are formed as a conversation between influencers, brands, and most importantly, the online community. It’s time to raise your beautiful voice!


Monday 20 June 2022

How to create a vegan beauty routine


Veganism has increased by 40% in the last year alone as more of us than ever shun animal products in our diets. If you’re one of the many people giving veganism a go for the first time now, you may experience a period of adjustment as you explore your new lifestyle.

Once you’ve adapted to your new plant-based diet, you might look at incorporating vegan practices into other areas of life, including your household items and our beauty routines. Brands are taking notice of consumers looking to be more ethical in their wider lives – 82% of new vegan products that were launched in 2020 were beauty products.

If you’re dipping your toe into veganism and vegan beauty for the first time, I have some tips for harnessing the most effective vegan ingredients in beauty and skincare, and cover some swaps for popular non-vegan ingredients that’ll help you hit your beauty goals.

The most effective vegan ingredients

When it comes to your beauty and skincare routines, you want your products to be effective as well as vegan. Look out for these powerhouse vegan ingredients for glowing skin.

Lactic acid

Most alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) are vegan, but it might come as a surprise to some that even most lactic acid is vegan. While it’s present in dairy products including milk and yoghurt, the lactic acid that is used in skincare is vegan. The benefits of this AHA were indeed discovered through using dairy products topically – famous queens including Cleopatra and Elizabeth I were said to have bathed in milk to enhance their complexion. But thanks to dermatologically formulated lactic acid, you don’t have to touch a dairy product to reap the benefits!

Vitamin C

This brightening, youth-enhancing ingredient is vegan in its many forms – including L-ascorbic acid and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Like many AHAs, it’s usually derived from fruits and plants and stabilised in the laboratory – a complex process. Vitamin C is considered a holy grail in skincare, so it’s good to know that you can incorporate it into your vegan routine. Its benefits include boosting your skin’s collagen production, brightening dull skin and dark spots, reducing fine lines, and smoothing texture.


Caffeine has been used for years in skincare and beauty products. It’s renowned for its ability to tighten up skin, meaning it’s a great ingredient for eye creams as well as body moisturisers. You can also find caffeine in newer beauty items like gradual tan lotions, where it offers tightening benefits alongside a golden tan.

Vegan beauty swaps

Some of our favourite beauty ingredients aren’t vegan. But you don’t need to worry – there are plenty of swaps you can make to incorporate vegan-friendly ingredients into your beauty routines.

Swap retinol for bakuchiol

Retinol, and its variations, is regarded as one of the most effective skincare ingredients out there. The vitamin A derivative encourages cell turnover in skin, which means churning out healthy, plump, new skin and reducing signs of premature ageing. But it’s a form of vitamin A that can only be found in animals, so it’s not vegan-friendly.

Bakuchiol, a plant-derived alternative, is soaring in popularity thanks to promising studies that show it could have the same effects as retinol. So if you’re obsessed with the results you get from your retinol, give bakuchiol a go.

Swap squalane for…squalane

Squalane is an underrated ingredient in skincare and beauty. It mimics our skin’s natural oils, making it an amazing option for dry skin babes because their skin doesn’t produce enough oil. Its similarities to our skin’s oils mean it won’t overwhelm oily skin either. Squalane has traditionally come from shark liver, but now plant-based formulas have been developed so you can reap the benefits of this nourishing ingredient without harming any sea life. Other popular hydrating ingredients, including hyaluronic acid, now also have vegan versions thanks to a surge in demand for vegan beauty.

Swap beeswax for plant-derived oils

Beeswax is a classic ingredient that’s used in everything from lip balms and lipsticks to body moisturisers and mascara. While it doesn’t come directly from an animal, it’s energy-intensive and not vegan due to the impact it can have on bees, as well as concerns surrounding how it is harvested. But the good news is you can take some work away from our busy bees and swap out beeswax for plant-derived oils such as vegetable oil (in makeup), avocado oil, jojoba seed oil, and argan oil (bodycare products). Synthetic beeswax also closely matches the texture and effects of the real deal.

As we become more aware of our impact on the world, we’re addressing the ethics and the sustainability of everything we consume. The vegan lifestyle has been steadily growing for years, and plant-based beauty has exploded more recently thanks to our passion for the planet. A lot of highly effective skincare and beauty ingredients are vegan or have vegan alternatives, so you can choose cruelty-free options that still give you the results you’re looking for.


Monday 25 April 2022

Revenge travel: What is it and why is it popular right now?

Right now, I've never been more excited to travel. Visiting unique and exciting places has always been part of an ongoing goal for me, but after two years spent on the ground (bar a couple of trips to Ireland), I have the urge to get on a plane to anywhere - even if it's just a quick trip to one of my failsafe destinations like Portugal or Greece.

And it seems like I'm not the only one. With more savings under their belt, easing COVID-19 restrictions, and a thirst for new experiences, Britons are 'revenge spending' and 'revenge travelling', and this is said to be shaping the 2022 holiday landscape.

Revenge spending = over-financing FOMO

The concept of revenge travel has its origins way back in the 1980s and is a take on “revenge spending”. When China’s economy saw an uprise after decades of economic paralysis, people flooded the market with their enormous spending on luxury goods.

Today, we’re seeing a resurrection of the concept as a response to the previous restrictions of the pandemic. With everyday life almost restored, people are finding themselves swept up in the post-lockdown impulse to spend their money.

“It’s a phenomenon that’s really about to erupt as we exit all restrictions and have the ability to spend the money we’ve been saving since 2020. The pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, and some people may feel that their spending is justified,” says Jonny Sabinsky, head of communications at thinkmoney.

According to YouGov, one in three Britons have bolstered their savings since the pandemic began, amounting to an average of £4,500. But what are they most willing to splash out on?
Revenge travel in 2022

It turns out that the itch for travel is huge. A GlobalData Poll found that 28% of 210 respondents have dedicated a holiday budget that’s either ‘a lot’ or ‘slightly’ higher than before COVID-19.

Making the most of 2022, sunbathing in the blazing sun in designer bikinis and soaking in the far-away culture of a dream destination is shaping the revenge travel landscape both in the UK and globally.

"As we've all been isolated for so long [...] everyone is desperate to meet other people and have new experiences," said Lee Thompson, founder and owner of London-based travel firm Flash Pack.

The firm reported seeing a “massive surge in bookings” in recent months. Even the higher prices of plane tickets due to sanctions against Russian oil exports won’t hold travellers back from satiating their thirst for new experiences.

Flash Pack isn’t the only travel agent that has noted an increase in bookings for the 2022 holiday season. Lorne Blyth, founder of Edinburgh-based travel firm Flavours Holidays, reported that her company’s bookings for 2022 are already reaching 2019 levels and that their customers aren’t concerned about the rising flight prices.

Top destinations: the year of bucket list trips and firm favourites

Intriguingly, travel bookers are showcasing a keen interest in extravagant, long-haul getaways for summer 2022. The accumulation of savings funds, a longing for a sky-high holiday, and an over-financing FOMO are all feeding into travellers’ destination choices.

“People are booking real ‘bucket list’ trips. They are splashing out on once-in-a-lifetime trips to long-haul destinations. This is ‘revenge travel’,” said Ben Casey, founder of Out of This World Travel in Solihull. His travel company has already received double the enquiries and bookings in the first period of 2022 compared with the previous year.

The US is one of the top destinations for holiday bookers in 2022. In fact, 18.1% of Britons are planning on visiting the country in 2022 as of August 2021, according to the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA). New York and Florida are amongst the most popular destinations. Google search interest for “New York” in the UK has increased from an interest score of 44 during April 11–17 2021 to 98 during March 27–April 2 2022. Similarly, Google search interest for “Florida” has increased from an interest score of 67 to 97 during the same time period. They're both currently on the rise.

Other long-haul destinations that offer travellers the holiday of their lifetime, as well as a chance to reconnect with family and friends abroad, include Australia (5.1%) and Canada (4.5%).

Ben Casey has also noticed increased bookings in more exotic destinations, such as Mauritius and the Maldives, which are great honeymoon spots.

“We had one person book a trip to climb Mount Everest; someone else is off to Borneo to see the orangutans, and we have had bookings for Japan, inspired by Joanna Lumley’s recent TV shows showing her touring the country,” commented Ben.

Alongside ‘bucket list’ destinations, holidaymakers are also booking firm favourites close to home. Spain, for example, is leading the way, with 29.3% of respondents claiming they plan to visit it in 2022. France (17.8%), Italy (16.4%), and Greece (10.1%) also make the top five, promising immersion into rich European culture, blazing sun, and beautiful cuisine.

Jetting off to a far-away destination seems more possible in 2022 than ever before. A long-haul getaway feels like the perfect way to make up for the quieter holiday season in the last few years, and Britons are determined to make the most of it.

Friday 22 April 2022

How your gut influences your health in more ways than one

“Listen to your gut” has become a buzz phrase in today’s health-conscious and mindfulness-oriented society. While the phrase is used to refer to our intuition, its connection with the gut is not a coincidence.

The gut is often referred to as the second brain due to the bacteria and nerves contained there that control our brain. It’s not only responsible for some vital bodily functions but also for our mood.

We venture to unveil the mystery of our gut and learn how to improve our gut health so that we can enjoy a fulfilling life.
Why is gut health important?

The gut contains a rich portfolio of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, around 1,000 species weighing approximately three pounds. Collectively, they are called the gut microbiome. But those bacteria aren’t harmful; on the contrary, they benefit our health and livelihood. They’re responsible for digesting food, getting rid of toxins, and keeping us happy and healthy.

Apart from breaking down food, the microbiome in our gut keeps our immune system intact to prevent us from diseases. In fact, 70% - 80% of our immune system is located in the gut.

Studies have also revealed a link between our gut health and mental health. There is something called the Microbiome Gut Brain (MGB) Axis which connects our gut microbiome with our brain through the nervous system. It “regulates our mood, response to stressors, movement, and ability to form memories and process information”. Also, more than 90% of our serotonin – the happiness hormone – is produced in the gut. If our gut microbiome is in dysbiosis, an imbalance of microorganisms, these functions are also affected.

Unhealthy gut: the causes

Unfortunately, about 40% of the UK population experiences a minimum of one digestive problem symptom at any given time. This negatively affects the quality of our lives. It’s not just the stress of our lives that can cause gut issues, the way we medicate ourselves with antibiotics can too.

Dr Grace Liu, also known as The Gut Goddess, shared the following in an interview for the Gaia series Healing Matrix: “Here, in the Western world, studies are showing that even after one course of antibiotics, we’re depleting such a great amount of microbiome. We literally can lose 1/3 or 2/3 of our whole microbiome with even one course of antibiotics, and it never reverts back for some people”.

If we want to improve our microbiome, we need to learn something from the cultures whose gut health is thriving. These are the Amish and the Blue Zoners. The latter live in geographical regions called Blue Zones where people are the healthiest and live the longest. Studies have shown that these cultures have a diverse microbiome including species that are extinct in the Western world.

Dr Grace Liu adds: “So, the way I look at the microbiome, it’s kind of like a wealth portfolio. Here in the Western world, we’re bankrupt in terms of our microbiome”.

How to improve your gut health?

Even if we might be a little short on vital species in our gut microbiome, there are ways we can enrich our microbiome portfolio through diet, detox, and probiotics. Here is how.

Fibre, fibre, fibre.

Dietary fibre promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. There are two types of fibre, each having its own benefits to your gut. Insoluble fibre helps with bowel movement, prevents constipation, and fills you up. It’s found in grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and the outer skin of root vegetables.

Soluble fibre, on the other hand, slows down digestion and regulates blood glucose levels. It’s contained in most fruits and vegetables, legumes, and oats.

30g of dietary fibre is the daily recommended amount.

Eat fermented foods

Dietary fibre has an amazing quality called fermentability. That is the extent to which a fibre is broken down by our gut bacteria. Fermented foods contain natural microorganisms called probiotics, which enhance our gut flora.

Try adding a portion of the following fermented foods in your diet every day: kimchi, sauerkraut, yoghurt, kombucha, kefir, and fermented vegetables such as pickles and onions.

If you feel like you need an extra probiotic boost, try probiotic supplements. These live bacteria and yeasts restore your microbiome balance.

Eat prebiotics

What probiotics feed off is prebiotics, the “fertilisers in our gardens”. They’re essential for keeping our ecosystem intact and are contained in foods such as onions, garlic, tomatoes, bananas, asparagus, and chicory.

Replace refined sugar with organic chocolate

Excessive amount of processed sugar and artificial sweeteners can cause microbiome dysbiosis. Heavy amounts of processed sugar are contained in most packaged foods and ready meals.

Of course, not all sugar is bad, rather, it’s vital for us. But instead of consuming ‘bad’ sugar, implement natural sugar (carbohydrates) into your diet in the form of fruits and vegetables.

Just like a drug, sugar is addictive. Oftentimes, we use it to add a pinch of sweetness into our lives and uplift our mood. However, after the initial sugar rush comes a sugar crash caused by the overworking of insulin and stress hormones. This leaves us feeling lethargic.

Instead, try and nurture your emotions to avoid sugar binges harming your gut microbiome. Alternatively, do yourself a favour and indulge in some organic chocolate. It’s packed full of nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, and calcium, and naturally boosts your serotonin level. It’s for a reason that the Mayans used to call cacao “the food of the gods”.

Sleep well

In our busy modern lives, we tend to neglect sleep. However, our bodies’ rhythms dictate our gut health. When we don’t get enough sleep, we give way for inflammatory bacteria to flourish in our gut, while healthy bacteria diminish.

Moreover, insufficient sleep can increase hunger levels and lead to obesity. So, make sure you get a good night’s sleep as often as you can.

Practise mindful eating

Mindful eating means paying attention to all your senses while eating: smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing. Turn your dining experience into a ritual. This will help you better understand your appetite and prevent you from overeating, find joy and appreciation in your food, and aid your digestion.

While eating, chew your food properly, so that your saliva releases enzymes that help with digestion. Also, make sure you’re stress free while having your meal, and avoid consuming too many drinks as they could overload your digestive system.

We all tend to focus on gaining riches, but how often do we stop and think about the wealth of our gut microbiome? To guarantee a healthy and fulfilling life, make sure you take care of your gut health and don’t forget to listen to your gut!


Thursday 21 April 2022

Is TikTok the new authority on skincare?

If there’s one platform that’s turned the skincare game on its head, it’s TikTok.

Once the domain of viral dances, the app is now bursting with engaging videos from dermatologists, aestheticians, and ‘skinfluencers’. With access to so much expert advice, TikTok has replaced Insta as our go-to social media app for all things skincare and beauty.

We’re engaging with skincare content on TikTok more than ever. Currently, #skincare is sitting at over 65 billion – yes, BILLION! – views.

52% of us say we use TikTok
to find new products, while influencer posts were up 16% in early 2021 compared to 2020.

Below, I cover three ways TikTok has revolutionised how we think about skincare and beauty.

Access to expert advice

We know from hours of scrolling endlessly on Instagram that the influencers we engage with aren’t necessarily qualified experts. We still love watching OOTD videos from our favourite influencers, but unlike fashion, there’s a science to skincare. On ‘SkinTok’, as it has been affectionately dubbed, we have access to advice from people who’ve studied the things they’re educating us on. While we love skinfluencers like @skincarebyhyram, we’re also turning to qualified dermatologists like @dermdoctor and @dermbeautydoc to help us nail our routines.

These experts are busting all the myths that we’ve grown up with, giving us the knowledge we need to have our healthiest skin ever. Thanks to their no-nonsense advice, we know that scrubbing at our acne with rough exfoliators will aggravate it, not make it go away. We know hydration and moisture is the key to keeping our skin youthful and bouncy. Most importantly, these qualified influencers are educating us on the importance of SPF – so if you’re looking for that all-important bronzed glow, self-tan and tan drops are the way to go!

In a world where anyone can be an influencer, having access to real, expert advice is important for looking after our skin. Save the reality star influencers for your fashion and make-up scrolling.

Ingredients, ingredients, ingredients

One of the benefits of following qualified experts is that they’re educating us on the ingredients in our products. Now, we’re smarter than ever before and we know what ingredients to look out for. We know now that our teenage ‘holy-grail’ products like witch hazel are actually too harsh for our skin, while salicylic acid will help unclog those pores and leave our skin glowing.

Thanks to TikTok, we’re selling out products that boast the ingredients we’re craving. The Ordinary’s TikTok-famous peeling solution has sold out so many times, with sales trebling yearly. We’ve also been introduced to new brands at affordable prices that include these powerhouse ingredients – meaning we can splurge more money on make-up and nights out! Our skin has never looked more radiant thanks to hyaluronic acid, retinol, and niacinamide.

We’re learning about the ingredients behind our favourite serums and creams. In turn, we’re empowered to make smart choices when we buy new products. No more being sucked in by stunning packaging and false promises.

Viral hacks lead the way

Who doesn’t love a life hack? Skincare and beauty hacks on TikTok aren’t in short supply, with users offering tips to improve your products and routines. Experts like @charlotteparler have taught us that applying most of our skincare products to damp skin can supercharge their effects – hello, glowing queen!

Our lips have never been plumper and poutier since we started layering a moisturiser under our lip balms, and our faces are also more sculpted when we leave the house in the morning thanks to massaging in our products, which helps reduce puffiness.

But, as with anything else, if something sounds too good to be true, it is. DIY face masks and treatments are huge on TikTok, with unqualified creators recommending blends of lemon juice, baking soda, and even egg whites. Our favourite TikTok derms recommend against these hacks because they can undo all the hard work we’ve put into our smooth, glowing complexions. Instead, look for products formulated with skin-loving ingredients. For example, try goji berries, which are an amazing antioxidant, instead of slathering raw ingredients on your face.

When it comes to skincare hacks on TikTok, I recommend sticking to viral techniques – like facial massage and damp skin – instead of DIY concoctions that could lead to red, irritated skin and acne outbreaks. That’s the last thing we want!

It’s safe to say that while Insta provides us with endless fashion and beauty inspo, TikTok reigns supreme for skincare content. Through these fast-paced videos, we’ve learnt about the ingredients that make our skin baby soft and radiant, as well as the ones to avoid. We’ve incorporated facial massage into our routines, and we know how to spot new products that’ll work for our skin type. ‘SkinTok’ shows no signs of slowing down, so get on it – it’s got everything you need for gorgeous, glowing skin.


Wednesday 20 April 2022

What you need to eat for perfect skin - according to your skin

Your quest for flawless skin knows no bounds. You’ve perfected your skincare routine and you know what ingredients work best for your skin type. You’re double-cleansing to remove makeup and all the pore-clogging dirt and grime that builds up on your face to achieve perfectly clear skin. You have a multi-step regime that incorporates moisturisers, serums, and SPF.

But if you want to take your skincare to the next level, it’s time to look at enhancing the effects of your topical treatments.

The food you eat can make a huge difference to the clarity and appearance of your skin. But I'm not talking about that age-old myth of junk food causing acne. I mean the foods that can make a positive difference and leave you with soft, glowing skin.

Here, I cover some of the best foods you can include in your diet based on your skin type.

Oily skin needs oily foods

Remember the time when everyone thought a facial oil was going to make their oiliness worse? We now know that certain facial oils can counteract skin’s oil production. But did you know the same applies to oily foods?

Foods with anti-inflammatory oils have been found to counteract oil production in the skin. And there are some delicious options to choose from.

Olives and olive oil

Olives and olive oil contain high levels of anti-inflammatory oils, leading to a reduction in the skin’s natural oil production. They can also improve your gut microbiome, which is another way it can help your skin. Studies have shown that unhealthy gut bacteria can lead to inflammatory skin conditions including acne and psoriasis.

A word of warning – don’t put this oil on your skin. While a lot of influencers – and even celebrities including J.Lo – promote using olive oil topically on your face, dermatologists including Dr Muneeb Shah and Dr Alexis Stephens have warned against it on their TikTok platforms. It can cause trans-epidermal water loss, which dries out our skin, and even encourages fungus to grow. Yikes.

Oily fish

Another oily food that can counteract oily skin is oily fish – including tuna, salmon, mackerel, and herring. This is because of its powerhouse ingredient: EPA. A type of Omega-3, this ingredient regulates the hormones in our body that are responsible for stress, which can lead to oil production.

EPA can also reduce inflammation in the body, often caused by stress – are you spotting a theme here?

If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, Omega-3 supplements are a great addition to your diet.

Healthy fats for dry skin

Dry skin occurs when the skin doesn’t produce enough of its own natural oils. Dry skin can also be deficient in ceramides and lipids, the skin’s natural fatty acids that keep it plump and hydrated. Supercharge your skincare routine by incorporating foods rich in healthy fats for dewy, hydrated skin.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are well known as some of the best sources of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They can help your skin build up its essential moisture barrier, alongside your barrier-boosting skincare products that contain ceramides and lipids.

Almonds are a great choice for especially dry skin because they’re high in magnesium and vitamin E, both ingredients that can boost your skin’s moisture from the inside out. Walnuts also have fats that can draw moisture in from the air. The skincare experts amongst you will know this is a property of hyaluronic acid, which the magnesium found in walnuts helps our body to produce!

Fruit and vegetables

Certain fruits and vegetables are packed with ingredients that hydrate dry skin. Guava is the most vitamin C-rich food (that’s right, it’s not oranges). But if that’s not accessible to you, kiwi fruit and bell peppers are the second and third highest on the list.

Topical vitamin C is well-known for a host of benefits including skin brightening, hydration, anti-ageing, and fighting sun damage. But it can sometimes be too irritating for dry and sensitive skin types. Eating your vitamin C can provide your skin with some of these benefits without the added side effect of irritation.

Food that works for all skin

If you have oily or dry skin, don’t feel like you have to stick to the specific foods above. We also need to consider combination skin, which suffers from both oiliness and dryness. The most common complaint of people with combination skin is an oily t-zone, but dry cheeks and forehead. There are also some lucky guys and gals out there who have normal skin, which doesn’t suffer heavily from oiliness or dryness.

As well as incorporating the above foods into your diet, here are some foods that can benefit all skin types.

Dark chocolate

Forget what you’ve been told about chocolate ruining your skin. While the dairy and sugar in milk chocolate can potentially cause some side effects like puffiness, dark chocolate is amazing for skin. It can supercharge your SPF – something you should be wearing every single day – because of its high antioxidant levels.

Studies have also shown that eating dark chocolate regularly can give you thicker, more hydrated skin – which is great news if you’re interested in anti-ageing, because thin, dehydrated skin is more prone to signs of ageing.

Green tea

An amazing all-rounder for skin, you might just want to start sipping green tea on a daily basis. Its ingredient, EGCG, can limit the production of androgens – hormones that can increase your sebum production. This makes it perfect for oily skin.

If you have dry, combination, or normal skin, don’t worry – green tea can still offer you plenty of benefits. it can reduce existing sun damage in your skin, which can be a cause of dryness if you’re a reformed sunbed user. It also revives dying skin cells, meaning sufferers of dry, flaky, or ageing skin can rejoice. Green tea also has these benefits when applied topically – win-win!

When it comes to looking after our skin, there’s no doubt that our skincare products reign supreme. Topical ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide can penetrate our skin and make a difference on the surface. The most important thing for clear, plump, youthful skin is the products you apply – so make sure you have your routine nailed. Then, you can look to boost it even further by incorporating these skin-friendly foods into your diet for the best skin of your life.

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Why you should be staying out of the sun this summer (and what to do instead)

I used to love the feeling of being in the sun, but after one terribly long sunbathing session that ended up in awful burns and peeling all over my skin as a silly teenager, I decided since then that I would keep my sun exposure to a minimum.

Not only can UV rays cause burning, they are also the culprit behind advanced signs of ageing and skin damage.

However, if you love the feeling of light on your skin, there are actually different types of light therapy that can mimic the way the sun feels on our skin – plus, with added skincare benefits.

Here, I cover the type of lights you should stay away from, and the ones you need to become familiar with.

Stay away from: UV rays

That’s right. Your Ibiza beach vacations and sunbed sessions are potentially doing you damage. UV rays are the number one culprit of skin cancer – whether you get them from a sunbed or a day on the coast. But shockingly, only 11% of people regularly use SPF – and 46% never use it! It’s no wonder that skin cancer is one of the most common cancers.

As well as the horrifying dangers of skin cancer, UV rays are also the biggest contributor to skin ageing. There’s no better way to illustrate this than the famous photo of the truck driver who never wore SPF and only got sun damage on one side of his face due to his routes exposing the left side more than the right.

Because of all of this, it’s essential that you wear SPF – yes, even on the coldest, cloudiest days. UV rays can penetrate through clouds and damage your skin even in the winter, so it’s non-negotiable if you want to avoid the risk of skin cancer and keep your skin healthy and youthful.

I'm not saying you should never go out in the sun again, but make sure you’re wearing SPF all over, don’t spend too long in the sun on hot days, and bring plenty of cover-ups like hats, kaftans, and sarongs. If you’re missing your golden beach tan, using tanning water is a guaranteed safe way to do it. No need to forego your golden glow to stay safe!

Invest your time in: blue light therapy

If you’ve been a sunbed junkie for years and you’re prepared to give up this damaging habit, blue light therapy is for you. Think of it as the antidote to all the damage that has been caused by sunbathing without SPF or using sunbeds.

Blue light is used to reverse some of the damage caused by UV rays. It can both prevent skin cancer from forming and treat cancerous growths or patches of skin. When combined with a photosynthesizing treatment applied to the skin, it can target and kill off cancer cells. If you’re a reformed sunbather or sunbed user, we recommend talking to your derm about blue light therapy.

As well as these health-saving benefits, blue light therapy also has skincare benefits. If you have large pores and produce a lot of oil, blue light therapy can reduce the size of your sebaceous glands and in turn reduce acne. If all of that isn’t enough, it’s also used to treat depression and is particularly effective when treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A true all-rounder.

Get to know: red light therapy

Red light therapy is a treatment that has been around for a long time. This therapy can be used for a range of treatments from psoriasis to acne and premature ageing. It delivers low-level wavelengths of red light to your skin and comes in many different forms.

Red light therapy masks have become popular in recent years as a way to address premature ageing on our faces. Facial red light therapy can also be delivered through handheld devices which are available at your dermatologist or as at-home devices – but be aware that at-home devices may be less effective.

For full-body treatments like soothing psoriasis symptoms or chemotherapy side effects, you can bask in the light of a full booth. If you’re a sunbed junkie seeking that relaxing, warm experience, red light therapy is a much safer treatment – and comes with way more benefits than UV sunbeds.

Whether you live in a sun-filled locations, or you love to holiday in warmer climes, chances are you are used to basking in the sun. And although there are ways to do this while protecting yourself, it’s a habit that’s not good for your skin or your health. I recommend shunning UV sunbeds in favor of blue or red light therapy booths and reducing your exposure to the sun to keep your skin and your body youthful and healthy.

Tuesday 22 March 2022

3 of the best TV shows to binge for style inspiration

I'm always one to appreciate the effort that goes into creating atmosphere and building characters by the costume department of a TV show or film. There's great skill that lies in recreating the fashion of a particular era or location, and translating that to the screen in a way that's not contrived.

Shows I've loved in the past for their attention to detail in regards to fashion have included The Serpent, featuring suave 70s fashion; Emily In Paris (of course); and Friends - growing up, Rachel Green was such a style icon, and still is to this day.

However, some more recent shows have caught my eye. Read on to find out what they are!

The Flight Attendant

While Cassie’s flight attendant costume is infinitely more stylish and wearable than a lot of real-life uniforms, that’s not the standout fashion moment of the show. We found ourselves mesmerised by the stunning gold sequined wrap dress the starring character wears on the night out in Bangkok that results in a season-long murder mystery. The dress, paired with a big bouncy blow-out, oozed glamour and sophistication.

Beyond this gorgeous party outfit, we’re treated to a parade of stunning tailored coats, from Cassie’s classy belted leather trench coat to her sugary pink bouclĂ© Isabel Marant number. Her brown slouchy tote bag completes every look perfectly. 

Cassie’s best friend, Annie, is also partial to a bouclĂ© texture, throwing an oversized greige coat on for a look that’s put-together while embodying effortless New York chic. Both Annie and Cassie favour these voluminous shapes in their coats; Cassie goes for an effortless androgynous look in her knee-length grey wool coat, while Annie looks like she’s just walked off the catwalk in a huge burgundy Isabel Marant cocoon number that envelopes her.

I've never had so much coat envy when watching a TV show!

Ted Lasso

This upbeat comedy might be male-dominated, but that doesn’t mean the female characters don’t stand out – not only for their well-rounded personalities but also for their beautiful outfits. Keeley Jones is a strong, independent woman, but her style is classic WAG – think Victoria Beckham and Coleen Rooney at the 2006 World Cup. Her wardrobe is fun and flirty, filled with gold hoop earrings and an array of bright, faux-fur coats. Keeley has fun with her silhouettes, from the oversized gold bomber jacket she wears to Richmond games to puff-sleeve blouses, frilly pyjamas, and palazzo pants.

Rebecca, meanwhile, is the definition of a power dresser, wearing tailored dresses, shirt-and-skirt combos, and never leaving the house without her trusty Louboutin stilettos. Rebecca favours a more neutral palette and streamlined, structured silhouette, giving off an air of class, elegance, and affluence in equal measures. Both women wear real designer pieces, but in very different ways.

It’s not just the ladies whose fashion stands out in Ted Lasso – who could forget Jamie Tartt’s flowered tracksuit and “ICON” cap?


Pose is undoubtedly known for the ballroom looks of its characters, which are glitzy, outlandish, and awe-inspiring. But the day-to-day outfits worn by our favourite characters sometimes get overshadowed by the ballroom get-ups.

Season three of Pose, released in 2021, takes place in the 1990s, and we’re not short on iconic era-appropriate outfits that wouldn’t look out of place in today’s nostalgia-fanatical world. Bright and bold faux fur outfits take centre stage in the final season, from Elektra’s head-to-toe post-box red ensemble to Blanca’s softer pink PVC coat with oversized fur details. 

Beyond glitzy, glamorous outfits, we see day-to-day outfits that evolve from the in-your-face ‘80s street styles to a more sultry, but still boxy and sporty, ‘90s style. Fashion is used to visualise the characters’ rise through society; the season ends with a finally wealthy Elektra meeting Angel, Blanca, and Lulu for brunch in an upmarket establishment. Elektra and Angel are dripping in opulent jewels and muted colours, in contrast to Blanca’s purple cowboy boots, fringed top, and miniskirt and Lulu’s blue bodycon number. The latter two characters have remained closer to their roots and still look just as fierce. According to Steven Canals, this scene pays homage to Sex and the City, whose characters’ backgrounds couldn’t be more different to our Pose favourites.

Some of my favourite TV shows are as iconic for their fashion as they are for their characters and storylines. Social media challenges like TikTok’s #whatidwear have a heavy focus on a select number of these shows, including Friends, Gossip Girl, and Euphoria. But if you’re looking for some new TV style inspiration, I recommend checking out these three shows while they're still streaming on major platforms.

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